Winning and Losing

11 Jan

A little friendly competition is a good thing right?

It can bring out the best in people – can make them sharper, quicker.  Add in some competition and suddenly people are bringing their a-game to the table, they want to fight!  win!

The problem with competition comes when you start using words like “win” and “lose”.  Some folks don’t like that much.  In fact, there’s quite a few people that play this game simply because they aren’t required to put themselves in situations where they have to choose between winning and losing.

Raiding is not one of those situations.

From the moment the raid leader picks a team amongst the folks that signed up – there are winners and losers.  Fail to get a heal in on the main tank during Saurfang’s enrage?  You lose and your guild loses with you.  Die standing in a fire?  You lose and everyone gets to watch.  No raiding, like life, is one of those places where winning and losing matter.  There’s not much you can do about it, no guild is immune to it and if  you plan on raiding at all, you need to get used to it.

My guild didn’t.

What’s worse is that they probably don’t even see where they went wrong.

For a good long time, my (horde) guild was pretty happily plodding along in in their raid free, failure free existence.  They had raided some before, back in the BC days, but nothing beyond Karazhan and never more than 10 player.  Never the most reliable of players most of them simply logged on when they had time and shied away from anything that required scheduling or effort.   It was a game by gawd and they were there to play.

More power to them.

But then, one day – the guild leader and others decided they wanted to raid.  Really wanted to raid.  The guild leader pugged for a while on his own until he had enough gear and enough know-how to tank WotLK content.  Then, kicking and screaming, he brought a lot of the guild with him.  From the very beginning, organizing and scheduling were almost impossible tasks.  We had a hell of a time getting people to commit to using the raid calendar – or showing up once they signed up.  Raids were inconsistent at best, we were pugging dps constantly and each week brought new raid team members.

Then something unexpectedly cool happened.

The guild picked up 7 new members.  A friend of the guild leader had brought much of his own guild across from another server to join up with us.  They were solid players, bonafide raiders, they were disciplined, schedule oriented and had goals.  As to be expected many of us were both excited and a little scared to see them join.  After all – what happens to your raid slot if someone who’s better, faster, smarter shows up?  What happens when there is competition?

In those early days, it really didn’t matter.  The new guys were already used to using a calendar – they were already used to setting schedules and following them.  They posted a raid made it very clear that everyone was welcome to sign up.  But if you signed up and didn’t *show up* – you’d get banned from raiding with them for 2 weeks.  Just happy to have a calendar that might actually mean something, Rainchaser promptly signed up for the ToC-10 run they’d scheduled and crossed her fingers.

When Saturday night rolled around and Rain’ logged on – she had a raid slot!  Things were great!  In a handpicked group of new and old players we promptly walked into ToC-10 and after a couple missteps knocked the place on its ass.  Still enjoying ourselves we decided to wander over to Ulduar and knocked a fair number of bosses down there as well.

The achievement notifications *rolled* across guild chat.

The following weekend was much of the same.  We one shot ToC in devastating fashion, killed Ony in a startlingly quick manner, and pulled a 25 man Ulduar run together with some pugs and killed our way past Hodir until frozen blows and sleep deprivation were just too much.

Things were going great and people were noticing.  The rest of the guild, including the bulk of the uber-casuals were as excited as we were.  The following Monday the number of people signing up for raids had doubled.

That of course was when the problems started.

You see, people were seeing the achievements in guild chat, they were seeing the new gear and hearing the war stories in vent.  It was cool and the core raid team was cool.  Others wanted in – and they wanted in *now*.  The new raid leader was up front about things.  He was scheduling people he knew could perform and knew would show up.  He wouldn’t guarantee anyone a slot, but also wouldn’t hesitate to give someone new a shot if an opening appeared.

For those that got slots – this was great.  For those that didn’t – it wasn’t – and they bitched.

But they bitched to the guild leader and not the raid leader.

In fact – they bitched so much that the guild leader decided to form two teams and schedule two raids to run concurrently.

