New Life among the Ashes

The last few weeks of Classic have been quite interesting for me. I've been meaning to talk about what's been happening for a little while, but found it difficult to place it all in a coherent narrative. I might still fail at doing that, but I'll at least give it a try.

First off, taking those weeks mostly off from the game has been good, as that really gave me a chance to finally let go of any lingering bitterness about the fact that Classic BC hasn't worked out for me the way I originally wanted it to. I still think that there's a fun MMO there; I just needed to figure out how I wanted to approach it, now that I'd decided that progression raiding was off the table. At the same time this wasn't an issue I could "reason my way out of" so to speak... as cheesy as it sounds, I had to let things play out and see how I felt.

Interestingly, the beat of the butterfly wing that set things in motion in a new direction for me was a bit of guild drama on Discord. Two extremely senior and (until then) outstandingly loyal raiders announced within the space of two days that they were both taking their mains out of the guild to raid elsewhere, and while they did their best to be nice about it, it's not surprising that this turn of events stoked panic among some of the other raiders. What's going on? Why is everybody leaving?

This then lead to some pretty intense discussion about the state of the guild and raid team, and again, while everybody tried their best to be polite, I think it's pretty impossible to deliver passionate criticism about the way things are being run without hurting someone's feelings. However, the thing that really stood out to me was that one of the secondary complaints that was raised as part of this was that guild spirit had been missing recently and that nobody was online anymore outside of raid times.

The former was something that I'd been bemoaning pretty much since early July, but at the time I'd got a fair amount of pushback when expressing that sentiment, some of it from the very same people who were now seemingly sharing it! So that was oddly fascinating. And nobody being online? I mean, I obviously hadn't been online myself, but the general vibe since Classic BC's launch had been that we had too many members for which the guild had no real use anymore and that leadership seemed to almost be rooting for certain people to just leave already. Again, the idea that this might have actually gone too far and caused people to regret what had happened intrigued me. In fact, I found myself logging in just to check who else was online outside raid times and indeed, often there were only one or two other characters around in guild - sometimes I was even the only one. Somewhat bizarrely, this actually made me want to be online more again, knowing that I wasn't just going to be lost in a sea of a million (slight hyperbole) dpsers looking for dungeon groups anymore.

Some changes happened within the guild after that slight drama as well. The old recruiter position was re-filled for example, and more members were deputised to help out with other small tasks. I myself volunteered to take over maintaining the crafting channel on Discord, a small thing I was happy to look after and that was independent of my actual time in game anyway. Community raids were also put back on the menu for the first time since late Classic - this was actually something that had already been set in motion just before the drama happened, but after the issue of lack of community was raised, they received additional attention.

This meant I could return to running Karazhan on Thursdays, and I also got my mage signed up for Gruul and Magtheridon on Fridays. With these being "old" content now and having been nerfed, they are chill and fun again, with people bringing alts and nobody sweating about parses. Even though a lot of the people who show up to these runs come from outside the guild, I've enjoyed every single one of them so far.

Speaking of people outside the guild... I noticed that one of the two leavers had gained a guild tag that was completely unknown to me, and as it happened another friend from outside the guild suddenly sported the same tag as well. I whispered the latter to ask what was up with this new guild he was in now. I thought he'd maybe reply with a line or two about how it was a newly formed raiding guild or whatever, but instead his reply was something along the lines of (I'm paraphrasing): "Oh boy - we can have a proper chat about that after this Kara!" And indeed, later that evening he gave me a call on Discord (we'd actually never chatted one to one on voice before, only in open channels), and we ended up talking for over an hour! Not just about his new guild of course, but also generally about what we'd been up to recently, both in game and in real life. It was really nice, and when we eventually hung up I was smiling. I don't think anyone in game had been this excited to talk to me since before BC's launch.

Another day - and I'm not sure anymore where this sits chronologically, it might have happened just a bit before or a little after - I saw a group looking for dps for a normal dungeon while on my mage and I asked to join... just to suddenly find myself grouped with my pre-TBC levelling buddy. In fairness to him, throughout my entire struggle with this expansion, he has been one of the maybe two people who did make a point of whispering me and wanting to group with me sometimes, even when they didn't "need" anything from me, and a fair few of the most enjoyable runs I did have involved him. However, he was still also levelling and grinding dungeons and rep with an intensity that I found alienating, so with me just feeling a bit fed up with the game altogether recently, we hadn't really talked in a few weeks, and it felt refreshing to run into him like that. The dungeon went well and I told him that it was nice to see us play as a team again, just like the "old days" (a whole five months ago now...). He replied that he shared the sentiment.

