Star this one is for you.
So, been getting into the whole Star Wars thing again and of course the repeated face-planting of the Jedi Order comes up. One of my friends point out that the Jedi are the epitome of Lawful Stupid. People so painfully lawful good, so incredibly cut off by their own perspective that they literally cannot get out of their own way. I counter with the fact that the Sith are Chaotic Stupid and no less troubled by their own worldviews and the bizarre structured chaos that was the Sith Empire, concentrated down into the Rule of Two and then the Rule of One.
Let’s talk a bit about Jedi failings first. In the prequel trilogy they suffer from a blindness to the oncoming threat. They understand it as a waning of their own powers rather than the actual conscious action of an opposing force, like, the Sith Lord they take direction from. Their desire to fix the entire galaxy in a static state overwhelming any sense of an external force working change. Their philosophy at this time was… laughable. Never mind Obi-Wan’s “Only the Sith deal in absolutes!” line (I name you Darth Sandrobe); let’s look at some of the problems they face. First they use a power that apparently features an extremely seductive aspect of raw power that can only be accessed through “Dark” emotions, rage, jealousy and hate. Rather than teaching the Jedi to handle these emotions they must either be bottled up forever (THAT always ends well) or unleashed completely (Like a poorly parented teenager). No middle ground. Once again absolutes and Sith people. Jedi must be perfect, full stop, while anything else is Sith. This leads to many of the greatest, most powerful Jedi being thrown into tougher and tougher situations where any faltering moment has the potential to turn them into a Dark Jedi or even a Sith. I wonder why the Jedi have a sense they are getting weaker?
The result of this episode of willful ignorance is Order 66, with the Jedi murdered by their own clone soldiers, the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire with Darth Sidious at the helm (formerly Senator Palpatine) and Darth Vader (The Jedi’s “Chosen One” and champion) wielding the whip. Had the Jedi encouraged pragmatism and a willingness to learn to control emotions and not subdue them, perhaps Anakin doesn’t become a Sith lord. Had they considered an option other than their own weakening powers as the Sith lord used his own power to blind them, perhaps they catch the snake coiled at their feet. Had they re-considered the wisdom of an easily given, impossible to rescind order that would demolish their own force, they might have escaped annihilation at the hand of their own troops. Unfortunately they wandered around, blind to the doom approaching them, and paid for it.
The Sith aren’t a lot better. In the Old Republic days the Sith Empire had a strict hierarchy that suffered from one key weakness. Promotion was mostly by means of killing your superior. This resulted in plenty of times where the Sith would win a battle and their finest leaders were promptly backstabbed by scheming juniors or promising juniors who jumped the gun were put down by their masters. While this crucible did result in some very powerful warriors rising through the ranks it didn’t exactly encourage great wisdom in the higher ranks, merely power. Darth Bane dealt with this by instituting the Rule of Two. Only two sith, a Master and an Apprentice. The basic foundation of this system was that the apprentice would grow in power and eventually kill the master and find their own apprentice. That’s some dedication right there. Maybe not the brightest candle in the box but certainly a bold one.
The end result of this is a dying Vader tossing the Emperor down a really really long shaft. Also I’m sure there’s an OHSA joke in here somewhere. That is not enough guard rail. Now this doesn’t end the Sith but there’s a pretty big discontinuity in there now. The One Sith at least restored the numbers of the Sith Empire, and instilled a great level of discipline in them but was sooooo over the top evil that it hardly had any greater power to challenge the new Jedi Order than the old Empire had.
I know this has been a roaming ramble of a rant but I think I’ve at least made my point that the Force doesn’t make you smart, and that excessive use apparently causes brain damage.
Ok I’ve been knocking around the idea for this post for a little while. Privateer Press offers what they call Battle Boxes. These offer a ‘caster and some supporting ‘jacks that give you a balanced, fun set for some really basic games. I’m going to run down the boxes for the factions I have seen. I haven’t seen Convergence or Retribution, the rest I can speak about.
