For the Alliance! Wait, what?

For the past eight years, since I came back to World of Warcraft, I have been a dedicated Horde player.

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.

Until now…

Now, I still love Thunder. We’re still together as a guild, still active and still got plenty of members. However, at heart I’m a raider, and have been since 2009.

Over the course of the past few expansions raiding is something that Thunder has had somewhat of a difficult and attritional relationship with.

Ever since flex & mythic raiding actually at the end of Mists of Pandaria. Prior to this we were a staunchly Heroic raiding guild, and did our damndest to clear each tier on heroic before the next tier released.

And to be fair we’ve managed to do that for every tier I’ve raided (and raid led) in Thunder since Wrath. However since the end of Mists we’ve struggled, consistently, to get and keep good players. Players that are capable of execution and output and help push us through to the conclusion of each tier. Legion however seems to have ramped that up.

With the changes in Legion to how people approach their main spec choice, in that they’re pretty much locked in for the most part, this has made players more focused in their approach to the game. Add in the AP grind, the changes to gearing strats that came via Mythic+ and the expansion of the warforging systems, we’ve seen players starting to out-gear the raid team average and seek newer pastures to progress beyond what the guild has currently reached.

And now that includes me.

Not that I’ve been chain running M+ dungeons, or have surpassed the raid team average in gear level (I’m on a par there), but we have really struggled since the New Year to get and keep good solid players, and progression has again stalled as a result.

Since the start of Feb we’ve killed only one new boss (Aluriel), and the past 10 days has seen 75% of our raids cancelled due to lack of signups. The 1 raid we did get out we killed the first 3 Heroic bosses, then struggled on Krosus and Aluriel, both of whom we’ve already killed. Even with 2 pug ranged DPS we ended up calling the raid 30 minutes early as a result.

This frustration at progress in Thunder is something that’s niggled at me for years. For years I’ve been trying to push us to go faster, more efficiently, learn from wipes and down what should be farm bosses more consistently, to be better, quicker and progress more.

But the most recent stagnation in progression has the familiar feel of Warlords all over again. In WoD once Legion was announced our raid team essentially fell apart as people unsubbed, and for the remainder of the final tier I was largely left by myself, pugging Heroic HFC (and cleared it).

So once Legion rolled around, I made the decision to start playing both sides of the game, Alliance included, as I felt I was missing out on a significant portion of the game concentrating purely on Horde as I had been since ’09.

So I put the call out on Twitter and was invited to join up with some friends I’d made there, and a short guild hop later with those guys to form a new guild, Treehugging Hippies, I had a new Blue home. For the past several months I’ve been asked repeatedly to make the move full time, but so far had resisted, feeling a deep loyalty to the raid team in Thunder, to try and push on in EN/ToV and latterly Nighthold.

But with the quick stagnation of progress over the course of Nighthold, the loss of key members of the raid side and the lack of signups, yesterday I decided I’d had enough.

So I left.

Not altogether, I will stress that. I’m still going to be levelling my hunter & priest Horde side, but at the moment I have no max level Horde characters.

I will still be playing there and participating on our forums. However I have stood down as one of our Guild Leaders (Thunder operates as a Council>Officers>Members structure), but have offered to carry on administration of the website & forums.

But late yesterday evening I transferred my druid, my raiding main, to Silvermoon to join up with Treehugging Hippies. THH are nearly cleared in Heroic NH, working on HC Guldan and just about to begin Mythic progression this coming reset. Gear wise they’re not light years ahead of me (only about 10 ilevels or so), and only 4 bosses ahead of me in Heroic NH, as I’m currently at Thunder’s 5/10 progression.

I’m under no illusions that I’ll have some work to do now, and that I’ll be firmly rooted to the bottom of the DPS meters for a while in raids, but THH had need of a ranged DPS with a healing OS. Given my experience with Resto but currently maining a ranged DPS spec (Balance) I fit their bill perfectly.

This change works well for me too, because I want to progress at a faster pace in raiding, and be clearing heroic tiers a lot quicker than Thunder have been recently. The change to playing mainly Alliance, the reduction in guild responsibility (no raid leading!) and just enjoy playing in higher level content and concentrate on improving myself in that regard is like a breath of fresh air.

Another plus is the earlier raid times. Thunder raid from 10pm to 1am server time (9pm-12am UK time), and that’s something that I’ve struggled with over the past year. THH raid two* hours earlier, which means I can get to bed a full two hours earlier on raid nights than in Thunder (bliss!)

*Updated: I thought it was only an hour, but Wrel pointed out it’s actually two hours earlier! Thanks Wrel!

THH also only raid twice a week, which matches up with my own personal raid limitations perfectly. Thunder run 3 nights a week, so I was always missing 1 raid a week. 2 night raiding in THH means I can sign up for all main raids, which will be great as I won’t be missing out on any nights (rotation aside). THH also run a more relaxed alt raid at the weekends, which I can join in with if I’m free too.

After being in Thunder for 8 years, in a position of responsibility for the most part, making this change was incredibly stressful.

I know, it’s only a game, but it was a change I dreaded making. The people of Thunder are like an extended family and some of them I’ve known longer than the people I work with every day, and one of them I’ve known longer than my wife (from my old Quake 2/3 days 17 years ago)!

But, like everyone else, I pay to play this game, and I feel I have the right to play it in a manner that makes me happy, and this change does. It really does. That’s no slight on Thunder, at all, as I still love them to bits, but this change means:

  • Faster raid progression and thus less frustration at the pace of same.
  • Further raid progression, with Mythic kills a reality.
  • Much earlier raid times, meaning more sleep \o/
  • Less responsibility, meaning less stress for me.
  • No more missing raid nights because I can only raid twice a week (wife aggro).
  • Fresh Faction story.
  • New friends & new faces.
  • New races to play with.

They say a change is as good as a rest, and following my severe burn out over Xmas & New Year this should drop the overall stress level that I’ve felt over the past several months back to a level where I can just flat out enjoy playing again.

I look forward to the remainder of the expansion with great hope, tinged with no small regret.