Friday, February 27, 2009

how ya doin

After three chicken-ings in close succession, two of which came in PvE zones, I decided to finally bid adieu to Tier 2. I'm only a night or so into Tier 3, but I've been lucky enough to do a fair bit of content.

Scenarios You know the one thing I didn't think when I was doing Mourkain Temple is "This place needs more lava!," but know I've got the molten core of scenarios: atmospheric but repetitive design: check, lava deaths aplenty (at least for me): check. Now all we need is Major Domo getting a smack down.

Temple of Isha was new, and I like it, its like a mini-siege mechanic. Maybe I like it because we crushed order. That usually helps.

The other one, Black Fire Basin I guess, was ... er, capture the flag again. Someone thought that Phoenix Gate was good, but what if it were like really huuuuge.

I'm not so sure. And what's with the glowy ball in the middle of the map? I spent a long time trying to click that dang thing.

I was very pleased with my ability to contribute. Not sure how much mileage I got out of my dischord spec healing debuff aura, but I felt like i was providing utility, so that's something.

And the rewards for doing scenarios? Daang. One scenario netted me 19k XP and nearly 4k renown. That is serious ROI.

Also did some PQs, but not enough to have a great feel for them yet. Did some quests in badlands, and was reminded how pleasant questing is in WAR. The interface is so good.

Speaking of which, Squin has a very nice WAR v. WoW post on Dark Crag Dispatch noting the quest interface (even with addons its not even funny how much better WAR is) and the kill rate/rest differences. Good stuff.

So yeah, T3, how ya doin? I'm looking forward to taking your loots.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

blogging the business of WAR

It seems like there's a growing number of bloggers writing predictive columns about WAR's business end -- the subscriber base, profitability, whatever. I understand why this is interesting to the people writing about it, but I'm not convinced that it's very useful.

Let's assume that everyone blogging about WAR's likelihood of long-term success or chances of survival or whatever knows more about this than you and me. Even given that, what's the benefit of these predictions to the reader? Aside from generating fear of investing time into the game, it doesn't do me much good.

Obviously anybody can blog about whatever they want (yay internet), but if you want WAR to succeed, if you are invested in the game, then I think this sort of conjecture is pretty self-sabotaging.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WAR Tier 1 v. WoW 1-15: A Tale of the Tape

As I've mentioned before, I came to WAR after playing World of Warcraft for over three years. In that time I made a lot of alts and levelled in every starting zone. I've basically done everything there is to do levels 1-15 in WoW.

In WAR, I'm less experienced but I've made enough alts and done enough Tier 1 in destruction side that I have a pretty good feel for what's on offer. So I'd like to present the following comparison for the amusement of you, my gentle reader:

Zone designInteresting, dramatic zones that express the race's aesthetic and the conflict at play.Stylish, safe zones.
Winner: WAR The WAR starter zones are more varied and better represent the standing conflict. The detail of the landscapes and style of the art direction really draw you into the world. Some of the 8-15 WoW zones really shine, particularly Westfall and the Ghostlands, others are a bit monotone.
EngagementGood movement through a variety of war camps with early quests to explore the other pairings helps draw you into the range of available actions, and the tome unlocks further reinforce the narrative and experience. Quests are a mixed bag, but are seldom narratively powerful.Great quest flow pushes you into your race's story arc and keep you moving in a basically linear course. Zone transfering is available but can be cumbersome.
Winner: WoW in a nailbiter. Great quest pathing and simple options help to push you into your character. Some of the gain here though comes at the cost of range and option.
ItemizationYou can actually acquire gear for all your slots in Tier One, and with dyes and influence rewards, there's pretty quick gear replacement. Often times the gear you're replacing will look the same, however. Some very nice looks, that really suggest the class's style come by midway through the tier.Well, there's lots of options, if you can find them. But you'll be forced into stat-based choices with no customization available. Many slots will remain unfilled until near the end of this stage or throughout. Much of the gear is unappealing and/or dorky.
Winner: WAR Dyeing can get expensive but can yield remarkable effect. gear choices may be fewer but what you get is better looking by far.
CraftingEarly and easy access to crafting, at no cost, and easy and quick to level the early parts. Relatively low gathering requirements for what you produce. The downside is that you often can't go too far in your craft without auction house luck or an alt.Many more choices, recipes, drops. Gathering is less interesting in yield and more often a seperate task. Harder but with more choices.
Winner: WoW WAR crafting is getting an overhaul that will offset this somewhat and the difference here is by design. Crafting is less robust, but less demanding in WAR.
Group PVE Content:PQs for days. No dungeons to speak of, but so many PQs -- offering varied experiences, a feeling of earning your drops and influence rewards to supplement the experience.A handful of dungeon opportunities (Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, and SFK right at the upper limit of these levels (all marked at 16/17+) and ragefire chasm means you have a few good dungeon runs opportunites, right at the end of these levels. Most of the time your group content will come from quests against elite mobs. These can be fun but offer meager rewards. Once you get to the dungeons you are in for a treat, particularly from deadmines and wailing caverns.
Winner: WAR Deadmines is better than any of the T1 PQs by a longshot but its right at the edge of WoW's Tier One. Most of the time you are killing hogger and undead miners. Not that great.
PvPobjective based outdoor RvR yielding easy-to-earn rewards, with separate reward grinds for each pairing, three lively scenarios to join from anywhere in the world, and a renown levelling system encourages, nay demands that you PvP. You will and you will enjoy it. Oh and there's renown gear too.Ha ha ha. No. I guess you could do battlegrounds at 11-15, but it will really suck. You will be mercilessly ganked by level 19 twinks in rare gear with level 60 enchants. It will be soul sapping. Eventually you might earn some decent gear, but you can't wear it until level 18+. There's some world PvP on open servers, if you leave the protected zones, or seek it out, but it will be horrible as well. Level 80s will loiter around to corpse camp you (yes it happens).
Winner: WAR No, it's not really even close.

