Tag Archive for Alliance

The Great Divide II

Orcs vs Humans

Pick a side, forever.

Last week I wrote about levels dividing players.  This week I’d like to look at another thing that divides players: Lore.

Now, Lore itself doesn’t really divide players, but design decisions made to support Lore does.  In World of Warcraft, you have two sides, the Alliance and the Horde, and every race in the game belongs to one side and not the other.  If you want to play an orc, you are Horde.  If you want to play a human, you are Alliance.  Now, if you want to play a human and your best friend wants to play an orc, you are screwed.  One of you is going to have to cave and play another race.

WoW isn’t the only game that does this.  In almost every game on the market that decides to define “sides” to enable a Realm vs Realm style of PvP play, they draw arbitrary lines in the sand and toss races on one side or the other.  This needs to stop.

Now, when I say Lore is the problem, I’m being a tad flippant.  In truth, from a database and coding viewpoint, it’s probably far easier to assign races to sides than to flag individual characters and then check the flag for any action for which side matters.  But if we assume the problem isn’t technical, that a human could be on either Horde or Alliance, then the only thing holding us back is Lore.  Humans and Orcs are on different sides because the Lore says so.

Of course, the solution to Lore problems is… Lore!

Why not have the majority of humans be Alliance, but a splinter faction have gone to the Horde?  Apply to same logic to each and every race in each and every game.  Even if you don’t want the Lore of your game to support a race being on both sides, you should allow your players to “betray” their side and go to the other.

Some people will say that dividing people into sides by race it to make finding enemies easier during those PvP/RvR interaction.  And yes, spotting an orc and knowing he’s a friend or foe at a glance is easy.  Know what else is easy to spot?  The same thing FPS games have been using for a long time: colors.  When a player enters an area of contention, just slap a colored tabard on them, red for one side and blue for the other.

Dividing players into sides is a perfectly valid design decision, but there really isn’t any good reason, in my opinion, to divide them along other lines as well.

30 Days of Game: Evony

It has been a long while (October 2008) since I did one of these, and as luck would have it I just happened to have played another PBBG for 30 days, so a review follows.

The gang over at the Ofasoft boards found this game, Evony, and we decided to go play it.  Honestly, as evidenced by my Travian review, it is best to approach these RTS-like browser games with a crowd of friends because ultimately a guild or alliance is going to be the only way to survive the PvP.  People without a group behind them will be farmed for points and resources.  As with many browser based games, its got an RMT element, and while Evony’s items for purchase can give you a serious advantage, I have found that not enough people are buying them to make it really matter.

So, to start, you create an account, name your lord and name your first city (don’t pick something you love, you’ll be changing it in a minute).  Like any RTS type games, you build building for resources and to facilitate your army, and there are optimum build orders to get to certain elements of the game.  But, for the first 7 days you will be safe from PvP (you can’t be attacked, nor can you attack other players), so you have time to learn the game.  Learning the game is where Evony, in my opinion, shines.  Other games I have played forced you to go digging around wikis or forums or elsewhere to learn about the game, but Evony has implemented a Quest system giving you tons of little objectives, all with rewards.  The best way to learn the game is to do the quests.  If you do, your town won’t be a war machine, but it will be perfectly functional.  Just heed the game’s warnings and don’t take your town hall to level 5 or you’ll end your seven day protection.

As I raced through the quests, I built myself a second town and was well on my way to solid before my 7 days were up.  I worried as I hit the end of that week, but as I was in an alliance with around 40 people in it, actively playing and constantly out of resources (because I was constantly building), it seems there were enough reasons not to attack that no one did.  Also, you’ll learn that attacking valleys and NPCs is more profitable at lower levels.

The key to the game is range attacks, which is pretty much true for all games and for real life too.  And while archers are a ranged attack, ballistas are better, but they do take a while to get to.  One thing the Evony forums are good for is posts about theorycrafting.  That’s when people observe game behavior and try to work backwards to get the formula the programming is using for things.  Battles work like something out of European wars with lines of attackers approaching each other on the field.  The fastest runners get out front and are the first to get mowed down.  The game works on a closest range/greatest threat method, where if you have archers and cavalry fighting swordsmen, the swordsmen will fight your cavalry while your archers kill them at range.  If you didn’t have the cavalry, your archers would get “free” attacks on the swordsmen until they “met”, and then the swordsmen would fight the archers at close range.  Fights also use a “1 group attacks 1 target” method, so in the previous example, the swordsmen would fight the cavalry until there were no more cavalry.  If they had swordsman and warriors, both of them would attack the cavalry, ganging up on them, while your cavalry would only attack which ever group they encountered first (the swordsmen).  Ultimately it causes weird battles where you can take 1,000 ballista, 1 cavalry, 1 swordsman, and 1 warrior, and defeat a much larger army of a single non-ranged unit type because there will be at least three rounds of combat before the enemy can attack your ballista since they need to engage each army “type” on the field and defeat them.  So if 1 ballista can kill 10 warriors a round, this attack configuration could defeat 30,000 warriors while only losing 1 cavalry, 1 swordsman and 1 warrior.  These kinds of mathematical and logical decisions result in very odd attack configurations, and approaching the game like a real war will only cost you troops.

