Friday, February 8, 2008

War(hammer)craft minis?

I'm with Tycho on this one... The fact that Blizzard is making a tabletop strategy game from Warcraft is hilarious, especially in light of all the comments concerning Warhammer Online being a copy of WoW.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


From my previous post, Fedaykin98 asked "Also, would you mind doing a post where you elaborate on your interest in WAR? I'd love to hear more about what attracts you to that game."

This post will ramble a bit, because I'm just going to list them as I think of them.

Note: In any podcasts I link, they will refer to factions as "Realms" (this is leftover from DAoC with the three realms of Albion, Hibernia, and Midgard). This sounds confusing to my ears since when I think of "realm" I think of servers. Just trying to clarify for others who may think like I do.

As far as PvE goes, the thing I'm most looking forward to is the Tome of Knowledge. I linked it in my previous post, but for those who can't go to Curse due to things like work firewalls, I'll detail a bit about it.

The tome will be filled out as you explore and kill stuff. Click on a friendly NPC? Get an entry on it's race. Find a particularly important NPC (such as Tyrion or Teclis of the High Elves or Grimgor Ironhide, the Orc)? Get an entry into your Tome on said person. As you kill mobs of a certain type, you will get bonuses such as a little XP, details on that critter, trophies based on them (kill enough wolves and you could get a wolf skull would be a possible example), or maybe even a bonus when fighting those types of mobs. Finally, as you complete quests and such you'll get entries into your tome, detailing the rise of your character through his or her story. Additionally, the Tome of Knowledge will also have some details on your PvP exploits, but that's a bit less clear.

As clearly detailed by my points above concerning important NPCs is that I love the setting of Warhammer. A few years back I tried getting into playing the Warhammer tabletop game, but I just couldn't. As an ex-military guy, trained in unit tactics, old military concepts like having units in tight formations just seemed stupid to me, especially since many sides had artillery that could be devastating to units setup like this. But I never disliked nor stopped liking the setting. (Interesting side note: While I'm not overly fond of the setting for Warhammer 40,000, I find the mechanics of that tabletop game much more sensible, with units able to spread out.) So being given a chance to play in the Warhammer world in a form that is not directly controlling huge armies appeals to me quite a lot.


Another huge addition that WAR will add (compared to WoW at least) is an effective way for tanks to play in PvP. This takes two forms: Enemy-based collision detection and PvP taunts which don't directly control the enemy. As comes to no regular reader's surprise, I like tanking. But in WoW PvP you can't tank. Against a rogue or a warrior? He'll just run through you and behind you. What good does a shield do you back there? And stopping people on bridges? Only if you have CC available?

Well in WAR they will have collision detection, so you can actually impede your enemies progress by standing in their way. If you find a chokepoint, you can place a tank there and he can hold the point using a mix of knockbacks and collision detection while others support him and blast from behind him. Thankfully the collision detection only works on your enemies, so your allies can run through each other and you without being slowed down.

As far as PvP taunts go, these are brilliant! It will probably vary from class to class, but the general idea is that it's a buff or debuff that makes all attacks on non-tanks much less powerful. Because of this you have two options: Attack the non-tanks weakly, or attack the tanks at full strength, despite their strong armor. Sure you can choose to ignore them, but that will make things take much longer. It's a taunt that doesn't directly control the enemy, but gives too powerful an effect to ignore.


As far as PvP goes, as I touched on in my previous post, everything you do matters. Even some little quest where you kill the infamous ten rats will award victory points towards capture of enemy territory. This is detailed in these two podcasts. Unlike WoW, which is an almost eternally unchanging world, what you do has an impact. It will only be a temporary impact, but the impact is there none-the-less.

Let's consider a raid in WoW attack some opposing faction's town. You go in, kill all the guards and populace and keep on, until you get thrown out. Within 5 minutes all the NPCs will be back like nothing ever happened. While I expect a similar thing in WAR for quest-hubs, your actions will help your faction wrest control of an area from your opponent. There will most likely still be a major quest-hub available in that zone, but I would guess that it opens up new quests to the faction that just gained control of said zone, while giving the "old" controllers of the zone an ability to wrest back into control their zone.

Also, as far a quests themselves go, Mythic is making some pretty sensible changes or adding some new cool stuff. For the knitty gritty details check out this podcast. I'll touch on the really cool changes here.

