Archive for the ‘Raid Leadership’ Category
While I am still quite disappointed with the state of druid healing, I thought I’d take a bit of a break on my continuing evaluation on the state of resto druids to talk about something else today. Progression. (Don’t worry, I do have a two week follow up coming this week and I will get back to it, I just need to talk about other things for a bit). I’ve had a few people ask me how we decided to approach progression this tier, so I thought I’d go ahead and give a few thoughts on our decisions with regards to progression as a guild for this unwieldy first tier in the expansion.
However, before I get to that, I thought I’d spend a few sentences talking about something else that is related in a tertiary fashion and has been on my mind: the T14 gating.
When the gating was announced, I remember being very excited about it because the amount of content being released as T14 was staggering in the number of encounters presented, and subsequently overwhelming. I still like that there was gating for it, but it the execution of this particular gating was a little…clunky. Which, in turn, means that I didn’t care for how this content was gated. What ultimately happened was that when Mogu’shan Vaults was released there was a large period of time before the next zone was released. This meant that your above average guild was able to clear the zone, and then subsequently work on a few heroics while waiting for the new content. However, when the new content released, you stopped your heroic progression push to clear the new normal mode zones – and then two weeks later had another new zone to tackle. And then, only after that, would your progression push be back to heroics.
The problem I had with this was that the long period of gating with the first raid disjointed what is normal progression, that is to say that most people would push all of their normal mode content and then start heroics once that was cleared. And I’d wager a fair bet that most heroics are tuned with the expectation of having gear from all three of the zones. This meant that everything with progression was just thrown off by the awkward way that the content was presented. In hindsight, I wish that the gating was more fluid and smooth or that heroic content was approached differently. Should Blizzard opt to gate content this way again, I hope that they make that decision from the outset of the development of the content so that progression isn’t quite as disjointed.
Planning for T14 Progression
Ok, so now that is out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about how we decided to attack T14 progression. Read the rest of this entry »
Today I’m going to share a few things with you, not all of them pretty. The first of those things is that I’m a total consumer of trashy gossip magazines. And TV shows of similar ilk. I’m not sure I should tell you how many times I’ve had a subscription to People or that I’m considering snagging the e-publication version as we speak (don’t judge me!), I swear I buy them for the articles! And if E! has a True Hollywood Story on, you can bet I’m glued to the TV. Ok, ok, I’ll come clean – the same is true for any Behind the Music or Top 100 (insert something here) countdown. (Seriously, don’t judge!).
Anyhow, I have a point. Lest someone feel the need to advise my that my incredibly shallow taste in entertainment is…well, incredibly shallow (hint: I’m aware), I suppose I should probably get to it.
The other night I was watching a countdown of the 40 Most Shocking Moments. And one of the top ten moments was Britney Spears’ public meltdown – maybe it was even in the top three, I don’t remember now. But you know the one I’m talking about; the one where she shaved her head, completely fell apart and lost custody of her kids. Now in the commentary they actually had some people who were rooting for Britney talk about her meltdown, as opposed to the I’ve-never-heard-of-you-before comic tossing out jabs that is the norm. And one of the things that they said about her was that it was that moment she hit rock bottom. That in every crisis, there has to be a rock bottom. And once you’ve finally hit it you can start your climb back up.
Well, folks, I hit rock bottom. Read the rest of this entry »
Caveat: This post is somewhat unorthodox in that it is actually a repost of something that I posted for my guild today on our forums. We have had, arguably, two of our best nights working on heroic Rag – yet everyone’s morale (including mine) seems to be tanked. Because of that, I spent a lot of time last night thinking. And, ultimately, this is what came out of those thoughts. The reason that I’ve reposted it here, is because I am somewhat fascinated with the fact that of everything else – this is where my brain made a connection. And I think the topic and similarities in and of themselves are extremely interesting. As such, I thought it was something that a lot of my readers would enjoy and would spark a fair bit of conversation, which in turn I think would be equally as fascinating. I am very much looking forward to everyone’s thoughts. However, since standing alone it may read a little strangely, I thought that adding context was important.
