For many years, I’ve played World of Warcraft more as a dedicated but solo gamer than as a raider, hardcore or otherwise.
I say dedicated because, to paraphrase an old Marine Corps line, I’ve got more time in the shitter in Grizzly Hills than you’ve got in the game, sunshine. For a given value of ‘you’, of course.
I say solo gamer because while I’ve been in great guilds and known a lot of cool people, I log in, do my own thing and log the hell out on my own time. Coordinating things with other people on the internet is something that mostly happens to other people.
Which is funny, since these days that’s my day job. Scheduling other people tasks to do when I want them done.
Ah, but that’s a job, and the game is (in my headspace) meant to be fun, so maybe that’s why I hate scheduling shit with other people in game. It’s supposed to be fun, not a job where people have to show up and clock in and put in their time. It’s a game, fun, crazy, we’re being wacky over here, spontaneity and shit, y’know?
For the longest time, I didn’t raid. When I did raid, I did what raiding can be done by a bunch of goofballs who put friendship and playing with family and spending time arranging everything to suit everyone’s schedule over downing bosses.
Newsflash; it’s a lot of fun if you don’t care if you ever kill any internet bosses, but if you’d like to see some content or get some loot, it’s not really a blueprint to craft an engine of boss killing destruction.
It’s the Hello Kitty of raiding, and that can be all right. But sometimes, I found myself hungering for more.
But I refuse to compromise my principles. The main principle being life is too short to waste it spending time gritting my teeth and pretending I can’t hear the AMAZING ASSHOLE that is talking in vent right now, just so I can kill shit and get shinies.
Way too short. WAY too short.
Remember back when Blizzard was going to make it mandatory that real names were revealed when you posted on their official forums?
I know why they relented. It’s easy and obvious.
Someone at Blizzard finally ran a progression raid and realized if that forum name shit went live, people in raid teams all over the world would be taking planes, trains and automobiles to hunt down that ONE ASSHOLE in their raid team and kill him. Or her, or her, let’s not discriminate.
Principles. It ain’t much, but it’s there.
Years I’ve spent playing this game. Years playing everything I could do, but stopping short of progression raiding.
Whatever the current raid tier would be, I’d usually be found about two steps back. Or more, lol, Outlands and endless Karazhan runs I’m looking at you.
This last year, all that changed. I’m in a guild of generally awesome people, and eventually I was invited to be a warm body to fill a gap made when someone with actual SKILL left the progression raid team, and somehow I have clawed my way into sticking around.
They haven’t booted my ass yet, but there is always tomorrow.
The way things are looking, I might even still be raiding with Team Wanda when level 100 and 20 person Mythic raids roll around. That’s my plan, anyway. they may have other ideas.
It helps that the raid schedule is one that I can commit to and maintain happy family wavelengths.
So. All those years as a filthy casual (as some seem determined to keep calling it), and now over a year of killing shit on the front lines. Well, the reasonably close to current lines.
It’s a total change in perspective.
Here’s the deal.
I’m not in a raid team that is, like, farming Heroic Garrosh kills or some crazy shit.
At the start of summer, the 10 man team added a flood of new people, converted to raiding 25’s in anticipation of Mythic in Warlords, and have gone from a complete reboot to farming Heroic Siege through General Nazgrim, and knocking hard on Malkorok’s noggin. That ain’t too bad when you consider that aside from the core, the team formed over summer, a normally dead time for playing.
Good people. Still that one on vent, but you know, it’s not that bad. I just remind myself that even in the Marines we had to deal with that 10%, and in a 25 person team, only one on vent means we’re ahead of the curve on asshats. Hur hur Ahead of the Curve. Yeah, sorry.
In the old days, Beartrap would be my fantastically geared main, my ‘woah this is Keanu god-level Matrix type shit’ main, and it would have required tons of time investment from raiding a lot of Flex with friends, crafting, reputation grinds, etc.
The other thing to consider…. normally, by the time I would get a character like Beartrap to where he is now, it would be the very tail end of that Tier of gear. I would have gone through most of the expansion with the early range of gear, patiently working up to a stronger set, so that just when I finally qualified for an entry level position on a raid team, they were all bored with clearing all heroic modes and quit until the next expansion.
Not so as a progression raider. There is no delay, no year-long ramp up.
As soon as new raid content comes out, you tear into it. You start learning it, and wiping on it, but you get victories and loot.
As a raider, you start getting the very strong gear right at the beginning when the new content is fresh and tasty, and there are fewer folks competing for the rare spawns.
What I want to tell you is, I had no idea for all of those years what a huge impact that has on quality of life in the game. Just, no idea.
Yeah, I know you can imagine how ‘ooh neat’ it must be, so leet, very cool, who gives a shit. But I’m trying to say, don’t write off raiding if you’ve never really tried it, ESPECIALLY now that the normal raids will all be open to cross-server raiding right out of the gate.
I want you to open your mind to the possibilities if you’ve never done this before. OpenRaid is an excellent community of people that have cross-server raids of all kinds, from achievement runs in old content all the way up to regular raiding of current stuffs. If you can’t find a pre-forming raid with the perfect times for you, try starting your own, and even say up front what days/times you’ll go and if you’re looking for a raid leader if that role scares you. Give it a shot.
It’s been over a year of my having one character that was a progression raider and the rest being my alts.
Such a difference
Challenges are good in the game, but having strong gear means that when you’re playing on your own, you can go do something you could never do before without finding a bunch of friends that have the time AND the interest in joining you right then.
