What's there to complain about?
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 October 2014, 1:07 am
I love a good complain. Change anything and I bet I can complain about it. And that's why the pre-warlords patch has me so angry. I'm at a loss for legitimate complaints. Oh sure, I have a few, but it's just not enough for a frothy-mouthed rage.

As might be expected, I'm a bit peeved about the switching of UBRS. And at first I found it to be terribly boring. Then I remembered an old pet peeve: people who watch TV while playing: paying no attention, making mistakes without even noticing), and generally making me wonder why they're even logged in. I'd become one of those people.

Pausing Netflix, I turned the sound back on, and focused on the game. Suddenly I could heard what I'd been missing, and generally notice. I pulled more carefully, rewired the gun turrets to help us, and soaked in as much fun as I could. Turns out, there's actually a bit of fun to be had. Maybe when it isn't half an instance I'll enjoy it more. In the meantime, it's nice to run a place where I can actually die if I play badly. I need to remember to bring my ring from LBRS to see if I can get a second Vael.

On the other hand, I like how the weird squish-non-squish has screwed up the already-broken tuning of old raids. Everything dies as if it were meant to be soloed, perhaps because Blizzard realized that people are typically running these solo or in small groups. I wouldn't say they're "tuned" for that, not in the sense that they're remotely challenging for such groups. It was fun to be able to just run straight into some of these places and knock them out without trying to rally friends to the cause, what with their annoying habits of having lives outside of outdated raids.

The invasion event was mildly interesting, though also almost an exact copy-paste between Alliance and Horde. Oh no, my filler content wasn't carefully customized for each faction! At this point the Iron Horde seems somewhat generic, but it probably doesn't help that I've seen literally nothing about the expansion outside of the game and whatever I saw on wowhead while looking for UBRS loot.

People in trade are mad about the squish, or some ability being removed, or... something or other. It's an enlightened bunch. Someone claims the squish ruined everything. As best as I can tell, in practical terms nothing changed, except that my Thunderfury, due to a fully-powered proc, seems to work just fine. (I got buffed! Wee!) I am still in the habit of trying to refresh Inquisition. I asked in trade if hunters still need mana; someone replied that they never needed mana. Jokes are wasted on some people.

I'm glad to have an enchanter; strange dust is selling well in pairs, thanks to the Fire and Poetry event, though I'm guessing that will slow down as people finish the quest. And then pick up again as people realize they haven't finished the quest.

Trolls look weird when they run.



Farewell, Brawler's Guild
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 October 2014, 8:23 am
Since The Great Betrayal soon after Cataclysm, I've been a bit spotty on the raiding front. My rogue did some in Cataclysm, but mostly LFR and I saw nothing outside of Dragon Soul beside a few wipes on whatever the first boss in the first raid was. Mists of Pandaria has mostly been LFR for me, because finding guilds is not my strong point and I'm not interested in PUG raids.

As a result, I've been missing on the challenge high, of failing over and over until I get it right, and then feeling amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't give the Brawler's Guild much attention. The best time to do it is first thing in the morning, which is also the best time for me to forget what I was planning to do.

Then I heard rumors that it would be gone. I misinterpreted this as gone gone, gone forever, Cataclysmed gone. So, with no time to lose, the Friday before patch day, I started Brawler's Guild. And then immediately wished I'd started sooner. It turns out that, despite my ranking as the number one level 90 paladin with a partial Justicar transmog on my server, I couldn't one-shot everything.

It all began with Hexos. In a way, that was a great boss, because it forced me to actually learn how to DPS without paying much attention. A momentary distraction from the pink of death was death. Over the many, many, many attempts, I reworked some keybindings, finally macroed my gloves, potions, and wings together, and stopped clicking rend. Then I died some more, until finally, I won, and then worried that I'd pass out because a pot of coffee does not constitute a complete breakfast. Good times.

 From there I learned that, those things which are fought least are also fixed least. The snake was awful, filled with either bugs or just bad behavior. It would stop for no clear reason and get a stack, one of which is enough to end the fight. It would drop poison directly in its path. I hated that fight, not for being a crazy gimmick like Hexos, but for being a badly-made fight. The fire elemental angered me almost as much, though it at least took fewer tries. The stun would fail and the elementals would seem to go out of their way to run into the fire. But I beat them, and it felt great because it had not been easy and because I'd gotten better in the process.

Then finally the paladin. While it took fewer tries, I think it was a more accurate skill check than Hexos. Adapting movement to a rapidly-changing situation, seeing small changes, identifying the goal, timing, and finally winning a harsh DPS race. That's almost everything someone would need for an actual raid, beside other people.

And yet, there were other people. It had some of the social elements of raiding. There was the begging for a res from the person who had gone AFK and blamed you for dying. There was the delay as other people failed in their own unique ways. There was the every-growing repair bill. And there was the congratulations, because when everyone is trying to get the achievements on the last available weekend, they tend to stick around and recognize each other. We'd offer advice, learn from them, and cheer and smile as they finally beat a boss. It was a temporary crowd, but somehow, this solo activity seemed to bring people together better than LFR.

So here's to you, Brawler's Guild!

Next time, please have more arenas; it's not fun waiting 15 minutes for a fight.



The Long Dark
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 October 2014, 3:55 pm
I saw this the other day, looked interesting. Don't Starve had been a good bit of fun, this reminded me of it. Ha. Don't Starve is a walk in the park in comparison.


This isn't a base-building game. You don't get fancier toys as you go along. You might get none, stuck smashing cans of pork and beans, losing precious calories as they spill on the floor. Then you find one, and it is your precious. You sit shivering in your unheated cabin, fixing a can opener with scraps of metal, knowing that the wolf might still be outside.

It mauled me on the way in. I bandaged myself, applied my only bottle of antiseptic, and slept. I woke up hungrier than ever. Outside was a deer carcass, but I lacked the tools needed to gather any meat.

I did what anyone else would do: I walked outside, nearly dead from hunger, shivering, and barely conscious from lack of sleep, and shot my five bullets at the stars.

At this point there's not a lot of content: one 'sandbox' map and no story mode. But I see a lot of potential. It's not a game that encourages wandering, because that's how you end up like the frozen corpses that you find here and there. But you must explore, so it pushes you onward to find food, and firewood, but the cold and fatigue want you to stay here, where it is warm and peaceful. You can be perfectly safe for the moment, and doomed to die if you don't go out to face the wolves.

 I'd say this game is like a small box of legos. There is a lot of potential for fun, but at the moment, you're pretty much limited to a very small spaceship. Note: There are no spaceships, but there is supposedly a secret bunker somewhere with great wealth, which means lots of fire wood.



DPS the targets in this order that is always changing, or we all die
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 July 2014, 7:00 am
I'd decided to give healing a try again. It was never my strength. I might even dare to say that I am awful at it. And yet, I cannot help but blame how healing is done.

