Being a Raid Leader in Warcraft? The fun never stops…

…but sometimes it’s not your fun and you feel it is not funny at all. And there’s not much to do about it. Can you find fun in that? If you can – you’re good RL material.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve been RLing in World of Warcraft since Lich King expansion and I absolutely love it. At least I love the definition of it, the picture I made up in my head. It’s a job, it’s a torment, it’s a reward. It’s a kindergarten and Silicon Valley mixed into one thing. It’s the challenge, it’s the chance to be better, it’s an easy way to get admitted to an asylum. It’s everything and nothing, all at once. You will cry, you will rage, you will cheer. So let me walk you through nuances of World of Raid Leaders in Warcraft, that I experienced or witnessed. And even though thoughts you will find below come from very personal experiences, I am pretty sure plenty RLers will relate.

Getting down and dirty with a procyon lotor

Let’s talk about what Raid Leader is, or at least should be IMO. Generally speaking RL is the person that comes up with the raid tactics for specific team, based on boss abilities and on the setup of the group. Sounds simple so far? Well, it’s not. Setup is team specific and depends on multiple factors – the only thing that connects all setups is that they have classes and specializations that fit into at least one role – a tank, dps and healer. There are 12 classes in World of Warcraft, total of 36 specs. Based on difficulty of raid, you also have a various number of people – Normal and Heroic content can be raided by 10-30 people at the same time in one raid group while Mythic is strict 20. The better your team is, the more people want to join it and more choices per role you have. But generally speaking RL is this person that either says “I need <class> <spec> for this fight” or “I have X, Y and Z class, let me see what I can do with that.” Most of the time it’s that second option, you assemble a team from what you have available.

12 classes, 36 specs. As a RL you have to have a basic (at least) knowledge about every one of them. Each class and spec brings specific abilities that can come in handy for the raid as whole or for a specific encounter. In theory there are no mechanics that can be done by one spec only and anyone can do anything. In practice having spec X for fight Y can be a game changer. Now, as I mentioned N and HC difficulties have a flexible number of people you can get into the team. This means you can get 10 people in, but you can also get 29. Or 24. Or maybe 17. It can vary with each week, meaning you change the setup every damn reset. So it’s harder to make a steady element that will be repeated every week. M difficulty doesn’t have this and is more steady, but it doesn’t mean it is more peachy. You have 20 spots and the team is always bigger to cover up for eventual absences. This means you change the setup per each boss and you also have to rotate people per week to include those who were benched. If the system you have for it is not fair, people will whine. They will always whine, but in this case it will be even louder.

3 levels of difficulty, 10-20-30 slots available, 12 classes, 36 specs, 3 roles. Did I already mention that each level of difficulty has different abilities of the bosses you have to consider as well? The higher difficulty level, the more abilities to deal with. Same boss ability may also be addressed differently in another difficulty. It’s like 3D puzzle for a RL. Only the puzzle is on fire, it tries to bite your head off and there’s a sharknado roaming around you. Make a mistake, I dare ya.

Our team raids mainly heroic content, eventually reaching the M content but not participating in the progression race – that is reserved for our hardcore group. When our team was progressing on Mythic Eonar in previous WoW expansion, I had a table printed out and cut out names of the team members. I would switch them around seeing what I can do with the fight and which order makes more sense. It’s more reactive than proactive but this is what I have to deal with – limited resources, limited options. Because based on what you have available in terms of players, you go to next step – encounter planning. Welcome to RL’s reality.

Raid Leader is this person that should have a clear picture of what they want to see happen during the fight and when. And they have to have it long before they even see the boss for the first time. This is what is expected from you – you have to have a vision of how your particular team will deal with encounter as whole and with each individual element. Now, this is where things reach a whole new level of “your life will be a hell.” 3 difficulties x 12 classes x 36 specs x 3 roles x 10-30 slots, right? Well, there is one key thing here that also influences the whole thing, I left it out until now on purpose. People. Humans. Sometimes a monkey with an opposable thumb. You can have this person that is an awesome tank but they will claim they can’t do it. You will have this absolutely horrible dps that will claim they are Cthulhu’s gift to humanity. So it is 3 difficulties x 12 classes x 36 specs x 3 roles x 10-30 slots x 10-30 human beings and trust me, that last element is the most crucial one. Basically as a RL, in your head, you have to play the game for 20-30 people. Again – before you even see the boss yourself. You have to know everything about the fight and everything about each player in your team – if they need extra explanation, if they need more pulls to see certain ability, if they are confident in their class, if they will switch when you tell them to. Because that knowledge will help you decide who to take to the fight and who to assign to certain tasks. You’re not just the architect of the fight, you’re also a mommy, a daddy, a bff, a punching bag, a shoulder to cry on and the worst enemy. “What do you mean I have to switch to an add? It will lower my dps! I don’t want to, baaaaah!”

Obviously, the ultimate goal behind the raid is to kill bosses. But you wouldn’t be reading this post if it was so simple. Ultimate goal might be the kill (or the gear that drops after the boss dies) but the real goal and path to it is changing on player-to-player basis. So if you have a team of 20 people, you deal with 20 separate goals. They might overlap, yes, but they don’t have to. It’s your job to make sure that the main goal is the same for everyone and only secondary ones differ. And “kill shit, get lootz” is not enough. The more dedicated and “pro” RL you are, the more complex your goal is. I use “pro” very loosely here, keep that in mind. Maybe “experienced” would be a better term.

So even tho 30 people in your team want to ultimately achieve the same thing – to kill the boss – you might be dealing with 30 different visions of how to get there. Someone wants to joke all the time, someone wants to discuss the latest run, someone wants to become a better player. Someone just want to have a chitchat group, someone treats the raid as therapy, someone forgot to leave their problems at the doors, someone brings in the banter, someone brings the attitude. 30 potential boiling points and you are one of them.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Fasten your seatbelt, this is gonna be a ride you will never forget.

Got no people skills but he’s good with motors

RL is also this weird person that studies the tactics for the bosses when everyone else is asleep. Maybe it is just me but I see a lot of fellow RLs up at night. It’s not unusual for me to have a convo about this and this ability of that boss at 2am. It’s also not a rare thing for me to be going through Reddit and other guides at night, making notes on my notes. For real. My tacts have tacts. Tactic-ception.

I am quite… let’s call it “dedicated” when it comes to tactics. I take a deep dive before each tier and I study different documents for days. Let me walk you through my process of making a tacts guide. This is what I do before each tier.

