Saturday, March 25, 2023

Yuppies Redux

I was minding my own business, just mining a little ore here and there on Linnawyn, during the primary raiding time for the server, when the whisper came in.

"Hey," it began as it slipped into a practiced sales pitch, "We're a mid-core guild and in need of a Ret Pally for our raid team."

I kind of zoned out when I read the rest of the pitch --I think there was even a mention of helping Linnawyn get geared to join the team-- but I let the person finish before politely declining. 

The whisperer thanked me for being polite, wished me luck, and moved on.

It was only a few minutes later when the thought struck me: how did this person know Linna was a Retribution Paladin? Did I run an instance with them, group up for a quest, or do something else with them in some capacity? I mean, why whisper Linna when there are a ton of Ret Paladins out there on the server? The current Meta dictates that you bring only one Retribution Paladin onto a 25 person raid, so it shouldn't be hard to come up with a body.*

"Oh right," I muttered. "The Tacotip addon."

There it is in its full glory.
Kind of innocuous, isn't it?
From Twitter and AltertimeSK.

Tacotip is known colloquially as the GearScore addon; although there are likely other addons that will provide a GearScore (or GS for short), Tacotip is the most popular by far. While GearScore is the reason why most people will use Tacotip, it can also inspect a player's talents and determine what Spec they are playing as. 

I finally broke down and added Tacotip simply because I wanted to see why Linnawyn was not getting into to a lot of Heroic 5-person dungeon runs. As she was then a newly minted max level toon, the easiest and best way to get some decent gear was to run 5-person Heroic instances. It's not like they're that difficult these days anyway, compared to when we had to re-acquaint ourselves with Heroics in Wrath Classic. But outside of a few runs here and there, I was simply getting no takers, and I couldn't figure out why. 

Then I saw her GearScore: 2000 (ish).

Not exactly a surprise, mind you, given that she was still in gear from quests and some Wrath Classic Normal dungeons, but when people are posting in LFG GearScores of 4000 or more** for Heroic runs people will select the more overpowered player.

Since Tacotip allows another person to actually inspect a player to verify their GearScore and class spec, anybody could check me out to see if I was halfway decent --gearwise-- before they whispered me.

And there's the meta fueled Ret Paladin stigma.


Back when I ran Wrath the first time in 2009-2010, I never saw such a stigma toward Ret Paladins. I didn't raid back then, mind you, but I never had a problem pulling my weight in a dungeon. Even when I wasn't geared, and given that I only ran dungeons meant I was undergeared for a lot of Wrath, I never felt shunned over my class and spec combination. But now, in the era of the meta, Ret Paladins are like Frost Mages: Kryptonite to PvE group content.***

So rather than get annoyed even more than I was before, I decided to run battlegrounds to get some gear. And for me, "battlegrounds" meant Alterac Valley.

I figured the gear from running AV would be enough for a starting point, even if it wasn't the highest current PvP gear available. That gear was reserved for people who run arenas, but I knew that already. What I didn't know was that due to changes in how PvP works in Wrath Classic, PvP weapons where reserved only to those running arenas and with a set Arena score threshold. 

If I want a weapon and didn't want to run arenas, I had to either farm weapons via Heroic or Heroic Plus 5-person dungeons... or raid.

Sometimes you can't make shit up.

So I decided that rather than deal with the GearScore crowd I was gonna live with the frumpy ol' weapon I got in a normal 5-person dungeon. At least until the next Arena season drops and I can then get that PvP weapon from the consignment shop.

The thing looks like some sort of
weird cross between a viking/Vrykul
ship and a hacksaw.


I was mentioning this encounter to my questing buddy and she asked me if it was a guild she knew. I'm pretty sure she'd seen the guild name around, but I was reluctant to mention this particular guild name. I don't really have a beat on their reputation, and I've never really had any interactions with them before either. Finally, this hasn't been the first time since our little 10 person raid team broke up that I've been the subject of a recruitment pitch, but the only time I've mentioned it.

"If they tried to recruit you like that," she observed, "odds are good it's not likely a raid you want to run with anyway."