So the take away from this is don't worry about the buzz, don't worry about the company. Don't buy into the hype that there's no PvE, that half-empty zones are a death knell for WAR. There is PVE, the early zones and experience is still fun. Enjoy the game. Make up alts and replay tier one if the later game is that bad. Tier One WAR trounces level 1-15 WoW. It's not even close, and unlike WoW, the early parts of WAR are still getting better.

Maybe there are other, better tier ones out there in the MMO world, but too often people say WAR isn't doing well enough, so it sucks. This is a major logical fallacy. The game I'm playing is a lot of fun. More fun than WoW, the gold standard for MMO success. So don't piss on Mythic for not conquering the world. They made a good game, and are making it better. It's up to players who enjoy the game to spread the word, to recruit and to support it.

Keep Sieges again

So last night offered another abortive attempt to take a defended keep. Someone in the warband asked how many order were defending and when told around a dozen, replied "and we're a full warband? What's the problem?" It's a fair question. Honestly, for a PvP-centric game i'm a bit surprised that people are so easily flustered. Straggling through the keep lord room, arriving in different groups, pathing in different ways to the pad or stairs: these things get you wiped.

So I left that warband as it floundered for a reason to exist and switched zones (to the elf t2 pairing). There I saw some other warband refugees loitering around in a zone that had an order defense around the keep and order controlled keep and objectives.

"Want to take BOs?" Yes, yes they did. So we formed a little group: Czarnal, a witch elf and a level 12 DoK. We gathered another on the way to the Unicorn Siege Camp objective.

There we handily took out the objective and an order defender. A couple more trickled in to their demise.

We took the other objective and our group started to swell, by the time we'd grabbed the second objective in Ellyrion we had two full parties, and people were talking keep siege.

Problem: only healer was the level 12 DoK. So I presented my patented strategy (tanking, focused DPS killing champs first and then Hero). The not-surprsing response: why kill the champs?

We went to the keep, and tried to run through to the pad. Surprise, our DoK dies on the way in, as do I trying to defend everybody else. That's why we kill the champs people.

Run back from Shadowlands, killing a WH on the way back (thanks for the renown, pal!)

Meanwhile, the rest of our WB: 2 tanks and something like 9 dps at this point are burning down champs ... with no healers.

This is my point. It's not hard.

We get back and handily, from the pad, kill the hero with 2 groups and only one healer.

If there had been order there would we have succeeded? probably not, but it's not unimaginable. Frankly we probably could have done it without the healer (though he did a great job). we had three high-level tanks. Taunt rotations, debuffs, and knockdowns will do wonders of mitigating damage.

So the project continues. I'll call it the Pug Tactics Project. Can a PuG be trained on the fly to succeed against difficult conditions? I think so, but time will tell.


Random Interlude

Orcs with bows? That guy's gotta have some self-image issues.

"Bows iz for gobbos! I no gobbo!"

/sobs uncontrollably

Sunday, February 22, 2009

warband assumptions

So maybe I wrong about the whole warband thing, but I think people (at least in my server/tier) are really unnecessarily spooked by the whole keep siege thing, and I think the reason is bad organization.

Let me try to work through this.

How many tanks, healers, and dps to kill 4 champs at the same time. Assume the tank is the same level as the champs. 1/1/1? Something like that. Say worse case it's 2/2/2 So that's one party in your warband. Maybe the champs in keeps are unusually fearsome, but if so, it hasn't been obvious to me.

So then there's a hero, say 1 tank, 3 dps, 2 healers. That's a second group. 2 groups with: 3 tanks, 4 healers, 5 dps should be plenty to quickly kill all five NPCs in the keep main chamber. Also, if you actually kill the champs, you have an easier time when the opposing faction shows up to defend, and can reassign all the champ crew to PvP or to hero killing.

so 2 decent groups. Then you need enough extra to deal with defending players. Assume that they are not organized, at least initially. You shouldn't need more players than they have, right? Let's say one group: 1 tank, 2 healers, 3 dps for that too. Though probably you could do 5 dps, 1 healer in a kill squad.

simple assignments:

champ team tanks and kills champs, pvp defense (aka Kill squad) helps kill champs until defenders show up. Hero team tanks and burns down hero.

That's it. Is this bad math? Maybe I'm wrong, I haven't had that much experience with all this, so maybe my assumptions are incorrect. But if not, then bad leadership/poor tactics devalues your group by ~25% or more: a full warband with the pad or renown stair "strategies" and nothing else will often wipe against less than a single party of defenders.

