Interview: Blacksen

I conducted this interview about two weeks ago with Blacksen of Blacksen’s End. He is both a GM and a blogger. I picked up several neat ideas as we discussed the raiding environment and guild management tips.

Hey Blacksen, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and answer a few questions. I understand you’re a guild leader yourself. Could you tell me more about you, your guild and how that organization came about?

Back in early December 2009, a few of my RL friends (Faux, Rissara, Krisys, and Dez) and I transferred to Zul’jin with the intent of PvP’ing together. After reading more about rated battlegrounds, we decided to start a guild doing battlegrounds on Sunday/Monday and raiding on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.

We knew from the beginning that our primary guild value would be performance. All of us were excellent gamers who wanted to excel in the content given. Recruitment was kicked into overdrive over the Holidays and our first 25man raid was January 4th.

It’s funny to look back on it all since we specifically told people in our February, March, and April interviews that “we are not a server first guild. We can’t get server firsts raiding 3 nights per week on a very competitive PvE realm.” Now, we’re recruiting and driving for national competition while staying on our limited schedule. We’re the #3 3 night/wk guild in the United States, behind Surprise Mutiny and Arathian Knights. We’re hoping to become #1 with Cataclysm.

Over the past few months, we’ve actually split the guild into two separate “teams” under the same guild tag. I’m the main coordinator of Critical, our PvE progression team. One of my officers, Faux, is the main coordinator of Vital, our Rated Battlegrounds team. We want both teams to be able to compete at a national level while still accruing the same guild achievement, experience, and reputation benefits. This system allows the two teams to achieve that while operating completely independently.

As a guild leader myself, I’m always interested in learning about the management techniques of other guilds. Have any trade secrets?

There are a few things we learned pretty early on that helped us out, the first of which was making value-based recruitment decisions. We told people that we valued performance above everything else, and we accepted anyone who came to us saying “I also value performance.” We accepted several undergeared and underqualified applicants simply because they said “I know I’m a good player” – Toragon, Annaleise, and Anosh, to name a few.

Another thing we learned was how to specialize the trade chat macro. I still have a few examples:

  • A horse walked into a bar and the bartender asked “Why the long face” and the horse said “Because I’m not in Imperative.” Imperative is recruiting! Join now!
  • You can pwn if you wanna. You can leave your guild behind. Cus your guild don’t pwn and if it don’t pwn then it ain’t no guild of mine. Imperative is recruiting!
  • Just a city dwarf, born n’ raised in south IF! He took the midnight train going to Imperative, with a light raid schedule and 8/12 in ICC-25! Spots open, join now!
  • Apolo Ohno? More like Apollo Fail-o! Why? Because he’s not in Imperative.

These macros were essentially designed to grab attention. Most people just completely zone-out when it comes to advertisements in real life, and trade-chat advertisements are no different. These macros were designed purely to get people talking about our guild and what we were about.

Another successful idea that we implemented were guild meetings. We hold an officer meeting at the end of every raid week to discuss recruitment, member concerns, and anything else that we want. In addition, we also hold a guild meeting on the last Monday of each month. Our guild meetings serve as a reminder to individual players that we’re focused on both short-term and long-term goals. It’s easy for a lot of guilds to get so wrapped up in each progression cycle, so we created our guild meetings to reinforce long-term guild goals.

One final policy is officer chat. Anyone in the guild can talk in officer chat at any time, but only officers can read officer chat. At first, this might seem a bit strange – members type something in /o but they can’t even see their own message. Overall, it has provided an excellent flow of information. It allows members to talk to all officers simultaneously without pulling us aside. If a member has a problem with another member, an emergency afk, a strategy suggestion, or anything else that officers should be aware of, they can simply say something in officer chat. This policy ensures that some officer will see it and that all officers are aware of it, rather than just the “favorite officer.”

With regards to Cataclysm, how is your guild preparing for the expansion in the opening weeks?

We’re going to take it easy. We’ve set out first “official” 25man raid for January 4th. Between Cataclysm’s release and that date, we’ve set out some expectations for our members such as 40 heroics minimum completed, all of the good gems/enchants (including reputation ones), tradeskills high enough to incur personal raiding benefits, and strong familiarity with your class mechanics and all introductory fights. However, I’m sure we’ll end up doing some 10man raiding to start getting familiar with the fights. We might end up raiding on December 21st.

Right now, Cataclysm is looking like you cannot “skip over” heroic dungeons. WotLK had players walking into Naxxaramas with essentially quest greens, and the raid instance itself was extremely easy. Blizzard seems to be overcorrecting for that mistake, making most of the introductory encounters complete gear checks.

Our rated Battlegrounds team, Vital, is likely starting December 18th or 19th. We now know that it will be a 15v15 weekend, and we’re all very excited to dive headfirst into the competition. It’ll be interesting to see what teams show up that early and how the season scales with resilience.

How do you utilize your guild bank? How are the resources being used?

Right now, the guild bank pays for all repairs during raiding hours and provides fish feasts for all raiders. We’ve accumulated a static 225k to “sit on” going into Cataclysm. Anything over 225k is split among all active raiders at the end of the month. We sell Light of Dawn for 40k each week to two players, in addition to selling heroic run-throughs and gear.

We’re hoping to be able to provide Flask Cauldrons, but, with the changes to 10 and 25man raiding, that may not be sustainable. With the merger of 10man and 25man lockouts, it’s become difficult to sell both gear and raid spots. However, the guild leveling “perks” that deposit gold into the guild bank in addition to BoE items might transfer things over.

About raiding

Let’s talk about your raid environment for a moment. I’ve heard from a variety of raiders at upper levels that a top 100 guild is different from a top 50 guild which is different from a top 20 guild (and a top 10 guild). Do you know what I mean? Do you think you can explain that a bit? What kind of mindset or mental state is the raid in when on a progression run?

I think the main thing that varies is the collective view of the most brutal progression fights. For the most part, we were nowhere close to competing for US until we seriously pushed heroic Lich King. In fact, we spent the entire month of January competing to get on the front page of WoWProgress on Zul’jin. When we got out first heroic Sindragosa and Putricide kills, we were just under the “top 250” cutoff. We were a guild that was 4/12 heroic until the next zone-wide buff, and we’d jump 4 more bosses.

We raid three nights per week and strictly adhere to our schedule. We’ve never raided past 12:20am and never raided on a non-raid night. Most of us felt that, with 10 hours of raiding each week, things like server firsts were beyond us. We told people in interviews up front that we likely wouldn’t be getting server firsts just due to time constraints.

Our mindset changed drastically at heroic Lich King. When we learned that other guilds on the server were making limited progress, we saw an opportunity to actually seize a server first. Our raid environment went from joking-fun raiding to semi-serious and professional attitudes. Whenever the officers elected not to attempt heroic Lich King, people became extremely agitated.

There are a lot of different “modes” that raids can enter when pushing progression. There’s an “unfocused” mode where people crack up at Shadow Trap wipes. There’s a “bad luck” mode where people start feeling that elements are out of the raid’s control (disconnects, for example). There’s “rapid fire” mode where you’re literally just throwing bodies at the boss and trying to get as many attempts as you can (Quedar hates this mode. I love it). These modes are all fairly detrimental, but all difficult to control. It’s hard to make sure that people are both focused and having a good time. The worst thing that I can ever hear as a raid leader is one of my officers saying “this is miserable” – you’ve gotta keep morale up.
The one thing that all top-level guilds have in common is the high emphasis placed on performance. I’ve been playing WoW for over 4 years, and I know how challenging it can be to be an awesome player surrounded by bad ones in a terrible guild. So, in case there is any doubt, there are guilds out there where everyone is an excellent player and no one is getting carried. You just need to find them.

Can you summarize the recruiting process after the initial application? You probably have a trial portion of some sort. What does that involve? What happens when a raider passes it? What happens when they fail?

Once you submit an application, you’ll get assigned a unique application ID number that gives you and only you access to your application. The application also gets posted on our private forums so that members can post questions and comments for the applicant to see. I firmly believe that all applications should be private for both the applicant and guild, but I also wanted applicants to be able to engage in a dialogue about their application – this system allows them to do that.

After you submit an application, we usually get comments posted about it within 18-24 hours. If we like your application, you’ll get flagged for an “interview” by one of our officers. Interviews, for us, usually consist of no questions. Instead, we just lay out how we operate and what our expectations are. It’s then the burden of the applicant to evaluate themselves and critically analyze if they can meet our expectations. Nearly every applicant who gets to the interview stage is accepted.

We don’t have any “initiate” or “trial” status. Once you’re in, you’re in. You’re held to the same expectations as every other member. We do not allow “I’m new” as an excuse for poor performance. We expect everyone to get things correct on their first try, even if they’ve never seen it before.

