Come sit by the fire as August’s spotlit Dragon Lord, Tinsir, tells you a tale or two! Tinsir is a passionate member of the Dragons community, participating in the Gameplay Faction and leading his own Sapphire Team. He’ll always make time for his pet bunny, Mimsy, between Atlas runs!
This month’s Dragon Lord was chosen for a spotlight thanks to nominations from the following players:
These players showcased the depth of Tinsir’s gaming knowledge and skills in team management, among many other traits. Do you know a Dragon Lord that you believe is worthy of sharing the spotlight? Submit your nominations through the spotlight form here:
Dragon Lord Spotlight: Tinsir
What is your current level, team, and league?
I’m level 402, I lead ANGELSnDEM0NS, and we’re in Sapphire 3.
When did you start playing War Dragons?
How did you discover War Dragons?
My girlfriend and I were playing a phone version of Hangman. She got annoyed that I kept winning, so she clicked a lot of ads to get extra power ups (I still kept winning.) She noted she could get even more power ups by downloading some dragon game, and she stuck with it, and then started talking to me about it. I wasn’t so keen on mobile games at the time but wanted to be useful, so I ended up reading a ton of guides. One month later, she’d made officer, and for my part, I wanted to become her little helper. Soon I was an alarmingly well-informed level 1 with a pretty boss Draco.
Over the next three months, we attempted to turn our team, WolfKingdon (spelled incorrectly), into a mighty fighting force, leading it from Silver II to the lofty heights of Gold V. We were up against some long odds. The kingdon’s leader (the queem, if you will) was a Singaporean woman with limited English proficiency who logged in once every 9 days during the middle of the US night so that she didn’t lose control of the team. She did the same with her other account, which led another team, also with a misspelled name. The officer who wasn’t half of my relationship was a really nice grandfather. He gave completely awesome advice, like how Kinnara will become like your queen, and Arborius is like your king, and Habrok is your knight. This seemed like a chess-like metaphor for the game composed by an elder warrior-poet with a keen mind, until we asked around and determined that he was wrong about most of it. There were some head-scratching moments all around; 40 minutes into a discussion about how to fix her base, one of our teammates asked: “Hey, sorry, I got confused. Which island is my ‘middle long island’?” (I may have answered, “oh, that’s the one that’s short and at the end.”)
It’s been over a year since then, and I’ve learned a lot. But running that crazy team together, the two of us against the world, is still the most challenging and meaningful stretch of my time in the game.
How did you decide on your In-Game Name? What’s the backstory behind it?
My girlfriend and I have a pet bunny who, to be completely objective, is the best creature in the history of the world, as well as the history of some other worlds, such as Narnia. Her name’s Mimsy, and we like telling stories about her. Once, I told her mom a mythological story about the Norse Ur-Rabbit, Mimsir, who the gods created out of hay and high self-esteem.
We decided that it’d be nice if one day Mimsy had a husbun, who would be a dapper grey-coated gent we’d name Tinsel. Any worthy suitor will have to be as strong as Fenrir, as effective in protecting her as Mjolnir, and as unwavering as an oath sworn on Gungnir. Hence, Tinsir, a ferocious little guy.
Out of all the various things to do in the game, such as collecting dragons, building up a powerful base, forming powerful guilds, ect., what is your favorite aspect and why?
I think I’m nigh-on acceptable at most elements of the game, but there are two I’m actually good at and enjoy, those being communication and strategy.
One of my teammates made some comment about how Tinsir can change someone’s position from mortal enemy who vows to attack you every day from now to eternity, to someone who sends fan mail, over the course of 2-3 messages. This would’ve struck me as gross exaggeration if it hadn’t happened twice in the past two weeks. I’m pretty good at cognitive empathy and figuring out what people actually want, which is fun and tricky, particularly with the diverse group of people who play this game. 90% of the time, someone who seems to want to fight actually just wants to feel respected. For the other 10%, there’s what Carl von Clausewitz referred to as the continuation of politics by other means, which brings me to the other thing I’m good at. When we have to fight, I’ve got a knack for figuring out what our victory conditions are and what the paths to them look like.
