Thursday, June 25, 2015

4.40. Last of the Brohicans

Omaric's final post to the Descendants of Draenor
guild forums.

The Softening

Herp Derp was gone. I'd had high hopes that they'd change their tune, that at least one of them would show a shred of decency by standing in defiance of their team's decision to split from DoD. Loot is what matters most, more than any sort of human decency one might be compelled to demonstrate during a guild division on moral grounds. After all, why does it matter how we treat each other in a virtual gaming world, if we'll never end up having to account for our behavior? If this was really about raid size preference, they could've walked away the day Azeroth cracked open.

The wound closed up. Those who remained could focus undeterred on the road ahead, hoping to get significant work done in 25-Man heroics...preferably, before the release of Firelands. I wasn't pleased with the outcome of the Herp Derp ordeal, but was relieved that it was over.

Of course, it wasn't.


Omaric was an old-schooler. He didn't have the tenure of folks like Klocker and Neps and Blain, but coming in at the tail end of The Burning Crusade still granted him the gift of sight, to see WoW as it had once been, in its raw, most unforgiving form. When raiding in WoW was an exclusive experience, where any instance you stepped into demanded discipline, patience, coordination, and skill. When you relied on your guild for progression, and there was no contingency plan for gearing. Omaric never got the opportunity to drag his bloodied knuckles with us through magma-drenched depths, insect infested catacombs, or a floating necropolis whose arachnid trash squashed you like a bug. But he still got a small taste of what it was like. Enough of a taste enough to grant him perspective. Or so I thought.

Omaric had no problem gaining ground in Descendants of Draenor. He planted his foot firmly into Wrath's progression and kept it there, dividing his time between the 25-Man and his 10-Man membership in Eh Team. And when Cheeseus' curtain call came at the end of Ulduar, Omaric teamed with Bretthew to lead the 25-Man progression team through both Tournament of Champions and Icecrown Citadel. No easy task, especially considering the opinionated crew we brought to the plate. Omaric came away from that experience with a new respect for players like Cheeseus and Blain, Leading players is hard.

Leading people is hard.

When the Eh Team bomb dropped, Omaric was in the middle of blast. Having been a raid leader, I assumed he'd take ownership, make a call, shut it down, loop me in...something. Every single player in that group lost credibility with me in an instant. I vowed never to put them in charge of anything ever again. Recent events, however, caused me to reconsider the loot collusion story, as well as the major players involved.

Pawns on the Board

Omaric was one of the deniers, thrown under the proverbial bus during Bheer's grand confession. I'd known Bheer longer than Omaric, and simply defaulted to trusting him. This was a mistake. Over the last few months, I gained a profoundly new perspective of Bheer. For someone perceptibly distraught at playing a part in sweeping collusion under the rug, Bheer demonstrated little remorse in pilfering the guild vault or indulging in self-righteous statements like demanding I be the one to apologize. He was also quick to finger Crasian as the core conspirator, even though I knew the truth (and got a confession of my own). A moral compass spinning out of control, coupled with an apparent vendetta for Crasian, made little sense -- unless, of course, one might consider an alternative motive: revenge.

Bheer had a problem fitting in. He demonstrated it in the awkwardness of his constant gem cutting between pulls, long after raiders like Kelden had blown their stack in annoyance. But Bheer's struggle to find a place among the group went much deeper than Ekasa's lisp or Sentra's douchebaggery or Divinepants' all talk/no play attitude -- his vulnerability stemmed from a deep-seated lack of self-esteem, a reason many of us turn to video games in the first place, free from judging eyes and cruel words at the sight of us.

When I met Bheer face-to-face, witnessing his girth with my own eyes, my suspicions were confirmed. People were cruel. I didn't have to ask if he'd been bullied as a kid. It's common sense. What isn't necessarily common sense is how the effects of bullying manifest in you as an adult. A lack of trust in others. The inability to open up about problems, out of fear of ridicule. Doing whatever you can to ensure you are included in the group, desperately avoiding being cast out, being alone. No wonder Bheer approved of my "guaranteed raid spots for Elites" rule in Wrath, then masked his disgust for the change in that same rule under the pretenses of "loyalty". No wonder he went with Drecca in Herp Derp, where his spot was guaranteed and safe. To Bheer, I was just another bully, just another person in his life telling him his place in DoD was in jeopardy. His spot was never in jeopardy, but the horse blinders of his bullying years narrowed his focus to the most important issue: removing threats to exclusion.

