Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Rest Never Ends

As a man of a few alts (okay, maybe a few more than a few) I like the changes to rested XP and the amount of XP required to level. But one thing has been causing me some confusion. Why do I never seem to run out of rested XP? On my two mid-T2 characters, the counter seems to go down to zero only to suddenly jump up to between 30 and 40k. 

Now I'd understand if I was swapping back and forth once a week or so between these characters, but I haven't. I've played both of them every day for the past week. Usually I'll earn a level every other day or so, averaged out. So it puzzles me that the rest XP bar keeps running through "chunks" instead of just showing the total amount that's stashed away, waiting to be redeemed. I keep finding myself saying "I'll just use up the last of the rest xp, then I'll go to bed." And then another chunk shows up!

I know there a many far more important things that need to be addressed, but stick this one on the list of little annoyances that I'd like to see fixed. Fortunately, that list is pretty small anymore.


Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

Friday, January 30, 2009

Classes and Scenarios and Expansions, Oh My!

As one of the unfortunate souls who has a full time job (wait, maybe that's fortunate in this economy...) I've been counting down the hours till I could rush home and share my thoughts on all the new content announcements rolling out of Mythic today [er, yesterday now]. We've got lots to get through, so let's get started, shall we?

Going off of the Call To Arms list, it looks like Mythic decided to wrap a lot of the new stuff they've been hinting at into one set of content patches that they are calling a Live Expansion. Regis was wondering if the Live Expansion designation means that Mythic is going to eschew the traditional expansion pack release. My take on it is that these live expansions are going to be a different animal from the traditional expansion. Here we have a set of content patches that they are packaging together with the Live Expansion designation. I'll be expecting a lot more from a true expansion, like a new racial pairing, classes, and the like. Call to Arms seems to have a more narrow scope.

Now, down to business. First off, we've got the official announcement that Choppa and Slayer will be the last two classes added to the Armies of WAR. This is great news, and I must take my hat off to Mythic for the way that they engaged the blogs and online media. The gift hints were an especially nice touch, generating buzz and excitement leading up to the official announcement. As for me, I'm more excited that these classes are being added than about playing the class itself. I'm finding that I put a higher emphasis on durability than raw damage/healing output. I'll probably roll one up and give it a try, and I won't mind being pleasantly surprised. But for now I'm content to know that this is going to really energize some people

Of course, we can't talk about the new classes without talking about the new live event to qualify for early access. Similar to Heavy Metal, Mythic is giving us the chance to earn these new engines of war a week early by earning influence during the Bitter Rivals live event. I say, "Smart move, Mythic." Heavy Metal was straight-up excellent. The daily task list had a variety of things to do and a new scenario to do it in. Hopefully they will be able to build on that success, especially with the new Twisting Tower scenario. And while I know that some people felt that unlocking the task list half-way through was too easy, I think they should follow the same pattern they did in Heavy Metal and allow people to have a chance to finish the whole list even if they miss a day. Perhaps they can remove the XP rewards for the daily tasks after the day it was released, but leave the influence in place. It helps the casual players keep up.

I know that I'm jumping over the Night of Murder live event, but I plan on examining that separate of the Call to Arms content. Short reaction: "Oh, sweet!"

Next we've got two more live events. Beyond the Sands (April) and Rise of the Tomb Kings (May) will continue the once a month schedule live event schedule. We don't have a lot of information about what Beyond the Sands is going to involve, but Rise of the Tombs will kick off the race to control the new Land of the Dead dungeon (more on that later). This is great, as the constant unveiling of new content has been very satisfying for me to see. 

And the final announcement involved in Call to Arms is the new dungeon, Land of the Dead. We are told that this is the spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot's Darkness Falls dungeon. Since I'm not a DAoC alum, I'm not sure what this means except that everyone I've heard talk about it says it was awesome. Just looking at the mechanics that they've revealed so far, it sounds like it will be a ton of fun, as well as a great challenge to hang on to and control. I'm looking forward to trying it out, especially if it is able to pull off the wedding of high-quality, polished dungeon with RvR combat.

