The Gray Place

Do That Jerk-Uh, Watch Me Work Ya’ll

Posted in Gaming, General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on July 7, 2010

I can be a jerk sometimes.  My wife would attest to that.  My family would attest to that.  My friends would attest to that.  Peoples of the Internets probably can attest to that.  In fact the PotI (Peoples of the Internets, which includes guildies) probably think I’m snippier or grouchier then I really am.  I admittedly don’t translate well “into” text.  In the real life I talk with my hands, laugh all the time at improper things, tell old stories, and approach everything with a healthy dose of honesty and sadistic sense of humor.

Those last two are the only thing about me that translates “into” text and when they do, they usually translate poorly (naturally) and get me called a jerk.

I think I was over at Matticus’s titty and reading one of his tittiers post about leadership.  Now I’m paraphrasing very poorly here (and I’m too lazy to link it, if you want to read it go look it up yourself you slug) but it was basically their experience that not every player could improve past a certain point.  They each had a max playing threshold and no matter what was tried they could not pass it.  (If I screwed that up, I’m sorry but hey it’s the internet, deal.)

My knee jerk reaction was to dismiss this since I’m “one of those people” who think that through suffering and martyrdom you can always become a better person/player.  It was instilled to me at a young age, that unless you somehow suffered and endured you could not be any “better”.  Muscles break down and rebuild stronger, scars heal (even the mental ones if you shove them away enough and poor booze and isolation on top of them), and if things weren’t hard then they weren’t worth doing.  Yes I am being melodramatic on purpose, but I come from two families who pride themselves on suffering, fighting, and enduring albeit they’re completely isolated beings who have, generation after generation, hung themselves in the family windmill or tied up family members in box cars and horse-whipped them for family “justice”.  Thank you Mom and Dad, story time was always so much fun when I was a kid.

But I started thinking about it.  I suppose it does make a little sense.  We humans have limitations.  Not all of them are equal.  Likewise we have different motivations to make us push past those limitations.  Or not.  Some people are content to log in and give something a few shots to avoid doing the dishes or get their mind off real life for a while.  Some folks are motivated by the fact that they haven’t done a boss yet or that the encounter itself is challenging.

Why should I be surprised that someone’s best is really their best when stand in the fire?  Maybe they really are doing everything they can to play their character and move out of that fire but have just reached their limitation.  They WANT to be better, but they can’t seem to get past the fact that they have to play their character AND move at the same time.  Not everyone makes a mistake and grits their teeth and makes sure it never happens again.  (Oh and before you jackals start, I’m not a perfect player.  I’m not soapboxing.  Save your snark and go suck your Ego’s cock somewhere else.  There’s only one Ego allowed to suck it’s own yonk around here and it’s mine.)  So when I used to sit there as a raid leader and pull what little hair I have left out, snarl, snap, and clench my teeth because people were making the same mistake over and over and swearing they were trying their best, maybe they really were.

So if that’s true does that point out my failure in my approach when I was raid leading?  I never wanted to mark one player so the rest could follow them around blindly because I wanted them to be aware of their surroundings.  I wanted them to anticipate encounter mechanics and adjust accordingly, so I didn’t use call outs or warnings.  I tried to teach them HOW the encounter worked instead of saying “just do X”, because I wanted them to be able to apply it to other encounters.  I always thought that by teaching them the hows and whys they’d automatically adapt and grow as players, because that’s what I tend to do.

Maybe instead I was hurting us by not doing some of the things I could have to cut some corners and make things easier on us.  Maybe I was getting some people’s best.  I brought this quandary up in vent last night after our raid and I’m sure I sounded like a jerk.  It sounds fairly “elitist”.

Maybe some people’s best is not as good as other people’s.
Maybe they can’t help it.

Admittedly I’m twisting the original post a bit.  And part of me thinks it sounds like a cop-out. Maybe it’s not that we all have a playing ability limitation, it’s that we have a motivational limitation.  It’s our motivations that push us past the glass ceiling of our playing limitations.  They are the driving force in making us get better.

I thought their article was a good read and I like wrinkling up my forehead now and then I wondering if I did the right thing.

Another nail in the coffin

Posted in General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on May 5, 2010

The White House Correspondents’ Association’s Dinner is completely stupid.  It’s yet another example that our press has become another special interest group.  I’m tired of watching our presidents yuck it up and pander to a bunch of “journalists”, I’m tired of the second-rate entertainers from Hollywood, I’m tired of the massive parties organized around it.

It’s a joke.

I imagine many people’s lives are like mine.  You wake up around 5am, get your kids up and dressed (“It puts it’s shirt in the laundry basket or it gets the hose!”), fed your two stupid chocolate labs (AKA: The Frat Boys), pack lunches, forget to make coffee, drop the kids off at grandmas, and drive to work while cursing the gods because nobody plays any good songs in the morning.  I need some metal to wake me up damnit, I don’t need to hear bullshit Aerosmith love songs when I’m all bleary eyed.  In fact I never need to hear any Aerosmith songs.

