Saturday, January 31, 2009

I have returned!

This will be quick, but some good news on my end. I've finally gotten XP re-installed on my PC about a week after I had to reformat and my original XP disc wasn't installing properly. I had to wait for the OEM to send me a new disc, which took a few days. 

But now I'm back and will be resuming my regular play schedule. Unfortunately, since I'm a week behind, I'm going to have to cancel my plans to raise my Renown Rank on my Black Orc and just get back to straight leveling. And my Ironbreaker needs to push through those last few ranks to 40. I guess I can always raise my RR at 40...sigh.

But at least I can finally play again, the nights of no WAR were getting old, but I was able to come up with new ideas, like the comic while my PC was down. Well, it's back to the battlefield tonight, and I'll see you all ingame.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1.29.09. Taking the Oath

And so, the cycle is complete. Over two years ago, I heard about an upcoming MMO called Warhammer Online. Being a current WoW player, I was intrigued by the new game, and so I started to try to learn about it. I found out it was based on the Warhammer Fantasy IP, and that it was being developed my Mythic, who was known as the developer of Dark Age of Camelot, another MMO that was based around a player-versus-player mechanic. I wanted to know more about the setting and it was recommended to me that I try out the first book in the Gotrek and Felix series, Trollslayer. 

I was captivated by the book. I admit that the earlier stories were pulpy and a bit short, but it was my first glimpse into the setting of Warhammer Fantasy. It is a world far from most author's visions of a fantasy setting. It is dark, dirty and grim. Heroes are few and far between. The Empire seethes with corruption, while the Dwarfs keep mostly to their mountain holds and the Elves hold themselves apart in Ulthuan.

And here we have Gotrek, the most (in)famous of Slayers, accompanied by his companion and Rememberer, Felix Jaeger, Gotrek is possibly the most successful Slayer in all Warhammer lore. Or perhaps the most unsuccessful, depending on your interpretation. Wielding what is rumored to be one of the legendary axes of the Dwarf ancestor god, Grimnir, Gotrek has slain trolls, skaven, daemons, vampires, dark elves and greenskins unnumbered. Driven to take the Slayer Oath to seek a glorious death in battle by a secret shame, he wishes for the story of his death to be recorded by Felix in an epic poem. I loved the premise, and am now a huge Gotrek and Felix fan.

And so, when the Careers for WAR were finally announced, I was disheartened by the fact that the Slayer was not an available career for the Dwarf race. Instead the Hammerer was to be implemented. I had wanted so badly to play a Slayer and emulate the character of Gotrek, like any child who pretends to be a favorite super-hero from a comic book. Still, I was glad that WAR was coming along in development, and I would finally get to have my adventures in the world I had only read about. Some time later, when the report that four cities and four careers, including the Hammerer had been temporarily dropped from the game, I was bummed of course, since who wants content to be cut? But deep in the back of my head the thought that there was some hope for the Slayer to be added after all still burned. 

Later still, WAR launches, and I am having a great time with it, playing many careers. Some time after launch, they re-introduce the Knight of Blazing Sun and the Blackguard, but still no word on the last two cut careers. Rumors surface that one of the cut classes is going to be cut completely from the game, and the forums go wild with speculation. Many players start petitions demanding the Slayer, and many arguments rage across the internet. 

Of course, you know the rest. After weeks of hints and speculation, today Mythic has made some huge announcements, including the official confirmation of the Slayer and Choppa careers, as well as events based on their launch. For more on the news, check the official website at

And the latest newsletter is now up on the official site, and it has a great overview of the Slayer and Choppa background and mechanics, as well as great artwork.

At last I can play as a Slayer, the character that drew me into Warhammer in the very beginning. I'm going to take the Slayer Oath. In a twist on my usual playstyle, my Slayer will be my role-playing character, and his adventures will be the source of the material for the webcomic I am starting. I honestly can't wait. This is what I have been hoping to do for years. I'm very excited about this whole deal, and again I am grateful to Mythic for listening to the fans and bringing in the Slayer, who is possibly the most iconic character in all of Warhammer. 

The latest newsletter is now up on the official site, and it has a great overview of the Slayer and Choppa background and mechanics, as well as great artwork. 

And now the long process of selecting a name and coming up with a backstory for my Slayer begins. Yup, I'm one of those guys that actually sits around for days trying to come up with a name for his toons. I expect to take even more time with name selection for the Slayer, since he'll be an RP character. This is gonna take a while. On a related note, this might be the cure for my altitis, at least for a little while.

I know this post has been rambling and all over the place, but hey, I'm hyped and my mind is running a million miles a minute.

Slayers! Choppas and Tomb Kings! NEWS!

Well, today is the big day that Mythic has been hinting at and they do not disappoint. If you have been keeping up, you know that Mythic has been heavily hinting at several "big" announcements this past few weeks. And today is the day. From Warhammeralliance, here is a quick rundown on the big points:

New Careers, the Choppa and Slayer.

More events, namely the Bitter Rivals introduction event for the new Careers.

Also, a Live Expansion starting in March, along with other stuff like the Night of Murder event. 

