I did not expect much from the third expansion and I was not really looking forward to it all. Nonetheless, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the initial content. Normal dungeons were still easy as pie, but at least the heroic versions did require some degree of strategy, e.g. crowd control and interrupts. The Grumpy Elf has a series of “Cataclysm miscues” in which he addresses several problems such as the fast leveling speed or the state of professions. I highly recommend reading this insightful nine-part series.
My very busy raiding schedule from The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King had taken its toll and I wanted to slow things down a bit. Therefore, I decided to leave the hardcore raiding scene and move on to pastures new. My brother-in-law asked me to join him on the Horde side (on a different server) and we founded a casual raiding guild together. The aim was clear: we wanted to raid about two to three nights a week with a fixed roster and flexible hours in a casual and friendly atmosphere. This worked for the first three months. After that it became apparent that the casual approach in Cataclysm was just that – very casual. People rightfully prioritised other things over gaming and we had difficulties getting regular groups together. Our server was very active, so we were able to pug the occasional raid member. However, the guild perks system required us to have at least eight members from our guild as raid participants in order to receive the guild bonus. This was very problematic at times and let to the fateful decision to merge our guild with a group of friends who were looking for a new guild to call home.
Even though this was technically not a real guild merger because the other group was not a real guild, it certainly felt that way. They were a group of four real life friends and they had heard of our approach and contacted me to talk about details. We had a pleasant chat and seemed to share similar views on the game. So it came that all of them joined our guild which now had nine (allegedly) reliable players (our previous five and their four). That meant that the guild bonus was secured. We established a solid 10-player (casual) raiding guild and for a time it was good. However, the devil is, as they say, in the details. I was basically managing the entire guild myself – the guild bank and guild website, recruitment and raid leading. I must admit that I am somewhat of a control freak and I really enjoyed being in charge of everything. This led to some problems with the “leader” of the four new members who wanted more competence. I had told this “other alpha” right from the start – even before they all joined – that I would be in charge as guild and raid leader and that my brother-in-law was second in command. Other than that we had a flat hierarchy with everybody else being on equal ground. At first he and the others seemed fine with that but somewhere along the road this was no longer the case. I honestly do not know what their specific problems were as none of them wanted to directly and openly discuss it when asked. I had the impression that the main issues were the lack of certain bank and website privileges, but I do not know for sure.
We had no loot drama since a 10-player raid only offered two items per boss and we also created a “class raid” meaning that we had one of each class in the raid. Warrior and Death Knight Tanks, a Holy Paladin as primary Healer, assisted by either Druid, Priest or Shaman – depending on the encounter – and a Hunter, a Mage, a Rogue and a Warlock as primary Damage Dealers. I was very pleased with this set-up and it worked amazingly well. However, we hit a brick wall on Cho’gall and his very annoying Conversion mechanic. We worked several weeks on this boss with no success in sight. Every time we managed to overcome an obstacle something new came along that broke our necks, e.g. the tentacles in the final phase of the encounter. So, we were unable to defeat this boss before he was nerfed. This was also the time when the new members gradually stopped showing up until they all decided to quit the game for good.
As a consequence, my brother-in-law and I decided to go even more casual in Firelands. We set two specific raid nights (Wednesday and Thursday) and we invited anybody who wanted to come (irrespective of guild affiliation) and who seemed capable according to their armory profile. This meant forgoing the guild group bonus but somehow that did not matter to us any more. I guess one can say that we were already losing interest in the game. That method worked surprisingly well and we cleared six bosses in Firelands within the first two weeks after release. Here we were at the final boss again and we were having the same problems again. Master phase one, fail at phase two; master that one and fail at the next one. Eventually, we did it, but I simply did not care any more. I was glad that it was done and finally over. After that I just could not be bothered any more. We had no Dragon Soul guild runs; however, I completed that raid three times via the Raid Finder – as a Healer, a Tank and on my Hunter. Every single run was boring and felt meaningless with the final “boss” encounter being the ultimate let-down.
Towards the end of 2011, my subscription ran out and I took my very first (and only, and final) break from World of Warcraft – meaning I did not renew my subscription. This might not seem like a big deal for many people but for me it was a very big deal. I had been playing continually since I started back in 2006 without any major breaks whatsoever – i.e. without cancelling my subscription. Unfortunately, the game had lost all its appeal to me and I already knew that I wanted to start fresh in a galaxy far, far away.