Play Now, Not Then

This too shall pass.

I think about that proverb a lot.

I remember how much pressure I felt two years ago to see everything in WoW before Cataclysm changed it all. It was this palpable weight on my mind, this knowledge that it was all going away.

I had been playing just long enough to have seen enough to know how much else there was to see, but not long enough to have seen it yet. It was my first expansion transition, but also one where the changes to the game outweighed any changes I might have expected to my characters. I knew that there were changes coming to how I would play, but I didn’t really pay them much mind. I had two goals – Ambassador and Kingslayer – and getting those two titles on two very different characters helped me put Wrath to bed and get mentally ready for Cataclysm.

Those titles don’t mean very much anymore. Their value has passed, as the changes in the game made them easier to get. But I remember those accomplishments fondly, and I value them still. I’m glad that I did them then, and didn’t wait for Cataclysm.

Over the past few months I have quietly set aside my twinks and reclaimed my warlock main, Cynwise. There’s a certain natural flow to playing her that I don’t have on any other character, even after almost a year of disuse.  I’m not near Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to master her yet, but I’m working on it. I find myself enjoying PvP on her again – something I hadn’t expected – and that I no longer bemoan her professions or her gear or how Rogues love to gank her.

We just play. It’s uneasy at times; I find I miss healing any BG that lacks a healer, and I tend to tank old raids without a viable tank spec. But by and large, we just play. I’m slowly working on Battlemaster and Justicar, but they’re more an excuse to PvP than goals for Cataclysm.

I realized, though, that there’s a fundamental difference between where I was at the end of Wrath, and where I am now at the end of Cataclysm. Pre-Cataclysm, I wanted to see the game before it went away, and it didn’t matter who I saw it on. Pre-Mists of Pandaria, I want to enjoy playing a Warlock as they are now, flawed yet challenging, before they go away.

This class that I love – it’s going to change in Mists. It’s going to change a lot. I can look ahead and go, I think that I will like the new Warlocks – but I don’t know. I thought I would love Cataclysm, but I didn’t. I don’t think I really even liked it very much, as a whole. There were parts I loved – many of the revamped leveling zones – and there were things I enjoyed well enough – but the sum total wasn’t what I anticipated two years ago.

So I look at the changes to Warlocks with very guarded optimism. I know leveling will be better, but beyond that – I think they’ll work out okay, but I really don’t know. I think I’ll have fun with the specs, but I don’t know which ones will click with me, which ones will work in PvP, which ones will be fun to quest with. I don’t know.

I do know that the specs I enjoy now are going away in a few months. There is a countdown timer running on them. Time is running out for me to play the way I’ve learned over the past few years.

I don’t know if what’s coming will be better or worse. I hope it’s better, but I don’t know. I’m afraid it will be worse, but I don’t know.

I know it will be different, and this too shall pass.

So I’m playing Warlock now, because I enjoy it now.

Changes will come soon enough. They always do.

It’s ironic that I spent so much time in Cataclysm trying to freeze things in place, trying to deny that change should happen, was happening. I built over a dozen twinks – characters locked in various XP brackets – this expansion, each working on different Best In Slot lists, frozen in time. My surprise main character for 4.2 and much of 4.3 was my level 70 Druid Cynli, who is about as geared as I can make her for her primary role.

Cynli was one of many attempts by me to thumb my nose at Heraclitus. All things are change, that ancient greek philosopher maintained, and yet I tried to step into the same river over and over again. I was upset that Cynwise had changed beneath me, that not only had the foundations of the world been torn asunder, but my vehicle for experiencing them had, too.

Was it too much change for me to deal with? Honesty compels me to admit that it might have been.

The Mists Beta is full of all sorts of scenes like the one above. Classes change dramatically without warning. Abilities work, or don’t work, or kinda work, or have interesting bugs that might not really be what was intended – or maybe they might! It’s hard to say.

But as time marches on, and class design starts to solidify and Blizzard developers start making balance passes with the new mechanics, it hits me more and more – I don’t really know what this game will be like in the future. I don’t know what my favored class will really be like.

