Tag Archives: war

Stride towards your fortune boldly on your way.

I cancelled my Warhammer Online subscription over the weekend, having logged on several times, stared at my Warrior Priest and my Slayer for a while and found myself unable to summon the enthusiasm to log in with either one, I decided that I already had enough MMO mash on my plate and I could afford to leave some of the over-steamed vegetables to one side. Or, more correctly, I couldn’t justify affording such an MMO any more. With a veritable wealth of MMOs going free-to-play at the moment, and the fact that I have a lifetime subscription to LotRO, I really don’t find myself wanting for subscriptionless adventuring options. I’ve started a couple of new character projects in LotRO, a group-orientated Minstrel for as and when I feel like being sociable, and a new solo project in the form of a Hunter for me to quietly plink away at when I’m possessed of a more solitary humour. LotRO has become my reliable gaming mistress, she who will keep me happily occupied until some young-faced damsel flashes an alluring winsome smile from behind a mask of demure innocence, teases and tempts in equal measure as I follow her, like some enchanted Anthony pursuing his Egypt, back to her residence. Whereupon she is suddenly released from her cleverly marketed appearance, and under the harsh light of a more intimate inspection is revealed to be a gap-toothed bug-ridden wreck. At which point her real lover steps forth from the shadows before I can make good my escape, clubs me over the head, and steals £14.99 monthly from my wallet until I regain my senses. Yet always LotRO is there to welcome me back from my folly, she opens her arms wide and cradles me against her voluminous content, hushes my blubbered apologies, reminds me of the intimate little details that made me love her and make me love her still. She is the mature mistress, secure in the knowledge of her own worth, happy to welcome and entertain the experienced and inexperienced alike, and I remain there in her embrace, comfortable and content. Until I catch a glimpse of the next porcelain and lace doe peering out from behind the curtain of MMO news, fluttering her eyelids innocently, her shy yet coquettish demeanour promising a life of long term commitment and happiness, and delivering yet another sharp blow to the head and dent to the wallet.

My reason for quitting WAR was quite simple in the end: you get experience points when playing in scenarios and open RvR. There are two levelling systems running in parallel in WAR, the standard experience points which work much as they do in any MMO RPG, and renown points which primarily work as a gate to the more powerful PvP gear, as well as a sub-system that allows you to purchase significant boosts to one or two primary stats, tactics which give you increased damage against certain races, and other PvP enhancing features. For me, the system doesn’t work. Ideally as a player you want to keep your character level and your renown level close to one another, this then means that as your character level reaches the upper boundary of the tier of content in which you’re currently participating, your renown level will allow access to the best PvP gear that can be purchased from the merchants in the war camps, thus giving you a fighting chance in yet another MMO which ‘balances’ PvP by boosting all characters to the same level while entirely ignoring the fact that the characters that are closest to the upper bound of the level cap will have access to gear which puts them far outside the reach of anyone at the lower end. Going into a scenario when you’re level one or two and trying to put even a dent into a level eleven character is an exercise in frustration and futility; I’ve seen a level eleven cloth-wearing priest happily tanking five low level axe-wielding fighters with consummate ease until the rest of their side arrived. There seems little point in having a free trial to a game when any genuinely new player is going to head into the much touted main area of content – RvR – and find themselves slaughtered constantly at the hands of twinked-out characters at the upper bounds of the tier. You might as well just have the trial be a couple of staff who go around and yank the nose hair of anyone trying to download the client. Trial by name, trial by nature.

What happens for me is that I get bored with constantly running scenarios and oRvR because there isn’t enough variety in the maps and objectives to hold my interest, while at the same time there isn’t enough flexibility in the system to let me find new ways to contribute to the war effort. So when the tedium sets in I go off to play the PvE game for a change of pace, which is pleasant enough but which also nets me experience points. As soon as you switch to the PvE game you start to increase the disparity between your character rank and your renown rank, because whereas in PvP you gain both experience and renown, in PvE you gain experience only. What this means is that when you reach the top level of a tier of content you may not actually be able to equip the PvP gear available because it is gated based on renown rank. There is supposedly comparable PvE gear, but I find that it often lacks the stats I really want, and relies far more on random chance; the PvE gold quality set of items is, as far as I can tell, obtained through gold loot sacks from public quests, which aren’t guaranteed to drop for each completion of the PQ, and even when they do you then need to win a roll against others to get it. The gold quality set of PvP gear, however, is bought from a vendor with tokens which are rewarded with far more regularity in the various PvP sub-games.

WAR simply never seems to have known what it wants to be. It is a Frankenstein creation, full of brilliant ideas and clever concepts, all stitched together into the semblance of a hybrid PvE-PvP MMO, but which has never really found general acceptance in the PvE or PvP communities. As such it skulks around in the background of the MMO scene, trying to prove that it is a proper MMO even though its appearance inspires the mainstream of players to, at best, cross over to the other side of the street. Thankfully for WAR it is not a creation of Dr NCSoft, who tends to throw his handiwork from his tower down to the pitchfork wielding, torch waving masses at the first sign of imperfection.

