The accordion game

Back in the day — you know this is going to be an Old Fart piece when it starts out like that, consider yourselves warned — when I was a soldier, most normal days started out with everyone gathering in the dark pre-dawn hours to do PT (physical training). By-the-numbers calisthenics were always followed by a formation run of from 2-5 miles. Usually these were pretty routine, involving a company-size unit (60-100 people), but on special occasions (payday, the Army birthday, whatever) we would have a battalion or brigade or even division run, with hundreds maybe even thousands of people. In formation. Double time left-right-left-right thundering down the street. Singing Jody calls at the tops of our lungs. With prescribed-by-regulation distances between parts of the formation.

At any rate, as the run progressed the prescribed distances would invariably get way out of whack. The huge body of soldiers began to oscillate back and forth — tightly compressed, then greatly stretched out, then compressed, then stretched, etc., with the oscillations getting progressively wilder. This was known as the accordion effect. The slightest variation in pace at the front of the formation was magnified 10 or 100 fold by the time it got to the back. If you happened to be assigned a position near the back of the formation, you would one minute be slowly shuffling, then sprinting, then double timing in place, then sprinting again, and so forth. It was horrible, because there was no possibility of getting into the kind of rhythm that made the miles melt away, but on the other hand it provided a certain fringe-y freedom from regimentation.

What does this have to do with WoW you may ask. Well, it occurred to me over the weekend that my experience with WoW has always been similar to running near the back of the PT formation. The people up front are the elite hardcores, the people at the tail end of the formation are the most casual of casual gamers. I am not at the tail end, but I am definitely towards the back.

When a new expansion goes live, the people in front pretty much have their course and pace laid out for them. They will have gotten a running start with the beta, they will level up very efficiently, will know how best to acquire expansion-appropriate gear, will have a plan to progress steadily through the raid tiers. When they are done, they will move into farm and alt mode or take a break until the next expansion.

But those of us in the back have a much more start-and-stop or shuffle-and-sprint experience. Some of this is a reflection or amplification of what happens up front, and some of it is just a function of life’s realities as well as our own approach to the game. (An example of how it may be an amplification of the pace up front is when there is a certain boss that stymies even the hardcores for a long time. Think Horridon or Ragnaros. By the time some raid teams further back in the formation get to such a boss, it becomes almost insurmountable for them, resulting in massive personnel turnover, cessation of raiding, skipping until a nerf comes in, or possibly even demise of a guild.)

The reason I was comparing my game experience to the accordion effect is that I spent most of the weekend madly running Timewalking dungeons and LFR clears on a couple of my alts. Not only was I trying to accumulate valor on them, but I was also really working to get more proficient with them. TW dungeons are an excellent way to practice, in my opinion, because class and spec mechanics actually count to a certain degree. Additionally, I was running them with a guild group that included our top masters for the alt specs I was on (balance druid  and destro lock), and they were very generous with their advice and help.

So, even though for about 9 months I was marking time and shuffling along, over the weekend I was in an alt sprint mode. I also feel I have been in a bit of sprint mode with my main, running weekly raids with my guild and furiously working on valor to upgrade my gear and ring. I now have three pieces of tier gear, and it seems possible I might actually get a full set if I have even mediocre luck. That would be the first time in three expansions that I would have a full set, not to mention I am chomping at the bit to see how the 4-piece affects my MM play style.

The fear now creeping into my brain is that Legion events might soon begin to move very quickly. Given that the movie comes out in June, that Blizz is introducing tie-ins with WoW and the movie and some of their other games, and that there are semi-believable rumors that the wider Legion beta will soon be out, I am starting to get a bit nervous. My big worry is that Blizz will feel compelled to do the Legion pre-event too early and we will be stuck with all the Legion class changes in a WoD world for several months. This is not a cheery thought for me.

Excuse me, the formation is way ahead of me, I have to run fast to catch up.


About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

5 Responses to The accordion game

  1. arnoldBMhunter says:

    Well before “Legion” comes out i will have a full list on gear and professions to get/do for 3 alts. But my BM hunter go first and he will do all the stuff for the flying part (somwere in the next patch).
    the movie will comes out here at 26 May Netherlands. and on a webpage they say 30 June the game ( so lets say the game will come out in June-July then i think the new Talent built will be live at +/- April-May. For now i do HFC heroic and Hunter only raids+ also do the Timewalking dungeons for toys and mounts. + older raids for mounts drops and achievements. I got the 710 full pvp gear so when i got time i do that to but, also i got other games Starwars TOR, Fallout 4, Division. so plenty to do and so less time 🙂

    By the way do we get more stable room for the new pets? i dont want to delete them.
    greethings ArnoldBMhunter Netherlands.

    • Fiannor says:

      Sounds like you are really keeping your game time filled. 😃

      I am not in the alpha test, so I don’t know about the stable, but I have not read anything that says it will be larger in Legion. If I had to bet, I would bet that we will not get more slots. You could try tweeting @WarcraftDevs with the question and see if you get a response — ??

      • ArnoldBMHunter says:

        Hi thanks for the info and i have sent a tweet to them (aks for more stable room for Legion pets) if they respons i let u know. Happy hunting 😊

  2. Ha! The Accordion Effect applies to many aspects of life, though I heard it first here. Great story.
    I’ve been happily dumping my stacked mats into crafted gear for my Alts. I very much look forward to the pre-expansion patch when we can test drive your classes with their new spells. That will be when I decided which spec to follow into the expansion.
    By the way, which bloggers are reporting on the Alpha? I feel like I’m the last in line!

  3. Fiannor says:

    I mainly read Bendak at Eyes of the Beast, Delirium at The Thrill of the Wild, Sar at, and occasionally Jade at They all write about their take on hunters in the alpha. Pherian at Alt:ernative Chat has written a bit mainly about professions in alpha. And I also read the Blizz Legion class feedback forums.

    You are right about the accordion effect being applicable to lots of things — I think it is even part of routing theory for traffic, trains, airline scheduling, and lots of other disciplines.

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