Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

I tend to be a bit slower to comment publicly on news – especially contentious news. It’s not that I don’t have opinions. But especially when my reactions are strong ones, I usually want to sit on them for a bit, sift through why I am reacting so strongly, and only then can I express that reaction coherently.

When word of the upcoming T12 nerfs (to both normal and heroic modes) hit, I was spitting mad. I hit Twitter in a frenzy, posted on my guild forums, logged in to commiserate with my guildies. My nerd rage was at an all-time high. I thought it was unfair, I felt cheated – and didn’t understand why they would nerf content that is, to me, “mid-tier.”

Of course, I recognize that we’re missing some key pieces of info. We don’t know when T13 is coming out, how long it will be on the PTR and exactly when this tier will become obsolete. I was on vacation when T12 came out and so to me, it’s had a run from July to September. Two and a half months feels really short. I didn’t understand why they’d sweep the proverbial tier rug out from under our feet.

But do you want to know the real, naked and honest truth? I was upset because we were late, and I knew it, and I hated to admit it even to myself.

You’re seldom going to see a blog post where someone admits (especially a guild leader) that their progression just hasn’t been going the way they’d imagined. Granted, I don’t usually say much about my raid team anyhow; kill shots aren’t exciting for anyone but the people in them. When we achieve a particularly awesome kill I might write about and exult in it a bit (I was so proud when we downed Heroic Lich King, nothing could have prevented me from writing about that). This is the other side of that coin; the dirty, reluctant and secretive side. The uncertainty, the disappointment – yes, dare I say, even shame and guilt. I was the guild leader of a raiding guild that hadn’t killed a new boss in a month. That is the secret that I wouldn’t write about. It was eating away at me.

There are certain acknowledged risks that go along with pushing that big red button.

The Green-Eyed Monster

I could go into all the reasons (excuses) why BT was stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels, although it’s a timorous beast. Who can say exactly why a raid team may stall? It’s seldom any one reason. Was it the roster changes? Scheduling conflicts? Lack of interest? It’s almost impossible to pinpoint just one thing, and anyway, excuses are tedious and boring. But you start to doubt yourself, and you feel others’ doubt beginning to build, too. Please don’t mistake me. I am incredibly proud of my team and the people on it. The other reason I didn’t want to write this was because I never wanted to make them feel bad, or as if I had lost faith in them. Quite a few guildies read my blog. To write about how we’d been struggling felt like it would be a betrayal, and incredibly demoralizing. It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your guild leader expresses doubt about you, wouldn’t you start to doubt yourself too?

Yet it’s been agonizing, and I know it’s been hard on all of us. It got to the point where I hated even opening Twitter, hated to hear about the successes of others, each new kill announcement feeling like it was aimed specifically at me, shouting, “We killed this and YOU DIDN’T.”

It’s not a pleasant feeling. It’s even worse feeling like your own self-doubts and frustrations are making you act like the worst version of yourself. I’ve always been (or tried to be) the kind of person who is honestly happy for the successes of others. In order to do that, you need to come from a strong sense of self. You can’t let your confidence be shaken, nor start to feel like others’ successes are a reflection of you. They aren’t, unless you let them be.

But the fact is, we’d still only downed Heroic Shannox after a month of work on other heroic bosses. It eats away at a person, and it eats away at a guild, slowly eroding the confidence that lets you move on to other kills. The longer you’re there, the deeper you become mired.

When the nerfs were announced, I read “nerf” and what I heard was “failure.”

“These nerfs are for you, because you haven’t downed the content in the allotted time frame. You are the intended audience and you need them.” I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. Whether you are working your way through normal or heroic mode raids, it’s hard not to feel as if nerfed content is a pronouncement on you. For me, I found myself wondering, what is a heroic raid guild that doesn’t kill heroic bosses? I had to think long and hard about this, and the answer I came up with is that it’s a heroic raiding guild that could, perhaps, at this time – benefit from some nerfs.

Whatever the reasons – and I don’t want to delve into them here, because our group is in the process of stabilizing once more – we’ve really struggled to move through this tier. We mowed over the normal modes for the most part and had great momentum going into heroics. It’s as if we were caught somewhere in the middle; quite strong for normals, but maybe not quite strong enough for all of the heroics. So, I was immediately angry, and then slowly started to drift towards acceptance. As I read some thoughts that other people had on the subject, I realized that I have to focus on what is important: the long-term strength and success of the team. We faltered somewhat in T11, not completing the heroic tier (something we’d not failed to do since Ulduar), and that was a blow to morale. We’d hoped to make a strong start in Firelands (and I think we did) but it’s tough to predict just what is going to happen – who is going to leave, who is going to be out of town, whatever. I’m not looking to point fingers at my people. The funny thing is, the guild has changed completely. It’s not the same guild it was even a year ago. Many of our long-term members stopped raiding, replaced by new people who – no matter how awesome – need time to click, and build a new team.

