Learning and Growing: Part 2 – Learning to Lead

Welcome to the second post in this series, where I’ve been reflecting a bit on how certain things have shaped my WoW career. Last time I covered how switching guilds brought about a big change in both my level of play, and my understanding of the game. Most of today’s post will be about what has sort of grown out of that. So without further rambling…

*** To be fair, things have gone all topsy-turvy since I started writing this series (as you may have noticed in other posts), I’m writing this series from a at-the-time perspective though, just to explain why things may not totally seem to mesh. ***

So now I’m an officer in my guild. I’m very happy that the GM and other officers have that much faith in me. I’m the only one of our current officer corp that didn’t play in Vanilla WoW. I’m also the only one without previous officer experience. Now granted, we’re an “adult” guild (I think our youngest member is 23ish, most of us are in our 30s), so generally there’s not a ton of drama to deal with, people generally get along, etc. Honestly, most of what I do is occasionally move something around in the Guild Bank so that someone can get it, invite alts, and do a little recruiting. At the same time I’ve also seen what it takes to make a guild work. The secret? Lots of communication. That’s the biggest thing. You have to make sure that all of the officers are on the same page. And you also have to remember that sometimes something that seems obvious to you as the officers isn’t to the general membership of the guild. That’s another thing I learned. Try and understand the other point of view. A situation could look remarkably different depending on what info you have. The officers might have a person who appears to be a random PuGger along on a run, but really it’s someone they’re trying to recruit. That might affect how certain things are dealt with. Keep that in mind if the officers are acting strangely sometimes (or they might just be strange people too, you never know), and if you’re confused, ask them in a whisper, or other private channel. Likewise, as an officer, you have to understand that sometimes a quick whisper to someone might avert what could become something more. Like I mentioned above, communicate, but use appropriate channels, airing something in the wrong place can be just as bad as doing nothing, sometimes worse.

The other thing I’ve gotten involved in and started learning is raid leading. Sure, sounds simple, or so I though, I mean yeah, you need to have a better grasp of the strats for the fights, and understand who can do what a little better than everyone else, but no biggie right? Well, sorta…

Let me explain how this happened. We have one primary raid leader in our guild, he’s great, in fact he writes a blog about our misadventures titled Casual Raid Leader, but there’s only one of him, and in an effort to try and make his life a little less hectic ( he has a family as well as a job, and playing WoW) he asked for volunteers to help. So here comes good ol’ me, always trying to be helpful when I can, “Sure, I’ll give it a shot, wadda ya need me to do?” Initially it was just paying attention, trying to understand what was being done when, and why it was being done. Then it was setting up the groups, which isn’t nearly as important now as it used to be by my understanding, and honestly I find pretty easy in 10-man. All I really try to do is split people up so that I don’t have more than one of a class in a group, unless I’ve got 3 or more (yes it happens in my guild, we’ve had as many as 5 druids on a 10-man run at times, battle-rez FTW!). Then you split everyone else up however they fit, I usually try to have the tanks in the same group as their respective healer, but that’s just for convenience, I don’t know how everyone sets up their UIs… Maybe try and have melee all in the same group, but we generally run heavy on the ranged. I split people up into teams too, if they’re going to be dealing with something specific. I also ended up doing invites fairly often, though again, nothing tremendously important, or complicated.

So I set up groups a few times, and generally tried paying attention, then one Tuesday evening about 25 minutes before raid I’m sitting in Vent, just chilling before the raid, and Starman pops in.

Starman – “You ready tonight?”

Me – “Uh, yeah, I guess, for what?”

Starman – “I want you to lead up through XT-002 tonight.”

Me – “Ok, sure, I can handle that I think.”

My Brain – “Oh, SHIT, what the hell have you gotten yourself into? You dumb-ass, you shoulda been lookin at strats instead of spec and rotation stuff for yourself. You’re gonna look like an idiot!” And so the internal conversation in my head raged until we actually got started…

Well, in reality, it went fairly well, everything in the Siege went down fairly easily, including Ignis, who we use a bit of an unconventional strat for, and we did it with a tank who hadn’t done it before. We got up to the gates, and I happily passed lead back to Starman, and went back to being my normal DPSing self.

