The Overwatch Support Life

The Overwatch Support Life

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and readers!

It’s been a running joke for a while now. In WoW, I played a healing Priest (and the spec didn’t matter) for raids. In Heroes of the Storm, I mainly stick to heroes like Rehgar, Kharazim, or Uther if I’m playing with others. With Overwatch, I’m used to maining Symmetra, Lucio, or Mercy. All of them are support or healing roles.

During the beta weekend, I thought there’d be more players trying out a wider variety of heroes.

I thought wrong. Most teams I solo queued into had compositions like 3 Widowmakers, a 76, and 2 McCrees. These are glass cannon compositions which have loaded fire power but didn’t have a lick of staying power whatsoever. Even in games where I dominated as the 76 with 20+ eliminations or 10+ final blows, it led me to a sinking conclusion I realized right from the beginning:

Someone’s got to play support or a tank in order to secure objectives.

It’s nigh-impossible to carry your team to victory on the scoreboard alone without some sustainability from other heroes.

In that particular matchup, I activated 76’s Visor ultimate and just blew it to get as many quick kills as I could before switching to Lucio. He’s one of my more favourite support heroes to use on close encounters maps since your team will be near you to benefit from buffs. After that, the key to playing support is keeping yourself alive first and then healing the rest of your team. Lucio’s speed boost does not build up towards his ultimate, however. Make sure the healing aura is active if you’re not in the middle of setting something up.

If you’ve PvP’d in WoW or other games as a healer, you’re going to have a headstart here. Many newer support heroes tend to heal from the center of the action — which is absolutely stupid! Do not make yourself vulnerable and give the opposition free shots at you. If there’s a lull in action at any moment, look for places to hide or find cover. Behind cars or in side rooms or other objects are always a good start. Don’t give the defending Widowmaker a free shot at you.

Positioning is important. Lucio makes it a little easier because your team just has to be near you. Mercy emits an obvious beam as to where her location is. By putting yourself off to the side as you’re healing your team, now you’ve split the enemy’s focus. If they attempt to pursue you, they leave themselves open to suppression from your team. If they decide to go after your team, you’re busy healing them at the same time thereby giving them extra staying power.

Nothing says your team is limited to just one or two supports, either. Last night I was playing offense on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and defense fielded a lineup of Reinhardt, Pharah, Bastion, two Lucios, and a Mercy. After captured the first check point we simply could not push back that line at all. Some of that was due to our team composition since I think we lacked a tank.

I’ll be streaming more often during weekday evenings so keep an eye on!

More Overwatch thoughts to come later!


BlizzCon 2015

Let’s talk about BlizzCon. We knew we would be receiving the Warcraft movie trailer finally. I don’t believe anyone expected there to be a Legion cinematic at the same time though. I love watching the fleet of airships as they make their assault against the Burning Legion’s foothold.

Sadly, this BlizzCon didn’t come without a personal cost. A few players from my guild decided to part ways while I was at the convention. Consequently, I’ve suspended all future raids for the time being and players have the choice to explore free agency if they wish. This was a horrible expansion for me when it comes to raids. Couldn’t get much mythic headway in at all. After 8 years at the helm, we’re finished. It hasn’t quite hit me yet since I have the emotional range of a Dwayne Johnson (a Rock). My time’s being kept busy with Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Starcraft 2. I’m more disappointed with my inability to get the job done. It’s a little crushing to watch your own guild dismantle piece by piece like that. No one’s fault but my own. I haven’t decided on my future yet but my plan is to continue being the Jagr of Warcraft.

Without the mullet, that is.

World of Warcraft

  • Transmog system looks amazing, moreso of the fact that I free up a boatload of inventory space
  • Challenge modes, we were expecting a D3 announcement of sorts, but the fact that WoW is taking a page from the Greater Rift system is neat
  • Non-linear leveling! Zones scale up! This is going to put a damper in my plans to shoot for server first again since I have to figure out optimal routes and stuff now
  • Priest changes look ground-shattering. More on that to come later
  • Mythic and 20 player raids are here to stay, it looks like

Starcraft 2

  • Managed to beat the campaign on hard, working on the epilogue now
  • Coop mode is enjoyable but the difficulty is lacking especially as you progress through the individual character levels. Even brutal becomes easier to stomach
  • Delighted to hear about the first set of mission packs that will come later in the year


  • League of Explorers is fun! Managed to defeat the first wing on both normal and heroic. Temple Escape is one of the more enjoyable encounters. My video guides will be up on Blizzard Watch on Sunday shortly.


