Archive for the ‘Guild thoughts’ category

Almost a Decade: Reminiscing and Reflecting

July 5, 2014

For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”
- Frodo (JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King)

Obviously, it’s not the end of all things. It’s not even really the end of WoW or raiding for me yet. But since the second my last raid ends, I’ll be unplugging my computer, putting it into a box and putting the box in my car to be driven to my storage unit, I’m getting my cheesy writing (or emotional exhibitionism, if you look at it like that) out of the way.

I do think of myself as mainly retired from raiding. I got my Herroic Garrosh kill. Even though it’s only on 10s (not that there’s anything wrong with 10s – I’m just a 25s raider), asking for anything more would just be greedy. Cadenza has resumed 25s raiding and there is a small chance we might get the 25s kill before I leave, but I try not to get my hopes up. Right now I’m just concentrating on enjoying my last month of modern conveniences and, as you’d have it, the last few weeks with the guild (and with Ben, Arielle and Ed – our incomplete yet still wonderful Challenge Mode team) have been some of the happiest in my WoW life.

On Twitter every now and again, you get the haters who whine about long winded people leaving the game. “Just shut and leave already!” They tweet and retweet over and over.

But you know what? This has been almost 10 years of my life. This has been almost one third of my life. And it’s my blog and I can do what I want on my blog. So I’m going to write and write about my last days of WoW and THERES NOTHING THE HATERS CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Where I was when I got sorta serious about WoW

I don’t remember that I’ve ever really written about it before, because it’s something that I don’t really like to write about (I’m goofy, happy writer not a sad, sad, sad one) but just before I got serious about WoW, I was struggling with an unexpected and totally disproportionate case of Reverse Culture Shock (or Return/Re-Entry/Own-Culture Shock – I don’t think it’s an official condition so it doesn’t have an official name or definition).

I had done a semester abroad at Humboldt State University, which is a hippy-ish school in the middle of California’s redwood forest. You wouldn’t think that California would be a huge culture shift for a French Canadian, but because the school was so isolated, some very tight knit communities formed within it and, for the first time of my life, I was part of one. There were about 30 of us who became family for a few months. We spent all our free time together, supported each other and became a very communal group of people. For someone who’s generally happiest alone, in a small room, with the door closed, discovering the joys of communal living and discovering that I actually liked it, were a huge revelation.

When I got back home to my small room, alone with the door closed, I couldn’t readjust. I hate self pity so I’ll spare you most of the gory details (most of them are pretty humiliating anyway) and insist on the parts that tie into WoW. The first was that the grief from losing my foreign student family made the reverse culture shock all that much harder. I usually handle loss pretty well (I am, after all, the girl who moves across the continent every few years) but that one, I couldn’t accept. The second was that for about two years, I fumbled around blindly, trying to find that feeling of community again.

I found scraps of it at the autism camp I started working at (just saying – when you’re lost and scared, there’s no better therapy than working at an autism camp), I found scraps of it with the new friends I made at my new university, I found scraps of it when I got accepted to pharmacy school. But I found a huge, freaking chunk of it with my first committed WoW guild, Whitefalcons.

The Whitefalcons/Red Tear Years

It’s funny how what you’re looking for tends to be found in the most unexpected places.

I was desperately trying to find that communal feeling at school since the first place I had experienced it was in a school setting. I was frustrated and discouraged that my forceful “WE ALL NEED TO BE FAMILY RIGHT NOW” wasn’t working. During my failures, however, I did meet a guy that I dated for a few months and I convinced him to start playing WoW.

Since that guy was far more outgoing than me, he found a guild that seemed like a happy place. I was mainly guildless (I did go through a few levelling guilds that I had zero attachments to – I can’t even remember their names) so I asked if I could join. They said yes and, to my greatest surprise, I really liked them.

I didn’t make the connection to my searching for community at the time, in fact, I didn’t even make the connection until I was writing this post in my head yesterday. Back then, I was dead set on finding a physical community, but in retrospect, my WoW guilds filled that gaping hole in my life, which kinda explains the extreme attachment I’ve had to certain guilds as well as my embarrassingly explosive reactions when things didn’t go the way I wanted.

Anyway, Whitefalcons was composed of a handful of guys (Vector, Scout, Webby, Amar, Bone, Noldor, Stony where those who were around most), most of whom were considerably older than me. Whitefalcons raided with another, larger guild, Red Tear, with whom they eventually merged. Since most of Red Tear was also about 15 years older than me and I was pretty young at the time, I cheerfully gained a lot of uncles. (And the few members who were close to me in age became dear friends.)

My very first raid was Gruuls and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was absolutely awful when I started. You know that healer in heroic 5s who shows up with mismatched healing and dps gear, some of which isn’t even intended for their class? That was me. I didn’t know anything about addons, stats (better gear just has more armor, right?) or rotations. I cringe so bad when I think of it.

They were patient with me. Jojo, the other holy pally, gently nudged me in the right direction. Scar-my-favorite-priesty-forever, whom I swear was a living WoW encyclopedia, patiently explained WoW truth after WoW truth to me. It was also Scar who educated me when I decided to explore tanking (exploration that did not lead to a very fruitful discovery). The rest of the guild humoured me as a I went from clueless n00b to super annoying know-it-all (“I READ IT ON A BLOG SO IT MUST BE TRUE AND ITS THE ONLY WAY TO DO THINGS OF COURSE” Yep. My shame haunts me to this day.)

Eventually I outgrew Red Tear’s patient raiding ways. I became so annoying that I started getting excluded from non-official raid activities (Me! The most dedicated and obsessive of all players! Why would they do such a thing, I don’t even!) and I realized that it was time to move on.

And here is the juicy story I’ve only ever hinted at on the blog (at least to my memory). The night I left, my supposed-to-be last official raid, I lost it. I mean, I really, really lost it.

I was hoping we’d do a fun 25s run, but a lot of people didn’t want to raid so we ended up downsizing to 10s. Now I know I can be dramatic. I was especially dramatic back then. But what happened shocked even me.

I just totally lost my shit. Freaked out. Panicked. Whispered people, begging them to… dammit, I don’t even remember what I was begging for. I /gquit and spent the rest of the night in some sobbing hazy mess.

It took like 6 years for me to make the connection, but my guess was that it triggered those Reverse Culture Shock and that huge grief feelings. I had found that communal feeling I had been aching for, and now that I had finally become more stable in my non-WoW life, I was putting myself through it all over again.

I’ve had very little contact with Red Tear since. There are a few people I’m still occasionally in touch with (I talked to Lala for a bit awhile ago, I participated in a set of group emails with a few people, I’m friends with some on Facebook, I had lunch with Vector last time I was in his city, Nunu stopped by the blog once to say hi and I’ve hung out with Scar a few times <33333 Scar.), but mostly I'm still too embarrassed about my meltdown to even consider having an alt in the guild. Even if, you know, I had time to have alts in guilds.

The Conquest Brohood (Where girls can be bros too)

After Red Tear, I moved to Conquest. They were a few steps up in terms of raiding seriousness and I was overjoyed at finally getting put in my place. I was learning all over again and, to my greatest joy (or maybe it was just relief), found that communal feeling again.

I feel that I don’t need to write too much about my time in Conquest since I’ve already pretty much written a collection of short stories on the topic. It’s called The Bossy Pally blog.

But like with Red Tear, I eventually moved in a different direction than the guild. Like with Red Tear, I tried to cling to the ripping seams holding me in. I got annoying again. Some of the more vocal guildies were, um, you know, vocal about my annoyness.

Because I was happy with the progression, I didn’t want to leave. But I was frustrated with the weakening leadership at the time. Not a slight against Matt, of course. I’ve been totally unfair to Matt over the years, for which I’m sincerely sorry. There were a lot of changes and a lot of sorting things out within the guild and I craved a tighter leash. I expressed it in all the wrong ways (again, embarrassing details which I will spare myself of telling).

So again, I left my communal family (which, by then, was not my communal family anymore), with slightly more dignity than I left Red Tear. And while I wasn’t as noisy as when leaving Red Tear, it was just as rough, if not more. With Red Tear, I lost my uncles, with Conquest, I lost my brothers. For months, when I’d think about my last few weeks in Conquest, rage would bubble up. It took every strand of my self control to not write explicit blog posts about it. (And if you’re wondering, I’m very happy now that I left most of it off the blog. When I eventually made peace, I was glad those bridges were still cross-able.)

