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.



Red Rover, Red Rover Send Order Right Over

Last Night brought yet another assault on the IC. Instead of churning into the city defense instances, we put together a skirmish/blockade warband. Eventually parking ourselves right in front of the entrance to the city siege. Is this kind of a dick move? Sure it is. On the other hand: completely legitimate defense strategy as its set up now, and it's not like order has never seen the inside of the IC.

The trick is that you can't enter the instance portal if you're in combat, which I'm guessing a lot of order didn't know or forgot, cause they kept trying to bulldoze past us.

As far as the advantages of this tactic for destro. Well, I'm not entirely sure, and wasn't consulted, but here's my guesses:
1. more of a nuisance: they respawn, what back at their CW warcamp? that would suck.
2. oRvR influence. Is this better than what you get in the city defense instances? no idea.
3. low levels? Not sure what the level reqs are to participate in city defense, so maybe it was an accomodation for the lowbies (like me) in the WB.

Anyway it was fun. We definitely rained on the order parade.

A couple oddities that were new to me. The ram pad giving us grief:

Every time it was killed it would sort of bitch at us about not having won yet. Kind of surreal and funny.

The other odd bit was the engineer who somehow got onto the other side of the instance portal.

There's no line of sight I guess from that position, but he must've been pretty edgy while he was camped there. Kudos to him, though, eventually he went out of combat and snuck into the instance.

Fun times, and some good scrapes in the mix. T4 oRvR definitely has a nice sense of consequence to it. Your presence in the fight has real effects on the war outcome, in a way that I never felt at the lower levels.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pimp My Chosen

I'm in a pickle of a dilly of a jam, as Ned Flanders might say. Czarnal is starting to get some nice looking gear, but I'm still loath to cough up big bucks to dye his crappier pieces of gear to match the nicer items. Case in point:

Now I've got my three pieces of Devestator gear, which come in a nice red color with a dark grey trim. Very pretty, but to dye the rest of my gear to match would cost serious shekels. So I've gone the cheap route here, dyeing my other gear cheap neutral colors.

But I'm not loving it. So I pose to the community, to you, gentle reader, this question: How do I get a nice look without breaking the bank? Some of these pieces will be upgraded very soon. My belt in particular is kind of terrible.

Any thoughts on working in a secondary color scheme? Should I just say a tearful goodbye to the nice dark red and go for a matching set?

I've had sets in the past where all my armor except for one piece, say the helmet, was one color and the helmet was a different contrasting color: Say light gray armor with a dark blue helmet. I thought that looked kind of nice.

Tying in the secondary colors might be a way to give a sense of unity to the look.

Also, while I'm on the subject, Please Mythic, let us dye our shields. Shields are like the most obviously paintable-part of a set of gear, and the visual impact of the shield for those slinging one is considerable.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Warhammer: Celebrities of Reckoning

Well, of course, Syp beat me to it.

/waves fist futilely at the sky

But we have slightly different takes on this important, really critical, matter.

My idea is to catalogue the celebrities that most look like/reflect the various WAR races, while SYP goes the casting call route. I'm going to focus on the ones that are interesting to me, but if you have good ideas for the rest, I'll be happy to add.

Anyway off to the races:


For the chaos dude, there can be only one: Motorhead's Lemmy.
Haggard: check.
Muttonchops: check.
Badass: check.

If you wanted to go with a chaos gal, the obvious choice here for me is Amy Winehouse. She looks like a zealot already. Wasted by drugs rather than chaos, I suppose but the feel is right, even if her hair looks more Witch Elf than Zealot.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers was born to play a gothy-elf in a dress. He did a nice turn as Steerpike (shown here), one of my favorite bad guys. The key is to be a pretty-boy, uppity, and cruel. Put that boy in a man dress and give him a goblet!

Pick your favorite lantern jaw for orc and big nose for a goblin...really nobody looks like these guys.

Put Jack Black in a dorky suit of armor and you've got a probably drunken dwarf (imagine a LOTR sizing effect if that's a big hangup for you).


Tilda Swinton has the ethereal/androgynous/attractive-but-not-sultry high elf thing going on. No point in doing a male/female for the high elves. Not that much difference and Tilda can handle either one, I reckon.


