Sweating the Small Stuff

Let’s talk some more about pickup groups.  Every time I run them, I’m on the lookout for people who might be a good fit for the guild.  At the very least, I like to keep track of people who know what they’re doing so I can group with them again.  There’s no 5-man heroic content that should really pose a challenge these days – you can start doing heroic with far better gear than was possible when WotLK launched thanks to Trial of the Crusader normal, and very shortly thereafter you should be pulling in tier 8.5 / 9 emblem rewards.

Skill is the only thing that can really screw up a heroic these days, and even then you have to be very lacking in it to cause a wipe.

There is however a middle ground in performance between able to get through a heroic without causing your group members undue stress and this person is someone I’d group with again without question that I see regularly.  This is the my gear level means that I don’t have to care about the small stuff zone, and people who live there drive me nuts.

Failure 101

How many times have you been in a heroic where someone:

These are all little things, and most of them won’t wipe a group.  Some of them directly translate into things you need to know in raids (see my article “FFS, You’ve Been Trained for This!“), but most just piss off your healer.

Still, I like to run heroics like I did when WotLK first launched.

A year ago when tanks had 22k HP and DPS were barely scratching 13 or 14k, you couldn’t afford to be hit by a shadow crash for 12.5k damage.  Today, gear levels allow you to make a few mistakes and still survive, though the danger of others hasn’t changed.  Did you know that Shadow Blast hits for 80% of your maximum HP?  If you have a new 80 healing a well-geared tank, it’s actually harder to heal Shadow Blast today than it was a year ago.

But Why?

At heart is the reason behind the behaviour.  Either you:

Of these, only the second is excusable, and only if you try to analyze and improve your performance.  I’m much more impressed by an undergeared person who says “hey, I just got hit for 14k shadow damage, what was that?” than a full tier 9 DPS who stands in the middle of the hit and expects the healer to compensate.

If you don’t know that you’re doing something wrong, your situational awareness needs some work.  Not noticing that you just lost half your life in one hit or that you’re taking large amounts of periodic damage will not get you far in most raids.

If you know what went wrong and expect someone else to compensate for you, you’re essentially saying “I’m more important than you, so you fix it”.

Even though these mistakes are individually tiny and not worth getting worked up over, every time I see someone make more than one in a run (or in the case of things like not dispelling Hammer of the Righteous on Eadric the same mistake more than once), I mentally move them from the “possible recruit” box to the “average player, not worth thinking about” box.

Part of this comes from being in a stage where I’m trying to build a reputation as a tank and healer – I always feel like I’m in interview mode.  I assume that everyone else is either doing the same, or as I discussed in my last article, is at least trying to not tarnish their reputation.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the “I don’t care” crowd.

Perhaps you have a solid spot in a raid guild right now and don’t feel any need to perform above the level of a faceroller in heroics, but that won’t always be the case.  Some (but admittedly not many) people will mark down your name and choose someone other than you when filling out their group.  You may not even realize that you’re being passed over or why.

What Will They Remember You By?

While most heroics go pretty smoothly these days, the level of communication and chat has plummeted, at least on my server.  There’s a few words exchanged when the group forms related to getting people summoned, sometimes a question as to whether anyone can disenchant after the first boss kill, then a thank-you and goodbye after the run.  There’s very little chat during the run, so the only thing people have to remember you by is your performance and failures.

WoW has always pushed players to gear up, then demonstrate their prowess in that gear.  Given how meter-driven the community tends to be these days, it’s not terribly surprising that DPS would choose to stand in environmental damage and get a few more hits in rather than move and save their healer some mana.  The former is directly measurable, while the latter requires someone to be watching to see that you did things right.  If nobody’s looking, then the only meters that record your action are “damage taken” being a bit lower along with “damage done”.  But how many people do you know that check the damage done meter and say “that dps did amazing damage, but took nearly as many hits as the OT”.  Not many in my experience.

How Do You Measure Yourself?

This comes back to the gearscore / experience / dead weight themes that have appeared in articles over the past month.  Judging an individual’s performance can’t be compressed into a single metric – it has to be a combination of meters, situational awareness, knowledge of mechanics and adaptability.  Meter-driven self-analysis pushes people to focus on tangible performance, even though the intangibles sometimes mean much more in a raid.  You can still take down a raid boss if everyone does 500 less dps because they’re moving around to avoid environmental damage – you can’t if everyone’s dead from standing in a void zone.

When recruiting, it’s not uncommon for the guild to either talk to you after doing a PUG or to run a random heroic with you to get a general feel for how your perform.  Just like a first date, the data from this is rarely reflective of how the person will work out in the long run.  It’s the glimpses you get of someone when they don’t think anyone is watching that are far more telling of the way you approach this game.

Do you roll your eyes when you see people making stupid mistakes?  Does it make you not want to group with them?  Would a negative experience with a player in a PUG before they applied to your guild count against them?  Do you even bother keeping track?  Or is this just the state of WoW today – the cost of having such a large and varied playerbase – and something that everyone has to learn to live with?

Until Next Time