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Gondor vs Mordor  |  Gondor vs Mordor 1  |  GvM1 Future Talk (Moderator: Rade)  |  GvM Concerns
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Author Topic: GvM Concerns  (Read 5039 times)
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« on: 28 December 2013, 00:01 »

Before I get flamed, let me start off by saying that I love GvM. Everything from the setting and it's amazingly crafted world and environs right down to the Devs, DMs and Players that still log in here. Now, with that being said there are some things that have been bothering me and I just want to throw them out there along with some ideas for the future.

I could be mistaken but I remember a time when the server was not as difficult and resilient as it is now. As it stands, this module can get ridiculously difficult, especially when you approach level 35-40+ content. At that point it seems to take either an extremely well built specialty character or a Dragon Shape shifter/druid character in order to experience and enjoy the server's content. I would guess that somewhere along the line these specialized builds and dragon builds were breezing through content so things were ramped up to cope. This seems to have made your average player and character builder completely useless for the majority of the server's content.
The purpose of building a module for people to play in is for those players to be able to play through and eventually experience all the content, quests and treasures it has to offer. Am I wrong on this? What is the point if only a handful of players who are expert builders can be successful and experience all the server has to offer?

Some will say that if you're a mediocre player/character you can still grind the non-boss content and have fun, but really...you can't. Firstly, even the high level non-boss content is extremely difficult for a (non-uber build) level 40. Second, the big point of grinding anything at level 40 is to collect gear, and any gear your farming from non-boss mobs is going to be rubbish, completely underpowered for your level. That brings me to my next concern: gear.

From what I have seen, grinding up through levels you rarely find useful gear. By the time you are high enough level or powerful enough to kill a mob, it MAY drop a piece of gear that would have been useful to you about 10 levels prior. For example, I used to go grind Field of Celebrant mobs for good gear once I was high enough level. Now I have found that in order to survive the Rohirrim along the way (which I used to breeze through) I had to be higher level. By time I could actually GET to Celebrant and kill the mobs there....the gear is mostly useless to me. What is the point of that? The majority of the gear on the server will never be used because of this.

The best gear is earned by farming level 40+ content and bosses and from what I gather is still pretty rare. This is a silly gear progression system in my opinion. We have white labeled gear that runs the gamut in power, and then there is the "better" red label gear. It doesn't have to be so black and white. Why not make white level gear common, but then there could be green labeled, blue labeled, red labeled, whatever colors you want to use. You can keep the uber rare red gear that drops from the most difficult bosses, but there should be varying levels of rarity and power along the way. The best gear could be considered "Epic" and still only drop from the most difficult bosses/raids, which require a party of 40's. It seems to me that it would be more fun if that instead of just grinding to level 40 to farm good gear...you could actually have fun leveling and occasionally finding useful gear as you go.

These are the steps I've generally gone through or seen on GvM:
1. Build toon, grind to level 40.
2. Find out toon sucks at level 40.
3. Build specialized toon or dragon shape toon.
4. Grind specialized toon to level 40.
5. Farm gear with mildly more capable toon.
6. Transfer farmed gear to specialized toon2 and grind to level 40...again.
7. Maybe have fun doing level 40+ content...if you can find a party of equally geared and specialized toons.  

This just makes a large part of the server a complete grindfest, which is really just a shame considering it should be enjoyed throughout.

So those are my concerns. I briefly outlined a way the gear system could be improved, but as for the server difficulty issue...I'm not really sure the best way to change that. Maybe I'm the only one who has these concerns and these things don't need modifying. Take my opinions with a grain of salt, this is coming from a strict Mordor player that hasn't experienced probably half of the server's content.

P.S. Sorry for the long post.

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« Reply #1 on: 28 December 2013, 08:00 »

I am not a power gamer.  I build characters that are often unconventional, that rely on infrequently used methods, but are interesting to me.  I find most of my fun in the journey from 1 to 40 - less of it after 40.  Most of my characters struggled after 35.  So, I agree, the mod is generally too hard for any casual gaming after that.

Making a smooth item progression is hard.  Item level restrictions forces a lot of decent items to be level 20-22.  I did target junk drops occasionally and improve them, and filled gaps (mostly for under represented weapon types) when I built areas.

My biggest effort to allow players to get items they could use as they leveled, as opposed to long after they were of any use, was revamping the drop rate system into tiers.  Basically, high percent at low hit dice, low percent at high hit dice.  I think it helped the low end.

I revamped/built a number of areas that cater to a casual gamer (like myself).  They have some good drops, and the bosses and their encounters do not require highly specialized builds or gear.

