For about 9 months, starting in September of 2009 until June of 2010, I raided with a guild where we didn’t use Vent, TeamSpeak or Mumble. We didn’t use any voice communications at all until maybe the last few weeks I spent in the guild.
When people hear this, their reactions range from “no way, you’re lying” to “… but.. wha.. HOW?!”, particularly when they learn that we went 11/12 ICC 25m HM. All without Vent. (We eventually started using it, as I mentioned, but that was mostly toward the end of my time there, so maybe late April/early May 2009? And even then, it wasn’t every raid.)
So to answer the “how”… It meant a lot of reading of instructions from the raid leader and my role leader (or a lot of typing for me, since I took over as healing lead for a few months in there). It meant strictly watching my timers in my boss mods and making adjustments to the boss mods (particularly DXE) so that I’d remember that THAT noise at THAT time meant “GTFO”. ;) It was key on encounters like Heroic Lady Deathwhisper because I configured the warning sound for Vengeful Shades to be really distinctive and I KNEW upon hearing that noise to watch for the shades spawning around me.
Raiding during that time meant no call-outs on Vent, because there was no Vent to call out on. And in the abusive, toxic environment it was, if you screwed up, even once, you could get kicked from the guild. No joke. I saw it happen more than once while I was there.
That’s all in the past, but that time in my WoW life definitely left its marks on me. Both bad (obviously) and good (not always so apparent).
I’m going to talk a bit about the good marks left on me from that time.
Cut to today: On Mondays (and Wednesdays), I get on the baby pally and raid with Choice of Skywall. Choice is currently working on the Alysrazor encounter as their progression encounter. Apotheosis, where I spend most of my time and energy, has already defeated Alysrazor three times, each kill being cleaner than the last. So I’m very comfortable with the fight at this point.
It was during Monday night’s attempts that I realized two things:
1) I am pretty damn good at that encounter. Like, really good. I don’t think I’ve been this good at an encounter since Dreamwalker. On Choice’s best attempt last night, I came in second on healing (without leaving Gushing Wound ticking on my tank, thank you very much), popped my Aura Mastery whenever I was supposed to and only took two ticks of tornado damage because I bubbled and healed the crap out of my tank whose hatchling was still up but NEARLY dead on that phase. I ate the tornadoes because I knew I had to help the tank live to get the hatchling down. Once Divine Shield wore off, I could still live through a couple of ticks of tornadoes and as long as I didn’t die (I didn’t), I could pull that off to help ensure the killing of the hatchling.
2) I’m not even paying attention to my boss mod timers because I know how to react to everything and I don’t need 5 seconds’ notice to tell me something’s going to happen. At least, not on that fight.
I got to thinking about my timers and then it dawned on me; I almost never look at my timers anymore. Not on that encounter and not on most. I don’t watch the timers on Shannox; I just pay attention to the bleed on the tanks. I don’t watch the timers on Beth’tilac; I know when to jump up or jump down and when to group up. I don’t watch timers on Lord Rhyolith; I just follow my tank around and AOE heal the best I can while watching boss health. I don’t watch timers on Baleroc; I just know that when the shards spawn, that’s generally my cue to swap to a new target. I don’t watch timers on Majordomo Staghelm; I watch his stacks of Adrenaline.
My boss mod timers were an integral part of my playstyle all through TOGC and ICC. There was no way in hell I wouldn’t have died like a noob a million times over if I hadn’t had my timers.
So why am I not watching my timers now? Probably the last time I seriously watched my timers was Heroic Maloriak so I could try to anticipate the Scorching Blasts.
Part of it is that DXE took forever to be updated and Deadly Boss Mod’s timers have always been okay, but not really ON, as far as I can tell. DXE was just… so amazing in ICC and especially toward the end of the expansion, it was just so perfect! I was never led astray by DXE!
But part of it is that I’ve just gotten lazy. I’m listening for calls from my officers in most cases. They’ve been calling things out all expansion so far and, although I was initially resistant to them doing so, since I feel it engenders laziness, I now find that I listen for them to call stuff out. And I’m sure people listen to me when I call stuff out — which I do rarely, but have been doing on Majordomo.
