Friday, September 24, 2010
The game is down to myself (as Japan), George (USA), and Darius (Persia). Darius ended up building the Apollo program in 1973. He’s well ahead of me now. Because he has built Apollo, he can start to build the Spaceship for a Science victory. If this game works like past versions of Civ, the only way to stop him is to take his capital.
I’m going to try a risky strategy, but it’s the only play I have right now. If I just sit here and play the game out, I won’t be able to catch Darius before he builds the Alpha Centari spaceship and wins the game. Even if I can delay that somehow, he’ll still win on points if the game goes to the turn limit of 600. No, my only play is to take out his capital city. It won’t be easy since he’s well ahead of me in Science. He’ll have better troops. So the plan is to rush Manhattan Project, and literally nuking Darius’ capital city. I’ll need to eliminate George first so I don’t have to worry about him while I’m at war with Darius.
I was able to take George out. The Puppet to Annex strategy worked much better. You make all the conquered people Puppets. Then one by one, annex them.
Unfortunately, I waited too long to try my desperate strategy. I had two nukes being built when Daruis launched for Alpha Centari. I was hoping my attack on him would slow him down. I did manage to conquer one city, but it was quickly retaken. I never really recovered.
Still not a bad first effort. We will see if I can do better next time.
So do you like the Civ posts or would you rather I not share my non-WoW gaming experiences?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I chose to play as Japan. Japan’s special skill is called Bushido, and their special units are the Samurai, and the Zero. The Samurai is a good unit in the early to mid part of the game, and I’m hoping the Zero is a nice advantage during the latter stages. Bushido allows your units to fight at full strength, even when damaged, and it sounded very appealing to me.
I knew with a Continents map there would be a couple of large land masses and a couple of smaller ones. Each large landmass would have 2 to 3 Civs, and several City-States. One land mass would be a small island nation. I wound up on a large landmass with 2 other Civs, George (USA) and Bismark (Germany). I took over the eastern part of the continent, while Germany took the west. This hemmed in George to the north. The black areas represent 4 City-States. Rio in the east, Almaty in the west, with Tyre and Helsinki to the north. What I’ve learned about City-States is basically they let you rent their land for a fee. There are different types of City-States: Maritime, Militaristic, and Cultural. There may be others, but I haven’t encountered them yet. Maritime City-States send you food. Militaristic build you units, and Cultural send you culture points to buy Policies.
This is around turn 140. I have 5 cities as does Bismark. George has 3. I spent the early game concentrating on establishing my borders and securing resources. Shortly thereafter, I found an Iron deposit on the peninsular just northeast of Germany’s east most city. Iron is one of the most important resources in the game, needed for Catapults and Swordsmen. But for Japan, it lets me build Samurai, and I get one Samurai per Iron mine. I needed that Iron. It was also important to keep it out of Bismark’s and George’s greedy little hands.
So I blockaded the iron to keep other units from getting close and marched a settler up there. Unfortunately, the only way to get him there was through American territory. So I had to make an Open Borders agreement with George. I didn’t like it, and I kept watch for him moving troops near my cities, but lucky for old George, he didn’t try to backstab me. I secured the Iron and was very happy to have it.
After a while, I got tired of paying of Rio (the city state nearest to me) for what was essentially MY land. It was time to make them a vassal state. The only problem was that Bismark had been trading with them. If I took Rio, that would not make Bismark happy. I attacked Rio anyway. One of the options you have when you take a city is to setup a puppet ruler. The advantage is that this causes much less unhappiness in your Civ, but the trade off is, you can’t control what that city makes. So I had my little puppet.
Not too long after, Bismark calls me up and basically says, ‘this island ain’t big enough for the two of us’ and declares war on me. I was able to stalemate him, and then bring units from the south to put pressure on Dortmund, a city guarding a mountain pass. He pressed for peace and offered me everything he had. I graciously accepted.
