A Farewell to War (Warhammer)

I got a notice today that my 60 day time card for Warhammer has run out, and my account is now closed.

My reaction, frankly, was a huge sigh of relief. No more guilt over not playing a game I’d paid for a subscription to. Followed by a touch of sadness. I still have a Warhammer Online Poster on the door to the office (yes, I am still 12 in some ways, plus it covers a hole in the door!) I have Warhammer novels strewn all over the house. I have a head full of memories of all the great times I had in beta and those early days. I have a tag cloud on this blog that still features Warhammer most prominently.

But it just never clicked with me. It was like one of those “love at first sight” encounters that fizzles as you get to know the other person on a deeper level. You try to cling to that early passion, but you know that things just aren’t working out. And yet you hang on, go through the motions, hoping for…what? The world to flip on its axis or something? Nothing is going to change, so finally, you have The Talk.

So Warhammer and I have had The Talk. I can’t visualize ever going back to the game, unlike so many others that I do return to every now and then: City of Heroes, Guild Wars, WoW, EQ2, etc. With many MMOs I go back to see what’s changed and sometimes I end up staying a while. But with Warhammer, I’ve come to like the Mythic Message less and less over the months. I’ve come to like the community less and less. When I joined CoW I was naive enough to think those good folks represented what the Warhammer community would be like, but over time the testosterone-fueled e-peenery that always follows PvP seems to have taken over.

That sounds pretty hostile. Well heck, I guess it *is* pretty hostile. But everyone deserves a place where they can gather with like-minded individuals, and that extends to the testosterone-fueled e-peeners of both sexes. So, hostile or not, I’m glad they have Warhammer Online because quality PvP games are few and far between.

So, farewell, Warhammer Online! I’m really sorry things didn’t work out for us, but I know you’re going to be OK, because you have plenty of enthusiastic fans. As for me, first I have to eat a huge helping of crow because I was a fierce defender of the game back at launch (but I swear, the beta really *was* fun!) Once I choke that down, I’ll be OK because I have a skillion other games to choose from, and now I don’t have the ever-present guilt of “I really should be playing War…after all, I paid for it.”


Vampire Wars: The Von Carstein Trilogy

Last night I finally finished Steven Savile’s Vampire Wars: The Von Carstein Trilogy. This is another Warhammer novel, taking place long before Gotrek & Felix roamed the world. I’d really enjoyed William King’s Vampireslayer and so was looking forward to learning more about the vampire legacy in the world of Warhammer.

Savile strikes me as a pretty good author in search of a pretty good editor. Lots of what he writes is really well done, but you’ll hit some real clunkers now and then, mostly when he tries to work some historical quote into the book. At one point late in the book, a swarm of bats block out the sun and one of the officers confidently quips “Good. We shall have our battle in the shade.” We are still reeling from that groaner when Mannfred, being harried by the Grand Theogonist (a high ranking official in the order of Sigmarites) suddenly shouts “Would someone rid me of this damnable holy man?

The other main problem is that the books are disjointed, and I’m guessing that once again they started as a series of short pieces published in (or meant to be published in) White Dwarf. So characters appear and disappear almost randomly. Sometimes they vanish for good, other times they’ll suddenly pop up again 300 pages later. It prevents the book from ever getting into a smooth flow. It doesn’t make it bad so much as it makes it unusual.

On the other hand, these are bad vampires. These days it seems like the focus is on making vampires some kind of tragic figures, but not the ones in these books. This is gritty, gory book full of ghouls and zombies and dire wolves (and vampires, of course!). None of the three vampire Counts’ features are tragic, though there is one brush with vampires more like the ones that Gotrek & Felix encountered.

Lots of fighting, lots of heroics, lots of death. One of the benefits of the willy-nilly coming and going of characters is that really bad things happen to characters you’ve come to care about. Savile will spend enough time on a character that you start thinking “OK, this is a main character, he’s safe.” and then BAM! something terrible happens.

At 766 pages, its a *long* volume and I think if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have read all the volumes in it sequentially, because after a while you do get kind of desensitized to it all. There’s only so many ways to depict corpses clawing their way out of their graves to attack the living, y’know? But the book isn’t too long, because it covers a lot of time and a lot of campaigns and a ton of characters.