The dysfunctional relationship between Crasian and Bheer made more sense every moment I reconsidered the story. I knew they didn't get along. But Crasian was popular, well-liked, and one of the best-geared, best-played DKs on Deathwing-US during Wrath. And, being roommates with Bretthew strengthened that popularity within DoD's circles. What kinds of conversations did Crasian and Bretthew have about Bheer behind his back? A kind of paranoid insecurity must have set in. As Crasian's popularity increased, Bheer's place in Eh Team grew more tenuous. The constant clash for melee dps loot added to the strain. Then, Crasian threatened to re-assemble Eh Team, sans Bheer. This devastated him, causing Bheer to grow so averse to the thought of Crasian, he couldn't even bring himself to read a private message from the guy.

He'd be willing to be do anything to be rid of Crasian. Perhaps, even, to embellish the collusion story and pin it on Crasian.

When viewed through this new lens, the yarn of Eh Team's collusion seemed far less hyperbolic. Did it happen? Yes. Was it wrong? Absolutely. Was it borne of malice intent on wreaking havoc within the very fabric of the guild, the goal of which was to pull DoD apart, strand by strand?

Probably not.

But blowing it out of proportion seemed the most logical way to inspire me into kicking Crasian out the door. In this new light, Bheer seemed no better than Crasian. In the end, they were both loot whores. The difference was that Bheer was smart enough to get to me first, "helping" me remove the necessary pawns from the board.

Helping Friends

Eh Team's habits were nothing more than typical gamer malfeasance. But of course, all of this perception came long after Omaric's promotion to ranged DPS officer. That happened at the start of Cataclysm, while the blood of Eh Team's betrayal was still fresh on Omaric's hands. I had no choice. Better to have a proven raid leader in charge of the masses, than to have an amateur lead them over a cliff. Omaric's position was structured so he couldn't take advantage of the guild, even if he wanted to. Now, after seeing Bheer's story from a different angle, I had renewed faith that Omaric wanted the best for DoD.

Until I found out about his alt.

By day, Omaric played the elemental shaman Zuzax, but by night, he was moonlighting as a death knight named Raradina, helping a group of friends with various 10-Man raid achievements, acting as a filler when needed.

You get one guess as to which 10-Man guild he just happened to choose to help.

It wasn't enough that Omaric was helping them on the side, he had to physically move his alt from DoD into their guild in order to ensure they had enough players present to qualify for guild raiding achievements. I'll admit I wasn't pleased with his choices, but just as it was with Riskers, I had no business telling him who he could or couldn't play with.

I could, however, remind him of the dual-guilding policy, in place well before he ever set foot in DoD.

"Other players are dual-guilding, so this is really kind of a double-standard, Hanzo," Omaric's voice was thick with disgust.

"If they are, I don't know about it. As soon as I do, I remove them."

"Well, you know about Insayno's two characters in Quit Your Job. Why aren't you kicking him out?"

"We're not in competition with them. We're not a PvP guild. This is something I've stated since the very beginning. The hard feelings come about when people put alts in guilds that compete with us. Lots of people have come to me over the years to ask if they can have an alt in a friend's guild. I'm not heartless. I take these situations on a case-by-case basis. But the general rule of thumb is, you don't do it if they are the competition."

"So I'm being punished for choosing to play with my friends..."

They're not our friends. They're the competition. Get some ethics.

Before I could respond, Ventrilo exploded with the sound of Blain's voice.

"Just MAKE a DECISION. SERIOUSLY. Ok? This has gone on long enough. We were finally able to put Herp Derp behind us, and now you are just DRAGGING IT BACK IN."

Wide eyed, I shut my mouth, just to see how far he'd take it. God knows how long this had been pent up.

"I don't really care what you want to do, Omaric. Play with Drecca, stay in whatever you want. But MAKE a DECISION. Sick and tired of all these distractions. It accomplishes NOTHING. If you don't like Hanzo's rules, leave. But don't waste our time with this."

The rest of the officers and I sat quiet a moment while the dust settled from Blain's mini-explosion.

