Feb 25, 2009

The Unsung Details of 1.2

In the midst of a whole lotta upset witch elves, sorcerers and bright wizards, a full rework of the zone lock system and of course choppa/slayer there's a lot of little things that shine about 1.2 that haven't been mentioned much. 

Crafting - I've always bemoaned the crafting in this game. In fact, it's a long running joke amongst my guild to reply with a disbelieving "There's crafting in this game?!" whenever anyone on the forums mentions it. The recipeless system was great in concept I think. In concept I also always thought I'd have fun messing around with, testing out things. Like my theory that those wind touched vials (Aqshy-touched Vial etc) all enhanced different potions depending on the character of their specific wind of magic. In practice thought it was hella confusing and there were so many -things- to play with that I spent more trying to juggle bag and bank space than I did actually testing anything.

1.2 has streamlined it. I am usually anti "dumbing down" of crafting systems. (EQ2 ... I will never forgive you.) But Mythic seems to have done it right. Lyst is a 200 apothocary and 190ish cultivator so I copied her to the test server and played around with things. The first thing I noticed is that a huge chunk of my blue and purple cultivation items are now useless. They do convert into things so they're not totally wasted but I feel a bit cheated when I turn a purple 200 cultivating water I've been holding on to for months into a green 150 level water. 

As Thulf mentioned, you can not start with one seed and through a process of ctrl + right clicking turn the grown plant back into a seed. This means that seeds are no longer in the loot table for mobs which I am hugely happy about. So sick of passing on seeds.

Apothocary is set to see an influx and increase in number of additives, something that most apothocaries probably didn't get much of a chance to mess around with prior given their terrible drop rate but additives to increase number of potions, increase duration, make effects larger are more abundant now. There's also whole new potions, including one that gives 25% moral gain boost and ... a raise potions. Rejoice!

Map markers - Ahh, the minor detail that rocked my socks. From day one in WAR we've all had to contend with buggy map markers. Those little grey squares only ever showed your party rather than your warband, where hard to see and flat out didn't work sometimes. Party markers are now very easy to see little green jewels. They not only show your full warband but also dynamic and consistantly move. So detailed that Turnip could sit in the warcamp and know that his choppa boss Beetz is fighting a stuntie because Beetz little marker is spinning in a tiny circle. Being able to know exactly where everyone is and watch them move around is a huge boon.

Party and Warband window - All I can say is about darn time.

Able to see open parties in any zone from any zone, the ability to set yourself as LFG with specific tags (I showed off dungeon groups here, but there's tags for RvR, PQs, Quests) to create open parties with easily visable note about what you're doing. Also not pictured is a fully reworked party and warband management window. No more right clicking on portraits and hoping the command to change master looter works. 

Feb 23, 2009

Powah to da greeeeeeen.

After saying in my last post that I would be okay if there was little to no CC in the game I've had a chance to experience something very close to that over the past few days and I've had a total freaking blast.

Choppa and slayer are very low CC classes. They each get a low level snare and a mid-level short duration knockdown. Slayers I think have a moral ability knock down as well. Bored a few nights ago I elected to check out choppa and ended up instead rolling a shaman on the test server as that's what I'll be playing with Calintz's choppa and I wanted to see how shaman works at level 18. It was, as said, a blast. 

I RvRed more in the past two nights on the test server than I have in the past two months on live. It's simple, there's no cheap tricks (Except the few engineers that the slayers seem to bring, hello disable) .  It's just "Heres da boyz, deres da gits. Time ta smash." And I've noticed a hell of a lot more teamwork come out of it than I've ever seen on the live servers. If a shaman is getting hit there are suddenly four or five big choppas or a random black orc physically surrounding him and pushing the dwarves away. Honestly, as if they cordinated it. It's a beautiful thing to find yourself suddenly in the middle of a giant green box, protected not from crowd control abilties but good old fashion collison physics and teamwork. 

There was also a tactic I like to call "the first aid run". When you create a level 18 greenskeen on PTS you're dropped already geared and ready to go into the Marshes of Madness warcamp so naturally the Marshes RvR lakes is hoping, constantly. The keep there has a bridge that links the plateu the keep is on to the main road creating a nice little bottleneck if order chooses to take that route (which... they have almost always done.)

What happens with no other cordination is the members of the giant green wall form up fantastically on the bridge with slayers washing against them. The healy gits (shaman) stand at the end of the bridge. When a choppa finds himself at low health he turns and runs back toward the shaman, his place in the wall instantly filled by another choppa. The hurt orc is spotted, spam healed and usually turns on his heel before he even reaches us and is back in the fray while passing another hurt orc on his way to Mork's First Aid Station.  It made me laugh out loud several times to watch every orc there doing it and how well it worked, like a brilliant moment of unplanned teamwork.

