December 28, 2008

Karak-Azgal: Altdorf Ablaze - 1st City Siege

Friday night Destruction managed to lock down the Shining Way fortress, tho i heard some rumours about a door being missing. I was not online during that time, so no idea if its true. Afterwards we tried to lock down another fortress, but the server did not hold and the connected fortress T4 zones crashed repeatedly reseting the campaign back to the last zone before the assault. Our alliance decided to withdraw and try again after midnight, hoping that less people (and I'm not talking about defenders tbh) would be around and we can take the fortress before the zone crashes. When we attacked Reikwald fortress we moved rather straight on to the fortress lord. There still was a shitload of people around and when his health was going down, we were counting his last 15% health loud out on vent while expecting the zone to crash any second... surprisingly it didn't and we locked down the 2nd fortress. Altorf was open for an assult, the first capitol raid on Karak-Azgal! Once you take the 2nd fortress a timer starts and Altdorf will be contested for 6 hours (the timer does not show minutes and jumps immediately from 6 to 5). If you manage to accumulate enough victory points doing the PQ & scenario (doing quests seems not to yield any VPs) you'll lock down the city and the defenders can't enter anymore. If the defenders win the whole T4 campaign will reset.

One sad thing at the fortress raid was that we could see a few players doing nothing else then spamming standards and trying to lag/crash the zone on purpose.

The server stability during fortress fights is definately something Mythic/GOA needs to work on more. While large scale RvR performance indeed got better for many with the last patches its still not enough. Crashing zones while doing a fortress assault is not acceptable, the promised large scale RvR part of the game needs to work flawlessly for WAR to have a long term attraction to the players. It already does work much better then eg. in Age of Conan, but nontheless its not enough yet. I can't compare atm if its the network code from Mythic or the GOA servers that are causing the problems on the EU servers but maybe some folks from the US can enlighten us if they still got crashing zones during fortress raids. During the large scale RvR around the forts the performance seems to be okayish for most, its just that at some point the zone simply crashes and it might take more then one try to log back in. The question if Mythic/GOA can iron out those last technical problems will make or break the game as many more people approach T4. In a worst case scenario they need to close a zone if too many people are in there, preventing more to enter. This would cause balancing issues again, therefore i hope they can fix the existing system or use better servers.

Many warbands made their way towards Altdorf on Karak-Azgal that night. I don't know exactly how many people were there, as we were all too excited to be able to raid Altdorf. Once you reach the maingates of Altdorf you knock down the door and there is a large portal you can enter. I just assume the backdoor will have a portal as well. Best let your warband leader go in first and then the rest of the raid will zone into the same instance. If it applies to you, there is an instance selection screen to choose from - this screenshot is from 6:30am or such, therefore the few people. It looks like the city instances can take two warbands on each side, so the max amount is 48:48 per instance. Some people had the problem to be in a queue for a very long time. This seems to be a bug and one guild mate just relogged after being queued up for one hour or something and got in immediately. So it might be worth a try should that happen to you. From what i read on the forums it seems the siege inside the capitol is limited to six instances. Ergo only 576 players, 288 each side, can enter the capitol and the rest has to queue or try to fight in front of the gates preventing people to reach the portal. I've no idea if the game will open more instances under certain circumstances, but so far i never heard of more then six and read about people standing in front of the doors and being queued.

Edit - Clarification: Should your warband enter an Altdorf instance that's already full when you try to enter, you'll be placed in queue. Seems the queue system for city sieges is bugged and does not work properly - thats why you get stuck in queue for a long time. What you have to do is, leave the warband and approach the portal solo. Now you'll get the selection screen and you'll be able to see if the instance (your warband is in) is full still or if you can enter manually. If its still full (48 destro), either wait and retry every now and then or join another instance.

Once you enter Altdorf you'll zone into the Destruction "starting area". There is a healer and a bunch of NPCs that will hand out some quests to you. The quests are nothing special, you have to kill players or certain NPCs and also use a few orbs in specific places to solve them. One quest was on a timer of 1 hour. Some of the quests will yield Defender's Sign & Defender's Mark tokens. If people are interested i can write more in detail about the quests and what to do, just leave a comment. Should you die inside the city siege instance you'll respawn at the starter area. There is one large PQ going on inside the whole city. The advice: Destroy Altdorf. Take no prisoners. The first stage of the PQ Altdorf - Slaughter in the Streets! involves to take two battle objective type POIs (Temple of Sigmar & The Docks) inside the city, kill 150 Defenders and start 50 Fires. The fires are started by using tents, crates, barrels, bookpiles and everything else you can touch to burn. The 2nd part is on a 10m timer and involves killing four Ogre Bodyguards and General Leighton. The overall PQ is rather easy, were it not for the fact that Order has a mirror PQ and will try to kill attackers as well as trying to extinguish fires. I think their 2nd part involves killing some Destruction Corruptor with four Firewyrms. The contribution for those PQs is not fixed yet from the looks of it btw. I heared many people complain its still bugged and the same people getting the golden bag every time. This really need to be adressed. The loot bags yield some wierd rank 30+ loot (most of it was crap for a rank 40), but more importantly the gold bags yield Invader set pieces. I've only seen (did not win a gold bag myself) chest pieces from this PQ, no idea if you can get other pieces as well from the initial one.