By the time I started reading Vampire Wars, I’d pretty much finished playing Warhammer Online, and the focus on vampires, men and dwarves did nothing to remind me this was a Warhammer novel. Orcs and goblins are mentioned only tangentially, and the elves had not yet revealed themselves when these events took place. Chaos doesn’t feature in the books, either. This isn’t good or bad; I’m just conveying the info that if you’re playing Warhammer Online, don’t expect these books to tie into that too much.

On a scale of 1-5, I’m going to give Vampire Wars: The Von Carstein Trilogy, 3 stars. It was good, but had some rough spots and was a bit disjointed. It probably would’ve benefited from one more edit/rewrite cycle. Still, a fun book to read.

Call to Arms “Live War Expansion” announced.

Today Mythic announced “Call to Arms” which they’re dubbing a “Live Expansion”. Whatever that means.

Details here, but what intrigues me most is the new dungeon called Land of the Dead, which is supposed to be similar to the mucho-fun “Darkness Falls” dungeon in DAoC.

Sorry so brief, but I’m at work. 🙂

Warhammer “Zone Domination” patch

Another wacky video from Paul Barnett. He teases multiple items in a mail, suggests that zone crashes are virtually abolished, and talks about “Zone Domination” in which the method by which you’d capture a zone would be “less rubbish.”

Probably too late for me, but good to see they continue to improve things. But the cynic in me wonders why things weren’t “less rubbish” at launch?

War Wishy Washy

I haven’t gone back to check, but I think in my Warhammer posts I alternate liking the game and griping about the game. Maybe it’s because I have fun in one session and it raises my expectations for the next one and then I get disappointed, so have low expectations for the following session and get a pleasant surprise? 🙂

Today’s gripe is once again back on the lack of polish and slow leveling speed. My Witchhunter was level 18 doing quests that required killing mobs level 21-23, and had rested experience. I completed 3 kill ten rats quests, a fed ex quest and a couple of Kill Collector turn-ins and earned maybe 1/6th of a level over the course of the session. That’d be fine for 3 easy quests, but if felt pretty paltry considering they were tough quests for my level (I died a lot…level 23 mobs are dicey) and the fact that I had to clear a lot of trash mobs of level 20-21 to get to the 23s I needed.

I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but I would go back to turn in one of these quests totally psyched to see the EXP bar zoom up and then it’d just nudge over a smidge. 🙁 A tad disappointing. And all the rewards are too high for me to use! LOL.

Worse though was more evidence of the lack of polish. I was fighting big cats that could stun me. What would happen would be my hotbars would suddenly go dark. Then I’d get a text message saying something about being stunned. Then finally my character would switch to a prone stance. These were distinct sequential events. And note how I didn’t say “my character would fall down” because he didn’t. One frame standing, next frame prone.

Plus the old ‘stuck in the shooting animation’ bug when I use my Trial By Pain (I think its called) skill to kill something. This is the Witchhunter skill where he rapid-fires his pistol at point blank range. If the target dies, the Witchhunter keeps firing and firing until you do something that’ll make it stop. I finally figured out jumping would do this. That one’s just aesthetic though and it impacts you *after* a fight, not during it. The stun thing, where seeing your character get knocked down is important feedback, is a bigger deal.

Quote of the day, heard on the regional channel where a warband was doing OpenRvR: “Get ready, I can feel the lag of their approach!”

I can’t wait to try Warhammer next Fall after Mythic has had plenty of time to polish and flesh out some thin spots. There’s a gem of a game hidden in there somewhere!

Another MMO smorgasbord

The snow was coming down and we’d finished all the chores we’d set out to do this week, so today was a perfect “Stay home and play games” day.

