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Safety is serious business on US Feathermoon (RP). The Guildwatch, Feathermoon's Alliance global defense network of guilds and individuals, strives seven days a week to protect Alliance towns and territories from Horde attack. Sound like something that's taken pretty seriously? That would be affirmative. Says Guildwatch leader Mixler of the group's some 400 members, "Most of the major players Alliance-side have been members at one point or another, all of the Horde PvPers have fought us, and I believe we're still the largest organization on Feathermoon."
While Feathermoon is not a PvP realm (it is one of the game's original realms, created before there were such things as RP-PvP realms), world PvP is in fact a significant part of the Feathermoon experience. The Guildwatch has played no small part in developing that legacy. 15 Minutes visited with GM Mixler for an inside look at the mechanics that keep the sprawling network working like a well-oiled machine.
Main character Mixler
Guild "I leveled from 1-60 without a guild, to better facilitate my roll as an inter-guild diplomat. When the timing felt right, I founded a mage/warlock training guild called the Arcane Academy. It takes in new mages and warlocks and teaches them how to play their class and how to roleplay."
15 Minutes of Fame: Tell us how you first got started in WoW, Mixler, and how that led to your involvement in the Guildwatch.
Mixler: I rolled on Feathermoon release week, as it was an RP server in my time zone, and I remember thinking, "No self-respecting Counterstrike ganker is gonna roll on a server named 'Feathermoon.'" I've never been disappointed in that choice.
WoW is actually my first MMO. I was a big fan of the Warcraft strategy games and Blizzard as a company. Some friends played the open beta, which I tried to stay away from due to classes. But my cousin brought it over to try out Thanksgiving weekend, and I bought it myself the next day.
I think the fact Feathermoon is an RP server helped with the formation of the Guildwatch. The energy folk had when Warcraft was just starting up was phenomenal, and everyone saw themselves as true heroes. Tapping into that to get people to work together for the Alliance was key. Since I was there from the beginning, it helped me get to know *everybody* who was playing a lot. PvP in general was different back then, too. There were no rewards, no honor points, so combat was purely for enjoyment and bragging rights.
How does the Guildwatch actually work in practice?
The Guildwatch maintains two channels, Guildwatch (for defense) and Guildwatchchat (for socializing, debates, looking for group, etc.) Both channels are in-character, though use of OOC brackets is frequent, and some practical game mechanic jargon is tolerated. We also host a roleplayed policy meeting every other week in Stormwind Keep.
In practice, at the most basic level, a Guildwatch member will have joined the defense line. If he is in the area where an attack occurs, he reports to the larger 'watch what he knows: ideally, who is attacking, their numbers, classes and levels, and whether or not locals are handling it or if support is needed. Knowing who the Horde attacker is lets us better predict their behavior. More involved members actively seek out sources of World Defense alarms, respond to calls for backup from other members, participate in Guildwatchchat and attend the in-game meetings. Another way to help is to make use of the web site, submitting character/guild profiles, threat dossiers on repeat attackers, and battle reports for notable fights.
Feathermoon is an RP but not an RP-PvP server. Do a large number of players run perma-flagged? Do Guildwatch members run perma-flagged?
There were no RP-PvP servers when I started playing, and the Guildwatch was entrenched on Feathermoon by the time they became available. There are a handful us who do run perma-flagged, most often found among the officers, myself included. I figure if someone wants to try to kill me, they should have the opportunity. Very satisfying killing someone who's tried to jump you while blue-flagged. The PvP quests have helped; I just keep one in my log at all times. That way it auto-drops in instances and pops right back up again when I leave.
Are a significant number of members involved in Battlegrounds and Arena PvP, or does the world PvP and RP aspect of Guildwatch take up most of the time and focus?
Oh, I think all but a few folks do Battlegrounds at least once in a while. Arena teams, not so much (with some notable exceptions), though many of the Horde who attack us regularly do. We attract a lot of casual players, since we meet a lot of the needs that guilds do, and casual players tend to be more "available" at a moment's notice.
How has the Horde responded to Guildwatch's defenses? Do they have a similar system?
Naturally, the response has been varied. Some Horde don't like us for "spoiling" their raids, especially on the capitals. Not so much fun for them when the prey has teeth. I often field complaints that when we're losing, we just keep bringing in more people to help drive them out. The 'watch isn't particularly concerned about providing an even fight or entertainment for the Horde ... We view it as having a job to do and to do what it takes to end the alarms. That's not to say we don't try to fight honorably. The officers try to keep a tight leash on folks who degrade our opponents, especially people who abuse the blue-flagging mechanic.
