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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Me and My Disc…

Ailil the Magus has been born on Karak-Azgal. Spinks made a char too. We’re going to tootle and learn all the secrets of the enemy and then um.. chat about them.

And then I might really sit down and try and work out how I feel about the 1.2 and 1.2.1 changes and what they mean for the game. Apologies for the all-but-absence, but head is clearing and game is firmly in my sights again!

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.)

Some Test Server changes coming sooner rather than later

As we all know, patch 1.05 is still on the Public Test Server, and if you go to any WAR forums, you’ll be sure to read lots of comments about how its affected various classes and archetypes. We’re all mostly interested in our own classes, but still – there were a bunch of interesting changes we have been wishing would be added sooner, rather than languishing on the test server to iron out the wrinkles. Lo and behold, patch 1.04b has been born and is due to go to the US servers today (also the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, by the way).

It really does have everything in that we’ve been talking about wanting before we get the rest of 1.05, so good call Mythic! (I imagine Europeans will get it on 12th, if usual patterns apply). Anyway, here’s the highlights:

When conquered, Keeps will always provide three gold loot bags and Fortresses will now offer six guaranteed gold loot bags as part of the chest loot.

Rally Masters have been added to all warcamps. Now, players can set their rally point in a warcamp in the same manner as binding in a chapter hub.

To promote population balance among the various scenarios, we have added a feature that reduces the number of times a specific scenario can launch in a short period of time. This will give scenarios which are launched less frequently an opportunity to catch up in the queue population and launch more often.

It also contains the changes to Chaotic Rift/Electromagnet which we look forward to seeing in the variety of scenarios we hope to be able to play now, not just Serpent’s Passage/Tor Anroc/Mourkain Temple/Nordenwatch, depending on your tier.

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.

Predictions for the Nerfbat

Class balance is not impossibly bad in Warhammer, I’ve seen much worse in other games. I’ve seen both sides totally demolish the other in scenarios, so organisation and a good mix of classes trumps any individual ‘overpowered’ class. Melee dps is also generally tougher to play in PvP, although we get smushed by melee heavy Destruction teams in scenarios quite often.

As far as the balance goes, it seems to me as though Order was always intended to have stronger ranged classes and  defensive-based hybrids and Destruction intended to have stronger melee and more offensive based hybrids. I think these are deliberate characteristics and we do see them in play, with some exceptions. Bear in mind we’re all playing Order so there’s some Order bias here. All this really means is that I haven’t been on the receiving end of our classes to judge them.

I’m also (mostly) picking on mechanics rather than classes here. These are places where the mechanic seems more powerful than intended.

Mythic have said in their State of the Game that they are planning to do a balancing pass over classes with an emphasis on buffing rather than nerfing. Here I think the nerf bat is inevitable. Hopefully classes will be buffed and balanced after this to make sure they are where they need to be.

Dual Wield Procs

Destruction melee is totally over the top at the moment. In Tier 4 you can really see it. So my tips for nerfing are Marauders, Witch Elves, and Disciples. What do they have in common? They are all fast hitting dual wielders. And the overpowered aspect? The abilities they have which have a chance to happen on every melee hit. Order has no duel wielders (the Witch Hunter has a gun but that isn’t fast hitting) to match this. And their procs (damage, huge heal debuffs, whatever else they get) simply go off way too often. An internal cooldown of some sort would tone this down. Witch Elves in particular seem to scale off the roof. I realise they are fragile etc and I expect to die to them a lot on my Archmage but they do a huge amount of burst damage to better armoured characters also. I think the mechanics need to be checked over to bring them into line.

Marauders in particular seem to also get a lot of AE crowd control for a class that also does so much AE damage. I have no problem with the amount of damage, but the knockdowns could use a toning pass.

I’m not thrilled about the tentacle pull/fetch ability but a single player CC isn’t as crippling. However, when the marauder can follow the pull up with a stun (knockdown) or disable … not fun.

Mass Pull

Magus/ Engineer mass pull. This has to go. It’s not remotely fun to be on the end of a mass pull/AE crowd control/AE nuke instant-kill. It also does bad things to my lag. It’s not so much the ability itself (although it does cause lag) as when it’s followed by a large amount of root/knockdown/disable and then AE death. NOT FUN.

Being able to pull things through keep doors is simply a bug that needs to be sorted out. [arbitrary – being able to do damage through keep doors on both sides needs to go too]

Now, about them Bright Wizards

On Order side, Bright Wizards do way more damage with DoT spec than anything else on the battlefield. Even it up so that all their specs do similar damage and let them pick which form of dps they prefer. And that means toning down the spec or specific talents in it that is currently overpowered.

My feeling in Tier 4 is that Sorceress/ Bright Wizard damage is roughly on par, so need to watch this carefully while balancing. Sorceresses are in no way underpowered in Tier 4.

Balancing for Tiers

I can live with some classes being overpowered in lower tiers as long as they are all brought into line in Tier 4, but there’s a limit to how overpowered any given class should be. Maybe the answer to this is to give out more resists at lower tiers or scale the damage up more slowly. But we really do notice when different classes get similar abilities at different ranks (eg. knockbacks for order or heal debuffs for destruction melee) because it changes how the whole tier plays.

I think a pass through the different abilities to try to make similar ones available at similar levels would make the levelling game more fun.

Soloing in Scenarios

I think that this is a topic most of the bloggers have tried to avoid, because a lot of people consider it to be an exploit. It isn’t an exploit, but it is something that Mythic needs to address.

The issue is that, particularly as a healer or ranged dps, you can get a lot more renown or xp from a scenario if you leave your group and put yourself into an empty one. By a lot more, I mean two or three times the renown for a healer. This assumes that you are healing for roughly the same amount that you would have been in a group, the only thing that changes is that you switch yourself to an empty group.

Feelings run high about this kind of behaviour. A lot of healers don’t heal anyone running solo, since they chose not to help anyone else get more renown/xp. People who do it say that they’re healing anyway and helping the group, just they don’t have to share their scores with ‘leechers’. And things go downhill from there. There is a lot of resentment against the people who consistently solo and  boast about their boosted scores. Whether or not people will remember any of the names in a couple of months time is anyone’s guess though.

The basic place I start from is that you should NEVER penalise a character for playing in a group, ever. That’s crazy. But right now, those of us who stay with our groups to support them better (via spells like shield and group heal which are group only) are made to feel like idiots. It’s also harsh on classes like tanks who don’t really have the option.

They just need to put a cap on the amount of xp/renown you can earn solo. Put it equal to the highest score anyone else gets on the team, or something based on a similar metric. Let people play solo if they prefer, some have reported less lag, but don’t make us feel like idiots for playing more sociably to support our groups.

As it stands, it is out of hand. You can’t blame people for playing the game the way it is coded.  I am really quite surprised that it hasn’t been sorted out yet.