So I read Derevka’s post about Big Crits last night and was instantly hooked. I mean, instantly.
I highly recommend you go read Derevka’s post, but basically, Big Crits is a web series about a real end-game raiding guild in World of Warcraft. There are four episodes so far and I adore it.
It’s awesome for so many reasons, but the primary reason is that it isn’t just about focusing on the game and progression and the encounters. With the inclusion of talking heads (you know, when someone faces the camera and speaks their mind, like they do on The Office or Survivor or The Apprentice), they’re not just showing a guild downing a boss. They’re having their actual guild members talk about their actual raid experiences and it’s all woven really well together.
Who wouldn’t love that? I LOVE talking about my raid experiences (as this blog proves) and I love hearing about cool happenings for others. Plus, the talking head segments are comprised of actual video of the people, not the toons.
I majored in Sociology, so I’ve always been absolutely fascinated by the social interaction in WoW. Don’t get me wrong — I still can’t stand stupid people and I would very much like to wipe them off the face of the planet. But how guilds who raid together gel (or not) and deal with various in-game issues is just awesome to me.
The biggest challenges of being a guild master aren’t really the in-game encounters, although I will admit that getting 15 people to know their Bloodboil rotation sucked, just as getting 25 people not to die from air bursts or fire on Archimonde sucked.
But that wasn’t the big challenge. For me, the toughest thing was knowing when to be a hardass and knowing when to be more understanding. (And also, when to stop talking or typing, because I am the most long-winded person in the world.)
A classic problem any guild faces is the following:
A long-time member who is basically universally adored by all guildies for being so awesome in so many ways is, in fact, one of the worst players we’ve ever seen. He has consistently died on whatever progression fight we’re currently on and his death has had repercussions that lead to a wipe. Say that, I don’t know, four of seven wipes on this one fight can be traced back to a chain of events that began with his death.
What do you do? Do you swap him out for someone on standby? Do you bitch him out and tell him to shape up? Do you warn him at all that if he doesn’t do better, he’s on standby? Honestly, how do you deal with that?
Then, assuming you chose the more diplomatic method of getting his class/role lead to talk to him and apologize while swapping him out, then what? Is he going to leave the guild? Stop raiding? Is he going to be disappointed and sulky? What about the morale of the guild and raid team? If the guy they adore is wiping them (but perhaps they’re not aware of that?) and gets swapped out, are THEY going to be sulky because he got sat out?
Here’s a second scenario that has happened to every single guild:
You are in dire, I mean, DIRE need of a specific class/role, to the point that if the one person who does fill that role isn’t there, you can’t do a whole lot.
So you go recruiting for that particular class to fill that particular role. Granted, it’s much easier in Wrath to swap any kind of DPS for any other kind of DPS, so let’s imagine that what we want is either a moonkin or a retribution paladin because we don’t have Improved Moonkin Form or Swift Retribution in the raid on a regular basis. We have a prot paladin, so we have various blessings and we have Heart of the Crusader. We have an elemental shaman who is occasionally not around, but we generally have Elemental Oath and Totem of Wrath.
But we don’t have that pesky 3% haste buff and everyone is getting pissy about it, plus we don’t have backup for that ever-important 5% spell crit, so if the elemental shaman is out, we’re screwed. So ideally, we want a moonkin, but would take a ret pally.
So we go out recruiting for both.
After three weeks of searching and four nights in that period where casters were without their crit buff and still no one had that 3% haste buff, we finally get an app from a moonkin.
He looks awesome.
He is appropriately geared, gemmed, enchanted, specced and glyphed. He’s moonkin and resto, but also has a tank set. He wasn’t significantly behind you in content, just a boss or two.
So you accept his app, he transfers, gets a ginvite and then you realize, right smack-dab in the middle of the first raid… this guy is a jerk. I mean, really, no question about it, he’s pretty much That Guy that you want to punch in the face. Maybe he’s told a dead baby joke in raid, maybe he yelled profanity at someone who wiped the raid or maybe he’s just overly superior about his skill and is boasting constantly.
Of course, he’s topping damage, CCing appropriately, helping out on decursing, innervating and tossing battle rezzes as needed. In short, he is a freaking excellent player. He’s pretty much the opposite of our first example.
Within a week, you’ve heard about 12 people complaining about this guy, but you’ve killed two new bosses, largely because of him. His role lead has tried, without success, to rein him in a little bit, but he’s still mouthing off in raid, if not in Vent, and it seems like he just doesn’t understand that his comments aren’t appropriate.
So what do you do, as the guild master or member of the officer team? Do you decline his application and remove him from the guild? Do you warn him that the previous action is a possibility if he doesn’t stop being such a jerk? Do you try to appease your guild members individually and asking them to be patient? Do you hold on to the jerk until you get another moonkin or ret pally app? Perhaps more importantly, is being a jerk who helps the raid to excel such a horrible thing after all?
These are the real challenges in running a guild. It’s all about taking actions for the betterment of the guild as a whole while simultaneously trying to achieve goals as a raiding group.
I really think Big Crits is going to bring up these kinds of issues. They’re common problems, but everyone has a different opinion on how to deal with them. This is what is going to make this web series fascinating to me; how others deal with problems I’ve dealt with within this incredibly rich game world.
So go watch Big Crits from Week 1 (they’re up to 4 now)! Let me (and, more importantly, the guildies themselves) know how you liked it. :)