The 14th Mile   6 comments

Someone once told me that raid progression should be treated as a marathon.  That at the end of the race it didn’t matter where you placed, just that you crossed the finish line.  This really hit home with me, and in a lot of ways I agree with this philosophy.  Raiding is about endurance and stamina.  It’s about accepting a challenge, recognizing that it will challenge you and working with a team to overcome that challenge.

But what I’d like to start some conversation on today is what to do when you are halfway through that race and your legs start to turn to jelly – and if you’ve ever done any kind of competitive sport you likely know exactly what I’m talking about.  I was a distance swimmer.  For me when my legs started to go numb I constantly reminded myself to kick – one two three, one two three.  I stopped looking at the markers at the end of the lane and thinking about how much more I had to go because they became daunting – and I took the race one lap at a time.

The problem that I’m struggling with right now, however, is what do you do when your raiding legs start to turn to jelly.  How do you motivate your team to “KICK” halfway through the race? 

After the past two grueling weeks of raiding, we’ve found ourselves sitting at 7/13 hard modes complete.  And this is fantastic – I’m quite pleased with it, in fact.  It puts us about 54% finished with the current tier of content – or on the 14th mile of our marathon, and hopefully in line to have completed it before Firelands is released.  However, I’m starting to see and feel that we are running on legs of jelly, with the hardest part of the race still ahead.  Every one of the remaining 5 encounters is a step up in difficulty from the previous one – and I’m growing concerned about the stamina and focus that is going to be required to cross the finish line.

I know that for me, personally, I’m a bit worn down.  And it’s not 100% from the push or the game – although some of it is.  I have not been sleeping well, and I’m physically exhausted in a way I haven’t been for some time.  I’d be remiss not to recognize that some of this will absolutely carry over into raids, regardless of how hard I try to keep it bifurcated.  To add to that I’ve done something to my right hand that makes it painful to play after a few hours of time, and it’s having an effect on my performance – which irritates me.  (Don’t worry, I’m looking into it).

I do try to keep raids positive, to say “ok – pick yourself up, dust off, and let’s go again”.  However, I don’t have the patience of a saint and after our 50th wipe of someone failing a mechanic that they shouldn’t (FU Rohash) – I start to grow weary and my optimism starts to wane.  I find myself torn between trying to offer something brilliantly inspirational or becoming Sebudai, all in an effort to motivate performance for success.  And that in and of itself is moderately draining.

Jelly Legs.  I feel a little bit like I have them as well.

In an effort to combat them, we are going to make an attempt to move just a little bit slower this week.  We intend to continue on our progression – but not push is quite as hard.  Take a week that’s a little bit easier – take the time to really focus on cleaning up our “farmed” or previously killed content.  Let everyone re-group, get the mush out of their minds, and start clear headed with our next push.

Because, really, if you are too tired to cross the finish line you won’t finish the race .

Which, of course, brings me back to the topic at hand.  How do you push through that 14th mile?  What do you do to spice your raid team up and keep them sharp, fresh and focused?

Posted March 29, 2011 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts, Raid Leadership, Raiding

6 responses to “The 14th Mile

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  1. For a nightly push through, for some reason just taking a ‘bio’ break for 5-10 minutes helps. The other thing is ‘this is the last try of the night’ Funny how that last statement can focus us.

  2. Well, my guild doesnt push progression nearly like Monolith does, we are happy with normal modes, some hard modes when we get there. But yes, I see where you are going with it.

    The one thing I’ve mentioned in other places and felt strongly lately is that with healing so demanding in Cata is that I WISH, how i WISH, we could do some alt runs where I could take another job. We had those back in Wrath, and they were awesome, because we were more relaxed and easier about it all. It is also a HUGE relief to step out of your normal job for awhile and do something different. It keeps you fresh, lets you see things from a different perspective and let’s face it, a change can be as good as a vacation…

    That’s what I miss from Wrath… our alt runs… and I sure think it would help now if we could…

    • We are actually running an alt run one day a week that runs 3-4 hours. I think right now we are 9/12 with Cho’gall at 4% ish. I’ve been taking my paladin in for it, and it really is a lot of fun :)

      Are you guys not able to do alt runs because you don’t have enough people with alts? Or are you worried about content difficulty?

      Really, the earlier encounters in all of the zones are not too bad if you are geared through heroics and with crafted epics :)

  3. I love this analogy, Beru. I actually did a fair amount of competitive swimming in my high school and college days as well. For me, though, when I felt like I’d hit my wall I wasn’t telling myself “kick,” I was telling myself “breathe.” I’m sure it basically served the same purpose – giving yourself something to focus on that felt smaller than the lengths you had ahead of you. I’d count my strokes and pay attention to when I was breathing rather than having to count the laps as they slowly passed.

    Like you, I’ve been feeling like I hit my WoW wall in raiding lately. It’s been a difficult and truly intense raid tier, so I’m not surprised to see others feeling the same way. For my guild, we’ve decided to deal with it by trying to mix in some “easier” encounters into our progression lately. We’ve spent the last three weeks trying to down 25m Ascendant Council with frustrating results. So this week, our RL decided to head over to Throne of the Four Winds for a change of scenery and pace. We haven’t been to Throne at all on 25m yet, so he’s hoping the change will give us a chance to work on something that’s more within our reach. I hope it works and we get a kill this evening, since sometimes just one good night of raiding can reinvigorate an entire raid team.

    As for dealing with my own WoW “wall,” I tell myself to breathe by focusing on the little things. Can I experiment with a new spec or style of healing tonight? How can I make this encounter new for myself, even if I’m seeing it for the 20th time this week? Can I challenge myself to conserve my mana more, or maybe lower my overhealing in the next attempt?

    When an encounter is going particularly badly, I try to focus instead on the people around me and why I enjoy raiding with them. We’re a fairly close-knit guild, and sometimes reminding myself of this and taking a moment for a little bit of comedic relief in one of our non-raid chat channels can make me cool down when I’m starting to get too frustrated.

  4. It takes a certain amount of stubbornness to push through the hard points and see a particularly frustrating boss finally fall. Perseverance. Some particular aspects that help a raid get through it include:

    — the raiders be willing to admit when they messed up.
    — everyone not taking it personally when the raid leader does get frustrated, even if they are being personally called out.
    — taking the time to thank someone or acknowledge their efforts. This includes the raiders to the raid leader.
    — being willing to help and guide those who are struggling: having faith in them as players, but stepping back and saying “hey, what can we do to help you with this problem? What about this mechanic are you struggling with?”
    — everyone be willing to adapt and change a strategy if needed, but also recognize what IS working well.
    — if you (and this counts for all raiders) were wrong about something, be willing to admit that.
    — take a physical breather. A break to do pushups/jumping jacks or run a lap around the house can do wonders for your own focus.
    — everyone constantly tweaking themselves to perform to their maximum capacity. Can they help someone else, in some way? Can they take over calling a particular ability over vent? Can they help with interrupts, or throw a raid-saving cooldown even though they’re a dps DK or ret pally? What about thorns, or trading innervates, or saving a cooldown for a different time? Do you need to have the healers call out when they need help, or will you act on your own– tell them so they know. Small things can add up to make a huge difference.

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