The Ballad of Breakin’ Iron

An axe as big as her head

An axe as big as her head

I was reading Snafzg’s excellent summary of the latest what-class-do-you-want-to-play poll at WHA (currently almost 5000 people have voted which gives a pretty awesome poll size).

What really stood out for me were how the numbers had changed since the last time they did a career poll. One of the big differences between this career poll and the last one is that a lot of the people playing have now had a chance to play either closed beta or the preview weekend. So more of the choices are now based on having actually tried the class.

On the Order side, the classes which were originally the most popular were the Warrior Priest (For SIgmar! Bollocks!) and the White Lion (Grawwwrrr!!). But in this poll, both of them have been completely overtaken by a stubborn little beardy/braidy outsider with a honking big axe (or shield). (NB. White Lion unpopularity is likely due to pet pathing issues which have been acknowledged and should be resolved by launch.)

Meet the Ironbreaker, small but perfectly formed avatar of teh awesome! I played one up to about level 9 in closed beta so I’m not the expert by any means, but it was terrific fun and I’m definitely planning on picking one up as an alt.

Probably more similar to the WoW warrior than any of the other tanks in the game, the Ironbreaker’s abilities depend not only on Action Points but also on Grudges, and she gets more Grudges every time either she or her Oathfriend take more damage. Some abilities also give more Grudge. The Oathfriend is a cool mechanic by which you pick out one of your party to be your Oathfriend. Some of the Ironbreaker abilities grant a buff to both Ironbreaker and her Oathfriend and you can switch your Oathfriend around in combat if you need to (ie. to whoever is currently getting hit, to grab more Grudge). Some of the Ironbreaker abilities do more damage depending on how much Grudge you have. Not all of them actually use up Grudge to do so.

This means that once an Ironbreaker builds up 100 Grudge, she can put out some major hurt, especially if specced to do so. I didn’t play one with a level 31 template but my guildies who did were very happy with the class.

Like every tank in Warhammer, the Ironbreaker also gets the ability to guard someone in their group and take half of their damage. Guard can also be swapped round in combat and is a great way to keep your favourite healer (read: the one who actually heals you) out of harm’s way.

Wolf Slayer

Wolf Slayer

I did locate a shield and try tanking some low level public quests with my gal and she was a rocking little tank. I had no trouble grabbing aggro or keeping it and was happily poking the toenails of big monstery things and yelling dwarfy taunts at them while the rest of the group killed them. (As an aside, one of the funniest things I have seen in game is my husband playing a tank because he actually does yell at the monsters when he hits taunt, so I keep hearing comments like ‘Oi! Titface!’ coming from across the room.)

I’m still not sure how PQ contribution is calculated but I had no trouble topping the list as a tank when I’d been tanking everything for the whole 3 phases so I think there’s a fairly heavy bias towards tanking.

I played her a bit in Scenarios and also found that a lot of fun. Tanks in this game are made for people who have a talent for being in the way. I did pretty well by spotting where Destruction was charging towards our squishies and wandering into the way. Collision detection is very fun for tanks. And having tried one, I’m not surprised that they are all so popular in the polls.

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Bye bye freedom

So Warhammer Online has gone gold, and the open beta will be with us on 7th Sept – the client is up and ready for download!. That gives me.. a couple of weeks left of ‘freedom’, and I don’t know about you, but I actually have a plan this time on how to get things ready in my life.

The Practical

  • Gain some husband rep by doing dishes, cooking, generally hanging out and watching DVDs
  • Ensure laundry is done and up-to-date
  • Make and freeze some meals so husband doesn’t have to do all the cooking! (he’s unbearably good at feeding me when I’m caught up in gaming)
  • Get plenty of rest, seriously, plenty!
  • Catch up on all my recorded TV on the PVR – making sure I’m on top of things, and reminding myself that leisure time doesn’t have to be in front of a PC
  • Organisation – sort out bills, medical appts, etc
  • Give lots of quality cat-cuddling time, so they don’t feel too unloved and fall asleep on keyboard or mouse when they want attention
  • Work out my autumn TV schedule and set it all up on the PVR. Yes, I am a bit of a TV fan, but I like to think I only watch decent stuff ;p
  • Read more of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. Just finished book 1
  • Make sure vidcam works before Games Day trip, and that I have any idea how to get data off it

The Philosophical

Ponder the following:

  • What is better; Trez or Freebies?
  • Why is it called ChaosCast if they’re all playing Greenskins?
  • Which am I looking forward to more; Lost or Battlestar Galactica?

