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Taking a break today from WoW reminiscing to talk rant about Games Workshop and in the larger sense, our right to critique our beloved hobbies. To put things into context, Games Workshop is the company behind Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, two of the most, if not the most, populars wargames out there. Their business revolves mainly around selling us the miniatures needed to play their games.

I know this post will probably ruffle a few feathers and I can already hear the GW fanboys grinding their axes in anticipation. Fear not my friends, I will give you ample reasons to go after me. Not unlike fans of certain MMOs, wargaming fanboys can go nuts if you even suggest that their favorite hobby is not so great after all. And just to be clear, Hobby is a fancy way of saying game to make you feel better about spending hundreds/thousands of dollars on plastic miniatures.

So back to the topic at hand, Games Workshop and Warhammer (both kind) are bad! It wasn’t always like that and they do still make some of the best miniatures but the rules are a mess as a result of GW trying to get you to buy more and the material is way overpriced.  These days, a new player is looking at close to a 1000$ if not more.  By the way, I did the exercise of buying my Salamanders army from scratch including rules and paints and I got to 900$ US. This was just buying exactly what I needed but I know that as a player interest develops in the game he will want to expand his army and buy more paints, terrain and stuff and can easily double and triple that amount.

So why would anyone ever wants to start playing a game with messed up rules that has a near 1000$ buy-in price and is run by a greedy company? Why would anyone defend this? I have a pretty good idea but I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s get to my arguments shall we, how can I justify what I’m saying?

  • 1000$ buy-in. I just went over it earlier by actually going on the GW webstore and adding the stuff to my cart. This was a space marine army that has a low model count and is one the best supported army. I know other armies will run much higher than the 900$ I got.
  • Messed-up rules. This is more open for debate but in the past few years I played other games to give me a point of reference. Namely Warmarchine/Hordes, Flames of War, Rules of engagement, Infinity, Firestorm Armada and a few more on occasion. From my perspective the rules of Warhammer, especially 40k are a mess. But I’m not the only one saying it. Do a round of the competitive Warhammer scene and you’ll see intense debate about how organizers need to curtail the rules in order to have fun tournaments. We could talk for hours about this but for now, let’s keep things simple.
  • Greedy Games-Workshop. This one I can’t really prove can I? It’s not like GW has put “let’s be greedy” in their mission statement. The 1000$ arguments might help this one but it can’t be the only one.  I’ll just go from personal experiences and accounts of ex-employees for this and tell you that GW went from a company that wanted to make a good game first to a company that wanted to sell miniatures first. Sadly, this has not had happy repercussions on the game.

So here’s my soapbox. I posit that given the alternatives systems, given the cost of entry, given GW company policies and based on my 15 years of experience in wargaming, including selling said games, that Warhammer (both kinds) are bad games.

The rebuttal

I could leave things as they are, or go into more details about my arguments but for today purposes it should be enough. If I was to hit Post right now I would be one among many who say that GW is bad and I’d have fanboys come over here with the usual rebuttals to these kinds of posts.

Popular rebuttals include:

  • The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot.
  • Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons.
  • I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!?
  • The rules are great! I’m having fun!
  • How can you tell me what’s fun or not?
  • GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can!
  • What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking.
  • If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it.
  • Talk to me when you have run your own company!
  • Yet another old unhappy gamer.

And so it goes. My MMO readers might recognize a few of those and for good reason.  You’ll also notice that few of these addresses my arguments which by the way are the most common ones levied against the game so it’s not just me saying this. Most rebuttals to topics like these attack the poster by saying he doesn’t have the necessary experience/competence to criticize, they use the fun defense which doesn’t really address anything or they just don’t address the arguments.

  • The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot. Might be true, but still doesn’t change that the buy-in price might be too high.
  • Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons. Same, justifying the price doesn’t make it lower.
  • I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!? Doesn’t address any of the arguments.
  • The rules are great! I’m having fun! Fun does not make rules great or bad in themselves.
  • How can you tell me what’s fun or not? None of my arguments are about fun.
  • GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can! Justifying greed doesn’t make it less greedy.
  • What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking. I am not my arguments, wrong target.
  • If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it. Wrong target again.
  • Talk to me when you have run your own company! Again, not my arguments.
  • Yet another old unhappy gamer. Irrelevant to the discussion.

