Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Where I've Been Lately

Frankly, I've been getting bored with WAR lately. I've played for 2 years, which is my boredom point in just about anything I do. So I'm taking a little break. I've been having some real life stuff cutting into my gaming time anyway. A lot of my guild has been getting bored as well making it difficult to form groups. The recent WP/DoK change drove away a lot of our healers. For the record, I think the change is fine, but that's easy to say when you don't play one all the time.

I've played in the two Rift betas since picking up a VIP key some time ago. While I cannot go into much detail since NDA still applies, I'm impressed at how polished it is. The biggest thing about the game, as stated in the most recent video on the game's site, is that it works. I hope it becomes my PvE fix that I can't really get from WAR. My entrance into the MMO scene was Final Fantasy XI, which was heavily story driven with virtually non-existant PvP. That epic story just doesn't come through in WAR at all.

I've been spending way too much gaming anyway, and my body is letting me know that recently. I've been exhausted lately, so I'm taking some time to rest myself. I'll still keep my WAR sub up though, I just won't be playing anywhere near as much as before. I need to take better care of myself anyway.

I still want to do more with WAR. I enjoy the epic battles that erupt from time to time. I like the game. I want it to succeed. It's tough with a guild that's been losing players. I've got my eye on Rift. Rift is still a wait and see thing for me, but I like what I've seen so far.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Eternal Citadel 1.4.0

I played defensively on the SM just to show it can be done and be somewhat effective. I'm not a big fan of most modern music, so I set this to the 1812 Overture performed by the New York Philharmonic. I'm by no means perfect, but this is what I mean by basic tanking skills. Enjoy!

The video looks best in 1080p since it was recorded in it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Rise of the Single Healer Groups

1.4.0 brought dramatic increases to personal survivability. While playing the Eternal Citadel, I found that most players could survive a 4 player spike for 10 seconds without a healer. However, most players could not survive a 5 player spike for 10 seconds. So my group started playing with only one healer, and it worked exceptionally well. Having 2 healers in party with one being a dps healer is much safer since the dps healer can rez without costing the group healing, but using only one healer worked out ok for us. I expect to see a lot more DPS Shamans and Archmages in groups.

Also I found that I could not get away with my typical glass cannon spec as a SM in EC after a few scenarios. A lot of players seem to have learned how to focus fire squishy tanks. I ended up switching my renown to Cleansing Wind 3, Reflexes 4 and Futile Strikes 3 and moving to 5 Defensive/4 Offensive Sovereign gear. I will play around with Trivial Blows 3 with a Liniment of Immutable Defiance and see how that works too. Glass cannon tanks will likely be viable in warband play only.

Mythic wanted to tone down the DPS tank. I think they did so with the scenario matchmaking system and the renown revamp. I just get wrecked way too fast to be useful to my group glass cannon in scenarios now. I still have my 2h and my Khaine spec since Nature's Blade is just awesome. Going from glass cannon to survivable cut my damage by one third. It does allow me to now take focus fire and Guard damage at the same time, which I just couldn't survive even with 2 healers on me glass cannon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spike Damage - Recognizing and Countering

So you notice the enemy is attempting to spike to one of your group members. You have 5 to 10 seconds to react before the enemy kills your teammates. Here's how to counter a spike attempt.

1. If you can detaunt your attacker, do so. You might be knocked down or silenced and unable to do so. Call it out in vent ASAP if you get hard CC'd. Do not attack until you can get a Guard. If you are Guarded, detaunt is not needed.

2. If you are a tank, get a Guard on the spiked target if you can get in range, even if that's another tank.

3. If you see backloaded DoTs like Burn Away Lies or Word of Pain, cleanse them if possible. Cleansing Wind is big help, especially if you have it maxed.

4. If you are a healer, get heals on the spiked target. Absorb -> HoTs -> Hard healing.

5. If you have a melee train on you, either an AoE stagger or knockback can handle the train.

6. Use your potions and morales if needed. You can fire absorb + crafted heal + RvR heal potions all at once.

7. Kite if you notice before it starts. Try to kite towards your DPS if you are not already with them.

This game is about spike and counter spike. Master managing incoming and outgoing spike damage and you will be nearly unstoppable.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Patch 1.4.0 - Raising the Bar, Busting Excuses

And I'm not talking about the renown rank cap increase.

You won't be able to just zerg it up in Open RvR and expect to win quickly. You won't be able to jump in your elite premade and just roll the uncoordinated in scenarios all day long. You won't be able to complain that you got rolled by an elite premade when you just entered Tier 4.

1.4.0 is officially called "The Verminous Horde." I call it "The Excuse Buster."

A lot of the excuses players make about why they lose in scenarios suddenly disappear when you put players of equal skill/gear/organization together. No, the only reason you lose when you are against opponents roughly equal to you is you got outplayed.

For Open RvR, every once in awhile, the RR65+ disappear into the Skaven dungeon leaving the lower ranked players to duke it out up above. You might get outnumbered. So what? Just means you get to milk the sweet, sweet, Against All Odds buff for extra renown. Heck, you might even win if you outplay your opponents. So what if you end up losing the campaign? You get a chance at the new gear by defending your city. Since the city is considered a scenario, you end up with players similar in skill to you there too (unconfirmed and pure speculation, but would be awesome.)

WAR is going to be better than ever I think. So what's your excuse for not playing?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spike Damage - 5s and 10s Spike

One of my very first posts dealt with the coordination of CC. I did not mention in that post with what CC was coordinated. CC is coordinated with spike damage.

There are two types of CC in this game. You have offensive CC which disables an opponent while allowing you to attack him. These are knockdowns, silences, and disarms. These are typically 3 or 4 seconds long. Then you have defensive CC, stagger, which disables the opponent, but breaks if you attack him. This is typically 9 seconds long. A group heal from a WP or DoK takes 1s to cast. This gives you a 5s window to attack with offensive CC and a 10s window to attack with stagger. You'll know which spike to use by the type of CC being called.

I'll use my SM as an example.

For my 5s spike, I will try to use Ensorcelled Blow, Quick Incision, Sudden Shift, Wrath of Hoeth, Taunt, Ether Dance. If I am doing the CC with Whispering Wind, this becomes Sudden Shift, Quick Incision/Wrath of Hoeth, Taunt, Ether Dance.

For my 10s spike, I go Ensorcelled Blow, Quick Incision, Blurring Shock, Ensorcelled Blow, Wrath of Hoeth, Taunt, Ether Dance.

I also have a WL, so I can give those too.

For 5s spike, I use Pounce + Force Opportunity, Blindside/Shattering Blow, Pack Assault, Cull the Weak/Coordinated Strike/Lion's Fury.

For 10s spike, I use Pounce + FO, Blindside, LF, SB, PA, CS, CtW/LF. My tanks should be snaring the target for me. The highest spike occurs when Coordinated Strike is activated. Blindside + Shattering Blow + Pack Assault + 4 hits from Coordinated Strike + autoattack + procs all hit at once. Pack Assault helps put more damage at once if everyone is coordinating spike correctly.

The basic idea is that you need to put as much damage into a single second as possible to make damage more difficult to heal. Should you disable all healing that your opponent has, you can remove all the DoTs and just hit them with everything you have.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spike Damage - Tank Damage in Perspective

There's been a bit of talk lately about DPS tanks being able to put out the damage of a real DPS class. I'd like to put those concerns to rest by talking about spike damage. Spike damage is the ability to cause a massive amount of damage to hit at one specific time stamp. While creating spike damage results in less overall damage than going for sustained damage, the idea to overload damage on a target so that he cannot possibly be healed through it. You cannot rely on a healer running out of resources eventually in WAR. AP regenerates very quickly.

Night before last I was running some scenarios with my guild. The setup was the 3T group. Specifically it was Knight, 2 Swordmasters, Shadow Warrior, Wrath Warrior Priest, Salvation Warrior Priest. The pops were kinda slow, so the Knight decided since scenarios weren't popping, he'd get things popping with the wife. I can't say I blame the guy. A couple minutes after he left, we got a Highpass Cemetery. The scenario had 4 Sorcs in it. Ever been blasted by Sorcs without a resist buff? Let me show you some of my combat log.

[10/10/28][22:59:45] Rhiell's Doombolt critically hits you for 2266 damage. (1431 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:45] Rhiell's Frozen Touch hits you for 109 damage. (43 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:45] Moidah's Right in Da Jibblies hits you for 201 damage. (300 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:45] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Moidah for 70 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:45] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Astpios for 0 points. (70 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:45] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Rhiell for 70 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Moidah's attack hits you for 147 damage. (226 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Overdeth's Blessing of Isha heals Selan for 273 points. (1203 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Overdeth's Blessing of Isha heals Overdeth for 1476 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Overdeth's Blessing of Isha heals Yaguara for 0 points. (1476 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Overdeth's Blessing of Isha heals Chillbill for 0 points. (1623 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Overdeth's Blessing of Isha heals you for 1476 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Maxximillian's Chillwind critically hits you for 542 damage. (301 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Your Ensorcelled Agony hits Rhiell for 76 damage. (92 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rosarius's Touch of the Divine critically heals Lolife for 0 points. (1776 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rosarius's Touch of the Divine heals Cerealkilla for 0 points. (1357 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rosarius's Touch of the Divine heals Arayu for 63 points. (1294 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rosarius's Touch of the Divine heals Rosarius for 0 points. (1357 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rosarius's Touch of the Divine heals Eldemari for 0 points. (1357 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Not enough Action Points
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Not enough Action Points
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Your attack hits Rhiell for 301 damage. (361 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Selan's Touch of the Divine heals Selan for 91 points. (1291 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Selan's Touch of the Divine heals Overdeth for 1382 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Selan's Touch of the Divine critically heals Yaguara for 0 points. (1948 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Selan's Touch of the Divine heals Chillbill for 0 points. (1520 overhealed)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Selan's Touch of the Divine heals you for 1382 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Rhiell's Doombolt hits you for 965 damage. (597 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Maxximillian's Vision of Torment critically hits you for 1459 damage. (426 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:46] Your Blurring Shock hits Rhiell for 293 damage. (338 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Moidah's T'ree Hit Combo hits you for 226 damage. (273 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Your Ensorcelled Agony hits Rhiell for 76 damage. (92 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Flamer's attack hits you for 60 damage. (140 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Durid's Flash of Chaos heals Cheesus for 588 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Maxximillian's Gloomburst hits you for 686 damage. (177 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:47] Maxximillian's Frozen Touch hits you for 179 damage. (71 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Maxximillian's Swell of Gloom hits you for 686 damage. (177 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Moidah for 70 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Astpios for 70 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Moidah's You Got Nuffin' heals Rhiell for 70 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Moidah's T'ree Hit Combo critically hits you for 339 damage. (408 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Rhiell parried your Ensorcelled Blow.
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Durid's Tzeentch's Cordial heals Rhiell for 255 points.
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Maxximillian's Word of Pain critically hits you for 2356 damage. (505 mitigated)
[10/10/28][22:59:48] Tarelther has been annihilated by Maxximillian's Word of Pain in High Pass Cemetary. Maxximillian is on a Rampage!
In 3 seconds, The 2 sorcs managed to put 9248 damage on me. I only received 2858 in healing. You can see I could return 746 damage in that amount of time. I did not have a resist buff because it was shattered before this occurred. This wasn't a one off thing. They did this consistently.

