Friday, October 31, 2008

Tank LFG

In MMOs, Warriors, or their equivalent, are a dime a dozen. There are always too many Warriors. Everyone loves to play them, apparently. We love to pretend that we're hulking, armored behemoths of war, wading into battle without heed, cleaving/smashing/slicing our way through legions of foes. We like to be tough, we like to look it too.

But, in most MMOs, a team of all warriors doesn't cut it. Some MMOs don't require more than one Warrior per team. To fill the rest of the slots, you need someone to heal or buff. Someone to deal damage, at range, usually with AoEs (area of effect, for the uninitiated). Teams need support, need versatility, things that the bum in plate-mail can't offer.

Then what is our job?

To take the hit, to occupy the baddies while you work your mojo with fireballs, arrows, energy blasts, or whatever is it that you use to make things dead. Of course, more and more in MMOs, the "squishie" support classes can find ways to match or exceed the needs of a team for a Tank.

So, a few weeks back, while I was playing Guild Wars, I talked to a friend who mentioned that he was taking a team into the Underworld (one of the most difficult instances in Guild Wars). I offered to assist, and was turned down, since having a warrior would on serve to slow them down.

That kind of hurt.

However, having played Warriors in Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, Scrappers, Tankers, Brutes, and Stalkers in City of Hereoes/Villians, Fighters and Monks in Dungeons and Dragons, and Barbarians and Assassins in Diablo 2, I'm used to having people assume that since I heft steel and fist online, I fit into a certain niche of usefulness on a team, one that they don't need.

So, while he took a team into the Underworld, and wiped three times, I took my Warrior into the Fissure of Woe (sister instance to UW), and solo farmed there, making large sums of money, which I didn't have to share with seven strangers. Score one for the bums in plate-mail.

But honestly, I understand most peoples reluctance to invite a Warrior to the team, especially one they don't know. A bad Warrior can spell instant doom for a team. He can agro too many enemies, fail to hold their agro, die to fast and let agro transfer to the team, try to flee battle and lead the enemies into the backline, etc. And with such a large portion of newer players going to Warriors first, there are plenty of bad ones out there. Who wants to gamble on a player when they can fill the role with a different character class? But, this is turn leads to Warriors who have little experience teamed, and only know how to keep themselves alive, leading to more people who suffer due to their lack of skill.

So, I have a request: Gamers of the world, every once and a while, be nice and let a Warrior join you. They might make your life tough, but you'll be doing the next person down the line a favor, cause even when you fail, you learn something.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Headshots are the great equalizer.

David defeated Goliath with a headshot (A bullet from a sling does 1d3 damage. Blesses by God, the bullet was obviously a +5 Holy bullet. Scoring a headshot, he would have dealt double damage [(1d3+5+2d6)x2=16-40 damage]. Most likely, this isn't enough to have killed him, so it must have been a critical hit, giving it an additional doubling [([1d3+5x2]+2d6)x2=28-56]. Assuming that Goliath was at least as strong as your typical D&D ogre, this would have slain him in one hit, even if David rolled poorly). Headshots are what assassins and hitmen use to guarantee the kill. The concept of a headshot has been ingrained in video games for years. It allows for a player to defeat a foe with a single bullet. They are violent, messy, and finish a conflict fast. In first person shooters, performing a headshot, especially while the player and target are both in motion, is one of the truest testaments of skill. In fact, the weaker the weapon, the better.

A while back, I was trying to do laundry while playing Counter Strike: Source (doesn't work, don't try). I would dart between my desktop and the laundry room down the hall, sorting colors and changing loads in between respawns. I returned to my chair just in time to miss my 30 seconds window to purchase gear, and to see that my team had failed to hold the garage on CS_Office, and that half of the Terrorist team was bearing down on me. Behind the cover of the dumpster I spawned next to, I quickly side-stepped and fired twice from my USP, clotheslining the Ts rounding the corner. The flat, metallic screrch that resulted from my shots told me that I scored a headshot. Hoping to repeat this, I popped out again, only to be cut down by a hail of fire from his three surviving teammates. I had neither armor nor hope.

But I can't score one at the moment.

Not because I lack the skill, but because I'm reduced to playing Counter Strike: 2d, rather that Counter Strike: Source, which is on my desktop at home. I'm stuck on a midnight shift, due to staffing problems, and there is nothing to do. Even if I was to bury myself in my work, at best, I'd spend an hour on menial tasks before finishing, and still having 5 hours of nothing to endure.

Of course, I say reduced, implying the game isn't that good. On the contrary, it's pretty fun, for what it is. Like the title indicates, the game is two dimensional, top down. So, the ability to target the head of my opponent doesn't exist. Graphically, it's like playing a more violent version of Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, where the Moblins have AK-47s and C-4. Cute, chibi looking Terrorists and Counter-terrorists jog around the map, firing weapons that match their diminutive frames.

But, CS should never be cute, and I think that's why I feel the tiniest bit embittered when I play it. That, and I want my screrch.

That, and I want my David vs Goliath moment. I want to be able to face down a superior number of foes, whom possess superior firepower, and defeat them purely by merits of marksmanship and reflex. A victory that doesn't exist on a two dimensional battle field.