Lots of tokens to spend!I started in EQ2 where Riowa ran that silly ice-instance *four* more times, twice each with two of Angela’s characters (one 80 and the other 60), and he finally made level 50. Yay! It took a couple of experience buff potions and the 5-year vet reward that replenishes your vitality to 100% to do it, but he made it. And promptly went to spend his *huge* horde of tokens on all kinds of new gear. Now of course he has to get to level 52 to actually *wear* his new stuff. 🙂

Then earlier this evening I dipped my head back into Vanguard again. Still very fun and I’m liking the bard’s song book (where you can combine melodies and embellishments to make just the song you want to make, with each part having a different buff associated). There are some things I really don’t understand and I think I’ll have to go read a Bard guide somewhere if I’m going to keep playing him. A tutorial pop-up told me I was going to learn my first “finishing move” but I’m not sure where that is, and there’s some little widget above my hot bar that gives me a 4% buff but doesn’t seem to be an ‘active’ control, so I’m not sure what’s up with it. The newbie island is (I think?) a new addition (at least, I don’t remember it from my time playing at launch) and it has a nice bunch of pretty linear “getting started” quests that both gear you up nicely and have a good storyline. I haven’t touched Crafting or Diplomacy yet…I’m not sure how ‘deep’ I want to get into the game give that I only have 30 days to play it. I’ve been delighted to find random named mobs in the wilds, and to get decent drops off them after I defeated them, without it being part of a Quest. And I have to admit to having a total nerdgasm the first time someone flew by on a Pegasus. I noticed the shadow on the ground first, then craned my neck up to see the steed far overhead. Since I was rounding up wayward chickens for a villager at the time, it was a truly aspirational moment and got me wondering if I could manage the cost of a Station Pass membership…

Finally, tonight I logged into Warhammer Online, planning to totally ignore Scenarios and RvR, which I did. The regional chat had me very happy to be doing this, as the idiots were fapping away at their epeens at a remarkable rate, with plenty of “lern 2 play!!1!omg!!” level accusations being thrown back and forth. Someone needs to teach these little cretins that sitting in front of a PC playing computer games does *not* make you a tough guy, and the level of testosterone they bring to the table just makes them look like idiots. And bragging about being drunk is just bragging about being too stupid to be able to control yourself and/or being too feeble to hold your liquor.

Ahem. Anyway…aside from the chat, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? Actually it was quite nice. I did a little quest line that takes you through “The Catacombs” to a back door of the “Grim Monastery,” clearing out various bad dudes as you go. The atmosphere was awesome (and got me thinking about Vampire Wars). Sadly it ended with a Champion level NPC that I couldn’t handle, but it made me really hope that Mythic at some point turns its talents to more PvE content. After I’d gotten as far as I could with that, I headed into High Pass and established a new base at Nuhr’s Crest.

All this fighting had me falling in love with the Witch Hunter battle mechanics once again; I just love the pistol/sword combination and building up Accusations to unleash onto your foes. One adjustment I really need to make, and I wonder if this is at the root of the “not enough PvE content to level” debate, is gettin used to the idea that you can fight well over your level in NPC combat. Gillain (my Witch Hunter) is level 18 and he’s fighting ogres around Nuhr’s Crest that are level 22 or 23 — in most games that’d mean a ton of downtime (or a ton of deaths) but in Warhammer it’s very manageable (social mobs are very rare and aggro ranges are very small), and of course the experience rewards are quite nice, particularly if you’re on “Rested” experience. Speaking of which, I had to run an errand in Altdorf, and when I got there I decided it’d be a good place to camp in order to get that bonus rested exp.

It was good to have pure PvE fun in Warhammer since it means I can get some use out of my 45 or so days left I have on the account. I’m unconvinced that the RvR enthusiasts will be around for years doing just RvR, so I’m hoping that as the game matures, Mythic will give some attention to PvE content. I mean think about it: how do other games keep players around? By releasing new content with new encounters to master. And by encounters, I mean new mobs that have new abilities and new weaknesses to discover. How do you go about adding new, fresh RvR experiences when the armies don’t change? But giving classes new abilities for every content push while keeping the sides balanced doesn’t seem like a viable course of action. I guess we’ll see. Maybe I’m just projecting in order to nurture my daydreams of a rich PvE MMO experience in the Warhammer universe that I’m growing so fond of (via the novels I’ve been reading). Eh, a man can dream, can’t he?

