Thursday, August 29, 2013

3.28. Playing The "Game"

DoD defeats Flame Leviathan with two of the four
towers up, earning "Heroic: Orbital Devastation",
Ulduar

The Opposite of Winning

"Just got off the phone with the mechanic", I typed to Cheeseus, "Apparently it is some sort of gear that got worn down. Honda’s replacing the part but the entire transmission has to be rebuilt."

"Ugh" appeared in my Pidgin chat window a few moments later.

"Hey. No harm, no foul. They pick up the tab, I’m just glad that we caught this sooner rather than later. I have a rental to get me around in the meantime."

"How was the vac?"

"Fucking phenomenal. It felt like a two-weeker. And it looks like you got some work accomplished while I was gone, eh? That’s great to see."

Cheeseus was less than enthusiastic, "Eh, not much imo. Eighteen-thousand Runed Orbs dropped. Yogg to 13%."

I focused in on the positive, "I understand we have two more Fragments."

"That too," he replied, "but we should have downed Yogg."

We had only been at it for several weeks, having trounced General Vezax on Mother's Day. After racing through Ulduar on cruise-control, it didn't surprise me to discover we'd hit a few speed-bumps near the end. Thinking back to the many weekends we poured into bosses like Kael'thas, Lady Vashj, Nefarian, Illidan...it was very clear in my mind that we were just getting our lumps as all raiding guilds did. Cheeseus of all people should have known where I was coming from, having doused himself in the Sunwell's waters. His disappointment was understandable. But was it warranted? We were moving through Ulduar at an excellent pace, far quicker than any raid in our history. That had to count for something, especially coming from a guild who prided itself on baby steps as quantifiable progress. But perhaps he, like some other players, were starting to see things differently -- the drastic shift in raid difficulty slowly permeating their rational thought, telling them to expect that bosses should just fall over dead after two or three attempts. I myself got bitten by these bugs in moments of haze, falsehoods eating deep into my subconscious like Yogg's own mad whisperings, telling us that we were failures by not killing a boss after only three weekends of work.

Or perhaps I just had a raid leader that was too much of a perfectionist.

"We'll get him soon enough. How's Eh Team coming along? You making any progress on hard modes yet?"

"Yeah, just Mimiron and Yogg left."

...left?

"You've cleared every hard mode in 10-Man except Mimi and Yogg?"

"Number one on Deathwing since the 9th of last month."

Cheeseus quoted from the bible of GuildOx, a website recently launched to track the progression of both the 10- and 25-man raiding guilds in WoW. I would've preferred to see us up at the top of the 25-man chart, but holding steady at the top of the 10-man chart was nothing to laugh at, either. I was pleasantly surprised to see us ahead of Enigma, but didn't think it would last too terribly long. As it turned out, The Eh Team allowed us to hold that spot throughout the majority of 3.1. I have to say, they were pretty proud of themselves. Perfectionist or not, Cheeseus knew what he wanted -- and he got it. If not in the 25-man, than by any other means necessary.

Mature and Sixfold (via Thirteenfold) shut down
their 100th match, earning "Mercilessly Dedicated",
Nagrand

Anger Management

In the evenings when we weren't working on Yogg-Saron, I decided to pour some more time into the Death Knight. In TBC and Vanilla, I felt stretched thin at times, not fully understanding the complexity of my main, not fully attuned to the class's nuances. With Kerulak the Shaman, I was ever striving to become a quality healer. In those days, there weren't too many guides to follow or Live Streams to learn from. By the time I had cut over to Zanjina the Shadow Priest in TBC, I had flushed one-and-a-half tiers of Shaman healing knowledge down the toilet, starting again from scratch with the troll's Shadow Word: Pain and the face-melting Mind Flay. Looking back, I felt I never really played the Shadow Priest to its greatest potential, spending many of my off-raid nights screwing around with alts. I told myself not to invest too heavily in a class I may have to bench to save my guild, so I became a jack-of-all-trades...and a master of none. Wrath gave me the opportunity to focus in on one class and grok it entirely, and so every waking moment in game was spent on Mature.

In order to exercise my Death Knight muscles, I dove into the undiscovered country of PvP. With the help of Sixfold, we spent many nights working away in arenas. I hadn't invested a lot of time in PvP (for reasons I hope are obvious by this point), but as part of the learning process, a little bit of tolerance and humility is called for. I admitted to Sixfold up front that I was shit behind the wheel, but his calm, laid-back manner put me at ease. This was just for fun, and we weren't here to prove anything to anyone. Outside of the scrutiny of a 25-Man raid which diligently analyzed combat logs and held people to their numbers, arenas offered up a chance to learn without punity. As long Sixfold and I didn't go up against any Paladins, nobody would be judging us.

Those arenas boiled my blood.

I walked away from those nights quaking in anger. On more than one occasion, I could hear Julie yell back at me from the other room to keep it down and watch the language. If the neighbors could hear me, they might fear for their lives at the obscenities that flowed from my computer room. It took every ounce of energy for me to stay calm, focused on my target, watching cast alerts coming in from Gladius, waiting to Mind Freeze, to Strangulate, to blow Empowered Rune Weapon and unleash everything I had before my target's healer regained control of herself. I'd smash my fist down on the desk, a child throwing a tantrum at the toy store. I hadn't been violent since my early Quake-playing days, but the keyboard graveyard welcomed me back like an old friend. Having left those days behind for World of Warcraft, the game had evolved me into a player of maturity and composure; the person who would lead the guild "by example" by doing what was right, making the hard decisions, biting his lip when appropriate and hoping...praying...that my good behavior rubbed off on the players who had been /ginvited.

