Thursday, June 26, 2014

3.73. Revoke Regrant

A random player takes note of
Mature's Shadowmourne,
Warsong Gulch

With Great Power...

A sickly blue glow poured out of the gaping mouth of every victim I sunk the axe into. Swarms of banished souls spiraled around Mature as I commanded the digital death knight through whatever challenge the day brought. Shadowmourne cared little if Mature was clearing trash with the 25-Man raid team in tow, or joining a random battle in progress against the snowy backdrop of Alterac Valley. The axe didn't discriminate against the just nor the corrupt...it hungered, and was fed. And when that blue glow broke over the horizon, it demanded respect. Those who fought on Mature’s side most certainly bended the knee, and more often than not, those who fought for the enemy very often turned and fled in fear.

It was humbling to be recognized for doing nothing more than simply wielding a weapon. Humbling, and telling.

The demand for my attention in guild events, especially those relating to PvP, spiked as a result of the crafting of Shadowmourne. I generally kept a low profile in the day-to-day, politely declining an excessive amount of requests to participate. I could have easily been overwhelmed with the heightened interest, falling back into the old TBC/Vanilla ways of playing for ungodly amounts of time into the night, while family, nutrition and hygiene took a back seat to achievement whoring. My priority was always to the 25-Man progression team, and that's where I focused the brunt of my attention. Outside of the 25-Man, I maintained my commitment to Blain and the Si Team, carrying on with our quest to earn the 10-Man version of Glory of the Icecrown Raider. After progression and Si Team, I maintained only one other commitment: the unfortunately named 3v3 Arena team that Sentra had been carrying me through.

"Hard switch. Hard on the Mage."

Sentra commanded all of our attention on to the caster, noting that the mage's cooldowns had been blown. Nerrfmeh the paladin stunned the healer, while Sentra drove his blade deep into the enemy, hamstringing him in the process. Mature spun in a blur of violet, switched off of the healer, and hacked away at the mage. Gigantic chunks of health fell off the mage's bar in seconds and he collapsed in a heap.

"Mage's dead. Get on the healer."

"NICE!"

"Ah, that was beautiful. Like poetry."

Mature and Sentra focused their efforts back on to the healer, while the rapid-fire tapping of keys carried over Vent in the background. In arenas (and unlike raids), we opened our microphones permanently. One extra key press to chat with partners was already one key press too many, and in PvP, strategies are not etched in stone, followed like a roadmap. Instead, strategies are fluid, ever changing, taking the shape of what enemies form the next challenge. PvP was everything PvE wasn’t. Unplanned. Spontaneous. Impulsive. Primal.

Without the mage, our 3-on-2 dominance turned the tables, and once the healer and his remaining partner expired, the win flashed up on our screens, with an additional surprise. The golden banner told the tale: we'd taken the team to a rating of 1750. By PvP standards, it was the equivalent of becoming potty trained; "congratulations, you suck less than the majority now." To me, it was the highest PvP rating I'd ever earned in game.

Nerrfmeh headed out for the night, leaving Sentra and I to chat as we tapered off our PvP session.

"That weapon is sick. Put me in some more of those ICC raids."

"Well, get your signups on. I didn't see you in last week's sheet. What’s up with that? I mean, if you want to collect shards, you actually...y'know...have to be in the raid."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Last week was bad, I had some shit come up, then my game time ran out and I didn't have any extra cash for a game card. Didn't pick one up until Tuesday."

"You play on game cards? Don’t you have a credit card or something you can put a sub on?"

"No credit cards. Can't get one with this shitty dead-end job I'm at."

"You lookin' to get your learn on at some point? Maybe step up the job situation a bit?"

"There's not much point right now. I legally can't get anything better."

Legally? "Say what?"

"Ehh...lost my temper on some guy in a bar, knocked his front teeth out."

I stared at the screen. I was not expecting that.

"I see. So, I guess it's game cards for awhile then, huh?"

"Yeah, it's fine. Just gotta rearrange some shit here and there."

