Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New PTS patch notes, a closer look.

It looks like another batch of notes got thrown up on the Herald recently, there are some bangers in there, so lets take another look. Selected notes of interest are reposted below, I'm not going to cover everything, as I can only comment on things within my own experience.

Black Orc

* Balance Changes

* Da Toughest!: Wound buff increased from previously reduced value.

Good news! I'm stoked to see that Mythic has somewhat reversed their decision to nerf Da Toughest bellow. I always loved Da Toughest, and hearing that it got nerfed was a bummer. Now I can't tell you precisely how much they un-nerfed it, but any improvement is good. Black Orcs' main attribute is their survivability, and taking away from that is a mistake in my opinion. Hopefully we will see them continue to be unkillable hunks of green anger.

* Da Biggest!: This ability will now grant a stat buff to nearby group members.

* Da Bestest!: This ability has been renamed to “Guud at Big Choppin!” and will now increase damage and Parry rate while using a great weapon.

These two notes are major for BO's, with the change from An' Bestest to Gud at Big Choppin!. The new tactic is now similar to the Greataxe Mastery tactic that Ironbreakers have, which currently gives them an additional 5% Parry and 10% Damage when a greatweapon is equipped. This helps define the Da Brawla tree as a 2-handed dps Mastery path. Previously the Brawla tree had a slight lack of focus on greatweapons, with many BO's sticking to the sword and board. Now with the new tactic, using a greatweapon will be a more viable choice as compared to the survivability of a shield. 

Also, having Da Biggest now include the stat buff from An' Bestest is a cool buff to the group utility of a Black Orc, if they choose to forego Da 'Toughest. More utility is always welcome.

* Skull Thumper: The additional damage caused by this ability's debuff has been increased, is now mitigated as Corporeal damage, and no longer gains an increase from stats. Additionally, the damage from this effect will show up on its own line in the combat log.".

* Loudmouth: The damage of this ability has been increased and changed to Corporeal. However, this damage will not critically hit or receive benefit from stats.

Nice to see more damage from Skull Thumper, but also of note is the shift towards certain damage types for each career. In this case, BO's now putting out Corporeal damage as a supplemental damage type. I'm pretty excited about this because it will introduce a rock/paper/scissors variable to the game. Combined with the upcoming hardcap and diminishing returns on resists, players will have better resists against certain careers while being more vulnerable to others. You could stack Corp and Spirit resists to help against sorcerers, but be weaker against Elemental damage. I like the direction Mythic is going with this, as this will make RvR encounters a bit more strategic.

I'm not going to comment on the Choppa/Slayer notes, as they are fairly short and are mostly minor tweaks and bugfixes.

Chosen and Knobs get a HUGE buff with these latest notes, as auras/commands no longer cost AP, and their tactic that previously made them free is now converted to a 5AP/sec buff for each aura they have running. This helps the AP issues these careers were having, as well as encouraging them to twist auras to fully benefit from the new tactic. Almost enough to make me go back to either my Knob or Chosen. Almost.

Witch Hunters get another big buff in my opinion, as now all their pistol finishers scale based on Strength, instead of Ballistic Skill. This was a huge issue for them since WH's had to split their stat allocation at endgame between STR and Ballistics, compared to Witch Elves only having to stack STR. Witch Hunters had a naturally high base Ballistics value to compensate, but the issue persisted. Once the itemization is rebalanced to reflect the change, I think we will see the number of "buff WH plz" in the forums drop dramatically. Also, Witch Hunters are being adjusted to do Spiritual damage as their supplemental damage type, in keeping with the shift I mentioned earlier.

All in all, some great news for some classes. I'm sorry if I didn't address your career or notes, but I'll be keeping an eye out for more developments a they occur.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why I'm not currently testing the Slayer.

This is weird. Very weird. It's just that I'm not on the PTS, playing the crap outta the new careers. Why? Well, its a bit complicated. First off I have a strange desire not to "spoil" anything for myself. I want my first login on the Slayer to be a completely new and fresh experience. But in the back of my head I have a little voice telling me I need to get on the PTS, for multiple reasons. For one thing, I can finalize my Slayer design, as I'll have access to all the needed tattoo art and other details I need to finish my character's design for the comic. Also, I can give useful feedback, as I pride myself on being really good about bug reporting, class feedback etc. None of this "OMG Slayers nedd a buff now our Deeps is teh suck!!" I can only imagine what the PTS forums are looking like about now, Although from my brief sojourn on the official forums I can see that Mythic is not playing around when it comes to deleting/locking flames and stupid trolling posts. Kudos to them. The WoW forums were such a cesspool because of this lack of efficient moderation.

Strangely, I'm not in a hurry to try out the Choppa either. I'm still keeping up with all the game news, browsing multiple forums and websites to soak up information as it is released. I'm still committed to playing the game, although a recent change in my work schedule has limited my evening playtime. I expect to get back on track once my body fully acclimatizes to waking up early or when the Bitter Rivals event begins, whichever comes first.

In a way, I'm glad we have tons of people on the PTS testing away. Mainly because a lot of these players are interested primarily in trying something new, but aren't really going to be making the Slayer or Choppa their main. Of course, I'm sure we will see the same pattern of activity that immediately followed the release of the Blackguard and Knight of the Blazing Sun. Namely, we'll see tons of Slayers and Choppa in Tier 1, and early Tier 2, with numbers dropping into Tiers 3 and 4. At least, the PTS lets people get it out of their system, or decide whether or not they want to stick with the new classes.

