Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Which I Rant About Attitudes

Oh, Sindragosa, how I loathe thee. You weren't content to just stomp our faces in for one night, or even to possess a cat and distract further attempts at taking your life. Your stubbornness is very annoying. We even walked in there with a new strat (one Rhidach outlined here) and, while things seemed to be going well, the icy queen still lived at the end of the raid.

However, I didn't come here to write about how we fared against this chilly roadblock. What I really want to discuss, believe it or not, is attitude.

Unless your Vent is dead silent during raids, I'm sure all of you have picked up on (or are starting to pick up on, as is my case) the general feel of raid time in your local guild and the main actors and actresses that grace its stage. In many ways, it's your interactions with these individuals that determines how your runs progress and how much fun you take out of it.

I'm sure many of us have been in raids with ragers that are hovering over their Vent bind, just waiting to tear the heart out of some poor sap who isn't stacked perfectly enough, or whatever their rage-spiration may be.

On the other side of the spectrum there are the antithesises antithesi opposites of the ragers, the push-overs. These are the raiders  that kindly remind everyone not to kill XT's heart in a short message in raid chat (come on, no one reads raid chat), and when the heart comes down and the shaman hits Bloodlust, you just know the push-over is sitting there, shrugging his shoulders, saying to himself "Aw, shucks. Well, better luck next time!"

Obviously, neither extreme is ideal, nor do I think there is one specific attitude that is right for every situation. Rather than trying to find a happy medium, let's look at how these two extremes apply to raiding.

Case: Heroic Sindragosa 25

Yes, I am using my guild's current progression encounter as an example. Bear with me, and go ahead and take that grain of salt, along with what looks like a fistful of ibuprofen. I can wait.

For those unfamiliar with the heroic encounter, a basic overview is that it's a LOT like the normal version, just much, much less forgiving. I don't intend on making a fight breakdown / strategy for this fight until we down it, but thankfully a full understanding of the heroic mechanics won't be relevant for my discussion. I hope.

We normally run with only two or three druids, and as such, we only have two or three Rebirths.  On such an unforgiving encounter, those would ideally be saved for tanks, first and foremost. However, quite often we would have someone not quite LoS a frost bomb and get one-shot as a result, in which case one of our Rebirths is burned.

It is my own humble (/chuckle) opinion that LoSing frost bombs during the air phase is not a difficult thing to do, and therefore, those who fail at doing so need to buckle down and simply "do better." I don't know how else I can say it; such players need to adapt. I'll admit, I've been killed twice by the same mechanic. As a result of those deaths, I felt embarrassment and a little bit of shame for dying to something so simple, and henceforth kicked myself into gear. That was more than two weeks ago, and I have not been hit by a frost bomb since.

As an aside, I, in fact, don't hold myself as a shining example of the 'perfect raider.' I still have room for improvement, and I continually work at it. For example: the greatest thing about having dual monitors is having the ability to multi-task; the worst thing about having dual monitors is having the ability to multi-task.

So what happens when individuals who consistently fail at this are soaking up Rebirths like a desiccated sponge? Is it wrong to expect that raider to be improving their performance?

Short answer: No, it isn't wrong at all.

Long answer: The fact that we're getting so close to downing this fight is an indication of the potential of our players. I've seen some truly impressive things in my short stay here so far. The potential is there; the commitment to fulfillment is what I feel is lacking. We all want this shrill bone-thing dead. We should all be committed to this goal. By accepting that raid invite, you are telling not only your raid leader, but the rest of the raid and guild as a whole, that you are willing to go the distance and do what needs to be done to see these things through, among other clich├ęs.

Macroscopically, in any raid that's struggling on something, the solution may not be a simple strat change or repositioning; it could be the consensual attitude of the raid. So what's the remedy?

It's not yelling and barking at your guildmates, that's for sure. My old guild had a raid leader that shouted out orders like he was commanding a brigade of 9 year olds. Not only does it get grating and irritating, it's insulting to be treated like that. Thankfully, there isn't a soul in ES that has adopted such a style.

On the flip side, the cure we're seeking is also not the shoulder-shrugger attitude either. After a wipe, expressing your "Oh well, maybe next time!" point-of-view won't get you any points, and it definitely won't get you any closer to your kill.

I wanted to write this post without singling anyone out, and (hopefully) without causing too much intra-guild drama. As such, I'm going to try to put this next part as delicately as possible.

There were a few attitudes I observed last night that really bothered me.

