Monday, February 23, 2009

Dungeon Jerk: Drama in Bastion Stair

Recently my guild ran into one of those drama moments that come along in these kinds of multiplayer games. Fortunately for us, the jerk in question (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) was a member of another guild who happened to be along for the ride clearing the middle path PQs in Bastion Stair. One of our guild's members has his eye on a PQ drop in that area, so a group was rounded up to work on farming the area.

Now, I should probably explain a couple things. My guild, the Casualties of WAR bills itself as a casual guild. We are a very active casual guild, but we have decided that that the daily events of life, such as kids, jobs, and spouses are more important than dungeon raids and keep assaults. It's a great atmosphere, as I can personally attest; it allows the members to come join the fun when they can, for as long as they can without getting any grief for having to leave "early".

Unfortunately, our nameless Jerk didn't understand who he was dealing with. When the guild member had to go AFK and then drop out of the party halfway through the PQ, it was the last straw. For the leaving member had just committed what must be the ultimate sin in MMO-land; he wasted the Jerk's time. And thus was the guild treated to a 5 minute rant from the Jerk, complete with swearing and name-calling. I say the guild was treated because this Jerk decided to give us both barrels in our own Ventrillo server. And he continued to do so, even after another CoW guilds man explained that the member who left was called away to go take care of his young children.

All this made me pretty upset, and has earned the Jerk the lasting scorn of our entire guild. Am I mad that he got mad? No, I can understand not wanting to waste time or have a dungeon group fall apart. What I find inexcusable was the way that this character expressed his frustration. He insulted one of our members, for circumstances beyond that person's control, in the guild's chat server. It showed an utter lack of class and maturity. 

So what can we learn from this situation? I've got a few ideas in mind:
  1. Know who you are playing with. Is this a PUG or a guild group, and what are their expectations? Is the group hardcore about not leaving, or do they have a more relaxed attitude? Knowing this up front will help you be prepared if someone has to leave. Or, it will allow you to bow out early and gracefully if you are looking for a different group dynamic.
  2. Life happens. Live with it. Despite our best intentions, sometimes things happen to pull us away at the worst possible moment. Yes it stinks to lose the healer halfway through the dungeon, but there is a very high probability that someday, you're going to be on the other side asking for a little grace when you have to leave.
  3. Show some respect to the owners of the house. If you are invited over to use another group's resources (vent server, website, forums, etc...), don't curse or insult that group's members or leadership. It's bad form, shows a lack of maturity, and is a great way to never get invited back. Which means that you've just written off an entire guild's worth of people who might have otherwise invited you to come on dungeon runs or RvR sieges. And if you've made enemies of a guild, chances are good that you made enemies with the whole alliance, too. So keep it clean and courteous while you're visiting; you can always go back to your own guild to vent when stuff frustrates you.

So how about you? Got anything to add to my list? Have you run into this a lot in WAR? Leave a comment!

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Public Relations: The Bane of Warlordry

Public Relations issues are my least favorite part of being the Overlord. But hating them doesn't make them go away, and they can make or break your career. So, I've got a few general tips, and then an overview of just some of the people you'll see out there.

The First Good Idea (tm) of Public Relations as the Overlord is to never act in a way that can be used against you. Before telling someone off, consider the wisdom of it, and choose your words carefully. If one of my troops is constantly in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing, I can tell him "Hey Name! You need to fall in line and listen to instruction! I will remove you from the Warband if necesary!" What I shouldn't say is "Hey Name! Stop being stupid and do what what you're told!" Just telling a soldier he's an idiot makes me look like a jerk, burns my bridges (he'll never listen to me again), and doesn't create a consequence for further disobedience. However, the first statement shows that I care about the performance of the team, and that he needs to shape up to be on it—it's not a personal attack.

