With my most trusted advisor now gone from Descendants of Draenor, I began the process of filling in the necessary gaps. Ater not only acted as Warrior officer, he was my 2nd-in-command of the guild; I had two promotions to make. The Warriors would need guidance. For that, I turned to Kurst, a loyal raider, guild member, and friend, since the early days of Vanilla. Kurst fell into my age group, a little older, perhaps a bit wiser, but was eager to help, and always put the good of the guild before his own agenda. I appointed him Warrior officer, and empowered him to start taking command. As for my number two, I needed someone strong, someone who didn’t put up with a lot of shit, and whom I could entrust to enforce my rules while I was offline. This approach, I felt, would stymie any possible excuse the raiders may give to go AWOL. The only viable option for this 2nd-in-command post was Dalans, a fiercely dedicated Druid of the guild, and steadfast raider since as far back as Ater. Dalans had taken charge of the Druids and kept them in shape for many moons, and his no-nonsense style of dealing with whiners and complainers (QQers, as we have come to know them) would suit my expectations of the role. With Dalans and Kurst newly promoted, I felt the holes in the dam had been plugged adequately. For now.
It was about this time that a new Mage named Wyse joined Descendants of Draenor. She was fresh out of the guild Hoax
To my surprise, Wyse began sending me IMs duing the day, while I was at work. I had never made my contact information a secret, and had a number of the players in the guild on IM, but they rarely contacted me. Usually, it was to send over a funny link, or to ask about a specific raid rotation. Otherwise, IM remained silent. Only one player consistently spoke to me over IM: Ekasra, the Shaman whom I planted firmly in my healing spot the day I retired Kerulak to begin bringing a Shadow Priest to our raids. Ekasra and I chatted throughout the week, but it was reserved to short bursts. He would fire off questions on how to deal with certain social situations, and I’d give him my honest answers. He’d thank me, and then go off and apply what he learned (hopefully). We’d rarely chat away for hours about nothing; our conversations were short and to-the-point. So, it was quite different to begin getting IMs from a guildy who wanted to have long conversations about anything and everything.
Wyse was full of focus and energy about raiding. Almost immediately, she dug her heels in on Gurtogg Bloodboil, the next boss in Black Temple the raid team was working on. The Mage officer, Goldenrod, expressed initial surprise at her performance; we were becoming accustomed to picking up sub-par players from failed guilds. It was a breath of fresh air to see a stranger join the roster, and perform well above mediocrity from day one. What I picked up on immediately was that she was a well-rounded Mage; she not only pushed out competitive damage, she proactively decursed without being asked--a problem the other Mages continually suffered from. She was also chatty in vent, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I implored the raid team to communicate, and more often than not, female raiders would remain quiet (for their own various reasons), but Wyse never had this issue.
After the fall of Gurtogg Bloodboil, she was back IMing me the very next day. Wanted to see DPS charts. How did measure up against Goldy, Dandrak, Turtleman? What was schedule for the next raid? How quickly could she start putting together Shadow Resistance gear for Mother Shahraz? I was overwhelmed. Sometimes it felt like I could count the number of players that were this passionate about the guild’s progression on one hand. To have someone brand new to the guild be this excited about completing Black Temple, well...I was thankful. Thankful that she hit the ground running, that her initial numbers were impressive on the meters, and that she was genuinely thrilled to be a part of us.
Gurtogg fell by our hand on June 1st, 2008. and we were still frantically putting together a roster of players for Mother Shahraz that Blain could give his approval to. Now, not only did I have to deal with the luxury of keying requirements for players, I also had to vet their shadow resistance gear. In order to keep progress at a reasonable pace, while maximizing our opportunity to gear the bench, Blain made the decision to start splitting the Friday and Sunday raids into an A-Team / B-Team run. This would allow us to take undergeared folks to Mount Hyjal on Friday, and use them to springboard the more experienced, geared group ahead into Black Temple. This, in turn, would give us more time to work on the latter bosses: Mother Shahraz, The Illidari Council, and eventually, Illidan the Betrayer himself.
