Friday, January 2, 2015

4.21. Moebius

Mature tanks Foremaster Throngus while the
guild  completes its 15,000th daily quest,
Grim Batol
"There is the theory of the Moebius. A twist in the fabric of space where time becomes a loop."
                                                                        - Lt. Worf, Time Squared (S02E13)

History Repeats

Applications trickled in at the start of Cataclysm. I poked and prodded, harassing the guild to "sell, sell, sell" the DoD way of life to anyone who happened to show any interest...so long as it wasn't in /trade. Dredging the slimy reef of /trade for fresh blood only guaranteed that a good roster would quickly fall into disrepair. DoD's pitch spread by word of mouth, most often in LFD. There was definitely some interest in what we had to offer, but it wasn't as overwhelming as the nearly daily apps that filled my inbox during Wrath. Apps that did arrive were oddly familiar. I began seeing reflections of the past in my newest recruits, and caught myself comparing them to players from DoD's youth.

A husband / wife team, comprised of a resto druid and a shadow priest, were one of the first newcomers to DoD in Cataclysm. The druid, Beefsupryme, was droll and affable; his wife, Physica, was a smart match. As with all significant-other teams, I made it clear that pairing them could never be guaranteed, but I would do everything in my power to make it happen. They integrated into DoD's culture seamlessly, never once giving me push-back or cause for concern. The shadow priest even earned her own song: I'd swap her name into a horrific rendition of Olivia Newton John's 1981 hit, whenever we waited on her to accept an invite. Beefy and Physica very much reminded me of that first husband and wife team, long before DoD even began raiding: Hend and Chariot -- good people I lost over a difference in playtime preference.

Ignismortis was brought out way via Goldenrod; they were friends in real life. A fan of classical music, he came from the Malorne server, which he could not recommend under the warning of "low population, high idiocy." Ignis's warlock and Goldy's mage maintained a playful rivalry; the lock poked fun at the mage, soloing content and laying waste in battlegrounds. He wanted an opportunity to raid competitively three days a week or fewer, and Goldy was quick to point him to us. Ignis was charming, dedicated, and well-played; by recruiting him, I essentially gained a second Goldenrod. I was completely fine with that.

Insayno was a death knight who didn't fit the mold. He was gung-ho about PvP, but also about achievements...including those having nothing to do with bashing another player's face in. He filled up vent with "Awesome!" and "Dude!", yet could also channel those passionate outbursts into a fastidious dissection of the game's mechanics, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of not only each class, but each spell. This was unbecoming of a death knight: they were long seen as the douchebags of the game. Insayno was the furthest from this stereotype. I was happy to have enthusiastic players in DoD, but as the 25-Man raid start date closed in, I contemplated what role he'd play, if any. At the very least, I had to give him props for the name; pop-culture references were my Achilles heel. Insayno very much reminded me of Annihilation, a DoDer often dismissed upon initial impression by way of crude language and a propensity to talk for hours about gaming -- yet hid vast knowledge of people once the onion was peeled back.

Littlebear, a hunter, joined up in the weeks leading to Cata's launch. His story was like so many that applied to DoD: he pushed past the boundaries of his former guilds, excelling where they fell short. In my interview with him, I couldn't help but be reminded of McFlurrie, back in The Burning Crusade. McFlurrie, like Littlebear, was one of the older players, but not entirely set in their ways. Both McFlurrie and Littlebear were open to innovation and new tactics. Neither balked at a lesson in their class, which nearly the entirety of the WoW community is known to not do well. Littlebear joined our crew, and immediately began consuming all of the necessary requirements to be vetted for the Raider rank.

Another Death Knight came to DoD, a tank by the name of Soot. Soot's interview was textbook. Well spoken, he had a deep, powerful voice that commanded attention over vent. Soot immediately struck me as the type of person to assume a role of leadership (as many tanks do). The interview went off the script multiple times, transforming into an open conversation touching on WoW, gaming in general, and even real life reveals. We shared a career path: he was a .NET Web App developer...

...Ater.

The initial Cataclysm recruits invoked quite a few memories of the past. But then again, I'm a bit of a sentimentalist.

Screenshot of the GCG addon interface
(Source: MMO-Champion)

Returning

The raid slot template bustled with the familiar. The officer core led the charge: Neps, Jungard, Blain and Sir Klocker, and my newest promotion to healing officer, Lexxii. Following closely were names committed to DoD finest from Wrath and earlier: warlocks Mangetsu and Vrykolakhas; hunters Larada and Jemb, the mage Goldenrod, the shamans Bheer, Gunsmokeco, and Deathonwings; paladins Drecca, Fred, and Falnerashe; rogues Bonechatters and Riskers, and the death knight Hellspectral.

Some familiar faces took new forms. After playing a warrior and druid, Omaric was now Zuzax, the Goblin shaman, changing his stripes once more. Moolickalot the druid was now focused on Cainh, a shadow priest. Lexxii's significant other, Bullshark felt the sting of the Hunter's lost mana pool (the Hunter resource became a Focus bar in Cataclysm) and shifted his attention to a mage named Bullsharq. Kizmet the druid was now Dkizmet the death knight. Even Bretthew returned to his old warrior Taba, formerly relegated to alt status at the end of Vanilla.

