Posts tagged ‘Drama’

Do you ever find yourself second-guessing your second guess?

We knew it would happen.

Summer crit our raids.  Between the usual attrition to Real Life™, pre-patch ennui and widespread disinterest in the watered-down endgame, attendance tanked.  Suddenly, instead of attempting the hardmodes and the meta-achievement we desperately wanted to complete before the release of the new tier, we found ourselves 22-manning Ulduar, PuGing from our Friends & Family ranks and flooding the market with BoE epics and abyss crystals.

In a last ditch effort to save the guild from stagnantion, I threw recruitment wide open.  I was determined not only to replace those fairweather raiders I just couldn’t count on, but also to seed a small bench to cover the inevitable weekly absences that are all part and parcel of running a Mostly Casual® guild.

Over the course of the last month, I’ve recruited two warlocks, three mages, a rogue, a Death Knight, a fury warrior, an arms warrior and an enhancement shaman.  It sounds like a lot, but — summer attendance being what it is — it still wasn’t enough to reliably fill raids.  And even when we could assemble 25 raiders in one place at one time, we didn’t have the cumulative DPS to tackle hard-modes because we were forced to invite undergeared players as an alternative to running two or three or ten raiders short. 

… then 3.2 hit, and our long-MIA members came crawling out of the woodwork. 

Last month, we had to PuG DPS — DPS! — from /trade to fill an Ulduar-25 raid. 

Last night, we had 36 would-be raiders scattered throughout the Tournament grounds — including some players we hadn’t seen consistently (or at all!) for weeks.

Literally overnight, raid slotting became a nightmare.

Do I invite the rogue who raided throughout The Burning Crusade and still tops the damage meters, in spite of being a full tier behind in gear … but who disappears for months at a time with no warning at all?  

Or do I invite the rogue who joined us halfway through Ulduar and suffered through the very worst of the summer slump with 100% attendance … but who can barely eke out more DPS than our feral druid (when he’s tanking)?

(For the record, I invited the consistent but subpar rogue to last night’s raid — our first real foray into T9 — but will make a point of talking to him about his performance before the weekend.  If he can’t put out respectable numbers for his gear, then he’ll need to step aside in favor of someone who can.  I also had a brief chat with the flakey rogue to get a handle on his intentions.  He says he wants to raid again, so I’ll try to start slotting him in where I can and assess his commitment from there.) 

I’ve been very open with my members about where we are as a guild, what my goals are for the new tier, and how I intend to prioritize raid spots (i.e.,  to those players who have been filling them — provided that they are also competent).  Nonetheless, there was a bit of drama last night when I wait-listed one of the mages I recruited to fill summer raids in favor of a new and much better-geared recruit.  In between add-on induced disconnects, I attempted to explain to the mage that his DPS was too low for Ulduar, let alone for a new tier of content.  We were committed to helping him gear up in Uld so he could contribute to progression raids in the future … but until then, he would have to sit out. 

… Of course, now that I’ve actually done the Beasts of Northrend, I realize it’s an easier and much more forgiving encounter than many of the fights in Ulduar.  In hindsight, I’m sure we could have overcome the mage’s subpar DPS.  But I had no way of knowing that going into the Colesium for the first time, and felt it was unfair to ask the rest of the raid to carry deadweight when there were better options.

I attempted to explain all of this — but the mage essentially accused us of using him, and then casting him aside in favor of “returning friends.”  He /gquit before I even finished slotting the raid.  (Ironically, one disconnect and a thoroughly hopeless Death Knight later, he could have subbed back in if he’d just stuck around.)

To be fair, we did “use” him: he was a warm body to fill our raids.  But he was also someone we genuinely liked and were committed to helping succeed.  He came to every Ulduar raid he signed up for and walked away with several pieces of T8.5.  We invested in him, and had every intention of continuing to do so — just not in progression content. 

And I absolutely did not cast him aside in favor of “returning friends.”  In fact, I wait-listed all of our “returning friends” in order to trial new Initiates.  It seemed like the right thing to do, since I recruited the Initiates to raid (not to ride the bench!) and the “returning friends” were the ones who made it necessary for me to open recruitment in the first place.

The idea was to invite the better-geared Initiates, and sub them out over the course of the raid for raiders on standby (such as the mage) if it turned out that their DPS wasn’t commensurate with their gear … but, obviously, that didn’t work out. 

I’m sure that things will sort themselves out in the next few weeks, as we are better able to assess our new Initiates’ skill and determine who to invite to the guild as a raider and who to let go.  The novelty of patch 3.2 will wear off, as will the newness of the Coliseum (which I can already see myself coming to loathe — given that one thoroughly uninviting and lackluster room tied to completely nonsensical lore is the setting for no less than six new instances). 

