Lessons from writing the warlock column

CFN-style (first draft) because why not.

So the long story short is Alternative Chat suggested Blizzard Watch do some “how to play your class/spec” class columns and I said “yeah ok but you’d do better to go to the Wowhead guides for that info than looking in a class column.”

I figured I was OK saying this as I’ve written several versions of a class guide. I’ve done it in a class column, I’ve done the Wowhead bullet-y style one, and I’ve done the official strategy guide one. I’ve learned since then that Wowhead/Icy Veins, or the longform bullet-y or entirely in-depth guide, is the way to go for most people.

Alt Chat’s argument for class columns was because they felt different. I’m assuming she speaks to the spirit of the class column, because the column writers typically play that class and their enthusiasm shows through their writing.

Yes…and no. Writing a class column is not so simple as stuffing information into 1500 correct words. And learning how to love your class of choice isn’t just about how to mechanically play it.

Class guides are massive

So back up the Twitter feed, I was talking with @Sveltekumquat about saving all your writing ideas and I linked a screenshot of my warlocks binder of Scrivener. Scrivener is the writing software I primarily use because I love it because it caters to my organizational needs without being a complete pain in the ass to maintain. So @Tikari joins in about how I have “inspiration from Arielle” in my trash, which has been there since I got to write the Wowhead boost 90 warlock guide (which became the 100 warlock guide when Warlords of Draenor launched).

So one of the rules guidelines about getting better at writing is to read everything. Read for pleasure, read for interest, read for being informed, but also read to see what both crap writing and brilliant writing look like.

So, I wanna write guides? I read guides. I read all the class guides, whether or not I have a toon capable of raiding or PvPing or whatever. When we came back to redo level 100 Wowhead guides, I had read all of the other class guides & their comments, because I wanted to see what information they included, how they organized the info, did they use full prose or did they stick to sentence fragments, did they use info for the average player or is this straight from BiS sims, what is this. I read Wowhead guides, I read non-Wowhead guides that were on Wowhead, I read Icy Veins, I read Icy Veins forum guides, I read blog guides. I read pet battle guides, I read SC2 guides, I read LoL guides, I read GW2 guides, I read textbooks, I read WikiHow guides, …

I won’t say I’ve read every guide there ever was, but I read guides so I can write guides. I am also the daughter of teachers (who are themselves the children of teachers) so I just have in my DNA I guess to explain things to people in such a way that said things are no longer intimidating and look actually possible if not enjoyable to do.

“Inspiration from Arielle” is a notes-y kind of text file where I have comments on Arielle’s TiB bear forum guide. Why? Because it’s one of my favorite guides when I look for elements of guide writing that I like. It’s neat, it’s clean, it’s compact as far as not rambling around like I tend to do, it’s informative, it’s in-depth, it’s…maaaaaaaaaan, I love this guide.

So from reading all this stuff, especially when I read different guides of the same stupid topic, I learn that there’s a lot of ways to organize things differently. One way isn’t correct all the time, and when it comes to online stuff at least, it generally depends on the format the guide comes in rather than what the guide is on.

When I first got to write the Wowhead warlock guide, it was the first time I’d write a whole class guide. I mean, I’d attempted to write parts of a guide on my own blog, but I never got around to finishing anything, so this was my first complete class guide.

I felt incredibly overwhelmed for a lot of the time I tried to write that guide. I felt like I wasn’t going to do a good job, that I was missing something, that I wasn’t going BiS enough, that I was going TOO BiS, that I wasn’t organizing it correctly, how can like Arielle & Theck & others do these things, the fuck, I’m so terrible. All those things down the rabbit hole. It wasn’t until I was doing the theorycrafting homework with Theck’s Theorycrafting 101 that I realized part of my feeling overwhelmed problem.

Most of the guides that I really admire for guide construction come from hybrid class writers. Which makes a little bit of a difference because they are usually covering a single spec whereas I was trying to cover three.

That’s one of the things that many hybrid mains miss about pure DPS classes, I feel. Pure DPS can’t really be competitive as just one spec. You have to learn all three, or at least two, and you need to be able to do both/all competently if not very well. There’s overlap because it’s the same class and therefore we get the united class feeling — though, less so for warlocks. The core abilities or cooldowns of a rogue may share across specs, but since warlocks have that weird thing of three completely separate resource systems, we actually have zero overlap except for Corruption (aff & demo) and pets.

But pure DPS are weird — we have different specs, but the same role. So you need to explain three different ways of executing the same role. Most people think this is “well, you press 222222222 and stuff dies and then you WIN how hard can it be?” Or the “well EVERYONE plays DPS, how hard can it be?”

OK, baseline DPS is not that hard. But good DPS, excellent DPS, DPS that inspires? That’s a little bit more ambiguous.

