Monday, March 30, 2009

I have "teh vibe" creeping up on me...

I have that nasty vibe that I used to have few months ago creeping back. Seems like as for now the AoC is back to it's nasty, stagnat stage and it's almost a year of development with nothing really developed for 80lvl pvper.

Seriously we got this:
- easy to exploit pvp system,
- pvp items that are easy to gain through exploiting,
- broken criminal system,
- cimmerian end that failed after 2 weeks,
- combo steps redution (1.3 patch)
- gem nerf (1.3)
- minigames UI (which does sweet fuck all as everyone plays HV as always)

So it is same old same old in Keshatta and as for now we don't have ANY news regarding introducing more pvp content (rewards for minigames? Hope it is not just few extra XPs for skull capture...) or even fixes to major flaws in pvp system.

What you have now in AOC you will have to tolerate for atleast 3 more months (best scenario) and I have to say: there was sudden increase in sever's pop after 1.4, but as for now I can see that AOC is bleeding its player base again. People got in, checked whatever content there was added in 1.4 (I didn't even bother to go to the X, the loot won't improve my PVP in anyway so why bother and there aren't exacly groups LFMing for the X) and after a month they did not resubed.

Another story is that we were supposedly to be bombarded by 1.5 content articles and what we got was two really and I MEAN really CRAPPY interviews (here and here). Those are whole diffrent story: why even bother doing interviews if you aren't going to release any new information? Seriously I had to bombay movie that interviews.
There is a promise for 1.5 patch and director's letter this week, but I am stuck at 80k pvp xp into lvl4, grumpy as hell and doesn't care much for that now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How 1.5 will handle Keshatta?

Here are few facts:
I have reached my pvp lvl 3 from lvl2 in 3 months by doing minigames. Meanwhile some of my guildmates reached lvl4 and were very close to lvl5 after I have hit the big 3. Keshatta in all of its uglyness is best place to get pvp xp.

What can you do in KESH

Free zerg roam:
Join the zerg (aka +6 players) and just spam kills. The exp is crap, but you don't have to worry about that, you will farm your guildmates for pvp xp later, right? If your zerg gets somewhat killed just go with +2 rule - for every whipe add 2 more players to the zerg until unstoppable.

Hug the guard:
Getting low on HP? Just run to the guard and let them kill your attackers. Keshatta guards have highest suicide rate from active duty Guards because 99% they kill wrong people and they joined the Kesh forces to protect poor noobies opressed by the zerg in a first place.

Pull the guards:
Some naab is hugging your guards? Just have your mate shoot one guard and run while you take care of that naab.

Spawn camp:
In it to win it and no limit is your home? Just get your group on the respawn pad and gank the shit out of everyone who dares to step out. Little tip: keep one of your group mates (preferably soldier) on 30% hp to lure stupid people into attacking him - now CC that naab to death.

Zerg vs Zerg
If you see other zerg clash with them until one of you emerge victorious - the loser zerg will 99% time leave and you will have whole place to yourself.

Stand and deliver
If you pushed everyone on spawnpad and made most of those people leave then stand in Kesh for hours doing nothing because hey, you can farm guildies for pvp xp later, right?

How does Kesh looks like:

Just to be fair I took a video of absolutly random Kesh fight and I can honestly say: this is how Age of Conan's pvp looks like when you reach lvl 80. It always have been like this since combo-preloading, through gem era, to 1.3 combo nerf to 1.4 minigames changes and will progress into 1.5 with just diffrent feats and more powerful items (so people who farmed their guildmates for pvp items will get rewarded for their hard effort - the zerg will just get stronger in 1.5).