I don’t know.  Maybe we shouldn’t have benched the mage.  Maybe his loyalty throughout the summer slump should have been rewarded with an invitation to our first run at the Trial of the Crusader.  But I feel we made the best choices we could in the limited amount of time we had to make them in, especially considering all of the variables we had to take into account (raid composition, prior attendance, order of sign-ups, rank, gear, skill… etc.). 

I’ve tried very hard to create a supportive guild environment, with clear and transparent rules regarding raid invites and loot distribution.  For the most part, I think I’ve done a good job, but situations like this lead me to start second-guessing myself. 

And then I start second-guessing my second guess, and it’s all downhill from there.

*  *  *

There have been a couple of similar situations recently, now that I think about it. 

Two weeks ago, one of my casual hunters threw a very public temper tantrum when I wait-listed her from a Tuesday raid.  She lives in Australia and can only raid on Saturdays: not once in two years of raids has she showed up for a weeknight!  I’ve bent over backwards to accomodate her schedule, recruiting players who can “timeshare” her spot (i.e., who can raid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but not Saturdays) and occasionally even wait-listing members who can make all three days in order to ensure that she never has to sit out on the one evening each week that she can raid with the guild.

She isn’t a strong player, to be honest — she will forever be known as the hunter who noticed that her bow was broken after we pulled Sarth 3D — but she had been with us from the beginning and I felt a strong commitment to her as a result.  I consistently defended her, including to other officers and my own fiance, who were often tempted to bench her for her poor situational awareness and abyssmal reaction times … which, thanks to the Aussie bloggers I read, I know is due at least in part to latency.

The week before last, she decided to take some time off from work to see lower Ulduar — which, due to her schedule, she usually misses.  By some miracle of timing, the raid was actually full.  I couldn’t make room for her without sitting someone with better attendance, better raid performance and a stronger claim to the spot.  But because he’s a sweetheart, Keaton (our main tank and raid leader) volunteered to step out for the bosses she needed … which turned out to be all of them.  

We brought her in after Flame Leviathan, but she resented having been wait-listed from initial invites, and — after stewing quietly for several bosses — dropped /raid in the middle of a hardmode XT attempt.  We were forced to wipe to reset the encounter.  Keaton demanded an apology; she refused, and I kicked her and her host of alts from the guild.

Ironically, the new raider she lost her initial spot to was the same mage who /gquit last night. 

Sigh.

We also had a small loot dispute yesterday, in which a few items were mistakenly looted out of order. 

We make a point of looting tier pieces first, so winning a non-tier piece from a  particular boss won’t cause a player to lose out on the tier piece she really wanted.  However, in the excitement over new boss loot — not to mention some initial confusion as to how the new universal tier pieces work — our master looter accidentally awarded a pair of off-spec plate DPS bracers to our Death Knight tank before dealing with the tier token.  This cost the Death Knight just enough Priority that it appeared, on our EPGP lists, that I should receive the guild’s first piece of T9.  But there was no way I was going to let taking off-spec bracers cost our DK his hard-earned tier piece, so  I passed the token … which prompted our paladin tank to ask if he could have the off-spec bracers the DK had won, since taking the tier piece first would have dropped the Death Knight’s off-spec bid to second place.

(And we thought tradeable BoP items would make life easier…)

This is where our loot rules failed us.  “Legally,” the paladin was entitled to the bracers.   But it would have been silly for him to take them over the Death Knight, since he attends one or two raids out of three — and almost always as a tank — whereas our Death Knight is a DPS/tank hybrid with 100% attendance.   Personally, I have a hard time believing that our oh-so competitive tanks (who tend to be prickly about seniority), will let the Death Knight see much MT time.  For those raids the paladin is present for, the Death Knight will most likely end up an OT on trash and DPS on any bosses that don’t require four tanks.  For those raids the paladin misses, the Death Knight will be a full-fledged tank … but then, neither of them will be using DPS bracers then.  >.<

I’ve never felt the need to build a “loot council”-type override into our rules, but I was very tempted to last night.

The paladin eventually passed to the Death Knight, for which I was grateful.  (It’s a relief to know that my officers can make intelligent loot decisions for the good of the guild.)  Unfortunately, the long, drawn-out discussion about loot rules that took place in /officer chat delayed the raid and caused no small amount of frustration to those who couldn’t see the conversation … and even more to those of us who did (and found the entire situation rather asinine).