The three different ways is a lot easier to lay out & explain than the overarching concept of “here’s how to generally go about DPSing so you can figure out what spec works better when.” Tanks and healers get the hard-to-explain “meters are kinda crap for judging us” that’s pretty obvious, and generally pride themselves on having to know an encounter to get their job done rather than just pushing buttons in a specific order. DPS get the “I have to figure out which of my specs is better for this particular situation so I can figure out which of the three rotations I should be doing.”

So I’m trying to write a unified guide of three totally different specs, but put it in the space where one-spec guides go. Holy unrealistic expectations, Batman.

My Wowhead guide is about 3,000 words, give or take. Bullet/sentence fragment style, intended audience is fresh L100 alts.

My official Draenor Strategy Guide section was just under 10,000 words. Prose style with spell tables, intended audience is newbie players.

Arielle’s guide is about 6,000 words, prose/bullet style, I’m guessing intended for raiding bears, whether new or old.

Class columns are 1000 words minimum (to be justified by what you get paid for them) to 1500 words max.

Why 1500 words? Blizzard Watch Editor-in-Chief (& co-owner) Alex Ziebart actually explains this on the Blizzard Watch podcast Episode #1. Too long; didn’t listen? — It’s a general reading attention span thing. If you for some reason think this is a horseshit explanation for us to continue doing an old constraint, you can go look at what Medium’s been doing to analyze how posts get completely read & what makes a most viewed post.

YES the caveat is that this isn’t a direct correlation with the quality of the post, just how many views you get. But that’s not how business with ads works. You can’t take the writing out of the business of writing and judge it purely on the romanticized Great Writing vacuum. Paid writing is very much about the volume of people consuming your work as well as how good/useful your work actually is.

Which means this rant is probably going nowhere because it’s so goddamn long. Oh well.


The point I’m making is that BW class columns are hella limited spaces for full class guides, especially when read by players who are used to multipost forum guides or sites like Icy Veins. It took me 4 articles on WI (here’s one) to do a whole class guide — one post for each of the 3 specs & then 1 general “which spec do I play when” type. You’re asking a lot of the class columnist when you ask this and, let’s face it, you’re probably going to be disappointed anyway because it’s going to be short/brief/not the glorious in-depth solves-all-your-problems thing you were hoping it was going to be.

Series are dailies not weeklies

I like series of things. I like convoluted plot lines in TV shows and books so I can watch and read them over and over again to get new information each time. I like epic book series that have a million different things going on with a hundred different characters and have family trees and shit in the appendices in the back. I love complex media that take multiple times to absorb.

But I learned while writing Blood Pact that series only really work when they’re consumed in a timespace relative to the wordspace they take up.

For example, I expect A Song of Ice and Fire or the entire Lord of the Rings mythology of books to take several months to finish. It’s thousands of pages, it’s going to take a while, so I’m OK with that timespace because the wordspace is also relatively huge.

4 columns = 6000 words. That’s like, what?, come back here, Medium, ok here it is, average reading rate of an adult is 275 words per minute. So 6000 words is roughly 21 minutes of reading.

Except, it’s a weekly column, so it takes you about 43,200 minutes (30 days * 24 hours * 60 minutes) to finish those 21 minutes.

Don’t do that.

Because blogging posts end up being relatively short (to keep up with the short online attention span of reading articles), you have to have quicker posts in order to keep a series connected. Which is why you have news every hour or 1-2 class columns per day. It keeps you from going “hey, when’s the next part?” too much. We want a little bit of that so you’ll come when the next part releases, but too much and people get bored or angry or both.

I remember Alex emailing us once, because the class columnists were all doing one little series or another within their columns, and he was like “stop, it’s not really worth it.” And I remember, I was silently like “yeah but I’LL get it to work because MY EGO KNOWS BEST” and then …

It doesn’t work.

Don’t do a series within a weekly column, unless it’s a series of 2. A class how-to guide one per spec is about the only series that works and even that one means only 1/3 of the class is listening at any given time. (“Oh, this week is on destro, I don’t play destro, I don’t care *skip*.”)

You CAN, however, possibly do a once-in-a-bit series within a class column. There’s patch notes, for example, that occur every few months. Loot lists happen every few months. Which spec is currently performing best/worst. Of course, they coincide with content releases, so it’s not a planned series. But you can do these sort of occasional yet categorical column posts that everyone knows is coming and they won’t be mad when you deliver one of those that week.

So you can have a series of one-offs that you do every 4 columns or whatever. But you can’t do a part 1 of X posts series within a column.

Will I ever do warlock soloing guides for the old raids in Blood Pact? Yes, but not in a row. (I’m thinking maybe monthly, since it’ll take me 2-3 weeks to do each spec on my main or an alt — look, I have 2 warlocks, but one is geared and one is quest greens.)

