Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Blog: Competitive Gaming

Due to my departure from Warhammer Online, I have made a new blog featuring a number of games, and, more specifically, games of a competitive nature. Be sure to check it out, here.

For those of you coming to this site for the first time, or for the first time recently, please note that a number of the links are no longer working, as many Warhammer Online sites have been shut down.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: The Ironbreaker

I've always been a fan of Dwarves, and I'm not talking about Dwarves with contraptions, with their black powder weapons, and their whirly I'm talking about a good, old fashioned dwarf, the kind that still thinks cannons and organ guns are new-fangled devices and are no match for a longbeard with axe or hammer in hand. Of course, I'm talking about the Ironbreaker (R.I.P. Hammerer).

This was the one of the last classes I played around with during beta, I wanted to try one sooner, but I got distracted by all manner of things. Like my other main classes, I played this class to 21, and then played around with the templates, as well as spending an extensive amount of time in RvR.

My overall impression of the Ironbreaker? Not only is he the class I intend on playing at release, he is also, in my opinion, possibly the strongest class in the game at this time. The only classes I have seen that even come close to the survivability of the Ironbreaker are the Black Orc, the Chosen, or the Warrior-Priest. And if the Ironbreaker equips a shield? It's good game, you have arguably the toughest class in the game at your disposal. And if you're talking about damage, this little bearded man will definitely surprise you.

The truth is, I wanted to play the Ironbreaker with Axe/Shield in homage to their tabletop origins, and I wanted to tank my little heart out as Path of Stone. Here's the story of how my Ironbreaker learned to stop using a shield, and love the Great Weapon. For a short while during beta, shields were bugged and weren't blocking, and I won a pretty sweet two-hander in a PQ, so I decided to try it out in RvR.

Dear lord, what has Mythic done. Even without the shield, I mitigate a lot of damage, and thus still serve in tank capacity, especially with Guard and Oathfriend. If you have a pocket healer (Rune Priests are ideal), you can go on just about forever. Ironbreaker damage is moderate, but steady, early in the fight, but if the point ever comes where I build up 100 Grudge, the forces of Destruction start dropping like flies. Add Taunt into the mix, and the Ironbreaker's damage goes through the proverbial roof.

Pro Tip:
Target priority is very important in RvR. In Tier 1, you'll be seeing a lot of greenskins, so I recommend finding their Shamans and Squig Hunters early in every fight, and taking them out first. With full Grudge and Taunt (esp. if you're in the RR 6 gear), they go down easily. I recommend staying away from Black Orcs and Chosen, until all other enemies are dead, especially if they are toting a shield.

So what else do I love about the Ironbreaker? The deal breaker for me was their epic amount of CC (comparative to other classes in WAR). With proper tactics they have a slew of Snares, Roots, Knockdowns, Knockbacks, and AoEs. It's a Crowd Controllers wet dream. I can protect my healer all day with a slew of knockbacks and knockdowns on short to moderate cooldowns, add Guard and Oathfriend to the mix, and the two of us can take on quite a few enemies at once. I would even go so far as to say the Ironbreaker and Runepriest classes are some of the best classes in the game at this point, and when combined, they are nigh unstoppable. As others have mentioned, the synergy between these two classes is more than impressive.

As for specs, I see only one really. Vengeance/Brotherhood. The only question for me is whether or not I want to go all the way up the Vengeance line to Grudge-born Fury, or whether I want to get Earthshatter in the Brotherhood Tree. Two talents you should definitely keep your eye on are the Powered Etchings Tactic, and Punishing-Knock, which add a knockback and knockdown respectively to two of your core skills, always good.

Okay, now on to the bad stuff, and let me tell you, there isn't much. Firstly, Oathfriend's mechanic right now is kind of odd, you can only put it on a group member, not even on someone in your warband, and if you're just running around in Open RvR without a group, good luck getting grudge. Because the truth is, people avoid hitting me like the plague, which means no grudge, and without grudge, the Ironbreaker's damage is sub-par (as it should be). Allowing Oathfriend to be used on anyone in your realm would be an excellent change. If not anyone, then at least make it apply to Warbands to make scenarios easier. As recompense for this change, I wouldn't mind seeing the CD being increased slightly, or having our damage slightly nerfed (don't hurt me IB fanatics!).