Don't get me wrong, I can put up some sick numbers when all the stars align. I did get a 1233 Ether Dance and 1638 Dazzling Strike earlier today. They don't count because they were on a solo, berserk, 35 choppa.

Those two sorcs have a very effective 5 second spike. They had a Chosen with them to stagger healers if needed, but they didn't need it without our Knight around. They would have likely used a 10 second spike if they needed the stagger to get kills.

Had we had the Knight with us, his Gather Your Resolve would have been good for 378 resists, or 21.8% damage reduction. (He's full Glory with Solar Flare.) Without the Knight, I had a deficit of 6390 health. (The remaining damage to kill me was removed by the Black Orc.) With the Knight, the 9248 damage drops to 7231 damage, leaving a new deficit of 4373 health. Gather Your Resolve would have reduced the effective damage output by 31.6%. Most importantly, I would have lived long enough to get the next set of heals. This is where they would have needed a 10 second spike with a stagger.

We did end up rallying back and getting a total for 46 kills to their 61 kills. We had 15 deaths as a team. 3 to 1 team kill/death on a lost scenario isn't bad at all. We got beat, but we didn't go down without a fight. We ended up splitting their forces up between the two objective points and taking them down that way.

The time frame of 5 second spike and 10 second spike are no accident. I'll explain it next time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Skaven Impact

They are the ultimate in support and they deal almost no damage themselves. They have more hit points than normal, but can only be healed by a Packmaster. The Rat Ogre boasts 34k health for example.

The Rat Ogre is the tank's tank. Takes it like a man and hits like a girl. He boasts incredible amounts of CC. He's got everything from the AoE stagger, a massive punt that ignores immunities and the ability to hurl a group/warband member out of (or into) harm's way. Put this guy in your anvil group for the ultimate in controlling the flow of the battlefield.

The Packmaster, in addition to being the only thing capable of healing Skaven players, also boasts a nasty plague rat swarm. At one point I had a 50% debuff to outgoing damage and healing from that thing. He can also Pounce to the nearest Rat Ogre who can then toss him further out of trouble if needed. He also has a curious group buff...

The Gutter Runner's signature move in the open is his snare + movement barb. Got a bomb group? Can't have those poor saps getting out of range of your bombers can you? He can also leap out of (or into) trouble. He can also sabotage a siege engine, making it useless until it's cleansed.

The Warlock Engineer is the energizer bunny. He make your group keep going and going and going. He can put an AoE healing/magic power buff or an AoE AP regen buff. He also can cleanse a war engine that a Gutter Runner sabotages. He also has a flamethrower.

None of these classes are very good on their own. Put them with a coordinated warband, and they are deadly. Hopefully the complete lack of damage output discourages the uncoordinated from even wanting to play them. It would be a shame to waste their awesome potential with people afk in the keep.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dev for a Day - Guard requires Shield

Someone asked me in my last post how I would solve the Guard requires Shield dilemma for the SM. Here's my take.

I'll start with a couple Mythic quotes and I'll build from there.

For example Andy stated in this thread:
The fact that we're going to do a deeper evaluation has the potential to increase the likelihood that we will be restricting Guard to shield only sometime in the future. Before we make a move like that, we need to make sure that all tanks using a 2 handed weapon are on even ground, hence the decision to delay and focus on the issue at a more appropriate time.
Also Nate said in his 1.3.2. Developer Diary about Crowd Control changes:

Secondly, another aspect of allocation that we're working towards as a long-term goal is to slowly shift the general distribution of Crowd Control to be more common on defensive careers—such as the tank archetypes—and away from DPS-focused careers.

We determined that there needs to be a clear and obvious line drawn between which effects we intend to be used offensively and which we intend to be used defensively, and that lead to the final change that you'll see in this patch.

We're introducing a new effect called "Stagger".  When you Stagger an enemy, they'll be briefly disabled and unable to move or take any actions, just like a Stun or a Knockdown, but with the critical difference that the Stagger will immediately break if they suffer any damage.  We've gone through every player ability that's a Knockdown or Stun, and have done one of two things to it:  either it becomes a Knockdown (a clearly offensive tool which allows you to knock an enemy tail-over-teakettle and then beat them down) or a Stagger (which is now a clearly defensive tool to remove an enemy that you're not attacking).
I would continue down the path that was started back in 1.3.2 by Mythic. That path is the clear and obvious delineation between offensive and defensive support. This can also be clearly seen by the new armor sets. The next logical step to rebalance the classes for this. The general idea is to split up the abilities so that the offensive support abilities are in the offensive tree and the defensive support abilities are in the defensive tree.

The Khaine Swordmaster uses his Elven Greatsword and the Winds of Magic to tear apart the defenses of his foes. He is fully capable of dealing swift death to his enemy once he fully exposes the enemy's weaknesses. The true DPS class will always be able to take better advantage of the Khaine SM's openings though.

Blurring Shock/Forceful Shock - Either Blurring Shock has it's proc damage doubled or Forceful Shock doubles the proc damage of Blurring Shock. Blurring Shock is offensive utility so changing it to a knockback doesn't make much sense. It makes up for the loss of Guard by helping your group kill the enemy faster.

Sapping Strike - 50% incoming heal debuff for 10s. The SM is the only tank on Order side without a heal debuff. (The BO is in the same boat for Destruction.) This makes the tanks more on even ground. It also has synergy with the 2 piece Doomflayer and Warpforged offensive tank sets.

Phoenix's Wing - Moved to 13+1 Vaul with a different effect.

Crashing Wave moves to 9+1 in Khaine and is now a 4s knockdown. This puts it on even ground with the IB knockdown Cave-In. (4s KD with added effect.) It should likely have a 2h requirement since it's clearly offensive utility.

Whirling Geyser - 3s AoE knockdown instead of a knockback. Knockbacks seem more defensive than offensive, so it doesn't seem to fit to have a knockback in the offensive tree.

The Vaul Swordmaster puts aside the classic Elven Greatsword in favor of the shield. Using his shield and the Winds of Magic, he creates magical absorb shields to protect his group. He will determine where the battle lines are drawn. The Vaul Swordmaster highly values his own personal survival. For the longer he stands, the longer he can use the Winds to protect his brethren.

Dampening Talon - Shield required - Dragon's Talon will now affect 3 (or 9) targets within 20 feet (30 feet), but it's damage is reduced by 10% (20%). It doesn't make sense to have offensive utility like defense strikethrough on a defensive ability. Same reasoning as Forceful Shock and it'd be a decent enough "mirror" to Crippling Strikes.

Redirected Force - Requires Block. Single target 9s stagger. 10s (or 20s if that's deemed too powerful) recast. I originally wanted this to be a knockdown like the IB shield knockdown, but a stagger fits the defensive tank better. It might need to switch places with Crushing Advance in the Vaul tree.

Vaul's Buffer - Grants your group an absorb shield whenever you defend against an attack. This is a pseudo mirror to the DoK group absorb shield tactic. It helps balance the realms since Order has no equivalent to that tactic on the DoK.

Phoenix's Wing - 13+1 Vaul. Flames of the Phoenix engulf your group's armor causing X Spirit damage whenever attacked. 15s duration, 30s recast. Basically a mirror to the Chosen's Bane Shield with the tactic.

The Hoeth Swordmaster uses the Winds of Magic to neutralize other magic and refresh his allies. He is the bane of any spell caster. He combines a mix of offense and defense to turn the tide of battle.

Calming Winds - Gusting Wind will now knockback a single target a long distance. A good single target knockback is required to deal with Guard effectively, and the SM/BO just don't have access to one good enough. All tanks should have access to a good single target punt to put them on even ground.

Whispering Wind - Moved to 9+1 Hoeth with same effect. Other tanks get their CC at 9+1, so it brings the tanks more on even ground. Also the Choppa can buy their cooldown buff for 9+1.

Protection of Hoeth - Moved to 13+1 Hoeth. Group magical absorb shield for 10s. 60s recast. Sudden Shift has made the current version much less useful, so increasing the investment required and the return seemed like a good idea. It definitely has to be changed to be worth 13+1. I would make the absorb about 2k if magical only. The healer one that absorbs all damage types absorbs is about 1k. Alternately, it could just be an exact copy of the healer one.