All of that went out the door with arenas.

Through all the cursing and temper tantrums, Sixfold laughed and laughed. He took it all in stride, and never once was critical of my behavior, never once judged me for those wildly inappropriate bouts of fury and rage. Each time, he had new suggestions, new things for me to try, always encouraging, always educating. It didn't matter how frustrated or pissed-off I got, Sixfold was ready to jump into an arena and give it another go. I had to hand it to him. If I took nothing away from my terrible, horrible Death Knight play in those arenas, at least I got some solid reinforcement on how I needed to carry myself in the mentor department. Try to be tolerant. Don't take things so seriously. Patience is a virtue. You’ll get what you want with hard work and diligence. After preaching these edicts to the raiders for so long, it was important to get the sermon myself...

...just as it was important to get a break from being a Guild Leader...even if it was just for a few hours in Blade's Edge Arena.

Mature and Ben (via Fluffykitten)
rock out a perfect win against the Alliance,
Eye of the Storm

Winning Friends and Influencing People

When I wasn't in an arena with Sixfold or scouring Northrend for rares to complete Frostbitten, I forced myself into Battlegrounds. Other than the practice that Six and I got in The Ruins of Lordaeron or the Dalaran Sewers, the only other viable option for me to improve was to augment my PvP gear. PvPing by oneself was utter torture. I covered my hand with burning, melted plastic as a child...the result of a failed experiment to play with matches...and it hurt less than PvPing with a group of strangers who didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. So I sought to find people in the guild to group with to help take the edge off -- a salve to apply to the face after dragging a cheese-grater across it. Neps was very often one of those players, but when the opportunity arose, I would do my best to group with Ben.

Ben was a fantastic PvPer, and a hoot to group with. As much shit as I gave him for missing raid signups and unleashing drunken tirades in Vent, he was a rock star player killer. He held no particular loyalty for any one class, he'd bring whatever you wanted to the gunfight: Scruffiebear the Druid, Flufflykitten the Hunter...he had nearly every tool at his disposal. We spent many evenings in those BGs, tearing up Eye of the Storm, fighting off the Alliance rush at Lumber Mill. And it was in those many evenings of PvP that I got my opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Just as there were two sides to World of Warcraft; two worlds I was force-feeding myself to know and understand -- there were two sides to the guild leadership game. That most basic of sides that everyone is exposed to, the one where "Guild Leader" is proudly attached to your in-game character, where the longevity of a guild mate is only a single button-press away, and you wield otherworldly like power in dictating how much to tax the serfs. And then, there is the other side of the picture, the part that isn't so blatantly in-your-face, by title or by forum administration privileges.

The game where you convince players to do what you want.

Once I had picked my battle and decided which players were worth the effort to pour energy into, the strategy shifted to winning them over. Ben had been giving Cheeseus grief in raids, his impulsive and brash attitude providing an steady stream of complaints to my IM window. But he was also popular, well-played, and good friends with one of my trusted officers, Neps. Therefore, I reasoned logically, he was worth the effort. So when I wasn't helping him cut down a Night Elf flag runner in the Gulch, I'd carry on a casual conversation with him about the 25-Man. I reminded him of the ropes, of what my expectations were of him in regards to the roster. We may not say it all the time, but you're vitally important. All you need to do is text me if you're going to be late, it's absolutely no problem at all. You are an essential part of the 25-Man progression team. What can I do to make things easier for you? Would it help if I shot you a reminder in-game every time I post the raid schedule? It's really no trouble, if it means I get the best Shadow Priest in the guild, I’d be happy to help you with some reminders. My tactic was simple: get him on my side, remind him how important he is, make him feel like I'm bending over backwards to facilitate his schedule and his needs.

If Mr. Carnegie was right, when it came time for Ben to meet my needs, maybe...just maybe...he'd switch off of Hodir and on to the NPCs as directed.



8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What ever became of the paladin that took all of y'all's pants that one night?

Cheeseus said...

While I am a perfectionist, I feel my disappointment in this case was due to something else.

As was mentioned further on, the Eh Team was working hard on all the hard modes. Originally, I had the vision of using this team to test various strategies on before implementing them into the 25 man. Last post, when asked what my plan was for the following week, I stated I didn't know until I did my 10 man for this specific reason.

As such, our ability to accelerate so quickly in 10 man, while failing to even clear Normal Yogg was the focal point of my disappointment. "What am I not doing well enough to ensure the success of our team?" is something that I would feel often over cases like this.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

You refer to Divineseal, and I assure you his story will continue...and conclude.

Fred said...

Between boots and pants..... and all of the charges from Icehowl, those damn Paladins just took everything.

SArge said...

Hey dont for get those end of expansion legendaries that we just had to have

Benjamin Riley said...

This Ben individual sounds extremely sexy and has some EXTREMELY adorable names!

Dalans said...

Your mom has some extremely adorable names.

HHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Oh my god I said it.

<3 Ben.

Benjamin Riley said...

HEYOO!!!!

<3!