TSW’s Grand Master pack: still worth it?

This is the last week the Grand Master Pack (aka lifetime subscription) will be available for The Secret World. It’s also on sale right now for 150$/€.

Ironweakness, who started playing TSW just about three months ago, ponders whether the GM pack is still worth getting. He might not be the only one, so i thought i’d share my opinion.

Update

The Grandmaster Pack will be available until 02/09

The financial situation of Funcom seems to be stable for the time being. As Sylow puts it in the comments:

according to news from their Q4 report of 2015, all of their MMOs (Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World) are lucrative.

This, along with The Park being not a super-hit but still a good success, allowed them to restructure their loans. The companies survival thus is ensured till the start of 2019

Other Source: Massively Overpowered

Disclaimer

First things first- this is my personal opinion, obviously some or many people are going to disagree with what i write and they might have a point. It comes from someone who is a Grand Master since the game’s release as a subscription game but still hasn’t left Solomon Island for Egypt. So i have virtually no experience of endgame in TSW and really still am a Noob.

Eshaunia-2015-03-12-23-12-32

Furthermore, i’m going to assume that everything will remain as it is- that Funcom won’t be going into bankrupcy and The Secret World will remain buy-to-play. There have been mentions of TSW going free-to-play in the official forums (not by employees, mind you) and if that was the case, the whole evaluation would make no sense as monetization would probably change in ways we can’t foresee.

If you’re worried something bad might happen to the company or the game, don’t buy. Chances are that you won’t regret not-buying the pack, but if the game/company turns sour, you might regret buying it.

Things to consider

How long have you been playing (and paying)?

The new membership benefits seem nice, and they are, but they are aimed more towards characters still moving through the game. If you’re at “endgame”, finished all solo-/story-related content and don’t intend to level an alt (although i’d highly recommend it if your first character wasn’t with the Illuminati), the membership bonuses won’t do really much for you.

The closer you are to “finishing” the game, the more you already spent on subscription time and DLCs, the less value the GM pack will offer.

Value

The Secret World is a buy-to-play MMORPG. As such, it can be very cheap entertainment. Considering the track record of releasing about 3-4 DLCs per year of operation, you’d have to pay only 40$ to 60$ a year to get all the new content. If you already own all current DLCs, up to Issue 13, and don’t plan on subscribing and/or buying extras like DLC Collector’s Editions or Item Shop stuff, it would take you three years to get even with that 150$ investment into a GM pack.

Eshaunia-2015-09-24-21-22-12

Then, of course, there are the new membership bonuses:

  • A 30% increase to all Experience earned.  (This replaces the Time Accelerator)

  • A 50% boost to all Black Bullions gained.

  • 20% extra capacity for Black Bullions and Marks of the Pantheon.

  • 8-hour Mission Cooldowns.

  • 18-hour Raid Lockout Timers.

  • 2 Lockout Timer Resets every 30 days.  This item resets all active Cooldowns (Missions/Raids/Scenarios).

  • A 10% storewide discount for everything in the item shop (20% for Grand Masters).

  • 1200 Bonus Points every 30 days.

  • Free Anima Leaps!

Plus, Loyalty Stuff.

  • 30 days – unique sprint and faction-colored letterman’s jacket
  • 60 days – hoverboard and faction-colored panoptic core suit
  • 90 days – draug pet and a second Agartha conduit ability
  • 180 days – permanent portable bank portable and exclusive battle armor
  • 1 year – gold vespa (scooter) and steampunk weapon skins

If you really like what TSW has to offer, i think the side-mission packs aren’t part of the bought editions of the game. So there still is some content you’re missing, even if you own all the current DLCs. That should be factored into your decision, as well.

If you’re going for the minimalistic way of simply owning what you play, the subscription and the item store hold nothing of interest for you, already own the majority of the currently available content or approach the “end” of the game very quickly, the GM pack might not be the right thing to buy for you.

