Monday, April 7, 2008

Baby Steps Add Up to Giant Leaps

With all that ego stroking and chest thumping earlier, my mind is now clear to explore another concept that I came across during our Kara raid.

The quandry....

You're two months into raiding. Your core team has learned a ton. Still far from "seasoned experts", but we've nailed the basics of raiding through trial and error. We've learned together and corrected eachother on lots and lots of small incremental mistakes and lessons.

With each WWS report, we've convinced another player to move that much closer to the hit cap. Each time your well-fed buff or elixir wears off and you remind the group to eat again, you subtely refresh the importance of consumables. Each time you ask if anybody needs some Superior Mana Oil, you have more raiders educated on a new raid aid. During every post-wipe discussion, you come across things like mana issues that lead to people bringing and using more and more potions. Each time you get a new piece of gear and talk about the enchant you're going to slap on there, or the gems you're going to socket...

Each of these tiny little events is a baby step of education and growth for the team.

Those small incremental lessons have added up to a pretty giant leap from where we started 2 months ago.

The twist....

Then you try to mix in new players so you can cultivate a second Kara team. And you see the exact same mistakes you use to make, a short 2 months ago.

BUT...and its a big learned them in small, easy to swallow pieces. Sure, lots of repair bills behind those lessons, but they were lessons for you to discover as a team, one little slap on the wrist at a time, never having anybody else setting an example or pointing out your mistakes. And as frustrating as some wipes are, those baby steps were fun as balls.

When you look at the new guy, you don't see all those baby steps, all those incremental, you see the giant leap. The giant leap that he has yet to take, through no fault of his own.

You see the guy has no gems. Little or no enchants. Next to zero hit rating. No food or elixirs. Your core raiding team was guilty of many of these sins on the first night out.

Your core raiding team got to learn each trash pull through trial and error. You master each boss fight through exploratory visits, research, return visits, wipes, then hard-won victory, followed by not-so-hard victory, followed by farm status.

The core team learned the overview and gimmicks of each fight, one night and one gimmick at a time.

The new guys are thrown in, given a 30 second description of what to do, and then are expected to perform on a large quantity of bosses on their first night.

So the quandry I find myself surrounded by is how to manage this situation.

On the one hand, I know the new raiders require some time, patience, and mentoring. They look just like we looked 2 months ago, committing no mistakes that we didn't already commit a dozen times.

On the other hand, while we're still trying to progress and finish the dungeon, we are focusing on faster and faster clears of the early/farm content, allowing more time for the repeated wipes and baby steps of learning on progression bosses.

We are trying to integrate some additional raiders by bringing in more subs to the early nights. This makes it take longer as they are less well geared and require explanations of each fight. This hinders our efforts to push further and further on the first raid night.

It really feels weird watching this play out.

I find there's two types of giant leaps that need to be made. The first is what I'll consider to be the forgivable errors. Things that can be pretty easily fixed. No food buff? Ok, heres some, bring your own next time. He shows up a couple more times un-fed? Its a problem. If he responds well to the baby step lesson you give at first, you're all set.

Then there's the bigger errors. These I find more difficult to work with. How about the hunter we brought into Kara the other night.

First of all, he was in the normal gear you'd expect for a freshly starting raider. Mostly quest and AH greenies, dungeon blues, with one or maybe two PVP epics. Ok, that's exactly where I was two months ago when I started raiding.

However, he's got 7 or 8 empty gem slots. He's got no helm glyph, no shoulder inscription, next to no enchants.

When trying to determine if this guy will make a good raider, where's the fine line? One position to take is that I talk to him and point out some enhancements he needs to make. He might just be ignorant to the benefits of these things, and therefore capable of learning and improving. Another valid position is that he is lacking something we desire because if he hasn't figured out some basics like enchants and gems yet, then he's going to need his hand held through everything.

Then we move on to trapping. We picked some easy pulls in Attumen's stables and designated a turkey for him. Although he was capable of guiding the mob into the trap, and not breaking his own trap, there was lots to be desired. He'd put the trap right in the thick of the team, rather than moving off to the sides. When the tank would ask if he was ready he'd answer yes. I'd take a look and he didn't have a trap deployed yet, and he wasn't even targeting the turkey yet. Ready? I wouldn't be saying I was ready if I was like that (unless we were trying to do a speed run through trash, but that's not the case here).

His pet stayed at his side through most of the fights, only attacking mobs a handfull of times, including on boss fights. :-(

I suppose I could take the guy out on some trapping training exercises and explain how much damage his pet can do with any of the Hunter specs.

Do you educate the guy? Or is this a lost cause?

This sort of stuff is going to come up again and again as we expand the list of people who raid with us.

On the positive side. When we got to Maiden, we wiped several times. (A) we were short some DPS because this guy had a hit rating of 34 once he ate the Spicy Hot Talbuk I gave him, and (B) we didn't have a pally for Blessing of Sacrifice.

We decided to sub him out and bring in a Paladin. It was the pally's first night in Kara.

I didn't get a chance to inspect his gear, so I can't comment on how he's doing in that department. But, he did follow along without much fuss through Maiden, Opera, Curator, and some shots at Aran.

He picked up on stuff right away. 20 seconds of explanation for a complex fight like Aran, and although we didn't kill the boss, the new guy followed instructions and maneuvered well with the team.

He is my shining star that gives me hope that it won't be all pain, all the time, while expanding our raiding team.

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