Community Spotlight - Thor von Blitz

A Sea of Thieves community veteran enters the Spotlight this week - say hello to Thor von Blitz!

The Sea of Thieves community has been growing steadily since we first announced the game way back in June 2015. A lot has happened in that time, and we’ve reached a point where you might consider some faces ‘veterans’ of the community.

One such face is that of Thorben, who many in the community will know as Thor von Blitz. Since the early days of the Forums and Technical Alpha, he’s been at the forefront of positive discussion and community collaboration, supporting his peers in all manner of ways. In this latest Community Spotlight, we catch up with Thor to find out more about what it is that’s kept him so involved and supportive, as well as his hopes for the future!

[Q]: Were you a Rare fan before Sea of Thieves? Do you have any favourite Rare games?

[A]: Yes! I might not have known all the time that Rare was behind certain games, that understanding came later, but Rare games were always present when I was growing up. I vaguely remember watching my older sister play the Donkey Kong Country series on her SNES and later played lots of rounds of GoldenEye over at my friend’s house.

When I got my own N64 I raced my sister in Diddy Kong Racing and had the greatest adventures in Banjo-Kazooie. Throughout the next console generations, from the GameCube to the Xbox 360, Rare was always there to provide me with a good time!

Aside from Sea of Thieves, I always love to come back to Banjo-Kazooie. The music, the levels and character design are just brilliant – it never disappoints and holds up very well to this day. A true classic!

Thor has been at plenty of events over the years - can you spot him?

[Q]: What other games are you currently playing? Any favourites?

[A]: That would be Deep Rock Galactic. It’s a silly cooperative first-person shooter in which you play sci-fi-esque Dwarves mining for minerals on a hostile planet – how rad is that? Just like Sea of Thieves it’s a real treat with friends, but also very enjoyable with random players you meet along the way. Oh, and it is cross play!

[Q]: You’ve been with the Sea of Thieves community for a long time – what brought you here originally, and have you been this involved with other gaming communities before?

[A]: Sea of Thieves piqued my interest when the very first trailer for it dropped at E3 2015 – the trailer was oozing with a sense of adventure and co-operation I didn’t know I was longing for, so I kept it on my radar.

When the time came to sign up for the Technical Alpha, late 2016 or so, I did just that and shortly afterwards joined the Forums. At that time the Forums were still in their youth, but had already established a very lovely and welcoming community thanks to the likes of KattTruewalker, lizalaroo and IOnEI Falcon, just to name a few, and many more people that are now known as Deckhands, Old Salts, Boatswains or just long-lasting Forum members. It invited lots of civil discussions and laughter.

I’ve never been this involved with other gaming communities before, no. This one holds a special place in my heart.

[Q]: Following on from that, how has community defined your overall experience with Sea of Thieves?

[A]: It’s enriched it. Through the community I’ve found many people to share not only loot and adventure, but also laughter and friendship. What more could one ask for?

[Q]: There seem to be a lot of people who know you, and you were given the title of Boatswain for your positivity in promoting players within the community. How does all of this make you feel?

[A]: Honoured! I think there is a lot to be said for being civil towards other people, be it other community members or Rare staff, even when you don’t necessarily agree with them.

I try to live by that, and if that got me my Boatswain badge then it shows me that Rare shares and acknowledges the same values which might lead other people to do the same.

The pirates of the Fortune Union!

[Q]: Of course, you’ve ended up attending various events and meeting many of your fellow pirates over the years. Any particularly memorable moments?

[A]: Nothing beats meeting your fellow pirates in the flesh! What always sticks with me is that no matter what event or convention I went to, it always felt like a big family get-together. No matter who you meet, you immediately have a shared interest that you can talk about. A real ice-breaker.

My favourite moments are the “Aha!” moments when you meet a person that you only know by their online handle for the first time and you get to put a face to the name. Oh, and the hugs. So many hugs!

A moment that stands out in particular though was when Entinome, noeyedtom, DrBullhammer of the Fortune Union and GefahrMcGefahr from the Rogue Legends and I handed over a box of pirate flags (designed in co-operation with the amazing @busy_el on twitter) that represented a couple of Fortune’s members to the devs present at Gamescom 2019. I hope it’s still somewhere in the studio!

It’s always nice to gift something back to the people responsible for bringing us together.

[Q]: Thinking in-game specifically, are there any standout moments for you in Sea of Thieves since you started playing?

[A]: There are plenty, but I’m quite fond of the time SirioNDB and I tricked a Galleon into sinking a Sloop that we stole from using the amazing ‘Shouthole’ (that’s a speaking trumpet to you landlubbers)!

It was shortly after The Hungering Deep released when Sirio and I were just minding our own business sailing our Sloop around randomly – we spotted another Sloop on the horizon and decided to sail over and say “hello”, which is really code for “let’s see if they have loot”. Then another Sloop came out of nowhere and started to pick a fight with Sloop number one. We decided to wait and watch before making our move.

Sloop number two made quick work of Sloop number one and sank it, lingered for a bit to pick up loot and then decided to sail to the nearby Wanderer’s Refuge. That’s when we decided to follow it. Upon arrival we innocently asked if the owner of Sloop number two was alright after the fight, but he didn’t pay us much attention and headed inland to continue with his Voyage, leaving all his loot unattended for us to grab. So we did just that and sailed off.