It’s not going to be like it was in Burning Crusade, or Wrath. There’s no going back.

But there’s also no skipping ahead – no hurrying up the expansion so I can get to leveling my baby Horde Warlock, no trying out the Glyph of Demon Hunting as an off tank in retro raids, no cool new glyphs or simplified rotations or wondering what Haunt is really for.

There’s just the Warlocks of now, the Warlock class I know how to play.

Yes. I know that this, too, shall pass.

So I’ll enjoy it while I can, and take the changes as they come.

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19 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

19 responses to “Play Now, Not Then

  1. I have a similar approach to Rezznul. As things have changed for how I have to heal, I just look at the present. I milk call I can out of what I am given, and wait until the next change.

    I must say, it’s an honor and pleasure being able to play with you. It’s a joy being able to have fun, and see myself grow into my role.

    So, let’s enjoy this time while we can, as you said.

  2. I almost felt like chucking, the proverbial boot in your direction for posting this ;) Only a couple of days ago, I posted that I am finally over the warlock class and wanted to main a Mage, with my shadow priest for my dot fix. There is still a part of me, crying out in agony for deleting most of my locks and turning my main one, into a bank…

    I guess the lesson I can take away, from here is to embrace the change. One good way of doing that is to relevel as one. An undead male warlock , like the way I started out 8 years ago. I doubt I will ever have the patience for leveling that many locks… But I can certainly rediscover my love for them overtime, when I am not concerned about them for endgame, which I am going to be a part of after nearly two expacs and finally having found a raiding guild.

    Brilliant writing as usual.

    • One thing I should point out: this isn’t really about Warlocks. It is, because that’s what I’m playing now, but it isn’t, because it’s really about doing what you enjoy NOW. Not in the past, not in the future; now.

      You get on that Mage and go have fun, Jay. Don’t look back. Just enjoy it now.

  3. I know it probably isn’t fair and that things have changed but whatever beta build I logged on to with my affliction lock a few months ago made me never want to pick her up again. That made me sad and well I haven’t really played WoW since. This is the 1st time I’ve gone into an expansion without excitement or wonder. I don’t care about Pandaria, this brewing war between the Horde and Alliance, pet battles, challenge modes or new raiding content. What I do care about is that the class/spec that I loved and enjoyed for almost 5 years is changed. Once they flip that switch she’ll be gone.

    I guess I’m being overly dramatic and maybe I should actually give it a chance but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I also can’t bring myself to play her cause I think it will just make it worse once patch actually hits.

    • My very first bit of feedback in the Beta was that the changes were overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t looked at anything online, I was trying to map from old to new, there was no in-game guidance, etc.. After an hour I was basically ready to give up.

      It got better. The in-game help really did get better, and was needed. The abilities got cleaned up. The transition will still be difficult, and I have no idea how I’ll react when I actually get there. I know Affliction will be different, and at first that depressed me.

      But then I realized, you know, I can play her now. I can PvP on her as the Affliction that I know, and not let the future spoil the present. We don’t know what it will really be like; we really don’t.

      I still like playing her now. I know it seems hard to face that it’s all going to change, but … I bet you like playing her now, too. :)

  4. Dejara Thoris

    This is essentially what I’m doing. I have an annual pass, it runs out sometime in late in the year and at that time I will evaluate where I and WoW are and decide if I want to drop it or keep going. In the meanwhile I’m going to enjoy what I have and the people in my guild to do it with. (At least as much as I can with the lame Horde PvP in my datacenter) Fortunately my guild has expanded into other games than WoW so I don’t have to give that up at least.

    (It’s not looking good at the moment though. GC has made the claim today that warlocks won’t commonly channel twist to get an extra 3% dps…I mean, has he met us? Does he realize how much they have trained ‘locks to make the best of clunky mechanics and brag about it? sigh.)

    • I saw the 3% comment. 3% is really a lot. Folks will channel twist.

      I wonder if we should scrap MG and just have DS as our filler at this point. :)

  5. That pic of all the Locks is enough to make a Paladin run screaming. Just sayin’.

    The funny thing is that somewhere during Cata I decided to simply set down my old main, Quintalan, and retire him outright. His story was through Wrath, and Cata just didn’t feel like his story. I picked up a pair of mains for Cata, and that seemed to work well enough. As the end approaches, I’m playing a couple of different toons, trying to decide which I want to play as a main for Mists.

