Warning! Epic wall of text incoming!
I’m changing the format of these posts a bit today because the next part is going to get a bit personal and will touch on topics that transpired a bit in this blog and that I’ve touched on in other posts about guild life and expectations. To sum up the chain of events leading to this post, since last time, I took a WoW break around Ulduar time where I went and enjoyed hobbits for a while before coming back to WoW a bit before ICC and joining back up with Auraye and friends in a guild I honestly can’t remember the name of so let’s call it Timebomb.
Due to the simple fact that I was one of the most experienced players in the guild and because I genuinely wanted to help, I was made raid leader of Timebomb shortly after I came back. They were missing someone for the position and the guild leader, Auraye didn’t want to handle both guild leading and raid leading at the same time. We had a few good discussions to start things off and our roles were clear. I was to do handle everything raid related and she’d keep on doing the other guild stuff. Officially, we were a serious casual raiding guild which meant that we were supposed to be skilled players but with more limited raiding time.
Near every single player will tell you they are good if you ask them. The reality though is that not everyone can do Heroic Arthas while its current content. Everyone wants to succeed if you ask them but again the reality is that they might not want to put in the time or effort to get there. Whether or not putting in all that time into a game is really worth it is a debate for another time but the bottom line is that the boss won’t die unless everyone plays their part at a high enough level.
Timebomb was not a serious casual raiding guild. It was a casual guild who wanted to raid. The average level of the players in it was passable and most of them had little to no raid progression experience. Like many other guilds, the guild was built on a small group of friends who wanted to get some sweet epics and had recruited haphazardly without any real plan. There were a few good players, including the guild leader Auraye but not enough to fill a raid. In fact filling raids was a constant struggle and we ended up inviting pugs more than once.
Auraye was another big part of the equation. Auraye was a good healer who had aspirations of hardmode raiding and sweet epics. In fact, getting the best gear and showing it up was her main motivation. She was also good enough to get said spot in the hardcore guilds but for unknown reasons she had preferred starting her own guild to get her there. However, she didn’t want to do the actual leading. As far as she was concerned guild leading meant setting up a website, throwing up the occasional “fun” event and approving the decisions of others.
As for my role in this I was the raid leader which meant in Timebomb that I was to handle strategy, loot (pending approval of guild leadership), invites, checking up gear, checking flasks, making sure the guild bank had mats, player performance, dealing with Pugs and even recruitment. Last and most important to Auraye, progression was expected.
Looking back now, it’s pretty apparent that we had a recipe for disaster but back then, we were all a group of friends and I was just helping out as best as I could. Auraye couldn’t do it all by herself and my experience put me in a good position to help out. Plus, all we had to do was Tournament of crusaders and by then, everyone had it on farm so the skill problems weren’t as apparent.
ICC came along and the going was good at first. We were making slow but steady progress and I was confident the raiders issues I was noticing (flasks,low dps, etc…) would iron themselves out quickly enough.
This right there is one of the hardest calls to make as a raid leader. How do you differentiate between a bad player and someone who’s inexperienced? The bad player you’re limited to what you can do with but the inexperienced… if you give them time they can be awesome players. In the same vein of thought, bad is a relative term. Someone might be good enough for regular mode but won’t be able to do heroic. When you’re progressing a player that was okay before might become a hindrance on a latter fight.
Sure, given enough time most players will improve but what is enough time? How long do you hold the group back just so someone can improve. How do you even approach a player about his or her need to improve? What needs to be done? Gear, rotations? Is it a problem with his connection?
So we progressed up to plague wing and Putricide and this is where things started going to hell rapidly. We had some stress getting up to that point but Putricide was our wall. We were going nowhere fast wiping on him and pressure was mounting fast on the guild. Still operating under the assumptions that everyone was a serious raider and wanted to progress I was trying to help out as best as I can but still there was a threshold I was not willing to cross and that was outright saying to someone they needed to be better.
After a while of trying the soft methods and not having many results, Auraye came to me and asked me to fix things. I was the raid leader and as such, I should be able to get things moving again. I agreed with that too and went about finding our issues, logs in hand. Two issues were identified. First, our attendance issues meant we still could not fill a full raid. Second, it was obvious some players were still underperforming after many weeks of raiding.
So I made two crucial mistakes without realizing. In order to fix the first issue I invited some real friends I knew to be great raiders to come raid with us. Then, I made it clear that the underperforming players would be cut from progression fights. I remember writing in the forums a very mathematical post about it in the sense of you to do X dps to kill the boss so if you’re lower we’ll replace you for fight Y.
The bad players, who were real-life close friends of Auraye didn’t like it one bit and made the case to Auraye that I was in fact taking over the guild with my friends and cutting the people we didn’t like. While that was not my intention, I admit that the two decisions taken together didn’t look good either.
We raided under the new system for about two weeks. Except that nobody would be replaced in raids since Auraye overruled me on that point so… we had more attendance but still had the bad players.
Or course things didn’t work out and two weeks later…. Boom!
I was the one who blew up first. I was under a lot of pressure both in real-life and now in-game trying to make things work out so when Auraye and friend approached me to tell me that they didn’t like the way things were going and that they were thinking of kicking me and my friends out of the guild if we didn’t find a solution I blew up.
Yes the guild had issue, yes the raids sucked and guild atmosphere was in the gutter. But I would not accept blame for it. No effing way that she would let it fall on me. I was driving myself nuts trying to find a solution and now I was being made the problem.
So I said a lot bad words, wrote this post and left saying eff you people. To my delight, my leaving did not fix the guild issues as Auraye was pretending and the guild ended up dying soon after. Auraye later transferred server and did join up with a hardcore guild where she got all the purples she ever wanted.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize how much the experience taught me and was in fact beneficial. I learned a lot about group dynamics and expectations, both said and unsaid. I learned that I’m not alone in a team and that as such, success or failure does not rest only on me. I learned to say no, to set my limits and to walk away when things are not working out. These skills have served me well in my career and I have to thank a videogame for that.
So in the end, was I to blame for what happened? Yes, in a way I am responsible for what happened. I should have questioned the official guild goals of raiding when I realized the skill level of the guild. I should have not accepted to be in a position where my every decision could be overturned according to the whim of the guild leader. I should have delegated more and not take everything on me.
And at the end, when Auraye would have insisted that we raid and that her friends were good raiders… I should have walked away…