Something A Little Different

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.

It was a huge deal to her.

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. :)

14 Replies to “Something A Little Different”

  1. Reading this reminded me of how intimidated I felt when I left my casual friendly guild to join Conquest. And how amused I was when one of my new (at the time) guildies told me that Conquest *was* a casual guild. Nuh-uh, I told him, you don’t know what casual is!

    But after a few weeks, I realized that it wasn’t a big deal. Most of the guilds who performed better than we did just raided for more hours or didn’t have attendance issues at the same times we did.

    There is a current top world guild on our server and they behave like idiots (and they actually perform terribly in pugs, I refuse to run with them). But I really don’t think it’s true for the majority of high end raiders. I think of Wrathy (of Avenging Wrathy) who’s always ready to take a few minutes or a few hours to help out a new tank or Joanadark from Maintankadin.

  2. Thanks for the linklove. :)

    And it’s true, I am a little intimidated by raiders, but I think mostly it’s that I’m always afraid that I don’t know enough, that I won’t be able to hold my own. The guild Lis was in (that I’m still in, on some alts) on Ysera was, for a time, at least, in the top three 10man progression on my server, and they intimidated the hell out of me at the time. But then I started talking with them, and joking with them, and making friends with them. And I started reading blogs like yours being intimidated by you and bloggers like you, but I’ve commented and twittered with a lot of you and now… well, yes, I do respect you all because you know more than me about what I want to do, but I’m not scared of you anymore.

    So now I just want to prove that I can hold my own, and learn what I don’t know and take direction from people who do know. If I can raid with you guys, I’ll be happy as a clam. Oh, I still want that progression, I want it like burning, but I’d rather do it with people I like (maybe even love), people like you guys, than the best-strategized, best-geared, best-progressed guild on the planet.

    I’ll still be intimidated by those raiders who are so far ahead of us, but that’s okay. I still want to fight to catch up, in true Apotheosis style. :)

  3. I can totally relate to this post, Kurn. I have always been playing catchup since I started playing WOW quite late (just before WOLK hit, actually). When the top guilds on my server were clearing Sunwell, I was just clearing Dun Morogh and Hogger. When I got my first level 80 around the time that TOC was endgame content I felt that I was so far behind that I would never catch up. It was a very intimidating feeling, to say the least.

    Now, at the end of WOLK I’ve done a lot of the raid content in the game and am 11/12 in ICC, so I should feel like I’m an accomplished raider. That whole “behind-the-game” underdog feeling is hard to shake though.

    When I applied to my first Raiding guild, I only had some LFG Heroics and two weekly raid bosses under my belt. The key was finding a good group of people who were willing to show me the ropes and patient enough to endure the inevitable mistakes. It sounds like Apotheosis is one of those groups. Good luck in reforming, Kurn… I look forward to reading more positive posts. :)

  4. First, you whore, you made me get all teary-eyed at work. Dammit!

    But seriously, there are so many things between what you’ve written and what Apple has written that touch close to home with me. I started playing Wow for real because of you. I had had the account for over a year but never played more than through the first 11 levels on some night elf priest (which I hated, btw). My account stayed dormant until it became such a talked about thing in chat (really long story).

    And you had your character that you raided on, but had a lower level one that you played to help me level. Then you dragged Daey along and he was a fun one to chat with and helped with those days when omgKurnIsn’tOnlineWTFamIGonnaDo. You dragged folks along to help me get my stupid Warlock mount (before it could be trained). You invited me along on some raids when I was ill-prepared and had not a single clue wtf was going on. Suddenly the game was different. I wasn’t as close to everyone as you were, and I hated that you were my only friend. This time around, it seems as though I’ll have my own share of people whom I’m closer to, and that makes the transition so much easier this time. So much.

    I can’t tell you how excited I am for this opportunity. For the chance to play with Apple and her friend(s). To play with Daey again. To (possibly) raid along side you. To try to heal the ever-living crap out of people (dear lord please let them fix raid healing for druids before Cataclysm comes out… PLEASE!).

    Most of all, despite that little squitch in me that wants a server first, I just want to see stuff with people who are fun, make jokes, and play the game.

    I’m here to kill innernet dragons, yo! Let’s do this!

    Also, *big hugs*

  5. Kurn, your posts are at the level of public service, you share so many good ideas and insights with the rest of us. Please keep it up. I routinely send people your way to help them out.

  6. This is the kind of post that makes me wish I had the time to put into being a hardcore raider. If I did, I’d app my rogue to Apotheosis right now.


  7. Thanks (I think) for singling me out as someone with whom you’ve discussed this. I suppose that I should be proud that I made enough of an impact to be worth mentioning by name.

    I don’t know if “intimidated” would be the right word to describe the way that I felt regarding the more progressed raiders. It’s simply that my experiences with the higher-end raiders on my realm have led me to have certain preconceived notions about those kinds of players.

    As time has gone on, I’ve come to believe that it’s more likely my own bad luck than any traits that are consistent among all progressed raiders. Those that I’ve encountered ingame have been the kind that are dismissive or cocky, unwilling to deign to talk with someone like I. And when the progressed raiders in question are occasionally people with whom you used to be a Guildie, who now refuse to give you the time of day, I hope that you can understand how a certain mindset can be developed.