Will I go over how to play a warlock in specific fights? Maybe, but not in a row, and really, I’d probably just do one column of here’s warlock tips on LFR for alts because by the time I figure out all the regular raiding tricks on my main, you probably have, too.

Will I do spec guides? Yeah, if it turns out we’re all doing [Spec] 101 articles across all the class columns and it’s a THING we’re doing. Definitely if it’s a special longer article that’s allowed, because, of course, no more AOL means more freedom. But that’s ultimately up to the editors. I’ll keep assuming 1500 is my max.

But that’s kind of what the column is for anyway — how to play? — so I’d rather go to my new model of taking a specific bite of a rotation or strategy and analyzing it further. I can build up over time what is essentially a wiki of how to warlock in general so my content both lasts & is useful.

The thing about the Wowhead guide is I have to update it every time we get a new raid tier or significant patch note change. While you can go back and edit blog posts, typically you don’t go back & change months-old posts. (They’re also rather useful left as is, because then you can see where the class went over time. Blog posts make their own historical record, it’s great.)

How to play a class is not the same as how to love a class

Alternative Chat spoke to the feeling of the columns. This is what everyone’s generally been saying since Blizzard Watch resurrected from the ashes of WoW Insider. That BW/WI was always different from MMO-C or Wowhead or Icy Veins or even from regular blogs, because it was a concentrated spot of soul even when delivering the hourly news.

That’s not wrong. In fact, I agree, and further, I want to continue that.

But that’s not the same conversation as choosing the right words to meet a wordcount.

Telling me to write a class guide in a column because the soul of the class columns is what brings people is like saying my skill at playing demonology in a raid scales with how awesome my transmogrification is. You can be awesome at playing demo and you can have an awesome transmog, but one does not necessitate the other.

Really, any monkey who can run Simulation Craft, or look at spell tooltips, or spend 15 minutes on a training dummy, or run things on the PTR, or …any monkey can tell you how to play a class.

Well, not every monkey can do the science/coding/math behind the class mechanics, just to be clear that I’m not dissing theorycrafting here. That stuff is complex when it comes to figuring out exactly which questions to ask & I /salute to those who do it.

But any monkey can go read the conclusions by theorycrafters and dress it up in a guide.

Not every monkey can inspire you or otherwise get you to love a class. That’s the part that comes from the heart, and that’s the part that has to happen over every article in a class column.

You can do it with one-offs — I did soul a lot of the time by doing my narratives. The Kanrethad one comes to mind. And I still catch flack for it; my narrative stuff always had one or two comments about how it felt like it was some personal diary or blog rather than something “worth” being in the column.

One of the things I experimented with was the narrative loot list. Sure, you can argue I’m not doing much — I’m basically finding all the Wowhead links for whatever’s in the Dungeon Journal loot list. I’m hardly even telling you which piece to pick up. Strictly content speaking, it’s a bit of a fluff piece that takes some tedious work to put together.

But the way I do it — that’s what people like about it. I crack puns with the loot, I diss mages with the loot models, I frame the specs against each other with whether a piece is crappy or not based on the stats. I sometimes use the loot in a brief mention of the boss’s strategy, like making the obvious joke on running away from something while linking some leg slot piece.

There’s a mini poem in my BRF one. Just you wait.

Why did I even try to do a prose-y loot list? Why not contribute some actual info about best-in-slot pieces? Because I got bored reading bulleted loot lists. I got bored writing them — it’s just copypasta central that puts me to sleep. I still have to copy loot links with my narratives, but it’s more fun to figure out which words I’m going to link instead of just the same, old, boring loot name.

I also wanted to experiment with writing in short bursts without losing much meaning. As you can probably tell by now, I am bad at writing briefly. Having to do an entire raid instance in one post means each boss only gets about maximum 75 words each to cover all of its loot.

14 bosses in Throne of Thunder + 2 world bosses: 1200 words. Actual post: 1243 words.

16 bosses in Siege of Orgrimmar: 1200 words. Actual post: 1110 words. (shorter?!!! Fuck yes!)

But the secret that everyone simultaneously knows and doesn’t know about writing is that when you have fun writing, the reader has fun reading. When it’s a chore, it shows, when it’s fun, it shows. I had the most fun when I was doing ludicrous things like “so, I need to write a boss strat for Kanrethad. But this fight is SO AWESOME how can I show this CAN I ROLEPLAY THIS why not.”

Do you like reading a pamphlet about a place or do you like going on a museum tour? I far prefer the museum tours with enthusiastic tour guides and I bet you do, too, so I’m not going to write about the most efficient way to solo Karazhan in the fastest time possible, I’m going to tell you to do silly non-technical things like look at the ceiling while clearing Opera trash in whichever spec you like playing.

