Saturday, February 13, 2016

Guildleader Chores - Sunshine Patriots and Winter Soldiers

When someone says Winter Soldier to me, of course I conjure up images of Captain America and Bucky/Winter Soldier.

But Xyn was telling me that the original meaning of the Winter Soldier came from 1776 when Thomas Paine wrote a series of articles around the American Revolutionary War:
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
During the American revolution of the 1770s, soldiers who joined the Continental Army during the spring/ summer but went AWOL in autumn/winter were known as "summer soldiers". Many of these "summer soldiers" were farmers who would enlist when their crops were planted, fight during the summer, and then go back home in the autumn to help with the harvest.  Others would stay with the Army through the harvest, but disappear once the weather got cold.

Meanwhile, the people who supported the revolutionaries when the revolution was going well were called "sunshine patriots". However, their support disappeared when the revolution WASN'T going well.

In the Vietnam War era, John Kerry (the current  68th US Secretary of State), a decorated war veteran was part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) movement and in 1971 he addressed the US senate:
The term 'Winter Soldier' is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough. We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.
A Winter Soldier is, in effect, the opposite of a Summer Soldier or Sunshine Patriot. A Winter Soldier is one who stands on the front lines for their nation in the most dire and desperate of times. In the VVAW movement, the war heroes spoke out AGAINST the war, and risked everything to tell the ground truth about the horrors of war and advocate for a new direction. They are willing to hold themselves accountable, tell their nation when it is wrong and struggle with it to make it right.
Captain American #8
Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Captain America: Winter Soldier comic said:
I came up with the name in 2004, when I was pitching for [Captain America]. I liked the sound of it for a Russian assassin from the cold war, and also liked its connections to Thomas Paine, my personal favorite founding father. The “summer soldier” quote is from The American Crisis, and I believe he meant that the summer soldiers are only patriots when it’s easy to be, but the winter soldier is a true soldier for the cause.
So, you may ask, what the HELL has this got to do with World of Warcraft?

We were talking about raiders in terms of Winter Soldiers and Summer Soldiers. When kills are easy and raiding is good, Summer soldiers are plentiful. But when the going gets a bit tough - be that with people not turning up to raid, bosses becoming harder to kill - then suddenly these Summer soldiers disappear. Then the naysayers come. The guild is collapsing, everyone else is a bad player, and they want to find people that can play to their standard. It all sounds like mercenaries, or Sunshine patriots - where I've extended that to include that they will go to whichever is the winning side, or winning team.

I am fortunate I guess that we have a lot of Winter Soldiers in Frostwolves - who are there to keep the guild together through the tough times. It's actually a lot to ask - after all, World of Warcraft is just as a game, and it's there to have fun, and most people's concept of a game is that you play it, have fun, and you stop playing it when you don't have fun.

I don't just like World of Warcraft, I LOVE World of Warcraft. I LOVE my guild, and the community we have created. When times are tough, if I don't fight for my guild and keep it alive, then who will? Surely I can't be fighting this fight all by myself! And the same goes for the game - who is there to fight to make it better? To feedback what could be improved? It's all very well to stand on your sounding board whinging loudly about what is wrong with the game, but how about offering workable solutions that look at the greater whole of players rather than just yourself?

I've thought a lot about officers since I took over this guild. What is an officer? What do they stand for? What is their role? What attributes should they have?

I just want the officers to all be winter soldiers. I don't want them to be officers during times when it's easy - it's when times are hard that I need them. They help me keep spirits up, to show that we are strong together. that we are a guild bound together by a common purpose and goal. It sounds so cheesy when I'm sitting here writing it, but it's true. When times get tough, I need to not only be out there talking to people, forging alliances, recruiting and trying to improve morale, but I need someone to help little things that make my life easier.

So why haven't I said I wish all my raiders were Winter Patriots?

