Connected Realms – 1 Month Review

I was initially a little bit critical of the whole Connected Realms phenomenon when Blizzard announced that their first connected realms were going to be the US realms of Boulderfist and Bloodscalp. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of this and I think it’s a great way to merge populations without all the hassle of people losing or changings guild and characters names, nor do they “shut down” servers, thereby avoiding the negative associations that come with shutting down servers. It’s really a genius idea. My concern was really limited to the reasoning behind connecting those two realms, in particular.

It’s been just over a month since Boulderfist and Bloodscalp were connected and, I have to say, things look much clearer after a few more of these connections have gone through.

Blizzard has since added Maiev and Dunemaul to Boulderfist and Bloodscalp, with Stonemaul coming to that group soon. They’ve done a lot more, but let’s focus on this initial cluster of Connected Realms for now.

Boulderfist + Bloodscalp gave an approximate total population of about 112,000 (characters, not players!)

Adding Maiev to those two added another 60,000 characters or so, totalling around 172,000 characters. Dunemaul was also another 60k characters, so the rough total of characters on that cluster is 232,000 characters. Remember, again, this is characters, not players. The actual population is likely a lot smaller than that. Stonemaul is slated to join them next, bringing about 41k characters, so that cluster will have approximately 273,000 characters. (I don’t think anyone except Blizzard has numbers on how many players that means, though.)

My initial hesitation was that they were starting with two servers that, at least in character population, weren’t too badly off. I questioned leaving Chromaggus, Balnazzar and Gul’dan to languish.

Since that first realm connection, Chromaggus and Garithos have been linked, while Gul’dan will be joining the cluster with Skullcrusher/Black Dragonflight. Balnazzar has been linked with Warsong. Great to see!

I also had a lot of questions, many of which have been answered.

1) How many realms will be in a Connected Realm? At least five, by the looks of it. This could theoretically be a LOT, especially if subscribers decline substantially at some point in the future.
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 Connected Realm? Lumping together low-pops seems to be the plan.
3) Will Connected Realms have names? Not as of yet. That said, they’re considering making forums for each connected realm, which I would think would earn them a name. Imagine going to the Boulderfist/Bloodscalp/Maiev/Dunemaul/Stonemaul forum… I would guess we’ll see forums (and thus, names) closer to when certain clusters are “done” with adding connections.
4) Will players be able to transfer to a Connected Realm (and then get randomly dropped on a server within that VR) or will they continue to transfer to individual servers? I think things are still server-specific at this juncture.
5) What is the ideal population size of a Connected Realm? I don’t think this has been mentioned.
6) When will the actual lower-population realms start to be connected to others? Very shortly after the first two realms were successfully connected, apparently.
7) What’s the approximate cutoff that makes a realm “too big” to be connected, if such a number exists? Unknown.
8) Is there any interest in making sure factions are better balanced? Not exactly, no.

After seeing so many realms be connected in such a short period of time, I started wondering if connected realms were limited to battlegroups or even datacenters. The answer appears to be no. Dethecus and Detheroc are connected, but Dethecus is in the Rampage battlegroup and Detheroc in the Shadowburn battlegroup. Granted, those are both in the Chicago datacenter. However, on the list of connected realms are Laughing Skull (Vindication, in Chicago) and Auchindoun (Retaliation, in New York). Unless they’re moving servers to different datacenters during these connection maintenance periods, it looks as though there is no technical limitation regarding server location or battlegroup, which is great. It really allows Blizzard to examine which realms are in need and address that without worrying about other factors, like that one of the servers is across the country from the other.

Something else that’s interesting is that PVE realms are sneaking into these connected realms. The first few connections were all PVP realms but Nesingwary and Vek’nilash seem to have been connected this week and Winterhoof and Kilrogg will be connected in the next round. All four are PVE realms, so I would presume this means we’ll see more PVE (perhaps RP?) connections in the coming weeks. The lack of transparency as to the actual population of various servers is bothersome (I’d love to know if Eldre’Thalas is going to be connected anytime soon, for instance) but the connections tend to happen within a week or so of the announcement, with new connections happening every week. I would imagine most connections will be done, barring catastrophic technological failure, before the end of the year. I’m sure they’ll keep an eye on things and will add realms to connected clusters as needed, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t have the majority of servers who need population boosts taken care of by the end of the year.

