Thursday 24 June 2010

Borked Blorcs

Before I get started, if Mythic have this all sorted in 1.3.6, then I wub you guys. If you don’t, well, you should :P

You often hear people complain about the Black Orc (and Swordmaster) plan system, you’ll think it sounds a bit dodgy, but until you roll a Blorc and you really persevere with it you won’t really know quite how frustrating, limiting and just abso-bloody-lutely “AAAGHHHH MAKE IT STOP!!” it is.

Just in case you don’t know it works, I shall explain as briefly as possible… Obviously I’m talking for a Black Orc, but the principles are the same for Swordmasters. Your attacks are split between 3 different “plans”.

1) No Plan
2) The Gud Plan
3) The Best Plan

Using an ability from one plan progresses your character to the next plan and you can then use abilities from that plan (and only that plan), this then progresses you to the third and final plan, you use one of those attacks and then it takes you back to the start. So at any one point the abilities you can use is limited dependent on what plan you are in. Think about that for a minute and relate it to your current main character, divide their attacks into 3 groups and imagine what it would be like if you can’t pick and choose what to use when.

To make the implications of this absolutely clear, oh yes baby, it’s imaginary scenario time! No nurse outfits alas.

I’m logged in with my Chosen and fighting a Slayer 1v1 on a bridge in Dragonwake. A Witch Hunter appears behind me and joins the fight, but his positioning is dodgy so I simply turn round, hit my knockback, punt him off the bridge and continue the fight.

Now lets try the exact same situation, but I’m using a Black Orc. The Witch Hunter has jumped me, his positioning is dodgy and he is ripe for a knockback… except I can’t, but not because I don’t have a knockback, I do and it’s quite a good one. You see at this point I was in the next plan up, so I’ve got to go through 2 different attacks and 2 global cooldowns before I’m in the correct plan and my knockback is useable. In MMO PvP where it’s all about hitting the right ability at the right time, this pretty much ensures that the Witch Hunter will no longer be set up for punting off the bridge by the time I can actually use my knockback.

That would be quite simply ridiculous if there wasn’t some incredible benefit for using the plan system, but… uhm… there isn’t, so yeah… it is ridiculous. There is no benefit to plans in any way or form, nothing. It is a limitation for limitations sake. To make matters worse the plan system is negatively affected by lag. When you’re in a big fight or suffering from lag for whatever reason, sometimes the plans don’t change correctly. So not only do you have to cycle through a range of abilities to get to the one you want, but now and again it just doesn’t work at all. AND the system is unplayable without using either a mod such as Plan B or Nerfed Buttons. As such I don’t understand why it is still in the game. Other than generating frustration, what is it achieving?

Yet, could it be made to achieve anything? Possibly... First, lets assume Mythic manage to fix the lag related plan changing problem…. Which leaves us with; if the plans are going to limit our options, the plans themselves need to provide a benefit.

First off Black Orc (and Swordmaster) plan related abilities should not have any cooldown timers. Not being able to use an ability when you want (due to the plan system) is annoying, so why limit it further? Make that into a bonus. So yes, you are restricted by the plan system as to when you can use ability X, but if you are in that plan then that ability WILL always be available. Secondly, give the plans a bit more meaning. There is a tactic (name escaping me right now) that links your critical hit rate to your plans; Gud plan gets +10% crit, Best plan +20% crit. Remove the tactic and put that into the career as standard. This would mean that while the careers are limited about when they can use each ability, they would be more potent when using them. In other words, they get bonuses to counter balance their serious limitations.

Would my suggestions be enough to make up for the headache plan system? Hmmm, to be honest I don’t know. I’m not an experienced enough Blorc player yet and I’m trying to fix an inherently flawed system. Not having proper choice and control over what you do, when everyone else does, is a massive downside and I’m not convinced it can be balanced out so easily. Would it just be easier to rip the entire plan system out and give Black Orcs and Swordmasters something new?

