Leadership from three angles

I know all of this has been covered elsewhere, likely by people far more clever than me. But recent events have made me stop and compile everything I know about leadership and from all the angles in which I have experienced leadership. I don’t expect this to be groundbreaking by any means, but I wanted to organize my thoughts.

Leadership from the bottom

In my real life job, I unfortunately have been working in non-leadership roles for the past several years. So I know what it is like to feel like the under-appreciated, unknown, faceless and nameless cog in the business machine. From down here, it is certainly tempting to believe that everyone who is in a supervisory role has perks that I will never get.

In the position I held before this one, I was expected to keep the phone/desk covered at all times, along with another secretary in the department. This meant having to coordinate lunches with her and being as punctual as I could be. If either of us made it to work a little late, that was a problem. Leaving early was nearly out of the question. And God forbid we ever wanted the same day off or both happened to get sick at the same time! To see every other person in the department strolling in whenever they felt like it, taking long lunches, going to the gym mid-day, being able to go to the bathroom without having to clear it with someone else first (no wonder I hated that fucking job), yeah, they had perks that came from their position.

However, I made a lateral transfer to another department where the requirements are different, and suddenly the game has changed. I take long lunches. I can come in a little late and work over to make up for it. I don’t have anyone making me dress up 5 days a week. I also get stuck with all the grunt work no one else wants to do and I see my supervisor abusing the living hell out of his “Exempt” status (no one has as much sick time as he takes). There still seem to be perks I will never have.

I have to assume that there are parts of these leadership positions that are less desirable. Perhaps dealing with the budget or attempting to steer an agenda through the turbulent waters of campus politics is more onerous than I imagine.

Still, it’s difficult to respect most middle management here – the “officers” of the business world. There are some who clearly watch out for their teams, but there are just as clearly some who play favorites or seek only their own interests. Some seem to be completely checked out as far as interest in their jobs. Sometimes the person watching out for their team might also be the same person who then plays favorites among them.

So what are the bright spots for a lowly grunt? What are the positives I have seen from management here and how might I be able to take that and translate it into watching out for my guildies? What should I avoid because it’ll make me look like a jerk? Here are things I would like to tell my boss (only without the WoW references, obviously).

Things to do

  • Greet people by name. I am blown away that the CIO knows my name. We don’t work in the same building, let alone have nice heart to hearts. And when I don’t even know who is who in a meeting I attend every week, it stands out that she knows me by sight and name.
  • Give praise for a job well done. Even if someone’s part in getting something accomplished was small or behind-the-scenes, they want to know their efforts have been noticed. Did someone’s DPS go up a few hundred from last week? Shouldn’t that be noted?
  • Offer assistance. I appreciate it whenever someone takes the time to help me learn something or get out from under a looming deadline. Back when I was a nubby 40-something mage, an officer gave me a run through ZF. That was huge, that he would notice me and offer to help.
  • Find ways to give to people. Being generous with mats, gold, or items that are needed for a quest doesn’t hurt someone with a raiding main. Don’t make it about anything other than “I am happy you are on my team,” and it will have all the more impact.
  • Plan fun activities/keep things light. No one likes to work all the time or for work to be 100% serious business. Even when staring at a wipefest in progression content, try to keep the laughs coming in between attempts. Treating the whole thing like a chore will make others feel that it is a chore and then it will actually become a chore.
  • Hang out. Learn about people’s lives. Today I learned that a guy in my guild has nine kids and is a farmer. How cool is that?

Things to not do

  • Act self-important. Seriously, you’re not the shit. No one is and no one likes the guy who acts like he is
  • Have obvious favorites. Nothing chaps my ass at work quite like having my boss say in a team meeting “X and Y are never allowed to retire! We’d be lost without them!” and ignore the fact that, oh hi, I contribute to the success of this team also.
  • Fail to follow your own rules. You’re not above them. You are held to them more than anyone else.
  • Fail to enforce your own rules. Talk about a fast track to breeding discontent, both for people who have to deal with your policies and for yourself when people mysteriously stop taking you seriously.
  • Parade your ignorance. It makes sense that one person can’t know everything about everything. But don’t make it a bragging point that you have no idea how someone does their job or that you really don’t know what they do. They’ll wonder why they’re following an incompetent.

