I’ve known for a while now that I wanted to do a post on Challenge Modes. In fact, I have about 5 drafts of posts on the topic that I started, and then decided weren’t really what I wanted to say. I’d debated writing a resto perspective of them, but Hamlet has already done a great job of that, and I don’t really have much more to add in that regard. I debated writing a comparison of my experiences between my shaman and my druid – but then realized that is colored by the experience gained in my first efforts making the second efforts seem easier. And so I sat pondering what I really wanted to say about challenge modes – about exactly why I find them so fantastic.
And today it hit me. I was at physical therapy, chatting with a new therapist because my regular one was on vacation, and there it was. A blog post writing itself in my head.
You see, back during vanilla, when I had the misfortune to be both a night elf and a hunter, I was one of the first people on our server to have completed and obtained Rhok’delar. I was so proud of that bow. I worked hard to obtain it. I researched each of those demons, I had pots, I had wing clip, I had that damn sinew from Onyxia taking up my bag space. I was ready to go and started after those demons with a vengeance…then I hit Winterspring and I learned I was terrible at kiting. No, really. I’m not exaggerating here. I was awful. I couldn’t jump shot if you sat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on my desk and told me it was a reward for when I got to the end – you’d simply have ended up with soupy ice cream. And that is just a shame. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently I decided to pick up Diablo 3 again. I hadn’t played it in a quite awhile, and when I had stopped it wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, but rather because I had a flare with my hands and the Diablo controls were pretty hard on them. But now that I’m not spending a lot of time playing as much WoW and abusing my hands with raiding, dailys and whatnot there, I figured I’d check out the many changes that were made in Diablo (most of which I really like!).
It’s been so long since I’ve played, and there have been so many changes, that I found myself pretty lost. While the spec I was running when I stopped playing is still serving me very well, a little bit of research has shown me that other specs may now be more viable. That being said, I don’t know if some of the more popular specs really fit my preferred playstyle so I’m toying around with meshing what I like about my spec into what I like about those specs and seeing how it works for me. Anyhow, because I felt so out of touch, I decide to simply restart inferno from scratch and play my way through again. I’m at the point in act two where I’ve finished assembling Zultan Khule and I need to go meet his treacherous, double crossing self. In the process I’ve found three legendaries (two of which I am pretty sure are rubbish) and gained three and a half paragon levels. Not too shabby.
Since I have decided to pick the game back up, Brade also decided to update his and resume playing again as well. We generally had a lot of fun playing together and I imagine that once his schedule settles down (and I’ve finished my current play through), we will pair up for shenanigans again. One of the topics that came up while we were discussing some of the changes was the auction house (not the real money one, which we’ve never used, just the gold one). He made a statement that he thought the game would have been more fun without the addition of the auction house – and I tend to agree with him.
As such, I wanted to explore that thought a little bit – but break it down into two areas: The dominance of the Auction House “game” and the subsequent loss of community by virtue of the convenience of the auction house. Read the rest of this entry »
I haven’t given up on the blog here and I’ve been meaning to post for awhile and every time I sit down to write I just got…distracted. I couldn’t even tell you by what – just that I’ve started this post probably no fewer than five times, and I somehow couldn’t manage to find the words that fill the page. I know it’s not the best of excuses, but none the less it is what I’ve got to offer. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I don’t think I’m quite ready to be done with this blog. I probably won’t post with as much frequency as I once did, and my topics may vary more than they have in the past (although, they were pretty wide spread to begin with!). So, I am sure you are wondering why, if I am going to keep blogging, I haven’t posted in a month. The truth is that after we stopped raiding, I spent a lot of time not really doing any gaming. I’d log in, and then decide I’d rather be doing something else – which meant I’d log right back out. And I’m not going to lie, there was a few weeks that I questioned if I’d even keep logging in.
Adjusting to the Casual Side of WoW
If I am being honest, once my raid schedule was gone, and subsequently my obligations in the game, I felt a little lost. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I knew that I had a whole laundry list of things that I wanted to accomplish, yet when I logged in I felt…displaced. The only real goal I had was to have fun. And yet it seemed so abstract and convoluted and I questioned if it was even possible to meet that goal anymore.
The truth is I was simply having a hard time adjusting to no longer being part of something that defined my WoW career for eight years. I didn’t (and don’t) have regrets about it – I just didn’t know where I fit in anymore. How to spend my time or what I wanted to do with that time. This, subsequently, meant that I was finding other (less confusing) things to do with my free time and spending less time in WoW while I worked it out in my head-space. Read the rest of this entry »
Do you know what has always amazed me so much about Jim Croce? The fact that a voice like his comes from a mustache like that! Okay, okay – I’m (half) joking! It’s the way that so many of his songs really hit home. I sit and listen to the lyrics, and I can pair almost any significant event in my life to a Jim Croce Song. I am not really sure how I came to really know him as an artist, as I would consider the 80’s my decade, but somehow I came across his music at some point in my youth and couldn’t get enough. I bet I had his greatest hits album on loop in my car in college for almost a full year. (Well…that and Graceland. I can’t help it, I love Paul Simon!).
