At What Cost?   25 comments

 Last night we killed Sinestra. This did a several things for us – for the first time in our history as a guild, we can definitively call ourselves a “server first” guild, having snagged all three server first end boss kills. Additionally, depending on which set of arbitrary rankings you look at, we are debatably a top 100 US guild…for now (if you’ve been reading here for any length of time you already know how I feel about progress rankings).  But in the aftermath of Sinestra dying, instead of being overjoyed I found myself asking “at what cost?”.

All, I am about to share with you things that I’ve not really shared to anyone, save privately to Brade.

Aside from the fact that this content tier has been excruciatingly long – I can honestly tell you that in my six years of being in guild management in this game I’ve never worked harder or felt more unappreciated and disrespected as I have for the past few months.  And I find myself asking if it was worth it.  Were all the hours I spent researching, reaching out to anyone and everyone I could for help when I found us struggling and crying myself to sleep at night because I was worried about if I was missing something or handled something poorly, worth it?

I don’t expect people to shower me in accolades, but every now and again a simple recognition for the work I put in or a thank you would go such a long way.  You don’t even know.  To be fair, a few people do occasionally thank me or say very nice things to me – usually when I need it the most and it shows I need it.  And I’m grateful, because what they probably don’t realize is that they were the person that kept me going, that picked me back up when I was certain I wouldn’t be able to stand up again.

Last night after our kill instead of someone saying “man Beru, those tips you dug up these past few days were great!”  - I was advised that I wasn’t the top healer for our kill.  I’m sure it wasn’t meant maliciously, and I know that wasn’t this person’s intent, but I was pretty hurt by the comment nonetheless. I mean how do I even respond to that?  “Sure, but I had 1mm more healing done to the tank than the other raid healers and was more of a team player?”.  “Ok - but there was less than 500k  healing difference and I still ranked on the fight?”.  “Sorry, I’ll do better next time?”.  I mean, seriously, what the fuck do I even say to that?  Ultimately I opted to respond with (what I felt) was a gracious response: “It’s good for other people to outheal me, I shouldn’t always be at the top, plus it keeps my ego in check!”.  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, that is.  Because I’m going to admit to you, I was pretty upset by the comment.  That after all of the work I put into the encounter, the only thing anyone said to me was essentially “you weren’t the best on our kill pull”.

I can’t help but feeling a little bit like this expansion and tier of content has changed my guild – and while it is for the better in some ways (progression), I’m not entirely sure it’s for the better in others (community).  Perhaps I’m just being cathartic about it, I don’t know.

Recruiting this tier has been brutal, and it has taken a lot out of me.  We’ve had more turn over in our raid roster the first few months of this expansion than we had in all of WotLK combined.  And while I’m fairly certain we aren’t alone in that, it has been difficult to juggle that on top of everything else.  I will also be honest – we have some personalities right now that don’t mesh well, and it’s been extremely taxing to keep them in check every raid.  There’s been more than once that I’ve felt the need to actually ask “do I need to turn this car around”?  Which is tough, because we built our guild on the foundations of respect – and to have people shitting on that pretty much just pisses me off.  I’ve had to have more individual talks with people this expansion than I have….ever.

There are a couple of people right now that seem to come into the raid some nights with a giant chip on their shoulder – and I don’t have a clue as to why.  Frequently these are the same people that get immediately defensive at the suggestion that they have room to improve or that they made a mistake.  And to be honest with you, it’s not healthy for the raid – and it’s certainly not healthy for me.  Their attitude is obvious, it does not go un-noticed by myself or others and it’s poisonous.  It’s vital that I contain it and do not let it spread, or it will overwhelm what I am able to control.  I’m trying to be patient.  I’m trying to be understanding.  I’m trying to be the bigger (responsible) person.  But deep down inside I really just want to get up in their face and scream at them drill sergeant style asking “what the fuck is your problem?”.

Maybe I’ve also changed.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my guild.  I am amazed and grateful at what we’ve been able to accomplish this expansion.  I’ve poured so much into the guild, more than probably most people realize.  It’s hard to watch something you put so much of yourself into grow, evolve and change.  Everyone that takes their leave has left a footprint on the guild – and on me (ps I miss you so much, Chris, you have no idea).  Just as everyone that comes into the fold creates a new footprint.  Some will create bigger footprints than those that preceded them – and some won’t quite fill those that were previously left.  But those footprints will be created and will remain, nonetheless.