Cryx has become my primary force. Their battle box has a lot to do with it. Deneghra (pDenny) is an immensely unbalancing walking catastrophe of a ‘caster. Her ability to cripple and nullify the enemy at extreme range, using the excellently supportive ‘jacks in this box makes this a singularly not fun box to play against. For strength it’s about a 12/10, for representing how fun the game is as far as your opponent is concerned it’s about a 2. pDenny is just that un-fun to play against. The ‘jacks are a solid supporting cast, although not superlative. 3 Arc Nodes make Denny that much more powerful, but the Slayer and Defiler are under-powered, in a battle box or a regular fight.
Caster – 10/10 – because if I voted lower than that she’d cripple me and finish me off.
Deathrippers – 8/10 – Fast, fairly accurate, hit somewhat hard, arc nodes are awesome with Denny. You get two of them in the box.
Defiler – 2/10 – Just an arc node. Doesn’t do a lot else.
Slayer – 6/10 – an heavy. Focus intensive with a caster that wants to cast.
This box will leave you with a lot of choices. You can sacrifice an arc node early to get some upkeeps out there early. Crippling grasp does what it says on the tin. It slows down faster models so you can catch them, and slower models may as well go home. They can’t even run. Parasite is another fun one to throw out there, helping Denny be a bit less helpless should someone look at her funny. The defiler can actually be a tiny bit of a threat to an enemy caster, but don’t count on it hurting anything else. Keep the slayer far enough back that it doesn’t eat any charges or heavy hits on the way in, with its speed delivering it won’t be a problem in most battle boxes. Also figure out what you want to do with it, the one huge benefit it has is that it can do pretty much everything. 3 decent P+S attacks. 2 Open fists (meaning: all the power attacks) and a combo-strike to drop the open fist attacks and get 1 HEAVY attack. It still dies if you look at it funny, but if you’re playing Cryx you’ll need to get used to that. The Deathrippers are just solid little toys. They move fast, hit pretty well, and are supremely accurate with their attacks. They die fast, but I’m sure you were expecting that. They make great flankers and if one can get a charge lane on an enemy caster that isn’t camping focus you might want to let them know they can start cleaning up the table.
Cygnar loves to shoot. Despite a purely meh ‘caster this is a really really solid battle box. Ironclads are very very popular, potent heavies that mix accuracy, power, and a great support ability. The lights are a mixed bag. The Charger is the premier shooting light in a faction that loves shooting. The Lancer is a very defensive arc node. In a game that loves offense, defensive abilities just aren’t as fun. This ‘jack is far from as weak as the Defiler, and it has its uses, but it’s not ideal. This box won’t dominate or cripple the enemy like Cryx, it cannot disrupt the enemy with nearly as much ability, but it can still set the tone in a game.
Caster – 5/10 – I’ll admit I’m not a pStryker fan. He’s very defensive. Warmachine loves offense. He can be tough as nails, he can support a few models, again mostly with defensive buffs. Just not inspiring.
Ironclad – 9/10 – probably the best heavy in a battlebox. The only chink in the armor is… its armor. It’s fast, hits like a truck, with accuracy, and it can knock down the enemy to ensure successful follow-up attacks or clear the way for the:
Charger – 9/10 – Ok Warmachine doesn’t like shooting. It’s just not as potent. It’s also very focus inefficient. Except for this bad boy. With 3 focus it can give you two very accurate, fully boosted shots. With snipe it can shoot a long way. With Ironclad you can knock down bad guys blocking Line of sight to let you see the target you want.
Lancer – 5/10 – a terribly defensive arc node. It’s more useful than the Defiler. Probably.
