Monday, September 26, 2011

Field Report - View From a Dark Hole

I could probably count the amount of times WoW has made me cry on my left hand fingers. Never out of sadness, although there have been some touching moments throughout the game (like Kingslayer Orkus losing his faithful steed Kasha *sniff*), but out of sheer frustration. I remember losing a roll on the tier 8 chest token that dropped from Yogg-Saron, after our guild had really struggled with the fight and just barely made the kill and I thought to myself "That shit will never drop again and I just really deserved it". I don't consider myself loot-horny, I passed on the first tier 5 gloves we got on Leotheras (on what I also deemed to be our only kill, fortunately I was wrong) and I constantly turn down loot in my current guild in favor to the ones who are currently working on Rag hc. But that tier chest was mine, and I definitely needed it more than the guy who won it. I was so damn angry - I cried uncontrollably for several minutes. Although looking back at it, I can't remember now whether we ever did kill Yoggie again and if I ever did get that chest token. But I do remember how angry I was. And that is one kind of frustration, but recently I've felt another kind of, and a lot worse, kind of frustration - the self hating one. And remember, I am considered among anyone who knows me to be the happiest, most confident bitch around. But apparently anyone can fall into a dark hole sometimes.

As you may or may not know, I recently joined a new guild. As I mentioned in my last Field Report, it was a chain of events that only could've turned to the better - I left a guild where I didn't get raid spots because the GM had it in for me, for a guild with better progress and people who begged me to join, not to mention some of my closest play in that guild (irl friends and bf). As it turned out however, it wasn't going to be a bed of roses.

Unfortunately my timing for joining wasn't very good. When I joined I had barely set foot in Firelands (because of abovementioned reasons) while the guild I joined was at 4/7 heroic. I was basically thrown straight into the hellfire, and didn't have a clue where to start. Love, who is currently the GM of Astralis, likes to describe the guild as tight knit. Unlike my previous guild where people seemed to come and go each day, this guild has a very small roster and little room for anyone to squeeze in. It looked especially tight on the healing department, where our Holydin and Resto Druid are just awesome and barely miss a single raid. At first this wasn't a problem at all - most of Cataclysm has allowed for three man raiding in 10 man raids and everyone was happy that they finally had been able to fill that last healer spot with a reliable player. In Firelands heroic however, everything changed. In fact there is only one fight where you have to have three healers - Beth'tilac. For all the other fights it's actually a lot easier to go two man healing. Our first Majordomo hc kill was actually with three healers, but since we realized how much easier that fight is with only two, we never take three anymore. This goes for all the other fights of the instance. Suddenly, I find myself having to actually prove my worth and fight for my raid spots in a way I've never had to do before. For the first time I have to do it from the underdog position. And it's been tougher on me than I thought.

I've been raiding pretty much since early BC. That's when I first joined a guild that really needed me. I had just decided I was going to main a warlock when my guild said they desperately needed a healer for their raids and I told them I had a priest "lying around somewhere". I've been raiding with Zinn ever since. And I've always considered myself among the better in any raid group I've been to, because I've always really tried to be. Looking back at it now I realize how much of that has come from pure experience, the fact that I usually was among the first to get to a boss and had the time and interest to kill him several times more. I realize now how important that has been for my confidence, knowing the first times around that I knew the fight as little as anyone else, and knowing the 20th time around that I knew it better than any other healer in the guild. Being there first and the most always made me come up on top, and I took it for granted.

For the first time ever I find myself in a completely new situation. Suddenly I am the one without experience, suddenly I am one of the people with the least raid attendance. Suddenly I am the one who gets picked last. It's ironic because one of the last things my old GM told me before he kicked me from my previous guild was that "since your bf is the GM of your new guild, I am sure you'll have no problem getting into raids over there". And yet I have never felt less needed, less useful. And as a result - less wanted. And worst of all - it's all in my head.

When I joined my new guild I was so happy to be able to raid again, to be able to raid with people who were skilled and who actually liked me. When I first joined I made absolutely clear that I wasn't there to take anyones place (as if I could! How naive I was). And as long as the three healing worked that wasn't a problem. As soon as it was clear that only two of us three healers were really necessary to clear all but one boss of heroic Firelands however, dark clouds started to gather around me, or so it felt anyway. And no matter how I tried (I'm not sure I did, sad people tend to be bad at thinking constructively about their own sadness), it just went downhill from there.