Once at work you check your phone messages in which you get called a racist or get told how to do your job, you check your emails which all want something from you and offer nothing in return.  You look at your desk and decide which stack is gonna get your attention today.  You wait with bated breath to see whose going to call in sick or no-show, so you know what you can get done today (Hey it’s like raiding!), and you check your guild website to see if there’s been anything posted since last night.  You check and see how the Red Wings are doing, then you start logging yesterdays paperwork for the day.

Your employees come in and you yell at the guy whose late.  Your not really mad at him, but your pissed that you lost 2 people to Sindragosa’s AOE blast each attempt the night before.  (You have a right to be pissed, goddamn keyboard turners.)  You get your people going and hand out their paperwork, chide them for not filling out yesterday’s out properly, and then you wander back to your office to steal a cup of coffee from another supervisor and check your WoL reports from last nights raid.

During your day, you say “fuck” about 120 times.  You help out little shriveled up old men named “Whitey” (whose black LOL) and you listen to his WWII stories (Anyone whose served deserves to be listened to IMO), you get your Director the figures he wants cus he’s got a meeting with the Mayor, you promise an employee if he pees on the job site again you will fire him, while his dick is still in his hand.  You buy another crew coffee because they went above and beyond the day before (secret:  You don’t drink it with them.  You are rewarding them, not being their buddy).  That reminds me of a saying my father had when it came to his employees.  “I don’t give a shit if you like me.  Liking turns to loving, loving turns to fucking, and I’ll be damned if I fuck any of you guys.”  Thanks Dad.  I was like six when you taught me that.

You head out into the city to check on your people, check address, talk to the public and further curse DJ’s who talk more than they play music.  By the time lunch rolls around you’ve had 4 mowers break down, projecting to cost you over $600 dollars in repairs and your losing  $140 per hour for each mower being down, not to mention diminishing returns on employee costs as you find other work for them.  You sneak home to grab a sandwich and share half of it with your daughter whose just come home from pre-school and thinks your food tastes so much better than hers.

You grab a soda from the fridge and something sweet you shouldn’t eat because A. Your fat.  B.  Your going to end up going blind or losing a foot.  And you head back to the job sites to make sure your people are doing their job and aren’t late getting back from lunch.  Then you head into whatever meetings you’ve got, then it’s back to the desk to do paperwork, talk to guildies via text message, and head back out into the city to put out whatever brush fires just pulled you away from your paperwork.  You round out the day going over your people’s completed paperwork and start drawing up in your head tomorrow’s work assignments.

Once the equipment is secure, people are punched out, you bullshit with your fellow supervisors for 30 minutes going over things from how to manipulate the system so your department can actually function, to which City Councilman is screwing his neighbor, to telling old rehashed stories from back in the day.

Then you lock up and head home.  When you walk into your house, you’ve got two wonderful children who are waiting to destroy any hopes you had of being left alone and a wife whose trying to clean (Secret:  I do housework also so I don’t think it’s a “woman’s responsibility”, but God do I wish I married a woman who thought it was her sacred duty to serve me.  Someone remind me why I married an independent woman?).

You send your eldest son to the kitchen to bring you a beer and a salt shaker, you marvel in his training when he brings back a bottle opener also, and you sit there on the couch with both of them and ask them how school was.  Somedays your wife cooks, somedays you cook, somedays you say screw it and you go out to dinner (If she has her “face” on.)

You do the homework thing, get the kids in the tub, then tuck them off into bed by 7:30pm FIRM.  Srs.  My kids are up by 5am.  They have a firm bedtime except on special nights.  After 7:30 you and the misses share a few laughs, but because she’s like you, she needs her own space by herself so she goes off to read, scrapbook, stare at bullshit “reality” shows on TV and you wait for 8:15 to roll around if it’s a raid night.

Coffee in hand you log in at 8:15 on the dot because you are a Grade A, well oiled machine and start sending out invites for your raid.  You handle your stuff, have fun, then log by 11:30.  You debate shaving before your shower or having a wank in it.  Then you brush your teeth and head to bed to cop a feel on a boob.

5am your alarm clock goes off.

Last night.  I dropped out of raid leading.  Done.  It just doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore.  I don’t like feeling that twice a week I HAVE to be somewhere at a certain time.  If I was just one of the guys in the raid it would be different, but because I’m the guy putting it together and running it I can’t just no-show.

The GM didn’t bug me (I’m a lucky raid leader.  She sits back and lets me be for the most part), the players don’t bother me (even their annoying parts), the stress doesn’t bother me, WoW doesn’t interfere with my responsibilities as a father or husband.

I just don’t want to “have” to be somewhere.

I didn’t do the farewell martyr post.  I didn’t do the “advice” post to my replacement.  I just notified my GM after the raid and that was that.

I’m not quitting WoW yet, I’m not quitting raiding yet, I just don’t want to be the guy with 100% attendance anymore.  I may focus on other characters, I may work on my healing, I may just start from scratch somewhere completely random.

Raid leading is something that I have enjoyed immensely.  I learned a lot from it and it’s got some excellent real world applications (I can taunt an angry Director off someone like nobody’s business).  I did a good job of it and came to understand it’s nuances.  When I took the job I thought it was all about “strategy”, but I came to realize that’s the smallest part of it.

