|DoD defeats Lady Deathwhisper in Heroic mode,|
wrapping up "Heroic: Storming the Citadel (25 Player)",
Every Month is MayMy wife's birthday fell on the weekend that Descendants of Draenor completed two additional meta achievements, "Heroic: Storming the Citadel (25 Player)" and "All You Can Eat (25 Player)", and I was present for both. But there was no fighting in the Holmes' residence. No accusations, no finger-pointing, no yelling and screaming about "putting the game before your family" or how "another year's gone by with no regard to birthdays or other important events." It was a relaxed, enjoyable weekend, and both real-world and in-game events were attended to. And that wasn't all that was happening in May. My son also celebrated a birthday in May. Mother's Day meant planning flowers for both my mother and Jul. The Memorial Day weekend had a history of sticking its nose into our raid schedule's business, but we were able to carry on without interruption. It wasn't some magical cast of Tranquility that allowed all of these events to take place without stepping on each other's toes, all it took was some thoughtfulness and planning ahead; a tiny bit of effort had far reaching effects.
It wasn't always this way. A guild leader in World of Warcraft constantly juggles two worlds. The secret was to schedule proactively, rather than reactively. May of 2010 produced some of our best progression to date, inching toward Glory of the Icecrown Raider. By the end of it, two wings and six heroic bosses lay in our wake. The unorthodox executions of Professor Putricide, Sindragosa, and The Lich King, resulting in three meta achievements: "Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion…", "All You Can Eat", and "Been Waiting a Long Time For This" (respectively), left only three metas before we could claim the chilling Frostbrood Vanquisher flying mount. If that wasn't enough, the completion of Shadowmourne, the continued eeking out of content in Blain's Si Team, and practicing arenas with Sentra and Nerffmeh was a feast more than any king could hope to finish in a single meal.
The only way...the only way...to make May work, was to meticulously plan ahead. Cover the bases by getting the roster rotations done well in advance, and repeat my warnings both in-game and on the forums as to what to expect when we hit certain speed-bumps along the way. How many people are planning to take time off for Mother's Day? If too many people are away for Memorial Day, ensure the raid leaders have strict orders not to attempt heroics (and especially metas that the core might miss). In the real world, who was responsible for picking up the presents? The cake? Who is sending the flowers and when? And what days are we agreeing to celebrate? With both the family and the guild completely squared away, there was no chaos, no curveballs, no emergency situations. Everything ran smoothly, because they had been handled...because I had handled them. "Hoping" for everything to fall into place had a poor track record, and wasn't going to win me any awards.
Success over the long term simply meant handling every month like May.
So as that month drew to a close, I was able to spend Jul's birthday evening with her, while we sat out on the front deck. We breathed in the evening while glancing at the Denver skyline and shot the shit about how Mad Men was getting really good and how True Blood was quickly going down the toilet. Yet, only an hour earlier, I had been a digital death knight, cleaving my way through internet dragons and toiling toward imaginary golden awards that didn't actually exist...but did. The ability to flip back and forth between game and life so quickly, keeping them separate yet equally important, became an increasingly valuable trait as Guild Leader. It was the only way I was able to sit in a Vent channel while a guildy lied to my proverbial face about his drunken, jealous transgressions toward a rival, maintain a cold distance while ejecting him from the guild...only to be pouring a glass of wine moments later, discussing TV shows with my wife.
|DoD defeats Halion the Twilight Destroyer,|
earning "The Twilight Destroyer (25 Player)",
U Jelly?June wasn't nearly as clean. The only unorthodox kill remaining was "Neck Deep in Vile", a brutal gear check that demanded we assassinate every last kamikaze Vile Spirit before it suicided in explosive death. Continued attempts without progress wasted precious hours, and any hope of getting into flow was erased by Omaric's changing opinion of the appropriate boss to tackle. Bretthew completed his transition out of the roster, leaving Omaric to fend for himself. Bretthew's tanking responsibilities were taken up by the DoD vet Kizmet, who partnered with Drecca from that point forward. Without his raid leading partner, Omaric fielded decisions by himself, struggling to accept advice from the shadow of a former leader as it continued to cast doubt on his own ability. From my own perspective, it was a challenge to switch gears so frequently...even with my aforementioned practice in that department. I imagine it was worse for the roster, especially those who didn't see every raid they signed up for.