It probably started when we were going for our first Baleroc heroic kill. The best setup was generally considered to be a holydin and disc priest, yet my guild chose to go with the holydin and the resto druid. It was completely logical - the resto druid is awesome, there is nothing about the fight that says a resto druid can't do it (and they did make it) and I had just joined the guild. Furthermore, he had done the fight several times on normal already, while I've only done some of the bosses in Firelands no more than 10 times, including wipes (Baleroc was one of those). But I didn't see all those reasons. All I saw was me getting benched - although clearly I was the better choice. I'm never benched! To me, there could only be one reason for wanting to choose a subpar healer when you have access to the best choice - they thought he was better than me. The fact that the resto druid had been in the guild since it's creation and barely missed a raid since didn't factor in with me. The fact that everyone agreed that he at least deserved a shot at a guild first kill for his dedication just blew past me. All I could think of was that they had chosen a "lesser" choice over me.

Now you might think I'm being extremely selfish - in a way I was. But I agreed that he deserved the guild first, when I had said that I didn't want to take anyones spot I really meant it. It wasn't that particular fight or kill that bothered me. It was the implications of that choice. I realized that if they made this choice now they might do it the next time and the next. The resto druid would always have more experience of the fights than me, he would always have been longer in the guild than me. Right there, right then I realized that a door that had been open had been firmly shut for me when the two man healing system was in place. These two healers are both so good, have such great attendance and have been around for so much longer than me that I just saw a curtain fall in front of me. How could I ever get into a raid again? How could the guild ever motivate picking me over them? Would I only ever get the left overs? Get to join farms nights weeks after the first kill? For the first time since I started raiding I was not the top hand choice, and I had no idea when I would be again. That is what I saw - and it hurt me badly.

It actually hurt me more than I thought it would, and it would only become worse. I was brought in to do Alysrazor heroic, a fight they had already downed. When writing this I have done 2 normal kills and 1 heroic kill of Alysrazor, back then I think I had only downed her once on normal. Now I was thrown straight into the heroic mode with probably less than ten overall tries on the fight ever. Normally I would've loved it, I have no problem with wiping at all and just love to get to heal some. But now I was affected by the knowledge that this was all I would get - bread crumbs thrown at me, well fare kills to maximize loot distribution. I knew these kind of opportunities would be my only shots at showing the guild my worth, showing them what I was good for. Suddenly I've felt more nervous about my perfomance than I have done for years. And I failed. And failed. Probably no more than the others had done, considering they all had about four to five times the experience of the fight that I had - but all I could think of with every failure was how they all looked down on me and thought "good thing we didn't bring her to that boss" or "we can't bring her to any progression fights". With every failure I could feel their frustration and annoyance with me through the screen and it definitely didn't make my playing any better. Comments I would normally love to get felt like stabs right into my self-confidence. At the end of that raid I was angry, angry at myself for making excuses and angry at my guildies for not cutting me any slack. I hadn't raid healed properly for months! I had barely even done the fight on normal! I thought every comment was aimed directly at me when it really was aimed at the fight in general. I was not the only one failing, yet I could think of nothing else.

And then we finally got to Ragnaros heroic. Threads were made on the forums to discuss how to tackle the fight. One of the first issues to adress - going with a solid 10 man team or have redundancy? Both tactics have their pros and cons - going with a solid 10 man team is best as long as all those people are available. As soon as one can't show up, the raid has to either cancel or pick one of the "outsiders" who has no experience of the fight. One thread was made to discuss whether it was worth gearing me up at all. Since I would probably never get to join the Rag hc tries anyway, why even bother wasting gear on me? And in a way that is absolutely right. The two healers that we have have better attendance than me (I sometimes have to work on our raid nights), had done the normal rag fights plenty of times (I had only killed him once on normal back then) and are both very skilled healers. But all I got was confirmation about my previous fears. I had come into this too late, and now I couldn't see myself ever getting back. Would I be deemed worthy for the next tier? I had no idea. Raiding suddenly seemed less and less meaningful. Why bother when I wasn't needed or wanted anyway?

