On Proving Grounds as Gating: The ‘Jerks’ Argument

Ever since the idea of proving grounds as a gating system was introduced, the most widespread argument I’ve come across for why it’s not that great of an idea (beyond the balance argument, which I think is fair) is that it won’t do anything to solve the real problem with random groups. That is, inconsiderate jerks.

I think this argument is nonsense.

It is absolutely true that there are really skilled players with an attitude problem. Who enjoy belittling other people, or who refuse to account for what other people in their group might struggle with. But, guess what? Unskilled players aren’t immune to attitude problems.

Let me tell you a story. It was early in the day and I was doing my daily auctioneering and fiddling with my specs in preparation for raid, when I noticed someone periodically posting in trade chat, asking about gemming his character. He was getting no response, so after seeing it a couple of times and getting a tad bit irritated, I whispered him. Now, I’m no expert on prot pallies, but one of our tanks is a pally and I’ve done some research on them while trying to troubleshoot encounters. (Plus, I kind of love reading Sacred Duty <3; much math, such happy!) So while I couldn’t accurately answer his question, I could definitely point him in the way of sources that could. Namely, Maintankadin and Icy Veins.

His answer? Thanks, but I’m looking for someone who can tell me exactly what to gem.

That response had me rolling my eyes; but I’m stubborn, so the conversation didn’t end there.  Instead, I described the gist of what IV said and explained that gemming really depended on what build you wanted and what content you were doing and that, if he really wanted to raid (he mentioned this at some point), he really ought to go and read the guides so he could figure out the best gemming strategy for his gear (and -though I didn’t say it- how to actually play prot; his attitude didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his skill). 

He stopped responding at that point. I’m not sure if he just decided to ignore me, or if he actually decided to follow my advice. As an eternal optimist, I retain hope that he was tabbed out reading the basics section of Maintankadin. But If he didn’t, then I’m glad the proving grounds will serve as a gate for the next expansion heroics.

He wasn’t a jerk in the traditional sense of the word. He wasn’t mean; he didn’t insult me or laugh at me. But if you don’t care enough about the people you’re grouping with to take ten minutes and read through a webpage -even when being saved the googling by being specifially pointed in its direction- to make sure you know what you’re doing, then you are a jerk, and I don’t want you in my dungeon.

And he’s not the only one. My first WoW guild had quite a few skilled players, but it had many more players like that paladin; who couldn’t deal with the mechanics in Cata heroics, or put out half decent DPS, and didn’t really care to improve themselves. A lot of them were perfectly pleasant people, with whom I would’ve gladly sat down to have a drink and chat. But they were the kind of people I dreaded being asked to do dungeons with, because it meant three, four, five hours runs with nothing accomplished. And any attempt to help them was essentially ignored. Honestly, they were as bad as the tank that pulled everything and ran me out of mana, despite my protests.

I’m confident that Silver Proving Grounds is easy enough that the unskilled player who takes some time to do research and practice will eventually succeed. And that’s good. I don’t mind if your DPS is a little low – or if you’re having trouble interrupting or holding aggro -if you’re willing to learn; if you want to do better. But players like that paladin? They’ll be stuck at the gate, and I won’t have to carry them. And I will be happier for it.

Will the Proving Grounds requirement weed out all jerks forever? No. But it’s not a dichotomy. You don’t get either great asshats or nice newbies. At least, this way, you’ll weed out some of the terrible asshats.

The Peculiar Plight of the Middle of the Road 10-Man

With this weekend’s Blizzcon we’ve learned lots of things about the upcoming expansion and while I’m mostly (so many orcs make me unhappy) really excited, there is one aspect of Warlords of Draenor that worries me: raid sizes. I suspect I’m not alone in this, heroic 25-man raid teams must be quite annoyed at having the difficult decision of which players to drop and heroic 10-man raiders must be looking with dread at the recruiting on steroids (or merging) that will allow them to continue raiding at their preferred level.

My guild falls into neither of these categories. Yes, we are a ten man and we do habitually raid heroic level content at the end of the tier. The problem is, it’s only at the end of the tier. Which means, unlike every other guild who is strictly a heroic raiding guild or a normal raiding guild, we have to figure out how much we value heroic raiding and whether it’s worth the effort of recruiting ten more players. And the big problem is we’re probably not all going to agree. I mean, I know which side of the fence I’m on. I spend mostly all the tier hoping we will get to do some heroic progression and it’s the most enjoyable content for me. I hate doing farm content and if WoD suddenly means two or more months of doing the same thing over and over again with no new challenge to look forward to, I will likely go insane.

But, then, I’m also not an officer. The onus of finding a solution that will allow us to do this heroic (mythic; one day I will get used to the term!) content will not fall on me. We’re a tiny guild. We have a bench of one. Of the people who are active on a regular basis, 100% of them are raiders. Of the people who poke their heads in occasionally, 90% of them are former raiders that had to quit for one reason or the other. If all of them came back, we’d still need to recruit seven to ten players to ensure having enough people to be able to do heroic content, not to mention a bench big enough to sustain that roster. It’s going to take quite a bit of effort, and if our GM decides it’s not really worth it, I could easily see why.

I also am not particularly averse to 25-man raiding, but I know a few of our members raid 10 man because they like it. Not everyone’s computer can take large raids. I know because mine barely does (one of the reasons I have not really actively pursued 25-man raiding before now).

There’s also the fact that the difficulty of tiers varies greatly. Tier 14, my guild was racing the patch to get their (alas, I was not yet a part of the team by this point) Sha kill. They got it on the last week and mustered just one heroic kill. With ToT, we had about three months to work on heroics. This tier? It’s looking around the same, perhaps a bit more, depending on when Blizz releases the new expansion. If every tier looked like tier 14, then we’d be able to happily remain normal raiders, but there’s no way to know.

Mostly, I’m just crossing my fingers that making this decision won’t turn into a drama bomb.