On Leaving the Endgame Behind

Ashwalker_-_primal_scream

I’ve been playing my two warriors, Ashwalker and Cynderblock, a lot more lately. Ash is up to level 70, and I went ahead and twinked her for PvP. I’m choosing random BGs, but only AV seems to pop with regularity – I presume that it’s for max honor/rep gains, and not just because AV is a hell of a lot of fun. Tanked Drek the first time through, no sweat as long as you stay out of the Whirlwind. I’ll have to start trying him with a few towers up to see if I can do it (and if I need to switch to the Northrend tanking set instead of the Brutal Gladiator’s gear for it.)

Cynderblock… well, I actually took her back into PvP as Fury, because I’d seen a lot of guides saying “that’s the only viable DPS spec left in Cata.” It sucked. I hate squishy melee DPS, I think that’s part of my probem – blowing people up by standing next to them is fun and all that, but I’d rather blow them up slowly and survive than be a plate-wearing glass cannon.

Also, playing ‘block after playing Ash is like … it’s hard. It’s hard playing ‘block in PvP after losing *so* many abilities in 4.0.1 – I was yelling at my screen tonight, WHERE IS MY FUCKING INTERRUPT? – but Fury made it harder. I switched back to Prot and am doing a little better, mostly because I can be the FC and switch to reasonable DPS as a backup.

But it’s hard switching back to something where you have all these tools – Warbringer, Shockwave, Hamstring, Spell Reflect, Shield Bash – to where you don’t, and you don’t even have the toolkit you remember having. This was why, to get ‘block’s groove back, I had to take her out of PvP and solely into PvE. She’s just not a lot of fun in PvP, except as the FC – and that’s a very specialized role.

I don’t normally start off posts with “hey, here’s what I’m up to,” but these war stories have a point.

I’m playing alts more because I did something that I didn’t think I could do – I walked away from the endgame for a while. In the words of Jack O’Neill, I’m taking this loop off, Teal’c. I was about to go nuts, whacko, three fries short of a happy meal, trying to reconcile my schedule with grinding out more honor for gear, capping Conquest Points every week, trying to match up schedules. I’m still happy to do casual Arenas with my guildmates, but it’s not something I’m feeling compelled to log in and do at all.

And you know what? I feel great about it. I dreaded giving it up for a long time, but I needed to say, let’s take a break. Take a break from the game itself for a while, then play other characters casually. Really casually. The grind of the endgame is something that doesn’t stop, ever, so either you keep up with it, or you don’t, but it never ends, and it’s a time sink. It can be an enjoyable one – very much so – but it’s still a grind, and a commitment.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to continue playing Cynwise, exclusively, over the last couple of months. This is not just due to her being my public persona (though it’s part of it, I’m honest enough with myself to admit that), but also due to the feeling that if I were accomplishing things, they needed to be contributing to her achievements, her statistics, not some alt that I was going to throw away in a few weeks. Every 30 minutes I spent in WSG on an alt was 30 minutes I could have spent getting THAT MUCH CLOSER to exalted with Silverwing Sentinels. The fact that I have Resilient Victory on Cynwulf and NOT Cynwise burns us, my precious, it BURNS US.

And yet, in order to PvP at level 85, you have to be willing to commit SOME time to grinding out good gear, or great gear. I was honestly personally crushed to find out that the Conquest grind of S9 didn’t carry over to S10, because it meant now I had even MORE crap to do on Cynwise to get her up to speed. Another 40 hours of grinding just for gear? Jiminy.

It’s not just the grinding. I’ve done it before, I can do it again if I need to. It’s not like I’m going OH NO I CAN’T BG HET IS ZO DANKER – far from it. It’s that I’d have to do ONLY the grinding, which is actually what I ended up doing at the end of S9, with very little time to do anything else. The only fun thing I did during S9 that wasn’t Arena Arena TB TB BG BG Arena Arena was level up a warrior to about 70 – which took me 4 months or so?

No, it’s that I didn’t have the time – don’t have the time – to do anything but the grind. I haven’t finished Uldum yet, on any character. I didn’t finish Deepholm until last month. I am just now looking at Redridge mountains. I can go grind out more Conquest Points, maybe start running Troll Heroics and gear up my VP set, sure – but at the expense of doing anything else. Seeing anything else. Not on ‘wise, not on anyone.

So I started thinking, what would happen if I took some time off from the endgame?

  • I’d miss Arenas with the guys, but Psyn has already quit Arenas, and Dolar and Hex are usually busy raiding when I’m on. That’s admittedly tough to drop away from, but I know they’ll understand. We have that kind of a guild.
  • My gear will fall behind, so if I do want to just do a random BG, I’ll be at the bottom of the barrel, not the top. I’ve been there before, but … well, let’s be frank. If you take a season off, you can restart the next season at the exact same place as everyone else. I could come back for S11 and get crafted gear that is better than my current gear. That’s crazy.
  • I won’t progress towards any of the Battlemaster achievements. Well… that’s too bad.

That’s not actually a very long list, and the social component is really the strongest one.