Save a random ironbreaker managing to throw all the orcs off the bridge and rush the healers the only way to break that set up is for a group of slayers to come up the side of the hill, from behind and wipe out the shaman before the orcs can save us. It would be a very simple tactic, and effective, if they'd use it. But for some reason they haven't yet, they just keep bouncing off the green wall. 

Yesterday we also got a chance to take back the keep while it was playing host to a slayer convention. A new feature of 1.2 is that you can not take down a keep door without a ram. If you're ram-less and relying on regular abilities the door stays at 1% and refuses to break. Makes freaking sense to me, who ever heard of knocking down a six inch slab of a wood with a knife? The ram doesn't have to be up at the time the door goes down, but a ram has to have damaged the door at some point for it fall. We had our ram out until the slayers managed to gather enough excess grease from their mohawks to fill the oil cauldron. We took down the rest of the door with shaman spells, choppa axe throwing and random kamakazee choppa bashing. Once we got in it was a gloreous push. There were no bright wizards to single handedly wipe us all out with AoEs, only one or two engineers, a ton of slayers and a few runepriests hiding in the back. We took the keep on pure "throw as much green as it as you can" tactics. Choppas charged, choppas died, choppas rezed and choppa charged again. It was very touch and go, especially when the respawned slayers nearly took us from the floor. But we actually managed to take it and it was fantastic fun. Little Turnip the Shaman even got a gold bag out of it. 

My question is, why doesn't/can't this simple fun exist on the fully classed live servers? Is it as I guess an issue of CC and ranged damage dominating the full game? Is it a question of the prevelant zerg mentalities of WAR that state if you can't win bring twenty more friends? Or is it just because greenskins are that awesome?

Feb 21, 2009

Scenerio Tactics for DimWits

Regis over at Wizards & Wenches has inspired me with a post of his (hers? Damned internets) titled "Things To Do and Not To Do In Scenerios". It's so perfect in it's simplicy and no-duh list of tactics and gameplay hints that it's actually things that I never imagined people didn't already do. Why didn't I imagine though? I've certainly played enough scenerios where I'm telling my computer monitor (who is sick and tired of my directions, by the way) to stop attacking the tanks, to not run directly into the mob of melee, to stop leaping about so I can heal them etc etc.

I'd once planned on writing a tactics guide to some of the more popular scenerios, thinking that perhaps telling people that the bauble holder needs a healer, and to stop bumrushing order, or that the part runner is very likely to get cut off half way to the turn in and needs more than just my sorry DoK butt to guard him it might do some good. But Regis made me realize that I think we need to go even farther back to the basics. If people would just grasp the basics then perhaps we can move on to the "complicated" stuff.

So here's my list, in addition to Regis' and with some things likely restated because I think they need to be stressed.

Open your eyes and look before leaping

Take two seconds after you encounter the enemy to scan the crowd before you rush in. Note first the make up of the group, the classes there.  This is where is pays to be able to pick out the classes of your oponents by sight. Ugly hats = witch hunters. Giant hammers = Warrior Priest or Ironbreaker. I won't get into describing the visual difference between dwarves and humans because I just had lunch. (Haha! Dwarf insult for this post finished). If the group is melee heavy you can be certain that they're going to rush your lines very soon. Take note of where the healers are, how well defended they are and if they're grouped together. Healers who stick together are hard to kill, we tend to look out for each other. That straggler goblin attempting to hide behind a rock over there is easy pickings though. Don't simply target the first person you see and never run blindly toward your enemy just because you saw red on your screen. You're not a bull. 

Stop. hitting. the tanks.

A tanks job is to ... tank things. This is the guy that can sip tea and alt tab out while taking hits from that hero mob that two shots you. His job is to absorb damage and if there are any other classes at all on the field you should not let him do his job.  Tanks are the last things to be killed in most cases, focus fire is the only way to take them down and if you either a) attempt to solo the tank or b) attempt to focus fire the tank while there's plenty of other targets one of those other targets is going to rip the crap out of you and/or your teammates while you're doing a two step with their Black Gaurd. I know it's really hard to see a dwarf charging at you and not desperately want to smash him (Two!) but if you do then he's doing his job. He's distracting you while you could be doing something far more deadly like killing his healer or the witch hunter who's busy killing your healers. Ignore the tanks until there's nothing else to hit, it annoys the crap out of them. And for cripes sake never try to melee a tank with a shield face to face, attempt to get at their back with everything you've got. Parry and block do not work from behind so coming from behind leaves you only with their several thousand armor to deal with.

