Friday, August 5, 2011

Raiding from Viceland

My FI cohorts and I all belong to the same raiding guild. That is where we all met many raiding tiers ago. Back then I was a scared and nervous little hunter named Blachand who wore mainly S2 PVP gear, facepulled on a regular, and couldn't trap worth shit. That was my lot in life for most of T4-6, the glorious days of The Burning Crusade. In some ways I miss those times, as most seasoned raiders look back on previous tiers with muddled admiration. That, my friends, is a post for another day. No, today we are going to talk about something entirely different.

Even now as I sit here typing this, my hands have the slight quiver of someone who could use a beer or 6, hell maybe even a Vicodin for luck. That's right folks, I like to raid while getting screwed up. We've touched on this before, my co-author Gordrin even addresses this very topic in his series 'Raid Building 101" from time to time. I'm not saying he is speaking directly to me, but I sure have given him a few things to think about in the few years we've been intimately raiding together.

With that fill a pint, grab a pinch, or pop a quaalude.......this begins a look into the twisted mind of a raider who 99.99% of the time would not legally be able to operate a motor vehicle but will crush the damage charts like it's a beer can. Pull up a bar stool or computer chair and hold the fuck on.

Fill out the guild app, take the ride
When I say I like to raid getting screwed up, I mean I like to raid getting screwed up. For me there is nothing better than a Friday or Saturday (hell even sometimes a Tuesday) night filled with the anticipation of killing bosses with friends, getting teh lootz, and drinking more beer than a human probably should. It didn't always start out that way.

[Flashback Fade]

I picked up WoW during the beginning phases of TBC. I purchased the box set and began to level a hunter. I'm not sure what drew me to a hunter but that is what I went with. My early days were plagued with being simply awful, just horrific. I had expertise and strength on my one point I had spirit on my gear because I was convinced it helped me regen mana during the fights. Yeah, that guy. Anyway I leveled to 70 and immediately app'd to join Malice.

Malice was (and still very much is) like the hermit kingdom on Haomarush-US. We don't post on the official forums, we don't talk in general, and we don't recruit openly in any way. People come to us. As a result we have the oldest and largest guild on the server. We are not the fastest with progression but one thing remains, we produce solid raiders and eventually get our kills. We are not a fly by fucking night guild, you know the type - the mega-conglomerate of super raiders from two guilds who get a server firsts before imploding into a fucking nightmare of drama and forum bashing.....yeah those kind we are not.

I joined Malice and signed up for the learning raid, the tier before the current progression runs. It just so happens many of my friends in guild today were also in that raid, some learning aside me and some learning how to lead. It was great times.....I learned a shitload, had a blast, and formed some long lasting relationships I still have to this day. I remember my second raid I was so nervous and sick I actually threw up before the raid. Back then I took everything serious, I took no shot for granted and getting gear was the end all be all. I was hooked.

Enter the void
I finished out TBC strong within Malice, a veteran raider and someone who was earning the respect of other DPS and officers alike. Concurrent to the end of TBC and the beginning of Wrath, my professional career was developing, my family was growing, and my stress levels were through the roof. Some weekends I would go out to bars and shoot some stick with friends. So nights I'd stay in and watch TV with the wife drinking beer. Some where along the lines our guild leader thought it would be a good idea to make me a class officer. He'll never admit it now, but back then I think it was a hell of a hail mary pass.

We began raiding in Wrath and I began drinking while raiding. By then I had more experience under my belt and hit my stride as a chart topping, mage QQ tear drinking dps machine. I also started to heal on my shaman a bit and get a feel for other roles besides ranged dps. It was a good time and Wrath Naxx was a memorable highlight for me.

Then the shit started hitting the fan....

The road to fabulousness is paved with excess
Man, I was getting fucked up. I mean REALLY fucked up. Some nights I'd get so bad by the time our late raid group was finished I was hardly able to keep my head up. There were times when I log in the next day to find myself in a dungeon....I passed the fuck out before the end and my body was still in there. To make matters worse guild politics was stressing me the fuck out and Ulduar had just dropped. Alcohol to excess coupled with that piece of overtuned shit was more than I could handle. I lashed out at my friends, verbally destroyed other officers, quarreled with the guild leader and acted like an emo asshole to most people around me. I was not in a happy place.

I took some breaks on and off from WoW, playing on other servers or just not raiding. I had burned a few bridges with my current raiding group and I need some time to let the wounds heal and for the goblins to rebuild said bridges. When I came back I was well received however my shitty attitude did resurface occasional from time to time. Did I cut back on my drunk raiding? Did I seek professional help?.................FUCK NO. I love getting sideways and playing WoW, I'm not giving that up. I did however do something else that worked like magic.

Stopped caring.

