Dragonflight: Plans & Thoughts

Howdy, folks! November is always a busy month for me. I’ve spent some time attempting to write 50,000 words of a novel for National Novel Writing Month, as per usual. (Let us not discuss how close or far I am from that goal.) I’ve also spent time running Wrath Classic dungeons with my brother, Fog, and have recorded a bunch of them. (The first is my breakdown of holy paladin talents in Wrath, but the rest are all videos of me running dungeons, mostly with Fog.)

So, I made the decision to buy Dragonflight, because… dragons, hello! Not even to just be a dracthyr evoker (we all know I love my hunter and paladin too much to seriously look at another class), but to see if WoW can keep me in “present times”. I had purchased Shadowlands and promptly hated everything about it. I hadn’t even finished the starter quest on Kurn, that’s how much I hated it. Apart from anything else, the level squish — which I understand on a logical level — really pissed me off. Why? Because, excuse you, Blizzard, Kurnmogh of Eldre’Thalas had been level 60 since sometime in 2005, thank you very kindly. The thought of levelling to 60 again was just absolute crap. It’s such a psychological blow. Even though I completely understand that levelling to 130 (from level 1!) is stupid. I really do get that. Logically, I know a level squish had to happen. But for someone who spent THIRTY DAYS IN-GAME trying to get Kurn to 60 (and yes, that’s how long it took me the first time around), it really sucked to think about grinding out those 10 levels from 50-60 again. Like a LOT.

It still sucks. And so, perhaps out of nothing beyond spite (and perhaps a little greed), I have Kurn at 60, Madrana at 60 and five other alts at 60 (including a dracthyr evoker). My army of alts and I are ready to jump into Dragonflight tonight (in about three hours, as I write this), and I am ready to make ALL THE GOLD. I have skinning/LW on Kurn, JC/alch on Madrana, Herb/Inscription on the dracthyr, Herb/Mining on my shaman, Mining/Tailoring on my mage, Alch/Enchanting on the priest and, hilariously, Blacksmithing/Engineering on my warlock. In my defense, the warlock was a boosted character from like… Mists (?) whom I decided to add BS/Eng to because those were the professions I lacked. I still find it hilarious that I have a warlock with those professions, so I decided to keep them on that toon.

Levelling during this elemental invasion event has been fascinating. I didn’t tend to join groups. Rather, as healers (priest and shaman, specifically), I greatly enjoyed just dropping heals like Healing Rain, Chain Heal, Circle of Healing, etc, on the people doing damage. It was so much more fun, IMHO, than running around dropping Blizzard or Rain of Fire. Also, what the hell, soul shards are the worst. hahaha. I eventually figured out how they work, but it made me wish for the old days of soul shard bags instead of them as a secondary resource. And does life tap no longer exist for destro warlocks??? I actually ran out of mana sometimes. Too much Rain of Fire, I guess. Anyway. That was a painful, like, 18 (?) levels. Though I do have to say, even with the nerfs (and yes, they are nerfs!) to the heirlooms, I gained like 5 levels chewing through 1.5 levels worth of rested. That was disgusting and I loved it.

Madrana got boosted to 60 so I didn’t do a lot of invasion stuff with her, although I did enough to get most of the 252 gear. I also got to try out this fancy new talent tree. First, yay talent trees!!!! Second, oh god, talent trees!!! hahahaha! I had some fun reading through things. I think I have a workable talent tree at the moment. The biggest problem for me was not being able to generate enough holy power to cast Light of Dawn, because I wasn’t grouping with folks. I did enjoy that Consecrate finally heals people if talented for it, though. I’ve been wanting that since… Wrath? Cata? Maybe even BC, because I remember not being able to heal through Heroic Magister’s Terrace in TIER FIVE GEAR because I couldn’t heal more than one person at a time. That was a brutal effing dungeon for a paladin. Priest? No issues. But a paladin? At least 1 dead person, guaranteed.

Having said that, healing someone with beacon (in this case, it was me) should be enough to gain a fair amount of holy power. I also specced into Veneration, which means that my Flash of Light, Holy Light and Judgement crits reset the cooldown on Hammer of Wrath and allow it to be used regardless of the health of the mob, and Hammer of Wrath generates 1 Holy Power. I see what they’re trying to do (bearing in mind I’ve missed all of Shadowlands), in that they want paladins in melee. And, quite frankly, fuck that noise. I like standing way the hell in the back. If people like standing in melee, go ahead. I’ll just stand over here.

Also, the holy paladin mastery changed?!? It’s now “Increases healing done by up to X%, based on the proximity of your target.” Obviously, this means if you’re tank healing, you want to be in melee. Again, no thank you. I haven’t done any testing on this, but it’ll be interesting to investigate going forward. In the meantime, I’ve done some running around with the paladin during the invasions and I’m feeling okay with most of my toolkit.

Right, so my plans for Dragonflight include making a ridiculous amount of gold, particularly with Inscription, but also with the profession equipment. Between Leatherworking and Blacksmithing, I have 16 different profession thingies I can make. Then I have Engineering for another 7, JC for another 4 and Inscription for another 3. So I think I’ve got them all covered.

I’m super looking forward to more complexity regarding professions (note to self: remember this when you’re pissed off that you don’t have enough profession knowledge at some point), and am so glad that it’s going to be more interesting than going broke trying to eke out the last five points of your profession. (Having just done that in Wrath, I can’t say I was looking forward to it.)

So, what are you looking forward to in Dragonflight? Anyone healing with a dracthyr? Anyone also looking to corner markets? Tell me what you’re up to!

The First 30 Levels

It’s been a little while since I’ve had a chance to write. I’ve been spending most of my free time split between Classic WoW and a programming project.