Let us imagine if DPS had a two dozen targets. Each one would need to be attacked within a particular time, hit a certain amount, or else the raid could wipe. These targets would change unpredictably and frequently. There are too many to simply assign a DPS to each one. They have to each, somehow, know which one to damage, and make these decisions within fractions of a second. Meanwhile the healers keep healing their targets, because their healers are too damn stupid to not make their jobs harder.

Wouldn't that be terribly unfun?

With a coordinated group, perhaps it would be doable. With a small group, only five or ten, it would be doable. But when your DPS are dropped into a chaotic mob of uh, chaos, it gets to be more difficult. The mobs move, so you lock them in place, but of course if you lock their positions, then you can't really see what's going on in the fight and it becomes that much harder to predict what little you could before.

My own experience has always been rocky. I'd done it about since I started playing, here and there. I love filling in for a lost healer or a tough spot. As a primary job, I am just not good at it. I never have been. I tended to get mad at it, and yet often got stuck doing it. Something about it just doesn't work with my brain. Maybe it's just a lack of practice. It is not unlikely that a lack of gear causes some problems as well; I only just created an incomplete Timeless set, without a weapon, no trinkets or rings, and so on. I'm sure it adds up to a blue set, but when the tanks pull like they're expecting a healer in purples, I don't see myself as overgeared.

On the plus side, I had a lot of fun trying to figure out macros to make it work. Somehow I had managed to fit all my prot and ret abilities into an action bar and a half. I roll to another bar if I need AoE and some are macroed to fit in extra spells. Holy has not quite managed to fit comfortably. On the plus side, I may find use for my mouseover macros elsewhere; though ironically, they don't work as well when the spells are bound to mouse buttons. For some reason mouseover doesn't work on party portraits when the macros are bound to my mouse.

And of course, above all, it is something new to learn. I like having those things.

The other day I went healing with some friends. One was used to healing, so we made him DPS. The other tanked as usual. I learned that the second-to-last boss in Niuzao Temple does not summon adds if you're alone, and his damage isn't actually that high, so as the last one standing I was able to slowly, very very slowly, kill him for about 10% before my friends told me to stop wasting the time of the PUG people. I granted their request to no longer grace the group with my greatness and switched to ret for the last boss. Somehow having far superior gear in a role that I am more experience with led to a better outcome.

I'll heal some more. Some. 



At least Engineering is supposed to do that, but Blacksmithing is terrifying
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 July 2014, 1:43 pm
Copper. Tin. Iron. So far, so good. These are all fairly safe things. What about mithril. Is it dangerous to smelt and work with it in an open setting in the middle of a major city? Or worse, an unventilated room?

Then there's thorium. That's a nuclear fuel. Can you imagine if people were commonly melting down uranium, purifying it, and then making armor with that? What happens to the slag? Do we purify it to get the more or less radioactive isotopes? What about the radium that is generated by decaying thorium? Powdered thorium can spontaneously burn in air at near-normal temperatures, though that's true of many metals. It should have no problem exploding in a forge.

Just to the next expansion and we're working with fel iron. Fel iron? As in, iron that has been corrupted by demonic energy? It's not as if we forge it into something that isn't demonic, making either fel iron bars or felsteel. That is followed by adamantium, which is likely mostly safe, and given the willingness of vendors to purchase it, seems to have some ability to be recycled. Due to its name and rarity, I'd guess that khorium is terribly radioactive or in some way unstable. Why we would then mix that with demon-tainted iron is anyone's guess.

Cobalt. Well cobalt doesn't sound so scary, right? It really isn't, except for cobalt-rich ores tending to produce arsenic when smelted. It is named from kobold (which means goblin). And for some reason, despite being commonly found as a by-product of copper production in real life, it is instead found in pure form and is never seen during copper production. Perhaps it isn't actually cobalt and we've been working with some terrifying other mineral. Or it comes from meteor impacts. But how often do we see meteors? How much more often do we see infernals crash down?

Saronite is the blood of an Old God.

Elementium and Obsidium don't sound like anything all that scary, though it is a little odd that we only discover the latter after Deathwing triggers the Cataclysm. The original elementium was also an extraordinarily rare and expensive alloy created from a variety of materials recovered from hostile elementals. The new version is much easier to find and smelt, but is entirely incompatible, suggesting that, despite having the same name, it is something different. What are we working with? Pyrite is a sulfur-iron compound, which seems dangerous to be smelting, and who knows how we're turning that into something other than poor-quality iron bars.

Ghost iron.

Kyparite, as best as I can tell, is fossilized amber. That's where you get transgender dinosaurs, a stirring soundtrack, and certain death.

Engineering is supposed to be horribly dangerous and irresponsible. But blacksmithing? No one said that it would be hammering radiation, demons, ghosts, and congealed madness into armor.



Cobalt: This one weird ore that can make you lose your mind in just a few minutes
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 July 2014, 6:43 pm
Why it was okay that fel iron and cobalt were annoying to find

Once upon a time when leveling took a while, it was not unreasonable to need a lot of a crafting material to level the profession. You'd be out in the world so much that you were bound to get what you needed. Ores such as cobalt were widely-dispersed and tricky to gather without flying mounts. Yet you got them.

Upon hitting the cap, you likely needed the other ores more. So there were more of them. Saronite could come out the wazoo. Adamantium could also come out the wazoo. Meanwhile, fel iron would remain persistent even in higher level zones because it was still needed for high level items.

These are all fine and dandy when you're in a leveling-capping situation. These days, it becomes a problem. You may level out of the cobalt zones before you've naturally farmed enough. Then you're in the saronite-flooded zones for plenty long, a situation made especially noticeable thanks to the level 80 start on Cata, rather than the 58-60 or 68-70 that could fudge the starts and ends of continents a bit. So you have saronite out the wazoo, but there aren't capped crafters setting ten dozen stacks of saronite ore on fire to make a single "Boots of the Pretty Good That Can Get you Started on Raiding".

There are two ways to fix this. One way is to slow down leveling. The other is to replace some saronite with cobalt. My money is on the Third Way: ignore the problem.



Shared Health
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 July 2014, 8:11 pm
What if groups shared a health pool?

Incoming damage is calculated, and able to be seen, individually (no hiding that you were in the fire). It then feeds into a larger, combined health pool. Overall damage taken in unchanged. If the entire raid takes damage, then the proportional spike is as big as ever. If a particular player takes damage, just as much healing is needed. But, the spikes that hit individual players are proportionally smaller relative to the health pool, giving more time to deal with such things. More importantly, this cuts the number of health bars to deal with by 80%. Now the 25-man raid has as many health bars as a five-man instance.

I'd heal that.

Coming tomorrow, the post you've all been waiting for: Cobalt ore.



