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Confessions of a Guild Leader: There’s no I in Team

March 13, 2013 9 comments

Leading a guild with over 400 characters and over 100 unique accounts is a royal pain in the ass. Not that I’m complaining or anything.

But a lot of coordination has fallen to me over the years. Placing players into raid groups, coordinating schedules, listening to players wants/needs/demands, making the right decisions, “Aly we should do this”…. “Aly we shouldn’t do that”… Anything I do as a GL reflects on the guild as a whole. Anything I don’t do….(cue Marcia Brady voice) It’s been Aly, Aly, ALY! What happens when a guild leader needs a break? Take one? See if there’s a guild to come back to? For the record, the longest “break” I ever took was about 2 weeks when I moved across the country. And then I moved back again without taking another break. I’ve played this game since 2007 and never missed a tier since. I’m probably second in the running of Iron Man behind Mavros. Seriously, that dude doesn’t even sleep.

But I’m a control freak. I didn’t really quite realize it until I was forced to share the control with the rest of the guild’s leaders. I realized how much I used the pronoun “I” instead of “we” when talking about leading the guild. I realized that if I didn’t agree with what others wanted to do, we ended up just not doing it. I realized that if I wanted to do something badly enough, without everyone else on board, they would reluctantly support me and we would end up forcing it with disastrous consequences (ahem, starting MOP with 4 raid teams anyone?). I realized that I had to work with MT’s officers, not against them by trying to force them to work with me. I realized Star only wanted what’s best for the guild and was not afraid to stand up for it and convinced me I was wrong. I realized that’s one of the reasons why she’s my best friend in the whole wide world of warcraft.

So now we’re a team. A real team. Star, Reluu and I. We’re all equals in leading MT. To affirm this, we created a baby druid named “alystarreluu” (of COURSE it has to be a druid!) to occupy the default “Guild Master” rank. And no, I’ll never tell whose toon it actually is. The three of us now share a new rank that we called “Guild Mistress”, because after all, chicks rule.

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Categories: Confessions

Confessions of a Leader: What Not To Do

February 25, 2013 3 comments

If anyone out there has any inkling of being a leader in WoW … whether it be Guild Leader or Raid Leader, take it from me. I’ve been there, done that and won the razzberry award. So, dear readers think of this as a guide of things to avoid doing while bumbling your way through your first experience of leading raids or leading a guild.

What NOT to do while Raid Leading

My first leadership experience was raid leading in the now defunct Blood Red Skies guild during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I was an officer/RL in a 25 man raiding environment. Can we say herding cats???

Not Clearly Posting the Rules on Guild Website

There had been some discussions about loot. By discussions I mean drama of epic proportions. It started when a holy pally replaced mail purple shoulders with tier plate and another pally bitched and moaned and said we should not allow players to “replace a purple with a purple” until others with blues can get first shot at it. Sorry mister pally, you were outrolled. That’s the way the loot goes. We then decided to go Loot Council. Several members were dead against it. While others said we should do it to give gear to people who “deserve it more”. One of the rules was if there were pugs in the raid that wanted to roll on something, it defaulted to open rolls. Apparently, I was the only officer that understood the loot rules. One night I couldn’t make the raid due to my cousin’s graduation. Another officer ran the raid in my absence. I logged on just in time to see everyone quit the guild. Apparently several Class Leaders disagreed with how loot was distributed, caused a fuss, and caused the guild to completely fall apart.

Not Being Prepared

I was usually prepared. I was just directionally challenged. But not being prepared spells doom for any potential Raid Leader. All RL’s need to know at least 3 fights ahead of time and how to execute those fights. A good RL will have good knowledge of his group makeup and know what raid CDs are available at any given moment. MT has had several RL’s that did not follow this rule.

Be a Guild Leader at the Same Time

For me, this was a very bad idea. When I inherited GL, I was still leading raids. When I formed MT, I was still leading raids part time. I was burning out. And I sucked at raid leading.

