WOW has a new expansion coming soon. The new mechanics are out for testing in the traditional 'nothing matters, try to break the game' phase. All kinds of things are happening but unlike previous expansions I have really no idea what the gigantic list of changes means. I skipped raiding in Pandaria nearly completely and though I used to be able to evaluate what a change meant for any class now I can barely figure out what the Paladin changes even mean. I remember being really good at that, being a top theorycrafter for Retribution Paladins, and now I am a clueless noob.
It has left me feeling ambivalent. For one thing the flexible raid sizes are a huge draw. I want to recruit 17 good people and raid without worrying how many of them show up. It sounds wonderful to be able to start raiding with 11, get up to 14 through most of the night, and still be able to continue even when a couple people leave early and I am back down to 12. The idea of having challenging encounters that don't require me to constantly bench people and maintain a ridiculously tight roster is immensely appealing. The consolidation of buffs and debuffs even further seems like it will help with that even more. Raiding with less real life crunch... sign me up!
There are some things that really kick my excitement out from under me though. First off the lack of realm first achievements this go around is a sad thing. I know that going for the 'first to level 100' achievements were not good for me but I really enjoyed doing the profession firsts, largely because I could just be aggressive and rich and buy them because I want them more than anyone else does. I want to get my fourth Realm First Jewelcrafter! At least if they cancel them I will have a clean sweep on Vek'nilash server. I know that they cancelled these because they felt that it promoted crazy behaviour but people are going to be lunatics anyway and people like me enjoy that challenge so much.
Part of my hesitation is that my life is more full now than it was last time I was a hardcore raider. I have roleplaying on a regular basis and raiding a couple nights a week would play havoc with that. I also just have more social things I do on a regular basis and I don't know if I can actually commit to getting back into it full on. If I can't do it all the way I don't know that I will really enjoy it. Even just in a pure gaming context I have lots of writing to do on Heroes By Trade and my new camping themed coop game I am grinding away on. I don't have enough time for those so I don't know where I will find the time to play WOW several hours a day and do all the necessary theorycraft to play it properly.
Because you either do it right or don't do it at all, right? I think I can live with using somebody else's spreadsheet to optimize my character even though it makes me feel all dirty to do so but I can't just goof off and not worry about it at all. I have to know all the things that will let me play correctly and keeping up with all that isn't a small task. I guess that is what is really making me hesitate - I know the level of play I have to achieve in order to be happy and I am not sure I can carve that out of my life again. I desperately want the direction, the community, the sense of achievement that raiding gave me but I don't know that I want to pay the price to have that.
That an expansion for a game I don't play anymore can drive me into such an existential crisis is really ridiculous, but there it is. I suppose once you have put your 10,000 hours into something it is forever a part of you.