Those of you who follow my twitter account will have seen that this past week was quite the rollercoaster. I’m personally still reeling a little bit from everything that happened (though I am overly dramatic, I know).
On Wednesday, Realm as a guild ended. And then on Thursday, it didn’t. Confused? Well, it will make sense. But to explain properly, I need to go backwards.
At the end of Legion
Realm as a guild technically formed at the end of the Tomb of Sargeras raid in Legion, though was made up of people who had been raiding together already for at least a year, some even longer. We went in to Antorus as a new team, determined to get Cutting Edge Argus. Which we achieved. We also managed to be the top ranking Alliance guild on our little server, which we were pretty proud of. We ended Legion as Titanslayers- strong and ready for Battle for Azeroth.
A few weeks before BfA came out we held a guild meeting to start making plans for raiding in the new expansion. We were having troubles trying to figure out our roster as it had suddenly grown to almost 40 players – waaaay too many. We needed to make some decisions about what type of team we wanted to be so that we could build the right team. So we asked everyone what they wanted from BfA; did we want to work on mythics, but bring through lower performing players (effectively being a “friends and family” mythic raiding guild) or did we want to push harder, be tougher about who came to raid and try for faster progression. The agreement from everyone was that we wanted to push harder. We were in a good spot- we had loads of players to choose from, and we all wanted to be better.
Going in to BfA
Going in to BfA everyone (including officers and GM) were dropped to trial rank. Our GM was re-chosen to lead us all, and new Officers were voted in (myself included). We had requirements about what level people needed to be at for raid, and agreed for the first few weeks of Uldir, we’d add in an extra night of raiding to help get us ahead.
Our first week of Uldir was great with us getting Heroic G’huun down, giving us Ahead of the Curve in the first week. We were pretty stoked. The following week mythic opened, and we managed to get TWO mythic bosses down in addition to a heroic re-clear, giving us a bit of time to work on mythic Zek’voz.
And then last week happened. We cleared through heroic relatively quickly, as well as re-killing the first two mythic bosses, giving us days of attempts on Zek’voz. But we struggled. We didn’t get the kill. And worse than that, we felt like we were going backwards. On Monday, we had a really bad night, with many people under-performing and even more people getting extremely frustrated at both performance and lack of progression.
Here’s the thing about mythic raiding. It’s really stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to be performing to a super high standard. If you don’t meet that standard, you make mistakes, and mistakes mean wipes. For some people (like me) I like the pressure. I like the stress of it, I like wiping and failing, because we we do win, when we nail that delicate balance and we all figure out the dance together, the victory is so worth it. I love that feeling of accomplishment when it all just falls in to place and we win as a team. I love the nerd screams. I love our failed kill screenshots. I love it all. But it is really stressful. And you have to feel like you’re getting the payoff for it to be worth it.
After our rubbish night on Monday, the Officer team had a meeting, and our GM confessed he was done. He’d had enough. For him, as GM and raid lead, the stress and pressure is multitudes higher than for anyone else, and after that night it just got too much. The payoff wasn’t worth it, and he needed to step down. At that time he wasn’t 100% decided on what to do, and our meeting was to try and figure out what we could do. Could someone else take on lead? What would be the consequences of him stepping down? Who would step up? What could we do? I went to bed that night in tears – I could see the writing on the wall, and I was devastated. I could only imagine how our GM was feeling, too 😦
At the end of our meeting, one of our officers (and top dps) decided it was time for him to move on to a higher progressing guild (which he has found, and I’m super happy for him). We had suggested our GM think on his decision a little more and get back to us, but on the Tuesday, we also lost a tank. Then the Wednesday morning, another dps.
I spent a lot of Tuesday talking with the GM and other officers about the whole situation. It’s always a hard decision. I won’t go in to any specifics of our conversations, but a lot of what was making the decision so difficult came down to just how much the GM loved the guild and the people in it, but also just how stressed and worn out he was with it all. Being GM and raid lead has got to be one of the most thankless tasks out there. It’s so much work and effort to keep things running. And even with officers helping with bits and pieces here and there, and with talking to the team and asking them to take issues and concerns out of raid, it doesn’t stop those things from happening. It drives me up the wall, and I only experience it a little. It’s nothing compared to what a GM has to put up with.