"That's what I was thinking," I replied.

My questing buddy has already joined another raid --our friend Jes' Friday/Saturday night pug raid-- and she made a desultory attempt to recruit me, but I turned it down. I know that Jes probably runs her raid the way I'd like it to be run, but I've seen who joins the raid and on more than one occasion that's included people from the franken guild that I don't care to group with ever again.

Besides, Ulduar hasn't grabbed my imagination, and the naked pursuit of gear and the meta has soured me on raiding in general on Atiesh-US. I lived through the 80s and the Yuppie culture once already, and I've no desire to relive it in a virtual world.


I think the crux of the matter is that there's no true sliding scale concerning raiding in WoW Classic. People gravitate toward either the hardcore or the "tourist" raids --embodied in WoW Retail with Mythic on one end and LFR**** on the other-- and raid teams that start in the "mushy middle" have the hardest time keeping personnel as they leave for both directions (mostly toward hardcore). Raiding in WoW Classic with Valhalla was a fortuitous turn of events for me as I got to see all of the content, but I also got to see it in a hardcore environment that didn't feel like one because I was in a class in demand (Mage). Once the veneer was stripped off in TBC Classic and I started over with a another toon with a different class I realized just what it meant to be hardcore, particularly when I no longer have the physical skills to be as hardcore as my class demands. 

"...So speed run practices become expert practices, and, well, over the course of years, that cooks your brain. Classic ought to have been our salvation from this; after all, the content doesn't demand the kind of optimization we've been discussing, not by a long shot. And yet it's gone the other way. Wrath of the Lich King Classic has become a nightmare of instrumental practices. Yes, it's not difficult, but the difficulty isn't the appeal, instead it's about going about this process perfectly. To be good at Classic is to learn and adopt the right practices. To play the right class as the right race, with the best professions; to level the quickest, get server first, to get that Shadowmourne you never got back in the day. In some cases, it seems really weird. It's like reliving high school. This time you're gonna pick better electives, be cooler, bet on the Cubs in 2016, and smash when you got the chance.*****

At the launch of Classic these practices existed but they were largely invisible. By definition it did not mean anything to you that some guys were in Molten Core while you were in Wailing Caverns. Whatever. But after you quit Classic at Level 47, these players, they stuck around. And they established the practices of what it meant to play Classic. This process of riding the curve to the greatest extent possible, it's not the exception, it's the rule."
--From It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft by Folding Ideas, at 1:02:37.

It's not just a matter of me saying that people who are better than me are "hardcore" or "no lifers" --although the effort it takes to really 'get gud' can be quite astonishing at times#--

This meme (from Pinterest and all over)
will live on forever.

it's more about the ostentatious lifestyle that this method of play promotes that makes me want to reject it. "Lifestyles of the Max Geared and Achievement Driven" hosted by Rhonin of Dalaran isn't what I had in mind when I went to go play WoW Classic, but wandering around Dalaran or Shattrath (in TBC Classic) and seeing the people showing off their mounts or their gear makes me feel... Hmm...

Well, not like high school, like Dan Olson of Folding Ideas suggested, but a high school reunion instead: you're showing off how successful you were, how awesome your spouse is, how great your body is via exercise and/or plastic surgery, and you have pics of your kids/pets/house/cars/vacation/whatever just to show off that you did something with your life rather than being the person stuck in a compartment marked "Loser" for the past 10 or 20 years.## Here you are, years after original Wrath, showing off your Time Lost Proto-Drake or Scarab Lord mount in Dalaran that you never got back then. 

Ah, Yuppie Drone. An 80s novelty classic.
"I love my car and house..."

I'm as guilty as the next person, since I'd like to finish the Loremaster achievement for the Alliance side and tool around Dalaran with that title. At the same time I very much prefer my anonymity, so even if I got my Loremaster achievement I'd probably never display it. I derive more satisfaction in completing the task rather than the trappings of doing so. Cardwyn and I are very much alike in that regard.  

Fair point.

