How EVE Works – A Guide To EVE roles for the noob (like me)

EVE Online is getting on more and more peoples’ radars these days – but it has an entire language and playstyle all of its own. Fear not, though – Flosch is on a mission to clarify Just What’s Going On, starting with EVE class roles…

I must admit, I’d never really thought about the roles that various ships take in EVE battles. It’s fairly obvious that the old trio of tank/healer/dps won’t be much use out there in space, but I’d assumed it more or less broke down into “Big Ship, Small Ship, Cannon Fodder”.

Not so much, as it turns out. Indeed, as Flosch of Random Waypoint explains in today’s fascinating post, EVE’s gameplay is actually a fascinating mesh of different supporting ship types

Healing

The “healer” ships in EVE are called logistics. They are typically highly sought after, because there are no really viable basic ship that do logistics well. You need to train into Tier 2 cruisers, which takes quite some time. Logistics come in two flavors: shield healing and armor healing. Depending on whether the ships in your fleet specialized in increasing their shield or armor resistances, one or the other is more desirable, obviously. I can’t fly Logistics ships at the moment, hence I didn’t bother buying any. I did fit out a basic “POSprey” though. It’s a basic ship that is fit to sacrifice all defenses for an at least acceptable amount of shield healing. The idea is to use it if a Player Owned Starbase is attacked: as long as the control tower of that station is up, it projects an invulnerability field around it. You can sit in the invulnerability field (hence no need for defenses) and help heal the shields of the control tower, hoping the POS will survive the attack.

Debuffing

These are typically called “EWAR” (electronic warfare) in EVE. Debuffs come in four categories. Tracking disruptors make it harder for the debuffed ship to properly shoot enemies. Target painters make it easier to hit a target. This can be especially useful because larger ships have a hard time hitting smaller ships with their larger weapons (due to, for example, slower tracking speed – you see how the two belong together?). Sensor dampeners reduce the lock-on range for ships (you need to lock on targets before you can shoot/debuff/buff them). ECM (electronic countermeasures) make the target completely lose all locks and unable to lock onto new targets.

That sounds very overpowered, and it would be, if not for a small detail: while the other debuffs are applied to a target and do their job 100% of the time, ECM only has a chance of working. Every 20 seconds, the attacker rolls a random number based on their ECM strength, and the attacked rolls a number based on their ship sensor strength (which is based on the ship type – larger ships typically have stronger sensors – and can be further boosted by certain modules). I have halfway decent skills for ECM, so I bought a couple of Blackbirds, which are dedicated ECM cruiser-class ships.”

I love posts that expand my knowledge of the MMO universe, and Flosch does so here in a very readable and enjoyable style. By comparing the various ship types to WoW or other MMO staples, he avoids the frequent acronym-soup problem that can plague accounts of EVE’s universe, and even makes me (slightly) more interested in trying EVE out again myself.

If you’re interested in EVE – even purely from the perspective of reading other peoples’ accounts – I’d highly recommend this post as part of your weekend!

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Are DPS classes outdated?

We Fly Spitfires is well known as one of the contrarian blogs to watch, and today Gordon’s got a great post up there, presenting solid, persuasive arguments that the DPS-only class is a relic in most MMORPGs, and isn’t much longer for this world

“Let’s face it, single role classes were always flawed right from day one. Rewind back seven plus years, before the dawn of multiple talent trees, and you have a pretty broken system comprised of healers who can only heal and tanks who only know how to tank making it pretty difficult to fill out a six man group or a 24+ player raid. Given the makeup of the grouping system in MMOs, it was simply inevitable that healers and tanks were going to be given the option to perform damage roles.

Of course, this creates the problem of function and desirability and, if tanks and healers can put out the same damage as a pure DPS class, suddenly those damage only dealers become less attractive in comparison. Why would I go a Rogue when my Warrior can output as much damage? And why go a Jedi Sentinel when the Jedi Guardian can do just as much damage as well as tank? Personal playstyle preferences aside, DPS only classes are becoming dated and restrictive, a throwback to an older style of MMO gaming.”

Gordon’s excellent post echoed a similar argument from Matthew Rossi last year for me – except rather than eliminating DPS, Rossi was suggesting that Blizzard, in particular, eliminate tanks. Overall, the sense in the blogosphere seems to be that the old single-role model is dating badly, and that we’re in for a hybridish future.

What do you think? Will there be a role for DPS-only classes in the future of MMORPGs, or is RIFT’s do-it-all Cleric class the model for the future?

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Why No Trinity Works in Guild Wars 2

I’ll admit it, I’m looking forward to Guild Wars 2, even if it does keep getting pushed back. But today’s post on Kill Ten Rats from one of the Community Open House events has me salivating even more.

He’s describing how Guild Wars 2 instances work – given that no-one in the party has a fixed role. No dedicated healer or tank, just a lot of interesting abilities. And apparently, it works pretty well:

The elementalist I talked to afterwards said he was playing around with the fire attunement mostly in the beginning, but he ended up playing with water after seeing how aggressive the warrior and thief were playing. If things felt good he would switch to kill the gravelings with fire. Interestingly enough, I switched from engineer rifle (decent damage + crowd control) to flamethrower (short range area of effect (“AoE”) damage + crowd control) because I noticed the gravelings loved to swarm. It was almost as if I unknowingly assumed his role as AoE damager as he shifted to something more supportive. The two melee guys also loved going in to my napalm wall for extra damage against the mobs.

I’m really loving this idea. It’s doable in WoW too these days, but not by design – still, some of the most fun times I’ve had in WoW recently have been playing through low-level dungeons with no tank or healer, just a bunch of DPS using our abilities to survive. Sounds like GW2 is actually designed on the principle of flexibility – and that sounds damn cool.

