Monthly Archives: April 2013

Alpha, Beta and OMG

arti PreSo the first, extra virgin fresh look at the enhancement pass is here. Some classes will be released on a weekly basis so that players can check a set amount of classes out, take them for a spin, evaluate what they think before being presented with another bunch of classes.

As you can see by this image there’s a race based one and 2 PrE based ones. There also seems to be another for something ‘general’ but for most part you can’t even pick it (at least I hope it’s very general because otherwise arti’s are screwed).

As you see above you have a similar set up like with Destinies – you spend so much points to go up a tier and there are specific unlocked benefits at the bottom. With one major difference – in order to get tier 2+ bottom autogrant you need to spend actual points. That’s different from destinies where each level of tier unlocks a new autogrant. In this case the first is always free while the others require investment.

And that’s where you’ll find some of the PrE or special stuff. It’s good and bad. You can’t skip certain things in order to say get the strength or whatever stuff. That is if you want a specific ability like the cap stone you’re forced to buy all the other stuff before it. Spending lots of points on things you’ll rarely if every use. Not entirely different from the old system but this lacks even more flexibility.

Take Horc fighter for example. You can’t just buy racial strength stuff anymore – you HAVE to invest in their worse abilities like that rage thing where when they take so much damage they’ll get stronger. I always take the first, but rarely ever anything else since there’s such a remote chance that a horc will live long with 10% health left, so that +8 strength hit before you die is a complete waste.

Now in order to get the better feature you HAVE to invest in stuff you don’t like. Not really different from say Kensei where you had to invest in some really worthless things to get the different PrEs.

But there are some nuggets – like

tactical mobilityAs you can see Arti’s will now be able to run with the rune arm charged without being slow. if you invest a maximum in the Battle Engineer.

On the other hand you can’t invest in specific spell powers, in fact there are none to pick in any of the PrEs. There might the general one coming (the empty window). A cool thing however is that you can invest in BOTH PrEs – getting partial in both, or full in one and some in the other. it’s fairly easy. That also includes those PrEs specials that leads to the cap stone.

But there’s a definite drawback. The capstone for example the Arti is no longer that clickies is treated as level 20 – unless (sorta) you invest completely in the Arcanotechnician special power and there’s no way you can have both that and the battle engineers Master Engineer.

Master Engineer

Arcane Empowerment

Granted, there are a lot of other things in the different PrEs that are hit and misses, but the Arti won’t be the master of all of his domain anymore – just more of one type of flavor.

The bad thing of course is that IF there is a general enhancement tab it’ll be even less flexible to say invest in spell power specific stuff and these PrEs – especially if you want to be the best in say acid. if you also want to be the best ranged you’ll have VERY few points left to make your rune arm anything good. And without spell powers the rune arm is nothing. Plus in the racial tab you’ll find up to 3 points in DC, but it require basic tier 1 investments first.

True – this is just the beginning and once people start experimenting with different builds the process might get ‘clearer’ but right now it feels like 1 step forward and some backwards until I feel jarred about all the possible prospects.

 

Are you livin’ in a live environment and is it ‘smart’?

One simple observation; in pvp (like World of Tanks) it’s to your eternal pain or relief that the players on both sides are all human. Good since you can’t exploit a rudimentary AI script ( use the abbreviation AI loosely in regards to games) but you’re forced to suffer a lot of fools.

A lot.

On the other hand in a game like DDO everything leads to a kind of familiarity without conflict. All critters fight you. You know wolves and panthers and Minotaur’s on the same side without conflict. Or Gelatinous cubes at the same space as other stuff.

Try pulling some critters in vale – such as rats towards dogs and you’ll see what I meant. They’ll form a ring around YOU. They don’t start attacking each others. In other words – you can’t use the environment against them – only the poor AI script.

So all in all – from the deep stupidity of some players to the innate desire of critters to attack you I was infinitely amused by the ‘AI’ in Far Cry 3 the other night.

Especially when you’re running about, see an animal – decide to hunt it – hear a growl and suddenly this dog or something kills the pig (or whatever) you were trying to shoot. Or when you attack a goat and suddenly a pack of wolf hears your shot and attacks you – along with some pirates that happened to be nearby.

The best thing I’ve come across so far was these two different outposts I attacked. At one this guy on top of a house wanted to nail me with a Molotov cocktail (for you who don’t know it’s an invention from WW II where you fill up a bottle with something flammable, stick a rag in the neck and then light it up and throw it. Perfect for cooking whatever you’re trying to destroy like the open hatch of a tank). But instead of hitting the hill I was firing from it hit a rail and soon the entire base was in flames.