This whole process has helped me to realize some truths.

Sometimes it’s better to pick yourself up and build something for the future. So we weren’t on the bleeding edge of content for this tier. It’s a fact. But so what? Tons of guilds haven’t even made it this far – they’ve folded, collapsed, or exploded. We still have a full raid group. We’re still here. We’ve consistently cleared through Ragnaros for many weeks in a row, and our raid has been gearing up nicely as a result.

Success is all relative. A week ago, I was upset because we couldn’t move past 1/7 heroics. None of us joined this guild to only kill 1/7 heroics. The announcement of the nerfs and other changes we’ve been making really galvanized the team last night and we had a breakthrough of sorts – finally pushing through to kill Heroic Alysrazor. Nerfs or no nerfs, we’re going into next week with one more kill under our belts. That feels good, it feels like progress, which is why I play this game. Will I be puffed up and brag about our progress post-nerf? Probably not, because I will know that these kills will be much easier than kills made while the content was still at full-strength. But there’s a difference between not boasting and not being proud to complete things at all. These nerfs may be just what we need to continue pushing and have challenges to face leading up to T13 – and when T13 does come, we’ll have all the gear we can muster, and the experience of this tier, and we’ll be ready for it.

This time around, they nerfed the content when we were 28% of the way through heroics (or 42%, if Domo goes well this week). If next tier they pull the “to the ground, baby” move again, I’ll consider it a success if we are further through that tier than we were this one. Measurable, steady improvement is highly underrated. I’m still proud of my team and what we have accomplished, and what I know we will accomplish in the future. Besides that – we can’t be the only group that didn’t go extremely far. There has be a good reason for Blizzard to be nerfing the content before it’s truly through. Maybe guilds that only want to do normals couldn’t get as far in them as they would have liked. Maybe, with reduced raid schedules, not everyone is able to go through the whole thing. Obviously, Blizzard thinks so, and they’re taking this action as a result. It’s going to benefit my guild, and I’m okay with admitting that. It turns out that maybe – if you shed light on such a secret – it might not be so shameful after all.

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Comments on: "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Nerfs" (25)

  1. Great post Vid. /hug I think a LOT of people are so upset about these nerfs because they feel the same as you do…that its an indication of failure. That the team “wasn’t good enough” and so here’s some pity buffs. But I think the end result is what’s more important, and if it’s beneficial – and perhaps, a little needed – then it’s probably for the best, all things considered. You’ve got the right idea – think positive! :D

  2. It’s a brave thing to say, Vid, and well said. The most honest post I’ve seen about the nerfs yet.

    There’s a Japanese proverb: fall down seven times, stand up eight.

    Here’s to you and BT standing up again!

  3. In all honesty, Vid, some of the greatest comments I get are from people who really appreciate the frankness of my posts with regards to my guild and its struggles. Everyone knows that leading a guild isn’t easy, but almost no one takes the time to talk about why, and their thoughts in those really tough times. But for me, I find it cleansing and reflective. And it’s honestly only made me a calmer person in raids.

    I guess the point that I’m trying to get to is that I’m glad that you shared this leadership perspective, because it’s something that goes through every leader’s mind, whether they are on the top of the progression tree or the bottom. I’ve been in those tiers where it’s so hard not to feel like you’re in a never ending loop of recruitment – you need to progress to recruit, but you need to recruit to progress. So much stress tied up into something so small. I know exactly what you feel/felt. I’ve been there. And it’s hard to admit to yourself, and even harder to admit to everyone else. But I’m very glad that you did.

    Good Luck! And keep in mind that a lot of time there can be a lot of solace from others who have been there, or are currently there, and just need the nudge to realize “OMG This is ME”. /hug

    • Beru, you are probably my favourite example of a raid and guild leader who is so candid and plain raw about your struggles where applicable. I’ve always admired that but I don’t know if I will always be able to emulate it. I have often wondered but never been bold enough to ask – does your guild read your blog? I think that they do. Have you ever had negative repercussions or comments when you ARE totally honest about your frustrations? It’s not that I’m a dishonest person or choose to pretend everything’s always rosy, it’s that I always have to mentally think to myself, “Is writing about this what’s best for me? Is it also best for my guild?” and then try to find a balance between the two. (Please note, I am absolutely not suggesting that you do anything but consider your guild’s best interests when you write, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for your honesty!) Thanks for your comments, you may sometime get an e-mail in your inbox with my name on it, haha.

