Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 Tenets of PvP Tanking

I originally posted this on the SW:TOR boards here. Given the positive reception, I'll post it here too.

1. You shall initiate the fight when appropriate.

As the tank you are the most likely of your team to absorb the initial focus of the enemy team and live, so it's your job to pick the fights. You will go in first and start messing with people for a couple seconds before your team engages. The idea is that the enemy starts with focus on you and forces the enemy to interrupt a damage rotation and take a second to switch targets to start hitting your big DPS character. The seconds you buy from this can make the difference between winning and losing the fight.

2. Defense before offense.

Your primary responsibility as a tank is to keep your DPS alive so they can kill the opponent. Adding assist damage to your DPS's target, while very important, is secondary to your other functions such as Taunt, Guard, and various CC and damage debuffs. Your DPS can do no damage dead.

3. You must be a threat.

You don't necessary need to make an enemy go, "He's gonna kill me, get him off." It helps if you can do that while still being able to initiate, but you just have to be enough of a pain in the rear to the enemy to make them deal with you. It can be with CC frustrating the enemy to the point of focusing you just so they feel like they can act. It can be making the enemy's primary healer or DPS useless by debuffing them. One of my favorite things to do to a sorceress in WAR was to start by dropping her damage to 70% of normal, cutting down her crit chance and draining her morale, then disorienting her to make all her casts take 50% longer, followed by a snare, a silence, then draining her AP and morale further. It usually got me some attention.

4. Take advantage of player psychology.

This really applies to everyone, but the PvP tank can do this in ways no one else can. In WAR, I always carried 2 full sets of gear and had a few preset combinations of them I could switch to with the push of a button ranging from balls to the wall offense to a couple balanced sets to full turtle tank. One thing I would often do is try to project an image of being one end of the spectrum and then switch to the other. If I wanted to be a full tank for example, I'd rush in, lay some heavy damage on a enemy, get focused, die, respawn or get a rez, switch gear to full defensive gear, and then go in like that for the rest of the fight. It also works the other way too if I want to DPS. This is similar to a poker player presenting a table image then switching to another play style hoping his opponents don't notice.

Of course, you want to communicate something like this to your team ahead of time if you can. Going in first as a DPS to give an early, easy kill can also make the enemy overconfident, and you definitely want to take advantage of that if you notice by luring the enemy into traps.

5. The life of your DPS is more important than yours. (But not by a whole lot)

You should be willing to sacrifice yourself to save the life of your DPS. Your DPS should NEVER die before you do. Obviously, this does not always happen, but it's the mindset to have. If your DPS is going down before you consistently (and it's not his fault for being stupid), you need to make yourself more of a threat by shifting some of your survivability for damage. This works the other way as well. If you die well before your DPS consistently (and it's not your fault for being stupid), you need to trade damage for survivability. Ideally when your DPS dies, you should have been killed seconds earlier or be about to go down shortly after the DPS dies. In this way, you'll have a perfect balance of threat to survivability. This is presuming the DPS player is competent of course. If your DPS teammate couldn't DPS his way out of a wet paper bag, he's not worth your life.

Guard damage should be one of the major causes of your death when it happens. Yes, you can take more damage than most, but that's because you have to be able to do so. You intentionally redirect some of the incoming damage from a teammate onto yourself. You are able to defend and mitigate this damage. You should be able handle this damage without being a major drain on the healing resources which are better conserved to keep your DPS alive.

6. If your DPS is wrong, you should be wrong with him.

This is related to number 5. This means if the DPS you are protecting has run off by himself to do something, you need to be with him. Your DPS is useless dead, and a lot of your abilities to mitigate damage do not work on you, so you might as well be useful with your DPS being wrong, than useless being "right."

Taunt for example, unless it changed from the Eternity Vault video, reduces damage of the targeted enemy to everyone else except you for a time. You can't Guard yourself, not that it would do anything dividing the damage you take between you and you.