With any luck, the event will go live sooner rather than later, and when it does I'll be hopping on and getting that influence. I want my Slayer on day one baby. Thank god the weekend is coming up, that ouughta give me a good amount of playtime, I need to get back in the groove.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Here we go again. My Destruction guild has had the worst luck with picking servers since launch. We were originally on Ulthuan, then moved over to Red Eye Mountain. Now server transfers have been opened up from REM to more populated servers, like Iron Rock and Monolith. We are preparing to pick a server again, but in the meantime... Well my destro guild has had some big highs and low lows in our time. We went from being a 300+ member guild shortly after launch, to having a huge drop-off in active players after the free month was up. We had some hardcore players split because we were primarily casual, and finally server population issues forced us to move to Red Eye Mountain.

Once on Red Eye. we experienced several cycles of more hardcore members outleveling the rest, hitting level cap, and then joining other guilds because we did not have enough Rank 40's on at a given time to go do dungeons. I know, dungeons. In a RvR game. Big pet peeve, long story. This happened more than a few times, it became a self-fulfilling spiral of events. We somehow never achieved a critical mass of enough 40s to enable us to begin endgame. Some stalwarts continued to play, and coordinate with our allied guilds, pugging or playing with guildies as the situation arose. Also, REM started having the same pop issues we had on Ulthuan, and many players started new alts over at Dark Crag.

During this time, my Order guild has steadily grown through it all, even though we also had to transfer from our original home on Averheim. Now on the Badlands server, we are doing well. We aren't huge, but we have a much larger percentage of active players in all level ranges, including at Rank 40. We also have a very active core group of officers that the rest of guild rallies around. My first 40 is on there, Stahlrek the Ironbreaker, but it looks like he will be semi-retired once the Slayer goes live.

So for now, it looks like my destro characters will all be on indefinite hold until we get a destination server finalized. Sigh. The Bitter Rivals event can't start soon enough.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Busy Weekend.

Well, title about says it all. I had a pretty full weekend, unfortunately it was not busy playing WAR. We had a family member stay over and of course that's a black hole of time consumption, as many of you know. I did hit Rank 40 Friday night, so I'm stoked on that. Got my Sentinel belt equipped, and now the process starts of getting my pitiful renown rank up. At least, until the Slayer debuts. On Badlands, Altdorf got attacked, but it looks like it didn't progress past the contested stage. Some of my guildies have expressed frustration with the current City siege mechanic, but I'm still optimistic. I'm going to give Mythic a chance to get on the issues, they are always working on improving the game.

In other news, looks like the Night of Murder event is over. I personally didn't get all hyped up for this one, but I heard they implemented the influence curve better this time, as opposed to the grind-tastic Keg End. Although, word is that initially Keg End influence was too fast at first, Mythic heard about players blow through it in a short time, and over-nerfed the inf gain. Unfortunately right after that was a major holiday, and it seems no one made it back to fix the inf curve til after the holiday. Which resulted in a massively slow inf gain throughout the event. Well, now we can start getting hyped on the Bitter Rivals event that is just around the corner. 

I really need to amp up my sketching for this comic project I'm working on, I do have the first page or two planned out and I've finalized the Slayer design I'm using. Of course, details for the design will change when the Slayer goes live, as I plan to use the ingame hair and tattoo designs, which I won't know how they look exactly until launch. I still haven't figured out many of the mechanics for doing a webcomic, but I'm open to learning. I've been lurking artwork threads and if you have a link that has something like a step-by-step guide I'd appreciate it. Anyway, I'll see you guys in a couple days, hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Perusing the Patch Notes for 1.2. Part Three.

Still with me here? Good. All right, now on to itemization and other cool stuff.

* Many mounts have been renamed. Existing mounts will have their names updated.

* We have added two additional mount variants for each race. These have been added to the Stable masters in the capital cities.

* We have added three additional mount variants exclusive to guilds only. These can be purchased by visiting the Guild Quartermaster once your guild reaches Guild Rank 25.

* We have added three new improved mounts (Faster & Lower dismount chance) exclusive to guilds only. These can be purchased by visiting the Guild Quartermaster once your guild reaches Guild Rank 37.

More mounts? Faster mounts? New and Improved mounts? Yes please. These all get a big thumbs up from me here. Having more options is always a good thing, and the "epic" mounts for your guild is another addition to the benefits of being in a stable, progressive guild. if nothing else, this will add some visual variety to the mount system. Having vaguely similar looking horses across Order for the Empire and High Elves is getting a bit old, At least Destruction has three very distinctive mounts for their races, but Order needs some help. And no I don't hate the Dwarfcopter.

RvR Fortress raids have received an update for their itemization in version 1.2. The focus of this update was to better reward players for completion of a Fortress capture as well as give players who do not successfully capture a Fortress some chance at improved loot.

* The Fortresses now feature the same world drop items found in the high-level city dungeons. This includes rare drop "Watcher" weapons.

* The Fortress PQ bags now feature new, unique Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare items.

* Non-PQ target mobs within the Fortresses, including general mobs and the guards of the lords, now have a chance to drop the Conqueror Belt. The belt will no longer drop from Gold Bags.

* Additionally, the Conqueror Belt has been made bind-on-equip. This only affects new instances of the Conqueror Belt. Any Conquerer Belts found prior to this patch will remain bind-on-pickup.

