Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Blip & POW

My lust for WAR is suffering from a blip at the moment. I've posted more in the last 2 weeks than I've played and I haven't posted much. I have been logging on from time to time but the game has been unable to keep my attention. I've actually found myelf doing a T4 Epic Weapon quest and chasing some ToK accessory pieces rather than getting stuck into RvR. I have also picked up on a waning in enthusiam amongst the community. There are plenty of previously active blogs on my blog roll that have been quiet now for a good 5 or 6 weeks. I think 1.3.5 and the pre-patch hype was quite a big deal and took up a lot of energy, both for the community and at Mythic, plus the start of summer must have an affect. I think this is only natural after the high of the City patch, a producer's letter must be immenent though... .

HOWEVER, this week's "break" on the EU servers has piqued my interest and the absence of XP/RR that comes with the server move has posed an interesting question - would you still play WAR without the progression?

I would. Certainly. The PvP is great fun and I love the Warhammer World so of course I'd still play. In many ways I'd prefer no progression, or at least prefer less of a huge rank grind.

My motivation to get to RR80 is not to finish the game, but to start it. At RR80 I will feel my character is complete, my "training" over, and it's time therefore to put some serious skullage on the skull throne, or whatever the Asuryan equivalent is. I don't even feel it necessary to get to RR80 either, perhaps 60 something will do.

A lot of people seem to quit at 80, or once they've got all their PvE loot on, but that's not the case for me. I haven't even been to Lost Vale or ToVL yet, and don't intend to ever go, even if this leaves me with a bitter taste about the much-coveted Glyphs and Tyrant.

It's all about the thrill and challenge of player versus player comabt to me so logging on during this downtime will be very interesting. A lot of people won't bother playing at all. The people who do though will hopefully be up a mighty scrap. No freenowning, no selfish behaviour around BOs or Keeps, and hopefully just players out there for the fun of the fight. No Zergs too I'd imagine and it might slow the campaign down to the pace it had in the early days. It could turn out to be a very interesting week.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Swordmaster Scenario Weapons

Here are the scenario weapons for the Swordmaster from Rank 40 onwards. I've found it good to know what I'm aiming for :) Click to see larger images. I owe a debt to Gaar.

The Titan Blades are the offensive choice, Sentry defensive. I'm currently gunning for the Invader Defensive 2H. Weapon DPS contributes a lot to some key SM abilities (like Ether Dance) and Strength less so.

What weapon are you using to drive the foul taint of Chaos from the shores of Ulthuan?

Shokk Sez Waaagh!!

The Blurring Shock team has expanded!! A delightful Orc with a big choppa from the greenskin clan Da Blurz Boyz has joined the blog to give an informed and rounded perspective on weekly happenings surrounding Warhammer Online. Give a warm welcome to Shokk...

Shokk on Warhammer 40K: Dark Millenium
Wot da fook is dis all aboot den? Dark mil'len...mil'el...Da Fu'tah Waaagh! We not giv a snotling aboot dis, is moons away init?! Even da runts will be Big 'Uns by den. Dem massiv blastas luk gud for blastin' tho.
VERDICT: Waaaghh!!

Shokk on Josh Drescher leaving Mythic
Who da fook is dis then? Sum humie by da sound of it. Heard da name but dunno wot he dun. Musta dun summink gud as Shokk enjoy da big Waaagh! Wud say gud luk to him but e's a stinkin' humie, in'ee?
VERDICT: Waaagh!!

Shokk on RunePriest changes
Wot, dat stunty fella gettin' new stik to bash me wiv? Shokk still gonna bash 'im 'arder dan he bash Shokk, an' wen da stunty bash Shokk da boyz go an' bash uv'er stunties even 'arder.
VERDICT: Waaagh!!

Shokk will be back next week with another cosmopolitan take on a week in Waaaagh!!! :)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

AoE Anonymous

I haven't played WAR in a few days, I've been too hungover. There's a hole in my head where Saturday used to be. England played USA in the World Cup and I spent the weekend drinking in the pub. Gotrek would've been proud of me.

I could have logged in, I had the time, but I don't like to PvP unless I'm 100% fighting fit. I don't like to let my side down, whether this means my guild or even some random Order PuGs. If I'm going to play alongside other people who may be counting on my performance then I need to feel that I'm playing at my best. If not then I won't play.

Levelling was different. If I was tired I could just go and farm XP or PQ influence for a few hours, and it was progress and without responsibility, and I miss that hassle free bit of grindiness if I'm honest. Not enough to level up another character that way though. It's PvP or nothing nowadays.