7. Tunnel vision will kill your team.

You need watch health bars like you were a healer so you can place Guard where it is needed. You need to watch the enemy so you can place your CC, buffs and debuffs effectively. You need to watch the positioning of your team since Guard only works within a short range. (See also number 6 for this.) You need to do all this on top off watching yourself, your ability rotation/priority, your health and resources, and your positioning. It can be very stressful, and sometimes impossible, to keep track of all this.

Sometimes in WAR my healers would tell me to potion because their resources are drained or focused on another player. They did this because they understood sometimes I can lose track of my own health trying to perform all my other duties. I rarely needed the reminder, but I appreciated it.

The PvP tank is a thankless job, much like the PvE tank, but it is very satisfying when played well.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

WAR Reboot - Affording the Necessities

So I haven't been leveling up my new character this week. I've been focused on another project. My 16/25 SM now has 200 Apothecary and 200 Cultivating. My alt is working on Butchering. I'm working on getting level 200 extenders, multipliers, stimulators, and stabilizers. The skill can be easily leveled, but leveling the plants takes some time or gold if the cultivating enhancers are used.

Some of the lower level potions sell, in particular the level 15 and 25 heal potions. I'm sure the 60 minute armor and stat potions do as well since I see them up all the time.

The potions make a huge difference in the lower Tiers. I didn't get it on fraps, (wish I did), but a level 11 witch elf jumped me while I was level 5 and I straight up owned her. She didn't come back. If you decide to make talismans instead, the potions are very worth it. Pop an absorb potion plus a regen potion plus a renown potion in Tier 1 and you can about double the amount of damage you can take once every 5 minutes. If you're fighting one on one, a molotov potion is a free dot you can use from range. If you have group chasing you, you can drop a snare potion to allow you to kite a little better. If someone is trying to cap an objective, a napalm or flame breath potion will stop that for awhile.

I like to have every advantage I can get, within the rules of course. Potions can give you that small edge. Try to have some on you at all times.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

WAR Reboot - On to Tier 2

One of the things I wanted to test is if Tier 1 or Tier 2 is more renown/xp. With one kill in Tier 2 at rank 12, I had my answer and it wasn't even close. Tier 2 is miles ahead in renown/time and renown/xp. Rank 12 is the soonest you can enter Tier 2 and be eligible for Bolster, zone captures, and AAO. I was defending the Altar of Khaine in the Blighted Isle. I killed a DoK on the objective and received 3000 experience and 300 renown. Later when defending the Ironclad in Barak Varr, I killed a Chosen for 1500 experience and 700 renown. Sure, it might be fun to totally dominate the lower Tier, but you don't learn anything like that and I find more enjoyment out of a challenge.

I actually ended up staying up until 2AM fighting in Tier 2. It was so much fun with fights actually happening that I lost track of time. My new character is now R12/RR20. I've bought a few talismans, but good lord, potions can be ridiculous to buy (or sell) at lower Tiers. I'm definitely going Apothecary/Cultivating with Butchering on the alt.

I don't feel underpowered in Tier 2 even though I'm the lowest level in the Tier. You can definitely tell the difference between a Rank 1 and Rank 15 in Tier 1, but it's not that bad Rank 12 versus Rank 26. It's likely because at Rank 10 you have all the basic tools you need to function. I would certainly be in favor of just giving players all their Rank 1-10 abilities at Rank 1. I understand the whole not wanting to overwhelm a new player with everything at once, but it's crippling in RvR. If one side has Rank 10+ tanks and the other doesn't, it's usually decided before the fight starts for example.

For those curious, I'm playing a Swordmaster on Badlands, also named Tarelther. Say hi if you see me there. But please, send a tell before inviting me to anything. I swear that people have forgotten common courtesy these days. Doing stuff like that in FFXI when I played it earned you an instant blacklist (/ignore) and I'm going to be adopting the same policy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WAR Reboot - Setup and Goals

So I've started up another character in Tier 1. I realized very, very quickly that everything that a low level character does to get money ends up getting experience as well. I want to be able to level up a character and maximize the renown I have when I hit R40. I'd like to be RR70 or better when I hit R40.