All this stuff leads up to the Rise of the Tomb Kings event that opens up the Land of the Dead dungeon zone. Many players have referred to it as the successor to DaoC's Darkness Falls dungeon. I'm not too familiar with Daoc, but it is basically a PvE dungeon with great rewards and challenges, that is only unlocked for your realm through RvR. So, this actually sounds pretty sweet, it would definitely add more incentive for RvR and be another reward to aim for.

There is really way too much for me to go into so I suggest perusing the links below. Some cool artwork at some of those links too.

Awesome news, now more than ever, it's a great time to be playing Warhammer Online.

Edit: CALLED IT! /gloat

Monday, January 26, 2009

Starting a New Venture

So, with my time off from WAR, I've had some time to browse many blogs and forums and think up new ideas. And so in conjunction with my upcoming role-playing character, who will be a Slayer, I've decided to start a web-based comic. Yes, I know, there are already a ton of webcomics out there and all that, but bear with me. 

The comic will follow his adventures through Warhammer Online in an in-universe style. I figure, since the game is already laid out in a chapter-based fashion, it would be interesting to follow my character as he progresses through the quests and the storyline. And since I'm going to play him as an RP character, I can use that as a narrative base. I dabble in manga-style art as a hobby, and I enjoy drawing my characters. Also, most of the WAR-based webcomics are done in a self-contained episodic format, and I plan to have a single coherent narrative.

I plan to give him a small backstory, with his overall quest taking him to Karak Kadrin, the Slayer Keep. Of course, there will be a certain amount of poetic license involved, but I'll try and not stray too far from the source material. I hope I can also take common experiences, such as open RvR and keep sieges, and integrate them into the storyline. 

This is a completely new venture for me, and I honestly have no idea how often I'm gonna be putting out pages, and I'm still debating what format I'm going to use. I'm probably going to try to release 3-6 pages every week and a half or so. I'm currently sketching up character designs and other background art. Check back in a few weeks and I'll try to have some sketches uploaded. Wish me luck, and lets hope I don't completely suck at this.

Image credit to Chuck Voit-kev-itch and

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Technical difficulties, please bear with us.

Well, my gaming PC is out of commission for at least a few days. I had to reformat following a trojan infection, but when it came to reinstalling Windows XP, the disc I had originally received from the manufacturer wasn't being recognized. After speaking to tech support, they decided it must be a bum disc and they will ship one out to me within the next few days.

Unfortunately this means until then I will be unable to play WAR. However, I will still be browsing forums, blogs and news, and I will still be updating this blog. I do not expect to be away from the game for too long, And I hope you will continue to check back with me here. I'll see you guys back ingame soon. Now... what to do with all the extra free time?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Alting Around... Again.

So, yeah. Being the easily swayed weakling that I am, after I read a discussion on the forums I frequent about Shadow Warriors, I just had to roll one up. I hit Rank 11 last night, and I also maxed out my RvR Influence for the T1 Empire vs, Chaos pairing. So now I'm running around New Emskrank looking for fights and just messing around til I hit 12 and have to move on to the next tier. 

I gotta say, I'm enjoying the Shadow Warrior a lot! I had rolled one up shortly after release, but shelved him at Rank 3 because the career didn't grab me right away. I didn't realize how much of a difference getting all my stances would make on my fun factor. Skirmish stance, which is the mid-range mobile dps tree, is simply so much fun to play. It feels great being able to run around whilst firing off bow attacks. Once I got Spiral-Fletched Arrows and Takedown, the career just got so fun to play. I know that my melee stance, Assault, is considered the best stance to be in, but I still like the mobility I get from Skirmish.

Another amazing thing is the versatility of the career. In a single engagement, I can select say a Witch Elf from range and begin dpsing with my bow in Scout stance. As they get closer, I switch into Skirmish and snare and DoT, then kite a bit. When they close to melee I can swap into Assault stance which buffs my Armor and  Strength, and bring them down with very respectable melee dps. I love having the potential to switch roles in an instant, which sometimes confuses my targets. Today I started picking off a Witch Elf from range, she started to run, so I chased her down in Skirmish, DoT-ing and dpsing. She ran behind some cover to break my line of sight, but I guess she didn't expect me to flip into Assault and run her down, where I cut her down in melee. I guess that move confused the other Destro players around her, because she got no heals, and I was able to make my escape. I guess they didn't expect an archer to move in and finish the job at close range. Now I'm aware the situation I've described is pretty much an ideal situation, but still, it's pretty cool when it happens.

Perusing the forums reveals that veteran SW players do have several issues with the class, but the general feeling is that the career needs some tweaks, but is doing quite well otherwise. Also, the more experienced players agree that the career is in very good shape, but I'll reserve judgement until I have several more ranks under my belt.


Well, I am very close to 14 now, and have some more observations about the career. I still enjoy the Shadow Warrior, but I've come across my first issues. One is just a graphical issue, when I equip my helm it changes my selected hair into a "default" hairstyle that's the same for every SW of the same gender. Only the original color is retained. Not a big deal really, as I like my selected hair and don't mind turning the helm graphic off.