I usually start with finding 2-3 guides that look reliable. I have two sources I trust – Icy Veins and Wowhead, but I usually try to find at least one “fresh” source. Once I find the guides I like, I start merging them into my own. This means that per each boss I look at ability A and see what is being mentioned in guides 1, 2 and 3. If all guides suggest same approach, I put it into my guide as “canon”. If they suggest different ways of handling it, I flag it on my guide. This goes through all bosses for the tier and all abilities. Let me tell you, it takes time. Anyway, once this part is done, I start watching the videos. Again, I have trusted sources – FatbossTV never let me down, but I also try to find a fresh source, new point of view. Sometimes you can find a real gem. For current expansion of WoW ReadyCheckPull was suggested to me, what a brilliant discovery it was. While watching the videos, I add notes to the guide I made. So at this point I have the ability, info what it does and info how to counter it. Once this is done, I go through the guide again, looking at the roster of my team. Ok, so guide A suggests monk for this and that ability, guide B suggests a warrior. My monk is not going to be there this week and my warrior tunnels, I’ll send hunters. This healer doesn’t listen, I’ll send him as last, this one is great in calling out, I’ll send him first. I personalize the guide, for me and for my team. And again, I do it for every boss and every ability, especially if I flagged it earlier. So for each ability I am thinking what it does, how it can be countered and how my team is going to deal with it. To each ability I add my comment on how I want it to be addressed by specific people. Following non personalized guides will get you nowhere. And after I am done with all that, I add a short summary: “mainly ST fight, adds prio, hard switch, hero on pull, watch the debuff, 5 stacks max, hunters in first.” Once people get what the boss abilities are doing, this should be enough of tacts for them.

“But why is it necessary to personalize these elements? Tacts are tacts!” Well, let me give you an example. We were progressing on Fetid Devourer. It’s a huge, ugly thing that basically does three things: knocks back the raid, pukes in random direction, spawns eggs that need to be killed – if he eats them he will heal. At 50% of his health he will have a soft enrage – he does more damage but he also takes more of it. We were using the tactic suggested by few guides – divide the raid into two groups, kill both eggs, hero at 50%. Oh boy, what a nightmare it was. People were dying to puke all the time, eggs were not dying fast enough, people were tunneling like no tomorrow. I got a tip from a fellow RL that it can be done in a different way. Since my team members were dying before we reached the 50%, it was pointless to sit on hero until then. Since they were tunneling, it was pointless to assign groups. Or it was time to bench the tunneleres. Decision had to be made. So we face the boss again. Hero on pull, one egg. You have no idea how annoying it is to hear “but why, but guide, but he will heal, but we need it for 50%.” I don’t care. I don’t have to justify everything I do. I made the decision and this is my job as RL. We go in and do as I said. We kill it in one go. My comment as the boss fell was sarky, not gonna lie: “you’re welcome.” My responsibility, my decision, handle it. I don’t have to be your bff  at this point, I’m here to be a RL. If I change something you can be sure that I actually spent long hours counting if it makes sense. And I mean it literally. 6 sec debuff, minus 20% each two seconds…. Been there, done that.

Sometimes it is hard to spot that one thing that needs to be changed to succeed. You have to dig to find that bit of information, so a Raid Leader is also the person that goes through logs, often in real time (Cthulhu bless the creator of “Details!”) and adjusts the tacts to the situation. Sometimes it’s not the tacts, sometimes people are to be blamed for failure. So RL has to say “dude, you were told to do this and this, you’re not doing it, knock it off” and to make the decision based on that – sometimes calling the guilty party out works, sometimes it’s the bench, sometimes it’s the kick from the team that solves the problem. But you as Raid Leader have to make this decision here and now. And it is not nice to be forced to tell someone they suck.

RL asks healers if there are problems, discusses with tanks how to position the boss, talks with dps what can be done to improve the fight. And you have like 3 minutes to sort all that. Raid Leaders are the emperors of multitasking because based on the fight, distance to the boss from entrance, availability of mass ress, etc, you have around 3 minutes between a wipe and a fresh pull to feed the crowd, put down the cauldron, check the logs, talk with healers, talk with tanks, talk with dps, assign the duties, explain additional tacts or abilities, decide if a change is needed, do a ready check. Raid Leader is THE person that makes the decisions. We use Heroism now, not in 2 minutes, use pots now, not tomorrow. You are healing, you are dpsing. Raid Leader is also taking full responsibility for what is going on. It might not be the RL failing during the fight, but it is RL’s failure if they can’t find the issue and fix it. And trust me, this is putting the pressure you’re under on a whole new level.

And don’t even get me started on the whispers you get at this point. You’re the most popular person in town at this point and everyone needs your attention, right here, right now. No, it is not ok to flush your hamster now, we will have a break in 5. No, you can’t kite the boss to Stormwind, tank him on the marker I put down, it’s there for a reason. Yes, you can go to loo. No, I will not discuss the logs with you now. Yes, really happy for you that you got this piece of gear. So sorry other person rolled higher. Thanks for letting me know you won’t be here next week, I’ll forget in a minute, wish you posted it on forums like I asked you 50 times already. No, you can’t hit him on the head with your toy. Oh my, did she really call you that? No, I don’t know why X didn’t show up. Yes, hilarious joke. Ha. Ha. Ha. Yes, this is totally the right time to show me a pic of your cute guinea pig, I totally don’t have anything on my head now. Totally!

That weird thing by his side, an infantilized sequoia

People, what a bunch of bastards. As a RL you will deal with the whole spectrum of individuals. Some will make your day brighter, some will make you scream with anger. Some will make you stop the raid and swear at them. Some you want to hug, some will deserve a high five. In the face. With a chair. You will meet geniuses that think they are idiots and idiots who think they are geniuses. You will meet people who know better and people who will become friends. If a raid was a Marvel movie, who would you have in it?

Stan Lee – nobody knows why or how this person got here but everyone looks forward to seeing them. They aren’t game changers but they help and defo don’t interrupt the progress. They are funny but subtle, decent but not extraordinary. Comic relief at times. They are slower learners but they learn. Have you seen a Marvel movie without Stan Lee?

Rocket – usually teenage boys. Nobody knows why they are asses to everyone else but they do pew pew and bring numbers when needed. They have hard time following orders and will always have something to say about everything they do. Deep inside they are big softies and one on one they are great people. Reliable but often misunderstood as douchebags. Will do everything to be seen as tough guys when deep inside they really want to be accepted by everyone and liked. Loose canon. Can follow movie Rocket’s path and become heroes or can turn into Tazerface. You keep Rocket in the team, you get rid of Tazerface.

Tazerface – asshole, will blow up your team with the toxicity and salt. Type of people who link the dmg meters on a wipe in LFR. Will ninja pull for lulz. NOT a team player. Maybe it used to be a good player in the past, now it’s nothing but a faint echo of skills. Loot whore. Will sabotage the team to prove a point to you. Will try to turn people against you if you start calling them out. If you say this is a Single Target fight, a Tazerface will on purpose change the talents to MT. Tunneler too – “switch to adds” command will always be ignored by them. They get decent number by not following the mechanics, thinking they can get away with it. They pretend to be a Rocket but in reality they are way dumber than a Racoon. Rocket is useful, Tazer is not. Never trust a Tazerface.

Wasp – saaaaalt! Saaaaaaaalt! Might have skills or potential, might only think they do but that salt is not worth it. You can do better than that. Wasp always thinks she is better than anyone else and she will let everyone know that. Wasp graces your team with her presence, why aren’t you rolling out the red carpet yet? The most bitter person you have ever met, that bitterness is poisoning her mind. Manipulative person too, a Wasp will play people like pawns to get what she wants. She whines about anything and everything, bitching about everyone behind their backs. If a Wasp acts like your friend, there is a profit in it for her – she is not your friend, you’re a tool to gain something. If there is a gain in it for her, you will feel like you are the center of her world. Luckily for you, Wasp is too impatient and cocky to hide the game for too long – since she loves to be in the light of glory, she will hint that she is up to something. Ignore the early signs and it will be a mess that will destroy your team. She can be a Gamora for some time, but the Wasp persona is never dormant for too long. Avoid at all costs. Once a Wasp, always a Wasp.

