Archive for September, 2008


That’s Hot. (Shut up, Paris.)

September 30, 2008

Due to “popular demand” and perhaps a liberal dose of “common sense”, Mythic has implemented cross-zone scenario queuing.  This is one of those things that you can’t quite understand why it wasn’t in the game at release, other than they had a billion other things to do, or perhaps they were trying to reinforce the notion of you fighting and dying for a particular army.

Whatever the reason, the end result were stymied players who had to go out of their way to queue up for other tier scenarios, either by traveling there in person or hooking up with friends/guildies who were already questing in that zone.  Nobody liked it, but it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world, so we coped.

Well cope no longer, my friends!  Now that we can queue up any or all of our tier’s scenarios, the potential for better populated scenarios is better, and we don’t have to worry about playing a hated scenario just because of where we’re questing.  It’s one of those things that show that Mythic is listening and responding.


Remember When We Were In Beta?

September 30, 2008

Man, time has flown since WAR launched, eh? Perhaps that’s because I’ve had precious little time to really play, but today I blinked and did a double-take when I realized that I’d been playing Head Start + Launch for almost two and a half weeks now. I’ve definitely shifted back into the MMO Play Mode, squeezing in an hour here or there, but I notice that, for as much as I’m enjoying WAR, I’ve been balancing it a bit better than WoW with other things in my life (like this here blog).

Other than keeping up with the bulk of my guild in terms of leveling, I don’t feel any particular rush or pressure to get things done and Right Now. If I want to spend a night PvPing, I do just that. Last night I joined a group of friends and we enjoyed dominating a PQ six or seven times to build up INF and XP (resulting in full bags of loot and a really nice pair of gloves for yours truly).

Right now we are all in a unique phase of the game that’s only going to last for another couple weeks, tops. It’s not just the “new car smell” of Warhammer Online, where you ooh and ahh over vent about some little secret you found or a great drop or some neat aspect of the game you just noticed. It’s also the last time that the majority of the player base will be leveling up together. There will be no more “resets” at this point, and once level 40s become more commonplace than level 1-39s, the game will shift from a leveling expo to the huge playground of endgame goodies (RvR, sieges, T4 scenarios, lairs, dungeons, etc.). After that point, some will stick with just one character from then on, but others (like myself) will begin leveling anew with alts. Not to mention all of the new players that will be constantly entering the game for the first time. Here is where I bet Mythic hopes the level spread will be decently balanced, with enough T1, T2 and T3 players to maintain the PQs and scenarios and open world RvR while T4 players do whatever.

Soon enough, things will calm down and players will gain an ever-increasing bank of knowledge about the game to master it — databases and wikis, secrets and unlocks, theorycrafting and min/maxing. Memes will rise and fall, such as the recent “Banhammer!”-fest. WAR will continue to add its own unique vocabulary to the MMO market. Players will eventually grow a bit restless and start looking for the next content patch, and past that, the first expansion. It’s how these things go.

The wait is over, the rush is here and the future is yet to be written (in the Tome of Knowledge). It’s groovy, man.


A New Hope, A New Banner

September 30, 2008

When I caught wind of aspiring Warhammer Online webcomic artist Greg Moran, I asked him (almost jokingly) if he’d be willing to work up a custom banner for WAAAGH!  To my surprise, he agreed and put himself to task with making what you now see at the head of the site.

I gave him a few suggestions: (1) My Engineer fleeing the Destruction horde, (2) Syp sitting on top of a pile of Destruction heads, picking her teeth, or (3) a chorus line of tap-dancing squigs.  He went with the first, and I have to say that it is a fairly accurate representation of my RvR experience in WAR.

Huge thanks to Greg — make sure you go visit his WAR lore & webcomic blog: Tome of Knowledge!


Brainblurts of Vengeance

September 29, 2008

A couple quick brainblurts:

The other day I was running down the road, checking my magical GPS to see where I turned wrong and ended up in the same depressing swamp that ate up Atreyu’s horse in Neverending Story, when a Runepriest named Egil, running the opposite direction, stopped and called out to me. He recognized me from the blog and tried to tell me as much within the confines of RP (God bless dedicated RPers, it’s not easy all the time). I felt a bit awkward, because I’m not here to break someone’s RP experience, but I don’t know what “blog” in Warhammer would translate into. “Message Stone”? Anyway, he wanted to show off the Tracker set on his Runepriest and I took a screenshot and promised to post it. Here ya go, Egil!