 

On the real topic!

I admit I had a secret agenda with this post. While I do believe that GW and Warhammer are in a bad place, it was not the only thing I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to talk about how most of this gamer community I’m part of has no idea on how to argue a point. About how most arguments turn into personal attacks and how even when presented with good arguments, people refuses to change their minds about anything.

I do understand that changing your mind about something or admitting you might have been wrong can suck. Especially if you poured hours, days and even years into it. I remember watching a documentary where someone was explaining how he was raised into a white-supremacist family and how hard it was for him at first to get out of the mindset. When he was asked what was the biggest obstacle for him he answered that it was admitting he had wasted years of his life believing in something he knew was wrong.

So going back to Games Workshop I might be dead wrong. There might be tons of valid reasons that will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that in fact GW is not greedy, that the rules are solid and that a 1000$ buy-in price is not hindering the community.

What I’m asking for is that you read my arguments with an open mind and that when you do present your rebuttal you do it by countering my arguments, not by attacking me or whether or not I’m allowed to criticize.

I swear that if you do so, I will do the same in return and will even change my mind if you can prove me wrong.

In my last post I explained how me and a friend went about teaching other friends how to raid and how the guild drifted apart when came the time to decide if we wanted to go further and raid 25 man raids. Following a short stint in a 25 raiding guild I ended up stopping raiding altogether and wandered around WoW for a while without any particular goal.

While the whole period was rather uneventful on the gaming side, it was when I discovered WoW blogging thanks to a blogger named Foton (AFKGamer) who is sadly not blogging anymore.  Foton dark sense of humor and insightful critiques got me interested in the blogging world and I was soon devouring blogs left and right. Back then I had a lot of gripes with the game and it was nice to read others who shared my thoughts and ideas.

To sum up, the main issues back then were the varying raid sizes (10/25), how WoW had too much grinding (dailies) and the casualization of the game. While these problems have been addressed in the sense that Blizzard did make major changes in these areas, the same issues are still discussed years later.  Funny how that is no?

In the land of Hobbits

WoW is shit! At least it was what I was thinking back then and there was no way that I’d be giving money to the Blizzard overlords who were living in their ivory tower, feasting on the souls of us gamers. Raiding was stupid and I was going to play a real MMO damnit! Not this railroaded casual grindfest!

I quickly gravitated toward Lord of the Rings Online who was getting good reviews, its story and immersive world in particular and I wanted to see it for myself. Plus I am a Tolkien nerd so it had that going for it too. I loved Lotro, I still do in fact. It is one of those very rare games that put the lore before anything else (at least it used to).  To this day, I see it as one of the best examples of immersion in MMOs.

My love affair with Lotro lasted until shortly before Wotlk released. By that time, I was getting tired of playing Lotro solo and the old gang from early BC was talking about getting the guild back together for Lich King. Plus, Northrend was looking real awesome so I agreed to leave Lotro and come back to WoW for what I then believed would be nice casual raiding.

From Lotro I did take away a few things. Namely that immersion and setting are two very important elements for me to enjoy an MMO.  If these two are lacking my interest is sure to go away, something a few MMOs managed to prove over the years.

The chill of Northrend

Early Wrath was a series of highs and lows for me.  For a while, everything was awesome and I was having a blast. The scenery of Howling Fjord, the music in Grizzly Hills, the whole questing experience …it was perfect. Wrath still is for me one of the better expansions in terms of storytelling and craftsmanship of the zones. Then, Naxxramas happened and everything went to hell rapidly.

Here I was in a friend and family type guild and we were pretty excited to start raiding Naxx, which in itself is not a bad raid…  it’s just a tiny bit too easy.  Like, cleared it under a month too easy and not that fun to repeat week after week.  Quite suddenly we found ourselves without a clear goal and the guild just fell apart. A lot of people left disappointed by what they felt was subpar endgame content.