Captain America – you can have the best fight plan ever but this person will always tell you there’s something wrong with it. They will follow your plan like a good soldier they are, yes, but they will let you know how much fail they see in it. Preferably in public. They can be Rockets or Gamoras but they have that Steve angle to it. Steve will also make sure to say what you just said to the raid. Wannabe raid leader, address them on it and you’re the bad guy, after all they just try to help. Oh you didn’t ask for help? They still think you need it. They think they know more than you or know better, each time. Oh you just said something or told people how to do that other thing? Where’s the harm in repeating that, if people don’t listen to you, maybe they will listen to Steve. More than enough times they will be the ones failing the tacts but if you value your sanity, don’t call them out on it – they will engage you in 10-hour-long debate about why their point of view is so much more valuable than yours. Spec discussion? They will spend two days digging, just to find this one build that sims at 0.01% dps higher, just to prove to you that you’re wrong asking them to use another item. It doesn’t matter that you raided for 50 expansions already and this is their first – they’ve seen shit you have never seen. Their work experience and school prepared them to everything in the life, especially RLing in World of Warcraft. They will make sure everyone knows that they are here to support you. Your brilliant idea for this or that boss? “Oh we were talking about it with RL yesterday, glad RL listens to people like me. After all, I love to be a guidance for younger players.” They will always try to hint at being the influence behind any success. Usually really good players but annoying twats at the same time. Such horse, such high, much wow. Will stop trying the second they realize you don’t consider them to be a miracle. However, Captain America might change into a Steve Rogers. And Steve is like Tony Stark.

Tony Stark/Gamora/Steve Rogers – those players will always try to be better. They can start in a cave but they will always try to improve. They can start as extreme soloers but will learn to value a team. They can start seeing the world in grey and white, but they will learn to see all shades of grey. They will study the logs, ask other players for tips, read forums. They will never be fully happy with their performance. They will always need a challenge. They can be a bit of an ass at times but generally those are core members of the team. They will add brain to the performance, bringing it to next level. And when they enter the battle mode? Holy…it will be pure pleasure to watch them execute the fight. No matter which mode is on, they will tell you if they think you are failing, but they will also help you get up and fix it all. Cheeky buggers too, honest with their opinions. You will learn the hard way to appreciate the brutal truth. The most reliable people you can think of. If they said they will be at progress on time, they will take day off at work to make it happen. As long as they feel you listen to them, they will respect you. Even if you disagree. Team is where their loyalty is, not you.

Bruce Banner/Hulk – Bruce players are those silent ones that are not necessarily happy with their performance but they try to steer out of all discussions and extremes. Good soldiers, silent people, amazing brains. Top level feedback if they feel confident enough to share it. The only thing they lack is confidence. If they turn into a Hulk, they will smash everything. It’s up to you to make sure they smash the boss. Absolute core of the team. If you can get yourself more Hulks – do it. You may need to push them or reassure them but there are beasts underneath just waiting to shine. Challenge here is to get them to communicate with you. They need to trust you to do so. And that trust is not easy to gain.

Scarlet Witch – in theory a very powerful character. On paper it’s like the best spec, the best talents, the best gear. In reality nobody likes them and nobody knows why. They need to be berated into being useful. Wrong decisions at wrong moments, lots of “my way or the highway” and “I know better”. Having a Scarlet Witch in the team can be handy but you never know where their allegiance is and if they will not backstab you. Absolute wild card. Extra maintenance person too. A bit like Wasp but less evil and backstab-y, more reliable.

Loki – pretty much like Scarlet Witch but less edgy, more of a prankster. Will joke 24/7, seems like a strong person but deep inside they are a softie full of emotions they don’t know how to deal with. Less annoying than Witch too. If a Scarlet Witch and Rocket had a baby, that would be a Loki. Loki can be a great ally but he will leave the ship as first at very first sign of problems. Good team mate while it lasts, their allegiance is with themselves only.

Groot/Drax – sometimes they will ask questions like “why boss?” and you will sit there thinking to yourself “what am I missing?” Brutally honest and direct, only when they are gone you will realize how much you need them and how much this bluntness helps with saving time. They will ask questions that will root you and help you go back to main point without being lost in semantics. “why boss” is important in this moment of the fight if we have adds coming up? Oh yes, because he is gonna cast something and we need to interrupt or whatever. You forgot about this already. They will demand an answer to a seemingly silly question but once you give that answer you will realize that they got to a core of the problem without even realizing it. Good soldiers too once they understand why you set the plan up. Less chatty and in-your-face versions of Tonys, Gamoras and Steves. It will take you ages to get them to speak if they don’t want to. Their loyalty is with you at all times, even if they disagree with you, but if you betray this trust, you might never get it back. And as long as you as RL work for the team’s benefit, they have your back.

Winter Soldier – can be a Groot, can be a Gamora, can be brainwashed into anything. Just make sure you’re the one that does the brainwashing. It’s a supersoldier on crack. They can kick Captain America’s ass but they can also kick your ass if Cap does the controlling. Easy to manipulate

Quicksilver – useless. No skills, no team spirit, is never there when needed. No respect for authority, no leadership skills. Never in the place where they should be. Full of themselves, they always know better. Will die first and blame you for it. Defo Scarlet Witch’s twin, just less vocal. If you say they died because they stood in fire, you will hear that a. there was no fire on the floor, b. stupid blizz, graphs didn’t load, c. you told them to stand there anyway so they did, d. fire bad? e. you defo have an agenda against them and this is why you find imaginative fire to blame it on them. You bad, bad person. Oh you want to bench them? They didn’t want to raid anyway! you want to remove them from the team? They will quit before you kick them. USELESS DISTRACTION. Why would you bring them in the team?

Nick Fury – Raid Leader. In theory lower numbers than the majority of the team, in reality they will kick your butt if necessary, using everything they have. They will make an example of you too if they think it will bring the desired effect. They pretend they don’t feel emotions. They do, they just don’t like people to see it because they think it shows weakness. They understand the emotions of others. They know everything about everyone, their secrets have secrets. And they always have a backup plan to a backup plan – if they don’t, they will come up with one in a nanosecond. They also see more – or think they do – than others. Absolutely fragile when betrayal comes from within. Would do anything for the team, but think it is a good idea to keep it to themselves. Sometimes they go too far in doing stuff for the team and they end up exposed. Everyone hates them but Nick Fury is not afraid to tell them he hates them too but he doesn’t care as long as they do their job. Then Fury will go to a corner and cry, asking himself why he is doing it. Then he will get up, dust off and find another battle to fight in. because Nick Fury lives for battles.

If you are a raider, which character do you think you are?