Let me know what you think either way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Confessions of a 2H DPS Tank

Hi. My name is Tarelther, and I'm addicted to Focused Offense.

The big Ether Dance and Blurring Shock crits give me a rush. There's nothing quite like being able to take the big hits, shrug them off, and give back as good as you take. There's just something about watching that sword and board tank hitting on my healers run like a girl when my blade rips through his armor like it isn't even there. Yes, it cuts into my survivability, but I'm no more difficult to heal that a typical MDPS at that point. If the healer can keep a MDPS alive, he can keep me alive no problem.

It's even better with my pocket DPS class next to me assisting me. Then not only am I ripping through noobs like butter, I give him 65% damage mitigation so they can't even kill him easily. It's true that only works if I'm allowed to stay within 30 feet of him and they ignore me completely and only on enemies in Challenge range when I fire it. The enemy could very easily negate all that by hitting me a couple times before punting me away instead of wasting their time doing 35% damage to my guarded friend. Alternately, they could simply just do 100% of normal damage to me instead. So what if I take advantage of the social programming embedded into the player base? "ZOMG noobs! Quit beating on tanks!" If you don't deal with me, you'll never kill my group. Most will simply choose to ignore me and then wonder why my group rolled them.

Yeah, I take extra damage from using Guard since I can't block, but if I have a WP group healing anyway, I might as well make use of that healing and not let it go to waste.

The real question is it overpowering to take advantage of the natural tendency of the enemy? Or it is simply smart play?

Can I quit using Focused Offense whenever I want? Probably. But why would I want to? If my group can keep a melee DPS up under focus fire, they can keep me up. Why not go for the extra damage? After all, a dead enemy deals no damage. Death is the ultimate debuff.

Hi. My name is Tarelther, and I'm addicted to Focused Offense.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The RvR Dungeon - Thanqoul's Incursion

While I did not get to play the dungeon myself, I did watch it on the internet thanks to Hadrune, so I think I'm qualified to comment on it.

Ok, maybe not, but I'm going to do so anyway.

The instance has several levels, but the boss fights seem to be concentrated in a single area. It is very possible to park ranged classes above the main area and rain death from above upon the boss and enemy players. You'll definitely have to pay attention to your surroundings. Respawn locations are random and you never know if that group you just wiped got respawned at your back when you were trying to damage the boss.

I saw a new repairable weapon drop in there. It looked like a purple 80.7 DPS 2h weapon with a balance of offensive and defensive stats requiring rank 38. It seemed to be off a player kill. No word on if those will only drop in the instance, drop anywhere, or even exist come Live.

A balanced warband is required. The main area is an open area with lots of ledges for ranged and healers to stand, but the access to those ledges is through tunnels favoring melee. I almost think I'll have to have my hammer group just running around the dungeon tunnels killing ranged and healers so the rest can safely be in the boss area. I'm not sure where I can put my cannon group. If I put them on the ledges, I risk them getting ganked by respawns or roaming melee assist groups. If I put them by the boss, I'm forfeiting the high ground.

I probably want my anvil group holding the middle ground protecting my bomb group. But if there's melee trains running around, an anvil group is best way to shut that down. I need to damage the boss, but I need to kill players and not have my team die too. When a side wipes, the other has to focus on the boss allowing the wiped side to regroup at a random location giving the wiped side the element of surprise.

This looks like it's going to be a tactical nightmare with two good armchair generals facing each other with balanced warbands.

I, for one, welcome the challenge.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dynamic Assist

The main assist function is a great addition to the game. (If it would only get used in PuG situations it'd be awesome.) I love the versatility of the Assist addon. The biggest problem with these functions is the difficulty in switching target callers should your primary caller go down. I call this static assist. The other problem with this is the enemy finds out who the main caller is and takes him down first, you are going to lose quickly unless you can adapt.

My solution to this problem is what I call Dynamic Assist. I can assist any player in my party simply by pressing a hotkey. No, I don't put 5 buttons on my hotbar to do this. That would be wasteful. This is what I do instead.

Under your key mapping options under the WAR Main Menu (the WAR icon in the top middle of your screen by default), you'll see the default options for assisting your party members. By default, these are set to Shift + F2-F6. By default Shift 1-5 rotates your main hotbar. How many people actually make use of that? (My guess is about zero.) So I made Shift 2-6 assist group member.

With my Razer Naga, it's very easy for me to move, target, and fire off abilities all at the same time. Now I can also assist any party member I want easily. I don't get to use this feature as much as I'd like since I usually end up being the target caller in my parties, but when I'm not, I can assist anyone in the blink of an eye without missing a beat. If you don't have one, you should get one. For $80, it's one of the best things I've done to improve my game.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Apology, a Rant, and a Lesson Learned

First off, sorry about being late to my own PTS event on Tuesday. My cable modem went dead on me, so I had to drop by my ISP on the way home to pick up a new one. I took off work 2 hours early so that I could make it back in time. For those of you also in Nashvegas, the traffic on the loop around the city was just horrible. There were accidents left and right. I got home at 8:00PM EDT, 30 minutes later than I wanted.

There weren't enough people online for a warband as organized as I liked anyway. It was disappointing. At the first test there were plenty of people who showed up. I think many of them just wanted to see what it looked like and not actually test stuff. Well, that's flawed in my opinion. I spent the night in a warband with Mike Wyatt, James Casey, and Carrie running around and having fun testing stuff. It was the perfect opportunity to chat with the developers about what they were making and tell them directly what I thought and felt in the moment it was happening. I don't know any other development team that would let the general public have that kind of access to them. It's really an opportunity you shouldn't miss if you like WAR and want to see it thrive.

The lesson learned from this is that most people really don't want to go through the trouble of being hyper-organized for a game. The core culture of this game is more about just going out to the lakes/scenarios, smashing some faces for a little bit, and then log out and do something else. My fear is that the system may become so favorable to the highly organized squads (like the crew I run with) that the core audience may be alienated. I hope that doesn't happen. I think this is the main reason there's 2 months of testing for this. Mythic has to get the balance right on this. They can only do so with our help.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is a Core Tester?

If you're looking for info about the warband I'll be running on PTS on 10/12/2010, you can find it here.

There seems to be a bit of confusion on the boards about what a Core Tester is and what he or she does. I hope to clarify it a bit.

1. We're just regular players. We don't work for Bioware/Mythic. We get no reimbursement whatsoever for our contribution. The only reason we do this is because we like the game and want to see it succeed. I pay my subscription fee just like you do.
2. We don't design anything. If you have an issue with a design decision, leave your feedback on the forums, just like we do. That's what they're there for. If we bring up a valid concern, Mythic will often make changes something before implementing. They do the exact same thing with the public feedback. See the Sovereign redesign for a perfect example.
3. We aren't yes men. We are often critical of Mythic. We leave feedback in a constructive manner so that Mythic has something else to consider before making a change. (No calling anyone's mother a bad name.) For example, I was completely against the removal of Guard from 2h tanks. My reason was that I would not be wanted in a scenario group without Guard. Melee DPS would have similar utility with more damage. (Warband play is another animal completely. I think most tanks would have been fine in warband play 2h without Guard.) If the 2h trees are redesigned to give a group another reason to want me besides Guard, then I have no issue with Guard being restricted to shield only.
4. We do give input on things before the general public sees it. As such, we are held to a NDA. We don't talk about anything publicly until someone at Mythic does so first or patches it to the PTS for all to see.
5. We test content that can be tested with smaller numbers of people. You don't need 50 bazillion people to make sure a redesign of a ToVL boss works. We do that so you don't have to. You do need 50 bazillion people to test a complete redesign of the ORvR battle and to test the stability of a new version, so that's what PTS events are for.
6. We don't represent anyone but ourselves. We don't represent classes. We don't represent our guilds/alliances. We don't represent our servers. We don't represent Order or Destruction. We don't represent the community as a whole to the developers. (That's Andy's job.) We are Core Testers for our own opinions and contributions, and nothing else.

I hope this clears things up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Team Play - Warband Play - Live on the PTS Tuesday!

I'm going to be running a tightly organized warband for the PTS event on Tuesday, October 12th 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT/02.00 CET. Rather than just ramble on my blog about it, I thought I would just show you how my warband strategy works.

The original post is here.

I will have one of each type of warband group I talked about here, and I need you to fill the spots. I need you to leave a comment on my blog giving me the character name, class, and group type you want. Players in the PK alliance get priority. These are first come, first served after that. If you are late, I reserve the right to give your spot to someone else. I'll form the warband at about 7:30 PM EDT/01:30 AM CET.

If you impress me I might just have other opportunities for you. ;)

All tanks will be using Distracting Bellow as their morale. No exceptions.

Anvil group - The tanks in this group will be responsible for using Challenge and Hold the Line to protect the rest of the warband. This group will draw the battle lines for the fight.

Glory Knight - Auras are Gather Your Resolve, Now's Our Chance, and Stay Focused. Take Heaven's Fury, Now's Our Chance, and Focused Mending. Tactics are Rugged, Focused Mending, and Emperor's Ward. This will be played by me on Tarelsun. It's not that I don't trust anyone else with the stagger...Ok actually, yeah, that's why I'm doing it. I am also going to be rotating Challenge and Distracting Bellow.

Stone Ironbreaker - Take Oathbound and Oathstone. You'll mainly be Guarding and Oathfriending a Slayer that will be our bait. You'll need to make him tough as nails to kill. You will also rotate Challenge and Bellow. Tactics are Rugged and 2 others .

Khaine Swordmaster - Take Phoenix Wing and one other with 13 points in Khaine. Run Nature's Blade. Get those debuffs on the enemy as quick as you can. Tactics are Rugged and 2 others. Stay alive as best you can. I will likely be cross-guarding you.

