Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Rohan

It’s been quite a long time since I last featured a blogger from the community. My fault though as I’ve been wrapped up in so many projects and works. But I do plan on getting back to these when I can especially now that my schedule has cleared up a bit. The blogger we’re looking at today is Rohan of Blessing of Kings

 So who exactly are you and what do you do?

My name is Rohan, and I’m a software developer in Vancouver, Canada. I work on financial software, usually in Java. It’s pretty dry and boring, really. Rounding numbers is the bane of my existence.

MMO-wise, I’m a PvE raider, currently playing a Holy Paladin in WoW, and an Imperial Agent Sniper in The Old Republic.

What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger?

Probably the posts that try to examine “why” we do what we do in games. This is the part of MMOs that most interests me, how human behavior reacts to the rules of the game. And then how the rules of game get modified in reaction to that behavior.

Where can we find your work?

My writing is on my site, Blessing of Kings.

Productivity

 How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?

I write mainly opinion pieces, so there’s not a whole lot of research involved, other than just reading what all the internet news is and what other people are writing. And also thinking through posts in my head. Probably an average of an hour a day or so.

 How do you prepare yourself before blogging?

I mainly just sit down and start writing. I’ll have the general idea of a post in my head, usually because it has been percolating for a few days.

I do try to maintain a list of ideas for posts, but inevitably I find reasons to ignore the remaining ideas on the list.

How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?

Heh, this is something I’m not very good at. I’m a terrible procrastinator. The key I’ve found is just to start writing, and try to get into a routine. I tend to write steadily for a stretch, then “fall off the wagon” for a week or two.

Also, don’t try to perfect the idea in your head. The moment you start writing the idea changes. The thoughts in your head always change when they hit the paper.

When is the best time of day for you to blog?

I generally write posts at about 9pm or so. That’s really just when I have the block of free time available. Plus it’s nice and quiet, and you get the post up in time for the next day when everyone comes into work and checks the internet.

The downside of this is that the post never gets edited properly. I always notice tons of mistakes when I go to check it the next morning.

How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging? How many days a week?

Ideally, I would write a post each day. In reality, I probably average 3 posts a week. Each post takes about half an hour, so 1.5 hours a week. I would like to get it up to 3.5 hours or so.

Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?

Blogging-wise, I am a fan of Megan McArdle. She writes about a wide variety of subjects in a fairly dispassionate way that is unusual for writers who touch on politics. In particular, I find she is one of the few mainstream writers who is willing to outline the trade-offs inherent in every question.

That “dispassion” and attention to trade-offs is something that I aspire to in my writing.

As for authors, my favorite is probably Lois McMaster Bujold. I adore her books, and she has a knack for writing pithy quotes that just seem to sum up and contain a great amount of wisdom.

What quote best defines you?

Lately, I have been strongly influenced by the following quote from G. K. Chesterton’s The Thing:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious.

John F. Kennedy summarized it as:

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up.”

What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?

I don’t listen to music while writing. I’m not very good at multi-tasking. I find that when I’m focused on writing I end up tuning out any music that is playing. So I don’t really bother with music.

Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?

I am thinking about starting a blog about real-life topics. But I don’t really like to make really controversial posts about topics that matter (as opposed to videogames), so I don’t think anything is going to happen with that.

I would like to be able to make graphs and simple illustrations more easily. Walls of text are all very well, but a good illustration is very useful. Unfortunately, my attempts at illustrations seem to take an inordinate amount of time. I am very envious of those people who can dash up quick sketches.

How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?

Just sit down and write something trivial. You never know where an idea is going to take you once you start writing it down. Also, don’t underestimate “trivial” posts. They’re often the posts that the audience relates to the most.

Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?

My favorite technique is to go down my blogroll and read the latest posts. When I find a post that I’d like to comment on, instead of commenting on that site, I write up the comment as a post on my site, linking to the original post.

Not only does this provide an easy post, but the other blogger will like it, as getting linked by someone else is always nice. In some ways, it helps build the community.

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?

I’m a total coward when it comes to real-life controversial topics. (In-game controversies are another matter.)

On blogging

How would you define a truly great blogger?

Someone who writes fairly often, and writes posts which are interesting to read. I read primarily for new ideas, so I like people who introduce new ideas or new ways of looking at things.

What platform do you blog on?

I use Blogger, which is Google’s free platform. It’s simple and easy to use. It doesn’t allow you as much control as some of the other options. However, I feel that you get the best results from writing more, rather than tinkering with your site.

Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?

Kurn and Liore, definitely. I do try to keep up with pretty much everyone on my blogroll.

But I’d like to specifically call out Gevlon at Greedy Goblin. He gets a lot of flak in the blogosphere, but there are three reasons I enjoy reading his posts:

  1. I really admire how fearless he is about writing about controversial topics. As I’ve noted above, I shy away from controversial topics. I rather wish I could be more like Gevlon and not care about the prevailing orthodoxies.

  2. He has genuinely new ideas and ways of looking at things. I don’t always agree with his perspective, but it is a unique perspective on things, at least among the bloggers.