And talking of PvP, Brazil play in the World Cup today. Brazil are traditionally seen as the flair side of international football, a star-laden team committed to the art of the beautiful game. On the radio this morning Brazil have come under fire for taking a more pragmatic approach to the World Cup this year, abandoning their attacking traditions in favour of a "Play to Win" mentality. Their fans though would rather they played beautiful football and lost than win ugly. Scrubs?

Back to WAR, this has chimed with me a little because some issues with the Swordmaster, which probably apply to other classes too. The Swordmaster does excellent Single Target damage and gets a lot of joy out of small-scale PvP, but in large scale RvR single target damage doesn't cut the mustard. AoE rulez 4EVA..

During class discussions SM supporters have espoused the skill it takes to play the class, the satisfaction gained from combining multiple abilities effectively, and the finesse of single target damage in PvP compared to AoE. I'd want to totally agree with that on face value but a counter-argument from a well-respected player has made me think a little. If single-target damage was changed to be more effective than AoE then the battlefield would be won by superior numbers. It would be difficult for outnumbered but well-organised players to combat larger groups and they would get overwhelmed by Zergs. I'm going to quote this guy, Sidrath of Crimson on Karak-Norn..

"I love the bombing environment for RvR, and I love the single-target precision of scenarios/6v6. They are fundamentally different playstyles, both worth mastering. Bombing is not a travesty, it is a sensible mechanic to ensure servers don't become dominated by numbers-play: it allows a coordinated well-positioned 24-man to melt things just fast enough to avoid drowning under a sea of red. By all means, allow other DPS classes to contribute viable AoE - but don't campaign for RvR without stacked AoE otherwise any realm facing a massive numbers imbalance will have no 'hardcore' means of fighting back in the lakes, and would thus be condemned to die and get merged."

I've quoted this in full as it's a side of the argument I've not heard before or contemplated myself. I'm not 100% sure I agree with it, surely an organised single-target warband could still defeat a single-target zerg and, when bomb meets bomb, surely greater numbers will win out? But still, it's food for thought.

Anyway, a well-organised warband with tight AoE is not a simple thing to achieve. It requires team-work and discipline, just like beating Brazil does. Brazil boast fantastically talented players and it's not just any old team who can beat them, but for all their attacking flamboyance the World Champions are often the team who are the most well-organised. It's often the team with the best defence and organisation that wins, sprinkled with the odd over-powered player or two. Look at Italy's victory 4 years ago or Inter Milan's triumph in this season's Champion's League.

Football purists criticise the efficient approach of some teams but can't argue with it's effectiveness. I'm sure Brazil fans who bemoan their team's pragmatic approach will be delighted if they win the Cup. I've criticised the dominance of AoEand bombing warbands in the past but I will have yet to try it out myself. I'm sure if the Swordmaster happened to be the de facto class in Order's warband I wouldn't be complaining so much.

I'm going to respec my Swordmaster to an AoE orientated build and see how it goes. For a long time I didn't think the class had a viable AoE spec but picking up Phoenix Wing (PW), Protection of Hoeth (PoH) and Whispering Wind (WW), and rotating PoH, PW and Gusting Wind with the cooldown reduction from WW will give me some decent AoE damage. I will pick try and gear-up with some debuff procs on items to take advantage of the large number of hits I'll be getting.

I've no idea how this post ended up about AoE and with me respeccing, it certainly didn't start out that way!! Mind, I do have a pretty serious hangover ;)

Friday, 11 June 2010

RvR Ideas: The Campaign

I had too much to dream last night, too much to dream.

I've tried to think of a different campaign system for WAR's RvR. It borrows a lot from Bootae's posts about DAoC and WAR and I've also incorporated features from the new City Siege. I've found it a bit tricky to convey exactly what I wanted but will post anyway :p.

The campaign would involve two phases, first a fight for control of the keeps, then assault and defence of the Forts.

Phase 1: WAR for Territory

Summary: All zones and all keeps are open for capture and Order and Destro fight to claim as many keeps as they can until all are controlled. When claimed, keeps can be used as port locations for guilds and alliances. Keep control will offer a strategic advantage in Phase 2.

All 18 keeps in T4 are contested and open for capture at the start of the phase. There are no Keep Lords or Keep Doors.

To gain control of a keep 6 players need to interact with an objective inside the keep. Controlling a keep will NOT lock it down, i.e. they are immediatley recapturable.

