I'm going to say something that I never thought I would say. Ready? Here it goes:
I had a lot of fun in Dragon Soul last night.
Up until a couple months ago, I had been in the same guild since 3.1's release. Throughout Ulduar, ToC, the full year we spent in ICC, into T11 and Firelands, I'd gotten used to hearing a lot of the same people in Vent every week making the same old jokes and ignoring the same old rants. It was fun, though. We were friends enjoying the game together and, though we were rarely in a position of competing for server first kills and never finished content before it was replaced, we progressed well and had good times in the process.
However, real life does things to social circles that cannot be avoided. Our Paladin MT had to take several months off for hockey season (he plays for a Farm team in North Carolina), our GM and Raid Leader got a new job and couldn't make the raid times anymore, our Holy Paladin joined the Air Force and was shipped off to Japan, people server transferred, left the game and otherwise came and went. Eventually, the guild that I been with for so long had become unrecognizable from the one I had joined back in 2009 and I found myself raiding with one or two fiends and a whole bunch of people that I didn't know or didn't like. A few days after our first kill of Heroic Blackhorn, I looked ahead to Heroic Spine and Madness progression and realized that I just didn't want to raid with those people anymore. As a result, over the previous months the game had slowly become less enjoyable. Six hours after this epiphany, my Blood Elf had become a Human and I had moved over to a new server for a fresh start.
Since my transfer, I've mostly been playing the solo game and spending my time farming achievements, mounts, transmog gear or finishing up rep grinds that I've been putting off since Wrath of the Lich King. It's been three months since I left my old server and, while the time off was nice, I was itching to kill something large and ugly that drops purples again.
Let me tell you, finding a late night, Hard Mode raiding guild that needs a Warlock this late in the expansion . . . SUUUUUUUUCCCKKS. Not only is the time slot pretty niche, but everyone wants Shadow Priests, Mages, Boomkins and healers right now. Middle-of-the-pack Warlocks just aren't appealing to raid leaders trying to progress, especially since we are a dying breed known for having to press 3 times as many buttons to do the same damage as the 2 or 3 button specs.
It took a long time, but I finally found a group to raid with again and after our first time in DS as a guild last night, I was reminded how important it is to play with people you enjoy being around. We wiped (a lot) but, even though several of these guys have been 8/8H on other characters for months, there was no raging and or attitude. We adjusted strategies and communicated openly. We gave tips for the people who'd never seen Hagara's lightning phase and didn't berate them for being "fail". We wiped fast and didn't waste time, but we did so while joking in Mumble and making fun of the Paladin's router. Some of us are undergeared but still performed admirably. We learned from our mistakes and didn't repeatedly wipe to dumb stuff. I've never liked Dragon Soul as an instance and often dread walking through the entrance, but I actually found myself ENJOYING Heroic Zonozz (I've always hated that fight) and being EXCITED to see Hagara's ice phase.
To be honest, the entire experience brought me back to the days at the end of ICC. Competent people doing challenging content and having fun at the same time. It just doesn't get any better than that.
People are the key
I've said this a million times before but over time I'd stopped following my own advice: It's better to do outdated content with friends than it is to be on the bleeding edge of progression with people you can’t stand. Blizzard can give us an entire tier of Firefighters, Sinestras and Kil’Jaedens that completely overshadows everything that has come before, but without good people . . . it's just not fun. Good people make for good times. And that’s coming from someone who is almost pathologically introverted.