This last year, as new content came out I was able to charge right in on one character, while the others had to do the usual build up.
Here are some of the differences that really stood out.
To try and get desired loot upgrades, I would have to queue for LFR on my alts. Before the multi-queue situation, it would take at least 30 minutes of waiting before I could get into just one raid, and then you never knew if it would be at the beginning or in the middle, and remember what I said about life being too short for assholes? Omigod.
LFR is a social experiment designed to prove that there is no bottom to the lowest common denominator, that negative numbers truly exist. I’ve seen good people log off the game, hands shaking they were so upset at what went down in an LFR. Good people who swore, “Fuck this game, and fuck those people.”
Nobody needs that in their life.
In a scheduled raid with my normal raid team, there is none of that. NONE of that. Plus, there is no pressure to raid at any other time. No thoughts of, “I really should be queued for LFR right now, I need to try for that weapon to drop, my 502 is so crappy. I should be trying to get more Legendary item drops, ugh, I need all the wings.”
Scheduled raiding with friends not only eliminates that asshole factor, but it frees up ALL of your other time to do whatever the hell you want except raid. Raiding and possible upgrades and team fun is already covered, so go farm dinosaurs for 3 hours guilt free!
Progress Matching Pace
When you’re raiding and getting current gear drops, your power level stays strong in comparison to your new foes.
New content comes out with parts designed to still be challenging six months after it is released. It’s expected to take most players several months, maybe longer before their gear becomes powerful enough to trivialize all the new stuff.
When you’re raiding and getting those drops, the grinding stuff is already trivial. Blow through it in a few minutes, get it out of the way, move on to the fun stuff. It’s the hard stuff that is now a legitimate challenge and fun to do. You get to leap right into it.
A few examples? Soloing Primal Devilsaurs and all the other dinos on the Isle of Giants, hunting down and soloing the Zandalari Warbringers, going back and soloing achievements or farming transmog gear in old raids that are still sort of not that old, taking out rares on the Timeless Isle like Garnia for the Ruby Droplet, all without having to wait for someone else to join you just to survive. Soloing old raids like Eye of Eternity and Tempest Keep each week for mount drops.
It also means that when you only have a few friends to run with, there are more possibilities in what you can do together.
It was just a week ago that Cassie, the Cub and myself went and completed Blackrock Descent, from start to finish, just the three of us. There was I think once or twice someone died, but the end result was never in doubt, and it wasn’t all that hard either. We all had a good time, took our time looking around, and got some nice transmog gear to boot.
So yeah, good gear is fun, it changes the game in almost every way. And raiding with a regular team of people you know is a real game changer, because it takes so much of the stress out of raiding through LFR and having a new week reset hanging over your head. And having a raid already scheduled means you don’t have to worry about what you should be doing but don’t want to, you can just do what you feel like.
Do what feels good for you.
There is one other thing raiding regularly does as well.
It gives me something to look forward to each week, something to steer towards. Whether it be food, flasks, farming new transmog to display at the raid, or whatever. Having that raid coming up gives you something to look forward to in the coming week that keeps you logging in and staying current with whats up. There continues to be a purpose to playing.
And as long as you don’t have the ENTIRE current raid and all of it’s achievements on farm, you continue to have a challenge to strive to overcome.
Blah Blah Blah already
We’re coming up fast on Warlords of Draenor.
We’ve got a character level reset, gear reset, everything reset coming up.
Now is the time to consider, if you’ve never raided before… would you like to? If you would, what’s holding you back?
Is it not finding anything that works with your schedule? Maybe you can figure out one or two days where you’ve got some time you could commit to having free, and then look for the right fit on OpenRaid?
Is it not liking how your current main plays, and not wanting to raid with him or her? Warlords gives you that perfect opportunity to dump the old and begin anew!
It’s Orange Fishwrap
Whatever you do, I hope that you try to do one thing before Warlords.
I hope that you try to find some raid group that you can join that does Flex or better, and that can kill Garrosh, and do it before the pre-expansion patch comes around.
Maybe Blizzard will change their mind, but the last word was, once the pre-expansion patch is released, your character’s very first Garrosh kill (on each difficulty setting) is a guaranteed drop of an Heirloom weapon appropriate for your class and selected spec, an Heirloom that will scale from level 90 all the way to 100.
Don’t discount how nice that will be for questing when the expansion comes out. You will have plenty of other gear to worry about replacing, but wouldn’t it be real nice to know that when you finally hit level 100, and face having to attain Silver on a challenge mode just to enter five person dungeons, you’ll at least have a strong weapon to do it with?
I’m being totally honest here. Being able to just swing around Pandaria and bully Warbringers to farm the dinosaur mounts whenever I wanted, that was crazy. And yes, I did get all the mounts, something I doubt I ever could have done if I had never gotten back into raiding.
Now I’m farming dinosaurs on the Isle of Giants, to get 9999 bones. And I’m getting a thousand bones a day, so at the end of ten days, no problem.
I can absolutely assure you there is no freaking way I would ever do this if I had to try to find people willing to farm three times the number of these dinosaurs so we could all share out enough bones to accomplish it. Talk about a grindfest horror show, blech!
For those of you who have always raided all along…. yeah, I’m loving it too.
But never forget, raiding doesn’t give you an excuse to be an elitist asshat. The people who don’t actually raid mostly don’t do it because they can’t find the time, not because they lack the skill.
Raiding success does not grant anyone the right to be a douche. Fight the stereotype. Be a progression raider that’s cool and friendly.
All right, you can still do it from the back of your Heroic Garrosh kill mount.