Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tanking 101: Playstyle and Aggro Management

Playing a "tank" in any MMO is pretty simple. You aggro first, you're expected to hold said aggro, you take the majority of the damage for the team, you're not expected to put out massive DPS. However, simple does not always equal easy. The specifics vary from game to game, but I'll be talking about Guild Wars for the time being. I'll touch on City of Heroes later.

1. Aggro Management

Tanking in Guild Wars is one of the most challenging tanking scenarios I've dealt with in an MMO. There are no clear aggro guidelines to be found in game. The only thing you really know for sure is your aggro radius, indicated by your compass/minimap in the top right corner of your screen by the transparent white circle center on your character.Any enemy that enters earshot of you will be aggroed. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they will attack you. The AI in GW evaluates targets, and picks them based on priority. At the top of that list are players with low armor and low HP. Essentially, the very people you're trying to protect get attacked first. Certain actions on your part will move you up that list. Body-blocking an enemy, quite literally getting in their way and becoming an obstruction increases your own aggro. Attacking, and activating skills against an enemy increases your aggro. Thusly, a good tank (in most, but not all situations), should always be moving and attacking, getting the enemy's attention. Beware, moving too much can cause the enemy to re-evaluate aggro, moving you back down that list. This is especially true is you're under the effect of an IMS (increased movement skill) skill, you will lose aggro very fast.

2. Surviving Aggro

Now that you can better manage aggro, you need to survive it. Either you're keeping yourself alive, you're receiving support from your team, or a combination of both. Don't feel that you can't do your job without a monk, but learn to trust them when they support you. Breaking from a fight for fear of dying will get your whole team killed. Think about it: if you with your high armor and high HP can't take that aggro, how is your team going to hold up when it gets put on them? Be willing to die on the front lines, rather than run away and draw the aggro into your backline. If you need to run, side step your enemies. Run to your left or right, not backwards. This way, when the follow, you're putting more distance between your team and the enemies.

Whatever you do, make sure that your antics on the frontline don't attract the attention of other enemy spawns. Careless side stepping or repositioning can cause you to aggro neighboring spawns, making the situation drastically more dire.

3. The Informed Tank

I had considered writing up a section on gear and skills, but I decided against that. Being aware of what you enemies do and how they do it should dictate what gear and skills you set your tank up with before each mission and quest. When facing large amounts of physical damage, go with blocking stances. When facing large amounts of elemental damage an spell casters, go with +AL and +DR. When facing large amounts of degen, or armor ignoring damage, go with large amounts of HP.

When in melee, sometimes you'll be expected to call targets for the rest of the team, so they can target through you. Try to target especially dangerous foes, or annoying ones, like enemy Elementalists or Monks. Knowing which enemy caster is spamming Empathy on your versus knowing which enemy caster is summoning minions can be the difference between victory and a teamwipe.

4. Tank DPS

As I mentioned earlier, you're not expecting to generate huge DPS. This doesn't mean you shouldn't or can't. Bringing attack skills can not only make managing aggro easier, it will help the team kill faster. Remember, killing a foe gives your team 100% DR to that target.

Conditions allow most warriors to add large amounts of DPS to a team. Even if you're only adding a skill that inflicts bleeding to your skill bar, consider the fact that this negate the inherent regen most bosses have.

It helps to bring attack skills that don't use the same "fuel" as your tanking skills. For example, if you're running Gladiator's Defense, plus one or two other stances that cost Energy, bring attack skills that run off of adrenaline instead. If your tanking skills run off of adrenaline, it's not as bad having attacks that do the same, but attack skills will slow the rate at which you can activate them (Adrenaline skills "charge" as you attack. They all charge at the same rate. Once you have built up enough to activate a skill, the icon lights up, allowing you to click it. Using an adrenaline based skill deducts one point of adrenaline from each other skill, requiring you to connect with another attack, to replace lost adrenaline before activating another skill. Spamming adrenaline based attack slows the rate at which other skills recharge.). Just be aware. For example, I have a build made to spam the skill "Save Yourself!", a PvE only shout that grants my team +100 Armor for 5 seconds. At a cost of 8 adrenaline, I bring Power Attack and Counter Attack, so that "Save Yourself!" charges faster, giving my team more protection (also, since it keeps my teams armor so high, it helps me keep aggro).

None of these are hard and fast rules, but keeping them in mind can allow a novice warrior to preform admirably on the frontlines.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sincerest form of flattery

Each game over time creates terms, phrases, and mannerisms uniquely generated by its playerbase. Some stay unique to that game, others spread to different games. For example, did you know that "woot" stands for "Warrior out of Targets"?

Leeroy Jenkins, lern2play, lolmad?, "in ur base, killin ur doodz."

Likewise, each game has it's own version of a sincere compliment, even if not intentional.

In Diablo 2, it's usually taken as a compliment when your opponent in PvP leaves the match an returns with a character 30 to 40 levels higher than you, and then demands a rematch. Anyone who's ever PvPed in D2 has probably had this happen. They rage-quit cause you won, and now they've skewed the numerical equation of combat so far in their favor, they feel they can't possibly lose. And it always seems like the bring a Hammerdin, or a FoH Pally, someone to whom there is almost no defense. Then they go hostile, and gate camp, taunting you to come out and fight them. If this happens, you should be smiling, cause no matter what, you've won.

In Counter Strike, or almost any online FPS, it's usually taken as a compliment when you get called a hacker. Score a headshot at 80ft with a shotty? Hacker. Score a headshot in midair? Hacker. Scored multiple headshots in rapid succession with a deagle? Hacker. Score a kill while presumably blinded by a flashbang? Hacker. Never mind that your score is 17-23, or that they killed you the round before while you helplessly sprayed an AK-47 at them, dealing no damage. Never mind that you were blind, but you were spraying with an M-60. And hacker can be such a buzz word with some people, that when they hear it, they don't bother to spectate the person in question to see, or check the "hackers" score. Nope, they just type "voteban" in chat and goad others into doing the same. But hey, put a smile on, apparently you're that good.

In City of Heroes, if someone files a petition against you for griefing in a PvP zone, you've just been handed a virtual trophy. Don't worry, the petition will be deleted by the GMs, as PvPing in a PvP zone isn't griefing. It's just some kid who's angry that you killed them while they were badge hunting, and how you didn't ask if they wanted to fight before attacking. Or someone who's mad that you interrupted their "duel", even though they're fighting in the open, and made no attempt to say over broadcast "Hey guys, we're dueling, just let us finish before attacking the winner." At least if they do that they have the right to be annoyed, even if their request was silly. I've been petitioned more times than I can count, but most were filed by other Heroes that I killed in Warburg, not by Villians. Free-for-All PvP ftw.