I’ve gotten Kurn to 31. Madrana remains at 10 and I’m writing this as my mage is level 3, running around Northshire. Wow, what a difference between 8am now and launch time a couple of weeks ago! The goal is to get her to 5 so she can pick up Tailoring (and make use of all the linen I no longer need for First Aid) and Enchanting.

I’ll get back to Madrana soonish — gotta level her soon — but in the meantime, I’m loving running around on Kurn. I got Aspect of the Cheetah at 20 and it was life-changing. As someone who hasn’t been without a mount of some sort in like, a decade, it was amazing. (I have the chauffeur for my toons under 20 on retail.)

And at 30, I got Feign Death. HOLY CRAP THE BEST EVER. Even if I get resisted every so often, I can now, once again, do Stupid Hunter Things. Frankly, that’s one of my favourite things to do in this game.

Example: There’s the Preserving Knowledge quest up in Alterac. I was level 30. My brother was 31 on his warrior. There is no WAY we should have been able to get that done, at least not retrieving the Worn Leather Book. But I found the place where the book was and we used my pet to distract a level 38 elite ogre and my brother ran over to join me. Then I feigned after my pet died. And then, just at that moment, a group of people came up and destroyed all the things for us so we just ran in and got the book. But my pet could have tanked the boss for a second (turtle with shell shield!) if needed. Ahhhhh, Stupid Hunter Things. I love them.

I’ve also made a serious effort to level my professions. Skinning isn’t a problem, I’m already at like, 230. Training Artisan skinning for 5g was not my favourite thing in the world to do, but I did it.

Leatherworking is hard at this point. I’m at about 200 and can’t wait to hit up the Hinterlands at 35 to train Artisan.

But I’m also at about the 150 mark at Fishing and First Aid and my Cooking is approaching 200! (I may have spent money to get there by buying stuff off the AH. Oops.)

I’ve done Deadmines once and Stockades once, both with my guildies. (Though we pugged a healer for Stocks.) I am planning to skip Razorfen Kraul and Gnomer entirely, thank you kindly. Next up for me will be Scarlet Monastery.

The world feels big again. And it’s not just the lack of mounts, it’s the lack of flying mounts. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my flying mounts on retail, but flying from Ratchet to Auberdine means flying down to Theramore first. It’s altogether ridiculous, but there’s a certain something to it.

And the danger! I don’t tend to die on retail, not unless I’m in a raid or something. As a hunter, I can feign, as a pally, I can bubble, etc, etc. So there is no real danger involved on retail. But it’s all around you in Classic. I’m not saying I like dying to murlocs or elite orcs or Bellygrub, but it does happen and I do enjoy knowing I have to be alert when kiting or pulling.

I also really enjoy working towards various goals that are achievable, but difficult. Like, 90g or whatever it is for a 60% speed mount? That is going to suck. But it’s also so rewarding when you get there. It’s been hard to get Leatherworking to 200! It’s been challenging to get Kurn to 31. There’s like a dead zone for quests around 25-27 where things seem to be really hard. I ended up questing in Wetlandsand Redridge with a touch of Duskwood and Southshore and did a lot of just killing of whelps in the Wetlands.

Killing whelps and dragons in this game — and then skinning them — is truly one of my favourite things to do in this entire game. Love it all day long. I must have ground out at least a level or so doing just that over the course of a few days.

So I’m having a great time. Do I miss some of the creature comforts of retail? Of course. Mounts, flight, even some high-level abilities like Blink on my mage or Cleanse on my paladin, not having to stable one pet to call out another… All of these would be nice to have but I know I’ll appreciate Cleanse more on my paladin when I get it in my 40s. I’ll appreciate my slow mount SO MUCH when I get it.

What are you up to in Classic, if you’re playing? Let me know!

Classic Thoughts

I’ve been very quiet over the last couple of days. This is because I’ve been busy playing Classic, primarily. Well, you know, and working, celebrating my nephew’s fifth birthday, etc.

But I’ve been playing a lot of Classic. Naturally, I have Thoughts and Feelings!

Honestly, props to Blizzard for keeping the servers up. My group and I landed on Westfall, after originally planning to go to Pagle. By and large, most of us got the names we wanted, which was nice. Anyway, on Monday evening, a bunch of us logged in and were amazed by all the people in the starting zones.

I have never seen so many people in Northshire in my life.

Of course, with this concentration of people came the lag. As, I presume, more layers were created, I saw things fade in and out of existence. Eventually, my brother and I, plus one of our friends, Kam, all managed to group together and did all of Northshire together. Eventually, Kam got her imp, we finished our Northshire quests (after I got Judgment — so useful for tagging mobs instantly!) and we went off into the wilds of Elwynn Forest.

While primary professions only cost 10 copper apiece to train at the Apprentice level, FUN FACT, secondaries are a whole silver each! (Part of me is still amazed that I have five million gold on retail and I’m struggling to scrape up silver to train, etc.)

The hardest part of the evening wasn’t the lag, but rather tagging mobs. Props to Kam’s imp for being on aggressive and tagging some kobolds in Fargodeep Mine and some Murlocs at Crystal Lake!

It took us dozens of tries to get Garrick Proudfoot back in Northshire. At least half a dozen to get Princess in the pumpkin patch (once we found it). Let’s not even talk about Hogger.

But props to my group for mostly living through everything!

I eventually had 10 silver and made my way up to Stormwind to get a guild charter. Coming into Stormwind… well, it was an experience. I turned on the music to get the full effect and got chills down my spine as I entered the original Stormwind for the first time in years.