It’s really about people.

Now comes the part where I find out if I can be “just one of the guys”.

Project Next?

Posted in Gaming, General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 23, 2010

Unrelated:  Tobold hit it on the head for the most part.

I am a life long gamer.  After ten-something years of marriage my wife finally understands.  We are not like normal people.  Normal people don’t take half a day off work to come home and play a board game.  Normal people don’t know the odds of the combined number ten coming up on 3D6.  Normal people don’t fly across the country to play a video game with people who they can play with from their own home.

I tried to relate too her it’s much like how I used to think Polish Americans were like other “white” people.  I assumed they were just your average boring, unable to dance, white peoples.  They are not.  Once I was on the inside (and poking one) their true nature manifested.  Their loud, fierce, goofy, family oriented, religious, party happy people who love to start shit just for the sake of drama.  I love them and my wife’s family.  (Secret:  I make sure I drink a lot before family functions).

In fact I have dubbed my Polish in-laws, “White Mexicans”.  They act the same way.  And Polka?  My god that’s just a step from Mexican music.  (The running joke at my house is that since my kids are Mexican/Polish they are going to break into their own cars and steal them).

I have no idea where I’m headed in my next stage as a gamer.  MMO’s are fantastic for me except for the part of having to play with other people.  The very thing that draws me too them, makes me want to leave.

I think the time I have left in WoW I want to spend getting my guildies over a few humps we have in front of us.  I want them to become a working unit in regards to raiding.  I want people to be interchangeable in regards to roles and teach them to think and react on their own and not wait for the raid leader to say something.  We’ve made a lot of strides over the years.  We used to be halfass social guild that couldn’t even find a raid entrance.  Now we’ve (and it’s a GROUP effort) transformed into a small solid social guild that clears content with a laid back approach.

I’ve been trying to prepare someone to take my spot when I’m gone.  We’ve got a bunch of people who have lots of great abilities to bring to the table, it just seems no one wants to step up and take the responsibility.  I can understand that.  The problem is I think their worried about making mistakes and letting people down.  I understand, but it’s funny to me because they don’t realize how many mistakes I’ve made over the years.  It’s part of the learning process.

Single player games are fantastic for me, but great games come along once in a blue moon.  I like being able to *pause* my game and go sit on the couch with the wife and watch a 40 minute (DVR FTW) TV show, then go back into the office and squeeze off some more headshots.

GTA IV update.

1.  I have shot and killed police officers.  I know I said I wouldn’t.  One particular mission is impossible without it.  I am a hypocrite.

2.  I killed Dwayne instead of Playboy.  No I did not look up ahead  of time to see the outcomes.  Here’s why.  Playboy is a fake ass gangster.  Dwayne’s the “harder” of the two.  But ever since prison Dwayne’s been out of sorts, talking about killing himself and stuff.  Playboy lives in a penthouse, Dwayne lives in the projects.  Whose got more bankroll?

I could just buy an Xbox 360.  My son’s older now and while he still enjoys the Wii I think an Xbox would see more use from multiple people now.  I may buy one this X-Mas when we buy a new TV.

I was “this” close to running a role-playing game again.  I’ve got my custom setting, had a few players in mind, and an interesting story to delve into.  I haven’t ran a game in nearly two years.  I’m sure some folks have attributed it to me playing WoW, but that’s really a bullshit halfass reason.

At one point there was some real immaturity going on in the little social circle of RPG players I knew.  WoW was “teh debil” and people got out their soap boxes and acted superior and like fucktards.  I try to stay out of cliques and bullshit.  I’m sure people had their piece to say about me, but I’ve always been of the attitude if you don’t have the stones to bring it to me, you can go fuck yourself.

But two large reasons I don’t play RPGs with my friends anymore are …

1.  Because I don’t like firm commitments.  If I don’t log into WoW for 3 days and nobody misses me.  If I no-show a RPG game I’m running, 4-5 other peoples lives are impacted.

2.  I got tired of the clique.  Whose pissed at who, this guy sucks cus of XYZ, you gotta invite this person if you invite that person, etc.  Fuck it.  I don’t have time for that shit.  Ya’ll are fucking up my Wa.

Let me put this out there.  I LIKE my friends a lot.  I like their flaws.  I accept them as that being part of them (Just like I know the accept my flaws too).  But I don’t want the basis of our friendship to revolve around an RPG game.

So anyway before I got preachy I was saying how I was close to running an RPG.  Then my wife got pregnant *shakes fist at the mail man*. So that idea got moved to the back burner for a bit.  Oh sure, I could run a shorter game.  That’s not the issue.  My life is just crammed full of enough stuff.  I don’t want to cram something that’s supposed to be fun on top of it all.

I wasn’t too keen on running a game in the summer also.  That’s when my workload explodes and I put in about 10 hours at work and 2 more hours at home every day.

I dunno.  But tonight I plan on kicking back, pouring myself a Pepsi with a LOT of ice in it, logging into WoW, and tanking like a mofo.

My wife makes Mexican wet dreams come true.

Posted in Gaming, General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 21, 2010

Yesterday at my house every single illegal male Mexican’s wet dream came true…

She’s white, pregnant, and in the kitchen making tortillas.  My wife ladies and gentlemen.