* The number of PQ reward bags that drop in Fortresses has been increased to 30, with 12 Gold Bags for each completion.

Now we're getting into some meaty stuff. Adding more chances for gear to drop, both off the mobs and the gold bags will significantly speed gearing up for successful Fortress takers, enabling them to push the campaign along faster and more effectively. Plus 30 Bags, 12 of which are Gold? Awesome. You could theoretically completely gear up two groups in days by consistently taking Forts. I can see smart guilds putting together 12-man strikeforces specifically to siege Forts and acquire gear. Kudos again to Mythic for easing the gear acquisition curve. The more people geared and warded, the closer we are to a successful City capture.

Capital Cities

The capital cities have been updated with numerous adjusted items and new drops. Players should find items dropped in capital cities to be more rewarding than previously.

City Invader PQs:

* The Invader PQs now feature unique Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare items in the PQ bags.

* Both Attacker and Defender versions of these PQs offer 12 PQ reward bags. Attackers will continue to receive a greater number of Gold Bags for victory.

City Warlord PQs:

* The Warlord PQs now feature unique Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare dropped items from monsters and mini-bosses within the PQ instances.

* The Warlord PQs also now feature unique Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare items in the PQ bags, including potent Warlord weapons.

* The number of PQ reward bags that drop in these PQs has been increased to 18, with 4 Gold Bags for each completion.

Palace Encounters:

New, unique Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare items have been added to the King's Palace instances. These items are available as dropped items from all monsters in the dungeon, except the Kings.

* Unique weapons are now offered on the sub-bosses within the King's Palace instances.

Same as above, we are seeing efforts to increase gear acquisition for players. Comments above apply.

Lets see, lotsa bug fixes, etc etc.

Zone Control Domination

To help place more emphasis on Keep claiming and defense, as well as to combat the "defense by not defending" strategy, we are introducing the Zone Control Domination mechanic. With this system, players who take and hold all Battlefield Objectives and claim Keeps in a contested zone (in Tier 4) or a shared RvR lake (in Tiers 2 and 3) have the opportunity to capture that zone, forgoing the standard mechanics of Zone Control. Each Battlefield Objective and Keep will be worth 1 Domination Point. To capture a zone via the Domination rules, your Realm must have all 6 Domination Points. In Tiers 2 and 3, capturing all six points in a shared RvR lake will give the capturing Realm control of the entire Tier. These are represented as small pip marks on the Zone Control Bar. Battlefield Objectives and Keeps have different requirements for earning their Domination Point, as follows:

* To earn a Domination Point from a Battlefield Objective, it must be owned by your realm for 30 minutes.

* To earn a Domination Point from a Keep, it must be claimed by a Guild and then held for 2 hours. If you lose control of a Battlefield Objective or Keep at any time, you lose the Domination Point.

* Multiple Domination Points cannot be gained from a single source (for example, it isn't possible to get 6 Domination Points by capturing Martyr's Square 6 times).

* If a zone that was taken over by Zone Domination is put into a contested state, all timers and Domination Points are reset.

Ahh, here we are. The vaunted Zone Domination system. Before I comment, I'm going to repost something a fellow forum-goer said about this that I found to encapsulate my feelings precisely.

"The domination system is not that hard to understand. If people are zerging back and forth and keeps and BOs are changing hands frequently, nobody gets any domination points and things work exactly like they do now because the domination stuff sits on top of the existing victory point system. The only place it's really going to kick in is when one side takes all the keeps and BOs in a pairing, and the other side says "everyone run PQs and scenarios to prevent the zone from locking!" I've seen that happen a couple times now. If you were diligent enough (and didn't get whipped in scenarios), you could keep the other side from locking a zone indefinitely, even though they held all the objectives, and you never had to set foot in the RvR lake to do it.

The domination system means you can no longer do that forever (or until everyone gets tired and goes to bed). You can stall for a while, but after at most 30 minutes BO domination points start to come in, and after at most 2 hours keep domination points start to come in, and if the attackers get enough domination points, just those and the objective points will probably be enough for zone control. So if you're defending and you really need to prevent that zone lock to prevent a fortress siege, which could prevent the razing of your capital city, you need to get back in the RvR lake and take some of those objectives back. That's ultimately what the domination system does, force the fighting back into the RvR lakes where it belongs."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Credit goes to vonPoonBurGer on the PA forums.

New RvR Chain Quests

* The rally call has gone out! The WAR rages on and help is needed at every warcamp across the realms! New quest-givers have appeared in every warcamp and will offer players brand spanking new chain quests. 'Chain' quests are a new feature that will allow players to complete a set of linked quests and repeat the 'chain' again once they have completed all of the quests in the 'chain.' The new quests will be available from NPCs near the Rallymasters in the warcamps, and they are designed to reward players for participating in open RVR.

Basically, we are getting RvR dailies. I'm liking this addition, because every additional incentive to push players into RvR counts. Players will take the path of least resistance, and if ORvR starts to become a viable leveling alternative thanks to quests like these, I can only see that as a good thing. Lets get players out fighting, and if we need to throw goodies at them for doing it, then fine. Look at the resurgence of ORvR after the RvR influence system came out. Same thing. 

* We are introducing the new Rally Call system. At various intervals, players will be called to join the battle in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 RvR lakes. A button will appear near the mini-map, enabling willing participants to jump right into the action.  

I touched on this earlier, I think. Free teleports to the fight? I'm down for that, makes it easier to get groups and guilds to where they need to be quickly.