  3. I find that I usually agree with Gevlon at the start of a post, but by the end of the post I  disagree with him. I am never quite sure if this is because Gevlon took a wrong turn somewhere, or because I am unwilling to follow the argument to the logical conclusion.

Is there a specific program you use for blogging?

No, I just use the editor with Blogger. I am technically inclined, so I have no issues with dropping down into HTML, which does make some things a little easier.

Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task?

I don’t multi-task well, so I tend to tune out any distractions until my task is finished. My problem is procrastination, and not starting the task at all.

What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?

The biggest problem I have is that I will get “stuck” on a post. I’ll have an idea for a post, but it isn’t fully fledged, or is more controversial than I am comfortable with posting. So I’ll try and write about something else, but my mind stays stuck on that post, and it’s all I can think about.

Have any strategies on staying organized?

Not really. Try to keep things simple. Juggling many things is a lot harder than only needing to worry about a couple things. Making lists is always useful.

How do you unwind after your day is over?

I play video games, specifically Massively Multiplayer Online games. I also read a fair bit, mostly science fiction, fantasy, and older regency novels.

For fun

What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?

Twitter. I hate trying to trace Twitter “t.co/HASH” links to my site back to the original tweet.

Actually, I’m growing somewhat disenchanted with the way the web is closing off as a whole into walled gardens. I can see people linking to my site from Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, but it’s really hard to see the specific reaction. In contrast, I can follow a link back to a normal site, see their discussion of my ideas, and respond. It’s all about feedback. I can use the feedback from the “normal” web to refine my ideas, but Facebook, et al, are just black boxes.

Do you have a slogan that you adhere to?

No.

What has been your proudest achievement?

I don’t really know.

Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with.

I’m always thrown for loop by these types of questions. I can’t help but think about the celebrity’s reaction to having dinner with me.

Albert Einstein: I developed the theory of Special and General Relavity, and won a Nobel Prize.

Me: I write blog posts about elves.

Seems very unequal, and probably an awkward dinner for the both of us.

My attitude towards celebrities is the same as my attitude towards bears. I will leave the bears alone, and the bears will leave me alone.

What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?

I’d like to get out more, maybe leave my city more often. I’d also like to program a bit more, do some simple side projects in some of the newer languages like Erlang or Go.

You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?

Get fixed in the habit of writing one post every day. Buy Apple stock. Don’t take the job with the mobile gaming company or the real estate company.

Also, pay more attention to the high end raiders, and don’t try to fight against theorycraft results. You won’t truly learn to raid effectively until you’ve raided with the high end, and so you should aim to join them as soon as possible, because you’ll really enjoy efficient, competent raiding.

Where can readers find you online?

Mostly at my blog, Blessing of Kings.

What else would you like readers to know?

I’m really not very good with these wide-open questions. My mind simply blanks out.

Thanks to Rohan for taking the time out of his day to help offer a behind the scenes look at his blogging process and methods! Don’t forget to visit his blog at Blessing of Kings!

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Liore

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Liore

Today we talk to MMO veteran Liore. She’s been around the block when it comes to MMOs (WoW, SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, Rift, you name it). Her blog has been around for a long time and she’s still going strong (Since at least 2009?). She has since started contributing to Rift Junkies and WildStar Junkies.

So who exactly are you and what do you do?

I’m Liore! By day I write user manuals and banner ads, and by night I make stuff for the internet about video games.

What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger?

I mostly write opinion pieces. I have a lot of opinions.

Where can we find your work?

The blog and podcast are at my site, Herding Cats. I’m also a Staff Writer for RIFT Junkies and WildStar Junkies.

Art of Productivity

How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?

I don’t do a lot of research specifically for posts although I do read a lot. I listen to podcasts on my work commute, and watch Let’s Plays instead of television. My Twitter feed is full of game stuff, and I hang out on IRC all day with smart people who are also gamers. I guess you could say it’s kind of an organic research process.

How do you prepare yourself before blogging?

My mantra is basically, “Why am I writing this?” and if I can’t answer that in a sentence then I know the post needs to roll around in my head more.

How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?

Routine! Try to set a realistic routine, and accept that writing X times a week is just what you do now.

When is the best time of day for you to blog?

I do the actual writing at the office during lunch. It’s a good time for me — I’ve had coffee, I’m sitting in front of a computer, and I’ve warmed up my brain with work stuff.

How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging?

I don’t spend that much time actually writing. Maybe 20 minutes per post, with 20 minutes of editing. I spend way more time editing than writing.

How many days a week?

Ideally 3 times a week, or twice plus a podcast.

Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?

It feels silly to say my “inspirations” because, like, I write nonsense about video games, but the works of Hunter S. Thompson, Molly Ivins, and David Sedaris have strongly influenced my writing style.

What quote best defines you?

“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles

What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?

For the most part I can’t listen to music when I write. I find the lyrics distracting. If I’m listening to anything it’s probably Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack because there are only a few words and it’s a hell of an album.

Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Video. Seriously, I love the written word like crazy but I think in 10 years time we’ll all be watching videos instead of reading blogs.. which sucks because one of the best parts of blogging is that you can do it in your underwear while wearing a ridiculous hat.

