In the spirit of getting this party started, I thought I’d post on one of Blog Azeroth’s shared topics: How will Cataclysm change your game*?

Like many others, I’m eagerly awaiting the Cataclysm expansion. I admit, I sat in front of my computer monitor during the BlizzCon DirecTV stream, hanging on Chris Metzen’s words during the opening ceremony, waiting for the announcement we were all waiting for. Right, so now you know what a geek I really am.

I’m excited for a lot of different things in Cataclysm: new races, revamped zones, Archeology, broader talent trees… all of it! But honestly, how can I predict how it will change my game? This question really made me consider the past more than the future. My game has already changed significantly since I started playing WoW, and I couldn’t have predicted any of it.

I started playing WoW several months after launch. New to MMOs, I didn’t really have a good understanding of the social aspects of the game. I’d played plenty of video games, particularly Civilization and the Warcraft series, but mainly in single player mode. I was unskilled against other players, and getting my butt handed to me on the regular did not seem an especially good time to me. I preferred a casual, low-pressure style of gaming.

Which is exactly why I played WoW as a solo questing game during Classic WoW (aka “Vanilla”) and most of Burning Crusade. To me, the leveling process was the game. I ran few dungeons, since groups were often hard to pull together and the instances seemed to take a lot of time. I had a husband and two children, any of whom might call me away from the computer at anytime, so my solo play style also suited my real life schedule.

Things began to change for me not long before the release of Wrath. My casual social guild on Sen’jin was increasingly involved in raiding, something I knew nothing about. They were spending lots of nights in Karazhan, and I got curious about this raiding business. For the first time, I educated myself about my class, the best ways to spec, what rotations to use, and how to get better gear.

Then Wrath dropped, and I never did get into Kara. Everyone wanted to run the new Wrath instances, so off I went, learning how to play as part of a group. I wasn’t part of our progression team in Naxx, but I did get in some occasional runs and had a blast. I got hooked on raiding,  and when it became clear that I was not on our raid leader’s usual pick list, I left my longtime guild to find one where I could be a part of a regular raid team. My game had definitely changed.

My search for a new guild took me to a large guild on another server, where there were plenty of folks running all levels of content. There were several 10- and 25-person raid teams, but none fit my schedule. I did a few pickup runs, but I still wanted a regular team. Finally, I decided to see if anyone else was in the same boat, and I started my own 10-man team. I’d planned to raid on my rogue, but we needed a second regular healer, so I started bringing my priest. I was a little nervous about raid healing, but I had such a great time that the rogue hasn’t seen a raid since. I dropped shadow and picked up discipline as my second spec. All heals, all the time, baby.

That was another serious game changer for me. As a rogue, soloing was easy. I could play as part of a group, but solo play was seldom a problem. Healing, on the other hand, is inherently a group style of play. Standing around healing yourself is not that much fun; you need others to play with. I can certainly get through my dailies in Disc spec, but the real fun only comes if I’m running with a group.

From dps to healer, from casual solo player to raid leader, it’s been a lot of fun discovering this game over the years. And now, here comes Cataclysm. I plan to level both Sindie and Ginger to 85, and I plan to level a goblin to at least 60 to experience the changes in the Old World. Those things aren’t really changes in my game play, though; I expect to continue doing just what I do now, more or less. But I never could have predicted the ways my game play has changed over the course of my game, so who knows? I can’t say how Cataclysm will change my game. I can only say that I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.

*edited to add that this Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Rilandune of Heroically Random!