Your plans with TSW

The Secret World strikes me as a “play-to-finish” MMORPG- it’s very good at atmosphere and story, but if i would be playing it actively (and i will add it to my roster soon ™, as i’ve shown FF14 the door), there is no “endgame” that i find interesting in TSW. There are seasonal events and the dungeons- and the raid probably as well- are very nice experiences that don’t let you wade through a horde of trash mobs and waste your time. They’re quick story- and boss-heavy affairs, i just don’t see a point in doing them multiple times.

Eshaunia-2015-06-04-22-21-54

Still, even playing the game in this way, there would be several reasons for me to play TSW regularly. Content drops, the really nice and loyal community, roleplaying, secondary characters. I’d say TSW is one of the best and easiest games to get into community roleplaying that’s out there. You don’t need to create alternative characters in TSW as one character is able to do everything, but maybe you want to experience everything again, in a different way, try another set of weapons, or for roleplaying purposes? Or do the right thing and join the Illuminati?

If you plan on playing all current and future content Funcom delivers for TSW, consider playing more than one character for whatever reason and tend to subscribe when playing anyway, the GM pack is worth more than just a consideration.

What do you like?

I’ve owned the GM pack since release and haven’t even left Solomon Island- and i still feel as if i got my money’s worth. The reason is all that fluff i buy. See, Bonus Points that are granted via subscription/GM expire after 6 months, so they’re basically capped at 7200 bonus points. Even in times when i don’t play TSW, i check the item store on their homepage from time to time to see how many points i have and if i need to spend some of them. In this way, i’ve amassed virtual items in droves. Collector’s editions, clothing, outfits, “mounts”, consumables, sometimes AP injections, whatever. Some times, buying things made me log into the game again to see them in action.

Like that one!
Like that one!

So if it’s not just the basics you like, a subscription/GM pack might well be worth it, especially if you consider the stand-alone prizes to be somewhat too expensive, although Funcom’s quite fair on that front (20$ for six account-bound scooters isn’t really expensive in MMO land, but they’re still 20$ i wouldn’t spend).

Other considerations

I really like to not-worry about something. If i were to subscribe to a game, everytime i’d sit in front of the PC i’d think i would “have to” play that game i’m currently subscribed to. When i’m playing a game, i don’t like to think about whether or not i’d like to subscribe right now, buy some kind of content, weigh in on advantages and disadvantages of buying this or that. And, as mentioned above, i like fluff. I wouldn’t spend 5$ on a virtual dress, for instance, but i’ll happily spend my bonus points on it. I have also checked the auto-buy option in my account, so everytime new DLC gets released, it will get added to my account.

Grand Masters may also go into “point-debt”- you can spend all your points; new DLC will still get bought via the auto-buy option. Of course you’ll need to balance it out with future point allotments, but you’ll always get it. Furthermore, Grand Masters get a 20% discount in the item store.

This is what i like most about the GM pack i bought when the game released: TSW, for me, is a worry-free zone- the only thing left for me to decide is whether or not i’ll want to play it.

Of course, there’s a downside: if you subscribe in the normal way, what gives me stress about having to log in might result in some positive stress for you- and the GM pack might make you think that you don’t “need to” play TSW right now. As i’ve said, that’s an advantage for me, and the game is totally fine with you leaving and returning at another time, but buying the GM pack might actually result in you taking longer breaks from the game.

To buy or not to buy?

So, should you buy the GM pack before it isn’t available any longer on friday? You’re the only one who can decide. I feel there’s still a lot of value in it (if nothing surprising/bad happens), but it really depends on what you already own, your play-style in TSW, your preferences in spending money/obtaining fluff in game and, last but not least, on your financial situation. After all, 150$ is a considerable amount of money to spend on something like PC gaming and i only suggest spending it if there’s nothing more important you’d have to “sacrifice” for it.

And, something else to ask yourself: would you have been interested in the pack if they didn’t announce that they’re taking that option out? If not, don’t buy. The sale and the discontinuation of the GM pack are marketing instruments to get you to buy it now. If you’re undecided or still pondering, sleep over it, don’t decide until your next subscription is up for payment and/or thursday, whatever comes first.