Overall, I think this whole project is going swimmingly and I think it’s a fantastic idea by Blizzard. Of course, what I’m entirely incapable of discussing is how the people on these realms actually feel about these connections. Any of you out there on a connected realm? Problems? Good thing? Bad thing? Let me know! :)

While you’re here, would you do me a favour and take a second to fill out a quick survey for me, please? It’s really just one question: what do YOU want to know more about in regards to being a kick-ass raider? Thanks so much! :) In case you can’t tell, I’ve been working on my forthcoming Kick-Ass Raider guide and have a new Sneak Peek up!

And finally, the Epic Giveaway I’m hosting on Facebook has literally six entries so far. Your chances of winning are spectacular! All you have to do is like the Facebook page (before 11:59pm ET on November 3) to be entered for a chance to win the full epic version of my GM Guide. Go ahead, you know you wanna!

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. :)

The Thanksgiving Happy Moose Spectacular!

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my fellow Canadians! To the Americans out there, sorry you still have to wait another month or so. ;)

In honour of Thanksgiving, I’ve got a sale going on over at Kurn’s Guides: $10 off every version of the full kick-ass GM guide when you use the code HAPPYMOOSE and $10 off Module 1‘s versions, as well. Except that the rare version of Module 1 is usually $9.99, meaning I can’t take $10 off that price… so that one is just absolutely FREE for this weekend only! (The Epic and Legendary versions of Module 1 are $2.99 and $4.99 respectively.)

The sale ends on Monday, October 14th at 11:59pm ET, so take advantage now and have some awesome reading material for the long weekend (if you’re Canadian) or just your regular-length weekend (if you’re not).

And while you’re reading, I plan to spend most of this weekend writing up my Kick-Ass Raider guide before I go to my parents’ for a turkey dinner with the whole family.

Have  a great Thanksgiving Happy Moose Spectacular, everyone! :)

Various Current Thoughts

I have something like four draft posts that I’ve written chunks of in the last couple of weeks that will probably never see the light of day, simply because they’re no longer timely or perhaps even relevant. (One might question the actual relevance of ANY of my blog posts, though, I suppose. ;)) That said, I’ve obviously wanted to blog, so here I am.

New on Twitter

One of the blogs I’ve been reading for, oh, forever, is Blessing of Kings. It’s written by Rohan and every time I see he’s updated, I run to his blog to read his thoughts. We don’t always agree on things and there are some topics (SWTOR, for example) that I’m not interested in at all, but he’s a smart guy who writes very well. Happily, he’s now on Twitter! Go follow him, ASAP: @rverghes

New (to me) Blog

So I started up my Guild Chat forum a couple of weeks ago (go, read, ask questions, post your guild recruitment ads, etc!) and one of the members introduced himself and joked about me not following him on Twitter. I searched my emails to see if it was someone I knew or whatever and I saw a couple of emails exchanged between us — and it turns out that the guy is the amazing individual who runs WoW Lemmings. Not only is he awesome for running that site (because that site has SAVED MY GUILD’S ASS more times than I can count), but he’s got a WoW blog. It’s called “Eight Years in Azeroth: Memoires of a Casual/Hardcore Raiding Guild Leader“. Basically, he tells the story of his guild, from its inception to… well, he’s up to somewhere in Wrath now, I believe. I’m only a couple of entries in, but I’m really enjoying it. He’s a good storyteller and, of course, he’s currently talking about Vanilla, so I’m enthralled. ;) (Hilariously, I just noticed the URL can also spell out “Eighty Ears”, but I’m pretty sure it’s “Eight Years”. ;))

First entry is here:


I admit it. Since losing my King Krush card in the wipe, I’ve been a bit sad. I LOVED that card. Sure, I could craft it — if I had 1600 Arcane Dust lying around. I have, oh, 380. I’ve already spent some cash in the beta (pre-wipe), so I’m not particularly inclined to spend any money right now, so I’ll just have to deal. That said, I do still quite enjoy the hunter deck. It feels really good and I think it’s got a lot of synergy.

I do plan to post something about card synergy for hunters, but, well, not today.

Hearthstone 2

The hot topic today, I expect, will be the fact that Hearthstone ranked players have just experienced their first rank wipes. Prior to the patch and general overall wipe last Tuesday, I’d made it up to Platinum 2 with some half-hearted playing in the weeks beforehand. I got to Gold 3 this last week with some occasional play and experimentation with new hunter deck builds. And yet, I logged in today and it was like “Last week, you hit Gold 3!” And I’m now apparently back to the start. Since I haven’t put in a lot of effort, I’m okay with that. But I can see why some people are annoyed.

On the one hand, if you hit the top rank (Masters 3, I think?), what else are you going to do if ranks don’t reset on a regular basis? Plus, eventually, most people will be somewhere between Gold and Masters, I would imagine, leaving newbies to die hideously. There would be too much of an advantage for the older players, no? Something like that.