This is a schizophrenic box. Stryker can help deliver a jack by boosting it’s armor and defense, and he can throw Snipe on the charger to give it more range. He’s also an incredibly accurate attacker in his own right, even if his strength is pretty run-of-the-mill. The one thing he really has going for him is that he can boost the heck out of the Charger. The key to this box is clearing line of fire. Ironclad can drop the hammer to knockdown an enemy, this could let the charger pop off two boosted shots at something your opponent thought was safe IF the Ironclad itself didn’t move into the way. Remember, you do not have to charge directly towards your target, you can charge tangentially. Don’t block line of sight in order to clear line of sight. The Lancer is best served as an extension of your caster, being an arc node it can apply Stryker’s buffs or other spells at arms reach, however you really want it in close to your battlegroup as it has the armor of a heavy and a defensive ability that simply demands your opponent find a way to work around it. See the card. The Ironclad is a beatstick with 1 fantastic attack, 1 decent attack, and a game-winning special ability. It’s not unbelievably tough (see Warjack, Heavy, Khador) but it can take a pounding. It also has pretty good speed for a heavy and it synergizes well with the Charger. The Charger is your all-star. It’s fast, fairly tough, fairly hard to hit, accurate, and it does more with three focus than any jack in the game. 2 Fully Boosted shots from a fast, accurate platform. This is your game winner here and your opponent knows it. Your Lancer will probably spend more than a little time charging around keeping this guy safe, and that’s ok. Unfortunately this box is far more predictable than the Cryx one, as you will pretty much be running around with Stryker a little behind and between the Ironclad on one side, and the Lancer/Charger on the other, trying to find a good angle to smash the screen your enemy is setting up in front of his Caster.
So GW posted one doozy of a letter to investors. I mean. Wow. Look at THIS whopper. If he wasn’t leaving he should be thrown out anyway.
Games Workshop has had a really good year.
If your measure of ‘good’ is the current financial year’s numbers, you may not agree. But if your measure is the long-term
survivability of a great cash generating business that still has a lot of potential growth, then you will agree.
W ell, sure. If you ignore some other facts. Successful, capable competition, stagnating internal ideas, technological advances threatening production. Everything is lovely!
He also announces he’s stepping down. Thank. Almighty. God. For those not paying attention that’s their chief lawyer and their CEO.
So I thought of what I would do if they picked someone more capable. I figure there’s got to be 4 to 5 billion people who could do a better job running GW than the buffoons right now, and for once that’s not hyperbole. This company is still operating like the economy is going great, there’s no source of information on alternatives or their own activities, and that local brick and mortar stores are unnecessary to their operations. None of these things are true, and their inability to realize this is leading them down a dark spiral, and they are even ignorant to this fact.
So what would I do? Well first off the whole pricing structure needs a radical restructuring. Prices for GW minis are absolutely ridiculous even granted their high quality. The prices for the books are even worse. I would operate on the theory that bringing new people in is absolutely essential to the game. Books would receive between a 50 and 75% price slash. If that meant selling them for a loss then so be it. People without books are people not playing my game. I want this to be the marketing scheme for next year:
The second thing I want to do is change how the boxed armies are done. I think GW is inching in this way already (look at the dwarf one for example) but they need to really look at how things are being done outside the company. They can outprice Privateer Press handily and still attract fans. Their games are good and their fans are rabid, but they need to encourage more people to pick it up. Here’s my ideas for their established products:
- Get rid of Finecast. Yesterday.
- Reprice all books to 25-50% of their current cost.
- Better staff and stocking at GW stores. These places should be destinations, palaces of GW hobbies with examples and demos going on every hour. Not sad slovenly stores stocking the most basic material.
- Stop. Suing. Everyone. It pisses people off and it is being done far in excess of what is necessary to preserve copyrights.
- Every Box like the Dwarf Box! Useful models, a good solid core and a little something extra tossed in. Islands of Blood is another great example. For $100 dollars you get at least 3-4x what you pay for AND the rulebooks.