I’m a bit disappointed that here I am, level 18, and I’ve yet to collect more than one trophy for my Engineer. I likes me some trophies, darn it! And then my friend D/V/Moxie made an annoyingly simple suggestion: “Why not go to the other tier 1 zones and do the intro trophy quests from there as well?”

Grrr… why didn’t I think of that?


RP Servers: Snitches or Saviors?

September 29, 2008

“Any server flagged as Roleplay will follow the same rules as above, but with an additional set of guidelines. These servers are for those players who enjoy truly immersing themselves into the Warhammer lore by acting as their characters’ personalities in-game. Players who opt to participate on a Role Playing server must agree to far more specific rules regarding naming, and it is suggested that players would adhere to WAR or high fantasy conduct and behavior.” ~ Realm War Page

I’m surprised nobody’s given me any grief yet for rolling on a RP server, given my past tweakage of the ruleset. For all that I tease, RP servers are generally regarded as a more civilized home-away-from-home in MMOs, where the maturity level is ratcheted up a notch or two, and where the community has tools to safeguard their “more immersive” experience. Unless you join a RP guild, however, you’re not incredibly likely to find a bevy of role-playing as you’re trundling along, but you will find a server full of people more inclined to be tolerant towards it.

When you log on to a RP server in WAR, you have a huuuuuuuge scroll that attempts, in a hilariously flailing fashion, to define the RP ruleset in vague and flowery words. If they put me in charge of that screen, I would’ve boiled it down to two points: A RP server means that (1) you’re not a jerk to people who want to RP, and (2) you create character names that fit within the Warhammer world. The scroll is long and vague because it’s hard to properly express what might or might not be an appropriate name; it’s kind of like how Justice Potter Stewart tried to define obscenity: “I know it when I see it.”

On the surface, it makes sense. They want to create a server where nothing will yank a role-player out of the immersion, and that includes running by a guy named BobbleHeadJoe. For others, it’s the appeal of not having to play by the side of WeinerDude or being killed by HoFoSho. I get it. I understand. And I’m cool with it… but in a nervous, twitchy sort of way.

The problem is that we have on one hand an incredibly vague definition of what is and is not name-appropriate in WAR, and on the other hand the game community themselves are given the means to police this ruleset by submitting reports when they consider a name to be “non-RP”, which may result in a CSR contacting the player and forcing them to change their name. Vague rule, tattletale. Nothing can go wrong with this picture, right?

Maybe not. Mythic is probably banking on the hopes that the RP community is mature enough not to go overboard with reporting every little thing that doesn’t come straight from a Warhammer rulebook, and that their CSR staff has the common sense to sift between names that honestly do need to be changed, and ones that are perfectly fine. On the whole, it probably works more often than not. But does this ruleset actively encourage the players to become snitches? I think there’s a distinct possibility that it does.

Read this thread, for example. You can get a good feel for how just a shred of reporting power goes to the heads of some of these folks — who, again, are most likely in the minority — and how they see themselves as the Mythic-appointed saviors of the RP ruleset. And you can see how some of the names they report honestly have no place on this type of server.

You never know, when you run by another player, if they’re evaluating your name and twitching their finger toward the “report” button. You have no way of knowing if your name lives up to the RP standards of all of the other thousands of players on the server. And if you are unlucky enough to have an okay name that isn’t offensive or wildly non-RP and yet you’re still contacted to change it, it could sour you on the ruleset entirely.

This is a fun quote from the thread: “It was rather dismaying however when I spoke with a CSR about a Warcraft lore name which they stated was alright even after I showed them article 4 of their own code of conduct naming policy.” Player lawyers! I want to RP a dwarf personal injury attorney.

Again, I’m not saying that player reporting is always a bad thing, but just that it has potential for abuse. Someone need instead of greed on a piece of loot you want? Report them for a naming violation! An enemy player kick your butt up and down the scenario? Naming violation!

For those on RP servers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is the community more restrained and wise in its reporting practices, or do my paranoid suspicions have merit?


10 Things To Do While Stuck In The Queue

September 28, 2008

(Hey, that rhymed!)

