A Guide for the Student on the Ways and Means of the Warg and the Stalking of Prey

Archive for February, 2012

Are There Too Many Wargs?

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The question is pretty simple, and the answer is too: yes. Taking the latest figures from the Black Appendage we can see that wargs make up approximately 30% of all active creeps across all servers. Let that figure sink in for a moment. Around a third of all creep players are playing as a warg.

When we look at how the other classes compare the next most popular is the Reaver with around 20% of players. Remember that the Reaver is the ‘default’ creep class in that it is free to play. Would it be as popular if it weren’t free? What about the freeps? Across all servers the Hunter is the most popular freep class, but the Hunter only make sup 20% or so of freep players. That’s a far cry from the 30% the warg enjoys.

Looking at the classes as a whole we see that each side has a few that are very popular, with some taking a ‘middle of the road’ share of the playerbase and some that are barely registering at all. The clear stand out class in this mixture is the warg, however, since it is heads and tails above all other classes in terms of popularity.

Why All The Wargs?

The obvious question to ask here is why? Some might say that it is the warg’s stealth abilities that make it so popular. After all who doesn’t like to creep around unnoticed and gank people before they even know what has happened? That appears to be a pretty good argument on the face of it, but hold on, if stealth makes the warg popular what about Burglars? Currently Burglars account for roughly 15% of the freep playerbase in the Ettens. That’s about half as much as the warg. If stealth were the driving factor shouldn’t Burglars be equally as popular?

In fact I do believe stealth is the driving factor for the warg’s popularity, but not for the reasons given above. If you look at the other creep classes three are languishing around the 8-10% mark (Weavers, Defilers and Warleaders) whilst two are hovering around 18-20% (Reaver and Blackarrow). The Reaver is a free class, which might explain its popularity, and despite recent nerfs the Blackarrow is in a reasonably good position in terms of gameplay.

Creeps start out very weak. A rank 0 creep does bugger all damage, has few skills, and is about as tough as paper underwear. In other words they die a lot. With few, if any, survival skills at low ranks is it any wonder new creep players might choose the one creep class that does have some reasonable survival mechanism at low ranks? The warg’s stealth might not be great at lower ranks, but it does at least mean a new player can wander around the map without being blown to pieces as much as a rank 0 spider.

This theory is borne out by the freep class distribution. If we look at the freep classes the difference in their share of the Ettenmoors’ playerbase is not all that varied with a few notable exceptions. Now not all freep classes are made equal in terms of effectiveness in PvMP, but they do all at least have one area where they are very good. For example, a new Hunter to the Moors may not be super tough, but they do still pack enough of a punch to get their kills effectively. A new Lore-master in PvMP may not have the gear and stats to survive every attack, but he does still have enough CC and damage to get his renown or be effective in a group/raid. In other words what I am saying is that a fresh faced level 75 freep, whilst not super strong, is strong enough to be viable from the get go.

A fresh faced creep on the other hand is in a pretty sorry state. With little going for them many players may decide to roll a warg and gain some measure of defence through stealth and I think we see this in the frankly ludicrous 30% of the playerbase that chooses to play as a warg.

So What’s The Answer?

I think there is a very simply means for the population imbalance to be addressed. The other creep classes need a bit more oomph from the start. That doesn’t mean buffing them to the high heavens, it simply means making sure they at least have a chance to survive and/or get a few kills. I don’t think that is the case at the moment, and after some testing with non-warg creep classes that opinion has been reinforced for me.

A more balanced population creep side is better for everyone, wargs included. Hopefully with the updates coming to the Weaver we will start to see that imbalance being addressed. Let us hope the other creep classes receive similar updates.


Wargs Getting Buffed! Send For The QQ Brigade!

With the upcoming changes to wargs in Update 6 there has been a fair bit of QQ from the usual suspects over various aspects of the changes. One of the biggest sources of QQ has been the emphasis placed on promoting wargs to group in packs. The regular reader of this blog will be well aware of the enormous QQ that regularly erupts over the madcap notion of wargs grouping up, but with these changes the QQ seems to be gaining new momentum.

