Little Girl Lost…

So you came back to Warhammer to look at patches 1.2 and 1.2.1, but your guild just isn’t the same as it once was. You wish for the days of a chatty, casual guild with under 50 members… you’re in luck, the new guild search interface has hit with patch 1.2.1 and both me and Spinks had a good old play with it last night while hitting open RvR in Tier 1 on Karak Azgal. It’s great, within 5 minutes I wanted all games I play to have one. And you can read up Spinks’ play-by-play guide to it over at her solo blog: Spinksville.

Call to Arms, pt. 2

Today marks the launch of patch 1.2.1 on the American servers, which means it’ll be heading our way soon. I’ve not written all that much about it, because I’ve found it all a little overwhelming, but I know it heralds some big and important changes.

Keep upgrading should prove an interesting addition that’ll add some flavour to open RvR at higher levels and also provide some incentive for holding a keep for longer. I hope it works as planned, it sounds like some much-needed extra dimensions will be in-game shortly.

The Beyond the Sands live event launches with 1.2.1. I want to kill undead things, so I look forward to it. Goggles, however, will ruin my hair!

There’s a lot of general improvements, to the UI, to combat responsiveness and to the luck factor (somewhat), by the introduction of a token system of medallions for RvR. I really look forward to seeing how many medallions I can earn in an evening of RvR (and yes, I will take my r40 Rune Priest out for this test) and what I can buy for them. And of course, there’s the new Gates of Ekrund ‘arena’  (6v6 ranks 19-24), it sounds cool, but also scares me a bit, because I’m notoriously nervous about my abilities – but I know people really can’t wait for this, and I’m extremely interested in how it goes, I imagine it’ll be a surefire hit and people will always want an alt in these levels to do this (or to halt the xp gain if they could).

And I know all the class tweaks and changes will take some getting used to. But it marks yet another stage of Mythic taking on criticism and comment and working the game to make improvements all the time. And because of that, there’s only really one thing to say…

…bring it on!

(patch notes here)

[Edit: it’s friday for Europe (or today!), hurrah!]

Return of the WAR

As I think the majority of readers here knows, I took a bit of a break from WAR and have recently returned to playing more regularly with my little Warrior Priest (who dies a LOT thanks to a sea of Choppas, and contrary to popular belief!). Was talking with Spinks this morning about just how many positive things WAR had going for it, and rather than writing about it on Nerf the Cat, I thought I’d list some of  them here.

Not waiting around for looting (bags, choices, etc)

We were discussing how one of the problems I have with raiding in other games is the stopping and starting for loot, whatever choice of loot distribution the raid uses, and that’s when we realised that WAR really doesn’t have this problem because of the loot bags in PQs, dungeons, oRvR, etc and the way the need/greed system works. It’s so much better to have loot selections on offer, and to also have stuff that’s directly relevant to your class. I don’t think I realised how much I like the system, because previously I’ve focused on just how crappy my rolls have been, or how unfair 1 gold bag per keep used to be, and stuff like that. In the end it allows for some seamless play where looting doesn’t get in the way of the experience. It’s certainly not perfect, but it fits in well with the frenetic pace of  Warhammer Online.

Variety

Ok, a lot of this is due to the Slayers/Choppas and server merges, but for whatever reason, the server feels pretty damn busy at the moment across all tiers. I hear of fortress and city stuff going on via guild chat (merged guild, so new faces to learn and get used to also), while someone also mentioned Tier 3 is very busy and I know for myself that Tier 1 and 2 are. The general number of people and the spread have highlighted the variety of things to do in WAR, and I’m omitting crafting because I don’t feel any urge to do it at all!

But with public quests, scenarios, normal questing, capital city quests – there’s a lot to do to get from A to B, levelwise. Spinks and I spent a good portion of today doing PQs while waiting for scenarios to pop in Tier 2, and once the afternoon kicked in, we barely had time to hand in the scenario quests before another one popped. It was this variety that appealed from the start, and it’s great to see it there and being shown off so nicely. I hope this continues, though I fear it’s inevitable that the action eventually move firmly to Tiers 3 & 4.

Scenarios

In and of themselves, scenarios are great fun. Though, it interesting that people seem to like whichever the latest one is. I know I really enjoyed Reikland Factory and the Twisting Tower, but maybe just because they were new and fresh and after a while the others can get a bit frustratingly samey. But, having said that, something that takes you out of the normal run of the game and transports you into a fun 15-minute mini-game is to be applauded. It’s a bit like the solo instances in LotRO, something I can do that adds to my experience but doesn’t take too long. Of course, scenarios are desperately dependent on other people signing up… so they have a bit of a downside. But overall, still loving them and the concept of them!