Well, that concludes my roundup of patch notes that I find interesting. I apologize if I didn't talk about your career or your bug. The patch notes are just too massive. I'm going to try and write a last update and summary later on. It's been quite a slog, thanks for reading this far.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Perusing the Patch Notes for 1.2. Part Two

All right, continuing with the patch notes analysis here. I may skip many notes, especially ones pertaining to classes that I have no personal experience playing. If something really jumps out at me, I will address it. Otherwise don't be surprised if I skip your class or bug entirely.


* Dire Shielding: This Tactic will no longer cause Bane Shield to stack when multiple Chosen in the same group use the ability.

This comes as a welcome change to AoE-based classes, especially Engineers. There have been reports of this ability stacking so much that Engineers and Bright Wizards would drop some AoE's down, only to get nearly backlashed into the ground as the stacking proc on all affected targets hit them back. It also looks like Bane Shield got a cooldown to only trigger once every 2 seconds per character.


* Stone Breaker: This ability's % armor debuff has now been replaced with a flat value armor debuff.

Same deal as the BO with this tweak.


* Terrible Embrace: This ability's build time has been reduced to 1 second, and its cooldown time increased to 30 seconds.

* Terrible Embrace: This ability's cost has been reduced. Additionally, it will now continue to build while moving.

Fetch: This ability's range has been reduced to 65 feet, and its cost has been reduced.  Additionally, this ability's cooldown has been increased to 30 seconds. (White Lion)

This is both a slight nerf, and a decent buff. Yes the Marauder will not be able to pull as often, but being able to move while using the ability in order to keep the target within range is a huge deal. The White Lions are up in arms about this, especially combined with the range nerf to Fetch.

Shadow Warrior:

Bug Fixes:

* Split Arrows: You can now hit keep doors with Spiral-Fletched Arrow while this Tactic is slotted.

* The bonuses from Scout, Assault, and Skirmish Stance will now stack with other bonuses.

Balance Changes:

* Eye Shot: This ability can now be used while moving.

* Fell the Weak: The build time for this ability has been reduced to 0 seconds, but the cost has been increased.

The Split Arrows fix is a huge deal for Skirmish SW's, especially during keep sieges. Previously if this tactic was slotted, Spiral-Fletched Arrow wound not hit keep doors, which I'm sure you will see is a big problem. Now Skirmish SW's don't have to use different abilities other than SFA when bringing down a keep door.

Eye Shot now working when you move is a fix that has been asked for since beta, as it was the only Skirmish ability that required the SW to stand still. Now it is more consistent with the other abilities in the tree.

Fell the Weak becoming instant is great. The ability was previously very difficult to use effectively, due to the requirement that the target be below 20% health to get maximum damage, and that it was a 2 second cast. Now a Shadow Warrior will be able to use it on reaction, and won't have to gauge the travel time as much. I'm stoked about this myself.


* Balanced Accuracy: This Tactic now affects all strikes of Ether Dance, Dragon's Talon, Crashing Wave, and Whispering Winds

SM's are getting a good amount of buffs and bug fixes in the patch, but I wanted to point this out in particular. This tactic is a mirror of the Blorc tactic Gork Smash! which is a 10/20% buff to critical strike rate when in the two higher stances. The SM version now affects all hits from their combo, while the Blorc version still only affects the first hit of the five from their T'ree Hit Combo. I'm pretty disappointed with this, I had hoped Mythic would have noted that the functionality of this tactic was mirrored on both factions and buffed both, instead of just one version.

* All chapters throughout the game within Tiers two through four have received a pass on Public Quest difficulty, much like what was previously done within Tier one. All affected Chapters now have an "Easy", "Normal", and "Hard" Public Quest. Public Quest points on the map have also been updated to reflect these difficulty levels as well as suggested player numbers to successfully complete.

* Numerous epic quests within the Dwarf vs. Greenskin pairing have been modified to be more immersive and rewarding. For many this means that the length of the quests have been increased in order to tell a grander story. The experience and coin rewards have been adjusted to account for these changes.

This is pretty cool to see that we are getting more difficulty options with the PQs. As many people know, I love solo farming PQs to grind up my influence for that chapter. I like this a lot. Also, good to see that the Dwarf/Greenskin quests are getting looked at. This is my favorite pairing, I mean who doesn't like to kill gobbos and stunties. As the Dwarfs and Greenskins are my favorite races, this is a cool change for me. I hope that there is an uptick in the overall experience for this tier.


We have introduced a number of improvements to crafting in version 1.2. The focus of these changes was to better pair-off specific gathering skills with specific production skills, making it easier for crafters to be self-sufficient. In addition, we have made a concentrated effort to improve the leveling curves of all trade skills as well as reduce the number of different materials needed to make various items. In addition to these changes, we have also introduced a number of new player-crafted products. Please refer to the sections on each trade skill below for more specific information.


* The Apothecary production skill will now receive the majority of its materials from the Butchering and Cultivation gathering skills.

* The Talisman Crafting production skill will now receive the majority of its materials from the Scavenging and Salvaging skills.

* Players can right-click on crafting items in the backpack to auto-move them to the appropriate slot when their crafting window is open.

* The Ctrl-Right-Click user interaction has been added for item conversion, e.g. plants being converted back into seeds.

* Salvaging will now display the percentage chance of success on the item tooltip.

* Talisman crafting no longer removes materials from the crafting window if there are more left in the stack.

