Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Balancing the Bomb

Bomb groups… bloody nasty things. The vast majority of WAR players will have encountered the horror of facing a bomb group, but as I know I’ve a bunch of readers that aren’t playing right now, I shall first explain what these terrors are.

Bright Wizards and Sorcerers have very powerful PBAoE (Point Blank Area of Effect) nuke spells, the damage is quite simply insane and is going to get the crap nerfed out of it, but for now it’s live and bloody dangerous. A bomb group uses these spells to maximum effect by having a tank using guard on the PBAoE spell caster combined with a team heal spamming healer. The casters and tanks open with AoE stuns/disables/etc to stop their targets escaping and then they spam the PBAoE to kill all the targets in seconds. It’s brutally effective.

Order and Destruction can both make use of this tactic, with each faction having slightly different advantages. Order has Bright Wizards that do a bit more damage than Sorcerers and they also have the Knight of the Blazing Sun, a tank whose AoE stun makes it almost impossible to escape once you’re in the bomb radius. Where as Destruction can use a Rift specced Magus to pull people from range into the bomb radius, then use the (less reliable) pet detonation stun and lay the smack down with the Magus’ considerable PBAoE. The Order groups are harder to escape from and the Destruction one has more control.

If the group is built with these abilities in mind, I don’t think either side has an too much of an edge. Typical Bomb groups will look something like this:

Knight of the Blazing Sun
Knight of the Blazing Sun
Bright Wizard
Bright Wizard
Warrior Priest
Warrior Priest

Magus (Rift specced)
Disciple of Khaine

I think it’s fair to say that a well-played bomb group is top of the pile and has a huge advantage in WAR. If you’re in a more mixed up group that’s not using bomb tactics, then against an equally skilled and organised bomb group… well… basically you’re buggered.

Bomb groups capitalise on the current prevalence of Crowd Control and AoE in WAR and there’s nothing wrong with that, people are just playing to their strengths. The problem is that this creates cookie cutter groups and risks isolating and annoying people that either don’t want to, or don’t have the option of, running in a bomb group.

I was running a group in Praag a few days ago, it wasn’t an uber group, far from it. I had some mates that had returned to the game and me and a couple of others were showing them round Praag. Our group consisted of my level 40 Chosen, a 28 Zealot, 35 DoK, 35 Shaman and a 40 Sorcerer. Hardly ideal, but they’re all good MMO players and we’d been holding our own against groups full of 40s. Then we walked round a corner and into one of our server’s Forum Ego Monkeys™ and his pet bomb group. It was a Knight of the Blazing Sun, 2 Wizards, a Warrior Priest and someone else that I don’t remember.

We died in seconds, a full wipe in a handful of bloody seconds. Not because the enemy was particularly good, just because we instantly had no control over our characters due to CC and their PBAoE damage output was so high that it killed all of us before the first unbreakable stun had worn off. It was impossible for us to have done anything. Now, I’m not complaining about them doing this at all. That would be hugely hypocritical since I regularly run in a Rift-Bomb group myself, yet I do think it demonstrates how these groups make a mockery of other set ups. Yes my group was a weak one, but regardless it should not be possible to wipe any viable Tier 4 group faster than the duration of unbreakable CC. Otherwise you’re just left with early DAoC style “who CC first wins”, wild accusations of being OP, claims of balancing being fooked and also risk players leveling in tier 4 feeling they can’t join in oRvR (it's not like they dont get shit already for daring to do scenarios).

Amusingly with the above incident, the Order players felt the need to laugh at our corpses and taunt us. Ironic considering not only was most of my group lowbies, but also a day or two before when I was in a more hardcore guild group doing scenarios, we ran into the same Forum Ego Monkey™ and farmed the crap out of them. :P Perhaps that’s another problem with bomb groups, it gives people delusions of grandeur… :D Not that I suffer from that at all, ehem.

Another example… I mentioned recently about us doing particularly well in Praag a few days back. We had a guild warband of two and a half groups and went up against (no exaggeration) 3 times our number of Order that were heading towards our warcamp. By using calm and coordinated Rift Bomb pulls, we cut our way through them, wiping the bloody lot and ending up at Martyrs. It wasn’t a one off either, when they resumed their attack we did it again, though we had another group or so of Destruction with us for the second fight so I won’t claim too much glory there. But then how much glory is there to claim? Yes we wiped 3 times our number, yes we were very organised on ventrilo and OMFG did we earn a lot of invader, etc as loot, but would it have even been possible to without us working as an oversized Rift-bomb group? I’m confident we would have done well, that batch of enemies can’t have been properly organised for this to have happened, but surely their numbers should have eventually taken us down? I mean 3-1 mannnnnnn....

