The Storming of Stonetroll Keep

In which we indulge in what might be described as “RvE” action and answer the question, “What happens when you hold a war and only one side shows up?”

We did not have a full crew, Earl being hamstrung by a lack of power in his abode.  We had:

Bluelinebasher – Level 10 Ironbreaker
Denrohir – Level 14 Archmage
Chicken – Level 14 Shadow Warrior
Varsoon – Level 14 Warrior Priest
Meclin – Level 16 Ironbreaker
Stardoe – Level 17 Warrior Priest

The night found us quickly into the game and in search of action.  Denrohir and Stardoe were already off in Troll Country/Ostland with a budding warband when the rest of us logged in, capping control points and ganking the occasional red name unfortunate enough to wander by.

By the last control point was reached, we had formed up and the warband consisted of a little more than two groups worth of players happily following the leader and gaining little bits of renown.

All Us, No Them

All Us, No Them

Once the last point was capped all eyes went to the last sore red point on the map, Stonetroll Keep.

The mob decided to give it a try and off we rolled.  Siege weapons were at hand, but all we really needed was a ram to help knock down the door, as the place was only defended by NPCs.

Unfortunately, we did not have critical mass, nor enough experience amongst us, to actually take the keep.  So after a couple of wipes at the hands of the keep lord on the second floor, we decided to go back to capping control points.

We wandered the lands… or at least the tier 2 lands… in search of control points to cap.  We found that Destruction owned the iron clad and the lighthouse in Barak Hussein Varr, so we headed out to cap those.

Nautical Control Point

Nautical Control Point

And as we traveled, our warband slowly grew until it was a full four groups of fury.

We decided at that point to go give Stonetroll Keep another try.

Still undefended by any but NPCs, we set to work.  Getting entry to the keep was easy, but the battle with the keep lord on the second floor was still seemingly beyond our grasp.

Then Chicken noticed that if healers and ranged DPS people stood on the third floor that overlooks the keep lord’s area, they were spared all that AOE damage that the keep lord puts out.  With the healers no longer dying or healing themselves, the tanks stayed alive.  With the tanks alive, the DPS guys were able to whittle down the NPCs.  And with that the battle went from annoyingly hard to very easy.

So there is your tip for the day, if you didn’t already posses that bit of information.

And with that… well… we were kind of done for the evening.  We took an undefended keep and stood victorious.

Dandies in Victory

Dandies in Victory

Order owned all of the control points and keeps in tier 2, while Destruction did not seem to want to come out and play.

We Win?

We Win?

We found a few of them around the Monestary of Morr and got a small battle going, but it did not last long.  They went off to something else and we were left in control of the field.

During that skirmish, Varsoon got hit with the ice trap spell and the graphic seemed to stick to him after the effect faded.  Everybody else was able to see it, too.  So we tried using Varsoon as bait while everybody else hid, but nobody was fooled.

Oh no, I'm stuck! I hope nobody comes to get me!

Oh no, I'm stuck! I hope nobody comes to get me!

We left the warband and grouped up to find something else to do.  We realized that we lost Bluelinebasher somewhere along the way.  He turned out to be having trouble with WAR and his computer again, and he wasn’t on Skype to let us know.  Meanwhile, without a real goal, first Meclin (for whom it was 2 hours later) and then Stardoe decided to call it a night.

Denrohir, Chicken, and Varsoon stayed on to do a bit more PvE questing.  Varsoon finally hit level 15 after three Saturday evening’s worth of play.  And that was about it.

But there, at the end of our fifth weekend playing WAR as a group, I think we all made a decision individually that perhaps, as it stands now, this is not the game for us.

Open RvR is a blast when it happens, but it does not happen often enough.  We got into one good keep battle as a group, then haven’t seen one since, despite playing at what I would call prime time on a Saturday night.

With the play budget I described previously, having to depend on the other team coming out and play to have any fun isn’t working out.

Part of the problem is that we are a casual group.  We haven’t kept up with the competitive pack in the game.  The fun is happening in tiers 3 and 4 we’re told, and we’re stuck in tier 2.  I am told that the good group dungeons don’t start until tier 3.  And the decent lairs.  And probably the free candy and ice cream for all I know.  Unfortunately, at our casual rate of progress, some of that content is months away.

And part of the reason we are so casual is that the game really hasn’t really drawn most of us to play at times other than Saturday night.  During the first days there was a fury of activity and we saw each other several nights a week.  But that tapered off after the second week and now there is almost no activity outside of Saturday night.

So an email went out earlier this week.  Opinions were expressed.  Options were explored.  Consensus was reached.

It looks like this coming Saturday night we will not be playing Warhammer Online.

