Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Overwatch Preferences

I'm still playing plenty of Wow, but I was let into the Overwatch Closed Beta.  I had a lot of fun in it and reported a lot of thoughts and bugs. I've pre-ordered the full game for PC. Below are some of the personal preferences I evolved for each map as I got to level 70 or so. These were mostly all in public games and not competitive.

The competitive side of Overwatch wasn't available for very long and I didn't participate as much as I probably should have. I only played two games twice there. They were great games and people cooperated and I came out with 100% wins. But in two of the games, the other side had someone drop and nobody replaced them, so it was a bit bogus. The non-ladder games had player problems, but nothing that severe.

But without further ado, here are my reactions to the maps.

Watchpoint:Gibraltar (ESCORT)

When attacking, I really like a hero who can stay on the payload. The team does need heroes to take care of snipers the whole way through.  I'll sometimes take that role. But I generally prefer Lucio.  I use the payload as a shield. I can float right over it to avoid fire. My ranged fires being made from the payload are great visual "callouts" to the team where I see enemies flanking. Being on the payload is also the best place to use Lucio's ultimate. Mercy and Soldier:76 are also fine choices but are a little more reliant on the team.  Of all the maps, I probably have used the widest selection of heroes here as they all can work well.

When defending, I prefer to have a mostly front head-on attack hero. I have amazing fun with defending with a sniper or Pharah in the hangar room. There are beautiful nests there as well as being up on top of the ship. Overall, Widowmaker, Hanzo, and Pharah are my favorites there unless a healer is needed in which case I find Mercy to be ideal on defense as she can get to everyone and use that to stay out of harms way. Of course Mercy needs to do that proactively or she's toast.

I had hated this map for a while as it came up randomly way too often. Overall it's a pretty good map that can appeal to most heroes.

King's Row (ASSAULT then ESCORT)

I really like this map because there are a lot of terrain and access points that are not clearly obvious. It does have plenty of choke points, but they aren't terrible. The architecture is nice as well. There are two poor things. 1) Defenders without a teleporter for the Assault phase have a long of a run back to the fight. 2) The defenders home from the Escort phase has two doors, but unless the attackers are already in the room, you only want to take the right passageway.

When on attack, I absolutely love Widowmaker. She starts in a freakin' perch. You of course don't want to start the fight right there or you'll be insta-glib'd but give it a few heartbeats and you can take out the counter-snipers and then rack up a few more kills from extreme range before jump grapling hook to the next ledge and next and next. At the initial start, if someone already has selected a sniper, I'll go heals or an offensive character who can deal with the inevitable Symmetra sentry turrets or Torb turret.

After our attack team moves to the Escort phase there are a few more sniper kills to be made from the top hallway which has windows facing both directions.  Then all the defending heroes will be in most of the same locations.  This is conversion time from Assault to Escort is always a good switch time if: a) it makes sense as a counter, b) your ultimate isn't close, c) the momentum loss isn't a factor.

When on defense, I really like Torbbjorn or Junkrat.  Ultimating as Torb is great fun. I think many people do it only to mega-boost their turret. I certainly will time it that way, but I'll also make sure to have full ammo, not be near my turret and run for their tank and healer firing the short (secondary) powerful shots. I've run through may Reinhardt shields and shot their backs before they realize they need to drop the shield and swing.   Junkrat is next on my personal fun list. Then a counter-sniper. Then Symmetra.

Numbani (ASSAULT then ESCORT)

Numbani is an abandoned city battle with streets, buildings, balconies, and upper walkways. I absolutely love Junkrat for Numbani offense or defense.  Clearly I play him differently for each, but there is a ton of terrain to work flanks with.  I've also used Torb and I want to use Mei a lot more. Tracer is also brutal to defenses even when she's properly dispatched. The defense respawn points in mid-game are nasty.  And I've used Bastion with a good group -- but in a typical PUG he's not great alone.

Dorado (ESCORT)

I'm not sure I have a favorite for this on offense or defense. I've had good luck with most of the heroes, but none really stand out. I would say I switch a lot. I've had good luck with Bastion on the last defense line. But Junkrat on the middle defense. If I'm not switching a lot on this based on phase, I'm probably playing Mercy or Lucio. Both are great, and I'd pick between the two based on who else is in the group. Note: I'm not a big Zenyatta fan.