How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?

Remember that not every post has to be a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to just write 25 words and post a great video you found.

Follow up: Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?

I only recommend this if you are in the direst of straits, but if I’m totally out of ideas I’ll go start reading some big MMO’s official forum. It usually doesn’t take long before I see something that irritates me so much I want to write a post about it.

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?

Ooooh. You know, I try to not shy away from topics because it feels intellectually dishonest to me to not talk about something that I strongly believe, and I like to think that adding my voice to controversial topics contributes in some small fashion. That being said I try to write about them in an approachable way because that’s kind of why I blog — to participate in conversations about stuff.

Art of Blogging

How would you define a truly great blogger?

Consistent, opinionated, interested, and great with a turn of phrase.

What platform do you blog on?

Self-hosted WordPress.

Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?

Kurn mentioned Blessing of Kings in her interview, and I think Rohan has been hugely influential in the MMO blogging community. The Ancient Gaming Noob (tagn.wordpress.com/) is not only an interesting read but also Wilhelm posts more frequently than the rest of us put together. Right now the blog I’m most excited to see update is In An Age (inanage.com). Azuriel plays totally different games than I do for the most part, but he always has interesting things to say and I like his style.

Is there a specific program you use for blogging?

Not really. I write into Notepad++ or EditPlus and then copy it into WordPress.

Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task?

Honestly, I don’t. Hell, I’m watching a movie and playing Candy Crush while I answer this question! I just really enjoy writing and podcasting, so somehow it gets done.

What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?

I’m too Canadian! Seriously, I have a hard time being forceful when I want to. It feels like I’m writing, “I think it’s really stupid when games do X” and then I read it later and it’s more like, “I’m sorry, I kind of don’t like X but it’s okay if you do because games are fun yay!”

Have any strategies on staying organized?

Inbox Zero. Love it. Live it.

How do you unwind after your day is over?

Foreign reality shows on YouTube! MasterChef Australia, Project Catwalk — everyone is always so nice and I like watching talented people do their thing.

Art of fun

What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?

Under otherwise: the lack of empathy in “internet culture”.

What has been your proudest achievement?

This is more “most recent” than “proudest”, but I just got confirmed for a Media Pass at PAX Prime. Putting aside for a moment the many complaints that people have about Penny Arcade (and I wouldn’t disagree with them), getting in a position to apply for the pass took good effort and I’m proud of it. They’re letting me interview developers! How crazy is that?!

Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with.

Geoffrey Chaucer and Francis Bean Cobain.

What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?

I love doing the podcast, so I want to play with that some more. Also video! I have plans to do my first full-on Let’s Play in August with a partner (Saint’s Row IV, aw yiss) which should be a lot of fun.

You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?

I started my first blog in 2000, but I’d tell myself to start blogging about games sooner. I came in at the tail end of WotLK, and I’m perpetually sorry that I missed the glory days of monolithic WoW blogs.

Where can readers find you online?

Blog: http://www.lioreblog.com
Podcast: http://www.lioreblog.com/catcontextpodcast
RIFT Junkies: http://rift.junkiesnation.com/
WildStar Junkies: http://wildstar.junkiesnation.com/

What else would you like readers to know?

I once killed 24 of my guild’s finest raiders by starting the Magtheridon fight early and locking them in. And I regret nothing.

Thanks for sharing your battlestation with us, Liore!

lioredesk

 

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

I jumped on an opportunity to speak with Derevka about the upcoming expansion and his thoughts on the priest class in general. We chatted about the state of both healing specs, raiding encounters in Mists, and spell usage.  Keep on reading for the full interview.

Matt: Hey Derevka, it’s been a while. You’ve recently picked up activity again on your blog, Tales of a Priest after taking a brief reprieve earlier in the year. You’ve especially been hard at work lobbying for some priest changes like Chakra and have put in some research on the mana regen talents.  So what do you think is the biggest change for priests leaping from Cataclysm to Mists, in your opinion?

Derevka: Tricky question, since I’d argue that Priests were affected least by the onslaught of changes that came in MOP— at least from a class mechanic standpoint. For the most part our healing strategy will be ‘more of the same’. Perhaps the biggest change in Mists will be how we look at mana. First and foremost we need to realize that once we hit 90, we will not be getting any more mana. 300,000 is our pool. Period.

Mana pools, since they do not scale, will be something we need to really keep an eye on. For example, Greater Heal in quest greens costs the same amount of mana that it does in full epic T14. The only thing that will scale is our ability to regen mana via spirit. We will need to balance spirit and know when we have too much or too little. Mana is a zero-sum game.

Purely spamming Prayer of Healing will quickly have you running out of mana; we’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents. It could be a steep learning curve for some who are too used to the Dragon Soul era of mana and are unfamiliar with mana management.

We’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents.

M: Yeah, I found that out the hard way having to put Heal back in my bars again. Have you figured out any numbers for Spirit benchmarks or what we’ll need to hit at different stages of character progression? For example, how much are we going to need to adequately heal through heroic dungeons, challenge modes, or entry level raids?

