I can’t go, Coach
I love my raid. Notice I didn’t say I love raiding…my interest in raiding, and WoW in general, waxes and wanes with time. But even if I’m not playing WoW every night and indulging in other timesinks, I still love my raid. We’ve had the same core of good people together for almost three years now, and honestly, it’s been really good to me from every standpoint I can see–it’s made me a better player, gotten me lots of phat virtual loot, let me see and experience things in the game that I never thought I would, and given me some awesome memories.
Because of all this, I’m loyal to them. I want to be there for every raid that I can possibly make, real life permitting. (We have a very strict “real life first” policy…missing raids due to RL scheduling interference is understood and expected.) Admittedly, part of my pushing for 100% attendance is because I have that lovely little phenomenon known as Performance Issues…even after all this time, I can’t quite shut up that annoying little voice at the back of my head that says “if you aren’t there, they’ll figure out they do better without you and you’ll never get invited again…” It’s BS, and rationally I know it’s wrong, but rationality is not always the Panzercow’s strong suit.
So at 8:00 Eastern last night, I faithfully answered the call for whispers, and was at Naxx well before 9:00 for first pull. This, despite the fact that I felt like, to dredge up a term from my old Star Wars fan days, bantha poodoo.
See, sometimes I get headaches. Nasty headaches. Not the classic migraine where you get incredibly photosensitive and have to lie down in a dark and quiet room. Just slowly building headaches that get worse and worse until nausea kicks in and sometimes I throw up. I used to get them more when I was a kid, but I grew out of them; nowadays they’re exceedingly rare. This was the first one in a couple of years or more. I know that if I don’t nip these things in the bud and take some painkiller–just a couple of Advil work fine–early on, and I let them go, they get ugly. Problem was, we had nothing in the house but some Tylenol PM, and I’m not taking sleepytime medicine before a raid.
So I figured I’d tough it out. And at first I didn’t feel too bad, but I could tell I was definitely off. The pain wasn’t intense, but it was enough that I was out of it, a tick slow here and there. That all culminated 30 minutes into the raid where I got assigned to tank the frontside of Four Horsemen…and made a massive cock-up on a target handoff that wiped the raid. (Protip: If you’re tanking Rivendare and supposed to switch to Korthazz with the other tank, mis-targeting and taunting Rivendare again is counter-productive.)
Now I screw up a lot, more than I should. I’m hard on my own performance. But rarely do I epic fail so hard that I actually, demonstrably, wipe the snecking raid. If my headache wasn’t bad before, it sure as hell got worse on that long quiet run back from the entrance.
The second time through 4H, I bore down, concentrated, and did my job right that time. And indeed, we went on to have one of our better Naxx runs ever. We cleared all four downstairs wings in 2 hours and 54 minutes, a first. I tanked Loatheb, Gluth, and Anub’rekhan without difficulty, nobody died on Patchwerk, we even got a couple of achievements along the way. I picked up a couple of nice pieces of loot, and in general the raid was steamrolling everything in our path. It was a good raid night.
And I was miserable the whole way. It was taking a massive effort to keep focused and do my job while railroad spikes pounded into my left temple and I wondered if that Quiznos sub I had for dinner was going to come back up and visit me. I hung on by my thumbnails, and when we dropped Maexxna at three minutes to midnight, I was grabbing my emblem and hitting my hearthstone before her legs stopped twitching. I didn’t do any of my usual post-raid ritual of repairing, selling, checking Recount and post-morteming things with my wife. I landed in Dalaran, logged off, took two Tylenol PM, laid down in bed, and spent an unpleasant hour waiting for the acetaminophen and sleep aid to kick in.
Now, I don’t tell this story to show that I’m some kind of studmuffin. I’m not. Ask my wife, I’m a freaking miserable SOB when I get sick. I tell it to illustrate a point–I probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. As much as I love my raid and want to give 100% for it every time I’m there, I might’ve been more of a liability than an asset in the shape I was in.
And that’s the topic for discussion, Gentle Readers. Most of us want to be there for our friends and raidmates, and we want to do our best even if we aren’t at our best. At what point do you go to your raid officers and say, “Sorry, guys, I feel like crap tonight, you might be better off taking somebody else?” To use the sports analogy, when do you bench yourself? Pro athletes almost never do it…but for them, it’s a livelihood. For us, it’s a diversion. The rules are a little different.
Discuss among yourselves!