A debate ensued, since most people thought it wasn't a good idea to completely cut some people off from the fight while others though we had to do whatever was necessary. I ended the discussion by saying that I didn't want the argument to take our server first kill and that I would gladly (I lied) step back in favor of the other two healers. Yes, I definitely want us to be server first, and I definitely think the other two healers deserve the kill more than me - but that doesn't mean I don't want to be in on it! What kind of raider doesn't want to raid? No more comments were made, not even a thank you to me for stepping back, and they started doing the tries. Night after night I wished them good luck and sat next to Love watching them try different tactics. To make it hurt less I decided to stop caring about raiding. Maybe it simply was my turn to stop raiding, as so many others have done recently? Maybe this was my cue to leave the scene?

Then one night I was brought in. They had decided to kill him off on normal and that I could use some of the loot he dropped. I should've been thrilled at the opportunity, instead the Alysrazor incident replayed in my head. I was sad I only got picked for the wellfare epics. I was nervous because I had barely done the fight and I knew I would fail on something. I would fail on things everyone else thought was easy and they would all be annoyed with me and be happy they didn't bring me for the heroic mode. And I failed. And failed. On the simplest of things. On things I normally never would've failed to. I got more and more frustrated, as did everyone else and finally they called it without a kill. My friend told me "just don't fail, do you even know how that mechanic works?" and I tried to explain but somewhere inside me something broke and I just couldn't keep it together anymore.

I sucked so badly. Everyone hated me and I would never ever get to be a wanted healer again. I just screamed "what's the freaking point, I'm too bad for this shit anyway, I'll never get to raid!", threw myself in bed and cried like I haven't done in ages. I haven't felt so bad about myself in a very long time.

And the worst part is, it was all in my head.

None of the above is what actually happened except in my interpretations. No one had treated me badly but me. I had come into the guild, didn't have a clear spot and it wounded my self-confidence (it probably wasn't the best after the huge fight I had had with my previous GM for some six months before that). It was a completely new situation to me and I reacted to it by interpreting every decision, every comment, every situation negatively. Even positive remarks were turned into comments of mockery in my head.

It's not their fault that the fights require two healers instead of three.
It's not their fault that I didn't join them earlier, although they've asked me since the start.
It's not their fault that I have less attendance than the other two healers.
It's not their fault that I have less experience and gear than the other two healers.
And it's definitely not their fault that I couldn't handle the situation and felt like shit about it all.

There was just nothing to do about the fact that the guild already had two great healers. I joined at a bad time, and that was just my problem, no one elses. I (and Blizzard) had brought it on myself and I had no right to come and claim anything from anyone. One of the original healers had already switched to tanking, and I realized that I probably would have to do something similar to have a shot at raids. So I started doing shadow. I have been able to join in on a couple of rag hc tries so far, and eventhough I haven't played shadow seriously since before they introduced Alterac Valley and only three pieces of my gear actually are shadow gear (rest is gemmed, enchanted and reforged towards healing), I am having a blast. Somehow, being shadow has made me let go of my restrictions or the need to prove anything. My shadow self is an unwritten slate, I have no expectations to live up to, especially none of my own. I can truly just relax, do my best and improve with every try.

I'm no good at it of course. Most of the other dpsers are at 20-26k, where I lie somewhere around 16-19k, and I was totally freaked out when people told me not to worry, that I was doing fine, that my shitty gear stood for most of the difference. I couldn't believe it when they said "you're not a bad player so it has to be the gear". They really didn't hate me? They didn't think I sucked? And that's when I realized - it had all been just me all along.

I had never known how much confidence could impact on your playing. Me realizing this has allowed me to step back and look at the situation for what it is. I feel sorry for Love and all my other guildies for having to be in the position of choosing between three awesome healers - all of whom deserve to raid, yet only two can have the spot. Someone has to be put out, and it doesn't mean that that person is less of a player or less of a guildie than the others. The demands have been put there by Blizzard, and we just have to adapt around them. Still, there is no denying that it sucks being picked last at gym class/WoW, no matter the reasons.