The First Good Idea (tm) ties in well with the Second Good Idea (tm), which is to instruct, not criticize. Back in the WoW days, I started off working with a guildmate. She was old enough to be my grandma, and she would willingly admit that her eyes would glaze over after a sentence or two of technical talk. I could have criticized her for being a slow learner (honestly though, I just thought it was cool that she was even playing the game. How many of YOUR grandparents play MMO's?). But I didn't. Instead, I just patiently instructed. In the end, it paid off—big time. Not only was I able to continue a friendship with her, she was also the most reliable and effective Subcommander I ever had the pleasure of working with. So, yes, being a Warlord with good PR can require epic patience. But by seeing yourself as an Instructor instead of a Punisher, you'll retain many more soldiers to fight by your side.

The Third Good Idea (tm) is to never forget the Silent Majority. The Silent Majority of players are looking for some good, clean fun, where they can be treated with respect and enjoy some wholesome enemy-bashing entertainment. They won't say much, and they won't be very obvious. But the critical thing to remember is that they form the core and the backbone of your army. One of my rules back when I ran AV raids was that swearing was to be kept to a minimum, and we are to treat everyone else we were with with respect. I cannot tell you how many times I had someone I didn't even recognize whisper me to tell me that my raids were the only raids they would join. It just happened that often. So remember: when you decide to be a foulmouthed twerp, you will suddenly find yourself without half your warband, and you will have to move heaven and earth to gain them back.

People You'll See
Into every Warlord's career, some pain must fall. Lots of times, this comes in the form of the people you have to deal with. That's right kids! Not only do you have to strategize, organize, and do other things that end in ize, you have to deal with people on your own team intentionally or unintentionally bringing you down! Comes in many different flavors! And if you know of one I've forgotten, feel free to share in the comments!

The Repressed Teenager
His parents don't allow him to talk about "adult subjects" or swear in real life, so he's decided to get all of it out in YOUR Warband.

Danger: Turns an otherwise productive warband into a gibbering pile of foul language and "that's what she said" comments. Let it continue, and you're in grave danger of losing the backing of your Silent Majority.

How not to Handle it: Treat him like the child he is, and he'll shrug you off just like his parents.

Best Choices for Handling it: A friendly comment like, "Hey, let's keep it civil in here, guys!" can do a world of good. If that doesn't work, a whisper can also be effective: "I would personally appreciate it if you could hold off on the curses when it's not really necessary." The point is to appeal to his ego: by putting the ball in his court, you've treated him as an adult, and he'll often respect you for it.

Grumbles and Mutters (personal experience =P): I've known quite a few of these. They don't HAVE to be teenagers, but most are. And they don't HAVE to be repressed—it could just be that they act this way all the time. However, I've been able to convince a good number of them to hold off on the strong language and dirty jokes simply by asking nicely. Since they respected me as a good Commander, it worked. A lot of times, they aren't bad people, but just have the wrong idea for when you should tell which jokes and say what things.

The "Special Requirement"
Despite how many times you say to "/join Zaukther", this person just keeps saying "invite me! invite me!!1!" On the off chance he actually manages to get in my group, he'll want special attention and personal instruction.

Danger: We love as many people as we can get to fight at our side, right? Right! But although the Special Requirement by himself isn't bad, what happens when you have two? What about three? What about seven, or eight? The danger here is that you lose all your time catering to special needs, and have no time left to properly strategize or consult with scouts, other warlords, and advisors.

How Not to Handle it: Don't coddle the Special Requirement. I know we hate saying no, but if every general consulted with every private before every advance, the army would never move.

Best Choices for Handling it: Depending on the aptitude of the person, you may be able to salvage this to your benefit. If the person is intelligent, but just likes the attention of the Overlord, see if you can convince them to scout for you, or lead one of the other roles. Often times the Special Requirement is someone with actual leadership potential. Who knew? Other times, the Special Requirement is just someone who simply doesn't get it. Either they don't understand how to listen to your orders through warband or region chat, or they don't understand that you cannot personally respond to every person. You're a great guy, but you only have two hands and one mind, and those are busy strategizing, organizing, and collaborating! In this case, offer them the option to leave with no hard feelings—we like them, but we have an army to run.

