While on beta, chatting with Matticus about paladin healing, he accused me of being depressing on my blog sometimes. ;) While this is absolutely true, since I’m usually spurred to write in my blog because of something that makes me facepalm or want to cry, I thought I’d try something a little different today.
Over the last several months, I’ve heard from a lot of people about a variety of topics (and I have more to say about the hunter stuff, including responses to people, but that’s another blog entry) but one comment that always surprises me is the one that has to do with my being a progression raider and still being “nice” enough to talk to those who aren’t big-name bloggers or raiding what I’m raiding.
On Sunday night, I had the opportunity to invite a player to Apotheosis, my Burning Crusade-era guild that I’m reforming for Cataclysm. Apple has the intention of healing as a holy paladin in the next expansion and she’d like to do it with Apotheosis. So I promoted her to the internal rank of Member. The ranks will be redone and most everyone will be demoted to Initiate to begin with, but I know that Apple will work hard to get this toon to 80 and I know she’s been reading my blog voraciously to learn what to do now and how to do it differently later on when Cataclysm is released. To me, it was a no-brainer to promote her to Member in anticipation of her working to earn her raid spot.
I read the blog entry I linked above and my smile nearly broke my face.
I think a lot of people who don’t raid the highest levels of progression are really intimidated by those of us who do. There are those who are jealous, those who are intimidated, those who are bitter, those who don’t care and those who are sort of awestruck and probably more types of people as well.
But I think there are people who are intimidated by higher-end raiders and the proof is in Apple’s blog post or Will’s tweets to me telling me that I’m down-to-earth and how he’s surprised.
So I’ll tell you a secret. I’m down-to-earth about my progression (although admittedly unforgiving on basics of raiding/classes/etc) because it wasn’t long ago that I was that casual raider who didn’t know WTF she was doing.
I started playing this game in October of 2005. That’s like, five years ago.
I stumbled into a social levelling guild, courtesy of my brother.
My brother promptly LEFT the guild to go do this mysterious thing called “raiding” with another guild. He described the Rag fight to me and I discovered Ragnaros had OVER A MILLION HEALTH. And instantly, I knew that I wanted to do these encounters.
So I set out to get my guild to raid. The desire was there, but there was no organization, no one tried to do anything and so the 60s who hit 60 in the guild just up and left, looking for a guild that raided.
The guild I was in was called Fated Heroes. We eventually gathered enough in-house people and recruits to do ZG, AQ20 and set foot in Molten Core. We ran our first ZG on April 1st, 2006 and spent three hours trying to kill Venoxis, which we finally did do.
By the time we stopped raiding in November of 2006, we had cleared ZG, including Jin’do, several times. We’d gotten to 3/6 AQ20. We’d spawned Majordomo twice, although never attempted him. We’d gotten Onyxia into phase 3, but had never downed her with just us (although many of us got her down together when another guild on the server was putting together a pug).
Throughout this time, we farmed the 5-mans and Blackrock Spire. We did the 0.5 quest chains. We worked hard to get our upgrades, we worked hard to bring in recruits who would help out and we were the ones standing there, slack-jawed in Ironforge when the main tank of Eternal Force, Thack, walked around with his fancy Scarab Lord title on his Black Qiraji mount. I was all proud of having my Zandalar shoulders because it required getting to Revered with the Zandalar Tribe… and there’s Thack, the main tank of EF, in his 9/9 Tier 3, just standing there in Ironforge.
Was it intimidating? Yes. To see people walking around in Judgement Armor or sporting Thunderfury or Quel’Serrar was intimidating. It was infuriating. It seemed to us that the only way to get into a raiding guild was to have raid gear, which meant having to raid, but how do you raid if you’re not in a raiding guild?
So a few of us pulled together and basically dragged Fated Heroes through ZG, some of AQ and 8/10 Molten Core.
By golly, we wanted to raid, so we were GOING to raid.
The guild imploded for a variety of reasons, but we sort of reconvened in May of 2007 and reformed as Apotheosis on June 1, 2007 with the shared goal of clearing BC content.
This is where we learned how to play. We learned about hit rating, crit immunity, how to avoid crushing blows, when crowd control was necessary (oh God, Tempest Keep trash when you’re undergeared is terrible) and when it wasn’t (CAN DAYDEN TANK IT?!).
We learned about cleaves and how standing in front of a boss who cleaves is bad. We learned about how standing in fire can be detrimental to your health and your raid leader’s blood pressure. We learned how to execute things together as a team.
