Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's time to say goodbye

Around the time LoD hit, my WAR experience had reached a stable point: I was still very much enjoying the game, particularly playing with my great guildies and exploring the new content, but I had essentially given up on the end game. I was no longer hungry for the next boss, the next drop, the next upgrade.

At the same time I had a lot of outside work to do, and then I traveled for two weeks. Since I've been back I've been in WAR a fair amount, but I have hardly touched my Chosen. I've played alts and enjoyed grouping for PQs and RvR content, but the die has already been cast.

I'm leaving WAR, though I'll think on it fondly. my account expires in August and I won't be renewing it. WAR just isn't the game I'd like it to be. I think in many ways its a startlingly good game, full of a crisp vision and some really excellent features, but at the same time plagued by an over-abundance of riches and a headstrong and, for me problematic, devotion to PvP.

So sadly, I'll be taking my limited gaming hours elsewhere.

At the moment I'm playing , which is brand new to me, and which I'm enjoying, and I'm playing the beta of Aion. Aion wasn't why I'm quitting WAR although it will likely take WAR's place in my time.

I don't feel like a WAR blog is the place to discuss Aion at length, but for me the most refreshing thing about Aion was its simplicity of focus: there's only really one or two things to do .. a big change from WAR's avalanche of options.

I'd like to shout out to WAR's bloggers past and present: a fun, smart and interesting crew that had good ideas and made the game a lot more interesting for me.

I'd like to post an exit summary on my WAR experience and hope to have that together in the next week or so, but in case that fails (as such things often do) I want to make sure to thank everyone who's ever stopped by to have a read and particularly those who've left comments and sent emails. It's been big fun.


Friday, June 19, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but is the whole healer thing really necessary? I don't mind a death penalty, but couldn't we have an autopay option? That way you don't forget to heal up when you are in a hurry to get back to a fight in progress. Sure it would mean paying to heal at times when you aren't likely to get back into battle right away. Maybe there could be a shift-Rez option like there is for auto-looting. Even without though, I'm willing to pay a lazy tax to not have to muddle through it every time I die.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"unwrapping a present" or "what's so exciting about 1.3"

I only got on for a sec to explore the talisman changes in game last night and to make sure my patch got done. Patching went fine, though all my interface settings got lost somehow, sigh.

Talisman changes look to be nice and the bag changes are quite welcome. I have a lot more room now, so much that I might not have to keep several dozen packages floating through the mailsystem anymore.

The streamlining of talimsan mats wasn't as significant as I'd hoped, with most frags and curios surviving, and only green quality dusts taking a stomping.

Didn't actually get around to making any talis, of course.

It's nice that you can easily toggle items between your bag sets and open and close bags by clicking the bag icon. Very nice that.


as for the event, I have to say I'm not that motivated. There'll be plenty of LoD for me, and anyway my contribution would be modest even if I were trying hard. No other rewards beyond the lame title? feh.

My biggest gripe really, and I knew this was coming but still, is that after all the prelude leading up to the patch when it went live we saw ... an rvr event and some modest interface and profession changes. The LoD stuff isn't open yet and the class changes all got QQ'd into submission.

So the patch day experience was for me singularly unexciting. Now I'm sure the event will be fun. They usually are and this one seems to have some nice stuff to do, but that's an event, not the prophesized patch of glory, or whatever this was supposed to be.

I guess I could always go to Gunbad ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Incoming patch

So 1.3 and the land of the dead starts today it seems.

Should make for an exciting week of WAR playing. Here's what I'm interested to see when the patch fully hits:

What's the impact of the Land of the Dead?

Lots of new stuff to do, but in potentially short bursts. Should make for a nice change of pace, but will the constant back and forth and the randomness of control be a major frustration? (ie. You log on ... oh well, the other side just got control of the LoD, might as well go have a snack.)

How will this affect the RvR siege game? What about city dungeons/bastion stair? (I assume that BS will basically rot until it gets fixed.)

They've rolled back the AoE/caster stat changes (as I understand it) but there's still plenty of other class mechanic changes in the works, always interesting to see how those play out.

Will the new and improved gunbad be an alt-cation destination of choice when LoD is unavailable? I know I'm interested.

As mentioned before, the talisman changes should have some interesting fallout. Curious to see exactly what happens to my bank full of mats and talis. IIRC there's something about these being grandfathered in, but we'll see what that looks like.

Glad to see auto-rolling, bag/storage changes, and bag opt-out getting in the game, those things will all be well received ...if they work.

What's next ... what should be?

Jeff Hickman's post on the LoD on the herald indicated that the following would be next on the block:

1. Addressing concerns related to Crowd Control and Area of Effect abilities.
2. Continuing to improve client and server stability and performance.
3. Strengthening and improving the Tier 4 experience.
4. Improving server population distribution – both in terms of overall population and realm balance.
5. Improving itemization and the overall distribution of “carrots” (rewards) throughout the game.

Well we knew 1. would get attention, as it was supposed to be in this patch before people started QQing. 2 and 4 are Mythic's personal hell ... they're never going away and will always be important.

3 and 5 are interesting (if vague). Improving Tier 4 ... uh, can I get a "hell yeah"? Bastion Stair needs a big re-tool, PQs in the mainland need a re-tool (to make them worth doing in endgame) and the RvR game still needs to um, work? Forts aren't super fun and while city-sieges are fun, they don't really ever go anywhere for most of us.

5. Could mean anything but hopefully it means a real examination of what loot is available and how it stacks up, a real overhaul of the gear choices and what it takes to get them. It's sort of absurd right now really with some really vital gear being super-easy to get (100g will buy you a lot of engame gear) and other stuff insanely hard.

What should be done? Well I'm going to get specific. Dungeons need better ramping up ... too many of them are like boss 1=SNORE boss2=SNORE boss3=WTFPWNED. That's just goofy. We did BWE last night, my first time and the first boss was just a total joke, but the second boss completely hammered us. An experience all-too familiar from other WAR dungeons (herald of solithex in Gunbad, slaurith in BS etc.)

Some bosses will be more difficult than others, and the last boss should be harder, but it shouldn't be night and day. Group composition (eg 2x MDPS or 2x RDPS) should make some easier and some harder, not all-easier or all-harder.

One other simple thing ... tell us what's in a bag. Why do they want gear to get wasted? It's great that we can pass on a bag now, but what if say I have annhilator shoulders and chest but not helm? should I take all gold bags? (not that I'm getting any gold bags mind you.) That'll mean a lot of wasted gear.

Besides, shouldn't I be able to tell if a friggin' bag has a chestplate or a helmet in it? it's a bag for god's sake, not a black hole.

Oh, and yeah, make RvR fun to do.

See you all in the LoD.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WAR Tier 2 v. WOW 16-30

Way back when I did a comparison of WAR Tier 1 v. WOW 1-15. I thought I'd continue the comparison now that the bloom has worn off the rose a bit. I think I stick by most of what I wrote about that stage of the games, but lets see how they stack up in tier 2. For the sake of continuity I'll use the same categories as I used before.

Zone Design -- how interesting and fun are the zones.
WAR: By Tier two you've got a pretty good grip on the aesthetics of the pairings, but tier 2 does offer some nice variation in each pairing: shadowlands, marshes of madness, and troll country all differ a bit from what you've seen in Tier one of these pairings. With the division of the zones by faction, some of these feel quite small, particularly Ostland, or circuitous (Barak Varr). Still very moody and well-designed.
WOW: Some of the best WoW zones here, and just a lot of places to visit over these 15 levels: ghostlands, silverpine forest, westfall, redridge, duskwood, the barrens, hillsbrad, the wetlands, loch modan, darkshore, bloodmyst, stonetalon, ashenvale and thousand needles. Some have great flow (westfall) some great aesthetic design (ashenvale, thousand needles), while others are awkward or unrewarding (stonetalon, I'm looking at you.)
Winner: WoW. So many zones to choose from, so many different looks and styles. WAR has a more uniform level of zone interest and better aesthetic design, but can't compete with the volume of variety that WoW offers here.

Engagement -- drawing you into the world (probably this should be called immersion).
WAR: Throws a lot of things at you to try to get you interested: epic quests, regular quests, tome of knowledge entries for a gazillion things. Frankly the world itself does the best job of drawing you in: the zones tell a story that is hard to miss (if you venture out of the RvR lakes) and they do it well. The rest of the stuff, not so much. I don't think that I'm alone in saying that even with the epic quests, I was often just looking for red blobs on my map to go to and kill stuff, and often I'd have to doublecheck what the quest even wanted.
WOW: This is where WoW really gets its claws into you. The zones all have interesting stories, large or small, told through quests primarily, that you will be interested in following to their end. The defias cycle leading up to Deadmines and The Embalmer string in duskwood are two of my favorites.
Winner: WoW. This is really WAR's weakness, and it only gets worse from this point in, I'm afraid. The choice seems to have been modularity and convenience over immersion.