  • Yes, I’m in the beta. Game is infinitely more fun when playing with friends than playing solo
  • Problem with shooters is that I get frustrated at myself 🙁
  • Like Warcraft and Heroes, I’m usually playing a support
  • Anyone else manage to get in? Looking for more people to play with

Heroes of the Storm

  • What? Cho’gall? Really?
  • Tracer is in the first wave of Overwatch heroes. Iconic and an excellent choice
  • Can’t wait to give the arena mode a spin

All in all, it felt like a more muted BlizzCon but then again, BlizzCon 2014 brought us a completely new game and franchise and it’s tough act to follow.

6 Game-Changing Battlecry Cards that Pair with Brann Bronzebeard

6 Game-Changing Battlecry Cards that Pair with Brann Bronzebeard

My annual post-BlizzCon thoughts will come a little later this week.

For now, Brann Bronzebeard joins the latest set of legendaries that come with Hearthstone’s League of Explorers adventure. While I have high hopes for the card, I’m not sure if he slots into any pre-existing deck types.

But who cares? He’s a fun card that can amplify existing cards with Battlecry! Which ones? Here’s my personal list:

Dr. Boom

Huge no brainer. What’s better than two Bomb Bots? Four Bomb Bots! You’re guaranteed a minimum of four damage that could explode on different targets. More bombs leads to more damage. I can hear that resigned sigh from my opponent now…

Iron Juggernaut

All of a sudden, Iron Juggernaut turns from a giant recyclable heap of scrap into a curiously playable card. Originally adding a 10 damage bomb, now it places your opponent on the clock with a potential 20 damage just ticking away within their deck. Those bombs are one way to get around Ice Blocks!


Initially, your Silver Hand Recruits would simply get +2/+2 and turn from Silver Hand Recruits into Gold Hand Recruits. But now they’re getting an additional +2/+2 on top of that. Does that mean they become Platinum Hand Recruits? Nothing like a board full of 5/5s that give your opponent pause and just out of Flamestrike reach.

Dragon Consort

If I’m reading it right, your next dragon becomes much more affordable. In fact, cards like Nefarian or Alexstrasza cost 5 mana instead of 9 giving you more card playing options to go with it. Protect a dragon with a Sludge Belcher on turn 10. Or, turn one of those beasts into a formidable minion that your opponent needs to deal with by playing a Defender of Argus.


If you really want insurance, Loatheb’s a great follow up since your opponent’s spells should now cost 10 mana more. It locks them out of every spell. Free turn where they can’t respond or affect your board with spells? Yeah, I’ll take that!

Goblin Blastmage

This is one of my favourite pairings. It turns into Avenging Wrath on a stick. Instead of 4 damage, 8 damage goes flying out in any direction towards your opponent or their board.

There’s a few more excellent combinations (like Shieldmaiden and Antique Healbot), but the ones above are my personal picks. It does have a downside though. Make sure you don’t place Brann with cards like Flame Imp (ouch!), Injured Blademaster (oof!), or Doomguard (yikes!)

Will You be Capping Valor Again?

We all saw the news bombshell yesterday.

Valor is back with a vengeance. Points are only obtainable in Mythic dungeons or in the raid finder difficulty. We can’t double dip and snag them from normal mode bosses are higher. I’m waiting for reforging to come back in a future patch.

Couldn’t believe the announcement.

On this week’s episode of The Edge, the crew and I discussed merits of nerfs to Hellfire and when they’d be needed. I made an off-hand remark that item upgrades should be brought back because it was a much better way of nerfing content compared to flat percentage nerfs to abilities, attacks, or health. It gave players a sense of progression even though they weren’t visibly progressing. You might’ve gotten stonewalled on Gorefiend on week 1, but the raid collectively received a 5% buff due to item upgrades heading into week 2, for example.

So what’s the difference between valor points in Warlords and valor points in Mists?

In Mists, they compensated for “bad luck” whereby you could purchase items in case you weren’t getting drops from raids. With Warlords, you have Apexis crystals that already fulfill role. Furthermore, the bonus roll system and the personal loot system help tip and equalize the “bad luck” factor in your favor (At least, in theory, because I’m still missing that Intuition’s Gift trinket from Kilrogg).

I don’t know if these changes are going to be enough of a subscription reactivator on their own.

Between this and the enabling of mythic cross-realm raiding, the pool of available raiders for mythic should go up due to the reduced restrictions and to players who might now be equipped for it.

And mythic dungeons? If you weren’t running these before, are you going to run them now? The shortest path to valor points for a solo player without the backing of a reliable group is going to be in the raid finder. You can try to get lucky with a mythic dungeon group but you can work your way through the forgiving trials of raid finder to cap out. We don’t know what the valor cap is or how many points each of the activities offer.

Not expecting to see Valor stick around with Legion, though.