I might go like an Ed Harris route if I was looking Warrior Priest. Obviously if you were thinking of the ladies of the Empire, or even dude wizards, knights, or witch hunters, you'd go elsewhere. I reckon Patrick Stewart could make a fabulous bright wizard.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ceci n'est pas une Zerg

Okay, so maybe I'm picking nits here, but I see in oRvR all the time some really daft, whiny kinds of things. Like last night in t3, the leader of the warband I was in said something to the effect of "friggin' order, all they ever do is defend!"



But the most common, is the zerg complaint. "Just another zerg," people say. "They're just going to zerg it, so why bother." This is an interesting meme. As far as I can tell what people really mean when they say zerg is "charge at us aggressively with superior numbers."

I mean really. Literally, if they were "zerging" I would imagine there would be a motley swarm of order all in a big pile, all clawing or slashing or whatever away at the first thing in sight. But really, that's not what's happening.

Certainly, when you have excessive numbers ... more than you need ... you might play a bit looser with your tactics, but the point is the numbers are the defining factor.

Which I guess is why people call it a zerg. But, the thing about zerg as a verb is that it has a negative connotation. It's dismissive. "Way to zerg, order."

Really, the complaint is number imbalance. Which is a real issue. Part and parcel of oRvR I suspect, but a real issue.

But seriously, we don't need to act like the other team is being cheap or is somehow lame because they outnumber us. That's just sour grapes. And no one likes sour grapes.

Except the zerg.

the second M in MMO

When I first started playing WoW many moons ago, the least interesting thing about MMOs for me was the multiplayer part of it. Well, let me qualify that. I was interested in playing online with my real-life friend that encouraged me to try it out.

And yet, over time, that part of the game has become a real pleasure for me. Now, a couple of qualifiers. I'm not Johnny Chats-a-lot. I don't tend to blather away in region chat or even to chit-chat a ton in guild chat about random nonsense. These are okay things, but not my cup of tea. But there's a lot of social interaction even for a sometimes reclusive. Let's take a look in numbered list form!

1. Real-life friends. These are the gold-standard in some ways. People you already know and presumably trust. People you can talk about the game with outside of it. They're a great boost to the experience. But they come with a sort of cost too. Whenever you get a real-life friend into a game, there's a certain amount of chaperoning you may feel compelled to do and a bit of uncertainty. You know this person in real life, but how are they in game? Do you have to show them around, explain everything? Are they going to lean on you to make their experience interesting?

Of course the inverse is true as well. My RL friend in WoW got me into the guild I stayed with my entire tenure in the game, got me a raid spot, tried to buoy me up in the guild, draw me out of my shell. I've done the same for others. These relationships have to be nurtured.

2. In-game friends. Sort of the odd mystery of the MMO is the way it facilitates real friendships. You find some kindred spirit and do a few things together. Maybe you chat about your lives a bit, then the next thing you know, your gaming experience is richer than it would be without them. You check to see if they're online, you work together at the game, sharing it and exploring it and developing a common experience: inside jokes and running gags, stories and adventures completed or failed.

I come to this level less easily I think than others. My current guild in WAR has great people in it that I feel are becoming friends, and I couldn't be more delighted. For me this is like lightning in a bottle. I don't expect it, but it's a magical thing.

3. Acquaintances and the friendly wave. There's a lot more to socializing in an MMO than friends though, and this is the part that I think many people don't appreciate. The wonder of some social parlay on the incidental level. Open parties are a great facilitator for this. Sometimes you're working on a PQ and someone else slings you an invite, or you do to someone you spy. Now you're working together. You win or lose together. It's a great opportunity to have a very casual interaction with people. You crack a joke, you discuss a little strategy. You share some gossip or talk about the game. It may last a half-an-hour and then you may never see the person again, but when there's a show of humanity, of personality, its surprisingly rewarding.

I've done PQs with a lot of random folks. Had little conversations with strangers about whatever ... the lore, the game, the event at hand. It's like an amuse bouche: it's an unexpected little treat. Discrete and spontaneous. For me, probably the most pleasant surprise in online gaming is that you can have charming, human conversations with people that you're not invested in and who aren't invested in you.

4. Adversary. I have to say I haven't found the relationships of this sort that strong yet. There have been order at various tiers that I've remembered. Maybe that I've gone out of my way to kill or have done the same to me, but leveling it sort of comes and goes. This can be a pretty fun relationship too, and fairly unique to gaming. The respectful rivalry. Sometimes not so respectful. I'll be interested to see if this is more prevalent as I near the level cap.