Mission Fabulousness: Success
Stopped caring? Yup. Stopped caring. Did we not kill the boss? No worries. Did the other officers get a promotion but not me? Doesn't really matter. Are the officers not listening to my suggestions? Nope, but that's alright. Hey, can you hand me a beer? Are some guildies quarreling about loots or some bullshit? Maybe, are they? I should probably log in to the forums.

I guess this is just a long and drawn out way of saying, "hey bro don't sweat the small stuff". That would be an accurate descriptor of my internal journey through the social experiment of WoW. You know what? It worked. Once I let go and let the whims of the great magnet take over, we killed bosses, officers occasionally listen to my suggestions - hey how about that beer - I got a promotion, and I stopped fighting with my guild leader who was about a hair on a dogs ass away from g kicking me. Life is good.

[Flashback ends]

This bring us to now. Right now. Today. Here I am still raiding with my guild and closer to this group of crazy ass mofo's married by the tag we all tout like the badasses we are. I'm that guy in your raid who you can always count on to be drunk. I'm not much into drugs, for some people that is their lot in life which is cool, just not for me. Some people like going to the bar and shooting stick. Some people like to hit the casino or strip club, and get their swerve on. I like to kill a case of Miller Lite, maybe with some Wild Turkey and get lost in Azeroth. Viceland is a state of mind.

My ability to raid while intoxicated takes on many forms, most of which are easily identified by those who raid with me on a regular basis. From the first person, it's a bit harder to understand the way in which booze effects my ability to reduce the boss HP to zero but I think I can sum this up in graph form rather well.

click for larger image
Perceived Raid Performance
This is fairly self explanatory. My perceived raid performance (or PRP for short) is how I internally view my ability to play my toons while getting my swerve on. You'll notice some very distinct features to this graph. First and foremost, you will notice how my PRP starts out fairly moderate. In fact I put myself in the 80% percentile while I'm stoned sober. This might be related to the fact that it's hard to murder pixels with a slight shimmy of the DT's, even if the effect is just one of the mind. Moving on you'll notice that my perception of my ability steadily increase, almost linear with the amount of amber goodness flowing through my veins. Right around .12 BAC (which I have to remind you is well over the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in any US state) I feel like I hit my stride. My performance confidence is through the roof, in fact if you asked me for my PRP on a scale of 0-100 any time after I hit .12 BAC, I would probably slur something like "ya bro, 150". /facedesk Sometimes I'm an idiot. The last thing to note is that while I stopped the graph at .20 BAC it would continue the same until I passed out and/or woke up with WASD imprinted on my fucking forehead.

click for larger image
Actual Raid Performance
This is a trickier graph to grasp as true data. This is based on what I can gather from stories mainly from my raiding group. Another good bench mark is just how pissed off one guy in particular is. To protect the identity of his toon, we'll call him Task. Task, the resto druid. Anyway Task is a good guy and one hell of a healer. My coauthor Gordrin and him are friends in real life and have been gaming together for some time. The chart to the right is loosly based on their accounts given to me the next day. Lets take a look, shall we?

The first thing to notice is that like my PRP, I start myself off stone-sober in about the 80th percentile. I'm a kick ass player and being in that range for a game with 12 million players is an honor for me. However it gets better. As I get a few drinks in me, my performance actually goes up! I lose the damn DT's (lol) and start to relax a bit. Think of it like Chubs teaching Happy Gilmore to putt, "relax baby, it's all in the hips....all in the hips". Right around .05 BAC I hit my stride and really start crushing the damage meters. With that amount of boozejuice in me, my brain is relaxed enough to focus on what I need to focus on, ignore what I need to ignore, and bring out JUST the right amount of risk taking to yield positive reward. All is right in the world. This display of general awesomeness continues until I hit around .12 BAC, which is ironically the same point at which I think I'm hitting my stride. In reality kids, the shit show has begun. From this point out my performance essentially tanks. I start pulling aggro and forgetting mechanics. I take overtly poor risks with little to no positive result. Remember our dude from earlier? Yeah well Task is getting pissed off at me right around here but I'm still having a grand old time! Around .16 BAC (twice the legal limit) I'm really shitting up the place, falling off platforms, doing horrible DPS and just generally failing at the game.

Much like a scene where you watched exactly how your parents conceived you, from here on out is not a pretty picture.....we'll neglect to visit it.

Happy endings is as happy endings does
(or in other vernacular, the closing)
Much like any other sport or hobby that can involve alcohol (golf, darts, pool, fantasy leagues, corn hole, running from the police, gambling, bowling), you get drunks and boozers. It's an inevitablity ingrained in the world of leisure. Don't write us off because we may just been the element you were missing in your 10 I mean life. We cook your food, we do your taxes, we wash your car, we build your condo. We are your family, friends, brothers, sisters, raidmates, guild officers, and arena partners. Sometimes we fuck shit up but then again so do you. Can dealing with us be a PITA from time to time? Absolutely. It's ok bro, chill out and crack a beer.

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