Talk to Me

So, we’re trying a little experiment in our guild. We’ve shaken up the raid schedule a little bit on order to get more of a focus on clearing 25 man content and to keep that good old raid momentum moving from week to week. A suggestion was made by some guildies that maybe we could structure our raid weeks different, and the officership decided to give it a try – despite the reservations of some guildies and some officers. (And me.)

Our old raid system was a “two on, one off” sort of thing. We’d raid two weeks, usually 6 days a week, then have one week off where there would be no scheduled raids. You could PuG any content you liked, do your PvP, your farming, chill with your fam – do whatever you needed to do on those off weeks. We raided pretty hard during our on weeks, but never had a set schedule – just some 25 mans and some random 10 mans, whatever we were feeling like doing whenever that week.

I liked this system because the time off was nice. I disliked this system because of the lack of focus and structure. The opinions in our guild varied, but most people really seem to like that week off – it’s really helpful in managing raider burnout. It’s why we have that system in the first place.

We are in the second week of a trial run of a new system. (We’re expecting to go with this new system until mid-December.) Under this new system, we raid three 25 mans a week, and two 10 mans a week. (We raid slighly different days every other week, so as to make sure that if people have one set day a week they absolutely cannot raid, they can still make at least some raids.) The 10 mans are completely optional and arranged so that if you decide to not go to the 10 mans, you can have four consecutive days off in a week. The idea here was not only to have set raid days, but to really focus on 25 mans, as well as to give people some time off during the week, now that we don’t have off weeks.

Results have been mixed.

We have some people who like the structure and focus of the new system, but we have some (vocal) people who really want their off weeks back and who are feeling even more burnt out after two weeks of this new system than they are under the old system.

I understand that just because a raid is (repeatedly emphasised) as completely, totally, guilt-free and optional doesn’t mean that people will not feel any pressure to attend them. And I understand that even with four days off in a week (two of those days being weekends – which may or may not need to be Family Time) that there may not be enough time to get the gold and mats you need to keep raiding. (Though I think Gevlon might have a thing or two to say abbout that.) And I also know that I myself am not raiding because I’m out here on the Bald Prairie, working, so I’m disconnected from being able to judge my own level of burnout or monitor others in person.

I’m witholding my final judgement on the effectiveness of the new raid schedule. I’m going to keep observing and listening to people and collecting data and viewpoints. I think that this experiment should at least run another two weeks to really judge it.

So, in the spirit of gathering data – how do you schedule your raids, O Great WoW Blogspherizens? Do you have off weeks? How do you manage raid burnout? What do you think of our raid scheduling, both the new and the old? Talk to me, it’s lonely out here.

Advertisements

And the Horse You Rode In On

So, we had to guild kick someone the other day. I don’t generally like to guild kick people because I’m a) kind of soft-hearted and sentimental and b) afraid that if I start I won’t be able to stop. We at Imposs like to use gkick as a last resort and we like to make it stick. In the past year I think we’ve only asked about four people to leave and it’s mostly been without seeing hide nor hair of the Drama Llama. Well, after the kick that is. (One of my biggest fears is that someone who has been kicked will get all disgruntled and start some serious shit. Not happened yet, but I worry. I always worry.)

We have a policy in place that details the behaviour that the guild community expects from its members. Generally, if someone is transgressing, a simple whisper from an officer is enough to get them back on the right track. Sometimes two reprimands are needed, but there’s never been a guild kick over it until just recently.

In the case of our erstwhile guild member, they decided that calling our raid leader “gay” several times over vent was an appropriate way to express their displeasure. Seeing as this was coming the day after a late-night vent conversation between this guildie and one or two others where the offender also used “gay” as a synonym for “stupid” enough times to warrant two unhappy emails in my inbox the next morning (and neither of them from any of our openly gay members, btw), our homophobic slur-slinger got a whisper from me post-haste.

“Hey, I know you’re not intending to do any harm with your word choice – but I just want to let you know that you are. There are people – real people – in this guild who identify as gay and they don’t appreciate you (or anyone) using ‘gay’ to describe something you dislike. I know that you don’t want to hurt any of the friends that you have in this guild, and I know that you’re more than clever enough to come up with another way of expressing yourself, so please do so. Thanks so much.”

That was met with a surly silence and a marked display of ‘pouty’ behaviour from our former guildie.

Later on that night (after I had logged off, tellingly) there was a rehash of the earlier vent conversation. Not one, not two but three members and three officers (not including me) told this ex-Imposs member that his language use was well over the line and that he should just stop. Please stop. Please, please stop. His response was to gquit on his alt. The response of the officers was to gkick his main. My response was to post this on the forums, under the title “The Language Police.”

Yup, they’re here. And I am them!

