Interview with a GM: Mel of Edge

This is an interview in a (hopefully) ongoing Interview with a GM series. Today, we sit down with Mel of Edge and one of the bloggers at Sacred Duty.

At what point in your gaming life did you suddenly decide that you wanted to be a guild leader and what led to that decision?

I can only really answer the spirit of the question, and not the substance of it, because Edge doesn’t have a Guild Leader.  The GM is a level 1 alt, and you can’t prove that it’s me.  We run with a council of officers.  There are four of us – I’m the Raid Leader and tank officer, but it’s much more than a one-man show.  We all work very hard to keep the guild running effectively.

As far as being in a leadership position in a guild goes, though, it’s not something I’d ever thought about before it was inflicted on me.  I was a fairly new raider when I joined Edge – I was inexperienced, but they headhunted me out of a ZA pug (the original ZA).  About three months after I joined Edge, the RL and MT retired, and the other officers asked me to take the job.  I was young and naive and should have known better.
Raid leading can be very rewarding, but it’s a lot more extra work than I would have believed when I first took the job on, and a lot more added pressure.  I decided to take the job they offered me because I didn’t know how much work it was going to be, and I wanted to give back to this nice guild that was letting me see content with them.  I’m not sure I’d be able to make the same decision knowing what I know now – but I wouldn’t give up the experience, either.  I’m not sure I can explain that dichotomy any more clearly, as much as I might wish to.

Tell me about the loot system your guild uses and how it fits in with your guild’s culture.

We use loot council.  In my opinion a properly run loot council is the most progressive loot system.  It allows you to put loot where it will best assist the raid in downing bosses.  It prevents any worries about DKP hoarding with tier tokens.  So long as the loot council isn’t corrupt, there isn’t much of a problem with drama.  In the 3 years that I’ve been an officer in Edge, we haven’t had an issue with corruption.  Loot is handled fairly, but we’ve been able to deflect loot onto DPS or healers when we’re stuck at a particular gear check to help us over that hump.  It’s never going to be an enormous difference, but small advantages add up.

What is the typical application process like? How are players handled who pass and those who don’t pass your standards?

All apps get posted to a private members forum for our guild.  Good ones will get contacted for an interview.  Our interview process is typically fairly long and involved, and it focuses mainly on “getting to know you” types of questions.  WoL can tell us if a player is good, but it’s very important to us that people will fit in with guild culture.  We want to get a sense of people in an interview, and we want them to get a sense of us.  If people are going to spend up to $55 to raid with us, we want them to have a very high chance of success in the trial.

Following a successful interview, there’s a 4 week “initiate” period, where people get to prove that they’re worth a raid slot.  The biggest hurdle to clear is not standing in fire.  It’s an unofficial policy with us that nobody fails in their first raid – it’s hard to join a new guild, often a more progressed guild, with new strategies, and immediately be perfect.  But we do expect trials to be competitive with our established raid force in most performance criteria (gear is taken into account) very quickly.  We can’t afford to carry people.  Generally we have a fairly high success rate on trials, roughly 75%.  We like to believe it’s due to the thorough interview process, thorough vetting of the application and logs, and because we’re willing to give trials a real legitimate second chance, no matter how disastrous the first raid was.  Some of our best raiders had a horrible first week.

If someone fails their trial, they’re either offered friend rank in the guild, or they’re asked to gquit “at some point in the next couple of days, when it’s convenient”.  It basically depends on how much a part of the guild’s social atmosphere they’ve made themselves.  As a general rule, the ways to fail a trial in Edge are to tunnel vision or firewalk.  Meters aren’t our primary measurement of playskill.

Rumor has it that your raid group does not utilize ready checks. If it’s true, how come?

Ready checks are an opt-in system, and opt-in systems deflect responsibility.  Instead, we make the choice to assume that everyone is at keyboard and ready to play when we’re raiding – when they’re expected to be.  We’ll often be discussing strategy during runbacks, so it’s a bad time to just take off the headset and run AFK anyway.  If someone has to take an emergency break, the onus is on them to inform the raid, and then we wait.  But I don’t see a reason to waste 20 seconds on every pull just to ask if everyone is actually at their keyboard, when I could just be informed that someone isn’t there for the one pull that it’s an issue. 

