Sunday, December 5, 2010

Janosik = Conan

This post has been on my mind for a while now. I live very close to the Tatry Mountains in Poland and I often visit those for summer hiking or skiing there in the winter.
During the winter time or when its raining those mountains resemble Cimmeria in every way:

It was a gloomy land that seemed to hold
All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun,
With bare boughs rattling in the lonesome winds,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
Not even lightened by the rare dim sun
(Cimmeria poem, REH)

In those mountains lived Jerzy Janosik (or Juro, Jurko). He was a chief of a band of robbers (not so merry ones). According to the legend Janosik was stealing from the rich and giving to the poor (just like Robin Hood, minus the bow) and generally protecting people from oppresion from the local establishment.

In reality he lived between 1668 and 1717 and probably wasn't even half as noble as the legend says.
During the 70' Polish television was producing and airng popular TV series with Janosik. Janosik was played by outstanding Marek Perepeczko - just look at that guy! He could have easily played Conan himself.

Keep in mind that the series were made in 1970 in communist Poland and that at that time bodybuilding was a niche sport even in America. Still he looked very impressive.
Janosik reminds me very much of Conan during his time in Ghulistan where he was a chieftain of Afghulis.
In TV series Janosik kidnapped the Duke's niece with the intention of ransoming her and saved his friends from execution. Conan did the very same thing: he kidnapped Yasmina the Devi so governor of Peshkhauri, Chunder Shan could not hang some of the captured Afghulis.
Also in that story "People Of The Black Circle" Conan was wearing a magical belt given to him by Khemsa. Janosik was also wearing a magical belt given to him by Maryna the witch.
Furthermore Janosik just like Conan was a tall, strongly build mountain man and a very able fighter. Now days he is often portrayed with a head full of long, black hairs. People living in the Podhale region of Poland (next to Tatry Montains) are called "Górale" and in the polish translation of Conan that world was used to describe mountain men of Cimmeria.
 I don't have to mention that both Janosik and Conan shared their lust for women and booze.
You can even buy a pretty good beer called "Harnaś" advertised with with an animated TV ads that are featuring Janosik-like character. The ad doesn't really say that the character is Janosik, but its very much implied.

I am going to leave you now with some Góralska music from Podhale region.
Mind you that it's dreadful to listen to while sober. However its my beer music of choice.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Night of the lost souls II: the return of the souls that got lost (during the night)

There is always a person in a movie theater that will say something funny during the movie preview/teasers. Like that time when while screening the highlander II preview one of the characters in the movie said “there can be only one” and that guy shouted “there should have been only one”. Exactly my feelings about the night of the lost souls. It was kinda fun the first time, the other time – eh, not so much.
Honestly I have forced myself to go through this content just to review it later which I don’t really want to do (hence this crappy review).

Its pretty much same stuff as last year: all quest point to the forest in Cimmeria and then to the special versions of Villas in Noble (nooble :D:D) District. You get same “fluff” items like blood to smear all over your character. I twittered that those items are for lol and then trashing and I stand by that.

If this was your first night of the lost souls then you might have enjoyed it like I did last year. I doubt that I will re-do it the third time around (most like it I will because I am a sucker for events)

There is however one change that I must praise: in one of the villas I had green recipe drop and blue recipe drop for guild city decorations. I don’t know how rare those items are, but since it was a drop I assume that it didn’t happen for everyone (at least the blue drop).

More like that please!

What would be the main problem with night of the lost souls event? I think I have covered that in previous posts about events in general, but in a nut shell:

The story is cheesy. Well its all about the Halloween vibe which is not very serious, but sometimes the great story can make up for obvious lack of content. Example? Pre ROGS event. Shitty content, JAW DROPING story.

The rewards are cheesy. Again the social head gear (nasty skull cap) is of superior quality. The problem is that not only everyone got it, but you can even buy it off trader. There goes any uniqueness to the items :[
The other stuff like brain juice and bandages *roll eyes* even if I wanted to put that into my bank I can’t, because its already full. I kept the skull for my social head wear collection (I might wear it with pvp armor once social tab hits AOC), but the rest got trashed. Seems like a waste.

On the bright side we have new seasonal event coming up. Its going to be winter themed and will revolve around Aesirs. Game Director wrote in this month’s community letter that there will be some changes to this event based on the previous feedback. I am curious and full of hope at the same time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

[Guide] Grinding MoAs in Khitai

I am not going to get into whether the grind is good or not (it’s not). If you have already decided that you want to get into Khitai content then this is a guide for you. I will take you step by step into getting 60 MoAs in 50m, every time, without fail.

I have heard that with some faction combination you can do 100 MoAs per hour. I don’t know about that. My guide focuses on doing quests for all factions so you will be progressing with all of them.

To get the best MoA per h you will need to be fairly advanced with each of the factions to get the best MoA worth out of the quest. How do you get to rank 3? That’s a whole different story and I won’t get into that in this guide (or at all). Just remember that the hardest part is rank 1 to 2, rank 3 takes some time, but you will start getting better MoA return and rank 3 to 4 is surprisingly easy since you will be getting 6000 faction points per 1 simple and fast quest.