I never had this sort of relationship in WoW either, but I do remember the sort of adversary celebrity. The awesome PvPer, or guild whose apppearance brings terror. I have high hopes there will be some of that in WAR's endgame as well.


I've seen a lot of blog posts about people disenchanted with WAR because their friends are leaving the game. I get that. Good in-game friends are a commodity, but they're not as rare as people seem to think. To me it seems that insulating ourselves into some tight group of friends, while very natural is also self-injuring. My WoW guild over the 3 years I was in it had a massive amount of turnover, a revolving cast of characters, if you will. And each time this happens, there's sadness of course, but then you find, to your surprise (or mine at least) that among the new crew there are more funny, smart, interesting people.

So hold on to your friends, to be sure, but don't forget that there's more interesting, funny, nice people out there than just those on your friends list.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lrn 2 Scenario ... the Destro Way

Welcome, servants of evil, or as we like to call it around here, "badness." The world of Destro scenarios can be a little confusing at first, so I present this handy three-step guide to Scenario-ing the Destro Way.

Focus You see that bright wizard over there? That's right, up on the hill, looking all smug and fiery. That guy. That guy needs to eat soil, am I right? Make it your mission, your quest, your personal jihad. Follow him to the ends of the earth. Leave your companions behind. Be singleminded. Sure he's got a pocket healer and there's a tank circling around him debuffing, snaring and knocking you around, but does that mean you should change targets or regroup? Hell. No.

Self-sufficiency Zealots, shamans, Disciples of Khaine. We love them right? Of course we do. That's why we must never, ever help them out. The path to fulfillment is hard won. Why would you heal another healer? They've got their own healing spells! And if you're a dps class, well, there's that bright wizard again! Tanks, now I know you may be thinking. I can help this healer, and make the whole destro force stronger. But you can't. Better to just charge into the fray making a ridiculous spectacle of yourself. Better yet, just jump into the lava.

Gumption Sure you and all your allies have been killed, and order is camping your respawn point, but that's no reason to gather your forces and reorganize. Organization is for order. This is chaos, baby! Just run right out there. That bright wizard is somewhere up there. You're sure to get a heal when you run as fast as possible away from your allies. You're leading the charge after all!

And don't sit back and defend a node. That sort of behavior is for lackeys and lesser minions. Just rush past that flag, leave yours undefended, ignore the so-called "goal" and "objectives". The only real objective is spilling blood, am I right? If they wanted you to defend, they wouldn't make it take so long.


Okay so there you have it. Three easy steps to help you scenario ... the Destro way. Good luck and good being-hunted! And remember, if it's not bad, it's not Destro!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Playable races: idle speculation

At some point I think we can hope to see additional playable races. Not soon probably, but at some point. So just out of idle speculation, here are some thoughts on race expansion.

Destruction races:

The obvious choice here is skaven I think. Skaven are chaos worshippers and have a variety of interesting classes ... plague monks, assassins etc. Everybody loves a good rat-man right? I hope we see skaven as a playable race, but at the same time, I hope they get a design overhaul. Games Workshop skaven are quite a bit more impressive and sinister looking than the much more authentically rat-like skaven currently in WAR. You give me a good redesign of the skaven, and I'll roll one.

Other possibilities: well, you have the other chaos factions. Probably a long shot but you could develop some interesting dynamics by making say slaanesh worshippers playable, or even nurgle. Khorne is probably right out, given the single-minded bloodthirst of that faction.

Other than chaos factions and nurgle, you have ... maybe the undead? People like undead, particularly vampires, and Mark Jacobs has indicated some interesting in developing at least content in that direction, so I think that's a definite possibility.

Very long shot: chaos dwarfs. Chaos + dwarfiness = weird fun? I guess. Wouldn't count on it though.

Order races:

A little bit trickier here. Some people are guessing lizardmen. I think that would be a smart move, but might take a bit of lore jiggering. Lizardmen are, if I recall correctly, heriditary enemies of the skaven, but they aren't really part of the civilized races gang. Would be a nice move that could help to boost order population quite a bit, if they're done well.

Other possibilities are basically variations of what we have now: other human kingdoms, particularly Bretonnia, which is pretty well developed and is a nice counterpoint to the Empire. Bretonnia is a bit weak as a faction for a couple of reasons though: not much magical or religious tradition that I can recall, and even more poofy and flamboyant than empire folks.

