Home > Uncategorized > A Patch-History of WAR ~ The Age of Many Ages

A Patch-History of WAR ~ The Age of Many Ages

Yesterday we looked at the final 8 months of the first year of Warhammer Online and how these months continued the trend of improvement initiated by the first patch cycle in 2008. The first 4 months of patching consisted of weekly patches fixing numerous bugs that appeared after launch; the latter 8 months however shifted to a monthly patch cycle that aimed on primarily improving the end-game experience and making the armor sets required for this end-game more attainable. Thus far the Patch-History of WAR showed progress and improvement.

A common joke among those trying to sound clever is that if pro is the opposite of con, and progress means moving forward, then congress must mean moving backwards. For many, this patch-cycle could easily have been dubbed the Age of Congress, but in my mind I have chosen to call it the Age of Many Ages because so many new terms arose from this time period. Perhaps things were improved, I will admit that many improvements were made; however, I will maintain that the general trend of this patch-cycle was to remove certain aspects of the game as to ease the attainment of the end-goal (the Sovereign armor set) and in the process of doing this decisions were made with unforeseen consequences. The Golden Age and the Age of the Tortoise’s Progress were a time when the realm had to work together, when cooperation was at its highest. Guilds had strong roles in RvR, alliances held sway in the T4 campaign. In the Age of Many Ages, this realm-unity was slowly dissolved until we reached a point where coordination and unity no longer served a purpose. Let us take a look at how things began to fall apart…

1.3.2 Oct 15 2009
Fortresses are removed
Introduction of the “New User Journey”
-New players start in Empire/Chaos Chapter 1
-New Voice-over Tutorial
-Chapter 1 Empire and Chaos restructured for new changes
-Hunter’s Vale introduced permanantly in T1
-New players put in new player guild when leaving Chapter 1
Introduction of Apprentice System
Introduction of Realm Captain and Advice chat channels
Flying mobs to move less erratically when changing elevation
BG’s given Dark Protector to gain Hatred from
Marauder Mutations copy main-hand weapon onto off-hand
Marauder Gifts changed
SW No Quarter Tactic redesigned to reduce cast time of Eagle Eye by 1s but increase AP cost
Stuns replaced with Knock-downs for several classes
Warlord and Sovereign Armor available for purchase with RvR currency
Ram contribution given to ram assistants as well
Enemy instances available in Contested cities (Sigmars, Warpblade Tunnels, Blood & Bile)
Public Quest Icons added to maps which will show active participants
Drop-down features added for character creation
Scenarios grant Influence, Renown, and currency upon zone capture
SC min/max population numbers adjusted for more frequent pops
Contested City PQs now grant renown upon completion
Pendulum trap disabled in ToVL
Free Endless Trial Launched Nov 6th 2009

1.3.3 Dec 2 2009
Introduction of the Underdog System
Blooom and HDR introduced with “Oooh, shiny!” setting
Introduction of the WAR Report
Flight masters now mounted
Empire and Chaos Ch4 included in New User Journey
Healing Boon, Defensive Boon, Merchant’s Gift, and Artisan’s Gift removed
Blood of Black Cairn mechanic changed to a 5-point capture SC

1.3.4 Feb 2 2010
Introduction of Scenario Currency and Scenario Weapons
Scenarios restructured into permanent scenarios with old scenarios reappearing in Weekend Warfronts
T4 Campaign resets when city enters captured state
T2 ORvR Bolster increased to R21; T3 to R31; and T4 to R40
Numerous career bug fixes
Pendulum Trap in ToVL enabled once more
Fixed terrain exploits in LotD allowing access into enemy warcamps
Talismen given levels preventing low rank players from equipping high level talis; armor and resist talis reduced in potency
T1-3 No longer display Underdog dots since Underdog did not affect those tiers