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16 thoughts on “TSW’s Grand Master pack: still worth it?

  1. “The closer you are to “finishing” the game, the more you already spent on subscription time and DLCs, the less value the GM pack will offer.”

    Hmm, i tend to disagree. I am playing since launch. My skill-wheel is full since like half a year after launch. By now six of my talismans of my usual dungeon setup (leech healing) are at 10.9, along with my weapons. The last talisman is just catching up.

    Despite all of this, the bonuses to XP and Black Bullion will help me to keep progressing my gear and to get further ahead on the augments, which after several years of playing still are very far from completion.

    Mind you, they are not important for anything and their advantage is really small, but they make sure that you can keep progressing for a loooong time. The subscription bonuses just reduce this somewhat.

    On Roleplaying, it indeed happens a lot in this game. Not only do i experience a lot of it due to my girls activities (DJ at Radio Free Gaia), but you can even run into them by just walking through London. But the same can be said about dungeon activities, i find it rather easy to get into them even with random people. My dungeoning experience in TSW is much better than in it was in many other MMOs, where a painful mix of elitism and speedrunning attitude made it feel punishing and unwelcoming. Groups in TSW generally are more helpful, i guess the games community in total is just a bit more “grown up” than in some other games.

    That being said, i agree with almost everything else you wrote, except your statement on Illuminaty. Obviously the only proper choice is to have a Templar, they are the only ones not mistreating their members. 🙂
    [Mistreat demons instead… they can’t feel pain, anyway. 😀 ]

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I had no idea progression (even the horizontal part) went this far. On the other hand i think that if someone’s thinking about Talismans being 10.9 or whatever comes before, he or she is already so invested in the game that the question of buying or not buying the GM pack is an idle one- except, of course, the affordability.

      If you don’t mind my asking- what are you doing in game? I mean, to me, the most interesting parts in this game is in the “questing”/story content and my guess is you’ve finished all of that. Is there more to endgame than a few nightmare dungeons and a raid (is it still only one)? Disregarding all community-centered things, of course.

      Well…i can’t help myself. Huuuge KG fanboy here. Most know TSW because of its frightening atmosphere- for me the most iconic part are her debriefings and my laughter. Templars take themselves way too seriously 😉

      1. On what i do: hang out.

        Every Monday evening i spend in the Albion Theatre. My girl has her radio show (DJ or Radio Free Gaia) there. Those shows are one of many activities where the RPers gather. So as the game by now has three active radio stations, along with several freelance DJs, there’s plent of that going on.

        Then once a week i tour through lairs with some cabal members. We might be terrible slowpoker, but we haven’t collected the fragments for the raid yet, which you can only do after killing all regional bosses. Before the changes to the raid we didn’t bother, as it was like “grind for several months, then do the raid once”, which we considered not worth it. Now, with some changes in place, we decided to work towards it, but it takes time.

        Other activities include:
        – Beating scenarios with Cabal members.
        – Running dungeons with Cabal members or people from Noobmares.
        – Standing around in Kingsmouth, listening to the General Chat and Sanctuary to give help to new players.
        – Spending time in Tokyo to slowly upgrade the Aegis gear. I am not yet in shape for the nightmare versions of the Tokyo dungeons.
        – Doing some of the daily or weekly challenges.
        – Sometimes re-running some missions to see the cutscenes again. I guess it helps that i am forgetful. 😀

        And yes, some of the activities in the list could very much be considered to be grinding. The difference is, i don’t push myself to them for progress. I do that when i feel like doing those things, but never force myself when i am not in the mood. But doing some dungeons with friends and cabalmates, while at the same time chatting about whatever stuff, is not so much grind but more socializing and some dancing. 😀

        So yes, for a good time I am online, the game client is just a very fancy chat client, but I am fine with that.