- Box sizes should equate to regiments. 20 for elite infantry, 30 for line, 40 for swarms. Pricing will also be going down. 3$ for elite minis, 2$ for the rank and file, 5-7 for cavalry.
- Army books brought up to date for legacy armies, Brets, Skaven, Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings, look there’s a lot that needs some love.
- 1 Book for Marines. 3 Tops. Not a dozen. (Not counting CSM)
- Price reduction on boxes. Box sizes are ok. 40 bucks for 10 basic tactical marines isn’t.
- Rebalance everything. I mean a serious balance pass. Fliers especially but every army needs a good hard look to avoid spamming of OP units.
- Encourage the “skirmish” aspect. Too many games end up like WWI slugfests with neat weapons rather than fast sci fi games with Marines shrugging off loads of fire to desperately try to accomplish their objective.
- Epic 40k will be back. Armageddon was a great ruleset that rubbed people the wrong way. That can be fixed. Big battles in 40k have always been amazing and there’s no reason not to have this product out there.
- Blood Bowl is GW’s best game ever. Seriously it’s fun, it’s fast paced and it needs to be out front.
- LotR… does anyone play this? How much are we paying for the IP? Create some fancy models and move on.
- Necromunda. Am I showing my age yet? This is a hoot of a game and should be re-release with gorkamorka as a twofer. Maybe even a “big scale” 54mm model game. Something to throw down once in a while to mix things up.
Finally attempts have to be made to reach out to the community. A lot of the games biggest supporters have been turned off by GW’s litigious nature, and heavy handed treatment of the humble LGS. This has got to end. GW should be proud of each and every store and should offer incentives to high performing stores, not harsh quotas and minimums. For example a store that runs a tourney every month with a minimum of 10 players gets free scenery packs. X amount in total sales gets a discount on product, or more favorable payment terms. Finally I would practically dismantle the GW website for orders. Let the retailers handle the retail. Every GW sale takes dollars out of the pockets of the brick and mortar stores that host most Fantasy or 40k games. Treat these stores well and they will reward GW with higher sales. Treat them badly and they will wither and it will be more and more difficult for gamers to find a place to play a game. It will be more and more difficult to bring new people into the hobby, and it will be more and more difficult to increase the companies sales.
This was fun. Next up: Privateer Press, and then CCP Games!
So I’m getting back into Warmahordes. Dusting off the Cryx and blowing the dust off the books. Warmachine has a lot to recommend it; not the least being that it isn’t made by GW. I’m going to go over some things I think are awesome about it, some things that aren’t and some things that are both.
Ok the price of this game compared to most other minis based games is pretty darn low. It’s not cheap, and some models/units are downright expensive (BANES!) but overall you can land more than a couple hundred bucks under a 40k army, let alone a fantasy battles army.
The Mechanics of this game are really neat. So much more of your strategy will happen on your side of the table. What order you activate units in, how you will set up your attacks, when to roll the dice and when to stand pat for a moment.
All offense, all the time. Models die fast and furious. You can delay it but you can’t prevent it. People who turtle suffer. I’ve seen people who are used to historicals, GW games, and a lot of other metas just get swallowed by a fast and aggressive Warmahordes player. My fiancee crunched my nemesis in her 2nd or 3rd game because he’s used to doing nothing on his first turn from other games, and he still won’t play the game because his favorite strategy is completely useless.
The models are gorgeous. Good lord these armies look fantastic. The “Recommended” paint schemes are bold, simple, and effective. You don’t have to be Mike or Allison McVey to make them look good.
The game is designed to be accessible. $50 gets you a battlebox with a ‘caster/warlock, some jacks/beasts and rules. That gets you a book in some other games. Rulebooks are handy, but not required, and rulebooks, army books, and expansion books, are very reasonably priced. Even with some minis being on the pricey side
NOT SO AWESOME
Rules Lawyering. This game follows a very nice meta, saying “Here’s some simple basic rules” then following it with “And here’s more enough special rules to choke an elephant” This is fine in and of itself, but it leads to lengthy errata, as rules have to be bounced off each other, and the very lethality of the game means that such minutiae as measuring, and proper rolling will need to be followed to the letter. This can really slow down the game, especially between new players, and in advanced games with death clocks… woof.
