Archive for the ‘Raid Leadership’ Category

Monday Musings: Exhausted Edition   15 comments

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?

On Raiding

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 »

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?

Monday Musings: The Heroic Al’Akir Conundrum.   6 comments

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.

The Pickle

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 »

Posted April 25, 2011 by Beruthiel in Hard Modes, Raid Leadership, Raiding

Mailbag: Spirit Gear For DPS   23 comments

I received an email yesterday looking for some advice on how spirit gear should be handled when there is both a healer and a DPS that can make use of the item.  Since this is an issue that I think many guilds probably have to deal with on a regular basis, I thought it would be interesting to see how everyone handles spirit loot.  Below I’m going to provide the question as well as my response to the question.  But then I’d love to hear your take on the issue as well.

The Question

(Please note that I’ve taken the liberty of changing some specifics to generalities in both the question and my reply).

Last night we had a spirit item drop that both a healer and a DPS could use.  The healer and the DPS rolled… and the healer won.  After the raid a number of us were on vent and there was more talk about the DPS rolling on spirit gear.

 Our guild leader thinks it’s important to think about what is needed for the best of the raid and that healers need to get the gear first.  I, personally, have a serious problem with dps rolling on spirit gear and then also rolling on gear without spirit on it.   It just seems like double dipping on two loot tables when the healer only has one loot table to roll on. 

I went to EJ to see if there was a clearly defined answer to the question, and wasn’t able to find one.  However, what I did find was a note that said just because you CAN roll on spirit gear doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  Of course, the same note then also listed the contested item as BiS for this DPS class, so I’m trying to figure out how to deal with this situation when it comes up again in future raids.

What is your guild’s take on this?

My Answer

We open spirit gear up to: Moonkin, Elemental Shaman and Shadow Priests, as well as our healers and everyone is pretty much on equal footing for it.  Largely because so much of the gear is shared, and a lot of the spirit gear is also BiS for the DPS classes as well as the healers.

That being said, we do ask everyone to know what is BiS for them gearwise, and take that into account when they are asking for an item.  Sometimes when we are trying to decide where to award an item, we will ask the DPS class where it falls in their gear list before awarding it and take that into consideration.  If it’s an item that is BiS for them, and they won’t be replacing it with something else down the line, it’s equally open for them.  We don’t not award it to a DPS just because a healer wants it as well.  The converse is also true, however – I received my BiS weapon from Magmaw over a DPS, even though the weapon does not have spirit on it.

The only people that we really ever favor gearing up over others are our tanks – and only to a small degree.  In my opinion gearing your DPS is equally important as gearing your healers because DPS pushing a boss down faster will also make an encounter easier.  We really try very hard to gear our raid team equally, so that every member has equal gear to perform their job and so that our raid team grows at the same rate.

The item you referenced is really tricky, mostly because there are very limited options for that gear slot.  Because of the lack of options, and the fact that the DPS can make good use from the spirit on the item that did drop (and is his BiS), I probably would have given him equal opportunity to receive it.

As for looking forward – I would probably just ask your DPS to know what spirit options are good for them (they will have some BiS gear that contains spirit), and ask them to refrain from rolling on spirit gear that isn’t BiS for them unless your healers don’t need the item.  I think that should be a reasonable compromise on both ends, as it lets your DPS have an equal opportunity for gear upgrades that contain spirit, but also doesn’t put your healers in a bad spot either.

Regardless of my advice – I’m curious how other people handles spirit gear within their raid teams.  We have always been open and aware of “BiS” for people that may be “unconventional” – such as leather for warriors and cloth for shaman/druids in prior raid tiers.  We have always accepted that BiS is what it is, and trust that our raiders have spent the time to research their gear before asking for loot.  I’m curious, though, if we are just really open-minded in this respect.  What is your take on this topic?  If this email had come to you, how would you have responded?

Posted April 19, 2011 by Beruthiel in Community, Deep Thoughts, eh?, Raid Leadership

Sometimes It’s The Little Things   2 comments

I don’t think that it is unusual to have periods where you are frustrated with your guild.  In fact, I’d probably say that if you don’t experience these times you are probably living in denial of said frustration!  I think that frustrations have possibly run higher than usual in this tier of content: it’s a huge step up in difficulty, the hard modes are fairly unforgiving, and there is a lot of content to push through – which can be somewhat overwhelming.

I am likely not alone when I admit there are nights where I want to strangle my raid team.  Or when I admit that there are nights when I feel like I am perpetually giving my monitor the finger.   But I recognize that often times it’s so easy to focus on everything that is going “wrong” and forget to give equal attention to all of the things that are going “right”.  And often times it’s the little things that you forget to appreciate and notice.

Last night I had one of those moments where it was the little things that reminded me why I love my guild.

We’ve had a pretty good raid week the past couple of weeks.  We’ve cleared most of the content pretty efficiently, and have started working on Heroic Nef.  Last night we cleared just about all of the content we had left – and still had almost two hours of raid time.  So we decided to go ahead and head down and poke and Nef a little bit more – with some very specific goals on where we wanted to focus our time and improvements.  We took about 5 or 6 pulls, and in that short amount of time we made what I feel was some pretty significant progress on the encounter. 

