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 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.