GnM is an online blog that chronicles my experiences through whatever it is that is catching my attention at the moment. Expect shifts between PC gaming news and commentary, to absolute nerding out about the new MG Exia Gundam kit. My brain is full of random esoteric crap, and I'll be spewing it out here. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cross-server Scenarios, Is Now The Time?

A guildie and I were having a conversation last night while we were on our T3 alts, lamenting the recent lack of scenario pops on our server. I play on Badlands, which is the sixth most active server according to Warheap. We chalked it up to the fact that the Slayer/Choppa wave has mostly progressed to T4, and so, the lower tiers are pretty slow as a result. 

We were brainstorming ways to fix this, and when the subject of cross-server scenarios was brought up, we were at first reluctant to really consider it, but then we realized that in T4 at least, the Zone Domination mechanic makes VP spillover from previous tiers almost insignificant. In my experience, when locking a zone, players are running around in the lakes, capping BO’s and Keeps, or trying to bottle up the opposing realm in their warcamp. When it usually takes less than 2 hours to lock a zone, the VP spillover doesn’t seem so important..

And so, if VP from previous tiers is no longer a significant factor, why not implement cross-server scenarios? This feature worked well for WoW, who at the time was having similar issues with some servers having constant Battleground pops, while others could take hours to get a single game in.

I would support this if they were to implement it. As a player with multiple alts, scenarios can be one of the most efficient ways to get xp and renown when leveling an alt. They are also a welcome break from PvE, especially if the open RvR in your area is slow. However, since most servers can now be considered mature, with a large percentage of their population now in T4, leveling an alt can be an arduous process. This is bad for the game as it makes it difficult for new players to progress quickly through the tiers. When your game is about WAR is everywhere, not being able to get a scenario pop is pretty discouraging, especially if you are a new player.

However, Cross-server scs should only be implemented for Tiers One to Three. Tier Four activity is sufficient to not require this feature on most servers’ T4. So on each server, server pride will still be preserved. Don’t worry, you’ll still be facing your mortal enemies from your rival guilds when warbands are galloping around Praag, trying to capture the zone.

I hope Mythic takes a look at the possibility of implementing this feature, as it would address some concerns with the activity of early tiers, and it would foster a more welcoming and active RvR experience for players new to the game. While they are addressing concerns at endgame, I hope that Mythic does not neglect the early to mid-level experience for it’s players, both old and new.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ding 40! And Additional Randomness.

I turned 40 on Khazgar finally last weekend, and I still have the same pants =/. Anyway, I got myself a Tellurian Giantsplitter from the Guild Vault and I’m now in the process of figuring out what I need to do from here. I’m evaluating what stats I need to be stacking, as well as trying to figure out what jewelry I need to be slotting. I’m also looking at different build/tactic combos, currently I’m Trollslayer to Rune of Absorption, and Giantslayer to Violent Impacts. My professions are still below 150, so that’s another thing I need to catch up on.

In other news, Order on Badlands had a great zone flip this past weekend. I say great, because of the level of organization that was required to pull it off. Destro was pushing Reikland really hard, but we were able to hold both Keeps and eventually take and hold all the BO’s and lock the zone. We had a little more than three warbands in Reikland, and we were able to hold off several Destro assaults on all the objectives. We did this by posting a scout on the high cliff at Wilhelm’s Fist, and this scout would watch the Destro warcamp and call out the directions that Destro groups would take out of the camp. 

Using this strategy, we were able to coordinate the different warbands to defend or assault the various objectives. Normally with this many players in a zone, warbands just randomly zerg, but this time players listened to the warband leaders and actually followed orders! It was a great experience, with a hefty chunk of renown, influence and medals for finally locking the zone. After the zone lock, we all rode north to Praag and captured the south keep just to spite Destro. I logged off shortly after this, with a great feeling of realm pride and camaraderie with my fellow players. Good job, Order of Badlands, it was a privilege to fight by your side.

