Monday, August 25, 2014

Neverwinter PvP a Highlight of Cryptic's Game

water contest in the Summer Festival Neverwinter event
Summer Festival in Neverwinter can be a messy affair

Once more I found myself enthralled by Neverwinter this evening, and it seems to be quickly becoming my No. 2 mmorpg right behind DDO. Currently we are in the middle of the Summer festival and I participated in the water contest which was quite fun.

Prior to doing so I jumped into some PvP in the 5v5 arena and for once it was an evenly matched contest. We lost but only by a few points, in fact it was the closest match I have been involved since becoming eligible for PvP. One of the knocks on this game has been that some perceive it as P2W. 

I am not sure that this criticism is fair, from what I have seen at least in the lower level brackets, some of the matches are evenly matched considering the composition of the teams. It is true that control wizards and other casters seem to be very powerful, but sometimes it is just my fighter against another fighter or cleric and or rogue and it seems as though it is a fairly even contest, especially if we all work together

I really wish I had more experience but I think it takes practice like everything else. Another aspect of PvP I enjoy in the game is that it isn't as dependent on gear as World of Warcraft. In wow, it seems that you may be in the same level bracket but you can still lose because you may not have the greatest gear, but this does not always seem to matter in Neverwinter. 

I won't pretend that it's all easy and effortless, it's an intense experience and there have been many times when I went toe to toe with enemy players who got the best of me one on one, but it's a pretty good thrill and thus far I am enjoying the battles. I think it gets more intense in higher levels, but I will have to wait and see. My friend is still playing RIFT and I have yet to experience warfronts in that game, but for the time being Neverwinter will be the go to game when I feel like pvping because DDO is not designed for PvP.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Project Table Top: Enjoying D&D 5E on a Budget

OK I am going to talk about 5th edition some more. This Sunday I am scheduled to continue playing the 5th edition Mines of Phandelver module which came with the new starter set, with a few changes.

You see, at our last gaming session my group and I had to stop midway because we were all still very unfamiliar with 5th edition rules. The main change will be that instead of my inexperienced self DMing, I will have one of my friends do it because, well he is just better at it and he has volunteered, thus freeing me to play a fighter character and kick some goblin butt.

This whole experience started me thinking that what I really would like to do, perhaps as an end of summer and going into fall project would be to take some of my old and classic D&D books, modules and set, specifically some of the info found in the 4E "Into the Unknown" book and incorporate the creatures and other material into 5th edition rules. Now wouldn't that be fun? It would take some work to be sure, but oh so rewarding.

I was vacillating on whether to pick up the new PHB, but seeing as it doesn't seem that long ago that I picked up both the Into the Unknown supplement and the 4E PHB, dumping $50 on a core book that isn't really essential for me to continue my game sessions seems a bit excessive and unnecessary. So I have decided instead to go the economical route and spend hard earned cash instead on some previously printed but still awesome material, most of which can be picked up online on this fanstatic website.

I can just see it now, how awesome would it be to be able to pull out a copy of that first edition Manual of the Planes and try to update some of the content for the new system? Can it be done? Anything is possible with a little effort and imagination and isn't that what D&D is all about?

BONUS: For light reading material this week, I refer you to the A&D comic book series published by DC Comics in the late 80s and early 90s and approved by TSR.

I recently picked up No. 33 "The Wager that Saved Waterdeep" for 50 cents (I know what a deal!) and will be devouring it tomorrow morning from cover to cover. I shall elaborate on it and other D&D reading material in subsequent posts, but suffice it to say that this comic penned by Dan Mishkin and featuring artwork by Jan Duursema should hold me over until the new IDW series comes out later this year.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Neverwinter put a spell on Me

I am not going to lie, I have been playing Neverwinter more than DDO of late, but that is not to say that I like one game over the other.
I find that at least up to now, I get something different from each.

DDO makes it way easier to group with folks so it has more of a party and D&D feel that Neverwinter which could be labeled just another World of Warcraft clone by some. Yet to do so would be doing the game a great disservice as I feel that it does utilize some of the D&D lore to offer a good mmorpg experience, especially now that they have partnered with Wizards of the Coast during the Tyranny of Dragons event.

