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Archive for January, 2011

I’ve seen both sides of the fence now. On one side there’s running heroics with a guild, a group of people who will help you out and understand that you need time to learn the new rotations, time to learn how to pull tricky trash or how to time heals for a particular boss. It’s a fun and rich experience, rewarded with some loot you actually felt like you worked a bit for it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Then there’s the heroic Pug experience. A cesspool of abuse and intolerant people. Every mistake is magnified, every occasion to demean group members is taken and success is determined by luck. It’s a three-hour game of russian roulette with five bullets in the gun and a group of horny talibans to keep you company. You know it’s not going to end well and you’re probably going to need therapy after it.

I hear you! In a few months it’s going to be different! We’ll all be geared like commandos and the evils of the PuGs will be defeated once and for all. It will be boring as it was before and everything will be back to normal. But you know what? I don’t quite get why I should spend a few months in the cave before finally being allowed to see the light.

But enough with the middle-east innuendos. I’m seriously wondering why Blizzard doesn’t just remove Heroics from the LFD tool. Think about it. If at the moment, everyone agrees that being flayed alive is more fun than suffering a heroic PuG, why the hell don’t we just remove it. Yeah, it’s nice to be able to complete a group with a missing Dps but for all of those having PuGs as their main  path to gear, why not save them the pain and the frustration? Put it back in a few months when things have settled down if needs be.

But why leave something there that is obviously doing more harm than good?

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Overwhelmed monkey update

I know, I know, I skipped Lotro wednesday this week! No, its not because I’ve been playing WoW or any other games but simply a case of real life kicking me repeateadly in the nuts. To be fair I hardly played at all this week. I did squeeze in some Lotro time and I’m moving foward in the shire, killing spiders, wolves and helping hobbits avoid the dangers of poisoned pie. Level 14 and loving it!

On the WoW front I discovered that a lot of cata quests I did horde side I could redo alliance side. While at first I was swearing a little under my breath I quickly found it to be coolest thing ever. Why? Because all my reputation transfered to its alliance opposite. So I have all my rep and I can redo the quests to gain even more rep. Suddenly makes rep farming a lot easier, even feels like cheating a bit.

Besides that I’ve done a few heroics with Eff the inneffable. Have managed to add Vortex Pinnacle to my done list and we had a few good tries in heroic Grim Batol. Heroics are not easier per say, but on average we did better than pugs and there was no blaming or complaining, so big improvement there. But it does drive home the point that heroics and pugs are not meant to work together. They might as well remove heroics from LFD.

So, I’m trying not be overwhelmed with work and keep my morale up!

PS: To everyone trying out Rift please write it sucks.. I don’t need to be tempted with new shinnies right now.

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The shortest break ever.

I’ve resubed to WoW, switched server and joined up with Eff the Inneffable over on Azuremyst.

There, I said it. I guess that makes me one of the most fickle player out there but I’d rather be wrong than being a hypocrite and pretending I’m done with WoW when I’m not. I still believe what I said last week and that WoW still has major issues when it comes to railroading players.

What changed my mind? A few things actually. The first was an email I got as a reply to the WoW disease post asking me if I had actually tried to play along WoW new rules instead of fighting them. Maybe I would find out they were not so bad and that I would actually like them. To be honest I did not give the new WoW play style an honest try, I was set in my playing routine from the end of Wrath.

The second is a challenge I wanted to set myself for a long time. Namely, can I juggle two MMOs at once? I tried before managing two MMOs at once and failed every time. Yet, I see some of you doing it and you all seem to have blast doing so. Resubbing to Lotro made me realize I missed it and while I play WoW, I also want to play Lotro. This time around I’m consciously challenging myself.  By the way, I am looking for advice on how to manage two MMOs at once from you experts!

Finally and most importantly, I want to help out Eff the Inneffable succeed. I’ve been reading Alas recent entries and Zelmaru’s and I feel a connection with what they are trying to accomplish. I have lived through the same kind of drama as them, and have tried to build up the same kind of guild with Walk the Plank for a while. I suck at guild leadership so Walk the Plank never really took off but I firmly believe in the idea of casual raiding and I want to help to make it work.  I can be a dps or a tank for them and sometimes that’s all you need, an extra member, to make it work. I want Eff the Inneffable to work out.

So fickle monkey has been fickle and I look forward to happy nights of raiding and having fun smoking in the Shire all at the same time. And yes, I’m aware I’m probably completely nuts.

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Monkey’s WoW status update

I’m writing this today as a follow-up to my WoW disease post and to make clear my current status regarding WoW. Quite a few bloggers have linked to my post and I’m flattered that all of you, intelligent and well-balanced people, have participated in the discussion. I wanted to have a good discussion about that nagging feeling I had and for the most part that’s what I got.

