Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trial Raider Highs and Lows

So far, transitioning from raiding role player to role playing raider has been bumpy.

As with any new social experience, I don't quite know where I fit, and what sort of jokes are alright to tell, and how things work. I'm trying to ride the line between being quiet and getting a good feel for the group, while also being a presence at all.

Too Loud, Too Quiet?

Back in Wrath, I was the non-guilded member of a guild raid group for ICC 10. They advertised for a 'sassy' healer, so I gave them sass in spades- my family was very much a tease-or-be-teased sort of group, I can both dish out and take a good thorough sarcasm and insult-fest. I thought it was all in good fun, and I didn't feel that I was being any more insulting than anyone else- certainly I was only joking around, and I thought I'd expressed to them how impressed I was with their skills and how happy I was to raid with them.

But then, later, I saw that raid leader looking in trade for a different group, for a different guild, months after the previous group had fallen by the wayside. I whispered him to see if he'd consider me for a stand in, and was told that I was highly skilled, but a 'total bitch'.

I was shocked and hurt. I suppose I'd just... misinterpreted the feel of the group. I never meant to hurt anyone's feelings, I thought I was just playing around, like the rest of the group. I've always been very sensitive about the feel of a group, quick to adapt.. But somewhere, apparently, it went horribly wrong, and my sensitivity must have failed me.

After that experience, I've been more careful. Much, much more careful. I have a wicked sense of humor, but I hesitate to use it with anyone I don't know very, very well anymore. Sass is reserved for good friends only- certainly not strangers, certainly not new raid groups I'm trying to impress.

The quiet tack worked alright in Borean Kilted Yaksmen. I developed a self-effacing sense of humor, when little I did speak- and it was justified, considering as I was learning the fights. I was happy to reinforce any positivity, but I didn't trade insults with anyone. Even by the time I left that group, I think I was thought of as the 'shy' druid healer, which is a step up from a 'total bitch'.

But in Ten, 'shy' went to 'silent', and 'silent' wasn't very good. While everyone else bonded, I sat back and quietly did my job, which was alright until it became noticeable- I'd be forgotten, and, as far as group dynamics went, I seemed to have no personality whatsoever. There's not much of a point in raiding with a dedicated group, if you don't consider your fellow raiders to be friends- and vice verse. I spoke up. I got louder. I traded insults, was occasionally raucous, but never forgot the lesson I'd learned- always, always, always more positive than negative.

That's a rule I'm still careful to adhere to. The difference between ten and twenty five is very noticeable. This is also the most well put-together group I've ever raided with- it's a little more serious than any other group. I don't want to be that trial shaman who has 'no personality', but I definitely don't want to be 'that bitch' either. I listen. I watch. When I do try to joke, it's goofy- not mean, ever, even if other people are doing it, which is generally a good rule for a new person in a group anyway! I don't know if I've made much of an impression, but I'd rather play safe and careful than accidentally break the rules I haven't yet learned about how the group works.

Raiding: The Good

I was more than nervous, my first day raiding. We went 6/8- two new bosses from my 4/8! It was then that I discovered that Blizzard's default raid frames, while fine for ten man, were not fine for twenty-five. 'Heal group three!' had me blinking in bewilderment, then frantically memorizing the names of my party, relying on their proximity to tell who I was supposed to be healing, relying on nerve-wracked memory to figure it out. Definitely not ideal.

Hagara was stupidly simple, with Apotheosis' strategy, and easy for me to pick up on how to do it. Blackhorn, my other new boss, was complicated by copious quantities of deck fire, but I managed to make a good showing of myself, in spite of not knowing the fight first hand. Overall, I was incredibly relieved afterwards. I had done well. I hadn't made many mistakes. My numbers weren't at the top, but they were nothing to be ashamed of, either. Several people told me I was doing well, which was incredibly gratifying, considering how shot my nerves were; I ended the raid on a high note, not having any major screw-ups on a fight I hadn't seen before.

That week, they downed heroic Deathwing, and I was on standby, cheering them on. It was joyous!