PVP that is killing the PVP:
I will go way on the line here and make a bold statement - people do pvp for:
1. Fun that comes from taking down an opponent
2. Items that will make that easier
3. Archievment of being higher level than others that shows your skill

Here is what are they getting:
  1. You can take down "the zerg" no matter how skilled you are and regardless how much they suck. You will get CC, charged, feared and probably fatalited. If you are really unlucky you will get a tell from one of the zerg members saying: you suck, pwned, noob etc.
  2. You won't get items because you are not getting nearly enough experience - can't farm zerg. On the other side it seems like most of zerg's members are out-gearing you in everyway with lvl4 being fairly common nowdays.
  3. You archievment is meaningless: like half of server is already higher lvl than you. Why struggle for that lvl3 when guy that you have seen being lvl78 a weak ago is now doning lvl3 braces and boasting about how close he is to lvl4. Even when you have somehow GRINDED your ass to lvl4 others will assume that you have also cheated your way there - just like everyone else.

The solution?
I don't know. Honestly. While pvp xp is still key issue for people coming to Kesh, it seems like pvp xp is not essential to zerg guilds: in one "farm session" they can get as much as 10 or even 20k. If you are a mature gamer with job and can catch about 2-3h tops of gameplay a day and you can make about 3k pvp xp (you need another player for that, some gear and some luck with meeting groups smaller than 4 players). That means exploiters get in 1h or less as much of XP as dedicated pvp player can make in almost 7 days and that is IF HE GETS LUCKY.

Introducing new pvp mechanics or even boosting minigames won't cut it: the zerg will come to Kesh because they don't need the exp, they want to pray upon people. If guild leave+farm exploit was somehow fixed and the zerg could not farm their xp that way, it would disband and try to pvp in 2-4 people groups because in zerg you get like 1xp all the time.

This needs a serious fix and fast because AT CURRENT RATE when 1.5 hits the live servers every member of the zerg will be already caped at LVL5.

Assassins in sieges

Yesterday I finaly had an opportunity to take part in defending Sanguis Attexo's Battle Keep. Here are few of my observations that I would like to share:

Note: specced as lotus assassin with ambush

Computer can't handle it
Despite of all FC work on AOC performance the game is uber sluggish for me in sieges regardless of settings used. I have bought my computer just for Age of Conan and even if thou it is not best you can get (it is more of a bottom end of duo core speccs) it does handle the game well: 4 GB RAM, 2x 2,60 duo core pentium and Nvidia 8600 GT. In Siege I used "PVP/raid" speccs provided in video configuration and I had FPS of 9-12 when things got messy and 18 FPS "out of action". It was ass.

Assassin's role
In general any other rogue can do our job ten times better. Barbarian can take bigger punishment so they can suicide themself into balista and Rangers give better fire support to the main forces. Assassins die just by looking at zerg. Our stealth mechanic is not unique so we don't have any clear advantage over other rogues while they bring a lot to the table in terms of firepower and survivality.

Curse of lotus and brutality
Without doubt those two feats are KEY for assassins in sieges. I have seen brutality turn the very outcome of a major battle (about 10 vs 10): after initial clash brutality proced 3 fatalities of us - one after another - providing with damage buff that was too much to handle for other side. Curse of lotus is best used to quickly get rid of siege weapon's defenders so rogue group and destroy it unmolested.

In conclusion: we hardly have anything unique to contribiute to both defence and offence. Almost anything we can do someone else can do better. I doubt speccing into hybrid would make any diffrence and would certainly make stealthing less effective.

Should we be able to avoid aoe damage while in stealth for short period of time?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ah, to sail an open sea...

I am re-reading the story of Bêlit, Queen of the Black Coast:

"With twenty men at the oars, three at the sweep, and the shipmaster, the crew was complete.So the Argus pushed steadily southward, with consistently fair weather. The sun beat down from day to day with fiercer heat, and the canopies were run up--striped silken cloths that matched the shimmering sail and the shining goldwork on the prow and along the gunwales"

There is nothing I want from Age of Conan than being able to sail the open sea...Everytime I am looking at shores I wonder what would it be like if we could sail from Khemi to Old Tarania and from there to Barachian Isles..and beyond.

