Fable 2 tactic and spoiler

•November 5, 2008 • 4 Comments

I’ve been playing my daughter’s copy of Fable 2.  I was watching, and spotted what I thought to be a.. I’m not going to call it a flaw, just a tactic that’s almost overwhelming.

Basically, how to get rich.  (sigh).  I want to note that if you’ve lots of money you can purchase statistic-enhancing potions, becoming significantly overpowered against most of the foes you’re facing.  Instead of having to choose which to emphasize and hope it’s enough, it’s possible to be… well, it’s possible to be an all-around god if you go long enough.  But it takes money – lots and lots and lots of money.  (Note, you can also use all this money to become King/Queen of the realm.  If you own a largish proportion of the land – and yes, you can buy property here – you get the reward. )

So how do you get money – or rather, what’s the tactic/flaw?  It’s in trade.

At the simplest level, purchase weapons from either the Bowerstone blacksmith or the Oakfield weapons dealer, take them to Fairfax, and sell them to one of the wandering Weapons/Rifle/Melee/Pistol traders.  If you do absolutely nothing to earn a discount, Bowerstone will cost you 1.07% (approx) base cost, and Oakfield will cost you approximately 96%.  You can modify that by making them like you at which point you get to purchase the Bowerstone stuff at an additional 19% discount – that’s about 89% and the Oakfield stuff for about 77%.  The sale price at Fairfax is around 125% (132 if you are buying).  You can do this purchase and sale every other “day”, though if you’re using Oakfield as the far end (and walking instead of using the carriage) you’re using up one day just to travel.  Using Oakfield and the “we love you” numbers, every 77 gold you spend will return approximately 125 in return — just over a 58 gold (or 75% profit).  And it’s possible to be worse. Or to be more accurate, get even larger returns.

First, there are sales.  (and, sometimes, shortages).  Sales and shortages modify the amount by 25 or 50%.  Yes, that means you’re purchasing your stuff at a 55 or 69% discount.  Those are great, but there is another action.  As I said, you can purchase buildings. And if you own the shop you get a 39% owner’s discount.  Now the owner discount overrides the “we love you” discount.  Big deal – you’re getting 39 instead of 19 percent off; and the sales prices still modify.  Catch the 50% and you are paying 11% of the base price, modified by the economy.  The game won’t allow the shop to give the items to you for free, but it’s darn close.

And if you own the shops the sales are just gravy.  In a few hours of play I raised my wealth to over 100,000 while not yet getting deep in the game.  (I just saw Garth captured, if that helps – i was at 125,000 gold on hand.)  Let me run the detail, again.

Take your first job – blacksmith – and earn a thousand gold or so.  Sweet talk the blacksmith, then buy as many weapons as you can afford.  Run to Fairfax, find a trader who’ll take them, sweet talk them, and sell the weapons.  Go run the story line and quests to get through two days, and come back and buy, then sell.  As soon as the quests take you to Oakfield, do this with the Weapon’s trader as well.  At this time you can stop quests for a bit – till you get bored making money anyway – and start the following.

Go to Oakfield.  Buy weapons.  Go to Bowerstone Blacksmith.  Buy weapons.  Go to Fairfax.  Sell weapons.  Go back to Oakfield.  At the earliest opportunity buy the Oakfield stall.  As soon after that as you can manage buy the Blacksmith store.

One last curlicue.  As you get enough, start purchasing other stores in Bowerstone.  You get the discounts.  You can pull things off the shelves and as owner it’s not stealing.  And most important, every store generates more income.  That 125000 I’m at right now is after purchasing all but one of the Bowerstone Big Stores (haven’t purchased the furniture shop or the tailor yet – hmmm, need the stylist too.)  I also picked up the Oakfield tavern.  I get about 3,600 gold every 5 minutes while I’m playing – it’s almost to the point where being a gunrunner doesn’t pay enough to make it worth my while (grin).  That’s a lie, of course.  I purchase all the weapons at the two stores for about 30,000 these days, and sell them for about 60,000.  That’s ~30,000 per 15-20 minutes of play.

I’d be a lot richer but I keep buying stat enhancing potions.  shrug.

Jumping to a story

•October 25, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Don’t take the link if you’re afraid of insects.  Seriously, don’t.  If that doesn’t bother you, however, you might just enjoy this.

