Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bombay assassin - wrong impression

Returning assassins might be getting a wrong impression about the state of things in Age of Conan

Issues with Lotus - before we go 1.6

Here are some of issues that I have documented:

1/ Slow death strikes - this combo should be a worthy alternative to Swift Strikes (we are SOOOO bored with using nothing than SS for a year now)and in order to do so it must go beyond 200 dmg per tick. When SDS and SS are used together it should create a burst damage which will pay for the effort involved (applaing two 3step combos and GC).

Solution: push Vile posion and Vile corruption upgrade further to 25% boost from recent 20%

Note: In order to benefit from strong SDS we must land grim corruption and we have shortest reach in game with cloth armor. The risk of getting close to other melee with longer or MUCH LONGER reach and always superior armor must be rewarded.

2/ Flesh necrosis - why this feat was not scaled is beyond me. This feat is super hard to execute: flesh rot hard to stack, flesh rot expiring fast, landing all combo steps to refresh the flesh rot we already have, buffing with Lotus overdose, debuffing with GC and the FINALLY using flesh necrosis IF your opponent is still near and you are not stunned/feared which will make your stack go away.

Solution: make the damage scale up to new health pools (with 3k HP pool, 900 dmg in nice, but with 10.000 hp?), or make flesh rot benefit from Swift ending in some way (the more damage the flesh rot does the more damage will come from necrosis), or just make it on 10s cooldown so its "spamable".

Note: Corruption's feat called death whirlwind basicly does the same thing, but is much much easier to use and does superior damage even unbuffed.

3/ Lethargy - this is beating a dead horse. Just look at this! Who with a sane mind would use this for anything? I kill chickens with it in Commons and thats it.

delete combo and try again

Note: seriously

4/ Opportunistic strike - there is no reason why this feat should be on one minute cooldown. It gets better with other buffs running, but the CD doesn't justify the benefits of it.

Solution: lower the cooldown to 20s. Corruption has Lunge on 20s and I will trade OS for Lunge any day of the week.

Note: in order to use OS you need to land your opener which is already hard as nails with shortest reach in game.

Bug: OS doesn't crit on openers that come from feated in combos (mainly: antrophy, sabotage, blindside, whirlwind, snapkick) so that leaves you with SS and SDS and GC...again there is no reason why it should work this way. The feat description says: "next blow that initiates a combo" - it sure blows, but when you initiate combo that is not SS,SDS or GC.

Corruption tree also needs a lot of work, but I am not the guy to go over it's issues.

On the horizon: 1.6 just after1.05.5?

You already know the GD letter for this month so lets go into other dirty details:

Veteran Points
About damn time I can get something back for my undieing loyality.
How the system will work is not exacly clear at this point - few options are considered. Aslo every payment counts as "active subscription" so that is good news for gamecards users.

GD says that we will have atleast two more 1.05.x "hotfix" balance patches. As I type this 1.05.4 is on test live with MASSIVE changes to BS and Barb (total revamp).We can only HOPE that last patch before 1.6 - the 1.05.5 will bring assassin revamp, otherwise we are WELL and TRUELY FUCKED.

1.6 implementation
GD consideres delivering1.6 in batches of patches instead of one HUGE ASS patch that takes forever to roll out. That is a welcomed change in policy.

What will not make it into 1.6
Custom guild insignias / cloaks or banners or guild alliance system is not coming in this update.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

[Guide] Second wind

Second wind - some deem it useless crap, while others praise it. When used this will rapidly replenish your stamina pool and... that's it - it goes on 10m cooldown.

How can you use that? Let find out.

Bigest bang for the buck
Lets say you are investing feat points in the general tree up to agile mind. First quick recovery 5/5 to open up your tree, then toughness 5/5 for more armor, excellent balance (no brainer here) and 3/3 into amazing escape artist. What do you see? Yes, you are one point short if you want to get 3/3 into agile. But what to get? One point into natural protection for +44 protection? Don't think so. Perhaps 1% evade from acrobat? Crap.How do you feel about 3,5% weapon damage that lethality gives? Yeah, not so much into that... How about feat that will bail your ass out of sticky situations? Hmmmm...
I think that second wind is indeed best option when it comes to opening other feats in general tree. Just for that - 1 feat point spent on second wind is justified in my eyes

Running out of stamina
This is abovious use. There will be many times when you will be out of stamina in a very middle of a fight. If you can't do combos then there isn't really much you can do to your opponent. Second wind will get you back into the fray on not ime.