        And on the factions: at least unlike all the others, the Templars give you the choice. The Dragon abducts and abuses you to press you into service. The Illuminati drug you up and graft implants to your spine to keep you in line. Either of them made me dislike the faction right after character creation. For the Templar, you were invited and turned up at your own initiative. The fact that survival rates without an organisation are low might have been a good incentive, but you were given the choice. 😀

        Of course there is all the “duty” and “end of the world” stuff, but basically that’s what you experience on every faction, the difference is “can we profit from it”, “can we gamble it (survival of mankind is a welcome bonus)” or “can we fix it”? It’s not so hard to tell which faction is which of the three, and for me the Templars feel like the best choice.

  2. This has a lot of really good points to consider, both in favor of purchasing the GM pack and against, depending on a lot of factors. Despite already having everything through Issue 13, there’s still a lot of “fluff” I’m interested in plus the upcoming issues that I think I’m of in to go ahead and buy the pack.

    As for the factions, I’m a fan of the Templar as well but I would like to play through some of the missions as the other factions to see the flavor text and get a better sense of who they are.

    A while ago I was explaining the differences to someone and used DnD terms, although It may not be perfectly accurate.

    Templar- Lawful good
    Illuminati- Neutral Evil
    Dragon- Chaotic Neutral (or maybe True Neutral)

    I think that sums up their world views pretty well. Both the Dragon and the Illuminati are interesting to me, but as a “main” I couldn’t imagine playing anything but Templar.

    1. Same, my main is a Templar. I have one of each faction, but have hardly played the other two. I don’t always agree with everything the Templars choose to do, but it’s the closest fit to my personality.

  3. I’m so behind on TSW stuff, I had no idea they were taking away the GM pack until I read this here. Thanks for keeping me in the loop!

    I picked up the GM pack shortly after the game launched, and never regretted the choice. Not only can I freely spend all the points I’ve accumulated over time on fluff, but I’ve never had to pay out of pocket for any of the new Issues released. And the free monthly cosmetics are usually amusing. I’m still poking around in Transylvania, but whenever I get the itch for TSW, I know it’s there to entertain me.

    Whether or not to pick the GM pack up now days? That’s a tough question. I think it all depends on how dedicated you are to the game, and whether you already sub to it. This is a good article with a lot of good points!

    1. A small sidenote on the item of the month: it won’t be here any more after the change. Instead we now get rewards based on how much subscription time is on your account. (The total of time you ever bought, not how much you currently have left. ) So, once you bought 3 months of time, you get the reward for 3 months. On the positive, as GMs have bought the game for it’s complete lifetime, we GMs also get the rewards as soon as they are implemented into the game.

      The rewards for the first year are already announced, they include several new clothing items, a new sprint animation, a permanent bank access console, a set of steampunk inspired weapon moulds and some more. (A mount and a pet, I think? )

      I am mostly looking forward for the weapon moulds. While steampunkish weapons already drop from the Old-Soviet-Bunker Dungeons in Transylvania, I don’t like their design too much. The preview of the new designs, though… very nice.

      1. There are three lines of thought here:

        1. People who bought GM usually were happy about the game beforehand. So the chance to grumpiness might be lower.

        2. People who gave up on TSW don’t bother much for TSW postings any more, so you won’t have them respond here.

        3. Hopefully it’s simply that GM owners in general are still happy with the game. 🙂

  4. I haven’t been in-game in over a month. The recent changes left me more than a little heart broken. Not to mention a whole lot of my friends have stopped playing for one reason or another.

    \**-maybe be ranting-
    I played beta but didn’t get the game until a few months after launch because of money problems. I was (am?) a pretty hardcore non-GM player. I played a LOT.
    (Fun fact: So far Dragon is the only faction with the story quest into the Asylum. The story quest stage for Temps and Lumies have been reused once or so in the game ;D Also.. we are the only faction where the.. hehe *spoilers*)

    I also used to frequent the DJ events. I am not a RP-er perse. The community is awesome. Go check the twitter-verse. Faction handlers as well as some of the other NPCs have accounts that maaaaay start tweeting about.. things. The devs are awesome too!
    -end rand- **\

