My Raiding History, Part 4: Cataclysm & SWTOR

As explained in my last post, my guild didn't have the best start into Cataclysm, what with an enforced downsizing to ten-man due to a mass exodus of core players. That said, the new expansion started off pretty well from my point of view despite of that.

The old world revamp provided a great incentive to level new alts, and the new, harder dungeons actually gave people a reason to form guild groups again instead of simply hitting the dungeon finder queue button as soon as they logged in. The first tier of raiding was really good as well, consisting of no less than three different raid instances and offering up what I considered a decent challenge. (I seem to remember Blizzard saying later on that Cataclysm's normal raids were tuned close to what later became heroic mode - there was no real "entry level" at the time.) I also got into rated battlegrounds and really came to love them.

That said, all was not well. There was a certain malaise in the air around the expansion, with everyone citing different reasons for their discontent. Looking back at this blog, I was surprised to find just how well I articulated my annoyance with Blizzard's forced obsolescence model as early as February 2011. It got worse when they decided by the end of June that everyone should be done with tier eleven now and swung the nerf bat hard. Re-reading that last post, it sounds a lot less negative than I remember feeling at the time, but even so I got people in the comments telling me that my guild was just bad if we hadn't managed to clear the tier within six months and that it was time to move on. I remember finding that whole attitude - both from Blizzard and other players - incredibly patronising and annoying.

Firelands was another decent raid tier... but somehow the passion wasn't there for me anymore. I think I got closest to figuring out what was wrong in this post when I concluded that I was still having fun, but couldn't help but feel that based on past experiences, it should be possible to have way more fun than I was having. In hindsight I think it was too many small factors finally coming together: holy priests not being in a great place performance-wise, little useful loot for my class/spec in Firelands, missing some of the camaraderie I used to have with guildies that left (I liked most of the ones that remained a lot as well, but it just wasn't the same with the much smaller numbers), and feeling beat down by Blizzard's constant push to finish new content on their schedule instead of on my own. In September that year, I decided to call it quits on raiding.

I continued to play WoW for a few more months however, with my rated battleground team more or less taking the place that raiding used to occupy in my evenings. At the end of November Blizzard released Dragon Soul, the last raid of Cataclysm, right alongside the new raid finder feature, which I tried and rated kind of entertaining in an odd way but I also concluded that it had little to do with raiding in the traditional sense. The most obvious expression of this was when I saw Deathwing die and felt nothing.

In December, Star Wars: The Old Republic came out, the first new MMO to release since I'd started playing WoW that interested me enough to try it. Like with Warcraft back in the day, I didn't get into the game with the intention to raid (though unlike back then, I did know what raids were this time around and had a general idea of what I was getting into), but the small, friendly guild that included some friends that had formerly been in my WoW guild too (before they stopped playing) soon had me hyped, and when I actually joined my first raid soon afterwards, I had an absolute blast.

In fact, I was loving the endgame in general, despite of the game's general focus on alt play. Not just that - I loved it so much that when my friendly social guild fell apart a few months later, I actually set out to find a new home just so that I would be able to continue to raid, and found it in Twin Suns Squadron - where I eventually ended up meeting my husband, who actually runs the guild these days, and where we are still raiding eight years later.

Both the guild and the game have undergone a lot of changes throughout those years (with the biggest one probably being the introduction of level sync in 2015, which made all raids valid endgame content, even the oldest ones), but in a way it's felt much more stable than anything I ever had in WoW. I think in a way that has served to crystallise just what it is that still attracts me to raiding after all these years.

Throughout my raiding career in WoW, I often found myself wondering just what it was that really mattered to me. When Blizzard seemingly got raid difficulty "wrong" it frustrated me at times, but did that mean that I was looking for a different challenge level than they were providing? Lack of useful gear drops for my class/spec annoyed me, but did that mean that I was only in it for the gear?

I think SWTOR has taught me that above all else, I raid for the social aspect. I guess it should have been a hint that my best times raiding in WoW were when my guild was also at its strongest and most unified. Concerns about things like progression and loot distracted me, but I think ultimately even those things were only really an issue for me in so far as they affected the guild's social cohesion.

SWTOR has little to offer to anyone looking for constant novelty when it comes to raiding, as they only release a new operation once every couple of years at the current rate. Challenge levels are (relatively) consistent across the board (though Bioware has been pushing the envelope somewhat with more recent releases) and are limited by the game not supporting add-ons, so that no fight can throw more at you than a human brain can easily process. For several years now, raids haven't even been the best place to get gear anymore either, just one more supplementary source of it.

So while you do get people that look for novelty, challenge or gear from raiding in SWTOR, they tend to fade in and out relatively quickly as it doesn't take long to satisfy their particular itch and then there is nothing left for them. The ones who stick with it are those that just enjoy the experience of hanging out and cracking stupid jokes with a group of friends on a Sunday evening, and don't necessarily mind that the boss fight they're wiping on has been in the game for seven years already. After all, if it ever gets a bit too much, we can always go and fight something else for a few weeks, what with all the raids being valid endgame.

It's been an interesting journey to say the least.


  1. So if you are the Empress on the Empire side of SWTOR, is your husband the Chancellor of Twin Suns?

    1. Nah, no guild of ours has ever been a democracy. :)