Now THAT was funny.

The other time I was flanking another base – I killed one of the guys with a silenced sniper rifle, then moved around the flank and suddenly I hear this growl – apparently the pirate had angered a nearby gepard, leopard or tiger (one of those big cats) and it attacked and killed the last guy for me so I could take the base.

It was hilarious. I wish there was something like that in DDO. Where if you attack something and there happened to be something else nearby you can pull those two different creatures into a fight; I mean I HIGHLY doubt a bunch of huge spiders have much in common with human mercenaries. Other then one ending up as a meal.

And for World of Tanks I wish that some tankers exhibited just the basic kind of AI you find in any game – like at least look at the mini map and realize that we’re about to get flanked and destroyed so at least attempt to move something back to the base.

But whatever.

3 Things that happened this weekend

faicial UlgordFirst, I finally got my PDK favor – on my tank no less. Which is kind of sad considering just how useful that’d be on my sorc or other melee. On top of that I pulled some new hair color and as a rule, unless it’s gray – I have to ‘equip’ it on the person who pulls it. Unless it’s also my Horc fighter – I kind of like his orange Mohican.

 

I managed to hit 375 doing the dragon in the well on EE – which is pretty much how yo need to get it overall. Do everything on EE (citw on normal I think) and 5 star at least the challenges. And it was a terrific group where I filled the niche as the tank – especially against the dragon. I held the agro – let the sorc and such shoot from afar while I was being slapped around by the dragon – taking a lot less damage than anyone in the process. Plus I even got the chance to heal the healer – knocked down and about to become the next meal. That’s the benefit of having a self-healing tank.

That reminds me of  failed fall of truth – failed because I ran around taking agro and kiting stuff around more than hitting it and eventually ending up healing people for a solid 30 minutes until someone kiting the giant decided to sweep by the group prepping the dragon. Ergo boom and ergo lighting death.

Later on I slammed through a citw on hard followed by a ‘easy’ FoT on hard as well – but easy because the group knew what to do and the raid leader provided solid instructions. The giant, dragon and the rezzed dragons were all kited by pro’s. And the rest of the group managed to get it all done without wasting resources.

On the World of Tanks front I now have a new toy – the french prem. frenchie

The armor is not that thick, but it’s fast, has a fast shooting gun and is fairly accurate. All the kind of stuff that appeals to me. But for most part I ended up in some really crappy teams. I say this again – a game that’s not based on some kind of efficiency rating (especially in a PvP type game) is not a very good game.

Far to often do you end up with most good players on one side, and bad to poor on the other. It’s not by design, but since it’s only based on tier of tanks and nothing else you often get that kind of unbalanced matches. Which is not fun for anyone – it discourages people from playing. And even with the arty fix of capping them at 5 do you see plenty of 3+ battles. They’re not fun. Far to many of the maps benefit arty.

It was kind of funny how a arty was lamenting the camping going on. I told him DOH – we have 4 arty on each side – no wonder people are camping. So just don’t see the forest for all the trees.

And finally – Far Cry 3. I broke down and bought it since it was 40% off as digital download. It looks and plays amazing on my home rig. It’s the kind of game that could convince me to take a break from playing DDO for a while. From the deep jungle, crafting, hunting, driving/boating to combat. It’s fun. I still haven’t gone hunting for sharks to craft some better gear but I can wait. I know it’s only a game but swimming around in the sea with sharks around. And a game that looks this good – no way. I’ll wait a bit. Maybe I can find myself a harpoon or something. Speargun?

Tanking is possible, but you still take some spanking

I started out farming for mats with Ranger; it’s far better equipped and do a lot more in DPS then my tank – and it can actually do all level 25 Cannith ones without issue. Not only because of FotW and the effect of furyshot (what people have named multiarrow together with the epic moment) but also on a individual fight basis those heavy hitting adrenaline hits does short work with all type of critters.

That’s not true with my tank – even in a better destiny like Legendary will be short on DPS in some of the challenges. Like the one for Jade scorpions where as soon as the kobold picks up the huge crystal you’ll get ambushed by 3 drow (casters, shooters and rogues), lions and giant(s). That can be though if you don’t have enough DPS to take them down quickly and my tank wouldn’t. Sure, he’d get one or two drow down but the rest would be ambushed by all the other critters. However with furyshot he’ll usually down everything except the giant before the manyshot runs out and then he has plenty of juice left from the epic moment to smack him around. And that’s before the kobold with the crystal is even halfway to the giant.

