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Why Slacking Helps You Raid

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

I confess. My raiders and I have been bashing our heads against a brick wall for a couple of weeks. Our heads have been filled by the red mist ‘o wrath. We’d got the first wing of Icecrown Citadel on farm but our next focus, Rotface, ‘brokseded’ us time and again.

The brick wall suddenly came down on Sunday night. We had an experimental snipe at the Princes and then marched into the Plagueworks to slaughter Festergut and have a positive pop at Rotface. So what happened to stop us seeing red?

Change.

What change has that effect, I hear you cry? Did we change players? Did we somehow plunder a trove of 277 gear? Did we hardwire exact playing requirements into our members while they slept? Not at all. We merely tweaked one of our raiding practices: breaks.

I’ve always said they’re important in raids – it gives your raiders a chance to breathe. Sunday night taught us that organised breaks are even better.

Really regular breaks. We announced to our band of brigands at the start of the evening that we’d be calling a three minute break every 30 minutes, and that we’d like them to be sure to wait until then for quick AFKs for drinks and the like.

Wow, every 30 minutes? Those are a lot of breaks, I hear you cry. It’s a wonder we got anything done, right? Wrong.

Give yourselves regular chances to slack – that is, relax – and you’ll come back after the break more focused than had you pushed on and sat for an hour, two hours, wiping. Your head won’t be full of red mists so there’ll be room for useful things like remembering to move out of slime spray.

Movin’ n’ shaking. Several of my guild play in the same room on raid nights. Usually during a break we stare at the computer screens and brainstorm tactics in increasingly stressed tones.

Instead we decided to test out a terrifying concept during breaks: moving away from the computers and out of the room. We strongly recommended to our raiders that they do the same. We found that the simple change in space and environment again helped us to feel fresh and focused when the break was over. Even just moving about and stretching helped relax some tension. If you have time and inclination to fit in a few actual exercises, you’ll feel all the more responsive in the raid.

Time, gentlemen. After each break we announced the time of the next one. Sounds simple, but I think this was the key to the whole break renovation. Raiders need their creature comforts, right? And if they don’t know when a break’s coming then they’ll slide off after wipe 20 and get the drink they desperately need or the smoke to relieve stress. Meanwhile the rest of the group grumbles while waiting for them to return from their unannounced break.

By announcing break times, we’re allowing raiders to plan ahead. It means they don’t need to feel guilty about making the group wait on them. importantly it also gives them some control back over their own comfort. Our lock wants coffee? He knows the next break is in 10 minutes and can hang on until then.

Content breaks. I don’t mean a break in gameplay. I mean mix your encounters up to get the balance right between learning the fights and actually still having fun. You’re sick to the back teeth of bouncing on Festergut? Right, about time you take your raid to meet the Princes. Perhaps later on go to pay Rotface a visit.

You’re not being inefficient by not forcing yourselves to sit there and practice a fight: quite the opposite. Cut yourselves some slack if you’re working hard and not getting anywhere; you might find you slaughter the next encounter you head to and earn yourselves a morale boost. That’s efficiency.

 

These are small changes but could be useful to any raid group out there. You’re a 3 year-old guild running your A team? Or perhaps you’re running a PUG (breaks are not a PUG killer any more than giving your raid a little bit of trust, but such PUG raid myths is a topic for a future post). In my opinion these changes are crucial for any sort of raid group. Why? Let me explain what I think a well-run raid group is:

  • It’s a social activity. If someone in our group is not having fun for some reason we get uncomfortable and more stressed. Then Rotface smashes us more easily, morale plummets, stress goes up. Vicious circle. Having a break allows us to peel ourselves away from the stressful game environment and remember that it’s a social occasion, too.
  • It’s a team sport. Sure, we don’t leave the comfort of our computer desks and run up and down a pitch for several hours. We do work together using tactics, formations and roles to achieve a common aim. Sports benefit from breaks; think of the oft touted stories of football players eating oranges at halftime, or a weight-lifter taking breaks between sets so they can achieve their best for longer.
  • It’s a company. Wait, that sounds a little mercenary – try ‘organisation’. Either work. Like most companies, we expect our members to perform a certain job and they’re paid for successful tasks with emblems – and occasional epic perks. We invest time and effort to skill-up our members so that they can achieve goals, and improve all the time. We provide a safe (and because it’s a game, fun) environment for them to perform their tasks. All of these are good practices for a company, at least according to a particular book (see below) on company organisation. And like any good company in accordance with this book, we’re flexible enough to cut them a little slack to give them room to be their best.

A person will work better, be more focused, if they feel they are trusted and have some space to relax. Running around like a headless chicken or battering your head against one encounter is not healthy. The benefits extend to groups of people, too.

“The difference between the time it takes you to [achieve your next progression] at ‘all prudent speed’ and time it would take you ‘at breakneck speed’ is your slack. Slack is what helps you arrive quickly but with an unbroken neck.”