And now that I finally got to level 40 on Khaz, guess what I do next? Yup. I rolled another alt. This time a Warrior Priest. Sigh. This altoholism is definitely a chronic condition. Oh, and I’m sorry I haven’t put up the next book review yet. I ran into a snag, namely, I didn’t have access to the book I was reviewing for about a week, Long story. But not quite as long as the review, which I will post soon. That’s it for now ladies and gents, I will see you guys again soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Khazgar, Rank 39 and Counting.

Here’s Khaz in Oathgrund’s Watch. Rank 39, wearing 4/5 Annihilator gear, with the 2h Axe from the Frostshard Prison. Someone requested a look at my toon recently, so here he is.
You can click the image for a CLOSER LOOK.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Final Stretch, and Live Event comments

Still at Rank 38, I’ve been a bit slow over the last couple days because of the Live Event. Completing the tasks is not as xp-efficient as straight-questing or playing scenarios, but the storyline is really interesting so far. Placing the bulk of the tasks to be completed in shared RvR areas is either brilliant or stupid depending on who you ask. Personally, I like that they did do this, as it forces players to /gasp- fight each other!

Of course, there are downsides to this, especially when there are multiple groups from the other realm monopolizing the objectives, but now with the Event PQ, we ought to see a large number of players from both sides skirmishing, so hopefully you’ll be able to complete tasks on the sidelines while the main battle is going on.

When I logged on this morning, I was hoping to have a half-hour to complete a task I missed yesterday, so I was planning to sneak out to Thunder Mountain real early, so that I would get there before Destro woke up. Surprisingly when I arrived, there was a large skirmish already going on at near the PQ site, with about a warband’s worth of players on each side. I stayed away from the main fight, and concentrated on collecting crates near the gobbo mobs. I would join the fight briefly when a tank or mdps would break through to the backlines to help take them down.

I did get the trophy reward for completing the past two days worth of Live Event tasks, and I must say it looks quite spiffy on my Slayer. I have yet to figure out how to complete the rest of the tasks, but I’ll be devoting the rest of my evening to that, and maybe I’ll even hit rank 39. I gotta say though, the feel on my server has been one of optimism since the event started. I get the feeling that as the Land of the Dead draws nearer to release, players are getting hyped up with anticipation. On the internet, many players seem to be coming back and resubbing, and even previously critical bloggers are getting excited about WAR again. I hope the excitement can last. Again, now is a good time for WAR!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Busy, Busy Weekend.

In a strange turn of events, I’ve been too busy actually playing to get much writing done! Over the weekend, I hit Rank 38, and participated in not one, but two City defenses. Destro was out in force this past weekend, and contested Altdorf at least twice. Collected 20 Officer tokens and one Invader token for my efforts. I’d have gotten two Invader Crests, but the second siege was pretty late, and I didn’t have time to finish it off.
In other news, the Beyond the Sands event goes live today, and I’ll be checking it out as soon as I get back from work. Oh, and I hit Renown Rank 33 this past weekend too. I now have 4/5 Annihilator equipped. Yay! Khazgar is looking more and more badass. Well, I’ll hit you guys back up when I have a chance to digest all the latest events. See you guys in a bit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Patch! 1.21 is Live!

All right, here’s the next major content update, link to the full patch notes is here.
As usual, I’m going to single out certain notes and additions for analysis. Without further ado, let us commence:

The new Live Event, Beyond the Sands, does not actually begin this patch, but will hit the servers on the 20th.

Major highlights are the Keep Upgrade system, which I’ve covered in a previous post, improvements to the UI and combat responsiveness, and the new RvR Quartermaster token system. Other additions are the new Zone Control rewards for T4, Character Profiles, Guild Profiles, and an expanded version of the Gates of Ekrund scenario.

Keep Upgrades are now live, but Mythic decided not to implement the Dynamite and Caltrops for keep sieges, as the tester feedback was that they were too powerful. I’m disappointed about the caltrops, as I was looking forward to using them for more efficient postern defense. But I’m sure we will see them again eventually. I did notice that they are adding “oil immunity” potions, which can be purchased with Ordnance, the new RvR resource. I like the idea of being immune to oil, so that my mpds can actually attack the door for once, instead of hanging back. 