Ready checks are just one convenient example of a culture of personal accountability, though.  We always try to encourage personal accountability – own your actions and own your mistakes, and respect the time and effort that thirty other people are putting into the game.  Randomly running away from the keyboard is a waste of everyone’s time, so we encourage it to be kept to a minimum as much as possible.  “Opt-in” systems are generally bad, because they discourage accountability.  You opted in by joining the guild in the first place.  The onus should be on individuals where possible, rather than on the raid leadership.

In your opinion, is it possible to be an elite player without being elitist? (As in, extremely skilled without the negative, berating attitude).

A little bit of elitism isn’t always a bad thing.  It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments in WoW.  It’s okay to know that you’re a skilled player.  You can be an elite player, and an elitist, without berating, or being negative.  In some ways, I think the two parts of the question are completely unrelated to each other.

I’ve seen a fair amount of negative attitude and berating from 5k DPS pugs in LFD, complaining about how bad group DPS is, and how everyone sucks.  I’m a fairly good tank, and I’ve never vote-kicked someone from a 5-man in the entire time the system has been around.

Attitude is separate from skill, I think.  Being good at Warcraft does not make you a bad person.

Every guild has its share of stories. Whether they’re humorous or inspiring, there’s usually a lesson associated with it. Do you have one you’re willing to share and something to take away?

On May 31, 2010, one of our raiders announced that his wife was pregnant with their first child.  At the time, we were working on Heroic Lich King (25).  We’d had some very good pulls on the fight, and were nearing a kill – but this raider didn’t know that, because he’d missed a few raid days due to vacation.  One of our resident smartasses suggested that Collider should name his child Arthas, if we killed the Lich King that night.

Collider agreed, and made a solemn promise  that he would do so. The ending of the story is fairly obvious at this point.  We spent the entire three minute RP phase at the tail end of our first H-LK kill tormenting Collider about what his wife was going to do to him when he told her he’d promised to name the baby Arthas – male or female.  We spent the next seven months inquiring solicitously about baby Arthas, guild mascot.
We were unable to convince him to promise to name his second-born Halion.  I guess he learned his lesson.

How do you evaluate underperforming players? Is there a window of opportunity for them to work themselves back in and if not, what eventually happens to them?

The short answer is that underperforming players get a talking to (several, actually) and a chance to shape up.  We’re very very tolerant of people who’ve made it to raider rank.  It takes a lot to get demoted for performance reasons.  It helps that we recruit for a certain self-motivated attitude, and a sense of personal responsibility, I think.  I have never had to demote a raider for performance reasons, in three years.  In a couple of cases, people have demoted themselves, after realizing that they just weren’t willing to make the commitment to keeping up that they used to be. 

I firmly believe that loyalty works both ways – that it HAS to work both ways.  Someone who has demonstrated loyalty to the guild deserves the opportunity to fix things.  That’s the commitment that we make to people in order to earn that loyalty.  The guild stands by it’s membership, and the membership stands by the guild.  

Evaluation is fairly easy, though – ask the healers.  They know who’s taking damage that they shouldn’t, they know who’s using healthstones, and they know who’s healable and who isn’t.  Healchat can always tell you who’s underperforming.  The meters are the last thing anyone should look at to evaluate performance, in my opinion.  You can teach anyone to run a rotation, it’s the easiest thing to fix.  But you can’t teach reaction time, or survival instincts.  Dead DPS does zero DPS – we try not to recruit firewalkers.

If you could say one thing to a player who aspires to start their own raiding guild, what would it be?

I don’t know, I never started a guild.  That’s a terrifying prospect.  A much better idea is to join a raiding guild and somehow have them thrust leadership upon you.  It’s much less work.

More seriously, I would suggest that you figure out your goals and policies in advance and write them down.  You can modify them later, as necessary, but you need to know what your guild exists for, and how you’re going to accomplish those goals.  Are you a hardcore raiding guild?  How many hours a week are you looking to raid?  What ranking are you aiming at, roughly?  What do you need to do to make all those goals happen?  Do some research, have an idea of what you’re getting into.  And above all, have clear goals, and clear policies designed to support that goal.  Everyone who joins the guild will have an idea of what it’s about, and when you make decisions based around the goals and policies everyone will know where they’re coming from.  And when you have to go “off book”, think it through, and be consistent.  Avoid making exceptions, because when you do it once, you’re stuck dealing with exceptions forever.