So this next part is addressed to all the wow haters who have hijacked my post to fuel your WoW bashing and to all the WoW fanboys who jump at anyone who dares to speak up against your god. Die, all of you, in a fire. Get cancer too while you’re at it. Just go reread the comments on the post  if you want to see how to disagree with someone without becoming a savage, lots of good example in there.

Now that’s been taken care of, a lot of you have been asking about my current WoW status. Right now, I’m on a break from WoW. I’m unsuscribed and I may or may not pick the game again in the future. I do not hate Blizzard or think that WoW is the worst thing to have happened to humankind. In fact, if someone new to MMOs asked me wich one to play I would say WoW without hesitation. WoW, despite it flaws, still remain one of the best MMOs out there. If the itch takes me to play again that’s what I  will do, simple as that.

And finally a special thank you to all my dissenters who keep this monkey honest. Couldn’t do this without you.

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This post has been last updated on July 14th 2011. The section “Doing it the pro way” as been added as a result of increased experience with the game.

In the grand tradition of the Lotro Wednesdays I do for Lord of the rings online, the idea of doing the same for World of Tanks, the MMO/FPS hybrid where you play a tank, has crossed my mind. Pick a day of the week  to talk about the game, my recent adventures and just give out useful info. So the day in question shall be Fridays! And to start off this new series, let’s talk about a topic that most new players will run into sooner or later, whether to use AP (armor-piercing) or HE (High explosive) shells with their tanks.

How damage work in WoT (basic)

As with normal RPGs, WoT uses a classic Hit points and Damage system to represent how much damage your tank can withstand. The damage comes from the value of the cannon and shell used wich is then subtracted from the total health of the tank. When HP reaches zero, you’re dead.  Of course it’s not that simple and the  game adds armor value to the tanks to reduce the damage and penetration value to the guns and shells to allow to penetrate armor. Finaly, to make things even more complicated, this is all affected by the actual shot taken. Tanks have different parts wich are harder or easier to penetrate and the angle of the shot can increases the chances of deflection. Where and how you shoot at an enemy matters.

 Some math

Let’s put some of this into equations to make it a bit clearer. This is not the actual math behind the game but rather a representation of how things work. Until the devs release the formulas we are left with educated guesses. Finaly, this is based on my own research and observations so it might deviate from other number crunchers. In fact, I was not especially interested in exact numbers as I more interested in getting the general “how things works” side of things.

The penetration equation
(Gun penetration + Ammo penetration) – (Armor x angle of the shot) = ?

If greater than 0 the shot penetrates
If lower than 0 but within a close enough range, the damage is applied against the armor
If greatly lower than 0, the shot bounces off

The damage equation if armor is not penetrated
(Gun damage + Ammo damage) – (Armor x angle of the shot) = Damage done to HP of the tank

The damage equation if armor is penetrated
(Gun damage + Ammo damage) = Damage done to HP of the tank

These two equations are how things work in general, of course, AP and HE shells have their own particularities as well.

The types of shells and type of cannons

A quick tour of the type of shells and cannons in the game. The cannons names are non official but the types do exist in-game even if they are not named.

Armor piercing,shell (AP): These shells have high penetration but average damage. The idea is that since they penetrate and ignore armor, damage is applied directly to the enemy HP and in the end make up for their lower damage. AP rounds though have a much higher chance to bounce off a well armored target so care must be taken in aiming well to make sure the shot does make it through. AP rounds stopped by armor often do no damage.

High explosive,shell (HE): Low penetration but high damage. Here the goal is to overcome the enemy armor by doing so much damage that the armor won’t matter much. Also, HE rounds then to explode on impact wich makes it rare for them to bounce off the target.

Gold ammo,shell (HEAT, Apcr, etc…): Every tank has a type of ammo that can be bought with gold instead of normal credits. These are “super-shells” that combine both type of shells into a single one. The downside is that they don’t guarantee a hit and the normal rules still apply meaning they can be stopped and deflected normally even if their base stats are much better.

All purpose cannon (long but wide barrel): All purpose cannons are the most common type found in the game. They have average penetration and damage for their type but they allow the player to switch easily between ammo types during a game depending on what they are facing. They also have good reload types.

Penetration cannon (long and narrow barrel): These cannons are made to penetrate enemy armor and are most often found on tank destroyers. They are also quite precise most of the time. They benefit, of course, more from AP shells but against weaker armor they can be used with HE shell for devastating effect. The cannon takes care of penetration and the enemy gets the full damage of a HE shell without the armor to protect him.

Howitzer (Short and wide canon): Artillery guns mounted on tanks, most often Heavy tanks or Tank destroyers. These guns have poor penetration, poor precision and crazy long reload times. The benefit? Incredible damage made even more incredible with HE shells. These bad boys can literally one shot tanks of higher tiers than themselves despite their armor and only heavy tanks stand a chance to survive. But they take a lot of strategy because when you fire twice a minute… you need to make the shot count.

So…. what shell do I use?

By now you should have an idea of what to use but here’s the general idea.

