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.

Advertisements

Stop! Hammer Time!

Wotcha everyone,

Many of you may have noticed, if I haven’t made it completely obvious anyway, that when it comes to games I’m more than a little obsessed by the way things look.  I am fully cognizant of the fact that, just as in real life, in online games looks are most certainly not everything.

But having said that, underneath the looks in an online game, you get a lot of meaningless technomagical mumbo-jumbo that somehow makes things…  work.

So when Hawley swings his hammer, all that mumbo-jumbo does stuff.  Arcane, obscure, technomagical stuff.  That is then translated into numbers on my screen, so I can understand what just happened.

Now, when it comes to those looks, I do like a bit of variety.  Frankly, I don’t give a tinker’s cuss whether or not I look like anyone else.  I have no need to look like a unique special snowflake.  But I do like a change every so often.

If I’m wearing an outfit for too long, I get a bit antsy for the next piece of kit.  Not for the stat upgrades, but for the opportunity to change the way the character looks.  To look at something new, and hopefully cool looking.  And yes, in the past I have chosen not to upgrade to something that looks nasty and most decidedly uncool.

But.  And it’s an important but…  I’m still using hammers.  I swap from the two-hander to book and hammer when I need the extra healing stats (more from a sense of propriety than anything else – I don’t usually care over-much for carrying multiple item sets) but at the end of the day, they’re both hammers.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the looks of the hammer.  Sledge hammers look cool, in a 70’s British Crime film way, but in the real world, if you start hefting one people start looking at you as if you’re some sort of weird stalker with a  diy issue.  Same for any sort of hammer really.  Grinning at any viewers, to help allay any fears they might have, never helps.  And the other styles of hammer out there just look worse.

Most of the time, in online games, I lust after axes (I lust after other things in the real world.  Sometimes this includes Monica Bellucci in a vat of tea, but that mainly happens when it’s been at least 10 minutes since my last brew) .  Sort of brutal looking, with a bit of wood-choppy utility.  Couple that with an innate ability to choose every class that isn’t allowed to wield axes, and I spend the whole time playing with the self-imposed quest “Find Usable Axe” running in the background.

Warhammer Online is different, though.  I get the ability to use “Hammers”, and “Great Hammers”.  That’s it.  Even the ability to use “Harsh Language” is a hard skill, not a software skill.  Have I missed the usual arbitrarily (it sometimes seems) set of weapon skills for my chosen class?

No.  And I’m wondering why.

I am the sort of person that has a favoured weapon type for a character.  I like my dps murderers to carry knives, my clanky-tanks to carry swords or axes, and my healers to carry something fun and funky, to make up for the fact that swinging it in anger usually means it’s all gone a bit frantic.  In a “special” sort of way.

Having said that, I also like variety.  Sometimes it’s nice for a dps murderer to carry something longer than a shiv.  Sometimes I let the tank put down his sword and shield, and put a honking great double-handed axe in his hands.  Variety is, apparently, the spice of life (despite the fact that Lemon Pepper seems to go with everything).

Yet here I am, and I’ve forgotten all about that.  Weapon choice is practically down to a binary option; wield your allotted weapon, or don’t.  And when I first started a Hawley, all that time ago in beta, I did notice the fact that weapon choices were one handed hammer, or two-handed hammer.

And, as mentioned previously, promptly forgot.  To the extent that I only remembered recently, when I was looking at one of the empire NPCs and started having covetous thoughts about his pretty shield.  Almost to the extent of luring him down an alley for a quick coshing (No, that’s not a weird, or even not-weird, sex-thing.  It’s the sharp, nasty contact between a leather-wrapped bag of sand and lead pellets, and the back of an unsuspecting head).  So there I was, wishing that I could carry a shield for a bit, because even though books are cool, they don’t quite have the level of protection that a shield does.

Unless it’s “War and Peace”.  As the old saying goes; “No-one gets through War and Peace” (thankyou, HOL).

The fact remains that I’m not missing the variety in class weapons.  For once, I’m enjoying the game enough to just not care.  I might be coming down with something…

Cheers,
Hawley.