I’d follow suit in due time but for a while I drifted around before settling in Blackwing (can’t remember the actual name) and meeting Auraye their guild leader, who would teach me a very valuable lesson in leadership much later.  Blackwing was at the time working on clearing Naxx and for reasons  I don’t remember I ended joining them.  We were a casual raiding guild in the truest sense of the word. Just a bunch of people grouping together once or twice a week to go get our faces bashed in by bosses. Gems, enchants and strategies were often lacking and despite bold claims of being good players, most of the guild wasn’t. Auraye wanted to get this guild in hardcore raiding but we were very very far from making that happen.  Still, it was a fun crew so I didn’t mind the lack of progress or talent that much.

My time with Blackwing ended up being rather short. A lack of interest combined with a lack of content made me look at other games and eventually I left for greener pastures.

And we’re back! Well sorta… I hope so. Sorry for the long delay but truth is that September got real busy all of a sudden and blogging took a backseat to the millions other things I had to do. Hopefully, things will quiet down. Also! I’ve been told that this blog passed the five years mark!! Insanity! A big thank you to everyone for making this worthwhile all this time.

Last time we talked I had left WoW toward the end of Vanilla and for a while, I was happy pretending that WoW was evil. I played some FFXI in the meanwhile but for the most part, everything was quiet on the MMO front. Burning Crusade launched and I was still AFK doing something else.

Friends!!

My return to WoW happened in spring 2007 and just like last time; it was real life friends that pulled me back in. This time around, they had set-up a guild full of people I actually knew and they had started cutting their teeth in Karazhan.  Most of them started playing recently in BC and they felt they needed some experienced raiders to help them along. So me and a friend of a friend, Palfear, were targeted in an elaborate kidnapping recruiting operation.  Over a fancy dinner I was coaxed into giving this group a shot.

Palfear and I became great buddies almost instantly. We had similar raiding experience, both of us were coming back to WoW after a break following hardcore raiding and we wanted to try to have progression without driving ourselves insane. It took us a few weeks to get back into raiding shape and soon enough we were ready to take on Karazhan as raid leaders for a friends and family guild.

Learning pains

Taking new players and teaching them to raid is no easy task and I think everyone can understand that. There are strategies to master and raid awareness to develop but raiding back in BC, even casually, took more than just beating on bosses.  We had to teach about the importance of doing your hardmodes, of optimizing your gear, of learning proper rotations, of getting enchants and having flasks ready. Then we had to teach about attendance and being ready and not getting negatives about wipes. It wasn’t all fun times and cookies but I’m proud to say that for the most part, people did their best and we did clear Karazhan eventually, which honestly, made me more proud than that server fist C’thun kill.

But the real challenge was for two ex-hardcore raiders to learn how to teach more casual players how to raid. A lesson I’d sadly not really learn until late in Lich King’s expansion.  Looking back I can’t say I’m super proud of the way I’ve handled a lot of situations back then. It would be easy to blame my hardcore raider background but truth is that I had little idea of how to do things. I was under the mistaken impression that raiding was an equation (skill + gear = dead boss) which is not false in itself but long term raiding takes more than that. It takes a lot of diplomacy and empathy if you want to keep the guild alive through tough times.

Saved by the bell

After we cleared Kara it became obvious that we were starting to hit a rough spot. On one hand, we had a group who wanted to progress to Gruul, Mag’theridon and beyond while another group were happy to raid Kara until the end of times to gear up their alts.

What could have devolved into a nasty argument got solved by the raiding setup of the time. Kara was a 10 man raid, the rest 25 and we had maybe 12 raiders on the roster.  We tried for a while to raid with an allied guild to get into 25s but it just wasn’t working out.  The problem, as we all saw it was a stupid raiding set-up and that ended up being blamed for all of our guild-issues. After all, if only Blizzard would have done things right we’d all be sailing to the promised land of endless loots and leetness.

