Ever have one of those days where you want to post, your mind is telling you that you've got to post something to work out what's going on in your head, but all you can do is stare at the screen without anything coming out?
Yeah, that's been me today.
|And enjoying some Ghostlands quests|
not done in over a decade.
Well, I guess I should get the obvious out of the way: TBC Classic Phase One finished today.
Come this time tomorrow, Phase Two will be up and running, and I presume that all the top guilds will be pushing hard into SSC and The Eye. The snark in me says that in a couple of weeks the top guilds will have both raids on farm, and the those guilds will be agitating for Blizz to accelerate the release of Phase Three.*
I was chatting with a friend from another guild the other day, and when I mentioned that after this week's Monday raid we're going to be going into SSC/TK next week, she laughed and said that her guild hasn't even gotten into Gruul/Mags yet. And I know that hers isn't the only guild to do so. And from my perspective, that's fine. We're not required by some external judge to go hard on any of this to show that we're a "real" raiding team. This is something that people put on themselves.
So yes, I've been evaluating my experience in Phase One so I can get a feel for how I want to proceed in Phase Two.
- Leveling in Phase One should have been a joy, but it wasn't.
Over the past couple of months I've had quite a few people come up to me in game and tell me that they felt bad for myself and the rest of the leveling Shamans, and how we were left behind. But almost none of the people who confessed this ever said anything in game while it went on, either via whisper or out loud in Guild Chat. Individually they may have felt they were a pariah, but together they would have changed things. That none of them did tells me two things: that they were a slave to the Leveling Meta, and that they wanted to ease their guilt over what happened.
While I appreciate their comments and/or apologies, I'm not letting anybody off the hook for that shit show. I know that my griping about the leveling already cost me one in-game "friend", who apparently decided that my grumblings were too toxic and she put me on a permanent ignore. Given that she was the one who said "oh" and then vanished when I told her I wasn't attuned to heroics yet, I'm not exactly crying a river over that.
My experience leveling in Phase One need not be rehashed here, but as a result of leveling Brig to L70 I made a decision to not level another of my Alliance toons to L70 by conventional means. I don't give a rip about how "the experience is better now that the big rush is over". That there was a terrible experience in the first place is enough to sour me on the entire process. I've got 1.5 years to level Card via the Old World before Wrath Classic drops, so I'm in absolutely no hurry there. I was thinking of leveling Linna or Azshandra, but the more I think about it, the more I'm disinclined to do anything about them at all. I mean, I have a guild charter ready to go for Linna and my alts, but I have absolutely no motivation to go out and get the signatures.
- The opposite faction became a refuge.
I rekindled my joy in my first toons, Quintalan and Neve, when I grew discouraged on the leveling process. Q is still at something along the lines of L5 or so, but Neve has been roaming here and there across the Ghostlands, reveling in all of the writing that shows the entire focus of the Sindorei on the Scourge (and to a lesser extent the Amani Trolls). When I told some Alliance die hards that Blood Elf players had absolutely no idea what is happening in Outland --questwise-- until they got there, they didn't believe me. But that's the honest truth.
Think about how Blood Elves are presented in the Draenei starting zones: they are most definitely The Enemy. Ruthless, power hungry, and driven to exterminate the Draenei at all costs, they are almost completely an over the top villain. But none of that is presented at all on the Horde side. Hell, if you follow the Horde quests, you have no idea who or what Draenei even are until you get to Outland.
So Neve can be blissfully ignorant while she romps through the low level Horde zones. And for me, not having to worry about anything at all and just play has been a huge stress relief.
- I raid to live, not live to raid. That puts me at odds with quite a few people.
For me, boss kills aren't the point of raiding. Nor are the acquisition of loot and topping the meters.
I raid for the companionship. For the laughter. For the goof ups. For unexpected things that become a tradition.
Such as my stint as "Briganaa The Bookie."
In Karazhan, it's well known that the Opera selected in the Opera Event is random. What began as a one-off discussion:
"So, what do you think you'll get?"
"I'll say Oz."
"Want to bet on that?"
evolved into a full betting scheme, complete with the Loot Master (me) as the bookie. Right after killing Maiden, the discussion starts.
"Okay, time for the Opera betting. Who wants what?"
If you place a bet, the entry is 10 gold. It's all placed into a pool** and then the total is divided among all the winners.
Pretty much harmless fun, but it's something to look forward to each Friday night.
But this highlights the sort of thing that I personally enjoy about raiding. Don't get me wrong, boss kills --especially first time boss kills-- give you a rush of endorphins as you celebrate in the achievement. The thing is, however, that boss kills or getting phat loots or other things that drive the majority of progression raiders don't motivate me.