But as soon as I was done with 2 succesful runs (500 and 600+ mat respectively) I noticed that a EE run for the belly of the beast (or whatever) was up. One of the final quests I have left in order to get 375 in favor. That would get me to 369 and within striking distance of max favor (and of course unlocking set bonuses and planar etc).

All good things. So after some waiting we finally had the troop assembled; a caster, a druid, me on my tank and a paladin, cleric and arti. Not bad. And thing started out wonky. We managed to get the slaver down along with the drider but things went plenty sideways when we hit the squid. First – stun and held. Both from the squid and the other casters. I tried valiantly to do the regular trip, stunning and self-heal while taking as much agro as possible – but I got stun and held and without heals also deaded. And this happened more the once. And worse of all – as we pulled back to regroup the whole enemy troop bounced and that meant full health. But to make that sorry story short – after lots of struggle and death and wasted resources they were dead.

So we regrouped, shrined and managed to diplo the release of the purple knight and since we had successfully dealt with the slaver, drider and squid we didn’t have to face them. But we did have to face the hordes.

The actual hard part is not inside the worm – it’s the battle in the arena and it’s as intense as the first time you went huntin’ for the bauble after the change. When the hordes of Shavarath barreled down on you on elite. Like an endless sea of pain and suffering.

But here it was first slaves, then snake people, then drows, then driders and then a bunch of orange named batte masters. One horde after another.

And when that’s all done the big worm attacks – and its smaller siblings. And you have to fight that and the audience as it trashed and destroys the arena and they fall down into it. In fact running around in the acid filled worm was a breeze compared to the arena fight.

First – I ended up dropping 2 cakes on the cleric. Once in the arena and once in worm. It was at a point where I rather use birthday cake cakes (ironic right?) or do this again at another time. And we were already buffless and 30+ minutes into it after waiting for a group for 20 minutes.

Lets just say I was motivated. Secondly it helped being a tank. I had unyielding on with twisted legendary and rejuvenating cocoon. And it helped. Not only could I self-heal, but I took fewer hits and far less damage. The result was that the slave horde was relatively easy for me. I kept agroing as many as possible and swinging my citw bastarsword around I did lots of negative damage. And the caster did as much as he could his best to dance everything around. This worked great on the slaves, a little less on the snake people. There my job was to first marginalize the casters. That’s important. I ended up agroing as much as I could, jump around and self-heal and trip and stun their casters where possible.

The drow was a little different; no casters but plenty of pain. Here I tried to agro but kept moving as not be surrounded and deaded. One thing is clear; who ever thought adding harrid to this battle is a moron. No seriously. I get what it’s for – so you don’t zerg through dungeons but the harrid effect is nonsense. Mostly because it’s a tanks JOB to do this type of stuff and to add this to the fight just because there’s lost of enemy is dumb.

The quest is hard enough – having to jump or run slow is just a dumb griefing in my opinion. It doesn’t belong in DDO, in quests but not in something like this. It just make you suck resources, it doesn’t add anything tactical to it.

Anyways – the driders were tougher for sure but they were not as many. The worst part was the battle masters. They hit hard and there are LOTS of them. I ended up jumping backwards self-healing and swinging. Pretty much doing some damage but mostly neg levels while running in a circle backwards until they were all low health and dancing. Then I stood my ground, took my hits and returned with gusto.

I’d say that the belly thing was easy. Sure – we had some deaths – which comes from all the acid damage, but there were far fewer to agro and managing it while swinging around and self-healing was intense but easier. And as we broke free from the worms guts, it was all but over. 2 chests of crud later I was not at 369 and hopefully soon also with all the pdk favor needed.

Something else I did last night

mah tank

I sometimes play World of Tanks, especially when I have little time to kill and I get a lil’ ‘saturated’ by DDO. By large it doesn’t happen that often so my WoT time is sporadic and in bursts (like a month) before I get tired of it.

If you think the PUG scene is bad in DDO you haven’t seen anything when it comes to WoT. And partly because in DDO you might have bad players doing stupid things – with a rez or two that can be fixed.

In a slog between 15 players on each side and half of them below average basic intelligence to play games like these, THAT will have consequences. Like the tank who let another one flank mine and shoot it 3-4 times in the rear – while doing nothing. That’s not just bad – it cost us the match since I was reducing their capping and when my tank blew up, his was ambushed and destroyed and none of our team could get there in time to reset the cap. In other words – we lost. Had it been me I would’ve destroyed anyone flanking us so we could win. You can call it situational awareness or 3 dimensional thinking.

