“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective”-Ernest Hemingway
I’ve been away from the raiding game for exactly4 resets now. I’m a hardcore player that leads a guild with raid bosses left on the table to finish. At 11/12 Heroic Icecrown and normal mode Halion, we decided to go on a pre-Cataclysm raiding vacation.
- Lack of Skill
None of those apply, actually. It’s a complicated topic that I decided not to write about until a month after because I felt like I lacked the perspective to really reflect on the decision made by myself and the officer corps just a short month and a half ago.
There are so many things that played into it. In many ways, this decision has been six years in the making.
When it comes to being an officer in a Warcraft Guild, bloggers talk about it, but they don’t really talk about it. If that doesn’t make sense (probably not), let me explain.
We are in one of the oddest positions in gaming. We make decisions that direct how people spend their leisure time. People come home from work or school, sit down at their computer, and then ask me what we’re going to be doing tonight. I remember, in vivid detail, the first time that I ever called a raid. It was Serpentshrine Cavern. We were short 3 or 4 people, and I had to send everyone away for the evening. I sat online for the rest of the night hating myself, and vowed to do everything I can to stop that from happening ever again.
As a person, you feel personally responsible for ruining someone’s fun (which is never fun for you, hopefully). You’re the one that’s in charge of getting people into the raid in the first place. There’s a reason I’ve devoted a lot of time to studying and writing about guild recruitment and roster management. It’s so important and yet so often overlooked that when you get down to it, there’s ~20 real people that are taking time out of their evening to sit down and kick it inside a raid instance. It’s also one of the reasons that I loathed the dependence on badge income for Tier 10: too much undue stress on raid leaders.
But we take it on gladly. Certain people with certain personalities. It all works.
We met as officers, and as friends, on more than one occasion to address the gorilla that weaseled its way into the room. This gorilla was aptly named Arthas, Heroic. While working on getting icebound frost wyrms, we skipped an end-wing boss or two to get achievements. This meant that the Ultimate Encounter was not available for us to try for a reset or two, but we never really sat down and talked about it.
Until we did.
I listen to a lot of raiding podcasts, read a lot of raiding blogs, and talk to a lot of raiding people in real life. It’s a big extended family for me. As we were pushing for more drakes and more heroic kills, many of the members of the guilds attached to the aforementioned parties were just getting their first Kingslayer titles. It made me step back and say outloud: “Wow!” I wasn’t wow-ing in a “lol casuals!” way, it was a “wow, these guys are so happy!” reaction. Honestly, I was really happy for them. Hearing the shout-outs on The Instance of “Grats on killing Arthas!” made me smile a bit. I remember when we killed Arthas back when the buff had recently ticked to 10%, we were happy but not content.
Four months later we were ready to take on the second, more epic version, of Arthas. Or were we?
Summer is what summer is. I’ve been raid leading a long time, and I’ve planned for and dealt with the Summer lull many times including this expansion when we lead the server in progression through Tier 8. Something was different though. It’s one of those feelings that you know everyone is feeling, but are afraid to really address it straight up.
So we had our meeting. We talked about what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished, and what was left to accomplish in this expansion. The short version: we decided to take the easy path on Vixsin’s Arthas, Heroic flow chart.
Was it burnout?
Did we plan poorly for the Summer and for further progression?
Are we good enough to even do the boss?
None of those came up because they didn’t apply. We were just done with the expansion.
The bottom line, like everything in WarCraft, came down to numbers. We have been playing this game for 6 years. Six. Years. (personally 4 and a half). The last 3 and a half years I’ve spent ~4 nights (and a lot of times 5, 6, and 7) in a raiding instance. During that time we managed to accomplish a lot of things from server firsts to high ranking US kills, to consistently solid progression instance to instance.
It was time to just step back. Reflect. Assess.
I’ve had that meeting that Wrathy talked about it in a recent post more times than I can even count. What can we do? How should we recruit? Let’s define some better officer roles. Do we have the proper raid comp? What classes do we target? This time we decided that after weighing all of that, the outcome would be too negative to justify the kill. Instead we decided that we would tie up a few loose ends, and give ourselves a long deserved raiding break before the next expansion.
