Tonight we had a foursome for the Laid Back Dungeons. JD Kenada took a break from judging the Transmogolympics to join us, and Mrs. Amateur came along as well. Our fourth was Tyl, whose full name I would butcher if I tried. (Ok, I tried. Silly me, I got offline before I wrote it down.)
The plan was to start with Utgarde Keep and Pinnacle, which we did. Giving Gurdrid all the achievements, and also giving Tael Incredible Hulk. After that, we were planning to head to Dragonblight, but Tum talked us into going to Occulus instead. Everyone was game, since we all needed achievements there. On our way through, we stopped in at the Violet Hold, picking up two more of the required six bosses for Gurdrid’s Lockdown; but sadly not picking up Either A Void Dance or Dehydration since the bosses weren’t there to be fought.
We were unable to quickly dispatch the Ley Guardian for Make It Count but we did get both Ruby Void and Emerald Void by all riding Bronze drakes. Sadly, Tum and Gurdrid did not pick up the Bronze drake for Experienced Drake Rider because we’d taken too much damage during the fight and weren’t on our drakes when he died. So there will be trips back into the Occulus to finish that up.
Since we were there, we dropped down into the Nexus, Getting Split Personality in what may well have been the fastest time ever. I think I clicked 2 buttons, so less than 5 seconds from start to finish? We tried to get Intense Cold for Tum and Tael, but an inopportune freeze made another miss there.
Tum, Tael, and Tyl all picked up mog pieces, as well.
Mia mentioned another blog in one of her blog posts, and since Mia makes good use of her mention karma, I had to go take a peek at this blog I hadn’t heard of. Anexxia had a great little list of retrospective questions, so I thought I’d take my own stab at it.
In the spirit of making this more appropriate for a blog about tiny guilds in WoW, I’m going to don my Guild Leader hat, and answer (most of) the questions from that perspective.
What were you most excited about in the past year?
Guild Achievements. Watching only a handful of people get together and really pull through on achievements like Critter Kill Squad and That’s a Lot of Travel Time just really feels good, and it also gets to the heart of what makes us tick as a tiny guild. That’s a Lot of Travel Time especially shows off our guild culture, due to the sheer amount of questing we do. We are all altaholics, and that achievement, in particular, really shows it. The 14 level 85 toons are spread across 7 accounts. Three of those seven accounts only have one toon at level 85.
What was the best thing you bought?
They didn’t cost much, but I got several prairie dogs for the winners of a contest we had early on. Every single person who won one of the prairie dogs was thrilled, which made me feel very good about them. The best part was the people who hadn’t been paying attention, and therefore had no idea they’d even won something! (For you Hordeys out there, imagine being given a Snowshoe Rabbit for fishing. No, really. That’s why they got it.)
What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More people using the guild bank! I might joke, but it frequently feels like people put stuff in but never take anything out. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for taking things out of the guild bank to level my alts, but I figure if I can’t lead by example… and if you don’t believe me, I dedicated an entire post to it.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
That’s a Lot of Travel Time. That was accomplished by only a handful of toons in 10 months. That’s a lot of questing per capita. The lion’s share, I’m sure, going to our resident rogue who not only leveled three toons to max, but also got several toons to level 60 during that time.
What was your biggest failure?
One of the huge advantages of a tiny guild, particularly a casually oriented one, is that I don’t have to fess up to any failures unless I told the guild what I was up to. But to be completely and honestly retrospective, I think that my biggest failure was not being able to figure out a way to get some actual, honest recruitment out there. I’m an introvert, and I think most of my guild are also introverts – that doesn’t make recruiting particularly easy, even if we can blame some of it on the current recruitment climate.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about whether my guild mates enjoy being in my guild. I’m pretty sure that they’d leave if they weren’t happy; but I still worry.
What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2011 that you’d never done before?
This one is really tough to answer from a guild leader perspective. Since the guild is pretty settled in terms of what we do and how we do it, there’s not a lot of “new”. I guess, therefore, I’d have to say arrange a guild event around guild achievements. This is different than just arranging a guild event. For starters, with a multi-level guild, there is the challenge of finding something compelling for the max level toons but still viable for the low-level toons. Then, there’s finding a day when your players can actually choose to commit. Due to the nature of my guild, that meant guessing, and then hoping (and using as many different methods of getting the word out as possible!)
