Monday, July 15, 2013

Cruel to be Kind

As has been mentioned previously, being a GM can be a pretty thankless task.

What can be particularly difficult to grasp, especially if you're not a GM, is why certain decisions are made, especially if (to you at least) there does not immediately seem to be a huge amount of logic to said choices. This morning's post is prompted by another personal recollection (I keep dreaming about bad GM choices, this is clearly a sign) and the understanding that sometimes, in order to allow your Guild to keep functioning, everybody needs to be prepared to sacrifice for the greater good.


End game progression is a harsh mistress, even in the lowly pools of Normal 10 Mans. The closer you get to an end boss, the more it begins to matter what happens. 'Completing' this part of the game may not come with a 'Stage Complete' message or a life bonus, but for most content it becomes a badge of honour, and certainly for those who are alive at the end a small pile of bragging rights. For a Guild of our size, the last boss of any tier used to be where the good weapons came from, and that was the case for both Deathwing and Arthas. As a result, once those two guys began to become distinct possibilities, certain mentalities changed.

In both expansions, the composition of our 10 mans were very similar: core players, people who had been with myself and Mr Alt since Vanilla, with a floating secondary group of people who would move in and out of the frame depending on real-life commitments. In both expansions, the bulk of the leg-work, the actually getting to the end boss bit would be done by pretty much the same group who began the Tier. However, once we'd approach the end boss, that would change. People who had previously paid little or no interest in raiding suddenly became interested, and would begin signing. As we have a policy in game to try include as many people as possible in our raiding if they come suitably prepared, suddenly I found myself having to turn people away, and in some cases actually running a second group.

I never killed Arthas the first time our Guild did. The same was true for Deathwing, and indeed for the Twin Emperors when we completed the Vaults on Normal (which is as far as we've done current content at correct level.) On those nights, when we had extra people and there was going to be an issue with who went, I took the decision to deliberately bench myself. As a dps, I could almost certainly guarantee there would be someone who could be taken who bought better utility to the raid composition than a Hunter did. More importantly however, if the GM was prepared to sit out the Guild's Boss Kill (and the Guild's achievement as a result) I hoped this would make other people consider sitting out with me and cheering from the sidelines. Sometimes, it isn't about the same people getting a kill, its the RIGHT people (which means the best chance of coming away with the goods.)

Doing what is best for your Guild, to keep a disparate group of people motivated and inspired, is bloody hard work. Being first has never bothered me. Nothing motivates everyone better and quicker than an end boss kill and the chance to have said encounter 'on farm.' If that means I have to wait a month before that happens, then so be it, because I think everybody in a Guild from the boss woman downwards sometimes has to take one for the team occasionally to allow everyone to move forward. Often, it can be hard to see if you're not the one organising things why certain decisions are taken: I've lost count of the times I've told people they're not being singled out, it isn't their fault they're not being taken, I'm just trying to be fair to everyone.

Of course, this isn't true of every guild, and your experience may vary. However, a kill can be just as satisfying, often more so, when you're NOT the one doing it, especially when it is your guild making the progress. This is certainly true for me, though it occurs to me that I might be the exception and not the rule...


Reliq said...

As a GM who missed first guild kills for both the Spirit Kings in MSV (the one fight I was really looking forward to), Sha Of Whatshisface in ToES, I agree with you 100%.

My opinion has always been, when it comes to progression kills (whatever your progression is), the guild comes first. Everyone will get their first kill at some point.


Aralosseien said...

For our guild (when we were still raiding) we asked people if they could commit to two nights a week, every week, and the team was built around those. Those that couldn't commit were welcome to sign up it was always made clear that priority went to those who had made the commitment, regardless of the comparative gear/skill levels. It meant that even when people got interested in the big loot we never had to sub a core raider out. I'm sorry you've had to do that in the past, sounds like an awful dilemma!

Anonymous said...

Very good post - I recognize it from a guild I have been in the past, there being benched meant that you might never get that last kill (for me that was LK) ever, as they just went directly for hardmode after the final bosskill.
I am however now part of a raidteam and our GM makes rotations based on who is available when and then you can swap days if it don't fit/you have other plans/etc. So that works out fine.
We have a core of raiders and sometimes we swap spots for bosses based on loot needs. :) I.e. our dps warrior that never got weapons, lol he had some T14 weapons still when we did T15 hc bosses. He was majorly frustrated :) Got his shinys now tho, but for him it took ages to get them. Then swapping in to get the possibility to both use coin and hope the loot-gods are kind. 
It’s a big dilemma tho, who to kick out of the core raiders so the on-and-off-“raiders” can come in and get the first kill. Specially if you work hard to get where you are… I know I would have hated to be replaced by someone I know will be gone after a few weeks.. Might aswell get the on-off raiders in on the second kill ;)

-Class priest, Turalyon EU-

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit disturbed that your raiders/guildies would ALLOW you to sit for the first kill of an end boss EVER, let alone CONSISTENTLY.

Whether there's significant (or any) glory in being in the group that gets it done the first time, the RL/GM absolutely deserves to be there as long as they aren't actively holding the group back from a kill.

In the same way that I'll pass on loot to main group raiders when I'm running on an alt for whatever reason (a break for me from my main or if they need a different buff), I'd sit myself before letting the RL/GM sit out. That's just horribly bad form. The primay one who got you there deserves to BE there.

sprowt said...

We have a similar method ... and groupings. We have a core who is nearly always there, and "floaters" who signs as and when they can, depending on real life commitments or current enthusiasm for the game. We also have the idea that, if someone signs up but we have to bench them, they get first dibs on the next week, if they want it.

However, I also generally put up the next raid on the calendar near the end of the raid we're on, and announce as such to the current team - which means more often than not those who put the effort in have a better chance of getting picked for the next week, as it's first come first served ... with an eye on raid composition, etc.

Unfortunately, we're not in the position at the moment where having too many raiders is a problem - each week we're just about scraping through, and I certainly don't expect it to get any better over summer.