Category: Drama

Entering the “Centre of the Storm” with Fleety

As a GM I think you need to have ESP. You certainly need to be a fucking mind-reader. Not that people’s motivations aren’t often transparent, but because sometimes they guild quit and you have no idea why. I think these people do need to learn that I stop caring about anything they think, say or do the moment they leave if they didn’t express that they had an issue before they left. That’s perhaps the worst kind of cowardice.

I’m always suspicious, whether I’m part of a guild’s hierarchy or not, of someone who tells me they aren’t appreciated by their guild. The more they tell me about everything they’ve done the more suspicious I get. Yeah, you did all that so you would be appreciated? What form would the appreciation need to take? A promotion? Can I ask is that the reason you did all this stuff? No! So why does the level of expressed appreciation matter? Maybe you were quietly appreciated. Or maybe what you are doing is simply what is expected of all members? Maybe the people not doing what you are doing are getting the guild hierarchy’s attention?

I think the worst people to be guild officers are universally those who want to be officers and GMs the most. If people are quietly getting on with their business, following their own agenda, which is also completely in line with that of the guild, people who do not want or need a higher guild rank to help people out, farm for materials and always be there at the right time with the right things to say, they are probably the best people to be officers.

The people I’m least likely to promote are the ones who are clearly looking for it. I don’t have ESP and I am not a mind-reader, but people do frequently give themselves away. Before our long gone “Mythic Clique” were ejected at the beginning of the expansion one of the ring leaders kept whispering me with “well intentioned, good advice”. Well he said it was good advice and I was insulted that he thought I needed any. That’s the thing with unsolicited advice it does tend to insult the recipient. After a while he got to be an irritant and I told him about unsolicited advice. He stopped whispering me and moved on to the other GM and when that was getting no traction he started in on the other officer, the only officer I’ve had to remove from the guild. That officer is now a GM of a guild he formed with my whispering friend. Seriously, if you think you can do a better job than I can go and try it for yourself.

Another guy whispered me about a drop in raid sign-ups when he hit Zek’voz. I just said this always happens when raiding gets difficult. Often the “best raiders” move to other guilds. This is because “best raiders” in this context means “best geared”. They think “If I moved to another more progressed guild I can get more gear without having to work hard on this boss.” They’re usually the worst raiders: the most reluctant DPS who won’t soak, enter the pod, push the button or off tank an add, complain most about “lack of progression” and decide to take their awesome metre scores to another guild. After they’ve gone you seem to carry on as well, if not better, than before.

This guy whispers me that “regardless of wipes” he’ll be there. “This week and every week. Wipe or no wipe.” Cheers mate, but why tell me? I will see you doing that. I told one of the other officers and heard “Oh, he said that to me today too!” So I primed the last officer that he should expect a whisper about raid sign-ups being down, but wipe or no wipes the whisperer would still be there! He told me a day or two later that he had had the whisper, almost word for word as I’d predicted, and he had pissed himself with laughter, fortunately it had been an in-game text conversation and not in voice chat.

Worse still is the guy that whispers the GM all the time and is always upbeat and positive. Always eager to tell that he is doing his best to do what the guild needs. Then /ragequits one afternoon feeling undervalued. Then you begin to find out how unhappy they have been for a long time about the lack of appreciation or not being able to play their preferred role in the raid. Having ESP or being a mind-reader would be very beneficial for discerning that the whispering cheerleader was actually really pissed off about something you will only find out about otherwise second hand, after they have left the guild. Don’t assume your GM has ESP or that the people you are whining to are going to run to the GM to champion your righteous cause. They won’t, they never do.

All officers and GMs have those people who are constantly whispering them when they’re online. Suggestions, advice, flag waving, cheerleading, talking about how good someone else is and how they’ve been helping them gear up. We all nod and smile and try to get on with our day as the whispers keep coming with little or no input from us. Mostly they’re well meaning, often they’re just attention seeking. If you ignore them for long enough they usually go away. Permanently. Then people ask why they left the guild, they did so much for it. We sigh and say, yes they made such a big investment in the guild, well, they said they made a big investment, in this guild they said they really liked, but have now left. Was it because they felt undervalued when everything they did was for the kudos or recognition they would get? All that stuff you were doing? Isn’t that the stuff everyone else is doing, or at least should be doing? Could it be that the guy who did it all quietly and didn’t want any kudos or praise is now…promoted or actually an officer? Is that ironic or…?

I’ve also noticed a man thing. Male gamers, of all ages seem to be afflicted with this problem: vagina blindness. This is not to be confused with vagina mining. Some women, and men pretending to be female, take advantage of vagina blindness to get “a lot of help” with everything they need in game. To the point where men are running multiple dungeons with them when they are online, buying them expensive BoE trinkets and levelling gear just to get them across the ilvl threshold into higher content and anything else for them that they need.

Vagina blindness is the yin to Vagina Mining‘s yang. Men (often, hilariously, grown men) will bend over backward to help one or two special guildies…they often justify this to themselves and everyone else as an expression of their desire to just help out. Help out everyone. As long as they have a vagina. Sometimes they become very narrow and focus on one vagina, sometimes they are more promiscuous and try to service two or three at time. Vagina Miners and the sad souls afflicted with Vagina Blindness are excellent fits for one another. However, as an officer or simply a concerned guildie I have to occasionally ask women “Is everything OK or do you need to take out a guild restraining order?” Only a tiny proportion of gamers are vagina miners and not all of them are even female. You find a few of the Vagina Blind in every guild, they’re mostly harmless and if you are the recipient of their attention it ranges from very friendly and really helpful to creepy and asphyxiating. A tiny minority of women will abuse vagina blindness and mine it for all it’s worth, some men pretending to be women will do this too. I’m not sure what the vagina blind are hoping to get out of it…

The very worst guildies for GMs to know how to deal with are usually a combination of all of the above. A whiny, vagina blind, perpetual victim of oversight and undervaluing is one of my all time favourites. Fortunately even men grow out of this sooner or later. Most men.

