Thursday, October 31, 2013

3.39. Flying the Red Flag

Mature fills in on a Team Starflex clear of Ulduar,
earning "The Secrets of Ulduar (10 Player)",

What It Feels Like For a Raid Leader

Failing is, apparently, a subjective term.

Cheeseus' observation was wildly askew from my own, his intentions and motivations deeply affected by his past perceptions of hardcore raiding. I assumed this would be a challenging point-of-view to alter when I brought him on as raid leader -- but to see his attitude remain unwavering in the face of all that we had done was a tough pill to swallow. In his funk of failure, we were surrounded by evidence to the contrary. Five meta achievements remained on Glory of the Ulduar Raider (25 Player). Work would begin on Trial of the Grand Crusader that week. Plans were already set into motion as to how we would leverage the guild's resources and assign the next legendary weapon. Two fully equipped 25-Man raids were running on entirely different schedules each week. No bickering or in-fighting. No pending exodus. Morale at an all-time high. My inbox flooded with guild applications. And losing absolutely no one to further progressed guilds. To be quite honest, it was one of the first times in the history of Descendants of Draenor that we had very little to regret.

"I think we are a huge success in the grand scheme of raiding guilds that walk the casual line very closely. What would you quantify as our 'hard failures'?"

Cheeseus was very quick to point to the fine print.

"No hard modes, save those that have been nerfed."

His former days of Sunwell clearing were catching up with him. In our eyes, it was as different as night was to day. Reflecting upon our earlier years of wiping to trash, the rubber band had been pulled back, sling-shotting us forward into a new world where raiding was our oyster. But this gratified picture of our history came through misty, jaded eyes. Eyes that had bled and suffered; that had dealt with the loss of good people to reasons that were still tough to deal with. We'd scraped the bottom of the barrel and felt our egos singed and depleted. Today, Descendants of Draenor had been given new life. We were humbled to call ourselves a successful casual/hardcore raiding guild without having our moral compass spinning like a centrifuge in the process.

These things mattered little to an ex-hardcore raid leader.

The eyes of a rogue that drove his blades deep into Kil'jaeden saw a very different picture of the World. To Cheeseus, guilds like Enigma and Inertia should have been stomped into the dirt months ago. Every man, woman, and Ben in the guild should already have their Iron Bound Proto-Drakes, and be listed in the top ten of the world first raid completion leaderboard. Any attempts to justify poor play should be met with swift and brutal justice. Through these stilted eyes, the many successes Descendants of Draenor enjoyed were clouded by a fog of self-doubt. He saw no great successes; the minutia of realm-first losses crackled through his neocortex like a storm.

I slammed a wall-of-text into the IM window in an attempt to win back my raid leader.

Descendants of Draenor holds the #1 spot on
Deathwing-US for 10-Man (July 2009) as a result
of The Eh Team (Full Link via Wayback Machine)

The Adult Diaper Award

"We're never going to be at a level where we can compete with a guild like Enigma. You have to set your expectations appropriately when comparing our progress to others. Their people, their hours? It's unrealistic to measure our failures against a hardcore guild's successes. Try to remember that there are still guilds out there who can't get past Kologarn. Besides, I gauge guild success on many other criteria, beyond hard modes. Do my guild members work well together and treat each other with respect? Are they constantly bitching about loot or are they hyper-focused on getting content completed? Is it a pleasure to log into the game and Vent and hang with them throughout the week, or would I rather go sort my sock drawer?"

Before he had a chance to respond, I cranked it up a notch in an attempt to identify his personal contributions to our success.

"And in the 10-Man dept, competition, you've pushed the guild's name up to the top of the charts. You should be very proud of your accomplishments."

Telling an ex-hardcore raid leader that he is successful in 10-Man raids is like congratulating someone on not shitting themselves in public. As much as you'd like it to be a compliment, it isn't.

"Eh, I dunno. I feel like a failure. Between you and I, I'm having serious doubts about if I want to continue to raid lead or not."

I braced for the impact.

"I was hoping that a little break over BlizzCon would help recharge the batteries, but I'm already finding myself logging in on Friday/Sunday in a shitty mood, with a terrible mindset, only to get assailed with Taba's witty 'Cheese has a stick up his ass' followed by 4 hours of retardation over vent, Crasian's hypocritical love of Enigma and what they do, Omaric's suggestions to fix things that aren't broken, Six's 'I don't know why Cheese is being stubborn, I'll talk to him during the week', followed by him crying, then crying over my crying for having to put up with their shit. Then we have retards in raid who not only cause headaches by being there, but also make more 'drama' in officer, which is more fun."

Comes the crushing blow.