  4. Excellent post and much calmer than my ranty one :D Also made me see it from a different perspective which is always a good thing. As you say, there is that feeling of “you failed to clear in the allotted, so we took pity on you.”

    That feeling does kind of sting, but I suppose it is still better to end up actually finishing a tier even if it’s nerfed, than it is to beat you head against a wall to no avail. I can’t maintain a constant raid team – while my healers and tanks are pretty stable, my dps group is pretty fluid and changes every night, so really this will help us when we have people fresh to the raid and will help them get up to speed with everyone else.

    However, the downside is, if you come across a boss later that is particularly easy, you end up thinking “could we have taken it without the nerf?”. We did that on LK, spent a few weeks learning the fight and slowly wearing him down, it got to the point where we were confident of a kill next time – then 4.0 hit. We walked in and got him first time. Suddenly the Kingslayer title felt rather fake.

    Still, these nerfs will only make it somewhat easier. So long as it doesn’t get to the point where a totally new group with no FL experience can walk in and ignore all boss mechanics and still get 7/7 then I suppose I can live with the nerfs.

    It is rather courageous at this time of many angry nerf posts to stand up and defend the changes :) bravo :)

    Kat

    • Yeah, truthfully, Kat, I’m going to have to see how it shakes out and how I feel coming up against the bosses post-nerf. I may write another post at that time, who knows? I think it never feels great to have your kills “cheapened,” but I also can’t argue the fact that we’re 2/7 HMs when I know we’ve had time to get further. I hope that post-nerf shakes out well for your group, too!

  5. I think this post came at the right time for me, personally.

    The nerfs hit and I was in shock but on the same token I got really, really depressed. I play this game to raid, and to kill the hard bosses while they’re still difficult. And with this tier it hasn’t really happened. I love my guild, love the people in it, but nothing we did could make me feel better. We got heroic Shannox, but it felt very late compared to what I’m used to. Hell, that’s all we’ve killed so far on heroic.

    For some reason this post gets through to me more than my own guild leaders post on our forums – they’re related but are slightly different. It still feels weird to be ‘behind’, as it were, but we have this tier to complete, nerfs be damned. I’m hoping this nerf gives fuel to the fire so that we can get our shit (can I say shit?) together before T13 comes out.

    Beru said it really well here and I feel it warrants a quote from me; “… keep in mind that a lot of time there can be a lot of solace from others who have been there, or are currently there, and just need the nudge to realize “OMG This is ME”.”

    Thanks for this post!

  6. I really enjoyed that read. I was a little ticked at first too (also late into the tier 12 scene due to guild restructuring). After thinking about it for a while, it did dawn on me that they were doing this for the benefit of the playerbase as a whole. And honestly, because of the overall skill cap of my guildmates, we probably aren’t going to push any further otherwise.

  7. Anthony Zgainer said:

    Very well said Vid. Couldn’t have said it any better myself. What you have said here is the root of why a lot of people are upset about the nerfs. I am also glad that you were so honest. I know you always want to put the good face on for the guild but sometimes knowing your leader is a bit disappointed and frustrated isn’t always a bad thing. Just think about what happens when you disappoint a parent when your growing up, you feel horrible at first. Then you go out there and try even harder to make sure you don’t disappoint them again.

  8. So this was what you were dancing around the other day at 4 AM. (Well, my early morning, and your late night.)

    (And for the record, I still don’t know how you can type like that while in an instance.)

  9. A fantastic post Vid and that feeling of failure is definitely something that I can identify with. I still strongly disagree with the nerfing old tier content; I know raid heroics as still meant to provide the challenge and nerfing normal raids allows everyone to see the content but I still can’t help to think that you end cutting down the available number of raid options to guilds. No one (or at least no one I know) wants to go back to do a nerfed raid that they completed when it was ‘hard’, even for points which leaves you with just one raid (firelands) to do night in and night out. In Wrath, there was a ‘natural nerf’ through gear upgrades but the old tier content still provided some challenge as to make it fun and interesting. On top of that it’s much harder to test new recruits or develop them into competent raiders when the ‘old content’ seems to be nerfed to such a degree as has been in Cata.