I’ll give you two examples of how people are in guilds. One person asks for a feast and a cauldron to be put down in a raid. With twenty minutes to go? No. Feasts and cauldrons are, in this expansion especially, prohibitively expensive. So with twenty minutes of the raid left? A cauldron? No! A cauldron requires 100 Anchor Weed, which two weeks ago was changing hands for 670Geach. Now it’s only 320G each. So cauldrons are approximately 32, 000G a pop. That’s only in Anchor Weed, there all the other herbs too, they just seem trivial next to the Anchor Weed. Compare with the guildie who, without asking what the mats are, without telling me they are going buy some because herbing for the is a ball-ache (and, of course, it is), turns up with 20 feasts and gives them to the officer that normally looks after feasts and cauldrons. The same guildie that has been constantly supplying the same officer with almost half million gold’s worth of Anchor Weed. One will get you promoted the other will get you sighed at. Which one are you?

If you’re offended and think I’m talking about you what makes you think that? There are plenty of examples around for me to draw on for these generic categories without even having to have a particular model in mind. Mind reading would be really helpful for any GM / officer, however, sometimes people’s behaviour is so transparent it really isn’t necessary.

“Some people that you see around you, tell you how devoted they are,
They tell you something on Sunday, come Monday they’ve changed their minds.”

I’m only human, I cannot stop musing on things, sometimes long after the event. This only happened 4 days ago as I write this. I still can’t get my head around it. Another guild officer /ragequit. He apparently left politely and without saying any more than “Just like to say goodbye..thank you for having me. Good luck :)” and then removed his two alts. However, if you know what went down and what the aftermath was this truly fits the bill for what we all know as a /ragequit.

What was the problem with this one? Well, there actually wasn’t a problem with this one. He was a good guy and we liked him, I think most of the guild did too. He was on the same page as us when it came to inclusion and tolerance, or so he said, and he was a valuable sounding board and third voice in officer meetings. So what went wrong? Nothing really went wrong we just wanted to discuss how we lead raids and he then he left. There has got to be more to it that that, what happened?

The only issues I had were small and easily fixed. Our Guild has some Raiding Rules, #2 is “Blamestorming and finger pointing after a wipe are not appropriate behaviour. We’re all adults here, we put ourselves out for the other people who have put themselves out to join the raid and make it work. The only behaviour that is unacceptable is not trying.” So when he called out a member of the raid for not following his instructions I needed to nip that in the bud. Also I had to enforce a change back to Push-To-Talk on our voice comms. The regular audible sighs during our encounters were dispiriting, but one outburst of “For fucks sake!” when things went badly was one too many. Small beer, easily fixed.

The main issue I had was the tediousness of his tactics explanations in raids. It’s basic human psychology that after a few minutes of droning people simply turn off. If you’re explaining things to them, giving them say directions how to get somewhere, if the directions are long people will only remember the first and second, the last and maybe something vague in the middle. So a long ramble is completely counter-productive. This goes for raid tactics too. The job of any good raid leader is two fold:

  1. Understand the details of the fight and have a working overview of everything that is going on.
  2. Summarise tactics for each raid group: tanks, healers, melee and ranged. Highlight (only) the most important things.

Our raid leader had 1. nailed…2. not so much. So we had a meeting. I deliberately avoided words like tedious, drone or lecture, focusing on synopsis, summary and nutshell. All I wanted I said was a bit less exposition, a bit more fighting. Playing the game rather than talking about playing the game. More wipe, more learn, less chat. However, we were at pains to emphasise how good a job we thought he was doing. Raid leading is not easy, can be stressful and raids are pretty chaotic at the best of times. All I wanted was a brief synopsis of the raid mechanics and pull! Even if you wipe (and you are going to wipe) you get to see the raid mechanics, what the adds and spells look like and what you need to be alive to.

Now I just asked for more of a synopsis of the bosses then quickly moving to pulling and seeing. He responded that the bosses in Uldir are difficult and complex, even on normal difficulty. Well, Zek’voz is a bit over-tuned and hard on healers, even on normal. But Taloc, Mother, Fetid Devour and Vectis are not complicated fights and once you get the basics sorted it is, as it is for pretty much every fight, executing it (near) correctly repeatedly through the cycling phases. After all this is easy mode. Simple. “No they’re not.” Sorry, I thought you were an ex-mythic raider? Even for a journeyman, heroic raider like myself these fights, even tier 1 BfA Uldir, are pretty easy. We certainly did not need or benefit from a 40 minute lecture on every boss move, debuff and mechanic of the Vectis fight! We would’ve downed Vectis that first Friday if we had had less talk more fight. In two and a half hours we engaged bosses 8, perhaps as many as 9, times. We reached Vectis at 22:00 ST and squeezed in a extra time pull and finished at 23:15. We pulled Vectis 3 times!


Razor-toothed arse-hole on a stick?

At one point an officer said they were starting to get a little bit confused and could we just try it and see? “You’ll all die.” Well, wiping is not a particularly bad thing in a raid, wiping is learning. Wiping is certainly not as bad as the five minute silence that followed this snappish remark. You should probably know the raid is getting restless when they prank pull the boss saying “Think fast.” You might take more notice when it’s the GM. 9 boss engagements? We spent more time on tactics than we did fighting that Friday night. Second pull we took Vectis to 9% and with another couple of tries we could easily have downed him, because Vectis is not a complex fight. I can absolutely assure you that we did not take Vectis to 9% thanks to the extremely detailed and rambling tactics and mechanics explanation that spanned and prank pull and lasted 40 minutes. It had everything to do with the tanks who simple disregarded the bad tactics we had focussing on too many unavoidable problems (Omega Vector) and distilled the fight down two two marks to alternate between when the add spawned in phase 1. In phase 2 soak all the red circles and kill any adds. Rince and repeat. Easy fight. None of which I said.

Our officer meeting lasted about 25 minutes. 5 mins of of AOB. Then 5 minutes of discussion then 15 minutes of mainly me trying to reassure the officer that I did think he was doing an excellent job (particularly of 1 above) and saying we just want to have shorter ‘nutshelled’ tactics and more pulling and wiping (if necessary). His only response to the guild calling-out was that he apologised. I know mate and it was a good, fulsome apology but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We don’t do that, Rule 2! “It looked like he wasn’t following the raid leader’s instructions!” I know, but we still don’t do it. “I apologised!” Er…this has become cyclical. As for PTT in voice chat he had no recollection of swearing. Or sighing all the time? You do remember snapping “You’ll all die.” and sulking for almost 5 minutes though?

