The February post: The state of Old Timers

27 02 2010

/tongueincheek title, but despite my laziness in posting, I will not let a whole month go by without posting.

I have 4 or 5 drafts saved that all have the common theme of team-play. Individual topics vary from committment to a guild, to the responsibilities and duties of a raid leader. But it struck me that they all centre around this idea that we work better when all the parts of the group are doing what they need to do. Progress halts (be it raid, guild atmosphere, or whatever) when links in the chain break. This will be a wall of text… I’ll start with a bit of guild background, personal ambition, problems and limitations, and finish with the way ahead. I don’t like the phrase ‘casual’. Sure, compared with ‘hardcore’ we don’t raid as frequently or as hard, but casual implies a less professional approach to being prepared. I’ve always wanted as a GM and RL for the group to be ‘prepared and repaired’; the same high expectations that I would have of a progression-focussed raiding group. I’ll continue to use the phrases though, as those with a brain know what we’re on about here… 🙂

GUILD BACKGROUND

Old Timers is a ‘casual’ Alliance raiding guild on EU-Ahn’Qiraj, a PvP server. The server itself is predominantly Horde, and has been since the guild’s inception 2 years and 9 months ago. It was a Medium population server back in 2007, but is now ‘Low’ as many Alliance have migrated to other servers to facilitate 25-man progression content. We didn’t start raiding until Karazhan in mid-2008, and that was a bumpy start to 10-man content. Eventually, we broke through it, and almost cleared it before the ‘big nerf’. We then went on to almost clear Zul’Aman too. Wrath hit, and we started to get our 80s rolling. The intention was to start Naxx-10 around January, clearing it by April 2009. We weren’t far off from that, dropping KT in early May. On the server, we were generally amongst the 40-55th guilds to clear said content (according to GuildOx). As a strict 10-man guild, which is all we have ever managed to build rosters for, we are currently in the top-10 on the server, and the 2nd Alliance guild. When the realm was much more active, we were generally 6th or 7th as an Alliance guild. This helps to show two things: 1) the server is dead as far as Alliance guilds go compared with Horde raiders, and 2) in strict 10-man content, we’re not bad. Our raiding population consists of two types of players; 80s who want a chance at raiding but won’t or can’t commit to 4+ nights per week, or those who have raided at an energetic level, and don’t want that pressure anymore or all the time.

Our ethos is self-reliance; we don’t hold hands, but we provide the tools and resources for people to be able to provide to the guild their skilled class, professions or, sometimes, their gold. Most of us go by real names rather than toons, reflecting the ‘family’ atmosphere we have. We are an equal-opportunities guild.

PERSONAL AMBITION

I take control of things. It’s in my nature, and it’s helped make Old Timers what it is today; a guild that has lasted a long time, is (generally) well-liked on the server, with a strong core of officers, a roster of great guildies, and someone that the average WoW player will ask to get their friends invited to.

I don’t like tools that fail. So rather than the in-game comms, we have a paid-for website and Vent server.

I don’t like absent resources. This is why my main is actually several mains. My hunter serves a role, as does my prot/holy paladin, arcane mage, elemental shaman… you get the picture. All of these are geared (to a greater or lesser degree) for ICC-10. It may be more of a DPS challenge for the shaman than the hunter, but it means I can offer flexibility on a raid. I choose the other 9, then see what’s needed.

Yeh, I choose the other 9. As well as being the de facto GM, I’m also the main Raid Leader. Scheduling, managing raid composition, ensuring raid consumables are available, researching tactics, understanding class abilities… again, anyone who’s ever led a raid, you know the score. No-one wants a boss kill, a wing clearance, or an instance achievement more than I do.

I’m an addict to WoW. In no small measure. Multiple accounts, playtime every day, I spend a lot of my free time invested in this game and invested in the people who play it. Consequently, I watch, listen and learn. I play my hunter damn well. I’m a pretty good paladin tank, and an adequate paladin healer. I know most of the classes very well, and have spent significant energies on managing my UI so that I can play these classes more effectively. Hell, I even run Decursive on my lock!

Here’s an admission that only a few in the guild are aware of. I want to see more content than my guild can offer. It’s always been this way, from our first raid, to ICC. My ambition is greater than Old Timers can supply.

