Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In defense of Age of Sigmar and its hidden depth

I’ll admit that when Games Workshop destroyed the Old World and released Age of Sigmar I was one of the fiercest opponents of the move both verbally and on the web.

I had to step back and finally ask myself however why I stopped playing Warhammer Fantasy in the first place. The answer was simple: it stopped being FUN. 

Back in the day I was ALL in on Games Workshop products. Rampant price increases, poor treatment of employees and a mightier than thou attitude that they were the only game on the block slowly turned me off of them and their products. Also their rules writing had gotten more and more atrocious over the years. It got to a point in Warhammer Fantasy that it became a game of marching forward and clashing in the middle with badly written vague rules and a drawn out magic system.

Besides that point I was a skirmish guy. I liked round bases, gangs and the ability to move and shoot freely. So when GW announced that they were turning Fantasy into a skirmish game I was happy. I was not however ready for the WAY they did it.

In my mind GW went off the deep end. Taking all the established lore they had for the Old World and tossing it out the window is a super bold move but lets face it: GW needed work. Sales were horrible, they were TRASHED by Kickstarted upstart companies, their prices were drumming them out the market and their stores were closing left and right. The few zealot neckbeards that still clung to a clunky Warhammer Fantasy battle system had ruined most of the tournament scenes with power lists and a hilarious 23 page FAQ just to straighten up the foundation of the rules mechanics. The game was stale, boring and GW was losing money hand over fist due to the high entry factor of the game. 

So what had to be done to allow existing players to STILL play yet turn this thunderous bore of a game into a skirmish title? Firstly alliances had to be fixed. The current system was a joke with its percentages and regulations. Drop all that. Make it side based and lump people into categories and remove all this neutral garbage. 

Secondly magic had to be made better. Requiring a second book was a thing of the past. Cards should be a thing of the past. Make it simple. Pick a unit, cast a spell, maybe have it blocked and move on. Allow races to still be unique by embedding spells on a racial warscroll.

Movement needs to be made faster. Army construction needs to be simpler and the number of models needs to be reduced. All the things a skirmish game is known for. The old lore had become tired and disposable. The only way to solve it was to…and you guessed it…blow it all to hell. 

The lore is readable all over the web on how they did this. I am not here to discuss lore even though it is a great read to see how everyone went out. The NEW LORE however, while a bit … odd… can lead to some interesting gameplay and story telling possibilities. Essentially there are now multiple realms where multiple civilizations of people are leading their daily lives with the exception of one problem: Chaos has conquered all of them but one. And that is where the Sigmarites come in. 

In order to make a skirmish game and have all the old miniatures be viable you would have to redo all the stats of pretty much every miniature in the Warhammer Fantasy world.  Doing this would rule out “army books” and GW knew they had to keep this game accessible and lower cost for entry

To stay competitive you would need to make the rules short and for the most part free then also cut back on the need to buy 50 dollar books to use your army (something 40k STILL hasn’t learned as it constantly breaks its own rules system).

So taking a page from Fantasy Flights book of sales GW has done just that.  Each army now has units that you can buy in a box. Yes…it is the same boxes we are used to however now a key difference exists: GW has inserted slips of reference sheets called Warscrolls that sum up the units abilities and how they act in the game. They also made the smart move of letting you open the box and play it right away as opposed to the old days when a unit would require 5 but a box would have 3, forcing the purchase of two boxes.

 If the older box does not have the Warscroll simply go to the GW site and get it for free or use the awesome new GW Age of Sigmar app on your mobile device

What GW has done is open up a world of possibilities for Alliances as well. Gone are the days where every army acted independently. Now they are categorized as we would expect: Order, Chaos, Death, Destruction. They pretty much fall in line with what races you would expect. There are some surprises however such as Dark Elves being lumped in with the forces of Good aka Order. 

This leaves all the miniatures you have free to ally with one another if they are part of the same alliance which is a brilliant business move. The best part of all that is that it allows to play armies you may not have been able to afford before. For example I can take my old High Elves and now maybe a unit of Wood Elf Glade Guard.  I don’t need to buy a 2000 point army to see how Wood Elves perform.

If you look closely at any Warscroll GW further added depth by adding trading card game like KEYWORDS that further allow you to synergize your armies on the table.  For example you may have a General that can give effects to all “AELFS” and in this case that would encapsulate Wood Elves and High Elves. 

So as you can see the depth of army creation goes a lot deeper than the people that complain and make fun of Age of Sigmar without doing their research. On the surface 4 pages of rules seems scant but the game truly has myriads of rules hidden within every unit you field. This is quite brilliant in a Hero Clix sort of way as fixing these units would simply require a GW PDF update to the mobile app or website.

