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When the Duranub Raiding Company of Argent Dawn-US got its first Fragment of Val'anyr, they handled the decision on who should get the drops with typical aplomb. The group put the matter up for a vote. Appreciative raiders unanimously selected healing lead Elnore to receive the 30 precious fragments that she will eventually combine to create the legendary healing hammer, Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.
In the wake of the decision, Belghast (Duranub co-founder and GM of Elnore's guild) invited Elnore to write a guest post at Tales of the Aggronaut explaining how she felt about the group's momentous decision to award her the legendary weapon. "Often times we don't think about the emotional experience certain raid decisions have," he noted. "In this case, we can take a step inside her head."
Main character Elnore Barleybraid
Guild House Stalwart
Raid Duranub Raiding Company
Server Argent Dawn-US
WoW history WoW player since December 2004: "My roommate got a copy that Christmas, and I rolled a NElf Hunter, like you do. He bought me my own copy that January, and that's when I rolled my first Priest."
15 Minutes of Fame: By all accounts, Elnore, you're a hardworking Dwarf. You're both a guild officer for House Stalwart and raid officer for Duranub. What are your duties in each group?
Elnore: I've been a guild officer for ... a year and a half now? HS officers are chosen for being good resources and generally in-game, so my only real duty is to be myself and to pull things out of the back bank tabs as needed. Not much to talk about there.
As one of the original Duranub raid officers, I helped tweak the rules and the character of the raid as we formed last summer. Nowadays I help evaluate healer applicants, and I do a lot of diagnosing with the other officers and raid members, both during the raid and on our forums. I make sure I understand each fight, generally do healing invites and handle assignments and post-wipe debriefings in the healers' channel. I have an assignments forum thread that I keep updated so another officer could step in if I were absent. If another officer is absent, or if something else is going on that requires officer attention, I might do the other invites too, master loot for a night, explain a fight, rearrange groups, or give that speech every raid leader develops: the one that goes, "No really, let's all just chill and beat this thing." We are all about flexibility and redundancy, but I have the most fun (and do the best job) when I keep myself focused on the healy bits.
How would you describe your playstyle? What type of groups are HS and Duranub?
House Stalwart is a social, PvE-centric guild with history in many other games, though I've only been with them since 2007. Its members run the gamut from super-casual to medium-core or so. We're all adults, so far as I know, and though we have no official raids of our own, we have ties to many raiding groups. People in those groups tend to ask to join us, even if Belghast (our GM) isn't actively recruiting. We're a little borglike that way.
Duranub Raiding Company is a raiding group that happens to have a lot of Stalwarts in it. We have a casual schedule and raid to have fun, but we define fun as progressing -- so we have a high tolerance for learning wipes and a low one for wipes caused by inattention. We have standing jokes about dwarf cans but turn businesslike on bosses. I guess you could say we're a little like the club team in college sports --the coach isn't going to be frothing in your face, because let's face it, this is a hobby. But it's also not okay to phone in your performance, because 24 other people are depending on you for their fun.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of being a raid officer?
There is often a terrible gap between what you'd like to do and what you have to do. A good raid has clearly stated principles and rules and is transparent in how they are kept, but reality will always put you in positions where you have to fudge some or wish you could fudge others. You have a gear or performance standard -- but when you are one short, will you cancel the raid, or will you invite a warm body in the hopes it will be enough? You want to reward your old reliables, but instead you find yourself leaning on them again and again - to play a spec or class that isn't their favorite, to sit out or fill in when they've asked (utterly respectfully) to do the opposite ... or if they're friends, too, to listen to a frustrated rant they shouldn't have to deal with, because light help you if you let it out on Vent, but you'll just explode if you don't get to say it somewhere. And every buck stops with you.
All of those things build a wall between you and everyone else. Yes, they are friends and teammates, but also they are pieces in a puzzle you are constantly trying to keep in the shape of a successful raid. If you're not careful, you forget to ever take that wall down, and you find yourself smoothing over raid drama seeds while you're trying to relax on an alt, or dissecting logs with another officer during both of your work hours. And then you start to twitch whenever you think about how little some of the raiders do in comparison. (Never mind that they're not the ones who signed up to be officers. Your righteous indignation does not care.) And then you go crazy.