Well that would be nice, wouldn't it :) But in reality, to be a Frostwolves raider you just need some skill at your class, be able to follow instructions, have a relaxed attitude and turn up to raid ready to go and be reliable. It does help if you're a fun and friendly person too. But if you are also a Winter Soldier who wants to help with the guild and are in it for the long term, then that would distinguish you from an ordinary raider to something a bit more. I admit we have quite a few Summer Soldiers in our raid team, but what can you do? I've said it many times - play what you want to play, play when you want to play, but be reliable - and by that I mean if you say you're not going to play after we kill Archi on heroic until Legion then that's good, at least I know. Don't leave me hanging!

I just wish I find enough solid players - even reliable PuGs - and then I wouldn't have to worry about my guildie summer soldiers! Ah, the bane of every guild leader!


  1. The Mary Sue: Learn the History of the term "Winter Soldier" and why Ed Brubaker Used the Name in Captain America
  2. Veterans for Peace: Who are the Real Winter Soldiers?
  3. Wikipedia: John Kerry and Winter Soldier Investigation
  4. Winter Patriot: The Summer Soldier and the Sunshine Patriot

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Raiding - Another wing of BRF done in Mythic

It was good that this week we managed to get enough people to do Mythic BRF compared to last week where we did heroic Hellfire Citadel.

Last week was very memorable for a number of reasons.

  1. Kyxyn decided to bring his hunter for a change of pace. Dan was tanking with Peggy and HK was playing his paladin. Xyn just did an enormous amount of crappy pulls with barrage, early pulls, wiping us constantly. I'm sure he was rather abashed about the whole thing, but I was laughing my ass off. I hoped everyone else didn't get frustrated but I had a bad feeling that some people were getting a little distressed.
  2. Peggy was tanking with Dan, whom he had on ignore. Who knows why he had Dan on ignore, probably because Dan chatters a lot with Voe during raid time (which we have tried to address but I will make a more concerted effort next week) about non raid things. AWKWARD.
  3. Iskar was so horrible that we gave up on it. We actually came back on Monday to do Xhul of all things and it was EASY. Man, I would never have seen that coming. Part of that was because we had mains on for Xhul, whereas we had a bunch of alts for Iskar. And of course Xyn was playing like he'd bought his hunter on Ebay so I don't know if that had anything to do with it.
So this week, it was a relief to be able to do something different.

Things were looking sketchy at 850pm. Hardly anyone was online. But eventually we got people on in dribs and drabs, and I was surprised that Sonuku (Onineko) came along to it. We even had our casual raiders on (Deidrea, Kaeltsez and Mauve) as well as our regular non-mythic raiders, Koda, McTacky and Taxar. Grass and Peggy from Oni came also, and we had Kyxyn, Aimei, myself, Sev, Dan, Lushen, Crooked, Sars, Rey and Cel attending as well.

We started off with Hans and Franz and the big differences were that the stamp would actually kill you, and there was a special smart stamp phase where each section you touched became a stamp. 

The first attempt went as expected. Lots of people dying from the stamps and we also had tanks dying from lack of healing. I may or may not have been DPSing a little instead of throwing heals out...

Sonu was really helpful, explaining the mechanics of the "smart stamp" mechanic that was particular to mythic. For that part, the stamps would come down where people had trod, so it was idea to have two groups, moving in unison, after pausing on each stamp section for about 3 seconds so they could do some DPS and then moving off as the stamp spot lit up in brightness indicating the stamp was to come down. And these stamps did not come up again, so you rapidly ran out of room. I was unsure why we would need two groups as it seemed they would run out of room rather quickly with two groups, but that was because of the body slam that would occur - when we all stack up, we all get body slammed (including tanks) and get a debuff increasing our damage taken. If we split into two groups that would be halved somewhat. Sonu described it like the "snake game on Nokia phones".

We saw that phase a few times. It was difficult because Deidrea wasn't on Discord because of some stalker issues, so he wasn't listening to instructions NOT to move forward and then kept running ahead and activating the plate too early. After some explaining he got the idea. People who were slow to get to the start point was also an issue in some attempts.

After an hour (and we were making good progress, after testing different times to lust etc), Yuuda got on and I begged him to come. We were trying the fight with 18 and any extra DPS would have made a difference. I explained to him the basics of what we were doing and he just said he'd wing it.