What type of players are you looking for when you’re recruiting? Are there any specific or shared traits among the players in your raid group?
Simply put, we recruit “skilled players.” If anything, the past year has proven to us that skill drives progression – not time input. We want players who are world-class record setters and don’t need to make mistakes in order to learn the lessons.

However, there are several other elements that go into our ideal applicant. Applicants for either team are expected to be team players. We frequently call upon individuals to set aside their personal goals for a larger team goal. We had three rogues and three hunters when pushing heroic Lich King, but we only brought one rogue and one hunter due to their weak classes. In the 10-weeks prior to heroic Lich King, we received 40 heroic tier tokens in which every single one went to a DPS. We asked our healers to set aside their personal healing goals so that we could gear for the fight (heroic Lich King being a pure DPS race).

To screen for team players, we usually look at guild history. Players who are essentially “guild hoppers” usually hop whenever asked to set aside some personal goal, while players who’ve been in a single guild for 6 months or more have inevitably been asked to do something they didn’t want to do, but did it anyway for the team.

Another strong element is cultural “fit.” Imperative’s culture largely emanates a feeling of “professional college gamers.” 90% of the guild is between ages 20 and 25, and 96% of the guild either already has or is currently pursuing a 4-year Bachelor’s degree. Culturally, the majority of our members are extremely professional – no one would greet their friends like “gangstaz”. We want players who fit well with our raid environment. To do that, you need to be a generally nice person who doesn’t screw around in raids and enjoys being around other people. In the past, we removed two main tanks for extreme personality clashes (and generally being assholes).

What immediately happens after a wipe? What is the leadership approach to players who aren’t “getting it”?

Immediately after any wipe, every officer writes down what they interpreted as the cause of the wipe in addition to any mistakes that were made in the previous attempt. This data is then compiled later in our officer forums for analysis. We then explain what we interpreted as the cause of the wipe and what we need to do to improve.

If individual players just “aren’t getting it,” their raid spot will immediately be called into question in both the short-term and long-term. If someone is simply having an off-night, they’ll get replaced for the remainder of the evening. However, if someone is sincerely struggling at learning an individual boss mechanic, their long-term raid spot will also be questioned (sometimes publicly).

We are a guild of rising standards, and, to us, WoW is an easy game. At one point in time, we recruited based on the ability to run out of normal-mode Sindragosa’s Icy Grip. We later (much later) recruited off the ability to down heroic Lich King and heroic Halion. For the past two months, we’ve been recruiting off the ability to farm heroic Lich King. When Cataclysm hits, we expect all of our members to rapidly learn and perfect fight execution. With each fight, there’s a new performance standard set. If they fall significantly behind, we’ll open recruitment for someone who can meet the new standards.

Rumor has it you instituted a “bottom 3” policy at some point in time. What was that about?

The “bottom 3” policy was in effect until September earlier this year. Essentially, the policy states that we’re always seeking to replace the “bottom 3” players in the guild. At the end of each week, officers meet to discuss who were the three least skilled players in the guild. We then inform those three that they were in the bottom 3, and, if they do not significantly improve, we recruit over them. Being in the bottom 3 also removes all loot privileges until we see an improvement. When it comes time to critically analyze an individual raid spot, we look at how often that player appears in the bottom 3 and if we believe their performance level can change. Once we receive an application from someone that we are convinced is better than someone in our bottom 3, we replace them. Once that recruit proves to be actually better than the player in the bottom 3, we remove the player.

At first glance, it sounds brutally harsh, but it has proved extremely effective for us in the past. First, it’s worth noting that no one who was meeting raid standards has ever appeared in the bottom 3. Second, it’s generally hard to “convince us that you’re better.” We need to see long-term attendance levels and performance levels that are better than our current players. One single raid-night parse doesn’t cut it here.
Finally, the policy doesn’t really do anything different than most other raiding guilds. Most guilds look to replace their weaker players with stronger players, and the weakest players tend to get more urgency attached onto them. It’s nothing new to say that we “remove our bad players.” The bottom-3 policy forced us to focus on only 3 bad players rather than a potential 10 that were on our roster early on.
What type of loot distribution system do you run and what was the thought process that led you to it?

Ironically, I was a DKP-addict throughout all of Burning Crusade. I spent countless hours trying to create the perfect system that would give the correct incentives for showing up and performing. It wasn’t until I joined Aftermath on Lightning’s Blade that I was enlightened to the brilliance of loot council. Aftermath had a perfect loot council that made decisions purely based on progression and performance. To them, gear was a means to an end. When starting Imperative, I attempted to copy several of their policies.

Early on, loot council made sense for us. We wanted to ensure that our best players got all the gear they wanted, while our weakest players got absolutely no gear at all. Point-based systems tend to over-emphasize attendance and downplay performance, so they weren’t an option.
Loot council is the optimal form of loot distribution at high-end progression raiding. For us, “fairness” is completely irrelevant. Gear is allocated purely for whatever is going to get us the most progression the fastest. As mentioned earlier, the 40 tier tokens that dropped prior to downing heroic Lich King went to DPS’ers. Stronger AoE classes were given preference on the tokens over weaker AoE classes. We were gearing to down heroic Lich King, not to be “fair.”

Now, I consider myself an expert in loot councils. I’m the author of the #1 Loot Council mod, LootCouncil_Lite. The mod gives loot councils a solid voting interface with the ability to quickly compare upgrade sizes. It has become a critical part of our loot council procedures.

*Edit: I personally use Loot Council Lite and I love it.

What you did for the red shirt guy was touching. What made you decide to offer that gesture? How did the rest of your guild take it?

After BlizzCon and reading the horrific comments on the forums and YouTube, I went to track down the red shirt guy. After learning his identity, we extended him the offer to come to a 12/12 heroic clear, getting all gear that he could use including heroic tier tokens and Lich King weapons.
We felt that, out of everyone in the United States, he would get the most enjoyment being a part of the most epic battle that has ever been made within any MMO. He genuinely appreciated the meaning and lore behind Invincible – it wasn’t just a “cool mount” to ride around. A lot of people have tried to make him feel bad or feel like a nerd, so we thought he should get the gear to feel totally badass.

We did not reveal the identity of the red shirt guy until after the raid, so most had no idea what was going on. We didn’t want him being harassed by individuals in the guild or on the server. We instead told the guild that I had a “personal friend” transferring over, and that he would get any and all gear that he wanted during our 12/12 heroic Icecrown clear. He walked out with two heroic Tier Tokens, the heroic Deathwhisperer dagger, the heroic Lich King axe, and a few other pieces.

Most notably, we gave the red shirt guy Invincible. One of my officers (Faux) won the roll and elected to give it to him, sacrificing his vanity item eligibility for a few months. After revealing his identity, a few members outright didn’t believe us and were a little disgruntled that we gave Invincible to “some friend of Blacksen.” After the red shirt guy made the YouTube video, however, everyone was happy and warm inside.

About the blogs

What’s Blacksen.com about? Are there any projects you’re apart of?

Blacksen.com is about a wide range of topics, from guild and raid leadership to zone critiques to game design suggestions. I originally started it as a feeble attempt to improve my chances of getting into the gaming industry. Once I really got going and Imperative started making significant long-term progress, blogging became more of an hobby.

The majority of the blog focuses on guild and raid leadership within World of Warcraft, but there are a few other things I’ve tossed in. A lot of my guildmates have recently become enthralled with League of Legends, so I’ve written a couple of entries on that. A significant number of us also participated in the Cataclysm beta.

I’ve also been a part of the MMOLeader.com launch. The title pretty much explains what it is – a place for leaders within MMO’s to congregate to discuss various strategies and issues that they’ve experienced.

Thanks again to Blacksen for taking the time to participate in this interview!

Interview with Epic Advice

epic-advice

There’s a new Warcraft side to the community. It’s not really a Wiki. It’s not a directory. It’s not a news site or a blog. It’s nothing like those.

Welcome to Epic Advice! The premise is simple.

You ask questions and you receive answers from other players who might know. It’s entirely peer driven. There isn’t a single “authority” that has all the answers. Everyone pools their knowledge into answering questions. Sometimes it can be much more straightforward than browsing forums or wading through database sites to get a simple answer.

I managed to catch the team behind Epic Advice in a brief email interview to shed further light on their unique project.

So before we get on to talking about Epic Advice, I’m sure the community would love to hear more about you guys. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?

Corey: Introductions always seem so boring.  I’m Corey – I own my own web development company, and do a lot of freelance programming/system administration.