**********************************************

What NOT to do while Guild Leading

I’ve had a lot of experience with this. When I first started out Guild Leading, a lot of my decisions came down to “what would Taki do?” Of course when I thought about “what would Taki do”, I made sure to do just the opposite. /ducks

Ignore your Officers

Well, “ignore” is probably a little too harsh here. I’ve never ignored anyone. But I do know some officers have felt like they haven’t been heard sometimes. It happens when there are differing opinions and those on the opposite ends of said opinions steadfastly believe they’re right. And the GL sometimes has to mediate that. Or if the GL is in the middle of it, other officers have to mediate it. Officers are so important to a guild that it’s crucial that they’re heard. Otherwise there’s a dictatorship.

Be a Dictator

When I was just a lowly peon in Dead Gnomes Float back in the day and Taki was the GL, I used to call him “Sargent Taki” and “the Dictator”. So when you see him sign off some posts as “- The Dictator”, that’s where it comes from. Anyway, he was a dictator when he didn’t have any bonafide Raid Leaders, but it slowly morphed into more of a democracy part way through Kara. In fact, I started clamoring for the dictator to return when his officers were making all the decisions.

MT has never been run as a dictatorship. I’ve had to make a lot of decisions on my own early on, because when we first started out officers were very laid back in supporting roles. Every guild decision was discussed in officer forums, and often put to a vote in the general forums…but in the end it was generally up to me to make the call based on what other officers had to say (which was “whatever you think is best”). It’s hard letting go of that because I have good officers now.

Undermine your Officers or Raid Leaders

When raiding, it was hard to take off the “raid leading” hat and I had to learn to keep my mouth shut and trust my RL’s. If you’re a GL but not a RL, let the RL do their job. Or they’ll get pissed off at you and quit. I’ve been very micro-managey, and I personally have hated that style of management when I was the one being managed. After the shitstorms in Blood Red Skies, it took me a while to even trust my officers and RLs, which is why I’ve always had to keep such a close eye on what was going on.

Treat your Members like Shit

I can say that this has never happened in MT. Your guild is only as good as your members. If you don’t treat them right, they won’t stay. But I have been in other guilds where this is common practice. Leadership only cares about their agendas, and they use, abuse and step on their members to get there. Once you’ve served their purpose, you’re out on your ass wondering what the fuck just happened. Not cool.

Allow Giz to Raid Lead

“OK, everyone know this fight? …..Readycheck….”Ok here we go!”…. splat (<3 Gizmo)

And there you have it. Aly’s guide of what NOT to do while Raid Leading or Guild Leading. I hope you find this guide useful, if not entertaining. Until next time……

/cheers

Categories: Confessions

Confessions of a Guild Leader: Losing Control

January 14, 2013 5 comments

I’ve been told I’m a “control freak” when it comes to leading my guild. I have never been able to work in an environment where I am micromanaged. But I’ve started to become the kind of manager that I have always hated. Really hated.

How do I micromanage? I’ve mainly micromanaged my Raid Leaders. I’ve set up the groups, I’m always posting something that I hope is helpful (but may not be), I’m always online during every raid time to jump in or find replacements if needed.. but I’ve come to realize that sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut and trust my leadership team. Maybe it’s because in the past, I’ve had to do this or things would fall apart. Maybe because I want to feel useful and not one of those managers that just delegates while reaping all the benefits. Either way, I now have a leadership crew where I really don’t have to do that anymore. In fact, it actually hurts us when I do.

