Once upon a time dear reader, I was a member of the mighty Horde. I fought and lived and breathed Lok’tar Ogar, and followed my Warchief with unwavering loyalty, and then…
When I re-subscribed I immediately sought out a guild, the sister guild of the old Alliance guild I’d started off WoW in during the middle 6 months of 2006 (Gnome Warlock!). I’ve been a member there now for just over 8 years, and been a member, raider, guild leader, ex-member for a week (long story), guild leader again, and for the most part, a raid leader too.
That guild is Thunder and since Feb/March 2009 I never looked back.
So, you may have noticed, if you’ve been following my recent tweets, that I’ve been playing a lot of different alts and a lot of them are on the Alliance side of the fence.
I’ve decided that come Legion, despite the fact that I’ll be maining a Guardian Druid for my horde guild, Thunder, it’s time for a bit of a change.
I’m not one for rapidly changing classes or specs, having played my Prot Paladin for over 6 years before changing to my Hunter last year.
However given the all-encompassing changes that Hunters are seeing in Legion, which may or may not result in an enjoyable experience for me, another change may become inevitable.
So, given that it’s a bit further on in the previously Alpha and now Beta process of changes, let’s see where my thoughts lie now.
As per the previous article, Rogue, Shaman, Mage, Warrior and DK are all fairly much out of the running due to intrinsic feeling of “meh” I have towards them.
Or, how to cope during downtime…
So, Blizzard announced Legion as the follow up to Warlords of Draenor about 6 weeks ago, and whilst we were all excited to see what comes next, the announcement has had a palpable negative effect on the game as it stands right now. So how can we cope in the downtime?
Too soon Executus, too soon!
Blizzard mistimed the announcement of Legion. They announced it way too early in my opinion. Just look at what has happened with the game since the reveal back in mid-August: the population of the game as it stands has declined massively again. Subs may be active, but people aren’t physically playing right now. Is this because people no longer view WoD as current content?
Possibly, because once you announce what’s coming next, it takes the shine off of the current expansion (or in WoD’s case what little there was of it to begin with) and people just want the next big shiny content drop.
The announcement killed interest in playing the current game for far too many people, and raiding especially has massively suffered as a result. Certainly on my trio of merged servers raid signups right across the server have dropped to an all time low.
Our raid signups seemed to dry up a week or two right after the announcement, and presently we can barely scrape a 10 man side together at the moment to get anything on the go. We’re testing out joint raids with another guild on the server just to see if we can get regular games out, but it’s a largely untested premise as yet.
What Blizzard should have done was hold on, at least until Blizzcon, and done the big reveal there. At least there might have been a chance of a beta right after, igniting people’s interest even further still, because as it is, it was a brief bright burst of interest for a week or two, before dying back down to a background noise level and taking more subs out of the game.
Coping in the downtime is hard
As we continue to get closer to the Legion release date, whatever that may be (we should get it revealed at Blizzcon), continued long term interest in the game will surely wane further still.
In fact, the longer that players are out of the game for, the less likely they will feel like they’re still invested in the game as a whole, and the less chance there is of them coming back with any great gusto and renewed longer-term plans come Legion.
As this happens, communities and guilds within the game will only continue to fracture and break down as more and more players let their subscriptions lapse.
This in itself places further peril upon the long term future of the game, as subs numbers continue to decline. The subs decline over the course of WoD has been screamingly and worryingly rapid. Faster than any expansion drop off before it.
Even during the 14 months of Siege of Orgrimmar at the end of Mists there was nowhere near the level of drop off that WoD has seen during the first six months of the expansion.
Was Mists a fluke?
I read an article on Forbes the other day from a game analyst and WoW player that stated that after Wrath, WoW’s storyline was essentially done. Everything after that has felt like an added on excuse to keep the game going long after the main protagonist has left the stage. And up to a certain point, I find it hard to disagree with him.
Cataclysm was terrible, and until WoD it was the worst expansion without question. Unlike WoD however, the first tier and first six months of Cata were its strong point. Tier 11 was one of my favourite raid tiers.
The remaining raid tiers in Cata were pathetic, with minimal bosses and massive recycling of mobs and locations. Mind you we’d see Blizzard being even more environmentally conscious and recycle mounts, quest rewards and storylines in WoD…
Mists came along after Cata and whilst the so called purists hated the entire premise “Pandas, in my game? Eurgh!”, those of us who actually went with it and played it loved it.