The reason I don’t get on with PvP in WAR is that, in the main, the motto of the game seems to be: he who zergs, wins. There’s no empowerment of the individual, no Knightrider Effect where one man (or woman, thanks Stan) can make a difference. If you look at games such as EVE, and online FPS games such as Counter Strike, what you see is team battles where individuals can manage to overcome greater opposition through careful play, using hit-and-run tactics, and guerrilla warfare, and thus turn the tide of a battle. From my experience that just doesn’t happen in WAR, even in the smaller scenarios, you are either part of the Zerg or you are assimilated, and unfortunately for me that is a style of play that I don’t find compelling.

I am Healbot of Zerg. I am 6 of 24. Resistance is futile (you should have gone for +Wounds instead).

Once I make up my mind, I’m full of indecision.

I should have known that I could never be free.

My altitus is usually a constant companion, a non-combat vanity pet for my real world self, always at my side, bouncing up at me with a steady metronomic rhythm whenever I play an MMO, as though it had fallen on to a trampoline and didn’t quite know how to get off, all the while yipping at a frequency and intensity perfectly evolved to prevent any form of consistent continuous cogitation; and yet I hadn’t heard so much as a peep from it since I started playing Warhammer Online with the Van Hemlock crew’s Monday night static group. I thought I’d escaped the attentions of my altitus: having settled on playing a Witch Elf I had spent several evenings getting a feel for the game again, and I knew I had found the class for me. I marvelled at the concept of the lithe elf wearing nothing but a thong and bra who dual-wields daggers and lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce on the unwary healer or mage, stunning them momentarily as they process the fact that they seem to have drawn the attentions of an S&M dungeon mistress and then desperately try to recollect the safe word that had been agreed upon so they can make the pain go away. I was happy, I had a sassy female assassin, a sassassin if you will, and I was certain that I couldn’t be swayed from the path, not when the sassassin’s swaying curves glided along that path, soft and supple, in stark contrast to the hard, sharp curves of the blades held against them at the ready.

I paused and listened, and for the first time in an age the altitus was silent.

The guild got bigger. From the initial six members of the Lord of the Rings Online Monday night static group, the guild grew in size until we were able to field a full warband, and as the four groups were organised within that warband it was observed that we were a little short on healers.

I held my breath and waited.

I waited for the altitus to roar forth from its den of temporary hibernation, metamorphosed from small yappy annoyance into a raging frenzied monster of claws and teeth that would tear my gaming sanity to shreds and lay waste to any chance of me settling down and enjoying one class for the long run to the end game. But nothing came, not even a whimper. I pinched myself, looked in the mirror, stuck out my tongue, pulled my lower eyelids down, and tapped myself on the chest. I did a small shuffling dance of joy. Such was the allure of the sassassin that I, Sir Mr Alititus, Lord High Chancellor of Healing Alts, had not felt even the slightest twinge of desire, no pinpricks of heat on the back of my neck and beads of sweat on my brow that indicate the onset of alt fever, nothing. I knew that if I had resisted the urge to re-roll a healer then I must be cured: my favourite class of character, the group support role had always been my downfall, it’s the style of play I most enjoy and something I could never normally resist if there was a need for it within a group. M’colleague and several others, having found a renewed enthusiasm for the game, rolled alts to play outside of the Monday night group. I rolled a Disciple of Khaine in order to join them; I knew that rolling a melee healer (possibly my favourite class of character) was giving my altitus another chance to rear-up and take a swipe at me with giant paws, but I needed to know for certain.

I had to face my One Ring. I wanted to resist its temptation and pass the test. Whereupon I would diminish and go into the West. Or more likely, go into the kitchen and grab a celebratory bite to eat. I played the Disciple of Khaine for no more than a level or two before I grew tired of it and deleted the character. My heart just wasn’t in it: I watched the Disciple swing her swords, clumsy and random compared to the civilised daggers of the Witch Elf, as I wondered how she managed to move at all under all those layers of robes that ran from head to foot and back again. Sure she survived in combat far longer than the Witch Elf, but her victories seemed slow and tiresome in comparison – inevitable and thus predictable. The Witch Elf, in contrast, was exciting, unpredictable, dangerous. Messy. Putting yourself in a PvP scenario with a Witch Elf is like putting your hand in a box with a frightened and injured feral cat: at the very best you can expect to come away severely bloodied and covered in urine. She would appear naked out of nowhere, a sudden angry explosion, a flurry of feminine feline fury, the banshee howl of the air as her dagger blades cut through it, the cries of her victims, the ecstatic scream of the sassassin as she rent her foe’s skin and sanity in equal measure. The Witch Elf isn’t sexy, she is part of sex itself: she rides the steady back-and-forth back-and-forth rhythm of the battle, patiently building up to the point where she can be contained no longer, bursting forth in a paroxysm of soul-humming intensity for a few seconds before fading away again.