The following are my factions choices and my reasoning behind picking them. You might get other factions, but then this guide won’t do you a lot of good.
I won’t be giving out the names of the quests, but I am sure you will figure them out from the descriptions.

What you will need:

1/ Last Legion (rank 3) (for cloak)
2/ Brittle Blade (rank 3) (for armor, pet, ring)
3/ Priests of Yun (rank 3) (for pet, ring)
4/ Hyrkanians (rank 2) (for dagger)
5/ Jang Shi (rank 3) (for spell, bag)
6/ Tamarin’s Tigers (rank 1) (for mount, baby!)

Swift Horse
Accelerated Feat
Pots and Food
Patch of Asura bound to village in Grass Lands
Veteran reward patch to Chosain

Why THOSE quests?
Picking the quests I went for:
1/ speed – those quests give best MoA per h
2/ accessibility – its easy to get them and to return them for reward
3/ synergy – sometimes you will be doing a couple of quests at once or very close to each other
4/ difficulty – those quests are easy, there is very small chance of failure. Its best to avoid quests where one mistake will result in death (like Basilisk quest which gives 5 MoAs but you can get popped out of hide by worshipers and die fast which will result in down time).

Lets go:

1/ port to Chosain
2/ exit city and ride to the Paikang

1/ go to the temple of Yun
2/ talk to Kang and get quest for lotus seeds
3/ exit the temple and take main road to the entrance of Paikang
4/ at the entrance take the main road to the village (near rice fields)
5/ talk to Last Legion Commander and get the quest to protect the well
6/ go to the well and wait for an attack
7/ run without fighting till the mobs stop chasing you
8/ come back and approach the fence behind the well. One mob will chase you
9/ Run away and the quest will fail. You have to find Yag kosha Npc with the cure
10/ run to the Yag Kosha NPC through rice fields
11/ take the cure from npc
12/ come back through rice fields
13/ on the rice fields gather 10 lotus seeds
14/ come back to village, add cure to the well and return the quest to the Commander (7 MoAs)
15/ take the main road to the entrance to Paikang
16/ go to the temple of Yun
17/ return the quest to Kang (7 MoAs)
18/ port to Grass Lands via Patch of Asura

Grass Lands
1/ run to the Hyrkanian village
2/ mount up
3/ take snake bites quest, capturing a horse quest and riding and shooting dummies (in that order!!!)
4/ ride and shoot dummies
5/ beat a horse with a whip (use atrophy and cats paw to avoid damage, use the whip and the active blocking until the whip goes off the cool down, CCs won’t work)
6/ run to the craters with demons – you will find plenty of snakes there
7/ attack the snake with one directional attack (no combos!) so all of his shields will go into direction of your attack (this is what you want). Use dull pain to lower the damage.
8/ watch your poison stack – when it goes to 10 then CC the snake and run to the Hyrkanian Village
9/ allow the horse to return to Feng NPC. Turn in snake quest, turn in horse quest, turn in dummies quest. If you turn in snake quest first the horse that has been following you will disappear (6 MoAs)
10/ mount up and ride to the Kara Korum

Kara Korum
1/ Take quests from Yun NPC: collecting souls, throwing corrupted into pyre
2/ Take quest from Brittle Blade NPC: collecting bones
3/ Take quest from the board: collecting dark water (keep taking and deleting the quests until you get this one) (it gives 5 tokens)
4/ Talk to the corrupted in front of the quest board and walk with him into the pyre (do not sprint or the quest will fail)
5/ from the pyre take left and talk to Jang Shi NPC
6/ take quests: collecting skulls and leading jang shi out of the town
7/ run to the jang shi with question mark on the bridge at the entrance to town
8/ lead jang shi outside. Sprint, count to 4 and stop so the NPC can catch up. Repeat.
9/ outside the town, after leading the jang shi through the bridge and finishing the quest, take quest from Last Legion NPC (collecting meat and armor)
10/ mount up
11/ run straight ahead and take the second right
12/ talk to alchemist NPC from Yun and take red rocks quest
13/ collect armor, red rocks and dark water while killing the hounds for meat. All of those can be found in one place. Figure out a patch that will lead you to Kang Zai skeletons. Before you reach them you should have those 3 quests done.
14/  keep killing Kang Zai until you kill 30 of them. This will complete 3 quests at once and give you whooping 19 MoAs
15/ Mount up and rush to the Last Legions camp to take quest involving killing spies. Its easiest quest in game for 5 MoAs. Just kill every NPC in the nearby bushes.
16/ return to the village and turn in your quests.

10 minute bonus time

If you want to score 70 MoAs per 60 minutes then during the chain do these extra quests:

1/ Chosain – 2 quests from Brittle Blade (easy ones, will give 2 x 2 MoAs)
2/ Grass Lands – 1 quest from Hyrkanians: riding around the camp (1 MoA, 1 minute)
3/ Kara Korum – killing the basilisk for Yuns (5 MoAs, do it when you are killing the spies for Last Legion).