Aaron: My name is Aaron, I work for an international association as their lead web developer developing and managing about 7 websites. I also work with Corey on the side, doing programming and design work.

I’m guessing you guys play WoW as well. What kind of characters do you play and what do you do in game?

Corey: I started playing WoW shortly after the beta, raided molten core with my friends, saw naxx at level 60, wrote the original PallyPower – and find it awesome that they still use my "buff grid", although my code was horrible and the new guy maintains it better. I did it all again towards the end of Burning Crusade. I haven’t been playing during WoTLK, I started my own company and needed all the time I could find. I hope that someday I can make enough money to pay myself to play this game again.   I played many characters, but the best fun I ever had was being a 39 feral tauren druid pvp twink named ‘Cowbellie’. She eventually became quite the DPS cat.

Aaron: Many old school priests probably know me best by my priest, Jesta. I used to write a lot of shadow priest articles, before shadow priests were truly embraced. I am currently one of the GMs of a guild on Lightning’s Blade (US) called Untamed, we’ve cleared everything but Heroic Anub’arak, which were hoping to get this weekend! I also was the author of "VampWatch", which was a popular shadowpriest mod used to track how much mana restoration you were causing (back before Replenishment existed). Currently I am raiding on a DK named Jadra in my guild.

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What exactly is Epic Advice about? It’s slipped under the radar for a while. When did it launch even?

Corey: You cheated – thats two questions.  :)

Epic Advice is about World of Warcraft.  It is a Question and Answer site, a knowledge exchange as it seems to have been dubbed.  We hope to provide the community with a place to help ask and answer questions about World of Warcraft, from the early leveling process, to the cutting edge raiding instances.

It launched about 24 hours before you found us- It seems you’ve scooped everyone on this one.  It hasn’t really been under the radar for long.  We had been talking about the concept of doing a ‘Stack Overflow’ for WoW, have been playing with the idea of writing our own software to handle it.  An opportunity occurred when Stack Exchange hit its beta.  We could launch the site using their engine to see if it was something that the players even want us to work on.

Aaron: Yeah we launched on the night of the 6th, sorta told a few friends who told more friends, and um, this is where we are now. EpicAdvice’s goal is to try to create a centralized location to find answers about the game itself, and hopefully organize it so you can find what you need. The rest of it, corey seems to have summed up perfectly.

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Who came up with the idea and how did the team get formed?

Corey: I can’t remember which of us mentioned it first, but I remember being instantly in love with the idea.  I’d also like to say that the team has not fully formed yet.  We will need more moderators, and hope to find a few good ones during this beta phase.

Aaron: I’ve known Corey for a long time, we’ve been friends for like, 8 years? Over the past year and a half or so, we’ve been doing work together and just advancing ourselves as programmers. We have a lot of pow-wows brainstorming web-application ideas and this happened to be one of them. I have a passion for WoW, just like I have a passion for programming, and this was the perfect project to get involved with to play off both sides of what I enjoy doing.

Where did the inspiration behind the site come from?

Corey: The amount of time we spend on Stack Overflow basically started the concept rolling.

Aaron: Couldn’t of said it better. Also the fact that the WoW forums are so unorganized and hard to find information in, which is the same problem that plagues a lot of programming forums. Since the release of StackOverflow, its been a lot easier to find programming related material. So, we took that concept and decided it would be an amazing fit for WoW.

The WoW forums generally aren’t known to be the best place to go to for help or advice without some guy coming along with a smartass remark. How do you plan to control trolls and the like?

Corey: Well, the cop-out answer is "we don’t".  The idea behind the site is that the community will reward the positive, and punish the negative on its own.  This site isn’t really for me to control, it is for the community to control.  I just want to lay down a few basic rules and let the community decide from there.  You build up reputation by providing good questions, or good answers.  Hopefully the trolls and flames will get ignored or downvoted, while the informative and well-thought gain good reputation.  We are not here to flame, we are here to answer and ask questions.

Aaron: He’s nailed it on the head, its up to the community to "down-vote" those trolls, which will cause them to lose reputation, and in-turn, lose privileges they may have on the site. It self-polices itself pretty well, and we will look hard at the system rules we have in place to see if we could tweak it more to fight the trolls. But for the time being, I think the community will police itself just fine.

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What the current plans for the site? What kind of features can we look forward to in the future?

Corey: Right now – We are in a very early concept beta.  We aren’t sure we are going to stick to the current engine behind the site – there are a few features we want to add that may not be possible within the Stack Exchange system, but we want to start asking/answering questions now to build up a good user base and community.

As far as what kind of features we plan on implementing.  Thats where we want some of your input.   There is already a question on epic advice about just that.  Perhaps you should sign in and post an answer.  We can also be reached via e-mail: team@epicadvice.com

Aaron: We also have some amazing ideas written up in our todo list for new features to implement, its just a matter of time before we can get to them. We both have real jobs, this is just a hobby right now more or less. We want to make it as easy as possible to talk, show, link and organize answers as possible. A rough "item linking" system is already in place (thanks WoWhead!), but we’d also like for people to be able to link characters from the armory, spell ranks, tag a question with a specific "patch version" and so forth.

There are a ton of ideas we have floating around and we will take the best approach possible to try to implement them.

Bonus stuff with Corey:

Favourite drink: Coffee (mountain dew a close second)

Favourite movie: Too many to mention.

If you had a million dollars, the first thing you would do is: Laugh

If you weren’t doing your current job, you would be a: WoW Player

Top 3 sites you frequent the most for fun:

1: Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/users/91914/gnarf – its my crossword puzzle collection)
2:
XKCD
3: this space intentionally left blank

Your personal hero is: Underdog

Warcraft is like: Crack?

Any shoutouts? They know who they are.

Thanks for your time guys!

So if you have any burning questions or the desire to help, head over to Epic Advice! You may wish to check out the FAQ before doing anything.

Matticus Interviewed

It all started with a PM from Blog Azeroth which exploded into a full fledge interview. Had lots of fun answering this one from the WoW Blogger. Go read it!

Most important question asked?

Will the blog still be going? For that matter do you foresee WoW itself still alive in a decade?

The blog itself will be up. I chose this name so that it wouldn’t exactly be limited to just World of Warcraft. It’s World of Matticus and whatever happens to be contained in that world will be up to me. Blizzard’s stories have been compelling in every game they’ve produced. If they keep up story telling and designing the games the way they are now there is no reason to see WoW even remotely slowing down at all.

20 Questions with Veneretio (tankingtips.com)

Whenever the Zul’Aman gong has been banged, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by his Sinister Squashling. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more!

This week, Veneretio of Tanking Tips lowers his shield long enough for him to answer a few questions.

I didn’t know your blog until a few months ago. I tried to find an about page but I couldn’t! Willing to tellus us a bit more about the blogger behind Tanking Tips?

Well I guess it’d make for a boring 20 questions if I didn’t ;) [Editor’s note: I clearly fail at getting my point and intent across. Oh well. Next time!].

What motivated and jumpstarted you to blog?

What most people probably don’t know is that I started blogging about 4 years ago. I’d say I first was motivated to blog just because I wanted to make a high traffic website and I tried every avenue possible from blogging to running a forum to contests to articles to polls to well you name it. I later found out that just blogging about one’s life wasn’t terribly interesting. And by later I mean 2 years later I found out… >.< Fortunately that taught me a lot of valuable lessons about blogging in general though and it’s why I’ve been able to approach my tanking blog in a professional manner from day 1.

What jump started TankingTips.com can be accredited to leaving my 2nd guild in 3 months. Basically, I knew in leaving that I was about to lose all the discussion surrounding everything I’d wrote in the guild forums for the 2nd time in 3 months. A prospect I wasn’t very happy about to say the least. The motivation came from missing blogging and really enjoying over analyzing every little detail of tanking. I’d read and re-read the works of everything from Ciderhelm and Wanderlei to Satrina and Berginyon. I wanted to create my own tanking reference something that wasn’t going to disappear on me in a few months. (I’m still in the guild I left to upon the creation of TankingTips.com well over a year later)

I notice you play an Orc Warrior (Ew, an Orc!). Why that instead of another tanking class?

Simply put when testing out the toons, I fell in love with Charge at level 4 on my Warrior. As to why I chose an Orc, it was because they looked the coolest and felt the most like a Warrior. As to race, Horde was the only option. Something about playing a fantasy game then being a human never really sat well with me. Not to mention having to see annoying Gnomes, grumpy Dwarves and hot Night Elves all the time would have been a little more than I could take. Ah… then again maybe I could have handled it.

What’s a typical WoW raid night like for you?