So to get money, I rolled an alt with the sole purpose of farming me up gold for my main to use. The character is a butcher since it's a good source of NPC cash. I really don't want to be fooling around with the AH in Tier 1. Maybe I'll get into it a little later, but I figure most players don't go into WAR looking to play the AH for riches any more.

I was able to luck into someone offering some gold for people willing to help form a guild, so that was an easy 16g for me. That should get me through Tier 1 easily. I won't have a lot of potions or the best talismans, but it'll be good enough for now. I also had someone give me some talismans because his inventory was overflowing. (You rock dude if you're reading this.)

I spent a lot of time working the Elf and Dwarf Tier 1 zones. You'd think it'd be dead, but there's a surprising number of people fighting out there. I find the smaller skirmishes a lot more enjoyable (and rewarding) than the ZvZ (zerg vs zerg) in Nordland.

I'm doing ok so far in my goal being R9/RR16. It kills me that I can't really do scenarios, or I'll level out of the Tier way too fast. Hopefully the xp reduction for scenarios in 1.4.4 will allow me to hit T4 with a non-crap weapon and the RR I want. I'll be able to figure that out quickly enough once I do a couple.

This process would be a lot different if I were using a trial account instead of my main account, and I may just try that a little bit. I don't want to end up with too much rested xp though. The xp cap for Tier 1 would actually be helpful if you can get RR20 under the trial. Please leave a comment if I'm wrong about that so I can fix it.

Next time, I'll post the plan I've been using so long as it's still successful. And I'll also include a plan for trial players about how to use the xp cap to their advantage as long as you can actually get RR20 on trial.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Reboot

I came upon a disturbing trend when playing some scenarios in WAR yesterday.

Half the scenario gave up after half a skirmish in Black Fire Basin. So I asked why.

They said they were outgeared and outleveled badly which is why they can't win. Well, of course you can't win if you give up and refuse to try to adapt to the situation. Sitting in the spawn also doesn't fix the renown gap.

When confronted with sitting in the spawn doesn't fix the renown gap, I was told that it's Mythic's job to fix the problem. Last I checked, it's not the developer's job to level your character.

So I decided I would do something about it. I wanted to see for myself if it was true.

So I created a brand new character on another server with no connections, no leveled toons, no nothing. I wanted to experience the game from the experience of a brand new player.

I want to see for myself if the gear/renown gap is now just an excuse, or if the gap was not closed enough in 1.4.2. I stop playing because the gap was way out of control and work was picking up. Well, I'm back now and ready to go at it again.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wrath of Heroes: Beta

Everyone loves a three way.

Now that I have your attention, I'd like to talk to you about life insurance.

Just kidding.

This is about Wrath of Heroes, the new 6v6v6 pure PvP F2P game from Bioware/Mythic.

I can't say too much about it other than what already has been publicly released due to NDA. (Sorry all.)

I do want to talk about the concept of 3 teams being in the battle instead of 2 and how it introduces many more variables to the game.

For example, you are always outnumbered 2 to 1. Sure you might get some temporary help from an enemy team, but in the end, you have to beat everyone else.

Another thing is that since one team wins and two lose, you can't expect to win most of the time. A good team might end up winning about 35-40% of the time. It might take the sting out of losing or it might discourage players. Only time will tell I guess.

If this goes to the e-sports scene, we'll have to get used to weird things like having a round of 81. Winning a best of 7 means you can win with 3 games won, not 4. That would likely end up being scored first to 3 instead of best of 7 though. You could end up having a team in the tournament with no real chance to win, but can end up playing kingmaker by helping a team they like more to win overall. For example, in game 5 of a first to 3 with 2 teams 2-2 and one team 0-4, it's highly likely the 0-4 team will end up determining the winner by deciding who to double team.

Everyone loves a three way. Except maybe the guy who has to draw up new tournament brackets to support 3 competitors at a time in a match.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Evening in the Black Garden

I played Rift during it's Head Start. No I didn't make 50. I'm no power gamer. I never will be. I did do a number of warfronts. Sadly, that's not really a viable way to level quickly at all. Solo questing combined with rifts and zone events as they come up is the winning combination for that. While leveling, PvP is source of some blue gear every 6-10 levels.