I’m beginning to wonder if the perceived boredom in Warlords about the lack of activities to partake in is actually a lack of meaningful (or forced) activities. Players were running ragged throughout Siege because every week was a constant re-clear of the same content just to upgrade one or two items every week. We were sick of it then but we had to do it in order to buff our characters in order to reach and defeat a boss that actually mattered.


A typical raid week was 3 hours of farming for valor on bosses, 4 hours to clear the 11 mythic bosses to get to Blackfuse, and then 2 hours of meaningful progression on Blackfuse which involved learning how to run away from fire beams and avoiding saw blades.

We have optional content in the game at our disposal but we think there’s nothing to do because we don’t want to do it.

I suppose the argument could be made where one could say “Players don’t have to run mythic dungeons or raid finder for valor”. That argument holds true for players largely well within entrenched in mythic raids though. For them, the barrier isn’t going to be the gear. It’s going to be the skill cap of their fellow players in the group. To the rest of the mortal heroic raiders though, the gear upgrades will lead to confirmed kills versus near-death wipes and is going to be sorely needed to give players a foot in the fabled mythic doorway.

I’m getting too old for this.

Gorefiend: Warlords’ Guild Killer?

I first caught wind of this when I was scrolling through the recruiting forums. With around 20 players, we’re finally poised to enter mythic Hellfire. Hellfire Assault was infinitely more engaging and dynamic compared to the normal and heroic counterparts. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put that notch up there yet. We’re getting past the intermission phase but end up getting overrun. Our margin of error is razor thin. A little more DPS, and it’ll help us secure that kill.

Anyway, let’s get back to my original observation about Gorefiend. That dude is tough. On the forums, I’m seeing guilds that are 5/13 recruiting or players who are 5/13 looking for new guilds because their raid group folded. The game is no stranger to guild killers. Some of my personal favourites included Kael’thas, Mu’ru, and ol’ Yogg (0 light). To be fair, I don’t think for a second that Gorefiend even comes close to any of those bosses up there.

I’m not sure what it is. There’s something about this current generation of raiders that seem to want more instant gratification. The mere instant that a difficult problem shows itself, many are quick to abandon ship and look for a new guild instead of working through it. Compare that to players in classic Warcraft, Burning Crusade, or even Wrath though where players frequently stuck it out and when they did get those kills, it felt extremely gratifying. For me, no encounter post-Cataclysm has captured the same satisfying feeling of a boss kill akin to Kil’Jaeden, Archimonde (from Hyjal), or even Illidan. But maybe that’s because it often took weeks or months just to get there, learn it, and beat it.

With the availability of group finder, raid finder, and the other convenience tools, it’s simply too easy to look around for options. You don’t see those kinds of “grinders” anymore among the player population. Could be a by product of the player base getting older and not having the time to invest anymore, I’m not sure.

With the start of the new school year, I’ve had to re-think our schedule. Demographically speaking, it seems many players are concentrated on the east coast. I can’t ask people to stay up until 1 AM anymore. I made a snap call to restore our original raid times.

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 6 – 9 PM Pacific

I’m keeping the days though. I do like the idea of getting all raids done in a quick burst through the middle of the week. With the Warcraft population down to 5.5 million, I have to appeal to as many players as possible (at least, from a scheduling perspective).

Right now, we’re looking for more ranged DPS and healers. Interested? Check us out!

Recruiting Tiers

Not to be confused with recruiting tears (which sounds common for many guilds out there right now).

At present, we’re 11/13 normal and 5/13 heroic. I did manage to find a skilled pug on the weekend to get the normal Manneroth kill and the heroic Gorefiend kill just to get my quest going. Difficult getting consistent progression with three healers and a rotating fourth every raid night.

The creation of multiple tiers of raiding is great for the game, no doubt. Players and guilds can pick and choose the difficulty they want to progress and see the rest of the game at. This has a natural side effect of trickling down to the recruiting side of things.

During Burning Crusade, guilds could be bracketed and organized into completed content. If you were attuned to Serpentshrine Cavern or Black Temple, you were highly sought after largely because guilds didn’t have to go through that effort of going through that process for you.

In Wrath, the raiding scene split to those who wanted the tighter knit feel of a 10 player group or those who craved the 25 player scene (and it was divided further more into those who were okay with just doing normal and those who wanted heroic content).

Fast forward to present day, the selections have opened up to mythic raiders, heroic players, and normal players. In Burning Crusade, there were no raiding filters in place since you either wanted to raid or you didn’t. There’s so much choice that exists now.

