Crazy Raid Tales: The Mysterious Monk

Not pictured: Zong

When you do a thing for a long enough amount of time, you start collecting stories about it. There’s a lot of odd people in the world after all, so you’re bound to run into one at some point. Today, I’m going to share one of my favorite crazy raid tales, one that to this day remains shrouded in mystery. Gather round, gather round and listen to my tale.

A long time ago in an expansion far, far away….

He was a monk tank. Recruited from trade chat, no other connection to the guild, quiet but seemed like a pretty nice guy. Our raid team was consistently attracting more than 30 bodies a night, which meant it was time for the Great Raid Split of Warlords of Draenor. The team that I was to raid lead was in need of a tank. In stepped the newcomer monk, Zong.

Zong obviously had another main guild on a different server and he mentioned as much. But that wasn’t so unusual in itself – many of our members still called a different guild home. No, this wasn’t what made Zong strange at all.

Nor was it his behavior at raid. With strong mitigation and a good grasp on his class, Zong made a fine tank. He was chipper in Mumble and seemed to a pretty nice, normal guy. The only thing you could maybe find against him was his habit of showing up exactly when raid was scheduled to start. But still, nothing out of the ordinary.

Then one day, I get a message from him.

“Hey Pants, just wanted to let you know I might be out the next coming weeks.”

“Oh ok, any particular reason?”

“Yeah, I’m going to be in court.”

Thinking nothing of it, I asked when he expected to return.

“Well, I could either be back in time for next raid night or you may not see me for a very long time.”

“How long is a very long time?”

“Months, years maybe.”

At this point, I was a touch nervous. Did I need to find a completely new tank? And what exactly was going on that would take him away from game for potentially years?

“Mind if I ask why you might be out for so long?”

“Well I can’t really access my laptop in jail.”

“Oh….kay?”

“Yeah so it just depends on how the trial does tomorrow.”

“Well, good luck!”

“Thanks!”

So our main tank was more than just a quiet nice guy, he was also in trouble with the law. Judging by the description of months or maybe years, this wasn’t something silly like parking in the handicapped space. Whatever he had done, it must have been bad enough to land him in jail for years. And yet, he’s been so chipper and open about it. Just who was Zong??

A few days later, I heard from Zong again in an in game mail.

“Hey Pants, just wanted to let you know that the trial went well and I will be able to raid with you guys! See you next raid night.”

I was… torn. On one side, yay! I don’t have to frantically find a new tank in time for the next raid. On the other side, was this really a good thing for society? Was Zong some sort of master criminal just released to break the law again? Who was Zong??

Unfortunately, I never got to answer that question. Zong joined us again for one more raid before suddenly and unexpectedly leaving the guild and cutting all communication. And being me, all I can imagine is that he is now out there, somewhere in the world, mixing martial arts and crime as some super-villan sort of figure. Or maybe he’s sitting somewhere behind bars, digging behind a poster with a pick.

Or maybe he just went back to his old guild.

All I know is he ain’t smashing kegs for us anymore.

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Farewell to my Heralds

The final group!

The final group!

Citizens of Dalaran! Raise your eyes to the skies and observe!  For the very last time in Warlords of Draenor, our world’s destruction has been averted in defiance of our very makers!

Algalon the Observer, herald of the titans, has been defeated by our brave comrades in the depths of the titan city of Ulduar for the eighth and final time.

Cold logic deemed eight runs too many. Cold logic, however, does not account for the power of guild dedication!. It’s up to each of us to prove this is a Feat of Strength worth obtaining! That our titles… our titles are worth earning.

Man, I couldn’t say goodbye to my Herald of the Titans runs without quoting dear ol’ Rhonin.  Don’t worry though, unlike Rhonin, I can keep the speech down to once through.  With the final group defeating Algalon on Wednesday, <oTQ> has officially ended our Herald of the Titans runs for this season.  And because of the upcoming changes to set bonuses in older expansions, the Wednesday run may have been our last run… forever.