I lead a small warband last night, but we were too tiny (2 healers, 2 tanks, 4 dps) to take a keep, and our one attempt met up with a full order warband, so yeah, who knows. I'd be interested in other perspectives or experiences. Maybe i'm missing something.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Patch Note Notes" or "Don't Take Away My Dryad Husks"

So I finally bothered to look at the professions patch notes. Interesting stuff and promising I think. One change that will have a big effect on Czarnal (which they bafflingly refer to as a minor change): Scavenging will no longer drop apothecary reagents.

This makes sense: two gathering per crafting. The problem is that some of us are Scavenger/Apothecaries.

This was in my opinion probably the optimal combination. It's the only one I can think of that required no supplemantary gathering skill. Currently I can scavenge water and apothecary main ingredients. Cultivation? Where's your water, hon?

Now maybe Butchering provides water, but if it does I'm raising the bullshit flag. Spiders shouldn't carry bottled water is what I'm saying.

So now my lovely combination is completely hosed. What do I do? Respec to Talisman? Ugh and ugh. I may have to abandon scavenging, which I would hate as it is now.

Currently, scavenging is fantastically evocative. Much of the scavenging loot is nicely coordinated with what you are killing. Skeletons drop grimy grave dirt, or ghostly knucklebones. Dryads drop dryad husks, Nurglings drop demonic whiskers. Humans drop leeches and fleas, which is gross, but also pretty expressive of the world.

In the new order I guess they'll all drop fragments instead. It makes sense and is fairer I guess, but still ... I'll miss my horse leeches.

F**k You Friday

Borrowed liberally from Achewood, it's Fuck You Friday. Here we go:

1. Bad Warband Leaders: Seriously, fuck you. Last night a number of destro parties were defending the keep in Marshes of Madness and merged into a warband. The new leaders were a certain guild who will remain nameless, but who I had grouped with before to less than stellar results.

The leadership orders us in all caps to go to Shadowlands. When any questions are asked, they are met with derision and insult. We ride to Elly and charge into the keep, and then up to the renown level. The plan is to jump down to the pad. Not sure why we needed to go to the third floor but there we were. And there we stayed. DONT JUMP DOWN. WAIT. Then nothing for like 10 minute. Meanwhile Order shockingly reinforces the position. Still nothing. They are planning in vent they say. We should join their vent if we want to contribute they say. But nothing is happening. Free tips:
A. assign tasks.
B. Communicate with your warband
C. Don't make it unnecessarily complicated
D. Don't bring underlevel people into the warband (level 8 in tier 2 = awesome). It's not classy.
D. Don't be dicks.

A bunch of us left at that point, and no doubt it all amounted to nothing. Awesome work guys, you are an inspiration.

2. Talisman Making level 49 why is it so freaking hard to find level 25 talisman ingredients? Why is it so hard to get from 40 to 50? Why have I not levelled from 49 to 50 after 6+ talismans all with level 25 ingredients. I've made this handy graphic to summarize the experience:

That is all. Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Destination: Volkmar

Just saw the herald item that announces free server transfers from Sylvania, and Azazel to Volkmar (and other lesser servers). I'm psyched that Volkmar is a destination server for two (probably obvious) reasons:

1. more people = more good times. Friend or foe. More characters is more action. Hit me up for a PQ or a warband! Or let me know your order character so I can /salute you as you own me.

2. bonus XP and renown for the big fat win. Don't get me wrong, I think levelling is reasonably paced, at least so far, but I do love a good bonus.

So if you have a say ~ level 18ish alt languishing on one of those servers, transfer on over and hit me up for some PQ or warband goodness. You know you want to. And remember our slogan:

Volkmar -- come for the endless war, stay for the cheese.

Seven Favorites

When Syp commands, Czarnal obeys. ... Eventually.

So my selection of favorites will be skewed by my lack of WAR experience, but anyway, here ya go:

Favorite Zone: Inevitable City, baby! Seriously, this is the sickest city in MMOs: the Lyceum, the soulless servants, the pursuing fleshhounds ... its all good. It's the only place I've ever gotten one-shotted while I was walking around, twice in the same night, and been happy about it. It's dangerous and weird and dark. Love it. Now if only there were a crafting vendor near the Soul Vaults.

Favorite Race: Chaos. No brainer for me. Chaos is I think a riskier race-concept than you might think. It's not evil in a pretty way, it's not simply blood or cruel. It's deranged and diabolic and occasionally diseased and decripit. You've got your twisted mutants, your hunched lunatics ... that's good times.

Favorite Career: Chosen. This is sort of a default choice, given that I've only really played chosen and zealot. But I will say that tanking and pvp is a lot more fun and more interesting with the chosen than it was as a warrior. There's no simple sequence to holding aggro and/or mitigating damage, at least that I've figured, and no two button PVP strategy (spamstring + mortal strike ftw). So maybe it's a default choice, but pretty fun nonetheless.

Favorite WAR Feature: Public Quests. Seriously I love these lil guys. Sequenced fights, mini-dungeons, itsy-bitsy rep grinds ... call them what you will. They are pure PvE goodness.If I could get steady groups together I would do these all the time.

Favorite Skill: Guard. This is a seriously primo tanking skill. Not flashy, but so money. It's a classic two-birder: you got a high aggro party-member? Give him some extra mitigation and reduce the chance he pulls aggro. Also great way to show a healer a little love.

