Forum Interviews: An Audience with @zephyr1 🏹

How long have you been playing? :hourglass_flowing_sand:

I started playing on July 4, 2018.

I kept seeing E&P ads in other super-casual games I played at the time (mostly various match-3 games). I saw the ads over, and over, and over — for what I think was months.

I always thought the game looked kinda dumb in the ads.

Then I was bored over the US Independence Day holiday weekend, and downloaded it to try out of curiosity, thinking I’d delete it quickly. But I immediately loved that there were RPG elements amidst the match-3 dynamic, and got hooked quickly.

And here I am, almost 2 years later.

What’s your current role in your alliance? :bar_chart:

I’m technically the “Leader” of The Pirate Horde, with the corresponding in-game title, but I’ve always approached leadership in a collaborative fashion, so I don’t really think of that as being a particularly meaningful distinction.

And while I was a founding member of the alliance, I actually didn’t start as a Co-Leader originally even. I came over with several in-game friends from another alliance, at the end of September 2018.

We were soon joined by another small alliance, whose members are still with us as well.

In October 2018 at @Killian’s encouragement to our Leader, Solanar, I was promoted to Co-Leader.

Solanar eventually reduced his gameplay due to some huge real-life things, and handed me the Leader title one day when deciding to step away from the game further.

I sought to expand the leadership team after that, and we now have 6 other members on our leadership team (@anc1ent1, @Beckwak, @Lumpson, @ProfLoki, @SupremeAlienRaptor, and @voidstrike), and we all chat regularly to make decisions together, from day-to-day sorts of things (Titans, Wars, etc.), to alliance growth and policies, to resolving any concerns that come up.

That collective foundation is a lot of what led me to finally agree to expand to a sister alliance, The Pirate Rangers, which @SupremeAlienRaptor serves as the in-alliance Leader for, again with all of us collaborating on the overall direction and decisions as they come up.

That alliance was formed with some members from Horde, along with a merger and rename of @LordStanley94’s alliance, which was formerly Lord Stanley’s Rangers before becoming The Pirate Rangers.

Which hero are you currently levelling and how will you use them? :muscle:

Historically I’ve tried to work on a rainbow of heroes at once (or even a double rainbow, with 3* and 4/5*) — but as my Roster has expanded, and Emblems have decreased the value of maxed heroes, I’ve trended more toward just working on specific heroes lately, and off-color feeding.

At the moment I’m leveling Ratatoskr and Clarissa.

I plan to use Ratatoskr for blue Titans, and probably War and such.

I think Clarissa will make my default purple team for Raids, and get plenty of use in general.

Clarissa was the result of some recent ridiculous luck, and Ratatoskr was too, popping up from (purchased) Coins.

I’ve actually had a bit of Summon luck lately, having picked up the Valhalla, Springvale, and Wonderland 3* & 4* I wanted too from Coins/Tokens, as well as Kageburado from (purchased) Coins in the last Atlantis.

Definitely not a F2P victory, to be clear, but I’ve enjoyed some real luck the last few months.

Not going to stop me from posting Portal Appearance Rates analyses reminding everyone that the odds are horrible, though.

UPDATE: A day later, I’m actually done leveling Ratatoskr — and we coincidentally have a blue Titan, so I’ve gotten to try him out a couple times. I’m used to Gadeirus in that slot, so it’s taking some practice to decide on timing for firing him (especially since I don’t use Mana on Titans), but I like him so far.

Leveling actually goes pretty quickly when you’re not working on much, and have thousands of unclaimed feeders in your TCs, and Food is the only constraint.

Which is your favourite hero in your roster, and why? :heart:

This is actually a hard question for me, because I enjoy using a wide variety of heroes as much as possible, and I tend to think of heroes in “sets” of 2-5 that I use together a lot for synergies between them.

If I were picking based on usage, it would have to be Proteus or Rigard, though — for a long time when I Raided 3-2, they were the 2 on every team, and they’ve both seen almost every War since I got them.

And their duplicates have seen a fair amount of usage too — though Emblems are really reducing the usefulness of maxed but Unemblemed Heroes. .