I managed to get a bunch of random folks, as well as a few of my friends, to sign the guild charter and our guild, Faded Heroes, was born. I thanked the randoms and booted them and we went about inviting all our friends as they logged in.

The goal had been, for me, to spend a couple of hours running around and earning silver to make the guild charter in Stormwind, which is quicker to get to from Northshire than Darnassus is from Aldrassil. Then, I was going to swap to Kurn. But it took me FOUR AND A HALF HOURS of playtime to get ten silver to use on a charter, so I was already nearly ten and I stuck it out to get to level 10 on the paladin.

After day 2, my hunter was also level 10. I died a LOT. The Barrow Den is The Worst, and Ursal Mauler, well, get yourself a group. At level 9, I joined up with a random level 9 rogue and we wiped four (?) times before we got him down. But we got it done! And what lies next for Kurn is getting a pet! Very excited.

Hilariously, I had to turn in a couple of quests to Fandral Staghelm. Now, I remembered him from Vanilla when I was fighting him in Firelands, but it was really very weird to meet him again for the first time, with that context! I remembered him being a jerk, but he is REALLY a jerk. And so, as I read the quest text and such, I remarked, aloud, how happy I was to have killed him a number of times in Firelands.

So what do I think about Classic? Loving it. There are a lot of things I’m having to untrain myself about — sparkling quest objectives, quest stuff on the map, the hunter dead zone, aspects and tracking vanishing once you die and needing to be re-enabled. The retail game has made me soft!

I’m also having to re-learn how to hunter. Paladin, less so, but wow, the dead zone is bigger than I remembered, Concussive Shot isn’t as effective as I remembered… Without a pet, against higher-level mobs, I had to kite them! I was never the BEST kiter, but I could certainly kite Drakkisath. I used to kite some blue dragon up to Everlook, over in Winterspring. (Can’t, for the life of me, remember its name.) Still, there I am, in Teldrassil, kiting furbolgs all over the damn place. And mostly living! It was the harpies in the Oracle Glade that wrecked me.

Looking forward to having a pet so I can stay at range!

Overall, I’m loving what I’m doing in Classic.

Tell me about your Classic experiences!

It’s Go Time

Well, more like “It’s Go Day”, but close enough. Today is launch day. In just under four hours, as I write this, WoW Classic will launch.

I am, and this is an understatement, thrilled.

For over a decade, now, I have eagerly awaited the launch of each new expansion, only to pair with it the fact that everything I once knew no longer meant anything. It’s draining. Exhausting. To know all the nuances about your class and spec and just things in the game in general to knowing basically nothing? It’s annoying. But new content brings with it new challenges and new information, so it’s generally a decent trade-off.

Today, however, I sit here, eager to jump into a world that I know oh-so-well.

My encyclopedic knowledge of Blackrock Depths matters. (See my YouTube channel for detailed video guides of BRD and, eventually, more!)

My knowing various old farming spots in Swamp of Sorrows and Dustwallow Marsh and Felwood actually means something.

Understanding what’s required to get the key to Upper Blackrock Spire is important again!

Knowing the best place to raise your weapon skills is finally useful once more!

The content may not be new, but my knowledge is right up there, my friends. I’m thrilled these nuggets of information are going to be put to use once again. And the adventures? The adventures will be brand-new, and I can’t wait to embark upon them and see what the original World of Warcraft has in store for me.

That said, I have some tips!

Tips for WoW Classic Launch

  • You may want to log in as your alts first and get them to a city to get them rested XP while you play on your main! My paladin and mage will be parking their butts in Stormwind while I play on Kurn. (That said, if your nearest capital city is far, look for an inn at the first real zone. No point in running to Goldshire if you can run to Stormwind, but Dolanaar is a better bet than Darnassus)
  • You may be on a different “layer” than someone else. To be on the same layer, someone can invite the other person. The party leader’s “layer” becomes the layer for both people at that point. (I think guild members will also all be on the same layer as each other, could be wrong.)
  • Remember that flight points are few and far between. When you need to head to the Eastvale Logging Company in Elwynn, you may as well run a couple more minutes to grab the flight point out at Lakeshire as well. You may even want to grab the Darkshire FP in Duskwood while you’re over there, though you may end up dying if you’re too low-level.
  • Night elves who want to level in Westfall, search for videos on how to skip from the Wetlands to Dun Morogh (where you can then take the tram). If you don’t do this, you may just want to wait until you’re in your early-to-mid 20s to make your way by boat over to Menethil Harbour because there are a lot of crocolisks who are eager to kill you otherwise.
  • Vendor all your greys, don’t destroy them.
  • Anything that is coloured white (apart from crappy armor/weapons) can be useful to someone. Bear that in mind when killing animals and getting various meats and such.
  • Don’t forget to train fishing, cooking and first aid, as well as your primary professions.
  • Don’t forget to train your abilities and place your talent points! Talent calculator here: https://classic.wowhead.com/talent-calc
  • Most of all, HAVE FUN! :)


Happy WoW Classic launch, everyone. I’ll see you in Azeroth.

You Must Act Now, Champion

My dear fellow WoW players,

On the heels of the tenth BlizzCon, where everyone learned more about the upcoming battles they will face across all the different games, there is another battle to face.

Ladies and gentlemen of the United States of America, November 8th, 2016 is the day you get to go out there and do your part for what you believe in.

It’s your chance to slay Ragnaros, Nefarian, C’thun and Kel’Thuzad as part of a 40-man raid.

It’s your chance to defeat Prince Malchezzar and Gruul and Magtheridon and Lady Vashj and Kael’thas and Illidan and Kil’jaeden as a small part of a greater whole.

It’s up to you to do the real-life equivalent of clearing through Naxxramas, Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader and defeat the Lich King in Icecrown Citadel all on heroic 25-man difficulty.