I’m also pre-occupied with leaderish thoughts: I’m thinking “how many battle rezzes does that make?”. I’m watching cooldowns through oRA to make sure people are using them appropriately. I’m wondering if we can pull through or if we should call a wipe. And that’s in addition to healing and not standing in bad.
So with all that floating around in my head, no wonder I’m not watching the timers.
I can’t help but think that if I watched them, if I didn’t have people calling stuff out on Mumble, I would be a lot better off as a player.
I honestly feel as though my player skills have atrophied in the last year that I’ve been back on Vent and Mumble. Granted, all my instincts and skills and knowledge were still intact last June when I first joined Choice to finish out Wrath with them and that content was still what we were raiding at the very start of Apotheosis after 4.0 hit, so I don’t think being on Vent or Mumble with Choice or Apotheosis affected me much until Cataclysm launched.
Since I first set foot in Blackwing Descent on December 28th, in our first 10-man “exploratory” raid, call-outs have happened and we’ve been on Mumble and we’ve talked a great deal throughout encounters.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. I LOVE my guildies. I adore being on Mumble with them and mocking Majik or others. I… okay, I don’t enjoy being mocked in return, but that’s only fair. ;) I love kidding around, joking, laughing. I REALLY like that I can give instructions verbally instead of taking the time to type them. I type close to 90 words per minute and sometimes it’s just LONG to type stuff out.
I don’t like what it’s done to me as a player. I feel as though I’ve lost my edge in terms of using all the information available to me to make a good, fast decision. I think I still have that edge when it comes to reacting to stuff on my screen; I can stop healing my Gushing Wound target on Alysrazor, I can manage not to stand in the Immolation aura on the Spark of Rhyolith and, by golly, I can NAIL those tornadoes or throw a BOP on someone who’s about to die.
I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.
Take last night’s Choice raid as an example. As mentioned, it was Alysrazor and also as mentioned, I am awesome on that fight. So I don’t need to wait to hear “tornadoes coming” or “Gushing Wound, stop healing that tank!” or any of the other audio cues. By already knowing what to do and when, I can really just focus on my job, which is keeping my tank alive, even if he sometimes runs through fire. ;)
I think callouts on progression fights are what blunt me as a player. Once I know the fight, I can (and likely do) tune people out, regardless of what guild I’m playing with. Is that strange that I don’t want the callouts on the progression portion of the fight? And is it also weird that, even if I don’t want callouts, I can see the necessity in certain situations? I mean, we run out of first scorpion phase on Majordomo at 11 stacks of Adrenaline, so right after the 11th Scythe. I call out 9 and 10 and then “go!” and call out for cat “that’s 4, that’s 5, okay, go!” or whatever. (Of course, all bets are off for Searing Seeds scorpion phases. I AM SO BAD at calling to spread if I’m busy watching my Power Aura for Searing Seeds.)
Ultimately, the point of this post is not to preach that not using voice communications means you’re a great player. It’s not to say that using voice communications means you’re a bad player.
The point of this post is to say that I think voice communications blunt me as a player in new content. I think it makes things a lot easier in some ways and so I look for shortcuts like listening for calls instead of watching timers. I also have a great time on Mumble with Apotheosis and I enjoy Choice’s Vent, too, which is always a good thing. Raiding with 24 other people you hardly know and mostly can’t stand is fine if you’re not forced to talk to them or hear their mouth-breathing, but when we started using Vent in that other guild I was in? It was awful.
With Choice and, of course, with Apotheosis, I really do feel like I’m raiding with friends and players I mostly like and respect. So I’ll take the slight blunting of my play for the chance to listen to Geng (of Choice) yell at kids to get off his car. I’ll take that hit on my own performance to listen to other people mock Majik (of Apotheosis) and try to get him killed.
So, having rambled about this for 1800+ words, I’m also going to set up my timers properly on Madrana to make sure they’re working and that I can see them and that they notify me appropriately for various things. Just because I CAN listen for callouts doesn’t mean I SHOULD and so I’m going to make an effort to watch my timers more frequently — which means putting them in an easier spot to see.