Favorite Scenario: Nordenwatch still, but it's closer than I would have thought. My reactions have changed since I wrote this. I like Mourkain Temple more now, as I have a better feel for the mechanic, and khaine's embrace, which I've enjoyed on my zealot. While Nordenwatch hasn't been nearly as interesting on the zealot as it was on Czarnal.

Favorite Live Event: Night of Murder. Another default answer for me, as it's the only one i've done, but I liked it. Got me out there sieging keeps, killing stubborn sinseekers, and generally mucking about. Plus I got to hang out with the hags!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lursa's Blight

This is a very fun PQ that I highly recommend. Go in cold, no hints or guidance, with a decent group and see how you do. Go ahead, I'll wait. Spoilers below.


You done now? See, totally cool!

Lursa's Blight is a three stage PQ with a couple interesting tricks.

Stage two: you have to kill 9 rot bearers. They are spawned in packs of three, all champs natch. What you don't expect is that they will resurrct each other, taking away your kill credits in the process. So what do you do? We tried a couple stategies (moving away from spawn point, kiting etc) before finding the right one: kill them all at the same time. Seems simple, but that's the fun of trying something you don't know the trick to.

The third stage has another wrinkle: the hero spawns with three normal adds. You kill them first of course, but then, wait, they all respawned. So you have to adjust to that one too.

This is the heart of what makes PvE fun. Surprising encounters and different kinds of challenges that require you to think on your feet, putting different responsibilities on the group members, forcing different, better play out of the group members.

RvR can do this too, but often it too becomes rote, and it tends to hone certain skills and strategies, rather than encouraging you to develop new strategies and solutions.

Another fun part of PQs is the simple surprise of the unexpected. Don't read the PQ summary before you try the Blightstone Trolls PQ. A fun surprise, at least for our group, and easy enough to do.

What are other great PQs I should seek out? all recommendations are welcome.

Tier One redux

So over the weekend I trotted out my zealot for a second round of chaos tier one. Why did I repeat the same zone? A couple of reasons:

1. I like the chaos starting zones,
2. I wanted to play a zealot and its hard/impractical to move a character from their initial starting zone
3. I was planning on doing the RvR challenge (well,starting from level 3, as I'd already gotten my zealot to 3) so the zone would only matter in terms of rvr lake, and chaos/empire from my earlier experience had an okay one.

So now my Zealot, Xoth, is level 9, and here's my tier one redux notes.

Healers in RvR/scenarios: daaang zealots are fragile. Just brutal. I can churn out some healing, but I can't solo worth a crap and any focus fire sees me crumple.

I think the contrast from playing a tank exacerbates the feeling: the chosen is quite durable, and has at least a chance of soloing most classes. The zealot feels like much more of a support class.

The class you desperately need at one point may not be the same when you reroll: Yeah there's nothing but zealots in Tier One. Nothing like trying to RVR with a gaggle of zealots. Believe me the witch hunters and white lions are not sad.

RvR challenge: yeah no thanks. I did RvR only from 3 to 7 and it was pretty easy really, but it wasn't super fun. A couple of problems for me: gear. I felt I was falling behind on gear pretty early on, that makes RvR harder, or seems to anyway. Waiting: When the scenario queue slowed down, I had nothing to do. The RvR lake was quiet, and when it wasn't quiet it was brutal at level 6 or so. RvR feels more fun to me when its inter-mixed with some PvE. Crafting: no money, few drops makes crafting pretty rough. I have mixed feeling about crafting, but I still want to try it out. Xoth is my talisman crafter and salvager, and RvR didn't help much. Scavenging on the other hand mixes nicely with rvr in my experience.

Lairs, baby! I sort of randomly lucked into a lair run (Camilla the decayed) we were a relatively weak five man and barely scrapped through the fight, but it was good fun, and the drops were quite decent I thought (none for me though). I wish people would do more of these, do more of the hard PQs etc. Which made me wonder, do people do RvR because its more rewarding, or because its more incentivized?

I think there's a portion of the player base who primarily wants to RvR. I had a healer drop group when we were on the final boss of a challenging PQ to do a scenario. Now we had wiped on the boss, but there was time for another try. Weird to me.

I think that if you got renown rank from doing PQs, if the accumulation rewards were better and harder to solo grind (doing stage one over and over) you'd have more solo content.

Let's have a PvE holiday! Dungeon runs for pocket items or trophies, PQ achievements for cloaks etc. Or at least a portion of a holiday that requires PvE. Night of Murder only had the marked mobs requirement, which could be easily farmed in the capital, instead of on PQ endbosses.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sacellum East

So we did a Sacellum East run last night, which was fun. I was very interested to see how dungeons in WAR would work, how they would compare to WoW's dungeons. Aesthetically, I thought Sacellum East was very nice without being particularly fancy or different. Has a good chaos feel to it.

We had a strong group: chosen (moi), black orc, 2 zealots, and 2 marauders. We were probably around level 15 on average. I came armed with Thulf's guide to Sacellum East, which was quite helpful.

Trash consisted of four types of mob: beastman Gors, beastman Ungors, Flesh hounds of Khorne, and flayerkin. The majority of the trash were beastmen in packs of three, all champs naturally. The fleshounds were near the final boss and were in packs of 2 with a beastman handler. The flayerkin were in mobs of 2 or 3 and guarded the four side entrances that lead to the other two bosses. The only tricky part in the trash for us came from body-aggroing a pack of flayerkin that I didn't see (sorry guys!). We survived to my relief. I'd suggest hugging the left wall to avoid the flayerkin adding, or pulling the beastmen packs away from the side passages.