Game-related

  • Look at Rune Priest masteries, have a vague idea how I might spec
  • Finalise list of character names I actually like – double-check that I like them
  • Decide on an alt (more naming hell)
  • Decide if I even want a Destruction alt on another server
  • Build up my post count on guild forums, which I’ve not been that active on because of blogging or gaming!
  • Make sure I’m up-to-date with all my LotRO stuff and do stuff with LotRO guild before my play-time there scales back radically (yay for lifetime subs)
  • Discuss some BoG plans with Hawley and Spinks – maaaybe look at design, and then ignore it ;p
  • Get nervous about Games Day, try not to worry about missing out on some headstart because of travelling to and from Games Day and seeing my family at the same time

I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking I need to get things in order before the game releases. So what are you all planning to do before life gets… really busy?

Open Beta Download available for EU

Farewell, closed beta loading screen

Farewell, closed beta loading screen

Yup, the open beta download is available via the EU website. Closed Beta testers don’t need to re-download the client, we can just patch our installs up as per normal.

Set all phasers to lag. And thanks Fiale for the heads up.

Regular Edition Pre-Order details for Europe

Hurrah! For the day long foretold has dawned. A day of mystery. A day of prophecy. A day on which to rejoice and gambol cheerily through the murky London streets, exclaiming, “GOA updated their website!” And lo, there is an announcement about the regular edition pre-order programme in Europe. And behold, for it does include a list of pre-order campaign partners (ie. shops).

I’m sure you know the URL but here’s the link.

Regular Edition is the same as Standard Edition, for anyone who is getting confused at all the acronyms. So if you pre-order your regular edition, you will get as a bonus:

  • a 3 day head start
  • a couple of bonus items in game (the portable camp and champion’s sapphire band, as per collector’s edition)

Now not all pre-order campaign partners are equal. Some are premium partners – and those are the ones you want to order from if you ALSO want an Open Beta key.

Currently the only premium partner listed is the EA Store (although they mention Direct2Drive also so it may be that section isn’t finished yet? I’ll keep this post updated if they add more.)

The choice that dares not speak its name

We’re all writing a lot about class choice, mastery choice, Destruction vs Order choice, server type choice. These are all relevant and interesting discussions. But over at our guild forums, another choice has cropped up and one that means something quite personal to me, so I thought I’d raise it. The choice not to play Warhammer Online.

First, I don’t imagine any of us in the ‘community’ don’t recognise this is a valid choice. I think we just figure that the people we’re ‘talking’ to have probably already decided to play Warhammer Online.

But, in the wake of the closed beta and the preview weekend (if you happen to be in America), some people will make the choice not to play the game, for all sorts of reasons which I’m not going to comment on – except for the one closest to my heart.

My husband (who may write up some of his beta experiences up for us), will not be playing the game on release. It’s not that he didn’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s the opposite – he really enjoyed his Witch Hunter and Bright Wizard (and Squig Herder). The problem is, he has no limits when it comes to gaming and can happily still play for 24h without coming up for air.

So, in the spirit of keeping his vice in check, he’ll be sticking to non-MMOs in the future. It’s not been an easy choice for either of us, as you might imagine. We like to game together, he got on with my guildmates (who he’d not previously met, since he gave up LotRO for the same reason), but at some point, real life needs to be considered. And he knows he’ll be happier in the long run if he doesn’t pick up Warhammer Online.

A couple of other guildmates have decided not to pick up the game initially. I haven’t asked why because I respect their decision. As I said to them – Warhammer Online isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we.

Balance? I don’t need no steenking bal … arrrrgh!

Wotcha everyone,

Every so often, real-life permitting, myself and a group of mates meet up to play boardgames.  Normally, we play long but involving games, that we don’t finish properly because we’re too slow and social to play fast enough.  Needless to say, fun is still had.

Tonight, we shall be playing one of our shorter, lighter games.  One of those on offer, and my personal favourite “light” game, is Pitch-Car.  For those that don’t want to follow the link, it’s like Subbuteo, but with racing cars on a track.  Obviously thought up by a genius.

Almost everyone I know who has tried it has approached the table with trepidation, come away thinking it’s a work of genius, and desperate to have another race.  It has inspired moments of envy, of awe, of sheer hilarity.  There have been times I have laughed so much I had to be reminded to breathe.

So tonight, we shall flick little wooden disks around a wooden race track, until the muscles of our flicking fingers are stiff and sore, and our nails are bruised and painy.  It’s a great game, and what’s more, because it’s just a set of identical disks with everyone racing on the same track, it’s perfectly balanced.  It’s all about the skill of the player.

Ah, “Balance”.  The Holy Grail of Gaming.  Why can’t games be balanced.  It’s simple enough, surely?  Just make everyone equal in terms of power, and that way everyone has fun.

