Every week, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by a Stormpike Battle Standard. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more!
This week, Auzara of Chick GM has been conned into to being my blogger of choice this week.
Who are you? Where did you come from? Why am I not in your guild?
Technically this is 3 questions, but I’ll answer them while simultaneously shooting you a disapproving look.
I’m Sara. In my online gaming career I have been LdyMaria (don’t laugh I was 16 and didn’t know better), Essa and Auzara as well as a handful quieter names.
Sometimes when two people love each other very much, or get VERY drunk a man and a woman engage in a special kind of hug and an Auzara is born.
Because I believe Carnage would hunt me down and corpse camp me if I tried to steal you away. Also we’ve met our quota of Canadians. But Wyn, maybe we could steal Wyn!
From our various conversations and your blog, it’s a no brainer that your Guild puts the “pro” in progression. What’s your secret to driving your guild hard without it collapsing under its own weight, so to speak?
I’m not sure I want to claim that much pro, for our ‘gression. According to WoWProgress, we currently sit at 2079th in the world and 795th in the US. We came a little late to the raiding party in TBC, as we will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary on June 26th. Since our inception we’ve hovered between 750 and 800 in the US for our raiding career.
Our guild is very accepting and supportive of having a real life and making sure raiding is part of a BALANCE of multiple priorities. We’ve supported each other through; marriage, becoming a new parent, breaking up, losing a job, getting a new job, moving across the country, moving back in with their parents, losing a pet, car crashes, hospital stays and many other life events. That might sound “carebearish,” but I think having a stable supportive online community makes us a tool for helping to manage real life stress, rather than a trigger for real life stress to become overwhelming.
Beyond that I have an AMAZING team of officers, whose varied personalities and dedication to being available to our members makes it very easy for a member who is feeling burned out or frustrated to find someone they identify with in the leadership core to hear them out and help find a solution.
When all else fails, I’m not above bribing them with cookies.
No one learns to be a GM overnight. A lot about leadership is instinctive. I’ve worn those sneakers before and they didn’t fit well for me. What’s the story behind your path to being a leader? Have you been in other executive roles in your life?
I’ve been gaming online for about 10 years, for 6 of those I’ve held some sort of leadership position in the organization I’ve been a part of. My first position was after about a year of gaming. I was promoted Morale Officer because the leader of that guild found that I had an instinct for listening to people, diffusing their frustration, and summing up the problems that needed to be addressed to that leader. Since then I’ve held various positions in several games and several guilds. Leading when I was asked to and following when I wasn’t.
In that scary place without the internet, I’ve been a leader or officer of several volunteer organizations, the re-charter president of my school’s ACM chapter, a section chair in my college choir, and headed up some projects in my professional career as a web programmer/designer. To answer the question you didn’t ask, I find it a lot easier to lead in the real world than online.
How about your WoW career? Tell us some more about your characters in WoW, what they are and what role they play in the game.
Auzara – This character is the GM of a certain unnamed guild. She’s a holy priest who’s never had a point in shadow and the the first wow character I ever rolled.
Essa – I leveled Essa because I was having trouble recruiting a good restoration druid. I’d done a lot of research into the class but I wanted to actually play one to get a feel for managing the global cooldown and how to best utilize their “Oh No” tank saving options. The name is also my preferred name, I switched to Auzara for WoW because Essa is a name that’s only appropriate for an Elf.
Gunnorra – A baby hunter being leveled for Operation Shock Monkey. I could tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you.
[Name withheld to protect the weary] – I’m leveling a shaman that is unguilded on my server. This character allows me to maintain contact with my officers while, temporarily making myself unavailable to the multitude of applicants, and other people who may want my attention. Sometimes a girl needs to kill things in peace.
Blizzard has gradually given GMs additional tools to manage various day to day affairs of their respective organizations (IE, Guild banks). If there’s another feature you’d like to see Blizzard add to the game specifically for Guild use, what would you like to see? (Pick 1).
I’d really like guild housing. In the other games I’ve played having a “physical” gathering point really made a difference in helping to build a community. It helps to add to your sense of accomplishment, to see housing grow from a simple one room place to some of the more amazing, impressive homes that can be created online. I think including perks in this housing, like maybe reduced repair costs, putting the BoP patterns on a guild only crafter in the hall rather than a player character, might help bring some stability to what I see as a very transitive culture.
It’s a severe time investment in order to run a Guild and lead raids. One of the quotes you’ve always said to me is that the raid is never over for a GM until an hour after the raid ends. Care to capitalize and elaborate on that a little bit more?
