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.


Friday, July 11, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: Things We Did Not Want to Hear

The WAR fansite community is abuzz today over Mark Jacob's earlier announcements. You can find those in an interview here. I'm sure you've already seen it. I'm sure you have an opinion about it, and I'm sure it's not super-duper positive (if it is, you may need a reality check).

I'm going to skip the crap, and get to the part I'm upset over: the cutting of classes.

I have to admit I had to read the passage three or four times to make sure I'd gotten it right. I'm not going to lie, it seems like publicity suicide. I'm pissed and I really didn't have any intention of playing those classes. If they'd cut Swordmaster, I would probably have thrown a hissy fit right there at my computer, logged into my Amazon account, and canceled my pre-order on the spot, and I'm not usually prone to rash decision making, or lording my "customer rights" over the developer.

My group got lucky, we had one guy who was thinking he might go Hammerer, but that's it. I can only imagine the people who had their heart set on one of the cut classes, or guilds who had several people affected by the cuts.

I have to assume that Mythic had an excellent reason for cutting these classes, they said the classes cut were not distinctive or strong enough. This tells me there was a problem with the classes' mechanics. Does this bode ill for the Ironbreaker, who shares a mechanic with the recently cut Blackguard, or the Chosen who shares a mechanic with KotBS?

What exactly wasn't working with the melee DPS (hammerer, choppa)? Were they having problems getting kited, or was it too difficult to balance their survivability (medium armor) with their damage? Why were the stealth (Witch Elves and Hunters) and pet classes (White Lion) not having similar problems? What about the Marauder?

Were the hammerer and choppa's mechanics giving them class specific problems? Did their momentum mechanic make them early and frequent targets for focus fire? Did they not have adequate mitigation or escape mechanisms?

Is it possible that the melee dps were so fragile they couldn't make it to their targets without stealth or a built in tank (aka pet)? Or that they had to resort to running in well after the fight had already commenced to avoid focus fire?

Of course, we do have to salute Mythic for doing what they think is best. Cutting classes must have been very difficult for them to do, and I'm sure they knew the response would be widely negative. Mythic's commitment to excellence is admirable, let's hope it doesn't bite them in the ass.

Look for more on this later,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Greenskin: Bo's Balancing Act II

Check out this article by Bo over at the Greenskin! His Balancing Act articles are top notch! You can find it: here!

In this article he tackles the delicate art of class balance, don't miss it!


Warhammer Info: Class Abilities and More!

Tons of great information in this post, ranging from class specific abilities to general game play mechanics. I don't know if this information is all that new, but I certainly hadn't heard much of it. So please go over to Warhammer Info and take a look if you haven't already!

You can find the post: here!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: Collision Detection Part I

Collision detection, yes please. To me, one of WAR's main selling points. Collision detection is awesome, it creates a more tactical game where positioning is key, adding a new layer of depth and strategy to game play. Not only this, but it creates a less cluttered game space because people can't pile on top of each other so it becomes near impossible to target them (talk about frustrating).

Collision detection allows you to clog a choke point, and hold off, and perhaps even help you defeat, a larger enemy force. Not only this, but you can keep your healers, support, and ranged DPS out of harm's reach! So why don't all games have collision detection?

Unfortunately, collision detection is difficult to properly implement because of the potential for same-side griefing. Yeah, those jerks who block off the bank or auction house all day just to be douches, ruin an otherwise fantastic feature.

So the question becomes, how do we implement collision detection, but limit the players' ability to grief his own faction?

WAR has one answer, turn collision detection on only against enemies.

I have to admit, when I hard WAR was only going to feature enemy collision detection, I was a little disappointed. I already hear you clamoring, "WAR BASHING? Not on my watch!". Just hear me out.

I think the greatest thing about (full) collision detection is that it allows a smaller force in the right position (say a hallway, or a bridge), to engage larger forces on more equal terms. Tight spaces don't allow your enemies' numbers to work for him.

So what is this really? A zerg counter. Numbers don't matter quite so much when they can only bring a few of them to bear. Eventually, they will probably overwhelm your position. Your tanks will run out of hit points and your healers will run out of mana (or should I say action points!). Hopefully, however, you've managed to take out a few of the enemy and slow their advance without losing too many of your own.

Enemy only collision detection negates this strategic advantage altogether. It doesn't matter if there's only room for four people in the hallway if 1,000 people can stack on top of them, and their archers and spell casters can fling their full arsenal at you despite their teammates being in the way (a separate gripe for another day).

Stay tuned for Part II, coming later, for other ideas on Collision Detection Implementation.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

White Tower of Hoeth Featured in Chaos Cast 3!

That's right folks, Syp, Snafzg, and Keen have put out their newest WAR Podcast and they were nice enough to talk about us here at the White Tower! Also in that podcast, questions from viewers, and an interview with Garthilk over at WHA!

Lots of interesting stuff here guys, so make sure to check it out: here!

Thanks guys!