  1. Get on vent and torture your guildmates by providing them with up-to-the-minute reports on your wait time: “56 minutes, guys!  56!!!!!!”
  2. Bake a cake.  Then ban the cake for gold selling.
  3. Log on to your favorite Warhammer Online forum and write an epic poem about a Greenskin goblin named Yaz (no relation to the band) and his love of toe fungus.
  4. Level up spouse-snuggling skills and get a bit of credit for something you had no choice over.  “Hey, I thought you were going to play your game!”  “…You come first, honey, you know that.”  “AWWW!”
  5. Clogdance.
  6. Convert old board and card games to be Warhammer-themed: UNO WAR, Sorry! (You’re Ganked), Altdorfopoly, Hungry Hungry Hammerers.
  7. Scrapbook your favorite WAR screenshots to disturb house guests the next time you have a dinner party.
  8. Cut in line.
  9. Listen to the main Warhammer theme until it’s so burned into your brain that you can’t stop hearing it even when the game is shut off to the point where you hum it in your sleep and start going slowly mad and are unable to function in normal society and they have to take you away to an asylum and you’re STILL not done with the queue.
  10. Read WAAAGH!, of course!

You Can’t Spell Altdorf Without “Alt”!

September 28, 2008

Warning: this is just a random musing post with little if any pertinent info for you.  It makes great bird cage liner if you print it out, plus it gives Polly something to read.

As a confessed altoholic, I have to all but sit on my hands during the character selection screen, clicking “PLAY” with my nose on the mouse button before I get tempted to roll another character.  I’ve promised myself, over and over, that Syp will ding 40 before I create any alts, and I will stick by that.  Why would I be limiting my play options right now when there are 20 delicious classes (well, minus those stuffy elf ones) to sample from?  Here’s my reasoning:

  1. MMOs that I’ve ended up enjoying and sticking with the longest are the ones where I invest heavily into one main character and get them to the end game before branching out.  Alts have a way of diluting my attention span and interest if handled poorly.
  2. I want to have at least one character that is always available to help, party or RvR with my guild. Having six level 20’s won’t mean squat when my guild sounds the call to help take a T4 fortress.  Once I have a level 40 under my belt, I know that I always have the option to do whatever might be happening that day.
  3. I learn so much from the first character I take all the way through in a MMO, so really Syp is my teacher to help me figure out the game so that when I do start in with alts, I’ll have a much better idea how to handle them and play the game more efficiently (while still dying by the truckload, no doubt).

But that can’t stop me from thinking about Syp Jr., Son of Syp, Sypette, Sypster and Sypperoni, my alts-to-be (names changed to be less derivative).  With the other nine Order classes and a growing feel for how much time and effort it takes to raise one up to the max level, I logically know that I won’t be getting all 10 of them (12 if the other two classes get back in soon) to the max level.  So the order I make alts has to be smart — my only other alternative is to make 9 alts simultaneously and mess around with each of them until I settle on one or two.  But I don’t like that approach much.  More thoughts:

  1. I want to have one alt that is a “team player” in the sense of being needed more by guildies and teammates.  This means either a healer or a tank.  That whittles it down to Ironbreaker (do I want to level up another Dwarf so soon after doing one?), Swordmaster (bleh), Runepriest (interesting, although again with the Dwarf repeats), Warrior Priest (previously bleh, but they are starting to grow on me), or Archmage (uh… no).
  2. I would really like to run through either the Empire or High Elf content from 1-40, since I’ve been saving those zones for that purpose.  This means delaying the creation of another Dwarf alt so soon.
  3. From beta, I was quite partial to the Witch Hunter (who isn’t?) and the White Lion, although both are primary DPS classes and the former is overly populated.

Thus in my mind, Syp #2 looks to be either a Warrior Priest, Witch Hunter or White Lion, and Syp #3 returning to Dwarfland with either a Runepriest or Ironbreaker.  Of course, all this may change in a few months if we see the return of the Empire tank career and the Dwarf melee career — I’d be up for an Empire tank, as long as they make their look on par with the tankage of the Black Orc and Chosen (this means no fluffy plumage from the hats, Mythic — despite what market research may tell you, fluffy feathers do not strike fear into the hearts of our opponents), and if the Dwarf melee class comes back as a Slayer, how could I say no to that?

