I've got quite a few people on my blogroll who don't actually play WoW anymore or who have at least taken a step back from it and play less now than they used to. None of them did so angrily, shouting "this is the last straw" and raging about how much the game sucks these days. It pretty much seemed to be a gradual process for all of them, where certain changes to the game bothered them, though never enough to make them want to quit - until one day they suddenly realised that somehow a lot of small things had added up to enough to not make them want to play anymore. All they were left with was a certain sense of melancholia about what they had lost, but they knew that there was no going back.
This is how I feel about raiding right now.
Ever since Wrath of the Lich King, almost all the major changes that were made to raiding have been things that I personally disapprove of: the removal of attunements, all raids having a ten- and a 25-man mode, the introduction of heroic raids, the changes to the badge system, the abandonment of older tiers in order to have all players playing together in whatever was the newest raid, the equalisation of tens and 25s. And yet, every time I just moaned about the changes and kept going anyway. As the Grumpy Elf is fond of saying, complaining about something is not necessarily a bad thing; it shows that you still care... it's when you don't even care to complain anymore that things have gone really bad. I suppose I should have known that something was amiss when the subject of the newest Firelands nerfs came up on our guild forum, and all I could get myself to say was that I didn't think they were a good idea but that I couldn't be bothered to elaborate anymore.
Last night I came home late after having been out all evening. I briefly checked my guild's website and was greeted by a screenshot of a Majordomo first kill, a boss that I haven't even seen yet. I mentioned the sting of missing out on first kills only about a week ago, so there was a brief pang of regret... but it was gone surprisingly quickly. The reason that I hadn't even logged into WoW in two days was that I had been working long shifts, and then spent one evening watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes with the boyfriend (really good by the way) and the other being social with my co-workers. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss either of those things in favour of raiding. In fact, I really enjoyed doing something other than raid on my raid nights for a change.
I've talked about how I generally haven't been that enthusiastic about raiding lately, at least not compared to other activities. It didn't feel like a chore to me, but I wasn't really having lots of fun anymore either. It was just something that I'd been doing for so long that it seemed strange to stop on no particular grounds, not to mention that I didn't want to hurt my guildies by making myself unavailable for no good reason. Ten-man rosters are such a frustratingly fickle thing, and after having helped with the back end of recruiting for one for the better part of the year, I definitely didn't want to be that person - the one who left completely out of the blue and suddenly tipped the guild from rolling along just fine to having to cancel every other raid due to not having enough signups.
However, seeing that screenshot was an epiphany. It was yet another first kill that had passed me by. But you know what? That's a sign of a healthy guild. They didn't need me. If anything, we've been having a bit much rotation as of late, with some people feeling slightly frustrated that they didn't get to raid as often as they would have liked. And suddenly it hit me that if I didn't really feel like raiding anymore, I didn't have to. I could quit without spoiling other people's fun. We have enough healers.
The other day it also really hit home for me just how little I cared about raiding itself anymore when I noticed that I had capped my conquest points without fail every single week since the start of season ten, and that I was in fact getting close to having a full set... but I still hadn't bothered to buy even a single piece of tier twelve. How much of a boon is a raider who cares so little anyway?
Gear has been another little thing that has been contributing to my raid blues in general. I always frown when people say that they don't care about the gear from raiding because I find that strange. It's not all there is to raiding of course, but finally seeing that upgrade drop and winning the roll is part of the fun. Unfortunately Firelands has been absolutely horrid to me as a holy priest. I've seen other people rake in oodles and oodles of gear for both main and off-specs, and the only thing I got after all this time was a BoE off-hand that didn't even drop while I was in the raid, it's just that nobody else wanted it at the time and it went into the guild bank. There is no spirit cloth in Firelands, period. There's something oddly discouraging about a whole tier that drops close to no gear for your spec at all. Completely irrational I know, but it's as if even the developers themselves are telling me that they don't want me there anymore.
And then the recent news about the incoming nerf. Like I said above, I don't even have the energy to be angry about these things anymore, just a little sad. Once upon a time raiding felt a bit like climbing a mountain to me. It was harder on the logistics and it took long to get to the top, but at the end you could look down at how far you had come and feel like you'd achieved something. If I'm still climbing mountains by raiding today, it's only because I'm surrounded by an ever-rising tide and I'm trying not to drown. I'm finding it highly ironic that Blizzard's constant attempts at making the content more accessible to the casual player via nerfs make me feel as if more and more demands are being put on me. Here's the thing, imposing shorter and shorter time limits on people's ability to complete a given task is in fact another way of raising the bar, not lowering it. Seeing tier eleven get nerfed after six months was already hard for me, but as they keep cranking up the pace I'm simply finding it impossible to keep up. Sorry, but I do not have the energy to complete your content within the imposed time limit, and I'm not going to waste my time trying if I won't see half of it until it's only a mere shadow of its former self anyway.
Taken by themselves, I wouldn't even have considered any of these things worth posting about, but without me even realising it at the time, their combined weight has by now become too much for me to keep calm and carry on. I'm not done with the game yet - I still want to quest, level alts and do rated battlegrounds.
But raiding... raiding had me, and it's lost me. I'm sad to hurt my guild leader, because I love him dearly, we've been through a lot together and I know he'll miss me being around regardless. But honestly, I'm done moaning and I think I have to accept that this particular part of the game simply isn't for me anymore. I am glad however to see that my guild is doing fine without me and that my departure from raiding won't hurt its progression. May they kill Ragnaros many times over.