I think that it’s very much possible to do more MoAs per hour, but the problem currently lies with the two factions: Last Legion has only 1 repetable quest in Paikang while Brittle Blade has NONE.
So Scarlet Circle and the Shadows of Jade might in fact be a better choice, at least MoAs wise.

Tips and Tricks:
-    use sprinting and accelerated whenever you can
-    dieing during questing is not an option
-    always look for ways to tweak and optimize your route and questing rotation
-    in Kara Korum look for special buried treasure (on my route I have found 5 such spots and I am digging them every time)

Good luck and don’t die from boredom ;p.I am listening to podcasts while doing my 50m route.I recommend my favorites: Stuff you should know (itunes) The Instance (itunes, I don’t play WoW but DAMN that’s professional podcast!!!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

[Guide] Atrophy

This is EASLY my most favorite feat of all. It has always been since day 1. With the 1.6 revamp atrophy became 2/2 feat that gives -30% melee and magic damage debuff. Its instant, fast, it can crit very well, does AOE dmg/debuff and has extremely low CD.
Best of all: it has its uses both in PVP and solo PVE and costs no shards.

Atrophy as an opener
This is the first and most common usage: atrophy is instant, does pretty decent damage and can debuff greatly so double tap forward to gain momentum and unload atrophy on the opponent.

It’s a win/win scenario because:

1.    if you get momentum stun: you have gained valuable seconds to proceed with another nasty trick and as your opponent comes out of the CC he is greatly debuffed. Note that you can upgrade momentum via AA perks so if it procs it will deal extra damage (so basically its an upgrade to Atrophy damage)
2.    if you don’t get the momentum stun: you still have dealt damage and debuffed your opponent. You can follow up with instant CC or take advantage of the remaining 9s of debuff and save CC for later

Atrophy during CC
The first thing your opponent will do after coming out of CC is most likely CC you back. When your enemy is CC there is only so much you can do: you can apply GC+SS or other miasma combination and the CC duration should be about over. However there is still time for that sweet, instant atrophy to drop. Whatever retaliation your opponent will inflict on you after the CC is over with atrophy it will be 30% less severe. For example that cuts 3000 damage from detonation to 2100 saving your ass from suffering 900 more HP loss.
One common mistake is applying atrophy as soon as CC starts which will lead to the loss of valuable debuff time 

Saving team mates
In minigame scenario I often employ atrophy against people who go after healers. 30% debuff usually is enough for healer to recover and out heal the damage while you keep the DPS up. This way you can keep the valuable CC’s for better moment while still making the difference.

AOE and atrophy
Atrophy does cone AOE damage and debuffing. In PVE mobs will stack up and bunch up naturally so you will take full advantage of this. In PVP this is very situational, but the opportunity might rise when two teams clash in the very beginning when they are escorting their flag carriers (on Blood Ravine this will happen a lot).

Atrophy and PVE
In Paikang you will meet quite the number of bosses that you will have to handle solo. Prime examples will be gray apes (Priests of Yun quest) and the dreaded Dark Legion’s Commander. Atrophy makes those a breeze (almost). Also use atrophy as often as you can because the CD is only 45s and taking less damage will result in less down time and smoother progression. Atrophy really shines in Khitai because the mobs generally have more HP than their vanilla AOC counterparts and they are hitting A LOT HARDER. In vanilla AOC atrophy might have been perceived a bit like an overkill (especially since 1.6 assassin’s revamp giving us uber DPS): why debuff a mob if you can KILL it faster? Such is NOT the case with Rise of the Godslayer. I highly recommend this feat especially for those builds that don’t have Avatar feated in – for extra survivability boost.

Atrophy in PVP
Atrophy debuffs both magical and melee damage so its great against all classes. However as you know there are some hybrid classes that employ both magic and melee. Such class in a Hox. Antrophy is almost designed to kill hox.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FC's sub offers: why try harder?

So this will be a hot topic for some time (a lot of quitrage on the forums too): FC's new 12 months sub offer.
Before I will give you pice of my mind (not that you care) here are some stats (because I know that thats the only thing you do care about):

Senior Community Manager

Here's the information about the White Tiger:
  • Same speed as a swift horse
  • Requires eastern riding (which is included in this offer too as a /claim item)
  • 9% Sprinting Stamina Drain
  • -30 Staggering Chance
  • Charge ability
  • + health when mounted

Now the offer:

And the quite chubby tiger itself:

credit goes to dawee
So its a faction mount with a paint job? Thats laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame & lazy. And a little desperate after FC's last, pretty sloppy Q report (time to digg deep).

I bet FC would have gotten more subs sold and made less people angry if they actually WORKED on their offer. You know, like did stuff and stuff.