In Guild Wars, it's a little different. In Guild Wars, if someone takes the time to learn and copy your build, you should take pride in that. As in most MMOs, there are favorable skill sets and tactics for various enemies (a Druid has to tank in the instance, kill the Nemesis Lieuts last, spread out to avoid AoEs, etc). In Guild Wars, while popular builds exist that dominate certain aspects of PvE and PvP (Imbagon, Shock Axe, Bunny Thumper, Toucher, etc), a person can be plenty powerful and effective with a unique skill selection and attribute spread. So much so, some people covet their builds, and refuse to divulge any details of them to others, for fear of having them made public and popular. For example, last August, I made myself a new hammer build for my warrior, centering around the elite skill Backbreaker. I used it with Pulverizing Smash, Protector's Strike, Mighty Blow, Flail, Enraging Charge, Lion's Comfort, and Grasping Earth. Pulverizing Smash was picked to make the build more energy efficient, Protector's Strike was put in to help spike a KDed target, and recover adren faster after using BB+PS. Nothing fancy, a lot of core elements (IAS, IMS, self heal, snare), just a different spin on a hammer warrior. I ran the build exclusively in AB, RA, and TA for two months, and received some praise from teammates for it. When running in RA and TA, I'd sub out either Grasping Earth or Mighty Blow for Rez.

By the end of September, my build was on PvXwiki.

Edited slightly to put it in line with the PvP meta, but with the same usage and reasoning. I highly doubt that I'm the only person in all of GW to have ever ran that build, but the timing is too perfect. I might be paranoid, but I'd put money on one of my teammates copying it and putting it in the wiki.

But it doesn't bother me. If indeed it was taken from what I used, I'm flattered that they found it effective enough to borrow (saying they stole it implies I can't use it anymore, which isn't true). It even scored a 4.52 out of 5 in overall effectiveness. Thanks guys, I love you too.

It doesn't stop there. My builds have been used by almost every warrior in my Guild, and in my Alliance. Mine certainly aren't the only ones being borrowed (a fellow warrior by the name of Jak Chain created a nifty little W/A build that quickly got borrowed), but it's kinda funny seeing so many people running around with the same skills and gear as me. Sometimes I encourage it, like with my FoW Beach build. I like taking all warrior teams into FoW and farming certain areas. And frankly, my FoW Beach farming build kicks the shit out of the ones on wiki. I might get around to posting it in there someday, unless one of my guildies beats me to the punch.

But then again, it's really not that earth shattering of a build. It's not like I discovered that Cyclone Axe+Ebon Dust Aura=Profit, or that I created a 55 Warrior. But I don't see anyone else using it, and I don't see it on the wiki. Who knows, maybe I did split the crust just a bit.

However, I am prone to being stubborn, using what I'm comfortable with over what's better. For the longest time, I ran this abysmal W/R build. I also refused to use Bull's Strike, with the reasoning "it's hard to time it."


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Alliance Battles: In depth(ish)

During most of my posts, I assume that you the reader have an equal or greater knowledge of the things I talk about. This is in part because it saves me time, and I figure that if you read my blog, there's a good chance you share my interests, be it Guild Wars, City of Heroes, Counter Strike, or whatever (for the record, people who share none of these interests, yet still read this blog, I salute you).

However, even if you play City of Heroes, you may have never heard of the Paragon PD, or ever played an Assault Rifle blaster. Even if you play CS: Source, you might not have heard of CS:2d. And, even if you play Guild Wars, you might not partake in Alliance Battles. Maybe you don't like PvP. Maybe you find vanquishing in Hard Mode gives you better faction. Maybe you're an elite GvGer, and ABs just don't do it for you. So, I decided to explain a few things about ABs, just in case. In any case, enjoy (And as a warning, the word "faction" gets used a lot. It's not my fault, I didn't make the game).


In order to join an Alliance Battle, you must own Guild Wars: Factions. This seems obvious, but it's more complicated than that. You must also be part of a guild, where your guild leader also owns GW:Factions, and has chosen and allegiance for your guild. You can pick the Kurzick faction, or the Luxon faction. It's mostly an aesthetic choice, but your guild can only form or join an alliance with guilds that hold the same allegiance. There seems to be a consensus that Kurzicks are immature, while the Luxons play cheap. I don't really notice a difference, except I see many more R/N touchers on the Luxon side than I ever do on the Kurzick side.

So now that you belong to a faction, you can go fight in Alliance Battles. Visit the NPC contact for your faction located in your guild hall, and you will be taken to the staging area of one of five maps. Two maps favor the Kurzicks, two maps favor the Luxons, and one is neutral. Winning on a map favored by your enemy grants you bonus faction points. Faction points are used to increase you, your guild's, and your alliance's standing with the faction you belong to. Alliances with enough faction points can have entire in game towns given to them, granting them special bonuses and perks (that, and everyone who enters that town or outpost gets reminded who's house their in). You can also buy crafting materials and PvE only skills. The more faction you transfer into alliance, the higher your "rank" gets. It's tracked in the form of a title, letting everyone know that you've toiled away. That, and it's easier to get a team for an AB when you're known as "Hero of the Kurzickz" rather than "Kurzick Supporter."

In this staging area, you join a team. You have control over who you team with, but quite often, you're teaming with strangers, which isn't that much of an issue, to be honest. Each team has four players, and each side in a match has three teams. On a good day, you'll be teamed with three friends, playing with eight strangers, competing against twelve other strangers. On any other day, you're playing with eleven strangers, against twelve strangers, one of which might have a grudge from a previous match and try to make your life hell.

Each map has two bases, and seven shrines. You respawn in your base, or in a rez shrine. Shrines are captured by moving within range of them, which causes a gauge to fill or deplete. If you completely deplete the gauge, you've stolen it from the enemy. If you fill it, you've captured it. The more people present, the faster it empties or fills, but the speed is capped at four people, so anymore is a waste. Because of this, you are constantly on the move, trying to capture more shrines, as the ones you already control are being captured by your opponents. When you capture a shrine, it spawns up to 3 allied NPCs, which will stay and defend it. The type of NPC (warrior, ranger, monk, etc) is consistent, and based on the type of shrine you've captured. Every 7 seconds, your team gets 1 point for each shrine is controls. Every kill you score earns your team 3 points. The first team to reach five hundred points wins. In the event that either team captures and controls all seven shrines for one full minute, they win automatically.

