Oh What A World

5 04 2009

Sorry about the lack of updates folks, and I’m afraid I can’t promise anything about the near future.

RL bit me with a vengeance recently and I started feeling the burnout on my Witch Hunter. Since returning, I’ve found my guild imploded and rerolled Destruction, along with several friends quitting.

/sadface





Dust Settles, Phoenix Rises

17 03 2009

(Yes, that’s a little play on the name of my server for those of you who haven’t managed to stalk me down yet)

Let’s start today with a quote from the glorious new official, Mythic-generated guide to Witch Hunters!

Witch Hunters don’t have big armour but it is possible to balance this weakness, at least a little bit, by increasing the ability with the weapons

delayed post = mild MMO burnout

delayed post = mild MMO burnout

I don’t know about you guys, but that answered all my questions.  OK, OK, I’ll stop; it could have been an EU player speaking outside their mother tongue and as a fairly well-educated linguist I know that English is arguably the hardest language to learn.

But then again, judging by the quality of text on the shiny new official Mythic forums, it wouldn’t surprise me if my ribbing is well-founded.  But Mythic are being good sports about the whole deal: most posters have proven unable either to write or read, as evidenced by the majority of discussion being outside the guidelines requested.  I’m still not certain why it was necessary to throw $$$ at official forums and not, say, developer salaries or server stability (or just more of them; WTB not sitting in a queue outside the Inevitable City while the other 23 members of my all-guild warband get phat lewt) BUT it does seem that some 1.2 changes are a direct product of Mythic reading and responding to feedback on their own forums, picking out valid topics of concern through rapidly expanding QQ cesspools, and for that I must commend them.

So with a quick nod to the title of this post and the wall of text it was threatening to become, thoughts on 1.2 now that everybody’s fairly well adjusted.

  • Witch Hunters are fine, even after the BAL nerf.  Killing tanks is MUCH harder than before, openers were gutted, but at least they didn’t screw stealth into the ground.  I’m killing things just fine, although I haven’t done much dueling against players of comparable gear (except to ambush high-RR Sorcs… mmmmngh yessss)  Pick Lock is amazingly fun, even if it mostly ends up a kamikaze tool with me dead and unrezzable.
  • Zone Domination is nice and in theory quite fair, but it’s definitely made zones (and fortresses!) on my server start flipping like hotcakes.
  • Choppas really hurt my alt Rune Priest and look too much like Black Orcs armor-wise, which is a bummer because that’s the biggest race in the game and should offer the most room for variation.  Not looking forward to facing them at 40, especially if tractor pull stays.
  • Made the mistake of taking up Cultivating to support my Apothecary skill, didn’t manage to get any/all BoP seeds solo farming in an hour as some people, so am apparently screwed.  Also spent lots of money levelling the skill, as I R DOIN IT WRONG
  • The Twisting Tower scenario, like Reikland Factory, was fantastic and ought to be brought back.  The Maw looks like it took about 10 minutes for a developer to toss together, and is just as boring as Reikland Hills.
  • Fuck the Windows key.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Put the Role Back in Play

2 03 2009

I wanted this post to be some play experience and anecdotes from 1.2a testing on the PTS, figuring out how the new WH matches up against other careers’ revisions. Unfortunately this was not to be; I logged in to a seemingly abandoned world only to be slaughtered mercilesslyhumorously when what I had mistaken for Destro NPCs were in fact all template-cloned Choppas. So by now I know pretty well how WH stacks up against the (still rather bugged) Choppa, but I’m waiting on decent encounters with the other 11 opponent careers.

It's been said that the best "balance" an MMO can hope for is just an elaborate game of rock-paper-scissors

...and the key to rock-paper-scissors is avoiding redundancy

While I’m on the subject of numbers, let’s add the Choppa and Slayer for a total of 24 unique careers in Warhammer. You can argue about the mirror paradigm and hack it down to 12, but I would call you a fool and point out that Shadow Warriors’ stance mechanic is on Marauders (not their mirror), pets are given to Squig Herders and White Lions (not mirrors), and my Witch Hunter plays very differently from a Witch Elf even though we share stealth.