I don't mind those kushy offers (hell, I bought 12m sub during last offer), but please put some effort into it *sight*. FC is cutting corners and refrying old content as much as they can. The tiger mount was iconic for the ROGS expansion and I can understand people raging that its ruined now. Kinda is? Well why anyone who have put time and effort into getting like rank 3 with Tamaris would go for instant white tiger plushie? Why anyone with tiger (after grinding it for months) would get this white abomination? Who gets to win here?
I guess...people without sub and a tiger mount?
I am crazy enough that I would have bough another 12m sub if the offer was good. But I just cannot reward a company for half-assed effort.

On the plus side it's a good living down the FC's marketing: you boys and gals have A LOT OF STUFF TO PAINT before you will be out of ideas for next 12m subs offers.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dagger and a bowl of rice ep.7: Solo PVE in Khitai

Ah the glorious Khitai, hands down the hardest solo content you will face in Age of Conan.
Contrary to what some people think assassin, if played the right way™, can handle Rise of the Godslayer easily. Personally, at the time of writing this, I have taken Brittle Blade to rank 4, Yun to rank 3 and Last Legion to rank 3 effectively completing all the quests for those factions from Grass Lands to the Paikang – solo all the way.
So how does one get started with the expansion’s content and live to tell the tale? This guide will take you from trader-trash wearing, noobie GC+Soul Strike to the expic set wearing assassin that can pull several +83 mobs  and still stand his ground.
Specc > Gear
I don’t know how vital the specc is to other classes nor do I care. For assassins the specc can make or break you in every aspect. The very foundation of your survival and progression in Khitai lies in Avatar’s healing. Healing and healing alone will let you live through the punishment some mobs will inflict on your. The ability to deal damage is secondary at best: no matter how high your dmg output will be it will never be enough to drop several mobs before they drop you. Where full Lotus build struggles to take on 3 mobs the hybrid can easily dismember 5 or more. True, you can carefully pull mobs and blow all of your cool downs, but the key to progression, and let face it: pleasure of gaming, is ripping the shit out of mobs in a fast and constant manner. This the hybrid can provide.

The specc: Hybrid with Avatar

Of course there are many variations to this build, but nevertheless avatar should and must stay as the cornerstone.
Lets go over the details:

How to deal with pulling 1 mob
As with every pull the CCs are your friend. If you are facing really resistant mob with large HP pull then use the CC chaining.
GC->SDS->Soul Strike (this will apply both stun and explosion)->CC->Swift Strikes

How to deal with pulling 2 mobs
Atrophy is your friend. This will effectively reduce the damage output of 2 mobs into…1.2 mob. It really makes the difference.

How to deal with pulling more than 3-4 mobs or Bosses
This is where the hybrid build really shines and where all other fail miserably. First open with SDS and use lotus dart while activating avatar of death. This mob with the dart will feed you the much needed HP so DO NOT KILL HIM, turn to the next mob and apply GC+Soul Strike. The explosion will deal AOE damage providing much needed spike and HP leech. At the last second of avatar use Death Whirlwind to get the last spike of HP and damage. If there are any mobs left use snap kick and finish them up. There is a good chance that some mobs standing near the ones affected with Soul Strike and Lotus Dart will get splashed with GC or SDS – use Face Stab to take advantage of this and consume those effects for large damage.
With relish in death specced in (+15% fatality chance) there is also a good chance you will fatality at least one mob which can only help you to deal with the rest faster and with less damage taken.
The following procedure allowed me to take down the Dark Legion’s Commander in Paikang, loot his head and still run away to safety. I have to yet face more worthy foe than him.
There is more than meets the eye in that build so check my other guides for more details on some of the feats:
Once you have your build all sorted out you can prepare your gear. Needless to say Khitai faction’s gear works best for Khitai. If you do not have T1/T2 epics then get yourself Assassin’s cultural gear (Bossonian set) along with some pieces from City Crafted Gear.

Contrary to the pvp set up the Khitai requires two things from your gear: a lot of Hit Points and Hit Rating. Without HP you will die fast and without hit rating stats you will miss a lot and as a result: die a lot.
I myself have started my journey through Khitai with cultural gear made for pvp (see the guide above) but I have used collector’s edition rings (epic one and blue one with LOADS of HP and hit rating) and also the necklace reward for killing Grim Gray God. Those have made OCEAN of difference.
You can get pretty decent ring by doing “simple”, but rare quest given by the Emissary of King of Zamora. This quest will spawn at random when you chose to defend the caravan during your journey to Khitai. Just keep taking the road to khitai quest and dieing until you meet the Emissary.
This quest involves killing 500 demons (you can kill those in Grass Lands) which might sound really tedious (and it is!), but its not THAT much  of a grind (like hell its not..) and the ring has nice stats on it.
Upgrade your gear pieces as soon as you can get a replacement from your faction of choice: I went with Brittle Blade.
Do NOT worry about MOAs! As you progress through content the tokens will be more and more easy to acquire. Right now I am getting exactly 55 MOAs in 46 minutes  (solo PVE!) and I have heard its very  much possible to reach 100 MOAS per hour mark. Time will tell.
Funcom did a great job at making perks progress your character horizontally. Trust me: after upgrading a couple of perks you WILL feel more powerful.
My perks are PVP focused, but that didn’t really hinder my progression – there is hardly a need to be switching perks from PVP to PVE mode.
I recommend getting choking powder, liberation (there are very few CCs, but this perk gives great damage) Tainted Weapons and Finely Honed (very few mobs will use shields, but it will come handy both in PVP and Group PVE)
See the guides here:

Once you get to lvl 4 with Brittle Blade and Yun you can start buying REALLY awesome pets that will take your damage and survivability to the next level.