"I dunno, I'm trying to work my ass off, but for all the hours I'm putting in, I'm getting nothing but shit-on and people doing whatever they want to anyways, so I don't know how much longer I can put up with it."

It was apparent now that the stability of The Eh Team wasn't as sound a structure as we all assumed of the rock star 10-Man. Political dysfunction was bleeding into the 25-Man and causing Cheeseus' contempt towards our "lackluster" performance to grow like a weed. In turn, he hyper-focused on the 25-Man progression raid and its inability to reach perfection. And then blamed himself.

I turned my head to the side, the shadow of one of my office mates catching my eye, and as they moved on toward their desk, my gaze darted to the window a moment. I stared out, ignoring the view and weather, turning my thoughts inward to try to approach this problem, these million red flags flying in every direction. Do I try to work on individual members of The Eh Team and turn them around, thereby granting Cheeseus some slack? No, this was a bad proposition -- a short-term Band-Aid that might cover the bleeding now...but was certain to fall off the wound down the road. Pouring all of my energy into 'saving' Cheeseus would be fruitless and naive. The game plan shifted to that of contingency. Priority one: vet a new raid leader and get them ready to take the reins asap. He hadn't pulled that ripcord yet, but when he did, I had to be sure the plane still had a pilot.

Guess Who? by Milton Bradley

Bored Games

As it always has been, options were limited in the raid leadership department. I needed someone with staying power; clearly, this was an attribute I misread in Cheeseus. My mind flipped through various pages of in-memory guild profiles, names and faces of characters whirred by like a Descendants of Draenor rolodex. It should have been methodical, a careful scientific process. The psychologist puts his feet up on the couch, pipe lit, reviewing all the human conditions of his patients. He draws smoke into his lungs, and attempts to decipher their goals, their dreams; their integrity, motivations, and biases. I had no such piece of paper resting in a frame on my office wall, nothing to demonstrate I possessed any expertise in reading people and understanding their bizarre behaviors -- their ability to take logical, rational arguments and break them into pieces like a spoiled child abusing toys. I only had my gut. My experiences. My learned lessons of the past. And a general sense that I was heading in the right direction...

...which made my decision-making a little less clinical, and a little more like a game of Guess Who?, Descendants of Draenor™ Edition.

I looked at the freshly set up board in my head, a mix of Elites and officers, and walked the criteria list in an attempt to nail down the next mystery guest. Have they been with DoD a long time? I started flipping faces down: Sixfold, Mangetsu. Have they demonstrated a tendency to lead on their own? Down went Gunsmokeco and Sir Klocker. Have they red flagged me, giving me any reason to doubt their integrity? I reached for the Bretthew card, hesitating only due the incredible turnaround and track-record he'd been maintaining since his return. Tongue in cheek, I flipped his card down. Can they commit to every instance on our raid schedule? Down went more faces. Have you demonstrated expertise in a myriad of classes, not just your main? Another face hit the dirt as I flipped Jungard down. I sat back and looked at the dwindling faces that were left: Neps, Omaric, Dalans.

And then, I remembered Shadowmourne.

Whomever I chose for the next raid leader would most likely be the one to wield the legendary axe first, following in the same footsteps as Neps did with Val'anyr. I looked back at the board.

Do they use a 2-Handed Axe?

Down went the priest and the druid, both of whom had enough on their leadership plate. The last picture stared back at me.



"Omaric, got a few minutes?"

"Yeah, gimme a sec. Just finishing this dungeon on Ikey bear. I'm really digging the druid now, think I've decided I'm gonna make it my main."

Well, isn't this nice?


Stretch said...

These cliffhangers are killing me! This has been a fantastic read. Keep them coming!

kizmet said...

Haha. Now I see how that played out.

Ryley Foshaug said...

Me crying or Cheese crying? I don't remember crying. Cheese on the other hand is a big old crybaby.

Shawn Holmes said...


Hang in there! Your loyalty will be rewarded (just like it was when I ran my guild...see a trend emerging?)


Cheese was being melodramatic about you crying; that was a quote I lifted (with his permission) from our many archived chat logs. The point is that, to him, it felt like everything was coming down on his shoulders. The issues, therefore, became inflated in his eyes.

So, yeah...he is a bit of a crybaby. :) I'm sure he'll come on here and clarify when he he gets a chance.

Fred said...

oh ToGC....... I would say more but Icehowl

Dalans said...


Tyler Iacono said...

I don't always dance the robot, but when I do, I make sure I'm in jail first. Or am I supposed to be Sandler? Dammit!

Cheeseus said...


You cried about my crying, then cried about me crying about it!



Shawn Holmes said...