* Apothecary ingredient subtypes (Gold Dust, Essence, etc.) are now reflected in the item list view and item tooltips.

This is pretty sweet stuff overall. I'm glad to see that they are clarifying the Crafting system and laying out the best pairing for gathering and production professions. I'm a bit miffed by the slight nerf to Scavenging, now that Scavenging no longer produces as many items for multiple professions. Used to be you could procure materials for Cultivation, Apothecary and Talisman making. Now it is tied more closely to Talisman making, with Cult and Butchering being tied to Apothecary instead. I had Scavenging purely as a money-making profession on multiple characters. Looks like I'll be picking up Butchering or Cultivation in the future.

There are quite a few more tweaks to crafting being added as well, including new components being introduced and some new systems being implemented. For example Cultivation now gets something called Reaping.

Plant Reaping:

Plant reaping is a new skill given to Cultivators. This allows the Cultivator to harvest most plants for seeds as well as for Apothecary stabilizers.

* Reaping a plant will consume the plant and produce 2 - 4 seeds for that plant type

* Reaping a plant will also produce 1 - 2 stabilizers that can be used in Apothecary.

Guild Crafting Merchants

We have made adjustments to the guild merchants who sell crafting supplies. These changes represent adjustments needed after we refined many recipes and skill-up progressions. In addition, we have added the first of many "Guild Exclusive" crafting materials that can make unique crafted items that are not available any other way.

* Crafting materials from skill 0 - 74 will appear on guild merchant at Guild Rank 7.

* Crafting materials from skill 75 - 149 will appear on the guild merchant at Guild Rank 21.

* Crafting materials for skill 150+ will appear on the guild merchant at Guild Rank 28.

* A new, exclusive Skill 75 Apothecary main ingredients are available at Guild Rank 7.

* A new, exclusive Skill 150 Apothecary main ingredients are available at Guild Rank 21.

* A new exclusive Skill 200 Apothecary main ingredients are available at Guild Rank 28.

The above is another great incentive for guild advancement. It's good to see Mythic offering more rewards for the guild system, while simultaneously NOT rendering player-acquired ingredients sold on the Auction House obsolete.

Next post, we'll take a look at the itemization improvements currently planned. These are some long notes, so bear with me here as I slowly get through each section. 

Perusing the Patch Notes for 1.2. Part One.

Well, the highly-awaited 1.2 patch notes hit the Herald last night, and as expected the community is abuzz with discussion of all the proposed changes, tweaks, bug fixes and nerfs. Mark Jacobs obviously wasn't kidding when he said they were going to be 50-plus pages in length. I'm going to go through the notes in order, pointing out specific ones that catch my eye and giving you my thoughts on them. This may be a really long post, so I may split it into multiple parts. Without further ado, let us begin.

We already know about the Slayer and Choppa, as well as the Twisting tower scenario, but something that just jumped out at me was this:

*Answer the Call to Arms with new Realm vs. Realm gameplay enhancements! Introducing the new Open RvR Rallying Cry system that summons you to key battles for Tiers 1 and 2.

What is this? I've never heard about this before, I even missed it when going over the notes last night. From the sound of it, it could be a button similar to the scenario button, except that instead of porting you to a scenario, it posts you to where there is heavy RvR occurring in your tier. This could have a great impact on ORvR, as well as making open RvR more dynamic. Instead of flying out to the camp to defend the keep, your warband can be ported to the area in question and be able to join the siege that much faster. Of course it remains to be seen how close to the action you get ported, this could be a great feature, so long as it's implemented properly.

* New treasures await! Across-the-board itemization improvements have been made to the Fortresses, world dungeons, and city dungeons of WAR, including better world drops, quest rewards, Influence rewards, and more!

Better loot is always good, not much to see here, maybe I'll see less Willpower on the non-healing gear.

* Crafting System Improvements! We've made many improvements to the game's crafting system, including pairing-off specific gathering skills with specific production skills in order to make crafters more self-sufficient. Also, the leveling curve of trade skills has been improved and fewer components are required to create items. Last, but certainly not least, is the addition of new craftable items!

This is great news for dedicated crafters. I personally am not a big crafter, but I scavenge on quite a few characters to make some extra money, mostly. I tried leveling Apothecary and Talisman making, but I tend to fall behind in my crafting since I outlevel the mob range that drops the mats that I need. I have yet to hit 200 on any profession save for scavenging. More details on this later.

* Multiple mail attachments! Now you can send several attached items with a single mail message.

Amen. Thanks Mythic, this was sorely needed.

* When instructed to attack a target on the other side of a closed door, pets will no longer run through the door.

This fix was a long time coming, and hopefully after this is implemented we will see much less complaining from players regarding Engineer turrets or Magus pets continuing to attack them through closed doors. Good fix.

* When attempting to loot from a pile of corpses, the client will now prioritize corpses with loot on them over empty corpses, making it easier to loot.

This. I'm very happy about this. I would get very frustrated on my tanks when I would AoE grind and then be unable to loot some mobs because they would be stacked on each other and I simply would be unable to loot. This is a minor fix, but highly appreciated.

* Monsters which flee from combat due to being at low hit points will now immediately begin moving at a slower speed.

This too. Many players don't experience this, as they kill mobs one at a time, but tanks and certain dps classes who AoE grind know the pain of dying, not because of a bad pull, but because a mob will flee exceedingly quickly, then evade to full health and return to the attack because its original position was within aggro range. I've died to this more than once. 