The new Ekrund sc will be 6-on-6, for ranks 19-24. I hope that they let higher ranks play this version of the sc eventually. 

  • Players will no longer be required to select an instance when entering a contested city. Instead, players will always be placed in the same instance as their group or warband. New instances will be created by the server as older instances become full.
  • In order to allow more players the opportunity to participate in city-related RvR, the contested city Scenarios (The Undercroft and the War Quarters) are now only accessible to players in the Rank range of 8-29. All players below Rank 28 will be bolstered to Rank 28 while in the Scenario.

This is pretty interesting. This fix addresses the issues of players involved in a City defense having to choose the correct numbered instance to actually play with their group or guildmates. Also, players were getting ported into empty or poorly populated instances, which made completing certain aspects of the siege extremely hard to complete. 

And it’s good to see that every player in the 8-29 range will now be able to actively contribute to City defense, instead of feeling useless. The more participants in City attacks, the better in my book.

In career notes, it looks like Archmages and Shaman get a large buff to many of their damage abilities.Their mechanic is also currently under review. No word yet on any major mechanic changes, but keep an eye out. In the meantime, soloing should be less painful for them with the new buffs. BW’s and Sorcs will no longer be able to stack their ground-targeted AoE’s, namely Rain of Fire and Pit of Shades. This stacking change also affect the Magus, with Tzeetch’s Firestorm. Abilities of this type will now all behave like the Engineer Napalm Grenade, only the highest rank one will apply in case of multiple ones in the same area.

For the White Lion and Squig Herder, their pet stats will increase by a percentage of the master’s stats. For WL’s, the War Lion gains different stats depending on what “Training” stance is active, while Squigs gain different stats based on the type of Squig summoned. Also, all pets gain a base increase to their hit points. Hopefully this will be the start of Mythic actively addressing pet issues such as pet damage and survivability that WL’s and SH’s have been concerned about for some time.

In Miscellaneous RvR changes, you can now queue for T4 scenarios regardless of whether or not the pairing you are currently in is locked. I ran into this last night, I was confused as to why it would not allow me to queue after Thunder Mountain locked. I’m glad they did this, as I don’t want to have to travel to another pairing just to queue up. This definitely was a pain while questing.

  • Keep doors will now always be attackable by the opposite realm after the Keep has changed hands. Additionally, defenders will now be able to see the health of the Keep door at all times.

Yes! I was getting tired of having to ask someone with a mod what the door’s health was at.

  • Players operating a Ram will now be immune to Knockback and receive reduced damage from Oil Siege Weapons.
  • Siege Rams will now do twice the damage as they previously did.
  • Keep doors will now have double the hit points they previously had.
  • We have significantly increased the hit points of Ram Siege Pads.

This is good to hear. Keeping guys up on the Ram is hard enough as it is. It sounds like they are trying to make the attack on the door last longer, which is good as far as renown gains go, I guess.
I’m gonna try and write another post on the RvR tokens and other stuff I passed over here. But in the meantime, get out there and get those tokens!
Oh yeah, 
  • Pre-game splash screens and opening cinematic can now be skipped by hitting the ESC key.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What’s In A Name? Apparently Quite A Lot