I've also gotten a chance to play some Mourkain's Temple. Overall, I enjoy it on my SW. I'm much squishier than I've ever been before, and it's a very different mindset to play as a ranged damage dealer as opposed to tanking or melee dpsing. I like finding good vantage points for sniping, and killing or harassing squishies and healers. Once the focus fire finds me though, I'm dead meat. Still, it's a great change of pace, and a great feeling to take down that Witch Elf who just popped out behind the healing line. 

PvE-wise, my Shadow Warrior is competent, if a bit repetitive. Of course, I'm still low in Tier 2, and don't have access yet to many of my abilities. I'm spending lots of time in Assault Stance, basically DoT-ing and pulling from range until the mob closes and then finishing it off in melee. I try to kite a bit, but I think Skirmish could use a bit more range, and it seems that it's quicker to just pull, then melee.

I'll continue to try and level this guy, who I have named Zanshin, after the Japanese martial arts term referring to a certain mental state. I hope that I can somehow find time to level all my other characters before the Slayer/Choppa is implemented. Still, we shall see where I stand on the Shadow Warrior some ranks from now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

News, Rumors and Developments.

First off I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates these past several days. I've been busy playing more than writing, and I've also been waiting to see how some news items developed. So let's see:

If you have been following up on WAR news and rumors, I'm sure you have already read about the speculation going around that Mythic has suffered some job losses following EA scaling down it's operations by about 10%. I'm not really going to comment much on this, as the reaction has run the full the spectrum of internet discourse already, and I don't feel like rehashing previous statements. I will state however that I feel many players are blowing it a bit out of proportion, and I feel Mark Jacobs has done an admirable job in addressing these rumors and communicating to the player base. As always, I continue to have faith in Mythic. More info can be found at and at

On a more optimistic note, I hope you saw Keen's post over at www, regarding that "teaser package" that was recently sent to him by Mythic. The package contained some hair dye, an electric razor and a card bearing the WAR logo and the date 1.29.2009. If you know anything about Warhammer lore, the super obvious hint is that the Slayer will be announced as the new Dwarf MDPS career on that date. You know, Slayers shave their hair into a crest and dye it before taking up the Slayer oath to seek a glorious death in battle to atone for some past shame or failure. So that looks dead-on as a hint towards Slayers. Now for the Greenskin MDPS, you could argue that the razor might also represent the Choppa being re-introduced, but that's a bit tenuous. Still, Slayers look to be in, and this is the place where I gloat and claim to have seen it coming all along. Which I kinda did, heh.

If you'd like to learn more about Slayers, I heartily recommend that you purchase the first Gotrek and Felix Omnibus novel, which should be available at your local bookstore. It's a great read, and it was my first exposure to the Warhammer setting.

Also, I rolled another alt. Yes, I know I'll never hit 40 at this rate, but I have settled into a comfortable rhythm with my leveling on my Ironbreaker and Black Orc. I just hit 37 on the IB and am preparing to max my influence for my current chapter before moving on, and I hit 30 on my Blorc. I plan to RvR on my Blorc for the next 2 ranks to get my Renown Rank up, which currently sits at a dismal 17. I know, that's super low. But i'll be fixing that soon, hopefully. More news on that alt later.

That's it for this post, I'll see you guys on the battlefield!

Friday, January 16, 2009

An Altoholic's Lament, and other Stories.

As I've said before, I'm an admitted altoholic. I have played and leveled eleven separate characters, spread over two servers and both factions. Currently, I've settled on my Black Orc and Ironbreaker, and I play a Black Guard as well, though not as often. However, I seem do be having the hardest time picking on an Order DPS career. On that note, I've leveled a Witch Hunter to 24, an Engineer to 19 and a White Lion to 11.

I constantly bounce around forums, reading up on the different careers and getting excited about them. But this also leaves me swapping characters very often, I'll get amped up and play one career for a while, then get excited about another one and shelve my current character. It also doesn't help that the Order DPS characters are widely believed to suffer from several issues. Now I say "widely believed", this is just opinion, and is only supported by feedback from players and the forums. Sometimes I agree with the perceived issues, sometimes not. My problems are as follows:


- Most viable tree is the AoE tree, Grenadier. Unfortunately, this tree does not really fit my playstyle, but is considered the best overall. It has a few issues, but has fewer problems than Rifleman or Tinkerer. Rifleman, the single-target tree, was recently buffed, but still has several bugs. This is the tree I would have played, but it has some issues with abilities not working properly, as well as abilities taking longer to cast than they should. And the Tinkerer tree getting Electromagnet nerfed pretty much killed it. Add to this the problem with landmines not deploying properly, turret issues and others. I still like the Engineer, but he needs several fixes to make him live up to his real potential.

White Lion:

- The WL is actually in pretty good shape, the main complaint is that the lion's survivability is very low, and if the lion dies the WL loses a lot of utility. Some players get around this by not using the lion at all and slotting the Loner tactic to supplement their damage. While this is a viable workaround, I feel that the lion needs to either be buffed, or have it's stats scale with it's masters' stats. Another issue is the apparent uselessness of several tactics, as well as certain tactics simply not working properly. Also, they are poncy elves.