Personally, I feel like I'm watching a content throwdown. By the time that we get the Tomb Kings dungeon, Mythic will have put out 7 live events, 2 customized scenarios, 4 classes, a new major dungeon, and 2-3 class balance patches all in 8-9 months. Considering that I'm coming from a game where you had to buy the new campaign to get just 2 new classes, this is an awesome amount of content to have added in. It also firmly establishes the road map for the next 4 months. WAR is here, and it's here to stay, to grow, and to thrive.


Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

Shameless Self-Promotion: A How to.

Becoming the Overlord
A critical aspect of becoming the Overlord is getting to that position without people wanting to kill you. One thing I learned the hard way is that it's no use "assuming command" if you cheese off one of the Warlords--they'll simply tell their warband to ignore you. But, conflicting with that is the idea that unless you act like the Overlord, no one will treat you as the Overlord.

The solution to both requirements is to give orders that no other Warlord can disagree with. It seems underhanded if you look at it from the "I want power, so I'm doing this" position, and if you really were just out to get power, it would be. But the true Overlord does not strive for power, but for victory. Even should this somehow fail to position you as Overlord, you are still aiding your allies immensely.

So, what are these elusive orders I speak of? Well, they range from the blatantly obvious to the insightful. I'm going to include a list, nowhere near comprehensive, that gives examples of what they are.

For Keep Assaults:
Get the Ram Down! (Or up, if you prefer that term ; D)
Use AOE abilities on the oil! It will kill the user!
All extra melee dps, guard the posterns!
Keep the postern guards updated on door %!
Tanks, use Hold the Line to help your allies dodge the oil!
[*Only for certain keeps*] Ranged dps, come to the gatehouse! You can hit the oil user from there!

For Keep Defense:
Tanks, report to the LORD'S ROOM to make a Tank Wall! Harassing them now will not hurt them and will not help us!
Healers, be ready to Heal the Tank Wall!
Tanks on the Wall, use guard on each other if you can!
Ranged dps, be ready to blast the stairs! It's going to be an AOE'er's dream come true!

...And many more. All of these commands encourage coordination and proper strategy without undermining the authority of the other Warlords, which is critical, because as I've said before, the Overlord is nothing without the Chain of Command.

In the future, you can look forward to me going over strategy aspects of being the Overlord, Public Relations as the Overlord (a necesary evil), and The Art of War for Dummies.



Ironbreaker Insight:
Carrying a shield that is larger than you are is useful for deflecting arrows, warding off magic, making a small raft out of, surfing down staircases, using for a dinner plate, cooking the dinner, swatting gnats, panning gold dust out of your beard, purifying water in a desert, using as an umbrella, acting like Captain America, sketching art, an impromptu kettle drum, a sit-and-spin, creating a satellite dish, and reflecting the sun for morse code.




Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome Back Genda!

Gotta take a moment on this day of celebration to wish a warm welcome back to Genda. The Grouchy Gamer was on hold for the last month or so as life dropped an anvil. If you've got the time, head on over there and drop an encouraging word or twenty. 

And since I'm here, I might as well say something about all the new content goodness coming our way. Here it is: fhqwhgads   But more on that later, after I've had a chance to scrape myself off the ceiling.


Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

PvE, PvP, and Me

WAR does strange things to a man. It changes him. Twists his nature. Turns him from a harmless story junkie into some ravening monster that craves the taste of his enemy's blood. 

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic, but it is rather funny for me to think about what it is that makes WAR my MMO of choice. See I've got a long history of really getting into games based on how well they tell the story. KotOR is my classic example. My first time through I played over eighty hours becoming the best, and most well traveled, light-side Jedi I could be. And the deep, rich storytelling was a big reason for why I considered every one of those hours well spent. I'm such a sucker for a story that I will go hunt down cheat codes to finish a game I wouldn't otherwise, just to see how it ends. So naturally, when I started looking into MMORPGs, story was the number one priority for me.

