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.)

Being a Kick-Ass Raider & an Epic Giveaway

As anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows, I’ve been working on a series of “kick-ass” guides. The first was about being a guild master and the second is in progress. It deals with being a kick-ass raider and I’ve already got my first free Sneak Peek up over at Kurn’s Guides.

While I already have a basic idea of what I want to talk about (skill/knowledge, gearing, logs/parses, etc), I want to know what you want to know more about when it comes to how people can improve as raiders. If you’re interested in helping me out, here’s a handy-dandy embedded form for you to fill out!

The other thing I wanted to talk about is that I have finally set up a Kurn’s Guides presence on Facebook. If you like the page before midnight (ET) on November 3rd (which is next week!), you’ll be automatically entered in a giveaway where the prize is one free copy of the Epic full version of my Kick-Ass GM guide, which is actually my best seller. Normally $59.99, you can get it for free and all you have to do is like the page!

Oh, speaking of free stuff, the Thanksgiving Happy Moose Spectacular was so awesome that I’ve extended parts of it! The basic (rare) version of Module 1: Starting Up from my Kick-Ass GM Guide is free until November 8th, with the epic and legendary versions of that module sitting pretty at just $2.99 and $4.99 each, also until November 8th. Take advantage of the offer and learn how to start up a guild — just in case you may be in that position one day!

Finally, I really appreciate everyone’s support in my various endeavours. My Twitter followers, and dedicated RTers in particular, never fail to make me smile and remind me how grateful I am that everyone’s been so receptive to my guides. :) Good luck in the Epic Giveaway and thanks for your support here at the blog, over at Guild Chat, on Twitter and now on Facebook. :)

Introducing Guild Chat

Last week, I was working to try to launch something frantically before Tuesday arrived. I had almost everything set for this project’s launch except this one tiny little feature I desperately wanted to include.

Alas, MySQL errors exploded on my screen and I said to hell with it and delayed the launch for a week. I haven’t been too outspoken about it bcause I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to finish all the little bits and pieces needed for a smooth launch, but hey! I did. (And I have this Thing about launching on Tuesdays when it comes to WoW stuff, because, you know, Tuesday is the start of the WoW week. I know. I’m weird.)

So what am I launching?

It’s called Guild Chat and it’s a forum where people can talk about various issues facing them and their guilds and get advice from the other members. It’s over at:

http://kurn.info/forum/

You do need to register in order to see most of the forum (and in order to participate!), but it’s free. You’ll need to verify your email address when registering, so be sure to use a real email address, too — and to check in various folders or tabs (Spam, Social, etc) for the registration confirmation mail. If you have problems while registering, comment here or email me and I’ll work with you to get you registered. :)

The “tiny little feature” has been redesigned. Originally, I was going to use a mod for the forum that would allow registered users only to post anonymously in a specific forum. (If I let just any anonymous user post, it would end up being 99.99999% spam.) So I decided to maintain the spirit of the idea and created a special user (with special permissions) that anyone should be able to use to end up posting somewhat anonymously, should they feel the need to do so. Sometimes it’s hard to obscure information and since anyone can register for the forum, there’s the possibility that the guildies you’re complaining about will read what you’re saying, so in order to get around that, this special user should allow you to post somewhat anonymously. (I say somewhat because I will still probably be able to tell which post is linked to which user just via IP addresses, but I’m the only one.)

This all stems from the fact that, about eighteen months ago, I wanted to put together a very closed group dedicated to GMs and officers to talk and where they could safely vent their frustrations, but that never took off and then I stopped playing. But writing my guide made me realize just how few resources there are for GMs and such out there. The forum is for anyone, whether or not you’re part of a guild’s leadership, and I welcome people from other games which have guids, but the goal is for people to really sit down and chat with each other about the problems they’re seeing in their guilds.

Whether you’re an officer or a new recruit, part of an RP social guild or a Top 100 raiding guild, all are welcome. Let’s try to find some solutions to people’s problems, shall we?

And though it probably goes without saying, considering this is me we’re talking about, Guild Chat is a respectful environment. Read the rules and policies, respect them and all will be well.

Hope to see you on the new forum! :)

(PS: There’s just 24 hours left on my $77 and $97 Specials over at my guide site, in case you wanted to take advantage before they vanish.)

On Connected Realms

Back when I first started playing World of Warcraft, I, like everyone else, was faced with a choice. At the time, I was completely unaware of how important this one choice was. I doubt most other first-timers had any idea, either. That choice was, of course, selecting a realm.

The realm I chose was Eldre’Thalas. Why? There were two reasons. The first was that it was a “Normal” server, meaning it was PVE. I had (and still have) no desire to be ganked unexpectedly.