Skavenslayer Slayer - Take Shatter Limbs and Inevitable Doom. Tactics will be Brute Force, Ancestral Inheritance and Riposte. You're mainly around for Shatter Limbs and to be a distraction.

Salvation Warrior Priest - Take Martyr's Blessing and Cleansing Power. Tactics are Cleansing Power, Discipline, and Emperor's Ward.

Grimnir Rune Priest - Take Ancestor's Echo and Master Rune of Adamant. Tactics are Discipline, Ancestor's Echo, and a wild card.

Hammer group - The melee assist train. This group will make their way to the back line and rip them apart one by one. Everyone will assist one person in this group.

Conquest/Vigilance Knight - Auras are Press the Attack, To Glory, To Victory. Take Encouraged Aim, To Glory and To Victory. Encouraged Aim affects everyone in the warband, so that is why it's used over Dirty Tricks. Tactics are Encouraged Aim and 2 others. Mainly try to stay alive.

Judgment Witch Hunter - Burn Away Lies and Fanatical Cleaning. Not like there's any other spec for a Witch Hunter at 30 anyway. ;) Brute Force, Fanatical Cleansing, Flanking.

Troll/Giant Slayer - Just kill single targets dead fast. Don't care how you do it.

Hunter White Lion - Pounce, Force Opportunity. Tactics: Brute Force, Flanking, Pack Synergy. Take as much advantage of the crit from the Nature's Blade debuff and Encouraged Aim as you can.

Warrior Priest - Don't care as long as you can heal the group well.

Isha Archmage - Take Mistress of the Marsh and whatever else you want from Isha. You make sure you can keep healing.

Bomb Group - This group will apply AoE pressure damage to negate group heals.

Brotherhood IB - The important thing is Earthshatter. Don't want those enemies getting away from the bomb do we? You will also buff the slayer in the group.

Conflag BW - AoE, AoE and more AoE. Don't really care how you do it.

Skaven Slayer - Shatter Limbs and Inevitable Doom. Go full out AoE DPS.

Engineer - As much AoE damage as you can dish out, be that Tinkerer or Napalm or w/e.

Warrior Priest - Again, just keep these guys alive.

Rune Priest - See Warrior Priest above.

Cannon group - Single target ranged DPS group. Blows up the front lines good. You'll all assist the same person.

Hoeth SM - Whispering Wind and one other thing from Hoeth. WW is used to help the DPS get their spike moves down.

Engineer - Single target - whatever you gotta do, but remember you'll be at range.

Bright Wizard - Immolation can take more advantage of WW, especially with Boiling Blood and the tactic to increase it's damage and drop it's delay to 5s. Withering Heat is nice for it too. Ignite, Boiling Blood, Withering Heat, rinse/repeat.

Shadow Warrior - Festerbomb away. WW removes the recast on Festering Arrow, so bomb to your heart's content.

Archmage and Rune Priest - Keep these guys alive. Add dps when you can, but heals first.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sudden Shift fixed for 1.4

I was on the PTS on Tuesday and Whispering Wind will no longer affect the cooldown of Sudden Shift in 1.4.

No more Ether Dance spam. It was kinda cheesy anyway.

I'm planning on doing a little something for the PTS event next Tuesday, but I'm still making some decisions on stuff. Check back for updates.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Open RvR 2.0

Information has come out of GamesDay UK about Skaven and the Open RvR revamp.

ShadowWAR has a nice summary of the infomation gathered so far.

At any given time, there will be 12 places/routes to defend and attack at once.

  1. The 4 BOs.
  2. The 4 resource carriers
  3. The 2 warcamps
  4. The 2 keeps
Zerging it up is likely going to end badly. There's too much stuff to attack and defend at any given time to make it worth it. This is good imo.

The keep siege itself will definitely become more dynamic. I imagine the siege going like something like this.
  1. Skirmishes abound as players fight for control of the BOs and resource carrier routes. Expect big fights at choke points like bridges and narrow passes.
  2. One side will reach Rank 4 first. They have a tough decision whether or not to bring out the Ram and attempt to assault the enemy keep or wait for Rank 5 to get even more offensive siege weapons first.
  3. The attackers must now move their siege weapons from their keep to the enemy keep. (I'm hoping these have to be moved while built and they move slower than a player. I could be wrong. Ignore this step if so.) Defenders can take this opportunity to intercept and destroy the Ram and offensive siege weapons before they reach their keep, hopefully setting back the attackers forcing them to wait on the Ram and siege weapons to respawn. (Siege weapon respawn mechanics, or if they even respawn, are unknown.)
  4. The keep assault begins. The attackers are first tasked with bringing down the defender's siege weapons. Since these hurt now, not taking these out will likely result in certain destruction of their Ram and offensive siege weapons and all of them most likely. This can be done with melee going in the postern door, ranged DPS and offensive siege weapons shooting them, players parachuting in on Aerial Bombers, players being thrown up by friendly Rat Ogres or the Skaven Gutter Runner leaping up and sabotaging it. While all this is happening, defenders are respawning in their keep. Attackers are respawning at their keep so it'll take much longer for attackers to rejoin the battle.
  5. If the attackers manage to bring down the defender's siege weapons and oil, it is now safer to assault the keep door. Rams and Rat Ogres now start focusing on the outer door. Defenders continue to focus on taking out the Ram. Losing the Ram means the attackers having to wait on it to respawn. (Purely an assumption on the Ram respawning. Details are unknown on how or if that happens.)
  6. The outer door falls! Attackers attempt to maneuver to the inner keep. I imagine it won't be easy getting the Ram and offensive siege weapon through the main gate since defenders will simply respawn at the inner keep should the attackers manage to push through. The attackers will have to push through and wipe the defenders stand at the outer door.
  7. Now the attackers need to take out the siege weaponry and oil on the inner keep. This will be difficult considering that it will likely take awhile to move that siege weaponry into the keep and set it up. (Purely assuming they have to be moved while built. I could be wrong. If I am, ignore this part just like the other one like this.)
  8. The defenders now must defend the inner keep door as if their life depended on it, for it truly does. If that inner door drops, defenders can no longer respawn in their keep and respawn at their warcamp instead.
  9. Should the attackers bring down the inner down, the defenders will make one last stand inside the keep to prevent its loss. To capture the keep, and likewise the zone, attackers must interact with a flag in the lord room for 30 seconds uninterrupted.
  10. Renown and loot bonuses given out.
 Sounds like it could be epic. I'll reserve final judgment until I get to play it for myself though. If I'm right, you couldn't even zerg a keep since you need to attack and defend multiple points on the keep while protecting your own, plus protecting BOs and resource carriers and your warcamp.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My New 1.3.6. Build Revisited

So I tried my original plan again. Here's the results. I also changed my UI around a bit. My old one was just awful.

Shhh! Just don't tell Nate about this! Keep this between us ok?

EDIT: So apparently Nate found out about it and this has been fixed for 1.4. Sorry gang!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Explanation of My Newer 1.3.6. Build

This is the promised explanation video for my newer 1.3.6 build. It isn't the greatest quality video out there, but it gets the message across.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Night of 1v1s

I decided to take part in the Thursday night duels that happen on Volkmar today. I watched more fights that I took part in. I did 14 matches and went 6-6-2. On one of the losses, my opponent dropped from my DoTs on him after I died.

I went with 6 Defensive Sovereign and 3 Warlord with 2 pieces of regen jewelry, basically my PvE set of gear. I used a variation of my full support spec taking Sapping Strike, Lingering Intimidation, Whispering Wind and Blessing of Heaven. My overall plan was to use Whispering Wind to allow me to spam Sapping Strike and Intimidating Blow. This would deny my opponent AP regeneration and completely prevent my opponent from ever getting to morale 1. Lingering Intimidation stopped my opponent from scoring critical hits. I had 400 HP/4s regen. Dazzling Strike would provide the bulk of my DPS.

I played too defensively. Next time I'll try to bring more damage. I think if I use a more aggressive spec I might do a bit better. I don't think my gear was as much of an issue as my lack of damage. Maybe I'll use my DPS/Knockdown hybrid.

Maybe some more experienced duelers can help me out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Buffhead2 Settings in Action

If you needed another reason to get Buffhead2, especially with my settings file, watch this video.

The information it gives you easy access to is amazing. Highly recommended for target callers.

Buffhead2 Settings Link

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Newer 1.3.6 Build

I've changed up my standard build a little in light of actually playing 1.3.6. in a live environment. I shot a quick video to show what I do. Note this is NOT an excuse to only use a single build everywhere. A group that can take advantage of Whispering Wind will take me out of this build in a heartbeat.

Explanation will come in a later video.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Buffhead2 Settings

Buffhead2 is an amazing add-on that a guildmate of mine recently got me to use. Man, that thing is awesome. I don't have to look at the target frame to determine what effects my opponents and group members have. I've set it up so that I see all the major buffs that a character can have on him. This includes detaunts, Guard, Challenge, Distracting Bellow, Immaculate Defense, Absolute Preservation, CC immunites, LotD pocket items, and more.

I've uploaded the file so that all can use it. It only works for Order. The detaunt names would have to be changed to their Order equivalents to work for Destro. You'll need to place it in your WAR directory under user > settings > server name > character name > character name > Buffhead. So for me, it's under user > settings > Volkmar > Tarelther > Tarelther > Buffhead.

SavedVariables.lua file for Buffhead2

This is actually the version I use on my Knight. My SM uses one that filters out most of the Nature's Blade buffs because I really don't need to see those.  I like to see when I've taken initiative though so I know when I can go for the hard spike.

SavedVariables.lua file for Buffhead2 for SMs

It's made a huge difference for me. It makes the information I need to make decisions more easily available.

