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What does progression mean to you?

Anne Stickney

I've been pondering the question of what progression really means a lot over the past couple of weeks. Big Bear Butt mentioned it in a blog post last week, and talked about how the word is defined depending on who you are and what you're doing in game. Whenever I hear the word progression in reference to WoW, I immediately turn to raiding -- but is that the only place that it really applies?

And even if you're a raider, it's not as cut-and-dry a meaning as you'd think. My current guild is a progression raid guild. But we aren't bleeding-edge and we don't push ourselves like it's a second job. My first raid guild was also a progression guild, but it was definitely far more hardcore, with six nights a week spent raiding our hearts out and trying to get those coveted server firsts. Is there really a difference between the two? It certainly felt like it -- but both guilds were focused on progression, so maybe there wasn't quite as much a difference as I'd like to think.

But Big Bear Butt really does have a point in his post. For some, progression simply means getting a little farther than you did before. For some, it means defeating something you haven't defeated before. Big Bear Butt talked about how even within his raid, there were some players that were perfectly happy with the progress they'd made that evening, and others who weren't -- all due to people's different ideas of the word progression.

What does progression mean to you
I think, once upon a time in vanilla, my guild considered something progression if and only if we were killing things we hadn't killed before. Farm bosses didn't really count, it was the new bosses that concerned us. And while we were never server first on any of those bosses -- that was something the leading Alliance guild always beat us out on -- we still did our best to make sure we were on top of the Horde side of the server by as wide a margin as possible. It was incredibly important to everyone in the guild that we keep that spot.

Why was it so important? Man, I wish I knew. That's one of the things that I've been trying to figure out over the last week while I tried to answer the question posed by Big Bear Butt. As it was, over that short period WoW became almost a second full-time job, and it nearly burnt me out for good. I wasn't the only one that felt that way -- eventually the guild split up. I ended up taking a break for a couple of months before coming back and rolling an alt with no real purpose in mind.

When the option to raid again came up in Burning Crusade, I decided to take it. Partially because the guild in question only raided three nights a week, and only a few hours a night -- which made it much less of a second job and more like the fun activity I wanted it to be. But mostly it had to do, I think, with what eventually turned into my definition of progression, as weird and convoluted as that answer may be.

What does progression mean to you
That question didn't really answer itself until last night. My guild, which was on the verge of falling apart not more than a couple of weeks ago, pulled it back together again. We made a new guild (currently level 19 and growing), got everything sorted out, and started right back in with raiding again. This week, we decided to try going back to that last progression boss we were working on before the former guild crumbled. And after a few attempts and wipes, we killed heroic Lei Shi. Not only did we kill it, not a single person was dead when she died.

It's not about the kill, or the server standing, how we stack up to other guilds in the U.S. or even the world. For me, progression is that weird, perfect moment where 25 people have that odd little click. That satisfying moment where everything just slides into place like clockwork, everyone does what they have to do at the exact moment it needs to be done and the whole encounter slides in place and unlocks like an intricate puzzle with a loot chest at the end.

And when I look back on the bosses I really enjoyed doing over the years, they all had that moment. Razorgore the Untamed, Nefarian, Archimonde, Illidan, Mimiron, Yogg-Saron, the Lich King -- the list goes on. They were all bosses that took a little while to learn, but once you mastered what to do and when to do it, they unraveled like a loose thread on a sweater, and it was kind of beautiful to watch in a really weird way.

Sure, my guild didn't clear everything on heroic in T14. But we really didn't have to, to make me happy -- as long as we're working on these intricate puzzles and sorting them out, I'm perfectly content. For me, progression did ultimately end up about raiding, but I'm kind of curious how everyone else feels, because this question took so long for me to answer. What does progression mean to you? Is it a part of raiding? Is it just something personal involving your character's feats? Does it involve racking up achievements, or collecting various odds and ends around Azeroth? Chime in in the comments and let us know.

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