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

We’ve all been there. You show up ready to raid. You have read the strats for the progression fights. You’ve been talking about how to better execute fights that you’ve already downed. You have flasks, you have food. You have nine or twenty-four other people.

Or maybe you don’t even get to that point. Maybe someone’s internet is down and you can’t get ahold of John to step in. Someone disconnects as you pull the boss or someone has an addon problem or someone makes a mistake on something you’ve done a million times before. Whatever the reason, something is just off. You’re in for one of those nights.

I wish I had the magic recipe to prevent them. I don’t. Sometimes storms are hitting several areas. Tonight the storm was in our area – massive chunks of hail pounding on the roof so hard during Shannox that I had to turn my sound up just to hear the aural cues I am used to! Thankfully we didn’t disconnect, and no one had any technical difficulties. Regardless, for us it was one of those nights.

Call it a full moon, call it bad luck, call it a combination of factors – we’re still getting to know our new raiders, we had one more melee than we usually do, we made a mistake on assignments, we swapped healers to roles they weren’t used to, and tanks to roles that they weren’t used to. We started the raid night with high hopes for a certain number of bosses that we didn’t achieve. It’s the kind of night where you finish and can feel the collective sigh of relief and discouragement over voice chat. Everyone’s demoralized. Where do you go from there?

There are a few ways to handle it. You could cascade into a doubt spiral, second-guessing everything that happened and your role in it. You could lay blame, you could pout or gnash your teeth. Here’s what I do.

Recognize that it happens to everyone

No, really. You may feel like there is no other single raid group that has struggled as your group struggled on that night. Trust me on this – Vodka has nights like this. No one plays perfectly all of the time. I challenge you to show me a raid group that hasn’t had a crappy or an off night. (Okay, an off night for Vodka doesn’t mean the same thing as it does for other raids, but that’s not the point). We all have times where we feel like we didn’t play to our potential, that we could have done better, that we failed.

We’re human. It happens. So then what?

Take a break

Our group takes regular breaks anyway (once an hour for six minutes), so I always seize this opportunity. Some of the things I do during breaks include:

  • Rub the dog’s belly.
  • Run downstairs.
  • Give the dog a carrot.
  • Open the back door and take deep breaths of fresh air.
  • Yoga. (I’m serious.)
  • Make sure I have a big glass of cold water on my desk for the end of the break
  • I’m kind of a hippy like that, so I have essential oils (mint!) and I’ll put a dab on my wrists or neck or temples. Mint and citrus smells can help reduce stress and aid focus. Lavender is calming, unlike the Firelands, which is…well, on fire.

Sometimes you just need to get your body thinking about something else. I like to stretch my legs and move around during breaks if I can. Long periods of sitting combined with tension can lead to muscle cramps or aches. Focusing on something else even for a few minutes can help you to do better when you come back and sit down.

Switch it up

If you’ve been beating your head against a boss wall for hours and you aren’t seeing any progress, don’t be afraid to tackle something new. It may not result in a kill, but at least it’ll present new frustrations. If your faction has Tol Barad, go do a Baradin Hold run. Kill some more trash. Even switch instances if that’s an option and you have the time to do it.

Get some perspective

Was your night really all that bad? For our raid night, we didn’t kill all the bosses we would have liked, but the ones we did kill we killed pretty cleanly. I healed a different tank than I usually do on Shannox; our other tank healer got a chance to experience the damage patterns of the opposite tank as well. Beth’tilac went down very easily, and it was again a new tank doing the “upstairs” task. It could have been worse. We could have killed nothing. Or one less boss, or two less bosses. We got some valor points. Trash went very smoothly. I was mostly happy with P1 of Alysrazor as well. We’ve killed these bosses before. We will kill them again.

Above all else, no matter how many internet dragons did or didn’t die in any given night, I’m always happy to hang out with BT folks and have fun regardless. So I’m not going to dwell on the raid night. As far as I’m concerned, once it’s ‘in the bag,’ it’s over. There’s no sense beating ourselves up about it. That said, though, the next thing I want to do is:

Identify and learn from your mistakes

I already know what was going wrong with Rhyolith. We made some poor calls on assignments. The melee are going to have to put their heads together when it comes to driving duties. I did not do the best I could in my new role. So there’s a few lessons there, but most importantly I want to find out was going on with Baelroc. What was I doing wrong? Why was it so hard at first, and what can I do better for next time?

Depending on how you work, it might be a good idea to wait before you proceed with this step. If you go in still frustrated, tired or upset, you’re liable to just beat yourself up over things you can’t change.