Even as I’m cruising through the recruiting forums, I’ve started automatically sorting through players in my head. That 705 Mistweaver shaman that’s cleared 10/10 Mythic Blackrock during the first two months? Probably going to want something more than I can offer. I won’t waste their time or my time so I’d pass on making a pitch. What about that 660 Holy paladin? Sounds like they finished Heroic Highmaul but their guild wasn’t able to get down Heroic Blackhand in time. Sounds like an investment project since they’d need additional gear to get up to where we are (and survive the unavoidables). Is it worth making the pitch? Can they help us now?

Objectively speaking, it’s best to just cast a wide open net or take the shotgun approach. If I keep throwing crap against the wall, something will stick, right? Or at least, that’s what my University TA told me during exam prep. Even so, I can’t help but mentally filter and sort out players between those who are the right fit and those I’d pass on because I have a good idea my guild would get passed over.

Things were so much easier back then.


The Magic of Server Transferring Guilds

In the last story, you listened as the budding guild leader had finished a guild merger. Things were looking good for a while. Bosses were going down cleanly. But it wasn’t going to last because the attrition boss reared it’s head again. Something is up with this expansion causing guilds to collapse. My suspicion is that guilds that used to cut it during heroic came to the start conclusion that Mythic just wasn’t in the cards. Players that excelled in heroic suddenly couldn’t execute at the level demanded in Mythic and lacked either the perseverance or general skills to proceed. In any case, my players were beginning to show signs of fatigue and disinterest.

Coasting: To move easily without exerting power or force. In Warcraft, doing the minimum required to defeat a boss simply because you can overpower it easily.

With raiders, it’s apparent that once you reach a point in the tier where enough players are equipped and the content doesn’t pose a suitable challenge anymore, many mechanics can simply be brute forced. Like it or not, players will naturally take the path of least resistance. Why bother structuring all these intricate defensive cooldown rotations when player health has reached the point where it can withstand a major boss attack without casualties? Reluctantly, I began putting those away and giving free reign to the team to revert back to the tried and true strategy: Kill it first before it kills you.

Okay, back to the story of the server transfer. At the rate we were losing players and recruiting them, I did the math in my head. We weren’t going to make it to Hellfire Citadel in patch 6.2. No way in hell. I explained this to a few of my officers and they all agreed that something had to be done because recruiting wasn’t getting us anywhere. A few of my raiders proposed tabling the idea of transferring servers again.

This is a massive decision which can overwhelm even the most seasoned of leaders and cause them to freeze up or stick to the status quo. We’re going to put a pin on this because I want to share a story that helped with the decision process.

Saving Intel

Did you know that Intel used to be both in the memory and microprocessor industry? It was many years ago but it’s true. Except their memory business was absolutely haemorrhaging money.

Former Intel president Andy Grove faced the toughest decision of his career: Whether or not to kill the company’s memory business. Intel originally had been founded on memories. In fact, it used to be the only company that manufactured memory. However, whole companies had started manufacturing and competing in the memory business just before the 1980s. The microprocessor came along later after a small R&D team developed and presented it. They caught a huge break when IBM selected Intel’s processor chip to power their personal computers.

Now you have a company with two major products: Memory and processors. At that time, memory continued to be the primary source of revenue for Intel but they were starting to have problems competing due to the threat of Japanese companies.

“The quality levels attributed to Japanese memories were beyond what we thought possible,” said Grove. “Our first reaction was denial. We vigorously attacked the data.” But they eventually confirmed the claims, said Grove, “We were clearly behind.”

In the ten years between 1978 and 1988, the Japanese companies doubled their market share from 30% to 60%. There were leaders within Intel who wanted to buff their manufacturing. Another group wanted to hedge bets on some new tech that they felt the Japanese wouldn’t be able to compete with. A last group wanted to stick with the strategy of serving these speciality markets.

The debate continued to rage while Intel kept losing more money on the memory business. Grove continued discussing the memory dilemna with Intel’s CEO, Gordon Moore. Then Grove had an epiphany:

I looked out the window at the Ferris Wheel of the Great America amusement park revolving in the distance, then I turned back to Gordon and I asked, “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?” Gordon answered without hesitation, “He would get us out of memories.” I stared at him, numb, then said, “Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?”

This “revolving door test” provided a moment of clarity. From the perspective of an outsider, shutting down the memory business was the obvious thing to do. The switch in perspectives—“What would our successors do?”— helped Moore and Grove see the big picture clearly.

It’s called the “revolving door test”. To an outside person looking in with an objective mindset and no ties, killing off the memory business was the correct course of action. Asking — “What would our successors do?” helped the two men see the big picture.

Naturally, many of their colleagues within the company opposed it. But they held firm and the sales team was forced to explain to their customers and clients that Intel would not carry memory anymore.