That guy who leaves the party and comes back and then pretends he never actually left...
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 July 2014, 8:24 pm
It just leaves us thinking that he spent the past two hours in the bathroom.

Apparently at some point I stopped writing posts. I cannot imagine that it was because I had nothing to complain about. Here, a list:

  • Requiring specific BGs for the legendary cloak
  • PvP pet battles
  • My inability to ignore cross-server
  • Healing
  • Not having three specs
  • PvP having a gear grind
  • Not being Horde (I admit it, I think male trolls and female blood elves look awesome)
  • Cobalt nodes
  • The next expansion (nothing in particular; I just get angry at change)
  • My usual bank alt name being unavailable on Blackhand
  • Healers who heal DPS who pull
  • DPS being allowed to talk
  • Groups that don't kill Ahune during the first submerge
  • The valor cap during the Have Lots of Valor in-game event
  • The lack of target dummies for healing

Where does one start? By putting that in another post, of course!

In the meantime, some positive things. I'll try not to make this a habit.

Despite three months to do so, I have not yet been fired. Madison has a lot of farmers markets. I met some cool people. I'm moving to a larger apartment. There is a bag of popcorn just out of reach, so that if I really want it, I can get it, but I won't waste it on a stupid whim (sorry, I might have just slipped into another complaint about badly-implemented 'accessibility'). And I'm still playing WoW, alongside a few other games.



Even if not great, Hearthstone is still really good
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 May 2014, 8:28 am
I've been having a lot of fun in Hearthstone. I saw the potential for more fun and decided to pay actual money to buy a lot of packs. This increased the fun.

With a flood of cards I was able to fill in a lot of decks, and create a lot of possibilities for new ones. These are no mere Lots of Powerful Cards decks. They have themes, ideas, goals. The cards are meant to work together. While certainly some of the increased fun comes from having a generally more powerful set of cards to draw from, at least as much comes from the greater complexity as I can call on a wider variety of mechanics and find new ways for them to fit together.

At the simple end this just means a rogue Combo mechanic: play one card and the next is more powerful. This creates some same-turn order of operations to consider. Throw in something like a Gadgetzan Auctioner and Violet Teacher and it turns into a spellcasting deck. Alternatively, I could have tried for a weapon-based deck, filled with daggers, poisons, and some minions and affect or are affected by weapons. The latter isn't as much fun for me; it's too direct.

Somewhere in the middle is my warrior deck based on enrage mechanics. It has a lot of minions with enrage and a lot of abilities that cause minor amounts of damage. This makes attacking a delicate matter for both me and my enemy. The minions don't have a great deal of health, so the line between enraged and dead is very thin. Frankly, this deck doesn't work particularly well; I need to get more charge effects in so minions don't just get knocked out after they enter. But it can be a bit of fun.

At the extreme other end is my priest. By itself it isn't particularly powerful. I don't have any cards in it that will win a game. Instead, it's based entirely on stealing my opponent's power. I copy their cards, I mind-control their minions, I clone them, and then I kill them. This gives it an element of unpredictability as I could steal great cards, or terrible ones. As for cloning, I don't know what my opponent might play, let alone when, so I have to guess based on what is on the board and what strategy they might be using. It also means that I have to play two heroes at once: my priest and whoever I stole from.

I love my priest deck. It's an absolute blast, at least for me. I suspect my opponents hate it, because so much of it consists of stealing anything good they have and turning it against them. But that just makes it their own fault. I don't even have Velen, let alone two, so it's not my fault if I cast a Holy Nova for 8 damage and healing.



Vash'jir was the best zone in Cataclysm
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 May 2014, 10:55 am
It's like they say, "Second time's the charm." They were too impatient for the third. Anyway, I ran Vash'jir on my warlock. It was pretty awesome.

The first time around I just entirely missed the story. I read the quests, but I never put them together into a complete story. I missed the forest for the greens.

Speaking of greens, it's pretty. I didn't realize just how much better it looks than Hyjal. Of course by the story they're telling, Hyjal is supposed to be a dark, burnt-out, smoke-filled wasteland. It's not a failure to deliver, I just didn't like what they were delivering. In general, my favorite zones are green, orange, or white. Grizzly Hills: green and awesome. Durotar, Silithus, and Barrens: orange and nostalgia-filled. Alterac Valley, Storm Peaks, Winterspring: white and filled with awesome, nostalgia, and excellent music. On the other hand, Icecrown is white, but also very dark, so maybe it's more like grey, and I really only like it because fighting with the Ebon Blade is just plain fun.

Vash'jir is colorful, but not garish. It isn't filled with humming purple crystals. On the other hand, if you pop up to the surface, it's just flat. The island over which we're fighting is a small atoll, of no use except as a naval base to attack Stormwind. It's obviously just a battle for the sake of a war. The water is flat, perfectly flat, without any features at all. Maybe that's lazy design, but it's also perfect for indicating that you are in the middle of nowhere, stranded.

That's the story: war and folly leaving us stranded. I'd somehow managed to miss that this isn't a zone of triumphant victory. It's us sailing off to glorious battle and getting our asses handed to us by a much worse enemy. It's an entire zone of us fleeing for our lives, trying to accomplish a little bit while we can. We're not rescuing lost marines out of kindness, but out of absolute necessity: we have no reserves, no backup, and no army. We cobble together a decent fight here and there, only to retreat when we find that our enemy is orders of magnitude more powerful than we expected. At the end of the zone we lose.

In Hyjal, despite the gloominess of it all, we won, driving out Ragnaros, rejuvenating large parts of the land, waking the ancients, and killing a whole lot of Twilight cultists along the way. It's essentially an unending march toward victory. Vash'jir is a beautiful zone of crushing defeat. Yet, it's not entirely a lost cause. We accomplish a lot while we're there, dealing major blows to the Naga and Old Gods; it's just not enough.

I like a little desperation in a story. I like the feeling that our victory is not pre-ordained, but is something that we will struggle for, and not get the first time around. While Hyjal consisted of us waking up the ancients so they could do the heavy lifting for us, Vash'jir was us doing the hard work, and everyone got creative with everything from improvised explosives to finding air to breathe.

My title might be hyperbole, since I think Twilight Highlands was great, particularly on a PvP server, but Vash'jir is definitely competitive, and makes the other zones look simplistic, ugly, and boring in comparison.



The Cruelty of the Server Transfer
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 May 2014, 7:30 am
Transferring characters feels weird. It's like moving, but when you can go back anytime, and you're the people left behind too.

I imagine that, if they could thin, those characters would be rather angry. In the time leading up to the transfer they may have dramatic shifts in their routines. The bank alt is in a rush to move inventory. The farmers stop. The character who is moving shifts into a bag-emptying mode, trying to maximize space for all the things that they'll be ferrying.