I’d be interested to hear from other more experienced Black Orc players (Lokax I’m looking at you mate) for their thoughts.

Oh and make Black Orcs as big as enraged Choppas. Black Orcs are meant to be the biggest, meanest Orcs in existence. Having them dwarfed by bloody Choppas is completely lore breaking and looks stupid. I refuse to believe it’s not easy to change. AND while I’m here, get rid of the shields from Swordmasters and make them true great weapon tanks (once again) like they’re meant to be. It’s not hard; to replace the loss of shield blocking just give them an enhanced version of parry that also works against magic. Actually, that should apply to Black Guards too and their lore breaking shield nonsense! And another thing… uhm… actually I better stop before I go off on a tangent of epic proportions.



  1. Yea when people actually PvE, Black Orcs were not so much.

  2. Dude, right on. I have played Swordmaster for over a year now - countless hours. But as I haven't played another Tank career I don't know how it "could" be for me. But I do know one thing - it's a limiting mechanic without any bonus whatsoever (we do get AP free abilities in the 3rd plan - woot that).

    I can't recall the number of times where I have been desperatley trying to advance and access a KD or punt only to see myself knocked down or punted before I got there.

    A popular suggestion amongst the SM community is to have a core ability that advances the plan out of melee. This doesn't solve the problem at all imo, you're still gonna need to advance through 2 stages of the plan to get the ability you need. There is already a masterey ability for the SM called Protection of Hoeth that does this and it doesn't help that much, other than you can "prime" an ability at the start of combat.

    Removing cooldowns totally on CC would be overpowered, imagine having a KD or silence on a 4.5s cooldown. But reducing the cooldown to 10s would be very interesting.

    My personal suggestion would be to make plan-related bonuses benefit your group. E.G. if you were in the best plan and have the +20% crit from the tactic then your group get +20% crit too. Would have to have a short timer on it, say 5s, to stop you sitting in best plan all day. Timing of your own abilities and plan would add some extra skill to the class.

    I hate playing my SM with a shield too, just looks so wrong.

  3. I have a Swordmaster and will say that I like the Plan concept, but it is just not practical for how Warhammer functions. I can live with being locked out of abilities, and do think the *free* Best Plan is worth it, but even in mild lag situations, the plans do not flip properly.

    The Plan system simply does not function with the reality of lag, and must be changed to do so.

    Cheers, TzuDevil!

  4. Give SMs an enhaced parry that works against magic attacks? Sounds a bit like:


  5. Yeah use something like that, not as pokey obviously, on permanently and no need for shields in PvE or anything.

  6. I've missed out that you can use a No PLan ability to take you back to the start, so getting to your knockback is 1 ability + 1 global cooldown away. Which is still too much, so the points still totally stand :D

  7. Sarigs Nightreaver25 June 2010 at 08:53

    I've never played a Borc or SM but wouldn't it work if they just left lower Tier ability unlocked as you cycled through? As in No plan ability would unlock Good Plan ability and leave No plans unlocked. Good Plan would unlock Best plan and you'd still have access to Good Plan and No Plan abilities. Using the free Best Plan would then put you back to the start of the cycle with No Plan.

    Maybe increase the time before the plan starts degrading? Don't know if that would work or improve it at all?

  8. Actually I don't see the problem in the Blorc mechanic, but in the miserable network-code Mythic is using in Warhammer.

    Lag (be it either server-client lag or client-lag from too many effects on you) is the real problem here. When I'm healing I get sometimes confused, because what I think I'm doing differs from the animation of the character, the actual spell that's shown in the castbar and the effect landing on the target. It's just a mashup and sometimes I don't know what my own character is doing, just because of the lag. Adding that plan-mechanic makes it unplayable, because those problems get emphasized.

    The game got performance-wise worse in the last couple of weeks. It's not the framerate that makes any problems, but the UI is not responding to anything and the server is just lagging. If this gets fixed Blorcs and SM's will get less problems with their mechanic.


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