Conan agreed. He generally agreed to her plans. Hers was the mind that directed their raids, his the arm that carried out her ideas. It mattered little to him where they sailed or whom they fought, so long as they sailed and fought. He found the life good.

As we prepare to embrace 1.5

The US assassins board are kinda slacking on their feedack with only 18 responses to Assassin Wishes and Suggestions and Assassin Bug issues and Concerns while EU stabbers did a whooping 44 posts, some of which were very detailed. This got kind of stagnant because no one wants to go deep into “old” 1.4 content and we still haven’t seen any bits of 1.5 class revamp to sink teeth into. Looks like this will go on for some time.

In other news I am preparing detailed draft of “1.5 Lotus tree changes suggestions” for submission it will take a while, but I am planning on going over every single lotus feat.

Keep your eyes on my twit feed I am posting some tidbits of info there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Broke down on twit?

After much indecisiveness I have went and created my twitter account to follow all of FC staff members and also to post meaningless shit that is part of everyday Age of Conan. I find the whole twitter gig rather interesting, gonna try and see how this thing develops.

Assassin advocates

It is official now:
Assassin advocates are:
  • ChillWhisper (Assassin) US
  • FURYBlakhart (Assassin) US
FURY already announced that Sin Community threads are in the works.

The wait is killing me

Seems like FC is retaining informations (wait, did I use that word correctly?) regarding 1.5 and is about to EXPLODE INTO VORTEX OF GOOD NEWS.
The unofficial news is that FURYBlakhart and ChillWhisper from US assassin boards were appointed advocates for assassins and they do have access to some news 1.5 info that they can't release yet. EU assassin community and myself gives congratulations to those gentelmen as there was quite a competiton for those positions.

Now all that is left is the wait for some juicy 1.5 news.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Obssesing with 1.5 news so you don't have to

First of all the next letter from the director is right around corner - we will get it at the end of the march (when mr.S gets back from the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco) and it will also be as detailed as the last one with the stat explanation. Next big thing are the "articles" that will feature diffrent aspects of 1.5 update and they will be released during Silirrion's trip to the convention (meaning: around monday perhaps?) and surprisingly there are a lot of those articles written. Since 1.5 patch notes are already put together we can expect the press interviews to FINALY give some new and solid informations.
As for patching testlive server with 1.5 stuff it is not "several weeks away" ,but "soon" and we will get more 1.04.x fixes on testlive and live before 1.5.
In other news the 1.5 might even bring Cimmerian border pvp resources revamp as there is clearly as issue with their respawn rate.
Lots of news coming.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Put on ur waiting hat for 1.5

Silirrion in reply to 1.5 question twitted that the 1.5 patch "given the ammount of changes" will most likely NOT take shorter than normal. What is normal by FC standarts? Well it's in a realm of 3 or 4 months and thats from when 1.5 hits testlive. Right now we are on Update 1.04.5 with more DX10 bugfixes so that means atleast 1 more week before 1.5 can we applied (1.04.5 gotta hit live next thusday). That is a lot of time. Since the death of Cimmerian border I was kinda hoping for speedy 1.5 - with 2 months of wait. Hey, perhaps the uber class advocates will do such a damn good job that we will see that 1.5 soon enough (no, 4 months will not cut it).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The most handsome man in Funcom speaks

After months and months of disapearing into the
Pictish WildernessErling Ellingsen came out and talked to gamesource about peeveepee:

"We have some great plans for future player vs. player content, but I don’t want to reveal it already! But I can say that we are looking at adding more levels for PvP players, more rewards (even some very special rewards), more rewards to mini-games and improving on the systems that are there. We also have a very exciting system coming up for guilds, but I’m not going to show that card just yet!"

see the source.

PvP special rewards? Minigame boost? Not too shabby, eh?

Monday, March 16, 2009

1.5 for test live right around the corner?