The two of them walk by, people say “Oh boy-a”

When you organize a team, you want to be smart about who gets in and who gets removed or declined. Because as RL it is your job to make sure that one Tazerface doesn’t kill the fun for all Gamoras, Hulks and Tonys you have in the team. One Tazerface is enough to destroy a team, a guild, a community. And you as RL? Your allegiance lays with your team, not individuals. You have 30 people you are responsible for. You can’t make everyone happy but you have to try. And sometimes your Rocket turns into a Gamora and it is so rewarding to watch…

It will break your heart into million pieces when you will face the need to cut someone out of the team due to low performance but sometimes it needs to be done. It will hurt, it’s nothing pleasant and you will always live with the thought that you did it and you are alone with dealing with it.

Personally I will take a lower DPS with hunger for being better, with willingness to learn over a top dps with attitude issues at any time. Why? We might progress slower but we are going to have way more fun while doing it. And that’s what matters. I want to see the raid on calendar and think “I can’t wait” instead of trying to come up with a way of getting out of it. I don’t want to raid with 30 assholes. I want to raid with 30 people I like and respect. Or at least tolerate 😉 And I am allergic to salt and BS. I might tolerate a Scarlet Witch for some time, but if you are a Tazerface, one of us has to go and it won’t be me.

You may ask why a RL is doing all this. Well, let me tell you something. When you RL and you adapt the tacts to your team, you walk into the instance, face the boss, you pull and for next 6, 7, 8, 9 minutes you bark out orders while others say their bits, it’s like… It’s such a powerful moment. Not because you have the power, don’t get me wrong. You do have power, you’re the leader but it is not about that. If it is a powertrip then you’re doing it wrong and you shouldn’t be a RL.

You don’t care about the kill, it is the ultimate goal, yes, but you don’t look at it. You’re so immersed in the moment that you don’t even realize boss is at 3% and you’re about to kill it. You look at the team, you look at abilities, timers, CDs and suddenly you’re just…you’re alive. Your screen flashes with info, your headset is full of commands, you punch that keyboard like a pro, you’re like a terminator. You’re Tony Stark, screen is your suit, team is your Jarvis. Switch, hero, add, taunt, second pot, revival, personals, BoP the tank, push it, give me everything you got, shush not now, ress the heal, move, push add, boss at 3%, ignore add, push boss. You bark those commands, you get feedback from people, you adjust, nanoseconds only needed for reaction. Everything around you slows down but everything in front of you moves with the speed of light. You see everything clicking, you see people doing what they should be doing, you see everything being used at the right moment, you have those 30 soldiers reaching the next level of awesomeness and this is the moment you as RL live for. That execution of the tacts you worked on and adjusted during the fight, this level of understanding and communication – this is what you seek, this is what you become addicted to over the years. And deep inside you want to capture this moment and relive it over and over again. You want to feel this so badly that you push and push to experience it again. And that moment when everything clicks is everything you need to be happy. For this split second you don’t even want to kill the boss, it’s not about it.

It’s such a powerful feeling. I wish I could describe it in a way that will properly show it, but I can’t. It’s just words while that one moment is adrenaline, pressure, miliseconds only needed for reactions. Your fingers redefine muscle memory, your brain processes gigabytes of information, you zone out in real life, you are so immersed in the moment that you merge with your character. You fly without flying, you become something…Something different. It’s an adrenaline rush that is so addictive. 

And you look at your screen, you see those people pushing and you know you got yourself a team. You succeeded, you turned a random assemble of people into a proper team.

They ask me why I’m bringin’ a baby into battle

See, just because you brought 30 people to an instance doesn’t mean you already have a team. You have those random people who have different goals, objectives, definitions of fun. They come from different countries, societies, they have different social statuses, genders, pets, prefer different food and drinks. You as a Raid Leader turn this mess into a team. There will always be clashes of personalities and it is your job to address those. If you lead for lootz then you might be a decent organizer but it’s not raid leading. You don’t have a team, just a shadow of it, a random assemble and it will fall apart soon. Humans are herd animals, they need their pack to thrive. They need to feel they belong. You don’t offer them that so it’s easier for them to let go. They might leave the team at the very first opportunity, they might not work as hard as they could for team’s profit, just because there’s no bond.

What matters a lot as well is the respect. I don’t know why it is not a common sense thing. Respect is a two way highway. A RL has to respect their teammates. It not only helps with the atmosphere in the team, but also boosts the attitude and dedication – I am more eager to work for the benefit of the people I like and respect. “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” You have to respect your teammates if you are a RL, they aren’t meat nor toys. But this works both ways, as I said. A RL respected by their team will be even more dedicated. Why is it so hard to comprehend that interrupting me as I am talking is rude? It’s not even a secret raid knowledge you come across when you sacrifice your kidney to a God of Wisdom, it’s common sense, it’s basic manners. If your parents didn’t teach you something so basic, there’s not much hope a RL will. We will clash.

When your tank pulls that damn boss, you as RL announce incoming stuff and what to do, even tho those people should know it already. If the raid is at 20 seconds mark into the fights, you’re 5 seconds ahead, already tracking the positions and what is going to happen next. You already know that Jack is too close to the edge and when boss uses ability ABC in 7.4 seconds, Jack will fall off of platform. So you address it. If Jack is smart, he will instantly adjust his position. Fight goes on. But if Jack is a Quicksilver, you will go “stack. Stack. Please stack. JACK, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, STACK ON THAT FUCKING MARKER!” but it was too late, Jack died, it is your fault somehow fosho and everyone is telling you to chill. Nobody cares that you have 20+ Jacks in the team and you have to call out the most basic stuff out. Fire bad, move out. Fire bad, move out. How many times do I have to tell you fire is bad? Let’s go again. Ugh, ffs, guys, fire bad. Fire bad. For Cthulhu’s sake, just wipe it. Let’s go again. Fire bad, fire bad, fireeeeee baaaaad. And you reach that point where you want to start calling people out for being idiots. Or you want to punch the screen. I don’t mind calling out crucial stuff for people but for crying out loud, if I have to kill myself on every end boss at each tier to be able to announce even the tiniest bit of info to people – I am not going to be impressed. “In 6.2 seconds move two steps to the right because there will be a huge pool of bad stuff under you. That huge wave of shit coming your way? Yeah, move out. Yes, now, mov…nvm.” I wish everyone knew how annoying it is. My job is to lead a raid, call out crucial things, not play the game for 30 people.

I mentioned before that humans are pack animals. For some unknown reasons most of us are followers, not leaders. You can’t be a Raid Leader if you are a follower. “Umm, tank, I know it might be irritating, but could you pretty please move the boss out of fire?” I don’t have time for this, by the time I finish such sentence, the tank will be dead. “Tank, move, now.” RL is like a director. You have the stars on the screen yes, but it is the director organizing everything and conducting the team’s performance. You have to be a leader, not a follower, in the raid field at least, to RL properly. You need to make the decision and take the responsibility for it. Only then the team can succeed. And during the fight, even if you are ok with having another leader type people in the team, during the fight there is only one leader and it is you. Call outs, feedback – that’s ok, but too many cooks mean nothing to eat. Your team will fail sooner or later if you don’t have it in yourself to lead them.

Because raiding is about a team. You get people with various learning curve or skills. Sometimes you get a Pollock picture turned into a pile of puzzle pieces. When those pieces start to fit in, when those random dots turn into a bigger picture – you feel so happy, so pleased. Maybe it is just me but having a bad player gradually turn into something extraordinary feels better than killing a final boss. I can live without that kill, seeing someone grow sustains me.

