Regarding People – Part 1
Hello, everybody – I am Alieth, and this will be my first post. Coincidentally, I am also planning to make this an ongoing series: the purpose, at least in my mind, is to describe the various people I encounter during my journeys in World of Warcraft and to deconstruct them within the confines of their psychological types.
As a preface, the source of my today’s post comes from an Ulduar 10man run we did in order to complete Aeliel’s “Champion of Ulduar” achievement. I had that achievement already and only came to help, but at the start of the run it turned out my microphone wasn’t working properly and I had to restart my PC. However, as my computer has recently been having some issues booting up – an issue that’s been steadily getting worse as the last couple of weeks went by – I couldn’t start Windows and therefore couldn’t log back in. By the time I managed, Aeliel’s raid was finishing up Vezax, and in a case of true serendipity a healer of theirs went offline and I was asked to come help for the last couple of bosses. Being my usual commanding self, I promptly took charge of the raid and started explaining tactics on Ventrilo – something Aeliel hadn’t been doing until then, as she doesn’t like talking on Vent very much (comes from being female, a gender that is routinely not taken seriously by the majority of misogynistic males populating WoW) and organized the raid via typing in the corresponding chat channel.
Now, I absolutely loathe organizing raids via typing. Describing tactics before the encounter starts by typing them up is both inefficient and slow, and trying to issue orders to misbehaving raid members during said encounter is downright impossible, unless they seriously expect me to heal and type at the same time (right, let me just grow a couple of extra arms while I’m at it). Every single PuG I make, and those are usually very successful – I’ll cover this in a later post – has, since the dawn of time, asked the participants to be able to use Ventrilo. It’s worth noting that so did this one, although it was organized by Aeliel and not me. Yet Aeliel herself is vastly more forgiving of people’s flaws than I am, and with nothing important happening on Ventrilo she did not enforce the requirement straight from the start. By the time I joined the raid, it was too late – some people got too used to the lax atmosphere and cared very little for me, from their limited and ignorant point of view a newcomer, telling them to be on Vent as that was where the tactics for the last two bosses were being discussed.
Three people overall refused to join Ventrilo and three explanations were given. I’ll dedicate a separate paragraph to each in order to debate their merits and demerits further, but they were, in no particular order, as follows: 1) “I’m on Vent with my friends and I know all tactics”; 2) “I don’t have Vent”; 3) “cba”. Let’s consider those more carefully.
1) ” I’m on Vent with my friends and I know all tactics”.
The player who used this reason was from a relatively successful guild that has killed Lich King 25HM, a feat less impressive nowadays but still quite beyond the vast majority of the players out there. His type is one that has existed for a long, long while and it represents one of my most despised traits: pure, unadulterated arrogance. There’s a set of players in WoW that believes they know everything there is to know; they treat with disdain anybody who presumes to tell them what to do or who explains how things work, even when they join another player’s PuG. They are a raid leader’s worst nightmare. They are bad enough for normal raid encounters, when the best thing to do is to let them be: if they fail, you get another argument to use when you conclusively prove to them they are intellectually inferior beings the world would be better without; if they don’t fail, you grind your teeth and ignore them for the rest of the raid. And remember: people like them will ALWAYS fail on something or other that could’ve been prevented via lack of arrogance. Just be patient and bide your time.
The troubles begin when you discover such a player in a raid for a limited-time or a limited-attempt raid, where each death or each wipe can be very costly to your raid. This particular example is an extreme case: the “Champion of Ulduar” achievement requires your raid to complete all boss encounters with absolutely nobody dying on any one of them. Suddenly, the annoying arrogant idiot in your raid turns into your worst nemesis on your way to the achievement – by ignoring you in his “I know everything already, you knave, what does someone as lowly as you have to teach somebody as illustrious as me?!” way, this person increases the likelihood of him making a mistake a hundredfold, and by consequence, the likelihood of your raid losing the achievement.