Fight or run
If you use stamina pot, second wind and Lotus overdose you will outrun every single other class in the game. Massive stamina regeneration that comes from both of those feats will regen your whole bar...couple of times. If you use both of those feats at the same time you won't be able to even run out stamina until their duration is over. I suggest using second wind first and then Lotus overdose (otherwise you will waste too much stamina). I can't count the times this allowed me to catch up with caster or ranger that was running away or to run from a losing fight.

To sum it up: I find it worth 1 point when I feat in agile mind. I do recomend it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Escape artist + brutality or Lethality for PVE on PVP Server?

12AX7 wrote:

Hi Slith, what do you think about dumping 5-lethality for 3-Escape Artist and 2-Brutality for levelling in a pvp server(Lotus/general)?

PvE side I will find difficult the solo instances with Lotus/General as you wrote in a preceeding post or this is changed after 1.5.3?

Thanks and keep up the good work... best assassin blog I've seen!

Hey 12AX7 (if that is your real name ;p)

Thank you for picking my assassing blog as your source of news - it is hard to compete with all those other assassin blogs, but I try to stay competitive.

As for your question: tough call,

Lethality, even if it is not best choice for assassins, will benefit you in EVERY encounter which will translate into more damage done and that translates into more xp per hour

Brutality will bail your ass out of sticky situations when confronted by several mobs - procing fatality will do AOE damage and give temporary immunity while still being healed with GLE, pots. Read more on brutality here.

You should not get into sticky situations in a first place so my conclusion would be taking lethality, playing smart and not dieing. Brutality also has nasty cooldown and 2/3 doesnt provide as big of a benefit as 3/3.

As for escape artist... I guess it is essential for minigames and such, moreso if you are on pvp server and getting jumped at a lot while leveling.

My conclusion:

If you are going to power level to 80 then take lethality - ignore pvp and grind your xp. You will be getting huge xp from Villas (my personal recomendation, I got my lvl80 in there) and only one boss can root you there...once (Nemedian quest line).

If you are going to mix pve and pvp on your road to 80lvl then escape artist + 2/3 brutality will benefit you in both pvp and pve. Not having escape artist in minigames will make your experience horrible.

As for solo instances - Lotus/general is now a valid specc for solo instances. It is as good as corruption/general if not better. Read up more on that here.

"Readers questions" will now be part of this blog. I will *try*(TM) to anwser interesting questions found in comments, but please DO NOT abuse this and spam questions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Assassin - welcome back guide

Here is a short guide/information that I have put together so people have easier time adjusting to 1.5 reality. This is in no way a detailed guide, for details go to past patch notes

Combo mechanics
You have to "land" every combo "step" in order to deal 100% damage. If you miss one combo step you will see one of combo's "arrow" light up red. Missing a combo step will apply penality of -5% damage.
Game mechanics
Dubble tapping and using active block no longer gives buff
Dubble tapping backwards puts evade buff on cooldown

Combo steps
Combos got their steps reduced.

Combo changes
- Lots of cooldown changes
- Grim corruption and Slow Death Strikes combo tiers now share cooldowns (example: using GCIII will put also put cooldown on GCII)

Grim corruption
a) it applies snare
b) it applies debuff. Debuff type is dependant on stance in which GC is applied.

Feat changes

Lotus tree
a) Flesh necrosis - adding points will also add damage to corrupted backlash, it is instant now, can be used while moving (upgraded)
b) Blindside - it now deals more damage and drains more stamina from your target (upgraded)
c) Lotus weapon - it now always proc, does more damage (upgraded)
d) Swift ending - it now proc sooner (uprgraded)
e) Lotus overdose - it no longer applies any penality (upgraded)
f) Furry of blows - longer duration (uprgaded)
g) Assassination - bigger bonus (uprgaded)
h) Corrupted body - it adds protection bonus on damage (reworked)
i) Curse of Lotus - limited to 12 targets, no casting time, instant (upgraded)

Corruption tree
a) Unholy Strenght - it adds 5% damage intead of 10% (nerfed)
b) Life leech - it heals more (upgraded)
c) Unholy armor - gives 50% bonus to your armor (changed, nerfed)
d) Death's gaze - it is instant now (upgraded)
e) Avatar of death - duration is 15s now from 20s (nerfed)
f) Seeds of corruption - it applies debuff for HP regeneration, if GC is used the seeds will "explode" and deal instant damage (reworked)
g) Lunge - it now adds 70% weapon damage, 20s cooldown (reworked)
h) Burden to bear - applies armor debuff, more points give higher chance to proc (changed)
i) From the darkness - it stuns, captures soul shard (changed)

General tree
a) Quick recovery - adds stamina regeneration (reworked)
b) Excellent balance - needs only 1 point, 1 m cooldown (changed)
c) Lethality - adds weapon damage, poor choice for assassins (new)
d) Agile mind - it is now clickable, each point added reduces its cooldown from 9 to 3 (reworked)
e) Ambush - it no longer gives damage boost (nerfed)

Combos usefull in PVP and PVE
Swift Strikes are still our bread and butter,
Slow Death Strikes deal a lot of damage,
Grim Corruption mainly debuffs target

How to use combos in typical PVP/PVE encounter
1) Apply debuff (Grim corruption)
2) Apply slow death strikes
3) Use swift strikes

PVE Leveling speccs

There haven't been any great changes to assassins. It safe to say that your experience and "feel" of this class will remain mostly unaffected in 1.5.