Of course, one customer said, “It sure took you a long time.”

I’d say Intel has done well since then with a good share of the microprocessor market.

When you’re shopping for a car, you have to consider a number of important factors. You tend to think about the initial cost, the mileage, maintenance, safety, and other features (Bluetooth is a must, in my book). Not only that, each factor might be weighted differently. Safety over maintenance or fuel economy is an example.

But in major decisions, there tends to be the emotional element that’s missing. With the Intel story, Grove’s decision had plenty of information going around and alternative options. It was agonizing because he felt emotionally conflicted. He was torn about the future of the company and the loss that comes with dropping a historical product.

Short-term emotion can seriously affect decision making. Going back to server transferring, there are multiple factors when it comes to choosing servers. The question the GM needs to ask themselves first is, “Is it time to transfer off?”. It’s an agonizing question. Maybe you have history on the server. Perhaps you or your guild are well known to the server or you’ve developed a bit of a reputation. If you’re still conflicted, then the next question to ask yourself is this:

“If it were my best friend’s guild, what would I tell them to do?”

You can actually use that “What would I tell my best friend to do?” question for a personal dilemma. 

A little perspective might be just what you need. Just being detached will help conquer that emotional component.

Once the decision to move has been green lit, now you’re faced with additional factors with server selection.

  • Realm size
  • Faction population and ratio
  • Realm progression
  • Realm type
  • Realm latency
  • Economy

WoW Progress provides a nifty snapshot of realm information. You can glance at the information and use it to figure out what your next move should be. In my case, I wanted a server with a really high and healthy population. On the other hand, I didn’t want it too high either to the point that it affected our capability to login and play. In addition, the server either had to be completely Alliance dominated or PvE. I was sick of potential recruits turning us down because they weren’t down for playing on a PvP server and I wasn’t prepared to go Horde. A server with strong raid progression is a plus because it tells you that there’s enough players on there who take it seriously.

In the end, Kel’thuzad looked like the winner. After our last raid, I started making all the preparations for the transfer. Players were informed of where we were going and what we were doing. I knew that not everyone was going to come with us. Anywhere between 25% to 40% would either not transfer over or quit the game.

All in all, we had about 15 raiders ready to go. But our work still isn’t done. Mythic raiding starts at 20 and we had many slots to fill up. Attrition problems didn’t go away though. We continued to recruit and even though there was a high population of raiders, we had to continue filling in players for group finder and the like. I guess we weren’t the only guild that had the same idea of moving to a more populated realm.

And then the bot banwave hit and our prayers were answered.


Case Study: Guild Mergers

Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. There’s no real science behind it. It takes hard work and the desire from everyone to keep things going. If there’s players not interested or coasting along, then it’s highly unlikely that merges will work. Our new core of players has managed to continue raiding and stave off server transferring, for now. The updated roster managed to defeat Blackhand and put us within 5% of defeating Mythic Beastlord.

He’s so close to dropping.

Or rather, he was. Fast forward to present day and we now have half the original roster that defeated Blackhand and that worked on Beastlord. In addition, we’re also on a new server. Just how on earth did we get to that point? I’ll get there in a moment. Let’s talk guild mergers first.

I was approached a few weeks ago by another guild on server with a similar progression to ours. We were working on Blast Furnace and so were they. They opened talks with us first floating the idea of a guild merge because their guild was having difficulty attracting and retaining players (as were we all). I was certainly receptive to the idea and I hopped on to their Mumble channel to just open talks with both their guild leader and raid leader (with one of my officers also in attendance).

In discussions like this, it helps to have at least one other officer around to help cover your bases and remind you on things you might have forgotten. When it comes to merges, you’re looking at combining rosters, philosophies, personalities, and so forth. It’s going to be messy but you have to break it down point by point. This wasn’t my first guild merge and I doubt it’s going to be my last. Here’s a list of important factors to consider:

  • Guild name
  • Guild resources
  • Roster personnel
  • Roster roles
  • Officer positions
  • Loot systems
  • Policy
  • Event scheduling

Our opening discussions were fruitful and we shared the same goals. Their GM suggested we take the weekend to think it through and then meet again the following week for a more in-depth discussion.

Guild Name

With guild names, there are three options: Your name, their name, or an entirely new name. On this, I could not compromise at all. Conquest had been around for nearly 8 years. We had the branding in place with the site and customized apparel. Plus not to mention the endless work when it comes to changing all the various recruiting threads and social media branding. Not only that, we also had a sponsorship arrangement with Enjin. This is your identity. You decide what it’s worth. If your guild is relatively new, it might be worth considering a brand change.

