Brief blogging

Again, I’ve been extremely busy at work, so things in WAR have been a bit slow for me over the last couple of days, my Warrior Priest is just teetering on rank 17 and going through Barak Varr, because even when not a dwarf, I like dwarf lands. Have also considered taking Kaja, my Rune Priest out for an airing this week, so who knows, I may go see the Inevitable City!! I might ask some of my new guild to show me a higher level dungeon as well. What can I say? I love the Warrior Priest, but I’m missing my dwarfy!

Anyway, I’ve already done fair list of stuff I’ve read that’s caught my interest, but I also wanted to link to a friend’s new blog, that now has an article on about RvR tactics and short-sightedness, which I really think is worth reading. Although I’d like to think of myself as a good player, I know I’ve fallen into the trap of hitting the nearest target a few times, programmed from years of PvE play, I guess. But since I play with Torvik (the author, and one of my little Slayer buddies), and since I did used to do a fair amount of RvR in DAoC, I know what he’s saying is right – and it’s something I do try and incorporate into my tactics.

Another post I wanted to highlight is from Thulf over at Stunty Stomper and explains how to grab a skeleton pet if you happen to want one. An inventive and amusing post and one that made me smile quite a lot. I loved the screenshots of the pet also. I named it Bob!

Hopefully back with more content soon! First, I have to finish Battlestar Galactica – and then hold a wake. Only some things are more important than gaming, and Battlestar Galactica is one of those things.

Hallowe’en screens..

Our Witching Night, in pictures:

Why I don’t do Temple of Isha

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain amount of manic frenzy about standing at an exposed flag and fighting. I enjoy that part of it, but.. from the very first time I saw the map, I can only think of one thing. First, let’s look at the Temple of Isha map:

And now onto my warped mind.. this is what I think of everytime I go into that scenario…

Yes, the female reproductive system, stuck in my head since those lovely sex education classes at school. So, it’s never been a scenario I can take seriously, and I spend more time wondering if the designers missed the likeness. When I mentioned it to my scenario group once (I’ve been kind of tentative to mention, because well.. I wonder if I’m just weird), none of them had thought of it that way… oops. It did lead to a whole scenario worth of jokes about it though! I’ll leave some of those to your imaginations.

Tor Anroc, while popular and crazy never makes my mind wander – so bring it on!

Back to Altdorf

Ah yes, our server has Rank 5 Altdorf. Not noticed a huge difference, but until I get my Sigmar’s Hammer scroll (work harder guild!) I don’t go there all that much. Of course, we did pop in to see Felix and Gotrek:

and they gave us a quest to go visit the giggling psychos at the Bright Wizard College. Think I’m joking? Take a look at this photographic evidence:

I’m sure we’ll be back and investigating there soon! It’s nice to see the City at 5 stars, it’s certainly a lot noisier now, and we hope it can stay that way for a very long time, not least to give full access to quests and the like for newcomers. If there’s anything else we should check out, let us know!

ps. saw some mounted guards today – very flash!

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.

Things that amuse – with pics!

Spinks: Apparently the in gear for fashion forwards Swordsmasters this Autumn is the  Devastator Platecoat. As you can see, the bug is that it’s skinned to a Knights of the Blazing Sun type shape. Not to mention, made for someone smaller.

Yeah, we prefer our Swordmasters in robes too.


Arbitrary: Ok, it’s complete fluff and I’m such a girl. I know. But I will never ever delete this adorable pet book from my character. It may go live in the bank though!


Hawley:  It’s the little things you pick up.  Discovering that the chaos champion you just whacked into the ground must have been a horticulturalist, because of the watering can you’ve looted from him.  Or that you’ve just collected someone’s makeshift loincloth.  I mean, how desperate do you have to be to need a *makeshift* loincloth.  Loincloths are pretty simple things, really…  But no, my favourite thing so far has been…

A barrel of fish!

A barrel of fish!

The barrel of fish.  Every time I see one, I giggle.  It’s so cool!

Pelt of the Dark Young (spoilers)

Look what Spinks found this morning! (and yes, this is our toons posing). Go to Avelorn, head to first camp north of warcamp you fly into (Well of Whispers). Wait for nasty big Gor to attack (regular level 26 mob), kill and get Bossie Beastie tome unlock. He’s called Khurraak Might-Horns.

