Thursday, January 9, 2014

3.49. Married to a Pillow

The Fleshwerks,
Icecrown Citadel

The Experiment Ends

Mature hovered on the back of his Ironbound Proto-Drake, several dozen feet above The Fleshwerks, an army of undead minions growling and clawing at each other in bloodlust with the scent of the fresh meat in close proximity. As I continued to scout for rares, my chat window turned purple as it received a whisper.

"Hey Mature, can I borrow you for a sec?"

It was one of my newer members, looking to squeeze into a regular raiding schedule.

"Sure, what's up?" 

"Well, I tried to get into the Alt-25 tonight, just like you recommended, I mean. I have all my gear gemmed and enchanted and I know the fights. But I was told there wasn't any room." 

"Ah, that sucks. Did you get on a little late tonight? The invites usually start about 30 minutes prior."

"See, that's the thing, I was on 30 minutes earlier, like you said." 

"...and Bloody told you there was no room?"

"Yeah." 

I pressed 'J' on my keyboard to bring up the guild roster. Sorting by location in the world, I scanned down the list to see who was currently in the Tournament of Champions alongside Bloodynukels. There were twelve guildies total.

"Are there any 10-Man teams in ToGC at the moment?" I typed into officer chat. 

Sir Klocker fired back, "mm, not that I know of." 

Neps added his two cents, "Pretty sure Starflex runs on either Tuesday or Thursday." 

"Tuesdays," confirmed the newly promoted Jungard, now able to contribute to the officer-only chat. 

"...and Eh Team is retired, atm, right?" 

"Far as I know, yeah. I mean, half of 'em aren't even on atm." 

I looked back at the twelve guild members in ToGC. Why the hell such a bizarre number? And more importantly, why wasn't it twenty-five when people were contacting me about not getting in? Was there room...or not?

---

"I'm getting reports that guildies are being left behind during invites."

"We had no more room because a few people were late logging on."

"I was told that he was on 30 minutes prior to the first pull, which is standard practice around here. The question stands. Why are you leaving people in the guild behind during invites?"

"Well, once I have everyone from CAFN and DoD in the group, there isn't much…"

Whoa whoa whoa. Stop.

"Hold on a second. What do you mean 'everyone from CAFN'...you mean the guild?"

"Yeah, I have a bunch of friends there that still need loot off of the twins."

He spoke with the confidence of a leader fluent in the language of some other mystery guild far, far away from our own. Like this decision he made was OK with me. Like he had thought it through carefully. Like its ramifications had been considered. Rationalized it.

"So let me get this straight. When you do the invites for Alt-25, you start with CAFN, and then fill the remaining spots with us?"

"Well, not exactly, I mean...it is really just sort of who sends me the first tells, and then I invite like that."

"So what makes you think that it would be in our guild's best interests to run another guild's members through a raid before our own?"

There was no response.

"Effective immediately, I'm going to need you to invite from DoD first. Always. And forever."

"I can't really give my friends in CAFN the cold shoulder..."

"But you have our guild tag under your name."

"Right..."

"So, what part of 'this is an officially sanctioned DoD guild run' do you not understand?"

Again, he had no answer. His silence marked the official end to the "Bloodynukels experiment".

"Sounds like your heart is with another guild. I think we're done here. I'll have someone else pick up the Alt-25 next week. Thanks for taking it for these last two times."

"Does this mean I'll lose the title?"

You mean the temporary officer title I gave you as a convenience to access officer chat in the hopes you'd use it to coordinate invites with the guild, rather than inviting your friends from Discord first?

"It was done as a convenience to assist you with coordinating the Alt-25. You won't be needing it."

Bloodynukels sulked away into the background, the conversation never actually coming to a definitive close. This is the beauty of dealing with players over Ventrilo: it excuses them of the social norms a person typically exhibits in the real world. You wouldn't start a chat with someone at a water cooler, then walk away mid-conversation...a habit that was commonplace in WoW.

Especially when one of two people didn't particularly like the way the conversation was going.

Bloodynukels left the guild on his own shortly thereafter, and his infamous brother Divineseal followed suit. Several weeks following their return to CAFN, both players went missing-in-action, and their eventual whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

---

With the Alt-25 now leaderless, I needed someone to fill his shoes and erase the damage he had done. My initial fear was word would quickly spread about "how we were running a discriminatory elitist guild that made up rules as it went." If that rumor was flying, I needed to shoot it out of the sky before it got too far. But with who? Options, as always, were limited. The existing leadership pool was already stretched thin; it was important to not load them up with so much administrative shit that they began to loathe logging in. But consider the alternate: arbitrarily promote someone else? That worked magnificently with Bloodynukels, an experiment blowing up in my face. I couldn't risk that again…

Someone spamming guild chat caught my attention.