Witch Hunter:

-The WH, while widely viewed as inferior to their mirror, the Witch Elf, is really not as gimped as many players believe. All three Mastery trees are considered viable, and each does well in their respective roles. The major complaint is that the WE Kiss system is viewed as being superior to the WH's Blessed Bullet system. This assertion is definitely arguable, with players on both sides coming up with figures that support either system as being "better". So for now, I'm going  to defer to my belief that equivalent complaints are a sign of good balance. The itemization for WH's could definitely use some tweaks. Where a Witch Elf only has to stack Strength as a primary stat, Witch Hunters have to get both Strength and Ballistic Skill, as STR determines the effectiveness of their melee attacks and some Executions, while BS affects their pistol Executions. Now WH's have a naturally high BS value to compensate, but I can't help but wonder if instead Mythic could implement a system where a portion of their STR value was added to their Ballistics. This is similar to how Shadow Warriors in Assault Stance have their Ballistics from items also count towards their STR. Something like that would simplify gearing for the WH, as well as be a minor buff overall.


These guys are actually a really big reason I have trouble sticking to a DPS alt. You see, in the back of my mind the knowledge that these careers are going to be announced and re-implemented soon is putting a serious damper on my desire to get really into one of my current alts. I'm holding back, mentally at least, until I can see just what the new careers will be and how they'll work. Even though I have my own theories about them, nothing is set in stone until they are introduced. Only then will I be able to impartially gauge all the careers and finally figure out what I want to go with. And maybe not even then, heh. 

Hopefully, it won't be too long until the announcement. I really just wish they'd hurry it up and give us some news that we can theoryhammer about. Honestly, sometimes I feel that I enjoy theorizing about careers, mastery builds and abilities more than actually playing the game? But I guess it's because WAR so fully engages my imagination that I enjoy playing it so much.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Expansion Theories

In a recent post, Mark Jacobs alludes heavily to a "big" announcement at the end of this month. Many rumors are swirling around regarding this pronouncement, and my guild has been discussing this ingame and on our forums. From these conversations, these are my theories.

Dwarf and Greenskin Melee DPS Careers: 

This is the most probable announcement, and it is also likely the easiest to implement, from Mythic's viewpoint. After all, they've probably already done most of the work involved, since the careers were cut early on. They have had a good bit of time to tweak and iterate these careers. And with the successful re-launch of the Blackguard and Knight of the Blazing Sun, anticipation is high regarding the last two careers. The Choppa and Slayer are favored to be the new careers. The Hammerer is widely rumored to be out, and a Euro CSR has stated that the Hammerer is a "relic of beta". This statement was in regards to some players being able to access the Hammerer career on the PTS for a short time. The CSR went on to state that this was a bug, and the Hammerer was not going to be made available.  As far as implementation goes, Choppa and Slayer npcs, with complete combat animations are currently ingame, and so all Mythic would really have to do is flesh out the itemization and mechanics for the careers. I am totally going to roll one, or both careers when they hit release.

New Races:

My money is on Skaven for Destruction and Lizardmen for Order. Many of my guildies call for a Vampire Counts/Bretonnian pairing. I disagree based on several factors. First, I feel that both Order and Destruction players will have problems with the races. I can already see Destruction not wanting "emo vampires" and Order complaining about "lame knights". The KotBS was criticized for not looking as cool as other careers, due to the use of feathers and codpieces in their design. In addition, Vampire Counts in particular do not usually directly involve themselves in events. Instead, Vampires usually stay behind the scenes and manipulate events from the shadows. Also, Vampires are extremely powerful beings, with a slow rate of population growth. It would be very difficult to implement them as even a player race, since lore-wise even fledgling vampires are significantly stronger than even seasoned warriors. The balancing would be tricky. Bretonnians are not as difficult to implement lore-wise, but they are pretty similar to the Empire,  at least on a basic aesthetic level. Which touches on why Skaven/Lizardmen make more sense.

Skaven and Lizardmen are aesthetically very different from all the other races. If you recall, four out of six races are mirrors of each other visually. Empire and Chaos are both humans, and High Elves and Dark Elves are technically the same race. These races are differentiated mainly by the appearance of their gear and the overall color scheme of their cultures. Were you to remove all the gear from a Chosen and a KotBS, and stand them side by side, they would be very similar in appearance. The distinctive profiles of the careers are created mainly by the gear they wear and in the Zealots' case, the posture.

Whereas Skaven and the Lizardmen would be immediately recognizable and obviously different from all the other races, in the same way that Dwarfs and Greenskins  are. Skaven are already ingame, and so again, they would only need some touchup to animations and gear. Lizardmen would need to be designed from scratch, of course

The main problem I see with the Skaven/Lizardmen pairing would be that both races don't really mesh seamlessly with the existing Cities. I mean, it's kind of hard to imagine Lizardmen casually walking through the streets of Altdorf! The Skaven would be easier to integrate into the Inevitable City, but I think the best thing to do would be to give them their own capitals. Yes, Skavenblight and Itza/Tlaxtlan!(?)

