Character Transfers incoming to Warhammer

Everyone else has blogged about this too, but when I was getting ready to write my daily lunch-hour post I was drawing a complete blank. So I’m taking the easy way out.

We are pleased to announce that in the coming days we will be offering Free Character Transfers from our servers with lower populations to a set of servers with higher populations. To help you better prepare for these transfers we have provided additional details below.

Casualties of War’s Destruction side is on one of the servers that is currently tagged as a ‘Source’ server, so they need to decide if they’re going to move. My Destruction characters are on one of the servers tagged as a “Destination” server, so that’s good news for me. More warm bodies to wreak havoc with. CoW won’t be moving to ‘my’ server though as they’re on a Core Server and I’m on an RP one.

I’m glad they’re not letting people cross server-type lines in the transfer. There actually is RP on my RP server…not big elaborate stuff, but on a small, on-going scale, and its fun.

I’m still on the fence about what to do at the end of this Warhammer Month (the 18th of November, iirc). I enjoy the game when I play it lightly. When I start playing it a lot, the frustration builds. But do I want to spend $15/month for an MMO I’m going to play lightly? On the other hand, I still am somewhat confident that Mythic will continue to improve things (slightly less so after results I’m hearing about this Witching Hour event). And on the third hand, I don’t want to break my ties with CoW.

A perfect solution for me would be a Lifetime Subscription offer. That I’d snap up and then be able to relax and enjoy Warhammer when I’m in the mood for it without that nagging feeling of “I *should* be playing this game more since I’m paying for it.” That’s the route I took with LOTRO and I’m really, really content with that decision.

I’ve got a few weeks to decide what to do. But I have both LOTRO and EQ2 expansions pre-ordered. Maybe I’ll let Moria languish for a while and play EQ2 and WAR together for a month or two, then dive into Moria.

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 Warhammer Worm Turns

So yesterday, not 12 hours after I posted a long, whiny, whinge-filled post, I logged back into Warhammer, and had a blast. Somewhat paradoxically, this only confirms the points I made earlier in the day. The game hadn’t changed in 12 hours. I hadn’t changed. What changed was the server population.

After 4 or 5 sessions of logging in, grinding Chapter 7 Influence with nothing to show for it but that little bar filling up ever so slowly, I finally found not just a group, but a couple of groups doing Chapter 7. We eventually formed a Warband and ran through the Plague Trolls PQ a few times, which finally got my influence capped, and got Gillain to level 16. It’s not a particularly inspired PQ but I was just happy to be out of there.

Finally free of the area, I traveled up the road a bit to the next quest hub. All the while it sounded like there was some pretty decent OpenRvR going on, but I was still licking those wounds a bit so I ignored it. The new quest hub offered a bunch of quests and I quickly knocked out several of them. I stumbled on a small Open group doing a Chapter 8 PQ with the aid of a high level White Lion, and tagged along completing that a couple of times and getting some nice new armor for the trouble (some blue witch hunter gloves dropped and I was the only witch hunter there).

So to recap: prior 4-5 sessions I gained Influence, a little XP, a little coin.

Last night in one session I gained: capped Chapter 7 influence, made rank 16, another half-level of experience, about a third of the influence I need for Chapter 8, explored a new area, read some interesting new quest lore, got sweet new gloves, a new sword, and some gold.

Clearly last night is the kind of gaming I’m paying to enjoy. So what can I do to maximize this kind of gaming session?

  • Play in Prime Time. I think I’ll Just Say No to playing during the day on weekends. I have plenty of other things to do that are more rewarding than drifting around an empty world.
  • Be willing to give up. If I log in and after ten minutes or so can’t find a group or something interesting to do, I’ll just log off and do something else. Being stubborn and forcing myself to stay and grind just makes me unpleasant
  • Stop being anal. Sharing a Tier 2 PQ with a level 30 White Lion was kind of a wake up call that its OK to leave content behind for now. I’m an A-B-C-D person. If I read a magazine, I start at the front cover and read through to the back. When I’m playing an MMO I feel driven to complete an earlier section before moving on to the next. I’m only hurting myself by doing this. The content isn’t going anywhere.
  • I’ll put this one in for Ysh: Ask. I’m part of a guild and I really need to get over my hesitation about asking for help from them. This has been a struggle for me. I don’t really think most of the guild even know who I am, and certainly they don’t know who my character is. That’s my fault, not theirs. If I never say anything and avoid Vent whenever possible, how are they supposed to get to know me?

