Friday, March 26, 2010

Ding RR80

After a very long time playing and killing and partaking in other activities worth renown, my SM has reached RR80.

Never mind the location of the picture. You do it too. Admit it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taking out the mental garbage.

Sometimes dealing with stuff in game gets frustrating. It can be repeatedly wiping to same premade, zerg or PvE boss for hours straight. It can be another person in your group. It can be something in real life interrupting. Performance can tend to drop after the first few attempts. If this occurs, the issue is mental garbage. Here's a way to fix it.

1. Wipe the slate clean. The past is history. The future is a mystery. There is only the present. The only place is here. The only time is now. There is only the moment. Acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself for them, and go on. Deal with your emotions in the moment before they consume you.

2. Think about nothing. If you are thinking about other things, you cannot focus on what you are doing. If you don't believe me, just go outside and think about nothing. Notice the extra sounds you hear that you didn't when your mind was cluttered. Notice the subtle breeze you feel that you didn't when you were distracted by life's other things. Notice the pace of your breath that you normally ignore when thinking about other things.

3. Get your breathing under control. You should quickly notice your breathing when you have cleared your mind of other things. If it is faster than it is when you are completely calm, intentionally focus first on slowing down your breathing. Once you have slowed your breathing back down to your calm state, again clear your mind and think of nothing.

4. Know that it's ok to not win every time. If you have given everything you have with your full attention in a calm state, and you cannot win, let it go. Accept the loss, don't make excuses, and go on. It was something outside yourself that caused it. You cannot give any more than your best with full attention and full calm.

In the end, this is just a game. It's supposed to be fun. Don't let one thing you can't control ruin that fun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Swordmaster and group utility part 2

To continue the discussion, once you've decided whether or not you should take Whispering Winds, you fill out the rest of your build according to the strategy you intend to employ and what holes there are in the group.

Let's say the group is IB, SM, SL, WH, RP, AM. Clearly you would not take WW in this group because it doesn't really help everyone else out much. Also, you don't need to take Lingering Intimidation because the IB and SL have crit debuffs core. You also don't need Sapping Strike because the AM and WH have better AP drains than you do. The IB likely has a 4s knockdown and the WH has a 3s silence, so you don't need Crashing Wave either. In this group, you likely going to guard the WH and ride the assist train. You'd likely be rocking the DPS. Get Ether Dance, Great Weapon Mastery, and Balanced Accuracy and go to town.

If the group is SM, WL, BW, SW, WP, RP, you play a very different role. You would definitely take WW here. There is no crit debuff in the group, so you probably want Lingering Intimidation. There's no AP drain, so you probably want Sapping Strike. (Note you can't get WW, LI and SS until RR 60.) You have 5 silences in the group and a heal debuff, so you are good on CC, CW is likely a waste. (I've NEVER seen a SW without Shadow Sting.) You will not have time to DPS because you'll have to focus on rotating guards, timing challenge and WW.

You never want to be comfortable in just one build as a SM. I used to play FFXI, so I'm going use to the famous answer to every single question about gear and tactics in that game. Waffle is situational.

You always want to be thinking about what other classes have core that you'd need to spec into. If another class in your group can cover something core, it's better for you to spend the mastery points elsewhere.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Swordmaster and group utility

The Swordmaster is an odd tank, and requires a group to be spec'd to take advantage of what he can offer to play at it's best. It has great synergy with some classes.

The Swordmaster has excellent synergy with the White Lion, Shadow Warrior and Bright Wizard for DPS classes and the Warrior Priest and Archmage (more for the dps AM than healing AM) healer classes. The Swordmaster is not as well suited to supporting Engineers, Slayers, Witch Hunters, and Rune Priests. The best tank support for the Swordmaster is either another Swordmaster or a Knight. Swordmaster and Ironbreaker together is not as effective.

The definitive group support ability for the Swordmaster is called Whispering Winds. This ability has two effects. First, it's a 4 second silence, which is useful in and of itself. The second effect reduces the cool down timer on abilities by 5 seconds. The biggest decision about how the Swordmaster should spec depends upon which group of classes he is with.

If grouping with mainly WL, SW, BW, AM, and WPs, the SM should take WW. If he is not grouping with mainly those classes, he should not. The SM if using WW should announce it in vent once the proper target has been called. Usually, the SM will silence a healer while the group kills a different target.