The PvP is quite fun though. I'm playing my Warrior as DPS using Champion, Paragon and Vindicator as my souls. If you've played an Arms Warrior in WoW, it will feel somewhat familiar. I got video of it. Enjoy! The music is from the soundtrack to Braveheart. It's shot in 1080p, so it's best if you head over to YouTube to see it.

It's well done, but it lacks WAR's depth imo until players start reaching higher prestige ranks. I like it though and it's fun. In the end, that's all that really matters.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2h Tanks and Guard - Another Possible Solution

I had this crazy idea come to me reading one of the recent threads on removing Guard from 2h tanks, playing RIFT beta for a little bit, and thinking about how awesome it is to actually have weekends off from work.

RIFT has Guard in it's game, but it functions differently from WAR. It's a 15s buff with a 30s cool down that redirects 25% of damage taken by an ally to the Warrior. This can be increased to 50% by spending 10 soul points in the Vindicator PvP soul. This prevents you from buying the better DPS abilities in the soul since that soul has a 21 point cap on it. One of the 15 point abilities caught my eye, the Art of Defense. This allows a player to block without a shield.

In real life, I work for an insurance company. In a lot of insurance policies, there are several restrictions placed on coverage. Oftentimes, these restrictions can removed from the policy for an additional premium payment.

So I propose a similar solution. Guard requires a shield to use. A tank may purchase the ability to use Guard without a shield with renown points. I would place this ability on ranks 4 and/or 5 of Hardy Concession. The 10% or 15% damage cut and the cost of 20 or 34 renown points would make it unlikely that the 2h tank would be able to put out anything remotely close to DPS classes, so it should be fine to let the tank use Guard. The main complaint was 2h tanks being able to output too much DPS while having the most powerful damage mitigation ability in the game. This handles the complaint while not degrading the psychological game the tank plays to get players to attack him instead of him teammates.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back Line Defense

Lately I've been assigned the role of protecting the back line of the party while another tank handles the front line players. I find the SM is quite adept at this role, especially in offensive sovereign gear. The SM is especially capable of frustrating melee trains to no end.

The SM has a few tools to help him keep the enemy melee line from reaching his friendly back line. First, the SM has access to a zero cooldown snare and a zero cooldown single target knockback with a tactic. This will effectively take a single target at a time out of the fight every 2-3 GCDs if you use Sudden Shift to skip normal balance. This is best used after a melee DPS pops some sort of cooldown to make him waste it. I've been against Forceful Shock in the past, but it's quite useful for this purpose. It will see more use in my slots.

Next, the SM can reduce an entire melee train to useless at morale 2. Wings of Heaven into the group and then pop Gusting Wind to send the entire enemy train away from your back line. Wings of Heaven is a morale snare meaning it's unbreakable and at a duration of 10s, it will be awhile before they can reach the back line again. This will usually buy your back line 15s of safety. If Wings of Heaven is on cooldown, you can also pop Leading the Charge! for your back line to let them get more distance. Using both Wings of Heaven and Leading the Charge! at the same time is overkill in my experience and leaves you more at risk of not having a cooldown available to save your group when it's needed.

In the worst case scenario, which is the enemy has Immovable and you don't have Leading the Charge! up, you can reduce a melee train down a third of it's normal damage against a target by using both Guard and Challenge just like any other tank. You also want to use your debuffs against the enemy's best melee DPS to further reduce incoming damage.

I know some of you are thinking that it would be easier to just use a Knight and stagger. You would be right in a sense that it requires fewer button presses. However, the stagger works off Unstoppable and the SM punts work off Immovable. You could almost chain CC a melee train that bunches up with both a Knight and SM working together making it easy for a ranged group to pick them off one by one.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reading Between the Lines of the New Producer's Letter

The new Producer's Letter for WAR is out. I took a few days to let things sink in before writing about it to try to figure out some of the hidden meanings in the letter.

