The Parody Returns

Orlock over at Warhammer Geek has got his writing pen out and created another fun-filled Warhammer parody song, along with Jethal Silverwing’s dulcet tones. This time it’s the High Elves and Crazy Elf Swordsmaster. Head on over and check it out, and if you haven’t heard the rest of the parody songs, make sure you listen to those too!

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Bringing in new classes

The three games we play have something big in common at the moment, they’re all introducing new classes to the game – so we thought we’d do a very brief look at how the introductions differ:

Knights of the Blazing Sun and Black Guards in WAR

Two of the ‘missing’ classes being introduced to the game sometime before the end of the year (pending date changes, of course). As everyone reading this will know, they’re both tank classes – the Knight is mirror to the Chosen and will use auras and twisting, the Black Guard mirrors the Ironbreaker but uses hate instead of grudges as a mechanic. They’re iconic classes and have been much missed, so there’s bound to be plenty of them.

Now, WAR might be the first MMO to introduce new classes so early on in the cycle, mainly because they were obviously close to being ready when cut out from release. This means that there won’t be any new starting areas, gear was already designed, and it’s still in the stages where people are testing out alts anyway. WAR has also chosen to herald the entrance of the new classes with a fairly interesting live event, which is going on in all zones at the moment. Hopefully it’s going well – some will do it for the fun, some for the chance to get a week headstart with the new classes – again, something that I believe is pretty new in the genre, but will probably be copied!

Rune Keepers and Wardens in LotRO

Came in with the Mines of Moria expansion. They can be various races (covering all of the races in-game, but each new class skips one race), but the starting areas remain the same. Turbine have added gear for the classes to each stage of the game, including raidsets etc.

Interestingly, both new classes are supposedly decent soloers, and together they form the tank-healer combo, with some good dps between them. A good design decision for the overwhelming number of the new classes that started in the game this week.

Death Knights in WoW

Came in as part of the new expansion, although none of the pre-expansion events specifically featured Death Knights. They’re well known as part of the lore, have featured previously as raid bosses in pre-Burning Crusade WoW and anyone who played Warcraft III will be familiar with them. This class also starts at level 55 so skips the bulk of the levelling process.

They have a full Death Knight specific questline when you create a new character of that type, in a semi-instanced setting that reminds me a lot of the LOTRO introductory quests. The questline is solid and fun, and features lots of WoW-trademark style quests with the customary pizzazz and sparkle. There’s an associated storyline to do with redemption from evil and choosing to fight against their previous overlord. It’s well written and  culminates in a fairly epic battle scene. They also get a full set of good quality gear and a fast mount thrown in for free, which you are awarded as part of the intro questline.

The gear they release you into the outside world with on a Death Knight also looks absolutely fantastic. (Well, until you start replacing it and look like a clown again, but it will last for awhile.)

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.)

[WoW] World of Resource Management

thorium, is there anything it cant do?

thorium, is there anything it can't do?

Perhaps it is due to coming back from a break but I wonder how I’d never seen WoW as the resource management game that it undoubtedly is before. There’s always an element of resource management in MMOs, but WoW takes this to extremes.

Any time they introduce new content, you could summarise it as “collect token X (which you get by doing activity Y) and use it to purchase item/ reputation Z”. I can’t imagine how confusing this must be for new players when half the resources you collect have been made totally redundant. This gives an impression of the game being more complex than it really is. Yes there’s lots of stuff to do and collect while you level, but much of it is completely pointless now (dark iron ore anyone?). The sheer variety of stuff for people to collect in order to get a character well sorted for endgame does add an extra level to planning alts, though. I think it’s fairly standard for people to play their first character the regular way and just do stuff as it comes, but then try to optimise alt levelling so as to minimise the work needed. I characterise ‘the regular way’ as meaning to organically move through the quests and zones as the game naturally indicates. That means that to optimise you have to do some content out of order; for example, ignoring quests when you would normally pick them up and running higher level instances instead.

