Thursday, May 6, 2021

Yeah, It Figures

Figures that Blizz would drop the news about BC Classic a couple of hours after a post.

So.....

June 1st eh? With a May 18th Pre-patch?

Not amused, I am. Naxxramas' Event went on longer than the two weeks' worth of pre-patch for TBC Classic.

Boosting services on the servers --the ones you pay for in WoW gold, not the ones that Blizz wants you to use-- will be brisk, especially if you want multiple Shamans (or Pallys on the Horde side) in raids fairly quickly.

I look at the two weeks as a push by Blizz to capitalize on their own monetary boosting services, but given that most of the toons in need of a boost won't be able to get one (Draenei and Blood Elves), why stick to two weeks?

Unless they asked the sweatiest of the sweaty guilds for advice on lead-in to release day, that is.

***

Oh, and I left my old guild today.

Within the past few days I noticed that a lot of my old guildies began logging in like clockwork, with TBC Classic on the horizon. To be fair, I was never on Az when they were, because I was either doing some leveling on alts or raiding/whatnot on Card, but when I logged into Az to do some farming, I noticed the last logged in times and went "hmmm....."

After a couple of days of this I began to get irritated. I'd been the only one to consistently login over the months, and I guess they figured they could pick up where they left off. It was at that moment that I realized that I'd moved on without them, and I really didn't need Retail Orphans any more. So I gave the GM role back to the original GM and /gquit.

Az is now a free agent again.

Will she join Valhalla? Nah. Not for now at any rate. She can remain independent, especially since she has been doing her own thing for so long. Besides, I'm going to be busy doing raid stuff, and Az will be an alt that I'll goof around with from time to time.


The Maiden Voyage of the Loot Master

I should have taken screenshots.

Really.

I'd never performed any raid lead functions before, and I mean the "real" raid lead functions, not merely organizing the Mage Int buffs. But last night during our regular Zul'Gurub pug run* I assumed the role of Loot Master for the first time.

Courtesy of my new gig being part of a raid lead team, I knew I was going to have to learn this job anyway, so I figured no time like the present. I'd already been growing more and more concerned about the burnout that the pug Raid Lead had been facing, and I wanted to take on a greater role in her raids to make her job easier.

So last night's ZG run was a great testcase as to whether a) I could handle this technically, and b) I could handle this without getting too much stress.

While I realized that I wasn't going to be as smooth as she does it --she's been doing it for months-- I have no idea how she juggles all the hats on these smaller raids.

***

We spent about a half an hour before the raid working out the settings for the LootReserve add-on, which is what we use for our raids with the Soft Reserve loot system**, and then based on a quirk of Classic I had to assume the Raid Lead position and then grant her Assist so she could perform all of her 'regular' tasks.

It actually wasn't that bad.

It helped that the raid was composed of a mix of guildies (still feels weird saying that) and regulars, and they were very encouraging throughout the raid. The two other Mages stepped up to help out with managing the Int Buffs and taking care of other small things I'm used to doing, so it freed me to focus on the Loot Master's job.

Which actually contributed to my death at least once. 

I was busy looking at the reserves and whatnot in the approach to the spider boss while we were killing those spider packs. Since my mind was on that, I kept spamming Arcane Explosion and not paying attention to my threat levels. Naturally, I pulled threat and died.

"A Card in her natural habitat: eating dirt" was how I described it in Mage chat.

"What happened?"

"Died due to skitterer packs."

"How?"

"Was busy looking at reserves, spamming AE, not paying attention."

"Yeah, that'll do it."

I died one or two more times, both of them directly related to me focusing on the Loot Master job, so I'm not terribly concerned. But given that I'm not exactly swimming in gold, that money spent on repairs did hurt.

***

Since I'll be taking this job going forward on the two 20 person raids, I'm sure I'll get better at this as time goes on. And I think I can do this when we get to BC and I graduate to the DKP tools we currently use in our progression raids. Of course, stakes about loot are a bit higher there, so hopefully I'll have this down enough to not cause any drama all by my lonesome.



*While technically it is a pug, this raid (as well as our Saturday BWL and Sunday AQ20 runs) has so many regulars from across several guilds that it's more of a semi-pug at this point. 

**If you're considering running Soft Reserve, the LootReserve Addon is AMAZING. For both raiders and the lead team. For raiders, you get a GUI that handles everything you wanted to do (so you don't overwhelm the Loot Master with requests to the point the LM's account is throttled by Blizz). For Loot Masters, you only have a half dozen settings to worry about without having to type out commands on the chat line. If it was all command line driven, it'd take forever.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Here, have some homework, but bring your hardhat

I received the ping over a week ago.

