(Disclaimer: This will be a long post. Iâ€™ll try to remember to include a TL;DR at the end for you lazy types.)
Itâ€™s amazing how things change.
Six years ago, I was playing City of Heroes and taking a breather from EverQuest when I was approached by a buddy of mine who had been invited into the beta for World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2. He asked if I had beta invites to either, and I said that I hadnâ€™t, but was eager to hear any news on the new games, as EverQuest had gotten stale and the grind was just insufferable. He provided download links for both clients and his login information, and said, â€śTry them out. See what you think.â€ť
I was familiar with the Warcraft franchise, and was interested to see what a new MMO under their expertise would offer. However, I first went to EverQuest 2 to see what the new game would be like. The lore behind the game was fascinating â€“ a Norrath completely devoid of divine influences, having been abandoned by the gods? I dove into the game eagerly, marveling at the new graphics and relearning the basics of the game in the tutorial.
In one of the late quests of the tutorial, I was instructed to battle some skeletons on the outskirts of a village, and return with several bone fragments. I rushed into battle, sword swinging, and I heardâ€¦
â€¦the exact same laugh that EverQuest used for their skeletons.
I never even finished the fight. I closed the game, and never returned to Norrath. Logging on to the World of Warcraft client, I started a character. Opting to take a different route than my EverQuest norms, I created a rogue: a night elf, named Teachdaire, after one of my oldest MUD characters on a realm called Astaria. Teachdaire was level 8 before I decided that I didnâ€™t like the combat system for rogues. Logging out, I deleted Teachdaire and created Velara, a warlock.
Velara survived to level 25 or so in the beta before the actual game was released. I picked up my copy at the midnight release (still kicking myself for not getting the collectorâ€™s edition, but oh well), rushed home, installed the game, and a few hours later found myself on the Whisperwind server with many EQ friends. Whisperwind, however, was literally plagued with crashes and server issues, and three days after the servers opening (many of us were already level 20+), we completely abandoned Whisperwind and started over fresh on Aggramar, where Order of the Raven was born.
Velara was the Queen of DoTs through Molten Core and later, Blackwing Lair. She even had her day of tanking in Nefarianâ€™s room. She was fun in PVP, but her abilities in PVE were disappointing, to say the least. Rarely was I able to do damage â€“ I was providing Curse of Elements or Curse of Weakness, spending all my time replenishing soul shards to give out healthstones and soulstones (being the sole warlock for most raid content was tiring). I went on vacation, returning to find that the guild had recruited two new warlocks, and so I decided to try a Paladin. Leyl was born, and was on the fast track to level 60. In those days, Retribution was a really broken leveling spec, but the drawback to Paladins was that once they hit 60, they werenâ€™t good for anything but healing. On the one hand, while I wanted to be smacking bosses with a giant two-hander, being a healer kept me in the background in relative safety, and was surprisingly enjoyable.
Leyl and Velara left Order of the Raven due to a few philosophical differences between me and the guildleader (the same guy who gave me access to the beta in the first place), and found a new home in Purgatory with a few other OtR expatriates and friends. I remained a healer, and was knocking on the doors of Ahnâ€™Qiraj when Burning Crusade came.
By then, many of my old friends from EverQuest (and City of Heroes) made their way to Azeroth by this time, and I departed from Purgatory to join Fateâ€™s Legacy. Near the time that Black Temple was released, Lelissa was born, and indirectly, Malyss (who would not be created until Wrath). Lelissa literally took over, and came to life on her own through the end of Burning Crusade and through Wrath of the Lich King. By the time we were less than halfway through Naxxramas, my concern for the Arms mechanics, as well as the disappointing sets geared toward Fury Warriors rather than Arms, caused me to put Lelissa aside in favor of another melee DPS class â€“ the Death Knight. Unholy at first, graduating to Blood toward level 80, Malyss became a dark force to be reckoned with, competing with rogues for the top DPS slot even in lower level gear.
I despaired of Lelissa ever catching up to the juggernaut that was the Death Knightâ€¦ and then along came Cataclysm. Itâ€™s strange to be Arms and competing at the top of the meter. Finally, it seems as though all DPS is in a good place â€“ everyone is very competitive, and Arms is no longer the â€śgimmickâ€ť spec for Warriors.
Sadly, that leaves me in a place where I feel that I no longer have anything to blog about. For Burning Crusade, my goal was to prove that Arms was just as effective as Fury, and that it was an enjoyable spec with many utilities. In Wrath, my goal was the same, unfortunately mechanics and lack of appropriately scaled abilities defeated me soundly on that end. Here we are now in Cataclysm, and Arms is â€śin,â€ť even having guides and recommendations on Elitist Jerks. My work here is done, and I donâ€™t feel that I was really able to do anything.
Thereâ€™s also the question of the validity of my role as an â€śArms expert.â€ť Everything that I have ever done with the class has been the result of my testing. Zero outside influences. I have spent piles of gold on respecs and regemming, countless hours at test dummies to find the best possible priority, gone through stacks of notepads and a paycheckâ€™s worth of mechanical pencil lead. At the end of the day? Hard, cold data. Solid proof that what I have done works, and works well. Yet, the question I still receive often is, â€śwell, if youâ€™re so sure youâ€™re right about this, why didnâ€™t you post the information to Elitist Jerks so that we could find all this information in one location?â€ť
The simple answer is that I donâ€™t want to. EJ prides itself on having raw numbers, mathematical ratios as to whatâ€™s best and what isnâ€™t, and I canâ€™t do that. Iâ€™m not as mathematically inclined as I was when I was a teenager, and I doubt I could ever get back to that again.
In terms of the game, I still donâ€™t have much to write about. I could say how Iâ€™ve switched back to a PVP server and left my dreams of running a successful 10-man guild behind with the dead shell of Hilarity Ensues. I could say how Iâ€™m running headlong into bosses once again with Amber and the rest of the Stands in Bad crew, and how well weâ€™re doing. I could say all these things, but itâ€™s truly hubris to think anyone cares, and itâ€™s not really what I want to write, so weeks go by without posts.
I had always thought that I was writing this blog for myself. After a lot of soul searching, I now realize that this was never true. Originally, this started out as a blog for my guild, then it was a tool for the Arms community (what little of it there was). Occasionally I wrote about what I wanted to write about, but most of the time, posts just wasted away in the drafts page because I was concerned that my audience wouldnâ€™t care.
So Iâ€™m going in a new direction. Iâ€™m going to take an extended break from posting, and I will return in May. I plan on documenting a D&D game that I am running for a few friends, and will be writing more fiction. I might talk Warcraft and Warriors on occasion, but it is sadly no longer my focus. Yes, this unfortunately also means that the guides are done. Theyâ€™re not what I want to write.
(TL;DR version: Pixelated Executioner will not be a focused Arms Warrior blog anymore. If you donâ€™t like it, youâ€™ll have to unsubscribe â€“ my work here is done.)
Itâ€™s been a great run, a good deal of fun, and occasionally a bit of a hassle, but I wouldnâ€™t change it for the world.
See you guys in May.