First is the change to kill collector quests aka go kill ten rats (again... oh god again...). Previously, you would need to have the quest before you could actually count the rats as dead. So lets say your wandering through some sewer and you come across a guy surrounded by rats... in fact just to get to the point where you could see the guy, you had to kill a dozen rats, and to get to him you need to kill a dozen more. So you fight through this horde of rats and you stand before him, drenched in rat blood, bits of rat strewn about, and a rat impaled on your sword. It's pretty damn obvious you've been killing rats. So you talk to him and he says "I hate rats. They stole my food. Can you kill those dirty rats for me?" At this point you look at him and say "And what in the seven hells have I been doing for the last few minutes?" Of course that doesn't count because you didn't know you needed to kill rats. So you go out and kill more rats, this time it counts, only to get back and realize that you missed one part of the quest: He wants his food back. Yeah you killed 10 rats but none of them had his food, so you go out and kill more rats until you finally get it, then go back to him.
Well all that is in the past with WAR. Every time you kill a mob, it is marked down in a database (probably related to the tracking of what you kill for the Tome of Knowledge). If you encounter someone who wants you to kill mobs, when you get the quest you will receive credit for what you've already killed. Alright, same situation... you're in the sewers and you find this quest guy. You fight your way through the rats, and he says "I hate rats. They stole my food." and the game checks this database and sees that you've killed ten rats, so the guy then says "Glad to see you've been killing them. So you don't have my food... they must have eaten it. Thanks for trying." and he hands you a reward. Simply put, now the game tracks what you've killed and no more worrying about some stupid drop rate on some random body part that proves you killed a certain mob type.

The other cool part is Public Quests. This is so cool it had half of a very long podcast dedicated to it. It's kinda like a group quest... only they are constantly going and you don't necessarily need to be in the group to participate. They are multi-staged, ending in a big battle where everyone in the area who participated get rewarded. In addition as you participate, even if you can't see these quests to the end, you still build up "Influence" (aka reputation) with a certain reward giver for that Public Quest, this way you can get rewards even if you don't have the time to stick around.
I'll use the example from the podcast for the Greenskins. The Greenskins see the Dwarfs hiding inside of some big fort type place. The Dwarfs know better than to come outside of it, so the Greenskins are left to try to figure out how to get them out. They try bashing the gates down, which doesn't work (duh... Dwarf craftsmanship is second to none), then along came this Giant being bothered by some squigs. So the Greenskins get an idea... first they get the giant drunk (a giant will work for anyone who gets them drinks). So the first job is to kill the squigs at it's feet, then get the Giant some booze and pour it down it's throat. Once the Giant is good and drunk you get a giant bomb and try to explain to the Giant to roll the bomb towards the gates. This doesn't work... the Giant's too drunk. So a clever Goblin shaman thinks up of an idea... he orders the Greenskins to paint a squig onto the bomb. Now, while the Giant doesn't know what a bomb is, he does recognize a squig. So they tell him to throw the "squig" at the door. This works and blows open the door, which makes the Dwarfs just pissed, and they all come rushing out in huge waves, which the Greenskins now need to fight. Wave after wave, until finally this big Dwarf hero comes out, and you fight and kill him, ending that cycle of the public quest. As you were fighting the big hero, the Dwarfs were closing their big gate you blew open, and the whole public quest starts over again. Sounds pretty sweet to me.

Anyway, back to PvP having an impact (told you this would be rambling). The final huge goal of PvP is to take and pillage your enemy's capital. Again, while it's only temporary, it has a real impact. The people are forced to flee, those that remain can be killed, and it opens up tons of new things to do, like public quests, normal quests, instances and a bunch of other really cool things. They even talk about it a little on this podcast.

Another thing that I like about PvP for WAR is that there will be a lot of different Scenarios. Scenarios are WAR's version of Battlegrounds, instanced goal based combat which rewards the players inside and makes it roughly fair (equal players, close to similar levels, etc). Personally I'm expecting no less than one scenario, per tier, for the first three tiers and at least three scenarios on the final tier (one in the middle, one on each of the normally controlled zones, with possibly more available after a capital is captured). This means per battlefront I'm expecting a minimum of six, or eighteen total on release. This is a far cry from Blizzards depressing four BGs over the course of three years released and a previous four years of development. Now, I'm not expecting each Scenario to be unique, but to me, playing a game of capture the flag in different terrain would be enough. Being able to swap around to a different land type or something with a slightly different gimmick (such as one I've heard about has trolls in it, throwing rocks down at people) would be enough. Variety is the spice of life, and WoW is sorely lacking in this department.


Next is how WAR will deal with healers. One of the longstanding complaints and requests for chang by many is that healing is boring and should be more reliant on doing damage. While I've long opposed this view, because I firmly believe that everyone has their own thing they enjoy doing, thus those who enjoy healing in it's current form in WoW should be allowed to continue doing this. You shouldn't go into WoW and completely alter healing, since that would leave those who enjoy and have invested time in those roles with something they may not want to do.

WAR on the other hand is giving the people who want more combative healers what they want, and is building it into the game from the ground up. Unlike WoW where every class has the ability to DPS, but it's separate from the role of healing, they are putting some synergy into the system. The simplified way of explaining it is that most of the support classes build up some sort of power through combat, which then improve the power and reduce the casting time. Yes it will be possible for these healers to not do any damage and just heal, but they will be very weak and unable to properly assist their allies without smashing faces or blasting foes.

I remember reading a post over at Warhammer Alliance where someone had played a Goblin Shaman. At first he just tried healing, only to find that his spells were weak and took long to cast (around five seconds). Then he started using his Shaman nukes, and noticed a bar filling up. His WAAAGH! bar, and when it got full it glowed as did his healing spells. He then noticed that his healing spells would take only about a second or two and were much more powerful, healing half or more of his allies health.

