BoondockSaints Forever

As much as I don’t want this to be a MEGA POST WALL OF TEXT, I want this to be one of the last days the BoondockSaints name actually gets used, at least in this blog. Its not because I want to kill it, or bitter about the experience there in anyway. I just think that the important thing was not the name, but the idea I wanted to sell. Time will be the judge of it being a success or a failure for others. I know for me, even though it ended, it was a great success and a good run the 3 years it lasted.

At the beginning of Cata I made a post called Loyalty and Respect, not sure how many people read it back then, but the quotes are still very relevant to this post.

“The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals.”
Rensis Likert

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Lao Tzu

Before we begin, if you are looking for dirty laundry to be aired here, don’t waste your time. Seriously get a life and go live it. I am not going to call anyone out by name, and I doubt you will be able to tie anything posted here to specifics.

If guilds were to come with mission statements, ours would have been simple. “To have a group of friends that play together, get to see end game content but above all treat guildies and the WoW community as a whole with respect.”

It is easy to point the finger solely at me being burned out as a GM or RL as the only cause for the closing of the guild. The reality is a lot more complex than that. Me getting burned out with those roles was the product of something that we tried to stamp out from day one. Drama.

If I am in a situation where nobody is taking control, I step up, its in my nature. From life and death situations, like when I had to hide my little sister in a closet from some gunmen, to the ending up running a guild because others did not like the place they were at. I will do what has to be done.

I put my WoW personal wants aside, I wanted to become a more serious raider (that never really happened) and decided to play with friends with the goal of simply seeing content.

Bea was part of the Saints from day one even though she did not play. You all have to thank her, because before I even gave into the idea of leading a guild, I sat down and asked her if it was ok. I knew that doing it will require a lot more time from me. She was never too bad with the wife aggro, but now, leading a guild would change things quite a bit. She was cool with it, and I started to build what we have now with less than 12 people.

(I think, pictured here was not Feylin but Shrev)

We quickly became very successful. Despite the fact that others always wanted to compare us with “raiding” guilds and saw the success in the game in just one of the things we could do a group, we did not set out to have that be the focus. All we wanted to do was help people out, and we did that in many ways.

<BoondockSaints> Guild
We had guild meetings, I sang off key to various members, we made fun of each other, we had inside jokes…

“Bring her closer to the door, I think I am still getting exp!”
“Anything more than a mouthful.”
“Moonya’s Safe Zone.”
“You just raid locked 24 people”
“Did we just clear trash on 25 with 10 people?” (Naxx – OS – ICC – BoT)
“_______ needs Might!”
“Sorry, my cat just unplugged my router”
“Don’t worry, its _______ there is no way he will win the roll.”

Boondock Saints LK Kill
We ended Wrath in a big way. Not only were we able to Kill the LK, but we probably had more Kingslayers before the end of Wrath than most guild in the Alliance side in our server. Just a bunch of casuals got it done.
First Alliance Guild to Level 25!
Cata promised to be tailor made for our guild. And in the beginning it was. Being the first alliance guild to 25 and getting guild achievement points, which I believe we were always number 1 on was fun. We could all do our little part to make things happen.

That is where the happy story ends, and the sad one begins.

Why even bother going into it?

It is simple, I blog because it might be useful for someone else in the future. Maybe, just maybe a future guild master can use it to prevent what happened to us from happening to them.

When you take on responsibility in any situation, complaints will come your way. Your skills to lead are constantly questioned, but seldom do you get solutions or alternatives. “You are doing it wrong, but I don’t know or would want to do it right” was very, very common.

We had always had the issue of cliques. My big mistake was to not take swift action, but I never wanted to seem power hungry. Our officers did not have a lot of responsibilities, and that was the result of drama from the beginning that was dealt with. We tried to make people address all the officers with issues by opening officer chat for everyone to post, but only officers to see. It was hardly ever used.

I tried to correct issues by taking on the problems myself under the delusion of being able to help people with the root causes. That never helped. The issues would stay dormant until they would once again rear their ugly heads.