17 thoughts on “The Storming of Stonetroll Keep

  1. Pingback: Getting out of WAR « pΘtshΘt

  2. bluelinebasher

    I got to the group in time to wipe on the keep lord in what felt like one hit, and then my screen totally froze when we were on the nautical control point capturing it. Maybe by the time I can afford to upgrade my gaming rig the servers will have consolidated enough for persistant RvR in both scenario and open. But for now, I can’t stomach an exp grind in that game without RvR irregardless of system stability. Wait, is that a word? Whatever — RVR game without RVR? Pass.

    On an up note, it’s nice and easy to unsubscribe with the account management tool.

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  3. syncaine

    I somewhat saw this coming. A PvE-styled group just does not blend in well with a PvP game. When you only have one night to play, and it just happens that one night action is light, you get the result you guys got.

    That’s the difference between PvP and PvE really. In PvE the mobs wait around for you, but ultimately are just scripts. Good PvP is more difficult to find (currently too difficult in WAR, but that is and will continue to change) but once you find it, it’s lightyears ahead of PvE in terms of an MMO experience.

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Well, I don’t agree necessarily with the your opinion that somehow coming from our PvE makes us incompatible with PvP. Follow that logic to the end and you pretty much write off all of WoW’s player base.

    But PvP being too hard to find, I’ll agree on that. It would seem to me that Saturday night would be the least likely night for things to be light, but that seemed to be the way of it the last couple weeks.

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  6. syncaine

    Sorry had to leave work early, and so my comment was shorter than intended.

    What I meant when I said PvE-styled group is that you guys log in every Saturday with some high expectations. You want group challenging content, available when you are on, balanced for what you have, and within the relatively short time frame of the group. That works great for instanced PvE (and is likely a reason why instanced PvE works so well overall)

    But it’s a disaster for PvP, as the odds that everything will align, and your group will find balanced, waiting PvP every single time you log are slim. And when it does not happen, it’s overemphasized because you HAVE to do something group-like.

    And then you have the issue of a pre-set group playing an unknown MMO. It worked for you guys in WoW because you knew were to go, knew the relative challenge, and had a good idea for your chance of success. So even before you logged in, you basically knew what was going to happen that night, give or take a loot drop variable. Again, PvP just never works like that.

    Which is not to say WAR is perfect (we all know the issues), but even in a near-perfect state, I have trouble imaging such a pre-set and casual group getting as much out of WAR as some PvE MMO.

    One thing I don’t understand though, why did you guys not just dedicate the group to PQs? I figured those were perfect for the groups style, and at 9 per chapter (across the 3 pairings), I think you would have had enough content to go 1-40, getting some rather decent gear along the way. Time wise they would have worked, and at any point the group could break away to join in on RvR that was happening, or mix it up and do a scenario night or something.

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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Well, the unknown MMO routine worked for us in LOTRO, but like WoW, LOTRO had a story line that we could follow. It was more the balky day 1 interface and the fact that you need 6 people in a group in LOTRO at a time when we only had 4 that kept us from going further than we did.

    The problem with PQs is that they just are not that much fun. We did end up doing a number of them, but for every one that had some interesting mechanic or twist to it, there were four or five that were just the same “kill x regular mobs, then kill y champions, then kill the hero.”

    Then you add in another balky day 1 interface plus a client that still crashes, player abilities tuned for PvP, and the fact that open RvR is a ton of fun when it happens, and it is hard to justify spending our play budget doing PQs. If we just wanted to do PvE, we could have, would have stuck with WoW.

    There is a cartoon I saw once. A guy was locking the door of his shop while another guy was looking at him and pointing at the “Open 24 Hours” sign above the door. The shop owner’s reply was, “Not in a row.”

    WAR promised something different, and it delivered. War is everywhere… just not all the time.

    I saw a comment from Mark Jacobs in response to people complaining about the slower leveling in WAR. He quipped that he would have given the game 70 or 80 levels if he had to do it again. I think he is dead wrong, he should have made only 10 or 20 levels. That would have showed that he learned the lessons of DAOC where I am told by friends who played a lot that the leveling up was a pain, but all the fun was at level cap. Getting people concentrated so that open RvR is more likely seems to be the winning strategy for WAR.

    So, while your comment was less patronizing this time around, I still think you end up at the same conclusion, that WoW’s player base need not apply, because most of it won’t be happy with WAR. WAR will never really threaten WoW, will peak under a million and slowly decline from there because people who join late will see open RvR as completely dead while the PvE world is the same as other games, but is implemented better in some more mature games that focus primarily on that.

    That will still make it the #2 game in the category (paid sub, western MMO) and a big success, but they won’t be adding servers, not in six weeks, not in six months. (Another Mark Jacobs quote there, that they’ll be in trouble if they are not adding servers in those time frames.)

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  9. syncaine

    I agree, most of the WoW base won’t be happy with WAR, or any other MMO for that matter. But that’s more of a WoW effect than anything to do with WAR or other MMOs. Simply put, WoW feeds the lowest common denominator of the MMO fanbase, giving everyone a cookie for everything, and dumbing down the game with each patch, only to tack on further raids at the top to keep the ‘elite’ semi-satisfied. It’s great at what it does, but it also ruins a ton of what made/makes MMOs great.

