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March 2020

Arma 3 Guildplay

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Sadly, we all have to grow up sometime and most of us middle aged fogeys had that happen over the past decade or two. Many of us are married, have children or other responsibilities that keep us busy, even in this strange quarantined world in which are currently living.

With that it becomes harder and harder to kick back with our dysfunctional internet beard loving friends, so we have to organize some play dates. As such this will be the first of hopefully many we have until we find a game to settle into. Currently the interest in Crowfall seems to be the front runner for next game we jump into collectively and until that winds up we have to maintain the brotherhood!

So join us on March 28th and 29th for MWH’s first guild play session. We are going to be kicking it in Arma 3 for both evenings. All are welcome! Stay safe, healthy and maintain that real life social distancing!

Edit: Got some dates wrong, Planetside coming in April.

Sword, Sorcery or Sword…cery?

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Another source book has been announced entitled Mythic Odysseys of Theros, an expansion on the Magic: The Gathering world. It contains a few new subclasses, races, supernatural gifts and other content that seems aimed at tier three and four play. While I am not familiar with Theros, the little I have gleamed seems interesting and more 5e content is always welcome.

It’s stated that the supernatural Gift Baskets for Women will be presented in the form of a race. I’m curious how they intend to do it because it can either be very bland or imbalanced. I just hope we don’t end up with another orc, which is often considered one of the weakest races they have ever added. Going from the more recent UA for class options, I am hoping they provide some alternative features for races instead of just creating new ones, which can lead to more elf bloat and leave some races behind. That’s all we need, supermanelf, batmanelf and vampelf.

On the topic of supernaturals, I once toyed with the idea of a series of feats that give you powers of vampirism and lycanthropy. For vampires the benefits and detriments increased with each subsequent feat. On the other hand lycanthropes had a fun curve that allowed them to control their shifting more and more, but when it went wrong, it could be disastrous. Rolling a 1 on the shifting check would cause the character to lose control and be nigh unstoppable for some time until they could make another check. It was a fun concept I never finished or used.

Sword, Sorcery or Sword…cery?
Onto the topic at hand, martial versus magical classes. So I like the three pillars and if I had to pick a ratio it would be 20% exploration, 40% social and 40% combat. Given that, it should be no surprise that my favorite classes are rogue and warlock. They combine great combat capabilities with amazing utility in the form of expertise and invocations respectively allowing them to really shine in the right situations. I definitely think wizard falls into this category as well, but I personally cannot stand how squishy they tend to be.

One thing I find annoying about 5e that was nearly perfect in 4e are pure martial characters. The structure to fourth edition nearly ensured all characters had abilities they could use to change the flow of an encounter that mimicked spells like launching a fireball, casting slow or charm person. This issue makes me feel the pure martial subclasses are quite dull and lack the flare that 4e ensured every class had.

Hell, in 5e I don’t think I would ever touch a pure martial class outside of scout, swashbuckler or battlemaster, but let’s look at them individually to see where my problems lie.

Barbarians are less martial than they should be, by all rights. In reality only battlerager and berserker are non-magical and they are often considered the weakest of the subclasses. Sadly berserker is the most cliche subclass and just falls flat for me. Generally, it’s another shirtless dumb guy who gets mad and smashes things. Battlerager is, well… just… you know, let’s just table that mess and move on. That said, the other more magical ones I find interesting and evocative. When I imagine a totem barbarian I get an image of characters like Rexxar from Warcraft and Udyr from League. A warrior who understands nature and seeks to emulate it in combat, roaring like a beast or simply moving like one. The spells they get access to even lend the subclass to a more martial version of a druid. Zealots are warriors of god who, to me, feel far closer to what I imagine a paladin being than actual paladins. They radiate the passion of their faith as they tear a swath through the battlefield and just refuse to die until they feel their deity is done with them. Storm heralds run across the battlefield with literal storm effects enveloping them like the Tasmanian devil. Ancestral guardians take the battlefield and summon their ancestors to harass their enemies, how fucking metal is that?

Rogue is where this gets weird for me because the base class is just so solid. You could ignore subclasses and it would still be strong and compelling. It’s a delicious, perfectly cooked steak and the subclass is just the wine and sides that only add to its splendor. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the aforementioned problem with them. Subclasses like assassin, inquisitive and mastermind really sound good, but play strangely. They both require a strong social pillar to let them shine. Swashbuckler is a kind of frontline rogue, not giving a shit about positioning to get sneak attack and lending itself to a classic and cliche rogue. Scout is a wannabe ranger with no spells, but does it well. While it cannot compare to true ranger in their chosen environment, they can do very well in a game with a strong exploration pillar. Thief is the rogue subclass I often forget exists. It’s not bad, but that’s because it’s really just not anything, it’s just rogue plus. Then, of course, there is arcane trickster. A rogue that can cast spells is great in and of itself, but add in the actual features like mage hand legerdemain and magical ambush and you got yourself a stew going, baby.

