Friday, 30 April 2010

There's no place like home

Backseatdev is great with the breaking news and has just brought news from the Producer's Letter that in patch 1.3.6 you'll be allowed to roll Order and Destro on the same server.

Wow. This is a bombshell. At first I thought WTF but now I think it coud be Kewl.

After a long time on Order I've always wanted to play Destro but couldn't leave my "home server" Karak Norn. I tried a Black Orc on Azgal once but it felt way too weird. Didn't last more than a few hours. It felt like I was a stranger in a foreign land and nothing was the same. They didn't even have Rich Tea biscuits.

My intial WTF reaction was wondering what it would do for realm balance and realm pride with everyone hopping over to the other side all the time. But giving players options is a good thing, and what's good for the player is good for the game. I'm sure Mythic will implement it with thought and care - they've already mentioned "significant lockout timers".

I can't help think what else is up Mythic's sleeve. In her Producer's letter Carrie mentions oRvR is on the radar. Great.

Average Renown Rank & Me

I hear different things about where the average renown rank of players is right now. I read that most people are already RR80 or that most people will be RR80 very soon, and even that most people will never reach RR80. So I had to find out for myself.

The Realm WAR page for Europe was recently restored to a place where it works so I could look up Destro that appeared in my combat logs.

Below is the RR distribution of 100 random Destro I have fought on Karak Norn. There will be some error from only taking 100 ppl, and some will be alts, but it gives a good indication of where it's at.

On Karak Norn most people are already RR60+, most people will soon be RR70+ and it looks like most people will get to RR80 one day (me included!)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

What would happen if Keep Defense earnt better Rewards?

Zizlak had an intersting post t'other day amidst all the new patch hype. The gist is that the new city siege mechanic isn't going to do anything for the general RvR campaign and as City invasions will still happen all too often they will soon run out of The Epic. The new city siege could end being a daily super-scenario.

The problem I've found with the RvR campaign in the last month since I came back to the game is that there's just so little actual fighting. The opposition have no incentive to defend in any force so it's just one side getting a little organised or waiting to become the underdog, then claiming a few unopposed keeps and waiting patiently for the lock. So much standing around and doing nothing.

This could actually get worse with the new City mechanic with both sides probably quite willing for their City to fall to get experience of the new City and the rewards that come with it. In my last post a couple of days ago I was happy with rewards for participation but having said what I've just said I do hope the rewards for a successful invasion far outweigh those for the losers.

Back in May 2009, before my break, the RvR was still hugely contested on Karak Norn. City invasions were just starting to happen. It provided plenty of action but if I'm honest it was very frustrating too because Order (my team) were outnumbered and/or outclassed. We could put a lot of effort into defense and get nothing out of it.

I want what Zizlak wants. The RvR campaign to be THE enjoyable part of the game with a City invasion being a special rare treat at the end.

It got me wondering what would happen if they made Keep Defense a very worthwhile experinence for the players, like very, very rewarding.

How about if players defending a keep were rewarded with a 5 times drop rate on crests and other loot drop. New seed drops maybe. Perhaps introduce scenario insignias into RvR but only for keep defense kills. Whatever, but worthwhile stuff.

The point would be to make defending a keep so worthwhile that players/guilds would want to turn up to defend. But to get the rewards for defending you would have to attack and take a keep in the first place, so it would encourage attacking as well.

It's a counter-intuituve idea but I think that changing the emphais from attack to defense in RvR might mix things up a bit.

I'd love to hear other's opinions on this idea and any other thoughts on how to give general RvR a boost in the arm.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Participation & Reward

I don't know whether I'm Hardcore or Casual and I wish I didn't have to think about it, or even that the distinction had to exist, but it does. I don't know why I even feel the need to preface what I am saying here with this but, again, there you go.

If I had to pigeonhole myself I would say I was Casual. I have a full-time job, a mortgage and a 2 year old son so there's a lot of responsibility right there, and little time for games. I do try and play as much as I can but that might only amount to 5 hours a week sometimes, and rarely (never!) am I able to commit to scheduled events or late night schtick. But if I was a purely casual player I wouldn't pour over combat logs nor would I be spending time on a blog.