To make a team out of random assemble of people, you have to see them as individuals they are. The bigger the group is, the more attention they require. So today you are a raid leader, tomorrow you’re a mother – especially when you give them that “I am not mad, I am just so disappointed” talk. Day after you’re their therapist. Most of the time you are this teacher in kindergarten. you’re the parent, manager, boss, colleague, parent, assistant, slave, buddy, parent, punching bag, shoulder to cry on, guard, teacher, adviser, parent. Did I already mention that Raid Leading is a lot like parenting? The difference from “regular” parenting is that you have 30 kids, not single digits; they are all in their teens or in terrible two phase and you can drink all the wine you want, nobody will call the authorities on you.

Yes, RLing boosts substance abuse, just not the substance you might suspect. Some RLers prefer wine. Some look at the screen, facepalm hard and go for chocolate, jaffa cakes, chips. I know a RL that needed energy drinks and chicken to be happy. Team wipes and he is like “doesn’t matter, had chicken.” Proper Leeroy. In my case it’s mainly coffee. And sushi. Sometimes I see a raid going wrong and I am just sitting back, going like “I really need a hug and sushi right now.” It’s a dangerous thing tho because you may hear a question directed at you or a ready check just as you took this huuuuge pile of wasabi in and you’re crying your eyes out while grasping for a breath of air while trying to say “don’t pull” on Discord. Like I did once. You also start judging the issues by the amount of coffee they will require to be solved. “Oh this is a simple one, a cup will do.” “Oh this one is harder, I’ll take a mug.” “This one? Mega mug and I’ll start my coffee machine.” What comes in handy tho is the fact that as RL you pretty quickly learn to pee in less than a minute. If you’re smart with preplanning, you can pee and get a cup of fresh coffee in less than 1.5 minute. Tested. And that includes washing your hands because eww, come on, wash your hands, kids. You will soon learn that 10 minutes break is not for you, it’s for everyone else BUT you. Pee whenever you can, don’t count on the break.

That’s really irresponsible and getting them rattled

So you get to a boss, your team becomes a team, you have the tactics you worked for days on, this is it. Everyone is hyped, gemmed, enchanted, they all have flasks and food. Everything clicks, you are on fire, your team is on fire, that one afk dps is on fire too, boss is on fire, your whole screen is on fire and you feel sooo alive. This is it, you worked so hard, so long to bring the team here. And then the boss dies, everyone cheers, there are screams of joy, you are so happy ready to cry from joy, people start going “I changed the item equipped before the pull, it made the difference” or “I switched the talent, it was what made the difference!” …aaaand you wish you could go back to that pre kill moment. Because it’s never your achievement. It’s never your hard work that got people here. It’s never you sitting with them going through logs, it’s not you telling them what to switch to, it’s not you announcing stuff during the fight. It’s not you forcing them to enchant or practice the elements of the fight. It’s not you staring at Reddit pages at 4 am looking for that missing bit of info. It’s not you watching the timers, it’s not you writing class guides for people even tho you don’t play their classes, it’s not you being their moral support, adviser and guidance. It is not yelling them into doing what they should. It is not you getting them into extra runs by pulling strings so that they can get extra gear and catch up. It’s never you. In fact they carried you since you are the lowest dps. Fosho. It’s always them doing something. You should thank them. You? You don;t deserve anything. And you are brutally put back into the reality of being the most hated person in the team. Raid Leader, the annoying party pooper that doesn’t allow us to leap of faith the tank out of boss’ range or banned us from dissing each other, boohooo. Because simple “thank you for leading” means everything for you but nothing for everyone else.

Success always belongs to everyone in the team, failure is yours only. You had wrong tacts, you didn’t spot a tunnel from someone, you didn’t wipe their asses, you didn’t make them coffee, they tripped over their shoes because you forgot to tie them, whatever really. They might not know what went wrong but they are sure it is your fault somehow. The sooner you accept it, the less stressed you will be about it. But you will never fully stop being bitter about it. Even if you hide it well and enjoy the kill, nobody will appreciate how much time you’ve spend preparing for it because nobody knows and nobody cares. Sad but true. But when that random bunch of people turns into a team; when a mediocre player does something extraordinary; when people start thinking outside of the box, you feel so proud of them. You’re like a parent at times, teaching the kid how to ride a bike. Suddenly the kid starts riding it on their own, without your help and it is the kid’s achievement yes, but you feel so proud of what they became, of what they are capable of doing. That kid hates you, yes, but it is still your kid.

I say “give me a break, get off my back dammit”

I complained about not getting the credit for the kill, it might sound like whining. Don’t get me wrong, one person will not get the kill. One person might prevent you from it but we’re not talking about it now. It’s just that there will never be another person that spends more time preparing for the fight than a Raid Leader. Nobody will lose sleep over a boss kill – RL will. Nobody will be browsing the internet at 4am looking for that one missing bit of info – RL will. Nobody will be crafting feasts at 3am counting how many mats the team has and still needs – RL will. And what do you get as a reward? Satisfaction that the boss died. Nobody will thank you.

I remember when we were doing a final boss one tier. I think by the time we got the kill I could give tacts in my sleep. I’ve spent hours and hours on studying them. So I give the tacts, I polish the elements, I assign roles. We kill it, everyone cheers, I am in heaven, this is why I do it. And someone says to one of our officers: “thank you, <not_my_name>, you calling it out was a real game changer.” I wanted to leave that friggin instance at this point. It was a slap on the face. I asked this person to call it out because I trusted them, I knew they will do it perfectly. I also knew it needs to be called out as it was an element people were struggling with. I was calling out other stuff. But it doesn’t matter for people. You don’t deserve the thanks. After all, we all got the kill and played a role to get here. But hey, a wipe? Totally your fault. Someone stood in wrong place? Your fault you didn’t tell them. Someone AFK’d to watch Netflix? Your fault too, you were probably too boring with tacts. Tacts they don’t know but hey, your fault too, can you make them more entertaining?

Sure, next time I’ll vocalize them to the tune of Witcher. Maybe then you will not /dance and play with toys like a friggin 5yo kid while I am trying to make sure your tiny brain comprehends the idea that fire = bad. Maybe some day you will get it but I won’t hold my breath.

How hard is it to understand really? Basic. Manners. I speak = you are silent. You don’t talk over me, you twat. It’s not rocket science. And do you really, like REALLY think that it is ok to ignore what I am telling you to do? For some magical reason, I am the RL and you are not. What are you proving when you don’t follow my orders? Is it making your tiny epeen bigger? Does it make you happy? Does it give you satisfaction you can’t otherwise find elsewhere? Do you have an attention span of a goldfish? Weird, I thought I am working with an adult. If you are one not just by age – prove it. Speak when you should, do what you are being asked to do, shut your mouth when you should not be talking.

And how hard is it to understand that when you post lyrics, chat, dance, play with toys when I say the tacts or go afk when I do a ready check – you are a rude asshole? Why is the concept of respecting my time so hard to comprehend for you? Do you really need an extra explanation why this kind of behaviour is not welcomed? Do I need extra crayons for it? Talk to me, let me know, maybe I will make that extra effort if you are not a lost case for me yet.

