Hidden Hard Modes: Agonizing over Attendamedes

28 April, 2011

Eighty-percent of success is showing up –Woody Allen

Forward

This is written not as a warning, ultimatum, or scolding. It is a frank explanation of the brain activity of a Raid Leader (or this one, at least) during the week leading up to a raid, the moments before a raid, and immediately after. My best trait as a raid leader has always been my resilience to frustration when things haven’t gone right. Dealing with new folks, folks that mess up, blatant failure, I’m pretty good at shrugging it off. Two months straight of grating problems have whittled me down. As my steely resolve begins to unravel I wanted to express why. This is part confessional, part catharsis, part informational.

Hopefully this is something you can pass along to your fellow raiders as you see some of these signs creep up in yourself or your own raid leader.

I’ve written it using “He” for the sake of editorial brevity.

Your Raid Leader

Your raid leader is a dedicated individual, as I’m sure you are. While your dedication rests on the play of your character and it’s job for a particular encounter, his rests on the face of your guild. He is dedicated on a physical level. He gems his gear correctly, he knows his role, and keeps up with the rest of those in his class on most occasions. He is also dedicated emotionally. You may think that you are as well, but like how one can fail to understand the connection between mother and child, one can fail to understand the connection between a Raid Leader and his guild.

The guild hasn’t killed a new boss and you feel it. You would like those extra check marks and to see more of the content. He feels it for all 35 players he currently has rostered and the dozens of players that came before him. His decisions affect the play time of all those people, and some of those are much harder from him than simply calling the next Lightning Rod target.

After the last raid of the week your raid leader starts thinking about the next week. He breaks out the logs and starts going through looking for anomalies. Who stood out? Who didn’t? Why did we wipe 5 times here? How did people stack up on this second kill? Why didn’t we get that new boss down? This breakdown is usually superficial, it’s just a quick hit list of what did and didn’t work.

Immediately what springs to mind were what was missing. “If so and so was here, this would have been easy, but we had to teach such and such this job.” Don’t misunderstand him. The person that has to learn is at no fault in this scenario. Sometimes a new person has to step up and fill in.

Everything has a breaking point for your raid leader’s immeasurable patience. One boss after the other, you learn the instance as a group. You develop strategies and individuals with specific tasks are identified. Sometimes you switch it up just so that someone has the practice. Intangibly, this time is also spent building confidence in your teammates. Trust is important, and confidence in the strategy and your fellow raiders breeds quicker, more efficient kills.

The wildcard is attendance. You need to be there. Your raid leader has established a schedule and a recruitment level so that you can have a full, healthy raid every night.

But

It’s two days after the raid. That ugly Twin Dragons kill and the sound deaths from Atramedes are a little hazy at this point. Your Raid Leader is now firmly focused on the next reset. He is looking at his roster and formulating the perfect raid composition in his head. There are even contingencies put into place. “This fight is easy with 3 mages, but we have 5. Bonus!” He draws out the next strategy and who he thinks will be great at that job.

The day before the reset has arrived. Your Raid Leader is examining your progression. He sees that a good 10 pulls at the most will finish off this raid boss. If that happens, he should be able to work in a full night on your next target and with some luck… maybe there will be more than one kill! Maybe three!

Elation. “You’re getting back on track,” he says.

Until that moment just 20,  maybe 30 minutes before the first raid of the week. That’s when the tells start, that’s when the notification of absences start to roll in. What? Wait? Why?

“It was looking so good! Everything was in place to take out these new things and progress and I’m going to be missing a tank, 2 of my healers, and all of my warlocks!? The one guy was doing a kiting job, now I have to teach someone new!”

His plan starts to unravel.

Instead of starting in one instance you have to settle for old content in another. Now you realize that those two healers you’re missing are priests and you’ve always had cooldowns for a certain portion of this fight! Maybe you’re working out tank healing, but have no paladins! Four of his best aoe players are gone!

He sits down and wonders where everyone is and why they aren’t in the raid.

But he isn’t angry.

Let Down

Attendance issues give your Raid Leader a helpless feeling. He can do everything right. The best strategy, the best composition, perfectly assigned healing and dps. He’s on time and motivated, but without the tools he’s just a guy on the internet floundering to get something done while not punishing those that are available.

He can teach one new tank, two new tanks, three new tanks, four new tanks, five new tanks, but at the sixth one I guarantee that it’s just a scrambly “please do it right, so we don’t wipe again” prayer more than a tutorial. As you progress your raid leader wants your strategy to go from learning to instinct. This fosters new kills as the old kills get easier. If he is constantly having the raid re-learn the same fights you don’t ever progress. He has the raid attempting to climb out of a hole with a rope that keeps getting longer.

The more you go up, the higher the edge gets.

He will push recruitment and he will get new people into your raid. The chances those folks have done what you’ve done is small, and the cycle above repeats as those raiders become accustomed to a new environment.

Your raid leader is thankful they are there, and he appreciates the patience put forth by existing members to assimilate recruits into the ranks.

But he isn’t sad. He feels good about this next raid week.

Your absence is justified. You had to work late. Your son is sick and needs to be attended to. You had a vacation planned. Maybe you had tickets to a show this evening that you purchased several months ago. The biggest storm of the season knocked out your power, or your ISP just put the clamps on your bandwidth. Your account got hacked two days before you could get an authenticator activated. You caught the flu from the guy that works in the cube across from you.

That’s 8 down and your Raid Leader is deciding which instance to start in.

Are invites out?

