It's been a while, eh? Two months is the longest break I've taken from this blog in a long, long time.
What have I done in the time away? Nothing much, really. I worked on some home projects, I've gotten together with my collaborator and we're working seriously on our first real game development project, I've managed to cobble an outline together for my novel that I'm very excited about. I've even rejoined my old dungeons and dragons group that players just about every week on Thursday nights and that is a great way to kick up my heels and hang out with friends I haven't seen because of my raid commitments for a long time. Hanging out with my son also takes up a lot of time, and I'm really enjoying the summer, going to the playground with him, hiking in the parks or taking him to the various zoos, gardens and museums in New York.
And.... I've managed to continue puttering about WoW without joining another hardcore raiding guild. I'm kind of glad on the one hand and kind of missing it a lot on another. It's a weird thing to game in an old and familiar if very casual way.
I transferred back to the Alliance side on my old server and my old friends and I started raiding a couple of nights, quite casually, and it's very slow going compared to what the rest of the expansion has been like.... but it's not without its charm.
For one, playing with old, familiar faces is great. I love hearing Thistle and Washburne and Kaelie and Sticky and Issacc on vent. They're all awesome and it feels like home to be raiding with them again. We've also met a couple of new friends who're quite awesome to raid with, very funny and nice and good players to boot. For another, I'm enjoying returning to a leading role that I've missed in my last two guilds - true, tanks always have some level of authority but I'm enjoying running raids again.
The not so good is the difference in playstyle between hardcore raiders and the more casual raiding that we're doing now. It's not that the players are better or worse, it's just different. There's a difference in attitude, there's a difference in the approach to problems, in the approach to wipes - I have a great appreciation for what hardcore raiding taught me, which was the value of quick recoveries and repeated attempts to learn rhythm and fix problems.
More than any of that, though, is the value of wiping. I had well over a hundred wipes on Heroic Amber Shaper when we killed it. Nobody was frustrated by those attempts, even when those wipes were coming 7 or 8 minutes into a fight near the end, as we were experimenting with ways of minimizing phase 3.
In a more casual environment, a dozen wipes feels like too much and I wonder if I'm not just pushing too hard and maybe I should just lay back on the throttle a bit.
Anyway, I'm really only playing 2 nights a week and not having a steady raid team certainly hurts. We typically wind up picking up at least PUGs every week it looks like, and that isn't helping matters any.
But. All that aside, I'm enjoying the game. I don't have any delusions of chasing a US top 200 ranking or anything anymore, but with 2 nights a week, I'm looking to get together a group that clears through normal modes and hanging out with friends.
Of course, if we should find that our skill and gear level improves, I would not say no to pushing a bit harder on the accelerator and start pulling heroic bosses now and again. But not at the cost of the new stuff I've added into my life.
Someone has to get that gear, after all. 5.4 looks to only be a couple of months away....
If you want to raid with us Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 9pm to 12am CST, I'm looking for a tank and healer and maybe some ranged DPS. ;-)