I didn’t learn parenting, my daddy was a planet

Everyone who knows me, knows I am a big softie. I give people more chances than they deserve. Most of the time people use the second chance properly but every now and then someone will just play me, taking advantage of my good heart. It’s my fault tho, I let them, believing them and in them. It’s not easy to get me to a point when I am done with someone but once I am done – I am done for good.

There comes a moment in the life of each RL where you have to make harsh decisions. Bench, kick, stern talk. Each thing will drain you and leave its toll on you. This is why it is important, crucial even, that you surround yourself with officers you trust without even a shadow of doubt. You can’t go on without people who will be there next to you able to tell you that you are making the wrong decision. People who will not be afraid to stand up to you if needed. But also people who will let you cry when you need it; that will cheer you when you are pissed. People who will deal with your venting and then will throw a joke at you once the storm is over. People who will listen. People who will get it if you just need to have a day off. People who will step up when you are barely conscious due to a cold. People who will message you when you forget to put down the markers or will do it for you.

Look at your officers if you are a RL. Do you trust them? Can you rely on them? If your answer is yes, you have a solid basis for a proper team. Because people will come and go, officers will be there for you if you need to start all over again. And if you are a raider, look at your officer team. Do you trust them? Do you see them supporting RL?

Harsh decisions are harsh but they need to be done. One person is enough to kill your team. Team members need to have a raider mentality, they need to have the same main goal as you. And your goals should be in harmony with the guild you’re in. If the people you raid with don’t want to be the team players, if they constantly undermine you or work against you, they work against the team. And your duty is to protect the team. So it’s time for a stern talk. And if they still go on, it is time to say goodbye. If you can’t say goodbye – it’s time for you to leave the position of RL.

Easier said than done, I know, I know. But you have to ask yourself if keeping a top dps there is worth the stress if they are the rotten apple. You have to come to the conclusion on this, nobody can make the decision for you. You either put up with this or you put an end to it. Only you as RL can make this decision. Again, you are alone with it. 

For me surprisingly such turning moment was a raid day right when we were progressing. Day before everyone was acting like a 10yo kiddo, everything was going to shit and tacts execution was non existent. I had a rant at people but it felt like talking to a brick. It felt like the last straw, I got into a dead end as RL. On the next day my main tank wasn’t there due to real life commitments. We had a backup and things were going well. We get to our progression boss, Fetid I mentioned before, I change the tacts and whine begins. Why this, why that. Because I friggin say so, that’s why! Ok, I didn’t say it but I really wanted to. Because I have discussed it with another RL, because I went through the logs, because people don’t listen. Trust me, I know what I am doing, I have been doing it for years. We oneshot the boss. Boom.

We move on to the next boss. Few decent pulls, we’ll get this tonight. Another thing that drives me nuts. I am asking people to switch to the add. That add is casting a certain spell that is absolutely annihilating us. It has to die before the second cast goes off. At this point I already know that some people have problems with understanding why they are supposed to do something. Or maybe they think I only pretend I know how to read logs. Well, tough life, love, I see what you are doing. So I got myself a Weak Aura that tracks who dpses what. Add spawns. “Switch. Switch. I am saying it to everyone, switch.” Of course there is a friggin primadonna that knows better. He doesn’t switch. We wipe, we go in again. Add spawns, on top of the diva. “Switch. Switch. Guys, I really can see what you are doing. Switch.” Cthulhu wept, how many times do I have to ask? We wipe, we go in, here we go again. I call the diva by his name. What do I get? He won’t switch because he is AOEing. On a ST fight. Bravo. We go in, add spawns, switch, nope. “Ok, how about you stay after the raid so that I can have a convo with you?” “How about I don’t have time for you then, maybe on Saturday?” Oh, sunshine. How about I call a break then have a chat with you now. Or should I say a monologue because at this point I am not interested in a conversation anymore. What happens after? Our diva goes to his buddies and complains about me, apparently my claims are unreasonable. Too bad logs don’t support this theory. Diva logs off, he’s a decent dps, shame but oh well. Soon after his best buddy, our top dps, has issues with internet. He has to log off. Ok. Two pulls later we get the boss down. without MT and two top dpsers. Lesson for them, lesson for me – nobody is irreplaceable. 5 minutes after the raid is done, top dps logs back and does BGs with his buddies. His internet fixed itself.

Do you know how liberating it is to realize that the numbers those people bring to the party no longer hold you hostage and force you to deal with their bullshit? Call me all you want, hate me all you want. Cross the line and you will regret it. Don’t try to walk over me, your fall may be really painful. And don’t think I am stupid. I might be naive, I might be too soft and lenient but I am not stupid.

Another dpser wasn’t switching either. Word reached him I am done with BS so he messaged me with explanation before I messaged him telling him we need to talk. Spec limitations. I mentioned before that RL always has to know the basics of each spec. But a smart RL also knows who to ask for more info. I used my contacts and got myself full info about the class. Yes, everyone playing this spec is switching. honest talk with the guy and my Cap turned into Steve Rogers. <3

After the run was done, I got into a discussion about the raid with one of our members. He claimed that the more “pro” player is, the more legit need for my explanation on why I am changing the tactics. I totally disagree with this statement – the more “pro” player is, the more they know about the fight, boss and their spec. So they can easily answer “why” themselves, they see why it is being done without explanation.

Zardu Hasselfrau

Being a Raid Leader means being alone. It means making the decisions, calls, alone. Everyone is looking at you. You’re in a spotlight. People act like they are either too scared to talk to you or they are your best friend and you wonder if they are honest with you. If they tell you everything. Not many people can comprehend the fact that who you are as Officer/RL and who you are in private can be two different “personas”. It’s like you live twice, like you have this mask on. You have to be more strict as RL, time limits you. Nobody understands your complaints and nobody cares. Nobody sees how hard you work and nobody cares. Nobody understands how heartbreaking it is when you try to help your team and people talk over you, ignoring you. Like you mean nothing. And nobody cares. 

And nobody cares about how much you do. You don’t matter. When latest expansion hit, everyone was running around doing dungeons, I was farming reputation for recipes for the team. Someone had to do it and obviously everyone, including myself, assumed it will be me. When people formed groups that went to farm Heroics to get gear before raids, I was farming resources and leveling professions so that I can craft cauldrons and feasts for my team. Nobody thought about asking me to join the runs. And when people were getting last pieces of gear needed to push them above the requirements, I was sorting recruitment for the team. Because this is my job and everyone takes me for granted in this aspect. Nobody cares that to craft that shit I need to farm Mythics and WQs for gear I can disenchant to get mats needed for cauldrons. Nobody will help with that. In fact, majority of people don’t even know what the recipe needs. Our RL will sort it, let’s do another dg. And I wish I was the only RL getting such treatment. You leveled a new alt because we need this particular class? Gear it yourself, nobody will help you. Hey, RL, why is a spreadsheet not updated? Why didn’t you PM me with info? What do you mean the info is on the website and I can see it myself? I am pretty sure you are ok with answering the same thing 15 times in a row, just because I am too dumb to show minimum effort and check it myself. Hey RL? RL! Helllooooo!