Certainly, the raid ends and half my raiders log off or onto an alt. The other half want my attention. The first step is getting gems to the raiders who won gear that night, as the only member of the leadership team who is ALSO a Jewelcrafter this task falls on me more often than not. Though on really busy nights, my co-gm recruits a Jewelcrafter and the two of them take on the task together. The second step is to address individual concerns, inevitably during the night, someone has a thought that comes up, or someone needs feedback about how they played that night. My guild is mostly disciplined about recognizing that it’s not fair to take 23 other people’s raid time to address these matters. In order to maintain that discipline, they need to know I’m available after raids to hear what’s on their mind. After the gems and individual feedback, it’s time to check with the officer core about what they thought about the night and what we’re going to work on the next raid night. I promoted these people because they are awesome, but to take full advantage of their level of awesome, I have to make time to hear them. Finally, I go restock my consumables, reagents and repair to make 100% sure that if something comes up during the day tomorrow, I’m able to log in and be instantly ready to raid.
Obviously a progression oriented Guild such as yours has performance standards that need to be upheld by its members. New players undoubtedly need to be stress tested. After they’ve passed the gauntlet that is your application process and your interviews, I’m assuming they undergo a trial by fire before being granted either a starting position or bench position on the roster. What goes through your mind at this point? How are these guys evaluated? Does it vary much by class or role?
No fair, you know I’m writing about this for my next post!
The actual game play evaluation is done by our role leaders and overseen by myself if it’s a caster or healer or my co-GM if it’s a melee or tank. Our guild believes very much in investing time in people who are willing to invest time in themselves. We don’t require that our initiates come in as masters of their class. We do require that they make progress on the feedback we give them and that they come in with a healthy understanding of their class. To be quite honest because of the level of autonomy we give our role leaders, the evaluation process is very different for each of the different raiding roles.
The other aspect of the initiation period is integration and is the topic of the next post I’ll be making on Chick GM.
I know some of our esteemed readers might not be aware of your interesting hardware setup. Would you be interested in sharing what your raiding machine of choice is? And how on earth you’re able to pull that off? If I buy you a mouse, will you use it?
Don’t mock the laptop! As someone whose professional career and hobbies are internet related, having the portability of a laptop is very important to me. I pull it off by using the base of my hand to navigate with the touch pad. No I wouldn’t use a mouse if you bought it, but I am considering investing in a game pad.
Your funniest raid story.
Editor’s note: Hey! This is a family show!
You decided to gear your blog more toward guild leadership rather than end-game Priesting. I’m sure you thought about it; how did you make that decision? Why?
When I was brought into a leadership position because of instincts, I was fortunate enough to have a strong leader who helped me develop those instincts. I’ve found most leaders of online organizations have it fall into their lap and aren’t given a lot of preparation or guidance. My goal was to help share what I’ve learned through success and failure over the past 6 years. It’s also had the fortunate side effect of drawing other leaders to comment on my topics. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned from my peers and apply that to my leadership. I’m also working on book, that has less of “Auz’s Opinions” and more data about what exactly a Guild or Clan leader is expected to do.
Also there are several great blogs that have covered the concepts of priesting; this blog, A Dwarf Priest, The Egotistical Priest, etc. Having looked over them, I didn’t feel like I had anything to add to this community.
Raid consumables of choice? If you have any odd choices, why?
I carry a stack of Bloodberry Elixir, Elixir of Healing Power, Adept’s Elixir, Elixir of Major Mageblood, Elixir of Draenic Wisdom, Elixir of Major Fortitude, Flask of Mighty Restoration, Flask of Distilled Wisdom, Blackened Sporefish, Golden Fish Sticks, and a stack of any Spirit & Stam food (i.e. Clam Bars)
I will say I carry excessive amounts of consumables because I’ve taught my healers not to be afraid to speak up if they’ve forgotten something. If it becomes a habit, we have a problem, but every once in a while we all have an off night.
I don’t think anything is too unusual but:
Adept’s Elixir: For spike damage fights and physical damage fights the inspiration proc in addition to the increased crit rate has a higher impact on my healing than +50 to heal. Plus I have pallys on my healing team who may need them.
Flasks of Distilled Wisdom: With the 2.4 changes that make Wisdom affect your spirit regen these flasks got a buff. In my current gear, my wisdom is below the optimal levels for maximizing my spirit regen. I use this flask for learning short fights, like right now working on Brutalus.
Any Spirit/Stam food: This may seem like a cheap way out but it’s actually better than Blackened Sporefish. 20 spirit equates to 8.69 mp5 for me and +7 to heal. In fights where I expect to take damage this is key.
Blackened Sporefish: Given what I just said about the Spirit/Stam food why do I carry this? Did I mention I have Pallys and Shaman? Also the mana regen from the 20 spirit is determined by my average time in the five second rule, if I expect to be chain casting then Blackened Sporefish regains its edge.
Have you ever spec’d CoH? What would you say are the major differences, from a task-perspective? What gear or gemming differences do you notice as an imp. Spirit Priest?