* All Disorient effects cast by players will no longer stack. Only the most powerful Disorient will affect the target.

* We have adjusted the way that the Disorient debuff will effect characters. Instead of increasing all ability cast times by a flat value, it will now increase cast times by a % of the total cast time of the spell. As a result, melee abilities and instant cast spells will no longer be affected by Disorient since their cast time is effectively 0 seconds. Specific abilities for each career affected by this change are noted below.

This is a pretty major change to the disorient mechanic, it hits Marauders pretty hard, and other classes in varying degrees. This is a pretty major buff for melee, as the majority of their attacks are instant, and so will no longer be affected by disorients. I'm pretty stoked on this personally, as I play melee characters mostly, and now melee will be a lot more effective in T4, simply because they will be able to maintain their damage output without being setback by disorients.

* All absorb shield buffs have increased in effectiveness, and will now absorb roughly 50% more damage in most cases. Specific abilities for each career affected by this change are noted below.

Looks like a blanket buff to damage shields, although how many careers have those? I know SM's and BG's have them, BO's can spec for one, and the Zealot and Runepriest have them as well. I'll have to do more research to see how many careers are affected by this change.

Black Orc:

* Wot armor?: This ability has had its stacking % armor debuff replaced with a fixed-value armor debuff. Additionally, it will now apply its maximum debuff value in a single hit.

* Da Toughest: This ability will now grant less Wounds and health to the Black Orc when it triggers.

* Shut Yer Face: This ability will now deal more damage and cost no AP to activate.

* Down Ya Go: This ability will now deal more damage, knock the target down for 3 seconds, and cost no AP to activate.

* T'ree Hit Combo: This ability will now deal more damage but will receive less damage contribution from stats.

* Not in da Face!: This ability will now deal more damage and also make you and your group briefly immune to disabling effects.

* Dat Was Great!: This Tactic has been changed to match the changes to Wot armor?. The Tactic will now increase the duration of Wot armor?, and reduce the victim's Toughness.

Looks like all the percentage-based armor debuffs have been replaced by a flat value, this sounds painful, but it's a bit early to tell the long-term effect of this change. I do like using the armor debuffs on my tanks, but so long as the flat value isn't completely pitiful the ability will still be useful in my rotations. 

I'm sad to see the Da Toughest nerf, I loved that thing in PvE hopefully Mythic will change the value it gains from speccing into the Da Toughest tree, so Blorcs built for survivability will continue to get decent returns from this ability. Good to see the AP requirement removed from Shut Yer Face and Down Ya Go, it was kind of dumb to have these finishers consume AP while others did not. This helps with the AP consumption issues the BO has from time to time. Not in da Face! conferring a short immunity to diable adds some utility, as well as helping the BO spearhead a push into the enemy ranks.

I'm unsure about T'ree Hit Combo, as it seems to be both a buff and a nerf, and testing will be required to see how it shakes out.

There are a lot more notes to go through, and I will continue updating throughout the day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My take on the Slayer and Choppa footage from NY Comic Con

First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates over the past few days. It's been a busy weekend, both for me and the game. The NY Comic Con just ended yesterday, and over the weekend there has been quite a bit of news, So much new info is now out there that I though I'd wait a little while for the dust to settle, and go over the news that interests me. Mythic debuted the Choppa and the Slayer at Comic Con, and Adam Gershowitz showed off the first hands-on footage for both careers in two videos over at Tentonhammer. There was also new info on improved mounts for high-level guilds.

On the whole, the Slayer and Choppa are shaping up quite nicely, Their rage mechanic icon, while different for each career of course, looked easy to read and the look of both careers at level 40 was great. I thought the Choppa looked nice and threatening in the demo, wiv lotsa spiky bitz stuck on his armor. I know the Choppa is technically medium armor, but the gear showed looked very close to heavy, with spikes, chains, heads on spikes and all that lot. He also had some cool-looking choppas, with what appeared to be either goat or ram skulls mounted onto the axes, very bad-ass. Adam also showed off character customization options for the Slayer. In addition to the default options, Slayers get to select some pretty awesome tattoos, as well as a few beard options that are exclusive(!) to the career. Even the mohawk has some nifty choices, ranging from the classic crest to a split mohawk and even a more ragged look to the basic crest.

Gameplay-wise the two careers came off looking pretty similar, which is expected. Lots of cool slashing and spinning moves and effects, and some nice autoattack animations as well. Adam stated that both careers would have Mastery paths split into Greatweapons, Dual-wielding and Balanced. The Greatweapon Mastery focuses on big hits that drain your rage bar, the Dual-wield path is based on getting your rage as high up as possible and staying in the redzone dishing out tons of damage/AoE while getting real squishy, and the Balanced is well, balanced. One interesting thing is that the AoE for these two careers will be significantly different from that used by other careers. Adam stated that their AoE will be more powerful, but with a caveat: it will be somewhat random. Your selected target will always be hit by the AoE, but surrounding targets will be hit at random. They will NOT be hit by every AoE attack, but when they are hit, it will hit them harder. So instead of the typical sustained dps of other AoE, it will be a sort of "burst" dps.

The unpredictability of this new type of AoE is crucial to the Slayer/Choppa's role of "linebreaker". The new careers will be best used to slam into bunched opponents and bursting down random targets in the with their AoE, with the random nature of their AoE making it difficult for healers to focus heal. Properly played, the Slayer and Choppa will be great for breaking up the assist train and breaking up the zerg. This sounds pretty stonking great, and I already have visions of slamming into a packed group and dealing out death left and right.

