Thursday, July 10, 2014

3.75. Never Say Never Again

Si Team wraps "All You Can Eat (10 Player)",
completing Glory of the Icecrown Raider,
Icecrown Citadel

A Win is a Win

Sindragosa howled and filled my headphones with her threats, barking of betrayal. A barrage of arrows mixed amongst explosive buckshot loosed into the undead dragon's side as Bullshark and Cenadar strafed across her flank, their respective pets chomping in the hopes of hitting marrow. Neps and Lexxii zig-zagged across the platform while shields flashed around us, stopping occasionally as Penance spiraled out of their fingertips. Moolickalot the Boomkin dropped back, fading away from the iceblocked Phame. I watched for the timing to hand the bone dragon back to Klocker. The last remaining DPS came from Abrinis and Blain, maintaining their rotation, driving steel into bone. Her health dipped to 2%, then 1%. The flash of guild achievement spam signaled the fight's end. Si Team completed "All You Can Eat (10 Player)", the final meta necessary for Glory. And when it flashed up on the screen, cheers filled both Vent and the DoD guild chat. Finally, a 10-Man in the guild claimed completion of Glory of the Icecrown Raider...it was us.

Meanwhile, in another Vent channel, Eh Team ran back for their next attempt.

It had been neck-and-neck between Eh and Si in our collective attempts wrap up Glory. Of course, no official gauntlet had been thrown down, no line had been drawn in the forum sand. Nothing had ever been explicitly stated that this was a race. The competitive nature of raiding set us down this path. Beating Eh Team at anything stood on its own as a justifiable measure of accomplishment within the circle of cliques that populated DoD. Laying claim to the Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher certainly didn't hurt. It was a shame that no official rivalry had been digitally inked. As is often the case among "friendly" competition, being beaten in the absence of contractual obligations seemed to grant you a free pass...yet the reverse was nearly never the case. No player seemed concerned about a lack of officiating when they were the first to cross the finish line, and their chests were thumped with no less vigor. A win is a win.

Conveniently, losing the race suddenly doesn't hurt as much when you can tell yourself it wasn't a race.

"Gratz on sticking it to Eh Team," I whispered over to Blain.

"They're missing a few of their original roster." Big deal. So were we.

"Blain," I said, "you have my permission to enjoy the win. Just get the damn mailbox out already. Need to get screenies for the website."

Omaric swapped Vent channels, poking his head in to congratulate us on nailing the achievement. "Thanks, Om. Now get back in there and wrap it up! What's taking so long?" He chuckled before switching back to Eh Team's channel, a hint of indignance in his tone. I got the vibe, as if to say "Funny joke! Maybe you could take your joke and shove it straight up your ass." It's difficult to say exactly what was leaving a bad taste in his mouth, but losing Glory to Si Team by minutes didn't seem like it. Perhaps there was inter-Eh Team friction at play, drama we weren't privy to in our own private Vent channel. Perhaps he harbored resentment toward Blain pulling out another win, taking it personally; another lesson in leadership, as if to rub his nose in it without saying a single word. Or perhaps that tinge of disgust was more for me. Maybe I hadn't given him as much support as he needed as Raid Leader for the 25-Man, having to deal with being spoon fed help from a retired raid leader from a former era of WoW.

Or...maybe it was something else entirely.

Mature and members of Si Team pose with their
Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquishers,
The Storm Peaks

Cancelling Retirement

After collecting our mounts from the mailbox, I directed the members of Si Team to head toward The Storm Peaks for our victory shot. En route, I pulled Blain into the officer channel in Vent.

"Have you given it more thought?" I asked.

"He's definitely stepping down?" Blain responded with a question of his own.

"It's practically a done deal now. Omaric says he's fine with you taking back control of raid leadership whenever you want. He is completely done with it, chapter closed, end-of-story."