The Team Sport Year

Around the time I left Conquest, I was at a pretty intense part of pharmacy school. I couldn’t handle the 2 am bedtimes 3 times a week so I figured I’d tone down the raiding. Thespius, who was a friend of Matt’s, heard about this and asked if I wanted to raid with his 10s guild.

The funny thing about Team Sport was that they were exactly the community I’d been looking for, but their raiding style was so different from mine that I never really got that attached. They were excellent people and really, really good friends with each other (with the exception of one guy who was super weird…his heart was in the right place, I think, but he was impossible to raid with), but they were mainly friends who also raided instead of raiders who had bonded over raiding. They did want to make the transition, but I don’t think they were in the right place in their lives (with families and other commitments) for it to work.

I learned two things about myself in Team Sport:

1- I’m a 25s raider through and through. Being as shy as I am, 10s are a huge treat for me. But that’s what they are – a treat. My main course has to be 25s, or I’m still hungry.
2- I can’t stand to “raid casually”. I tried it and it didn’t work. I need more pressure and more mental stimulation. And that’s why I can’t see myself really coming back to WoW after the Epic Journey. I might level and explore the game a bit, but there are other things I want to do with my life (like, you know, have kids or take evening lessons) and casual raiding just ain’t gonna happen.

Either because I wasn’t fully recovered from leaving Conquest or because I didn’t bond as deeply with my Team Sport guildies (although I still think they’re awesome people and I have 100% respect for them), leaving them for Occasional Excellence was, you know, pretty smooth by my standards.

The Occasional Excellence… 9 months?

Occasional Excellence crashed and burned, which is a shame because I had a lot of fun with them. I finally got the tight leash I wanted, I had lots of opportunities to get involved and the progression was fantastic.

It’s hard to say if I would have gotten in the same place of despair I was in when leaving Red Tear or Conquest. The guild fell apart as I was just starting to bond with my guildies. By then, though, I was in a way different place in my life. I’d accumulated a lot more losses, which had hardened me up. I had (finally) readjusted to being on my own all the time and didn’t feel a huge need for an internet family.

The rest I’ve written plenty about recently. I went to Conquest for a little bit. Planned on being a non-raider but hated non-raiding. Didn’t like the healing lead (and again, was a little frustrated with the leadership as whole. I’m far too masochistic for Conquest, I think.) so I looked elsewhere and found Cadenza.

The Last Year and Half

I always kinda write the same thing about Cadenza: that the progression is great, that the guild structure is completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced (or even heard about), that I didn’t form overly deep bonds with anyone (other than Ed, of course) and that the lack of emotional roller coasters was relaxing.

I’ve honestly tried to write more in depth (as can be seen by the huge pile of half written posts in my draft box), but I keep feeling like it’s not my story to tell. So I try to write as an observer (after all, if you’re unusually fascinated by small group dynamics or the study of microcultures like I am, Cadenza is a super interesting topic) but then I worry that I’ll say something disrespectful (Conquest was pretty much fair game since Matt was super public about a lot of things, including guild stuff. Kith, on the other hand, is probably the most private person I’ve ever met.) or that I’ll interpret an element totally wrong (I’m more worried about being ridiculous than offending anyone, but I’m nonetheless worried). And, you know, I still want to play with these people for a few more weeks!

I don’t know how I’ll react when I finally pull the plug. I mean, I know I won’t have a meltdown because I’ve learned to savor the present instead of aiming for stupid symbolic one-time moments. I know there I won’t be feeling any deep rooted resentment because, well, I’m not angry about anything and anger takes me a lot longer than 3 weeks to cultivate. I know I won’t be lost because I have really exciting things coming up (Epic Journey, yay!!).

I will be sad, for sure. I’ve come to really enjoy the company of a number of my guildies and I feel those slow grown friendships have a lot of potential. I’ll be hopeful that some of them will keep in touch. Then I’ll be thoughtful about how far I’ve come in 10 years from that clueless little girl who lost her exchange student friends.

And then I’ll probably be distracted (and stressed) by the mountains and mountains of work I’ll still have to do before tackling the Trans-Canada Highway.

This Guild has No Tabard! (Or, I couldn’t think of a title)

March 27, 2013

I keep writing these posts in my head but promise myself I’ll post them once I post all the other things I want to write about. Then I go do something like valor cap. By then I’m out of time.

It’s been, what, six weeks now since I joined Cadenza? Two of those weeks (which happened to be the two first weeks of patch 5.2 – worst timing ever but beggars can’t be choosers) I couldn’t raid due to visiting family, and since I hadn’t seen family in almost two years, putting family first was the obvious choice.

This guild has no tabard!

This guild has no tabard!

On a tangent, having families, especially moms, around is both awesome and exhausting! She kept doing my dishes, laughed at all my jokes and helped me cook. Having another person in the house, though, was a lot harder on me than I expected. I have no idea how some (most?) people live their entire LIVES with other people! By the end of the visit, I was falling asleep everywhere and couldn’t talk coherently. Took me two 13-hour sleeps to recover!

But anyway, this platform is more for WoW talk than for analyzing my sleeping habits.

So I joined Cadenza six weeks ago. The way it happened was kind of surreal. I was on Twitter QQing about how I wasn’t getting enough raid time with Conquest and how I was mockingly looking for a guild that lets me raid. (My actual plans were to wait until after my mom’s visit, reassess the situation with Conquest and shop for a new home if it hadn’t improved.) And, well, sometimes complaining is an effective way to a solve a problem. I got a DM from Theck (yes, Theck) who let me know that his guild had recently lost of couple of healers to real life.

Now I knew of Cadenza. After Occasional Excellence disintegrated, I really wanted to find another (alliance) progressive 25 guild with a two nights/week schedule. So I had checked out the guilds of that demographic. All, like, 4 of them.

During my post-OE searching, I didn’t think I could make Cadenza’s schedule (they raid Fri-Sat – Saturdays are ok, we close early that day, but I didn’t think I could take Friday nights off work). Plus, I figured the break I was forced to take from raiding (due vacation then to all hell breaking loose at work) would have set me too far back on progression (which was probably true). And (because scheduling and being behind on progression aren’t enough), they were a step up from OE, and while I performed ok in OE, I was far from being one of their stars.

Then flash forward to the DM from Theck. By then, work had settled down. I could think of a way to tweek the schedule to give me Friday nights off. I was decently progressed. I wasn’t sure if I had the talent to make the cut, but you know what? If you spend your life limiting yourself by saying “I can’t do this“, “I’m not good enough for this“, “My health/natural abilities/etc aren’t up to par” without even trying, you end up becoming on of those sad middle aged people who amount to nothing and pass their slow, agonizing days posting tacky “motivational” messages on Facebook.

I wanted to raid, I wanted to play with this guild and I really don’t want to post cheesey crap on Facebook for the rest of my life. So I took a deep breath and transferred to Tichondrius.

Six weeks later, I haven’t passed my trial but they haven’t told me to leave and never come back either.

And the raids?

The raids, they are freaking amazing.

I was expecting a guild similar to OE. After all, similar schedule, similar progressiveness, similar demographic of players.

But no. Not similar to OE at all. I like both (as long as I’m treated fairly and the raids are good, I’m usually happy, I guess), but while OE was extremely structured, disciplined and followed every decent guild-leading advice in the book, Cadenza’s raiding environment goes against anything you’d expect from a guild with so much progression in so little time. There are no forums to discuss in, the loot system is “whisper the raid leader if you want anything” (extremely efficient, only downside, really, is that often people try to out-generous each other and all the excess passing wastes time), there are no dedicated breaks (if you need time, you just ask and go) and because we raid weekends, raid end time is just a suggestion. They don’t even have a tabard! (I suppose they never stooped so low as to spam “we have guild bank and tabard!” in trade/general to recruit back in the day.)

But it works.

I was curious as to how a high stress all the time ultra perfectionist freak like me would react to that kind of environment. So far, it’s been almost therapeutic. Since I work a fast-paced, intense job where every detail matters, the simplicity of the guild structure is a breath of fresh air.

Oh and we killed so many bosses! So many bosses! It was so exciting.

It’s funny how it happens. Right when I had decided I was satisfied with Conquest-level middle of road progression, I suddenly get to the opportunity to raid at an even higher level. It’s not what I expected to happen, but I’ll take it. I’ll definitely take it!

And the Insecure Nervewreck?

