I have a pretty bad habit of wanting to spawn a feature on my blog and then having it die after a few posts. Anyone remember Steampowered Sundays for example? That one I still want to get back to eventually, but with the whole editing and posting of aggrochat often times spilling over into Sunday morning I simply ran out of available time there. All of this said the other day I was working on providing some information for Sypster on a feature he is working on. It got me thinking how many tall tales from the mmoverse I have in me. There are many stories that at the time were frustrating but become more humorous through the lens of nostalgia. I think we as gamers all have thousands of such tales in us, and with this new feature my goal is to try and devote some time to committing these to paper. Nostalgia is a powerful force, but one that is fun to wallow in every now and then.
The Bunny Incident
Wrath of the Lich King was both an amazing and an extremely frustrating expansion for my raid. We had some of our greatest moments, but also some of our most frustrating experiences. All of which lead me to be a very grumpy person a good deal of the time. Most of you know me as the generally positive person that I portray on my blog and through social media. This is all an act, or at least it was when I first embarked upon the journey. By nature I can be pretty cynical and pessimistic, and it is a sheer act of will that I fight this every day striving to find the silver lining in every cloud. I spent a good deal of time “faking it until I made it” as it were, and for the most part it worked. It helped to pull me out of one of the greatest funks in my life. Today I am going to uncork the events of what lives in infamy within the guild has come to call “the bunny incident”.
When Wrath launched we hit it by storm and our twenty five man completely wrecked Naxxramas 2.0. We thought we were awesome… but the problem was that the content was way easier than we were used to. As such our raid got soft and too used to being able to walk into the zone and destroy everything around us. So when Ulduar launched… it was like a harsh reality check. Everything about the raid was infinitely harder, and required every single player to pay attention and perform to the best of their ability. This was not helped by the fact that during this time we had a lot of politics in the decisions behind our raid composition. We had a number of situations where we had one extremely highly performing raid member, tied to a piece of dead weight… that we were forced to drag along with us in order to get the high performing member.
The Bad Times
Additionally during Ulduar we went through a revolving door of tanks, making it a constant struggle to try and teach a third tank that was drastically undergeared how to survive the completely silly amount of damage that the encounters in Ulduar were heaping upon us. None of this made for particularly happy times for me. When the going got tough… people started flaking out and simply not attending. There were many nights that people would be available for the farmed content, but when it came to a progression night full of wipes we were barely able to scrape together twenty five people. It seemed like every step forward, caused us to take a giant leap backwards. We spent a lot of time during this period wiping to content we had already had on farm because we lacked the resources to really keep going.
We did what any raid would do… and went into overdrive trying to recruit solid people to bolster our waning numbers. With this came a clash of cultures, because quite honestly we were a much more forgiving raid than most. This caused some of our new recruits to not really take things as seriously as they should. At times it felt like trying to teach a kindergarten classroom how to file their yearly tax returns… but we mostly struggled through at the cost of my own sanity. We had stabilized and were pushing forward, and one night we were making some very serious progress on Kologarn. In fact I would say the mood in the raid was pretty jolly as folks were finally starting to get how they needed to move, and when we needed to break people out of the hands. I felt pretty confident that we would be able to beat the boss that night.
I believe it was Thalen that had just finished delivering some advise to tweak things up a bit… and I in my normal antsy fashion was pacing back and forth asking if I could pull yet. I tend to get super impatient before a pull, because I pump myself up for the fight and get the adrenaline coursing… and then have to do something with the nervous energy until go time. I had just started running in when it happened. On of our players decided it would be funny to use the the Blossoming Branch on me as I ran in, turning me into a bunny. The problem is while in bunny form you can take no actions, and I could not click it off in time before Kologarn destroyed me, and subsequently wiped the raid. Looking back upon it now… it is kind of funny, but at the time I was not amused at all.
I don’t really know what I said exactly, in some way I almost blacked out during the event. All I do know is that I apparently proceeded to curse and rant on voice chat for a good ten minutes about what just happened unleashing all of the pent up frustrations I had about the raid group, the lack of effort some individuals were putting into it, and wrapping it all up in a neat rage fueled bow. I do remember saying that I would be going through the logs line by line after the raid to find out who it was that did it, and they would no longer be welcome in our raid from that point on. I think I went on to say that I would go so far as to tell the other raid leaders about the incident, because at that time in our servers history… pretty much all of the raid leaders knew each other and talked regularly. When you got blacklisted by one, you often times got blacklisted by all of them.
The Coming Down
While the guy who did it did not fess up during the heat of the moment… he did come to me later and apologize. He went so far as to mail every person in the raid some gold for the repair bill he caused. He truly felt sorry for doing it, and we didn’t end up kicking him from the raid, or anything severe. Basically this was the moment I realized that I needed to change something, because I was feeling entirely too much stress and frustration over a game. I apparently scarred some of the raid members for life, and for the rest of that expansion it was like they were gunshy that “Angry Bel” would come out again. It is still talked about in our guild, as a sort of cautionary tale… like “Don’t make Bel mad, you won’t like him when he’s angry” sort of thing. Its all in good fun now, but I know at the time I quite literally scared some of our members.
I tried really hard to take less of a direct role with some of the raid decisions. This was the era when I realized that I could not be both the friendly happy guild master everyone knew.. and be the raid leader that everyone needed at the same time. I think this was really the beginning of the end with me and World of Warcraft, but I ultimately did not leave until Cataclysm. I kept changing things up trying to keep the game viable. During Crusaders Coliseum for example I switched from Warrior main to Death Knight main, but regardless of what I did there was still a pool of bitterness there. This has been the event I think of every time I consider leading a raid again. Ultimately we have to know the limits, and know what will happen to us deep down inside when we push those limits too far. Now I am happy to be the cruise director of the guilds I am part of, and the man with the recruitment van. I strive on a daily basis to remain the “Happy Bel” folks have come to appreciate and keep the “angry wrathful god of vengeance” locked up deep inside.