The interaction between the strategy and communication layers is often tricky and poses some cool problems: You’ve got a nice maneuver that you’d like to execute, but you don’t have a lot of time to go over it with the team; do you try to quickly instruct them, or are you better off not trying to micromanage? Once the fight has started, is your time best spent coordinating with teammates or allies, or personally taking out priority targets? When you’ve reviewed your carefully crafted battle plan with your team and, right before it’s time to put it into motion, somebody asks team chat for three XP runs, what is the polite amount of time to wait before kicking them from the team? (The answers are that it depends, it depends, and ten seconds.)
You’re a part of the Gameplay Faction, which gets a chance to playtest content ahead of release and provide feedback to PG. What has that process been like, and what is your favorite part of that process?
It’s been one of the most compelling parts of my experience in the game. That whole group is a good bunch of people. I was a level 137 officer in Platinum 4 when I got selected, which is a pretty different position than a Diamond leader’s, but we all genuinely care about making the game better. There’s surprisingly little disagreement between players; when there is debate, it’s of this semi-mythical sort in which everyone listens to each other’s perspective and tries to think about not just themselves but all affected. I like the sort of discussions we can have because of that, wherein we start with a flawed idea that only helps some, and turn it into a better idea that helps everyone.
You’re also a member of Earlybirds, the Atlas advisory group. What’s that been like?
Earlybirds is a much more informal group. I generally find the challenges in improving Atlas to be trickier than the base game; very few changes are good in isolation, and there are definite winners and losers with every change to the mechanics. So, recommendations tend to involve a more abstract sense of what makes for good gameplay.
You’ve had quite the history in War Dragons leading and raising a time from Gold to Sapphire! What was that journey like?
Bumpy! Let’s see. Long, long ago, in 2018, there was a team called FieldOfReeds. I was an officer on this team, and after a while, every PVP victory saw half the team yelling “Hail, Tinsir!” in team chat. It was kind of cool! The leader asked me if I wanted to be promoted, and I said I didn’t, so she took a planned two-week vacation and made another officer leader. That officer immediately nope-d out and foisted that gig onto a dumber person. (Hi.) At some point during the third month of the two-week break, I realized I was stuck with it.
One mutiny later, we were looking for a merge; after much searching, ANGELSnDEM0NS found us. We were offered a bunch of cool new members and a small Atlas kingdom: an obvious trap! Or an actual good offer! Cut the chatter, Red Two! Never tell me the odds! Against all probability, things went exactly as we planned, no one screwed anyone, and everything generally got better.
Then, consistent with our new name, we had another mutiny, and a third of the team left. There may have been accusations of witchcraft. It was our darkest hour, but it also paved the way to our growth over the coming months, since it forced us to make some hard decisions about how we filled the slots. We made some smart bets on smaller players who seemed promising and collected some bright sparks that fell our way. In time, we hit that critical mass wherein quality recruits actually started coming to us. Or, enough of us were recruiting that it felt that way. It still wasn’t a straight climb upward, and there was a point halfway through when things looked grim, but we stuck it out and have been growing steadily for months.
What’s the process look like for recruiting players to your team?
Depends which of us is recruiting you! MurderBNumbers uses an advanced recruiting strategy pioneered by first graders, wherein he attacks your base if he likes you, kind of like pulling on pigtails. I put so many words together that it forms a Verbosity Black Hole and pulls people into my gravity. Most of our officers use more baroque techniques, such as sending an email.
We do have an interview process, so be ready to tell us what your biggest weakness is! (Is it being hit with an ice flak? It’s usually being hit with an ice flak.) We generally try to talk with a person to determine if they’re Lawful Good, like us!
What kind of personalities do you have on your team? How do you unify so many dynamic players under one leadership?
It’s mostly absurdist trolls who sincerely try to be helpful, grumpy people with good hearts, and a lot of players who are just really solid and nice.
Most of the time, we all get along. There are occasional natural clashes between strong personalities. In those cases, I try to help the belligerents see the other’s good nature; it helps that I honestly believe they have one.
For other aspiring leaders in the War Dragons world, what are some tips you can offer to maintaining and growing a successful team?
People are not your “most valuable resource.” They are your only resource. Keep your people happy.
Be honest about what you want to do and realistic about how far it will take you.
Be kind. Everyone else’s flaws will always be more obvious to you than your own.
Pursuant to the above, when dealing with the joys of Atlas mega-alliances, limit your facepalms to the 60 facepalm per second rate; any more than that, and the human eye can’t detect it.
