Monday, May 24, 2010

More fun (in theory)

So one of the things that's been really exciting for us as a guild lately is that we've been able to get our 25-man raids going again. And by going I mean going. Typically when invites go out we have 32-35 people online. Some ready to go, some just waiting for standby slots. We've been able to enforce timeliness through the simple fact that, if you aren't ready to go when I hit the "Invite All" button on the calendar, the raid's going to fill up before you can get in.

(I've been trying to make sure I log in about 10 minutes before invites go and give everyone ample warning that they need to be on the character that got the invite, that they've "Accepted" on the calendar and that they're not in any other groups.)

We're filling up fast and within about 15 or 20 minutes, we're all there, buffed up and ready to start pulling. Seems good, right?

Well, kinda.

I've been leading raids for our guild (or, prior to that, our guild alliance) for the better part of 2 years now. And I have to say, it's never been as stressful for me as it has been these last 3 weeks.

Part of it might be carrying over from my current work situation, and so I'm trying not to blow things out of proportion. But...holy crap.

From the moment I log on, I start getting bombarded with whispers about what toon do I need people to bring, and what spec should they be in, and they're going to be afk but can I hold a spot, or can I promise a spot right then, or how late will we be going. I understand that these are legitimate issues for each individual and I don't want to trivialize them, but it's hard to juggle all those conversations while trying to also pull the raid together. On top of that I'm trying to make sure we have enough healers and tanks. If we over-invite (which has only happened once so far) I have to start trying to figure out how to convince some people to drop (I've figured out how the standby feature on EPGP works, so that's helped some). And there's also usually three or four different conversations happening in guild chat, raid chat, and officer chat that I'm trying to keep up on, because a lot of them require responses from me.

Raid leaders have a lot that's required of them, from planning to inception to execution. My strength as a raid lead is actually leading people through the encounters. Let's pull this trash pack before that one. Watch where you stand. Bone Spikes incoming. FaceMelter is MC'd. Mage is out, away team go. Beasts in 6. That's the kind of stuff I do well and have the mind for. It's logical. It has a very serial flow. Info in, info out. Typically no more than a couple things happening at a time. They may happen in very rapid succession, but still usually don't overlap much. And they have right and wrong responses.

All that other stuff that has to happen, it's more like chaos. It's variable and happens in parallel. I don't have time to deal with one issue before moving on to the next (assuming I even have a "right" answer for it, which I often don't) and my brain hates me for making it try to do so.

So all that's going on and I'm getting insanely stressed out.

Then we get going. And we have very distinct camps of people in our raid groups.

1) The serious raiders. These are people that enjoy raiding for the challenge. A lot of them are ex-hardcores who still enjoy challenging content but don't want to have to put with with a screaming raid leader or strict attendance requirements or constant pressure to perform. But they're still there and ready to go for almost every raid and they still push themselves to do the best they can. They're very capable and motivated.

2) The uber-casuals. They want to see the raids because, let's face it, they're epic and fun. But, for whatever reason, they're just not quite able to carry their weight. They may or may not have DBM or Vent or Omen (although this last is rarely an issue for them). Motivation is a little lacking and so is execution. But we don't want to deny them a chance to raid. Sometimes they just need a little experience to push them over that hump.

Now, in the Lower Spire, this isn't much of an issue. Worst case we end up waiting a while for Saurfang to drop his stacks of Battle Fury because we were over on the other ship too long the last time, or we end up needing to run down an extra 10% health from Jr. because too many people died to the Mark. But we've still pretty much never failed to one-shot the first four bosses.

Then we get up to the Upper Spire and it just falls apart.

For instance, this past Friday we cleared through all the Plagueworks trash and lined up outside Festergut's room for a first attempt with 90 minutes left in our raid night. (I should mention at this point that we've downed Festergut each of the previous two weeks and that our raid DPS this particular night should have been more than enough to handle it again.)