BANG a roast cooking all day with chilis, BANG 50% pinto beans 50% black beans made by me (started at noon too), BANG homemade flour tortillas, BANG a little cilantro and chopped raw onion, BANG a little cheese and sour scream.

Hot damn.  I guess I would actually marry her again if I had to do it all over.

My GM texts me last night before the raid.  Something to the effect of “Your healing ICC tonight?  I wish I wasn’t so tired so I could come see you yell at people and fail”.  Well it was something like that.  She knows I dislike Paladin healing.  BTW yeah we kid like that.  She’s got a dry sense of humor like mine.

I am a tank.  It’s what I do.  I can go ret and rock face, I can go Holy to round out a group for a five man.  But at heart I love to tank.  I used to firmly and viciously avoid healing in a run because of a little secret that most hybrid tanks keep to themselves.  We don’t want to get shoved into healing just because we “can”.

When you are a tank you constantly have to fight to stay on the gear edge (vs the mobs, vs the DPS).  You have to constantly bring your A game because EVERYONE can see when you don’t.  You’ve got 2-3 other tanks breathing down your neck just waiting to take your spot.  You don’t want to do ANYTHING that jeopardizes your spot as a  frontline tank.  Especially healing, and there’s NO help for you if your good at it.

When I started raiding I was the last tank to hit 70.  We all were really cool about swapping spots for the two raids per week.  However our strongest tank at the time was a Druid and we tanks decided for the good of the guild (we weren’t really organized like we are now) the Druid would go both raids and the Warrior and I would flip-flop.

I was cool with this (some days it really really sucked) but we were progressing on content even if I wasn’t at the front.  However I KNEW I was just one healer /gquitting from getting stuck in a healing role.  (Secret:  No I do not think Healing is “sissy”.  I understand how hard it is and I take care of my healers.)  I did not want to be the guy people looked at and sheepishly asked if I’d go to heals.

I bitched loudly about healing.  I cursed and made it known I hated it when I had to heal to get a raid off the ground.  I was two steps from being a big baby about it.  But I did not want to lose my spot as a tank.  (We don’t have a maintank spot and we still rotate).  Yes I was insecure.

You can fit 5-6 DPS in per raid.  2-3 healers (Secret:  We’ve almost always gone with 2.  Keeps us lean and mean).  Then lastly you can fit 2 tanks in per raid.  When you’ve got 4+ tanks in the guild it’s really easy to “lose” your spot even without anyone taking it.  Especially to healing.

Fast forward 2 years later.  I am a secure and vetted tank.  So secure that I’m able to offer up my spot for other tanks and I’ll come go as DPS on raids.  I’m cool sitting out raids so other people get some shots at gear and experience.  Last night I was even so secure I moved myself to heals to get our raid up and running.

I actually enjoyed it.  My Resto Druid partner did a great job on the raid with a few “extras” on the tank and me and my Beacon of Light took care of the tanks and I did a few extras on the raid.  I screwed the pooch once and I should have bubbled one of our rogues who got a little trigger happy, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.  Lower Spire plus Festergut and Rotface all went down smooth.  (We also had some great DPS who played smartly and that helped a bit).

My pre-raid warm up speech was basically, “I’m healing tonight.  You bitches better make this easy.  I’ve never healed ICC.”  And my raiders totally kicked ass.  Kudos to all 9 of them.

Some random observations I learned.

1.  WTF is it with all the steps and line of sight issues?
2.  Why does only mail SP gear drop?  And why is it better than my plate gear?  Srs.  Why is my Paladin wearing Shammy antlers on his head?
3.  The difference between a good Pally healer and a bad one is timing your heals.  Soon as I saw decimate being cast I’d queue up Holy Light to land right after decimate hits.
4.  Whose your Daddy?  Aura Mastery, that’s who.
5.  Healing in ICC is a lot of “nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing HOLYFUCKSHITSPAM”.

I had debated between the FoL vs the HoL spec.  I ended up going HoL, because fights like Marrowgar and Festergut seemed to lend themselves to it and those were the two fights I was worried about.  (One spec is big crit little fast heals, one spec is big slow mega heals with unlimited mana)

I found myself casting lots of Flash of Lights, but man it was nice to reach down and POUR out the heals with Holy Light carpet bombing when I needed too.  Going by our WoL I casted FoL Vs HoL on an almost 2:1 ratio.  If you add in Holy Shock, I may be on a 3:1 with HoL vs FoL/HoS ratio.  Man I don’t know if that’s enough to make me go grab the T9 4 piece and regem/respec.  I’m leaning towards doing it.

Most of our regular raiders are fairly geared and experienced (unless they go into “short bus” mode like last friday) so I’m not spamming heals constantly where HoL would be more attractive.

Dunno.  I had a blast and enjoyed the challenge.  I don’t want to make it a habit, but it wasn’t all that bad and I learned a lot.

I didn’t even yell at anyone.  Although I did ask “Why is there a small ooze in the middle of my raid?” once.  “My” raid…I’m such a prick.

The frosted side.