Grumbles and Mutters: My most recent personal experience with this was not only someone who didn't understand that I'm already stretched thin as it is, but someone with a chip on their shoulder to boot! Ack! This person felt slighted because I would not repeat my orders in another chat channel. Worst of all, it was an alt of one of our 40 guildmates (I was leading a tier 3 Army at the time). Not only was I unable to convince the poor guy that I really do like him, and it's not personal that I can't repeat everything, I got frustrated with the situation and snapped at my Warbands. Fortunately, they gave me the feedback I needed—"We didn't deserve that!" Oh...right. They didn't deserve to have me snap at them. I ended up apologizing to my Warbands for what I said, and apologizing personally to the other Warlord I had been overbearing with. It was a tiring night, but a couple good lessons there: 1) Don't let frustration get to you, because it will hurt your ability and reputation as a warlord. 2) When you mess up, apologize. When you get egg on your face, pretending it isn't there and moving on doesn't make your face any cleaner. Better to be seen as imperfect than unreasonable.

The Talented Up and Coming Warlord
Now hold up a minute! This is MY tur—NO.

This person is NOT a problem. As much as we like to be Overlords, it is not "our turf." We are here to WIN, not to have power. If another Warlord is leading the battle and doing well when you arrive, you are not there to dethrone him and take his place. Sometimes, we like to think of the position of power as ours by right, but WAR is a meritocracy—if someone else can do the job just as well as you or I can, it's time we had a little humility and acted the lesser parts. You still want your side to win, right? Then play the Underlord, or the Scout. Try something new for a change, and play to win.

Now, when the person already in command has little tactical sense, THEN is the time to make the case to go somewhere else. A classic blunder is to continue assaulting a heavily defended keep when there are five others you could take. I know—sometimes, you NEED that keep, and it's the only keep you have to choose from. But otherwise, situations like this are a good cause to usurp. But seriously, unless you have a better plan than the guy already in charge (even if he "took your place" while you were out at dinner), there's no need to undermine his authority.

The Newbie
Often found in droves in Pick-up warbands, the Newbie isn't a bad player or a dumb person. They're just new to this tier or just getting into ORVR, and need a little extra help.

Danger: You give an order, and mass chaos erupts. What's BFP? What on earth is a t4 elf N BO? These are the folks that aren't clear on the lingo.

How Not to Handle it: Don't assume that just because someone is in an ORVR Warband they know what they're doing. Don't give orders with acronyms, shortened versions, or code.

Best Choices for Handling it: If you're going to, say, Gnol Baraz in Black Fire Pass in Tier 3 Dwarf, say THAT instead of saying "We're going to GB!" Some people will think you're going to Green Bay. Only YOU can prevent Newbies from becoming the Special Requirement—spay and neu...wait, wrong line. Ah, right! Give clear, full, and oft-repeated directions in the proper chat channel!

Grumbles and Mutters: Not too much Grumbling and Muttering here. Something I learned early on as a Warlord, and it's something I've held on to. It's a critical aspect of Warlordry, you know.

Remember, if you've seen, heard about, or (heaven forbid, BEEN) one of these or others, feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

Ironbreaker Insight: When in doubt with a public relations fiasco, nicely AX the person to leave.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some Population Balance Lovin' for Monolith

Badlands server has had the great good fortune of being on the receiving end of the open character transfers. It's why I'm a CoW! Well now we have some good news for the Destruction CoWs languishing on Monolith server: Your turn has come!

From what I've seen, these optional character transfers have been a lifesaver for some players, allowing them to experience the game on the broad scale that it was intended. I'm very pleased that Mythic is continuing to evaluate the server populations and taking action as needed.

Originally posted at

I Think I've Got This Mixed Up

As anyone who has read this blog can attest, Zaukther and I are a couple of RvR kind of guys. It's got nothing to do with WAR's PvE content; I've enjoyed working through the quests and PQs for the first tier on my Warrior Priest and White Lion. But on most of my alts, especially my Shadow Warrior and Blackguard, my preferred way to play has been RvR. Ironically, these are the characters that I play when no one else is on or I feel like just running around by myself. RvR gives a nice way to enjoy the game that is structured, yet varied. Familiar, while still dynamic and surprising at times.