Log onto WoW and jump on Ventrilo an hour before raid invites start. Invite the chick that does the healer invites half an hour before raid invites start. Convert the group to a raid. Remember to set the instance to Normal so she doesn’t yell at me. Remember to give her assist so she doesn’t yell at me. Remember to set it to Master Looter so that… well you get the picture. 15 minutes before the raid, start doing pre-invites (ie. the people that I know are coming) and start arguing with Miss Inviter of all Healers except Paladins that we need to get a 2nd paladin into the raid somehow for another round of buffs. This is also the time in which she’ll bring up any and all matters of extreme guild importance that are impossible to discuss in 15 minutes especially while doing invites. 8 minutes before the raid everyone else brings up any and all matters that they think are of extreme guild importance. 5 minutes before the raid the 10 people I wanted to invite 10 minutes ago log on so they aren’t late for the raid.

Raid invites officially open and I’m bombarded with tells. The first wave is easy which really means I’m still inviting people I should have invited 15 minutes ago. I hop channels with Miss anti-Pally buff and Doctor DPS and we start hashing out who the final slots should go to. The conversation basically goes something like this:

Miss AP: I’m taking this person and this person because I need 9 healers.
Me: You can have 7.
Miss AP: 8.
Me: 7 + a Prot Pally
Miss AP: Deal.
*Raid successfully acquires 2nd Paladin Buff*
Me: Any opinions on who else we should bring Doctor DPS?
DD: What? No, whatever. I’m talking to a chick on AIM atm leave me alone.
Miss AP: We need more warlocks.
Me: We already have 3.
Miss AP: I know, we need more.
Me: I’m inviting another rogue.
Miss AP: I’m leaving the raid.
Me: We’ll just heal it with 6 + a Prot Pally I guess.
*Raid successfully fills all Melee Slots*
Me: Okay, so-and-so’s Brother wants to come and so does Guild Member X that’s never raided but been in the guild for 4 years and I don’t have room for either.
Miss AP: Are they Warlocks?
Me: No.
Miss AP: Hmm… do they have the gear?
Me: Everyone has the gear, Blizzard handed everyone the gear. They just have to do like 4 heroics and they’ve got the same gear we had 2 weeks ago.
Miss AP: You sure there aren’t any more Warlocks around?
Me: I’m flipping a coin.
*Flips*
Me: Okay, it’s Ancient Guild Member X
*Checks Armory and notices he doesn’t have the gear*
Me: Uh… we probably should take the Brother. I think he could be a valuable asset in the future.
*Checks Armory and notices he doesn’t have the gear either…*
Me: Then again maybe I should just invite another Warlock.
Miss AP: I knew you’d see it my way.
DD: Huh? Can I bring my rogue yet?
Me & Miss AP: No!

…and somehow this happens everytime taking about 15 to 20 minutes ending with a full raid and plenty of time to spare so that we pull early. (We grant 30 minutes for invites) The raid lasts 2 and a half hours. I start it off by insulting the healers (especially resto-druids for their inability to rez), the rogues, the hunters and women in general. I spend the entire raid thinking of quick replies to shots directed at me because I don’t do something exactly how TankingTips.com says or because I’ve said something “Canadian” all the while desperately trying to hold off over-aggroing Warlocks to the chorus of “Your threat is not fine”. I deflect the banter by giving away Miss AP’s gold, forcing Shadow Priests to pay the raid when they die and of course, making fun of the healers, rogues, hunters and women. Somehow this plus consistent, steady progression fits into every raid night with us usually accomplishing more than we expected and ending early.

What direction do you intend to take your blog to?

I want it to become a stronger reference site while also maintaining the blog aspect of it. It’ll get a new design for WotLK and if I’m really ambitious a 2nd design that you can turn on when you’re at work. (I’ll call it TankLite or something along that lines, it’ll have less branding and load faster and maybe even look like you’re actually doing your job lol) Don’t think it escapes me that traffic is highest weekdays during working hours ;) Overall though, I’m pretty happy with how things are and I’ll be maintaining my strict focus on Warrior Tanking. The podcasts will continue, you’ll probably see a few more slideshows and possibly even the emergence of video content. I’d like to delve into UIs since it’s a completely untapped area for the site and perhaps if I’m really ambitious look into creating an add-on or two. Finally, I’ll continue to watch out for a guest blogger or two especially if I can find one that’s a more involved raider than myself and you’ll eventually actually hear a 2nd voice on the TankingTips.com podcast.

Let’s talk about Wrath. Be honest. What excites you and what disappoints you?

Threat and damage scaling more aggressively with tanking gear is going to be amazing. I’m looking forward to the day that I out dps everyone in a heroic while wearing my conventional tanking gear. The ability to easily AOE tank content that I outgear is very enticing too and I think it is really going to push Warriors to do 5 mans a lot more than they do now. (A step towards the end of raid-only warriors I hope) To be more specific, I get excited a lot just by reading the play by play. Loading up mmo-champion.com every day and just seeing what’s new be it for Warriors or not. In particular, I’m really looking forward to even bigger Shield Slam crits and the fact that I’m going to crit a whole lot more often than I used to. Shockwave looks great, Weapon Throw looks astounding and I can’t help but hope that perhaps with In combat charge than maybe just maybe we’ll see some viable Prot PvP.

The disappointment only comes from parts of the WoW community. There’s a minority of people that just hate everything and it’s really a downer. We get a nerf, they complain. We get a buff, they complain. Most people can’t really put their finger on it, but if they really looked closely at my blog, it’s very rarely negative. (and when it is, it’s almost always in jest) The game is suppose to be fun, entertaining and motivating. For me that extends even to the discussion of it. I’ll always be the guy saying, “Okay, this is what we got, what are we going to do with it?” So for me what’s disappointing is the people that just aren’t giving Blizzard a chance.

Some would say there is a special relationship between a tank and the healer (or a healer and the tank). Fact or fiction?

I’d have to say fact. It’s not by pure accident that I do 95% of my runs with the same healer. It’s also not by accident that I tease the healers in raids the most and always try my best to make them feel good. (haha, somehow those are the same) While tanks don’t have to trust nor respect their healers, I can guarantee when they do and it’s returned in kind that what’s accomplished is far greater than the opposite despite superior strategy, gear and skill. In general though, we’re kinda forced to like your frail kind since our life is in your hands from a very early point in the game. Be it raiding or even PvP, we have to rely on healers and as a result, we naturally create stronger relationships with them.

When it comes to raiding, I feel like that’s where the tank/healer relationship really starts to solidify. While the dpsers are just watching the numbers go up and tracking personal performance against the next guy, Tanks and Healers are actually helping each other’s performances rather than competing.

Do you know where Elvis is?
On the Twisting Nether realm, he is so difficult to accurately located because he is, in fact, 2 entities not 1. They go by the alias’ Commandant and Dalrem. I’ve never talked to them, but reports indicate that Elvis’ Commandant entity is the bigger loser of the two.

If you could change (or add) something to your class, what would it be and why?
Mana Bandages. I want freakin’ Mana Bandages already. I really want everyone to have them, but if I have to change my class, give me those things. Somehow, someway. I hate waiting. Also, I’d like all food to be twice as effective for Warriors.

Let’s say I wanted to start tanking as a Warrior as a fresh 70. What are some of the things I have to do first ( in a nutshell?)

Read my entire website.

Seriously though, you’d need to have a mic and not be afraid to talk on ventrilo. You have to be able to mark targets. Mostly, you’ve just gotta experience it. Tank 5 mans, a lot. This really is something that needs to start far, far prior to 70 though. Sunken Temple especially should require Warrior’s to tank it before even being able to continue leveling. Finally, you’ve gotta get ready for being called a noob, a lot. Do your research and stick to what you’ve read and keep doing it. Sometimes when you get called a noob, you really are one… sometimes you’re not. Either way, you’re learning.

Overall, good tanks have natural leadership qualities and are able to focus constantly on the task at hand. You can screw up a lot of aspects of tanking if you’ve got those things in your favour from the get go.

Speed questions

When not WoWing, you:

Blog, Work, Watch tons of Movies, Party when I can, Golf on occasion

Favourite beverage of choice when playing WoW
Coke

Tanking is like:

Being the general

Favourite movie

The Matrix, Transformers or whatever is really cool and I just saw in theatres.

Tanking music you recommend:

None, it makes me harder to hear when I’m talking.

Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel?

Alba obviously even if she can’t act.

Most OP tanking class:
Warriors, the way it should be. ;)

Nerf:
Rogues.

Top 5 blogs/sites (doesn’t have to be WoW related)
www.tankspot.com
www.mmo-champion.com
www.smashingmagazine.com
gmail.google.com
www.netvibes.com

Can’t play WoW without my:
Ventrilo

Shoutouts to:
Ibex especially Sioux and Speidel who put up with me the most. Not to mention Rungo and Eclectic that I talk with more now in-game than I do IRL.