(Seriously, look at the Opera house ceiling. It’s the best.)

I love my warlock when it’s the best class. I love my warlock when it’s the worst class. If you’re just here for the shinies and the numbers, that’s fine, whatever floats your boat, but my hope is that you continue reading Blood Pact for the fun and flavor and because I make a good read, not because I make some bookmarkable rotation lists once or twice an expansion.


Lessons from writing the warlock column

Draenor warlock guides from me


In March 2014, when the class columns ended at WoW Insider, I joked that it was my fault. I’d beaten the Warlock Columnist Curse twice over, and it was so mad it lost that it had to take all the class columns with it.

Dear Warlock Columnist Curse:

Look at all those WI alums. Long live class columns!

— Poneria

P.S. Magdalena & Chaithi are also awesome people anyway.

I had to double-check the email when it came in the summer from BradyGames — it couldn’t possibly be true that I’d be invited to contribute to a real, official, printed-on-paper book, right? But it was true — Anne had put my name into the pot and I got to work with her again! (Ken Schmidt is another other editor/writer on the project.)

It’s surreal for me to see my writing in the same context as the smell of a newly printed book, but there it is. That’s my writing there, all over the Warlock section. That’s mine. What? Wow, that still repeatedly blows my mind.

I’m keeping my copies for personal reasons, but a couple of the other section authors are holding giveaways for one of their copies:

  • US entries: Chase Hasbrouk aka Alaron @ The Fluid Druid
  • AUS/NZ entries: Matt Sampson aka Binkenstein @ TotemSpot
  • Sorry, EU! None that I know of

I think maybe Bink’s giveaway is over (it was limited to the end of BlizzCon), but Alaron’s is still going on for another day.

If you’re reading me here, you probably already know all of the information in the Warlock section. It’s a newbie’s guide — veteran players will know where to find more advanced DPS tricks online — but I’m still super proud of the work I did from July to the beginning of October.

Right after I sent in my final drafts, Wowhead approached me to update the warlock class DPS guide, so I did that, too. It’s got some typos in it as I still haven’t figured out how they copy my text into the tooltip generator, but I’m still working against burnout to clean some of it up.

Burnout? What burnout?

I’ve been guide-writing in some form or another since July, or 4 months straight. Moreover, other IRL aspects of my life have started demanding more. While I’d love to put out quality like WoW Insider or Wowhead can do, I simply don’t have as much time to spend on it as I once did. I got a promotion in my “day job,” so I basically did IRL work, came home, did guide work, slept, repeat. I didn’t have much recharge time for just me aside from mindless D3 slaughtering.

I’ve been quite burnt out on writing guides for the past couple of weeks, especially when it comes to a really broad audience — optimizing gear lists, for example. While I have organized a few gear list notes for myself, I haven’t gotten around to doing the typical column Ultimate Bookmarkable Gear List guide stuff because getting it all “correct” is super stressful for me. There is also a wide variety to gear in Draenor, at least to start with, and while that’s fun for the player playing through the game, it makes guide-writing that much more stressful, because it’s more to organize.

But that doesn’t mean I’m stopping guide-writing. I’m just taking a break, is all. I’ve earned one.

Knowing myself, I will probably have lists worked out as I level in Draenor — I’ve started my raid loot lists, already. I also figure that the people who would use a gear list right out of the starting gate have probably already found their roadmaps and therefore don’t need my guides anyway. So I’m not worried about it.

But if you’re going to take your time leveling and you like my writing, feel free to read what I have to list, whenever it is that I share it.

Draenor warlock guides from me

On writing warlock news

I’m taking a break from raiding. I’m actually on a physical vacation, too — with my desktop, no less! yay driving — but I’m burnt out on wiping and attendance issues in Siege of Orgrimmar. I feel frustrated and annoyed to waste time when I could be having fun in D3 or SC2 or GW2 or even Archaeology in WoW or writing or any number of things that are not unfocused SoO raiding.

I’m actually enjoying the break so far. I’m having loads of exploratory fun in D3 with my full class set of softcore 70s, though I figure I will go back and try to get the full 70 set on hardcore again. If you see posts on D3, it’s because it’s what I’m playing and am interested in. I’m far from a theorycrafting expert in D3 (I’m not even one in WoW, c’mon, get real), so stuff might be wrong or suboptimal, but I don’t really care. It’s the exploration into how stuff works that’s the fun part for me.

Despite not raiding, I am keeping up a little with the various Warlords of Draenor news that trickles in. While I only summarize for Final Boss right now, the rest of the FBTV crew is definitely interested in WoD changes related to progression raiding, of course. I also keep an eye out for warlock information, because …I can’t really stop being a fan of warlock things.