The other reason why was because I thought it “looked cool” by virtue of having an apostrophe. That’s it. That is the entire reason I chose my home server, among 45 other PVE realms. Subsequently, that is why I met a bunch of awesome people in the guild of Fated Heroes, why I stuck with them to form Apotheosis (BC-era) and why I came back, post-Wrath, to bring Apotheosis v2.0 to life.

Because the server name looked cool.

When I look back on things, I recognize how huge a choice that was. At the time, there were no character transfers. Even now, character transfers cost $25 to pop from server to server (and believe me, I have spent a fair amount of money on transfers!), so the choice of a server is still a fairly important one. True, it no longer takes 20-30 days played to get a single character up to level 90, much less level 60, but server choice is still important, though it’s becoming less so.

With the release of Patch 5.4, Connected Realms (previously known as Virtual Realms) are being tested and implemented. Nethaera informed us on Wednesday evening that the first two realms that will be connected in this fashion are the US realms Bloodscalp and Boulderfist.

According to the US WoW RealmPop site, here are the statistics for both of those servers.

Bloodscalp:
Server type: PVP/Normal
Server timezone: MST
Alliance population: 13,581
Horde population: 32,167
Total population: 45,819

Boulderfist:
Server type: PVP/Normal
Server timezone: PST
Alliance population: 21,887
Horde population: 44,472
Total population: 66,459

I admit, this first connected realm confuses me a little bit. The Connected Realms FAQ explains that they wanted players from two (or more) lower-pop realms to play together. So why Bloodscalp and Boulderfist first? Looking at the list at RealmPop, Chromaggus has less than 16,000 characters in total. Garithos isn’t much better off, sitting at 17k. Balnazzar and Gul’dan are around the 18k mark. All four of those realms are PVP/CST realms. It seems to me as though the logical thing to do would be to group those four up pretty quickly, no?

Then again, maybe they want to start slowly, in the sense that they might want to try out this technology with just two (instead of four) realms to begin. And just two of those servers connected together would only be a total of about 32-33 thousand characters, which isn’t ideal. (Hell, all four of them merged isn’t a great population, either!) So I can understand that.

The other reason I’m confused is that they’re looking to create such a LARGE connected realm. ~46k + ~66k = ~112k characters. Either I missed a conversation/blue post out there, or I was extremely wrong in thinking that Eldre’Thalas, with its estimated population of ~74,000 characters, would remain a standalone realm. I was very surprised to see Boulderfist included, with just about eight thousand fewer characters on it than my original, home server.

The idea of Connected Realms was really interesting to me, on a community level (which I’ll get to in a moment), but it was all academic to me, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I haven’t actively played since November of 2012. However, the idea that Eldre’Thalas may be included in this, at some point, brings it home. It’s not that good ol’ Eldre’Thalas can’t use more people (I’m sure that the Horde of ET, the few of them that remain, would agree with that sentiment), but the instant that you connect two or more realms together, the community changes.

Let’s talk a bit about community.

Back when I started playing, in October of 2005, my server (and I can’t speak to other servers because I only had characters on Eldre’Thalas, at that time) had a bunch of personalities. As you levelled, you knew of pretty much anyone who was a good player, bad player, moron, genius, scammer, you name it.

There was Atlas, the rather infamous leader of The Final Sanctum, who was, by all accounts, a jackass.

There was Suttles, who you could always count on to be yelling inappropriate things.

There was Warninja, who was always happy to open your lockboxes on the Ironforge bridge.

There was Joejoemco, who was pretty much always responsible for insane feats of kiting. Like, if Borelgore (from Eastern Plaguelands) was sitting dead in Ironforge? Yeah, that was Joejoe’s fault.

There was Rastlin, the Horde shaman, who was awesome about creating flasks and rare-ish alchemy items for people, back when you needed to go to Scholomance or Blackwing Lair to find an alchemy lab to make flasks, even arranging things with Alliance folks via the neutral AH, if I’m remembering right.

There was Thack, the main tank of Eternal Force, who was That Guy standing in Ironforge in full Tier 3, on his black scarab mount, having been the guy to ring the gong on the server back when the gates to Ahn’Qiraj were opened.

Since, at the time, battlegrounds weren’t split between battlegroups, you also got to know cross-faction folks pretty well — or, at least, you recognized who murdered you brutally in Warsong Gulch. (Dar, the orc hunter, is who taught me what the hell Scattershot was by using it on me, causing me to exclaim “what in the fuck was that?!”. Elu, the tauren druid, showed me what a bear could do for flag carrying.)

Once you connect realms, the community changes.