If you happen to identify such players early on in your raid, my advice to you is: get rid of them as fast as possible. They are a destabilizing element in your raid, they will ignore your explanations and, on a challenging encounter, they are much more likely to cost you that hard achievement you’re going for than the rest of your raid combined. If it’s late in the raid and you don’t think you could find a replacement at that point – well, then you’re in trouble, although I believe it’s still better to go without that person. There’s also another consideration: by kicking a player from your raid, you assert your position of command over it and you make an example for other players. Just make sure the person you removed is not in a position to screw you over in any way.
My best advice to potential PuG leaders out there is simple: know the best guilds on your server and be very, very careful if somebody from one of them is asking to join your PuG. Your ideal PuG member is somebody from a middle-tier raiding guild, he’s done most of things out there (but not all!) and he shows some humbleness in his request – and it is just a request – to join your raid. People from top guilds tend to lose their perspective on reality, they frequently believe their opinion to be superior to the raid leader’s and often have no qualms about ignoring your orders in preference of their, “superior” tactic, even when they are the only one attempting to execute it. Every time you encounter somebody from a top guild – and I say this as a member of the best raiding guild on my server – make sure they understand the necessity of following the raid leader’s orders. But be subtle about it!
There’s a massive disclaimer here I have to mention. If this happens, make sure everything you are doing is actually correct and you haven’t just assigned a warlock to heal the tank. If you did, maybe you should listen to that arrogant person from a top raiding guild telling you warlocks cannot heal.
2) “I don’t have Vent”, or its subtype “please, can I do it without logging Vent”.
As long as you are planning to say anything at all (even discuss the weather in Malaysia) on Ventrilo, you don’t want this person in your raid. It doesn’t matter how good his gear is or how impressive his achievements are. In our case, this person who said that should never have been taken into the raid at all, but it was out of my control at the time and by the time I managed to log in, the PuG was way too far into the instance for me to even dream about replacing people. Always, always make sure everyone in your raid is on Vent by the time you make the first pull in the raid instance. Do not show understanding or lenience in any way; Ventrilo is a tiny program, in no way hard to download. There will be some people who will have issues with it (Windows 7 is notorious in this regard), but you can deal with technical problems as they appear. If you are planning to use voice communication to coordinate your raid, people who are not able to use it will only slow you down and make your life harder. You do not want that.
Also, tell everybody you know to get Vent. It’s only the most popular voice communication software, after all.
This is one of the most common excuses for not doing anything, in both WoW and real life. I will write a separate post one day about my problems with people who can’t be bothered making an effort (for a good cause, of course), but in this particular context this person is not your enemy. Somebody who simply doesn’t care to get on Vent (or do anything equivalent that he was supposed to do) is failing to do it out of neither personal convictions, nor physical inability, but simple laziness. You can always negotiate with laziness, just give them an incentive (“joining Vent will make life easier for all of us, including you” is a good start) – or threaten, if incentives fail to do their job (“I will kick you from the raid if you don’t join” might work at the end, but make sure you evaluate just how much the player in question wants to be there in the first place).
A player who “cba” following the raid leader’s instructions (or doing their job in general) is a problem and you have to prevent it from happening if you want your raid to succeed. Make sure you never assign a person who has even once expressed “cba” in your presence about anything a responsible job. A player who ever allows “cba” to be a valid reason not to do the right thing is cannon fodder (at best) or an empty spot (at worst). He is never the player you rely upon to do anything, for he is just as likely to fail you as he is not to. Identify those early on; ideally, if you are serious about making PuG raids, keep a list of those players on your server and never invite them again.
This is all for now. I will keep writing on this subject, regarding raiding and other activities; but for now, remember this. Cataclysm is coming, and from I’ve seen in the beta even 5man heroics are going to be brutally punishing if people in your group belong to any of the aforementioned types. As a simple example, I’ve done a heroic Deadmines run once where a tank didn’t want to listen to “trash mob tactics” (because hey, it’s just trash, let’s just gather them and AoE them down) and we chain wiped miserably. The group finally dissolved, with one idiot accusing me of being the weak link (“fail healer”), completely disregarding common sense. You don’t want this to be your average experience of an early-Cataclysm PuG.