The other race variant order could see is Wood Elves. Could be order-elves done right, but might end up feeling very similar to high elves.

So that's how I'm handicapping it at this point. Am I missing anything obvious? Any lore pros out there have thoughts on these races and what they could bring to the table? For some detailed analysis of undead, skaven and lizardmen armies, check out the nice thread at Warhammer Alliance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gold Bag Santa Claus UPDATED

This may be a well-known phenomenon, or maybe it's a bug, and I'm spilling the beans, but it's an interesting trick for those of you who PQ.

The master looter can hand out bags. Now this may not always work, and maybe it only works when you haven't touched the chest, but if you manage it, you can distribute any of the bag drops to anyone in the party.

I was the beneficiary of this in a ch.9 pq a while back and it just occured to me that people might not know about it. In the PQ, a higher level DoK won 1st place in contribution and the top reward, a blue bag. The Dok took master looter and then distributed the bag to me.

Theoretically this should work in any chest drop situation, although in large PuGs its probably not worth the grief. But if you win a bag you don't need, you may be able to hand it off to someone who does.

EDIT (3/30):

Got this to work with some tweaking. Post patch 1.2, fyi. Here are important considerations:
1. master looter must be high bag winner,
2.must have loot preferences set to loot all (instead of uncommon the default).
3. auto-loot should be off
4. have master-looter on before boss fight starts (Not 100% sure it needs to be on before fight starts, certainly before it ends).
5. The person to receive a bag must not have looted one yet.

I'm pretty sure you can set master looter to on, and then change the master-looter, but I haven't actually confirmed this.

Anyway. It works. Turn off auto-loot, set loot to "all" and enjoy.

Too much of a good thing ...

Who likes gear upgrades? I sure do. And yet, I'm coming to believe that there's too many good gear sets for leveling.

Let me explain. In Tier three, there are really 5 sets of quite good gear you can get:

The stalker set, obtained by completing RvR kill quests and then killing hero mobs
The devastator set, obtained from oRvR and renown vendors
The Mayhem set, from PQ gold bags
The Redeye set, from Gunbad
and the oRvR influence reward armor ... not really a set, but matched armor of a very high quality.

Each of these in a vacuum would be worth obtaining, but there isn't a vacuum, instead there's an overabundance of choices.

So what do people do? They choose the path of least resistance. Typically this means devastator, with maybe the oRvR influence to supplement.

Sure you might go for the stalker set, it's pretty easy to get, but the level requirements and relatively low quality make it a temporary solution.

Redeye, meanwhile, is left in the dust.

Yesterday, I noticed a comment in a post on Way of the Chosen by WAR's resident sourpuss Snafzg (love ya, Snaf, don't ever change) in which he complained about the randomness of drops in Lost Vale. To paraphrase, he writes that we shouldn't get drops from dungeon bosses that noone in the party can use.

My initial response was that this is how it is. WoW has always been like that, and it's one of the things that makes achieving a good set of gear so rewarding. It's a time sink sure, but that's part of the business of MMO's.

But on second thought, I think I'm coming around to his way of thinking.

1. RvR gear is not really random: winners are chosen by contribution (theoretically at least) and they get a drop they can use ... maybe one they already have, but not something for a different career.

2. dungeons are on lockdowns. You can't farm them really. Even gunbad has some length of lockdown, so you can't just do the Masta Mixa over and over until you get your drop.

3. Gear is career specific, not by type. In WoW you may get healing plate, only usable by a paladin, or you might get spelldamage cloth, usable by a number of classes. It's less restrictive.

PvE may be meant to be second fiddle to RvR in WAR, but it shouldn't be punitive. I'm fine with random drops, but it discourages groups attempting these dungeons, particularly when there's no specific need to do so (ie. Wards). What's the solution. I don't expect or particularly want to get perfect loot every time. But with tokens (or broken gear in WAR parlance) and chest drops (rewarding class specific loot to the winner) you dramatically increase the likelihood of a usable drop, without ever getting to 100%.

I've done 4 dungeon runs on Czarnal. 3 of these have ended in boss kills, not one of them has awarded a usable piece of gear. Meanwhile, in our last Gunbad run we got 2 PQ gold bags and redeye helms for Czarnal and our healer, Shennas. It's a good system, lets get it onto bosses.