I’m worried.  No “server first” guild on our server has lasted the entirety of an expansion.  They’ve all fallen down and broken apart.  It was Rapture back in Vanilla.  Pinnacle in The Burning Crusade.  Anguish in Wrath of the Lich King.  We’ve always acknowledged that the candle that burns twice as bright often only burns half as long.  Monolith has always been the slow and steady turtle in the race – maybe we didn’t get server firsts but we always saw content and survived into the next expansion.  So that leaves me to ask, is this Monolith’s flash of light?  Are we going to burn bright and then fade giving someone else the opportunity to rise and shine?  I’d like to think that after six years, we’ve got some stamina and can survive the curse of the “server first” guild – but it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take true dedication.  Which is something I’m not convinced 100% of our raiders have,  and I have no doubts that there will be a need to recruit again as we continue through this expansion.

The truth is, I love the progression.  I thrive on it.  But the question I’m left with is: what cost am I willing to pay to have it?

25 responses to “At What Cost?

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  1. Beru, let me start by saying congratulations. I realize that is in no way an appropriate response to the rest of the post, but I wanted to start there. Grats, mate. You made it happen.

    That said, I feel your pain. I was never in a server first guild, but I raid led in a very casual guild and faced a lot of the problems you describe. Having people with vastly different play styles, approaches, and tolerances can make a raid leader want to pull their eyes out – or at least the power cord from the socket. I got so tired of raid leading after dragging a team of rag-tag misfits through Naxx that I quit a guild rather abruptly and vowed never to raid lead again: the benefit was simply not worth the cost (to me).

    Of course, I was raid leading again in ICC because, well, SOMEONE’s got to do it. This was a much more serious guild (though by no means a server first guild) and yet I had exactly the same problems there I’d had before. Personality conflicts, lack of commitment, chips-on-shoulders (to use your phrase) seem to be a commonality amongst many raid groups.

    I’m really sorry you’ve found yourself in this position. After my last “serious” guild, I underwent some fundamental change in regards to WoW, and I just can’t take it that seriously any more. That is to say I get extremely upset by small things sometimes that remind me of all the stress I’ve dealt with before and am completely uncaring about other things that some claim are the “only thing” to care about (raiding, obviously).

    I truly hope that you find what you need in the game again, as I haven’t. I’ve taken extended breaks, played other games, switched guilds, switched servers, switched factions, leveled new toons… and I still feel how I’ve felt since the last guild crash. It’s just not worth it to me anymore. Reflectively, I don’t think it ever was.

    I’m a part-core gamer. I always was, but I see more and more people becoming part-core or casual because of the environment this expansion has solidified. It’s not the game’s fault, per se, and it’s not just the players’ faults. It’s everything’s fault, really: the game, the community, the developers, everyone. Whether we’re growing up (I’m an oldish man so when I say grow up I don’t mean kids – I believe you’re an adult too, but still – growing up), getting burned out, having RL changes overwhelm us, or whatever, the game’s losing it’s “Greatest Generation” (it’s exceptionally obnoxious and arrogant of me to appropriate that term for game playing, but it’s too good an analogy).

    I’m sorry, mate, I truly am. I hope things improve for you. But if they don’t, know you’re in good company.

    • I’ve often wondered if I’d have more fun if I wasn’t in charge, per se. But I always come back to the “someone’s got to do it”, and, well, there you have it :)

      I would also agree that there are a ton of things that influence the way we play the game. And really, I thin the longer you’ve been in Azeroth, the more likely you are to let other things start to influence you – which is not a bad thing! For me, I know that I’m still in love with WoW (and my guild) because I spent some time on my off nights playing Rift, and while I was there all I could think about was WoW – and I truly missed my guild mates in my time away.

  2. Echoing the congratulations from the first comment. Clearing 13/13 is difficult, and (although I haven’t checked) I assume it’s still something like 1-2% of all guilds (or less) that have managed the feat. It’s something to be proud of.