Herald of the Titans has been my pet project for almost two years now.  I’ve leveled up three different characters, cleared Naxxramus for gear more times than I care to count, and helped get over 50 people their Herald of the Titans title.  It’s been a long, sometimes frustrating, but overall, incredibly rewarding journey. And I have to admit, a part of me will always love the Algalon encounter.  Except the Cosmic Smash.  Screw the Cosmic Smash.  But every other part has a special place in my heart.

Herald of the Titans was really my first experience organizing and executing a large scale group activity.  At first it was just guildies but in time, it grew to include other friends, acquaintances, and eventually random people who’d heard of the runs.  I quickly found the best ways to get key details out to people (bold, change the color, and jack up that font size) as well as the importance of keeping my master posts up to date.

I also learned how to deal with failure.  Our first couple of runs actually ended in wipes for 3 hours, something that I had definitely not expected or planned for going in.  There are ways to keep morale up and ways to encourage improvement and those first couple of runs were an awesome teaching experience.

And finally, I got to meet and interact with all sorts of people.  Good friends who I got closer to. Guildies who I didn’t know as well before the runs and became friends with after.  People who joined our guild because of Heralds.  Twitter folks who I’d never gotten to play in game with before. And all the random folks who stumbled across the page after googling ‘Herald of the Titans runs’ (we were one of the top hits!).

It’s been a fantastic two years.  However, like all things, this chapter is coming to a close.  To all of those helped supply the runs, to those who kept coming on the runs to help me fill the occasional open space, and to those who got their titles through the runs, thank you.  Thank you for coming along for the ride, for gearing up your characters, for maxing out those gems and enchants, and for watching out for the Cosmic Smashes.  And congratulations, Herald of the Titans!

 

(Editors note: Because Yotaan and Fussypants are going on vacation, there will be no blog post next week.  We will be back at it the following week however, just in time for the alleged prepatch drop!)

Apparently, I’m a Raid Leader

ArchiHello my name is Fussypants and apparently I’ve been a raid leader for several months now.

Well ok, I wasn’t completely in the dark about this.  Actually, I knew exactly what was going on when I stepped up and offered to lead one of my guild’s raid teams.  But it just boggles my mind that I’ve been doing it for several months now.  Like whaaaaa?  Are we sure this isn’t just a hallucination?

Ok ok, let me explain how this all happened.

So as many of my readers know, I am one of the core officers in a rather large guild.  Well, I guess rather large guilds because we actually have two of them now.  Long story short, we’ve grown explosively over the course of the expansion and are now sitting at somewhere around 1200 characters? Hence the two guilds.

I also have talked a lot about raiding and as you can probably guess, I do that through my guild.  With a guild of over 1000+ folks, we kind of ended up with a rather large raid team.  It started off innocently enough, about 20 or so people who logged on twice a week every week.  But as the expansion wore on and the doldrums began, the opposite of what was expected happened.  Instead of our raid team shrinking, it actually grew.  We went from 20 of us to 25 of us to 30 of us until finally there were more people wanting to raid than there were spots in a raid group.

We had to do something fast.  The absolute worst thing in the world (at least in my opinion) is to have to sit folks, so we needed to find another solution.  And after much, much deliberating, it was decided that two raid teams was the way to go.

A raid leader for each team was decided upon but before we could even pull the first boss in our respective teams, one of the raid leaders decided that he didn’t want to commit to that level of responsibility.  And suddenly, we were left with a team without a leader.

Like I’ve mentioned before, my absolute worst fear was that we would have to sit some of our raiders.  And now with one raid leader gone before the ink was even dry on the page, there was a legitimate risk of this happening to one of the teams.  I couldn’t stand by and watch that happen to a group of people I knew had worked so hard to be where they were at.  So I volunteered.