*   *  *

None of these relatively minor incidents is insurmountable; in truth, we’ve already recovered from them.  But, still … I find myself second-guessing the decisions I made, and secretly dreading next Saturday’s raid (when I get to make them all. over. again.)   Things were never this difficult in TBC, when raiding was hard and those “barriers to entry” that we’ve debated into the ground nonetheless served to create an determined and dedicated raid, with members who were excited about the content and invested in each other’s success. 

I hate the revolving door that endgame raiding has become, and occasionally find myself longing to step down — if not from raiding altogether (which I still enjoy, with all the passion of an addict), then at least from having to make the hard decisions and deal with their inevitable fallout.

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August 6, 2009 at 12:16 pm 9 comments

To raid, or not to raid …

… is not actually the question, but “to farm Heroic Naxx, or to postpone the 25-man shardfest until the weekend and invest one of our peak raid nights in Sartharion-10 3D?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. >.>

Our 10-man team spent a good eight hours wiping on Sarth 3D last week, and is so close to the kill we can taste it.  (Barbecue dragon, mmmm…)  But for various reasons, we won’t be able to try again until Sunday — unless we postpone our Wednesday night Naxx-25 until Saturday, which will leave Wednesday free for OS10?

Naturally, being a Libra (and attempting to juggle all of the conflicting needs in the guild-at-large…), I’m torn.

Pro’s

  • My 10-man team will have the opportunity to get back into OS10 early enough in the reset to (1) experiment with various group comps, because fewer of our fellow guildmembers are likely to be saved to other ID’s and can be rotated in (we’d really like an unholy death knight, a warlock or a critchicken for the +13% spell damage buff to our caster-heavy DPS); and (2) still have all of Sunday afternoon to fine-tune our strategy, if for some reason we aren’t able to down Sartharion on Wednesday.
  • Some of our more casual weekend raiders (who have gotten short shrift since we started clearing content in one and a half raid nights) will be able to raid again, something that they dearly miss — and have been remarkably patient about, all things considered.  Not coincidentally, these are also the players who could most benefit the most from the gear that our weekday raid typically shards or loots to off-specs.  Also, because Saturday is one of our official raid days, we’ll need these weekend warriors in the best gear available to them.  Come Ulduar, they will definitely be a part of the progression team, so it behooves the guild to rotate them into farm runs as much as possible.

Con’s

  • Because my 10-man team includes (by necessity) some of the guild’s strongest players — including both guild leaders, three officers and two of our three main tanks — it is already perceived as a “clique” by a handful of members.  If I start scheduling 25-man raids around a 10-man run, then drama is almost certain to ensue.  We already have a contingent of players who feel that 10-mans are largely irrelvant to the guild’s progression … or at least, less important than farming Naxx-25 for their last few upgrades.
  • The reason we can’t raid again until Sunday is that our main tank and raid leader has weekend plans, and he isn’t someone we’re willing or able to replace.  Since our protadin (who isn’t on the 10-man team) won’t be able to make Saturday, either, we’ll be down two and possibly even three tanks.  There are at least two alts (of players on the 10-man team) who are willing and able to tank Naxx-25, especially if it means freeing up Wednesday for OS10 progression … but I have a feeling that relying on alts to tank a 25-man will result in a rougher run than we’re accustomed to, and therefore drama (because some players still expect to be carried, and will fret that the guild’s best tanks are unavailable for the 25-man run because we prioritized our 10-man earlier in the week).

Through all of this, I also question my own ability to remain unbiased, and make decisions that are in the guild’s best interests.  I’m on the 10-man team.  I’m also the guild leader, and have a huge vested interest in seeing that little checkmark next to our name under OS10 3D on the realm’s progression thread before 3.1 hits.

Whatever I decide, there will be unhappy people, missed opportunities and the opportunity for drama.  I hate all three of these things!  Immensely!  But as Kyrilean pointed out in a post earlier today, the worst decision is often no decision at all.

It’s coming.  I just need a few more minutes to think about it …

/waffle

*   *   *

Update:  We didn’t have the best turn-out tonight, so we did a quick 25-man Malygos with fill-ins from our Friends & Family rank while we waited for a few more raiders to log-on.  Then it was off to Obsidian Sanctum for Sarth 3D.  We were still missing some key people, so DPS was a little low; it took us a few tries, and definitely wasn’t the smooth kill it’s been for the last two weeks.  (I spent most of the fight face-down in the dirt after clipping a void zone.  After all these weeks of raiding as a shaman, I /fail hard at ‘locking.)

We had an hour left on the clock but everyone was drained, so we called the raid there.  It looks like we’ll be doing Naxx on Saturday after all; the guild seemed receptive to it, as it would get our weekend raiders in, and the weekday core is a little burnt out now anyway. 