Meanwhile, in MMO land…

So lest you think all this Valkyria Chronicles talk means I’ve given up MMOs…

The other day I logged into Warhammer and *gasp!* found a group, finished a few quests, and gained a level. That said, I think I’m done. I have to work too hard to find the fun in Warhammer, while it comes so easily in other games. And as I just commented over at Stylish Corpse, I don’t think I like the reality of RvR. Maybe I’d like it in Dofus where everything is turn-based, but I’m just not into the lag-fest chaos franticality (I need to submit that word to Websters) that is RvR/PvP in most MMOs. I suppose the fact that I *greatly* prefer turn-based combat in my single player RPGs speaks to that as well. But y’know, I’m *loving* these Warhammer novels to the point where I’m so glad I tried the game, even though I don’t really enjoy it. I never would’ve picked up the novels if I hadn’t been exposed to the lore in the game.

Over in EQ2, my Berserker is slogging forward. He’s a hair’s breath from level 49 and I need to get him to 50 before the Frostfell event ends. I’ve got over 50 tokens stored up to buy him all new gear once the next tier of stuff opens up. The other day he Mentored Angela’s level 18 Warden and in one session we got her to 23. It was fun to be the Mentor-er rather than the Mentor-ee for a change. 🙂 I guess I need to /claim my 5-year veteran award and get that charm that gives you 100% vitality once a week.

And, just because I’m me, I fired up Vanguard last night! It’s open to ex-players through the end of January (I think?) and I’ve been reading good things about it lately so figured I’d at least poke my nose in. The world looks fabulous (has it always looked this good? Maybe I just never had a graphics card capable of showing it at its best) but the avatars still bug me. The community seems pretty helpful and chatty. I rolled a Bard and he’s kind of a bad-ass. I might dip my head back in there again. I do still feel a lack of polish in interface tweaking and so forth, but the game ran pretty well once (I presume) a bunch of textures got cached. I hitched like mad for the first few minutes then everything smoothed out.

I also downloading Florensia, a free2play, but haven’t done much with it. It has naval battles, and I’m still trying to scratch the itch and Pirates of the Burning Seas just aggravated.

Poor LOTRO still awaits my attention. I *really* need to get back to that. I think I need to quit my guild, Soldiers of Valor though. I’ve been away long enough that it feels awkward to log in and have to answer all the questions about where I’ve been (or worse, “Who the heck are you?”), and while they’re a nice group of people (and if you’re looking for a guild on Landroval, do check them out!), I play LOTRO so infrequently that it really isn’t right that I’m in a guild, and I’ll never feel any kind of attachment to a guild until such time as I play more regularly.


Giantslayer is the last Gotrek & Felix book written by William King before he handed off the series to Nathan Long. Reports are that Long really stumbles with our mighty duo of Gotrek the Dwarf Slayer and Felix the Warrior-Scholar, but sadly I found that King did some stumbling of his own.

After the wonderful Omnibus Volume. 2 I was really excited to dive into Giantslayer and find out who the Giant is and how the duo will slay it. And as with all series books, the first few chapters felt like a ‘warm up’ to the real action. So I dutifully slogged through them, and after a few nights of reading I started to wonder when the action was going to heat up. And then I noticed I was two-thirds of the way through the book!

This one just never comes together as a Gotrek & Felix book; I suspect this was a story King wanted to tell and he just wedged the pair into it. They don’t even feel like main characters, and via a Deus Ex Machina device they’re not even in the Empire anymore. All their companions get left behind very early on and they’re just kind of adrift in a new (to them) world.

It’s true that as the title suggests, they’ll have to slay a giant, but that’s a side plot and the giant isn’t the main Foozle of the book. Gotrek (who, let’s face it, is a fairly ‘thin’ character at the best of times) is a total cardboard cut-out here, and I think his axe gets more attention than he does. He grumbles now and then (in a very predictable fashion) but otherwise is just swept along. Felix is handled a bit better and has some sub-plot ‘stubs’ but they’re never fleshed out and never come to anything.