Casual Hardcore

One thing that I’m enjoying about my return to WAR in contrast to other games, is that everything is pretty fancy-free and unstressful. If I want to try and get a group together to do something, I can give it a go. If not, I can toddle around doing random quests via red blobs, and just exploring the world and the game. Dying means very little to me, it’s too quick and easy to die when the odds are against you. It might be a pain during a dungeon, but in every other situation, I just shrug, get up and get on with things. The game is quick to pick up and also to put down, so it can be treated as more of a pastime and less of a chore. Of course, if I cared enough about the endgame, the ward armour, completing all the content or collecting every title, I might not feel this way, but at the moment, it’s a perfect game for me to decide on a daily basis if I want to be casual or hardcore or a mix of the two.

Questing

The normal quests are often shrugged off as being a sideshow to the main attraction (the RvR, which we all know and mostly enjoy!). But actually, they’re not half bad at all. The red blobs might make questing fast and easy-ish (location-wise), but the areas have great flavour and interesting storylines to follow through, so that even when blasting through you get a good sense of them. I quite enjoy WAR questing as another fairly unstressy way of enjoying the game.

Anyway, a quick overview of things we were discussing today, and of my very basic feelings after not playing very seriously for a while. Feel free to add others, or disagree at will!

Changes and reading

Ok, first – changes to the sidebar. I’ve taken out the RSS feed from the Warhammer Herald in the US and replaced it with a bunch of WAR-related twitter feeds. You can now check out the latest from Andy, James, the WAR Herald, Josh and Paul on the right-hand sidebar. Go me! (Also means I can un-follow them, sneaky, huh?).

Secondly, GOA have posted another guide in their series. This time to being a guild leader. It’s a sore topic for me at the moment, but I enjoyed reading the guide – go read it and let me know what you think. I like the idea and I like that they’re adding these guides, it’s a bit of extra content that people seem to be overlooking a little. Yes, we all feel we know these things, but still, not everyone is as old and jaded as some of us (thankfully!).

Thirdly, Phoenix Red over at Warhammer Alliance is undergoing a fab experiment. To play Warhammer Online using the community to determine things. They’ve already voted for a class to play, server type to play on, how to xp (ie. scenario, PQ, oRvR) and he’s got his first report on the game up now. The speedy levelling and variety of Warhammer allow these kinds of player-run achievements (which is what I think is really going on here). It’s a bit like Syp‘s challenge to level in RvR only. Maybe we’re getting a bit stir-crazy and looking for ways to make things more fun by giving ourselves some limitations… but it’s definitely something worth reading over at Warhammer Alliance.

Fourthly (do we ever go to fourthly), Nic has put a little update on how things are going on the European Test Server on the Freddyshouse forums. Head over there to read it in its entirety, but this bit made me laugh:

Other things that were popular are the new /sit /lie and other new emotes, but this was probably more due to the fact that there is currently no way to get up again after doing them, they’re also still possible while mounted. Hilarity ensued. Hey it’s called a TEST server for a reason .

Guild leader interview: no. 1

In the first of what we hope will become a series of interviews with European guilds across a number of servers, we start with XXI Grams, who play on Karak Eight Peaks. I’d like to thank Grindhouse, their guild leader a lot for answering my questions, I think they’re bound to give some interesting insights into what others are doing in the game. So please get in touch (in comments or via email or twitter) if you would like to answer a similar set of questions!

Tell us a little about your guild, why that name, when they formed and what server they play on?

We are a guild of a small core of players, our goal at creation was to have 2 prefixed groups running on a daily basis to have some nice 6v6 fights and 6vx and 12vzerg. We chose the name 21 Grams (XXI Grams couse numbers are not allowed in WAR) becouse it has a deeper meaning than just numbers, you know as they say: Quote from the movie: ” How many lives do we live? How many times do we die? They say we all lose 21 grams… at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? How much is gained? Twenty-one grams. The weight of a stack of five nickels. The weight of a hummingbird. A chocolate bar. How much did 21 grams weigh?” people say and it’s confirmed by science that you actually do lose 21 grams when you you die, so it kinda grew into a superstition about you losing your soul.