But now I had two problems. One, I knew Bizzy was going to attack me again once he recovered, and two, I was way behind Darius (Persia). He was on the other large continent and was taking out the Civs there. He was also ahead of me in gold, and science. Not a good combination. The game might actually already be lost at this point.
So I rushed to Gunpowder and preemptively attacked.So see how ya like gunpowder units, Bizzy!
I wiped out Germany, but man did I mess up. I annexed the cities, just like I would have in the old Civs. This left my empire with massive unhappiness and wrecked my economy. I figured I would come out of it quickly, like I would in Civ IV. Not so much in CivV. It took me a very long time to rectify the damage I did.
Now I realize that technically I could go back and load and save game, but that seems to me to be against the spirit of the game, so I very rarely do that.
Here’s hoping I can somehow catch up to Darius and still make a gambit of it in the end game.
The first thing I figured out was my old strategies were not going to work. In previous versions of Civ, a core part of my strategy was micromanaging my science rates, and stacks of doom. A stack of doom is basically a whole lot of units moving together, something I brought over from my Risk days.
You can’t manually control the science rate any more. It is simply a function of your population. Only one combat unit can occupy a space, so you can’t make stacks of doom anymore.
This also means you can only station one unit in a city for defense, but don’t think for a minute that it makes cities easy pickings. Cities are units in and of themselves, and it is very difficult to take them out. You basically have to lay siege to them and bombard them with archers, trebuchets, or cannon. Cities fight back and bombard you units as you are attacking. One nice UI enhancement is that you get a probable outcome when you mouse over the enemy unit or city. Everything from Divisive Victory to Narrow Defeat to Crushing Defeat.
One of my favorite enhancements to this Civilization is the new unit order called Embark. Transports are no longer part of the game. Every unit can embark, giving it the ability to move over sea hexes (but not ocean hexes). This is really helpful for island hopping and grabbing resources.
Resources are really important. You are limited in the way you use them. For instance, the Swordsman unit takes Iron. If you only have one Iron mine, you can only build one Swordsman. If you want another Swordsman, you have to make another mine on a different Iron resource. That took some getting used to.
The other new addition that I’m still figuring out is City-States. These are one city civilization that do not produce settlers and are not trying to win the game. You can ally with them if you give them a gift a gold. Then they will send you culture, and resources. But after a few turns, they forget about your gift and demand more gold to keep trading. Greedy little tyrants. Sometimes city-states will get annoyed with one another and put out a hit on another city-state. The first major power to carry out the hit, get a temporary ally with the city-state that put out the hit.
Culture is used to navigate a social policy talent tree. You buy your way into a particular tree and then pick talents to give you bonuses. But some trees lock out others, so you have to choose carefully. I started both times with the Liberty tree because that gives you faster building settlers. I’m used to the land rush early game from other Civs, but it doesn’t seem as big a deal in Civ V. Unhappiness increases with each city, and its handled on a Civ-wide level instead of a per city level.
Barbarians are a force to the reckoned with early on, and serve as a good introduction to combat.
Overall, I’ve been very impressed with this latest version of Civ, and once again found myself up way too late wanting just… one… more… turn…
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
#4At #4 on the countdown, we go to the ancient halls of Ulduar, and the Spark of Imagination.
One of the great tragadies of Wrath’s design is that if you weren’t around when Ulduar was current content, you liklely haven’t seen it. It, and Naxx, have been relegated to the same level as pre-Wrath content. It’s a shame because there are some really cool fights in there. Fights like Mimiron.
Mimiron was a 4 Phase fight, and my favorite part of it was that your job as a Tank changed from Phase to Phase. In Phase 1, you tanked a mini-Flame Levithan (an earlier boss). This phase tested your cooldown usage, and for Paladins who lacked a second cooldown at the time, it tested your coordination with your healers for external cooldowns.
In Phase Two, there wasn’t really anything to tank, so you whacked on the boss which looked a little big like a Tie Fighter. Then in Phase 3, you did some add tanking as the raid fought a disembodied mechanical head.