Itemization -- gear options and appeal
WAR: Cloaks make their way into your gear set and helms and shoulders are plentiful. A few choices per class of design, with some odd color choices combined with the expense of premium dyes possibly driving you into somewhat bland color schemes. Still, your toon probably looks pretty cool at this point. Quite a few sets: the first quest set, the obliterator set, the sacellum set (which you'll never see) and the havok set, as well as quite a few good options from RvR renown rewards and random PQ drops.

WOW: A few dungeon sets, but only for leather wearers basically, PvP gear options, a plenty of good crafted gear. Much of this stuff is dorky looking however, and you're probably not going to see helmets until the very end of this level range. shoulders will also be at a premium. Possibly by this point to get some decent looking gear, but its not easy.
Winner: WAR complain about the lack of options if you like, but with the range of choices in sets, the aesthetic appeal of the gear, and the option to dye, WAR is for me well up.

Crafting -- interest and utility of professions
WAR: Um, well they're useful. Talismans losing their timers in 1.3 will help here a bit, but really, crafting in WAR is just not that exciting. If you are grinding it aggressively, you can get yourself a little boost, and the pots and talismans are really very useful, but it does get a bit rote.
WOW: Crafting by this point, if you are leveling it aggressively, is getting really strong. You can quest for recipes, win them as drops, and make yourself quite good items. It takes more work to keep up with your level, but the rewards are there for the taking. Engineering is particularly fun at this level.
Winner: WoW by a country mile. As I said before, some of this is intentional, but that doesn't change the score.

Group PVE -- dungeons and group-specific areas
WAR: More PQs some good, some great, some brutal, as well as some opposed PQs were both factions (Theoretically) compete in stage 1. Additionally you have the three sacellum dungeons. I've only done the first of these (east) and it was fine. More like a dungeon wing than a full dungeon. Nothing very tricky or particularly interesting in there, but a good change of pace and a nice warm up for the pacing of dungeons in WAR.
WOW: Again some of the best of WoW here. Deadmines, Black Fathom Deeps, and Wailing Caverns are all very cool and Gnomeregan is also quite interesting. They've stripped out a lot of the open area group content from WoW, which is just as well as for the most part it was just a brutal chore, but some of it remains, to give you a bit more meaningful content to do in a group. Some of the dungeons in this are less fascinating or less enjoyable (shadowfang, Razorfen kraul, stockades) but there so much variety and the quest rewards alone make them all quite worthwhile.

Winner: WoW Yeah, I love me a PQ but this is like the golden age of WoW dungeon-crawling.

PVP -- all player-vs-player-specific content
WAR: Keeps, baby! Outdoor RvR is in full-effect in tier 2 and is quite manageable at this point. It may descend into stealth keep zergs, but it still makes for an interesting experience. the BO game is less thrilling, but when they're defended that can be a good time as well. Three new and interesting scenarios are available and their quite good. Your mileage in these may vary by class (i hated mourkain as a tank, but love it as a healer and caster) but they are certainly very different from the T1 scenarios.
WOW: Battlegrounds are in full effect with both the meaty-end of the 10-19 bracket and all of 20-29 in play. Both of these are fun and reasonably rewarding in short bursts. Also, if you are interested in playing a power character, you can twink at both 19 or 29 very easily and crush other lesser foes. Not a big draw for me, but if that's your cup of tea, then it could be a big draw. World PvP is basically non-existent on non-pvp servers. on pvp servers expect to get routinely ganked as soon as you leave the safe zones. Yay?
Winner: WAR So much better. If I was into having a twink pvper, maybe i'd be miffed about my inability to stop a character at a given level. But I'm not, at all. Much richer and more lively experience. Also much more playable at non-peak-bracket levels (ie not 19,29 as in WoW).

So there you have it. I think this tier really shows how the games' design-emphasis impacts its experience. Wow is all about PvE: dungeons, crafting, questing. WAR is about aesthetics and PVP.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Things I'm excited about in Patch 1.3 - Talismans

So there's lots of interesting things coming up for talisman crafting. Here's the relevant info from the most recent patch notes:

* Items can now have more than one talisman slot.
* Multiple-slot items will only allow one talisman from a given family to be slotted.
* The Potency data tables have been reallocated to heavily favor the fragment.
* We've compressed the number of ingredient Potency levels to 9 from 10. Curios have been compressed to a single rarity. Existing items of higher than common rarity will be grandfathered in.
* Fragments can now be broken down into two fragments of the next lower skill level tier.
* An "awesome" result attained while fusing a very rare talisman will no longer consume the fragment.
* There have been significant tooltip updates that will better convey vital information.
* Due to balancing issues, some talismans will be restricted to designated equipment slots. This change will not affect existing talismans.
* Character level requirements have been added to talismans to provide accurate power estimates for varying player levels. This change will not affect existing talismans.
* Normal stat talismans now extend to +24 stats at the upper bound to compensate for the timer removal.
* Normal talismans will no longer utilize timers.
* Talisman boxes can now be purchased from the talisman vendor.

So let's examine all this. The most interesting thing, if I'm reading it right is "Normal talismans will no longer utilize timers." So, no more 8 hour talismans? yes please.

Other items of note:

1. multiple talisman slots on gear
2. higher max level of talismans (+24 from +20)
3. compression of options, which means fewer bags full of only slightly different junk.
4. boxes can be bought from vendors.

My concerns about this new system are two-fold:
1. how will this sort out in the economy ... low level permanents should be more sale-able, but there's a lot of changes, and its not clear what the fallout will be.
2. we're going to have way too many fragments: fewer types is a good thing, but we're still getting them from salvaging and scavenging, and now in some cases they won't be used up by making a talisman. They're already basically junk except for rare fragments, particularly at high levels. I expect that to change but overall with fewer talismans needed, they should become even less valuable.

Why not have scavenging sometimes yield just vendor trash that actually is worth something outside the AH?

Overall, good changes and quite promising for talisman making and the related gathering profs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PvP Strategy: the Charge

Perhaps the single-most useful tactic in group PvP, the charge is little understood even by those who can most benefit from it.

Let's break it down.

Imagine that you are in, say, the Battle for Praag scenario. You and your pals are loitering contendly around a flag, perhaps picking dandelions, when all the sudden a great mass of red names comes flailing toward you, dashing past your befuddled meleers into your creamy casters.

That is a charge.

So you ran screaming in a panic away from the charging enemy, likely to be cut to pieces in retreat. You regroup, respawn etc. by your guards, while the enemy (lets call them "order") loiters around the flag closest to your spawn point in a seething mass. They taunt you; they insult your mothers (or in the case of greenskins ... parent?). So what do you do?

All to often this is what you do: you cherry-pick. There is a back and forth of dashing attacks and retreats. Some from both side die, but no ground is gained or lost.

The problem with this is two-fold:
1. you are at a point-deficit. You need their spot, but they don't need yours.
2. it's a shitty strategy.

What you should do is ... charge.

The problem with a charge into a set enemy is this: it takes guts. Every individual knows that if they charge in alone, they will get crushed humiliatingly. If you all go in together (assuming here you are competitive in numbers and overall power, not always the case) you have a good chance of pushing them back and doing to them what they did to you. Namely, routing them.

It's one of those trust dilemmas, do you take a personal risk (getting wtfpwned) relying on your teammates to rally to your side or do you wait around taking less risk, but gaining less reward (hey we killed one witch hunter woo!)

Not surprisingly, I die a lot in these situations, because I'm unwilling to do the lazy, wrong thing. I don't want to pussy-foot around and farm 1 kill to our 5 deaths, while they rack of scenario points. So I charge in (I'm a tank after all) and more often then not, no one else does the same, and I'm unceremoniously beaten like a pinata (on fire).

What happens in a charge is this: you change the plane of the attack and your force the enemy to make choices.

If there is one enemy in range, they all attack that enemy naturally, and healers can't keep them up.

If there's 10 enemies in range, then each individual has to pick the best target. Damage is split, healers have a better chance of keeping up with that damage and meanwhile the attackers are causing more damage to the enemy, requiring more effort from the healers and possibly requiring them to reposition or change targets midstream.
Add to that the benefit of shared buffing/debuffing and shared cc benefits and you can see why the charge gives you the best chance for success.