Leadership from the middle

I see officers as being middle management, mostly because they do (or should) have power to handle enforcing whatever policies your guild has in place, but they aren’t necessarily able to act completely autonomously the way the GM can. From what I have seen there are two basic types of officers, those that are motivated and want to see things happen and those who just let stuff happen around them.

I am swiftly growing to loathe the second type. (Note: type, not specific people, lest any of my officers who read this try to take that the wrong way.)

Unless the GM wants a bunch of sycophantic yes-men, the ones who take no interest in performing their duties are wasting everyone’s time. They are the people who don’t have a lot of assigned duties and barely do even those. They don’t check the forums often, or if they do, they don’t contribute to the conversations that are going on, let alone start a serious discussion of their own initiative. They are probably friendly, personable people that everyone likes, but when it gets down to it, they should be doing PR as regular guildies instead of stonewalling decisions that need to be made by taking forever to form an opinion about anything or vote on it.

Give me officers who, when they see a problem, not only point out that there’s a problem but who also propose solutions to said problem.Even better, give me officers who are proactive enough to try to forecast a little and say things like, “You know, I noticed that our raid rules have a loophole here and guildie Z is known to try to exploit stuff like that. We might want to work on nailing that down to avoid trouble.”

And what if they then added, “Here’s some text you can look at. Let me know what you think.”

I would personally eHump that officer.

Levels of effort aside, the other thing that has to be – and is! – watched carefully is how do these officers behave? Do they embody the rules that you try to operate under or do they believe their title grants them immunity from following them? If it’s the latter, oh, there are problems. Guild members who are not officers and who believe that position of leadership = perks will notice and they will get disgruntled and there will be shit hitting your fan. It might take time to build up to that, true, but it will be all the more ugly when it happens.

Having been an officer of a guild for, oh, some time now, I can also say this with some certainty: If you’re an officer, you should be feeling like you have important work to be doing in game. Is it a game? Absolutely. Should it be fun and not all work? Of course. But if you signed on as an officer, there’s more to it than having a special channel to talk in for fuck’s sake. It’s on you to resolve problems, be available for people to talk to about concerns, organize events and raids, contribute to building a guild-wide community of people through initiating conversations in guild chat, make sure the bank is being used properly, help new people get started on whatever raiding path you have, monitor your guild chat to make sure nothing offensive is happening there, step in to help those in need as you have time and ability, keep track of who is who in alt-heavy guilds and make sure people are where they should be in terms of rank and on and on and on.

If this sounds nothing like anything you’ve ever experienced as an officer, you’re doing it wrong.

Of course, that means that there’s someone else in your guild leadership team who is trying to handle some or all of that, maybe with help and maybe without. Only a team effort from all officers can make being officer less like bloody, goddamn hard work and more like putting in some effort here and there to maintain a working structure and keep the wheels moving.

As a final thought about this position – if you’re afraid to take a hard line on anything because people might not like you, you are in the wrong place and should volunteer to step down posthaste.

Leadership from the top

I don’t have any brilliant – or even mediocre – observations about the top dog. I’ve held myself back for the past several years from truly seizing that power in the GM world. Co-GM has been fairly meaningless in terms of my just saying “this is what I think and I’mma grab the bull by the horns and just do it.” I take pains to consult with the officers and I can’t say that I’ve given a whole lot of directives.

That might be about to change. Because if there is one thing I believe about the top dog person, it is that they should work harder and longer than anyone else at making sure whatever it is they are leading is a success. Frankly, At has been checked out for some time and has become the type of “leader” that I bashed so heavily above.

Possibly I will screw up a lot and perhaps even fail. But I’m personally tired of holding myself back from saying and doing what I want to say and do on the basis that I’m not “really” in charge. It’s been a disservice to both myself and the officers to have me calling the shots but acting coy about my authority when it is directly questioned or challenged.