There are people like me who can't easily be pigeon-holed, who might have limited playing time but want to make the most of it. That's why I like the reward system in Warhammer. It definitely keeps me playing.

Scenarios reward insignia despite losing and the new City system will also reward the losing side. Participation brings rewards but don't forget winning gives better rewards.

Rewarding particiption has rubbed some people up the wrong way but it shouldn't. Participation is required for a healthy and competitive game. Earning them shinines keeps people playing. If I felt I wasn't getting anything out of my precious 2 hour game slot then I'm sure I'd find myself drifting away, as well as many other players similar to me, and that would not be good, would it?

Friday, 23 April 2010

Rampant Indulgence about Wood Elves

Mykiel has made an astute observation on PODCAST about the meaning of the Red Plague content in the latest patch notes and the possible introduction of Skaven as a new race so I am going to partake in a bit of rampant indulgance about new races and classes.

The fan's favourites at the moment seem to be Skaven and Lizardmen. Skaven are okay but I just can't get my head around Lizardmen, with their big googley eyes and lollopping tongues.

Chaos: "Heed my command mortal, and bow down before the might of Chaos!"
Lizardman: "I am Uk-Tuq of the Frog People. Croak Croak."

I would prefer to see Wood Elves, who also get a mention in the Red Plague lore . Wood Elves in Warhammer aren't anything like the current High Elves in-game, all ooty-snooty in posh shiny armour, and they certainly aren't like Legolas in Lord of the Rings. They are a dark and dangerous race and embody the malignent spirit of the forest, like a wild animal prowling it's territorry and woe be tide anyone who ventures across their border. They aren't a "Good" race like Empire or Dwarfs and would definitely add some cool to Order.

Wardancers (MDPS)
These would be the most exciting new class if Wood Elves were introduced to WAR. They are acrobatic and savage fighters, duel-weilding, and preferring warpaint to armour. They would be a whirling dervish in combat and the obvious MDPS class. I can envisage special acrobatic moves, such as an attack that causes the Wardancer to leap over the top of a player spinning around to make an attack to the rear, or perhaps defensive moves like somersaulting away from an attack. They could have a combat resource called Wardance that builds up with subsequent attacks. Once filled they get access to high powered attacks, both offensive or defensive.

Dryads (Tank)
These are ancient forest creatures and can really be summed up as being like small Treemen. They would be the perfect Tank for Wood Elves. In Warhammer lore Dryads lure unsuspecting passer-by into their clutches before tearing them to pieces on sharp branches and thorns. To represent this I would give the Dryad player an ability which lowers it's defense but also generates 'Ancient Power' each time the Dryad is hit which can then be used to unleash strong attacks.

HighBorn (Healer)
The Highborn are the leaders of the Wood Elf army. Wood Elves are a very close-comabt heavy race so the Highborn would be a melee healer similar to the DoK. I would devise a mechanic that allows the Highborn to boost his healing power depending on what's happening to the party he is in (or just to him when solo). One option could be to build healing power everytime a group member successfully defends against an attack. Or he could switch to build power whenever a group member scores a critcal hit. The player would be able to switch between differnt options depending on the group and the situation.

SpellSinger (RDPS)
The Wood Elf army calls upon the power of the forest for it's magic so the SpellSinger would be a Caster who could summon this power a bit like a pet. The focus would be a little more on utility than a BW or Sorc so more like a Magus or Eng. She could call upon a host of creatures which would could be "launched" at an enemy, like a stampede of horses, or cause players to be snared in thorns and brambles. I would probably give her some healing too.

I would definitely get excited about Wood Elves in Warhammer!!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

WAR Stats: Avoidance and Onions

I've been having a good 'ol think about combat and avoidance for some time now and have done some testing in-game. It's been a bit like an onion really. There are many layers to peel and it makes my eyes cry so I'll be breaking it down into a few parts.

In this part I'll be looking at some basics and testing a balanced Parry & Disrupt build. In part 2 I'll go all out and stack more avoidance and throw a big shield into the mix and see how that fares. I want to look at how avoidance works with Guard damage too. Once I'm done with testing I hope to offer some insights to the worth of avoidance vs. mitigation as there is much more to avoidance than just reducing overall damage, such as avoiding CC and damage spikes.