There are other factors of course: who do you attack in your charges for one. Don't hit tanks obviously, but also you want to move in a group, but not too clumped up, so that you can't be isolated on the one hand, and can't be casually group cc'd and aoe'd.

Stay grouped, focus your damage, help your teammates and win.

Charging: it works. Give it a try.


PS. Strangely no one has a problem with implementing the charge in oRvR. O-RvR is also where you'll most likely see the best counter strategies to the charge: the tank wall and the isolation move (in which you drag a part of the charge away from the main group and focus them down).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PvP for Dummies

Do you have a shield?

Go stand in front.

Are you wearing a dress?

Stand in back.

Do you have a propensity for stabbing or bashing things furiously?

Please direct your aggression towards the enemy wearing dresses.

Do you have healing spells?

Please use them (oh and btw, there are people you can heal that aren't in your party! Sometimes they get hurt too.)



Monday, May 18, 2009

Gunbad in 1.3

What a great set of changes to Gunbad. A very fun instance already, but mythic is gearing up some much-needed changes. Hopefully similar changes will make their way into Bastion Stair. Here's some of the highlights for me:

- no more influence requirements for bosses.
- checkpoints for rezzing means no more having to completely reclear on a wipe.
- all undead despawn during the herald of solithex fight.
- herald of solithex's purple puddles have a reduced radius.
- can teleport to entrance of gunbad after a boss fight (instead of having to suicide back).

the bad thing:

krunk da big un is no longer part of the masta mixa fight. Boo!


Also sounds like they're making the trash fight a little smarter, which is always good fun. I'm now really looking forward to trying this out on my alts.

A Very RvR Weekend

This past weekend was an RvR spectacular. I participated in a little bit of everything a fair bit of tier 4 o-rvr, which I'd mostly avoided to this point. Here's a rundown of my experiences:

1. strategery. I was pleasantly surprised to see a fair bit of strategizing by the various warband leaders of the groups I was in. We took BOs to stymy zone captures, we defended keeps and even split warbands to achieve multiple objectives. Warband leadership is WAR's version of running a high-end raid: it requires a lot of coordination and discipline, and I've got to give props to those who do it well.

2. Zone control. People don't like to switch gears. Sometimes the fastest way to finish capping a zone is to do scenarios or PQs, but people are reluctant to do these things once they're in o-rvr mode. Now I did see it done in Praag, when several parts of warbands went and did PQs to push us over the top, but at many other points leaders seemed to prefer to switch zones and stay in capture mode. I think that there's probably a concern that switching to scenarios or PQs will mean that your undefended nodes will get retaken, and that seems a reasonable concern. Not sure if there's a balancing fix to this, or just something that people have to get the hang of better.

3. tier 4 scenarios. This last weekend ended my grovod caverns curse, and I was actually a contributor to the success. As part of a strong destro group which was wallowing a few points back of order in Grovod, I made the crazy decision to try a cap a warpstone. Nutty, I know. Anyway, after being ganked a couple times, I finally capped successfully, and then others took up the challenge and we won handily.

Which makes me wonder, are people not really clear on strategies for these scenarios? the whole vast confusion of tier 4 scenarios and their situationally availability seems to reinforce the separation of lower t4 types and the endgame brutes that often define the course of the matches, as its those folk who have the most experience in the various scenarios. But, I observed at several points that those same people didn't seem to be pursuing what I'm pretty sure are the best ways to win the scenario (like capturing the warpstone in Grovod). So are the various +40 RR folks just pursuing a more lucarative path to renown by farming kills, even if it means losing the game, or do they really not have that good of a grasp on the strats? I'm not sure.

4. Gloating, taunting and trolling. Mixed with all the good in a large amount of pvp is bound to be the bad. Specifically, lots of gloating, taunting, and bitching. A +40 RR Witchhunter /lol'd at me when he killed me as I was trying to cap a warpstone.

Let me rephrase that, when he and another WH killed me ... a level 38 chosen. Oh and they were losing the game at that point, and went on to lose it handily. I understand the whole /teabag your opponent thing, but really, pick your spots. It just made the WH in question look dumb and pathetic.

Conversely, the SM who owned like 3 destro at a time, twice in a row (alluded to in my guide to tanking below) didn't emote a thing, but if he had, he would have earned it.

5. Age of zergening. While I've complained about the use of the term zerging before, its indisputable that WAR's open-RvR game is about numbers. Certainly there's skill, and organization, and class balance, but really, its usually the biggest group that wins. But, and this is important for me, even though the contribution of the individual can feel trivial in these massive onslaughts, there is a contribution factor. One individual's great play won't offset an extra warband, but it can make a big impact. I've noticed in scenarios that my groups do better now. Could be coincidence, but I'm sure that being able to contribute more as a level 38 or now 39 tank, playing a tanking role now, is helping.

6. tanking in RvR. It's not that bad, really. I've been pretty down on it recently, and it's certainly a mixed bag, but in the right combinations, tanking-type play feels pretty valuable. Guarding casters, debuffing, knockdowns and knockback, it's actually pretty satisfying once you can come to terms with not being dps.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tanks in PVP: A Guide for Casters

Inspired by the sorceress who asked me if I was "sleeping" after we were both killed by a swordmaster in Invader gear, she being killed while standing blithely in melee range of the SM, I present the following guide to PVP tanks for casters.


Tanks: Your armored friends

Greetings casters. You may have noticed in your scenarios and rvr exploits some fellows running around in heavy armor, some carrying shields. Those fellows are tanks! Tanks are friendly creatures, slow to anger and good with children.

Tanks can do many things for you in PVP, but there are some things they cannot do.

Tanks Can Do:

1. make your enemies less dangerous. We can make those nasty sword-wielding maniacs hurt you less! Isn't that nice? This is called debuffing. Chosen (a kind of tank) can for example use auras that reduce strength (how hard your enemies can hit you) or that increase your toughness (how much hitting you can take). We can also taunt. A taunt is when we say nasty things about the enemy's mother. This makes them mad at us, but less mad at you, so they do less damage! Some of these things only work for you if you're in the same group as a tank, so stay close to your friendly armored group-mate.

2. make it harder for the enemy to get to you. We can knock down the enemy, snare them, knock them away. But we can't do these things all the time, just some of the time. The time when we can't do these things is called a cooldown. Or sometimes we run out of "Action Points." "Action points" are our helping juice, when we are out of helping juice, we cannot make them leave you alone.

3. Protect the weak. Tanks have a special talent for helping the weaker and more flimsy. People like you, dear caster. But, you have to be in the same group as the tank to receive a guard (how we protect the weak), and only one person can be guarded, and only if they're close by the tank.

Tanks Cannot:

1. stop people from hitting you. You have a special ability deep inside you that you can use to stop them from hitting you. This gift is called "running away." Many of your magical powers work at a long range. Try attack people from afar!

2. stop people from hurting you. We can make them hurt less, and we want to, dear friend. But they will still hurt you. If you are getting hurt, might I suggest again using your "run away" ability?

3. stop you from dying.
If someone hits you enough times, even if they are being "debuffed," I'm sorry to say that you will die. It happens. We feel bad when you die, dear caster, but we are not gods, and do not have the power to keep you alive when you have been beaten into a bloody pulp. To avoid this, watch how much "health" you have left in your "health bar." If you do not have much health left, I heartily encourage you, again, to "run away."

Why sigils are good

So I assume everyone knows about the upcoming change to wards, but to review: wards are now separate from the armor. They are stored in your tome, they combine into Sigils. You can get wards (sigil fragments) from completing achievements (Such as kill Boss dropping ward-armor X times)

Okay, so that's that. Good or bad?

Good. Here's why. The problem with WAR endgame is its extreme linearity.

There's little choice: BS, B/B, LV .... or .... Keep, Fort, City.

But now, not so much, by removing the wards from the armor, you can pursue gear for its bonuses rather than its wards.

So much like the crit weapon farming in BS, people will be able to farm the best possible gear for their class, spec and conception thereof.

It also means (and probably why it was done) that good armor, high level armor can be introduced without wards.

So in summary: more choice = good, the forces of order = lame.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why I play

Last night my guild had an alt night, and it turned out to be great fun. A good group with lots to do, work together, joking around, possibly causing wipes from said joking around ... well it was fun for me anyway.

To get together online with folks around the country, to do different types of things, enjoying the game with no drama, that's what WAR is at its best for me. Did I come away with phat loot? not really, though I won a couple bags.

Did we own everything in sight? We did pretty well in both PQ and scenarios, but it wasn't like we were a juggernaut of destruction. It was just a good time, hanging with guild friends and new faces. Goofing off at its best.