Put that thing to bed

The single best thing you can do, I think, is just sleep on it. You’ll be able to process tomorrow what may seem hopelessly aggravating right now, because it’s still too close. Re-evaluate your performance and the overall raid performance the following day when you have a clear head and a rested perspective. Ask yourself, was it really that bad? Even if it was, it’s still over, and tomorrow is another raid day.

So how about you? What do you do when your group is having one of those nights? Don’t try to tell me you never do, either! I know you’re fibbing.

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Comments on: "“Those” Raid Nights and What To Do About Them" (31)

  1. I reach for the Tylenol…?

    I try to isolate the reason for failure, but on Those Nights, there isn’t always an easy way to isolate that between pulls. So I repeat warnings like “remember, don’t stand in the lava” or whatever and tell people to take a few deep breaths to calm down and to focus.

    Occasionally, I get lucky, and people actually DO listen to me! And they focus! And we win!

    Mostly, we get a messy kill, if it’s one of Those nights. For example, last week, we one-shot Shannox. This week? Four tries. Last week and the week before, Face Rage was not an issue. This week? I died to it twice on four attempts. Either the raid’s trying to tell me something or something was up with the Face Rage assignments.

    The good news for us is we still got Shannox, Beth’tilac, Rhyolith and Alysrazor (plus Occu’thar) in a single night — but we worked HARD for it and it didn’t come with a sense of accomplishment that we had last week when we killed the same bosses in a single night.

    New raid tomorrow, fresh start. Time to kill Baleroc and work on Majordomo. I think we bounce back well from Those Nights, so perhaps a Domo kill will be on the menu. :)

    At any rate, thanks for this post. I think it’s easy to forget EVERYONE has Those Nights sometimes. :)

    (PS: I really do reach for the Tylenol, though.)

    • Kurn, my friend, tonight was an Advil-at-break-time-night, and I know exactly what you mean. Some nights are just…like that. I think it’s easy to forget that it’s not just us, or just our raid – everybody has them. I wrote this post before going to bed because I wanted to give myself a pep talk but also because I had this sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t the only one. I hope your next raid is a brilliant one! And for Those Nights, well, there’s always more Tylenol. ;D

      • Thanks for the well-wishes — it was a very good one! Baleroc down in 3 pulls (as opposed to 10+) and Majordomo Staghelm down for the first time. :)

        Still, I need Tylenol. ;) But it just shows how quickly a slump can be over. :)

        Hope YOUR next raid is/was awesome!

  2. Cheer up, friend. I can bounce you a few Baleroc ideas if you want.

    Marshmallows has some bad nights too. We made a pretty serious error last week that prevented us from getting 6/7H, but since we’re casual we don’t dwell on stuff and usually bounce back pretty good. We’ve had a good tier so far (US-11th at one point) and the positives outweigh the negatives.

    You guys have had a good tier so far, too. You’ve been getting regular time on progression bosses and it’s clear that rag isn’t gonna take you 5 weeks like a certain boss took us last tier. You also have a lot of time left, this tier has at least 4 months left in it still.

    Every guild in every tier reaches a point where they aren’t killing a new boss every week anymore. For us that was last week (due to our error, Heroic Stag should’ve totally died), but even after reaching that point it’s still possible to come back STRONG. We had an abysmal April and then went from 7/13 to 13/13 in a month. H-Alysrazor went from first pull to dead in a day and a half. In the same way you have “those” raid nights where everything hurts, there are also gonna be “those” raid nights where EVERYTHING OWNS and you’re on fire.

    • We’ve got Baleroc. I mean, we have one shot him week after week. Not sure what was going on last night, but we’ll look into it. The biggest struggle for both this tier and the last, I think, was just the constant turnover. It puts a rid group off-balance and you need to re-accustom yourself to new people. (This is nothing against the new people, who I lovingly recruited and have been enjoying getting to know) it’s just tough. I think we’re in a good place right now so I’m feeling positively though, thanks. :)

  3. Well, this applies to work or just about any endeavor, really, so what I do to blow off some steam is take a walk in the backyard or a short walk around the neighborhood.

    • That’s another good one! For me it’s tough because the raid ends late and walking the dog by myself is a bit freaky in the dark. I did it one night and ended up calling Voss on my cell phone because some creepy guy was walking down the street about a block behind me. I mean, I do have a 100 lb Labrador with me, but who knows?

  4. This post was kind of funny/ironic to see in my feed reader this morning.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to start blogging again a lot lately (and will probably succeed in talking myself into it in the near future) I had told myself that after our raid on Monday and our raid last night that I should be able to pretty easily toss up something about how all raid groups have “Those Nights” and that in some ways it always makes me appreciate how well our group handles them.

    Our group wasn’t as lucky dodging the black outs last night and we ended up doing our best to 9man Heroic Shannox (came pretty close a couple of times too) I think the raid was enjoyable in some respects but I know that most of us were watching the clock tick by and thinking about how much time we were losing to our “real progression” for the week.

