Thursday, March 12, 2009

One of those nights

It was one of those cursed nights when nothing seemed to click, except for the portal from the graveyard in Dragonblight that was thrown up after the final wipe. We all clicked on it promptly to just get the hell out of there, flee the field, pull a blanket over our heads and try to forget. Yeah, the portal worked as it should. In opposition to everything else this evening.

For the first week in ages we hadn’t cleared all of Naxx. Kel’Thuzad was still alive when we called it night a few hours before reset, and I think we were quite shocked. This instance was on farm. This was something we could do almost with our eyes closed, easy content that bores us quite a bit because of the lack of challenge. We’re one of the ten-top-guilds on the servers, working on Sartharion+3. We’re NOT working on KT, it’s supposed to be if not a joke, so not far from it. And now this! How could it happen?

Signs of failure
I called it cursed, but to be honest it’s the wrong way to put it. The word implies that there’s some problem coming from outside, a natural disaster just happening to us. We’re helpless victim, it isn’t our fault. And that’s crap. If the raid doesn’t perform it isn’t because a curse has been put upon us. It’s because we’ve become too certain about ourselves, too unfocused, to careless, yes to be blunt, maybe even too lazy.

The signs of our failure were there in the very first trash pull in the Spider wing. Three aggro-crazy mages (including me, sigh), died on the spot after too careless spamming of aoe. What a start. I felt like the M in the M&S expression invented by Gevlon (Moron&Slacker).

We continued our way through Naxx with annoying, unnecessary deaths, slowing us down a bit. What we had thought would be a quick and easy raid (three wings plus the final two bosses), turned out to be quite painful. Too many errors, even a wipe on trash.
The only exception was the Heigan dance, which went better than usual. Only one player died, and it wasn’t me, yay!

But except for that. Failure. Sapphiron, normally easily oneshotted, took us two tries, and when he went down, a third of the raid was dead, so it definitely wasn’t any speed record. Far from pretty. And then the failure at Kel’Thuzad…. So humiliating that people lacked words to speak about it afterwards, but rather logged off, to sleep and to forget.

How easy it would have been if there was a particular player to blame (preferably not yourself)! Unfortunately there wasn’t. We all had our share in this. I have no other explanation but that we’ve become a bit like fat, sleepy cats, too full to be interested in real rat hunting, after having too much of an easy ride too long. It’s just like what can happen if you climb a mountain. You’re most likely to stumble and fall when you’re going downhills afterwards. That’s the point when your attention will fail.

Dealing with it
So how do you deal with one of those nights afterwards? Normally I think it’s a good thing to analyze every run, think back, see what went wrong, learn from the mistakes and make it better next time. In this case I’m not so sure. We all know how to do this by now. There are no doubts about the strategies. It was just the execution that was poor. We all know it and I don’t think anyone want to have a night like this again. Ever. I doubt we’ll do any in-depth analysis about this, but it’s obvious that we need to find our focus again. If we keep performing like we did this night we’ll run right into an unforgiving wall in Ulduar. And that will hurt.

Personally I recovered pretty quickly. I didn’t sulk and I didn’t log off. Instead I asked our raid leader if he had time to go to OS with me, which had been cleared earlier in the week. I wanted him to show me his ideas about the optimal positioning to minimize movement to avoid fire walls and maximise dps time. I’m a friend of learning by doing, rather than just by looking at pictures and movies. Our next raid on Thursday will be Sarth+3d and I wanted to come prepared. He was happy to help me out, and I felt how I quickly got my energy back, just by focusing on what was lying ahead of us, rather than feeling depressed about what has passed.

This done I went to Dalaran, turned in the token for the T7.5 chest and got my new gear piece enchanted and gemmed, which made me smile a bit. Upgrades DO make you in a better mood, don’t they? I also went to Wyrmrest Temple to turn in the quest for the Heroic Key to the Focusing Iris, which I had been lucky enough to win. And realizing that this quest will lead me to the best-in-game neck next time we down Malygos, my spirits increased even more.

I parked Larísa outside OS, ready for her next raid, with my mind set on that it won’t be a cursed night, but a blessed night, a night to remember. I thought about the inspiring post that I read by Elleiras at Fel Fire the other day, how they more or less unexpectedly did their multi-dragon-kill. It showed me so clearly what raiding is all about. To have the right gear, the skill and a good strategy is important, no doubt. But even more important is to have the right attitude. To have faith, hope and endurance. To perform, even when the odds seem to be going against you.

We’ve had one of those nights. Now it’s time that we move on and show again what we’re capable of.


Spicytuna said...

Every Guild has their bad raid nights. Wiping on farm content sucks, but it happens.

Grats on your neck though! I'm still waiting to get mine :(

Gevlon said...

My beloved inkeeper! How did you managed to miss 2/2 Arcane Subtlety out of 57 arcane points? And if you did, how do you expect surviving AoE?

Arcane Subtlety is the best thing about being arcane. You can do absolutely anything without pulling aggro.

Tessy said...

It seems to me the fat-cat-syndrome is contagious. You don't get one at a time, you get a raid full of them.

Sometimes you manage to stop the descent down into abject failure, to actually pull up and get back on track, sometimes you don't. I wish I knew how to make the former happen.

Doing like you did is good, to stay logged on and do something else to lift your spirits because it sucks to log off and go to bed immediately, feeling like you will never ever want to raid again.

And gratz to the Malygos key!

Tobold said...

I found that there is often an easy explanation for those cursed raids: Nobody wanted to go in the first place! You organize regular raid nights well past the point where anyone is still likely to get a meaningful update, and then nobody is really motivated, and the focus goes down the drain.

