Thursday, July 25, 2013

3.20. Mexican Hot-Chocolate

Haribo and co. assist Faleby
with his Dreadsteed quest,
Dire Maul

Gummy Priest

It was deep in the brush on the Isle of Dread, just south of Feathermoon Stronghold, that he finally caved in. I had been pursuing Haribo for months after a chance meeting when he offered to heal a party of us through 10-Man Scholomance. An undead priest, he came out of the woodwork of a guild named Forsaken Spirits, amazing me with his skills at healing. Scholomance was a brutal hour-and-a-half long ordeal and after having recently experienced a 45-minute power run thanks to the skilled players in Dirty Work, Inc., I knew exactly what type of player I needed to recruit. Kadrok and Graulm were most likely annoyed by my constant mention of this Priest and how desperately important it was to assimilate him. I needed a crew of players that set the bar high, virtual machetes slicing down any obstacles in our path. I fully intended to make Haribo one of those machetes. I harassed him for weeks, promising fame and glory in Molten Core and beyond. Each time he politely declined, but thanked me for considering him, and then proceeded to heal us in whatever dungeon we threw at him. I wouldn't take no for an answer. I stalked him until he was sick of  hearing about Descendants of Draenor, and when I found him alone on the Isle of Dread one day, standing alone among a pile of slain chimaeras, I went in for the kill. The undead priest who took his name after his favorite brand of candy, finally accepted my offer and joined the guild.

It wasn't long before Haribo rose to the position of Priest Officer. As I continued to aggressively recruit, building our roster larger in preparation for Molten Core, he continued to heal our players through dungeons like a pro, spending his off-hours healing Annihilation in Alterac Valley. And when the time finally arrived to assemble 40 players and dive deep into the Core, Haribo drove the healers -- making assignments, spamming macros, even developing a system of "healing buddies" which allowed Ater and his crew of tanks to chain pull mobs, making our clears an order of magnitude faster. Haribo stood diligently by our side as we plowed through Vanilla content. It was his dedication to keeping people alive that not only helped us become one of the furthest progressed Horde guilds on Deathwing-US during Vanilla, he instilled within players a new found interest in healing, a role often ignored by the masses as dull, uninteresting, and insignificant. Those  few players who mattered respected him for his ability. And hoped to learn from the master.

Nepster is spotted with Haribo moments
before the release of The Burning Crusade,
The Dark Portal

The Rogue That Healed

When Haribo announced his retirement from raiding at the start of The Burning Crusade, there was nobody in line to take his place. It was a time of transition; we'd been playing the same characters since launch. Leveling alts wasn't nearly as commonplace as it is today, because leveling itself was an act of raw willpower. I had dabbled in a few alts myself, but pushing any one of them to Level 60 demanded months of work, night after night. So, we had mains and we were invested in them. As time ran out on Vanilla and we counted the days until the Dark Portal opened to Outland, many players took the opportunity to start anew. Our old investments were suffocating. The Burning Crusade introduced Paladins to the Horde, and many of our healers re-rolled in order to breathe clean air again. But while the torrent of pink names flooded guild chat upon our arrival in Outland, one white name quietly took an invite and began the journey of following in Haribo's footsteps.

Neps had been a part of Descendants of Draenor since late Vanilla, one of the many faces that populated our 40-Man roster. My earliest memory of him is running 40-Man Naxxramas with us on his rogue, Nepster. Quiet and polite, he kept to himself, but never hesitated to jump at a moment's notice when the time to raid was upon us. He would spend his off-hours plumbing the depths of PvP with some of the old-school players in DoD, namely Haribo. Neps soaked up Haribo's knowledge like a sponge, learning all of his tricks, his tactics, day by day growing wiser and adept at handling himself in emergency situations. It was through these late night PvP sessions that Neps began to feel the Priest bug biting. To him, healing in PvP was a dark art, not one that many players chose to take up. The majority of players rolling characters to PvP dumped their effort into damage dealers, and were quick to complain when they had no healers to support them. Neps learned very quickly about the law of supply and demand. And if he took his responsibility with enough seriousness, his expertise would always be in demand.