I’m not going to re-hash previous posts on this subject, I’m simply going to cover two important points related to this update. The first of which centres on the new abilities wargs are getting i.e. Topple and the unbreakable root.

Oh Noes I Can’t Get Away!

One of the QQ arguments with these skills is that a pack of wargs will be able to lock a target in place and demolish them and that this isn’t fair. Well let’s just look at this for a moment because this really isn’t anything new. A pack of wargs can already destroy a single target pretty quickly so what is the difference here? It’s the idea that the freep won’t be able to move whilst it’s happening that is causing the panic.

There are two things I would say about this. Number one is that this will really only impact classes that have become too used to popping speed enhancing skills and/or bubbles, etc to skip out of danger. For the likes of Hunters, etc it’s really just business as usual given that they have little survivability once actually engaged by a pack. In other words this unbreakable root seems to be more a case of upsetting those who are a little too used to getting away.

The second point is that the warg using this skill will also be rooted in place. That means the freeps have a chance to kill that warg, and a relatively good chance compared with normal play given that the warg will be a sitting duck. If anything this should be welcomed by freeps because it means a warg is placing himself right in the firing line and giving his opponents a better crack at taking him down.

They’re Playing That Old Tune Again

The other major point here is the warg pack itself. I saw a great quote (great for all the wrong reasons) on the forum today and thought I’d share it with you:

This update is just giving bad players playing wargs more reasons to pack up instead of learning their class and playing as well as the top 5-6 wargs on their server

There is so much wrong with this statement it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Let’s start with the notion that joining a pack somehow means you can’t learn how to play a warg. Well that is not only false it is actually contrary to how many, perhaps even most, wargs actually do learn to play their class. A freshly rolled warg on his first day is not only weak, he is inexperienced. How does he gain experienced? He joins other wargs. Playing in a pack allows the new wargs to learn from the older wargs; they can pick up useful tips, gain advice on traits and skills; see how certain abilities are used in practice; watch how more experienced wargs handle certain situations and so on. Far from retarding a warg’s learning curve the pack accentuates it and makes them a better warg.

Another point here is the idea that the ‘top 5-6 wargs’ don’t play in packs. This is a pretty sweeping statement. Is this true for all servers? I know that on the server I play on the top wargs do join packs as well as playing solo. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this was the case on other servers too. The idea that wargs reach some sort of plateau where they no longer play in packs at all is patently false. Some individual players may not enjoy packs, etc, but that is a rather different statement than saying that the best wargs simply do not play in packs.

Last, but not least, is the implied notion that playing in a pack requires no skill when compared to playing solo. Again this is simply untrue as any warg who regularly plays in a pack knows all too well. In fact it could be argued that playing in a pack requires more skill than playing solo, or at the very least an equal, albeit different, level of skill. You have to be mindful of positioning; you have to react quickly to orders; you have to be aware of what everyone else in the pack is doing; you have to control your skill usage and so on.

What we actually have with this sort of QQ is the same tired old arguments against warg packs and they all rest on the same basic principle: I was ganked and I feel it is unfair. There is nothing new at all here.


Warg Dev Diary

Yesterday Turbine posted the dev diary for the warg changes we heard about from Orion a few weeks ago. The dev diary itself doesn’t really contain anything new that we didn’t already hear from Orion. There was a typo in the diary that saw Flayer stance listed as a rank 15 skill, but Sapience quickly cleared that up and clarified that it will in fact be a rank 10 skill. Sapience also stated that Flayer stance will be replacing Shadow Howler, so if you already have Shadow Howler for your warg it should automatically convert into Flayer stance once Update 6 goes live.

I have posted the dev diary below in its entirety:

Summary:

Wargs have always been the stealth class of the Ettenmoors. Using the element of surprise to their advantage, they can be devastating to square off with one versus one. However, once exposed from stealth, they usually end up dead in a matter of moments due to their low survivability. This guerilla warfare like playstyle, while fun, feel limiting. The changes made in this update were to address this specific issue.