We formed about 6 months prior to launch of WAR, where we also played in the closed and open beta. We chose to play on Karak Eight Peaks, becouse alot of old friends from DAoC also went to the same server, we kinda tried to agree on one server prior to launch to know where to go, to create our community of old DAoC’ers.

How many members do you have?

At this point we are running in 2 prefixed groups, 12 people, but we do have 1-2 backups when someone is in slack mode.

What’s been the best thing you’ve done in Warhammer Online? As a guild, and personally?

The best thing we’ve done in Warhammer.. I think that so far has been putting up a challenge vs order as a small scale guild, killing twice our numbers and organized and promoted some 6v6 fights in locked zones for some fun, because the mindless zerg is pretty much boring and not interesting without Crowd Control.  Personally I think, the best thing I’ve done is to create the guild we are now. Having a core of great people and members and friends in the guild from all different nationalities, we have loads of fun, we laugh a lot together and we got a new Motto: Just Click It – Jokes aside, yes the best thing I’ve done is to make all those people come together and become friends and strive for more than just playing a game.

How do you approach guild leadership?

Guild leadership is not a big issue with us, because every member of the guild is a mature player with whom we all can get along with. Everyone has something to say and contribute to various ideas and whatnot. Recruitment, zerging, 6v6 groups, lost vale and so forth. In the end I do take the big descisions and sign the deal. But pretty much every guildmember has to agree, we’re like a board who has to reach a unanimous descision.

What’s great about the server you play on?

The great and fun thing about our server is, that there are alot of old DAoC guilds who support small scale combat and RvR, and more are coming as they see we do it more and more often. So we do hope that in the end, the zerg will stop and the 6v6 will start!

How did you go about picking a faction?

This is a funny story, becouse initially we were supposed to play Order. But when we were about to pick server, we were looking at which guilds were going on which faction, and we wanted to be on the underpopulated/underskilled side, to be challenged by other players and guilds. So when we noticed and saw that the majority of old familiar DAoC faces went to Order, we decided Destruction.

What’s the biggest problem you have with WAR currently?

Zerg – I cant stress this enough Zerg is bad, zerg doesnt require any skill, only by the zerg leader, Souzy <3, so all you do is, you have 1 person leading 4 warbands, with half of them going afk, and doing a Tab 44444 to hit the door. We are trying to promote 6v6 combat as much as possible, not only is it fun, but in the same time as a zerg can get a full zone capped, you can get twice the renown points dong 6v6. it’s alot more challenging, requires more coordination, teamplay and skill and makes the game so much more interesting and fun. Ohh and ofc LAG at forts.. and zone crashed and the fact that they totally killed and nerfed Chosens 😦

What do you tell people who don’t play about the game?

Not that much to be honest, but if I see a guy/girl playing a diff game I’d definately try to get him/her to play WAR. Maybe tell the person how the game works and stuff, but most people I know who doesn’t play this game, doesn’t play any other game.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the guild, the server, or the game?

I love the game and I love the server we are playing on. Could use some twitches and more 6v6 promotion and balance. Other than that, all I can say is, promote 6v6 guys, make it happen, take up a challenge, fight for your honour and your guildname and colours. Make people know, that you pwn! And remember – Just Click It!

 

XXI Grams have just released an RvR video that’s well worth watching, so hop on over and check it out!

Strange happenings

It’s been a strange old week, full of all sorts of nonsense at home and at work. Not been around all that much in WAR, but enough to become interim guild leader. It’s happened for a few reasons, but I was happy to take it on and keep the title warm until someone else steps up for it. But logging in and looking at myself as guild leader makes me feel a bit.. responsible. I even went through the list and promoted everyone to member and to alliance member status – something I could have done as an officer, of course.

Then, I feel like I should be writing motivational motds, but always default to the practical or chocolate-based.

I also missed the start of the Heavy Metal event because of work and the Mines of Moria. I’m doing overtime this week, so it’s come at a bad time for me – plus, there’s a hell of a lot to do before I head off for two weeks’ holiday (more on that nearer the time!).

But I hear Reikland Factory is good fun, I hope to try it out myself very soon. Maybe even tonight though I usually play nothing on thursdays. I’d still like to give it a shot!

Other than general admin and motd coolness, is there anything else I should consider during my brief inter-regnum? I think my job is just to hold the title – but think what fun I COULD have?!