However, since the peak of WoW’s population, back in late Wrath of the Lich King, since the introduction of Looking for Group and, later, Looking for Raid, plus the fact that battlegrounds and arenas are battlegroup-wide, there’s very little community remaining on many servers. Larger servers, such as Proudmoore (where I raided for nine months), had enough Alliance-side population to actually have personality. With pugs running constantly, plus gold DKP runs and pre-made groups, Proudmoore was a thriving community (disclaimer: I haven’t had a regularly-played character there since May of 2010). It was so different compared to Eldre’Thalas and its relative silence.

I came back to Eldre’Thalas after about an 18 month break during Wrath. I barely recognized anyone. People applied to Apotheosis, saying they’d been life-long ETers and I was like “who the hell ARE these people?”, although I did recognize the names of guilds they’d previously been in.

Even during Cataclysm, I didn’t recognize a lot of people. I still feel as though there wasn’t a ton of real community on the server. My guildies mostly stuck to in-guild activities, as did I. I tried a normal 10m pug of Dragon Soul on my hunter at one point. I was pulled in on Blackhorn (I was obviously replacing someone who had given up in frustration) and spent two hours working on that fight with these people and we couldn’t get it down. That and Baradin Hold pugs were pretty much the extent of my forays into server activities.

So, if  connected realms change the community of realms where there’s not a lot of community to start with, then this should be a good change, no? I kind of think so.

The other strange thing about Bloodscalp and Boulderfist’s imminent connection is that these are two Horde-dominant servers. Once connected, the total approximate Alliance population will be 35,468 characters compared to the Horde’s 76,639. And these are PVP servers. True, it’s not as though the Alliance aren’t already used to being completely outnumbered by the Horde on these servers, but good Lord, that’s more than twice the amount of Horde as Alliance. One would have thought that Connected Realms would not only bring up overall populations but seek to perhaps even out the faction imbalances, no? Well, I guess not.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Connected Realms are a good idea, even if the idea is not quite unfolding the way I had thought it would. Ultimately, linking realms in this fashion does not make life difficult for anyone (except auction house fiends) and, in fact, helps to build community (where there might not have been much) between separate servers that are now linked.

There are still some unanswered questions I have, in addition to the ones I posed in my last post on the subject:

Old questions:
1) How many realms will be in a Virtual Realm?
2) With which realms will others be connected? Are they going to tack Chromaggus on to Tichondrius, for instance? Or will they do it by lumping together five to ten low-pop realms to be one large Virtual Realm?
3) Will Virtual Realms have names?
4) Will players be able to transfer to a Virtual Realm (and then get randomly dropped on a server within that VR) or will they continue to transfer to individual servers?

New questions:
5) What is the ideal population size of a Connected Realm?
6) When will the actual lower-population realms start to be connected to others?
7) What’s the approximate cutoff that makes a realm “too big” to be connected, if such a number exists?
8) Is there any interest in making sure factions are better balanced?

Oh, and while I was poking around the official forums, looking for people’s reactions, I found this post in the Bloodscalp forums about Connected Realms and had a good laugh, so I absolutely have to share it! :)

Also, don’t forget to check out Kurn’s Recruitment Checklist, to better aid you in your 5.4 recruitment push, and if you need a bit more help, there’s always Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Guild Master! In particular, Module 2: How to Recruit is full of great recruitment info (as you may have already gleaned).

Finally, I’m starting work on my second Kick-Ass Guide! This one is targetted at raiders and will be a lot shorter than the guild master guide. I hope. Well, at 358 pages, the guild master guide is kind of massive, so hopefully it won’t be too difficult to release a shorter guide in a shorter period of time. The GM guide took me close to four months, so I’m aiming for half of that time before the Raider guide is out. Keep yourself up to date here or follow me on Twitter (@kurnmogh) or sign up for my mailing list over at Kurn’s Guides! :)

Round Up

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about my blog is that it’s Kurn’s Corner. That’s to say that I feel free to talk about whatever it is I want to talk about. I usually try to relate it to gaming (generally World of Warcraft and other Blizzard games, because most of my audience knows me from WoW), but if I wanted to, I could branch out and talk about other things entirely. I really enjoy that freedom.

(Having said that, this particular blog post will still be about gaming. :) I just thought I’d share with you that I enjoy the freedom my blog allows me, which probably explains why, even 10 months after I stopped playing, I’m still writing at least occasionally.)

There are a couple of things going on in the Blizzard Entertainment world these days that are interesting to me. Tuesday brings us Patch 5.4 in the World of Warcraft and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is in closed beta.

First up, 5.4!