Truth is our real issue was we had two groups with distinct aims in the guild. One group was happy just raiding once in a while with friends and didn’t want to trouble themselves with progression. The other loved raiding and was ready to put in the time and effort required to move farther. If we had only progression people, we wouldn’t have had issues with recruiting strangers or raiding with allied guilds. If we had only the friend’s people, we wouldn’t even have bothered with trying to make it into 25s.

So while it’s easy to blame the 10/25 setup (which was still stupid btw), even with 10 man all the way we’d probably hit a roadblock soon enough as the difficulty of the raids increased.

We’re all friends here but…

… it was time to move on. With raids not progression and people starting to get disgruntled, Palfear forced the situation and ended up negotiating a deal with another guild to take in the people who wanted to progress. He simply announced in the guild forums he’d be leaving and that anyone wanting to raid 25s was offered a spot.  This effectively spelled the end of our little guild and probably saved us from a drama fest.

For myself I did end up joining up with Palfear and raiding for a while in the new guild but progress was slow and while those people wanted to raid 25s they weren’t quite there. By the time we started to work on Tempest Keep I was tired of the endless wipes and left raiding for a while.

It’s been a few days since last part and I want to apologize for that. I could say that life busy (which it did) but the real reason is that I had trouble writing this part. After all, how do you write about ennui and lack of interest? How do you go about speaking about events when back then you didn’t care so much about them?

So after my romp as a “super hardcore leet raider” ™, I was feeling pretty dissatisfied with the game. I still had a few RL friends hanging around in WoW and I went back to play with them but I do so more out of boredom than anything else. Objectively, things were going well and we did accomplish a lot together. We made a guild, of which I was leader, we recruited and raided Molten Core and we met quite a few interesting people including a nice lady who owned an online sex-toy shop who sounded exactly like Darth Vader.

However, being objective has nothing to do with how you feel about a game and I had a lot to criticize. For starters, I wanted the game to be less time consuming. My degree was finished and I knew I wouldn’t have the time to raid and work a normal job so time was a big factor and it still is today. I also wanted smaller raids so it would be less of a hassle to get a raid group together. I wanted gearing to be easier and faster so my more casual friends could come. In short, I wanted the game to be made more accessible.

What used to be the best game of all time slowly turned into a horrible mess for me. I wasn’t playing in Azeroth anymore, all I could see were numbers and the gears behind the screen and the magic was gone. Still, I kept on playing because I had friends playing and because there didn’t seem to be an alternative around.

The first goodbye

It was Naxxramas launch that made me realize that maybe it was time for me to hang up my daggers and move on from Azeroth. Here was a brand new raid that looked really awesome but when I considered trying to raid it my stomach turned. I still had the recent memories of hardcore raiding in Anh’Quiraj and I couldn’t picture doing that again.

The first details of Burning Crusade had also started coming around that time and again, I found myself asking why I’d want to go through the motions again. I’ve already done all that, it’s only a few new models and color swaps, why would I want to subject myself to this again?

So I did what most WoW players did back then. I left the game, swore it was a piece of garbage and that I’d never be back. I was dead wrong…

I was pissed, I was hurt and I believed I was the best and wanted to prove it. Thus did my hardcore career truly begin. After having been kicked out of a guild I had poured all my heart into and feeling betrayed by some RL friend I went into hiding and rolled an undead rogue named Draazel after my first serious WoW character. Even if I was lacking any real 40 man raiding experience, I was determined to clear all the raids and prove that I was the best rogue ever.

It also helped that when this all went down I was beginning my last session and that I had next to no classes. I had a total of one class a day for our end project. Since me and my group were making rapid progress, I had no more than a few hours of class in the morning which meant lots of time to play WoW. Without realizing, I started playing between 8 to 11 hours a day… more on the weekends.