As far as DDO is concerned, I posted this query to the forums the other day:

When I made my warforged Barbarian, I didn't pay much attention to things like feats and skills or even paid attention to a guide like this one

I  like my character and has advanced to level 9 but I am not sure he has the optimal feats and skills needed for best results, I never fully researched the requirements and I feel like rolling a new character and starting all the way from level one, except I don't much feel like going through the early content and quests once more.

Is it really necessary to acquire all the recommended feats and skills and what if I don't have them? Should I stop playing my character and re-roll??? 

I got varied responses from the very attentive and kind community but I decided to re-roll so that I could make the build correctly and named my new character son of Doomar (since my original was Doomar a warforged Barbarian.)

I read that a warforged sorcerer was a good build for someone new to the game, well I am not exactly new but I will be with this new character and since I am not used to playing casters, it will be a good experience for me.

I also wanna personally apologize to the folks at Cryptic when I said that DDO completely pawns Neverwinter. Actually, it is like comparing apples to oranges since each game is different and each one brings some good things to the table.

The main problem I have right now with Neverwinter is I transported to what appears to be a high level zone and unless I group, there is no chance of me surviving it. DDO leveling is slower than most mmo games by design so I feel pretty good about my progress in that game.

My goal is to reach level 15 before the end of the summer which I think is very doable. I may also purchase some upgrades so I can explore the Forgotten Realms content as I have restricted myself so far to the Eberron setting.

I also tried out the D&D 5th edition starter set last week with my friends. It was a very slow session with the pregen characters and module found in the box, but mostly because we were all getting used to 5th edition rules and trying to figure out spells. When you have a caster in the party, things can get a bit confusing, but I hope to sort it all out before our next session. Players still had a blast killing goblins in the city of Neverwinter which is all you can ask for.Maybe I will post a vid of one or our sessions, or elaborate on the pregens and the pros and cons of the starter set adventure for those of you yet to try it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Exciting Time to be a Dungeons and Dragons Fan

It is an exciting time to be a Dungeons and Dragons fan at the moment. In addition to two D&D online games, the D&D Fifth edition rules set was rolled out a few weeks back by Wizards of the Coast. It can be downloaded at their official website. I spent the last couple of weeks looking at both the basic rules and at the premade campaign, Lost of Phandelver in preparation for a 5th edition campaign I will be running for friends.

I won't get into many of the new rules changes here as they are thoroughly analyzed all over the web by now. The highlights however include:

Changes in proficiency bonuses. This is a bit different a little than previous editions. There is now a proficiency bonus of +2 for a first level character. Your proficiency bonuses applies to many of the numbers you will be recording on your character.

There are also some changes to the xp system of leveling characters and the basic set allows you to level up to level 5.

Racial chages include no penalties for ability scores. A dwarf speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor and elves now get dark vision. Dwarves are basically proficient with axes and hammers. Humans get a +1 to all ability scores if they are not using feats.

Backgrounds are also made available for characters. There are the Acolytes which will be popular with Clerics, soldiers and many more.

There is the usual starting wealth, weapons and equipment but there are also some minor changes to armor. For medium armor, bonus to AC is capped at 2. There are also no dexterity modifiers for those wearing heavy armor.

If you are looking for a good summary/rundown/review of the basic rules, I think that Questing Beast provided a concise and good one (scroll to top)

As for DDO, I have been doing house K quests in an effort to level my Barbarian Warforged. Ran the Forgotten Caves, Taming the Flames and Tear of Dhakaan, among others over the double xp weekend and had a blast. I also changed guilds to a new guild that provides me access to level 85 buffs.