Upon winning, you receive 1000 faction, plus one point for each point your team scored. Since it takes 500 points to win, you usually receive 1500 faction for winning a match. There is an underdog bonus for teams that win on a map favored by the enemy; +500 for a slightly favored map, +1000 for a deeply favored map. So, a Luxon winning in Ancestral Lands gets 2500 faction simply for winning on that map. In addition, in the course of the match, you earn 10 faction for each kill. You also earn 10 Balthazar faction per kill (PvP only faction, earned in any form of PvP). So, you can earn 500 to 1000 extra faction by virtue of kills alone.

I'm sure you knew most of that, and could have phrased it more concisely or at least, in a more approachable manner.

But for those who didn't, now you know why I disagree with the "don't fight cap" crowd.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

lol u mad?

Yes goddammit, I'm mad as hell!

Alliance Battles aren't hard folks. Not at all. Even if you're horribly outmatched, it's not difficult to stretch out a match and force the opponent to score 500 points. Better that, than folding two and a half fucking minutes into a match, allowing the luxons to capture and control all seven goddamn shrines, forcing an auto-win!

I mentioned earlier that in order to win, you have to balance capping with fighting. I still stand by that, but I feel that I should explain my seemingly cryptic message (Implying that somehow, you the reader are at fault, and I must educate you. I apologize, because I highly doubt that is the case.).

Fighting is approved in the following scenarios:

1. Ganking a lone foe, preventing them from joining up with their team. You should not do this if it requires you to run halfway around the map, spamming your IMS stance.
2. Ganking a lone foe who is solo capping, properly. You should do this especially if they come for one of the rez shrines your team controls. Rez shrines only reduce the time it takes for your team to rejoin battle. If you're losing, this is important. If you're winning, it's more important, because you want to force the other team back into their own base, making it easier to stem their comeback.
3. Defending a shrine. If you have a shrine advantage, keep it. Even if you die protecting a shrine, you can earn your team points simply by keeping it in your control that much longer. That, and the longer they have to struggle for a single shrine, the less time they have to cap other shrines. A single human player can make a shrine stocked with NPCs a tough nut to crack.
4. Pinning them in the base. If you have a shrine advantage, and the rez shrine(s), camping a base exit is extremely effective. Most bases have a Ranger shrine in front of them, making such camping much easier. If they can't get out of the base, they can't cap. If they can't cap, you win.

Fighting is a bad idea in the following scenarios:

1. The enemy is mobbed up. Unless you're holding a choke-point, and have a shrine advantage. this is a bad idea. Certain exceptions exist, like when facing a Minion Master. Just because they have a numerical advantage, doesn't mean they count as a "mob." When facing a Minion Mancer, ganking them can give you the advantage, or at least, create enough chaos to escape.
2. You're losing. If the match is close, and you're going to lose by a dozen or so points, forget fighting and skirmishing, steal their shrines! Stem their point gain, buff your own.
3. They're going to score a win by full shrine control. Dammit, take a side exit out the base, and take any shrine you can. Most times, people pinned in the base get hung up on capping the closest shrine, even if it's swarmed by all 12 enemy players, plus minions. Sending three people out each side, you can force a split, and break the mob.
4. You suck at PvP. If you can't spike, support, play smart, call targets, consider battlefield conditions, communicate with your team, etc. If you want to spam auto-attacks with Frenzy, while hexed with Spiteful Spirit, if you brought heal area on your frontliner, if you brought Ursan Blessing, etc. Don't fight, just follow your team leader. You can at least help cap shrines.

These are not rules, so much as good guidelines. Skirmishing with the enemy team is almost inevitable, even if you're one of the "omfg don't fight just cap" folks. Depending on your profession, skirmishing can actually be a great way to contribute in an AB. A ranger that liberally applies Cripshot or Pin Down on the other team can hamper their progress, splitting teams up. Likewise, tossing degen on someone and then leaving also helps, causing foes to arrive at a shrine wounded, or with key skills recharging. In fact, why not do both? When on my ranger, I make sure to harass others, crippling them and gifting them with -10 degen. Elementalists and Mesmers, along with certain Ritualists and Monks, can have fun doing this too.

To be honest, if my team is losing badly, and I don't think a comeback is possible, I break from these guidelines. I don't pull a bitch move like leaving the battle, I just stop worrying about points. I start worrying about my Balthazar faction, and start killing as wanton as possible. Every target, any target. Aside from blatant suicide, I disregard enemy numbers, or pleas from my team. I just start ganking Monks, Elementalists, whomever crosses my path. When on my Warrior, I have a deep desire to seek out and humiliate enemy warriors (During one of my killing binges, I engaged a Wammo that was using Heal Area. I miss him.). Otherwise, it's all good.

Points is points, and those Z-Keys aren't going to buy themselves.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prophecies is the original Hard Mode.

You know it's true. Don't lie, don't argue, don't make excuses.

Prophecies is the ultimate test of PvE dedication. How far are you willing to go, how much are you willing to put up with, and how underpowered are you willing to be just to earn that statuette that declares "Eternal Hero of Tyria"?

Hurdle One: Learning Curve
It'll give you whiplash, then charge you for it. Enemies go from being mindless and uniform, to mindless and diverse, to ruthless, diverse, and rather intelligent. From Yak's Bend on, expect every NPC enemy to be higher in level than you, and in greater numbers. Expect them to have very balanced spawn composition, meaning that they can support each other, and cripple you. Many first time players find the northern shiverpeaks to be a place of constant and brutal defeat. This issue is compounded by many of the hurdles I list below.

Hurdle Two: Attributes
Let's talk attribute points. Every fully powered level 20 character has 200. However, simply leveling up to level 20 isn't enough, that only earns you 170 points. You need to complete two quests, for 15 points a piece, in order to reach full power. In Factions, you can do these quests before you leave the starting island. In Nightfall, you can have both quests completed as early as level 7.