And that is it!  May your blades never dull!


new links to builds:
Hybrid with Atrophy
Hybrid with Grave Blossom

Saturday, October 30, 2010

First batch of 2.1

So the new 2.1 is on TL. It’s a small part of 2.1, but still it contains the most important stuff: new 12 vs 12 minigame.
There is a lot of stuff to talk about so let me break it down into manageable parts:

The looks

The map is supposed to be pictish wilderness. I didn’t really get that impression: its more of a Cimmeria if anything. Of course pictish wilderness covers a LARGE chunk of Hyboria so I guess the flora changes from place to place. It’s fine, but didn’t really bring me to my knees. For me the most polished minis are Blood Ravine and Lost Temple, but there is only so much you can do with trees and rocks.
Take a looksie at these screenshots by HitmannD since those are much better than mine.

The size

The map is large compared to Totem, but I have heard some voices calling for the map to be bigger. It’s fine for my taste, but faaaaaaaaaar from map that you would use mounts on. There is no reason to mount up – you can reach points reasonably fast. Besides the map has very narrow passes and bridges so it’s easy for your opponents to block you up. Perhaps overtime people will learn to take advantages of mounts in here, but as it is now they have no use.

Pets and Mounts

Yes you can use Khitai mounts and yes you can use your combat pets. While it might not be SUPER COOL to see people being followed by 10 kappas (its actually really a bad idea), but there are some khitai pets that I would like to see in minigames: Yun’s lotus pets, Brittle Blade’s sapling from the tree of death or even moon children. It’s a hard call: on one side it has potential of changing the game into Pokemon online (and those damn kappas are screwing the tab targeting), but on another there are some insta-pets that are more of a buff/debuff and those would give another layer of customization to your pvp character. I would lean towards keeping the pets and mounts: except for damn Kappas those are hard earned, legitimate buffs that everyone can get and keeping them for Khitai-PVE-only seems like a waste.

The mechanic

The point capping is very fast. I LIKE IT! I also don’t agree that there are too many capture points. The key to victory are small, tactical strikes as opposed to rolling over opponents with 12 man army. Grouping up or “Zerging” is not the way to go. This map rewards capturing and not defending. You can push with 12 people on one capture point which is held by 6, but before you know it other 6 opponents will cap like half of the map. I would keep it this way, because if there are only few points and the defence (or lets face it: camping) becomes valid the game will lose its pace and will favor heavily solder classes (which are ripping the shit out of rogues/clothes in larger scale battles) and rangers/spell weavers. For the first few minutes of my first game it was exactly like that: DTs and Conqs backed up by Rangers were doing “the blender” in the middle and other classes were popping into that fray for 4-5 seconds only to get spanked into oblivion. Then we started to avoid that “battle” and went for points which immediately broke up the big fight and people rushed in to re-capture. Point capturing often result in small scale 1v1 or 2v2 (since respawns are very close to points) which imo is more enjoyable than classic minigames were the key is to “move as one” and grind anyone that comes near that whirlwind. This mini also empowers the individual more: your actions have DIRECT impact on the outcome. In classic minis its mostly all about the flag carrier and other are usually preoccupied with fragging (myself being guilty as charged). Killing opponents is secondary to capturing the points. You will have more than enough opportunities to cross blades, but simply focusing on killing (which can be valid in capture the flag maps: butchering opponents leaves your carrier unmolested) won’t get your far.

The rewards

Take a look at screenshot. It’s very rewarding and it will greatly improve pvp progression. I thought that FC will include “Bori” token rewards too, so you can get best pvp set, by doing this mini, but CAN’T imagine that anyone real pvper would do Bori at all if he could get the tokens AND the really good pvp xp from Sag mini. With recent pvp set changes (more on that later) I think Sag will put a large dent in Bori’s participants because FC addressed three major problems with minis : horrible pvp xp, unattainable pvp set and premades. With that out of the way why would you hit rocks?

The teams

You can only see 1 group in your UI so I cannot tell how well the new system divides the classes, but I have seen both teams having pretty much the same amount of healers, tanks and DPSs.
The Sag seems like heaven for premade vs premade with vent, but minigame nightmare x 10 for PUG vs Premade. Really, I think it would have been HUGE waste if this map went live without breaking up the premades. I do hope that the option for premade vs premade will come at some point, but seeing the opportunity for abuse of this map and how it would ruin the fun for everyone I am glad that the new rules are in.