Other groups, we've developed a healthy mutual respect with. There's been a number of PvP-focused Horde guilds over the years: Low Red Moon, Noxilite, the B Plus Team, Dukago's forces ... Usually when they behave honorably, relations are good. For a while, there was a similar defense organization Horde-side called /Horde, after their channel name. It's mostly defunct now, and our officers speculate it's because they lacked much of the structure the Guildwatch provides. Their organization was not in character, with few ways to involve members. For them it was just a channel, while for us the Guildwatch is so much more.
Typing this up has reminded me of some Horde-side drama we had to deal with a year ago, where there were some misconceptions about how we function. A lot of the controversy was over the intelligence officer's use of spies and how some members were not following policy. I spelled out how we operate in some detail, but it also highlights some of the issue people have had with us. I dug up the link.
What about offensive efforts?
While the Council has authorization to plan an offensive attack, it's rarely been exercised. In practice, the 'watch as an organization is effectively defense-only. GW members are allowed to do as they will, of course, and join other attack raids, but they're not to try and bring the rest of the Guildwatch into it. This policy is most visible in Hillsbrad. GW forces are under standing orders not to pursue Horde past the ruined tower midway between Southshore and Tarren Mill while part of a GW defense raid. This occasionally causes conflict with more aggressive Alliance members wanting us to reinforce their attacks.
The Tri-City Assault http://www.wowwiki.com/Server:Feathermoon_US/The_Tri-City_Assault
pretty much ended our offensive efforts. The population imbalance was tipped pretty heavily Alliance-side in those days, and shortly after the honor patch came out, Tarren Mill was under attack by non-Guildwatch forces 24/7. It's hard to take the moral high road when your opponents are being camped like that.
What are the typical world PvP hotspots on Feathermoon? Is it the usual Hillsbrad mixups, or is it specific to where people are leveling at any given moment, or is it mostly confined to strategic targets?
It's varied. Southshore is always popular, and you usually get a better quality of PvP there. I have my hearthstone set there, just so I can quickly investigate attacks. Astranaar attacks have declined lately, but I know a few members who have hearthstones set there as well.
We fight at least one capital city raid per week. Horde death knight Baleyg was organizing pickup raids every other night for a while, but it's slacked off. Unless we can get intel they're forming ahead of time, they can usually get one capital leader down before we can respond. Our success rate for stopping them after that is very high, though. Exodar is by far the hardest of the capitals to defend. Velen does low damage, and there are no good chokepoints between him and the Exodar's rear entrance. Our most effective strategy for city defense in general is to stage our raid somewhere along the path to the city leader. The Horde raid usually tries to ride by, allowing us to pull a portion of them off their mounts. The Horde raid gets strung out, and we take them apart piecemeal. If we allow them time to engage the leader, their healers get entrenched, and it can be very hard to root them out before they kill the leader.
Lately, since the portals to the Dark Portal have been added to the capitals, we've been responding to a lot of attacks on Honor Hold. It's very rare that any other town in Outland be attacked since WotLK came out, though. Northrend towns hardly ever get attacked as well, I think because of the guard levels, but we have had several memorable fights aboard the Stormbreaker airship in Icecrown.
Tell us about the Mixler is Kidnapped story line.
In the winter/spring of '08, I had to stop playing WoW to focus on my studies (I'm a physics major at Oregon State). I had enough advance warning that I was able to reach Cataline, guild leader of the Horde guild the B Plus Team, and we discussed "justifying" my absence by having her guild kidnap Mixler. I put up a post a few days before my account expired, and she had one of her officers respond, and the story exploded from there. With at least five distinct yet intertwined plot lines, contributions from all over the Horde and Alliance, and spillover into live in-game events, it succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. I wish I'd had my account active to actually see it. =P Naturally, the Guildwatch and our Horde rivals were the biggest players, and I remember meeting with up to 10 people at a time over Vent ironing out story details.
Plot-wise ... you know, this is like the fourth time I've tried to summarize it, and I keep starting over. Mixler was kidnapped, and the Guildwatch went nuts searching for him. After several skirmishes with Horde, lots of intrigue and spy-combat, they learned the B Plus Team was using him to build a device that would create their own death knights. The Guildwatch eventually learned of his imprisonment in Silvermoon City and staged a rescue.
You'd probably have to read the thread itself for all the interesting characterization, the Nictus/Agrijag grudge match, Mixler's Stockholm Syndrome and all the rest, but I can see how 13 pages worth of forum posts would be intimidating. ~_o
[Thanks, Mike, for the tip!]
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