It’s just a fact that raiding normal or heroic raids is a communal activity. When you said “I cleared Heroic ToES before the patch” what you mean is “We cleared Heroic ToES before the patch” because unless you have a Martin Fury in your bags, you didn’t solo it. Progression raiding is always about the group. You don’t accomplish things we do. The same is true for arenas or rated battlegrounds – these bastions of elite PvP are group activities, and your success or failure is shared with others. World of Warcraft is an MMO, after all.
Even LFR or random heroic dungeons or scenarios are group dependent, it’s just that in these cases the groups are assembled for you by the game. You may well queue up for each of these alone, and you may leave and go about your business afterwards just as alone, but the actual raid, dungeon or scenario will have other players in it with you. This is an inescapable, inseparable part of the WoW experience, and it is one of the things I enjoy about the game.
However, as much as I do enjoy group activities, as much as I love raiding and going into a dungeon or raid zone with a group, there are times I just want to be alone. And it is this desire to sometimes play at my own pace, to my own schedule, that has me reconsidering my expansion-long disdain for the daily quest structure of World of Warcraft.
My insomnia is of long standing and has been entwined with World of Warcraft for years now. It used to be that I would run dungeons or PvP in the small hours, but I’ve recently discovered that I absolutely love running daily quests at 2 am or even later because I am alone. There is no one but me and my victims, no one to struggle for quest mobs, no one to annoy me with variations on tedious memes involving legendaries and their bodily orifices, no one at all. Daily quests transmute in this empty world into a lattice of beauty, a misanthropic dream where it’s just me and my thoughts and some weird old quests. Did the mogu make Progenitus from Primordius, or did they start over from scratch? Aren’t the Zandalari aware that they’re being used, and where is Zul if this is their last stand? Even when I see the occasional other questor, we just nod and continue our path across the place, comets streaking through a deserted sky.
For that matter, even the group activities are changed by this magic. The conversations a group is willing, even eager to engage in at 4 am can be surprising and even enlightening. Far fewer of my late night/early morning groups want to complain about the tank pulling too slowly or the healer’s mana or, well, anything. Last night I ran the entire Isle of Thunder, then queued for a heroic and found myself in a Mogu’shan Palace run that spent most of the time debating on whether the mogu themselves built the palace or if the Titans did. My argument was, since the mogu were in fact Titan constructs, they probably made it for the Titans the way similar constructs made Uldaman. It was a fun time even if no one but me was really geared enough to be there and I had to switch to arms to kill the last boss as our DPS wasn’t really surviving on Xin. (By the way, arms ‘tanking’ is still crazy fun.) I even zoned into an LFR that was on Primordius and got an interesting discussion of Simone de Beauvoir and existentialism and how 14 stacks of the wipe buff fit into it.
But for me, it’s the roaming of the nearly empty world that’s the most wondrous of the meridian between night an day. I often fly to parts of the world I don’t see much anymore, places like Loch Modan or Silithus, and just explore their deserted places. I like to solo old raids, of course, being a sucker for transmog gear, but I also just like hanging around Auchindoun or Coilfang Reservoir and looking at the voids where players used to be. I even like seeing currently lively places in their most empty – going to Ironforge at 4 am, or logging on my tauren and exploring Orgrimmar at 5 in the morning. Sometimes it’s the empty times that let me sit and reflect on how amazingly lovely this old girl can still be. One of my best memories in the game is my wife to be (now my wife) and I sitting on the dock at Menethil, waiting for the boat to Theramore and talking as the sun came up. It, too, was an empty time. 

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