It’s like you’re a slave, a toy everyone can ignore, walk over and exploit. Comes with the job.

Or when you tell people to do something and they still don’t do it. Are they dumb or deaf? Or both? Or maybe they are just assholes?

How can a living, feeling human being NOT see how offensive it is to ignore your RL? I mean I would maybe get it if your RL was a douche but if they aren’t, why would you not listen? What are you gaining this way? Does it make you happy to see them frustrated? Does RL’s pain make you happy? RL knows when you don’t do what you should. Come on, be realistic. You go to bed, RLers stay awake and analyze the logs. We know what you did. And you know that we know. So why are you still doing it? If that’s a one time thing, a genuine mistake – nobody will mind, we’re all just humans. But if you do it week by week, raid day by raid day, what’s your purpose? Does it make you happy that RL will be pissed? Or do you enjoy sabotaging the team? Because the best case scenario you will kill the boss but RL will still know you’re a douche. Worst case scenario you will wipe, not learn a thing thanks to it, and you will frustrate everyone who shares the team with you. Why would you play a team game when you are not a team player? Go to LFR, link your top dps, no brain there. That wipe is on you, not your RL. You didn’t follow the tacts, on purpose. You sabotaged the team. Go apologize. And when you do that, go to your RL and apologize even more. Because it is people like you that make our lives a living hell. You’re just too ignorant and self absorbed to realize how much damage you are doing to others. Or you simply don’t care, which only makes you even worse.

How hard is it to comprehend that there’s this one person, a RL, that does everything they can to help 30 people, bringing a personalized service to every single one of them?This person needs a reassurance, this one needs a push. This one just needs to vent. And a RL does that for them – RL listens, explains, analyzes, supports. All that on top of 50 million other things they are doing. So how do you justify being an ass to someone like that. How do you explain the fact you try to take advantage of them being tired and paying less attention. Or you try to exploit them. How do you explain the fact you don’t listen? Does it boost your ego? Does it make you feel better that you had it your way? Or are you simply a douche that is playing a team game but is not a team player? What’s your side of the story? Do you have a legit reason for being a twat or is it just who you are? Go play Dota. You will fit in. Don’t play WoW, it’s PG12, you’re mentally too undeveloped to comprehend the basics of an MMO. 

How can you justify not supporting someone who sacrifices so much for your and team’s benefit? How do you explain walking over them whenever you can, just for lulz? 

Being a RL means being lonely. Nobody will understand what you actually do. Or why. Nobody will understand why you care about those brats that you call a team. Or why the second you have few days off, you can’t even look at the game. Or why you wish to do something on your own, without having to deal with their stuff. Nobody will comprehend the fact that feasts don’t craft themselves, cauldrons require mats, tacts need to be adjusted. You tell people you’re busy and that they should post future absences on forums? But they messaged you! Do it for them! Thanks? For what? It’s your job! Yeah, but this job doesn’t pay well, hours suck, co-workers are not always the brightest and someone stole your lunch from the fridge.

And when you finally snap and tell people to get their shit together, you will hear how unprofessional it is. Or they will claim you just have one of your moods. It defo has nothing to do with the fact you feel unappreciated. And the silence… There’s nothing as deafening as the silence you get when you call people out. You try to nail the problem but nobody’s talking. They just know you are annoyed so they stay silent. Let the RL vent, they will calm down. It’s what RLers do, right? They bitch about stuff that bothers only them, nobody else. Not sure why people think silence is the best solution but it is not. And then you see some random person dissing you on member’s stream and nobody is standing up to them, defending you. You feel betrayed, hurt.

It’s a perpetuum mobile. A never ending cycle. You set the boundaries. People slowly start testing how far they can go. You lower your guard, they push further. You don’t react. You want to be the buddy RL. What’s the harm in being less strict for once? Oh it’s a one time thing, oh it must be this or that. YOU find excuses for them because, come on, you set the boundaries? Why would they cross them? Must be something out of character? Other people start pushing. You realize you snoozed through something, missed a sign of a revolt, but you still won’t say anything. Maybe it will go away. You don’t need to point out each and every case, right? This is not military. You become frustrated. People keep pushing. You snap. People tell you to calm down, it’s just a joke, maaaan! Chill! But you don’t want to calm down, you want people to understand what they are putting you through. But they can’t understand. Nobody speaks. Silence deafens you. You shatter into pieces. Boundaries are rebuild, spotlight is again always on you. Each word you say is being analyzed under a microscope. Nobody laughs at your jokes. Nobody knows how to approach you. You are even more lonely. Cycle continues. You set the boundaries. People start testing the waters. What’s the harm in being less strict for once? Cycle turns into a downward spiral once more. The cycle never ends. Only thing you can do is to prepare yourself a bit better for the hit that will come. And it’s not IF it will come, it’s WHEN

It will always be presented as you being the only one having a problem with it. Because nobody speaks. Nobody ever speaks. They whisper. And only you and the officers know about those whispers. If it bothers only me, then why do I have people messaging me that they don’t feel well in the team? And do you really think it is just venting? What makes you think there was nothing you did that made me snap? “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” When you are a RL, you’re close to becoming a Scarlet Witch if you don’t pay attention. And there’s nobody who gets what you feel. When you are so alone, you start to question your decisions, your sanity, your goals. You become your own worst enemy. Every remark, every action, everything becomes suspicious and you begin to go mad. What if you are the one stopping the team from progressing? What if you were too harsh? What if you should have let that douchebag who doesn’t listen get away with it? Maybe you shouldn’t have berated your tank for pulling three packs of mobs and wiping the group? Maybe you shouldn’t have benched that dps for not being enchanted. You did remind people for 3 weeks straight but maybe you should have been more lenient?

While ago I was telling my “superior” how I struggle with everything I mentioned above. So I open my heart to someone who in definition should be there to back me up. His answer? “Quit”. “I am sorry?” “Quit it if you don’t like it.” “Well I have a team I am responsible for.” “So?” “So someone has to sort the team.” “So?” “…” “Maybe someone will.” “Gee, maybe you?” “Me? No, too much hassle.” Stunning. I should be grateful tho, this “advice” reminded me why I am doing it even when I struggle – because I have a responsibility towards my team and I do my job properly. Plus I believe that you try to fix something before you quit. And even tho at first I was speechless when I heard his “advice”, after I chewed on it,  it only made me stronger. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean I have to lower my standards to your level. I do care and that makes me a better RL, even if at times it makes me exposed or drained. 

Fuck it, stop doubting yourself. It’s not you. It’s the rotten apples. You do so much, you try so hard. You are so dedicated. You’re not a general in the army. If people can’t understand basic concepts of when to joke and when not; how far is too far; why talking over someone is rude – it’s not your fault. You are not a parent to 29 odd souls. You’re the Raid Leader. And if people don’t understand why your efforts help them be better – then so be it, they don’t have to, says more about them than you. It’s not your failure, it’s theirs. All that matters is that you – YOU – are the one they have to listen to. You have the power to enforce it. And it is perfectly fine to do so. You’re responsible for tactics, execution, preparation. NOT for people being idiots. What you’re responsible for is their future in this particular team. Maybe they are nice people, but if they are not helping the team, they shouldn’t be your responsibility any longer. Look how far you already got the team. You did it. You! You led the team to so many victories already! You’re not a carpet, you are a Raid Leader. This is not a kindergarten, this is a raiding team. So crawl out of the mud, stand up, chin up and let’s go. 