I am not an overly religious person, but at some point in my education I was tasked with reading a play called J.B.. It is exceptionally good, if you are interested in it, and I believe it even won a Pulitzer prize. Anyhow, the play is essentially a modern day version of The Book of Job, which consequently I was also tasked with reading.
Right about now, you are probably wondering why the fuck I am bringing this up, and exactly what does it have to do with raiding. Well, I’ll get there. Eventually.
The Book of Job
As I said above, I’m not really a very religious person, but the story of Job really resonated with me and is something that has provoked many of my thoughts and outlooks. The Beru’s notes (I’m trademarking that shit as soon as I’m done typing this…) version of the story goes something like this (please forgive me any missteps that I may have in my retelling of the story, and note that I’m not going to go into much of the theological debate surrounding the story, as I’m hardly qualified to do so):
Job is an incredibly pious man. Satan comes to God and theorizes that the only reason that Job is as devout as he is, is because God has afforded him many luxuries in life and Job has never really known hardship. Satan and God have a debate about it, and eventually Satan asks God if he can prove his point by testing Job. God agrees to permit it. Over time Satan, with God’s blessing, takes away everything that Job had and cared about – his family, his livelihood, his home. Job’s wife pleaded with Job to forsake a God who could be so cruel, and yet Job was unmoving in his beliefs and devotion. Read the rest of this entry »
I had a dream last night that we killed Heroic Ragnaros.
In a swimming pool.
Well, more on the deck of the swimming pool. There were only five people alive: myself, our moonkin, our two tanks and another healer (but I can’t for the life of me remember who it was). The tanks kited Rag around the deck of the pool. And myself and the moonkin were on a white mat on the deck. And I screamed at ANYONE who got close to our mat, much like Joe Pa might when it is clear the Ref cashed the other team’s check before the game. DON’T YOU STEP ON THAT MAT AND BLOW US UP! I SWEAR TO CHRIST I WILL KICK YOUR ASS ALL THE WAY TO CANADA IF YOU DO! The tanks ran round and round. The moonkin dps’d. And I…screamed. A lot.
When he died, everyone jumped into the pool in celebration with our moonkin doing a cannonball to put all other cannonballs in history to shame. And then I woke up and remembered that no, he wasn’t dead. Yes, we are some 300 odd pulls into the fight and still haven’t killed him. I wanted to curl back up and find sleep again, in that dream where it was all over. Read the rest of this entry »
So one of my guildmates found the following comic over at Dark Legacy Comics yesterday and joked that “today’s comic was you, Beru”. So I went over to have a look at it. And do you know what? It is a pretty accurate representation of the progression of my emotions as we go through our Heroic Rag raid nights! Enjoy!
If you enjoyed the comic, I encourage you to go and check out their other comics and leave feedback!
Over the past week we’ve heard a lot about Blizzard’s decision to nerf Firelands. People who are in favor of the changes. People who are opposed to the changes. People who think there are better ways to deal with making the content more accessible. Since Tuesday, we’ve also had a lot of feedback from people who went in and experienced the content first hand. “It’s a joke”. “Seriously, no challenge”. “LOL NERFED!”.
Now, we had our first raid since the nerfs last night. We cleared to Heroic Rag in two hours without incident. But I’m not here to talk to you about how easy I felt the content may have been. I’m not here to tell you how the nerfs may have ruined the challenges of Firelands. I’m here with a proposition for you.
Create Your Own Challenges
This is what I said to my raid last night as we stepped foot into Firelands. Just because the content is now easier, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still challenge for you. It’s just a different kind of challenge. Where before perhaps an encounter challenged you, now you must challenge yourself. Easier doesn’t mean that you still can’t push yourself harder. Read the rest of this entry »
Monday. You know, I often ponder why everyone hates Monday so much. Sure, it’s the start of a new week. Sure, it means that the long haul to the weekend is just beginning. But I think I’d love it if someone had a much more positive outlook regarding Mondays. How about a TGIM button? No? Alright, fine. I suppose instead I’ll offer my (somewhat) weekly brain dump here. RIGHT AFTER I GO TO KINKO’S FOR TGIM BUTTONS FOR YOU ALL!