And so, to properly introduce these new races and their cities, we EXPANSION!

Announcing a new expansion is listed as number one in Snafzg's post, "Mythic's Top Ten Priorities for Warhammer Online in 2009". I heartily agree with this as it gives us rabid gamers something to look forward to and theoryhammer over. Don't underestimate the anticipation that forms around MMO expansions, and this sort of buzz is what got many of us playing WAR. A major feature of course would be the new races and capitals. I don't think we need another 10 Ranks though, I'd like to see WAR move away from the whole deal of adding 10 levels every expansion. Instead, I'd like horizontal expansion. New quests, new weapons, new items, while still keeping the highest level "new" items on a similar level as existing endgame items. I don't want expansions to invalidate previous content. I would much prefer that the items look different and "new", while being equally, NOT MORE, effective than current gear.

So say a weapon from the Lost Vale does 78 dps with +67 Strength/Wounds, while a similar weapon from the Lustian dungeon have identical stats, but a very different look. Look to WoW for proof of this lesson, the expansions are great, but they basically trivialize old content, and new items are leaps and bounds better than existing content, so everyone blows through to level cap, grinds out the uber gear, and everyone looks exactly the same again...

I'd like the option to have my own look, while still maintaining effectiveness. For example, I'd like to have one of my characters have a savage/Lustrian based look, with obsidian weapons and armor from a new dungeon,  while another character can have the Darkpromise set, but perform at the same level as the first guy with the new gear.

As always these are just theories and predictions, but it would be so cool to be right on at least one point. That way, when they announce Skaven and Lizardmen, I can say...Called it! 

What do you want the big announcement to be about?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good times and bad, in Open RvR.

I've been doing a lot of PvE grinding recently, doing quests, PQs and accruing Influence for chapter Influence rewards. I have fallen behind on my RvR though, and my renown rank is falling behind my natural rank. So after reading on our forums that some of my guildies were going to be concentrating more on ORvR and maybe picking up some ORvR Influence rewards, I decided to do the same. Now, I don't have that much experience in Open RvR, I did a couple of keep assaults, some incidental skirmishes, but this was all some time ago. Before the RvR influence system and the stability improvements to the servers. Since then, I had been concentrating more on leveling and PvE, with some scenarios thrown in.

I logged in, asked if there were any RvR groups going and one of my guildies said that she was running with a warband out the the Empire vs Chaos Tier 3 pairing. I said I'd be joining her, and flew my Black Orc  out to Talabecland. Now the warband she was in was currently full, but I told her that I would just tag along and hope for an invite in the event someone had to leave. We proceeded to take BO's and keeps, almost completely locking Tier 3 within an hour. There was very little resistance from Order, perhaps small fights here and there. When we had almost taken all the keeps and objectives, the warband got word that Order had retaken Ghrond's Sacristy. We fly back to the Elf pairing and begin the siege.

The initial push went smoothly and we got through the first 2 doors, and got ready on the bottom floor. Order was harrying our flanks the whole time, but most of them holed up in the lord's room and jumped us when we pushed up the ramp. We were doing okay, but it was wearing us down. The warband broke, and many of us died and had to release. But as we were running back it turned out that we had a healer survive, and he rezzed half the  warband back into the bottom room. We continued the push, picking off the rest of the Order who had survived our initial attack. We went from a near-wipe to taking the keep and locking the pairing for our side. I even got a cool belt!

A few days later...I'm questing in the Elf pairing when I hear the call over the alliance chat that Order is close to locking the pairing. I ride to join the attack at Ghrond's, which we are trying to take to stall the zone flipping. However, this assault is less well-coordinated and the BO's are still held by Order. We break both doors down, and begin the push into the lord's room. However, Order's resistance is stiff and they have a good number of tanks and healer holed up with the lord. Our assault stalls in the lord room, the defenders just burn us down. We semi-wipe twice, regroup, and get beaten back. Our warband leader decides to cut our losses, and I leave the warband after rezzing back at the warcamp. Well, that was a wash. 

What was different this time? It's really hard to tell. It seemed that the defense had a better number of tanks and healers, and this time we didn't seem as coordinated. The BO's were not taken, and thus guard respawn was a lot quicker. But you know, it could have been anything. It was still fairly fun, and I'll be doing it again soon. I was surprised at how quickly the RvR influence accrued, and I'll be trying to get some more sieges under my belt. I look forward to earning my RvR epics soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fortress Changes, Experience Buffs and other News

If you guys haven't been checking the Herald, or were away from your computer for the past couple of days, chances are you may have missed some very significant news updates. First off, Mythic has buffed experience gain AGAIN. Now players Rank 20 through 33 will have a significantly faster leveling curve. This means that all of Tier 3 and part of Tier 4 gets the buff. So once again, they are giving me a chance to get one of my many played alts to T4, at least. This stokes me out and my goal of getting one character to max level before I roll yet another alt will be easier to realize.