D: Spirit numbers are tricky, as it really depends on your healing style. I will say that we’re going to want spirit on pretty much all of our gear in the first tier of raiding. Gone are the days of equipping non-spirit/dual stat gear!

For those who remember MP5 as a stat, think of spirit in that manner — it provides zero throughput: Just pure regen. We’ll have the ability to trade off spirit (via reforging) for throughput stats pretty easily, but it’ll depend on what your comfort level is. Personally, I would suggest being cautious with mana at first, and then pair back my regen instead of gasping for mana but my heals hit like a truck. It’ll be a fun balancing act, and will depend on individual healing style.

kite

M: What do you feel is the go-to Priest spec?

D: Hard question as they both provide some great tools and flavor. If I had to knee-jerk a response, I am going to say Holy. Holy always does well early in an expansion as it is arguably the least reliant on combat stats of the two  priest healing specs. I say this because Disc gets a good deal of it’s output from Divine Aegis. DA, apart from POH, is created by critical heals In low iLvl gear (aka Fresh 90’s) you’ll have innately lower crit chance due to less available Intellect on gear, and stats.  Now, do not misconstrue me and say “Derevka said to stack crit as disc at 90!” … No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that you’ll innately have lower critical strike due to your intellect and available crit, thus causing the creation of Divine Aegis more difficult (ie. 5 mans).

M: With that in mind, what does Discipline need to get itself back up to comparable level with Holy?

I do not think Disc is in a bad place at all. I think that Holy will just have an easier time early in the level 90 gear grind, only because Disc has a more strict gear requirement than Holy. Disc will be very powerful, particularly since it still has Barrier and access to the new Spirit Shell. Spirit Shell could be one of “those abilities” that winds up getting nerfed when used  “creatively”. I do worry that Spirit Shell will be used to bypass boss abilities. I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well. Remember people using Guardian Spirit to avoid Valiona’s Blackout in Heroic Bastion of Twilight? This could potentially be used similarly. Time will tell.  Spirit Shell is going to be perfect for those places where you would have POH/DA prepared the raid… except now, all that POH healing will be Spirit Shells!

I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well.

scenario

M: In a previous conversation, we were talking about Mastery and how the points have changed. Do you consider haste the primary secondary stat for Holy with Mastery and Crit right behind it? What about Discipline?

D: Yes, Mastery should be a bit more transparent when it comes to its benefits on the character sheet. It’ll be much easier to understand now that they have streamlined the stat conversion straight to percentage gained.

That said, it is hard to provide a concrete statweight since a number of our spells are in flux when it comes to combat stat ratings; specifically regarding what affects them and what does not.  As of build 17882, we have Holy Word: Sanctuary now being affected by haste, which has me concerned, I did the math and its not good news– but it may be a bug. That said, since HW: Sanctuary is being affected by Haste, it does make breakpoints something to keep in mind. I have calculated the required Haste Rating for each Spell’s Breakpoint and will be publishing those numbers shortly. I do not think we’ll be ‘chasing breakpoints’ in MoP, but keeping them in mind will be critical–We’ll want to know where they are, so we can ensure we aren’t so close that we should change a gem or two. I do not think we’ll be gearing to get that additional HW: Sanctuary tick.

However, a Hymn tick on the other hand…

Preliminary simming is going to put Haste/Mastery pretty close to one another for Holy; however it will depend on how you heal. Are you going to be constantly spamming? Are you going to be weaving in more Power Word: Solaces? Are you going to burst heal and then slow down to regen? Are you single target healing? These all have different impacts to your statweights. If forced to chose, I would probably suggest gearing for enough Haste (raidbuffed) for the added Hymn (both), Renew tick and for a 10th Sanctuary tick… then Mastery. We’ll likely have a good deal of mastery  since a lot of the cloth drops and craftables are covered in it!

Discipline will enjoy Mastery since it now has a 3rd spell that benefits from it: Spirit Shell. Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Spirit Shell will all scale from Mastery. More simming will be needed to be done to get these stats, but for the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

For the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

M: Level 90 talents. What do you think about each of them and what’s going to be your standard level 90 talent?

D: For raiding? Hands down, Cascade. I like them all (even beyond just the visuals). Halo is nice, but requires too much positional tweaking to make it really solid and is too expensive and too long a cooldown to be reliable. Divine Star will be great in 5 mans (I know I’ve used it a lot in heroics), and will work well in raids that have you all grouped up (a la Ultraxion). However, Cascade has proven to be the strongest for me in the test raids I’ve done. Even on 10 man— remember Cascade will hit 15 targets, and 10 man raids do not have 15 targets typically (pets).

halo

M: What about raid encounters? How about some previews for healing?

Hard to really nail this down simply. At the moment, some of the 10-man encounters have been wildly undertuned. For example, we accidentally killed Lei Shi in the Terrace of the Endless Spring due to dots when we tried to wipe/reset to get more testing/logs on the fight. Oops! Heroic Testing has just started, but has some promise to be challenging.

I will say that there are going to be some head nods to old encounters. Garalon, for example,  has a Professor Putricide-esque ability requiring you to pass a DoT/Debuff around via proximity. Not “recycled” content, but certainly some “oh this reminds me of X!”.