"Alright, well. I guess that settles that. Thanks...for everything...I guess!" Omaric tried to stay chipper after the Blainslamming.

Pfft. He got off easy.


Omaric didn't quit the guild right away. He lingered in the roster well into the evening, struggling with the decision. Perhaps he was trying to convince ex-Eh Team members to go with him; perhaps they were trying to convince him to change his mind. Whatever the case, my pitch was done: Stay with DoD and be a part of one of the last few guilds on the server focusing on 25-Man content, or take the easy way out, with a handful of players that epitomized everything wrong with the gamer stereotype.

He was gone by the morning, marking the end of the third exodus of DoD.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

4.39. True Colors

Gods Will Be Watching

"So, what's the status? It's been several weeks. Are you changing the line-up?"

Sir Klocker, Neps, Jungard, and Blain remained silent while I drilled Riskers in officer chat. I made a concerted effort to keep my tone in check.

"I don't really have a lot of options!" He sounded frustrated and defeated.

You have options. You just don't like any of them.

"You've been trying to get them to return to DoD?"

"Hanzo, let's face it...they're not really interested in that. At all."

"I completely understand. Not everyone is going to agree with my decisions. So, recruitment then? Perhaps replacing them is the better option?"

He sighed into the mic.

Go ahead. Say it. Tell me how this situation is completely unfair. That I did this to you. Tell me it's all my fault, while all of the officers are listening. I know you want to.

"I...can't really replace them. It's not an option for this team. We just wanna play, and we're getting things done."

"Not guild achievements," Neps and Sir Klocker both piped up, nearly in unison.

"You're getting things done," Blain added, "but they aren't relevant to DoD."

Silence lingered a moment. I took a deep breath.

"I know you're not dumb, Riskers. You know exactly what we're dealing with here. We have a 10-Man team comprised of guildies that are checked out, and non-guildies who have publicly wiped their asses with DoD. All eyes are on Herp Derp, now. ‘Why are they posting kill shots in the forums?’ ‘What’s being done about them?’. This is my life right now, Riskers."

"The people in this guild want to know why I'm still putting it up with it. And the reason is: You. You’re a good player and a good guy; you've contributed to DoD since as far back as Wrath. You know the ropes. And you've been given a raw deal, here...which sucks a lot. But I wanted to give you a fair opportunity to make it right."

Pack your bags. We're going on a guilt trip.

Riskers still had no options. He hadn't recruited, hadn't changed anyone's mind, so why were we going through this charade? Because I honestly thought he would've walked away from them, after seeing their behavior, their treatment of DoD.

I want to tell you that he did. I want to tell you that Riskers defied the gamer stereotype of cruel incivility, of unadulterated selfishness in the name of phat lewts. I want to tell you this, but I can't...because it isn't what happened. 

"Hanzo, whatever rift you and Drecca have going on, that's none of my business. I don't feel it's fair that you're putting this on me, and now I should have to deal with that. I just want to play the game and not have to worry about any of this."

"...and in any other situation, this would not be an issue. I hope you realize that. I mean, I'm really trying to make sure you do understand that. I don't think it's right for me to sit here and try to dictate who plays with who. You're right, that is none of my business. Players decide who they want to play with, not me."

Just put him out of his misery and be done with it. Quit dragging this out.

"But how this guild is treated by current and former members is my business. If I found out a group of DoD was running with a ninja-looting guild for pick-up runs in Tol Barad, do you think I would let that slide?"


"Damn right I wouldn't! We're better than that. Grouping with douchebags isn't a prerequesite to enjoying this game. So, why would I treat this situation any differently? When a few good folks like yourself are actively grouping with players openly disrespectful toward all of us?"

"To be fair, I don't think they appreciated being called parasites."

It isn't slander if it's true.

"I'll admit that announcement was a little emotional, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from. That team is using up guild resources now on every run. Guild repairs, flasks, etc...and contributing nothing in return. No achievements. No camaraderie. Nothing. Behaving like nothing is wrong at all. But we know something is wrong. Something is eating away at this guild. And we need to put it to bed, today."

Stitching the Wound

When Riskers parted ways with DoD, those in Herp Derp that bore the DoD guild tag were stripped of their Raider ranks, disallowing them from accessing any further guild resources. Within a couple of hours of the demotions, they left the guild on their own. There was no public outburst or profanity-laced insults, nor fanfare. They left quietly and without fuss. 