All signs points to YES. Silirrion aka AOC Director just came back from Korea where he was showing "the new build" (read: 1.5). The advocate program is getting pushed further and further because they don't want to apoint any if there is no 1.5 to test (seems like advocates are being apointed almost soley to gather 1.5 class feedback, NOT the current build feedback). Also after many patches the 1.4 is stable and doesn't really need more fixes. Yes, all signs are pointing to the this or perhaps next week as for 1.5 testlive premiere. My big prophecy - friday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yellow Gremlin brings WOW to AOC

The good people at yellow gremlin (best database for AOC) came up with Age of Conan profiler - wow armory style:

"We just launched the beta of our profile screenshot system! Some of the core features are:
  • Both normal and high-res image sizes! (Just click the profile image for high-res)
  • Ability to see screenshots for just about 250,000 profiles!
  • On demand screenshot creation that will update when your gear does.
  • Screenshots automatically queue up to be created just by visiting your profile page.
  • You can see screenshots for every level of your character."
see the source.

Can't say I wish it was FC doin' that, but can't complain either - the community must be strong and develop it's own tools. If you are unlike me (lvl3 pvp gear + rags like imp skin robe that goes on trader for 10s) and you have few EPICX0rz items to show off get a profile on yellow gremlin.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I have totaly spoiled myself - CONAN CHRONICLES VOL.1

I went out and bought two FAT books CONAN CHRONICLES VOL.1 and 2 - straight, unedited dope from REH himself. I will be chewing on those for a quite a while :D Accualy I am re-reading those books because I do already own translations of all those stories. REH's english writting is really something to enjoy. The stories are unedited and the one that were not finished by the master himself are presented in a form of short summary from his notes (Carter and Camp builded some of Conan stories on those notes).
I highly recomend to get those 2 books to have all the Conan stories you will ever need to read.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

[Guide] Cat's paw

Cat's paw is a skill that comes from 5/5 feat - it gives 40% evade for 10s.

Cat's paw stacking
CP evade buff stacks with stats/other buffs. That means that hybrid assassins can get instant 50% evade because they already have 10% evade from prediction feat. If you dubble tap backwards you will get another evade buff that will stack with your CP.

Cat's pawn and casters

CP will help you to evade only melee/ranged damage and will in general be useless against casters. Single exception to that rule is a necromancer - CP might help you to evade his pets's melee.

Cat's paw and rangers
CP will help help you in two scenarios when fighting rangers

1/ closing to melee range - CP evade might keep you safe when your are trying to get close to ranger, but at the same time you are wide open to several ranged attacks.

2/ being rooted/snared - if you can't break the root CP and active blocking will help you to survive the duration.

Cat's paw and melee
CP is obviously used to evade most deadly melee combos. Remember to apply CP before the combo starts because once it hits there is no way to evade it (the only solution is to break the combo by fear or knockback).

Cat's paw and charge
CP helps to negate other players charging and stuning you. It is very common for assassins to open their fights with From the darkess - CP backed up with EB will save you from FTD+Snap Kick combo.

Most common usage:
1/ when escaping - to prevent stagger or other snare being applied
2/ in mass pvp - to prevent aoe melee damage coming from several sources at once
3/ in mass pvp - to kill chosen target without being cc'ed by others
4/ in 1vs1 duels - to get some healing time

Buff stacking by Hybrid
This is called "god mode" by some because of assassin's power in a limited timeframe of 10sŁ

Immunity to fear/charm/stun (avatar of death)
Immunity to knockback (Exellent balance)
50% evade (cat's paw + prediction)
10% melee resistance (unholy armor)

Go 5/5 with Cat's paw
CP is worth every feat point and there is no valid build that doesn't include this great skill. In order to take full advantage of CP's buff go for full 5/5 because even cutting one point from it will nerf CP to the point that it is highly questionable if you want to have it at all.

Opener, not saver
CP is NOT a second chance skill - apply it early on to take advantage of it's buff rather than counting on 40% evade to bail your ass out of sticky sitation when you are low on HP. Even 50% evade still gives coin toss chance that opponent's combo will ignore your evades.

Monday, March 9, 2009

But I need my EPIX0rzs!