And while you're at it, lets knock back some of the RvR rewards. Do we need devastator and oRvR reward armor? I know its important to have a critical mass of RvR players, but the rewards dramatically outweigh the challenge at this point, and are sabotaging the other choices.

Monday, March 16, 2009

PvE impressions from a WoW true-believer

My good friend Xill ventured into WAR last night on a trial account. He's a hardcore WoW player and like me a PvE-first player. I was eager, if a little scared, to get his impressions.

Turns out we have very similar takes on the PvE. He rolled a marauder and played the first 5 or so levels solo. Then I grouped up with him on a disciple and we churned through a mixture of content: easy and normal PQs, oRvR, quests and scenarios.

His take, in short, is as follows:

The World is very cool looking.
the PvE is interesting and engaging.
Levelling is too fast.

Now this may come as a shock to people, but I have to agree. Leveling, particularly in tier one, but arguably throughout the process, is very fast. This is not a big problem if you want to RvR, but if you are interested in doing PvE it can be a problem.

Why? Because PvE is a cumulative experience. Completing quests and quest sequences develops the story line of the character and conveys the development of the character in both the larger narrative and personally.

When you out-level content that you are working on, you have to decide to abandon the content or to continue with content that offers rewards of reduced value: less xp from kills, less useful prizes. Eventually, you have to decide to proceed in the narrative order to a stage that is already, before you've begun it, of low value, or skip a portion of the narrative to move toward more lucrative hunting grounds.

This problem is already in place just from doing quests and influence grinds in the given chapters. From those methods alone you may outpace the narrative, but I'd guess that it would stay close enough to not be overly jarring. However, when you add in scenarios and oRvR -- components of the game you're strongly encouraged to participate in, and that offer excellent returns, the outpacing of the narrative gets extreme.

So what's the fix. It's as easy as it is impossible. Reduce XP from RvR, possibly even reduce xp from mob kills and/or increase the amount needed to level. Would this kill RvR? I doubt it. There's already several strong motivators to RvR: oRvR rewards, renown gear, as well as the separate Renown Rank system.

Reducing XP from RvR and possibly increasing it for long quest strings, dungeons and other more-intensive PvE components would revitalize PvE and maybe put to rest permanently the misguided notion that WAR's PvE is inferior.

Won't happen, but it should.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Craftmaster 3000

Do you guys craft? I craft. I'm sort of a crafting junkie. WAR's system is relatively easy and is both grind and crafting alt friendly (no quests for recipes for example), but one isse I have with it is that it's pretty opaque: higher level mats are better than lower, but in what way? Some of this we know broadly from patch notes, but the values and particular characteristics are frustratingly obscured.

The not-sexily-named Crafting Info Tooltip ... fixes that in a simple way, by adding the nuts and bolt numbers to the tooltip. Combine with moth for simple, up-front crafting data.

Friday, March 13, 2009

F*ck You Friday ... the 13th

In honor of my return from the brink of death (not really), I present unto you, gentle soul, a fuck-you friday the 13th.

1. Warband Hall-monitors: Fuck you self-important windbags. Seriously, telling people to listen to the warband leader or badgering people that happen to not be interested in the mighty struggle of taking unopposed BOs, or generally acting like you have some sort of mantle of authority. You don't. If people are wasting spots you need, tell your WB leader, get them kicked. If people are being rude or disrespectful and it bugs you, vocally support the warband leader, or better yet, explain why their ideas aren't as good.

2. Scenario phantoms: Queued up for a scenario that you really aren't going to join? Fuck you. Now it happens, I get that. It pops fast sometimes, you aren't ready. Or really slowly, and well its stage three of that PQ. Hey no problem. But if you hang on to the queue the max time, if you do this over and over again, you are why the scenarios are always off balance. Also ... if you're in a warband taking BOs or something, don't queue the whole group. You're not going to do scenarios. So knock it off.

Actually, now that I think about it, I really want to say fuck you to unbalanced scenarios, which i guess is a mythic complaint. People are lame, mythic, you know that. It's great that you want us to have like eight minutes to make up our mind or not if we really want to go into the scenario we queued for but its leaving them unbalanced ... a lot. That wastes everybody's time. So, fuck you, and now please sort it out. Thanks!