David Brady’s been doing something rather fun for this Halloween.  He’s written a detective story and is serializing it through the month of October.  It’s not a GREAT story, but it’s fun.  Why?

David Brady’s page is InsectPOD.com.  That’s Insect Picture Of the Day.  He posts very, very close-up pictures of insects.  Our detective in this tale is a grasshopper.  He’s investigating a few things, some of which are deaths.  A recurring gag: “You gotta help me, my wife want to kill me.”  Well…. yeah.

The story starts here.  The homepage is here.

Have fun.

Attention WoW priests

•October 7, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I know I still get a lot of you coming by, so please heed this public service announcement.  Go here. Read it, ponder it.  What is it?  The Dwarf Priest has done an outstanding report of the changes priests face in spells, talents, and a few other things come WotLK.  Some of those changes are DRASTIC.  (LOLWell, for example, of which I used to be one of the few who used, stands a good chance of being a common spell for priests.  Look it up.)

A small wish about drops

•October 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I wish…  That mobs would use their drops when it’s Good Stuff.

Yes, a corollary is that you don’t see wolves bearing heavy plate armor, or squirrels carrying rocket launchers, or…  (Yeah, that’s hyperbole.  I think.)

Look, when kobold Murphy with his pick gets killed and I pull a Purple Hammer of Booyah off him, I go into total disbelief.  Yes, I can see him not using the Whippy Wand of Braided Necromancy – class restrictions and all of that.  But seriously, if the mob is carrying something it CAN use which is better than what it IS using, why isn’t it using it?

A parallel issue is the question of why I can’t have what the Big Mob is using.  I mean sure, some of it may be broken during combat.  Or soulbound.  Or some other such ‘excuse’.  But generally, if I’m facing a mob that’s using a glowy sword and I kill it and the glowy sword is still laying there, why can I not pick it up to use or sell as applicable?

Yeah, it’s more work for the programmers.  SERIOUSLY more work.  And it could lead to some hilarious events.  (“Holy sh…  Hey, Guildies, I need some help killing these kobolds.  One of them has a fricking BLUE WEAPON!”  … and for the next week hundreds of level 70s are farming kobolds in the lowbie zone…)

I still want it.

Have fun.

Staying Alive

•October 4, 2008 • 1 Comment

[edit: I keep saying "yards" in here.  Please translate to "feet".  units of distance matter, but not a lot.]

Oddly, I keep coming back to the Rune Priest even though it’s the most “dedicated healer” of the bunch and I really would like to mix it up.  The reason is survivability.

Oh, some of you nod sagaciously – but it’s for the wrong reason.  Yes, the rune priest/zealot has so many heals it’s…  Let’s put it this way.  With the exception of the glass cannons, nobody can do significantly more DPS than an RPZ can HPS.  (Aside – glass cannons are not just the Bright Wizard and Sorceress.  There are a pair of melee GCs as well – the Witch Elf/Witch Hunter duality.  Though they’ve some difference, they can put out an extraordinary amount of damage for a short period of time.  Even more deadly they can reduce their target’s ability to be healed AND their target’s ability to Do Something while they’re attacking.)  Everyone but the GCs have to outlast the healer – they have a slight (very narrow) advantage and just have to hope they win before the healer gets friends or an instant of rest or…

There are two clues in the preceding paragraph that explain how an RPZ can stay alive – I mean REALLY stay alive.  Let’s pull it together, though, with what’s now a common saying in martial arts.  The best way to stop a blow is not be there when it lands.

Let’s take a minute to study the WEWH pair.  They’re extremely fragile.  A couple of good hard hits and they die.  Their success depends on their ability to remain unnoticed till they’re in striking distance.  Their greatest success – ability to live for the next foe – is to attack while everyone else is busy, then fade out of notice till they strike again.  (One dangerous option is to link up with the heavier dps player or even a tank and let THAT player start – and the WEWH finishes.  nasty.)  Anyway, that brings us to our first focus.

