Monday, August 10, 2009

Dealing with the Bench

A very eventful weekend both in game and IRL this past weekend, but today's topic stems from the lead-up to this weekend as it happened on Thursday and Friday. As you can see in last Thursday's post, I was more than confident that I would make our guild's 10-man Ulduar run for Saturday night. Now comes Friday morning and I'm not on that roster, but a couple of people I did not expect were on the three-man heal team. I was devastated considering I'd already got family clearance to run the raid and I had signed up early enough to think I'd locked up a spot.
A bit of background information before we move on. Here's The Illuminati's official raid signup and group selection policy, which has not changed substantially in a while:

Here is the rank of priorities used when putting raid groups together.
1. Group success
2. Guild members get priority
3. Class diversity (preferably no more than 2 of any class)
4. Order of signups
5. Guild members bring their character of choice
6. Guests

So while the raid leader has discretion to make the team as needed for group success, I know for a fact our guild leader pushes for early guild member signups and proper class diversity more than anything. If uber-elite DPS signs up 7th or 8th, they will not come unless it's absolutely vital for group success. Since this was a non-progression night, I figured that they would run perhaps a bit less stringent than on a progression night for "group success" and besides, I'd been invited to 2-3 progression nights over the course of Patch 3.1.

So the signups come in the following order: Lhuna (not a guild member for DPS or heals), Ronei (shaman, not top geared), Fiasko/Vowain (raid leader has a priest and a pally tank), Ruach (co-guild leader, absurdly well geared shaman for DPS or heals), Ekaterinae (heals preferred), Miraelle (well-geared druid), and then a couple others after that. The first five of us signed up on the same day the event was posted, and Mira came over 2 days later. Considering Lhuna gets dropped as a non-guild member, that left three names in front of me on the list. We were short tank signups, so the guild leader was main tanking on Vowain. That meant Ronei-Ruach-Ekaterinae, or at least that was my thought all week long assuming the guild leader was tanking. Well the heal team posted is Ruach-Ronei-Miraelle, Ekat on the bench. Hmmm.

Now keep in mind while Mira is a more regular raider than myself, the playskill is not much better than myself in my opinion (so no offence to any guildies). There's only a couple healers in the guild that really go above and beyond the group of us that I'd call "solid players" and they are Fiasko and Ruach. Then comes Clapp, Mira, myself, and a couple others. I personally would not include Ronei in this second group of good or solid healers, but that's just me. So it looks like I got jumped despite being the only potential priest in the raid and a good team member despite my inexperience on these bosses. However, I always watch tankspot videos and go in with pretty solid knowledge up front, as proved by my first foray into Naxx.

So all that being said, how would you handle being on the bench? Would you just take it like a good guildie, would you throw a fit, or would you question the decision? I agonized over this for a while on Friday before emailing our guild leader for an explanation. I set out my case that I'm appropriately geared since Ulduar-10 is next in line for upgrades in most slots, I'm a good and reliable player when I do sign up, I signed up before others who made the heal team, and I don't see how group success is improved. I absolutely hated to do it, but I just had to know why.

My guild leader wrote me back a thoughtful response later on Friday explaining that he may have made a mistake in putting the team together and it happens. Plus, he does apparently believe Mira is at least marginally better than me because he felt somewhat uncomfortable with a heal team of Ruach-Ronei-Ekaterinae. However, he saw my points and without my urging decided to redo the team, moving Ronei to DPS, myself on the heal team, and a late-signing DPS off the team. He also asked for some DPS stats which I gave him later on when I tested them again, just in case I do need placed on the DPS patrol every once in a while. Now I sort of felt worse because my bitching booted someone else off the raid. So I really wonder, is this the best way to approach the benching?

I still don't know the answer after the fact. It probably did not help that Matticus wrote about not second-guessing himself in guild leader decisions and benching was one of his topics on Friday:
One of the best ways to truly take stock of a person’s character is to ask them to sit out and see how they react. What they say on their application is one thing. How they handle it is another matter entirely. If they handle it extremely poorly, then they’re not a player you want in your organization anyway allowing you to go headhunting again.

So maybe I dealt with it all poorly, especially considering I'd had an in-game mail waiting for me Thursday night when the team was posted because our guild leader knew I'd probably question the decision (so missing that by not logging in made my questions through email seem even more bitchy). I hope that I have not alienated my guild leader in this process, but I'm more confident now than ever that i can go to him with concerns and hear his thoughts. I don't envy the position of deciding who gets to go every raid, as that's just tough. I certainly do not want to make that job any more demanding than it already is, but perhaps I crossed the line. One can only hope that next time the bench calls, I will find a way to handle it better.

As for the run itself, I'm happy to report that I've now seen every boss in Ulduar up to the Descent and seen 9/13 drop (Ignis was not dropping for us late in the raid Saturday). But Flame Leviathan, XT-002, Razorscale, Kologarn, Iron Council, and Hodir all dropped for the first time in my presence as well as bosses I'd previously beaten in Auriaya and Thorim. I only snagged one upgrade from a boss, but our hunter handed me a BoP set of epic gloves he had extra when I lost the roll for those gloves in the raid, so 2 upgrades overall. Including a valor emblem purchase of shoes and a chespiece upgrade in the Trial 5-man heroic, that's 4 upgrades in a weekend. Again, Ekaterinae feels on top of her game with some shiny new gear. Oh and the upgrade was a wand, so I finally cleared out my last crummy blue 187 item (I'd been trying to replace that wand for 6 months or more).

Until next time, handle the bench like success on the playing field...act like you've been there before.

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