So this week I convinced my beautiful wife to roll up a character on a trial key and try out the game with me. And thus was Tanroann the Sorceress unleashed on the shores of the Blighted Isle. Since my Blackguard is already in T2, I decided to roll up a new character as well. And given that I already have a Warrior Priest, I decided against the Disciple of Khaine and instead went with a Black Orc I have named Facepalmer. (It's not stealing if it's a tribute, right?) Tanroann isn't big on the idea of PvP just yet, which isn't suprising considering she's coming from Guild Wars, so for right now we are focusing on PvE only. Working through the Dark Elf Tier 1, I've found that the PvE is even more fun when played with someone else. I'm enjoying myself immensely, reading the quest text, taking advantage of the easy PQs (God bless you, Mythic), and getting chewed out by haughty Druchii in every shade of purple. After two years of being the heros that save the world (over and over again), it's nice to take a break and just let the evil side out.

Still, I was struck today by the odd juxtaposition of my playing habits. I've got my main in Tier 4, which I play when the guild is out together in a warband. I've got my PvP alts, which I run solo or PUG RvR 90% of the time. And now I've got a PvE alt, which I only play with my wife. I'd be surprised if Mythic considered my use case when they designed the game, but it's a credit to them that I can play in so many varied ways and have fun doing all of them. Just one more reason that I love the WAR.

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Layout Just Isn't Enough

Regis has another post up about his new UI layout. While his previous setup was designed for the healer role, the new one is focused on Choppa he's got planned. This got me thinking. Why do I have to have the same layout for all of my characters? Like Regis, I've found that the different roles have different information requirements. I couldn't even attempt being a competent healer without Squared, and unless I'm playing my White Lion or Shadow Warrior a DPS meter is just depressing. So I've come up with an idea:

I'd like to be able to save a UI profile. I'd like to be able to create several of these profiles to meet the needs of my different characters. The profile should store both the standard UI as well as the location and configuration of addons. I want to be able to apply any profile I make to any of my characters (even if it's restricted to one server). And I want each character's UI profile to be stored with them on the server, instead of having to re-create everything when I borrow a friend's machine at a LAN party. Sure, addon specific stuff wouldn't work, but at least I wouldn't have to reset the action bar to use 4 bars every time. Bonus points for allowing me to save a copy of the configuration locally and apply it to a character on a different server.

This request is for the altaholic, addon addicted players like me out there. It would save us some time and headaches. Granted, this idea should probably wait till after Mythic feels comfortable with RvR and Fortress/City Sieges. But I figured I might as well get it out there and try to get it stuck in a developer's head.

Originally posted at

WAR Is Murder.

Well, as I said earlier, I've been spending the last several days enjoying the Night of Murder live event. Since tonight is the Night of the Eternal Hard Drive Format, I guess this is a good time to relay my thoughts on the Night of Murder. As a big time pvp player, this one was just chock-full of tasks that rewarded me for doing what I love. Which is also something that I love. 

It also came just as my main pushed up into the firm footing of Rank 32 and all the Tier 4 glory that entails. Now, I must admit I was a little hesitant to finally reach the big leagues, so to speak. But that hesitation disappeared the first night out. Turns out, last Friday was Alliance RvR Night for the Echelon Alliance on Badlands server. I thought well led PUGs in the lower Tiers were fun, but those were nothing compared to the Awesome that is a full warband of allies, all communicating and working together. With that taste fresh in my mouth, I've been spending almost all my free time running around with a Guild or Alliance group.

And my, how the tasks have just flown by! As of yesterday evening, I am officially a Master Assassin! In all the time that I spent doing Night of Murder stuff, the only thing that I felt would have made it better was an increased respawn rate on the marked mobs in Altdorf. I dropped down to T1 to do the Burning Windmill PQ a couple times to finish off my last four. Other than that, I thought everything went really well. The influence requirements seemed just right, requiring more than one day but not the full week to complete. When I first saw the assassination tasks, especially relating to guild officers and leaders, I got a bit concerned about how to complete them. But T4 is apparently littered with high-ranking guildsmen and I finished those tasks in short order. 

Long story short, this was a great RvR live event. I'm not sure how they are going to keep this up at the rate they have been, but I sure hope they have similar success with Bitter Rivals next month!