Yet at the same time, becoming a tourist isn't exactly what I had in mind. I don't mind being in that mushy middle if I can find the right place for me, and where I don't have my in-game life defined by raiding. Or whether I like it or not, how other people in the raid define that raiding. I'm extremely wary of group content these days, not because of the content itself### but rather those who comprise the groups. I'm not so wedded to seeing the content that I'd do whatever it took to see the content --and no, before you ask, I wouldn't care to try LFR if it existed in Classic just to see the raids-- but it would be nice if the meta weren't so dominant in WoW Classic --and video games in general-- these days. 

If there was one thing that I swore I'd never become, it was a Yuppie. I haven't become one in real life, and I sure as hell won't become one in a virtual world either.

*And for a 10 person raid, you can forget about bringing a Ret Paladin at all. Paladins are already covered in a 10 person raid with one of two healers (Holy Paladin) and one of two tanks (Protection Paladin), so inserting a Ret Paladin into the remaining 6 DPS slots is... No. Not gonna happen. I tried to take Linna into our little social 10 person raid, and I was told flat out that they wanted Card instead.

**To put this in perspective, Deuce ran strictly 10 person raids in Phase One, which meant she only got gear from the 10 person version of Vault of Archavon, Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, and Eye of Eternity. She'd maxed out on her gear by the end of that Phase, and her GearScore was listed as slightly higher than 4000. That was more than enough to stomp her way through most "regular" Heroic 5-person dungeons. Neve, with a GearScore of roughly 3300, has no trouble at all dealing with either "regular" Heroics or Heroic Plus. So people throwing around GS of 4400+ for just running 5 person content is the equivalent of a dick measuring exercise. 

***The irony is that in the age of the Heroic Plus, a Mage's Frost abilities have come back into vogue once more. The instant cast Ice Lance spell --no world beater on the DPS meters-- is highly critical to breaking stuns, web wraps, and other "extra" abilities mobs now have in these Heroic Plus 5-person dungeons. Call me vindicated.

****I rarely invoke LFR on the blog, but it stands for "Looking For Raid". It's the automated raid finder built into WoW Retail --it debuted in patch 4.3 during the Cataclysm expac-- and it has an extremely poor reputation among WoW players. The hardcore look at it as "easy mode", and the fight mechanics are simplified to the point where a subset of raiders could carry the rest of the raid. And from what I've been told, that frequently happens. Preach of Preach Gaming once posted a video back in 2013 where he demonstrated that an LFR raid could succeed without him doing anything at all throughout the entire raid. 

*****Uh. smash when I get the chance? That wasn't gonna happen. Being a geek back in the 80s kind of sealed THAT deal, particularly at the Catholic schools I went to. And if I ever were in that situation, I'm sure that Catholic guilt that every Catholic kid was imprinted with would rear its ugly head at the worst possible time. Alas for my youthful horny self.

This! Which is why I'm happy we
didn't raise our kids Catholic.
From Twitter (duh).

#I've seen my questing buddy plot for her gear, and while she's not what I'd consider hardcore she revels in the plotting and acquisition of gear with a singlemindedness that can be awe inspiring. All I can say is that if this is how she went after her husband, he didn't stand a chance.

##I knew someone from grade school and high school who went to one of the reunions to prove that he made something of himself. He definitely didn't need to prove it to me, as he always wanted to be a doctor since he was a kid and became just that, with a loving wife and family, but all those people who picked on him or dismissed him were his target. I happened to run into him at a game store some weeks after the event, and he told me all about how everyone finally got the comeuppance he'd so wanted. He also added that my name came up more than once during the reunion, as in "I was hoping Red would be here so I could see him again," and he was very blunt with the people who asked: "You're never going to see Red at one of these. Red holds grudges for a long time, and he has never forgotten how he was treated in school."

###My opinions of Ulduar notwithstanding.


  1. What's so weird about a ret in 10-man? Surely they don't all have paladin tanks and healers, considering there are three other classes that can fill those roles? In which case a ret pally would probably be nice.

    Also, I get that ret paladins are not hugely popular in general, but surely having multiple guilds try to recruit you is not being "shunned"?