Hollywood (ASSAULT then ESCORT)

In the initial stage when attacking, I prefer to go with Widowmaker to counter-snipe and take out a Bastion. Then I'll look to switch to a Pharah for the western set and movie studio.  I should add that the last phase of Hollywood has the main terrain features incredibly similar to the last phase of King's Row. The payload moves in the same and there are similar access points up and around. The up part of that phase is why I like someone who has quick adjusting access to those points.

In a defense position, I love those higher access points for a final defense.  For the initial Assault defense, I'll really like a Bastion set up to obliterate a first wave of attackers.  The trick with Bastion is to set up, eliminate folks, and move to another great position. Bastion has good spots but they have to be cycled through.  It will also depend on how and where your fellow defenders are operating. I have had some rather amazing wipe-the-attackers on Hollywood when I'm sitting in the attacker's flank and counting to ten before opening up.  I'll switch for defending the Escort somewhere in the second phase. In that second phase, I've had a few great games where I sit Bastion on the payload and ride it back to the starting gates. But that can require a helpful tank.

Route 66 (ESCORT)

This is my third-favorite map. I love how it looks. I love the kitch. I just don't love the slog of pushing the payload. This is a very counter-oriented map. Maybe it's more like counter-counter-counter. Each role can be greatly effective or ineffective based on the opposition. Long range, short range, air, ground, etc. I will almost always take Pharah on attack if there isn't one.  And on defense a sniper or Pharah if there isn't one.  But all of that can be countered quickly by not being a particular counter to anything (more useful to counter something else) or removing the need for the counter. The slog comes out with the run-backs.  I don't play a lot of Soldier:76, but I probably should for this board.  His long range single click is dead accurate -- you just need to tap it instead of continuous fire. His payload movement is great. His heals are great.  There are a limited number of vulnerably placed health packs on this board. Otherwise, McCree would stand-out more. In a nutshell, I want to love this map but find the heroes alway a little lacking. And there is an Ultimate cost to hero switching.  Maybe this is the tank-lover map?

Temple of Anubis (ASSAULT)

My selections on defense for this are similar to King's Row. It is made of two somewhat horrible chokes to assault. I've played the full mix of heroes here. Because of the choke nature, some tanks aren't the best, especially if they simply help charge up the ultimates of the enemy. I have seen it played a lot of ways, but the most common is a solid defense well in advance of the first assault and a more bunker-command defense on the second assault point.  This tends to mean that combo'ng ultimates for the second assault point is how attackers prevail, and counter-ultimating on the second assault point is how defenders hold out.

Hanamura (ASSAULT)

On defense, I'll always start out with a Torb and turret near the main wall to the first point.  If there's a Torb already, I'll do a healer or Bastion set up in front of the first Assault point.  If there's already a healer, I may do a Symmetra and turret up the side building and upper gate access points. Symmetra's portal is always nice if you want to hold your defense at phase one.

On offense, I may take D.Va. She can rocket through a gate defense and make a joke of small turrets. Plenty of other damagers are useful for the same type of access but they don't have her health.  She's also good for a quick left hand air strike to phase two while forces are reeling from phase one. If phase two is protracted, switching to someone who can be johnny-on-the-control-spot is important. Vision is also quite important to the team as turrets are likely and in many different configurations. Taking a Hanzo may not be ideal for eliminations but team information is pretty important. Widowmaker has a great perch on top and on the sides of the gazebo right outside the main door, but then entering to claim the objective is next to impossible and you won't get as much vision uptime as Hanzo.

Volskaya Industries (ASSAULT)

This is my least-favorite map. It's a mostly choke point and ultimate coordination game. The second assault point is more than the first. It's not particularly fun.  Anubis has similar aspects as does Hanamura. But this is worse.

There are some tricks you can use as an attacker though.  For the first Assault, as Pharah and possibly Lucio, Winston, Reaper, and D.Va you can go to the far left of the board instead of the first chokepoint. You can then rocket jump to the landing area beyond the death sea.  From there you can skirt around to the Assault point.  You can do something similar for the second Assault point.  You can go up the right side and rocket jump to the stairway.

On attacks I'll often use Pharah as we can expect at least one if not two turrets.  On defense I'll often be a turret maker or turret. That said, Pharah's ultimate has to be combo'd with a decent ultimate otherwise she goes down if she uses it from the air. Pro tip: Use Pharah's ultimate with partial cover instead of hanging in the air vulnerable from all sides -- unless you're combo'ng it with a stun or slow ultimate.

