Wednesday, May 9, 2012

From Wrath to Cataclysm, Normal to Heroic

Last time I posted here was the tail-end of Wrath of the Lich King, and now it is that very same period, one expansion later.

We have several months to go, at the very least, before Mists of Pandaria's eagerly anticipated changes take place, before we have new content to explore. Most of the high-end guilds have downed the last boss of the expansion. With the twenty percent nerf firmly in place, many guilds are pursuing heroic modes.

This time, last expansion, I was floundering away on my RP server, overjoyed to find a raid group that would have me despite my predilection for roleplay. The expansion has changed a lot of things for me, and I have discovered the following-

Role play and raiding are best left separate.

Part of my problem in Wrath was that the character I most wanted to raid on, was also the character I role played on as my 'main'.

In Cataclysm, I tried very hard to make raiding work for me, but in the end, with the advent of guild perks and guild achievements, it was a tough world for a progression minded freelancer. After putting together a PuG group of competent role players (some of whom turned out to be sadly less competent than anticipated,) and watching it turn into a revolving door for folks to get geared and join Real raid groups and guilds, I gave up trying to lead my own. Joining another didn't help; then I had to deal with the fact that role players who raid often feel entitled to be unpleasant and critical in non-helpful ways towards those they feel are inferior raiders. Whether or not their criticisms ring true is irrelevant.

I got an offer that changed the entire face of my raiding career- an off-handed, casual sort of offer, from someone I'd met through role play.

I was invited to come to his server and raid heroic Firelands on my somewhat shabby restoration druid, to replace the one they'd had that left. The caveat was that the group was disbanding in three months, but I immediately jumped at the chance.

A server transfer later and I was experiencing the first hard modes of my life. I was terrified. I had no idea what I was doing. I did my best, I researched a little before hand, but it was all frantic and hectic and, to make it worse? I was two-healing with the holy paladin, who was quite cheerfully carrying my lagging numbers.

But I got better. And I thrived. I won't say I was the best they'd had, because that would probably be untrue. But what the experience did teach me was that I was capable and happy to do heroic content; that my technical knowledge and ability to learn encounters would allow for it, and that I could even thrive in such an environment.

A server first deathwing kill later, and the Dream Team disbanded for SWTOR... I transferred my druid back and hunted for a new raid team, intending to put her in an Actual Raid Guild, since I'd had such a better experience that way.

The next team I encountered included a very good friend of mine, so I jumped to join. They were a small ten man team with an eye toward heroic modes, but they already had a restoration druid.

My poor, neglected Shaman's time had come. Enter Miurne, a lightly role played but mostly abandoned character decked out in 346 heroic gear and never touched a raid since reaching level cap. I studied. I got her prepared. And we kicked Deathwing in the face, with some struggle.

We ended up 4/8 heroic before burn-out happened. The were were some things that I didn't enjoy as much about being in that group. We only had ten players; if any one person didn't show, we wouldn't see progression. If any one person was late, we all waited. There were some disagreements about strategy that turned into passive-aggressive vent dropping; there was trolling intended in jest, that went too far. Feelings were hurt. The team suffered for it, and it made for an environment that was frequently stressful to me; though I distanced myself from both trolling and raging alike, the presence of it got to be distracting and unpleasant.

I thought I'd be relieved, when the group finally collapsed; I was glad to have my evenings back, but as soon as it disbanded, I felt sudden, crippling sadness that I would never accomplish what I wanted to this expansion: Kill the end boss on heroic. I would never live to see my healing potential realized, just like I never got to kill Arthas in Wrath or ever see heroic content while it was relevant and hard.

I also missed my old guildies. Despite the drama and angst, we were quite close.

I knew I had to fill the void somewhere... so I started looking, and I found exactly what I was hoping for...

But would my experience level allow for it? A derpy role playing raider, applying to the guild of people whose blogs she'd read for years?

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