It was after a detailed yet really emotional discussion on the raid guild's Mage channel about Thaddius. Or, more specifically, the Mage team's lack of decent parsing on Thadd. While we consistently down Thadd, the Mage crew has had to lay off of pushing the pedal to the metal because we frequently get an Ignite that either comes close to or actually pulls threat*. If you map out our threat levels, one of us with Ignite's threat looks like we're on a sudden rocket ship to the stars (almost vertical). So, to combat that we frequently start by soaking the first Ignite, use a Rank 9 Fireball to start with, and then switch to Max Rank when things look stable.**

But all of that has an effect on our parsing which, to be fair, sucks. 

One of the crew was arguing about his need to fix his lack of parsing so much and in such a way that it set off alarm bells in my head. I can't describe it, but if you've been a parent for long enough you just learn to recognize where something takes a detour into dangerous emotional territory.

"Dude," I finally responded, "If you're thinking you suck, you don't. Trust me on this one. I don't want you to think you suck, because you kick ass." 

Things calmed down after that, but still it was a pretty raw discussion.

So with that in my mind, I received a ping from one of the raid guild's leadership later that day. "Cardwyn, do you have some time to talk?"

Uh-oh. 

First, she used my full name, Cardwyn, which I only hear in raid when the Raid Caller/Leader says something officially in raid or when the Loot Master says it when I win something. Second, with the rather generic "do you have a second to talk" following so shortly after the Thadd argument, I got that sinking feeling that I'd overstepped my bounds in the parsing discussion, and I guess she drew the short stick to talk to me about it. 

"Well," I said, "might as well get this over with." I responded and said I had time today or tomorrow, but now is fine too. I was alone in the house at the time, so no big deal.

After a couple of hours --and, of course, after my youngest and her boyfriend had dropped by and were up in her room-- she finally responded and I pulled on my headset to chat while I worked on dinner.

"So Card," she began, "You're aware that in BC we're going to have two 25-person raids, right?"***

"Right," I replied, realizing belatedly that Mage parsing was not on her mind.

"I'm going to be leading the Monday raid, along with [a couple of other people]. I'd like to know if you would like to join the raid leadership to be our fourth."

I blinked.

This I was not what I was expecting.

I mean, in the raid surveys that we'd filled out, I had checked a little box that said yes if I wanted to help out in some way. I'd conveniently ignored the entries for Raid Caller, Loot Master, and other official duties of raid leadership, because I figured I could help out by doing a few minor things here and there. After all, I'm not exactly the sweatiest person out on the raid team by a long shot.

Somewhere in the back of my head was a small voice saying "Just how few people offered to volunteer before they got to my name?"

But it was an offer, and I accepted it without hesitation.

We chatted for about 10-15 more minutes, and finished the call.

As I took off the headset I suddenly realized what I'd committed myself to doing: I was going to have to give up on my grand dream of taking my time and exploring Outland. (At least initially.)

And I was gonna have to get sweaty. No way around it.

"Well, crap."

***

Around the same time, with the latest patch came the ability to dethrone a GM if they'd been marked as inactive. Since my guild's GM has been inactive for months, it was kind of a no brainer that I took the opportunity to perform a coup and take over the guild. Sure, it's a guild of (essentially) me at this point, but hey, it's something. And I didn't even have to gather signatures or anything either. 

It had kind of irked me for a while that if the GM wasn't going to even make an effort to come back, he could have given me or someone else the GM job and then left, but oh well. I guess people figure that things will remain unchanging. I once asked him about some of the people who leveled in the guild an then split, and he kind of shrugged. It was his guild, I was informed, and he was fine if people didn't necessarily want to stick around or anything. I thought it weird to not have a vested interest in the people in your guild that you didn't necessarily know that well, but I rolled with it.

And now it wasn't his guild at all anymore.

***

It's kind of weird how my work instincts immediately kicked in when I began analyzing the documentation we already had. Usually I try to separate my work from home life, and in spite of me working from home for a couple of decades I do that fairly well. Unless, of course, something like this comes along and then my lizard brain says "Ooo... Data..." and then the work part of me wakes up. 

Naturally, the next thing I thought of was "I don't have enough info on raiding in TBC --or classes for that matter-- to help out." So I started reading up on raid compositions, goals, and whatnot.

 This sort of thing has been
my diet for the past week.


I quickly discovered that there was going to be a problem.

As part of the raid leadership team, I was guaranteed a spot in the raid. But a lot of the 25 person raid compositions in TBC had only one Mage in them. And with two raids, that meant 2 Mages total.

Our core group of Mages currently totaled four.