(EDIT: Found the link for the post on Goblin Shamans)

Other classes such as the Warrior Priest (Empire), and Disciple of Khaine (Dark Elf) use a similar system, while the Chaos Zealot and the High Elf Archmage use a system based around draining their enemies and using that power to heal their allies. The only class that doesn't seem to follow this system is the Dwarven Runepriest, which excel at pre-combat buffs, and in combat fighting power. I expect their in-combat heals to be equally effective all the time, but based on their descriptors I also expect their combat potential (both physical and magical) to be strong enough that it would be a folly to not wade into combat (but we shall see).

Two videos concerning the healers:
Podcast (watch around the middle)
Youtube video


One of the last things I can think of that I really like about WAR is it's simplicity of class design. While yes there are twenty-four individual classes (four for each race) each one falls into a different role for each race. There is one tanking class, one healing/support class, one melee DPS class and one ranged DPS. There is no need to balance each class against all the others, merely balance them within their role. And while there will be variable ways to play and customize a given class within it's role (detailed here, here, and here) there is one core concept a class is built around.

One of the biggest flaws in WoW, I believe is each class has too much flexibility. No class has one defined role (beyond what players assign), but then each class needs each tree to be balanced against other trees, but also need to consider how those changes will affect the other trees in that class, not to mention how those changes will effect PvP and PvE. Good lord that was a run-on sentence. But I wanted put it all in one thought to emphasize how much is needed to be done per class.

To hell with all that rubbish! Each class in WAR only needs to be compared to the other classes of the same archetype in WAR. Each class only needs to be compared to 5 other classes and balanced as such because they will be very different than the other roles as they should be!

Well that covers everything that really stands out in my mind. Hope you've enjoyed it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why do you fight?

So as of late I've been in a funk. Got my Druid to the late 40s, but it's been a long time since anyone's done an arena match, which slowed down my desire to level the job. Since then I've been watching and reading a lot of the information on Warhammer Online (WAR) and it's got me really jonesing to play it.

This has gotten me thinking about why I suddenly lack such a strong enthusiasm to level up my druid for PvP, but really want to PvP in WAR. They are both just PvP, right? Not really, at least for me. For me, it's a matter of why do I fight?

In WoW, one PvPs to get gear, so you can PvP more (either more easily or at higher ranks in Arena if that's your cup of tea). There are two types of players that this model of PvP really appeals to:
  • The Loot as Reward playerbase. You do PvP, you get epics. In fact it is one of the most surefire ways to gear yourself up. There may be some luck involved but you know by a certain time frame you will be decked out in all Season 1 epics, ignoring the potential gear from doing Arenas.
  • The "I just like to PvP" playerbase. These are the players for whom fighting human opponents is the ultimate thrill and is where it's at. As detailed in Rohan's post here, the gear is merely there as a reward for the LaR players. For those who just like to PvP, you get gear to equalize everything else, and leave only skill and personal choices (like class and talent builds) to differentiate the great from the good. Challenging people and fighting in an arena match or in battlegrounds is the fun itself.
Now, for players of these types, WoW gives them everything they want, and plans on expanding that with the release of WotLK and the implementation of Lake Wintergrasp.

But that's not enough for me. I need a reason to fight beyond just fighting and beyond better gear. Let's take raiding for example. I go into Karazhan, and lead my guild on a merry killing spree through the whole thing. We get loot and kill more and get loot, but why? Ah, there's a good "why" here. I kill and get loot to see more.

As of right now I've beaten about 10 bosses more than I ever figured I'd see in this expansion. Going in, I decided I wouldn't worry about leaving my guild and joining a big raiding guild. I was fine with seeing what ever it is I could see. If I never stepped foot in Kara, so be it. The fact that my guild was able to push through Karazhan, and will some day probably move onto Zul'Aman and possibly 25-man raids is just gravy.

Anyway, watching the information on WAR, like how all the scenarios (the WAR equivalent of Battlegrounds) and quests and everything will add to the war effort of trying to capture the next zone, which all leads up to making an attack on your opponent's city. Realizing that things inside BGs and the like can have an amazing effect on the game at large makes all my efforts grinding honor and the like seem hollow and pointless.

So at this point I'm at a dividing point. Either way, it'll just be a time filler until WAR comes out. Either I continue to PvP in WoW as filler, or I work on playing DAoC and PvP there. Now, DAoC may be somewhat outdated, but conceptually it has the closest to what I want in PvP. The (so-called) RvR has fighting over keeps and relics and stuff. I haven't decided which way I'll go, but I'm thinking about both.

Anyway, whatever I decide, it's just a matter of time until I can play WAR and get what I really want. (Oh yeah, and the Tome of Knowledge looks ridiculously delicious.)

So as a final question to any of my readers, why do you fight? For gear? For the thrill of battle? To see more? Just to be with friends? There is no right or wrong answer, just different ones.