Now, I had raid lead some pug raids before, explained a couple of mechanics, organized some healer rotations, the like, but never had I done anything quite to this level.  As I was about to find out, there was a whole lot more to raid leading than just telling the DPS to get out of the fire.

Xhul
THE FIRST LESSON OF RAID LEADING: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
I’ve always tried to maintain a positive and friendly attitude while online.  It just seems like the right thing to do- so many people use the internet as their escape from real life drudgery so who am I to bring negativity into their happy place?  But I will admit, this even tested me.

Wipe or kill, I found that I needed to remain positive and cheery the entire raid night.  If something was going well, fantastic!  Congratulate the group and particularly anyone who went above and beyond.  If stuff isn’t going quite so well, don’t get discouraged.  We all know something is going wrong, no need to harp on it.  A simple “what did we do wrong that time and how can we fix it?” goes so much farther than a “why are we so bad?”.

But with attitude, I found I also needed to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to cheer everyone up every raid.  Sometimes a night of wiping is going to get people down and there’s nothing you can do.  But this shouldn’t stop the raid leader from being positive, encouraging, and above all, focused on improvement.

THE SECOND LESSON OF RAID LEADING: YOU GOTTA KNOW YOUR STUFF OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES
I thought that I knew mechanics when I stepped up and offered to raid lead that first time.  Boy, was I wrong.  You see, it’s not good enough to just know one aspect of the fight. I can’t just know how to heal Kilrogg, I need to know every single part of the fight.  The Heartseeker mechanic.  The interrupts.  The adds.  The visions groups.

I’ve probably spent the better part of 20 hours just reading up and practicing mechanics so I could better lead my group.  I watched videos, read strats, combed logs, you name it I did it.  And in the end, it all paid off.  I can lead a Heroic Hellfire Citadel Raid in my sleep, I know the mechanics so well (not saying I would do this though).

There are some mechanics however that I do not know all the intricacies of.  For example, I know that the tanks need to taunt off for Zakuun when one tank gets Soul Sliced but as to what happens inside that spirit world, I haven’t a clue.  I can’t possibly know every minute detail.  As a raid leader, I learned all the mechanics but I leave it up to my raiders to find the tips and tricks of their class best suited for handling the mechanics.

When there is someone in the raid who has a better strat or understanding of a specific mechanic, I let them take point on it.  Heroic raiders have to use every advantage they get; I would be silly to turn away helpful advice.  Raid leaders lead, not micromanage.  I have a responsibility to know the fight as a whole but if someone knows a specific part in better detail, then I am going to let them take charge of that specific item.

Mammoth
THE THIRD LESSON OF RAID LEADING: YOU NEED A SECOND IN COMMAND
There’s a reason ships have First Mates- the Captain doesn’t always catch everything.  This is the same for raid leading, I don’t always remember to call every mechanics or to change the loot before raid.  And sometimes, I can’t even make it to raid on time or at all.

I am so very lucky to have a responsible and observant second in my fellow blogger Bodhirana.  If I miss something or can’t do something, I know I can count on him to catch what I miss.  I trust him completely to lead raids when I cannot attend.  And I can bounce ideas off of him when changes need to be made.

Fast forward a few months and a few raid team shuffles and here I am, still raid leading, still in one piece. It’s been an incredible journey- from Heroic Assault all the way to Heroic Archimonde but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I’ve learned so much about raiding, about leadership, about the people on my raid team that I don’t think I could have ever learned otherwise.  I’ve been trialed and tested, but in the end, every single one of us got our mooses and every single one of us can call ourselves ‘Heroic Raiders’.

So there you have it! How I accidentally on purpose became a raid leader!  I guess I can add this to my growing list of ‘Stuff I Never Thought I’d Do But I Ended Up Doing Anyway’.

Until next time, stay out of the fire!