On defense I'll try and hold my ultimate to counter if it's a useful counter. I also enjoy participating in the turret war.


These are probably my favorite maps.  I love how they look. I also love Junkrat and he excels at two of the three maps. For the Pit control I'll bump myself up to the top ledge on our team's side and lob crap constantly down on others' heads. You can easily reach the other side of the pit and there's only Pharahs above you. And people in the Pit are mostly screwed. For the Well scenario I'll pick something best for the team. For the room with a view control point, I'll bask in Junkrat's grandure.

Lijang Tower (CONTROL)

Once again, I'm a Junkrat Junkie.  The shopping center and corporate offices are both great maps for him. The corporate offices have tons of cover to make use of where other heroes need to be within to control the zone. The shopping center does not, but the area of control is smaller which is ideal for tossed mines and bombs. The central circular gazbo map is far less ideal for Junkrat. I've seen Pharah work well. I've seen McCree's ultimate dominate the open and closed area there. But most damage and tank ultimates area great for taking away the control point.


Nepal has a great internal square sanctuary. It has two short stairways leading down to the control platform. I absolutely love Lucio on this map. I'll secondary-fire push people off the board.  The tanks come down and I'll skate out and knock them to oblivion. Pharah and others can do some of that, but it requires more positioning luck. Lucio can make his luck there. On the other two maps, I'm once again a fan of Junkrat. They both offer great indirect arched fire opportunities and easy rip tire ultimates. I really enjoy on the move mortar fire, steel trap, and the lobbed trap and secondary click. He's a mortar engineer on crack and you do crazy instant calculations to get the job done.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Flying Requirements in 6.2.1ish


It will require these current achievements:

  • Draenor Loremaster - Under Quests > Draenor > "Loremaster of Draenor"
  • Assaults - Under Quests > Draenor > "Securing Draenor".  If you don't have them you should be able to buy them in your garrison.
  • Map Reveals - Under Exploration > "Explore Draenor". Use your feather if you can't find the specific spot.
  • 100 Draenor Treasures Found - I don't think the achievement for 100 is in place yet.  Use the one under Exploration > Draenor > "Grand Treasure Hunter" and get your count over 100. There are addons to help and of course you can buy map garrison missions from a guy in Ashran.

And it will require "three new Tanaan Jungle reputations to be at Revered.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Player and No Longer a Fan

What a difference a month makes.

I've been playing World of Warcraft for over eleven years.  I have been subscribed the entire time and never really stopped playing.  I like many features of the game.  I like many mechanics of the game. I like various changes they've made. (Though, I usually don't like it when they take something away.) Over the years, my main has cleared the hard if not hardest raids before they were an easier instance.

I played some Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Diablo and have tried Heroes. A few months ago, I would have called myself a fan of Blizzard. I was also trying to get tickets and fly across the country to Blizzcon.

I'm now thinking I'm glad I didn't get tickets.  It still would be neat and an experience to go. But I'm less interested and that would creep in. I'd feel like an observer instead of someone participating. I will still play, but my interest is fading.  I don't think I can call myself a fan. I'm just a player now.

Sure it's normal that the interest fades when the content is old and done.  And there are many contributing factors.  Garrisons are great and terrible.  6.1 is what 6.0 should have been. The raids are old. The zones are empty because everyone is in their garrison. But all that is a bit beside the point. It's something else.

It feels like there is a lack of respect to the players.  The idea that all that raid farming and hard won achievements yield mounts that flop around on the ground is ... garbage. Our flying mount rewards have turned to garbage.

I think Ion's justifications around not allowing flying are flawed. But the wow fan blowback on this is strong.

If you're curious about this, look into:

Monday, May 4, 2015

What'sup with Kheldul

The in-game Twitter connection is pretty nice.  (You can also access it directly with the /share command.)  I like it for posting screenshots and misc updates.

Twitter definitely relieves any posting needs here.  I initially made my Twitter account just so I could follow people and things and have a nice feed of stuff to read. Now I post. I do keep my non-game self and gamer-self separate.  https://twitter.com/Kheldul is the one you should follow.

Twitter of course doesn't handle long exposition. That said, I've been leading technology at a startup for the past 14 months and I don't have a lot of time for technical research, theory-crafting, or wild speculation.  I worked 65 hours -- not including travel time -- Monday through Friday.  Then I worked six hours over the weekend.  That said, I enjoy other's hard theory-crafting labors as the quick route to victory.