First, I checked out the behemoth from Blizzard, World of Warcraft. I had several friends from school who were enjoying it. So one borrowed set of CDs and an invite-a-friend key later, I was on too. And I have a confession to make. For someone with a level cap of twenty, the story stunk. There wasn't anything there. PvE quests were boring and repetitive. I was given no sense of what was going on or how it fit into the broader campaign. My proudest moment was when I got the killing blow on an upper thirties undead priest that decided to invade the night elf coastal zone. Now, I'll allow that given my limited exposure and lack of opportunity to get to the high-level content, I don't have a full picture of the WoW experience. But nothing in those first twenty levels made me want to slap down my cash to find out what was past the pay-to-play ceiling. All it was promising was forty more levels of killing 5 widgets so I can kill 10 whatzits so I can kill 15 doo-dads so I can get more XP and loot. Sorry, but I've got better things to do with my time.

Next, I tried the free trial on Star Wars Galaxies. Twenty minutes and one quick uninstall later, and I was back on the market.

Finally, I found what I thought I was looking for. A friends pointed me in the direction of a different kind of MMO. Instead of requiring a subscription, Guild Wars was sold like any single-player computer game. You bought that campaign and that was it. When new campaigns came out you could buy them too, or stay with what you had. They also had a hard level cap at twenty, and a limited skill bar with only eight slots, which helped to focus players on skill in combat rather than just grinding out levels. But the best part was that the game told the story well. From start to finish of each campaign, you knew exactly what you where doing and why. And you were an important hero, one of just a few who could save the day. Here was the vaunted PvE that I was looking for...

... until the campaigns ran out. That's the problem with a story-based game for me. There is only so many times I can save the world before it starts to feel a little ridiculous. Sure, with the low level cap, I could max a character in a couple of days and try out a new concept. But the story was already told before and it no longer held my attention. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game. I highly recommend it for a short (and now, cheap) PvE fix. But the publisher's business model is premised on selling a new campaign on a regular basis, which they stopped doing to focus on Guild Wars 2. Without new content, my interest stagnated.

And that's where WAR found me. When I first heard about the game, it was the buzzwords of "open parties" and "public quests" that caught my attention. Once I started playing, the standard quests grabbed my attention right away. Now, I'm not sure what some people are talking about when they say WAR's PvE falls flat, but what I've seen has been interesting, well rounded, and fun. Beyond just killing a bunch of critters, I've helped find cures for battle wounds, fought off Chaos landing parties, tracked down family heirlooms, and rescued damsels in distress. And that was just in Tier 1!

For a little while, all that PvP stuff sounded kinda interesting, but not really a big deal to me. Until I tried it. And on that day I went from the story-driven carebear to bloodthirsty killer. Here I found the ultimate story, and the ultimate in replay value. No matter how many times I attack or defend, it's always different. My enemies aren't scripted automations, but real thinking players. Changing classes provides me with both new abilites and a new area to explore. That's why I love to play this MMO in particular, and why I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. I've got the best of all worlds, with top-notch PvE and PvP. New and exciting features will come, as they should. New content will be released. But I am loving the fact that I am already loving this game where it is.


Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

Need Bigger Hands

Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of combat, I find it difficult to reach all the skills on the bar. Perhaps I can get something like this to help me out:



H/T to KSaff over at today.compusaff.com

Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daffodils are Red...

... guess I should be more careful with Splatter!

So, the witch elves want to scare me? Bah! Bring it on! I present my own poem in response!

Open my door, and what shall ye find?
A sharp stunty axe with his warbands behind.
Your toothpicks don't scare me, I'll knock you in lava!
And serve your roast carcass with milk, tea, or java!

Poems to Slay By

Not wanting to be one to miss a good bandwagon as it rolls on by, I think I'll get into the act and add my own verses for Destruction:

You sneak up behind me
And think I'll go gentle.
But you failed to notice
My dwarf friend gone mental.

One quick detaunt later
You find yourself toothless.
A HoT dropped on me, now
We'll see who's more ruthless!

With Sigmar's strong Fist
And the almighty Greave,
I'll be leaving you weakened
As I bob and weave.

We make a fine team,
My 'Breaker and I.
We laugh as we cause
The Destro to cry.

