The agony and the ecstasy

Hi all

Time for another post.

This time I want to touch on the subject of excessive emotivity and its effect on raid teams.

Now, it’s quite common that the most stressful times in a raid team’s experience are late on in a tier when you’re closing in on the final two or three bosses and you’ve already spent months farming and wiping on progress alternately as you fight not only the encounter bosses, but the hardest boss of all, the burnout boss.

There is a well known saying in English that “familiarity breeds contempt” and this is never more true than in the context of raiding where over time the contempt we have for the encounters, player failings (both ours and those of others) and yes even the very people we raid with can only increase as we spend more and more time together.

Those of you who have known me for any length of time will know that one of my most common mantras is my claim to making a point of not ‘liking’ the people I raid with.  That’s not to say I dislike you all, but rather that I try to set aside questions of likability, similarity and ‘simpatia’ as we call it in Italian, to instead focus purely on less subjective criteria such as the less character specific but more raid relevant qualities each player has and build a team for a tier, a raid and even an encounter around these parameters rather than whether I think you’re a nice person or not.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have people I personally ‘click’ with better than others, that’s purely natural, we all do, I just try not to let it affect my judgement on issues that have nothing really to do with it and therefore still value people I have less in common with or wouldn’t personally be friends with as long as they are on balance, positive elements for the raid team.

Over time however, when you add the stress caused by a long campaign to the attrition and turnover of raid team members and thankfully rare but still inevitable instances of disagreement or argument the question of how much you ‘identify’ with someone does inevitably influence how long or short your fuse is in any given situation.  The proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

So, late-tier raiding carries more aggro and clashes of opinions and these often escalate due to the frame of mind we’re already in and how often we’ve had this particular discussion before.

This can come from many sources; a player complaining about being benched, someone complaining about a loot decision or policy, someone deflecting responsibility when they are dying too often to the same mechanic or someone being ‘toxic’ or provocative in how they comment in chat.  It doesn’t matter what the trigger is, the fire is always fuelled by the underlying history and state of stress or frustration we’re individually in.

It’s also important to recognise that this stress level is always exponentially higher and patience much lower when you are dealing with these issues regularly one on one with numerous people on the guild in the way that say a Raid Leader or Guild Master have to when compared with a person with a more subjective view of issues who is not having to do so.

Basically, if you poke a bear, you might well get more than you bargained for or indeed, deserve and their reaction will be as much about them and what else is going on in that moment as it is about you or their relationship with you.

Now, I’m not making excuses for anyone here, we all overstep the mark sometimes, say more than we wanted to say or say it in a way a calmer us would not have said, but in this post of cliche’s, it “takes two to tango” so often, more thought could have been given on both sides to the words chosen or whether this was the right issue to push at this time.

I know to my own cost that saying what you feel all the time isn’t perhaps the best way to influence others these days, so over the years as I have gotten older and my raid team as gotten younger, I’ve had to reign in my natural 80s and 90s style of macho leadership and say less and less.  Indeed, since last year I have handed the actual speaking over to someone else so I don’t traumatise the impressionable youth of today by treating them to my less agreeable side. 

Obviously, as they also say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” so Rag is also prematurely ageing, his patience getting shorter and vocabulary getting stronger without perhaps the tempering of age pushing him to apologise later.

I get that some of you who aren’t perhaps familiar with the very up-front way that Italians tend to express themselves in social settings may find these displays (his or mine) over-the-top, but OTT is basically our national trait, quick to anger, quicker to forgive.  Shoot first, apologise later.

So, what’s the point of this ramble? well I guess it’s really to try and get us to reflect on what we say and do when we’re in the ‘red zone’ of a raid tier or on a particularly trying week or weekend as it will have exaggerated consequences.

What you say, how and when you choose to express it are all factors in what adds to or defuses already tense situations and deflects us from the goal of clearing the raid before the tier ends.

When you choose to push an issue you may not always deserve the reaction you get, but if you poke a known sore spot, you can’t say you didn’t know what you were doing.

In conclusion I’d like to leave everyone with the thought that raiding Mythic difficulty is not the easiest or most natural route for a guild like Weekend Warriors.  It’s  where we ended up because part of our membership took us there when we ran out of other content to do and Rag and I have stubbornly kept it going even when all those people changed, five or six times over.

The social and casual core of the guild is currently significantly larger than the progress raiding team and is overall probably more active than the progress team members are late in an expansion, certainly when it comes to guild events outside the progress raids which is where the 80-100 people who aren’t in the progress raid team find their only outlets.

It’s only natural in such a scenario that a certain amount of disconnect occurs between players and officers from the progress team and socially active players and officers, especially when the workload is carried in a disproportionate manner by one or two people who are involved in both sides of the guild and who can see the bigger picture others can more easily ignore.

It’s easy for people on either side of this divide to consider the other side closer or further away from the ideal of what WW means to them, but in reality it’s a mistake as whether you’re progress, flex, purely social or a mixture of all three, then the guild you belong to should dictate your approach to what is a whole, not just the bit you are interested in.

I’m not sure how long each of us can continue to dedicate the time and will-power required to be semi-core Mythic raiders as that time is different for all of us, but one thing is sure, sooner or later attrition will claim us all for one reason or another.

Let’s not hasten it on its way then with drama, attitude and circular discussions as these are all just manifestations of our own inability to accept the trade-offs required to do something so time consuming and fleetingly rewarding for as long as many of us have been doing it.

So when frustration bites, spare an extra thought for those who have been doing it here for years, (in my case a decade) and how this doesn’t exactly lend itself to finding joy in seeing the same old problems and arguments crop up time and time again from the same or even different people.

For what’s left of 8.2.5, let’s  just focus on doing our part and killing bosses and not on feeding the inevitable fires we encounter along the way and who knows we might end up killing them all once again.

Thanks for reading.

Founder and Warlord of Weekend Warriors.
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