Some of us said that epix items droprate got nerfed and thats why there are none around, others said that epix0r0r0rz are still around, but server population is too low so there are not enough people to farm mobs for them. Oh how we were wrong: epic world drops are currently removed since "Poitain demons" incident. Read the story here.
For those of you who are too young to remember the Potain demons I explain: before scumy Nemedians laid siege to Poitain, there were demons occuping Poitain (they looked like Demo's Pet). Those demons got bugged and were droping eXPPIRr0r00r0rz0z0z0Z at crazy rate (around 40%). People got all kind of epic items and you could get them on trader as low as 3g for Scorpion's pray and 5g for Widow's pain. I got me two of each ;p.
For some reason FC did not confirm this unwelcomed change until today. So don't farm mobs hoping to see that purple dreams of yours because they are simply not in game anymore. Also I am sorry for my spelling of word "epic", but I can't help myself.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

1.5 feat and skill changes

In part II of RPG VAULT's interview with Craig Morrison, the big man said that:

"The changes will affect all classes one way or another. There are even new spells and abilities for certain ones, as well as feats and abilities that have been added or amended. We will release more information on the specifics as the version is deployed to the public test server."

What's in 1.5 for assassins? My bet is we will get another combo, or at least Lethargy will get fixed so it can be used for other things than...oh wow, what can you use it for? Probably there will be major changes to Lotus tree, we all know it needs a little lovin' from FC.
Item changes are good, but skill/feat changes are even more welcomed. Can't wait.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Know, o Prince that Conan stories do pwn..

You will never ever appreciate Age of Conan for what it is if you haven't read the Robert E.Howard's Conan books. The word "books" is really misleading, they are more of a stories. Since copyright on most of them have already expired, you can read them FOR FREE online.

I highly advise you to read them in correct order to see how Conan developed as a character - Howard have written them in nonchronological order so his first story was.... about King Conan at age of 40. Here is chronological list of Conan's adventure from age of 19-teen:

"The Frost Giant's Daughter"
"The God in the Bowl
"The Tower of the Elephant"
"The Hall of the Dead"
"Rogues in the House" (assassins - DO read this story :D )
"The Hand of Nergal"
"Shadows in the Moonlight"
"Black Colossus"
"Queen of the Black Coast"
"The Snout in the Dark"
"The Slithering Shadow"
"A Witch Shall Be Born"
"The Devil in Iron"
"The People of the Black Circle"
"Shadows in Zamboula"
"Drums of Tombalku"
"The Vale of Lost Women"
"The Pool of the Black One" (read this story and then go back to Tortage to HER)
"Beyond the Black River"
"The Black Stranger"
"Red Nails"
"The Teeth of Gwahlur"
"Wolves Beyond the Border"
"The Phoenix on the Sword"
"The Scarlet Citadel"
The Hour of the Dragon (a must for Age of Conan fans, AOC takes place after this book)

here are the links for some of the stories:
You can pick Conan books for DIRT CHEAP on aucion sites like ebay (I bought every single on of them) or spoil yourself and go for 3 fat books from

Little tip: do NOT read any other Conan books than Robert E.Howard's ones: other authors don't know shit about shit about shit when it comes to Conan - waste of time and money.

If you want to "JUMP INTO" Conan and read great story - read RED NAILS.
Let me know in the comments if you liked it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

[Guide] Corrupting Strikes

If SS could be called "the bread" of assassin, corrupting strikes is without a doubt "the butter" for that pve/pvp bread.

For the cost of one soul shard you will get 10 seconds of +20% offhand chance with mere 20 second cooldown.

Corrupting strikes vs Vile Corruption
In order to progress down the corruption tree you need to pick: corrupting strikes or Vile corruption. +15% to slow death strikes is nothing to laugh at, BUT +20% offhand affects your every combo and hit so in terms of "global dps" you are getting suprerior buff compared to just an SDS upgrade.