Please note that these are simply my predictions based on information Mythic has released publicly. If you have any concerns with anything I say, please do not complain to Mythic about it. You can direct all complaints about these predictions to their source, namely my ass.

With that out of the way, I'll break it down after the break

This month’s Producer Letter is being brought to you by James Casey. James has been a Producer on the project for some time and has run a number of WAR initiatives (New User Journey, Endless Trial, Verminous Horde, etc.) in tandem with Carrie. Carrie is still working on WAR, but is looking at a different aspect of the game. This new focus will be revealed in due time.
The first part I bolded is about new content that was added to the game recently. Carrie is now working on a different aspect of the game. What other parts of the game are there than content development? Well, there's customer service, server and code management, and financial management to name a few. The big question that jumps to mind is could WAR being going free-to-play? Carrie has stated in Q&A sessions before that they'd like to learn things from the free-to-play model.

The issue with WAR going F2P is how to make money selling stuff in a cash shop without grossly imbalancing combat. If that can be solved, then sure, why not? The game is only fun with other players to play with...or kill. F2P would bring a LOT more players into the game. More players makes the game more fun for everyone.
The current structure of the Scenarios will remain unchanged, but the Scenarios themselves will be different. Some scenarios stayed where they are, some changed what tiers they are available at, and some are gone and replaced by other classic scenarios. For example; The Maw of Madness will be making its return to the Tier 4 scenario Queue.
I liked Maw of Madness, so I welcome that change. Classic scenarios seem to suggest no brand new scenarios. I have to figure Nordenwatch and Reikland Factory are staying in Tier 4. I figure the 3 6v6 scenarios will be added to Tiers 2 and 3 to help with queue times. Those are Gates of Ekrund (a 6v6 bracket existed for ranks 19-24), The Ironclad, and the Eternal Citadel. Lost Temple of Isha has to be getting the boot for sure since approximately zero people take the queue for it. I'm going to say that the other 3 Tier 4 scenarios will be Black Fire Basin, Battle for Praag, and Serpent's Passage. I would love for Ironclad or Eternal Citadel to be in Tier 4, but I doubt that will happen.
We also have some very special plans for Grovod Caverns.
Grovod Caverns is a capture the flag scenario. The flags in this case are Warpstone. This screams Skaven scenario to me and would be quite ingenious if I'm right. Players complain about the power gap, a lot. Skaven have the same stats regardless of the rank/renown rank and gear of the controlling player. Also players complain about lack of group balance in scenarios. Allowing players to choose which Skaven to play in the scenario avoids the issue completely. Andy did mention wanting to improve the group support ability of the Packmaster. Could this be why?
Along with the patches and live events, we also have plans to expand our services and Account Entitlement offerings this year. This includes introducing paid name changes, more pets, and more ways to personalize your character.
More support for the F2P argument perhaps?
However, we understand that population is a key component to enjoying the game. As part of an effort to ensure off-peak hours are as enjoyable as peak hours can be, we are actively discussing our plans for lower population servers.
Free server transfers have already been mentioned, but this could be even more support to the F2P argument. Or it could be something else.

That's all I've got for the Producer's Letter. The TTK calculations I've been doing just got a wrench thrown into them with the healing changes being discussed. I get the feeling more is coming that will cause me to have to redo them completely. I'm going to hold off on that for now to see what's coming before I go further on that series.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Elite Mindset - I'd Rather It Be My Fault

So this is bothering me right now after reading some recent posts on the official forums and seeing some videos on YouTube.

First, the YouTube video. Get a load of this.

Does anyone else see the problems here? This guy is shooting a video of him in a scenario getting rolled complaining about premades vs pugs hoping to use it as evidence.

Here's what I have.