The oft-mentioned dailies burn out at the start of Mists, and the poor quality of the Heart of Fear raid instance aside, Mists was IMO the best expansion overall, very narrowly edging Wrath out of the number one spot.
Then Warlords came out. Everyone was massively hyped for it, they loved the notion of seeing these iconic figures brought to life again, and they presented a real and credible threat not only to Draenor, but potentially to Azeroth as well.
I mean, we were going up against the pre-nascent Lich King in Ner’zhul for crying out loud, and he was only ONE of them!
Then he got killed in a 5 man dungeon and everyone went, “Erm, what? Nah, he’ll be back, he’s the fucking Lich King bitches!”
Spoiler: He, like over 5m others in the game, didn’t come back.
Levelling was excellent, as I’ve often admitted, the first couple of times through. It was fresh and different, and it seemed like there were a stack of things to discover.
But after those first few trips through the 90 to 100 journey, it slowly became apparent that there wasn’t really anything worth discovering out in the world, and the levelling process then quickly became very strained and we were back to the normal drudgery on the scale of pure quest levelling again.
The Warlords themselves were all dispensed with rather rapidly and without much fanfare. In fact the only Warlords that got anything more than insultingly minimal lip-service were Blackhand, Kilrogg and Daddy Hellscream.
Even Garrosh, the reason we were here to begin with, was killed off cheaply in a cut scene. Naturally by the green Jebus himself, kill stealing a major villain in a cut scene for the second time (Deathwing anyone?), robbing players of any agency in his demise. Criminal.
But then again, robbing players of agency was something Blizzard has excelled at in Warlords, but I’ve spoken about that already at great length…
How to cope with lengthy downtime periods?
So how does one cope with these periods in WoW, where raiding is for all intents and purposes dead in the water, and progression is by and large finished? Especially in an expansion like Warlords, where non-raid content was already very thin on the ground to begin with?
Well, if you’re anything like me you are a bundle freak, and you more than likely have an embarrassingly large pile of neglected games on various services, most likely Steam. At this present moment my Steam collection numbers over 620 games, and according to SteamDB, I’ve not played 72% of those.
Now a large percentage of that 72% will be games that came in bundles that I have absolutely zero interest in playing. Similarly I have about 50+ games in my Gog.com account, only a handful of which I’ve played at all, let alone completed.
That’s one of the reasons I was trying to run game giveaways several months ago, but given that that initiative fell flat on its arse I knocked it in the head. I guess people just don’t like free games…
So the obvious route to go is other AAA games, even other Blizzard games. However over the past couple of years, I’ve found I’ve gotten a lot more joy from playing games from the more Indie end of the gaming spectrum. Games like Ori and the Blind Forest, A Story about my Uncle, Her Story, Pillars of Eternity (currently 50% off!) etc etc.
In fact the only AAA game I can remember playing recently outside of the Blizzard stable that I’ve really enjoyed is the one I’m currently playing, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (hence the header image, make sure to use this -23% voucher though!), Hideo Kojima’s final MGS game. One that brings the MGS storyline full circle, and is seemingly Konami’s last big release outside of yearly PES updates.
Quick side note: If you’ve been completely in the dark about recent goings on over at Konami and why Castlevania and Silent Hill and indeed MGS are now all but dead franchises, I thoroughly recommend you go
The 2 weekends before last (one of which was even after I’d quit) were very difficult, and saw us bleed members for a short while.
A lot of drama caused by someone (an officer no less) who liked to bully and manipulate guild members but took offence at being punished for doing so!
On his way out he tried (and failed) to smear the remaining officer structure and sow mistrust in those left, in order to try and destroy the guild. So he was removed, but not before causing a huge amount of drama and taking a lot of his clique with him. But the whole drama also sadly caused some long term members of the guild to leave for other pastures as well. I’m still hopeful we can get some of these members to reconsider and return soon.
After I quit I received a tonne of forum PM’s, whispers, emails, Facebook messages & posts etc all asking me to reconsider my stepping away from the guild. Given how much the people still left there showed how much they care, I decided that I would come back. However this time things will be different.
For a start, we’ve re-instated the Guild Council, of which I am now a part. We have 5 people now back in charge of the guild, rather than it all resting on one person’s shoulders. Being sole GM of a guild like Thunder was too much stress, and it burnt out the 2 people to hold the role, so the council structure works best for us. We’ll be running with a smaller officer core as well, covering those roles not already covered by members of the GC. Our raid leaders, previously officers, will no longer be part of the officer structure, as skills required for one job (RL) didn’t necessarily automatically mean that the person was going to be a good officer. It worked for a while, but then people started thinking that they were untouchable and could treat others however they liked, no matter how badly.