Speaking of alts, Mark Jacobs' most recent post on the Herald hints at some big announcements coming at the end of this month. This coupled with MJ's reference to Snafzg's "Mythic's Top Ten Priorities for Warhammer Online in 2009" post tells me we may be getting a sneak peek at the first expansion! If true, this is super exciting news, and forum-goers all over are heavily speculating on what new races or content we may be getting. I'm hoping for a Skaven/Lizardmen pairing myself. I can also see them implementing new capitals, such as Karak Eight Peaks and Karaz-a-Karak for the DvG pairing.

However, I want them to announce the new MDPS careers for the Dwarfs and Greenskins and implement them soon! I want my Slayer! I want me Choppa! WAAAGH!

Okay, now that I'm no longer hyperventilating, lets look at some of the other news. In response to the crashing issues plaguing fortress captures, Mythic is implementing a throttling system, that will funnel players under a certain level attempting to to enter the fortress area to warcamps, once a certain population threshold has been met. This will address the issue of low-level players joining a fortress defense and lagging the server through overpopulation of the fortress area, leading to a crash. As pop thresholds are surpassed, the game will winnow out lower level players until at max threshold, only 39-40 Rank players will be allowed into the zone. 

Now opinion is split on this, with some players lauding the attempts to fix the crashes and some players disliking the fact that lower levels can not join the defense as easily. Myself, I'm for this change, because unfortunately I've seen people telling other players to zone into the fortress defense, no matter the level, and force a server crash when their fort is under attack. I myself do not agree that flooding the tier with lowbies that can't effectively fight and overloading the server to be a valid tactic. Reports have also been made of groups of lowbies sitting in the fort spamming emotes and AoEs. 

And last, Mythic is already looking at tweaking the Fortress Lord stats to ensure that they are in line with the number of players participating the the siege, as well as looking at other ways to optimizing the code for additional stability. Also, they are considering giving Fortresses their own zone, both to improve stability and to increase the amount of players that can participate in a siege.

Well, that's your news wrap-up for today, I can't wait for the big announcement at the end of the month, whatever it may be. It's a good time to be a WAR player, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the future. Take care, gents.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Grass always seems Greener

So I was leveling one of my characters last night, when one of my guildies, a new guy from his guild tag, grumbles that he is having a terrible losing streak in the T3 scenarios (he is rank 22). I empathize, saying I'm sorry to hear it. A bit later, he complains about the healers not throwing him heals, as well has healers ignoring him as he goes down in front of them. Again I commiserate, being a tank player myself, when the tank gets no heals, that's usually not a good sign. Shortly after this he makes the following statement:

"This sucks, I can see this game going the way of Hellgate"

Surprised, I strongly disagree with this statement, and point out that Hellgate was bogged down by problems since launch, including a borked subscription type and character deletion bugs. He then says that people are going to quit since the players in his faction are no good and that the factions are so unbalanced. To which I counter that healers not healing is not a game balance issue. It's a team quality issue, which is why you ought to roll around with guildies or friends if possible. I add that I hear this sort of complaint over on my characters on the other faction. It's a grass-is-greener issue. 

At this point another guildie pipes up that the bad pugs unbalance the game. Again I retort that bad pugs are part of the MM in MMO, and nearly every player has to deal with bad pugs at some point. I reiterate that bad players are not a design or balance issue, but rather a community issue. Everyone has had those nights in which every player in your groups seems to be in the running for most useless teammate of the year. I've had weekends where my team just couldn't pull it together, and I've had times where my group steamrolls over everything again and again. The thing is, I hear this kind of talk regularly, from both sides. So if anything the equivalent amount of bitching each side does is actually a very good indication that the game is better balanced than one would suspect.

Sure there are certain bugs and issues that affect balance in the game, but these are being ironed out on a regular basis by Mythic. It saddens me when players point fingers at inept group mates or players who make a bad decision in combat and yell "unbalanced!". Competency in a video game is not something that can be coded into the game. Players need to take responsibility instead of disavowing their own contribution to the success or failure of a team. Also, we need to take into account that it will always seem that we have weaker classes or dumber faction-mates, but the other side is probably saying the exact same things about us. As someone who plays both sides, trust me, both factions are equally broken and are arguably pretty balanced.

Players unfortunately have this tendency to look for reasons beyond their control when things are going badly for their team or faction. Now, sometimes players are correct. There are many well-known and documented bugs and exploits that can be extremely frustrating to deal with in the game. But a great majority of gamers will cry for nerfs or buffs, or suggest rebalancing instead of dealing with the resources available to them and learning to play smarter. Smart players find ways to bypass or minimize these perceived imbalances without resorting to whining. Remember, don't worry about the stuff that you can't control, and focus on the variables that you can control.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where are all the Greenskin Novels and Lore?

One of the things I really enjoy about WAR and the Warhammer IP is the background lore and novels fleshing out the setting. I don't really RP, but I do enjoy reading novels that are related to whatever career I happen to be putting time into. It kind of helps me get into the mindset of the character I am playing.  I read the Gotrek and Felix series as a starting point, I read Oathbreaker when I started up my Ironbreaker  (I still can't find Grudge Bearer). I went through the Malus Darkblade series as I started my Blackguard. 