When I first started TBC I was an early adopter of CoH. For five mans and Kara at a lower gear level it had a larger impact on healing success than possibly giving up the Imp DS buff. I switched over when my spirit levels became high enough that I gained more plus healing from the Imp DS buff than I lost from the points in Empowered healing AND my Imp DS buddy wanted to switch roles. From a gear and gemming point of view, I found I put more weight on spirit vs mp5 than my CoH brethren, even before 2.4 came out and all the cool kids switched to spirit. Having a guaranteed additional 10% more plus healing from my spirit and having the Human Spirit buff made it more desirable to me than other Priests. Also, having the ability to spam an instant spell like CoH put my CoH brethren in the five second rule more often than I was.
WotLK is coming soon – what are you looking forward to most, judging from what you’ve heard about WotLK raiding? Do you think your guild will focus primarily on the 10-man set-up or the 25?
I’m most looking forward a chance to see how my guild will do with a fresh start relative to our peers. Coming to the scene a few months later than other guilds on our server had us playing catch up. It’ll be nice to have a chance to see if our organization and teamwork can give us an edge in leveling and trying out new zones BEFORE everyone has a strategy available online. And allowing some of my members a chance to try out a new role that doesn’t make sense to try now with our current gear needs.
I am keeping an eye on the Alpha leaks, but I think at this point the data is too unreliable to make serious guild plans in one direction or the other. I remember the wide speculations that occurred when TBC was in alpha and how some people got themselves all worked up over things that didn’t end up happening. When WotLK comes out, we’ll take a look at our guild members and their needs and we’ll make the decisions that make the most sense for our guild. I’m willing to bet we end up accommodating both types of raiding either by maintaining a 25 man raid force and running a few smaller 10 man groups on the weekends or by focusing on 10 mans and allying with another guild on the server for 25 mans on the weekends.
You’re in a raid that has just wiped. Typically, the healers got the blame. But you check your stats, and KNOW that it was MageX and TankZ’s fault(s). How do you diplomatically explain what happened without sounding like you’re making excuses? (oh, yeah, and you’re not the GM.)
Each leader has a different personality and method of approach that works best for them. Some GMs respond perfectly well to “Check the death report and quit yelling at the healers, jerk.” in vent.
You’re probably safest with using your data gathering tools report feature and sending the data you have to the GM (or healing lead). If you don’t have stats something like “I really am trying my best to heal MageZ but I think it’s going to be hard for me to heal through him standing in the fire.” From there, rather than point fingers, ask what you can do to help, “I’m looking over these stats and I’m having trouble understanding what I can do differently heal through this incoming damage. Do you have any ideas about how we can keep this from wiping us again?”
Remember, unless you have hard data to prove it (like a corpse in a fire patch or a death report), what you KNOW and what your GM knows might not be the same thing. We’re not perfect people and it’s difficult to know exactly what 24 other people are doing at once.
You’re very comfortable with broadcasting your gender on teh interwebz, but you’ve mentioned that you don’t advertise it on your server. That seems a little contradictory – what gives?
The role of female gamers has come a long way over the past 10 years. When I first started gaming, I referred to my boyfriend in a public channel and got swarmed with a lot of unwanted attention. It was so bad that I rerolled (from LdyMaria to Essa) and didn’t volunteer that I was a girl for a long time.
In WoW I’m not as cautious as I’ve been in previous games. Plus popping into vent makes it very hard to be ambiguous about your gender, but out of respect for my guild I don’t wander around shouting from the rooftops that I’m a girl. I don’t want it to become a gimmick or something that effects our reputation on our server. “Zomg if you join Auz’s guild you get raid instructions from a GURL LolZ”
I advertise it on the intarwebz because I honestly think it affects how I approach leadership. Certainly men and women are capable of existing outside of gender lines and I would never want to use gender lines to paint someone into a corner. That being said, there are things I can say to a male player that if he heard from another male player might make him more defensive and there are things that I believe my femininity brings to my leadership style that are significant.
What do your guildies think of your blog?
I haven’t really advertised my blog to my guildmates. My Co-GM reads it so I have a second opinion that what I’m saying IF associated with my guild wouldn’t prove to be embarrassing or damaging to our guild’s reputation. I have a few members I shared it with because I wanted their feedback, and a few of them have stumbled upon it in their own internet wanderings.
My concern with sharing it with them directly is I think some of my leadership style loses it’s potency if my guildmates realize they while I do care about them and their needs, when they come to me with a concern there are basic facts I need to know and over time I’ve built for lack of a better term formulas for these conversations. Also, these guys HAVE to raid with me about 20 hours a week AND they have to read the forum posts I make; I’m not sure they really need to spend another few hours reading my blog too. If I shared it with them directly, they might feel obligated to do so.