The characters may have once been part of an integrated economy. Resources would flow between them. The main always got the profits, or was reserved the right to anything it wanted, but there remained some back and forth. An alt might raise a trade skill, get gold for flying, or some few scraps of gear. It wasn't much, but it was something slipping out of the tight fists of the main character.

Soon before the move, one character after another is forced to mail off most or all of their gold. Items that cannot be sold on the auction house may be liquidated at a vendor.

The flow of resources moves in one direction from then on. It is a black hole.

Once it has moved, the main becomes a white hole. A bank alt is created and resources pour out to it. Other alts may be born, also receiving a large flow of resources. Where once there was nothing, from the main grows a new economy.

Yet, do not mistake this for growth. There is left behind a cast of characters. They once picked, mined, skinned, disenchanted, and looted just as well, if not better, than these new alts. They aren't destroyed, not exactly, but where they once had a purpose, to support the main and to grow around it, they are now disconnected, adrift, and without purpose.

As the cycle repeats itself with the main seeker further, greener pastures, more alts are born and left to rot. Eventually some may be deleted to make room for new ones. Most will be insignificant losses, generic names of generic characters who were never interesting enough to play. For them it is a mercy, created with the intention, but not devotion, to be played. The names recycle, the character spaces open up, and the account goes on.

The server list remains littered with broken character stables: bank alts, particular farming professions, a profession alt who could have been somebody, could have been a crafter. They might, at times, reignite when an alt looks interesting, like a stray gas cloud falling into a dwarf star. For the briefest of moments it may ignite, yet will likely grow dim again.

But once or twice, that cloud was enough to light a spark, to draw in more, and to make a blazing sun big enough to form its own solar system of characters. And then, it too collapses into a black hole as it prepares to leave. And this is a science fiction black hole in which a black hole of the same mass as the star it came from has a greater gravitational pull, rather than less after blasting out a whole lot of matter.



The sequel to the thing that was imitated feels so unoriginal
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 May 2014, 10:57 pm
I finally tried Diablo III. It felt like Torchlight. That is all.



Hearthstone will never be a great game
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 May 2014, 6:14 pm
It is, most definitely, a very good game. It might even be the goodest game ever. But great? No. It is not a great game. I do not think it has the potential to be a great game. In fact, as much as I enjoy it, I do not see it sticking around for a particularly long time.

What makes it good?
It's accessible. For the most part, cards make sense. The way they interact makes sense. There is some nuance, but you're never going to get into a two hour discussion of the stack or how casting a spell has (12?) distinct steps. For the most part, if you try to do something, you will succeed, and rarely will you be unsure if you can do it.

It looks nice. Magic: The Gathering online is ugly. The UI is ugly. The cards look ridiculous. In contrast, Hearthstone is vibrant without being flashy. It is easy to see. It is fun to see. It adds a bit of life to the game. Note that my comments about Magic are only about the online version, not the actual physical cards, which are awesome. However, I do not think the offline card game is a direct competitor with Hearthstone. Of course we might wonder whether people will rather spend money on one or the other, but that applies to any entertainment. In terms of time, I think they'd be in different budgets.

What makes it impossible for Hearthstone to be great?

You don't actually play with other players.
Instead, you take turns showing off your decks. I will never react to a player's actions, because I cannot; I am completely pacified until it is my turn, during which my opponent is pacified. I can only deal with the minions that are already on the board, whether mine or my opponents.

"The best defense is a good offense" gets taken to its illogical conclusion. There are no blockers except when the attackers decides to attack that minion. They'd only do that if either A) the minion has taunt and is in the way or B) they want to ensure that the minion cannot attack back at them. Contrast this with Magic where the defender declares who blocks, or not, and is an actual participant in the battle.

The result is that combat is a frantic back and forth, with each playing trying to ensure that minions are not on the board for long. Board clearing effects are common, and yet can seem to accomplish little, given the ease with which a a board can fill up again. And then empty again. It tends make everything unreliable, without really being exciting. "Will he kill all my minions this turn? Or next?"

Play to win.
Given the "take turns showing off" nature of the game, this is a bigger problem for Hearthstone than Magic. The effect may be magnified by the non-physical, no investment nature of it. People have to pay, or worse, befriend nerds, to get their first deck of Magic cards. Since sunk costs aren't something that the human brain readily understands, it becomes easier to put money into the cards. The net result is that I get mad at someone who plays a half-dozen legendaries in a single game, while I have one, that, due to being Harrison Jones, is not all that great (except when I destroyed a shaman's Doomhammer).

Coupled with any sort of pay to win scenario is the care factor. Someone who cares more will pay more, which is likely to increase their interest in the game even further. In addition, someone who cares more will be more willing to deal with the randomness of the packs. If you're only getting a few a week from the dailies, then the luck from those is going to make a substantial difference. If you're buying packs by the dozens, then things will tend to even out and no particular pack's luck or lack thereof will matter. If the game had card trading, then some of the randomness could be smoothed out, allowing lower interest players to still pursue cards they want without needing to burn tons of money on pack RNG or the terribly inefficient crafting system.





Neutral Blood Elves
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 April 2014, 8:00 am
The other day's post about the factionalism of some Pandaren led to an interesting comment which, among other things, suggested that Blood Elves should be neutral. The idea intrigued me.

Lore
It's somewhat of an accident that the Blood Elves are in the Horde. As High Elves they'd been part of the Alliance. Their 'conversion' to Blood Elves was recent. Their joining with the Horde was even more recent, and was not inevitable. There were doubts, and justifiably, that this more-than-devastated nation would be little more than a burden. Surely a Horde that had only recently broken away from demonic influence would be wary of a race that was dependent on demonic power.

In terms of personality, it fits as well. Elves are generally arrogant, and high elves perhaps even more so. Why would they not stand alone, away from the savages and corpses?

They have their own problems, trolls and the Scourge. Remember, BC was long before the Lich King was defeated. Could they really afford to go marching off to someone else's war with the many powerful Alliance armies on the continent? But perhaps that's irrelevant, since they have a powerful buffer zone against the Alliance: the Plaguelands and Lordaeron.

Gameplay
Who would become paladins? I still think tauren paladins sound ridiculous, even though I also think that Sunwalkers are a somewhat logical extension of druidism. There has always been a bit of a push for Forsaken paladins, but those also have various problems, even if they sound cool. Perhaps they'd be the inverse of the Blood Knights: rather than being so dark that even their brethren shun them, they'd be rejected for their embrace of the Light.

Geographically, Silvermoon isn't of much use to Horde players. Undercity already gives good access the north of the Eastern Kingdoms.

Most importantly, it's too late for World of Warcraft. The story already happened, not that that has necessarily mattered; Cataclysm was more than happy to erase player actions, such as killing Onyxia. Players are Blood Elves and I suspect would not react kindly to a forced race change. A splintering, as we saw with Pandaren is possible, but also sets an annoying precedent, because what race could not be justifiably picked apart? Break off the Dark Irons again, divide the orc and troll races, might as well just have every character pick its faction. Someone probably likes that idea.