    Now.. I a thinking about this GM. Thinking REALLY HARD I have most of the issues.The Tokyo ones I got from “Fall of Tokyo” promo pack. Also from player made lottery won bonus points + the random sale of points\subs. (Don’t buy issue 8.. My greatest regret.)
    I am afraid of the recent changes.. since the previous ones felt punishing to me. The only saving grace I can think of is new story, event and the community. The twitter-verse got me playing for another year and half lol (Hek the twitter-verse paid for half my dlcs and part of my pc upgrade *sobs*)

    TSW is my home… I know I’ll go back.. someday though. *goes back into to thinking really really hard*

    1. Just out of curiosity, which recent changes hurt you so bad?

      The fact that they added more “progress faster” tools? That you’ll get more XP and more BBs when being subscriber? Alas, the AP and SP boosters and similar stuff were in the item shop since the game went B2P, I wouldn’t really see the difference.

      Even the new signet booster is nothing different, just another flavour of the same. Just like you had and have to earn XP to get bonus XP and you have to earn BBs to get bonus BBs and you have to earn signets to get bonus signets.

      The only thing which is “out of line” are the talismans we got for buying The Park. Those indeed have an integrated signet effect which when they came out was very overpowered, and also now in the reduced state is significant. They clearly are in the same league as some other signets, which you can only get after having bought the later issues. (Does that mean that the game is “pay to win” since the game started selling issues? Even if that means that every MMMO out there, which is not dead but ever released an expansion is pay to win? )

      So yes, i understand that people consider the talismans of The Park to be borderline, or for their tastes being on the wrong side of the fence. But in my eyes TSW is no worse offender here than any other MMO out there, which sells expansions. Of course, my view might be “off” since i at some time took a look at some MMOs which are popular in asia, where it’s quite common to buy a “plus 100% damage dealt” and a “minus 50% damage taken” buff for an hour for real money, and no veteran player there ever goes to zones with open PvP without first spending real money on those buffs. (I never bought them, resulting in my getting beaten up and my stuff being taken away and ultimately in me leaving, but the games still years later are up and running and sending me e-mails about their latest expansions… )

      Compared to that, all of our western MMOs are really nice and comfortable, and i feel unable to point to any other than SWtoR, that they’d try to “cheat” you with the business model or that they go “pay to win”.

      After all this, i think i should point to another blog i read:

      https://wolfyseyes.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/personalities/

      It for me very well describes what currently happened in TSW.

      1. Naaah those boosters don’t bother me. I have some still have mine in my claim items.
        A couple of things that hurt me was the feeling I, as a older player, am being left out.
        I for one, am not vocal in the community. A couple of changes here and there, I can understand.
        I still feel good about how the devs answer in the forums.
        (That thread about the AS nerf with Tilty and Odonoptera’s response.)

        The WC talis gave me pause, but I did buy The Park for the costume hehe. It was actually a bunch of things.
        Issue 8 was probably the first but I thought, you can’t love all DLCs.
        Party bags but they gotta earn so I “mm yeah ok”
        I liked Aegis on mobs.. admittedly I was a tad bit happy that few people could run Kaidan when it was first out, but then I realized SO MANY PEOPLE would be missing out on the awesome stuff there. The nerf on the Aegis mobs was a welcome way to get people in there.
        Changing NM mobs. As a signet farmer.. that was annoying but can farm else where.
        Changing of currencies… now that is a big one. As a solo player, I stock up on the bbs for when I want to make a build. I had a handful of all currencies including PvP. I quickly went and bought all the stuff I needed to be under the cap but I still feel that the way they implemented it was wrong. (specially to older players)

        One of the things I LOVED about NM was ACTUALLY the lockouts. At least for me, it was a way of saying “Nice going, try again tomorrow!” or “Try this one too!”. The challenges annoyed me. True, I can ignore them, but the feeling of “do this, do that NOW”, has gotten to me somehow.
        I also had trouble later on with MF and MFB. Getting a group there is hard without mentioning my time diff too. Also full priced issue for a teenytiny of amount of story! (I bought all the side stories and I LOVE THEM!)

        aah as an Asian.. I know those games ahaha. 20usd for the utlimate weapon! True TSW is diff in leaps and bounds, but the way the game is being played is definitely changing. Thus, my being on the fence about GM pack. Will I go back? (I want to.. the story is still my first love.)