Basic Mechanic
Stats and Items give a character a percentage chance to avoid attacks.
Rok did an awesome job of posting the theory of combat in his post 'From Mace to Face'. Check it out for a more in-depth look at combat. I thank him for the loan of the equations :)

Weapon Skill gives a % chance to parry a melee attack. My modest 350 Weapon Skill gives me a base chance to parry of 7.4% on the character screen.

Similarily, Willpower offers a % chance to disrupt an attack from a Caster and Initative gives a % chance to Dodge ranged attacks.

Block gives a % chance to avoid any type of attack. A decent T4 purple shield with a block rating of 370 translates as a %Block value of 21.1% on my character screen.

However an attacker's offensive stat (Str, Int or BS) reduces the defender's chance to defend. A melee attack made with 1000 Strength will reduce my base chance to block from to 21.1% to 14.8% and my chance to parry will drop from 7.4% to 5.3%.

There are other bonuses in-game (Tactics, Items, Buffs) that influence the chance to attack and defend, e.g. +5% to Block or 5% reduced chance to be Evaded. 2-Handed weapons reduce chance to defend by 10%.

And very importantly Block and Parry are only useful when the attack is made to your front, a 180 degree arc I think.

Please TheoryHammer! Don't Hurt Us!
As you can see there is a lot going on with avoidance and a base chance to avoid on the character screen of 10% may or may not translate to that in combat. So on to some testing...

Through a combination of gear, tactics and renown points I got both my Parry and Disrupt to 18%. I ran with a 2-hander so my Block chance was 0%. I didn't use any abilities which provided a buff to these stats.

I specifically chose Parry and Disrupt to test as Parry is only effective against Melee attacks and Disrupt is only effective against Casters. The two can be kept seperate. Also, as Parry is positional and only defends against attacks from the front and Disrupt defends from all directions I can get an idea how much Parry I lose out on by getting attacked from behind. I must add that the current situtation in-game will dictate my positioning rather than trying to keep my attackers in front of me all the time. If I need to move to defend an ally in some way then I usually will even if that means exposing my back (not to a witch Elf though!!).

Results with 18% Parry and 18% Disrupt
  • I was attacked 1260 times by Casters and Disrupted 85 times. 6.7% Disrupt Rate.
  • I was attacked 1478 times by Melee and Parried 81 times. 5.5% Parry Rate.
Furthermore from Initative I had about an 8% chance to Dodge. I was hit by a Squig Herder 123 times and didn't Dodge any of them!! 0% Dodge Rate.

This is really pretty depressing at first glance. It appears that approx. 10-12% of your avoidance is wiped off your base stat straight away by your atatcker's offensive stats and gear.

I have had a go at working out the amount of potential damage I avoided. I would appreciate some comments on this comparison as it's not an easy one.

Looking just at the Sorcerer for starters, those bastards hit me 407 times and I disrupted 26 hits (6.4% avoidance). I can see which individual abilities I avoided so can make a good estimate of the damage those 26 Disrupts saved me from. Sorcs did 154,352 damage to me overall and I estimate that I avoided an extra 13,826. That's an overall damage reduction of 8% or 34 dmg per hit. If I've got this right I would need ~170 extra Toughness (34*5)to get the same overall reduction in damage, which is quite a bit actually. 34 renown points buys you 102 Toughness. A tactic slot all Tanks get called Rugged gives 160 toughness.

With the Sorc being a high DPS class I also took a look at the damage I avoided from wimpy Tanks. I was hit by Tanks 675 times and parried 38 hits (5.6%) avoiding an estimated 4067 damage, a reduction in damage of 5% or 6 Dmg per Hit. This is equivalent to the overall damage reduction I would gain from an extra 30 Toughness.

A common perception in Warhammer is that avoidance is worthless in PvP as your chance to avoid an attack gets reduced far too much by your attacker's setup. I've demonstrated this is true to an extent with my both my Parry and Disrupt rates getting reduced from 18% to ~6%. But by comparing the potential damage avoided against a Sorc and against Tanks it suggests the benefit of avoiding an attack get proportionally better the higher the damage of the attack. This is a bit like in PvE when Tuten McBosspants is hitting you for 8000 per hit - it's better to avoid that hit entirely than just mitigate it down to 7500 or something.