Posted in Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 7, 2010

See the post below for the “real life” side of my day.

Part II

Last night was our first downing of the Blood Princes.  (Remember we are a social guild, we don’t pretend to be raiders.)  It was a long night in some aspects, but not a bad night by any means.  It actually highlighted a few thoughts I’d like to bring up about raid leading.  Raid leading to me is a combination of knowledge and leadership.  Some of this occurs naturally and some of it occurs through learning.  There are different methods and different styles for various situations and even different types of guilds.

My only real raid leading experience in WoW comes from a social guild background.  We do not auto kick players from the raid who are performing poorly, we do not follow a strict schedule, and we do not screen applicants like a progression focused guild does.  So these observations should be held within context of our guild’s focus.  These are things I’ve learned and am still learning as I go.

I.  The raid leader position is important.  It does not make YOU important.  You are still a guild member the same as everyone else.  You are not entitled to special treatment or consideration.  You do not “control” the people in your raid.  You guide them when needed.  You are responsible for them and their time.  You are not master over it.

II.  You will make mistakes.  You drop the ball on a call out, you don’t pay attention to the enrage, you skip someone on loot.  You are playing your character and handling 9 others.  Things happen.  Identify them and learn from them.  You should understand that nearly every single call you make will be second guessed.  It’s part of the job.  Get used to it.

III.  Respect and credibility is earned.  If you want people to listen to you, you must give them a reason too.  Be consistent, be fair, be firm.  My raiders know whats in or out-of-bounds during a raid.  It’s because I constantly re-enforce what’s acceptable during a raid.  If you make a mistake admit to it.  I taunted the wrong boss last night and caused a wipe.  I told the raid that it was my fault.  I feel I have credibility with my raiders because they know I don’t hold myself to a different set of standards.

IV.  Use the tools you have available.  If your GM does not have a firm PUBLIC raid policy in place you have nothing to fall back on.  Use the rules to support your actions.  You are not the GM.  You are a project manager.

Gather knowledge of the encounters before the raid even starts.  Watch the videos, read the articles, gather information and tactics so you can apply a strategy to the encounter.  There is an entire wealth of information out there.  Use it.

In regards to tools, I also suggest using third-party add ons to help your performance.  I once forgot to check and see if we had a soul stone up.  We wiped because of it.  I found an add-on that lets me monitor buffs, soul stones, flasks, etc.  I have never missed another soul stone.  If you have trouble observing the status of your raid, use a unit frame add-on or healing display.  You can see exactly whose going to need mana or whose out of range at a glance.

V.  Not everyone is going to like you.  You will make unpopular calls.  Sometimes someone doesn’t want to go on add duty.  Sometimes someone does not agree that they don’t get to roll on a piece of loot.  Do not base your performance on these things.  Uphold the raid rules (see number IV).  Refer them to the GM or proper people.  You are leading a raid.  Not setting policy.

VI.  Listen to your raiders.  Don’t obey them.  Measure what their saying.  They might see things you don’t.  They might also not see the big picture.  It’s not weakness to take good advice or accept alternative information.  However raid leading is not a democracy. The middle of a run is not the place for a theory-crafting session or debate.  You are in charge.

VII.  Make the call.  It’s your job to make the decision.  Bloodlust at the start or Bloodlust at the soft enrage?  Combat res on who?  Whose a backup gunner?  All DPS on the boss and ignore the adds?  You are the raid lead.  Make a call, even if it’s the wrong one.  Your raiders will respect you for it.

This also entails telling your raiders what their doing wrong and right.  I hardly ever publically single anyone out if they’ve made a mistake.  But it’s your job to let people know what they are doing that’s causing you to fail.  Be honest and rational about it.  Screaming that your DPS is terrible doesn’t do anything.  Telling them what they are doing wrong fixes the problem.

The same with praise.  Don’t give blanket praises.  “Everyone did a good job”, doesn’t teach people what they did right.  Telling someone they did a good job keeping the orbs up tells them exactly what they did right.

VIII.  Realize it’s a video game.  Every member should be playing because their having fun.  There are times when you need to crack the whip but there are times you need to let them joke around.  After a long night on a progression boss, let a few your momma jokes go around before the next pull.  It will do wonders for morale and playing ability.  Keep them moving, but stop and take a break for the bathroom, drinks, and a general stretch.

IX.  Have a flexible plan.  I always have a game plan for what the night is going to entail.  If it’s a night of old downed bosses, I keep the raid moving fast like a sprint but a little looser than normal.  I focus on different strategies to try new things or assign people in different roles to cross train them.  If it’s a progression night I treat the raid as an endurance run.  I try to keep them motivated and tight, we adjust as we go, and keep moving forward.  They all know when they sign up for a progression night it might turn into a rough slog.

You have to have a strategy which is centered around your raiders.  You might be melee heavy or all casters.  You might have a undergeared alt tank.  Put your raid team in a position it can have it’s best performance on.  Weak on DPS, then don’t do DPS check bosses.  Weak on tanks and heals?  Don’t do hard-hitting spiky bosses.  Do not set your raiders up to fail.