Know Your Lore: Warlocks

The past couple of days, Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider posted a two-parter Know Your Lore on warlocks. First part covers the history of warlocks while the second part names famous canon warlocks. While I’d love perhaps more in-depth on each warlock (would Nobbel have some?), it’s still cool to remember all the warlocks in the canon game out there.

Matt told me while the first part got posted that I’d see a familiar warlock on the front page soon. In fact, both of the parts have headers that were originally mine; it’s just the second one that is more recognizably my warlock. The first header with the demo-warlock makes sense — demonology and the dominance of demons is the flavor of warlock that most canon warlocks fit. As with the whole petless controversy we have from time to time in game mechanics, generally the demons and fel magic are essential to Azeroth’s universe definition of warlocks.

The second header…I don’t know. There are plenty of other warlocks he could have used — Gul’dan, for instance, even though Gul’dan has his own posts on himself and is just mentioned and linked to in this post. Archimonde or Kil’jaeden could be there. Cho’gall gets talked about. Heck, my spoilerific Kanrethad image with the name over his head could go there. But he went with my character face-on, and then suggests in the last paragraph successors to the Council of the Black Harvest. (I figure if he meant to have simply a player-character warlock, he wouldn’t have mentioned to me specifically about which one it was. The image has been used elsewhere before, anyway.)

The new warlock might be confused — why would Matt be suggesting player characters as replacements to an otherwise lore-based group? In fact, Kanrethad is the only completely fictional warlock. Jubeka, Zinnin, Shinafel (aka Shinafae), Ritssyn (or Nisstyr), and Zelfrax are (or were, at the time of green fire development) high-calibre warlock players. You could go as far to say that only player-character references should be considered for future Council members, to keep the tribute going.

But I don’t know that I’m actually worthy enough to sit canonified on the Council. I’m not amazing at DPS, I’m not a warlock theorycrafter, and I haven’t really contributed that much to the community at large, I feel. Matt argues that I get a spot because I lasted the longest in the Defense Against With the Dark Arts chair at WoW Insider. (Though, I want to mention that Cynwise’s old tweets are now @_cynwise. The old account is now placeholdered by an anonymous someone else, apparently.) When the class columns were finished back at the end of February, Matt was also kind enough to say that I “came in and owned Blood Pact.” So thanks, Matt, I feel honored now.

But did I really do anything? Did I offer worthy criticism or guides? Did I get new players interested in warlocks (or were they already interested and going to play anyway)? Did I represent warlocks well enough? I’m not sure about that. I still have some improvement to do as far as my writing guides or my critiquing content goes.

Cynwise wrote a book on warlocks that was pretty central and significant to the following expansion, for fuck’s sake.

All I did was refuse to shut up about warlocks at WoW Insider for two years. I learned a lot — about writing, about blogging, about news-style writing, about comments/views/audiences, etc. — but I don’t think that I inspired anything worth me being made into lore.

wholebodyshrinkagolemMy Significance

I wanted to do a “famous warlocks” in a downtime Blood Pact — perhaps, if I had still been writing, it would come out around now. I don’t mean the famous warlocks of lore like Matt did for KYL; I mean, I had in my ideas or drafts folder for a while to write about the warlock community, highlighting specific theorycrafters or streamers or top-end raiders. That’s why I was rather thrilled about the one time I covered Final Boss’s early warlock episode with Shinafae & Sparkuggz, before I’d join Final Boss. Amijade did something similar already with warlock bloggers, but I wanted to open up the resources into high-end play beyond, say, the Icy Veins thread.

After covering MoP beta with all the warlock changes, I’m fairly forever burnt out on patch note excitement. Everything can and will probably change by the end. The pressure to always be “right” about information combined with the constant 24/7 nature of web content resulted in a constant stress that I don’t like and that I ultimately found I don’t want to deal with. The Blood Pacts I remember hating to write were when new patch notes arrived but were mostly numerical changes; “X ability got nerfed by Y%” is so godawfully boring to compile. People demand it anyway, even if they have already read it through a dataminer. It’s a merit badge to check off doing. So I’m done with covering the absolute up-to-date patch notes.

The posts I remember loving to write were either critical thinking — like, remember the casting while moving post? Even if I got Auto Shot wrong, it was fun — or they were the narrative pieces. Straight loot lists are boring to me because we all know we’re going to either simulate our gear anyway or a theorycrafter will have posted a Best in Slot (BiS) list elsewhere already. Loot lists that involve the history or references of items or explore the various transmogs or pets you can loot? Those are interesting to me. Narratives are also fun for obvious reasons, and I like taking things like general guides and rewriting them as stories.

