Cauldrons – Joy!

cauldron

With many guilds hitting level 20 and in the next week or so reaching level 22, the new cauldrons are now more appealing and beneficial than ever. Several weeks ago I talked about how cauldrons were a total pain to organize at the time because of the varying differences in how many flasks you get out of it and how long they long, a consideration particular to alchemists. Now that guilds are approaching level 22, the benefits of Happy Hour and Chug-A-Lug Rank 2 means that combining flasks into a Cauldron of Battle provides a total return greater than 200% (>100% more flasks that last 100% longer)!

As a raiding guild, it is incredibly beneficial to organize flasks. Here’s my approach and recommendation.

Pulling Resources Together
Whether you are a 10m or a 25m guild, the principle is the same: pool flask resources together to combine into cauldrons. There are several different resources you can pull together from your members.

  • Gold: Used to buy herbs and volatile life to craft flasks or to buy flasks from the AH if cheaper than herbs/volatile life. NOTE: You should only buy flasks from the AH if your guild already has the desired cauldron recipe.
  • Flasks: Direct supply of flasks from members to create the cauldrons.
  • Materials (herbs and volatile life): Used to craft flasks.

In my experience so far, it is difficult to place an easily-trackable value to members contributing herbs. This is due to the AH market price of herbs changing dramatically and frequently on my server. Because of this, I only accept gold and flasks from members.

Tracking Contributions
The easiest way to track contributions is by using a Google Docs spreadsheet as it can be publicly shared with anyone in your guild (visibility is good auditing!). I have created a spreadsheet (keep reading for link to a template you can use) that is easy to use and uses coloring to aid in quickly seeing who has or has not contributed.

cauldron example1

It can be used a little more dynamically, as well, tracking more than just gold contributions.

cauldron example2

In the above example, you’ll see that Player A, I, and J contributed actual flasks, while Player F and G contributed 100g compared to everyone else contributing 175g. Player F and G are highlighted in yellow because they are alchemists. At guild level 22, alchemist flasks will last a full 4 hours so their usage of flasks will be less than non-alchemists. As such, they do not need to pay in as many resources.

I have created a template for your use that is simple and easy to use.

cauldron template

To use this template, simply do the following.

  • Create your own Google Docs spreadsheet
  • Copy the entire template into your own spreadsheet.
  • In cell B1, enter the date of the first week you are starting collections. For example, if you start collecting for the raid week starting at the weekly reset of 22 March 2011, simply enter “22 March” or “March 22″. The rest of the columns that initially says “#VALUE!” will auto-populate once you enter the start date in cell B1.
  • Update your player names in column 1. If a player is an alchemist, highlight their name in yellow (or any color of your choosing).
  • If you need more players, copy row 12 (“Weekly Total”) and paste it lower down on the spreadsheet (for example, row 30). You will then need to update the columns in each row to include the additional rows. For example, if placed on row 30, click on B30 and change it from “==SUM(B2:B11)” to “=SUM(B2:B30)”. You can then copy cell B30 and then paste onto C30, D30, E30, etc. Google Docs will automatically change the formula for the appropriate column.
  • If you need to add more weeks to the spreadsheet, simply copy the last column in the spreadsheet (without any values filled in!) by clicking the column letter at the top, and then paste in the next available column. All formulas will be updated to the new column letter.

If you have any questions or would like further instruction on using Google Doc spreadsheets, please do not hesitate to ask.

How Much to Collect
The amount of resources to collect depends heavily on your guild structure and your guild goals. To a fair degree, it is also dependent on whether or not you are going to subsidize anything. The basic variables to add up are as follows.

  • Number of raid days (D)
  • Length (hours) of each raid (H)
  • Average cost of flasks on your server’s AH (C)

Using the above variables, the following formula is a good place to start for how much to collect in gold. NOTE: This is in consideration of a guild at level 22 where flasks last 2 hours (and 4 hours for alchemists).

((Number of raid days) * (Length of each raid) * (Average AH cost of flasks)) / (2 – since cauldrons give you double return on flasks) / (2 – since cauldrons make flasks last twice as long)

Condensed using the variable letters noted above: (D*H*C) / 4

As an example, my guild raids 3 days a week for 4 hours and average cost of a flask is about 75g: (3 * 4 * 75) / 4 = 225g. This is a guideline as a place to start. There are two things to note here.

  • Using this formula, the amount of gold is LESS than what an individual would spend each week on flasks.
  • Using this formula, the amount of gold collected is MORE than what it will cost to make cauldrons.

Given the above, it will be up to you to decide how much you’re going to actually collect from members. As with all things in life, it is easier to start off charging people a higher amount and later lowering it than it is to start too low and later increase. Much like taxes. You should also consider how much your guild bank is making on a daily/weekly basis from cash flow and any BoE drops from your raids that you sell. If you have a large guild population overall from social members then your cash flow perk may be bringing in a fair amount of gold that can go a long way to reduce cost to members for cauldrons. You may however want to focus that income on guild bank repairs, though that is a different topic of discussion.