“AH HA but wait!” you may yell at your computer screen

“GW HAS released 50 dollar army books they are just called Battle Tomes!”

Not so fast. Lets back up and take a look at these Battle Tomes and your feelings that you need them to play the game.

 The Battletomes are great yes however many will contest that that the price is just not worth it. I can agree with a bit of this. IF you are a lover of fluff and want to know the entire story of what is happening with the lore then these books are a must buy. They also include the latest update to date stats on all your units as well for that specific race. Also there are many scenarios dealing with your army as well as something called Battalions. This is another way GW has added more depth to the game. A battalion is basically a simple way to balance the game.

The way they work is easy. Build the force listed on the battalion and your entire army gets the benefits listed on the battalion sheet. For example in the Fyreslayers Battletome is a battalion called GRAND FYRD. If you build this exactly as shown (1 Lord of the Lodge, 2 Warrior Kinbands and a Forge Brethren) your ENTIRE army gets to subtract 2 from battle shock results as well as other things.  This encourages people to use these battalions thus ensuring a non cheesy force and balancing the game INTERNALLY with no points needed.

 Yet half of the people ripping on AoS and the fanboys of the now defunct 8th edition overlook these things or do not know about them. A lot of this is also caused by GW’s shoddy marketing and their inability to sell their own games systems as they still live in 1995 apparently.

Are the Battletomes expensive? Yes. ARE they needed? No. The app has everything you need. Now the Battalions are at a price (of course they won’t give away book contents) but the price is meager at $1.99. By the way all the unit stat info for the models is FREE. If you are into artwork and the lore then by all means snag the Battletome. I was also impressed that the new DEATH Grand Alliance book is only $20 dollars. 

So as you can see the complaints and the trolling by angry 8th edition fanboys goes largely unjustified and is due to their own ignorance. It was my hope that this first article can give you more than plenty enough ammunition and shut them down in internet trolling arguments. There is depth but GW is not the best at explaining these things. The myriad of options for army building are hidden layer by layer depending on what army you take, the scrolls and the Battalions if you want to use one.  

More later on Age of Sigmar.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Final Fantasy 14: an MMO so bad they had to blow it up

Yes, that is right. They actually BLEW UP Final Fantasy's lame world and are re-releasing this dung heap of an MMO later this year.

They are calling it a "Realm Reborn" but what it actually is is a kick in the nuts for all the suckers that spent the 40-50 bucks on this ridiculously stupid MMO.
If this version goes south then you can wave goodbye to any and all credibility Final Fantasy XI might have bought them, and their future in the North American MMO market probably goes out the window as well.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Hey look a dragon that destroys everything! Where have we seen that before? http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/games/cataclysm/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Champions Online now a real game and no longer crap

When it launched back in 2009? Champions Online was a bit of a let down. With the failure of many Cryptic titles and their buy out by Chinese MMO pay to win conglomerate Perfect World I figured that the game was about to enter the trash bin of MMO history.

I decided to check it out recently and was quite surprised to discover that not only had the game been totally overhauled it was actually BETTER than the fail launch it had suffered.

The latest update adds "vehicles" although you do not actually get IN them. Many transform you but they have added new PVE Q's that let you take on vehicle missions with up to 10 people.

There has been more as well. Of course with the closing of City of Heroes and the console garbage that is DC Universe Online this game has probably had a boost in overall play population. The server is crowded also (it uses 1 instanced server but breaks them into areas you can port to much like GW2 servers).

It is a pretty deep game now with a revamped starting system, instant Q's, talent trees, overhauled Character UI,  vehicles and more. The new alert system is pretty neat also (well new for me at least). All players go to the city after the tutorial so no more picking one of the two start zones we all got sick of. Stats are clearly highlighted and gear has gotten a major fix.


Below are some key updates:

