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Meet the Bloggers: Basil "Euripides" Berntsen

Basil Berntsen
About the Bloggers introduces you to the people behind WoW Insider. You can find articles on more WI staffers in earlier About the Bloggers entries.

What do you do for WoW Insider?

I write Gold Capped. I used to write Time is Money and Insider Trader as well, but then I decided to stop trying to categorize my thoughts and simply dump them all into Gold Capped and let my editors sort it out.

What's your main?

I have exactly one level 85 character: my hunter. I raid and PVP with him, as well as use him for my alchemy and blacksmithing businesses. I will continue to have one max-level character until all the jewelcrafting dailies my JC mule does dings him 85 without having set foot outside Stormwind.

I have way too much on my plate to actually take care of my alts. For one, I hate leveling. Once you've seen it once, doing it again doesn't have enough reward to justify the time. Secondly, if I had more playtime to use, I'd use it to do more of what I already do. I could be doing 10-man extensions of my 25-man raid if I had another raid night per week, or I could do more than a rated BG now and then. Starting a second gear grind with another character isn't something that's on my radar.

What's the best 5-man instance in the game? What's the best raid?

All 5-man instances are boring and irrelevant to me once I have what I need from them. The best raid is always the 25-man heroic version of whatever the current raid is; however, assuming we're comparing each raid when they were the best, then I'd have to say Ulduar. It was a long, well-done raid with a lot of depth, and I missed it when it became irrelevant. Black Temple was a close second.

I am well engaged by and enjoy the current raiding design, where each new patch is a small reset and an opportunity to increase your character's gear compared to the last patch. That said, I wish there were more rewards for going back to older raids than an unspendable currency that I might already have earned just by being a raider when the content was fresh. The weekly quests we enjoyed last expansion were a step in the right direction, but I wish there were something more.

What's been your favorite expansion?

Probably The Burning Crusade, although I liked how they opened everything up in Wrath of the Lich King. I'd love it if they could have figured out some design where raid groups had an incentive to experience all the tiers of raiding instead of jumping straight into the latest and greatest tier; however, somehow Blizzard's kept raiding as accessible as it was in Wrath. That said, I am not a game designer and have no idea how that could have been accomplished.

What accomplishments are most proud of in game?

My two greatest in-game accomplishments are the guild I lead and the gold I've made. The guild is run the way I've always wanted my guilds to be run: completely transparently. We posted our charter with a set of rules, and we follow them to the letter. People are given raid spots based on performance and raid composition, not politics. We are light on drama and can accommodate good players with wonky play schedules since we have no minimum attendance.
Gold is what I write about here and is by far the most interesting part of WoW for me. People tend to consider the economy of WoW a necessary evil or worse yet, an unnecessary one. I, on the other hand, find making money to be a very interesting intellectual challenge, on par with any of the other more popular in-game pursuits. I also believe that when WoW is a free-to-play ghost town (or whatever happens to MMO games when they die), it'll be remembered for having had the first really large and important virtual economy. Virtual dragonslaying and player-killing is a commodity -- other games have done them as well or better before WoW, but WoW's economy is unique in its scale.

Making gold is something that's doable with any amount of time. The frequency and duration of your play time is certainly going to have an effect; however, you can play this part of the game even if you have almost no time.

That said, I dump all my unscheduled play time into the money-making game and have achieved a level of success that is rare. I hit the original gold cap a few months after I started writing about it here, and I hit the new gold cap (1 million) right after Cataclysm launched. I now make 20k-60k profit a week, depending on how much time I spend on it and how much my competition plays. Every new patch represents hundreds of thousands of gold earned (and spent ...), mostly through stockpiling goods and releasing them when people get a rush of upgrades.

The last one and a half years has taught me a lot about economics -- not just virtual economics, either. I find myself looking at the world in a whole new way now that I have been thinking and writing about economics, even if only virtual, for so long.

Horde or Alliance?

Alliance all the way. I don't care about lore and I don't read quest text, but it's obvious to me that the Horde are the bad guys and the Alliance are the good guys. I don't want to discuss it, and I don't want to hear how the Horde has factions within them that are more reasonable. The Hordies are good at two things as far as I'm concerned: paying more for my trade goods than Alliance, and PVP. And they're only good at PVP because people who see themselves as "good guys" must tend to be worse at PVP.

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