That being said, the few that have found it or read it own their own like it for the most part. When I wrote about applications one of them was pleasantly surpised to recognize an except from his own application in the good section. Another generally engages me in a 30 to 45 minute conversation after each entry. One of my guildmates reads the blog and likes to complain to me about the “carebear” nature of what I write. I’ve noticed that despite these complaints, he still reads it and still remains in the guild.
When taking a break from being a total badass, what are your hobbies inside WoW? Do you have any favorite things to do outside raids and running the guild?
I collect non-combat pets, I level alts that can heal, and I hang out in this vent with a crazy broad and some Canasians.
Same question, different perspective: what’s fun enough to pry you away from your computer?
I have an amazing sister who’s moving to California in a few weeks, whenever I can I spend time with her.
I love volunteer work. Nothing makes me feel better than to look at a habitat for humanity house I helped to build, or spending some time delivering meals or organizing cans for the local food bank and realize I’ve had a positive impact in someone’s life.
Making music, while I’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, I have a brother who likes to play the guitar while I sing and a local pub where if I stop by I end up getting dragged on stage to sing a song or two.
Matticus and Wynthea are Burn Victims on Brutalus. Since you can’t AoE heal, who do you save?
I instruct them to cast binding heal and prayer of mending on each other and I go back to my tank healing job. Silly priests expecting me to heal them.
Any other nerdy past times we can mock you about mercilessly?
In high school I was in show choir. I wore a dress with purple taffeta and sequins.
In college I starred in a play that was entirely in Spanish and I was a back stage techie for many productions.
Also, see the ACM link in answer 3 and you may proceed mocking.
Did I mention that not only do I play wow, I lead a guild AND write about it in my spare time. You could probably look up Nerd in the dictionary and find my picture.
With your background in statistics, you take a very mathematical approach to healing raids. Where do you get your data? Walk me through the process for independent testing. (Note: Wyn’s question, not mine).
Deciding to Test:
The most recent test I did was when I needed to know what the max rank I could chain cast greater heal for 6 minutes was (well chain cast and keep renew up). I test when I’m building a healing theory for a healing team or on the fence about a piece of gear, trinket or talent spec.
My primary source of data is WWS reports. I also use the following mods
RegenFu – to monitor my personal time in the five second rule
WoWEquip – to compare different gear, gemming and enchanting combinations in game
Healpoints – not for the gear comparison but for the data about how long you can chain cast certain spells, how down ranking impacts your longevity and how proposed stat adjustments impact your spells.
I generally prefer to do my testing IN raids wherever possible because I feel like healing modeling depends largely on how the damage is taken and the pace of the fight. For personal tests I switch the item, talent, trinket etc and go into a fight and cast my normal spells. I do this for 2 weeks to allows for personal variants and then switch back to the old set up for 1 week. I then compare that two weeks worth of WWS reports with the WWS reports for the week before and the week after I switched. I look at my personal performance over that time period, if it’s a proc based system I look at the frequency of the procs of the item.
I research formulas on EJ forums and other blogs that I respect and I make sure I understand how THEY got those formulas. If I can’t find a formula I make one up and double check it with a math nerd friend or two.
What I can’t do in raids, I do by simply spam healing myself, running a combat log and running that log through WWS.
When I’m testing a healing strategy in general I first check who heals whom to make sure my healing strategy is being followed. (You can’t test what isn’t happening) Then I check out the raid members death reports (pre wipe deaths only.) I look at the break down of spells being cast by each healer and the consumables used.
I do this frequently and share it with the guild/raid/friends etc when they ask for clarification. I think it’s good for them to know and understand that there is math to support it, but I think they get confused when I go off into math talk.
House, Grissom, or Bauer?
Shouts and all that?
My leadership crew
Billdabutcha/Mikedabutcha – Co-GM and best friend, wouldn’t enjoy the game without him. (No he’s not my boyfriend, but thanks for asking)
Hogun “The Vent God” – Healing officer and recruitment dude, melting women with his voice since day one.
Fiz “The Hole” Widget – Raid Leader and caster officer, has found every hole a gnome can fall into and get stuck in from Kara to Sunwell.
Stop “The Furious” – Melee officer and WWS dude, best damn fury warrior in the game
Siga “The Details guy” – Raid assistant and DKP dude, nothing escapes his notice.
Silversong “The Actress” – When she retired from raiding she stayed on and continues to contribute as our friend officer and mistress of fun.
Too numerous to name individually, but you guys really took me under your wing and helped me grow. I was very blessed to find such a supportive and knowledgeable community.
At the risk of sounding too cheesy Wyn and Matt, it’s been really cool to have a place to step away from being a GM and two great people to act as a sounding board and proofread my stuff.