Hows that $150 trailblazer thingy working out for everyone?

June 6, 2015

What’s the term for something that is 90% vaporware?

Answer: An SOE product.

Smed just doing Smed things!

HS: Speaking of why F2P is the minor leagues…

June 4, 2015

$10 for a skin to a throwaway afterthought game huh? Haha, silly Blizzard, you aren’t Riot and you don’t have anything remotely close to LoL with HS, get this sad money grab out of here.

But then again, when you are clinging to a top 20 grossing spot on the iPhone list with your freshly released mobile game (anyone have the finger stamina to find HS on the iPad chart?), you do need to get desperate, and this is desperation 101 right out of the SOE/Turbine playbook. Oh how far once-mighty Blizzard has fallen.

Free-to-Play, ALL THE WAY!

2015 midyear check-in: Still not a single great F2P MMO

June 4, 2015

Wildstar announcing it is moving to the minor leagues of the MMO world (F2P) is… something? Personally I have zero investment/interest in Wildstar, as I never saw the point of creating a ‘hardcore’ raiding MMO and then picking a hyper-cartoon artstyle and thinking more than a tiny population would remain interested. Those seem a bit contradictory, and anything bigger than “tiny niche product” for Wildstar was never going to happen anyway.

The only real surprise I guess is that Wildstar is going F2P later than ESO did, though I highly suspect the delay for Wildstar had more to do with resource limits, and console-release deadlines for ESO pushing it towards F2P faster-than-needed (and I’m not sure ESO wouldn’t have stayed sub if it was a PC-only title anyway).

But all of this does further reinforce my point about business models in the MMO genre; if you have a good game, it can be great if its sub, and no F2P MMO can be great. That Wildstar wasn’t great and is now moving down to F2P doesn’t change that. Nor does ESO, as ESO wasn’t great.

What was of interest when both games were announced with the sub model is that it gave both games a chance, at least in terms of the business model, to be great. No MMO that is under the F2P weight can ever be great. If an MMO tomorrow is announced, and part of that announcement is that it’s F2P, we know that, at best, it will be mediocre, with very good odds that it will be hotbar-selling garbage.

That’s just the upper limit of F2P. Always has been, and midway through 2015, nothing has changed. In 2015 the best and most successful MMOs are still sub MMOs (FFXIV, WoW, EVE). Saying the sub model is dead or outdated makes you sound like an ignorant fool at best, if not an outright idiot. What is almost-dead is the MMO genre itself, at least compared to days of old, with only a few studios still making MMOs that are anything above mediocre. But make no mistake; if you are one of those studios, the sub model is the one model that will allow you to truly create something great. That hasn’t changed in 2015. As always, lets revisit (repeat) in 2016, shall we?

Time to catch up

June 3, 2015

Missing a week of Internet feels like missing a year of RL; lot-o-catching up to do.

I miss anything really major? I’m assuming the normal stuff like Turbine shutting down a game, SOE being SOE, and FFXIV being bigger than WoW all happened, but anything surprising?

How many more people will we allow Blizzard and WoW to murder?

May 22, 2015

I think its about time someone took up the righteous cause of saving the world from murder/suicide-assisting MMOs and the evil that they bring. Now you might be saying “But SynCaine, surely the developers are setting proper limits here and not encouraging such things?”, but you would be wrong.

When this little angel got tricked by evil Blizzard, did they change the game? Or did they further push the boundary limits of their suicide-assistance machine with more social-engineering grind? Did they step in to stop the evil, or did they add more daily quests? Did they add a whole new method of gameplay (garrisons) that further preyed on the weak-minded? How many have died? And how many more will die, just because evil Blizzard is left unchecked, and their evil supporters have long stood with them and get off on the deaths of others for pageviews, clicks, and maybe a free coffee?

Well not anymore my beautiful internet! It’s time we, the non-evil, stand up, rise together, and say no more! No more assisted-suicide via themepark grinds! Shut them all down (except FFXIV, that game is fine), and let us live in a more peaceful, evil-free world! Where only such virtuous titles like EVE Online exist, where CCP has been so merciful as to allow progression when offline to not commit the evils that Blizzard and their ilk have.

It’s time internet! Good men must not sit idle as these atrocities continue! Join me, and together, we can save the world from this this evil!