I like putting flavor into things, and I like reading things with flavor in them. So I’m steering myself back in that direction and going back into writing things for pleasure rather than because I “should” be writing it (guides, the pressing Issue of the Patch, BiS loot, etc.) or feeling like I otherwise artificially “have” to write it.

On […]

Cynwise might fit on the Council of the Black Harvest because he’s analyzed the ins and outs of warlocks, but he’s not a personal hero of mine because of warlockery. I’m a Cynwise fangirl (there, I said it) because of the same thing Psynister once said to him:

He said that I was a good, thoroughly competent Mage player, but it never seemed like quite the right class for me.

“It’s because you play Warlocks with style,” he said. “You’re a good Mage. You’re an awesome Warlock.”

It took me a while to absorb what he meant by that. What did he mean by style? Style is joie de vivre, style is letting the world know you’re having fun with what you’re doing. I had that on Cynwise.

There’s a certain freedom and honesty in Cynwise’s CBM writing that I craved & still crave a little. Specifically the “On [Topic]” posts he had. He didn’t spend time on some overarching structure with a clever title; it was just THIS TOPIC and then GO.

Blood Pact was necessarily restrictive in word count, but also, as time went on, I found it restrictive in content as well. I unfortunately tried too hard to please everyone all the time, and burnt myself out many times in the process. When I did indulge myself in a narrative or fun piece, I usually got the starkly split comments: either the piece was viewed as “useless” and “boring” because it wasn’t the latest Issue of the Patch, or I received a circle jerk positive comment that didn’t really give me anything to build on (what was good? I still don’t know). I wanted to feel accomplished and happy with my work, and it was almost always exclusively one or the other, not both.

I have a bookmark in my “Writing” folder called Titty Sprinkles, and I revisit it a lot for a reason. I have yet to take Cynwise off his writing pedestal yet (sorry!), but my inner CFN editor has been growing stronger. Perhaps not on a writing basis — I’m still as anxiously constipated as ever — but starting with the decision to take my first ever break from raiding, and extending outside of the game. I’m figuring out what my time is worth, and what I want to do with it, rather than what I feel like I, as a warlock writer, should be doing.


Possible Future Blog Topics

I’m playing D3 a lot right now. I still love it, and I love the solo player aspect of it. I like creating my own spreadsheets for how to crafting things (farm spreadsheets in WoW were fun, too!). I like playing builds that are fun to press buttons with, not necessarily to do the best damage. I play with Haunt/Spirit Barrage on my witch doctor (with a helpful horde of Zombie Dogs), and I’m working on seeing if I can build my way into a smite/ranged Crusader style. I find it hilarious to shoot at mobs from behind gates or across the way in Pandemonium despite being on a primarily melee-based class.

I’ve thought about doing a playthrough video of Starcraft II campaign, since I’ve just gotten into SC2. But I play more D3 right now than SC2, and trying to put meaningful commentary on it makes the SC2 playthrough feel like a merit badge to complete instead of something I actually enjoy doing. So that’s on the burner for now.

I am still subscribed to WoW, though I’ve barely logged in at all. I am still chasing the Scimitar of the Sirocco item (for transmog!) & Seeker of Knowledge title in Archaeology and I still enjoy soloing old raids from time to time. I thought about combining a writing challenge with raid soloing by writing a guide to the soloed instance/boss in the form of a narrative or roleplay. But that takes a lot of planning before I’m satisfied enough for publishing, so that won’t happen for a while.

Warlock news from the alpha will be flying around. I do mean to highlight those who are blogging, theorycrafting, streaming, or whatever else content creation is going on. I myself won’t be creating too much guide content on warlocks — I prefer to wait until it’s all settled and almost released. But as part of Final Boss and by extension Sentry Totem, I’m still going to be around a ton of community that will be producing content. Though some reach larger audiences than I ever will, I still like to pass the word on when I see something cool.

For example, I had a lot of fun trying to write up the enhancement shaman episode summary as the old ShamWOW commercial, so you should go read it to get a laugh for the day.

I will probably tag non-WoW content as what it is. There will likely be a Diablo III or D3 tag and/or category soon.

So, uh, yeah, that’s it. I’m going to start writing other things now.

On writing warlock news

Find me at FinalBoss and Wowhead

While there hasn’t been much news on the class information front for Warlords of Draenor, I’ve been writing elsewhere about WoW.

Attn: Boosted Warlocks

wowhead-guide-warlock-iconYou already know I wrote a series of warlock guides before leaving Blood Pact, but Wowhead came to me after the class column cuts and asked if I’d like to write a warlock guide for the freshly boosted 90s.

Wowhead has revealed its new class guides, and yep, I helped make the warlock one.

So go forth, use it, comment on it, etc.

