Warhammers “Endgame” is terrible

Boredom critically hits Nazgum for 9000.

Boredom critically hits Nazgum for 9000.

I haven’t been able to play WAR much recently.  Not due to real life issues, but because Destruction has Altdorf on farm status for the past two weeks.  Four times that I’ve tried to login since Thursday we have been attacking Altdorf.  When Altdorf is under siege everything else is locked down so you either participate or log off..

My goblin has perhaps gone mad, thinking Destruction must be his true enemy, conspiring against him, using the most powerful yet least awe-inspiring force in any MMO universe… boredom!  I detest city sieges.  I think they are terrible.  I dislike instances, and an instance where you have to repeat the same public quest over and over for 2 hours just feels awful to take part in.

I thought myself unfortunate to find Destruction continually sieging Altdorf and failing, preventing me from skirmishing in the RvR lakes for those two hours, which is the part of Warhammer I find most fun.  Yet, apparently there is an even worse fate awaiting..

Should one side actually capture a city, all of RvR gets locked down.  All scenarios closed, all RvR lakes locked, no keeps, bos or zones available for capture anywhere.  Locked down!  So how long does this lock down last for?  According to this thread containing some rather upset Dark Crag players its 16 hours!

I enjoy skirmishing in Warhammer when its possible, but when the endgame gets triggered that gets taken away.  Its either participate or leave, so I usually leave.  Currently its a relatively small period of 2 hours, and though I usually only play for an hour or two each day, I managed to hit that window 4 times in the last 6 days.  If destruction keeps Altdorf on farm status, and there appears little reason to think otherwise, and starts actually capturing the city, that 2 hour unplayable window may go to 16 hours.  At which point it appears there would be little use in me attempting to login.

Fortunately, there is a little hope provided by Producer Jeff Skalski, who responds in the Dark Crag thread I linked above:

Sorry for the late reply on this and being MIA on the forums lately.
Just been a little swamped with Tomb Kings and just got back from being
out of the office for two weeks.  So, I want to let everyone here know
we are actively working on a plan to resolve this RvR endgame concern.
I just asked the RvR Strike Team Lead to put up a post today listing
out what we are currently discussing for City Siege improvements to our
Core Testers.  (so keep an eye out for any Core Testers reading this)
For those who are not Core testers I’m not going to leave you
completely hanging.  Our goals for what we are proposing to do is to
make sure there is never a moment in the the game where no RvR combat
exist.  As we firm up the details we’ll get them posted to the public,
but please keep posting suggestions on how you would like to see the
city sieges improved.

City sieges improved?  How about removed 😉

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Making WAR Awesome With A New Ruleset

Warhammer has a very unique makeup to the game, that could allow a quite different, more harsh PvP setting to exist within it, more true to the Warhammer tabletop game, and perhaps more fun – or at least different.  It’s what I was actually hoping for when the game was first announced, and to make it possible all it would take would be a new server ruleset and a few small tweaks..

Racewar PvP Ruleset
The basic premise is each race in Warhammer Online would be its own faction, and at war with every other race, making the game much more similar to the real Warhammer fantasy game.

This setup would work quite well with what Mythic has already built, because each race has the 4 archtypes (tank, healer, melee dps, ranged dps) available to it, along with their own items, gear and mounts.  Each race even has its own starting area, and a leveling path all the way up to 40.  In the future (presumably), each race would also have their own city.  It’s like Mythic originally planned to make this ruleset!

So, jumping forward for a moment and assuming this ruleset could be worked into the game, how might it play out different than the other rulesets?

A skirmishers dream!  With only 1/6th of the population as your ally, that means 5/6th of the population are your enemies!  And with the population so divided, you would likely not see the giant zergs like you do with the current rulesets, but instead much smaller teams.  Each faction may only be able to field up to a warband each, rather then the current 3+ warband zerg you encounter.  Smaller fights are much more fun, in my opinion, and this ruleset would favour them greatly.

Unpredictable chaos!  One of the main reasons I hate and rarely do scenarios is they are far too predictable.  You know who is on your team, who is on their team, how many players are on each team, and you know exactly whats going to happen.  I find Open RvR far more entertaining, not knowing how many allies or enemies are out in the field, not knowing who you will encounter or how many, and not knowing what kind of reinforcements may arrive in the midst of battle.  Now imagine a 6 way war!  Battling a small band of dwarves with your greenskin team, to see a group of dark elves arrive, unsure who they will attack, only to see them being chased by a group of high elves.  The chaos and confusion of never knowing what enemy factions may do would make the RvR lakes infinitely more entertaining for me than what we currently have.

