Thursday, January 2, 2014

3.48. Here Comes the Airplane

DoD earns "Set Up Us The Bomb (25 Player)",
granting them a server first achievement,

What Fuels Progression

Concluding Glory of the Ulduar Raider catapulted our raid team into a series of successes that spanned the remainder of November 2009. Interest in raids was at an all-time high, and so it should have been! One look at the Ironbound Proto-Drake and people wanted in. Omaric and Bretthew obliged the guild and continued to push raiders through mounds of content, acquiring gear and assisting those players missing one or two of the metas for their own personal Glory, while I manned the rotations of the roster. Our high churn in the roster was evident by how many people still needed a Firefighter here or a One Light there. As was our modus operandi, I didn't force anyone to raid, so I was fully prepared to have a handful of stragglers missing various metas. Omaric and Bretthew made good use of this time, punching out additional Ulduar achievements in the process. Halfway through November, they had added six more achievements to Descendants of Draenor's 25-Man scoreboard: Nerf Scrapbots, Can't Do That While Stunned, Nine Lives, Getting Back to Nature, Deforestation (a server 2nd) and Set Up Us the Bomb -- one of our rare server 1sts. Throughout the process Fragments of Val'anyr continued to drop, and before long we had crafted our second Hammer of Ancient Kings, this one going to our healing officer Gunsmokeco. The core team now had two permanent legendary healers, and progression was nearly ready to tackle Algalon the Observer. But for all the successes our 25-Man progression team was enjoying, there was more to be proud of, outside the blinders of a hardcore raider -- a pet project that ex-officer Annihilation had taken on.

Fielding multiple raids was something my guild had coordinated as far back as Molten Core, but it wasn't until the middle of The Burning Crusade that we began to approach it with more focus and greater concern for its success. Prior to that, an unfortunate mentality had arisen surrounding the A and B teams, which devolved into the two groups being pitted against each other. A team had driven progression, and B team had been kicked to the curb, as we plucked who we wanted from it, and when. And when A team needed augmenting, B team suffered, compounding the issue. "The good of the guild" was simply not enough of an explanation to justify the sacrifices that B team endured to keep A team's fuel tank topped off, and the pent up animosity led to my guild's second exodus. Annihilation went back to the drawing board in TBC after hearing about the idea from competing hardcore guilds, calling the second raid the "Alt-25", and he made it perfectly clear what the purpose of that team was. Like a drill sergeant, he rattled off its intent: you're here because didn't get a rotation in progression this week. That changes nothing. You're expected to be geared, play professionally, get shit done. What you do here will give you the opportunity to get your foot in the door with the 25-Man progression team. And for those of you who are here on alts from the 25-Man, you simply have no excuse to perform poorly.

This "rebooted" second raid team produced wildly successful runs. Come Saturday evening, the Alt-25 filled up almost as quickly as the main progression raid, and they cleared content with the same energy and gusto as what was being pumped out of our Fri/Sun runs. Annihilation continued to field this Alt-25 on and off throughout TBC via his warlock Fatality, picking up the reins once again in Wrath on his death knight Poprocks. The Alt-25 served many purposes. One, it gave players rotated out of progression that week a second chance at gearing and getting experience, being shown the ropes by one of the original no-nonsense officers of the guild. Two, it allowed us to test out new recruits, to see what capabilities the fresh meat had to offer. Anni frequently reported in to me during our late night conversations with folks he thought were up-and-comers; likewise, he warned me of players who were exceptionally good at wasting space, and better suited to games like Hello Kitty Online. Ultimately, Alt-25 was successful this time around because there was a conscious decision not to beat around the bush with them, not to mince words or pull the wool over their eyes regarding its purpose. Being in the Alt-25 was a privilege, not a right. It was the guild's gesture of good faith to extend to new players, that second chance to prove their worth. They could show us they had what it took to step in the 25-Man progression team and keep Descendants of Draenor on the map, rather than give them a cold shoulder as so many other strict hardcore guilds did.

The Alt-25 was vitally important to the success of the guild. Failing to provide it to the guild could jeopardize the stability of progression. Which is why I grew concerned with the latest turn of events.

Mature earns "Lance a Lot", while Annihilation (via
 Poprocks) coordinates an Alt-25 run in officer chat,
Argent Tournament Grounds

Too Good to Be True

When it was time to take a leave of absence midway through WotLK, Anni looked for a replacement to man the Alt-25. He passed the reins to a player he felt shared a common interest in getting content completed, while helping fellow raiders in the process. That player was Crasian. Anni had picked up on Crasian's selfless acts of running folks through 5-Man heroics for their own achievement-focused agendas, and had personally vetted his efficacy of the death knight on a number of occasions. Anni felt the Alt-25 would be in good hands with Crasian, and indeed, Crasian took over for a good many weeks, continuing to help churn people through whenever something could be put together. But Crasian was leaving. Having announced his departure at the end of Glory of the Ulduar Raider, the Alt-25 was now without a leader, and its state was hurled into limbo as a result. Yet, before I even had a chance to sit down and fret about what to do, a solution practically fell into my lap...which is probably what I should have been suspicious of.

Divineseal's brother, a death knight who called himself Bloodynukels, waved his hand in the air to catch my attention. Bloody was still reasonably new to the guild, but during this period of accelerated growth due to DoD's rising popularity, new faces were popping up all around us. At times, I had offers from many different strangers to help with whatever they could; I appreciated the support. But my excitement should have given way to calm, thoughtful decisions -- even regarding things like the Alt-25. So I put in what due diligence I could on Bloody. Unfortunately there wasn't much of anything to say, neither good nor bad. He had no history, nobody had played extensively with him, and asking Divineseal himself an opinion of his brother was only going to produce a shower of of confetti and balloons. This lack of detective work, coupled with a surprising absence of offers from other guildies to take on the Alt-25 left me in the dark. 