The altitus, had it even bothered to emerge, had surely slunk back to its den to sulk quietly and sullenly lick itself in self pity.

I was free. Had to be. The off-night alters continued to play their alternative characters and I came up with a droll concept name for an Orc Choppa based on a model of helicopter (or chopper) nicknamed the Jolly Green Giant, so I rolled it up one night and joined them.

Where the Witch Elf is patient, watching and waiting for the right moment to unleash her fury, the Orc Choppa is all fury all the time. To start off with, things were just mildly amusing, the initial set of abilities being a single target attack, a single target DoT, a single target snare, and a finishing move that does more damage the more fury the Choppa has built. He was more resilient than the Witch Elf, but at these low levels that didn’t mean much as most mobs went down quicker than a fanboy in a room full of developers.

And then I got my first AoE abilities and joined a PvP scenario.

The irony was not lost on me when altitus snuck out of the shadows and backstabbed me with a crit so big it would have made a Witch Elf give up there and then and join a convent.

There is no describing the feeling when you charge solo into the midst of a group of five or six enemy players and start wailing away with your AoE abilities and they begin to run away. There is no explanation for it either. They outnumber you, and although the AoE output of a Choppa is quite high, and the Choppa is quite resilient, it is never a combination that is likely to finish any of them off before they bring you down. The only thing I can think is that it’s simply the shock of it, especially in open RvR, where two groups tend to stand off from one another, making rude gestures from a safe distance as the ranged characters nip forward to plink away at the nearest enemy who is then easily healed by the massed ranks of healers tucked away behind them. So when a big angry Orc simply ignores all that protocol and etiquette and charges headlong into the midst of a group that moments ago assumed that it was immune to serious threat through careful observance of the rules of oRvR engagement, and when that big Orc starts doing enough damage to enough people that the more lightly armoured ones start to back away, it leaves the others exposed to not just the big green angry ball of muscle with a honking great axe grafted to it, but also his friends who have had their confidence bolstered and thus followed up with a charge of their own. Suddenly you have a rout, and although the Choppa inevitably perishes at some point in the initial skirmish, there is a brief moment when he is a green-skinned tusk-faced Poseidon, sweeping away all before him in a tidal wave of destructive force. It is a really curious phenomenon, the way players run away when they are under attack, invariably taking shots to the back all the time as they do so. Doubly so when you consider that it’s usually twenty seconds or less to run back to the fray should a player’s character die, and therefore death is nothing more than a minor inconvenience at worst, a convenient excuse for a drink or bio break otherwise. Clearly there is value in a tactical retreat when the enemy outnumber you, but when the enemy outnumber you and then *they* retreat when you press the attack there must surely be some other psychological effect at work, the observation of which is both fascinating and addictive. It’s not about winning or hurting others – I’m usually dead before more than one of the opposition is defeated – it’s the curious feeling of mania that it induces, that crazed frightening glee that comes over you, as though you’ve turned into the malevolent clown from children’s nightmares. It’s a feeling of primal power. Again though, the joy is focussed on the Choppa, not the enemy players it is intimidating. I realised that my pleasure came not directly from the reaction of the other players but from the way the Choppa worked to bring about such a reaction, when I remembered another MMO class that I played which also gave me the exact same feeling, but in a PvE setting: City of Villain’s Brute.

The Orc Choppa is a crude blunt-force instrument compared to the technical, precise scalpel of the Witch Elf, and although there’s appeal in both, with both having their part to play, it’s the Choppa’s ability to make a tangible psychological impact on the field of battle, in both my mind and the mind of other players, that makes it so incredibly appealing.

There’s a quote that comes to mind from William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic “If they think you’re crude, go technical; if they think you’re technical, go crude”.

Sometimes though, when they think you’re crude, it’s fun to show them that they’ve underestimated just how crude you are.

As my altitus decided to do for me, just the other day.

Plus ça change.

You know, Mythic, having come back to WAR to give it a second chance after the tempting lure of being able to play a Slayer, it’s hard for someone like me to stick around when, after all this time, your game STILL doesn’t remember the position of my chat windows, such that I have to move them every time I log in.

Minor things like this make your game look disproportionately shoddy and unprofessional, because they’re in the user’s face, and they’re there every time that user logs in.

I should be playing your game and not sitting here contemplating writing an AddOn to fix such a stupid thing.

Mythic News.

Dun dun dun dah dah, dun dun dah dah dah!

THIS is Mythic News. With your host… Melmoth Melmothson.




Well, the news is out, and opinions are swarming their way across the MMO blaguspore like a zerg in an RvR Objective factory. The announcement outlines some very interesting new features coming soon to a Warhammer Online near you. There are some major disappointments though, and I’m sure many of our readers will have been deeply shocked by one in particular.

Indeed it is my sad duty to inform you all that horse trousers have been cut from Mythic’s current patch plan for Warhammer Online for the foreseeable future.

Zoso is understandably inconsolable, and believe me we’ve tried to get him to play on his Wii. As I write this now, he’s sitting in the corner of the room cuddling his My Little Horse Trousers doll and weeping tears of pure vanilla extract. Or at least I imagine him to be, because we live seventy five miles away from one another, so I have no idea really.

So here’s a little song to cheer everyone up in this sad time. Enjoy!







You’re the Slayer, and we’re, like, the Slayerettes!

Arbitrary’s post on the need for more ‘hat quests’ in WAR for the Knight of the Blazing Sun triggered a comment from myself on the prospect of a Slayer mohawk ‘hair quest’. As ludicrous as it sounds, it did make me ponder on the nature of gear and customisation for the Slayer class. Slayers are traditionally not very well endowed in the clothing department, eschewing most armour for a more effective fighting style, a more honourable death and possibly to give a chance to the poor blighters that are facing them in combat. So how will gear work for Slayers in WAR?

Let’s take as read that Slayers will at least be allowed trousers, which although perhaps not flush with armour points, will give suitable bonuses to stats, and avoid the need for players to stare at dwarven buttock-beards for considerable lengths of time; my guess would be that Slayers will rely heavily on avoidance stats, such that they avoid or parry many blows but will take a bit of a pummeling when they do get hit. Let’s also allow Slayers to wear a chest piece, be it no more than a leather vest or a light chainmail shirt. This still leaves us with, at a minimum, feet, shoulders, head and hand slots that are free of armour and ideally need to be filled in some way.

My thought for this: tattoos.

There would be a special ‘armour’ item in the game based on tattoos. The tattoos would be for specific slots, just as their armour counterparts are, and could have stats attached to them much as gear does. Being that my idea of a Slayer is based on avoidance stats, you could have token amounts of armour attached to the tattoo without it totally breaking immersion: it would be slightly harder to accept that by forcing a pint of ink under one’s skin one would gain plate armour levels of damage resistance. However, the higher level tattoos could be magical in nature, Runic Tattoos say, and therefore justify higher levels of armour and other non-Slayer-like stats. I think this fits in quite nicely with the Slayer theme: if you see a heavily tattooed dwarf running at you, you know that he’s going to give you a good kicking; if, on the other hand he only has a heart with the word ‘Mother’ tattooed on one arm, you can probably take it as read that he’s fairly new to the school of slaying.

Thinking on customisation itself, there are lots of nice touches that can be added to the trophy slots on a Slayer: eye patches, nose-to-ear rings, even scars! Fighting a battle with a tough boss that rewards a trophy will award the Slayer a lovely-looking deep crusty scar to have run down one arm, or across your character’s back. Due to the fact that Mythic’s game is already a dark and dangerous place, they have the potential to make veteran Slayers look a real mess, but in the best possible way. Slayers, although stylised and eulogised among Warhammer fans, are generally nothing more than wandering wrecks, they’re the sentient living equivalent of ghost ships: terrifying to look upon, falling apart, haunted and dead to the world, while still refusing to actually die.

As for actual game-play, I’ll be interested to see what mechanic Mythic devises. The easy route would be to go with something like the standard rage mechanic as seen on WoW Warriors or City of Villain Brutes, where the longer the Slayer fights for, and the more enemies they defeat, the greater the damage they deal out as the blood lust takes a hold of them. It’s not a particularly exciting mechanic, but it is effective and proven to work. The interesting part will be how Mythic devise and structure the various Mastery paths (talent trees, to those WoW players out there) for the Slayer. At the moment I’m stuck on a Melee DPS Damage Path, a Melee DPS Damage Path, and… uh, a Melee DPS Damage path. Slayers are “dwarfs what kill stuff”, to use the Barnett parlance, and so it seems hard to see a Mastery path for a Slayer that doesn’t involve “killing stuff betterer”. Mastery paths could, for example, be based on weapon types, with axes doing pure burst damage, hammers having less damage but crowd control effects such as stuns, and daggers doing more damage than axes but through DoT bleed effects and the like, such that the damage is spread out over time. My other thought is that the Mastery paths could be based around weapon styles, so Two Handed, Dual Wield and… uh, hmmm a one handed weapon and shield is just not very Slayerish, and a one handed weapon on its own would be a bit pointless. I would, therefore, offer up a new item: the Battle Horn. The Battle Horn is something that the Slayer can blow in combat to strike fear into their foes and raise the morale of their fellows. This would allow the Slayer to be more than just a melee DPS class, to bring a little utility to the field of battle by providing some de/buffs. The standard Slayer would be able to use the Battle Horn and provide these de/buffs, but the Slayer who specialises in the Battle Horn Mastery path has additional benefits added to the standard versions of these abilities, as well as the core de/buffs being improved by putting points in to Battle Horn Mastery, as it is with the Masteries of other classes already.

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts from someone who is desperately trying not to get too excited about the chance to play one of their favourite RPG classes – trying not to be a total Slayerette – they aren’t meant as predictions for what we will actually see from Mythic, they’re just ideas that I needed to write down because they were flailing around in my head like a Slayer in an encampment of chaos henchmen.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

If the rumours are true, then I have my work cut out for me. Within months there could finally be a melee DPS dwarf in Warhammer Online. Not just any dwarven melee DPS, but the hint from Mythic’s marketing hype machine suggests that it’s going to be the legendary Slayer or a close derivative thereof.

I’ve mentioned recently in passing that I would quite like to play a Slayer in Warhammer Online. ‘Would quite like to’ as your average cat ‘would quite like to’ lounge around all day snorting lines of catnip from off of the claw-shredded remains of your favourite curtains.

So I have to get as far as I can in LotRO with my current melee DPS dwarf in order to determine whether I want to stick with lording it up online, or to move across and get my mohawk on. Admittedly even if I do switch back to WAR and give the old girl one more whirl, I’ll probably keep my LotRO subscription running because even though I generally can’t play more than one MMO at a time in earnest, I do think that LotRO has enough to offer even the most casual of drop-in players.

All of which reminds me that I must have another crack at leveling my melee DPS dwarf in World of Warcraft. To have a melee DPS dwarf at the level cap in three MMOs is a fine goal, don’t you think?

Well, an altoholic dwarf fancier can dream. Oh how I dream.

War torn.

I’ve decided not to continue my subscription to Warhammer Online. Or, to put it more accurately, I’ve decided not to subscribe at all, since GOA were not resourceful enough to demand my credit card details from the outset, and thus I never actually had any semblance of a subscription plan in the first place.

Now, all those fanlings out there who take joy at frothing and foaming at any slight to their game, no matter how small and no matter how irrelevant the instigator, can feel free to fire-up their email clients and compose stern letters in poorly spelled words of no more than two syllables telling me just how wrong I am. Rest assured I will print out every email and give each one the intimate attention it deserves; even if it means I have to wipe my bottom raw, I will make sure I cover each and every point you make.

So why am I not subscribing? I’m not having fun; this much is as irrefutable as the gravity on this beloved planet of ours. Why am I not having fun? If I could only tell you the reason, I would, but then I would also be able to tell Mr Jacobs, preferably on a contract salary with many, many zeros at the end of it, and to be brutally honest I’d much rather do that because, regardless of the monetary recompense, I wouldn’t have to wipe my bum sore on all the ranty opinionated drivel that was sent my way.

I simply don’t know why.

To put things in to context a little, then: I’ve tried numerous classes, on Order and Destruction, and have found nothing really wanting with them, they are all excellent takes on the classical classes, with unique twists and attempts to involve the player more; some work better than others, but they all work. I’ve played alongside some fabulous people in a guild that is both populous and active, and therefore have not simply tired of soloing a game that was never meant to be played solo other than by the hardcore grinder. I’ve probably had as many victories as I have had defeats in PvP, such that I have not been put off by the game’s heavy PvP bias; in fact, I’ve found that upon cracking open my sugar-coated carebear shell there was a soft, delicious chocolaty PVP centre within me. Warhamer Online has, if nothing else, opened my eyes to how good PvP can be. Guild Wars showed us that an MMO with a PvP focus could endure and remain fresh in the public consciousness, much like Everquest showed us that MMORPGs could work in an online world of FPSs and RTSs; and much as World of Warcraft brought MMORPGs to the masses, I believe Warhammer Online brings large scale PvP to the same. Make no mistake, World of Warcraft had the mass-market PvP first, but Warhammer made it compelling beyond a mere treadmill-like league of grinding phat loots, instead making it integral to the whole game experience, tying it inexorably to your character’s fundamental reason for being.

Still the question stands: why am I not having fun? There must be something tangible to grab on to, some tiny annoying loose thread that mars an otherwise immaculate dinner jacket of a game. Perhaps it’s not that I cannot find the thread, but that I fear to pull on it lest my entire view of MMOs unravels before my eyes, and I’m left wearing the rather tatty and dishevelled waistcoat of MMO disillusionment. Can we just accept that for some reason the game does not work for me on a basic primal level, and leave it at that? Look, I like Shakespeare’s works; I love to visit the Globe and be a groundling for an evening, or in times passed watch the RSC at the Barbican before they decided to turn into some sort of travelling troupe. Yet I know many, many people who don’t get it. They don’t enjoy it in any way shape or form, even if it’s cast in a Baz Luhrmann too-hip-to-be-cool mould. I never ask them as to why, though, for what sort of answer could one expect? It’s boring. It’s inaccessible. It’s outdated, maybe? To me these seem like crazy reasons, but that’s not because these people aren’t right, it’s just that they can’t really put their finger on why they don’t like it. They. Just. Don’t. I can’t argue with them for not liking it, you can’t say to someone “Well, if you just read all around the topic and studied it for a few years. Perhaps take to quoting sonnets until your brain can only form sentences structured in iambic pentameter. Then you’d probably enjoy it”, that’s not an argument for the joy to be found in Shakespeare, it’s an argument that says “You’re at fault and you should work hard to correct that”. No, no and thrice no. Enjoyment of pastimes is not a chore, it is a pleasure from the start or it is nothing at all. Yes you often have to work at an interest to experience all the enjoyment that it has to offer, but there has to be that base interest in the first place, that foundation of pleasure and enthusiasm to build upon, else you’re building something that will not stand even the lightest of pushes against it.

If pressed, if truly harangued by the torch-bearing, pitch-fork wielding horde of fanatical fans of the game, smashing at the doors of the KiaSA windmill while I stand above them on a balcony, cursing them for their lack of understanding and their heathen ways, I would perhaps offer a few vagaries in the hope that they would pause for a moment in contemplation and then leave me in peace. These would be thus:

The so good:

  • The character and world design is fantastic. Grittier than World of Warcraft and eschewing shoulder pads that rival the wingspan of 747 airliners and weapons that could be used to span the English channel and support multi-lane highway access to the continent, Warhammer’s characters are closer to the tabletop miniatures, they still have their comedy moments, but it is the refined surreal comedy of the Mighty Boosh as opposed to the gaudy over-the-top comedy of South Park.
  • The war. War is indeed good. We’re still not sure what it’s good for (huh), but we can agree that Mythic has certainly delivered on its promise to develop realm pride and to allow that pride to be represented (yo) on the field of battle.
  • The game is at least trying to do some things differently. Many of these things work and work well, others are great in concept but have lacked a little in their realisation.

The not so good:

  • The XP curve. Fixes have already begun to filter through for this, and if there’s anything most MMO players can cope with it’s a tedious repetitive grind, so I don’t imagine that this will be a problem for long.
  • There is still too often a tangible disconnect between what I do with the interface and what my character appears to do on the display. The effects work – the healing is delivered, the enemy is smote with damage – but my character appears to be doing something entirely different a lot of the time, playing the banjo or crafting origami badgers, it doesn’t matter, the fact is that I cannot easily tell if what I did had the desired effect without parsing the combat log or upgrading the floating combat numbers with an AddOn and then spending my entire time staring at text on the screen. Which I could do playing MUD1.
  • Huge parts of the game already feel like WoW’s 1-60 content: empty, abandoned and unused. I have visited so many public quests and out of the way areas and found nobody else around. On odd occasions I’ve found another lone soul and we’ve teamed-up in order to try to accomplish something, but mainly we just end-up standing and quietly holding one another, a forlorn attempt to affirm our connection to a world where one steps into a void as soon as one leaves the grind-filled ruts of the common levelling path.
  • Scenarios break public quests. Simply put, public quests should have been available on a queue system like scenarios are, or scenarios should not have been on a queue system but accessed from specific locations around the world map, with those locations preferably being close to public quests (which would have been rubbish, because instant fix PvP is one of the excellent design decisions Mythic made). Mythic came up with two excellent game systems that unfortunately aren’t terribly compatible in their current state. With scenarios having the greatest XP-per-effort/time ratio, they won out, as has been discussed by m’colleague and numerous others already.

There’s nothing game-breaking or truly awful in the above, they are just a few areas that help contribute to my lack of desire to play the game. They are not the reason for my lack of desire, however, this I wish to make abundantly clear; the game doesn’t work for me at a fundamental level, but it works for a vast number of others and I’m deeply happy for, and somewhat envious of, them. And if none of that helps to pacify the lynch mob, or at least confuse them long enough that I can make my escape by the back door, then I shall just have to play the Boris Karloff part to Zoso’s Frankenstein, lift him up before the crowds and present him as the sensible one, the brains of the operation, the one who is still playing WAR and enjoying it, and to entreat them not to destroy us with their flames just because they perceive me as a monster.


The default dwarf mount is the gyrocopter, a bizarre half helicopter, half microlight steampunk affair which is nevertheless only able to move along at ground level, with the ensconced dwarf’s feet dangling a few inches above the world as they burble and clank along.

In terms of the game world, gyrocopters are actually capable of full flight, as evidenced by the travel system between zones, where characters are strapped into one of these unconventional contraptions and the player is then subjected to a short cut scene of said character launching off into the distance, an undignified affair for any robe wearers (which is a good three quarters of all Order classes) it must be said, as they gyrate overhead, legs akimbo, underpants on show for all the world below to see.

However, it would be slightly biased towards the diminutive race of hearty eccentro-engineers if their mounts could launch them across maps in all three dimensions of space, so they are restricted in the game to only being allowed to hover a few inches off the ground, and one has to wonder why the designers didn’t just remove the main rotor and stick some wheels on the thing instead. Still, that’s the least of anyone’s concerns, because as you ‘fly’ around Altdorf you very quickly come to realise that, as such a short race, hovering a few inches off the ground for a dwarf means that the main rotor of the gyrocopter is perfectly placed at throat height for the somewhat taller races of elf and man…

I can only imagine the bloody carnage that I leave in my wake as I barrel around the city streets at break-neck speeds; peasants, nobles and merchants alike all have to leap out of the way of my thrumming and grinding decapitating mechanical monstrosity as it hurtles past in a cloud of smoke and churned-up leaf litter. All those poor children forced to live on the streets because their parents were mown down by a dwarf trying to get to the ale house before it closed, while they themselves were spared due to their short stature. Not to mention the number of cats that have been sucked-up into the rotor and flung out into the harbour or diced into skaven feed, or had their tails caught up in the gearing mechanism and then been flung out of the exhaust pipe like some sort of feline cannon shot. Many a dog has been seen scampering down the street, tongue lolling out, barking after a gyrocopter, only to be found later missing an eye and a leg and howling from the roof of a town house where it has been stuck for several hours.