For 15 minutes he was almost silent, apart from the occasional big sigh. I think he went into a shutdown. He did say a couple of things. “Why have you saved all this up and not discussed it with me at the time?” This is the very first opportunity since the last raid for us to do this, all our work and familial responsibilities done we can now get together online. “I didn’t think I was doing a bad job.” You’re not, what could possibly make you think that, we’ve been at pains to praise, bolster and encourage while trying to hone your leading. We want you to continue. We can all improve this is just some support. We can all work together at making the tactics more precise and concise. We want to help. “I’m disappointed…” I am too, I don’t know why you’re taking it like this. “I feel undermined…I don’t think I have the confidence to continue,” Sorry now you’re being a fucking drama queen. I replied “OK you’ve got a lot to digest. We’ll leave you alone to make your decision.” The decision to leave, you’ve clearly already made. Made the moment anyone suggested your raid leading, though good, could possibly improve.

The truth is I think this /ragequit had it’s roots in me not offering to kick a guildie he didn’t like. What did this guildie do? Suggested the raid leader must be a tall skinny bloke. Was he Nicholas Lyndhurst and posted a picture of Lyndhurst on Discord and called the Raid Leader Rodney a couple of times. What? Yeah, I know that’s it. Oh, he was concerned that people were then “demanding” he post a real photo to prove he wasn’t Rodney Trotter. “Why didn’t he just post a picture of Rodney and say ‘See no resemblance whatsoever’?” That’s what I said! That and the tank doing raid tactics (especially when they were so goddamn effective: 9%!)

For the people that had him on their friend’s list and couldn’t even contact him to wish him good luck and ask him for his side on what went down…well he has left Draenor, sharded one level 120 character (effectively), his paladin alt. His main has been renamed and server and faction transferred to Silvermoon. No really. That’s what I call a fucking full fat /ragequit. A guild, a server, a faction and everyone who knew him.

There was some drama in our guild last night and I have to own up that I started it. I mentioned politics in jest and someone responded…badly. To an extent I agree with the idea that politics has no place in a game. Politics is important and informs all aspects of life. Politics isn’t something that happens elsewhere, in Westminster say, politics is the stuff of everyday lives. However, politics can potential be (though it doesn’t actually need to be) very divisive. Some issues, while they are political, have very important moral and ethical dimensions. I may be happy to tolerate Tories, UKIPers and Brexiteers in my guild. I cannot accept racists, sexists, homophobes and misogynists.

Now ‘Centrist Dad‘ would have you believe many things that are simply not true. “The political centre ground is the best place to be, a place of balance and sanity between two crazed and extreme views.” “There is no such thing as class any more, we’re all working, so we’re all working class.” “Extremes” of left and right wing politics are by no means the same. Politics is not a colour wheel that goes around in a circle with extreme left and right wing views sitting next to each other.

The political centre is often simply an articulation of the status quo and the views of the vested interests that weild power. The Left and Right are opposed fundamentally and disagree on almost everything. Also, some things aren’t a matter of opinion, they’re a matter of fact.  Some ethical ideas leak into the political sphere and become more than simple disagreements about party politics. For example, there are many arguments for a left wing EU exit, or Lexit, arguments that are class-based and not founded on racism or anti-immigrant sentiments. However racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric is morally bankrupt and unethical.

There are ideals and beliefs, and their political expressions, that I will have no truck with. These are deeply help principles that have cost me employment. So rejecting them, on a much lesser stage in a guild, and the people that carry them is small beer. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and curtail anyone’s freedom of speech, I would defend the expression and discussion of ideals, while disagreeing strongly and condemning their proponents. There are public platforms for expressions of free speech, the private realm of a guild is not one of them. I’m happy to reject, exclude and forcibly remove anyone who express racism, sexism or homophobia.

Immigration can be a divisive political issue and I’m happy to debate immigration policies, strengthening or relaxing immigration controls, but I cannot tolerate anti-immigrant or refuge sentiments, forcible repatriation, especially of people who have lived in our country for over sixty years since the Windrush, sentiments based on pure racism. I cannot tolerate anything that seeks to exclude, damage or other people. I cannot condone physically or verbal attacking groups of people and telling them to “go home” (what to Peckham?) Talking about controlling immigration often grows out of racism, but that isn’t necessarily the case, hatred of Jews, Muslims and other non-white British people that’s more straight forward.

The new or alt-Right in politics has appropriated the language of Liberalism, co-opting Centrist Dad‘s everywhere, to legitimise it’s race hatred, gender oppression and has sought to turn these things on their heads. Racism is now defence of the “oppressed white majority” and patriotism, anti-feminist rhetoric claims it is men who are actually oppressed which is ‘an inversion of the natural order‘. Islamophobia isn’t racist because Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. Multiculturalism is a perversion that breeds racism bringing incompatible cultures together and promotes the mixing of races that are and should remain distinct. Underpinning these lies and distortions are appeals to free speech and tolerance of ideas. The very things the Right stands against. Make no mistake, if the Right achieves power again (and it is beginning to do so in Germany, with the AfD, and already has with the Fidesz victory in Hungary) then criticism of the state, the white majority and patriarchy will be repressed and marginalised, as it is in Russia.

“Politics” perhaps shouldn’t be discussed in a guild context or any mixed company. However, ethical rejections of racism, oppression and the distortions of truth perpetrated by fascists, both overt and declared or disguised and politically correct, should be discussed in any fora including guilds. Fascism and all oppressive, discriminatory, anti-democratic ideas do need to be dragged out into the light of day, rejected and ultimately removed. Even if you lose guild members. I’ll take 10 non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic inclusive egalitarians over 50 fascists any day.

Call me what you like I’m a Marxist.

/2 “A word to the wise ain’t necessary- it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” <The Coffin Dodgers> We don’t tolerate intolerance or shouty raid leaders. Socials are always needed, melee particularly sought for laid back raiding.