Kavtor ala E X A L T E D for being the unofficial co-writer of TankingTips.com
Ciderhelm, the hardest working website owner I know.

My readers, that I fondly like to call “The Comment Community”, they’ve made the site a success. I just tell them what to talk about.

The Tank Bloggers!!!

Thanks again to Veneretio for participating this week! Don’t forget to subscribe to his blog!

Bonus: More Matt and Wyn for Your Friday

As per the terms of NAFTA, since I interviewed Auz, it’s only fair that she gets to take a few shots at us as well.

Enjoy!

Also Wyn put up a new poll on the side from a comment that was made earlier applauding the increased Horde presence. To what faction do you swear your allegiance?

Do you consider yourself Horde or Alliance?

  • Thrall is my homeboy. (52%, 148 Votes)
  • I'm Jaina-licious. (48%, 137 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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20 + 2 Questions with Auzara (Chick GM)

20 + 2 Questions with Auzara (Chick GM)

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!

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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?

auz-2 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.

auz-5

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.

auz-6

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.

auz-7

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.

auz-8 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?

auz-3 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?

auz-9

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.

auz-4

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.

Data Gathering:
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.

Independent Testing:
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?

House

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.

BA Chat

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.

Thanks again to Auzara for agreeing to do the interview! Don’t forget to subscribe to her blog!

20 Questions with Breana

Once in a blue moon, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by a Rhapsody Malt. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more! This week, Breana of Gun Loving Dwarf Chick gets center stage!

Would you oblige me and tell me a bit about yourself? (We can touch on the WoW stuff later on)

Okay, first big thing: I r girl!  Sorry, couldn’t resist.  I am a 31-year old lady, living in the bum of the US, aka Miami, Florida.  WoW is my first MMO and I have been playing since 2005.

For those that are unfamiliar with Twisted Nether how about some background information?

IE, how did it get started? It started as a byproduct of another conversation that Fim and I had one day via on IM. The conversation veered towards podcasts and we talked about how both of us would like to try it. We thought it would be really awesome to have a podcast that highlighted and discussed the WoW blogging community.

Do you have any upcoming plans for the blogcast that you might be willing to share?

We want to make the blogcast and its site a real hub of blogging news and information, so expect in the near future more link roundups, a wiki, reader polls, and a more interactive experience.  We just posted a “how I can help” page, which lists ways listeners can participate.  This blogcast is everyone’s blogcast and we want the community to feel part of it.

I see your preferred weapon is a gun. An excellent choice. But why do you feel guns are more superior to bows?

Boom!  I just love the sound of it. It also looks very deadly in my little dwarf hands! Seriously, can you be intimidated by a chick with ponytails and a bow? I think not.  Now, if you are staring down the barrel of a gun, that is a whole other bag of chips. 

Many may try to sway me by showing me stats and theorycrafting as to why some bows are superior to guns, but honestly, I don’t care, “Sure, here is your bow Mr. NE, now give me that gun!”

I also really enjoy the recoil animation on Bre and overall, we have been doing just fine on DPS with my “puny” gun, thank you very much!  However, Blizz, I do have some beef…where is my legendary gun, eh!  I mean, not all of us want a pewpew, you know!

What got you started and interested in WoW?

Boredom. Actually, I bought the game for my husband as a birthday present and one day, alone and bored at home, I logged in and started a mage.  Haven’t stopped playing since.

Along that note, what exactly are you up to in WoW right now?

Right now, I am in the middle of my annual, “burnout”.  After raiding for a while, and gearing up my priest, I am taking a break, by making new alts and just trying to enjoy my time online with friends.  Started another priest on Draenor, to which my defense is, “I wasn’t in my right mind when I pressed the create button.”

How did you get started blogging and what motivated you?

Hmmm, I would have to say BRK and my desire to try something different.  I had tried blogging in the past, but often those projects would die a quick death after only a few weeks.   

Last year, Breana had just turned 70 and I started to read WoW blogs for the first time.  I stumbled on BRK’s site, fell in love, then found other great blogs like Kestrel’s, TJ’s and Ego’s and a bug started to form in my head.

I wanted to write and I thought what better thing to write about than my obsession about WoW.  Around the same time, one of my friends, a long time DC hater, started to call Bre, ugly and so forth, so I thought it would be funny to create a site devoted to my “Gun Loving Dwarf Chick” just to irritate him.

It took off from there and I have been having a blast, since!

Is there anything about WoW or blogging that you know now that you wish you knew about earlier?

Once, when my mage was 60 and we were pugging an Upper Blackrock Spire run, a pull went bad and several people died.  In the middle of the fight, I heard someone scream on vent, “BATTLEREZ!”  Until that moment, I had no idea that druids could rez in the middle of a fight.  /Blush

Are you single? (That is, are you guildless?)

Far from it.  I am honored and privileged to be the guild leader for an awesome guild on Bleeding Hollow.  Without them, I wouldn’t be playing or writing the blog.

Where do you see yourself and this blog in 5 months?

For me personally?  Getting ready for my cousin’s wedding and the two day bachelorette party I am suppose to organize!  The blog?  Still on the net, alive and well.

Short answer time!

Beverage of choice when playing: Water or Coke Zero

Currently playing on your media player: How to Save a Life by The Fray

Next blog post topic is: Tarren Mills: All Your Babies Belong to Us

Personality similar to: Grumpy.  Wut?  He is a person…somewhere. Or Charles Bukowski, without the booze and cigarettes.

Heroes? Yes, I do watch that show.  But Battlestar is by miles better.

Next movie you are going to watch? Girly answer: Sex in the City. General gender answer : Hell Boy 2

Hunter pet you wish they’d add to the game: OOO, the pet I wish I could have is already in the game, but can’t be tamed.  I want a chimera, especially the ones from Stonetalon Mountains! 

1 thing you look forward to the most in wrath: Leveling

1 thing you LEAST look forward to in wrath: Leveling

Shoutouts to? My readers, you guys rock!  My guild, AUO. Everyone in BA chat, and to my husband. <3 you all!

Thanks again Breana! Don’t forget to subscribe to her blog and  while you’re at it, subscribe to Twisted Nether Blogcast.

20 Questions with Ratshag

 

We’re back from the hiatus that is post secondary finals! Every week, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by TJ’s HAPPY FUN ROCK. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more!

This week, Ratshag of Need More Rage gets to sit on the hot seat!

Your name consists of two words: "Rat" and "Shag". When the are looked at independently, they bring two completely different images. What are the origins of "Ratshag"?

Me mum were a fan of the great orc warrior Shagrat, who were the captain of the troops at the tower of Cirith Ungol. If ya reads Tolkiens The Two Towers you’ll come across him. Unfortunatelies, Tolkien were a bigot who done wrote the orcs up ta be lowlife thievin’ buggers bent on starting wars and whatnot. So don’t believe a lotta what ya read. Anywho, ma just took the two syllables of Shagrat’s name and reversified’em.

Dreams provide an internal metaphysical portal to another dimension. People frequently refer to it as "real life". It is said that when you sleep in the game you’re busy doing something else in "real life". Can you tell us about what your "real life" is like and what you do?

Bleh. Real life dreams. Yeah, I gots this recurrifying dream where I’s this geeky bugger what be nearly 40 years old. And he be stuck at a desk all day doing some sorta engineering work, but he don’t got no epic goggles or fly a ROFLcopter or nuthin’. He don’t even drive a train. It’s just lots of mathifications, and those make me head hurt, I tell ya. He ain’t all amazingly virile like me; when he walks down the street, wimmens don’t cry out "I waaaaa-aaa-aa-ant!" And he’s a wimp, too. Drop 200 pounds of hardened adamantite plate armor on him and put a fifty pound felsteel/khorium axe in his hands, he’d just make some sorta squeaky sound and collapse. Pffft.

But I guess he ain’t a total loser. He’s got hisself a pleasant enough house in someplace called Texas, where it be pleasantly warm. And he’s got a wife he loves and a beautiful daughter. Sometimes Ellspeth’s hunter friend dreams she’s the kid, which is all a little strange, but there it is.

What has been your most glorious campaign thus far? Or at least, most interesting story.

Well, me date with Jaina were certainly me most interesting story. But I already done told that one.

