When I talked to several friends about my change of guilds a couple of weeks ago, there was a certain conversation thread that seemed to repeat itself no matter which individual I talked to, even if they didn't even know each other. It went something like this:
Me: So yes, I joined this new guild to get back into operations. They have a progression team running a couple of days each week, and the rest of the time there are more casual runs going on which include alts and so on. I've been joining a few of those and it's been good fun.
Friend: Nice to hear that... though knowing you, you'll also be a member of the progression team in no time.
Me: Eh, maybe, I don't know. They seem to have enough regulars already. And anyway, casual is good enough for me. I'm happy to take it easy and cheer from the sidelines.
Friend: [rolls their eyes in amusement]
Turns out that my friends know me better than I know myself. Casual was good enough... for a while, as I was trying to get back into the swing of things. Then I wanted to do Explosive Conflict hardmode, which was progression for me as I had never done it, even if Twin Suns had cleared it before. I got that done, and it actually went pretty well for me too, as the more experienced players were a bit rusty so we still had to work for it. There were some wipes, but conveniently enough most of them were very obviously not my fault, which is good because I have near endless patience with other people causing wipes, but if I do it myself it drives me up the wall. So I got some challenge out of that but no major feelings of guilt.
Of course then I had to have a critical look at all the Campaign gear that I got during those runs and started swapping around mods and stuff. I became curious about Terror from Beyond hardmode. I listened in on the guild groups that ran it and learned the most fascinating things about some of the new mechanics involved on hardmode. (Something about people getting balls? I like balls!) And then I finally took the plunge and officially announced that I thought that I was ready to join TfB HM runs as well. Possibly, maybe. If they really, desperately needed someone. The last thing I wanted to do was give the impression that I was trying to encroach on anyone else's territory.
I didn't expect anything to come of that any time soon, but tonight I had innocently been PvPing away when I heard people talk on TeamSpeak about continuing Wednesday's HM run, which was currently on three bosses down (with previous overall progression being 4/5 at the time of writing this). And hm, one of their healers wasn't online.
OMG PICK ME PICK ME
OH GOD I HOPE THEY DON'T ASK ME I SUCK
My mind is an interesting place to be sometimes. I was about to be extremely disappointed/massively relieved that they didn't seem to need me and was getting ready for a group invite from another guildie to do some more PvP, when I was at last hit by a ping about whether I could come and fill in for the missing second healer. Aieee. Of course I accepted.
Soon we were all standing in front of Kephess. Funny thing about Kephess: the common consensus seemed to be that he was really easy on hardmode because even though the guild had only downed him once before, it had only taken three attempts. For me personally however, Kephess is hands down my least favourite boss in TfB. There's too much movement (the bane of the Commando healer's existence) and too many different things to keep track of while also not letting people die (oops, my bad). I had a feeling that it was going to take us more than three attempts this time, even with some people having experienced the fight before. I was not wrong.
The explanation of new mechanics was concluded with a comment about how it was basically more of everything that also featured in story mode, and that I was sure to love it... right? [/sarcasm] I winced a little and stayed silent. Serious Shintar is serious! Another one of the officers chuckled. "She's nervous already!" Perceptive bastard.
And then I got to learn about the many, many ways in which you can mess up on hardmode Kephess! Let me recount them:
- Clicking on a pillar too early.
- Clicking on a pillar too late.
- Running in front of the wrong pillar.
- Moving before the boss is about to jump on me so that other people get caught in the blast too (yay).
- Panicking about that weird white ball that has latched on to me (not a nice ball, that one) and forgetting to heal people.
- Letting a tank die because I got confused about who was tanking at the time. Feeling embarrassed as I realise that when all they say during the fight is "taunting", I can't tell the voices of the two tanks apart.
You know it's bad when you cringe whenever your name is said on TeamSpeak, because it's inevitably followed by "don't [do whatever you're doing right now], it's bad". I suppose I should be happy that I never managed to die to one of those moving walls at least.
Of course one has to keep things in perspective. It was only the second time that the guild was killing this guy on hardmode, and my first ever TfB hardmode fight ever. There were bound to be hiccups. Still, when Kephess finally keeled over and died at last, I honestly kind of just wanted to lie down next to him and have a nap. Of shame.
But my battle wasn't over yet! It was time to distribute the loot. For what it's worth, the guild uses what I tend to think of as "common sense" loot rules, which means: main spec first, mains before alts, no single person hoarding all the drops, roll off if multiple people meet the same criteria, that kind of thing.
That's perfectly fine by me, however one thing that I've come to realise over the last couple of weeks is that I have a couple of additional "soft" loot rules of my own:
- If I was just pulled in as a sub or I'm otherwise an outsider compared to the rest of the group, I won't roll need - because I know how it sucks to be waiting for that special drop for ten runs and then see it go to some new recruit who leaves the guild two weeks later.
- If I feel that I was carried and played badly, I won't roll need either - because I know the exasperation of seeing good loot being "wasted" on the guy whose performance has done nothing but drag the team down. I want to feel like I've earned it.
- If I've already won three things, I don't care if I'm the only main in the run: sharing is caring, give something to the other people too!
- I will pass on anything that would only go to the vendor - because it's a bit of a downer when you're running dailies with companions in greens while other people pick up your potential companion gear to flog it to a vendor for a piddly amount of credits.
These are only for me really, based on the idea of treating others as you'd like to be treated - I don't generally expect others to adhere to them because everyone has different expectations.
Anyway, to get back on topic, Kephess was dead and had dropped a Dread Guard off-hand token. The call went out for everyone to roll if they didn't already have a piece of Dread Guard gear, which obviously applied to me, seeing how I hadn't even set foot in TfB HM before. They are going to expect me to roll, I thought. They are going to make me roll, because I qualify. But I was just pulled in as a sub! And I messed up six ways from Sunday! It didn't seem right.
Suddenly, the empty dinner plate that just so happened to stand on my desk looked like it absolutely needed cleaning up that very instant. Yes! Excellent plan! I'd just so happen to be AFK when the loot went out and "miss" my chance to get it. I smiled as I took off my headset and went to the kitchen. When I came back, I immediately heard my name on TS, and for once it wasn't followed by "don't stand there".
Me: Sorry, what was that? I was AFK for a couple of seconds.
Ops leader: You won!
Me: Er, what?
Ops leader: Dunc rolled for you and you won! Grats!
I looked at ops chat, and indeed, they had simply bypassed the minor inconvenience of my absence by having someone else do a roll for me, and as it happened, he had rolled a 92. I was seriously wringing my hands at that point, but I didn't want to argue about loot of all things.
We had a couple of tries on the Terror, but had to stop soon afterwards as several people needed to go. As soon as I was out of the ops, I jumped into a couple more warzones and it seemed positively relaxing in comparison.
Once things had quieted down, I paid a visit to the trooper supplies vendor and picked up the Dread Guard Combat Medic's Generator. For once an upgrade that wasn't just a lackluster reshuffling of stats!
I didn't really want this, I thought. And god, that run was so stressful! I think I could hear my blood pumping in my ears at some point because I was that high on adrenaline.
Of course the punchline is: I can't wait to go again.