    I’d like to add another alternative that we have used successfully in the past to your list of how to handle nights like this:

    Try and complete one of the raid achievements for a boss you already have on “farm”

    I wish I had reminded myself of this earlier in the raid last night. By the time I thought of it we had come frustratingly close a couple of times and I talked myself out of the ~20min it would have taken to clear all the trash for the shannox achievement. In retrospect, it probably would have been a fun thing to do that we will end up doing a couple of times eventually and we totally could have pulled it off on normal with 9 people…

    “Stuff happens” right? Looking forward to having everyone back from vacation/power outages/various emergencies!

  5. i hate those nights. And although your tips are welcome, as a raid leader, you have to realize that it is your job that everyone is not only working together but also having fun. taking a break 9 times out of 10, only results in more frustration, particularly if it is a larger raid (25 man or the dreaded 40-mans of vanilla WoW).

    • I have to respectfully disagree about the value of breaks. I think a lot of times people that are intensely focused on something like playing a game would often like to forget that they are still a physical body sitting there. Your eyes can get strained (and actually you can damage your vision by always only looking the same distance at your screen and not giving your eyes a rest). Similarly, you might not notice an ache in your hip or that you’re thirsty or have to go to the bathroom. Whether we’re playing a computer game or fleeing from a real threat, physiologically we have certain stress responses that are unavoidable. I maintain that regular, short breaks are necessary and beneficial to a raid, not detrimental. Besides, they cut down and nearly eliminate AFKs of the “be back in thirty seconds or one minute” variety because everyone knows when the break will happen and that they have five minutes at that time.

    • As a raid leader and RL manager of a team of 20, I think not having planned breaks is the frustrating thing (In the case of the RL team, it’s more like core hours during which the team is expected to be working and available to the rest of their teammates). As Vidyala said, it leads to people taking breaks at inopportune times.

      We have a 6 minutes break every hour on the hour. We use a raid timer to display the remaining time left. We do a ready check when the break is over to confirm that everyone is back. In the past 4-5 weeks, I think we had once one person that was one minute late in about 24 breaks.

      As a raid leader, you are responsible for everyone’s enjoyment of the game but you cannot ask them to keep a cup near their desk to relieve themselves. By actually managing the breaks and keeping them regular, you build the expectation of the break and ensure that every raider’s attention is to the raid when you need them to be.

      By forcing them to take quick breaks on their own time, you ensure that you’ll need to repeat your instructions often, that people will miss cues, that coming back from wipes will take longer. That, to me, is “unfun”.

  6. This is kind of funny to me because THOSE nights don’t just happen in raids either. Last night I had one of THOSE nights on my alt! I just got my druid healer to 85 and have been hitting heroics with her pretty hard because I want to have her geared for our t11 alt night for next week. I’ve had no problems with healing all the way up through leveling, through regular dungeons, through heroic dungeons, and even my first ZG was a smooth, beautiful 25 minute event.

    Then I hit last night and spent about 3 hours in the failest ZA run ever created. Then we took a guild-alts group in grim batol and wiped repeatedly on every boss. Then I hopped into a BH pug which was beyond disastrous. Then I went BACK to ZG with a RealID friend and went through three tanks before we even reached the first boss. By the end of the night I was seriously doubting if I should take my druid to alt night next week or ever because I’m *clearly* terrible at it.

    But… this morning, through a different lens, it was just one of THOSE nights. I’m betting today everything will be back to lovely and smooth and I’ll be feeling like at least a marginally competent druid again the next time I play one.

    • I’m sure you’re a great druid. You’re too competent and thorough to be anything less. And hey, congrats on 85 with her!

  7. Ugh. We had one of those this past Tuesday, and it was frustrating. We chose the “move on” route, and after an hour of slamming our heads against Shannox so hard our collective dunce caps were dented, we gave up and went to Barradin Hold and a seriously-nerfed Throne of the Four Winds.

    It was a good way to end on a higher note, but I have to say that the night still felt like an overall failure. When they hit the T11 instances with the nerf bat, they hit them HARD. Our second attempt on Al’Akir ever (the first being pre-nerf and pathetic), and we had him down? Trivialized content makes me sad in the panda. It just doesn’t give you that sense of accomplishment that can redeem a painful night of stand-in-fire and die-like-a-chump. :/

    • Aw. Cheer up, Rhoe, next raid will be better! I’m sorry to hear that your T11 kill wasn’t ultimately satisfying, either. :(

  8. [...] nights like that. And so, from Manalicious comes a fantastic guide to just how to survive them, from taking breaks to perspective-getting to essential oils: Was your night really all that bad? For our raid night, we didn’t kill all the bosses we would [...]