Originally posted at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'll Tell You What If!

Syp has an interesting list of "What If?" scenarios for Warhammer Online. Below I've taken my stab at responding to a few of them.

A steep death penalty would kill open RvR. We'd be reduced to Witch Xs trying to gank the poor noob who stumbled out into the lake to do one of the quests from the warcamp. Sure, a few hard-core guilds would probably put together some RvR groups, but the main focus of the game would turn to PvE.

The resetting world idea is interesting, but would kill replay value. There are only so many times we are going to want to have to go fight through T1 before we get sick of it. 

The WoW battlegrounds people would soil themselves as they ran crying from the field of battle.

I like the idea of losing a RR on death in PvP, but the rate of Renown gain would have to be fast enough to keep up. I'd probably only have this effect the RvR lakes, not scenarios. And I'd remove the cap on renown to allow people to store up a buffer of sorts.

Monthly contests to design quests would absolutely ROCK! One winner for each tier in each pairing would give a nice batch of new content on a regular basis. And the winning quests should be interesting, rewarding, and fun.

Flying mounts would be interesting, but I worry about the effect on RvR. With the new flight masters in zones that didn't previously have them, there is a very real possibility that a warband could mount on flying critters and stealth take a keep without having to attack a single door. Like I said, interesting, but probably more of a headache than it is worth. Simple adding faster mounts or mounted combat would have all the coolness without the headaches.

A single rotating scenario is a neat idea. I think it would have the side effect of making the current scenario's pairing the most likely one to be pushed on a given day. Unless scenarios are taken out of zone flipping calculations, I don't think that this idea would work very well.

Players repairing stuff in pillaged cities/warcamps would be very cool. I'd love to see something like that, with supporting skills and professions to help make it go faster. I can see a masonry guild forming to replace walls and such. A great world immersion idea.

And them's my views. What's yours?

Originally posted at

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sneak Peak at Patch 1.2

Mark has a preview of the 1.2 patch up on the Herald for all to see. I'm far too late to the party to say much original, but here goes:

Class balancing will be great, especially looking at the classes they are talking about changing.

Bug fixes are another welcome change. I like to hear numbers like 500 resolved bugs/issues. From a PR standpoint, I'd lean toward making smaller sets of regular bug fixes to reinforce the idea that Mythic is seriously hammering away on the issues that players have highlighted. But a "Patch Tuesday" could lead to some folks making the wrong conclusion.

The crafting system is in need of an overhaul. Just pulling the functionality of a couple of popular crafting addons would help tremendously. Since I'm not into apothecary, I don't have a lot of stake in this round of fixes. But it should be a good indicator of what Mythic thinks needs fixing in the crafting system. As a major individualist, I'd really like to see less dependence on multiple gathering skills for the crafting professions, but I realize that's probably not going to happen. So instead, I'd like to lobby for the ability to queue up a set of items to manufacture. If I've got enough stuff to make ten talismans, let me hit the button and make all ten, one after the other. Cultivating should also be able to add all of the ingredients that they want to use up front, instead of having to wait for a seed to be planted.

Multiple attachments in the mail is one of the no-brainer features that really should have been included in the mail system design from an early stage. zMailMod has made my life so much easier moving items between alts. With this fix, I'll be able to get rid of another addon.

New live event for the new careers. Lots has been said. Short response: Sweet!

Finally, I'm going to note that high-level dungeon and RvR item drops are getting another look. As a Grace Warrior Priest main, I found this bit by Regis very informative. I don't know what they are going to do with these items, but hopefully someone is seriously thinking about how they work now vs how they ought to work. I realize that there are some issues with scale and scope, but it seems suprising to me that Guild Wars could offer a token-esque system for armor customization, along with full tokens used to purchase a weapon after defeating the end-game boss in each campaign. I know it'll take a little work, but I think that armor set tokens or customization options would give the game a tremendous boost.

That's all I've got for now. Night of Murder has been eating my time in WAR, leaving little for blogging about WAR. Which is fine by me right now. I'm going to get the Master Assassin title, then I'll have a write-up including my thoughts and reactions.