Phase 4, all three constructs came together Voltron style. For you younger folks in the audience, think Power Rangers, it’s essentially the same story. You fought all 3 bosses together and each section had to die with seconds of the other. It was a very fun dynamic and my favorite fight in the Wrath Expansion. I hope they reuse this mechanic in the future.
Mimiron also had what I felt was the hardest Hard Mode I ever did, Firefighter. It was the normal fight with Archimonde fire. It was intense, even when we outgeared it.
#3Coming in at #3, that sctizophrenic elemental lord, Hydross.
Hydross was one of the first bosses guilds fought in Serpentshirine Cavern. He had two phases, a Frost phase where he did all Frost damage, and a Nature phase where he did all Nature damage. You needed two tanks. Each tank needed a specialized set of resist gear, one Frost and one Nature. But the tanks decided when to change him from Frost to Nature and back by moving him over an invisible dividing line. Each time he crossed over, he dropped threat, and spawned 4 adds that needed to be picked up by a third tank in a Frost/Nature mix and had to be quickly killed so your DPS could get into Hydross, who had a fairly tight enrage timer when he was relevant content.
Hydross would drop aggro each time he crossed the line, and you had to wait for the right tank to pick him up. Anything could pull aggro. A DoT tick, a HoT tick, any attack of course, and as we found out one epic night, a wand.
One of the reasons Hydross makes the list is some of the incredible stories that happened around tanking him, like the aforementioned wand. We were working on Hydross and one of our Mages wanded him at transition. That pulled aggro, he spawned a second set of adds and it was wipe city. We started calling that mage the Wand of the West after that.
But that night was topped by another. We had been working on him all night, and we had already recleared trash once or twice. We knew we were right up against the respawn timer again. I was the first tank up, and I wasn’t quite ready to pull. Our Feral Druid, Trelic, was leading the raid, and he ordered to pull, ready or not. So I pulled. According to our addons, it was mere seconds before the trash respawned. Somehow, that managed to be our first kill.
But my favorite Hydross story came well after that. This night, I was having constant issue with disconnecting. I begged the raid to replace me, but no one else had the Frost Resist gear, so I did my best. At one point, while I was tanking him, I disconnected. Paladin threat was pretty fire and forget back in those days, and incredibly, I was able to hold threat while disconnected. I finally reconnected just in time to take him back from our Nature tank. It was about the most epic tanking I ever did.
The Developers used the drop aggro mechnaic in ICC for Marrowgar, but quickly removed it. I wonder with threat supposedly mattering more in Cataclysm if we will see a lose threat equals wipe type of boss.
I also miss resist fights. The big problem for Resist fights was staying uncrittable and still having enough room for resistance stats. With all tanks having a Survival of the Fittest type talent, perhaps we can have a resist fight or two in Cataclysm.
#2At number 2 on our countdown is a boss from all the way back in vanilla WoW. Hailing from Upper Black Rock Spire, let’s welcome General Drakkisath.
Drak doesn’t make the countdown for any special mechanic to the encounter. He was far more a test of your Hunter’s ability to kite him than your tank. So how in the world did this boss from a Raid that can hardly be called a raid (it dropped blues, not purps!) be #2 on my all time favorite list?
The answer is quite simple. I took up Tanking in the 2.0 patch. Much like the coming 4.0 patch, this patch put in all the systems of Burning Crusade (talents, spells, class mechanics) but none of the new content, nor the ability to level. 2.0 was the patch that gave Paladins a Defense Stance Lite, and Avenger’s Shield.
Somehow I convinced my guild, Heroes Inc, to let me tank. Over the nights and wipes that followed, I learned the ins and outs of the spec. This was months before Maintankadin existed. Because we were a small guild, UBRS was about the most challenging content we could do. So Drakkisath became the first Raid End Boss I would successfully tank. For that, and that alone, he will always have a special place in my memory.
#1You’ve waited through the whole countdown for this moment. We are about to reveal Honorshammer's #1 Boss of all time in World of Warcraft. You know at this point who its not, and some of the guys who have been raiding a while might have an inkling of who it is.
