Archive for Thanquol’s Incursion

PvP’s Expansion Limpness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by krosuss

There are sooooooo many other things I’d like to be posting about, but it seems the expectations and hope for Patch 1.4 are a resounding clunk. I was reluctant to even post my comments on Thanquol’s Incursion but as I take a gander around the WAR blogs … I am not alone with bad feelings. Many WAR bloggers have been accused of being too happy shiny about the game so they’ve been posting items that are taking a critical look at this MMO.

And the most recent post from Bootae has hit on something I’ve been thinking for quite a bit of time … the lack of actual new content. I feel that’s the biggest problem with a PvP game. How do you give new content to a playerbase that wants to fight other players?

The big dog WoW is easily expanded as we’ve just seen. Forget that they destroyed Azeroth via the Cataclysm, forget that they did a redo and “improved” the graphics … they went in and did this:

  • Two new playable races (Goblins, Worgen).
  • Each race was given their own starting zone to get players to Level 6.
  • Expanded use of flying mounts.
  • Seven — yes 7 — new dungeons.
  • Three new raids.
  • Two previous dungeons revamped.
  • New battlegrounds and PvP zone.
  • And more …

Easy, right? PvE is much easier to add to and those who love PvE are somewhat easier to cater towards. Call them carebears or whatever, serving up new quests and dungeons is what they want, what they need. You can build a quest chain with story, some loot, and lead them all over the map finding things, talking to NPCs, and killing mobs. And if you’re WoW that could entail taxiing mobs from one side of Gobbo Land to the other. Same with new dungeons … add a portal to some underworld cavern with elaborate architecture, increasingly difficult bosses, and epic gear to be won. That particular path really doesn’t seem possible for WAR since RvR and PvP are what keeps us here. So what can be done?

Patch 1.4’s zerg-busting, RvR-stalling intentions haven’t really come to fruition. Every server is different but on the whole, the zerg still rules and getting into your opponent’s city is still a frequent occurrence. Hey, Mythic tried and what looked good on paper didn’t pan out. Where do we go from here?

If us PvPers can’t be satiated in the same way as WoWophiles, what will fit the bill? We need more territory to fight over, more zones to explore, some more scenarios to clash within, and yes … more gear of all kinds to win. That’s the easy stuff that can be added in. The “hard” stuff referenced above therein? How about new classes, races, and pairings?

Forts … Forts … Forts
They aren’t expansionworthy since they currently reside in the game as pretty scenery and they definitely better not charge us for doing something with them. These need some sprucing up to put a little speed bump in our paths to city siegedom. This post isn’t about specifics so I won’t go into ideas for how to bring these back … all I know is they are needed. Get on it.

Change Your Mind … Add Missing Capitals
When asked directly at a Q&A session, Carrie conceded that completing the missing capitals was off the table. There are other things to focus on. Fair enough but those other things better be freaking good. Going along with my theory that we need more places to fight, four new capital cities with different mechanics, Warlords, and Kings would be cool. Throw in a special set of armor only available from each of the cities all with different appearances and stats. A rotating “city to siege” would be in order rather than capturing one pairing to enter. You’d still need to lock two pairings to get in with the second one locked opening up that pairing’s cities. You wouldn’t fight to lock Dwarf/Greenskin second for a chance at the Grudge set?

More Zones, Please
As others have made mention, it is a bit stale to be fighting it out in the same zones over and over and over again. New is good and despite the hardcore who play WAR, even we are getting tired of the same old Dragonwake and the same old Chaos Wastes. Yeah! Praag again! There are four Tier 4 zones just sitting there not being used. What a waste. And I’ll bet there are players who don’t even know they are in the game.

These are West Praag (Empire/Chaos), Isle of the Dead (High Elf/Dark Elf), Cinderfall, and Deathpeak (Dwarf/Greenskin). I posted a Q&A question on the forums that Andy Belford actually answered. I asked if they considered repurposing these existing PvE-only zones for RvR? He said it was a good idea and something they would consider. Okay … do it. It’s as low a hanging fruit as you’ll find with them just sitting there waiting. Give us a reason to fight there.