We went straight down to the final boss first, Vul the Bloodchosen. A very cool looking chaos champion type. His fight is a bit boring, honestly. Straight Tank and Spank with really not much in the way of damage spiking or anything. Just a lot of HP to churn through. He dropped 2 set piece items, boots and a helm (magus and blackguard for us, unfortunately) and a green.

The other bosses were also pretty easy, both gigantic Gors. The second of these seemed to have an aggro dump at one point in the fight, when he emotes "enough of this, we fight like heroes" or something to that effect. The first side boss was also tank and spank.

Oh the flayerkin seem to have some sort of cleave or melee aoe ability.

I would go back, and hopefully will get to try the other wings soon. The end boss drops are quite nice and worth the time, which was quite reasonable, IMO. The sidebosses, even though they require almost no extra clearing are hardly worth it. They both dropped level 13 greens for us. Not too impressive but probably worth short side trip.

Probably need two tanks to clear the trash, two healers was certainly nice to have as well. I think a lower level group of six could easily handle it. Only took a little longer than a PQ and a nice change of pace.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chosen:Master Assassin::Shadow Warrior:Actual Warrior

Got my master assassin title last night in a keep lord kill in the Marshes of Madness. Funny that the superior title ("the Murderous") comes so easy and the lesser title so hard. Well, it was fun grinding it out.

The keep lords were of course the hard part, but there was a lot of activity mostly trading keeps back and forth it seemed, but still fun enough. I won 2 massive bags, netting me an obliterator chest piece and a pocket full of silver. (Really, only one decent thing in massive bags for the whole tier?)

Our last attempt at a keep, after I'd gotten my title thankfully, ended in abject failure. There were I'll admit 2 defenders, but they only showed up after the keep lord (Stone Troll Keep) should have been dead.

Why did he not die? Well thank you for asking. The renown stairs, whee! Or as I like to call them, the Oh-my-f**cking-god-don't-reset-the-keep-lord stairs.

Yeah, aggro pull by a caster, probably after a tank death (lots of those throughout our attempt) resulted in a reset after he was down to what, 20%?

Rough. We never got close again.

Seriously three quick pointers for people from a RVR WB noob, but a raiding veteran:

1. put some thoughts into what your groups are ... consider buffs, useful abilities, etc. Czarnal was in a group with all the other tanks. Bad idea. Who do we guard? Who are we buffing? We can all twist several auras, no need to stack us all in a group.

2. do a countdown on a hard pull, or have a designated puller (Main Tank probably). Counting down to the pull in WB chat is easy and effective. Try it out.

3. Leashing is great when you need it. But why risk it when you don't don't sit on the pad or the renown vendor stairs unless you are catching aggro from champions, you need to hide from the opposition or, well just don't do it. Resets are much more costly than individual deaths.

The ten ninjas line is from R.Stevens.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

here we go, yo ... what's the scenario?

Okay two tiers in, time for a completely unnecessary scenario review. I'll note approximately how often I've won in that scenario, which might color my perspective. Let's go to results!


The short version: three flags, take and hold flags for points.
The long version: a lot of different terrain makes this a pretty dynamic scenario: curving hills, fragments of wall, bridges, ramps etc. You can march through in order, or end-run and snap up a poorly defended flag behind the front. Maybe a little repetitive for some, but I think the simple structure really shines.
My Win percentage: 100%
Grade: A
If this were a food item it would be: A nice steak. Yum.

Khaine's Embrace
The short version: take both flags (sorry, altars) for points, then they explode. Hide in tunnels or at third shrine to avoid one-shot death.
The long version: not sure how this one is supposed to work exactly. There are lots of discreet passages between the two flags (sorry, altars) which should encourage small group skirmishing, but never really seemed to. Often it seemed to end with one group (order, cough) hanging out by their guards. Ends up being a zerg-fest.
My Win percentage: 65%
Grade: D
If this were a food item it would be: Guatemalan Insanity Pepper

Gates of Ekrund
The short version: take and hold three flags (can we just call them flags, instead of ... resources? strategic locations? I mean, jeez, they are literally flags!).
The long version: three flags in a fortress. Warcamps are close by the exits, so be careful not to get dragged back into the guards. The three flags are quite close to each other and the whole place is very mazy and frantic. Again, like Nordenwatch there's great variation in terrain with balconies, stairs, broken walls, etc. It reminds me of a good wolfenstein map.
My Win percentage: 90%
Grade: B
If this were a food item it would be: haggis


Stone Troll Crossing
The short version: grab the Troll pacifier (flag) and once you have it, turn the three nodes (troll camps).
The long version: This one is definitely interesting. A big smashmouth start, with lots of terrain interest around it. It does seem to be hard to turn around once one side gets the upper hand, but has a nice mix of large group and smaller skirmish type battles.
My Win percentage: 20%
Grade: B
If this were a food item it would be: fried oysters

Phoenix Gate
The short version: Warsong gulch. Er, sorry capture the flag while yours is safe.
The long version: well hmm. This is not my favorite mechanic, but it works okay here. I think the map is a bit long, and there are a couple choke points, so you can't really sneak around or anything. Tends to end up focused on one group's base, while the other team ferries the flag back over and over.
My Win percentage: 40%
Grade: C
If this were a food item it would be: Green ... salad. No dressing.