Wednesday – the break-up
A team meeting was held on the Wednesday night (instead of raid) and our GM announced he was stepping down as raid lead, and that the future of the raid team depended on what everyone else wanted to do. People were asked to think on it for a bit, and let us all know what their plans were – did they want to stay and try and fill in the gaps, or did they want to move on to another team. No grudges would be held, we just needed to know so a decision could be made. In the end, too many people said they would be moving on without our GM in the leadership role.
So we came back together for one last team meeting with everyone… and our GM announced there were too many people looking to move on, so this was it…. and I bawled my eyes out (as did he, the poor thing). It was a horrible, emotional moment. I was genuinely heartbroken. I’ve been in guild break-ups before (far too many, actually) and they have always been hard. But this one felt different. This one really cut deep. It really felt like a relationship breaking up. I couldn’t imagine not spending each week with these people, laughing and yelling and struggling with these people. We all had good and bad times together… I didn’t want that to end. And yet here we were.
The fallout was… interesting. Once the meeting was done, people kinda just took a breath, and then decided to go run heroic Uldir together. I was a mess and sat out, but stayed in game because I just didn’t really know what else to do. But no-one gquit or raged or ranted. Everyone was just… sad. Overnight a couple of people faction swapped to join other friends in other guilds, but it wasn’t in anger. It was quiet and kind.
I posted about it on twitter, and had so many beautiful and amazing responses of support back from people. I was genuinely overwhelmed. But still heartbroken. I went to bed that night wondering what on earth I was going to do. How was I going to find a new team? Who on earth would take a shaman to a raid right now? Did I still even want to raid? And even worse… did I still even want to play WoW anymore?
I went to work on Thursday exhausted and mentally drained. No-one at work really understood it (one person even kind of scoffed at the situation) which didn’t really help. I felt sad, and tired, but added to that, I was also sick to my stomach. Our GM was feeling almost instant regret about the decision, and it made me feel awful. I felt I had given him bad advice about everything. (My focus was on making sure he was going to be ok with the decision he made, and to not feel guilted in to sticking around if he didn’t want to. You know my mantra – WoW is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.) Thursday morning SUCKED plain and simple. I had lost my guild, and felt like I had been a bad friend to someone who has been exceptionally kind to me. I was not having a good time.
But then Thursday afternoon happened.
Thursday afternoon, our GM logged in to game, expecting the guild to have emptied, and instead still found it full of people. They didn’t want to go. This was their home, and they wanted to stay. That coupled with our GM’s regret… and well, the guild un-broke-up. Our GM posted in our Discord a really heartwarming message saying the guild would be staying together… and then I cried again as people cheered and left sweet messages and were just everything we didn’t want to leave behind. The thing that makes this guild so special is the people in it. Sure, we all fight and bicker and give each other shit, but that’s what families do.
We went back in to finish off the heroic clear on Thursday night with a renewed sense of togetherness. We also managed to one-shot the last 3 bosses on heroic and the first mythic boss, which just goes to show how much better peoples’ performance is when they’re in a good mood! 😀
Things seem to be calm, now. The people who had faction changed managed to have them reverted (thanks Blizzard!!!) and came back to the guild as soon as they could. We ran our usual normal run on Saturday night, which went surprisingly well. And tonight’s mythic run, though thwarted by the attendance boss (thanks NRL grand final!), was smooth and successful.
Most people understand why things got they way they did – we pushed too hard. Raiding 4 nights a week was taking it out of people. The constant feeling of pressure was overwhelming for a lot of people, and it was wearing everyone down – not just the GM, but everyone. So we’re taking a step back. We will continue to raid mythic level, with the goal of getting Cutting Edge each tier. But not at the expense of the team.
The whole thing feels like a really sappy daytime romantic comedy in a way. But whatever it was, we’ve come out the other side of it, and I feel like in a way, we’re almost a bit better for it. Those who wanted more have moved to a place they can get that progression, and everyone else back here is on the same page. I’m grateful for this crazy bunch of beautiful people. Here’s to many more raids together as a the silly, dysfunctional WoW-family we are.