|Sir Klocker displays his Tabard of the Lightbringer, while|
Neps and Ben (Aeden) stare into the light,
Doing the Devil's WorkPreoccupation defined the weeks ahead. Mapping it all out helped focus on the solution, rather than languish on the inevitable. Getting the dots on the page, connecting each one, painting the picture of where we were, and what we were about to take on. I followed in the footsteps of my Wrath rewrite, building on what had already proven successful. A bump to the minimum age requirement. The handling of the 25-Man progression team. New ranks. Loot rule revisions. It was the path to Cataclysm; the mother of all to-do lists. Knocking out a bit each night was also healthy. Idle minds are far more sinister than hands, and mine had a tendency to chip away at positivity. Keeping busy kept the inner voice at bay.
If I wasn't raiding, I was back in Google Docs, scribbling digital notes, analyzing lessons learned from Wrath. How had the Raider / Elite ranks worked out? My gut said overwhelming success, but there were still edge cases like Ben: expertly played, yet still immature enough for me to exercise restraint in promoting. The shadow priest that was equally loved and loathed in DoD struck me as a kind of gun-for-hire, showing up conveniently at Lord's behest, then exploding enemies with an ear-piercing digital scream. He had his own code, but honored DoD's as well. Romanticizing Ben's loyalty might have been a stretch, but there were hints of a Samurai in there. The prospect of a third rank warranted further investigation.
Thinking of Ben chained into thoughts of other candidates rising above, particularly the warlock Mangetsu. His bursts of silliness macro'd into raid chat were mixed wonderfully with steadfast determination at "rocking the meters". I dropped the Alt-25 on his shoulders and he rose to the occasion, not only taking it on, but cultivating progression-quality expectations in the process. He took a rag-tag bundle of players not quite ready (or able) to hit progression, and schooled them in the ways of the guild. Mang was professionally played, yet humble. Serious enough to lead, yet loved laughing and making people laugh. Officer material, but not an officer. Something needed to be done, because there were more like him. Most notable of these newer faces was the paladin Drecca.
A meteoric rise to stardom wasn't pushing it. Drecca joined DoD at the most opportune time: Bretthew was "done" at the wrap of 25-Man ICC (normal), leaving Omaric to shoulder the raid-leadership load by himself...and not the easy part. He tired of his tanking role and I wanted to free him to join DPS, but that meant a dedicated tank filling that spot...and certainly not one that required training. Drecca required neither training nor flexibility in his schedule: he began one Friday and was present every progression night from that point forward. From the moment we hit go, Drecca behaved like the most expertly played folks in the guild. It wasn't long before you couldn't really tell the difference between him and a long-time, weather-worn veteran of DoD.
|Team BoA Alliance defeats The Lich King in 10-Man,|
In a guild where there is no mandate to be online for x amount of hours, I was very thankful for the select few that were always available, and Drecca was certainly near the top of this list. Beyond his participation in both progression and Alt-25, the paladin answered Neps' call in joining up with a group of similar hardcore folk. Neps' challenge: roll Alliance alts, and with BoA gear, grind them up to 80 and knock out ICC again. And so with names like Phame, Moolickalot, Fishee, Sarge and others, Team BoA Alliance wrecked the Lich King by bringing three bloodlusts. In Drecca's words, it was an "undeniably pro strategy." It was fair to say I was colored impressed:
Hanzo » Drecca: (+5) For being hardcore enough to level Alliance characters and kill the LK again.
Drecca held the limelight so well, I wasn't even aware that Neps was the one responsible for the idea.
"You really have him wrapped around your finger, don't you?" said Blain, catching me off guard.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Blain noted the green text of guild chat. People were up in arms over the proposed incoming changes to Real ID. In typical form, players that didn't understand what was involved were bent out of shape. It appeared Drecca's stance was that of my own: It's a bit too early to be freaking out over any proposed sweeping changes. Nothing's in stone. Keep calm and loot the hound.
"He uses your name like you're the leader of a cult."
I continued to scroll through guild chat. Yadda yadda yadda, I agree with Hanzo. Yadda yadda yadda, Hanzo's got a post on the forums. Yadda yadda yadda, if you don't believe me, check with Hanzo.
"So what? He's keeping the peace. It's nice to see players moderating. Guy's only been here a few months and already knows what's inappropriate to be bitching about."