In that 90 minutes we got in 5 attempts, I think. Most of them wipes before the first exhale. It routinely took 10 or 15 minutes between pulls to get everyone back and rebuffed. There was one group of ranged people that, through sheer dumb luck and a little inattentiveness, almost never got a spore. I died almost every attempt before our other tank needed to taunt off of me. We have one Druid, who's one of our best, that would drop dead before the first inhale on every single attempt. And no one could explain why.

Our one "complete" attempt ended when Festergut enraged with his health bar still at 20%.

(There was one genuine moment of levity when one of our hunters pulled because her dog decided it was a good time to jump out of her lap and onto her keyboard.)

The single biggest frustration for me out of all this was the spore deal. It's really damn hard to see the spores spawn, assess whether or not the 3 key groups have a spore, which groups have more than one (if that's the case), figure out which character needs to run somewhere to cover the inequity, and instruct them to move, all before time runs out for them do actually do so. I need some attentiveness and initiative by individual players at that point and it wasn't happening.

I got chastised for beating a dead horse when I kept mentioning this shortcoming after every attempt and it was everything I could do to not snap at the individual that if it would just get corrected, I wouldn't need to keep saying it.

Then the raid ended the way many of them have lately...I hearth, give some words of encouragement (which I'm sure are sounding very deflated and half-assed) and then immediately log out of the night and finally start to breathe normally again for the first time in four hours.

I think the hardest part of all of it for me may just be in my head. The larger portion of our raid group is comprised of the very capable raiders. In my mind, I'm imagining them becoming frustrated and impatient with doing less than they know they can do because we're trying to carry extra people. Maybe I'm just projecting some of my own frustrations onto all of them as a collective and it's not as bad as I think it is, but I know at least a few of them have to feel similarly.

So now I'm waiting for a blowup much like the one that happened in the early days of Wrath where we had a large guild exodus when execution problems on Sarth +drakes finally wore down the thinning patience of some of our more motivated members. Will it come, or are the folks we have now more understanding and patient than I'm giving them credit for? I don't know.

I know a couple weeks ago I expressed my desire to continue doing 25-man raids in Cata because they were more fun than their 10-man counterparts. Now I'm starting to rethink that...


  1. I know I'm the hunter with the dog and I am going to assume I'm in the serious raider camp.

    I'm not frustrated with lack of progress. As long as its still fun I'm happy with wherever we get. Would I like to get further, yes I would. But we have a progression team for that.

    Do I care which character you want me to play, not really. To I care which spec you want me to play, not really. Just point me in the direction of which role you'd like and I'm really quite happy to fill it.

    Do I care if we have the perfect raid setup? No. I don't care if we have 20 hunters a tank and 4 healers. As long as everyone is trying and working together I think its cool.

    I'm frustrated with the "uber-casuals". I'm frustrated when they play their alts for 10 hours a day and never run 1 random to accumulate badges or gear. I'm not frustrated when they don't "carry their own weight" if they are really making an effort. I am frustrated that they don't even make the attempt to hit the AH for flasks or even heal pots. I'm mostly frustrated that if I express these frustrations I am treated as if I am the problem, as if I am insensitive and uncaring.

    I'm not sure this helped much. But I did get some insight into your head which I did not have before.

    BTW the spores are easier to see from range. Next time just have someone at range call it out and send folks around. Leaves you free to do things like, well tank things.

  2. This is an opinion and maybe depend on your raid philosophy:

    As a person who has lead raids and seen the lazy and driven raid members conflict, I know your pain. As a person that has had to be the Guild Leader as well as the Raid Leader, I know your pain of having to do more then "RAID Member #1 please move out of the fire."
    As raiders ourselves we love to progress and clear the unclearable. We love the "wins" and become frustrated by the "losses." I would believe that it is normal for the raid leader to feel more frustration because you may feel responsible for each wipe and spend the brain power to try and remedy the issues.
    Your guild has just had an influx of new recruits looking for the 25 man experience. This has brought you the members to get you rolling but how many are you carrying with low dps or low healing. Is every member at least geared with tier 9 gear as well as the off gear from the new 5-man heriocs and has enough effort been made to "see" end game raiding?
    In my opinion, there are more than two types of raiders you are dealing with:

    1. Dedicated Raider - Puts forth the time and effort and has overgeared 25man raids.

    2. Casual Raider - Through time has spent effort to gear his or her character to the level of 25 man raids and is ready to begin raiding. They are casual because they don't raid every night but they make the most of every opportunity.