So bring on your murder
You spindly Dark Witches!
With hammers and axes
We'll put you in ditches!

(Hey, we keep it strictly PG here! Cartoon violence only!)

Originally posted at WARnPieces.blogspot.com

Introducing:

The Overlord

When it comes down to it, WAR is all about who has the biggest, most coordinated army. While numbers can't be helped, one thing you can do even as a grunt is to help your Warlord gain authority and maintain control over a warband. Simply by addressing the person in charge as Warlord, you set them above the rank and file in the minds of your fellow soldier. This is not an elevated position of being a better player, being a smarter person, or being a superior being. This is simply the position of "guy who is willing to risk trying to lead a mob." Warlords stake their reputations on their commands. Cherish those who take the risk. Help them do their job by repeating their instructions when your other teammates inevitably ask where it is the Warband is going. Again. Treat them with respect, and they'll begin to have a firmer hold of command on their forces. This contributes greatly to the group and gives you experience as a leader.

Now, unless your Warlord is a supreme idiot, you'll begin to do well. Mostly, success is measured in numbers, and so now that your warband is coordinated, you're bound to be at least modestly successful. Soon, new people will flock to your banner to join the fight. Now, if you're an aspiring Warlord yourself, this is now your chance to split off from your current warband, and make a new one. Since you've been assisting him visibly, the other Warlord will most likely be on good terms with you. Now you have the chance to really start to do some damage. With two warbands, you can assault a moderately defended keep, and defend ANY keep you want. But the important thing to realize is that too many cooks spoil the soup. Continue to follow the plan of the other Warlord. Feel free to suggest, but do your very best to not split the groups. Your time of domination is merely beginning, and it would be a shame to stop now.

So, what next? Most people are content with this, but personally, no other strategy appeals to me quite as well as my own. No other commander leads quite the way I think the battle should be led. Because of this, I like controlling it all. And here is where the position of Overlord comes into play. He's made a record of good decisions and successful assaults. He has stated his commands clearly, forcefully, yet not harshly. He has spoken personally with the Warlords of the other warbands, and has asked for their assistance. And because of this, the Overlord is the one whose orders are followed, regardless of what warband they are leading. Once an ORVR group has reached this point, it has gained critical mass, and can now go nova. Nearly ANY keep can be taken, and any keep defended. Strategies can include feints, diversions, and ambushes. This is where the game gets really, really good.


The Overlord's Weapons


There are four things an Overlord needs to be successful: Scouts, Warlords, Underlords, and Soldiers.

Scouts: The map is notorious for lying. Therefore, it is imperative that the warlord actively scout friendly and enemy controlled territories, so that all information is current. Knowing that your keep in another zone is under attack will let you respond in time to save the keep and reap the rewards.

Warlords: People that are willing to organize others under your leadership are critical. When an Overlord is in play, Warlords do not have to be "leadership" types. Anyone who is willing to say "We are following this person, here is what he has said we are doing" can do the job. You do not have to be anyone who considers themself to be a great leader to fill this role.

Underlords: Once again, those that assist the Warlords are important. Anyone can repeat what the Warlord has said. So the next time someone asks "Where are we going again?", just give them an answer. It really helps.
Soldiers: The Overlord is one man. Without an army, he has nothing but his own weapon to take a keep with. Simply by following the Overlord's instructions, YOU can make that keep assault a success. If he's a good Overlord, he will give those directions clearly and often.


Reign of the Overlord


So now it all comes together. The Scouts report the disposition of the enemy's troops. If the warlord seeks to assault enemy strongholds, he will look for the place he is least expected to go, and attack there. He gives the order to fly to the zone, and his Warlords repeat it. When they arrive, the Overlord gives the order of what keep to assault, and when to move out. The chain of command is critical. And when it is in place, the the warbands can only be delayed. They cannot be stopped.


As a final note: Remember that these Armchair Overlords are people too. They will mess up tactically, they will spend all your money flying places you didn't need to go, and they will annoy the living daylights out of you with how much they spam their commands in region chat. But when the Keep is taken, and the enemy crushed, also remember that they're the reason it happened.