3. Choppas and Slayers who are to good too play defense. Basically that's all of you guys, as far as I can tell. I thought "it'll be fun to heal tier one scenarios right after choppas and slayers are introduced." WRONG. Here's why. So we're charging up the hill in nordenwatch, i'm behind a group of slayers on my DoK. At the fort are waiting a group of slayers, they charge slightly to the side of the choppas in front of me. Choppas promptly ignore them and leave me to die. Quickly and brutally.

When I chided the group for not defending healers in SC, i was told to fight at the flag.

Yeah, no soup for you, oh and fuck you, too.

4. PvE bashers. Two flavors of annoying for me here: the first is technically, the PvE Hater. This noble beast roams the RvR fields loudly proclaiming the lameness of taking undefended BOs or keeps not because it is boring (which in the case of the BOs it is, unless you're group is size three members or smaller) but because it is PvE. Chances are, good sir, that you suck at PvE. So, fuck you.

The second, more common is the PvE denigrator. The "pve in this game sucks" songbird. To you, sweet prince, I say, do you do the pve? Are you completing quest strings? are you doing PQs all the way through, dungeons? If so, then I grant you your opinion. If not ...

come closer ...

fuck you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bitter Rivals in review

So, bitter rivals is at an end I guess. I never did catch the bug though I did many of its special tasks: swearing at friendly players and/or myself over and over again, picking up choppa corpses for no clear reason. Some other stuff I didn't realize was part of the event, and the new scenario: Wrath of Khaine! The twisting tower!

Okay, not the biggest fan of this event. Syp I see gave it a higher rating than night of murder. Hmm. I liked night of murder much much more, though I'm not entirely sure why. Let me take a stab at it:

1. Bitter what now? Aren't rivals like competitors? As opposed to enemies? What is their rivalry? To be the most beloved melee dps class? So I don't think the title makes sense, but that underscores the issue I have with this live event: the whole thing doesn't make sense. I like the fighting orcs and dwarves, I like the pq bosses in the rvr zones, but ... these things aren't new... and they're not temporary either, right? Don't dwarves and greenskins always hate each other? Isn't that the schtick? I just don't get the everlasting enmity as a theme for a one-time event.

2. Live "Event" Part of the problem for me is that bitter rivals didn't feel like an event, it felt like a set of quests, a one-time influence bar. There was no day ... its not a holiday, its an event, fine, but there was no event either: no culminating battle, no opening of the gates, nothing to commemerate the period.

Night of murder had this problem as well, but had a couple good visual effects, particularly the burning skulls which were omnipresent in scenarios during the event.

WoW holidays for all of their schtickiness had a strong visual presence: every zone, every town, many npcs and buildings were modified, color text was modified, everything looked "holiday" and so you didn't need to check the tome to see that something was happening, you knew it.

3. Maybe that's why they're bitter ... The various bits, they just didn't make any sense together, that I could tell: I mean the swearing at people, okay sure. Weapons of the fallen, the rvr PQ, sure. But the tentacle pies, the twisting tower? Seriously, that's a big stretch. This seems to me like the "hey lets get these new classes out the door" event, with a vague theme sprinkled on top.

In short, lots to do, but no sense that you're doing anything meaningful, no sense that there's anything going on, and no real sense at all.

But other than that, I liked it :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dungeon tanking techniques

So I'm not the world's greatest tank. I can accept this. There are things I only do so-so like holding aggro and mitigating damage. I'm not a slouch, but I've seen better. Some things I do pretty well though, and these are the little things that other tanks may not do at all.

1. The pull: when, where and how. WAR has relatively easy pulling, Mobs don't seem to link based on proximity, which is normally a big concern. Still there's more to the pull than just throwing an axe. Does the mob include ranged dps? you'll need to either walk over to them to engage them in melee and then walk them back, taunt to interrupt casts (when applicable), or my favorite, use a line-of-sight break to make them run to you (LoS pull).

When possible pull back to a clear, out of the way area. This will help you avoid patrols and minimize the danger of runners wandering into other groups. runners don't aggro other groups automatically in WAR, but they may reset if left alone and if you have to chase into another group, you will body-aggro them.

2. the Turn: An important but often overlooked technique. When you bring mobs into melee range, run around them so that they turn without moving to face you. This does two things: it exposes their backs to melee (I assume that like WoW there's no blocking from behind) and lets you face your party, so you can easily see if a mob attacks someone else.