Optimising resource management adds a lot of replayability to the game. Jury’s out (with me at least) as to how fun it actually is, but it undoubtedly adds an extra layer of challenge to levelling alts. ie. Can I do this better? I do very much prefer the EVE model with its wider range of choices, many of them based on responding to how other players act in the economy, rather than the WoW on-rails experience of dictating exactly what you need to gather and what you can turn it in for.

It is still quite surprising to me that they’ve turned something that isn’t especially fun into a cornerstone for all of their content. It also contributes to the “same old same old” feel that a lot of people get about the new expansion. Meet the new resource management mini-game, same as the old one, but we’ve renamed the tokens and the reputation grind! It’s not only ridiculous, but also exceptionally lazy. Instead of collecting Primal Water, you can instead collect …. (wait for it) …. Eternal Water! Be still my beating heart! Collecting Primal Water was the absolutely high point for me of TBC and I know we’re all counting the minutes until we can do it again…? No?

Anyway, I resubbed, specced my warrior up the Protection Tree and went off to check the Argent Dawn quests for the Necropolises. I can’t get excited about content I already saw a couple of years back but I trotted off to the Burning Steppes to kill some undead like a good ‘un. It’s a zone I know well because I spent a lot of time mining Thorium there in the past.

Thorium paid for my epic ground mount back in the day so I will always have a soft spot for it. Also it’s bright green and glows (and smokes too, for some strange reason) so you can’t really miss it, plus everyone always wants Thorium because you need it to level half the tradeskills and no one bothers farming it. There are many many more optimal ways to farm cash than running around waiting for ore to respawn but since I was there anyway I grabbed a stack. For old times’ sakes.

I’ll tweak the spec a bit, there’s a couple of talents I can ditch in favour of more damage, but Protection Warriors are pretty hot right now. I was also enjoying the novelty of soloing in my tanking gear. I think Blizzard have really nailed the spec. It feels solid and powerful but not overpowered.

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.

October Newsletter hits

Brief highlights again, as I just got home from work and want to play 🙂

  • Heavy Metal event advertised, Nov 18th-Dec 2nd in Europe (so place your bets for launch of 1.1 here), scenario called Reikland Factory – open to all levels, all tiers and doesn’t contribute to campaign. 10% bonus to renown for playing it. Basic influence gives a trophy, advanced gives a cloak, elite gives access to the two new classes a full week early.
  • Overviews of Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Witching Night announced – now till Nov 4th (has a couple of mask photos)
  • Advert for Red Alert 3 and Kossar’s Helm
  • Mark Jacobs’ State of the Game (for those who don’t know it already)
  • Concept Art – Order Epic Armour, Greenskin NPCs
  • Paul and Adam Gershowitz podcasts on Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Paul’s videophone blog
  • Grab Bag (as previously reported)
  • “WAR Europe is the place to go for the most up-to-date news regarding your favorite (sic) game and ours – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning!” (I had to quote this, as I’m still laughing)
  • Developer Profile: James Casey (Content Design Lead)
  • Blackguard and KotBS wallpapers
  • Community Spotlight – Warhammer Movies
  • Ads for Empire in Chaos (Warhammer Online novel) and joint DAoC/WAR subs for Europe

Big November Event! Daily quests, new scenario, preview of new classes!

Arrgh, as usual, just after we wrote some other post Mythic make a big announcement! *shakes fist at timezones*

So, we have an announcement about the November Live Event, dubbed “Heavy Metal”.

When the Heavy Metal live event begins on November 17th, players who log into WAR will see a new tab in the Tome of Knowledge. Clicking on this tab will open the Live Events page, where each day we’ll place a new daily task. Completing these daily tasks earns influence, just like you’d earn in a public quest. There are rewards for Basic, Advanced and Elite influence, culminating in the ultimate prize: the chance to play WAR’s new classes a full week before they’re released to the public! This last reward won’t be easy to earn, and players who want to get to the Elite level will need to log in each day and complete on the daily event.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a special live event scenario that will be available to all tiers for the duration. And it grants extra renown to players.

I’m hyped, Mythic sound as though they’d taken out all the stops here! I love daily quests and scenarios. And now it’s going to be harder than ever to decide which game to play in November. Game is very much ON.

Edit: Nov 18th for European players