So while the freshly invited Paladins dominated our attention at the start of The Burning Crusade, Neps quietly leveled his Priest. And, as was his demeanor, he took every opportunity to assist with heals that he could. The newly introduced 5-Man Heroics were a real test of strength for a group. Today, most 5-Man heroics are facerolled; there was no facerolling in the heroic version of The Steamvault, Shadow Labyrinth or The Shattered Halls. Each pack of trash had to be meticulously crowd-controlled, and accidentally pulling a 2nd pack was a guaranteed wipe under normal conditions. Pugging a 5-Man Heroic in TBC was almost entirely unheard of -- you ran with people you knew and trusted to minimize the amount of time that was wasted.

If Neps was your healer, you had a fighting chance.

Neps concurs on a successful
first kill of High King Maulgar,
Gruul's Lair

Everybody Loves Neps

As we ramped up to raid Gruul's Lair and Serpentshrine Cavern, Neps demonstrated a continued dedication to his fellow guildy. Whether it be assisting with a weekly Karazhan race between our various 10-Man teams, or helping another player become keyed, Neps never complained, never whined or moaned about repetitiveness or boredom. Every opportunity to assist in the healing department was a chance to flex his muscle, refine his skill, and fill the need that was so desperately sought after. Because of this affection toward his fellow guildy and his need to constantly improve, he made many friends in the process. His name soon became synonymous with Priest Heals whenever the topic came up. And, Neps always carried himself humbly, never spoke ill of anyone, never once revealing a loss of temper. He was, in short, the very definition of a model guild-member. He spoke rarely, but when he did, it was usually to deliver a dry, sarcastic punch-line, finishing someone else's joke, the virtual room filling with laughter as a result.

It was Neps' humble side that I felt players often underestimated. They mistook his solitude for an amateurish mentality, especially when it came to crediting his ability in raids having come from a PvP background. This was a foolish mistake. Unlike the PvP crowd which commonly talked a lot of shit and dissed one another openly, Neps kept his opinions to himself -- but he was no less aware of his opponents. It was from those late night PvP sessions, slowly developing as Haribo's apprentice, that he developed a keen sense of who were scrubs, and who were worth their salt. Other players could talk a big game, but Neps was quick to cut through the shit and tell if they were truly experts at the game, or just good at spinning more yarn. Once I caught wind of Neps' sixth sense, I moved quickly to make him the next Priest Officer. As expected, he humbly accepted.

Neps diligently served as Priest Officer through the remainder of The Burning Crusade, never once missing a raid, never once taking time off. His priority was his online family and keeping them alive through Lady Vashj, Kael'thas Sunstrider, Archimonde and Illidan the Betrayer. My trust in Neps grew to such a degree that I handed over the Master Looter and DKP import responsibilities to him, never once considering for even a moment that he would misappropriate an item or cook the books. And, when not honing his skills in dungeons or managing the priests, Neps returned to his original love of PvP -- his funny and always positive attitude drawing the attention of both Horde and Alliance players. It wasn't long before Neps himself had a following of fans. Descendants of Draenor's Ventrilo server soon became home to the enemy as they hopped in to chat with their favorite Priest. It soon became common knowledge in the guild that Neps was particularly fond of female players, and why wouldn't they be fond of him? He was never derogatory, never spoke in a sexist tone or demeaned them (as is very common in games where players are shrouded in anonymity), and was always friendly and supportive.

Neps was a charmer, loved by all. So, why was I hesitant to make him second-in-command?

Classism.

12 comments:

Roo the Hunter said...

interesting. Can't wait for the next installment. But I was really hoping for something about Mexican hot chocolate. :(

Shawn Holmes said...

@Roo,

Neps loves it, so add it to your shopping list!

Fred said...

