Thursday, August 30, 2012

2.5. My Second Mistake

Kerulak and a crew of nine core
raiders take on The Curator,

The Re-invite Gone Wrong

As you can imagine, the surge of interest in Karazhan shot through the roof. While before, Ater had to piece together players that were online and available, he now had his pick of the litter. By the second attempt at running the instance, many more players possessed the key to Karazhan. So, when it came time to put together the next run, Ater simply walked down the list of available keyed players, picking familiar names first -- many of whom who had come from 40-Man core. News of Attumen's mount dropping certainly played a role in this increased interest, this burst of vigor to wrap up Karazhan attunement, and be a part of his next run. With all these factors changing Ater's option the second time around, you can probably also imagine the likelihood that someone would be left behind that second run.

On this day, that someone ended up being Baite.

The reason could have justifiably been anything. It could have been that Baite was simply a few minutes late in getting online that night. Or, perhaps Ater felt that with such a grand reward as the mount, it would be fair to let someone else get a chance to see the instance. Maybe Ater simply wanted to try someone else out, in an attempt to spread loot further across our potential 25-Man raiding roster. Whatever the exact reason was, it came from the mind of Ater at that precise moment in time -- and not off of any rule we had ever etched into stone. It was the same thought process that went into a 5-Man. Who is available? Great! Let's go! The perception of a 10-Man continued to permeate our subconscious in the exact same manner as the 10-Mans of yore. It was just a glorified, more involved 5-Man. It didn't require the same formality and logistics to coordinate as our progression raid.

I, like Ater, was hung-up on the most obvious attribute of Karazhan: It was smaller. We missed the larger part it played in the big picture of TBC's progression. The roster would suffer because of this oversight.

Kerulak and co. work on Nightbane,

Subtle Ambiguities

To this day, the implementation of Tier 4 boggles my mind. Tier 4 pieces were acquired in both 10-Man raids and 25-Man raids; it was through the completion of Karazhan, Gruul's Lair, and Magtheridon's Lair together that would comprise the first tier of raids in The Burning Crusade. Technically, we knew that Karazhan was an official raid. But the guild had already made its mind up about the significance that a 10-Man played in the big picture of raid progression: next-to-nil. We certainly weren't forcing people to run 10-Man Scholomance during the days of Molten Core, so it wasn't even a consideration to formalize it. Even the ZG and AQ20 runs were thrown together ad-hoc, filling spots with whomever was available, coordinating it by word-of-mouth.

This perception, unfortunately, masked us from Karazhan's most relevant differences between the 10-Mans we were familiar with from Vanilla, and the 20-Mans that were added later. Not only did a treasure trove of off-set gear diminish the importance that two of the Tier 4 tokens were directly acquired within Karazhan, we failed to notice take into account its raid lock. Karazhan reset every 7 days, just like the 25-Man raids, and exactly as the 40-Mans before it. But if the Tier 4 tokens and its reset timer weren't enough to convince us, one final undeniable fact remained:

The completion of Karazhan was a prerequisite of attunement for 25-Man raids to follow.

The Cudgel of Kar'desh, picked up deep within Heroic: The Slave Pens set TBC raiders upon a two-part quest to unlock Serpentshrine Cavern. One part would require the death of Gruul the Dragonkiller. The other part involved the summoning and eventual slaying of an enormous bone dragon of fire and brimstone, Nightbane. Nightbane was summoned within Karazhan. These were the hooks that made Karazhan a very real, albeit inconvenient, part of 25-Man progression in TBC. Inconvenient logistically, as the 25-Man team now had to have very real rules applied to it when breaking apart to run Karazhan. Loot had to be tracked. Teams had to shaped and set-in-stone, to prevent confusion, misunderstandings and hard-feelings. And a very specific path of players needed to be organized so that we keyed everyone for the core as fast as possible.

We did none of these things.

Nothing existed in writing that alluded to 10-Man teams in our guild's rules and regulations. No formalization had ever been attempted to nail down 10-Man raiding. And why? Because they had always been handled off-the-cuff, a product of our family mentality running off of unwritten rules; common-sense that was shared among the core raid team through a mutual understanding of one-another...


Without context, I can only assume that the lack of formality led Baite to question our loyalty towards any promises made to him about an eventual place in DoD's progression.