My recruitment spam may not be to your taste. That may actually be by design. I do not want just anyone in my guild. We’re a community and most of us are over 35 so I don’t want any twenty- or thirty-somethings who believe (quite erroneously) that they are right, very mature and ‘fully growed up now’. That kind of drama and opinionated smugness I can do without, I have opinated smugness and drama all of my own.

This needs no commentary:

Expect a comment about the track selection being “hot garbage”. Don’t give a shit what you think mate.

Always think twice about placing a guild in a Stand-in GM’s hands. Even if no one else is prepared to step up,. It’s simply better to hold on to the GM-ship yourself, and go long term AFK, than make someone not-fit-for-purpose GM. Wonder if GMs think they’ll be able to to take over again if and when they comes back? I’m not so sure that always happens.

Weird shit happens in guilds all the time because half the people behave like the structures matter and sensible people don’t. Veteran ranks,  Officers and GMs, it’s all BS. We’re all just adults playing online games. We group up and put some people in charge simply because we don’t want to have to organise anything ourselves. So if one of the people we accepted as in charge starts behaving like they are in charge and everyone should listen to them and forget the very limited nature of their remit…things will not turn out well.

I’m surprised anyone could forgot, or put to one side, the whole “Thou shalt not swear, it will put off all the new people and offend existing members, so sayeth grandma Stand-in GM.” The GM, God love him, and I do,responded in a priceless manner and is worth quoting again. “Stand-in GM, no one fucking tells me when I can and can’t fucking swear.” Oh and all the new members you’re talking about? Your friend, the prick and his wife, who don’t like the bad language, and the other new member who is currently in the “Social Night” Discord channel with us swearing like a sailor?

So, the prick who keeps whispering officers to have people kicked just because he doesn’t like them? Or his wife who crashed a social night and bitched about the wiping in Timewalking? She did nothing but moan then force queued us for another dungeon. At which point all the four of the group silently and without coordination left the group and re-formed in another, quietly invited a fifth and carried on. Lovely woman, I hope her massive ego wasn’t brusied too fucking much. They’re the only people offended by anyone’s fucking swearing. Are you aware that psychologists have demonstrated, through rigorous scientific testing, that people who swear a lot are objectively more intelligent than average and they have a larger vocubulary (which also correlates to higher intelligence)?

So Stand-in GM and Huntard had a chat? Who initated it and what the content of the chat actually was nobody but them knows. However, we know they had a chat, they’ve both admitted as much. We also know that whatever was said and whatever was promised, Stand-in GM asked Huntard not to say anything to My Mate, the other officer, until he’d spoken to her himself. We also know Stand-in GM was so angry that Huntard did talk to My Mate that he dragged Huntard out of the Social Night channel into another Discord room and tore a strip off her, leaving her in tears. Bo hooo. We all know Huntard’s solution to that. It’s on her Facebok page.

Huntard says “Stand-in GM wants me back. He wants me to run social night.” Now I have no idea whether that was said. Huntard could easily be inventing that, or she misunderstood. Misunderstanding and not listening is after all her modus operandi. But clearly she wanted to take over social night and make it her “Wine Night” again. So whether or not she misunderstood Stand-in GM, she was certainly very happy to take over an organised guild event from an officer and pretended friend and deliver a gloating kick in the teeth on the way through.

When Huntard was talking about taking over Friday night she was completely at ease with kicking My Mate in the teeth because she would be back in control and could decide who did and didn’t attend. Yeah, I know you didn’t want me to attend your Wine Night Huntard. To be honest, if you were ever to run another Wine Night I for one wouldn’t wish to be involved. Neither would most of the people who have left Wine Night (taken you off Friends and hide from you online) and WoW as an unattractive way to spend any time. However, excluding our friend because “She isn’t in the guild and not even in the game any more,” that’s rude and ironic since you haven’t stopped whispering her since you crashed so spectacularly out of the guild. So who are you going to organise a Wine Night with? Our Friend seems to be the only person you’re whispering on a Friday Night, apart from My Mate, which is hilarious since you’ve been dismissive of one and stabbed the other in the back. Apparently I’m the hypocrite? What is so hard to understand? Social Nights were supposed to be about having fun, doing content in a relaxed, laid back environment, parhaps enjoying a glass of your favourite beverage. It was never supposed be about carrying a beligerent drunk through content while she snaps at people who are trying to help. I got tried of being told to “fuck off, steve” for telling you the right thing and I’d have to say “Mate, tell her,” to have my remarks confirmed and reiterated.

If this reminiscence serves any puropse, other than to drag out into the cold light of day more guild BS that has no place anywhere, it demonstrates that once more the same two people have undermined a guild officer and made their position so untenable that they have reluctantly guild quit and left behind people they genuinely like. Huntard has stoked a shit storm around two officers and the now-Stand in GM has taken the bait. The same two people. Perhaps it’s “Social Officers” the Stand in GM doesn’t like. He always hated “Wine Night” even when it was still relatively drunk-free. With an absence of social officers perhaps there will now be an absence of social events. So everyone can really concentrate on they only thing that matters Raids. And farming mats for raids, especially Slabs of Bacon. Stop having fun and socialising and get out their and win the bacon. So this is what went down. I know there are people who’d prefer to let BS like this, or drama if you will, stay hidden, with as few people as possible having any idea what the hell happened. Secrets whsipered about, left festering and rotting in the dark. That can only benefit one person.

This Friday I spent the evening with the people I like most in World of Warcraft and a new soul who seems to be friendly and spot on. We ran dungeons for this new arrival, normals, just to help gear her, she’s 102, and we genuinely enjoy helping out (helping not carry-dragging lazy drunks arounds). We agreed that this “Social Night” was the best we’d had in we don’t know how long. Friends say things to your face, until they’re blue in the face. Then they might blog about about what they’ve said publicly to your face. Hypocrites say they’re your friend then engage in BS plots behind your back to push you out of your given role. So how are you spending your Friday Nights, because mine have improved and no one was excluded (only self-excluded)?


Some people seem to be deliberately deaf to hints. Their special approach to the game slowly alienates friends and guildies alike, but they continue to plough their unappealing furrow. The only difference, remember, between a rut and a grave is depth. For one last time, for the sake of my sanity and others around me, I will try to make some earnest suggestions.