So asses were handed, doors were shown, and we lost a fair few bodies.
However, Thunder survives. It has done for 9 years and will continue to do so. We resume raiding this week now that the dust has settled and we can begin again, as we do with every guild split that we’ve undergone during those 9 years. I’ve been in Thunder now for 6 of those 9 years, and I’ve been through this same situation about 7 or 8 times now, and each time we carry on, resolute. The same can’t be said of the majority of guilds birthed from Thunder, and no doubt, somewhere down the line, we’ll get some of those that left looking to come back. In fact we’ve already had a few return already
The people who stayed (and there are still plenty) are the core of what I consider makes Thunder the great guild it’s always been: Mature, relaxed, fun to be around, and not prone to drama!
So that’s why I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks. Dealing with drama llamas and the shit that they attempted to fling.
And in order to help me deal with the stress, I’ve moved my druid to Alliance on a PvP server, and joined a small guild there with some Thunder guildies and some new people. It’s a nice change, and the server seems pretty cool as well, fairly mature and not full of kids spewing bile like quite a lot of other PvP servers whose populations I’ve had dealings with. I’ll probably move my Alliance Hunter over there as well. Not that there’s a lot of world PvP happens (which is good for me, being the PvE Care Bear that I am), because the server population is split something ridiculously skewed like 1,000:1!
So I expect I’ll be splitting my time between Horde & Alliance now, especially more so as I level my druid (and probably the hunter too) up to 100 and begin gearing. Not that I’ll be raiding there, but it always helps when soloing old content and making gold
Anyhoo, drama over, stress relieved and time to return to the regularly scheduled programming!
Before I get talking about Mythic, I want to talk about our own progression in BRF. With Thunder doing our normal business of starting off nice and slow, and building up to a finish, we’ve begun in Blackrock Foundry in Normal Mode, and so far we’ve got up to 9/10 down inside of the first 4 nights, and we’re going to be starting work on Blackhand next night out.
We intend to get cracking in Heroic next reset, so we’ve a full night on Blackhand to get him down in Normal mode before we move onto heroic. I’m hoping it’s not going to be a situation like Highmaul where we only kill the final boss a handful of times, but the main difference here is we’ve got BRF until the next full raid tier comes out in 6.2.
6.1 hasn’t even dropped yet, so it looks like we’ve got ourselves BRF for at least another 5/6 months.
Personally I think separating the instances like this was a mistake, as realistically no-one’s going to go back now to Highmaul, especially given the difference in gear levels; Normal mode BRF drops gear only 5 iLevels below Heroic Highmaul! Hardly something worth worrying about in all honesty, although no doubt the min-maxers amongst you would argue otherwise!
So effectively there’s content that’s already invalidated, 3 months into the expansion!
Mythic: Was it worth it?
Anyhow, a world away from Thunder in the race for world first, Midwinter this very morning have leaped to the top of the rankings with their Mythic kill of Iron Maidens, bringing them up to 8/10, very shortly followed by Paragon.
3 days after the content opened on Mythic.
And here was me thinking that Mythic would’ve been harder than old pre-WoD Heroic mode.
Well it doesn’t look like it. In fact it looks as though it was just an excuse to get rid of the arguments about 10 vs 25 and who was really better. And instead, we’ve now got the majority of guilds locked out of doing the hardest level of content because they (and their server population) can’t support Mythic raiding for anything more than a handful of guilds.
Was it really worth ending those arguments, just to lock out the majority of guilds from even stepping foot inside the content? I don’t think it was to be honest, and Blizzard may look back on this change, a change working against the vast majority of the player base, and come to regret it eventually.
And with that said, did it settle any arguments? No, it didn’t. Because none of the teams that were previously World #1 chasers in either 10 or 25 are that far off the pace as it stands:
- Midwinter (8/10)
- Paragon (8/10)
- Method (7/10)
- Blood Legion (7/10)
- Ascension (7/10)
That’s the ranking of the top 5 guilds at the time of writing, and all of them were top guilds in the 10/25 races back in the pre-mythic days. So no, it hasn’t settled any arguments. Top guilds are top guilds, regardless of raid size, and will always challenge for the top spots.
Good luck to everyone for the final 2 bosses!