Room for improvement

As always there is room for improvement. It seems this map would benefit greatly from climbing points of various difficulties. Also I would make the water more deep so jumping from great height would not damage the player’s character and would be a valid tactic.

More on 2.1

The party on the roof continues

Seems like FC have read my report on “secret” content on TL and have seen me getting on top of the roof. They have put up a wall to prevent it. Guys, there are explorers out there that can get to the places you haven’t even designed yet ;p. By all means keep trying to seal that place up because this roof club is a pretty cool reward for winning the renown rankings and it would be bad if others could “crash” the party.

 Minigame pvp gear

The smartest move by FC since 2008. The new minigame gear is pvp lvl 4-7. On level 4 you can upgrade your horribly outdated blue items from lvl 1-3 and on lvl 7 you can be wearing full minigame gear. The weapons are reserved for lvl8 (also good). The Bori gear is 8-10lvl. Getting to lvl8 by only doing minigames is hard as nails now (I still need 25% to lvl8), but with new minigame map and minis getting more popular it will get a little easier. This change is great on many levels: it rewards the pvper more constantly (as opposed to half killing yourself over couple of months just to get a belt) and squashes the gear gap between regular pvpers and rock-crushers.
And before I finish this post:
Find the new icon for one of sins AA perks
New minigame window - still no sound but its coming
Rock on Funcom! (please do not mess this up).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

MMO development by Funcom

Patch 2.1. Are you psyched up about it? I doubt it, but if you are please do yourself a favor and DON'T.
For a reason widely unknown Funcom is going back to their time proof strategy of "big patch & slow development for the win". Patch 2.1, which will include whole new engine, is shaping up to be another 1.5 in terms of development. Lets hop in a time machine and read up some bullshit on how fast this patch is going live:

Community Update - 10th September - Age of Conan Europe Forums
"herefore we expect Update 2.1 to be ready for the testservers around the end of September. We will of course keep you posted on the current status in the weeks to come."
Community Update – 17th September - Age of Conan Europe Forums
"on the plus side the internal testing for the integration parts of the 2.1 series is going very well, and the build is starting to look reasonably stable. We will make a decision on when we will push the series to the test servers at the end of the month"
Community Update - 8th October - Age of Conan Europe Forums

"We aim to deploy the first versions of Update 2.1 to the test servers in the next few weeks".
@Slith_hideout sooooooo.....2.1 early 2011? about 12 hours ago via Chromed Bird in reply to Silirrion
@Silirrion I really hope not...should be on test within the next few weeks, then depends on the testing about 11 hours ago via web in reply to Slith_hideout
 There ya have folks: its sooooooo coming in 2011. Now, what is the issue here? 
I cannot understand (perhaps thats because I am not an mmo developer) why we cannot have patches in small batches instead of this monster fix. I can imagine that because this patch includes whole new engine it will be buggy as hell which will only further delay whatever content we are waiting for. There are also so many small fixes that will come with the patch but would make people very happy right now: minigame pvp gear changes would be a prime example.
Furthermore one of the key issue is communication. Both community updates and monthly letters are of poor quality and those are getting both shorter and more rehashed. Do you guys think we cannot tell that you are serving us refried shit from a month ago?
There is so much Funcom could do to get people excited about their games, to make them crave the new content. Oh wait, they are excellent at this, but only before the game launches.
Why not feeding the playerbase with screenies of new maps, artworks, gameplay footage. Hell, even a developer talking about the mechanics recorded with cellphone's camera would been great. Instead we get weekly streams of "its comings" and monthly "we suck at coding with new tools, but we are getting better, like all the time".

I think you can do better than that.

EDIT: mixed up my tweet with GD's reply. Thanks for pointing that out in comments. Sorry for mistake. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Assassin's hideout podcast - ep.22

show notes:

- my progression through solo pve content in Khitai
- my factions of choice
- how I am getting MoAs

title of the post is a link to the podcast.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Assassin's hideout podcast - ep. 21

show notes:

- patch 2.1
- new minigames
- changes to premades sign ups
- bad sound quality

title of the post is a link to the podcast.

Link is fixed

Sunday, October 3, 2010

[Guide] Choking powder

The choking powder (powder for short) is a major perk available only to assassin class via AA tree.

The powder takes two slots on your alternative bar, consumes 2 shards upon use and has 2m cool down.

When applied it:

- stops any combo or spell in progress (animation/casting)

- prevents any spells from being cast for 3s (silence)

First I have to say I truly love this perk and IMHO it is the best stuff we can get from the assassin class AA tree. It greatly buffs up survivability (via preventing the combo/spell from pwning your ass) can act as anti cc (preventing cc from being applied to you) and as a form of cc (not being able to attack/cast is being cced in my book)


Powder requires both lighting fast reaction as well as good timing. Having powder bound under accessible key is vital! Make sure that you can use the powder via one of the keys that are close to the ones that you are using form movement. Please note that powder is heavy on shard consumption and that it will be hard to support this perk without going hybrid and having 2 means of instant shard regeneration.