Ironbreaker Insight:


Delicious Destro Pie

Ingredients:
One (1) cake tin
Two (2) cups flour
One (1) cup water
One (1) Minced Destro
Begin by tenderizing with Away with Ye and Shield of Reprisal. Then, apply axe liberally. If chunks still larger than one inch, apply more axe.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weapons for the WAR: Realm War website.

If you folks are like me, you like to know about all the tricks you possibly can to keep your character and/or group running at peak efficiency. To that end, I'm taking this opportunity to kick off a new recurring feature that I'm going to call Weapons for the WAR. Here we'll be featuring some tool or addon to help improve the Warhammer Online experience. And what better way to start than with a little helper in the crown jewel of Warhammer, open RvR.

When it comes to open RvR and taking or defending keeps, there is one maxim that I have found to hold true.
"The in-game map lies."
Almost every night, while rolling with the warband in open RvR, the group will get into a confused mess over whether or not a certain keep in another pairing is under attack or safe, or even Destruction or Order controlled. It's frustrating when the map gets bugged for half of the people playing because it slows down the action. Scouts must be sent out or risk running the whole warband to the wrong location. Wouldn't it be great to have some idea of what was really going on?

Well, we can. The Realm War portion of the Warhammer Online website doesn't suffer from the sort of lying habits the in-game map seems to indulge in. Plus, it has more information about which Battlefield Objectives (BOs) are currently controlled by whom. This can help your warband make informed decisions and maximize the effectiveness of your group.

Unfortunately, every silver lining has its cloud. The Realm War map isn't quite real-time, meaning that it doesn't serve as a rapid alert system capable of warning you the moment that the enemy shows up on the keep's doorstep. If you want that kind of early warning, you'll need to set up a network of scouts. Also, trying to switch between the game and your web browser can have, shall we say, adverse effects on system performance. I wouldn't recommend switching back and forth on a regular basis unless you have a dual-core computer and a dual monitor setup. Fortunately, just having one person in the warband able to check Realm War can save a lot of blood, sweat, and gold.

Warm Welcome from the Warlord

Ok, everyone to Black Fire Pass! We're going to take GNOL BARAZ! Now let's go!

Eh? How'd I end up in here? Well, regardless, a hearty hello to you all. Allow me to introduce myse—No, get the ram UP and the oil DOWN! Throw any AOE's you have on it! And get me some guards on my posterns!—myself. I'm Zauk the Rock. Between leading warbands, I do a few scenarios every now and then with Maladorn. 

Now, he's a pretty balanced fellow, so I'l—OK, now when this door opens, I will lead the charge! HOT ME!—so I'll let him add the variety. For myself, I'll be here to help provide you your daily dose of strategy.

Now, before I get back to the battle—only a 50 for contribution? What's up with that?—I'll give you today's Ironbreaker Insight: All destro are better when you add liberal amount of LAVA.

Best Regards,
Zauk the Rock



Monday, January 26, 2009

Now, with 100% more blogging power!

One quick announcement, which I am very excited about. Fellow CoW and all around good guy Zaukther will be joining me here at the WAR 'n Pieces blog! He'll be bringing another perspective (a little shorter, but that's stunties for you) on this big old world of WAR. I'll let him post up his own introduction to give some more background and info about him. So without further ado, join me in welcoming Zaukther Ock to the blog!

Front Line Promotions: Be the Warlord

First, read Armchair Generals and why you should follow them over at Wizards & Wenches. Don't worry, I'll wait. It's kinda important for what I'm going to say.

Done? Good.

There are two points to this post. First, I want to throw a +1 Insightful on most of that post, especially regarding treasuring the warlord who leads well. They are indeed a resource to be encouraged and respected. 

The second reason for writing this is to make a related point by way of telling a little story. For those of you on Order in Badlands server, you may have heard about a certain dwarf in Tier 3. A dwarf who inspired many to organize and fight. A dwarf named Zaukther.