Jumping ships

Getting back to 60 when you play upwards of 8 hours a day can be accomplished pretty fast. Within two weeks if I remember correctly I was level 60 again and began the hunt for that perfect hardcore guild which I discovered, wasn’t going to be easy. For starters, rogues were not a prime class for raiding teams at the time so I had that going against me. But the real hurdle was getting geared. Prime raiding guilds back in the day had people line up to join them and the requirements to join were pretty steep. Top gear, top attendance and a willingness to put up with a good amount of abuse were standard requirements. I had no problem with attendance or being yelled at but gear was another matter.

So I did what I had always despised up to that point, join guilds to get geared and then jump ship. The first guild I joined was a new guild that had just started working on Molten Core, they needed bodies and I needed gear so it was a match made in heaven. Between raids, I was putting together daily UBRS runs with anyone I could find so I could get geared faster and also with the intent of meeting players with the hope one could be a door into a future raiding home. I stayed in that first guild for close to a month. By then I had gotten all the gear I could use out of UBRS, had gotten a two epics in MC and I had all the fire resist gear I could get at that point. We were struggling on Baron Geddon and I didn’t want to have to wait so one morning at the gaming witching hour (6AM) I left the guild and went in search of a guild that could actually clear MC.

I didn’t make friends by leaving but luckily for me I did manage to find a second guild rapidly by following another raider who was tired of wiping on Geddon. We joined up with a group working on Ragnaros and while it was not MC clears, it was a step-up. Again, I stayed there for a month or so, got many more drops and even cleared Ragnaros with them. Later we hit a stumbling block with Vael and again, I quit.

That pattern would repeat for a while with me joining a guild, getting some gear and then leaving as soon as I felt we were hitting a wall. By then I was starting to get a reputation as a guild jumper but also as a good rogue, which is what mattered to the high-end guilds I wanted to join.

The anvil and the hammer

Ahn’Quiraj was looming close and by then I was getting pretty geared. I still had no clear of BWL but I had seen all the bosses and had gotten most of the gear so I felt it was time to join up with the top guildson my server, Anvil. However, joining Anvil wasn’t going to be like I was used to. For starters, they had only a single rogue on the raiding roster and the spot was taken. Second, only raiders were invited in the actual guild, prospects had to join a second-hand guild named Hammer. Hammer was made up of Anvil raider’s alts and prospective members and the roster was a fast changing one. If they felt you couldn’t make it in Anvil you were cut from Hammer and most people I saw join were cut. On top of that, you had to be available as replacement for any Anvil raid which meant you had to be available for both guilds raids. And by replacement I mean waiting at the door of the raid so you could be called in at any moment to replace someone. Failure to have perfect attendance in either raid meant a swift kick. Getting into Hammer wasn’t easy either. I was interviewed, quizzed and tested in every raid just to get in the feeder guild.

It sounds insane and it was insane but it was what was required back then to join a server first guild. Hours of waiting outside raids just to get a chance to prove you could do it. I stayed two months in Hammer, a record for a non-raider alt but since there was a single rogue spot, not completely surprising. Then, the week before the AQ patch dropped, I got my chance. The resident rogue had decided to skip a raid for some reason I can’t remember and I was brought in BWL to replace him. It wasn’t the first time I had replaced someone but usually it was some other dps, not the rogue. We cleared place in record time and I thought that it was again a once in a while thing. The following day the raid leader sent me a tell telling me to quit Hammer and that I was moving up to Anvil.

It was one of the greatest feelings I ever had.

As to the other rogue I heard he got the boot simply because I did better than him. I didn’t take as much damage as he did and I did a bit more dps so he was sent to the void of the guildless without so much as a warning.

Insane in the membrane

I’ve struggling to write this part because honestly, life in a server-fist type of guild is both simple and complex at the same time. In many aspects it’s exactly like any other kind of guild with the drama, the nice people, the assholes, the inside jokes and anything else you’ve experienced in any guild you’ve been part of. For the longest time I had all these ideas about what it would be like to be in a guild like that and to find out it was just like any other guild I’ve been part of was both a relief and a letdown.