It’s up to you to exercise your constitutionally-assured right to voice your concerns, to show you have confidence in one candidate or that you lack confidence in another.

As a Canadian, I can’t do much except implore you to exercise your right to vote. Would I like for Hillary Clinton to win? Absolutely. But I won’t tell you not to vote if you don’t support her. What I will tell you is a short story of how a single vote can matter.

Picture it, October 30, 1995: my home province of Quebec has decided to hold a referendum on whether or not Quebec should secede from the rest of Canada. (Ludicrous. Also, not the first time they did this!) I cast my very first vote that day, never having voted before in any election. It was a nail-biter. The No side (meaning no, let us NOT secede from Canada) won. The final percentage: 50.58% to 49.42%. In real numbers, that is a difference of 54,288 votes. That was it.

93.52% of all 5,087,009 registered Quebec voters voted. That left 329,638 people who did not vote. Imagine if everyone had voted. Quebec could now be its own separate country. It could have caused the collapse of the Canada we know today. It could have gone either way. The number of people who didn’t vote is more than six times the difference between the two choices. SIX TIMES.

And yet, the thing is, that is a crazy high percentage of voter turnout. It’s the highest turnout for voters in all of Canadian history.

In 2012, only 57.5% of eligible US voters voted in the election.


If you don’t like what’s happening in your country, you have a voice. If you don’t think someone can lead your country for the next four years, you have a say. History is decided by those who decide to show up. One vote CAN make a difference. And you know what? It’s not just one vote. There are propositions to vote on. Down-ballot candidates. Senate races. House races. You can have something like 20 votes on one ballot! Don’t ever doubt that you can make a difference. You can be that rogue evasion-tanking the boss while the rest of the raid gets those precious few seconds to finish him off. You can be the clutch player who just battle-rezzed a tank, or you can be that healer who just got battle-rezzed to make sure the rest of the raid stays alive. You can be the freaking shaman who puts on a shield and tanks after a warrior dies while tanking the priest on Council in Black Temple, leading to a first kill. (SHOUTOUT TO DUPER!)

You can be the hero.

You must act now, champion!

Some things to do or bear in mind (you know, the equivalent of reading strats or watching videos, then flasking, eating buff food and using potions in a fight!):

So. Are you ready to go out there and tackle a real-life raid boss? As Akama would say, the time has come! The moment is at hand!

Pulling in 3… 2… 1…

Permanently Grounded

Forgive me, dear readers, it has been three months since my last blog post. I don’t even necessarily want to talk about what I’m going to talk about here, but, well, I couldn’t help myself.

The Announcement

This week, Ion Hazzikostas, the lead designer of World of Warcraft, had an interview with Polygon, in which he stated “that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We’re not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that’s kind of where we’re at going forward.”

Let me be clear, readers — I kind of didn’t mind the concept of not flying until the “first major patch for Warlords of Draenor”, which was how this was announced to players before the game even launched. One might assume that flight would have been reintroduced in 6.1. When that didn’t show up, I personally thought “oh, hey, I guess they’re waiting for the next tier when we get into Tanaan Jungle. That’s fine.”

Apparently, this won’t be the case.

Some Thinking & Some History

So, I’m not pleased. But I took some time to try to figure out why I’m not pleased. How does the prospect of continuing on just as I have really affect me? Does it affect me?

Having started in Vanilla, where you not only didn’t have flight, but you didn’t even get a ground mount (and a slow one at that!) until level 40, I wasn’t used to flight when I started playing the game. The world was vast. Immense. Boats, flight points, all of these helped out a great deal, but to this day, it’s still a pain to go from, say, Un’Goro Crater up to Winterspring. The old world is freaking huge.

The new continents in each expansion… well, they’re not that big. They’re landmasses that don’t really come close to the size of each old continent in Azeroth. Which, you know, that’s fine. It’s an expansion. You’re not going to spend the rest of your WoW career in Outlands or Northrend or Pandaria, right? The old world is going to see a lot more action, particularly since we revisited it in Cataclysm, than the other continents and areas, which are much more transient in nature.

They introduced flying in Burning Crusade, but what a lot of people either don’t know (because they weren’t there) or don’t remember (because it’s been a long while!), is that flying was still incredibly rare! Epic flying was stupidly expensive (5000g) and regular flight was, well, I think it was around 600 gold. Gold, in those days, was really difficult to get. The people in my guild basically pooled their money to help people get epic flying. I think there were six or seven people in this group with my brother, all of whom would kick in some cash to help someone get their flying, and that person would then pay people back over a (long) period of time.

So it wasn’t always easy for someone to get flying, much less epic flying. I spent a great deal of time on an alt on Proudmoore, post-raids, chatting with my RL Friend the Resto Druid who was raiding on Pacific hours. I’d be doing circles on a ground mount in Nagrand, mining adamantium and fel iron and using my engineering thingy to get motes of air. This was perfectly reasonable and fine. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not having flight on that character. This, despite the fact that there were several areas in Burning Crusade that required flight — various dungeon instance entrances (and this was before dungeon queues!), various farming spots… Back then, you couldn’t get to Elemental Plateau without flying (or being awesome friends with a warlock and some others who could fly!).

When Wrath of the Lich King launched, I grumbled a bit about not being able to fly, particularly after that Wintergarde Keep quest where you DO get to fly to save the various people from undead things, but when I hit 80, I threw my 1000 gold at the trainer and I COULD FLY AND IT WAS AMAZING. I didn’t even have the super-fast flying on Kurn then, it was only 280%. (I would later get 310% flying when I completed What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been in late 2009.) Various raid instances were either impossible or very difficult to get to without flight if you didn’t want to rely on a summon. Naxxramas and Ulduar come to mind.