Adriel and Adriak; a depiction of Angels and Demons
You’re well known for your comical approach to spinning stories and tales all throughout the game. Can you share a tale from the Dragon’s Den?
Come, my friend, and I shall tell you the Legend of Tinhalla.
For a variety of reasons, entry point tier 4 castles in Atlas are rather difficult to hang on to. I was once offered one by a top 10 team; they felt that defending it was kind of hard. I declined, but it got me thinking: we should dress for the rank we want, not for the rank we have. Thus was born a team dream: to take and then give away a tier 4, like the cool kids do. We’d make friends over it. “Given away any tier 4s lately?”, I’d ask Diamond leaders, while peering at them through my monocle. “The peasants DO so love a tier 4.” “Yeah,” they’d answer. “Also, why are you holding up your fingers to your eye in a little ring? Is that . . . supposed to be a budget monocle?” It’d be great.
As it happened, another Platinum team in a different time zone had hatched a similar dream that same week, except they wanted to take a tier 4 and hold it for all time. I thought they could maybe hold it for a few days, so I suggested we check in on them that weekend. Sure enough, when we remembered to look, the final 50,000 of their prior 700,000 troops were making a last stand. “Is it time to STRIKE?” my team asked me. I observed that clearing even the last 50,000 felt like effort, but if we were patient, the spirit of Atlas was likely to help us out. So I took a 30-minute nap, and sure enough, when I woke up, they were down to 6000 troops. I sent over one guy and he conquered it, then renamed it “Tinhalla,” because that seemed appropriately stupid.
Now, conquering the castle triggers a notification, and I think it woke up the original occupants. Apparently, they did not recognize the triumph of our nap-based combat doctrine as evidence of our God-given right to rule, because they sent an assault squad to take it back. We were all shocked at this act of unprovoked aggression against a peaceful nation that had never hurt anyone. But at that point we’d built a fort and installed our sole L500+ player as grand marshal of Tinhalla, and they just weren’t getting the castle back. Over the next hour, while we were waiting to see if anyone we knew wanted it, the Knights of Tinhalla bravely fought off countless barbarians who contested our manifest destiny to own and then give away a tier 4. We’d actually been practicing our anti-sniper defenses; you could ask the attackers how that went, but none of them could tell you, because they’re all dead.
At some point, the owner of the tier 4 to the East, a mighty Sapphire lord, sent me an email saluting me as a fellow tier 4-owning aristocrat and proposing a peace treaty. I nodded wisely, stroked my beard, and said that he was the emperor of the sunrise, as I was the emperor of the sunset, and that there would be peace and amity between our peoples throughout the generations. Diplomatic recognition: secured!
In the end, we defeated all comers, and forged a mighty empire that lasted over 200 minutes. We did succeed in ensuring that Tinhalla was never taken from us (by giving it away); the new owners kept the name, so that our legacy would live on through the ages. Unfortunately, the end of the next age came about six hours later; they’d annoyed a top 5 team on that particular day, so their reign was short-lived. But legends live forever!
What are some of your proudest moments in War Dragons?
There are two that really stand out, for very different reasons.
The first was one week several months ago, when my scrappy little team (then at the edge of Platinum 2) got invaded by not one, not two, but three of the global top 15 alliances, and since they weren’t sure whether that was lopsided enough, they brought in some backup from even higher up….and another top 25 alliance showed up, just for fun.
For those not familiar with how Atlas battles work, this was like 7000 Greeks vs. 200,000 Persians at the battle of Thermopylae, except less fair; for those not familiar with history, it was kind of like the battle of Helm’s Deep, if the orcs were twenty feet tall, and there were more of them, and they had machine guns. We’d been up against overwhelming odds often, but here we had the feeling we were facing a final boss.
So, we prepared as best we could; my team knows no fear, but we can calculate odds. We called up our allies, but they weren’t too much bigger than we were. We made a plan. I figured out the attack pattern early on and devised a counter, and my team had to learn the new tactics as we were fighting. We figured out when they were likeliest to attack. Then they came at us in twelve different waves, hitting four different targets with millions of troops.
They weren’t dumb, either; they used a variety of nice stratagems of their own, the coolest being a feint against one of our border castles as a diversion before their main force’s assault on our capital, across the map.