Anyhow, if you aren’t familiar with the work of Jim Croce I would encourage you to do yourself the favor of looking him up and blocking out an hour or so to really listen to what he is saying when he sings. Seriously. It will be time well spent, and if you don’t tear up at least once you simply aren’t human. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been pretty quiet here the last month or so, and I’m not entirely sure what to say about the silence. The truth is that when I created this blog, it was supposed to be a venue for me to express my thoughts, frustrations and cleanse my mind. Unfortunately, as more people started reading my blog, I stopped using it as much to do something that was very healthy for me, due to adverse reactions from some people in my guild and people getting upset. Which is unfortunate, because it was a wonderful venue to think through things that were challenging and frustrating me and I needed to work through – and I want, no need, to return it to that. Over the past six months my blog became a lot less personal, and as a result my internal thoughts a lot more crowded.
So, in the interest of getting back to my roots (pun intended!), this post is going to be personal.
This past Monday Brade and I disbanded the raid team in Monolith. It was not without hurt feelings and controversy – and I will not be surprised if someone childishly (and most likely cowardly) posts hurtful things in the comments to this post (which I reserve the right to monitor and remove). But the truth is that it was long past time. Back at the end of Cataclysm Brade and I discussed at length, over the course of several months, shutting down the raid team. Ultimately, after much back and forth, we made the decision to continue for one more expansion. We thought Mists had promise – and many of the things that were weighing on our minds, and most personal conflicts, seemed resolved. So it was with enthusiasm that we pushed forward.
Unfortunately, once we got into the expansion it became clear that those resolutions were not permanent, and many of the things that made us question continuing on into the expansion resurfaced, and seemingly multiplied. It was disappointing, but because we are stubborn and committed we put our heads down and continued to push on. We don’t quit simply because things are hard – we have over eight years of success to back that statement up.
But then, on January 2nd, as I was driving into work, this happened:
I was driving my normal route, moving with the flow of traffic, when my car hit an ice patch on an elevated part of highway and I lost control of the vehicle. It did one of those scary spin around things before hitting a car entering from an entrance ramp and getting hit by the car that was travelling in the lane next to me. Fortunately for me I drive into work early in the morning, before rush hour traffic is in full force. And that the bus behind me had time to react and stop before plowing into me as well. And that I purchased a car with a very high safety rating, and a bajillion airbags.
I walked away with a minor concussion (a bump on my head about the size of an orange), pretty beat up (they took xrays of my knee to make sure it wasn’t broken) and extremely shaken. Driving to work today, with the weather in the same conditions as it was the day of the accident, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I drove like a grandma, and just about every other car on the highway passed me, but I made it to work in one piece and imagine I will be a little less scared next time.
Anyhow, the accident had a profound effect on my thoughts. It’s strange how one, very scary, thing can make you see things more clearly. Things I had been struggling with, were now crystal. The fact was that Monolith’s environment had morphed into something completely unrecognizable, and completely unenjoyable for a lot of people – including myself. I realized this was no longer the guild that Brade and I had decided to fight to hold onto, and we no longer wanted to see it continue to degrade. Attrition was high – for any number of reasons – mostly real life. And community was almost non-existent. After a blow out on Sunday night, Brade and I spent a lot of time discussing this, and after Brade fell asleep I stayed awake with my thoughts.
The truth is, life is simply too short to do things where the enjoyment doesn’t outweigh the stress, and to surround yourself with people who make you feel bad about yourself and miserable. My car accident was a trigger to make me finally acknowledge this. I realized that I want to write my history in more than pixels, and I want more than regrets on the pages. And letting Monolith’s community degrade to the point that it was a shadow of what we had worked so hard to create was a regret I didn’t want.
Upon announcing that we were disbanding the raid team, many cruel things were said to me. I was told I was selfish – despite the fact that I had given over eight years of my life putting everyone else’s happiness in front of my own. I was told I was mentally unstable and needed to seek professional help – despite the fact that this is the best decision for everyone involved, even though it probably doesn’t feel like it at the time. I was told that the guild deserved to die under my leadership – despite the fact that it didn’t die, we killed the raid team and all the toxic vitriol that came with trying to maintain it, but in the process saved the community and the guild.