Clearly bombing is over powered and I think it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but bad for the game. Will I stop running in our rift-bomb groups? Hell no. We have to be competitive or enemies will have our city on farm status, there’s no third faction for underdogs to work with in WAR. Once you’re on the back foot you’re in bloody trouble. Whilst it would be nice to be all sweetness and light, we can’t afford to drop certain abilities and/or tactics because they’re overpowered. No quarter given, blah, blah…

It’s down to Mythic to give us more diversity in powerful play styles and escape from “who CCs first wins”. Thankfully their next collection of patches is going to be all about balancing our characters. We know that AoE is getting nerfed and that CC is going to be seriously looked at. Assuming this spells the end of bombing, will we get an even playing field? No doubt us devious players will discover the next over powered combo, but can Mythic make it so that in future we have at worst only slightly overpowered options, rather than the (almost) auto-win groups of doom that we have now?

With 2 factions and a total of 24 classes, it’s an unenviable task.


  1. Unfortunately I can't get anyone to want to run a bomber group on Dark crag. On Magnus we destroyed people with it, but we preferred one of the tanks to be a Swordmaster for Whispering winds for faster casting times for the BW's for the Annihilate spells.

    It just seems so hard for people to comprehend to guard the BW's instead of the healers. People love to target BW's because they think they are easy kills, and the healers won't have anything to worry about.

    I still have dreams that someday I will be able to run a premade bomber group in scenarios, and out in the rvr lakes, but right now getting 5 people to believe in it is impossible in a zerg vs zerg atmosphere on DC.

  2. That is very surprising to hear. On Norn they are a VERY common sight, particular amongst Order's ranks. I don't think quite as many Destro have realised they're just as capable of bombing, but it's still not exactly rare either.

    Absolutely right about guarding. If it's not on the DPS there's little point, in a bomb group at least.

  3. Bombing groups are hard enemies..but not impossible to beat, as you already said in your post.

    We ran in a scenario in a bombing group with a Magus pulling groups in and we kicked them ;)
    Our setup was far from ideal..
    2 Ironbreakers
    1 Slayer
    1 Engineer
    2 Runepriests

    It takes a good amount of coordination to take out such groups..and of course some luck. Therefore this is something you rarely see with sub40's and/or pug's.

    I think that there is a "who CC's first wins" situation right now and I'm not sure if this will change with the C&C patch.. With single target damage increased, my Runepriest will surely die faster when beeing knocked down/disabled/silenced. Right now I rarely survive focused fire (not ae) and knockdowns..

  4. Welcome to DAOC, circa 2002! :)

    I remember just before WAR came out we had all these grand strategies and counters planned for our 6-man wrecking crew. Too bad 80% of our guild quit before we even reached rank 40!

    I think there's quite a bit more strategic potential in WAR if only we could somehow get players out of the zerg mentality.

  5. Hah yeah Snafzg :D It's like sodding enchanter hell all over again :P

    And yeah totally agree about zerging, thankfully my guild and alliance has that fairly sussed :)

  6. I am interested in hearing why you only mention a AOE knockdown from Kotbs, and saying Magus's detonation being less reliable. Effectively both realms are the same in this regard. Kotbs is 65ft cone, while the Chosen one is 65ft full circle; the detonation of engineers and magus are identical. The only differences are Kotbs having a morale root, while Engineer's magnet has a higher chance to be disrupted than Magus'.

    Essentially I agree with this being a problem, I'd prefer a breakable "much longer" CC than unbreakable CC of anything more than 3 seconds. They can try something similar to DAoC by having renown tactics that reduce "unbreakable" CC, just plain reduce the time of all those kind of CC, or just make all CC breakable/dispel-able.

    Sadly, I am concerned in what they mean by "looking seriously at CC". So far I see no serious solution. I guess I'd wait and see.

  7. Magus AoE knockdown requires their pet to be detonated, but thanks to the rampant AoE it's far from assured your pet will be alive to detonate when you want. Compared with the KotBS's long lasting AoE unbreakable stun/root/thing (not their knockdown), the Magus's knockdown pales in comparison. Reason for the comparison is they're the main unbreakable CC's you'll face in the better bomb groups. I presume it's the "No Escape" Morale 2 being used, 10 seconds sounds about right, plus there's no mention of it breaking in the description. How they always seem to have morale up I'm not sure, I guess Warrior Priests have a morale boosting ability like DoKs do?