And even if no one else makes it through this wall of text or does, and finds it all pointless and obvious, I have arrived at a worthy destination. I’m the GM of War Within a Breath, bitches, and I don’t care if you don’t like it.

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sentiments that amuse me

Because otherwise we’d be looking at a whole lot of my scratching my head and WTF-ing all over the place and I just don’t think Yngwe needs another feeding quite yet.

In other words, here are some pics that make me lol:

Unless it’s the weekend….
Visitors suck!
Posted in Acts of Lameness | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Fifty "fun" facts

  1. The first character I ever rolled was a druid
  2. It took me five or six tries to finally stick with a warrior
  3. I once thought my warlock would be my main
  4. I’ve deleted a level 50 priest
  5. And a level 30-something rogue
  6. I have tried gender-bending many times but there’s always something about the movement of a man toon that irritates me to where I can’t keep it
  7. I think that people who won’t play a certain class or race because “it’s too evil” are stupidlame
  8. I also think that no one is going to get addicted to something in real life just because they played a belf who was addicted to magic
  9. Speaking of addiction, the idea that WoW is harmfully addictive is a crock. It’s fun and some people just have no self control
  10. My baby huntard is still BM because I sort of like lol ez mode
  11. I also deleted a 20-something mage back before they super accelerated 1-70 xp gain
  12. I find the death knight class to be boring as hell but I’ll get one leveled anyway
  13. People who act like their time is more important than that of anyone else they are in party/raid with make me stabby
  14. PvP is unhealthy for my desk/keyboard/mouse and At’s ears, so I try not to deal with that aspect of the game
  15. If someone leaves my guild on bad terms I will carry a pretty unreasonable actual hatred of them to the point where I have cheered to hear that someone’s real life fell apart
  16. And yeah, I know it’s just a game
  17. But that doesn’t mean that people can’t be real douches in a fake environment
  18. I once had a GM tell me that my opinion as an officer wasn’t worth his listening to it
  19. That may have been the reason I cheered when I heard his real life fell apart. Maybe
  20. I find that there are some struggles to being female and in a leadership position
  21. But I will never ever use that as an excuse when I make a bad decision or am otherwise stupid
  22. I don’t think being female gets me any perks in WoW
  23. Unless you count being told that being a bossy raid leader is hott
  24. I have gotten a couple pervs before – that was interesting
  25. Even though we sometimes struggle with content for a while I do think Blizz is making the game as a whole too easy
  26. At scoffs at me whenever I start in on how no one should get ponies at 20 or flying at 60
  27. I used to think I would never level fishing or cooking on any character
  28. My main is max exalted with all WotLK factions except Ashen Verdict
  29. Lately I change Alas’ hair every few weeks because I would do it in real life if I could
  30. I think Renaissance faires are an awesome excuse for dressing up
  31. Alas was not supposed to be my main because of her name
  32. I have a different name I use everywhere else online but that name ended up attached to a nelf huntard
  33. That huntard got deleted at 44 to make way for my DK with the same name
  34. I’ve met several of my guildies irl even if it did mean driving to the deep South (imo) to do so
  35. Alastriona is the Gaelic form of my middle name
  36. And I cringe every time someone pronounces it “Alas-tree-OH-nuh”
  37. The first time I healed a raid it was in Kara and I didn’t have any helpful addons, such as grid or healbot
  38. Of course, that was the PUG raid that wiped on chess, trufax
  39. I call At “At” in real life but I almost never call him by his real name
  40. I’m ridiculously addicted to FarmVille, even though I see how brainless it is
  41. Of course, I also deal with faculty and buying random crap for a living (me, every other day: “How the hell do I buy printer memory? Printers have memory?”) so I try to avoid that as much as possible
  42. Unless I plan on writing either the fanfic or the novel, then I’m all worky worky worky
  43. I lol at people with naming conventions
  44. I am super cheap, to the point where even though I have over 30k across my toons, I still won’t buy anything off the AH unless I absolutely have to
  45. The cheapness also means that many of my characters don’t have epic flying
  46. I will not play undead, trolls or orcs because they’re ugly
  47. I will not play gnomes or dwarves because they’re short
  48. I would totally do any draenai  - male or female
  49. I have some moderate OCD tendencies
  50. I needed this list to have a random number and an alliterative title
Posted in Acts of Lameness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This again?