When raiding, what’s considered a good day? A bad day? When would you call raids early?

There’s a few obvious situations when we’ve called raid early: when all the content is dead.  Or when we’re obviously not going to finish all the content in one night, but would only need an hour or so on the second night, we might finish half an hour early on night one.  We call raids “early” by a minute or two if the next pull would take us overtime, or if a boss dies such that we don’t have time to get a pull on the next boss after clearing trash.  But we don’t ever call raids early for “bad performance” – especially in progression.  Sometimes, pounding your head against something is worth doing, just to know how much it hurts so that people avoid doing it again.

A good day and a bad day entirely depends on context, but for me it’s less about how much we get done than it is about how well we play.  We had nights in T11 where a lot of content got cleared, but it still felt like an awful night, where the raid wasn’t focused, and there was a lot of “phone it in” play.  We had nights where bosses just wouldn’t seem to die that were fairly good nights overall.  I’m a happy raid leader when my raid is awake and paying attention and engaged, and I’m an unhappy raid leader when the converse is true.

Thanks again Mel!

This Week on Plus Heal: July 20

This Week on Plus Heal: July 20

General Discussion and Leadership

Evaluating if Healers are Ready for Tier 12
Why do you have more than one Healer?
Mana Regen – How much is too much?

Druid

Haste vs Mastery

Paladin

Itemization Discussion

Priest

Holy Priest Raiding Guide
Holy – Still Effective?

Shaman

Not a lot of Shaman news around PlusHeal this week, but a discussion on the balance controversy is definitely in order!

Moonwell Chalice Discussions

(Priest) Moonwell Chalice
(Shaman) Moonwell Chalice

Want to discuss or leave feedback on the Matticast? Visit the Matticast forums!

Interested in linking to PlusHeal from your Website, Blog, Forum?

Feel Free to use any of these images to do so!

A special thanks to community member Eressea for creating these awesome graphics for us!

How to Lose 14 Players in One Night

It took the guild 3 years, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I just lost over 14 players from my raiding roster.

It started out as a simple personnel disagreement. There was a quiet debate raging within me for some time. On the one hand, I understand the strains of progression raiding and the impact it can make to a roster especially on the drive to having flawless raid nights. We all want a mistake-free raid group with players who can ace every obstacle thrown at them.

But does that mean putting up with personalities you don’t agree with all the time? The game was getting to the point where it was no longer fun for me.

Actually, scratch that. The game itself was fine. The managing social dynamics and personalities aspect made the game not fun. All I ever wanted to do was kill internet dragons, with friends or otherwise. One of the policies I even had in place for players was that they weren’t required to be friends with everyone. They didn’t have to go to the bar with them or anything. Over time, however, I began to wonder if that was a standard I could hold to myself. I realized that I had a very difficult time doing that because of all the added responsibilities and inter-personal problems that I had to deal with as part of my rank. As a player, in contrast to being an officer or guild leader, the only person you really need to be cool with is the GM. If the GM isn’t cool with you, then there’s no point in being there. This goes hand in hand with the chemistry clause – The right for applicants to be rejected because they don’t “fit” with the guild.

Competence and likeability are not mutually exclusive. The players I’m looking for have both. But it seems that the higher the skill level you go, the more disrespectful people become. Why? I can’t help but wonder if it’s because they believe their skills can give them an excuse to act however they want and get away with it. I don’t want to deal with that. If a player is skilled but not likeable, I’ll end up showing them the door. If a player is likeable but not skilled, eventually a newer player will work their way in and take their spot. That’s just how it is going to be.