My #1 Boss marked a tipping point for Paladin tanks. A tipping point is are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." This Boss proved that Paladin tanks could help a raid team. We still weren’t universally accepted. That wouldn’t happen until Wrath, but after this Boss there would be no turning back. No other Boss in all of WoW so highlighted a Paladins unique strengths and advantages.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let’s welcome our winner, Morogrim Tidewalker!
The Morogrim fight consisted of one tank grabbing Morogrim. Periodically, Morogrim would call a posse of Murlocs to wreck the party and that’s where your Paladin came in. The Murlocs like to go for the hightest threat targets, generally your raid healers. It was up to your Paladin to grab all the Murlocs, quickly lock them down and give your DPS the ok to AoE the snot out of them.
At the time, Warriors and Druids had very little in the way of AoE tanking capabilities. Tanks had niches. Warriors were Boss tanks, Druids were offtanks, and Paladins were AoE tanks. It didn’t work so great for Paladins when there wasn’t a need for an AoE tank, but at that point in the games history, the challenge was for Paladins to be thought of as a tanking class at all.
It was Morogrim that first made some raid leaders think, ‘boy, I don’t how we are going to raid tonight without a Paladin tank.’ It was Morogrim who gave lots of Paladin tank there first shot at a real tanking job and allowed them, through their demonstrated skill, to prove to their raids they were capable players in the tanking role.
I should give an honorable mention to Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk boss from Zul’Aman, who performed a similar role on the 10 man level in Burning Crusade.
So that’s my list of the top 10 Bosses I tanked in WoW. Who was your favorite Boss? Was it someone from my list, or another one completely?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Welcome back to our countdown of Honorshammer Top 10 Favorite Bosses to Tank. If you missed part 1, you can get caught up here: Part 1.
Coming in at #8, we have our first entry from Icecrown Citadel. You’ve seen him grow up from just a wee bag of parts to one of the toughest abominations around. Here’s Festergut.
Festergut gave tanks the rare opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the DPS portion of a fight. Early on, when the ICC buff was low, Festergut’s enrage was a challenge for some guilds. He became something of a brick wall. Tanks relished in the opportunity to help their guilds beat that enrage timer.
The way the fight works, in case you haven’t seen it from the Tanks perspective, is the first tank gets a stacking buff that increase the damage you do. Once your co-Tank taunted the boss, you dropped your threat stance (Righteous Fury for Paladins), popped cooldowns like Avenging Wrath and went to work making your ‘pure’ DPS sweat bullets as you assaulted the DPS meter. Tanks went to great lengths to make specific gearsets just for this fight. Tanks fretted over the position on World of Logs meters as they tried to post the highest parse.
I’m cheating a little bit with #7 and combining 3 different Bosses because each makes the list for the same reason. This trio from end of Tier 4 content were the initial ‘impossible’ Bosses for Paladins. I give you Nightbane, Gruul, and Magtheridon. Paladins at that point of Burning Crusade were much different from the juggernauts they are as of late WotLK. We had some significant weaknesses that each of these exploited.
All of these Bosses hit like a Mack Truck pulling a Freight Train.
Nightbane was a dragon with an air and ground phase. He feared as he landed. Back in those days, if you were feared, you lost aggro. So if one of your healers resisted the fear, Nightbane would walk over and one shot them for you. Service, with a smile. At the time, only Dwarf Priests could cast Fear Ward. Seriously, I’m not making that up. Paladins came up with tricks like a Bubble cancel macro and equipping a PVP trinket. We did anything we could to avoid that Fear. It also helped that I had Dora with me, who, in a show of great taste and aplomb, had rolled a Dwarf Priest.
