Upon the Pyre: Why the Hate for PvE?

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The latest edition of Upon the Pyre is now up over at Hammer of War! We’ve changed things up a little bit, so now my column can be found every Monday. I’m cool with this change and I hope it allows more of you to stop by in your free time… or down (read: unsupervised) time at work. My blog and HoW get the most page hits during the week. I know what you’re up to! Don’t worry, I won’t tell your boss as long as you don’t tell mine.

I’ve been scanning the reviews for WAR since launch. Some are very positive, some are negative, and quite a few are in between. One sticking point for a lot of reviewers is the PvE content. A lot of people don’t like that it’s not revolutionary; they don’t like “more of the same”. I just don’t understand these sentiments. Did we expect something more than what we got? Why? Help me out here, guys.

Click here to check it out.


A humble request of my readers…

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Hello Everyone,

Humorously enough, I’ve been receiving emails as part of a Nigerian scam. I’ve actually gotten about five of them from different people. Recently, I decided to play with one and emailed back and forth with the person. She even emailed me a picture of her obviously photoshop’d refuge identification card. These people are unbelievable.

So, if you get a spare minute, please email muna_2yakubu@yahoo.fr with something rude, discourteous, unpleasant or generally evil. It would brighten my day.


PS: Real content forthcoming a little later today!

Anti-Sanctus Chaotica = Home

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I’m happy to announce that I’ve officially joined the guild Anti-Sanctus Chaotica.


I was interviewed by their officers over the course of a couple days on their official forums. It was nothing too hardcore but more than what most other guilds put you through. I think that it’s a good thing though. Their interview processes makes sure that only truly interested members make it into their guild, that applicants will be a good fit in their playstyle and personality, and that no one is accepted in that would tarnish the good image that their guild has built up.


And it is a good image. I’ll admit, when I saw the quote from Hickman in their forum listing, I was impressed. When a developer cites your guild directly, you know you’re doing something right. Then, when I saw their site and read their lore, I was sold. They have a strong back story that I’d really encourage everyone to check out, even if you’re not interested in a new guild. It’s interesting reading and very much in keeping with Warhammer lore, so it makes for some good meta-gaming.


So, somehow I managed to get myself into a guild of skilled RvR’ers and RP’ers. I’ve been really impressed at the level of dedication the members have towards dominating the battlefield and I think I can add to what they have going on. I’ll keep you all posted on the big stuff we’re up to that’s shareable. Keep an eye on ASC, I think they may have some big things in store for Pheonix Throne’s RP-RVR.

Class balance revisited: did it break WAR?

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I originally tackled this topic before the game actually launched. In that article, I stated why I thought class balance wouldn’t break WAR. I still feel that way, despite the many dozens who disagree. Let me know what you think about this issue in the comments.


A while back, I had a look at class balance in WAR and why I didn’t feel that it would become a major issue. That was before the game released and was, in large part, based upon my gaming experiences in that past. Now that the game has launched and the masses have clamored into scenarios and RvR lakes, the cries of IMBA have begun flooding the forums.


This isn’t surprising for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, people would make these complaints no matter what state the game was in. This isn’t to say that many people’s concerns aren’t valid because many are. What I am saying is that people want to be powerful. When a certain portion of the player base fails to succeed, they will announce unequivocally that their class is broken and needs to be buffed. Or, conversely, their opponent’s class is just way too overpowered. Second, a lot of people’s complaints are based around their ability to take out a class and not their groups ability.


A lot of people have entered into WAR with the old mentality that every class except for tanks should be quick to die. This isn’t the case, nor should it be. This premise is based around one on one combat. Arena combat. Well, we’re not in Azeroth anymore. In my opinion, if it’s a healer’s job to heal, they should certainly be able to keep themselves from being a 2-hit kill. This frustrates people. It’s a break from the norm but, in all reality, “squishy healers” is just an outdated premise that didn’t make much sense to begin with, given the role of the class.


The cold truth is that the majority of cases where classes seem imbalanced, the team you’re fighting with isn’t working as cohesively as it probably could. Or, the other team is just better more organized. Many of our new WARcomers are still getting used to the idea that attacking random targets isn’t the best way to succeed. In order to overcome and achieve, we, as players, have to target the most important people and take them out. This means hitting the healers first. This means diverting the DPS from taking your own healers out. This means teamwork.


Like I said, healers in this game are a lot more capable than in other games. As such, it’s going to be a lot harder to take them down in a one on one encounter. So, to overcome, communicate. Do your best to make sure that you’re not going it alone. That’s not what RvR is about. Attempting to circumvent the game’s balance is going to result in an imbalanced experience. And that’s why people complain that the classes are out of whack.


Now, that being said, you’re not always going to be able to get people to help you. Hell, they might even rebuke you. In that case, what are you to do, punch the rock and hope it bleeds? Well, in so many words, yes. You can pose a distraction to that healer, or DPS, so that they need to worry about themselves. That’s enough to help out the effort. If they’re running, their team is dying. What we need to do though, is try. If you repeat something enough times, eventually people will start to listen. I’m not telling you to spam but simply announce what needs to be done so that people get an idea about what they have to do.