Respect the chain of command

For any budding officers out there, this is the most important rule. If you bring up an idea, any GM worth their salt will at least hear you out and weigh all the negatives and positives associated with it. It’s up to you to sell your perspective. But once the decision from the top is made, that’s that. There is no higher authority to appeal to. You’ll have a hard time finding a GM who says otherwise. Do not try to circumvent it even if you know every fibre of your being says it is the right or wrong thing to do. The only thing you can do is look inside yourself and decide if it’s worth leaving over. That choice is absolutely yours to exercise. There’s no contract obligations that force you to stay in a guild.

In this particular case, cliques were cliques. When it comes to social groups like this, nothing’s going to stop people from playing with who they want. Trying to would just cause a social group to leave and create their own guild. This was a scenario I actually had in my mind as a realistic possibility. I don’t take kindly to ultimatums or threats of leaving at all. Given the option between killing internet dragons with people I’ve shared beers and had a good time with versus players who are willing to throw other people under a bus at a whim, I’d rather shoot for the former. I absolutely love raiding but not at the cost of my own mental health. Leading a guild isn’t easy at all when it comes to executive level decision making.

I still maintain that is perfectly possible to raid in a progressive raiding environment with people who you enjoy playing with. I see it in other guilds all the time. It’s my ongoing goal to reach that state, current drama aside. The only thing I can do is look forward and exercise my recruiting skills. And what an opportunity!

The thing about hindsight is that it always occurs after the events. I wish I had gone on offense sooner and made earlier changes. I don’t know if that would have offset the events, but it means I would have been forced to start the rebuild earlier. You always think and second guess to yourself wondering if that was the right thing to do. Or if there was another alternative solution or another way. I can’t answer that because I don’t know. I felt I offered enough of a compromise by allowing a player to stick around in the guild and idle on our Mumble servers even if they weren’t in our raid team any no longer. But that’s not enough.

Regardless, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I know for a fact we’ll be fine. 9 out of 10 rebuild guilds don’t actually make it and I have zero intention of being a statistic.

I also may have made up said previous statistic.

My options

  • Do 10 mans
  • Look for another guild
  • Quit the game
  • Rebuild us back to even strength

10 mans are okay. I could go look for another guild. I could just retire from the game and step down from blogging and writing on WoW Insider.

Or I can pick my ass up off the floor, dust myself off and get back to work. I challenge you to find a GM more determined than myself. Am I saddened? Yeah, a little. Do I feel that I can recover? Oh, you bet I will. This is a great opportunity!

That being said, Conquest is open for business. Firelands 25 man raiding only and we’re presently 6/7. We’re looking for all players in any position. I think we’re stacked on Resto Shamans though. I have almost no melee DPS remaining so I’ll be entertaining Rogues, Warriors, DKs, Enhancement Shamans. Hunters, I have many of. But at this point I just need bodies. I’m interested in any caster classes. I’m also looking for hybrid specced tanks who can double as DPS (a main tank and an off tank position).

Join now

If you have any questions or want to discuss a few things beforehand, feel free to get in touch with me or Lodur anytime.

How to Move and Heal

Do you know what one of the leading causes of tank death are?

Healers not being in range.

The other cause is not enough healing (ba-dum-tsch).

Whenever I jump into pickup raids or heroics as a DPS player, I am stunned at the inability of players to move and heal. This is an absolutely essential skill to have no matter what kind of healing class you play. We’ll go over a few tips to help get your confidence up to the point where you can effortlessly heal on the go. There aren’t any big secrets or special techniques. Much of it comes with foresight and experience.

Use your instant spells

HoTs, Renews, Shields, Ripties, Holy Shocks, and even Circle of Healing (Inefficient as it may be)! The moment they’re on the run, you need to be able to keep up with them. In most cases, you do not have to keep them at full health when they’re on the move. You just need to keep them alive with a nice margin of health. Instant spells are enough. Once they stop moving, start bomb healing them back to a comfortable level.

Hustle!

Body and Soul yourself. Switch to cat form. Ghost Wolf it. If you need to haul ass and you have a way of speeding up your movement, do it! Stop what you’re doing and move it!

Plan accordingly

Movement phases during raids can usually be planned in advanced. In the Lord Rhyolith encounter, tanks have to haul the ads from the middle of the room to the exterior. In Beth’tilac, large drones are manhandled to a preset location at the back of the room. If you know the rough location where the tank will be at, you can position yourself closer to that point to minimize your movement.