PROBLEMS IN OLD TIMERS

This isn’t meant to be a diatribe of why x is shit, why y is full of fail, and why z won’t do anything about it. Firstly, I keep that frustration inside me… being shouted out won’t make anyone move out of the fire more quickly. It might help the shouter, but not the shoutee or their friends. Yep, I’m very much a social…

And yet again, I’m not. At least, sometimes I wish I wasn’t. I recognise the impact that being a bastard has on the person on the other end of the digital divide. ‘But you standing in the fire did just waste us 10 minutes of (for some people) precious playtime’. I’ve had necessary conversations with people about actions, specs, the like. But where I am a goblin* is in my own play. BM is a lovely warm blanket for me, but when it came to switch for higher DPS, I did it. And I’ll do it again now that my gear means Marksmanship will yield more.

And this is the problem. I want to see more. I am skilled enough to see more. I have had opportunities to see more. But I am an Old Timer. I need 9 more to kill Arthas and everyone before him. Unfortunately, Old Timers will never kill Arthas. Not in 2010 at least. Why? I’m glad you asked. I’ve prepared a nice list for you…:

  • We’re not good enough
  • We’re not committed enough
  • We’re not prepared enough
  • We’re not bothered enough

To any guildies reading this… I have a duty as GM and RL to highlight what’s wrong. But I also have a duty to myself to manage my frustrations so that they don’t begin to affect my health. ‘Onyxia trash wipes, really? Fire Bombs on Gormok, are you kidding? You didn’t see Lady Deathwhisper’s big green Death and Decay? Even though we just talked about it for the fourth time?’ Anyone who thinks I’m making a big deal out of how annoying these little things are when it’s only a game, try planning and leading raids twice a week, and running a guild that keeps everyone involved. Try managing everybody’s expectations, loot lists, processing whispers explaining why x is shit, why y is full of fail, and why z won’t do anything about it. Try doing all of this and more, whilst trying to enjoy the game that you pay to play, that you want to enjoy… and try still enjoying it, knowing that what you know you are capable of doing won’t matter one bit because some won’t ‘work’ as hard to play the game well.

(This has turned into more of a rant than I wanted, but I won’t change it… as someone who rarely externalises their emotions, some things need to be said and left said).

  • We’re not good enough: Ignore Gear Score, Recount, wow-heroes, all that. We haven’t cleared Ulduar-10. We have cleared ToC-10, but Faction Champs is still a struggle. We wipe on Onyxia… usually.
  • We’re not committed enough: For the last raid, 6 signed up on the day. 2 signed up in the two hours before raid invites. Despite the reasons for using the Calendar being highly publicised on the guild, sign-ups are very frequently late.
  • We’re not prepared enough: Every raid that involves several wipes, someone needs to repair before we’ve passed our 3rd or 4th wipe. Gear, potions, consumables, reagents, bandages… are they always as stocked as they should be?
  • We’re not bothered enough: Horde toon levelling, achievement chasing, mount grinding, alt levelling… Even I as a multiboxer can’t do all these things at the same time as raiding or prepare to give my best in a raid.

Okay, some of you will have read that, and will have a list in your head of why these things happen. Hey, I can defend late sign-ups (real-life comes first), needing to repair (was questing/farming/etc. as the invites came in), toon levelling (it’s your money after all). None of that is a problem for me. But, if the guild wants to progress through cutting edge content, these things all hold us back…

Old Timers is not an Icecrown Citadel raiding guild. I am an Icecrown Citadel raider. I am not alone within Old Timers.

THE WAY AHEAD

I might think I can, but I can’t speak for anyone else. I have two options… should I stay or should I go? Achieve my WoW raiding ambitions with another guild or on another server? Or stay with the countless friends and great memories I have, but struggling week to week inside raid instances. It’s easy to answer, and I’ve just answered by paying for the guild website for another year ;). But some things will have to change if I’m to reduce the hassles associated with raid leading. I was going to write a list, but found that it just became another whinge. Simply, I need to lower my expectations of a full Old Timers raiding group. Not of them as people as they’re a great bunch of people, many of whom I am proud to call friends. I need to assess the guild’s ‘wants’ with their ‘capabilities’ and provide advice or requests in order to improve our chances of progression. If this means stepping down a content level, then so be it. We’ll see how the guild receives this.

I’m sacrificing my personal goals in this game for the guild, but I won’t sacrifice my well-being…

*For more info on goblins and socials, google greedy goblin.