[Mangetsu]: Folks, you only need this macro to improve your dps
[Mangetsu]: O o
[Mangetsu]: /¯/___________________________ ________
[Mangetsu]: | IMMA FIRIN' MAH LAZOR! BLAAAAGHH!
[Mangetsu]: \_\¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯


Chat lit up with a series of 'LOL's and smileys, something you didn't see a lot of in DoD. Most of the guildies conversed in Vent. I had to hand it to Mangetsu, he had a way with making everyone chuckle, and always had something funny to...

Mangetsu!

Typing a mile a minute, I rattled off a tell to him. We needed to speak in Vent. Immediately.

Mature and co. complete "Hadronox Denied",
while Mangetsu (via Amalgam) yells out in guild chat,
Azjol-Nerub

Otaku

Mangetsu was up to his neck in geekdom. Pick any time of the day at random and you might find Mangetsu scrutinizing the work of Studio Ghibli like muggles analyze their fantasy football teams. He spoke of the dark recesses of 4chan, and held no reservation in discussing its shady subculture. He was a purveyor of internet memes and a conissouer of animated gifs. He started the "You Laugh, You Lose" topic on the DoD forums shortly after getting comfortable with his fellow guildies, and it took off like a rocket, growing to become the most visited and posted-to thread on the boards. And although it was still roughly a year away, Mangetsu would eventually begin referring to himself as a 'Brony', wearing the badge proudly like the rest of us did with our Ironbound Proto-Drakes.

Mangetsu's most controversial behavior was that of his profound expressed love of an anime-themed pillow case that he squeezed with childish glee when the lights were out. His "waifu", Mang proclaimed, would never judge him, never nag him nor make him feel bad about his decisions in life. And when the guild chuckled at this childish playfulness, which walked the fine line between raw geekdom and total embarrassment, I couldn't help but feel that some (myself included) were envious of this openness, this simplicity to observe and engage life. My own experiences with sharing my passion for gaming and geekdom had been met with mixed results throughout history. It would have been refreshing to be able to talk to anyone I wished about such gaming related addictions, without fear of judgement or discriminate bias. But, I carried with me that particular ability to sense vibes, stripping away what people said while remaining attuned to people's intent. Normally shielded by thir polite language, those mannerisms were the social norms we've come to understand, work into daily rituals so as not to offend one another. Mangetsu, in his delightfully positive attitude on life and the people in it, harbored no such skewed perceptions. He played no political game. He was wildly aware of the fact that not everyone would think his infatuation with a pillow-case would come across as 'normal'. And he didn't care. Which meant he had no problems being 100% honest with anyone and everyone.

In short: he was leadership material.

---

"I need your help, Mr. Mangetsu."

"Yes, sir! What can I do you for?"

"How much experience have you had running your own raids?"

"I have had to take a few PuGs into their weekly quests for points. That usually has mixed results, but for the most part, we get things accomplished without too much pain or suffering."

Mangetsu referred to Blizzard's recent addition of a weekly quest, based out of Dalaran. Much like the distant cousin of the daily quest, this new 'weekly' asked players to kill a raid boss somewhere in Northrend. Possibilities were usually things like Patchwerk in Naxxramas, Flame Leviathan in Ulduar, and Lord Jaraxxus in the Tournament of Champions -- all bosses fairly near to the entrance of their respective raids. Doing so awarded a newly introduced currency which we stockpiled to augment our raiding gear, a godsend that would've served us well back in The Burning Crusade. And Vanilla. The 25-Man progression raid knocked this weekly quest out as a part of our regularly scheduled work; we never gave it a second thought. Other non-raiding guilds had to suffer through the act of spamming general chat for a pickup-group to be put together in order to accomplish the same seemingly trivial act. I couldn't even fathom what chaos and insanity might lie behind those "pickup raids", especially ones without a dedicated leader to keep everyone focused and on task.

I mean, honestly. Who, in their right mind, could conceive of an entire raid of strangers all working together to kill a raid boss? Thinking about its success rate gave me chills like someone had walked over my own grave.

To even consider taking on such a task demonstrated balls of steel. Yet, Mangetsu pulled this off consistently. His candidacy grew.
Some example Anime pillows not unlike
the one Mangetsu was married to

The Secret Ingredient

I proceeded to give Mangetsu the situaton, "The Alt-25 is without a leader at the moment."