Monday, June 30, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: Gear vs. Skill Part II

This article is a continuation of Gear vs. Skill Part I, which you can find: Here! So here's our problem. We need to balance gear so that it provides something for players to keep striving for, but at the same time, we need to keep it from over-powering those who attain it.

Now that's a quandary if I've ever seen one, but there are a few possibilities:

1. Don't make gear upgrades the reason people want to keep playing. This one seems pretty obvious. WAR looks like it's making a step in the right direction here. People will probably play just because the campaign is dynamic and fun, incorporating the best elements of RvR, PvE, and Realm Pride/Socialization.

2. Make gear about customization, not power. Have items be similar to your Masteries/Tactics, and allow them to further differentiate and customize your character. If you really hate casters, for example, maybe you can sacrifice some armor for spell resistances, and so you seek out a set with higher spell resistances bonus. Or maybe if you feel too squishy as a caster, maybe you can sacrifice some spell damage for hit points. This allows you to customize your gear to your play style, while allowing you to embrace your class role as well.

3. Have gear reduce your weaknesses, instead of increase your strengths. In a rock, paper, scissors environment, or indeed any environment where balance is desired, it's not always possible to achieve. Let's say you're a Tank, and you're usually pretty good against Melee DPS, but weaker against ranged DPS. Having better gear should mitigate your weaknesses in match-ups that are not usually favorable for you (ranged dps), instead of giving you even more advantages over classes you already do well against (melee dps).

There you have it folks, a few ideas on how to make gear desirable without being overpowering. If you have something to contribute, please do!


The White Tower Speaks: Gear vs. Skill Part I

Before you read this, make sure to pop on over to the The Greenskin! and read Bo's article. It's all sorts of amazing, and provides a suitable base for what I'm about to talk about.

The eternal debate, Gear vs. Skill: the truth is, there's not much of a debate, as Bo mentioned, there are very few people who are going to say "I don't want to beat people because I'm 'better' than them. I want to beat them because I have better gear."

Does anyone really say that? To me, that statement makes no sense. When I beat someone, I want it to be because of my deeper understanding of game mechanics, proper use and timing of skills, solid team work, and generally just being faster or smarter than my opponent.

Does this always happen? Of course not. There is always someone out there smarter or faster than you. There will always be people who are capable of beating you, no matter how good you (think you?) are. That's a given. But what about the people who beat you, not because they out thought you, or outmaneuvered you, but simply because their gear allows them an unfair advantage over you.

That's what gets me. I can play a match-up perfectly: anticipating CC, interrupting heals, maximizing burst damage etc. While my opponent makes numerous mistakes: forgetting about diminishing returns, letting a heal get counter-spelled, and still win, simply because his gear allows him to take 3 or 4 times more punishment than me, or deal out twice as much damage.

No one (at least not me) wants to lose that way, and I really hope no one wants to win that way either.

But let's face it, gear is a large part of MMO's, it always will be. People have to have something to strive for, a reason to keep playing. Who's going to keep playing for an item that makes one stat .001 percent better? A few, maybe, but what's the point?

That's the problem, there's got to be a balance. How can we balance gear so that it provides a means for players to keep having something to strive for while keeping the gear differential in check?

Come back for the next installment of The White Tower Speaks: Gear vs. Skill Part II

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Order Strikes Back: The White Lion

The Elves of Chrace are different than many of their brethren. They, more than most, feel the primal calling of the land itself, the beauty and magnificence of nature. The woodsmen of Chrace walk many paths: warrior, hunter, and guardian. Indeed, their strength and courage is renowned throughout the land of Ulthuan.

It is this courage and skill that earned them their position as the bodyguards of the Phoenix King himself. In a time long passed, these "White Lions", as they came to be known, saved Caledor, then Phoenix King, from a band of marauding Dark Elf assassins. Many gave their lives defending him when they could have fled and saved themselves from certain death.

Not just any elf of Chrace can take up the Huntsman's Axe and ask to join the king's guard, nay, any who would serve the Phoenix King must first go out into the wild and defeat one of the feared and dangerous Lions of Chrace in single combat, and claim its pelt as a badge of honor. Do not think these hunters heartless, however, for the white lions are dangerous creatures and pose a serious threat to any who encounter them. Such is their respect for these magnificent creatures that even in death the hunters embrace the lion's spirit, taking its name as their own, honoring the beast's courage and strength.

For some, however, the link between lion and elf is stronger still... some of the young lions are taken in by the hunters of Chrace and trained to pull the great chariots of the Elves (those not of Tiranoc). For this to happen, however, they must first be trained. This training forms an intense bond between elf and lion, and as the two adventure and hunt together, the bond grows stronger still. At the pinnacle of this relationship, these two symbiotic beings become as one. Claw, tooth, and axe strike out in perfect harmony, creating a flurry of steel and beast unlike any other.

To fight either the Axeman or Lion alone would prove a daunting task, to fight both at the same time? Truly any who wish for such a battle must yearn for a swift and brutal demise, for that is all they will find at the hands of the White Lion and his companion.