And so following this pattern, when I picked up my Black Orc, Kurok, and started leveling him again I started to look for related Greenskin lore. And well, there really isn't any. There is of course the background info associated with the tabletop game and other stuff like that. But looking through fails to turn up a single novel based on the Greenskins as protagonists. Orcs and Gobbos are usually used as cannon fodder bad guys, or perhaps a strong warboss is the main baddie. In general, their lives and motivations aren't examined too closely, as they are basically there to kill things and to be killed by the heroes.

I can sort of understand why. Greenskins are big, bloodthirsty, loud, violent slabs of muscle, prone to random cannibalism and unreasoning ferocity. Not exactly the most sympathetic characters to write about. The Greenskins and Gobbos are akin to an elemental force, except they are sentient, live to fight, and they hate you. Now there are novels that deal with marauders in the Chaos Wastes as well as champions of Khorne. Now I do realize that the protagonists of these books are still human. They may be cruel or insane, they could be fanatical worshippers of the Ruinous Powers, but they still retain their basic, relatable humanity. They are characters the reader can still empathize with, even though they are basically "evil". These characters tend to be anti-heroes, being intrinsically iniquitous themselves, but fighting against a greater malefactor that poses a larger threat to the world. 

Another example is Malus Darkblade, who by any moral compass is a thoroughly detestable individual. He is a slaver, a murderer and worse. Yet we root for him because he is flung into conflict against forces that can wreak destruction on a much greater scale than Malus ever could.

Based on these examples I feel that there is room for a Greenskin novel. Don't forget that Greenskins are basically a bunch of football hooligans that kill anyone who they don't like in da name of Gork and Mork. They even talk in a Cockney accent! Greenskins also are famous for their infighting and beatin' on da gits and bashin' on da stunties. Let's have the premise that the book can focus on a particular Orc, we can call him Rippa. The book can follow his life starting from his first kill, culminating with his epic defeat of a rival Boss, thus consolidating the tribes into a great WAAAGH! The book can detail his many battles and epic kills, in his struggle to be "Da Big Boss". You could throw in a Gobbo sidekick, but that's a bit too derivative for my taste. It would also be cool for him to possibly loot or find a particularly powerful magic weapon or artifact, just to spice things up. I mean, many movies don't have much more plot than stringing together action pieces, so why couldn't a novel work on the same mechanic? 

Even if some readers are turned off by a book that is basically about an Orc killing things over and over on his way to the top, I'm sure that many more readers would be thrilled to catch a glimpse into the life and culture of the Orcs and Gobbos. Greenskins are one of the most popular armies in the tabletop game, for a reason. They are considered one of the more entertaining armies to play, due to their flavor and fun factor.

There you have it. Games Workshop, I don't need credit or anything for this idea, just use it. Get C.L. Werner or William King on it stat! Perhaps we could have Nathan Long even. So, is there anything you gents would like to see in a Greenskin novel?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Playing with a different mindset.

Let me give you a bit of background about my playing style. I'm an incorrigible altaholic. I play various alts, usually fixating on one or two steadily for many ranks. Then I lose interest and retire them for weeks, sometimes months. The result of this of course, is that I'm an extremely slow leveler. Currently, I have yet to attain a single 40. Instead, I now have a 35 IB, a 20 Blackguard and Black Orc. I also leveled an Engineer to 19, a White Lion to 12, a Witch Hunter to 24 and a Marauder to 28. This does not include other sub rank-11 alts. So yeah, I have a bit of a problem. I don't want to aimlessly grind or quest, so I thought up a way to have a more goal-oriented play-style that was still efficient and had nice rewards.

And so, I had to come up with a way to structure my already limited playing time in order to get any leveling done. What I have done was to play in "shifts". Basically, I will play the character with the largest amount of rest xp to maximize the xp/hour. I try to get to the next rank, or pretty cIose, before I log the character and play the next one in line. This ensures I always have a decent amount of rest xp built up every time I play that character. Doing this also helps me with burnout, as I don't play the same character more than two or three sessions in a row. 

I usually do straight chapter questing, in my character's native pairing. I usually have the goal of making a level and-a-half to two levels for every two chapters. Although to do this, I try to grind out at least level 2 Influence on each chapter. This opens up the chapter's "transition" quest that takes you to the next chapter, and also provides me with an occasional gear upgrade. I will max out influence if the Elite reward is really good for my career or is a significant upgrade. I'll do kill collector mobs, but only if they happen to be in the way, or are directly part  of a quest. I like to save them in case I need some extra xp to get me to the next rank.

