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.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Team Play - The PK Bomb Group - The Main Tank

In part 1, I gave the template for the PK bomb group. Here it is again.

Main Tank
Melee Focus
AoE DD 1
AoE DD 2

In this part, I'll go into the Main Tank's role.

The Main Tank has a couple roles in the PK bomb group. First and foremost, his job is to help keep the group alive through use of Guard, Challenge, and other tools. Go listen to my Low level SM guide for more information on that. Secondly, he weakens his enemies, making them more vulnerable to the group's attacks. Any of the 3 tanks can perform this role, depending on the DPS makeup. I will go over the Knight and SM roles for Main Tank. I do not have an Ironbreaker, so I will not comment on that class.

The first consideration for the SM in being Main Tank for this group is Whispering Wind. Which class of DPS do you have with you? Do you have DPS that is helped by WW or do you not? Consideration number two is what kind of damage are you dealing primarily? Are you dealing magical or physical damage? (Yes, you can do the PK bomb group with melee, although you'd typically use a ranged focus instead of a melee focus, but that will be covered in a later post.) Assuming you are using 2 BWs, BW and Engineer, or BW and SW, you have at least one DPS helped by WW and you are primarily doing magical damage. You will want WW and you will be using Heaven's Blade to reduce enemy resists. If the SM is not yet RR60, he will not be able to get both WW and Ether Dance, so he'd likely want to put on a shield and play support with debuffs. See the SM and group utility part 3 for different specs to use in this role. If the SM is RR60+, he still needs to consider that he's probably going to be taking massive guard damage in this group. I would not look down at a fellow SM who chooses to wear a shield in this case.

The Knight has a couple different options here as well. The classic commands used are Press the Attack! w/ Encouraged Aim, To Glory!, and Gather Your Resolve! If you are using magical damage and you are not capable of doing enough damage to kill someone quickly (very few Knights are, mine is not), I recommend taking a different approach. The approach I take is to use Stand Strong!, Gather Your Resolve!, and Now's Our Chance! I also take and slot Dirty Tricks.

Strength doesn't help your ranged DPS bombers do more damage. Press the Attack! would only decrease damage taken in melee and give the 10% critical chance w/ Encouraged Aim. Stand Strong! decreases damage taken from all sources as well as increases the damage enemies take from all sources. It does not have the critical bonus, but that can be made up for by using Dirty Tricks. Gather Your Resolve! obviously further improves magical damage done by the group. The reason behind using Now's Our Chance! goes back to the basic strategy of the PK bomb group. Force the enemy to rely solely on group heals with our bombers then use single target burst to pick off the enemy one by one. Now's Our Chance! furthers this by reducing the effectiveness of the enemy group heals making it even easier to pick off the enemy one by one. If the enemy healers are really bad or the enemy is short of healing, it might drop the group heals enough that just the bombing can overcome the enemy group.

Next time, I'll go over the melee focus and why it's the key to this group working properly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Team Play - Group Composition - The PK Bomb Group

When you picture a bomb group, what's the first thing that comes to mind? 1 or 2 BWs guarded by 2 or 3 S/B tanks with a healer or 2? That's a recipe for a disaster against a competent POG.

Why you ask?

AoE damage by itself is easily group healed through. We've all seen the screenshots on the forums of healers getting 500k, 750k or even 1 million healing in a scenario. The reason that happens is because those healers were facing a poorly put together bomb group.

So how do we fix the problem? We shift our mindset slightly. AoE damage negates group healing and forces the enemy healers to use group heals primarily or lose their entire group. With AoE damage locking down the enemy healers, if another player with high single target damage goes after someone, the target should drop quickly since any healing being received is being negated by our bombers.

So, in Player Killers, my alliance on Volkmar, we add what we call a melee focus. The melee focus determines the kill order, so he would be the caller of the group. The melee focus will not be the highest damage dealer of the group, but he will be the one causing the kills. He is built for single target burst damage.

I ran one last night. This was the group.

Knight (Press the Attack! w/ Encouraged Aim, To Glory!, and Gather Your Resolve!)
2 BWs
SM (me)

I can hear it now. I thought you said 2 tanks, 2 BWs, and 2 healers was a fail bomb group. Well, it can be. Again, change the mindset here. The SM can put out sufficient damage, especially with the Knight around, to be the melee focus. The SM can also provide a second guard for the other BW and another Challenge. The spec used would be taking Whispering Wind, Ether Dance, and Great Weapon Mastery. Whispering Wind is taken because the DPS classes benefit from it. (Double Annihilate spam anyone?) I do NOT take Balanced Accuracy because the Knight is providing the critical bonus for me. I run Nature's Blade since the Knight is covering the resist needs. To be fair, the SM needs to be at least RR60 to use this build, RR70+ being ideal.

So here's the basic template for the PK Bomb Group.

Main Tank
Melee Focus
AoE DD 1
AoE DD 2

The SM can play either the Main Tank or Melee Focus role, depending on group make up and spec. The sub-RR60 SM cannot take both WW and ED, so I would recommend taking WW if playing Main Tank and ED if playing Melee Focus.

In my next post, I'll go into a much more detailed look how to fine-tune the PK bomb group.