Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leaders: Grown Fresh in Your Own Backyard

For those who have noticed War 'n Pieces and linked over to us, a big thanks! I'm flattered by the descriptions of me that I've seen, and it's always a privilege to be known in the community.

One thing I'd like to point out in particular is that some have called me a "born leader." But actually, I can't take credit for that. There are two people in particular that I owe my grasp of strategy and my leadership capabilities to.

It was in Urielfixor's School of Hard Knocks that I learned much of the strategy I use today. Back in that day, I was playing Defense of the Ancients, based in the real time strategy game of Warcraft III. We would play one on one games, hour after hour, with him slaughtering me game after game. Every time he appeared weak, he was feinting me, luring me to a bad position where he could lay down the pain on me. And any time he appeared strong, he was bluffing. At first, his play style looks lethargic, until (after much defeat at his able hands) you realize the underlying principle: only engage the enemy when you have the advantage, strike swiftly, and retreat before you are in dire straits. By simply not being around for me to fight, he could lure me into a trap, time after time.

This strategy is one I hold to today. A few nights ago, my warbands arrived just seconds after the enemy killed our keep lord. It was an epic battle, but after their keep lord spawned in about fifty seconds after we arrived, Maladorn confirmed my suspicion: our forces could tarry on, but we wouldn't be winning this battle. At that point, I literally gave the order to my warbands: die. One death is humiliating, but being farmed is excruciating. Then, instead of regrouping and attacking the enemy at their strong point, I dispatched scouts to our other keeps, and formed up my forces in the warcamp. Then, when the scouts gave the heads up on which keep they were attacking, we went to that keep, in order to bring the fight to a place where the advantage was ours.

A year later in my gaming career, I apprenticed under Danagar, a true Master. He led the forty man Alterac Valley raids in World of Warcraft. His manner was laid back, his directions were clear, his instruction was constructive, and his raids were just plain fun. I started serving in his raid as a plain grunt, just following instructions and doing as I was told. As I became more familiar with his strategy, and the layout of the battleground, I began to be able to answer some of the many questions that were thrown at him constantly: "Where is this?", "What do I do here?", "Why are we doing this and that?". I enjoyed helping, but didn't see anything more of it. However, he saw something in me that I didn't see myself. He started giving me the responsibility of leading his Backcap group, a critical group of about ten people, which defends against the entire enemy force. Since I was a rogue, and had the ability to stealth, it was a natural fit.

But more than that, I enjoyed the leadership. I could tell my backcap group to go here, do this, distract him, cap that, and so on. And since I did it with the power of Danagar's leadership behind me, people followed my instructions. It was exhilarating. I began to formulate strategies of my own, and lead as one with authority. Sadly, Danagar eventually stopped doing the raids. He had collected everything he could from them, so there was no reason to continue. So it was then that I began to lead the whole thing on my own.

My first raid, I had to get him to help me recruit all the people I needed, since I was still so unknown in the game world. But, after that first raid, people began to flock under my banner, and whisper me incessantly: "When's the next AV?". It was extremely stressful to me, but it was tons of fun, crushing the horde, including their premades. But the interest was short to last. The battle, while fun, was always the same. The victory, while enjoyable, was never satisfying. No matter how many times you kill Drek'thar, he always returns.

Not only is this the story of my gaming history, it is also the reason I am so much at home in Warhammer Online. The battles are different every time, and there are no constants. The game is still a game, but the strategy is real. The victory is satisfying, because once you kill the enemy keep lord, for as long as you then hold the keep, it shall always be yours. Now THAT'S fun.

And remember, you don't have to be a born leader to be a magnificent general. All you need are three things: the humility to learn under the Masters in the field, the will to succeed, and the guts to put yourself out there to be judged by everyone. It's a tough job.

But it's a ton of fun.

Ironbreaker Insight: Roast witch elf tastes like chicken. But more satisfying.


  1. I found myself leading a warband and I have to say. the knowledge of having followers is crushingingly stressfull.

  2. Yeah, you called it, man. One thing I was grateful for when I first started leading the warbands in Warhammer is that PUG warbands aren't hooked up on Ventrilo, so instead of an awkward silence when I wasn't ready to answer a question, it could be assumed that I was typing ; ]

    Vent can make or break leadership. It's so extremely useful for keeping everyone together and firmly under your command, but it's, like you said, crushingly stressful. It's an hours-long theater production with no intermission. Whew!

    Makes me sweat just thinkin' about it.

  3. Good read, and I agree totally on vent situation. I believe voice communication to be key though. I remember some of the bigger raids and castle sieges in L2 where leaders would have voice over all rooms and each party had its own room. Alot of things you can do with Vent to be organized.