    Perhaps like you I’ll go back to Q, but right now I kind of doubt it. His story is over. The next generation is upon us, and their stories have yet to be told.

    • Isn’t that picture awesome? I logged in one day and that was going on. It’s all about how fast you can hit your TAB key.

      I use that picture as a reminder that things on the Beta are not finished. They’re not even close! Stuff like that happens all the time in the Beta. I can’t take it too seriously.

      The stories we tell with our mains are challenging when going from xpac to xpac. Part of me wants to just iteratively twink and pick a new main for Pandaria – but the other part of me wants to ride this out on the warlock I rode in on.

  6. Well said, as always. Embracing the moment, taking low-key pleasure in the current state of our characters- what a zen way to approach the coming changes. I, too, was burned by Caraclysm (bazinga), but this seems like a Pandaren-approved method for success in Mists.

  7. I am not really looking forward to MoP for almost this same reason. Our raid group is setting itself back up to be able to hit the ground running and I don’t know what I will be playing. I’ve been a warlock for so long and I just don’t know if I can be one anymore.

    I logged into the beta and tried out the new rotations and frankly I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right. I feel like I am in a constant panic and that I am doing everything wrong. I don’t want to feel like that with a class I know and love. I was never the “best” warlock out there but I was pretty good and now I am facing being horrible. Not a good prospect.

    I got excited when I read your comments about the new warlocks and I couldn’t wait to get home and test it out for myself. Despite the grey cloud hanging over me, I am glad I did. Now I have time to decide if I will be able to weather the massive changes or find another class to focus on.

    I don’t want to have to switch to being a shadow priest to feel like a warlock again. :(

  8. Very eloquently put. I’m looking forward to Mists and the changes they bring because I was so unimpressed by Cataclysm. If nothing else, what Cata gave me was the hope for change, as opposed to the fear of it. I loved my druid, Stubborn, my namesake, but the changes to his feral dps and healing (my two specs) in cata made me quite unhappy. I hope to reclaim him in Mists.

    Very enjoyable post.

  9. theerivs

    I was nervous as hell when they changed Pallies in Cataclysm, but after getting use to it I rather like it. You must embrace change once you do, things are ok

  10. NetherLands

    The thing is, WoW isn’t life, it’s a game.

    As such, change is neither a given nor automatically necessary. It isn’t like the rules/content of e.g Poker, Chess, soccer or whatever other game change all the time, and ‘Edition Wars’ don’t really strike games that are only tuned a bit during the decades (e.g. Call of Cthulhu, to stick to RPG’s).

    Taking away content – wether directly (latest examples Scholo and SM) or indirectly (e.g. the euphemistically called ‘Dynamic Quest Rewards’ ) – isn’t improving, it’s making people high-strung because they can never be sure to just be able to play the game they thought they had bought.

    Also, while you can hardly become angry at Life/God/whatever (or at least it has little use), customers can convey their dissatisfaction with the direction certain individuals lead their product, and ultimately refuse to pay anymore.

    Note that the Scroll of Resurrection gambit shows that paying for the next Expansion by the B-Team is counterproductive, both as individual (you’ll get the Expansion at-worth if you wait somewhat) and as group (if people fork out money for MoP en masse , ‘because it must be better than Wrath, I mean Cata’ despite all the signs to the contrary, there’s less incentive for the B-Team to clean up their act).

  11. I like this – it really resonates with how I want to feel right now (emphasis on the want – I’m battling guilts and neuroses about it). You are right though to focus on the present and what you are doing right now – as long as you’re enjoying it then all is well. Perfect in fact.

  12. ellori

    You know, quite unrelated but I just wanted to say:

    I found your blog when someone linked your post after winning a blogging award. I read, and I stayed.

    Whenever I see a post from you in my feed, I settle down for what I know will be a long, thought-provoking, and well-written treat. Thank you for your lovely posts!