Against odds like these, there’s no shame in defeat. Good teams might have fought and folded. Very well-built teams could have made a heroic last stand.
But we aren’t a well-built team. We’re a completely insane one.
The battle went on for three days, and detailing all its twists and turns would run on even longer than I already have; it deserves a writeup of its own. To spoil the ending, after bringing in waves of tiny heroes with confounding traps, mighty fortresses manned by stalwart defenses, ninjas snicker-snacking away with their silver swords, and finally, teleporting time lords before whom all must crumble, the veterans of our most decisive victory to date piled a million skulls in the center of the most blasted, devastated crater. We call the new monument Serenity, because it is very quiet there.
The whole team really came together; they fought like demons, and our enemies died like sinners. I made a list of people I’d noticed doing particularly impressive things, left out the officers, and still ended up writing public commendations for half the team.
The other, prouder moment was about two months after I’d started playing. My girlfriend and I had planned this enormous Fortification event for us at the time—she was going to farm and then spend the unprecedented-to-us amount of 7.2m lumber and maybe hit level 60, like a true titan of the game. She’d been the one carrying us since I started, and she was the most capable attacker on our team, so this was a big deal.
The two little bunnies spent most of that Sunday farming lumber, slowly and steadily, like that tortoise that beat them in that footrace so long ago. But the night was getting late, and she was getting tired, and it looked like she’d fall just short of having enough speedups to hit her goal. She said it was okay, but I could tell she was sad about it; it’d been a rough week for her. The game is just a game, but when you’re feeling down, it can seem like it’s telling you there’s one more thing that’s out of reach.
To give you some idea of why this was sad, she’d been carrying us–both our team, and me personally–in a huge way. She’d helped me grow from level 1 onward; she’d generally been running the team and brought in or trained our best people. She stood up to LC trolls and sandbaggers and made me as proud in-game as she does outside it. She was generally the toughest and most ferocious teammate I’ve had, more than anyone could ask for. This was my chance to try to help her back, and I didn’t want to fail.
So I told her to sleep for a bit, and actually took my two alts—both of which I’d set up with her as the referrer—and slowly built them to level 30, so that she’d get her referral rewards and the speedups that came with them. It put her just over the top. The two little bunnies built a tower so tall, they could hop among the stars.
The game is still just a game, but sometimes it can make someone you love believe in themself.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer to newer War Dragons players?
I could tell you to read guides and forums (and you should; this game’s community has a lot of very bright, articulate people in it, and they’ve contributed a really helpful trove of information).
But that’s the advice everyone gives. So, while you’re reading things, this essay by David Foster Wallace is pretty good. The relevance is that this game, like life, has a lot of situations that could frustrate you, if you let them. Those same situations that come across as grindy or unfair can, if you look closely, become not only meaningful, but absurdist treasure troves or the stuff of heroic sagas.
When you’re not playing War Dragons, what do you like to do in your free time?
Between the girlfriend, the bunny, and work, I keep pretty busy, but I do like cooking and writing.
If you could soar through the sky on the back of a single War Dragon, which one would it be and why?
It’d have to be a toss-up between Hauheset, because she’s got the most tricks, and Chunk, because he’s got the biggest nose.
If people want to connect with you, what is the best way for them to do so?
The best way is probably to fully load up a silver primarch and bring that bad boy to one of my team’s castles in Atlas. We’ll be connected for the rest of its life. You can also send me a message on the forums!
Lastly…if you could only have your Dragons use ONE spell from now on, which one would it be and why?
While herding my alts around, I discovered an effective attack plan wherein I lead with Hauheset, with Hauheset for backup and Hauheset for reserves. It works pretty well, because the base is easier to defeat after the defender dies of old age.
Simulating this effect with just one spell is tricky, but I think I’d go with giving all my Dragons four instances of Alter Fate, each with its own cooldown and return position. It might require some extra work from the devs, because I don’t think the game code currently detects when a defender has thrown their phone across the room, and that should probably be worth bonus points.
Our Dragon Lord Spotlights feature a stand out player in War Dragons to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions to our community. If you would like to nominate a fellow player for this honor, please let us know by filling out our DLS Player Nomination Form and briefly tell us why you think they would be great to feature!
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