Future Story
This is where I think the idea shines. Or, gets exceptionally ugly.

Despite regaining the Sunwell, I do not believe the Blood Elves are particularly powerful still. They were hit far too hard and were never a populous group. If no longer under the umbrella of the Horde, they'd end up with a potential enemy: Sylvanas.

I'd love to see this dark... darker.... black hole swallowed by another black hole, but without the huge energy releases from gravitational waves... darkerest turn by Sylvanas. Why should her former brethren not rejoin her? Perhaps the Forsaken could find some use for the Sunwell.

This leads to her army marching right back up along the Dead Scar and her journey to becoming the Lich King-lite is complete. Might the Alliance, seeing the risks of the Forsaken gaining such a powerful source of magic, intervene? Things could turn out ugly for Vereesa.

Alternatively, they just get overrun by trolls and breakaway undead.



How population affects the world
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2014, 1:29 pm
Some quests are better with an empty world. The lone hero who saves everyone quests in particular work best when there isn't someone else also around saving the world. Waiting in line just gets to be ridiculous. "Excuse me, sir, but could you hurry things up a bit? I also need to destroy this threat to the world." Kills and spawns can get silly too when you've destroyed the threat to the world, only to have it pop back up again and fight you while you're riffling through its pockets. This gets doubly bad when the next guy in line to save the world has to wait because you've gone and tagged the threat to the world. It's not as if shared kills solve this, as then we end up with a handful of Lone Saviors of the World teaming up to repeatedly kill the threat.

On the other hand, if things are too empty, then quests can get to be too hard. Many quests with elites are of this sort. Many of those are gone. This can still end up looking silly, because the quests were clearly designed for multiple players involved and went from being a significant accomplishment to being lame. I'm looking at you, Jintha'Alor. On a side note, not only was that place tricky to run at level, but it's also the worst Archaeology spot in the history of ever. Quests for mass killing are simultaneously well- and poorly-suited to a high population. On one hand, if those rats/orcs/rarcs are such a problem, then it makes sense that there would be a ton of people hired to kill them. It makes it feel a bit more like a war/magically oversized pest control when you have a dozen people busily killing them. Yet this depends a great deal on the spawn rate: if they come back quickly, then all is good. But, if the respawn is slow, then you have a bunch of guys standing around drinking coffee and yet, none of them claim to be supervising or on break.

Population variance can take a turn for the comical, utterly ruining the quest, but creating an equally-great situation, if only you can see it from the right perspective. For example, Westfall is meant to begin with an investigation into a murder. This should mean the lone player carefully questioning various vagrants, possibly bribing them, a feature that I believe all quests should have. In practice, it means racing people for the opportunity to punch a homeless person. Perhaps not what the developers intended, but it works just as well. And the ragamuffins have a field day.



Finally got a pandaren off of Turtleland
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 April 2014, 8:00 am
Their quests made me angry. I'd make a monk, because frankly, a non-pandaren monk and non-monk pandaren just don't make sense to me. Then I'd play the monk for a bit. Then I'd get bored by the wonderful mix of "you are the greatest person ever" and "you must learn humility" and go play something fun.

I finally decided to go for it. I'm on my new server, so I have no shortage of character slots. I struggled through it all, until finally, I got in a balloon and talked to a turtle. This confused me for a couple of reasons. First, it was a bit out of nowhere. "Our turtle island is dying" didn't seem to come up much. There was some issue with the little element guys, but that struck me as being their own version of Cataclysm aftermath. Second, why had no one talked to him in so long? Surely a little check up would make sense. Maybe some small talk. Or big, slow talk. Perhaps ask permission to mine the copper nodes.

Then I went to a forest and suddenly... the trailer made sense. This was the strange island that the Alliance and Horde washed up on. Of course I then was wondering what ever happened to Turtle Island. Did it just go on its merry way and ignore all the problems in Pandaria? Did it get lost? Maybe I missed a bit of quest dialog somewhere along the line.

I greatly enjoyed getting to Stormwind and talking to Varian. He sold the Alliance very well, as what appeared to be an Azerothian NATO (an attack on one is an attack on all). The brawl, or the aftermath, was perfectly done.

It did leave me wondering through, is Pandaren society screwed? From the sound of it, there are a lot of Pandaren who are leaving to join the Horde or Alliance. Clearly joining one faction or the other, or being totally neutral, strike me as safer situations. In the former, there are allies to back them up. In the latter, each side has an interest in avoiding a conflict, since that could force them into the other faction. Being mostly neutral but losing new recruits to the factions surely must be causing some terrible societal divisions. When no one is joining anyone, then opinions about the factions don't matter too much. But what about when someone's offspring, siblings, or parents, want to leave to join a faction? Just the notion that they can leave, that they can abandon all they knew, can shake a society. Now make where to go not just a matter of choice, but of division, and things get messy. Even without outside manipulations, there would be those who want to promote or disparage a particular faction, and those people surely will not get along well. It isn't yet a civil war, but what is to suggest that it will not be?

Perhaps that's a good sign, when I'm left with more questions and caring what happens afterward.



Flying
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 April 2014, 8:50 pm
Falling cow
Flying crow
Waving at the fel cannon below
Flak clouds
Demons surround
Totally worth it, still

Flying high with angry tall women
Making our way to Ulduar
Circling a temple
Drake hopping battle
I remember Titans
In the mountains

Break the tree line and flying is worth it
Notice the tree lines and you're not so sure
Ironforge airport
Wallclimb exploit
Dance with dancing trolls
Until a Cataclysmic hole
And is it worth it anymore?

Flying serpents are ugly and hard to land
The end.



All of these things are not like the others
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 April 2014, 11:54 pm
Mr. Child had a fascinating post the other day about the so-called Match 3 style of games. He had some good points, but as they say "journalism is the first draft of history", which is of course not actually applicable here except to the extent that I need to have at least one famous quotation in every post. If you think you haven't seen them, that's because I'm attempting to make what I already say famous, thereby retroactively fixing my posts and allowing me to graduate from junior high. I've been running off a fake degree this entire time, despite having never mastered algebra, European History (section two: 1472-1532), or overuse of homophobic epithets to avoid having them aimed at me.

Anyway, the point I was trying to get at is that Match 3 games are misnamed, since, while the basic gameplay is directed at matching three, that's essentially like saying that World of Warcraft is about autoattack. Sure, it's there, and it was a 95% accurate description of a vanilla paladin (the other 5% was unspeakable things done between judgement cooldowns), but it's also simplistic and missing all the nuance. They really should be called Match 5, so as to correctly convey that matching three is, at best, a set up for fives, and at worst a level of noobishness that makes you unworthy to even own a phone that is clearly smarter than you. (did you know that AMD processors are physically incapable of running Match 3 games?)