Refresh the Weekend Warfronts
We have yet to cycle through all of the retired scenarios that were to be repurposed for the Weekend Warfronts. Some of these gaps can be explained with resources working on other things. But I’m also guessing some of it is a lack of knowing just what to do to make some of them better. To make my point, here are the retired scenarios that have yet to make a reappearance:

  • Gromril Crossing
  • Grovod Caverns
  • Maw of Madness
  • Reikland Hills
  • Thunder Valley

All but one of those are bottom-of-the-barrel in the fun department. Grovod’s is a Phoenix Gate clone only underground. Gromril and Thunder Valley are near clones of one another with multi-flag captures and ranked near the bottom of players’ fave scenario lists. Reikland Hills is similar with multi-cap BO’s for players to run between. The Maw of Madness really doesn’t need any rejiggering. It’s a death match that’s actually a lot of fun. Let’s bring these back some weekend, spruce up the rewards (a longstanding issue for all WWs), and perhaps surprise us with some new scenarios (War Quarters, Undercroft, Bright Wizard College, The Monolith).

Beyond the Warfronts the issue of pops also needs to be addressed. Many have thought that with scenarios removed from the campaign that cross-server matchups would soon follow. Let’s hope they do.

Easy Said …
Those are the easy things that could pump some new life into WAR. I say “easy” from my armchair but some of them are easier than creating a ton of new content from scratch. Much of what I’ve listed is there already either in game or hidden code currently hidden.

The hard stuff? Yeah, now that would take some effort but I feel that’s where the path must go despite the limited resources. You could probably hold back the dogs by simply adding in missing mirrors for the races. Mr. Meh actually listed some intriguing options. Wouldn’t it be cool if every race had a glass cannon? What about a melee-healer for all?

New races with a whole new pairing is definitely pie-in-the-sky but it’s what’s truly needed. The Skaven implementation of 1.4 has been lackluster at best. Thanquol’s Incursion is not widely embraced nor is it much fun. Talking with those who’ve actively played the new Skaven “classes” say other than the Gutter Runner and Warlock Engineer … they really are only so-so. I don’t see too many people using them.

Suck it up and finally — FINALLY — load that silver bullet into your gun and pull the trigger. I know the RvR Packs have sold pretty well by all the players I see running around with their trinkets. There’s a lot of new people playing (or some say). Take that momentum and capitalize on it. Bring Skaven to the game for real with actual classes and zones. Match them with the Lizardmen for double the win. That’s your silver bullet, trump card, sure thing. I wrote about a possible pairing before and Ekalime wrote an epic post on both of these races (and a ton more … shame on you if you don’t read his blog!). It’s right there! Go head down and do it!

Closing Thoughts
It’s a tough road ahead to say the least. Are we coming to the end of the line or is there something worthwhile on the horizon? A patch that on paper sounded fairly solid has landed on its face. Instead of slowing the campaign it’s been accelerated more than ever. The anticipated addition of Skaven has been a dud. We’re tardy on a Producer’s Letter by nearly a month. Guess there’s either nothing to say or is Carrie at a loss for words? I don’t buy that … she’s always got something useful to write. What’s going on?

I know a ton of work went into the RvR Packs and Patch 1.4. And there is some good stuff there just not as substantial to truly enthrall subscribers for longer term. Taking a step back to recover on Mythic’s part is warranted. However, with some of these glaring issues at a time of year when a good chunk of WAR’s playerbase is off from work and school, all ears are open awaiting some word on what is planned to resolve these problems and any hint of what the horizon holds.

The conspiracist in me sees the quickening of the game and the raining of gear on the playerbase as a precursor to no good. Have we been kidding ourselves the past year thinking that if we turn the corner all will be well? I don’t see WAR closing down but can it grow beyond the meager subscriber base it currently has? Where are we … 100,000 – 200,000? More? Less? Who really knows? Is it possible to take the EVE route and grow this thing slowly to where you can gain momentum or are we staring at the eventuality of a F2P model?