Sometimes I overthink things.  ;.;

March 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm 3 comments

Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows!

I bring the wineRemember that disaster of an “alt” OS10 run that transformed me from a mild-mannered Tauren shaman, serenely communing with the elements, into a card-carrying member of the Angry Healers Club?  What I neglected to mention was that immediately after we pulled Sartharion, our sole non-alt DPS — a Death Knight who never fails to “win Recount” — committed suicide-by-lava.

I can’t say that I blame him, to be honest.  I was /wrists-ing at several friends in a private chat channel at the time, too.

… or, rather, I couldn’t say that I blamed him … until I realized why he did it …

It wasn’t because the tanks were inconsiderate, incompetent and, well, plural.  (Why did we bring three of them, again?  /boggle)

It wasn’t because raid DPS was so ridiculously slow that we started asking each other if Sartharion had an enrage timer.

It wasn’t even because the healers were snarling-mad (although we were).

No.  He committed suicide to cheese the achievement.  Apparently, the game doesn’t recognize the difference between dying before you’re hit by a volcano and defeating Sartharion without being hit by any volcanos at all … provided that the other nine-tenths of the raid is able to down him, of course.  

Which we did. 

Eventually. 

Painfully. 

With much gnashing of the teeth, tearing of the hair and general QQ.

So in the end, our sole DPS main earned (/cough) his 10 achievement points, our feckless alts walked away with gear and badges, and I spent the next few days commiserating with Angry Healers everywhere.  (Yay, blogfodder.) 

Win-win, right?

not if you asked the other healer in the run, the holy-turned-ret-turned-holy-again paladin who was the Light to my Lasers that night.  He was absolutely furious that the Death Knight took a dive, especially since it forced the two of us work that much harder to keep the rest of the raid alive (and thus miss out on the achievement ourselves).

I understand where he was coming from, of course.  I wasn’t mad myself (the Death Knight announced before accepting the raid invite that he was going to die in a fire; we just kind of assumed that he was joking…) but that’s probably because I was already frustrated to the verge of tears by ten other things.  One more would have pushed me over the edge from angry into homicidal.

I kind of shrugged it off at the time, /pat‘d the paladin on his jet-blue shoulders and wrote the entire night off as a “learning experience” (as in, I learned never to subject myself to that again!).

So why do I bring all of this up again?  Am I that hard up for things to write about?

… Yes, but that’s thoroughly beside the point.

You see, late, late last night — after working on Sarth 3D (Lite Edition) for an hour or so and realizing that we just didn’t have the right group for it — we decided to assassinate the Twilight drakes one-by-one and then take on Sarth, which would give everyone who didn’t have the achievement yet an opportunity to practice volcano-dodging in a relatively stress-free environment.  (Because, believe me, a lava wall and some fire elementals are a nice walk in the Sepulcher compared to all of The Bad® that Sarth 3D has going on!)

So, no Of The Nightfall for me this week. 

But no volcano-spew, either! 

Without throwing myself into the jaws of the dragon — or letting any of my precious little Grid-boxlets go out! — Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows is one more Glory of the Raider achievement checked off my list. 

/flex

The hands-down best part was that the Angry Paladin got it too, which inspired him to forgive the Death Knight (it’s easy to forgive someone when you can feel superior to them — such as for earning an achievement legitimately that they had to exploit).  I never have to listen to him cry in /officer chat about it again!

… Still, the entire incident has me thinking about Tarsus’s excellent No Faith in Achievements post in a whole new light.  I don’t necessarily agree that achievements are pointless, although I certainly wish they were: their only real value comes from keeping my guildmembers interested in the game at a time that we’re all bored out of our minds.  If the raids themselves presented more of a challenge, then the gimmicky raid achievements wouldn’t feel like such a necessary evil.

March 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm 6 comments

OMG, ninja!

scarlett-ohara1Drotara of Less QQ, More PewPew posed an interesting question: When would you become a ninja?  

My first impulse was to exclaim “Never!” in my best Scarlet O’Hara voice, while clutching at my heart with one hand and fluttering around wildly with the other.  Then I remembered that I’m Undead, with half-rotted fingertips that are likely to fall off if I attempt that bit of girly frivoloty … so, nevermind.

For the record, Drotara isn’t asking “Why would you master loot that spirit trinket to your mage (over the PuG resto druid who could actually use it)?” or even “Is it ever appropriate to Need-and-run?”  No, Drotara is more interested in the ethics of passing another player over for a piece of loot — especially if she actually won the roll — if you don’t feel that she “deserves” it.  Maybe she died 3% into the fight and didn’t contribute at all.  Maybe her performance was simply subpar.  Or maybe you don’t agree that she needs an item because it isn’t optimal for her class or role.

