Once upon a time in a land far far away, a little Draenei shaman was born. Her ebony skin glistened in the sunlight of Azuremyst, her blue hair fluttered behind her as she trotted along, gleefully smacking moths with her mace. It was the beginning of a many year grind, one that would engulf this little shaman's life whether she new it or not.
You see, I began as most MMORPG noobs tend to do. I had a spirit ring here, an agility mace there, a strength shield strapped to my back and the notion that the world was my playground. I valued gear by how much armor it had, had no clue how to earn a copper (the discovery of the auction house was a trip), and really didn't know how to go about leveling efficiently. Needless to say, times have changed my friends.
Throughout the Burning Crusade I remained more or less blissfully unaware of the heroic dungeon grind, and while I did on occasion do my Shattered Sun dailies, I never fully grasped or embraced the typical "OMG I need to get my dailies done!" mentality. I made a few sad attempts to work the auction house, mainly by trying to sell greens for what I'm sure were absurd prices (greens were my epics until I capped and learned what a real epic looked like), but outside of that I didn't feel a huge need for gold besides getting enough for my riding/flying training and a mount to go along with each upgrade. I knew nothing of grinding - be it for gear, reputation, or gold - outside of logging in daily to Ironforge only to while away my time trying to force myself to go out in the world and level.
Skip ahead many, many months. Wrath of the Lich King has launched and little Saz has somehow made it to level 80 in under a month (the trek from 1-70 took over 8 months total). She was introduced first to Naxxramas (yes, my first badge of the expansion was earned in a raid, not a heroic) and soon after was dragged through many heroics. In Burning Crusade heroics were a foreign creature, something to only be ran when one needed her Alchemy specialization. In Wrath? It was a way of life. Get together with guild mates, fly to dungeon A, work way around continent to dungeon Z. We did the heroic grind because that's what you did to help your guild gear up if you wanted to down more than just one little boss in Naxxramas. Dailies were still a foreign concept to me up until Trial of the Crusader came along with its Argent Tournament, though I did become rather religious about getting my cooking and fishing dailies done (the Salty obsession began here). During this time I became hooked on the grind. I began my raiding frenzy, started leveling up my druid (she was still semi old school...we still didn't have LFD and she only had the BoA shoulders since nothing else existed) which eventually led to an army of alts, and began my mount obsession. I learned that reputations are actually useful for something, aka mounts, and began to grind those out. I farmed for Baron's mount for weeks. Outside of raiding, the only time I was fully happy was when I was running in circles driving myself batshit insane over some reputation to get a new mount or what have you.
Skip ahead to present day.
To date I have only done Baradin Hold twice. Earlier this week I stepped into Bastion of Twilight for the first time and have yet to see Cho'gall. Raiding hardcore four times or more a week no longer happens, heroics are only completed when I feel like it (rarely), and the grind to find new recruits to fill the ranks of my guild is no more. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a lot of time on my hands now. A lot of time to do non-social grinds.
To someone such as myself - a severe lagger, an introvert, someone who sometimes can be horribly socially awkward - this is both a blessing and a curse. You see, I love me a good grind. As I said just a bit ago, I have always been happiest when running in circles driving myself mad at meeting some absurd goal. However, I am currently unhappy. Frustratingly unhappy.
For starters I came into Cataclysm late due to a myriad of reasons, thus putting myself months behind on the reputation grind. I've had to play catch up on getting all of my basic faction reputations up to exalted, and while doing so 4.2 has launched while this process has remained incomplete. I'm capping my dailies almost daily on my shaman, and I feel as if though I am making no headway. I'm still doing my Argent Tournament dailies in attempts to collect the last two mounts I'm missing and I hope to acquire the Argent Pony Bridle for the achievement. I've been doing my city cooking/fishing dailies in Stormwind/Ironforge/Darnassus in attempts of finishing off those achievements + collecting the last of the vendor cooking recipes. I've been doing that damn bird jousting daily out in Mount Hyjal to get me that second bird pet. After I'm done with that I head over and do my Molten Front dailies (I still have yet to open up one of the factions, thus I don't have all the dailies open yet >.<) despite the massive lag that comes with the zone. When all is said and done, I have only six dailies left to complete, so I do six of the twelve Tol Barad dailies since I'm still missing the horse mount. I feel as if I am making no headway through dailies. It's like trying to progress through quicksand. Don't get me wrong, I see the need for gated content for the longevity of the game and in keeping the long time players actively doing something, but for someone such as myself who is late to the game? It's overwhelming.
