Archive for the ‘Expansions’ Category

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A Third Faction: How Could It Work?

August 29, 2008

It seems to be a hot topic these days (see: /random, Keen, Tobold), and I’m just the sort of person who doesn’t mind hopping on a media train now and then as long as they’re serving all-beef hot dogs on the trip. The topic is: why doesn’t Warhammer Online have three factions? Or could it? Or will it?

This is a bizarre set of questions unless you consider that Mythic made a name for itself with a three-faction battle MMO — Dark Age of Camelot. In it, players aligned with Albion, Midgard and Hibernia to battle to see which of the three was just the duckiest of them all. It’s been proven to be done, but the question remains: why did WAR pare it down to two factions, and is there the possibility of a third in the future?

The answer to first question is obvious and has been answered already. In short, people identify most strongly with good-vs-evil, side A versus side B. Plus, having two factions keeps the game manageable. WAR was built from the ground-up to be a two-faction game, with tug o’ wars between zones and the overall world RvR war. I’ve never heard of an easy way to do a three-way tug o’ war, have you? Can you even imagine how complicated it might be to have a third faction competing for each zone, messing up the area influence meters, or tipping the scales by siding with one faction against another? I mean, if you thought people cry now because of perceived population imbalance, can you imagine how insane it would be with a third?

I think it’s most logical to assume that Mythic will keep the two-faction war from now until the end of Warhammer’s run. But it’s fun to speculate, eh? Here’s a few ideas that popped into my head, particularly when it comes to the next expansion or two:

(1) The safest bet for expansions is that they’re come out and feature a new racial pairing. It would be relatively easy to do and would plug in nicely into WAR’s dual-pairing zone structure. One race would be for Order, one for Destruction, and the war would continue, just a bit more broad. (As you might recall, I’ve predicted a Lizardmen vs. Undead pairing.)

(2) A third faction is introduced as a neutral faction that has the choice for fighting for either side. Roll this around in your mouth a bit — Warhammer Online: Dogs of War. Doesn’t it just… flow? Think of them as a hodge-podge of 3-5 races/careers that would start out in a new zone that has Order vs. Destruction NPCs competing, but the characters wouldn’t be aligned with either of them. Over the course of the zone, the Dogs of War (or whatever you’d like to call them) would be seduced and wooed and paid by both sides to come join them, and eventually the player would make a choice: to join Order or Destruction. Then, at the end of the zone there would be a RvR fight between the two newly-joined factions, and following that players would hop a flight to whatever tier 2 zone they’d wish.

(3) A third faction is introduced but is limited to fighting amongst itself. I’m thinking Warhammer: The Undead as a title and focus. One side would be the Tomb Kings, the other the Vampire Counts. They’d be plopped into their own tier 1-4 zones with a capital city struggle at the end, but wouldn’t be for or against Chaos/Order. Almost a separate game in its own right, but still connected to the larger game world via economy and perhaps scenarios.

(4) Mythic reworks the game from the bottom up to accommodate a third faction into the struggle (triangles will need to be used), and what is already chaotic war will get even more so.

Other than that, I don’t know how a third faction will come into play. As I said, option (1) is the most likely, but I really like the idea of (2) as well. What do you think?

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World of Warhammer – No, Really, It’s An Actual Book

June 25, 2008

Because it was cited as one of the artistic and inspirational sources behind the current incarnation of Warhammer Online, I ordered an out-of-print copy of “World of Warhammer: The Official Illustrated Guide to the Fantasy World” a few weeks ago. It came in the mail and I triumphantly waved it at my wife, who has long since stopped calling the special doctor every time I showed a quirk of dementia. “A-HA!” I said. “IT’S HERE! SIGMAR BE PRAISED!”

Then I had to put the book down and take my quiet time pills.

One of the challenges of trying to indoctrinate yourself into the Warhammer Fantasy world is that there really is no one main source for everything Warhammer. Sure, there’s the Games Workshop website, the fantasy RPG guide, the tabletop guides, but since this fantasy world is a bit more fluid and changing than others, it’s hard to peg down exactly who does what where and why and to what extent. I think this 1998 book might be the best overview of the Warhammer fantasy world you could hope to find, and yet it still left me unsatisfied.

I think it’s partially because I got it for the art, which is decent yet a little too… cartoony… for my tastes. And also because it was less on technical specs (“classes” and such) and more on general overviews of each race.

Since we’ve heard a lot about the six/seven races being implemented into WAR — the Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins), Dark Elves, Chaos, Empire, High Elves and Dwarfs — what interested me most was to take a peek at the OTHER Warhammer fantasy races… which we might very well see come expansion time.

Lizardmen: Children of the Old Ones

  • This race is composed of a variety of humanish reptiles who live in the jungle of Lustria (the Warhammer equivalent of South America).
  • Three main sub-species of Lizardmen: Slann (fat toad/frog creature), Saurus (crocodile creature) and Skinks (giant newts/chameleon).
  • Possible classes: Mage-Priest, Totem Warrior, Scouts, Skirmishers, Dino-Riders
  • Lizardmen ride Cold Ones (mini-dinos), the same mounts as the Dark Elves use
  • Destruction or Order? Possibly Destruction, but since their enemies include Dark Elves and the Undead, Order might well be in the cards too.

