Here's the long awaited "farewell" post. And I'll try to do it with my favorite wall o' text style (jump to the mushy emo stuff if you don't want to hear the full story)...
Starting this week, I've retired from raiding and WoW blogging. The blogging retirement has been informal for a while, so lets make it offical with this post.
And too bad there isn't a 401k or pension to cash in on, but I suppose the payout is with the most valuable of resources: time.
Why the change?
The change stems from three big factors, in no particular order:
1) The Hunter is just no longer fun in raids. None of the raid specs has a rotation that feels natural or intuititive. Ulduar is very pet unfriendly. The end result is a need to continuously stare at cooldowns for whatever priority shot is available next, and continuously micromanage my pet and hope my fellow raiders dont blow up any Mimiron mines and one-shot the little furry guy.
On relatively stationary fights (think Iron Council), my DPS output is excellent, so you know the potential for the class, my gear, and my skill level is there. However, on high mobility fights like Hodir or XT hardmode, its as if I didn't even bring my bow to the raid, autoshots barely ever fire and you can kiss your 4 piece tier 8 bonus goodbye because you're never going to stand still long enough to cast a steady shot. I tell ya, the second you find a cosy fire, the ceiling caves in and you have to cancel your steady shot mid-cast.
And then I wont even get into people who analyze DPS performance on Freya. In your raid, do you ever see DPS nuking her while she's still got massive HoT's rolling because there's still 4 waves of her minions left to go? Yeah, that data goes straight into the damage done reports, but gets instantly healed the moment the spell strikes. And lol at anybody who says "i'm activating my trinket". Sure, I believe you. I do. No really, we all believe you. But I digress, that's not a Hunter thing, but rather relates to #3 below.
Bottom line, none of the Hunters I raid with say they're having very much fun with the class lately.
2) The summer schedule is interfering with family time. Prior to the summer, my daughter would be in bed before raid invites, so I'd be able to properly tuck her in and have quality bedtime rituals that will hopefully give memories that will last her lifetime. With the summer's arrival, her schedule changed and she's awake later now, so I've had to miss some of this.
Prior to this schedule change, the biggest family impact was to my time with the uber gf. Amazingly, she's got the patience and caring to support me through 3 or now 4 nights of raiding per week for the last year and a half, which I'm truly thankful for. Hell, shes so awesome she even helps me farm saronite for the endless supply of arrows 4 raids per week burns through.
But now raiding is taking me away from all the people closest to me, and that is unacceptable.
3) My guild and I have diverged in our views of what makes a high performing team. What kind of communication, what kind of feedback, what kind of leadership, what kind of command presence during combat, what kind of coaching fixes under-performance, what kind of individuals should make up that team.
It'd be fun to write a scathing post chock full of drama. When I go back through my volumes of unpublished material, I find I often went that route, and its likely at the heart of why I stopped posting because I don't want to bad mouth anybody. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant, but how we conduct ourselves is.
I did my best to share my ideas on how a team should work via conversations on vent, text chat, guild forums, even one visit in-person with my guildmaster (Coincidentally had to make a business trip to the city where he lives. We had prime rib and beer and talked about So You Think You Can Dance. It was fun). Not everyone, but enough of the vocal players of the guild have views that are dramatically different from my own, enough so that we are no longer compatible on the same team.
So the best course of action is to remove myself from the situation before things become toxic for all the people involved.
How does it feel?
When you take the three items above, it is a pretty obvious decision to make: stop raiding.
You ever read or see Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring? You remember when Bilbo has to give THE ring over to Gandalf? And he has that moment of hesitation, where he knows what he needs to do, but there's something inside him trying to make him stop? And then he does it and drops the ring on the floor and walks away?
The feeling he expresses at that moment is the only way I can describe the sense of relief at sending the email to the GM saying I'm done raiding.
I'm sorry if it puts the team in a temporary bind as they look for players, since they've actually had to cancel a raid recently, and had to cut one back to just a few easy-mode optional bosses to finish a raid week that should have ended with General V, Yogg, and Hard Mode IC. But again, I digress.
The guild deservedly has a fantastic reputation on our server, and has a strong track record of success. Plus, the GM has a very public spot in the WoW community, so attracting players is not quite the challenge that a run-of-the-mill guild is faced with.
I hope to read at WoM about continuing success through the few remaining Ulduar hardmodes, the new Coliseum (soon), and what ever lies beyond. It remains a great team, so I expect nothing less.
So what now?
Stopping raiding and blogging is in no way a slow-down to my WoW action.
Still love the game, and quite frankly, removing the social constraints of locking in 3-4 nights per week actually makes me want to play the game more.
However, I'll be playing it in 100% casual mode.
EDIT: Funny that Daxenos wrote his Open Letter to me today, because I've actually been holding onto his ideal for enjoying the game at a casual pace and not letting that sense of urgency dominate the play time as it seems to always do. When it feels like I'm in a rush to get something done, I'll put it down and do something else, just on principle. Go go Tango lessons!