    I’m also not sure how vastly different WoW instances are compared to PQs. Tack on a kill counter in an instance, and it’s basically a PQ. At your groups low ranks, I’m not sure how many PQs you saw, but even at the lower ranks there are some interesting ones that break up the standard formula, just like you occasionally get an instance boss that is more than a tank/spank. Different tastes I guess, but I still don’t see much difference between the PvE in WoW and WAR, tier raid instances aside.

    And as for ‘War is Everywhere’, anyone who played PvP in previous MMOs (UO, AC-DT, DAoC) knows that PvP is never around at all times, that’s just human nature. That some find that surprising has nothing to do with WAR, but goes back to the WoW ‘give it to me now’ attitude. It’s a choice players have to make, deal with the on/off of good PvP, or play the always there PvE. For some the high points of PvP outweigh the downtime, while for others (based on however many factors), they would rather avoid the downtime and stick to PvE.

    Luckily for everyone, we now have a choice of games for both play styles.

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  10. Khan

    I can understand the frustration. I’ve run a couple of limited-time play groups. The benefit was that it was all PvE for both (one in WoW and the other in LotRO). PvP’s unpredictability combined with the different tiers and the limited play times isn’t a good combination. Unfortunately, that just leaves the PvE game which is a secondary concern in WAR. Based on past experience, I couldn’t see running a play group in WAR that only played on certain times. Your experience confirms my misgivings.

    That said, I’ll stick with WAR a bit longer. I’m leveling alright and though I’m behind the curve on the server (I’m tier 2 while most are 3 or better) I still find the irregular Open RvR and Scenarios pop frequently still. I play mostly solo and am enjoying poking around the place. Once Moria hits though, I may end up closing WAR down for a bit.

    Good luck to you and your group!

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  11. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @syncaine: “I’m also not sure how vastly different WoW instances are compared to PQs. Tack on a kill counter in an instance, and it’s basically a PQ”

    You’re kidding with that right? I mean, sure, you draw back far enough and it is “kill some mobs then a boss,” but for an actual evening of fun for a group, PQs do not stand up to an instance at all. PQs are more akin to a group quest, and maybe not even that. The commitment is very low, you can show up at any stage, and it repeats endlessly.

    @Khan: Yeah, we never had a problem with scenarios popping, we just had a problem with scenarios getting old fast. I don’t think any of us were big on WoW battlegrounds, and scenarios are just mini versions of those.

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  12. syncaine

    Sure, you could play a PQ that way, show up and poke around a bit, or you can get a group together, fly over to a chapter, and do all 3 PQs, for a good hour+ of decent PvE. Both are options, while in WoW, unless you have a good group or outlevel an instance, its a no go.

    Take the chap 2 empire PQ, the beach one. How does that stack up to Hellfire Ramparts? Hellfire is 3 tank/spank bosses, with some mindless trash, all along . That PQ, which is extremely early in the game, features first destroying tents and supplies, then defeating champs and burning boats, then defending a camp from invaders, and finally defeating a rather difficult boss.

    Now, does a PQ stack up to the Deadmines? No, the Deadmines are amazing. But they are also one of the better instances, compared to ramparts, or wailing caverns, or any number of super simple instances.

    Obviously in most cases, instances are better overall PvE, and if you ONLY want good PvE, we know what game you go with. My vote still goes to the game with superior PvP, and good enough PvE, that at times can be great. WoW PvP will never be more than the stun fest it is now, because that’s build directly into the engine, and you can’t really fix that.

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  13. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Well, the PvE in WAR suffers for the same reasons PvP suffers in WoW, the classes were designed for one or the other. Crowd control and aggro management in WAR is a pain because that sort of thing doesn’t matter when you play against live people, so Mystic gave it little attention.

    I’m sorry, I’m still not buying that any PQ I’ve seen stacks up against even the most simple instance in WoW. Hellfire Ramparts actually has two very good boss fights, so I don’t know where you’re coming from on that one.

    And that beach PQ to which you refer suffers from what so many PQs in WAR suffer from, it is out of the way so there is rarely anybody there, which defeats Mythic’s vision on the whole PQ thing. So you have to show up with a group if you plan to get it done at all.

    So, from my view, having done a lot of tier 1 & 2 PvE in WAR is that it can be good, but a lot of it is so-so at best. You see how Blizzard put Deadmines first in their instance lineup? Why did Mythic put Altdorf sewers in as the intro instance? It is crap.

    I know you’re bitter about Blizzard and the raiding grind and cannot pass up a chance to crap on them of late, but trying to sell PQs as instances just isn’t going to fly here.

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  14. Xyd

    Hmm… That picture of Meclin in “Dandies in Victory” has a striking resemblance to his RL persona.

    *duck*

    .xyd

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