If anyone has suggestions to add to this list, *please* leave a comment. I’m not alone in this “Warhammer is a good game when it isn’t sucking” kind of opinion. Maybe we can help each other to help ourselves to maximize the good times and minimize the sucking times.

Empire in Chaos

Empire in Chaos by Anthony Reynolds is a Warhammer novel written specifically to go along with Warhammer Online. It follows the trip of a motley band of adventurers from point A to point B where they encounter a battle. If that sounds dull, well, you’re right.

While there’s some fun early on in the book as you figure out what class each character is supposed to be, overall there’s just not much plot here. Annaliese Jaegar (a shameless surname ripoff from Felix Jaegar of the Gotrek & Felix stories) is a peasant girl who becomes a Warrior Priest, so at least she grows and changes over the course of the book, but the rest of the gang — Udo Grunwald the Witch Hunter, Thorrick the Ironbreaker, Eldanair the Shadow Warrior and Karl the Knight of the Blazing Sun — are caricatures of their classes who for the most part arrive at the end of the book unchanged from when they entered.

There are a *lot* of battle scenes and writing these is Reynold’s single strong point, but after a while you just start skimming “mighty axe blow opens him to the waist…blah blah blah…bits of brain spatter across her face…blah blah blah…screams of dying men and horses…yeah ok when does the *story* start again??”

But as for the rest of the writing, it is *abysmal*. I imagine what happened (since Reynolds seems to have written some other novels that have decent Amazon ratings) is that this was a super rush job that no editor ever looked at. The point of view drifts aimlessly from character to character to third party back to another character until you can only guess at whose internal voice you’re hearing at any given time. There are just bad passages all over the place; the kind of bad that makes you stop and read the line aloud to someone else so you can both marvel at its spectacle. Y’know, Angrily he said, “You must follow me now!”, with anger in his voice. That’s not an actual quote; I should’ve jotted some of them down.

I could (and did) go on and on, but to prevent another huge wall of text I’m just going to hit delete and say: this is a bad book. It’s badly written, badly edited, has a bland story and a bad ending. The most horrifying thing about it is that the epilogue seems to set up a follow-on volume.

Oh, and the whole thing is written from the point of view of Order. If you play Destruction you won’t see much about your side other than them being a big old bag of evil.

Warhammer Bullet Points

Since my last post was exceptionally whiny even for me, and a typical Pete Wall Of Text, I figured I’d summarize:

  • Warhammer is primarily an RvR game
  • When the game is firing on all cylinders, it is amazingly fun
  • Whether or not it is firing on all cylinders is totally up to the players *on both sides*
  • Warhammer fun cannot be scheduled. Every log in is a roll of the dice; you might have an awesome time and you might be bored to tears
  • The only consistent way to more-or-less control the experience is playing scenarios

Most of this is based on Averheim. On Ostermark (an RP server) things feel somewhat different.

What I realized from summarizing these points is that maybe people don’t grind scenarios because they’re the most efficient way to level. Maybe they grind them because they’re a more controlled play experience.

Point 3 is a biggie. For as much trouble as it can be forming a group in a PvE game, you have twice as much trouble in an RvR game. You need a group on each side that is interested in doing RvR. And of course you can’t LFG on the other side.