Forget Neps, what about that sexy bish JLo

Roo the Hunter said...

Heck no. cocoaism. :P

Narkan said...

" [...] helped us become one of the furthest progressed Horde guilds on Deathwing-US during Vanilla [...]"

You guys were consistently 1-1.5 full raid tiers behind PPP, SR, Depraved, UF (while the two of them existed). Acheron (the AP off shoot) was further progressed and AP beat you guys to content. DoD was not among the most progressed guilds in Vanilla doing 40 man raids at any point ever, the only non MC guild by the end of TBC that you guys were further progressed than that I can remember was DISCONTENT. There might have been one more I'm ignoring, but I'm not sure how that places you at the top of the food chain for that expansion.

I've appreciated the different perspective in your blog (I don't agree with a lot of it, but I suppose we each had different perspectives on this). But there seems to be this odd set of contradictory beliefs that DOD was somehow competing with many of the top horde guildes for content, but that there was also the big bad force at the top which did nothing but poach from lower guilds to sustain their raiding machine. I guess my point is that at least for the portion I quoted, that is demonstrably not true and that a few of the recurring themes in your posts seem contradictory and it's been kind of confusing sorting through that in many of your posts.

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed reading this blog in some way. I haven't played WoW in a very long time (let alone on Deathwing) so this was an odd blast to the past. I'm happy that you got to raid on your terms in a way that you wanted: that makes all the difference and I got to experience that on another server so I can relate to your general message. I guess I just wanted to convey my confusion at some of this.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Narkan,

Thanks for the feedback! Let me try to clear up a bit of confusion.

-Vanilla-

For clarity, we were behind Depraved, SR, and PPP.

We were ahead of Admonished Prophets and Acheron.

Remember, AP split into the hardcore raid team (SR = Silent Requiem) and of course they stayed ahead; Maxxum and co. still offered advice and suggestions to us. AP, after the split, were close behind in BWL, but we definitely pulled ahead by that point.

So, SR ahead, AP behind.

As for Acheron, I can't say they came anywhere close to us during Vanilla, but I do recall their leader coming to us for advice, pre-the hand-off of leadership at the end of TBC, I remember that he was a really cool guy and we were happy to help.

After leadership of Acheron changed, we never really interacted with that guild again.

As for UF, I'm sorry, but I don't have any recollection of UF. If they were around during Vanilla, they certainly weren't on my radar. Our threats were Depraved and PPP primarily; SR we were on good terms with. I saw more of UF circa WotLK.

So, by that reasoning...yeah, we were one of the furthest progressed on Deathwing-US (Horde side) during Vanilla.

-The Burning Crusade-

Now, as for TBC, I am certainly not claiming to be "top of the food chain" by any means; Hell, pulling Illidan off a mere few weeks before the WotLK hit was cutting it close, and other guilds pushed far deeper into Sunwell.

Now, who were they? Not many on Deathwing-US. Again, looking only at Horde side, since guilds like Inertia and Costa held dominance over there, PPP was the only real threat to us during TBC, Depraved still held claim ahead of us as well, but PPP had definitely shifted to power by then, and was diminishing.

Again, we gave assistance to Acheron via their original GL, I have a distinct memory of giving him advice on a particular part of Black Temple while flying around Raven's Wood in Blade's Edge Mountains. That gives me a clue that they were still behind us and working on refining.

If there's more confusing parts to this, I'd be happy to bring clarity to them. And my own memory is not infallible, I'm happy to fix any mistakes that folks find along the way.

But I stand by my current statements:

1. Were we the furthest progressed Horde guild on Deathwing? No.
2. Were we *one* of the furthest progressed Horde guilds on Deathwing during Vanilla? Yes.
3. Were we competing with top Horde guilds for progression? Officially: No. Unofficially, Yes. I never went on the battle.net forums and challenged those guilds openly, and I knew, based on our restricted schedule, that we'd be unable to compete.

But we kept up. At half the schedule.

