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.

*click* BOOM! Aaaahahahahahahhahah!

Or: How I learned to stop worrying, and love my rifle.

Wotcha everyone,

One of the things I love about online gaming is that every so often I’m hit with a class that just surprises me about how much I enjoy playing it.

The Engineer is one.

Let me put this in perspective. I don’t like playing “short” races. It’s a cosmetic thing, as much as anything else. In online games, the short races are generally squashed humans, with crazy facial hair. I’m also not a huge fan of playing ranged dps classes. It’s the whole “bow-boy” thing. Generally, you do lethal damage with a bit of string and a few sticks, but given a sharp metal pointy thing, you hit like a 4-stone weakling.

But this is a closed beta, and I’m supposed to be testing the game, so I decided to just have a short go in the dwarf area, to see what the area was like, see if I could find any bugs, and reinforce my opinion that dwarfs were “just short”.

I didn’t want a Rune Priest. I already had a Warrior Priest and an Archmage, and decided to keep some healing mystery in the beta. And an Ironbreaker looked like too much hard work. So Engineer it was.

Now, I can be all repressed Englishman here, and say that I was “mildly surprised at the enjoyable nature of the class”. Or I can be honest, and say that it was huge amounts of fun. I’m not going to go through the class features and skills, because someone with more patience and skill has probably already got a class guide ready to go with the NDA drop.

I will tell you what made the whole experience more than I thought it would be.

The gun. It’s not some sticky/stringy affair. It’s a proper shooter. And the sound it made as it fired just appealed to me on some subconscious, caveman level. I’d find myself shouting “Boom!” when it fired, and giggling like a maniac. Well, giggling more than usual.

The grenades. They’re lovely little debuffs that you lob about the place, that explode. It’s so cool! They’re just a lovely cosmetic for delivering debuffs, that was designed to make me smile.

The turrets. I’m not a fan of pets. They run about the place, and get you shouted at by the rest of your group when they pull an *entire zone*. But one that’s static? Novel. I can’t think of another fantasy game that has a static pet. And I wasn’t sure of it myself, at first. But I started using it, and suddenly it was more than just a flat surface to rest my pint on whilst shooting. For a start, I could have one that fired bullets, and later the range increases to grenades, or a flame thrower. So at later levels, I can decide which is best for the occasion. You can repair it in combat, and it doesn’t need feeding, loving, or training.

The wrench. Well, you start with a wrench. And later on you get ones with better stats. But you will probably use the odd hammer in between wrenches. Anything that gets past the shooter, the grenades and the turret gets a crack over the head with the wrench (or hammer). Ok, you’re never going to rival the Witch Hunter in melee, but you don’t hit like a 4-stone weakling either. It works well enough for PvE, and is satisfying at exactly the same caveman level that the gun noise works at. “Me Engineer! You lunch!” and all that.

Would I have an Engineer at release? Yes, I will. There will most certainly be an Engineer in my stable of alts. I’m a convert. Normally, and with no disrespect to the dps fans out there, I feel something is missing in dps classes. Generally, it’s the ability to heal. I can’t run past someone and heal them if they’re in a spot of bother. I can’t sort myself out with a heal if I’m in a spot of bother. And they never (usually) seem to have the same amount of options in combat that a healer does. But there’s something really satisfying about blowing greenskins away at range, to the extent that I forgot all about healing. And with the fact that you get more options in a fight, whether solo or grouped, than most dps classes out there makes combat more fun for me.

But most of all, the Engineer plays well in the “Movie-in-my-Head”. Playing one was an immersive experience, and I loved that. And my “short go” in the dwarf areas became a long stay, and a tall order of fun (sorry, I’ll get my coat).

Cheers,
Hawley.

The Shallow Players’ Guide to Warhammer Classes

Order

Empire (Humans)

Witch Hunter: gets the coolest sounding abilities, and fab gear (arbitrary) Be the coolest kid on your street (hawley) Watch out, it’s the new romantics! (spinks)

Bright Wizard: got put off when I blew myself up at rank 2 (arbitrary) got put off when I read the list of spells, it’s all fire fire fire (spinks) Got put off by the ’70s glam rock gear (hawley)

Warrior Priest: like the baldness, like the hammer and robe stuff, but having too much fun hitting to heal (arbitrary) too much hassle to bounce around in melee in PvP and heal and try to use buffs too (spinks) Being righteously furious made me bald. If “angry” is your bag, (s)he’s in it (hawley)

High Elves

He IS more useful than you are!