  1. Oh WOW - you could almost be me. I have been through something similar recently. I was healer number 3 - perfectly good at my job but not the best choice for the particular fight. The fight that on normal took 3 healers to start with, that you could eventually do with 2 and was good practise for heroics. I failed on Rag, I fail on Baleroc. In my head I was useless. It didn't even register that I must have been capable or doing something right because I managed to 2 heal Beth'tilac and Alysrazor. In the end I stepped out. I moved guild. I got out of the rat race. My RL is stressful enough without me adding to it in a game. Even if the stress was all self imposed. I hope you can sort out your feelings and realise you are a good player, relax and enjoy the game some more, in what ever way suits you best. Hugs, Seph xx

  2. I have been in this position so many times. Especially when you join a new guild, you're always the one who sits. It makes sense to put the people with experience in there first, but that doesn't make it suck less.

    When I've been in this situation before, I tried just working hard and always showing up. That helps to convince your new guildies that you're worth bringing, but you still have to sit for fights that don't need your role. I've never been truly happy in these situations.

    However, I find that when I can fill a hybrid role, I am happy. For me, that's always been feral tanking and feral dps. If there's a 1 tank fight, I can be a dps! Swing roles are very valuable to small, tight-knit guilds. As long as you enjoy Shadow, then build a niche as a swing healer+dps. Even if you're not good at it now, you will be with practice.

  3. First thing I thought reading this sad post is "Girl, pick up your coat and run (to another guild), before it gonna hurt your relationship with Love (the GM if I've it right)".
    In a way I still think that, because you've chosen to switch from healing to dpsing while healing seems to be to me something you love to do the most.
    You've to choose between a certain healing spot or being in your bf guild. In these kind of situations it seems to be a womens habit to take a step back and give way iso fight of her place (I tend to do the same).
    I'm afraid the proposed hybrid sollution won't work in the kind of guild you're in now, but throw you in a chicken and egg situation. To get that healing spot you need experience but you won't get experience in a dps spot.
    I can't choose for you, I only can wish you'll make the right choice for yourself.
    I'll not bothering you with the cliche "It's just a game" because I know myself it ain't that simple.

  4. Sorry to hear about your experience.

    I most say, it reemphasizes to me that guilds with rotating attendance are a whole lot more pleasant.

    You write that it's perfectly obvious that they would pick the older guild members to raid whenever they are available, but it's not obvious to me at all. The people further down the roster are going to be unhappy sitting on the bench all the time, and they're also not going to improve their gear.

  5. Thanks everyone for the support! Fortunately this has become less of a problem now that I am going away for three weeks. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to chip in on our Rag hc tries anyway, I've had no real reason to be upset about being put out.

    It's such a tricky decision to make - deciding when the new guy gets to take the place of an old guy. That isn't a problem if the new guy fills the shoes of an empty role, but more often than not most roles are at least half filled. Someone has to sit sometimes if you want to have redundancy.

    I suppose we really have to find out how it will work out in the next patch - that is where I have my chance at getting experience and gear right from the start, instead of jumping on board half way without a clue. In any other guild I might've been worried about the outcome, but this is a guild with friends and bf after all - I know it will turn out fine. They do have a rotating setup normally after all, things just went so wonky when I joined when I did.

    I am glad to have been able to see the situatuon from the other perspective, but I definitely don't wish anyone to get into that position.

  6. Horrible that you felt that way as you are obviously very good at healing.

    Doubt is an evil cancer, I am glad you found a way to beat nip it in the bud before it ruined more for you.

    My question would be more for the future. Do you plan on healing once again fro 4.3? The 2 heal schematic will be out the window again, and 3 healers will once again be the norm.

    I would think that Blizzard will chnage the heroic setup for the next patch also to not cut out the healers and cause smoe of the issues that have happened.

    Your experience has happened to others as far as no longer being needed. For those of us that are primarily pure healers and have never raided as DPS, well you can imagine it causes much anxiety.

    I personally hope you return, as you have been a wonderful resource that I have learned from. Beyond that its been a genuine pleasure to read your blog and I hope it continues to be, even if you have changed to the Dark Shadowy side!!

    Needless to say, good experienced healers are a prescious commodity, and I hope that when the time comes, you return home to Healing.


  7. @Solaril
    Oh don't worry, I'm not going anywhere! Except on a three week holiday ;) I'm still healing and will be right back into raiding when I get back. This episode was just , as they often say, "a minor setback". I thought it was interesting and wanted to share it with you because I know this is a problem many, many people are currently facing, and have been facing since the dawn of WoW raiding probably.

    Thank you for the kind words, it's what makes blogging so much fun :)