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Archive for July, 2010

Hi everyone!

I know I haven’t posted much the last week and the reason is quite simple. I’m on vacation and Starcraft 2 is really eating up a lot of my free time (no I’m not spending my vacation in front of a computer!).  The past week has been really quiet on the MMO front with me logging on quickly on to WoW to say hi from time to time. I’ve signed up for an ICC later today so I’ll probably do that but I don’t think I’ll do a ton of MMO playing in the next few days.

I’ve been busy mainly with Starcraft 2 single player campaign. I’m doing it on hard to make things more interesting and so far there’s been a few mission that made me swear. Little spoiler, dark templars are your friends during In Utter Darkness. The campaign has been a blast and I strongly recommend anyone with a love for good sci-fi to pick it up even if only for the story. This game is truly in the tradition of old Blizzard games with an incredibly detailed and immersive storyline. Plus there’s all these little reference to pop culture like your tech guy being called Egon Stetman (named after two Ghostbusters characters) that are fun to find. They are well hidden enough this time that they don’t look too much out of place.

That’s it for now. I’ll do a more detailed review when I’m done with the campaign. Feel free to add Lono (code:248) to your friends if you want to!

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With Starcraft 2 coming out tomorrow and lots of new players jumping online I thought I’d give this little rundown on cheese. No not the delicious fermented dairy product but rather the incredibly annoying and frustrating strategies you will encounter at one point or another.

Knowing your cheese

Cheese is basically a strategy that involves doing a very specific game plan in the hope of pulling a victory by a mean the other player cannot defend against. For example, I could rush to air incredibly quickly with the hope you won’t have any appropriate defenses. Or I could do a cannon rush into your base, building cannons right at the periphery of your base and then building new ones inching closer and closer into your base. If you haven’t seen and prevented my first cannon you will probably be defeated. Cheese can be incredibly frustrating to play against because it often leaves the feeling you didn’t stand a chance, wich is true when a cheese is well executed.

Despite offering quick and easy ways to victory cheese is actually a very high risk tactic that if failed, will usually guarantee a defeat for the one doing it. In order to be able to pull off the crazy speed or weird builds, cheese will leave you with a broken economy and behind in terms of technology. If you can resist a cheese without taking too much damage you will be able to to just roll over your opponent in most cases.

Cheese will be encountered at all levels of play but it’s very much more common at the lower levels of play. There’s a lot of bad players who rely on cheese as their one and only game plan to win and are unable to come up with anything else. They figure that since they win it’s the best way to play but they fail to realize that stable play will give them more wins in the long run rather than their one trick pony. High level cheese is often not something that is decided at the beginning of the game but rather an opportunity seen by a more experience player. For example, if your opponent scout early that you are going for economy build is answer might be to do a zergling cheese wich is faster to execute than your build. This kind of cheese is way harder to defend from and its usually a good sign that you need to rethink your strategy.

Defending against cheese

There’s one and only one way to truly defend agaisnt cheese and that is scouting. If you scout your opponent early in the game and keep doing so, you will have an excellent idea of what he’s up to and what to expect. If your first scout sees a spawning pool and close to no drones for example you can be pretty sure a zergling rush is on the way. Armed with that knowledge you know what to expect and what to do.

The other way to defend is to lose at least once to that particular cheese. Once you’ve been fooled you know what signs to look for.

It’s simple as that. There’s no magic trick or special knowledge. Safe and stable play will beat out cheese almost every time. Every time I’ve been defeated by cheese it was because I forgot to scout or went for some funky build. I had me to blame first and foremost.

With that I’m off to countdown the hours before I get my hand on the full game!

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For some reason or another, Champion of the Frozen wastes had always eluded me on my characters. It seemed I simply could not get that damn Malygos to drop. Well no more! Finally, after what seems years I got into a pug that dropped him in record as if he was some kind of kobold and I have my title!

I don’t know why this makes me so happy.

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I’ve been playing Blizzard games since I was 10 I think, right there with the Warcraft and Lost Vikings. I’ve always been a fan of their work and their games and for a long time I was literally dreaming of being able to work with them and create awesome games. I got a little older but still, Blizzard has always been that somewhat magical place where awesome gets made everyday.

Then WoW came and the relationship changed. It was awesome at first and then I started getting some beatings. Like a lot of people I tought about leaving them right then and there but everytime they would come back with a wonderful new dungeon or raid and a box of chocolate and I’d fall in love all over again. So it’s been for the past 6 years now.

Recently I tought I had become wiser from my time away from them and that I could now use a clear judgment to deal with them and their seducing ways… then they released this yesterday.

This gave me a nerdgasm like nothing before. I swear that when I get my hands on that game on the 27th me and him are going to spend some quality X rated time together.

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From Lotro to WoW

It’s not big secret that recently I’ve been playing mostly WoW and that Lotro has taken a hit. A big hit in fact. It’s going on close to ten days since I’ve logged in and probably two or three weeks since I’ve had any serious game session. Is it because Lotro suddenly became boring or did Blizzard used some obscure Voodoo ritual to drag me back in? We will never know but what’s sure is that my interest took a dive with two events happening close to one another. Getting into Moria and finding a group for a dungeon.