In case you are wondering, I’m still uber shy. I thought I had gotten over it – after all when I went back to Conquest, I felt at home almost immediately. Apparently it was just the familiarity of Conquest.

My first few raids with Cadenza, I took a lot of deep breaths and fought the urge to run away. I missed Conquest (as much as I had complained about the healing environment!), I missed OE (which, of course, doesn’t exist anymore so there’s no going back there), I questioned my whole raider identity. Who was I, I thought to myself, to believe that I had what it takes to join a group of strangers who play better than me? Silly, silly pretentious girl, I mocked myself.

The team was kind to me. I was briefed on raid strats, on how to ask for loot and on raid customs. I was offered food and flasks. Anything I would logically need, they gave to me right away. Yet, what I was more urgently stressing about was not something I was willing admit. What was eating a big nasty hole in my belly… was…well…heh… It was not knowing what to say when I entered healer chat. Should I say hi? Should I say thank you? Should I just say nothing? Yes, people. That is how my pathetic mind works.

If you think that’s bad, you should have heard the discussion in my head when I had to remind my raid leader that I would be taking two weeks off. There’s no signout forum. Should I just whisper him? Which of his toons should I whisper him on? What if he’s busy? Should I say something on Vent instead? It took me about a week to decide to just send him an in-game mail on his main raiding character.

Yep. I may have grown as a person and has a player, but the insecure nervewreck from nearly four years ago has not grown at all.

And now?

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t passed my trial yet. My fears that I would make more mistakes and learn slower than every one else? They ended up being founded. I think I keep up healing-wise, but on actual execution I’m clearly behind the curve.

All those slow people I’ve ever rolled my eyes at or lost patience with? Karma came around and suddenly I feel like I’m one of those people.

I haven’t been kicked yet though, and until they kick me, I’ll keep showing up for raid.

I hear the word “awareness” a lot. It’s rarely awareness (in the early raids, it was sometimes – at first I physically and mentally couldn’t handle 4-6 hours of concentrating after a tough day at work, but practice makes perfect and last raid I managed almost 6 hours before reaching the end of my focus). If only it were so easy to fix as turning off the TV or music, or not getting drunk during raids. (I raid in complete silence because I know concentration is a problem for me. And while I love to drink during raids, I’ve avoided fueling my raids with alcohol since joining Cadenza.) No, it’s not usually awareness. Usually, I know I’m getting hit. I also almost always know how I died. (I always use my combat log.) It’s the reaction time and dexterity that I’m lacking. Which I suppose I could improve by doing a lot of BGs. Yet the only way I could really find time for BGs is either to ignore VP (bad) or quit my job (badder).

I’m at peace though. At this point, I’ve become attached to my guildies. I really enjoy the raids. Every now and again, I even type something in /raid or /g! I had a long chat with the other holy paladin in the guild and got all excited about making a friend. Even more, Logan, Conquest bro and of Leetsauced fame, joined me around my third week, which really helped me relax during raids. It’s been wonderful having a friend going through the trenches with me, someone to exchange triumphs/frustrations/remarks with.

If they do eventually tell me that I’m just not on par, I’ll be sad to leave, but I’ll be grateful for the experience. While OE’s raids taught me to wring out all the healing my paladin can handle, Cadenza’s raids are teaching me focus and precise execution. And I’m sure having a lot of fun, which, in video games, is really what matters.

Friendly Neighbourly Update

February 13, 2013

I think I used up my periodic word quota. Sorry. No exciting paladin stuff for a bit. I do plan on updating the Holy Pally 4eva series while I’m in the city next week, though. That’s right, I need to drive 3 whole hours, all the way to civilization JUST so I can drink delicious coffee in a trendy coffee shop while polishing up my blog.

But, even when my brain is fried and I’m out of words, I still like to write things, so here we are. I’m writing things.

A Mood Lightening Body Pillow, Just for Vik

My own mood-lightening body pillow, just for Vik!

First off, I wanted to apologize to the people who commented on my last post – I normally answer most comments, but I didn’t get a chance for those. I still read them all and appreciated them, big thanks to you kind people as well as to those of you who left me feedback in other ways.

Those who asked for more World of Logs posts, you will be served. I have a few in mind. In the meanwhile, if you check out the right side of my blog, you’ll see a lot of orange links. Scroll down enough and you’ll find some of my past World of Logs posts. The featured fights are outdated, but WoL really doesn’t change that much so there’s still useful info there. You can also check out Jasyla’s guide to evaluating Holy Pallies with World of Logs (I don’t know how she does it, but she always manages to achieve levels of clarity and conciseness I only dream of). And if you’re really enjoying log parsing, Jasyla has guides to evaluating most other healing classes too.

In other Holy Paladin related news, if you haven’t come across it yet, the Holy Paladin Roundtable is up and available for your listening pleasure! It was an absolute blast to record and Megacode, Gina, Pardeux and Getsu are just overflowing with knowledge and good advice. (I’m there too, but I’m like the n00b that everyone else explains stuff too. Makes for an entertaining dynamic.)

Public Service Announcement: Looking for a friendly 25s guild?

Awhile back, I was complaining on Twitter about how hard it is to find 25m guilds as a healer. It’s like every one is bursting at the seams!

Shortly after, I received a Tweet that Ambermist‘s 25s guild was looking for healers. They weren’t quite what I was looking for and by the time I got back to my computer, it was the next day and it would have been weird to answer. But! In case you are looking for a friendly, laid back (I think!) 25s guild, I suggest you check out Chi Cerca Trova. I don’t know if they’re still looking, but it never hurts to try!

My Own Guild Situation

So things didn’t work out with Conquest. It was disappointing. I really, really wanted it to work, but in life, when you’re given a hard lesson, you better learn from it. Last time I was in Conquest I learned that there are situations I can’t control and that I should walk away before making an utter fool of myself.

Conquest is good people. Their guildies have been in and out of my life for what? 3, 4 years now? They’ve always welcomed me to their raids, their meetups and their Mumble channels. And no one, no one, makes me laugh like my Conquest guildies. I think that when it comes to raiding, though, their values don’t quite match mine.

It’s not a question of right and wrong – seriously, for a guild to have existed for so long and have survived what they’ve survived, they’re clearly doing it right!

But, sadly, for me it came down to the age old debate of friends vs raiding.

This time around, the issue was way, like waaaay too many healers, and the lack of a decent benching system. While the “official” rule was “best raid comp/performances for each fight”, reality was more like “random raid comp/performances for each fight and one spot is always taken, whether necessary or not, by the healing lead.” No matter how well I did, I spent more time on the bench than in the raid (as did most of the other healers), which, for someone who spends all day looking forward to her raid, is pretty tragic. And, as a nice way to put it, the healing lead and I weren’t compatible.

I complained a lot. I brainstormed solutions. I lost a lot of sleep. I gave the healing lead a hard time. I considered going ret. I considered going PvP. I kept my eyes open for heroic 25m Alliance guilds that raided on schedule compatible with my work.

Then out of the blue, I received a pitch on Twitter from a guild who had just lost some healers to real life.

A few hours later, I had interviewed with them and switched my work schedule around to meet their raid times.

Their standards are considerably higher than anything I’m used to and I’m don’t know if I’ll pass my trial – which is why I’m being vague with details – but I’m sure ready to find out.

I’m excited to see where this goes. If I fail my trial, I’m thinking I’ll learn to PvP. I love learning, and I’d have plenty to blog about. But, really, I’m praying that I won’t nosedive into, oh I dunno, a Wind Bomb on Wind Lord (which I have only done once in the many times I have done that fight!), and that I’ll find a compatible guild to spend a good chunk (if not all) of the rest of my WoW playing time with.

So where did Rykga end up?

January 22, 2013

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my guild situation.

Last we spoke, I had caught up with my old guild Conquest and joined socially until the nightmare at work got sorted out.

Since then, I went guild searching at all the usual places. Let me tell you, the market is not the same as it was at the end of Cata! My work schedule does force me to look for something very specific, but still, not a single pitch was made to me. Not one.

Then I went to WoW progress and looked at EVERY. SINGLE. GUILD. in my progression range. Ok, I lie, I looked at every single US server Alliance 25m guild in my progression range.

I found 3 guilds with compatible schedules.

Guess how many of those guilds were recruiting?

That’s right: ZERO.

One even had a notice on their website that they were too full up to be accepting applications at all.

25m raiders becoming extinct, my two asscheeks.