Props to Ze WAR for his 6v6 guide. Go read it. It's good stuff. I saw his mention of Buffhead2 and knowing how long it took me to setup mine, I figured others would appreciate the shortcut.

Update: Destro version of Buffhead2 settings

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

@ The Person Asking Me My Opinion About Healers

First off, sorry about the cut short answers followed by the /ignore. I had too many other things going on. I was hoping you'd take the hint that I was busy. I will give you my full answer here now that I have more time to answer it.

I'm only going to cover Order healers because that's what I know better and that's what the question was about.

I'll start with this. Healing burden is not determined by your group. It's determined by your enemy. You want to build your healing core around what you will be facing if possible.

Again, this is all simply my opinion and is greatly simplified.

The Warrior Priest is an anti-physical, anti-AoE healer. He cleanses Hexes and Curses and is the only healer in game that can cleanse his entire group at once without blowing a morale. He simply does not have the ability to do large single target spike healing unless he puts himself in danger. Choppas hate seeing this healer because he can completely neutralize almost everything he does in a group setting. A Sorceress that relies on Curses like Word of Pain to kill is also annoyed by the WP. The best chance at killing a WP is to use a Witch Elf. Witch Elves can ignore armor. A lot of WPs have tank level armor. She uses Ailments which the WP cannot cleanse. She also does large, single target spike damage which the WP is not well equipped to handle. Other physical damage dealers are not much of a concern to the WP due the ease at which he can stack armor.

The Archmage is an anti-magic, spike healer. Arguably the Archmage has the best single target raw healing in the game. AP is generally not a concern to the healing AM due do all the ways they have to conserve and restore AP. They can cleanse Hexes and Ailments. Due to their light armor and inability to cleanse Curses, Choppas love seeing these on the field. Squig Herders can eat AMs for lunch too with their silence, heal debuff, and heavy physical damage. The AM also cannot cleanse anything a Sorceress does. The AM shares a common issue most players have with High Elves in general. The AM is a very self centered class. It's got a lot of raw healing going for it and a ton of self preservation tools, but as far as offering their group much more than a lot of heals, they don't have much utility.

The Rune Priest is the jack of all trades, buffing healer. He can buff your stats. He can buff your armor. He can buff your resists. He can give you AP. He can buff all incoming healing. He can heal on the run. He can stand still and focus heal. He can AoE heal. And if he had a tube sock, a cardboard tube, a hanger and paper clips, he could probably find a way to heal you with them. He can stack armor to the heavens like the WP or he can have lower armor in favor of better heals. Now obviously, he can't do all this at once. He has to choose what he's going to be good at. He cleanses Curses and Ailments, so he's weak to major debuffing ability of the Blackguard.

So as far as your question, would I rather have an AM or RP? It depends on the situation. I'll take the class with the better player behind it all else being equal. I know it's not what you wanted, but it's the way I see it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Knight's Tale or My 4th Rank 40 Character

Ok really. This isn't fair. The Knight of the Blazing Sun is simply far too easy to play for how strong it is.

For example, the Swordmaster mechanic is built around AP management. Every Perfect Balance attack is free. That's cool. Arguably the best tank channel in the game costs the tank no AP to use. On my Knight, I don't run out of AP...ever. Bellow Commands is just crazy. I can't spam abilities quick enough to drain myself.

The Swordmaster's main form of hard CC is the knockback. Yeah, Banish Darkness just isn't fair. I need a rank 4 morale to knock someone back like that on my SM.  Arguably a good single target knockback is better than an AoE knockback for cleaning Guard off a target. I have to slot a tactic on my SM just to get a single target knockback as good as the Knight's without Banish Darkness. The Knight's other hard CC is located 9 points up their Mastery trees. The SM's hard CC is located 13 up their Mastery. And AoE stagger. 'Nuff said.

One the signature things the SM can do is drain stats from an enemy group, and lots of them, including Initiative. On most targets, this will grant your group an extra 10-20% crit rate, but it's random. My Knight can run two tactics and achieve the same thing all the time...

Can my Knight do the damage of my SM? Not even close. Don't get me wrong, damage is important, but it isn't everything. My SM has some nasty burst that my Knight just won't be able to match. (Especially not at RR30.)

The only real downside to the Knight is I'm dependent on my group because all I can really do is make my group more effective and stay alive. That may change down the road as the Knight picks up more gear and renown. On my SM, since it's a more self centered class, I can more easily take the burden of the group upon myself. I'm never in a situation where I can say that I blew all my cooldowns and tell my group to pick up the slack.

In my opinion, a well played SM can outdo a well played Knight, especially in damage and debuffs. A mediocre Knight will beat a mediocre SM any day of the week. In my mind, this makes me want to play harder at my SM.

Or maybe I'm just full of crap and completely off-base. Feel free to tell me either way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tarelther's Take on Against All Odds on Live

So yeah, it's definitely spread out the zerg. Any temptation my alliance to follow the zerg was eliminated. I've been finding more smaller fights recently. This is one of the things that the devs were trying to accomplish, and so far it's worked. The real test of this will be how it's doing next week.

The bonus might be a little too big. Basically, you get at least double renown/xp/inf if outnumbered 20% or more in a lake. I've gotten quite a few 1.2k renown ticks from BOs because of that.

There's more coming out of Gamescom. They aren't done with ORvR yet. I'm pretty sure a lot of that info is coming out tomorrow at Baltimore Games Day, but I don't know for sure.

Although it is double renown weekend. Time to log in and get some stuff done.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Elite Mindset - You Never Rise to the Occasion

Rather you fall back on your level of training. A great example of this happened on the PTS test last Friday. For one part of the test, each side alternated defending Chillwind Manor in Eataine. With friendly collision turned off, defending was much more difficult. I don't think either side really knew how to efficiently defend the BO without it.

In PK, we'd let the attackers in the BO a little bit and kill them as they come in. The attacker's advance would be slowed as they got caught on each other and they would die to our damage as they came in. Sure they might outnumber us 4 to 1, but when we have a warband and we only engage half a warband at a time as they push in, it's quite easy to win.

Defense of the BO failed hard on both sides. Even the outnumbered side managed to grab the BO eventually.

Assaulting the defended position did not change at all. I instantly knew how to beat that from my past experience. I told my side we should hold to morale 3, have a couple tanks go in and drop Challenge and Distracting Bellow, followed by everyone else to mop up. With incoming damage dropped to 35% of normal, it was nothing to get everyone in quickly and safely. The enemy front line disintegrated within seconds on the morale dump.

I'm not yet sure how to defend such a position without friendly collision. It will likely involve having to be much more aggressive though. Once I figure out something, I'll test it and, if it works, train the rest of my alliance on it.

I'm starting to think tanks in WAR are a lot like the offensive/defensive lines in American football at least in oRvR. If your big guys beat up their big guys, chances are pretty good you're going to win.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Team Play and The Elite Mindset - A Video Example

I found this little gem (ok 1GB isn't little, but still) on the RDPS forums and it fits perfectly with two of the topics, so I had to share this. They're speaking French, but it's not hard to tell what they're saying even if you don't know the language.


Everything I've talked about in both those series is contained in this video in some form.

Note: avast! says it's clean, and my system is fine so far, but still use your own due diligence before downloading and watching the video. I didn't make it, so I'm not gonna vouch for it.

Original forum post 

Nice job gentlemen. I hope to see more ass-kicking in the future.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Elite Mindset - Accurate Judgment

The biggest difference in my opinion between WAR and other competitive games like Counter Strike is that you can neither see nor hear you opponents. You fight the silent, intelligent enemy. He doesn't hear your trash talk. He doesn't hear your frustration. He doesn't hear your victory cries. He can't hear your strategy, and neither can you hear his. You are playing a game against an opponent and you are given very limited information about him.

I was flipping through stuff on Hulu and found a rather interesting show. It's called Solitary. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. One of the most intriguing things about watching the show is seeing the impressions the contestants get in their minds about their competition from very limited information. All they get is each players age and 2 other facts. They never see each other or hear each other. It's quite humorous to see just how wrong they are about their opponents due to their imaginations just filling in the rest of the information. Oftentimes, the emotions cloud their judgment. (It could also be the sleep deprivation and hunger, but hey, I'm trying to make point here.)

I see this same thing happen in WAR. Players see a name or guild tag and automatically assume certain things about the player. I've been told on multiple occasions by a player that rerolled from Destro to Order that enemy players would see my guild tag in an empty instance and preemptively give up because of our reputation. (It's rare we get a good fight and we hate it. Most quit after 2 or 3 wipes leaving us bored in stage 2 and 3.) Even when we are on our low RR alts, we still get the effect.

The thing is we're not invincible. Not even close. DROW and us go back and forth often. Sometimes they win. Sometimes we win. It's about even. Sometimes we get beat because we just don't have the ability to form a super strong group with what's online at that moment. I imagine they run into the same issue too. Everyone has their off days.

In reality, the elite guilds aren't really that much different from causal guilds with the exception of the expectation of performance and the level of training provided. One of the first things we have to break in a new recruit is his inaccurate views of the elite enemy guilds. I can't tell you how many times I yell in vent. "Yeah, it's DROW/Malice/Shadows/other elite Destro guild. Don't waffle yourself. Push into them!" Yes we take into account that these guys are likely more organized that the average bear, but we don't let that beat us before we start.

Sometimes we'll charge into a situation we have no hope of possibly surviving. But the warband leader will know this and set the expectation upfront and give the goal. A lot of times it's take a BO from under the zerg and hold it until it locks to prevent a domination flip. We don't go into 5 times our numbers and expect to wipe them. About 4 to 1 is the best we've been able to wipe in a well defended position. Much more than that and sheer numbers will overwhelm us eventually.

