When You Have Raid Fright
I’ve made a lot of hunter-related posts lately. I figured I should write something different today so I wouldn’t bore my readers who aren’t hunters.
I’m fortunate to have been able to raid a bit more the past week. It’s starting to look like a regular cycle of weekend Serpentshrine Cavern, Monday Karazhan, and Thursday raid with the guild. Knights of Redemption made its progression kills on Hydross and Lurker last weekend, and we were there for both of them. After a few attempts on Tidewalker, they may actually down him this weekend (though I won’t be able to make it). My guild made more attempts on Archimonde on Thursday to no avail, and we also found out one of the guilds in the server that’s a bit ahead of us took 7 hours to down Archimonde on a Hyjal run that night.
As I’m raiding throughout the week, I’ve been noticing something in my performance. It’s similar to stage fright. I call it raid fright.
In my guild, I’m usually a standby raider, helping fill in empty slots if they need an extra DPS. It’s been my general attitude towards the guild for a while. I will do instances with them from time to time, but I mainly stay for the company. That’s why I PUG a lot and raid with other guilds.
Normally, I’d say I’m pretty on top of things when I go into an instance or a raid. There are rare days where I may be off in my performance, making accidental pulls, being sloppy with crowd control, etc. But in general, I perform my best during these PUG situations. One of the raid leaders of KoR thinks I’ve been doing well and is eager to get me into 25-mans whenever they are able to raid. But as I raid more regularly with my guild when needed, I’m starting to see differences in my performance that I didn’t really notice before. Earlier this week, I managed to pull extra packs of mobs with my pet in Karazhan, pulled aggro on several occasions throughout the night, etc. In Hyjal the other night, I was very sluggish and slow during trash waves. My response time was longer than what I’m used to. The same happened for Rage Winterchill and Anetheron. (I was subbed out for Kaz’rogal and Azgalor.) At Archimonde, I was too slow to activate my Tears of the Goddess during air burst and died first during one attempt and not running to a decurser because I didn’t notice I had Grip of the Legion on me during another attempt. It was pretty disheartening.
Why do I think raid fright happens?
For one, it happens when you’re thrown in a situation you’re not familiar with. In my case, I leveled my way through PUGs and meeting people outside my guild. I didn’t really start running instances with guildmates until I arrived in Outland. At that point, during Slave Pens, a guildmate commented on how well I was doing at chain trapping. In PUG situations, you want to leave a name for yourself, hence you try to perform your best. However, if you are having bad day, a slightly sloppy performance doesn’t really harm you since you most likely won’t see the other people in the group ever again. In a guild raid, you still want to perform your best to put your name out there, but when you are among the core raiders, you’re afraid of making a mistake. You become so afraid that it begins to distract you and actually hampers performance instead of improving it. Despite having been explained the fights, you become so cautious that a sudden change in the environment that requires immediate action causes you to panic.
I think the other reason raid fright happens has to do with the environment of the raid itself. If a raid team sets its expectations too high for a relatively new raider, it may perceive him/her as an actual hindrance rather than a member of the team, however temporary. The team must understand when they pull in others who do not regularly come, they will not know what kind of expectations it has of them. I’m not talking about not being a general idiot. I’m talking about the raid’s attitude towards a wipe and mistakes. If the raid is intolerant of these occasional things, it will alienate the new member and make him/her feel even more uncomfortable. There is too much pressure than the person is used to, and it’s even more difficult in mentally tasking encounters.
How can you cure raid fright then?
Much like stage fright, the only way to cure it is more practice. But practice alone is not enough. The effort has to be mutual. The raid team can’t go under the impression that the new member will perform his/her best the first few times around because they are still getting used to the environment. Raid leaders must be in a positive attitude rather than yelling at people for performing less than spectacular. Encourage the raid members. The more positive experience the new member has, the better he/she will perform. They will not feel as much that they are under the lens being reviewed of their actions.
In all honesty, I envy people who can just come into a group and still perform very well the way they do normally.