Additionally, I played a few hours of Neverwinter on Sunday. This game is so different from DDO, still fun but more of a traditional mmorpg with a D&D skin. You can do questlines from quest hub to quest hub and occasionally do some PVP to break up the grind. Though I enjoyed the zones a character battles in with other players, I find it easier to group in DDO than in Neverwinter and the fact that the latter game has more of a unique feel (Neverwinter feels closer to Everquest 2 and other fantasy themed mmorpgs) keeps me logging on to Eberron more than Cryptic's game. I do like PVP though, so this feature may save Neverwinter from falling off my radar altogether.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wizards of the Coast Release Core Rules for D&D 5th Edition

It has been almost exactly a year since I last updated my DDO blog. But now that I am playing more DDO and Neverwinter, this blog will serve as my inclusive online presence for D&D matters once again.
Speaking of D&D, DDO would not exist without its table top counterpart. Over the long holiday weekend Wizards of the Coast revealed their D&D core rules for 5th edition, or what they are calling D&D Next. Going over the 110 page document, I quickly noticed that Tieflings and Dragonborn are left out of the playable character races.

Furthermore, Paladins, Rangers, Warlords and Warlocks are left out of the character classes. The new rules set is hitting the stores next week on July 15, but we get a little preview to get familiar with this rules set. I have noticed that this is simplified from 4th edition quite a bit. I wondered why they feel a need to dumb down the game, it is supposed to be complex. My friend Chris feels the new model for games is that they need to be fast to learn the basics and difficult to master all of the nuances. Euro board games in particular have moved to this model. He feels that seems to be one of the models they are following and I guess that appears to be the case.

Some have observed that the basic rules feel like a throwback to the “red box” in the unified modifiers. The red box was an amazing product indoctrinating hundreds into this role playing game and making it easy for the masses to get into table top RPGs, we can only hope the new basic set is just as engrossing and just as groundbreaking but I am not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, I am left wondering what this means for 4th edition. I just recently found enough free time to digest the Player’s Handbook and to try and get back into the game, surprise surprise, they go and change the rules on me! I heard a lot of people complain about 4th edition back in 2008 the last time they switched editions on us. Back then the biggest gripe was that it felt too structured, that the role playing elements was heavily missing, replaced instead by a combat heavy, miniature driven game some dubbed table top World of Warcraft.
I can see how some of those perceptions came about but I don’t agree that it diminished the quality of the game or that it stamped out the fun factor. If my local hobby store was any indication, people were still having fun running 4th edition campaigns, and isn’t that the ultimate goal of a game? For folks to have fun playing it? We can only hope D&D Next follows in this tradition.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Monsters! Monsters! Monsters!!!

Beholder from DDO 
Apologies for the lack of updates. Seems I have only been able to update after holiday or on holiday break, but as we move deeper into summer I hope to get a chance to play more. My dwarf paladin joined a guild last night!!

Lately I have been reminiscing about my youth as I dusted off my old 1st edition D&D books from the garage, it brought back a lot of old memories, some of these memories are the reason I play D&D video games today, and fantasy themed games and mmos like World of Warcraft and Dark Age of Camelot.

I can vividly recall sitting in the front yard of my parent's house as a boy, as I attempted to DM adventures for my brother, cousin and junior high school buddies, later carrying the hobby into my high school years, even though it was mostly a secretive activity back then. The jocks and popular kids would have branded you a nerd or geek and never spoken to you had they realized you were a DM, running strange adventures, much the same way geeks had been ridiculed these days, until the mass media started cashing in on the geek lifestyle through super hero movies and other ways to make money off the masses.

Well, one thing I think is lacking in DDO and which would make the game more fun is to incorporate some of the old classic D&D monsters into the game. I can't speak about later editions of D&D as I never really played them, but at least from the classic first edition Monster Manual and from Monster Manual II, even though I have encountered some of these monsters and foes in the game, like kobolds, Bugbears and even the epic beholder, a lot more from these classic pages penned by Gary Gygax should be incorporated into the flavor of the game in my opinion.

Of course, some might argue that the initial problem was that DDO is set in Stormreach, therefore precluding a wide range of baddies from popping in,simply due to the nature of the setting. Fair enough, but now that DDO is being expanded into the Forgotten Realms and beyond with the new expansions, there is ample opportunities to populate the game with some more of these classic creatures.