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

Destruction Eye for the Order Guy

Wotcha everyone,

I have always been somewhat bemused by the vaguaries of fashion.  It’s something that happens to other people, and to be perfectly honest, if I walk down the street and people don’t point and laugh at what I’m wearing, I take that as a “win”.

So I’m constantly surprised at how much I care about how my online characters look.  Lord of the Rings Online may have had (to my taste) some really duff clothing, but the cosmetic system was really, really well implemented.  And I loved being able to go and get a shave and a haircut whenever I fancied.  Similar to the amazing level of detail in Star Wars Galaxies, with cosmetic surgery added to the mix.

And yes, I do have a habit of continuing to wear something “out-grown” when the replacement looks rubbish.  Even in World of Warcraft, where it’s *all* about the stats.

Now, I don’t really have a “look” that I prefer in my gaming.  I tend to go with whatever I think makes the character look cool.  Or, in Warhammer Online’s case, “Cool” and “Yellow”.

Which looks like this:

Does my Fury look big in this?

Does my Fury look big in this?

One thing I’ve been constantly impressed by is the look of Warhammer Online.  I like the way that it references the models of the Games Workshop range, whilst making sure that each and every class has a distinctive, easily recognisable silhouette on the battlefield.  Even Dark Elf spotting is easy (for this hobby, you will need a pad, a pencil, and a flask of weak lemon drink).

This fashion parade also serves a valuable function in that it shows the ideological differences between Order and Destruction.  You dress for your class, not just for your role.  So Ironbreakers, Black Orcs and Chosen won’t be seen at a jumble sale arguing over who put their hands on a suit of platemail first.  But more than that, the Ironbreaker wears a suit of armour that is clean, well-formed, and designed to protect his chubby frame.  The Black Orc wears a set of armour that looks cobbled together from bits of his victims, and the Chosen clanks about in a baroque, disturbing suit of metal.  Looking like he doesn’t even take it off in the shower.

It’s echoed throughout the classes.  Order might not be all sweetness and light (between a bunch of humans who are willing to murder their own to stop the encroaches of their enemies, a group of elves who have trained for war for generations, and a gang of dwarves who positively enjoy gaining fanatical hatreds, is there *any* sweetness and light?) but Destruction look far worse.  No-one can complain that “they’re just like us, really”.  There are no hippy-peaceniks around here, demanding that we all just get along, because we all have a right to live.  No-one is “misunderstood”, and no-one looks “misunderstood”.

Oh, remember that clown suit I mentioned earlier?  Well, nothing was worse than Warcraft’s ultimate example of fashion chic, the red hat, purple armour, and lime green trousers ensemble.  Whilst the tiered armour sets could and did look fantastic, most people spent their time levelling (and possibly for some time later, dependant on how much raiding they did) wearing such outfits (I always worried that they would end up burning out my monitor, as I saw them jog past).  I was even forced to wear similar crimes against colour myself, at times.

Imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that each class got its own wardrobe.  Whilst the “special snowflake” players might rebel at having to dress like everyone else in their class, I’ve got no problem.  I’m in the Warrior Priest gang, can’t you tell?  I have my individuality packaged in little pots of dye, available at all good merchants.  And the benefit is that, through the experience and good taste of generations of Warrior Priests, we have outfits that don’t make us look like idiots.

Unless we choose to.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Physician and Patient

Wotcha everyone,

I am the Healer.  Whilst Tanks might think they rule the battleground, and DPS might think they are gods, without me they are corpses.

That is my little bit of god complex out of the way.  I find that the arrogance that such a belief engenders helps focus me, and enables me to do a better job.  So it does vaguely annoy me when I hear that no Warrior Priests are healing.

Much has been said about Archmages, and the way that their grand gestures and sparkly effects light them up like Christmas trees bestrewn with little Renown filled presents for any Destruction characters in the area, but from my perspective, I don’t see much difference between twirling a staff and glowing and shoving your hammer in the air and glowing.

The only real difference is that when I do my poncey healing showing off, I’m stuck in the midst of the grand melee, with everyone *already* trying to smack me.