You have a healing range of 150 yards for most of your stuff.  Why are you only 60 yards away from the line?  Answer, of course, is that you’re hanging out with the ranged DPS.  This might not be a bad idea, and in fact we’ll come back to it as a survival tactic.  That said, for now I’m assuing it’s a PUG and you really aren’t getting much help as everyone’s in “top the chart” mode.  So step one is use your range.  Players get tunnel vision – really they do – and they’re going to fixate a lot more on the clump of clothies close to the line.

Item for consideration two is to use terrain intelligently.  Look – bushes don’t tend to block LOS.  Since we don’t get a lot of graphics telling people we’re healing, take advantage of it.  Slip into a bush and let it hide you.  By the same token, you really only need LOS to your targets, not the entire field.  Rocks, buildings, even hills can be plenty to keep you out of sight of a lot of people who mean to do you ill.  When your side advances, take some time to look for ways to advance without being noticed – a screened route for example.

Sometimes you can’t.  You just can’t stay out of sight or out of range due to the situation – the players you’re protecting or the layout of the ground or whatever.  Now what – assuming you don’t get a friendly tank or even an MDPS to be your bestest buddy?  Now is when we look to join that group of casters or ranged DPS players.  Heck, ONE is good, though several is better.  What you do is start being a mutual defense society.  Say you’re attacked – whee.  Now with two exceptions you’re going to do a couple of things in close sequence.  First you’re going to slap a fast heal – probably a HOT – on yourself, followed by more fast heals.  Second you should run through the nearest group member.  Preferably from the front but any direction will do.  Why?  Because collision detection isn’t just for tanks.  Remember all you need is a short break to get the edge on the attacker – whether you’re then going to snare or hit yourself with a better heal or slap the attacker with some damage or even start healing the player you ran through.  All are options and “best option” depends on the circumstances.  As a ranged group all of you are mutual interrupters for the rest of your group.  It’s difficult and annoying to change targets when you’re attacking – you hit the first with an opener, and then your next attack that was supposed to ready them for the finish hits someone else (or can’t hit anyone because your target is out of range and you’re blocked by yet another caster.)  With practice you can even annoy multiple attackers this way – just think of it as a wild dance.

I said there were a couple of exceptions.  One is obvious – if you’re snared or slowed or otherwise tangled in CC.  The other is more insidious.  Both of the GCDPS careers have a debuff that will hurt you if you move.  For 15 seconds, if you move that second you take damage.  (They also have one that affects you if you cast an ATTACK spell.  As a healer that’s not quite as bad, but it’s still worth noting.)  In these exceptions you should not or can not move.  For this you’re simply going to have to rely on your fellow raanged group to notice and rescue.  Of course if you were paying attention you might not be in this fix.  And that takes us to what is probably the MOST important element of staying alive:

Pay attention.  As healers we get focused on those little green bars and forget to look around – to the flanks and rear, and sometimes even to our front.  We don’t notice that a couple of WEWHs have come around the flank and disappeared – out of sight, out of mind.  (Even though we’re using that for our healing range advantage.)  Heck, some of us don’t even put two and two together when that ranged caster ‘over there’ gets taken down by a GCDPS who then starts our way and drops out of sight.  If you DO notice it, don’t just stand there – preempt them.  Attack, or move.

Move.  Another option and one you’ll have to use often.  Do not turn into a healing statue – move to where you’re going to be needed.  Yes, this seems to contradict the “hide in a bush” idea above.  There is nothing – NOTHING – that says you can’t have two or three or ten hidey spots and move between them.  Yes, you’re probably going to miss sending a few heals while that happens.  On the other hand if you’re still alive and casting you’re doing a lot more than you would being dead and respawning and running back.

All the above said, I’ll add some extras that may override many of them.  Make a buddy or three – people who will promise to keep you safe if you dedicate yourself to their good health.  If you do this, don’t make it impossible to be rescued.  150 yards takes forever to run when a GCDPS is ripping you apart.  It may make you a much more obvious target, but getting closer means rescue is at hand.  If you do this, I’d consider being closer than a ranged DPS player would be – as close as 15 or 20 yards.  Far enough that most of the ranged DPS can’t quite reach, but close enough that when MDPS comes around or through you’re not obviously in the rear. Remember tunnel vision, and that a lot of players will look for that mob of clothies “back there” before they notice one of the closer foe is also a clothie.  Again, even if they do notice, your friends are just a few steps away.