The focus of the book is Teclis, a high-elf they meet early on in their adventures (giving Gotrek his single schtick throughout the book, grumbling about how much he hates and mistrusts elves). I’m a Warhammer novice so I don’t know for sure, but I suspect Teclis is a ‘known hero’ in the Warhammer universe. If I already knew about and liked Teclis, this novel might have been more interesting to me, but I signed on for Gotrek & Felix being mighty warriors, not to see them as often-ineffectual sidekicks to a potent elf mage.

The one saving grace is that some long-running plotlines get tied up here, but overall I kind of wish I’d finished my Gotrek & Felix adventure with the Second Omnibus. I can’t in good faith recommend Giantslayer unless you’re a fan of Teclis. Gotrek & Felix deserved a better final novel from William King.

Warhammer Revisited

Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to go back…

I re-upped, patched, and spent some time reconfiguring things (my UI seemed to have gotten reset to default) and started playing again.

And I just dunno… all the rough bits still feel rough. I do my Blessed Bullets of XXX spell, and the animation for it is the Witch Hunter kind of holds his pistol up and ‘cocks’ it. And my arm stays stuck up, so I’m running around with my hand over my head. That’s aesthetic, granted.

I log out to check some add-ons and when I get back in… my chat windows are back where they were before I fixed them. So I guess they *still* move around on their own.

I *did* get into some oRVR, defending the Monastery of Morr from Destruction. Getting into a Warband was a snap, there were healers healing and everything. Plenty of players around.

But the lag was *terrific* with people just vanishing and constantly getting “not in range” errors when visually the target was clearly in range. Once I died and ran around for a good 5 seconds with the “Respawn” graphic up, but my character running around as if he was still good to go. Morale abilities still seem dicey, too. I thought those got fixed?

And worst of all was that after a while it just got dull. Granted the Monastery is just a BO, not a Keep or anything. But the two sides squared off. Every so often someone would feint, and either draw a member of the opposing side into concentrated fire, or stumble into it themselves. Destruction would retreat to their camp when things started going badly for them, and we’d retreat into ours when things went bad for us.

So I decided to do some PvE, but from my station in Bohsenfels (right in the center of Ostland) all my quest markers were way on the far side of the map, which a) seemed like a long way to run and b) was probably going to be too tough for me. I guess I need to head to one of the other pairings and do some T2 PvE there to level up some?

I dunno, maybe subconsciously I’d already made up my mind, but after two hours I was pretty much ready to shut down and do something else. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow when I’m fresh and not all frazzled from a long week at work.

WAR for Christmas?

Ahhh. Feel that? It’s normalcy. Today is a normal day (well, quasi-normal anyway). Which means a lunch break. Which means pontificating!

So Angela is gone for the weekend and a major snow storm is rolling in. That means lots of potential gaming time. Next week I have 3 days of work than a solid 11 days off, between holidays, weekends, and spending my accrued vacation time. So even more gaming time!

My plan had been to activate Warhammer using that 60-day timecard I bought at Black Friday. I’ve heard good things about patch 1.1 and now there’s some kind of bonus experience thing happening. So it seems like the perfect time to do it: in-game perks and out-of-game free time.

And yet I find myself hesitating. I know that if I go back and War isn’t fun for me this time, that I’ll probably never go back again. So that’s part of it, but that kind of hesitation will be there no matter *when* I go back. There’s always another patch coming, right?

But another part of it is my fellow bloggers. I’m not seeing a lot of Warhammer excitement on blogs these days, and my two biggest bellweathers, Ysh and Bildo, *seem* (and I could just be reading them wrong) to be suffering a bit from the Warhammer Blahs.

And the last part is that I’m afraid my expectations no longer match the game. I continue to read and enjoy the Gotrek & Felix novels and I want to know: where are these great adventures in the game? Are they up there in the higher tiers? Will we fight vampires and giants and travel the paths of the old ones and visit Albion and those strange people? Or are we limited to mostly fighting the armies of the other pairings?

I don’t suppose there’ll ever be a better time to go back, but I feel like I should be more excited about the prospect. Am I just setting myself up for disappointment? Or do I just have cold feet that are keeping me from having a grand old time in War?