1.3.5 May 18 2010
Items recategorized into types (i.e. heavy armor, not SM or IB specific)
Mini-Map Edge Tracker introduced
Combat Highlighting introduced
Additional backpack slots available for purchase
Additional vault tabs added (both personal and guild)
AFK changes with 2m idle-hands debuff to boot AFK players
ToVL Purges redone
Heirophant Eurphrata redesigned
Dungeon Mob loot decay timers increased to 15 minutes
Guild Heraldry and Tactics can be reset
‘The Red Plague Has Come’ Numerous NPCs relocated and numbers reduced across the board
Maps for peaceful cities updated and color coded
Crests down-convert at a ration of 1:1 (use to be 1:5)
New Invader-Royal crest jewelry Items with 14 day decay timers
New LotD steed purchasable with Invader crests with 30 day decay timer
Dye bleaching agents introduced
Complete City Revamp to a 24v24 fight
-Altdorf War Quarters and IC Undercroft incorporated
-Victory Points no longer contribute to city stages
-First stage consists of players destroying siege weapons around BO and capturing them with sappers
-Second stage consists of players escorting friendly Warlords and killing enemy Warlords.
-Third stage consists of players defeating enemy champions (one of each archetype) and then the enemy king while
protecting their champions and king
-No NPC damages players
-The rewards for the three stages of the city are respectively Invader, Warlord, and Sovereign Gear based off of PQ
loot rolls
Armor dyes vastly improved to better match colors
New heads and hair for Empire, Chaos, D.Elf, and H.Elf toons
Lauch of WAR in Korea
New art for scenario weapons (Empire, Chaos, Dwarf, and Greenskin)

1.3.6 Aug 16 2010
WAR incorporates EU servers
Alternate Appearnce system introduced
Against All Odds Introduced
Sovereign Armor split sets
Auction House Revamp
Victory Point revamp eliminating PvE and Prior Tier ratings
RP/Zealot Rune of Breaking/Harbinger of Doom Introduced
SM/BO Stance shift introduced
Minimum range removed from Physical RDPS classes
Redesign of Close Quarters and Expert Skirmisher for RDPS classes
SW Assault Stance and Squig Herder Squig Armor receive Str and Melee Power/Crit bonuses from Ballistics Skill and Range Power/Crit stats
Engi and Magus AoE trees buffed
Window of Perpetuity added to access ToVL
Players can no longer be summoned into LotD
LotD minimum level changed to 32
Further updates of scenario weapon art with an emphasis on H.Elf weapons
/assist no longer works for 3rd Party Add-ons
Sticky Targetting introduced
Skaven mobs added to T2 and T3 within RvR lakes
Heirophant’s Grace redesigned
While 1.3.2 is part of the 1.3 patch-cycle, I deliberately divided the cycle at this point. Why is that? Because 1.3.2 removed forts from the game, at least in the sense that they were part of the Tier 4 campaign. The sole point of this move was to help the campaign move forward. By October of 2009 the number of Renown Rank 80 players was quickly growing, and for the most part they were stuck wearing Dark Promise and Invader. Though we could wear Warlord and Sovereign, these sets were simply not attainable at any reasonable rate. So Conqueror gear was shuffled off to the Land of the Dead warcamps and the city gates were wide open with the forts sitting pretty and empty. While more city sieges meant more opportunities to get the high-end renown sets, it quickly eliminated the greatest need for realm unity – fort takes. A mindless zerg could not take a fort given even numbers. Locking zones usually required zone-wide communication with parties or warbands holding BOs, but taking forts required realm-wide communication for a second or third wave after the first wiped to soften the defenders (defenders had a longer way to run back). With forts gone, the need for unity only went as far as locking zones. Ironically enough, the Realm Captain feature was introduced when the need for a realm-captain disappeared.

1.3.2 also ushered in a new age for Warhammer, you can give it the sub-title of the ‘Age of Band-aids’ as Mythic began to amend the wrongs of previous decisions. 1.3.0 brought WAR Land of the Dead, a RvR zone full of NPCs. This combination plus the summoning stones introduced with 1.3.1 lead to the Age of Grinding-to-40 (which subsequently led to the Age of People-who-had-no-idea-what-their-abilities-meant). I knew dozens of players who literally leveled from 10-40 in hours using the Quay of Seftu before it was hot-fixed to not give exp while using the siege weapons. However, the damage had been done, the exp potential in LotD was far too lucrative to bypass; and with everyone aiming their sights on T4, Tiers 1-3 emptied out – they became dead zones as fast as the summoning stones could be cranked out. With the huge exp potential in LotD, the PvE lakes officially heard the last bell-toll; and with greater wards offered in the quick LotD warcamp siege, likewise the sub-Lost Vale dungeons heard their last bell-toll (even Lost Vale began to wither away as the new hype was shifted to the Tomb of the Vulture Lord which required the same wards as LV). Ironically one of the efforts to repopulate lower tiers and/or get higher level players to just take low-levels to T4 was the apprentice system which… made grinding in LotD even faster!