If you’re profitable as stated earlier this year … if you have all these “cool expansions” planned … we better see a roadmap or are you guys moonlighting on Star Wars The Old Republic. All I do know is we’re coming to a real crossroads with this game and the directions aren’t looking too rosy. I want Doomflayer and Warpforged gear but am staring at 10 tough renown ranks for each with nothing truly new in between to keep me happy or engaged. It’s just an extension of the grind that isn’t that appealing for me at this moment.

Two years in and we have no new zones … no new races … no new classes … and all the hard work and effort put in to fix the game is quickly forgotten with this recent patch. The work put into WAR to fix its innumerable wrongs does not go unnoticed but for how long can that be the excuse that holds us back? What do you think should be done?

My Xmas wish is for clarity.

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Thanquol’s Incursion … Fail?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 16, 2010 by krosuss

It’s been out for about a month … is it too soon to cry ‘Fail’ on Thanquol’s Incursion?

Since it went live I’ve run the thing four times. The first time was me and a lone Warrior Priest running around trying to disrupt half a warband of Destro. That worked out as well as you can imagine.

My second journey through the Skavengate was with over half a warband of guildies as we ran around fending off less than a party of Destro while we killed the bosses. That worked out as well as you can imagine.

My third and fourth forays were roughly a warband of Order — no Destro — as we burned down all three instance bosses in what seemed record time. That worked out as well as you can imagine.

Your results may vary but so far despite the cool look and feel of the Incursion, the interesting boss mechanics, and the potential loot one can win, this new addition to the game neither slows the RvR campaign nor does it provide a new outlet for fun and competition.

Guildie 1: “Hey, wanna go do the Skaven thing?”
Guildie 2: “What, turn into a Skaven?”
Guildie 1: “No, the dungeon thingie.”
Guildie 2: “It’s open?”
Guildie 1: “Yeah.”
Guildie 2: “Ok.”

That’s how a conversation will go in my guild vent as someone happens to notice the Incursion is open since the 20 other players online didn’t even know nor seem to care.

I know I’m not always the most observant person when I’m in game, but shouldn’t there be some big announcement or billowingly obnoxious horn sound a la Land of the Dead with words on the screen to let us know the Skaven are running amok? Does that happen and I just don’t hear it because my guildies talk too much? I even recall seeing in region chat that it was active in a zone that no one was really fighting in.

I’m sure a lot of work went into the dungeon and it’s a shame to see it under used. My view is, of course, not the view of everyone but other than the occasional “yeah, it’s pretty cool”, no one is truly ZOMGing about it. And honestly, other than the chance to win some loot I really don’t yearn for it to open. And if it did, I wouldn’t know it was open anyway.

It’s easy to complain but what can be done to improve the instance?

Actually draw attention when it “appears”. Bells, whistles, huge text on screen! Just as we can’t miss when Destro has gained access to Land of the Dead, we should know that Thanquol is up to his shenanigans.

When it becomes available allow players to queue up for it rather than needing to find a portal. I know they look cool, and the thought was to place them at BO’s so one side or the other could guard them … but when they also appear in the warcamp that eliminates the need to fight your way to them.

Springboard this general concept into more. The instance is a lot like a scenario only with NPC boss monsters. So go ahead and make it a scenario. The items in there are pretty nice but ease of entry is not condusive to there being multiple successful battles. When you get 2-on-20 or 16-on-4 or 2-on-0 it really doesn’t make for a whole lot of fun. Take this mechanic and use it for new scenarios in the future that add a little spice to fighting the enemy. It’s fun to fight other players but mixing up the experience helps to keep players on their toes. Dare I even say make Forts into something like this with boss NPCs running around while players are trying to take the area.

What are the results on other servers? I’m guessing this doesn’t happen on say, Badlands. In fact, I’m sure players run to the instance to get away from the lag. Is my experience an aberration or is it the norm? I’m hoping my experience is not what others are seeing. If so, let’s hope for more of that quick Mythic magic to revamp and turn it around.

Not Quite As Expected … or Was It?

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , on December 4, 2010 by krosuss

I was on vacation for Thanksgiving week so I was lounging in luxury … thus no posts. It’s hard work writing these things. Not really, but I took the week off to relax, visit friends and family, and oh yeah, play some WAR.