Is he more useful than you are?

White Lion: elves run funny, didn’t last long, forgot I had a pet (arbitrary) The lion looks fantastic, but I got worried people would decide *it* was more useful than I was (hawley) The axe is pretty badass, but lions were meant to be kille^D^D^D^D free! (spinks)

Swordmaster: looks great, very.. stylish whirly technique – quite liked it (arbitrary) Very tempted, looks great (spinks) Loved the look of the swords and shield, but a bit too… tanky… for me (hawley)

Shadow Warrior: pew-pew ninja, very stylish and mask hides the elfy face (arbitrary) Looks great again, but didn’t grab me (spinks) One I’ll probably “explore” at release, but for now I’m just giggling at the hippy-ninjas (hawley)

Archmage: prettiness in a light-show, preferred it to shaman actually, but elves run funny (arbitrary) Best class in the game! heals! nukes! twirls staff! good robe! (spinks) They run funny because they wear slippers. Slippers! Are all probably evil, with their healy-nukey slipper-wearing ways! (hawley)

Dwarfs

Ironbreaker: What’s not to love about a cute girl dwarf with an axe as big as she is. I have this great weakness for tanking big monsters with teeny characters too (spinks) love ’em, just don’t want to be one! (arbitrary) Best thing to follow and heal (hawley)

Rune Priest: the whole package in a rune-y dress (arbitrary) Solid healer type, didn’t like the hat though. The runes look great. (spinks) Great to hang around with, when feeling furiously righteous (hawley)

Engineer: bang, splat, powiee – nothing like batman (arbitrary) We need bigger guns! (spinks) Most fun you can have with your trousers still on (hawley)

Destruction

Greenskins

Shaman: spent far too long doing /special and /cheer, maybe I should have been healing? (arbitrary) Role-playing opportunities abound. Hard to know where the “clothes” stop, and the shaman begins (hawley) It isn’t easy being green. (spinks)

Squig Herder: Spent too long being eaten by squig (arbitrary) Squigs look fantastic. Like vicious space hoppers (hawley) Loved the squigs, not so big on gobbos (spinks)

Black Orc: huuuuuuge biceps dude, bit of a grunter (arbitrary) Be the “straight man” of the greenskin races. Still impressively wide (hawley) He really looks the part (spinks)

Chaos

Zealot: Kind of sexy in a hunched over way, love the skull, preferred RP (arbitrary) You’re never alone with a skull. Class most likely to tempt me to the dark side(hawley) She’s one of those creepy goths who tells really good horror stories. (spinks)

Magus: omg, I love the disk! I kept making her jump around so that I could see the animation where she landed back on the disk and rebalanced herself. The rest seemed cool too but … it’s all about the disk. I can’t get excited about a demon called a pink horror — maybe I’ll make a spore creature that looks like it though (Spinks) disk, disk, disk, disk – didn’t try any skills, floated a lot (arbitrary) Really fun to chase after (hawley)

Chosen: see a lot of them, was a bit.. male for me (arbitrary) too many of these around already (spinks) The armour looks amazing, but is a bit too kerrazily baroque for my liking (hawley)

Marauder: if I was going to be a chaos-boy, I’d be a marauder, it’s like playing dolls with exchangeable arms (arbitrary) Must get a free “Target Hawley” button. Died to these boys *a lot* (hawley) Arrrgh, naughty tentacles! (spinks)

Dark Elves

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf: it was awesome, the first grey drop I got was EVEN SKIMPIER than her starting gear. She still has more clothes on than Gisele in this months Arena though… (spinks) Slut! hrrm, where did that witch hunter go again? (arbitrary) Surprisingly distracting in combat. Change video details to “low” when fighting them (hawley)

Sorceress: spell list sounded cool but her skirt just hangs wrong. didn’t like the look (spinks) she looked bored at me, I got annoyed, elves and me just don’t connect (arbitrary) Squishy (hawley)

Disciple of Khaine: I like the look, but she’s under-fed – seriously! no wonder she looks so mad (arbitrary) dual wield, yay! (spinks) Second most likely to tempt me to the dark side. The gear looks amazing, and you won’t catch cold in a breeze (see Witch Elf wardrobe) (hawley)

Addendum: Classes your parents would like

  • White Lion – who doesn’t love a pet cat?
  • Black Orc – he has a plan, and parents always ask what you plan to do with your life
  • Witch Elf – Your dad will play one when your mum’s out. Your mum will play one when your dad’s out
  • Warrior Priest – They’ll bond with the Righteous Fury mechanic on an instinctive level

Know Thine Enemy: Aikau’s Guide to the Sorceress

Aikau, GM of Widespread Panic, and a long-time supporter of this blog has very kindly donated a guide to the sorceress for us to put up for everyone to have a look through. To keep things nice and tidy, I’ve bundled it into a Google Doc, which you can read here.