Guild Resources

Resources can be thought of all assets. This doesn’t mean just gold and stuff in the guild bank. This means voice servers, websites, etc. Who provides and assumes the costs of those? Since ours were on the house, it was a no brainer there. I would’ve volunteered to assume the costs otherwise or open up donation coffers to allow anyone to pitch in. We didn’t merge banks though. I felt we had enough resources stock piled that it wasn’t entirely necessary. I suggested that whatever funds that remained could be redistributed to the rest of their guild.

Roster Personnel

This was a harder one. Combined, our roster would shoot up to 32. Who sits and who goes? We opened the door to volunteers who wanted to rest or did not need loot from certain bosses. Our mythic roster would be delayed until after we had another week or two of combined heroic clears under our belt to see how well we worked together. In most guilds, there’s players that you want to cut due to lack of performance but you can’t because of numbers reasons for Mythic. Now the flexibility is there for those kinds of decisions.

Roster roles

As a follow up to the previous point, now it’s time to look at player roles. Raids won’t need four tanks. They’re not going to need 13 healers. How does that get consolidated? For example, with two discipline priests in raid, it means we’d have to change things up because it wasn’t exactly ideal. We could’ve made it work but it wouldn’t be as effective as having a discipline and a holy priest. I volunteered to switch back to holy since I had the gear in place for it. It was a little rusty, but that was nice change from playing discipline for two straight expansions. The rest of the healers would be evaluated accordingly. Tanks were a little harder and I was willing to compromise on both of them and cede tank responsibilities to theirs. Our Death Knight had played DPS before and our Prot Paladin was willing to give it a go. Mind you, since I insisted heavily on retaining our name and branding, I had to be willing to give up something as a show of good faith and this was one of those.

Four tanks will need to be cut to two. 13 healers have to be reduced to 6 (or even less for mythic). Have talks with the players it will affect the most. Be prepared for players to leave or simply stop showing up the moment they realize they’re not as valuable as they were before.

Officer positions

This is the leadership question. We didn’t want too many cooks in the kitchen but we also wanted to ensure that there was fair representation. I discovered that we shared similar leadership structures (A GM, a raid leader, and role officers). I was not in a position where I was willing to give up executive authority as GM and this was one of the points I would not give in on. However, I was absolutely willing to switch raid leaders and change role officers. I was willing to expand it and have secondary role officers as well. I suspect that there were officers who were okay with giving up the responsibility and just being a player again without having to stress over everyone else.

If you’re tired of being a GM or a raid leader, this is your way out in a merge. If things change, you can even step back into the arena after some time away from all those responsibilities. I was prepared to float the idea of a rotating leadership during each month or each tier as another compromise.

Loot systems

Another sticking point is loot distribution. If one guild does EPGP and the other does loot council, then one group’s going to get fried no matter what. If it’s EPGP coming into a loot council dominated system, players are going to be pissed that their EPGP points will be wasted. Loot council players going the other way are going to start with 0. Thankfully, both raid groups utilized loot council so that was not a major sticking point. However, they did use EPGP for attendance tracking and incentive reasons.

I’m actually not sure how to reconcile guilds with completely different loot systems. Not unless the majority of the guild agrees to it. You’re going to naturally lose players in the process anyway.


If there’s any special rules, this is where it gets discussed. No stabbing on Wednesdays? Immediate benchings on players who trip a mine on Blackhand? No heavy swearing in guild chat? This is where it needs to be brought up. In my case, I said easy on the language on anything in game. I’ve had players banned before who said something they shouldn’t have in Eye of the Storm and they were struck with a 3 day ban which affected our Black Temple progression at the time. I was livid. At the same time though, if they’re in Mumble with their own group or set of friends and as long as no one’s taken exceptional offence, I don’t want to know. Any other forms of disciplinary action would be decided here.

Event scheduling

Do the raid times line up? This is the last thing that needs to make sense for both groups. Our original hours were from 6 – 10 PM Pacific. These guys raided from 630 – 1030 Pacific. I had players on the east coast and I stood firm on the 10 PM end time. But I was willing to be flexible on the start time. To that end, we agreed to proceed to a 630 start instead. Their raid days were on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday whereas we raided our days mid-week from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They were more than willing to move Monday to Wednesday which is where our schedule is now.


And that’s it! If both leaderships can come to a mutual agreement on all of the points listed above, welcome to your new merged guild! The work isn’t over yet. The first week or two is going to be a feeling out period. You have to remain extra diligent to minimize perceptions of favortism especially on loot decisions. Keep an open ear to the ground. Continue to stress to new players coming in that you’re always open to strategy change and feedback (and for it to be done in between raids not during raids). We actually picked up some neat alternative strats that made life easier even. Work with players from both sides of the roster. Eventually, you have to stop referring to players coming in as “their guild” and your existing players as “your guild”.