Dunno about glorious. Is always been about helping out the good guys by killing the bad guys (ya can tell the differences by which is the buggers what be paying ya), and bein’ satisifed with yerself at the end of the day. I did a lot ta bring peace and stability to places like the Barrens, where quillboars and centaurs had been running amok. Grinding me up to exalted with the Consortium as a prot warrior were an accomplishments I felt pretty good about. And I’s pleased with meself fer having rallied my small guild when our two tanks retired, leaving everyone all dazed and confusified. We did pretty good fer a while there, me learning ta tank proper while we cleared out places like Mesh and Steamvault.In the end the guild broke up anyways, but fer a while we was able ta do a proper job. And in the end, that’s enough glory fer me. Being able ta look back and say, "Self? Ya did a proper job."

What advice would you offer to young, lumbering Ratshaggian wannabes (in terms of writing style)?

Great googly moogly, don’t imitate me. Yer brain’ll explodify.
Ya gots to write fer yerself. It’s gotta be about you wanting to tell stories or get the facts down or whatevers be fun fer you, but not because ya wanna be popular. Find yer own style, even if ya gots ta try a few on fer size first. Practice helps a bunch, so keeps writing. Meself, I takes a lot of pictures when I’s adventuring, and go look through them afters. Sometimes a story just jumps out at me when I do that, what I hadn’t realized was there at the time.

Words like "numperlugger" seem to be scattered throughout your blog. Where does this… "Ratcabulary" come from and what other examples are there? Is there a Ratshag dictionary somewhere?

Hmmm. A dictionary be about details, and I can’t be bothered ta keep track of the details. But I would say that if there were such a thing, it would come from a blending of Bill Mauldin’s Up Front cartoons, some of the more colorful citizens of Ankh-Morpork in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a smidgeon from the movie Tremors. All held together by me own special enthusiasm fer languagifying.

How did your origins into the World of Warcraft begin?

Were me friends Tarsius and Ungarosh. I known them buggers fer about 25 years, and they’d been begging me ta come adventure with’em. We’s trying ta do timed Dead Strat and Dire Maul Tribute runs, and we needs somebody with yer awesome virility ta helps us out. So I picked up an axe and started down the road, killin’ boars. Course a few weeks after that the Dark Portal done opened, so by the time I caught up with’em a few months later we was all in Outland.

I understand that you’ve deviated from your brute force, gnome handling ways and embraced the dark arts of a Shadow Priest. What exactly happened here? Last time I checked, you were cleaving bodies left and right. Now you just burn them.

What happened? Is a good question. Still ain’t entirely sure what all happened meself.

Basically, facts is, last fall me guild died when everybody done retired. Weren’t planned, weren’t announced, weren’t expected. We’d cleared Black Morass and saved the Universe, and I’d got me my Kara key, and then we took a bit of a break. And then it were SayThankYou Day, and the break got longer. And then it got longer still fer Winter Veil, and I realized they just wasn’t coming back. So all this time I’d been messing around, keeping busy, waiting, and I realized I knew I hads ta do something or retire too.

‘Bout this time teh Squeeky and BRK dropped a few hints about how awesome it’d be if I could raid with’em. Some of these hints were pretty fuhggin’ explicit, but they’s classified I’s afeared, so I can’t talk abouts’em. Anywho, it became clear ta me what if I got me arse in gear and up ta 70 I might have opportunities a lot sooner than I expected. So I did. Since what I’d been messin’ with in me dwarf disguise were a priest, is what I were stuck with. Didn’t wanna waste time rerollings a warrior.

I misses swingin’ the big axe, sometimes. And it do be fun knowin’ yer the toughest dubberpunker in the room. But in the end, what counts is puttin’ the fuhgger’s arse down, and I finds doin’ that as a priest is just as fun as doing it as me regular self.

A personal question I’d like to ask, if you will. Which girls are hotter? The ones on the Alliance or on the Horde?

They’s all damn fine attractive wimmens, I tell ya. And since many of thems want theyselves a piece of Ratterflesh, who is I to deny? Horde wimmens, Alliance wimmens, Aldork wimmens, Scrybaby wimmens, goblin wimmens, naga wimmens, even them six-armed demon chicks, they’s all hot. Only exceptions is deader chicks ’cause, well, they’s creepy, and fer a long time I weren’t inta treeform druidesses, but me friend Bellwether‘s been helping me ta understands and appreciates the unique charms the veggie kingdom gots to offer.

Have you found it difficult to adapt to the short stature of a Dwarf versus your Orc? And why a Dwarf anyway?

Worst part be cramming me feet inta them tiny shoes.
Me dwarfish self were never intended ta amount ta nuthins. Just wanted ta be able ta walk inta Ironforge withouts the guards gettin’ violents and say "howdies" to all them cool bloggers on Drenden. So it didn’t really matter what I were. It were only after I got invited inta Aetherial Circle and I started thinkings about getting to 70 and being in on the ground floor when them fine buggers headed off ta Wrath up the Itch King what the dworc became important ta me plans, and then it were too late ta think about anything different.

What future plans might you have?

I’s hoping to reach a point where I can go on the 25-man raids Aetherial Circle does. They’s getting real close ta killing Lady Vashj and Prince Kael’thas, and I would really like ta at least be good enough to be a backup raider before they puts Illidan’s arse down. The facts what I writes an amusing blog and is damn pleasant company ain’t gonna get me a slot, so I’s working hard to improve meself as best I can, and I’ll see where that takes me. Once it be time ta invade Northrend, I’s planning ta stick with these buggers as long as they’ll have me.

As me regular orcish self, I just don’t have that many plans. Me friends is all retired, and there ain’t much soloable work left ta do. But I’s keeping me gear in good order, and meself in good shape, and I’s hopefuls what they’ll come outta retirement when the invasion of Northrend starts up.

Not real clear at the moment where the rest of the team is going. Ellspeth is still slowly working her way through STV, and Pali’s having fun hanging out in BBB’s new guild. DangerMouse is nearly done earning 19th season doodads from the Whore’s Thong Gulch ninnies, so at some point she’ll start adventuring again. Don’t know if any of them’ll ever make it ta Outland or not. And Galertruby’s doing a bang-up job running items from the bank to the mailbox and back gain, so he ain’t likely ta ever goes anywhere.

Speed questions

When you’re out doing your Orcish things, do you listen to any tunes?

Yeah, I likes ta listen to a mishmash of stuff, mostly older tunes. Fer example, the next five songs in me library is … ummm …. lessee here … Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time, Judas Priest Love Bites, Styx The Grand Illusion, Minas Morgul theme from the LotR movies, and the suite from the Buffy episode Restless.

What is the official beverage of Ratshag?

Uncle Bonechompers Day-Old Piss

So uh, how was Jaina?

Damn, she were good. She could time her Frost Nova ta hit at juuuust the right moment, ya know?

Who is next on your list?

I never has a list. Is justa take things as they happen process. But I has noticed what Lady Liadrin been checkin’ me out as I get me daily quest assignments…

Sexiest bloggette:

Heh. They all is.

Night Elves taste great with ______ :

-out hardly having ta work at it.

Axe, Sword, or Mace?

Axe. Always.

Silk or leather?

Yup.

Cookies, cake, pie, or brownies?

Pie.

Shoutouts to:

Hydra, who were the first friend I made through blogging.
TJ, who encouraged me ta take me blogging to a higher level.
BRK, who opened me eyes to the idea what adventuring can be a science as well as good, bloody fun.
Fio and Cay, fer running a guild what I’s most happy to be a part of.
Sonvar, who always got something worth saying. Even when he’s bein’ a smart-ass.

Thanks again to Ratshag for participating this week! Don’t forget to subscribe to his blog!

20 Questions with Anna

 

Every week, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by his Piccolo of the Flaming Fire. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more!

This week, Anna of TooManyAnnas ran out of mana  and had time to answer a few questions.

As an avid RPer, how did you come up with the history of your characters and which one would you consider your most favourite or most like you in some way?

Wow. Well, I don’t really have “favourites”, so much as there are specific things that I like about all of my characters. Each one of them has a little bit of me thrown in there — though they’re all different from me as well. Annalira, the human priest, is the one that is most like Anna the real person, and Aleydis, Berylla, and Brietta are could compete for the silliest, but I feel close to all of my characters.

As to how I came up with their histories, well, that’s a little more complicated. Probably some combination of inspiration, random experiments, planning, and pure dumb luck.

Angoleth has changed the most through these last few years because she was my first character and my first real foray into RP. Her personality has been the same for the most part, but after a few failed stories I learned to let her tell me about her history as she wants to come forward with it. Annalira was a bit of an experiment — can I create a character with a happy family and a happy childhood and still have her be believable and real in WoW’s universe. The answer is, of course, yes, and she’s become a very “real” character that’s easy for me to RP with.