- Slack, T. Demarco, page 208 (and a book I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to change their raiding style)

What do you think? Does this sound like a useful nugget for your raid setup? Have you been wanting to try something like this for a while and been worried that you’d not cover as much ground? Do you think I’m completely wrong and sticking on one encounter until you’ve got it is best? Or, possibly, do you think the wisdom of this vs. encounter battering is dependent on how many nights your group raids?

 

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin and restorman of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Hello 2010

Hello 2010

dawn-2010

First, congratulations to the US team for beating the Canadian team. We’ll get you back in the Olympics (seriously, that Canadian roster looks stacked with the top line from San Jose and with others).

As with every year on the blog, I try to make an annual thing out of reviewing the resolutions from last year for myself personally, the game, and the blog.

Let’s start with that. Did I meet the goals I set out to do last year?

2009 resolutions

Blog

Resolution: 3000 subscribers – Thanks to your readership, I have exceeded that and have managed to entertain 5000 bored players at work or school.

Resolution: 1.5 posts per day – Nope, not quite. My responsibilities have increased and I have not been able to fulfill that resolution. I’m working with a great crew that’s as diverse as it can get. With Lodur, Thespius and Mimetir, the blog provides a variety of insights.

Still could use that elusive Holy Pally contributor.

Game

Resolution: Top 10 server – Nope, Ner’zhul is a ridiculously competitive server. We’re barely breaking into the top 20 overall. According to Guld Ox, we’re exactly 10th Alliance side.

Resolution: Avoiding Burnout – Still here and I’m still not close to feeling any burnout. Thank goodness for cheap steam games in keeping me occupied.

Resolution: Raid achievements – Managed to pull off some of them but not as many as I’d like. The focus continues to be on progression. We’ll look at some of the other stuff later on.

Personal

Resolution: Let things go – Yep, I’ve learned to keep my distance on topics that I would have commented on in the past. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it.

Resolution: GPA to 2.5 – Nope, holding at around 2.2. I learned that distance education courses and myself just don’t agree with each other. I lack the discipline on my own. I need to actually be in a classroom where I can directly ask for clarification on stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me.

2010 resolutions

Time to set some goals and tasks for this year.

Blog

Resolution: 10000 subscribers – A bit ambitious and it will be double the current amount. It’s how I measure the progress of my blog. Page views have remained increased slightly (not in the same ratio). I’m more concerned about being read then I am with just page views.

Resolution: Consistency with NSUI – It’s a great blog and a great idea. I just wish I had more time I could devote to it. I blog about different addons and ways to help players when I can. I’ll try to start with a consistent update time on a weekly basis.

Game

Resolution: 8000 achievement points – Slowly but surely, I am getting there.

Resolution: Arthas hard mode (25) – That’s my ultimate goal.

Personal

I’m not quite sure what to do at the moment. I feel rather lost. Undecided about Crim and Communications (or Journalism) is unavailable to me. Maybe I should just finish with a BA and get out of here and start working.

Get the heck out of school would be a great resolution but I won’t be able to pull it off this year.

Poll results

Last week, I ran a poll asking if you cleared out all bosses when running heroics. Here are the results:

poll-heroics

I resounding 47% of you do go after each and every boss in the instance. The next chunk of players are indifferent and go with the flow. A staunch 16% won’t knock out all bosses if they can get away with it. I suspect those might be the players where nothing attractive remains in current heroics or from Triumph badge vendors.

Guest posts

I promised I’d write them and they’re on the way. Bear with me. If it takes me a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, I will get them finished.

WoW.com is hiring again

I stepped down from handling Spiritual Guidance to focus on more general work and Raid Rx on wow.com. The site is expanding. A healing priest and a shadow priest have been brought on for twice the priestiness.

Yes, our class is so awesome, we get two columns featured.

They’re also looking to expand again. A Resto Druid, a Holy Paladin, an addon specialist, and a lore specialist.

More healers would indeed be awesome. Now they can heal me through the various PTR runs!

Quick application tip: I’m just going to use an example on the blog here when I look over contributors who want to work with me. Don’t bite the hand that feeds. If you’re applying for a position, don’t talk trash about the employer and then apply to them expecting to be successful in your application. I’ve seen people trash my blog and the work I invest into it on their twitter or their blog  and then they get in touch with me asking why I never link to them or highlight their work.

Like, seriously? I didn’t realize there were people that dense that were out there. Blogs are google-able. Everything is accessible. Nothing is hidden.

There is a line between constructive critique and being a dumb troll. Dumb trolls don’t get very far and they never will because they just don’t learn.

In any case, if you’re even remotely thinking about applying, just give it a shot. If you read the blog on RSS, you’ll notice I insert a quote by Wayne Gretzky:

“I miss 100% of the shots I never take.”

So take chances and shoot more. You just might score one. If you’re unsure or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. There are some questions I won’t be able to answer but I can try.

It doesn’t hurt to know every pop culture reference and cult classic known to man. I was ridiculed for the longest time when I didn’t understand the Monty Python and Princess Bride references.

Which by the way, I finally watched. To be honest, I didn’t understand much of the humour. Probably a generation gap thing though.