I'm Back!

After a short break, I'm back and ready to get at it again, so keep checking back for more sweet articles!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Order Strikes Back: Shadow Warriors

The Shadow Warriors of Nagarythe. The name is spoken in hushed tones, even amongst their own people, and whispered in dread amongst their Dark Elven foes. And the Dark Elves are right to fear them. These elite warriors are all that remain of the once great kingdom of Nagarythe, the ancestral home of those elves who fell to darkness, and followed Malekith into Naggaroth. In one terrible day, the Shadow Warriors lost everything: their lord, their land, and their honor.

Betrayed by Malekith and his Dark Magic, the lands of Nagarythe were swallowed by the fury of the oceans. The seas crashed down upon the shores of Nagarythe, consuming them as Malekith made his escape with his followers. Those who were not swayed by him remained, and swore an oath of vengeance: that they would never rest until the betrayer, and all those who followed him, were destroyed.

Consumed by hatred and malice, these "Shadow Warriors" continue to wage a guerrilla war against the Dark Elves of Naggaroth. They were never many, but such is their skill and cunning, that they emerge from the darkness like angels of death and vengeance, striking down all in their path, and disappear again like shadows in the night.

These elite warriors are consummate marksmen and scouts, and are adept at harrying and harassing the enemy. All too often their missions require them to engage forces far larger than their own. Once they whittle down an enemies' number with countless guerrilla attacks, they prepare for the final assault. After releasing their initial volley from concealment, the Shadow Warriors charge forward, releasing their second volley on the run, and before the first arrow even finds its mark, the second is already in flight. Relying on the death and confusion caused by their initial volleys, the Shadow Warriors wade into hand-to-hand combat all too willingly.

Their hate gives them incredible strength, and they relentlessly rain blows down upon the heads of their enemies. The Shadow Warriors take no prisoners, and once their bloody work is done, they quickly disappear into the darkness with no more than a whisper marking their passage.

Even after such a victory, the Shadow Warriors are dark and brooding, there is no mirth in their nomadic camps, no joyous song or dance. Indeed, it is rumored that Shadow Warriors never laugh, and smile only in the presence of death itself: their own or their enemy's, and you can be certain that if a Shadow Warrior lays dying, the corpses of many Dark Elves will be littered around his own.

Beware these nomads of Nagarythe, foes of Ulthuan, for they will never forget their oath, nor will they forgive your betrayal. So watch your back, evil one, or you may unexpectedly find a Nagarythe arrow (or two) planted there...


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Order Strikes Back: Archmage

The winds of magic blow strongly in the Warhammer world, unfortunately, they blow straight from the Realms of Chaos, making one of Order's strongest weapons incredibly risky to wield. The magic of Warhammer is dangerous and unpredictable, and puts the very soul of the user in dire peril. Reach too far, and your soul will be devoured by the very Gods of Chaos themselves. Nor is the study of magic a simple task, even the most talented Bright Wizard requires a life time of study to truly master the Path of Flame, and that is only one of the eight winds of magic.

The True Power of the winds of magic, however, lies not in their separation, but in their combination. Qhaysh, the magic of the High Elven Archmage, represents the pinnacle of mortal magical might and combines the powers of all eight winds into one, pure, uncorrupted force.

Of all the sorcerers in the Warhammer World, only the High Elven Archmages, and the enigmatic Slann Lords of Lustria, have ever managed to conjure this awesome, and nigh unstoppable power. Such is the might of High Magic, that it can move mountains, separate the seas, destroy entire armies, and even slow the flow of time itself.

Such is the skill of the Archmage that he need not fear his own magic turning against him at an inopportune moment, his control over his art is absolute. Indeed, such is the power and purity of his magic that his soul has nothing to fear from the Chaos Gods, his magic is beyond even their corrupting powers.

The very essence of the Archmage is balance, interweaving the positive and negative forces at his command into a single harmonious mastery of life and death, allowing him to simultaneously bring death to his enemies and life to his allies, single-handedly turning the tide of battle.

Choose the path of the Archmage and you will no doubt become one of the greatest magi who has ever walked the face of the Warhammer World. You will be able rain down the ancient and powerful High Magic upon your foes, and bring your allies back from the very brink of death itself.

It is true that there are others who wield magic of similar power to your own: the Dark Elven Sorceresses, the Magi of Chaos. But remember this: theirs is the power of darkness and corruption, bought at the price of an eternity of unquestioning servitude and despair.

So when you stand against the Forces of Destruction, remember that your magic was not bought, it was earned. Your true power stems not from the Powers of Chaos, but from your own wisdom, inner strength, and force of will.


"While Lesser races must study magic in its corrupted broken form, our Mages harness its power as pure mystical energy. Our minor spells, those Lores taught to the humans by mighty Teclis, are but a pale reflection of the power that can be wielded by an Asur fully trained in the magical arts of the White Tower."