First, the individual that Rhidach mentions in his latest post. In case you didn't click that link (I wouldn't blame you; my banner is way cooler than his), there was an individual opening criticizing the decision to try a new strat. I highly, highly encourage proper and intelligent feedback from raiders to their raid leader, but not in such a way that portrays the RL as a villain, which is (again, in my "humble" opinion) exactly what happened.

This is not to say I totally and utterly disagreed with this dissenter. At first, I too questioned the wisdom of switching up strats when we got so close to a kill last week. However, rather than crying in raid chat about it, I kept my opinion to myself. I made a decision of my own; that is, to trust the raid leader and see this through. And by golly, when we made it sub-20% on the first try of the new strat, those reservations I had soon evaporated. Imagine that.

Your raid leader, guild leader, and officer corps are a higher rank than you for a reason. They have all shown an aptitude for leading and decision-making, and, as the case with ES, their experience and guidance has seen us through to one of the hardest encounters in the game thus far. They spend a lot of time working, researching, brainstorming, and collaborating, so that when raid time rolls around, bosses drop left and right, and you, the average raider, leave later that night with full bags and a sense of accomplishment.

In short, trust in your leaders. Trust is the glue that binds your raid together.

The second attitude that really irked me was actually conveyed in the middle of an attempt. We had a healer clearing stacks of Unchained Magic who suddenly got marked for a beacon and, unfortunately, couldn't make it all the way to the designated "ice block area." The tank had to readjust in order to get back in range of the tomb so both tanks could clear stacks quickly.

The placement of this tomb, while poor, was seemingly unavoidable. Sometimes these things happen. Everyone did a fantastic job readjusting, but we eventually ended up wiping anyway. However, right as the tomb went out, the tank let out a cry of frustration over Vent, to which someone responded "Oh well, it's alright."

I have a few problems with this. First, I know that you mean well and you're trying to calm the tank who is probably foaming at the mouth, but it is not alright. The tomb got placed in the wrong area, and as a result, we wiped shortly after. Nothing about that is "alright."

It may not actually be anyone's fault; the healer in question can't just zip to any part of the map at a whim. It was great that no one else managed to get tombed alongside them during this mishap, but we cannot walk into these attempts with the sense that, if you screw up, everything's okay.

Second, not only was that the wrong thing to say, it was also the wrong time to say it. You don't try making idle chit-chat with Jim Furyk when he's in the middle of his backswing. The only people talking should be those contributing to the task at hand, i.e. the murder of this stupid dragon. There is no need to clog up Vent with your "carebear" chatter.

All in all, my advice to anyone reading this that is in a similar situation is to try to be mindful of your raid's attitude. Whenever possible, encourage determined optimism while discouraging apathy and raging outbursts.

Essentially, be more like Vulcans. They know how to get stuff done.

Ha, innuendo. Awesome.


  1. I was going to comment, but then... that rocket... I can't stop... what the hell were we talking about?

    Um, yeah. But seriously, I like when people are comfortable enough to screw around in vent because I want people to have fun. But at the same time, I want that locked down as soon as the pull happens, especially on a progression fight. 100% focus on your role and tasks.

    We're at the point where the only thing between us and victory over Sindragosa is everyone focusing and getting the job done.

  2. Have you all considered implementing a "bounty" for this encounter?

    We did this for learning Archimonde - it was a suggestion that someone I really respected over on EJ made. Basically how it worked was that if you blew the raid up by not clicking on your tears, standing in the fire, etc. you owed the raid 100 gold. At the end of the night, we divy'd the pot up to everyone in the raid to help cover repair costs.

    I was skeptical of implementing this at first, but you know what? It took our guild a fraction of the time it took other guilds at our skill level to learn, and succeed at the encounter.

    We again implemented "the bounty" for Teron Gorefiend, which was a bane of ours. If you killed the raid because you couldn't deal with your ghost - you owed the raid 100 gold.

    We haven't bountied anything like that this expansion - until HM Sindragosa. And even then, it was after she was considered on "farm". The fight IS hugely unforgiving, and one night people's heads were just somewhere else when we went in to kill her, and casters were blowing the raid up. We'd had enough of the poor mistakes and instituted a 50 gold penalty if you blew the raid up with backlash in phase 3 (we don't have a huge issue with the ice tombs - but if you are having trouble with it I would definately reccommend this one too - "if you die to a frost bomb you own the raid x gold"). And you know what? The very next pull we got her down with the entire raid alive and almost flawlessly.

    Sometimes taking personal accountability to the next level - and enforcing that carelessness/malaise in performance is *costing* the raid not only gold but their time - really helps to get folks focused and their minds where they need to be for the encounter.