1. Clicking all his abilities. Really? You can't move effectively and still get off abilities if you do that. You get away with that in Tier 1, but in Tier 4 it's asking to get rolled.
2. Keyboard turning. It's always slower than mouse turning. Being slower than the opponent is a bad thing. It usually ends with hitting the respawn button.
3. Breaking the stagger on a healer without any assistance. Really? No one is going to kill a decent healing WP by himself.
4. Not immediately dumping rage when under focus fire. Berserk makes you take more damage. Berserk can be dropped by using one skill. Or if he's really using Wot Rules? without a pocket guard and healer...yeah.
5. Using potions when out of danger. Potions are to save your ass when you come under focus fire and your support needs a second to come to your aid. Potions keep you in the fight. He was clearly getting heals during the battle. Make it easier on your healers.

You know how I know all those things are problems? I've done them myself. (Minus the dumping rage part since SMs don't use that mechanic.)

Had he not done these things, his side could have very easily won that battle or at least made it more competitive.

The elite player would rather have it be his fault. If it's his fault, then he can fix the problem. He's focused on self-improvement. If it's not his fault, he can only blame others. He's focused on the flaws of others.

I'm not too proud to ask for help. I even put up a post about how I got started on this journey as the first post in this series. Heck, here's the thread I made asking for help on WHAlliance.

Here's the official forum thread in question. I requested a combat log from the OP to potentially see what the issue might be. Going by how the thread is going, I doubt he'll send me one. He'd rather complain that it's broken when he clearly has other issues under his control that could be easily fixed.

I'm done ranting for now. We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming next time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Team Play - Group Theory - Power Gaps and Assumptions

DPS and Support numbers in my Simplified Group Theory, SGT for short, must be changed to more accurately reflect power gaps when they occur.

When dealing with the power gap in Tiers 1-3, the differences in power are negligible. So, it's not necessary to modifiy the formula at all for those tiers. In Tier 4, the are varying degrees of 40. They are as follows.

New 40 - Tier 4 greens or Devastator/Redeye

Each tier from New 40 to Sovereign creates a 5% increase in stats (and weapon DPS). Therefore, a tier difference causes .05 points to be added to both DPS and Support per player.

For example, you are a fresh 40 with 6 friends, but you all managed to hit 40 able to wear Annihilator gear. You are a balanced group containing 6 DPS and 6 Support points. You come up against group in a scenario wearing full Sovereign also a balanced group containing 6 DPS and 6 Support. The Sovereign group gets 1.2 points added to the DPS and Support to account for the power gap. So it's a 6 DPS/6 Support group versus a 7.2 DPS/7.2 Support. The 1.2 DPS advantage makes the base TTK 8.3 seconds for the Sovereign wearing team in straight up fight with all parties involved in the fight.

Doomflayer and Warpforged not only add stats, the renown they require also add effective rank, causing level correction to come into play. Doomflayer has about 20% more stat points (729) on it than Sovereign (588). It also accomplishes this in 5 pieces instead of 8. This means per slot, Doomflayer has *DOUBLE* the stats per piece than Sovereign. Most will still use the same jewelry, belt, and cloak, so the effect isn't as bad. Not to mention it adds 3 effective ranks to a player, for a level correction difference of about 7.5%. For the Sovereign to Doomflayer leap, the appropriate correction is .3 points to each DPS and Support per player to account for the increased stats and level correction bonus. Level correction bonus was determined from this thread on WHA forums. Level difference causes a linear increase in effectiveness by the percentage of the difference. So if a full Sovereign group runs into a full Doomflayer group, both balanced, the matchup is 6 DPS/6 Support against 7.8 DPS/7.8 Support. The 1.8 DPS advantage makes base TTK in straight up fight 5.6 seconds.

Warpforged has 36% more stats (992) than Doomflayer. It also adds 3 more effective levels for another 7% correction. This makes the correction .42 to each per player for this tier gap. A full Warpforged Group versus a full Doomflayer group both balanced causes 2.52 point advantage making base TTK about 4 seconds.

SGT assumes that all players are playing "prudently" and there are no healing debuffs, CC, or morales in play and that all players have enough resources available to do whatever they want. (It does account for Guard and Challenge.) One side isn't wasting it's time beating on the regen tank when the glass cannon Sorc/BW is standing right next to him for example. It also assumes a single assist with most if not all DPS focused on a single target at a time. A group running a split assist would not allow for SGT to work.

