When I returned to my EU toons from my summer break on the US realms, I felt a strange disconnection from the people I used to play with. It may have only been four months since I was last actively raiding there, but so much had changed. My most recent guild had folded, the GM packed off for some other server, and most of the people from it had formed a new guild which was now quite a bit bigger than the previous one had ever been during the time I was a member. While I was told that I had an “open invite” into the guild if I wanted, the fact that the GM was the person who had booted me from the old guild made that prospect untenable.
The next day, the announcement came out that faction transfers were now available in the EU. Without anything to lose, I switched my tankadin and shaman to Alliance on another server, not quite sure what things would be like but fairly sure that they couldn’t be any worse. To my great surprise, my new server is many times more active than the old one (I can’t speak for what it’s like Horde side of course), even though warcraftrealms.com lists both as having similar population levels. I can easily find myself in a group that plows through three to five heroics with relatively little turnover, then do it all over again on my healer. When I pop into LFG on my tank, I get hit with whispers almost immediately, along with a few ninja invites (which are summarily dismissed – if I can take the time to list myself as interested in more than one instance, you can take the time to tell me which one you’re asking me to come to).
I started playing WoW as Alliance, switching to Horde after a year and a half. When I re-rolled in the EU I stayed exclusively horde. Subconsciously, I’m sure I bought into the “alliance is full of children, horde are more mature” line that is so popular in the WoW community. Do I find it to be true? Not really. I haven’t had all perfect groups, but the ratio of idiots to acceptable players is no worse than it was when I would PUG horde side. Given a higher level of activity, why should I really care what side I’m playing for? Having played both side extensively, I can’t say that I’m loyal to one over the other, and in some aspects of the game that I enjoy (Lore for example), I think the Alliance come out on top.
My primary goal right now is to get a new raiding guild started. Being on a server and side with higher activity levels will only help me to achieve that goal. I may have to sort through more applicants to find the good ones, but I’d much rather have a wide spectrum of people to choose from than feel forced to bring sub-par players on board because I need a warm body more than I need skill. Anyone who’s tried to recruit on a low-population server I’m sure will be familiar with that old dilemma.
The question that I ask myself is whether the ease with which I can reboot my WoW existence is a good thing. This will be the third time that I’ve changed everything about the characters that I play. Should I be more invested in my virtual life? Or is it fine to say “I’m not having fun playing this way, and I have the option to do something different that I will have fun doing”? Ask me that question a year ago and I would have chosen the former. I felt that an attachment to your avatar and it’s existence/reputation on your realm was a good thing – showed a level of commitment that reflected your dedication to continually improve yourself. Today, I’m squarely leaning towards to the “I play to have fun” side.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a serious player, or that I don’t want to play with other serious gamers. I still want to form a new raiding guild, I still want to plow through Icecrown and into Cataclysm, and more than ever I want to get the most out of the time that I spend playing. Too much of my game time has been spent stressing over the failings of myself and others. I can find other ways to challenge myself such that other people’s failure to perform doesn’t hit me so hard.
So, Karatheya is no more, at least as a character. I’ll keep the identity for blogging, as I’ve become quite fond of it. But my adventures in game take me in new directions, and this was the right time to make such a change.
My Name (was) Karatheya, and I’m a Switcher