The dark complicates things.

Lacking options, I decided to give him a shot, under the assumption that if I made myself painfully clear on what was expected, I could produce a reasonable amount of responsible leadership from the guy. The Alt-25 was important, but it also wasn't rocket science -- they wouldn't be expected to knock out heroics, just clear content and get gear. I pulled Bloodynukels into Ventrilo and went over standard operating procedure with him. 

The Alt-25 may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Officers are rarely present in those runs, so you not only have to take on the responsibilities of a raid leader, making sure that the basic fundamentals are covered (instruction, fixing mistakes, etc.) but you are also acting as a representative of the guild -- a salesman, so to speak. If you have to fill the Alt-25 with random people from trade, they're going to be watching how you treat them and how you treat others. They may even take that into consideration if they're contemplating a guild change...and we want that. Keep things prompt, on-time, don’t put up with a lot whining. 

"Can I get a promotion, then?" he asked. The request caught me off-guard. I didn't have a "sub" officer rank; previous folks in charge hadn't needed it. "It'll let me coordinate with the officers better." Thinking quickly, I bumped his position in the roster up to Avatar, the role designed for identifying star players in the guild who had gone above and beyond the call of duty to contribute to the guild. It was the only rank available that kept him separate from the officer core, yet granted him access to officer chat.

And it was a mistake.

Mature concludes Noblegarden while Bloodynukels
seeks priestly information from the guild,

Buckling Into The High Chair

After only one week at the helm, guildies began to report in that Bloodynukels had been instructing them to perform the Twin Val'kyr in a suspiciously exploitative way. Word on the street was a "trick" may have allowed a tightly crammed group of players into a crevice of the doorway to the Tournament of Champions, bypassing the many orbs of the death that the twins filled the room with during the encounter. These orbs traditionally had to be dodged by the player, and certain strategies called for various positions around the arena, minimizing collateral damage from the bouncing black-and-white balls.

When questioned on why he employed this tactic, Bloodynukels responded, "It's not an exploit."

"Why? Because Blizzard hasn't taken an official stance on it yet?"

No response.

"If they haven't said anything yet, it's probably because they're busy trying to get Icecrown out the door. Any raider that's worth his salt will take one look at that strategy and immediately see how it is sidestepping mechanics of the boss intentionally to make it easier. This isn't something that falls into the "clever use of mechanics" bucket. You are purposefully avoiding the primary damage dealing component of the twins by doing this. Not partially avoiding it...entirely avoiding it. Trivializing the encounter. Explain to me how that isn't an exploit."

"Ok, so I won't do it again."

That wasn't an explanation.

I felt like I was scolding a child. Did this stuff really have to be said? Wasn't it common knowledge that exploiting the game's mechanics were forbidden? Perhaps he saw it as one of those more malleable rules, easily fudged as a result of where your level of ethics sat that particular day of the week. Long term members of DoD should have known this stuff like the back of their hand. But that was the problem. Bloodynukels wasn't a long-termer. And what was the norm? To do exactly that; to find short-cuts, tricks, even order to accomplish something, as so many scrub guilds on Deathwing-US were attempting to. Where do you think the word on the street came from? It was literally the type of thing discussed in general chat while hanging out in Orgrimmar. I guess it was asking too much to consider he would think for himself, question the validity of such a shady strategy. So, like so many recruits before, I had to spoon feed common-sense to him like a child strapped into a high chair, making airplane sounds just to get him to open his mouth long enough to shove it down his throat.

I hoped that this would be the end of the spoon feeding, and had high hopes for his second week. But you know what they say about things that are too good to be true. He'd be back in his high chair before you could even smell the diaper.


Fred said...

I honestly don't remember much about Bloody and the alt raid. It makes me wonder if I actually ran it around that time. I remember Naxx with Anni and ICC with Mang...... hrmm. How does all of this time escape me?

Brett Easley said...

Fred still sucks.

Also, fun bit of trivia. After Anni got burned out during Vanilla of leading the "B-Team", who did he leave in charge?

I don't think it was mentioned in 8YIA, but Taba was the one who got the nod. The best part, the reason was because Anni didn't want to guilt anyone into doing it, but when Taba got one of the Bindings of the Windseeker, it was the perfect "Hey you will want to be there anyway, grats on the responsibility".

kizmet said...

I ran the alt 25 in Ulduar a bit after Anni. That must've been after bloody though because I have zero recollection of that person. I ran it in Naxx for awhile too. We were always short heals.

Cheeseus said...

I remember the one exploit I did in Ulduar. Hop in one of the robots, and jump over the mobs to get to Mimiron. Engage him, stealth, and that would allow the raid to skip the trash and die a lot less, as that trash sure gave us a thrashing.

I'd argue the primary difference was that my way could be done during our break to save some repair bills, as opposed to bypassing the core mechanics of the area.

Tyler Henderson said...

I forgot about that guy until I saw the screenshot. He wanted me to do arenas with him but didn't know anything. I don't think I ever told him what pestilence was or that I had a priest

Moorawr said...

Kiz, I remember being part of at least one you ran right after Anni stopped so Bloody might've been after you. I don't recall doing any with him and I had jumped back in as Mang was finishing up ToGC.