So to kick-off the Age of Band-aids Mythic launched the New User Journey! This was an effort to repopulate T1 and make it more user-friendly for new players. All players now began in the Empire v. Chaos pairing (Nordland/Norsca) and the battle focused more than ever on this RvR lake (which lost the Lost Lagoon BO). Shortly after 1.3.2, in early November of 2009 the Endless Free Trial was launched right on the coat-tails of the New User Journey as a ways of promoting new subscriptions. Well, as all things free, the Endless Free Trial quickly became abused and turned Tier 1 into Twink-ville and we got the Age of Twinks. Trial-Twink accounts decimated T1 for new players and began to have adverse effects with true new-players being turned away from the game because they couldn’t even compete in Tier 1. With the New User Journey throwing all new players in the EvC pairing, and the Endless Free Trial users being confined to this T1 pairing, the T1 Elf and Dwarf v. Greenskin pairings became dead zones. So the PvE lakes in every tier and zone were dead because exp was far better in LotD and the rewards for PvE quests and chapter influence is still utter crap (seriously, a +6str tali for the Ch 22 reward…?) Likewise the T1 Elf/Dwarf RvR lakes and the entire T2 and T3 RvR lakes were drastically depopulated. Oh and did I mention that with the removal of forts, cities were being zerged 5-7 times daily? And so WAR began its second year.

After 1.3.2, which robbed us of our beloved Forts, 1.3.3 was launched to continue the Age of Band-aids. Two months later Mythic has fessed up and admitted that ‘cities were being pushed more than we intended’ (a conclusion I and many could have given them the first day, but I understand that with bureaucracy things take time.) So 1.3.3 sought to amend this issue by giving us the Underdog System to give the realm which was being beaten into a pulp a fighting chance to… push the enemies city! (because pushing more cities is really what we want to do). Also in this patch Flight Masters got mounts because no one could click on the little buggers when 50 people were piled on top of them, and we got the WAR report to tell us fancy tales of lands far off! And as if the removal of forts was not enough, Mythic decided to bring us the Age of Removal and got rid of BO Boons and Gifts (however useless they were). All this just in time before Christmas!

Two months after 1.3.3 (Mythic’s typical 2-month leave-of-absense between Thanksgiving and early February), we got 1.3.4. 1.3.4 did four major things, first of all to address the Age of Twinks, Mythic stomped on it a bit with the Age of Band-aids and adjusted Talisman levels so twinks could no longer don +18 talis or +500 armor talis or whatever crap they were wearing. Secondly, to keep the zerglings on their toes, the T4 campaign reset when the city went into its Captured stage (the stage where you could do the Warlord and King instances), so while you were doing the King fight, the enemy was busy pushing your city. And lastly, Mythic took a new approach to scenarios and their functionality with the introduction of the scenario currency system and its associated weapons, and with the restructuring of the scenario-line-up into permanent scenarios for every tier regardless of the maps that were being contested (primarily done because T4 had 12 scenarios, but it was possible to only have 2 available scenarios if one pairing was locked and the campaign in the other two pairings was pushed to an end zone). Many dubbed this scenario loss the second slight of the Age of Removal (after the first great slight of the loss of forts, no one really cared about the loss of the BO Boons/Gifts). Scenario loss aside, the new scenario currency system did wonders in lowering the city pushes, as scores of players lined up for scenario queues sitting around in cities and warcamps, and not bothering with ORvR. So 1.3.4 was overall a good patch.

Three and a half months after 1.3.4 Mythic launched 1.3.5 which was a massive game-changing patch. First and foremost the contested-city-siege was completely redesigned, primarily to make the city a fight in which the defenders could be rewarded for their efforts, and secondly so the contested-city’s progress was not confined to your instances progress. Before 1.3.5 the city had a victory point meter, just like the zones did, and to flip to the second stage of the city (the warlord/king stage) every open instance had to do damn well and win its Invader PQs. If one instance lost, your odds of going to stage 2 were drastically reduced – meaning the consequences of a fight you had no hand in determined your fate in the second stage. This fact quickly made the Realm-Captain feature one of massive trolling and raging at losing instances. A common tactic among defenders was to simply hop instances until they found one sufficiently weak enough so they could stomp that one instance and prevent the whole realm from doing the second stage. So 1.3.2 all the way up to the advent of 1.3.5 was the Age of Alarm-Clock-City-Pushes. 1.3.5 changed that entirely. No longer did you depend on turnips in instance 7463927 to win so you could fight the king. No, now the city was entirely in your hands, and defending meant you could win loot too! While the change was huge and a great step forward for the game, it also meant that level 30’s could enter the king fight and win Sovereign gear – because wards no longer mattered since the king didn’t damage you and you had an hour to dps him down. And with this stroke wards went the way of forts, realm-unity, Dolly Parton, and became obsolete.