Later that evening, Neps informed me that Bheer managed to scoop out a healthy chunk of raiding materials from the guild vault before losing his rank.

"Drecca did the same on the Alliance side," he told me.

Wow. Stealing from Neps. Did they stop to kick an old man down a flight of stairs, too?

I questioned Neps as to whether or not he'd heard any justification for the final 'fuck you' flipped our way.

"Mmm, not sure who said it, but it was, like, ‘Well, if Hanzo's going to call us parasites, then I guess we better act like it'."


As so many players come and go in WoW, I doubted their departure would have an emotional impact on anyone but me. Annihilation, ever the faithful representation of DoD's idealism, took it to heart. I didn't want him to shoulder this petty load. His time was best spent elsewhere, enjoying the game, not repairing the guild leader's failed negotiations.

"Anni, if you really feel like you think you can talk some sense into them, be my guest."

"I just want to try. Whatever it is that they're bent out of shape over can't possibly be that bad. Maybe all they need is a mediator."

"You've been mediating for damn near eight years. At some point, a retired officer needs to not worry about guild administration shit. You don't have to do this."

"Kerulak, you know me. You know I can't let shit like this just drop."

Annihilation headed off to Herp Derp's vent server, with the hope of bringing back some options.

He couldn't.

But what he did bring back were a few quotes that guaranteed entertainment, particularly when considering the sources. I asked Annihilation what they said to him when he began his pilgrimage to resolve this inter-guild rivalry. And this is what they said to him.

A History of Histrionics

Bheer. A player who was in my guild as far back as Molten Core. A player for whom I carved a spot out in progression for, recommending a shift from druid to shaman in order to best get his raiding needs served. A player I promoted to Elite, only to then deal with his absence after he chose to leave progression without fair warning or explanation. A player I welcomed back to the guild without hesitation, defending him from alleged harassment from player like Crasian. A player who gladly accepted all this support, then thanked me with a single night of raiding in Cataclysm as a "courtesy", blaming rules he helped to shape as his justification for such decisions.

To Annihilation, Bheer said this:

"If Hanzo wants us to return, the first thing he's going to have to do is apologize."

Falnerashe. A player whose skill with healing was no match for her skill in judging others. A player adept at blaming failure on others with cruel insults, but rarely able to acknowledge her own incompetence at human decency. A player who stormed out of my guild, filling our forums with vile hatred toward a group of online strangers that chose to open the door and invite her in. A player whose people skills were so vast and immeasurable that her next home bled out until it was a guild of one. A player I decided was worth a second chance, because we are all human and make mistakes, that somewhere there was a shred of decency, that she was worthy of forgiveness, so that we could start fresh. A player I knew deep down wanted to play with experts, suffered no fools, and understood that our common top-end raiding culture had already begun to decay. A player that agreed to let me deal with drama, so she could focus on enjoying the game and not have to interact with idiocy; to let me push annoyances and ineffectuals out of her hair, so she wouldn't have to. The player who agreed to all of these things, and then walked away, and all of that effort wasn't even worth a single sentence explaining her exit.

To Annihilation, Falnerashe said this:

"I was expecting an officer position."

If Anni told me what Drecca said, or what Riskers said, or really any of the rest of Herp Derp, I've forgotten. I know that it was dismissive of the original issue, that they simply were tired of the fighting and wanted to get on with the playing. Which I think we can all agree is the end goal...just not at the price they were willing to pay.

But there is one more thing I remember about the quotable quotes that Anni's mediation attempt brought back. And it was really the one person I was most interested in hearing about, more than Falnerashe, more than Bheer, even more than Drecca. I was most interested in the person whom kicked this entire ordeal off. The person who gave me many opportunities to kick him to the curb (he made it very easy). The person I chose to invest in, kept working with, getting him to be more communicative, more accountable. The person who went from no-shows to texting me when he'd be a few minutes late, getting him to keep his shit together, getting him reliable, a skill far more valuable in real life than behind his shadow priest. The person I gave enough of a shit about that I constructed a new guild rank specifically for him, to make his raid life a little easier, then watched as he never even bothered to step one foot into that role, not even for a moment.