Some other shared abilities include a move in which the Choppa/Slayer lashes out at anyone attacking them for several seconds. now what makes this different from the other "backlash" type abilities is that it looks like it hits back for the same damage as a regular attack, instead of a preset value. This could lead to some pretty hard-hitting revenge hits. I didn't see too many morale abilities except for one Adam called "Doomseeker" in which the Slayer sweeps with both weapons around him in an arc twice, which I assume hits for MASSIVE DAMAGE.

That's mainly what I was paying attention to over the weekend. I hit 39 on my IB as well. I ought to hit 40 this week, and I have the boots for the Conqueror set and the Sentinel belt waiting for me in the bank. Thanks for bearing with me, and I'll be seeing you guys again in a few days.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

300,000 subs. More Mythic layoffs. Now what?

Despite the title of the post, this is not another doom and gloom article. I'm as saddened as anyone else about the layoffs, but I'm still cautiously optimistic regarding the future of WAR. Let me give you some personal background about the type of work I do. I work in retail, in a very niche/enthusiast activity. My business, aside from the apparel sales is based on an activity that is completely dependent on discretionary income. In this economy, my industry is hurting fairly badly, many brands have gone out of business, and many retailers have failed as well. This past Christmas season was the worst one we've had in seven years. The business I work for is still doing okay, but we have tightened our belts and cut costs as much as possible. Sales are down, and we are hurting, but we are much luckier than most.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me attempt to address the current topics.

1. 300,000 Subs: All right, this is the current number of active subs released by Mythic. This is down from the 750,000 number of active subs that was released some months ago. Of course, people are freaking out, and proclaiming that the end is nigh, without looking at the whole picture. The 750K was when many players had yet to renew their subscription after the first free month. Also, the WotLK and Mines of Moria expansions were released shortly after this period. And one should not be surprised that many players flocked back to WoW and Lotro, after WAR's "new MMO shine" had worn off. I will also admit that WAR had many more issues in those days than it does now. One must commend Mythic for the sheer amount of new and improved content that they delivered since then. We are currently looking at the final two careers debuting soon, a huge new zone and dungeon from the Lands of the Dead expansion. Stability is much improved etc, etc. Of course there still are issues and bugs, but you have to give credit where credit is due. In the limited timeframe since launch, the amount of "new and better" stuff Mythic has released is incredible. 

Lets not forget, 300K subs is roughly 4.5 MILLION dollars every month. That's nothing to scoff at. I also positively believe that number of active subs will only go up. Many players are excited about the upcoming expansion content and new careers. I also personally know many players coming back to play the Slayer and Choppa. 300K is a solid base to grow from, and I think that it will slowly grow over time, like the playerbase for EvE and Lotro. At 4.5 mil a month, I think WAR will continue to be a profit-maker for EA

2. Mythic layoffs: This sucks. Flat out. But it is not completely unexpected. Again, despite claims that the video game industry is "recession-proof", the game industry is hurting. Just like many other industries all over the world. We have seen publishers and game developers go under, Free Radical, Ensemble and more. THQ is laying off close to a quarter of its staff. In recent months as you all know, Mythic has had to let go playtester, QA and CS staff, and now some members of the design and dev teams. Mark Jacobs has taken flak for both not speaking out fast enough, and when he did speak about it, he took flak for the tone of his post. I don't envy MJ is position right now. He's damned either way, no matter what he says or does. He has to try for a positive spin, otherwise the doomsayers will point to his post and say that even the main guy is telling people the game is doomed. Players still criticized the positive parts of his statement, saying that he's not in touch with reality and that he's living in his own happy world. See what I mean?

Even though I personally would have liked him to say "yes, this sucks, and we feel bad about this", I understand why he can't. He also can not remain silent. I may not feel great about his statement, but I understand the position that he is in. He has to do the best he can, within the resources available to him. It's a bad bit of news, but Mythic has to keep its chin up. I know that the remaining team feel terrible about what has happened, even though they may make no official statement about it.

3. Now what?: Actually, syncaine over at Hardcore Casual just put up a great post on a similar subject. Basically, WAR is in the post-tourist/launch hype stage. Many players that played WAR at launch because it was the new hot MMO have left, and a core number of players have settled down. A large infusion of new content is coming soon, and while enthusiasm has been dampened by the sad news, anticipation is still high for the new careers and events. Mythic is in a position to consolidate their gains, and solidify their position. I think that so long as Mythic shows it's commitment to the playerbase and continues to add and tweak content we can expect some steady growth for the game. I think that 500k active subs by the end of the year is a doable goal. Also that 300K is a good, solid number, especially when compared to the numbers of games (Other than Wow) that are considered successful, such as Lotro or CoH/V.

Personally, I would like Mythic to start minor consolidation of the servers. I'm not speaking of massive server merges, but reducing the number of servers by 15-20% would be a good start towards helping the population on some lower-pop servers. Also, opening up an Asian client and getting some Korean and Chinese players going, could only be a good thing for the bottom line. Don't forget that WoW gets a considerable chunk of its revenues from the Chinese market. So much revenue in fact, that Blizzard actually modified some parts of the game in order to conform to Chinese tastes and laws. No reason that WAR can't get a slice of that pie.

In closing, I'm gonna say that I've already made my choice. I'm sticking with WAR. I want to experience the new expansion. I want to play as the new careers. I'm sad about the layoffs, but I hope that if WAR does well, and the economy starts doing better, we may see some people rehired. I want to help the game grow. The Warhammer IP is so unique, and i doubt we will see another MMO based on the Warhammer Fantasy IP again anytime soon if WAR fails. This may be a one-time chance for us all. For crying out loud, you can play a freaking SLAYER! Show your pride! Give your free trials to your buddies! Go fight! For Order! For Destruction! For the Emperor! WAAAGH!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My naming woes.

So, I'm one of those guys that really gets into the characters that I play. I'll sometimes talk in character, as the mood strikes me. And one of the things I spend the most time on when creating a character is the name. I'll sit and brainstorm for hours sometimes, trying to come up with a good name for the character I'm creating. I usually try to avoid derivative names, as well as pop culture references. No Leeroy Jenkins or Sephiroths here. I also try to match the name to the race and class of the character. I do make exceptions, such as naming my Shadow Warrior, Zanshin. Zanshin is a Japanese word relating to a certain mental state in martial arts, including archery. So the name works for me, even though it's not a typical "elf" name.

Now with my new Slayer, which I'll be playing as a role-playing character, I'm facing this issue when coming up with a name again. I'm trying to come up with a good, snappy Dwarf name that reads and sounds good. Unfortunately, my Order server is pretty heavily populated and nearly every name I pick is already taken. As a matter of fact I've even considered contacting the current owner of my first choice name and offering him gold to delete the toon so I can use the name. The guy is only level 6, so it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to re-level. But I'm not going to do that. The logistics involved in doing that are pretty daunting, so I'm just gonna go with another choice. I really get personally invested into my characters, so I wouldn't really want to take a name away from someone who was really stoked on it.

I tend towards getting really into my guys, and with this Slayer, who will be my first serious role-play character ever, I really need a good name. I don't know why the name is so important to me, but if I play a character with a crappy name it starts to nag at me more and more. So I can't do funny or joke names either, that just gets old. So I really prepare and research. 

I usually comb through Warhammer books, and I also read the Khazalid (Dwarf) dictionary to get an idea of what I'm looking for. I'm also writing a backstory for this character, so that's an additional consideration. I then start to write out multiple name possibilities on a piece of paper, experimenting with different spelling and pronounciation. I repeat this process over and over, adding new names and scratching out old ones as my mood changes, until I have about three or four final names. I make my choice from these, and I'll also have my fiance go over the names and tell me what she thinks is best.

At the moment, I think I have my final four choices lined up and awaiting final selection. I need to get back home from work and reserve 'em first, because my earlier choices are all taken. I had to settle for variations earlier on at least two names because all my ideas were taken, weird spellings and all. I'm pretty confident about the new ones I've come up with. They're appropriately Dwarfy, and they read well and sound cool. I'll let you guys know when we have a winner.

Oh yeah...patch 1.11 came out today. Night of Murder event is on live servers now. Also, there is an interesting patch note regarding fort lords. Check for the notes at the Warhammer Herald. Link is in my blogroll. Thanks for reading and happy murdering! 

Monday, February 2, 2009

The end is in sight, Rank 40 this week?

I just hit Rank 38 last night on my Ironbreaker, somewhere in Dwarf Chapter 19. I'm finally feeling closer to the end of the leveling road. I hope to hit 40 this week. I'm pretty stoked, even though I really don't have any cool new abilities coming up, aside from a few tactics and the default rank 4 Morale. Oh yeah, I do get my movement barb at 40. 

On my Black Orc though, I did get to Rank 31 and I'm preparing to start questing my way through Tier 4, but I will admit to a bit of burnout. Leveling tanks can be a very tedious process, especially in PvE. I'm considering speccing into Da Boss Mastery for the WAAAAGH! AoE ability so that I can start AoE grinding. However one of the main abilities for AoE grinding is not attained until Rank 35. So I may do some theoryhammering about the spec until I feel ready for it. 

This does touch onto a sore subject for me, the leveling curve. I'm coming to the conclusion that the leveling curve in WAR is tuned too slow in Tier 4. Now, I do recall that Mythic just buffed the xp curve from 20-33 if I remember correctly, so maybe I need to just power through those levels on the Blorc. Also I may not be completely objective on this subject. The deal is that I can only play nights and I try to play at least 2-3 characters every night, so when the leveling curve slows down I perceive it to be worse than it actually is since I make less progress in my allotted time. However I'm sure that if I actually sat down and computed the xp gained per hour while accounting for the increased xp needed per level, I would find out that I'm still making decent progress.  

Other than that, leveling multiple characters is a daunting undertaking. The game really tries to reward you for investing a lot of time into a particular character. Acquiring gear, trophies, leveling professions and raising renown ranks all come into play with a single character. Also in a strange way, the banking and bag system is a factor. I'm always having problems juggling bag and bank space, especially if the character is a crafter. I've had to take close to half an hour to reorganize my bags. Granted this doesn't happen often, but the bag and bank stuff can be irritating. 

My goal is to level three characters. A tank, a melee dps and a ranged dps. The tank is coming along nicely, my Shadow Warrior is in the middle of T2 at the moment, and of course the Slayer will be my third. I'm just worried that I'll still be leveling characters when the Tomb Kings are released, heh. In any case I'll be toughing it out in the coming weeks and with any luck I'll be hitting 40 for the very first time this week.

Edit: Oh yeah, finally picked a name for the Slayer, I'll post it next time, gotta reserve it first.