Knowledge is Power. Players need to know at least their own army like the back of their hands. It is very easy to fall badly behind an army you haven’t faced before and get trounced.
The Great Grey Horde. People build armies fast. The “I just need this and my army will be invincible!” feeling, combined with the moderate prices mean that every game shop and every gamer is faced by monolithic walls of grey or silver miniatures staring at him begging for paint. I spray mine black to shut them up.
Assembling some of these miniatures is so frustrating that it makes me want to sit on the floor, kick my heels and throw a tantrum. And I haven’t even bought Terminus yet. I’m not kidding either. Look here. Honestly it’s one of the worse models they’ve made from a pose AND from an assembly standpoint but he’s so incredibly powerful I want to use him, I just do NOT want to put that mess together.
THE AWESOMELY NOT-SO-AWESOME
Now for the bits of both.
There are models that are so not fun to play against they can make people rage quit the game. Without ever playing it. See War Witch Deneghra, and most of Cryx. Menoth and Everblight have this too. But only Cryx has it in their battlebox. That’s right, Privateer Press threw a rage-quit inducing miniature in the starter sets. The alternate box with Asphyxious is an improvement, but facing Cryx can be soul crushing, and that is the right term. The down sides of this is obvious, but on the plus side it inspires some gamers to say “well what does Cygnar have that will make people throw dice?”
The game can change so fast you have no idea what just happened. Seriously I’ve seen whole games change so fast that the player that won literally doesn’t know they’ve won. One lucky attack, one miss, one perfectly/poorly positioned mini and a game goes from a crushing defeat to a stunning victory. This is awesome as it keeps you playing even in a game that you don’t think you have a chance in, but it also makes you want to cry when your perfect attack run falls apart because you rolled a 3 to hit on a sure-fire attack.
All in all I really enjoy this game. Not everyone that plays it is a wonderful character and my last burnout was solely to do with people, not the game, time to toughen up and roll some dice again.
So Sapience, the Community Manager of LotRO has announced that Raiders are less than 5% of the Lord of the Rings population, and probably more like 2-3%. I’m not sure what exact methodology was used to determine who is a “raider” but the two definitions I would consider most “normal” are: first, someone who has completed a raid, killed the bosses, looted the chest; second, someone who has completed a raid multiple times. Maybe does things on a regular basis. The second is what I think of as raiders and I would put this group around 2% of the population at best. There isn’t a lot of argument that raiders are a small part of the population. How small is a matter of some question but I’m willing to take Sapience’s numbers at face value.
Here’s the thing. Sapience is saying they don’t make raids because there aren’t raiders. He’s saying the root of the problem is the lack of raiders. That’s not the root. That’s the trunk. That’s not the cause, it’s the effect. Raiding in LotRO is nowhere near where it is in SWTOR or WoW or any other big name game, because the raids suck. Really Bad. The SoA raids aren’t terrible but they are dated. Really really dated. No one knew what they were doing back then, players or devs and it shows. The Moria raids were poisoned by the Radiance system and still don’t feel right, although they can be fun they’ve never really worked even after the disaster that was Radiance was removed. BG and OD were good raids. In fact they might have represented the golden age of LotRO raiding. Two worthwhile raids that people could run that justified a gear grind by granting access to good, challenging content.
Then there’s Risengard. It has the best raid in the game, ToO and the worst in the game, Draigoch. ToO has not been updated to the level cap and people run it. It is still fun, and still challenging. That’s a good raid there. Draigoch probably killed raiding. A buggy, confusing, poorly done mess that results in the boss bugging out more than wipe-quits and victories combined. And it’s still not fixed.