I'm starting to think now that avoidance might be the best path for me. In my other WAR Stats posts I've shown that it's the high damage attacks from the likes of Sorcs and Witch Elves that do me the most harm, and I know from experience it's getting big hits in quick succession that gets me killed in a hurry. Having a chance to avoid these big hits rather just soak them up sound good to me. Plus there's the intangilble benefit of avoiding some CC or a nasty armour debuff.

Quite a bit to chew on. I hope this has not made your eyes water and makes some sense. Next up I'm going to try and stack even more Disrupt and see if the extra X% that I stack on top of the 18% I've tested here translates to an extra as X% in-game.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Dinging along nicely

It's been just over a month since I came back to the game and I am pleased to say things are going well.

I've gone from RR41 to RR50 (dinged last night!). That's pretty good going as far as I'm concerned. I've also accrued 4 Invader pieces and have plenty of crests for me to get the 5th or 6th if I want to and when I'm ready.

I've also got some other nice gear, some rings and cloaks and stuff, oh, and a Weapon of WAR! So yeah, loot.

I've been spending a lot of time look at "my role" as a Swordmaster and what stats and abilities are important to me. I've spent a lot of time thinking and tinkering but it's been worth it. I feel more effective in PvP now than I did 10 months ago, even though I'm pretty much in the same gear I was then, which is relatively poor by today's standards (Anni/Conq). I'm looking forward to equipping some of the Invader!!

I've still not done any serious PvE. I have not been to Lost Vale or ToVL yet and really don't know if I ever will. I haven't got the time for long raids and things. I just don't get the buzz from PvE that I get versus human opponents. It feels more like a chore, like it's just for the loot. I do feel a gentle tugging on me in that direction though, so who knows.

In other news, I've been doing some testing of avoidance in-game and will have a new WAR Stats post up in a few days.

Happy Bashing

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Land of Tank and Glory

Scenario Scoreboards are an integral part of WAR but they are not conducive to good team play. I have an idea to change that.

DPS classes do Damage. Healers Heal. So far, so good.

The role of Tanks isn't that simple though. They are there to support other classes.

The scenario scoreboards give a measure of Damage Done and Healing Done. How does a tank measure his or her impact on the result?

The only obvious measure available to a Tank in a scenario is damage done. Tanks commonly stack strength and use a two-hander to maximise their offence. Forums are full of screenshots and boasts about topping the charts and doing 200K damage or whatever. I can't really blame them either. There's nothing else to boast about.

When a scenario finishes and I scroll down to the bottom of the scoreboard to see my damage only just topping that of a WP who did 10K damage but 200K healing I can't help but metaphorically sink into my chair and glance around a little to make sure no-one's looking my way. There is little glory for a support Tank.

Add an additional column on scenario scoreboards alongside Damage and Healing, let's call it Protection.

Protection would measure the reduction of incoming damage to party members and, importantly, party members only, not to the individual player.

This would not be exclusive to tanks, but a new score for all players. Let's look at some examples. Lancelot is your friendly KotBS and Teclis an Archmage.

  • Mitigated Guard Damage - Lancelot is guarding Teclis who gets hit for 800 damage. Lancleot takes 50% of that so is hit for 400. Armour mitigates 75% of that so Lancelot has been hit for 100 damage and mitigated 300 that otherwise would have hit Teclis. Lancelot scores 300 Protection.
  • Avoided Guard Damage - Lancleot takes a guard hit from Teclis of 500 but that shield he's so fond of blocks it completely. 500 Protection for Lancelot.
  • Buffs - Teclis buffs Lancelot's resists and reduces the damage from an incoming Gloombolt to him by 150, earning Teclis a 150 Protection.
  • Debuffs - Lancelot has a weapon that steals 80 strength from enemy players and as a result Teclis gets hit by 100 less damage. 100 to Lancelot.
  • Absorbs - Teclis puts a bubble up around Lancelot which absorbs 650 damage. 650 to Teclis.

You get the picture. Any ability that directly or indirectly reduces damage to your team mates is totalled up as Protection in a new column on the scenario scoreboards.