Systems Update - We've updated the way most Statistics, Roles, and Super Stats work to improve the way statistics work together and provide for better game balance in the future. Additionally, we've re-itemized the entire game, improving the rewards available from levels 1-40, providing not only increased power, but also more meaningful rewards from both world drops and quests. 
Specializations - These new specializations allow for even greater customization for your Champions Online character - players can become even stronger than before! Unlocked at level 10, Specializations give you all you need to make an even more unique hero 
Modifications & Fusion - Our new Modifications and Fusion Systems further enhance the customizability of Champions Online. Through this new system, players will be able to modify their gear, customizing it with new modifications to provide more of the statistics they want, as well as fuse modifications together to create even more powerful mods.
Roles - We’ve renamed the roles to more accurately describe what they are intended for, as several of the previous names were similar enough in meaning that it was difficult for new players to tell which role was for tanking, for example – Sentinel, Protector, or Guardian?
The real major change for Roles, though, is that they will now affect what your Super Stats do for you. Previously, even if you were in a Support or Tanking Role, Super Stats always provided you with more damage. While more damage is nice, it isn’t really what you want out of those roles. Now, being in a DPS role will provide you with the maximum damage bonus, while Tank and Support Roles provide bonuses targeted at those Roles. The Hybrid Role provides a mix of benefits, aimed at allowing players to fulfill more than one Role, just not quite as well as someone that picks a specific Role.
In addition to the way that Roles interact with Super Stats, we made some additional tweaks to the Roles. Several of the penalties have been removed, and several of the benefits have been increased. Here are some highlights: (of course, these are all still being tweaked, so they may change) 

The War Z is a terrible game and NOT an MMO

Tried out the War Z  beta tonight WHAT A MESS of a game and a waste of time. 

This game is nothing but CounterStrike with Zombie NPC's running around. And yes I said NPC's because at no point in the game are Zombies even a threat more than some other player that just shoots you because its "funny". AVOID this title at all costs. At this point DEAD ISLAND is more of the experience the public is looking for.

Think WW2 Online meets player killers. Wander around for 20 minutes and get shot, with a 58 minute revive time. Gee thats fun. No one even focuses on Zombies or what is going on, they just hide behind trees and kill you when you wander around. If I wanted that I would play Counterstrike,

Its not an "MMO" either. Its a shooter on a survival server that is only capable of holding 40 people at a time with an in game server browser. It's not persistent and its full of team killers wandering around looting you for bags of potato chips. 

I started off having fun until I realized that other people can shoot you dead. I explored, went to a town and then while running from zombies was shot dead by another player. What the fuck? So when I died that character was locked out for 1 hour. And I had to make a new one. Rinse repeat with all 5 of your character slots and guess what? Your done for the night. 

What a waste of a concept. It is really too bad because the engine and the in game theories looked fun. However I refuse to play a game where people grief others in lieu of the setting or the real aspect of the title. Especially one that sells itself as something else when in fact it is a simple shooter little focus on the overlying theme.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I got some free to play coins for SWTOR

In a desperate attempt to woo me back to the joke that is Star Wars the Old Republic MMO (free to play version) I got spammed that I have gotten a bunch of stupid "tokens" for spending real money and getting burned on the game months ago. Wow awesome! Maybe I can buy another hotbar or perhaps a mini map to place on my screen. What a bargain!

The most hilarious thing? I have to subscribe to take advantage of them. Ok....?

You have earned Complimentary Cartel Coins for your prior paid subscription months! Cartel Coins are a new virtual currency coming with the launch of the Free-to-Play option this November.
Visit the Cartel Coins Ledger page to see how many Complimentary Cartel Coins you have already earned! This new web page is located in the "My Account" section of the website.
Get ready to visit the Cartel Market loaded with coins to spend this November - and turn these golden coins into valuable items such as pets, vehicles, XP boosts, and more! Remember, you must return as a Subscriber to take advantage of this golden opportunity!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Diablo 3 with Monster Power selection

I returned to Diablo 3 last night to check out patch 1.0.5 and the new Monster Power Selection system that was greatly missing when the game launched. Basically this recreates the ability you had in Diablo 2 to raise the power of the creatures higher than normal so that you get more XP per kill and thusly level faster.

I entered the game striving to kill Azmodan and only level 29 and decided to be timid and use Monster Power 2. The XP gain was greater and after I killed Azmodan I had hit level 31 and was well on my way toward the final act. My Barbarian uses a build where REND gives him health back as he fights. So far it is quite interesting but many times I was close to death. One day I will get the nerve to make a HARDCORE character but what class I am not sure.

I racked up 5 more achievements as well and now I want to play more than I used to. I felt the game on Normal was a tad too easy but now I want to jack the Monster Power up to about 5 or so with my wizard and see how fast I can level him.

It does bring some fun back into a game I was seriously disappointed in. Despite how good some claim Torchlight 2 to be I just don't have the gusto to play it at the moment. With RIFT taking a lot of time Diablo 3 is one thing I want to finish on Normal then move on. I am really not in the mood to grind gear in that game.

"Monster Power gives Diablo III players the option to increase the health and damage of monsters according to different "power levels" -- and in return, they'll receive scaling bonuses to their adventure stats (including experience, Magic Find, and Gold Find) as well as more drops.
The option to adjust Monster Power will be available to all players starting at level 1 through the Quest Selection window, and can be adjusted separately for Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulties."