Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Night Revels

The new Mabar event is much like the old – in that the public area is still being over run by undead (well most of them are anyways) in Deleras Graveyard. And similar to the last couple of years, it’s divided into several level instances so you don’t have the wonkiness of level 5’s spawning tiny skeleton in an area where level 28’s run. Altho I don’t think it stops people from entering those instances I do believe they only spawn creatures for that level.

And like before you do this for a new base material and a more rare chance for a key. Draughts work as well, but for some reason it doesn’t proc in the public area (only challenges). Hopefully this will be fixed. The Draught of Midnight and the key can be bought in the store. The key drops about 1 every 15-20 minutes (seems to be the average) and you can turn in material for the Draught.

There are 4 challenges/quests/events or whatever you like to call them. The level range is low (whatever the lowest might be) to 35 – so for once you can underlevel from 28. However these new 4 materials are capped at 23 which seems to be the max amount you can get. So it’s going to be 23 if you say step in as level 25 and do 35 or 28 and do 35. Each of the 4 drop a new type of material but all in all you only have to worry about 4 different ones in a very simple scheme compared to any other type of schemes in the other or previous events.

That goes for any of the old Mabar gear. None of the saved materials work anymore and it has all been translated into this new scheme.

There are some new items with a ‘spooky’ stacking mechanic including +2 int and wis augments, and several BTA clicky’s in the shape of armor, docent and hats.  I prefer the idea of hats – the armor is less useful since only the docent is an instant switch. If you’re a caster type that use light, medium or heavy armor, it’ll take a while to re-equip it after applying the 90 second clicky.

Perhaps the most controversial idea is that some of the materials including consumables vanish at the end of the year. Part of the claim is that this prevents duping.

Personally I think it’s silly. First – most players don’t run these events 24×7. Perhaps the worst part is that if you want to make any of the old materials you have to start from scratch and it takes an increasingly higher pile of material to make since you buy at lowest level and upgrade each item up till 24. And THAT is a chunk load of stuff.

 

 

However, putting these gripes aside, this is by far the best version of ‘Mabar’ and probably the easiest material scheme compared to any other event. Crystal Cove have a bunch of different gems. Granted you can now ‘downgrade’ but it’s still way too many different types of materials for essentially being able to upgrade items similar to Night Revels. And it’s far simpler than any other previous Mabar gear scheme.

The challenges are also fun – it takes 4 existing low level quests and makes a quick challenge/quest out of it. 2 are very short. Replacing Sharn syndicate thugs for undead in the quest where you save that tavern.

One is the harbor quest where you’re going down into a room to clean out scorpions. This time of course it’s a bunch of undead with a boss ambush. Again – just as quick as it sounds.

The third is another harbor quest using a Kobolds new ringleader to fight zombie kobolds lead by a Lich where even the traps remain from the original quest (a few doors don’t work tho including that passage to the spiders – pity).

And finally one of the quests out the Carnival series in house of P – the Snitch. It’s actually not the entirely thing. Only the last portion of it where you sorta do it in reverse to end up fighting a Lich in the court yard where you can either evade a bunch of dogs or kill them.

I like that at most they’re medium long and that with a full group you’re going to hit through this in quick succession. You can of course solo it and dependent on class it’ll be either relatively drama free or with specific class dependent on boss somewhat hairier. I also like the mechanic of finding keys to unlock the events.

You could spend one day farming keys and another looking for groups to do the challenges – and you can still join up to 12 people for a group farming in the public in order to drive up spawn rates.

All in all – I like this event much better than previous event mechanics. No longer an error prone ‘raid event’ with an unlock mechanism that tend to break down when people are fed up running or very late at night when there’s not enough people running it.

Finally – the vanishing material is a silly mechanic. But it should detract from just how streamlined and clean this is. Turbine tried to revive the Mabar stuff through another abysmal scheme during the Mimic event. I loved the mimic event since it added an extra unknown to all chests in all quests – but the scheme to turn in for stuff was terrible. If I remember it correctly you got things from the event, turned them in for a random card and THEN combined these cards for a reward.

It was so dreadful that while I enjoyed the event I never turned anything in since it wasn’t worth the hassle.

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A story about Challenge

Last Thursday after update/patch 28.1 dropped, I ran what was perhaps to most painful group experience I’ve had in a while. For most part, and the few times I do group up when the synergy of what I want to run and what other runs (like this weekend and a full run of Vale) coincide in a good way, the experience is usually good.

We run EH or EE, on full or semi full groups and by all accounts it goes well. But this was a big time snag group where I – with my sub optimal fighter/warlock vanguard tactical dc build had to pull most of the weight.

It was the third quest we tried; the first was the maze one in E gianthold and I stepped in just when it was finished. Then we did Madstone – and thanks to this guy running some kind of exploiter hybrid toon we did well. The fact that the others ran their way and kept dying should be a sign. A sign of just how bad things was about to become.

Then we ran POP. And that turned out to be a fun house of frustration.

I mention this because there have been some myth about just how terribly un-challenging things are overall. A myth perpetuated mostly by people with completionist toons, fully geared and that have a great knowledge of the quests they play. Apparently these factors are entirely negligible in the overall scheme of things in what should be more nerf’s, deeper nerf’s so they can barely scrape by – never mind the many other regular players.

Players like this group where dying seemed to be happening around every corner.

On of this myths is of course that once everything is awesomely hard, cats and dogs will live in harmony and people will be forced (but in a good way) to assume their natural roles and it will be swell. Like healbot to the meatbag SP sponge. The tanking guy. The crowd control casting guy. The pew, pew guy and of course the evasion McRogue guy that disables and unlocks.

Here we had the rogue guy (able to do unlocking and fight – altho dying quickly). We had a caster guy that well….casted….but not very good at dps or anything. I don’t know if he was on a terrible destiny while doing EE but there was very little stuff going on. I think he was doing some melee and had lots of sorc levels. But he wasn’t very good at it.

We also had a cleric. That didn’t do any raising, any healing, any buffing (other than the mass stuff in the beginning which I think was really meant mostly for his own build). He died all the time. Of course running a POP EE with 400 something HP isn’t all that smart, but being unable to heal yourself well enough is inexcusable.

What followed was a disaster on many levels. Clearing out the corridor to the top went well enough. Few mishaps and mostly easy stuff. The cleric of course blew all his SP doing trash mobs where it doesn’t even count.

The red named skelly can be an issue but my vanguard did most of the tanking and altho a time consuming problem, not the worst.

Now the different prisons. In every single of them (and we avoided ice, fire an the beholder) people died, I ended up tanking everything with my low DPS build and if half the group wasn’t dead before it was over it was probably a fluke. Most often it was the cleric and the ‘sorc’ dying quickly.

Worst was of course the fact that I kept throwing resurrects during combat which was ignored by the people who died. Which of course made me mad. But the worst was yet to come; the end.

I ended up taking on the head boss – slapping him down to about 10-15% while people attacked everything but the head boss and died. Well I lie – the rogue (or whatever he was) died last – without throwing out one single resurrect to get people up. I of course couldn’t since my demise came from it turning over to Xoriat, the dream creature slammed all my Charisma so I couldn’t really do anything and the mindflayers munched up my brain.

Once we were all dead, I said my ‘have a good evening’ and dropped.

Mind you – this is not about them. This is about the notion that the super group zerging through every quest without a problem is an altruism. This week as I did a IR with my hybrid build as it hit cap for a pure fighter vanguard, I played at one point with a group doing Missing in the harbor (level 15 quest chain). On Elite certain portions like the end quest can get hairy. And people died.  These were awesome players. The difference here is that this quest chain was done before the new ones and therefore are not up to par when it comes to difficulty against the latest enhancements sweeps.

On the other hand I also did update 28 heroic quests and that was a lot hairier. There was one guy that got his arse handed to him all the time. Probably from poor agro control and started pulling all the creatures before I could intim them. And died.

And the damage was very nasty as well. Mine is a pure vanguard fighter build with many of the armor feats and such. So he got plenty of PRR and MRR despite the changes. And there were times when half the 600+ HP was chewed up in a split second. But thanks to 3 effective tactical feats I could knock down or stun to clear up some of the issues.

Again – there was plenty of challenge to be had despite running with mostly competent players.