I also have to consider the amount of time it takes to fully level an alt.  There’s not as much of a rush with them, of course, and subsequent characters are always easier to level since you know more tricks of the game, but it’s a chunk of time to be respected even so.  I have no idea when Syp might hit 40 on my current schedule of 20-ish hours a week of gameplay, but it might not even be until 2009 if I get terribly busy.  It takes two seconds to create a character, but to build them up is an investment of magnitude.

Anyway, brainblurt over.


Engineer: Epic Fail Is Part Of The Plan

September 28, 2008

In a recent post, somebody asked me if I could share tips and stylish winning strategies for playing an Engineer. I was drinking a carbonated beverage at the time, and I had to stop reading for a second to deal with the blinding pain of Diet Pepsi shooting through my sinuses. This wasn’t because I have an odd fetish for nose bubbles, but because that’s like asking Gargamel how to thwart the Smurf menace.

Anyone who’s played with me knows a couple things about my Engineer: (1) that I am fearless in RvR, and (2) most of that fearless nature comes from lying on my back, dead. If there is a way to die, I’ve found it, and at times my avatar seems to rebel against the wishes of my keyboard and simply fling herself onto the sword of any oncoming Destructoid. But still, if you ask, I’ll share what I’ve learned, and perhaps you’ll do the exact opposite and become the Scotty to my Doc Brown.

The first thing you should do is get over to WHA and read Givianti’s excellent post, “So You Wanna Be A Dwarf Engineer, Do Ya?” Loads of great info, and I’m not just saying this because Giv is the GM of our guild. But it is true that his mere touch will fix any machine and eliminate DRM and make your heart so pure that unicorns frolic in your presence.

If you need any other advice from a guy who’s — just like you — trying to figure out the ropes of this surprisingly complicated class (in terms of how to wield them properly), here’s a few thoughts I jotted down:

  • One of the hard, brutal lessons that an Engineer must first learn is how fragile we are. Flimsy. Delicate. Squishy. Lightweight. With only light armor at our disposal — cool-looking though it may be — our only other reliable form of protection comes from Flak Jacket, an armor-boosting skill that doesn’t scale with gear, has 20 charges and a 2-second cast timer. Although Flak Jacket goes down incredibly fast, it’s imperative to keep recasting it every time you have a small break in the action. Against PvE, I’ve noticed a difference in survivability; in PvP, I have no idea.
  • Barbed Wire is just about the greatest thing in the world. It’s an AOE, instant-cast root that works wonders in tripping up the enemy if following you (or following someone else you’re trying to protect), or if you need to reestablish a bit of range. It does wear off or break pretty quickly, and the 20 second cooldown means that you should save it for an important occasion, like rooting the Pope.
  • Flame Turret — no matter what actual damage our turrets do, I find that enemy players just hate these things. The flame one in particular is annoying, since it does so much AOE damage and graphically lights up the place. Stand on top of one of these, and a melee opponent has to decide if it’s worth closing range on you for the beatdown. Later on, add Lightning Rod (tinkerer path) and Land Mine for close-quarters protection.
  • Blow Up Turrets — I haven’t gotten this ability yet, but it’s one of the most powerful in our arsenal. You can trigger a turret to self-destruct, which causes AOE damage and (best of all) a five-second knock-down. Five seconds is a short eternity in PvP, and you can use it for a quick getaway.
  • Bombardment Turret – I don’t use these as much, although the explodey grenades are somewhat disconcerting to enemies.
  • Gun Turret — The weakest turret overall, the gun turret has a useful place on the battlefield with its armor-reducing debuff and long range. I like putting these in hard-to-spot areas and letting them act as sentries (versus close-quarters defense like the other two turrets).
  • You can also snare people by putting a Hex on them (which comes from various abilities in your skillset) and then Spanner Swiping them. I don’t do this too often, but it’s a viable option.
  • Unless you specialize in the rifle mastery path, don’t expect to be Mr. or Mrs. Sniper, carving off huge chunks of health from waaaaay accross the battlefield. Instead, think of your gun as an excellent opener, to be followed up with a slew of DOTs.
  • You have to discern when’s the time to create a defensible position (with turrets, land mines and barbed wire) and when you should be running and sniping and acting like a guerrilla fighter. I do the former only when I have teammates backing me up.
  • Acid Bomb is da bomb. I love it more than life itself and I keep it up on whole groups of enemies as often as I can.
  • Engineers shine when the attention is focused away from them so we can help support teammates with tricks and dps. Don’t be afraid to run when attention comes your way.