The way battles work is why fighting NPCs is more profitable than PCs.  A hero with the appropriate number of ballista can defeat all the defences of an NPC city while taking no losses.  Send transports with them and you can gain much more resources than you can build in the same time.  NPCs basically become resource ATMs.

Once you get out of your 7 day period, and assuming you are part of an alliance, you then enter into the world of negotiations.  Eventually, fighting NPCs grows old and you want to take on some other players.  Attacking the wrong player in the wrong alliance can result in a war that could turn out badly for your entire alliance.  At the beginning of week 4, another alliance declared war on my alliance and attacked one of our member’s cities.  No warning, no discussion, just attack.  We sent off a note to find out why, but they didn’t reply.  So, we checked with our friendly alliances and then unleashed hell on the offending alliance.  We didn’t just return fire on the offending player, but his whole alliance.  We ended up taking a half dozen cities from their players and putting a serious hurt on their entire alliance.  Of course, this was followed by lots of whining and more negotiations as it turned out the leader of the alliance that declared war on us was a secondary account for the leader of another alliance, who was an ally of an ally, and so on… the fallout was funny as alliances turned on him and supported us, but the real lesson is that it could easily go the other way if we didn’t vet our targets properly.

The best feature of all, however, is that no one can take your “last” city.  If you have 5 towns and fall under heavy PvP siege, they can take 4 and they can farm your last, but they can’t take it, and you never lose your technology research.  And if you’ve saved up some city teleporters, you can always flee.  You can also hit the “Restart” button and start from scratch, keeping the same lord name and nothing else.

All in all, Evony is fairly well built and balanced, more so than other free RTS-like games I’ve tried online.  Its fun, and with planning of your buildings, you can actually schedule days away from the game where you are researching new technologies and building high level buildings and won’t need to check in.

I’ve played Evony for 30 days, and I’m going to keep playing.  With 100 player limits on alliance sizes, it doesn’t appear to suffer from the alliance domination problems that other games do, and will keep it interesting for far longer.

Revisiting Travian

Back in October, I reviewed my experience with the web based game Travian, and now that I am no longer going to be playing it, I would like to say just a bit more.

If you decide to play Travian, bring friends.  If you don’t have friends to bring, make friends, fast.  And if the friends you bring or the friends you make do not play seriously and begin immediately amassing power and strength, dump them and get new friends.

That may seem a little hardcore, but it is pretty much true.  Travian is a PvP game.  Building cities takes more time than conquering cities.  So if you don’t join a big alliance and start conquering other people, other people will start conquering you.

So, to that end, while I said previously that I wouldn’t be playing the game anymore, I won’t… but I would consider it if a big group of people were planning to play it and let me join in with them.

The Alliance is Bored

Lately, as I play my new blood elf hunter, I have been frequenting the Tarren Mill and Hammerfall.

Tarren Mill is under attack!

Why yes, yes it is. Tarren Mill is being slaughtered, probably as you read this. A group of well geared level 70’s are sitting on the hill (or worse, sitting in town) killing all the NPCs. The master tailor is dead, so are the quest givers, and the innkeeper… everyone, all gone. You get maybe five minutes to do your thing after respawns before they wade in again.

Hammerfall is under attack!

Look! Epic mounted level 70’s are riding through town again and killing everything! The guards at the entrance to the battleground are dead? You don’t say! Oh look, they’ve accidently attacked the flight path guy, all those spawns should keep them out for twenty minutes.

But why do I say the Alliance is bored? Well, because 95% of the Horde who frequent these areas are level 25 to 35, and most of the NPCs are 40 to 50. Are there no battlegrounds for these people to fight in? Are there no towers for them to siege? Oh… wait… I forgot, the Alliance outnumber the Horde on Durotan… I’d tell you by how much, but despite all the info you can see in the Armory you can’t get simple info like population counts! But wait, players have been running a census for a long time, so while not 100% accurate, it is close… almost 3 to 1.

So far, I’m decent at PvP, but I haven’t been able to win a 3 to 1 fight, especially when I’m level 32 and my opponents are all over 60.

If you read my blog, and you want to play WoW, come to Durotan and play on the Horde side. I’m usually playing Calibre or Wayd. Look me up and maybe I’ll hook you up with a little funds to get you up and running as long as you promise to spit in the eye of any Alliance you run across.

Alliance: Good doesn`t mean Nice

Ishiro and Lorilai head to Winterspring to do battle with demons in the south because Ishiro needs some felcloth. Unfortunately, seeing as we have gotten all our gear doing quests and picking stuff up as we go, never in the auction house, we are poorly equiped to handle level 60 elites as a duo. So after getting our spirits crammed back into our bodies, we decide to do something else instead. Quests in Silithus.