Iron Lion Ulthuan

The White Lion is one of the most unusual classes in the game. It’s an elf with a big two-handed axe, so right from the start there is a sense of disconnect. Elves don’t use axes, dwarves do! Far from being effete academics, the lore says that White Lions are tough mountain warriors – not forest dwellers. And although they have trained war lions to hunt with them, they also wear lionskin around their shoulders as a mark of accomplishment. So these are not your average Tolkeinesque elves, they’re a more savage culture.

And from an MMO point of view, a melee dps class with a pet is quite uncommon in itself. Pets are usually used to tank by ranged classes. So how does the Lion work out?

It’s a fun class. Even at low levels, with a nice renown axe my White Lion can put out a lot of damage very quickly. When I’m on form, I have no trouble dashing in and out of combat and downing some annoying squishy before heading back to the shelter of my local tank. The pet is mostly well behaved and does what it is told, there are issues with the UI and pathing that I’ll touch on later but I’ve been more impressed than frustrated with him.

Pet control is in three parts.

1. You can set how much you want to micromanage  the pet’s targets by selecting aggressive (pet attacks anything in range), defensive (pet attacks anything that attacks you), or passive (pet only attacks when it is ordered to attack). These settings have become quite standard in MMO pet classes. I usually put mine on passive, although I have found in RvR that setting it to defensive means that it goes after healers if no one is actually hitting me. So it has a regular PvE mobs aggro list. This may make the lion more useful than I am but I don’t mind if it is making me look good. It dashes off behind a rock and comes out chasing a shaman.

2. You can manage where it is by selecting between follow (pet follows you), stay (pet stays where it is) or attack (pet runs off and attacks your target). All of these can be mapped to keys. I usually stick the pet on follow, using keybinds to get it to attack things.

3. Pet abilities. The lion has a number of abilities which include a variety of dps moves, a snare, some debuffs, and a taunt. You can micromanage these by mapping them to keys (or using mouse-clicks) or you can leave the lion to use them itself which it tends to do on every cooldown. The trick is that it doesn’t have access to all of its abilities all of the time. You can train your lion to take different stances (trained to threaten, trained to kill, trained to hunt) and each stance gives it access to a different set of abilities and also gives a buff to you. So for example, trained to threaten (the pet tanking stance) gives the pet a taunt, a snare, and an attack that debuffs enemy armour. It also gives the pet’s master 5% extra crit chance.

So there is a LOT of scope for micromanagement if you want to control absolutely what your pet is doing at all times. But it works well enough without.  I’ve been using trained to threaten for RvR and hotkeying the snare and letting the lion do the rest on its own, but I’m definitely not done experimenting yet.

The White Lion doesn’t have much utility. And some of the utility that it does have (like the snare) is provided by the pet. I would have preferred to have my own snare, but this way does force you to work with the pet as best you can.

What they do have is a lot of solid damage moves. The three talent trees do encourage different styles of play, which is a design I like to see because it gives a class more replayability. Path of the Hunter has solid dps boosts, such as a tactic to increase attack speed by 50%. With a big slow axe, I expect that to put out some big AP-free numbers. It also encourages you to set the pet on a different target and has abilities which let both pet and master work together. But the primary focus of this line is on AE damage. Path of the Axeman is all about letting the pet tank while the elf puts out huge single-target damage. It emphasises attacks from the side or rear and contains the classes only healing debuff attack. There’s a nice baseline ability which ignores all armour when you attack from behind which is handy for those times when you absolutely have to chase down a tank. And Path of the Guardian is all about enhancing the pet’s ability to get to a target and deliver huge damage, while toughening the elf so that she is better able to tank. It has an ability that allows the pet to break crowd control which will be familiar to anyone who played a hunter in WoW.

For getting in and out of combat quickly, the White Lion has access to a speed boost that doesn’t consume AP as well as sprint, and there is a Pounce ability that you can spec for which allows a leap into combat over a short distance. It also apparently negates falling damage if you Pounce while falling, which may be a bug.

UI Issues

Sometimes the pet interface disappears completely. This can be resolved by resummoning the lion but the resummoning is on a 15s timer which starts when you dismiss it (or it dies). It can be hard to track where the pet is at all times, and it is sometimes slow at coming back to heel when called. Pathing is generally good — in particular when you jump off something, the lion jumps with you. But occasionally the lion will stand around or take a route you hadn’t predicted.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the pathing though. I was expecting worse. It’s quite usable.

