Guest Post: Elnore

A few months back I made a post in the BA shared topic regarding the distribution of Fragment of Val’anyr without our raid.  In that post I laid out the basic decision path we were planning on taking, and after a vote of the healers Elnore, our healing lead was unanimously chosen.  Being a very good writer herself, I told her that I thought it would be cool if she did a guest post outlining how she felt about being chosen for the honor of our first legendary weapon.  This afternoon I received the results of this prompting.  I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did.

On Why I Raid, Leadership, and Val’anyr

As a raid, we very nearly have what I think of as the absolute perfect progression speed—just finishing up the Big Bad of the last expansion as the next thing comes out.  We have yet to farm any Big Bads.  I maybe wish we were a tiny bit faster, since we sometimes miss a boss or a hard mode here or there, but two nights a week is what our real lives can give up to raiding, so two nights it is.  I find that I’m content visiting the things we miss later, as an overlevelled tourist; for instance, since we formed quite late in BC, we never got to Black Temple or Sunwell, but we just spent a very entertaining, somewhat ad-libbed Sunday evening doing just that.  And who of the envelope-pushing raid groups of BC could say “I solo-healed most of BT?”

What I am saying, I suppose, is that what I raid for is not progression or best-in-slots.  I care about gear only to the point of staying above the threshold where I remain useful.  I just want a challenge, be it new content, needing to try a crazy strategy to account for a class mechanic we’re short on, or seeing just how far you can get with how few people in an old instance.  I just want teammates I trust to take on that challenge with me.  Bonus points if our defeat of that challenge is rewarded by an awesome cinematic.

When I was approached to help form Duranub, I agreed not because I was sure I could do a good job—I was frankly terrified that I wouldn’t, since my previous leadership experience was exactly two raid nights as healing officer during my previous raid’s death throes and an essentially responsibility-free officership in my guild—but because I knew that the other officers and I would make a good team.

And for the most part we do, and so do the elders (the next rank down) and so do the raid members.  But when I learned that Ulduar would have a legendary healing mace, the raid was having a tough time.  The summer was coming, most officers and several other pivotal members were either dealing with important real life things or having real life explode in their faces, and attendance and attention levels were slipping to the point that we tended to wipe to dumb mistakes and low DPS levels.  I questioned whether we would ever kill Yogg-Saron, let alone do it well enough to allow for throwing a bunch of shards in his mouth. I questioned whether I even wanted to play the game long enough to see it.

But because our first shard could fall at any time, we talked about it anyway, and decided all the shards would go to one person, and that the healers would vote on who that would be.  And perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised when it was me, unanimous except for my own vote.  I was burning out, I felt like I had been failing for a long time, and a large part of me wanted to see it go to anyone else.  There were definitely others who were drooling over it more.  But I have to admit that in the five years I’ve been playing, nothing has ever felt quite like the moment the officer who’d tallied the votes announced my name, and the raid channel, the healer channel, and my tell window all flooded with gratses.  I got all misty-eyed and wordless, and I feel a bit like that again each time another shard drops.  Which probably doesn’t sound much like the Elnore my fellow raiders know, but there you go.

That was several months ago now, and there are still off nights, and disagreements, and the occasional ugly thing said when it shouldn’t be.  There are nights I dread logging in because I’m worried we will be short healing and that I’ll spend the whole night feeling both responsible and unbearably helpless to fix it.  Leading can strain friendships, and I still fantasize about quitting sometimes, about being in some other raid where all I’d have to do is show up and spam my assignment.  I am looking forward to a vacation in August, where I will be unable to log in for a whole week.  That Tuesday will be the first raid I have missed since before Wrath was released and only my second in Duranub history, I am pretty sure.  I suppose it is overdue.

But there is no question of whether I’ll come back.  The thing is, for all that being a raid officer is much more stressful than being a raider was, it is also more rewarding. You get to see that for all the frustration, there are also people who offer to play even though they’re sick, who amaze me with what they can do with their character, who know just when to cheerlead or crack a joke, or who go out of their way to craft an epic or two for the new undergeared mage, There are nights when the Steelbreaker tank is learning and the Molgeim tank dies and the Brundir tank disconnects and we only have one battle rez, but we pull off the kill anyway.  Because my raid is awesome.  (See above, where I play for the challenge and the meeting of it as a team, heh.)

Tuesday night, a shard dropped off of XT, and we had the standard ceremonial just-for-me auction. (We use a version of WebDKP, and I pay per shard.)  It brought me up to six, six shards that aren’t really a weapon to me, or even necessarily a future weapon, though I am much more confident that we will get that far than I used to be.  Those six shards are my continued responsibility, a weight and a humbling and an honor, the hard work and trust of my raid.

And my raid is awesome.