No dominate faction!  Currently, there is only two sides in Warhammer, with even small shifts in population balance it is very easy for one faction to greatly out number the other.  In a six sided game, this would be next to impossible.  Even if say, the Dwarf Faction was the most popular, it may outnumber each of the other factions individually, but it would be highly unlikely to outnumber 2 or 3 of them combined, yet alone all 5.  Any sort of temporary alliance between the other factions could easily take away their numbers advantage.

Changes Required For Ruleset

So if you’re with me this ruleset could have some benefits and play out quite differently then the current rulesets.  So what exactly would Mythic need to change to get this ruleset into the game?

Scenarios could continue to function exactly as they do, supporting two sides within it, and the queueing system could just be tweaked to support the six realms.  Very simple and little effort required.  This would perhaps make scenario populations a little lower, likely more of a 6vs6 environment for most unless many are queueing, but could also add more variety, as each scenario you may be up against a different faction, which of course each have their own tricks!

PvE from 1-39 would also need very few tweaks, each side already has its own leveling path.  You would really just need to update the flight paths to restrict them to your sides warcamps.

RvR Lakes would require a few changes, but not too many!  The map layout is far from ideal to support this type of ruleset, but it could work.

The first big change required would be a flight path and landing camp for the other realms (so that dark elves would have a place to land in the EvsC front to fight); personally I would like to see this work by having them create small camps near the fortresses (so in EvsC, the Dark Elves and Greenskins would come in from the bottom left and bottom right corners of The Maw.  Making it a bit of a trek north to other zones, but making it feel more like you were invading enemy territory.  Similarly the Dwarfs and High Elves would come in at the top left and top right of Reikwald.  Just a small camp with a few mobs and a flight path would be all that’s necessary.

The second big change required would be how victory points and zone capture works.  Zone domination could remain the same, though would be very difficult to pull off against 5 other realms.  I would say an easy solution would be to remove zone domination and change Victory points, so that it works as a pie chart broken into 6 slices (one for each realm), where you earn points for killing, taking/holding objectives and scenarios only.  Then the first realm to 45% or so would take the zone (with each starting at about 18%, the home turf realms would get the bonus of starting out with the objectives when the zone resets).

Here’s where it could be made interesting.  We could maintain some semblance of an alliance with zone capture, where if a destruction realm captures the middle zone of praag it moves to chaos wastes, and if an order realm captures praag it moves to reikland.  But then in the next zone, whichever realm captures that gets to go for the fortress, and the home turf realm defenders.  The other realms would be locked out from the fortress zone.

Fortresses I think should be modified to be the end-game for this ruleset.  Scrap city sieging altogether; face the music Mythic, we all think city sieging sucks.  If fortresses were made the end-game, in this ruleset managing to hold yours while capturing another nets big points and nice gear, and take the current city siege gear and just tie it to renown.

Cities I’m not a fan of personally.  If an auction house existed at warcamps I would never go to Inevitable City.  Let Empire and Chaos have their city and just place auction houses at warcamps and I would be fine.  The other 4 cities are still being built right?  If so those can just be plopped in when they’re ready.

Optional Changes I’d Love To See
Along with the required changes to make this ruleset possible, there is quite a few optional changes I would like to see go along with it.

Make all characters start at level 32, effectively eliminating tiers 1-3 from this ruleset.  Werit made a suggestion on his blog recently, with a ruleset where chars start at 40, and I like the concept but feel level 32 would be a better fit.  It gives you a few levels of progress

Eliminate PvE dungeons and make it a true PvP ruleset.  Get rid of bastion stair, bilerot and lost vale entirely.  Leave this set as a PvP only ruleset with PvP gear!  That would be hawt!

That&#3
9;s all I got for now, what do you guys think?  Would it work and would you play on it?

EA Earnings Call Tomorrow

ea-moneyOne of the interesting things about EA buying Mythic is we get to see real subscription numbers every few months.  Unlike many smaller game companies, EA is a publicly traded company, and because of that, they divulge information about their earnings to their shareholders.

The last earnings call which took place earlier this year revealed Warhammer had “over 300k subscribers” at the time, which could in no way be spun as a positive.  By Mythic’s own admission they were hoping to still be growing, and “to be successful” they wanted to be “north of 500k subscribers”.  300k meant they had lost over 1/3 of the people who bought a retail box at launch, and were far below their mark.  Ouch.  Even worse, those numbers may have been high, as anyone who signed up for a six month subscription but lost interest and cancelled would still be considered among those.

Tomorrow is the next EA Earnings Call.  Predictions?  Personally, I’m thinking they will fare a little better off this time around.  Their trials seem to be getting some new blood into the game.  They’ve solved quite a few issues with the game and merged servers to make life easier for newcomers.  It’s also been a few months since WoW’s expansion so some of those folks will be getting bored.  And, as far as PvP MMOs, there isn’t much competition out there for Mythic… yet anyways.