If I went for most nostalgic, it would be Hawkmoon. She was my only 3*+ healer for the first 5 months I played, and helped get me through a lot. I still use her in Raid Tournaments, often now with her Costume too.

If I went for most copies leveled, Kiril actually wins.

What’s your favourite source for E&P play advice? :game_die:

The Forum, as well as chatting with alliance mates.

When I first started playing, I used the wiki @Coppersky started a lot.

I remember the first time I Googled for information about E&P (probably TC costs or something along those lines), I thought it was a little ridiculous that I was investing so much thought into a mobile game.

How times have changed…

The Forum is actually a lot of what solidified me into the game. I was a no-account lurker for a while, and then officially joined on October 1, 2018. I’ve been quite active ever since.

Do you have a particular memory of a great victory, a tragic defeat or a moment of madness? :exploding_head:


Our alliance mate, @Killian, was running late for a VERY close War, back on March 31, 2019.

I was honestly stressing out about it, because I didn’t want us to lose narrowly with unused flags left at the end — I always think that’s really bad for morale and everyone’s enjoyment.

And then at literally the last second, he popped on, hit “Find Target” to get a random matchup, threw together a team, and started his battle just before the War timer ran out.

As many people may know, War battles are counted so long as they start before the timer ends — so we painstakingly watched this after-buzzer battle on the War screen, and he came out with a one-shot.

Now what truly makes the story amazing is that we won by 1 single point — which was all the more impressive, because the target had been chosen at random.

It went from being an impending morale-buster to an amazing team victory that we still talk about over a year later.

Which Season 1 hero would you most recommend to a new player? :man_student:

Gunnar, for sure.

Particularly because I went 5 months without any 3*+ healers except Hawkmoon, his Spirit Link and defense buff were hugely helpful for survival against Titans, and in Quests/Events/World Map Stages.

He’s become even more useful given his Costume, and joining the Paladin Class — game elements which didn’t exist when I started playing. I’m actually using him in Costume for Grimforest now.

Kailani would be a good option too, though not having a Costume yet is unfortunate. I’m also just more partial to Gunnar because I didn’t get Kailani until far later on.

Amongst 4*, I agree with @DaveCozy, definitely Scarlett.

As I said a week ago elsewhere:

What can you see out of your window right now? :telescope:

Well I’ve managed to procrastinate long enough that it’s night, and fairly dark out.

So I can mostly see the window and street lights from the various buildings around us downtown — and can see that for once it’s not raining. It seems like we’ve had rain 75% of the days the last month or so.

I actually was thinking about the song No Rain when I went to write this the other day and it was raining, but it’s a totally clear night tonight.

What’s something you enjoy about being a forum moderator? :policeman:

I’ll share a few!

Collaborating with the Small Giant Staff and Other Moderators

This is actually a lot of what’s kept me playing the game — I really love the team I work with here.

And I find it particularly rewarding to help keep information flowing between players and Small Giant.


I was originally approached to join the moderator team in late January 2019 after making a regular habit of tagging moderators about existing threads in Ideas & Feature Requests that duplicated existing threads, and could be merged to consolidate votes and comments to get more attention from Small Giant.

I actually made a joke about that when I officially joined the team in February 2019:

I still enjoy the Forum organization portion of being a moderator, but over the last 15 months that’s evolved into a larger role of creating homes for information and discussion in anticipation of popular topics and to consolidate reference materials, which I’ve found rewarding, and like to think has helped make the Forum a more navigable and useful place.

@Guvnor has taken over some of those recurring threads for me after over a year doing them, including Raid Tournaments and Class Trials, while I’ve expanded to new game content, and a larger number of guide threads for recurring events, and returning heroes.

Beta Beat

I’m a little less excited about it lately, given all the vitriol about Telluria, but writing and posting Beta Beat has been a nice way to share information and try to make the Forum a more useful place.

People have sometimes asked how I got started with that, so I’ll share this explanation from a while ago when @Elpis asked me about it:

Collaborating with Content Creators

Something I’ve really enjoyed the last several months is an evolution to helping a lot of the content creators get information they need, and coordinate publishing materials for the community.

It sort of just came about naturally and mostly all at once — I work regularly now with @cap, @Novo, @Lumi, @ElThamer, @BarryWuzHere and others, and a lot of those relationships started around the same time this year.

