Crossroads

Things have been quiet lately, here at the blog. Not apologizing for that… just acknowledging it. I know that there are people who regularly read what I have to say, and I’m grateful to you. The truth is, I’ve not said anything lately because I haven’t known how to say what I want to say… (the BBB post notwithstanding: that was a special circumstance, where distractions fell by the wayside in lieu of “I need to write this – now”).

There’s a reason that things have been quiet. There’s been something of a small cataclysm within my raid team lately, personnel-wise. It’s something that I won’t talk about in detail on the blog. The personnel changes don’t specifically pertain to me – I’m still there, with the other members of the core – but they have hit me very close to home nonetheless. And so we’ve gone from a team rolling with the changes to a team trying to rebound from some big changes.

Changes, meaning defections. Or, rather, abandonments.

By my count, we’ve lost eight people (more if I include substitutes) since we started raiding in November 2012. In business terms, we’ve had more than 80% turnover in the past year. This isn’t an entirely accurate number, since there is one tank position and 3 DPS positions that have been constant since the very first week. But if we had gone through that many people at the company I work for, it would be classified as more than 80% turnover. And it’s a lot of turnover.

Nonetheless, in World of Warcraft, on a “casual guild” level, it’s not necessarily unexpected. People come and go. It’s the nature of the game.

However, there is a personal nature to several of these departures. While Roy and Ben left of their own accord (Roy simply retired from the game; Ben left to go to dental school), I have a hard time not feeling responsible for others leaving. I can’t necessarily prove that I am responsible… but I find myself feeling guilty about them all the same, and all I can do is play on and try to contribute, in spite of all of that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that people left – and if it wasn’t one of the two above-named peeps, it was mainly because of substitution issues**, which is also a common thing around the game.

**In a conversation recently, Squid noted that most of these issues would have been moot if Flexible-Normal had rolled out with MoP instead of WoD. If that had been the case, we likely wouldn’t have lost a few of our teammates along the way.

The most recent cases of abandonment have seriously left us in the lurch. It has now been three weeks since we killed Nazgrim in 10N, and we haven’t been back. On Blizzcon weekend, we killed the first seven bosses in one night with some friendly substitutes from around the server, and had to cancel the second night due to lack of attendance. This past weekend, courtesy of Somb and his affinity for OQueue, we killed Malkorok through Siegemaster Blackfuse with 10-12 people in Flex…

…And, you know what? We had more fun than we’ve had in weeks and weeks, and weeks. We brought seven of our normal peeps – the most recent defectors had weeded themselves out. Sunday night, the seven of us joined with three friendly peeps from Uldaman-US and an extra healer, and spent a short evening learning the Siegemaster fight. And – I’ll be honest – it felt really good to get that kill. We had a good time, communicated well, learned the fight, made adjustments… and it felt like progression. And there was no drama.

I’ll confess, there were things about this past raid weekend that were awesome, and things that sucked on a personal level. We had fun and made progress – 12/14 flex, with 4 new bosses down that we’ve never seen before – but the gear thing…

Yeah… I know I’m probably alone on my team in this way, but I’ve only got two pieces as low as 540 (base ilvl) right now. So, while the Flex kills are very rewarding – and I did have fun getting them – there’s really almost no gear that I want out of Flex.

I find that I’ve got that typical “I’d like to bring my alt” feeling creeping in from time to time when it comes to Flex. I certainly don’t make it an issue, because I can help the team most, 99.99% of the time, by bringing my hunter. But there is still a nagging feeling that I’m overgearing it… and so I think, “hey, I could bring my resto druid; she could use the gear, but is already geared enough to contribute…” which is something that is, at this point, somewhat hard-wired into our brains as raiders, as the carrot on the stick that makes raiding that much more special on a personal-character level.

Of course, that’s all silly: my favorite toon is Mushan, and I love playing him, and my team probably needs him more than it needs the druid. And I had no problems playing him in Flex. I’m just saying there’s that itch to bring the druid…

(anyway…)

(OK, it’s gone… for now…)

Ultimately, killing those four new bosses was progression for us. It was fun and rewarding on an achievement level. But the fact remains that there are relationships that have been harmed as a result of recent events – and that sucks.

