You’re Killing Me!

I love my raid team. Well, most of them. The thing is, the couple I don’t like? Well, they may actually be killing me.

Let me backup a little bit. I have high blood pressure. Like, pretty freaking high. I’m on medication for it, have a low-sodium diet and I’m working on losing weight and the numbers are coming down. I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to cut down my dose of medication, but for now, things are, if not ideal, at least stable.

Lately though, I’d noticed that every once in a while I’d get dizzy for no reason. Like, I’d just be sitting on the sofa and suddenly, POOF, dizzy. That’s a pretty strong indication of a blood pressure drop (which may require an adjustment in my medication), but it seemed like everytime I checked my blood pressure it was still high. That seemed weird and ungood (totally a word) so I started tracking my blood pressure on an hourly basis over the course of the day. The results were enlightening.

My blood pressure is not bad for the most part. It falls into the “Prehypertension” category in this Mayo Clinic chart. However, something scary happened on Mondays and Wednesdays between 11 and 2. My blood pressure went up. Way, WAY up. The peek I measured it at was 155/98. That’s high. If you consider that I’m also medicated, that’s crazy-freaking-high.

Guess when my raid time is.

My blood pressure isn’t going up because of the adrenaline that comes with progression raiding, it’s going up because of the assholes that come with progression raiding.

I first started raiding in ICC. I was a part of the “Monday Fail Raid” which actually ran Mondays and Wednesdays and was awesomely fun. There weren’t high expectations so there wasn’t high pressure. We’d go in, kill as many bosses as we could and be happy. Some weeks we’d clear ICC some weeks we wouldn’t even down Sindy and it was all good. People joked and kidded, the mood in vent was relaxed and high-spirited. I loved it.

When Cataclysm came we wanted to be a little bit more competetive. I think the original goal was to be in the top fifteen most progressed guilds on the server.

We got off to a rough start. Half the team got leveled and geared up quickly and were ready to start killing bosses, but the other half didn’t. Then we had stupid guild drama and attendance problems and… bleh. Still, our team was pretty tight. We’d log in and if we didn’t have the bodies to raid we’d run heroic dungeons, try to get acheivements, stuff like that. Eventually we were ready to raid, and though it was different from ICC it was still fun. I still have nightmares about Wind Blast from the Throne of the Four Winds, but I loved the other raids. Once we nailed the mechanics they were fun. And we had fun. All of us. I learned how to heal, like, really heal, and it was challenging and awesome.

Firelands came and everyone was in a great mood, ready to move forward to “push progression”.

Then our raid team changed a little bit. We brought in a player from another guild to join our core group. That player? He’s good. Like, really good. He definitely contributed to our success in killing bosses. In fact, when we started having attendance problems he was definitely one of the assets our team had that made us able to clear Firelands and start doing heroic bosses even though we were down to raiding once a week. The problem is, he’s a jerk.

He’s one of the name-calling, homophobic, racist, blame-giving, Its_not_my_fault, you_guys_suck assholes that people think of when they hear the word ‘raider’. If anyone on our team actually likes him you can’t tell it from the whispers I’d get all raid long, every raid day. He can be charming sometimes, and when he’s happy things are smooth and painless, but when he’s not, or if he doesn’t get to be in the spotlight, or whatever, well, everyone pays for it.

I don’t do well at the whole ‘bite your tongue’ thing. Not well at all.

In some cases I’d try to express my displeasure but in a lighthearted way, because, ya know, losing it and yelling at him over vent isn’t going to make him less racist or dickish, is it? Nope. Neither did anything I said, or didn’t say. I tried to ignore him, but I couldn’t.

Raids weren’t as much fun.

Still, I liked the 8 other guys on my team so I stuck it out.

Recently though we’ve had to replace a couple other players, and unfortunately we did that by bringing in friends of the guy I can’t stand. His friends, while not quite as annoying as him, run a close second. Now it’s three to seven.

Do you see how I’m writing that? Us against them. In the same raid team. I swear we spend more time fighting amungst ourselves than we do downing bosses. I feel terrible for my brother (who is also my raid leader) because he’s got an impossible task trying to keep the jerks from going off the rails and attempting to keep the mood light.

We’re progressing well. We’re tied for 4th place on our server. We’re 1/8 heroic and have two other heroic bosses we can get to 3% consistently so we just need our undergeared shammy to gear up and we’ll get them too. We’ve met that goal, but I don’t think anyone is having fun anymore. I know I’m not and my blood pressure is showing it.

I’d been thinking about quitting WoW with the next expansion, but if something doesn’t change in our raid team I may have to go sooner, which sucks. It sucks because I feel like something I loved is being tainted, like somehow all this drama now is damaging my memories of the good times, and it especially sucks because I like most of my raid team. I especially like raiding with my brother.

He and I were estranged for over ten years and WoW helped us re-build a relationship again, which is wonderful beyond words. Raiding is what we do. I can go for coffee or lunch with my sister, but my brother lives in a different city and we don’t have a whole lot of things in common other than raiding. I mean, our raiding together has to come to an end at some point (and I’m sure we’ll find some other common ground somewhere) but it pisses me off that time is coming sooner than necessary because some people suck.

I think part of the problem is that progressive raiding attracts different personality types than casual raiding, and maybe I’m on the wrong raid team. I’d rather wipe and have fun than be the #1 guild on my server and have to deal with uber-competitive jerkfaces. Am I crazy to think you can be competitive and progress without being a jerk? I don’t think so.

Wow… ranty.

This was actually supposed to be a blog about how one person in a group can change the atmosphere of the whole group but…apparently it turned into a rant. I’m going to let it stand though. Partly because I haven’t time to write a new blog post, and partly because those people who raid and read my blog will certainly be able to relate to it.

If my blood pressure forces me to stop raiding sooner than I’d planned I guess the silver lining will be in the fact I’ll have more time to write. Somehow I don’t find much consolation in that right now though.


Edited on February 3, 2014 to add:

Our team? We got better. We cut out the jerks and worked our way up to #2 on the server… then we merged with the #1 team and kicked ass a while longer — all without the jerkfaces. Now I don’t raid anymore, I barely play, but I am able to look back at the time when I DID raid, when I WAS uber, and smile. And miss it. But I know you can never go back, so I’m going to keep moving forward.

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