Cata has been content low. Until we got the molten front, unless you were a raider or could do heroic dungeons… you were still dealing with the same content over and over. You grinded rep quickly and were done. Tabards made it that you only had to quest in that area until you got the tabbard, then go grind the dungeons some more.

People started to get separated by those that could do the tougher content and those that chose not to (not always because they could not, some simply chose not to.) That started to create separation.

My other big mistake, specially with raiding, was that I tried to make people be something they were not. You can take a slow group with a medium group and find a happy middle. You can do the same with a fast group and medium. I am a mediocre player at best, but I can hang with some of the better players. However, more advanced players will not want to kill the same thing over and over… and slow players are easily discouraged by deaths.

When you spend all you week in game feeling like you are grinding, things start to get stale fast. This expansion felt a lot like grinding for many… so bored people means more drama. Couple that with our server being just horrible when it came to population and the perfect storm started brewing 2-3 months back.

The Z dungeons were released at the end of April and people started to divide. From the “I can’t do Z dungeons crowd” to the “I don’t want to die 50 times” the guild started to fragment. Those dungeons really hurt the guild. To some (including me), the rehashed content seemed very gimmick driven… as I have experienced all over. Instead of running things together, we all started doing what we could do, and also most started to do whatever they wanted to do.

There is nothing wrong with playing your own game, you do pay for your own account. It did start to kill the essence of the guild. Instead of taking people for the 300th time to Halls of Reflection to get that drop, people would get on grind groups to finish whatever it is that they were doing. If you were not lucky enough for that, you would then wait on que… silent guild chat… gratz addons being the only chatter we all saw.

The raiding woes were only part of the problem and not really the center of the disintegration of our quilt. The seams were our relationships, the help we used to lend, the fun we used to have. I was also guilty of not wanting to get in vent… our daily chats became less often… we would talk to each other when one of us was being ganked. Ask anyone that took a break and came back recently and they will tell you that just our guild chat was night and day from days past.

Then little by little the anger from people started to creep up, it was not just from raiding either. People would ask for a hello and we were all too busy running something, person would take it personal and “rage disconnect.” Person would ask to group up, but everyone was already busy or qued. We did not wait for each other anymore. The new goody bag made it so tanks were rewarded to que by themselves. The sense of community being lost all over wow had finally made it into our guild as well.

In the mean time drama started to grow even larger. The trolls in our server were also getting bored and starting more drama than usual. The whole server being a ghost town started to affect the economy of even the Saints. We had been shielded from it by having everything available to us. Even the usual farmers that would keep us supplied just flat out quit farming. It was bad when bots would outnumber players in a zone like uldum (5 bots to 1 or 2 players,) but you know you are in trouble when not even bots are farming in your server anymore.

I decided to pull the plug before the infighting began. Before the finger pointed tainted what we had all built. Before you could end up angry at anyone else and lose a group of friends. This was the better way. You can see the lines that were already forming in the guild as soon as you see where everyone ends up. Think about that for a second and you will see that even though we all had the same tag, in many ways most people had already moved on.

Are there true bystanders in our guild free of fault in all of this?

I could tell you dozens of little stories on how I failed to be a better leader. How with a swift kick I could have avoided X amount of drama. But I was not about that, the guild was not about that. The guild was to be a place where you felt included as long as you wanted to be and did not trow tantrums. All that does not matter now.

Before I could finish this post Theydrin actually posted something that is very true… the server, the toons, the tag under your name matters NOT. What matters is the friends that you made. Quit thinking of what the guild was, enjoy the game for what it is, and cheerish the relationships that you made. Move forward. All I ask of you now as your former guild leader is keep the Saints spirit alive. Treat others with respect, it really matters in the game and also in life.

After about 3 weeks of stomach pains over this decision becoming final and trying to see if there was other options I feel a sense of closure. I know that many mistake my decision to not discuss some details out in the open, or with even the whole guild as not being transparent. Trust me when I tell you that it is tempting to just let everyone know exactly who leaving the guild hurt me the most, or how someone’s words affected my decision or didn’t but it really accomplishes nothing. I want to leave all of that stuff behind and I ask that you do the same. What is done is done.