X.  Teach your raiders.  Don’t tell them.  Do not train your raiders to react ONLY to your voice.  You have to teach them WHY they are moving left instead of right.  As a raid leader your job isn’t to narrate the fight or play their character’s for them.  Your raiders should be moving out of the fire on their own.  If you get them used to only responding to your call outs on vent, you’ve done nothing to help them improve as players.  Make them responsible for themselves.  We’ve really been hitting that hard lately in my raids.  You are responsible for yourself first and foremost.

The last thing I’d like to mention is my personal mantra.  It’s what I tell myself when I get overwhelmed, start privately second guessing myself, or have 9 raiders that can’t do anything right…

Fucking Handle It.

You will never get your ideal raid sign ups or boss encounters.  Nothing in life is fair or perfect.  Your goal is to get 10 people over a obsticile the best way you can.  You have people who are looking for you to perform your role well.  If that doesn’t motivate you to suck it up and get back in the fight as a read leader, then your in the wrong position.

Goddamn I love this job.  I can’t wait to keep getting better at it.

Pre-weekend, weekend round-up?

Posted in Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 3, 2010

I realized I am no fun.  I’m fine with this.  There are two kinds of “fun”  in my opinion.  There’s the “Honey I’m having sex with two thick Brazilian swimsuit models and your filming” fun. (Secret:  It would be the best 3 minutes of my life)  Then there’s the “Oh come on it’ll be FUN!”.

The first kind of fun is strictly 100% enjoyment to the said party.  The latter is more an implied “fun” as if hilarity will automatically ensue due to having faith in “the FUN”.  One must not question the Fun.  If the Fun is questioned apparently you are no Fun.

I question the fun and in my experience 99% of things that are predicted to be fun, are not Fun.

Someone put up a random ICC in the guild and we only had to pug one spot.  The absolute best part is I got to go in on my Muti rogue.  Lord Marrowgar’s hit-box is freaking huge.    I mean seriously.  I automatically thought of the line from Predator…(loosely paraphrased)

“I went down on my girlfriend the other day and told her “geez you have a big pussy””.

“She asked why I said it twice”.

He then then explains to the “Indian?” guy that he didn’t.  He said it once, but there was an echo.  Cus it’s big you know…

Anyway, I really enjoy playing other roles in raids because it teaches me more about them.  For instance I think I tank that fight really well, because I minimize the distance melee have to run.  These two tanks did a good job, but they were both new to the encounter and tanked him so the melee were constantly having to run all over creation to get the bone spikes, get behind the target, etc.  Yes we had to melee the spikes down.  Our pug lock was doing a whopping 2k dps and most of us were on our undergeared alts.

On Lady Deathwhisper one of the tanks (remember he’s new) tanked the cleaving Fanatics right next to the Adherent’s the other rogue and I were burning it down.  I made a comment over vent about it, but it seemed to go unnoticed.  We got her down after a second try and away we went.  We did Saurfang then called it, since it was getting kinda late and people were leaving.  It was really satisfying, since I didn’t have to raid lead (and I kept my mouth shut for the most part) and I got to bring my rogue.

There were times I wanted to comment on things, but I think that some things have to be experienced or learned.  I can tell someone why they should do XYZ, but until they see it then in many cases they won’t understand it.  Even more so when someone else is raid leading.  You have to be careful not to cock block them and remove authority for them.  I sent a whisper or two about a few tricks on encounters, but it’s really important to me that you don’t undermine another raid leader (I’m raid officer).

They did a good job, learned from their mistakes (I have a HUGE line of mistakes behind me that I learned from and plenty ahead of me to make) and kept the raid running on time and fairly smooth.  I only did one call out over vent to ignore the adds and go all DPS on the boss, because we were a split second away from chaining into a wipe.  (I know that cus I’ve missed that call before).

Then last night we decided to go finish off Yogg.  Let me be clear in this.  I do NOT enjoy doing encounters I overgear.  I do NOT count them on the same footing as if I was wearing correct ilevel gear.  However we are NOT a raiding guild and more importantly Yogg is an encounter that is about control.  All the gear in the world won’t keep you from getting into the proper portals, keep you from going insane, or give you the endurance to learn all three phases.

I do not claim uberness.  But I am really proud of my guildies because we had been working on it.  We made adjustments as needed, we got in a HUGE hole in phase 3 with adds (I think I had five on me at one time since we had a ton of tentacles up still) and we calmly dug out of it.  Nobody panicked, I never thought about calling a wipe, we just pulled all DPS off Yogg focused down the adds one by one, and each time put a DPS back on Yogg.

Everything was as calm in vent as if we were running RFC.  People had faith in their guildies and understood that we were all depending on each other.  Bang.  Dead Elder God.  At least we killed him in the Wrath raiding cycle and I personally think Ulduar (normal) was harder than Trial of the Crusader (normal).  Fucking loot fest that ToC was.

And now I can take Yogg off the raid schedule.  WOOT.  More ICC!

Its ugly out there.

Posted in Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on March 25, 2010

I took a rare sick day.  Here I sit armed with a cup of strong and sweet coffee of which my wife said I should not be drinking.   (Secret:  I’m going to have an extra cup or three because she told me not too).  My daughter is sitting next to me with her cranberry juice and bowl of gold fish crackers.  She has no preschool today so were hanging out.  I’ve got a hankering to make pancakes for lunch for us and then we’ll take a big nap on the couch.  Perfect.