Haradrim base and encampment
Outpost and serpents
Ex-Dwarven Brewery clan
Kriefna the battlelich and the vampire mage
The bosses that appear in the swamps and Emyn Muil and Mirkwood south
Dol Guldur's basement and the swordsman
The Master under the swamp
Cirith Ungol
Henneth Annun caves

Some parts are meant to be

I bore easily when grinding and like to travel about as I level.  The frogs in Nindalf, different undead in the Dead Marsh, and bandits and ogres in Emyn Muil were supposed to give you a stretch of areas you can do around level15 onward.
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« Reply #2 on: 28 December 2013, 10:37 »

This WILL be long, because I'm explaining my reasoning as I go, but I'll put a tl;dr at the end for those who just want the general idea.

The mod is at its best when the party is around 5 -8 people:
Any more than that and almost everything in the mod is a cakewalk, except for a couple of the super OP areas like Barad Dur or the Temple of Doom, which can and WILL cause wipes on huge parties of top-level toons (damn you, Improved Whirlwind Dev Crit 70+ ab spam...), and all it takes is a single bad roll. I have seen a party of over a dozen toons wipe in the BD throne room, just because something unexpected happened to keep the tank occupied (got stuck, enemy didn't target them, they got flatfooted and died somehow, etc), and something went around decimating everybody else.
Any less than 4 or 5 players and you risk not having enough healing/tanking/dps ability in your party to cope with some of the harder areas; bosses with 75 ab, 80ac,  and IKD, who will absolutely rip you in half if you're not set up for them (oh hi there, Eomer...have you met Baragor?).

...This is, of course, unless you build some OP shifter (90% of the time that's a dragon, but there are a few other shapes who have niches) who isn't at risk of being dispelled and gets enough ab, ac, attacks per round, stats, and hp to survive the super-powerful bosses. Even they can't solo everything (Rivendell is one of the hardest areas in the mod though, and I've seen most of that soloed), but that can usually be fixed by throwing more dragons at it. Or a healer or mage.
The only other builds who can even try to compete with shifters in solo farming ability are Mages (usually Sorcs, because they're so versatile), and they are SUPER dependant on individual spells and uses. If it's not vulnerable to a bigby spell, and/or it does more than 50 damage per hit, it's a fair bet that you won't be able to farm it solo.

Standard hitters and such have it even worse - they NEED a tank to take the hits for them, or they just can't do anything stronger than the standard mobs. Some can't even manage that, because they're so damage-focussed that a stiff breeze kills them. Obviously, any good tank build is gonna have massive ac and/or conceal and/or DR...and so they end up with ab and damage so pathetic that even weak mobs (some of the basic mobs at the Outpost, for example) out-heal their damage.

The issue we have is that the total playing population of the mod is probably only a dozen individuals at best. Most of these people multibox, so you end up with reliable combos who can quickly and easily take down most of the mod on various toons...with minimal risk to their drop chance, because they're still playing "solo".

Your basic drop chance is 1.75% for almost all bosses (and many stronger mobs, like the things in Osgil). That's small, for starters.
For every person you add, your drop chance goes up by 0.25%. That's good. Not awesome, but it's nice that partying has benefits.

Except it doesn't, because your drop chance then goes down by 1/(total party size), because they get a fair shot at a split of the loot with a dice roll afterwards.
Adding one person (duoing) brings your drop chance down to 1%, because you have a 2% total drop chance, but only a 50% chance of winning the dice roll. That's nearly HALF your solo drop chance, simply because now you're not soloing.
Adding two people brings you down to 0.75%.
Three is 0.625%.
Five? 0.6%. One third of your original drop chance, just because you chose to bring 4 other people along (Your standard 5-man is a tank, bard, some type of caster [for trash mobs/buffing/debuffing/healing], and two hitters)
Using the drop rate widget, which was designed to help encourage people to party up (because maybe only one person would have points to use), only increases the drop rate by 2% at best (solo). That's 0.4% each for a 5-man team.

You can see why people tend to farm solo if they can. It's simply less efficient to form big parties, when the item you want might drop, and you end up losing the roll for it.
This is ignoring ALL the other risks that come along with bringing more people along on a raid, such as them simply not knowing the tactics or tricks for certain areas (and causing an unwinnable situation that wipes the party), or getting in the way (bringing a mage along and casting party-hostile spells which kill the tank) or just doing nothing at all and being a leech, yet still getting a roll for loot because technically they contributed (even if they did nothing all fight, they gave +0.25% to the drop chance, and that might be the thing that gets you the drop).