The one that I liked the most was Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. It is one of those fights that has different abilities in each phase of the fight, and then the final phase has all the abilities active at once. I enjoy these “progressive fights”; fights in which you learn how to manage and heal each phase, and then you have a capstone in the final phase.

M: Oh man, I love Professor Putricide. Always made jokes about who was dirty and who wasn’t. Vizier sounds something like Mimiron. If I remember right, most of these encounters were for normal mode and purely for testing of mechanics.

That’s correct as the only testing so far is Normal and it really was about testing mechanics. But the tuning of the mechanics are still important. Again, if you look at Lei Shi, you’ll see the latest patch notes took that feedback and increased some of the damage she does. Hopefully she won’t be quite the pinata she proved to be originally!

M: How much will I need to work Solace into my “rotation” (for lack of a better term) to see sizeable gains along the lines of mana hymn or fiend?

D: First, I’d be remiss not to ask people to calm down about Solace. People are really getting panicked over Solace. Yes, Solace provides the most regen potential, but there is a cost to that.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. Those GCDs have an opportunity cost. It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is. It might mean the tank takes a couple of melee swings and goes without a heal for 2-3 seconds. You’re going to have to heal that back up, but is the cost worth it? That is the question you need to ask yourself.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. [...] It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is.

Now, as far as how do you need to work Solace into rotation? You’ll want to find the gaps in damage–which can be hard the first time you see an encounter. I strongly suggest macroing PW:Solace with a mouseover/assist macro. This will allow you to simply hover over a DPS/Tank and Solace their target, all while not losing your current target (like the tank).

For PW: Solace to work out equal to Mindbender (assuming you’re also using Shadowfiend on CD) you’ll need to do 3-4  per minute (current build has it restoring 1.5%). Its actually 3.555/minute but remember its in aggregate. If for the first minute you got only 1 Solace in, to be on par by the end of minute 2, you’ll need to have 6 during minute number 2. Here is a link to an article I put together outlining how these talents work, and specifically how the granularity of the spells can work to your advantage.
I promise you, finding those GCD’s isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You just need to find the places to do it and weigh the opportunity cost.

divine-star

M: Right, yeah. I mean if we had access to Solace right now, we’d use it on Tendon phases during Spine (oh gosh, wouldn’t that just be so awesome to have right now?). In contrast, relying on Solace on Zon’ozz while the ball is active and bouncing around is probably a bad idea since you run the risk of losing players.

D: Yep! Finding the appropriate spots to use Solace will be the marker of a priest using it correctly. Of course, given that its clearly been under the watchful eyes of Blizzard and has been kept in check… 3-4 casts per min (in aggregate) is not a meaningless number as there may be fights where that much non-healing time is too much. However, if the Normal tests so far are any indication, you should be able to find time to cast Solace if you look for it.

Players and guilds are in a flux right now. This is going to be the time where players will be jumping around different guilds and M: situating themselves for Mists. Any advice for a 10 man Priest making the switch to 25 man and what they can expect with MoP raids?

D: 25 man raids will be interesting in MoP. I do not want to turn this into an argument about which is harder or if 25’s are dying. However, 25 man raids will have a challenge on a number of fights based purely on available real estate. A few of the fights seem to be reliant on spacing aspects like spreading out and grouping (even more so on Heroic, when looking at the Dungeon Journal). With the same square footage in the boss encounter, 25 man raids could find themselves in a position where they simply run out of space.

Healers in a 25 man raid, always need to be sure they do not have “I’m the Hero Syndrome”.

I’ve seen this happen to a number of healers when making the switch from 10s to 25s. They simply do not rely on the other 4-5 healers on their team and either: deviate from assignment, go OOM from being inefficient, or ignore instruction. You really need to work as a team in 25s, arguably more so than in 10s as you have substantially more people working with you, and covering potentially greater areas.

Be the uni-mind.

M: Let’s talk about our favourite spell Lightwell. There’s a certain cost/benefit between having it clickable vs having it firing off when player health drops below 50%. Are you going to leave yours glyphed or unglyphed?

D: Well since Lightwell and Lightspring both are healing for the same amount, the only added benefit of not Glyphing Lightspring, is that you can control its output (assuming players click it) . However, there are not many Major Glyphs we can choose from and I predict this being the glyph that we will run 95% of the time, with the 5% of the time on fights that you will ‘order’ your raid to click it at a specific time (such as Chimaeron’s Feud).

Lightspring will be ‘what’s expected’ and running it unglyphed, you likely will hear “I thought it was lightspring and would auto heal me!”

lightwell

M: We were chatting briefly about the lack of Holy glyphs. It seems that there’s a certain 3-4 glyphs that are the most optimal for Holy right now. What spells would you like to see affected by glyphs for extra or altered functionality?

D: If I were to have a wish list? Whoo, boy. I’d like a glyph to allow us to channel Hymns while moving. I hate casting HoH and then having something spawn under my feet! Or perhaps something that makes Spirit of Redemption useful? I’ve always hated a talent that only is used if you die/fail. Perhaps remove the “on death” and grant something useful like an on-use throughput increase. (See Also: Archangel, Tree of Life, Ascendance, and Divine Favor)

M: Alright, that’s all I have for you, Derevka! It’s good chatting with you again and thanks for taking time out of your schedule to offer your thoughts on (what is clearly) the best class in the game. Bonus: Your MoP release date guess?