And that attempt we did killed it. In fact it was so easy, the smart stamp phase activated, and somehow we DPS'd through it and the phase ended so fast and then he was dead shortly after. Yuuda wondered what all the fuss was about. Clearly we just needed him to join the raid so we could kill it, our little lucky charm.

After that we did Flame Bender Ka'graz and the main thing Kyxyn told us to do was to bring the dogs to melee so they could be cleaved down. Koda had been having FPS issues so she restarted her computer to try to fix it, but I implored her to return because she was worried about causing wipes and dragging the group down. I said we were here to have fun!

The fight seemed relatively straightforward, except Deidrea unfortunately was the target of one dog and didn't bring it in but fortunately the ranged took care of it. That fight went really smoothly and we killed that off quickly.

Yuuda had to leave after that... Nooooo our good luck charm! Fortunately though, Koda was back! Kromog as the last boss of that wing, and the difference in mythic was the Rune of Trembling Earth where these 3 pillars popped up and you had to break in 12 seconds and turn them into rubble (or they would despawn) and then hide behind them to avoid the Call of the Mountain ability which did a ton of damage. Kromog would then smash a random pillar with his frontal cone attack, and he would do that 3 times, destroying all the rubble piles and you had to move quickly to get to the next rubble and hide. There were also some earthquakes on the ground around that phase which were in random changing spots during the 12 seconds of pillar phase which made it a little difficult to hit the pillars (but we did heal through it).

It didn't actually take that many attempts, but we killed it just before 11pm, and everyone was quite pleased!

It was a fun night - even more so because I had a slight feeling of despondence during the first boss thinking we were going to be doing THAT all night, and then again on Kromog thinking that we weren't going to be able to get coordinated enough to do the rubble phase. But we did it, got achievements and I think everyone had a good time. One more wing to go, and I bet Blast Furnace will be anything BUT a blast... and then it's onto Blackhand. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Guildleader Chores - My mythic underwear feels a bit uncomfortable

Personally, I think people are now starting to enjoy our forays into mythic raids. It is a big change from 2 months ago when we had to drag people kicking and screaming to mythic. I'm not sure what changed - was it the success of raiding, or the settling in and getting used to everyone?

However, I constantly look at Onineko's point of view of raiding and think how I would be feeling in their position.

There are two conflicting things right now are:
  1. My own guildies being left out when they would like to (and are capable of) raiding
  2. An obligation to Onineko because we did start this mythic thing together and it seems unfair to have them sit out after they helped get it off the ground
Their tank has to DPS. The numbers they can bring are reduced. As far as I can tell, no officers are attending - though Peggy has Rank 2 status in Oni (which in Frostwolves is an officer rank) so perhaps he is one. If I put myself in that perspective, I would be not healing, I'd be DPSing, and it would be ugly. I'd look like a lousy player and probably feel like one too. Though, I would enjoy the raiding, and it would be a different challenge for me trying to better myself (or face the unhappy possibility that I wouldn't be allowed to raid because I'm such a carry).

We now field 14 Frostwolves regularly, with 5-6 Onineko players. This week they brought a mage guildie who they said was quite good, but she was a bit undergeared for mythic compared to the rest of us. I don't mind who comes, but one of their other players was not responding to tells, and the raid was filling quickly. I can't wait for people, it's first come first served. Unless you tell me you are going to be late, then I will not hold a place for you. And that happened to our own guildies too!

Bish was late, and I didn't even know if he was going to be on or not. Raid was full and I had to tell him he couldn't come, even though we could have used the extra healer for council. Actually, we probably NEEDED him for council, but I make no exceptions and Bish did say he was tired, after a long 13 hour day. After playing with him for 10 years, I know that if he's tired now, he will be a pumpkin at 10pm. I told him to go and sleep.

However, there were late people on the Onineko side also. One of them was rather disgruntled at being left out and told me that they were unhappy about that when I whispered him with a solution -  perhaps he could discuss with the mage who came and swap with them for their spot since he was raiding mythic previously and she wasn't (and I didn't think she'd mind), but he said he didn't want to join us for raids anymore. I accepted that matter-of-factly. It did make me worry though, if their disgruntledness would affect the others who were coming along.