What was your favorite new place that you visited?
Again, there weren’t very many of those, particularly from a guild perspective. I think I’d have to say Serpentshrine Cavern. it’s prettier than Black Temple (the other place we went that was completely new for me) and we were much more successful completing the instance.
What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?
That’s a really tough one. The one I visit the most is WoW Insider, but I don’t read it as much as I used to. I go there mostly for news and tin-foil hat goodness.
Cymre’s blog Bubbles of Mischief is very inspiring for me to pursue things in game outside the level > gear up > run dungeons PvE mentality. She also takes gorgeous screenshots of all kinds of things, and inspires me to take more.
Chronicles of Mia seems to be inspirational to me as a blogger. She either picks up great ideas from other people (like this one, or comes up with great ones of her own.) Either way, she has inspired more than one post.
Alto, on the purported Worst WoW Blog Ever, inspires me to dabble in the AH, giving sound advice on auction PvP, or even just making some gold (if only I would take it for more than a week at a time).
Ratters at Need More Rage cracks me up immensely with his wonderful butchering of the English language. And he has some good things to say and fun topics.
Picking a favorite out of those? I just can’t. Each one fits a different niche in my reading needs. Consider them categories: Newsworthy, Gaming Inspiration, Blogging Inspiration, Advice, and the all important Humor.
Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2011.
This one was definitely hard-won, and I still sometimes struggle with it. But, here it is: Even if you are close friends (or even family) and even if you have the same general ideas for how you want a guild to run; it does not mean that they want to be in a guild run by you. And that doesn’t mean that they like you any less.
I have several in-game friends who have created toons in the guild, but primarily play on other servers. Most of those toons are rather disused. I suspect because, like me, they tend to play on their main server most of the time, and don’t switch servers very often. They still chat with me via RealID, so I know they still care about me, but that doesn’t mean they want to play on my server, or possibly in my guild; and that’s really ok.
Also, when our former guild leader (and an extended member of my family) came back to WoW, he opted to create a new character, which is not in our guild, rather than come back to his old, max-level character in the guild. Again – it’s not a reflection on me (or more importantly his daughter) as a person, but probably a reflection on play differences.
I’ve talked a little bit about this here and there, but realized I’ve never talked about it in the context of what it really means to get a guild achievement to a tiny guild.
We’ve completed several achievements. The easy ones, like the dungeon achievements (complete x dungeon in a guild group) aren’t so hard. It’s not all that difficult to get 3 people together to run through an instance. Heck, we’ve got two standing guild 5-man nights to take care of those.
But then, there’s the ones that can take a while for even the biggest guilds. The ones where the guild needs to craft a whole lot of things, or kill a whole lot of things, or complete a really large number of quests. We’ve completed a half dozen of these, and the two I’m most proud of: Critter Kill Squad and That’s a Lot of Travel Time.
Back in July, I realized we were getting close to having killed 50,000 critters. I think we were probably around 47,000. Our regular Sunday group for 5-mans got done early, and so the 5 of us decided to go and kill some critters for a while. We had found a spot off the coast of Borean Tundra where we could get instant respawns on penguins… meaning the faster we killed them the faster they would respawn and we could kill them again. Three paladins, a rogue and a hunter on three small islands spamming their AoE abilities can kill a lot of penguins. We were amassing around 50 a minute.
Then one of our less frequent players came online. We asked if she wanted to join us. We had about 1500 to go at that point. By the time we got her there, we were down under 1000. A sixth member of the group shot our numbers up to nearly 100 penguins a minute. Those last few minutes were, bar none, some of the best guild camaraderie I’d yet seen. Getting that achievement was almost as exciting to us as a first kill on a raid boss.
Let’s fast-forward a bit, to the beginning of October. I made a post on the guild boards saying that we’d been moving right along with That’s a Lot of Travel Time, and that if the Hallow’s End candy bucket quests counted towards the regular quest count, we’d likely finish during the month of October. Well, those quests did count, and I think a few people did a few more candy buckets than they might have otherwise – because we got the achievement on October 27th.