D: Well, we are in the potential final stages of testing heroic raids! I would imagine another 2-3 weeks of raid  testing before we get a date. I also will assume they’re going to test LFR as well. If I were to bet, we’ll have a release date when they debut the opening cinematic at Gamescom.

I am hoping the launch date isn’t in the two weeks where I have a vacation and big work conference in September. With that in mind I am going to say 10/2/12–but I will hope it lands before. My raid team has already been tired of farming Heroic DS since February! We want something fresh, and I know many people share that opinion!

Where’s my panda?!

An Interview with Ferrel, Author of The Guild Leader’s Companion

After reviewing The Guild Leader’s Companion, I wanted to gain a little more insight from Ferrel about guild leadership.

How about a brief introduction about who you are and what you do?

Hello there! I’m Adam Trzonkowski but most people know me as Ferrel.

First and foremost I’m a raid junkie and guild leader. I’ve been raiding since around 1999 and leading the same guild (in its numerous forms) since about 2004/2005. Somewhere in that stretch of time I started to write on our guild website and eventually morphed that into Epic Slant, my design and leadership blog. That is where I found my inspiration to start my novels. In that place we call reality I’m just a boring engineer.

What were the factors that motivated you to become a guild leader?

I never really wanted to be a guild leader. I did have the privilege of dealing with a few horrible ones. When I got to Iniquity in EQ2 the officers saw potential in me and asked for me to be an officer. I agreed and eventually we decided to bump our absent, non-raiding, non-max-level, paying-a-teenager-to-level-his-character guild leader out of office. We talked it over and I drew the long (or short) straw.

Can you share any good lesson-learning stories throughout your years as an officer or as a guild leader?

I guess the story that I tell the most is a really personal one. It basically teaches the lesson of never giving up. In the early EQ2 days we were raiding Darathar. Our guild was the only one working on him on the server and very few had killed him worldwide. We had been pretty unlucky on gear drops and our main tank was missing this one bracelet that literally reduced all damage types (the only item like it at the time). We had been working on him eight hours a day for a week and our morale was low.

I played with my main tank and one of our main DPS in person and on the fifth night the tank looked at me and said, “We’re not going to win. We don’t have the gear. It is time to call it.” This was a tough thing to deal with. I’m in person with two friends. I took the approach I think is right. I looked at him and said, “That is too bad because we’re going to kill him with what we have so buck up and get back to it.” He and the DPS were obviously upset with me but I felt like we had to do it. The best part is, we killed him that night!

In your mind, what is the single most important aspect a truly brilliant guild leader needs to possess?

Positivism at all times. Players respond far better to a positive leader than a negative one. If you are positive and confident your members will be, too. Positive raid teams and guilds last far longer. Believe me, I know. I used to think being a guild leader meant being Furor or that “more DoTs” guy. The truth is, they’re doing it horribly wrong.

What is the optimal method when it comes to delivering feedback for underperforming players? How do you squeeze more out of them?

To be honest, at this point, I don’t do individual counselling anymore. We use a completely positive method in Iniquity now so to be honest, we do everything at the macro level now. If the DPS is short I just tell them I have faith they can do more and ask them to. Thus far, every time I ask, they give it to me. I praise what we do right, ask for more, and we succeed.

What is your biggest frustration or pet peeve when it comes to leading guilds?

I really dislike the attitude of people that assume guild leadership isn’t leadership. I’ve seen someone “take exception” to using the term guild leader. I’ve managed people in MMORPGs and in reality and all of the skills are the exact same. If it weren’t for MMORPGs I would have never become a leader in reality. The skills transferred so successfully that my raid career has impacted my engineering career in completely positive ways.

Have you had a chance to try out SWTOR?

I was in the beta and was not impressed at all. The game was good; I’m not suggesting otherwise. It just wasn’t “new.” It was just prototypical MMO + Star Wars. I’m also horribly addicted to Rift’s class system. I play healers and I loathe being backed into a corner as someone who can’t do anything but heal. Rift lets me raid heal and smash face. 

Let’s talk about the book, the Guild Leader’s Companion. One of the golden rules you mentioned is that you can never please everyone all of the time. What is the next best achievable goal after that?

The most important goal is to achieve your own (realistic) happiness. That sounds selfish but how can you lead and be positive if you’re miserable? Once you’re happy and positive you can start trying to keep the majority of the guild feeling the same way. That tends to work well and if someone gets upset they find solace in their guild mates.

What are your thoughts on multi gaming organizations/guilds?

It takes a huge commitment but is just taking guilds to another level. Perfectly fine and fun if you’re willing to put in the work. We focus on a more intimate group so it wouldn’t work for us but I think a good guild is a good guild whether it is in one game or twelve.

You mention that one of the big obstacles in MMOs is the fact that egos can often get in the way. How would you recommend dealing with them?