The point of all this is simple. Player Killers started pulling off a lot more interesting stuff once we didn't allow intimidation to cause incorrect judgments. Your enemy cannot interact with you much in WAR, so the intimidation comes purely from within yourself. Another example is all the stuff I have here about DPS tanking ToVL. That whole thing came about because I had trouble holding hate in Lost Vale, so I did some research. Once I became confident it would work in theory, I put it into practice and it worked. (By the way, thanks to Delolith for a lot of that research over on WHA. It gave me a good foundation to build my 2 handed tanking strategy.) If I had not ignored all the crap out there saying it would never work, I would still be struggling in PvE trying to use a shield build for everything.

So yeah, don't psych yourself out or you'll never be able to rise to the occasion. Well, provided rising to the occasion is even possible that is.

Tarelther's Take on the Removal of Friendly Collision

Mythic decided to be a little sneaky about something on the PTS event yesterday. They turned off friendly player collision and didn't bother to tell anyone about it until afterward. The Core Testers already knew what was up, but when asked for feedback about the test, no one else could jump and say that friendly collision was turned off. Almost everyone saw performance improvement, some massive improvement. There wasn't a single negative comment about it before Andy dropped the bomb on us.

Note that enemy collision was still on the entire time. You just would not get caught up on your realm mates.

After the news was given, some players brought up concerns about the tank wall no longer working. This is only partially true. The shield wall simply has to evolve to the phalanx.

For those unfamiliar with a phalanx, it's basically two or more rows of shield tanks with third or greater ranks being DPS. The way the tank wall currently works is that you need 5 seconds to push through the enemy and then 5 seconds to push through your ally to clear the wank wall. With no friendly collision, you need 5 seconds per rank to push through. A 2 rank deep phalanx covers the current job of a single rank tank wall.

The phalanx is easy countered by a flanking maneuver much like a tank wall. The players will have to modify their tactics to play in this new environment, but overall I think it will be good for the game for many reasons.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Elite Mindset - Immunity to Criticism

Imagine this situation. You're leaving a scenario in which you just got your ass handed to you on a silver platter. The rest of the group is frustrated. The leader of the group admits responsibility for the defeat. Another group member of your same archetype gives you some advice on how to improve your play based on what he saw. How do you respond?

A. STFU N00B! It's my 15 bux!
B. OMFG you're right! I'm such a dumbass!
C. Ok. I'll try it out.

Which one is the elite player's response? It should be fairly obvious that it's C. The elite player is immune to criticism.

Immunity to criticism means simply that the elite player simply takes criticism as it is without any emotional attachment to it. He still listens to the criticism, but he uses him own judgment and experimentation to determine the worth of the advice given to him. Because the elite player does not care what others think of him, he can also easily admit his mistakes in front of others and learn from them quickly. I had to do this during my last ToVL run trying to get Boss 8 back in position after the Casket of Souls fires. I kept pulling him too far, which of course, wipes the group because of the cleave.

The situation given in the first paragraph is part of the evaluation of new prospective Circle of Rage member. If the prospective member exhibits either response A or B, he is denied entry into the guild. A lot of times in combat, adjustments have to be made quickly to save a wipe or react to an opportunity to wipe the opponent, especially when outnumbered by a good ratio. Emotional drama during such a high pressure encounter will cause a group to lose quicker than just about anything else.

I don't know about you, but I don't like losing and by extension, don't like having people around me that can cause me to lose more easily. I'm not afraid of losing, but I'd rather not lose given the opportunity to win.

Become emotionally detached to criticism. If the criticism helps you, implement it. If it doesn't work or is just given to try to aggravate you, ignore it. Improper emotions cloud accurate judgment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Elite Mindset - We're All Noobs at Some Point

I wanted to do a series on warband strategy, but I felt this would be more useful overall.  I started having a lot more fun in WAR when I quit running from challenge and started embracing it. Instead of fearing the zerg, I learned to use it's disorganization against it. I went from fearing seeing the Destro elite premades to welcoming them. Instead of being fearful, I became feared (mostly because of my guild tag).

I consider myself to be an elite player that a lot of more "causal" players seem to rail about on the forums. I'm certainly in an elite guild. I don't play a whole lot, and I don't have the best gear, but playing a lot and having the best gear doesn't make one elite. I've managed to earn the title Master Tactician from my guildmates. I wasn't always like this though.

Don't believe me? Here. Watch for yourself. 10 minutes of footage of probably one of the most embarrassing scenarios I've ever been in. (I've muted the sound to prevent the video from being used for other purposes.)

This was shot about a year ago. You've got everything there from lack of fortitude to keyboard turning to not using challenge to not using Guard properly to a crappy, cluttered UI. It's truly pathetic how the heck I got to tier 4 playing that badly.

But I didn't beat myself up over it. I manned up, admitted I sucked and got help.

The first thing required to make the transition from "normal" player to "elite" player is to realize that you don't know everything and that it's quite possible you aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread. The "elite" may seem cocky, but the first true lesson is being elite is humility. A player who thinks he's perfect cannot accept feedback from others and therefore cannot improve.

Truly, the first fear to go has to be the fear of failure.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My New 1.3.6 Build

1.3.6 introduces many changes to the SM class and enough has been revealed so far that I can now show you all my new plan for 1.3.6. Note that I do not have the Royal Weapon yet, and probably won't for a little while, but this is the goal. This assumes no changes to the tank sovereign between now and the patch. This also assumes almost 100% uptime on procs. This will require testing to confirm.


Full Offensive tank Sovereign
3 Glyphs
Offensive Royal Weapon


Might 5, Assault 3, Reflexes 3, Dark Elf Bane, Greenskin Bane

Talismans (+23 or 3%): 4 STR, 1 WOU, 1 crit, 1 Kamenra

Hybrid DPS build


Str 774
WS 271
Tou 595
Init 331 (10.6% chance to be crit.)

Wou 902
MP 222
Spi  513
Cor 508
Ele 508
+25% parry
+13% crit
9 AP/s
+15% damage
14% parry strikethrough/10% block strikethrough
Damage bonus abilities 300.7 (101.5 from weapon and 199.2 from stats)
Damage bonus AA 201.1 (101.5 from weapon and 99.6 from stats)

I might do Opportunist 3 instead of Reflexes 3, but the extra crit really isn't needed if you have a Knight or SW around.

This build will take huge advantage of WW, Sudden Shift, Sudden Shift, Ether Dance, SS x2, Ether Dance.Sudden Shift does NOT incur global cool down. Sudden Shifts recast drops to 0 under the effect of WW and Ether Dance drops from 8s to 3s, so you can pretty much spam ED while under the effect of WW.

Well gee Nate, way to ruin all my fun. Yeesh!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Diminishing Returns on Critical Rate

Let's face it. Time to kill in WAR can be ridiculously fast. I believe this is largely in part due to critical hits getting way out of control. I have a SW guildmate who has a parsed 80% crit rate. I know BWs who pull off about the same. It's much more effective on the BW because their mechanic grants extra critical damage bonus.

As discussed in earlier posts, the ability to steal initiative from an enemy or cause him to be crit more often will often kill a target very quickly. Likewise making yourself unable to be crit allows you do some things that would normally kill you quickly. It's much easier for a healer to deal with a predictable stream of incoming damage than random spikes of incoming damage. (This is the principle that allows me to 2 hand tank in ToVL.)

I propose diminishing returns on critical chance once it surpasses 40-50% or so. I believe this will make fights much more strategic placing more emphasis on proper use and timing of CC than out-gearing and out-RRing your opponents to death. The main difference between a lower RR character and a higher RR character in most cases.is critical chance. Higher RR characters will still have an advantage over lower RR characters, but it will be much less pronounced, giving the lower RR player a better chance to survive.

I realize I'm going to have Shadow Warriors raging at me for this, but if this negatively effects the Shadow Warrior too much, then Mythic can simply adjust the class to bring its performance back to an appropriate level.

Any thoughts?

Team Play - The 1.3.6. Melee Pain Train

Now that some of the changes for 1.3.6. are being revealed, I have an idea for another group. So without further adieu, here's the group.

Knight - Press the Attack! w/ Encouraged Aim, To Glory!, Gather Your Resolve! Standard cookie cutter build here.
Swordmaster - Suicide Hybrid DPS - Full DPS Sovereign - Ether Dance, Whispering Winds, Great Weapon Mastery - Tactics are Focused Offense, Great Weapon Mastery, Ensorcelled Agony and Potent Enchantments. Use Nature's Blade for blade enchant.
White Lion - Take Primal Fury, Cull the Weak, Force Opportunity, Pounce, Lionheart, rest up Hunter. Tactics are Lionheart, Brute Force, Flanking/Pack Hunting, and Loner/Pack Synergy
Slayer - Take Deep Wound, Short Temper and Shatter Limbs. I don't play a Slayer, so I won't give all tactics, but use Short Temper in there.
Warrior Priest (dps) - I don't play a dps WP, so someone else will have to comment on that one.
Healer - any class

The Knight provides critical bonus to the group, some AP, resists, and CC. It is Knight's job to clear Guard off enemy targets.

The Swordmaster provides some burst DPS, Nature's Blade, and recast time reduction. The Knight is providing critical bonus, so Balanced Accuracy is not required. Nature's Blade is for the buffs and debuffs, especially initiative since that swings survivability and damage massively in your favor. Also Whispering Winds is there for the recast time reduction for Lion's Fury and Shatter Limbs (and Deep Wound if so inclined.) Also, the SM debuffs spirit for the White Lion's Lion's Fury.

The White Lion uses their new Force Opportunity to armor debuff opponents for the Slayer and Warrior Priest, but the White Lion himself will be using Lionheart for damage with the presence of the Swordmaster.

The Slayer is the heavy damage of the group, especially with the large armor debuff from the White Lion. He also uses Shatter Limbs to slow down the enemies' ability usage. With Short Temper and WW up, this has a 10s recast, equal to it's duration. Also with both up, Deep Wound can be spammed for 25 AP.