In Prophecies, you will spend much time without these points, as the quests to get them are at the end of the game. You have to make it to the 14th mission in order to be in the general area where the first 15 point quest is. Even then, you've got to brave hordes of Hydras, all level 22 Elementalists who love to chain KD you, with your crappy armor (more on that later), to even meet the NPC who hands out the quest. Then, you get to travel your ass off to the most remote portion of the southernmost portion of the desert, with no waypoints near it, and fight against tons of life-stealing necromancer foes, some of which are immune to KD, all the while, negotiating a map that's inaccurate, because the geography changes in order for you to reach the NPC that completes the quest.

Then, to get your next 15 points, you need to been in the general area of the 20th mission (keep in mind, missions are story-point milestones, not simply quests, they can be spaced quite far apart). At this point, you can craft adequate armor, but in order to earn the points, you have to defeat a level 28 Necromancer boss, who not only attacks relatively without warning, but can steal almost your whole HP bar with a single skill. How fun.

Hurdle Three: Armor
Players need NPC assistance to craft armor. The armor level of the craft depends on location, and is always consistent. In Factions, you can craft max AL armor before you reach the 3rd mission. In Nightfall, you can craft max AL armor in the outpost that leads to the 4th mission. In Prophecies, you can't make max AL armor until after the 19th freaking mission!

Now, this isn't a problem by itself, but you're fighting enemies that are level 20 or higher, as early as the 14th or 15th mission (discluding spawns you must contend with to do simple quests), so you spend a decent chunk of time with weaker armor. This is especially a problem when you enter the Crystal Desert (containing missions 14-19), since everything there is level 20+. Many players find themselves hitting another wall, unable to forge ahead.

Hurdle Four: Team Size
The maximum team size in Guild Wars is 8, with the exception of some elite dungeons, where it is 12. Factions allows for 8 teammates before the 3rd mission, Nightfall by the 4th. Prophecies does not give you an 8 man team until the 19th mission.

Hurdle Five: Mursaat
Spectral Agony-For 5 seconds, target foe moves, attacks, and uses skills up to 80% slower; suffers -24...1 Health Degeneration; and loses 81...3 Health each second. Damn.

Hurdle Six: Titans
Killing a Titan spawns another Titans. Titans spawned in such a manner do not drop loot. Standing next to most Titans sets you on fire. Most can't be knocked down. Most are not 'fleshy' creatures, so they can't be poisoned, diseased, bleed, or subject to corpse exploitation (so sword warriors, necromancers, and some rangers can all fuck off). All Titans are at least four levels higher than you, in Normal Mode, provided they aren't spawned from defeated Titans. Titans spawned from a defeated Titan are eight levels higher than you. They are nigh immune to fire damage, and can turn all physical damage into fire damage (again, warriors and rangers get to fuck off).

Other complaints are minor, or affect more than just Prophecies (Neither Prophecies or Factions has inscriptions, while Nightfall and EotN do). To be fair, I should point out that Prophecies has a longer (not larger) story mode, comprised of 25 mission, while Nightfall has 17, and Factions only has 13.

It's for these reasons that when I remade Reya, I made her a Nightfall character. Prophecies being an arduous campaign isn't entirely a bad thing. How the campaign kicks off caught most first time players off-guard (it's called Pre-Searing for a reason). The role your hero plays in the story of the campaign is nothing short of epic, and in completing all 25 missions, you victory is nothing short total domination of everything and anything remotely evil. You fight armies of evil bi-ped cats; you cut a swathe through undead hordes; you join a rebellion and fight an evil cultist dictatorship; you destroy an ancient race so powerful they are revered as gods; you destroy the only monsters strong enough (other than you) to defeat an ancient race so powerful they are revered as gods; you defeat the only being strong enough to enslave the only monsters strong enough (other than you) to defeat an ancient race so powerful they are revered as gods.

The Lich and Titans are so epic and powerful they get recycled in Nightfall (How do our leftovers taste?). Even in being the 'worst' campaign, it's easily the best. A player that completes Prophecies is equipped with the skill to tackle the other campaigns, and show everyone else how a real hero does it. It's a trial by fire, almost like a bootcamp. It's ruthless, to weed out those who are not worthy. And I hope it stays that way.

Pew Pew!

A long time ago, I decided I wanted to roll up a Ranger and try my hand at long range engagement. Less damage than an Elementalist, but more armor, longer range, and tons of nifty little tricks. So, I rolled up a Ranger in Prophecies and dubbed her "Reya Dawnstrike." Ground her up to level 7 in pre-searing Ascalon, then let her collect dust for a year and a half. Then, two or so months ago, I decided that I wanted to play a Ranger again, but that I couldn't bear to go 90% of the game with only 170 atribute points. So, I deleted her, remade her as a Nightfall character, and within 5 days, she was level 20, with a fully runed set of Norn armor (she looks like medieval Russian special forces), plus a few sweet bows, three of which were end-game rares from Prophecies (Deldrimor bows).

Capped a few novel elites, and tooled around Eye of the North for a while. I took her to a few ABs, but I felt that she wasn't pulling her weight, and I stopped using her so much. Busted her out again, capped Glass Arrows, and had some fun running a Glass Conjure spiker, absolutely creaming foes. But that build had energy issues, and got kinda boring, as far too many people use Stoneflesh Aura and Defy Pain these days. Again, she was shelved.

Then a week or two ago, I was watching Stealing Society and Rebel Rising (two top ten guilds), duke it out in a tournament match. Each GvG team ran two rangers, and all four rangers were using Expert's Dexterity plus Read the Wind (+25% IAS, +2 Marksmanship, +10 dmg, double speed arrows). In short, they were high caliber turrets with auto-fire, smashing the opposing team. The next update after this match, Expert's Dexterity got nerfed (+15% IAS, +1 Marksmanship), and the build fell out of favor.


Now, rather than being interrupt heavy midliners that use degen for the bulk of their damage, the idea of a "turret" ranger is popular. Some people still run ED+RtW, some use RtW+Flail for the same rate of fire, etc. Keeping this in mind, I specced Reya into a similar build, using Burning Arrow (which I capped this morning) as my elite. I didn't have any IAS in my build, but I had a few attacks with short cast times, so I used this to compress my damage in a spike.