That’s why people don’t raid in LotRO. For the same reason that EvE players revolted over the lack of iteration. Because things get left undone and then the outcome gets blamed on the players. The Rohan raids were more like encounters than raids, they simply didn’t have any grandiose feel to them, and I doubt really affected people’s feelings on raids in either way.
Here’s the thing, Turbine can make great and innovative instances. School and Library probably have more runs per active player than any instance in any game. They are that popular, that fast, and that useful to the players. The Barrows are a lot of fun and the Misty Mountains quests are quite neat. When it comes to 3 and 6 man content the Turbine staff can go toe to toe with just about anyone. I’m going to run down the list of instances you can do on level at the current level cap.
- Great Barrow (3 Instances, 6 man)
- Inn of the Forsaken (3 man)
- Seat of the Great Goblin (3 man)
- Iorbar’s Peak (3 man)
- Webs of the Scuttledells (3)
- Bells of the Dale (6)
- Fornost (4 instances, 6 man)
- Halls of Night (3 man)
- Glinghant (6 man)
- Ost Elendil (6 man)
- Huadh Valandil (6 man)
- Library (3 man)
- School (3 man)
- Sword Hall (3 man)
- Dungeons (6 man)
- Warg Pens (3 man)
- Sammath Gul (6 man)
- Lost Temple (6 man)
- Sari-Surma (6 man)
- Northcotton Farms (3 man)
- Stoneheight (3 man)
So 26 choices at level cap. Twenty Six. All of them are fun, all of them are worth at least a run through, and some are worth going through on a regular basis for fun and profit! You can even get rewards for slapping hobbits!
That’s not even counting the Skirmish and (still buggy) big battles. Both of which can provide an interesting instanced challenge for 1-12 players. They may not be as intricate as a more traditional instance, but they are an interesting challenge and a big change from the current standard of Dungeons or Open World Quests.
Turbine can do good content, they just haven’t wrapped their heads around traditional raids, and they are blaming the players for it.
Ok, tabletop gaming talk time. I’ve been a table top gamer for SLIGHTLY less time than I’ve been a vidya gamer. My first minis were the famous “30 Space Marines for 30 dollars” box back when GW wasn’t in the running for “Most idiotic evil corporate empire on earth” and I’ve played ever since. Battletech, Every GW game out there, Johnny Reb, Age of Reason, Command Decision, X-wing, Warmahordes. You name it I’ve probably looked it over.
Leviathans very quickly earned a special part in my heart. This is an incredibly fun, not tortuously complex, immensely characterful game. Seriously, who doesn’t love Pre-Dreadnought flying battleships blasting each other to bits over Victorean Europe? It’s a great game and if you can find a copy I strongly suggest forking over for the (overpriced, and more on that soon) box. The miniatures are fascinating, and you will be fondling them gleefully, the rules are fun and the fluff is entertaining as hell especially if you are familiar with early 20th century naval personages.
But there’s a fly in the ointment.
That’s not true.
There’s some ointment on the wasps nest.
Leviathans has been mismanaged, unlucky, and royally screwed over since the beginning. Their kickstarter ran well, but since then. Woof. I’m not entirely conversant with the chain of events but whatever research they did on their suppliers apparently missed the fact that Don Corleone was less crooked, and Chicago less corrupt. Catalyst (which runs a shoestring organization to begin with) faced numerous… well… shakedowns in getting their product released, and ended up selling either for a loss or for a bare profit on the $100 dollar box set that staggered onto the market nearly a year late. They released three box sets, the core one, and two fleet box sets that never saw the shelves here for about 50 a piece. They contained the same miniatures as the big box, with variant ships. Some e-pubs followed and lots and lots of promises.
And that’s it.
The new factions? Not ready yet. More miniatures? Not even close. Now there’s just no way to even GIVE them more money to continue development short of waiting for another kickstarter. That will basically get us back to where we were 2 years ago when the product first launched. If it succeeds.