That’s about double or even triple what most character class-based MMOs have had in their first few months. And while balance is a concern, of course, another valid worry is beginning to surface on the forums with the new twin MDPS coming.

/WALLOFTEXT ON

Role definition. Perhaps the first people to spot this were the White Lions and Marauders suddenly feeling outclassed by the powerful new careers sporting the same medium armor and similar – but arguably better – skillsets. Some back-line healers are also starting to wonder as their healing power, survivability, and throughput all seem lacking compared to their front-line counterparts; wasn’t there supposed to be a trade-off? And yes, obviously there needs to be flexibility within careers (i.e. mastery/specialization) for variety, fun, and flavor, but there also needs to be a difference between, say, a Salvation WP and Isha AM – aside from one being invincible and the other a wet paper bag.

I don’t do this often, but I think it’s time. Discussion time. If the Choppa isn’t supposed to obsolesce Marauders, if Warrior Priests aren’t supposed to outheal and outlive Archmages, what are the roles? I’ll take a stab:

HEALERS:

  • WP/DoK – “the first aid expert” – high survivability; front-line; spreadheals and group heals; limited burst or single-target healing.
  • RP/Zeal – “the one who always saves your rear” – moderate survivability; mid-line; best burst/emergency/single target healing potential
  • AM/Sham – “the beacon of hope” – low survivability; rear-line; zerg-oriented big heals, buffs, and debuffs; support/amplified healing

TANKS:

  • IB/BO – “the wall” – high survivability (for a tank, mind you); high CC; low damage
  • Knight/Chosen – “the commander” – moderate survivability; area-effect buffs/debuffs; moderate-to-low CC; moderate damage
  • SM/BG – “the linebreaker” – low survivability (they love those 2handers); high damage; boosted mobility; anti-magic & crippling debuffs

RDPS:

  • SW/SH – “the skirmisher” – high survivability; focused fire, physical damage; low utility (I think the physical damage is the big deal here)
  • Engi/Magus – “the tactician” – moderate survivability; area/strategic/siege defense; moderate CC; high utility
  • BW/Sorc – “the glass cannon” low survivability; zerg-style AE/chain damage; moderate utility; low CC

MDPS:

  • WL/Mara – “the common threat” – high survivability; all-rounder, can spec to hunt anything; “main assist;” moderate CC/utility
  • Slay/Choppa – “the tank spanker” – moderate survivability; debuffs, armor negation, “tank killing;” low CC/utility
  • WH/WE – “the assassin” – low survivability; escape tools; squishy bane; best burst damage; high CC/utility

I’d say most careers are pretty close to this right now and could only use some sharpening to really hit the nail, but a couple would need overhauls to fit. Mostly I’m fond of the Slayer/Choppa being a sword-and-board tank killer (a lot of their abilities suggest this) because those guys need to fear something and it’s a shame to see the poor WLs/Maras become useless.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Reach Out, Touch Faith

24 02 2009
captions are for the weak

captions are for the weak

Well, after witnessing our first ever WH-specific Developer post (sorry for the sloppy linkage; it’s the best I could get but you still have to scroll down to the highlight) on the beta forums, it seems that 1.2(a) proves Mythic is starting to listen to us.

I say starting because presumably Burn Away Lies – soon to be virtually the only usable execution – and our offhand auto attacks seem to scale still off Ballistic Skill (say that ten times fast!).  And of course there’s the melee/ranged crit disparity.

EDIT: Well you know, Witch Hunters have hats so we can eat them.  See my hat?  Mmm, hat.  Yummy.  Tastes like foot.

But oh my god, there’s somebody out there reading our shit!

Now all I need is a regular Lost Vale group…

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Fighting the Witch Hunter

19 02 2009

I realize here that I might be giving away trade secrets and impeding my own success, but so be it.  A well-played fight is much more enjoyable for me, and if people learn to counter the career effectively then perhaps we won’t have as many whine posts and ensuing nerfs from Mythic’s attempts to appease the ever-outraged forum crowd.