All I want to remember now is the good times, and how a group of very diverse and different people were able to play an online game together for 3 years! Here is to all the good times, all the laughs, all the jokes, all the friends we have all made. The tag might be gone, but all the relationships, which is what is really important, should still be there for all you. Thanks to every single one of you! Thanks to all the Saints past and present.


PvP Meeting

Sethria’s Roost

I started to play WoW in a PvP server from the very beginning. I have been to other servers, but never leveled anything past level 10. It has been always alliance, always AzShara <- yea I spell it like that... or used to anyway. The molten front dailies have brought alliance and horde back to clashing. In an underpopulated server, its all about the luck of the draw when you get there to work on your dailies. If you are the side with the numbers, wohoo, lets get this done. If you are not... then welcome to a miserable time. In PvP servers people don't get it when you are not interested in PvP. I have PvP gear, I can hold my own in must battles. When you are questing though, it is almost never a fair battle, a mob has you half health and a stealth or range comes over and burns you down quickly. I don't care how good you are at the game, when you get ganked, it will some times turn into an annoyance. I personally deal with it by either leaving the area if I am outnumbered or giving the player 2 - 3 battles to establish a "winner." If I am outmatched, then I simply leave the area. Many of the people I play don't get that concept, they continue to go back and the ganker has just too much fun killing them over and over. I don't get it myself, I can let go of a current objective and go do something else... but some people are not like that and want to accomplish that goal before they move on to something else. My wife is one of those people. Even though she has not the only one that has nerdraged hardcore about being ganked, she is the one that I get to hear get progressively frustrated. Sometimes I drop what I a doing and come to her "rescue" hoping to outnumber the ganker, sometimes she just logs into another character. It happens often now that the molten front is the place where a shinny new mount resides. Sethria's Roost is a mess of annoying design. Not only is the resurrection spot very far away from the place, if you are unlucky enough to fall off the clift, there is the chance that you cannot get to your body and WILL have to take the durability loss and rez sickness. I personally have died in Sethria's Roost more times since the molten front came out than all other places combined since Cata came out(Excluding Raids and Dungeons). Doing the TB dailies I would die maybe once a week when someone felt like PvPing. It was fun for me most of the time and I did not mind having to complete those dailies. The Roost is not the same place though, you are joined by NPCs that "help" you... but they have the side effect that they will attack the opposing faction if they get too close. Even when I carefully wait my turn to engage mobs in the area, sure enough some else runs and hits the horde character and it turns into a mini battle. The chances of being outnumbered in that area in AzShara are pretty good, so you end up with a long walk back. Sure you can take revenge, but I don't wish that walk on another player, even if they tried to gank me. One night a boomkin was there, I can't remember if I attacked first or if he just hit one of my "helpers" with an AoE. Bottom line was that even after I backed off, there was going to be a battle and he knew how to use his abilities well. I ended up helplessly flying through the air to my impending death. My character got stuck, I got to learn that it is not a good cliff to die. It was not the gold it took to repair, I did not even waste too much time, I knew getting to my body was going to be a pain so I too the rez sickness and move on. It was just the fact that being in a PvP server meant that even if I did not want to engage in battle with another player I did not have a choice. My wife reminds me all the time that she did not have a choice on the matter either since I was playing in a PvP server. I also did not have a choice because when I rolled my first toon I had no clue what it really meant to be in a PvP server. The frustration of not having the power to just say, hey I don't feel like being killed while completing this quest had finally clicked. This is probably one of the top 3 reasons why AzShara is not going to be our home server anymore. And as a friend wisely put it, if they were ever to make the server PvE and the population issues were fixed... we might some day come back "home." If you are new to WoW, make sure that you take this into consideration before you chose between PvP and PvE servers.

I hate you Blizzard

Just as I was starting to reach the conclusion that there is just not enough content to keep me interested and engaged since the firelands are kind of underwhelming in my opinion, Blizzard drops a couple of huge bombs this week that totally get me super interested back in the game.