Flight in Cataclysm was, and let’s be fair, totally expected. If they were going to blow up our old Azeroth, flying just made sense. (Ultimately, I would probably trade flight to not have lost Auberdine and Southshore, though…) But think about things like where the raid entrances were! Nefarian’s balcony up at Blackrock Mountain, the top of a spire in Twilight Highlands, the instance entrance for Throne of the Four Winds… I mean, we were clearly meant to be flying in Cataclysm content, the same way we were meant to fly in parts of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. What was different here is that, for the first time, we were permitted to start flying at the start of the expansion.

In Mists of Pandaria, I did the same as I usually done — levelled up, threw gold at the training and luxuriated in the glory of flight and its freedom. I wasn’t really bothered by the fact that I couldn’t fly until 90.

Throughout all of these expansions, there were places where flight wasn’t allowed.

In Burning Crusade, there was the Isle of Quel’Danas, plus the entire old world, even the new zones for draenei and blood elves.

In Wrath of the Lich King, there was Wintergrasp. I recall frequently clipping the edge of the zone and getting dismounting and cratering. Oh yeah, plus the old world.

In Cataclysm, there was Tol Barad, plus the draenei and blood elf zones and… that was about it, because you were in the old world and you could fly from the start.

Then in Mists of Pandaria, you had… well, the Timeless Isle and those old draenei and blood elf zones. You could fly pretty much everywhere else.

In Warlords of Draenor, you just can’t fly. Period. And now we have confirmation that we will not be able to do so.

So I find myself thinking about how this affects me. Does it affect me? Can I go back to just being on the ground? I mean, I played for over a year on the ground in Vanilla, plus lots of time in Burning Crusade, the levelling-up time in Wrath and Pandaria, plus my time in non-flight zones (Timeless Isle, most recently), as well as these first few months of Warlords of Draenor.

Managing My Own Expectations

I can, of course. I have done so for the last several months. And what the last several months has mostly meant is logging in, doing Garrison stuff and occasionally flying out to Nagrand (via flight point, obviously) to trap 21ish clefthoof bulls.

Will having the ability to fly change my in-game priorities?


Does it actually change the quality of my in-game life to not have flying?

No, because I haven’t had flight since Pandaria anyhow.

So why am I displeased?

I’m displeased because it was heavily implied that we’d have it at some point, but while re-reading the phrase from Bashiok, it’s clear to me that they never planned to bring it back. Read it for yourselves:

We intend to disallow flying while leveling from 90 to 100, and have flying become available again in the first major patch for Warlords of Draenor.


Reading that initially, I read “We will disallow flying while leveling from 90-100” and then “but flying will be available again in the first major patch”.

They covered their asses well. Look at that. We intend. Just because they intend something doesn’t mean it will happen. Personally, I saw that and assumed because the first part was true, it would follow that the second part was true.

My fault for assuming, I guess. But I think a lot of other people made the same assumption.

The Loss of Trust

As such, a lot of people are talking about trust for Blizzard right now. Frankly, I don’t have any trust for them any longer. They lost me in Firelands. Up until then, no matter what nonsense they threw at us, I was pretty much okay with them, believing that there were things I didn’t know, believing that there were things I didn’t understand, other kinds of factors that led to their various decisions. I supported them, believing that they knew what was best, believing that they were doing good things for the game and for the community.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when, despite the introduction of LFR, content nerfs continued through Dragon Soul. And, as a result, I left WoW for about 13 months. (And then resubbed a few months after that, but I have not raided in any kind of serious fashion since then.)

Flying isn’t the end-all and be-all for me. It’s that we were led to believe flying would come back this expansion. It doesn’t affect my daily WoW life that I can’t fly, but I don’t take kindly to being led to believe something will occur that won’t. (Hey, where is the dance studio, anyhow?!)

There’s also the fact that some mounts are really meant to fly. My Violet Proto Drake is not meant to waddle on the ground.

Nor are my drakes from Dragon Soul (I have both the meta and the one from Heroic Madness), my bird from the Firelands meta or my Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher.

It’s not as though I don’t have some nice ground mounts — I have Baron Rivendare’s mount, which is awesome. I have my paladin’s charger, also awesome. But using these huge flying drakes on the ground is pretty dumb-looking. I like using some of these fancy mounts. But not to see them waddle on the ground. To see things I worked really hard for get relegated to use in the old world… it’s disappointing. Someone on Twitter is even talking about false advertising in terms of buying mounts from the shop. (I don’t know that I’d go that far, but, to be fair, I’ve never bought a mount from the shop.)

Speaking of posts by people on Twitter, don’t miss Ross‘s post at Feckless Leader: “Yep, We’re Still Talking About Flying“, in which he talks about how maybe this is the beginning of the replacement of flight, not just the flat-out removal of flight. (I wish I had his hope and trust.)

And, of course, if you don’t regularly read Alternative Chat, shame on you. Go read her post about flying.

But What About THE GAMEPLAY?!?!

Hazzikostas talked about how it’s silly for people to fly to their mob, land on the hut, kill the mob and fly off again.

Okay, that’s fair. So stop having such simplistic quests. Add in “kill X number of mobs” to the quest. Or put the mob in a cave. Or underwater. Or something.

Frankly, I will say this — the terrain of Draenor sucks. It’s all hills and canyons and how in the actual fuck are you supposed to get up THAT hill and how do you get out of THAT canyon and seriously? This would be a lot less frustrating if I could fly!