Once again, it seems like a good thing that I don’t have anyone reading this post aside from fellow-guildies and the very occasional person who is bored enough to subject themselves to this rambling. Because there I went and randomly fell off the bloggy world for a while.

It wasn’t that I had nothing to write about. Quite the opposite. I had too much going on and for a lot of it, the things that seemed the most pressing, I knew I needed to take those items up with the officers before I wrote about it here.

Which I did last night and I’m really glad it took so long to get most of us on at the same time because I was able to just say what I wanted to say without (I think) being all crazysauce again, like that one time I let game stress build up and then shot at all the leadership with both barrels and a whole lot of profanity. And yelling. And abuse of caps lock.

And in the aftermath of having divested myself of specific nights of having to be on, be the raid leader, answer all the stupid questions and blah blah BLAH, I really have to laugh at myself and shake my head and acknowledge that I bring this all on myself.

What I like to do, is be in charge. Of everything! All the time! Because clearly, I am the person who cares the most and knows how to do things best! But then it gets to be too much for me to handle. And the game becomes a chore and I find myself making rude remarks about everyone no matter how much I like them or how little I actually know them. And then I go apeshit on the officers like it’s their fault that I feel the need to be in control.

(Well, I only did that once but it was BAD and I was a jerk and I’m still sorry!)

So last night I said, “Guys, I am feeling really overwhelmed again with handling this all the time. It’s making the game not fun for me and that’s a bad thing.”

One officer said, “Haven’t we had this conversation before?”

Well, yes. Yes we had. But the problem was that I just said “I need help!” and the officers said, “We can help! Let us know what to do!” And I said here are some things. Then… eventually… because we never said this is always your responsibility all the time, I allowed them to help in general but no one ever really took anything on and I eventually was doing it all, all over again.

Last night, two officers took on half the raiding schedule between them. I have the other half still. I really think it will take some of the pressure off.

But, I have control issues.

So on the inside, I’m wondering if I can trust these other officers to do it “right.” I wonder if they will have the follow-through. I wonder why I wanted to give up any precious, precious control.

I am a sick woman.

But I’m also the official “has all teh admin power” GM for at least the rest of this last semester of At’s. So I guess that makes me a sick woman with power.

It’ll be a lot of work to let go of my psycho enough to let others do their jobs. I hope it goes well.

And I really do think my fellow officers are awesome, so please ignore the crazy woman huddled in the corner biting her nails and tearing out her hair.

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Half assed Tuesday

I may have mentioned before that I am lame? Here’s an example. Every damn time we go to Pit of Saron, I always, always think Tyrannus is talking to me. Every time. Despite the fact that my name is not simply “Alas.” I have become too accustomed to being called that by my guild mates and even myself. So, if ever someone in game says, “Alas,” and means “unfortunately,” I still think it’s all about me.

Does this mean I am unfortunate? Could be, could be.

In other news, we finally headed back to Ulduar after spending several weeks away from it working on ToC (with great success) and ICC (with less success). And, hey, what do you know? We plowed right through Thorim and Freya. I missed a shot of Freya, but here’s me flexing in Thorim’s crotchal region:


Wow, dude’s got this sort of like, aura around him, you know?

At (as his shaman) made me laugh because he is also lame:

And lastly, I thought that I saw a famous bloggery type person hanging out in Shattrath. On second thought, it might just be a fan as I am quite certain no one would roll a DK on another server for any reason whatsoever.

<–Very likely not Amber of Bubble Liking fame.

Posted in Acts of Lameness, Raiding, Screenshots | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will your pug fail hardcore?

Has anyone else noticed that it’s relatively easy to tell within about 5 seconds of getting in party whether or not your PUG group is going to fail hardcore? And that you could do so without the help of any add-on or knowledge of GS?

It’s true, I tell you. True!

Here’s how:

1. Peruse the names of the people you are grouped with.
2. That’s it. You’re done!

If the tank is named something like “Greattank” or “Iamawesome” – congrats, that guy won’t hold aggro worth a damn.