    Chosen's knockdown (Quake) is not full circle, it's a cone same as the KotBS. Only lasts 2 secs, so generally you want to save it to stop reinforcements rather than with the initial bomb CC, since the Magus knockdown lasts longer and you don't want to bugger that up by applying immunities, if they feel like working...

    Chosen don't have a comparable ability to the KotBS aoe stun thing, we've only got a very buggy and VERY breakable AoE root, which is the same as the KotBS "Shackle" I believe.

    As for Engineers, tbh I wasn't sure how it worked and I very rarely see them in bomb groups, so didn't comment. It's all wizard and knights bombing round my way :P

  8. It's sad that something that was resolved in DAOC, has reared it's ugly head in Warhammer.

    As Snazfg said, this was stamped out ages ago in DAOC. It was really hard to get a workable bomb group going in DAOC in the later years of the game. To even have a chance, you needed to have Mastery Of Concentration up, and that's on a 15 minute timer. If the other group had a Banelord (mastery level) tank in their midst, then all the casters were interruped as soon as the tank/bonedancer was free of the stun.

    But with Warhammer being new player friendly, no casts are interrupted, merely delayed. Those 2/3 second stuns, with no real comeback, are devasting.

    I was in the inevitable city stage II and we were just getting worked over by a guild warband, with a number of groups, set up as you describe. It was rinse and repeat for about 40 mins. Even if you were wise to it, if you engaged you got pulled in and by the time that was done, a even fight, was now heavily one sided.

    I honestly don't believe that anyone who worked on DAOC could have any input on Warhammer. Seriously I don't see how it's possible, they have made that many mistakes.

    PS - Good topic btw.

  9. Thanks Skar ;)

    I couldn't agree more. It's very puzzling to see DAoC's problems (that were then resolved) get replicated here. Admittedly they've not brought in the 45 second mezzes and all that crap, but it's still back to CC dominance. I think once the immunity timers are sorted (seen that mentioned by Mythic of late on forums) we should see a big improvement.

    Bit of a tangent, but it's like the absence of destructable walls and WAR's siege weapons being stuck in set places. Why? DAoC did it better, surely if it's the same crew they would know this?


  10. I liked the 45 sec mezzes. Because they weren't a problem in big battles, because some idiot would use AOE or banelord, so they were easily broken. You had many counters, healers could demezz you, you could purge (purge 3, gave you a purge every 5 minutes, so was pretty much always up). If you were a tank, you had determination, plus your innate abilities. You then had 2 minute of proper immunity.

    But as a tool they could be skillfully used, to balance zerg like forces, by lesser numbers.

    Also now a days with healgrid and other things, it's easy for the interface to change to show rooted/mezzed/stunned targets, allowing the healer for instance to demezz. Remember in DAOC we didn't have any of these addons, managing the influx of data.

    Stun was of limited use, due to the ease that PBAOE casters could be stopped.

    Root, was a nice tool, that rewarded you kitting the tanks/softer targets away from the rooted healers.

    There were counters to everything, if you justed used your head and skill.

    On the subject of seige weapons, I just think its an ease of use issue, for both mythic and the players. No multiple battering rams on a door, people struggling to drive them.

    Also alot of this stuff was added relatively late in the game. If you think about the landscapes. There are a lot of walls between mountain peaks, which limits the available space to batter away, whereas keeps in DAOC were completely open and so you could be attacking on 2 completely separate walls, forcing some kind of split of defending forces.

    To open up some of the keeps would require a lot of landscape redesign.

  11. @Boatae: Kotbs has a Morale 2 which is a morale root - it does have problems in breaking for some, and besides root breaking abilities and being immune before the knight use it you are unable to break out of it.

    Now I haven't played DAoC (a shame I reckon), but from what information I gathered, it seems currently WAR is similar to the "old frontier" in quite a number of ways. I keep feeling that they would like to pull a "new frontier" at some point in the future. Of course, with the multiple problems facing the game at the moment, it would take long before they would do anything like that, but it's my guess that "upgrading" RvR is in their plans.

  12. MMMM I think I know which ego monkeys you arer referng to. You may have noticed that when they face balalnced opposition or have a sub optimal group they vanish.

    if the proposed blance changes go live they will be in a very bad way, I suspect ragequit posts as each of their fotm classes takes small but crucial fixes.

    Reduction in aoe and a duration decrease in unbreakable roots change the dynamic a lot.

    As for laugh emoters I always take it as a badge of pride, i couldnt be bother to emote anyone other than friends, that they need to emote you is tantamount to admitting losing to you previouly was galling.


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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.