We really enjoyed reading it, and definitely learned quite a bit about the class from it. Thanks Aikau!

Why are MMOs so obsessed with dps? (And when can I get some?)

The whole MUD genre on which MMO’s are based is dedicated to the superiority of dps (dps = damage per second, it’s a shorthand for damage focussed classes). You get experience mostly by killing things, as per the D&D model. You may not always be in groups. The people who kill things the best solo are the ones who bring the highest damage, so can kill faster. Killing things quickly is an advantage in PvP also. There are other aspects to being a good soloer such as not needing to rest between kills, but the way MMO design is going at the moment, it’s not acceptable to balance dps with low downtime.

In fact, there is literally NO PART of the game in which being a dps class does not confer an advantage. With the only possible exception of being able to get groups quickly, and that isn’t connected to game mechanics, but just to the laws of supply and demand. So as soon as a class with useful/necessary abilities for a group gets overpopulated, it loses any group-getting benefits. And still doesn’t get to solo as fast as a dps class.

I have real issues about classes being balanced with respect to their popularity. But it’s undeniable that players flock to the more effective classes. Who can blame them? If a MMO can be won, it’s by learning the best and most effective ways in game to reach a player’s goals. Picking a good class is one of those ways. Plus its fun to feel powerful and not fun to feel weak.

So damage is king, and dps classes are needed for all parts of the game and can excel at them all. By contrast, healers and tanks are needed for anything group based but usually ‘balanced’ by being less good soloers. I don’t find this a good concept of balance, but the general idea is that healers and tanks are more survivable so don’t need as much damage capability. Its pretty clear who is getting the short end of the stick here.

Ah, but classes aren’t balanced around soloing ability. Well, maybe they should be. Because it’s tedious to always feel like a second rate citizen whenever you have to do something on your own. And no one has a group on call 24/7.

Healers who dps/DPS who heal

You don’t have to browse any forum about any new MMO for very long before someone asks the question, “Will healing characters be forced to heal?” Replies are a mixture of:

  1. players who want a character which has healing capabilities but mostly gets to dps, and can keep up with the dps classes
  2. players who prefer to always stand at the back and heal, and want everyone else on the thread to know it
  3. dps players getting upset at the notion that any healer could out-damage their characters. Because it’s ‘not fair’
  4. trolls those who feel the need to chime in on either side of the ‘don’t tell me how to play my character’ general debate

There is pretty much no type of class in the game that generates so much hatred among the player base as a healer who doesn’t heal. I always thought it was interesting that any character that can cast a heal on others gets labelled ‘a healer’ straight out of the gate, even if it does other things more effectively. So if you pick a character like that, you get the label of healer as soon as anyone sees your class. Don’t want to heal? Then you’ll get the label of ‘rubbish healer.’ And if you are good at dps on a healing class, expect to be labelled very quickly as ‘overpowered.’

A lot of this comes down to perceptions of balance, and also the popularity of different roles. But leaving other people’s selfish expectations aside, there are lots of reasons why these types of classes are popular.

The Tank-Mage Syndrome

“Tank-Mage” is a kind of slang for a character that can do everything and has no weaknesses. The dps-healer can seem like this from the outside. It is as accomplished at killing things as a specialised dps class. But it is also very tough and survivable because of being able to heal itself. People are quick to claim that this is somehow unbalanced, and I’ll talk about that further down. But in general, being balanced means that a class’s strengths are balanced by its weaknesses. If a class is perceived to have few weaknesses and lots of strengths, the whines will begin. Plus it can get groups easily by being able to fill either a healer role or a dps role on demand.

This latter is a strange argument because the actual balance for a class being flexible is that people may ask a player to fill a role they don’t prefer. One benefit to playing pure dps is that no one ever asks you to heal. As a dps-healer, you will be asked to heal IF there is a shortage of healers and you are available. You may brush it off and say no, but there will be some pressure.