If the healer is named something like “Retpally” or “Azzah” – congrats, they’ll have no idea what the hell they’re doing.

If two out of three dps are DK’s, you don’t even need to read for names like “Darkarthas” or “Vaderknight” to know that they’ll just be facerolling the keyboard.

If you end up with my failtank (a pally named Alleluia), run towards the nearest exit as fast as your legs will carry you. I’ll understand if your cat is on fire and you have to go. It happens a lot, apparently.


wow, that was pointless.

Posted in Acts of Lameness, Senseless Blah Blah | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Extra special guest post edition

As the Raid Turns, So do the DPS of our Lives

Hi My name is Jinx Deluna, luckily I know Alas in real life and spend many moments in front of her desk going over whatever raid we’ve been in or whatever is on my mind. She usually has a kind word to say, gives the pep talk and life is good for me. Well it has been Christmas break, days off sick, and I haven’t gotten my Alas time in a few weeks. Then the cookie began to crumble for me and I was getting close to hanging up my raiding keyboard for a simple questing life somewhere else. I had the opportunity to talk to her today and well my mind has been put at ease, to a degree and here’s what was going down.

So several nights ago, we are hitting new areas of Ulduar for our guild and I find myself eating pavement as 9 other people killed the boss with joy in their voices and a dead druid on the ground. Three times this happened, once ok, twice ugh, the third time, I see a pattern here. In order for the raid to kill the boss, Jinx must kiss the ground and watch as her buddies take down that boss that we’ve been struggling over. Dude, I’ll take one for the team but my mind says, “You’re not good enough, your dps sucks anyway and if someone else had died you couldn’t use your battle res cuz your dead on the ground. What good are you?” Then that other quiet but reasonable voice says, Blame it on the healers! And how many times has Asmod died two nights before? And how many times did Noxy have his own macro by the healers because he died all the time? Ok maybe it’s not so bad…maybe…

Then last night OMG everything hit like a brick. First Noxy is sick and I’m at his house trying to take care of a runny nose, fever running, sick boyfriend and his only wish, “Please go to the raid and have fun, it’s ok, really.” I roll my eyes fine, I’ll go.

I show up early as usual, do a few dailies, and notice from the FU that I’m not in a channel that Alas has, I join it through the FU and type: So, where are we headed tonight? It didn’t show up. I typed it a second time and again, it didn’t appear. Fine, I checked my settings and it doesn’t show up that I’m a part of this channel WTF? Check it off and ask a third time, So, where are we going night? What I didn’t realize was that Alas did see it post and answered and just because my chat window didn’t show it, hers was. No one tried whispers or anything to clarify, so what’s up with her snarky remark that I did see? “What about my post Jinxy” or something to that effect. What post? Oh the Kiss My Alas page, went back found the post, it reads something to the effect of things that piss me off: “when someone asks hours before raid where were going.” It wasn’t hours, it was 30 minutes. I want to feel useful, like I’m contributing something, so, now I’m pissed and trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong to get a snarky remark.

(Note from Alas: I feel bad about about that, but it’s also sort of funny in a comedy of errors sort of way)

Then from there it went downhill. Tanks pulled agro without a raid leader designating where ranged DPS is supposed to watch, a pally ran out of mana asking for innervate – what if I needed it, get your own damn mana, I don’t care if you are the tank and are you using Divine Plea, oh wait, I’m almost full, fine, have the damn thing. (Remember, I’m already pissed and normally this doesn’t bother me in the least). Then add almost wiping on a trash pull because people weren’t gathered on the stairs and the biggest thing Star or X? Which one dies first? I don’t want to ask on each pull which mob has to die first, why can’t we use skull and X…EVERYONE else in the game does. So I watch the health bars and see our DPS is split. WTF can we have a little bit of freaking consistency here, is that too much to ask? Please?