A Decision had to be made

I really wasn’t ready to give up on raiding yet and figured I had decent chances with the two guilds that were accepting “exceptional players”. After a month hiatus, I was anything but exceptional, but a few farm runs could fix that easily.

Still, another idea was growing on me. I talked to some people, sent some emails, did a Mumble interview, took a shot in the dark and re-applied to Conquest as a raider.

Ta-da! Sporting the Tabard of Brohood once again!

Ta-da! Sporting the Tabard of Brohood once again!

I know, WoW blogger gossip fans are loving it. LOVING IT.

You went back to your ex!” (Simply a reference to how I often talk about my guild relationships in romantic terms. Rein in that gossip a little bit, I’ve never dated a Conquest bro.)

Don’t you remember what happened last time?

Believe me, I remember. I remember very well. I can even still work myself into a rage when I think about it enough.

But, you know what? After 2 years it’s time to let go a little bit and get over stuff. I’ve matured, the people involved have either left or matured, and each time I’ve gotten together with the Conquest crew in real life (that’s right, I’ve still being going to their meetups), I’ve had a blast. And seriously folks, there are worse things in life then having your feelings hurt by your WoW guild leadership.

So, how’s it going?

When asked how it’s going by non-guildies, I’ve answered with an “I don’t know“.

Then I wait a little bit as the other person squeals with excitement and grabs some popcorn. That’s when I let the hungry gossipers down with “On a personal level, it’s been awesome.”

Honestly, I’m blown away by how much the guild has grown up. I can still recognize my old stomping ground: the bro feeling is strong (girls can be bros too so it’s good), most of my favorite people are still there (but not all. Kaldora and Evan… I miss youuuuuuu) and many of the indescribable dynamics that make Conquest what it is haven’t changed.

But the things that used to bother me? Most of them, GONE! All the annoying people had left to make their own guild (which apparently crashed and burned just recently, much to everyone’s amusement), guild chat and the forums are very entertaining places, the officers, from what I can tell, are actually doing their job and I haven’t heard childish language, like, at all. (While I don’t get offended easily, I find childish behaviour tiring. If I wanted to be surrounded by 12 year olds, I’d be a schoolteacher.) There are also a few farming projects going on where everyone can voluntarily pitch in, which seems to be really beneficial socially.

It makes me want to log in and get involved and help out.

Raid-wise, though, it’s tough to adapt to a new style, especially when I liked OE’s raids so much. Since joining, I’ve been a diva, I’ve raged, I’ve pestered my healing lead, I’ve waved around the Giant Spoon… (I swear my healing lead must regret the day he promoted me to raider. Even I didn’t realize I was such a handful.) Conquest’s healing team’s only crime, though, is not being OE’s healing team. I’m just not over my romance with OE’s healing team.

I have conflicting feelings too in that I’m new, but I’m not new. I’m new in that I don’t know most of the team and they don’t know me. Some of the raid customs have changed and, as the new person, I would normally shut up and observe for a little while. But I don’t feel new. I know all the long-timers. I know the back-story to almost all the guild jokes (heck, I am the back-story to some of those jokes!). I have way more confidence than I usually do when joining a guild, which might get me into trouble. (Or it might be a good thing, I don’t know. The fight strat threads were so quiet and lonely, ever since I went all Bossy Pally on our Heroic Blade Lord thread, they’ve come alive.)

Of Progression and Efficiency

I can’t say I was taking a step back in progression because, well, after over a month of hiatus at the beginning of an expansion, a person falls far, far behind. However, I was worried about taking a step back in, I guess, progressiveness.

I’m not the healer who puts out the most hps, I’m not the fastest to assimilate mechanics (I’m not bad, but my age is showing and I’ve become slightly slower than the average progression player) and I have limits as to how far I’ll go to be better (no arena 4 piece for me). But I work best under pressure, I raid to kill bosses, I know my class, I have no life commitments holding me back (other than my work schedule) and, in the right environment, I have military-like discipline.

At the beginning of November, the last time I raided with OE, Conquest was quite a bit behind OE in terms of progression. That made me nervous. I don’t care about number of kills too much, but I crave high pressure environments, and those environments tends to go hand in hand with boss kills.

It’s working out though. Right after I joined, Conquest went from 1/16H to 6/16H, and I’m hoping for 8/16H by the end of this lockout. (Last night a guildie said “have you noticed that since Rykga joined the guild, we’re finally killing hard modes?“. While I had absolutely nothing to do with 2 kills and very little to do with the others, the joke still totally made my night. It’s this new Holy Pally passive, Heroic Aura. Makes your guildies kill hard modes.)

Anyway, the environment is more relaxed, but the level of discipline is totally acceptable.

I’ve also finally started, you know, playing the game. I did my first pet battle, I wrapped up the various Pandarian questlines, I did some rep grinding with useless factions. I even did a couple of quests on my mage. I have more time for me but also, I find I want to play more and just enjoy reading the banter in /g.

There’s been talk in the guild of making 300 food and valor capping mandatory. (Matt even brought it to his blog.) Me, I don’t mind being forced to valor cap and eat 300 food. I eat 300 food anyway: if I could produce enough 2 weeks after MoP came out, there’s no reason I can’t now. I try to valor cap, but when something comes up on Sat/Sun/Mon, I don’t feel guilty about not reaching the bar.

If I suddenly needed to, I would, however I would expect proper payoff. If I’m putting the energy into the game that I would for a top guild then I expect my guild to progress like a top guild.

Going to Ride the Waves

I think that, so far, I’m happy.

I know and accept that the tides might change and I may decide the raids aren’t for me. Or 2 years ago might replay itself as I suddenly become all OCD and start grasping at threads. But you know what? Getting hurt and failures are part of life. Nothing lasts forever and I’m ok with falls as long as the ride’s worth it.

Finding the Eye of the Storm

December 1, 2012

Yeah, sorry, no guide update yet. I try to save my writing energy for constructive stuff, but perhaps that’s my problem. Perhaps I need to write about less useful stuff to build up momentum.

Anyway, last time I posted I was sitting in a hotel in Moloka’i, stunned by my guild (the near-perfect guild I had been looking for all my gaming life, dammit!) breaking up. But, I’ve bathed in the WoW guild world for so long that my frustration was limited to a short lived disappointment. Guild breakups happen, they suck, but all you can do is move on. As far as I can tell, I’m still on good terms with every party involved, and I’d have plenty of potential homes to choose from, if the need came up.

The timing of the guild breakup, actually, ended up being pretty good. While, yes, it did happen as I was sitting in a hotel room in the middle of the pacific ocean, it also happened right before some stressful changes at my workplace.

Yes, I know that just about each of my posts can be summed up to “I’M SOOOOO STRESSED OMG OMG OMG”, but it’s my blog and I can write what I want.

I have no Hawaii pictures on this computer to distract from the wall of text, so here's a picture of a weekend trip to Banff

I have no Hawaii pictures on this computer to distract from the wall of text, so here’s a picture of a weekend trip to Banff

My life as a grown up

So. I’d consider myself to be rather well adjusted. I have a good job. I’m good at personal finances. I have diploma wall in my living room. I make friends easily. I’m happy about my life. I have a wide variety of interests. I have no hangups about my weight, my gender or what others think of me. Cherishing positive relationships and avoiding negative ones comes naturally.

Yet, when I look back at the last year and a half in my workplace, I want to slap myself.

I had a very toxic coworker.

The laziest, most selfish person you could imagine. A slob who left everything lying around. (I even suspect she used go out of her way to mix up my paperwork to make my life miserable.) A hoarder who’d use our work area as an extension of home, and crowd it with her food and personal belongings. A miserable person who’d randomly yell at others whenever she sensed the world not revolving around her (she even made a few customers cry). A control freak who’d make up bizarre rules for us to follow (but, of course, wouldn’t follow them herself). She’d refuse to learn the basics of her job (what I figured out on my own in 5-10 minutes, she still couldn’t grasp after countless explanations from me, and over 25 years on the job) and would just leave anything less-straightforward on the counter, in drawers or on the floor for me to first find, then puzzle out.

As a new grad, it didn’t occur to me that this wasn’t normal. In school they make you aware that you’ll be constantly juggling problems, that your short term memory will always be stretched to its breaking point, that the hours are hard and that work never ends. When I came home exhausted, stressed and sick to my stomach every day, I figured it was just inexperience. When I suffered a mini-burnout last April (after about 8 months on the job), I thought it was me not being strong enough. (After all, I do have tendency to crumble under pressure… I had my first minor burnout when I was 12 and have had several burnouts of varying intensities since.)