Now, I want you to think about this. 15 people, only 4 of whom are very active at all, got 25,000 quests (not including daily quests) completed in less than one year. Luckily, we all have altitis, so we all almost always have a toon that’s not at max level to play. But it still remains that that’s a lot of quests for only a few people to complete.
But there’s another interesting thing about my guild, and these achievements. One of two things consistently happens when we’re working seriously towards an achievement. Either it gets completed while I’m not online, or everyone will get it to within one of completion and stop, giving me the honor of finishing it. I think the only reason it didn’t specifically happen with Critter Kill Squad is because we were killing them so fast it was impossible to simply stop at the right time.
The thing about these kinds of Achievements in a tiny guild, though, is that someone has to want to get them done. They don’t get touched otherwise. We have 107 PvP kills. I suspect the majority of them are from people working towards completing the various holiday achievements.
I make a post every week on our guild boards about our progress towards completing the guild achievements. That post helps to drive what I put into the guild message. I’m an accountant in real life, and it translates into those posts. I not only provide a list and progress, I also keep track of our completion percentages, which achievements we made the most progress on, and even the “total completion” percentage. When something gets to within 10% of the goal, I start hawking it in the guild message of the day. I’m even thinking about holding events when some of the achievements get closer, so that we can have a large group effort again.
These things are fun for our guild, and sometimes we work hard on our achievements. Other times, we just let them tick along in the natural progression of our daily activities.
Last week, I finished the Loremaster achievement on Kerridwen. I originally created this toon to see the new 1-60 content for Cataclysm, and leveled her from 1-61 on Kalimdor, completing the Loremaster of Kalimdor achievement in the process. Then I went to the Eastern Kingdoms, and did the same. After that, I got all 6 of her professions up to 300 before heading out to Outland. Thanks to herbalism and archaeology, she was level 67 when she arrived in Hellfire Peninsula. I used the same methodology for tackling Outland (leaving at level 79), before moving to Northrend, and did the same there, though I exited Northrend at a mere level of 83.
Since I just finished Loremaster of Cataclysm, and with it Loremaster, my plan of attack ought to be to get her professions up, right? Well, her herbalism has been at 525 since before she even left Northrend, and I decided to switch from skinning to alchemy (since I don’t have an alchemist in my Alliance stable) which means a do-over of the whole thing. But I’m psychologically done with that model. I want my professions to be done, so I can go work on shiny achievements.
Is it because I didn’t really have a plan for when I finished Loremaster? Or maybe the fact that I finished the last three Cata zones in less than a week? It might be those things, or it might be that I just want something that feels like it’s moving along. Working on professions is kinda slow, more so if you don’t want to spend money on the materials to complete them more quickly. And archaeology, while fun in the moments that you get to create an artifact, is bloody boring in between times.
Today is Tuesday, and today we’re getting the 4.2 patch. There’s a lot of mixed emotions about this patch. Some say it didn’t come fast enough; others complain that it doesn’t have this, that, or the other thing they wanted. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with patch days, sadly, more on the grumpy side.
Patches generally mean new endgame content, which is great and all, but the last two patches have also been dropped in the middle of an in-game holiday. For a lot of people, that doesn’t really matter, but for me, Shoryl is a newish 85, and that means she hasn’t gotten many of the holiday meta achievements. Luckily, though, I finished Midsummer up yesterday.
What I am excited about this patch is the new daily hub, complete with my own personal phased world tree. But, because I hate the crowds with the new content, it’ll still be a couple of weeks before I get out there. In the meantime, Shoryl is plugging away at Loremaster of Northrend along with Sonaira… unless we’re letting the outland daily heroic/dungeon quests determine our course of action towards rep gains there.
See, I have plenty to do, even without the patch. I don’t get the people who gobble up the new content so fast that they get bored before the next thing comes out, but then, I have 10 characters, and only two of them are level 85. You’d think that I’d have gotten more of them up there in all this time, but I keep changing my mind and starting them over here and there, not to mention the server change about a year and a half ago or so.