But you don’t get to do server first without something setting you apart and that something was commitment to the game. The commitment to WoW from every member of the guild was insane, downright unhealthy. Most people were playing anywhere between 8 and 12 hours a day and when not playing, were thinking about WoW or researching the game. We had one member datamining the code to find out boss mechanics or how to edge more dps. We would in turn serve as target dummies so people could practice rotation while others watched the fights so they could gather data. Someone else even claimed he worked at a bar where Blizzard employees would go and he would offer them extra drinks so he could loosen their tongues and get extra info. I still have doubts over that one but who knows.

So I could go over the minutiae of high end raiding and talk about the thrills of each first kill and the hate we had toward our rivals. How we tried to sabotage one another, how a certain someone would hack rival guilds forums to access their strats or subtly change raid times to mess them up. We were insane, simple as that and we did get that AQ40 server first…

And then half the guild left the following morning. Killing C’Thun was the most anticlimactic moment of my entire WoW journey. We had played non-stop since the patch release to open the doors of AQ, kill the bosses and claim that server first that now that it was done… it felt empty. Like we were blinded by the race and suddenly we realized what we had done. Sure there was that short moment of elation, like 15 seconds of woooo!! and then… silence.

I distinctly remember logging off that night, completely bewildered, going to bed and not logging until the weekly raid reset. I didn’t even check the forums to see the obligatory victory picture. Then I logged back in to find a ghost town, half the guild was simply gone. I could have stayed or joined another high end guild but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I couldn’t see myself putting in that much time again just so I could claim to be “the best”.

Last time I was telling you about how I left during a drama blowout between the more experienced EQ raiders and the newer players like myself. A lot of it was due to differing expectations between the two groups and I still believed that the best way to go about things was that guildies should always be helping each other, no matter what.

The road to heaven

I ended up re-rolling on Argent Dawn, with most of my RL friends and made a night elf rogue named Auray. This time around I wanted to try out smaller guilds so I started hunting for that magical guild that would both be helpful and full of good players so we could raid together. Like chasing a unicorn I couldn’t quite find said guild and I ended up switching guilds a lot as I leveled. I thought of myself as an expert player by then and only the best would do! Lord was I deluded…

I was questing in Tanaris when I was approached by a guild called Road to Heaven, ran by a couple who claimed they had raided before (lies but I’d learn that later) and wanted to get away from big impersonal guilds and to build an elite team for Molten Core and beyond. That seemed like my kind of guild and I joined up to give them a try.

At first, everything was wonderful. People were helpful while also being pretty good players. We were tearing through content and we had a great system of crafting so we’d all be ready for endgame. I ended up bringing my RL friends to the guild and finally got my first ever character to 60 after turning in one last quest in Silithus. It’s been years and I still remember that moment… crazy.

Soon enough we were doing UBRS multiple times a week and we were working on that fire resist gear so we’d be ready for the big times. All seemed perfect but WoW was about to teach me my first life lesson.

Time was passing and raiding was not happening. We were hovering around 30 members but recruitment was going at a snail pace and we were starting to lose our geared members to other guilds. I approached one of our co-leaders, Sicke, also a rogue about what was being done and he told me he wasn’t interested in discussing it with me.

That right there should have lighted a few alarms bells. There were other signs too that something was amiss like people being cut from runs so Sicke and his wife could get gear or bank access being suddenly restricted. As time passed though, I was starting to get anxious and I started more frequently questioning the leaders as to what was happening and why.

Then I made my biggest mistake, I began openly challenging Sicke and his wife. Something was obviously wrong by now but I still believed it was due to Sicke being lazy or just not being good enough and I took it upon myself to fix things.

The betrayal

Of course things went to hell fast enough. This is when the life lesson happened. Not only was I kicked out of the guild but I was made the scapegoat, big time. Sicke worked hard at making sure everyone thought it was me behind all the guild issues and he had been going at it for a while behind my back before kicking me. When it happened, I was already a pariah but I was too blind to realize. On top of that, he had worked two of my friends, a healer and a tank, extra hard because he needed them. When the blowout happened, one of them actually sided with Sicke.