But at least I had a good match last night and it’s with the tank in the image above. The T110E4 tank is a tank destroyer with a turret. The basic idea of a tank destroyer is to hunt and destroy other tanks (sounds strange since all tanks should be about destroying tanks right?). Most of the WW II (since very few tank destroyers were made post WW II) era tank destroyers were of turret less construction but USA made several with turrets. Some were hand cranked and others powered but most of them had thinner armor with better cannons. The idea is that a tank destroyer had more powerful anti tank guns and with a smaller profile so they could hide and ambush ‘stuff’.

Prohorovka 2I ended up in Prohorovka a fairly open map with strips of woods and an iconic hill that always leads to a lot of fighting. It does have a few sparse buildings but most of the action ends up on each flank along the road (1) or by the hill (2).

I moved towards 1. since moving a TD in the open is kind of dangerous especially with 3 artillery on each side. Plus there are no real good places to hide – at least there’s plenty of vegetation along the side of the road even though the invisi rules are wonky in this game.

We immediately ran into lots of tanks on our side. One – a E-50M decided to run the gauntlet to reveal all of us including our Arty. It was stopped fairly okay although one of our arty was discovered and destroyed. But the Maus, M103 and IS-8 that followed couldn’t exploit it and ended up in an expensive tit for tat against me and several other good tanks.

Things did not fair better on the hill-side. It was a brutal slog where we were ground down to one E-50 that ended up in 4. and took out one of their Arty hiding there (didn’t go up the hill tho and therefore lost the opportunity to destroy their second arty). That was a huge mistake as the E-50 just sat there – thinking he’d ambush something and their Bat went to 3. and killed our arty instead. So I figured; what the heck. I just got rid of the Maus and IS-8 and it was their Bat and 2 Arty against me and the E-50. Not that I would stand a chance against the much quicker Bat and it’s autoloader, but I moved towards 3 thinking he was there ready to flank  me. Instead he moved to 4. and killed the E-50 that had not moved since it destroyed one of their Arty.

So as you can see by the arrows I decided to move down the line along the rail road, ridge and just get one shot in before destroyed, but as it seems the cocky Bat thought I was still left on the opposite flank and moved get me.

He didn’t see me so as he flashed by, I flank shot (5.) and since it only had 16% of its health left it was toast. Of course not until the Arty got a shot in on me and wounded one of my crew (that I ‘healed’). Now I moved across the open back to the road. I figured one of the Arty was down that way and I hoped to be able to nail it. That’s when the USA arty showed up (6.) – I took to long to aim, it shot and half missed, I killed it and the french Arty nailed me down to less than 10%.

I knew it was probably on the hill since the shot came from that direction, but I also knew that if I capped their base they would get me. There was simply no way to hide – and if I ridged on the rail road he’d get me since he’d be ready to shoot me there. And if I moved through the middle to get up on the hill my slow tank would be a simple target for something that can lob high explosive stuff across the map. So I moved down to 7 and hid my tank, letting the final minutes count down for a draw.

And to my surprise with 30 seconds to spare he dashed across the road crossing and I nailed him easily in the flank. And for once being the last man standing against faster tanks and supported by Arty had a happy outcome.

Meet Ulgord – Mah tank

UlgordThis toon has gone through some ‘changes’. Originally it was almost a pure tank with some other added feats (like two-handed for glancing blows using bastard sword) but now it’s either a intim tank or almost a DPS tank – meaning that for DPS I switch to full two weapon fighting and for tanking sword and board. In Sword and board I use a level 24 Bulwark with a 114 Devotion spell power augment and Exceptional Dex +1 (still looking for a reasonably cost-effective EE) and citw bastard sword.

That combo is great. Using power attack and stalwart III stance but still in Legendary destiny I generally land around 107 AC, 101 PRR and 140% Fort (Endless faith, rejuvenating cocoon and Brace for impact as twists). With combat expertise it goes to 118 in AC.

LegendaryAs you can see by the destiny tree I do not use improved combat expertise. I could and it would allow me to add another 20 PRR in combat expertise but for most part I use this destiny for DPS. First of all – no epic moment. I’ve always had a hard time using Master’s Blitz good and this tree is optimized for slashing weapons (bastardsword and Axe) and blunt. With this I use either a combo of citw bastard sword and morningstar or the bastard sword and EH axe from GH. The morning star have a 1d10 frost damage added to it and the axadus have silver and acid. Don’t know why it ended up like that but I think it has to do with whatever augment I pulled and banked.

