It is done. Ogg Gulnath Tago (my WOW guild) is packing it in for this WOW expansion; our last raid was Tuesday night. For many guilds the last raid is a disaster full of drama, bitterness or failure that catalyzes the disintegration. For us it was instead a moment of clarity and euphoria as we downed Halion in hardmode and declared ourselves done with Wrath of the Lich King. This moment is exactly the one we long for, the promised reward that gets us online 3 times a week like clockwork to mulch through bosses and throw ourselves at new encounters. We have been working on this fight for some weeks now, ignoring everything else in the game to try to get just one more challenging kill in before the end. I must say that this one final raid reminded me so poignantly of exactly why I love to raid - we were constantly improving in tiny ways on a very challenging encounter and we could all feel those incremental improvements adding up. We could all see that very soon we would hold it together just a bit longer and the dragon would finally keel over dead and give up his shiny, shiny loot. The moment of success after a long night of constant improvement is simply sublime.
The Lich King however remains unkilled on hardmode. Only one ten man strict guild in the world defeated him and we are not that guild but we called it quits on a good note regardless since we were the fourth guild in the world to beat Halion hardmode and that is prestige enough to last us. In retrospect I must be very happy with our raiding for this expansion; we defeated every challenge set before us but for one, completed nearly every possible achievement that was available to complete and managed to do so on a modest schedule with flexibility for our members. We aren't the most hardcore of the hardcore but there is no reason to cry foul that only the no lifers can win; they chose to prioritize that victory and we did not. I have no doubt that we had the capacity to defeat the Lich King should we have chosen to throw ourselves at it long enough but we did not make that choice - it would be silly to fault others for doing so.
I am proud of the way we finished things off, play skill entirely aside. Just as with most guilds that cease raiding there were the usual symptoms: People playing other games, people having little motivation, people quitting for one reason or another leaving only a skeleton crew to continue. Thankfully we managed to maintain our composure, dignity and friendships and made the decision to play for 2 more raids to see if we could beat that one challenge that eluded us and yet seemed entirely beatable. I have seen so many guilds explode or disband because people leave, or defect, or quit playing and so often there is a tremendous onslaught of venom and bitterness from those still trying that poisons the whole experience. I have been blessed (in the entirely secular sense, of course!) to be working with a bunch of reasonable adults who play hard but respect other people's need to let real life be ascendant now and again and who feel like getting bent out of shape isn't much of a good idea.
So we are done, for now. We can sleep easy knowing that we have pushed back the darkness, saved the world. Some day soon there will be a new villain that must be overcome but for now our champions rest.