There’s a whole section in the slums of Altdorf that is a crumbled ruin which burns day and night, it used to be one of the more affluent areas of the city. Until the gyrocopters came.

Ever wondered why you never see children with skipping ropes in the streets of Altdorf? After the Great Gyrocopter Garrotting of 2508, skipping ropes were banned in all major public areas.

It’s fun to be a dwarf.

Come fly with me.

A picture is worth a thousand words; that well known saying made famous at the battle of Bordygaim where the Puritan Scrabbliers faced off against the Royalist Pictionariheads is as true today as it was back then, when men fought tooth and nail to spell flanking on a triple word score whilst their enemy desperately tried to draw a convincing image of a pincer movement

“What the hell is that supposed to be?!”

“Damnit, man, it’s a crab! See?! And that’s its pincer!”

“Look, just underlining the drawing ten times doesn’t make it any bloody clearer you… grahghhhh, ‘bayonet’… in a single play… on a double word score. Tell Mary… that I love her… urk”

“You love her what? ”

“No, no, tell her that ‘I love her’. Full stop. Then ‘urk’, as in the sound of my death throe”.

“Oh. No wonder we always lose these battles”.

Don’t know what that was all about, sorry. So yes, picture, thousand words, the worthiness thereof; as such a picture of some words must be worth a lot in word currency! So here is one:


So what does it mean? Because in all its thousand word descriptiveness, it may still not be clear. Allow me to elucidate.

A small band of valiant guild members had banded together in order (Meh! Order! Because we play on the side of Ord… never mind) to participate in a few scenarios for the evening. In this instance (Meh! Instance! Because it’s an ins… never mind), we were playing Phoenix Gate, a capture the flag affair, with the forces of Order and Destruction locked together in a combat spiral of death and carnage as they desperately try to grab the opposition’s flag and run it back to their own flag. And then touch them together. I can only assume that it’s some sort of bizarre pseudo-sexual ritual, a deflowering of the enemy’s flag-based chastity. Yes folks, as we all know, ‘touching flags’ is an even more devastating war crime than slaughtering village stores, pillaging innocent villagers and molesting their livestock; at least that’s the way it’s done here at kiasa.org, because we like to mix things up a bit: it keeps the enemy on their toes, and gives them something to talk about on those long dark nights as they try to console their cattle.

It was a close battle, the forces of Order had made a quick dash and grab of the enemy’s flag, and they had done likewise, and as is often the way in these battles it seemed as though never the twain would meet, as a few defenders hung around with the flag carrier and the rest of the forces slugged it out in one war camp or the other or somewhere in-between. However, your intrepid reporter, clad in the traditional combat correspondent’s outfit of full plate armour and a large two-handed axe, made his way into the enemy camp and, without bothering to fight, spent time being pummelled by the enemy as he scouted around the place in order to ascertain where the dastardly Khun (a portmanteau of Khainites and Hun, although it does come but a nice cup of Earl Grey away from being an even better description) had hidden their flag carrier. As you can see from the screenshot, I found the fellow, and snuck around the back of the hill he was hiding upon, crept up to him and attacked! Alas, he had company hidden in the nearby trees who I hadn’t spotted, and I was rapidly sent back to the makeshift hospital tent in our own war camp.

I was not finished, however. For I am dwarf. Hear me roar! A quick patch-up by the doctors and I was back at the enemy camp, but this time I had a plan. A plan that involved more than charging in and flailing around with my axe. A plan so cunning that you could put a robe on it and call it a wizard. Ironbreakers have an infamous ability called “Away With Ye!”, it’s a massive knock-back on a fairly long cool-down which costs thirty Grudge. For those who don’t know, Ironbreakers principally build Grudge by being hit, or their Oath Friend (someone who they’ve chosen to protect) being hit. There are other methods for generating Grudge, but that’s the basic one, it’s very similar to a Warrior’s Rage in World of Warcraft. So being fresh back to the enemy’s war camp, I was also fresh out of Grudge, and not wanting to alert the enemy to my presence, I needed a way to build Grudge stealthily. Here’s where the joy of the Oath Friend comes in, because I can select an Order player who is some distance away, say, a tough tank in the middle of combat with the enemy, and as they are hit while fighting, I get to build Grudge.