(Note from Alas: Bad raid leader is bad. Since it was only the weekly [XT-002], I was being lax. Thought that surely people had a handle on what to kill, when. But Jinx is right. There is not a lot of consistency since the star mark is only for what a certain person is tanking and doesn’t signal anything other than that. Sometimes we need to take down the starred mob first, sometimes it’s the X. We’re going to have to switch back to skull, X or simply say that star = skull so it has to go down first, I don’t give a damn who is tanking the mob.)

So I vent this out at Alas’s desk today with most of the day to cool off and I am actually finding the humor in it, I also found some truth. We need the consistency in raids, people need to know where they are supposed to stand or what is expected. I don’t need the mechanics of the fight but tell me which adds to watch for, folks need to make sure the healers have mana, and for goodness sakes what is a damn ready check for? *smile* OH I get it, just for shits and grins? LOL…one last thing: WHO DIES FIRST?

We have an awesome team of folks that raid. I do enjoy the game and raiding. I fuss over my DPS like it is an only child and feel that everyone is watching Jinx and asking, Why does she get to come to raids, her DPS is the shit. In reality It’s not horrible since I’m a hybrid but everyone else pulls 3500 to 6000 and I’m pulling 2700 to 4000. I feel so inadequate sometimes.  I leaned over Alas’s desk and said, “But my dick isn’t big enough”. She leans in and says, “But it’s a hybrid dick…it is ok.”

Fine, I’ll take care of the sick boyfriend until he’s recovered, then I’ll belly back up to the raiding bar again and take my hybrid dick and kill what I can kill and not fret over the other stuff. …Well, I’ll still fret because it is my OCD but hopefully I will not let the mind chatter muddy the waters.


Note from Alas: And here we are, letting this site be a place to rant. For the record, other guildies who come here, you all can guest post any time. It makes me lol and helps me learn what’s important to you and why.
Posted in Guest posts | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I like to worry in advance

Because that’s also how I roll.

There was some discussion in the officer’s channel last night about people asking about raiding, saying they wanted to. Which, you know, great. But also, I feel as though we’re looking down the barrel of a gun that’s about to go off.

Between various websites and discussions, I’ve counted up several raiders potentially coming back soon. Several of them are excellent and I look forward to getting a chance to raid with them again. The others, meh, they’ve been at the center of some drama (of the mild, loot/raid spot variety) more than once. Or they’ve been really lazy about small requirements, like signing up at the guild forums and reading and agreeing to the raid rules. Also, they’re mostly dps. DPS. We don’t need more dps.

At the same time, Azzah is coming back. Which, yes, I told him to because I wanted some totems to make sweet, sweet love to, and he’s an excellent healer. But along with him comes another dps. A warlock. It used to be that I would murder for ranged dps since we had about 3 billion DKs all wanting to raid like thisismynewmainlol! Now I have one rogue. And 3 billion ranged with more wanting to come back. And people running heroics to gear up and thinking gear = all I need and since they just pug the hell out of things I have never once run with them and I don’t know that they have actual skill which is pretty damned important to me.

All of which is to say, yeah, woo, we have like 5-7 people back or threatening to start raiding or come back to the game and they’re all going to want to get in on ICC raids and I can’t blame them for that. But I don’t see giving up my spot or asking anyone else to do the same when we have been the ones working at this for months and months and there every week learning the fight and gearing up before it was all badge purchasable.

I guess I wish Blizz would stop making gear so easy to get because gear doesn’t say anything any more about skill. And no, I don’t think I’m some elite awesome player. But I know my class and I pull down decent numbers and I have been consistent.

And I don’t want to, in the coming weeks, have this perfect, delicate balance that we’ve finally achieved overthrown by a bunch of fair-weather raiders coming along, buying the gear and expecting to be able to go at the expense of someone who deserves it more. We are not, in all likelihood, going to end up with enough people to man even two full 10-man raiding teams, let alone one 25-man. So there is the very real possibility that within a month, I’m going to be sitting 5-6 people out every night and all I can tell them is:

Team balance first, the appropriate number of tanks, heals and dps and past that it’s first come, first serve.

Hopefully I’m worried about nothing, but I don’t like the way this is looming on the horizon.