Did I mention I've been working on Archeology, running Molten Core on my shaman as well as on my druid if I think of it, while trying to figure out a way to wiggle into other older raids for rep? Yeah...
Ladies and gents, I am drowning in the grind.
Some could say "Well, you don't HAVE to do all your dailies or dig or run old raids." and they would be right, I don't have to. The fact of the matter is though, since I don't raid or role play or run a guild, what else is there to do? Level another alt? Well, even as easy as it is these days that in itself is still a grind. I'm already up to four level 85s, I have a hunter primed to make the five level jump to cap, and I've been working on a holy paladin. Honestly though, I want some personal progression for my shaman right now, and it seems the only way to do that is of course the anti-social grind.
Now, this is an MMORPG. I am fully aware that World of Warcraft is built on the grind and that without it, this game would have died many, many years ago. The reason behind this post is simply to express my frustration over the feeling of being overwhelmed by the grind presented in this expansion. I'm sure that the grinds presented in Cataclysm are a far cry from the horrific (albeit epic) quest lines of Vanilla WoW, they are by far much more mind numbing experience than some of the ones I recall from Wrath (recall that I was mostly oblivious to most of the attunement quests of Burning Crusade...I returned to that zone at 80 and did many of the key quests, but they were a far cry from the difficulty they were at level). I feel as if though I've been doing the daily grind so much and so thoroughly lately that I'm just...numb and unengaged.
Yes, numb and unengaged.
A year and a half ago I was able to fully submerse myself into WoW and the various activities it offered. I didn't mind the heroic dungeon grind because you could queue up all day long and get several dungeons completed and snag yourself a few pieces of gear in a day or two. Now queues are 20-30 minutes as a DPS, you spend an hour in one dungeon (less if the group is over geared and know what's going on, rarely the case in a PuG), and it takes forever to reap the reward if you've already manage to snag/craft/purchase 346 or better ilevel gear. If you want to gear up your alts while still keeping your main in the race for Valor Points, you best have copious amounts of free time on hand. I didn't mind the faction grind once they implemented tabards because if you didn't have the reputation, slap on a tabard and get heroic grinding. That hasn't changed much, but to force one's self through heroics or even the quicker regular dungeons just for simple faction reputation is just torture most days. "Just do the dailies" you may suggest. Remember that bit about me capping out on dailies? Yeah, sadly those are no longer an option thanks to the new Molten Front dailies.
I do love that Blizzard is trying to get us to make choices. It can often be frustrating to be pigeon holed into one way of doing things. I have to give them some respect for trying to get out of the "this is how things must be done" way of working things. On the opposite side of the coin though it almost seems to be a bit much. Sometimes it's fun to have a bit of wiggle room to go back and finish old reputation dailies, like say Ogri'la (okay, those are NOT fun quests, but I do need to get to them soon if I ever want to hit 50 exalted reputations). Grinding Argent Tournament dailies for a year + while trying to squeeze in every possible Cataclysm dailies in order to catch up from being months behind? Not so much. Blizzard has stated that it will not be raising the daily level cap because they want players to choose what to work on next. I say I don't have anything else going on and I'd choose at this point to potentially do more dailies.
Regardless, I am beginning to see the light through the rats nest of reputation grinds, alt leveling, and I wish I could say gear grinding, but that last point is still a dismal black hole of a time sink. Within a few weeks I should finally be finished with the AT dailies on my shaman, she should be just about finished with the city profession dailies (I'll be at the cooking dailies for a while yet though), and it should only be another week or two of half assed Tol Barad dailies before I get my mount and can be finished with them. I only have one more faction to finish via tabards through dungeons left on my shaman. I should be able to open up my first Molten Front faction within the week and I only have five more days left of bird jousting (if I ever have to look at a jousting stick in Azeroth again, I may have to stab my eyes out). I will get through this grind. I will I will I will! Until that day were I finally work my way out of this not-so-fun-even-for-me-grindy mess though, I shall be in unengaged zombie mode. Frustratingly, unengaged, numb, and bored zombie mode.
I need a way to make it all fresh again. I need a way to pop myself out of this apathetic funk. How do you, dear reader that has somehow made it all the way to the bottom of this post, make the daily grind fresh or at least tolerable for you?