    I got my Defender of the Shattered World title after the Tier 10 nerf, the only part of that achievement I’m actually proud of is BWD because I did it pre-nerf. Although I’ve not been raiding that much in Cata even I noticed an immediate difference in the ease of raids after the nerf and it’s difference I really didn’t like much. So as much as the idea of ‘failure’ is one reason to dislike nerfs (and one I honestly empathise with you on), I don’t think it is the sole reason progression raider (or many other more casual raiders/bloggers) dislike the nerfs; more likely in my opinion is that the nerfs are too excessive when there is already a system in place that makes them easier through natural content progression.

    Just my two cents anyhow XD

  10. A really good post Vid, and heartfelt. And it was enlightening and made me think about the nerfs in a different light. Thanks! One of my best reads of the week :)

  11. Great post. I think that any guild that raids long enough is going to have weeks, months, and tiers that just don’t click for some reason. Doing your best to keep it all in perspective is really all you can do.

    Progression raiding in WoW is a marathon, not a sprint, and any runner can tell you that even just finishing a marathon in one piece is an accomplishment.

    Just like the hare and the tortoise, its the slow and steady group that wins out in the long run. The flash-in-the-pan guilds that lack the focus for the long haul are a dime a dozen. It is the groups with the resilience to weather the tough times and still come out raiding every week while enjoying their time together that will still be around long after the “go go go!, WTF is wrong with you all?!?!” guilds have crashed and burned.

    That being said, I know how frustrating it can get sometimes watching your group struggle on something for what feels like “too long.” It seems sometimes like it is soooo easy to have your progression derailed by the smallest things when you/we have such a short raid week and relatively small roster. I know that I regularly just feel thankful that Production Company is even still raiding each week when it feels like so many other groups are closing up shop nowadays.

    I know I’ve said it before but again, if there’s ever anything I/we can do to help you or your group out, please don’t hesitate to ask. Whether its help with extra bodies, a sympathetic outside party, or just chatting about strategies/raids in general.

  12. Great post Vid. That is a much more positive way of thinking about things, but I can’t help to be disappointed still (in both the nerfs and my own progress in the content).

    As I’ve said before, I don’t think small, targetted nerfs would be bad. Thinking about it more, they might have actually been welcome. I’ll have to see exactly how these nerfs are implemented and what kind of impact they have. If they really are comparable to the T11 nerfs and allow you to steamroll over certain mechanics, I will continue to be disappointed. However, if they work as more of a little nudge through the trouble spots, I won’t be so upset about them.

  13. See, here’s your problem:

    “Many of our long-term members stopped raiding, replaced by new people who – no matter how awesome – need time to click”

    Tell those new members to use key bindings!

    (I kid, I kid!)

    Still, an excellent post with a very rational approach to the subject of the nerfs. I find that my own raid is in a pretty similar position this tier, and I came to much the same conclusion.

  14. […] Vidyala gives us an impressively honest post about her feelings on the Firelands nerfs in “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nerfs.”  Taking a different approach than a lot of other blogs on this subject, she discusses how […]

  15. Lovely post. You got to the heart of bigger issues, and really enjoyed reading your thoughts–

    http://wowsugar.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-you-want.html

  16. […] Last week I gave into my inner nerdrage and posted a rather lengthy rant about the incoming nerfs to Firelands and the class feedback that was being given on the forums. Since then various other bloggers have posted regarding the same issues. These range from the also ranty (Kurn’s Corner), through the slightly more mellow (Cannot be Tamed) to the downright calm and much more reflective (Manalicious). […]

  17. […] miss the nerf drama.  I’ve seen people get outraged over the nerfs. I’ve seen people accept that the nerfs would be a good thing for them. Today, I saw Fannon get so disappointed over the nerfs that I feel like he’s missed the […]

  18. […] able to dig up a few (partially) positive responses to the nerf in Firelands (Variant Avatar and Manalicious), but aside from that, most of the feedback was deeply mired in barely-concealed […]

  19. […] Last week I gave into my inner nerdrage and posted a rather lengthy rant about the incoming nerfs to Firelands and the class feedback that was being given on the forums. Since then various other bloggers have posted regarding the same issues. These range from the also ranty (Kurn’s Corner), through the slightly more mellow (Cannot be Tamed) to the downright calm and much more reflective (Manalicious). […]

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