But that isn’t the small thing that really made my night.

I mean, progress is always awesome.  But it’s also what I go into every raid expecting.  Rather it was what we did in the last 30 minutes of the raid that really made me appreciate some of the little things.  We decided after a bit of wiping on Nef that it might be good fun to go and tear up Stormwind a little bit (and idea I got from someone on Twitter).  Now, we’ve done other “fun” things to try and shake up the raid and engage people – and these activities are met with differing levels of excitement by the raid.  Some people love them, some not so much.

So when we announced that we would be heading to SW for the last 20 minutes or so of our raid, I had expected a few people to grumble or comment on how it was a waste of our time and ask if they could head out early.  Only that didn’t happen.  Not even close

What did happen was people seemed to get…excited.  We had people go fetch their PvP gear and vent got very chatty.  Several people asked if I would be FRAPing the run to put up on the website, and started offering suggestions for the music for the video clip.  We chuckled as we all tried to navigate the new and improved Stormwind (I’ve got to say – Garrosh hired the better interior decorator).  Even after we went in to meet with Mr. Wrynn – and were greeted by at least 100 Alliance and had our collective asses handed to us, people continued to enjoy the experience. 

There was much laughter as we watched an achievement for killing 2500 alliance in a capital city scroll across our screens – and even more laughter by those who hung around Org once we returned to our home town as we watched the alliance attempt to retaliate.

The simple fact that no one complained about our adventure, and that everyone truly seemed to have fun really just made my night.  I didn’t have to feel guilty about making a bad call.  I didn’t have to worry if someone was unhappy that we didn’t spend those last 20 minutes on another two Nef pulls.  And in all honesty – I think the kick back and opportunity to blow off some steam was good for everyone.

Sometimes the little things can really have a lot more value than the big ones.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to appreciate all of the little things – but it is important to remember them!  What little things have impacted you?

A Little Elbow Grease   11 comments

When I was a kid my parents had the Easter Bunny deliver me my very first two wheel bike for Easter one year.  They had probably saved for months to be able to afford it, and had likely stayed up until three in the morning assembling it – complete with training wheels, banana seat and flowered basket on the front.  My dad took me out that day and helped me up on it, and watched me wheel around completely in love with the gift.

After a period of time, it was decided that I had become proficient enough that it was time to take the training wheels off of the bike, and let me have a go on my own.  I remember my dad running behind me holding onto the back of the seat as I peddled furiously.  Knowing that he wouldn’t let me fall off the bike, I felt uninhibited.  I was a big girl now, look at me go! 

Of course, it was only a short time after, as I peddling around in a circle around the parking lot, that I looked over and saw my dad on the far side of the lot waving at me.  It took my mind a bit to connect that if Dad was standing over there waving at me, he most definitely wasn’t holding onto the back of the seat anymore and I was riding the “big girl” bike all by myself!  Yes!

Days went by, and then weeks, and I went out and rode my new bike around the parking lot (by myself!) without incident.  Mom or dad, or sometimes even the friendly neighbor lady from upstairs would keep an eye on me and cheer me on as I peddled along, content as could be. 

And then one day it happened.

I mean, it was bound to happen, right?  You dont learn to ride a bike without a scraped knee here and there.  But up to this point, I’d never really fallen off of my bike.  Truth be told, this is probably a very good thing because I’ve always pretty much been a wuss.  However, it was inevitable that at some point I was going to take a spill.  And sure enough, I did.  But not only did I manage to take a spill, I somehow managed to fall into a parked car with a dented bumper (only me…).  A scraggly thing, with sharp edges.

In addition to scraping my knee, I cut a massive gash in my right index finger on the bumper of the parked car.  And it bled.  Profusely.  And I panicked and started screaming, sending my mom, dad and the neighbor lady from upstairs on a mad dash to see what had happened to me.  As parents do, they got me all patched up, and calmed me down.  The cut was bad enough that I still have the scar on my finger to this day – but I also still have my finger

Of course, the entire incident shattered my confidence and I refused to ride my bike again unless my dad would come out with me and make sure I didn’t fall off again.  In fact, I was so terrified of falling off of the bike that I would constantly look over my shoulder to make sure that he was still there and hadn’t pulled his trick shenanigans making me think he was there but really not.

However, as time passed, so did my fear of falling off the bike again.  I regained my confidence and was eventually back to peddling my way to glory all on my own.  To this day I’m still terrified of falling off of my bike, I am still a giant wuss, but those things don’t stop me from getting on a bike.  I didn’t quit just because I fell down, in fact my parents made it a point to make sure I didn’t quit by dusting me off and putting me back on the bike – even if I needed the security of my Dad’s help for a bit.

Hey Beru, great story!  But this is a WoW blog, what exactly does this have to do with anything?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted April 8, 2011 by Beruthiel in /rant, Deep Thoughts, Raid Leadership, Raiding

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?  Read the rest of this entry »

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