Hot knife, and butter. We won nine battles in a row this morning, and two more when I woke up. Not only was the damage sickening, but I had far less energy issues than with my Glass Conjure build. RtW made using my longbow feasible (I normally favor Expert's Focus, as it lets me spam Needling Shot for 1 energy, with instant recharge on the attack), and on any of the cliffs and peaks of the Grenz Frontier map, having a longbow means you get to reach out and touch somebody. A lone warrior? Snared, burnt, and bled. Next? It was nice to overextend so freely, and be able to disengage a fight almost on a whim. Not nearly as brutal (or tough) as my warrior, but that's a given.

My next project is to level up a Dervish, and to find some use for my level 20 Paragon that I never seem to play...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mah petz

I briefly mention in my profile that I have three pets; a fruit bat, a polar bear, and a dairy cow. Quite obviously, I don't have such animals in my two bedroom, 2nd story apartment. However, each one resembles in appearance and personality one of the above mentioned animals. Let's start with our first pet.

Meet Isabelle (Izzy), our fruit bat. She is a domestic short haired, and that's all I know about her breed. We adopted her when she was a few weeks old, as a stray rescue. She was obviously the runt, and going on two years old, she's still pretty small. Of any cat I've ever known, she's the only one who would play tag. She would run after a person, slap their ankle, then run, expecting you to chase her. If you did chase her, and slap her tail, she'd whip around and return the favor. Playing tag with her was good exercise, back when we got her. However, she stopped playing a long time ago, and is now fairly prissy, as far as cats go. She loves attention, on her own terms. Doesn't like to be picked up, and makes some very bizarre sounds when angry. She was dubbed a fruit bat, in part because it makes a nice play on words, and her ears are frickin' huge.

Meet Alexander (Xander), our polar bear. Xander, like every cat that's been in our care since getting Izzy, is a feral rescue, born in the wild, raised in our home. I found him after he and his litter-mate took a spill off of a 30ft drop onto some concrete. His litter-mate needed medical attention, so I had Animal Rescue take him. However, Xander seemed more or less ok, and since his mother had since fled, I felt it was right for me to keep him. This picture was taken right after I brought him home, last November, before Thanksgiving. He has since grown, dramatically. As it turns out, Xander is a Maine-Coon mix (1/4, I believe). He now weighs almost 18 pounds, at a little over a year (pictured below, he's only 6 months old). From what I've read, I am to expect him to continue growing until age three, and expect him to live for twenty years, easy.

Xander was raised with Izzy, and eventually, nine other kittens, eight were feral rescues (caught by myself), and one was a stray rescued from the median on I-95 Northbound (Dubbed Jersey, she later died of an infection that the vet missed. She was the first and only cat to die in our care, and it was hard watching such a young cat fade like that.) Because of this, he is very comfortable around people, and greets most visitors at the door. He is also the only act I know of to play fetch. And much like a dog, he'll enter the room and wake me up, so I can play with him. He will still rough-house with me, and is very animated. But he still sounds like a kitten, and his meows and chirps do not fit his robust frame. Quite often, when watching TV or using my desktop, he'll jump into my lap, look up and my, and whine till I scratch him. And whine loud, while trying to maintain eye contact. I've never cared for a pet more than I do for Xander. My sister-in-laws started calling him a polar bear, after watching him lumber around our apartment.

Lastly, we have the most recent addition to our family, Benny, the dairy cow (in need of orthodontic work). Benny was one of three kittens captured, the last full litter I recovered last spring. His brother and sister were adopted by a very loving couple, who dote on them constantly (we got some nice picture back not long after the adoption). Benny, is small for his age, and heavy for his size. When his baby teeth fell out, something shift wrong, cause his upper and lower canines to overlap wrong. While his ability to eat has not been impaired, and his demeanor is still incredibly upbeat, it caused him to droll for about two weeks straight, and now his canines are seemingly inverted (the upper canines rest in between the lower canines, rather than the other way around). He doesn't meow, he moos. That, combined with his girth and coat, earned him the nickname "dairy cat." He's most likely to pick on Izzy when in the mood to play, even though he refuses to play with me.

As I'm sure you noticed, I mention several times that I had rescued/captured many cats. My place of employment has many wild cats that roam around, and sometimes it causes problems. The county I live in stopped trying to control the feral population, so I got permission from my Sgt to place live traps. With a little luck, and a little poking around, I was able to live-trap seven kittens, and five adults. I also performed a manual capture on one kitten, and there was also Jersey, but finding her was pure luck. The kittens received medical treatment from a local clinic, to verify they were healthy, and treat them for any parasites found. They were all spayed/neutered at this same clinic. Of the eight kittens that lived, seven were adopted, six of those by people I work with. My Aunt-in-law adopted the seventh.

The adults were spayed/neutered, were given rabies shots, and had their left ears 'tipped' (a small portion of each left ear was removed, so that we could identify, at range, cats that had already been captured, and been given treatment). These adults were then released back where I had captured them. One of the adults needed surgery, to treat a latent wound. All of this was paid for out of pocket, although we were fortunate enough to receive some money back from the people who fostered kittens, which covered the shots and surgery each one received.

In a funny twist, one of the litters was actually related to Xander. The kittens, pictured left, have the same mother as Xander (unsure about the father, but I read that a female cat can have kittens from multiple fathers in a single litter). Pictured here are Bubbles, Scrappy, Fuzzy, Tibal, and Shy Guy. Tibal was a manual capture, Bubbles and Shy Guy were caught in the same trap, while Scrappy and Fuzzy were caught individually from the same area. Scrappy earned her name by ripping up my right forearm, and having my boss send me to Patient First (thanks Scrappy). Initially, all the kittens we rescued were hostile, but this is mainly a result of them being scared. Luckily, none of these cats were alone, and it helped them a lot to be with familiar creatures. Many people I've spoken too want more cats, but are concerned with how the animals they already have will react to the visitor. The first few weeks are always rough, but if you are patient, and give it time, they will acclimate to each other. Just because they hiss at first, or try to hide, doesn't mean it will never work. Many people sabotage themselves by expecting the first encounter to foreshadow how they will get along for the rest of their lives. This is not true.
For example, Tibal (Tai for short), was adopted by my Aunt-in-law. They have a golden retriever named Chance, that's huge. Tai, at the time, was about 6 pounds, still very small. At first, Tai was terrified of Chance, while the dog wanted desperately to play with the act (Chance kept bringing Tai his toys). These days, not only do the dog and cat rough-house with each other, but when Tai wants to go inside, Chance will walk up to the door and bark till they open the door, just so Tai can go in. If a dog and cat can do that in a matter of months, please believe your pets can do it too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Expanding Horizons

One of the things I enjoy most about Guild Wars, over World of Warcraft, is the ability to change skills and attribute points on the fly. I love the flexibility of it. I especially like being able to save builds, and access them at will. It makes it so much easier to change up between missions and quests.