The Cult of Zaukther
When I found out about Zaukther, he was a Rank 24 Ironbreaker. But he knew how to lead the pick up group format in oRvR. He wasn't humble. He didn't need to be. He simply saw himself as the warlord, and anyone who didn't like it could leave the warband with no hard feelings. His orders came across clear and concise. "Wait inside the keep." "On my command, we rush them." "I need a scout in Empire." Simple. Direct. And people followed those orders, because they saw results. Keeps were defended and taken successfully. Enemies were reduced to nothing as they broke on the wall of tanks. With the wide-network of scouts that he fostered, he was able to keep his loyal warband right at the heels of the Destruction zerg; time and again, the influence and rewards rolled in. In a few days, I started to notice something in my chat box. People started telling Zaukther versions of Chuck Norris jokes. Some sang his praises. And there always seemed to be a warband ready to go when Zaukther came online to roll the RvR lakes. 

So what does this tell us? WAR is a meritocracy. We don't care about yelling in all-caps or making whithering snide comments about what the warband leader should have done. We promote, by following and obeying, those who can do the job. We are playing a game, and we like to win. So if you are looking around your tier, wondering why the warband leaders stink, remember that it doesn't matter who you are or what rank you are. Can you lead? Can you give clear directions, support your troops, and execute basic strategy? Then get out there and do it. It's that simple. We need our leaders, as I saw in the case of Zaukther. One warband, organized around a strong leader, could cause havoc for Destruction. And if you're not the leader type, then find a leader that you can follow and respect. Uphold their decisions, follow their directions, and watch the rewards start to flow.

Full Disclosure: Zaukther is a member of my guild. That said, his example still holds.

Introducing: Maladorn Fairnath

Let's get the content gravy train rolling with a bit about me. 

For starters, I play on the Order side of the Badlands server. My main character is a Tier 4 neophyte, a Rank 31 Warrior Priest named, you guessed it, Maladorn. I'm a member of that famous (or was that infamous?) guild, the Casualties of WAR. I focus on Open RvR and Scenario combat, with some PvE thrown in to keep things interesting. Currently I'm specced into the Grace mastery, which gives me a couple of ways to play, depending on what the situation is.

As a modestly armored support character, I feel like I always have things to do. Whether taking a keep, fighting in an open PQ group, or participating in scenarios, I'm always able to contribute in important ways. Of course, it took a bit to get into the rhythm of the Grace mastery. At first I felt like I had lost my effectiveness in my usual guild group. My actions involved alternating between Touch of the Divine (AoE Heal) and Supplication (converts AP to Righteous Fury). Pretty frustrating. 

Then I was awakened to the beauty of the mastery. It's not about how many heals you throw. It's about how many heals you throw while beating the Destruction characters with a hammer to the face. I had made the critical mistake of thinking that I needed to be on the front line, dishing out punishment beside the tanks while keeping everyone alive. But I didn't need to be up front to find Destruction to wail on. Witch Elves, Squigs, and Marauders all love to sneak into the back lines and try to take down the healers. And I can still be focus healing my tank buddy on the front line while defending my fellow support classes. 

So if the Grace mastery tree has got you down, try taking a step back from the front and focus your healing on the one character who needs it most. With Prayer of Devotion and the Leading the Prayer tactic, most of your group mates will keep themselves and you healed pretty well.

Step 1: Admit you have a problem.

Hello, my name is Maladorn, and I have an opinion.

Like many of you, I started out with the little things. I'd talk about my favorite game. Sometimes even when it wasn't the subject of the conversation. Then I moved into the Internet. I was like a kid in the candy store. So many places to put my thoughts and half-baked ideas. But then it happened. The anonymous comments on blogs just didn't do it for me anymore. I found I'd start to give my opinion, only to close the page halfway through my point as I realized I'd end up writing more than the author of the original post. I'm to the point know where I don't even bother trying to share. It just gets all bottled up inside.

Thus, through such pain and hardship, is this project born. Thanks to Syp, I've decided to create a place where I can provide my highly over-rated opinion on all things that happen to take my fancy. I'll be focusing on the MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning for the most part, with a dash of everything else to bring out that well-rounded geek flavor. Given how often I have an opinion, I'm expecting to post every couple days with something which will hopefully be of interest.