Descendants of Draenor continues to farm
in preparation for 25-Man raiding,

Unwritten Rules

Baite was certifiably pissed-off. He couldn't believe he was being left behind. The whole reason he had come to Descendants of Draenor in the first place was to become a part of the regular progression raid team. He didn't think it was fair, and didn't know why he was being treated that way. He hadn't broken any rules or carried himself improperly in any way. Baite's response to being benched was unexpected. Neither I, nor anyone in Ater's group that evening, were adequately prepared to respond. I'm certain they glanced down at guild chat, saw the drama, and thought the very same thing I did: What is this new guy flipping out for? The fact that he's missing a Kara run? It's just a glorified 5-Man. It's not progression.

But it was progression. And Baite saw it as such.

What muddied the issue further was the fact that Baite felt even more like a guild-member through the manifestation of our guild's ideals. The very notion that we would turn over a rare, epic mount to a practical stranger in every sense of the word must have spoken significantly to him. One might argue that it would've made him feel even more like one of the large, extended family that I continued to sell DoD as. This meant that being left behind for that night's Karazhan invite offended him that much more; in his eyes, being left behind after being welcomed in and having his skills validated only served to reinforce his initial bias coming in to DoD; I'm not really one of them, nor will I ever be.

Baite did what any player seeking reliable raid progression would do. Unsure of his place in the guild, he cut his losses and pursued recruitment in a competing, more hardcore guild than us, eventually landing in Pretty Pink Pwnies. And with that, he -- and our proud achievement of boasting one of the very few rare Attumen mounts on the server -- was gone. I completely underestimated the value of Karazhan to the 25-Man progression raid team in my handling of the raiding rules for our guild. I should have spent more time working with my officer core to set up a plan to properly manage 10-Man teams. But, I didn't give it the time it deserved, and assumed that the 40-Man core, which had worked quite well together in Vanilla, would transfer the common-sense of their unwritten rules into the new expansion. And they did...with each other. But our new recruits lacked that context of Vanilla, and so unwritten rules didn't have the same effect.

Failing to acknowledge Karazhan's role in our overarching raid progression was a huge oversight, relying too greatly on unwritten rules and the common-sense of others. Assuming common-sense in an environment that lacked context was my second mistake as guild leader. Our unwritten rules would cause me to learn some harsh lessons before I eventually grabbed the reins tight, veering us from plummeting over the cliff.


Kurn said...

I find it fascinating that you guys viewed the 10m Kara as not-terribly-important. Granted, from your perspective (MC, BWL, AQ40, Naxx), it wasn't. My own group (only ever spawned Domo twice in MC) was being rebuilt and we only HAD twelve or so raiders, period, for a time. Kara was very much progression for us.

Amazing how the different perspectives caused us to view Kara as a completely different challenge.

When our roster grew large enough, we had two Kara teams and I tried to split up people based on time of day availability and personal connections. My brother complained to me that he was on my team and wasn't with another team (neither team was more talented/skilled, mind). I threw him all the names and gave him all the requirements (each group had to have a Nightbane urn, etc) and told him to come up with other teams.

Two hours later, he comes back to me, throws the list at me and says "fine". His list was exactly the same as mine. ;)

Shawn Holmes said...


The real issue here was not that we didn't consider it important...just that I didn't consider *important enough*, as it pertained to the 25-Man progression path as a whole.

I thought that it was no big deal, and people could just get away with putting it together on their own.

As it turned out, a lack of formality around it led to some losses early on.

Kurn said...

Oh, I absolutely get where you're coming from. I think it's neat that we both came from opposite directions.

My group: Not much accomplished at 40m raiding, ZG clear, 3/6 AQ20.

Your group: MC, BWL, most of AQ40, even Naxx stuff.

And then for both groups to enter Karazhan... My group saw it as HUGE, something to be planned out meticulously, just because that was a LOT of bosses and a lot of loot and would require more focus than anything we'd done previously.

From your perspective, it wasn't terribly serious. I know a lot of 40m raiders who had that same perspective -- you were definitely not the only ones caught off guard in terms of taking Kara seriously as it pertained to 25m progression.

I really do enjoy how we came at it from opposite views. :)

Gnomey said...

This is the kind of madness that just leads me to shake my head when I hear people wish that current was was exactly like The Burning Crusade. The attunement system did more to kill guilds than even boss difficulty did.

Shawn Holmes said...


Right there with you. I understand the need to gate content while keeping it complex to keep inappropriately prepared players at bay. But TBC offered us little in the way of emergency-gearing-options for those players who needed to be replaced at a moment's notice. We *started* to see that at the tail end with Sunwell and the grindable Isle of Quel'Danas gear. But by that time it was too little too late for TBC progression.

Thankfully, this concept was expanded upon in WotLK -- one of the many reasons I still consider Wrath to be the point that WoW achieved (near) perfect balance.