Leapfrog it

You move. Then they move. Then you move. Then they move. During Shannox, I’ll drop a Barrier on the tank and start moving in a pre-arranged direction. Once the Barrier falls off, they start coming towards me. We keep repeating this pattern where both the tank and the healer alternately move until we get to where we want to go.

Stand closer to them

Many of us have been trained to stay as far as possible away from a boss as DPS players to avoid different attacks or things on the ground. As a healer, being at max range can be a liability. The moment your tank moves the other way, you’re stuck playing catchup. Don’t be afraid of closing within 20-30 yards. This gives you additional flexibility and freedom for the tank.

Use your cooldowns

Even if they’re not taking large amounts of damage, a Pain Suppression of sorts can do wonders. If the tank needs to move, consider using a raid wide one like Divine Hymn or Tranquility. It’s like using a shotgun on a cockroach. It’s overkill, but it works. Wouldn’t recommend this unless you absolutely had no outs.

Have healers at different areas

If the tank is going in a predictable circle from point A to point B, have a healer at each point. The moment the tank comes into range of one of the healers, they’ll be under their responsibility. Don’t be afraid to call for help. If you can’t reach your main tank, say so. Hopefully there’s a healer nearby who will see the tank light up on their raid frames and switch to them until you’re back in range again.

Being vocal

Don’t be afraid to say things like “Stop moving” directly to your tank. If they can’t stop, at least they recognize that they’re on their own for a few seconds before you’re back in range of them. Work with them beforehand and arrange what will happen if the two of you aren’t in range of each other. Your tank can use that as a cue to use a potion or a Last Stand.

If you want some additional practice, step into some battlegrounds and participate in some PvP healing. Now it’s your turn. What other techniques would you suggest for healers on the go? Have any lessons or stories relating to healing and movement?

7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Guild Application Form

Application forms can be a little daunting for the first time guild leader. What’re the right questions to ask? What if it’s too long? What answers are considered “right”? Over at Enjin, I’ve written a quick guide on how to get started. Don’t expect your application form to be final. But I hope this’ll put you on the right track.

And yes, I am familiar that some organizations have done away with forms entirely. I also know that some players absolutely refuse to apply and scoff at guilds who suggest filling out a form. “I’m not applying for a job!”. They’re right, it’s not a job. I look at it more as a binding commitment.

Anyway, back to the tips. Here’s one that should be included.

Requirements overview

I’ve seen guilds place their entire policies and rules on the same page as the application. I don’t advise doing this. Place a link that leads to it and then include a summary list of all the important rules. Include only what players absolutely need. Some of the common ones I’ve seen are:

  • Working headset and microphone
  • Minimum gear standard for MMO guilds
  • Minimum kill to death ratio for FPS clans
  • Positive and forward-thinking attitude
  • A regular schedule of events (More on this below)

Read more on Enjin

GMs Talk: Things We Share, Things We Do Not

GMs Talk: Things We Share, Things We Do Not

© Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

<Apotheosis> must be sick of me whenever I pop into their mumble late at night. That’s Kurn’s guild. Every so often I like to drop in there and have a chat with another GM (who doubles as a blogger herself). Not too many of us around, I’m afraid. She doesn’t know this, but she plays a big part in making sure I remain grounded. When it comes to guild matters, there are certain unspoken rules even among the company of those similar to us. There are topics that we’ll talk about and others that we do not ever, ever discuss. It’s the equivalent of talking shop with others in the trade.

Stuff That’s Fair game

War stories

“And he’s slowly backing up pulling Arthas with him and then falls over the ledge! He just starts screaming over vent, Taunt! TAUNT! I fell off the ledge!”

Everyone loves a good war story. Hilarious events or tales of awesome heroics (that may or may not have been slightly embellished). It’s even funnier if it’s a player that both GMs are familiar with. Typically, whenever war stories are exchanged, there’s usually an important lesson that can be learned and applied. Both leaders walk away knowing more about how to avoid similar situations in the future. The exchange of knowledge means that only one of us would have to experience an event. We’ll then share it with our GM friends in the hopes that they can recognize the symptoms of a problem before it occurs.

In this case, like not tanking Lich King so close to an edge.