The group

Right before entering Moria I answered a call in chat while questing in Eregion. Simply enough, someone was looking for more people to complete the Library, a short 3 man dungeon. I loved it, it was blast and the most fun I had in a long time in a MMO. Not because the dungeon was that awesome (was pretty ordinary in fact) but because I had to tackle a challenge as a group. I had been playing Lotro mostly solo for the past 4 months and to do something as group was an incredible breath of fresh air. It also made me realize I was missing something…

Moria

Moria could and will deserve a post all of its own. It’s an awesome looking place and it has all the right stuff I would expect out of the place. It’s a  place of wonder where forgotten tombs are right next to grand works of the past or some fantastic underground wonder. It’s exactly how I pictured it should look like and once again Turbine has nailed the lore part. Where I feel they fell short is in the game design area. Moria is where the game takes a definite WoW-esque turn. Centralized quest hubs, rep grinds for mounts, daily quests, repeatable dungeons to upgrade weapon and armor, it starts to feel a lot like WoW with a different skin. While all these elements where present in the game before they were not as central as they are once you hit Moria.

What I came to realize that was not obvious to me at first is that I was in fact disappointed by the Moria. Not because it looks bad or it’s done poorly but simply because the focus of the game switched from exploration to getting gear and doing dungeons. While I do enjoy doing that in WoW, Lotro has always been this game of exploration for me and I don’t really want it to become WoW. If I want to play WoW I’ll do just that.

Switching

Wich is exactly what I did in the end. I was faced with the choice of playing WoW alone (lotro) or playing WoW with other people (WoW). I chose the later option and since then Lotro has been gathering dust along with DDO.

That said I’m not abandoning Lotro quit yet. For one I do enjoy exploring it and I’m not done yet with seeing Middle-Earth. I suppose that for those days when I don’t feel like being bothered by WoW instead of leveling my alt I’ll go back to Lotro and explore a bit.

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This post has been last updated on July 14th 2011.

I was at first going to write this from a tank perspective but as I was writing it I figured that it applied to everyone. After all, raid awareness is something that everyone needs in order to clear raids now. While tanking is one of the jobs who require the most raid awareness and made me research ways of improving the following applies to everyone. This is a very long post wich I divided in sections for easier reading.  There is a tanking and raiding philosophy in there that I know some people don’t agree with so feel free to not agree but this has worked for me.

(more…)

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Return to Azeroth

I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m only testing the waters with WoW anymore. Based on the time I’ve put into the game these past few days its pretty clear I’m fully back in it. While I did not spend more time playing MMOs, WoW did take up all of that time. If anything my approach of doing whatever the hell I feel like doing is paying off big time.

So what have I been up to? A lot actually. I’ve started leveling a troll shaman from the ground up to see what that class was about. In close to six years playing its one of the few classes I had never taken above level 5. I’m now standing at level 16 and so far it’s been great fun. I love the totem/shock mechanic and all the options I have.

But I was ignoring what my black heart was calling for. In a dark corner my death knigth was looking at me and bidding his time. Knowing at some point I’d cave in to the promess of untold power and eternal life. Before I stopped playing I loved my DK. Of all the things I don’t like about WoW and caused me to quit my DK was not one of them. I love tanking with it and I just plain enjoy the class. Just like Larisa the mage and other players who stick with one class, death knight is my class and I’d have trouble seeing myself not playing one.

But the main lure that dragged me back to playing him was having a level 80. While my shaman is fun, he doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to meeting people. Most people at that level are rushing through the levels and the low-level guilds have always been unreliable at best and more often than not, nests of griefers and clueless players. Yes, I want to meet people but I don’t want to boost everyone up either. In that way my DK offered me more opportunity to meet new people.

The raid

Kaozz had offered when I transferred my DK to join up with her guild. I was interested but I wasn’t sure if I’d stick with WoW and I wasn’t sure they needed an extra tank. So while the offer was on the table I was playing hard to get, not saying no but not saying yes either. Yesterday an opportunity presented itself. Kaozz guild was going to head to Ruby Sanctum and they needed a tank. I told Kaozz I’d do it since it would be a good opportunity for me to see if I could stomach raiding again and also for me to check out the guild before taking a decision.

So the raid went rather okay. We didn’t down Hallion but we had the fight pretty much unde control and only needed dps to be more aware of the twilight cutter. We wiped a lot but people remained calm wich was something I was looking for. How would they behave when there’s a difficult raid. The big thing that impressed me however is that the raid leader did put his pants on. He called names when they needed to be called and threatened some members with getting their act together or he’d replace them. That, for me, is an excellent sign of a healthy raid environment. It might not look super friendly at first but having people accountable is for the better in the long run.

In many ways I was happy we didn’t manage to down the boss, hard raids are way more telling of a guild character than a successful, easy raid. Toward the end of the night I decided to stop playing hard to get and joined up with her guild. I must have made an impression because I got asked right away if I’d be on hand to tank later during the week. Told them I didn’t know for now but its fun to know your wanted.

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