Thursday, 28 February 2013

LOTRO: Check your stats

The website already exists since 2012, was out of date for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that it has been updated: the LOTRO StatCheck by Harkhonen. I want to grab the opportunity to show you this website and talk a bit about the meaning of stats in general.

LOTRO StatCheck

LOTRO StatCheck indexes information from MyLotro when a website visitor enters their character, and shows their stats in neat little graphs. To use it, you simply select the server you are on, type the first name of your character, then hit "Submit". To show, I did a test with my poor neglected lore-master, which I haven't actively played in about two months. I'm not expecting too much because I couldn't be bothered to grind skirmishes again for gear (she's still wearing the Limlight stuff). To the right you see what the poor thing looks like on MyLotro. 

The wristlets and ring don't show up because their icons haven't been uploaded to the website, yet I am wearing them and they do count for the total stats.

It's important to know that the stats for MyLotro and thus for LOTRO StatCheck are taken from the last time you logged out on your character. The gear you were wearing and the virtues you had equipped etc all count, so don't log off wearing a pitchfork! My lore-master was wearing her usual virtues and DPS gear - so let's see how she does on those accounts.

Graphs explained

Stats shown are for lore-master Ravanel of the Gilrain server on 28/02/2013:

As you can see, Ravanel is being compared with 799 'similar characters'. This doesn't mean there are 799 level 85 lore-masters on Gilrain, this means there are 799 level 85 lore-masters on Gilrain who entered their character on this website. The more people participate, the larger the pool becomes.

First of all, you see three differently coloured bars: the blue one representing your stats, the red one the average of your class and level, the yellow one the maximum seen by your class and level. I recommend to forget about the yellow one, because it's mostly for fluff. The lore-master above with 17945 morale obviously doesn't run around in a viable build, but changed their gear so they would show up in the graph on this website. Since people do this for practically each stat, the yellow bar is pretty much meaningless. So, what do we see here?
  • Morale: Ravanel scores ever so slightly lower than average. I'm not bothered by this, because this is my DPS build, in which morale doesn't play (much of) a role. It would be a different story if I would be in my raiding/Ancient Master build.
  • Power: In-combat power regeneration is more important than your total power pool by general rule. The reason lore-masters have a high power pool is (hopefully) not because they aim for it, but because they aim for high amounts of willpower, which automatically gives them raw power as well.
  • Armour: Armour mostly negates common damage (with thanks to Cory, 100% common, 20% tactical damage). You know, the damage those landscape mobs deal that don't really hurt you in the first place. Lore-masters generally have a low amount of this, and that's fine.

  • Might & Agility: These stats are more or less irrelevant for lore-masters, or at least not worth stacking at the cost of more useful stats. Most lore-masters seem to understand this. Again, we see some lore-masters stacking for the fun of ending up in the graphs.
  • Vitality: Apart from giving you morale, vitality gives you tactical mitigation. Fairly useful, but not something to aim for in a DPS build.
  • Fate: Fate currently has steep diminishing returns on the in-combat power regeneration and critical rating it bestows, although this will change soon. You will still get higher numbers of these by stacking raw crit rating instead of fate on items, though.
  • Will: Together with critical rating, this is the most important stat for the lore-master. Ravanel can be happy with her result.

  • Critical Hit: This is the stat I try to aim for on my lore-master, since it's harder to get than will/tactical mastery, which is on basically every lore-master gear piece. Ravanel seems to be doing okay, but I'd like to have more of this. The average lore-master seems to neglect their crit too much.
  • Finesse: I didn't really try to get much finesse, but apparently it came with my gear either way. It's good to have at least some finesse to be able to land your attacks. Nothing to complain here.
  • Block: A lore-master cannot block. Even the jester (I hope!) with the yellow bar didn't get far.
  • Parry/Evade: Parry rating gives a chance to prevent hits from melee attacks, evade rating a chance to prevent hits from both melee and ranged attacks. I'm not a tank, so I'm not really aiming for these two, but in a perfect world, Ravanel could use a bit more evade.

  • Resistance: This stat gives you a higher chance to resist any attack from a tactical source. However, this sounds nicer than it is: because it would be too easy to stack resistance and circumvent the dangerous tactical attacks of raid bosses, the devs disabled it there. Thus in effect, resistance only gives you a chance to resist a tick from a negative effect such as a disease or wound. You know, those things that you pot/cure anyway if they're dangerous - most of these negative effects don't do much at all in LotRO. In the Ettenmoors, the devs didn't disable resistance on tactical attacks, so there it does give you the chance to completely negate such an attack. For a (landscape) DPS lore-master this is a pretty pointless stat, though.
  • Critical defense: Nowadays, this stat reduces the magnitude of critical hits you receive. It's useful in raids for everyone (and tanks in particular), but not something I'm making a priority as a (landscape) DPS lore-master.
  • Physical mitigation: This stat mitigates common damage (mostly landscape mobs). I don't really aim for it as a lore-master.
  • Tactical mitigation: This stat mitigates tactical damage (mostly instance/raid mobs and creeps). I don't aim for it as a DPS lore-master, but it is an important stat for the Ettenmoors enthusiast and the PvE raiding lore-master.

