You loot a [barely readable diary]...

Could I really leave behind my guild (or rather, leave my alts parked in it, to say hello once in a while), transfer servers, and play FOR THE HORDE! after being a life-long Alliance player? I have been saying I wanted to change things up a bit for Legion...

A personal history of Warcraft

I've played World of Warcraft since the Vanilla beta, when I was a fresh-faced university graduate, and I've definitely had my ups-and-downs with it over the years:

  • Vanilla: mained a mage. Looking back it was a horrific slog, but we didn't know any better. You won't catch me playing on the legacy servers anytime soon.
  • Burning Crusade: Continued with the mage, and then hunter. Fell in with a fantastic guild, and really enjoyed this expac, especially the Isle of Quel'Danas.
  • Wrath of the Lich King:Fantastic guild imploded. Played through most of the expac solo or in a duo, now as a Paladin. Like a lot of people, I consider WotLK a high point in expansion history.
  • Cataclysm: Didn't play much at all. Can't even remember what I played, but I have vague memories of a warlock in Vashj'ir. Not a fan.
  • Mists of Pandaria: This expansion was fantastic, partially because of the actual content, but mainly because I ditched my EU account, re-started on the US servers and joined the guild I'm still in today, Waypoint. Raided through Siege of Orgrimmar by staying up until 4am; it was glorious. Started maining a druid.
  • Warlords of Draenor: Largely sat this expansion out, and now I kind of regret it. Just ran through the bare minimum in it's twilight days to level my druid.
  • Legion: ...and here we are today, still playing the druid, still in Waypoint, and I genuinely feel like my enjoyment of WoW is on-par with WotLK and Mists.

A retrospective of sorts

I suppose my World of Warcraft situation is a little atypical. I play on the US servers despite living in the EU, so I don't see my guild in-game very often, though the server is busy enough around the clock that I never have trouble finding people for group content. What is does mean through, is that I'm not a raider. My guild did raid in Legion, and I tried to join them as I did in Mists, but I just couldn't hack the late nights so I dropped out after a few weeks. I'm not even sure if Waypoint will be raiding in Battle for Azeroth, so that's an unresolved issue at the moment.

When Legion dropped, I was in a pretty bad place. I was depressed, I was at the tail-end of being off work sick for a long time, I was spending far too much time in my own house and in my own head. Warcraft became an escape for me -- I realise that isn't necessarily a good thing -- and I threw myself into it. Being signed off work, I felt I had nothing much better to do than log in, smoke too many cigarettes, eat terrible food, and level up while feeling sorry for myself. But being online with my friends and guildmates as we all levelled through the zones really helped. We ran dungeons together, we waved and cheered when we found one-another out in the world, we chatted.

And so slowly I got better, too. I went back to work. I met someone. Then I found a new job. I kept playing World of Warcraft, though at a much less intense pace.

I suppose what I'm trying to get across is that World of Warcraft has always been a part of my adult life, and as long as it's still going, it still will be. Through thick and thin -- and I mean in-game and out -- it's always been a place I can go to and feel some mastery over my environment. When I'm feeling down, it's something that comforts me. It's constantly changing but it's also charmingly the same. You generally know what you're getting. Just due to sheer longevity, Azeroth has become an actual place.

Wait a minute. Is World of Warcraft my Cheers of MMOs? I think I'm okay with that.

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Not the best start to pre-patch Battle for Azeroth...
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The servers are down and patch 8.0 should be with us in the next 7 hours or so. In the mean time, Blizzard have a pre-patch survival video up. In other news, I'm not feeling so great. Hopefully I'll be better by the end of week to enjoy it.
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Highlord's Charger

Over the last few days I got my much-neglected paladin up to level 110 and completed both the order hall campaign and the Broken Shore questline to unlock her class mount, the Highlord's Charger. Truth be told, I think it's one of the weakest class mounts, aesthetically, but I'm using acquiring the class mount as my milestone for calling an alt "finished" for Legion.

With this mount added to the collection, that means I now have class mounts unlocked for druid, demon hunter, warrior, monk, mage and now paladin -- that's a lot of alts for someone who traditionally doesn't play a lot of alts. I also have a warlock sitting at level 107, and she'll probably get hers next.

I didn't think much of the paladin order hall campaign -- druid and death knight are still my favourites -- but the mount questline was a ended with a solid nostalgic trip back to Stratholme and had some nice callbacks to the Vanilla-era class mount questline. And what was more surprising -- to me at least -- was how much I enjoyed playing all three specs of paladin. Suddenly, she's gone from my least-played alt to a genuine contender for being my Battle for Azeroth main.

I've been a druid main since Mists of Pandaria, with almost no time devoted to alts at all. My druid has the best gear, all the reputation, all the achievements. But I'm getting a bit tired of druid-ing, and I'm fairly determined to have a new main for BfA. So I've been levelling (or level-boosting) a roster of alts, giving them a spin, and seeing what I like best. I'll try them all again -- or the shortlist, at least -- once the pre-patch arrives next week, before making a decision. So far, paladin, death knight and monk are my top choices. And of course, there's always the possibility that I'll end up back with my druidic old faithful.

Just a quick note to say that I have added commenting (via Disqus), a blog roll widget to show fellow Blaugustians, and started on some tag functionality. And a thank-you to Bel, for the very complimentary shout-out in his Blaugust warm-up summary in today's Aggronaut post.

A blog (re)born

They say blogging's dead. I don't know who they are and I don't care much for their opinions.

I've been wanting to start blogging again for some time. I ran my last blog for several years before it fizzled out, but it felt wrong going back to it after such a long break. Then two things aligned that have spurred me into action:

  • Belghast announced Blaugust Reborn, a fantastic reboot of the blaugust blogging festival;
  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will be launching right in the middle of that August blogging fiesta

The opportunity seemed too good to waste, so here I am. I'm writing this on a little custom-made blogging platform that I've cobbled together over the last few days. Part of the Blaugust challenge for me will be refining this software and adding in all the features I need to use; one at a time, just as I need them.

I'm going to keep the scope of this blog small; I first envisaged it as a Warcraft blog, and that'll likely still be the primary focus, but I'll also include the other MMO/RPG games that make up the majority of my gaming diet, plus some meta-commentary on the development of the blog platform.

You may have noticed there's no ability to add comments to posts yet, and I feel that'll probably be essential during Blaugust. So that's top of the list for now. Until then, I'm in the Blaugust Discord, and on Twitter both as @rumorsmatrix.