However, for the longest time, whenever it came to a hammer build, I'd only use the elite Backbreaker. Frankly, Backbreak is brutal. Unconditional knockdown, pair with solid bonus damage, and the longest knockdown in the game. However, in order to put my warrior in line with some more effective builds, I brokedown and capped Devastation Hammer.


What gets me is how cheap the skill is, only 7 adreneline. Backbreaker is 10, while Earth Shaker and Magehunters Smash are 8. Unconditional, and it applies weakness. I had been using Backbreak with Pulverizing Smash, for the same effect, giving me better energy management, as opposed to using Crushing Blow for my KD follow up. So now, I'm running the standard hammer bar, Devastation, Crushing, Hammer Bash, Bull's Strike, with four wild-card picks (self-heal, IAS, IMS, rez, etc).

Well, I can certainly see why it's so popular.

I ended up having to craft a new set of gauntlets with Stonefist insignia, which was a bitch, cause ever since the last patch, the material merchants have been out of Amber. Luckily, I found a guy who had been hording some, and I only had to pay 300g a pop.

Due to the fact that I had been using Backbreaker for so long, I never had to learn how to 1/4 lock an opponet. For those who don't play warriors much, this is when a hammer (or anyone with multiple KD skills) times a KD to strike the foe right as they stand, leaving them a window of less than 1/4 of a second to act. It requires me to be a bit more active when PvPing, but durring an AB today, I locked down a poor Wammo for 12 seconds, while the rest of his team was scrambling around (we ended up losing, 492-501, but it was damn fun). Normally, I'd have planted him down for 4 seconds, then had to build adren for a while before I was able to do it again.

Yes, I know, I'm a noob for getting all excited and worked up over something this stupid. Sorry. Late bloomer and what not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Electric 6

I don't know if you know this band, but it might be worth your time to check them out at

I like them, in part, because they possess that same attitude that Tenacious D does. For example, take this excerpt from their website:

'Show business is often referred to as “the last frontier of Communism”. Think about it. Performers are beholden to the common interests of a faceless collective who demand more for less. In the advent of technology, the ability of the artist to make massive profits has been destroyed. Artists, performers, midgets, musicians, jugglers, magicians, deejays – everybody – all of us – we’re all fucked now.

The result? I’m not going to bring out your hamburger and fries in a timely manner. I’m going to take cigarette breaks every 5 minutes. You’ve made me wait in a bread line, and I’m going to rest my aching dogs while your white ass salivates over that burger just sitting there, taunting you under the heat lamp. And I’m not going to bring it over to you until I’m good and ready.

That was the Soviet Union then and this is Hollywood now.

But even in the belly of despair, there is always hope. We know of a small town, north of Star City, in the woody fields of evil Mother Russia. The town, Gorchakovagrad, officially never existed. But we know it was there and we know how they danced. They danced around a fire created not by accidental nuclear disaster, but a fire fueled by their own desire – a desire to once again be entertained. And to sell the entertainment at a high price so that they and their families might once again live as higher beings with swimming pools shaped like Mickey Mouse.

Gorchakovagrad made Ibiza look like Houston, made Vegas look like Newark. Men dressed as neon gods. Women dressed as lizards. Dancing was cutthroat, dangerous. Music was loud, sensual, sexual, brave, sexual and sexy. The deejays were Italian. Money changed hands. Fashion conquered all. The girls, though reptilian, were hot. They were sexy capitalist pigs that knew their way around a deck of turntables…..and they liked to fuck.

There were no iPods, no computers, no websites. No file sharing. No intentional neutering of America’s teens. There was only 100% pure entertainment created by humans….for humans. And love.

This happened in the Soviet Union. And this will happen again on Oct. 21 when Electric Six releases its fifth record entitled Flashy.'

That's so hawt.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hollow words.

I mentioned a 3 vs 11 skirmish in a previous post, and was able to dig up this screenshot. One of the stalkers started talking smack over broadcast, so I gently reminded him that I'd already killed him, three times. He denied my claim, so I took this screenie, as proof.


My teammates in this battle were Police Drone M8, a controller, and Shadow Man, a scrapper. Good times.

Friday, November 7, 2008

PvP is srs bizness yo

One of my greatest pet peeves about PvP are the stupid PvP music videos people post on youtube.

Don't get me wrong, I like to watch PvP. I like to observe high ranking GvG and HoH, see what builds are in, what team compositions do best, etc. Sometimes I'll log on and watch matches while I wait for guildies to show up for missions and dungeons. I find it constructive, and I think a person can learn a lot by watching skilled players compete against each other.

What I don't like are videos that are put on youtube featuring a single person, edittied by that same person, depicting nothing but victory, to the tune of Scatman and Linkn Park. Anyone can be epic if they cherry pick footage that shows nothing but success.

Take for instance, this vid:

This is Counter Strike: 2D. It's fun, and free, and a nice way to waste time if you feel jaded by your normal routine. This video shows Circa, the clan leader of Killcrazed, kicking ass. However, notice how almost half, if not more, of the kills are against bots (names prefaced with [b]). Not real players, but bots. Secondly, they show him knifing an AFK CT in slow-mo. What. The. Hell. You stabbed someone who wasn't playing. Do you record yourself knifing the wall too?

Now, I play on their servers a lot, and they're good people, and good players. But I've gone 107 and 17 on their server, against their players. I've had them reset the server on me half a dozen times in a row to wipe my score, while they were filming. After every kill, Circa (or whomever they were recording) would ask "got?" to make sure they captured the kill. I ended up getting slapped by the admin a few times cause I started asking "got?" after each kill too.

Now, I might end up being a hypocrit, cause I'm fixing to download the program "gamecam", and start recording ABs. I figure rather than continuing to tell stories in this blog about cool moments, I'll just post them. Maybe I'll just make sure to finish each vid with me getting owned, to keep it fair.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Police Drone, Leading The Way Into A Brighter Tomorrow!

Back when I played City of Heroes, I was a member of the Paragon Police Department, on the Justice Server. The PPD, or PD, as we were known, has seen many iterations, on multiple servers. Virtue and Freedom have seen chapters form, and there was once a Paragon City Police Department, PCPD.