But today is a patch day, which means I probably don’t get to play WoW at all tonight – my most hate part of the love-hate relationship.
I’ve touched on this topic before. My most active guild members are achievement junkies in one form or another. Some end up getting achievements because they’re completionists, others because they collect things that can be acquired through achievements, or by acquiring them you get an achievement. I suspect I’m not the only member of my guild with a mild case of OCD.
Guild achievements are an interesting case. There are many that can be worked on by toons of any level, like Critter Kill Squad or the various gathering profession achievements. Others require toons to be level 85, and some of those require some pretty dedicated resources.
Some of the guild achievements seem impossible when you look at them from the standpoint of a tiny guild. Let’s look at Stay Classy. To achieve this, you have to complete the six Classy race achievements for your faction. Since we’re an Alliance guild, those are Dwarves, Gnomes, Humans, Night Elves, Draenei and Worgen. Luckily, the only requirement for each toon is for them to reach level 85. That requires 45 level 85 toons. 6 of whom must be Death Knights. For a tiny guild with only four truly active members, that’s… impossible. For starters, we can only have 10 toons each. Even if each of us were to get 10 toons to level 85 (not necessarily a hard stretch,really), We’d have to carefully make sure we didn’t ever overlap any race/class combinations. Which is a problem since we all have pallies. Yes, all four of us have an alliance paladin. Wait, remember that 6 Death Knights comment? Four players can’t have six DKs because we’re each only allowed one per server. So Stay Classy is currently impossible for our guild.
But. How many guildies does it take to kill 6000+ critters in something around an hour? Well, that depends on where you go. Sonaira and Shoryl located a spot just south of Coldarra (in Borean Tundra) where there are penguins on two ice ‘islands’. These two islands have what we refer to as an “always up” condition, which means that no matter what the normal spawn timer is between these islands, there must always be at least one living penguin on them.
Armed with this information, Sonaira and Shoryl each took an island and started killing. Two paladins could kill about 500 penguins an hour. When a 5-man run fell through Memorial Day weekend, the three of us who were available went and worked on it some more. We got up over 3k in an hour with three of us. Based on this information, we took our guild group of 5 this past Sunday to see what we could get done. About an hour later, we had amassed the best individual session of kills since Blizzard nerfed the “group count” bug. Had we only known about this spot when you still got a count for every member of your party in the guild, we’d have been done in a couple of hours!
The moral: Sure, some guild achievements are actually impossible for a tiny guild to accomplish. Others seem insanely daunting, but if you take some time, and some information, you can get the daunting ones accomplished and have fun doing it. After all, who’s ever going to steal the penguin kills of their guild leader? (The rogue, of course!)
In any other gaming environment, changing characters means starting the game over. In MMOs, you get lots of opportunities to assist your new characters: BoA gear to level faster, the ability to provide your other characters with money, items, or raw materials.
Lots of people complain about “having to” do this or that thing on their alts. I think that’s a whole lot of hooey. You don’t have to do anything on your alts. If you want to do something on your alt, like, say, raid, then certain things are expected of you, yes. But one presumes that very few people have the time in a week to devote to raiding with more than one toon at a time. And those few people choose to raid on more than one toon. I don’t have sympathy for people who say you have to do anything on your alt.
Having alts does not have to mean that you pursue the same content on all of your alts. Let’s take a look at all of my toons.
There’s Shoryl. I’ll call her my main for this exercise, because she sees a significant portion of my dedicated play time. I make decisions about what I’m going to do with her for long-term goals, and I pursue those goals. She has some milestone achievements, like Loremaster of Kalimdor, Easter Kingdoms, Outland and Cataclysm. I’m still pursuing Northrend, but I also have other goals for her. I’m spending a lot of time on Outland reputation achievements right now, and just recently got Leading the Cavalry.
There’s Breige. She’s an 85 hunter, and I enjoyed solo leveling her, but I’m not a very good hunter player – I don’t understand half of what she can do, I don’t understand 2/3 of what her pets ought to be able to do either. She’s got maxed skinning and leatherworking, and is honored with the guild, to provide my little tiny guild with those two professions for Working as a Team. Right now, she’s my auction house toon because I don’t have any particular goals for her.