Bretthew's exit at the conclusion of 25-Man (normal) left Omaric to fend for himself, which most certainly contributed to additional pressure. He suffered a long history of struggling to take criticism and suggestions, and by this point, had expended all of his remaining energies as lead of the 25-Man. Blain's undercover adjustments kept the raid focused through those heroics, undermining Omaric's leadership in the process. Each whisper must have been like digital daggers in Omaric's eyes. Here's an example of why you're wrong. Here's another adjustment which proves you don't know what you're doing. But Blain never held animosity nor delivered malice with his adjustments. "Switch the tanks." "Let me call out the warnings." "Group further back on the steps for iceblock." What Blain typed and what Omaric read were two different things. Perhaps the differentiating factor was a simple lack of why such adjustments were needed.

Blain rarely explained himself. When he did, there were bigger problems at hand than simply re-positioning ourselves on the steps for iceblock.

"And Taba's out for good?"

"As far as I know."

"What was that all about, anyway?"

I took a deep breath. "Dunno, exactly...but I was pretty pissed off when he told me. He said something to the effect of 'killing the Lich King was my personal goal'...which apparently relieved him of any responsibility toward the 25-Man."

"Nice."

I popped open the roster and eyed the list of players that were still in Icecrown Citadel, Bretthew's name resting at the top. I guess another personal goal was Glory of the Icecrown Raider, Eh Team stylin'?

I took another deep breath and let the pulsing forehead vein subside.

"At least he stuck around as a backup while I got Kizmet situated."

Blain seemed disinterested in the whys or the why nots, "I don't know about all those crazy requirements you got now. I can't guarantee that I'll be there every. single. weekend."

The 25-Man progression team defeats Heroic Professor
Putricide, concluding "Heroic: The Plagueworks (25 Player)",
Icecrown Citadel

I shook my head instinctively, as if speaking to Blain face-to-face, "Don't let the fine print of the guild rules prevent you from taking up your old position. That's not what they're about, alright? The reason those rules are written like that is to prevent people from coming up with excuses to get away with shit you and I consider common sense. We avoided the catastrophe of TBC thus far, my plan is to continue to do so."

Blain remained quiet, which I can only assume meant he was still in contemplation. The group arrived in The Storm Peaks, and before long, were vying for position as the most prominent player in the shot.

"Look, you said yourself the raid's gone soft. This...mentality...of needing loot for progression has pretty much flourished under Om and Taba. I agree. I'm with you. I see it myself. This could be your last real chance to take control of the raid, and if the raids in Cataclysm are heading back to the difficulty of TBC, DoD's going to need someone like you to set them straight. I can't do that on my own. I'm gonna need some serious help from some serious folks."

"Ater was the one doing most of the research in the off-hours." It was as if Blain was giving me reasons to stay in retirement.

"That's no problem, I have a plan for putting people in place to take care of that for you. There are a few players left here that still give a shit, and they'll gladly step into that role...or whatever role...you need them to fill."

I thought back to those issues that manifested during Blain's career while at the head of the raid. Maybe it was best to revisit my stance on the most troublesome of those pain points.

"Remember, you will have all the support you need. The entire officer core would be behind your decisions. There will be no undermining, no questioning your strategies. I'm driving people to the forums for those discussions now. That haphazard shit is behind us. Too many cooks in the kitchen? We barely have enough now to fry up an egg."

"Who'll be my backup on the days I can't be there?"

I held back on naming names, only because I wanted to be 100% certain it was a done deal first. "I have a few people to talk to first, you let me worry about that. I'll put someone in place, that's my part of this deal. I have my eye on a couple sharp candidates already. Trust me. We can make this work."

Blain shifted amongst the crowd of frostwyrms in preparation for the historic shot. "Alright. I'm in for Cataclysm. After that, no promises."

"I'm fine with planning one expansion at a time. Anything beyond that, it's just a crap shoot by that point."

I positioned Mature in the middle, spun my camera around, and pressed the PRTSCR key. In a moment of daydreaming, my brain spun through the Warcraft lore, considering any number of possible futures beyond Cataclysm. I saw myself playing through The Frozen Throne, years before, guiding Rexxar alongside a familiar black-and-white bear.

"...I mean, Hell. For all I know, the next expansion will be filled with pandas."

Blain made his position abundantly clear, "The day they add pandas to this game will be the day I cancel my account."