1. Notice the Opener. You just got jumped!  Read your scrolling combat text, scan the debuff icon, create an Aura or other mod, or look at your character.  Swirly barbs will encircle you in three pretty colors: red (anti-melee), blue (anti-spell), and green (anti-movement).  Decide whether the sacrifice of action is worthwhile and act accordingly.  If jumped with green swirlies and you think you can run to help or safety, that might be best but otherwise stand still and pivot to deny the WH your flank and keep him in your frontal parry/block cone.  If jumped with red, play defensively unless you know the WH is particularly squishy and you feel confident about soaking the damage whilst eliminating the threat.  If jumped with blue and you need to cast to defend yourself, use a morale ability if possible and make your decisions carefully e.g. as a DoK, try to heal via melee instead of spells.

2. Communicate! Stealth classes have always preyed on disorganization and lack of intelligence among their opponents.  If you get jumped, make a macro to alert your teammates (not that anyone ever reads chat while fighting; I blame Mythic for making the spell animations too pretty) or speak up in Ventrilo.  If you were ambushed on your way out of a warcamp or at a choke point, announce it in region chat; chances are a Witch Elf won’t be able to resist the opportunity to duel, or there might be a zerg passing by that could steamroll your aggressor.  Conversely, keep an eye on your own rear lines in battle and be proactive if your teammates are uncommunicative.

3. Location, Location, Location. Don’t be alone if you can avoid it, don’t overextend yourself (I love punishing greedy tanks that outrange their healers), and as mentioned before don’t let a WH take potshots at your rear.  Stay close to your tanks if you have a Guard, but also keep them between yourself and where you anticipate a WH’s entry.  Use terrain to your advantage – stand with your back to the wall or in a difficult-to-reach spot.  If knockback is one of your primary defenses, take a moment to plan where you’re going to send the hapless WH flying so you don’t simply send him 2 feet backward into an incline or obstacle.

Choose wisely, young grasshopper.

Choose wisely, young grasshopper.

4. Know Your Class, Know Theirs. It’s amazing how many people will never detaunt or seem unaware that they can cleanse/remove a WH’s debuffs.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; if you’re hit with a healing debuff like Punish the False (and can’t cure it), removing DOTs might end up being more damage prevention than trying to spam heal yourself.  If I use Repel Blasphemy (and perhaps augment it with Riposte), don’t waste a Rend Soul or other melee ability with a long cooldown; DO turtle behind your shield, use attacks that are undefendable, and expect me to follow up with a Confess! If you are a caster and I just jumped you with Fanatical Zeal, popped Shroud of Magnus, and am slotting Vindication, spamming spells at me is tantamount to suicide.  Read your combat log after a death to figure out what you could have done better.

5. CC is Your Friend. A WH has three goals: DPS, harass, and/or get out alive.  He must accomplish all of these quickly; prolonged fights are his nightmare.  A disarm shuts him down almost completely; snares and movement barbs too.  And if you can counter his (very limited) escape options, remember that the WH is a cloth wearing class with typically low resists and will die very fast to focus fire.  Unless I’ve been skirmishing for a while and acquired an Unstoppable buff, it generally only takes one form of (well-applied) CC to deny me a kill and lay me out for a beating.  Look for a window of opportunity and abuse it.

(For the Order folks reading, a lot of that applies against Witch Elves as well, although they do have very different tactics and abilities despite being our mirror; do your research and don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





The One.Two Punch

17 02 2009

The PTS is up, the sky is falling, my character is copied and I’m here with what everbody’s been speculating madly about – numbers.

…OK, and a little commentary.

Burn Armor: This ability has had its damage contribution from stats reduced.

  • 37% nerf (real, i.e. actual damage testing and not tooltip/delve only)
  • already barely hit hard enough against most classes you’d use it for (tanks, Marauders, melee DoKs)
Blessed Bullets of Styrofoam, go!

Blessed Bullets of Styrofoam, go!

Sudden Accusation: This ability has had its damage contribution from stats reduced.