- Loremaster Haydrel, Archmage of the White Tower

Friday, June 20, 2008

Articles from Book of Grudges and The Greenskin!

Hey guys, if you haven't already, be sure to check out these two awesome articles:

Book of Grudges: Hardest Sell of All, PvP to non-PvPers

As well as:

The Greenskin: Bo's Gear vs. Skill

Both very interesting topics, I'm probably going to write a little something myself on the issue of Gear vs. Skill, so keep checking back!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Order Strikes Back: Swordmasters of Hoeth

Welcome back to today's section of Order Strikes Back. Today I'm going to highlight one of my favorite units in the Warhammer Universe, the Swordmasters of Hoeth. For official Swordmaster information go: Here!

The first thing you should say about the Swordmasters is very simple: they are consummate warriors, spending their entire lives searching for serenity through meditation and feats of martial prowess. This lifetime dedication manifests itself in their nearly superhuman speed and skill, and even allows them the use of minor magics.

That's right, folks, they are the Samurai (if the samurai could use sweet magical powers) and Jedi of the Warhammer World. Not only are they the greatest martial artists the world has ever seen, wielding their signature weapon (the great sword) with incredible ease and grace, they have even managed to bend the chaotic winds of magic to their awesome will.

Legends about the Swordmasters of Hoeth abound: Some say they can cut a candle in half without disturbing the flame, others that they can fight in complete darkness, guided only by the faint whisper of their foe's breathing. Still others whisper that a fully trained Swordmaster can draw his sword, decapitate his foe, and return the blade to its scabbard all in the blink of an eye. Naturally, no enemy can confirm these stories... as they are all dead.

In battle, they are deadly opponents, eager to practice their legendary skills on worthy foes, in an arena where there is no room for second best. This is the true test of their mettle, skill, and honor, that these warrior-ascetics eagerly seek out. Because in the end, they know who will emerge the victor...

So, tremble in fear, enemies of the Swordmaster. He's faster than you, he's smarter than you, and worst of all, he knows it. Don't blink, destruction fans, or he'll be the last thing you'll ever see.


"From the darkness I cry for you.
The tears you shed for us
are the blood of the elven kind.
O Isha,
here I stand
on the last shore,
a sword in my hand.
Ulthuan shall never fall."
-Swordmasters of Hoeth

Order Strikes Back: Introduction

Destruction junkies are everywhere! I'm sure you've seen the polls, read the forum posts, and generally heard the rumblings of distant thunder when it comes to Population Imbalance. While it's probably too early to tell (but not too early to theorize!) if any one side will severely outnumber the other, it is pretty plain to see that Mythic is really hyping up Destruction.

Debate all you want, if you saw the same Cinematic Trailer I did, you know exactly what I'm talking about. So I think it's time for some counter-hype. That's right, it's time for a little Order Strikes Back...

In this recurring section, "Order Strikes Back," I'm going to highlight a few of Order's greatest Heroes, and explain exactly why Order is just as tenacious, unyielding, and undeniably awesome as the forces of Destruction.

Oh, and we manage it while outnumbered and surrounded. 60 : 40? Good odds for any Spartan, am I right?

Good luck, Destruction, you're going to need it.


White Tower of Hoeth: Week in Review

Hey guys, I hope you've enjoyed what's been written here so far. This first week has been pretty hectic. I had a lot of stuff I wanted to put out there for you guys to read, and a lot of sites I wanted you to visit! But now after the opening week rush here at the White Tower, we'll be settling back to a normal pace. Don't worry, plenty of great articles to come, and even a few guest speakers!

For those who don't have time to read everything here at the White Tower, be sure and take time to read these two feature articles!

Order vs. Overpowered Demi-Gods of Untouchable Awesome (Destruction)


Several Pretty Good Reasons Why Warhammer Looks Like it Might Be Awesome (Most Likely)

Take a look, read 'em over (yeah I know they're long, my B), and let me know what you think! More to come here at White Tower of Hoeth!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Defense of the Ancients: Why aren't these guys getting paid?

What is DoTA:

For those of you who have never played this little gem, I suggest you look it up. DoTA, or Defense of the Ancients is a custom map for Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. You play as a single, unique, hero (either randomly generated, picked by you, or chosen via draft variant), and you and your team (up to four other players) attempt to take on an enemy team of equal number. There are three lanes that constantly spawn NPC "Creeps" for each team, as well as neutral creeps placed around the map. There is also one "Super" Creep placed roughly halfway between both teams. His name is Roshan, and he drops an item that pretty much gives you a free life.

The objective of the game is to drive your forces into the enemy base and ultimately destroy their "Ancient", killing enemy heroes, buildings, and creeps along the way. Overcoming these obstacles awards you with experience and higher levels (and thus more and better abilities) as well as gold which you use to purchase a wide variety of items to customize your character, and make him/her especially powerful.