Where before the guild leader and raid leader were a power house Main Tank / Off Tank combination, we suddenly found ourselves having to choose between two raids.  One lead by the new raid leader and one lead by the guild leader.  They really played it up.  This was to be the most epic night the guild had ever seen.  Two Onyxia raids running simultaneously followed by a pair of ToC-10 runs.  Fun and loot was to be had by all.

What followed was almost predictable.  Uncomfortable “failing” in front of the “new guys” – many of the “good ol’ boys” in the guild signed up with the Guild Leader’s run.  As expected, many of the new guys wanted to run with the Raid Leader for the same reason.  The Guild Leader and Raid Leader saw what was happening and tried to counter it.  The Raid Leader made sure some of his people were part of the Guild Leader’s raid.  For myself, I was more than happy to go with the Raid Leader.  After all, because I’m a schedule based beast I was already used to raiding with them.  A couple other old timers that had been part of the core raid team joined up with us and we finally had two full teams.

Anyway, Saturday night came, we all grouped up and flew off to Duskwallow.  As  you can imagine, spirits were high.  If everything worked out, tonight we’d all win.  Everyone would get to raid and everyone would come home with war stories and loot.

Things seemed to be working out really well.  Much to my surprise, there was friendly trash talk going on in vent and guild chat was full of wagers about which team was going to clear both raids first.  It really was a lot of fun.

Finally, go time came, we all broke off to our own raid channels, got serious and started to pull…and from that point on the only thing falling down was the guild’s collective sense of self and whole lot of casual raider egos.

We were broken up into two teams.  Blue Team was the Guild Leaders Team.   Gold Team was the new Raid Leaders Team.  We all entered Ony’ at the same time – we figured things were going to be really close.

Out the door, Gold Team had some problems.  Silly pratfalls in Ony’, most of it bad luck honestly.  In the end though, Ony’ fell and we headed off to ToC-1o with tons of time left on our original flasks.

ToC-10 was bumpy as well.  Tanks are a critical piece of any raids composition and our Raid Leader – a splendid pally tank – was used to working with our Guild Leader – a splendid warrior tank.  With a different OT in the slot (a druid tank – one of the new transplants) the two of them had to spend a couple fights getting in sync with one another.  Plus – our raid composition was slightly different so a wipe or two was just in the cards.  By the time faction champs came along we had wiped three times and were afraid that the Guild Leader and the Blue Team were going to surpass us and beat us to Anubarak.

One of the older players in Gold Team tossed a whisper to a friend in Blue.

“Dude – we’re wiping hard on Faction Champs – how are you guys doing?”

The response was slow in coming.

“…jus a sec…whelps…”

The Gold Team player blinked.  Whelps?   He did a quick /who for his friends name.  Blue Team was still in Onyxia’s Lair.

Ugh.

Eventually Gold Team got its act together.  Facing a particularly rough combo, we changed tactics and suddenly the undefeatable faction champs had been reduced to faction chumps.  Less than an hour later and Anubarak tipped over and we all cheered.

Gold Team was victorious.

We’re a pretty mild crew so in spite of our win, there was no shit talking in vent – and no /laugh and /point in guild chat as the Blue Team transitioned from Ony to ToC-10.  Those of us old timers in Gold Team were elated that we’d cleared all the content for the night and we felt bad for our buddies in Blue that were just getting started on Northrend Beasts.

Two hours later it was worse.

The guild leader popped into guild chat around midnight and left us with a terse:

“Later -gotta get away from this fucking game for a while.”

Blue Team wandered back into the standard vent channels, they were completely beaten.  Onyxia had almost proven too much for them and after two hours of trying, they had never made it past the Jormungar in ToC-10.  Everything seemed to have gone wrong they said.

“We were failing on silly shit.  Couldn’t kill the snobolds fast enough, couldn’t clear the burning bile.  The Off Tank was getting jibbed constantly.”

There were no more raids that night.  In fact – until this weekend – some month or more later, there have been no raids to speak of at all.  The new Raid Leader and his transplants all gquit a few days after the twin raids.  Everyone in the guild was mad, the super casuals felt cheated, most were blaming the New Raid Leader and his transplants.  Angst and drama that had been lurking under the surface of the guild suddenly burst forth and it was molten.  Apparently quite a few old timers felt the new raid leader and his people were toxic, played favorites, excluded old guildies from raids and 5-man runs.  Personally, I never saw that – but then I wouldn’t – I was only on during the weekends.