So suitable Oath Friend selected, I again snuck around the back of the enemy hill and made my way to the top, checked my Grudge was now high enough to power “Away With Ye!” and charged the enemy’s flag carrier. The first mistake he’d made was in standing on the edge of the hill and watching the battle that raged below between the bulk of the Destruction and Order forces. The second mistake he’d made was in thinking that the dwarf charging towards him was going to fall for the old “friends hiding in the trees” trick again.

The third mistake he made was in not realising that the dwarf had rotated his weapon in his hands such that it was the big, flat face of the axe that was facing towards him, and not the edge of the blade.

As he turned to face me with that mocking look on his face, and his friends again dashed out from their hiding places amongst the trees, I swung my axe for all I was worth and hollered “Away With Ye!” The flat face of the axe smote him full-bore in the chest and with my momentum behind the swing I flung him in the most mathematically beautiful parabola ever seen by man, elf or dwarf. He arced through the air with all the grace of stone from a trebuchet and landed smack-bang in the middle of the forces of Order.

Suffice it to say, he wasn’t looking smug for very long after that, or at least it was hard to tell, what with the various parts of his anatomy being spread out over such a large area.

Order promptly capped the flag and were ultimately victorious. And if I never win another scenario again I’ll die a happy dwarf, because I’ll always, always have that moment, the split second after launch, when the enemy realised that I wasn’t trying to defeat him myself, I was, like any good Ironbreaker, merely there to enable my team to do so, by any means necessary.

I am dwarf. Hear me roar!

Any man can lose his hat in a fairy-wind.

Progress in Warhammer Online continues apace, the game is certainly fairly stable as far as MMOs go, and free enough from coarseness that one can play quite happily without feeling the need to write a stern forum post explaining just how much of an insult the game is to your family, and that the developers might as well come around to your house, poo in the middle of your lounge and attempt to sexually molest your cat, because it would be less offensive to you than trying to play their game. Believe me, such posts have been written in the past and will be written again in the future; I did not write them, but I have witnessed them in all their glory, and like a drunken hobo performing a striptease on the buffet table at a Michelin-starred restaurant, you can feel the awkward silence and embarrassed tension building to a crescendo, even in such a wasteland of emotional expression as a text-based forum.

Of all the minor inevitable niggles that are prominent in my day-to-day gaming, there is one that particularly grates with me. Its importance in the grand scheme of things is so minute that it wouldn’t bother me at all, except for the fact that it exists, and in existing it should not be, because how on earth do you implement such a minor vanity thing and then not have it work? The mind boggles.

“Oh but my dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Lord Melmoth”, I hear you cry, “with it being such a minor vanity item the developers obviously had more important things to fix before release”. A fair point, to which I would feel compelled to respond “But my right honourable, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely darlings, why put the thing in at all when it simply doesn’t work, why not just leave it out?”. And I imagine you would then say “Oh Melmoth, run away with me and let us find a small quiet village in the highlands where we can settle down, start a family together, grow alfalfa and raise rabbits”. Maybe.

A slight derailing of the thought train there. Um… niggles! Right. So this niggle is quite simple, doesn’t affect anything important in the game unless you’re me, in which case it’s more important than working out whether using blocks of cheese as dipping items for a cheese fondue is considered bad form. Simply put: turning the display of your helmet on and off doesn’t work.

No wait, come back, this is important! We’ll do the cheese fondue thing next, I promise!

Look, it may just be me (no ‘may’ about it — Ed.), but why put something like this in to the game when it’s fundamentally broken? Yes, you can turn the display of your helmet off – this is important for me because I find the bald spot on my dwarf to be an excellent reflective surface off of which I can bounce sunlight into the eyes of my foes – but it is reset, well, in every situation imaginable. Going into a scenario? Helmet resets and is displaying again once you’ve entered. Coming out of a scenario? Helmet resets. Going into an instanced building? Reset. Coming out the building. Reset. Standing around scratching your bum? Reset. Setting your helmet to not be displayed? Reset.

Ok, probably not the last one, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s not the fact that it’s broken, so much, as the fact that someone went to all the trouble of writing the code to get this to do something close to what it was meant to do, and then, what? I mean, they must have seen that the state reverts between world instances, was that really such a terribly time-constrained problem to solve considering they’d had the time to invest in implementing the basic feature in the first place?

“Well Stan, I’ve stuck in the code to turn off the display of helmets, but it doesn’t work in any but the most specific and useless cases, unfortunately they keep re-appearing.”

“Great! Call it a feature! We’ll call them Magic Appearing Helmets. Of Greatness. Plus One. In fact, get marketing to stick it in as a unique item for the Collector’s Edition.”

“Uh, but it’ll happen for everyone.”

“No problem, we’ll just say that we’ve decided to be generous and give magic hats to all. The peasants will love us!”

“The CEO said we weren’t to call them peasants any more, Stan.”

“Oh ok, the plebs.”




“Skinner box rats with a line of credit?”

“Jesus, Stan, I’m out of here.”

“What about the magic helmets?”

“Forget it. I think I’ll go and half-implement the mail box system or something”.