Eventually, the rest of the staff started complaining too, and head office began issuing warnings to this person. Corporations being what they are, it took a long, long, long time, but after a lot of me losing my temper on the phone, that person left the company around the same time as my plane from Hawaii touched ground.

I didn’t even make it home that day. I went straight from the airport to work. Remember, I was gone for 2 weeks. And this toxic person does not do anything. Which means that I had 2 weeks worth of problems, paperwork, mistakes, complaints and hoarding garbage to sort through.

As the stress of doing my regular job added to the stress of cleaning up 2 weeks worth of garbage (plus the 16 months of crap she’d been hiding in closets and cupboards – which amounted to about 3 large boxes of neglected paperwork), bubbles of anger kept surfacing. Anger at this person for taking advantage of me, anger for all the patients and customers who’d been neglected or treated badly by her, anger at being deprived of a “new grad learning” period, anger at the higher ups for not acting immediately.

And mostly angry at myself for not asking for help, for not exposing this person sooner.

I always try to be superwoman. My entire life I’ve been surrounded by overachievers. When things were overwhelming at work, I’d think to myself “Well, Jenni, or M-E would do this easily, I should be able to do this easily too.” Not realizing that Jenni or M-E would have been on the phone with the higher ups from day 1, reporting every incident, speaking their mind, standing up for themselves. Using every resource available until they were treated with at least basic respect.

I’ve been mostly on my own this week to fix all the damage that had been done by “Toxic”. I have a new colleague starting tomorrow and the rest of the staff has been trying to get into their normal groove. I did learn my lesson and have been calling my higher ups whenever I need help, and have been insisting until they give me what I need. But I’m exhausted. There are just mountains of papers and problems everywhere. And every time I feel better, I discover another hidden pile of horrors.

But beyond the work, it’s the anger that’s taking a toll on me. It keeps me up at night, it makes my insides hurt, it makes me snap at my staff and at my friends. I’m not worried, I bounce back easily, but, you know, even for me, healing takes a little while.

How this all ties back to WoW

I’m kind of glad I don’t have to concentrate on raiding with all this turmoil. I do miss raiding like crazy and want to yell obscenities on Twitter whenever friends talk about their raids. Yet, it’s good that I have this time to myself to recover and reorganize my emotions.

A group of my most recent guildies welcomed me to spend my guild transition time with them, which was tempting. Their alt runs would keep me up-to-date for future raids and I respect every player on that team. But as I sort through my fury and fumble toward the light, I felt the need for something different. I wanted old friends, I wanted family.

I sent an email to my good friend Vik (of Leetsauced fame), transfered my character over to Nerzhul and within a couple of hours, carried the Conquest guild tag once again.

It was such a warm feeling. I wasn’t expecting anyone to remember me, but to my greatest surprise, there was a lot of cheering and fanfare when I logged in during one of their raids. I had been having a rough day, and they just turned it around. It felt like I was finally home.

I’ve been sneaking into their Mumble and just quietly hanging out, which is more than enough for me. I’m also happily on the same server as Team Sport, another guild of dear friends, so whenever I escape the stress of work I log into the game and feel blessed.

It’ll be short lived – I miss raiding too much too stick around for too long (and Conquest’s raid schedule isn’t compatible with my work schedule), but in the meanwhile it is reminiscent of when I was going to school in Newfoundland and would visit my friends and family in Québec city for two weeks over the holidays.

I’m visiting old, dear friends for the holidays.

The Damper I Wasn’t Expecting on my Vacation

November 16, 2012

I avoided the internet for a few days while hanging out in Hawaii. It was awesome. I got way, waaaay more sleep than usual.

See that waterfall? I swam under that waterfall.

Then today I finally log in to happily share my sun-filled adventures and… and find out that my guild is no more.

It was one of those moments when you think “this can not possibly be happening!” Yet once I dried my tears, it occurred to me that I was expecting it all along, I just wasn’t expecting it to happen… you know…right now.

As far as I could tell, things were going well: our progression was excellent, we didn’t need to aggressively recruit anymore, everyone got along pretty well… Our leaders were extra-dedicated though and extra-dedicated leaders always crack.

Since I’m far from a proper computer, can’t listen in on mumble and was only fed a few lines on twitter, I only know the rumours. Plus it all happened literally a few minutes before I logged on, so it sounds like everyone is trying to figure out what hit us. Something about our leaders and a select group of players taking the guild (and the guild bank) offserver to be a 10s group, leaving the rest of us hanging.

Quite frankly, I expected better, but, in my time as an active member of the WoW community I’ve heard a lot of guild implosion stories and, well, this is pretty typical of guild leaders cracking. It sucks because I really liked this guild, really liked this guild. But if my past guild heartbreaks have taught me anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever and there’s no point in crying over the inevitable.

So what now?

It’ll be over a week before I can log into the game again. I have no idea what will happen to my fellow abandoned guildies.

Will they pull together to start over?

Will they merge with another 25s guild? (Since we have no leaders at the moment, we’re perfect candidates for mergers. We’re strong players and none of us need to be in charge.)

Will we all just scatter?

I can’t stop wondering what I want to do. I liked this guild. It’s hard to fit raiding around my work schedule, I don’t want to run 10s, and I sure as heck don’t want to do “casual raiding”. I tried casual raiding and hated it.

If my guildies go for a salvation attempt, I’ll be behind them 100% regardless of our chances, but if not, what are my options?

It’s really hard to come back after a break from raiding, but at the same time, I’m so tired of fighting to get my work schedule to let me raid. If I quit raiding, or joined a guild where I have a lot of friends as a social/occasional raider, my real life would be way easier. But I would miss raiding like crazy.

It’s times like this where I sort of regret not getting a 9-5 office job like everyone else.

(Amusing fact, a few weeks ago I went to Vegas with some ex-guildies and we joked about me going back to them. While I doubt they’d genuinely want me back, and I could never fit their raiding style or schedule, if I had to pick somewhere to return to as a non or occasional raiding member, I think I would enjoy their mumble server the most. Funny how fate teases us like that.)

Wrapping up Cataclysm

September 22, 2012

Not long now!

I’ve procrastinated tons and now I’m stuck with a long long to-do list:

- Collect 24 dailies to turn in
- Tune up my ret gear to make leveling faster
- Pre-order MoP
- Install MoP on my desktop and laptop
- Fix my laptop’s WoW UI

I think the only thing I’ve done so far is prepare enough food for me to not have to cook at all next week. (Why am I not surprised that food was my top priority?)

How do you measure an expansion?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

-”Seasons of Love” Rent

So many bloggers do their expansion recaps and it’s interesting to see who uses what as their expansion milestones. Some measure their expansions in class changes, some in game changes, some in tiers.

Me, when I think back on Cataclysm, the first thing that comes to mind is my guild chronology. I suppose then, that I follow the song and measure my expansion in love. Erm.

The Beginning of Cataclysm

Shortly before Cataclysm, the GM of my guild at the time asked me: “What are your plans? Are you staying with us? Will you still be playing your pally?”

I told him his questions were silly. I’d been happy in that guild for over a year. There’s no way I expected my feelings to turn very sour, very fast.

But they did, for a list of reasons too long for me to write out. So long, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I don’t even know all the whys to my change of heart.

I left, was devastated, held my ground, tried not to make an ass of myself (I slipped a few times), licked my wounds, checked out different raiding styles, got to know my inner-raider better, moved on, became a more grown up person.

More or less in that order.

I made up a lot of excuses for my not throwing much of a hissy fit. Mostly noble bullshit like how “I’m not like that” and “I’m going to be the bigger person” and “I learned my lesson last time”.

Yeah, that’s right! Bullshit!

The main reason I restricted my hard feelings to private conversations and comments on other blogs was because I didn’t want to burn my bridges.

Yep. Just in case I could be “just friends” with my ex guildies later on. It’s been a good plan so far. Since leaving the guild I’ve had good times with them at Blizzcon, in PuGs and occasional real life meetups. I’m proud to say I have the best ex-guildies in the world. So yeah, my advice to anyone grieving after a /gquit: never ruin the potential for perfectly good friendships down the road.

Those friendships might be a worth a lot more than your passing frustrations.

What else happened the beginning?