Found an error? Let me know.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Leper colony

This place has a very unique vibe. Basicly it is a place where people sick from leprosy get thrown to die horrible, painful and slow death.
You can't attack lepers and they will try to follow you around - stay a while and the whole colony will come to stare at you. How freaky is that? The models are well done and really give you the feeling that this place is rotten to the core.
You can even get sick here! Check the screen.
Also FC made a great move of making this place a spawning point for murderers.
I strongly suggest visiting this place at night.
Check the video:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Attilus's mansion - new solo 80lvl instance

This solo instance came with 1.5 and it is very similiar to Villas, but you can also do it with group in epic mode.

- The design - It is small instance, but with a nice touch. Nothing really to brag about.

- Drops - You can get some funky gemcutter recepies from this instance. Check the story here and here.

- Random bosses - whats not to like?

Check this short video:

Sugar dipped in honey

New blanace patch that is on Test Live right now is the sweetest thing FC have ever done for assassins.
I have nearly cryied with joy when my slow death strikes are now not only strikes, but also slow and death at the same time. How cool is that?

Check the notes here.

Let's go over the "good stuff"

Slow Death Strikes
It now has shared cooldown across all tiers of this combo. Why? Because its freaking awesome now! SS is mearly a suplement to this beast that you use when SDS is working it's magic in the background.
Also SDS has a mere 10s cooldown now. There is not much to write about this just let me tell ya that SDS will be a source of many whines, and for a change - not from assassins.

Lotus weapon. Yes baby, its there for you. You will see it in everyfight and it has a great potential. People will acually DIE from DOTs alone now. Can you imagine? I had fights when me and my opponent were at 2% of HP and I died and he lived through ever-expiring dots. Not anymore.

Curse of Lotus
It is instant now. No casting time, no animation just poof and shit is runing around you like headless chickens.
It felt really akward when I used it for first couple of times: I press button and wait for animation (as I did for last year), but the mob was already feared. Great!

The damage is up (both from offhand and dots), mobs die VERY FAST, SDS is devastating and you survivality is unparalled. Also you proc fatality now, a lot. Finaly Lotus in pve is enjoyable for a change.

Made a little video to show you how fast villa boss goes down:

I am a little afraid of a nerf. Is this supposed to be THAT EASY (and by easy I mean cool)? Or perhaps I am getting this feeling because playing lotus in pve was SO FUCKING HARD in 1.5 and now we are back to normal -this how the experience SHOULD be from DAY ONE.

Can't wait when this goes live, Xmass came early this year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This is how it is done

Somewhere deep under FC headquarters there is door with small label saying "assassin departament". Inside, two men sit in a small, dark room and disscuss matters of utter importance....

"....and what else did he say?
"that we should fix it or GTFO"
"Its fine, tell him we will have assassin class polished before 1.5 is even on test server"
"Its been live for 3 weeks now"
"When did that happen!!?"
"How the hell should I know? Perhaps we should google other things than our own names"
"Ok screw it, lets do some brainstorming.We will stay couple minutes after work if we have to, god damn it! I will not quit on this class and my third job in 2 months!"
"Here is what we got in terms of feedback and I quote "assassins suck, roll caster, noob"
"That is all the feedback we got?"
"That is what I got in mail"
"Hm.... I say we go back to the begining and review this class inside and out"
"Good idea. I have this nice class description from back in the beta days"
"Great, man we are so professional and shit. Read it"
"Assassins are the most lethal killers in Hyboria"
"They should be happy they didn't get nerfed, read some more"
"Those aspiring to the top of this profession face the most deadly regime of training"
How is pre 80lvl pve?"
"Crappy, most quit on lvl50"
"It's called deadly training - in it to win it and no limit is my home. That is what assassins stand for. If you can't cut it to lvl80 you should reroll caster"
"Fair enough. There is more: Those aspiring to the top of this profession face the most deadly regime of training, discipline"
I am not sure how we stand on discipline.."
"Well people whine that they have to force themself to log on their assassins"
"They are lacking the discipline, obviously"
"Man, you know this shit, no wonder they made you head-dev-sin guy"
"Shut up and read, I am raiding with my Pally tonight and want to catch some preraid battlegrounds"
"..but the ones that survive are executioners supreme"
How is 80lvl assassin population?"
"Poor at best"
"Ok so we have the survivors part nailed down. About executioners supreme..I guess we COULD fix some feats and..."
The phone rang
"Guys, we have just found out that casters are overbalanced, which means they are balanced as hell. We are currently balacing them down. I know I am asking for a lot, but you have to cancel yours departament balance patch"
"You owe me lunch, buddy"
"Thanks man"

and that is how it is done.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Corruption/general in pvp and pve