The Guild Leader was in a bad spot.  His officers are officers based on the fact that they’re real life friends, not because they’re particularly good at being guild officers.  To their credit, they’ll tell you as much. But with lines split clearly between old and new and with his officers fairly firmly entrenched against the Raid Leader and his people, the parting of ways just seemed inevitable.

For me – this was a revelation.  Being almost completely out of game until the weekend, I got to miss all of the drama and subsequent gquits that came about.  One weekend I was a raider – and a happy one.  The next, my Raid Leader was gone – my fellow raiders were gone.  Hell, even the Guild Leader had hung up his Main Tank duties after a pair of failed Ony runs during the week.  He was through with raiding for a while.  As far as he was concerned, the drama cost was no longer worth it to raid.

For the old timers – many of them still wanted to raid and seemed a little self conscious after everything was said and done.  A few made a half hearted effort to organize runs, to show what the guild could do *without* the Raid Leader and his rules and his schedule.  They would keep things going, we would still be raiders and there would be loot and ponies for all.

But it all went bad.  There was no loot – there were no ponies.  For two or three weeks we still couldn’t get past the Jormungar in ToC-10.  After that, those of us that had been in the core raid group were fed up.  Still failing on the Northrend Beasts, the new raid officers took the guild into ICC and compounded failure by promptly wiping on trash.  To make things worse, several of the officers got together and promptly decided the answer to all the failure was to schedule 25-man pug raids instead of 10-man runs.  I can’t quite fathom the logic there, but it’s what they did.

The fail was hard – the fail was frequent.

For myself, I watched much of this happen from a distance.  Without a solid schedule to depend on, my raiding days looked to be done.  I signed up for the raids that were on the calendar, but as time came and went, the runs ended up dying because people wouldn’t show up, or because 10 random 80’s showed up in before raid time and decided to start early.  Disgusted, I played an alt, did some battle grounds, and waited for things to get better.  One Saturday night I ended up hanging out with the Raid Leader as he took his brand new guild through ICC-10.  It was a good time.  We made it up to Saurfang before calling it a night.  It was good to be “winning” again.

This Saturday the guild planned an ICC-10 run followed by ToC-10.  They felt much more confident as everyone had used 3.3’s gift of badges to really start working on their gear.  Now – with virtually everyone sporting full T-9 they were in a good place.  I recommended to the officers that they try to reverse the order of the raids.  Let everyone take all that new gear and finally excel in fights they already knew.  The “win” would bolster their confidence, maybe breathe some new life into the raid team.

Much to my pleasure they took the advice.

Much to my displeasure they launched the raid over an hour early – disenfranchising people that had signed up and showed up on time.

Still, the gear helped, they cleared ToC-10.  It was late when they got done so instead of moving on to ICC, they decided to put it off until regular raid time on Sunday night.  With nothing changed on the calendar I crossed my fingers and showed up on Sunday night about an hour prior to the normal raid time.

The guild message of the day scrolled past.

ICC-10 at 2pm server!  Be there if you need the weekly raid quest!  Full clear if we don’t suck!

2pm…

Over 4 hours earlier than the scheduled raid time.  4 hours.  On a positive note, they’d made it past Lady Deathwhisper and were trying out the Gunship Fight.  They were winning.

I’m happy for them.

But I’m officially done trying to raid with them.

So ultimately – I guess I lose this round.

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7 Responses to “Winning and Losing”

  1. Nora January 12, 2010 at 15:54 #

    Sorry to hear about the experiences, Rain. And here I was going to ask you for advice on a good Horde guild if I start playing there a bit more! 😉 (Need to check things out before goblin shammies hit, after all…)

  2. Windpaw January 12, 2010 at 15:56 #

    hey Nora – there are several good horde guilds on MG. The key is knowing what you want before you go looking I suppose 🙂 Feel free to shoot me an e-mail (should still be in my veritas forum profile) or catch me in game!