On Raiding and Mistakes
We did well this week, and I’m quite pleased with how we performed. Mostly. We snagged a heroic Shannox kill in roughly 10 pulls on Wednesday night and then started to put some work on Heroic Rhyolith Thursday evening. It did not go as well as we’d have liked it to go, and it was clear that we needed to shore some things up in our strategy. So there was lots of conversation about what to fix, how to fix it, etc. And we decided that we’d take two hours of time on Sunday to continue working Rhyolith. Read the rest of this entry »
Folks, I’m tired. Literally exhausted – as opposed to metaphorically exhausted. Although I suppose that there is a a little from the later as well. However, I was up most of the night with a toothache last night and so if I seem slightly incoherent or completely off my rocker, it’s because I’m pretty much fueled on 100% caffeine right now. I am also craving a calzone, but have no clue where to obtain said desire from my office. Anyhow, let’s move on to the musings, shall we?
We are currently working through out last Hard Mode – Heroic Ascendant Council. And I’m going to be brutally honest here, I’ve about had it with the fight. To the point that I almost don’t even care if we kill the damn thing. And here’s the kicker – our failing is 100% our lack of execution in phase 2. I find that I’m completely out of words to say to people short of “please just stop fucking up and pay attention to what is going on around you, because if you fail this mechanic one more time, I swear to christ I’m going to reach through my monitor and chew your ass in person”.
I mean, I’m at a loss. The second phase of the encounter is 100% about personal responsibility – and there is no one that can control that aside from the player responsible. And it’s frustrating the ever living hell out of me. And you know what, I’m going to just go ahead and say it: phase 2 of this fight is just fucking stupid. There. That felt pretty good. I get that fights should be challenging – and I enjoy that. But there gets to be a point where too much is too much, and encounters cross the line from fun and a “challenge” to ridiculous and frustrating.
I feel that this encounter has reached that point. Any fight where one person’s error can irreversibly fail your raid, is not fun. It’s just not. Should there be consequences for failing a mechanic? Yes. Should the failure of one individual cause the entire raid to end up on their ass, and running back for another attempt? No. I do think that consequences should be devastating - but I also think that you should have at least a chance, even if it’s tiny, to succeed with strong teamwork should an error occur. It is not fun for the person struggling with the mechanic (and knowing they were the reason the raid wiped), nor is it fun for the raid.
Not only that, but with Firelands breathing down our neck, I’m feeling incredibly pressured to push us through this monstrosity of a fight (pun intended, har). And to continue being honest, it’s taking its toll on me and I’ve found myself not only growing increasingly negative – but becoming a person that I don’t like in the process. After last night’s raid, I literally needed to step back and re-ground myself. Remind myself of my own goals, who I am as a person – and how I want to be as a leader.
I’m all ears if anyone has tips or tricks they use to keep people from blowing each other up during Phase 2. Lord knows I’m neck deep in frost orbs and chain lightning right now. Read the rest of this entry »
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?
I’ve put myself in a bit of a pickle. Not the friendly kind of pickle that you may have played with your coach during baseball practice, but rather the kind that you see in a world series game where the players are vicious and it’s only going to be resolved through a risk on the runner’s part or the baseman’s part. The kind of pickle that generally ends with the runner sliding into his base and a somewhat dubious call being made by the umpire that everyone will contest anyhow and will be analyzed in close up replays for the next four episodes of sportscenter.
A few weeks ago Brade and I began discussing Heroic Al’Akir, and more specifically were discussing how a lot of guilds were doing it on 10 man as opposed to 25 due to the relative ease of the encounter on 10 man. The pros to taking this approach were plentiful, including getting a set token that can be used for head/shoulders, and getting some experience with the encounter, which would be of benefit for everyone in the guild. We figured we could take in a solid group to learn the fight over a night or two, and then rotate people in for the fight until we were ready to tackle it on 25s. Read the rest of this entry »