I really thought that I was done with WoW.
I penned a series of posts last year entitled Diaries of a Ganker, and in these posts I gave the account of my shenanigans as a ganker on Illidan, as well as my team's attempt to push rating on the Arena and Rated BG ladders. In March, however, I cancelled my subscription and called it quits for good, or so I thought. The fact that Warlords of Draenor was coming did nothing for me. Nor did the announcement that Australia was getting their own servers fill me with excitement. As a resident of Japan my latency on Australian and American servers are about the same, clocking in at roughly 120 ms. There are two other MMOs vying for my time - TESO and AA - and as I said in a previous post, the only reason why I would return to WoW is if the group of players I used to play with decided to jump back in the saddle again. Given that we have all splintered into differing pursuits the probability of this happening equated to the proverbial snowball's chance in hell.
The first inkling that the snowball might survive came when an old comrade-in-arms Sorgon appeared on Battlenet when I was playing Hearthstone. I haven't seen this guy for almost a year, and he is one of the two really excellent warlocks I've met on my old server. He is also an old Arena team mate and a 2k Rated BG player. We exchanged some light banter, and he surprised me by saying he was thinking of returning to WoW. I wished him luck, told him I had too many things on my plate, and said farewell.
The second hint that the universe was coming into alignment was the appearance of Tamati on Battlenet, a Kiwi team mate who had moved to the United Arab Emirate. After months of silence, he appeared, told me he had a stable Internet connection, said he was thinking of diving back into WoW rated play, and asked whether I was thinking of running Rated BGs this coming expansion? I said no, wished him well, and we went our separate ways.
The third revelation occurred when Rykester. a good mate in real life who called WoW quits at the end of last year, asked me whether or not I would be playing the expansion. I said no, then queried, are you? He said, well we have Aussie servers now, latency isn't going to screw us over anymore. We won't lose games based on bad ping. What about TESO, I asked. He said, the AvAvA is fun, but it's not Skyrim, which is what I really wanted. You should play AA, I said. It's more Skyrim than TESO is. Really? he replied. I might give it a bash someday, but WoD looks really fun. You know they are letting us transfer our toons over for free, right?
And there's a free week of subscription available?
At this stage I realised that the world was moving in mysterious ways, and conspiring to return me to WoW. I messaged a friend and team mate Ratsac on Battlenet. You playing WoW? Ratsac has been busy in real life building a new house over in Perth, and his reply was curt and to the point. Fucking oath, bro. He then went on, I've been playing boomie on the Oceanic servers, and owning everyone. It's a different game on 20-40 ms. You should listen to all the Americans QQing in Oceanic BGs about the bad ping, bitching that the game is unplayable. Now they know how us Aussies feel. Ratsac recently got his 2k achievement in Rateds at 200+ ms, so I shudder to think how much carnage he will wreck at 20 ms.
The final revelation occurred when I conversed with my sister on Skype recently. Known as Lelle in WoW, and Sally in TESO, she just had a new baby and being a new parent is consuming almost all her time. She asked me, so are we going to play WoW? I was rather taken aback by this question. What about the baby? And TESO? I can't play as much as I used to, obviously, she replied. But we can work around the baby. And I can play my warrior without lag!!! Hurrah!!! She was positively beaming with enthusiasm. I can't recall her being so excited for a game for a long time.
What finally sealed the deal was watching Blizzcon and the WoW Arena World Championships, which were the closest and most competitive series I have seen in the history of the competition (the semi-finals and the final are all embedded in this post). Both semi-finals had the winners coming back from a 2-0 deficit to take the series 3-2, with the title eventually being taken in 4-2 in a best of seven series. I also saw what may be the changing of the WoW guard - anyone who follows WoW Arena will know the names Cdew, Venrucki, Snutz, Talbadar and co., and I found it very interesting that long time stalwarts Skill Capped and Three Amigos tumbled to a new European team called Bleached Bones. Lazerchicken was a revelation, playing his hybrid boomkin class beautifully, putting out constant damage pressure, kiting in tandem with his healer when trained, and supporting his team with off-heals and peels to alleviate pressure when required. Watching these games rekindled the old love for this format, and a desire to mix it up and try again to hit that holy grail of PvP for me, a 2k rating. This is something I have never been able to do despite years of trying, and while I have come agonisingly close, I have never reached this milestone.
I have cancelled my TESO subscription after eight months in the game, and designated it as a title to return to in the future. I will keep pottering away in AA because it is the most alive persistent world I have been to despite its repeated attempts to scuttle itself by inept customer service. But my friends and family are going back to WoW, and they are doing so with big happy smiles on their faces. At the end of the day all the thousands of words about meaningful persistent sandbox worlds means nothing in the face of the bonds between friends, family, and old comrades. The stars have aligned - the signs in the tea leaves are clear - the augurs have spoken. WoW is beckoning.
Who am I to argue with the universe?