Also, the Path of Stone is lackluster in RvR. Sorry, I said it, and I'm sad, because I'd love to throw on a shield and kick it old school, but right now the incentive just isn't there, many of the Ironbreaker's best abilities require or encourage Great Weapons. Sad, but true. If I had to suggest changes, I would say have knock downs and other CC (Silence or Disarm) be the domain of shields (Path of Stone), and maybe have Armor Penetration and perhaps AoE be the domain of the Great Weapon (Path of Vengeance). Right now, one of our best Knockdowns (Cave-In) requires a Great Weapon, that's a little backwards IMO. That said, Path of Stone is probably the premier PvE tanking Mastery, unfortunately, I didn't try any of the End-Game PvE, so I can't comment with any certainty.

Overall, the Ironbreaker is an incredible class, with extensive survivability and Crowd Control. With the right tactics and skill usage, their damage is also pretty impressive (I honestly expect this to be toned down). This will probably be my main class on release, duoing with my Rune Priest Roommate, we should have Destruction feeling the fury of the Ancestors in no time.

Cheers, and see you all soon!


The White Tower Speaks: The Warrior-Priest

After enjoying a little bit of time on my Swordmaster (21 levels worth, and several hours of RvR and Templates), I decided to try the Warrior-Priest, and repeated the same steps for him. Leveled to 21, and then tried the templated characters.

My overall impression of the Warrior-Priest is that they are a very strong class. They have good survivability with Medium Armor, solid heals, and when specced correctly, they also do respectable damage.

Here's the catch though. As a Warrior Priest, I found it INCREDIBLY difficult to keep someone up through even a moderate assault (unless that person was myself, don't ask me why), and I just I don't see this class, in its current state, being a main/primary healer for RvR. Frankly, I think the Rune-Priest is the king of that arena (as he should be, considering his questionable damage output). There are people running around in beta as Salvation specced, with their little 1-handers and off-hands, spamming heals and supplication (converts AP to Righteous Fury). I think this play-style right now is weak and quite frankly, not the way the WP was intended to be played. If you want to stand in the back and spam heals, I strongly suggest the Rune Priest.

So you're asking now... well if I want to play a healing class, you just said Rune Priest was the best right? If you want to look at just healing, then yes, I would say the Rune Priest is a little better. What you need to be looking at is a combination of your damage and healing, as well as the buffs you bring to your group. Your big heal is a 3 second melee channel called Divine Assault. It's a doozy. It hits hard, and it hits fast, and best of all, it converts all the damage you do (times 2.5) into a heal to your defensive target. If you get hit, however, this spell loses a lot of its potency, but if you spec hard strength, this thing can deal a lot of damage, and return a good amount of health. Combine this with Divine Strike (a life tap ability), and your HoT's you can keep yourself going almost indefinitely, and after a while your not-insignificant damage will add up.

This, in my opinion, is what makes the Warrior-Priest truly shine. He's almost completely self-reliant, a jack-of-all-trades, and I strongly recommend him if you like soloing, or doing your own thing within a group. He is also very good at one-on-one's if that's something that's important to you.

As for specs, I found both the Grace and Wrath lines to be nicely done, in particular pay attention to the tactic in the Grace Line (Grace of Sigmar), that increases the power of Divine Strike (gain life on hit) to a greater % of healing. There is also a Tactic (Endless Guilt) early in the Wrath Line that makes your base snare (Weight of Guilt) last longer, and make it AoE, which I found interesting.

Note, however, that Career Tactic slots are very important, as you don't get many, so choosing your Tactics wisely is very important for any career.

Okay, on to the negatives. One I've already mentioned, they can't really main heal, though they do a decent job of back-up and group healing, and they keep themselves up well. This class is also, deceptively difficult to play compared to a lot of the other classes, in my opinion, having do deal damage and heal can be micro-intensive (not to mention daunting) if you're trying to heal someone other than yourself... not only that, but you have to do it from melee, something not even the Arch-Mage has to contend with.