I can honestly say no other "mod" has kept me entertained for so long, far longer, in fact, than Warcraft III itself did. All I can say is, wow... if you've never played, and have a copy of Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, go download it: here.

Why is DoTA so Amazing:

First of all, it's incredibly fun, and it's reminicent of of MMO PvP without the hassle of leveling a character over several weeks/months. So if you've only got 30-60 minutes, you can play a game of DoTA, and get out the door.

Secondly, for a custom map (indeed for most any game) it is incredibly well balanced. Some people might disagree with me here and that's fine. I've been playing a long time, but I don't play in the Pro Leagues (Yeah... they have those. Heck DoTA even has its own song), so, by all means, take what I say with a grain of salt.

Yes, there are some bad match-ups, but when you're playing 5v5 a lot of those discrepancies disappear. Yeah sometimes your team is lucky and you have characters that do well against your enemies, but if the other team is better than you, chances are they're going to win.

Why, you ask? Because skill (or should I say knowledge?) in this game is huge, and there's a lot to know and understand before you become truly skilled (please don't think I'm calling myself "truly skilled", really, there are some nasty players lurking out in cyberspace). First of all, every character has some means to overcome any enemy strategy. For example if your opponent is spamming you pretty hard with nukes and dots (generally being annoying as crap), you can level up stats instead of one of your core abilities (which increases your HP, amongst other things), or buy HP regeneration items to counter them.

That's something that's very interesting about DoTA. Items are, all at once, the great equalizer and the great divide. If you're going up against a lot of magic users, you can buy an item that reduces magic damage on you by 30% (That's huge!), and their magic attacks will be much less effective. If you're going up against a melee dps (High dmg, low hp) you can get an item which reflects melee damage back at the attacker. There are literally items for every situation. There's always something good to get, either to make you better, or to make your enemies less effective. VERY COOL!

The other side to items is, if a character is getting lots of money and his opponents aren't, he can become very broken, very quickly. A character can literally never take part in a huge fight the whole game, but just be killing neutral creeps in the woods, and come out a monstrous powerhouse towards the middle of the game. It's just something else to keep in mind. If a player is doing really well, you should try to kill him to slow his flow of money, it's a trade-off. Do I level in the woods and try to get broken, hoping my team can fend them off 4v5 or do I go and help out. It's all part of the strategy, and all part of what makes it fun.

Teamwork in DoTA is huge, another reason why I love to play. My roommates and I play together as often as we can, and you'd be amazed what even two co-ordinated people can do to the randos (legitimate word, I swear) on Get five of us in a game, on the same side, you'd better hope the other team is in vent together...

In my opinion, DoTA should be looked at as a model for all future PvP MMO's. Take whatever you can from this incredible game and turn it into something we all want to see. So far, I can see a pretty interesting correlation between DoTA and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, and I use it a lot to explain to people how I think (and hope) WAR will be. Every time I use the DoTA example people seem to nod their heads and say, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun."

I can't help but agree.


Waiting on Warhammer

I'm sure a lot of you are starting to feel it as well. Yeah I'm talking about the ever agonizing wait for the release of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, or at least a beta invite! If you're like me, you're scrounging for another game to play, to pass the time between now and some indeterminate date in Q3/4 2008.

What I've been playing:

World of Warcraft: Yeah I tricked you, I haven't been playing WoW. My roommates and I canceled our accounts after the last Arena Tournament. Strong start, disappointing finish. We didn't make it, barely (relative term, lol). In the end though it wasn't luck, we got outplayed by some pretty amazing teams. Well played! R.I.P: Sweet Pair of Crits, you gave it your all!

Age of Conan: Short version. Bought game. Liked first 20 levels. Didn't see much beyond that worth playing. Check back in a few months if WAR isn't released yet.

After bailing on AoC I've found myself returning to some PC classics, as well as embracing my Console side:

1. Defense of the Ancients (DoTA): I love this, now incredibly popular, custom map for WC III. I'm addicted, I swear. I'll do a little article later this week on DoTA: What is it? Why is this game so good? and Why MMO's should take a couple pages out of the DoTA play book.

2. Knights of the Old Republic I & II: Gotta love the story of the original, gotta love the game play of the second one. Jedi, Lightsabers, and Force Powers... can you go wrong?

3. Call of Duty 4: Indulging my inner "twitch gamer" with, what I consider, the next generation of FPS. COD4 is quite a blast. Hone dem skillz!

4. Halo II & III: I never embraced Halo III, but I've been playing it a little recently and I'm starting to enjoy it more, but I'll always miss pistol snipes from Halo I, and I'll miss the smack down I laid on people from Halo II.

5. Super Smash Bros. Melee: SSBM is amazing, best fighting game I've ever played hands down. Yes, I play Marth and Shiek. Yes I wavedash, L-cancel, and chain grab, and yes, I think Brawl is Melee for Dummies. Sorry, just my opinion. Don't take offense, but really, why do you play Brawl when you can play Melee? =)

So, what have you been playing?