What really made me stop and consider the question was a story Drotara shared about another player’s mother, who participated in a Vault PuG and actually won the roll for Valorous gloves — only to watch them go to another Death Knight because the raid leader decided she “sucked.”

My Mom plays a Death Knight, too.  The last time I checked, she was completely decked out in spellpower plate because it looked cuter on her Blood Elf than DPS gear, and had the added benefit of “making her spells pwn more.”  (Really.)

If my Mom were brave enough to PuG into a Vault run — which she isn’t; she’s listened in on enough of my siblings’ raids to be absolutely terrified of opening herself up to that kind of criticism — I suspect she’d come somewhere below the tanks and above an Affliction ‘lock her Baby Blizzard Bear on DPS.  She’d try her best, and possibly even drive herself to a panic attack in the process … but the damage meters would not be kind, and I can’t imagine that the typical Black Dragonflight PuG would be either.  (Sometimes, I think my server prides itself on its collective cruelty.)

What if I were the raid leader?  How would I handle the situation?

As a guild leader, my reputation is extremely important to me — so on the rare occasions that I organize trade channel PuG’s, I am very careful to (1) make the loot rules clear before the first pull and (2) follow them to the letter.  If this means rewarding the Death Knight who can’t DPS her way out of a netherweave bag, so be it.

When I’m handling loot in guild runs or even partial PuG’s, I do tend to be a little more subjective.  In these cases, the letter of the law actually becomes secondary to its spirit.

I’m thinking specifically of an incident that occurred in a 3/4 guild, 1/4 PuG run of Serpentshrine Cavern.  SSC was officially considered farm content, so we were using a simple “Need for main-spec/Greed for off-spec/Pass otherwise” rule to handle loot (with a few pre-determined exceptions, such as the Earring of Soulful Meditation and Tsunami Talisman — our primary reasons for hosting the PuG in the first place!)

We were muddling through with less than a full raid group, including a PuG tank who remains to this day the single-worst prot paladin I have ever met.  “Healsforhugs” absolutely could not pick up his adds on Hydross; our feral druid ended up tanking all four, while Hugs ran around dropping Consecrates around the perimeter of the raid for … no discernable reason.

Still, the rest of us overgeared the content, and were able to brute-strength our way through it fairly easily.  Hugs picked up a couple of off-spec drops uncontested, including the warrior-tanking mace off of Lurker.  (We really couldn’t figure out why he wanted it, but no one else did, so … whatever. /shrug)

We eventually made it to Leotheras, who dropped a Champion token (and some other things I can’t remember, but definitely not a Tsunami Talisman).  Healsforhugs asked to /roll.  So did our Holy Paladin, who already had healing gloves but was looking to build a protection set in preparation for Mount Hyjal. 

At that point, Hugs was in the raid simply because I didn’t have the heart to kick him.  His actual contribution was negligible — perhaps even negative, since he had been directly responsible for numerous trash deaths, and we had already decided to call the raid after Leo since there was no possible way he could tank Tidewalker’s adds or anything in the Karathress fight.

Meanwhile, it was in the guild’s best interests for the Holy Paladin to have an up-to-date prot set, since our pally tank was teaching a summer course and often missed raids, which occasionally left us without a viable tank for Hyjal trash.

I explained to Healsforhugs in whispers that even though the other paladin was healing at the moment, prot would be his main spec in guild raids so I was giving them equal priority.  The /roll alone would determine the winner.

The Holy Paladin won the roll, and I looted the tier token to him.

Healsforhugs threw an absolute fit.  He immediately dropped the raid, hearthed to Shattrath and started denounce us in /say us as “ninjas” and “robers” … which, come to think of it, led to this rather comical moment:

[Healsforhugs]: Don’t join Elleiras’s guild!  Ninjas!  They just robed me!!
[Random Player #1]: You mean … they forced you into a robe?
[Random Player #2]: OMG, I would totally join a guild for a free robe! Where do I sign up?!

… I really shouldn’t make fun of poor Healsforhugs, especially since — technically — he was right.  I did break my own loot rules when I accepted the Holy Paladin’s off-spec roll as if it were main-spec.

Was it justified?  I think so.  Healsforhugs was worse than useless, had already received several items and actually lost the roll to the Holy Paladin.