3. the Intercept: save your taunts for mobs that are trying to run after a healer, so you can intercept them and easily bring them back into the fold. Tanks should not taunt off each other. It's a waste. It happens of course, from time to time, but there are lots of better uses for taunts.

4. the Juggle: The hardest technique of the bunch. Often you'll need to tank multiple mobs, when you do so, you can't simply attack one target. If you do, the others will eventually switch to the healers. But if you spread your attacks to broadly, the target being focus-fired (hopefully that's what your dps is doing) will turn on a DPSer. So you put the majority of your attacks on one target, and try to corral the others with AoE, taunts, and occasional attacks.

There's no magic formula to this, but if you watch what happens and adjust you can easily figure out a good balance.

Offtanks share these responsibilities, tending to focus on intercepts and strays. The offtank can also be the eyes in the back of the main tank's head, seeing what's coming up from ahead of the party, while the MT focuses on the mobs in play.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Patch Day Distractions

I don't know about you, gentle reader, but I for one never get anything done after a big patch. There's always a zillion things to do that aren't really playing the game at all. Sometimes its just futzing with addons that eats up my time, in other cases its a respec. Patch 1.2 was the mailbox game edition of patch day distractions. I hope for your sake that all your dye producing junk was in your bag or bank, but if like me you use the mail as an ancillary bank (running across IC is nice and all, but inconvenient to my on-the-go-murdering-people lifestyle). Based on the gaggle aroun the mailbox in the IC quad, I'm guessing my strategy is pretty common. Anyway, mail service was hella slow. So slow that I often just clicked an attachment a couple of times and then opened the next one, hoping for the best.

Compounding the problem was the untimely demise of zMailMod, as shown here:

Now some folks in the new (and totally obnoxious) IC region chat were saying that zmailmod still worked, albeit slowly. I can't say, but it didn't strike me as at all responsive.

So yeah mail was hosed. On the other hand the new multi-attachment thing worked perfectly and more quickly than zmail ever did.

Back to that IC region chat. Such a terrible waste of time. Useful, I imagine for buying and selling and all, but oh so annoying. There was actually a giant political argument going on. MMOs and politics are not friends, people. Half of the people trolling IC chat aren't old enough to vote, and the other half didn't vote.

Seriously, just say no.

So as everyone no doubt knows deprecated crafting reagents got the ol' dye job. 10 veggies or 20 animal bits convert into chaos black dye. By the way, what a nice touch. Black dye is very desirable (for destruction anyway) but not at all attainable before this little treat. I will treasure and hoard my dyes until I know they'll go to good use.

But about the conversion process. I have to say that I admire mythic's handling of this. By which I mean, they didn't just whisk it all away. There's a little color text and a conversion action. It made the whole thing kind of fun.

Items that were reclassed or converted to another item also had a "touched by the winds of chaos" bit that I thought was pretty nice. In some cases, you could even use the old item instead of converting it, I saw that setup on some apoth reagents that got cultivation conversions.

Vials, at least high end ones, got a special conversion description that caused me some alarm:

But no worries, it converted to a similar level epic quality vial. I thought i was going to have a pocket full of broken glass for a minute.

Finally a /bonk to myself for not having a bit of faith in mythic. If you've been in Troll Country recently you've probably gotten some "Torn" equipment. Shoulderplates, weaponry, robes all of it only said "this isn't convertable to something usable by your class." I knew, I knew that this was just a bug, and yet ... you couldn't disenchant, or vendor, so when my bags filled up a trashed these, a lot of them, probably a dozen. I had exactly two left, stored in an alt's bank. Lo and Behold come 1.2, they're fixed:

Yeah, I probably shouldv'e destroyed those worn garments in my bag before i killed all that nice and valuable gear. Oh well. Live and learn.

Hope you all had a fun patch day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm so excited ... I just can't hide it.

Merry Patch Day to one and all.

Looks like a good un, and should be an interesting log-in tonight. Here's in order the things I'm excited to see in action:

1. Crafting changes. Yes, I'm a crafting geek, but I spend a lot of time on this stuff, and it all sounds very promising. Buff pots persist through death? yes please! Easier cultivating and talisman crafting? Oh hell yeah. New cultivating gathering skill and a whole new apothecary interface to boot? Lots of promise here. I'll pour a distilled water on the ground for the brothers who ain't around ... namely apothecary drops from scavenging, but I'm still very excited about what's awaiting me here.