I remember there being a lot of bosses in three (four?) different dungeons. I liked that. On the progression race, having a lot of bosses clearly favoured guilds who raid more hours, but on the “I get bored of the same thing real fast” race, it was very satisfying. We didn’t have to start with the same boss every raid, or even the same dungeon. I like variety and I was served.

I remember the heroic 5s instances being a bit more challenging than we were used to. I liked that too. I didn’t find them particularly hard, even in PuGs, (maybe us holy pallies were just OP at the time), but they did force me to use all my spells, my teamwork skills and my favorite muscle, my brain.

Speaking of pallies and spells, the beginning of Cataclysm brought us Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance. Stirred us up a bit, after single-target healing for so long. I found we were still the most ideal single-target healers, but at least the addition of multi-target heals gave us the opportunity to take single-target healing vacations and try something new.

Then the middle of Cataclysm

I gave casual raiding a whirl. At the same time, I gave 10s raiding a try. Not that 10s are necessarily casual (apparently you get things thrown at your face, even through the computer screen, when you say offensive, sizist things like 10s = casual), this just happened to be a more laid back group who also did smaller sized raids.

My teammates were tons of fun (I do mean to crash their Mumble parties sometime in the near future!) but I learned pretty quickly that casual raiding is not for me. When I do something, I do it all the way. And while my pathological attachments to guilds may lead to believe otherwise, I’m not really a social person. Raid time is for raiding. Not telling stories, not waiting for people to log on, not reforging gear (unless there’s a strat change) and certainly not for going to the bathroom. I raided with them for about a year, but after some soul searching and a few entertaining (for everyone else) yelling matches between me and the main tank, I decided to be “just friends” with that guild too and move on to a more compatible team.

This is a good place to plug thoughts on 10s and 25s

Opinions on 10s vs 25s and on “the death of 25s raiding” never cease to be shared.

To me, it’s a personal thing. I’m a 25s raider. I like the occasional 10s as a side-raid to get to know my guildies (and more importantly, to get to know what my guildies are like when they’re drunk), but my little raider heart needs the beat of 24 teammates. I gave 10s a fair shot with Team Sport, but I missed having a large healing team, I missed being a single link in the chain, I missed the complex strategizing, I missed the large-scale wack-a-mole of 25s healing.

It’s not about what’s “harder” (I’ve found difficulty to depend more on who my teammates are rather than on my number of teammates), though I did wish 10s and 25s were treated like separate entities within the game. After all, the style of raiding is so different.

On those epeen sites, you can see the decline of number of 25s guilds. On recruitment forums, you can, however, see that there are plenty of 25s guilds. More guilds, in fact, then actual raiders. 25s raiding is not dead. Yet. Maybe one day Blizzard will decide that having a 25s tuning isn’t cost effective. I’ll totally understand and not be angry. However, I suspect that I’ll also stop playing WoW on that day.

What else happened in the Middle?

Heroic Ragnaros was a badass and gave lots of players nervous breakdowns. But not me. I was in a normal mode guild when the content was relevant. And when it stopped being relevant, I couldn’t really find the motivation to do extra hours when I could be doing so much fun stuff IRL.

There was a lot of questioning as to why Heroic Ragnaros was so much harder than final boss Heroic Madness. I question this questioning. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Heroic Madness is accessible to any somewhat disciplined raid team. Thus, for the first time, many, many players were able to end their expansion with a satisfying “I killed the last boss! On Heroic!”. And customer satisfaction is an important goal for a business, no?

I think it was a smart strategy to make the bragging rights boss (HRaggy) different than the satisfaction boss (HMaddy).

Also in Firelands, there was a lot of anger (and in my case, annoyance) when Blizzard decided to nerf Fireland by 20% in one go. I didn’t understand that one. The nerfs were supposed to accomodate guilds like the one I was in: normal mode with a slow and steady progression. Thing was, we were progressing just fine. We weren’t sick of the instance yet, we had to work for our kills but we weren’t discouraged either. Then Blizzard came in, yanked out the carpet, took away the discipline requirements for the bosses. We didn’t progress much faster after the nerfs, really. Once you take away the discipline requirements for a normal mode guild, you take away the discipline. Instead of killing bosses faster, we just goofed off more.

In the End of Cataclysm

When I left Team Sport, I went guild shopping which was scary and hard work. (I do have a post about it, but I never got around to finishing it. Post writing is also hard work.)

I did, in the end, find myself a home. I love my raidmates, I love the leadership, I love the raiding, I love my healing team, I love my fellow holy pally. They do tend to raid a tad early (I spend the beginning of my raids changing out of my work pants, stuffing my mouth full of food and trying to not to autorun into mobs), but otherwise I’m very happy.

I hope MoP does not have the same effect Cataclysm did.

ps. Important! If you are guild shopping and suspect your raiding interests to be similar to mine, I encourage you to check us out at http://www.occasional-excellence.com/ We still have a couple of open spots for MoP!

What else is at the End of Cataclysm?

Dragon Soul brought us LFR. I liked LFR. Early on, spending an extra night running it was tough, but I did like having it available if I missed a raid. It also made gearing up for my guild change much easier.

While, yes, the fights were stupidly easy and your LFRmates stupidly…stupid, I really didn’t mind LFR and I was glad to have that opportunity.

Dragon Soul wasn’t a well loved instance, and I do agree it lacked the epicness of Karahzhan, Ulduar and even Icecrown Citadel or the creativity of Zul’Aman (the original) and Black Temple. I didn’t hate it, though. I don’t think it would be my first pick for a final dungeon, but it had a few good moments. Notably the gamergasms Ultraxion’s Blue Crystal gave me time and time again, until Ultraxion started dying before the crystal came out (damn Ultraxion that minute-man!).

Of Blogging and Podcasting

I do miss blogging. I miss the excitement of watching my stat page, the amusement from reading search engine terms, the delight of discovering new comments and the satisfaction of publishing a Bossy Pally-approved post. And, most of all, I miss the friendships.

But at the same time, I don’t expect a sudden increase in post count. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the offline world – now that I’m no longer a student I’m finally living the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Between living it up and working a demanding job, I’m just too tired to be coherent. It’s a good thing, mostly, it just means that the blog will most likely keep its current posting rate and its current reader count of approximately 3.

I feel like I’ve grown away from the community too. I still subscribe to a lot of blogs, but it seems that everything I read triggers one of 3 reactions:

1) I’m not interested
2) I’m interested and I’m thinking about it, but I don’t have the energy to write a response
3) I want to throttle the writer and scream at them: “OMG HAVE YOU EVER EVEN LEFT YOUR HOUSE BEFORE!?!?”

I suppose that’s how life goes. You grow closer to some groups and away from others. I do plan to keep the blog somewhat alive, I’m not deleting the personal blog either (it may even get some extra attention in a couple of months when my big big big project/dream comes closer to fruition) and I’ve told Oestrus that I’m not against recording the odd episode of the Double O Podcast.

I think a post-MoP grind episode might be a good follow up to our pre-MoP episode. And who knows, maybe a reader/listener will suggest a topic they’d like to us discuss and we’ll be overcome with inspiration… It could happen!

And the Wheel Keeps Turning (Guild recruiters, please scroll to the bottom)

December 22, 2011

A year minus a couple of days ago I wrote a disgruntled-but-still-hoping post about my guild at the time and a few weeks later I gave up and left.

I joined Team Sport as a temporary fill-in between progression raiding guilds. They were aware of this and accepted it. But as I was starting to consider moving on, I decided I kinda liked these people. After I wrote “The 5 Traits I Want in a Leader“, I realized I described Team Sport’s leadership. And when several of my guildies decided they wanted to raid more progressively, I was excited about the project and jumped on board.

So now, nearly a year after I joined, I think we’ve made good progress as a raid team. Raids start on time, or very close to on time. Our pace is much faster (though not completely to my liking). Raid discussions occasionally interrupt the tumbleweed on the forums. And we have a few players who’ve discovered a love of raiding within themselves.

But a bit over a week ago, I realized that we’d gotten as good as we’re going to get. We have a team of good players, as in players who show up and do a good job. Their characters are gemmed and enchanted and we rarely have deaths due to standing in the fire. But for most of them, raiding isn’t a passion.

When I raid, I turn off my phone (unless I’m waiting for an important call, in which case I warn the team ahead of time). I tell friends/guys I’m dating/etc that I’m not available during raid hours. I want 100% of my focus to be on what I’m doing. Then after raids, I review logs and I want to talk about the night.

