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Couples and WoW, Part 3

February 8, 2012

Dear Reader,

Today, we’ll finish looking at the six couple paradigms and discussing their effect on end-game play.

Crocs and Plovers


This type of relationship is symbiotic but not in any way balanced. This was the hardest metaphor for me to work with, and I’ll go ahead and tell you the term on the other site is “Fans and Idols.” I chose these animals because the relationship only works while both are fulfilling their role. One is the big, strong crocodile killing its prey and providing for the plover, and the little bird is living entirely off the croc’s behalf while providing a small service in return. As soon as the plover gets bored of putting up with the croc’s dirty teeth, the relationship dissolves.

In end-game WoW, we can see this behavior as fandom. In more casual raid groups (or poorly managed hardcore ones), we occasionally have plovers that only get to come because of the crocs. The plovers might be perfectly nice people, but they are raiding on the ability of their partner. Once either loses interest, both vanish.

I’ve seen a lot of these, too. People’s mothers (how can you say “No, Mom, you can’t come raid with us?” I was once asked. I didn’t have a response.), kids, husbands and wives alike have a special place in our hearts and, unfortunately, in guild raids, too.  I’ve really enjoyed some of the times I’ve spent with some of the plovers doing “fun” guild activities like retro raiding, messy bgs, or achievement hunting, but the fact of the matter is that in true end-game high-stakes activities, everyone needs to pull their weight.  Plovers simply don’t have a place there.

Grizzly Bears

Grizzlies are famous for being fiercely protective of their young.  Thanks to the American TV sensation Sarah Palin (who I will not call a politician because it would be like calling the Hamburgler a master criminal), we even have the term “Grizzly Moms” to bounce around.  In couples, Grizzlies thrive on their self-independence, and any threat to their dyad is met with vicious attacks.  These couples work well because their independence is so highly dependent on each other, and their insular nature makes them close, even intimate.  The only real threat to their relationship can come from the outside.

This type of couple is what Matticus described in his post; when one in the couple is threatened, the other charges in, stands up on their hind legs, bares their teeth, and roars in fury.  It can be somewhat unsettling.  Obviously, dealing with either one of the couple implies dealing with both, and that can mean a 2 on 1 meeting that devolves into defensive attacks from the pair while you simply try to make your point.  If both of the pair are performing well, then you wouldn’t necessarily even know the difference between Grizzlies and, say, Penguins, but when they’re not, you’re in for a hell of a fight.

I would bet that most of us have run into this kind of couple before, and lord knows in my past I was a bit of a grizzly myself.  I believe I’ve since learned my lesson, and since my wife does a lot of research and uses Internet tools and practices her game play on her own, I don’t really need to worry too much about criticism.  The only time she’s been criticized recently was by another healer who claimed she wasn’t pulling her weight, but when we compared recounts, our numbers were starkly different, and since it was a Shannox fight and she was healing me, the off tank, we spent a lot of time far away from the raid.  That’s the only assumption I could find that would explain such different numbers, but the other healer accepted it and backed off.  I didn’t attack; I simply provided numbers.

On the other hand, my somewhat notorious guild leader and her husband are a bit grizzly-ish.  When I’ve approached her about a particular issue and ask to speak to her in private, he frequently pops in if it’s a “guild” issue and not a personal one.  I assume he’s asking her on their end if he can pop in, and she’s saying sure if it’s not something that I clearly want to keep from him; usually I speak to her in private so as not to embarrass others in the raid who need some guidance.  On the few occasions I’ve been talking to her about her, he’s come in and defended her, turning the discussion into an argument about management, and it was in one such discussion that I was basically accused of taking over raids and not letting her do her job.  This was after a night when she’d pushed to do Zon’ozz and I’d done research that suggested Yor’sahj was easier.  The raid voiced agreement that they wanted to do the ooze boss, and she’d gotten upset but agreed.  Afterward, in speaking to her, he hopped up and accused me of a coup, so after that I basically stayed out of all raid decisions, and, shortly later, stayed out of raiding.  I got mauled by a Grizzly; I needed some time to recover (though mauled is a gross over-exaggeration for narrative effect.  He was mostly polite but firm, and he didn’t let me make my points by forcing the conversation to be about me rather than anything else.).


Angelfish couples work well together; they hunt, raise their young, and defend their territory as a mated pair for life.  They have similar interests, cooperate well, enjoy each other’s company, and don’t  mind just spending time together.  They’re a very stable relationship, so stable, in fact, that it can sometimes hinder their personal growth.  Because they’re so content just being in each others’ company and hanging about, they don’t push themselves much to go out and try new things, eventually falling into predictable patterns of behavior that can grind their ambitions to a standstill.  Of course, that’s not really a big deal because they’re happy together.

In WoW, these couples don’t cause many waves.  The main difference between penguins and angelfish is that angelfish are a unit.  Unlike penguins, they don’t pursue their own activities and would not be willing to do things separately.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, because if they both play well, then they can both raid without complaint, or if one can’t raid but you’ve got a replacement, the other will step out without much fuss; they’re main desire is simply togetherness.  However, there are times when you want or need one and not the other, and then you might be in for a mess.

I have certainly seen this couple, too.  In my David and Goliath story, Goliath and his wife were angelfish.  They were solid raiders, too, when they chose to come with us.  You’d never catch one playing without the other, and it would be unthinkable to take one without the other on a raid.  Since we were doing 25 man Gruul at that point, there were plenty of spots, and since they were both good raiders (he was the mage tank for Krosh Firehand on the High Council, and he did a damn good job of it, even if he was a bully, and she was a bear tank that tanked with, of all people, me, on the warlock), we didn’t run into problems.  However, since Goliath hated me and angelfish hunt together, the wife made life a living hell for my buddy, then guild leader.  In the end, that’s what broke him and began the long descent to hating WoW.

So, dear reader, here are the six types of couples and their effect on end game.  On Friday, I’ve got a surprise for you – a guest correspondence from an old friend of mine.  He’s been playing Magic: The Gathering Online and has taken a strong liking to it.  He’ll tell you more on Friday.  On Monday, we’ll finish the last correspondence in this series with tips on how to deal with each type of couple.  See you then!


Stubborn (and upset he couldn’t use “Bulls” as a couple type.  Grizzlies was just too appropo.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2012 11:01 am

    Thanks for this thoughtful series so far, Stubborn. I’ve been enjoying it.

    I wanted to see all your couple types before trying to classify my own relationship… and the funny thing is, I think me and my SO are different types? I would like us to be penguins and act accordingly. However, I think my man’s more of a grizzly. In other words, while I try not to get too involved in any issues he might have (other than providing comfort and reassurance privately), he quite likes to jump in and growl if anything does as much as displease me.

    Though lately, levelling in SWTOR, we’ve been more like angelfish I guess – sticking together all the time and not needing much else.

    • February 8, 2012 1:47 pm

      I can totally see that. I suspect that every relationship moves into and out of each of these, staying overlapping at times, and that each partner as the relationship evolves takes on different roles. As with most things, I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, like Bartle’s scores. You may be mostly one, but you’ve got a little of all of them in there.

      Thanks for the comment!


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