The owner of Sloop number two was not too happy and started to give chase. Sirio was ready to board it when we spotted a Galleon near Mermaid’s Hideaway and I had a different idea. Again, The Hungering Deep had just released so we had a new tool at our disposal: the Shouthole.

We sailed close to the Galleon with Sloop number two still in pursuit and started pleading for help using our Shoutholes. “Help! Help! That mean Sloop is following us and trying to rob our loot, please help us!”, we lied. It worked, the Galleon opened fire on Sloop number two instead. At some point during the battle, Sirio decided to board the Galleon and check for more loot.

As Sloop number two sank and the Galleon crew celebrated, and I will never forget this, I saw Sirio run out of the Captain’s quarters with a chest in hand, jump off the balcony and return to our Sloop. The whole situation was so comical. We were both laughing so hard (in-game chat, mind you), and the Galleon crew obviously wasn’t amused. We had to sink them shortly after, still laughing like madmen. It was a great moment; I wish I recorded it.

Just a sample of the creative flags that the Fortune Union pirates have designed for themselves.

[Q]: What are your favourite new additions to the game since the Anniversary Update?

[A]: If I say “everything” that’s a lazy answer, right? I mean there is a lot of stuff that has been added and it’s all really good…

Okay, so the Maiden Voyage is definitely one of my favourite new things that was added fairly recently. I’ve been sailing the Sea of Thieves long enough now that I do not need a tutorial, but the fact that there is one for new pirates who want to learn the literal ropes of the base mechanics, is a really, really good addition to the game.

When you played Sea of Thieves from the start (be it Alpha, Beta or launch), the learning curve with each new update was rather gradual and we all made mistakes at some point or another, but it was okay because we were all on the same playing field. I can imagine that a lot of stuff that’s a no-brainer for more experienced players might be a bit daunting or overwhelming for the newer ones, and the Maiden Voyage helps with that. Oh, and I love what Pikaaroon (Aaron) did with Umbra and the player immortalisations.

[Q]: What is your greatest achievement in a game, Sea of Thieves or otherwise?

[A]: I don’t know, I don’t think I’m all that great at achieving stuff – I’m more like a jack of all trades and master of none. You would have to ask my crewmates.

Maybe, and this is more of a shared achievement with my brothers and sisters of the Fortune Union, it’s the many mentions we’ve got in the Pirate Times. Be it the very first Hot Tub Spa (prior to the one in the Arena Tavern) or coming up with events like Skullball, Beacon Brawlers, the Brigatta, or my favourite, the yearly Grand Odyssey, which sees hundreds of community members participate in a race to solve 13 riddles.

We really love coming up with new ideas and try to give something back to the wider Sea of Thieves community. We couldn’t do all these amazing things without the help of our sister fleets and Groups within The Pirate Council though, so I have to give them a big shout out!

Creating something that is from the community for the community is truly amazing and I’m very happy to play my part in that.

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate and ship name, what would they be?

[A]: Well I think my gamertag, Thor von Blitz, already makes for a great pirate name, no? The ship name is easy, I went through a lot of names during the Alpha and Beta, but ever since launch I settled on calling my Sloop the One-Legged Seahorse – it’s the fastest ship on the Sea of Thieves! Even if it may not look or sound like it.

Thor von Blitz presents to you: The One-Legged Seahorse!

[Q]: Speaking of names, where did Thor von Blitz come from?

[A]: I had a different gamertag before Thor von Blitz. The change came about when a friend of mine, who is a huge fan of The Witcher, changed his name to something in the style of Geralt of Rivia. I was like “Hey, that sounds neato, I’m going to steal that do the same!”. So I copied his homework and changed it up a little. No shame.

My IRL first name is Thorben, but a lot of my English-speaking friends shorten it to Thor, so that’s where that comes from. The “von Blitz” is German for “of Lightning” and is just there to give the whole thing a nicer, more memorable ring to it. Does it work?

[Q]: What other hobbies do you enjoy outside gaming?

[A]: I’m a big nerd. My hobbies outside of gaming mainly consist of reading books and watching a lot of movies. More recently, thanks in part to Sea of Thieves, I developed an urge to travel to other places.

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!

[A]: I’m a goof and my pirate has an outfit for every situation. From adventure to swimming, cooking and everything in between, you name it – I even have a raincoat for the storm, much to the dismay of my crewmates, as I will drop every task at hand as soon as my pirate feels the first raindrop on his skin and rushes below deck to change to the appropriate clothing.

[Q]: What are your hopes for where Sea of Thieves and the community go next?

[A]: For Sea of Thieves I hope to see some changes to how Legendary Voyages work and I would love to see some kind of buy/sell economy for the Merchant Alliance (think Sid Meier’s Pirates!), because I think that could create an interesting new meta. For the community I hope that we stay as welcoming and positive as we have been in the past, being inclusive and helping newer pirates wherever we can. Because we shall sail together!

That concludes another Community Spotlight! Thor, we appreciate you and the time you’ve taken to answer our questions. Keep up the good work you’re doing in this community, and good luck on your future endeavours with the now infamous Shouthole.

That’s us done for now, but you can still catch up on our many previous Spotlights. We’ll be back again with another look at the life of someone in the community, but until then, keep those spyglasses primed on our social channels for more Sea of Thieves news!