Changes Coming

For those of you who are unaware, I haven’t had a full-time, steady job in quite some time. I was in university for longer than I probably should have been, supplemented income with web clients and such, had a fortunate thing happen to me which allowed me to not worry about money for a while and, since graduating from university, I’ve been looking for work.

While looking for work, I’ve explored different avenues for making money. Among them, my guides. I’ve also done some web work and have complained (at length) on Twitter about some nightmarish clients.

Today, I was officially offered a position for full-time work in my field (!) (no details for you guys yet, sorry!) and, because I am not stupid, I accepted it.

What this means for me:

  • Working Monday to Friday from 9am-6pm
  • Going to bed no later than midnight Sunday-Thursday
  • ZOMG A STEADY PAYCHEQUE
  • A distinct lack of this thing called “free time”

What this means for you:

Definite interruption in content production. Specifically:

  • Changes to the podcast schedule. I’ve been releasing most episodes on Sunday night/Monday morning. This may change to something like Sunday afternoon or Monday evening.
  • A delay in my guides. I wanted to release my Raid Leader’s Guide in August/early September. That is almost certainly not going to happen now. As of right now, before even starting work, I’m thinking we’re looking at late October/early November. On the plus side, it will almost certainly beat Warlords of Draenor to release. ;)
  • A delay in my Sneak Peeks. I generally write for my guides and then look over the content and select 2000-3000 words for sneak peeks and release those every week. Well, most weeks. With the interview process and such this week, I had no time to write, much less release a sneak peek. The best way to be kept up to date on my guides and sneak peeks is by signing up for my announcement list. With an upcoming bizarre schedule, I’ll do my best to aim for a new sneak peek every two weeks, but I can’t promise anything yet.
  • Possibly more blogging (?!) just so I have an outlet to talk about WoW stuff — assuming I have time to still play WoW.

Crap. I just realized that I may not be able to pull an all-nighter when Warlords comes out. That’d be a first for me. (Well, not really. I wasn’t here for the launch of Mists, but that’s because I was in Italy.) Oh, well, a steady paycheque makes a lot of things worth it. ;)

Anyhow, that’s what’s going on with me. I’m very careful about keeping my “real life” away from my “WoW life” and I didn’t give out any of my WoW-related stuff to my new employer, but I want to remain very vague about things anyhow (hence all the [REDACTED] tweets on Twitter!).

So that’s what’s going on with me. I’m really excited about this and will spend some time planning stuff out. With any luck, there won’t be too large a disruption to stuff you’ve come to expect from me.

That said, there should be a new Kurncast this Sunday night/Monday morning, by the way, and look for content (YouTube?) about the new Naxx “adventure” in Hearthstone after it comes out on Tuesday! (I’m seriously so excited about PVE coming to Hearthstone. I realize this makes me a little sad. I’m okay with that.)

Hope you’re all doing well. :)

7 Days & the Raid Leader’s Guide

I recognize that I’m long-winded and I also recognize that, sometimes, people may feel intimidated about reading 70+ pages of stuff.

Today, I’m introducing 7 Days to Becoming a Better Raider. It’s a week-long email series that takes my Raider’s Guide and compresses and condenses it into the very basics of what you need to know. It’s really the nuts and bolts of my basic raider’s guide and it is delivered to you each day for a week after signing up, for less than a dollar a day. (Seriously, we’re talking five bucks, here.)

I had a lot of fun going through my guide and really paring it down to the absolute essentials. I’m not terribly likely to go back and do this for my GM guide, because that thing is just monstrous, coming in at 358 pages, all told. I’m currently planning to do it as I go along with my forthcoming Raid Leader’s Guide, though!

And speaking of my forthcoming Raid Leader’s Guide, here’s what I’m thinking:

- work begins in earnest this weekend (May 17th/18th) and I’m super excited about it!
- Sneak Peeks will come out on Thursdays and could appear as early as June 12th, perhaps June 19th.
- estimated length will be around 150 pages for the Legendary version.
- aiming for launch in early August.
- price will range from ~$15-~$25 or so, probably $10 for an email series version.

Most of my expectations are dependent on whether or not I have to stop and restart and rewrite entire sections the way I did with my Raider’s Guide, mind you. That said, if things go smoothly, I’m really going to try to put together an email series for this guide as well, at the same time as I write the guide itself, and try to launch it all at once. (That may be reaching a little, but I’m super psyched and very excited!)

Of course, I’d love your feedback, too! Email me (kurn (at) kurn (dot) info) or tweet me with what you’d like to see in a Raid Leader’s Guide! What problems do you run across? What issues do you think need better solutions? Hit me up, let me know!

And, of course, if you’d like to be informed as to when sneak peeks come out or when new stuff is happening (as well as get special discount codes!), then sign up for my free, low-volume, spam-free announcement list! (You’ll also get Module 1 of my Kick-Ass GM guide for free when you do, just as a bonus and thank you.)


Introducing the GUILD PACKAGE!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that, starting today, a new version of my Kick-Ass Raider guide is available. It’s the GUILD PACKAGE! That’s right, if you’re a guild master or a raid leader (or perhaps just a generous person), you can purchase unlimited copies of my Raider guide for your own raid team.