We pressed on. Heroic Professor Putricide required an insane amount of damage and control. Sindragosa's heroic mode demanded exceptional control on the part of the tanks; Kizmet's dedication to the role was admirable, but was not an instant replacement for Bretthew's jell after so many months at the head of the progression pulls. Synergy comes from more than just a handful of well-geared players randomly thrown together. Raid with the same people long enough, and you slowly enter a state where their pulls are already happening in your mind -- you're already winding up a heal before the blow comes. Jell doesn't come overnight, it takes time. Putting Kizmet into Bretthew's role simply meant getting accustomed to different rhythms.
More disruption arrived by July. The 3.3.5 patch was released, another kink to distract us. To keep morale high, we downshifted into the Ruby Sanctum, where the Twilight dragon Halion was causing trouble on behalf of the impending arrival of Deathwing. Old habits resurfaced: Ben's drunken rants colored Vent, Omaric's insistence on gear to assist with our heroic achievements butted heads with Blain's long held beliefs of effort first, I even had to raise my voice to Hellspectral on several occasions when he was unresponsive in Vent. One such occasion took place during Halion work, where the teams struggled to divide their DPS evenly between the mortal realm and the realm of shadow.
"We need better synchronicity between the in-and-out team assignments if we're going to get this down."
"That's fine, we can move Hellspectral back out to Team 1, it's still lopsided. Hells, you got that?"
Oh, Christ. Not this shit again. "Is he passed out?"
The thick New York accent suddenly broke the silence, "Yo, relax. I was alt-tabbed, lookin' up 'synchro-whatisname'."
Laughter in Vent, followed by a sigh of relief, and the Halion kill came soon after, bringing an end to the drought in achievements. It was July 2nd. June had come and gone without the 25-Man team seeing a single golden bar flash up on their screen.
|Sindragosa falls without any player gaining 5 stacks of|
Mystic Buffet, earning DoD "All You Can Eat (25 Player)",
Faux-jection"I was upset. I couldn't deal with it. The people I trusted as my friends basically stabbed me in the back."
"I could see how that was upsetting, I’m sorry you had to deal with that."
"For a while there I just shut down. Didn't want to have anything to do with them, with the guild, with WoW."
I offered support to Bheer as best I could while he revealed the story to me over a series of IM windows, "I can’t imagine I would want to face them either. I read somewhere that rejection from a social group affects the same areas of the brain as physical pain. Do you feel like you have a handle on who it was that swayed Eh Team in that direction?"
"Taba was the one who told me, but I have my suspicions about Crasian being the one responsible for putting the idea of kicking me out in their heads. He and I never really saw eye to eye. He always fought me on loot, dismissed my suggestions on strategy. I just never expected them to all side with him."
His story correlated with my own observations, "Well, he is pretty wishy-washy in that respect. He came and went from the roster several times, remember? Took off right after I gave the role of melee officer to Jungard, which meant he wouldn't be seeing Shadowmourne. And the loot whoring, it became pretty common knowledge. There was a couple of times where he promised to take Jungard into Ulduar for a cloak...never even followed up with the guy. Anyway, what’s done is done. Your back now, and that's all that matters. I appreciate you taking some of these spots, the roster’s been all over the map this last month."
"No problem, happy to help. How are the revisions coming?"
"Good, good. I still have more to do, but I have a pretty solid handle on what further tweaks we can make to loot rules, rotations, etc. Really want to make sure we close off any remaining loopholes. Perfect example was that one you pointed to me, back in Ulduar, alts being able to roll on items ahead of mains? Yeah...not gonna let that go on."
A period of silence where we each carried on with our individual business, and then, a final question popped back up from Bheer, "Do you think we'll ever seen Crasian again?"
"I doubt it, but don't worry. If we do, I don't expect there's any way I can invite him back. Not after all of this info has come to light."
No player was going to treat my veteran guild members like that and not feel my wrath in some form or another. I expected Crasian could find a perfectly acceptable crowd of players to join up with that shared his mentality regarding loot.
The text-to-speech announcement of Vent run out across my speakers as a new player connected to our server, one that had held a long-standing "open policy" of players of any faction/guild to join and chat with us:
"Bulwinkul has joined the channel."
I alt-tabbed and removed myself from the Vent server, then logged off before the purple text had a chance to beg me to stay and listen.