There’s Taoiseach. You’ve heard the stories about Taoi and Shoryl. Taoiseach has a few achievements under her belt that Shoryl may never attain. I play her when Sonaira isn’t available, as Sona and Shoryl are a pair and only occasionally pursue separate activities (usually revolving around profession dailies). Taoiseach doesn’t see much play time, but she’s an alchemist and is currently my cash cow with her truegold transmute.
There’s Kerridwen. Kerridwen is level 67. She already has Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. I rolled her to run through the brand new 1-60 stuff. She’s also got skinning and herbalism over 300, has just reached 300 with cooking skill, and is working on 300 skill in fishing. Next up? 300 skill with archaeology. I’m guessing she’ll be near 70 before setting foot in Outlands, but that is where she will go next. She’s not about playing hard content. She’s about seeing the game. Maybe not “as it was designed to be played” but seeing it, and taking the time to savor it. She’s also a solo toon.
There’s Sveala. Sveala is my third attempt at a shaman, and she’s leveling primarily using the dungeon finder. She’s a healer, which is helping her queue times. I’m working on her to eventually give our guild’s only other healer a chance to bring his warrior out to play once in a while.
No, I realize none of my toons are particularly uber. Back in the day Taoiseach (then Shoryl) was somewhere in the middle of the pack of raiders, which was a smaller group of people than it is today. I got burned out. I would be 100 times more burned out if I had to spend all of my time getting all of those toons up to level 85 post-haste, then get them geared in the current gearing system and then also try to find time to raid with them.
Yes, I get why people don’t want to do that with all of their toons. But they don’t have to. Because it’s a game. Not a job.
Every once in a while, I have to remind myself of this. And then I read about other guild leaders and the problems they have with drama. And I think “Yay! I have no drama in my guild.”
Okay, so sometimes I want to have more than four active players in my guild. Or even more than a half dozen players with level 85 toons in my guild. But, I can count on my players to not cause stress in my game-play. We plan to run 5-man guild achievements like a lot of guilds plan to run their raids. And some nights we have to PuG someone in or go do something else.
And we’re only a level 5 guild. But I know that I earned a part of each and every one of those levels. And I know it when one of my players goes on a tear to finish one of the guild achievements.
A couple of weeks ago, we had nearly completed Making History. I’d been plugging it on the guild boards and in the message of the day for a couple of weeks, and I’d steadily watched the numbers go down. Then one night, I got on, and we had 22 to go. I headed out to do some archaeology in Outland, where I hadn’t done much. As I completed each of my finds, I watch the guild count tick up. And it made me smile. We got to 480, and I changed the guild message of the day to indicate that we needed 20. Another guildie got on. A little while later, when I completed another project, I noticed that it had incremented while I was busy chasing down my next find. He was also doing archaeology. A bit later, there were four of us on, and we got to 10. And I started counting them down in the guild message of the day as I watched them tick off.
We got to 5, and I changed the message. And the count rolled over to 4. So I changed the message again. And it rolled over to 3, then 2, then 1. And each time I changed the message. Then we had the achievement. One of the guys had been saving his completions for when we got close enough that he could complete them as I changed the message. And, apparently, two of them were hoping to be the one to complete the last one.
Stuff like that might happen in big guilds, but it happens so fast that there’s no sense of wonder as it occurs. At one point, earlier in that very evening, the guy who chose to do the count down for me had suggested we all stop. My partner and co-guild leader pointed out that we were close enough that I would probably stay up all night by myself and finish it so I could see it happen if they did.
My level 5 guild, BTW, has always rolled over the level when I’m offline. I get on one day to discover that we’ve gotten our level, frequently when I was hoping to see it the next day. Once, one of my guildies saw we were so close that he stayed up until 2am to finish it off all by himself. He normally gets offline around 8pm.
And that’s why it’s okay to have a Tiny Guild. Tiny Guilds might take longer to do some of the things that bigger guilds get done, but when you’re in a tiny guild, you know your contribution counts.