Controlling a keep will spawn a very low HP door, this door is only designed to a allow some response time if it's attacked.

Rally Flags: Once a Keep is under a faction's control guilds can place a Rally Flag within the keep that will allow guild members to port inside using a Keep Scroll. Guilds can only have one Rally Flag active at any time but multiple guilds can have a Rally Flag in the same keep. Alliance Rally Flags are also available. These allow all players from an alliance to port there.

Guild and Alliance Flags are bought just like standards. Keep Scrolls have a 10 minute reuse timer on them. The whole point of generous use of scrolling is to avoid a situation where players have to stand guard at keeps for a long time as that is boring. Alliance scrolls give well organised alliances an edge.

Taking an already controlled keep will place it in a neutral state for the next 10 minutes. After this it becomes open to capture again by either side. The reason for this 10 minutes of neutrality is to keep Phase 1 from ending too quickly.

When every keep is controlled by one side or another (i.e. there are no uncontrolled keeps left) a 1 hour timer starts after which Phase 1 ends. This extra time is to give some final furious fighting over the keeps in key locations (see Phase 2). In the final hour keeps don't go into a neutral state when captured but pass straight into the control of whichever side captured them.

Phase 2: Push to the City

Summary: Order and Destro now battle for the Forts. Capture all 3 enemy Forts to win the phase and open up the City. Keeps control from Phase 1 provides strategic advantage as keeps are now permanently locked and are available to port to and from for the entire faction who control them.

Every keep you controlled in Phase 1 will be locked and uncapturable during Phase 2. They act as permanent port locations for all players from the faction who control it, not just the guild or alliances that placed Rally Flags there. Keep Scrolls are still on a 10 minute reuse timer.

Keeps can then be used to stage attacks on an enemy Fortress or to rally to and defend your own. The value of controlling the keeps closet to Forts should result in some serious conflict over these in Phase 1.

Capturing a Fort
Capturing a fort involves killing a Fortress Lord. These don't do damage, they just require a lot of killing. Fortress Lord's HP doesn't reset or regenerate so any damage done to them is permanent and once they are dead the Fort is captured until the campaign resets. They will take a tonne of killing so it will take numerous attempts to take them down.

Attackers cannot rez inside a Fort but Defender's can. Several waves of attack will be needed therefore, each one aiming to chip away at the Lord's health as much as possible.

Controlling the Middle Zone
The top and bottom zones are strategically important to assault or defend nearby Forts so the middle zone needs a reason to be important too (i.e. Praag, Dragonwake and Thunder Mountain). In Phase 1 BOs weren't involved but in Phase 2 the four objectives in the middle zone in each pairing come into play. Control of 3 out 4 BOs spawns a Monster who makes it's way to the enemy Fort and gives the Lord there a wallop. Doesn't kill it, just makes a nice dent in it's HP. Monster's can be killed and healed. I'm not totally sold on this monster idea but control of the middle zone's needs to offer something of value.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

1.3.5 gave me Altitis

I had never played on an alt before patch 1.3.5 came out but I hate the new City siege mechanic so much that I can't play my Rank 40 anymore....

...just kidding. Ho-ho. You can stop laughing........Now.

No, I just found myself always logging in just the City was entering safe mode and I thought what the hell, let's dick about in T1 for a bit.

I always wondered what healing would be like so I rolled an Archmage first. And I really, really enjoyed it. I've also tried a Shadow Warrior, Witch Hunter, White Lion, Knight and Rune Priest. Oh, and a Slayer. I gotta say, I'm having a lot of fun with each one.

Tier 1 is really active and one thing I know is a big draw for me is the rapid progression with new abilities and gear flowing like a river in spring.

It reminds of when I first started playing really. Everything's new and I'm learning.

But I am also enjoying a different play style having played a Tank exclusively for 12+ months. One thing that has made me laugh is that I find myself instinctively trying to play like a tank. On my SW I would try and intercept Witch Elves that were making a run for our back line. This didn't turn out too well.

Here are my alts:
Partridge L9 - Archmage
Cahill L7 Shadow - Warrior
Steinson L6 - Slayer
Stockport L6 - Witch Hunter
Tractor L6 - Knight
Groggi L6 - Rune Priest
Cincinnatti L6 - White Lion

As you can see L6 is a bit of sticking point. I think that's as far as I get in one evening without getting too drunk and falling asleep.

The Archmage is the one I think I'm going to keep going with. I like healing and it has been immensely satisfying to be top of the charts for once. I know scenario scores can be misleading but outhealing L11 toons when I was just L6 was great.