I hope this is the end of the silliness of ‘lets nerf everything’. Because it’s not going to fix whatever the issue might be and no amount of magical thinking will bring back the good old ‘everything is awesome and pigeon holed’ again. The best way to make people group up is to have group XP weeks now and then because it works. Even if the grouping experience runs the gamut of awesome to deplorable.

Hug a dummy weekend!

So the Buddy XP event have now expanded from one weekend to one week and it’s a great thing to see. Not only is it demonstrably a success in just how many LFMs goes out of their way to fill up a group, but it’s a great incentive to forgo the ‘hmm not running my thing’ to actually maybe even advertise your own LFM or jump on something you wouldn’t normally do in the train of things you do.

Like me jumping on the Wheelon chain eventho I normally save that for maybe 26 (now 25) or 27.

But that’s the allure of a smartly crafted bonus meant to entice people to get together. The raid one however is not as interesting. Partly because a Raid XP weekend lacks the same appeal as regular grouping. How many group up to raid for XP? Not many – my idea of a raid bonus would more be expanded chance to pull raid items, or maybe a bonus for running raids. It could be say 1/2/3 percent higher chance per difficulty setting to pull  named items/shard/seal etc. Provided you’re talking full group. Or maybe a increase dependent on how many are in the raid. The more people the higher the chance. That could naturally be done in fractions of an increase not to make the chance too high.

It could also be an increase for everything worthwhile in a raid chest. Once per day per raid, with a higher amount of say heroic comms, higher chance for named loot etc. The point is to entice people to run these raids for the reasons people do it – if it boils down to XP I’m afraid only the ones normally running raids would do it and it wouldn’t really increase the amount of people running raids.

 

leaves of the forest

BTW, am I the only one that think Leaves of the Forest medium armor looks silly? The docent version actually looks nice. This is definitely not my favorite one.

This weekend I decided to level up Ulgord my experimental hybrid tank. It was originally very pure Fighter Vanguard and did well as such. Back in the MOTU days it was a pure tank build (before the release of the Vanguard) and it was with mixed results. Particularly since as Turbine kept on releasing higher and higher end quests, it was clear that whatever tiny amount of healing you could get on a heavy armor melee (cocoon) wasn’t enough to offset the grievous amount of magic damage. Once armor up happened and the release of Vanguard I was eager to take advantage of the new features.

I’ve since done some other things with it including now running as a Warlock/fighter hybrid, taking advantage of bursts and Aura as well as trying to use tactical feats.

First – tactical feats are a waste (by large) on Warlock hybrids. Particularly improved trip since it requires such a steep investment. Stunning Shield is fine of course – relatively low investment and it uses the best stat (in this case Charisma since I’m using a purple knight). However anything else is more or less wasted.  Now, with the re-balancing and nerfs Warlock is quickly becoming a tedious pay 2 play class with lower damage output and clearly less of a DPS prospect. That combined with no MRR on armor. While there are a few good medium armor, such as this one and Shadowmail (perfect for a caster type melee) it’s not enough to compensate for the lower PRR and no MRR, not for my liking anyways.

So I’m going back to pure fighter vanguard and I’m going to invest in 2-3 of the Armor feats and 2 at least for tactical feat.

That would make stunning blow, stunning shield and improved trip useful again and the PRR and MRR somewhat competent again. It’s not perfect – but it does allow me to go back using the better armor, shields and such. So as soon as I hit 28 again I’ll be iconic reincarnate to purple knight and remain pure.

I must say – the buddy xp stuff is a nice boost and it’s almost fun running with mostly competent players. And not to put a bad spin on things – at best you zip through most content without issue and worst you end up in groups where every nook and cranny need to be explored (and some quests are long and you’ll end up wasting xp potions on flower sniffing). However there’s no denying in the success of the event. More LFMs across the spectrum and almost full groups every time.

There will be BUDDIES!!!!

Buddy week is upon us. This is the second time Turbine experiments with group up type XP (last time was a weekend) and to me it was an astounding success.

I hear people wistfully thinking that ‘if we only add a few more thumbscrews it might force people to buddy up again’. Because, you know – nothing says – lets be friends and play the game – like being forced to do it because soloing is evil and need to be combated.