  9. [...] nights like that. And so, from Manalicious comes a fantastic guide to just how to survive them, from taking breaks to perspective-getting to essential oils: Was your night really all that bad? For our raid night, we didn’t kill all the bosses we would [...]

  10. I rage and cry and shout obscenities regarding dragons and their genitalia.

    When raids go bad, it’s hard. It’s hard, because there is an investment of time on the part of everybody to just be ready to GO to do the zone. It’s hard because you start to get tense when you see things “Why aren’t you changing targets to the adds?!” is a lot more indicting than “Lets remember we’ve gotta handle adds too.”

    it’s hard, because it is very easy to take way too seriously, and to feel personally responsible for everybody’s $15, in addition to the money that may have been spent to race/faction/server change.

    But, all we can do is breathe and remember, it’s a game. It’s okay to care. It’s okay to be emotionally invested. But it’s okay to have duck feathers, too.

    • Duck feathers is always good advice! It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions surrounding a raid because it’s really an event/mini-project and especially as raid/guild leader it’s hard not to feel solely responsible when things go south. But oftentimes, those things are out of your control.

  11. I find it important on “those nights” to remind everyone that the objective is to have fun and not to stress out or worry or let frustration linger past the raid time. For example, our guild’s raid last night, while not terrible, wasn’t as good as we had hoped. So we were a little frustrated and sullen at the end…but these dark clouds were quickly blown away as we schemed how to mischievously send our absent Mage the BoE caster staff that had dropped. Nothing brightens a dour mood like some good-natured pranking!

    (We ended up gift-wrapping the staff and sending it amidst about 50 other gift-wrapped pieces of junk, so he’d have to open every single one and sort through the various vendor trash items to get it. :D)

    • This is so hilarious to me. Except for the part where I am worrying in the back of my head, “Was that staff I disenchanted last night a BoE staff…?” Oh my gosh, Rades.

      I have a feeling that you are a good calming/balancing influence on any raid you are in. You are the epitome of someone who is able to roll with the punches and put a positive spin on most things, and I really appreciate that about you! I think we could all do more to emulate that attitude and remember, we are HERE for purposes of fun, after all.

  12. I try very hard to keep perspective, use OChat to vent my frustration, and then, when it all seems hopeless, I take a deep breath, give up on progression, and move on to something easy. Right now, that means a power clear of one of the T11 raids just to restore morale and camaraderie so we end on a high note. Or it might mean 10-manning some silly Wrath 25-man stuff, like a Sarth Zerg or something.

    Trying to keep in mind that this is a one night thing, and not a consistent issue is really difficult for me as we only raid two nights a week and one bad night = 50% of our raid time for the week. But I try to stay calm regardless.

    One thing that has helped tremendously is forcing a 5 minute break at the top of the hour. That has cut down on the AFK/Bio/BRB/1sec monkey almost completely. Still doesn’t help the “Tornado warning alarms just went off” and “um. storm broke my window and rain is flooding the floor” and “my router reset, I’m sorry I DC’d with the boss at 5% and then he ate you all.” and “um, i can’t seem to do phase 3 because my computer locks up as soon as it starts every time.”

    • Yeah, those things are always going to be so frustrating. Technical difficulties, DCs, storms… I just throw up my hands and shake my fist at the heavens. That stuff aside, it is tough that with a two-night raid week any “bad” night impacts your progression more. But at the end of the day, you will complete the content, and hopefully the good days outnumber the bad! :D

  13. This happens every night when the guild I belong to Raids. Many attempts to straighten things out, determine rules, puntcuality etc have failed. I simply have stopped raiding, which is a shame because I am missing out on so many great things. Starting a raid 60 min after it was supposed to start because someone needs to regem, or they forgot to get healthpots is a waste of my time.

    sad magey.

    • That’s really too bad. If raiding is really something you’d like to do, you might want to consider finding a guild where this “standard” is not the norm! I know it’s hard, though, because you probably have many friends in this guild. In the end, you have to weigh your goals versus what you may gain or lose. Only you can know what is the right thing to do for you.

  14. Yeah, but if your dog is a happy Lab, then you can forget about protection….

  15. Lavender is calming, unlike the Firelands, which is…well, on fire.

    That sentence nearly made me choke on a biscuit… :D

    A very good post, and I think it’s always good to reassure each other that this kind of thing happens to everyone… because if you don’t talk to people in other raiding guilds much, it’s quite easy to start thinking: “Gah, we suck, I bet other guilds *never* have these problems!” It’s just not true though.

  16. [...] Manalicious has some excellent advice for players frustrated while having one of those raid nights. [...]

  17. [...] Manalicious has some excellent advice for players frustrated while having one of those raid nights. [...]

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