Monday, 7 June 2010

WAR World Cup: Order F.C.

The Football (soccer) World Cup kicks off in just a few days and here is my team for Order :)

GOALKEEPER: Iron Breaker
Not your traditional goalkeeper but nothing get's past this guy. Sworn an oath to protect the onion bag at all costs and stakes his family name on it. A superb shot-blocker.

A cultured and elegant defender confident on and off the ball. Can be relied upon to get team-mates out of trouble with a last ditch tackle. Can play the ball forward well and turn defense into attack.

Provides the team with mobility at the back and his displays inspire confidence to those around him.

LEFT BACK: Swordmaster
The archetypal modern attacking full-back. The SM is able to defend and attack in equal measure. Has the pace to get up and down the line and offers great support and cover for the winger. Pops up with the odd goal.

RIGHT BACK: Engineer
A toolkit full of tricks on the field. A master of the zonal marking system he is able lock down an area when in defence and has the ammunition needed to get forward to set-up attacks when required. Great delivery from set-pieces and takes the team's free-kicks and corners.

RIGHT WING: Bright Wizard
The flamboyant primadonna of the team courts publicity and controversy where ever he goes. Possessing devastating attacking skills is often his side's match-winner but his self-destructive nature can leaves his side exposed on the counter-attack.

LEFT WING: Shadow Warrior
The unsung hero of the team brings natural width to the side. A great crosser of the ball can provide pin-point service to strikers or cut inside himself to unleash a trademark long-range finish.

The midfield general and team captain. Dictates the tempo in the centre of the park pushing his team to press the attack or defend as required. Offers little goal threat himself but his aura of confidence on the pitch inspires his team-mates on to greater feats.

A box-to-box midfielder offering support to the whole team whether in attack or defence. Equally adapt at anchoring the midfield, protecting the back four or making late runs in to the box to support the attack. A model pro.

Relishes the physical side of the game . His aggressive, no nonsense approach and raw power is enough to unsettle a defence on his own. His barn-storming style often leads to him tiring during the game and an explosive temper can get him in trouble with the ref.

STRIKER: Witch Hunter
A fox-in-the-box and the perfect foil to the Slayer's physical game, the Witch Hunter employs clever movement and positioning to evade his marker. His job on the pitch is to score goals and clinical finishing means he does just that. Has been accused of going missing on occasion and has the tendency to get caught offside.

MANAGER: White Lion
Dressed in a stereotypical manager's Lionskin coat the he roars instructions from the touchline with the emphasis on teamwork and hunting for the ball as a pack. If the ball ends up in the crowd will call upon his assistant to fetch it back quickly and keep the game going.

Friday, 4 June 2010

May's Letter - Wot no RvR?

I was dissappointed when I read the latest letter. Half of it was about something they aren't going to do. A lot of the rest of it was about something they were going to do months ago. So nothing of the RvR changes that has been eluded to in articles like the Massively interview with Carrie.

I did like the talk of changes to the RP & Zealot. This means they still have time to spend on class mechanics so everyone's gripes about their own class (and mine about the SM ;)) could well be on the agenda one day.

Back to the RvR though, I think Carrie is being deliberately protective of anything they've got going on with RvR, and I think any changes might still be so much in their infancy that they wouldn't dare mention anything about them right now.

In fact, I think they're totally in the concept stage for RvR changes. If you read the Massively interview Carrie repeatedly says that all ideas are on the table and that no idea is being ruled out.

"There's nothing off the table"
"Anything's on the table"

Carrie Gouskos, May 12th

If they haven't yet decided which RvR changes they want to make then it's no suprise that there's no mention of this in the letter.

I am confident that RvR changes are incoming and there may well be some hints in the June or July Producer's Letter if they can get some of their ideas/concepts fleshed out a bit and feel confident enough about meeting a release date.

"we do have some really awesome stuff coming -- and 1.4 is a patch that I'm very excited about."
Carrie Gouskos, May 12th

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

RvR Ideas: Player-Monsters!

I'm going to get myself all in a lather over the next few weeks with ideas for improving the RvR in WAR. I'm also going to try and scour other WAR blogs and forums for great ideas and collect them together, with proper kudos attributed of course.

My first idea is just a small thing and won't affect the overall campaign but it'll be a lot of fun and bring some epic moments.

It's giving the players the option to play as Warhammer Monsters! One of the great things about fantasy is the monsters. Ogres, Trolls, Giants, all that jazz. Take a look at these bad boys.