-If the cannon has low penetration, HE shells all the time
-If the cannon can penetrate the enemy tank all by itself, HE shells
-If your cannon + penetration is still not enough to penetrate the enemy, HE shells. Hope that the damage will overcome the armor and bleed through to your target
-If cannon + penetration can penetrate the enemy of similar or higher tier. AP shells. In this case the HE shell damage will be too low when it overcomes the enemy armor. Since AP shells penetrate they will yield higher damage than a bleedthrough effect.

There’s a lot of different situations that might call for a type of shell or another. For example if you want to take out tracks HE shells are always better since you want to do splash damage against a weak part of the tank (tracks). Or it might be slopped armor wich makes deflection likely for AP shell from your position so you switch to HE for less deflection.

Doing it the pro way

Despite what I just wrote about most experienced players use another system. It boils down to AP shell all the time with the following exceptions:
-If facing a very high tier tank and you can’t possibly damage it, HE shells
-If you want to damage secondary systems first or hit the tracks, HE shells
-If your using a howitzer (Derp gun), HE shells.

So why use AP shells the rest of the time even in situations where damaging the other tank is unlikely? Because you start aiming at tank subsection! Tanks feature different armor at different locations and good tankist learn to hit those for maximum damage. Viewports, hatchs, and other weakspots are targeted with regularity. Sure it’s harder and require more skill as well as knowledge of said weakspot but it’s more than worth it.

So I hope that helped you a bit and see you next time!

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I was talking earlier to Kaozz who’s a bit bored with the current MMO offering about maybe trying a single player game for a change. Maybe some people out there are a bit restless about their current MMOs and just don’t know what to play. While the problem might be the MMO itself sometime we only need a change of pace and some fresh air.

Myself, I was raised on single player games and still play a lot of them, almost as much as MMOs and more when I feel less inclined for online gaming. They are my fallback plan whenever I’m pissed at a PuG, had  a crummy day or just don’t feel like talking to anyone. While single player games might not have interaction  with other people they make up for that with immersive storylines, graphics, gameplay and lot of other little things that make each game unique.

So this post is for all of you who have learned about video games through MMOs and have never tried the single player kind. Don’t worry, they don’t bite. And just to make sure you’re not lost. Here’s a few suggestion based on the famed Bartle test!

Achievers: Collection games and games with leaderboard are right up your alley. In fact, most games where’s there’s a score included have you in mind. Games like Assassin creed and other platformer often have hidden secrets and things to collect scattered all over the place. Casual, downloadable games with leaderboard are  perfect for the achievers with more limited time.

Explorers: Explorers are lucky in that they like to try a lot of different games with different playstyles so I’d say pick a game a game that seems interesting to you and just try it out. That said, RPGs with vast worlds to explore are usually good choices.

Killers: First person shooters and fighting games for you. Just pick a game with a lot of people to pwn and own, get the biggest sniper rifle you can and just fight your way to the top of the pile. Starcraft 2 multiplayer, the call of duty games and street fighter 4 are doing as competitive games right now.

Socials: Choices are more limited here but first I’d suggest the RPGs from Bioware who usually offer good interaction with the game characters. RPGs in general can be a good choice too and games that offer online play (not MMO! the point is to try something else!) might help scratch the socializing itch.

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Wednesday Lotro: New beginnings

With my return to Lotro its high time to start-up Lotro Wednesdays again! To be honest I kinda missed writing about my adventures in Lotro every week and if anything I’m excited to be playing again just to keep a travel log.

So lot of stuff actually happened since last time I logged. The game went F2P, everyone I knew on my old server mysteriously disappeared and I had forgotten most of my moves on my Warden. I was scared of the F2P move but it seems my fears were unfounded. I can still play the game the same way I used to and nothing forces me to spend turbine points yet. I’ve paid for 3 months of ViP so I did not have to worry about having the latest content. One little critic though, since I’ve paid for ViP Turbine could at least remove all the adds for the store during the loading screens.

I’ve also switched server to Landroval. Most bloggers I know play on Landroval so it seemed like a good place to move and it would allow me to get in touch with a few of them. I’ve also joined the Council of the secret fire kinship wich seems to be made of awesome. I was actually feeling a bit shy after the very warm welcome I got.  I’ve made a new warden again, I don’t know what is it with that class but I have trouble seeing myself play something else. I guess the idea of a little hobbit jabbing the knees of a giant with a spear just makes me  incredibly happy.

So with the new server it means going back to the Shire once more. I was dreading it at first, having done it already twice but there’s something special about the Shire that just relaxes me and makes me  forget that I’m playing a game. I tend to look at games with a somewhat mechanical eye, seeing the gears of code behind the graphics but not so in the Shire. There, I’m once again a kid who’s just playing along with the fantasy. I love every moment of it even if I’m killing slugs in Needlehole swamp.

I raise my pint to the Shire and to long nights of pie delivery!

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