Use the terrain 

Scenerios are really well designed battle fields. All those trees and rocks, those little hills and sharp turns aren't just there for looks. This is very individual to each scenerio but the basic hint here is to pay attention to everything that's around you, not just players. In Tor Anroc for example, there's a small lip you have to pop up over to gain access to the central bauble crater. It's possible for a sorceress to stand just out of line of sight under that lip and drop Pit of Shades from realtive safety right smack into the middle of the battle. Also in Tor Anroc there are several paths to take to the crater and to the enemy camp. Two or three witch elves stealthing up one of these paths from behind can almost always focus fire a bauble holder down before he knows what hit him.  In Serpant's Passage if you're being chased by the enemy go directly into the cart holding the turn in, this keeps you safe from any attempts to knock you out of bounds and nicely bottle necks the enemy trying to kill you so your team mates can better kill them. 

In Morkain Temple there's several little places along the broken walls that offer a fantastic pocked for ranged DPS and healers to stand and still have line of sight that gives you an extra minute or two to do your thing before the enemy notices you. Some of the most fun I've had in scenerios involves hiding in one of the full coverage pine trees in Phoenix Gate and nuking or healing without a soul noticing me. (Warning:  When the tree shoots a doombolt it's a dead give away. Stick to instant casts.) 

There's tons and tons more I haven't mentioned, and even more I'm sure I've never found. The basic hint here is: Never go exactly where the enemy expects you to. Take another path, stand in another spot.

Last but not least, a friendly word from your healer:

I know leaping around makes you feel really cool but I can't heal you when you're pretending to be a rabbit.

Lots of healers, self included, do a fair bit of healing via direct targeting. I can see the health bars over the heads of everyone in front of me and find it often easier to pick my targets that way. I see the witch elf over there getting the crap beat out of her and I'd love to keep her on her feet for a while longer so she can poke things but I'll be darned if she isn't leaping around like a jack rabbit. I don't like playing the click ten times and miss while trying to target someone to heal game and if I miss you due to your inability to keep your feet on the ground you're not going to get the heal before you die. This also goes for running directly up to me when you need healing and jumping in my face in some attempt to get my attention. I see you, honestly I do, and I'd heal you if you weren't leaping away from my curser every time I try to target you. Feet on ground please. 

Feb 19, 2009

I have arrived... again. Can I go home now?

About time for an update I figure.

I posted on January 14th that my DoK was at level 34. It's taken me until yesterday (over a month) to get to 40. If that isn't a statement of a lackluster drive to play WAR I really don't know what is. But this might be, my tome at the time of dinging:

Yes, that's right. That is a level 40 character with 1218 RvR kills. I absolutely  despise teir 4 RvR, I hate it even more than I hated Scholo runs in vanilla WoW back in 2005.  It's a combination of many small things, most of them going by the name of knock down, knock back, stun, disable, disarm, silence and hahahaScrewYouForTryingToPlayIrolledaDwarflol. 

I think crowd control has it's place in the game, but I think it has it's place more in -other- games. In a game built around small skurmish, small group or solo PvP it is definantly fun and effective to have CC abilities. In a game where you regularly go up against 30 vs 30 or much more than that it's a terrible freaking idea to give every single one of those thirty or one-hundred people multiple crowd control abilities. If maybe the immunity timers were longer, or worked properly all the time perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. But being disabled, drooling on yourself for a solid twenty seconds while you die with zero chance to fight back or counter it is simply not fun. For another WoW annalogy it's like suddenly finding yourself up against nothing but stun-lock rogues and undead shadow priests. 

Teir 1 is FUN. I really like teir 1, teir 2 is also pretty fun. Teir 3 can be fun, depending on how many Ironbreakers are in Tor Anroc (CC yet again, this time with bonus lava!). Teir 4 is just god aweful. And I've heard people on forums and blogs expressing this same sentiment, that for some reason the lower teirs are more fun. I had chalked it up to "the game is new for you in lower teirs" but having taken two characters to 40 now and a third one about to break into teir 4 hell soon as well I can say that's not it. I still have more fun in teir 1 and 2 than I ever do in teir 4. If I could cap my sorceress at 31 I so would :/ 

There's also that even though teir 4 has a metric buttload of scenerios given the zone locking mechanic I don't really like any of them. I love Khaine's Embrace, I give a happy sqeee whenever Morkain Temple pops. I adore the heck out of Doomfist Crater. Of all the teir 4 scenerios that I've played I haven't really liked any of them, and I flat out hate Serpant's Passage. It could just be that CC thing rearing it's head here, but I'm trying to be objective in my critique of the gameplay of teir 4 scenerios. None of the frequently popping ones are very fun. 

As I said to a friend a while ago, I would be happy if they totally removed most/all crowd control abilities in the game and we instead had to rely on teamwork, skill and the awesome collision physics to keep the squishies defended. I'm sure I'm a minority in that thought. But I bet you all rolled dwarves. /StareAtSyp