Those guilds no longer exist. You have to drill it in player’s heads that this group is now “our guild”. Us vs them mentality, if it continues, it will gradually eat away at a guild. It’ll be subtle at first. People will blame each other for mistakes or low DPS performance. But these are aspects of the game that everyone needs to work on and it starts with stamping out “us vs them”. A unified front is much stronger than a divided one.

We worked really well together for the first few weeks. The Blast Furnace kill was repeated with the new group. Blackhand was similarly taken down. We even stepped back into Highmaul and defeated Brackenspore. For that month, it seemed like a reinvigorated roster was just what the doctor ordered. Eventually, attrition struck. Some players stopped showing up because with all the players around, they felt their presence was no longer needed or that their position was in jeopardy and didn’t want to bother competing for it. We let a few players go due to personality and motivational conflicts. Soon we reached a point where we were starting to have a hard time fielding a full group for mythic and it was time to revisit the plan to transfer servers.

Ner’zhul, my home for 8 years, was dying.

Anyway, that was a long enough read. Next time, we’ll touch upon server transfers.

The Podcast and the Hearthstone Stream

We won’t be transferring servers after all. After a two-week process, I’ve come to terms with the leadership of another guild on our server and finalized an arrangement for a guild merger. This will be the third one for the guild and it’s infused fresh life into everyone. I’ll have more details about that later in the week with some behind the scenes stuff, thought processes, and all the various factors.

Merging guilds is another topic of discussing in an upcoming show of the Guildmaster’s Podcast, which will be set to debut on March 24. Wil and I have been recording our shows two weeks in advance. The third episode on low negativity and morale was released yesterday. Having that nice buffer in advance helps cushion for any unexpected events that can affect scheduling. So give us a listen!

Speaking of extra projects, in a bid to expand the streaming arsenal of Blizzard Watch, I’ll be on deck Friday nights to stream some Hearthstone game play! My first session went live last Friday and you can watch the recorded stream here. Watch that game with the warrior as it’s a doozy. No one can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like I can!

Raid progression-wise, we’re now back in front of Blackhand. There’s been some internal discussion on the merits of targeting Blackhand versus returning to Highmaul and knocking out some of the mythic bosses there instead. It wouldn’t be something we do regularly, but it’d be nice having those kills under our belt. Plus the difficulty of Brackenspore and Tectus on Mythic has been likened to the difficulty of Blackhand on Heroic (Really?).

Have a terrific week!

Thoughts on the WoW Token: About Time!

No doubt by now you’ll have heard of the new WoW token that’s been introduced by Blizzard. In short, it’s an alternative way to pay for game time with in-game gold. For others like me, it’s an alternate way to acquire in-game gold by buying a token for actual USD and listing it in the Auction House. This was a possibility announced a few months ago during December. I will say though that if you have stock in gold farmers, you should sell and unload that right away. The fact that it’s a safe and secure way for people who wish to exchange is the key takeaway. Gold selling sites are around for a reason: Because there is a demand for in-game currency. There’s lots of players like myself out there who understand that making gold is easy but simply do not have the time or wish to put in the effort to do so and can afford to spend real money instead. Some people have good income and would rather put that hour’s worth of work into 50k gold instead.

Has the world ended? Nah.

Price setting

According to their FAQ:

Q: Why can’t players set their own prices for the WoW Token?
A: The WoW Token feature is designed to facilitate the exchange of gold and game time between players in as secure, convenient, and fair a way as possible, and without making players feel like they’re playing a game with their hard-earned money. Having a set current market price and a straightforward exchange system is the best way to achieve that—you don’t need to worry about whether your Token will sell or not due to being undercut or the market shifting, and everyone receives exactly the amount of gold they were quoted.

Great, so if at the point of sale I’m told the token sells for 50k, then when a buyer comes along, I’ll have received 50k. But does that mean it will actually sell for 50k?

Q: What happens if the price quoted to me is different from what the Token actually sells for?
A: You will always receive the gold amount quoted to you at the time you place a Token up for sale, regardless of what the current price is when the item actually sells.

The token gets listed for 50k but instead the price fluctuates and falls and Joe Highschool ends up buying it for 40k due to the extra supply. Joe pays 40k, but I still receive 50k.

On the other hand, it sounds like it could go the other way around. What if the price trends upward? Maybe there isn’t that much supply to begin with and Joe pays 60k but I get paid out the 50k. Not sure where that extra 10k goes. The nether? No, it looks like it’ll just get taken completely out of circulation. In theory, it should even out.