Now I occasionally still hit plateaus in my leveling curve, but I have found a few ways to make them tolerable. One of my tactics is to look up Influence rewards from different pairings and try to find items that I really want. I try to find chapters that are relatively close to my level, so I can use the items for a decent amount of time. I'll fly out there, hoof it to the chapter, check in with the Rally Masters and Kill Collectors and proceed to find a relatively close PQ. I grind out Stage One of the PQ, sometimes do a bit of Stage Two if I can hack it, then head back to town to sell off my junk. While I wait for Stage Two to reset, I'll either look for another PQ at Stage One, or look for Kill Collector mobs to grind on while waiting on the first PQ to  reset itself. Check the Kill Collector npc every time you head back to town. Repeat until the Elite reward is unlocked. This is usually extremely efficient in terms of xp per hour, especially if the PQ's are relatively close to each other and the  Kill Collector mobs aren't too far from the chapter hubs or PQs. And it nets me a shiny new upgrade item!

Doing this usually gets me a good chunk of xp, often enough to get me to the next chapter. However, this is not always the case. In this situation I will travel to other pairings and do the appropriate-level quests there. I don't really like to do this, as I prefer to save those quests for a character I'm leveling in that area. And I also make a habit to read quest text and all associated chapter lore. 

Now you may have noticed I haven't mentioned doing scenarios yet, and you may wonder if I do scenarios at all. In fact, I do play scenarios, but in moderated increments. I queue while questing, mostly. I try to get one scenario in for every quest that I complete. I don't hang out at the warcamp and only do the scenario quests. I'll grab the scenario quests at the warcamp, sure. But I'll be out in the world mostly killing and questing. Depending on your server and the time of day, you should be doing a scenario roughly every 5-10 minutes. If the scenario comes up while in the middle of a quest, I'll hit the "give me a minute" option, kill my mob and find a safe spot. Afterwards, I get back on my quest groove and continue with my day. 

However, I do NOT queue for scenarios while grinding out PQs or Kill Collector mobs, as I find it throws me off my groove. Now I drop off my scenario quests when I'm ready to log out for the day, before I get back to my capital city. Back in the capital, I check my auctions, maybe put some stuff up on the auction house, maybe do some crafting, and log out. I play anywhere between one to three hours in a given day, spread out over two or three playing sessions.

And that's how I work my "shifts". I find this to be an efficient gaming method, and it allows me to feel that I am making progress whilst avoiding burnout on any particular character. Also this goal-oriented method avoids excessive grinding and usually rewards you with items and experience for quest completion,  thus enabling a feeling of accomplishment. This isn't suggesting that THIS is how you MUST play your game. It's just my system, and I like it. If you feel like trying it and it help you out, cool! If it doesn't do anything for you, that's fine as well. I hope you glean something worthwhile from this, and safe travels to ya!

 G'nite, gents.

A New Year for Warhammer, Wishes and WAAAGH!

Hello everyone, and welcome to Grumble and Mutter. This is my inaugural post for this blog and for this year. As a gamer, I'm sure many of you are looking forward to the new year and the potential it brings. Personally, I'm eagerly awaiting the announcement of the new MDPS Careers for Dwarfs and Greenskins. I'm hoping for the Slayer and Choppa, myself. I'll be rolling up one of each for sure, which does not do my altitis any favors. Also, I'm sure you all have heard the rumors about official forums for Warhammer Online being implemented. I'm unsure where I stand on this issue, as a convincing argument can be made either way.

On another note, I've made a resolution for this year. I have decided to forego playing multiple alts and to focus on getting my two Destro characters to Rank 40 within the next 60 days. This was an idea I put forth in my guilds forums a little while ago, to help us focus and get more characters to max level. And so several of my guildies have now pledged to join the "60 days to 40" movement, and hopefully we can all reach this goal. We are pretty casual overall, but it never hurts to have a goal to shoot for. It's not a must-do, but rather a friendly challenge to ourselves in order to grow and prosper.

As far as wishes go, I really wish that populations stabilize across the realms and factions. Warhammer is a game that relies heavily on having a healthy, balanced population on a server for optimal RvR performance and enjoyment. The server transfers have alleviated this to a large degree. Indeed, both my guilds availed ourselves of this transfer and the consensus on both sides is that it was the right choice. We now enjoy much faster scenario queues as well as a larger and more active population, especially in Tier 4. I feel that Mythic should take the sometimes painful but necessary step of server mergers. Take several of the lowest pop servers and merge them into a few well-populated servers. Server ghost towns are fun for no one, especially in a game like this. 

I see that Mythic stands on the cusp of being the "best" alternative to the behemoth that is WoW. Mythic has the tools, they have a dedicated fanbase, competent developers and coders, and an amazing IP. Also, the fact that Mark Jacobs is a bona-fide fanatic about WAR doesn't hurt at all. They've shown that they are ready to tweak, patch and adjust what needs to be adjusted. They have done a commendable job of communicating with the player base, something that is especially refreshing if you come from WoW and remember Blue very rarely, if ever communicating with the players. They have shown their commitment to providing regular infusions of new content into the game. In three months, WAR has seen a major rebalancing patch, careers re-inplemented, and the ORvR Influence system introduced. Mythic has the potential to be a major player in the MMO scene, maybe even number one in the unforeseen future. I hope they achieve their goals, and bring us players along for the ride. I hope that we will all  be part of the WAAAGH!!