For Alas: Why, how and who

It was Alastriona’s birthday blogaversary the other week and in celebration she offered post topics to any who wanted one. As one of her dedicated internet stalkers sidlers, I gleefully requested and received one. Here’s what she said:

Alrighty then. Hearkening back to when I first introduced myself, you hadn’t really raided anything at all. Now you’re a Kingslayer. (And I am jealous, yo) You’ve shared a bit here and there about what the experience of raiding was like, but if you look back over the past several months and really take in the scope of how far you’ve come, how does that make you feel? What were the best parts along the way and which people were the most instrumental in your journey?

“Ohshit.” I thought. “This could be tricky.” Then I had three concurrent project deadlines. *Then* I went for a quick holiday to Venice (because if you’re going to procrastinate, you might as well do it surrounded by art, history and dirt-cheap prosecco). Now it’s time.

Alas first introduced herself here in a comment on a whinging post about my failure to organise any kind of raid with my then-guild. At the time, the closest I’d come to raiding was clearing pre-Marrowgar trash for rep in ICC and being told to “l2p” in a visit to see Sarth for the weekly. I ended the post with the sad realisation that, if I *did* want to raid current content, I’d need to find a new guild.

Amazingly, I received a couple of responses from people in raiding guilds inviting me to come and introduce myself. A message via email was hugely exciting, and described a guild which seemed barely plausible — raiding everything from Naxx to ICC with occasional visits to older content, “no QQ, no loot drama, and lots of joking around”, and a willingness to do a bit of extra explaining to the raid-clueless. And when I looked at the forums … they could write. Beautifully. Sealed the deal, naturally. Of course, these events neatly coincided with a conference I was about to go to, leaving me with pretty much no free time for the next few weeks. I wrote a “OMG this sounds amazing but I can’t do anything for three weeks, please can I come back then?” reply, was reassured, and buggered off to Lisbon for the conference.

On my return, Tremble was born and I had a fun, if rather nerve wracking1 conversation with the GM, the RL and the officer who’d contacted me by email. They seemed to think I would fit… *woohoo* so I said my goodbyes to my old guild and server-transferred my two level 80s to Darkmoon Faire. Four days later on 24 May, I was in the raid team for Ulduar 10. *eek*

Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to make two of our three raid nights pretty much every week (being the *only* mainspec source of replenishment can be handy).

I’ve been designated the sacrificial paladin and sent to facepull angry kitties and creepy spider robots. I’ve been designated the idiot paladin after getting my buttons mixed up and accidentally DIing the tank mid-raid (I was looking for Divine Protection). I’ve had my user interface critiqued based on the SWAAAAD-style whispers I accidentally sent to the GL during a Mimiron encounter (my first appearance in our guild quotes thread *sigh*). I’ve been the guy who somehow manages to unequip his jetpack just before the Gunship encounter starts2. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as a tank charged straight off the edge of Kologarn’s platform on the pull. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as our curious gnome mage discovered that around the corner there is often an angry mob. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as a guildie got his Willy out in the middle of the raid.

When we first killed Putricide it was my first full night of attempts on him. It felt great, but from the screams of joy and relief on vent, it was better for the people who’d spent more than just one night being slimed, oozed and killed. When we first killed Sindy, I’d been there for all of our nights of wiping and frustration. Now I knew, really knew why those screams sounded the way they did. This time I too was making the noises.

Of course it’s not all sunshine and free epics. The availability boss has kicked our collective arses far harder than any dungeon denizen. Lady RNG has withheld her favours from time to time, be they in game (I *still* don’t have the damnable Whispering Fanged Skull) or distressingly and more seriously, out there in the real world3. We’ve had drama, some of it near guildbreaking. Tears have been shed, whisky bottles emptied. Sad goodbyes said. Angry goodbyes said.

Overwhelmingly, though, the experience has been positive. I’ve met, played with and learned from an amazing bunch of people. Hung out in guild chat or voice chat for hours. Gone rafting. Killed internet dragons just for the fun of killing internet dragons with friends (there’s a reason this post is in the “Raiding for fun (profit be damned)” category). Hell, this expansion was called “Wrath of the Lich King” and you see that Lich King? We killed him. Us. We ‘won’ the expansion4.