Also, our Prayers (Aurs for you WoW Paladins), are trash. Absolute crap, the best one in my opinion is the one that increases armor, but it's pretty questionable. This is especially true when we match them up against the WP mirror, the Disciple of Khaine, that gets a Slow Aura! WTB that skill.

And, lastly, like the Swordmaster, our Snare is slow coming out, as the target must be crippled for it to take effect. It's a pain, but understandable for the sake of balance.

Overall, the Warrior-Priest is a blast, he was soooo very close to being my main, until I found the awesome that is the Ironbreaker, and I'll definately make a WP alt. IMO, the Warrior-Priest may be one of the best classes in the game right now, just don't think of him as a pure healer, I think you'll be disappointed. Play him for what he is, a melee dps/healer hybrid, and I think you'll find a lot of enjoyment in this class just like I did!

That's all for now, good luck and see you soon!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: The Swordmaster

Being a staunch fan of the Swordmaster in the tabletop, and based on the lore in general, you can be sure it was the first character I made upon downloading the WAR Beta. Let me say, firstly, that I was not disappointed, but it was not what I was expecting. Please note this is strictly from an RvR point of view.

I was not as "tanky" as I thought I would be (what did I really expect, I specced Khaine and Hoeth), but I was dealing more damage than I thought, also, so it all evened out. Please, realize, if I specced deep in Vaul and equipped a shield, this would probably have changed. But, I believe that style of tanking is purely the domain of the Ironbreaker, and I believe he does it far better at this point in time.

You're probably already aware of the Swordmaster's mechanic, the "Blade Dance", so I won't explain it further. It's a cool mechanic, I really like it, it's engaging, and requires choice and foresight (always good!). I really love the idea of "chains within chains", and many times you want to know what your finisher (perfect balance technique) is going to be before you start.

Firstly though, let me break a bubble for you. Early on, your finishers are not ZOMG DMG, they are utility, pure and simple. Unfortunately, the ones with the greatest utility (Knockback and Silence), were moved deep into the Vaul and Hoeth lines respectively (BOO!).

Unfortunately, the skill chain is sometimes cumbersome. Your snare is an "Improved Balance" ability, which means it has to be the second ability you use. That means you have to wait a vital global cooldown in order to slow your opponent. This is, simply, not good.

You want to know what is good though? The Swordmaster's damage, holy crap, it's impressive when specced and tacticed (um... sure tacticed is a word right?) correctly. I came into the Swordmaster class wondering (lore wise), why it wasn't Melee DPS, but also accepting the fact that it was going to be a tank, but by God I was not equipping a shield (I have scruples you know!) unless it was for a PvE tanking encounter.

At the current time, I have found two ways to play an effective Swordmaster in RvR (I'm sure there are more, these are the ones that popped out to me):

Khaine for single target, extreme burst dps using Ether Dance. You might not deal as much damage as pure melee dps but with taunt up (and it's pretty much always up) it comes pretty close, and you gain a moderate amount of survivability as well.

Or you spec to become what I like to call the DoT Master of Hoeth, which was my preferred spec, emphasizing DoT's, Blade Enchantment procs, and minor AoE. Throw up taunt, proceed with your chain to debuff Spirit Resistance, then spam Ensorcelled Blow and your snare as necessary... it's disgusting damage.

Overall opinion of the Swordmaster? Fun class, very fun. People will be happy to know that you can, in fact, play this class as DPS (IMO the way it's supposed to be played!). You can, probably, also play this class as a tank in RvR if you really wanted to, but I'm not going to lie: the Swordmaster is seemingly lacking in the CC department compared to the Ironbreaker, and to me, that's what makes an RvR tank.

Well that's it for now, hope I've provided you all with some useful information, and, as always, I'll see you soon!


WAR: First Impressions


Let me start by saying that I had a great time Beta Testing WAR. It was a blast and was, alongside WoW, the most polished Beta I have ever participated in. I experienced a CTD (Crash to Desktop) about once a day, and then one day it happened about every 3 minutes all day long (annoying!). Aside from these few crashes, I had no problems getting the game to run.