Because this is what us RLers do – we take a hit after hit after hit, we fall, then we get up, dust ourselves off and keep going. Direction: awesomeness. 

In these times of hardship just remember…

You are so alone, so lonely as a RL, until you realize that you’re not. Suddenly you learn that other RL has the same problem, another RL went through it in the past, other sees first signs of the same situation. And you realize – you are not alone. There’s someone who listens to you, nods and says “I totally get what you are saying, I’ve been through it.” Do you know how relieving it is to learn that all your experiences are validated, that you are not a madman? That you’re not weak, just human? And that you reached a limit, a bump in your path, but there’s someone who stands next to you and tells you they believe in you? They believe you can get up and keep going? And they believe you are the person for the job? That you do something good, something worth the tears and sweat it costs. Something that makes the difference? And that comes from people you would never suspect of knowing how it feels. People you look up to. And they tell you they had doubts, they lost it, they questioned everything. It makes you realize what needs to be done. And you realize you knew it for a while already, you just waited too long with doing it.

So you get up, look around and you start seeing people you forgot about. Your officers who always had your back. Your friends who always gave you space when you needed it but were roaming nearby like satellites, just in case. And then you look at the team you worked with for so long. Maybe there are bad apples there, you know what needs to be done with them at this point, but majority? Good people, people you like, people you respect. They are not your best friends. Probably never will. Not until they realize that you- you and RL-you can be two different people. But even if they won’t, those are still the people that follow you, each week, boss by boss. They push you, yes, but they still follow your lead. They don’t undermine you, they don’t backstab you. They are Tonys and Draxes and Gamoras and Steves…. And they are human, just like you. They come to you for guidance. They listen when you explain. They do stupid stuff, yes, they make mistakes, they talk over you – not because they are evil, they just don’t know. It’s not that they don’t care, they just never realized that you spend up to 30 hours a week doing something for them. They see only 6, maybe 9 of it. Maybe 12. It dawns on you that your responsibility is the whole team but it’s them, those particular people, that make it worth it. You do it all for them. Not for the team, for those members. You would not be RL if it wasn’t for them. But they would not be a team if it wasn’t for you.

And this is when you realize that they will never understand how deafening and hurtful silence is, how their ignorance is destroying you, but you can live with that. Because they do it out of lack of knowledge. At the same time you realize that you do actually have support. And there are people who know what you go through because they go through same stuff. It’s empowering. You’re tired, exhausted, emotionally bruised but also stronger. Your strength, your determination is what keeps the team going. But the team keeps you going. One can’t exist without another. Team won’t go far without proper leader, leader is nothing without the team.

I often say that the team I lead is the most broken team I have ever seen. On paper it had no chances of becoming a legit thing. On paper it was doomed to fail. But not only this turned into a proper team – it started succeeding on every aspect. People got along, people started developing skills they never thought about. They grew so much – both as players and people, achieved so much. This team is my baby. For me they are more successful than Method. Sure, they might not have the kills Method has, but for me they are the winners. My team is full of Tonys, Gamoras, Draxes and Steves. Sure, we have some odd Quicksilvers and Tazerfaces, but overall this is a team I absolutely adore. Most of the time at least, haha. Few rotten apples however can spoil it for everyone. It’s just not fun anymore. But when you work with those Tonys and Draxes…It’s like a dream come true. You learn so much from them, you see them growing as players and people and you are so happy for them, so proud! And just when you think they can’t amaze you more, they do something that leaves you stunned and grateful to whatever you believe in that you had a chance to see it. Their courage is inspiring, their dedication fuels you. You look at kill pics, at how far you came with them. You will never hear that “thank you” but do you need it? Or is it enough that you know how much you did and there are people – people who matter to you – that know it as well? Do you need validation from everyone? Or does quality of validation stand above quantity? Isn’t it more important that people who have full picture hold you in high regard and appreciate each bit you do? They see that bit, they know it is there. So why so desperately seek acceptance from people who are like Jon Snow and know nothing? Maybe it is time to accept the fact that you might be lonely as RL but you are not alone. And that if those people can show the minimum effort to get to know you, then maybe they are not worth your time and stress over it? Easier sad than done, but maybe in our search for the perfection, in our constant push for next challenge we forgot to stop for a second, to look back and to give ourselves some credit for what we achieved. Because this is what you do as RL – you push – for next kill, for better performance. Maybe we scrutinize ourselves more than others. Maybe we should cut ourselves some slack and for once treat ourselves with leniency, just like we’re sometimes lenient to those who deserve it. Maybe we should remember that we’re humans too, not robots. Humans with their weaknesses, moods, emotions. Mistakes. Maybe it is ok to make a mistake every now and then. Maybe we should not look at each mistake as a catastrophe. Maybe we should give ourselves more credit, even if we are the only ones that will ever do it.

This is when you realize what you need to do and what you need to become. Even if it means slowing down progression or rebuilding the team. You can do it. You already did it at least once. There is nothing that will stop you from doing it again. Especially if you know that you are not the only person going through shit like this.

We. Are. Groot.

All subtitles to this post come from Soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, “Guardians’ Inferno” to be specific and there is a reason for it. Guardians were this weird group, forced to cooperate, united by common goal. Totally not compatible with each other, enemies eventually turned into friends. Guardians of the Galaxy were born. And this is how I feel about the core of the team I lead. I might have fought with them in the past, we might have had arguments that were full of yelling but here we are, as friends. And I am never kicking them from the team, unless they ask for it or do something really stupid which honestly I can’t see them doing. You might say it is bias, favoritism. But after writing everything I wrote above I realized one thing – the victory tastes better with people who share the same goals as me and the guild, same values. Victory with top numbers might be faster but nothing is as cold as the loneliness of being in the group with people who don’t give a damn about you. Victory tastes better with people who I could always count on when needed. And what is a team? Is it that assemble you bring into an instance? Or is team made of people who actually work for the benefit of the pack, rest is random guests? What makes a team? Dedication?

One thing that definitely makes the team is shared goals. This means that you can have 30 people in the ranks but only 20 will be actual team. Damn, it can even mean that you have people not in the rank that are de facto your team mates. Even if they weren’t in my team, even if they never raided with us, they always supported us, they helped me get better as a player and human being. They cheered, they advised, they explained. Those core members, those “extras” – they are my team and with them lies my allegiance and loyalty. 

You know who you are. Thank you.

If at the end of the raid, after the kill, you only want to log off and forget about the experience – don’t do it, it will eat you alive. It’s not worth it. Set your goals, set the values. Find people who share them or can grow to respect them. You will rediscover the fun.

I found my Guardians of the Galaxy and I am having fun raiding with them. They make my hard work worth it. I still have Wasps and Tazers I need to remove but I am getting there. My team helps me make that happen. 

Find your Guardians, get rid of Tazerfaces. Good luck.


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