#gamerlivesmatter #WoWisEvil #DeathToTheDeathMachines #DeathToTheirSupporters

AoW3 solves the ‘one and done’ problems of most TBS titles

May 22, 2015

Long-game TBS games like Age of Wonders 3 take a long time to fully judge, especially if you are interested in how well the game holds up after a dozen or so multiplayer games, when the players know what they are doing and the ‘new shine’ has worn off.

I’m happy to report AoW3 is holding up very well, and the most recent expansion has only been a major bonus.

For starters, its important to note that AoW3 is overall a very good game. It looks good, sounds good, has lots of content/variety, and is technically solid (no crashing and the multiplayer doesn’t disconnect or throw weird errors). Bonus points for loading quickly, having a UI that doesn’t get in the way, and having units/races that are both traditional (dwarfs with axes/shields, elves with bows) and different (tiger-like race with pounce, lucky halflings).

Beyond that very solid foundation, perhaps the most important improvement AoW3 has going for it over similar games like Heroes of Might and Magic 6 or even Civilization V is that rarely does a multiplayer game ultimately come down to ‘one big fight’. If you have played similar games before, you know that the general pattern of each game is: buildup, fight neutrals, position for major fight, major fight happens, someone wins the fight and basically the game.

In AoW3, because stacks are limited and moving all your units near each other is discouraged (you will fall behind in exploration and clearing neutral camps/treasures), its very common that you will have multiple major battles during a game, and winning any one battle won’t instantly decide the game. This may sounds simple or minor, but it makes a world of difference and the whole experience is far more entertaining because of it.

In many of the games I’ve played, who is winning has shifted multiple times, and even as a game looked to be winding down, a late turnaround is possible if things line up. That is huge, and really keeps the game from feeling like an inevitable slog towards victory after a certain point. I would say this is even more true in play-by-email games, as in those you must use auto-battle when fighting another player, which prevents cheese builds/strategies from being effective and also adds a final bit of randomness to everything.

Highly recommended title for any TBS fan, and both expansions are worth picking up as well, since they just add ‘more’ of everything without the game feeling like it has TOO much going on.

CoC: Supreme Cream! Vs Ganu Bersatu

May 20, 2015

(Stats and writeup by Delpez)

Another close war and another come-from-behind victory! With 90 minutes on the clock we were still 15 stars behind, but a solid clean-up strategy and some impressive attacks sealed the win. We also got the wrong end of the matchmaker, as the following tables show:

Nr. of TH’s

SC! Enemy
Nr of TH10 2 3
Nr of TH9 13 15
Nr of TH8 26 24
Nr of TH7< 4 3
Ave TH level 8.20 8.36

Average experience per TH

SC! Enemy
TH10 107 115
TH9 94 94
TH8 78 75
TH7 60 60
Overall 81 82

Not a complete mismatch, but certainly not in our favour. The 0.16 difference in TH level is significant, and they had three more high level bases. Their TH10’s were also more advanced, but our TH8’s compensated somewhat – both in numbers and experience level. The attack stats and stars left per base are shown next:

Attack stats

SC! Enemy
Score 112 109
Total Attacks Used 85 81
Total 3 Star Attacks 28 22
Total 3 Star % 32.9 27.2
3 Stars Against Same Level 21 14
3 Star % Against Same Level 30.4 21.2
3 Stars Against Lower Level 7 6
3 Star % Against Lower Level 63.6 50.0
TH8 3 Stars 14 13
TH8 3 Star % 29.2 28.9
TH8 3 Stars (same level) 13 9
TH8 3 Star % (same level) 29.5 22.5
TH8 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 2.0 1.7
TH9&10 3 Stars 12 6
TH9&10 3 Star % 40.0 18.8
TH9&10 3 Stars (same level) 6 5
TH9&10 3 Star % (same level) 28.6 20.0
TH9&10 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 1.62 1.72

Stars left

SC! Enemy
TH10 3 5
TH9 9 12
TH8 14 6

In isolation, the 3-stars numbers suggest an easy victory. However, we left a lot of 1-stars against their TH9&10 bases. This was a deliberate move towards the end of the war to clean up TH8 bases, and the strategy worked out well. However, it also shows that we can improve quite a bit by getting 2- or 3-stars against high level bases on a more consistent basis. The performance and attacking strategies per TH level are discussed next.