SGT basically serves to give a target caller an internal clock, much like a quarterback has an internal clock against a pass rush. It tells him how long he should stay on a target, whether or not the DPS hitting his healers are a threat, and whether or not it's safe to push forward among other things. SGT gives an average TTK for a group. You may well be able to kill the BW/Sorc before SGT tells you you should. You may not be able to kill the regen tank before SGT says you should. But the balanced Warpforged group should be able to wipe the balanced Doomflayer group in about 24 seconds in a straight fight.

When you load into a scenario, you should always pull up the scoreboard, see who you are a facing, and make an estimation of the situation using SGT to set your internal clock for that opponent.

Next time, I'll start going into Advanced Group Theory which makes modifications to Simplified Group Theory to account for TTK for individual players, healing debuffs, CC, and resource management.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Team Play - Group Theory - Estimating TTK

To win a fight in WAR, you have to keep a couple statements true. First, your outgoing DPS must exceed your enemy's mitigation and healing. If this does not occur, you will never kill your opponent. Second, incoming DPS must be handled adequately by your mitigation and healing to allow your outgoing DPS enough time to score kills.

The ultimate resource in WAR, and life for that matter, is time. Having DPS and Support numbers to compare is useless unless you can convert this into time. Specifically, I'm referring to time to kill, or TTK. The two initial statements can be summarized with the following statement: Your TTK must be less than your enemy's TTK to win a fight.

TTK in WAR changes geometrically with the ratio of DPS to Support. Say for instance you are running around solo and you bump into a healer. For this example, say the healer won't attack you and will just heal himself to buy time for friends to show up. The healer is capable of healing himself for 700 hp/sec and you are capable of dealing 1200 hp/sec and the healer has 7500 health. Your DPS overcomes his healing at a rate of 500 hp/sec, meaning he will drop in 15 seconds. You get help from an ally, who can also deal 1200 hp/sec to this player. The healer is now taking 1700 hp/sec over his healing capacity, meaning he will drop in about 4.42 seconds instead. The DPS doubles while the TTK drops by a factor of about 3.4. Even a 25% increase in damage, 400 hp/sec more outgoing damage, would cut TTK in about half.

TTK is about how much DPS exceeds the available Support. I've been able to approximate TTK in small group encounters using the ratio of DPS to Support available at any given time. I determined this experimently through watching a lot of the raw scenario footage I have. Feel free to test it yourself.

Tarelther's Simplified Group Theory of TTK states that TTK is approximately equal to 10 seconds divided by the point difference of one group's DPS and the other's Support at any given moment. It assumes equal rank, gear and renown on each side. The formula can be modified to account for these differences, but that's another post. Also, this only gives a snapshot of any given moment. It changes constantly during the course of the battle.

The phrase at any given moment is important because the key to consistently winning even match-ups is to temporarily alter this ratio into your favor by various means.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cool RR100 Bonus

This was really fun to see once I logged in and saw my guildmate hit RR100.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Team Play - Group Theory

One of the things I love about WAR is the varied number of ways one can balance a group. I've given a few examples on this blog earlier. I've discovered that I can distill those specific groups into a very simple formula for balancing a group.

Players have one of three roles in a group in WAR. A player can deal damage to an enemy, deal with incoming damage to the group, or a little of both. I like to refer to these as DPS, Support, or DPS Support.

Any pure DPS class in offensive spec and gear is DPS. Any defensive tank or full healer is Support. Hybrids are DPS Support. Defensive DPS are classified here because they do not require nearly the support of an offensive DPS freeing up support classes to support others.

I use a very simple point system for building a group. A DPS is worth 2 points of DPS. A Support is worth 2 points of support. A DPS Support is worth 1 point DPS and 1 point Support. In order to be a viable group, the group requires 5 points of DPS and 5 points of Support. An exception is a group containing any full DPS needs a full healer to be viable. I'm sure there's more exceptions, but this is meant to be a general overview.