A White Lion working with a Swordmaster should have Lionheart slotted. While WW is up, Lion's Fury is a 20 AP, spam-able, spirit damage attack that hits extremely hard. It normally has a 5 second cool down. Not only that, a Swordmaster can typical drop anyone's spirit resistance to zero by himself. WW also makes Blindside zero cool down, and makes Cull the Weak, Thin the Herd, Coordinated Strike, Fey Illusion and Pack Assault only a 5s cool down.

The Shadow Warrior synergy with the Swordmaster comes from the tactic Leading Shots and the ability Blurring Shock. Blurring Shock adds extra damage when a target is hit with a critical hit. Leading Shots makes more crits happen. Also, like the White Lion, they have a lot of very strong abilities on 5-10s cool downs. Festering Arrow is the classic example. A SW could get 3-4 Festering Arrows off during Unshakable Focus. Brutal Assault is another one, especially with the ignore armor tactic for it slotted. Rapid Fire could be kept up for 12s. Usually the SM would place BS on a target one balance cycle before hitting WW to make sure it dies when playing with a SW.

The Bright Wizard has a lot of fun while WW is up. Sear becomes zero cool down. Nova becomes a 5s cool down. Fireball, Sear, Nova, Fireball, Sear, Nova becomes possible. Withering Heat becomes 6s cast with 6s recast, meaning is can be kept up for 18s. So a BW could pre-dot a target then just focus WH on it once the WW fires. Or in a big clump of targets, Annihilate could be kept up for 12 seconds straight. Or notice how most of the AoE dots BW has happen to be 5 seconds shorter than their recast.

The Warrior Priest gains the ability to spam Smite under WW. Unlimited RF ftw! Divine Assault becomes 3s channel, 3s recast. That's a lot of single target healing. Or imagine Hammer of Sigmar on a 5s recast. Castigation has no recast under WW. Neither does Sigmar's Fist nor Sigmar's Vision for you WP buff bots.

The Archmage gets even more ridiculous with AP draining able to keep up two Drain Magics during the 10s WW is up. Also, like Withering Heat, they have a channeled spell called Searing Touch, which is spirit damage. Also, more Transfer Forces can be kept up with 5s recast. Personally, I like the synergy is better with the WP.

Also, all healers can use their cleanse ability with no recast. Abilities that remove enchantments and blessings also have no recast under WW.

When playing with a second Swordmaster, the two will alternate WW, although this usually requires some form of extra AP generation or it's not very sustainable.

The Swordmaster is a powerful class, if you work with it. You can't just throw one in a random group and expect miracles. But with the right players and classes around it, the SM is extremely deadly.

On the coordination of CC.

This is major difference between the good premades and ok ones.

It's actually pretty simple to kill someone in this game. DPS > HPS = person dead. As most learned in 6v6 scenario the Ironclad, you can't just focus fire someone and kill them if the opposing team is at all decent.

In order to kill someone you need to stop the opposing teams healing and mitigation. For example, silencing a healer gives you 4 seconds to kill someone. Knock backs are best used to negate the effect of guard, separate a player from the tank guarding them.

One thing you will often hear in a good premade is one player silencing one healer while a second silences another. (Knockdown or stagger works here too, but I have a silence as a SM, so I use that). In a typical scenario, you've dropped the effective healing output of the opposite team in half which should give you enough time to drop any DPS. The healers will then try to rez which stops healing for another 3 seconds (4.5s if you disorient the healer). Focused Mind is good for getting rid of the silence to save a wipe. Usually the team that gets the first kill is going to win the engagement.

Brute force does not win at the highest levels of the game. Timing and finesse do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Defense should matter

When WAR first launched, we played musical keeps. Now we play musical city sieges. There needs to be a balance between rewarding attack and rewarding defense. I see giant imbalance right now though, and fixing it I believe would correct the issue of not many bothering to defend.

As of right now, defending a keep does not award RvR Insignia, only taking a keep does. Also the Emblems only come from Scenarios. I would suggest treating a keep siege like a scenario. 1 Fused Insignia and 1 Emblem for winning + 1 more Emblem per star of the keep. This should be awarded on the PQ loot roll if you have enough contribution to roll whether you are at the keep at the time or not. I know many will come help attack to get the extra Insignia, but few will defend because it is not awarded on defense. Bug maybe? or intended?