Wood Elves: Defenders of the Forest

  • Occupy Athel Loren, much more beatnik and nature-loving than the High or Dark Elves.
  • More like the elves of Tolkien than the other elven races.
  • Possible classes: Dryad, Treemen, Tree Kin, Bowman, Spellsinger, Waywatcher (elite ranger), Glade Guard, Wardancer.
  • Destruction or Order? They hate dwarfs, so Destruction. They are friends with Bretonnia, so Order.

Bretonnia: Land of Chivalry

  • The “other” Warhammer human race, Bretonnia is more modeled after Britain/King Arthur than the Empire’s Germanic slant. Bretonnia is more rustic and more medieval than the steampunky Empire.
  • Possible classes: Knights, Knight Errant, Grail Knight, Archer, Grail Pilgrim, Damsel, Prophetess, Wizard
  • Destruction or Order? Can’t see them being Destruction, but will be weird to have two human races on the Order side.

Skaven: Children of the Horned Rat

  • Hordes of rat-men born out of Chaos who mostly live underground.
  • They have a capital — Skavenblight — that they nearly destroyed with magic.
  • Possible classes: Head-Taker, Grey Seers, Clan Rat, Stormvermin, Plague Monks
  • Destruction or Order? Most definitely Destruction.

Chaos Dwarfs: The Sons of Darkness

  • Like Dwarfs, just angrier and darker. They’re not very popular with the Warhammer crowd, and has thus been in decline lately.
  • Possible classes: Sorcerer-Priest, Sorcerer Engineers, Dawi-zharr, Hobgoblin, Sneaky Git
  • Destruction or Order? Destruction, although their creation of the Black Orcs — who turned on them — casts this into doubt.

Undead: Bane of Life

  • The Undead have two major factions: The Tomb Kings and the Vampire Counts
  • This faction covers pretty much all the horror staples — werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies, skeletons, wraiths
  • Possible classes: Necromancer, Skeleton Warrior, Greater Undead, Banshee, pretty much any of the horror “creatures”
  • Destruction or Order: Um… let me think… Destruction.

Other Races:

  • Dogs of War – Mercenary groups
  • Kislev – Nordic-themed, don’t have a big tabletop presence
  • Ogre Kingdoms – might be another fun race to go alongside of the Greenskins

So what looks likely for the first expansion? Unless Mythic eschews adding new playable races in favor of increasing the level cap and/or providing new areas of conquest, I think that a new racial pairing is likely in the works. Skaven are highly popular, but problematic to include (and will already be present in the game as NPCs). Chaos Dwarfs are so low on the radar as to be non-existent. Wood Elves are solid, but would represent a third elf race in a game already 1/3rd elven. Bretonnia is a bit medievalish and bland, and they’d be competing with the Empire for the human mindshare.

My thinking is Lizardmen (Order) vs. Undead (Destruction). The Lizardmen would give the Order side a crazy looking race — and “good” guys rarely get the weird looking races in these games. The Undead might be overwhelmingly attractive to many players in love with horror monsters. And emo kids wanting to be a vampire with mad leveling skillz.

But really, who knows? It’s all a shot in the dark, and since we’re a looooong ways away from any solid expansion info, we’ll just sit here with flights of fancy.

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Random Thoughts Monday

June 16, 2008

It’s a bad omen for the week when your key gets stuck in the front door of your work and you have to call a locksmith to get it out. Or is it?

With 12 careers per army/faction, will 10 character slots per server be enough? Why not 12? Whyyyyyy?

How is Mythic encouraging races to cross over into other race/tier zones in order to promote conflict? For example, how are they encouraging dwarfs to go over to the empire newbie zones, how are they getting dwarfs to cross over into the greenskins’ areas, etc.?

I’m mulling over attending August’s Gen Con in Indy this year. Two birds, one trip: my family lives in Indy, and I’d get to see Warhammer (if I’m not already in beta at that point). Maybe I’d buy a fancy hat with a feather and put a big “PRESS” card on the side. Maybe we could start a new office pool to see how many WAR devs I can hug.

I’m kind of blown away that Mythic is already working (at least in the planning stages) of WAR’s first expansion pack. I don’t know how most pre-launch MMOs function, but this shows a lot of confidence on the part of Mythic and EA.

Since only about 16 of the classes were available for play at Games Day, what’s going on with the other 8? Retooling? And why the big hush-hush over the Black Guard.

Snafzg made an excellent point in the podcast — Mythic really does need to be promoting a lot more of the Order side of things and working hard on giving them as cool of a feel as the Destruction races.

It is very, very possible that today might see WAAAAGH!’s biggest day yet, in terms of visitors to the blog. It’s not so much ego (if you can believe that) as it is that I’m a total stat monkey. I love stats and charts and crap like that. Update: Yahoo! WAAAGH! looks to be topping 5,000 visitors for today, which is a number I would have seriously laughed at if you told me it would happen back in March (ah, for those 23-people-per-day views). Thanks for visiting and supporting this silly blog.

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