[UPDATE] Another update to the patch notes has been added to the Herald, with lots of specifics. Waaaaay too much to even try to work through. Most interesting to me was that they are in fact making it so that crafting will not depend as much on multiple gathering skills, just like I thought would never happen. Guess when it comes to what Mythic will do next, I just haven't got a clue!

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leaders: Grown Fresh in Your Own Backyard

For those who have noticed War 'n Pieces and linked over to us, a big thanks! I'm flattered by the descriptions of me that I've seen, and it's always a privilege to be known in the community.

One thing I'd like to point out in particular is that some have called me a "born leader." But actually, I can't take credit for that. There are two people in particular that I owe my grasp of strategy and my leadership capabilities to.

It was in Urielfixor's School of Hard Knocks that I learned much of the strategy I use today. Back in that day, I was playing Defense of the Ancients, based in the real time strategy game of Warcraft III. We would play one on one games, hour after hour, with him slaughtering me game after game. Every time he appeared weak, he was feinting me, luring me to a bad position where he could lay down the pain on me. And any time he appeared strong, he was bluffing. At first, his play style looks lethargic, until (after much defeat at his able hands) you realize the underlying principle: only engage the enemy when you have the advantage, strike swiftly, and retreat before you are in dire straits. By simply not being around for me to fight, he could lure me into a trap, time after time.

This strategy is one I hold to today. A few nights ago, my warbands arrived just seconds after the enemy killed our keep lord. It was an epic battle, but after their keep lord spawned in about fifty seconds after we arrived, Maladorn confirmed my suspicion: our forces could tarry on, but we wouldn't be winning this battle. At that point, I literally gave the order to my warbands: die. One death is humiliating, but being farmed is excruciating. Then, instead of regrouping and attacking the enemy at their strong point, I dispatched scouts to our other keeps, and formed up my forces in the warcamp. Then, when the scouts gave the heads up on which keep they were attacking, we went to that keep, in order to bring the fight to a place where the advantage was ours.

A year later in my gaming career, I apprenticed under Danagar, a true Master. He led the forty man Alterac Valley raids in World of Warcraft. His manner was laid back, his directions were clear, his instruction was constructive, and his raids were just plain fun. I started serving in his raid as a plain grunt, just following instructions and doing as I was told. As I became more familiar with his strategy, and the layout of the battleground, I began to be able to answer some of the many questions that were thrown at him constantly: "Where is this?", "What do I do here?", "Why are we doing this and that?". I enjoyed helping, but didn't see anything more of it. However, he saw something in me that I didn't see myself. He started giving me the responsibility of leading his Backcap group, a critical group of about ten people, which defends against the entire enemy force. Since I was a rogue, and had the ability to stealth, it was a natural fit.

But more than that, I enjoyed the leadership. I could tell my backcap group to go here, do this, distract him, cap that, and so on. And since I did it with the power of Danagar's leadership behind me, people followed my instructions. It was exhilarating. I began to formulate strategies of my own, and lead as one with authority. Sadly, Danagar eventually stopped doing the raids. He had collected everything he could from them, so there was no reason to continue. So it was then that I began to lead the whole thing on my own.

My first raid, I had to get him to help me recruit all the people I needed, since I was still so unknown in the game world. But, after that first raid, people began to flock under my banner, and whisper me incessantly: "When's the next AV?". It was extremely stressful to me, but it was tons of fun, crushing the horde, including their premades. But the interest was short to last. The battle, while fun, was always the same. The victory, while enjoyable, was never satisfying. No matter how many times you kill Drek'thar, he always returns.

Not only is this the story of my gaming history, it is also the reason I am so much at home in Warhammer Online. The battles are different every time, and there are no constants. The game is still a game, but the strategy is real. The victory is satisfying, because once you kill the enemy keep lord, for as long as you then hold the keep, it shall always be yours. Now THAT'S fun.

And remember, you don't have to be a born leader to be a magnificent general. All you need are three things: the humility to learn under the Masters in the field, the will to succeed, and the guts to put yourself out there to be judged by everyone. It's a tough job.