Lead by example. If you and your officers have an ego it rubs off on others. I don’t have a public ego anymore. When I screw up I call it. I make fun of myself. I tease my officers when we mess up. It takes the level of tension down so much. We also focus on the macro level as I said. It is hard to get an ego when we praise the team rather than the individuals.

And finally, the Guild Leader’s Companion has been out for a while now. What other projects are you working on (if any)? Can you share anything?

The Guild Leader’s Companion was my first book and I’m both proud and ashamed of it. I have had a lot of growth as a leader, writer, and publisher since I wrote it. On the last one (publisher) I would say a TON of growth. I want to go back through the GLC and change it up some. I’m actually working on that now with a fusion book. It is more of a book on leadership and team building that is applicable to MMORPGs and uses them as examples but works in any place. One of the curious things about the GLC was that some of the business people in my office liked it enough that they wanted a “non-gaming” version. I hope to meet them halfway.

Beyond that I just finished up The Raider’s Companion (it is actually available now). That is my effort to teach new players how to raid and show old raiders new tricks. We get set in our ways and eventually something new comes along that makes us go, “wow, I wish I had known that.” I’m offering a different perspective on raiding because at this point I’ve done almost all of it. I’ve been a server-first raider. I’ve been a world competitor. I’ve been ultra-casual. I’ve been ten-man. Now I’m current-tier-content. All of those different experiences gave me the chance to borrow what I feel works from each. I also know I can learn more! So I wrote The Raider’s Companion to share my experiences and stimulate ideas.

Thank you for the opportunity, Ferrel!

Friends, be sure to congratulate him on his recent engagement! Remember to check out and subscribe to his blog!

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.

epic-advice-1

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.

epic-advice-3

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.

Blizzard Reads Kestrel’s Aerie (Priest Changes for 3.1)

I don’t have much time. I’m rushing a quick post before I head to school (Delivering a 10 minute presentation on Forensic sciences). I’ll publish a post later with my thoughts on it. I am absolutely creaming my pants right now. When I alerted Wyn, she was virtually speechless as well. In case you haven’t seen them, here they are on WoW Insider. I wanted to point your attention to something though. Last year, I had the opportunity to do an interview with Kestrel (of his self titled Aerie). In it, he asked me what I thought the 51 point talent would be.

 

kestrel-int

Turns out I was wrong. It would end up being Penance. But look at the recent blue posts for Priests!

blizz-pwbarrier

Well, well, well. Will you look at that! A talent named Power Word: Barrier that’s a shield effect! I’m predicting it’s going to be replacing the spot where Diving Spirit is. But Kestrel my man, this is proof that Blizzard reads your blog, eh?

Interview: Holy Priest vs Discipline Priest

Interview: Holy Priest vs Discipline Priest

priest-compare

I had an idea the other day to interview two healing Priests of different specs. I wanted to see what choices they make under similar circumstances. Figured it would be fun to ask them both identical questions to determine where the differences started between them! Hopefully this post will help shed some light for Priests that are still mulling over what spec to select for in end game.

Where did I find my Priests from? The Plusheal forums naturally!

