Cameron Sorden wrote an interesting piece yesterday about morale. As he writes, “It's like watching a chain of dominoes. Sometimes, the group can laugh off a wipe or two. But if a simple mistake turns into a pattern of someone screwing up, or if luck goes against you and you have a few simple mistakes in a row, people start losing their morale.” And when that happens – people jump ship.
I’m a bit of a “what went wrong?” detective. Even when a wipe doesn’t happen and we just lose one person, I’m trying to deduce why it happened. It’s not always easy, but most times I can figure it out. I’m a bit of a perfectionist in that I believe there is good work and then there is just sloppy. No in-betweens. We either did it right or we did it badly.
But the morale thing, that’s something I’ve never really addressed on it’s own. And it’s sooo true. A couple of clumsy wipes and some finger pointing and it can be almost impossible to hold onto a group. I’m not a quitter and a repair bill or two is not the end of the world. I really really really hate to let an instance or boss get the better of me, so there is very little I hate more than a failed group. Think of me as a bulldog perfectionist.
I went on a bit of a badge marathon this weekend. I grinded out 37 badges over two days (Heroics only). Here’s the thing: I played the same amount of time both days, but on Saturday I got 28 badges and on Sunday I only got 9. I literally earned three times as many badges on Saturday as I did on Sunday. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I had so much more difficulty on Sunday.
On Monday, I only ran one Heroic and wanted to do something quick and simple. I looked around in LFG and saw a group forming (with tank and healer) for Slave Pens. I arrived at the instance and it quickly became apparent that three members (including the druid tank, warlock and priest) were all fairly new 70s. The other player, an ele shaman, was adequately geared but nothing spectacular.
Pull after pull we kept losing at least one person, at times three or four. More often than not it was the priest, shaman or tank. I kept waiting for one of them to pipe up that it was over or not going to happen. No one did. The priest (who had died the most) kept cracking jokes and hardly seemed to care. No one called out the tank for losing aggro. No one called out the priest for letting the tank die. No one yelled at the warlock for pulling aggro (over and over) and making the tank’s life difficult. So even while I’m thinking to myself that this is a horribly sloppy and overly difficult run, no one was upset about it. In fact, quite the opposite. The priest asked openly if he could add the tank and I to his friend’s list.
We finished the run and I logged for night. I didn’t think much about it again until this afternoon when I read Cameron’s article about morale. It hit me like a thunderbolt. That was the difference between Saturday and Sunday. Morale. The Saturday groups didn’t all go perfectly, but everyone had a good attitude. The Sunday groups just seemed to blow up over nothingness. In that Monday group, that undergeared healer was able to keep the morale up despite what would have been an otherwise frustrating run. While I certainly didn’t appreciate it at the time, I’ll gladly join a group with that priest again as a result.
It makes me wonder what else I should be doing to keep group morale up during a run.