Do keep in mind that it’s intended for the freshly made warlocks, and therefore it assumes one isn’t going to jump hardcore into the class on the first day. If you’re wondering why I forgot about min/maxing gear or a BiS list or why isn’t demo stance-dancing on there, it’s because new people just simply don’t need to be overwhelmed with that info. There are plenty of boosted 90s who are still trying to get the hang of which pet to use, nevermind spellplay tricks.

A guildmate boosted a warlock with the intent to raid immediately in heroic Siege with us. While he has the company of myself and two other guilded warlocks (plus a former warlock turned healer) to ask questions, other fresh warlocks might not. The biggest change he’s noticed that helped him a lot was some UI changes to help play affliction. Good thing I’ve written a warlock guide on those elements as well:

Penultimately, if you are planning on jumping into Siege with your new warlock, I’ve already written the loot guide for that as well.

Finally, it is a PvE-focused guide with a few snippets of PvP information, but I’d like to help out on the introducing warlocks to PvP front as well. I need help on that, and unfortunately it’s hard to find PvP information that isn’t outdated by a couple of seasons or is just straight gearing advice. I’d like to help introduce warlocks to tips and tricks on how to PvP as a warlock, whether that’s the use of pets or various talent use or how specific arena compositions with warlocks work.

So if you’re a PvP warlock and you would like to help spread the PvP love, you can email me here at my blog with tips and tricks or links to your own guides, whether it’s a blog or a Youtube/Twitch channel. (I already subscribe to a few PvP warlocks on Youtube; Twitch depends because I can’t always catch the streams live.)

Quipping for FinalBoss

firelord-finalbossYou should catch up on episodes of FinalBoss if you’re not already watching the show.

FinalBoss is a videocast about high-end raiding. They bring in the best of the best in the PvE world to come talk down to earth about their class and spec. If you can’t make it to the live Twitch stream every Sunday at 1pm Pacific (4pm Eastern, 10pm CET), the show uploads on Mondays to Youtube and Stitcher or iTunes for the audio-only version.

It really shows how well Bay organizes it all. The questions are direct and specific, the interviewees have answers prepared, but the show’s not so rigid it can’t have fun at the same time. I’m behind the scenes a little bit now, and I can see the level of work and organization that goes into making the show; these guys & gals work hard to make a quality show every week. It’s been a great crew to work with so far.

Previously, former Inconspicuous Bear Reesi was writing the intro blurbs for each episode. Now I’ve stepped into her shoes to quip and recap for the show before the episode uploads each Monday. From Episode #32 onward I’ve written the episode intro, and I’m quietly lurking in the chatroom each Sunday taking notes. Summarizing a 60-90 minute show in under 300 words is a little bit of a challenge for me as a writer, so I find the work entertaining.

Whenever you read an episode intro by me, I hope you like puns.

So come by and say hello, and stay a while to watch a pretty awesome online show about PvE in WoW.

My guild is recruiting!

We’ve got some spots opening up for the rest of Siege of Orgrimmar until Warlords of Draenor.

We’re specifically looking for:

a tank of any class
a paladin (or two) of any spec
ranged DPS

urbannerGuild progression: We’re a 25-man guild on Alliance-side US-Elune (PvE). Our focus is to complete the content when it’s current and heroic modes are gravy to us. That said, we’re also 10/14 25H right now, and Thok is our current brick wall.

Atmosphere: We have a lot of written rules, but don’t let that bog you down. We run with EPGP as our loot system, and if we’re gearing you up, you’ll tank your PR plenty. We have lots of in-guild jokes you can pick up on during trash in raids. If you don’t see us in WoW, a good half of us are playing Diablo III in the UR clan.

Raid Hours: We raid Wed/Thurs/Sun, typically starting at 8pm Eastern/server and ending at 11pm, with one 10-15min break somewhere in the middle. We may or may not trim our raiding hours or days down as we go into summertime, so let us know if you’re interested even if the hours aren’t quite right!

Gear/Experience We’re Looking For: While we can bring applicants up to speed in experience and gear, we’d prefer an experience minimum of 14/14N Siege in either 10 or 25man. We’d love you more if you have heroic experience and gear.

Sounds great! How do I apply? Just make an account on our forums with your intended main’s name and put up an application for our officers and members to look at.

Yo, I got questions about your guild!

  • Our coGMs: Mindalen + Ranico
  • Our other officers: Lissanda + Trusker + Zweibella.
  • If you want BattleTag contact: Lissanna#1777 or Mindalen#1769.

You can also talk to me on Elune at Ponerya or on BattleTag as Poneria#1125. Just give a friendly message about your class/spec LF guild in the BattleTag request so I know what’s going on with a random person on my Battletag requests.