Mourkain Temple
The short version: control the mourkain artifact, while in your possession, kill people. Don't die.
The long version: What. The. Fudge. This scenario makes me want to eat my eyeballs. It brings out the worst in PUGs and rewards brute strength over tactics. I should say it rewards strategy, but not tactics, in that if you're roles are played well you should do well, but there's no positional, or distribution game (ie. who stays offense, who defense).
My Win percentage: 10%
Grade: WTF
If this were a food item it would be: my eyeballs.

Minding Your P's and Q's

So Public Quests are great. Yay PQs. Love ya. But I do wonder about the protocol, the proper ettiquette, if you will, for handling them.

Let me explain by way of example:

situation one: You are in a PQ in an established [closed] group. You are working on objectives, Tra la la. In stage two, while you are killing say, level 16 champion spiders (Silkens in the house!), someone else rolls up and starts mixing it up with the mobs. Does it matter what the new toons class is? What level he is?

situation two: You are wandering by a PQ area and see a group in stage 2 of say, Reaper's Circle, and notice that they're a bit behind on the timer. Also, a small group. You roll on in and start mixing it up. The group refuses to acknowledge your presence. No heals, no help, no invite. It's a closed group.

These are actually different things that happened to me (shocking)! In both cases here I was the individual coming late to the game, but I've been on the other side as well.

Obviously on the most basic level, PQs are open to all. If you can show up and do enough to rate a roll, you deserve one. That's what a PQ means. But that doesn't mean you're going to be super psyched by the redundant tank rolling up late in stage 2 (sorry about that) or that you the late-arriving tank, redundant or not, really deserve a shot at the roll.

"That's what contribution is for." Sure, sure. If you farm the whole thing, you have a better chance at top roll. But first, as I've noted earlier, contribution is screwy. And second, if I, the redundant tank, am left alone by a surly group, baited in to pulling mobs, or whatever, I WILL DIE AND GET NOTHING. (sry caps!)

But seriously. I don't really deserve good loot. I do it, though I know it's lame, and I always hope, if I haven't earned it, that I don't take someone else's hard-won loot.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not what I'd call a hag

That's the Twisted Slaughterhag in the Inevitable City. A very cool character model: Sexy and hardcore. But, yeah, not what I think of when I picture the word "hag".

Dear Tier Two

Baby, we've been together for a week now, and it's been great. You are a wonderful ... tier, but I have a confession to make to you. You wear me out sometimes.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like to have fun. But, damn, you never stop. With you there's always ten things going on at the same time. A man needs some time to catch his breath, you know?

Sometimes, I just want to do a quest or two. Maybe a tome unlock? Is that wrong? But with you there's always five other things happening. I can't remember what I wanted to do? My bags are always full of junk I can't find the time to sell. My quest log is maxed out. I need a breather.

And scenarios? Damn, baby, take it easy on me! You know I'm up for anything, but Mourkain Temple? Baby, that is just freaky. And then keep sieges and defends, and, oh wait, that wasn't a real assault on a keep even. I ran all that way for nothing.

Help a brother out. Let's just slow it down for a minute. I just want to take a day to do nothing but grind out your PQs nice and slow. Taking our time. Then, maybe we could do a few unlocks, drop some greens at the AH. You know, spend some time together.

I heard you had dungeons, but baby I can't even get on that now.

I want to be with you, I see myself spending a long time with you. Maybe even another week! But sometimes, I have to admit, I think back to my old flame, Tier One, and miss the simple times.

Oh who am I kidding, I can't quit you, baby. Let's go take some Battlefield Objectives, take em fast while no one is watching. The way you like it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keeps, Keeps everywhere ...

... and not a drop to loot.

Did a few keep sieges last night. Of the hurry up while Order is elsewhere and then skedaddle variety. Pretty fun, albeit rather easy. The tension really comes from the fear that order will crash the party.

Of course at rank 15, my contribution was on the low side. No loot from any of the three we did. The last (marshes of madness) was a bit screwy. Our warband leader said to pull the keep lord down to lower level. I know from pulling, so I jumped on the chance, body-pulling the keep lord and retinue from the top of the stairs.

I backed down and jumped off the side. Should've been perfect. But yeah, not so much. I dropped into a little half-circle surrounded by torches. Completely stuck. Meanwhile the warband decided to fight upstairs. Groan. I spent the whole time trying to hop out. Then I hurried to logout via /stuck so I wouldn't accidentally take someone's loot. Hopefully I got out before the roll.

"How you doin?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I want my smoking skull!

So Bellagoth informed me and I later confirmed that my Zealot tome unlock, the smoking skull pocket item, which my tome of knowledge tells me I'm due, is out of stock or something. Seriously. The librarian in IC won't even talk to me about it.

He's so rude sometimes.

I vaguely remembered reading that it was bugged for destro, maybe on Pwnsan although I couldn't find the page to confirm that, so I went to Wardb and checked out the item. no comments, but the "Worn by" page is pretty telling.

All of I'm left with is the dang ol' Flint Stone, which is underwhelming. Basically, it makes a scraping noise.

Scraping noises do not impress the ladies. Maybe I need to click it furiously for a few minutes. I'll give that a try, I guess, but I'm not optimistic.

