So, recently Tam decided that his holiday gift giving should start a little early this year. What did he give everyone? Why, a question to which he would like the answer. What did Tam want to know about me? He was curious to know about the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in WoW and how I felt about it in retrospect.
At first I looked at the question and went “man, I think I would have preferred the murloc one!”, but to be perfectly honest, the answer came to me very, very quickly.
Back in vanilla WoW, where I walked uphill both ways in molten lava to raids, I joined Monolith. I had left a top alliance guild where I was part of the leadership team, due to a number of reasons, and joined a team where I would be able to just be part of the team. A team where I had been assured that I would under no circumstance have to deal with the bullshit that caused me to leave my alliance guild. And it was all true. I got to raid, people were friendly, and I didn’t have to deal with bullshit from young males who had more ego than was good for them. It was almost nirvana for me, in its simplicity. All I had to do was show up to raid…and raid we did.
Apparently, naiveté could be added to the list of things that I also enjoyed during that time.
Because I was very friendly to everyone, I never noticed the little cliques that had formed. I never noticed the changes around me. I was unaware of the underlying issues within the officer ranks. I went along my happy way, raiding and enjoying the people around me. But, as the Burning Crusade drew nearer, all of the sudden I became keenly aware of things changing around me, things that would have a great effect on the game for me. Change that was like waves that kept crashing against a stubborn rock, determined not to be worn down, yet unable to prevent the waves from continuously crashing against it.
One night it happened…and it was horrible. One of the officers left, taking the majority of the other officers with him…and people followed him like rats jumping from a sinking ship. He claimed that he was going to offer an “elite” raid experience. He lied to people about things that had occurred, largely by his hand, during his reign as an officer in Monolith, so that they would follow. He told some of our best players that they weren’t good enough for him and his new guild, because they didn’t fit into his “plan”. And for the duration of his time on the server with his new guild, he set out to destroy Monolith (a task he clearly failed to complete).
The split devastated me. I had a lot of friends in the guild, I had foolishly thought that those people would remain a part of my gaming experience into the expansion. I was happy how everything was, I didn’t want things to change.
I was also put in a position that was very difficult for me: follow a lot of my closest friends and go to the new guild that will have a mentality and goals similar to those that I have, or stay with Monolith, and Brade, and nurse the now flailing guild back to life.
Brade gave me carte blanche to leave, and I think that deep down inside he knew that I really wanted to go. But here is what made me different from those people who left without so much as a “goodbye and good luck”, even though Monolith had been their home for two years, and given them all their experiences in the game: Loyalty.
I am fiercely loyal, and will remain so even if it makes me miserable. This is both an asset and a fault. But I could not think of a bigger slap in the face to Brade than to say “I love you, but I’m gonna go get phat purps”. And I damn well wasn’t going to do it. If Monolith was going to sink its captain was staying on board, and I was going to stand strong next to him. It was a horrible decision to make, and I nearly lost a very dear friend to me (we have only just recently rekindled our friendship) because of my choice. But, I made my decision for better or for worse, to stay with Monolith.
My decision was made more difficult by the person who split making it an apparent personal vendetta to sink us, and personally attacking me (and being very nasty about it) to try and get at Brade. I think this hurt me more than anything else, because here were people who I had considered my friends. People who shared laughs with me, people who were very cordial to me for over two years…now being down right nasty to me because I opted not to join them. Because I decided to root for the underdog. I would go to bed many nights in tears. Tears of anger, tears of frustration, tears of grief, tears of misery. It got so bad that I actually took a few months off and played over on the alliance again, casually, just to get away from these people. My skin was not thick enough and I let them ruin the game for me.
It was so hard as I struggled through recruiting, people leaving, raiding, back gearing new people, more people leaving to more progressed guilds, recruiting more…only to have my friends from the other guild gloat about how well they were doing, or what new piece of loot they had just gotten. It was like rubbing salt into an open wound. Although I’m sure they never intended it to be that way, it got to the point where I just had to isolate myself from it all. Draw myself away from it, into my own little world. I left all my group chat channels, I stopped responding to tells, I just needed to get away from it.
Eventually, I decided to come back horde and play with Brade, because that was one of the main reasons I played the game. But when I came back, I made a promise to myself: I would no longer give a shit about what other people were doing. Guild X beat us to a kill? So what? I took the time to focus on the positives of why I played the game, and not the negatives. I placed a great number of people who I just didn’t want to deal with on my, up to that point empty, ignore list so they couldn’t push my buttons. I stopped visiting our realm forums, even to recruit, drawing instead from friends of friends that knew someone who wanted to raid.
I pushed giving us a more casual raid schedule, down from our then 5 nights a week. I pushed weeding out the dick heads that we were holding onto because we “needed the bodies”. I pushed a new focus for us: we are a progression guild, but will not force progression to the detriment of our members. Many people were apprehensive about the change, but it was shortly after the change that we killed Lady Vashj, quickly to be followed by Kael’thas. Granting us access to Mt. Hyjal and Black Temple. But it was that Lady Vashj kill that told me we were going to make it. That we had survived.
Every kill after that was just a giant “fuck you” to everyone that thought we were finished and everyone that hoped we would fall apart, with Illidan punctuating our statement.
In the end, what happened? We ended up with a group of friendly, largely good-natured people who were a team. And where are we now? Back to where we were before the split: The top horde guild on the server. Only, better. Our environment improved, our members have improved, our attitude has improved. The new Monolith far surpasses what the old one ever was, regardless of progression.
And where is the guild that split? Disbanded when they failed to get a world 100 Brutallus kill. And in hindsight…our guild is largely a better place for not having most of those people in it. After they disbanded, we did let a few members return to our friends and family ranks. And in time, some of them even came to raid with us again. But we made our objective and focus clear, and they were required to accept those things. However, before anyone was permitted to return, the entire guild was given the opportunity to object. If anyone said “no”, they were not granted permission to return.
In retrospect, I absolutely think I made the right decision. Was it difficult? God yes. Did I often question if I did the right thing? Absolutely. But, am I happy with the result? Most definitely. There were times that I thought we weren’t going to make it, but time after time, we pulled up our boot straps and marched on. I honestly could not ask to be playing the game with a better group of people.
I helped rebuild Monolith brick by painful brick, from the foundation up, my hands are still rough, and my arms still weary from the effort that it required. But, Monolith is made from the honest, hard work of every member that is in the guild. Our hearts and desires went into this guild, and it is a better place for it.
I have no regrets about my decision.