Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Returnenning, Part 1 - What Came Before

A few years ago I was playing World of Warcraft: I spent my free time raiding & making obscene amounts of gold. But the great Cataclysm was the end for me, or so I thought. It definitely marked the end of my raiding career, it took a while to slip those surly bonds entirely. So, what happened then and what's happening now?

I'd be lying if I said I was completely jazzed about the idea of playing World of Warcraft in the first place. I was pumped about EverQuest 2, then subsequently let down by it. That's when I got my hands on the WoW Beta, it wasn't much to look at in those days. In a lot of ways it seemed crude, and far too cartoonish for the next gen MMO scene. Add to this, there were no plans for the class I really wanted to play: the Death Knight.

I was coming out of a long stretch as an EverQuest player, so I wasn't completely into the idea of "another MMO" in the first place. It wasn't until I was at a friends house, I'd just gotten back into town (before likely going off to continue my cross country adventures). Danny and his younger brother Carl were playing WoW, it had only recently been released and I felt that exclusion that comes from hanging out with nerd friends while they're playing a video game. You want to hang, but they're balls deep in the game. And since you don't play, you're not part of the tribe, you have become the other.

Danny spent a little time trying to convince me I should play too, "Come on Hor, you know you want to come kick ass with us!"

My eventual response after hemming and hawing about how I wasn't that interested in the game was that the only way I'd play is if I didn't have to pay for the damned thing, I didn't think it was worth it. An hour later, I was installing the game on my computer and preparing to make my character. I had played a Shaman in EverQuest, and decided to continue in that vein, only to find Carl had already made one himself. I then decided to make a Warlock, but was overridden. "Dude, make a Mage. Yeah, that'd be badass!"

Considering I'd been railroaded into making a Wizard in EverQuest only a few months earlier by a different group of friends, I was less than enthused. But, they did just go buy me the game and pay for my first month of play time...

MALIGNOR of Blackrock
I created an Undead Mage, Malignor. I had a lot of fun, but ultimately I went off to do my own thing with a guild called Burning Sky. We raided, and were doing well. I was made the Mage Officer, before I left to greener pastures...

I went to another guild, Mediocrity. I learned a lot from my time in Medio, in particular I learned to hate being a Mage. But I got to pick the brain of the best (Faxmonkey) while I was there too, and that softened the sting of spending 1/4 of my raid time summoning bread and water. I cannot stress enough how I do not miss the days of being a glorified food vendor...

XOMBI of Malorne
After Mediocrity it was on to a different server, faction, and even class entirely. I sold Malignor (there was no character transfer services in those days), and rerolled as a Human Warlock on the Malorne server, his name was Xombi. Danny and Carl convinced me to join a guild called Absolution, where Danny was tanking it up on a Gnome Warrior gnamed Gnym (there might be too many Gs in this sentence).

I levelled from 1-60 in a couple of weeks (this was in Vanilla mind you), because the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj beckonned. This was a pretty hefty raid schedule time for me, basically all week doing different raids each night. We'd clear BWL on Tues and Thurs (Weds was a free day), then AQ all weekend. Monday we'd knock out Molten Core. It feels ridiculous typing it now, but yeah basically all week I was raiding. And it showed, I was completely dripping in awesome sauce gear by the time it was finished.

But it did finally finish, Gnym was lost to hacking or an ex, or something. I never quite understood what happened there. I spent some time thumping the battlegrounds with Xombi, then I reached out to my friends in Utah. They'd gotten me to play a Wizard in EverQuest, and they'd shown me the Beta for WoW. With Burning Crusade on the horizon though, I needed a change...

I rerolled on Bloodscalp as Burning Crusade was set to release, I was pretty burned out but I didn't blame the game. I felt there was still fun to have and things to see, I made an Orc Warlock, Nyarlothotep and I joined Face on Fire. This would be my home for years, it was the guild I really never thought I'd leave.

I didn't feel any pressure, and I was having fun. I can recall as an example running Shadow Labs with a Warrior trying to chase down mobs as the rest of us (2 Warlocks and 2 Shadow Priests) kept fearing and dotting the hell out of the rest of the instance.