After that we ended up talking a bit more again and running some more dungeons together. With activity on the server having fallen off somewhat, he wasn't jumping into pugs during every waking moment anymore. One run that really stood out to me though was a heroic Blood Furnace with him and the same out-of-guild buddy I mentioned chatting on voice with me earlier. Because we did it purely for fun. It wasn't the daily dungeon, and nobody needed any loot. Out-of-guild buddy just really wanted to run it because he found it extremely challenging, and while he'd successfully tanked it on his warrior before, that had been with three mages for crowd control, which we all agreed was cheating a bit. Basically, he wanted to prove that he could do it with a less optimised group setup as well.

So I came on my hunter, my levelling buddy hopped on his warlock, we got a feral druid from the guild to join, our tank invited one of his healer friends, and off we went. And we were fucking pro, the way we pulled, interrupted and controlled things just so. I'd try to trap a mob, see it resist, and just before it would hit me, a perfectly timed fear from my friend's warlock would send it running off the other way. It was absolutely beautiful.

When we got to the gauntlet before the second boss, we lined up like good little soldiers while our tank explained his battle plan in great detail. And we executed it nearly flawlessly. We finished the instance without a single wipe, and had only suffered a small number of deaths when hard-hitting mobs had twitched to one-shot a damage dealer on a few pulls. We posed for a silly screenshot after killing the last boss and my levelling friend joked that we were the new bosses in the instance now and that the next group would have to kill us so we'd drop our badges. It was glorious.

So am I back? I'm not entirely sure. I'm a bit wary of this newfound joy shining too brightly and quickly burning itself out again, especially after I ran something like eight dungeons this past weekend (I honestly lost count), which is very unlike me. But it's given me hope. Many people see things slowing down and the game's population dropping off as a bad thing, but to me it's been strangely heartening to see who's still around after the vanguard has got all their reputations to exalted and either quit or dropped down to just logging for raids. It's certainly much closer to the sort of environment that I enjoyed about Classic.


  1. /hugs

    You needed this, I think.

    I personally have been considering starting a toon on the new Classic server, doing it on Horde side without falling back on my BE toons.

    1. You needed this, I think.

      Not how I would have put it, but I guess you could say it like that! I did kind of "need" something to happen to reignite my enthusiasm for the game to some degree, and these events certainly fit the bill.

      I personally have been considering starting a toon on the new Classic server

      I dunno, everything I've heard about this Season of Mastery made it sound like something for the hardcore raiders... faster levelling, tougher bosses, faster raid releases etc. - but if you do decide to go for it, I wish you good luck and look forward to reading about your adventures there!

  2. "...my levelling friend joked that we were the new bosses in the instance now and that the next group would have to kill us so we'd drop our badges."

    This is a seriously amazing idea. Has any game ever done it? I can see it becoming a huge competitive deal, where people try to keep their characters as the bosses for the longest possible time. It would have to be a sort of league or ladder affair I guess, where being on the top of some score table would mean the bosses in a specific dungeon would use the appearance of your character. The bragging rights would be insane!

    1. Has any game ever done it?

      Not that I'm aware... it does sound like a pretty fun idea on paper, but as it'd essentially be another form of PvP, I reckon it would be subject to all the usual problems associated with that such as balance, cheating etc.

    2. It's not precisely the same, but the FFXIV world boss Odin will take on the appearance of the character who struck the killing blow the last time he was up.

  3. Hopefully more folks will start / keep running things just for fun. It does sound hopeful that some people are starting to do more just for the fun of it, instead of laboring so hard for the goal of Holy Progression. Not that the Retail mindset will ever completely go away, but, at least, it doesn't have to be a big part of any group.

    Here's to your enjoyment and the new environment lasting through all the game you want to play! :)

  4. There's a definite joy in the writing here Shintar, good to see!

    I had a similar thing happen this weekend, a guildie who's all about the numbers. If he's not on top of the dps meter there's a whole lot of noise from him.

    When he logged on this weekend, someone asked him how he was. 'Shit' he replied. 'There's nothing going on whenever I log in'. I responded pretty quickly...'Horseshit, you need to lower your standards and you'll enjoy the game.'

    It brought up a discussion in guild, a fairly lively one, about what people expect from the game. And, as it usually is, the people that clamour for raids to be released quickly, and chew through content as quickly as it drops, are the ones that are 'bored', like my guildmate.

    I've been fortunate enough through the entire WoW lifespan that I've never been bored. There's always something to do, an alt to level, a skill to work on, a weakaura that needs tweaking. New people to teach. Something.

    I'm lucky I guess, being in the minority... so a post like this one reminds me that I'm not the only one who sees it that way.


    1. Thanks, Bill!

      For what it's worth, I can't remember the last time I felt that there was nothing to do for me in any of the MMOs I've played. Sometimes the things on offer just don't feel worthwhile to me, at least at the time - but I might come back later. That's why I like being given the chance to advance at my own pace - and with raid progression out of the picture, that feels a lot more attainable in Classic too.