Lack of focus is proportional to the number of epics that get disenchanted or just taken "for off spec".

Fulguralis said...

@Tobold - For sure. Diminishing returns applies not only to Blizz's beloved stats. You can't farm forever and expect to stay sharp.

@Larisa - Way to stay positive though. I picked up my Malygos key the other day too. We're not quite to farm yet (it was our first full clear) and I certainly wasn't thinking about some wonky key... So when the raid wanted me to take it as RL for the run, I was like: what the hell IS this. Some quick research made me glad I accepted the gesture :-).

Larísa said...

@Spicytuna: thanks. It was rather unexpected. We don't bid for those items, it's settled by raid roll. And for once I was lucky.

@Gevlon: Hm... I think I followed a suggested talent build from EJ. But it's possible that I could move around a point to lower my threat a bit. The threat recuction is only for arcane spells though. My main AoE spell normally is Blizzard...

@Tessy: thanks. And yeah, if nothing else for your own sake it feels better to try to refocus and straigten out your mind in game and not just log off in a bad mood.

@Tobold: I think you're right. We had an enormous amount of dischants this night. Just a pity we didn't get the final boss who actually would have given us some loot. But at this point I guess people were too pissed off to perform.

@Fulguralis: grats to you too! Now only to find an opportunity to kill Malygos... Looking forward to that neck.

Gevlon said...

@Larísa: why not Arcane explosion?

Dw-redux said...

We have stopped raiding naxx normally for the same reason as Tobold stated. From now on we have lol-alt-raids to naxx.
Focus on the good part of lol; the fun of it. So we rewind, relax and enjoy ourselves while we wait for Ulduar.
We had started wiping on farm content, just like you.
Our first one is tonight, and even though ill be on my main, ill get to maintank this time instead of tanking trash+dps, so itll mostly be new for me too :D
Gotta add new stuff to keep people sharp. if not new content then new speccs or toons.
And just like mr pewpew (on your blogroll) says: "If Blizzards’ solution to a lack of raid content is to slap a band-aid on it and make us do the same shit over and over in harder ways for an imaginary reward, then sorry guys, I’ll be over here levelling my druid. "
This has been the slowest expansion content-wise, and thats a real shame.

Gevlon said...

I've read some about AoE. EJ always suggest the highest sustainable DPS ignoring everything else, considering that the EJ readers can take care of things like aggro.

Blizzard has much higher DPM and acceptable DPS compared to AE. That's why they don't consider 2/2 Subtlety important.

However I found that AE is much safer (I have much worse PuG tanks than you will ever have), so I stick to it, despite it's terrible mana consumption.

While usually you don't need such safety margin in your skilled guild, sometimes it helps to have one. That 1 point allows you to switch to AE on raids like this.

Larísa said...

@Dw-REdux: too few were signed up to do Sarth+drag which was disappointing. On the other hand we did Naxx on 20 (parts of it) and that was great fun, much better than on 25. We did a couple of whipes on Thaddius before getting him - the enrage timer turned out to be tight, but we got him! But yeah, some new conetent really wouldn't hurt.

@Gevlon: Blizzard is recommended and I do like to keep the mobs a bit further away from me rather than pretending to be a rogue with dynamite in his pockets. And the mana consumption - yeah it's scary...

Carra said...

Top 25 guild :)

After each raid, we have a raid debrief where we discuss what went wrong and what we can improve.

And sometimes runs just go bad, there is little you can do about it. I remember for example that we cleared the blackwing lair in the good old days. Yet for a few weeks we had lots of wipes on the second boss. Was supposed to be farming content but at some nights, we just couldn't pass the second boss...

People loose their edge when they do farm content. If enough people loose it, you won't get far. Big fat cats is a nice analogy :)

Amava said...

Strangely enough, I subscribed to your rss feed over a month ago, but it never updated. Then today I get a big pile of posts come in. I'm glad they did, I'm enjoying reading your articles.

This one is a little old, but I figure I'd throw my two cents in anyways.

Some things I do to help recover from a sloppy night for normally effective team:

1) Address the white elephant sitting in the middle of the room. On the forum the next day, I make sure we strike up some conversation. Usually try to encourage people to admit if they know of anything in game or out of game that contributed. If the team just keeps quiet, the negative energy will fester and come back to sting. A simple forum conversation, even if its unrelated to the previous night's sloppiness, helps the team shrug off the bad night and return to the normal effective performance.

2) Set a goal at the beginning of the next raid. People often neglect to clearly communicate shared goals if it seems "obvious". So you're showing up for tonights raid and we all kinda know that the goal is to farm Naxx in about 3 hours or so. Why talk about it, we've been doing the same thing for several weeks now? It is very effective for the leader to state the obvious right at the beginning. "We're here to clear the whole dungeon in three hours. That means we will be moving swiftly, and AFK needs to be managed, a break is scheduled for 10:30. Tanks will be trying to grab larger groups than normal to push the pace, so DPS, please count to three, then focus-fire single-kill the first trash mob before opening up AoE."

It is amazing how a 20 second introductory speech by the RL can change the whole raid. It is not a magic pill that is guaranteed success, but I have found it very effective in all sorts of team environments.

Larísa said...

Very strange. I hope the feed will work alright from now on.
Thanks for the comment. I read and appreciate them all, no matter if they come late.
And I agree - it's a good thing to make a goal for the night - especially in this time of farming. Last raid was the first time we sad that "now we're going to clear Naxx in one night, so let's focus". And it really shaped people up a bit.