And while I would be lying if I said these things didn’t bother me a little, I can honestly say that I’m not upset about them. I am 100% comfortable with the decision we made, and I know it was the right one. But for every nasty comment I received, I got two from those who understood and supported our decision – those who agreed with our assessment of the situation and valued the importance of community. And for the first time in months I logged in and enjoyed guild chat again. There was laughter and fun. People were in high spirits and joking around. It was almost like playing an entirely new game, and I was reminded why we valued certain things over others.
For those of you wondering if the current state of druids played into my decision – I would be lying if I said no. Was it a main factor? No. Was it a top 10 factor? Yes, but towards the bottom of the list. I truly feel that Blizzard needs to do a better job of balancing classes if equality is their goal. I continue to feel they should abandon the idea that 10s and 25s are equal, because they never will. Hating my class was certainly a factor in my decision, and certainly had an impact on my ability to enjoy the game. For right or wrong, I struggled with coming to terms with how poorly resto druids scaled in 25s, and got to the point that I almost didn’t even want to try because it didn’t matter. And, in all honesty, I don’t feel the “new” mushrooms, in their current iteration, are going to improve our situation any – but that is likely a topic for another time.
So many of you are probably thinking “what now, Beru”.
Well, I’m not really sure. Something I haven’t been hugely open about is that Brade and I have decided to start a family, and have started trying to conceive. Because I want to bifurcate my gaming blog with this effort, I did start a new blog, Wind Blown Tree Tops to chronicle my adventures. Right now, it’s simply a completely generic, blank blog as it has been since I created it in September. But I imagine in time I will have a lot of things to say there and will nitpick both the style and the content until I’m happy with it. You are all welcome to follow me through this adventure if you’d like, although I don’t know how exciting it will be
Will I keep blogging here and about druids? Well, I don’t know. I’d like to, but I also don’t know what I’ll have to say. I suspect only time will tell. Will I keep playing WoW? Brade and I have decided to play very casually at this time. We are finally getting around to challenge modes (which are immensely fun!). In time, we will probably do a 1 night a week ten man with friends to see what the new content is all about. I will continue to enjoy the addiction that is pet battling. But I don’t know if I will ever raid seriously again. I find that as time goes on I am less inclined to have my gaming environment constrict my time. I want to be able to take the aquasize class that meets two nights a week. I want to be able to come home from work and relax, game if I want or watch TV if I want. And I strongly suspect that as I continue to have less of an obligation to be online, the value of no longer having a raid schedule (and all the things that come with it – like dailys) will outweigh any desire to be competitive again.
And, I am content with that. For the first time in years I feel a freedom that I had forgotten about. Will I miss raiding? Yes, absolutely. And I will continue to cheer on and support those of you who are still pushing through it. I have many happy memories brought to me from raiding and I think it is a fantastic group effort that can teach valuable life lessons. I don’t have any regrets about the time I spent in WoW – it was well worth it and got me through some of the most difficult times of my life. It is my hope that I can still continue to enjoy it, just on my terms now.
And, well, if things go as planned, I have some big changes on the horizon
See you in 2013!
(Perhaps, maybe, I’ll find time to do a pet leveling post, but no promises!)
When my hands were at the pinnacle of having issues and very painful (mini update: seeing yet ANOTHER doctor at the end of January, and being started on Prednisone in the interim), Brade and I picked up a few board games so that we’d continue to have an interactive activity to do together. From there, we have spent many nights enjoying “game night” unplugged. And I love it!
We have spent many an evening playing games with just the two of us. We’ve also been working to set up a semi-regular game night with several different groups of friends, and have met some new and fun people in the process. I often fretted and worried about what I would do when I decided it was time to send Beru to Nagrand and log out of WoW permanently – would I have any social connections, would I be bored out of my skull, would I become a cranky old lady who reads books and watches my “shows”. However, I am happy to say that many of the experiences that I’ve had since re-introducing myself to the tabletop game genre have not only been overwhelmingly positive, but have also reminded me that a lot of people who don’t play wow continue to have a lot of fun and don’t all become cranky old ladies who whistle through their dentures while shaking their cane at those crazy kids these days (/gasp!).
We are also very fortunate in that we have an amazing game store locally where we can window shop, and even try out games before we buy them. While games tend to be slightly more expensive here, there is something to be said for the environment found in a game store. It’s hard to really describe, but there is just something…energetic and intriguing about it. One of the things that the shop closest to us does is have a “free play” night on Friday nights where the store is open until midnight and you can go in and just enjoy the games – and even ask one of the store personnel to teach you how to play (one of the other stores has a Munchkin Saturday Night – and has someone from the Munchkin team that comes and teaches people how to play). While we’ve not taken advantage of this as much as I’d like, it’s definitely on our list of “Friday Evening Activites”. Read the rest of this entry »