Satire: How to Raid Lead Pugs

WoWScrnShot_070815_221517(Warning: Heavy Satire)
So you wanna be one of those hot shot raid leaders.  You wanna make the calls and decide who comes, but you’ve already been kicked out of your guild raid team.  Where can you go to lead? Luckily for you, Blizzard has implemented the Group Finder function where anyone can create groups for anything.  Which means you can finally live your dream of being the master of a raid group! But before you begin, here are 10 tips to keep in mine while leading pug raids.

1)  Knowledge of the fights is completely arbitrary
When leading a raid, you absolutely do not need to know what the fights are like.  You are already putting this group together, do you have to hand hold them through mechanics as well? The tanks should be explaining the fights, and if they don’t they are bad and deserve to be kicked.  Don’t waste your precious leader time explaining, just get pulling!

2) Your ilvl requirement must be high or you will fail
A good rule to go by is the ilvl of the gear dropped in the raid +20 points.  So for Normal Highmaul, look for people ilvl 675 or above.  The people in your pug must be at least that high, otherwise you will wipe endlessly. However, your own ilvl is inconsequential.  These folks should be carrying you anyway, that’s their job as puggers!

3) Failure should be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly
If anyone messes up any mechanic or accidentally pulls anything at all, they should be immediately kicked.  How are you to know that they won’t make that mistake again? In order to keep a successful group, failure must be eradicated.

4) Always have an excuse ready if you are the one who fails
A weak leader who makes mistakes loses the respect of the rest of the pug.  If you happen to make any mistakes, be sure to blame it on lag, a cat on your keyboard, or someone elses’s mistake (best option).  Owning up to a mistake will only cause chaos as the puggers will no longer believe in your skillz and will begin to jump ship.

5) Foster a ‘No Questions’ environment
The best pugs are the ones where no one asks any silly questions about fight mechanics.  If someone does happen to ask a question about a fight, they obviously aren’t good enough to be in your pug and must be kicked.

6) Play the Blame Game well
When something does go wrong, be quick with who you blame.  The best options are those who are under-performing or anyone who has expressed dislike in the way you run your pugs.  These people are obviously trying to bring you down and should be shamed and then kicked.

7) Be vague about loot system
Make sure to never directly answer which loot system you will be using.  If you settle on one system, people are bound to drop group right away because most puggers are pansies.  That being said, Master Loot is the best system since it allows you to pocket all the boss drops and BoEs that are rightfully yours.  If someone has a problem with this, they are just greedy and jealous of you and also deserve a kick.

8) Deal with AFKs promptly
If anyone happens to say something along the lines of ‘afk, brb, or one second’ they are just preparing to troll your group.  They will stay away from their keyboard for hours until everyone in the group has dropped while waiting for them.  Such players need to be kicked as soon as they mention how they are stepping away.  You can’t let such people undermine your group!
However, if a person has been on auto-follow or offline for a while, don’t kick them just yet.  Wait a good fifteen- twenty minutes before kicking because they have a high chance of coming back any second now.  These players are the good eggs, they aren’t trolling you with their ‘I’ll be right back, just give me a second!’ garbage.

9) When attempting any last bosses, require the Ahead of the Curve achievement
How else are you supposed to know if these people know the fight? It’s imperative that you require AotC for Imperator, Blackhand, and Archimonde if you are going to down them.  The more AotC’s the better in fact.  An AotC is basically an instant invite for anyone, regardless of ilvl.  If the person has downed these bosses before, they know the fights like no one else but Blizzard itself.

10) Remember that you are the one who matters here
You are the one who set this raid up which automatically makes you the most important person in this raid.  Make sure that all the raid does benefits you.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to remind the other puggers who is the real reason for why they are all there.  Your leadership is extraordinary and they are all lucky to be in your pug.  Ignore complaints and kick dissenters and you will find glory!

Follow these 10 tips and you are assured success! Now go get ’em!

(Disclaimer: Yeah, please don’t do this folks.  For actual pugging leading advice, I would check out this article on Blizzard Watch)