Questions Yaxley (Discipline) Deklen (Holy)
First, a brief introduction about yourself: My character is Yaxley, a discipline priest. I’m an officer of the Apostles of the Phoenix raiding guild. I am an officer and healing leader of the guild Phoenix Rising on Mannoroth (US) in which I play a Dwarf Priest named Deklen.
What is your current level of progression? I’ve cleared Obsidian Sanctum 10/25 (no drakes up), Naxx 10/25, and Malygos 10. Currently working on Malygos 25. Phoenix Rising has successfully completed all 10 man content and has completed all 25 man content with the exception of Malygos (We plan to start attempts on him this coming week).
What factors influenced your choice to pick your spec? I felt discipline was a more challenging spec than holy, and when the new talents were announced for 3.0, I was very intrigued. I liked the concept of almost having a healing rotation with many spells to choose from that integrate well together. I really enjoy the diversity of healing spells available to priests, and holy priests in particular. I enjoy the complexity that comes with having to choose the correct healing spell for the given situation.
What stats are the most important for you? Intellect is my most valuable stat, as it contributes to every aspect of my healing. A bigger mana pool means bigger returns from Rapture, Shadowfiend and Replenishment. It also boosts crit for more throughput and more Divine Aegis procs. Haste is what I look for second, but only until about 10%. After that I feel stacking it is hurting other stats. For the expansion, I have chosen to keep spirit at the top of my priority list when it comes to gear selection and augmentation; however, with that being said, I value Intellect much more so than during BC raiding. I reserve yellow sockets for Brilliant Autmn’s Glow, attempting to maintain some semblance of balance between spirit and intellect.
What trinkets are you presently using and how do they help? Right now I’m using the Egg of Mortal Essence from Emblems of Heroism along with Forge Ember from heroic Halls of Stone. I use the Egg mostly for the raw spell power, though the proc is a nice to have when it goes off. Forge Ember gives a nice hefty amount of crit and I love the proc for a nice spell power boost. I carry around a few other trinkets for different situations; I usually use Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon for long fights as Disc casts enough spells to make it worth a fair amount of regen. I am using the Majestic Dragon Figurine and the Spirit World Glass. The two trinkets provide excellent mana regen for boss encounters. Spirit World Glass really shines when there is predictable incoming damage in which I am able to pop the on use ability after a clearcasting proc, followed up an Inner Focus + Greater Heal to allow for maximum regen time spent OO5SR. If the full 20 seconds is spent not casting or "cheating" the rule, it usually will return about 35-40% of my 20k mana pool.
Your 3 top spells in order of usage on any given raid are: 1: Flash Heal,
2: Penance
3: Prayer of Mending.
1: Flash Heal
2: Circle of Healing
3: Prayer of Mending
Which raid encounter in the game is your favourite? Kel’Thuzad. There is a lot of action going on with a lot of situations where my quick single target heals and shields help. A lot of tank damage, as well as the ice blocks which require people to be healed quickly for a large amount. Sapphiron. The encounter really tests the healers both on raw healing power as well as their regen techniques/skills. In addition, the fight in particular showcases just how awesome bouncing Prayer of Mending can truly be.
What’s the worse? Heroic Thaddius. Its a boring fight when done correctly, and a painful fight with a long corpse run (with frogger slimes and pipe boss in between!) when not executed correctly. And if it were not for levitate I’m sure the Super Mario jump would make it even worse for me. Heroic Patchwerk. While there is some skill involved in trying to keep your mana going throughout the fight, I find little enjoyment in spamming Greater Heal on the MT/OT and praying they dont get 1 shot from a hateful strike. P.S. Holy Paladins are disgusting for this fight.
How do you handle AoE healing? In a five-man, Prayer of Healing is my spell of choice. In a raid, its not as useful as you need to heal outside your own group. As Disc you need to be more aware of who is taking damage and who is going to need the most help. I usually throw shields around the raid on every cooldown for the Borrowed Time buff, but I try to keep them on the tank and the squishiest members of the raid. Prayer of Mending on cooldown as well, this is especially useful during the Vortex in the Malygos encounter. Before casting an AoE healing ability I first determine what caused this person to be damaged, and if they are in close proximity to other players. If they are alone I usually cast a Flash Heal, if they are grouped up I would obviously cast Circle of Healing. In fights like Gluth and Loatheb though, I use Prayer of Healing considerably more (After decimate and when necrotic aura drops off, respectively).
How do you gem red, blue and yellow slots on your gear? Red: Luminous Monarch Topaz
Yellow: Luminous Monarch Topaz or Brilliant Autumn’s Glow (depending on if I’m losing spell power for other stats in an upgrade).
Blue: Seer’s gems
Red: Runed Scarlet Ruby (I dont believe the +Spirit/+Spell damage gem is in the game yet).
Blue: Sparkling Sky Sapphire
Yellow: Brilliant Autumn’s Glow
Your gut reaction to the Circle of Healing nerf is: I like it, as it brings Holy spec back in line with Discipline, where you need to choose your spells carefully. I’d rather they were more creative than using a cooldown, however, as CoH spam is useful in situations. But as it is now, it is useful in nearly all situations – which lead to one button healing. I don’t think it will be as bad as everyone is thinking it will be. Yes we will loose some AoE healing ability but those who spammed the spell mindlessly never really understood the true potential of priests and instead relied on a crutch. That being said, I will miss it!
What type of healing are you assigned to by your leaders when raiding (tank or raid, etc)? I’m assigned to the main tank or an off tank nearly 100% of the time. I still heal the raid from time to time when the boss is trying to break through my shield! Either myself or the GM are responsible for healing assignments, but I usually put myself on raid healing as we have a healthy supply holy paladins but only 1 restoration shaman and 1 restoration druid.
Do you enjoy playing your spec? Does it satisfy you? I love discipline spec. I’m not sure I could heal any other way. I’ve healed as a Holy Paladin and as a Resto Shaman in the past, and discipline definitely takes the monotony out of healing. Managing cooldowns and being smart about what spells to use used to be something relegated to DPS classes. Yes, I very much enjoy healing as a holy priest. As I said before, the diversity and complexity of healing abilities available to the priest is the reason I choose to heal and, ultimately, is what keeps me interested and entertained while healing.
What 1 piece of advice would you give other players who were to play your chosen talent specs? Don’t ever rely on healing meters to judge your performance. At least until Blizzard adds absorption amounts to the combat log. The biggest problem I have observed with new healers is their inability to observe and react. It is so easy to fall into the habit of tunnel visioning your raid frames that you forget to observe what exactly is happening around you.
If you could make one addition or change to your spec, what would it be? The obvious change would be more AoE healing tools, whether it be talents to modify Prayer of Healing or Holy Nova. But since that would be trespassing into Holy’s niche, I think more talents to make Renew useful to a Disc priest would be good. Perhaps allowing it to crit, or to be included in Rapture returns. I don’t believe I would change anything currently given the present PVE environment…PVP on the other hand is a different situation entirely though.

Special thanks to Yaxley and Deklen for participating!

Image courtesy of mmagallan

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!