Policy

Anytime I’ve wanted to make sweeping policies that affected the guild or the raid, I’d try to consult with someone outside. I search for someone who’s familiar with a similar issue. Even better if the guild leader successfully implemented a policy in the first place. I also to try to get in touch with someone who wanted to put a policy in place but ultimately didn’t and listen to their point of view as well. An outside perspective can shed a spotlight on additional factors that weren’t taken under consideration. I listen to what worked well and what didn’t. Maybe some changes or adjustments were made after the fact to help smooth the transition over.

Speaking of which, I need a consult about whether or not I should implement a policy dictating that all raiders show up with pants worn at all times.

Strategy

This is another reason why I’ll consult with another GM. Sometimes we’ll run into a brick wall when we’re working on an encounter and I like to turn to other people outside who have done the boss. Oftentimes they can offer a little insight into a possible solution. Not everyone’s raid composition is exactly the same. But with strategy changes, you can usually account for that by getting a different class to try and do the same thing. Sometimes it’s a simple solution like moving the raid over slightly or altering the timing! Asking a “How did your guild handle this obstacle?” can sometimes lead to light bulb illuminating moments.

Evaluation techniques

Determining player performance is never going to go away in progression raiding guilds. We’re always looking for methods where we can excel and find tune the players under our raiding core. If a GM happens to be an expert at a class, it’s not a bad idea to pick their brain a bit and find out what they look for when gauging the effectiveness of players.

Stuff That’s Off limits

Current damaging drama

Any active, dramatic issues are kept off the table. I don’t like discussing things like ultimatums, problems or people just giving me a hard time without making certain things really vague. If the guild is going through a really rough time, a lid’s kept on it. However, if a problematic issue has been resolved and passed, I’ll classify it under the war stories category.

Exception: If it really does get to a breaking point, and every option had been considered, I’d probably shoot some ideas and get someone to play devil’s advocate and see if there’s a possible solution that was missed or we walkthrough scenarios of what would possibly happen. Sometimes it isn’t possible to do that within the guild.

Names

I tend to obscure names unless it’s someone well known to the community. If I’m describing a situation, I tend to go with the class or the role.

Example: I think Lodur’s moustache is compromising his ability to heal.  Or worst yet, he’s using the moustache to heal.

Applicants

I’ve had players who leave Conquest apply to guilds of other bloggers and vice versa. As a personal rule, I never bring them up at all. As far as I’m concerned, the business is always between the recruit and the guild they applied to. I don’t ever ask about their application nor would I ever meddle in any guild’s affairs. I have a hard enough time running my guild and it’s not my place nor interest to run someone else’s.

Exception: However, if the player who applied did something particularly heinous like break into the guild bank or exploited in game, I believe it’s the duty of the former GM to relay the necessary information and then let them deal with it how they see fit.

Code 21

We never, ever talk about code 21 unless it’s under extreme circumstances. Sorry guys, it’s a GM thing.

And there you have it folks! If you’ve ever wondered what goes in the GM’s lounge, I can assure you that there’s no plot to take over the world or to gkick everyone from the guild. It’s mostly business and nothing to be worried about!

Matticast Episode 25 – Firelands Class Review, Retiring, and Off-Beat Strats

On Episode 25 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Firelands Class review

- Retiring Guildies

- Off-Beat Strats

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics, visit the PlusHeal Forums, or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunes | RSS

 

Play

[POLL] Do you dip your pizza in ranch sauce?

This continues to be a point of contention within my guild and among the community. There are two distinct groups of players out there: Those who dip their pizza in ranch and those who don’t.

Well, how about it? What do you think?

Which site hosting does your guild use?

View Results

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The Mall Test

The Mall Test

Depending on your personality, the mall can be a fascinating place or a suffocating nightmare. Some people go weekly, some go monthly and some rarely ever go.

Now if you’re an officer or a GM, picture this for a moment. You’re strolling through the mall with your significant other. You pass by a shoe store and maybe you’re staring longingly at the pair of Nikes on display (which also happen to be on sale)! You tilt your head in a fashion similar to Abed from Community because you hear a familiar voice. You turn around only to see that it is your guildmate! He’s at the other side of the store eyeing some golf clubs. They haven’t seen you yet.