This is the mini-map. It’s in the top right hand corner of your screen. It’s a very valuable feature of the default Blizzard UI. It’s on the screen all the time and it’s centred right on you. It also has an indicator with a pointy end and rounded end. The pointy end points the way your character is facing. Using this UI object you can navigate, it will help you find team mates who have inconsiderately wandered out of your line of sight during one of your many announced, or unannounced, AFK moments. If they are further away than the circle of in-game environment that the mini-map shows then you can refer to the full sized map (default key for the Map is ‘M‘). This is how players avoid getting lost and, if they are separated from friends and team mates, can find their own way back.

If you are constantly getting lost, not setting out with flying mount or via a flight point to an in game location, claim all you like that it is because you will get lost. We all know it’s because you’re lazy. If you ask for help with dungeon quests and then argue with people, who all know better than you, that you cannot complete heroic dungeon quests at mythic difficulty with no keystone, then the very least you can do is track your own quest objectives. Don’t wait until the very end of the dungeon and force people to ask “Did you complete your quest?” “No.” “Why not? What are you missing?” “I don’t know.” It’s your quest, it’s the reason we came here with you, how can you not know? “Link the quest in party chat,”…so that we can look at the objectives for you and work out what you missed.

Then when we hand hold you out of the back door of the instance the idea is to follow us out of the cave to a point where we can all mount to fly back to the entrance. What did you think we were going to do? Magically pull the quest objective out of one of our arses so you suddenly WIN without doing anything? Then when we fly back to where you are, see you mount up and start flying with us, don’t get half way there and get bored and stop looking at map/mini-map and fly in exactly the opposite direction and then snap “Where did you go!” like it’s our fault you are ‘lost’ again.

Don’t ask us to Mythic+ with you either. A high level key can be hard enough in several dungeons, especially with some of the additional mechanics, without having to carry someone who can’t make their way to the dungeon, has to be summoned, can get lost between the summoning stone and the dungeon entrance and if they die cannot run back to the group from the start of the instance. If four of us get in, without at least one waiting to hand hold you inside someone will have to come out. Once inside, you make no effort not to stand in the fire, refuse to follow even rudimentary tactics. “Tactics! Oh fuck off. C’mon on.” Even if we’re wiping repeatedly to the same mechanic. It is not endearing to be constantly cackling “Balls of evil! Balls of evil!” Like most things in life it was funny the first time, second time less so. Now, that horse you’re flogging is not so much dead as completely decomposed.

Still we can look forward to the inevitable early bath. After one or maybe two excruciating, toe-curlingly frustrating dungeons we all know you’ll be too pissed to carry on. We then have to repeatedly explain, well pretty much everything, two or three times as you are not listening. Sometimes even though each of us has tried to explain, repeatedly, that you cannot be replaced you are still whining insistently that someone, who is actually in another group, in another dungeon, take your place. Despite their protests, you continue to encourage: “Oh c’mon!” or “Fuck you!”, they still decline, but you still tell your team to kick you and get your already occupied replacement in. Like completing heroic dungeons quests on mythic (without keystone) difficulty you also don’t seem to realise that no one can join a mythic+ run in progress. You cannot just leave and have your team carry on without you…especially if you’re the healer.

Battlegrounds (BGs) reveal more starkly your attitude to the game in general: “Help me I am getting attacked.” Yes you are, we all are, all of the time. A more dynamic role, involving, say, moving from one location to another, would leave you lost and riding blithely into the Stables in Arathi Basin…which is rarely not controlled by the Alliance, as it’s right next to their starting point and graveyard. So you’re the self appointed guardian of the Farm. You have to ride down the hill…and then camp. For the entire duration of the BG. In all BGs there’s the inevitable voice chatter “Incoming at Farm,” “Incoming at Farm,” “INCOMING AT FARM!” “I am dead where were you?” communicating that we’re clearly expected to answer every call and keep you alive at all costs. However, PvP is not an heroic raid, independence and the ability to use your own initiative is essential. In other Battlegrounds, that lack the simplicity of Farm camping, we get “Where are you? I am getting killed. I have died again. OMG! I am getting attacked in the graveyard, this is not fair. I’m dead again! Where are you? Help!”

This blog is testament to the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of PvP. I prefer raids and dungeons, my absolute favourite in game events are 5 man Mythic+ runs. Raiding has always been a long second to classic 5 mans like Stratholme, Blackrock Depths and Shadow Labyrinth. If anyone actually listens to anything I say they will also know that I do not hate PvP, as some do, with a passion. Top of my Christmas List of online malarkey ever year is Arathi Basin, my absolute all time favourite BG and Battle for Gilneas, now my second favourite. Alterac Valley is all riding…riding, riding. Warsong Gulch et al are the capture the flag gank fests. I hate capture the flag, like many, many other players I simple gave up, walked away, never came back, quit on the meta achievement for whatever that dragon was due to School of Hard Knocks. Look it up under achievements. Broke me. But since 2006, at Christmas you will usually find me doing some PvP with guildies, usually in Arathi Basin, usually camping “Fleety’s Farm“…like a lazy cun  git

If you ask for help with your heroic dungeon quests and then argue with people that you cannot complete heroic dungeon quests at mythic+0, we’re going to know you’re an idiot. We all know you don’t know anything about PvP, so if I’m excluding two from our list of random battlegrounds don’t tell me the last one we were in was Arathi Basin. “No. Arathi Basin is the one with the Lumber Mill, Blacksmiths, Gold Mine…and Farm.”, “No.” No, of course it isn’t Arathi Basin is a capture the flag battleground that looks suspiciously like Twin Peaks. Don’t make me raise my voice and slap you down again!

So shortly after this you’re going to pop up with another, perfectly reasonable excuse not to carry on. I predicted four minutes, but it was barely one. It’s just as well as you are starting to slur your words and disagree with people as you clearly have no idea what they are talking about, often when they aren’t actually talking to you. It’s not that your “explanation” for leaving can’t be genuine. It’s that the circumstances that trigger you leaving are always the same and you always have a perfectly reasonable explanation. Every time?

Sometimes being the huntard in-game can be funny. Sadly it’s a joke with limited life. When it starts to creep out of the game into your real life…that’s just not funny at all.