Order vs. Overpowered Demi-Gods of Untouchable Awesome (Destruction)

Heh, sorry for the inflammatory title... made ya look! I've talked to a lot of people, asking them their opinions on the Order vs. Chaos match-up. A year ago, when I introduced my roommates to the game, the first thing I did was show them the Cinematic Trailer.

The comments were as follows:

"Wow, that retarded orc that slammed into the wall at the beginning? Totally you, James."
*retarded grin* "Yup, or the guy firing the retarded one into the wall, cause I'm wily like that."

Greenskin vs. Dwarf:
"Wow, never seen a Dwarf like that, he's kinda cool. Think I might play that."
"He's not in the game, they scrapped him."
"Lameyndor (a hybrid of the words Lame and Gryffindor. Before you ask: I have no idea.)

Dark Elf vs. High Elf Fight:
"Is that hottie dual wielding? Oh my God, did she just deflect magic with her swords? Class found."

At the Chaos Chosen Entrance:
"Dear God, what is that thing?"
"That can't be human..."
"I'm changing my class from dual wielding hottie to whatever that hulking piece of awesome is...."
"That priest is about to get rocked."
"Dude, you always think evil's going to win."
"Yeah, cause they do."

At the Chaos Chosen getting his first hits in:
"Told you, that priest is screwed."
"Not over yet, that guy's weapon is on FIYAHHH!"

At the glowing eyes and burning weapon:
"Oh Schnap."
"What now negative Nancy? What now?
"He's still going to lose... if he doesn't that's such a copout."
"Dude, that priest is totally you."

I, of course, had already seen the trailer. I laughed and said, "More than you know."

At this point the Chosen knees the Warrior-Priest in the gut, and pounds his face in:
"Wow, I totally meant that when I thought you were going to win..."
"Didn't see that one coming..."
"Called that shit..."
"Really... who isn't going to play that?"

*sheepish grin*

"Wow, you totally want us to play Order don't you."
"Um well, that'd be cool..."
"No, not cool, man."
"Don't play with my emotions like that... really. Behemoth of Ungodly Amazing, or guy with broken face, hmm..."
"Party foul, for real."

All humor aside, these guys are Gamer and MMO veterans (most of them hardcore power-gamers), and even they were swayed by the undeniable awesomeness factor of Destruction, and I'm sure many more will be as well.

Games Workshop and by extension Mythic has gone out of their way to say, "Order is in dire straights. Chaos' victory is inevitable."

But, in a way there's also some massive underdog appeal from the side of Order, very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, Zulu, or 300. Just from a lore perspective, it's cool to think that even though you're outnumbered, surrounded on all sides, you won't give up. I'm reminded of this quote from 300 (forgive the cheesiness):

"The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed."

I know a lot of people watch that Trailer and say, "Wow, that's OP. No duh, everyone's going to be Destruction." But I look at it like this, "Wow, now I've got something worth fighting for."


Population Poll and Analysis at Greenskin!

The guys over at Greenskin! released this poll they garnered over at the Warhammer Alliance Forums. It's some pretty interesting stuff, and if you haven't seen it yet, I suggest you go take a look. It paints a pretty interesting picture of what might happen come release time.

You can check out that poll here:

Class Poll

Discuss here:

Forum Thread Warhammer Alliance

Now I should caution you that this is merely speculation at this point, as we can be pretty sure that the players who are active this early in the game's development (aka before release) are not a completely reliable representation of Warhammer Online's final population.

There is a lot of Theorycrafting (uh oh, WoW reference) going on, and while these numbers are not representative of the whole population, I think the author makes several solid points. For example, I think they are exactly right in saying that it seems the developers are hyping Destruction a great deal more than Order. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a hardcore Order fan, but even I drool over the models for some the Destruction Classes (eg: Black Guard, Chosen).

But anyway, get on over there, look it over, and add your own two-cents!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Chaos Cast 2: Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By

Chaos Cast 2: Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By, just released! For those of you who don't know this is a Podcast put on by a the "trio of bloggers": Snafzg, Syp, and Keen. Check it out as they talk about what initially drew them to Warhammer Online, what Classes they want to play, Population Imbalance, Worries Concerning Warhammer, as well as listener questions.

It's an interesting listen, so go check it out:

Q&A From Baltimore Games Day 2008

This just in from Baltimore Games Day 2008. Check out this Q&A with Josh and Jeff, roughly 58 minutes long!

Q&A with Josh and Jeff


Book of Grudges Article: How to Take Criticism

There's an interesting article over at Book of Grudges you should check out:

How to Take Criticism (From a Pro):

This is a response to the, rather scathing, preview Warhammer Online received from PC Gamer in the June 2008 issue. It's not very long and is a pretty provocative piece. Make sure to check it out.


Check Out What's Going on at Massively!