So here’s how I saw things from my end. Here was this guild, for which I had spent countless hours farming, for which I had recruited my friend and other members, for which I was running countless runs with the lower levels to get them caught up and for which I just poured all my time into. This guild was now booting me. Not only that but they made me responsible for all the issues we had and to top it off they turned my friends against me.

I felt betrayed and I was furious. I remember picking up the phone that night and calling each of my supposed friends in turn and asking them point blank to take a side. Either they were with me or they were not and getting on my shit list that very instant. Now looking back I’m not proud of how I acted that day and what I said but it happened. My argument back then is that I had been screwed over by Sicke and co and that I expected friends to believe me over strangers.

I lost friends that day, people that even today I still don’t want to be associated with. Other supported me and a few made me understand later that they did not see the whole thing happen and that while they wanted to be supportive it was hard to do when you have a raging me swearing at the end of a phone.

I learned a life lesson thanks to these events about fair-weather friends and friends who won’t help you out if it inconveniences them. Those are not my friends anymore. I also learned a few important games lessons, namely about why the old raiders in Annarchy acted the way they did.

Helping out others in MMOs is fine to a point but in the end, you don’t know these people and you can get the shaft at any moment. That armor you spent 10 hours farming and gave away to Bob the warrior is great but Bob might be gone tomorrow. That guild you love can just die any moment. So spend your time in game wisely and don’t expect others to treat you the way you’d want them to.

The aftermath

Back when all of this happened I went into hiding by rolling a new undead rogue on a new server that I told no one about, not even my remaining friends but that will be for the next post. Someone who was in the guild at the time that I came across a few years later told me what followed.

Road to Heaven imploded soon after I left. The little game that Sicke had played with my friends only worked for a small part of the guild that had been there for a while. Most of my friends ended up leaving the guild to avoid drama as did most of the newer members coming up. Since I was one of the few helping them out daily, when I left they wondered what had happened and since the story of evil me didn’t fit with what they had seen, they suspected the bullshit and left. It then snowballed and geared veterans left for raiding guilds, recognizing a dead guild when they see one. With over half the guild gone Sicke left and the guild died.

To this day, I still wonder what exactly Sicke and wife were up to. The way they acted I suspect they might have been trying to gear themselves up, steal the bank and apply to a more advanced guild but I have no proof of this so I’ll never really know.

About being helpful

This post is running long but as I was writing this it struck me how much I changed my attitude when it comes to helping others in game. Experience has taught me multiples times that helping out in game is in no way a guaranteed two way street. Many will take advantage of you and your generosity. These days I’ll help out people I consider friends and guildies if time allows but I won’t go out of my way like I used to.

But in a way it’s sad that I became this jaded. That attitude back then of helping each other out with crafting and runs and god knows what did do a lot to move the guild forward, both in Road to Heaven and Annarchy. People would gear up at the speed of light, we’d be training the new members to be good players and everyone benifited. More than that, it created that senses of community like nothing else.

I miss that… with WoD looming over us, I wonder about trying to get some of that old attitude back. I might get burned but who knows, maybe it could be awesome too.

Yesterday I was talking about how I had been pressured by friends into trying World of Warcraft and how long it took me to get started because of hardcore classes and me being broke. But in spring 2005 I had caved in and my WoW career was starting.

My first character I really played was a Troll warrior named Draazel on the Thorium brotherhood server. My RL friends were already on the server and I figured that an RP server would have less annoying kids. Back then, I was exploring the game on my own terms and I went about things however I felt like. Draazel was equipped with a sword and shield despite picking dps talents, I had leatherworking because my friends covered the other professions and I didn’t really see the points in guilds. I was in a guild with my RL friends and a random guy one of us had picked up in SFK and that was it.

What strikes me from those early days was how much I believed that everyone should do their utmost to help one another. Me and my friends would drop whatever we were doing to help one another through quests, we would farm and craft for the others all the time. My friend would craft me armor anytime I leveled and I was crafting leather for our rogue and hunter like it was expected of us. Bags were provided free of charge and in short, it was one for all and all for one. Back then, I wasn’t really considering that other players might want to play a different way and that beating all the content might not be the goal everyone aspired to. For me it wasn’t even about being kind, it was about being efficient. If we help one another we’re all getting stronger and we’ll be able to progress.