And I’ve learned, from guildies, from experience, from the fantastic resources written by the WoW-playing community. Improved my play enough to have a raid slot based on more than just replenishment. Learned to heal better than bandage-spec rogues5. Built up enough confidence to take part in pug raids. Figured out how and when to use (some of) those utility abilities that had me so confused — some of those mysterious buttons aren’t so mysterious any more. Ultimately I’ve learned that there’s a million amazing things still to learn and a goodly supply of wonderful people to share them with.

To share, there’s got to be some people around. I’ve been pretty lucky with the people around me, and it feels almost … unfair, or disloyal, to single out individuals and say “these are the most important people”. Do I talk about my cake-obsessed GL and the lengthy conversations we’ve had about music (dark), clothes (black) and 1001 other subjects, 997 of which degenerated into smut-filled guttertalk6? Our expert Prot/Arms warrior, who can switch between indestructible tank and #1 dps7 on a fight-to-fight basis? Our drunken rogue, whose progress from wide-eyed fresh 80 to meter-topping DPS machine was accompanied by constant fun and silliness? Should I pay tribute to our vent-singing, draenei-impersonating, warrior-tanking RL with his incredible knowledge, distinctive catchphrases8 and endless optimism that *this time* we won’t pull all of the trash by Precious and Stinky, despite all evidence to the contrary? To the irrepressible altoholic with an 80 of every class and every profession and a *bouncehug* always ready?

I could go on and on. I could give you anecdotes for every active member of the guild, happy memories, silly stories. I could do the same for the people who have left the guild since I joined — no matter the circumstances of their leaving, every one features in formative events and learning experiences. Above all, I’ve learned that it’s the sharing that makes the game. Pretty obvious I suppose, but it’s taken me an amazingly long time to truly realise it.

So, Cataclysm. It’s the end of the world as we know it. I’m looking forward to sharing what comes next.

  1. I was really keen by this point []
  2. stupid equipment manager: why would I bother excluding the shirt slot?? []
  3. where some bosses are distinctly overtuned and all healing classes have been nerfed []
  4. Yes I know there are hard modes and we ain’t done ‘em. Don’t mess with my flow, yo. []
  5. probably []
  6. the other ones were probably cut off by DCs but almost certainly would have gone the same way []
  7. And they say Arms was the weak spec in Wrath. Pfft. Not from what I’ve seen from a strict-10 perspective. And if he *could* have done better as fury, I’m bloody glad he prefers arms. It would have been dispiriting, I think []
  8. “Let’s have fun and poke stuff”, or variations thereupon which have become our lucky charm, and the oft-repeated “Gormok the Impaler … impales” []

19 thoughts on “For Alas: Why, how and who”

  1. I really like this post, it’s a great description of how we interact with our guilds, and serves as a reminder that despite everything “bad” that happens throughout an expansion (guild problems etc.) in the end, it’s mainly positive things and those are what we should remember :)

    1. Thank you.

      I think looking back like this is probably a useful exercise (thanks Alas!). If you don’t come to a happy conclusion, then perhaps it’s time to change something.

  2. Thank you, Ano. This might not come across the way I mean it (as I don’t specifically mean the part where you mention me personally), but it felt incredibly good to read this. And I think I needed it. Thank you :)

  3. On a more serious note than my previous flippant comment, this is a beautiful post. It made me almost cry reading it. Yes, you’re right – it is about sharing the experiences – and I’d like to take time to say thank you for being a part of this wonderful crazy ride through Azeroth with us – we’ve grown with you, just as much as you’ve grown with us.

    *hugs – and seeing as I’m obsessed! – and cake!*

        1. Err… *cough*

          Look out for Light Beneath the Plate, available from selected specialist resellers. Also available: the Tiny Hands Flatter The Ego edition, which comes with a stand to assist those of shorter stature who might struggle to hold the book one-handed. Please note that LBtP: Small But Perfectly Formed (the long-awaited gnome supplement) has once again been placed on backorder and orders suspended. Apologies to our lovers of the lower lothario!

  4. This is a really great post and I got all mushy reading it. Even though you and I will never get to raid together, I do so appreciate knowing you through blogging and twitter. The community really is what makes this game wonderful, no matter where you find it.

    /sidle back at ya

  5. he goes on holiday to venice and comes back thinking theres a better healing spec than bandage weilding rogue….

    well constructed post mr mr… i must remind myself not to have a beverage in hand when i read ya posts… all my poor keyboards i’ve had to replace….

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