I'm not going to lie to you. PvE? For me, a means to an end. And that end is killing another player. That means I want PvE to be quick and painless. And for the most part, in WAR, it really is. The game is very intuitive as far as finding quests, people, and objects. Only one or two quests have had me scratching my head, as to their objectives, and usually a quick read of the full quest text, and/or a little deductive reasoning leads me to my target. Leveling is a little slower than WoW, but with only 40 ranks of PvE, it will probably even out in the end.

I did not get a chance to do any of the High Level Dungeons, so I can't comment on those. I did most of my leveling in the 1-30 levels (using templates after that) and can say it didn't drain me too much (unlike leveling in WoW, which I dreaded). But I would only want to do it a few more times, and I don't foresee a ton of alts (though I will probably go and visit the Destruction Zones in more detail.)

For more info on PQ's keep reading, they're in their own category below.



War really is everywhere. I swear to you, I completed maybe 3 quests on my first character (Swordmaster), before I got a quest to join an RvR scenario "Khaine's Embrace". Now that's what I'm talking about... RvR right out of the gate. I thought it was going to be pretty dumb, honestly, I mean I was like level 3, and had perhaps 4 moves to use, but Mythic promised me I could jump right in a scenario at level 1, and be able to influence the battle. And I'll tell you something: they don't lie.

As soon as I entered the scenario, I was auto-leveled (battle leveled) to level 8. My HP and Damage increased, though I didn't receive any new abilities. Much to my surprise I was right in there dealing damage (and I'm pretty sure I had my snare by that time, if not I did by the second game!).

The game lasted about 1o minutes, and it took me a while to get used to the Scenario itself (the flag areas explode at various intervals). But when I was done, I had gained a PvE level and TWO Renown Levels. I was sold the first time I saw EXP pop-up after killing a player. I immediately played the same scenario two more times, this time avoiding the inevitable flag explosions, and gaining a few more ranks in the process.

The wealth and diversity of the different scenarios is really amazing, and I foresee myself spending a lot of time there. There are some truly unique ideas for game types, so make sure and play them all!

Open World RvR/Keep Sieges:

Not only are the scenarios superb, the Open World RvR areas are amazing. Not only are there tons of objectives to fight over, there are a great deal of quests involving these areas too. Kill x amount of players, scout this area, secure this area, and the best part is that most are repeatable. It's great... just really great. You run in, get flagged, find a small group of friendly players to run around with, and get to capturing!

Now to Keeps... Keeps are awesome. Usually a few more players are involved than I might like, but it's alright, it just feels epic. Catapults are lined up, Oil is dropping on people's heads, you're getting pushed back into your keep to fight side by side with a Lord of the Realm... it's just sick. Last stands in the Lord's room/Top Floor are the stuff of legends. I can't count the number of times a few of us ran in and disrupted Destruction in the middle of their Keep Siege, taking out their healers so the Keep Lord could land the finishing blows on their tanks... epic.

High Level RvR:

High Level RvR proved to be even more engaging. With even more abilities at your disposal, and more experience with your character you can truly become a formidable force. At first, I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed, I mean... it's a freaking battlefield out there. Spells are flying, the blood is pumping in your ears, you're not really sure what you're supposed to be doing... stuff like that. As you keep playing though, you begin to see all the opportunities to employ your (no doubt endless) skill and cunning. The game is, tactically, pretty deep, at least it will be once people figure out how to control their characters and observe the flow of battle.

The first thing I noticed is, most players don't have any sort of "target priority" yet. They'll be up there wailing on the shield-toting Black Orcs, when there's a perfectly squishy Shaman or Squig Hunter only a few feet behind. That will change.

RvR... it's just fun. Chaotic at times (more so than I would like), but definitely fun. I stay away from the zergs, once it gets bigger than about 15 players per side, I usually move on to greener pastures. Note: the game does start to slow a bit with lots of people on screen, barely noticeable with these numbers, but city sieges may get dicey if it gets worse.

Class balance is (and always will be) a work in progress. If I had to say right now, I'd say Order in general has it a little better off than Destruction. Tanks are... disgustingly good? Ranged DPS need a little help, and Melee DPS probably need the most. Healers are looking good for the most part (DoK's and WP's seem like freaking tanks), but Shamans/Archmages need a little "umph" added to their early game.