I hate “Balance”.  If I had my way, it would be an un-word.  One with no rational meaning.  Because, in gaming terms, it has no meaning, no relevance.  Even those little wooden discs with stylised racing cars printed on them aren’t equal.  Some spin more than others.  Some are more stable.  They’re painted different colours, and that will make a difference.  We’ve played this game *a lot*.  We know, otherwise we wouldn’t have our favourite cars…

You can’t bring balance into a game which has different classes, with differing roles, skills, and the ability to use items.  That way lies madness.  Trust me, I know.  All you can do is try to make each way of playing fun, and if anything pops up as way over-powered, try to lower the power without screwing everything else over.

Besides, these are Massively Multiplayer Online games.  Not just Multiplayer.  Massively Multiplayer.  We don’t log on and take part in a series of one-on-one duels.  We form brute squads.  Warbands.  Zergs!  How can they be regulated, to ensure that each rabble has the right number and mix of characters, to ensure balance between sides?

And what about ourselves?  If I think my opponent isn’t as experienced a player as I am, should I play a bit dumber to give him a chance?  If his connection isn’t as good, should I pretend to have lag?  Should I force my pc to slowdown because he doesn’t spend most of his income on his gaming rig?

Balance.  Pah!  I remember my epiphany, when I suddenly realised that lack of balance actually made for more game than the sterile, turgid, stalemate that balance leads to.  Games were suddenly so much more fun.  I stopped caring that the other guy might have better equipment, or that his nuke did more damage than the Death Star.  I played harder, used my noggin, became a little more ruthless.  It’s not like I could do anything about the imbalance anyway.  And the returns were worth it.

Those desperate defences, the sweeping victories, the hard-won but fleeting wins.  I live for those moments.  Nobody dreams of a draw, they dream of bigger, better, more.

So I’m not worried about what the server population will be at release.  I’m not worried that They will have the uber classes, and Us will be made of fail.

I *am* worried that someone might attempt to grab my red and gold car this evening though.  She’s the best car on the track…

Cheers,
Hawley.

The Joy of Trez

Wotcha everyone,

Trez. It’s all shiny, and sparkly, and makes us face unspeakable odds, for just the chance of getting it.

Warhammer Online is no exception to the rule that online games must offer shiny trez. However, it does handle it slightly differently to the accepted norm.

And those exceptions were obvious from the start. NPCs were doling out quests, but they weren’t offering a choice of items that were seemingly picked at random from out of the ether. I didn’t get a choice of light, medium or heavy armour, with a variety of bonuses focused in the general direction of one or more classes. No. My Warrior Priest got offered some Warrior Priest armour, as worn by fashion conscious Warrior Priests. And very much in a “take it or leave it” fashion. So I took it.

It didn’t even strike me as odd that I didn’t get a choice, though. Maybe it was the shininess of getting in the beta, or the bewilderment of a brand new game, but I only started wondering at the restricted choice a long while later.

And then realised that it wasn’t restricted. Pretty much all of the time, I have a choice of Quest Rewards, Influence Rewards, and Renown Rewards. These are guaranteed, put the work in and get the item, items. I can check them out ahead of time, and decide which I would prefer. And on top of that, there are random Trez drops, from mobs and Public Quest chests.

Quite often, from Influence rewards for example, I’d get a choice of *what* item I’d like. Boots or gloves, Cassock or Warhammer, that sort of thing. But they were always from the Warrior Priest wardrobe.

I like that. I don’t have to worry about ending up wearing the epnymous World of Warcraft “Clown Suit”. I get really cool outfits, because the outfits are designed with my class in mind. Not for everyone’s class. So I’ll *always* look like a Warrior Priest. And if I’m not a fan of the outfit, I can dye many of them. It’s not just the stats that are important to me. It’s the looks.

I also love the way that random monstie drops can be any quality, at any level. From grey, through to epic, from level 1 onwards. It’s brave, but great. And the drop rate was far more generous than in other games I’ve seen; maybe this was because it was the beta, but I felt the drop rate was good enough to mean that characters got to play with nice items whilst levelling, rather than just at maximum level.

Cheers,
Hawley.

{Spinks: I agree! I never understood why NPCs in some games were so keen to offer me gear that I obviously can’t use. In fact, I don’t really like the idea of drops at all. I don’t ask my games to be hyper-realistic but why exactly would a pig be carrying(?) a mage’s staff ? And wouldn’t I be more keen to find out about its hapless former owner than grab it and run? The PQ influence system and renown gear vendors were pretty much tailor made for people like me. It’s great. I do the fun things I was going to do anyway and eventually I get to go buy some nice gear which is tailor-made for my class and all matches. And best of all? I don’t feel forced to rely on random drops.

There is one problem though. Despite all this, I have a love/hate relationship with cool random drops. I love it when I win them and I hate it when I lose them! But I can be quite happy with the occasional green/blue/purple that I can use or send to my guild or sell, as long as I don’t feel that I NEED that drop to do the stuff I want to do. So I’m pretty happy with WAR’s loot system, at least from what I’ve seen in beta.}