Gruul had a mechanic where he grew larger as the fight went on and hit harder and harder. The trick I had to pull off was staying second on threat to take Hurtful Strikes (sort of like Hateful Strikes on Patchwerk), and survive as Gruul hit harder and harder. Staying up on threat was no easy task. Mana was a much bigger issue back then. We basically only had Spiritual Attunement. I worked on my gear set down to the last enchant and gem to perfectly balance threat and survival. I farmed up Dark Runes to give me a boost of mana when I needed it. We did everything we could to overcome our weaknesses. The night Gruul fell with me co-Tanking was a very special night in my gaming career.
The final part of this trio is Magtheridon. The fight was really about clicking cubes (you have NO IDEA how hard that was). But for tanks, it was about surviving a transition at 30%. Maghtheridon stunned the whole raid, did a big AoE so everyone in the raid was taking damage and then hit you with a melee + cleave combination. Most tanks survived this by popping their survival cooldowns, and I would have loved to do that, if I had had any. I popped trinkets and quaffed and ironshield (+armor) pot. Combined with my awesome healers (HoTs were HOT!) we killed the big lizard. It was the night I got promoted to Main Tank of Mal Katai. That was easily one of the top 5 raid nights I’ve ever had in game.
Rounding out the bottom half of the countdown, we look at the end of the Burning Crusade. At the apex of the Black Temple lay the Boss who had been taunting player since the very first Burning Crusade video, telling us we were NOT PREPARED. At #6, its Illidan Stormrage!
The fight against Illidan began even before you zoned in as you had to go through this very long quest chain to get attuned just so you could enter the instance. Of course, by the time we were working on Illidan in earnest, the restriction had been lifted. I did the quest anyway. But beyond that, there was more preparation for the off tanks in the Illidan fight.
You needed three tanks, one main tank for Illidan himself, and two off tanks to handle the Fire Elementals that Illidan summoned. In order to be able to survive the Elementals, you needed a full Fire Resist set. It wasn’t crafted, it was bought with the Badges (the BC equivalent of Emblems). It was a long grind, but I did it because I wanted a shot at tanking in that fight. The common belief at the time was only Warriors could tank Illidan himself due to a mechanic that required 100% block, which Warriors got at the touch of a button. So it was Flame Tanking for me. Paladins could technically do it, but by this point I was in a guild with an established main tank.
Flame tanking is the hardest jobs I ever had as a tank. Basically, you had to tank your assigned Fire Elemental. The two elementals had to be kept within a certain distance of each or they would enrage and one shot you. But they dropped very dangerous fire on the ground every which forced you to move them. The fire would persist for a while, so you needed to kite them in a specific and stay in perfect synchronization with the other Flame Tank. As if that wasn’t hard enough, from time to time Illidan would fire two beams of death that followed one of three patterns to make an X. The trails were slightly bigger than the graphic and getting hit would one shot you.
It was mastering this assignment and seeing Illidan fall that places him on my top 10 list.
In many ways our #5 Raid Boss is the spiritual successor of Illidan. Welcome the final Boss of the Wrath the Lich King, the big guy himself, Arthas!
Arthas tested every facet of tanking. He tested your cooldown usage, your snap threat, your kiting and your ability to communicate with your co-tank. Soul Reaper was a devastating attack, and you had to know when to blow the cooldown, and when to trust your co-Tank to save your behind. Picking up Spirits in the transition phases tested your snap threat, especially if you ran with Fury Warriors or Ret Paladins. Mob control and kiting were key. Arthas needed to be position well for both Defile and Valk’yrs. It was a tough fight to learn, and personally I wish we had fought him a few more times.
The challenge was a big part of what made Arthas fun, but there was also a large lore component to the fight. I’ve been wanting a shot at Arthas ever since completing the Human campaign in Warcraft III. Defeating Arthas put a closure to that story is a very satisfying way.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Today, we’re going to countdown my 10 favorite encounters in World of Warcraft to tank.
The first problem I encountered working on this post was I had way too many nominees. So I cheated. Well not really, its my blog, my rules. Basically, I combined a couple of similar bosses into one entry, since what I’m really after in this post is what made these bosses fun from the tanking perspective.