Edit - Clarification: The initial quests you can take inside Altdorf, won't be repeatable even after another capture. So you really can only do them once.

The whole contested capitol content seems to have a few major flaws in my opinion: One major problem is instance balance. You can join an instance with zero attackers/defenders in it and kill spawning NPCs for the 150 attacker/defender part. My estimate (from what i hear about respawn times) is you could do around 4-5 PQs in one hour if you have enough people with you inside the instance. This is a double-edged sword, on the one hand you want all the people to stick around to enable the city siege content to as many people as possible, on the other hand it should not be possible to farm the PQs too easily. In my opinion this system needs to become smarter and more dynamic. Of course you need to enable people to do stuff on their own without any attackers/defenders in it. If the instances would just close down and collapse with too few people in them players will eventually leave the capitol as there is nothing to do for them... if 10min later another warband from the opposing side shows up, the other warband just left. To keep as many attackers/defenders interested there needs to be stuff they can do. The spawning NPCs should a) be stronger and b) use a dynamic system that "fills" empty instances with strong mercenary NPCs (an AI improvement could not hurt as well) that don't count for the PQ. If a full 48:0 instance can do 2-3 PQs in one hour that should be enough to keep people interested, but make it more difficult to farm (which defenders can do as well) the city siege without resistance. The initial PQ works but its to static, the General always spawns at the same place, add some more random factor to that. Like needed with normal RvR BOs i propose to make POIs more meaningful by giving them some purpose. The defenders are able to hold the Temple of Sigmar? Awesome, why not reward them with a group of Warrior Priests spawning every 15min to aid the fight? The attackers hold the Docks? Strategic advantage! Let some reinforcements arrive. The whole PQ & PvE content inside the capitol needs to support a more exciting RvR experience, that's what people want.

Another thing are those quests in there: I hear that the defenders can't do any quests beside the ongoing PQ... is that true? If so, that sucks and needs to be changed. Quests add more to the feeling you contribute something inside there. Let the defenders bandage some people, transport supplies, whatever. During the siege its very hectic/chaotic with all the fighting inside the streets so of course those quests can't be too complex and should move people around the city. The quests are not repeatable, but right now the work vs reward is pointless, why bother? The quests we could do inside Altdorf were rather boring. Kicking in doors is fun but two similar quests to use an object all over the city? *yawns* If Mythic wants to give the impression you pillage & plunder the enemy city, why don't the quests reflect that more? There are several small houses i can enter, why not let me steal valuables for a quest? Why not hand me some dynamite and let me blow up the safe inside the Altdorf bank? Create some supply/reinforcement quests that have a mirror part on the other side to support more places with constant RvR inside the city. When we were inside Altdorf the three major places to fight at where the two BOs and the market place. Create some more strategic points inside the city worth taking/holding and make those POIs actually do/trigger something. And talking about quests & rewards from there: Get someone on the quest rewards. Some quests were yielding nothing beside some XP and silver (and very low amounts) others gave the Defender's Sign (can get four from the quests) & Defender's Mark (can get two from the quests) tokens... Mythic, those are *worthless* at the moment. You took out the token system to buy armor but left those in the game. Let me buy something with them! I don't really care what it is as long as its unique and somewhat useful. I'll be very pissed if they just delete the stuff... you got the system, give it a purpose again. Right now it feels like a bad joke to get a "reward" thats of no use for you... big let down for the epic "endgame" feeling. Same goes for the armor models from the loot you get in there... same old crappy models all over again. This is supposed to be part of the endgame, make the stuff look different.

The fluff could be more again as well: While a full instance is fun and a lot of cool street skirmishes are happening there needs to be more stuff that makes it feel like a city under siege. Add some exploding barrels & windows to the streets. Create some more ambient NPCs that flee the streets in panic from time to time. When i plunder the enemy city i want souvenirs! Why not let me take some unique grey trash items? Make some of the "official working NPCs" like bankers, barkeepers, etc. drop unique looking (order models maybe?) clothes. Those can be total crap stat wise, just make them look cool. Also enemy Defenders could drop special loot inside the capitol fights.

Don't get me wrong, the city siege was a lot of fun... BUT parts of it were just too static so when we go back for the next city siege I'm afraid it could become boring to "grind" the city. One thing that added a nice flavour to exploring the city: You could unlock some of the history/lore tome unlocks inside the city. I had no time to really search for them, but there were some i found while running around. One or two achievment unlocks i found as well, like the grave of Konrad Hirtzel. In one cellar there was a "bookcase hidden door" with a small portal behind it, but we could not use it. Anyone knows where this leads? Or what is the deal with Jerue Zeinbach standing around in the burning city? Inside the bright wizard college there are a bunch of Aqshy cubes you can destroy, but it didn't look like this does anything at that stage. Maybe the college will only become active once you captured the city. Two PQs and the PvE dungeons (will those drop different loot then the own city dungeons for the other side?) will open up after a successful siege with a city capture. Once the two PQs are defeated the king encounter unlocks.