My issues with dungeons (so far)

Ok, this is solely based on Gunbad and Bastion Stair which we’re currently half-heartedly working our way through.

Why half-heartedly? Well.. for a few reasons The first wing is almost too straightforward, easy to clear – the boss, wasn’t too bad once we got his schtick (not too hard to grasp!). The second wing, is more tricky – but has some nice little fights in. And I’ve not yet been to the third wing.

The problem? Well, it’s all well and good to have a public dungeon where I can take a warband of guild or alliance mates and crush evil wherever I see it. But, once we get to that instanced boss, we suddenly have to work on making balanced 6-man groups, leaving people out, feeling guilty/bad if one group does it and another doesn’t – and anyone who does it gets a 24-hr lockout. And the game doesn’t detect the 6 (or less) classes taking part and cleverly drop sensible loot for those classes – nope, it’s so far mostly dropped stuff for any class NOT in the group (often one in the other group, who then get different loot). I hate that a fast-paced dungeon romp comes to a crashing halt as bureacracy kicks in.

The only solution we’ve found so far – go as a 6-man group only. But that means I can’t just openly ask guild and alliance if they want to come along – everyone gets influence for the PQs, for example. Each group can tap mobs needed for quests and get some xp that way. But the bosses – it grinds to a halt and then there’s an aura of awkwardness.

And the 24-hr lockout. While I don’t disagree in principle to it (I think it was 30 mins for Gunbad, unless that’s changed), it means that some people are literally going EVERY night for a chance for their loot. I can’t and won’t do that, it’s no fun and it’s no xp after the first tranche of quests are completed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like public dungeons. I like being able to randomly decide I want a break from questing, scenarios and open RvR and that I have an option that can potentially offer me some great rewards. And both Gunbad and Bastion Stair are very atmospherically and graphically pleasing. Gunbad inhabited by Night Goblins, and Bastion Stair dedicated to Khorne with lots of skulls, blood and fire. So I like the occasional trip – they just always seem to leave me feeling a bit down.

Also, the lag caused by the pretty fires in Bastion Stair. Not fun!

I’m hoping people will answer with lots of things they love about the dungeons… so over to you.

Inside the guild officers’ room

For those who can’t get into the Officers’ Room in Sigmar’s Hammer, here’s a couple of pics of what you’re missing:

As you can see, it’s kind of nice, with a raised chair on a plinth and plenty of food/wine and many stuffed animals. Um, not that we’ve used it for a meeting yet, but I can imagine a time when we might!

Expectations

Quick warning, this may be my first wall of text for a while and it’s very much based on my own personal journey…

I got very down about Tier 4 when I was new to it, my class kind of sucked at soloing from 31-33 (more than normal), and that was a big shock to the system. Plus, I don’t want to have to choose a levelling specline or have to choose gear for various purposes – I’m stubborn like that. And open RvR was quiet, Serpent’s Passage hurts my eyes after the 3rd consecutive run, etc etc. And I read around the place that others were having similar ‘fun’ problems. And then I had an enforced 5-day break. And I thought about it quite a lot, especially when chatting to my sisters and to a WoW gamer I spent some time with.

I got out of my funk. I love the game, I really do. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish open RvR was a bit more perky – but honestly, on our server there is open action in Tier 4 every day. It may not be at the perfect time for me, and some of it might mean taking empty keeps and waiting for defence and then scooting around to try and nudge control in various zones while many want a big fight… but it’s there. And that comforts me.

Then, at 33, my Rune Priest (not specced for Rune of Burning!) got better at soloing. Not great, but good enough for a primary healer. Which satisfies me there. In fact, my biggest concern is finding people to group up with to quest and do PQs (PQs are a bit pointless for influence rewards, but I see them as socialising with some free xp attached!). Even that is changing, I’m changing, I’m asking for help more. And trying to make myself more sociable and willing to help also. It’s a process, neither slow nor fast, but one that depends on mood.

So what really struck me about Warhammer Online while I was away? It’s a very different game to those I’m used to playing (DAoC, WoW, LotRO). And I asked myself the following:

  • How did I play my last MMO? (ie. level fast, solo/grouped, etc)
  • How many hours per day did I grind traits/influence/reputation/gear?
  • How many hours did I raid per week?
  • How many hours did I PvP?

