Oh, how I wish they had one of these left in my size –

Because it was totally how I was feeling* the first time I saw the Blood Queen fight in ICC. The mechanics on that fight seem a little bit nutty at first glance, with people getting bit, and then you have to bite two other people at two different times in order to avoid being mind-controlled (and then wiping the raid). Each person that gets bitten has to bite two other people until the fight is over, so it’s not cut and dry. Going into this fight the RL can have a bite order established, which uncomplicates the situation a lot. Remember, through this fight you’re also dodging purple fire that you or your raid members poop out a la the Jaraxxus fight, and at different points you have to run toward another raid member, &c. There’s a lot going on!

So the first time I was in this fight I was flustered, to say the least. Everything did turn out ok in the end – I wasn’t actually assigned to bite anyone – I didn’t know that could happen, at the time, and was panicking about wiping the raid – but it was a trial of frustrations. When I asked on vent who I should bite, I was ignored to the tune of sighs and one nasty comment. It was a deal-breaker, and, as it happened, a guild-breaker for me. In the midst of all the confusion about what was going on** I felt… well… terrible and stupid, and unallowed to make a mistake. I stopped signing up for raids, and started snooping around for a new guild.

Last night in ICC I had a moment of joy when it really struck me just how much of a difference a supportive raid environment makes. We’re standing in front of Blood Queen when it occurs to me that, omigod, we have her on farm… There’s no panic, there’s no freaking out. And there’s no bite order – we don’t need it because we can do it on the fly now. We have begun the stage of what I like to call Hive Mind*** – we know each other, we know the fights, we know what the heck we’re doing, and by gum, we’re going to down the monster!

Hive Mind doesn’t just happen. You have to wipe a lot to get there. You have to like each other enough, or be motivated enough, to weather the wipes.  You have to be willing to learn together. As I try to explain to people who don’t play WoW, it’s like being on any sports team – we could be playing softball here****, we just happen to be playing together on a virtual field.

And maybe I’m a tenderhearted critter, but I can’t thrive in a situation where people are unkind. I get shy. I start to feel the pressure of not making mistakes, and I spend the whole raid red-faced and full of anxiety, and feeling like I need to defend my every action. I embarrass myself a lot in an unkind environment. Which is to say, raiding like that kinda sucks.

So here’s the difference: I can survive Blood Queen without feeling like I need to throw up. I can weather wipes and want to get right back in there. My dps has gone from an iffy 4.5k to a pretty reliable 7.8k;  some of that is gear, and some of that is enough comfort to not be conservative – I can count on a well-intentioned BoP of Shame(TM) paired with a giggle most of the time if I pull aggro, rather than a snide vent reminder that if I yank it, I tank it*****. If I’m having a truly off night, someone will generally ask me if I’m ok, rather than buckets of complaints and an imminent bench the next raid with no explanation. I can laugh with my guild, and so I can learn with my guild. I feel useful and wanted, and it feels good =)

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s good to be Home.

***

*Ok, I was teary too, but I don’t want to wear a t-shirt that proclaims that I was getting weepy in raid.
**Yes, i read the strats – I pretty much always read the strats and watch the Tankspot. But every raid has a way they do it – home rules, if you will. Also, let’s be honest here; reading a strat doesn’t necessarily mean that I understand the fight.
***We’re entering this stage – we’re not entirely in the thick of it yet, but we’re definitely one foot over the threshold. How exciting!
****Really really fast softball.
*****I am an aggro machine. While it is indeed delicious to actually be dangerous, sometimes it is also mortifying to find that I’ve accidentallty invited an entire room full of scary things to come beat me up.

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