    3. Lazy Raider - These are raiders that show up undergeared, no potions and clueless of the strats. They show up and do 3k dps in ICC with a 15 percent buff. They are in greens and blues and probably could not tell you how Halls of Reflections ends because they wont use the dungeon finder if their life depends on it. These people want their 25 man loot handed to them.

    I don't think you will see a "blow up" before you find yourself scrounging for 25 man raiders. This time your dedicated and casual raiders are going to stop showing up and your raid will be full of lazy raiders. The front four will stop being a one shot and your frustrations will grow.
    I had this issue as a raid leader. I read a post on that had the best explaination that I can tell you about raiding ICC. You may feel that leaving an undergeared person from your guild out of the raid as unfair, but is it fair to have the other 23 people raiding with you suffer by carrying those that have not put forth the effort required.

  3. Yeah, I probably should have been a little clearer about people not pulling their weight. Like you, it doesn't bother me if they're doing the best they can but just happen to be a little behind on the gear curve or whatnot. I can't fault people for that. But there are people in our raids that I see showing up hoping to gear up through ICC rather than 5-mans and badges.

    Since Festergut is such an easy fight to tank, I typically play with my camera turned around and zoomed all the way out so I can see as much of the raid as possible. I still seem to have trouble finding all 3 spores quickly sometimes. I did see your whisper about that on Friday night. Part of not responding was the multiple conversations thing again. Part of it was me trying to do everything I could not to distract any of the DPS or healers from their own jobs. But yeah...I probably need to delegate a little better to help get through that.

  4. I assumed you were busy so its all good :) Healing or ranged DPS is no harder or easier than tanking, let others help take the burden.

    Gimli says if you want he can call out the spores this week. ;)

  5. San. Dont worry about it. Seriously. I may be in the hard-core additude somtimes. But i mean. Wipes happen. Its all good. =) I doubt many of us get crazy frustrated from wipes. I mean. I know for a fact that i can handle it fine. I feel like you are doing a great job at leading the raids. But I mean. We may need to bring our top dps for the 25's. Mainly because we are getting into the difficult part of ICC. But i mean. Thats just my opinion. And being a Dwarf means i have no opinion =)

  6. I’m going to give my 2 cents here.
    Frustration will happen as it is already happening with San. Your hands are tied to an extent and so are the hands of other officers for pointing out mistakes of the “uber casual”. While no one has been singled out a general statement still carries weight when you know you’re the guilty party.

    Everyone likes to progress. Banging your head against the wall knowing you can’t beat something just deflates moral. I joined the guild with expectations or raiding 2 nights a week and getting stuff done. That happened for the first few months then it fell apart because we couldn’t field 25. I was told this happens but I feel the reason was because we weren’t getting anywhere.

    Personally, I feel casual raiding can be done and you can progress. The problem comes in when people are coddled and “individuals” don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m not saying yell at anyone or boot them from the raid but it doesn’t hurt to point out to player (A) that dragging the ooze into the raid is BAD.

    Also you have individuals that are being carried and they openly feel they should not put in any effort. I personally saw where a guildie was asked why he did not have gems or enchants and his response was they are too expensive. Why should that person get a spot that will hinder the raid? That one person not maxing out gear will cripple the DPS for Fertergut. There is no excuse for anyone not having all 264 badge gear gemmed and enchanted at this point.

    I hope you guys make it. I can’t put in the hours anymore and I’m beyond frustrated with the hand holding and getting nowhere. I’m back to doing arenas and we’re progressing at a nice clip. I admittedly have only ever raided for weapons so I can PvP but, I have always made sure a carried my weight. Even when I was in a hardcore raiding guild my ultimate goal was PvP. I hate arenas but at this point it’s easier and less frustrating to grind out the rating for arena weapons which is proving to be quite fun and not too difficult this time around.