For a limited time, $37 (regular price is $47) gets you virtually unlimited copies of my guide for your raid team members. It’s the EPIC version of the guide, too, not just the basic, rare guide. That means that if you want to get four copies for people, that’s already cheaper than buying four of the $9.99 Epic guides. That also means that if you have 30 people on your roster, for example, and you get this package, you’re paying just $1.23 per guide for all of your teammates. If you’ve got 12 people on your team, that’s just about $3.08 per guide. That’s cheaper than a cup of coffee at Starbucks! ;)

Okay, so it’s not truly unlimited in that it’s really meant for a single raid team, but if you’re the GM of a huge guild with a dozen teams or something, email me at kurn (at) kurn (dot) info and we’ll work something out!

All the details can be found here:

http://kurn.info/raiderguild.html

PLUS, the first 10 people to use this discount code get 15% off. The code is LEEROYJENKINS. (This promotional code is only good for this guild package.)

Looking for something free? No problem. Sign up for my free announcement list (very low volume, no spam!) and get a free copy of the rare version of Module 1 of my Kick-Ass GM Guide! Additionally, I expect to start work on my next project, the Kick-Ass Raid Leader Guide, in May, with sneak peeks showing up sometime in June, so sign up for the mailing list anyway to be notified when this stuff comes out!

Finally, remember that I’m writing the Guild Leadership column over at SentryTotem.com! I’ve got a new column up roughly twice a week at the moment, so be sure to check that out, not just for my stuff, but for all the other quality content on the site. :)

Happy Monday, people!

(PS: This post comes to you from The Storm Peaks where I sit, waiting, ever-patiently. Or, you know, not patiently at all.)

On Leadership

I have a staggering number of drafts in my draft folder, but at 3:53am, I find that I’m inspired to write a post about something that doesn’t exactly come up in any of the 30+ drafts of half-written blog posts.

That is leadership.

Brutall, the GM of Static of Arthas (H-US), has this little YouTube channel and did a video about me and my guides today. I initially wrote to Brutall a couple of months ago (good grief, that long ALREADY?) because I had started watching his videos and I knew that this random bald, bearded dude on the Internet (with an odd affinity for tacos) was on the same page that I was. I’m sure we have differences of opinion about small things, but so very much of what he was saying in his videos was stuff I had either said myself or had written down either on this blog or in my guides.

Today’s video that he released rendered me actually speechless. ME. I know. Inconceivable to think of me as “speechless”, right?! The video was exceedingly kind and positive. It helps that he called me a “young lady”. I don’t think he knows I’m older than he is… ;) But, honestly, I feel honoured that Brutall felt that we ARE on the same page when it comes to World of Warcraft and raiding and leading, because this guy is so charismatic and cheerful and positive and insert all kinds of awesome adjectives here. I feel we are united in our goal to help people out by leading them through problems, helping them to avoid common pitfalls and generally, just to be better at what they aim to do.

In the video, Brutall says that you can recognize a good leader by their passion. Someone who’s genuine, who cares about what they do and where they invest their time. (I feel awkward repeating that because the implication is obviously that I am those things… but bear with me.)

While I like to think that I’ve been a good leader over the years, I wanted to say something that I’m not entirely sure I’ve discussed adequately here before.

I was not born to be a good leader. I learned to be a good leader.

I had the good fortune to go to an all-girls’ private school for the majority of my time in school. Among those people, my classmates, I was pretty much the least ambitious, the least-willing “leader”. I was somewhat apathetic. I didn’t join any sports teams, I was only in a couple of clubs… I didn’t stand out. I didn’t want to stand out. In my final year of high school (that’s Grade 11 up here in the province of Quebec), just about everyone in the grade was given a position of some kind, to better hone their keen leadership skills.

Folks, I dreaded that part of Grade 11. I didn’t want to be a leader. I didn’t want to be the yearbook editor, I didn’t want to be the music head (which was a position my amazingly talented best friend filled). I didn’t want to be a prefect or a house official. I didn’t want to run the school paper. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I ended up being the Head Ambassador, because I was pretty darn passionate about my school, despite not wanting to do a lot of extra-curriculars. I’d spent 11 years at that school and was a “lifer” and, to this day, I still love my old school. So they made me the Head Ambassador which basically meant I organized about 50 girls (Ambassadors) from Grades 9 and 10. I had to organize which girls gave tours to prospective students and their parents and there were also some points where I, along with the Head Prefect, would go to events to represent the school. I’d served as an Ambassador in the new program the year before and was fine talking about my school, my second home, for 30-45 minutes, but managing people? Being a representative for my school? C’mon, now. Ugh.

Aside from the fact that I got to fill in on tours for Ambassadors who were out sick (I missed SO much French class in Grade 11, no joke), it wasn’t so bad. But I still graduated from school kind of wishing that someone else had done it. There was stress involved, lots of time involved… But I did it. And I did it well.

Kurn, seriously, wtf does this have to do with leadership?!

