Assholes and idiots

So over the weekend I tried to run a few alts through Antorus the Burning Throne LFR. Okay, I know I was pretty much asking for it by running LFR at the end of the week, but holy guacamole what a loony bin it was. Every time. All I wanted was some gear and AP, maybe some essences for legendary purchase.

Every group was like a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. People running around with no clue how to kill a boss, tanks rage quitting, people yelling in caps at dps below a million, kick votes every few minutes, people afk apparently on purpose, people begging for every piece of gear that dropped even if they were equipped with better stuff, some people trying to explain fights and getting yelled at for it, and trolls all over the place spreading debuffs and pulling early.

I don’t mind when there are people in LFR who do not know the fights, as long as they speak up and say so. I am happy to throw out some quick instructions like “kill adds over boss, stack on purple circles, spread on orange, stand in green, and avoid the flame that comes out of his claw hand” — I mean, that’s really all damage dealers need to know for Kin’garoth. I am even happy to type out instructions for the add groups coming up in Coven — “Get out of middle!” or “Slow/trap adds in corners” etc. And if we wipe once or twice just because it’s a lot to remember and some people just haven’t got the hang of it yet, no big deal. It’s LFR after all.

But what really trips my mad trigger is when there is an asshole in the group purposely causing wipes and killing people. For example, someone deliberately running around tagging people with the one-shot flame debuff in the trash leading to the Burning Throne. We actually had someone doing that yesterday in a group I was in. Luckily, I was healing and also for some reason the only one with a mass rez ability. I tried to get said asshole kicked, but no one was interested enough to follow through, so when we got to the bosses, I simply put him on focus and gave him no heals. To my surprise and delight, no other healers seemed to be very interested in him either, and he died quickly every time. Then after we either wiped or killed a boss, I methodically rezzed everyone individually instead of casting mass rez. He was the only one who had to run back a few times, and we didn’t always wait for him. He was pissed and called me out on it, so I explained gosh I thought he loved dying because he was so keen on causing it, dear me did I misinterpret his actions? He thought it was funny when he was causing it, why was he not amused now?

I’ve written about this before, but for the life of me I just cannot understand why some people do this kind of thing. Why join a raid if you have no interest in doing anything but deliberately screwing it up? I just do not see the attraction in spoiling the game for others. Blizz needs a “group troll” category for reporting these asswipes. LFR is challenging enough usually, without jerks adding to it.

Anyway, like I said, it was a very bad weekend for LFR. All I can think of is the little kids were bored already from spring break and decided to be bratty in WoW. (Trade chat was also worse than usual, so I am assuming the children were all showing off the naughty words they know, always a surefire way to impress others with how grown up you are… Pretty sure lots of them got reported.) Or maybe it was the full moon that brought out the trolls. Whatever, it was not enjoyable.

So much for the “assholes” portion of the post, now on to the “idiots” section.

Another phenomenon I just cannot wrap my head around in WoW is the selling of crafted profession items at prices below — sometimes far, far below — the cost of the mats to make them. And I am not just talking about mats someone can gather — more about that in a bit — I am also talking about mats that have to be purchased at significant cost from a vendor, like the ones for the engineer-made chopper.

I suppose a certain number of these bargain basement items are part of cheating scams — illegal digital clones or being fenced from stolen accounts. There are also a  few items (mostly gems and enchants) sold this way in order to drive competitors out of the market. But there are a huge number of these items coming from people apparently too stupid to understand the concept of profit. They think, for example, that if they spend 6 hours gathering herbs and other mats to craft something, that those mats are “free” and if they sell the item at a few hundred gold, that is clear profit.

I get that WoW is basically a way to waste time, so I suppose there is a certain amount of logic in the idea that your time in game is worthless. But the people who do a lot of time-consuming gathering are not smart enough to see they could actually make more gold by selling the raw mats than by crafting them into an end item. Or maybe they just don’t care about gold and can’t be bothered to do anything other than dump goods as quickly as possible.

But here’s the thing. Constantly underselling items undermines the entire profession system. Even if you yourself don’t give a rat’s ass about profits, there is a significant portion of the player base that does care, for whom professions are the most engaging part of the game. Players who vastly undervalue the market price for their goods are no better than the wipe trolls in LFR. The fact that they may do it out of ignorance or stupidity instead of malice does not change the result: deliberately ruining the game for others.