    I don’t think there’s any time limit on addressing things like the healing meter comment. I think you can absolutely go back and say to that person “that remark was absolutely unacceptable. It was rude and hurtful and poisoned the elation of a server first kill for me and even if you didn’t mean it to be so, I would like an apology.” Or however you might wish to word things.

    I also think that, unlike those of us who have chosen to step away from the really serious, server-first style progression raiding, you have a lot to attract applicants with, which means that personality conflicts are absolutely a reason you can bench and gkick people. Not in any sort of a spiteful way, but no one is so good at their class that they’re irreplaceable. The only people that are irreplaceable, IMO, are the friends and connections we make through our shared hobby.

    That option probably isn’t too palatable to you since you’ve already had a lot of churn this expansion, but I think that if that level of respect is really a priority for your guild, you won’t have to break up like the previous server leaders.

    • Thanks! We aren’t quite 13/13 just yet, we still have one more to go (Ascendant Council)!

      To be fair to the person that made the healing comment, I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be spiteful – and I’m certain it wasn’t their intent to upset me. It just inadvertantly had that effect on me, likely a compilation of things building up internally, and that person just unknowingly opened up a pandora’s box of emotions within me that they weren’t aware existed.

      Personality conflicts will be abound any time that there are a group of people together, the ability of each person to maturely and respectfully manage those conflicts are what is important, in my opinion. Hopefully the few chats we’ve had – and the ones that are on our roster to have – will shore up our expectations a little better!

  3. Greatest Generation is appropriate, I wouldn’t get too worried about that.

    WoW is just old, so the many attractions to the game have fallen by the way-side. There are no more people like me, or you, buying a copy of WoW. There just aren’t. That being folks that are energetic about an MMO and looking to devote their time and energy to making it work. It’s not new enough. A fellow officer of mine commented (as we were discussing where we want to go T12 and beyond) that our server has room for another “Top 200 US Guild” but does the game have room? Are there enough players willing to chip in and do their part enough to allow us to stick with our social circles we’ve been a part of for the past 4 years?

    And if there aren’t, that means guilds must collapse, merge, collapse, and merge again until those still love the game are together again.

    • Some of our recent recruitment has ended up netting applicants from situations you have just described – other guilds collapsing, and dedicated players look for a new home. I’m very grateful that those players looked to us when considering their options. It’s been hard, and I honestly do not think that it’s going to get any easier.

  4. Again, I have to say, Congratulations on the kill! It takes a lot of commitment to achieve what you did! For you to not celebrate that achievement would dishonor the journey that took you there! And that’s the important part, isn’t it?

    This game is a journey. It helps us grow and mature, even if it is just a game. Some of us will take different things from the same events, and it may take others longer to get the same things that you did out of it. The important thing is to understand and acknowledge that.

    I’m not there with you, so all I can do is offer you my support. Raid/Guild leading really is like herding cats, and I don’t envy you one bit. And the social interactions in a raid group such as yours are usually the hardest to get to gel together.

    There isnt much more I can add to this without rambling on, and trying to type this out on my phone is a pain! (Maybe I should dust off my blog and post something on this!) However, do know that you have my utmost respect for doing what you do on a continuous basis!

    Good luck to you, and again, Great Job on the Boss kill!

    • Thank you :)

      I would agree that the game is a journey – and that there will be many different roads traveled, all eventually leading to the same place. One person’s road will clearly not be the same as the next, and I would agree that those paths we take shape and mold us, not only as a player, but also as a person.

  5. Yes, Grats on a long and very difficult road, Beru. Yes, managing a guild can take SO much out of you. I’m not even an officer in mine, but the guild master leans on me, we just had an exodus involving three of our raiders who’d said no more than three days ago that everything was fine. It’s tough, it’s stress, and somewhere along the line, the positive encouragement has gone right out the window. I am not so hard core as you, I’m going to be happy just to kill the three end bosses on normal difficulty, as I’m not really a fan of the normal/heroic model that Blizz follows these days. As far as I’m concerned, those who do want to put in that time and commitment to it have my blessing and kudos. And yeah, a comment like that, uttered at the moment of triumph will really take the Woot factor right out of it.

