I had to vary up my morning routine today, as today is the first day back after snowmageddon. Until yesterday afternoon we had not left the house since Thursday evening. Mostly we got out yesterday just to see how the main roads were. If we based things on our neighborhood we would think the world was still under a solid sheet of ice. However as we got out and about we saw that the majority of the major roads were well travelled. That is not to say that I did not drive slightly under the speed limit on the way in, and not to say that I still did not slip and slide quite a bit. However I made it into the office without issue.
It is funny how quiet the office is. I expected to see more people here, however it is just me and one of the server techs. The irony is that while we are both in the office, we have been chatting over our in office instant messenger rather than face to face. I guess that is a sign of our lines of work, we are used to doing everything remotely. Had they not made a big deal about having “no remote work” policy, I would have simply worked remotely on Friday, and potentially this morning as well. However as to not give the impression that I was getting away with something untoward… I simply took a day of vacation on Friday. Not wanting to take a second one, I made the commute in this morning.
A Tale of Two Raids
Last night was a pretty interesting night. Since we had not really left the house since Thursday, I lost all touch with what day of the week it was. I had been living in a haze slowly poking away at leveling my rogue, which ended the long weekend almost 82. So when I was messaged by my raid leader to ask if I would be attending the raid, it was honestly a bit shocking. I had completely lost track of the fact that it was in fact Sunday, a night that we normally raid. Earlier in the week it was uncertain if we would even be able to make the raid happen, but we managed to pull in a friend of mine to dps for us. While a bit rusty she is improving with every single boss fight.
Stalwart has had something odd going on with raiding for some time. Essentially the guild has been a Tale of Two Raids. The non-guild-based raid group Duranub, had a pretty even mix of extremely high performing serious players, and not serious at all players that just wanted to raid for the sake of having fun. This lead to more than a few dramatic moments, so as 25 man raiding dissolved the groups fractured along those lines. During Cataclysm, we had no less than 5 ten mans that ranged from the super hardcore to the super casual. As attendance waned and folks left the game, myself included… the two groups that managed to hold together were that of the super hardcore, and the super casual.
When Pandaria released I quickly leveled Belgrave and Belgarou, and when it came time to raid I chose to bolster the super casual raid with my dps. The problem with that notion was the fact that the super casual raid lacked any form of reliable tanking. That unfortunately is one of those roles where you need your most talented players. Without a solid tank you get nowhere at all, and that is precisely what happened… they made little to no progression for a very long time. Seeing this floundering from a distance was a bit heartbreaking, but at that point I just did not have the patience to stick around and try and help out. I left wow once again, but this group persevered through sheer will of heart alone.
In the time I was away from the game, the Leftovers as they call themselves managed to recruit a stable tank Gamad, and the progress they have made was entirely thanks to her determination… and much drinking to manage to get through the struggles of working with the non-effective tank. Upon coming back I thought to myself… of all the groups that could use my help it was the Leftovers. So I have worked my little butt off to get geared enough to take a primary tanking slot. At this point I am sitting at 522 ilevel and for the most part can handle tanking almost anything out there right now. In the time I have been tanking with the group we have now cleared two new bosses, and are starting too work on a fourth. While we are still working our way through Throne of Thunder, it is nice to see steady movement forward again. At this point we are now done with the first wave of the dungeon and started work on the Tortos encounter last night.
This progress however might not have been. The under performing tank is back and available for raiding… and due to seniority and the fact that Gamad can out dps a good number of our dps… the Raid leader decided to put me with the under-performing tank for the night. Now I have to say, that the tank has some medical issues and is heavily medicated at all times. That said… it was still like trying to tank an instance with an easily distracted toddler. He was always off doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and when it came time to do the first tank swap on the Troll Council fight… he was off dpsing something else. I have so much renewed appreciation for Gamad and what she has struggled with to this point. I have to say that if I have to co-tank with the other warrior very often, I will probably stop raiding. I knew it was bad, but I guess I had forgotten just how bad it was.
Slow But Steady
Thankfully the raid leader also saw how untenable the situation was, and quickly swapped the warrior to dps and Gamad back to tanking. From there we made a few attempts, each with their own adjustments and managed to kill the Troll Council. During this time sadly, the warrior had swapped specs but not gear… and ended up fury dpsing with a sword and shield. Basically when you are this inattentive it is time to just hang up your spurs and bow out of raiding for the good of the group. The leader whoever has struggled to make the group about family and friends, but there comes a point where keeping certain individuals hurts the overall spirit and morale of the whole. This is the sticky stuff that made me hate being a raid leader. There were many nights when I slotted people I didn’t really want to slot for the sake of social reason… not wanting to make a wife raid without her husband etc.
To be truthful this level of stress over variables you cannot quite control is much of the reason why I refuse to be a raid leader anymore. I got my fill of it over the three years I did it, and I commend the raid leader of Leftovers for his diligence to this point. That said the warriors return was a comedy of errors, and essentially if he is unable to pay enough attention to keep from charging headlong into the boss while we are clearing trash, it is probably time for him to stop raiding. That is not to say that I don’t think we should start doing something else that he CAN attend. I am thinking maybe a world boss night would fight the bill of letting the people who just do not have the ability to pay attention during raids, to feel like they are making progress along with family and friends. I don’t think we will ever be a progression based raid group, but without two stable tanks we might as well just do something else with our evenings.
A Positive Note
I feel like I have dwelled a lot on the bad during this post, but I want to end it on a positive note. Since my time in the raid we have completed two brand new encounters, and while we failed miserably at the fourth, we will do some adjusting next Friday and hopefully beat it in the face. Each of the wins has felt like it was sustainable. On the try we downed the council, no one actually died other than the hapless warrior. We completed it a man down, and everything felt very maintainable. This is a testament to just how good the high performing players in Leftovers are. I have no doubt that we will continue to progress our way through Throne of Thunder and hopefully complete the instance, gearing each of us to a state where we are ready to take on Seige of Orgrimmar before the expansion is released. I am personally pretty happy where we are, and how successful we have been.