1.3.5 had a few other miscellaneous changes which were welcome additions to the game. Changes such as: new heads and hair for the non-stunty/greenthing races; new bank vaults for those of us with obsessive kleptomania; the ability to reset guild heraldry and tactics after inheriting guilds from people who had poor taste in banners; mini-map edge trackers to find your party; color-coded city maps  to tell people where stuff was; new art for scenario weapons; crest conversion ratios lowered so some guy with 1000 royal crests couldn’t flood the market with thousands of Officer healing pots; and perhaps another change to tally up for the Age of Band-aids – afk timers for scenarios lowered to 2 minutes to stop afk scenario-currency-farmers.

Three months later, just before the 2nd Year Anniversary, WAR got the last 1.3 cycle patch – 1.3.6. With scenarios popping ever more frequently and contested-cities finally designed in a manner suitable for an ‘end-game’, it was time to fix the final wrongs brought about by this patch-cycle and its Age of Band-aids. One of the greatest wrongs brought about the Land of the Dead was the Age of Grinding and its unforeseen consequences on lower tiers. This was amended with 1.3.6 when LotD was changed so players could no longer be summoned into it, and its minimum level was raised to 32. To compensate for the exp-grind loss, new rat mobs were added in the Empire v Chaos T2 and T3 RvR lakes (also meant to tease at the future). ToVL was also given better access with the new Mirror of Perpetuity. And to round-off the LotD snafus, the Heirophant’s Grace ability from the Tyrant armor set was redesigned to tone down the abuse it got from BWs and Sorcs.

With 1.3.6 the PvP department, which had been sorely neglected since 1.2, got some major changes: bomb-groups got another blow dealt to them with the redesign of Close Quarters; Physical RDPS classes had their minimum range removed and several of their tactics redesigned to deal more damage at closer ranges and to cast faster when closer (exactly like the Magical RDPS’s Heirophant’s Grace and Close Quarters which they lost); RPs and Zealots got a redesign and new mechanic with their Rune of Breaking and Harbinger of Doom; sticky targeting was introduced; and best of all – the /assist mods were disabled causing many ‘elite’ guilds to claim the game got boring and to quit. For the vain, the alternate appearance system was introduced. Lastly, in the realm of RvR WAR got three major changes – Against All Odds (AAO) to help the undermanned realm, which unfortunately led to the Age of Gank-Groups; PvE and Prior Tier were removed from the Victory Point system; and split-Sovereign sets which has eliminated the necessity for players to choose their gear sets or ever step into a PvE dungeon. Redoing the itemization on the Sovereign sets was a good and necessary step, but the split-sets made it far too easy for RR80s to max their base stats.

The Age of Many Ages consists of the second year of Warhammer Online, and for the most part it can be dubbed the Age of Band-aids as Mythic sought to atone for the wrongs ushered in by the introduction of the Land of the Dead and the removal of forts. But buried deep within this year are the Age of Twinks, the Age of Grinding-to-40, the Age of Ganking, and others. Perhaps a more suitable title would be the Age of Simplification – no longer did the realm have to work together to push a fort; no longer did the realm have to work together to flip the city to stage 2; no longer did warbands of excelsior-warded players have to assemble for king fights. No, in the current state, the city can be pushed by 6 players who can earn RR80 by ganking and level 30s can win Sovereign gear in empty cities. None of these are terribly fond titles, and they shouldn’t be. In this time of amending the greater wrongs, class balance was greatly put aside; it wasn’t until 1.3.6 that class balance was fully revisited. If the first year of WAR’s patch-cycle was Progress, then I don’t think it would be far-fetched to say that the second year was ‘Congress’.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 10, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Next post, insist that the lock out should be lowered from 8 hours to 4 hours for the timer to switch realms. And that the timer should start when you enter, not when you leave.

  1. September 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM

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