To the Lighthouse!

There’s one thing Mythic are good at, listening to their players. It doesn’t always mean they can change things at the pace some would like, but they do pay attention. Since the game launched people have been arguing about the interest levels of the endgame, saying that the early levels are more fun (they just are, less skills to deal with etc etc) and waxing on with nostalgia about their days in Nordenwatch (when it was the only T1 scenario to pop).

And so Mythic give us the Nordenwatch Weekend, when all players, all tiers can go participate in Nordenwatch. Go. Play it. You KNOW you want to. I will be (tomorrow, since I work today). It runs through the bank holiday in the UK, so until 9am CEST on Tuesday. It’s great news and just the kind of mini-event that can be run for any scenario at any time. Definitely a good thing. And how much do I want to play Mourkain Temple with my rank 40 Rune Priest? A lot, make it the next one!! (then Tor Anroc, of course!).

We’re all a bit down on WAR at the moment, or the majority are. I have a lot of posts I’ve set to one side to comment on further here. But rather than go through things in order, I’ve stepped up to publicise a mini-event I think will be a ton of fun.

What are you still reading this for? Go grab the Fortress, and for heaven’s sake – fight BY the flag…

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WAR’s Groaning

Enough niceness, eh?  Bloggers, and in can be assumed others in the community, are testing out other games until WAR gets fixed or until the Land of the Dead brings people back to the game.  Hell, it’s what I’m doing. I’m even sometimes choosing grinding in LotRO over what it plainly fun about WAR – Tier 1 and an alt on many nights. People are doubting their subscriptions.

And Mythic? Mythic are tied to their desks trying to fix stuff and bring in new stuff that will need fixing with their lesser numbers in QA and elsewhere. The game needs these fixes and changes, and they’ve been promised to us. A number of people I know are pretty excited about Land of the Dead but not really bothered about much before, so this ‘live expansion’ is very important to Mythic, don’t mistake that. If it all goes wrong, it might be the end of a number of subs on both sides of the pond. The community is flagging a little and could do with pepping up.

Not heard of Paul visiting many blogs recently, or even updating his own. And that’s the problem with community involvement, once you start it, people expect it to continue. I expect these luminaries of Mythic to be doing all they used to do, marketing-wise, even when it’s unfeasible from a grander scale. But I’m sure there will be a ramp-up in community chatter and involvement with the Land of the Dead, there needs to be!

I’m finding WAR quite suitable for a casual game, but that also means if something more interesting comes up, WAR gets dropped for the night. I still enjoy the game when I play it, but even that’s somewhat because I’ve disengaged myself from the endgame, I’ve heard too much about it being unsatisfying, and I know I enjoy sleeping, so I don’t go to city sieges or defences, preferring to try new characters and play them through Tiers 1 and 2, safe in the knowledge I have my preferred char at rank 40 just in case I need a top level character.

WAR needs enthusiasm. It needs to be fun. If you’re not enjoying it, try alting, or play another game and keep your eye on info about the ‘expansion’.

And come talk to us all about it on May 9th at the Cittie of York pub in Holborn, London (while arranging to meet the rest of your guild there, of course). Seriously, I think we need more people for this or we’ll get moved out of our booked room… so ask around and drum up some interest, please!

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!]

A Joke Post

To all of those surprised the World First(!!!!) capture of Karl Franz hasn’t made Mythic’s homepage or the Herald, I have simply one thing to say:

Mythic hate Europe!

(and yes, I did feel the need to openly say this was comedic in intent, even if it’s a phrase I’ve repeated many many times in seriousness)

NB: You can read GOA’s write-up on the event here, along with some screenshots.

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!

WAR Thoughts and Grievances

I’d write about patch 1.2.1 and keep upgrades, but people have written about it a hell of a lot better. I’d write about the Archmage/Shaman changes, but I’m hoping Spinks will contribute her thoughts. So, for one day only, here’s the start of a little whine/rant about Warhammer from someone who’s followed it, loved it and been frustrated with it. I play the game, but a lot less than I once did.

I’m not feeling all that connected with the Warrior Priest, despite the fun of clubbing people on the head and healing with hitting, I did feel a connect with the Rune Priest, so I will be heading back to playing little Kaja in the coming weeks and maybe getting my guild to help me with some of the end content.

So, what’s the whine about?

Well, while I appreciate all the changes WAR is having made to it, the game is changing rapidly, more rapidly than perhaps any other MMO I’ve played , and all as a result of devs listening to the playerbase. But. And it’s a BIG but. Really, the game should have had this stuff earlier and the launch delayed. I don’t mind inclusion of the missing classes, because let’s face it, both sets of class inclusions have given the game a huge PR boost and brought players back. But, the rest of this stuff? WAR is taking on as many good ideas from Dark Age of Camelot as possible, with the keep upgrades, the Darkness Falls-esque upcoming Dungeon and no doubt we’ll have relics-lite soon. With every upgrade I’m happy as a player and frustrated like hell as a commentator. If these devs are so great at game design, why wasn’t some of this stuff in earlier. We’re no longer silly consumers who have little choice in our gaming, we see polished games come elsewhere, and here we have a game that’s seemingly still testing concepts on a wide scale in order to find its identity.

But, it can still be fun, and the changes will enhance gameplay for all. So we should remember the positives. I suppose.