Stopping combo/spell

First make sure that you have "timer bar" switched on via settings. This little bar will show you what your target is doing. When it comes to spells use powder at the very last second of casting so your opponent will waste time and stand still while taking the punishment. When it comes to combos its quite the opposite: use powder as soon as combo animation starts because you need to reduce the damage as much as possible.

Stopping the CCs

This is the main part of my love for the powder. What is the very first thing your opponent will try to do when he comes out of your cc like fear/stun? He will try to CC you back and there is not a thing you can do about it because he has 5s immunity to major cc (it prevents the dreaded CC-lock). Well the powder doesn't count as any type of cc so it is not affected by immunities . You can do 2 things as your opponent comes out of cc: 

If he is melee - wait for his CC animation to start. Great example are the barbarians who's animations are very easy to recognize.

If he is a caster/assassin - apply the powder at the last second of CC duration (observe his characters posture - when the CC is over he will stand straight for a second) so your opponent is affected by the 3s silence.

Couple of more examples:

Bear shamans - they just love to go out of CC and use their stun to aoe CC and heal them self up. Choking powder not only denies them the CC but also the much needed heal

Hox - the powder can stop hoxe's transformation which brings aoe stun.

Tos - the powder can stop the red shield from being applied to the caster

DT - the powder can stop the aoe sword stun (easily recognizable animation)

the list goes on

Powder as AOE

The powder has cone aoe effect so even without any timing it is a great thing to pop in front of fighting crowd (perfect for minigames) and you are bound to affect the outcome of the skirmish. Powder also can bring people out of stealth. Right now the most sure method of popping out of hide is death's whirlwind, but that very heavy on shards so the powder, while not as reliable, can yield same results with lower shard costs. Furthermore the powder can be a great "run away tool" - use it just before you are going to "leg it" to avoid the nasty "stagger" cc being applied because your back is turned.

Powder in solo PVE

When used against mobs it will stop them for 1 second which, when pounded on by several mobs, can be a life saver. Other than that the mobs do have their own casting/combos (specially tamarim's tigers mobs which have a combo called whirling blades) so the usage of powder is same as in pvp.

Monday, September 13, 2010

1.4 - 1.5 Assassin nostalgy

Recently I have tried doing Lotus/General for PVP and PVE. In PVP it was doing ok (far from what hybrid can achieve), but because of shard management it lost its Lotusy vibe.

In PVE I got my ass handed to me by mere 2-3 Chosain mobs (a laff for hybrid).

I do feel this strange nostalgy for old assassin and people claim it was the days of skill and fun. Was it really? I have a luxury of owning a blog where I can actually get my ass into time machine and see what 2008-2009 Slith thought of assassins:

this is what I remember about old 1.5 assassin
and this

I would NOT want to go back to that.

I do feel the nostalgy vibe creeping up on me (played for 3 days with Lotus/General last week), but speccing back to hybrid makes things fast, fun and bloody.I run from no man.

In 1.5 people specced Lotus because nothing else worked and this I how I felt about it: "It boils down to using EVERYTHING you have, whenever you can on whoever you can". My skill bars were non-stop on cooldowns and it was all about pre-loading GC for snare/debuff and pounding with SS rotation.

In 1.4 things were a little different, but again HYBRID reigned supreme.
If anything 1.4 HYBRID was biggest EZ-MODE we had so far:

  1. leeches
  2. avatar total immunity
  3. Excellent balance (1/5)
  4. lunge
  5. all the goodies from lotus
  6. super good off-hand feats
  7. unholy armor!!!

1.4 hybrid was much more powerful, easy to play and noob friendly than even 1.6 assassin.

Allow me to remind you:

FTD stun->snap kick->avatar+leeches->death gaze as he gets up->SS->profit

I have made pvp lvl4 by killing people in Keshatta while they were surrounded by several other players: assassins unholy armor, magic res, total immunity to magic (lotus overload without CD on proc!) and total immunity to CC (avatar + excellent balance) made it possible.

Nowadays if you charge into group of players you will get your skull split.

Playing since may 2008 I obviously enjoyed every incarnation of assassins (remember when GC did not have snare? I bet you don't, reroller :D), but assassin revamp and Rise of the Godslayer exp pack made things much more fun, interesting and compared to 1.4 hybrid: challenging.

1.5 was bland, boring, unimaginative gameplay with gimped class: the challenge was playing in a way that made obvious design flaws less severe. You got less for same amount of effort.

I will remember the best about 1.4-1.5 and hopefully forget the worst, but I fully embrace what the revamp brought to the assassin table: the only problem is that there is just not enough time to kill them all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Assassin's Hideout Podast - ep.20

So this is a special episode in which I have a co-host, I am not in my car and we have somewhat of audio quality to it.

Bladewall is a little off on the sound scale, but I don't want to get crazy with sound editors and tuned him down just a bit (you will still notice a difference between our sound levels)

done with ventrillo and audacity
show notes:
-recent patch
-assassin damage nerf
-ranger damage nerf

music in the background: Fatboy Slim - Kalifornia

In next show we will talk more about general Age of Conan news, but the podcast will always have assassin only parts.