There are two tanks in the group, so one of the healers can be DPS. With the White Lion around, the best choice is a Warrior Priest, although an Archmage would not be bad either since the SM is debuffing spirit already.

I find a group only needs 3 support (tank/healer) to be effective. Using 4 support reduces the groups effectiveness too much for me unless some of them go DPS. This group has 4 support classes in it, so 2 are going for DPS to help balance the group. This is assuming this is a scenario party. Rules are very different in warband size engagements.

Let em know what you think.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tarelther's Take on What WAR Does Right

It's been busy at work for me lately, so I've not had much time to play, much less post. So I want to go over what WAR has going for it that other games just don't get (yet).

1. Immunity timers on CC. In other games I've played, PvP devolves into who can get their stun-lock going off first. The immunity timers force players to think ahead, wait for and create opportunities, and prevent well balanced opponents from trying to simply win through brute force. I also don't have fun staring at my screen for 10 seconds unable to do anything while the enemy kills me and my team.

2. AoE abilities do less base damage than single target abilities all else being equal. For example in FFXI, my first MMO, the black mage -ga AoE spells were a LOT stronger in single target than the single target equivalent spell. There was no real PvP in that game, so the only downside was that it was more MP intensive.

3. Action Points that regenerate quickly. You can't just wait out your opponent and hope to win the battle of attrition. With balanced and well matched groups fighting one another, incoming damage is easily dealt with by healing. This means that someone has to use CC (which causes an immunity, so it has to be timed well) or morale to create an imbalance for long enough to get some kills.

4. Morale abilities. These abilities typically end an engagement, one way or another. It also forces some strategy. Do I dump my morale at a lower level at try to end the fight quickly, knowing that if it fails, we're likely going to lose to the enemy morale dump? Or do I hold it for a higher morale, hoping to survive any earlier dumps by the enemy?

5. Tanks do something other than get ignored until the end. Guard, Challenge, and Taunt are well designed to allow a tank to make himself a more attractive target than normally found in other games if played right. I can't tell you how times I've noticed I'm hitting a Chosen harder than the Zealot he's protecting.

I've got some complaints about WAR. Don't get me wrong. One does not become a Core Tester by agreeing with Mythic all the time. I think it's the best MMO on the market for PvP right now, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Although I wonder if Mythic could create a better PvP game without the strings of the Warhammer license attached to it...

Monday, June 14, 2010

New SM Open RvR build with Results.

So yesterday we were bored and decided to go out into the lakes. We were short tanks, so I actually had to spec into an actual tanky type build with a shield. (My knight is almost ready to take over that job though.) I ended up going with a very unusual build. It will look weird, so just go with me on it.

Weird ORvR build

For lower than RR70, don't get Perfect Defenses. Or skip AA and use an armor pot. Adjust as needed.

Another SM was covering Heaven's Blade, so I didn't want to overlap it. We would be fighting against multiple enemies, so the AoE of Nature's Blade was going to be invaluable. I could basically hit an AoE and drain 117 of all stats except wounds from the enemy and buff my group with it. The initiative steal alone is killer. Go check out Blurring Shock's post on initiative.

Just a quick little AJ on some unsuspecting destro there. We got there just in time to save the keep. It's just two bomb groups. It's what we had on at the time. (Ramthorne is Circle of Rage's GM. He's our big strategy guy. He comes up with an idea and I find a way to implement it basically.)

They decided to come back for more.
Yeah, it didn't work too well for them. Especially since we had oil to work with now. So we repaired up the doors, and flew over to Reikland noticing it's in danger of being captured. We ride up to the south BO since is the best place to defend in that zone.

They tried to push in and failed.

We notice Kadrin Valley in trouble, so we go grab a BO there. No opposition, so we came back and did the same thing again. Surely Destro would be defending it this time.

Nope. They wouldn't push in this time. They brought a lot more for round 2. Notice that we pushed out and wiped them this time.

Here's how we did it. After noticing it's a stalemate for 7 minutes, someone mentioned trying to push out on them. The longer we stayed in there, the more chance more opposition would show and wipe us out. They were stacking the door pretty heavily, so we had to clear those stairs in order to have a chance. We had all 4 Swordmasters build up to perfect balance and hold it for Gusting Wind. We waited 30 seconds to wait out any possible immunity timers. All 4 SMs hit Gusting Wind at once and it cleared the stairway. It's easy to block or parry 1 Gusting Wind, but the odds of blocking/parrying 4 isn't so good. We pushed out and had all the tanks (except me, since there were two tanks in my group) hit Immaculate Defense. Everyone else dropped morales at the same time. When the initial morale dump was completed 10 seconds later, I used Distracting Bellow on the remaining enemy and we cleaned them up.

The reasoning behind the build was purely to take advantage of the initiative steal of Nature's Blade. We were heavy on BWs. BWs get more bonus from critical hits than other DPS, so it only made sense to try to capitalize on it. Also the group was incredibly squishy, so I had to make the most of my Challenge ability to help ease the burden on healers by maxing out my avoidance. Forceful Shock was just used to snare and punt away tanks who were guarding enemies.

Next time I'll try to show a different warband make up from 3 bombs. We were just farming the zerg. It's what we had at the time. Against real opposition, we would have gotten rolled and fast.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Team Play - Multi-group and Warband Strategy

I promised dwarven weaponry in my last post. I've already discussed two of these and hinted at a third.

These are the 4 group types in PK warband strategy.

Hammer - The single target assist train. (Viable scenario group on it's own.)
Bomb - PBAoE group (Also a viable scenario group on it's own.)
Anvil - Tank/healer heavy group used to hold points and draw enemy fire/morales. (Not good on it's own normally. Not enough damage output unless all the tanks are suicide or at least DPS spec. With all the tanks putting out damage, this becomes the 3T group.)
Cannon - Ranged group used to deal damage from afar, outside the range of Challenge, Crippling Strikes, and other damage debuffs. (Not good on it's own. Too vulnerable to melee. Needs an anvil group to protect them. Very effective if you can double queue with an anvil.)

In the old city, PK always used 2 hammers and 2 anvils and held two of the three points that way. 1 anvil parked at apex. 1 anvil parked at temple. The 2 hammers moved to help whichever anvil the enemy was hitting.

Guards, Challenges, and Distracting Bellows are all used to reduce incoming damage. We're more reliant on Challenge and Distracting Bellow than Guard since those two abilities protect all our allies. We can have most groups with only one tank with an anvil group in warband because of this. Single target knockbacks are used against enemy tanks in the front line to move them out of Guard range.

Typically, the anvil groups will always engage first, followed a few seconds later by the other groups. This way we can get damage spread going to further protect our less sturdy groups. Usually only a hammer group will ever wander off on its own to work the flanks. Sometimes I'll send a bomb to do that, but it's rare. A cannon group needs to be with an anvil group to protect it, but it can deal damage only worrying about Guard and Bellow/ID reducing their damage. Tanks in the front line should be punting enemy tanks away to handle Guard anyway.

We'll talk how this works in practice next time using the new city as an example.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

ORvR is back.

We had some fun fights in Praag on Volkmar tonight.

That one was fun, especially considering we held out until the BO capped against at least 3 times our numbers.

There was also a keep defense at the Southern Garrison where it was something like 379-463 kills, 89 Order to at least 97 Destro (closer to 120 I bet). I didn't get that screenshot though. That fight lasted well over an hour. That was the most fun I've had in while in WAR. I hope there's more to come.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Team Play - The 3T Group - The 3T Bomb

In the last part, I introduced a very important concept. Grouping players within a party together into teams simplifies communication and helps define roles easily. This will be important before I introduce warband tactics.

Just an an example, I'll go over how you'd use the 3T group as a pseudo-bomb group. It's still technically an anvil group.

For the split assist group, I split the group into two teams. The teams themselves won't change, but their names will because the tactics are different.

Team 1, Bomb Team: 2 suicide tanks, AoE DD, Healer
Team 2, Focus Team: DPS Tank, DPS or DPS Healer

The idea is the same as the PK Bomb Group. The bomb team applies pressure using AoE damage and the focus team mops up.

It's risky, and I wouldn't do it. But the point was to show that you can. I also wanted to reinforce the idea of taking focus off individual players and grouping them as teams.

There's really only two viable strategies for scenario play when you only get to control one group of the two. Those are the bomb group and the assist train. There's tons of variations on these ideas. I've only gone over a few non-traditional ones. The other group types that I use require at least a second group in order to be viable.

So next time, we'll get into what dwarven weaponry and warbands have in common.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Team Play - The 3T Group - The Split Assist

This is a spin on the typical melee assist train group. Here's the template of the 3T Group again.

Suicide tank
Suicide tank
DPS tank
DPS Healer or another DPS

For the split assist, you are going to be in two teams.

Team 1: 2 suicide tanks, DPS, healer
Team 2: DPS tank and the DPS Healer or second DPS

Team 1's job to deal with the front line. Team 2's job is to push the back line and tie up the enemy healers or stay on the front line and simply hit a different target than Team 1.

The idea is that you want to force the single target healing of the enemy onto one target while the other team kills another target. Most POGs use a group healer (usually DoK/WP) and a single target healer (usually AM/RP/Shaman/Zealot). The PK bomb group sought to neutralize single target healing with AoE pressure damage by contrast.

The 3T split assist is more efficient than the PK bomb group, but it is more difficult to execute. You now become subject to damage spread where that was not an issue for you in the PK bomb group. You want to hit everyone you can in the PK bomb group. That's not the case here.