On Tuesday night, as we were waiting on some afkers in between wipes on Ozz’nozz, I wiped away my tears of frustration and gave my raid leader my two weeks notice.

It’s not about “good” style or “bad” style, it’s about “different” styles

Talking about our guild situation with black-and-white thinkers can be quite amusing. Going afk mid raid? That’s “bad”. Oh, but baby aggro involved? Then that’s “good”. Spouse aggro? Some say “good”, some say “bad”.

Me, I say I don’t have a spouse and I don’t have kids. I totally understand those who have to put their spouses and their kids before the raid. If I had a spouse and/or kids, I’d put them before my raid too. In fact, I would judge someone negatively if they were jerks to their families while playing a video game.

But I don’t have a spouse or kids. I‘m not ready to put other people in front of myself, thus I choose to be single and childless at this point in my life. It’s all about the social contract and I find myself wanting a social contract for other single and childless people.

It’s All About Soul

I love raiding. I had to put up a big fight at my job and negotiate to have raid nights off.

I look forward to my raids all day. I can’t wait to jump on the computer and get ready to go. I eagerly await my raid invite and let everybody know if I find it doesn’t come fast enough.

During raids, any interruption is a tragedy and, while necessary, breaks kind of annoy me. I pee before the raid, why doesn’t everyone else?

After a raid, I want to talk about it. I want to comb through the logs and find all the nitty gritties that’ll help me perform better next time.

If you suspect that I become impatient with those who don’t share my enthusiasm, you would be correct.

Now, that passion does waver. It’s usually dependent on what’s going on in my real life. When my real life was overloaded, I was so grateful to have a team who understood irregular schedules. I loved having a team that wouldn’t notice if I didn’t have time to study the boss fights before the raid. It was a relief to have frequent breaks to take care of real life stuff mid raid.

But, as soon as my real life stabilized, I found myself being deeply jealous of guild working hard modes. And of 25 man guilds. That’s when the cravings for something more took over.

I’ll miss the people

I’m so afraid that my guildies will read this post the wrong way. I really hope they don’t, because this is the first time I decide to move on from a guild with zero hard feelings towards anyone.

They were (are?) fantastic to be around. I couldn’t even say how often I’ve spit beer all over my keyboard from laughing too hard. The sports talk (and the subsequent discussions of the appropriateness of sports talk during raids), the serenades on vent, the guild cheers… I don’t think I’ll ever find a guild that comes close in term of atmosphere.

You can tell they really enjoy each others company, and care about each other as people. I remember one night, one of our players was having a really rough go. He asked to be sat, but the team refused. They wanted to be there for him and cheer him up, even if it meant wiping all night. It was terrible for progression, but so heartwarming that even I was moved.

Another memory… At Blizzcon I got cornered by The Feminists. (I describe myself as a feminist but I’m not well versed in the more scientific side of the movement and The Privilege still confuses me.) We got into a talk about guilds, they were telling me about how they had to reform their guilds to be more respectful toward women. I so proud to be able to tell them that my guild was already great when I joined and totally didn’t need any reforming. So proud.

All joking aside, I did really appreciate being treated as “one of the team”. Despite being the only girl in the guild at the time (over the course of the year, there have been a couple of wives/girlfriends and another girl who’ve logged in a few times and maybe did one raid with us; and Valithria who comments here sometimes logs in and says hi as well, but I’m the only regular, and the only raider), I’ve always been treated with respect. There’s even never been issues with hatespeach, and girlfriend-ranting has been kept to a minimum without any input from me.

It’s actually pretty cute that the rare times I say/do anything remotely girly or sexual, my teammates get all confused, as in “it…it can do that?”.

I had left my previous guild for a myriad of reasons, but the one that cut the deepest and still hurts today was gender discrimination-related. So being valued as a player and as a member of the raid team, without gender interfering, has become something that I don’t take for granted.

Toward the future (or If you are a guild recruiter…)

When I announced I was leaving, everyone was super nice and supportive. A few people even asked to come with me (this is how great the team is, it’s hard to keep us apart!).

Of those who wanted to come along, one, I think, has pretty much the same goals I do. So here, it is, Holy Pally and Mage/Warlock (he says he’ll play either character, but I think he secretly prefers to be a warlock) looking for guild!

Demographics: I have a strong preference for 25 man Alliance (I prefer 25s, and I don’t want to loose my achievement points…), my friend doesn’t have a preference as long as the raiding and the people are good.

Schedule: I’m West Coast and often work evenings so schedule is usually the limiting factor for me. I can raid after 9pm PACIFIC any night, and after 6 pm PACIFIC on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. I believe my friend is available after 5pm pacific any day, and would prefer a team that doesn’t raid too late. 2 or 3 raids/week seems to be ideal to both of us.

Progression: As two people coming from a 5/8 normal Dragon Soul, 1/7H Firelands guild, we’re obviously not the most geared people in the game. But we’re both fast learners and dedicated players. We run the LFR, cap out our valor points and read our boss fights. We’re disciplined during raids, communicate well and drink up constructive criticism like it’s lifewater.

Environment: We’re coming from a very tight knit guild, so we’d both feel happiest in a guild where the teammates are also friends. Both of us being about 30, we’d like to play with people about our age and maturity level.

Ideally, we’d like to find a home together, but if our dream guilds end up being separate, that’s ok too. Bonus: a guild who takes both of us, may also get a kickass resto shammy bench-warmer.

Changing and Growing as a Team

August 25, 2011

EDIT: Just as a clarification – our guild changes were really a group effort. In the comments I’m being given waaaay too much credit. In reality, I had very little to do with it all. I was a strong critic of the old ways and I suggested a few concrete ideas that might help us improve as a raid team, but the credit for implementing change should go to our raid leader. He’s the gifted one who listens to everyone’s input then makes good decisions that he stands by. And our team as a whole deserves credit for their active participation in all aspects of the process.

I left “my old guild” at a time where my raid schedule was very limited and I couldn’t really dedicate myself to a team. I was welcomed into a group of (casually raiding) friends who seemed cool with having me around and understood that I would move on once I could live in more raid-friendly timezone.

So that early January, I went from a 9/12 guild to a 0/12 guild.

Oh the culture shock!

There was no point in writing on the forums: no one visited them. There was no healer chat to goof around in. When we’d reach a new boss fight, only the raid leader knew anything about it. Pulls were slow and difficult to recover from. Random AFKs were normal. Raid start time meant “we’ll think about whether or not we want to raid and if you’re lucky, we’ll send invites out within the hour“. If the raid wasn’t cancelled that is.

The people were fun and I liked most of my guildies. It was a blissful break from the childishness and the vulgarity that my former guild chat had degenerated into. But the raids… The raids were painful. Skill or attitude weren’t an issue. These people were quite possibly the most patient individuals I’d ever come across on the internet. And as I would tell those who asked about my guild situation: “They play pretty well… on the rare occasion that they play.”

I don’t care about boss kills much. Me, I get pleasure from strategy discussions, from pushing myself to squeeze every ounce of juice out of my character and from working as a team. When I say I hate casual raiding, it’s not about the boss kills and it’s not about the rankings. It’s about being deprived of the game aspects that make me tick.

As I was getting ready to leave…something happened

I’m not sure exactly what triggered the idea to change. I knew at the time, but I can’t remember. I do remember those long chats with my raid leader about how we both needed a more focused environment. I also remember hoping that I could stay on Nerzhul.

Then one day my raid leader mentioned that a few other guildies were interested in upping our pace a bit.

Then a lot of things I don’t remember happened, which eventually let to a thread (started by our raid leader) called “In order to make a more efficient raid group“.

I wanted a project. I also really liked working with Team Sport’s raid leader. (Remember this post?) And I didn’t want to leave the server.

So I got on board.

Would they go for it? Could I hope?

I know what it’s like to drag a heavy bolder up a hill. It’s just like trying to get satisfied players to change their playstyle.

My biggest worry was our raid team enjoyed our current status. Of course, they always want more boss kills. But, to them, would those boss kills be worth the trouble? I like being extremely time-efficient, but would they?

We decided to actually play

I didn’t interpret them properly at the time, but the majority of the responses in our raid efficiency thread expressed annoyances with our late start times, our frequent signs-up-but-doesn’t-shows and our constant stalling due to random AFKs. I was delighted to discover that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did.