The developers did incorporate a bestiary in game a while back, which I thought was a magnificent addition to the game. In one handy resource, a player can look at the creature he has encountered in game thus far, and see how many of these kinds of creatures he has slaughtered by himself or with a party. DDO wiki also has this list of creatures currently found in the game. I can tell you that I have already taken down a great number of zombies myself through my DDO travels in Stormreach. What was significantly satisfying playing those old D&D modules back in the day, was each brought its own flavor and style to the given campaign being run. For example, "The Lost City" adventure module by Tom Moldvay introduced banshees, Cynidiceans and Werefoxes, which was not uncommon given the theme of the module. DDO needs to be able to renew itself and adding classic D&D monsters into the mix will give new players an introduction to these creatures and will make long time players such as myself feel nostalgic therefore more attached to the game. It's a win, win!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shadowfell Conspiracy Causes Dissent Among Some DDO Vets

Well just as I was getting ready to fully jump back on DDO this summer, there appears to be a minor controversy brewing regarding the new expansion The Shadowfell Conspiracy, essentially the game's second expansion (following the Menace of the Underdark) and specifically having to do with Turbine's new DDO iconic characters.

From the Turbine Developer Diaries, here come the DDO iconic heroes!

What the heck is an iconic character you say? Thanks to Youtuber Pr8Dator1 we have a video detailing the new Bladeforged and Owlbear permanent hireling. (See embedded video footage) but according to DDO's developer diaries, there will be four iconic heroes: The Bladeforged, Morninglord, Purple Dragon Knights and Shadar-Kai. These start at 1evel 15 and have their own race and game restrictions. (True Reincarnation etc.) More of their stats and detailed info can be found here, but what I find most interesting is the uproar their introduction has caused in some of the game forums, especially among veterans, with at least one polarized enough to call it quits, and dramatically calling it "the death of DDO"

Essentially this is a seven year old game and in order to compete with the barrage of game options and mmorpgs out there, including that other D&D mmorpg, Turbine is upping the ante on their Forgotten Realms adventures, while re-imagining their game with new character creations, new builds and a host of other features.

Source VG 24/7 had the scoop on all the new features to the game's third expansion due to launch on Aug. 19:
  • Two New Forgotten Realms Adventure Packs — Featuring new wilderness areas with new D&D monsters, dangerous encounters and challenging dungeons.
  • Wheloon: Horrors from the Shadowfell pour into the prison city where Netherese agents conspire to forge an army out of the Kingdom’s enemies. Players will masquerade as a traitor to infiltrate the Prison City to out the agents, and fight loads of monster.
  • Stormhorns: Deep in the Stormhorn Mountains, the Netherese Empire is preparing a secret weapon to use against the Kingdom of Cormyr. Players will need to make it through the griffon laden territory and deal with harpy ambushes along with giants and other creatures.
  • Iconic Heroes: New prestige characters that start in Forgotten Realms at level 15 and feature unique looks and skills. Each of these classic D&D characters are a paragon of their race and class and feature custom gear, appearance options and new abilities.
  • Level 28: Player will gain new epic feats and spells through three new Epic levels of advancement.
Again, I am more concerned with the community reaction, and not all of it is good. Turbine asked players to discuss and give feedback on the iconic discussion thread of their forums back in October last year, but players were confused about what the discussion should entail as no concrete details about the expansion had been given at the time. "If we are not able to TR, why should we even be interested in them" chimed in one player. Blogger Gamer Geoff in his blog, posted that he thought prebuilt characters sounded like it was "dumbed down" from the existing system and had this to say: "I personally think that this is the wrong direction for the game, I truly believe it has survived and thrived precisely because it isn’t simple and streamlined. There are lots of other MMOs out there that are simple and streamlined but only one clunky, complex, Dungeons & Dragons-based DDO."

Well said, I had the same reaction when I first heard about these characters, but I am willing to give the devs the benefit of the doubt, because as I mentioned already, with so much competition and choice, Turbine has to try to keep their game fresh. Another player said it was sad that they were trying to get away from their campaign setting to focus players into the Forgotten Realms. You would not expect an mmorpg to start you off in Eberron for example, and then shuttle you off to say Azeroth.

What do the rest of you think? Are iconic heroes a mistake on Turbine's part or a good thing for DDO?