War’s ups & downs

While playing Warhammer last night I had some quests to do in RvR areas. A few times I ran across a member of Destruction, and we did battle. The experience buffs make a huge difference. I’ve been grinding plague trolls for like 2 weeks (obviously not literally). I’m level 15, they’re level 15. They give 400 experience per kill. Up the road a bit are these pesky sprites that are level 16. They also give 400 experience. When I ran into a level 15 Destruction character and fought him 1 on 1, I got 2000 experience for the kill. Later I encountered a level 17 Destruction character and beat her. 3000+ experience for that. So yeah, the xp buffs make a marked difference.

WARNING: Moping, whining part of the post begins here.

This morning I log in and go back to grinding plague trolls, fantasizing about a day when I can get a group to cap Chapter 7 influence. Then amazingly, more people show up. I join their open group and we churn through stage 1. Finally I’ll be able to do stage 2 on this infernal, hateful, spiteful, vile Public Quest. And then… they all leave. And I’m left alone again doing this quest.

Ah well. I go grind sprites while the trolls reset. At one point two of them attack me. Things are looking bad, so I pop a health potion. “That item cannot be used yet.” WTF? The icon isn’t dimmed, there’s no cooldown timer on it. I try a HoT Potion. “That item cannot be used yet.” Bam. Respawn. *sigh*

At this point I’m not having fun and thinking that maybe cleaning the toilet would be more rewarding than grinding more trolls and sprites. I decide to say the hell with it and move on, leaving Chapter 7 incomplete. And then Mandred’s Hold comes under attack. There’s chatter about it in /regional and I head out there to defend the homeland. Destruction has a sizable force attacking the Keep. Order has… me. At least that I saw.

I try to pick off a straggler but get noticed and killed. Respawn, head into the Postern Door. Destruction is inside but I get up the ramp and aid the NPC Keep Lord in defending as best I can. Still no Order. Destruction pushes up the ramp, I die. Run back…and just as I get to the front gate the guards change to Destruction. Keep is lost.

In /region there’s much moaning and groaning. I give up, go back to finding quests or something to do. Then Destruction hits the other Keep. Much more moaning and hand wringing in /regional, with a side dish of finger pointing. Finally it sounds like maybe someone other than me might actually think about perhaps defending, so I turn around and start running back. But by the time I get into the area, the keep has fallen. More moaning and groaning, and then someone suggests “Well let’s take it back!” but they’re shouted down by some self-professed Leader of Order who explains that its not a good time because there are defenders.

WTF? Isn’t that the BEST time to have a fun battle?

At this point I realize that my day is slipping away and a long unpleasant work week is drawing near and having to work this hard to have fun just isn’t an efficient use of my time, so I log.

Yes, I’m pouting & whining instead of acting. I could’ve shouted down the self-professed Leader or Order. Or I could’ve done what most others did and just let Destruction steam-roll the BO’s and Keeps and keep grinding trolls. But by this point the wind had gone completely out of my sails.

Warhammer is great fun with the planets align and you find a group and there’s some openRvR happening. But for me, that’s maybe 25% of the time that I play. And I’m really starting to question whether its worth $15/month for that 2 hours of real fun I get out of it every week.

Will Halloween bring OpenRvR Love to WAR?

So over at the Herald Associate Producer Mark Davis brags talks a bit about how some of his ideas made it into Warhammer. It’s a fun enough read but then we get to this:

In the skirmish areas around the entire world during the Halloween holiday, there will be boss monsters lurking for players to kill. They’ll have cool loot on them, of course, so players from both sides will want to take them down. I’m sure Order and Destruction will play nicely with each other and share equally with each other for the spoils of the fight – yeah right!

Yeah right, indeed! Will this be enough to coax people out of the scenario queues? What will it be like, trying to take down a boss monster while also defending yourself from incoming players from the other side. Will we be able to “ninja” the boss, letting the other side weaken it (and the boss weaken them) before we sweep in to obliterate both players and boss at once? Will there be stand-offs with both sides waiting for the other to attack the Boss?

Lots of possibilities here. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, thinking about getting the chance to slaughter (and be slaughtered) in celebration of Witching Night!