I didn’t play WAR non stop, there were some nights I didn’t play at all. I played some right after 1.4 went live and as many others have commented, the city sieges were happening far too often and flipping zones was way too easy. But the renownz!

Things appear to have stabilized and Mythic has implemented some fixes. The past few days the experience has been pleasant.

Siege, Siege, Siege
The biggest gripe for most right after 1.4 was the non-stop city sieges. While players were wandering around not knowing how the new campaign worked, they would blob up into a zergball and just bum rush zones. With no keep NPCs and a larger force on your side, flipping zones was child’s play. And even if there was some resistance, a small group could go to a less active zone and lock it with somewhat ease.

The complaints prior to 1.4 were the amount of city sieges. This patch was to fix that. In the short term, it did not. The city can be fun and with the new loot pecking order (Sovereign, Doomflayer, Warpforged) there was reason for people to take part (and advantage) of the increased frequency. The allure of getting a purple weapon and some new high-end gear are all it takes for people to flood in. Not even one full day since 1.4 launched, there were players who had upwards of 3 pieces of the new gear (from the city and Thanquol’s Incursion).

Mythic jumped on this fairly quickly, upping the amounts of resources needed to rank up keeps. This has helped. I can’t speak for what happens during the day (I’m at work), but in the evening there has been a decline in us going to the city. I expect there to be a back-and-forth of no sieges to too many sieges depending on population. More on how to curb that in a future post.

This item has gone not quite as expected.

Campaign Evolution
It’s amazing how many morphs the RvR campaign has gone through since WAR launched. Each update has improved the game and our much of our feedback has been implemented. RvR had gone extremely stagnant there for a while and Mythic knew something drastic was needed. People weren’t actively taking part and RvE isn’t nearly as fun.

Patch 1.4 has definitely breathed new life into the campaign. When you enter an active zone, before running out to join the fray, pull up the map. More times than not there will be hotspots all over the place. That’s exciting. You’ll still come across a zerg here or there but you’ll also encounter a lot more small groups. The fight has been spread around the zone nicely.

I’m not seeing as much BO defending as I thought we’d see. Since BO’s only have a 5 minute lockdown it’s more common to see a BO flip and then a group will swarm in to take it right back with the time traveled to get there enough for the lock to expire. So rather than a dire need to hold Martyr’s Square it becomes a take it and run somewhere else, leaving the BO undefended until the next time the enemy appears to be capping it.

The fighting has been quite good and it’s refreshing to see people defending and keeps. Being able to respawn inside makes defenders braver to go out and mix it up. And the battle fatigue debuff stacks which helps level the field for attackers. Since 1.4 has gone live, I’ve taken part many a good keep battle. Good times!

Other than the BO issue this item is as expected.

Scenario Matchmaking
People were running scenarios? The times I played the pops were not abundant. It seemed as though people were content to mix it up in the RvR lakes. Then I learned the new matchmaking system was borked. I guess that explains some of it.

Throwing us a bone, we were given 5 days of the Eternal Citadel to make up for the issue. Everyone’s favorite, right? If you run a melee train, sure … but for us squishie ranged guys it can prove a nightmare. No cover. Nowhere to run. Dead. You’re typically not going to garner a ton of renown as the scenario ends so quickly. That’s a blessing I suppose. The main draw for this scenario is the ability to quickly gain scenario emblems. I gained over 50 and wasn’t playing hardcore at all this past weekend.

I’m a slacker so someone tell me … did they fix the matchmaking system yet?

This item is not quite as expected.

Thanquol’s Insursion
It’s difficult for me to comment on this new RvR dungeon. I’ve only entered it twice. The first time there were only two of us on the Order side and half a warband for Destruction. There were other Order players listed which leads me to believe they entered … and then subsequently left.

Last night was my second foray and I only knew it was available because guildies were mentioning it in Vent. Shouldn’t there have been some sort of “LOTD” foghorn Skaven bell sounding thing that rattles my speakers? I got in there and it was the opposite of my first experience: a half warband of us and two or so Destro. I didn’t win any worthwhile items but gladly took the new crests.

