Send me in, Coach!

Posted: July 23, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2
Tags: , ,

I love raid nights.

We only raid three nights a week and even then, only for three hours at go, so I get really excited on the nights we do get to raid.  I love watching members start to log in about 45 minutes before the raid.  I love hearing the chatter in Voicechat as we get closer to our “On The Move” time.  I spend some time making sure I’m mended and stocked up before I head over to our meet-up spot in-game.

As raid leader, it’s also my job to start sending out the group invitations.  We’ve been doing this a while now and I prefer not to micromanage too much, so once my group leaders are in the raid, they do most of the work for me.  I invite the same people to “Group 1” 90% of the time, and once I do that, I go grab a tasty beverage and make myself a quick meal (or the future Mrs. Kendricke and I decide to order out).

In fact, about the only thing I really dislike on raid nights is when I have to tell some members who show up to raid that they can’t raid.

I hate raid nights.

Much of the year, “benching” is a mere formality.  Most members know when they’re likely to be benched, but they show up anyway – because they know there’s still a chance we’ll have an open slot, or because they know we’ll still count them for attendance and raid points purposes if they make themselves avaiable to raid (even if they end up benched).  Much of the time over the past year, I’ve had less than 24 raiders even show up for the beginning of a raid, so there’s no benching at all.

However, over the past month or so, I’ve allowed the ranks to grow a bit.  We’ve brought in new members, some of whom already like to raid. A few members returned about the same time.  Also, a couple of members finally levelled to 80, who would also like to raid.

It can be a really inspiring sight to see 30 or more of your guildmates all in one place, most of them wearing the royal purple and white of our guild cloaks.  It’s not quite as inspiring to leave a few of them behind while the rest of us form up ranks for the night’s raid.

It’s my least favorite part of leading raids.  Logically, I can tell you within 5.4 seconds who I typically want to sit on most raids.  Emotionally, I take minutes to make the call.  I start second guessing my initial reaction.  I start wondering if I really shouldn’t bring Tom instead of Jill, or Harry instead of Jane.

Last night was especially nerve wracking for me.  It was our second real run at the Leviathan in Chamber of Destiny.  We would have had him on Friday, except that there was some confusion over who was wearing fish skins (don’t ask) and as a result the big worm started to hit us with his Corrosive Bile with just 12% of his life left.  It was a terribly demoralizing night for us, but we knew we’d be back last night with a vengeance.

Perhaps because of that determination, I had a total of 32 raiders show up…for 24 raid spots.  That’s right – I had to bench EIGHT guildmates for the raid last night.  I felt each one.  I really did.  Every time I bench someone, I realize there’s a person out there looking at his computer screen crossing his or her fingers hoping I don’t call their name next.  I imagine every one of them as if we were a football team and they’re suited up and ready to play with their parents and even some recruiters in the stands…and I just told them to warm the woodwork.

I knew, just as my raiders knew, that anyone who kills Levithan is now flagged for the biggest, baddest raid zone in Everquest II:  Veeshan’s Peak.  Everyone wants to be in on that run.  I don’t blame them.  Anyone on that kill gets to see what few players on our server – on any server – have seen so far.  It’s a heady proposition, and everyone wants to be in on it.

Yet, when I told my raid force last night that it was time to move out, we left eight members behind.  No matter the kind words they shared, or the apologies I offered, the fact is that I felt horrible for each of those members.  I know they wanted to be on that raid.  I know they wanted to be there for that kill.  As much as they said they were happy for the guild as a whole, I knew that each of them felt a sting of rejection.  How could they not?

For me, it’s always a humbling experience.  It’s a reminder to me that leading raids isn’t all shouting orders and “50 DKP minus” and “Leeroy Jenkins” and “Get ready, Go!”.  For me, a win comes with a price, and often that price is the fact that to prepare for raiding in a casual guild, you have to overstock the pool a bit more than you would in a more “serious” raid guild.  It allows you to keep your casual playstyle as a group, but individually, sometimes it means you’re only a bystander, listening in on voicechat while your guildmates get to participate in something special.

Oh yeah, we downed the Leviathan last night.  We cheered into our microphones in dozens of accented dialects, and whooped and hollered into guild chat.  Even our benched members cheered along with us, sharing with us vicariously since they couldn’t be there to witness it first hand.  They were genuinely happy for us.  How could they not?

I took those 23 other guildmates of mine into Veeshan’s Peak for the first time.  We posted the screenshots this morning on our forums.  Members are excited.  The guild channels are abuzz.

Yet, for all the hype and hyperbole, once the euphoria of the win had worn off, I still found myself feeling badly for those members who I asked to sit out last night.  I wanted them to be there.  I wanted them to share in what we saw.  I wanted them to feel that rush of excitement right along with us – not as spectators, but as players on the field.

Maybe coaches feel this way, too.  Maybe they just never show it, either.  Maybe they know what it’s like to sit while others run.

In any event, we’re hitting Leviathan again on Friday.  I’m already making a list of my priority raiders – the ones I’m refusing to bench.  Guess which eight names are at the top of the list…

  1. Loredena says:

    /quote In any event, we’re hitting Leviathan again on Friday. I’m already making a list of my priority raiders – the ones I’m refusing to bench. Guess which eight names are at the top of the list… /endquote

    That’s the important part right there. If your guildmates know that you make sure everyone gets a shot, they’ll be willing to chance being benched. One of the things that I’ve noticed and hated in prior games and guilds, even as a non-raider myself, was that the same people were ‘benched’ each time — raiding is a gear check, and instead of being helped to GET that gear, they were just consistently dropped off the list. It always struck me as a result that raiding was a very divisive activity in a guild, and has left me rather uninterested in getting involved in it myself. I like your methods better then what I’ve so often seen.

  2. […] this post over at Clockwork Gamer got me to thinking about why raiding in most recent MMOs never excited […]

  3. Rijacki says:

    As I am the only one in the guild playing my class (coercer) and it’s a class that can be “essential” in early raid enounters but some debate the usefulness of in the later ones (even after the recent upgrade in their damage) -and- I am in the league of top attenders (but can’t always make it there 45 mins before OTM on weeknights because that’s 4:15pm my time and I work a full time job), I know that when I’m benched it’s because the debate is being waged whether a coercer is needed for that encounter/situation or whether it can be done without. If we had 2 coercers and it was a matter of swapping me for the other, that wouldn’t be my worry at all.

    It’s not even the concept of “giving everyone a shot” ’cause that’s more in the realm of theory, especially for “undesired” classes. If my class is deemed an “undesired” I would be given a choice of sitting out until there are only 23 desired available or level up (or betray to) a class that is desired. Before the upgrade in coercer damage/abilities, I knew that day was coming. Now… it might be my own insecurity kicking in, but I do worry that the idea a coercer might not be needed is being tested.

  4. Thallian says:

    Dynamic Content adapting to group size changes (even within some limits, would be a marked improvement to developer mandated sizes and the inflexibility they bring. Its almost like they are treating this like a single player game, where your available party size wont change because you control them all.

  5. Zubon says:

    I have started making a point of wishing people luck when I am not needed for the group, or offering the spot if I have other things I can do (as a Hunter in Lord of the Rings, there are always more of us waiting). “No hard feelings.”

  6. […] a much larger roster than we need for raiding, which means I’m often put in a position where I have to bench members who had showed up to […]

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