  • 68% nerf (real)
  • all the keyboard turners can continue typing in /gu while on autorun; this won’t pose a threat any longer

Fanatical Zeal: This ability has had its damage contribution from stats reduced.

  • 22% nerf (real)
  • Sorcerers/Magi should already be easy targets, but this and other buffs to healers will make them much tougher marks

Trial by Pain: This ability will deal slightly more damage, and activate Blessed Bullets twice if allowed to run the full duration.

  • 25% buff (real)
  • procs bullets before first and last of the 6 shots
  • looks like they increased the base damage but lowered the scaling…? too little, too late; still worthless.

Burn Away Lies: This ability will now deal more damage.

  • 65% buff (tooltip*)
  • NOTE: I have not had the opportunity to test the real damage on this; it could be that the base has improved but scaling decreased, similar to TbP above.  …and then the server crashed, and characters were wiped, and someone else managed to get the info first ; looks like 50-60% real.
  • does away with the irony of the “burst damage” mastery tree offering less burst than the alternative harass/debuff tree
  • still calculated through Ballistics from what I can tell, despite being a melee-range ability like Burn, Heretic (which improves with Strength)

I’ll not address the various bug fixes.  If they’re accurately implemented, hurrah; if not, then nothing’s changed anyway.

The bullet nerf is unkind, to be sure, and does nothing to bridge the gap between WE kisses and our mechanic.  If anything, it widens because the newly-possible bullet crits seem dependent on the ranged critical% (which no WH in their right mind stacks) and not melee.  But the dual stat dependency dilemma is a huge issue in itself, and I won’t get started on that here.  The stealth nerf – no longer being able to sneak away when under attack, even if you disrupt/parry/dodge everything – is salt on the wound for careers with already very limited survivability and escape mechanisms.

Overall we seem to have gotten hit by a lot of crossfire in the QQ-inspired Witch Elf nerfs.  I won’t get on a soapbox yet or scream about the apocalypse as some would, but it doesn’t look pretty.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





To Zerg or Not to Zerg?

12 02 2009

When you’re low renown rank, doing pretty much anything is awesomely rewarding.  When you need ORvR influence for those frustratingly buggedlucrative item rewards, you kill two birds with one stone, reaping renown out in the lakes as well.

But the curve hits sharply.  Let me take a moment to say that I’m not trying to toot my horn, wave my epeen, or boast about the glorious virtual existence I enjoy alongside real life unemployment (although I got called in to work yesterday, woohoo!).  I’m not in the top 10 of anything for Witch Hunters on my server, nor do I particularly care to be.

Why?  Because the “best” simply zerg.

Whatever that Ironbreaker was smoking, I want some.

Whatever that Ironbreaker was smoking, I want some.

After attaining a certain renown rank, killing other players rewards poorly; the only renown gains that don’t plummet sharply as you advance are ORvR captures: keeps and battlefield objectives.  So rather than spend 15 minutes in a scenario watching both sides blindly rush the middle of the map despite the explanation on the loading screen moments before entering…

  1. Fly to contested zone
  2. Find and join open warband
  3. Kill NPCs
  4. AFK for 3 minutes
  5. profit!

And pretty soon renown rank boils down to who has more playtime, not skill in RvR.  I’ve seen some of the “best” get their faces pounded in by level 35s in quest reward gear.

So now my strategy is (although I don’t degroup and solo; perhaps I should): find the player on the enemy team worth the most and assassinate them at least once for more renown than the entire scenario or capture would be worth otherwise.

Which is actually pretty fun.  I’m making a lot of enemies, naturally, but that only makes things more interesting.  After all, if the top 10% of your players only stand to gain from slaughtering one another, it’ll weed out the keyboard turners eventually.

…I hope.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Mod Job

9 02 2009

A few MMOs ago I started playing with simple modifications – UI skins (not texture skins, mind you; that’s a bannable offense in most games and lost me a Gladiator title when my partner got the boot for giving himself warglaives), editing some better songs in for the battle music in FFXI, etc.