Did the guild’s reputation suffer as a result?  Not at all.  Healsforhugs made a fool of himself in Shattrath and I actually received a /w that night from the leader of a guild he had recently applied to, thanking me for exposing him as a loser and a creep … which I didn’t quite get, since the extent of my public response to his theatrics was a simple “/say You lost the roll to another paladin; I’m very sorry that upset you.”

February 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm 16 comments

Cliques Happen

flying-cat-fight1

It’s an inevitable fact of guild life — and, indeed, life in general. We gravitate towards those people with whom we feel the most comfortable, often because we share common interests or experiences.

An inherently social game, WoW actually encourages the formation of cliques by rewarding us for forming 5-player teams from level 12 on. As content becomes more challenging, we are increasingly motivated to group with people we know and trust; after all, Razorfen Kraul was relatively painless to PuG. Heroic Old Kingdom … not so much.

My guild’s first negative experience with cliques occurred in our early Karazhan days, when we were attempting to organize our diverse roster into two 10-man groups — a significant challenge in and of itself, given that we had members in all four hemispheres! It wasn’t an issue when we were a mere leveling guild; in fact, it worked to our advantage, since there was almost always someone online to talk to or ask for help with that group quest you could almost but not quite solo. However, when we finally entered the endgame, we had to make some serious compromises to accommodate timezones that ranged from five hours behind Server Time to 13 hours ahead.

I posted a poll on the guild forum to collect information about our members’ availability, input it into an Excel spreadsheet, and spent a thoroughly exhausting four hours in a Vent meeting with my co-guild leaders: planning the future of the guild, drafting loot rules and building two raid rosters that were as balanced as they could be while still taking everyone’s schedules and personal preferences into account.

In spite of these efforts, a perception soon emerged within the guild that there was an “A-Team” and a “B-Team.” In hindsight, this was most likely because all three of the guild’s leaders were on the so-called A-Team. This was 100% the result of our individual school and work schedules, which favored weekend raids — but no matter how many times we explained this, it was still seen as symptomatic of an “officer’s clique.”

Meanwhile, at the core of the B-Team was a group of friends who had played together in the past under different tags and built relationships that transcended WoW. Most had exchanged phone numbers, and a few knew each other in real life. They were already perceived as a social clique by many; once they were formally organized into a Karazhan team — one they perceived as being the lesser of the two — their loyalty to each other increased in inverse proportion to their resentment for guild’s officers. As a result, the B-Team became increasingly standoffish and often shunned guildmembers they considered “outsiders.”

Things came to a head the week Zul’Aman was patched into the game, when my (former) co-lead attempted to organize a single ZA group consisting of the strongest members of both Karazhan teams. He felt (rightly, in my opinion) that neither team alone would make significant headway into the new instance. It wasn’t so much matter of skill or gear at that point as it was of class composition: in those days, at our level of progression, Zul’Aman required two MT-quality tanks and three healers, with a mage or druid for crowd control. Each of the two Kara groups were running with one tank, one off-tank, two healers and a shadow priest as primary CC.

In order to stand a chance at clearing ZA, it was clear to my co-lead that we would need to mix things up — and given that the A-Team/B-Team mentality was causing hard feelings all around, I personally felt that combining the teams to some extent would be good for guild morale.

The clique wouldn’t hear of it. Its members wanted to progress from Karazhan to ZA as a team, and some went so far as to refuse to join another group for any reason. After a long and emotionally fraught Vent meeting, the B-Team ended up leaving to create their own guild. (To their credit, they cleared Zul’Aman before we did — but not before making significant changes to their roster to accommodate the unique demands pre-nerf ZA placed on an entry-level raid.)

kitten_friendsAs for the rest of us? Burnt out on Zul’Aman before we even set foot (or hoof or paw, as they case may be…) in the instance, we turned our attention to Gruul’s Lair instead. With a major source of tension removed from the guild, we were able to recruit quickly — something we had been hard-pressed to do before the split, with the A-Team/B-Team dichotomy fostering negativity and resentment among our members.

What had once seemed like a guild-breaking schism turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we were able to reinvent ourselves, recommit to each other, and ultimately rebuild: stronger than we had been before, with a renewed sense of purpose and common vision. Shortly thereafter, we made the jump from a 10- to 25-man raiding guild … and enjoyed a small modicum of success in the process.

And as difficult as it was at the time, I learned a great deal about guild leading from this early experience.

First, I learned that cliques happen. Social cliques, heroic groups and even 10-man teams will form in a guild that is focused on 25-man raid content. Unless these cliques threaten the unity of the guild, they can be tolerated and in some cases even welcomed, because they can and do bring individual guild members closer together.