Don't get me wrong, I like to accomplish the big task, to earn the phat loots, and what not, but at the end of the day, I log on to have fun and last night I had a lot of it.

MMO's are about ongoing stories, the persistent world and all that, but also, importantly, about shared experiences, and when you can savor the shared experience, the time is well spent, regardless of anything else.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


So everyone's in a tizzy about WARBuddy (hear the WARP podcast on it here), an exploit program that allows you to, essentially, disregard the physics and boundaries of the game world.

Yeah, this sort of thing is really bad. There used to be a similar program for WoW that I think they got rid of by using that installer thing that checks the version of the game on your computer at runtime. People in WoW used it to attack mobs in dungeons from above them, where they were unable to target.

Hacks happen, bots happen. I can't really get too worked up about it, really. Sure people are cheating, but they take risks when they do: accounts get banned for this sort of thing. And how does it affect me? I get owned plenty by non-cheating players so that wouldn't be a difference.

Let me put it another way, which is more potent: warbuddy or a super-high end guild? If you have a very active, high-level guild you have a huge advantage in the game, and totally legitimately.

So yeah, they need to figure out how to get this thing out of the game, but I'm not gonna get in a twist about it, and if it's one or the other, I'd rather they work on the game's content -- on encouraging players to keep playing than on stopping cheaters.

PQ Crawl-ette: the recap

So last night marked our first attempt at a Gaarawarr-style PQ crawl.

It was a bit light on epic-ness, but was still a fun try at a type of user-generated event that is much more tricky than you might imagine.

We only got through 7 PQs, and had at max about 7-8 participants. So it was a bit light on drama, but was fun-times and got some people some loot and influence.

What we learned:

1. a genuine multi-tier crawl is an undertaking, plan accordingly.
2. promote, promote, promote. Shout out anywhere and everywhere. The more people you have, the more fun the process will be for everyone involved.
3. hit everything. Now I'm not sure that everyone would agree, but for me the whole point of the crawl is to go from one PQ to the next one, not being selective.
4. don't masterloot. In some cases this might be worth doing, but it slows down the process. If I had a lot of level 11 folk, as we did last night, I might bother master looting ch.5 stuff, but otherwise I wouldn't bother.
5. go, go, go. Keep the pace brisk. It's a lot of ground to cover. Don't wait for people and don't dawdle.
6. remember that its supposed to be fun. Not really a problem, but something that always warrants a reminder. Better to hit a few PQs and everyone has fun than churn through them all and be miserable.
7. make sure you have enough firepower to move through them quickly. We had a lot of alts on and it meant more xp for folks I guess, but slower PQs. To get them all cranked out, I think you need a core of high level characters to really keep the pace brisk.

Anyway, we'll do another one soon, and I think we'll get much farther along. Will we manage a full 4-tier crawl? maybe not, but if we can get into double digits of PQs, move through a couple full tiers, I'll be stoked.

All the more props to Gaarawarr for the immensity of the crawls he's executed. It's not a small thing to do.

Hope everyone that came had a good time and will join us again on the next attempt.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun Time Volkmar

Inspired by Gaarawarr's epic exploits, my awesome (if somewhat wee) guild, Children of the Raven, is running a PQ crawl tonight on Volkmar. We'll be doing Dark Elf PQs starting at 8:30 CST in Ch.1, until we pass out from exhaustion or finish them all.

So if you've got a destro toon on Volkmar, come out and join in the fun, and if not, roll up a newb and pay us a visit.

I'll try to get a recap of our success or failure tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Downward Spiral?

Greetings to one and all.

The last few weeks have seen some damage done to the once thriving WAR blogging community. We'd already lost Syp to the potty, and now we've also lost the excellent Breakfast at War and GirlIRL. Sad times indeed.

Meanwhile many of the rest of us have slowed down or disappeared from the blogrolls altogether. Coincidence? Could be. Diminishing passion? Hmm.

For myself, I can say that the flames have cooled a bit. I still am playing nightly, and still enjoying it, but I'm not as fanatically as I was even a few weeks ago. The approaching endgame is rekindling some of my worst WoW 1.0 end-game memories and RvR in Tier 4 is still a mixed bag at best.

The live event was quite fun, I thought, and got people out and about, and I still contend that the early game of WAR is much better than the competition, but the RvR-nes of WAR and all that it entails combined with the rigid PvE endgame is not inspiring me to play as often or with the same level of dedication as I did when my characters were churning through the lower tiers.

Having said all that, I'm not closing shop or looking for a new game, and I still read and enjoy the many great WAR blogs out there. My guild is great is small, and I feel like there's much fun to be had in the game.

Here's looking forward to some exciting developments and creative thinking from the mythic team and maybe a little more interaction with the consumer base, to get us amped up again about the WAR.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Week in review: the Good and the Bad

Greetings and happy Friday to you all.

So another week of WAR bites the dust and it's been a pretty interesting one for me.

Instead of another whiny Fuck You post, I thought I'd mix in a little good with the bad. Still whining, naturally.


Beyond the Sands Live Event. Lots to do, and people are gung-ho about it, even though the rewards are middling. The trophy is quite nice and the title is pretty good ("The Eternal"). Not sure how important the goggles will be, but I guess they're useful too, and fun looking, if you're into that sort of thing.


Getting wtfpwned A few guildies and I were harrassing the live event PQ in dragonwake when we got absolutely crushed by a level 40 witch hunter. There was a SM there as well but the WH did the dirty work, basically killing all four of us solo. I chased her down when she had just a tiny sliver of health left, but one healing pot and a disarm later, I was eating elf-dirt. Anyway if you see Lolaxica on Volkmar, run away.


Lairs I know the loot isn't that great, and sometimes they're down, and you waste a trip, and some are much harder than others, yadda yadda, but for me, these are gold. Tucked away in obscure spaces, with jumps or obscure keys to enter, and then some really challenging fights, at least at the level my group was doing them. From the last one we did we got two R39 blue BoE drops, so not a bad haul, imo.

The idea of the lair itself is just great, for me. There's something about creeping into a big baddies lair that makes it very evocative. Also its a nice option to have when you've got just a little bit of time.


Bad physics Seriously, I'm sorry, but If I knock someone off a mountain top, they need to die from the fall. It's complete BS that they take no fall damage. You don't want people pushing others off mountains, how about you get rid of knockback, or better yet, mountains? Don't fuck with gravity, kthx.


Alts I'm playing three characters now, and it's really ideal for me. Each tier and character role plays very different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. I'm doing new stuff and getting a better feel for how the pieces work together. The sorceress for me is still a bit too flimsy and reliant on others, especially in pvp. Though I can at least kill comparable level champs with her, so that's a nice improvement. The zealot is good fun, fun to RvR, a bit slow to solo, but obviously groups very well with just about anything.


Invisible Walls Okay, I get why there's invisible walls in say, the Soul Vault, but ... I can't jump off stairs? Why on earth they felt like they needed to keep people from jumping on stuff, I'll never know. It's maddening though, to find perfectly good gaps or low walls or whatever and then find the way blocked.

Here's a thought, if I can jump yea-high, make the damn walls higher than that.

If I want to jump into the lava, by god, that's my right. Isn't it?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

You know what's awesome?

When light can't penetrate objects!

That's right, shadows are awesome. They're nature's way of telling us what is a ghost and what we can run into. So let's hear it for shadows! Yay.

You know what is not awesome?

Not only having to ride a rather undersized piggy, but also being called a "whacka."

My friend, you have my sympathy.

Miscellany: City Defense, Sorceress, Bastion Stair

Participated in the defense of the IC last night, was good fun. The defensive group I was in was quite strong and we held off order until the timer ran out, then killed them off and farmed the PQ. Of course I didn't contribute much to the effort, but I made a good show of it, running around crazily, as if my attacks were actually doing damage to the enemy.

But I have to say the whole wait til the timer wears out thing seems a bit sketch. I mean, not exploitive, but just slightly unbalanced towards defenders. After contested wore out, we could still respawn in the city while attackers got the boot when they respawned. Might be more balanced if we had to at least finish stage one of the pq while the city was contested.


Also, I've been playing my bank alt, a lowbie sorceress, a bit. Quite different, as you might imagine from the Chosen or the zealot (my other active alt). The sorceress kind of sucks to solo with, at least the way I play, because I can't realistically kill champions solo. I suppose I could kite them around terrain, but I have no snare at this point, so it's a bit daunting. I will say that it's very fun to one-shot mobs of the same level.