        I am also starting to think that I may have stayed in this game way to long.

      2. Oh. It’s interesting. Your issues are far out from what i usually read, but actually i understand several of them.

        On the Aegis nerf, it indeed did kill some peoples interest in the game, it needed to be reduced. On the currencies, i actually am glad they simplified it, the old system was allright once you learned it, but for the newer player it was a confusing mess. Considering how much other stuff you have to learn in this game, as it’s different to any other MMO out there, it was wise to reduce the clutter there.

        On the NM mobs and signet farming, i actually also don’t exactly know why they nerfed that. Probably it was since every new player ran into those places at some time, saw mobs which looked like all the other mobs in the zone but got stomped into the ground. It’s a frustration factor for new players and so they were cut out when the game was made friendlier to new players. (And truth to be told, i think the game should still give more info to a beginning player… ) But i agree, it would be good to have some areas like that again, just perhaps now in harder to reach locations on the map, where the new player doesn’t inevitably stumble in and get killed.

        On NMs and the lockouts, i think you are quite alone there. You’re the first one who ever mentioned that he loved them. But alas, tastes differ. 🙂 On the Manufactury on the other hand, their nightmare difficulty really is that. I mean, when the manufactory (first part) was released in elite difficulty, i did it with my cabal the very first evening. No guides, no clues (some of us looked for them when we struggled, but luckily they did not exist yet at all), we worked hard but managed to do it the very first night.

        When Manufactury Breached was released, we tried to do the same, but there the simple numbers game got us… our Aegis research was just not on top of what is required there. Since most of us hate grinding, we progress slowly and haven’t beaten it yet, despite it being out since a while. The very same is true for the nightmare version of both of them, MFB we never tried, MFA we did try, we can beat the first bosses but run into an enrage timer even with the whole team alive at one of the later bosses. Grinding up Aegis probably helps, but we’ll take our time.

        And last not least, on having stayed in the game for too long: that’s one of the things to always keep in mind with MMOs, you might be able to spend years there, but nothing lasts forever. On the other hand, by switching MMOs you often disconnect from people you enjoyed playing with. My personal solution is some diversity in my library, which means i not only spend time in TSW and GW2, but also sometimes spend a few hours in other games, e.g. Elite Dangerous. By spending less time in each of them, i of course progress slower and am less “pro”, but each of the games stays enjoyable for a much longer time.

      3. I have been playing others for now 🙂 Although I do pop in the twitter-verse a couple of times to mess with all friends. I did do MF Elite and NM soon after it came out (via-PuGs). MFB wasn’t as lucky. There was a patch while we were trying to figure out the dungeon and I wasn’t able to get back in game for a while.
        I may try to start a pug with some aegis to run into it if go back. I don’t remember my aegis level atm. I know it was enough. I was pretty diligent at maxing them back when i9 was released. (because I really loved Kaidan.. even with massive fps drops xD)

        The NM lockouts gave me a limit I guess. Instead of endless SH grinding, I’d do 24s-36s and that was it. Now, you know you can just grind until oblivion and feel bad when you don’t lol. (at least I do, so I stopped altogether).

        Odd about the NM mobs.. the ones in the airport stayed tho x) So many times I had to warn new guys about going in there following the marker to Ellis. I think if they had a clearer indication the mobs were NM mobs, things would be a lot safer.

        Oh and thanks for bringing up that 2019 thing 🙂 That is a good sign xD

  5. A small addendum on the stability of Funcom: according to news from their Q4 report of 2015, all of their MMOs (Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World) are lucrative. They also state that the total revenue of their MMOs decreased, due to their natural aging, but they actually managed to increase their profit.

    This, along with The Park being not a super-hit but still a good success, allowed them to restructure their loans. The companies survival thus is ensured till the start of 2019, which is not “forever”, but gives us enough time to play their games still. 🙂

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