But it's a ton of fun.

Ironbreaker Insight: Roast witch elf tastes like chicken. But more satisfying.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Economy, Eh?

With a bit more info rolling in, Syp's ticked about the announced firings at Mythic's WAR dev team. He makes a good point, especially about how the increased contact with the devs has fostered a feeling of attachment and friendship between the gamers and those developers. In no particular order, here are my random thoughts about it:

- It's a business. EA and Mythic have to turn a profit in order to continue to provide the content and game play that we've come to expect in WAR. Given the choice between cutting some people and shutting down the game, I'll take the former every time.

- That said, I'm not convinced that WAR or Mythic are facing that kind of choice. With just six months since the launch of the game, EA and Mythic should be focusing on expanding, improving, and developing this title. Granted, it's very likely that the gaming economy is shrinking just like so much of the rest of the economy these days, but it seems to me that a major new title like this is going to require a high level of support regardless of economic factors.

- The timing kinda stinks. "Thanks for your effort! Let's celebrate the six month mark with a round of layoffs!" My educated guess is that the development of this kind of title is a big investment of time and energy by the developers, including long meetings, long nights, and long weekends to insure that the launch and ensuing months go well. To go from full speed developer to fired is a harsh drop. I don't know how many other projects Mythic has going on, but if I was that manager I'd be looking for every way possible to keep those developers on board somewhere somehow. 

- Besides the bad timing for the people fired, this isn't good timing for Mythic either. 300k continuing subscriptions isn't bad, but it's not a slam-dunk either. Pair that with notice that you're firing developers, QA, and customer service sends the wrong message that you don't expect to grow much more. And that kind of pessimistic message has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

- As long as Mythic hits the release schedule they laid out last week, this will probably be forgotten in six months. But that doesn't make it any easier for the folks who have to update the resumes and look for work in a down market. 

Originally posted at

Welcome, Comrades!

Okay, I'll confess, I played too much Call of Duty 2 a couple months back, so now my brain hears "Russia" and thinks "Comrade". But enough about me, let's welcome all the new subscribers in the lands of the Eurasian super-continent. It's good to see the game opened up to another mass of potential users, especially on the heels of this week's less glamorous announcements. But we won't let that get us down here!

Originally posted at

Open RvR Only Challenge Status Updates

Following on the oRvR Only Challenge laid down by Syp, the Wide Eyed Newb gives us an update on the progress of a Zealot through the first couple Tiers. Like the W.E.N., I've found that I love the oRvR despite the slower leveling pace. I've got two alts in Tier 2, one Shadow Warrior and one Blackguard, and both are running on open RvR only for xp and gear. Given when I have time to play WAR, my playtime on these characters tends to fit right into prime time, so I've not run into the slow periods that the Newb describes. 

Also, since I spent a lot of time in the RvR lakes with my Warrior Priest, I've been enjoying the scenarios more on my alts. The different perspective of a new class has breathed new life into what had become old hat and mundane. Ironically, I'm starting to feel a little guilty about ignoring the PvE content, especially since I enjoyed it so much in Tier 1 for my first two characters. Perhaps it's time to bring my Warrior Priest back down just to experience the quests and PQs.

Update: Syp, being the consumate professional casual blogger that he is, has an update on who's in the challenge. Always fun to get noticed!

Originally posted at

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Art of War for WAR, Part 1

Due to the limited nature by which WAR is a simulation of real life, not every aspect of the Art of War applies to WAR. HOWEVER, it should be noted that the commander that knows the basic tenants of strategy will have the victory over he who does not. So, while the actual Art of War contains much more than this, I will detail only the part applicable to Warhammer Online, so that you, the reader, may become an effective tactician and battlefield commander.

Part 1 of Sun Tzu's Art of war is laying plans. There are three parts of import to us: Earth, the Commander, and Method and Discipline.

Earth concerns the ideas of distance, of narrow passes and open plains, and of safety and danger. So, what we can learn from this is simple and practical:

1) Never forget the distance which your army must travel. For if you do not take that into account, the enemy shall take the keep which you had delayed defending (for a BO or some such), and turn the Advantage of Earth against you.