I’ve mentioned before I am a Prot Pally tank in my guild and that I also raid lead.  This means 99% of the time I am tanking when I’m raiding.  Because of this I don’t get a chance to do much on my alts, but a few pugs and heroic dailys.  I’m cool with this.  I love to tank and I love to raid lead.  But at the same time I wanted to experience a raid from a DPS point of view and decided to check out other guilds on my MM Orc Hunter.

It is not pretty out there.  Its downright FUGLY.

Hunters are a dime a dozen on my server.  Some of the guilds I checked out had about 15 and all geared better than me.  I decided to check out some guilds who weren’t as progressed and found this nice small little guild that was still doing Ulduar and ToC.  I got some crafted gear made and got all my badge gear and joined up and immediately got invited to a raid.

I am not high maintenance.  I just wanted to play my character and play it well.  I am extremely well-organized when it comes to raiding.  I even assign whose putting out fish feasts for the evening.  I also realize that hiccups happen when you raid.  You do your best to patch the holes and keep moving.  So I show up at the stone, 15 minutes before the raid starts, well stocked with potions, flasks, arrows, etc.  I even brought “ghetto” drums.  I’m ready to rock.

I watched the start time come and go and my new guild members all show up late and the GM struggles to put together the raid.  He then went AFK to eat dinner (I knew my days were numbered when this happened), then he came back and seemed to be busier epeening in trade then putting together the raid.  One of the last things we are missing is a healer so I ask a friend of mine to join us and she does.  We’re all ready to rock.  Then someone leaves the raid, so the GM goes back to Dal to pug the spot.  45 minutes later my friend the healer nicely says she’s not waiting any longer and drops group.  I’m totally cool with that.  Then the GM proceeds to bad mouth her on vent.

Oh hell no.  To my credit, I did not curse or act the fool, but I told him where he could stick his guild, his gear score, and his fail raid leading and gquit on the spot.  To his credit he apologized to me via whisper and invited me back.  I declined.  Secret:  Rule #1.  Don’t disrespect women around me.  (Only I can do that.)  Rule #2.  Don’t dog out my friends.  Even if their wrong, I’ll have their back (within reason).

So a week later I join guild number 2.  It’s a newer guild but they’ve got an active roster and raid nearly every night.  So one night I log in and the GM asks if I mind helping in a saved Ulduar raid.  (I don’t expect an auto ICC spot and don’t mind paying my dues so I said sure.)  To the GMs credit he’s semi-organized and we start only 15 minutes late.  We head into Cat Lady and I’ve got a pretty good feeling.  The GM gives a real quick over view of the fight although I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that people had questions.  We pull and wipe immediately because one of the tanks didn’t taunt the boss off the tank that was on the Sentries.  No biggie, I think.  Shit happens.

So we rebuff and we wait for her to path around again.  This is when the ret pally decides to take off running down the steps.  The GM to his credit tells him to come back, the pally doesn’t and just stands there.  The GM then tells him if he doesn’t get back to where we all are, he’ll kick him out of the raid.  The ret pally then pulls the trash outside Thorim’s hallway and the GM boots him.  (Good move GM).

So now were down another player.  So the GM goes to Dal to pug a spot.  We get another player.  I notice his guild tag and he’s from a  really progressed guild on our server so I’m pretty happy.  He asks the GM where we’re at.  Nobody responds, so I tell him to port to the Shattered Walkway.  He asks the GM again, “where are you guys?”  I whisper him.  “Shattered Walkway/Cat Lady”.  The guy then quits the raid and leaves.  WTF.  Not the GMs fault really since it’s obvious the dude was drama, but man this is turning into a long night.

Just then the ret pally that got kicked for pulling trash ahead of the raid gets invited back in.  He claims his brother got on his computer and was screwing around.  (Cue laugh track).  At this point I don’t really give a shit and just want to kill something, so I’m of the attitude, lets just get on with this.  We FINALLY manage another pull of the Cat Lady and we get her down to only 85% before the raid wipes because people were standing in the black void zone.  It seems like 5 out of the 6 DPS were on the Feral Defender instead of the boss like the GM wanted us.  It also seems like the raid didn’t understand rule 101 of WoW.  If it’s on the ground, don’t stand in it.

So he GM starts getting really shitty at this point, which doesn’t bother me, but it’s kinda cute in a child like way.  So we mount up for another pull.  And the off-tank Paladin goes to taunt the Cat Lady off the Cat tank and instead uses Righteous Defense.  For you non-paladins that’s the 3 target taunt…..so he ends up getting the Cat Lady AND the cats.  The other tank clearly has no idea whats going on, even after I tell him to taunt the boss back.  We wipe.

The GM (who I can understand SOME of his frustration even if I think he’s toolish at this point) starts ranting and raving about his tanks and that nobody listens, how sick he is of this shit, and he’s too frustrated to keep going and calls the raid.  We did 3 pulls…3.  Then the GM drops the party and logs off.