But on the other hand, why bother playing ranked if your progress is just going to vanish on Tuesday? That’s… it’s sort of like levelling a WoW toon for a week and hitting, I don’t know, 77, and then getting it wiped. There’s talk about “weekly tournaments” or rewards or whatever, but I haven’t seen too much info about this yet (not that I’ve been looking particularly hard). Still, one needs to ask what kind of rewards are viable for each type of player. Card packs aren’t useful to players who have all the cards (and there are people who do — or almost all of them). Dust isn’t useful to those people either. Gold, then? Gold allows Arena entry, so that’s a possibility, but ranked play is very different from Arena play. Ranked play is all about you customizing your own deck and painstakingly tweaking it and testing it out. Arena play is “hey, here are three heroes. Pick one. Oh, good, you picked one! Now, here are 90 cards, pick the best 30 you can and, by the way, you have no idea against whom you’ll be playing, GOOD LUCK!”. Arena play is basically throwing you into the deep end, because you can’t change your deck and you can’t even choose your hero (okay, you can, but the choice is one of three — if a hunter, for example, isn’t offered as a choice, guess what? That’s right, no Rexxar for you.). You have to be really familiar with all the classes and all their abilities in order to do well in the Arena, IMHO. (This would explain why I’m not good. Yet.)

So my question is, what kind of rewards would be good for BOTH new ranked players that would get them to work to be better in ranked play AND highly-ranked players who have clearly mastered ranked play and have the vast majority of cards in the game?

Good God, it’s like Blizzard’s replicated the WoW “casual vs. hardcore” in Hearthstone, too! ;)

World of Warcraft

It’s been a year since I got back from my trip to Italy which means it’s been about eleven months since I last played WoW (barring a 30m quick bit of testing on a trial account – on my laptop – for Module 2 of my GM Guide, to properly ascertain which Horde race can get to Trade Chat the quickest). I last properly played on November 10th and, I admit, with all the talk of 5.4, it’s tempting to go back and screw around a bit, maybe form some flex raids or some such thing.

Then again, it’s not all that tempting.

But Proving Grounds seem interesting. And it’s tempting to see how long it would take me to get a legendary cloak, since I’d be starting from scratch…

Yet every time I get the urge to play, I question if it’d be worth it. I know myself well enough to know that I’d play a LOT until all the newness has worn off and then I’d be like “why am I even PLAYING if I’m not RAIDING?” and honestly, do I want to learn boss strats? Nope, not particularly. And since I don’t have the client on my desktop, I’d be in for something like a 17GB download, which is enough to dissuade me from impulsively signing back up.

I will go back at some point — apart from anything else, I’d like to try to get server-first skinning in the next expansion, which has LONG been a goal of mine — but I don’t think that time is now. Plus, going back now seems silly when I’m so close to a year without playing. Maybe after NaNoWriMo, when it’s December and it’s cold and snowy outside.

Speaking of Majik

Majik and his wife are coming up to Montreal in November. Those two, plus my brother, Fog, and his wife, and I will all be going up to our parents’ cottage in mid-November for a three-day weekend. Should be fun, although cold. Plans currently include a lot of board game playing: The Resistance (which I just picked up this week), Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and possibly more. We may also get to canoe if it’s not TOO cold, perhaps have a short hike up a small mountain (assuming my brother and I can remember where in the hell the mountain is and where the path is) and possibly have a bonfire while keeping an eye out for the shooting stars stemming from the Leonid meteor shower. It should be a good time. And maybe I’ll get him to SING for the old Blessing of Frost podcast listeners.

(I still have a very short mini-episode thing I need to finish editing, one of these days, that was recorded back on Maj’s wedding day.)

Kick-Ass Raider’s Guide

Writing my GM guide this summer was a fantastic experience. I was really into it and very passionate about what I was doing and wrote a lot. I haven’t found the same energy for my raider’s guide, but I do plan to get some serious writing done this week. I feel like I keep saying this, but hopefully I’ll have a sneak peek for you guys Soon ™. Right now, it seems as though each time I try to write, I end up going through my GIGABYTES of screenshots, trying to find examples for what I’m talking about and then I, invariably, get caught up in old memories. Not useful for writing something, surprisingly. ;) Anyhow, you should sign up for my announcement list at Kurn’s Guides for info on when things are launched and released. :)

Okay, I think that about sums up what’s up with me and current stuff. Maybe I’ll get some guide writing done, now. :)