What attracted me to this super group was the theme. To be a member of the PPD, at the time, you had to roll up a Police Drone. NPC Police Drones guard zone entrances, and certain buildings, but those are little more than hovering tasers.

I loved the uniform from the first time I saw it. All Drones were the same height, wore the same outfit. Only variances reflected level and rank. Pictured above is my Drone, Police Drone TH. We all used the same Police Drone "xx" naming convention, until they increased the number of characters allowed in ones name, then we extended the rules to Police Drone "xx-xx". All my subsequent drones were named TH-01, 02, 03, etc.

We were technically a role playing SG, but we never took it that far. We only had rules above talking in public channels. After all, we were portraying mechanized law enforcement robots (one of our leaders drew up a nice background for the group). We all tried to speak in a dispassionate, flat tone. And it worked. People often thought we represented in game GMs, or developers, some people thought we actually had in-game authority. None of this was true, mind you, but it gave us this mild mystique. At our peak, we had over one hundred active members, all acting in strict accordance with our rules, and we were a top 50 SG. We actually had fans, and of course, enemies.

At one point, a SG named the "Anti-Drones" formed, and frequently and publicly challenged us. Quite often, when PvPing, we would find ourselves the target of every possible player in the zone. In fact, this led to a very dramatic 3 v 11 battle in a free-for-all zone, where we won (it gave us a reputation as avid PvPers, even when our membership dropped off).

However, these days, you'll be hard pressed to find a Drone an any server, much less Justice. When I stopped playing, there were only four other active members. It was disappointing, for me, as many of the members were close friends of mine. At one point, I had plans to leave the state and move in with a friend that lived in Florida. His name was Patrick, but when we played CoH together, he was Police Drone PT. I knew him before that, to be fair, but we spent a lot of time in Paragon City. Another gentleman, Police Drone R4, I knew simply as "Bob". Bob lived a hard life, and was handicapped by medical error (lack of action, really, due to mis-diagnosis). When he stopped playing, it was a hard blow to our SG. He was our leader, the foundation on which we carried our group. He went from playing 8 hours a day to not playing at all, with only the occasional post on our forum. Police Drone X9, on the other hand, never left, never stopped. He was actually one of the roots of the entire Justice community, and his staying did a lot to carry us through the time when we had single digit membership.

I miss that group, and that game. I met a lot of great people, who I like to think of as friends. I know lots of people who think that friends made playing a game online are inferior to ones made in real-life, but I disagree to a point. I had actually conversations with these people, thanks to voice-chat programs like Teamspeak and Ventrillo. I recognized their voices, could hear the emotion in them when they spoke. I may have only been able to see a virtual avatar that represented them, but I might as well have been sitting next to them.

People like Patrick, and his girlfriend Tiffany, good people, who I miss.

I just took a moment to visit the SG site, a very bittersweet feeling. Maybe I do get too invested in gaming.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kids, protect your backline.

Alliance Battle, at Grenz.

A minute or so in, my team went out the front door of the spawn, captured the resurrection orb shrine, crossed the bridge, and captured the central resurrection shrine. We cut left, towards the elite warrior shrine, as the team to my right heads for the elite elementalist shrine. A group of luxons head to my left, towards the mesmer shrine, and is met by the four of my teammates, who try to stall them.

They're losing.

Seeing that the warrior shrine is clear, other than NPCs, I break from my team, and rush the luxon flank. I soon find that what I initially took as the entire luxon team was actually only half of their team, plus a minion mancer and his army. Next to him is a monk, in front of them are two elementalists, and past that, their frontliners are pounding my teammates. My attacks are already fully charged, so I pick a target. I opt for the necro, who's already wounded from sacrificing health. I run down my skill bar, left to right. Backbreaker, Pulverising Smash, Protector's Strike, Mighty Blow. The necro dies faster than the monk can respond, and the minions go wild, attacking everyone. I alternate between Lion's Comfort and Enraging Charge, and charge my attacks back up, this time turning my attention to the depleted monk, whom I spike down in similar fashion. By this point, the elementalists have noticed me, and I start getting pounded by Liquid Flame and Rodgort's Invocation. Even still, caught between me and the minions, they don't live long enough to finish me off (I hit one for 120 with Protector's Strike, as she tried to retreat).

By this time, I've gotten backup, and, the four teammates who engaged initially have managed to finish off their frontliners. We take the shrine, double back to capture the rangers shrine, and pull off a 507-174 win. Granted, the map was in our favor, but it was decisive.

Pulling off a 4 person kill streak, without support, under pressure from multiple elementalists, is insane, and I should never have pulled it off. I could have been easily stopped, in multiple ways:

1. The necro could have stopped trying to summon, and moved up to the midline, while flagging his minions on to me. I would have been trapped, and picked apart, while I tried vainly to create and exit for myself. This very thing happened to me yesterday on my ranger, when I over-extended myself.

2. The elementalists could have paid more attention, and started attacking me before I killed their monk. Even with Sentinel's insignia on my armor, I only have 100 armor to elemental damage. Liquid Flame should have been hitting me for at least 105 a pop, after armor, and Rodgort's would have done around 60, but set me on fire (14 hp a second degen). Both of them could have killed me before I was able to build up enough adrenaline to kill the monk, and with monk, they would have survived an attack from me if I changed targets.

3. The frontliners could have paid attention to their support. Granted, I was only one target, but as soon as the necro went down, at least one of them should have broken off and come to attack me, if only to bodyblock me and try to keep me away from the monk.

4. They could have had more than one monk for that many players. Alliance Battles are one of the most casual PvP environments you'll find in any game, but not being prepared is still not being prepared. Furthermore, the monk they had should have had Guardian, or something similar like Disciplined Stance or Shield Bash, to relieve melee pressure. Even an offhand Blinding Surge could have shut me down.

Fought a lot of Alliance Battles today (dumped over 15k Kurz faction before work), but this moment stuck out in my memory. More so than the warrior that was using Lava Arrow and Flame Storm, at least. God bless him, he certainly fought his ass off with that build, as badly as he did.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I swear I don't watch Naruto!

Once in a while, I hear someone say to me, via whisper or local chat:

"Lol, narutard"

Firstly, I love that term. My wife (who at the time was my girlfriend) was the first person I ever heard use that word, years ago. I think is accurately describes the type of person who normally enjoys Naruto, and rolls up an assassin named "xX Naruto Xx". Secondly, I don't like Naruto, I haven't even seen a full episode.