The 25-Man progression team defeats Heroic Sindragosa,
finishing "Heroic: The Frozen Halls (25 Player)",
Icecrown Citadel

The Highest of Notes

Before officially retiring from leading the 25-Man progression team, Omaric pulled us through those last three meta achievements, all of which took the entire month of July to wrap. Heroic Professor Putricide was every bit as grueling as we expected, reminding us of the challenges we faced in the early days of raiding in Vanilla and TBC. It took three weeks of concerted, concentrated practice on the Professor, knocking out a kill on the 23rd of the month. Two days later, Sindragosa fell in her Heroic Mode, the progression team sprinting to the Lich King to knock out Neck Deep in Vile. And we did, in classic DoD fashion, in our famous last pull of the night. The raid had no qualms staying a few minutes late that Sunday evening, collecting their mounts and being captured in the guild's killshot.

DoD wraps the final meta, "Neck Deep in Vile (25 Player)",
earning "Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25 Player)",
Icecrown Citadel
DoD's last major accomplishment in Wrath of the Lich King was Glory of the Icebound Raider, granting the team their Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers. On that day of July 25, 2010, the team proudly hovered over the landing pad in Dalaran and their accomplishments were digitally etched into DoD's history.

The percentage of raw content we claimed victory over, no other expansion came close...nor ever would. We left three quarters of Naxxramas and one third of Ahn'Qiraj untouched in Vanilla (not to mention three of the four outdoor green dragons). In TBC, the entirety of the Sunwell Plateau was left behind. By comparison, only three bosses remained incomplete from the 25-Man perspective, and all three were in their heroic forms: Halion in Ruby Sanctum, Anub'arak in the Tournament of Champions, and The Lich King himself. It wasn't a 100%, but I'd take a 96% over an 80% and 60% any day of the week.

The 25-Man progression team shows off their
Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers,
Dalaran
From a camaraderie perspective, Descendants of Draenor couldn't have ended Wrath of the Lich King on a higher note. It was the first expansion we suffered no exodus; no massive group of players left us to greener pastures. And even in the day-to-day of wading through the celebrity of Enigma and their rise to prominence on Deathwing-US, we never lost a player to them...or to any competing guild that surpassed us in progression. The bonds of loyalty may have tensed, but withstood even the biggest of egos. Not even The Eh Team could be swayed to part ways with DoD; they never left our side, instead standing defiantly among the roster when approached by the competition. Wrath of the Lich King will forever remain the apex of Descendants of Draenor's success, from every angle.

Every angle but one.

6 comments:

Mike O'Connor said...

Awwww geez, what angle? I hate cliffhangers. Can't we get a preview or something of next week? I swear you're worse than HBO. XD

Good read as always sir. I impatiently await next episode as usual.

Anonymous said...

>Blain made his position abundantly clear, "The day they add pandas to this game will be the day I cancel my account."

Well, uh, that's awkward. XD

-Catelina, KT Alliance Holy Priest

Jungard said...

I'll sell some spoilers to the highest bidder. Who's with me?!

Jokes aside, it's pretty interesting to see the non-DoD followers waiting for the story to unfold, stepping back and reminiscing their own old WoW days.

For me, it's the second time through this particular story and the contrast between those perspectives is fun stuff to me. Back then, nobody could imagine that all the time we spent killing internet monsters together would result in this sort of weekly following.

It's also great that most of the juiciest stuff had very little to do with killing internet monsters, directly. When's this going to premiere on HBO?

Jungard said...

The best response I've gotten from 8YIA so far is getting recognized by a complete stranger on another server when somebody saw my name and whispered me asking, "Are you from Deathwing? The officer from the Descendants of Draenor blog?"

That was my 5 seconds of fame and I'm sticking to it.

Blain said...

I want be played by Christopher Walken!

"So, you know...Jungard...this really is..the best time......for you to stop out dpsing me."

"Get your...asses.....in gear!"

(And for Taba) "I don't care...how big.......your poops are"

bbr said...

How active are you of late - in regards to blogging compared to when you started WoW blogging?
Be a sport and drop by here: Linky here - calling all bloggers
I'm doing a writeup to see how many WoW bloggers are still "active" - if you'd be interested in a link exchange, just let me know, it'd be good for some extra pageviews ^,^