One more fun thing we discovered during the siege was the Screaming Cat tavern near the Docks. Inside the tavern were the two infamous heroes Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaeger. They did put up a good bar fight, but were no match for us. Felix did drop special belts with three empty talisman slots. I don't want to spoil the fight by telling to much about it, but we found it had a nice wrinkle to it. By far the best item i won during the city siege is my new shield, the Insurrectionist Blocka, followed by the three talisman slot belt. I gathered some screenshots from loot we found here. On a sidenote, all the Insurrectionist jewelry is broken and lacks stats, making them absolutely useless epic trash items.

We did not manage to lock down and capture Altdorf, after the timer ran out the whole war campaign did reset. Was it the epic fight Mythic praised city sieges would be? Hmm... not yet. It was really exciting to siege the enemy capitol and we had a lot of fun, else we would not have stayed up until 7am and try to burn down Altdorf. Being part of the endgame i feel tho the city sieges need to be pimped more to provide fun even after you did siege the city a few times. More fluff that immerses you further into the pillage & plunder and the PQ plus the quests need to focus more on supporting the RvR inside the city with contrary goals and also add some strategy to the city fights. The flaw that BOs don't really have a meaningful/tactical purpose is a general one in WAR and will hopefully be adressed also for the city sieges.

Everything was very chaotic in the beginning of the Altdorf siege as not many had a clue what to do and where. So maybe this summary will help others when the time has come. Waaagh!

EDIT: Just got some more infos. Apparently after you manage to gather enough victory points to "lock" the first stage of the city siege, the 2nd stage unlocks. In Altdorf its two additional PQs (Bright Wizard College & Sigmar's Temple) which you have to beat while a timer of one hour runs. Only after you beat both PQs, the city instances and also the king encounter unlock, while the city becomes captured. Without any Invader/Darkpromise gear the PQ lords hit a tank in full Sentinel gear for about 20k damage. After the six hour timer runs out there starts a two hours city rebuild timer, which seems bugged atm. IMO its supposed to work like that no attackers can zone into the city anymore and when you die inside the city instance you would not respawn inside the city. After the two hours all attackers get teleported out of the city. But yday night apparently it was bugged and did not work like this, a CSR had to reset the zone to kick invaders out.


wayofthechosen said...

Any cool titles or the like from this battle?

Congo rats on getting this far.

Thulf said...

No, nothing i did stumble upon. Only some of the order tome unlocks i mentioned. From participating in a fortress capture you gain a title tho. The one from Reikwald fortress is "Hand of Chaos".

Syp said...

Great post Thulf, looking forward to my first time sacking the IC... in 2011!

Hey, if you have a minute, could you swing over to Blog Warhammer and check out a new project I'm putting together that could use your help:

Thanks! ~ Syp

Anonymous said...

Nice write up! It's nice to see that city sieges are starting to come around after all the zone swapping and such in t4...

Also the cellar with the "bookcase hidden door" is an order only city dungeon similar to bilerot for destruction, so I doubt you could enter it as destro sacking the city :P

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up, playing Order on Karak-Azgal it is nice to see how the other side view on things.

Tumka said...

hey thulf mate nice review of city fights

tho your are right ea mythic/goa need to sort out the lag problems with the fort fights.. same goes for tier 4 open rvr the over all grinding to get keeps ect is becomeing more of a drag we have made up a few ideas to get tier 4 rvr to be much more of a challange.. the link is below

i hope to see you post there soon mate

Tumka gorefist - karak norn

Anonymous said...

hey there we also did these last 2 weeks in dark crag server but we werent able to finish it because the server went down for maintanance. but we always gets close in doing it again the problem is the order in our server are really bad whenever we are attacking the 2nd fortress they send all the order in that fortress level 1-40 to crash the zone they stack standars and stuff everything they can do to crash the zone youll see a bunch of level 10s defending even though they know that they could get 1 shot they just stay there to crash the zone :(

Ex said...

I heard today that Mythic who hold the servers for the US players solved the issue of crashes by creating a super-super-computer as server, meanwhile GOA still run on the same old, so it's not a Code issue, it's a hardware one.

Thulf said...

I heard the story about the US hardware as well, but could not find any proof for it. In addition if you read the forum at WHA the US players say they still got crashes or have fortress fights with 1-5 FPS. So the problem does not seem to be solved (yet).

Castamere said...

Riveting read as always. I hope to participate in some of these and do hope (as you said) that some 'looting and pillaging' becomes more involved in the overall city siege.