Then, as I was sitting in half lotus sipping matcha and contemplating the nature of the virtual world, it dawned on me: none of this “default UI” stuff ever neatly or efficiently presents the information I need for my playstyle.  Who started this trend with the player’s health and status window in the far upper-right corner, hiding on the edge of the screen like an abuse victim?  Certainly not a PvPer or a healer, I’d wager.

clean/combat; note the large yellow text in the bottom frame now eliminated by AlertFilter

clean/combat; note the large yellow text in the bottom frame to be eliminated by AlertFilter

Long story short: I mod, and I like it.  I take a fairly minimalist approach, and my focus is on efficiency (i.e. I don’t care if a BW happened to tab-DOT my target, but I need to know if my CC runs out or snare needs to be reapplied).  Now I don’t want to become WARAR, but I thought I’d share a nifty few I’ve found with you all and hopefully inspire some to start modding.  While WAR’s API isn’t as friendly as WoW’s (yet!), there are some fantastic addon developers leading the fight for us.

AlertFilter: Maybe it’s because I’m a button masher, but whoever decided to stick virtually every kind of error message into huge size 72 font across your UI’s forehead needs to be reassigned.  AlertFilter redirects “out of range,” “not yet ready,” “cannot see your target,” etc. spam into your combat log.

MoraleSet: Creates morale setups like tactics’, and swaps amongst them alongside tactics.  Just plain handy.

Phantom: Hides all that ugly default UI stuff that the built-in Layout Editor won’t let you; sometimes a necessity e.g. you already have another mod managing player/target status that doesn’t disable the Mythic frames, or you need to get rid of that pesky empty actionbar.

zMiniMap (AKA Minmap, zmm): What happens when you try to put a round peg into a square box?  Wasted space.  A circular minimap is cute and all, minus the myriad of buttons and sliders hanging off it like some 2D Katamari Damacy experiment, but it’s not very efficient.  Cleans everything up into a nice square frame.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Hip, Hip… huuuh?

4 02 2009

Witch Hunter morale abilities have for some time now fallen into the category of “things that make you go hmm” (or in some cases, the simple “wtf?” will suffice); our career-specific tricks are especially lackluster.  For the confused Witch Hunter in all of us I hereby present: Morale 101.

somewhere there is an entire industry for staging photos of happy office workers

somewhere there is an entire industry for staging photos of happy office workers

Rank 1 morales: quick to build, possible even in a duel if long enough (30+ secs for me, roughly)

Sever Nerve:  In my anti-caster setup.  Best coordinated with other burst damage.  Lackluster in PvE, only 20 DPS if spammed and may interfere with using other morales.  I pass over it in favor of…

Confusing Movements: Five stars.  In my anti-melee lineup.  Fantastic when dueling a melee class or Squig Herder; combine with REPEL BLASPHEMY for 12+ seconds of 100% parry.  Great in PvE for evade tanking e.g. (1) tank dies, you buy healer time to rez (2) trash on the squishies, smack ’em around and buy time until a tank can pick them up.

Exoneration: Worthless. 133 health per second and (at best) 80% AP regen for 9 seconds shouldn’t make a difference in any situation, and Confusing Movements’ damage avoidance is probably superior unless you’re being nuked by casters.  If anything, socket Sever Nerve to kill your target more quickly and make your escape before you ‘need’ this pitiful trash.

Rank 2 morales: also quick to build, probably our most useful

Force of Will: Nice against most careers if used properly; hit it early in a fight and/or when you’re low on AP to cripple your opponent and get the most benefit.  Great start to any fight against a tank because it limits their options (if you’re using Judgment bullets also you just made their life hell) and nice for draining a Zealot/Shaman so they can’t spam heal themselves.

Relentless Assault: Eeeeh, meh.  Strictly PvE, of course, and lately I’ve been getting more use out of a morale3 I’ll discuss shortly.  More for your group than yourself (you could get twice as much from Force of Will)

Reversal of Fortune: The disarm probably won’t land if you’re dueling one other player because you’ll have already given them Unstoppable, but in skirmishes and medium-to-large battles it can save squishies – including yourself – and the damage is gravy.  Our only decent AE without speccing deep Confession, slotting weird tactics and such.  I pop this constantly.