This is the main reason why we're currently asking for a drop-rate increase. As soon as it becomes more efficient to take more people on raids, you are more likely to get invited even if it's just because you can stand there and use heal kits on the tank. When you get invited, you learn the tricks and you improve your gameplay, plus you have a shot at building up a gear stockpile. This lets you build toons which are actually USEFUL on raids, which then gives you a reason to be invited.

1) Mod is hard because parties are too small
2) Drop rate currently favours small parties much more than large ones.
3) Parties are too small because large parties are much less efficient.
4) Improving drop rates more for larger parties would make them more efficient.

+1.75% drop chance for each person in party. 5 man party would have an 8.75% chance of getting any given drop, but it would still only be 1.75% PER PERSON because drops (usually) get evenly split after raids.
This would encourage larger parties, more raids, and would give people more useful gear so they don't feel so overwhelmed. You're still no better off (in terms of drop chance) than if you soloed the monster...but you don't HAVE to solo. The widget would be less useful as you add people to the party, but that would be countered by the easier time you would have surviving (and really, I don't think anyone aside from me actually USES the widget anyway) and the improved speed of kills.

This mod has been around for a long time; the assumption that everyone has some decent gear stashed away that they can use to kit out at least one toon is no longer true, and the gear-gap makes playing anything less than a top-tier uberbuild (right now, that's a dragon) a pain in the ass.

P.S. I doubt this will come up, but if anyone wants to say something like "But when you increase the drop rate that much, if everyone decides to just let one guy have something they really need (Balrog's gloves, Wk armour, whatever), it makes it MUCH easier to get it..."
To which I say "OH NOEZ! People cooperating in a multiplayer game? Like they're friends?! How DARE they?!" [/sarcasm]

P.P.S. Gear improvements tend to affect shifters less than other classes (because it only really contributes to stat bonuses and immunities/DR), so dragons will, in general, benefit less than other builds from improved drops. The fact that they're HUGE will also make raiding with them in a large party unfeasable, because targetting becomes a pain when they're around.
Anything that means fewer OP Farmdragons on the server (and more of all the other genius builds people have come up with over the years) is a massive plus in my books - I reckon most people only play them because they have no other way of getting gear for the other toons they want to build. This will test to see if I'm right.
« Last Edit: 28 December 2013, 18:57 by NLawson » Logged

I know I write long posts, but you would think if something was important there would be a lot to say about it, no?
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« Reply #3 on: 28 December 2013, 19:57 »

Thank you for the responses guys. I guess I had these two topics on my mind but when it came to posting about them I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts. This probably led to a slightly confusing/ranting post above.

Reading over NLawson's post I had a thought. As an alternative, if there were people interested, one could start a thread on the forums for somewhat of an "Epic Raid Guild." This could be used to communicate, inform and organize small groups that want to raid the more difficult bosses. For instance, I consider myself a decent builder, but I've never had to build for 5-man party play in NWN. I wouldn't know the first thing about building a proper Healer toon. The guild forum could be used for more experienced players to discuss build strategies and tactics with others, ensuring we get 5-man teams that are competent. If the guild told me "Hey, we could use a DPS toon and here are some decent builds for it: *post link or build specs*, I would gladly build a toon to get invited on high level raids or boss runs.
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« Reply #4 on: 30 December 2013, 00:39 »

The 5-man thing was just an example - there's no true standard for party play, and what you need in the team (or what you can actually get) can vary wildly depending on which boss you're killing and who's online. For example:

Balrog doesn't need a mage because he's immune to virtually every major spell and has amazing saves. A healer is almost mandatory though, because his aura inflicts massive fire damage (plus he will just straight-up hit you for 100+). In his case, what you really want is your healer, one or two tanks (if you don't have a healer, so they can swap for healing/rebuffing), an archer or two (because they don't have to worry about the aura), and the rest as hitters (preferably RDD for the fire immunity).

Saruman on the other hand can take any number of hitters if they aren't either super-powerful with awesome gear, or don't have irresistable damage (Divine Might/Favour/Battletide etc) to throw at him, because he's crit immune with great DR, and has good ab and ac. It's no use having 70 ab and a massive crit range for him, because you won't kill him any faster than somebody with 60 ab and divine might (in fact you might not be able to hurt him at all). You also probably won't need a healer (if he's going to kill you, it's usually straight-up saving throw failure), but you WILL need someone who can tank spells effectively. Mages or breach wands are also nice, to dispel his damage shields etc.