Do you:

  1. Head over there and say “Hey, how’s it going?”
  2. Decide to say something only if they spot you first.
  3. Hurriedly exit the store and go somewhere else

If the recruit doesn’t elicit anything other than option 1, it might be worth passing over. First impressions always make a big difference. Mentally run over the players around you and think which option you would go with. Things like skill and competence can be improved but I’ve discovered personality can be difficult to adjust. Not every guild can be in a position where they can pick and choose players with ease. But don’t hesitate to run the mall test every few months or so to see if anyone has changed on your list.

It’s a great technique I picked up from Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check.

Circle of Healing: Lodur version 4.2

Matt beat me too it, but I too felt it was about time to do one of these again.  A while ago, the circle of healing was started as a way of members of the community to share information about themselves will everyone else in the blog-o-sphere. It has been so long, in fact, that many updates and an expansion have come along since I last filled this out! So, I guess it’s time for an update, as many things have in fact changed for me. For example, I’m no longer on Zul’jin, instead now I’m on Ner’Zhul.

Name, class and spec: [A] Lodur, Restoration Shaman (Ner’zhul)

What is your primary group healing environment? 25 man progression raiding

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

If I had to pick one it would have to be Spirit Link Totem. If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve had a love affair with this spell since it was first conceptualized in the beta for Wrath of the Lich King. I’ve fawned over it, lamented it’s removal from the game, and celebrated (actually through a party IRL) the re-integration of this amazing spell back into our arsenal in Cataclsym. I’ve been finding new ways to use it and ways to combine it with other spells like Rallying Cry and Power Word: Barrier in various encounters for new and awesome results. I think though, that it really is my favorite not because of it’s versatility, but because I have been crusading for the spell to be brought back since it was removed. Funnily enough, putting it from a spell we cast into a totem to add a limitation to it was one of the very first things I ever fired off towards Blizzard years ago. I love me some totems.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

If you asked me in the last tier of content I would have said Greater Healing Wave. Now though, I honestly don’t know. Every spell we have has a place in each encounter. It’s not like we have a huge toolkit (though it has been expanded over the years). If I had to just pick a spell that is classified under healing but I never use, it would probably be Totem of Tranquil Mind. It’s a water totem, water is the shaman element of healing, therefore I classify it as a healing spell. I just never use the damn thing. Compared to Mana Spring Totem or Healing Stream Totem, it’s just always outclassed. Honestly, give me back my damn Sentry Totem! At least I used that.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Versatility. Shaman are capable of going from single target healing to group healing without really having to worry about switching gear or stats. While some stats are preferable for each role, we are capable of swapping on the fly and that lends us a certain strength. Combine that with a new defensive cooldown that cuts through healing reducing effects and well, we’re just one awesome healing class.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Unlike other classes our mastery is good/bad in a cycle. Beginning of a tier, or at the start of hardmodes, shaman mastery is a champ. After that however, it sort of becomes the redheaded stepchild in lieu of throughput stats like haste and crit. Other classes benefit from their masteries pretty much all the time, where ours only really gets the lime light if someone messes up and takes a ton of damage, or the raid as a whole is failing. It actually gets worse as players skill and gear improve. What’s up with that?

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Raid healing. I’m a roll healer by desire, I love placing Healing Rains, rolling Riptide and Chain Heal and keeping up as many people as I can through some ridiculous damage. I do well at it and I enjoy it. I also think I excel at special assignment healing, such as healing the kiting team for heroic Magmaw, that was just a blast.