Along with Syp, I’m going to take these 10 questions from GirlIrl and put out my own take on this. 
1.  What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)?  Explain how you chose the name.
Right now, I’m playing my slayer, Khazgar, who I consider to be my current main. I wanted to have a typical “dwarfy” name, that sounded right lore-wise. The name is an homage to a character from the novel Oathbreaker, Azgar Grobkul. I added Khaz, which is my favorite dwarf name prefix. I actually went into a whole spiel about this very subject, which you can find here if you are interested. But basically, I wanted a guttural-sounding name, that kept the dwarf flavor while still rolling off the tongue.
2.  What was the name of your very first character in an MMO?  Explain how you chose that name.
My “first” character was a Dwarf Hunter in WoW named Sudoh. The name is another reference to a character in a work of literature, this time Sudo from Masamune Shirow’s manga Appleseed. However, he got deleted before he hit 30 because he was actually on a friends account who was letting me try out the game. I purchased my own account, and I started a new character to duo with my girlfriend, who is now my fiance. I started a Human Warrior named Zenbei who was the leveling partner of her Warlock. I consider him my first “real” character. Zenbei comes from Zenbe Harada, an obscure character from the manga Lone Wolf and Cub. He was in only one chapter, which was about him killing the corrupt leadership of a starving village, preventing a peasant revolt. After which he took full responsibility for his actions, sparing the village the wrath of the government. I loved the tragic story of this noble character, so I took the name in the hopes that my character would achieve similar heroics.
3.  Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game?
I used to try and keep the same name, but now since I try to think of my characters as real people, I try to come up with names that a real person in that setting might have. My Empire characters have Germanic-sounding names, like Ulbrecht or Richter. My undead rogue was named Geheimnis, which means “secret” in German. And of course, I try to incorporate the Dwarf language Khazalid when I name my Dwarfs. My Orc was named Kurok, which sounds nice and orc-y. And so on. I try to match the name to the race and class whenever possible. My Tauren Druid was named Wildhorne, for example. He was feral.
4.  Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later?  If so, what are they and why do you hold on them? 
I have done this, but it’s rare. I normally don’t have trouble getting the names I want, except on the most popular servers. I’m also pretty good at modifying names to still work for me, even if the original is taken. 
5.  Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character?
Khazgar is melee dps, but my first 40 in WAR was a tank.
6.  What archetype was your very first character in an MMO?  Why did you choose it?
My first toon was a Hunter in WoW, mainly because it was recommended to me as an easy class to learn, and the Dwarf hunter in the intro movie was damn cool. Once I learned more about the game, I rerolled as a Warrior, because I realized I wanted to smash faces in. And I wanted to be the knight-in-shining-armor for my girlfriend, who I was duo-ing with.
7.  Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally?  Why?
I almost always choose a melee class, a tank is usually my first choice. Then maybe a melee dps class. I’ve always loved the visceral feel of melee combat. I enjoy a ranged class from time to time, but I never play casters. I like wearing armor and a slinging a two-hander, or stealthy leathers and backstabbing daggers. If I do play a ranged class, it’s usually a class that uses guns or bows, anything so long as it’s not a spell-slinging career. I don’t like healers much either, but I would like to level a Warrior Priest someday in WAR, if only because they are still melee combat based. Right now my Slayer is getting all my playtime, and while he doesn’t wear much armor, I still love him. He hits like a truck and is a raging berserker. Besides, Slayers got me into Warhammer in the first place, no way I’m not playing one. I do have a Shadow Warrior in T3, but I’m still wavering as to whether or not I like him. 
8.  What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play?
I’m a relative MMO newbie, so I don’t have much prior experience aside from WoW. I did really like how in certain questlines, you were treated to a pretty awesome ingame event. Two examples would be in the Draenei starting zones, you capture a Blood Elf officer who taunts the Draenei present after being sent away by Velen. Upon hearing this, a Draenei officer charges the Blood Elf and kills him outright, /spitting on the corpse afterward. When I saw that, I was blown away, it really brought home the feeling that you were involved in something major. Later on in the same area, after you complete the last quest in the area, Velen, the racial leader, appears along with everyone you had helped up to that point in an impromptu reward ceremony for you. It’s a great little event, and again, it really makes you feel like you are part of something. I really wish WAR would do more things like that.
9.  Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free?  Which and why?
Honestly, no. I simply do not have the time to devote to more than one MMO, and aside from WAR, no other MMO, free or not is as compelling to me right now. Maybe when the Bioware SW MMO comes out, ask me again.
10.  How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)?
I consider any character I get to max level a success, but I also take into account how much enjoyment I’ve derived from playing that character along the way. Gold and gear is a factor, as well as stuff like trophies and unlocks. However, a big part of considering the character a success is whether or not I feel that I can play him effectively and whether I feel like I’m making a difference at endgame.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I’m Still Alive!