In order to beat this group, you need to first realize that you are getting the 3T split assist done to you. Team 2 often works the flanks, so if that's what they are doing, you can CC Team 1 and take out Team 2 quickly. Also realize that the non-tanks are all guarded by tanks. Tanks that are likely to be running Focused Offense. You have to neutralize the tanks to beat this group. That's one reason this group is so effective. People have ingrained in their heads not to beat on tanks when that's exactly what you have to do to beat this group.

Also realize that this group only has one real healer. That healer is well protected, but you can completely stop their healing with a single stagger or silence. You'll still have to deal with 3 tanks reducing your outgoing damage a lot, but at least they won't be getting heals for a little while.

Next time, I'll go over another way to play the 3T group. It's a bit more risky, but it kills stuff fast.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Team Play - Group Composition - Tarelther's Triple Tank Threat

I just call it the 3T group for short. Here's the template.

Suicide tank
Suicide tank
DPS tank
DPS Healer or another DPS

I once ran this group for 8 hours straight in scenarios and never lost once. (The reason we were running the scenarios was to get a Royal Crest for someone in the group. It never dropped.) The version was with the 2 DPS and Healer rather than DPS/DPS Healer/Healer. So obviously, our healer was often jumped on quickly by the enemy and we had to keep him up at all costs.

When you are using the DPS Healer, he is responsible for rezs so the main healer can continue healing the group. If the either healer drops, the other healer will have to get him back up quickly, so one tank uses morale to cover the group until the healer is back up.

The reason I prefer the DPS Healer to the second DPS in this group is the extra rez and the element of confusion this presents to the enemy. With only one healer, it's easy to pick out the key to the group. With two, it takes longer for the enemy to figure it out.

The basic idea of the group to use tanks to make one healer do the job of three. With three guards and challenges, there's no reason the DPS and healers should get hit for full damage ever. The tanks will rotate and call challenges to prevent overlap. I like to have 2 tanks go full out DPS including Focused Offense, the 2 suicide tanks, and have the last in a regular DPS kit without FO, the DPS tank. Ideally, you'll use one of each tank. A challenged target hitting someone guarded only does 35% of his normal damage to that target, so that's one healer doing the job of three because of all the tanks.

No shields allowed. You lack DPS in this group, so everyone has to contribute to damage to make up the difference. This group can be played multiple ways, so next time, I'll go over different ways to play this group makeup.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Team Play - The PK Bomb Group - Positioning and Weaknesses

In part 3, I covered the use of the melee focus. This time, I'll go over ideal positioning of this group and it's weaknesses.

The bombers are the sword and shield of the group. They apply pressure damage to the enemy group. This pressure damage also serves to discourage melee from closing in on the group.

Everyone needs to stay within the PBAoE that the bombers are generating if possible. This allows the melee focus to easily hit and kill anyone foolish enough to try to close in melee with the help of the AoE damage. This also prevents Witch Elves from using stealth on someone. You also gain the benefit of damage spread. Damage spread is caused by the difficulty of picking out one target from a mass of players. Typically, you will prevent a focus fire on a key target with damage spread. This only negatively affects the melee focus in this group. Players by nature will hit the target nearest to them until they notice another target. This will buy you at least 2 seconds just from a typical person's reaction time plus whatever time you get from the difficulty of targeting.

Proper use of CC is the group's major weakness. The group will need to pay attention to any incoming staggers from a Chosen and either hit Resolute Defenses or spread out in a calculated manner to avoid it. If a Chosen hits both healers with a stagger, you're screwed. A zealot spec'd for the single target stagger or a Sorc or Magus with the morale 3 stagger on a healer in the back will also end up being bad for this group.
For this reason, healers should not be standing on top of each other. They should be on opposing flanks if at all possible. Ideally, they want to stagger the healers and silence/disarm/knockdown a DPS.

The PK bomb group is easy to defeat, but played properly, you will give your enemy precious little time to execute. Hesitate and you will be lost. Play fast, push hard, and be smart.

Next time, I'll talk about Tarelther's 3T group. It's unusual, but effective.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tarelther's Take on the Quest for the Holy Spec

Warning! This post is not for the feint of heart. If you are easily offended, you may wish to leave this site now and not come back.

I've seen a lot of questions on the official forums recently asking for the "best spec" to use. Said questions typically will not give the activity taking place, numbers on both sides, group composition of at least his own side, or anything else that could be remotely useful for tweaking a spec to work properly. (If the person provided this information, I could very easily and quickly pull a spec off this blog and help him out.) This person is looking for a one size fits all spec.

I hope those of you who can't handle it have already gone away.

Lazy bastards. And they wonder why they get rolled? They won't build a group ahead of time. (I know this because they don't give a group makeup.) Even if they do, they won't modify their spec to accommodate their group. Heck, they're typically not even in a guild. (Gee, I wonder why they're not in a guild.) They aren't willing to get sufficient understanding of their own class to understand how their abilities work with other abilities of their group members. They just want "the answer" given to them.

The person asking the question intuitively knows that there isn't one spec that works for everything. It's common sense. The question is usually an attempt for a person to justify their own laziness. I tell those people to read my SM and group utility series hoping the light bulb turns on. I get responses like that's interesting but I can't decide whether I want to do X or Y.

I'm sorry, honey. There's not one perfect spec for everything. Your response tells me you acknowledge I'm right, but you are not willing to put forth the effort required to play this game at a high level. You have to engage your brain and work with other people in order to win at this game. You can't just say "This is what I'm doing and I don't care what the rest of you do" and expect to beat someone who is willing to change spec and play style to accommodate their group makeup.

WAR is a game that HEAVILY favors teamwork and organization. The developers themselves have said this. It is intended that a smaller, well organized group can defeat a larger, less organized group. I've been in battles outnumbered 4 to 1 recently and won just because my group was better organized than the enemy groups. You can't do stuff like that with the mindset that's looking for the lazy way out. I find winning a whole lot more fun that losing, but that might just be me.

I used to be the clueless idiot like that. Then I met some people who worked with me and showed me this truth and some stuff on how to improve. I took their advice and implemented it. (What a concept! Asking for advice and using it!) It worked. I got addicted to this whole actually winning thing. So I started experimenting with other things. I am now the Master Tactician for the Player Killers Alliance on Volkmar. I write the playbook on group composition, group specs, warband composition, and basic play style. I try to make the strategy the Master Strategist comes up with work in practice. This blog is basically the written out version of that playbook with an obvious slant towards the SM.

I'm not concerned about someone else finding it and using it against me. Most people who read this will never take any action on it. Heck, someone using this stuff against me will allow me to further analyze and improve it. So go ahead. Use the stuff here against me. I don't care. I welcome the challenge.

Bring it Volkmar Destro.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Team Play - The PK Bomb Group - The Melee Focus

In part 2, I covered the main tank's role in the PK bomb group. His job is to protect his group from incoming damage and increase the outgoing damage of the DPS in the group.

In part 3, I'm going to cover what I consider the key to this group working. This person's skill will make or break the group. He is the melee focus. He finishes the job, spiking down targets that the bombers have been softening up.

When the melee focus is going in for the kill, the target has already been taking a good amount of damage and has a few DoTs ticking on him from our bombers. He just gives the extra push to knock them over. The ideal candidate for this job has very high front loaded damage. He doesn't have to wait for a mechanic to build up to be 100% effective. You can take a DPS spec tank or an actual melee DPS for this role. The DPS spec tank won't do as much damage as the melee DPS, but the trade-off is the second guard and challenge for the group.

That leaves 2 classes standing in front of the rest, the White Lion (for the more aggressive group) and the Swordmaster (for the more defensive group). That isn't to say a Witch Hunter, Slayer, or Ironbreaker can't do the job. I'll take a good Witch Hunter, Slayer, or Ironbreaker over an average White Lion or Swordmaster for this role, but given equal skill, I'm taking the White Lion or Swordmaster first. The other 3 classes have to build up a mechanic to be 100% and the melee focus is just going in for quick kills.

The SM's burst tool is Ether Dance. The nice thing about Ether Dance is it's base damage is extremely high, on the level of a melee DPS's on each hit. It only gets half stat contribution, so it's damage is largely dependent on your weapon DPS. With 950 strength, 220 melee power, and a 79.8 DPS weapon, I've hit a taunted target for 1200 crits on Ether Dance. That would be almost 1500 with a royal insignia 101.5 DPS weapon. Without any crits, that's still 800 damage x 5 ticks for 4000 damage in 3 seconds. That's my suicide spec with a Knight around to buff and debuff for me though. I just wanted to show the potential damage without having to wait for a long build time. Granted, any true melee DPS class will do more damage, but the reason to take the SM over a melee DPS is for extra defensive abilities he brings the group.

I was the melee focus for this group. The BWs still got most of the damage, but I still put out respectable damage given all the AoE they were throwing around.

The White Lion is preferred since he has his damage mainly front loaded. His big hitting abilities are on a 5s or 10s recast instead of relying on a mechanic to build up. The White Lion is especially recommended if the main tank is a SM. The tactic the White Lion will want is Lionheart. It changes Lion's Fury by removing the Curse requirement, dropping it's AP cost to 20 instead of 35, and doubling it's base damage. Lion's Fury has a 5s recast and does spirit damage. So when the SM is using Heaven's Blade, Wrath of Hoeth, and Whispering Wind in group with a White Lion using Lionheart, the results are quite pleasing. I've had that ability critical for 2.1k before playing as a RR33 White Lion. Imagine spamming that for 20 AP a hit. I can only imagine what a high renown White Lion can do under those circumstances.

This small change to what most players consider to be the traditional bomb group makes it deadly. You've seen the groups that use staggers to take out the healers then assist train the front line down. This minor change to the bomb group uses bombers to cause the effect of neutralizing the healers much like a stagger would while still applying damage to help the melee focus kill targets much like an assist train does. It's the same proven, winning strategy as the stagger, assist train using different tools. Without the melee focus, it's just not the same. Try it out. I think you'll like the results.