Back to the Tier 1

Me and Spinks launched ourselves into Norsca with a Magus/Zealot combo and puttered around with some of the early quests. As with the last time I tinkered in Destruction lands, I had an overwhelming feeling that there was more.. character than in the Order lands (and I happen to think both Empire and Dwarf lands have a fair amount of character). So it made me wonder if it was just because it was something so new to me.

I was also fairly impressed at Karak-Azgal and the lack of waiting times for scenarios. And found myself quickly at Rank 5. We also started a normal public quest and rapidly a full open group formed up around us, making it fairly easy for us to complete. It was a totally different experience even to the Warrior Priest I created recently, though that was a little over-run with Slayers.

The lesson from all of this, it’s worth trying something new, and perhaps on a different server even. I’ll never turn my back on my Rune Priest, but it’s definitely re-energised my WAR time for the moment. I think the Rune Priest is kind of waiting for the Land of the Dead, because I’m finding it hard to find a place for myself when I log in with her at the moment, it all seems a bit distant, and that’s completely my fault.

Tier 1 is fun because there’s a lack of crowd control and everyone is finding their feet. Also because Mythic throw us straight into everything we can do later in the game (barring keep taking and city sieges, but there is open RvR) and don’t make us mess about too much. We had at least one amusing moment where I admired Spinks’ shoulder tattoo and to investigate my shoulder I stripped off and discovered that my Magus had worrying skin-coloured underwear. I can do a VERY good impression of being naked (let’s put it that way).

The Destruction thing will eventually settle to being 1 night a week for us, but at the moment we’re grabbing an hour here and there as we can.  I’m still an Order gal at heart, but it’s nice to take a walk on the wild side.

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The Archmage Reloaded

Mythic have done a lot of unusual things for WAR players since the game was released. There have been new classes within the first few months, live events right off the bat, revamps of the PvP system, new event scenarios, and mass class tweaks.

But have they taken it a step too far this time?

Lost among the 1.2 patch notes, Mythic also presented a roadmap for changes to the Archmage/ Shaman which practically mean reworking the classes from the ground up. It is a long set of posts, and they are also asking for feedback. They emphasis that this is not set in stone, it is still early stage.

So I’ll go through the proposed changes and give my feedback right here!

What’s the goal?

The goal for the adjustment is to allow the Shaman / Archmages to become viable healers and nukers, but not necessarily be able to excel at both at the same time, because to do so would make them entirely too powerful in comparison to the other RDPS or healing careers. In addition, we wanted to work in a way for the AM / SH careers to generally be a bit more survivable, but they will have to sacrifice a little DPS or HPS to do so.

So, question is, what’s wrong with them at the moment. I’ll talk about Archmages because it is the class I have played.

My AM is a good healer. But she has some issues. She’s nowhere near as strong a healer or as survivable as a Warrior Priest, and although she is closer to the Rune Priest, she is still less survivable and doesn’t have as useful buffs (she has good debuffs but they are all very short and it’s difficult to see if they have much effect). Her HoTs aren’t really strong enough to be reliable, even though she has quite good mobility.

My AM is not a good damage dealer. When I have specced Asuryan for damage, I’ve had a lot of fun playing her but it was never a patch on what an actual dps class could throw out. And frankly, if I choose to play her as a dps caster with some emergency heals, there’s no reason for her to be so far behind. The price of versatility has been way too high for Archmages, and the same punishing ‘thou shalt not be as good as a dps’ does not seem to apply to the melee healers.

Survivability is going to be shot as long as Archmages are tall glowy elves who are easily picked out of the crowd. Only a disguise skill could help with that. Shamans absolutely do not have that issue, because they are short and look like Squig Herders.

Having to sacrifice dps or heals to be more survivable seems out of line with how the other healers play, but I’d expect my Archmage to be significantly more survivable even if it’s just over short periods if I’m asked to make that sacrifice. If it’s just a ‘bit’ more survivable then I don’t see the need to sacrifice anything.

I am on board with the notion that being able to excel at both healing and damage at the same time would put them out of whack. But the mission statement says ‘viable’ heals and damage and we don’t know what that means to Mythic. It does sound as though there is to be some penalty for versatility — they’ll not be quite as good as pure healers or pure dps.

But the raw numbers aren’t the end of the story. What I hope to see is better survivability for the AM via lifetaps. And maybe even a healing style that’s just a bit different from the Runepriest.