This was a triumph…. no, wait. 
Anyway, I’m sorry about the lack of recent updates. My internet at work went out for a week, and that’s is where I do most of my writing and research for this blog. Internet restored, crisis averted. 
Currently I just hit Rank 33 on Khazgar, and I’m leveling at a steady clip. Content-wise, I’m working on another book review, this time on Nick Kyme’s Honorkeeper. 
Now that my internet is back, I’ll be posting at a more regular pace. I’m sorry if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been all week, thanks for bearing with me and this blog. Your readership is highly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting Closer to T4…Oh So Slowly. And an Update on Stats.

I hit Rank 29 on Khazgar last night. I also hit Renown Rank 25, and purchased my Devastator Torc as well. Now I have the Devastator Boots, Armbraces and Shoulders. All I have to do now is participate in as many keep sieges as I possibly can, and hope that the contribution gods smile on my rolls for a gold loot bag. I really want to complete my Devastator set, but I’m also really looking forward to getting to Tier 4. 

This time around, I really tried to include regular RvR and scenarios into my questing rotation. Normally, I’m doing PvE first, while doing scenarios in between. I would also wait  until I was in the middle of the tier before doing sc’s. On my first 40, I was rank 40…and renown rank 23. Heh. I definitely like it better this time around. I started doing T3 scenarios as early as rank 21, instead of waiting. And I run around with warbands taking keeps and BO’s much more often as well. I should have done that sooner. 

On a related note, my guild was running a small group around Thunder Mountain last night taking BO’s and keeps, and they asked my near-useless rank 28 slayer to tag along. So I did, feeling sorta sheepish, as I really couldn’t do much aside from assist dps and not die. We took the west keep in TM, and I got a lesser loot bag. But what’s this? I have TWO Massive Loot bags?! My guildies had donated their gold bags to me! It was awesome, I came away with the Annihilator Helm and Torc. I really want to thank them here. I can’t mention their  names since I’m unsure if they’d want to be named online. But you Candies, you know who you are, Khazgar thanks you! 

Update: I’ll be hitting Rank 30 tonight with any luck. Recently I just ground out the Dwarf Chapter 14 Influence for the Runic Stone Waraxe. I really like two-handed axes, even though dual-wielding is arguably superior. I will say that when I played around with the 2h in scenarios last night, it felt like my targets were dying quicker. I’m also a fan of the Deathblow ability, it feels awesome to use especially when it crits. I’m planning to grind out High Elf Chapter 14 tonight while doing scenarios. I’m am trying to collect more “split-stat” items, in preparation for when the planned changes to all stats gets implemented. Currently, they are testing new changes to all stats in upcoming patches. For example, toughness will also grant a small amount of hp regen in combat in addition to the current effect. For melee classes, some big changes to our crit damage are planned as well. Weapon Skill will now add to your base bonus crit damage, which will be affected by your targets Initiative. So say that you have 0 WepSkill, and you crit someone who stacks Ini, you may do as little as 5% additional damage. 

Basically, Mythic is trying to address the issue of arguably “useless” stats. Players currently stack their main offensive and defensive stat, like Strength and Wounds, while ignoring other stats such as WepSkill and Initiative. So many items that have these unwanted stats get ignored my a majority of the playerbase. So the plan is to give additional bonuses to stats like Toughness, while making stats like WepSkill and Willpower more attractive by tying them into your bonus critical damage. In a way, this is similar to what WoW did with stats like Resilience and Spell Penetration. 