I will make a quick note, I've fallen in love with the Ironbreaker. His control via Guard, Taunt, Snares, Knockbacks, AoE Knockbacks, and Roots is amazing. His damage potential is also incredibly sick. This will probably be nerfed in the near future, but I still look forward to playing one upon release!

I can't wait to get our little group together and go around taking on all comers in RvR! It's going to be a blast.

Public Quests:

Public Quests are great. They're inventive, they're cool, and they're everywhere. Some of the best loot that I have (aside from RVR gear) comes from the Influence Rewards of PQ's. There are, however, a few problems.

1. If you don't have enough people, you can't get it done, if you have too many people, it takes forever to get the influence you need. Get just the right amount of people doing it, and it's a wonderful experience.

2. At higher levels, the PQ's are a grind. Early levels a few runs (1-3) will max you out, at higher levels... well let's just say it's a lot more. Please, I beg you, make 1-3 the max. Grinding is bad.

3. This one is probably a bit nitpicky, and biased, but here it is. Contribution is screwed up IMO. You can literally place 1st 3 or 4 times in a row and not receive a single piece of loot from the treasure chest at the end, the random rolls FAR outweigh contribution. Also, the loot from lower level PQ's is lackluster, often only a white or "normal" item. At least make it a green, make me feel like its an upgrade.

All in all, PQ's are pretty nice. They really bring people together, and make you feel apart of something bigger than yourself. Fix a few of these problems (the biggest being the grind part), and it'll be golden.

Pro Tip 1:

Step 1: Achieve Rank 10, RR 6. Save your cash, trust me.
Step 2: Go to Tier 2 Keep under your control.
Step 3: Buy the RR 6 RvR Gear.
Step 4: Realize that this gear is godlike.
Step 5: Queue for Scenario in Tier 1.
Step 6: Proceed to dominate anyone not in RR 6 gear.
Step 7: Tell your friends.

Pro Tip 2:

Realize that you must actually spend a Mastery Point (aka click the skill) on the Mastery Ability you want, you don't automatically get it as you go up the ladder. So, the tactic at the 3 slot on the Mastery Tree, actually requires 4 Mastery Points, 3 to get there, and 1 to purchase the skill.


WAR is a very solid game right now. With a little tweaking and balance, I have no doubt it will be incredible. I'm really excited about release, and I'll see you all there.

General PvE: 8.5/10
Low Level RvR: 8.5/10
High Level RvR: 9.5/10
Public Quests: 7.5/10

Total Score: 8.5/10

The White Tower is Back!

Hello everyone, it's good to be back! As you may have guessed from my absence, I got accepted into closed beta a while back. After playing I wanted to come right back here and tell you all exactly what it was like, and tell you all the wonderful and terrible details! Naturally I couldn't do that until the NDA lifted yesterday, so here I am! Look for more stuff later today.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Order Strikes Back: Warrior Priest

Of all the warriors of men, few are more feared by the forces of Chaos than the Warrior-Priest. Wielding the divine power of Sigmar's Light, the warrior-priest wades courageously into the thick of battle, fire in his eyes, striking down his enemies in righteous fury. Just as the Light can bring death to the enemies of Sigmar, so too can it bring life to his allies. When touched by the divine power of the warrior-priest, grievous wounds close, broken bones mend, and weary resignation gives way to renewed hope and vigor.

The Warrior-Priest is the shield of the Empire, it is against him that the forces of Chaos will throw themselves time and again. But such is his faith and courage that he will not falter even against the gravest of enemies. He is no longer an ordinary man, for he has seen the face of Sigmar, glimpsed the power of divinity, and been touched by its holy Light. As such, the warrior-priest is above pain and beyond fear. His faith is unyielding, beyond the the power of Chaos to corrupt.

Where the Warrior-Priest walks, the darkness of Chaos gives way before him, and men of the Empire take heart at his coming, for with his fiery words comes a promise: that he will never yield before the forces of Chaos, that he will give his life to protect those who fight beside him, be they Man, Elf or Dwarf.

The warrior-priest is a beacon of light in dark times, spreading hope to a beleaguered Empire and its allies.

You can find more information about the warrior-priest at the main site: here.
You can find a list of possible Warrior-Priest abilities: here and here.