Playing the Lion in RvR

I’ve never really felt I was good at playing melee in PvP. It is much harder than playing ranged, you don’t always have much time to pick our your targets and you don’t get as good a view of what is going on around you. And you always need to run in before you can start attacking. Ranged have a much larger target choice and more time to see what’s going on. And of course with the White Lion, you may need to be picking out two targets at a time, one for you and one for the pet.

One of the things I wanted to do with my White Lion was try to get a bit better at playing melee. So I have been levelling her mostly in scenarios and open RvR. I find with melee that RvR is much more of a rollercoaster. When it goes well, it REALLY goes well. The numbers are flying, targets die quickly, you get to charge after a wounded tank and kill them in one blow and you feel ‘well ‘ard’. I’ve had scenarios where I had loads of killing blows and a few solo kills to my name. I’ve had some where I felt as though I was dying constantly and being nothing but a burden to the rest of my team. I have decided that it is probably normal to feel like this and that I’m probably no worse than lots of other people.

It is more challenging to play a class that you know you aren’t particularly good with. I’m still hoping that with more practice that will change. I am really enjoying the White Lion, now into Tier 2 and looking forwards to picking up Pounce. The big axe feels dangerous. The lion feels useful and well trained unless I mess up its chances. There’s still a lot to learn.

And the most important thing: what do you call the lion? The command is /petname <name>. I named mine Kol after one of my old In Nomine RPG characters that was an angel of judgement, a man of few words.

What did you call your pet?

Things we love about the game: no. 42

Quality moments catching people on the toilet in Altdorf. Stand too close and you can hear straining noises. No really.

How to read a Scenario Scoreboard

Most people, when presented with any kind of scoreboard, treat it as a competition. Who won?

The scenario scoreboard does show who won, but it also gives an idea of roughly what the players were doing during that scenario. Who was defending a flag vs who was following the zerg? Who was healing vs who was nuking? Who was sitting in the starting area afk?

Looking at the values of xp and renown awarded to players, we can also see what kinds of behaviours the scoring algorithm tends to reward. Below is a copy of part of the scoreboard from a close match in Nordenwatch, to illustrate this. I was third from the top in this one.

nord_res_annotated_sm

I always order the scores by healing done because I’m a healer and it makes me look better, and you can do this by clicking on the little + healing icon. Also, I’m most interested in comparing my play with the other healers to see how I can improve.

You could probably guess the classes here even if I didn’t tell you. The top healer was a Runepriest, you can see that he was healing exclusively by comparing his damage total to his healing. Only 1 death — that’s runepriests for you. Then two Archmages; from the numbers you can see that we were throwing out more dps than the other healers, but we also were higher rank which partly explains it.

Next down is a Zealot, and if he’d been healing more and nuking less Destruction would probably have won this match. The last 4 healers are all lower level Warrior Priests. The guy who healed the most of them was a rank 2. So rank does help a lot with putting out high healing and damage numbers, but it’s not the only important factor.

The scorecard isn’t purely dependent on healing/damage totals, and you can see that here. The renown/xp awarded depends on all the factors displayed here, and on who won the scenario. (I’m not sure that the solo kills or deathblows are worth much renown,  they may just show that for bragging rights). So I earned more renown from this particular scenario because I was nearer to the fighting for longer than the other healers (29 kills recorded in range compared with 24 for the runepriest). With the number of order Healers in this run, we probably should all have been playing a bit more aggressively. But hey, the scoreboard shows that we won in the end.

I did get a solo kill on this run which is something I usually try to avoid because it takes awhile and as a support class, that’s time when I should really be supporting my group. But just for the record, I think it was a DoK.

If you want good renown as a healer, follow the fighting. Throw out damage whenever you don’t absolutely need to heal. Whenever you absolutely do need to heal, HEAL. Stay alive. Don’t stress over the scoreboards, it’s more important to apply damage/healing to the right person at the right time than just to pad out the numbers, and the renown/xp reflects that.

Flaws with the Scoring

There are some things the scoreboard doesn’t show that I wish it did:

1. Resses. As a healer, I’d like people to see how many resses I successfully cast during a scenario.

2. Time spent defending a flag. I am not convinced that holding an objective scores as highly as following the fighting. This is easier to see in Khaine’s Embrace. I think this is the single biggest issue with renown scores in scenarios. You’ll get more renown from following the fighting than from going to solo ninja a scenario objective or from staying on your own to guard a flag, even though the latter might win the game for your side.