Scenarios with the sorceress are a real mixed bag. If there's any structure to the group: healing, tanking, that sort of thing, then it's quite a potent experience, but when I'm left alone, I'm a joke. It's a bit frustrating watching tanks and mdps run right past people that are racing up to me, and then getting owned. Probably this gets better as people get more snares and crowd control, but it can certainly be frustrating.


Which makes me wonder, would I be more RvR focused if my main were a healer or the sorc? I find that healers are the least team-dependant in terms of enjoying doing rvr. I can be on a totally crap team with my zealot and still have fun, but with Czarnal and even more so with the sorc, if my team is underpowered or disorganized, it quickly feels like a chore.


Also, did a guild run of Bastion Stair left wing on the weekend. Good fun. I like a lot of things about this dungeon: it looks great, the loot is good, and I still like the pqs and quests and all that, very centralized and efficient, like so much in WAR. The downsides of the way these things are built (at least BS and Gunbad) are:

1. a bit uniform. Mobs in left wing are all beastmen: there's a couple outliers ... a gnoblar/ogre optional boss (iirc) and a doombull boss, but basically the same thing over and over. The PQs in the wing are all extremely straightforward too, though the wing boss fight was different and fun.

2. Hard to work on. The second PQ boss is quite hard, harder than anything else, unless we were just completely doing it wrong, which is possible, I suppose. And we couldn't really practice it, because by the time we respawned, the 1st PQ was fully populated and by the time we got past that, the 2nd was reset.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Time for Another ... F*ck You Friday

Greetings, gentle reader, and welcome to another Fuck You Friday. I haven't played that much this week (fuck you, real life), but I have managed to find enough gripe in my soul to warrant another installment.

Without further ado:

Name-calling whiners Oh hell yes you're getting a "fuck you." Last night I was invited into a group farming a Bastion Stair PQ. We ran it twice, and I guess they'd been running it for quite a while previously. After the second time through, the level 40 tank decided he was done.

Now, he'd been asking "who needs bags" and apparently master looting his bag to someone in the group that hadn't gotten one. A nice thing, given that this was essentially a PuG. I lucked into a blue bag on our first time through, so i was happy. Apparently, one of the group, a shaman, wasn't. When the tank called it, he went off ... "i never got a bag" ... "everyone else got one but me" and finally "you guys are a bunch of fags, I'll never help you again."

Riight. So, you're "helping" us? and yet you're peeved about not getting a bag? Doesn't sound like altruism to me, friend. And really, fags? I'm sorry, but you got all the bags you earned or lucked into, per the PQ conventions. So, No, I'm sorry, you're a whiny little tool. Sure he was level 40 and no doubt a big reason we did well in there, but you know, that's how loot works, friend.

Why is it that people that get bad luck or fuck up are always the quickest to call other people names. I remember a UBRS run I did ages ago in WoW, in which some dumbass got himself killed and then released. This was in the 15man UBRS days, mind you. And he was livid that we wouldn't clear back to the front door to help him. He and his friend in the group decided to call everyone Jews ... which in addition to not making any sense, is just really, really, fuck-headed.

So here's a big ol' fuck you to whiners, name callers, and bigots all around.

Tier 4 Scenarios Oh my everloving god do I hate these things. I'm sure it's a delightful romp for the level 40s in organized warbands and all, but man are these un-fun. The one I did last night was a little better, so maybe there's hope on the horizon, but still. Fuck you, Tier 4 scenarios, and particularly Grovod Caverns ... you look so cool, but you are such a dick, Grovod.

Can we get a level 40 only tier, plx?

Here's how my play sessions go: happy at questing ... happy at farming ... happy in oRvR ... happy in PQs ... happy with professions ... OMG I want to tear my arms off.

That last part is the scenarios, btw.

Crushclaw Fucking scorpion, fuck you. Way to be take forever to get to, be unusually hard to kill and then cause me to respawn at the ch.15 camp in Caledor, meaning I have to hearth to go anywhere ... I am going to wear your carapace like a cape if it's the last thing I do.

Dammaz Kron Fuck you for making me feel bad about my skills. I play a tank and a healer .. I'm not getting a bunch of killing blows, okay, I admit it, so I've gotta be like -12 to every witch hunter and BW out there. When Mythic steals this idea to incorporate into the core game, I hope they score participatory kills rather than killing blows, that would make me feel a little better.

"WAR is a PvP Game" Okay some of my fellow bloggers as well as pleeeenty of people in game have trotted this one out, to which I must respectfully say, "fuck you, good sirs (or madams)." WAR is. not. a. pvp. game.

It is an MMO. It is a whole big ol' fucking world. It is PVP-oriented. PvP-centric if you will. You know what game is a PvP game? Street Fighter II. Quake is a pvp game. WAR is not that. Frankly, I don't get what the big freaking hissy is all about. PvP is fun, to be sure, there's a potential randomness to it that PvE doesn't have. Characters hit harder and are more cagy than mobs. But really, if you can out-level, out-gear, or out-number your way to victory, I'm not sure how much crowing you should be able to do about your PvP chops.

And on top of all that, WAR is also a license game. It's the Warhammer Fantasy game. Not Mythic presents gloomy fantasy battlelands! Trust me, if it were, you'd have a lot fewer people in your RvR to lay waste too. Am I persona-non-grata because I'm drawn to this game by the property rather than its DAOC heritage and RvR bent?

And the final fuck-you ... Forum commentors. I'm sure there's good in there, but it's like digging for gold in shit. Not. Interested. So much venom and self-congratulatory nonsense. The thread on the kill of Tcharzanek was the last thing I saw on a forum, and was totally absurd. The only value these things have in my book is as a primer on logical fallacies: "See there johnny, where Long Dong Silver calls the original poster a "Fanboi" that's an ad hominem fallacy."

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WAR is not War

The comic panel above is taken from the excellent Giant in the Playground.

So there have been a number of good posts out there on RvR tweaks and fixes, particularly Breakfast at War's "RvR Remodeling."

Another quite good post this week was Dark Crag Dispatch's "Shouldn't MMO's End?"

My response to both of these excellent posts is succinctly phrased in Rich Burlew's Giant in the Playground tribute to D&D co-creator Dave Arneson (shown above).

To belabor the point: WAR and other MMO's are descendants of pen and paper roleplaying games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons. With that comes a set of limitations and conventions: the glory of the individual hero and the persistent world are two that are relevant here.

So, should MMO's end? Of course not, like D&D and before it Tolkien, and before that the old myths and legends, the world is bigger than the individual hero. But, should the hero's tale have an end? Yeah, that would be nice. Is finishing end game the end of a hero's journey now? Well, if you feel like it is, sure ... until the next expansion naturally.

Will an MMO ever add in an end to a character's development arc, a meaningful conclusion? If they did, they'd have to add in something to do with the character afterward, some kingdom to rule, some other role to play, otherwise they're throwing away subscription dollars.

But what does this all have to do with RvR? Well, it's the odd nature of the world of heroes. Battles in WAR are comprised of essentially nothing but heroes: elite units, if you will. This is not war, right? There's no infantry, there's no rank-and-file. Which isn't to say that RvR is irrevocably broken or ridiculous or anything, but its a unique beast. People in RVR-chat are often complaining because their fellow players don't defend, for example, but it's not really the hero's role to sit around garrisoning a strategic objective. People aren't committed 100% to the cause because they don't have to be. They don't have to take orders. They don't have to do boring stuff.

Interestingly less PvE-oriented RvR, such as Pancakez proposes, and scenarios are even more abstract. More ... lets say realistic, even though that's pretty ridiculous ... fix would be to add more PvE in ... a whole army in defense and in support of the attack, but of a decidedly trivial nature, so that the stature of the hero is reinforced while the narrative is augmented. But certainly this creates problems of its own.

This is the dilemma for Mythic though: pursue the grandeur and pomp of massive sieges and battles at the cost of any narrative sense as well as the individual glory of the participants, or pursue skirmish-type PvP that heightens the role of the individual, makes more sense narratively, but loses the massive scale and glory.

Dave Arneson, as imagined by Rich Burlew, makes the D&D case pretty clearly ...
"We're not doing a big battle," but Mythic's choice will likely fall the other way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tier 4 thoughts

Czarnal is now at rank 35 and has had a fair bit of time in tier 4. My experience here has been a mix of the good and the not so good, so I thought I'd share a little recap of how tier 4 is playing out for me.

City Siege

The good: I've participated in both sides: defense of the IC and the assault on Altdorf, and I've seen plenty of back and forth going on in the various zones. It gives the game a very live feeling. Having the various scenarios lock or unlock based on the status of the various zones connects you to the status of the war, even if you're ignoring it. On Volkmar, it seems like we're approaching the sweet spot: back and forth with both sides having opportunities to pin the other back and to put their capital under pressure.