In addition, he entirely failed to address the concept of not-Match 3. Consider the game Set. Some of you might know it as the game that is banned. Others might remember when an adult insisted that it have turns, which only makes it worse. If it's real-time then getting none means you're maybe just slightly slower. As turns, if you can't get the totally obvious one that everyone else can see is right there, it means you are stupid, and I hated you for it. Seriously, it's so obvious, how can you have been staring at these for this long and not gotten it? I've already figured out the next three sets and I can't even see the next cards.

In this game there is a sort of matching of three cards. They can be all about the same, such as three cards with three unshaded diamonds of different colors. Or, they can be more different, such as one, two, and three, but one is shaded, another is unshaded, and another is filled in entirely. It can even blow your mind with different colors, shading, and numbers. Like, woah.

Why does a Match 3 not break the mold and add this "all of these things are not like the others"? Obviously in a set of three this is going to be trivial,but that would be a boon to casuals who can't figure out how to keep their board going, and instead whine about "getting screwed by the RNG" rather than being prepared. This gives them a little less to whine about, but the score value can be low, so they aren't competing with their superiors. With so many available colors, this allows for highly-perceptive players to get extremely long matches, further differentiating them from their freakish color-blind inferiors.

Allowing non-matched matches, far from dumbing down the game, is in fact a brilliant way to appease the idiotic masses who 'financially' support games while giving a more complex game to the good players who truly support it with their enthusiasm and disdain for others.



The Joy of Anticipation, Heightened by Preparation
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 April 2014, 10:39 pm
As a student, and then unemployed person, I had a lot of time for gaming. I also had a lot of flexibility with my time. I could play pretty much any game at any time. Paradoxically, this would periodically cause me to become very bored. I could do too much and in the midst of trying to decide what to do would give up.

It also meant that, as much as I thought about gaming in general and my experiences in particular, I didn't think much about goals. Since I had so much time I tended to start a game and do... something. Maybe a random? Or conquer a city? It was a sort of aimless wandering. That's an activity well-suited to something like Skyrim, but not for a strategy game or reward-driven MMO (unless you're indifferent to the rewards, which I was not).

Now that I can't play whenever I want I find myself thinking about gaming in a much different manner. It is less generic philosophical rambling and thinking about how awesome I am, and more planning. It's not as if I have particularly limited gaming time. I am still single (ladies...) and my job is a nice 40 hours a week. But it's something that, at any given moment, I am not just not doing, but cannot do. That adds an element of anticipation. The Germans have a word for this, but I'm in a good mood and don't want to sound angry.

Yet the anticipation isn't merely "I will get to play this game". It's about my goals in the game. What do I want to do long-term? What can I do to move toward that? What are smart short-term actions? Are there short-term problems to deal with? In the abstract I suppose this sounds rather boring, like I'm planning an Action Strategy for Leveraging Strengths in Mental-Positive Recreational Activities. In practice it means thinking a about gaming and how cool it is and how cool it would be to accomplish this or that.

For example, I am currently trying to take over the world as Russia (little Novgorod is all grown up). In the abstract that means killing everyone. In particular, it means that at some point I need to directly confront France, Britain, and Castille in a sustained and successful conflict. Before I can do that I need to have an adequate military and economic base. Those mean developing technologies and acquiring land. The land means other wars, wars which I must carefully manage so as to avoid getting pulled into another world war that cripples my country. At an even greater level of detail, this meant trying to grab more land in Asia to connect my mainland with the areas I took from China, since otherwise they are considered very distance colonies and have been producing no income at all for at least a hundred years (I didn't know that this was the reason). And of course I'm always trying to shed war exhaustion, a task made more difficult by my extraordinarily bad reputation (due to the Asian land grab).

During breaks I can think about my empire, what weaknesses it has, what strengths it has, what opportunities are available. Then I can get home and set my grand plan into motion. Sometimes it is promptly ruined by an opportunistic enemy, such as when France attacked my European front with about three times my local army, while I was already deep in a huge Asian war (note to self: refusal of military access does not count as casus belli).

This isn't even an isolated example. In Skyrim I fund myself back into it and having a lot of fun after wondering which skill to make legendary (an ironic name, considering it resets the skill to 15 and strips the points). Then I came home and did that, spending the points from destruction to get more two-handed skills. I did a switch from caster to melee, if you were wondering what that was about.

Now, what to do next?



How to be a Scammer
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 March 2014, 1:44 pm
Step one: Advertise to sell something.
Step two: Sell it.

I had some extra heavy junkboxes sitting around for a few years. Since they're a box, they can't go in the AH, so it's a matter of finding someone online that wants them. If you do find someone who wants them and can take many COD over time, it can be a nice boring few hundred gold an hour, depending on what price you get.

Again, I advertised at my usual 25g. Someone offered 20g, which I took. I traded them over and then cringed as I saw it, "so and so looted empty poison vial."

I'd been in the habit of unlocking all my boxes. I could, and did, get a Teebu's Blazing Longsword out of one, so it was a good habit. As long as I kept auto-loot off I could safely and quickly unlock and check them before mailing them off for turning in.

At first I thought he'd mistakenly opened it. Then another opened. I was off to do my pet battles, so I dropped group. Then he whispered me, saying that it is rude to scam people. I asked, "what scam?" Surely someone wouldn't be so stupid as to use a level 60 box as a way to loot gold for the achievement. Surely someone would know what they're buying. And if they don't, they can see that it is their own fault.

The last time something even remotely like this happened involved someone buying a sword for transmog, only for them to realize they couldn't actually use it. They told me this, in an "oops, I screwed up" kind of way. I offered to buy it back, since it's not as if it was damaged just by being traded. They kept it, maybe for an alt. No accusations of scamming.

I'd have even kept the same policy. If he'd said "these aren't what I thought they are", then I'd have bought back the unopened ones. Of course that's unprofitable, but I can see myself mistakenly buying something that is almost what I wanted and I'd rather play in a game, and live in a world, where people offer an undo button. And maybe a world where people don't immediately assume it's a scam when they make a mistake.



Alternative Incentives for Returning Players
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 March 2014, 9:47 pm
Giving someone a reward is easy, but does it actually make any difference? I've analyzed all my data on new and returning characters in the top ten MMOs and found no effect. Note: I have absolutely no data. Since the traditional approach does not appear to be working, here are some alternatives.

Here's what changed
There are patch notes and maybe spell tips, but do those help? Of course not. If they did, then players would be all up ins that game.

Instead, give a narrative of what happened. Say which awesome abilities are gone, admit that the new ones aren't as good, and give a general idea of how the class is completely unrecognizable. To go along with this, check the most recent play time of more than ten minutes (that is just confused stumbling, like a drunk man with no light poles), and then say how things are different relative to then. Is your melee class now a spell caster? Does your spell caster use strength for some reason?

