Friday, May 29, 2009

Things I'm excited about in Patch 1.3 - Talismans

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

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

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

Other items of note:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PvP Strategy: the Charge

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

Let's break it down.

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

That is a charge.

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

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

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

What you should do is ... charge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charging: it works. Give it a try.


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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PvP for Dummies

Do you have a shield?

Go stand in front.

Are you wearing a dress?

Stand in back.

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

Please direct your aggression towards the enemy wearing dresses.

Do you have healing spells?

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



Monday, May 18, 2009

Gunbad in 1.3

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

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

the bad thing:

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


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

A Very RvR Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tanks in PVP: A Guide for Casters

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


Tanks: Your armored friends

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

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

Tanks Can Do:

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

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

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

Tanks Cannot:

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

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

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

Why sigils are good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why I play

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

PQ Crawl-ette: the recap

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

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

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

What we learned:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun Time Volkmar

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

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

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