Posted in Leadership, Raiding | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

No rants today

Not from this quarter anyway. Working on Emergent. Two versions of the first part of chapter one over there.

Posted in Writing | Tagged | Comments Off

Monday magery (in which I try to actually be helpful)

Last week, I saw a cry for help in Twitter for good mage resources. Since I love mages, my immediate thought was: Ooh, I could help! But as it turns out, the only things I’ve really written about mages were either senseless lists encouraging other people to be jerks or angst at Blizz for consistently giving us crappy changes in the patches and trivializing us to the point of being good for int, focus magic and food.

Anyhow, Miss Bubbles found something else and mentioned it and I Googled it to see what she had discovered. As I started reading through the guide, my instant response was no no no nonononononononono!

Wherefore doth every mage advice giver say “Level frost!”? That advice is shit, so I figured it was up to me to provide an alternate viewpoint in the sea of frost-loving tards to say, bravely and with great conviction, don’t go frost. Go fire. Or arcane. But don’t go frost.

And here’s why – frost is lame. The only thing it is good for is survivability in PvP or PvP-esque encounters (looking at you faction champs!). Aside from that, it is painful and lame and I will mock you should I ever PUG an instance with you. Hard core and behind your back. Because that’s how I roll.

So here, from 10-80, is the way I would spend those precious talent points and why.

Levels 1-9

Ha! You don’t get talents! You do get the basics of your toolbox though.

Spells to watch for: You get all the bare basics here. Food, water, int, fireballs and frostbolts. You’ll also get your first armor, Frost Armor, and sorry, you’re stuck with it for a while. Polymorph also comes into play and both can be life savers so make sure they’re very available.

Level 10-20

This is going to sound a little ‘backards,’ but I strongly advise putting the first 11 points into the frost tree. This is because Blizz is making an obvious attempt to steer people into the frost tree and gives mostly frost-based spells for the first several levels. Like many other classes, mages aren’t actually any fun until about level 20 or so. Thank God they’ve tweaked the mana regen issues too, because the water they let you make is crap. Anyhow, you can’t go wrong with Precision and Icy Veins is an absolute must. So the first three points should go into Ice Floes to reduce that CD for when you get Icy Veins. As soon as you do, abandon the frost tree with all haste. Unless you want to go frostfire at end game, there’s never any good reason to put another point in there. Also as soon as you get Icy Veins, macro that sucker to whatever spell it is you choose to spam.

Spells to watch for: You get a few AoE abilities through here – Flamestrike and Arcane Explosion. Slow Fall is nice, especially when you glyph for it. Blink is your friend in sticky situations, use it with Frost Nova for a quick escape before following up with a Blizzard AoE. Evocation can cut down on drink time so use it whenever you can between pulls.

Level 21-30 Fire

I switched between arcane and fire while leveling Alas, and loved each one fairly equally. In this guide, I will focus on fire only since I do tend to recommend to guild-mates that they go fire just because it’s so damn much fun. There’s a lot of nice stuff to be had, even at the bottom of the tree (or top depending on how you like to look at it. I call it the bottom because it’s the first stuff you get…). In fact, there is so much nice stuff that I often have problems advising people on what to pick up first. I try to lean more towards what I feel would be useful for leveling, rather than what you’ll absolutely want to have for the raiding scene. Since the lower levels are pretty spammy with with the same spell over and over, I am recommending Improved Fireball, followed by Ignite for the DoT effect.

Spells to watch for: You get Scorch, Counterspell and Ice Block here. Use Scorch with wild abandon in your rotation and counterspell is great for bringing casters into melee range when running with a tank. Ice Block is another life saver if you overpull and there’s someone around to help you out. If you’re alone, you’re just postponing squishy, squishy death.  Mana gems also start here and they are delightful to use during pulls so you don’t have to stop mid-fight for Evocation.  

Level 31-40 Fire

This is about the level range you get to start picking up some more interesting stuff. Although I have filled out a few more things in the second tier, you’ll want to go ahead and pick up Pyroblast first. This is a terrific (long cast) spell to start a fight with, especially when it crits. World of Flames will improve that crit chance and then Flame Throwing will increase the distance the mob has to run to reach you. Improved Scorch is handy for having a nice quick spell to toss on a mob that will add an extra DoT. About this point, you should be able to effectively kill most single targets before they reach you.