Yeah, I g/quit.

I grew up being yelled at.  My father is ex-military.  I grew up playing sports and had some screamers for coaches.  Doesn’t bother me.  Because my father and my coaches would tell you WHY they were yelling if you listened.  They wanted you to square up a hole you just dug, take the body, or don’t make blind passes.  They were yelling at you for a reason.  This dude, just yelled and ranted and raved about everyone else.  That’s not a leader.  A leader will tell you what went wrong and how to fix it.  This GM just got pissed things weren’t going well and auto logged and left 9 people (no matter how bad some sucked) hanging.  He had an opportunity to teach them something and he didn’t.

I have since then joined another guild with my Hunter.  They are a huge mega guild, but the folks seem nice enough.  Their raid times don’t work out for me, but I have no complaints.  I hear they are starting up a new ICC team and I am hoping to get a spot on it.  It’s nowhere as fun as my main’s guild, but it’s a place to hang out and pew pew.

I find it amusing when I see people in my main guild take it for granted how little drama and failures we have.  We have a tight raid squad, I never yell or stomp my feet when we wipe, and I have our raids scheduled on our website weeks ahead of time.

It’s ugly out there.  People don’t know just how good they have it.

Still figuring it out.

Posted in Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on March 21, 2010

I am a member of a casual (too casual sometimes I think) 10 man Horde guild.  We currently are 6/12 in ICC and have finished everything else with the exception of Yogg.  We raid twice a week and we don’t bench anyone that sucks.  Yes even when that person sucks soooo bad that they cause us to stall out.

There is a certain romantic/martyr/underdog aspect to finishing content with scrubby players.  We’ve often fall back on yesterdays where “we did Plague Wing with 8 people!” or “there’s no way we should have killed Gluth by tanking the adds!”.  You know those scrubby players you first pick up when you’ve gotten that dumbass idea to start your own guild just to get some members?  Yeah we still have them.  We are as loyal as we are scrubby.

You probably think I am a jerk at this point for bad mouthing my guild members.  But that’s your mistake.  I’m not bad mouthing them.  We all know were scrubs.  It’s why we laugh when someone spins a dragon around while tanking (Dragon Roulette).  It’s why we try and kill Hunter and Warlock pets by making them stand in environmentals.  It’s why when your tanking and your kid wakes up, comes into your office, says “Dad I don’t feel good…”, then promptly pukes in the doorway they don’t get mad when you wipe the raid.  True story.  My kid.

Of course there are times when you lose sight of that.  It’s especially easiest on those “bad” raid nights.  The nights where healers forget to heal themselves, people stand in the stuff they got told not to stand in, or players are talking in guild chat when they are supposed to be raiding.

I am still learning how to raid lead.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I think I have a certain style.  It draws from my days as a hockey player and my own special parenting style.  It’s a combination of growling, tough love, shunning, hand holding, and sometimes almost a teary eyed confession.  I don’t claim to be a fantastic parent or raid leader.  In fact today I plan on taking my kids to the store to buy them something because I feel guilty I yelled at my son this morning.  (Secret:  That’s how you say “I love you” in my family.  Material things.)

It’s a combination of telling someone to “PUT HIM ON HIS ASS” and the cold eye of Dad saying “Screwed the pooch didn’t you?” when your kids fall and hurt themselves.  (Secret:  I hug my daughter more.  Yes I’m sexist.  I treat her differently then my son.  Although I will teach her how to box, fight someone with a knife, etc.  She is my baby.)

Raid leading in a casual guild is HARDER then it is in a hardcore guild in my opinion.  You have to try and make up for other people’s flaws.  Does this guy suck at adds?  Then put him somewhere else.  Does this girl suck at switching targets?  Then put her on the boss.  You can’t scream and shout and tell them to get their shit together or they will be replaced.  Not only is that against the guild focus, you really don’t have anyone to replace them with.

Instead I try the factual approach…

“If we can’t keep the tank up through the third inhale, we can’t finish this.”

“If you stand in front of the mob you WILL get cleaved and we are not wasting our Battle Res on you.”

“We need more DPS or we have no hope of killing him before he enrages.”

Most days it works.  Somedays nothing works.  In fact sometimes I let them know I’m AFK.  I walk calmly out to my kitchen, look out the window, and take a deep breath, before heading back.  This lets me avoid screaming…

“You fucking idiots, the same shit happens every single time.  There’s fire on the ground, you die when you stand in it, why the fuck can’t you figure out you need to MOVE when it’s under you!?!?!  You stupid keyboard turning assholes can’t watch anything but your rotations because your have to click everything like a noob.”

Then I can walk back into the office. Sit down and prepare to handhold/scold (but nicely)/adapt our raiders to get around the encounter.  I have heard raid leading compared “herding cats” or “herding five year olds” (my kids listen better actually).  There are days when raid leading is like that.  Sometimes it’s getting together 10 friends to go play a video game.  Other day’s there’s very little effort and they perform like spec-ops soldiers.

And of course there are those days where it’s like leading 9 stupid-ass-motherfuckers who try and sabotage your efforts every step of the way.

I like my guild.  Most days I even love them.