Of Soul Searching and Eating Crow

I wasn't really able to stay away from my guildies after they transferred, and already made a lowbie alt on their new server Nethergarde Keep the day after they moved. I did a bit of questing in Elwynn there, but it felt odd. Having got used to my stable of alts on Hydraxian Waterlords, I didn't much enjoy being poor and having no bags anymore, not the way I used to when Classic was new - though a kind guildie sent me five gold starter capital, which helped a lot; bless his soul. However, aside from that I was just kind of there... with my guildies, yet also not. I could see them online and chat, but at the same time I was still distant and useless - it wasn't like my level 10 paladin could help out in Karazhan or SSC.

I had one eerie encounter when I was looking for help with Hogger and suddenly a level 70 night elf hunter called Tir-something appeared out of nowhere to help me out, told me to have fun levelling and then ran off again. It felt a bit like encountering a future version of myself, which led to my levelling buddy joking that I now had to transfer my own hunter to Nethergarde and help a lowbie in Elwynn or else risk a time-travelling paradox.

But for the time being, my focus remained on Hydraxian Waterlords. My out-of-guild friend there was extra sweet to me, concerned about making me feel included in his community and even offering to give up his Gruul/Mag raid spot if that would help to get me in there somehow, even though it was against all their priority rules. I told him to calm down and not worry so much, as much as I appreciated all the love from his end.

I mentioned at the end of my last post that something distracted me from re-attempting that heroic run in the evening, and that something was a chance at a full five-man group for normal Old Hillsbrad and Black Morass. I was going to heal on my paladin, we had a tank and three dps express interest on Discord, no additional randoms required! Let's go!

It was a bit odd to me that I as the newcomer ended up actually forming the group, and that I was at the summoning stone before anyone else had even left Shattrath. I thought of the way I'd repeatedly felt dissatisfied with my guildies this expansion because it seemed to me that they were always pushing to do things harder, better, faster than me and I found it a struggle to keep up. Maybe this community of slower-paced, more relaxed players would actually end up being more to my liking?

Our Old Hillsbrad run went fine. It was slower than I was used to, but our tank was a bit insecure in her new role so it made complete sense, and we had no real issues. We were all on voice together and the chatter was amicable. I was keen to find some common ground in conversation and we did.

However, then we wanted to continue to Black Morass, which was actually supposed to be the main event, in order to complete the moonkin's alchemy quest, and I had a bad feeling considering that our damage output had already been relatively low in Old Hillsbrad and looking at the fact that two of our dpsers were only level 68 and 66 respectively. "Can you even go in there at 66?" I asked. The answer was yes and they were keen, so we went anyway.

Without going into too much detail, it did not go well. We fell behind on the portals almost immediately and ended up wiping on the first boss. We knew then that there was no point in trying to continue, but we reset the instance anyway just to kill a few more rift lords for the druid's quest. On that next attempt we blew our beacons on the first few waves just to keep up and then managed to kill the boss just before the adds could take down Medivh's shield, so we left having achieved at least something.

We parted ways with friendly words, with me and the mage of the group hanging back because he'd expressed interest in a riding crop so I logged on my hunter to make him one. It should have been a nice end to the evening, but I felt miserable. That Black Morass run had been my worst in Classic yet, and we had failed in ways I hadn't experienced since the original Burning Crusade, when the instance had actually had a reputation for being hard because we were all worse at the game and struggled to meet its dps checks. I'd been so desperate for some joy, to affirm my decision to stay behind, and this was not it. I couldn't help making comparisons and wistfully thought of my levelling buddy: I never would've gotten into a run like that with Kyllah; he would have put his foot down at the beginning, knowing that going in with a level 66 and 68 wasn't going to go well and would be a waste of time!

At the same time, I felt bad for feeling bad about a run with these friendly new people who'd warmly welcomed me into their community only earlier in the day. What sort of elitist was I to be so salty about a bit of failure, just because I couldn't imagine it happening with my old guildies? Plus I felt bad for missing my old guildies so fiercely and wishing that I could be with them when I had only told them days before that I wasn't transferring with them for reasons.

In real life, I sat down next to my husband and told him that it might be easier to just never log into WoW again rather than deal with all the unhappiness and embarrassment it was generating for me. I told him the whole story and he was understanding to a limited degree, but also told me that I should just transfer already, since I was clearly missing my guildies, and that I should stop worrying about all these first-world problems that I was creating for myself. He wasn't wrong, but at the time, that didn't make me feel any better. Instead of cutting down on potential for WoW drama and stress, I'd just created my very own flavour of it.