Half the reason I don’t go out into Draenor is that I don’t really have a reason to do so, but when I do go out there, venturing out from my Garrison, I end up frustrated as all get out because there’s no obvious way to get to point B from my point A. The maps are not remotely detailed enough to take height into consideration. I see my objective on the minimap and, in the world, it’s like three stories over my head, dangling off a cliff. How do I get up on that cliff? The challenge should be in getting the objective, not in navigating the inhospitable terrain to get to the cliff, the way I see it. If the terrain weren’t crazy, I wouldn’t mind being without flight, really, when I’m out in the world.

But it is crazy. The ground is never just flat. This is not Vanilla. And I’m glad it’s not Vanilla. I remember walking into Hellfire Peninsula and being like “HOLY CRAP, THE GROUND IS SLANTED” when Burning Crusade launched. And I like that. I just don’t like being forced to travel around and over and up and down for the sake of absolutely nothing. There is no reason to make the terrain as treacherous as it is in some parts except to slow us down and annoy us.

That’s when I miss flight. It doesn’t make the gameplay any more enjoyable for me. It makes me feel as though I’m a rat in a maze. And that? That does not endear me to the designers of the game.

Want to hear more about this and other subjects? Don’t forget to tune in to the Kurncast — a (mostly) weekly podcast, (mostly) focused on World of Warcraft. Tune in today, on iTunes or Stitcher!

Friends and Comrades

My goodness, things get awfully dusty around here, don’t they? My apologies.

I was walking home from the store today, on a cold, snowy, wintery day here in Montreal, and I decided I wanted to dust off the blog and write something. Many leadership topics swim through my head on a regular basis, so, as I trudged home in the snow, I decided to talk about friends and comrades in a raiding team.

Your Friends, Your Core Team

As long-time readers already know, what happened to start up Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas originally is that our previous guild, Fated Heroes, split up, scattering many of us to different guilds (or not — many of us, myself included, remained unguilded for quite some time). Eventually, those of us who had stayed in touch decided that we wanted to raid together. In those days, raiding together usually meant being in a guild together.

And so Apotheosis was born on June 1, 2007.

When we first cleared Karazhan, including Nightbane, as a guild, we took a celebratory screenshot.

Apotheosis fully clears Karazhan. (June 11, 2007)
Apotheosis fully clears Karazhan. (June 11, 2007)

In that screenshot, you have me (as Madrana), Cryptkikr, Karsomaric, Slovotsky (aka my brother Fog), Bregalad (aka Kaiu), Shadowcry, Findric, Tharivol, Huntertoga and Palantir.

All of us, except for Findric, had been in Fated Heroes, even if only for a brief time. Karsomaric was a real-life friend of Majik’s brother, Sephden, who had been in our previous guild for a short while towards the end.. Findric and Palantir had bonded during the levelling phase of Burning Crusade.

We were basically a group of friends in that group of ten. Sure, I wasn’t best friends with Tharivol, but we had history (oh my God, it was a disastrous Dire Maul North run that we bonded over). There were many more friendships throughout the entire guild. But, of course, you couldn’t run 25-man content with 17-18 people.

Recruitment & Growing the Roster

We needed people. We needed another tank. We needed more healers. We had a bunch of DPSers who were healing instead of DPSing and had to keep recruiting so that we could switch those DPSers back to DPSing. (Thank you to the dwarves — Hulkdwarf and Tankdwarf — for all those weeks of healing instead of smashing things in the face with an axe.)

Among the people we recruited, we welcomed our first shaman, Jitte (who was resto), a new tank, Baur, a hunter, Immortalis, two DPS warriors, Netsuge and Venality, and a mage, Pewpewmagoo. All of them helped us with our first kill of High King Maulgar, on September 2nd, 2007.

Apotheosis downs High King Maulgar. (September 2, 2007)
Apotheosis downs High King Maulgar. (September 2, 2007)

But except for Netsuge, who knew Kaiu, there were no bonds between these new people and the older core. What was to stop them from just taking off? Nothing. And so, when you look at a kill shot from nine months later, many of the names aren’t the same.

Apotheosis kills Lady Vashj, clearing Serpentshrine Cavern. (June 2, 2008)
Apotheosis kills Lady Vashj, clearing Serpentshrine Cavern. (June 2, 2008)

Gone were Jitte, Baur, Venality, Immortalis and Pewpewmagoo. Gone even was my brother, Fog and Majik’s college roommate, Palantir. In their stead, we have Aaza, Criza, Opus and Mightypoo (all of whom came over to us at once), plus Antidentite and Furormalic, Brodix, Dayden, Duper, Eviildeedz, Kazir, Massimo, Shadowmyth, Warthon, Scrixi, Euphie, Legolia and Quelyne.

But again, there were very few ties holding these people together.

No Social Ties Means Less Loyalty

Churn, which is something I think about a lot in my current job, can be defined in World of Warcraft terms, perhaps, as an individual who applies to the guild, gets accepted, passes their probation or trial and then, eventually leaves the guild. (I wouldn’t apply the term “churn” to people who stay in the game but quit raiding or who quit playing altogether — that’s something else entirely.)

Recruitment sucks so much that it’s much easier to hold on to your players than to go out and replace them.

But how do you do it?

You have to involve them. You have to integrate them. You have to make an effort to be social with them.

It doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend, but you have to make an effort (as does the rest of your guild) to make new people feel welcome and feel at home. The more they connect with people within your guild, the more they’ll feel as though they’re a part of the team, which will lead to them staying through difficult times to help support the team.

If you don’t have that connection, they’ll eventually leave, whether it’s because they’re tired of your guild dynamics or because they think there’s something better out there.