For that person, what he said to Anni spoke the greatest volume of all, because it confirmed every gut instinct I ever had about him, every red flag I chose to ignore, believing instead in the ability for a person to grow and take responsibility for their actions; to understand this was a game built on human interaction, and that we needed to rely on one another to achieve a common goal -- something he was bound to use in real life one day.

To Annihilation, Ben said absolutely nothing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Team Mentality

Hanzo levels his Paladin alt, Laire,
The Violet Hold
The following post was made to "Announcements" on the Descendants of Draenor guild forums on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011, at 6:09pm.


When I created the guild Descendants of Draenor at the end of November 2004, it was with several real-life friends I had been LANning with in the Denver, CO area. It should come as no surprise that this is often the main reason any guild forms; a group of people who know one another and get along well...decide to group up and continue playing together. It is a very simple premise -- to play with folks you enjoy spending time with.

Over the course of the next six years, that small group of people I formed with began to expand and grow, and we have had the opportunity of meeting some very diverse (read: STRANGE) individuals. I joke; in reality, we have come across many different personalities and welcomed them into the DoD family with open arms. Those players, in turn, sacrificed much of themselves to help me make this guild a better place for all, one we can all enjoy being a part of. It was because of their joint contributions that we were able to refine just who we were as a guild, and what we stood for, while sticking to my original ideals. We were to be successful as a raiding guild, and we would do it in a respectful manner, treating each other with dignity and fairness.

Name another guild on Deathwing-US that does that.

It has not been easy. We've struggled. We've wiped. We've had great players come...and go. We've had petty politics and we've dealt with them, and learned...and grown. We continue to do so every day. I was very happy to have been a part of, most recently, an online discussion in Vent where the 25m raid team actually got up and voiced their opinions...and were heard! The team and raid leaders spoke, discussed their issues, and modifications are going into play as we speak so that our players continue to have fun playing WoW, and raiding with one another.

I want to focus in on that last part for just a moment, as it is the concern of this letter. I am proud to have led Descendants of Draenor for as long as it has been around, and I enjoy spending time online with both new and old alike -- that's what makes the game enjoyable for me is the social element. I've had many guildies come to me and tell me "If it wasn't for DoD, I wouldn't be playing WoW any more..." That tells me we make a real difference -- we give a shit about the people in this guild and want to make sure they are having fun and being acknowledged, which in turn, keeps them coming back, building and maintaining our DoD community and culture.


It has come to my attention, most recently, that there are a number of people who no longer fit into this culture. When questioned, responses we've received are: 

"We are no longer the guild we once were." 

"The guild has become a sea of rules and regulations, and there is little room for anyone to relax without fear of going against something that might 'piss Hanzo off'."

"We are no longer a family."

Today, I'm here to address these issues.

First and foremost, if I didn't believe we were a family, enjoying each other's time online -- and being respectful of one another's time -- I would have dismantled the guild long ago. In response to the claim that we have too many rules and regulations, I say that it is a compilation of all the unspoken, common-sense things we have all come to agree upon -- that simply need to be written down for new members, and....well, those who lack common-sense. I know, it may seem silly to you to even consider for a moment trying to raid in green quality gear with empty sockets and no enchants...but you would be surprised how often new players think that is OK. You'd also be surprised how often people think it's OK to suddenly not show up to a raid without speaking to anyone about if their spot is magically filled by someone else at random.

The long-term players (or Vets, as I often refer to them) shouldn't need to be stressed out or worry too terribly about the sea of rules -- they helped create the rules. They are already following the rules on a day-to-day basis. Families need rules; expectations need to be set. My kids have a bed time and they know they need to go to bed at that time; my wife and I have an allowance and we know if we overspend, we're not eating! sounds silly and common-sense...but sometimes, people still need to be told these things. You shouldn't take offense to them, but rather, be thankful I took the time to write them down, so that some alt doesn't come into a raid, and accidentally roll/win an item you've been working towards for the last 3 months.

So, families have rules and families contribute. We're all a part of what makes DoD tick; it couldn't have been demonstrated any better than by the mass rush to 25 last week. It took a joint effort to pull that off -- and not everybody could contribute due to their own schedules, but many did any little thing that they could. And I appreciated that effort. It was done -- because the folks here in this guild cared about DoD and wanted it to be a success. For that, I'm very thankful and honored. Think about it, a good majority of you are officially still strangers to me...yet you have made DoD your home and your priority...and you helped turn this into a place everyone wants to be. I'm very honored by that.