The next week went much the same, nothing really surprising, just along we went. Then came week 3, Monday night. We had a ‘non-progression’ run scheduled, some of us had started working on the 8-man Naxx achievement a while back, and we were going to try and work on it some more. Starman wasn’t really interested, so our GM was going to lead it. Me, well I was just going along to shoot stuff, that’s what I do. Now, it’s about 1:30 in the afternoon, and I pop into the message board real quick. I have a PM saying the GM got held over at work, and isn’t going to be able to make it, could I take over. “Sure, should be fine”, I reply, thinking I should have time that evening before things to brush up on strats, etc (I hadn’t paid too much attention in Naxx if it wasn’t my job while actually running it). Then reality struck again. Something blew up at work, and I had to take off and run and deal with that. I ended up getting home with like an hour to sit down, eat, and whatever else before raid time. Oh, and the GM was supposed to be a healer for the run, so now I’m short a healer, and while people in the run have alts that could do the job, this is an achievement run, and they want the achievement on certain toons. So after getting everyone together, we had one person switch their off-spec from Balance to Resto, and we were off. We started in Spider, because, well we just did, we rolled on through, cleared that, and moved on to Plague, and kept sailing smooth. Military came next, but we didn’t do Four Horsemen, it’s not part of the achievement, and honestly I think would probably be almost impossible with only 8. On we went to Construct, Patch went down without a hitch, and we got a couple shots in on Grob before it was time to call it a night. Not a record-breaking night, but excellent progress. To be fair I really can’t take credit, I had a good bunch of players, I just pointed them and turned them loose. But it felt good, thing had gone well, I was quite happy with the run.

Onward to Tuesday night, after a mini-patch… As I’m trying to get invites done, Starman (and his wife) are having all kinds of issues connecting, after a few minutes of this, he tells me to just fill in the spots, and roll. So I grab 2 out of the guild pool, and get ready to start on Flame Leviathon, mind you I’m semi-paniced, I’ve never actually lead in Ulduar by myself, there’s always been someone there to remind me of anything I forget. But I’m just about done getting vehicles assigned, and suddenly the connection issues resolve themselves. People start falling over each-other offering to drop so that the other 2 can some. After a few minutes of chaos we finally get things sorted out and we take off, FL goes down nicely, and we set up for XT. Suddenly I realize that in the chaotic switching before FL I made a boo-boo. I only have 2 healers, and to boot there’s a guy new to the guild healing as a holy pally, and then there’s an alt druid. At this time it’s also become apparent that there are stability issues in connecting to the game this particular evening, so I really don’t want to try and have anyone switch, or change out a spot or anything. So we decide to try and 2-healer it. It didn’t go perfectly, but it actually went well enough, but after that, things got entirely too bad with connections, loading screens and the like, and we had to call the run for the night.

Week 3:  So far probably the highlight, we stormed through FL, got a little rocky on XT going for the speed kill (didn’t happen, but he went down), took out Kologarn easily, and Auryia as well.  Freya followed, and I think we put a shot or 2 in on Thorim before we called it a night, not bad really for 2-1/2 hours with a couple people who didn’t really know the fights.  This week had kind of a sour twist to it though as I encountered something while setting up invites for the Weds night run.  I asked in guild, and got a response from a guy who’s a good friend, but hasn’t really been able to run much since Naxx due to family stuff.  It felt terrible having to tell him he wasn’t coming that night.  I know the guy, he would have tried his heart out, but between lack of gear and rust, he would have ended up holding down the floor a good bit, and would have gotten frustrated.  I told him to please sign up for the Tuesday runs, as those are the easier bosses, and it would help him out a bit more, get him back in the swing of things.  But damn, it really sucked to have to say that to someone who you know and consider a friend.  That’s probably the hardest thing I’ve encountered yet as a raid leader.


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