    Alternatively, if you are uncomfortable with the bounty concept, what we did for lady deathwhisper was that if you didn't didn't get physically hit by a ghost - causing the explosion - on the nights that we were still learning the encounter, you received guild bank repairs for a week. I will state, however, that this "reward" system did not work as well as instituting the bounty.

    Even intial dissenters of "the bounty" really liked it after it was implemented. And from time to time when we aren't on our game and the raid is performing poorly we will have people ask us to bounty it.

    Anyhow, just some food for thought! :)

  3. Those are some incredibly intriguing suggestions! Though I'm not in charge of much of anything, the person that IS commented before you :P

    If I were though, I'd be inclined to give it a shot. However, it seems like doing so would just increase finger-pointing and blame-placing. I mean, I could easily see a caster DPS who casted during phase 3 and blowing people up claim that it "wasn't them," or something equally childish. I suppose that breaks down to whether or not the raider in question is mature enough to admit when they screwed up.

  4. While it was miles easier to figure out who didn't get their tears clicked and destroyed the raid - it's not so difficult for today's raids if you are running a mod like Recount or Skada. You can easily tell *who* made the error. If you place it in the leadership's hands to pinpoint where the error is occuring, the raid won't have to be in a position to "point fingers". Recount won't lie. If person x has "backlash" as part of their damage - it's pretty easy to see who might have let one charge hit one person as they were moving out, and who took 5 stacks and stood in the raid and exploded half of the group.

    I also find it helpful, instead of saying "person X WTF! how can you POSSIBLY keep screwing this up" (exageration), to say "person x, you seem to be having trouble with mechanic y, do you understand how this mechanic works? Is there something in particular that you are struggling with? How can we help you?". A lot of times this open conversation with the person and the raid will help give them feed back and pointers that they might not have known otherwise.

    I know that all guilds have different personalities to them - but with our guild, most people will openly admit if they've made and error (or course, they also know that recount doesn't lie!). However, we are also really open to openly discuss errors and how to fix them as well. We utilize recount constantly after a wipe to anazlye "what went wrong", it's true power is so much more than finding out who did the most DPS!

    If you have questions about who to find the data in recount or skada, just let me know, I'd be happy to help you find where it parses :)

  5. I agree with you on your first point that if you disagree with your raid leaders decision for a new strategy, vent is not the correct forum to voice your objection. Switching channels to discuss it or whispers in game would be the more appropriate venue to approach it.

    It is easy to affect the morale of the group or synergy between players when acting out in such a vocal way. But in the same right blogging about it and "hoping" it doesn't cause to much drama is just as bad in my opinion.

    Of the second point I must be a "Carebear" because I see the commenter letting a team mate know that they shouldn't get to stressed about the mistake. Everybody makes mistakes in game and a lot of people tend to be quite hard on themselves when they happen to be the cause of it. Having a guild mate tell you to not stress about it is a considerate thing to do.

    You rant about the attitudes of your guild mates but I think you need a little perspective. You've singled out several of your guild mates and your distaste of their play style. How is that bettering your guild? Your raiding experience? At least the guy disagreeing with trying a new tactic was generally concerned for what was best for the raids progress, he didn't want to take a step back trying a different strategy. And the "Carebear" was just trying to put people at ease during a stressful moment.

    How are you contributing?

    Good luck with that.

  6. On the "carebear" issue, I guess what bothered me more about that certain raider's comment was when and how he said it. Saying something like that while trying to continue in a progression fight is inappropriate. Don't take me wrong; I'm not a fan of barking and yelling and screaming over Vent during this period either. Ideally, Vent should be used for proper communication between raid members, and filling it with idle chatter (especially such chatter that conveys the picture of "Well, this attempt is over, everyone stop trying," which is exactly what I got out of that raider's message) is counterproductive, at best.

    On the non-conduciveness of the content of this post, I apologize if you misunderstood my use of the term "rant" in the title of the article. Typically, "rant" refers to whining, complaining, and other non-productive forms of communication, all of which I thought were evident. I did get a bit preachy toward the end, but generally it's one big rant.

    Although perhaps you are debating the usefulness of my ranting and are challenging me to take a bold step forward into the world of "doing something about it"?

    Well played, Anonymous, well played.

  7. Fail meters are oh... so telling and oh... so dangerous.

    Bottom line is that no matter what attitude your raid leader has there has to be trust on the plan, when someone goes against a new strat or even and old one after it has failed (or even after it was explained) I think it proves distracting.

    I think strats need to be discussed openly but when a raid leader says, we are doing it this way there should be no rebuttal. That is only truly effective is the raid trusts the raid leader though.