Massively has a fantastic section on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. If you haven't already checked them out, you should head over and take a look:

Massively: Warhammer Online

In particular you should check out these posts:

Massively Goes to War: Wrap-up

This article sums up their WAR week, where they discuss many prevalent topics including: Tome of Knowledge, Crafting, Public Quests, Capital Cities, and my personal favorite, Every Class Explained! This is just a small selection of the articles. If you read just one (massively huge) article about Warhammer this week, this is a great place to start.

50 Warhammer Online Tidbits from Games Day 2008

A few little tidbits of knowledge from the Baltimore Games Day 2008. A lot of oddball stuff in here, so read close! This article also contains links to a short (6 minute) preview of the Q&A by Jeff and Josh!

Warhammer Online's Realm Imbalance Fears

And lastly, check out this article if you want to hear more discussion about the dreaded consequences of realm population imbalance!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Several Pretty Good Reasons Why Warhammer Looks Like it Might Be Awesome (Most Likely):

Hello everyone, this is Stormcrow here at The White Tower of Hoeth! Today I'm going to talk to you about a few factors that I think will make Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning a success. First, let's look at a few things that go into making a great game (MMO).

1. Show me the MONEY! Let's face it folks, if you want to make a great game, you've got to have the capital to make it happen, captain. At first I was a little worried about how much money would be going into Age of Reckoning, but once I learned EA had teamed up with Mythic, I knew the money would be in the bag.

2. Experience: If you want to make a great game, you've gotta have experience. Some things you just simply can't get right the first time. There are just some things you can't see coming. Luckily for us, Mythic has already produced an excellent RvR game, and can overcome many of the pitfalls from Dark Age of Camelot, meanwhile lending their otherwise excellent features to WAR (read: keeps).

3. Time Spent: It's said you can't rush greatness. Hopefully this is the case for WAR. A lot of people are upset about the delays, and it is true that delay doesn't necessarily mean a better game. I think we need only look at the Dev Team to see how dedicated they are to Warhammer Online. Jeff Hickman has said on many occasions, "If it's not done, it's not getting released." Despite all the Blizzard hate running amok on forums and blogs, I think it's good Mythic has taken a page from Blizzard's play book in this case.

4. Devoted Developers: Never have I felt more in touch with a development team, and never have I seen such diversity among the "faces" of any game. On the one hand you have the boisterous Paul Barnett whose excitement and fervor seems to know no bounds. What I really like about Paul is that he seems to draw in those new to MMO's without scaring them away with overly technical language. On the other hand you have the (moderately?) more serious Jeff Hickman who really hits those technical nails on the head (when he can!) and really seems to answer questions as forthrightly and honestly as possible. And then, somewhere in the middle, taking the best from both worlds, is Josh Drescher.

There are other faces, of course, Mark Jacobs won my respect when he responded to some forum posts bashing his people (Go Mark). And I've never heard someone so excited about their job than Carrie, the creator of the ToK (Tome of Knowledge). When you have people who care that much about what they do, they moderate themselves. They know what they're making is going to be quality.

5. Rich Intellectual Property: Warcraft.... Star Wars.... Lord of the Rings... Warhammer. It's difficult (impossible?) to make a beautiful, rich, world from scratch. Thank goodness the developers in these games didn't have to. The lore practically writes itself, ancient battlefields and vicious blood feuds are common place in the Warhammer Universe.

So there you have it folks. If you ever start to get down, wondering if this game is going to make it, stop focusing on details, those come with Open Beta, and the dropping of the NDA. Understand that there are many elements that go into making a game, and Warhammer is poised in a market that is desperately looking for something new, exciting, and provocative. If Warhammer releases, and is a solid, polished, and fun game at launch, I think we can safely say that it will be around for a long time to come.

Thanks for reading,

Collector's Edition Pre-Order Problems and Fixes

I hear a lot of people are having some problems entering their Pre-Order codes for Open Beta, so I decided to share my somewhat troublesome experiences and how I fixed them! First off, I ordered my CE from Amazon, so this may be specific to them only. I ordered the CE no problem, and went looking for my codes. I didn't get anything in my e-mail, so I went looking around the website for my codes.

They were locked away in the "Downloads" section... why they were there, I may never know. But I found them. One was for Open Beta, One for the head start, and One for the in game Items. Much to my dismay I saw the Open Beat code was set to expire on the 10th of June. This happened to be about 4-5 minutes away from when I ordered. So I was like, "Crap, better get this in."

I copied and pasted my code. Invalid. I was like, wtf is going on. Eventually I realized the code was being cut off on the edge of the screen. I had to open the same page in Internet Explorer (I use Firefox), and once I did that I was able to get all the letter/numbers.

I was relieved. At least I got my beta code in. So I tried the other two. Those were giving me invalid code as well. I was perplexed to say the least, but I ultimately figured out I couldn't input those codes until I got my actual Warhammer Online Account Information.

As it turns out, the dates were bogus anyway. Whew!