I’m gonna guess 350k.  I think Mythic continued to sink below their 300k mark but managed to turn things around a bit in the past couple months.  Wanna venture your guess?

Best Thread Evar

I stumbled upon a hilarious thread this morning I just have to share..  it’s about a DoK complaining that a Bright Wizard is over-powered, which of course spawns a whole lot of trolling in the thread.  Yes, a DoK, perhaps destructions most over-powered class complaining about orders perhaps most over-powered class.  But don’t be so quick to dismiss the thread as mere trolling, there is more going on than first appears.  See if you can catch on before others in the thread do.

And for extra “epic winning lol”, it appears a forum moderator was tricked by it all and locked the thread.

Disables – fix its!

war-bug-bugIt seems lately I’m just being barraged by deaths from combat bugs.  For a PvP focused game, combat really needs to not have serious bugs in it to be enjoyable.  I don’t mind getting run-over by the zerg, or when someone gets the better of me, but it sure is frustrating to die to bugs.  And as it occurs so often lately, when I go back to check my combat log to see what happened, I find some bug was the cause of my demise..  so what’s new today?

Pretend you get hit with two different disables at the same time, say Cannon Smash and Scintillating Energy.  What should happen?  I would think, whichever hits you first should land and disable you, and the second should be ignored.  Or worse case scenario, both fire at the same time due to unstoppable not going up in time, and you get disabled by whichever is longer.  Well, in Warhammer neither of those situations happen.

Disabled til death!

Disabled til death!

Instead, they stack!  Somehow they get queue’d, and instead you get disabled for the full duration of the first, and then for the full duration of the second.  In my combat log you can see I get disabled for 12 seconds (13 apparently, according to my log).

Fix its!  Draw inspiration from your Gobbo mobs who would say, “Go Do It!”

WAR’s PvP Gear is far too hard to obtain

I waited a while to give the token system a chance before writing this post, but I have to say, WAR’s PvP gear is just far too hard to obtain..

Personally, I have the full annihilator set and 3 pieces of the conqueror set.  That initially sounds pretty decent, but as you’ll see that is hardly the case.  Let’s look at it first ignoring tokens:

Starting with the Annihilator Set.  I got lucky, by starting out on Ostermark I had less people to roll against for gold bags at keeps.  And, truthfully I got most of my annihilator set 4-maning empty keeps; yay RvE.  Nowadays on Phoenix Throne though, I imagine Annihilator set is pretty rough to get.  Last night keeps were being sieged by 188 destruction at a time!  That is a mighty low chance of you being lucky enough to receive a bag.  4-man keep sieges really aren’t possible on Phoenix Throne due to the population, you’ll always be interrupted, which is a good thing, but it sure makes the gear harder to obtain..

Let’s move up to the Conqueror Set.  This is the set I’ve wanted for a while, and as I’ve mentioned I have 3 pieces of it.  Not too shabby, no?  Well, not really.  I bought the gloves from a vendor back when that was possible.  And I bought the belt on the auction house.  The only piece I’ve seen from RvR is the boots, which drops off players.  The rest of the set only drops in fortresses, and you are basically competing with even worse numbers attempting to win a lucky roll.  I’ve been at maybe 50 fortress sieges.  Never, ever won.  In fact, I would be shocked to learn if anyone, on any server, in either North America or Europe has their full conqueror set.

Let’s move on.  Invader Set.  This is the set up from conqueror and only available at the city siege stage.  This set is completely out of my grasp now.  Why?  Because I refuse to ever subject myself to the pain that is city sieging in warhammer again =p  If city sieges were improved however, this set is almost reasonable to obtain.  You’re in an instance with only 48 other people, and 3? gold bags drop, and you can likely complete the quest 5 or more times before the 2 hour timer is up.  Unfortunately, Mythic decided to make stage 2 have four hero mobs that hit for like 20,000 damage, making this completely impossible with any kind of resistance.  Some players got “lucky”, if you want to call it that, and managed to deck themselves out in full invader back when the instances were bugged and you could get in one with 0 enemy players.  That doesn’t happen anymore, so these sets are basically unattainable.

Finally, there is the Sovereign Set.  This is also only available from city sieges, and only once you win the first instance (which seemingly is no longer possible).  So this set might as well not even be in the game at the moment.

That’s all the PvP sets I know of.  As you can see, they are all very difficult, some perhaps impossible, to obtain.  So, Mythic added tokens as a way to make these sets more obtainable.  Except, the costs from these tokens are just far too high.  I’ve been saving up for the conqueror shirt and am not even half-way there after several weeks, many fortress sieges and a lot of kills.  And that’s for one piece!

What Mythic Should Have Done
Players don’t mind working for their gear, but there needs to be some measure of hope that they will eventually obtain it.  Mythic’s addition of influence to the RvR lakes was great, and while a little slow to work through, gave you a clear goal that if you invest enough time in each lake you get certain rewards.