I guess I look at gear progression as a treadmill, and if you're lucky you'll get what you want just in time to have to re-gear for the next raid. I went through all this before, except it wasn't in raiding, it was in Battlegrounds. By the time you got geared up enough for a BG tier, the next tier's worth of gear would drop. And I kind of got sick of it, which is part of the reason why I stopped playing Retail WoW back in Mists.
Of course, my attitude toward gear is far more laissez-faire than just about the entire raiding team, hence the comment from a fellow guildie that "sometimes I'm too nice for my own good".
And that has now gotten me in a bit of trouble, since my gear --along with the associated lack of enchants and accepting lower priced gems-- has now landed me in a hot spot. My (lack of) DPS has drawn some attention, and I'm supposed to talk with a fellow Shaman about bringing my DPS up. Well, given that the Shaman killing it on the meters has approximately 50-75% more Strength than me, having pretty much all the Phase One BiS for Enhancement Shamans that totem twist, yeah, I'm going to look pretty bad next to them. The percentage of damage between the two of us, courtesy of the raid logs, is very similar, but the raw DPS is the difference. And without those enchants and that gear, it's gonna remain the same.
But the thing is, I wasn't gonna spend a ton of gold to get all these freaking enchants just to have them replaced in a couple of weeks. And if the replacement gear doesn't drop, then I'm stuck with my current mix of Blues and Purples. Oh yeah, the "crafted set" that is currently BiS in Phase One? Nope, I'm not busting my ass just to get it made. I got to L70 and got attuned to Karazhan, and once that was done that was the extent of my desire to go with the Meta. I'm not gonna chain run dungeons for gear, and I'm not gonna try to get every single BiS piece. This leads me to....
- I've now seen how the sausage is made, and I don't like it.
I get that some hard decisions need to be made from time to time. But that doesn't mean that I have to like the process much.
And what I've seen of the raid leadership process, I feel that something critical has been lost moving from BWL -> AQ40 -> Naxx -> TBC, and that the focus isn't so much on having fun but proving that we're "elite". That we belong with the Variance guilds of Myzrael-US.***
Discord discussions are always on how to squeeze out the last bit out of the meters, or min-maxing your way to success, or add-ons/WeakAuras to maximize your abilities. There is far less of the original friendliness that attracted me to raiding with them, and more sweatiness.
I've never bothered to say much of anything, because I did once back in late Naxx, and I discovered that I'm in the minority about the importance of sweatiness in guild. Thankfully our raid team has less sweatiness than the other one, but as time has gone on and people have left our raid team, some of the replacements have been among the sweatiest from the other raid team -- as alts. As a result, I've started seeing some of the sweat factor creeping into our raid.
And along with the sweatiness comes elitism.****
- I needed to step back, and I have. But I still feel guilty about it.
While I covered most of it in this post here, I still feel bad about not being there for people. I'm quite aware that things aren't all peaches and cream for my friends, and I really want to be there for them to help them out. That doesn't mean run instances or stuff per se, but mainly just be someone to listen to them, and a shoulder for them to cry on. To tell them that yes, they do matter. That sort of thing.
And I feel bad when I can't be there for them, even though I know it's for my own good. I guess I'm stuck with that, so I'll have to deal with it as best I can.
A lot of this stuff is general in nature, and not limited to the actions within Phase One itself, but they certainly came to the forefront in TBC Classic. I think that, taken together, means I'm kind of back on the tightrope, wondering whether to resign and go back to being an independent, and not a raider at all.
I wish I had all the answers. But the best thing for me right now is whether I can manage my self-care, and keep myself from doing something I'd later regret.
*It goes without saying, but don't read the Blizzard Forums. I visited while I was catching up on the news that APES, the guild that had the World First Ragnaros kill in Classic and also the focus of this legendary video, was disbanding. Outside of the trolls, the people whining that content wasn't being released fast enough was disheartening.
**Or "kitty". I'm from the Midwest, and if you play Michigan Rummy or other games where you have a pool, it's always called a kitty. When I pulled that name on the Raid Lead, I could almost feel the side-eye she was giving me through Discord, until another raider spoke up and said yes, that is very much a thing.
***Nox Terrorem (Horde) and Imperium (Alliance) might disagree, but Variance is the top guild on Myzrael-US.
****And yes, this is a very specific comment. Even though people involved will never read this.
EtA: Added the bold typeface that I'd missed originally, and corrected a sentence and grammatical errors.