Running a guild is hard. Running a raid team is harder. I knew this going into it, and I’ve never – really – regretted it. Well. Except for the entirety of November 2012.
I started Harvest Moon in March 2012, when our server was practically dead, no raid guilds were being formed, the server itself was poisoned with indifference fueled by large guilds sucking up raiders and giving them no incentive to be positive members of the community.
But, me being me, I didn’t notice this until I’d decided to branch out on my own and start what I saw to be my ideal raiding guild. (All I can say to that, is: thank goodness for Twitter, and a handful of people – @wabbage, @jaedia, @badleeroybrown – transferring and taking a chance on a nub’s dream.)
Fast forward to MoP…
I’m facing a raid team made up of perhaps 4 people I’d raided with before. The rest were transfers between us downing Madness of Deathwing in May, and MoP’s launch. I barely knew these people.
We went into Mogu’shan Vaults. And we spent our first night – albeit an undergeared “let’s just poke it” night – wiping on Stone Guard.
The next week was a little better; I think we actually down Stone Guard that week – after much frazzling on my part. It became clear to me that I was getting out of my depth on the raid-leading front.
I could prepare for encounters fine; I’d studied the videos from the first days of their release on the PTR. I’d read the guides. But I hadn’t accounted for something which was completely different to when I’d raid-led the entirety of Dragon Soul: the different personalities.
A large part – or what seemed to be a large part – of the raid team now in MoP were comprised of people who’d raided together in another guild for years before moving to join us. They were all lovely. However, they also had a strong history, back stories, and in-jokes. Soon it seemed like I was battling for attention, for focus.
And I began feeling lost.
It came to a head after we’d downed Feng the Accursed. We spent the next 3 weeks or so beating our heads against Gara’jal (the totem boss, for those following along at home). Consistent wipe nights on him were easy to deal with – we were still bedding in as a raid team – but it was getting harder to raid lead when my personal quietness [regardless of how I am on Twitter or here, I am in essence a quiet, reserved bloke] was being overcome with stronger personalities, people talking over me, and people disagreeing with tactics while I was giving them.
I began stepping back on a mental level, and retreating into myself, until I began to wonder if I even wanted to keep going. Then one night in mid-November, one of our healers took over leading a fight midway through without prompting, gave orders, and then after we were done for the night called the raid and thanked everyone.
To [XXXX]: So, you’re raid leading now?
I logged off, and sat staring at my screen in the dark for about 30 minutes. I wasn’t thinking anything; I was just lost. I didn’t know what to do.
I felt like all the wind was out of me – I felt that to everyone else, I was just this guy. I was being given opinions on how to run things with no option of not accepting them. I was having my raid leading overrun by stronger personalities who were casting me aside.
I turned off my computer, walked through the dark flat, climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling for an hour. I decided I’d give it two weeks to see if it improved. And if it didn’t, I decided what to do – to remove myself silently, or disband the entire affair.
And me being me, I gave myself a reminder.
If you know me, you know I’m still in Harvest Moon. Fuck, I’m even still the GM. But I’m not the raid leader anymore (although I still direct where I want the raid team, as a functioning part of the guild, to go).
Before that D-Day I’d set for myself, I decided to ask for help. I emailed my oldest WoW friend, and someone who I’d started the guild with, for advice even though he was no longer around in the game. He gave me sound, solid advice like the friend he is. I somewhat-reached out to guildies whose feedback I knew I could trust, even if we weren’t close. Just to ask… “So… how am I doing?”
Some of the responses were… like textual shrugs. How are you doing? I dunno. What do you do? Some were more positive.
But my old friend’s advice came back to me. “If you think the other guy is taking over – let him. Ask him to. You don’t need to do everything anymore.”
And so I did.
That was eight months ago, and a lot has changed.
The guy who took over raid leading that night? He’s stuck with me through it all, with his own friends leaving the guild, and has been a friend of my own as we continue pushing the guild forward.
I don’t blame anyone else for what happened. And, truth be told, the raid team as it is, is better under different leadership.
I’d like to think that the guild is also better for me having stuck around.