Despite all the warnings I could give the social, online Friday Mythics Night I had enjoyed has imploded. Drunken snappiness, not understanding or listening, revelling in wiping, cackling “Balls of evil! Balls of evil!”  and sheer, bash head against wall, frustration has finished off an event people were already drifting away from. Who has come off worse from this failure? Well, what a shocker. Me again. Too many people have left Warcraft from my little circle recently. So I wasn’t sufficiently backed up to deal with this stupid drama. My old GM is also quitting the game, she’s fed up with whispers, drama and arse aching (not mine for change). So Legion splutters to a uninspiring end with me seriously looking for even a half decent guild again.

My guild status is a fitting metaphor for Legion in all honestly. Some things have been really good. The zone design and levelling experience has been, the usual, first class. However, the raid offerings in Legion have been…derivative and familiar. The frequency with which we’ve been treated to reused textures, fight mechanics and a general dearth of new or innovative ideas has been staggering. We know Warcraft is thirteen years old and the dev team is shrinking, but never has new blood more obviously been required.

This doesn’t help…withdrawing support for DX9 and no bug fixing.

Textures were lifted straight out of Ulduar and Hellfire Citadel, and particularly badly cobbled together in the case of the Emerald Nightmare (EN). Kicking off the expansion, EN was one boss fight leading up to a portal hub with four zones pulled lazily from around Azeroth without one remarkable or noteworthy boss fight. My overriding memory of EN is ugly, disjointed, cut and shut, ordinary. The Nighthold was much better, however when you set the bar so low…I like the idea of introducing an interesting boss mechanic with the trash leading up to a boss. Why shouldn’t the associated trash demonstrate less powerful facets of the bosses in each wing…it adds flavour and immersion while training the raid how to deal with a boss on the way to them. However, it’s becoming normal to describe every boss in terms of it’s recycled, ad nauseum, core mechanic. Like The Coven of Shivarra, (Tomb of Sargeras) described as new the Elisande (Nighthold): same noose tightening mechanic; balls slow in one section; get through incoming wave to outside. Or Garothi Worldbreaker’s (Burning Throne) Eradication is the new Fallen Avatar‘s (Tomb of Sergeras) Rupture Realities (different name same hokey cokey in, out, in, out). Every encounter has an element of deja vu. Not convinced? Then think about the number of fights in Antorus, the Burning Throne alone where you had move out of lines, green or red? Or what about an ‘area cast’ on the floor that you were drawn to, but had to avoid, before another ‘big cast’ came and you had to rush into the previous ‘area cast’ to avoid said ‘big cast’? Describes several fights? Red or green circles (spiked in the centre) that players needed to soak?

The less said about the Eonar the Life-Binder Event the better…shades of the Hellfire Assault Event, but incredibly, and well done Blizzard for pulling off the apparently impossible, worse.

Legendaries failed to engage again. This time around the items themselves were great, you got one or two and you were very happy, so 100% better than the Ring (that a lot people just could not be arsed with at all), it was the mechanism of acquiring them that sucked. The Legendary Cloak quest chain in Pandaria was long but rather epic and as you completed chapters it became empowered. That worked really well for my money, but someone will always bitch it took too long. Mostly it took time because the content was gated at each patch, increasing the efficacy of the cloak was linked to the progress of the campaign in Pandaria. From a story-telling, fantasy perspective that works just fine, some kids will always want it yesterday. We all got one…I got…a lot. At least four chars had one. Fleety had two: tank and DPS, Sakkara had two: DPS and healing, that’s at least six. Did I lose count? The catchup was great so alts weren’t excluded and it was possible to switch ‘mains’ mid expansion and still progress an appropriate legendary.

Where Legion failed so spectacularly was in making them a random drop. OK everyone got at least one, but many people, who were able to play for many more hours a day, quickly got all of the legendaries available to multiple characters. I have 5 on my main and none of them are BiS. I don’t object to the democratisation, that horse has long bolted, it’s the inability to work for a really, really good item. You should not have three legendary items in the bank unused (!) because the two you have equipped are better. Redundant legendaries?

And grinding won. Those who could quest, dungeon and raid more got more legendaries, sooner or later the current BiS would drop for them, it was just a matter of time. It took until 7.3 and the end of the expansion for Blizzard to decide that Legendaries would be immaterial in a few months (post-Legion) so they could start selling them for easily grindable items. I was very pleased with this change and it would’ve been welcome from launch. Just as I celebrating I read the small print and discovered that you could grind a token that would generate a legendary. The legendary you got was still a random drop. You might never get your BiS in this expansion.

Transmog is awesome!

This is officially the expansion I stopped caring about gear. I loved early expansions where you could get a really good item from a specific place, so you went there and tried to get it. OK, having to run Shadow Labyrinth 41 times (after I started counting) was silly and Platinum Shield of the Valorous was a pretty good blue…that I replaced with the token shield a couple of days laters…but gear lists were a thing and we all loved to work our way up them trying to hit stat targets (usually Hit to be honest). Now I don’t care…I don’t even care what the gear looks like. If I get new gear I pop to the Transmog in Dalaran and reapply my favourite appearances. I only care about one thing gear related: item level.

Blizzard have almost completely recreated the idea of Gear Score now.  Higher ilvl means more of any of the stats and more is more right? Right. OK, itemisation of lower ilvl items might make it deliver more DPS, but not significantly in most circumstances. As a rule of thumb higher ilvl is better is pretty solid. Even using our old friend Mr Robot I rarely encounter a situation when the lower level item is so much better optimised as to be worth opting for. Stat weights? No one cares. Not really. Sometimes you still hear some moron opine that Versatility is just crap and of no value to them and Haste, for example, is their best stat.