It seems as though this would be cool and fun with equal numbers. Having to be “Johnny on the Spot” to get in and the window of opportunity when it’s available needs to be looked at. Last night’s example was a good one. Half of us in Vent had zero clue it was open. We weren’t AFK third-floor keep squatting, we were out fighting in Eataine.

The Skaven instance was meant to stall/slow the campaign … cause a diversion to prevent zone flips and city sieges. We left to do the dungeon meanwhile the campaign didn’t stall. Destro flipped Eataine.

This item does not appear to be as expected.

Color Me Bad … Really Bad
I love player customization as I think many players do. The standard dyes that we’ve had since launch are meh … so-so … passable. You can get by with them for the most part but they truly lack a lot of the punch players want. There’s a “red” but it really doesn’t punch like a red. And there’s a couple “yellows” but they are not vibrant like yellow. The same can be said for the rest of the color palette players have at their mouse clicks. Yes, I just spent the last paragraph discussing colors.

To give us more choice and better options, dyes drop off mobs out there in the world. Whether you get a Snot Green or Scab Red these are slightly better colors than the ones at vendors. Some are more accessible than others with Chaos Black and Skull White being the rarest (until the billing snafu that had Mythic giving these away to those affected).

When I learned new colors would be coming in the RvR Personality Pack it was sure to be a welcome thing amongst the community. After 1.4 there were some glitches with some colors not being available and the overly expensive price for them. Really, 2g for colors I just paid for through the RvR Packs? Eventually the pricing was reduced and all the new colors were rolled out.

So what of these new colors? Some are nice while some are well … not. To each their own but the neon colors now present some hideous combinations. Not sure if my Guild Leader reads my blog but his WH is quite clownlike and ridiculous with his current color ensemble … up until he kills you. So Mint Chocolate Chip Green will not be making an appearance on any of my toons. The new “better” Black as it were, is a detail killer unless you enjoy a high-gloss look.

I’m guessing these are as expected.

They’ll Make Great Pets … and Mounts
From the number of players I see running around with the new vanity pets, I’m assuming they are a big hit. I still have yet to select which ones I want. Some make sense for us Order players but I wonder how I can explain walking around with a two-headed dog. Won’t I draw the attention of more than a few Witch Hunters? “Nah, it’s not a chaos mutation … I swear it was born that way. You know, pure bred dogs, all the inbreeding. That’s all.”

The new mounts looks sweet and I appreciate the quicker speed and greater chance of not being dismounted. Some goof Marauder tried his stupid “pull” thing on me and I just ran away. I hate that thing. I selected the “Steel” mount but was given the “Silver” one. A new hotfix has gone in that will allow players to swap the color of their mount and pets whenever they now choose.

These appear to be as expected.

Overall Thoughts
Even though 1.4 had a slightly rough start it appears to be settling in quite nicely. I’ve really been enjoying RvR more than I have in quite some time. WAR was always supposed to be about largescale fights and for the most part, we are getting those. There is reason to get involved and the renown is sweet. I’ll finally be able to reach RR80 (the slacker I am). My guess is that this patch is going as expected but some of the issues have been prominent enough to require a reassessment. Mythic has already made some adjustments and I imagine more will be on the way.

Getting anywhere from 10k-20k renown for flipping a zone is quite nice. But my RR81+ friends tell me the drag hits you after reaching that bellweather rank. I’ve been fortunate to have gotten some nice new items along the way. In two city sieges I’ve gotten a nice fill-in belt to go with the Doomflayer set when I one day complete it. I received a sick endgame staff from a purple bag in Stage III. Shame it will take me about two years to reach RR98 and use it.

And lastly I just got my first piece of new gear … Warpforged Gloves.

I’m enjoying where we’re headed but hope more substantive things are on the horizon. In 6-8 months from now, what kind of new RvR Pack can we expect? What else can be added to a PvP-centric game so quickly? We’ll discuss that soon enough.

Scenario Entropy

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by krosuss

These past two years we’ve seen a literal metamorphosis of WAR’s overall game mechanic. RvR used to be a complicated formula of items contributing to a zone where whoever reached the magic number of 65 first … flipped the zone. Easy enough, right?