Early in every expansion there are clear profession winners and losers, and the winners’ products are often sold at outrageous prices. I am not a fan of this, either, but at least that phenomenon is a textbook example of the law of supply and demand. It is true that as the expansion goes on there will be greater supplies of items and for some things (like gear) possibly less demand, a situation that will inevitably result in lower prices and lower profit margins for sellers. But deliberately dumping goods on the market at a net loss is detrimental to the entire system, akin to real world dumping practices. It skews the profession system, and it makes that part of the game less enjoyable for many.

I have no idea how the macro WoW economy works. Blizz would have us believe it is simple market forces, but they have never been shy about putting their thumb on the scale if they think it necessary. Almost certainly, they try to regulate it to one degree or another. They have stated that in BfA they will try to make crafted items relevant for a longer period than they did in Legion (where crafted gear was worthless almost as soon as it could be made). If they are serious about this goal, they will have to implement some mechanism to seriously discourage selling at a net loss. I don’t know what such a mechanism would be, but if they do not do it then anything else they do to extend the relevance of crafted items will fail.

So yeah. Assholes and idiots. Quite a weekend.

That one guy

Short post today, because to be honest there is almost zero going on in WoW until the main part of Blizzcon starts.

Today’s topic has to do with how to deal with “That One Guy” in your guild or raid team that drives you up a wall. You know the one. The guy (generic gender usage here) that insists on inserting himself into every conversation, that lets you know how insulted he is that he was not asked to join your instance group, that gets Terribly Hurt Feelings when told his damage numbers (below the tank’s in spite of very decent gear level) need to improve, that takes umbrage when asked to not make extraneous comments during combat in the raid voice channel, that feels slighted if lots of people do not LOL to his “witty” comments in gchat or any of the dozens of cat videos he spams the guild Discord channel with. He natters on for weeks before his birthday about how he doesn’t want anyone to make a fuss over it, he continually whines to everyone about his constant “migraines” or his mysterious sicknesses or perpetual tiredness and uses them as an excuse for snarky behavior. He is a professional victim of constant misunderstanding. He uses every gchat or voice channel comment as a springboard to “prove” his intellectual depth and knowledge. You know the guy. His picture is posted in the dictionary under “passive-aggressive”.

Usually if we think about it, the problem is not so much with That Guy as it is with our own response to him — lots of different kinds of people in this world, and we all have to learn how to deal with them in a civilized fashion, sooner or later. We need to adopt a mature, reasoned approach to the problem. We should be compassionate and allow for the possibility that maybe he has a real psychological problem. (Although we are not sure if there is a medical term for Compulsive Asshat Syndrome.)

But deep down what we are really thinking is, “I want to fling a mud pie in that guy’s face!”

Every time I have run into this situation — and it has not been often in my time in WoW — I feel like every solution is unsatisfactory. That Guy is so pervasive that it is virtually impossible to just not pay attention to him, he is the virtual equivalent of always in your face. Putting him on /ignore in gchat works to an extent, but there is the nagging feeling that you should not have to do that with a fellow guildie, that we should all be adults and just politely get along. Putting him on Local Mute in Mumble — or some equivalent — is possible, but you run the risk of wiping the raid because he might actually say something important to execution. Unlikely, but possible.

Responding to him — taking the bait — is not going to accomplish anything other than a drama situation for the guild, which is even worse than suffering this fool. Complaining about him to a guild officer or the GM just paints you as a whiny snowflake — they may actually feel the same way about him, but if he walks a careful line and does not technically break any guild rules, they would appear arbitrary if they kick him, and that perception is not good for a guild in the long run. (Although one wishes it were possible to establish an objective Jerk standard and anyone who met it could clearly be kicked …)

So there really are no good solutions. Unfortunately, the continued existence of That Guy can have subtle effects on a guild — we may decide to no longer log in on Wednesday and Friday nights, for example, because we know that is his prime game time. We start to think up excuses to call out on raid nights. We politely decline Mythic+ invitations if we know he will be one of the group. Et cetera. Over time, one person can in fact contribute to a guild’s decline, even in the absence of overt drama. The situation can be insidiously damaging.

Luckily, these situations often self-correct — That Guy decides he is not sufficiently appreciated and leaves the guild, or he initiates an obvious drama situation that causes him to be kicked. Still, it is uncomfortable until that happens.

Meanwhile, I think I may have a conflict with next week’s raid ….