Friends and Comrades

I didn’t spend a ton of time with my guildies in my time as guild master of Apotheosis, at least in the second incarnation of it. I think that my lack of desire to incentivize people to spend time together (and my lack of desire to spend time with people in general!) contributed to the churn we experienced. Our progression wasn’t quite so advanced that it alone was enough to draw in new players, so replacing each and every person who left was extremely difficult.

All of this to say, have your friends in-guild with you, sure, but remember not to be exclusionary. You must be welcoming to your new members or you risk losing them whenever they find it convenient. You must make efforts to keep them involved, or risk losing them.

This is where the distinction comes in between friends and comrades. Your comrades are your fellow raiders (or PVPers, RPers, whatever team you have going), with whom you do spend a substantial amount of time. It’s important to think of them as something other than “oh, they’re just a guildie I don’t spend a lot of time with outside of our guild events”. These are people upon whom you rely, who rely upon you, without whom you might not be able to accomplish all that you do.

They deserve your respect. They deserve some social interaction outside of your events.

Without those things, it’s just a matter of time before they move on.

Having said that, you’re not required to be their best friend. Or even their friend. But remember that they’re something more than “another guildie”. They’re a teammate. A cog in the machine. Think of them as something more than the warm body they may represent or risk losing their presence in your events.

Don’t miss The Kurncast

Every Monday (or so), I put out a new episode of The Kurncast. I recently had Majik on the show for Episode 37, so check it out.

On Competition, Winning and Being Stubborn

If you’ve been reading this blog for even five minutes, you may have gotten the impression that I am a stubborn person.

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than that, you know I’m a very stubborn person.

You may also have gathered that I am someone who tends to care about winning — at least in the sense of getting a team win. (Winning stuff as an individual, while I’m in a team, doesn’t really matter much to me. Winning stuff individually when I’m not in a team setting, of course, is nice.)

A lot of people who play World of Warcraft are competitive and enjoy “winning”, whatever “winning” means to them. That’s fine. That’s great, even. If people didn’t enjoy winning, people wouldn’t even play this game. Every time someone tops damage or healing meters, I’m sure they’re psyched because they “won”. Every time a boss dies, people have “won”. There’s a lot of competition baked into the game and the developers leverage that personality trait of ours, the desire to win, to get us to do all kinds of things.

However, the fact that so very many of us are competitive also works against us.

Winning Isn’t Everything

Winning isn’t everything, “they” say. Whoever “they” are, “they” are right. That said, it seems silly to think that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be winning regularly in World of Warcraft, right? I mean, once you get your gear and have practiced your rotation or your role or whatever, chances are good that you ought to win in whatever you’re doing on a pretty consistent basis, right? Isn’t that what farm bosses in raids are all about, after all? I mean, you work hard to get to the point where you know what you’re doing and then you win. Consistently. (Well, hopefully.)

Winning seems to be the very point of World of Warcraft, no? Races for world-firsts, server-firsts, top of the arena rankings, best challenge mode times… the list goes on.

Wanting to “win”, though, harms the communication process a great deal. As someone who can be inordinately stubborn (whether that’s because I’m a Taurus or it’s just a character flaw I embrace because a Taurus is supposed to be stubborn, I am unsure), I had a bad habit as a guild leader, of which I absolutely had to rid myself: I had a tendency to want to win arguments.


So wrong.

So very, very wrong.

This is wrong on the same level as a hunter wearing cloth spirit gear and wielding two one-handed swords.

This is wrong on the same level as not moving out of the fire.

So. Very. Wrong.

Why is it wrong? you may ask.

It’s wrong because, believe it or not, you are not always right.

Sorry. It’s true. I know this because I tend to be right a good proportion of the time, and yet I can still be wrong. So if I can be wrong (and I can be!), you can be wrong, too.

Unfortunately, the problem with being “wrong” is that sometimes you don’t know it. And because you don’t always know it, you may be tempted to dig in your heels and… yes, be stubborn.

If you want to do that in real life, go ahead. I can’t say you’re going to make a ton of friends that way, but it’s your choice.

However, if you try to pull that as a guild leader, raid leader, guild officer… that’s when you’re going to have trouble.

The Needs of the Many…

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. So says Spock. And we can’t really argue with Spock, can we? (No, we can’t.)

What this post is really driving at is the concept that, if you’re in an argument with someone about guild-related stuff, you need to step back and take as objective a look as you can and try to see if what you’re doing is going to benefit the guild.

Are you arguing because you want to be right or are you arguing because you want to do what’s right for the guild? These are not always the same thing.

Even more frustrating, arguments can get heated and suddenly, you’re pitted against someone else in your guild. Not only does logic typically fly out the window in these scenarios, but suddenly the argument becomes less about whatever it is you’re arguing about, and becomes more about beating the other person. That’s what we do, right? We’re competitive. We want to win. Winning means that someone else loses. Whether it’s a boss or a PVP opponent… or even our guildmates and fellow officers.

This is precisely the wrong mindset to have. As a leader, one needs to make quick shifts in mindset. One moment, you may be trying your best to down a boss, the next, you may be arguing with your officers about the best strategy to ensure people don’t inappropriately soak Twilight Barrages on 25m Heroic Blackhorn…

Whatever the case, you need to stop being competitive when you start talking to other people. You need to slow down, calm down and listen to what they’re saying and then, regardless of how much you don’t want to, you may have to concede that the other person is right.

It’s Not Easy

Well, it’s not easy for me. And if you’re remotely competitive at all, it’s not going to be easy for you. But this is why I recommend that you do not surround yourself with “yes men” as officers. You want that other perspective, you want that dissenting opinion, if only to point out that there are other ways of looking at various problems.

It can lead to tempers flaring, it can lead to that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you were wrong, but… if it leads to something better for the guild, isn’t it worth it?