I hyperbole of course – but it does make me laugh when people think that making things worse for regular players will make grouping all that more palatable through increased pain. Yeah, that’s how things work – if grouping is seem like the lesser of two evil people might just not play at all (or something else instead). Which is a more likely scenario than ‘lets stay together’ ’cause the dental drill to my fun gets better if we hold hand.

To me the grouping event was a nice driver to strive to group up and many times waiting for a full group since that also increases the XP value. I don’t mind grouping up at all, but with a smaller player community there’s also less chance that people play the stuff you want to accomplish or willing to put up instead of just doing it with their closest friends or guildies.

The last buddy weekend had me play with many different groups and there was a lot of LFMs up for a diverse amount of content.

And I think having a week like this extends the sample group. Maybe they can simply make this type of thing permanent. Altho from experience the effect of things like these tend to flatten out over time.

But anyways – buddy week it is. Looking forward to EE content for maximum effect so I can take some of my guys (particularly my Arti) to 28 again. Arti is increasingly dreadful to level past say 24-25. The diminished return from the enhancements and the lack of synergy with destinies makes it feel grindy against increasingly high HP targets. Outside knives eternal (best rune arm in my book) everything else gets dreadful.

So grouping up and spreading the pain works just fine to me. They get buffs, I add some rogue features and a smidgen DPS. And we can haul arse all the way to the end.

In would also want to redo my one Warlock into a sorc. I was planning on doing it anyways (emptying that TR cache is a pain however) since having 2 Warlocks are a little excessive. I like sorc and I liked how a pure Air Savant plays and the spell it uses. I also like Earth Savant, but it’s hard to argue against chain lighting and its like.

My former Earth Savant, also Warlock will remain Warlock until Turbine nerf it to oblivion. They’re already on their way. Granted, most of it is because of the prolific use of ES, but seriously. Once you get out of the ES burst bangers regular Warlocks are not all that impressive. The crit damage is below what I experienced as a Shiradi Sorc and the only real benefit is the low resource usage. The procatastic nature and speed of fire of a good Shiradi caster far outpaces the slow firing and often inaccurate Warlock.

So buddies, here I come. With my Arti for sure, and maybe my Warlock. We’ll see.

The weird detachment of players

I’m big into observation.

I’m not big into math. To me being able to figure out exactly what my DPS will be, or my damage mitigation is, makes sense to people who want big numbers. But to me it’s about ‘did that get the job done?’

That’s why I have never built or played an exploiter build. Ever. In any game I play. Sounds weird right? But it’s true. I don’t exploit build. I don’t look up other peoples builds and see which one can give me maximal benefits. I observe.

And this works for me. I’m usually fairly high up in DPS and kills. Those are not good measurements I know, but it works for me. I’m also into stuff people for most part ignore because it doesn’t produce the big numbers. To me tactics are actually – tactics.

When I read about what people liked from the old Epics – the mushy nostalgic idea about ‘the good old days’ I ask myself if people understand that those were not really tactics. They were exploits.

That taking agro of something and using a shieldwall to stop that creature from getting to the agro taker is not tactics. It’s exploiting. It exploits the scripting that stops a creature from seeing the threat ahead of it while trying to get to something else.

CC is not a tactic. It Exploits the fact that everything is math. Once you hit the magic DC to overcome the save of a creature it’s an absolute event and not a chance anymore. No tactics are trips and stuns. It’s how you use terrain and how you set traps. Sure, in a sense you exploit the agro script against a creature by luring it around a corner to get stuck in a web before it can attack you, but now you’re using environment and features to accomplish goals. And not the poor scripting and pathing.

That’s why I’ve used tactical feats from the very first time I started playing DDO. And I’ve found it very useful.

I mention this for a couple of reasons. There are those that are making an argument against MRR about the new balance changes. To them it makes no sense. Yet in order for them to make that statement they ignore what was prior to armor up. Some would like us to believe the major change was the PRR changes, but the reality is that the worst problem facing heavy armor users were magic damage.

The reason why so many went ranged and arcane and with evasion was because it limited exposure to physical damage and avoided most grievous AOE/magical damage. Being ranged or arcane become the exploit of a rampant increase in enemy DPS and HP and a safe way to avoid taking those heavy gluts of damage.