We’ve had a very rocky start to the expansion. Our roster exploded with new players and players coming back to the game after long breaks. Because of our bloated roster, we needed multiple Raid Leaders and Officers. I’ve never had so many people in the leadership ranks before, and it was definitely challenging. In addition to myself, we had 5 Raid Officers (for 4 10-man teams), a Bank Officer and 2 PR/Recruitment Officers. In relation to how many active players we had (roughly 40 active raiders + several social members), the ratio of officers to members was about right. Up until MOP, I never had more than 4-5 in the guild leadership.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as I had hoped. Everyone in leadership did have the potential to be good leaders, and had proven themselves to be good leaders. There were some great discussions, lot of good ideas flying around. Then there were some not so great discussions. We started to have very differing opinions on what direction the guild was going in. Nobody was on the same page anymore. Our Officer Forums blew up, and our guild members were starting to feel the tension. Two of the four raid groups had issues getting off the ground with attendance issues and the Raid Leaders were losing control of their raids. We lost some good players and others just stopped playing. After realizing that communicating via officer forums exclusively was causing a lot of misunderstandings and bad feelings, we decided to implement weekly officer meetings in vent, which seemed to help. Just not enough.

I knew something had to be done. If our leadership cracked, it would have very bad repercussions on the guild. I knew that in theory, I picked good people. But in practice, they just couldn’t work together. I wasn’t a dictator, but I was feeling the heat that I needed to make some executive unilateral decisions. As a guild, most groups decided to not try raiding over the holidays. And I decided to take that break to think about things, and make changes for the new year. I was also hoping the break would allow everyone to cool their heads.

While I was on holiday break, it hit the fan. You know the saying that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better? Yep. Fortunately it stayed in a small circle which didn’t really negatively impact the guild.

We have already made improvements for the new year. We now have 3 fewer officers, we consolidated two raid groups into one under a new Raid Leader (well not really new, he’s leading 2 groups now). That group is already coming together better than they had in the previous groups. Raid Leaders are in control, officers are more autonomous, and there is no more negativity in the leadership ranks. That’s not to say that the former officers were negative. It was that the chemistry and cohesion just wasn’t there. And while I’m heartbroken that it played out the way it did, it just couldn’t continue. I’ve already seen the improvements and players now seem happier as well.

Here’s to a great 2013 MT!

/cheers

Categories: Confessions

Confessions of a Raider: Bugs and Tornadoes

November 8, 2012 1 comment

Heart of Fear is what’s going to get me kicked out of my group, specifically the second boss.

I tried out the new HOF raid in LFR. I que’d up as a healer, and much like any other LFR raid, I don’t have a clue what the fuck is going on, and I’m probably standing in shit I shuoldn’t be standing in, but it’s LFR and I can heal through it. Bad habit, yes. But I hate LFR and I just don’t care.

There is one mechanic that seems to pop up in a raid somewhere every expansion. I’ll call it the tornado mechanic, even if it’s not exactly a tornado every time. It’s the mechanic where there’s a bunch of shit flying around that you have to run around and avoid.

The Burning Crusade

Shade of Aran did it in Kara. Not only were we not allowed to move if we’re in the flame wreath, but there’s a big friggin blizzard going on you’re not supposed to stand in.

Zul’jin did it in the original ZA raid. Fuckin’ tornadoes.

Wrath of the Lich King

Heigan Dance. The most evil mechanic EVER INVENTED. That’s one of those fights it took me months to figure out. I was a little slower back then, don’t judge. But when I did figure it out, we had an epic win. We were running it on 10 man in BRS. I was healing on my paladin. Lahno/Goji was tanking on his paladin. I don’t remember who else was there. I do remember 8 raid members dropped by the time he hit 50%. Lahno and I were all that was left. And we beat him down together. Shockadin ftw. Do you know how long that took? How many FRIGGIN DANCES  that I had to not die on? And together, we won as everyone else laughed and yelled “gogo!” in vent. Imagine the shock of everyone when I made it through 10 minutes of dancing. Bahahaha!

Ignis The Furnace Master. Fire tornadoes. His trash was actually worse. Running away from the trash tornadoes was futile. Weeeeeee!!!! as everyone got pinballed around and died.

Cataclysm

Alysrazor can suck it. That is all.

Mists of Pandaria

That second boss in Heart of Fear is going to be the death of me. Everyone is going to laugh at me. Actually “is going to” is the wrong term here. I already get poked fun at. Even Minnax brought up the chicken nugget incident last week. Bah! Lemme alone I hate you all.