Recently the extremely clever and devoted developer of the game, one Randall Bills, posted a statement basically admitting that they had lost all control of the miniatures (renders, molds, everything) and that their initial production model had been a failure for many reasons (not the least of which being malfeasance by the mini producer) and everything but the rules needed to be done from the ground up.
It looks more and more like Randall needs a boss. Someone with more business experience to provide oversight, rigor, and experience to prevent the kind of catastrophes that have plagued this program since the first kickstarter.
The tone of this last message reminds me of Bruce Graw of Agents of Gaming. Bruce created a game called Babylon 5 Wars, based on the TV series, and it was a rather similar game to Leviathans in the way the game flowed. The game even had some pretty considerable success, which is amazing when I think on how incredibly difficult to assemble many of the miniatures were. It fell apart towards the end when the license for the game wasn’t continued despite Bruce’s considerable efforts and investment and the company disappeared like a soap bubble.
Both companies were exposed to point failure, that is one single bad player in the scheme could ruin them. Bruce didn’t have much control over it, his whole concept required a partner to play along, but Randall didn’t have to use that company, and he could have given himself surety that protected him from getting screwed over like he did. Especially after it happened once.
Both companies had major supply issues as well. B5W minis would show up with molding flaws that were simply ridiculous, enormous bubbles, or concavities, detail so worn away that ships looked like metal bricks, B5W was not immune to issues with their producers, and Bruce had to spend a lot of time cat-wrangling.
B5W suffered an ignominious demise because of these problems. Leviathans seems to be heading that way. I want it to succeed, I want to see the Germans, Italians, Russians, Austrian, American, and Japanese fleets sail the skies. I want more miniatures, I want the amazing mapboard to have neighbors, and I want expanded rules. I don’t want Leviathans to be a footnote, but unless they get some supervision I fear that Bills will be the next Graw.
So if you haven’t heard, there’s a book project on Kickstarter for a book on the history of the major players of EvE Online. 600 people have backed it already, with an average funding of about $22 each. He’s already beaten his funding goal of $12,500. Oh and it’s been going for about 8 hours. Some heavy hitters have already backed it, Mynxee drew my attention to it and it continues to draw attention and support. I rather suspect TheMittani.com will have a post on it soon and that will bring even more attention. And filthy lucre.
The first thing I thought after backing it was “I haven’t played EvE in a month. Why did I just back a book about it” and I realized something that I’ve known in the back of my head for a while. EvE is a spectator sport. I love baseball, I play softball. I love reading. My writing is a trial. I love the drama and heights of EvE, but I’m not temperamentally fit to climb those heights and battle in the arenas that are most interesting to me. But by god I’ll throw down my hard earned cash to read about the people that do have what it takes.
CCP has created as their main, and only really profitable product, a game that is more entertaining to watch than it is to play for most of even its target audience. Whether you enjoy the e-sport format of the tournaments, the news sources and outlets, or are eagerly anticipating the new book it seems like a lot of the best parts of EvE simply aren’t in-game anymore. The problem with this is that CCP doesn’t control the news sources, or the new book. They do have the graphic novel and apparently some kind of series that will come about because of this, but they need to get ahead of this cart. They can’t let too many opportunities to make money off this game now that WoD is dead as a doornail.
Just my 2 cents. I don’t deal in Isk anymore.
So I’ve more or less given up on EvE. It just doesn’t have the draw for me anymore. It’s too hard to find interesting people doing interesting things for me anymore. I’m not dropping the Corelin persona in my gaming however, I am adapting him, and the Lintu clan to other games. First up: FF XIV
So I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan ever since the very first game hit my old NES. I’ve played to completion every main sequence game except 8 (I cannot stand Squall) and played all the Tactics, Mystic Quest, etc. I never got into FF XI very much because it came too early for me to really get into. Boy did I get into XIV though. I played it after release when it hit the main stage like a rotten tomato. I don’t know what it was supposed to be, but it was a clean miss. It didn’t feel like much of anything, from a Final Fantasy game, to a Top Flight MMO, to a Grindbox game. It was just a wild mishmash, a Chimera launched malformed into the world. It was actually fun, but definitely not worth the $14.99 a month.
