I was searching through my emails the other day for something from my raid leader. I never delete anything ever, so I spotted a really old one– it was entitled “Still need a prot paladin?” and dated 2/16/2011. Today is 2/16/2012. I was floored to realize that it’s been a year– a whole year! — exactly, since I first found my guild.
I can’t believe it’s been that long. A year is nothing compared to most people’s raid careers, and I have raided in general for a long longer than that, but it’s been a very happy year of raiding for me. It means a lot to me to realize that I have been with my guild for that long … and that I still like it just as much as the day that I joined.
A lot of people write and blog about their frustrations. I certainly do. But sometimes it’s more important to write about what you are actually happy with, and what you enjoy.
Well, I like raiding! I love it, and sometimes I feel like I’m the last of a dying breed. I have wanted to post for a long time about why — and I guess that starts with the story of how I found my guild.
I complain a lot. I sometimes feel like I’m one of those people who goes through life unhappy with everything. My twitter feed is full of complaint, I constantly and happily QQ about everything around me. I am sure I frustrate lots of the people I know with my inability to just plain be happy with whatever I am doing at the time. Raiding was like that for me, two years ago, when I was raiding with my casual raiding guild and just got too frustrated to stick around. I wanted to like it, but I just wasn’t happy. I resigned from the raiding core, and decided to search for something different.
After I had left, I got a little bit depressed about my inability to find satisfaction in this silly game. I figured it was a character flaw of mine– ye olde “It’s not you, it’s me.” A normal person playing World of Warcraft would be very happy to just hang out and joke around in raid. I took the game too seriously, or maybe I was mean and awful to other people around me, or I enjoyed calling people out for their mistakes or something. Maybe I got some kind of elitist pleasure out of telling people they were wrong. Because that is what hardcore raiders do, right? They enjoy yelling at the people around them, and troll anyone who is not gifted with the spare time to raid 5 nights a week for 5 hours a night. Oh, and the only difference was time, too. Hardcore raiders just spend a stupid amount of time on the game, they devote their whole life to it, and all they do is kill things a little bit faster and brag all the time to make lesser mortals feel bad.
I spent about six weeks not raiding in my old guild, just looking for a new home. I don’t think they missed me all that much, but I am pretty sure that they were very irritated with me leaving and talked about me quite a bit both behind my back & to my face. An officer in the guild told me flat out it was a shame I was leaving the most friendly guild ever to, basically, get screamed at by some nerd in the internet whenever I made the slightest mistake.
I was really afraid, deep down, that he was right. I wouldn’t be up for it. I would like to think of myself as a friendly person, and I’m also a female raider without a very thick skin… I imagined myself in some egotistical guild full of jerks who threw around racial epithets and made fun of each other meanly all the time. Was that what I wanted to do?
I wanted to raid more, so I went looking for a 4 night guild that was not too crazy, but was reasonably progressed and focused. There are very few guilds like that, and even fewer that were recruiting a tank at the time. It was not a brief search.
Then I found a guild that looked about right, in a post on Maintankadin looking for a prot paladin. The crazy thing was that they only raided 3 nights a week, and yet they were like 2 bosses ahead of the 4 night guilds I’d been looking at. Obviously this was Something Wicked. I was pretty afraid of whether or not the raid leader would be a jerk (see: previous comments about what I was told to expect). So I asked him if he would get on vent and talk to me, so I could try to figure out what it would be like to raid with the person who was of course going to yell and scream at me a lot every time I messed up. To my surprise, he didn’t sound much like a jerk at all.
He asked me something like, “How are you going to respond to criticism? You’re a tank and that means your mistakes are going to wipe the raid a lot– and I am going to tell you when you make one. So I have to know how you are going to handle it.” What was I supposed to say? I think I told him honestly that I had no idea, but that I really prefer to know about my mistakes and would try my best to fix them. I had a vague idea though, from talking to him, that he this guild didn’t sound like a place where people were jerks. It just sounded like a place where people really, really wanted to kill very hard bosses and to do so efficiently. So I put in an app, was accepted, and went to my first raid.
My first raid was a mess.
It was the most terrifying, stressful, and crazy night I have ever had in World of Warcraft.
It was H Conclave and I joined right in the middle of stressful mid-progression on that fight, and to make matters worse, we (as we later found out) used a very stupid strategy that put the least geared tank (me) in an almost unsurvivable position. I cannot tell you how very, very, very nervous I was and how very scary it was. Probably 90% of those wipes that night were due to my death.
I will try to communicate my massive culture shock by picking out and describing the biggest change.