I should also note that working cohesively with a group of strangers can be hard. Really hard, at times. You’re not always going to win and you’re definitely going to get frustrated from time to time. Then again, that’s part of what will drive you to go back in and win. Let’s face it, we’ll wait forever for some people to get out of the “hit the first thing that moves” mindset, so it’s up to us to work overcome the misconceptions about class imbalances. I would also recommend getting with a good guild or group that uses voice chat. It can help immeasurably.


Bearing all that in mind, things do need to be tweaked. Let me share a recent experience with you. While finishing up Tier One, I entered into Khaine’s Embrace only to find our diverse team facing a group of about 80% Ironbreakers, 15% Healers and 5% Ranged DPS. We stood no chance. In this type of scenario, the RvR balance suddenly breaks. This isn’t a reflection on the individual classes so much as the scenario queuing system; however, it does bring to light that the RvR balance needs a little bit of review. It also leaves a bitter taste in the opposing team’s mouth.


At this point, very few things are perfect. We’ve yet to meet our first major patch and I’d measure that, when we do, we’re going to see some relatively big class changes. I don’t think that healing classes should be unstoppable, nor do I think it should take a small army to down a tank. However, the game, even in its current state is far from broken. It’s simply a change from the norm. Therefore, my original assertion stands.


To recap my original points in the context of live game conditions:


1)     Players will adapt: They can and they are. Outside of unfair premades and some other mechanical issues, we’re actually doing well and will continue to do so going forward.

2)     Class balance is ongoing: we’ve yet to see what will happen, but they’ve already been doing hotfixes to class skills. If the next big patch doesn’t have some pretty big class changes, I’d be shocked. I’m actually a little excited to see what direction they’ll be taking things in response to player’s feedback.

3)     The skill structure in WAR lends itself to balance: this hasn’t changed, although, I must admit that it is largely dependent on group make up. Given that scenario grouping is done in a fair manner, and that groups strategize, choose their targets with forethought, and generally work together, RvR battles are challenging and fun far more than frustrating.


A week in, a successful launch, and an unbroken, very fun, game.


Oi, you lot! Wot you be getting’ ‘appy about? Me choppa don’ like ‘appy!


Iz unbecomin’ ya know…. yous iz evuh you mus’ rememba. Wot… yous iz…. ORDER?    … WAAAAAGH!!!



Bring on the Dogs of War!


I broke into the second tier of the Dark Elf vs. High Elf pairing last night. I was elated. Right off the bat, the Shadowlands have an eerie, dark feel to them. As you break into the quests of this area, don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting turned around in the fog. Personally, I thought it was a lot of fun… even though I died twice from wandering champion level PQ mobs.

About five minutes after I popped into the tier, I queued up for the scenario Pheonix Gate and quested for about the next ten minutes. The ten that followed were an absolute bloodbath.

Unfortunately, it was only my blood that was spilled.

I give myself a little leway because it was my first time in the scenario. Even so, I did exceptionally bad. I tried to rush in from the front. I died. I tried to flank from the side. I died again. I tried to run on top of a hill, doing some kind of high ground flank attack… but a lion mauled me and left me with only one good hand. Damn… holding a staff is friggin’ hard now.

So, at the end, I only did better than the afk’er who sat at the spawn point the whole time. I know… it’s pathetic. I kid you not, I died about seven times and didn’t get a single death blow.

Needless to say, I walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth. I tried to bear in mind that I was only rank 12 going against a bunch of rank 16-18’s, however.

I resolved at that point to level and return to the scenario to seek my retribution. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

I queued for the scenario the next night at level 13. I didn’t pop in right away, so I quested… and quested… and quested. At the end of the night, I stayed in queue for over three hours.

The way I see it, there are three options:

1) I’m not the only person who got irritated in the instance; it must not be fun, even for those with the level advantage.

2) There was some glitch in my queuing up. After 20 minutes, sure… it could be just a slow moving scenario. After 120 minutes though, something is F’d up.


3) People just are outlevelling the content.

Out of those options, I would say that it’s probably a mix of all three options.

No matter what’s going on though, if players are stuck waiting three hours to battle, there’s going to be a problem.

A while back in WAR’S development, Mythic announced the prospect of featuring the “Dogs of War” to prevent such long delays.At some point, though, they decided they couldn’t do this on a level they would consider great.

I’d like to give Mythic a big head’s up though: NOW IS THE TIME FOR THE DOGS OF WAR. No player should be stuck waiting three hours for a scenario. Ever. Such a situation will undoubtedly lead to the failure harsh criticism of the game.

Thus far, I’ve been very supportive of WAR. I’ll tell you this much though, if a game that promises RvR can’t deliver RvR without having players give up their progression in other realms of play, WAR will struggle more than it should announced a failure .