This gives every class increased reason to use their protective abilities but in particular will emphasise teamplay and encourage and reward Tanks who play a support role which, in my opinion, will be for the betterment of the game for everyone.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


This post is up from Andy Mythic on the official forums about the planned City changes and there is a tonne of extra juicy in the form of Q&A appearing from the blogger champions. Shadow-War and Mykiel have City RvR specific posts up.

It does sound like it's going to be a fun ride. The 3 different stages sound varied and interesting. 2 hours maximum is good. Rewards win or lose is good. Only relying on your own instance for the result is good. And the super-buffed player-champions idea is super-buffed-good. I look forward to seeing this in action. I hope the players are visibly buffed - supersized I mean. Imagine a 20ft Black Orc stomping on loads of stunties!

Being issued your instructions by the Realm Leader (Karl Franz or Tchar'zanek) and getting to see these guys be called in for special moves will add some grandness to the whole affair.

My biggest stumbling block with the news so far is this, from Mythic's thread...

"Players will be forcibly placed within a Warband upon entering a City instance equipped with an instance-specific chat channel. Manipulation of looting rules will be disabled"

Reading Mykiel's Q&A about this, it sounds to me that Mythic don't want organised Warbands grouping up and queueing for instances together. It sounds like each single person queues on their own and is randomly assigned to a warband.

This sucks. I am really going to want to play this part of the game with my guildies. Not just for the organised/competitive edge that comes with that but because these are the people I know in game and enjoy playing with.

And I can imagine a whole load of chaos deciding who the warband-leader is going to be. There will be heat! Communication is a big slice of success in WAR.

I'm sure Mythic have thought about this but it's gonna pose problems and I'm sure high-end players/guilds are going to like it even less.

They could at least think about letting single groups join.

EDIT: From Werit's post it seems single groups may in fact remain together. Smiles.

Overall though, it looks rosey and I can't wait.

Meet Jumby

This post on the Tank section of the official forums made me smile, especially as it popped up in a thread discussing the merits of a Swordmaster.

I've copied a bit of the post here. Follow the link for the full post.

"...Meet Jumby. He is a RR70 Chosen and enters a scenario. He sees the front lines charging strong. Jumby thinks fast and unleashes the following combo: Blast Wave, Rending Blade, Challenge

Each member of the charging front line has just lost some health, but more importantly all of their wounds have been reduced by 111. The combination of Jumby's 45% crit and the AoE attacks has most likely crit every single member of the front lines too, and due to Crippling Strikes, their damage has been reduced by 25%. Jumby's Challenge also reduces damage by 30% so long as they don't attack Jumby. Jumby is so scary looking, they wouldn't dare. So, now the whole front lines are wounded and weak. I don't think they're a threat anymore! Go ahead Jumby, run on past them.

Jumby gets past the front lines into the backlines of RDPS and healers. How can Jumby stop them all!?!? I know, Quake! Now all of the backlines are staggered and are of no threat for several seconds! Further, if he crit any of those nasty Bright Wizards, they will wake up with 25% less damage due to Crippling Strikes. Good Jumby!

Ok, Jumby's not done yet. He still needs to kill someone. That Rune Priest looks tasty. First, let's use Dizzying Blow to slow him down and then Touch of Palsy to make it hurt if he tries to run away. Now, let's add a Seeping Wound for yummy DoT damage. Ok, so the Rune Priest can't get away and he's a little wounded. How on earth can Jumby kill this bugger though?..."

Read the Full Post here.

Monday, 12 April 2010

What's woot got to do with it?

Before my stint away from the game I had been to defend Altdorf four or five times. Theses visits were generally marred by slide-show lag and general confusion as to what to do. It wasn’t great but people were still getting used to it. Confrontation with actual real enemy players was avoided as people tried to find an empty instance. Even then we’d struggle to kill the PQ boss in time and never got to Stage 2. IC was the same.

On Friday I got to go back to the Inevitable City for the first time since my return. And my thoughts? Well the changes in 1.3.5 will be extremely welcome but I am glad to have had the chance to farm free Invader first!!

Most players have probably got all the Invader gear they need now but I am still in need of it – or I was until Friday anyway. In the 3 hours the “siege” lasted I got 3 Invader pieces and crests enough to buy a 4th.