Categories: Confessions, Raiding

Confessions of a Guild Leader: Plug and Play

October 25, 2012 1 comment

Leading a sports team has GOT to be easier than this shit. The title of this blog comes from a phrase I used to describe the New England Patriots Defense, back when they had a defense. Pats fans know what I’m talking about. 2001-2004ish. There was one year ( I wanna say 2003? not sure brain is fuzzy), that they had so many injuries you would think that they’d be hosed. But Bill Belichek just plugged in backups, they played and the team never missed a beat.

Any sports team has the “core” players.. you know, the regular lineup. If something happens to one of those players, that’s what the bench is for. But nobody likes the bench. Just ask Tom Brady’s backup.

(who the fuck IS Tom Brady’s backup anyway? Am I hallucinating or did Vinny Testaverde take snaps behind him one year?)

See what I mean? But they ride the bench, hoping for their shot. Teams can do this because their players are under a contract. They can’t just jump up mid-season and say “fuck this if I can’t play here I’m going somewhere else”. Well, they can say that but they can’t actually go anywhere. Not true for players in guilds. Who’s going to join a guild to sit on the bench? That bench has to be made of pure gold and have a free cookie dispenser. In a WoW guild, the bench are our alts and our “floaters” on rotating work schedules.

Which brings me to the dilemma. This xpac is still new. Players are still grinding dailies on their mains. Nobody’s motivated yet to seriously level alts. A player has that proverbial “injury” (RL aggro, call it what you want), and the RL’s are stuck with their thumb up their bum. How do you plug and play when there’s no plug? Except Zal’s thumb.

Everyone wants to raid. I want to make sure everyone raids. People hear the word “bench” and can’t type /gquit fast enough. Then a raid gets canceled because we don’t have a fill in and nobody raids.

(“nobody” is a relative term. It’s more like, one group doesn’t raid while another group plugs holes with players from the first group that got canceled for the week).

It’s been my experience when we had 3 groups in Cataclysm that there were plenty of opportunities for people on the “bench” to raid. Just ask our resident floater Haemic. He was raiding almost every week in one group or another.

So we need plugs so we can play. We don’t like the temporary alternatives. Whose bright idea was it to start off with 4 groups anyway? O wait….

Categories: Confessions

Confessions of a Guild Leader: Herding Cats

October 3, 2012 2 comments

My guild’s roster hit the 400 mark last night. This prompted widespread panic in my brain of… OMG how the fuck did that happen?! Big guilds scare me. They scare me because with so many different people, there are going to be a lot of different styles, personalities and opinions. However I do enjoy the social aspect so much that yes, I will take that risk of potential drama because I am playing a game with people whose company I enjoy.

Masochistic Tendencies is not one of those gigantic social-only guilds. I think we have a niche of being a social raiding guild. What do I mean by a social raiding guild? I mean players stay on and play. They don’t just log in to raid, then immediately log out. (Vent is another story though!) We improve our characters by running 5 mans. Some of us have way too much time on our hands and play on the farm, or level alts. Really? After that disgusting grind from 85-90 you fools want to do that AGAIN??! That’s right, Masochistic Tendencies isn’t just a name, it’s a way of life.

We are also a fairly serious raiding guild. There are varying degrees of “serious” here. If a group’s focus is to clear normals pre-nerf, then they have to be serious about meeting that goal. If a group’s focus is to at least kill one boss, then they need their game face on to do that. If a group’s focus is to clear normals and heroics, then there’s another level of “seriousness”. That’s the beauty of having so many players – we can run multiple groups of varying intensity to suit everyone’s play style (for the most part!).

