I am, more or less, ready to stop raiding (although this won’t happen until the end of September 4th’s reset).
I am, more or less, ready to hang up the ol’ Lightforge armor and Beastmaster armor, along with my Rhok’delar (although this won’t happen until early November at the earliest).
It’s not just because I’ve been playing for nearly seven years. It’s not just because I’m tired and have other stuff in my real life I should really be paying attention to, either.
It’s because I have satisfied my curiosity.
I couldn’t quit after Vanilla, because I’d just gotten a small taste of raiding. Just enough to get me hooked. I wanted more! I wanted epic boss fights, I wanted to experience things I never came close to experiencing in Vanilla. So I continued in Burning Crusade, even swapping to the paladin to heal to ensure I could raid. While I did get to experience what I’d missed in Vanilla…
I couldn’t quit after Burning Crusade, because hey, my guild had effing cleared all BC content through Illidan and we wanted more! I was excited to go through Naxx at level 80, deal with increases in difficulty like Sarth with 0, 1, 2 or 3 drakes. I was ready to lead my guild to new heights. Except that people bailed and we were caught flat-footed and just not ready and never got out of the starting gate. So I hopped around to other guilds — Bronzebeard, Proudmoore and Skywall were my homes during Wrath and, to this day, I still think I’m on a whole other server when I’m in Dalaran and I have a brief moment of “wait, where the hell am I right now?” any time I’m in that city.
I couldn’t quit after Wrath of the Lich King, because hey, I was putting my guild back together, by golly. I was putting my old crew back together and collecting some of the newer people I had met in my travels around the different servers and guilds. It was an expansion full of hope, with a lot of hard work ahead of me. But I was ready for the challenge.
I’ll be buying Mists of Pandaria and checking things out, but I’ll be done raiding. Why can I do it this time?
For the first time, I’ve cleared an entire tier of heroic content. Never did get 25-man H Anub’Arak down, never did get 25-man H Lich King down, didn’t get Sinestra, didn’t get H Rag. But I got H Spine and H Madness.
For the first time, I’ve had an actual server-first boss kill. Apotheosis killed Heroic Hagara the Stormbinder and it was the first of all other guilds on Eldre’Thalas. (Fit to burst with pride, you guys. This was an amazing moment.)
For the second and third times, I’ve earned my meta achievement (I had the ICC 25-man one, then got the Firelands and Dragon Soul ones), but it was the first (and second) time I’d ever lead a raid group to those achievements.
I would have always wondered “what if?”, had I quit after Wrath of the Lich King. “What if I had gotten Apotheosis back together?” “What if we were the top 25-man guild on the server?” “What if we cleared all the current content in a single tier?”
I’ve answered those questions and it’s due to the amazing work my raid team does, night after night and wipe after wipe.
I’ve also answered the most important question: “What if I got my old crew from Burning Crusade back together? Could we ever recapture the magic of those good ol’ days?”
The answer to that is, surprisingly, no. We never did recapture that magic. And that was okay. A guild is a living, breathing organism. It has a pulse. It has a personality. Every single person makes up a part of the guild and, thus, part of its personality.
Is it okay that we couldn’t recapture the magic? Yes.
Is what the guild is currently like such a bad thing? Absolutely not. We really eclipsed our progress this time around versus in Burning Crusade content and maintained our personality standards, not to mention our respect of each other.
But it’s not the same. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy myself, but it’s not why I rebuilt the guild, using many of my old BC crew to start. The spark is different. And that’s okay. But it’s still different.
I gave it a shot. I didn’t get what I expected. I’m not unhappy with what I got, not by a long shot, but it’s not why I put the guild back together and it’s not going to get me to stay, not the way the old BC guild would have.
It’s a great guild that is competitive in terms of progression, respectful in terms of its other members and other players and it’s a guild that I am continually humbled to have had a hand in leading throughout the last two years.
My curiosity is sated, though. I’ve gotten a server-first. I’ve cleared a heroic tier. I’ve lead a team to meta raid achievements. And I discovered that missing inbreds, a green-haired gnome, a certain skateboarding Spell Reflecting tank, The Shield (who tanked the floor), Group 4 (including Euphayyyyyy), a certain non-kiting ele shammy and so many more meant that the guild had changed enough for me to be able to step away.
I’m not gone yet, but it was a moment of personal clarity I had the other day when I asked myself why I could leave now when I couldn’t leave last time.
It’s rare that I get to start and end things on my terms and I’m so glad that my adventures in Azeroth will end without any other persistent “what if…?” questions.
So I feel good about my decision. I feel ready. And I am still so very proud to be a part of the team that achieved so much in Cataclysm. They will kick some serious ass in Mists. And somewhere, lurking in the shadows of the forums, I’ll be beaming with pride for my former compatriots as they move forth into Pandaria and dominate the way I know they can. :)