But before we get into the countdown, I have to find Casey Kasem to DJ for me. In the meantime, let me give a brief one sentence mention to the Bosses that didn’t make the cut. Consider these Honorable Mentions.
- The Twin Val’kyr – I love the whole Light and Dark aspect of the bosses, it reminded me a little bit of Hydross.
- Four Horsemen (Level 80) – The way you have to trade off the bosses, and trying to maximize threat to burn one down while staying alive.
- Leotheras the Blind – Paladins had some unique advantages against this boss and exploiting those was fun.
- Hodir (Hard Mode) – A test of how fast you could hit your Taunt button. That was fun.
- Loatheb, Level 80 – Taking less damage than your healers is fun.
- Reliquary of Souls – While Phase 2 stunk (you HAD to have a Warrior), Phase 3 was probably one of the few moments where Paladins really shined in Burning Crusade.
- Moroes – It was fun being able to negate his main ability, called Garrote, three different ways with Stormform (Dwarves For the WIN!), Blessing of Protection and Divine Shield.
- Thaddius – Not so much the boss, but his two guards Feugen and Stalagg would slap their tank across the room to the other guard. Flying tanks were fun.
Now I’ll turn it over to Casey.
Thanks Honors. We begin the Tank Countdown by going old school, all the way back to the first Raid instance of the Burning Crusade. Here at #10 on our countdown, Netherspite!
Netherspite was a dragon that lived in the upper reaches of the Level 70 entry raid, Karazhan. He makes the list because he had one of the most fun mechanics I’ve seen in a Boss fight. When you start the fight 3 portals form and shoot beams at Netherspite. Players had to stand in those beams. Standing in the Beam gave you stacking buff, and allowing the beams to hit Netherspite gave him a stacking buff. You wanted that buff hitting you and not him. For a little added fun, the beams were color coded. Tanks needed to stand in the red beam, and the position of the Red beam changed once a minute. In addition, you got an exhaustion type debuff after standing in the beam so you had to alternate with your other tank.
Part of what was fun about the boss was the stacking buff the Red Beam gave you automatically put you at the top of the threat list, but also kept increasing your Hit Points. As we discovered in ICC when the buff hit 30%, tanks find it fun to have silly amounts of HP. I don’t know that I’ve seen a boss with such a cool mechanic before or since, and it was a very fun encounter week after week. He also gets the nod because we did some really crazy stunts near the end of the expansion, like the night we had Holy Priest take the Red beam. She survived, and we all had a blast.
We continue the countdown by looking at the final raid instance of the Burning Crusade. Death Knights from all over Azeroth can meet the namesake for their AoE attack. From the deep in the Black Temple comes our #9 Boss, Gurtogg Bloodboil.
Gurtogg needs to enjoy his moment in the sun here because I promise you he won’t make any Healers top 10 list. The fight was really tough on healers. But I wasn’t a Healer. I was a tank. This fight used a mechanic similar to Lady Deathwhisper’s heroic mode. Bloodboil would put a stacking debuff on your tank that reduced armor, and also was an undispellable Damage over Time (DoT). A single tank could only take so many application before they would be unhealable. The healers had their hands full with something akin to unchained magic which meant only certain healers could heal at any given time. Normally stacking debuffs are no trouble, you simply tank swap. The twist for Gurtogg was that he wasn’t tauntable. Everyone, including your melee DPS had to watch Omen to make sure the Tanks were #1, #2, and #3 on threat. The Tanks couldn’t get out their TPS epeen either. You had to stay close to your fellow tanks, and execute tank swaps by manipulation of the Threat meter. To add to the fun, Gurtogg had an attack that reduced the threat of the current tank.
This fight was about controlling your TPS in a really skillful way. You needed to know when to back off, and when to put the pedal to the metal. You had to really work together as a tanking team, which is another part of the fight that made it very fun for me.
That’s as much as we have time for today. I’ve already got all 10 lined up, but the post was getting a little long so I decided to break it into 3 parts. Be sure to check back next week, when we will continue the countdown.