Second, I learned that there comes a point for some cliques when they cease to be benevolent and become poisonous instead. When a clique develops its own identity, separate from that of the guild, and the clique’s members identify with the clique first and the guild second, and place unreasonable demands upon the guild — even holding it hostage by refusing to participate in guild events unless the wishes of the clique are accommodated — then it needs to be confronted, perhaps even excised.

Finally, I learned that in extreme cases such as this, it can be necessary to sacrifice the guild’s short-term goals for its long term health. Parting ways with the so-called B-team may have set us back a few weeks in terms of raid progression, but it also allowed us to move forward with a stronger core than we had had before. We rebuilt the guild from a position of unity and confidence, and were the all the better for it. It took months for me to recover, personally, from what I felt was a failure on my part to keep the guild intact. But eventually, I came to realize that the guild split was the best thing that could have happened to us at the time. At the risk of sounding hopelessly melodramatic, it was a liberating epiphany.

February 3, 2009 at 12:40 pm 5 comments

“My guild won’t let me…”

As a guild leader and avid blog reader, I see this all the time. 

It has more forms than a Feral druid:

“My guild won’t let me raid on my brother’s character.”
“My guild won’t let me play my Warlock instead of my Paladin.”
“My guild won’t let me PuG Heroic Obsidian Sanctum.”

And my personal favorite (not to mention the one that inspired this particular rant):

“My guild won’t let me tank.”

First, the idea that your guild “won’t let you ______” is absurd.  You pay for your subscription, not your Guild Leader.  You control your characters, your playtime, your actions and your interactions in the game.  Your guild simply does not have the ability to prevent you from doing something that you want to do, nor does it have the power to force you to do anything that you don’t want to do against your will. 

What you really mean by “My guild won’t let me ______” is “My guild won’t let me ______ and still be a member of the guild.”

The difference is more than mere semantics.

“My guild won’t let me ______” suggests that your guild is some kind of totalitarian state that exerts absolute control over you and your actions. 

If joining a guild automatically e-mailed your password and secret question to the Guild Leader, and gave each of the guild’s officers the option to take control of your character and your interface at any time, and disabled the /gquit command line …  Well then.  You might have a case!

But unless my spam filters are re-directing a whole lot of e-mail from noreply@blizzard.com, it doesn’t quite work that way.

Sure, I can ask my members not to PuG heroic raid zones, but I can’t actually prevent them from doing so.  I simply don’t (and shouldn’t) have that kind of power.  The most I can do is penalize them for breaking the rules, either by barring them from future raids or removing them from the guild.

“My guild won’t let me ______ and still be a member of the guild,” on the other hand, is a fair statement.

Most guilds have rules.  Good guilds publish these rules and make them available, if not publicly, then at least to prospective applicants and current members. 

Generally speaking, when you join a guild, you agree to abide by the guild’s rules.  You also agree to be removed from the guild if you break those rules.  If these agreements aren’t explicit (and they often are), then they’re at least implicit. 

Either way, this doesn’t mean that the guild controls you, but that you’ve entered into an agreement with it: to abide by the guild’s rules in exchange for membership and whatever privileges that conveys — from access to /gchat, to help with group quests, to a raid spot and epic loot, depending upon the focus (and relative success) of the guild.

Semantics aside — I said it wasn’t “merely” about semantics, not that it wasn’t about semantics at all! — there is often a reason for the things your guild won’t let you do (and still be a member of the guild).

 

“My guild won’t let me raid on my brother’s character.”

This one came up last night, when our sole tree (one of only five healers in the raid) asked to play his brother’s mage instead of his druid, because his brother was called into work but still “needed” gear from several bosses in heroic Naxx. 

I denied the request for two reasons:

1.  First and foremost, we needed the heals!  Allowing the tree in question to play his brother’s mage would have forced one of our hybrids to respec (at the guild’s cost) or one of our DPS mains to switch over to a healing alt.  I’m not going to force someone into a spec or onto a character they don’t want to play to accomodate someone who isn’t even in the raid.

2.  The tree is a much more consistent raider than his brother.  It makes more sense from the guild’s perspective to gear the druid who seldom misses a raid over the mage who shows up for one in every three.  The guild is not interested in gearing individuals; it gears the raid, so that the entire raid can progress.  There was another mage, two warlocks and a shadow priest in the group who would have made better use of any cloth caster drops anyway. 

 

“My guild won’t let me play my Warlock instead of my Paladin.”

I read a post over at Greedy Goblin a few weeks ago that is at least partially responsible for this post.  Basically, Gevlon encouraged a friend not only to leave her guild because it “forced” her to play her paladin instead of her warlock, but to steal almost 24K gold from the guild bank to compensate her for the hours she spent raiding on her pally, as well.