This update the Warg will have two distinct playstyles that players can choose: The fragile stealthier or the scrapping brawler. For the Warg that has been dying to charge in and ferociously rip their opponents apart while soaking up damage, your time has come.

Stances:

The Warg is being outfitted with two new stances: Shadow and Flayer.

Shadow Stance:

  • “You attack your enemy from every shadow, dealing devastating damage.”
  • Unlocks: Rank 1
  • Cooldown: 10 seconds (shared with Flayer)
  • Melee damage increased
  • Moderate in-combat power regeneration
  • Some skills will always execute as “From Stealth”

Flayer Stance (Replaces Shadow Howler):

  • “Forsaking speed and surprise for defense, you become a juggernaut on the battlefield.”
  • Unlocks: Rank 10
  • Cooldown: 10 seconds (shared with Shadow)
  • Cannot stealth or disappear while in this stance.
  • Moderately Increases:
    • Armour value
    • Tactical mitigation
    • Physical mitigation
  • Places a morale bubble on the Warg which refreshes every 7 seconds. When the bubble pops, the Warg receives 1% of its max health. If the bubble is not popped, the Warg gains 5% of its max health.
  • Unable to stealth in this stance.
  • Certain abilities have “Brute Bonuses” which have a chance to add additional debuffs to your target.

Skill Changes:

The following skills will be altered to help drive players into the two new stances.

Stealth and Brute:

Stealth will become a new ability in Flayer named Brute. Brute will increase your chance to unlock the brute bonuses for your abilities.

Disappear and Topple:

Since you are unable to stealth in Flayer, Disappear will also become a new ability named Topple.

Topple:

  • Knocks your target to the ground for a long duration.
  • Shares a cooldown with Disappear.

Throat Rip and Muscle Tear:

While in Shadow Stance or no stance, Throat Rip will function as it had previously; silencing your target for a long duration. However if you are in Flayer Stance, Throat Rip becomes Muscle Tear.

Muscle Tear:

  • Decreased target’s movement speed and attack speed for a long duration.

Changes to Snap:

In Flayer Stance or no stance, Snap will do the following:

  • Reduce melee, ranged, and tactical damage on the target.
  • On critical: disarm the target for a short duration.

In Shadow Stance, it will become Snap! The major difference is instead of disarming the target; it will silence them for 5 seconds.

Claws Changes:

  • No Stance: Claws
    • Deal good common damage
    • Bonus damage when attacking from behind
    • Light power cost
  • Shadow Stance: Bestial Claws
    • Increased damage of Claws
    • Bonus damage when attacking from behind
    • Increased power cost of Claws
  • Flayer Stance: Raking Claw
    • Same up front damage as Claws
    • Applies a damage over time effect that does about half the upfront damage
      • This effect stacks up to three times.
    • Chance to activate Brute Bonus:
      • Places a wound on the target that will interrupt inductions every few seconds for duration of effect

Maul Changes:

  • No Stance: Maul
    • Deal common damage
    • Common bleed damage
    • Bonus damage when attacking from behind
    • On critical: Reduces incoming healing
  • Shadow Stance: Sudden Maul
    • Slightly increased Maul damage
    • Slightly increased Maul bleed damage
    • Bonus damage when attacking from behind
    • On Critical: Grants attack speed buff.
  • Flayer Stance: Agonizing Maul
    • Moderately increased Maul damage
    • Moderately increased Maul bleed damage
    • Chance to activate Brute Bonus:
      • Reduces incoming healing.

Savage Fangs Changes:

  • No Stance: Savage fangs
    • Increases attack duration of target
    • Reduces target’s block rating.
    • If Crippling Bite is present, adds a bleeding effect
  • Shadow Stance: Shadow Fangs
    • Increases induction duration of target
    • Reduces target’s parry rating.
    • If Crippling Bite is present, adds a bleeding effect
  • Flayer Stance: Brutal Fangs
    • Increases attack duration of target
    • Reduces target’s parry rating
    • If Crippling Bite is present, adds a bleeding effect
    • Chance to activate Brute Bonus:
      • Reduces armour rating of target.