"Ahhhh, OK. Isn't Crasian running that? I thought I saw him in there."

"You're correct. He did run the show for a bit, after Anni handed it over. But Crasian is taking off for the holidays to ski."

"Got you."

"And, well...I've had an incident with another guildy, which I'm sure you weren't even aware of. Guy by the name of Bloodynukels. Divine's brother."

"Can't say that the name rings a bell. Sorry to hear there was a problem, though."

"It doesn't matter, he's already left with his tail tucked between his legs."

Mangetsu's voice changed to express concern, "Uh oh. Something not go as planned?"

I sighed. "For starters, Mang...the guy was inviting people from other guilds before our own people. And to top that off, he was exploiting mechanics on some of the bosses."

"That's no good. Was it the Val'kyr-doorway thing?"

"Aye."

"I read about that. Still no official word from Blizzard?"

"Not yet. But when they do...which I expect they will...I'd prefer that our hands remain clean."

"Totally understand. So, when would you like me to start?"

"This weekend, if possible. Keep it pro, just like you've come to expect in the 25-Man. Loot rules up front, vet the people you take, don't let anyone try to squeeze in with inappropriate gear. Nobody should get any special treatment. And for God's sake, I shouldn't have to say this, but you will always fill with DoD first."

"Question, sir. If I could make it work, and I really think I could...what would you say to me trying to bring people from other guilds? I mean on purpose. Each week. Because some of those bosses really don't need to be done with a full raid. So there really is no reason to bring strangers, unless..."

"Unless what?"

"Well, it would be a great opportunity to show them what we have going here, which could work to our benefit if you still recruit."

"I'm always, recruiting, Mangetsu. It never ends."

"The other kickback comes from GDKP, which has been successful for the PuG raids as of late. People pour their money in at the start, we rock out, and then if players stay to the end, they get a portion of it back. The up-front costs can be funneled in to the guilt vault. Repair money! And whatever else."

I shook my head, stunned.

"Mang, are you sure you haven't led a guild before?"

He laughed. The man who was married to a pillow was the new leader of the Alt-25.

15 comments:

Amy said...

Just read through your novel :)

Great read (SO SO LONG FROM THE BEGINNING!) -- found it linked through a wowinsider column.

Although I haven't raided in years (stopped early wrath) and quit the game a few times since then, it's fun to read about your guild and the bosses I never attempted.

Look forward to your future columns!

Shawn Holmes said...

@Amy,

Gratz on marathoning your way through! Hope it was an enjoyable for you, please share if you agree.

And yes, I have plenty of story yet to come...

Ross F. said...

Great post. Your stuff's always so well-put together. Content's always informative and exciting. Always a lot to take away.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Ross F,

Thanks very much sir! Please share it with folks you think would also enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Mang sounds like a great guy. :)

-Catelina, KT Alliance Priest

Shawn Holmes said...

@Catelina,

Mang was, and is. Expect to hear more about him in the posts to come.

Fred said...

Love Mang...... not nearly as rad as the Daliaah but rad none the less.

Mangetsu said...


Haha oh wow. The level of detail with which you remember stuff is just insane, Shawn. Even I don't remember all of this as vividly.

Those were damn good times - beginning of Icecrown raiding, finishing up our Ulduar Proto-drakes, Algalon a few weeks after. I remember that between raiding on the Warlock with the 25-man progression team, 10-man Starflex and doing the Alt-run, I was raiding some 20-odd hours a week. But hell was it a ton of fun.

ALSO I DUNNO HOW TO BREAK THIS TO YOU BUT MY WAIFU IS IMAGINARY NOT A PILLOW

My pillows and I have strictly platonic relationships.

@Fred:

BILLY YOUR BEARD IS SHOWING


Shawn Holmes said...

@Mangetsu,

I knew you couldn't stay away!

Fred said...

HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A wild Mang appears

Cheeseus said...

Oh shit, I lost it at that macro. If that isn't "you laugh, you lose" material, nothing is.

Ru said...

Thanks for this blog. It is the gaming nostalgia I have been craving.

queenanthai said...

"I mean, honestly. Who, in their right mind, could conceive of an entire raid of strangers all working together to kill a raid boss? Thinking about its success rate gave me chills like someone had walked over my own grave."

*cries into the pillow*

Shawn Holmes said...

@queenanthai,

There, there. *pat* *pat*.

We can be miserable together!

DistorSean said...

This is probably one of my favourite posts so far!
Thoroughly loving everything as I get through it though.

I was a Vanilla/BC "hardcore" raider. But stopped at WotLK, so its good to hear about how things were in those days!