If the rest of the moderator team were stranded on a desert island for a week, what roles would they take on to survive?

Based on Their Avatars/Forum Personas

:cat: Climbing trees to scout, hiding under fallen palm fronds, and toying with fish who venture too close to shore
:cow: Grazing for food, and periodically yelling zero for no apparent reason
:poop: Scouting the whole island, creating a full map and guide, and making recommendations for improving the island
:guitar:* Telling stories, making jokes, and entertaining everyone
:deciduous_tree: I am Groot
:bow_and_arrow: Everyone would expect me to hunt for food, but really I’d just run around slashing tall grass looking for Rupees

*(I gave up on better ideas for an emoji for @JonahTheBard )

Based on Having Gotten to Know Them

@Rook would thoughtfully look out for everyone’s mental health and well-being, and adopt us all as her pseudo-children

@littleKAF would make a joke about being an engineer who doesn’t know how to build things, and then promptly build us all a shelter, water catch, and irrigation system

@DaveCozy would make us all blankets out of woven tree materials, and tend to the fire every night

@JonahTheBard would establish a system of law, formulate routines for us, and come up with fun games to play

@Guvnor would energetically explore, and offer to help with anything anyone else was doing

If you could make two changes to the forum , one realistic and one less so, what would they be? :crystal_ball:


I’d expand the Forum Categories, based on feedback we’ve gotten from Forum members over the last year or so, so we could use them to better effect.

I’m actually hoping to see some progress on that soonish.

Less Realistic

I’d like to have monthly AMAs with members of the Small Giant Staff, and have the game designers do an interview about every game update.

This isn’t intrinsically unrealistic, it’s just a huge leap from where we are now — though I think we’ve done a good job as moderators getting answers to specific questions on behalf of players more and more often.

If I gave you $1000 to spend frivolously , what would you buy? :moneybag:

I’d send singing telegrams to @Garanwyn, @Kerridoc, and @Coppersky.

This may be less creepy than my last idea:

This is a really strange and challenging time for all of us across the whole player base and all our communities around the world. How has your alliance been supporting each other or those around them? :handshake:

Credit Where It’s Due

Well first off, I have to say I am so thankful for the rest of our leadership team, who all dedicate so much love and thought to keeping everyone in our alliances engaged, and feeling welcomed and at home.

@voidstrike is always so thoughtful of everyone’s feelings and intellectual understanding, and contributes wonderfully to our written explanations of decisions and policies in a way that’s clear and supportive for everyone.

@Beckwak is excellent at providing perspective and a bigger picture, and is so compassionate about all of our members.

@SupremeAlienRaptor is insightful and supportive, and a natural leader, whose dedication and commitment to his companions is unfailing.

@ProfLoki lives up to his name, injecting humor and fun into the alliance, and is also excellent at providing advice to alliance members (usually with a joke thrown in).

@Lumpson is diligent and supportive of alliance members, insightful in our decision making, and attentive to everyone’s needs.

@anc1ent1 is probably the most heart-felt person I’ve ever met in my life, and is so warm and supportive. He’s also our perennial bad-RNG stalwart, who can relate to everyone else’s frustrating experiences with his own.

Some Things We’ve Been Doing

There’s been a lot of supportive group chat in-game, in our Line groups, and in private messages between members.

We also started a “Social” Line group apart from our game strategy one, to further give a space for people to relate aside from the game.

I think the biggest thing has just been connecting in a personal, human way.

Most of our alliance members have been together for a long time — even our “new” members have been around for 4-6+ months, so a lot of people have opened up and shared what’s going on in their lives over time.

We’ve always been a fairly chatty alliance, and I think that’s been an outlet available to people when they want/need it.

Over the last 20+ months, we’ve collectively lived through and shared engagements and marriage, losses of loved ones, a birth, job losses and new ones found, daily stresses, busy work days, and a slew of day-to-day experiences.

It’s easy to say “this is just a game” — but the connection with alliance mates can be such a huge component of the experience, both in the communal efforts, and in the bonds it forms.

I think for a lot of players, that’s what keeps people coming back every day.