In the meantime, Ysh had a great post on PvE up at Stylish Corpse, with Thallian, Smaken and I commenting so far. There’s the beginnings of a good conversation over there, so check it out. I hear Ysh is serving hot mulled cider in honor of the season. Presumably she spikes it with rum….

Mark Jacobs Interview at Ten Ton Hammer

Oh, that sweet crooner Mark Jacobs. Look at what he said when asked about the new RvR Influence System:

I know for sure that it’s not going to be designed to encourage people to play scenarios.

Good news to those of us in the Anti Scenario Society [ASS]. We ASSes are sick to death of worlds being empty cuz everyone is sitting in a Scenario Queue. If you’re not an ASS, then don’t fret, Jacobs says they won’t nerf Scenarios, just make OpenRvR better. Hopefully good enough that you’ll leave the queue and come out and try to smack some ASSes around.

Anyway, read the full review here.

Melee DPS in War: Huh! What are they good for?

Absolutely nothin!

OK, that’s not literally true but I needed to say it to invoke the classic song. You young’uns will just have to trust me.

Anyway I spent the weekend alt-hopping, and I’m growing increasingly disillusioned with melee DPS classes in Warhammer Online for doing RvR (they do great at PvE). I’m writing this post so people can tell me how stupid I am and convince me that melee DPS is deadly when handled right.

Over the past couple of days I’ve played a healer, tank and melee DPS on both sides of the fight. Healers are hard to kill and, well, heal. Tanks are hard to kill and do plenty of damage. Melee DPS drop if you look at them wrong and do plenty of damage, assuming no one looks at them wrong. (None of this includes Range DPS…I haven’t been playing them.)

The problem boils down to survivability. Melee DPS armor isn’t anthing to crow about, so you really need external help to stay alive. Healers tend not to heal DPS classes for a couple of valid reasons: 1) Healers are busy keeping themselves and the Tanks alive & 2) Melee DPS takes damage so damned quickly that it’s almost impossible to keep them up unless the healer is laser-focused on 1 particular melee DPS. Plus some healers seem to have an inherent disdain for melee dps since all they do is “smash buttons to do damage”.

Before you react too strongly to that last paragraph I say again, I’ve been playing a healer on and off the past few days, and I too didn’t heal the melee DPS after a few tries. It just wasn’t efficient to do so. By the time they draw the attention of the other side and start taking damage, they’re as good as dead. You can’t dump healing on them fast enough to keep them up unless you ignore everyone else.

Tanks seem to be plenty good at busting through enemy lines and laying the smack down on their healers & ranged DPS. A tank with a pack full of potions can stay up for a long time even without heals; have a healer drop a HoT on him now and then and it’ll take sustained attention from 3 or 4 enemies to bring him down. And his damage is good, too.

To test all this I’ve been playing Scenarios (which, btw, reaffirmed my dislike of them and the people that play them, each of whom is apparently the single person on their team who knows how2play!), so I have a “scorecard” to check. I’ve won some, lost some, playing as Order, playing as Destruction. My Tank consistently ranked near the top of the charts for my side in terms of Damage Done, and near the bottom in terms of deaths. My Melee DPS was the inverse, often topping the charts in number of deaths and being near the bottom in damage done. It’s hard to do damage when you spend most of the scenario face down in the mud.

All of this experimentation was done in Tier 1, so hopefully things change. The classes I played were a Rune Priest, Ironbreaker and Marauder (and I play a Witch Hunter as my ‘main’). It’s possible I picked the best tank and the worst melee dps, or something equally odd to skew my experience. In particular when playing Order I’ve had some bad Witch Elf experiences, and I think that has to do with their short-term stealth maybe?

I’d love to hear from other melee DPS players. Has it been rough for you, or do you do ok? There were literally times with that Marauder that I was killed before I even reached the back ranks of the baddies. They saw me incoming, I got a face full spells and was respawning before I knew what had hit me (literally). I played a high level Marauder in beta and I know they get that freaky tentacle that’ll yank an enemy TO you rather than you trying to charge through enemy lines, so maybe that’s the basic Marauder M.O.?