    But my experiences with progressed raiders out of game; comments sections, Twitter, etc., have been almost universally positive. You, for example, have been willing to answer my questions about my baby Paladin, as well as give specific advice to my friend about hers. You’ve pointed me to various resources, and have been basically a joy to be around.

    So I think that it’s probably just been my bad luck. Perhaps it’s my realm; I know it’s all anecdotal hearsay, but from what I’ve gathered, the higher-ups on my realm aren’t known for being particularly kind to outsiders. But I certainly don’t view all high-end players in the same light that I did just a few months ago.

  8. Very awesome and inspirational post. It made me want to stand up and raise my fist in the air and shout a battle cry, filled with encouragement for you and agreement with you.


  9. xmolder – Just don’t stand in fire. ;)

    Ophelie – That’s pretty neat that you saw that Conquest wasn’t so different from your previous guild. Going from Fated Heroes/Apotheosis to my Bronzebeard guild was a wake-up call. From Bronzebeard to my RL friend’s guild and even bigger one. The differences I saw weren’t just attendence or time-related, they were related to knowledge and understanding of game mechanics and, possibly more importantly, the knowledge of how to herd humans. ;)

    I would hope that most raiders who are progressed would take a few minutes (or even hours) to point people in the “right” direction if asked. I’m glad there are at least some who do. :)

    Matticus – My blog has many skills, clearly. ;)

    Apple – Yay for not being scary anymore! :D

    Having experienced progression with and without those I care about, I’ll take three steps back in progression to ensure it’s with those I like. It’s what I did for my current guild — I really do like them! — and I hope with Cataclysm, we’ll be able to be progressed and friendly as well.

    The awesome thing here, though, is that no one is going to know how to play their classes. The learning curve is going to be steep, it’s going to suck. But we’ll all be learning together. I’ve been in guilds where people ask others of their class for advice and it falls on deaf ears because people are selfish meter whores. There’s a lot of good-natured ribbing and joking about meters in Apotheosis, but ultimately, the officers know what numbers matter and what don’t, so we DO share information with others in our classes. Often without them needing to ask.

    Fannon – I think it’s a very hard feeling to shake, absolutely. I’ve been playing catch up for four years. ;) I think I MIGHT be cresting that ridge, finally. :)

    Apotheosis was a guild that understood that we’re all human. We understand that people make mistakes and many of us do make them. But as long as people are willing to put the group first and trust in the officers’ advice, it’s all good. If you’re unwilling to learn and unwilling to put in the effort, well, Apotheosis isn’t the place for those kinds of people. Ignorance isn’t an excuse, but if you’re willing to learn in order to be less ignorant, we’ll do everything we can to help.

    Thank you for the well-wishes and your comment. :)

    Hestiah – Listen, woman, you keep switching effing names. PICK ONE. ;D

    Having you along for that Magtheridon run was AWESOME, ahahaha. Did we drag you into SSC at one point?

    The problem with being a guild master is that there’s just too much crap going on to be able to pay 100% attention to everyone around you. I’m glad you’re in-guild already and bonding and there’s X and Apple and your BF and even Daey. :) It makes me happy to know you have other friends in the guild, too.

    Shit, I want a server first, too. ;D

    Hugs back, lady.

    ithilyn – Wow, thank you so much for this comment. This is obviously something that I feel strongly about and if it helps others gain any kind of other perspective, even just for a bit, I feel like my words have done something. Your comment alone would justify the time I spent writing this if my primary goal wasn’t just to write down some of my history to help me get some perspective, myself. :)

    Thank you again.

    Will – I absolutely understand the bad blood between a guildie who has moved on and one who, well, hasn’t. I’ve been the one who’s been left behind more often than not. My own brother left Fated Heroes to go raid. But he did come back, so I don’t TOTALLY hate him. ;)

    I don’t think it’s just your bad luck, though. I think a lot of people in this game treat others as disposable, as objects, as temporary, transient people. Let me tell you something — I might not remember EVERY single guild member I’ve ever been guilded with or even raided with. But I remember a LOT of them. I look over screenshots and remember the crazy paladin girl who faked her death. I remember the warlock who kept falling into the water in ZG. I remember the hunter who unceremoniously gquit because no one wanted to run 5-mans with him when “the almighty Kurn” was available. (I wish I were kidding.) Every time I’ve moved on, I try to keep in touch with people. It’s the people who leave me behind who are dead to me. ;D

    I’m glad if I’ve had any effect whatsoever on how you see some high-end players these days. :)

    Oestrus – Aw, your comment kind of made me want to yell “TO BATTLE!” and stuff. :D Thank you. :)

    slice – You’re not quite rid of me yet, buddy. ;) Thanks for the comment. :)

  10. @ Kurn – Oops, I didn’t word my comment very well. Conquest was a world away from my old guild! Things like attendance, control over loot, expectations that everyone show up to raids prepared…unheard of until I made the jump! (My old guild did have a few excellent players and a fantastic raid leader who really understood the game though. It’s just that they didn’t enforce a disciplined playstyle.)

    By not a big deal, I just meant there was nothing scary about it. As terrified and desperate to make a good impression as I was at first, I quickly realized that there was nothing to be intimidated about. My teammates weren’t crazy, obsessive, genius players, they were just players who played the same way I did.

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