Below is a snippet out of a nearly 1400 word post announcing this decision:
To those out there that were geeked to go for Heroic Lich King, and really wanted to trick their gear sets out to the max, I apologize again as both a raid leader and fellow teammate. In a way I feel like I let down those that really wanted to go all the way to the top and finish this off. The reason that I’m making this post now instead of after the above two goals are completed [is] because it is not in my nature to further mislead anyone as to our intentions.
In a way, this is harder for me to do than simply keep recruiting, keep pushing. It’s a burden that I’ve taken on in the past because I welcome the pressure. The problem this time around is that my actions affect gameplay in a much more negative fashion than in previous content. The break before Cataclysm will serve as a time for everyone to take a step back and reflect on what has been a truly amazing 17 months of raiding.
Reflecting is something that I’ve never been real good at doing. It’s always a battle of “what’s the next raid instance?” “what are the strats?” “what are we doing this week?” “what’s our server ranking?” and you never really take a step back and really look at what you’ve done, what your goals are, and your intentions.
Not deciding to recruit, avoiding the challenge, and stepping back away from raiding for a few months runs counter to almost everything I write about here. The world of the average raider, the soldier, the grunt, the line cook is unaffected by these changes. There will always be players out there that want to go after heroic lich king or raid in a 25 man raid or whatever challenging encounter comes next.
The trick is finding the raid leaders that want to tackle those challenges. For whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right this time. Twin Emperors, C’thun, Lady Vashj, Kael’thas, Archimonde, Sunwell, Anub’arak. Whenever we finally conquered Sindragosa and got those last hanging achievements for our drakes, it was time to tap out.
Uncle. You got me.
Before you break my arm and I can never fight again, let’s just stop now and I’ll be back for the next bout more prepared than ever.
Is that burnout? Maybe it is in the technical sense, but I’m not really burned out. I still play throughout the week on multiple toons. The difference this time was that I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice more of the players I raid with to actual burnout for just one.more.boss.
Goals & The Future
I left this expansion beyond satisfied for the first time in a long time despite not checking off the final two hard modes. I never got to do much in vanilla Naxx on my own and finished Sunwell post 3.0. Wrath of the Lich King feels complete. It ended sooner because, psychologically, it just started to feel like a big hustle to me.
Kill this boss. Ok, we added 2 mechanics and bumped the numbers. Kill it again. I dare you. Sorry, but one can only ignore the man behind the curtain for so long before the noise of the levers he’s pulling overtake the show in front of him.
“Waaaa, cry more, Borsk. Woe is you.”
So be it.
My final two goals of the expansion were to get a Halion kill and to get every last one of our raiders an Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher. With the help of every raider and numerous F&F members, we accomplished both of those goals. I was not going to leave this expansion with someone missing their 310 speed mount from this instance. It just wasn’t going to happen, and I’m glad that we knocked out all of the achievements while continuing to complete the instance on majority hard-mode.
When I log on to help out a 10 man, GDKP run, or just to shoot the shit in guild chat, players from other guilds ask what the deal is with . Are we dead? Why did we stop raiding? Are we starting up again in Cataclysm? The answer is yes, we are. Am I worried that players won’t return and will quit the game because of this layoff? Not really.
That sounds a little harsh/arrogant, but it’s just the truth. Is it right of me to keep scheduling raids just to obligate folks to show up and not quit? Shouldn’t people stick around just because they want to play? Because they like the game? If everyone decides in the months off that WoW was no longer the game for them, I would respect that decision. Just as they respected mine.
In the end we all have time now to pursue other hobbies. For me it’s been a lot of movies, hockey (finally back playing competitively), and StarCraft 2. For others it’s been raiding on horde or with other guilds. It’s a weird feeling not being tied to anything. The good thing is that everyone is getting to do what they want to do.
Cataclysm is going to be a big change and a new challenge for our officers and raiding crew. I’m looking forward to watching everyone continue on in Wrath of the Lich King and accomplish their personal goals, and continue to offer my commentary on shamans and healing as I wait for my beta key (*chuckle*). It’s been awhile between posts here and I definitely want to change that.
It turns out I always have too much to say. 😉