The spring of our discontent?
Well, things in the WoWosphere certainly look like they’re entering coasting mode, don’t they? I mean, they are for me. Of course, my two-week absence from this here blog thang is largely due to finally getting a true non-working vacation for the first time since, uh, I got married almost nine years ago. The wife grabbed her jewelry and Nublet, and headed off to her usual spring craft show in Georgia with a friend to help out instead of me. Meanwhile, I stayed here in the Bunker, put a sign up on the door that said “FUCK OFF UNLESS YOU’RE DELIVERING THE PIZZA I JUST ORDERED,” and engaged in five and a half days of hardcore wholesale nothing. And that “nothing” included a sabbatical from WoW. I even took a voluntary night off from raiding for the first time in, well, a damn long time. After my ICC 10-man finished on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t re-enter Azeroth until this morning, to start getting ready for ICC 25 tonight. I spent the time reveling in the silence of a house without a four-year-old in it, sleeping, getting back into EVE Online, sleeping, doing some virtual flying on Microsoft Flight Simulator, sleeping, watching way too many video clips on Youtube, pigging out, and sleeping. And occasionally taking a nap.
Isn’t that the way things kind of feel right now in and around Azeroth? We’re starting to hit the convergence of two things–the normal burnout-slash-holding-pattern that people seem to hit a few months before an expansion comes out…and that bane of raid leaders everywhere, summer. Blog posts are slowing down, mine included. More and more raids (including ours) are out there beating the bushes for people, whether for regular or sub spots, and the people just don’t seem to be as easy to find as they used to be.
The Anvil has, by my count, cancelled four out of our past seven Friday night ICC-25 runs due to lack of bodies. A combination of these Friday problems–which will probably only get worse with summer coming on–and the time it took us to finally clear the cockblock that was Professor Putricide have greatly slowed our progress through ICC. Right now, we’ve cleared Lower Spire and the Plagueworks, and easily one-shotted Team Edward. Blood Queen Bella is our new challenge, one we have not yet conquered…largely because by the time we get to her on Thursday, we’re close to our hard stop time of midnight EDT, and we’re not getting regular cracks at her on Friday. One of our component 10-mans has killed Arthas; the other, the one I tank, has cleared through Putricide and is working on the Sparkle Boys (which I don’t think is bad at all, considering that the other 10-man runs seven hours over two nights and the 10-man I tank only runs three hours on Saturdays with time carved out for the weekly).
This puts our officers into an impossible situation–do we start extending raid lockouts? Extending the lockout would give us the time to use a Thursday night to progress through Lana’thel and Valithria, but at the same time, a lot of us still need to nom as many Emblems of Frost as we can. In my case, it’s not so much more pieces of tank T10–I have better ilevel 264 pieces in both my remaining non-T10 slots, so I’d need a token to make getting the T10 worth it anyway. It’s more about getting the Primordial Saronite for Pillars of Might and then possibly looking at starting to get T10 for my DPS set…or the Primordials for my Shadow’s Edge. Our officers are going to have tough call over the next few weeks in terms of extending lockouts versus collecting badgers. We’re trying to recruit, and having some success, but our bench is still thin, and there are so many raids now, the pool of available raiders with the proper attitude, maturity, gear, and skill is small.
What I’ve been seeing around the wider WoW blogosphere is…well, fatigue is a good way to put it. People seem a bit bored, a bit tired, a bit snappish. Now that we’ve seen the shiny new class previews for Cataclysm, and we’re seeing beautiful new zones pop up on Blizzard’s site every week or two, going back into Icecrown yet again to work on the same content yet again may not hold the same appeal, nor may writing about it. There’s been blog drama popping up in places I never expected to see it. Old standbys are closing their doors. There’s this haze of ennui drifting around like funny smoke at a Grateful Dead show…OK, maybe nowhere near that thick, but you get the idea.
So you can say I’m a little bit concerned. I remember how things got leading up to the release of Wrath of the Lich King. The Anvil eventually suspended our raiding without ever killing Kael’thas, Archimonde, Illidan, or Kil’jaeden before 3.0 came out. (Our final tally pre-3.0 was, IIRC, full clear SSC, all but Kael in TK, 3/5 Hyjal, 0/9 BT, 0/whatever Sunwell. Post-3.0, we killed Kael easily and then went 7/9 BT in our one visit.) That felt like a long time to be coasting, and I remember hardly logging in for good chunks of it.
I have no fear for the long-term health of the game, or the WoW blogging community, or The Anvil. Cataclysm will bring everybody back and things will ignite to a fever pitch once again. I know we’ll kill Arthas in 25-man someday, whether it’s before Cataclysm or after–although everybody is still dedicated to doing it beforehand, that much I know. I just can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be a very long spring and summer in Azeroth.