Still, this was ultimately the turning point at which I knew that I didn't want to stay on Hydraxian Waterlords. I bit the bullet and whispered my levelling buddy as well as a couple of other guildies to let them know that I missed them and was going to transfer after all. I had a long talk with my out-of-guild friend, whom I knew I was letting down somewhat, considering how hard he'd tried to make me feel welcome in his own guild's community. I posted messages to explain myself on both his raid force's and my own guild's Discord, fearing a certain degree of scorn or ridicule for flip-flopping like I did within days, but nobody seemed to mind much. And when I did actually make the move, all my guildies just seemed happy to see me.

Ultimately I do not regret that extra week I stayed on Hydraxian Waterlords. I wanted to see for myself how things were going to go there, and I did. Solo questing was still fine, and actually quite immersive in my opinion - I do like it when meeting another player out in the wilderness is actually somewhat rare and exciting. Raiding also continued, if on a casual level. However, the middle between those two levels of engagement collapsed completely, and this does make me worry for the future of those left behind. I wouldn't expect many players who'd be happy to level from 1 to 70 entirely on their own to then flip to "ok, now I'd like to raid", so I don't see how the remaining raiders can have any hope of dealing with attrition, especially if transfers off the server end up staying open indefinitely.

The time I spent questing and farming on my own also gave me a lot of time for reflection. At the start of BC, I'd initially got great joy out of spending time in Nagrand farming leather and levelling up my leatherworking. I really liked the idea of this being helpful to my guildies. But then a new guildie with seemingly unlimited gold supplies swooped in and power-levelled both leatherworking and enchanting within only a few days by buying out all the materials on the auction house and quickly became everyone's favourite supplier. I'm not proud to admit that I was envious... but it did kind of make all my farming for others feel pointless when someone could just throw an apparently unlimited gold supply at the problem and get there faster. It's a feeling I never quite recovered from... until those days on the emptied out server, with little on the auction house, and everything I went to farm feeling like a meaningful acquisition. I think it did kind of allow me to make peace with the fact that I'll never be hardcore or rich enough to be a big deal in terms of crafting, but that I can still find joy in doing it for its own sake.

Just being around some raiders who were even more casual than the Forks also made me realise that maybe I've been wrong to scoff at their tightening the requirements to raid in Burning Crusade compared to Classic. I'm still not entirely happy with them, but I also realised that a completely laid back attitude about these things might not actually be my cup of tea either. It's unlikely that I'd ever find a group of people who are exactly on the same wavelength as me in every respect, but perhaps the Forks aren't as far off my ideals anymore as I thought.

When I wrote that angry post about Blizzard killing my server, part of me didn't care if staying behind would eventually result in me stepping away from the game... I'd already considered it a few months ago anyway, right? But I was feeling adrift back then, as opposed to the last month, when I'd been running dungeons with friends on a daily basis who missed me and kept poking me when I wasn't there to run with them. Depriving myself of that only added another layer of misery to an already uncomfortable situation. I've become too entangled in my guild's social web to be able to just turn my back on it from one day to the next and act as if nothing happened.

Finally, during the initial upset about the transfers, when my levelling buddy got a bit cross with me at the thought of us being forcefully split up, I said something to him along the lines of: "You realise there's always going to be an end, right? Eventually there'll be a Wrath Classic, which I won't be keen to play, but even if I was, that would come to an end too." It was meant to make a point to him, but in a funny way I ended up thinking about my own words more than he probably did - because keeping in mind that our time having this particular kind of fun is limited, why not make the most of it while we can? It's going to end eventually, but I might as well stick with it while circumstances allow it. Life's too short anyway.


  1. Damn, Shintar.

    You got me emotional over this.

    1. Then I succeeded at conveying at least some of what I've been feeling this past week, because damn, have I been a mess!

    2. I guess that makes two of us.

      If we ever meet, I'll buy you a beer. (Yes, I'm allowed some alcohol.)

    3. You've definitely had it worse than me!

      Also, I don't drink alcohol. But I'd still go out for a drink with ya.

  2. Gold buyers and farming bots can ruin anyone's fun. I'm still kind of shocked to realise how common this practice is. :(

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings like this. It is true that all things must eventually end. What we can do is to make the best of the time we do have together, and try and squeeze as much joy and happiness out of it as we can.

  3. Hi Shin;

    Every single one of us has had that same thing happen. "Here's my line in the sand, I will not cross it". Famous not-so-last words. I do it myself, and to my detriment I'll hang on to the idea of the line, rather than what the line is stopping me from doing.

    All a part of life, I suppose.

    I let Redbeard know, and yourself as well, I restarted my blog. Hopefully you enjoy it a fraction of how much I enjoy reading your thoughts.

    Bill (Wylset)

    1. That's great, Bill! I read through the posts you put up so far and added you to my blogroll. :) I can see why you cite Eight Years in Azeroth as a blog you like, your style reminds me a bit of Shawn's...

    2. What an awesome compliment!! Thank you :D