So what does this say?

Some things you cannot tell:
  • How well your character exactly does: In this case, I would want to compare Ravanel to other DPS built lore-masters, but I can only compare to the average lore-master that participated in this website, including Ancient Master raiding lore-masters and PvP Ettenmoors lore-masters with different stat priorities.

However, the graphs might give you an idea about:
  • What stats you might want to aim for if you're still unfamiliar with a class. 
  • Whether you are falling behind on a specific stat that is important or not. Or, more vaguely:
  • How awareness of builds fares on your server. For instance, when the Rise of Isengard hit and stat caps where 'removed', many people stayed in their old pattern of stacking morale. They were uncomfortable to give up morale for DPS, while this was a viable strategy. Nowadays, the graphs show that people generally don't stack that amount of morale at the expense of damage anymore.

Overall, the LOTRO StatCheck is a fun tool, but it's also a bit like reading tealeaves. It helps to have an idea about what each stats means generally and for your build to interpret what you see. I think it's pretty cool that a player put in all the effort to make us this tool. If you have not done so yet, you should definitely look up your character and add it to the testing pool:

Have fun with the tealeaves!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

SWTOR: Goodbye, bipedal friends

*Wave wave* back, green octopodsomething!

Today the Gree ventured back to wherever they came from, and left behind a lot of frustrated non-Champion standing players. A bit of a bummer was that they went an hour earlier than the normal reset time, so many people weren't able to hand in their quests. Including me, who had just traveled the whole galaxy to listen to robots talking their incomprehensible gibberish.

...internal repair mechanisms... bla bla... brr, I wish I'd brought my coat...

Yeah yeah, I feel very grey parallel as well...

You're a purple tangent yourself! Now, can I please go?

Overall, I did like the Gree event. The dailies were just... dailies, but they were okay (apart from maybe those animals that really should've dropped more quest items). The PvP stuff was a new and fun thing, but for me soon lost it shine. Initially, I was a bit disappointed with the low amount of PvP going on: people were just waiting in line to use the pylon in the middle. Soon, however, I was turned all over and was getting rather annoyed by people in full PvP expertise gear ganking others. The reason, I think, is that there are no rewards for killing people, so everything feels like pointless violence to me. Of course there is a reward: feeling mighty and cool because you are in power and can annoy people who can do nothing about it, but that is just... crap. I'm this cute little jedi, I prefer people working together to people acting like assholes.

I'm left behind with a mixed feeling. The dailies were a nice change of pace to normal SWTOR life, but I didn't have the time to grind them much beyond the reputation cap every week, and it felt a bit unfair that I wasn't able to get as many reputation as others because I only have one level capped character. At the end of the event, I could only buy Xialin her own little borg cube pet (thought it was fitting for a cyborg). I'll have to wait for the next event for the legacy weapons and the amazing white outfit. The big question remaining is when the Gree will return.

Monday, 25 February 2013

SWTOR: Fashion victim

Tiger reminded me today that I told him once that I'd never roll a trooper (no offence, troopers, but shooting and the army really aren't my cup of tea). But this is different. Now it's about fashion.

Ever since I saw the White Scalene outfit and concluded it looks really bad on a sage, I've been longing for my own trooper to wear it. The set just looks so damn good! Today I couldn't stop myself anymore and created Xialin. Her hair fits with the outfit, just like her cyborg implant with the exact same colour of turquoise (she's also my first cyborg character). I'm planning on making her a Vanguard and level her through PvP, since that's the fastest way and I'm pretty much done with questing nowadays. For the White Scalene Armour, she needs to be level 45.

The only small problem (apart from being about 40 levels too low to wear it) is that you also need Champion standing with the Gree and I'm never going to make that before those evil Gree leave, tomorrow already. With only one level capped character, I have managed to max out my weekly reputation caps and am ranked Hero, but I haven't been able to store up that many rep items to make it all the way to Champion the coming weeks. It's a bit frustrating. On the other hand, I'll have plenty of time to level Xialin while I wait for the Gree to return.

Strangely enough, I'm actually liking trooper play so far (ssst, don't tell Tiger!) and it's the last republic story I haven't uncovered yet. I also love the voice of Jennifer Hale, and it feels as if I'm playing Shepard all over again, but this time in the Star Wars universe. It might actually all turn out alright if I ever learn to play her in PvP decently.

I'm probably a bit crazy to create a new character just to wear a level 45 armour set. The worst part: it's not even the first time. I wonder if there are others doing the same. It's all about fashion, right?

