Ever since the Grove Warden mount came to World of Warcraft, players around the world have noticed the efforts of Andrew “Zelse” Lewin and his partners in an endeavor that they call Friendship Moose. As time runs out for those who haven’t yet killed Archimonde on Heroic difficulty, we turned the Community Spotlight on Zelse to learn more about him and his unique crusade to maximize the number of people riding this mystical moose around Azeroth.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience before the Grove Warden?
A: I’ve played World of Warcraft off and on since Vanilla. Raiding was generally my main focus in the game and I wanted to be one of the best. I got a taste of that with two world firsts in Naxxramas 40 and later 10-person Heroic Lich King. As I got older, I started to realize that it wasn't my progression that was the most important thing, but the Warcraft community as a whole. The friends that I made, interactions with the community, and helping those in need is what truly made the Warcraft community special. I wanted to give something back.
Q: What was special about the Grove Warden mount for you?
A: When the Grove Warden was announced, I found it difficult to get into raids in Group Finder, even with my Mythic raiding experience and correct ilvl. After some perseverance with many groups, I finally came across a group where we killed Heroic Archimonde and I got my mount. Something was bothering me, though. If someone of my raiding background was struggling to find groups, how must those who rarely raid or those with little time to raid get a chance at the Grove Warden? In Mists of Pandaria, I ran about 13–15 raids a week on OpenRaid as a Staff Raid Leader, which included both achievement and Heroic raid clears to help the community earn mounts and experience content. I felt that it was again time to do something, and that is when I learned about #FriendshipMoose.
Q: So the Twitter hashtag started with someone else?
A: Yes. It was created by @Thomicks. He had an idea to help people gear through Hellfire Citadel and eventually kill Heroic Archimonde. I thought it was an awesome idea and I wanted to take part in it to help the community. Since I was already geared after my first kill on Archimonde and knew that not everyone always had time, I had a different approach that I wanted to take with Friendship Moose, which was to bring people in just for the Heroic kill.
Q: How did it go?
A: I think the biggest surprise to me was the amount of help and support I got with Friendship Moose. When I started, there were only a few active raiders that I knew. The biggest challenge for me would be finding people that would be willing to help. However, numerous people and guilds offered to help with these raids. On top of that, I met some really wonderful new friends. A large number of people have reached out to me and said how much this restored their faith to the World of Warcraft community. It makes me happy to know that we are able to help so many in the community.
Q: Can you give us some statistics?
A: My group has been able to help 3,035 people get their moose over 320 completed raids. We’ve done one 24-hour event and one 12-hour event, and there is another 24-hour event being planned. Combined with other groups, Friendship Moose has been able to help nearly 5,000 people get their moose via nearly 500 raids. A special thanks is in order for the other coordinators: AutomaticJak, HolyZorea, Nightswifty, Stephnoob, Xyronic, and every member of their teams that have assisted in the runs. I’m extremely thankful to be a part of this with all of them.
Q: Do you have any thoughts about the future for Friendship Moose?
A: I’ve been asked this a lot. The community is aware that eventually the moose will no longer be obtainable, so Friendship Legion is a guild that I created on Cenarius (NA) that is open to all. Instead of focusing on progression raiding, which was my initial goal for Legion, I’ll be helping the community experience Legion content first hand. This can include world dailies, dungeons, challenge modes, LFR, Normal/Heroic raiding, and of course, reward mounts.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: The Warcraft community is very special. Whether you're Alliance or Horde, whether you prefer PvE, PvP, or even RP, each and every one of us have found something in this community. Each and every one of you has the power to make change within this community, regardless of how small it might be. Like anything, we’re going to experience both ups and downs. What we must never forget is that no matter how different we are or how different our playstyles might be, we all make up the Warcraft community, and we can make it a positive one—something to always remember—and something we can look back on and say, "I was and always will be a part of a great community."
Our deepest thanks goes to Zelse for everything he’s done for the World of Warcraft community. You can get in touch with him via email or on Twitter, or check out his Twitch stream.
Happy moose hunting!