Seems some of the guys there want us to kill more of those Twilight Hammer guys, so we are off to do that. Sadly, the pages they drop are a repeatable quest that people farm for faction to be able to complete other quests. First camp we hit, the one in the far southwest, a group of 60’s are pummelling everything in site. Second camp, just west of the town, also camped by a group of 60’s. Third camp, ah-ha! Only one rogue here. Of course the rogue spots a priest and runs up to me and says, “++”. I ignore him, assuming he doesn’t speak English. “zu” he says. “++”. He keeps running over, helping us kill stuff and repeating “zu” and “++”. Now, at this point I assume he wants something, but I have no idea what. Finally I say, “Sorry, I don’t understand you.” He stands silent a while and then says, “hp”. Hmm… I guess he wants a stamina buff. So I relent and give him one. He then proceeds to steal kills from us, and when he gets caster mobs with pets, he continually dumps the pets on us after he killed the casters. An interesting way to say “thank you”.

Lori and I are happily grinding away. We kill the 10 Geolords they wanted us to kill, and we are now collecting pages for the hermit. 77 kills in total and we got 7 pages. A 1 in 11 drop rate for an item that is also used in a repeatable quest that everyone and their brother appears to want to farm. Ugh. However, prior to the end of our evening, a raid force shows up. We are wondering what is going on, they are Alliance which means I can talk to them, so I ask. No reply. Ask a couple more people, ask in general channel. No answers. Without warning they trigger some god awful boss mob that blasts some area affect poison crap that nearly kills us. We scramble to survive our fight (3 mobs at once, that Keeper bitch keeps showing up at the most inopportune times), and then scramble to heal up. Then we get splattered again with the poison ooze and start healing and running.

After they kill the thing, I ask what it was, what it was for… no answers. I mention it would have been nice to give people a warning before spawning a boss like that… no reply. Then the raid group decides that with the boss dead, they all need faction and pages, so the 40 of them descend on our little camp and make everything dead. Nice.

So we pack it in for the night, still needed 3 more pages for Lori to complete the hermit’s quest. I really want to finish this crap so I can get away from Silithus. The place has been good to us, but there are just far too many wackjobs and assholes running around.

Alliance: Making My Way to 60

Ishiro of the Holy Order of Come Get Some Mutha Fu… I mean, the Shadow Priest has been palling around with his Paladin buddy Lorilai. Its funny, but when you don’t play for like 2 or 3 months, it seems like the 200% experience bonus just never ends. We’ve gone from 56 to almost 59 over the course of a couple of 3-4 hour game sessions. Of course, all those quests worth 4,000 – 6,000 exp each don’t hurt. If this keeps up, I expect us to hit level 60 within the next week, maybe two, all depending on Jodi’s work schedule.

One thing I can’t stand though is all the damn Horde. One of my pet peeves in WoW is really appearant right now. We are messing around with in Silithus and Winterspring, two places where either the Devs got lazy or just ran out of time because its neutral towns and both Alliance and Horde get the same quests. I suppose we could play on a PvP server where I could do something about that, but open PvP just grates my nerves. As it is, I had to repeat a quest 4 times the other night because it was an escort quest and a group of bored Horde kept killing the NPC. We could have fought back, but 5 level 60 Horde would have wiped the two of us at 56 all over the mountain side. Anyway… 60 will come soon enough for us, and then maybe we can level the playing field a bit.

Player vs Player

I did my first PvP in World of Warcraft tonight, and I must say that in the space of thirty minutes I was both impressed and very underwhelmed. It started off fine… I had just logged in to do some bank management in Ironforge when I saw the call that Southshore was under attack. I figured, why not go try some PvP? So I hopped a griffin and was on my way.

When I arrived, Southshore was indeed under attack. About three groups of Horde, most level 60, were fighting with about two groups of Alliance. Now, I’m only level 45, but as a priest, I can do my best to stay out of the fight and heal people, so I asked for a group, got one, and started doing my job. We finally began killing some of the Horde (the guards helped a little), and had a moment where the town was safe. As a war party, we headed for the Tauren Mill, the source of the Horde in the area.

On the way, we clashed with some of their reinforcements, and their dead got their resurrections and came back our way instead of continuing at Southshore. We fought at the tower, the Horde with three groups still, but Alliance had swelled up to almost four groups. We won the skirmish and continued on to the Mill.

At the Mill we had one good fight, then some of the Horde left… four groups of Alliance were now pounding on one group of Horde… then no Horde players at all. It was here that PvP started to suck. Alliance just has so many people that we outnumbered them, and they gave up. We sat and killed guards for a while hoping more would show… they never did.

I did get a taste of what good PvP can be. Hopefully there will be more battlefields in my future…