Blizzard will tell you exactly how much you get for your gold and it’s better this way. There would be severe price differences on various servers if it were unregulated. For example, you could end up paying 100k+ on a smaller server versus 40k+ on a larger realm. It’s preferred to have a set standard of how much gold it will cost for a month of game time regardless of what server you’re playing on. Remember, the price is set regionally (NA, EU, Asia, etc.) instead of by server.

In addition, it would account for the number of gold billionaires out there in existence who could outright control how much tokens cost.

Let’s not forget that tokens are also bind on pickup right after. You can’t buy a token at a low gold price and then turn around flipping it later in a few months when the price climbs. It means tokens cannot be used as investments. That’s the key here. Additionally, you can buy tokens anytime you want but you don’t have to list them right away.

“We think there will be buyers and there will be sellers. It’s not really possible or sensible to be both. When you purchase a token off the shop, there is literally only one thing you can do with it: You can list it on the auction house for sale,” he said. “You can’t use it yourself, you can’t mail it, you can’t give it to a friend, you can’t destroy it. When you buy it off the auction house, the only thing you can do is to consume it, to add 30 days of game time to your account.”

Botters would be crippled. Think they’re going to spend all their hard earned gold on game time that they can’t sell? Gold botting revolves around acquiring in game gold and then selling it for hard currency which people generally won’t buy because it can be legitimately attained from tokens.

Blizzard learned much from the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House. That largely failed because players could simply cash out their gold into hard currency. That two-way transaction system allowed things like botting to be way more lucrative.

Watcher confirms that the monetary price of a token will never fall below a regular monthly subscription.

Comparison to PLEX and CREDD

Eve Online’s PLEX system operates a little differently:

  • The players set the price, not Blizzard
  • PLEX is tradable even after being sold to players
  • PLEX can be used to pay for several account services (Transfers, other products)
  • There is a dedicated line for people wishing to purchase packages greater than 300 PLEX.

I for one would be quite interested in having tokens be used as a way to pay for account services like server transfers or faction transfers.

Perhaps the best time to buy tokens for maximum return on gold? During the fall when students are slowly making their way back to school. Conversely, I suspect the gold price of tokens will drop during the late spring and summer months as people enjoy this… outside stuff and enjoy the weather.

A couple of years ago (2012), PLEX used to be worth around 600 million Isk (their in game currency). Now it’s sitting just below 800 million. Seems like a bubble just waiting to burst but who knows?

I wonder if PLEXes be used as a form of tax sheltering, heh.

One more thing I’ve found is that it seems the price of a regular subscription to EVE Online is cheaper than the same game time equivalent of PLEX. You’d think since both are for 30 days of game time that the prices would be the same, but it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Inactive accounts

Don’t worry, if your account is inactive you can reactivate it anytime as long as you have the sufficient gold. You can still login to the game but you’re restricted to low level characters and can’t interact with the auction house or trade chat since it’s restricted. But if you have the gold, you can purchase a token right from the character select screen.

The auction house impact

Yeah, you can it’ll have a huge impact for sure. A Spectral Tiger goes for around $450. Mythic BoEs can easily break 100k. Expect prices to fluctuate before leveling out over the first several weeks.

What’s neat is that this offers a great way to buy pets or other BoAs on other servers without you having to establish a presence. An Anubisath Idol might go for 65k on my server but end up being 30k on a different one. I can sell a token for the necessary capital to buy an Idol at 30k and circumvent buying the one on my home server.

On a side note, the auction does need an overhaul real soon. A unified regional auction house might do wonders but then does anyone really want to contend with thousands of pages of one Draenic Dust?

There’s been some concerns that this is another step closer to players being able to buy gear with hard currency. In a roundabout way, it’s possible. Here’s what Ion had to say about that:

“In Diablo III, gold and the items that were being transacted there were really very direct analogs for power. That’s what was changing hands. The very best items in Diablo were what was on the auction house,” Hazzikostas said.

“World of Warcraft … since day 1, one of the distinguishing features of our game and the game economy was that the best items in the game and the most powerful items are only obtainable through personal exploits, whether you are earning conquest points in arenas or rated battlegrounds, or whether you’re killing dragons in a raid and taking a flaming sword off the dragon’s corpse. You have to earn that yourself, gold won’t get you those things.”

Translation: BoEs aren’t the most powerful items in the game. Do expect a potential change to the Black Market Auction house. Seems like Blizzard has the foresight to consider that and increase the chance of items being sold to pets, mounts, and other cosmetic stuff.

In any case, those’re my thoughts on the topic. Quite excited for this. Patch 6.1.2!

Those of you with millions of gold: Do you really need 20 years of WoW game time?

Further reading

Venture Beat’s Interview with Watcher