Yup. It is.

So the next time you’re arguing with someone about guild stuff, take a second to look at the situation from another perspective. Understand why you’re digging in. Try to figure out if your wanting to be right, if your desire to win, is because you just want to be right or if it’s because that’s what you think is best for your guild.

(I promise you, it gets easier with practice!)

On Leadership and Communication

My apologies for the length between blog posts this year, my dear readers. I resolve to write in this space more frequently in 2015. I have things to say and I hope I can organize myself better so that I have the time to get those things down here.

I actually have a couple of different things that I want to talk about, including healing, including my adventures, such as they are, in Draenor… but as we bring the year to a close, I wanted to talk specifically about leadership and communication. Why? Because these ideas are so very entwined with one another that I do not believe you can be an effective leader without being an effective communicator.

How to Communicate Effectively

Okay, so this isn’t going to be a long-winded essay on how to communicate effectively, much as I would like it to be. ;) I’m just going to jot down some important key points and expound on them a little bit.

As a leader (of your guild, your raid team, whatever), people are looking to you for direction. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be all “OH MY GOD WHAT THEY SAY IS LAW!!!”. In fact, most people will probably not listen to you as well as you’d like them to, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not listening to what you have to say. And, in the absence of direction, they’re going to go off and do whatever they want to do. So you may as well give them some semblance of direction, right? Right. Here are some ways to do so.

  1. Communicate Early and Often. You know surprise parties? I have never had one. I have never wanted one. I do not enjoy surprises. At all. You know who also hates surprises? Your guild members. Individually, sure, people may like to be surprised, but as a collective, they hate it. They hate it. Now, most news coming from leadership will be a “surprise”, but the way to help your guildies to adjust to whatever changes you’re enacting is to communicate the changes well in advance and then give them follow-up reminders.For example, Patch 4.3 of World of Warcraft introduced epic-level gems to the game. They were difficult to get and red gems, the ones that boosted strength, intellect and agility, could go for five thousand gold each for a while. As a raiding guild, I knew we would want to take advantage of those beefy stats, but I gave the guild plenty of warning as to when those epic gems would become official raid requirements. I also set up a system to request them in limited amounts from the guild bank for gear over a certain item level. If memory serves, I gave them something like six weeks’ notice and then reminders every two weeks thereafter, then a one-week warning, if I’m not mistaken.

    Give them warning. Then remind them. Then remind them again. Do this for every change you enact in terms of guild policy. It won’t always be enough to deflect all criticism lobbied against you (and you will have plenty of that!) but it will certainly be a better situation to tell them of a change with warning than to tell them of a change that is dumped on them that takes effect the next day.

  2. Be Clear and Firm (and Polite). I was going to write something here about policies, but I’ve already done so over here at Sentry Totem. Basically, remove the word “try” from all of your communications. No, your guild members should not “try” to be on time for your guild events, they must be online for your guild events. But don’t be brusque or rude. Just be firm.
  3. Be Open to Feedback. Even feedback that consists of nothing more than hurled profanity at you and your ancestry is feedback that you need to consider. If you make a decision that goes over exceedingly poorly and there are other options, discuss those with your officers and consider changing the policy … and communicating it. Again.

    I did this in Cataclysm with regards to loot issues. We felt strongly that some individuals were hoarding their EPGP priority and, as such, were harming the raid group. So we were going to change the way we handed out tier armor and unlink it from the EPGP system. This went over like a lead balloon. There was a lot of feedback. And many insults hurled our way. (Thanks for that, folks, you know who you are…) We changed the suggested policy in favour of changing how often we decayed EPGP values. I’m still not thrilled with how this went, nor do I think that solution did a lot to solve the issues we saw in terms of EPGP hoarding, but we were open to the feedback and made changes that made some difference. It was more of a compromise than a real solution and, as is the case with most compromises, no one was really happy. Still, no one was really ticked off, either.

Why Communication is so Important

It’s important because when you communicate with your guildies, you’re not only passing along important information, but because you’re also taking in their reactions and their feedback. This leads to a better working relationship between all parties.

It also lets people know that you value them and their feedback. Had I waited six weeks to tell my guild “HEY, EVERYONE NEEDS ALL EPIC GEMS FOR TOMORROW”, they would have risen up and killed me. I respected them enough to tell them “hey, in six (or eight or whatever) weeks, we’re going to be requiring all epic gems…” and then reminded them consistently.

Communicating with your guild members also helps engender a team spirit, particularly if you write things framed where you are part of the team that your audience is also part of. If that makes sense.

For example, if I wrote this:

“You all need to put epic gems in anything that’s ilvl 410 or higher”

then that makes me look as though I’m not part of the team as as though I’m dictating to the people reading. This is not the tone you want to aim for!

By contrast, if I wrote:

“Everyone (officers included!) will need to have epic gems in any piece of armor that is item level 410 or higher”

then I’m at least a bit more like a team member. Better yet, though, is this version:

“We’re all going to have to have epic gems in any armor piece that’s ilvl 410 or higher”

WE. ALL. Team-related words!

Remember, whatever you’re doing in terms of your guild events, you are a team. There is no “I” in “team”, as the saying goes, and, as I am fond of saying, a guild leader without any guildies isn’t really leading anything.


To summarize:

– communicate early and often
– be clear and firm, yet polite
– be open to feedback
– at all times, try to build up a sense of the team

Of course, if your actions don’t back up your words, people are going to catch on to that and will not be pleased, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Have a safe and happy new year, everyone and best wishes to you and yours for 2015!

(More GM-related advice and information can be found at Kurn’s Guides and you can also find a ton of Guild Leadership columns of mine up at Sentry Totem.)