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Bladewir's Bellowing Blog

I'm back! I usually blog about MMORPGs and my experiences with them here, as well as other topics at my other blog located at

Author: MMOPlaya

A Casual Players View of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Part 1

Posted by MMOPlaya Monday October 29 2007 at 11:19PM
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As stated in my first blog entry, I am a casual player.  I prefer to explore and wonder around the game world as opposed to racing to the end-game and having my character twinked out full-throttle to level 50. 

I have played Vanguard since I was accepted into late-stage beta and have stuck with it since mid-December of 2006, and currently subscribe to Vanguard (and the rest of the SOE games) via the Station Pass.  I currently play what I call my "main" which is a level 30 Adventurer (Ranger), level 5 Artificer, and Level 1 Diplomat.  For those unfamiliar with Vanguard and the 3 (yes 3) different levels I mentioned for my one character, read on...I'll explain in a bit.  Follow this link to see my character page on the Vanguard website.

By the very fact that it has taken me almost 11 months (since launch in late January of 2007), to reach the adventuring level of 30, should indicate that I am indeed a casual player of the game.  I take my time.  I have just under 2 gold to my name, and have just recently purchased my tier 2 horse (obtainable at level 20), I have no boat/ship, no house, and no other mount besides my trusty horse.  I can barely afford the 20 silver it costs to rent a flying mount to get me from point A to point B.  And I LOVE IT.

The reason I love it, is NOT the fact that I don't have a house or a ship, but the fact that they are in the game and obtainable through hard work.  They aren't just handed to you.  Most MMO's don't even offer housing or boats and the very fact that they are available makes me even more interested in getting one...just not at day 1.  I have seen far more of the game world either on foot or by horseback over the amount of time that I've spent than anyone with a boat or house.

And the Vanguard world (Telon) is BIG.  How about 3 full continents to explore, none of which are instanced with huge port cities, with every climate you can think of from desert to tropical, separated by huge bodies of water that you can sail between with the right kind of ship...that's right travel from one contenent to another via ship - now that's exploring!  Or if you rather can do that too with a flying mount (not currently in game as of this writing but in testing I believe).  Getting around the game world is just like getting around the real need to plan how to get there and take the time to do it!  This is really good if you are a casual player who also likes to roleplay.  Imagine starting up a caravan of friends in Thestra who need to travel to the far reaches of Qalia in order to begin a quest for "The Sword of a Thousand Truths"..and you map it out and traverse the contenent till you hit what? Guess we need a ship! You could try to hire a boat much like Obi-wan and Luke did when they hired Han Solo.  You get the idea.  This game is chock full of opportunities like this.  Now if only I could find people interested in doing something like this... 

Earlier I mentioned that my character has 3 levels (or Spheres) associated with her...Adventuring, Crafting, and Diplomacy (there is actually a 4th level, called Harvesting).  These 4 levels run independent of each other and it's actually like having 4 different characters all rolled into one.  You are not required to pursue any of them but they are available to you if you desire.  They are kind of like have a subclass, instead of having to roll a character for each "sphere" as they call them.  This is a dream come true for a casual player.

Here's the breakdown:

  1. Adventuring Sphere: Your primary "combat" school - or your class.  Mine is Ranger.  This is the typical MMO character model.  But Vanguard offers 3 more!
  2. Crafting Sphere: Your chosen "crafting" school, such as Blacksmith, Artificer, or Outfitter.  You pick one, but you are never stuck with can change it you just start from scratch each time.  For now I have picked Artificer.
  3. Diplomacy Sphere: Interested in politics? Interested in the real backstory of the town you are shopping in?  Want to move in?  Want to sway the local government to lower taxes?  The Diplomacy Sphere is your unique opportunity to don your best diplomatic garb and go talk to the townspeople (NPC's) and engage them in conversation by playing a type of card game, making sure your agenda somehow gets played into the equation.  If you are good enough, you may just win enough hands to move these invisible "levers" in your favor, swaying a benefit to you and to all who visit the town, by means of a special buff to either your adventuring, or crafting attributes.
  4. Harvesting Sphere: Although not really a sphere in and of itself, it is yet another ability you can gain to assist you either financially (by selling what you reap/sow) or to assist you in your crafting sphere.  Imagine grabbing a woodman's axe and chopping down a large tree so you can harvest the wood from it.  Your buddy can grab and axe as well and help out!

As you can see, there are TONS of opportunities in Vanguard for a casual player.  You really do have the sense of freedom to do what you want, when you want to.  A true sandbox type game, Vanguard is everything a MMO game, in this player's eyes, needs to have.


I run a message board dedicated to the MMO player, and offer a wide range of topics to discuss.  You can find it here. Feel free to come on by and check it out and if you like what you see, please feel free to sign up and post!

Have a great day.


Regnarski writes:

I have also played Vanguard and gave it up a couple months ago, the main reason is what you said "Now if only I could find people interested in doing something like this..."  The problem with Vanguard is that in order to keep advancing at some point you must group.  It is very hard to group when there is no one around.  This is where the "con" side of the Big World comes into play.  In order to get together as a group it would easily take 30 minutes just to gather and that is if everyone was serious about grouping.