    You have a very solid and capable bunch right now but they will get frustrated with carrying people that don’t put forth the effort and feel they are still entitled to a raid spot.


  7. San I feel your pain and frustration as my wife can attest as I stomped through the living room lambasting mistakes that are covered in raiding 101. She just sent me back to my room as not to disturb her raid still in progress.

    That said I can only speak for myself in saying I don't plan to bolt any time soon but do feel a minimum standard needs to be set. After all there are 24 other people that are spending real time and fake gold when we spin our wheels or wipe for no good reason. Not asking for a hardcore standard just think people need to show some effort BEFORE they show up to collect fat loot. It is only fair.

    LFG has made it easy to get decent starter gear...put in some time, learn your class. Besides why would anyone think that someone who has put forth an effort to improve his character and contribute to the overall possibility of raid success should put up with a lack of effort on someone else’s part? It is a guild, not gimme free lootz servitude.

    I am probably preaching to the choir but at minimum the first come first serve policy should be modified. When I raided in a less casual guild we had a 15-20 minute raid start window. If we could not field a team of 25 semi competent raiders so be it. People can move on and not tie up their whole night. Better no raid than a night of frustration IMO. If not that than make it a farm run for the 1st four bosses until people are ready to move on. Those that want to help can those that don’t can use the time to do as they wish. I for one don’t mind helping but come on… people half way and show some initiative. The first rule of ICC is to know your class and be geared to run ICC. The second rule is there is no crying in ICC….except when rule one is not enforced. Nuff said.


  8. Here's where I get to play a couple of roles.

    As a raider, I'm not frustrated. I personally like when goals are hard to achieve, because that makes them all the sweeter when you achieve them. When we do get Festergut 25 down there will be some happy raiders. As long as we see improvement, I'm content. Its still fun.

    Also, its hard to place the blame on the undergeared. While we don't need to be happy about carrying some lower-skill players, I don't think that's our problem. When our top dps are all doing 10k+ dps, we have more than enough damage to overcome the shortcomings of a few individuals.

    Remember that the player who kept dying right away in the fight was a top top raider. Can't blame that on gear or laziness.

    I think that we are all spoiled. We've forgotten that raid bosses sometimes have learning curves. We get frustrated quickly after a few wipes and start throwing blame. That's a hallmark of casual guilds... they have short attention spans. You, as the raid leader, feel self-conscious about that. You shouldn't. It just takes a little time and practice.

    Now the other role. As a guild leader, I need to listen to my guild. If enough people are frustrated and have strong feelings on this then we need to examine it. We have always been short of people, so the culture in our guild has developed as a take-everyone-who wants-to-go mindset. It would be tough, but not impossible, to change that culture.

    We're certainly not going to have a gearscore requirement. But gems and flasks is nice.

    The only way we can make restrictions is if there is competition for raid spots, so that people have a real risk of being left out. If we are short people and they get invited anyway, then its unenforceable. So if changes are to be made, the time to make them is now when we have a lot of enthusiastic people.

    The last thing I want is for you or any of the officers to burn out. It should be fun for everyone, not just 24 of us.

  9. I'm going to be honest, what you've said here saddens me and makes me rethink my commitment to weekend raids.

  10. It seems that we need to come up with a solution that will help us reach our goals. The thing we've always struggled with is how to make the decision or draw the line for our less dedicated players.
    I enjoy raiding as a way to decompress from my work. I will admit that I love getting through content and learning new stuff, but I also really enjoy the friendships and cohesiveness that I've found in this guild. So the last thing I want is alot of drama over who is going to be included in a raid.
    Maybe we should have raids set up so that the guildies know ahead of time that raid A will be a "gear check" and if you aren't ready to go and fully equipped, that you can't participate. Raid B will be more inclusive. This seems to be a revolving problem for us that continues to dog us (no offense, Cheres).
    I think if we're clear that " you won't be invited if you don't pull your weight" is a valid point and might encourage people to pay attention. Then if they are players who "just don't care" we can do a secondary raid with alts, etc.