Raiding: The Ugly

Then, next Tuesday rolled around and the same nerves happened. I'd just installed raid frames and was now healing down at the bottom of my screen instead of to the side in the middle. I was trying to learn what the different dots on Vuhdo meant, even though I'd set them up myself. I had hoped I could maintain at least middling performance, if not my very best; instead, I made every mistake possible.

I didn't heal myself and died. I ressed without waiting to be told. I got the mage killed while ressing myself unauthorized. My numbers sucked. I stood in the bad- I never stand in the bad! I died on Ultraxion for not pushing the button! I got myself killed by deck bombs on Blackhorn, and got hit by his ground cone effect, twice. I didn't drop Spirit Link Totem.

By that point I was almost in tears and I knew I was just off my game, and badly so. I whispered Kurn and said if she wanted to replace me, I was herpaderping in a serious way; but they wanted to see how I would perform on Spine of Deathwing. I was given fairly simple instructions as to when to drop my Spirit Link Totem.

In our two tries and then kill on Spine, I dropped it precisely never.

Every time I was supposed to throw it down, I missed it, and badly. My timers weren't where I was looking, as I tunnel-visioned intensely on my unfamiliar raid frames and danced in and out of sticky fire. By the time it was supposed to have gone down, the time was past and my frazzled brain would groan.

I could have done worse. I could have fallen off the dragon's back. But this didn't make me feel any better.

By raid's end, I wanted to curl up and cry for humiliation and anger. At myself, primarily. I wanted so badly to impress these people and I'd just floundered like an LFR noob through the entire night, proving every negative stereotype about role players who raid in one fell swoop.

But fortunately for me, I hadn't managed to blow it.

Why Trials are Three Weeks, Not One

I was sent the information about not using one's battle res without it being called for- something which I'd neglected to read, icing on my cake of personal failure. It was then that I finally caved to the desire to offer some explanation. I don't like making excuses; my actions should speak for themselves. But I had to say something. I was better than that. I had to tell them I could do better.

I explained that I'd changed my UI and it had messed me up, that I was feeling off my game that night, and that I understood what and where I'd done wrong. I apologized for my poor performance, but resisted the urge to add that if they wanted to kick me, 'I'd understand'- they don't need my 'understanding' to kick me, if they want to do it, they'll do it regardless, and it betrays a deep lack of confidence to say so. Not that I was feeling particularly confident after that fiasco, but ah well.

Instead of being told 'yeah, you're bad, we're asking you to get out now', I was instead told that this is why trials are three weeks; that nerves and off feelings were normal. I was offered help fixing my UI to become useable, since it had been such a problem for me, and I was told that they were bumping the schedule so that I'd be attending Deathwing's fall on Thursday, for the guild's very second kill- so chin up and be ready!

The positivity of the message gave me heart, and I was determined to prove myself, hungry to show I could be competent, that the previous raid day had been a fluke!

First pull on Deathwing and my numbers were not what I was expecting. They weren't godawful, but they were off; I managed to handle the mechanics of the fight well, and didn't do anything deeply unintelligent, which was heartening!

Then I realized I was wearing my elemental gear.


I swapped gear, piped up in the healer channel that I'd been wearing the wrong set, and cracked my knuckles... then settled down to business.

By some miracle, and by healing my face off, I managed to rock the charts and succeed at the mechanics of the fight. Obviously charts aren't everything, but it was a good feeling! We downed him our second go- not bad for the first kill having been the previous week- and I felt absolutely invigorated. I had done well again. If my failures had been noticed, so would this.

Week Three Comes

So now it's been two weeks, and I am officially 8/8- something I never thought to accomplish so easily. I am a little disappointed that I didn't get to be part of the struggle, of the wiping and the fighting for it. But if my trial is extended or turns into an invitation to Raider status, I will use the coming weeks and months to prove myself capable, reliable, and an asset to the team- and I will have found myself a fantastic raid team for Mists of Pandaria and all it will bring.

Let's just hope this week goes better than last!

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