The introduction of Player-Champions to the new City Siege has been a big hit and Player-Monsters is really building on that. I actually had this idea in March - shoulda posted that shit.

The nitty gritty details don't matter here but basically a player would collect some kind of currency, be that Invader Crests or new Monster Tokens, and then trade these in at a merchant to receive an item that would turn them into a montser of their choice.

The Monster-Buff would last about an hour I'd guess and have a lockout timer on it, perhaps a day. The monsters wouldn't be super-powerful, just a bit different, maybe have twice the Wounds as normal, nothing extravagent, it's really just for variety and fun.

I would try to implement 3 monsters choices for each of Order and Destruction. All monsters would be hybrid classes - they would each have ranged ability, melee, and some heals. Basic stuff, think T1 :)

To make it more interesting I would also tie a mini-progression system to the Monster-Buffs, so that whilst you are playing a Monster you earn influence or something that levels your Monster up earning you new tricks. Nothing major of course, just a few different abilities, some specialisation, or access to bigger and better weapons.

Order Monsters - not so easy to find monsters for the good guys - any ideas??
Ogre Butcher : Ths guy is big and fat and carries two giant cleavers!
Ogre LeadBelly: Carries a small hand-cannon so short-ranged RDPS is it's thing
Treeman: Treeman. Nuff said.

Destro Monsters
Troll: Vomits Acid for fun. Swings Big Clubs.
Minatour: Giant Bull prone to feeding frenzies. Perhaps have a Charge for it's ranged attack?
Giant: Be that big, bald guy from Nordland!

I think this would be a great addition to the game, not too hard to implement and would provide some epic massed monster battles!

WAR Stats: Debuffing Initiative

Thanks to a comment in my last WAR Stats post from the venerable TzuDevil I'm going to discuss Initiative debuffs and their effect on your chance to be crit.

TzuDevil's comment was that debuffing Initiative is HUGE. He's right. Here's an example:

I am aloofly striding into battle with my Swordmaster and start attacking the insidious Evillyn. Using Nature's Blade enchantment that is core to all Swordmaters and with points in the right tree I have a chance on any attack to steal 120 pts from a random stat, including initiative.

A reminder that the formula before bonuses from items for Chance to be Crit is 35/Initiative

Evillyn has an initiative of around 200 and one -3% Crit item on her Armour Set giving her a base chance to be crit of about 15%. I would say this is typical for most people.

I hit Evillyn a few times, get lucky and steal 120 points from her initiative reducing it from 200 to 80. Her chance to be crit has now increased from 15% to 45%! If she gets focused by DPS, even just a little, she'll probably cark it.

The good news for Evillyn is the SM initiative debuff is a bit random. The bad news is that a Witch Hunter can debuff Initiative too. Blessed Bullets of Purity debuffs Initiative by 80. The Archmage has a 80pt debuff called Mistress Of The Marshes.

By the same yardstick, buffing your own or group's Initiative is very advantageous. It's all to do with the steepness of the curve at the low end. You don't want to be sitting on the steep bit, it's treacherous. Unless you stack Initiative up to around 300 a debuff is really going to hurt, so protect yourself and your allies by buffing it if you can.

If you hold true to the maxim that Bursts Kills and Crit FTW! then do what you can to debuff your opponent's initiative - it'll make a difference.

About Swordmasters
For a Swordmaster looking to assist the DPS classes the potential for Nature's Blade to debuff Initiative by 120 points makes it very hard to overlook in my eyes, and it's actually a stat steal so also buffs your entire group by the amount it steals. Very useful. The Black Orc has the mirror for Destro. It doesn't just steal iniative either, it can steal any stat.

People will argue that a Knight can do the same job of increasing crit chance much more reliably than a Swordmaster, and they may well be right. For example, the KotBS has a tactic called Dirty Tricks that increases their group's Crit chanceby 10% for 10s every time they block. This is more reliable when compared to Nature's Blade, which is more random but has a higher reward. The odds are hard to calculate but in a warband with 3 or 4 SMs all running Nature's Blade I would think that there would be enough initiative getting debuffed it would leave your enemy very vulnerable to crits, not to mention stealing and buffing your group with all the other stats.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pink for Tink

Here's my SM in pink in support of Tinkerhell and Pink for Tink. A very good friend of mine had lymphatic cancer just a few years ago and although better now he is still living with it. I was amazed at how he dealt with it, as I am for anybody who copes with such an illness. I can't comprehend the strength and character that this must take for all those involved, friends and family included, and my best wishes go out to them.