This makes for 3 viable totals. 5 DPS and 7 Support is what I classify as a defensive group. 6 DPS and 6 Support is a balanced group. 7 DPS and 5 Support is an aggressive group. I like the aggressive group personally, but sometimes defensive play is the best idea.

This idea forms the basis of my target priority selection. Basically, I'll use this to figure out how I can shift the balance of damage into my favor and approximate how long it should take me (or the enemy) to drop a target provided no intervening cause comes into play. By intervening cause I mean using a CC or potion or pocket item or something to cover for a temporary loss of DPS or Support or both.

But I'll get to that later. I've got some 50% bonus renown to get.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The effect of RR100

Before anyone says anything, no, I'm not talking about me hitting 100. I'm barely 82.

One of the WPs in my guild is currently RR99. He'll be 100 by Sunday. Already though, he is causing a massive difference for us. This guy hits like a truck. Yeah, you gotta give him a pocket guard, but man, people explode when he hits them.

So yeah, there's a bit of a power gap happening. But honestly, it's not as bad as it was.

Players used to enter Tier 4 at rank 32 and would have to face players of RR80, or effectively rank 41. This is a 9 rank gap. Now players can avoid Tier 4 until 40 and will potentially face players of RR100, or effectively rank 46. This is a 6 rank gap. Players can attain RR80 very quickly now, dropping the disadvantage to 5 ranks.

But the RR90 and RR100 gear is soooo much better than other set gear. In terms of stats, not really. Basically the stat set bonuses for Doomflayer and Warpforged were built into the items themselves.

I've faced many RR90+ opponents. Yeah they've got a little bit of an edge, but it's nothing that organization cannot overcome.

My biggest issue with WAR right now is it just plain has too many bugs. After playing in the RIFT betas so far, this only stands out even more. The PvP is WAR is light years ahead of PvP in RIFT in my opinion. This is to be expected since WAR was designed from the ground up for PvP primarily. RIFT is more of a PvE game. Don't get wrong, I like PvE when it's good, but it doesn't compare to an intelligent opponent.

I've preordered RIFT, and it'll be my PvE game. I do miss raiding with my old guild in Vanguard. I was Erasial, Raki Disciple of Watchtower on Xeth. (And no, it was NOT a Jehovah's Witnesses guild.) But when I need a PvP fix, WAR all the way.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The shift from AoE to single target healing

I logged into WAR a little bit this past week. It was my first playing since the adjustment to the WP/DoK group healing. I was in my offensive kit, but I used full Sovereign for Leading the Charge to try to keep up with the crazy ass slayer who is now the new leader of my guild.

Um, yeah, I could tell the difference. Before the change AoE healing could cover the guard damage I took in DPS mode. Now I need some single target healing to stay up while doing so. With a shield on in defensive spec, my regen can cover what Guard damage gets past my shield.

If my healer has to use single target healing to keep me up, he can't heal anyone else until I'm ok or he has to let me drop.

I have been tempted to pull out the shield just for that reason. Way back in the day when I was ranking up my SM, I was a Vaul/Hoeth S/S tank. I hit like a girl, but I took it like a man. The S/S build works in warband situations, quite well actually, but I find it lacking for scenario play.

I also played a little bit of Rift today in the warfronts. Oh man. If you were complaining about the marauder pull in WAR, the warlord taunt that you can buy for 8 soul points actually pulls enemy players right to you. And it's not on a 30s recast. Oh no. That bad boy refreshes every 8 seconds. There's no global CC immunities for now either. Not only that, tanks can buy a branch ability in the PvP soul that makes their taunts work like challenge reducing damage output to everyone save the taunter. Rank 1 was 20% and the ability has 3 ranks, so 60% damage cut isn't unlikely. The only saving grace of this is the warlord soul's DPS is pathetic.

I've got an easy 2 weeks coming up. I've got continuing education classes for the next two weeks to renew my insurance licenses. I'm feeling a little better now. I'm not quite as tired, but I'm still not 100%. Hopefully I'll make my full return soon enough.