I am most likely going to be coming to Blizzcon.  Ticket TBD. I've been playing wow since day one -- and many Blizz games before it. This will be my first.  I'm not a convention-goer.  I'm a bit of a closet gamer-geek. I also hate Hate HATE lines. So I may need adult beverages.

Game Status
I still login often.  Usually a couple times a day.  I've only got four level 100s. I still raid approximately three days a week.  If we can't get 20 raiders we'll probably stop at least one -- maybe two -- of those nights.  We don't have any gear left to upgrade in Heroic BRF except off Heroic Blackhand.  As of this writing we don't have him down yet ... and we only need one more Blast Furnace kill for the port to him.  I enjoy Heroic Blackhand.  I like the balance of damage in/out and I have the demolisher kiting job in P2.

My daughter (age 12) really likes warcraft.  I have only let her play four times so far.  I'm concerned she'll become engrossed by it.  (Like I am.)  She reads each and every quest.  She remembers people's names and learns the lore.  She enjoys the appearance of everything much more than me. It's interesting to see. For now she's on my account. I toss her some gold and fun items.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Confusing Blue Messaging

General Information
  • Some class balance changes will go live sometime tomorrow, with number changes around 5% where needed.
  • There are only a few specs like Marksmanship Hunters and Windwalker Monks that are pulling a little too far ahead than the others.
  • When a spec is top on both movement and stationary fights, they usually need to take a look at the spec.
  • Everyone should be fairly equal in single target, although may still have niches (stationary vs movement). Once you get beyond single target, some might be good at cleave (2-3), some mass AoE, some burst AoE, etc.

These points seem to imply that the author thinks that the Marksmanship Hunter is a movement spec. Or that Blizzard developers consider all hunters a high-movement spec. Or perhaps that MM just is doing well on "high movement" fights.  I'm still trying to get my head around this. I have seen the first six fights in Highmaul.  I only switched to BM for the twins because the fire required a bit too much movement.  (I could probably do it with MM after seeing it now.)  That said, it doesn't seem like MM should be nerfed across the board.  I would think we should get a general nerf and then a buff to sniper training.  Or else I'm not sure what they're trying to do with MM.  Maybe they have simply forgotten as an organization. Is this confusion with me, the messaging, or the future design? I can't tell.

Class balance is good if all DPS classes and specs could be within 5% on average, that sounds great. The last bullet point they give could be fine or could be bad.  IMHO different specs should excel at different types of fights.  Nobody should be left behind.  But that comment could be a call for extreme homogenization which would be bad. Again, it is unclear messaging.

  • Level 100 talents in general are have some serious balance issues compared against each other.
  • They do think the level 100 talents that are underperforming but fun should get a buff in 6.1 or 6.2.
  • For talents that people do not think are fun, they may just leave them alone for now and completely replace them next expansion.

Hooray! Could exotic munitions and focusing shot get a buff please?  They're both quite interesting and intriguing options but lack the impact of Lone Wolf or Adaptation. Perhaps they'll just nerf Lone Wolf and buff SV a lot and BM a bit in other ways.  Blizzard's messaging here is intentionally not clear and that's fine for now.

  • If Hunter stacking becomes an issue in Mythic raids, they can nerf Aspect of the Fox or even remove it. It was added mainly because it was felt that Marksmanship Hunters didn't bring enough raid utility.

This sounds like a threat of some sort.  e.g.- "Don't do it or we'll nerf you."  If this is seriously the official messaging not just to the Mythic raiding community, but to the Hunter community, then things seem to have gone downhill.

Was this use not predictable? Every reasonable raiding hunter I know thought about how we could chain them together. Is this really news of some sort that it could be extremely useful if used in that niche way?

Did Hunters ask for this specific design?  I don't recall a single blog post asking for this kind of raid cooldown. But we had asked for dozens of other types of raid cooldowns ... none of which would be chain-able like this.

The other improper thing here is the messaging that Marksmanship Hunters needed the raid utility.  Is this some implicit hat tip to MM being the raider spec?  Even in the context of the first section declaring spec parity within 5% as a goal?  Maybe this is blue post didn't get any editing. Maybe it was written by while half awake.

Is my confusion warranted? Can anyone help me out?