In Just 3 Stages, I can build you a new class

In any case, the revamp will take three stages.

  • 1.2.1 Minor tweaks, base adjustments to damage.
  • 1.3 Changing the Mastery Paths
  • 1.3.1 Changing the Mechanic

As I said, big sweeping changes. Whether or not it will even feel like the same class at the end, who knows?

And although I say minor tweaks, they are talking about a 25% increase in damage across the board to all abilities. That in itself is a large change and should make a big difference to how the classes play.

It is also a sad reflection on how far behind their damage really is, and how it has been left so long when a simple tweak like this could have fixed it.  I remember saying (with all the other Archmages) for some while that we needed more damage.

Mastery Changes

The current three mastery lines are heals/dps/debuffs.

The plan is to change this, to redistribute the buffs and debuffs and to end up with three mastery lines that are closer to: heals/ dps/ lifetaps

I had always thought that a lifetap was both a heal and a nuke (it’s a type of nuke that gives the caster some of the damage done back as health), but now you’ll have to choose which types of spells to specialise in. I predict that groups will not be overly excited to have a lifetap AM when they could have had a good healer or nuker, even though it’s probably the most fun spec to play.

The proposed mastery paths are currently in first draft form. It’s mostly the same spells as now, just shuffled around. The main thing I noted is that Cleansing Flare (the AE nuke/ knockback) makes an appearance at 5 points into Asuryan (ie. EVERYONE will take it) and Scatter the Winds (the heal debuff) is in the Asuryan tree also.

So Asuryan looks by far the strongest tree at the moment, it got assigned the strongest debuffs.

Vaul loses its identity as a debuffing tree and becomes a sort of lifetap tree instead, but gets the Shield of Saphery as well, and Law of Gold (the AE toughness reducing debuff). Those lifetaps would have to get very good indeed to get anyone to spec this over one of the other trees.

Isha looks in reasonable shape. It picks up Mistress of the Marsh (not a great debuff because of being ground targetted but it is an AE snare) and all the usual healing spells. Plus Isha AMs would be able to pick up Cleansing Flare as well. That would be a fun build to play.

And .. the Mechanic Revamp

This is pretty much a complete 180. Instead of your heals reducing the casting time of nukes and vice versa, your heals will increase the power of your heals. So there’s to be a meter which swings between max heal buffs and max damage buffs. Every time you heal it moves towards the max heal. Every time you nuke it moves towards max damage. And every time you cast some kind of lifetap/ debuff it moves towards the centre.

It should make it easier for the AM to play as a dedicated healer or nuker. To encourage players to use the mechanic, base heals/ damage would be reduced when this came in. With the idea that if you were maxed out on heals/damage it would be better than it is now, and if you weren’t it would be similar or worse.

The intention is very much that players NOT be able to switch quickly from heals to damage, at least not without losing some effectiveness. So this is looking quite similar to the LOTRO Runekeeper but without the emergency switching ability.

And this is the part of the change which is least set in stone. A complete mechanic revamp is very similar to making a new class.

Will it blend?

Don’t know. People who are interested will have to try it out and see how it goes. It’s clear that nuking AMs will lose the ability to throw an emergency instant heal.

It is also clear that Mythic worry far too much about appeasing other classes.

Question: Are you considering how these changes affect other classes and that it may make them obsolete? And if so, will you be altering these other classes in the same cycle to compensate?

Answer: In short we are most definitely considering this. We have no intention to Obsolete any other career in favor of a newly revamped one. That being said please keep in mind if we go with the more dramatic mechanic changes the AM/SH will likely have their base healing reduced. Giving many of the existing healers a good solid head start in burst or instantaneous healing.

You’re trying to fix a class that is notably behind the others. Do not start by saying that they’ll never  be allowed to do anything better if you want to encourage people to keep playing them.

Everyone wants to feel that they have a niche. Saying ‘We’ll revamp your class but please don’t worry everyone else, it’s never gonna be allowed to get too good,’ is not really encouraging. And like, maybe we’ll give you a bit more survivability but it probably won’t be as good as the other healers and you’ll have to sacrifice heals/damage to get it …. again, not really setting the world on fire.

Survivability in a PvP game should be baked into healers. If one class  has to sacrifice heals for survivability then they should be able to become a freaking cockroach on the battlefields every minute or so!