I knew that at least 3 of us were planning on playing a Mage in BC Classic, and if --as I assumed-- all four of us would, we'd be hard pressed to find space for all of them.

While I could theoretically switch to Az, the slots for Rogues in 25-person BC raids numbered somewhere between zero and one. And I knew that we had far more talented Rogues out there in the raid than me.

I cursed up a blue streak, realizing what that meant. Unless something happened, we were at risk to lose at least one of the Mages from not only the raid team, but potentially from the guild. And our Mage crew is pretty tight. If we all lived in the same city, we'd likely hang out together, go for beers**** and in general have a good time. We look out for each other and reach out when we think things aren't okay. It may be totally selfish, but I didn't want to lose that friendship.

So I decided to sacrifice Card.

"Listen, Card, it's just a figure of...
Tell you what, go finish farming Demonic
Runes and I'll explain it later."

 

***

I brooded over this decision for a couple of days, because I've grown quite fond of her. It's likely due to my writing attempts, because her fictional personality is a mesh of my two daughters, and I've connected to her in a way that I never did with my other toons.

But I've played a Ret Pally before, and I've played a Warlock before, and both were going to be needed in BC raids. I was fairly certain nobody was clamoring to play Ret --the only person I knew who did had to retire from the raid due to personal reasons-- so I could slip into that role fairly easily. And I already had Card's sister slated in my head for a Ret position, so I could do that.

If I was going to lead, I had to set an example and do what I could for the betterment of the team.

"My time has come!"
Hold yer horses there, kid....


I took my concerns to the Raid Leader, who told me that once the teams (and leadership) were announced there was going to be another survey to see who wanted to go where. So she said we have time, so just wait and see. 

Okay, I could do that.*****

***

A short time later the Raid Leader pinged me in Discord that we had an issue. Since a lot of the raid leader tools (WeakAuras and add-ons) are configured to be guild specific, my presence was going to cause problems. She cast out a feeler about whether there were any real issues about joining the guild. 

I kind of figured that this would happen --and I was surprised that the topic wasn't broached when I initially agreed to join the raid lead team-- so I'd already decided it was going to be okay. I laid out my checkered history with guilds, but I told her that since I'd made a commitment, I'll follow through on it and join. All I asked was that since I hate being the center of attention, can we please do it while hardly anybody is on.#

That went as well as you'd expect.

Oh, it worked out at first, because only a few people were on at the time, and half of them were guild leadership and so were aware of my decision. But once they changed my tags in Discord, well....

This was one of the more tame
memes; you get the idea.

Uh, yeah.

Of course, before all that happened, I wasn't about to give up my newly acquired GM role in my old guild. So I managed to finagle something and move Az into the GM role, freeing up Card to drop Retail Orphans and join Valhalla.

It all blew over after a day, thankfully, so by the time the Friday progression raid was set everybody had gotten the ribbing out of their system. 

But except for a few people in the two raid lead teams and guild leadership, nobody knew what was coming when the raid leadership teams were announced.

***

...and there has been drama. The curse lives.



*And guess who is often the owner of said Ignite. I watch those threat meters, sigh, and say "I'm gonna have to LIP, aren't I?"

**We're one of the few guilds on our server that have cleared Naxx and yet don't have a single Thunderfury on the raid team. Oh, we've tried for that second Binding off of Baron Geddon, for almost a year on a regular basis, and still we haven't gotten one to drop for either of our tanks who have a Garr Binding. If we had even one TF, the additional threat would be enough that we could just go to town on Thadd.

***This is by memory, so it may not be completely accurate. 

****And tequila. I see you, Raike.

*****We worked on an overview statement as well as a proposed raid composition this weekend, and the Raid Leader and I decided to mark me as "TBD", so that if things work out I can play on Card, but if not I'll fill one of the other slots.

#As I've alluded to in the past, I'm extremely shy in real life, but every day I get up and put on a (virtual) mask to get me through the day. When I first went to university, everybody had to take a day's worth of psychological tests. When I received my results back, they included an appointment with a university psychologist, because the psych staff was concerned about my ability to handle day to day life in college. When I finally met with the shrink, she took one look at me and said "You look fine; so why the results?" "I hide it well," I replied.


EtA: Replaced "raid teams" with "raid leadership teams".

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Moar Changes

 I, uh, now have a bit more of an incentive to get to L70 in BC than before. 

And unfortunately, until the official notice drops, I can't really share the reason why yet. I'd been holding on this post for a week now, and I was getting tired of holding it so I'm putting this placeholder out while I'm waiting.

But there was a price to be paid, at least from my perspective. I paid it willingly, but it did not change my personal opinions on anything. Probably the labels will give some of it away, I suppose.