How to Collect
Unfortunately the guild bank money log is absolutely terrible and ineffective for tracking contributions, especially if you provide guild bank repairs. This means the only possible way to collect contributions that can be tracked is via in-game mail. The only downsides to this is that it introduces a single point of failure. Generally speaking, whomever is doing the collecting is the only one with access to the account. If that person goes on holiday, is sick, or is pulled away from the game for a couple of days/week, it can put everything behind. An alternate to this is a guild leadership account that only guild leadership has access to, though note that this is technically against Blizzard policy (more than 1 person having access to an account) and with multiple logins from multiple locations may flag the account by Blizzard and maybe even get it banned. Because of that, a single person is pretty much the only viable option until Blizzard improves the money log for the guild bank. I suggest creating a bank character for the sole purpose of this (have guildies escort or summon the character to the nearest city) so that the mailbox is focused on the single task. Log in, open the mailbox, open your tracking spreadsheet, and track away!

(If anyone from Blizzard is reading this, please make guild bank money logs 1) much longer based on time, at least 2 weeks but preferably 1 month, 2) separate logs for a) gold deposits, b) gold withdrawals, and c) repairs, 3) configurable viewing options like changing font size and adding columns for date/amount/person, and 4) search/sort options like columns for date, amount, and person, and filtering data in/out.)

Final Thoughts and Considerations
Cauldrons initially felt like a chore. They have now shown their incredible worth because of their more than 200% return, making them a necessity. Here are some further considerations and reminders.

  • Don’t buy flasks from the AH until you have the cauldron recipe your guild needs (1,000 flasks for 10m guilds and 3,000 flasks for 25m guilds). Reaching 3,000 flasks is difficult and there is no way to cheese it. Until your guild is organizing cauldrons, encourage members to not buy flasks from the AH but instead to buy herbs and have guild alchemists create them. In addition, make sure an Elixir Master is making the flasks as procs count toward the achievement.
  • Once organizing cauldrons, use the gold to buy whichever is cheaper: herbs/volatile life or already-made flasks from the AH. Take 15 minutes each week before buying to compare prices and make the decision accordingly.
  • Remember to start off collecting the larger amount of gold/flasks from members. It is always better to reduce what you collect than to have to increase it later.
  • Remember that Alchemists should not be charged as much as non-alchemists. Their cauldron flasks will last 4 hours, twice as long as non-alchemists.
  • If a guild member has a problem with contributing what is being asked of them, use data and facts to show them the benefit. The cost to them is significantly less. Using the formula noted above, they are only having to pay for 1 raid day worth of using normal flasks. Data does not lie and it clearly proves it is of massive savings to them. This goes for alchemists, as well. If the discussion escalates into an argument, remember to stick to data, data, data, facts, facts, facts. Emotion can be argued. Facts cannot. If someone is a complete idiot and still refuses to contribute then I’d ensure that they are 1) not using cauldrons and 2) bringing their own flasks. If they are still trying to use a cauldron, I’d resort to name-and-shame: let everyone know that so-and-so refuses to contribute but still tries to use cauldrons. They problem will then sort itself out: peer pressure will take over and they contribute or they might leave the guild, which may seem bad but at the end of the day do you really want to deal with someone who isn’t a team player and makes your life as a guild leader more difficult? I don’t.
  • When using cauldrons in a raid, save time and don’t drop it until after you’ve cleared trash. In other words, wait until you’re at the first boss. This also ensures that those who are starting off the raid for the night get their flasks (as opposed to someone who might be rotated or sitting out to start ‘accidentally’ taking a flask).
  • Remind people to not click the cauldron again once they have drank their flask. Unless, of course, you instruct them otherwise.
  • If you rotate people in/out of your raid, have a couple of flasks on hand to give them. While it is sometimes okay to drop a cauldron such that everyone can just grab one to use later, you can only do this once. Having a couple of flasks on hand for people you swap in is both effective and fair since they are contributing their fair as is.
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5 Responses to Cauldrons – Joy!

  1. Fayre says:

    If you’re running flasks for the full duration of your 25m raids (i.e. using more than one flask a night), look very carefully at the materials cost of the 10 man vs the 25 man cauldron. Using 5 cauldrons as opposed to 2 ‘big’ cauldrons is often cheaper – the difference is 40x Stormvine vs. 4 flasks.

    • Lument says:

      Great consideration. Thankfully at guild level 22 the cauldron flasks will last for 2 hours, which ties in well with how long most guilds raid for (4 hours).

  2. Chatmay says:

    I wish I had seen this before we got the 10 man cauldron. I feel like some guildies did the majority of the work, while others did nothing for it. This really has some accountability, just not sure if most guilds have someone with enough time to make sure it is followed through.
    Chatmay recently posted..Getting the Lich King Mounts As Guild EventsMy ComLuv Profile

    • Lument says:

      The time required to collect gold from mailbox and update the spreadsheet is minimal, only taking a couple of minutes whenever you first log on. At an absolute maximum it will take 1 minute per person per week on your raid roster for this task. The accountability is indeed the best part–link the spreadsheet on your forums and anyone can view it (don’t allow edits, of course hehe). The time required to hold people accountable could add up a little but isn’t likely to be a huge issue because of the benefits. For people who consistently “forget”, give them the benefit of the doubt and just open trade at the start of raid for them to trade you the gold (just be sure to update the spreadsheet and deposit the gold into your guild bank–mobile banking ftw!).

  3. Andrew says:

    I found the easiest way to do things was simply to require everyone who attended each raid to pony up 1 flask at the start. That then gave enough flasks to make 2 cauldrons which covered the whole 10 man run.

    Healers were exempt if they were using their own Spirit flask.

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