Taking things in stride

I have two posts in the can, and I may not ever post them. Such is the way with having a blog that serves as an outlet for someone like me, who thinks about the game too much and needs some place to “get things out.” Sometimes, I end up questioning whether I want to actually publish certain posts – particularly the ones that complain about stuff.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about our guild and raiding, and topics and issues surrounding where those two concepts intersect. From time to time, that has crept into blog posts here, particularly when they have been about our raid progress – or lack thereof – and raid readiness. The “lack thereof” part has been a big theme for us as a team so far in MoP, and I’ve had to heavily edit myself at times, with some posts even hitting the incinerator. Sometimes, holding one’s tongue is for the best*.

*It feels like it’s for the best for me, at least. One of my close friends on the team thinks I should post my latest creation, which looks at the topic of a raider putting in way less prep work than he said he would / claimed he did – something that is able to be fact-checked, as most of you know. However, I haven’t decided if I’m comfortable with that, so for the moment I’m most comfortable letting it hibernate. I may decide to post an edited version of it at a later date; we’ll see.

At any rate, today I’m still thinking about these types of things, and so this post will again fall into the broad “talking about my raid team” topic. Hopefully, it will be something I decide to post. Here we go!…

To date: 4/6 Mogu’shan

This past Sunday night, we downed our fourth boss of the expansion, The Spirit Kings. This makes three weeks in a row that we have progressed, which is nice, because for the first two months of Mists, we weren’t even raiding. So I’m enjoying that aspect.

The first two boss pulls on Saturday night were one-shot kills. We had few if any issues, and while the fights still aren’t being executed with cutting precision, we seem to be getting the hang of them.

The trash before Gara’jal is a potential adventure, but we executed them well, so that went fairly painlessly.

What came next didn’t go painlessly, though. A member of our raid team went a-jumpin’ around the middle of the floor as Gara descended. I was in the middle of swapping out Dire Beast for Thrill of the Hunt, since I find the latter talent to be way more effective than the former for downing Shadowy Minions in the spirit world, and I’m one of the primaries for that on our team. So I was opening my talent window to make the swap when I noticed that my teammate was absent-mindedly bouncing around, and called his name out in Vent as Gara’jal landed on him. Boom! the fight was on. It was a wipe. And a nasty one at that.

For some reason, this stupid little mistake – which was just an little error in judgment; run back in, start fresh, no big deal – unsettled something at my core, and set the stage for a long string of wipes and much hemming and hawing before we finally got the boss down.

I still don’t know exactly what it was. I can think of things that it could be, though…

Our raid team has – at most – two ranged DPS at any given time. And one of them is a fire mage. She has trouble bursting down the minions. So we have a monk assigned to go with me, and a warrior on standby in the advent that one of us gets a Voodoo Doll. When we killed Gara the first time, it worked in part because I ended up calling out the position of the totem and the members on duty for that totem, depending on who was Voodoo Doll-ed. That worked well on that kill. For this one, I was a disaster.

Somehow, that premature pull greatly disturbed my mental focus. For several pulls thereafter, I made all kinds of mistakes. I couldn’t follow the Voodoo Dolls very well, and so I couldn’t call out spirit world assignments. I stayed in the spirit world too long, and the boss hit the enrage as a result. Sometimes my late/missed calls meant two DPS went down without a healer. I would succeed in making a call but then be out of range to be transported. Just stupid, stupid mistakes.

I wasn’t the only one who made mistakes, of course, but I was taking responsibility for them because I felt that I should have been able to execute this fight.

What finally worked was for spirit world players to call out when they had Voodoo Dolls, so others could react and we’d have the correct people at the totem when it was killed. Additionally, players going under would call out when they had the totem buff, so that we could kill the totem at the correct time. Once these things happened, we got the kill.

By the time we did our last few pulls, I had gotten myself together. Several attempts removed from trying to kill minions with Dire Beast on the first attempt, I was back in the zone with Thrill of the Hunt. Others calling out their Voodoo Dolls gave me the opportunity to concentrate on my job and to make the calls that I needed to make effectively.

I think that most of what threw me so far off my level of togetherness was that loss of the ritual of prep time. Before the first attempt, we have a small amount of time for people to eat, check flasks and buffs, make talent/glyph swaps, and discuss strategy or assignments. There is a sort of rhythm to this that I think is taken for granted because it always happens. Except for the time it doesn’t happen, in which case Mushan apparently forgets how to play the flippin’ game for half an hour or so.

- – -

This might sound selfish as an isolated statement, but I think that I’m starting to feel a heavy burden to provide a lot of damage. Hmm… I guess it also sounds like a totally insane thing to say, because who doesn’t like to bring. the. damage?!?!

Well, here’s some context for that statement – because of course I love to bring home some major damage! But some fights do have an enrage time, and therefore a certain rate of damage per second is necessary in order to overcome, you know, the boss’s health before that enrage hits.

To illustrate, since I am having trouble explaining where I’m coming from, I’ll show you the damage meter for our Feng the Accursed kill on 12/1:

Damage for Feng, 12/1/2012. Yes, I’m a lazy image editor. :)

I’d be more than ready to accept the argument that this fight is particularly friendly to hunters, which could explain my share of the damage. However, from time to time I’ve gotten smashed on this fight in Raid Finder by mages, shadow priests, shaman, DKs, and other non-hunter classes; additionally, the meter looks somewhat similar to this on almost every boss fight with our raid team. So I don’t know how much that argument applies.