While the content of 5.4 is of less actual interest to me than it is to people who, you know, actually play the game, it’s still an interesting time for me because I’ve spent several months attempting to do my part to help solve (or at least alleviate) The Recruitment Problem. What IS The Recruitment Problem? It’s that guilds are constantly struggling to recruit. Recruitment has always been one of the most difficult things to handle in a guild. If you over-recruit, you may lose people who feel they’re not getting their fair time in guild events. If you under-recruit, you may not have guild events in the first place! It’s a difficult balance to strike. Plus there’s the turnover that causes you to almost always be searching for new players. So while I was writing my guide, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Guild Master, I decided to start spotlighting guilds to help guilds get a bit more attention. While I had a ton of submissions up front, I’ve exhausted all of those and now need NEW submissions, so if your guild is recruiting, I will happily craft you a Guild Spotlight. Just go fill out the form. Did I mention it’s free?

Speaking of free, there’s also a brand-new addition to my guide site, over at Kurn.info! It’s called Kurn’s Recruitment Checklist and you can find it in the new Free Stuff section of the site. It’s a basic list of all the tasks you should be doing on a daily basis to maximize your chances as you attempt to recruit. They’re all tried-and-true methods — it’s what I did when I was recruiting for my own guild. (Speaking of Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas, they’re currently ranked #1 on the server at 11/13 HM – they’ve been frantically working on H Lei-Shen to down him before the patch and still have a raid night to do it! – and they’re seeking rogues, windwalkers, warriors and a talented resto druid, though they’re open to other melee classes. Raid nights are Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday from 9pm ET until 12am. Check them out for quality 25m heroic raiding!)

And in not-so-free-but-still-discounted news… In honour of 5.4′s imminent release, this past week has seen Module 2 (How to Recruit) of my aforementioned Guild Master guide at 25% off! The sale ends Monday night at 11:59pm ET, so make sure you’re prepped for the recruitment rush at the start of this new patch! Check out Module 2 here!

In other guide-related news, my next project is not going to be Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raid Leader. It’s going to be Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider. (The Raid Leader one will come eventually.) I just started writing it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all Soon(tm)! (Probably a couple of months, although it’s going to be much shorter than the Guild Master guide. I hope.)

And now… Hearthstone!

I was extremely fortunate and won a Hearthstone Beta Key from Sas148 at Wowhead! Again, my thanks to Sas!

I’ve really been enjoying it. Hilariously, it plays well on my laptop, too, although a bit laggier (unsurprising), but considering this laptop is the one that granted me a blazing 3-6fps in raids in WoW, that it plays this game pretty well is impressive. They’re really casting a wide net in terms of system requirements, it seems.

I’ve got a couple of videos up (Uther vs. Uther and then opening up 15 packs), which you can watch over at this YouTube playlist. I’ve also streamed a bit here and there over at Twitch and really need to go through the streams I’ve done to pull out some highlights.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying the hunter (I know, it’s a shocker) and the paladin (also shocking). I really enjoy how the different decks really “feel” like the classes they’re supposed to represent. Paladins feel like they’re in plate, with lots of defenses. I feel as though they play a long game with buffs to their many potential minions and defensive moves. I feel as though hunters are very dependent on their beasts — lots of hunter cards for buffs to beasts in particular. On the flipside, you have Jaina (the mage, obviously) and she feels like she can deal an insane amount of damage, but has very little to help her last terribly long. Playing the mage deck makes me actually feel like a fire mage/glass cannon.

I haven’t spent a lot of time playing the other decks as of yet (although I’ve unlocked them all), but rogues seem very direct-damagey, while shaman seem interesting in the sense that you can kind of borrow against mana from the next turn (certain abilities will “overload” you and remove some mana crystals from use in the next turn). Warlocks are, typically, self-destructive, which cracks me up, but they’re very potent, from what I’ve seen. They seem almost OP the way the class was in Burning Crusade. Ah, memories! ;)

Something I really enjoy about Hearthstone is that so many things are familiar. There’s a card that’ll play a minion, the Acidic Swamp Ooze, which has a battlecry effect of breaking your opponent’s weapon (if they have one). I laughed out loud at that because there’s a mob by the same name in WoW, who drops a grey junk item called… Broken Weapon! Plus there are legendary cards like Gruul, whose special ability is that he gains one attack and one health after each turn, which basically mimics his actual, in-game mechanics. (Although gaining health in WoW would have been kind of counter-intuituve, it’s a great addition to his Growth ability in Hearthstone!)

So I’m enjoying it. It’s reminiscent of WoW without actually BEING WoW. I enjoy the ranked play (Platinum 2-star at this point) as well as the arena. (I am SO BAD AT ARENA, ahahahaha!) Overall, I can’t wait ’till the game actually comes out. I think it’ll be a lot of fun, especially with more players.

Okay, I guess that’s it for this post. Remember, Module 2′s sale ends Monday at 11:59pm ET and that there’s a new, free recruitment tool for you to download at my site. Not to mention that I’m still seeking submissions for my free guild spotlights!

Enjoy Patch 5.4 and good luck getting into the Hearthstone beta if it’s something that interests you!

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