It was also for another important reason – the end of the healbot era.

Diversity have a price and the greatest price was pigeonholed classes. Very few had an interest in healing mana sponges. That one or 2 heavy DPS guys that demanded constant HP refill. It started to get boring and quaint before MOTU and definitely after. Plus as the player base dwindled it got harder and harder to find dedicated healers. Few wanted to play healbot when the diversity allowed them to mix and match a casting or melee experience.

And with that came the era of self healing. An era where cocooning became part of the vernacular.

The truth is the death of the big brute wasn’t instant. But it was for sure. And the armor up with MRR was the ‘savior’ in the sense that it allowed the big brute to lower the spike damage from physical and magical damage and mitigate enough for self healing to work.

It is for nothing that in most group the fighter is undoubtedly going to die first. Look at any group and if someone’s going to die, it’s the fighter hybrid with a blue bar. He’s still the worst at self healing. Despite PRR and MRR. This is not going to change much with the removal of MRR. What will happen instead is that fewer people will play the big brutes and migrate into something that can survive.

I predict 2 handed Pally because that’s still getting the benefit from the changed Holy Sword. That means more bladeforged 2 handed fighters. You’ll see less Pally Sword and board since shield no longer benefit from holy sword.

You’ll see a few more specialized vanguard fighter tanks. Due to the new armor fighter specific feats. Shield still get MRR.

Barbarians will still be fine and swashbucklers will adapt.

Tempest rangers are going to drop off. I’m already thinking about changing mine. First, the 2 weapon fighting damage is going down as part of the changes, MRR is gone so that means the spike damage is going to get higher. Divine grace is changing to be level based so if you splash 2 Pally levels it’ll be a minor and often useless bump and dividing your stats between strength, dex, wis and con will be a stretch. As a result strength based rangers will go by the dodo bird and there will be a few dex based using scimis. Most will go AA and wis. I know I am.

I’m thinking about going pure. Sure – it’s nice to have a few more feats from fighter but it seems quaint and un-needed.

There are some reasons for this;

Without a higher save the spike damage will be higher than it is now. It’ll take longer to kill something due to lower DPS which means more time in combat. No MRR and adjusted PRR means less mitigation. Less mitigation and longer time in combat means more damage. More damage means greater strain on self healing, which means you spend more time self healing and less time killing. Less mitigation means more time healing.

This is the reason why I stopped using my ranger to begin with.

Also – change in manyshot burst. Less burst damage for tempest – because of less investment in shooting. It’s now going from what was 4 arrows to be adjusted to something like 3 something. The change of threat range makes crits less likely which means less burst damage etc.

Note – Turbine is not adjusting some of the higher DPS and HP on critters that was introduced with ToEE. The debuffs will still be there. The enormous flood of spawning creatures are still going to be there and the massive pile of HP will still be there.

The result is very easy to observe and predict.

People will take the path of least resistance. Some will go to the melee with the least amount of change. Others will go into ranged and evasion. And some will simply reassess their investment of time in making the char they liked and now see it fundamentally changed.

It happened after MOTU and after Shadowfail and stabilized after armor up and is now being re-balanced. I don’t know what Turbine and the many who want to ‘do something about power creep’ thinks, but human nature is still there to observe.

To me a lot of this seems like wishful thinking and a dollar late.

This is something that should have been on the mind when DDO had a big thriving player base. Carving at huge balancing acts when the servers are tethering on the brink seems like folly. While I get these changes and I’m trying to understand why, so much of it seems to be wishful thinking.

Champions are not going away; they were added to add challenge. Reaper is probably going to happen. Why is that needed if we re-balance player power?

And finally; anyone that think armor changes will somehow magically retain lots of heavy armor users need to tell me what they’re smoking. Because if it ever become legal I’d like to try some of it.

It’s a pity that they’re doing this so close to the release to E shroud. But there’s one nice thing; Fallout 4 is coming so taking a long break from DDO won’t really be that much of a concern. Eventho most of the raids will be picked over thanks to raid bypasses by the time I come back.

I know – it seems silly to threaten a break just because of changes. Silly only if you disregard all the time I’ve spent leveling toons and chasing gear just to get slapped in the face with major changes that will force me to start re-arranging everything again.

