If I remember correctly the last time I wrote a real post before my Nano recess, I was talking about the upwelling of nostalgia brought on by playing Hearthstone. I fought valiantly to resist but before long I was staring at the account section of the battle.net page and renewing my subscription. I had put this off because really I assumed this decision would end in tears. The odd thing is so far it has not. I have been enjoying the hell out of playing, and have even resumed raiding a bit. I don’t want to jinx it by saying I am back, but so far it feels like at least a possibility.
One of the awesome things about coming back at the tail end of the expansion is that Blizzard tends to give players many different ways to catch up gear wise. I have spent a ton of time out on the Timeless Isle and have been collecting sets of level 90 heirloom gear for each of my alts I intend to level. Since coming back I have caught my Deathknight Main Belgrave and Druid Belgarou up a bit in gear, leveled my Shaman Tallow and Warrior Belghast to 90, and am within a stones throw of 90 on my paladin Exeter. There is part of me that wants to push as many toons to 90 as I can before the release of Warlords of Draenor.
I have to say despite all of the negativity flowing around it, I am really looking forward to the expansion. They said during Blizzcon that the majority of the content would work more like Timeless Isle, and that was pretty much music to my ears. I love the way the content on the isle works, and I can spend hours both there and on the Isle of Giants tearing about the mobs with Belgrave. I think my happy medium is a mix of quests to give me purpose, and then found objectives along the way to force me to stop and smell the roses. If they can strike a balance, I think the content will be just about perfect for me. Not to mention that Garrisons sound amazingly fun, like a mix between player housing and the crew skill system in SWTOR.
A Guild Divided
At the beginning of Cataclysm I got a serious case of wanderlust. I would like to think it was because Rift was so amazing, but in reality I think I just needed a break from WoW. At that point I had played it for almost eight years straight without significant pause. But the sad thing is, that while I played it for seven years, I have yet to play a single game since for more than seven months. When I wandered off so did a lot of other guild members who were feeling a similar drag on their time. The untold story however is the fact that the vast majority of the guild stayed in World of Warcraft and in spite of my recruitment to other ventures… seemingly thrived. In fact I would say that right now Stalwart WoW was experiencing a bit of a renaissance with folks coming back that have long been dormant.
You can say this is the “Blizzcon Bump” but it seems a bit different for some reason. On my server Argent Dawn, I am seeing people showing up on my friends list that had disappeared years before I left the game. Even seeing familiar names popping into channels that out of nostalgia I am still joining. As much as I wanted to deny the fact, World of Warcraft is still thriving at least in pockets of players that have kept the embers of the community burning brightly. In my absence Rylacus has done a phenomenal job of “not messing with things” as he puts it. He has always been one of my closest and most loyal friends, and as I have been gone he has simply tried to continue on with what he thought I would do. It seems to have worked, because on week nights we tend to have 20-30 or more people online and active in doing something.
The only problem is that this maintaining the status quo has only caused to further some divides that started back in Cataclysm. When I said “A Guild Divided” in the section heading, I was not referring to the nomad gamers and the wow loyalists… but instead a rift that was always there but has deepened in my time away. Essentially our guild right now is a tale of two raids, the haves and the have-nots essentially. One raid has thrived clearing content and racking up the loot, while the other has floundered struggling to fill. There has been no intended malice, but the lesser performing raid has lost a lot of its brighter members to the better performing raid as folks sought out the path of easier loot. As a result there is more than a bit of bitterness and bad blood that has developed towards the alpha team.
Cleansing the Way
In the past I had served as a bridge between the two worlds, a bit of a buffer to lower the frustrations and aggressions. Rylacus has tried hard to fill these shoes but he simply does not have the volume of playtime that I do. Now that I am back at least for a bit I am trying my best to bridge this rift and hopefully mend the way between. As a result I have started tanking for the lesser progressed raid, and it seems like I am the difference between failure and success. The first week we downed new content, and it seemed so easy that I had no idea it wasn’t already on farm. The other tank is amazing to work with, and I am adjusting rapidly to this whole new concept for me of “no main tank”.
Additionally I am trying to attend the events sponsored by the alpha team to build the social equity there. The “big kids” have been gracious enough to host an open flex raid night on Mondays and this is getting betters of both teams in the same space. It is a bit awkward at times, but so far I think it has been an overall positive experience. The flex gear will help bolster both raids. The holidays have taken a big chunk out of our schedules, but I am hoping this week we can return to normality. In a sort of serendipity… several of my blogger and twitter friends have characters on Argent Dawn or are rerolling there. Going to try and get as many of them as I can into the open raid nights.
When I had come back for Pandaria the guild felt wrong to me. No one talked, no one worked together… and I really did not know how to fix it. Now coming back things are just different. Guild chat is full of lively conversation. Folks seem happy, and willing to help one another. Stalwart had survived all these years on a shared spirit, a feeling that we were all working together towards a greater good. During Cataclysm it feels that this spirit lost its way as we absorbed so many of the smaller satellite guilds that made up our non-guild-based raiding alliance. It feels though that in the midst of all of this a strong community has evolved. Here is hoping that I can be a catalyst towards solidifying this community into something truly great. If nothing else, I have been remembered and I still very much feel loved by my WoW family.