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As we get closer to the release of the World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, it seems that the golden days of raiding have come and gone; some of the top guilds have left with it. Vodka, one of the United States’ most dominant raiding guilds, has decided to step back and let someone else take the reigns. In a statement made by Marle, an officer on the Vodka forums,

“It is with a heavy heart we announce that vodka will not be continuing in Legion as a progression raiding guild.

With many of our members, including 3 Officers, taking a step back from the game going forward, we don’t feel it is worthwhile to rebuild our roster to continue in the expansion.

We wish all current and former members of the guild all the best in whatever path they choose to follow, and hope all of our fans and supporters enjoy the expansion for all it has to offer. We’ll be watching!”

Although Vodka made the decision to become more casual prior to Warlords of Draenor (WoD), they still put in 8+ hours a day for 4 days a week which is far more than the normal raider. Even with this “casual” raiding schedule during WoD, they still managed to be in the top 10 for tier 17 (Blackrock Foundry) and top 3 for tier 18 (Hellfire Citadel) on the US servers according to WoWprogress. This isn’t the first major guild we have seen step away from the competitive raiding scene. Blood Legion made the announcement in early 2015 to be a more casual guild after rumors began to spread of infighting and disagreements about the future of the guild. Paragon, known for being one of the top 5 raiding guilds in the world dating all the way back to vanilla (original) WoW, stepped away in late February of this year. But what does this mean, is the game getting worse for raiders or are the guilds just tired of raiding? The answer is both.

Guildies I'll never forget and a raid boss that was the bane of our existence.

Vodka inspired me to raid. Both the guild and the drink…

Keep in mind World of Warcraft is 10 years old and in those ten years peoples’ lives have changed. The free time we once had ten years ago as teens and young adults seems to have disappeared in the blink of an eye. As a heroic raider, full-time student, and part-time employee it was hard to put in four hours twice a week for raiding. I couldn’t imagine spending two to three weeks day-in-day-out grinding for hours on end while juggling life’s responsibilities. The stress to achieve these high standards for only a hobby can and have worn players down. When people get tired, stressed, and frustrated they tend to fight among one another no matter how long they’ve been together. Some want to achieve WoW immortality by being the world’s first to down a new raid while others simply want to down the boss at their own pace and return to daily life. This disconnect between members lead to their ultimate downfalls as guilds. This new-found animosity towards each other and the lack of joy they once received can be traced back to the slow death and decay of World of Warcraft as a game.

Many will argue which expansion was the best, some will say vanilla WoW, others argue Burning Crusade, and some claim Wrath of the Lich King was the best. Even though we all might disagree which one was the best a vast majority will agree that the game began its downward trend during Cataclysm. Personally, I started during Burning Crusade as a 13 year old kid wide eyed and not a clue as what to do. As I got older and understood the game more I realized how boring Cataclysm was. Sure, it brought a new zone and it altered the world of Azeroth, but something just didn’t feel right. I disliked the story and the game felt like it was forced. It was an an awkward transition stage of World of Warcraft, but we weren’t sure for better or for worse. Ever since then it seems like Blizzard has been back pedaling in an attempt to recapture the glory days of WoW. Every expansion has had an atmosphere of hype surrounding it about how this is the one! This is the expansion that’ll bring me back to the vanilla days! or the BC days! or the WoTLK days! They have all fallen flat. The new expansions are exciting for a few months because 3+ million people re-subscribe to play the new content and discover the new world together. But what about when the new leveling content is stale with nothing to keep us coming back for more? And why even level when we can just pay $60 for a character 10 levels shy of max level? The new patches add new PvP gear and a raid, but it feels like no love went into it, no care for how we will play this with our friends and our guilds. It just feels like another thing to do, another way to keep people from leaving, another way to keep the money rolling in. We don’t leave because we love the content. We don’t leave because we think, “If I leave, all of this time and effort will be for nothing, because in a few months new gear will come out and I’ll be behind again.” In addition, Looking For Raid (LFR) has made raiding casual and the raids themselves have followed suit. It seems to just be some more fire and a few more shiny objects being thrown at you rather than Blizzard adding new and interesting mechanics that we loved so much.

A bunch of character posing for the Vodka guild homepage shot.

This combination of stale game play and the players getting older are the reasons behind these top raiding guilds leaving the scene. We can’t expect them to stick around and spend countless hours on something they don’t find enjoyable anymore. As we get older we realize that there are more things to do outside of the world of Azeroth, and that all of those hours wasted doing something we don’t love anymore is time we could have spent with friends, family, or doing something else we enjoy. Although it appears that the scene is dying, it is just trading some old faces for a few new ones. Guilds like Serenity look to band together hardcore raiders from these guilds and achieve world first glory. Other guilds will look to add the more casual raiders from these top guilds to their ranks and use their knowledge and experience to propel them to heights they never thought possible. So don’t lose hope just yet!

Vodka, Paragon, and Blood Legion thank you for inspiring people like myself to raid and be apart of such an amazing community. You all will be greatly missed.

 

All screenshots and images from World of Warcraft are copyright of Blizzard Entertainment.

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