Also, 20 decomissioned crafting reagents gets a limited time dohicky. I bet i've got 20 of these. I hope I get a pony.

2. Class changes. Chosen seems to have gotten a decent tweak, we'll see. Nothing here stands out as mind-blowing, but that doesn't mean it won't have a big impact. Also, free mastery refund ... yay? Not the biggest fan of the mastery paths, tbh. Don't really get my blood pumping. One long path ... with some spells? And tactics? eh, okay, I guess. Maybe I'd be more excited if it did a better job of defining roles, but I'm not feeling it dawg.

3. Gunbad changes! Okay, your mileage may vary, but I'm in a major Gunbad mindset, and it sounds like it got some nice lovin' particularly a boss loot upgrade, which is always welcome. Rare dyes are sweetness.

4. easy pqs: I've got a nice little guild so I'm not quite as needy for easy pq's as I might be, but these are still very welcome.

5. Bitter rivals ... I guess. Meh. I know I'll get into this, but I'm just not really that gung ho about the rewards. Nice and all, but nothing to get too excited about. Still I'm an influence junkie, and pretty competitive so I know I'll be pushing hard to get this despite my general indifference to the loot.

I'll be curious to see what kind of world-impact this event has. Will I feel like .. oh this is totally "Bitter Rivals" when I log on? Will the event be immersive in any way? Night of murder had a little of this: the slaughterhags everywhere, the burning crossbones, the sinsearchers, but was still pretty easy to ignore.

Early access to the new classes? Not really for me. I'll probably make a choppa up at some point, but I'm not in any rush. No slayers thanks, I don't do the dwarf thing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

spell effects, scenarios and shoulder plates


Good WAR weekend for me: Gunbad right wing run, first piece of stalker set, lots of scenarios. A couple random thoughts:

Spell effects settings. So the settings on spell effects work like this: choose performance level (fastest framerate, balanced, or super awesome ... something like that, I'll never know) and who's effects you show: none, self, party, warband, all.

Default for me was fastest and party (i think). So what's curious about this is that mobs that have spell effects, like say the Herald of solithex the final boss of the third PQ on the right side of Gunbad, drops these little purple volcanos everywhere, but you'd never know if your spell effects weren't set to "all". You see nothing. And then you die.

So a couple of thoughts about this: one, why would I want to see friendly effects, but not hostile ones? I'd much rather for performance reasons see say, unfriendly only, or self and unfriendly.

Also, does this mean there are opposing PC effects that I've been missing? If so, what the fudge! Why would you let me turn this off?

Okay, so as a side note on that fight, my party-mates, good folks all, told me that we should fight the herald at the top of the ramp by the mixa cauldrons. I'm a noob to the dungeon so I wasn't going to argue, but yeah, I think that's wrong.

At the top you have three narrow paths that meet by the entrance to the final wing boss, and you sort of cluster in there. So when the herald drops his volcanos, you have nowhere to go but back and back. Tank him on the bottom and sidestep, imo. Has Prince Malchezzar taught us nothing?

Okay, where was I. Oh yeah. Jeez there's a lot of scenarios in tier 3. I thought I'd done them all when i posted on friday. Wrong. six scenarios. Some pretty good ones too. I'm particularly fond of Talabec Dam. While its possible to just zerg up at the bomb drop in the center, it seems to encourage small group fights, which I quite fancy. Also, it just strikes me as very narrative in a way that many others aren't.

The crater is more of a king of the hill sort of deal, reminds me of the old days of Tarren Mill sieging in WoW, sort of a big standoff with the occasional bloody charge.

Still haven't done any high pass cemetary, so I'll be curious to see what that's like.


Okay last random thought, everyone knows that WAR has borrowed liberally from WoW in play mechanics and such, and most everyone knows that WoW borrowed many aesthetic/world ideas from Warhammer, but it occured to me that perhaps the most important of these is the shoulder plates.

Seriously, giant shoulder plates should be copyright games workshop. Were others doing it in the late 80s and early 90s? Probably so, but no one made quite the art out of it that GW did. Warhammer 40k's space marines are sort of the poster child but the early realms of choas stuff, which was both fantasy and 40k also made full use of the gigantic flamboyant pauldron.

Nowadays it seems kind of like a standard, but it really isn't. There's no giant shoulder plates in Tolkien, or AD&D or any of the other sources for most of fantasy's design fundamentals. Giant shoulders are really a games workshop product.