The Altdorf city siege that I participated in, seemed particularly effective. It really felt like a city under assault. There was lots of skirmish action in the streets as well as organized bands assaulting the 2 capture points. It felt genuinely cinematic and like a really well-wrought combination of PvE and PvP elements working to further the central narrative.

The Bad: I can't really get all that into PvP in Tier 4. I hope it will be better post-patch, and/or as I get a little closer to the level cap. Right now I feel like I'm making up the numbers. In scenarios I get consistently crushed, and in the 2nd stage of the City defense PQ (or either stage of the assualt of altdorf) I felt basically useless. I guess I gave order some renown, so there's that.

RvR is less casual in T4. Sure you can hop in and out, but you're not going to do much or earn much unless you're willing to really commit to the process. So far, I'm not.

The Ugly: Lag. It's really absurd how laggy some of this can get. While order was pushing into the maw, I was trying to do a PQ in Praag and had around 3 seconds of lag ... 3 seconds between the receipt of any given action is really unbearable. And I know it's even worse in the fortress fights. So yeah, put those bad boys in discrete instances on an instance server plx ... and keeps too.

Questing and PQs:

The Good: So everytime I change tiers I start questing again, and then about halfway through I abandon it for PQ influence grinds, dungeons, and RvR. In Tier 4, I've been very pleased with the quality of quest narratives. In particular I've done a lot of Chaos ch.15 and 3 of the epic quests. These are great fun ... very appealing story arcs (spoiler: your character is awesome) and force you to visit the various zones of parts of zones. The PQs have been a bit mixed, but some of them are fantastic. Interesting mechanics, interesting stories, good visuals.

I've also been enjoying exploring the Tome. My current obsession is jewelry unlocks. They're perfect for my level and there's a lot of them. They tend to be defensive in nature but seem pretty good at that. So far I've unlocked about 6 or 7 of these and there's at least another 5 or 6 if not more. They're in sets too, btw, which increases the collectibility for me.

The Bad: Basically poor and inconsistent rewards. More of the same kvetching I know, but let me explain. PQs throughout the previous tiers have had evenly scaling rewards. Ch.11 elite rewards are level 22 blues, ch.12 are level 24 blues, ch.13 level 26. But in T4, not so much:

Ch. 15: level 28 (ch.14 at the end of t3 gives level 27 blues)
Ch. 16: level 30 (okay so far so good)
ch. 17: ...also level 30
ch. 18: level 31.

and so on. Now to be fair, there are more chapters in tier 4 (8 vs. 5) but the rewards rapidly drop below the scale of the mobs you have to fight. (ch.20 for example gives level 33 blues for it's elite rewards. The mobs you fight are level 38+)

Not a big deal for grouping, I imagine, but it makes soloing yourself decent gear from PvE a bit of a non-starter.

Epic quests are as I've said, very cool, but the rewards are a bit inconsistent and seem to trend a little low. The chaos Ch.15 epic quest yields a level 28 blue weapon, the chaos ch. 17 epic quest yields a level 30 blue weapon. But for this one you're looking at level 37+ mobs. The ch.15 greenskin epic quest yields green level 30 boots. It's all a bit slapdash.

The Ugly: Broken PQs. This is a bad thing. Gaarawarr's epic PQ crawl puts this into stark perspective. Look at all the busted PQs in that recap, particularly in Tier 4. A real shame. My personal bane has been the Lonely Tower (ch. 15 chaos) which has like 3 or 4 different broken bits:

1. final boss may completely reset at any point in the fight.
2. PQ refuses to leave stage one, even when completed.
3. PQ refuses to start stage three, after all the skeles in stage 2 (that are above the ground and visible) are slain.
4. Random junk.

Here's a couple screenies from lonely tower to illustrate my point:

t4 Art & ambience

The Good: It's all good. T4 really is quite gorgeous. Altdorf is gorgeous, Praag is fantastic, the Chaos Wastes are brooding and crazy, Thunder Mountain is brilliant, even the elf zones, in particular I love Dragonwake, are great ... all yawning chasms and elegant, absurd bridges and lonely, graceful towers. Just really lovely.

So there you have it. Gorgeous zones, a bit of bugginess and lag, brutal PvP ... tier 4 is a different thing to be sure. I think I may just have to forget RvR altogether. Or alternately, give in to it completely. The old standby of queuing for scenarios while I'm grinding PQ influence doesn't seem to translate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ten Probing Questions

Girl IRL tries to breath a little life into the somewhat sleepy WAR blogging community with 10 probing questions. They're good questions too, and I'm happy to play along.

1. What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)? Explain how you chose the name.

Czarnal. So this is a good example of how I choose names. I get a feel for the character class/race and then I sort of dig through names I like from fiction other games whatever. In this case, I'd just finished Neil Gaiman's American Gods which has a russian (I guess) god in it named Czernobog. Cool name, I thought. So I toyed with different variations on that name until I reached Czarnal. Now, truly, when I was reading the book, I was pronouncing the name Chair-no-bog in my head, may or may not be right, but after I'd picked Czarnal and started leveling him, I realized that my toon's name would likely be prounded Zar-nal (which is uncomfortably close to Arnold) insted of (Char-nal) as I had imagined. Oh well. Them's the breaks.

2. What was the name of your very first character in an MMO? Explain how you chose that name.

My first MMO character was in WoW ... a female night elf rogue (original, I know). Her name was Ashran. Yeah, I got in pretty early. The idea for that name came from an RPG character I'd had named Intima Ashrain. ... Modify and enjoy. Other WoW toon names I've had that I quite like: Bellacose (from bellicose ...modify obscure words into names is good too) and Sephira (from Sephiroth, FFVII) I guess Sephira is also an Eragon character, but it was accidental.

Oh, another naming thing. I like names that shorten nicely. People aren't going to type your full name, so think of how they'll truncate it. This can go really wrong, as my friend Tanith found out in WoW when his pally's name got shortened from Mordesa to ...



3. Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game?

No, I'm not really about that. Each character deserves a fresh name imo.

4. Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later? If so, what are they and why do you hold on them?

I don't. See 3 above. I feel like I can find a good name even if lots are taken.

5. Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character?

Czarnal is ...well a tank class, but now he's specced DPS (Rending Blade, natch)... we'll see what happens post-rending blade nerf.

I really don't see the point to speccing corruption. I'm sure there's good tanking stuff in there, but it seems pretty thin ROI given that a lot of speccing in WAR (at least for chosen) is upgrading damage from your various attacks.

6. What archetype was your very first character in an MMO? Why did you choose it?

Ashran as I've said was a rogue, melee dps. MDPS is a good starter role i think. Gets you up close to the action, decent soloability, not too much responsibility.

7. Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally? Why?

Well I like to tank and to heal for the responsibility that comes in those roles. I like ranged DPS the least, though my raiding main in WoW (Sephira) was a warlock and I did a lot of content that way. Too easy to autopilot for my tastes.

8. What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play?

I miss the breadth and complexity of WoW's dungeons. So many of them, most with fun complications and interesting designs.

9. Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free? Which and why?

I might play WoW again if it was free, or LOTRO which is yin to WAR's yang. Maybe Lineage II just for the sexy characters?

10. How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)?

Tricky. I think I've always sort of judged by fairly basic guides: do I have endgame gear? Have I done end-game content? When the end-game of an MMO is really working there is no end, so I try to be flexible. I was very pleased right before I quit WoW to have met a couple goals: got an arena ranking on my disc priest and had a more-or-less matched set of gear on my rogue. I wanted to kill Illidan on Sephira, but though my guild killed him and I worked on the fight, I never participated in a kill. Still, it was a good run.


so there you have it!

I'm going to chain-letter this bad boy to Rivs at Way of the Chosen, Tulane at Incoming Pull, Goody at The Captain's Blog and Grimnir at Grimnir's Grudge.

Post your own or get seven years of bad luck, so says I. Readers are invited to post their own in the comments. Fellow Children of the Raven, that means you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Imagine there's no healers ... I wonder if you could

WARNING: The following is a general MMO post, not WAR specific.

So a while back, I was discussing a hypothetical MMO with my friend and fellow WAR-player, Tanith (aka Bellagoth). In this hypothetical MMO there weren't any healer classes. We wondered, could you do it? What effect would it have on the game?

Here's what we came up with, as I recall:

• all classes would have some healing abilities
• boss fights would shorter, as you couldn't build them assuming PC's would go through several times their normal hit point allotment.
• some people would be turned off by the loss of that role.