Which healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Toss up between Druid and Priest. There’s a lot of synergy there between the way druids and shaman heal together, as well as both flavors of priest. Hymns, barrier, Tranquility and crazy HoTs, they all seem to compliment shaman healing quite well.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Paladins, for the pure petty reason that they stole my Healing Stream mechanic! no honestly its just because of the difference in healing styles. I have a hard time working around paladins most of the time because they just feel like a brute force healing class where as the others feel more delicate or graceful.  No offense to any paladins out there, I know they are exciting to play, I just can’t get the image of a paladin busting his holy book over someone’s head while screaming “BE HEALED BY THE LIGHT” out of my mind.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

My worst habit? That’s a tough one. If I had to pick one it would be stopping healing on a wipe. I just can’t do it. I reflexively continue to heal until it finally clicks in my brain “oh, wait, wipe. Stop healing now!”. Partially this stems from a raid I was in years ago where the Raid Leader called a wipe and I told healers to keep going. We healed through a metric ton of damage and actually beat the boss. It was something that kind of defines me. Till the very last, I’m on the front lines healing your dudes. Whether it’s called for or not >.>

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

Matt said it, and I’m going to echo it. Getting blamed for healing problems when it’s not a healing problem. There seems to be this mindset, recently even more so than before, that any problem can be solved by obtaining better healers. Sure, sometimes the healers are messing up or need to tighten up, but rarely is it actually a bad healer.  Too often are healers judged purely on meters and raw numbers. Sure World of Logs analysis plays a part in evaluating a healers performance, but unlike DPS being the top of the charts in healing isn’t always a good thing. There are always different factors to consider such as the fight, healing assignment , class of the healer as well as the healing team in the raid. Everyone is quick to blame healers, when DPS standing in the wrong spot can cause a wipe just as much as low healing.

I’ve been healing a long time. I’ve been writing here, my own blog and at WoW Insider now for quite sometime. I got to these places as a healer trying to explain healing to other healers. That’s tough enough some days, but try explaining it to non healers sometime. That’s a brick wall that’s hard to crack most of the time.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Yes. Shaman were used as the “model for healing” this expansion, so we’ve always been a viable class / spec. Even when our numbers weren’t perfect we were still doing well. Now with recent adjustments we’re right about where we need to be and I think we are pretty well balanced.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer

To evaluate my own performance I’ll go through World of Logs and check to make sure my spell usage is consistent with the encounter and my assignment in the encounter. If it is not, then that’s usually my cue to change what I’m doing.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

Honestly, I’m kind of tired of hearing the phrase “shaman can’t heal this”. I have yet to fail in any healing assignment. Just because I don’t top the meter doesn’t mean I can’t heal something. All the classes are capable of all the healing roles. True some may be better than others, but nothing quite gets under my skin like the statement that I CAN’T heal something because I’m a shaman.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Getting rid of healer tunnel vision. New healers are rarely aware of their own health totals, and you can usually tell how long a healer has been healing by how quickly they react to incoming damage. Whether it’s healing themselves or blowing a cooldown to survive it tends to be a tell-tale sign. That habit is hard to kick, and it’s because of that I love any addon that lets you put your own health in an easily visible place, or ones like GTFO which audibly alerts you to incoming damage or spell effects.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see?

That I tend to pace my healing for long fights. I’m a long sight healer. I try to make sure I’m using the most cost effective heal for the job. So my throughput might not be as high as some of the other healers in the group, but I make sure I have mana to continuously heal through a fight, unlike a certain dwarf priest. Also that I cast Lightning Bolt quite a bit!

Haste or Crit and why?

The new 4.2 crit giving 200% healing is nice, but I’ll still pick haste first every time. Haste is just so good when it comes to pumping out the healing, and getting to each haste plateau does nothing but improve my healing and help increase the effectiveness I bring to a raid. That’s right folks, I’m a haste junkie!

What addons or macros do you use to aid you in healing?

Aside from a focus macro for Earth Shield and ones to keep me from casting Heroism or Mana Tide when not in combat, the only really healer centric thing I use for myself is Grid. I have it completely configured to show me exactly what I need to know for every member of the raid.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others and why?

I try to hit the haste caps (916 and now 2005) and then after that I maintain balance between my primary healing stats. Haste just gives me so much more throughput on pretty much everything that I can’t ignore it.  I then adjust the rest of my stats according to the tier of content or fight, but generally try to maintain a balance.

That’s it for me on this circle of healing patch 4.2 edition. Normally I would tag individuals, but instead I’m going to tag the entire restoration shaman community as well as anyone who follows me on twitter, or on google +. This also goes for any of the readers out there with blogs of their own! Consider yourselves tapped for this Circle of healing, and I completely expect posts from you guys!