Keeping that in mind, why would someone say "lol narutard" to me? Well, my main in Guild Wars is named (wait for it):

Sarutobi Sasuke

Yes, my level 20 Warrior is named Sarutobi Sasuke. I created her at launch, and I've had her since day one of Guild Wars (all you Narutards who wondered who got the name before you, suck it). Sarutobi is a female warrior, mind you, and when I named her, it was in no way a reference to anything Naruto, or anything from Shonen Jump, for that matter. Of course, this doesn't stop people from insisting that since I named my warrior Sarutobi Sasuke, I must read or watch Naruto (as one perceptive player pointed out, "OMFG, SASUKE IS A JAPANESE NAME!1!"). To be honest, I simply couldn't think of a name, and this was the first thing to come to mind. I always envisioned my warrior as being akin to a Valkryie, so often I wish I had picked a different name, and I find myself wanting to delete and remake her from time to time.

But, I'd lose all her gear then. Her sexy, sexy gear. Not that equipment plays as big a role in Guild Wars as it does in Diablo 2 and WoW, but it certainly helps flesh out a character. And with the amount of money and time invested in her, it would be an epic waste to delete her.

Now, having all the campaigns that A-Net has released, along with it's expansion, Eye of the North, I have the luxury of having character names reserved for me, once Guild Wars 2 comes out (all you Narutards who hoped that this name would be available in GW2, suck it again).

Of course, when I politely inform people that Saru (as I am called by guild and allaince members) isn't a homage to Naruto, the next question is, what is it a reference too? I've kept that one a secret so far, but if someone guesses it, I'll probably give them a prize.

Alright everyone, let's go counter-clockwise, ok?

I like to PvP.

It's fun, it's dynamic, it's an ever evolving facet of most games.

In Diablo 2: LoD, I ran a pair of assassins, level 18, and level 42. Each was a powerhouse made to fight characters much higher in level, and win. The level 18 assassin, Solaki, was pretty vanilla; tons of +max damage gems, Twitchthroe unique studded leather armor, Luna Pelta unique buckler, and a few other unique set items. Go hostile, cast Burst of Speed, spam Tiger Strike till I have 3 charges, then unleash over 1700 dmg on my targets candy ass (average HP of a normal level 18 character is around 200). My level 42 assassin, Slice_O_Rama, was more original, and much nastier. Using the Martial Arts skills Dragon's Talon and Dragon's Flight, I tweaked her build to deliver 3500 dmg a hit, with 4.5 swings per second (almost 16k a second). Furthermore, I gave her ranks in Venom, giving her a 2500 dmg poison DoT, over 0.6 seconds, re-applied every time she hit. In order to catch those pesky Sorcerers who like to teleport around, I used Dragon's Flight to teleport attack foes, stunning them for a precious split second, giving me the window to tear into them. I was particularly proud of Slice_O_Rama, to my knowledge, she was unique.

In City of Heroes, I loved using unorthodoxed, seemingly underpowered characters, to relentlessly pursue and engage other players with. In the Invention Origin Era of CoH, I ran an AR/Dev Blaster that was stealth capped, perception capped, with massive inherent acc and rech buffs, with the ability to gut a targets defense and resistance. I'd, literally, fly around the zone, snaring Villains and revealing Stalkers, being a pest to everyone. People like to poke fun at me for using Assault Rifle in PvP, but I found it very useful. Unable to deliver a spike like Ice or Fire, and without that hard hitting 3rd single target blast, AR lags behind other sets. However, most of its attacks are instantaneous (no striking animation, once the bullet is fired, the target is hit immediately). That meant that any time I sniped someone, or blasted someone with a few rounds, they had no idea where I was. I could follow foes for a few minutes, confounding them, till they had the sense to simply look up, and see me hovering above, chambering another round. That, or I'd run my Invul/SS Tanker. Not nearly as many bells and whistles as my Blaster, but he was relentless and hit hard. Given that I mainly PvPed in Siren's Call, my Tanker hit harder in melee than almost anything else other than a /EM Blaster.

I didn't get to PvP much in WoW, but I did enjoy Warsong Gulch. I enjoyed the team based, objective emphasized combat, and I liked the feeling of storming into the enemies base. I enjoyed, more so, the knowledge that at any given point, I could encounter other players while questing, and be forced to fight them. In particular, I was questing, alone, in the mountains northwest of Ogrimar (can't remember their name, been too long), when I came upon an Elven Rouge, 2 levels higher than me, in the same area. I ambushed an defeated her, only to have her track me down and try to return the favor (final score, Horde 2, Alliance 0).

Then there is Guild Wars, in which I love to PvP with my Warrior. I prefer Hammers to Swords or Axes, I prefer the elite Backbreaker especially. I think that 1/4 knocking someone is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and requires very good timing. I like the Arenas, I enjoy Alliance Battles, and I hope to storm Heroes Ascent soon.

However, I've found Alliance Battles troublesome lately. I can't tell you how much I hate to hear, at the beginning of a match, "don't fight, just cap." I understand how important it is to capture and hold shrines, I probably capture more than anyone on my team. However, you HAVE to fight. You can't just ignore the enemy and hope they don't kick your ass, while you're trying to take their shrine from them. You need to be aggressive, and balance killing with capping. You need to know when it's a good idea to stop for a second to beat someones face in, and you need to know when fighting is a waste of time. The idea that fighting is always a waste a time is ignorant at best. I mean, you get points for killing enemies. What do you get from shrines? Point. Know what makes it easier to cap shrines? Killing enemies. It may just be me, but I see an odd synergy there.

Besides, you know it's epic lulz when I kill the Minion Mancer, and his minions turn on his team. You know it's awesome when I spike a monk and kill it while his Dervish ally tries desperately to stop me. You know that every time you kill them, it breaks them a little. You know how many times I've seen the other side leave the match after getting smashed during the first 45 seconds of an AB? Or how often I have players simply avoid me and run away at all costs, after I beat them in a 3v1?

Or course, it works both ways. Can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been Michael Jackson'ed to death by R/Ns, or worked over by Elementalists that actually know how to play.

Anyway, I digress. Point is, it's call Alliance Battles, not Alliance Real Estate. Fighting and Capping should be balance, and the team that does so wins.