Wrong. To get to 65 there were several buckets of contribution that needed to be filled collectively in order to reach that magic number. These included:

  • Battlefield Objectives.
  • Keeps.
  • Scenarios.
  • Skirmish.
  • PvE.

This mechanic has been tweaked more than a few times and only recently was the PvE portion removed altogether. Surely a good thing, but as we look to Patch 1.4 some of those remaining criteria will be changing. If flipping a zone is as lickity-split easy as taking one keep, those other things will become non-calculatable factors.

BO’s … Keeps … Skirmish
These are definitely going to be key to flipping zones, only in different ways. The ultimate goal is to sack the enemy’s keep which will flip the zone. Taking a keep has changed and what was once doable with axes, swords, and fireballs will now require rams and siege weaponry (and some scumbag Skaven if you can get them).

Getting these things will require resources and to acquire them we’re dependent upon taking and holding BO’s. The more BO’s you take and hold the more resources your realm will accrue. They won’t be literally adding to the flip a la victory points but their resources will allow your realm access to get rams, siege weapons, bombers, and a sense of accomplishment.

Skirmish should be changing for the better. Today, here and there you may encounter the enemy and duke it out or more likely, a big battle will ensue outside a warcamp trying to squeeze out those 1-2 VPs needed to flip the zone. With 1.4, skirmishes should be happening all over the map with forces of varying sizes.

BO’s not having a locking mechanic will mean commando parties can make daring raids to try and flip them. Resource carriers will need escort parties to help them get to the warcamp. Groups could be waiting to jump the resource carrier anywhere on the map. Imagine turning the wrong corner in Praag and “Uh-oh!” … we’re dead. Skirmish will no longer be a part of the contribution but the new mechanic will spread the fight across the zone and we’ll be skirmishing plenty.

Scenario Slowdown
If the aftermath of previous big changes are an indication, when 1.4 goes live there will be a HUGE boom to RvR. Everyone should receive a renewed fervor to get into the lakes and fight. The new RvR rewards sound pretty sweet (as Bootae attests) for both the winners and the losers which should translate into a ton of action.

If the rewards are going to be rolling in and the act of RvR improved and more fun … will scenarios suffer? Initially, I predict a severe drop in scenario pops. A total redo of the main point of the game combined with the addition of a new RvR dungeon with extra new loot will draw the masses. And the rewards of Against All Odds coupled with even losing a zone will make it worth the outnumbered’s time to take part. I know I will (when I’m not running around underground).

And about that underground … Thanquol’s Incursion … with new RvR currency needed to buy the new armor sets, any smart RR65+ player will be jumping at the chance to enter the instance to start hoarding tokens. And they’ll need to … those prices are freaking steep.

Not sure what players deem an appropriate wait time in between pops, but if you’re used to say 5-15 minutes in between, I can imagine this time jumping considerably (Badlands will probably be the one NA exception). Some players might not care, but I like having them on hand should I not want to RvR … or run a PvE dungeon … or play an ALT.

Criss-Cross
With scenario’s diminished role in the campaign the conclusion (they won’t contribute squat to flipping zones), what will become of them? They will be a mini-game grindfest to race for those ultra-powerful new weapons.

Folks were livid when a huge swath of scenarios were removed en route to Weekend Warfronts. And I’m sure those who whined loudest are sad they can’t play Thunder Valley anytime they want. The Warfronts have been fun despite the mundane rewards — although the boost to renown is nice. We probably won’t be seeing any new Warfronts until after the RvR Packs launch, so repeating Black Fire Basin and Howling Gorge should be expected. I’m still waiting for the Maw of Madness weekend!

Could this be the opportunity to implement cross-server scenarios? People have been asking for them for quite some time. Spreading the pool of players across all active servers will help with pops, build new alliances and rivalries, and will allow players who want to run them broader opportunities to queue up and have fun. All this plus no contribution towards zones should eliminate concerns over that OP party from Gorfang rolling you on Volkmar and adversely affecting zone flips (or whatever server you’re on). Players will be fighting for fighting’s sake, renown, and insignias.

Maybe I’m crying Chicken Little but expect a significant drop in your scenario time as we all run to RvR and to squashing rats.