Mythic apologises to Archmages

In a post to the Archmage forum at WHA, Adam Gershowitz apologises to Archmages (archmagi?)  for not having addressed their core issues in patch 1.2. He posted to Shamans also .

But changes are coming.

Uh, yeah. As an Archmage player who has no interest in picking up the character again until I feel it has at least a fighting chance of not always feeling like the poor healing cousin of the Order side, I appreciate the heads up.

Meanwhile let’s buff Warrior Priests again because they’re bound to need it.

U-Turns Galore in 1.0.4

So  the Heavy Metal patch (1.0.4) is going live without the healer and ironbreaker nerfs that we’d discussed a few days ago.

Mark Jacobs writes about how they’re thinking now about the career updates for future patches (I am now slightly unclear as to which changes will go in which patch but we’ll see when the patch notes go up) which gives some of the reasoning and accounts for feedback and reports from the test realms. A basic summary is:

1. Ironbreaker Grudge mechanics still being tweaked but there will be a much slower loss of grudge per second. This means that the Ironbreaker doesn’t have to stay constantly in combat to be able to use Grudge.

2. Healer HoT changes (nerfed) are being backed out completely but the buffs to the slow heals are staying in. So that’s a decent buff and not a nerf at all.

3. Sorcerer/ BW DoTs will not be benefitting from the general damage increases.

I’m all for testing and all for not being nerfed so hurrah for that. But I still wish I knew why they’d wanted to nerf healers in the first place — was it a basic balance issue that still needs to be addressed (maybe even moreso because of the planned buffs) or just a mistake?

Game developers in general are very bad at explaining why they make specific fixes, possibly because of the torrent of feedback that might ensure. But as a player, I would like very much to know how developers feel about the state of different classes because I’d like to know if my expectations match up with the designers. (If they don’t, it’s a good sign that you are playing the wrong class.)

Loot from Keep Takes

One of the joys of playing an MMO is that after each patch, you get to see how player behaviour changes and adapts. Players will always find ways to surprise developers, it’s what we do.

And apparently one of the outcomes of the new “more loot for all” regime of three gold bags per keep take is that on some realms, Order and Destruction are deliberately avoiding fighting each other so that they can instead carry on taking and retaking keeps to maximise their loot.

Frankly if you are on one of these realms, you have no one to blame but yourself. If your ‘team’ is doing this, what is stopping you from going and defending your keeps? It only takes a few people (with siege engines) to mount a competent defence. Stop being lame and go fight already! There’s good fun, renown, and xp to be had from Open World RvR and it sounds to me as though the extra loot has certainly done a lot to encourage that.

I’m going to take devil’s advocate though and also note that this is not a major critical issue:

1/ The worst thing that happens is that people get geared up more quickly. There’s no huge benefit to getting the gold loot bag more than once.

2/ It does get people out into Open RvR. The more people out there, the less likely that anyone can stop the feisty ones from provoking fights. It’s why they’re playing the game in the first place.

3/ It does however speak of player frustration at the way Mythic has structured their gear progression. People want the Annihilator gear because of the wards on it which will let them progress to other encounters. And it’s frustrating to get that at the moment, not only because of the paucity of gold bags but because of the inconsistencies of the contribution system.

And on that  note, I cannot disagree more with Regis@Wizards&Wenches who thinks that the wrong people are getting loot on keep takes. When they sort out contribution bonuses so that healing is properly recognised, THEN we can talk about rewarding higher contributions more. If I only heal at a keep take, I come almost bottom and it sucks (note: if I go into a keep take in full INT gear and dps as well as heal, I can do quite well, which isn’t helpful if people really need the healing). Everyone who has helped at all needs a chance to get the loot. If anyone thinks I am going to continue doing keep takes just to see the same people walk off with the loot all the time because they happen to be playing classes or specs that the system favours, they have another think coming.

None of this would matter if Mythic just got rid of their stupid ward system, frankly. They’ve already backed out one change they planned to make to this, and Keen writes about why that was a good thing to do here.

More Healers’ Rights!

Those of you who’ve followed the blog for quite sometime might remember an old post dating from September. Wow, that really is old! Anyway, in this post I griped a bit about the lack of tome unlocks for healers.