We have a couple of new TH5’s, and wars are difficult at that level. Your only real option is a giant/healer army, backed up by archers/wizards. Giants or a high level healer in the clan castle can go a long way in ensuring a successful attack. The strategy is to first take out the clan castle troops, then take out the air defence with your giants before dropping the healers. Once the giants have most of the aggro, deploy your ranged troops. This strategy is also viable at TH6, and some of the skills you’ll learn are also applicable for higher level attacks (such as GoWiPe), so this is an ideal opportunity to practice. Just keep in mind that you are not expected to make much of a contribution until TH7, so just have fun and learn!

At TH7 dragons are still the only effective attacking option, and even the new air blower is not enough to prevent an easy 3-star against another TH7. However, at TH8 the blower has changed things quite a bit. During this war it appeared as though our TH8’s were struggling, but looking at the numbers they actually smashed the opposition pretty hard. TH8 3-star percentages have certainly dropped – in the past it ranged from the high 30% upwards. These days 30% 3-stars against other TH8’s seems like a good number, and that includes TH8 GoWiPe attacks. This presents an opportunity – previously TH8’s pretty much cancelled each other out in wars, since the attacks were easier. Since that is no longer the case, one can now build up a substantial advantage at this level. This means that GoWiPe and Hog attacks are becoming more important at TH8, as their 3-star percentages have not changed with the blower, while dragons have taken a hit.

At TH9&10 we scored more 3-stars at a higher percentage, but left a lot of stars behind as well. As discussed earlier, this was partly due to the fact that they had more high level bases, but also because we decided to clean up TH8 bases towards the end of the war, leaving a number of 1-star bases behind. Attacking options really opens up at this level (I can only talk about TH9 – not sure how this changes at TH10). GoWipe and Hog variants are strong against the right bases, and Lavaloon seems very powerful against some low-mid TH9’s. There’s also a lot of scope to improvise, like using Hogs in a GoWiWi attack to clear a cluster of defences (see Syn’s attack against #15). I guess matching the base to an attacking strategy is key, and one of the most important skills at higher levels. This link (provide by Jonneh) is still pretty valid, even though it was posted before the air blower. It shows how to attack the popular bases, and how to execute most TH9 attacks:

A final comment – the air blower has made dragon attacks at TH9 much harder. Dragons used to have a decent chance to 2-star a TH9 base, and although still possible, that percentage have certainly decreased. Even more reason to max everything at TH8, since you really need GoWiPe and Hogs to contribute as a new TH9.

SynCaine edit: To add to what Delpez wrote, at TH8+, especially once you have multiple attack types maxed (hogs, gowipe, lavaloonion), it becomes very important to carefully review the base you are attacking and build the correct mix of troops. To do this successfully you have to learn how many troops it will take to get something done.

For example, if there is a cannon or tower on the outside of the base without air defense coverage, a loon or two to take it out might make sense, but you need to learn and correctly estimate how many loons you will need to get the job done. If that attack can also pull the CC, that is a major bonus, and is again something to factor in to your overall attack plan/build.

In addition to bringing the correct troops, you should also actually plan out the attack how you expect it to go, as you often will have to drop certain troops at a certain time, rather than just dumping everything at the start like at lower TH levels. This takes a lot of practice, as predicting the AI in CoC is very difficult, and traps/teslas will also change things up for you. You will screw attacks up often, so don’t get discouraged.

On the other side of things, designing your base correctly is the reverse of attack planning. You want your base to be as difficult to predict as possible, and to ‘trick’ someone into thinking something will work against you. This is why taking a base off the internet isn’t recommended; while it might work well vs the average player who doesn’t do his research, against a skilled clan you are easy stars.

The best way to make a great base is to understand the basics of CoC AI, the basics of base design, and then refine your base design anytime someone around your level has a successful attack against it (if your are a TH8 and a TH10 gets 3-stars, not much you can do in terms of design).

Question for the clan: Would people be interested in the occasional trophy push? One weekend every month or so we all try to go as high as possible in trophies, just to see how high we can get our total as a clan. Just a ‘go for big numbers’ thing, but perhaps something fun to do as a clan? Drop a comment for yes/no and why.


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