"Well you're good for another solid 60 days now, so that's plenty of raids you can sign up for. The more of those you can get into, the better. And if you can't get a 25-Man rotation, just get your ass into the Alt-25, y'know?"

"Yep."

I tried to end the conversation on a positive note, "Let's get an entire guild of these axes going." I alt-tabbed into my web browser, fired up a calendar reminder for six weeks into the future, and typed into the description:

[Help Sentra with game card??]

DoD defeats Putricide without using Regurgitated Ooze,
earning "Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn... (25 Player)",
Icecrown Citadel

Stomach Problems

"...and another wipe. Wipe it."

The melee rotations had seen better days. The task for the evening was to continue work on the of the three remaining (and most challenging) of the meta achievements required for Glory of the Icecrown Raider. Tonight, the goal was to knock out Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn…, an achievement of unparalleled insanity. In order for us to complete the achievement, the abomination wouldn't be able to slow any of the festering goo that travelled across the room. DPS would need to be at an all time high, and although the fight favorited ranged DPS, DoD's 25-Man progression team’s melee damage consistently held sway over the ranged....

...which was upsetting, considering the evening's rotations.

"Is there something wrong with DPS?"

The night got off on the wrong foot with the news that Abrinis had been rushed to the hospital; a nailgun misfired at work, sending a nail clean through the muscle group between his second and third toe. Bretthew was out-of-commission on account of continuing computer-related problems; luckily, the longtime DoD vet Kizmet was able to pull up the slack, joining Drecca in the role of tank. A new paladin named Aezil had signed up as retribution, and didn't even bother to show up; his spot was immediately filled by an up-and-comer Immortalus, who -- like Ben -- was one of the few players in the guild identified by a name not tied to any toon he played: Sarge. And as for Sentra, he was nowhere to be found. For all the concern he had in crafting Shadowmourne, there wasn't even so much as a signup. In his place came Bonesoldier, a recently drafted death knight who’d enjoyed the luxury of his first Lich King kill with us the week previous.

Preventing the goo from being slowed during transition was the appropriate way to keep the wolf from the door; removing that from the strategy meant that the further we took the encounter, the further behind we fell. The only way to counteract that was with massive DPS, and our massive DPS traditionally fell on the shoulders of the melee...

...the melee we patched together at the last minute.

"Healing assignments need to change? Because technically this should be doable."

The problems of the guild were ever shifting; in Vanilla/TBC days, it was "we don't have the qualified people for this particular raid", and now that I had turned the roster around, the new problem was "do we have the right people for the (heroic|achievement)?" Trying to figure out where the line was drawn, and determining when to step over vs. when to back off wasn't something I had a great feel for -- which is why I made this the responsibility of the raid leader. But that meant that the raid leader had to have an equal amount of insight, make the appropriate judgement calls. Omaric seemed unsure, almost flying by the seat of his pants at times. He put out all the right signals, but the vibe of uncertainty trickled through.

Which is why Blain managed to sneak in his own raid leadership. By being be present, feeding info to Jungard, making suggestions to Omaric, kinks began to iron themselves out. DPS switched on to the goo with greater ease. Stronger players were placed more strategically, stacking precious fractions of damage and healing into each attempt. Weaker players were routed to the back, given more overall coverage and less specific responsibilities. Kiters gained a clearer path. Omaric's broad strategy was sound, but it was Blain's micromanagement, a strength he'd carried with him for as long as the guild tag hung under his name, that tied up all the loose ends. Even when we knew we were about to chase the goo, Blain's discreet reminders had us mentally running even before we were digitally.

"I hate that backseat raid leading, Blain" Omaric commented, "but dammit, you were right again."

We earned "Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn… (25 Player)" on May 21st, 2010.

The heroic clear of Putricide would come later.

Sentra and Nerffmeh carry Mature to 1750 in
their unfortunately named arena team,
Blade's Edge Mountains

A Surprise Return

I kicked off a code check-in, the Subversion window scrolling through hundreds of files included in the commit, when a new IM window popped up on my desktop.