By the end of BC we were getting the itch, the guild was large enough that people started hitting up a few raids here and there. Then Blizzard completely flipped the script with the announcement of Wrath of the Lich King. As you might have guessed if you've read this entire thing, I was intrigued about the new class. But not only was I totally into being a Death Knight myself, I was absolutely ready to fight the Lich King: I'd played Warcraft III and we had beef.

WoTLK did a lot for the game in general, it reinvigorated the game for me entirely. And before long we were all into the idea of raiding...

We started with the idea that we would raid only twice per week (Tues and Thurs), we knew we had limited time to work with so we had to ration it economically. And for a long time it worked, but with the different modes (10, 25 normal and heroics) burn out set in again. We cleared everything save for Heroic Lich King when Cataclysm dropped. And with Cata I made Realm First Enchanter. But that was the high water mark for me, we were poised to kick so much ass, but it all fell so terribly apart.

A guild we were friendly with (but much smaller than ours) was falling apart, we picked up their main tank, a Warrior and solid raid leader who we thought would be a perfect addition to the team. I was the guild's MT all through Wrath, but I could be led. And in fact, our raid leader was often a different officer entirely. I was always pretty silent in Vent when I was tanking unless it was to tell somebody to taunt or something.

I didn't care for explaining the fights beforehand, because I came from the school of thought that if you didn't already know what you were doing, you shouldn't be there (something I very much agreed with from my earlier time in Mediocrity). And with all of the various sites like TankSpot and NUMEROUS YouTube channels, basically everyone should have a working understanding of the fight at hand if they were interested in killing it.

But I digress, taking that tank was what killed us. We didn't know it at the time, but his attitude and general bullshit was what had broken up his previous guild (all really solid players). Shortly after he'd joined, we were approached by members of the old guild who were actually interested in all joining us - THAT would have been huge. They were a successful ten man guild that we'd already worked with in the past to complete some difficult achievements (World First Earth, Wind, and Fire 25 man for example).

It was the transition between Wrath raiding and Cata raiding, so there was a slew of new players who had no real loyalty to us anyway. And a guy ready to make a power play, because if he wasn't in charge things just weren't being done right. Several bad situations popped up, but nothing too drastic. Then a few people started leaving the guild. Then one day it happened, Frostvein whispered me and told me he was leaving.

Frost was my bro, always will be as far as I'm concerned.

And he was leaving, because of this bullshit drama. That was when I decided I'd had enough, I left to join the Alliance for a little while in the hopes of keeping me going. But that lasted all of a month, maybe. The magic was gone. And the guild fell apart behind me, it fractured and the Warrior along with at least one officer left to form their own guild. They talked a lot of mess on the forums and in game, they managed to raid for a short time, then they disappeared to another server. I had resigned myself to quit World of Warcraft, and was pretty happy with the decision honestly. Despite being in the #1 guild on the server now, I just wasn't enjoying raiding anymore. Then disaster struck my old guild again, my close friends from Utah had quit the game too and given leadership to Zelthas, Paladin and commander of Team Awesome. He got hacked and the guild was in chaos.

I got a call from a former guildie letting me know what had happened, so I logged on, transfered Khaas back to the Horde side and took the reigns. I held a meeting to let everyone know what was going on, things were going to be run very differently. And so over the next several months I restructured the guild and vetted my successor, a Druid who proved to be the perfect choice. The guild prospered, and I went silent for a while. I sat back and watched as they downed more bosses and generally kicked ass. There were a handful of people I knew from the old days, but not many. I changed the name of the guild, it was time for these guys to form their own identity, I dumped my gold into the guild bank (a LOT of gold) and logged off for the last time.

I logged on briefly some time ago when I got a free time pass and an upgrade to Mists of Pandaria, I wanted to see what the Monk class looked like. And satisfied that the game was still there, and that I had no interest in it still I let it go and went about my day for the next couple of years. Since then, my wife and I have moved (twice) and we have a son. And now, there's Warlords of Draenor and I'm left wondering what's new and different about me and the game I once loved? We shall see...

Part II coming soon...

Khaas the Insane

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