    Do try and bask in the accomplishment bliss a bit, and then take a breather and maybe start talking out some of these issues with those in your guild. Start on those chip-bearers, and just try to re-introduce a more positive environment. That’s all any of us can do…

    ::hug::

    • It really only is a couple of people – but it’s truly amazing the effect their negativity has had on me as a whole. A chat or two is certainly already in the works!

      As for the comment, I do feel that I’ve put this person in an unfavorable light, which is unfortunate – because they are one of my favorite people in the guild, which is probably why the comment hurt as much as it did. I’m positive that they didn’t mean in the way that it effected me, and they would/will probably be unhappy to know that I was truly upset by it.

      As for your own adventures, I wish you luck! Don’t hesitate to nudge me if I can help at all :)

  6. Every guild has standards and you should not lower your standards on the personal behavior expected from your raiders. Problem players should be prioritized for replacement just as if they had poor output, attendance, or survivability. Recruitment never ends!

    Other than that, the appropriate response to someone pointing out your output? “Really? I had a little bit more to worry about than gaming the damned meters.” They don’t let it go? Then something synonymous with “Back off, Jack” is probably appropriate.

    Congratulations on the kill!

    • Thank you!

      I do think that it is time for us to reiterate our expectations, definitely something that I anticipate to be forthcoming!

      I do not believe the person who made the comment to do so nefariously – and I don’t think they intended it to necessarily be a dig at me. It was more that it was the only thing said directly to me after the kill, and even though it wasn’t intended, it had the side effect of hurting my feelings a little bit. I really do enjoy the person who made the comment, it’s just unfortunate that the comment had the effect on me that it did.

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  8. Beru,

    Congratulations on a great achievement. Regardless of whether or not you topped healing, you clearly did a fantastic job as a healer and you fielded this team that went forth and became Dragonslayers. This is all fantastic and I am so pleased for you. :)

    I won’t talk about how hard it is to be a leader (GM/officer/etc) of a 25-man raiding guild — you already know that. I won’t talk about how your guild doubtlessly got bruised and bled along the way to this moment, mostly because you already know, but also because my little group is sitting at 5/13 so I’m not sure I know the pain that awaits us. ;)

    I will say, however, that if you give even half the effort towards your guild that I think you do, you are doing a lot and I, at least, do recognize what a drain that is. I know what it’s like when people in the guild don’t quite mesh with each other or the group as a whole. I know what it’s like to wonder why someone has that chip on their shoulder. I toss and turn at night sometimes, wondering if I made the right call in a strategy or raid composition.

    So from someone who has at least a vague idea of what you’ve gone through, the time and hours you’ve poured into your guild, about which you are CLEARLY passionate, I understand your pain, your troubles, your worries, your concerns and I appreciate the effort you’ve put forth for them. They’re your people, after all. Is there anything you wouldn’t do for them? :)

    I also would like to say thank you for all the help you’ve bestowed upon me as I go studying strats. You were invaluable help for us on Chimaeron, I refer to your strats often (if you see apotheosis-now.com in your referrers, that’s from our guild forums — I tell my guildies to check out your awesome videos all the time!) and basically, I think you’ve done an amazing job of being a valuable resource for the community at large as well as for your guild.

    So thank you very much, Beru. Everything you’ve done is hugely appreciated.

    Now, go forth, Dragonslayer! And take a nap or something, sheesh! ;)

  9. You have my sympathies I am officer and raid leader in a guild that is just behind yours on progression (42% on heroic cho’gall atm) and I think people who haven’t been an officer/raid leader don’t understand how much effort the officer team put in to running a successful guild.

    One of the things we do in our guild is try to encourage the attitude we want by leading by example. Get your officer team to say “thanks for leading beru” at the end of every raid and make sure you comment positively when anyone comes up with a tactical suggestion that has positive results. The other side of this is you need to squash bad attitudes the second they start. For example during the last progression raid we had on Cho’gall one of our tanks and one of our hunters started to blame each other for wipes and argue in raid chat, I told them if they didn’t stop arguing I would replace them within 20 seconds of them starting.