So what am I wearing?

I actually like the design of much of the starter armour in SWTOR, and this is supposed to be a fashion post, so here we go. From top to bottom:

To be continued... Playing vanguard.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

SWTOR: Ilum world boss time

For some reason, my guildies usually went with pugs doing the Ilum world bosses, but at the end of last week, we finally went together. For the particular world boss we were going to do, you needed to be Newcomer standing, for which I needed just a few more reputation points. 

My guild mates were really nice to have the patience to wait for me while I was rushing through my last dailies, and came helping when there were people in the PvP area just having huge gank fests in the middle for no other reason than to grieve people. (I guess the whole Star Wars community just read my previous post and decided to do something about it!) After a few attempts and a lot of traveling around to other instances with the same problem, they eventually just came all over to guard me. So sweet! I think I like open world PvP more when it actually has a point.

I'm finally entering the Grey Secant, whatever it may be

Eventually, it wasn't too hard to make Xenosomething end up dead (if you agree on droids being 'alive' in the first place). There were some casualties with people not realizing the adds really hit hard, were on them and needed kiting, but the fight overall wasn't that complicated. We made the 16-man Hardmode the second time, with four pug people.

This week we did it again, and I also got to do the other two world bosses, which aren't gated.

And then, most importantly, it was time to party with the jawas and the beatbox droid!

Or well, stand in the middle and stare at them, I guess. Perhaps we were all too tired to press the /dance emote...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

SWTOR: Ilum event fails: players don't hate enough

Just like everyone else, I went to Ilum to check out the new event. As everyone knows, PvP on Ilum is dead. Just read Shintar's The strangeness of Ilum one year later. Patch 1.7 was going to bring some life into open world PvP on Ilum, though, or so the rumours told us. So how did it turn out?

Ilum PvP

My adventure started with the obligatory polite protocol droid, this time sending me off to Ilum to investigate a strange Gree landing. The Gree are a somewhat mysterious but generally friendly race, or so I thought, but okay, off we go.

On Ilum, I soon found that there were two different areas: a large area to the north where dailies could be completed, and a small circular area in the south where PvP-related quests took place. Off to the PvP-area then, to see what it had to offer. I went with some guild mates in a party. Forming a raid wasn't possible: probably an attempt of Bioware to prevent huge gank fests.

The PvP-quests seemed to revolve around bringing glowy thingies to a pylon, much like in the warzone Ancient Hypergate. Only this time, both Republic and Imperial forces had to bring them to the same pylon, over which, I assume, we were supposed to fight.

The only problem: the numbers of both teams were that large, that a fight would end up being a massive slaughter, and nobody would be able to use the pylon at all. So when I arrived, people were actually peacefully lining up in order to use the pylon. Sure, there was some nagging with stealthers interrupting people interacting with the pylon now and then, but people generally didn't seem to want to fight. Ignoring each other was the fastest way to proceed the quest.

Don't be shy Tiger - crawl into the tauntaun to warm yourself, like a true Star Wars enthusiast!

The closest thing to PvP we encountered, was an oddball that was stealthed next to a quest crystal and attacked us... only to find out that we were with four and he alone.

In short, there wasn't much actual PvP going on on Ilum, although it was nice to get some 'free' warzone commendations for handing in the quests (100 commendations per quest).

Quests and rewards

Apart from the PvP quests, Tiger and I also checked out some in the non-PvP area. They were nothing than your regular dailies - gathering some here, killing some there. Not much interesting apart from the dead tauntaun above (awwws...). There was much competition for quest items and mobs because there were so many people around. Hopping to another layer wasn't really an option - even instance number 13 (!) was full at that moment.

So why do we need to do another set of dailies? What's in it, for me?

These tentacle guys will make your wet Mass Effect RP dreams come true

As far as I've seen, the rewards are mostly cosmetic. There are some cool weapons, among which lightsabers with a special Gree-tech appearance. Most importantly, the weapons are bound to legacy, meaning you can use it to transfer certain items from Imperial to Republic characters and vise versa. I will want this to eventually get myself a purple crystal for Delanee. There are also new outfits that look like they come right from Mass Effect:

From left to right, from top to bottom: Blue Scalene Set, Red Scalene Set, White Scalene Set, Gray Helix Saberstaff and Gray Helix Autocannon. I didn't put on the silly head pieces to prevent making it all look even more ridiculous.

I really like the look of these armour sets, especially the white one, but it looks out of place on a jedi sage. I prefer the dresses myself. The looks are so good that I'd almost consider rolling a trooper for the set only, but I don't know if I can bear the daily grind. I really don't feel that enthusiastic about grinding dailies, and I have little time to play alltogether.

The White Scalene Set and Gray Helix Autocannon on an NPC model, including the 'interesting' head piece. 