And still, we were behind in progression. Of course we were. Everyone had a huge head start on us. We only killed Maulgar on September 2nd, 2007 and Gruul on September 11th, 2007. When Burning Crusade ended, Apotheosis was the only guild that had cleared Black Temple (all of three times, thank you very much) without downing anything in Sunwell. We finished 9th on the server, 6th on Alliance.
We were still looking up at other raiders, like those in Epic Again and Tempest, two guilds that had continued into BC from Vanilla. We were lucky to have even one, MAYBE two pieces of our Tier 6 sets and looked at those who had all four pieces from Sunwell for the set bonuses and the other non-set pieces that blew the Hyjal/BT pieces out of the water. We’d made a lot of progress, but the truth of the matter is, some of us felt like we were still those Fated Heroes; sitting in our Zandalar set while looking at Thack in 9/9 T3.
We made some costly mistakes at the start of Wrath and so on March 1, 2009, we stopped 25-man raiding. I’ve been bouncing around other servers since. I’ve gotten a couple of server firsts since I last raided with Apotheosis. I’ve gotten my Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher for Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25). I’ve been killed by the Lich King on heroic. I’ve been the last healer standing on heroic Putricide and seen him die.
I’ve been around the block this expansion — I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, written a crapton about my experiences.
When I went 11/12 in ICC 25 hard modes, I looked over at Eldre’Thalas’ progression. There was Epic Again… at 9/12. And it dawned on me that even if there’s no one left in Epic Again who was there in pre-BC, that guild is still one of the guilds we all looked up to and envied. They had gotten into Naxx, pre-BC, and done well! They’d cleared all but Kil’jaeden in BC. But there they were, two progression bosses behind me.
Do you know how that felt?
Wrong. It felt wrong.
It felt wrong that I, a Fated Hero at heart, was ahead of Epic Again in progression.
It felt wrong that I, a Fated Hero at heart, was ahead of Epic Again in progression on another server with another group of people.
In that moment, I wanted to be on Eldre’Thalas, surrounded by my Apotheosis crew, the core of whom are Fated Heroes, too.
The Fated Heroes among us are scrappy. We’re hungry for progression. We want to see content. We want to progress along with the other big guilds on the server. It’s a feeling of inadequacy we’re trying to alleviate and we’ve had that feeling for over four years in many cases.
It was that attitude that kept us holding on through Burning Crusade, even when things looked bleak. We pushed, dammit. We wanted it. We got it. We killed Illidan! The freaking Fated Heroes killed ILLIDAN. We were Hands of A’dal. Killing the bosses 6 months or a year after others didn’t matter too much. Just doing it at all, and together, meant something to us. It’s not about epeen or reputation or status, not really. It’s knowing that we had seen what the big guilds had seen and we proved that we could hold our own against the same measuring stick. In my heart, I’m still a Fated Hero. I’m not “nice”, I’m not “down-to-earth”. This is just who I am and who I’ve always been in this game. Progression is progression, whether you’re competing for server firsts or you’re just determined to get your crew through that encounter. You do it for the challenge, not necessarily the loot or the bragging rights. You do it so you can say you did it with your friends, your companions, your brothers and sisters in arms. Despite my personal success this expansion, I’ve experienced a huge loss — I couldn’t progress with my guild, I couldn’t lead us to this point. I made mistakes that cost us. So even though I have my drake and various titles from “Twilight Vanquisher” (when it was still current content) “Astral Walker” (when it wasn’t really current), I’m still one of those people who envies the gear someone might have. I admit, that happens less often these days, but I’m still someone who wants to do this kind of progression with my old crew, on my old server.
I’ve learned an incredible amount of stuff about this game, about raiding, about people over the last five years and I think that maybe I’m ready to help lead Apotheosis to success in Cataclysm. I think that maybe this is our expansion to finish in the top five of the server. I think that I’ve learned from my mistakes and failures. I think that I’ve learned from my successes. I think that I’m ready to listen to my officers and what they’ve learned in the last year and a half since we all raided together. Three of my six 80s are back at home on Eldre’Thalas and are ready for the next step.
Whatever happens as Cataclysm launches, I know that I will face it with the same attitude I’ve had since the very first time I heard about Ragnaros; if you want it, get your stuff together and do it yourself. No one’s going to hand it to you. You have to work for it. You may succeed. You may fail. But you took your future in your own hands and did what you thought was best.
It’s what we underdogs do. And sometimes, the result can be very surprising. :)