Right, right, sorry. But the backstory was important. :)

I learned, in Grade 11, that I could do a job when I had no one else upon whom I could rely to get the job done. I learned that I could do it well, too. I would just have preferred to have followed a “real” leader around. Years later, I would look back at being Head Ambassador and term myself “a reluctant leader”.

Guys, my entire experience in World of Warcraft is exactly that — me being a reluctant leader. I didn’t want to be an assistant raid leader when my guild first started dipping into Zul’Gurub, but my guild master was relying on me and others weren’t stepping up. So I did. When that very same guild master abandoned our guild, I stepped up. (I maintain that Majik tricked me into stepping up, but he refuses to admit this even years later.) When we formed Apotheosis on June 1 of 2007, we made our buddy Toga be the GM. I assumed half of the raid leader responsibilities and later, the healing lead duties. And later still, when Toga had to step down, I stepped up.

When Apotheosis crashed and burned in early Wrath of the Lich King, I moved to another guild and, within two months or so, I was suddenly an officer and eventually the healing lead. In my next guild, my RL Friend the Resto Druid was my healing lead but then she had to step away for something like three or four months, and GUESS WHO became the unofficial new healing lead? Yeah, that was me.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I keep stepping up when I need to. To this day, I maintain that as long as I am being adequately led, I will be more than happy to follow. But when I think about it, what is it that leaders do? They care enough about the various situations they’re in to identify problems, then come up with solutions those problems and then execute them. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but they care enough to try to fix things when they see something’s not working.

It ties in with what Brutall was saying in his video: leaders are passionate people, who put in the time and effort to do what they really care about.

Anyone can be a good leader. It’s easier for the more extroverted and charismatic among us (cough, Brutall, cough, Majik), but by nature, I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t lead a raid. It just means it took practice. It took work. Like being a kick-ass raider, being a leader, of any kind, requires some effort. Those who want to lead their team (hockey team, raid team, it’s all team stuff!) to victory will give it their best shot, because they care.

My guides give you a lot of solid info, a lot of practical “do this if this happens” stuff, but one of the most important lessons to learn from me isn’t what to say or do in various situations. What I really want you to walk away with is the knowledge that you can absolutely be a great leader, that no tiny subsection of the population is BORN into leadership. It simply requires passion and it requires a lot of effort. But ultimately, if you care enough, if you are genuinely passionate about things, it hardly seems like work at all. :)

 

Being a Kick-Ass Raider

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that my newest project, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider, is now LIVE! You can go read Sneak Peeks or purchase it over at Kurn’s Guides.

It was an interesting guide to work on. I definitely wanted to share the lessons I’d learned while I was a raider, but how could I do that when I have no idea how to play various classes like a rogue, a death knight, a warlock or a monk?

I decided to take an approach that relies on teaching the fundamentals instead of the specifics. I mean, the game changes too much and too quickly as it is for any kind of detailed, mechanical guide like that to have a very long shelf-life. So I focused on the lessons I learned about being a raider instead of being a hunter or a paladin.

So what are some of the fundamentals of being a raider?

That took me a while to narrow down. I went through two major rewrites of the content, trying to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to talk about, plus there were certain announcements at BlizzCon that rendered some of what I’d already written completely useless, alas! But I got it down to four major sections where people could really improve on.

1) Knowledge. So many people are completely unaware about how to play their classes and this is the first step in determining what the problem is in terms of someone not playing well. Do they know HOW to play? I indicate a few places where people can check in on what specs they should be playing (in the case of pure DPS classes, for example) and basic priorities and rotations. This also includes a fair bit about understanding your abilities and how they work together, plus planning for encounters and practicing, since practice makes perfect, after all!

2) Avoiding Mistakes. This is where we get into the more detailed stuff about user interface, various types of AWARENESS (the best friend of the truly kick-ass raiders!), buff durations, cooldowns, keybinds and the like. I even dissect my hunter’s awful UI and point out all of the mistakes. Worth it just for this section, I think. ;)

3) Being a Team Player. Raiders don’t exist in a vacuum. They are individual parts of a larger team. Section 3 deals with how to be a kick-ass raider in the sense of being an awesome member of the team. I talk about reliability and what that means, helpfulness, critcism, whining/complaining and how to know when a guild is the right fit.

Those three sections, adding up to 69 pages or thereabouts, are included in all the versions of the guide, but the Epic version gives you a bonus section: Technical Difficulties. This is where I talk about other things you may have to overcome to improve yourself as a raider, including upgrading your computer, improving your framerate, how to reduce world latency, reducing input latency and such.

The Legendary version of the guide includes all four sections, plus a bonus guide on how to apply to guild or raid team. Because, sadly, people out there really need help with this. As a former GM who would occasionally receive applications that would render me close to tears, I felt this was needed. (Actually, I felt it was SO necessary that it’s available to buy separately from the rest of the guide, too! Just scroll down to the bottom of the Kick-Ass Raider page!)

My next project is going to be a guide on how to be a Kick-Ass Raid Leader… but I think I’m going to take a nap before I get started in on that one. ;)

Thanks to everyone for your support. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

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