That’s exhaustive and boring.

Balance changes

When changes come you have two choices. Roll with the punches or reevaluate your investment. There’s a reason why DDO is losing customers and I’m sure some of it might be the age of the game – Turbine can’t put out enough content to keep people interested.

I doubt however it’s because everything is so easy.

Cordovan already expressed that the main reason are all the ones who complain about how easy everything is; so the result are changes that in some areas make sense and others don’t.

Cracking down on top line DPS is fine to me. In most cases the proposed changes will simply slow down the torrent of high crit DPS and we’re still going to be able to beat most content. I’m skeptical about the threat range change as it makes named and random items flavor less but I understand the reasoning, even if say someone investing heavy in thunderforged knife will be mad because Kukri is not the goto crit profile. Again – this is the nature of rebalancing.

The changes to holy sword seem fine too. With a caveat. I don’t get why it won’t apply to shields but that’s fairly minor. That it won’t apply to bows is fine altho some make the point that it also have to do with deity choice.

The changes to Warlock seems overboard. It’s adjustment to final DPS which will lower the DPS in heroic but also smack it in Epic where they’re not king. I get the balancing act. They’re trying to pair down a simply class with easy to invest DPS. But they’re doing so by punishing those that invested in the class with real money and now keep seeing it smacked down. There comes a point when those changes will feel like a cash grap and bait and switch.

The worst changes are the ones adding more fighter specific feats and no more MRR on armor. That is just way to much. I know that people think adding 4 feats for armor which adds PRR and MRR will compensate for losing PRR over all and all MRR through armor, but the reason why this was done in the first place was because of how things look before armor up. MRR was added to provide the gap between dodge and PRR, where evasion negated most magic damage. MRR became the solution that made heavy armor viable.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the changes will mean but I have a feeling you’ll see a heavy swing back to ranged and evasion with this. And I think listening to people complaining about how easy things is, is the worst Turbine could ever do.

Partly because they’re not going to be happy until we’re back to pre MOTU old epics where everyone knew their place. With dedicated healbots, CCing arcanes and meatshields slapping thousands of HP off critters for minutes. It wasn’t that much harder – it just gave the pretense of it if people didn’t group up according to the magic formula.

There is a romantic notion about the good old days, but it depended less on skill despite what people think and more about using standard tactics. In fact I’ve seen more diversity in my own toons post MOTU than pre. Where I make choices for my own survival and where there is a place for tactics and tactical feats.

Prior to that tactical feats were pointless and worthless just as they are for most part in EE’s.

We know that people who scream for ‘make it haaaader’ will continue to do so. Because they prefer the broken glass experience over just having fun. But it will be interesting to see how they’ll react when their fantasy of ‘maybe now people will start grouping up again’ don’t materialize.

Turbine did something good with the group XP trial – something that is about to come back tomorrow and run for a week. And that you can’t force people to group up – but add enough incentive and they will.

 

So once Lam is up again we will see just how these changes pan out. My feeling is that you’ll see a change towards evasion and ranged again. But it might also mean more people getting tired of investing a year or so into one character just to see radical changes and then decide they’ve had enough. Everyone have a price and there’s not enough of us to be able to soak more player drop off.

Now this is not doom of course. Some changes are minor and measured. But the most drastic one with armor changes is not going to work out quite the way people think. We’ve experienced this before and armor up was the reaction.

Weekend raidin’ n such

This weekend – adding a Monday off to the pile had me run a bunch of raids on several chars – capping off the 40th MoD on my Arti, more DoJ on my Ranger and Warlock and an assortment of others including Chronosphere.

I really didn’t have any leveling plans for the first time ever, until I hit the 40th on my Arti and realized that I had 6 mill Karma in All spheres and 2 arcane done just begging for me to do a third to get that 9% additional crit.

I’m tempted at doing a few more iconic or true reincarnations to get maybe a little bit more spell pen or something done. But not until I hit 28, something I surely want to do before the level cap hits 30.

And I’m not done with all the other guys too. The thing I ask myself is if I should just work on getting the raid stuff done before I start TRing and IRing. Particularly since the raid completion counter resets and it’s painful enough to hit 20 just for that one item you might want.