Dire Howl Changes:

  • No Stance: Dire Howl
    • Silences multiple targets
  • Shadow Stance: Howl from the Shadow
    • Silences even more targets than Dire Howl
  • Flayer Stance: Howl of Aggression
    • Disarms multiple targets.

Changes to Eye Rake:

  • No Stance: Eye Rake
    • Deals good damage
    • Interrupts inductions
  • Shadow Stance: Eye Gouge
    • Deals good damage
    • Increased damage from behind
    • Interrupts inductions
    • From Stealth:
      • Decreases range of all ranged skills
  • Flayer Stance: Eye Gash
    • Deals good damage
    • Interrupts inductions
    • Chance to activate Brute Bonus:
      • Lowers target’s block, parry, and evade rating.

Changes to Pack Hunters:

Pack Hunters will be the only racial skill that will be changing to accommodate the new stances. If a pack of Wargs successfully uses all the variations of this skill to their advantage, they can become a force to be reckoned with.

  • No stance: Pack Hunters
    • Adds a damage boosting effect to the target.
    • Cooldown: 30s
  • Shadow Stance: Shadow Pack
    • The Warg marks his territory, lowering the defenses of all enemies who enter it.
    • Cooldown: 60s
  • Flayer Stance: Pack Flayers
    • Applies an unbreakable root to the target and the Warg. During this channel, the target is unable to block, parry, or evade.
    • Cooldown: 60s

Warg Changes Analysis Part IV – Topple

It’s time to take a look at the 800lb gorilla in the room … Topple. Now you may have missed this in all the QQ over Pack Flayers, but it’s definitely worth taking a closer look. In a nutshell it’s a knockdown that will share it’s cooldown with Disappear. Indeed, it is Disappear. Whilst in Flayer stance Disappear is transformed into Topple. Unfortunately Orion didn’t say exactly how long the knockdown lasted, just that it would last for a ‘good chunk of time’. What that means is anyone’s guess, but a safe bet is that it will be at least 5sec. Tendon Shred already gives us a 5sec knockdown so it seems reasonable to expect Topple to at least meet that minimum requirement.

Now the question with this skill is whether it is actually going to be useful or not. On the face of it a knockdown sounds very useful, especially one that will last for a ‘good chunk of time’. However, we have to remember that this will be on the same cooldown as Disappear. That’s a 10min cooldown we will be burning and if we do use Topple presumably Disappear is then also on cooldown. That’s a big big cooldown to blow for a knockdown.

Whether Enhanced Skill: Disappear will affect Topple’s cooldown remains to be seen (hopefully it will), but even if it does 7min is still a big cooldown to use up. When would this be useful?

Without being able to test it out it’s hard to say exactly when this would be used. However, since knockdowns are not affected by diminishing returns like other crowd control methods it is a useful means of CC. It is also worth considering the description ‘a good chunk of time’. Perhaps this might be useful against the like of Minstrels who can simply stand there self-healing whilst you vainly try to burn them down. Knockdowns aren’t potable and a long lasting one might just be enough to actually get one of these buggers down.

I’m not sold on this skill yet. It sounds as if it could be interesting, but I think it’s going to be situational. Certainly the freep whining over it should stop, if for no other reason than it will likely not be used very often given the long cooldown and the fact that it will liekly put Disappear on cooldown.


The Problem Of Many

Are too many wargs bad for the Ettenmoors? You might expect me to say no, of course not. However, I do actually believe that too many wargs out there are bad for PvMP in general. Now the same could be said about any class really, one only has to look at the current Champion and Minstrel populations to see that. What makes things so bad with wargs though is that we are a stealth class.

Let me be clear here, I am not saying that people should not play a Warg, they should because we are awesome, but it is better for the overall balance of PvMP if wargs don’t make up the huge proportion of the creep player base the they currently do. If you look at the statistics for each server on the Black Appendage site you will see that it is not uncommon for wargs to make up anywhere between 30-40% of a given server’s creep population. That is an extraordinarily high number for any one class, let alone a stealth class.