Way to have a lame pocket item, Bright Wizards.

An RvR vignette

So in my last RvR fight in T1, the following incident occured:

Now I don't want to harsh on the designers, cause I think the game looks swell, and honestly I don't even know what the cannon looked like, cause I never got a good look at it, but i did seem to be getting pelted by tennis balls, straight below the order war camp.

A bit goofy is all I'm saying. By point of comparison, here's the corresponding gun placement in the destro WC:

This gun only targets directly below the cliff edge. A bit of a mis-match to its appearance, imo.

Contribution confusion

So, now that I'm all grown up (yay tier 2), I'm trying to get a handle on how this whole contribution system works. Specifically I mean PQs, as that's all I've had to deal with really.

So here's my data. All the PQs I've completed in a group:

Destruction of the weak (ch.2 norsca)
who: Czarnal, level 6 or so, and Tanith level 24 DOK.
contribution ranking: czarnal, tanith.

Ruinous powers: ch.1 norsca.
who: Czarnal, level 6 or so, and Tanith level 24 DOK.
First place: czarnal, tanith.

Macabre Fervor, ch.3 nordland
who: Czarnal, a lot of other folk.
contribution ranking: czarnal, everybody else.

Pillage and Plunder: ch.3 nordland
who: Czarnal, Magus, squig herder
contribution ranking: czarnal first, dont recall others.

Pillage and Plunder, ch.3 nordland
who: Czarnal, Bellagoth (11 WE), Mortien (10 Zlt).
contribution ranking: bellagoth, czarnal, Mortien.

Pillage and Plunder, ch.3 nordland
who: Czarnal, Derruba (7 BO), Mortien, Bellagoth.
contribution ranking: Derruba, Bellagoth and Mortien, Czarnal.

Fields of Woe, ch. 4 nordland
who: Czarnal (11), Derruba, Mortien (11 Zlt), DaveJones (11 Mrdr)
contribution ranking: DaveJones, Derruba, Czarnal, Mortien.

These are contribution rankings, not rolls or loot order. So it's not perfect data, small sample sizes and all, but a couple oddities have struck me:

1. how the crap did I out-contribute Tanith twice? full disclosure, in addition to being a third her level, I also spent most of the PQs scavenging.

2. healers aren't getting enough love. Fields of Woe ... no disrespect to DaveJones who dished out the hurt, but we could have completed it without him, in fact we had on a previous attempt wiped only because we stood in the road where all the champions rush out and fought them all at once. When we respawned we killed them all, just ran out of time. My belabored point is that without Mortien we have zero chance of completing. Everyone else in that setup is expendable.

3. I wonder if contribution is distributed by role. Maybe this has been discovered, released, explained and I've just missed it, but for a tank to win, it can't be damage / healing numbers, it has to be some tanking calculation: damage taken, time that mob has tank targetted, damage mitigated, etc.

so, does that hurt hybrid types? healers that are DPS specced? DPSing tanks?

4. splitting the responsibility hurts your contribution score. This makes sense to me. Two tanks means each is individually less vital. So we score lower. One dps class? bigger contribution. I would say that given the relative roundness of classes (tanks and healers can also do decent damage, not one-dimensional), dps is probably less vital in and of itself. Now if they kick the ass, well then nevermind.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So last night, in a panic, I bent to maxing out my T1 oRVR rep. The panic stemmed from making this decision about 2/3 of the way to the advanced rep reward, and 3/4 of the way through rank 11.

But really, it wasn't a problem. Order obliged by mixing it up all night and now I have my Lost Axe.

Tier 1 oRVR is a bit odd. Rep gains are really fast, and I get that it's meant as a training mode for later oRVR, but the taking of Battlefield Objectives is a little ... odd.

The objectives can be pretty handly 2-manned, and are seldom defended. Once taken they must be defended briefly and then they're locked. Which means after you run around and grab them all, there's not much to do but skirmish.

I like skirmishing fine, but it's not really objective-based pvp is it? On my way to elite rep, I think we defended a node one time in numbers and I don't think I participated in a single assault against a defended BO. It's all hit and run action.

Is that bad? Not in itself. But I wonder if its training us to be good RVR-players in later tiers, or training in bad habits.

Barrel chest or Apple costume?

I switched out of my first piece of dyed armor yesterday, a breastplate dyed red. The look had reminded me of something, but it took me a while to figure out what it was.

You be the judge:

Well, maybe its just me. That I felt like the fruit of the loom apple isn't meant as a slight. I actually kind of like the rotund armor pieces. They have heft and feel reasonably authentic. Truly, I miss my apple costume.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

oi, beleza?

Just wanted to shout out to the brazilians I grouped up with last night: Derruba, Davejones, and Mortien. Derruba and Mortien joined with Czarnal and my pal Bellagoth for the Ch.3 easy PQ (Gathering and Pillaging, iirc) and then for a Khaine's embrace. Davejones joined up with us after Bella left for Fields of Woe. They were a good group, and chatted away in Portuguese while we ran through the PQ.

Apparently Volkmar has a big brazilian population. One of those interesting things you find out about your server. My old WoW server, Suramar, had a huge Aussie population when it started out (before the oceanic servers came up). Meeting people from far away places and killing stuff together, that's good times.