The trick is learning what you need for each boss, and deferring to those more experienced than you when it comes to making choices on what to make or bring.

An epic raid guide isn't a bad idea, actually. Most of the forum builds are now quite outdated, and there are better versions of most of them that have been developed over time, but not shared - if you have the best build, and you keep it to yourself, you're more effective than other people and have a bit more sway. If you tell them all your build, it pretty much guarantees you'll just see copy after copy popping up, played by people who don't always understand the build choices.

Some examples of builds I like - some of these you can find on the forums, some I don't actually know how to build:

Barb/Bard/RDD (28/2/10, mighty and thundering rage)
Pretty straightforward, it's a pure-power hitter. I think Wake posted a build design for this a little while back, which should be pretty up to date. You want as many Str/Ab/Damage boosting feats as you can grab, and your AC can generally go jump in a lake. I WOULD recommend heavy armour proficiency though, simply because there are many more good heavy armours available than medium ones. The great thing about this build is that it can work with virtually anything - baragor's axe or khamul's scythe, or another hard-hitting 2h weapon (Azog's sword, Sistra's Force of Nature or Balrog's sword are also good choices)...what you really want is a rare damage type so that it isn't resisted, because you get a massive number of attacks.

Ftr/WM/HS (28/7/5 or 30/5/5)
One of the most versatile and useful hitters I've ever played, because it makes virtually every other toon much more effective as well. Sestitodc posted his design for this on the forums, and it is ALWAYS welcome on a raid, no matter what you're after. The huge amount of fighter levels means the Fighter Widget can drain your opponents ac, disarm their shield, cause massive spell failure (no heals for you =D), and grant you bonus ab for a short time. The best feature is that it can actually lower their number of attacks per round, which improves the tank's chances like nothing else. This toon is a bit funny, actually; you trigger a single occurance of the fighter widget's AC drain or shield disarm, which leads you to start hitting way more often, which causes more widget tricks to trigger, which keeps crippling the boss. Very fun to play, but it does need quite good gear, and it has really low attacks per round if you don't dual-wield (double sided is best for using the widget and getting bonus WM ac, but you can use two separate weapons too).

Shadow Tank
I don't know the build for this one (I think this is also on the forums - might be a fairly old version though), but I know it involves a lot of SD levels, coupled with a lot of Dex and I think some PM as well. Basically, it makes use of Shadow Evade's super concealment bonus, as well as having high ac and crit immunity to make you virtually untouchable.
Downside is that it needs a lot of gear with specific immunities and such to counter the weaknesses it has (like the bigby spells), otherwise you'll just lose all your ac through being flatfooted and get torn apart.

Shifter Bard
Firecracker came up with this one I think, and it should still be on the forums somewhere - it's a Helmed Horror construct bard. It's not the BEST bard out there, but it is quite handy - I played it because I wanted a bard who was still useful in a fight. Looking back on it I'd probably try to find a non-shifter alternative, because if everybody dies you have a hell of a time raising them, but that doesn't mean this isn't a good build.

Healers are actually surprisingly easy to build (and fun to play). Take a Cleric (plant + travel domains for barkskin and haste) or Druid, pump them full of Wisdom, give them some useful Spell Foci (conjuration is good for healing spells, transmutation has a couple of good buffs) and make them virtually pure (usually with 1 or 2 monk levels, and not much else)...even if ALL you do is slot healing circle, mass heal, regeneration and such, you're going to be the tank's best friend. The best part? These builds need practically no gear at all, because their buffs can cover everything.
A high level cleric with plant domain can get more deflection ac (+7 or 8 from shield of faith, which also becomes an Area-of-Effect buff at 30+ caster) and natural ac (+8 barkskin) than any item in the mod, and both of these can be cast on other people - this frees up ring and amulet slots for better equipment.
Druids on the other hand get Barkskin too, plus the super-useful Aura of Vitality (you can get this on Clerics with Battle domain, I believe, but honestly Barkskin and Haste are much more useful). With Epic Transmutation Focus the duration goes through the roof and it gives you +8 to Con, Str, and Dex for almost 15 minutes.
That's 24 ability points that you no longer need to find on items. And did I mention it's an AoE spell?

Any of these are pretty solid choices, so you can pretty much make whatever you feel like and pick up how to play it later. When you're raiding with the people who created it.
« Last Edit: 30 December 2013, 00:42 by NLawson » Logged

I know I write long posts, but you would think if something was important there would be a lot to say about it, no?
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