Is it doable? Absolutely. What would the combat in game look like ... not entirely sure, but it would likely be much more intimidating.

Recently, as I was thinking about this conversation, I was wondering about the other iconic MMO role: the tank. Could you do away with the tank?

I'm reminded in all of this of D&D. The pen and paper sort. Before 4th edition you certainly had fighters with armor and shields, but they didn't have the stickiness that you find in an MMO tank .. they couldn't taunt, there was no threat.

Also, in D&D, while there has always been healers, at least since good ol'AD&D, virtually all of their heals were touch range only. Moreover, they had a very limited amount of heals.

So imagine, if you will, that there is no tanks and no healers ... there would still be ranged vs. melee types, and probably light armor vs. heavy armor types, but imagine that all of those classes could do some of the things a tank does: debuff, taunt, temporarily increase damage absorption or avoidance. If the only sort of tanking was one that was shareable by all, then how might roles be assigned and how would combat play out?

Furthermore, for the sake of argument, lets imagine that each character has some sort of very limited healing ... whether its a long-cooldown group HoT or a self-heal or what have you ... or imagine instead that everyone has a WoW-shammy style self-rez.

I guess to avoid nitpicking I should also assume that these abilities are balanced such that one doesn't clearly outweigh another.

In the resulting game you'd have parties where each player could contribute in all aspects of the fight. Monster damage would have to be juggled between individuals, or they'd have to be crowd-controlled or kited. Everyone in that world is a hero, no one is there to support someone else.

But is that better? While you could still have class diversity, some might miss the specialization that comes with being a great tank or a great healer. Some might prefer to support others (which you could still do, but less potently). It might also encourage the bad play we often see in PvP: everyone attacking willy-nilly without organization or structure.

On the other hand, it would mean that you wouldn't have to have someone playing a healer, playing a tank ... everyone could be a hero capable of dealing the final blow, of finishing off the badly wounded boss, of soloing the difficult champion.

I like tanking and healing both, but I wonder if without them MMOs might not be more dynamic. When you try doing a hard PQ or a keep lord without a tank or a healer you find yourself improvising, working harder, pushing yourself, I wonder if you could build that in to a workable system.

Blogger confessional

So Wall of Text has an interesting little set of questions for bloggers that I'd like to take a stab at in my ongoing effort to talk about myself all the time.

1. Do most MMO bloggers change their game more than their underwear?

I played Wow for over three years, and in that time I changed my underwear at least once ... maybe even twice. Since I've been blogging and playing WAR I have not changed my underwear, so I guess I can't answer that question truthfully yet.

2. Do we have secretly compete with other MMO bloggers for attention?

Secretly? No. I like to think of blogging as a war with other bloggers, rather than a competition, which might imply some sort of friendliness. And instead of attention, I consider blogging a battle of reputation and credibility. I am constantly working to undermine my "fellow bloggers" one post at a time.

3. Can we ever stick with one game longer than 2 weeks without ranting about what is wrong with it?

Okay seriously, there's two things here worth discussing, one that discussing issues with a game is potentially equal to ranting about what's wrong with it (totally inferring this by the way, maybe not intended) and secondly, actual ranting and complaining. I'll ignore the two-week thing, since its mostly for effect (as in, we do it constantly).

Yes we point out issues. We do this so that, one, people know that they're not alone in the trouble they have with a game, and, two, that we can share perspective on it. Is our perspective more valuable than say Johnny-Posts-a-lot on a given forum? Yes it is. Here's why. Blogging is more a more involved enterprise than posting to a forum. It's less of a pissing-contest. Sure there's some pissing involved but we're forwarding a brand and trying to make it valuable, so we're less likely to just wail pointlessly. Though obviously, that happens too.

But it shouldn't, in my mind. Certainly anyone can blog about any thing, but for me, I wouldn't put the time in if I didn't care about the game and want it to succeed. Why I would spend time constructing posts about a game I just wanted to kvetch about, I can't imagine.

4. Why should developers read us when they know we just are going to cry more?

Begging the question. You assume that we will cry more, but I think that's an exageration. Maybe you're reading the wrong blogs. Most of the ones I read are happy to see improvements. Sure, there will be more complaints, but that's because no MMO is ever perfect, no system is flawless and completely realized and untouchably awesome, so why not share your concerns, frustrations and ideas?

5. Do we really think we are going to be web famous from this?

I write this blog to communicate with and maybe get in-game contact from smart, saavy WAR players, and because I've read and enjoyed other blogs. Hopefully somebody out there gets a little enjoyment from this one.

And also I'm trying to get a hot suit of armor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Malekith, Professions, and Master Looter revisited

A gallimaufry of WAR thoughts for you today.

The king is dead, long live the king. Grats to the euros who brought down Karl Franz. While I agree with Tulane's generally annoyed stance on the community response, I do think that 14 hours is pretty long, and I suspect that the whole process will get a nerf to make it easier.

Having said that, the first time my old guild cleared karazhan it took us like three nights? after gear and experience improved we were clearing it in like 3 hours.

But yeah, I think they'll nerf it, and here's why: Tomb kings. When you start diluting the end game player pool, especially when they haven't mastered the current content, you're probably going to need to nerf the old content to get it done.

And moreover: Malekith. So at some point I expect we'll see Malekith and the other various faction leaders in killable form. When they come in, where do they slot in, experience-wise? Are these subordinate leaders going to drop comparable or better loot? If not, why do them? Maybe they'll be easier to kill. If so, people work toward that target instead of Tcharzanek ... and you're back to the nerf equation.

Maybe I'm missing an option here, but I think that there's a potential narrative/progression problem here.

I agree with Snafzg Whoa that was weird to write. His post on crafting is spot on. A couple of notes: Butchering is a really a chore. Beasts aren't as plentiful in PQs or quest areas as humanoids, and the returns from beasts aren't exciting... pretty much one level of drop. The good thing about butchering, what's now missing from scavenging, is drop-relevance. Cats drop cat sinews, birds drop feathers etc. In old-timey scavenging (oh sweet old-timey scavenging) that was also the case.

Not any more. Now the drops are totally mob-independent, which is kind of boring. On the plus side, there are rare drops. Rare and very rare curios, and the grand prize, very rare level fragments.

Salvaging pretty much sucks for the absence of both of these: no relevance to what your salvaging (Well it has to have the stat for the fragment) and no randomness.

Also, why do you only need one gathering for apothecary but need both for talisman-making. And if you need both, why do they both need to gather fragments? There's so many fragments between salvagers and scavengers, that they're basically valueless, except for the rarer ones.

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus The PQ master looter is working great, by the way. A couple of follow up notes to this, for those of you who aren't taking advantage of it:
1. you can set up master looter during the final boss kill of the PQ, maybe after even, but I can't confirm that.
2. set loot type to all (default is uncommon). this is the thing that was failing it so often for me.
3. turn off auto-looting. Probably you can work around this, but it makes it much easier.
4. master looter should be given to high bag winner. I've actually only ever done it when I was party-leader and high roll winner, so maybe the other doesn't work, but I suspect it does.
5. After you've been master looted a bag, you can then go pick up the bag you rightfully won.

I'm sure this info is out there elsewhere, but I thought I'd share my findings. Good luck and good hunting.

Pet Peeves I think this was a WAR blogger meme right before I got started, but I'm gonna list mine anyway. Complaining in bullet-form isn't complaining at all!
  • Clipping: A while back Dont had a big post about graphics that is worth a read, but for my money the big problem is clipping. It's really quite bad.

  • stuck: I've gotten stuck riding my horse and in a keep. If I'm jumping off cliffs or whatever, fine I'll give you that, but in a keep? Riding near a path? a bit aggravating. Also, the only way out is to hearth (er ... bind?) ... sort of a pain.

  • inventory responsiveness: particulary I'm thinking AH and mailbox. The mailbox as a whole is just really sluggish and frustrating. I love the bulk mail, but the auction house mailbox is ridiculous ... can't I just get the gold deposited and a receipt? It's pretty painful at the moment. Also, my bag sorting preferences apparently cause stacks to break apart and items I'm trying to mail to shift position and then not be mail-able? Or maybe that's just the mail system being fritzy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Vending Machine

WAR is seemingly built on a fairly straightforward premise, one that rings very familiar to the consumer in us all: Have it your way, right away. It's a vending machine mentality. Lots of choices, easy to get at.

What do you want to do? Let us make it easy for you. Scenarios, quests, PQs, oRvR ... they're all just a click away. The rallying cry is the latest step in this direction, adding more convenience, and the "arena" and multi-tier city-defense scenarios upcoming are yet more options, and on it goes.