This is the single most pressing issue I’ve encountered in the game.

It’s well and great to give people quick access to RvR in the first tier, but Mythic needs to provide those same opportunities throughout every gamer’s experience.

This all begs the question, why aren’t the Dogs of War in the game now?

I, like everyone else, have no true answer to this. I can only imagine that designing AI at a level competitive with human players is more difficult than Mythic first anticipated.

I have to ask though, in a game designed around RvR, why didn’t they plan for this exact situation? Maybe they did and dropped the ball. Maybe they just didn’t see this situation as a possibility. Either scenario is unacceptable.

I call on Mythic to bring in the Dogs of War. Will they be perfect? No. As a matter of fact, compared to human players, computer AI will probably suck. Despite that, I’d rather join a scenario as the underdog than not join at all.

What do you think? Is it time to bring in the mercenaries, albeit their potential skill gap?

Edit: Alright, maybe I was a little bit harsh. Long day. Sorry.

I’ve left Last Requiem after only…

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… a few days. I hate to do it but I found out that the guild just wasn’t a good fit for me. In all honesty, they’re players were all great. The RP was wonderful. The issue, though, was that I tend to play during the daytime more than anything and that just happens to be when they have the fewest people on. Understandably so, since not everyone can be a college student. I’m cool with that.

So, I said my goodbyes last night and bid them adeu. I’m now applying to a guild that’s also RP RvR but looks to be much more active at all times of the day. They’re called Anti-Sanctus Chaotica. Anyone heard of them? Their site looks top notch and they have a great history, structure, and purpose. In all honesty, I was really impressed by their website.

Their recruitment process is a little more involved than a lot of other guilds. You have to fill out an application (of course) but it doesn’t ask you the standard questions. It doesn’t even ask why you want to join. Instead, it’s kind of a webquest around their website to learn their lore and what they’re about. Once that’s done and posted on their forums, the officers come ask you a bunch of questions that are never quite the same for every person. It really ensures that they’re only taking people who are really interested. I really like that. If they have so many members and they have such a recruitment process, it seems like it would be a quality guild.

I’ll refrain from linking to their site until I can speak to some of their members directly, but this one looks promising!

Gold sellers!

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Well, it happened quicker than I thought it would. Gold farmers have hit WAR and hard. I kid you not, on Pheonix Throne today, I got three separate tells within a total of 90 minutes played. The worst part? It was the same guy two of the three times. Unfortunately, I was having troubles with my UI so I couldn’t report him but I hope someone does.

Isn’t it a little early in the game for these people to be hitting it so hard? I’m not the only person who’s been getting these tells, so obviously they have a lot of prospective gold ready to hand off to players. I have to say, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a quick and easy option to report these bastards. Instead, you have to go through the usual rigamarole of filing an appeal, waiting around for a response, and then speaking with a CSR. Does anyone know of an email address we could use to report these guys? Personally, I’d write down every one of their names and shoot out an email every play session if it was warranted. Hopefully, Mythic will work a little more ease into the reporting process – especially since it’s harder to spot these guys. They’re using normal names and not the usual random key mashes (i.e. wjhgjhg).

There is a silver lining here, though. Mark Jacobs has developed a CSR strike team to root these guys out and ban them. Apparantly, in just two days after launch (evening of 9/20) they’d already banned 400 gold sellers. On my server, they’ve also begun broadcasting messages to tell everyone when someone’s been banned. I think that’s a good move. It shows the community that Mythic is on it and allows them a sense of assurance that things will be taken care of. It’s active PR and it works.

I’m glad Mark is so adamantly against these jerks. They’re lowly and, even though they claim to not disrupt people’s games, they’re responsible for a lot of account hacks. The sad thing is, the actual people behind the keyboard’s are probably not that bad. They’re most likely just trying to get by and keep their job regardless of the moral implications of it. Does that make it right? No. Understandable? Eh… that’s a little more difficult. Personally, I couldn’t see myself doing a job I found morally reprehesible. Then again, I’ve never been starving, so I’ll reserve judgment on the workers and put it on their employers:

Start a real business and quit trying to drive the hard work of others into the ground. You claim  to not disrupt player’s game experience. Yet, you come onto my RP server and plug a website  repeatedly in an hour, forcing a response from me. How does that not break my sense of immersion?  How is that not disruptive? You justify your practices in the same way that petty thieves do.  It’s not so bad, is it? I mean, you have to get by. Then, you throw in the guilt trip about how  you’re  employing people in poverty and giving them a chance at a life. That’s BS too and you  know it. You work the people like slaves and pay them similar wages. You’re exploitative   scum. Get out of our games and our lives. Create a real business, not one that capitalizes on the  honorless, greedy, miniority of North America and Europe. Rats.

If you see one of these guys in game, report them whenever you can. We can help Mythic and, in the end, ourselves. Let’s hope we’re all successful.

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