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HHM: Lord Moralegar – Turning Raiding Momentum In Your Favor

15 April, 2010

Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.–Vince Lombardi

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut, Recruitmentface

It’s been some time since my last entry on this topic due to a lot of progress, other interesting topics to write on, and the one first of two events this year that make this post actually possible to carve out. Also, this post is likely going to cover much of what I intended for Stratagosa, so we’ll count this as a “council boss” for Hidden Hard Modes ;).

Morale and confidence within a raid are strange animals. In one moment you can effortlessly defeat anything placed in front of you, and with one wipe at a low percent you’re struggling wipe after wipe, for seemingly no reason. There’s a reason that I’m constantly comparing what we do in game to those that skate and hoop in front of thousands: the mentality is similar

Seasons

In PvP there are defined arena seasons, but those are relatively abstract compared to an actual sports season. Raiding actually follows a more stringent schedule and time frame when compared to the typical NHL or NBA season. In a typical week, they’ll play 3 to 4 games. For Raiders, we’re getting up and heading into an instance the same amount.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The mental and physical toughness that it takes to be a professional athlete is so far above what a raider in WoW exerts it might as well be on Jupiter. That being said, in a typical raiding cycle (approximately 7 months) you’re suiting up to play 112 times with probably 70 of those nights being actual progression.

Handling that kind of grind is not easy. There will be off nights and weeks, times when you don’t really get anything done. Is the sky falling every time you wipe 10 times on a boss you’ve killed a half dozen times? Is it time to kick people or disband the guild if a bad raid night turns into a streak of bad nights? Of course not.

Bouncing Back

In hockey this phenomenon is referred to as “tilting the ice.” During a game or a season it might seem like one team is completely outmatched. No matter what they do or how many penalties the other team gets, they just can’t get anything going. It actually looks like someone picked up one end of the rink so that one team is playing downhill. When a game is in the balance, the tilt can go either way at any time. A quick streak of goals can send a team into a downward spiral, bleeding momentum.

Momentum when fighting through a raid instance is just as important. An easy one shot on a boss carries over to the next boss (and so far). Wipes happen just like goals agsinst happen. Expecting to go an entire season without being scored on is ridiculous. Especially on harder content, you need to expect that some bad things will happen or someone will make a mistake and you won’t be able to recover. That’s fine. You just recover, re-buff and pull again.

The wipes that really throw you off kilter are the “back breakers.” You just had a couple solid attempts where a tank DC’d or some dice rolls lined up the wrong way. Everyone is still pretty confident, but this time a melee loses his head and gets his group killed early in the fight. Ugh, killer. We played perfectly and wiped, we played poorly and wiped, how the hell are we going to beat this?

It’s time to bounce back.

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HHM: Recruitmentface

24 March, 2010

A guild should accept a recruit as a body accepts a transplanted organ: Full rejection or full acceptance, becoming a contributing part of the whole

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut.

Recruitment is one of the most talked about and debated guild relations topics out there. Nearly every guild is recruiting someone. So if everyone is doing it, how do you stand out and/or be effective in pulling in quality players? Guides on the details of making an “effective recruitment post” are only useful to a certain point. Sure it’s always a good idea to present your guild information in an intelligible way and be truthful about your needs, but there are so many recruitment threads out there. When a recruit pulls up a realm forum or recruitment thread he’s looking at the following parameters:

  1. Minimum progression: Anyone that is looking to move to another raiding guild has some sense of where they want to be and what they’re capable of (if only subconsciously).
  2. Raid Times/Attendance Req’s: Does their availability match with yours?
  3. Potential Raiding Chances: What is the likelihood that they’ll get into raids?
  4. (On Server Only) Friends/Family: Often if a guild disbands or a player is looking to move, he’ll go to the guild where most of his on-server friends play. It doesn’t matter if the guild is at the top or bottom, they’re looking for a familiar place with familiar faces.

That’s it. Anything else like handing out free repair bills or double coupons up to $0.99 are just nice little perks. If the potential recruit does not think your guild can meet the above three parameters, it doesn’t matter.

Recruitmentface

This doesn’t just mean bumping recruitment posts and spamming trade chat, it also means properly managing your raid roster for various compositions and full tank/healer coverage. The night you can’t do Blood Queen because you have no +hit buff available is a wipe on Recruitmentface.

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HHM: Attendancegut

22 March, 2010

“It’s a reliable source of information. 50,000 unstoppable watts”–Clutch

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in it’s own page for easy access after it runs it’s course.

It’s 7:55 PM.

You left work in a frenzy, frantically closing windows and sending out the last two emails of the day. Your computer just wouldn’t log off and…ah damn it! security patch, this will be another 5 minutes. Every single light on the way home turned red just as you got there as old ladies get in front of you for a near flawless execution of stalling glory.

The front tires of your car hit the driveway and you’re already unbuckling your seat belt. The paper is still sitting on the front porch, the mail still in the box with the flag up. Your dog is barking it’s head off because you left him in his crate by mistake

There’s no time to spare, invites are in 5 minutes. We’re going after the Lich King tonight!

Everything is in order. The dog is fed and let out, you have your drink, your dinner, you’re ready to kick some ass and take names. You’ve probably never entered your authenticator code this fast in a long time. The character select screen pops up with your Night Elf staring back at you with the look of “where the hell have you been? Let’s go kick some undead ass!” But wait, there’s probably a new version of DBM out, so you go and grab that real quick so you have no reason to log out unexpectedly and miss your invite.

Finally, you get back into the game and pick your toon, anxiously watching the loading bar fill up. That last twinge of adrenaline shoots through you as you hear the sound of your character logging in.

It’s time.

But there are only 19 people logged in.

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