So Squenix bit the bullet, fired some people, moved others around, and reborned it. Let me give you my unvarnished opinion of it. First the good
- Graphics are great, this is a visually stunning game, that does full justice to the sort of majesty we have come to expect from a Final Fantasy game.
- The music is amazing. Seriously. Battle Music is better than world themes, but when has that not been the case with Final Fantasy? Let me give you A FEW EXAMPLES. Yes the last one is a bit odd.
- Fan service. 2 of those 3 songs are references to previous games. Battle on the Bridge is one of the more famous FF themes. Good King Moggle Mog is one of the crazier fights, especially as it has you smashing moggles, who are normally (literally) falling all over themselves to help you. Chocobos are huge. Goobues. Coerls. Primals/Summons/Name it.
- Long Global Cooldown. I wish they used this better but I love how that 2.5 second GCD gives you plenty of time to plan out your move and act or react to the fight rather than spamming through your rotation/priority tree.
- Enough Story. Rather than being a primarily story-drive game like Star Wars, or barely bothering with the story like WoW, this game finds a happy medium. The story is there. You will play through it once, but if you don’t want to pay attention, you don’t have to. I barely did until I got to bits I liked. I will mention that I *HATE* Western Thanalan.
- Combat in general is very good. Some of the animations are repetitive. Arcanists hold their book one way. That’s it. Kinda dull for 50 levels and countless dungeons. Ditto for all the magic users. Still there’s plenty going on. ALL the fights require you to think, move, and react to your opponent. All of them. That level 3 rat has an AoE that will make you very sad if you stand in it.
Now the not so good
- The game is a tiny bit cutesy for the “serious” gamer. It doesn’t always take itself seriously, and this includes ALL aspects of the game. If you beat Thornmarch and get moogle gloves before finishing your relic quest as a monk you are gonna look like this for a while.
Now that’s fine for some people. Including me actually. But sometimes you will be wanting to feel like a hardcore badass, and you are partied with three Lalafell geared out in full up Kawaii gear. You can zoom out and ignore it, but it’s still an issue, and an understandable one.
- The game bogs down in places. 1-50 isn’t smooth, and some endgame gear will be gotten all out of order. You will get your ilvl 80 weapon before you get much more than a handfull of pieces of other gear.
- Endgame on the whole was VERY week until a couple weeks ago, now it is smoother, but still could use some help. I do believe they are working on it, but it is more of a work in progress than it should be.
- It’s a very Japanese game. Grinding is a perfectly acceptable thing to put in for them, to the point where mindless repetition of quests or quest equivalents is just fine by the devs. In addition sometimes the game feels VERY different from a European/American MMO. Be it WoW or LotRO or SWTOR these games have a lot in common. This game defies some of that. It’s not all comfortable for us Americans, although I do like changing things up, sometimes I want to know WHY things are a certain way.
- I don’t like the crafting.
- I don’t like the gathering.
- Housing is expensive. *Really* expensive.
All in all it’s very fun. The community is quite helpful, and jerks get called out more often than they don’t. That’s big for me. The staff is responsive to petitions, and other than the occasional grindbox segment, the game is just fun. Seriously watch that Gilgamesh fight and tell me that doesn’t look like a blast.
Later this month I’m going to talk about how bad I am at World of Tanks, and since it’s Sexual Assault Awareness month I will probably talk about why everything you were told about consent is school is horrible. Till then fly safe, enjoy your game and be excellent to each other. In addition I’m working on the old podcast and streaming with Matt from the podcast on occasion.
Also: Gonna need some new art.