Improving PvE in Warhammer

Rick and I have been having a bit of a (civil) brawl over at his blog. The topic is PvE in Warhammer. The nice thing about a back and forth with a smart, lucid guy like Rick is that it gets you to thinking.

My basic “problem” with PvE right now is basically lack of population doing it. Running the solo quests isn’t a problem, but doing group-based quests (essentially, Public Quests) can be really hit or miss insofar as finding other people interested in joining forces.

Anyway, jumping right in, and I don’t claim any of these as original ideas; I’m sure other, smarter people have already considered them.

1) Summoning Stones and a PQ Queue: Scenarios are popular (in part) because they’re convenient. What if Mythic put in a PQ Queue? You click a button to enter a queue for some or all PQs in your level range, then you go about your business. Once there are enough people in queue for a PQ, everyone gets teleported to a Summoning Stone near that PQ area, already grouped up and ready to fight. PQ’s wouldn’t be instanced; you could still get to them the old-fashioned way. This would just be an alternate and convenient method of getting into a PQ group without having to run back and forth across the world looking for groups.

2) Checking Open Groups from the map: How would it be if you could open the map, hover over a region and get a list of all the Open Groups active in that region? You could then join one of those groups and head to them. One of the frustrations now is that you might be in Region A, lonely and unloved, while there’s a Warband pwning PQs in Region B and you’d never know about it. This idea would require more Flight Masters though. As it is now, by the time you get to another region the Open Group might have broken up. (This idea could also help LakeRvR.)

3) Checking for Open Groups while in a group: So you’ve been there. You’re in a group, you’ve run a PQ a few times. You want to go to another PQ. But is anyone doing it? How do you check? You can’t. You have to quit the group you’re in, look, then if you come up empty, rejoin the group and keep grinding the current PQ. This idea is more a convenience than anything, but when three or four people want to do another PQ it’d be nice if you could just say, in the current Open Group, “Hey, I see there’s a group of 5 doing the next PQ over. We could switch over to that.”

So there you have it, my contribution to the idea gene pool. Rick’s point is that the only thing wrong with PvE is that people aren’t organized. I agree with him to a certain extent. Presumably people *are* out there somewhere doing it. They’re just not responding in /region chat and they’re in Open Groups that I can’t see from where I am.

Last night I logged in to find a Warband of 2 full groups doing a PQ. I quickly joined them, finished the current ‘run’ and then we did another. And then the group dissolved. Where’d they all go? Unknown. Three of us moved to another PQ in the same chapter and the rest of the night was spent calling out over /region for helpers, and not getting any bites. Maybe everyone had gone to another Pairing? Maybe everyone had logged off? There’s just no easy way to tell, given the tools we currently have.

Witching Night begins tonight, which is gonna mix PvE with LakeRvR, and I’m excited to see what impact that has on doing pure PvE PQs.

Feel free to add to the GroupThink by listing your ideas to help PvE in the comments below.

The flip side: a night of “solo” War.

So last night, I was feeling pretty cranky and unsociable, but I still needed my daily War fix. I logged on for some solo fun. I was thinking “Log in, kill monsters, log off.”

Turns out it isn’t easy to solo in Warhammer.

And by that I don’t mean that going solo is hard or overly challenging. I mean that there are so many easy ways to group up with other players (implicitly or explicitly) that before you know it, you aren’t solo anymore. You have to kind of go out of your way to play by yourself in this game. (Just to be clear, this is a compliment.)

It started when I realized I still had a few quests left in contested (RvR) areas. I coulda shouted out to the CoWs for help but like I said, I was cranky and didn’t really feel much like talking. I figured I could chance it. After all, everyone is in Scenarios in Tier 1, right?

I’d just hit my first quest goal when I spotted a level 10 Marauder skulking about. Those guys are about as heretical as one can get, with their freaky arms and all. So I did what any good Witch Hunter would do. I shot first, planning to ask questions later. It was a good fight. Level 10 DPS vs Level 10 DPS. Sadly for him, he flinched first… his first reaction was to run, letting me get in a few shots before he decided to turn and fight. Pretty soon, one dead Marauder.