The first one is that the feature that I have been using very moderately because I did not want to get sucked into it and then have to pay for it (the cross realm party system) just got “released” and it is still free. What is even more interesting is that they are not shying away from the idea that raids could be in the future.

The other feature that is going to be released is the ability to wear cosmetic armor rather than what you currently have on… this is really cool, this could really help me clean up my bank, this could change the way we look at the game.

Since my tanks are already pretty geared I have not been bothered with bringing up my next one… but now with the hotfix that threat is now 500% of damage… well… it makes tanking that much more appealing. I can concentrate on movement and cooldowns now.

And last but not least… it seems that 4.3 is going to bring the raid where I can kill deathwing… as uninterested as I have been about it… this might make me just stay playing until I can complete that and kill that pesky dragon for turning me into a ball of fire while I was leveling an alt in the highlands… dam you blizzard, dam you

Why WoW is losing players

I have debated whether or not I should post this for quite some time. Its a very touchy subject because I don’t want to send the wrong message to my guild. So I start by saying that the opinions here while coming from your guild leader, its from the point of view of a player.

I love playing WoW. I think it is one of the most complete games, but what makes it even more compelling beyond the great development effort that goes into creating fresh content it is the community. However, the community is losing members faster than I have ever seen, and not just in my very low populated server but all over.

I real a lot of blogs, not just about WoW but other subjects. When it comes to WoW most of the people that I loved to read are gone or have switched to other games. Once you start losing people that support the community beyond the game, you start losing players as well. I am not a doomsayer and when Rift came out I was very much a defender of WoW and blizzard. However, the more time passes, the more I think they are failing to provide a service for most people.

The reality of what is going on right now is that trying to please everyone with this expansion they ended up screwing everyone over.

Firelands is a big failure in my opinion, as well as the molten front. Not even when I was going back to grind some rep for an alt did it feel like I was simply grinding. The firelands raid has done nothing but highlight that the raiding in this tier is at best annoying and at worst a waste of time. Some of it feels so out of touch with what makes raiding fun that I wonder if any of the developers are actually playing through the game. Raiding always felt like leading an orchestra… now it has turned into an exercise of paying attention to an endless amount of things that can kill you, but can be easily trivialized by either knowing the fight well or gear trivializing it. It brings down the replay value of that aspect of the game a lot.

If I did not play with a group of friends that I enjoy quite a bit and make me laugh every time we get together I don’t think I will be playing this game anymore. I feel like I have seen the content I wanted to see, and even killing Deathwing does not feel like something I would enjoy if I am going to have to dodge fireworks that I cannot even clearly see.

Most casual players that don’t raid have already stopped playing. They did everything that there was to do, and the ones that continue to play are doing so via alts. It is not like back in the day that everyone had tons of stuff to do on their main… now almost everything feels like an endless grind and when you do get the rewards they are not that exciting anymore.

Blizzard had the opportunity to do so much, but instead of making some things excellent and well polished; so much of the game feels incomplete. Guilds hit 25, and even those weekly challenges are not something that we are having to coordinate to do as a guild, they just happen on their own. PvP is so all over the place and unbalanced that fight are either done in seconds or take 30 mins + or until someone simply gives up. So I see more and more people kind of think the game is not fun to play and I really have nothing to point out as a fun thing to do… I used to be full of, have you tried this? this quest like is lots of fun, this class has some new cool mechanics… this is where you find x or y and it will make things awesome.

Maybe I am completely crazy, but I think that if raiding was a lot more like the mega man series, where you would find things along the way that would really help you with other bosses it might change the game a bit. Right now there is no reason to get more gear because the gap between normals and heroics is too big, and for non hardcore raiders the grind of learning a fight and then having to deal with the annoyance that it was the normal now double in damage and with more “pretty lights” just feels like an insane endeavor.

I really hope that the next patch comes out soon, because even though I have only raided 4 bosses in firelands, I am sick of the color palate already.