Monday, February 27, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: In Need of a Gentleman Caller

Hmmm, yes I know how that sounds.

While I wait for further developments on several fronts, I've occupied some weekends playing the closed beta of BioWare Mythic's WAR inspired F2P, Wrath of Heroes.

If you're familiar with WAR but not so much WOH, so it goes that the game consists of basic scenario play with three factions, distinct from each other by color alone. You can pick from a variety of Heroes to play from, including Glowjob (I know that's not his name) the Shaman, Conrad the Warrior Priest and Korith the Shadow Warrior. For more detailed information go here. Or maybe ask me for it. But this is not what I'm here for right now.

You have the choice of pugging it out, hoping for a semi-cohesive group with people that half-know what they're doing (lol) or you can group up in a warband of six beforehand. The game actually incites you to group up as it not only reduces the time you have to wait for a pop but also awards you with more money at the end of a battle.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!
WOH has made something I used to know very clear again to me: it's all about the group as a whole. Just today (which is not actually today but more like two days ago) I was invited to a warband as soon as I logged on. I had no idea who had invited me and ended up amid strangers. Being the friendly healer that I am, I set forth to do my job, hoping that this Warband was somehow seasoned and people had pretty much figured out that the basic strategy for winning in a game where heals are restricted to AoEs is to stick together. How wrong I was. Six people spread as further as you can get in Mourkain Temple. So I facepalmed my way through a few scenarios, making what I hope were helpful suggestions but getting a lot of CAPS in reply.

Luckily for me, my effort was noticed by the leader of another Warband and I got a tell after a scenario was over praising me on my healing and asking if I needed to group up. Maker, yes. So I casually dropped the dysfunctional band I was with and accepted a new invite. And what a difference skill makes. In a game that has no gear or over-the-top skill customization, knowing what you're doing and grouping with like-minded individuals is all it takes to win.

Wrath of Heroes recently implemented something called Perks in their Heroes' mastery trees. These are skills that become available for activating once a certain criteria is met. The best thing about this is that you can buy one Hero and buy his Perk to utilize it on another Hero entirely. I say "best thing" because I haven't had to pay real money for Heroes yet. I guess that if I had it would be... not so great. But I digress.

The Skaven Hero has a Perk in his tree that allows him to turn into a Rat Ogre after a 13 assist streak. As a Skaven, assist streaks are a bit harder to get as it is a damage focused stealther. But as a healer... well... as long as your team is killing things, assist streaks are a dime a dozen. You can see where this is going, right?

Once I found a pretty decent Warband to join, things started melting like butter. Our six-man party consisted, most of the times, of three Shamans, the odd Warrior Priest, and two Engineers, sometimes a White Lion. When I got to use the Perk, the remaining healers did their best to keep me up and quite successfully. I once said I hated healers. I might have to recant that statement. The Rat Ogre has a pull on a one second cooldown (ô_Ô) and a knockdown with impressive damage on maybe a three second cooldown. It is enough to roflstomp most things without prejudice. If, added to that, you manage to find a boost that triples your damage, like I did that one time, you can knock things down for 1000 damage. 1k is the maximum hp of a  Shaman. So the Rat Ogre is fun. It is serious fun.

But I still haven't explained the title of this post, have I? Well.

Since joining an organized guild I became accustomed to a certain degree of organization in cooperative endeavors, especially when these endeavors consist of getting other things deaded. The main thing I miss about these groupings are the target callers. We'd always have one. As you would imagine, an enemy goes down faster when it has six people bashing it down than just one. A target caller, a person that can discern what enemy should go down first and says so, can be the most valuable weapon a faction has. It's the hand that guides the spear... or something equally poetic.

Managed a 15 kill streak before I died.
And since I'm horrible at staying alive, that's quite impressive.

Although we didn't have a target caller per se, WOH allows players to ping locations on the map, an easy, simple, straight forward way to get people where you want them. The main problem with this is that without a human actually yelling at them to move their fat asses, most people will take pinging more as suggestions than orders.

I've said it before and I shall say it again. Most of us players are mere sheep. Granted, some sheep provide better wool than others, but sheep. There are a few of us, though (no, I don't count myself among them) that are shepherds. (Ah, Shepard...) They'll guide the herd to safety and victory. These become your guild leaders, your warband leaders, your target callers.

And I wish I had one in real life.

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