That attitude would later be responsible for a lot of drama but for now, I was happy derping with my warrior and conquering Azeroth. But by level 30, I was starting to suspect that sword and board might not best for questing and that maybe leatherworking wasn’t serving me so well.

The webcomic wars

While I was starting to doubt my warrior a new pvp server, Dark Iron, opened up and the famous Penny-Arcade decided to invite their readers to fight another webcomic PvP-online over on that server. I was hesitant at first but when my RL friends told me they wanted to try a PvP server I abandoned Draazel in the Hammerfall inn and rolled up a human mage named Myrena (which turned out to be an exact copy of Jaina Proudmore) over on Dark Iron. I ended up in the guild Annarchy named after a character of Penny-Arcade and I was having a blast rocking the pink with my 500 new friends.

To say Dark Iron filled up fast because of Penny-Arcade and PvP-online would be an understatement. Just under a week, it went from new to full and hordes of leveling characters were fighting all over the place. Stranglethorn became a no man’s land and I was avoiding roads like the plague so I wouldn’t get ganked. I even learned to quest hidden behind trees so I wouldn’t be spotted. Towns were raided daily and we brought the server down multiples times fighting all over the place. For fans of open world pvp it must have been heaven. For me not so much since I wanted to quest but even I enjoyed the occasional town raid.

This was also the first time I became exposed to MMO nomenclature and to some serious theorycrafting about how to spec and what were the best builds. I learned about the holy trinity, I learned about dps and about how to properly spec. I learned about how a group should behave in a dungeon and about CC. I was still a bit oblivious to endgame but so far that hadn’t been a problem. It was about to change though.

The first time I became aware of endgame was during my first raid of Scholomance (yeah back then Scholo was 10 man) at level 52 I think. While most of us in Annarchy were newish players, we had a pool of EQ/early WoW raiders that wanted to raid and were intent on showing us how it was done. The shock between the old raiders and the new ones like me was brutal to the say the least. Here we were in Scholomance these guys were barking orders and telling us we needed to be better geared, that we needed to do better dps, better rotations and all sort of stuff I wasn’t used to. I wasn’t the only one either. Lots of people in the guild were starting to wake up to that these weird raider people were about and we weren’t sure if we liked it.

The endgame blowout

So drama started brewing… big time. Looking back on it I now know that we had a ticking time bomb in the guild by mixing experienced raiders with new players and that the wake-up would be brutal. So when we were told to gear up, finish leveling and be better I answered that I’d do it but I expected help. I wanted the high levels to help me finish leveling, to run instances with me and craft me gear. For me it was the logical thing to do, if they wanted more raiders, it was their job to help gear them up. And I wasn’t the only one thinking that. A lot of people in the guild thought exactly like me, that since raiding was a tough task, the levels 60s had to help us out.

Pressure kept building and soon we had two camps. On one side you had the veterans who had raided in EQ and in WoW and wanted us to shape up. They didn’t want to hold our hands and spoon feed us though, it was our responsibility to get ready and they felt they were under no obligation to spend their playing time running content or farming for us. On the other side you had the people who had never raided before and thought that it was the sacred task of the raiders to help us transition as fast as possible by crafting stuff and helping us level.

And then shit hit the fan… I don’t remember how it happened but overnight over half the guild quit. I wasn’t around for the exact event but from what I gathered a raider and a member got in a heated argument over gear and performance in an instance it generated a storm of drama in the guild which had a domino effect. Ultimately the guild survived and even raided up to Wotlk I think but myself I quit during the drama storm. I was tired of a getting ganked for hours in plaguelands, I was tired of what I figured were elitists assholes and I wanted to find a guild where people helped each other. Back then I was under the impression that the problems were caused because Annarchy was a huge guild, so I set out in search of that wonderful new guild…

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