Pay attention to the whole battlefield – avoid tunnel vision.  Use your range and terrain to be unnoticed.  If you must get closer, use allies as terrain at least, buddies if you can.  If you do get buddies, stay close enough they can help.  ON TOP OF THIS is the ‘use your snares and knockbacks and…’ advice that most will give you – the ‘how you fight off a WE/WH/M/WH/etc. stuff.

The best way to avoid dying is to not be the target.  The second best is to make someone else be the target as quickly as possible.  The third way is to kill them faster than they can kill you. Think about it…

Have fun.

A bit on tanks

•October 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

There are some blogs out there discussing various roles, and one thing caught my attention.  That was a description of the “types of tanks” to include the missing pair.

As I’ve noted, the tank role also intrigues me and may turn out to be my main, even though I’ve done healers for (mumble mumble) years in this, that and the other thing.  So insights are always worthwhile.

To repeat what Brad Hicks laid out, WAR tanks come in three flavors: Aura; Buddy; and DPS.

Common to all tanks are a few basic elements.  They can take lots and lots of damage, and pay the price of not so much DPS.  They have a variety of techniques meant to protect their team by bringing attention back to them.  Still, there are these differences.

The Chosen is the aura tank in the game.  The Empire tank, whatever it turns out to be, really, will be the other one.  This tank’s big deal is an aura.  Think Paladin auras on steroids.  These can buff allies and/or debuff opponents.  They have a reasonably fast cooldown, and an interesting effect in that when you switch to a new aura the old one stays around for a few seconds.  ALLEGEDLY things are timed so an aura tank can have two auras active most of the time due to this, but most Chosen are reporting serious bug problems still.  OTOH, it may be a matter of learning to make it work.

The buddy tank in the game right now is the Ironbreaker.  Obviously the missing tank – the one for the Dark Elves – will be its analog.  The buddy tank, in addition to protecting everyone, has the ability to specially bond with another player.  That player gets extra benefits, and when that player gets hit the tank is going to achieve additional abilities – notionally to “rescue the buddy”, but practically it allows them to “tank harder”.

The DPS tank is potentially dangerous – no, not to foes, but to people’s perceptions of what is/should be.  The Black Orc/Swordmaster get a lot of things intended to make their actual combat better.  Yes, they get some special “tank” abilities, but the vast majority of their special skills are aimed at wreaking greater damage and ill effects on a range of foes.  WoW players in particular will have the mental block that a “dps warrior can’t tank” and that’s where the problem happens.  It’s probable this tank can do almost as much as the medium MDPS (white lion and marauder).  Almost, mind you – both those classes have special abilities of their own.  If I had to draw a connection to WoW, I’d suggest forgetting the DPS warrior – these are Feral Druid tanks, who generate threat more by doing a lot of damage than by threat enhancers.  yes, that’s a PVE notion but it begins to get the point across.

One thing that all the people working with these tanks need to set aside – it’s possible to tank with a 2 handed weapon.  WAR built that into the system.  The trade is greater damage (and in some cases multi-target damage) vs greater survival.  Even without a shield these classes are tough, so the decision will be situational.  Especially when it’s not PVE but PVP and what’s being tanked is other players.  Just to finish putting the nail in that coffin, there are numerous abilities in all the classes that can only be done with one weapon or the other.  A “good” tank is going to be expected to do both, and do them well, and know when each is the better option.  Tanks – not just meatshields.

Bottom line, a significant issue in picking your tank – either as a player wanting one, or as a group wanting that in their party – is knowing what each provides.  Just something to keep in mind.

Have fun.

Priestly Pain

•September 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Heads up, Rune Priests and Zealots – a recent patch made you more vulnerable.  Actually, it removed an exploit, but still…

Used to be, if you used Grimnier’s Shield/Embrace the Warp AND a tank put you on guard, you took zero damage.  Unlike a lot of other things that are multiplicative, the two 50% reductions in damage were additive.  (ummm, in othe words:  most things would do 50%, then 50% of that, so you’d still take 25%.)  The situation still isn’t “normal”.  Instead, you cannot use the self-buff if you’re guarded, and cannot get guarded if you’re using the self-buff.

Not known right now is if it’s an over-write or a failed action.


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