It’s taken a while for the meme to get out there, and let’s face it, my post had nothing to do with this at all, but there’s a similar thread over at the Vault at the moment. Now THAT’s how to get Mark Jacobs’ attention, not in some blog post on a little out-of-the-way blog!! If you check that thread, Mark’s replied saying he’ll look into it.

I know there are concerns that healing unlocks wouldn’t be open to everyone. But really, the ones for killing blows aren’t especially open to me, as things stand.

So keep up the momentum, and maybe we’ll get some achievements for healing/rezzing/whatever else it is we want them for.  I still want them, so off to post in that thread with my support!

What will patch 1.05 mean for you

Right then, here’s the 1.05 patch notes. The big thing to note with these is that they are up on the test server, which means that they’re going to get some testing and possibly some tweaking before they go live. So love them or hate them, the sky has not fallen. If they turn out not to have the effect Mythic wanted on the test servers then there will be changes, these are not set in stone. If you have access to a test realm (ie. not in the EU) and are feeling sparky, go test and give feedback.

Having said that, we can certainly read through the patch notes and get an idea of the sorts of changes they want to make and how they see some of the classes and abilities at the moment.

A few bloggers have already summed up changes for classes they play: Regis discusses 1.05 and Warrior Priests, Syp discusses engineers, A Wall of Text talks over the non-class specific changes.

But because you can never have enough summaries, here’s mine!

Healers

Every healer has had their main HoT spell adjusted to do the same amount of healing as it does now, but spread over 24 seconds. So each tick will be ticking for less. This is a sizable healing nerf because the reason people have been getting such high healing numbers in scenarios is by HoTting up their whole team.

Healers have also had their damage adjusted upwards, which should help for soloing and make levelling much less painful.

I’m in two minds about these changes. Casting HoTs blindly on everyone is pretty dull, I much prefer keeping an eye on what’s going on around me and responding to that. On the other hand, dps is outdistancing healing in Tier 4 by quite a lot at the moment. No one thinks healers have too much survivability. So a patch where several classes get more damage and all healers get less healing could tip the balance even further away from support.

I’m hoping that Mythic plan to move towards more fun healing and away from the constant HoTs so we’ll see how these pan out on the test server. I’m very happy about the increased damage though. That was needed. There are also some bug fixes for various classes but that’s the main gist of the healing changes.

Damage Dealing

DoTs are being made more consistent which looks as though it means that most of them get a damage buff. The damage buff in most cases is to do with the spell getting more of an effect gear stats (ie. Int). But there are some spells that simply got a damage increase independent of gear.

All the abilities which reduced heals by more than 50% (affects Marauders and Witch Elves) now are being nerfed to 50% heal reductions.

Wizards and Sorceresses

The main nerfs here are:

  • the fact that root now has a chance to break on damage, so no rooting people and then nuking them down.
  • immunity on root which will leave these classes lower in survivability
  • combustion is slower to build
  • root now available at rank 12, not rank 10. (ie. not in Tier 1)
  • HoTs ticking for less makes it harder for healers to keep these guys up when they’re nuking at full combustion

Other than that, they got a solid damage buff with the DoT improvements. Not quite what people were expecting.

Squig Herders, Engineers, White Lions, Maguses (Magi?)

Lots of ‘this ability now does more damage’ buffs. So more damage across the boards. It looks as though pets are being buffed up as well, at least in their damage capability.

Bow classes now get to autoattack on the run while in their skirmish mode.

Tanks

Poor Ironbreakers, their ability to build up Grudge is being nerfed quite severely. Were they doing too much damage in Tier 4? I don’t know but it seems Mythic thinks so. On the bright side (is there one?) they can now use hammers.

All tanks get their root breaking ability at rank 12.

Guard now only works on players within the tank’s group.

Non Class Specific

  • Ability to set rally points in any warcamp
  • root effects can’t be stacked, and after you get rooted you have a 5s immunity to being rerooted
  • less likely to get the same scenario twice in a row
  • movement reductions etc will no longer stack
  • guaranteed to get 1 gold loot bag on every keep take PQ
  • everyone needs ward gear to fight encounter bosses, not just tanks

Overall

I see a lot more damage buffs across the board, and an across the board healing nerf to go with it. I hope they test this good and proper because it’s quite harsh as a healer in Tier 4 as it is and this isn’t going to help.

I feel bad for the Ironbreakers too.