I'm about to type a sentence that may cause gasps, heart murmurs, vapors, and a complete loss of respect for me as a hunter. Hold onto your seats.
I didn't read BRK.
Not seriously, anyway. I devoured his "lookit the shiny new things in Wrath!" videos during the beta, because I didn't get a beta key until late, and once I got in I was too busy ogling the new quest lines and scenery to pay much attention to what was actually happening to my class (lol, lore nerd). And I got as many chuckles out of a good BRK vs. Brain post as anyone else, but they had to be linked to me before I saw 'em.
It wasn't out of any lack of respect for the man or his (epic and copious) work. Everything I ever did read of his was worth reading, even if we did disagree on some major points. I just wasn't much of a blog reader until I started this one and began making friends on Twitter, and even now I barely have the presence of mind to keep up with the people I know and read.
And yet I felt the shockwave just as hard when he announced his departure. You know why? Because within a day of the announcement, every single hunter blog I read had an "OMGWTFBRK?!" post. That's the nature of such a monstrous figure in a community. When you step up and let yourself be made a public figure, when you put your thoughts and ideas and name out in front of the world, you influence people. Be it for good or bad. And if you're really, really good at it, you inspire other people to take the same steps that you did.
That is how Daniel Howell influenced me, more than any article he actually wrote. And really, I think that's his biggest influence on the hunter community in general. He was loud, boisterous, opinionated, and above all else was having so damn much fun both playing his class and writing his blog, that it made other people want to get in on it. By the time I came around to this timesink we call Azeroth a little over a year ago, there were hunter blogs all over the place. And judging by their reactions to the news, the vast majority of them followed him.
He was something of a figurehead for hunters, and more than anything else, he seemed to play the class a lot like I do. Pay enough attention to stats and numbers and technique to make sure you aren't shortchanging yourself or your raid... then go in balls-out, guns a-blazin' and shoot the crap out of something. Pew to the motherfucking pew, bitches!
There's a reason this blog of mine is so ill maintained right now -- my fear. Fear of the rejection and dislike from others that I know BRK and many other prominent WoW bloggers have faced. I'm still screwing up the courage to learn how to put my thoughts and ideas out, no matter how much better they might have been said by someone else. It's that courage that makes a really good blogger -- and it's as an example of that courage, more than any amount of theorycrafting or number crunching, that Big Red Kitty was the 800-pound gorilladin of hunter blogs.
So here's one more farewell from the other side of the fence. Lok'tar ogar, soldier; may the spirits be with you, and your ancestors guide your path.