Let me help you. No stats decrease DPS output (unless you’ve equipped a tanking or healing piece while DPS-ing). All (DPS) stats increase DPS…it is only the degree to which they increase DPS. Versatility is a flat out DPS increase (incoming damage decrease) stat. More Vers. is more DPS. Haste, for example with warlocks, will speed up shard generation for casting more Unstable Affliction (our big meaty cast). “The amount of Shard generation per Haste rating is less efficient than the flat damage received from Mastery. The value of Mastery is even higher on multi target, making it…” our “best” stat (Icy Viens). However, by how much? Well, one point of intellect will equate to 1.0 point of damage. Mastery: one point will equate to about one and half points of damage, atually 1.55 to be precise. For an Affliction Warlock Haste and Crit. are pretty similar at 1.49 and 1.35 receptively. Versatility is worth about 1.06 damage per point. Valueless? Clearly not. 33% less valuable than Mastery? Well about that. 5 ilvls higher with Vers instead of Mastery? How much more? 33%-ish more points of Vers. than the lower ilvl item’s Mastery? Then the higher ilvl item will deliver more DPS(-ish).

The margins are tiny. Every point of Crit. is worth 1.35 damage (approx.) every point of Mastery is worth 0.2 damage more

Gear? Legendaries? Raids? Meh.

So what has been good in Legion? Questing, levelling, the new zones were all top quality and scaling has made the game so much more accessible. We’ve all wondered where to go and slightly dreaded moving to a new area: mob levels go up and with it the difficulty of questing and our ability to cope with unfortunate multi-mob pulls goes down.

Friends at different character and item levels are naturally reluctant to play with us, for two reasons. Most don’t really want carrying through this game, I, for one, have always wanted to play. I have always hated being dragged through a 5 man with an overgeared tank boasting a friend. I can barely get a DoT on a mob before the tank has moved on and I am left behind. You just have to run to keep up and accept your XP for doing nothing. Nah, mate, no thanks. Secondly, in the case of this higher level, over-geared tank, there’s nothing in it for them. The XP is negligible, if anything, the gear useless.

Scaling addresses just this and lets friends who want play together do that, whatever their item levels are. The experience gained and difficulty of the mobs scale so everyone’s participation is required and the value gained is equal. Plus pick a zone, any zone, and start questing there. After patch 7.3.5 that applies to all Azerothian zones. All ‘vanilla’ zones are now scaled 1 – 60. All Wrath zones are 70 – 80 zones, you can quest in Howling Fjord at level 70 or leave it until you’re 79 and still receive good XP levelling there and the mobs and gear will be appropriate to your level! Or go other places and come back later, in every zone, at whatever stage in your levelling process, completing quests yields about the same experience and the gear that drops is appropriate to you at your level / ilvl. Dynamic scaling is pukka.

After the snore-fest that challenge modes were in Pandaria I wasn’t hopeful about Mythic+. Challenge modes did up the difficulty in 5 mans, extending their longevity across an expansion. However, no one was doing them. They were just everything that was bad about 5 mans, condensed to it’s very essence: a speed tanking, drag-fest; kill everything; ASAP. Not working? Get more DPS.

Mythic+ offered a slightly different approach. OK there were timers, but even if you failed to beat the clock there was a (smaller) reward at the end of the dungeon. 5 mans continued to be a viable source of gear to the end of Legion. While in previous expansions the 5 mans became less challenging as the collective ilvl of groups over-geared the instances, Mythic+ keys upped the difficulty and added new, tricky mechanics and provided higher rewards. As your group’s ilvl (and skill) increased you could take on more and more difficult keys. The rewards scale with the keys genuinely extending the life cycle of 5 man content, making them both relevant and, just as importantly, fun. I’ve loved 5 man instances since vanilla, some of my best, most epic experiences were in Stratholme, Scholomance and Shadow Labs. I actually remember those dungeons more fondly than any raid (except Karazhan, of course). My overriding memories of Legion will be Mythic+ 5 man runs.

All in all Legion has been pretty hit and miss. I think I’ll remember the hits more than misses in retrospect, however as an expansion it has been far from perfect. I’d argue that in places the design has been tired, cut and paste, and lacking in real innovation. It’s easy to say that World of Warcraft is thirteen years old and there’s only so many way you can design boss encounters, but I would counter that a lot of really great pop music has been made with just three chords. If I do engage with all the content already available about the new and upcoming Battle for Azeroth Expansion content, I thought I would complete my reflections on Legion with a manifesto of things I would like to see in the next expansion. My next post will consider what could lift a good, but not great, expansion like Legion to the heights of Mists of Pandaria or even Wrath of the Lich King.

According to the NHS there is no conclusive link between stress or diet and gastric or duodenal ulcers. Bollocks, do more research. I once had a boss who said that stress was a good thing, he thrived under stress. He was a low grade moron. He probably meant pressure, we can all raise our game under pressure and it can bring a team together and the best out of individuals. Stress triggers the release of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, into the body, speeding heartbeat and the circulation of blood, mobilizing fat and sugar for fast energy, focusing attention, preparing muscles for action, and more. It generally takes some time for the body to calm down after the stress response has been triggered. Lifesaving as the stress response is, it was meant to solve short-term, life-threatening problems, not extended difficulties such as daily traffic jams or marital problems.

Long term stress is not tolerated well by the body. Common symptoms include anxiety, which can in turn lead to sleeplessness, chronic need to pass urine and ulcers (so sue me!) It can trigger poor decision making due to constant over-thinking and second guessing yourself. Anxiety will cause you to fear future events that may not happen, dread what is “coming next” and fear making mistakes so much you make more. It can create an emotional paralysis that dis-empowers the sufferer from taking positive action. I have a gastric ulcer. I had my first, a duodenal, twenty five years ago at university. It’s fair to say I feel stressed. If this has not been obvious to you, thank you, I have been doing my best to struggle through it.

I find that people a) don’t listen and b) often hear what they want, or expect to hear. So even when you feel like you’ve explained yourself reasonably well you still hear people firing cannon across the bows of your problems, which sail on intact unscathed. If things are pretty good, but not quite right it, wouldn’t it be nice to just sit back accept the minor shortcomings in the situation and make do? When arguments are done to death, with no resolution, wouldn’t it be great to just agree to disagree and let it lie? Yes. I agree that it would, often…most of the time…be better just to let it go.

Getting this advice from people is just like them advising me not to snap back with replies. “Don’t rise to it,” “Just bite your tongue,” or “Count to ten before you answer…” Oh that is such good advice, advice I could never have possibly tried because I am an idiot. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could actually restrain myself. If I bite my tongue I end up with a piece of bitten off tongue, a mouthful of blood and if I waited ten seconds I will have thought of something much more vicious to respond with. Great advice. If I could just let it go and make the best of it then my life would be much happier than it is now. However, I am incapable of doing that – that is my problem. Not letting go is not my problem, not being able to let go is my problem.