Annorah had, by far, the most research before I created her. Draenei lore is rather sparse, so I actually went to out-of-game lore sources, particularly the novels Rise of the Horde and Lord of the Clans, to learn about Draenei and Shaman lore. Even after all that, she doesn’t have a concrete backstory so much as a basic framework of a history, but I had that background set up before I pushed the Create Character button.

I’ll stop now, since I’m pretty sure you don’t want me going on (and on) about my characters — but this is one of those topics I could probably write several pages about!

How did you get suckered into playing World of Warcraft?

I started playing the spring after release — the guy I was dating had just started playing and set me up with the trial account, which I really enjoyed. I was playing, ironically, a human priest and a troll shaman, but on a PVP server. A few weeks later my best friend and her (now) husband told me they were playing on Feathermoon, and I created Angoleth there, and the rest was, as they say, history!

Let’s talk about Resto Shamans for a bit. Brain Heal has often been cited as the spell that will ruin the careers of holy priests, holy paladins and resto druids. In fact, many of the major cities have suffered riots and strikes. How would you respond to people who suggest that brain heal is far too great a weapon to be used alone?

Try to heal a heroic with it without being overgeared (that is: in pre-Kara and Karazhan gear). Chain heal is *incredibly* powerful in a group, but in solo-healing situations, especially where the tank is taking a lot of damage, it falls behind as I go OOM droping max rank healing wave. My Priest does considerably better in those situations because she has more tricks and the Shaman is not built to be a “bomb” style healer, to the point where, until I was healing tier5 geared groups, I would avoid healing heroics because I knew it’d be a huge headache and very stressful.

And the other side of that coin — I could never do the job that the priests in my raid do. Yes, I can keep a group of scrub rogues and warriors and ret pallies alive until kingdom come, but when it comes to tank healing, there are other classes that just do it better. As a Resto shaman, I can do a few things incredibly well. Group healing? You got it. But successful healing is about balance and working as a team, and the strongest healing teams are the ones that utilize ALL the available classes and tools.

You’re not technically in a Guild per se. Rather, you raid with a set group of people from various other Guilds, is that right? How exactly is this different from a normal Guild and what would some of its strengths and weaknesses be?

Totally Raids, Incorporated is a group of roleplayers that got together back in the earlier days of Warcraft when their guilds were too small to raid or weren’t interested in raiding progression. There are members of all different guilds in the group, at all different “levels” of RP — from avid, active, in-game RP to forum writers to people that are in character simply by not acting in a way that is counter to the Warcraft world. As a rule, our /raid chat is in character. Ventrilo is, of course, out of character. And yes, we do get boss fight explanations IC.

In a lot of ways it’s very similar to a guild: we have a leader, officers in charge of various things (healing lead, loot-master, roster setup, etc) and if there’s a problem we have a chain of command. We have an active forum, sign up threads, strategy posts, and a very active in game chat channel.

One of the biggest advantages to this style of raiding is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. You love your guild — they’re awesome, but they’re a small (in this case, most often roleplaying) guild that doesn’t have the manpower or the desire to do the work and set up a raid. *YOU* want to raid, but you don’t want to leave your guild. With Totally Raids — that’s the norm. There are a few of us that are unguilded (like me, though I am trying a new guild with Annalira right now — shhh!), but the vast majority are people from various guilds.

And at the end of the day, if you have a bad night, are angry with someone, and feel like mashing your face into your keyboard repeatedly… when you leave the raid — you leave the raid. Until next week, you don’t have to have any real interaction with the raid group unless you want to; you’re back in your guild doing what you’ve always done.

The disadvantage is, of course, that we rely heavily on a forum to keep everyone coordinated. Fortunately everyone (at this point) is extremely good about signing up from week to week, and the board has our Karazhan, Zul’Aman, and “etc” signups as well. But if you can’t get people to organize in some way, this kind of a raid corps Just. Won’t. Work. Guilds have the advantage of a message of the day and periodic spam — we don’t have that. But we’ve made it work through a combination of active forum participation and an active chat channel (that’s also a really great way to find 5man groups during the week). I could see how, in another situation you might get people who were more loyal to their guilds and not actually loyal to the raid, but by and large our group is very dedicated to the raid as an entity of itself.

How are you enjoying (or hating) 2.4?

Honestly, I’m doing a little bit of both enjoying and hating.

1 second Totem Global Cooldown = Awesomesauce
New Earthshield = can I have the old one back please?
New dailies = Yay money! Yay badge gear! Boo competition. Boo realm crashes. Double boo to griefing asshats.

I know this is going to be very hard for you. But tell me 1 (one) thing that you think all Resto Shamans should know.

Be flexible. While chain heal is incredibly powerful, other classes can heal (ok — so maybe not as well on groups, but the Alliance was quite successful without Shamans for a long time) — but not every class has the ability to so dramatically alter the groups you’re in. Keep your totems handy, keep an eye on the fight, and be situationally aware. Flexibility is what makes a great Shaman — of any flavor, resto or otherwise.

By sheer luck and awesomeness, you’ve been awarded the ability to create a new spell or ability for the Shaman in Wrath of the Lich King. What nefarious idea would you put into play?

If I’m selfish and think only about resto shaman, a HOT spell, deep in the Resto tree. If we’re talking about shaman in general, the ability to summon a spirit wolf pet. Or that HOT spell… that’d be pretty hawt.

Or maybe the ability, since we’re all into the Elements, to fish without fishing skill. I mean seriously — water = element. Fish in the water. Master of the Elements. Instant fish! Heeeeeeere fishy fishy fishy fishy.

Care to tell us a bit more about the blogger behind the gamer? (IE what you do when not playing WoW)

I’m a girl in real life (OMG no gurlz on teh interweb!), married, with two cats and a balcony garden. I love music and history and am quite passionate about both, as well as about teaching in general.

My career is in a bit of a transition because where I live right now doesn’t have a place that I can do my advanced degrees. Eventually I want to be a professor of (medieval) cultural history. In that vein, I’m learning some living-history activities, including calligraphy and illumination — those really cool paintings in medieval books. In the meantime I’m a substitute teacher and getting ready to start on a Masters of Education. Hopefully I’ll either be teaching history or music.

Spare time wise (lol!) I love to cook, read, and knit, though I don’t get as much time for most of these as I’d like. Except cooking. I do a lot of that.

What inspired you to begin blogging?

I stumbled across BigRedKitty one day and was blown away by the idea of someone actually writing about Warcraft — especially hunters! Yay! Followed a long link train and ended up in BlogAzeroth. Curiosity was piqued, and I started a wordpress.com blog that transitioned to Too Many Annas about a month later. Turns out I rather like writing about Warcraft!

Just how many Annas is considered too many?

When I have to take off my shoes and socks so I have enough digits to count them, it’s too many.  For the record, I’ve not reached too many yet (though I’ve been told by others that I have), and I do have characters whose names are *not* Anna. …if they were all Annas, I’d definitely have too many.

Speed Questions

Have you ever found Waldo?

No, but if you find him, let me know. He’s been undercutting me on the AH all week.

Most annoying aspect of World of Warcraft

u wanna join my new riad gild were starting kara and hav a bank and tabard?
u run me thru SM?

Can’t raid without my _____:

Annorah: Chain Heal!
Annalira: Icefin Bluefish, Golden Fishsticks, and Zangarian Sporefish
Angoleth: 24 slot quiver.
TheRealAnna: Something to drink. Depending on the night, adult additives may be necessary.

*Chain* Healing is like ______:

A monkey flinging poo. You never know for sure who it’s going to hit, but so long as you get someone, it’s ok. And it splatters.

Favourite encounter in the game:

Any meeting that leads to an in character conversation, particularly if it’s just two people chatting and going about their daily business.

Any fight where I get to put my full arsenal of abilities to use. Karathress, Tidewalker, and Vashj are coming to mind (though I also hate Vashj with much hating because she refuses to die).

3 pieces of advice for new raiders:

Know your stuff.
Pay attention.
Don’t be a dick.

Favourite in game holiday: 

Hallows End.

What kills you the most?

Going OOM.

Matt needs to ____:

QQ less about shamans. It’s not our fault that the raid encounters have the entire raid taking damage ALL THE TIME. Or that we’re, you know, designed for that kind of healing. (Editor’s note: The QQness will never stop!)

Shout outs to:

  • All the folks at Blog Azeroth, especially the gang in the BA Chat, for keeping me motivated and always being a source of inspiration.

  • My fellow Feathermooninites, for being post fodder for me without complaining… or without knowing about it.

  • Totally Raids, Incorporated, for giving me a chance to raid and being an awesome group of creative people that I love to hang out with even when we’re not raiding.