I was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic in my post title, but so far I haven't seen much real open world PvP on Ilum, which is a shame. Perhaps this will change during the coming days, when (if) the areas get a bit less crowded; perhaps it will continue like this for the rest of the event. If the developers would really have wanted open PvP, they should have included a daily quest like "kill 5 Imperial players" - but that might've caused a lot of outcries and drama.

For me, I'll just do a bit of dailies here and there - it probably won't be enough to get me a legacy saber, but whatever. I will try the dailies on other planets as well as the world bosses the coming few days.

Monday, 11 February 2013

SWTOR: I float and gain stats

University has started again and I'm very busy, but luckily I've been able to play some SWTOR in between things. Crafting and trying to discover nice recipes is perfect for when you don't have much time to play, or I just play a few warzones during a study break. 

Last week, I finally went to get the fleet datacrons on my main character Ravanel. It was the first time I did it, and man, it was annoying! We tried to pull people up with Rescue for the last part, but we kept *just* not making it and falling down, and then we could start all over again, trying to get in. I was so happy when all six of us finally made it! 

For those who don't know: the fleet datacrons give a permanent +10 boost to all your stats. You need at least four people and special items to be able to get it. Gamefront has a guide written out here.


Ravalation on datacrons:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

SWTOR: Better with friends

I've been really much into SWTOR lately. Somehow there's this feeling that there are so many fun things to do, while I don't have this urge in LotRO. On top of that, many friends have either returned to the game or started a free-to-play account. I forgot how much fun it was to play together with friends.

First there are three 'real life' friends that love to do lowbie-PvP with us and joined our guild yesterday. Together, we play a scoundrel (healer) and two shadows; Tiger plays his vanguard and I gunslinger Y-u'no. We have great fun over Skype while playing and I hope this will go on for a while.

Then there are two lotro-wiki friends that separately have been leveling jedi consulars on Tython. I've taken great delight in sending out my army of crafters to gear them up, and took them on a tour to the datacrons of Tython. I even rolled a second sage to level a bit duo with one of them (picture above, I already had all four jedi classes leveled past Tython). Not sure what I'll do with her - perhaps I'll keep her and do some lowbie PvP healing: my main sage is level capped, after all.

A cookie for those who can discover Delanee on this picture - now that's natural stealthiness!

Last night, I couldn't sleep at all. Around 5 am I finally gave up trying and went in-game. The fleet was pretty much deserted save the occasional general chat lunatic. But there was my American F2P friend, willing to let me drag him into show him his first flashpoint, Esseless. My shadow Delanee was around the right level (12), so there we went, two shadows and two green monsters. Everything went smooth (apart from two ocassional deaths, which we will conveniently forget) and at the end we looked like twins, wearing the same crafted and Esseless gear! Good times.

Friday, 1 February 2013

KOTOR 2: Strange new friends

Tiger and I have a habit of playing games together. Sometimes it's even single-player games. Earlier on it was Mass Effect, and now we're playing KOTOR 2 in the hour before we go to bed. It's a bit like reading a book, but then a digital version. The only requirement is that it has to have a story. If Tiger is behind the controls, I'll make the conversation choices and vise versa.

New friends

In the past days, KOTOR has offered me many digital friends, yay! Look:

I always liked HK-47, but these imposters just don't have his style. HK was never into stalking! My new friend is a skill and is called "Destroy droid". It's a bit OP, but that's okay, at least the droids are quickly taken care of.

Then there's this Bao-dur guy who found us after an unfortunate incident in which the Ebon Hawk was - once again - shot down. He really is a friendly guy, but what's up with his voice?! He doesn't talk, he just whispers with this low voice of him. Like these men that might call you deep in the night and make strange noises. Each time he says something, it gives me the creeps.

Pro-tip for male readers: don't constantly keep your voice down while talking to the ladies, it freaks them out!

My third friend has an artificial form and makes the sound of "woosh woosh zoom". You've guessed it right, I have crafted myself a lightsaber, and I'm hitting them where it hurts! I'm using a violet crystal I bought on Telos. I'm telling you, it's violet - totally not pink! *cough*

The strangest friends I've made so far, though, must be Mandelore and his Mandalorian followers. After all the people downing my ship and shooting at me for various reasons (mostly evilness or wanting to collect the bounty on my head), I wasn't expecting to find a tribe of cuddly Mandalorians out there in the wilds, giving a warm welcome to a jedi who exterminated a lot of their companions in the Mandalorian wars.

The best part was of course that Mandalore himself was Canderous Ordo (left on the picture), although he hasn't spoken much of himself yet. For the rest, I'm having fun buffing the group while Kreia shows off her OP skills such as "Force Lightning", "Kill" and "Horror".

It's not much of a challenge so far, but I'm mostly playing for the story anyway. Turning the difficulty up and spending ages on landscape beasts is not something I look forward to either.