Bag Organizer
"What's all this shit in my bags?" Not only does the player not remember putting this stuff in there (reverse-hackers?), they have no idea if it is any good. You come back with three empty slots and end up rage-quitting immediately, or at best, spend two hours figuring it out, only to quit because your first new impression is that the game is a miserable mess of bag management.

To help, give returning players an automated analysis of the contents of their bags. What is the median sell price over the past month? Is this piece of gear better than something you'll get from the new content that drew you back in?

Here's how bad you are
Last time I played I was hot stuff. I was awesome and did cool stuff. Now I'm not sure what's going on. Rather than surprise players by leaving them to get horribly stomped in PvP and perhaps PvE as well, just bluntly inform them that on a scale of one to ten, their gear is now a zero. Then show them some options on fixing that, such as "go to noob island of free epics to get up to two" or "die a lot in absurdly unbalanced PvP to get to a four".

Your guild master was arrested for selling meth
Who hasn't come back to a disbanded guild? Or as GM of a guild that is inexplicably flagged as "kill on sight" due to some misdeeds in your absence? Give returning players some idea of what happened, whether that was a mass transfer, a mass quit because of the same expansion that made you leave, or the Rapture (nope, you're not in).

The Ancient
It's a title to indicate "I wasn't always this awful, give me a moment and I'll show you how good I can be. Or at least I will spend the entire run telling you how good I used to be, because let's face it, the years away due to a brief 'misunderstanding' the a mob boss did not make me a better gamer.



The End-Game Transition
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 March 2014, 5:44 pm
Anyone who complains about an end-game transition is being stupid.

Part One: Inevitability

In any game with any sort of progress you're going to have a tendency toward an end-game. Either all measured progress stops or it changes in form. This is not necessarily by the design of the developers.

Consider a game such as Banished or Don't Starve. The initial game is a struggle to not die horribly. You try to get sustained heat or light and food. This means chopping trees, foraging, hunting, and hitting rocks. Eventually you've chopped so many trees, foraged and hunted, and hit so many rocks that you're not likely to die a horrible death at any given moment. You've stabilized your situation. Your people have shelter, they make enough babies that enough will grow up to make babies to sustain the baby-making cycle, and you generate enough surplus food that even if the houses are filled with babies you won't suffer from baby-induced starvation. Alternatively, you have enough trees and grass around to keep catching rabbits, your rock-based structures are set up, and you have enough non-renewable materials to last a very long time.

Now you're in the end-game. In a game that doesn't have one, but it does anyway.

Unless you do something actively stupid, such as switching all your farmers to the quarry, or going in caves naked with no torches, you're unlikely to die any time soon. With the basics taken care of you can focus even more on exploration and expansion. Now you can build another Market Economic Zone branching off from your original Capital Economic Zone, and eventually fill the entire map with housing and farms, altering their design to ensure the maximum number of non-starving people. The survival game has become a spreadsheet-based optimization game.

Part Two: Your Counter-Argument to Part One is Stupid

Part Three: By Which I Mean, Adding New Problems Isn't a Good Solution

Banished could figure out new problems to throw at you. Maybe you think you're such hot shit for having stone houses and locally-sourced plum brandy from a sustainable orchard. Well what about when the developer patches in alcoholism and makes the dead rise up and eat all your peppers? Now you have to divert your precious iron supply to swords rather than tools and your physician has to do something other than wait around for dirty nomads with their weird foreigner diseases. Bam, challenge returned! In a totally artificial and annoying manner.

At least for me, and my opinion is the best one, these sorts of games are about the struggle toward that stable point. You figure out the immediate crises (food), deal with those, work on the near-term problems (housing), figure those out, and amidst all of that work toward dealing with long-term issues such as not running out of tools next year. With that generally worked out, you create some guarantees for the future, such as a trading post, so that you can supplement your theoretically-limited supply of stone, iron, and coal, with pepper trades. Now you can survive forever. That's kinda neat.

If the game then added in a new type of problem, then I'd probably just get mad at it. I just built this town hall and now you're telling me I need to beautify the streets or get voted out? I'm the incorporeal dictator!

The game could add a decay mechanic, but how are you going to tune it? If the decay uses resources that can be unlimited, such as trees or rabbit corpses, then it's essentially just another long-term sustainability mechanic. I'll set up a few more traps and declare victory.

If the decay uses resources that aren't unlimited, then the game is essentially saying "this game is about survival and I am going to kill you, guaranteed." I don't mind the inevitability of death in a game, but can I at least go out with a bang rather than a whimper? Surely it is more fun to see that the end is coming and bravely stand against the onslaught of violent death than to mine the last rock and know that the next baby born will die shivering in the cold. Maybe that's just human nature, to want to face something that we can punch, such as Russians, rather than resource depletion.

Part Four: I Stop Writing Soon

A truly pure survival game sounds stupid to me. Survival is a limited thing. It is either a pointless struggle against the inevitable or a pointless struggle. I like it when a game has survival that can be overcome, and when it is, something can be built. In Banished I didn't just survive a winter, I also built a town that can survive many winters. Perhaps that is also a bit of human nature: while animals survive, humans build and develop. Even if the rules of the universe still call for survival, it is no longer at the front of our minds because we've built to insulate ourselves from it, with markets, laws, and literal insulation.

So I say to you, if you think "the end-game transition" is both bad and preventable, then you, sir or madam or other old-timey polite moniker for your identity, are an opponent of all human progress, and probably alien progress as well.



How your keybindings are killing you
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2014, 9:25 am
For years I've used ctrl as a modifier to get additional spells on my bars and ready to use. It's not so far away and with my pinky on it my normal keys were still readily accessible. It all seemed perfect. Then it struck me: I shouldn't be constantly twisting my hand to use common spells. I didn't have any symptoms of anything, but why push my luck? I'd never liked the two buttons on the side of my mouse, but I figured I'd give them a try.

Immediately that was two more readily accessible spells. That means two fewer spells that need ctrl to use. Most of my hand-twisting was gone. It felt good. It felt more relaxed and comfortable. It also felt smarter than destroying my left hand just because I didn't like two of my buttons.

I still use ctrl, but differently. First, it works well with the mouse buttons, since ctrl-mouse doesn't use the same hand, so my pinky moves down to the key but my other fingers aren't extended up to get at the numbers. Second, because I've effectively freed up four keys, I can save ctrl for things that aren't so frequently used.

I might even get one of those mice with a dozen buttons in various spots. They always seemed stupid to me, but perhaps not if they're going to be better for my hands.



Like Alexander, if he hadn't died in the field
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 March 2014, 11:28 am
Last post I wrote about my utter failure at domestic policy. Maybe violence in games is more common than anything else because it's so much easier. Destroying things can be a matter of simple brute force or cleverly identifying a weakness, but once it's done, it's done. It helps that games, and media in general, don't portray the mess that is left behind. It's fun to wave the flag at the top of the Reichstag, less fun to figure out what to do with millions of stained consciences and a rubble-based country.