I wish I had more to share, but as I said, I’m still just figuring this all out and fiddling with attack order. It is frustrating not being able to really pump out the ranged dps like I thought, but that might change in future levels. Any current engineers are welcome to leave comments with their own suggestions.


Curl Up And Dye

September 27, 2008

Since we all play Virtual Dollhouse — with grown men not appreciating the irony of going “Ooh! I got a new hat! It looks so cool!” — we’ve become affectionate of Warhammer Online’s quirky little dye system. It’s by no means a new or revolutionary feature, but for players who have been blinded by mismatching clown gear in other MMOs, the choice to color-coordinate your outfit is a Godsend. I mean, I don’t even color-coordinate my outfits in real life, so my online counterpart has that on me.

With Warhammer, however, dyeing has a special link to the tabletop (TT) game. In the TT, you buy blank figurines that need to be painted before you send them off to battle — and people take dozens of hours to paint up their armies just so. There’s a lot of pride in how your TT Warhammer army looks, particularly in the color selection (primary and secondary picks). WAR’s dye system isn’t just an homage to the TT game, it’s a blood relative.

For non-TT players like myself, you may wonder why the dyes have colorful names (like “Warlock Purple” or “Graveyard Brown” or “Snot Green”), or why different races have access to different basic palettes at the dye vendor. This all stems from the Citadel Color paints, which Games Workshop has offered since the early 1990’s. For a quick overview, you can check out their Mega Paint Set, which claims to have all 73 paints that the company offers.

Obviously, there’s more than 73 color selections in WAR (around 114 or so), and some of the more cherished (like Blood Red or Chaos Black) will be the toughest to obtain in the game. Back in March, Justin Webb did a video for TTH outlining their scope of the dye system and design of it. Not all gear is dyeable, however, and even gear that can be dyed will still retain some colors or patterns to keep it looking proper. Races have a color scheme to themselves, so that dwarfs with basic dyes will share a theme, just as dark elves will with their basic dyes.

If you want to make your own dyes, consider picking up Cultivating and Apothecary as your gathering/crafting skills — and prepare for a difficult challenge! Otherwise, you can go for the cheap (yet less-than-visually-thrilling options) at the dye vendors, or pick up dyes from RR vendors, drops, bosses and the auction house.

The genius of dyes, of course, is that even if you shared the same exact set of gear as your friend, your choice of dyes can give you a unique (or uniquish) look all your own. Even if my gear doesn’t end up being a thrillhouse in the visual department, at least it looks like it belongs together with dyes — and I can’t wait for higher levels and the opportunities to really make Syp stand out visually!


A Good Haul.

September 26, 2008

I haven’t been fretting too much about gear in WAR just yet… it’s kind of nice to take things one day at a time without stressing out over what “must have” items I gotta kill myself over. So a combination of PQ influence rewards, quest rewards and random drops have been suiting Syp just fine — but some nights are better than others, and tonight was a doozy.

I don’t know what it was, but the Chapter 9 Dwarf PQ was THE place to be. I did the one just south of the quest hub in Marshes of Madness, taking out zombie-whatevers at a decent clip. Before long, I realized that these guys were just piñatas of joy waiting to be burst open. One of the first mobs I killed dropped a blue White Lion axe, which I saved for a future alt. Then I proceeded to get a nice green helmet (upgrade!), tons of potions, one Warlock Purple dye, and two influence rewards: shoulder and hammer upgrades for level 18 (I’m 17.5).

That’s not the whole fun: I received my very first purple drop since starting WAR: a Slaughterer’s Cape (the link here is to the Destruction version, but mine is statistically identical)! I gave a manly “huzzah!” over vent, followed by “purplepurplepurplepurple!” Strange what a mere color will do to one.

Oh, and today I got about — I kid you not — 15 new titles. It was absolutely insane. I’m Syp the Showoff (insert ironic joke here) for the time being.