Volkmar is doing another Open RvR night Saturday. I don't not feel we should have to schedule these in order to get some open field action though. People always follow the path of least resistance. People will only defend if they feel it is worth their time.

I have another idea to encourage keep defense that also happens to make MDPS more useful, but I stole it from Aion. Shhh, don't tell the fanboys. More details later.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scenario currency and it's affect on the game.

Saturday night on Warhammer Online was some of the most fun I've had in awhile. Order and Destro just decided to take it to the lakes and have an all-out brawl. Scenariohammer gets a little old after a while, and it was quite refreshing to actually have a keep attack and defense. (Note to self: start running fraps again.) I don't think I've seen one of those in months.I think it's mainly due to the new shiny things being in the game and the affect of the Underdog system.

Personally, I do not think Underdog is needed any more now that the scenario VP bug has been fixed. It's turned open RvR into one side zerging to the city, followed by the other side. People don't defend any more. People queue for scenarios, wait until the side whose turn it is to zerg to the city gets there, log off for an hour, and then come back and queue for more scenarios. It's like the game of musical keeps that happened when the game launched, only worse. Honestly, that's the path of most reward in the game at the moment, so that's what people do.

Props to Mekic and Zapron for scheduling the open RvR night on Saturday. But we shouldn't have to schedule it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A little respect never hurt anyone

I admit it. I am a Final Fantasy junkie. Yes, I did go to see Dear Friends in concert when it was traveling. Yes I did play Final Fantasy XI for several years. I was Tovaud on Phoenix. I played with several Japanese players. Players from a culture that commanded the utmost respect between people. I have a few things that will quickly earn a place on my ignore list, mainly because doing these things got you ignored in FFXI.

1. Never send another player an invite to a group or warband without first sending a /tell or otherwise communicating with him or her first. This is considered rude because a player could in communication to join another group when the invite is sent. This will cause the player to mistakenly join the wrong group and thereby waste several people's time because he will then have to leave your group and request another invite from the correct party.

In WAR, I extend this to do not join an open party without having some kind of communication going on first. The party or warband could be looking for a a specific person or class and you will make it difficult for that person to join the proper group if you are not in communication beforehand. Obviously, if you see something in /t4 saying the effect of "Hey, join my warband! All welcome!" that would be considered the proper communication. Just don't join a random group before some kind of communication has taken place.

2. If you are going to leave a group, be afk or otherwise not be actively playing, please inform the group ahead of time. This avoids the whole everyone taking a scenario and wondering where the second healer/tank/dps is. I have a VERY low tolerance for this. I understand sometimes having emergencies come up. That's fine on occasion. But if you aren't able to actively play in the group, please say so and leave so the group can get someone else. Yeah, it's your 15 bucks. But it's their 75 bucks, or their 345 bucks if talking about a warband.

3. One person leads. Everyone else follows. There should not be conflicting orders given in the party or warband. The word of the party or warband leader is final. If you don't like it, keep it to yourself and bring it up afterwards, or leave. Even you think the leader is wrong, you do what he or she says out of respect for the leader.

4. Assume everyone knows what they are doing. This does apply to following the leader of a group or warband, but I separated this more for leaders of groups. I know what a lot of you are thinking, especially those in Strength in Numbers on Volkmar. What the crap is this guy doing lecturing on respect? Has he listened to himself leading a warband on vent? Follow me for a second here. I presume the all players in my group are capable of playing at the highest level of performance. I presume, even if it not correct, that you can play with the best. This is why you hear Dekar, Gov and me being tough when leading and things are not going correctly. We all assume upfront, that we have A team players in our group. So we treat you like you are A team players. If we were to go easy when there is bad play, we would appear that we accept it as the best you have. It's not respectful to you to treat you like a lower class player by accepting it. If we can make you believe you are a top tier player, you are 90% of the way to being one. Don't worry about winning or losing. If you follow instructions and you lose, that's the leader's fault and the leader should take responsibility should a loss occur when instructions were followed.

5. Set expectations upfront. If you only have a limited time to play, let the group know upfront. Obviously this goes for leading as well. Let the group know how you do things upfront if the group does not already know.

These 5 things go a long way towards building goodwill towards other players.