I pushed for communication

Maybe it’s a gender thing. Girls tend to like to communicate. I’m the only girl in the guild. I’m the one who whined and whined and whined and WHINED about our lack of communication.

They are lovely and humoured me. We got healing/dps/tank chat channels. Our raid leader now often hangs out after raids for those who want to talk about the night. And someone starts a debriefing thread on the forums after each raid.

The Challenges of a Democratic Guild

Alas‘ Effers made a big splash in the blogosphere with their democratic (and originally officerless) guild. And I think the Effers were the first to really talk about it.

I’m also in a democratic, officerless guild. A democratic, officerless guild that is several years old. We’re even sort of GM-less. It took me 6 months in the guild to find out that we had a GM. It went kind of like this:

Me: Why does that guy always get all weird about guild stuff.
Guildie: He started the guild.
Me: So he’s actually the GM?
Guildie: I guess you could say that.

There are ruins of past attempts at having officers: there are still some characters with a “team captain” rank and there’s an officer forum on our guild website (last post is from December, by someone who doesn’t have the “team captain” rank).

But all the raid organization and role leading is done by the 2 or 3 (depending on the day) guys who came up with the idea to fit a raid team into the guild. All “members” can see and type in /ochat. To become a member, you have to be voted in by at least 10 other “members”. (I do love the concept, however we don’t have 10 active “members” anymore, so it’s currently impossible for new recruits to become full members. I’m not a full member.) If someone wants to suggest and implement a new policy, a vote is called and all “members” vote on it.

In theory it’s awesome and I love it. In practice, implementing new ideas is a big hassle. This guild is several years old and, until recently, has experienced very little turnover. What happens when a democratic guild has been around for years is this: the group becomes set in its ways and status quo takes over. In other words, everyone becomes afraid of rocking the boat.

So we had a team who hadn’t seen much significant change in a few years. We had no one with any formal authority to say “this is what we’re going to do”. This wasn’t looking good.

The results, up ’til now

Our “raid team improvement” thread was about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Since then, we’ve down 2 new bosses (4 if you count Neferian and Cho’Gall, which aren’t much of a challenge on normal mode anymore), which is probably where we would have been anyway.

But…

- We’ve started every single raid on time (with the exception of a few delays due to having to pug a few raiders).
- We’ve received a surprising number of applications (including an AWESOME application written by a dear commenter on this very blog!).
-It’s been two weeks since we’ve had to pug. We even had to sit someone for the first time due to too many dps online at once.
- We’ve shaved a lot of time off our trash pulls (I know because I time our trash).
- I don’t feel the need to alt tab out between wipes on progression bosses anymore.
- People who randomly AFK are being chastised by their fellow players.
- Role-teams are communicating more.
- A larger number of team members are participating in strat discussions and post-raid debriefings.
- Some people actually read the forums.
- Guildies have been going out of their way to gear up outside of raids and, even better, helping each other gear up outside of raids.

I can’t begin to express how I excited I am and how proud I am of my guildies for all their hard work.

I know that the changes might just be temporary. The pace is new to us, so we’re learning and can’t joke around as much as we used. We might give up before we get used to this pace. Or we might just decide this style of raiding was fun for a little while, but not longer. Or, as my track record predicts, I might have a falling out with our raid leaders and have to go my own way.

I can, however, accept that nothing lasts forever and, like in anything I do, I’m enjoying the moment.

The 5 Traits I Want in a Leader

July 19, 2011

Sitting on the fence, trying to figure out what I want from my gaming, now that I almost have the time to play and play hard, I’m constantly asking myself the question: “What do I want?” The answers used to change depending on my mood, but lately they’ve been converging.

I want in a guild:

- A project. Or rather, the opportunity to become involved in a project. I’m not vain enough to expect, or even want, to waltz in and take over an established group. But I do want to eventually be actively involved in pushing a group forward.

- A leadership team I trust and enjoy working with.

Why I want this:

I’m a good second. I’m not a visionary, I’m not a dreamer, I’m not someone who sees big. I am, however, easily influenced by other people’s visions and big dreams. I also really like planning, sorting, organizing. I like making dreams, other people’s dreams, a reality. (I missed my career calling, I should have become an investment consultant.)

I’m also not a passive player. Oh, I’m a little passive when I’m new, or when I don’t intend to commit. But once I’ve claimed a home, I’m one of those people who need to speak their mind, need to know everything and need to have a hand in everything. I don’t expect to control everything (despite being a bossy pally), but I’m at my happiest when in the eye of the storm. I lose interest very fast in “This is how things are and this is how things are going to be” environments.

Looking back at my guild-dating history (following my decision to regard my relationships with guilds the same way normal people regard their relationships with significant others. Not to be confused with dating-guildies. Which I swear I have never done and don’t plan on doing. Flings in foreign countries and Blizzcon dates don’t count. Yes, I like starting rumours.), what seems to have made or broke the relationships was always whether I subscribed to The Vision. If I could find A Vision.

I use the general word leader intentionally, instead of GM/GL, officer, healing lead, tanking lead, raid laid. To me, a leader is someone with A Vision and the ability to conjure that Vision in others. Sometimes leaders have official titles and roles, sometimes they’re just a face in the masses who happens to communicate good ideas well.

So then I pondered about those leaders I wanted to follow, those leaders who I followed then stopped and those folk who I never really thought of as leaders. What makes me believe in a leader?

There are a lot of bloggers who are guild officers and who offer advice from their experience. But you don’t often get followers who explain which traits attract their respect and, um, follow-ship. So here are the things that make someone a leader to me:

1- Communicates Well and Regularly – This is Number 1 for a reason: I can’t support something if I don’t know what I’m supporting. I constantly need to know what’s going on, not because I want to be annoying (while I do quite enjoy being a pest, my curiosity is not driven by my pestyness). It’s that in order to decide whether I’ll support and believe in an idea, I need to know the what, how and why of that idea. The leaders who’ve earned my respect are those who can answer those questions, and use those answers to convince me that their idea is a good one.

2- Sets Clear Expectations – I want to know what’s expected of me and of those around me. I want to know what my role is supposed to be. I have a pretty good sense of initiative and will jump in when I see a need, but it’s very difficult to be on the same page if I don’t know what the page is. And beyond that, in regular day-to-day guild life, I like consistency, I like when policies are enforced. When I don’t have to worry about expectations, I can focus my energy on things, like, oh I dunno…having fun.

3- Honesty and/or Integrity – I know when I’m being bullshitted. I might fall for it once. Twice if you’ve got that politician twinkle in your teeth. But after that I’ll figure it out. Most people pick up on lies quite quickly and on fake even faster. To be believed in, you need to be trusted. To be trusted, you have to be honest when it comes to matters relevant to the guild (luckily most people don’t care enough about your personal life to keep tabs on those lies unless they’re huge. Note: it is possible to tell the truth and be gentle at the same time!) and you have to practice what you preach.

4- Knows How to Say No – Saying “no” properly has two components. One in actually delivering the refusal and the second is delivering it a way that makes the receiver say “thank you“. Developing skills for both those components is pretty crucial to earning respect. And it’s especially important in dealing with people like me. I offer a lot of suggestions and a lot of feedback. I expect to be listened to. I expect to be listened to, but I also expect to be told “no” when I’m wrong, when I’m unreasonable and when someone has a better idea. It’s also pretty hard to respect a person who lets others walk all over them, who runs from conflict instead of solving it.

5- Enthusiasm – You know those shock value blogs that consist of guild or raid leader bitching about their guilds? And those GM’s who’s #1 advice to new GMs is “Don’t do it“? I love reading those bloggers, but I feel sorry for everyone in their guilds. And I’d never consider joining their guilds. Now I understand temporary frustration and I don’t mind being a shoulder or a pep talker (in fact, I actually really enjoy it), but I want a leader with a generally positive attitude. A leader is someone selling me a Vision. I won’t buy the Vision from someone miserable. If you want my subscription to your leadership, then show me that you’re worth my energy, that you enjoy what you do and that I won’t have to spend my game time nagging you to do your job.

And those are the 5 traits of the leaders I want to work with. I wrote in a gaming context, but I think it applies to just about every group-related part of my life. I tried to avoid the word “like” as much as possible, since respecting and liking are two different things. Generally I’ll like the people I respect as a leader, but there are many individuals who respect people they don’t like. I can, however, like someone whom I don’t think of a leader.


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