WAR is a totally different kettle of fish for me, and for everyone. There’s a certain levelling ‘grind’ but I say it in inverted commas, cos it’s nothing like the grind I had in other games (I played WoW before they upped the lower level xp, I left before Burning Crusade). I have been known to play 12h straight in Dark Age of Camelot, whether in Caer Sidi or tree groups! All day is and has been pretty common for LotRO. And yet, when I try it in WAR I get a bit edgy and miserable.

Why, then? Well, the best I can do at describing it is that I’m finding WAR a completely different kettle of fish as an MMO. It’s the kind I like to dip in and out of, which is something I’ve never done before. And one of the reasons I’ve never had two MMOs at the same time before now. To me, MMO has always been a bit like a part-time job, occupying all hours to get all the things I want and need for my character while grouping up with friends to complete some fairly hefty challenges, or to just hang out and have some fun. Now we have WAR, where in a few hours I can take two or three keeps, or jump into scenarios while questing. For me, anyway, it’s not a game I want to spend 12h straight – and that’s the big difference.

Since coming back, and recognising this, I’ve been a much happier bunny. I log off when I’m tired or when I want to go watch TV or hang out with the cats or my husband. I play less, but I enjoy it more. I’ve reached rank 35 and renown rank 32 (well, I’m 95% there, and will be by the time this is published). I have titles for taking keeps and for restoring keeps. I am beginning to help people with their quests more and have recently seen Bastion Stair for the first time. All of this has been more fun than a couple of weeks ago, when I hit the Tier 4 doldrums.

I think the game still needs tweaks at the high levels, the influence rewards for PQs are lousy after ch16 and this has led to a desertion – one that makes questing where there are PQs quite tricky. Going back to help lower level characters has giving me a sense that my character is powerful and also, it’s more relaxing than trying to solo stuff. When these guys catch me up, we’ll all group and do ch18+ together. So I’m kind of fixing it myself, and the levelling curve is flattening all-round.

No solution to Serpent’s Passage Syndrome yet but I have faith Mythic will work something out. They’ve been very responsive and let’s face it, they know they have a problem with Tier 4 at the moment, you can’t fail to notice the threads and blog posts about it. But it’s not all down to the game company, we do have our own responsibility to do what’s fun for us.

For me, it’s to dip in and out of PvE, RvR, scenarios and dungeons and not to try and play WAR as if it’s LotRO/DAoC/WoW.

[And, as Syp said in a comment recently ‘great minds think alike’ – it would be remiss of me to leave out a link to Stylish Corpse whose words on the same topic I greatly enjoyed and who I totally agree with!]

Is it more fun to lead a WAR guild than a WoW guild?

Blackweb@The Vault has a lot more fun leading his guild in WAR than he did in WoW and explains why pretty clearly.

One of the reasons he gives is that guilds in WoW, particularly raid guilds, compete for members.

In wow, my guilds greatest enemies were other guilds from my own faction. Poaching guild members was rampant, promises of instant epics common. I actually had another guild merge with mine with the intention of taking my best players and leaving.

During my time raiding in WoW and being a guild officer in a raid guild I have seen a lot of the same behaviour dynamics. I don’t know many guilds who deliberately ‘poach’ but all the higher end raid guilds are very aware that their best source of new geared, experienced raiders will be people from other raid guilds. Turnover can be high, people regularly burn out, recruitment is continuous for particularly desired classes/specs. Part of the incentive to compete over speed of clearing raid instances is for bragging rights and being more easily able to attract new raiders from less ‘elite’ guilds.

Blackweb continues (talking about WAR now):

We have good relations with other guilds and work with them on a regular basis. WAR is the most fun I have ever had playing a pvp based MMO since early planetside. Mythics strong stand against exploiters, gold spammers, power levelers helps us keep our guild free of exploiters and play the game as it was meant to be played. WARs living guild concept is great. Everyone celebrates when the guild ranks up and works hard to achieve the next guild rank. Everyone gets involved in helping build the guild. No one steals items from the guild bank. Member turnover is low.

Even allowing for the game only being a few weeks old and in its honeymoon period, again what he reflects here is behaviour that I have seen too. Particularly the incentive for guilds and raids to work together as opposed to always competing for resources.

I’ve said before that I also find it more fun to lead raids in WAR than WoW for many of the same reasons. Part is the fun you can have with strategy and second guessing live opponents, and part is for the fun of working together with other raids from your own realm.

I think the points that blackweb makes here are very core to the feel of both games. And really, if the leaders aren’t having fun and are burning out, how good can that really be for the state of any game?