Rank 3 morales: diminishing returns kick in here; they take significantly longer to reach

Broad Swings: Why, Mythic, why?  At best it’s 6 attacks that become slightly AE (seems like a very small radius); I’ve only ever heard of it being novel when combined with Trial By Pain (procs on each half-second bullet) and Dragon Gun.

Witchfinder’s Protection: A lot of people are sour on this, and understandably so – it’s another PvE-only, seemingly lackluster ability.  Recently, though, I’ve been getting a lot of love out of this one.  It helps the rear-line squishies when they get aggro from trash, and tanks by being a quasi-Shield Wall.  For example, last night my LV group was attempting Sechar (and beat him without a Warrior Priest spamming groupheal, much to the surprise of elder guilds) and for his 30-second pleasure aura – the tougher for us to deal with – we rotated Shield Walls and this morale.  As I don’t use ranks 2, 4, or usually even 1 during PvE, this has become my staple “O SH*T” button to sit on.

Rank 4 morales: probably restricted to sieges; as a disclaimer, I haven’t fiddled with all of these extensively

Frenzied Slaughter: After factoring in global cooldown, this ends up applying to only four abilities used immdiately afterward.  Unless you got all the way to rank 4 morale just for a big Exit Wound or Absolution crit, this isn’t going to make much of a difference.  At all.  In practice: the AP reduction = minor, damage = mediocre, cooldown reduction = moot.

Divine Blast: Keep/fortress siege; aim at choke point, profit.

Excommunicate: Fortress siege – pop it on their main tank and watch him die.  Or you could blow an entire bar of hard-earned morale to kill any 1 player that might be receiving heals.  The damage is a bonus.

Expurgation: Another anti-zerg ability.  Hope you can make it out alive afterward.  Double the damage of Excommunicate, and a handsome snare component.

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.





Lost Vale Wins ‘Most Scenic MMO Corpse Run’

3 02 2009

Sunday night I was asked to help an alliance group with an MIA DPS and simultaneously be initiated into the hardest dungeon currently in the game, Lost Vale.  I’ll not go into too much detail about the buggy boss fights or what-were-they-smoking-when-they-coded-this loot because – if the ubiquitous leaked 1.2 patch notes* are genuine – those will hopefully be addressed soon.  We finished the first two wings and will be going back later tonight for the third; so far I’ve picked up two weapons (one very odd and one total crap; still no sign of the third, moderately useful one) and an inspired awe for WAR’s graphics engine when my processor can handle it.

I thought we could pay Chinese warehouses to do monotonous tasks

I thought we could pay Chinese warehouses to do monotonous tasks

No, really.  The place is absolutely gorgeous; major kudos to the art and design team that showered it with their attention.

…but did they let anybody else know that they were planning this place?

Sure, the Everqueen’s disembodied spirit teabagging every boss’ corpse doubles as both quest-advancer and healer, but why?  Any wipe without a prepared Rune Priest is going to send the entire team back to the shores of Avelorn, ten feet from a warcamp healer, and then back on a 5-15 minute retread before catching up with Her Ghostliness.

Hopefully Mythic will take a page from WoW and implement intra-instance dungeon teleports a la Karazhan, Black Temple, etc.  I haven’t read anything explicitly yet about this, but there’s something frustrating as a player when your first five hours of exposure to new content is 30% slack-jawed zombie jog back whence you came, or taking a much-needed pee break while another groupmate suffers their turn at driving the /follow taxi (hopefully he can figure out how to get around that tricky debris-ridden stair landing this time).

Verdant groves and picturesque ruins notwithstanding, it will get old quickly.

*OK, that’s mostly the combat & careers stuff; I had been thinking about the ‘second half’ of 1.2 patch notes – dealing explicitly with lots of LV and itemization issues – that my guildmaster posted on our forums this past week, but I can’t seem to find a persistent link to them elsewhere so I suppose you’ll just have to take my word… and I’ll have to start wondering about my guildmates’ connections!

Copyright © 2009 Flintlocks R Fun; this Feed is for personal, non-commercial use only.