Khaine's embrace

Did three or four turns in Khaine's embrace last night. Have to say, not a huge fan. The mechanic is ... weird. Two flags to control, and grabbing both gets you points, but also blows you up. My complaints with this are:

1. the instructions could be a little less arcane. Here's more or less what the instructions read: "Controlling both altars wins points but also causes khaine's wrath. Avoid imminent death or ask for forgiveness." Not a quote obviously, but yeah. NOT THAT HELPFUL.

2. why would either side be in a hurry to control a temple (if that's what its supposed to be) that blows you up for controlling it? Not usually something you look for in real estate.

I think the idea of the multiple paths between the nodes is interesting, and could theoretically work to divide the sides into smaller skirmishes, but in reality that didn't seem to happen. Battles were fought on the flags or in giant scrums in a given tunnel or path.

While I'm on the subject, the high level guards on the spawn points? Yeah, they suck. And so do shadow warriors for exploiting them. Just saying. Also, shadow warriors? Not warriors. Archers. See my informative illustration below:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Clever little gobbo

So in the Nordenwatch scenario, T1, we'd rushed out to the fortress, clever plan that, and I stepped up to the bridge to try to choke the order attack away from the flag. Order was happy to oblige and pounded away at me. My health dropped pretty low, and I noticed the flag had capped, so I swigged a potion and ran back behind my teammates. The idea was to drop out of combat, and regen up some health. not sure if that's realistic or not, but that was the thought.

For the most part, the other destro players were providing nice cover and I wasn't getting ranged or anything. Then a goblin, with a witchhunter all over him comes hauling around on the wall side and drags him right up to me.

Oh, clever play that, says i, and I step up to peel the WH off the healer. He obliges and starts stabbing and shooting and what not. No problem I thought, just need that heal ...

No heal. I die. I scroll the camera over and notice that the goblin in question is not a shaman at all. He's a squig herder.

If he'd been a shaman, I'd have been annoyed, but for dps, that's just smart play. So hat tip to you, squiggy, even though you killed me.

The aesthetics of chaos

I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the both the chaos character model options and the starting zone.

The character models really are very quirky and have a strong aesthetic, while allowing a bunch of different effects. Czarnal is a pretty handsome looking dude, if I do say so myself, but there are certainly other ways to go from the horrific to the war ravaged.

The chaos starting areas, and really all of the chaos camps in Norsca and Nordland are very cool. Squirming pink trees, the chaos portal, lots of impressive NPCs marching about in spikey armor, the hellcannons facing out at the hapless town. Its both visually interesting and narratively immersive. I felt right away like I was in the thrust of a monstrous, otherworldy army's assault on the trim, respectable world of men.

The Quest to Read Quests (FAILED)

I really want to be the guy who reads all the quest text. Who savors the writing, immerses himself into the story, the atmosphere. So I consciously set out to read all the text of my quests.

Yeah that didn't last very long.

On one hand, I don't want to dump the blame onto Mythic, when I seldom read a single WoW quest all the way through, but, on the other hand, I'm gonna blame Mythic.

Actually my complaint such as it is, is that at least early on, the color text, the voice of the quest giver, is problematic in two ways:

1. Tends to be a bit uniform. This isn't to say the writing isn't good or that there's no voice. Honestly, I'm not sure how much character diversity you're going to have in a chaos war camp. It seems to break down to:

A. Zealous adoration of Chaos
B. Psychotic/Zealous adoration of Chaos

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

2. The color text early on didn't tell me anything. It'd be like:

"The lord of change wreaks destruction untold upon this world, tearing at its fabric, unraveling its mundane order and law and unfurling in its place the beautiful terror of change unending ..."

and then the helpful instructional part would read:

"Go to the nearby empire camp and take two loaves of bread."


By chapter three or so, I'd figured out the basic chaos quest-giver concepts: sorcerer types, warlord types, and marauders and I think they do have reasonably distinct goals and personas, and that the did from the start probably. But early on, It just didn't come across for me.

But maybe that's just me.

Ow My Eye

Okay, I love the random achievements (I got one for scavenging while standing in water, woot), and the Ow My Eye! title is pretty funny, but I'd rather be able to actually click things on the ground.

Maybe its just the chosen silhouette, but I swear that I have to adjust my camera every single time I loot something. Or open a gate. I've gotten in the habit of positining Czarnal at an angle from NPCs so that I can click on them.

Is this something that is always there, that I've just forgotten about in my 2 month MMO fast? I noticed in the customization menu that there was an "allow character click through" toggle. Eureka! But, not so much. Still a problem. Maybe it just didn't take.

Seriously, aside from the funny achievements, why do I ever need to click my character? I guess if i was a healer and didn't have auto self-target, I might need it (click your unitframe, cough cough).

I guess I could go to first person mode ... /shudder.

Life during Wartime

Had a good first weekend in WAR. I had a lot of expectations, and really a lot of information for someone starting up, but still I found some things surprised me both positively and negatively. On the whole, I like it a lot.

I came to WAR after playing WOW for almost four years, so my whole response is pretty comparative. I wonder though about comparing the two: in as much as there's any point in comparing them (I think there is), which WoW should we compare WAR too? The WOW of 2009, or the one of 2005, when it was as old as WAR is now?

We'll see. I'm a weekend into the game, rank 10/rr 9 on my chosen, Czarnal, and have found lots to like and lots to do.

More to come.