Vortex: ...but we're still working on Lich King. And technically Halion.
Blizzard: oh, that's nice. Most of the 25s who care have already done it. Don't you want to read about how we're gutting your classes and rearranging the pieces into newer, shinier, better bionic versions of your former selves?
Vortex: Yeah, I suppose... but it doesn't really affect us right now. We have an end-boss to kill. You know only one guild in the world has completed the fight in 10-man gear, given the trinkets and weapons that provide better itemization in 25s no matter the item level, nevermind legendaries and a broader raiding roster? You've... certainly thrown us a challenge.
Blizzard: Yeah, we're fixing that balance thing for the expansion with shared loot tables. Most people have stopped caring about WotLK raids. Look! Shiny expansion!
Vortex: Mmn hm. Well, we can't very well let the expansion come out without us toppling this, first. Or at least trying our hardest. We know it's possible because Typhoon Struggle is awesome and managed to make it happen.
Blizzard: Hey, if you're still banging your heads against a brick wall and enjoying it, we're cool with that.
Vortex: ........Thanks, Blizzard. Alright guys. Let's do this.
Accomplishment as a Guild
We then proceeded to eek our way slowly through each phase. We studied strats. We studied parses. We studied videos of our own attempts. We nitpicked at every mistake... thankfully not to the point of falling apart, where it had collapsed so many other guilds. We hung in there. We all got better. We learned from our mistakes. We found innovative new ways to work together and make use of our spells and raiding roster and off specs. We tweaked our specs and gear specifically for the fight. We rejoiced over our accomplishments as we progressed through the Lich King's health bar. When we had a rough night, we chalked it up to what it was: a rough night, and we knew we could do better, and we went back in there and tried again the next raid night. We supported each other in our varying ways.
We didn't give up, and we adapted.
A friend of mine has a motto: Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. Any achievement you truly earn is rooted in these three words. We stuck through it, adapting, improvising, and finally overcoming the challenge as the expansion is in its twilight. It is the most amazing rush to finally climb over that hurdle you have been sharing digital blood, sweat, and tears to overcome with your small, tight-knit team of friends:
- The one who you've been raiding and playing alongside for, like, 7 years, though you've never met her in person.
- The one who you respect enough to call "sir."
- The one who jokingly blames you for everything, and you take it with a grin.
- The one who you just want to hug every time you see her.
- The one who always seems to be able to make you laugh.
- The one who is like a little brother: he may make you roll your eyes a lot, but when it comes down to it, you're glad he's a part of the family.
- The one who you helped teach to heal, and are proud to call one of the best healers you now know.
- The one who always surprises you with something completely off the wall... and makes it work.
- The one who makes you feel like there's something important missing when they're not in the raid.
- The one who always seems so calm and laid back, even when you're on the 40th wipe of the night.
- The one who you know will always have a kind word for you, even when you feel you've completely failed.
- The one who you barely know, but still extend that warm feeling of friendship because they have joined your ranks.
Why Others Stop Raiding
Ignoring the reasons why some just quit WoW (which are more varied), these are the reasons I have seen for why some guilds stop raiding in the months leading up to a new expansion:
Some stop raiding because they have already completed what's avilable. Maybe they had better luck, or better gear, or better raid makeups or attendance or skill or RNG, or had more raid nights each week to devote to clearing the instance, or more badges and gear available to speed up the gearing of raiders. Whatever the reason, if they've already done all of the content available and gotten their buddies their achievements too, there's less reason to keep raiding on those characters.
Some stop out of despair. They just don't think it's possible for them, so they give up.
Some stop because the expansion will make all of their work obsolete. What does it matter that they can get better gear from the instance when they're going to replace it all in Cataclysm, before they have any need to "compete" for top DPS/gear/whatever again? These people place higher emphasis on their gear and stats than they do on experiencing the game.
Some don't want to put in the effort. Why bother when you can come back at 85 and steamroll the place? Or, they are players who never really put in much effort to begin with, and don't want to be challenged with something "too hard" in their play.
Some are just forced to stop because they can't fill raids, because their guildies fall into the above types and PuGs (usually) lack the cohesion necessary (largely due to being unable to screen each player in depth as you would in guild recruitment). These players want to see the content, they're willing to put in the time and effort for it, but they just can't get others to go with them and put forth the same effort. I've been this one in all of my previous raiding guilds: I always asked, "Why are you giving up? Why did you stop caring? We can DO this! If you actually TRIED we could see this content completed!" ...and this is why WotLK is the first expansion in which I can contentedly sit back and say "Yes. I did complete the content. And it felt great."
Why Vortex wanted to see it Done
We don't care about getting superior loot: if we did, we wouldn't be 10-strict.
We don't care about the looming expansion: it is just a deadline before we have to relearn our classes.
We don't care that it will soon become defunct: we want to see the content.
We don't care that we can come back at 85 and pick daisies while we kill him: we want to earn it.
We want the accomplishment. We want to know that we have risen to the highest bar available to us as 10-strict raiders. We did it our own way, just us, fighting together to overcome and achieve that which challenges us to each perform our best. The guild, together, all shared a thirst for achievement over the content. We wouldn't be raiding otherwise... even as Cataclysm looms, casting a shadow over the Wrath instances. As one person commented of us, "Playing the game for what it is today & not for what it will be in the coming months."
I love my guild.
....bring it, Halion.