I think it would behoove everyone to take a look at this post again, maybe check out some of the finer points on it, including the bit that goes:

The final thing I want to say to you all here is to reiterate something I’ve posted on these forums before:

your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

The general channels are open to any form or topic of conversation, but that freedom is granted on the grounds that it will be administered with a respect for all of the members of the guild. If someone voices an opposing viewpoint, or someone requests a change in topic or language, then – as long as those views or requests are presented in a respectful manner – they must also be respected. I don’t mean “respected” in the form of “obeyed” but in the more literal sense of treated with compassion and dignity.

Because we all live in an imperfect society, and we all drop the occasional sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise unacceptable comment through a combination of laziness, ignorance or just plain thoughtlessness. It happens, and I’m not here to scold everyone or make them watch every word they say at all times.

But when you start dropping a sexist, racist or homophobic slur like it’s on your fucking Word of the Day Calendar, and you’re asked politely by several people to stop – stop. Stop using it, and start thinking about how maybe there are actual people who are gay, female or people of colour – and who are people who don’t appreciate being compared to all that is stupid or worthless. Maybe there are people in the guild who are not directly affected by your words but who are nonetheless tired of you using them anyhow.

We’re all adults here. We’re a community here. Let’s realize that we should act like one. And acting like an adult within a community of adults means being able to use the phrase “whups, my bad” and move on when you’re respectfully asked to stop offensive behaviour.

There has not (as of yet) been one reply on the forums to that post.

The post script to this story is that over the next few days I had a series of conversations with our former member. The first conversation did not go well. It basically consisted of a non-apology along the lines of, “Well, I didn’t mean it in that way. I’m sorry people are upset.”

Dude.

I’d like to make it clear that intent does not bloody well matter. It doesn’t matter if you meant to hurt someone with your words – you did. It doesn’t matter if you meant to be a douchecanoe – you did. The big boy response here is to say “I’m sorry.” Just, “I’m sorry.” Not, “I’m sorry you were offended” – which is about as meaningful as “I’m sorry I got caught” btw. But, “I’m sorry.” Period. Full stop.

I suggested to our no-longer-raider that because his offense was pretty public, and that most of the guild was hurt and or pissed off, then the appropriate response would be to make some sort of public apology. Not just to try to get your way back into the good graces of everyone, but because our ex-member had been a member for a long time. And had made many friends and many connexions within the guild. A forum apology would reach everyone and show that even though you’ve been asked to leave, you still value the Imposs community, its members and the history you shared.

Surprisingly, he did.

I was actually shocked by it. He made a real and genuine apology to the guild, and the n server transferred with quite a respectful and remorseful adieu. I was impressed by the fact that he realized his behaviour had been sinking lower and lower over the past few months and that with his homophobic rant he had finally hit rock bottom. In the end he bid Impossibilium and ThoBro a graceful goodbye.
There is a lesson to be learned here.

This … is … ULDUAR!!!

So, even though this is our off week from raiding, we managed to get over 30 signups for last night’s completely on-the-fly raid.It was just posted as “25 man raid”, no mention of exactly what we would be doing, but the interest was very high.

As expected, a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while came crawling out from the woodwork. I have to confess that I’m a little disappointed in these people. As happy as I am to see them back, and as absolutely thrilled as I am to have full raids and sky-high enthusiasm for them, I can’t help but look at a few of these raiders and say to myself, “but where were you for the last six weeks? Where were you when we were learning Maly? Where were you when we desperately wanted to try Sarth with a drake or two up? Where were you when we were just hanging out in vent, being the friends we are? Did it really take something new and shiny to bring you back to this guild?” I confess it makes me a bad person and a very bad leader on some levels, but I’m saddened by what I percieve to be a lack of work ethic and loyalty in some of these folks.

But, my inner goblin spoke up and said that I was being a little egotistical and perhaps these raiders didn’t actually ‘owe’ the guild anything. And besides, they were here, spirits were running high and everyone was in a party mood. So, we grabbed our dual specs, our glyphs and our buggy, buggy mods and headed into Ulduar.

Our raid leader: “First fight is a vehicle fight, how hard could it be?”

Me (To myself): “Yeah well, so was Malygos.”

The vehicle-based fight against Flame Leviathan is immensely fun. Indescribably so. By the time we got him down, my face ached from smiling so broadly. I am so desperately in love with that first fight I think I may have to quit my job and move across the country just so I can camp on it’s doorstep and serenade it’s bedroom window every night. I loved every blessed minute of it!

The Basics:
There is a Flame Leviathan. He is a big steam tonk sort of mechanical thing. He has four drakes towers. You can destroy one, two, three or all four of his drakes towers to unlock “hard” mode and better loots. With all four drakes towers (!) down, he’s really quite easy once you get your groove down.

There are three types of vehicles – motorbikes, battering rams and catapults (I forget what they’re actually called. That’s what WoW Wiki is for.) The motorbikes are equivalent to melee dps, the battering rams to tanks and the catapults to ranged and healers.