It was clear after speaking with Blain and Goldenrod that Wyse belonged in the A-Team. In only a few short weeks, she’d proven herself to meet all the needs of a core progression raider that would contribute to the defeat of Illidan. Thus, rotations were adjusted. Wyse very quickly found herself rotated out of Mount Hyjal and into Black Temple, which she expressed some concern around, noting lesser skilled folks taking her spot. Once I made it clear she was needed for the bleeding edge group that was driving progression, her concerns were quelled. She continued to deliver competitive DPS, and was soon pushing even the Mage officer himself down the meters. By June 22nd, Mother Shahraz had met her fate to our progression raiders, and from a purely analytical standpoint, Wyse had achieved the number one spot for our Mages, dominating both damage and decursing.
It was clear at this point that Wyse would be essential to our next encounter, The Illidari Council. The Illidari Council was a unique encounter in which four bosses worked together, sharing the same health pool, and via a combination of abilities, kept an entire 25-man raid busy with monitoring stuns, heals, interrupts, positioning, and so on. It required an exceptional amount of control and communication, and pushed everyone’s spatial awareness to their extreme. Blain’s strategy called for one of the four Council members, High Nethermancer Zerevor, to be range-tanked by a Mage, a very common strat at the time. This would be Wyse’s opportunity to shine. In proving herself within such a short period, she met all the requirements for a role of this responsibility. And, as expected, she dove in head first. She was back IMing me daily on Mage specs for the tank, positioning, how the pull would be done, how to best handle emergencies. I was again impressed at her capacity to take charge of the role, and deliver top performance.
The problem with rising to the top is that it becomes much easier for others to be critical of your flaws.
Because Wyse talked to me on almost a daily basis, I had insight into her personality and quirks that others did not. She was a younger, passionate gamer, layered on top of all the complexities the female gender bestows upon us. She had her mannerisms, her nuances, her likes and dislikes, and she was affected emotionally by her world, both in real life, and in-game. Many of the guild were not privy to this. Their exposure to Wyse was completely limited to their observations of her in-game. The luxury of relying on World of Warcraft to interact with one another in a social environment is that one lacks the capacity to gain cues from body language. This is further exacerbated by a loss of tone-of-voice if one completely remains out of Ventrilo. All that is left is plain text on the screen, free of sarcasm, context; in short, it lacks a human component that must be extrapolated by the viewer.
Some viewers, as it turns out, don’t possess the insight to do this extrapolation, nor care to.
First on the “do-not-care” list was Dalans. Having a low tolerance for bullshit was his credo, and he was one of the first to start expressing distaste at Wyse. Although he appreciated her performance in raids, he disliked Wyse’s tone of voice regarding people needing to improve, which came across to him as “I’m awesome, why aren’t the rest of you?”. Poorly chosen words in the heat of the moment was often the difference between an inspiring comment, and a condescending one. Dalans also grew annoyed at Wyse’s exceedingly verbose addons, which would spam the raid channel with excess information about players lacking buffs, standing in fire, requiring a decurse, and so on. This began to drive a new behavior my raid team picked up, which was to silently /ignore other raiders--which they conveniently forgot to remove, post-raid. You can imagine the effect this would have on the unsuspecting player during off-raid hours. Wyse would ask a question in guild chat, and get little-to-no response. In terms of working together as a team, this was far from it. We lacked an official stance on addons, beyond my compelling the raiders to use whatever they felt necessary; it never dawned on me that some would become oppressive.
Other officers expressed a similar sentiment to me. Both the Mage officer, Goldenrod, and my healing officer, Breginna, conveyed to me that Wyse was an outstanding player, but that she needed desperately to work on toning down her criticism of others, which was especially hard to swallow coming from a brand new guildy. Players would take one look at her “suggestions” and think who the hell is this person to tell me how to play? I've been here for years. For Wyse, it wasn't criticism, she was mentoring, trying to offer assistance and help to those around her. I got this from our daily IMs. She desperately wanted the team to succeed, but lacked the diplomacy skills necessary to convey this without offending people. It was not unlike Blain's own abrasiveness regarding honesty about a player’s skill level. The difference, of course, is that the raid team had no choice when Blain dropped the hammer: He was the raid leader, and they were obligated to follow his direction. As for Wyse, no such obligation existed. Animosity grew between the players and Wyse, which created a complex juxtaposition of concerns: How do I deal with a star performer that the guild is growing to loathe?
Managing Wyse would turn out to be a much greater challenge than I initially assumed.