The city siege involved one hour in Stage 1 where I didn’t do anything except stand on the stairs to the Apex and watch another warband try (and fail) to kill Adell. No bother though, Stage 1 was won and Stage 2 was up. My guild had enough folks about to take on the King (and win) but, alas, I didn’t have the wards so was left behind on my todd .

There were a hanadful of other Order left in the instance . We all just stood around taking and retaking BOs for 2 hours. 2 whole hours doing amost nothing. I made some comments to the other players there that this was “…a bit boring…” only to get the reply “no, this is great” “free loot” “wootwoot” “we love it, free loot!”.


At the time It really didn’t feel like fun at all. It wasn’t enjoyable. I wish I’d had a film to watch. It was a very good job I had beer!! But now, looking back, I don’t regret it and would do it over. I even let out a little “woot” myself when I got the Invader chest piece.

And this has left me musing over the whole “what’s fun?” question. What was it that made me readily do doing something boring in my own free time ? For me, it was the feeling that future game-time will now be that extra bit more enjoyable. I will feel more competitive in PvP, or at least not feel like I am lacking an edge due to dated gear. And I won’t have the niggling feeling of compulsion that I need to be getting the better gear.

I have always been against the gear-grind, believing (hoping!!) that skill was just as important and that the game could be enjoyed all the same whatever gear you had. But even on these merits, it’s got to be more enjoyable with better gear, no? I might even be tempted to try out some of that PvE lark. Well, maybe not.


Friday, 9 April 2010

WAR Stats: Hard Hitting

This is a look at the abilites which do the most damage per hit on my Karak Norn Swordmaster. From my combat logs I have totalled up the damage done by each ability and then divided this by the number of times the ability actually hit me.

The numbers are before any mitigation from Toughness, Armour or Resists to give them more relevane to all classes, rather than slanting the numbers with my high tanky mititgation.

I've only included abilities which hit me more than 20 times (out of 2000 total hits). There are certain abilities, such as Morales, which hit hard but they might only have hit me once or twice so I'm not counting them as typical.

Remeber this is average damage per hit and before any mitigation. It's an average of all normal and all critical hits together and this can smooth over the potential actual damage some of these abilities can do.

For example, from my logs I can see Agonizing Wounds can crit for ~1500 (before mitigation) and, as it ignores armour if struck from behind, I will often take ~1000 actual damage from an Agonizing Wounds crit.

Saying that though, Sorc crits regularily do me for closer to 2000 actual damage. I mitigate about 50-60% of Sorc damage meaning the total hit before mitigation would be scarily around 4000. I dread to think what this would do to a low toughness class with debuffed Spirit resistance.

Conclusions: Ouch and Double Ouch
As I've been posting my other results and seeing the Sorcs taking the damage biscuit I've been mindful that a lot of this damage could be so called "meaningless damage", AoE or DoTs, that are easily healed away, and it's the burst abilites that get the real job done.

The results show that Sorcs has the potential to inflict more single big hits on me as well as most overall damage. I have to stop them somehow, for the greater good.

I have been tailoring my spec a bit for greater survivability vs. Sorcs. and it has worked out well, but I had been holding some back until now as I was fearful of losing to much to melee classes, particularily the Choppa and Witch Elves.

Swordmaster's were initially portrayed by Mythic as the "anti-magic Tank" and there are a few useful abilities for this which are often ignored on the SM forums.

I am going to explore further a Sorc-Killing role for my SM.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

AFK & Go Bloggers!

I've been AFK a bit as my wife has been laid out by an infection for the best part of a week so I have been taking care of her and our son. She has no interest in WAR or even computer games but still reads this blog which is nice and kinda weird. Get well soon, honey!

The news that Werit, Gaarawar, Shadow-War and Mykiel are being flown to Mythic HQ to get a preview of the City changes has filled me with even more optimism than usual about the future of WAR. Mythic must be feeling confident about making a really significant change to the game. I can't wait to read what everyone has to say.

In-game I've just started some testing of different builds for my next WAR Stats post, although I doubt I'll have time to complete it this week now. I'll be comparing a high avoidance set-up (e.g. block, parry) versus a pure mitigation set-up (Toughness FTW!).