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?"


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".


  1. Congratulations. :) You'll do fine as you're old enough to understand where most of the manager / leadership pain points can be. The main thing is to remember to have your fun, too. One of my mistakes (of many when I was trying to raid lead :sigh:) was to get so focused on the raid I forgot to enjoy the actual raiding.

    1. Thanks!

      And yeah, there are plenty of pitfalls out there. I have to learn to trust my instincts more concerning raids, but to do that I need to get more experience actually running them.

  2. Congratulations! You've got one exciting Azerothian life. I hope you have fun but noooooooo, Card! Maye she is longing for a simpler life though or wants to take a break!

    I think I was in fourth grade when they wanted to hold me back a year. My mother was furious and made them test me. Turns out I was more than fine but I didn't want to speak with, gulp, other humans so I know what you mean.


    1. Yeah, the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times certainly came true.

      I fully intend to get Card (eventually) to L70, but it may be that she's not going to get there first.

    2. And I absolutely know what you mean about not wanting to speak. That really kicked in for me after about 6th grade or so, when the bullying really kicked in. A friend of mine had it so bad that his parents were ready to yank him out of the parochial school I was in, when it was plain that the principal didn't give a crap. Then she was replaced with another nun who put a stop to it pronto. The only problem was that the people that frequently did the bullying were the ones who were the "good" athletes, so they frequently got off with slaps on the wrist. I learned early how athletes were coddled.

  3. Hey Red;

    I mentioned the 8 Years in Azeroth blog before, and your comments regarding the splitting of teams going into BC really struck a bell. When BC dropped, the realization that the Tier 4 gear was split into 10 -and- 25 man raids slipped by some guilds, creating some drama that would come back to bite people in the ass. The blog entry below and the next one or two afterward are a good read to see that upcoming shit show way before it happens for you:


    1. Thanks, Bill! Thankfully I'm just on the lead team, not the leader herself. But still, I think I'm gonna need this, because some arguments have already started.

    2. Glad to help, Red. Here's the other thing that I remember vividly from BC raiding. The attunement churn. You'd be cruising along, getting your raid team all set up, runnning the 5-mans, heroics, early raids, etc. Then, your Main Tank or 2 Healers or a DPS that you count on for those linchpin encounters leaves raiding (goes to another guild, life schedule change, computer breakdown, the list goes on and on).
      Now you're trying to find a replacement, which can be tough enough... but that person may not be attuned to the raids. So, you crank up the machine into overdrive and get them caught up.
      Then it happens again. And again. Life changes, unfortunately the attunement system doesn't.
      In Vanilla, sure, you had to get someone into BRD for MC and UBRS for BWL but you could do that fairly quickly. BC brought those huge interlocking chains. Remember the attunement flowchart? A maze of interconnected goofiness that really, to understand, you just...had to be there.
      Not sure of the answer, however, you can recruit like crazy, but anyone not happy with sitting as an alternate will send you right back to recruiting. My guild solved it by relying on having key players have attuned alts, it just fell into the 'bring the player, not the toon' type of thing. The churn of bigger guilds, I can't even imagine the headaches.


    3. One of the things we're planning on doing is that as soon as people can get into Kara, they're going into Kara. Optimal raid designs be damned, because people will be coming online at various times.

  4. It's really only in Sunwell that raids reduced Mage numbers down to one, and that's because of the strength of the Warlock class in that tier. If you run light on mages early on in the expansion you'll have difficulty getting 4 teams through Opera Event and Netherspite in Karazhan.

    Granted all of this is just from my memory, but I raided as a mage all of BC.

    1. Currently we're planning on 2-3 for Phase 1 (Mag/Gruul) but we'll see how things shape up. Crisis has been averted for now.

  5. Holy promotion, Batman!
    How exciting and terrifying at the same time! Good luck to you and your guild with the upcoming transitions -- and to Card's little sis with her leveling.

    1. Yeah, I'm gonna have to get move on with that leveling. Of course, there is that one time boost to L58....

    2. Oh, and please check your email.

  6. Haha, Red's getting sweaty! Congratulations, but also don't let the obligations drive you crazy! Talking about sacrificing your mage for some hypothetical perfect raid comp from YouTube already sounds pretty bad... don't do it!