(I can’t really comment about Rune Priests; I believe they’re little healer show-offs too, but generally when they’re healing I’ve got my dander up, and am too busy annoying my neighbours by shouting “Sigmar!  Sigmar!” at the screen to notice them.  Sorry.)

So, this whole “keeping everyone alive” malarkey.  Well, I like to think I’m fabulous.  And the way I get to show how fabulous I am is by healing well enough that no-one dies.  In other games, this is easy (he says, nonchalantly.  I kill balrogs for fun, me).  Because most other games are designed as PvE games with PvP added to the mix, your pure and hybrid healers get big heals, flash heals, and heals over time.  Usually more than one of each.

Boy do I miss them…

Although I will admit, I do like the way that Warhammer Online is a PvP game with PvE added.  I can see why some of the design choices have been made; Nothing is more soul destroying than chipping away at someone, getting them most of the way to Mostly Dead, and suddenly they’ve been healed up to full.

Morale does let you have big heals, but they’re not that big, and they’re not that clever.  They most certainly can’t be spammed.

Instead, I get the ability to do damage, and heal at the same time.  Sort of novel, really.  But it does mean that whilst I get to show off with my hammer in the air (“Look Ma, I’m healing!”) most of the time when I’m healing, it’s not that noticeable in the midst of all the fighting.

It’s melee.  Weapons are flying all over the place, and every so often some ranged DPS decides to help out by lobbing some lovely particle-spamming aoe goodness in there.  Everyone’s adrenaline is up, and to be perfectly honest, I’d prefer it if the tanks and dps around me are doing their job of crushing my enemies, rather than watching their health bars.  Or looking for a little sparkly bit of healing goodness coalescing around their character.

So, all being well, you’re not going to die (or at the least, die slower), whilst I’m smacking Destruction in the face for Sigmar.  How will I do that?

I don’t see much point in giving out crunch here.  If you want crunch, there is a scary amount of scary statisticians feeding crunch to various sites on the interwebnet, without me failing to make any useful contribution to them.  So I’ll not bother with the numbers, but I’ll see if I can get some of the skill names right, at least.  Hopefully.

During closed beta, I preferred using a Path of Grace build.  I’d looked at Salvation a lot, but found that Grace allowed me to get in and mix it a lot more than Salvation.  I’d choose my tank, stand next to him, and by using Divine Strike and Sigmar’s Radiance (with the tactic Grace of Sigmar slotted) it meant that I could do quite a bit of group healing to the melee contingent around me without having to retarget.  If you’re within 10 feet of me, you get healed for a small amount every time I swing that hammer.  Add Sigmar’s Shield (for the next few seconds, you’ll get healed every time you’re hit), and you get a lovely damage mitigator that will eat my Righteous Fury, but there’s nothing to worry about, as I’ll be getting it all back again soon enough.

Prayer of Devotion also rewards a group for getting stuck in there (20% of the time, you’ll get a heal just for smacking something.  See?  Sigmar loves you too), and Divine Assault is also a good heal, and the nearest I can find to (and I laugh) burst damage that a Warrior Priest can do, even if Path of Grace doesn’t enhance it.

All of these heals can add up, in time.  At the very least, they’re great damage mitigation, allowing my Rune Priest and Archmage comrades the opportunity to get some healing in and save all our souls from a distance.

But in order for me to do that, I need to be in combat, swinging the hammer.  Same goes for other Warrior Priests as well.  So whilst it might not *look* like we’re healing you, we most probably are.

Cheers,
Hawley.

What does it take to be a front line healer?

Wotcha everyone,

Warrior Priests.  God I love’em!

What feels like forever ago, I decided that Warrior Priests were for me.  They ticked all the boxes; they healed, they smacked things, they wore armour, and they looked like angry eggs in a human power-suit.  Many of you know how much I like Warrior Priests already, but hey, I need an introduction.

Now that we’re here, and the game is live?  Nothing has changed.

Every time I’m in combat, and I hear the words “Bugger!” and “Nadgers!”, not only does Sigmar smile, but I smile too.