IMHO, Vanguard is a great game (assuming you have a high end machine) with a lot of possibilities, you need to be very patient and understanding in order to really enjoy the game.  Maybe being a casual player is the way to go for Vanguard.

Tue Oct 30 2007 8:22AM Report
Baldur writes:

Nice writeup - I also am a casual player and I think that's the way to go when playing vanguard. The game can be hardcore, but playing it in a casual manner makes it very enjoyable.

Tue Oct 30 2007 8:37AM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

Thanks for reading. 

Regnarski - may I suggest you check the game out again, now that we are post server merger.  The server merger did wonders for finding people to group with - and they have generated new player LFG/LFM tools that help with this as well.  In addition, for those who don't like to travel a whole lot (or prefer to travel quickly) they have created a kind of express-way system. 

What I meant by my comment "now if only I could find people interested in doing something like this", was my hope to find some roleplayers who are willing to stick it out for the long run and actually execute something fun like this.

There are usually upwards of 20+ people in just about every popular chunk at any given time...of course this is based on my experience with the Serenden server where my chars reside. 

Best of luck to you!

Tue Oct 30 2007 10:41AM Report
Hexxeity writes:

I see a lot about what the game *could* be, given just the right set of circumstances -- a lot of "imagine if" and "you could try."  I have to wonder how often these things really happen, especially for casual players.  If you are in the game so infrequently that it's taken the better part of a year to get to 30, how will you ever be able to establish and maintain the kinds of relationships required to meet your roleplaying goals?

Tue Oct 30 2007 11:36AM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

Hello Hexxeity, thanks for reading and posting.

I guess my point was, that there is so much to do in the land of Telon, and to look at in the game, just taking it in as it were, that I have slowly progressed (hence why I am a casual MMO player and why this blog is dedicated to the casual playstyle).

However, to address your concerns, I may never encounter the ability to roleplay as I've dreamed up in my blog posting, which is fine.  It was merely a passing thought, and not my mantra.

Tue Oct 30 2007 12:18PM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

I almost completely forgot.....

Vanguard has in it's original plans a concept called at the time, a "Caravan".  A "caravan" is a set of players that agree to adventure together,  long-term, on a quest that requires severe travel.  What's great about it, is that we all know that getting together with the exact people every day at the exact same time is difficult in an MMO that spreads across several real-world countries.  Check it out and hopefully they are working on getting it into game.

Tue Oct 30 2007 12:59PM Report
ravenshroud writes:

I think there is one more feature to discuss: fellowships.

If you get more playtime than your freinds and constantly had to struggle with them keeping up, in Vanguard you can create a fellowship so that any experience earned by one is shared to all in the fellowship.  That a really good feature.

But most of the time when my friends can't play, I spend my time crafting or being a diplomat.  They are two totally different games in the same game world that have benefits on for my whole team and sometimes my whole realm.

Tue Oct 30 2007 1:31PM Report
lorechaser writes:

As another casual player, the idea of planning a trip and taking the time to do it seems anathema to me.  Why would I want to spend my time commuting to work in a game?  I don't understand why you feel that's a positive - can you explain more?

I'm also fairly burned out on the idea of harvesting everywhere I go - is it really enjoyable, or is it just another time sink?  I know you can probably craft nice items or sell the harvested materials, but I'm not really interested in that, unless it's fun in its own right, which seems unlikely.

To me, games that strip that out (CoH, DDO)  are the ones best suited for a casual, but I'm open to being convinced.  ;)


Tue Oct 30 2007 5:29PM Report
MMOPlaya writes:


It is the very fact that you can create epic roleplay scenarios such as this, is what makes it a positive in my eyes.

Remember I am sort of equating "casual" and "roleplay" together in my personal definition of  "casual MMO playstyle".  This is just how I percieve it.  Entering another world completely and making it my own.  I could play for 10 minutes or 10 hours in one sitting - casually.  The opposite of how I define "Casual MMO Playstyle" would be the hard-core innit-to-winnit, PVPer/PKer/Raider whose playstyle includes racing to the top in a competitive playstyle.  There is nothing wrong with this playstyle, it's just not how I play.

Ravenshroud -

Ahh yes, "Fellowships", recently changed to "Brotherhoods" I believe due to a possible conflict with Lord of the Rings Online type "Fellowship".  Good call.  Indeed, this is another wonderful tool that the devs of Vanguard have given us to help out our groups of friends who would like to continue playing together without out-levelling each other too fast.  As you know, you and your mates can only be within 6 total levels of each other or the lower ends don't get any XP.  This tool helps everyone maintain balance so that you can continue to group together.  This is really good for roleplay opportunities, and thanks for bringing it up.

Guys, thanks for your postings and for reading! I look forward to discussing more!

Tue Oct 30 2007 9:29PM Report writes:
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