Find me at FinalBoss and Wowhead

Long live Blood Pact

So, I lasted two years and am still standing. That’s a pretty good run as Defense against with the Dark Arts columnist. Some speculate that the column’s curse backfired so hard against my tenure that it took all the other class columns with it since I was about to start my third year.

Whoops! MY BAD, Y’ALL.

Blood Pact for me

I’ve written 88 posts for Blood Pact alone and over 130,000 words for WoW Insider overall. I hope I did the column justice. WoW Insider certainly taught me a lot, whether it was how to fit a complex topic into 1500 words (or maybe a little over!) or that comments don’t reflect views at all. I now understand the power of tags and categories as well as linking to other pieces and how to choose topics (though I don’t quite get timing yet).

We got a review of our page views just before getting the super bad news, actually, and while the top post of mine (~28k views) for the past year was a patch 5.4 recap for warlocks, the 2nd highest views — only a mere 650 views behind #1 — was that old post on how to kill dragons for dragon mounts. The 4th highest was the Karazhan solo post.

Patch news is fleeting; flavor activities are forever fun.

I think I’ve found myself a little more in writing for Blood Pact, and I hope it’s reflected in my last posts — I want to inspire old and new warlocks to love their warlocks, not merely reiterate the latest BiS patch notes. That’s not to say accuracy can go out the window, but I’m not going to sacrifice the flavor and beginner guides just to score points with the elite.

Narrative-style guides like the loot posts and the Kanrethad stuff were my favorite posts to write. It was fun trying to get all the details in without ruining the story.

So I passed on the chance to talk about the latest information on the level 100 talents from Warlords of Draenor and decided to leave my mark as a 101 guide (albeit still PvE-heavy):

It was a little bittersweet writing guides about the “end of Mists” for each spec as it was the end of writing at WoW Insider for me and, well, writing spec guides for how to basically be a warlock at max level (compare, 85 to 90) was a few weeks into how I started the column as well.

My personal favorite columns were:

Feel free to share your favorites or the ones you found most useful in the comments!

What now? Will I continue to write about warlocks?



I’ll write opinion pieces here, for sure, and maybe even getting around to doing full-length guides. I’ve already started to fiddle around with doing guides at Wowhead.

For now, though, the content I made at WoW Insider belongs to WoW Insider/AOL, so you won’t see me duplicate any of it here. In a few days, I’ll put together a post of all the essential Blood Pact reading for those who are catching up or rerolling to the Best Class for Warlords of Draenor.

How affected am I?

Right now I’m in a bit of a financially crap situation. As summer approaches, my main income also goes down, so already not having what I got from WoW Insider is going to make everything feel worse. I do have support in other sources, so I’m not completely SOL, but I’m not in a great spot at the moment. I need to find another second job, basically, which might mean less WoW.

Donations box! Can I help you pay your rent/food/books/game time?

…I’ll think about it, but I’m not likely to do it at this time.

I appreciate any offers like this, but I’m still too proud to really accept them properly.

Even if I did put up a donations box, I feel like there’d be a one-time rush, which doesn’t make for a sustainable income. I’m looking for a long-term income, not a temporary bandaid.

TL;DR if I could find another writing job, particularly one about WoW, that would be super swell! But I’m not expecting one.

I was also planning on returning to school (college), but that might be trickier now with less income. I’m 100% less single now than when I started playing WoW, which takes its own time out of the game. I’m also starting to get “old” in WoW terms. I’ve been playing my warlock for six years without a single break, which is more than most people do.

It’s all up in the air at this point. I’d like to continue playing my warlock in Warlords — it’s not the game that’s the problem. I still love my warlock. I’d also like to continue writing concerning warlocks in Warlords, because I learned quite a lot from even doing research for Blood Pact. I still want to highlight warlock PvP more, for instance.

It sucks, but I’ll get through it.

Where would I write about warlocks?

Well, I still have this old place. Perhaps nobody anymore would know where the flip I got the name for the blog, but it’s mine, it’s already established, and it’d be easy to move back here. Even if I cringe at my lack of organization and online writerly immaturity that still lies here.

Maybe I’ll redo the site a little. Who knows. I do have the advantage of being able to do things over 1500 words now, though I’ll probably still swear using “fel” and “Gul’dan” instead of real swear words.

If you enjoyed my time at Blood Pact, you’re welcome to stick around here for more if more appears. Thanks for reading this far in the first place.

Thank you to all my colleagues and bosses at WI; y’all taught me a lot, whether you edited my post directly or wrote a column or post that I sometimes stole ideas from. I’ll just go back to being a plain ole reader of the site, and I hope my readers join me in my continued support of WoW Insider.

– Megan O’Neill, aka “Poneria”

Long live Blood Pact