I’ll tell you though… coordinating 4 raiding groups? Royal pain in the ass. Between fitting everyone’s schedules, styles and level of commitment, class balance went right out the window. I love how Blizzard has moved more toward “bring the player not the class” in recent expansions. I’m holding them to that! Yes, it’s going to suck when 5 out of 10 people are rolling on the same bloody tier token. But that’s what happens when the guild’s raiders are all druids, mages and rogues. Do your dailies and collect those lucky charms! Free rolls! Team Moist is using loot council… fun times in the loot channel when that token drops and it’s a dogfight between 2 druids, a rogue, a mage and a DK. Even more fun when one of the druids and the mage are married to each other. Someone’s not getting any nookie that night.

Then there are those players that disappeared for almost two expansions and are now back. And want to raid! Yay! Ok tear up that spreadsheet and start from scratch! I must have started from scratch 3 or 4 times. Oh and the main changes. We’re at dps critical mass and two healers switch to dps. Delete that spreadsheet! Then someone’s work schedule changes. /headdesk

I am happy to say, that by the end of this week, everyone in the guild will know who’s raiding when and with whom. I’d love to keep shuffling to a minimum if I can. But it’s going to happen, someone’s real life will get in the way, schedules will change, people will come and go. And we deal with it!

All I know is I can’t wait until we’re ready to raid!

 

Categories: Confessions

If Only…

September 12, 2012 6 comments

This blog post was inspired by WoWinsider’s breakfast topic, which was inspired by Blog Azeroth’s question this week. If you could have any WoW spell in real life, what would it be?

There are so many “damn that would be nice to have” spells. I would love to be able to turn into a cat and chase my cats around my apartment. I’d love to have a demonic pet setting people I don’t like on fire. I’d love to turn invisible and sneak up on people. I’d love to be able to mind control people (cast it on my boss “you will give me a raise and a window”).  I would love to resurrect the dead. Although, if they’ve been dead for a while, they may not be too pretty and they’d smell terrible. Yeah, giving human earthlings a resurrection spell would create our own race of forsaken. That can’t be good. Though I’d love to see my Nana and Grampy again. Not in the dust and bones stinky sense, but they way they were before they passed away.

But those are all nice to have. The one spell I would give my right arm for is teleportation. I live on one side of the country, while my life is on the other. As much as my current job irritates me sometimes, it’s the best job that ever happened to me. They’ve given me steady raises since I moved to AZ 2 years ago. They’re talking about more. They promoted me. They love me here. I’ve never felt so respected and appreciated in a job before. It’s the polar opposite of the toxic hell of my last job at MIT. The problem is everyone I love (aside from my mom who’s here) is in Boston.  My family. My friends. The crazy malaka that I’ve had such a roller coaster ride with over the past 8 years. Oh Yanni, that foo got me started on this game. He’s been my rock, my best friend. When I got divorced in 2004 and moved back to Boston from a stint in WV, he was there and I pushed him away. My head was a mess, my life was a mess, I wasn’t ready and I drove him away.

My decision to move to AZ was purely for my own sanity. My job at MIT was making me so miserable that I drove everyone in my life out. I scared people, my family, my friends with my volatility. I really take full responsibility for the demise of that relationship. Two years later, in 2010, I made the move to AZ. The less I thought about him, the easier it would be. In my mind, it was a dead issue and I needed to move on. And I was happy again, in the sunshine, and finally in a place where I didn’t dread waking up and having to work. Sometimes I do, but it’s not the feeling where “I’d rather be on the street than work here” like I did at MIT.

But I saw him again last fall and this past summer. The time I spent in Boston last October and this past July confirmed that’s where my heart is, and that’s where I belong. Second chances are rarer than a blue moon. And I’m getting a second chance. I can’t fuck it up.

I feel like I’m torn in half. He can’t come to AZ. I know this. I don’t have the resources to move back right now, and the people here are making it more and more difficult for me to leave. There’s a huge hole in my heart. A mage portal would be nice. Real nice. If only there were portals in every city connecting to every city. If only it were as easy as constructing the portals in the Twilight Highlands where all I need are some water elemental cores and a pile of muck.

If only…

Categories: Confessions
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