I figured he’d be back with friends. I figured right because before too long three Destros showed up. Three on one didn’t seem too favorable so I ran like a little girl. Popped my Flee, downed a potion and got away before the assorted DoTs and Snares could bring me down. I ran to the guards (I’m sure they had a few choice unmanly names for me at that point) and kept running, circling around to enter the RvR area from another venue.

Y’know what’s creepy & fun? Running into a town square and finding a bunch of bodies that haven’t decayed yet, and wondering which side won. I was whipping my camera back and forth scanning for action and finally spotted movement. Friendlies! A rag-tag bunch of order came running back from the direction of the Destro guards. We took back a control point and hung around for the 3 minutes it takes to solidify the capture. I wasn’t in a Group but I was in a group, if you follow me. We took another control point and hunkered down to finish the cap. Destro kept fainting at us from different vectors, but we held strong. When the timer went off and we got the bonus renown, everyone cheered. By then I’d finished my quests so I headed out of the RvR area.

It was time to leave for Norsca, as I’d finished all the quests in Nordland. In Norsca, I noted one more RvR quest that I’d lost track of. I had to scout a control point in a cave on an island. This is the one thing I really did Solo all night. I ran out there, not a soul in site. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for attacks to start. I hoped to trigger the quest from outside the cave, but nope. I crept inside. Empty. No guards, no players. The control point was Lost, which meant it had changed hands fairly recently (too bad, I was hoping for a solo cap!). I crept back out. Stealthed away, then ran like heck. Success. Sounds boring now, but doing it wasn’t at all.

It was getting late, but I figured I’d start grinding out some Influence in the Chapt 4 PQs. I wasn’t looking to get involved with anything, but when a group invite popped up from a Bright Wizard, it felt rude to ignore it. After all, this WAS a PQ I was doing. We chatted a bit while we ground out the first stage of the PQ. Then another player joined us. And last, a level 23 White Lion. Suddenly we could take the PQ seriously.

We beat it, and of course all got loot bags with such a small group. After a quick discussion we ran off to another PQ, adding a couple more group members but dropping one. The next PQ was completed in fairly short order. The White Lion had a Standard and it gave a +20% Morale Buff and a +3% Exp Buff. My Morale gauge was filling up faster than I could use the skill! With that PQ done, we headed off to yet another. By now the group was in the swing of things, chatting, joking, killing, helping each other out. People were rolling Need on things they could use, and Greed on things they couldn’t. Everything was fun and easy-going. No stress.

The next PQ had a surprise inside. And I’m not going to spoil it, but OUCH! During this one there were a few dwarves running about; they never joined us but definitely were integral to our ultimate success. Nice guys, too. We had a nice chat after the battle.

Finally I *had* to go to bed. Lady Luck was with me; I’d rolled for first place once, and second place twice in our PQ lotteries. I’m not sure what happens with a high level character in these things; I ranked first in contribution on one of them. A level 10 ranking 1st when there’s a 23 in the group? I’m guessing he gets penalized for being so high level, or just doesn’t get in on the meters at all? Anyway, 3 loot bags came with 3 equipment upgrades: tunic, boots and a new rapier. Woot!

So during my whole “solo” night I really did one thing alone. And I’ve specifically mentioned the chat that was happening in /group and in /say because I keep reading articles about how quiet Warhammer is. I don’t find it quiet, really. I’ll grant you that region-wide chat channels are quiet. But face to face conversation seems fine to me. I really don’t miss anonymous-ish chat channels with their petty flame wars and Chuck Norris jokes. When you’re standing right there in front of a person, or are grouped with them, chances are you’re going to treat them more like you would in ‘real life’ and not just randomly attack. And that’s been my experience so far.

All in all, another night of great fun and adventure in Warhammer Online. I began the night at level 9 and finished about half-way through level 11, without touching a scenario. (I keep hearing that doing scenarios are the fastest way to level, but 2 dings on a weeknight seems pretty good to me.) What’ll be next!!?