Hanzo continues to grind out levels on Laire,

Just as families need contributors and rules to guide them along -- families have bad eggs, and they need to be addressed. I shouldn't have to explain to you what happens when you put a rotten apple into a basket of perfectly ripe, fresh ones -- but I'll tell you anyway: Mold grows off of the infected fruit and rots the entire basket of apples. The sad fact is that over the course of six years, we've had to deal with rotten apples; players who superficially want to be here...but could care less about contributing, and want nothing more than to suck the guild dry of its people and resources like a parasite. In many cases, it's due to either laziness or a sense of entitlement.

I have no interest in supporting either mentality -- and the poor decisions of players who could give two shits about us -- are negatively affecting those who stand for the guild. I should not have to name names, but if you take a moment and reflect on the speed-bumps of our past, it should be obvious to you what types of behavior I frown upon, and the people who made those rules famous:
  • Talking shit about other players/other guilds. It's disrespectful and immature.
  • Raiding to loot gear with the full intention of quitting. See above.
  • Gearing to the tooth and then disappearing, leaving a huge hole in our raid team, without giving any thought as to how you have negatively affected many other players and their schedules.
  • Using our guild resources (gold, repair money, flasks) etc. to fund the progression of another guild -- or simply to fund a group of individuals that do not contribute in return (5s, Guild Achievements, etc.)
  • Using exploits, either in BGs, or in a Raid Environment, to accomplish progression.
  • Being blatantly bad at your class while simultaneously denying any such imperfection, thus negating any opportunity to improve.
  • A self-righteous attitude, as if your shit doesn't stink, and that you cannot be told...nor be in a position to learn...anything. Nobody is perfect.
Most recently, a new type of rotten apple has emerged that I feel compelled to add to that list:
  • Choosing to prioritize 10s over 25s, not due to schedule, but rather, out of spite, as if to 'teach the administrators of the guild a lesson'.
It's painful for me to have to deal with issues like this. Some of the people I've had to cut from the guild due to reasons listed above are things I think about every day. Two separate occasions stand out in my mind the most when thinking about ejecting players from DoD, and I gotta tell you...they were hard fucking decisions for me to make. It wasn't as simple as kicking a Paladin-who-shall-remain-nameless-that-likes-Burning-Man, where everyone cheers and posts massive CONGRATULATIONS / THANKS posts on the forums.

No, it was more like me having to listen to a grown woman cry her eyes out, begging me to reconsider my decision and that she had absolutely no control over the behavior and attitude of her significant other, and that we meant everything to her -- she considered us family -- and wanted desperately to find a way to make it solve a problem that was unsolvable.

It was also like me having to take one of my best friends aside, whom I confided with on a daily basis, and whom shared many of my own best interests in the guild...and tell him I had to remove him because he could no longer keep up. It was difficult, because I know exactly why he could not keep up; he had a new born baby, new job, and new responsibilities to deal with, and his poor play was only getting worse. I could have kept him, it's true -- but I also need to think about what is best for the guild. And to provide a positive, fun progressive guild, I needed quality players as well as quality people...and if he had stayed, I'm certain we would not have gone quite as far in WotLK as we did.

I struggle with those decisions every day. All of those decisions to remove people have been hard on me -- because of the fact that I consider you all friends...and family.

And so, I will not stand by, and allow dirt to be kicked in my face, and in the face of the rest of the guild, while players continue to make statements about how we have become a faceless, rule-governed guild, while they hypocritically suck the life out of us and our resources, taking advantage of the very rules they themselves helped to create in the first place...while contributing nothing in return...because they feel justified in their decisions -- and it's more convenient to just "not be online" when I'm in-game.

DoD means enough to me that I will do my best to protect those whose intentions are aligned with the guild's -- no matter how difficult a decision it becomes. You have busted your balls on my behalf to remain here and make DoD the best damn guild on Deathwing-US.

And to those players who couldn't give a shit, let this be a warning: it is time for you to pack your bags, and hit the road. Or I will be packing it for you...

...and it is going to come a hell of a lot faster than the 20 day idle mark.