"Hey, Hanzo."

"My God, Bheer! How the hell are you?"

"Good. The time away was productive. Feel much better about things."

"Oh yeah? You think you'll come back?"

"I realize my exit was a little abrupt."

"It was, but I appreciated you making the effort to have Blizz transfer Death's Choice over, at least."

"I didn't want you to get the idea that I was treating the guild like a doormat."

"Bheer, don't worry about it. What's done is done. I'm sure you had your reasons. We don't need to get into that right now."

"I'm ready to come back...if you'll still have me."

I never gave it a second thought.

"Of course you're welcome back! DoD is your home. God, man, you were around in those early Vanilla raids."

"I just want you to know I don't have any expectation of raiding. Wanted you to know that up front. I understand what I did and I don't want any special treatment."

"Well, I don't see you getting Elite again."

"That's fair. I remember the rule."

"Maybe I can find you a few spots here and there. You know how the roster is. Always changing, forever in flux." My mind wandered to the recently ejected Bulwinkul.

"So, Eh Team's whittled away?"

"Things have become a bit fragmented in that end of town since your departure."

"Crasian?"

"Yep, Crasian's gone. Bulwinkul's gone. Omaric and Taba are still around, obviously. Well, that's not entirely accurate, Taba's starting to wind down his involvement, but the lineup is still solid..."

"Looks like pretty good progress in the 25-Man."

"Yeah, you could say that. Moving forward at a pretty good pace. We're into heroics now, been especially good to have some of these newer folks as well. Lotta folks are really just floating across the 10's at this point..." My mind drifted again, this time to Ben, "...some float a little more freely than others."

"Well I appreciate the reinvite. I'll help with whatever I can."

"Think nothing of it. It's like I said before. DoD will always be your home."

The original reasons for his leave remained a mystery. They wouldn't remain so for long.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

And here comes Shawn, sprinkling seeds of plot that were seeds of potential drama from long ago.

More and more.

And yet we STILL don't know what's going to happen!

Damnit! Stop with the damn leading and cliff hangers! XD

-Catelina, KT Alliance Holy Priest

Shawn Holmes said...

@Catelina,

Very close to the end of Part III now. Would it help to say the ending is already written?

Anonymous said...

@Shawn

Depends on how far ahead of time you write I guess. :P

-Catelina, KT Alliance Holy Priest

Tyler Iacono said...

I would never publicly admit that Blain was helping me Shawn, haha. I hated that guy more with almost each and every word that came out of his mouth each raid. He was your golden boy and I was trying to prove myself, even though I think I didn't really have what it took to be the kind of raid leader needed to push everyone to their limit. I believe my strength was keeping everyone positive with humor and explaining each fight in such a way that could be easily digested by the lowest common denominator. These CD's were all too common and frustrating as you brought in new people each week to heroic fights, requiring me to take time filling them in.

-Omaric

Jorge Ortega said...

@Tyler

I thought you did very well raid leading Nomaric. :)


Another great entry, Shawn! I need to play catch up and read the quite of number of these that I've missed.

-Riskers

Dalans said...

Don't worry about Blain, he's like a fungus, he has to grow on you...



...and then you get quarantined while the CDC figures out a way to disinfect you.

Fred said...

HOLY CHRIST!!!!!!

A wild Riskers appears

Blain said...

Not even BOOM! Tough Actin' Tinactin can get rid of me.

@Omaric
Humor has its place. Mostly when you're asleep. Never at work. Never in a raid.

Tyler Iacono said...

@Blain

No fun while playing game, understood!

Dalans said...

Internet dragons is srsbzns.

Fred said...

Wait! No fun while playing game? Godammit Hungry Hungry Hippos for making me think games are fun.

Zanshin said...

Heh...I don't know what arena was like in WotLK compared with BC, but I can just imagine the rage on the other side of the keyboards when people queued into a 1750 rank arena match and went up against somebody with a legendary weapon. I'm pretty sure some players were still sporting blues at that rank :P

Another good read!

Zanshin, Kil'Jaeden