Wipe recovery. Something Wicked wipe recovers very, very fast. This is something typical of hard mode raids, and it is something we specifically hear even from people who come from other hard mode raids to join us. Coming from a very casual, very social guild, this was more jarring than you could possibly imagine. There was no time, barely any time at all between attempts. I was paniced, I had to focus hard, for 4 straight hours. I have a very clear memory of flying from the graveyard back into the instance, desperately fiddling with recount trying to access my own death log while the question came out over vent (again): “So… what killed you?” and I knew I only had the length of the flight to figure it out. I remember sitting down to the feast and then rewriting power auras in exactly 10 seconds while I ate. And I also remember realizing that– even though I felt the need to make sure I was ready fast– it was better to hold up the pull to ask a question if I really needed to ask, and better to clarify than to wipe us due to my own confusion. Time management, of our limited time in raid, that was the biggest thing to learn upon joining.
So in the midst of all this crazy newness and change, while I died over and over and over to my first real hard mode encounter… How did I feel? I was pretty scared, and I didn’t have time to think of anything except how not to die. There was no time to think, just to focus and to figure out what was going wrong.
But I remember the moment when I realized I was in the right place, that this guild was pretty good, and it happened in that very first raid. One of the warlocks commented on something he noticed out of recount, about someone else’s mistake or death. It was not mean, it was just a piece of information he thought would be helpful. A serious, brief conversation ensued about what mistake was made and how to avoid it next time.
I was floored. Now this… this was new. Somehow this raid was capable of identifying and addressing mistakes without anyone getting super defensive or running off in tears or getting offended.
I mean, it was a pretty frustrating night, and people were definitely frustrated on vent, and I’m not saying we were all cheerful people (I am definitely not cheerful, I whine and complain allllllllllll the time). It was probably one of the more frustrating raids I’d ever had. But at the same time, I got the feeling that we were all frustrated together… and that we were all working hard to fix it. And I loved it. Even though I was dying over and over and over.
So I knew, in that very first crazy raid, where I probably died and wiped the raid 50 times myself, that I had found the perfect place for me.
(Of course, then I had to stress out for a month about whether they would like me and accept me, but somehow I faked them all into thinking I am a good enough player that they did, and here I am, a year later, a veteran and even a mainspec DPS.)
The Skill Gap
The devs often say there is a very wide skill gap between HM raiders and pug raiders, and that HM raiders don’t really “get” the difference. I think that is true, but I think the gap is not skill at all. It’s attitude.
I don’t think that HM raiders have some kind of magic better skill at pushing buttons than most raiders. In fact I am pretty sure we all start off in this game making the same number of mistakes.
I am absolutely sure that HM raiders have a completely different attitude though towards error correction. Most players hate wiping, and failure. We see it as a challenge to overcome, and a challenge that doesn’t wipe us a lot is really no challenge at all. Most players see errors as frustrating blots. We see an error as an opportunity to improve. The important thing is to raid in a guild where you don’t just trust your fellow raiders to get it right… you want to raid with a bunch of people that you still trust when they get something wrong. Because the whole point of wiping to a HM boss is to get things less and less wrong until eventually everyone reaches a level of not-mistake-ness that is good enough to kill the boss dead.
It makes us crazy. I totally admit that it is reasonable for the vast majority of people who play this game to dislike wiping a whole lot on a boss, when wiping frustrates everyone and forces them to look at all the different ways that everyone made mistakes. The point of a game is to have fun, not to die all the time and spend 4 hours figuring out which mistake this time wiped the raid. It is truly crazy to enjoy this. But I am happy to be crazy when the people who I am hanging out with are crazy like me.
And then it feels pretty damn good to kill that boss after all that work. And who knew? I didn’t have to spend 5 nights a week or hang out with people who yell at each other all the time to do it.
I Still Love Raiding – No Really, I Do
So I’m just going to throw this out there.
I still love raiding. I like raiding mostly because I raid in a hardmode guild, and I have for the last year, and I am quite happy to continue to raid for the forseeable future with them.
Sometimes I will be sitting there, after 3 hours of frustration on something stupid — like, not even progression, sometimes we will be sitting there wiping on some farm boss that we’ve killed several times before… so frustrating … and suddenly I will remember what it was like before I found my guild. Back before when I raided with people who were afraid to admit mistakes, or got massively defensive every time they did something wrong. Back when I used to stress out and worry whether mentioning a mistake would piss someone off, or make them really stress out and flip out, and worry about whether I sounded like an awful and mean person… Back when I didn’t trust that we would all get frustrated together, when we are being stupid, and make a concerted effort together to overcome our own mistakes and to kill bosses neatly and cleanly.
So I still love raiding. That is the point of this post.
And I will be honest, I don’t like all raiding. I love hard mode raiding in particular. I think it’s really fun to spend my 12 hours a week doing it, and I think it’s really fun, and I do in fact brag about our cool kills on twitter. (I also note when we are silly noobs too).
I guess I just wanted to write this post because most of the time, people write blog posts about when they are unhappy or frustrated with things, myself included. Well, this isn’t one of those posts. This is a post about how much I LIKE raiding. Raiding is cool and hard mode raiding is really cool, and I like it.
I have liked it for a year, and I see no reason to stop anytime soon.
(Even though Pandaclysm is coming… I still plan to raid!)