Spells to watch for: You get Mage Armor! Yay! Start using it immediately. That’s it, unless you think portals are an exciting spell to watch for.

Level 41-50 Fire

If you’re having any sort of mana problems, you’ll want to drop your next few points immediately into Master of Elements to finish filling that out. Otherwise, I would start with Critical Mass and Blast Wave before going back and filling MoE in. You then have several options, all of them good, for where to drop the last four. I would pick up Improved Fire Blast from the bottom of the tree and then grab a few points in Incineration.

Spells to watch for: You get jack diddly through here. No really. More upranks of stuff you have but nothing new to speak of.

Level 51-60 Fire

As soon as you hit level 51, grab Combustion and then add that sucker to your macro with Icy Veins. Then fill out Pyromaniac before darting back up to fill out Incineration and then grab all 5 points in Fire Power. In many ways, this is where the points get harder to place because there is so much lovely stuff and so few points to actually spend.

Spells to watch for: You get jack diddly through here. Except that Arcane Brilliance is nice for having to mass buff parties/raids.

Level 61-70 Fire

There are lots of leveling goodies to pick up here. Start with filling up Hot Streak because there is nothing more wonderful than an instant cast Pyroblast after a pair of crits. Dragons Breath, Firestarter and Empowered Fire are all well worth the points, particularly if you are running a lot of dungeons with mass AoE pulls. Dragon’s Breath is a point I have a love/hate relationship with, because I strongly feel that mobs shouldn’t be close enough to have to use that. However, I have been known to pretend to be a melee mage so I could combine that with Firestarter and instant Flamestrike goodness. If you are doing a lot of AoE/close-to-the-mobs-damage, it is probably worth it to glyph to get rid of the knockback on on Blast Wave to keep everything in your flamestrikes. You’ll also want to backtrack again to pick up a point in Molten Shields. Molten Armor becomes available at very long last at level 62 and you will want to rock that like there’s no tomorrow as soon as you get it.

Spells to watch for: Molten Armor! Invisibility! Tables of food! Spellsteal can also be tons of fun – you’ll soon learn which mobs have nice things to take for your own.

Level 71-80 Fire (leveling)

There are two paths to take at this point. One is to keep the fun leveling talents that you’ll kiss goodbye come raiding because again, all of this has been a leveling spec and won’t net you much but anger from tanks come raid time (I myself nearly got killed back in TK: The Eye for using Blast Wave with the knockback because an irate tank thought he needed to have mobs close to hit them and get aggro). Anyhow, round out the rest of the tree by getting Burnout, Living Bomb (more AoE fun and happiness) and that last point in Molten Shields. After that, you have three points left. I’ve seen many mages put them into Arcane Focus for the +hit. But you might also consider dropping them in Playing with Fire.

Spells to watch for: You get to ditch making food and water separately through here, as well as pick up frostfire bolt at long last (that would be the time to switch to the raid spec, btw). At 80 you get Larry, Curly and Moe, your very own three stooges, who are pretty stupid but are a nice way to drop threat when some big ugly comes after you.

Level 71-80 (prep for raiding)

If you’re looking to raid, you’ll want to respec right around 75, although it could certainly be held off longer. However, you will likely want to give yourself a few levels to adjust to the different play style, because it is different. If you want the cookie-cutter spec, go hit up talentchic.com or something. If you want the Alas frostfire raiding spec, click the link above. Mine is basically the cookie cutter version with a tweak that I personally refuse to live without; namely, ditching Molten Fury in order to keep the two points in Molten Shields. I think I understand the mindset behind putting points into something that boosts damage against targets with less than 35% health given the many, many bosses that enrage or get really difficult towards the end of their life spans. However, increasing overall crit all the time makes more sense to me for a build that relies so heavily upon crit.

This is all turning out to be much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll add something else later about glyphs, stats and rotations in another post. In the meantime, enjoy and stay away from frost.

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