Motorbikes: Have a jackal-style fight tactic. They zip in around the boss/trash and drop an oil slick which slows them. They can also light the oil slick on fire which does an asstonne of damage.

Catapults: These take two riders, one to drive and one to act as a projectile (huge fun!) The driver is of course responsible for manouevering the thing, aiming its gun turret and chosing which attack to use. You have an ammo-less attack that basically chucks a giant rock at your target and an attack that tosses a flaming barrel of pyrite* at your target, but that takes ammo. While you are clearing trash and drakes towers (dammit!) the projectile person should be ranging down these little flying cylindrical blue jars. They can then chain grapple them back to the catapult to replenish the ammo. The ammo shows up as a blue bar on the right of the stock vehicle UI.

Battering Rams: These guys have a huge amount of healt and a charge and batter sort of attack. Pretty basic tanky type stuff. (Yes, that’s a lame explaination. Guess which vehicle I was using last night?)

Trash:
Roam around and take down all four coloured drakes towers (sorry, I’m done). There is one to the right and to the left, up (or down) a ramp, one in the centre area, and one off to the left down a small alley (omg I love you dungeon maps!) There are also smaller towers that continually spawn little iron dwarves. Take these out too. Helicopters will come zooming in part way through, catapults need to range these out of the air. The biggest problem are the spider-like mechanical flame walkers. They do an incredible amount of fire damage and need to be taken down quickly. There are teal glowy discs on the floor, usually around the outside, these heal the vehicle if you drive onto them and wait. They heal pretty quickly, and the vehicles have a pretty large amount of health to start with. Once all the trash is clear, everyone needs to heal up, the projectile passengers on the catapults need to chain grapple in any free pyrite laying around and then head down to the far end of the hall. There is a gate. Behind that gate is the mighty Flame Leviathan!! (duhn, duhn DUHHHHN!)

The Boss:
He has basically no aggro table, he just picks someone and chases them around, while they kite him all over the place. Every 20 seconds (or so) he will randomly decide to chase someone new. Supposedly, he should only be chasing the people in the (tank) battering rams, but occasionally he targetted one of the catapults for us. Catapults should always stay at max range from him, just in case. There should be a warning 5 seconds before he switches targets, so all battering rams should back up and get ready to run. Motorbikes should be tossing and lighting oil slicks everywhere they can. The best strat is to keep the slicks near to the person the boss is aggrod on, and for that person to make sure they are kiting him through as many burning slicks as possible.

Catapults need to have really good comminication during the boss. Periodically, the projectile player needs to laod themslves into the catapult bucket and get fired up onto the boss. This takes some aiming by the driving player. There are 5 catapults, and we had it set up so that three of the projectiles were healers and two were dps. That way we could send a healer and a dps up at the same time, with one healer in reserve. Once a healer and a dps are flung up onto the boss, there are four small turrets up there that need to be dpsd down. He will get a damage taken increase debuff for every turret taken down, and once all four are down, he will be stunned. This is when the catapults should spam their pyrite barrel toss. They also need to save the pyrite barrel toss to interrupt his flame charge attack, which he periodically does.

After the stun is over, the motorbikes need to pick up the people who were on his back and take them back to their catapults. We had each catapult marked with a raid icon, and it was (mostly!) easy enough for the motorbikes to return their passengers. Give the catapults a few moments to recharge their pyrite, then toss the next pair of dps/heals up onto his back. We managed to unload enough dps on him during the first stun phase that we didn’t actually have to take him to another one.

Dead boss. Phat lewts!

Pro Tips:
Communication is key! (As always.) Vent chatter needs to be kept way, way down so that the raid leader can call out who the boss is targeting and so that the catapult drivers and projectiles can talk to each other, and so that the projectiles can talk to the motorbike drivers. We had one issue where there was too much chatter and the motorbike driver just roamed around aimlessly which took his dps and the dps of his projectile passenger out of the equation.

There is no healing during the fight. Catapults and motorbikes need to stay out of the boss’ way and catapults need to make sure they are interrupting. Because the interrupts use up some of the pyrite you need for the stun phase, set up an interrupt order so that not everyone is spending all of their pyrite ammo at once.

If you wipe, you do not need to re-clear trash. All the vehicles will spawn right in front of him and there will be stacks of pyrite there. Once you enter the instance, there is a green portal pad that will take you to the boss. Chose the second option on the portal menu.

There is a repair guy in the instance! Hooray! As soon as you enter, there is a ogre on the right who is a reagent vendor and repair dood!

Catapults move uphill verrrrrryyyy sloooooooooowwwwwwwly.

*Pyrite is a sulphide mineral. It is not generally flammable. You can melt it, but that would take crazy high temperatures and I doubt you could contain it in a wooden barrel. Lrn2geology, Blizz.