My name is Dylan Sabin, and I am here to write things about video games.
I'm a contributing author over at No Worries Gaming (www.noworriesgaming.com), and in addition to the many articles and reviews I've posted over there, I'm involved with the weekly podcast "No Worries Weekly"! It's a nice little 50-60 minute show that gets down to some rousing discussion about different topics that pop up in the industry.
I like to write, read, sing and act; I'm a bit of a gamer as well, although I will say I much prefer PC gaming over the console equivalents. I don't think Microsoft is utilizing Kinect as much as they should and I'm pretty sure Sony is doing the same with Move.
In my post-introduction introduction, I made a note of the fact that I play a Protection Warrior named Toast. I also happen to be the leader of a guild on the US-Dragonblight server; we celebrated our 3rd anniversary today, which is kind of a big deal for us. Think of this and the next few posts as a semi-retrospective on my guild. If nothing else, it might be an interesting read.
Disclaimer: Long post ahead. You've been warned.
<with Pancakes> was formed on accident, in a way. To be fair, our original anniversary was a few days earlier, when we were known by the rather unsavory moniker of <Hookers with Pancakes>. I had just returned to the bustling world of Azeroth (During the Burning Crusade it was still bustling, not so compartmentalized with the Dungeon Finder and other strange "innovations") after a several-month break. After cultivating a sense of burnout largely fueled by getting placed on the waiting list raid after raid in (at the time) the top Horde guild on the server, I found myself out of that guild and in a state of predicament upon my return. I shuffled around in a few of the various raiding guilds that there were at the time, but none of them really felt like the place for me.
A few friends of mine that I had known since our early Vanilla days were still playing, thankfully. One in particular, a Tauren Shaman named Jotaro, had also found himself out of a guild recently, due to many different reasons I don't feel like mentioning here. I casually said, "Hey, let's make a raiding guild!" And we did just that.
After the hours-long deliberation on what our name would be, we settled on <Hookers with Pancakes>, and on March 18th of 2008 we had our very own guild. The first two weeks or so were fairly slow; forums were set up, applications were filed, and we started to build up our initial core of players. Our name was reported 6 days later, and we decided to just drop what was found offensive, thereby becoming <with Pancakes>.
People we knew from Vanilla, new players that were just getting into the raiding experience, veteran raiders from other guilds that wanted a new change of scenery; we had a solid group built up only a few weeks later, but not enough to fully field raids on our own. We were determined to not let that stop us. A few mutual friends of Jotaro and I were hanging around and looking for something to do, so we dragged them along with us. Our first recorded kill as a guild was on April 7th, less than a month after our origin. We had taken great pains that night to ensure that we would be able to raid, and this came with a price: we entered into a sort of alliance with the guild that our friends were members of, and from there we set out conquering content at a much more rapid pace than if we had tried to strike it alone.
This alliance worked well for a while: we made strong strides into Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Caverns, clearing all but a few of the challenges presented in that tier. Unfortunately for us, tensions were rising between the two guilds. A series of increasingly confusing and aggravating arguments pushed the uneasy friendship between <with Pancakes> and <Meow> to its breaking point, and we were nearly forced to dissolve the alliance. It was a decision made rather unwillingly, as losing the 7-8 raiders that they had provided meant we were largely unable to raid.
Stagnation struck <wP> for the first time in its history. People stopped logging on for raids they knew weren't going to start. The officers grew increasingly restless. Dragonblight's only breakfast-centric guild was looking at potential death, not even a year after we had signed the charter. I took a brief hiatus from the guild entirely, choosing to spend a short amount of time in a further-progressed guild. Looking back on it, it was a rather shoddy decision and a terrible example of what a guild leader should do in a time of crisis; but at the time, it was either upgrade or quit playing, and I had no intention of leaving the World of Warcraft just yet.
Fast forward a few months and <wP>'s roster had been bolstered. I found little to no actual raiding time in the guild I had joined (Funny how that works out...), and decided that it was time to return to the people that knew me. I was welcomed back with open arms. I feel truly humbled by the fact that, after intentionally abandoning my guild for the promise of more raids, they had no qualms or worries about letting me take the reins once again.
We entered T6 content (this was now a week or two into the 30% "end of BC" content nerf) with a new roster and found a surprising amount of cohesion in the players we had. It was immensely satisfying to not only see the guild working together, but succeeding at what we were doing. Sure, the content had been nerfed to hell and back: we didn't care. We were enjoying the raids as a guild, and that's what mattered to us. All in all, we managed to push up through Gurtogg Bloodboil in a few weeks before the Wrath of the Lich King crept into the hearts of the populace.
Wrath was an interesting time to be raiding. With the announcement that raids would have both a 10 and 25-man option, <wP> decided to capitalize on this as much as we could: we could have 10-mans that raided on separate nights, and then have a 25-man on our regular schedule that combined the efforts of both groups to push us even further towards success! Many of the officers looked at this as a bold opportunity for us to succeed and make a name for ourselves on the server. With a 25-man raiding roster, this proved a bit more challenging than we expected.
While the group I led, "Toast's Pancakes Squad" (TPS for short, and that was generally what we called ourselves), crushed content left and right and cleared everything the 10-mans had to offer in just over a month, the second group (which to be honest, I don't remember the name of) was under almost constant fire from some sort of quandary or attendance issue. A dichotomy between the two groups was noticed almost immediately and the officers that weren't involved with TPS attempted (rather sucessfully) to shatter the successful raid composition we had. The group never really reached that peak of synergy again, even in future incarnations.
3.0 came and went, and with its passing we arrived at the end of our first year as a guild. Even looking back on it now, a lot happened in that first year. There was a decent stretch where I wasn't sure if we were going to survive. Our first anniversary was celebrated in grand fashion in Dalaran, with kegs of wine and an oversized mammoth straddled by Jotaro himself. To close out this initial post, I'll share the video Nihilistic (our cantankerous raid leader) recorded of the event: a massive race from Falconwing Square just outside of Silvermoon to a boat off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale...on level 1, naked Blood Elves.