I had to deal with that aftermath. My wars gave me land and that land gave me some wealth, but those wars also gave me a bad reputation and a larger army that took that wealth. Strangely, this was a more immediate crisis than any battle. I'd made huge military mistakes in the past, but worst case scenario I could just end the war. Failing on the domestic front could destroy my country now and in the future. Action had to be immediate and on a large scale, before it completely overwhelmed my economy and foreign relations.

I had to take aggressive action. As much as I could, I trimmed my army. I switched my one national idea to the national bank (reduces inflation). I centralized my government (less inflation, more taxation). I stopped starting wars of blatant aggression and instead guaranteed the independence of small nations, waiting for them to be attacked (the tribute and vassals were too valuable, and necessary for my budget). I invested in government and trade research. Eventually I managed to balance my budget for the year and even started bringing down inflation. War exhaustion went to zero and the rebellions died down. Since then I've closed most of the tech gap with my rivals, built a navy, and cut overall inflation by more than two thirds.

Despite my switch to a domestic focus, I did still wage a few, highly-successful wars. They took down Castille and Lithuania, two countries with a long history of attacking me.

Things were looking good. Rebellions we down, revenues were up, everything was looking good.

I saw opportunity in the east of Europe: vast empires with backward armies. I went for it and it worked like a breeze. I looked south and saw the powerful Ottomans. They looked backward too. They turned out to be close enough in technology that I couldn't just knock them out in a single battle. The war dragged on, but my slight technological edge and rapidly-growing army won the day. All seemed to be okay. I even had a strategy to take down some of Castille's friends so that I could, someday, directly confront them again.

Then came the endless wars. I didn't start these fights, not all of them, or even most of them. But they happened and I had to win them. My vast armies marched all across Europe fighting everyone from Hungary to Sweden and even out to Asia for a fight with Persia. Countries, big and small, declared war. Algiers, my supposed vassal and ally, not that I blame them for their actions, supported rebels that knocked out my stabilization forces in northern Africa. The southern force was occupied with endless rebels. That was the theme: endless rebellions. As the war weariness inched upward so did the revolt chance, breaking 30%, and resulting in multiple provinces lost, though most regained before it was too late. I ended up losing two provinces in northern Africa, though at least they defected to a vassal, so it's not a total income loss. A terrible, tiny African country declared war, and with my African armies in shambles, managed to take a few provinces.

Tax revenues plummeted, leading me to use minting to balance my budget. Thankfully, I have two masters of the mint, centralization, and my national idea to keep inflation from growing. Army spending has to stay high as I am fighting constant rebellions and expect that one of these days the Ottomans are going to want revenge. Meanwhile, I suspect Castille and Austria are waiting for their moment.

Yet it is not all bad. I have the armies needed to keep down revolts. I am at peace. I'm returning some annexed provinces to vassals as a way to reduce the areas of revolt. Inflation is slowly creeping down. Except for Austria, the Germanic areas are almost entirely vassals. My colonies in Africa are growing and Brittany saved the day with its own armies. I crushed Sweden and liberated Norway and Finland. Newly-liberated Georgia is not very friendly, but at least it means that Persia is divided. France is stable, without debt, and at technological parity with anyone.

If it were not an absolute monarchy, I can only imagine that it would all make for some excellent spin from government and opposition parties. In retrospect, I wish I'd kept the administrative republic, but, "L'etat c'est moi."



You can play your own story of utter incompetence
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 March 2014, 7:36 pm
I bought Europa Universalis III (not the new one) the other day. So far it's amazing (also, fun). The amount of choice is new to me.

In part, this comes from the game not pretending to be balanced in any normal sense. France is clearly the dominant power on the western European continent. But you can, if you want, play as Burgundy, France's smaller, weaker neighbor. I opted for Burgundy and then waged a long champaign to take control of France, so much so that I was able to declare myself to be France (that helped a lot with the French nationalist uprisings).

Yet, despite the "not balanced" nature of it, the game doesn't consist entirely of big AI nations devouring smaller ones. The diplomatic and domestic cost of a war of pure aggression is pretty steep, as I learned. In fact, things can go dramatically wrong for big countries. France was devoured by my upstart Burgundy. I won countless other wars and prizes, both large and small.

I probably sound like a pretty capable leader at this point. I mean, just look at me, making vassals of over a dozen small countries, gaining monopolies in over a half-dozen trading hubs, taking on everyone from the Ottoman Empire to Milan, and taking down the greatest power on the continent and then remaking it in my image. That's the thing: my image.

I had no idea how to actually run the country.

Before World War I the doctrine among the great powers that they should have an army large enough to fight any two other nations at once. I thought that sounded completely ridiculous. Surely that wouldn't be necessary, or even possible, since only at the trivial case of 0 can you assign values to y=2x and x=2y. Math says Europe was stupid.

Yet that is exactly what I did. I'd regularly check on the ledger to ensure that my army could beat anyone. It could. Yet I couldn't rely on my total, because I had rebels to put down, so I'd have half my army big enough to beat anyone, and the other half as the other half of an army that could beat anyone. Why did I dedicate so many forces to dealing with a handful of rebels? Because they weren't and handful of rebels.

For years I was essentially at war with my own people. Norman, Orleanais, and Breton nationalists were a constant problem. I almost wished I could have just killed all the Dutch, but they run a really great trading port. Throw in peasant uprisings and patriots from whatever war was going on and domestically I was facing a larger army than from the actual wars.

And then there were the wars. Sure, it made sense to unify France. But why was I constantly poking my head into the Germanic lands? A country here, a country there, and next thing I'm widely hated. The constant war also caused war exhaustion, which raises the risk of revolt.

Meanwhile my inflation was through the roof. I'd been messing with the treasury to pay for my absurdly oversized army and complete inability to create an annual budget. That didn't just reduce my research, but also caused inflation, which makes everything, including research, more expensive. I was killing two of my own birds with one stone.

I had even taken visible steps backward. To save on army costs I abandoned the defense of my Danish holdings. Those were eventually captured by rebels and returned to Denmark. I gave up on defending the small countries between me and Castille; I couldn't fight wars on their timetable anymore. Those small nations were captured and annexed. My holdings in North Africa were cut off due to my poor naval logistics, leading me to cede land to get a peace treaty rather than losing everything.

From the outside, newly-unified France-from-Burgundy (such a British name) was extremely powerful. It had won countless wars, made many vassals, and had an army so absurdly large that it could probably fight the entire continent to a stalemate. Internally that army was tied up with perpetual unrest. Its budget was an inflated mess. It was frequently borrowing to pay for wars that made the world hate it. This wasn't a country on the verge of collapse, but it was one facing stagnation and eventually, defeat.



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