And that’s why it’s been quiet here lately. While I can speak in generalities and evasively, as I have in this post, I have otherwise not really known what to say. And the “has affected me personally” thing has really affected me enormously, to the point where I’ve been considering taking an indefinite sabbatical from the game itself. Any thought of blogging about WoW has been out-shined by all of these raid-related things that have affected me so. And so, while I’ve come to WordPress with fully-completed posts over the past week or so (twice, before this one) where I address Warlords of Draenor, I haven’t been able to polish and publish them. Every time I’ve tried to do so, I’ve found myself attempting to instead avoid despair and inner conflict regarding the subject (which drives me away from the keyboard and to some other activity, for my own emotional well-being), as well as trying to avoid saying something that I could regret later. And those feelings are not going to magically go away for a while yet.

At any rate, I’ve pulled into my shell a little bit, lately. I’m leveling a new hunter. I’d like to talk more about him later. I’m raiding whatever my friends can raid. But I don’t know what the future holds, beyond the start of the next xpac. At this point, I’m taking it little bit by little bit, enjoying the company of my friends and doing other things as the spirit moves me.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

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6 Comments on “Crossroads”

  1. R says:

    Suggestion to scratch the alt itch in Flex… formalize a guideline as a group to either bypass the itch or scrach it in a group-friendly and consistent way.

    One example…

    Any plan to bring an alt have to be communicated to the RL 24hrs+ in advance of the raid so they can be sure the group will succeed for each wing.

    For flex wings that you don’t have any potential issues with (likely the first, at least), anyone can bring an alt to fill the same role they’re currently in as long as they’ll perform well enough* (* “and we reserve the right to mock you good-naturedly, yet mercilessly, if you don’t”). If they want to switch roles as well they have to arrange with someone in that role to switch to theirs (see 24hr notice note below).

    For farm wings that have some potential for disaster (stupid Shaman), find out who’s interested in bringing alts and rotate them weekly, 1 tank/healer and 2-3 dps per week (depending on how good your mains are, 3 if they’re awesome, 2 if not).

    For progression wings (not bosses, I’d discourage switches between bosses, you want players to be warmed up on the toon they’ll be progressing on) everyone sticks to their main.

    You could also toss a bit of disincentive into the mix… anyone bringing in an alt who gets loot (yep, I know it’s individual loot) contributes 1K to the guild bank per item whether it’s an upgrade or not. A token amount but even that’ll help pay for repairs and flasks and whatever else you provide. Waived if someone has to switch due to comp issues or such, of course.

    Having some sort of guideline should help scratch the itch (getting alts in there occasionally) while minimizing the itch annoyance when it can’t happen (this isn’t my week or this is a progression wing, it just isn’t an option) and the guilt when you do (it’s in the guidelines!!). And at least while personal loot is the only option in Flex, you aren’t costing the group any gear. The guideline would have to be tweaked in a master looter scenario, of course, probably just by prioritizing mains (main or off spec both) over alts (regardless, mains first even for off-spec).

    Personally, I love running my alts when it’s convenient and I generally enjoy running with other players’ alts, especially when they’re switching to a different role… when you only know someone as an uber hunter, it can be interesting/instructive/scary/hilarious to see them tanking or healing. Or melee dpsing, for that matter. SPLAT. Snicker.

  2. Erinys says:

    Unfortunately I think that’s what you describe is a common casualty of Blizzard playing around trying to get the perfect raid size/difficulty. Hopefully things will improve for you moving forward into the next expansion.

    • Mushan says:

      Thanks Erinys. We’ll see what happens. As I look back, I can think of several instances where we might not have lost someone over the past year, and how we might possibly have a much larger base of raiders now. It’s definitely a common thing… but it’s starting to wear on me. Hopefully we will go upward and onward from here!

  3. Quelys says:

    I guess you take the good with the bad, keep adding to your awesome core group and destroy ALL the things!!


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