Thanks again to Anna for participating this week! Don’t forget to subscribe to her blog!

20 Questions with Fimlys

Every week, Matt gets a chance to sit down with a WoW Blogger chosen this week by Wolpertinger in a mug. Find out a little more about your favourite bloggers as he tries to get to know them a little more!

This week, Fimlys of Asleep at the WoW has been forced graciously agreed to be my blogger of choice this week.

Tell us a bit more about the blogger behind the blog:

My "real" name is Michael. I live in Orlando, FL (Mickeyworld). I am a computer programmer by day and a crime-fighter by night… Well, not so much the crime-fighter, but I really am a programmer.

I am over 30, male, married and have 2 "smallish" kids. I like mana coladas, getting caught in the raid.  I’m not much into strength food.. I am into the campaign. I like killing mobs at midnight, in the vaults of SH.

I understand that your alias is Fimlys (which is also the name of your main character). Is there a particular history behind that name?

First off, yes, you can call me Al.  You can also call me Fim. In addition, it is pronounced Fim-liss (maybe with a bit of a lihss sound…).. Ok, that out of the way.  I really don’t care how you pronounce it.
I think I have a post about this too, but for you who are too darn lazy to go find it on my site (hint hint).. I really have no clue. Wait, something is coming to me. You mind if I just make something up?  No? Cool.. Ok.. Here it goes:
In college somehow I was saddled with the nickname Fizz (don’t ask..).  When I started playing WoW, I create a character named Fizz.  He was a human mage. I quickly grew bored of him and wanted to create another character. I had read that Hunters were pretty easy to solo, so I rolled one.  For some reason I got in my head that I should have this shtick that all my characters start with F. I was also trying to come up with a name that fit a night elf.. Not really knowing what that entailed, I came up with Fimlys. I wanted something a little difficult to pronounce so I could correct people all the time and harass them for messing up my name.

In your opinion, how could the Aldor and Scryer forces (once mortal enemies) come to terms with each other AND start cooperating? Would you say that is almost as surprising as US forces working with the Russians on joint exercises after the Cold War?

I can’t believe it! How could they do this to me? They have completely jacked up everything I hold sacred and dear! I’m quitting… /wowquit.   (Seriously… not all that sure I care, but it could be as surprising as that)

How on EARTH did you end up playing a game like this?

1) I have been gaming all my life.. Well, most..
b) I am a HUGE RPG nut (First computer RPG game was Ultima III, I think)
III) I played FFXI for a while since I am also a FF nut (see a pattern here?)
*) I migrated to WoW when it came out because it was just more FUN than FFXI and I was much more into "solo" play than grouping and FFXI has required grouping in the mid game. (I also had played and liked the Warcraft games in the past)
This "solo" pay mindset I had is very interesting because I have recently professed that what KEEPS me in WoW is the social aspects now.  I get bored quickly if I have nobody to chat with.  I love running instances and going on raids

The 2.4 patch has JUST been released. The next thing on the horizon is Wrath of the Lich King. What are you looking forward to the most?

"Noobzone Chat"…  "Where is BLAH?".  "Why can’t I fly?"..  "How do you get the frizzlemadizzle?"…. I LOVE THAT STUFF!!!!

Well, I am really looking forward to the new content. I really got energized by the release of TBC and I can’t wait for the interesting changes that are in store for WotLK. 

Your epic Gryphon is flying over the seas of Azeroth somewhere only to get shot down by Horde insurgents and by sheer luck and skill (you are a hunter, after all), you manage to make it to a deserted island. You lose your possessions and all of your gold in the process. You think to yourself that a stereotypical deserted island HAS to have a lamp of some kind. After hours of searching and digging, you manage to find a rusty old lamp which you activate and out pops a genie who grants you 1 wish. What will it be?

A can of Frobozz Magic Grue Repellent.

How’s your Hunter loaded and specced? Any significant reason as to why that path?

He is a bit different.  He is currently specced BM (which I am sure will make BRK smile) and I am loving it.  However, to be a bit different, I have most of my gear still chosen/gemmed/enchanted for AP from when I was MM.  I have a large amount of AP and a nice wittle shot speed.. My crit isn’t as high as some, and neither is my dodge, but I get by.  Kenny usually is picking up 1/3 of the damage I do at this point, so I don’t think that is so bad.

Your Priest is Holy (and receives an official Matticus seal of approval) and you have a Hunter. Which do you enjoy playing the most?

I’m not really sure.  I think that I actually feel like I have less to worry about as a Priest. It is almost a relief not to have to send in/out the pet of ultimate destruction, trap, kite, misdirect, time the shots, etc… I DO love me my hunter though.  He was my first, and you know how it is with your first…

So why did you level a Priest instead of a Paladin, a Druid, or a Shaman?

The guild had a couple of healing Paladins and a couple of healing Druids and a healing Shaman.  All of our priests had switched specs to SP or Disc and there was need for a Holy Priest. Soooo.. being the oh so good Guild Samaratin that I am (cough, cough), I leveled my priest.
Actually, to buck the trend when TBC came out, I rolled a Draenei Priest.  Everyone was rolling Draenei Shaman and I wanted to be different. He was really just for me to play with and have fun, thus his name, Fhuun…
I am actually leveling a Druid also right now, she is level 61 (yeah.. SHE). Right now she is a Boooooomkin and I’m enjoying it.  Might eventually go Feral tank, might eventually go tree.. Who knows! That is the beauty of da Drood.

How has 2008 been so far for you and your blog? Any upcoming features or highlights that your audience can look forward to?

2008 has been super-dee-duper.  Having joined up with the Blog Azeroth community has been a blast! I have also moved my blog to a "self-hosted" environment and that has sucked all my time down the drain..
I have gotten a lot of new readers from the community and I’ve loved that people (you guys!) have started to leave comments.. It is pretty satisfying when you ask a question and get answers!
Upcoming features?  Well, I really would like to get more into the "Addon Reviews".  I am an Addon Whore..  I don’t have as many as some, but generally I’m the one everyone in my guild comes to with addon questions. I try to keep up with the latest styles and trends and I’d love to share that with my readers.

Speed Questions

Favorite Quote

I’m pretty partial to the double quote ("), but on occasion I use a single quote (‘) when necessary.

Most used spell:

Well, on my Priest it has to be Heal.. Hunter? Does Scatter Shot count? (Hmm.. maybe it is Rez Pet…)

Favourite song:

Serenity by Godsmack (for the moment, I am a fickle pickle)

Warcraft is like ______:

Heroin (but kinda in a good way… maybe.. maybe… can I go back to playing now?  please? please? please? please?… hey! give me back my keyboard! HEY!!!! I can’t play without that! WHAT IS THE !*@$!&@$ VENT INFO????  AAAAAGHAGHGHAGHGHAGHHGAHAG)

Worse class to play against 

Slicka the Wonderdrone… What? That’s not an answer?  Well.. When I HAVE done PvP, I really have come to hate Rogues.  Stupid stunlock… mumble mumble..

Aside from WoW, do you play any sports or engage in any hobbies?

Sports, ok… Watching Football on TV.  Watching Baseball on TV.  Watching my son play Baseball.
Hobbies, well… Other than the obvious computer gaming, I also am into console gaming (SURPRISE!) and I like to read books (which are those big rectangular things that look like a bound stack of paper). But I try to spend most of my free time (well, when I am not playing WoW) with my family

I’m bad at managing my schedule and time. Any ideas to help a poor sap?

Um… Sleep is for the weak?  I went to a school where sleep was considered a nuisance. Make sure you have fun in school!  All nighters are fun!  I didn’t have something like WoW while I was in school, but I did spend most of my time NOT doing my school work. 

Ehhh… I’m really not a good role model when it comes to time management.. :P

Your 3 favourite shows on TV:

American Idol… uh, no…  Don’t watch too much TV.. Here is what I get to watch:
1) Scooby Doo
2) Ben 10
3) Dora the Explorer

(I also like CSI [NY and Vegas mostly] and Eureka and old episodes of SG1)

One thing you would say to others who have a desire to blog:

Have fun and write for you. You can’t always please everyone, but you SHOULD always be able to please yourself. If people see you enjoy what you write about, you will get an audience. 

But then again, what do I know?

Shout outs to:

I like to give a shout out to my awesome guild.  They keep me in this masochistic game. Also to the Blog Azeroth community, especially the stupendous BAChat peeps.. Too many to name, but you know whom you is. I really must thank you for throwing me under this bus… Don’t think the favor won’t be returned.. MUAHAHA HAHAAHA!  … *cough*.. Ahem… Sorry…

Thanks again to Fimlys for agreeing to do the interview! Don’t forget to subscribe to his blog!