But I’m in a guild that values long-term friendship over short-term gear gains. So that first one’s not really a big deal.

Crafted gear will be an upgrade in a few months. Yikes.

And I need to remember that achievements are programmatic fun.

In return, I can:

  • Learn some new classes. Maybe even some old ones!
  • Quest in some new zones.
  • Maybe level some hordelings? OMG red team what?
  • Play on twinks, see BC at level.
  • Write some blog posts and fiction, which has been on the back burner for some time.
  • Keep my play time more structured to my actual leisure time.
  • Get some fucking sleep at night.

Saying “I don’t want to play the endgame right now” has been really … liberating, for lack of a better term. All the pressure to perform, to grind out, to accomplish dailiy and weekly tasks is gone. Poof. Vanished. I don’t have to feel guilty about not logging in. I don’t have to feel guilty that I didn’t cap any points, or that I didn’t grind out a reputation.

I can build a twink, and say… You’re not a lot of fun in PvP like this, maybe if we tried something else you might be? And if not, let’s face up to that fact and let you quest at level for a little while?

I can stop XP on another character and say… hey, how is this level 70 twinking bracket, anyways? Here’s some great gear, maybe we can get some awesome gear but also practice fundamentals of tanking before we move on? Maybe I can see what BC was really like, or at least approximate it?

I can roll on other servers and not sit there and feel guilty that I am not actively contributing to my main.

I know that all of the guilt was up here, in my head. The pressure to succeed, to achieve, is entirely self-generated.

So even if I choose to spend time on ‘wise questing (Loremaster? At least finish Cataclysm’s new zones, Cyn!), I don’t have to feel guility about it anymore.

Yeah. I’m pretty much playing a level 70 twink right now. She looks awesome, kicks ass with authority, and gets to play in my favorite battleground in all of Azeroth – Alterac Valley.

How is that a bad thing?

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5 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

5 responses to “On Leaving the Endgame Behind

  1. Disciplinary Action

    Man- every post I read over here I have to comment on because each one is so completely (internally) relevant! This has to be something a lot of bloggers are struggling with right now- the grind is SO grindy, whether with the Hyjal dailies or the PvP tier, that it seems to take more time than ever before to stay on top. I personally feel incredibly guilty for not having time to raid, not just because I feel like I’m letting down my guild, but also because it seems like cheating on my blog. As writers, how do we can up? CAN we keep up? Is there anything wrong with not keeping up?I love this CFN project; it’s so heartening to me, and I dare say many bloggers. You’ve proved you can step back and still stay relevant, still say something of merit and worth and contribution to the community without killing yourself to stay on top of raiding.

  2. Psynister

    And taking out all of the grinds turns the game back into a game, and you just jump in there and have fun for a while. Getting late? No reason to stay logged on for another hour waiting for that final arena victory to cap your points, just park that alt at the nearest inn and call it quits.Getting away from end game grinds was one of the better decisions I’ve made. Of course, here lately I haven’t played the game much at all, but when I do log in there’s no pressure to get anything done in particular, so I just find myself a toon that looks like fun and jump on in.

  3. wowopa

    “I can roll on other servers and not sit there and feel guilty that I am not actively contributing to my main.”This.Once I let that go (years ago), I kept having FUN… which is why I still play to this day. Sure, I chip away at things with my main, but it’s because I want to, not because of pressure to do so. Alts FTW! Another great post.

  4. Cynwise of Stormwind

    @liala: Thank you, that’s high praise indeed! The interplay between the game and the blog is a complicated one, and I know that guilt you describe. What becomes a pleasant additional hobby becomes the driving force for maintaining an unnatural level of play when your life changes: I have to be good. I have to practice what I preach. I have to be *in it* to have something to write about.I don’t know how artists produce on a regular schedule and still play WoW. It has to be highly regimented to produce a weekly product, and yet WoW time takes away from art/writing – or maybe it’s the other way around? That’s an idea worth exploring. This should probably be a post.Anyhow: longwinded way of saying thank you, I’m glad you’re finding CFN interesting, and not just because it gets your attention every time it autoposts! :-)@psynister: I’m finally seeing what drove you away from the endgame. I used to have enough time that I could do it and moderate with some other activities, but it always drew me back – away from the alts, away from leveling. Why don’t I have more 85s? Because I ground away all my time on Cynwise. The obligations of the endgame always drew me back.I’m seeing the new Redridge for the first time. I might even finish Uldum this week! @wowopa: Thanks! I’m still learning – in part due to a TERRIBLE heirloom addiction – but I’m trying to get better at letting it all go. :-)

  5. Psynister

    I still haven’t seen Redridge. In some ways I kind of traded one grind for another. The last few months I’ve been really focused on trying to level up different classes for the blog which turned my grinding from gear to levels. I think the quad healer thing kind of killed me there for a while with way too much focus on leveling for the sake of blogging and not enough on leveling for the sake of enjoying the leveling.There are still a lot of zones that I haven’t done any questing in at all, or that I’ve only done a few quests here or there. Before my break I had started a couple of my new alts in those zones, but of course the break followed so I still haven’t seen them.