I think this is a an essential reason for why people despair. They advise and advise and try to help and their help and advice doesn’t bear fruit. I apparently do not listen and cannot help myself. “You’re on your own.” Yes. I frequently am. I am painfully aware of that. It isn’t easy to be my friend and friendships rarely last as long as I would like. “We’ve all tried…” I know I appreciate the thought “…and all failed,” no one is more disappointed than me, I have been struggling to change, to mitigate, to control my thoughts and the words that boil out of me against my better judgement for more than thirty five years. Sometimes I make myself stressed just keeping the words inside, suppressed. Then they boil out of me anyway, in rage, anguish or despair. “We’re getting closer now to being apart, I kinda knew that people right from the start.”

While I’m on the subject of well worn, paint chipped, hobby horses…

Raiding. Raiding isn’t just for children. I’m 50, I love raiding. I love being part of a raid team. I love building unity and cooperation. Finding people’s strengths and building on them, finding their weaknesses, reassuring them and fostering overcoming them. I have a job, it is not raiding. I do raiding, like all my gaming, exclusively for fun. I don’t do it for gear (helps a bit), I don’t do it for progression (I do want to kill new things frequently though), I don’t do it for kudos (you cleared this tier on Mythic? Really…and what?) When I fuck up at work I don’t expect my boss shout, they’d be an arsehole, I don’t expect them to name and shame in front of the team, I do not expect a badge that mockingly proclaims I messed up – this isn’t motivating, this wouldn’t make me work better. It would make say “Fuck you, you fucking cunt, I’m fucking out of here.”

Given that I would quit a job in this fashion you should think yourself lucky I have never quit a raid like this…recently. I don’t tolerate that kind of bullying and aggression at work. You can bet your bottom dollar I do not tolerate it in a raid. Some people can tolerate it, they expect it in a raid. “Who fucked up?” or words to this affect. “We’ve done this a thousand times, does anyone not know what they should be doing?” you’re an idiot for messing up. “Put a nipple on the nipple. What, it’s a joke it’s for fun,” fuck you. “If we don’t do this we won’t progress, the raid will stagnate and we will lose raiders.” Are you sure? What evidence do you have for this? If this is how you lead your raid and you are not getting the results you want do you think that carrying on exactly as you are, but selecting only your best raiders and barring those that aren’t “pulling their weight” or doing as much HPS/DPS/TPS as you wanted is the answer?

What about trying something more inclusive and friendly that may deliver even better results? How about toning it down, actually no, how about cutting out all the shouty, disappointed, irritated, finger pointing, bullying behaviour? You are leading not dragging people through a raid, show some fucking leadership. Encourage an atmosphere of fun, laughter, mutual respect and camaraderie. People will want to be there, do their best, not because they’ll get shouted at or whispered or have someone crawling up their arse with raid logs telling them they’re doing it wrong, but because everyone else is. Everyone else is and they want to cooperate and get to the shared goal. You might find people are too embarrassed to slack and are consequently highly motivated to do their best with and for people they like and respect.

I’ll tell you something: in this soppy, casual utopia I’m describing people own their own mistakes, own up to them apologise and try harder. Others will commiserate, claim they messed up too, declare everyone could probably do a bit better, claim single individual mistakes could be worked through and we all make them so no big deal. People are less afraid to fail and those who are dispirited by fear of making mistakes and letting everyone down will make less, get better and thrive. If people are performing badly in your raid it may not be their rotation or talent build that is at fault. It may be the raid, the atmosphere and ethos you have created.

And another thing! I get together will friends on a Friday night and run Mythic+. We have chosen to call it Wine Night. The way we do things seems to confuse some people. We do Mythic+, sometimes with pretty high level keys and we do it for fun. We don’t care if we do it before the timer expires, we don’t really care if we get any loot. We.Do.It.For.Fun. I know! It’s difficult to comprehend. We play a game for fun and we do it together in our little group so we don’t have to deal with toxic arseholes who take gaming seriously and have nerd rage if there’s a wipe. Sometimes…we actually collapse into laughter if we fuck up. We usually Leeroy a dungeon, throw ourselves at bosses with gay abandon, run up multi-thousand gold repair bills and burn through runes and potions (we make ourselves) like they cost no money or effort to produc…(oh yeah).

Tactics!? Not on Wine Night. “Shut up Saby!” Well, not the first or second time. After a couple of wipes we will stop and ask “OK, what are the tactics here then?” Like everyone we do not want to wipe on one boss all night. No really balls of evil were funny once, but mostly we just want to have a relaxed fight though more challenging content, if we fail we fail, but we are not trying to wipe and we will revert to discussing tactics, organise and focus to slapping down a troublesome boss if we have to. Mostly we’ll just rock up, the warlock will pull and we muddle through it. Which works a lot more than you’d imagine. Wine is fine, any alcohol is a suitable alternative. However, like wiping and no tactics, drinking is optional. Swearing, however, is fucking compulsory. One of our crew’s superpower is swearing. Fucking A.

On a Friday Night anything goes. It’s chilled it’s relaxed. We do OK. Level 8 is about our level right now. We do do higher, but they can be a bit joyless. We like 8 because our gear has gotten better, we know the dungeons and it presents just enough of a challenge. We do Mythic+ because we like a challenge, we push higher keys all the time because we don’t want to do easy content. We like doing it in our group because no one rages or gives anyone shit for failing. If you don’t like this approach, that’s OK, don’t come along. If you do come along don’t impose your way on us. Vice versa if I come along to one of your runs I will focus hard, listen to tactics, try hard and not pull the boss with my infernal.

I’m too old to play with people who care more about the outcome than they do the people they’re playing with. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the outcome, just that I only care because it’s a shared objective that we’re all working towards. I’d rather not get Ahead of the Curve if all of us can’t get it…together. If you read this and thought it might be about you, you’re wrong. It’s about me.

Well, in lieu of Ahead of the Curve here’s just Curve.

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