LINK: ... t_ep20.mp3

title of the post is a link to the podcast.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Assassin's hideout podcast - ep.19

show notes:

- patch 2.1
- new minigame map

title of the post is a link to the podcast.

Monday, September 6, 2010

[Guide] Liberation Perk [updated]

After the 1.6 patch which has brought assassin revamp the hybrid again reigned supreme after losing to lotus/general for patch (screw up) 1.5 period. Assassins have lost 2 factors that made 1.4 hybrid work so well even without any "dedicated" anti cc: avatar of death which gave total, global immunity to any form of CC (those were the days...) and unholy armor which made us so resistant to melee that CC lock down did not meant instant and gory death.

Lets forward to 1.6 and we have high damage, but low survivability class that relies heavily on dispatching the enemies while keeping them in lock down. It might not be a huge deal to guardian to be stunned for a couple of seconds, but 7s fear on assassin is a death wish.

The ROGS brought the AA system with it's perks.
Liberation perk which is granted to all rogues via archetype tree.

What makes liberation perk so great? Fully feated with 5/5 it grants:

+791 combat rating (buff for 15s)
CC break
Snare immunity (5s)
Root immunity (5s)
1 slot
2m cool down

Considering it's wide usage, damage buff and the fact that you don't have to gimp your damage/survivability by adding point to general tree in order to get escape artist/agile mind this is the KING of all anti ccs.

When to get it?

This is the first perk to get and max out. Period. There is just nothing in AA for assassins that would add as much as this perk does. I recommend spending one point in each of anti magic / anti cc perks until you can start adding points to liberation. Even with mere 1 point this perk still grants you all of it's anti cc abilities, but has a horrid, long cool down and low damage upgrade. Still it's great even with 1/5 so if you are aiming for other perks first ADD ONE POINT HERE!

PVP usage

There are 3 ways you can use this in pvp: preemptive anti cc, anti cc and damage buff.

Perhaps the most tricky and risky way of using liberation is taking advantage of that 5s window which is granted via immunity to snare or root. One of woes of fighting rangers are those damn traps which can also root you while charging with From The Darkness. If caught in FTD animation you will not only lose the element of "instantly-in-your-face", but also CD (FTD goes on cool down if stopped via cc) and the root that would be applied on your opponent. The 5s window is only good for that timed FTD, but it can secure you some kills.

Anti CC 
Brake the cc. No brainer.

Damage Buff 
Most of the time the damage buff that will come with this perk will be just an "extra something", but do not hesitate using it also as damage upgrade: combine it with avatar of death for an added health leeching power.Of course liberation must stay as your main ani CC, but your goal is laying down a kill through whatever tools and means and only 2 m cool down on liberation encourages it's wide usage.

Liberation won't break your stealth upon usage. When I found out that I did't really know what to make of it: why having anti cc be usable in stealth AND NOT ACCELERATED?
An old cutter Pumpkins pointed out in comments that it can serve as backstabb damage upgrade. It sure does! You can also use avatar of death in stealth and even stack both aod and liberation buffs for bone crushing backstab!

PVE usage
To my surprise liberation won't break the CCs applied by mobs. Tried it on stun and root (you can get root webbed a lot in Kara Korum), but it didn't shake off the CC. Still you can take advantage of great damage upgrade for full 15s. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dagger and a bowl of rice ep.6: Hyrkanians

I have crushed bones for the Last Legion in the defence of the empire. I have been cutting throats for the ill-gotten money of Brittle Blade. I have slain the innocents and read their guts on the altars of Yun. I have basked in the light and glory of the most serene of goddesses.
Finally I have lost myself in the sea of bullshit that are Hyrkanians.
Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this faction? If anything they have been positively insulting towards me from day 1, they are boring as hell, in no way they are involved in the story on any level. The only reason why I am putting up with that bullshit is because I want their pair of daggers. The day I got them I will use it to slay their war chief and fuck off to betray them with Wolves faction.

Here is what Hyrkanians can offer you: (*minor spoilers*):

- the don't know anything about what the hell is going on,
- enjoy the big ass village the size of small city that everyone denys acknowledge (what? Hyrkanians in the empire? Impossible!)
- bland, soulless NPCs with bullshit attitudes,
- wide range of bullshit quests including:

  1. ride around the camp on the horse (weeeeeeeeee.....)
  2. ride around the camp on the horse and shoot stuff (weeeeeeeee............)
  3. beat the horse into submission (errrrrr.............)
  4. allow the snakes to munch on your ass (what??)
  5. find the mirror that gets lost every night across the map (did it ONCE)
  6. kill 10 random creatures for meat (EPIC!)

In short: the Hyrkanians faction feels like the Wolves just needed the damn enemy beyond the great wall. The "story" revolving around them is poorly written and the quests are unimaginative. Furthermore the mount reward from this faction is a Swift Horse with a paint job.
If this faction doesn't have anything you might want then avoid joining them at all cost.