I understand why she /gquit.  In her situation, I might have done the same thing — minus the theft, of course. 

What I don’t understand is the idea that the guild somehow deserved to be punished for “forcing” her to play her paladin.  Far from being forced, she agreed to level a healer and, in return, recieved help from the guild on the long grind from 1 to 70. 

Ultimately, she raided on her paladin, saw content, took gear … and, by Gevlon’s account, had fun doing it.

Now, ten levels later, because she thinks she would have had more fun playing her ‘lock, she feels entitled to 24K gold in bogus opportunity costs and the moral high road? 

Seriously, this has to be the stupidest thing I’ve read in the Blogosphere to date, and I’ve read all of Renoobed‘s Melvin stories …

 

“My guild won’t let me PuG Heroic Obsidian Sanctum.”

As easy as Sartharion is, Sartharion + 1, 2 and 3 drakes is still progression.

We attempted Sartharion +1 unsuccessfully in our last two Heroic OS raids.  As long as Malygos remains undefeated, the Sartharion achievements aren’t a priority for us, so we gave it three attempts each time — just to assess our progress — before killing Vesperson, downing Sarth in “easy-mode” and moving on for the night. 

Still, that’s three more wipes than you’re likely to endure in a halfway decent Sartharion -3 PuG, so I suppose I can understand why some guildmembers would prefer to PuG OS early in the week, /roll on “free” loot (i.e., gear with no GP cost attached) and pass on the weekend run. 

I understand it, but I don’t like it, and have made it very clear that anyone caught PuGing Heroic OS will be wait-listed from Heroic Naxx — a much longer instance that’s harder to PuG successfully.

For the most part, my guildmembers support the decision.  After all, they want to raid too, and can’t if a handful of members are saved to a PuG ID.  Still, there’s a small minority of players who feel the rule is too restrictive, including a certain Death Knight …

And that brings me to my last “My guild won’t let me ______”, and the one that inspired this post in the first place.

 

“My guild won’t let me tank.”

Shortly before WotLK shipped, my guild’s MT announced that he would be making his rogue his new main.  He felt that tanking was “too easy” in the post-3.0.1 world, and wanted to play something more challenging.  Even if rogue DPS was relatively simple to master, he hoped, then the opportunity to compete on the damage meters would at least keep things interesting.

We only had one raiding rogue at the time, and fury warrior who was more than capable of stepping up to tank, although it would have been as fourth tank in seniority rather than first.  (Even without our former MT, we had a solid tank corps consisting of a Feral druid, second Prot warrior and Prot paladin.)

Even though our MT’s spot was filled before the change became public knowledge, the moment it did, it seemed that everyone in the guild who had ever had aspirations of tanking spontaneously respecced or rerolled in an attempt to claim his spot.  >.<

I might be exaggerating.  A little.

The problem I’m running into now is that I have more would-be tanks than the raid can possibly support.  I am constantly asking the paladin to respec Holy, the Death Knight to respec Unholy, and the warriors to respec to … whatever it is warriors do for DPS.  None of them are thrilled about it, and I suspect they’ll be even less thrilled when I announce on the guild forum that I’m going to start enforcing Main Tank priority on loot — something I’ve never had to do before, because in TBC our tanks were such a  close-knit group that they made all of their own loot decisions, largely by consensus, with PR invoked as an occasional tie-breaker.

Now, the junior Prot paladin (who is usually given a choice between raiding as Holy and not raiding at all) is resentful of our Main Tankadin; our Death Knight complains about being asked to respec DPS every other raid (and attempts to organize a Heroic OS PuG week simply so he can MT it …); and the warrior we had initially tapped to replace our MT after he went rogue has bowed out of the competition and is raiding on his Frostfire mage.  To top it all off, our real tanks are alarmed by the fact that the wannabes are attempting to bid on tank gear …

If this sounds like a recipe for drama, it is!  

What frustrates me so much is the fact that none of these would-be tanks talked to me about their desire to tank — and the likelihood that they would recieve much-coveted tank spots in the guild raid — before they the invested time, effort and gold into their Frost, Feral or Protection gear.  I would have been happy to explain to them that our tanking spots were filled, and perhaps forestall this “My guild won’t let me tank” nonsense. 

Instead, I’m doing it retroactively, and with as much sympathy and support as I can muster (which, frankly, isn’t a lot). 

But, really, why would you assume that speccing tank and signing up for raids automatically makes you the MT of an established raiding guild?  Is there something I’m missing here?  Or do I simply have “Pushover” written on across my Undead forehead?

January 5, 2009 at 11:37 pm 15 comments


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