So what is the problem? Well simply put people find stealth classes annoying. Now in their proper proportion this is bearable. However, when that stealth class is accounting for 1 out of every 3 of the opponents you face it can become unbearable.

Too many wargs can make it very difficult for freeps, and even other creeps, to play the game properly. Freeps get constantly ganked at every turn to the point where they simply log off. That isn’t good for anyone. It also makes it harder for other creeps to get kills when packs of wargs are killing freeps before they can even get to where the action is supposed to be.

Now the answer isn’t to nerf wargs or make them less desirable to play. The answer is to make the other creep classeds more desirable to play than they currently are. We have already seen some inkling of the with Kelsan’s recent post about Weavers. The same needs to be done for the other creep classes. Make them more desirable to play and we should see a more balanced creep side.

A drop in Warg numbers is actually a good thing for wargs. With fewer wargs around it means freeps are more likely to stick around, which means more kills for wargs. It also means that wargs become less of a target for the freeps as with more creeps from other classes around they will present easier pickings for the freeps.


Site Update Coming

For those wondering, yes I will be updating the various guides and strategies when the Update 6 Warg changes go live. These look to be pretty extensive changes to the Warg class so it will take time to analyse them all and test them out. Obviously I can’t update the guides etc before I’ve had a chance to see how all these changes play out. That will take time.


Warg Changes Analysis Part III – Flayer Bubble/Heal

The recently announced changes for the warg class coming with Update 6 have of course brought out the usual uninformed hysteria that characterises any half decent creep update. One such morsel of freep rage was this comment posted on the forum the other day:

You guys wanted your massive warg buff? Enjoy. Just try not to complain if a champ uses multiple bubbles against you now, since the whole ‘bubble every 7 seconds/5% morale heal if not/1% morale heal if removed’ skill is the most OP thing I’ve ever seen.

The poster was speaking about the new bubble/heal mechanic associated with Flayer stance. Now before I get into why the above statement is just plain ludicrous let’s take a look at what we know about the Flayer stance bubble/heal mechanic.

Orion stated that the bubble would refresh once every 7sec, however, Orion hasn’t given a value for the bubble, he merely said that it would be ‘small’. Now that is a bit vague of course, small could mean anything from 50-500 morale. Once every 7sec a check is made for the bubble: if the bubble is burned through the warg is healed for 1% of his maximum morale and the bubble is reapplied. If the bubble has not been burned through the warg is healed for 5% of his maximum morale.

Warg morale can vary considerably depending upon how the warg is traited and what rank he is. Lower ranked wargs might only have 8.5k morale, whilst a higher ranked warg might have as much as 13k. For lower ranked wargs a 1% heal might only equate to 85 morale. For a higher ranked warg it might be in the region of 125 morale. Hardly big numbers.

In terms of the 5% heal we might be looking at anywhere from 425-625 morale. Again hardly major numbers. There is an additional factor to consider with the 5% heal; it only procs if the bubble is still there at the end of 7sec. How likely will that be? Well that depends upon how big the bubble is, but if it is indeed ‘small’ then I think it’s a safe bet to assume that it probably won’t be holding up very well in the face of some of the massive crits freeps can achieve. Thus we may have a situation where the 5% heal simply doesn’t proc very often.

Is This The Most OP Thing Ever?

This is about as far from the most OP thing ever as you can get. It looks to be a fairly well balanced system that will offer some additional survivability, but not take the warg into the realm of … well Champions. What is particularly striking about the quote above is the suggestion that Champions are not currently using multiple bubbles when fighting wargs. I can’t say I have seen many Champions holding back on these.

Currently Shadow Howler (the stance Flayer stance will replace) offers wargs 2,000 temporary morale per minute. I would be highly surprised if Orion had implemented a system that drastically changes this. We don’t know the value of the bubble, but by the looks of the heals we’re not looking at any large numbers here.