The renown system should have worked the exact same way.  All the PvP sets already have a renown rank requirement to use, as you gain that renown rank you should be able to go and just buy the item from a vendor exactly how influence works.  To me this makes a lot of sense, I would then be able to use my Conqueror set now, and as I progress further, know eventually I can get invader and then sovereign..  currently my gear is at a standstill and it feels like I’ll never progress at all.

Keeps, Fortresses and Cities should have never been about personal gain.  It should have been about your realm and provide benefits to your realm.  Just look what happened with the last update, making it so guild leaders who claimed keeps get a gold bag to hand out, I’ve never seen so much bickering in /2 over who gets to claim the keep.  If all of the personal gains were removed from keeps, fortresses and cities, and instead placed where they make sense (renown, which is really your personal progress), then the game would be so much better off.  And if they do that and everyone just PvPs and stops sieging keeps, fortresses and cities – guess what?  Then keeps, fortresses and city sieges aren’t fun enough.  Improve them!

WAR is an awesome solo game

Looking back, I find it kind of humorous that I can never bring myself to group with people in Warhammer anymore.  It’s not that I don’t like my realm-mates or guild members, most of them rock!  And really, I made a shaman over a dps class so I would be useful in groups!  But, whenever I do join a group and it starts to balloon up past 3 people I find the fun starts to go downhill quickly and I just want to log..  why is that?

Personally, I think its because, for whatever reason Mythic seems to have disliked the 8-man gameplay that developed in DaoC and has gone out of their way to not make that possible in Warhammer.  I know a lot of people, especially former DaoC players, were looking over the skills near launch trying to come up with good 6-man strategies.  Hey, I was too!  It was a reason I picked the shaman, the Green tree looked awesome for a full greenskin group, toughness/elemental debuffing with a few squig herders blasting explodin errer!  It looked hawt!  We were discussing this and other 6-man setups way back in August!

Unfortunately, not once did we get to try that out though, or any other 6-man team for that matter.  Why?  Well for us personally our guild just fell apart too fast with everyone returning to WoW who was unhappy with Warhammer.  But beyond our guild, I noticed there was very few 6-man teams from other guilds either!  I think this is because 6-mans have no place in Warhammer.  The maps are too small, often only having 1 or 2 routes to travel through (with the exception of a few zones like praag and black crag), and there is no way to escape a zerg once they are upon you, let alone pull off some kind of victory like in DaoC.  Attempting to run in a 6-man results in either you being continually runover by a larger zerg, or you managing to pick off smaller groups of players (1-3) looking to meet back up with the zerg; neither option is overly fun.

But, despite 6-man groups not being viable like many hoped, there is still a lot of fun to be had in this game!  Though you may need to wittle your groups
down to smaller sizes than 6-mans to find it.  Warhammer is actually a suprisingly fun solo and duo game.  A few quick points to backup my claim:

  • In a 1vs1 or 2vs2 situation, most people never hit morale 3 or 4, which is where a lot of the rediculous abilities exist that get fired off in large scale combat.
  • Mass AoE nukes, disables, knockdowns, disorients and the rest of those aren’t much of an issue in small fights, which is usually one of the first things I get frustrated with in warband+ size fights
  • The classes in Warhammer are remarkably balanced for 1vs1, as a shaman I’ve lost a 1vs1 to every class except a runepriest I think
  • You get to use far more skills each fight.  As a shaman in a warband I basically only need one skill, group heal.  In a small group fight I use at least 10.
  • Warhammer’s terrain is awesomely built for separating people, and almost every class has knockbacks.  This makes Warhammer a far easier game to handle adds while you are soloing, because you can just dump them off a cliff while you finish with your primary target.

Why solo over larger groups?  Well, you have to think of how you’re going to find fights in Warhammer.  There are no quests, or public quests, or other things to do in the RvR lakes.  So there is no where to go looking for enemies.  There is basically 6 objectives and the zerg usually hits them one at a time.  For players just logging in, they will want to rejoin the zerg.  So the best way to find fights is to position yourself between their warcamp and their zerg.

Why not groups of 3 to 5 people in size?  I view it as, if you’re solo, you just need one enemy to run into to have the potential for a fun fight.  If you’re in a duo, you need two.  With three you need a group of three enemies, and etc. all the way up.  You are far more likely to be in the “fun fight” zone the smaller your group size is, with a group of 4 you are not often going to be running into other groups of 4 enemies in Warhammer, but in a duo you’re much more frequently going to run into pairs of order!  =)

So what’s my summary?  Warhammer can be a great game to play solo, you’ll use more of your skills, find more challenging fights and perhaps, just perhaps have a little fun 😉  As the gobbo mobs in Warhammer love to yell at me after I accept a quest, “Go do it!”