But this is a good thing, right? Well, yes. And maybe no. It's often very pleasant. It minimizes waiting around, searching, riding aimlessly. Or it intends to at least, your mileage may vary. There's a lot to do, at every level of gameplay, and each of those things is easy to do. You get buffed up in level in both oRvR and scenarios, so you can hypothetically contribute as soon as, or even before, you enter a tier's level-range.

The downside is the thinning of the waters ... each element takes playtime from the others. If you think that WAR should be all about oRvR, then you probably wish there were fewer or less appealing competing options that suck players from the oRvR lakes. If you want to do nothing but PvE, you might have a parallel response: that it's too easy or too lucarative to do RvR, that encourage participation in RvR at the cost of PvE.

The second downside is immersion. If everything is sort stripped of locational meaning then the world doesn't feel solid. Where exactly are Nordenwatch or the Stone Troll Crossing? (okay maybe you know where these things are. I don't). Is Talabecland really right next to High Pass? The design of the world emphasizes narrative connection and ease of access over world shaping, which comes at the cost of immersion. I don't really understand how the pieces fit together. I'm not sure that they do fit together, honestly, as they're constructed. It seems like the world is built on a premise, rather than a map.

So, what's the take away? It is what it is. I think the loss of immersion is a significant one, but the added convenience of the structure, as well as the nice narrative flow of moving as you level up the battlelines toward both your own capital and the enemies are positives.

I think that the wide array of options are competing against each other, but if you have less to do, do you reduce your player base, and consequently have fewer people to take part in your fewer choices? I don't know.

I think that WAR works. For me it works. But it is this odd thing: this vending machine game of many choices.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Drop Dye Colors

Hey hey, it's a non-april fool's day post. Shout out to all the funny and well-done Fool's Day posts out there. Of what I've seen, Thulf and Rivs win the prizes, and Dont's post is also quite funny.

What I offer you, gentle reader, is less amusing, but hopefully helpful. A quick look at some of the various drop and cultivating dyes out there and what they actually look like. You can get also get screenshots of the various dyes from wardb but having the context of a comparison, is I think worth a look. I've provided some vendor dyes as context.

Blazing Orange
Scorched Brown
Made from resinous brown extract (cultivating)
Dark Red
common quality drop
Red Gore
made from fiery red ant extract (cultivating)
Warlock Purple
drop dye shown, but same as vendor

Regal Blue

Midnight Blue
Seaguard Blue
made from blue bottle fly extract (cultivating)

Scaly Green
Oddly enough the drop Scaly Green that I had previewed like this:
Which is the same as Goblin Green
Made from verdant leaf extract (cultivating)

Obviously a lot missing here. I'll try to update as I acquire more dye, and screenshot submissions are welcome.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

OMG I Win! Yay!

Thanks to Tulane at Incoming Pull and Goody at The Captain's Blog for the nod in the sticky ... er ... keyboard award deal. I figured by process of elimination I'd get one of these eventually, but I'll admit I was starting to get worried.

I'm delighted to accept this "prestigious" "award" on behalf of the whole team here at Homunculus Labs. Both of my readers will be only moderately surprised to see that someone else has visited the page and apparently found it amusing. Seriously though, the blogging community for WAR is one of the things that keeps me so involved with this game, and much love to Tulane, Goody, and all the other awesome bloggers out there, even those who didn't include me on their lists.

So here's my list of seven blogs worthy of your adoration. All of these folks are probably on someone else's list already, and if not they should be:

1. Dark Crag Dispatch. Squin and Wicce are really just embarrasing the rest of us with how awesome they are. Not afraid to tackle big topics or to tell funny, somewhat embarrasing stories. A must-read.

2. Waaagh. Well, it's bio break now, but really, Syp is the gold standard. I'll read his blog whatever it's called.

3. Blame the Healer. Dont provides a great mix of insight, humor and perspective. Great features like the duels as well as some much needed love for WAR's healers.

4.Wide Eyed Newb A very engaging voice and some fantastic features, like the dark elf quest-giver flowchart and the how-to-seduce-a-witch-elf walkthrough.

5.Girl IRL Jennifer writes fantastic blog posts about things you and I don't think to write about, or don't write about nearly as well.

6. Stunty Stomper Thulf's blog is a different sort of beast. Not the sort of pablum you get from this blog, but a classier, more informative type of read. Polished presentation and a balanced, sage voice.

7. Way of the Chosen In addition to the tongue-in-cheek title of the blog, Rivs is always doling out the news and views for those of us who aren't as swift. Learned me plenty about playing a chosen and is a blog I look forward to reading every day.

And here's 10 possibly true, marginally interesting things about yours truly:

1. I have very little patience for complainers. If you don't like a game, don't play it. If something is bad, make a useful suggestion.

2. I have an autistic son. five years old. He once caused a raid-wipe on Archimonde in Mt. Hyjal (that's a WoW thing).

3. I'm a long-time pen-and-paper roleplayer, and I love to really get into character when I do that, but I have zero-to-no interest in playing an MMO on an RP server.

4. I've completed a first draft of a young adult fantasy novel and am in the painful process of editing the beast.

5. I like PvE more than PvP. There I admitted it.

6. I was working in Washington DC during 9/11 and the beltway sniper. Not fun. At all.

7. I have a master's degree that I don't use. But it's in English, so I guess that shouldn't be surprising.

8. I still think Paul Barnett is funny.

9. I no longer believe that Mark Jacobs is telling it like it is.

10. I like big butts.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ekrund Arena

The most interesting item from the upcoming patch notes is the creation of a special 6v6 gates of ekrund scenario.

Now I'm not sure what's so dire about leveling from 19-24 ... 19-21 is the creamy center of tier 2 oRvR, and 23-24 is like the coziest time to do t3 scenarios, renown and xp-wise, as well as a nice to time to do PQs when the rewards are rich (god forbid people have to PvE).

but fine 19-24. I'm sure they have data on this.

Anywho, 6v6 scenarios I think are a good idea. It's a poor man's arena, in some ways. Obviously you pug this at your own risk, but unlike larger group pvp, this gives the individual a significant role to play in the team's failure or success. It's a size that should allow more organization and strategy.

We'll see. I'll be interested to try it out. Should be a fun variation on the usual scenario play.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Super Epic Chosen Armor Prototype

As a service to the fine armor designers at Mythic, I'm going to share my top-secret, state of the art, prototype ultra-high-end armor set design. For the chosen, naturally. Images here are a proof of concept, so you'll need to a little touch up, porbably, but as you'll see, i've done most of the heavy lifting for you.

So, we'll start with the fruit-of-the-loom apple:

Simple but lovely in his own way. Obviously we'll need an awesome helmet.

The most awesome possible helmet?

The gigantic eyeball:

Just think of the cool special on use abilities that sucker could have ... death ray, x-ray vision (hey ladies!), uh ... telescopic zoom? And, scorchingly hot.

You are probably reeling from the awesomeness, but I have not yet begun to blow your mind.

Shoulders. Ol' apple boy doesn't have any, but when he's super endgame-tastic, I hope he'll have these state-of-the-art zealot shoulders:

Two wee healers, constantly showering the chosen with HoTs. So money.

After the shoulders and helm, the most important piece of armor is the chestplate. Czarnal hopes to rock the Inevitable City commemorative chest plate when he's battling ... er ... Sigmar or something:

Not only is this a lovingly crafted representation of the Inevitable City, but paradoxically, it is also the actual inevitable city... and has a built in Auction House and Bank (It's Chaos, baby). Every Tank deserves one of these bad boys.

Gloves ... they do more than cover your hands, they also carry your weapons, so the highest of the high-end will help you carry even more:

That's right these sweethearts are equipped with additional hands. Two hander and two shields? Yes we can.

Boots. Two parts to the boot design, as any elite boot designer will tell you. The knee and the foot. For the knee, I prefer a troll head, but really any scary monster bit will do. For the foot: flames.

now that is an armor set with all the panache and verve and ... zing? you could possibly want. But, you ask nervously, how does it look all together. The answer: Awesome.

Still, something is missing. Ah, of course. The belt. Well given the finely tuned balance of the aesthetic effect here, you'll probably want to go subtle. And I agree.

My choice: Bloodthirster head.

Preferably the bloodthirster head will make some sort of bloodthirster-y noises: slavering, bellowing, paeans to Khorne, that sort of thing.

So there you have it. The pinnacle of chosen armor design. You don't have to thank me, I'm happy to help out.

By the way, I'll be 40 soon, so you can just send me my set in the mail.