    If it has already gone too far for this to improve guild culture then you need your whole officer team to sit down and decide who the biggest problem children are. Then drag these people onto vent with at least 2 officers and tell them that their attitude is unacceptable and they need to improve or they will be kicked give them a time period to improve it over say two weeks.

    Never forget that you actually have a lot of power, guilds as good as yours aren’t always that easy to find and even if a player can find another guild at your level of progression it will cost them in transfer fees and they will have to go back to being a trialist again. You have to ask yourself what will be more painful in the long run, recruiting a replacement or playing with a problem player for the next 6 months. I don’t think you don’t need to sacrifice as much as you think for progression.

    On a side note I want to thank you for all of your guides I am sure that your heroic nef guide saved us many wipes, your guild has no idea how lucky they are to have you and I wish I had another officer like you on our officer team.

  10. This is sort of a weird proposition, but as a girl who GM’s a raiding guild and who identifies with SO much of this post, if you’d ever like a neutral ear that understands how you feel, I’d love to vent-chat you sometime. Sometimes venting to our partners (who play with us) is not what we need. Nor is it healthy or advisable to speak to other officers/guildmates. Sometimes they just won’t get it.
    If you would like an ear, I’m here =)

  11. I feel with you – unfortunately nobody who’s not into guild leading (a successful raid guild) himself, will ever understand how much sweat and tears goes into keeping the whole organization together by few officers (usually not even all of them, but maybe 2-3 max). You will never be in the situation to get nearly the appreciation you should, but in the end only you can give that to yourself. be proud of making so much possible, be proud to be such an important part and heart of your guild – even be proud to be such an invisible force. you know what you’ve done and thats what counts. I know this doesn’t always make up for a thank-you by others, but it’s important to never forget. :)
    and remember too, that you’re doing this for yourself as much as others. if this isn’t true anymore and you do indeed feel that the balance is off there and the price to pay too high for you personally, maybe it’s time to reconsider. I’m saying this with the best of intentions by the way, I know how it is to go too far and burn out.
    As an aside, I was somewhat surprised to read the comment about not being the ‘top healer’ for the night by your guildie; is that something you commonly point out after raids? this is very against my own idea of how healing teams should think and work, I wonder why you even allow such comments? they do nothing for morale or progress and there are no stars in a healing team, way too many factors play into healing meters. I’m sure you agree with me, so I’m just a tad surprised this is even being said to you (and it obviously did nothing to make you feel great).

  12. Hi Beru,

    First off, I echo what the others have said. You deserve a huge congratulations for not only *getting* to Sinestra, but downing her as well. That’s big and I hope you remember that and boast proudly of that achievement.

    I admit that I can’t say too much about what it’s like to be an officer or to be a GM. What I can say is that you’re not the only one who feels the community at large has changed in this expansion, both in the blogosphere and in the game. What I can is that people like you have certainly gone above and beyond to prevent it from getting any worse than it is and I think it’s folks like you that are keeping it that way. Think Thrall outside the Maelstrom, where he’s exerting himself to keep the world from tearing itself apart. Only you’re female and a Troll and a druid. You get what I’m saying.

    You do make a difference and you are making a difference and whether or not you’re explicitly being told that, you can look around at what you have helped create and support and know you had a hand in it. You can go to bed at night knowing these people probably would not have gotten this far without you. You know that other druids probably wouldn’t get this far without you and even other guilds. There are times to be humble and modest and then there are times where you know you’re pretty damn awesome and you deserve to marinate in that and enjoy it to the fullest.

    You do amazing work and I thank you for doing so.

    Thank you for the eloquent post and for everything else that you have done and that you will no doubt continue to do.

  13. I take and take and take from your blog and from your vids, and I rarely say ‘thank-you’ as I don’t consider myself estimable enough for that to count for anything much. But I hate that you are generally not getting the positive backwash you deserve from all the effort you put in across your WoW endeavours. THANK-YOU.
    Now, about this raider who needed to tell you about the meter. I get that you like and enjoy this person. But really, that comment was nothing short of nasty, and certainly unnecessary (you never would have looked at the logs, right?). A bit of the Jolly Green Giant happening in the background?

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