I’ve said “Bugger!” in PvE, in open RvR, and in scenarios.  I have also been smiling my way through them.  Why?  Well, I’m really enjoying my Warrior Priest.  He’s a feisty little fellow, with a good range of skills (even at level 11, which is rare in an online game), that allows me to fight using differing styles, so each fight is as different as I want it to be.  It also means I can perform multiple roles, dependant on situation.

Not only that, but for the first time in PvP gaming, when I see one of my enemies charging towards me, I’m not immediately looking to run like a startled bunny towards my nearest ally.  I’m confident that I’ve been given the tools to really make a go of a one-on-one fight, and not only that, but I won’t be punished unduly for making the odd mistake.  I have emerged victorious from these fights due to good play, and knowing my class.  Through use of strategy and tactics, rather than by spamming my “I win” button as fast as possible, as much as possible.

This, more than anything else, makes me happy.  The developers haven’t made the Warrior Priest overpowered; they’ve made it viable.  To the same level as the other classes.  Hell, I have been charging stragglers, uncaring if I’m being followed by allies, I’m that confident.  Sometimes I do the happy Hawley dance, and sometimes I’m danced on.  Either way, I know it’s going to be a fun fight.

Group RvR is also a lot of fun.  Healing with a Warrior Priest is different to playing a healer in most other online games that I’ve played previously, and at the moment I’m thinking he’s a great “top-up” healer.  I don’t have big heals, I have a few Heal Over Time spells that will keep people out of harm’s way, as opposed to saving them when they’re at death’s door.  They can also be pretty short ranged, so the moral of the story is; Get in the front line, with your Warrior Priest!

Which brings me to the melee part.  Mmm.  I’m not a melee powerhouse.  Witch Hunters have nothing to fear in terms of damage output, and Iron Breakers and Swoooshmasters have nothing to fear from the amount of pain I can take.  But smacking people in the face with a hammer is wonderfully cathartic, and it’s most certainly not a case of melee only being useful for regaining Righteous Fury in a rush.  During beta I tended to concentrate on learning how to heal with a Warrior Priest, but with launch I am learning how to smack things at the same time as healing, and it’s fun.  Challenging for me, as I am at heart a slacker, but still fun.

So for me, the Warrior Priest has sailed out of Launch day having lost none of it’s fun factor.  Nice one, Devs.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Postcard from Praag. Wish you were here?

Wotcha everyone,

Burning Tower?  Check.  Open Space?  Check.  People fighting?  Check!

Burning Tower? Check. Open Space? Check. People fighting? Check!

For those who have not seen it previously, welcome to Martyr Square, in Praag.  It’s hard to get in one screenshot, but it’s about the largest single space in Praag, and is almost slap bang in the middle of the zone slap bang in the middle of Tier 4.  For all you lore/role-playing fans. not only is it a city in Kislev, but at times it felt like battling in a medieval Leningrad.  Cool.

I took this picture when it was “quiet”.  I could have taken it when there was about 300 people fighting hard, with bodies flying everywhere, but there will no doubt be plenty of those on the interwebnet soon enough.

No, I wanted to check out what it was like on a Sunday morning.  This Sunday happened to be just before the end of Closed Beta, and Order must have been busy little beavers overnight, because every Tier 4 zone clear to the Inevitable City had been locked for Order.

Now that was rare enough as it was.

But what surprised me was to discover that my sneaking suspicion was right; there were people fighting at Martyr’s Square.

Now, I’m not going to start shouting “Njubs!” in my best “leet speek” (that’s about all the “leet speek” I know.  “Njubs”, “leet” and “speek”.  Someone should shout “Get with the times, grand-dad!” at me.  In “leet speek”, of course) at them.  They’re PvPing, they’re having fun, and they’re ideally placed when the front makes it’s way back to Praag.  It has become *the* place to go if you can’t find RvR anywhere else.

Personally, I’d want to follow the front, be it attacking or defending where appropriate.  But I do think it’s entertaining that whilst the marketing men might be wrong that “War is everywhere!”, it’s comforting to know that it will always be at Martyr Square.

Cheers,
Hawley.