Last and, in my opinion, least are fighters. Oh fighters, you are so great in the long run. Action surge, up to four attacks, an extra ASI and second wind are nothing to scoff at. Mechanically solid but, without a great character concept, so dull. Champion is just the epitome of the issue I have and is just ‘fighter fight fightier.’ Cavalier was the mounted fighter in its UA form but they did away with that in favor of something better but still leaving some of that flavor. Still feels dull and quite frankly many of the features it gets are very similar to maneuvers battlemasters can choose. Samurai isn’t that bad and has it’s head above water in my book, but still isn’t quite there. It has great combat features and some rather decent social ones, but is still just shy of something I would ever want to play. Battlemaster is where things get interesting. The maneuver system is just great and provides players with customization options. The downfall to battlemasters is that is more or less all the class is. Know your enemy is nice, but the information is vague and the requirements feel disjointed. To be completely honest it’s a subclass I feel shouldn’t exist. I feel the maneuver system should have been baseline as a customization feature for fighter. I would favor that over the extra ASI. Moving onto the eldritch knight, which is good, but it feels at odds with itself sometimes. I want to be gishing, casting a spell and swinging my weapon, but that’s not really an optimal option. Attacking twice is generally more competitive than using the melee spells like green flame blade or booming blade. Even once you get war magic, it loses it’s novelty once you hit level 11 and get a third attack. I will say that weapon bond and arcane charge are pretty boss, however.

I should, at least, mention the spell-less ranger that was published in a UA. It was interesting, but seems to be abandoned at this point. Skirmisher’s stealth was a bit broken, but the rest of it was so lacking in comparison to spells it made a sort of sense.

I like customizable features in my classes, which is why I love warlocks. Invocations are amazing and really give a customization option that just works in my opinion. I would love to see something like it for every class, which is where I feel maneuvers going baseline would make fighters great. In addition to combat abilities, give the list things used outside of combat that use the same die. As I mentioned previously I like the direction they seem to be going with the class options UA and hope they publish and expand on the concept in the future. Options are good.

In any case, enough of my anti-martial rhetoric, what do you think? Are pure martial classes boring? Are you like me and need some sort of magic or at least magic adjacent features to make it fun? Will Owlbearman save Griffinboy from the Jesters trap? Find out next month.

Nostalgia Train: Dark Age of Camelot

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Dark Age of Camelot is a game about three realms created from a hodgepodge of myths taken from Celtic, British and Norse cultures. Each realm had four races, but the number of classes varied between them; Albion began with 12, Hibernia with 11 and Midgard had the least selection with 9. While most of these classes had obvious roots that reached to Dungeons and Dragons, there was a great deal of variety and flavor. This was especially true for Midgard where each class was a more primal version of what had been seen in other games.

The single greatest impact DAoC had on the genre was the idea of separating the player base into factions. Now almost every new MMO release follows a similar model, which has had both positive and negative results.

What was great about Dark Age of Camelot?

  • The world was challenging enough that soloing was a poor option when compared to grouping with others. Group play in both player versus environment and player versus player was a strong point in DAoC
  • The world was just big enough for the target population. Unlike Everquest, there was enough to do to support four thousand players per server on launch.
  • Open Dungeons. Like Everquest, dungeons were not instanced and you could have multiple groups competing or cooperating through the content. This reached its peak with Darkness Falls multi-realm dungeon that added competition over the dungeon and then limited PvP inside the dungeon.
  • Crafting created better weapons and armor than anything else you could attain in the game. This made the player economy strong and the playing field pretty even in the end game. (I believe this change in a later expansion that was not well received.)
  • The skill point system allowed for a good variety of choices within each class.
  • The pvp battles were on a much larger scale than had been previously seen in MMOs. Entire zones were designed to give players the sandbox to battle it out on an epic scale.
  • Siege equipment was available for both the defending and attacking players in siege combat. It added another element beyond the character abilities in pvp.

What was terrible about Dark Age of Camelot?

  • Faction/Realm Imbalance. Midgard had was more population on almost every server after launch. This became worse as Midgard began to win and the losers jumped ship.
  • Class imbalance is almost a meme in Mark Jacobs designed games. There is almost always one class that is far and away more powerful than everything else in the field.
  • Lack of content over the life of the game. Dark Age relied way to heavily on the player base to provide variation of play to the game. Content updates were far and few between.
  • Pathing. Something that plagued many early MMOs, pathing was so hilariously bad for both mobs and player pets.
  • The user interface was counterintuitive and clumsy. It never really improved as the game was updated.
  • Much like EQ the experience grind in DAoC was pretty bad. There were a few levels that were difficult to get passed because of a lack of appropriate level mobs.
  • Quests were pretty bland, mostly kill and fetch quests with no real meat to them.

What do you remember?

DAoC was a strange game for me, it is the only major release that my guild did not enter into. I still have fond memories of running with a couple of friends and being able to pull off pretty epic victories against a larger number of players on more than one occasion. We did go Midgard of course! Dwarves Rule!

What do you remember from your time in DAoc? or Who?

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