"I changed my mind," he added, "I don't like him. He's too negative." Negative about what? Blain was being indignant. Or jealous. He of all people should have known that hard truths don't often come with a silver lining. It struck me as ironic that Blain, who had been called 'dictator' by those unappreciative of stark criticism, was telling me that a practical rebuttal was coming across as 'negative'.
Why obsess over things that might be? Let's solve problems we face in the here and now. I could spend these next few months buried beneath layers of doubt and depression, wallowing over what might transpire in Cataclysm. Or, I could sit down and attack it with every bit of energy at my disposal. We might go down, we might not...but we wouldn't be doing either without a fight.
I needed pragmatism now. I needed folks to be the pillars of DoD by marching forth with solutions, not long diatribes on how Blizzard's great conspiracy is to rob people of their money or their privacy. That meant calling upon anyone in the guild that could act as the best and brightest of us, reinforcing what it means to be in DoD. That you give a shit. That you're not looking to make excuses. Let's all be on the same page.
And if players like Drecca chose to invoke my name to add some punch to that reinforcement, so be it.
|Blain summons Mature for tanking duty,|
Corporate MisalignmentI faced a sickening decision: banish all 10-Man teams from Descendants of Draenor. The thought crossed my mind increasingly as summer vacation approached. 10s had traditionally been an afterthought in DoD, so much so that our earliest 10s managed to send hardcore raiders scurrying to new guilds. Lesson learned: don't forsake its importance in progression if the 10 and 25 are tightly coupled...say, for example, on the off-chance Blizzard randomly decided to include tier 4 tokens in Karazhan.
Luckily, I was able to side-step administrative scrutiny of the 10s in Wrath, thanks to Blizzard's very clean, well-drawn line in the sand. 10s and 25s were two different worlds. Different effort, different reward. All my focus could therefore be poured entirely into the 25-Man. Aside from general guidance, I left the 10s to fend for themselves. And they performed admirably, I might add. Aside from the occasional misunderstanding regarding poaching, the 10s managed themselves. Starflex did its thing independent of Eh Team, which in turn had no need to submit to the whim of Si Team or Cowbell. They set their own schedules, their own priorities, their own loot systems. As long as their overarching goals remained aligned with that of DoD's, they required no intervention.
The thought of potential 10-Man administration in Cataclysm gave me pause. Not many details were yet in stone, so I worked with what was available. The most recent reveal came a month earlier, providing insight into a concept the community referred to as downshifting. 25-Man raids would gain the ability to split into multiple 10s to further their progress. Additionally, the raid lock system would gain flexibility in that Raid IDs would be as tradable as Pokémon cards, freeing players to move from one lock to the next in order to proceed through the instance. On top of all of this, Blizzard clarified once again that while 10s were intended on being easier in Wrath, this was not to be the case in Cataclysm.
Piecing together a solution was difficult, as little of it made sense. Would it become commonplace for players to hop Raid IDs, exacerbating the potential for poaching? It certainly could! I would have to put rules in place to govern how the 10s interacted with one another, carefully outlining the etiquette for exchanging members without burning bridges. Would the 25-Man progression team start spouting excuses on "why aren't we just dropping to 10-Man to finish this?" Blizzard claimed the two difficulties would match, but would my most hardcore raiders be convinced? The 25-Man raiding rules would have to include clarifying text: "Dropping to 10-Man will not be considered as an option to overcome obstacles". I suspected many would secretly think it, whether told or not. The one thing players were good at were giving me reasons to doubt their alignment with the guild -- so much so, that an entire rule was crafted to shutter the lack of common-sense.
None of these changes (and their to-be-determined solutions) spoke to an undeniable fact: as long as loot/rewards remained equal, the 10s would forever undermine the work that was being done in the 25. I already learned this lesson when adopting The Five Dysfunctions of a Team into Why Raid Teams Fail. Two different levels of contribution with one set of rewards produces resentment, hatred, in-fighting -- all viruses to team health. Yet, this is what I was facing. Preference A vs. Preference B. Old-schoolers vs. scrubs. The personable vs. the awkward and anti-social. The rep-grinders vs. the altoholics. The gamer mentality vs. "I prioritize real life first!". Solutions vs. Excuses. The melding didn't strike me as an incredibly alien concept -- it happens in the real world all the time. When it does, the results often end so predictably bad, it's a running joke in professional circles. Alignment seemed nigh impossible; a stretch, at best.
So...set a new rule to cut that 10-Man cancer out before it spreads? Or become the cliché mirrored in corporate America?