Hope this helps,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

An Introduction to Warhammer Online

Hi there, everyone, I'm Stormcrow, one of the staff here at the Tower of Hoeth, and I'm here today to talk to you about Warhammer Online. Big surprise right? The Warhammer Online in big bold letters at the top of the page along with iconic pictures and phrases generously borrowed (read: stolen) from EAMythic (the Developer) and Games Workshop (the IP) probably gave it away, huh?

This is just a little introduction to players who may have heard about Warhammer Online and aren't really sure what it's about, and don't want to spend hours sifting through several years worth of information. Or you may be a "Waiting on Warhammer" veteran who is trying to remember all the truly awesome things that are going into the game. Either way, here we go!

Warhammer Online is an MMORPG being released by EAMythic in the Fall of 2008. The game has been in production (in its current form) since mid 2005. The game focuses on RvR (PvP on a massive scale), and has several unique features that should keep players entertained for a long time to come. But enough with that, let's get to what really sets Warhammer apart from other MMO's.

Warhammer's Tagline is at once both simple and eloquent: "War is everywhere."

The game features the timeless battle between good and evil (Order vs. Destruction), and I'm not talking about Warcraft's "Noble Savages." I'm talking big, brutish, hulking death dealers that know niether pity nor remorse. Even the so-called "good guys" have an edgy, anti-hero, feel about them that literally screams awesome.

There are three races for each side. Order is represented by the Empire (semi-traditional human race), High Elves, and Dwarves. Evil is represented by Chaos (humans corrupted by dark and powerful energies), Dark Elves, and the Greenskins (a mix of Orcs and Goblins).

Ugh, another game with Elves, Dwarves and Orcs... what is this World of Warcraft 2.0? I think not! The Warhammer Fantasy IP (intellectual property) has been around since 1983! This world is ancient, deadly, and filled with incredible lore and bitter rivalries. An excellent setting for any MMO!

In fact, I think this is a great time to show you the Official Warhammer Online Cinematic Trailer. If you've never seen this video, I must say, you're in for a treat. Go ahead and watch it now!

Watch the Cinematic Trailer: Here!

Whoa... epic, right? I have to say, every time I watch that trailer I get shivers. It starts off pretty silly, showing the Greenskin Choppa getting catapulted into a fortress wall, but gets down to business quickly as it pans down to the conflict between the Greenskin Black Orc and the Dwarven Slayer (a class, that sadly, didn't make it into the game). The cinematic quickly jumps over to the elven conflict, showcasing a Dark Elven Witch Elf fighting a High Elven Arch-Mage, and finally comes to an epic conclusion as we watch the Chaos Chosen battle the Empire Warrior-Priest. I admit, every time I watch the video I keep hoping the ending changes. =)

If you're like me you're already starting to think about what race/character you're going to play.

Each race has four classes, that fit into four rough archetypes: Tank, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS, and Healer/Support.

Again I hear you cry, ugh! Sounds like more of the same... but each race has four UNIQUE classes. None of the tanks are the same, some have similar mechanics, but all have their own unique feel and style.

Go here to view more information on: Character Classes

I'm sure this has given you plenty to think about, so take a break, visit the main site, and determine, if you haven't already, what faction, race, and class you'll play!

As always, keep checking back for more discussion of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.


Welcome to White Tower of Hoeth

TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read) Version:

Welcome to White Tower of Hoeth Warhammer blog. We're waiting, we're bored, and we like to talk Warhammer. We bring you all the stuff you want to know about, without all the crap. So you can just sit down, relax, and listen to a bunch of people talk about a game they've never played. We're not going to lie, we're pretty excited. Welcome to the White Tower!

OFBAWLTR (Only for Bad Asses Who Like to Read) Version:

You see, I can insult the TLDR people here because they didn't read this far. For the record, I am just kidding... mostly.

Hello everyone and welcome to the White Tower of Hoeth, a Warhammer Online Blog! I know what you're thinking... another blog, why do we need another one of those? But if you're like us, you're looking for any juicy morsels of information you can get on EAMythic's new MMORPG, Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning.

And really, what else are we going to do until release? Play Age of Conan? LoL. I'm only kidding, I just logged off my Priest of Mitra (oh the shame, right?). Since none of us have been lucky enough to get into the Warhammer Online Closed Beta, and have recently (after the last Arena Tournament) canceled our long standing World of Warcraft accounts, we find ourselves with a lot of time on our hands, time we've been using to research everything we can about Warhammer Online and searching for something that will keep our interest until Open Beta starts.

That's right! We sit online all day and scan through news and forum posts, 90% useless, mind-numbingly boring speculation about things we can't possibly know, and find interesting tidbits and discussions on the topics you actually care about: RvR, Tome of Knowledge, Public Quests, Release and Beta Dates... and, of course, chaos chickens.

We hope you'll all keep checking back in on us here at the White Tower of Hoeth. Later this week: An Introduction to Warhammer Online and Several Pretty Good Reasons Why Warhammer Looks Like It Might Be Awesome (Working Title).

But all joking aside, we hope you'll all visit us later!

White Tower of Hoeth Team