Raids die for two reasons: either they fail to stay true to their principles, making their members lose faith/interest, or their officers grind themselves into the dirt. So it is a very difficult and stressful balance to strike, and the sweet spot is always shifting.
That's a lot to handle. Would you miss not being behind the scenes?
My instinct is to say that I love my healing channel. I love how we support one another and how I can count on them to have ideas I don't. I'm pretty sure that channel is why I often feel productive about nights that other officers feel discouraged about. But, though I do think I have something to do with the atmosphere there, I suppose I would know that channel whether I was an officer or not.
There is a small thing, I suppose. I think most people who are reasonably serious about playing well have had a moment or two where they felt like they personally made a difference - they were the last healer up on a hard win, or a Rogue who evasion-tanks for the few seconds it takes to finish, something like that. I love those moments, when nothing is going as planned, disaster is imminent, and yet everyone rises to the occasion. As a regular member of groups and raids, these moments are a heady feeling, but as an officer, they're a heady feeling combined with a proud one: a feeling of "I made this team - and I'm not sure I'm worthy of them." For instance, our first Hodir kill was two seconds short of enrage. I was dead at the time (and mad at myself for it), but the kill still felt great.
Even though you were unanimously selected to receive the Val'anyr fragments, we understand that you have to spend points every time a shard drops. How does that work?
I paid 500 for the first shard and 50 for every shard after that. I'll pay 50 for the actual mace, too. Sounds complicated, but it's really just 2,000, front-loaded. Normally, we run a zero-sum, open-bid system based on WebDKP, but we knew we couldn't handle Val'anyr that way.
Together, the officers decided that a healer had to end up with it, and that since the weapon would belong to the whole raid, in a way, the healers should come to a consensus of which of us it should be. I don't know if most raids charge points for the fragments, but for us that was an obvious part of the package. The healers picked me to hold it, but I'll only get it through the hard work of all the Duranubs together. I can't share the orange pixels with everyone, but I can share my DKP.
What will Val'anyr mean to your character when it's all said and done?
That's still a hard question, even though it's the point of that whole guest post. It's complicated. In part, I'm still kind of amazed when I think about it. I've never been a hardcore raider, so it's still kind of funny to think of Elnore running around with some awesomesauce orange thing. In another part, it's yet another obligation I have to the raid - I couldn't quit, switch mains or otherwise let them down for a long time, even if I wanted to. But then in the last part, it's a mark of the regard my raid has for me. Officering is tough and generally low on recognition, but every time a shard drops or some Rogue talks about making sure we finish, I know how much my work means to them, and that's pretty huge.
Do you think you'll actually see the end of the long, slow collection process and get the hammer created?
I do have eight shards at the moment, but I'm not sure what odds to quote. It will depend on a lot of things, like how stable our membership is as we go back from summer to school season again (or raiders' kids' school; some Duranubs have spawn), or how long it is between now and when the next dungeon comes out. The general plan is to kill Yogg-Saron and then start hard modes, but if there's somewhere else to go once we get him, I'm not certain we'll stick around Ulduar very long. Twenty-four is a big number.
But then on the other hand, we're getting a lot farther than we used to, which means that the chances of a shard dropping on any given night are going up all the time. So what seemed fairly impossible when we were suffering from Naxx lax and summer burnout, killing maybe three or four bosses a week, feels a lot closer now that a week sees us more or less farming through Kologarn and generally capable of downing Auriaya and Hodir, if a bit messily. And Freya's on notice starting this week.
So it's possible, maybe even probable, that I'll end up with the hammer before we move on -- but I still might end up with a bag full of shards until I get around to farming the rest with some guildies two expansions from now. But either way, I mean to finish it.
We have a feeling Elnore will do exactly that.
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