Anyway, Gara’jal goes Berserk at just over six minutes – a tight enrage – meaning that I have to balance my damage on the boss with effective minion-slaying in the spirit world. As I cycled through the process of my internal, mistake-filled meltdown (and subsequent re-centering) on Saturday night, I realized that I needed to really work to strike that balance. Once I realized that, I took a deep breath, forced myself to smile for the first time in too long, closed my eyes, shook my head a few times to “re-set” myself, and basically reminded myself of the following facts: I know the fight, I know the mechanics, and I know what I have to do. Kill minions like crazy and get out ASAP. I am capable of doing this. We’ve already killed him. He’s going down, again, tonight. And he was indeed defeated that night.

Of course, I like bringing tons of damage to the fights, and I strive to play correctly, and to combine playing my toon correctly with executing the boss strategy in order to maximize our potential for a successful attempt. This requires focus. In the future, I need to not let things throw me so far off center like I did last Saturday.

The Spirit Kings; and having a hardcore raider on the team

As I said at the beginning, we killed The Spirit Kings on Sunday night. It was a fun fight, but we didn’t kill it until we resolved some team “line-up” issues that I won’t get into.

What I will talk about is raiding with a hardcore raider.**

**I am not a hardcore raider. Certainly not that hardcore, anyway. You’ll see what I mean…

Our raid team has an interesting personality, both collectively and as a set of individual members. We’re basically a casual guild, and the team is, to my mind, comprised of two sets of people: the people who raided with the guild before Squido joined it, and us, his friends (and previous raiding allies) who joined it after he did. These subsets do not necessarily directly correlate to “more hardcore vs. less hardcore” or anything. However, they are relevant to the topic in the following way:

Back when I was lamenting to Squido that we weren’t raiding, that we didn’t have enough members who were 90, or who were ready to raid, and not enough healers or ranged, and pointing out how we had such a satisfying progression experience in Dragon Soul, he made the point to me that the guild is a casual guild, and that we may have to go through this entire tier before we have a settled lineup and start making real progress.

It’s a great point.

The guild is a casual guild, of mostly very nice people who enjoy playing with one another. We’re never near the top on our server, and that’s fine. And there are several people on the team who could switch guilds for the sake of progression if we wanted to, but we won’t. Those of us who joined after Squido love raiding with him and with one another, and so we’ll take that experience over the chance to progress further and enjoy the game less (which I’ve done in the past – I’ll take this experience over that one, thank you). And the core of what I think of as “legacy” players loves raiding with him also. So it’s really a good situation.

However, there has been a palpable ache to “progress” that is more discernible among those of us who came later than among the legacy members in MoP. This is all well and good, because at this point, now that we’re raiding, I think that all of us are, generally, relatively satisfied that we’re finally killing new bosses.

There’s one person in particular – who also happens to be my one and only main squeeze – who is by far the most “hardcore” of us. She raids with a different guild – a team that clears raid content much more rapidly than ours, and is among the top five guilds on our realm. Her current main is a resto shaman, although she was a mage for most of the past expansion and has also raided end-game content as a main with her priest. Said priest was her second toon to reach level 90 in Pandaria, and so that is the toon she brings to our raids.

When she raids with her main guild, things are pretty intense. She generally handles the stress well, although there are times where the language coming from that side of the room gets both very colorful and exasperated. But they’re successful, and she enjoys it.

When she raids with us, however, she gets very exasperated. And I mean, very, very exasperated. When we raid, the tension level in the room goes through the roof. I usually end up yelling “Chill out! This isn’t [your guild]!” a few times a night after wipes, just because I get so stressed out listening to her rant about one failure or another that occurs during a fight.

It’s an interesting dynamic for me to think about, because our personalities are so different in certain ways. If I were her, I would be much more relaxed about this raid team. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t try as hard or anything. But I think she looks at it from the perspective of “This is easy, I’ve done this ten times, we shouldn’t be wiping!” whereas I would be thinking “Hey, I’m not expecting this to be as successful as [her team], so I’m relaxed and looking to move forward and improve after a wipe.”

In fact, that’s generally how I look at wipes now – as my main. Excepting, of course, the scenario I described above with Gara’jal, which was atypical of me. Usually, though, I like to take things in stride – it makes me as ready to play my very best for each attempt as I can be.

Anyway, having her in the room with me tests my enjoyment of raiding. It’s always been this way. She’s always been a better player than me, and I’ve always had to deal with her intensity boiling  over during raids. However, it seems to be more acute now than it used to be… but perhaps that’s just me not remembering it to be as bad during previous tiers.

Don’t worry – this dynamic does nothing to test our relationship outside of the raids. Once things are over and ranted about, and the game is shut down or whatever, things are fine between us. It just makes for an interesting experience during the process of trying to down a relatively new boss.

However, I will say that this type of behavior did not help me one bit when I was trying to get myself to a comfortable place on our Gara’jal fight last Saturday. And I don’t think I have to explain that.

Closing

This post is very, very long and a little scattered, topic-wise, so I won’t even attempt any type of TL;DR with it. Generally, I am happy to be raiding with my friends, and am still having a good time in raids. Hoping for some drops this week: LFR tier legs, maybe? Pretty please??

- – -

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

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3 Comments on “Taking things in stride”

  1. reiytwow says:

    Really was a long read, but enjoyable! good luck with those tier legs!


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