Gotta go AFK, no problem.
Want to go see an outdoor play at the little park across the street from my house that only runs on raid nights, no problem.
Uber gf wants a quick piece, no problem.
Want to watch So You Think You Can Dance on the actual night it airs so that you don't need to invoke a cone of silence of all media channels for the day or two following an episode lest some radio DJ spill the beans on who got voted out, no problem.
Uber gf wants a not-so-quick piece, no problem. Well, at least no schedule problem :-)
Here's what I suspect is in my WoW future:
1) Amiva the Insane: I've been working on the rep grinds for Insane in the Membrane achievement for about 6 weeks now. Projecting out the remaining requirements and my own schedule, I'm estimating I'll ding Amiva the Insane during the October Darkmoon Faire.
The real question is am I completely off my rocker and going to follow up with Moodyswinger the Insane? The jury is still out.
2) Alts: As part of The Insane, you need to pickpocket 1405 (yes, you read correctly, fourteen hundred and five) junkboxes. Only a Rogue can do it, so I levelled one up to 68. And wouldn't you know it, I actually had fun.
Why was it fun leveling this alt as opposed to some other toons in the past? Because I have no end-game goals for this girl. If she took a year to get to 68, I wouldn't have cared a whiff.
I'll probably end up with like 10 level 80 toons by the time I'm done with this game. Or maybe just 3.
3) Casual Raids: I might find myself in an off-night naxx raid here or there. Or a VoA or an OS. Who knows, after everybody out-gears Ulduar, maybe I'll go back in there for a night.
But nothing scheduled or repeating.
4) Gold: I'm nearing 50k, earned via a combination of gathering high level herbs and ores, daily questing, selling the looted stuff from close to 300 dire maul runs (part of The Insane), and also buy/craft/sell value-added manufacturing of crafted goods.
I've got a very loose goal of hitting 100k before I quit the game, but that just sort of happens along the way, so no pressure, which is nice.
5) Battlegrounds: I love healing BG's on my druid. She's maxed out on No-Arenas-Required pvp gear right now. When the new arena season starts and the next tier of pvp gear becomes available from BG's, I'll probably hit the queues again like a crazy man.
6) Healing Heroics: I healed a few VoA's. I didn't like it one bit. I healed a few heroics. Its kinda fun. My favorite thing is letting an aggro-hungry Mage die when he refuses to (A) assist the tank and (B) stop with the nukes if he's close to the tanks threat level. I think its up to the healers of the world to teach people proper threat management via stopping fixing stupid mistakes, and I'm doing my part, one Mage at a time.
7) Rep Grinds: I dunno, I just kinda like zoning out and grinding sometimes. Its relaxing. I recently did the Explorer's League one-and-only daily quest for the 137th time, dinging Exalted and putting me at 38 factions.
Next up will be Ravenholdt, but only after roughly 1300 more junkboxes pickpocketed, which will be 39 factions.
40 is the big one, with "the Exalted" title. If I continue down the Insane path, it'll be Shendralar that dings me that. However, I need to loot 40 more librams for that. Took me close to 300 Dire Maul runs to net those first 42 librams, so who knows how long this mutha will take.
I might take a quick diversion to do Cenarion Circle as my 40th, and the Guardian of Cenarius title that comes with it. I like multiple simultaneous achievement dings, so I'm leaning towards this one next.
After that, I'll start jumping into every Black Temple and Mt Hyjal raid I can find to get Asstongue Deathsworn and Sands of Time exalteds.
Then maybe I'll take a look at more old-world raid reps, which I really don't know a whole lot about. As long as I can solo stuff on my druid tank with my Hunter following, I can solo my way to most of these.
8) Fishing for Profit: I fish a lot. I've been providing the fish feasts to my guild since fish feasts were introduced to the game. Some guildies chip in some fish here or there, but most of it comes from my pole (ewww).
Well, its time to fish for me now. Stacks of the ingredients for fish feast go for close to 50g if you time your auction right.
And I kinda want a turtle mount.
I also want that damn sewer rat, but it's not very lucrative to fish in there.
Anything else on the video game front?
If anybody knows a good current Realtime Strategy Game (like Warcraft II, or C&C, or Dune 2 from back in the day), drop me a line. I've got some room in my schedule for another game :-)
Or if any of my readers (you know who you are) wants to play some Rock Band, we can probably make that happen.
That's all, folks!
So this is goodbye. /tear
Last night was my first raid I was sitting out from.
While lazily taking an alt through Blades Edge Mountains, I saw the game generated announcement in my chat window that some guild just dinged the Realm First Algalon kill.
If it happened even one day earlier, I'd have felt jealous or envious or some other less-than-constructive emotion. But last night?
It echoed my relief at being off that treadmill.
Over the past nearly 2 years of blogging and 1.5 years of raiding, I've met some fantastic people and had some outstanding times with TagTeam/Kishi Kaisei during TBC, and in WotLK with Conquest.
Thank you all for reading, commenting, playing, and coming along for the ride. The experience has been memorable.