Of course, whether this will be an overall positive or negative change remains to be seen. While I like that Mythic is trying to make spreading your stats out more attractive, I’m sure that many players will lament the end of stacking 2-3 stats on their gear. Also, I predict that we will see an overall lowering of dps across the board, at least at first. This is actually a good thing, because players will live longer in combat, instead of getting insta-gibbed, the moment they get focus fired. Even squishy classes should see an increase in their overall survivability, as killing power decreases for anyone. I know that players will be up in arms about this initially, but I think as players realize that combined with the nerf to stacking AoE, this will result in survivability getting better for everyone. Right now, even tanks are complaining of getting melted within moments. AoE is considered to be out of control. Even melee dps say that they are cut down long before they can actually make it to the back lines. Time To Kill is so short, that it is extremely frustrating to many players who feel like they are constantly dying within seconds of entering combat. 

With increased survivability on the horizon, I hope that we will start seeing slightly more tactical combat, with a less spammy feel. Let’s cross our fingers and hope these proposed changes work out for the best.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why Does WAR Discourage Alts?

If you have spent any time reading this blog, it is immediately obvious that I’m an incorrigible altaholic. So far, six months out, I’ve only managed to level a  single Rank 40. My Ironbreaker Stahlrek. In that same time frame, I have now have a 27 Slayer, 25 SW, 24 WH, 18 Engi, 32 Blorc, 23 Blackguard and more alts in the 8-15 range. I’m sure you see the problem. Recently, I’ve given some thought to rolling up a Swordmaster as well. So I rolled one up, got him to 8 or so, and now he’s parked in Altdorf. Why? Because I don’t know if I can commit to leveling him through T2 and T3 again. 

Having one tank at max rank has taught me that leveling up a tank can be an arduous process. Now I know that doing scenarios while questing is the fastest way to level. However, my server sc pops are busiest at night. So I play my Slayer at night, so I can maintain my RR. This means because I can’t take advantage of scenarios for my SM, because my Slayer needs the renown as well. Which forces my alt SM to do mostly PvE, in the mornings when the server is pretty dead. And I gotta tell you, I’ve done T2 PvE over five times, I don’t want to do it again. 

You know, I really wish WAR would allow me to “gift” some levels to my lowbie alts. Say, once you reach Rank 40, you can give one alt of yours a certain amount of ranks, depending on the tier. If the character is in Tier 2, you can give 5 ranks, Tier 3 you can give 3, etc. Each alt can only be gifted ranks once. WAR already has the Collar of Servitude/Rod of Service items that allow you to bring a lower ranked player up to within two ranks of your level. Why not allow players who already have a rank 40 to do the same? 

The thing is, WAR rewards the player who plays one character exclusively. Your most played character will have the best gear, highest RR, most unlocks, etc. Your alts, especially ones that you don’t play often will be significantly less progressed than your main. In addition, the sheer amount of time needed to get to T3 or higher is pretty intense.

If you have limited playtime like me, you often don’t want to mess around on alts because you feel that the time is better spent leveling your “main” character. Also many careers don’t quite come into their own until later levels, usually around 21-24. For example, my Shadow Warrior didn’t quite click with me until I got to rank 18 and picked up the Split Arrows tactic, and later at 21 acquiring the Shadow Sting ability made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the class. There are some really interesting builds i want to try out with my SM, but I don’t know if I have the time to level him up to an appropriate level. 

Now before you say that I’m looking for an easy way out, this is not the case. I just want to get to a point where I can really get a feel for the class. I’m not asking to be magically 40, just for a quicker way to get to 20-22. I’ve already leveled multiple characters through that level range, including another tank. It’s not like Mythic doesn’t already have the Bolster mechanic in place. I also don’t really see a downside to providing this convenience. It’s not as if it skews the population or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware the leveling curve is nowhere near as grueling as it was after launch. Mythic did a great job making the grind to 40 less arduous, no doubt. 

I guess I’m just frustrated that there are so many classes I want to play, with not enough hours in the day. Mythic may not purposely try to discourage playing alts, but it certainly feels that way to me when I get excited about a class, roll one up to around 10 or so, then park them because I simply don’t have the time to level an alt effectively alongside my main.