I know what are you thinking: "oh god, he is going to praise corruption now, please don't...". Ok, I won't, but I will share few bit of my experiences. So I went with corruption for quite a few minigames and it turns out as "decent". Here is the specc that I have used (I refuse to use up-to-date feat builder just to be an ass). Luckly the games that I have ran were fairly balanced and diverse in classes so I got my chances to try out things (olso did some random gank-jumps in Commons).

Armor and damage mitigation
With unholy armor giving only 50% boost the trade off for Lotus's outstanding magic resistance is not worth it. Yes, I can take more punch, but not THAT much to make up for loss of magic resistance. Nothing really to brag about, it is just there and it help, slightly.

Fun factor
I am not a fan of "unholy" feeling that this specc gives (how can this fit assassin at all?), BUT this build has a lot of CLICKEZ: corrupted strikes, soul strike, lunge all on 20s cooldown. This means that every fight you have something to fireoff and enjoy. I like that. Lotus runs out of things to click pretty darn fast.

Stamina issues
O-M-G, I was runing out of stamina ALL THE TIME. Forget about chasing down enemy, runing away and all that garbage - the pool will go down the toilet faster that unwanted pregnacy on a prom night. With Lotus's blindside its easy to forget that stamina is everything. I kept chasing after caster and after few second he stoped runing and turned to me while I was fesh out of stamina. What now sin-boyo? Consume souls that converts shards into stamina has absurd cooldown, it should be much shorter so you can make some use of it.

Magic resistance
Basicly you take everything up the ass when confronted by a caster. It goes through you like a knife through butter. Like I said: your damage mitigation from unholy armor doesn NOT make up for the shit you have to deal with.

The death's gaze is a fair exchange for a snap kick. You still need shard, but no need to aim. From the darkness lost it's magic, I got frozen during the animation tons of times.

Corruption has the burst, I will give it that. Even thou Lotus wins with all buffs up, Corruption can do it more often, more easly and in a more reliable way (If you get CCed as Lotus in a buff's peak, you lose a lot of that damage).

Corruption is better. Plain and simple - you survive longer, heal better and bring shit down easier. In solo instances Lotus has to fight over every inch, Corruption sails smoothly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Age of caster? RLY?

I was reading yet another boring 1.5 interview (I have stoped reading them a while ago, tired of same shit repeated over and over) and I was expecting this kind of interview:

The MMO Gamer: Tell us how great 1.5 is.

Craig Morrison: its great.

The MMO Gamer: thanks for interview.

How, oh how I was pleasently suprised when MMO Gamer went this question:

The MMO Gamer: As a bookend to that last question: How do you respond to the derogatory “Age of Casters” label being applied to the patch on the boards and in global chat?
I was like: no fucking way you guys have asked that question. I mean "Age of Casters" thrown at Game Director...priceless.

Here is rather lenghty anwser:

Craig Morrison: See, that why I said, ‘outside of the balance adjustments…’ above, as that is of course where our attention has to turn now. As we have already addressed on our forums, that is definitely one of the areas that we will be looking at in the post-update tweaks and adjustments mentioned above.

There are two factors here, the first in more of a general distinction between spell using classes and melee classes in our game. The spell using classes in Age of Conan are inherently easier to play, or rather more forgiving to play that leads to the opinion of them being easier to play, and they are certainly easier to master. That element won’t really change. Those classes are a deal more forgiving and easier to really master. That said I think that I think on the other hand a really well played melee character is a far more challenging foe and adversary at the hands of a skilled and experienced PVP player.

All that said, and to get down to the bare bones of it, No, the balance there isn’t quite right out of the gate as it were in respect with 1.05 and that is an area the subsequent balance adjustments will focus on. As I mentioned above we always knew there would be issues like that this that would come out of the changes as players adapted to the new power scales and abilities. It is something we were prepared to react to and already are preparing the follow-up update to address some of these issues.

Yep, Mr.M had some explaining to do.

BALLS, I say BALLS TO THE WALLS for MMO Gamer for asking such question. Read up on this here.