Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wrangling the Herd

With ten of us on the same account, it takes a little effort to keep everyone happy and fed. Fortunately for us, this is a working clan, so everybody contributes as best they can. Diversity and planning go a long way towards success in these endeavors.

We don't have a perfect system. I don't know if there is. But if any of this proves helpful to you, it's a good thing.

"We." Hrmph. Starting to sound like BRK.

Oh, and if you have suggestions, love to hear 'em.

The Infrastructure


With ten members, we more than cover the gamut of gathering and crafting professions, some of them get double- or triple-coverage. For example, Flora and Jasra are both tailors; Flora was our original fabric sink, and Jas adopted it in order to be able to create the robe set that she'll get when she maxes out.

While it worked fairly well early on, it really started to tick over when mail delivery between toons on the same account went from "soon" to "instant". This makes it possible, for example, for Amus to send Flora a Primal Life immediately upon her realization that she needed it.

Another way to speed this up is to use the guild bank. Some people have a guild just for them and their alts, and they use the guild bank for moving things around with no effort. There is another alternative for those in a guild, and that is to pay the guild leader for a private tab, assuming the guild bank isn't already full of tabs. Might cost you, though.

The Ecosystem


Assuming everyone has something going on, the next step is to carve out niches for each. Flora = Shadoweave, Jasra = Mooncloth, for example. Your miners can divvy up responsibilities, and so on.

Assignment is only part of the job. The other part is in keeping it all organized. Say you have two tailors - who needs the mageweave? Or does someone need it for bandages? How about that stack of Zesty Clam Meat? Stuff that isn't needed can be auctioned. Stuff that doesn't AH can be disenchanted or sold.

The important thing to remember is where the goods need to go, and keep them flowing. When minutes count, you need the mats close at hand for each toon in order to avoid long delays in what is going to be another busy day.

The optimum outcome is that no part of the cow goes to waste - unless all your toons are skilled beyond the need for an item.

Plan Ahead and Manage Your Space


I deliberately brought Flora into being as a tailor for one simple reason: bags. A tailor can take stacks of cloth and turn them into a storage solution. I'm not just talking about all five of your bag slots. I'm also talking about your bank slots. Being able to retain a rare item for a long time is a great boon that you cannot have if you are always obsessing over space.

As an example, Grimm has tons of each major kind of leather as well as several "boutique" stacks, such as Devilsaur hide. At any given moment, if the need emerges for one of these, I can produce it for myself or any of my guildies.

If I didn't have the space, all but the necessities would be gone by now.

A final advantage of a lot of bag space is that if you are not quite ready for a mat, you have a place to keep it until you are. As an example, Flora had tons of mageweave, silk, and runecloth for Jasra at each stage of her development. And while Slithmere can't do anything with Fel Iron yet, Grimmtooth has sent every scrap he's fished out of Serpent Lake and it's waiting in the bank.


Scheduling


Here's the tough part, and I can make no great claims on this as well.

The point of having ten toons is to play them. Oh, sure, there are some that use them as banks, but I'm assuming that if you are reading this, you read a lot of WoW blogs and thus are interested in how to be excellent at what you do. So we proceed on that assumption.

There are a number of ways I have tried in the past, all with some limited success, at which point I moved on to something new. They break out roughly like this.

  • Five Levels Apart -This is how I started out. Once I hit level 10 and got parked in an inn, I rolled Flora up and played her to 10, then went back to Grimm and took him up five, then alternated between the two of them until Flora was level 15; then I rolled up Illume. This continued; Grimm would go up a level, then Flora, then Illume, and so forth.  The problem with this method was once I hit Outland, more and more of my time was needed for guild matters and getting ready for questing.  
  • Just a few quests - This has you hitting your toons at a higher frequency; probably a couple of hours are spent on each toon, with occasional exceptions. This keeps them all in play and advancing, but discourages in-depth play. The one-level-at-a-time approach to the previous method gives you far more time to enjoy each toon in full.  
  • Assigned Slots - I'm currently working this pattern with my group; four of us have assigned days in which we get all the time barring instance invites. In our case, two evenings are reserved for raiding. That leaves some time for foraging (more about that later) and then some time for "whoever". In our case, Jasra currently owns all "whoever" time because we are accelerating her to 70. Once we get there, we will try to work on the "whoever".  
  • Rotating Slots - Similar to above, but instead of assigning specific days to specific toons, we have X number of toons that we rotate through Y days with. For example, right now here is our schedule:
  1. Monday: Grimmtooth
  2. Tuesday: Floramel
  3. Wednesday: Raiding
  4. Thursday: Illume
  5. Friday: Jasra
  6. Saturday: Foraging (morning) and Raiding (night)
    1. Sunday: Foraging

      What rotating slots does is remove the day assignment. Let's add one more person, and assume that Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday are still immutable. Grimm would start on Monday, Jas would still do Friday, but then on the following Monday, "Whoever" would be on, and then Grimm on Tuesday. The advantage is that you can expand this to the point that all ten toons can have a day if needed.

      The point here is that you probably need a system, but don't be afraid to tweak it or change it to meet your needs, and possibly your guild's.

      Foraging


      Food and mats!

      While occasions present themselves to go fishing or hunting or mining or whatever, generally speaking we usually don't get our bags full of good buff food and potions without putting some effort into it. I set aside "foraging days" for my toons and give them assignments. I usually reserve this for those that can travel everywhere, for safety's sake. For example, Grimm is my highest fisherman, so he goes off and fishes in Serpent Lake most times. Flora cooks the basilisk meat from Grimm and splits it with Illume. Illume farms for herbs to make potions with. And so on.

      This allows you to focus down on farming when you need to without detracting from the flow of the game overly much.