Rainaterror was a Troll shaman who joined us toward the end of Wrath. I first met her face-to-face at BlizzCon 2010, a friend of Bonechatters the rogue. My initial read of her left more questions than answers, but she seemed interested in participating in the 25-Man and, like her fellow guildies, began immediately to hit the necessary 25-Man raiding requirements. I wasn't convinced on her attitude, however. It seemed to carry a hint of indignance with it, a sort of "why do I have to do these things?"mentality that is so often a product of a player unfamiliar with raid demands and the frustrations of raid wipes. I pointed Rainaterror to the many posts we'd made on those subjects to answer her questions, but was left with the suspicion she didn't read them, and was merely complaining...to complain.

Immortalus the paladin, known by Sarge in Vent, also joined us during Wrath. He contributed to 25-Man progression with a youthful, perhaps slightly arrogant demeanor. I suspect it came more from the gamer mentality and less from an exaggerated perception of self-importance. Sarge was pro-DoD, which meant he was anti-everything else, and I was fine with that...especially if a few Alliance bit the dust in an unfortunate crossing of paths. His Alliance baggage kept him focused; formerly of The ORLY Factor, a known Alliance guild of dbags on Deathwing-US, he made every attempt to smoke his former partners in battle. But Sarge's biggest contribution to the 25-Man came in the form of GCG, short for Gentleman's Club Gambler, an add-on one of his former guild mates threw together to break the monotony of trash pulls and raid wipes.

GCG worked like this: an initial stake was placed, you voted in or out to participate, then everyone performed a /roll X, where X matched the stakes. The winner was the highest roll, and the loser (the lowest) paid the difference. High stakes meant lots of gold exchanging hands, peer pressure from the guild kept people participating, quitting cold turkey, then returning to lose once more again. The never ending cycle of gambling addiction could quickly become a distraction under the wrong conditions, but rather than ban it outright, I drafted GCGs' usage directly into our 25-Man raiding rules: only on trash pulls and during raid wipes. A possible detriment to the 25-Man’s focus quickly became a perk to raiding in DoD, and I have Sarge to thank.

Mature spots his guild's first 2nd-in-command, Graulm,
Orgrimmar

Leave the Past Behind

Operation "Water Under the Bridge" continued, opening the window of recruitment options further. Holding grudges got us nowhere; more important was bolstering the strength and confidence of the 25-Man roster. Putting drama behind us allowed me to extend an invite to faces I hadn't seen in years. My original number two, Graulm, made his way back into the game for a brief moment, and I was happy to have him rejoin, reminiscing about old times and pointing him to the new guild website. He clicked through the screenshot gallery, arriving at the pic of his warlock staring out into the Tanaris desert.

"I had no idea you felt I was this important to your guild."

"Well the secret is out," I told Graulm," you were one of the most important people to happen to DoD."

I'd already made amends with Falnerashe; she was now back in DoD and leveling alongside her bf Phil (he played many characters). Both held spots in DoD years earlier, and were quick to resume their old habits, shimmying up to their old crew, preferring to hang with the PvP crowd. I checked in with Fal at random to make sure things were going well. Whenever she opted to confide her frustrations with me, it was merited; Fal didn't just complain about anything and everything, she only got frustrated with idiocy. Sooner or later, we all end up in that unmentionable group of baddies; it's how we choose to react to that defines us. Anonymity can never be a justification for mistreatment. I compelled her to vent privately, and gladly received that barrage of frustration.

More big news for the changing roster was the return of Bulwinkul, another player that deserved a second chance. Axing him for mistreating Lexxii was extreme, but necessary. He repented, she accepted the apology, and we moved forward...but the re-invite came with strings. I warned Bulwinkul in the most straightforward language possible: Disrespecting other players maliciously will not end well for you the next time it happens. Of all the leashes on people in this guild, yours is the tightest. Bulwinkul agreed one hundred percent, wishing only to return to the team that made him feel excited about WoW. And while I kept one eye on the guild, the other was fixed squarely on Bul. Would he stay on the path this time around, or give me another reason to drop the axe?

---

With both old and new guildies in Descendants of Draenor, our roster was well prepared for Cataclysm. But there was one player, however, who I could not extend an invite to, someone whose past could not be so easily forgiven and forgotten. Three days after Cataclysm launched, the whisper arrived:

[From: Crasian] Yo, Hanzo! I'm back! Looking for a re-invite.

I'll bet you are.

5 comments:

Douglas A. Dixon said...

I don't remember how th Crasian story last ended. Could you refresh me on which post that story is in? Regardless, thank you for this wonderful history!

Shawn Holmes said...

You want "3.76. Burying the Leader".

Anonymous said...

Oh boy oh boy, is this going to move into wrapping up the 'you're not even close' ominous cliffhanger from 3.77? That has me ridiculously excited.

-Reythas, Azuremyst (Bloof Elf Warlock)

GuiltieGaming said...

I wanna get Physica! Physica!

Brooke Strunk said...

Lets get Physica! Physica!