But there’s a lot of appeal in a self-sufficient class. And in practice, the classes that fare best in solo PvE (like grinding, levelling if you like to quest solo, etc) are the very self-sufficient ones that can kill quickly and keep downtime to a minimum. A lot of people love good soloing classes. If that’s a part of the game that is important or gives people a good advantage for the rest, it shouldn’t be surprised that players flock to the classes and builds that are good for it.

Other players don’t dislike the idea of healing but don’t want to be stressed out by having other people relying on them as the only healer in a group. They find it less stressful to be mostly dps but able to help another healer out by throwing the odd heal where needed. And as a bonus, they get to be much better at the solo game. So mostly dps with a bit of group support is exactly what they want.

So really it sounds ideal. A character that can heal in groups if needed, or lay down dps just as well as the dps classes. If you at all like healing, why would you not want that? And this really explains why people ask so many questions about healing classes in new games. They’ve played healers with a heavy dps handicap, and they didn’t like it. It feels as though the game is penalising you because you chose a support class. That’s craziness, and it cannot be good design.

Why are dps players such jerks?

It comes down to players who picked pure dps classes feeling that their role is threatened. If another class can do everything that you can do and other stuff as well, you could be excused for wondering what the point is. I’ve noticed when I have played dps that the other players get very competitive, way more than I ever found with a healer or a tank.

Not only that but some people don’t ever play any class with a support aspect, which means they never really had to think about how best to support a group, other than by killing things as fast as possible. In their view, picking a class with a narrow specialisation means they should be absolutely the best, and the role of other classes is to help them to kill things faster (by tanking/ healing/ buffing etc). And … oh yeah … it just so happened to be a specialisation that meant they were great at all parts of the game.

Perils of Class-Based Design

Oh class-based games, how I hate you and love you. The perils of class design is that every class needs to fill a special niche in order to make sure they don’t get left out of any content. So if one class already fills the melee dps niche, don’t expect your healer-hybrid to seriously threaten their domination. People love classes though, I think it’s because they like to know exactly what role is expected of them. In a sense, you can really identify with a class. I think it’s lazy design and hope that someday we’ll get back to more skill based design choices but I see no sign of it any time soon.

I predicted confidently when I first read the class list that although healers in WAR might put out decent damage, it wouldn’t be close to the pure dps. Or if it was, it would be much more limited. That’s how class based games work. If it wasn’t the case, a large proportion of the player base would be crying foul.

Every time I’ve played a game which promised good dps for the healers, it’s been nerfed or else they’ve been forced to severely cut back their healing. The smite cleric nerfs in DaoC are legendary. Priests in WoW got heavily nerfed in beta due to doing ‘too much’ damage (they did later fix shadow priests for TBC, and that’s probably the best spec for a healer-dps that I’ve seen so far.) LotRO actually had to give minstrels more soloability by adding a stance to switch to dps at a penalty to healing. However much we beg for our new healers to be good damage dealers, I don’t think a game would go live with that design choice.

And as long as they stick with the “dps is king” motto, it’s going to be more of the second class citizen.

(NDA note: in case it needed to be said, this is not a comment on what is currently in beta. It’s my prediction for the state of play when the game goes live.)

Sexing up the Hammerer

Poor old Hammerers, they’ve been taken back into development to be tuned up and made more exciting because earlier versions just weren’t striking the right chord. From the class survey, there are a few holdouts who are true to their tough dwarf monster-bashers but the profession isn’t really catching players’ imagination.

So what we have is a dwarf. With a hammer. It hits stuff. With the hammer.

Here are a few ideas on how Mythic could make Hammerers more interesting.

1. Let you name the hammer. Think of it like a pet rock. Just like a pet but without the annoying pathing glitches. And who could fail to know fear when the announcement goes out over a battlefield, “Gobbo1 was killed by Beardybloke wielding the mighty ComeAndHaveAGoIfYouThinkYoureHardEnough”

2. Hit the ground with the hammer and cause a minor earthquake. Or even better, actually leave dents in the terrain. There’s nothing like pointless random devastation to let a fighter know that he’s really left a mark.

3. Access to a special beer scooter that will transport the Hammerer and her mates from one city to another when they get drunk enough. Or in other words, for when they get really hammered!

4. Ability to swing the hammer at the knees of a taller enemy (which, lets face it, is everyone) and knock them down to the Hammerer’s own size.

5. The hammer of warning! Wave the hammer around the Hammerers head and let it go with a mighty yell alerting undiscovered tribes in the amazon basin to his battle prowess. Don’t forget to hammer in the morning and the evening too.

What would you like to see in a melee dps class?