Kelden said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Narkan said...

I think the main point I've read on your blog (not just this post) that I disagree the most is this popular misconception that many end game guilds raided insane hours on a sustained basis. Sure, occasionally we did: brand new content being released would get more time put into raiding (for a couple of weeks maybe, but then attendance issues would always force us to curtail that for 40 man raiding), or maybe if we had a bad week and wanted to accomplish something before maintenance (I remember being stuck clearing god awful AQ40 trash Monday morning at 3am just to get someone to a vendor, that was painful). These really were exceptions, not the rule.

I'll speak for PPP (because it's the only guild I raided in for any meaningful length of time in Vanilla), it would surprise me if we put in more than 3 nights of 4 hour raiding on an average week. A progression schedule was 4 days(maybe 5 days but that was exceedingly rare) for 6 hours. There really wasn't a need to do more than that (not that we could field the roster needed for that anyway), and we had arrangements with other guilds to buy their half completed AQ40 or BWL runs such that even if we were in a lot of instances, we actually didn't spend much time in them when we were doing progression content. I joined pretty late, but it's my understanding that that schedule was really pretty stable as they went through all of the Vanilla content.

That same schedule was mirrored in TBC with Terminus, which was mostly comprised of old raiders from vanilla anyway. I transferred to a different server with a more active raiding community around Sunwell and yeah, it sort of put even that raiding schedule to shame. Most upper tier guilds just didn't spend that much time raiding, because they really didn't need to. What they could do that other guilds couldn't scheduling wise was accomodate short bursts of sustained raiding when new content came out. That was really it.

Kaylena said...

YAY Neps <3

Dalans said...

"You guys were consistently 1-1.5 full raid tiers behind PPP, SR, Depraved, UF (while the two of them existed). Acheron (the AP off shoot) was further progressed and AP beat you guys to content. DoD was not among the most progressed guilds in Vanilla doing 40 man raids at any point ever, the only non MC guild by the end of TBC that you guys were further progressed than that I can remember was DISCONTENT."

While I can't speak much to our progression during Vanilla as I don't remember, and the content just doesn't exist any longer, early on we were still competitive Horde side.

http://www.wowwiki.com/Server:Deathwing_US I think that list is missing some entries but essentially Depraved and its entities thereafter (Terminus, PPP) were the only horde guilds progressed farther than us with a few exceptions already mentioned.

For the most part in TBC we stayed top ten. You have to keep in mind, Horde side at the end of Vanilla and through a good part of TBC, was hurting for talent and Alliance had much more success. We suffered the same attendance/roster issues at the end of Vanilla, some of TBC mostly during the run up to Wrath and our progression suffered from it.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080922181915/http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=8557019083&sid=1&pageNo=1
http://web.archive.org/web/20070707074419/http://www.wowjutsu.com/us/deathwing/

Top of the food chain? Never, but that also didn't fit our guild structure. We didn't raid more than 8 hours a week, whereas some guilds it might as well have been a second job (12-30 hours, I'd consider that significant). We were also rotating our player base from week to week, we did not have a concrete group of the same 40/25 members running the content. I'd consider being a handful of bosses behind the top guilds with that in mind an achievement.

I'm also fairly certain that by the time Wrath rolled around, most of those guilds, with the exception of Inertia, didn't exist.

Fishee said...

<3 neplet!

Adrian Foekens said...

Oops. I exclusively pugged every tbc 5 man heroic.

Explained my marks and what they ment with macros at the beginning.

I gained an amazing healer priest friend thru this. And we ran togetherwhen we could. But i didnt hesitate to pug if he wasnt on.

Shadow labs and shattered halls became my two favorites due to the amount of 4-5 mob pulls.

It was magic. Comes close to beating all my raid achievs in fun level for me.

One of my favorite moments: "You want me to what with my what? Im a warlock, i dont CC things" that fellow was a master seducer with his succubus by the end of that shadow labs run.