    Btw, did I ever mention that I was raised Catholic and that it's the majority denomination in Austria? Your characterisation of it is kind of amusing to me because it doesn't match my experiences at all.

    1. I guess you'd be surprised at how in demand Pally Tanks and Healers are for raids. DPS-wise, Ret Pally DPS isn't as good as a lot of other classes --something I dispute, because I did quite well in 5-person instances-- but a lot of people play Ret Pallies with a one button macro which does significantly impact your DPS. Buff wise, since buffs are no longer restricted to groups in raids, raids will prefer to bring in a Shaman and Rogue over a Ret Paladin, especially if you already have two Pallies in the raid. They'll also go for 3 to 4 of a combo of Locks and Mages, and at least one Hunter. Now, if you go with a Bear tank and a DK tank, you'll want a Ret Pally who can then switch to a Prot spec at the drop of a hat for a third tanking spec. In our little raid, we did something similar where we had a Prot Pally and Bear as the two tanks, with a DK as DPS who could switch to tanking as necessary. We also had my questing buddy as a Disco Priest and a Holy Pally as the two healers, so the five left over were taken up by combination of Enh Shaman, Hunter, Boomkin Druid, 2 Locks and 2 Mages (including me). There were enough that we had a rotation of 2 people sitting each week so that everybody got a shot at taking a break and nobody constantly sat on the bench. We originally had a Rogue in place of the Boomkin, but she dropped when she got frustrated with constantly being benched on the 25 person runs and switched servers back to Myz. Later, replaced one Lock with a Hunter before everything fell apart.

      Well, as far as being shunned, I there's a difference between being recruited for 25s and and pugging for 5-person content (or Vault of Archavon). If you pug and you whisper someone who's looking for DPS, I used to either get no answer at all or a "we've already got a [Ret] Pally". This is something I never had an issue with at all with either Mage, even if there was already a Mage in the 5-person group. I found it quite easy to pug as Neve for Heroic or Heroic Plus content, even given her situation as a fresh L80, compared to what Linna had to struggle through. It was a similar situation in Classic, where Az had trouble getting into 5-person content but Cardwyn would get snapped up at the drop of a hat. That's part of the reason why she caught up to Az so quickly in the leveling process, because she managed to get into so many 5-person runs compared to the ol' Rogue.

      To me it's still weird to see people slavishly following the meta so devotedly, since I remember when Souldat (when he blogged) and Linedan from Achtung Panzercow both tanking the Lich King on their Warriors. The rotation was often harder than that of a Prot Pally or DK, sure, but they still did it effectively. But the current meta is for a Pally Tank and a DK Tank, so that's the way people go.

    2. I figured I'd break up my wall of text to make it easier here....

      I knew you were Austrian, so I kind of assumed you were raised Catholic. (Bad assumption, I know, because that's not always the case.) I still remember my Church History classes and where the break point between the Catholic South versus the Protestant North in the Holy Roman Empire was during the Wars of the Reformation. That your experience doesn't mimic mine doesn't exactly surprise me, because I've discovered that Western European Catholics (with the exception of Irish Catholics) tend to be much more liberal both socially and religiously than American Catholics. Opus Dei is very active in the US, for instance.

      American Catholics aren't a monolithic bunch --Northeastern Catholics in the New England states tend to be much more liberal than the rest of the country, for instance-- but they do tend to skew more conservative than their European brethren. There's a lot of reasons for this so I won't go into it here, but I remember living in mortal fear of the nuns at Catholic school. One nun threw a kid down the steps for laughing at her, and the rapping of your knuckles with a ruler was very much a thing. While some nuns were of the "new" variety and were rather nice, a lot of the old school nuns demanded obedience and enforced it in their classrooms like dictators. Things in Catholic schools these days aren't quite as bad, but they still emphasize the "we're better than all those other dirty unwashed heathens" and they pile on the guilt pretty heavily to keep the students in line. I believe that "better than you" is also a factor in a lot of religious schools here in the US, which operate separately from public schools.