2) Let the size of your battlefield be proportional to the size of your army. A small force is best suited for defending a keep at a choke point, such as the top of the stairs or at the front door. A larger force is well suited for assaulting the enemy's line directly during a defense, and assaulting the enemy stronghold.

3) Make dangerous plans with risk involved only when you can afford for them to fail. If the enemy force is equal in power to mine, and is assaulting my inner keep, I can only afford to attack their lines directly if my warcamp is very close by. Otherwise, I risk not only losing the the assault, but losing the entire keep itself, by nature of Distance working against me.

The Commander
The Commander stands for wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. To be the Commander, this is what YOU must be. But there are ways that you can show it...

1) Show wisdom by not attempting a keep assault with only two groups. It always astonishes me how many Commanders feel trapped by the fact that there are no more BO's in the area, and seem to think that they must now assault the keep. Flying is in the game for a reason.

2) Be direct and honest. If your soldiers think you're prone to joking around, they will think that your more subtle schemes, which require following strange orders, are just a joke. YES, leading a warband is fun and exiting, but save the laugh riot for later.

3) Don't bite the heads off people who have done incorrectly because of a mistake. At some point, a scout WILL give you information that is not true. Chastise him, and lose the scout. Instruct him and gain a better scout.

4) Be courageous on the field. As a tank, I can always be the first to attack the Lord of the keep, and the first to charge the enemy line. In fact, I would recommend that Commanders consider trying a tank class if they truly enjoy commanding, because, if they love him, the troops will follow their commander anywhere. But as a tank, I can safely lead that charge.

5) You must speak firmly, yet not harshly, against usurpers, dissidents, and the strategically challenged. You must clearly relate your disappointment when your warbands fail to follow your instruction. Conversely, praise them when they follow those difficult instructions, and when they show perseverance in the face of low rewards and great danger.

Method and Discipline
For the sake of WAR, the important part of method and discpline (besides what I mentioned under the Commander section) is marshaling the army in its proper subdivisions. Practical steps to acheive this aim are...

1) When you need a scout to stay at a keep to watch for the enemy warband, simply say so. The average player of Warhammer knows how best to get his rewards: if he's capped in influence in the zone you're going to, but still needs influence in the zone you're in now, he will offer to stay behind, because then the first 5 minutes of the defense will belong solely to him. Other scouts are simply scouts by altruism. They have a love for the commander, or simply a desire to help. Cherish these, and do not overburden or assume upon their willingness, and you shall have their aid for many battles to come.

2) When the first warband gets full, make sure you tell the others to make an overflow warband, and keep in contact with its Warlord. Since warbands can only be so large, sometimes you only know how half of your troops feel about something. It's important to be aware of the rest of your forces, lest they feel as they're being ignored and decide to abandon you.

Ironbreaker Insight: From a lower center of gravity, you can fling away the more unbalanced races.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week in Review

Wow has this been fun so far. Nothing like a big announcement to finish off my first week on the WAR blogging scene. All the Age of Blogging folks have been a great encouragement this last week, though I'm not quite sure what Syp was talking about with this description:
"WAR 'n Pieces sounds absolutely delicious, just like those little candies E.T. would eat. Also, it's hardcore brutality contained in jagged words!"
Guess I picked a name that simultaneously reminds him of hard candies and gore chunks flying around... Now there is a mental image. Hmmm, might have to run a contest for a banner image! Anyway, I'm really looking forward to keeping this up over the coming weeks and months. 

And of course, I can't forget to throw a big shout-out to my co-blogger here at the WAR 'n Pieces, Zaukther. It's been great to see his thought process, because I've been watching in awe as he's been running his warbands for a while. Now we've got his words of wisdom for all to benefit from.

Looking ahead, we've got lots of stuff coming down the pipe. From new classes to balance patches to RvR zones, we're going to be here to check it all out. It is our sincere hope that you'll stick around to share it with us. I really enjoy carrying the conversations, so whether you agree or disagree, feel free to drop a comment and say what's on your mind. Have fun, and we'll see you in the WAR!

Originally posted at