  3. Chawa January 12, 2010 at 22:47 #

    I hate to say it but this was a very interesting read for me considering my small guild is just trying to get 10man raiding organized so that it’s scheduled and fair to all members. I’m hoping our attempts don’t backfire, like it did for your guild.

    Coming from a small guild of mostly RL friends, it bothers me that your guild didn’t make efforts to ensure that changing raid schedules were advertised using as many forms of communication possible. The ingame guild greeting is not the only means available….

    I can understand why you’ve given up raiding with them… I hope you keep raiding with the (now x) raid leader. That sounds like a good match for you!

  4. windpaw January 12, 2010 at 23:07 #

    Communication is huge and it’s part and parcel why I’ve finally decided to stop banging my head against the wall here. The big issue is that most of these guys have either (a) known each other for years – or (b) live across the street from one another. Most have *ample* game time and they’re simply enjoying the game in a manner that just isn’t possible for me. I’m frustrated for that reason and that reason alone. Don’t get me wrong – I love the guild – I’ve known them for a long time. I can easily enjoy the game with them – I just don’t need to try to raid with them. Our playstyles and scheduling needs just don’t fit.

    The thing that makes this extra frustrating is that I was *in* a completely different guild (in a different faction) until an account snafu borked most of my characters. I’m still waiting on Blizzard to sort the problem out (like almost 40 days and counting) and put me back where I belong. Until then – I get to fuss and fume and watch the guys in Veritas knock ICC over – boss by boss by boss.

  5. Nora January 13, 2010 at 13:59 #

    FWIW, for any new non-raiding guild taking steps into raiding, I recommend a few things. First – do whatever you can to ensure everyone keeps a good attitude and perspective. You’ll wipe, and between that and loot rolls, there’s always bound to be a bit of tension. For a new guild, try to keep a good smile and attitude – be willing to crack a joke when things get too tense, or help soothe tempers. For a group of friends, that should hopefully diffuse a lot of the tension that will inevitably arise. Otherwise, as Windpaw said – communication is key. Tell people up front what needs to happen, who needs to do it, and why people don’t get to go (or how they will next time) for those who can’t go. Communication can solve 85% of raiding drama.

  6. Len January 13, 2010 at 23:14 #

    Wow sounds like a tough time of it! I’ve been in a smilar situation, trying to develop 10 man raiding in a casual, largely social guild. Not easy! Like has been said before communication is so important, for example being really clear about how you will rotate people if you have loads of interest. I’ve used guild forum posts to get feedback and introduce new schedules/policies, and try not to change them. Gives me a headache trying to remember who’s been given raid spots and turned up previously so I allocate fairly, maybe I should be more organised…

    Also, building up guild confidence and experience is very helpful which should really be done by working your way UP the raid teirs rather than aiming for the hardest stuff and failing. Even if it means some really casual fun runs in Naxx (aim for Undying or Dedicated Few to entice people). Really helps to build morale, and get to know each other as players in a raiding team not just friends. It’s one of the reasons I don’t pug. Some of our members do 25 mans with raiding coalitions/pugs if our schedule doesn’t fit, but our guild raids are exactly that with very few exceptions.

    We slack off and spend a lot of time joking around on vent rather than focusing on the bosses, but we’ve worked our way up the raids at a steady pace, it can happen!

  7. Echo January 29, 2010 at 16:47 #

    I’ve seen it from both sides. I played more casually in TBC and in WOTLK was part of a guild that formed with an old guild on our server (that had been big in vanilla and TBC but had died at the end of TBC). We were a new incarnation and although initially we were casual we’ve since gone a lot more hardcore. We’re not poopsocking by any measure but we’re making good progress.

    The trouble I found with casual guilds is the simple fact that because its casual people simply don’t put the effort in. People all being best of friends IRL complicates it further.

    As a Raid Leader you have to be a little omniscient. I think had your RL and GM been a little stronger and more discerning with who they invited they would have had an easier time. Of course I recognise in casual guilds this is often more drama causing than a failed raid.

    I reckon Nora has the right idea. If you join a Raid Collective at least its a group thats there to raid. Not just a group of people ready to jump on a purps bandwagon.

    If not and you feel up to it. Start a group yourself. Just 9 other people and you can invite them on the calender.

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