The morningstar is excellent with lightning mace. A feature that can be used even in combat expertise stance (unlock any of the swings that can only be used when using power attack. Sure – it’s not going to be as much DPS as when you have a full fletched Kensei or similar fighter, barb, Monk etc. But the DPS is perfect for a tank build. And with the morningstar you get stunning (a feat I use) and together with that and improved trip there’s plenty of ways to disable opponents ability to fight back which helps since a tank generally have less DPS to use.

unyealdingFor superior defense and tanking I use unyielding with Momentum swing, legendary tactics and rejuvenating cocoon twisted.

That adds some DPS and another swing (with cleave and great cleave) for added DPS while everything else is about adding AC and PRR along with healing capability. This gives me 128 in AC and 131 PRR when using power attack and 141 AC in combat expertise (both with sword and board). Plus I also have 4 *endless* lay on hands that heals everything around me for about 300+ hit points (seen as high as 700+ – light the dark) along with rejuvenating cocoon. Both adds a lot of self-healing and with PRR and such there’s plenty of survivability.

None of these are ultimate numbers. I’d love to TR this guy a couple of times and experiment with a half elf cleric dilettante. The idea is to be able to scroll heal and possibly using rez scrolls. That would add a lot to the bottom line. And with 2 more TRs I’d have 4 more ability points to play with. And with the upcoming Epic TR feature (whatever that is) there’s a promise of 2 more ability points. All very interesting ideas.

Plus with EE daggertooth belt I add more armor mastery – with the ability to use more of my dex score both to increase dodge chance and AC. Not by much but the big thing here is the increase in dodge chance. I currently have 8% – capped by the dex of the armor and 4 more would put that to 12%. Very doable. And of course with the EE version of Bulwark I get another blue augment slot and most importantly a lil’ more in PRR.

Add to that the planar set bonus that adds more PRR – adding even more survivability to the bottom line.

So yes – there’s still some improvements to be had. Things that adds to AC, PRR and even DPS, but all in all it ‘works’. At that’s the important part. And ironically I’ve even had the opportunity to heal other players – even healers using either light the dark (we did an EE quest and the cleric was zapped down to unconscious) or other players with rejuvenating cocoon.

 

 

The insanity that is called the SHAH

manaclesI’m not a genius and I sometimes don’t spend my TP and Plat well – like buying a scroll for lots of plat just to pull it later myself. But when I look at the new shard auction house it illustrates full well peoples idea of value vs peoples ideas of if they can find a sucker.

You’ll notice that more accurately around items that people seem to want and that some percieve having a greater value then it does. Like Dream Visor – not a bad pair of goggles but you’ll quick to find it for millions of plats or 300 shards minimum. Or like this fantasy – 800 shards for a EH version of the Manacles.

They’re not bad – but close to 50 real dollars worth? I generally buy TP when they’re on sale. And I try to buy at least the 60 dollar bundle, higher if I have the money. That gives me the most ‘bang for the bucks’ in a world where I’m buying something without any real value to it. Try to get a coffee for your TP and you’ll see what I mean.

I do understand that some use the SHAH as an extension of their shared bank – putting some items out there for 6000+ knowing that MAYBE there’s someone dumb enough to buy it but most likely won’t – providing that person with 20 ‘free’ slots of ‘inventory’ space, but the same can’t be said about those who post some items for 700-1500 points. Hoping that someone is willing enough to pay what amounts to over 40-70 real dollars for one single item.

I’ve never acted like that; if I put something on the AH and SHAH I put it at a price I’m willing to pay for it. That’s why my items generally sells. The problem as I see it is that so many are caught in the crossfire of these two system and that the value of one system (plat) is all but gone (finding regular Dream Visor EN items for 1+ mill is one indicator) and the confusion of value for something that can be bought using real money.

Sure – there are those with bottomless money resources that can and will buy themselves everything they need. But the reality is of course that most don’t and when a valid way of trading items become perverted by lack of understanding and a big pinch of greed – I find myself trying to get simple items for overinflated prices and wondering where peoples heads really are.

It’s sad when you see it, but it is what it is. And while I’m still looking for an EE Bulwark, I refuse to pay 2 mill plat for one or 700 shards. I’m not blowing north of 40 bucks on an item that once equipped is BTC until I too try to unload it.

I doubt Turbine cares; they’re happy to sell you 35 dollars worth of points (3100 points and 500 shards cost you 2500 points) for suckers that don’t mind overpaying for items. And at the same time take 30%-40% of those shards in AH fees.

Like the EN Daggertooths that I sold for 150 shards (THAT is what I think the value should be – not 500+ like I’ve seen). 30% later and I recieved 105 shards. Turbine took almost a third of the value just for me using their system.

One more reason why this money grab system grates me the wrong way.