Corrupting strikes and Dread Weapons (corruption/general)
If you don't pick CS you shouldn't even look at Dread Weapons. Since Dread Weapons proc of offhand, those two feats are "dream synergy" and an conscious design by FC developers.

Corruptiong strikes and Deft Blades (hybrid)
Here is where the source of hybrid power really is: it is not tons of heals and dmg buffs, it it infact offhand stacking that gives 20% + 10% = whooping 30% offhand. Let's compare it to the "offhand build" aka Lotus: we have +10% offhand from deft blades, +15% offhand from flurry of blows (goes off randomly) and +15% from assassination (proces off on targets low HP). So at peak of performance, if everything proces off, Lotus gets 45% offhand whole Hybrid can get 30% offhand without any effort and basicly any time you want it. Deft blades and CS are another "dream synergy" that wasn't really foreseen by the Devs and it might get changed in the future by moving Deft Blades a little further down the Lotus tree (it would require TONS of tests so not to screw the Lotus assassin's early leveling experience). Deft blades and corrupting strikes are MUST for hybrid assassins and a perfect marriage between lotus and corruptin trees.

Corrupting strikes and combos
Offhand from CS affects both white hits and combos (see more on offhand)so if you drop it for combo steps you will get more damage from it. Using CS right before the last combo step is also a good move. The only thing you should NOT do is droping CS right in the middle of combo animation: the combo will get "cooked" and as a result you will go into your casting animation while the combo bar will progress for SS's duration.

Offhand and brutality

Corrupting strikes give offhand chance and offhand can almost dubble your damage output. In order to proc fatality you need damage that will overkill your opponent (more on brutality). Corrupting strikes might give your brutality/normal fatality that extra dmage edge for that sweet fatality procc.

Keep it handy

Since you will be using CS every fight (at least you should) use easly accesibile key that you can press fast and without any effort.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Assassin culture armor customization

Ilaliya, the tradeskill FC dev gave out a little info on upcoming gem changes:

"On the Helm/Chest/Legs of crafted culture armor, the two gems together will account for 22% of the total item's power. On the other three pieces the single gem will account for 16% of the item's total power. We felt that was the right amount of "customization" room for these sets".

The culture armors (our's is named Bossonian, looks good, goes for +20g per pice on trader) have gems slots and new gem changes will allow to tailor the stats for each of assassin's build.

So the lotus/general build can focus on offhand gems as boost to their main strenght, while corruption/hybrid could go for life tap (boost to life leech) and evasive games (boost to already great +10% evade from Prediction feat). Since I don't raid I am looking foward to those gem changes, but I doubt gemmed armour could outperform PVP set.

Here is a dirty little rumor (totaly unconfirmed, pulled it out of ass aka forums): one of other border kingdoms in the future will hold pvp resources for....pvp gear about that? EEEH? Sounds sweet to me, but don't quote me on that ;p

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By Crom! It's getting fixed!

Since the dawn of Hyborian age (aka Age of Conan launch) the game had two things that have really been pushing my buttons (and not in a good way) for last 7 months: respecc costs and having to click billion times to buy enough of stam/health pots.
I am now 17g per respecc and needless to say I have lost FORTUNE to respeccing (let's not get in to why exacly I respecced so many times), BUT I might have been beaten by "some guy" who is whooping 30g per repspecc now. Wow, just wow! Welcome to the world of suck mate :/ Haven, the QA tester confirmed both respecc costs changes and buying pots in stacks feature. Whats not to like?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Upcoming 1.5 assassin changes

Craig Morrison aka Silirrion aka Mr. Head-Developer aka TEH BIG CHEESE confirmed that 1.5 patch changes will revolve heavly on new RPG system (re-itemization, stats changes on items), huge class changes and Tarantia Commons outdoor instance. I can only say "fuck yeah!" to the 1.5 content. In todays interview for Craig confirmed that "1.5 have been in development for few months" so since they are not going from scratch FC might hit as with 1.5 bomb sooner than we expected (less than 2 months perhaps?).