How did you get into World of Warcraft? Did you do it by yourself? Did you do it to meet people?
If you're like me, you did it with a group of friends. Two or three of us started, but then the rest of us joined in. We live hours apart. WoW brings us back together. I've nearly quit the game dozens of times, but my friends keep me playing.
Even now after joining an end-game raiding guild, my friends figure prominently on my game-play decisions. Which raids will I sign up for? Which days will I reserve for them? When will I go do RL stuff and when will I log on simply to hang out and chat with them? The good news is that most of them are in the same guild with me. For the most part, the guild schedule is "our" schedule.
The drive to progress in end-game raiding can be all-consuming. When I'm not raiding, I'm often doing quests or farming materials with one goal in mind: Prepare for Raiding! I need to pay for potions, repair, new gear, and contribute to the guild bank. There are weeks when all my game-play is consumed by the raid or the raid-prep. Where do my friends fit in when this happens? Do I play to raid or do I play to do stuff with my friends?
If you're like me and the answer is a resounding BOTH, you've got your work cut out for you! Here's some of the stuff we do to maintain the balance. Some of it might seem *Duh* obvious. Sometimes it's the no-brainer stuff that's easiest to overlook, but makes all the difference
The Guild Within the Guild
aka The Alt-Guild
aka The Alt-Guild
The Friends Channel
Everyone has these channels. It's the conversation within the conversation. In our case, it's a lifeline. Even when all of us happen to be in the same guild or party channel, we inevitably hold our group conversations here. Now that we've spread to more than one guild, we still maintain our channel. It's essential. It keeps us all in contact. When one of us needs something, we come to this channel first before going to the guild.
Even while our mains bounce from raiding guild to raiding guild, our Alt Guild remains constant. All our bank toons & non-raiding characters are members of our Alt Guild. It provides us a haven from the "responsibilities" of being in a larger guild.
Along with the Alt Guild is Alt Night. For a long while it was "Horde Night," but we finally abandoned that to remain on the same server and in the same channels. Right now, alt night is just getting fired back up for the new year for a group of toons we have in the 30's. This year's "project" is called OPERATION ALT-SQUAD!
Our biggest issue is numbers. Our guild w/in the guild is about 8 people. Guilds & groups in WoW work best in multiples of 5. If I had a dollar for every time we had 6 of us logged in and someone had to be excluded, I'd be rich. The best way to deal with this is to find ways of being inclusive. Here are some things we've tried with mixed results:
- Instead of running an instance, split into groups of 3 and quest.
- Split into the groups and then ask members of our various raiding guilds to join us. Just don't ask me to LFG! I hate pugs (even when 1/2 of it is friends.)
- Never let the same person sit out two nights in a row.
The second is schedules. Two of us are in different guilds with very different schedules. Frankly, it's not gone well, but it has solved our first issue. Right now, schedules have created a situation where about 5 of us are online together regularly. That's been fun for us, but unfortunate for our other friends.
Because we have two different foci,* it's really easy for us to drop one for the other. I do our Alt Night scheduling. There are weeks when I really need to farm something up for Beroth OR the raiding guild needs Beroth for a run that I didn't sign up for. It's so easy to go do those raid-related things and forget Alt Night. The same thing happens for the rest of our group.
Moving Forward w/ Operation Alt Squad
Over the weeks ahead, I plan to share stuff about Alt-Night and our progression. Our first hurdle is adjusting to the new "old" game. With the last patch, Blizzard changed a lot of level requirements. We're re-learning the levels of instances, mobs & general progressions.
Our goal this time around is to enjoy stuff we might have missed the other times we leveled toons. We're hoping to eventually hit some "old" end-game instances that we never really got to enjoy for various reasons.
The first hurdle is that our group is not as level-tight as we'd like. Our Tank, a feral druid named Rhus (me) is level 36, but our Priest is only 31. This was fine when we hit the Scarlet Monastery Graveyard on Monday, but I'm not sure how far we should go without shrinking that gap.
*RANT! Foci is the plural of Focus. Stupid blogger doesn't know that. It wants me to use focuses. I acknowledge that somewhere along the line general stupidity won over and made it focuses acceptable. I don't have to like it, but I accept it. Still, for the spell check to not recognize foci...Arrrgghhh!!
Now, I can go back and point out the numerous grammatical corners I regularly cut in this and other blogs. I think it's part of the nature of blogging. Sometimes, I purposefully cheat to maintain a conversational tone. I admit to an insufficient level of editing. I often catch really ugly mistakes days or weeks later. That's all part of blogging.
All that said, it still bothers me that the English language is becoming such a wasteland of inarticulate, dumb-speak.