I like that with my own guildies I can enforce some sort of attendance responsibility (and it works vice versa because they will wake me up if I've fallen asleep before raid time). I message them on Facebook, I call them on their phones, I dig them up on their alts on battlenet. And I can do that because they are my own guild. It also means they all know the consequences of their own actions. AFK more than 2 minutes and we drop you from raid. Turn up late to raid without warning then we assume you're not coming and replace you accordingly. But the long arm of Navi does not extend to other guilds.

I have done my best to make a raid work with what I have. It may seem mercenary of me to ask the remaining Barthilas people to come, but I like them, and they are welcome. I'm not trying to push them away, but I am trying to preserve my own guild so I have to preference my own people and raiders at the moment - well, at least the reliable ones! So far, Nez, Sonu, Peggy, Angry and Ang are constants that always come, so I always leave room for those 5 because they are super reliable. Angry missed one raid because he was late, playing some other game and maybe lost track of time and raid got filled, but since that time he has been ready well before raid time. Peggy is so eager that he hammers Xyn with invite spam and promotes as soon as the clock hits 845pm. You can't say that they're not ready to go. I treat them like surrogate guildies - I think of it a bit like school vacation care. These guys are here on holidays and I gotta keep them entertained, safe, happy and out of trouble until their parents come to take them home.

You know, I always feel a bit sad when someone is unhappy, and I tried to put myself in his place. If I was supposed to raid and I was late and missed out on a spot would I be upset and say I would not raid again? Personally, I would just make the effort to turn up earlier and be ready the next time. But that's just me. I can't imagine any of my guildies having a hissy fit for being left out for being late, because they'd know the onus was on them. Perhaps it was because that person had missed out a few raids now. Maybe they were like Moo, looking for an excuse to stop playing, with mythic being the only tether holding them tentatively to the game.

Right now our guild is doing its best to keep the guild busy and active. And it is. The socials have really boosted the guild activity. Social raids are going (even though it's Mythic difficulty but it's at a level where we are still overgearing it but still have some challenge to make it rather satisfying when we conquer stuff - more on that in another post) and everyone is having fun. I should be focussing on that. My main priority is my guild, my guild's morale and the guild environment. It feels like a better place now than it was in the 2 weeks after the announcement of the possible release date of Legion. If I focus on that, the positive, then it helps wash away the doubts and uncertainties that niggle in the corners of my mind. And I know that my optimism will get me through everything crappy that gets thrown my way.

Navi the reluctant Pet Brawler finally gets her Stunted Direhorn

The pet battle queue is so long these days, that I find myself sitting there not finding anyone to PvP pet battle with. Admittedly, the casual player would be turned off pet battles in PvP because teams with Graves seem to dominate the pet PvP scene. Me included.

Enter Tacky and Crooked.

Now we had tried to cheese fights before by queueing pet battles and then forfeiting for a win for our friends, and then battling the unknown real challengers when we got them in between. However, we did notice after a while that we NEVER got to battle certain people.

Tacky (or was it Crooked) had this theory about pet battle groups - maybe they gave you a number and you only got to pet battle others with the same number. It didn't seem to be btag related (which is what I thought at first) because I could still battle my friends on their SECOND accounts, but not on their main accounts.

But in the middle of my archaeology and pet battles, Tacky and Crooked managed to help me get my pet battles done., as I battled both of their 2nd accounts.

I've been running Graves, Lil' Tarecgosa and Dread Hatchling, which is a nice combination but annoying to everyone else.

Finally got that last elusive pet! Stunted Direhorn is mine!

So that puts me at a whopping 752 unique pets. The maximum you could possibly get is 756. I'm pretty sure I am up there for Oceanic realms, but phew, so many pets still to level!

My next pet goal is to get my Garrison monument for 2000 pet battles in Draenor. I am not even quite halfway there yet - but there is still a lot of time before Legion :)