Like that idea? Or will you miss the fixed roles and structure of the Holy Trinity?

_Quote taken directly from Kill Ten Rats’ post.

Find Kill Ten Rats’ homepage at http://www.killtenrats.com/_

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Another great post for Death Knights

If you’re a regular Pot reader, you probably think that I’m only capable of posting about something if it’s Death Knight-related. That’s simply not true. I don’t have to talk about Death Knights all the time. I just chose to.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that, yes, yet again, I have a post full of DK goodness for you. Somehow I missed Sharden’s three-part series on tanking Cataclysm heroics at 15 Minutes Of WoW (Part 1 is here if you missed it too), but the follow-up post came at just the right time for me. I’m not a very good tank. My main spec is DPS, and I only tank very occasionally. I’ll be totally honest with you: I haven’t tanked anything more challenging than High Shaman MacKilligan since Cataclysm launched. I know I’m not nearly as competent a tank as I am a DPS, so I’ve been doing some reading to try to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

[pullquote]This … isn’t a guide on how to get ready for heroics, it is instead a primer on what to do when you get there.[/pullquote]

Sharden’s primer is chock full of sensible, solid advice for a new DK tank. It’s a great place to start building your tanky know-how. I’ve made copious notes from this post, as well as from Sharden’s previous three-part series. Soon I won’t have any excuse not to occasional switch to my tanking spec and stand right in front of the bad guys.

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The Spread Of Bad Habits In Low Level Dungeons

Anyone ventured into an instance recently? C’mon, hands up. Specifically low level ones. Big Bear Butt’s got a post today about his recent experiences in a low level instance – well, I say experience, but it doesn’t sound like he gained much in the way of XP while he was there.

Most of his post is an entertaining tale of what happened in the dungeon. He says he was levelling a new druid and felt there came a time when he should try tanking a low level dungeon. Risky business, I know. But BBB explains that he had all the old bear-tank tricks up his sleeve to compensate for the lack of any bear AoE abilities at low level. Wasn’t enough: apparently his problem turned out to be the DPS.

The DPS, two Hunters and a Warrior, actually attacked while I was still running up. I hadn’t even gotten close enough to face pull and boom!

So mobs are on the three DPS and their pets, but not ALL the mobs of the group. I grabbed one of them, and started trying to get the rest, and the healer panicked, exacerbating the problem by frantically casting heals to try and keep all the DPS alive… bringing the remainder of the mobs down on her head.

He goes on to speculate how the tanking classes are balanced at the moment, saying that at the same low level warriors would have solid AoE threat abilities but bears have nothing. He’s hurting a bit over that and I don’t blame him, though I’m not sure I agree with BBB’s conclusion that other tanking classes with their fancy AoE abilities ‘train’ DPS to let all nitwibble break loose within miliseconds.

What do you think – are tanking classes unbalanced right from the offset, and are DPSers spoilt and allowed to switch their brains off by AoE-tastic tanks?

_Quote taken directly from BBB’s post

You can find Big Bear Butt’s homepage here_

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Games Breaking Away From The Trinity

Syl says she’s recently realised that what she most wants from future MMOs is for them to keep the swords and magic, but get rid of the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPS. She says she’s tired of it. She takes a look at WoW and points out that despite a few design attempts to work round the trinity, the damn system is more entrenched in WoW than any other game.

Enter Guild Wars 2. Syl points out bits from the developers talking about their approach to the trinity, and how they’re treating specific roles. They seem to have a whole new attitude to healing – are re-classifying it completely. And that’s just the start. Syl’s getting very excited about it and points out a lot of ideas the GW2 developers have which sound spot on, all about balancing fun and roles to create a new way of playing.

A thing that never seizes to baffle me personally, is the strict separation of abilities between roles, in WoW and most other MMOs: You have this powerful caster standing next to you in a 5man party, that magic spellweaver – and all he really does for the group is deal damage, besides few more mob-centric abilities. While his allies fall left and right, while his healer is about to die horribly, he stands there hurling firebolts at the enemy, unable to do anything about much more pressing matters.

As a child of fairytales, sword & sorcery books, tabletops and classic RPGs, I need to ask: in which fantasy setting is this “realistic”?

Syl’s post is long but well worth the read. Nils read it and then wrote his own response, studying the tank/healer/DPS trinity. I mean studying – his post reads like he’s got the monocle out and has pinned the roles down by their delicate, pretty wings. Ahem. Anyway, his post is a good dissection of what the problems with the current trinity system are, and why both tanking and healing are absurd roles. And why they exist and games lean on them so heavily. Nils also ponders a little on potential solutions which look like they have roots in some of the games we’re seeing developed at the moment. Here’s looking forward to what we see those games achieving, and the ideas they take on board.

What about you – do you think we’re on the verge of breaking away from the traditional trinity, or is it so set into the fantasy genre that it’s going to stay?

_Quote taken directly from Syl’s post

You can find Syl’s Raging Monkeys homepage here

You can find Nils’ Blog homepage here_

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Threat – Whose Responsibility Is It?

Zellvirae has a stonkingly well written piece about threat and role mechanics over at the Dead Good Tanking Guide. I couldn’t put this post down.And it’s extremely relevant to WoW today – have you noticed how unbalanced the various role responsibilities like threat and mitigation are?

That’s exactly what Zellvirae’s saying. He’s taking a long, hard look at what responsibilities tanks, healers and DPS have in group content in Cataclysm, and what we’re meant to enjoy doing. And he’s asking – why is it different for some roles to others? Why is something put into the game for one role because it’s enjoyable, but not for other roles?

What strikes me as odd is the fact that healers are now being asked to develop a more strategic view of their gameplay (the right spell at the right time) with regard to finite mana pools, while damage dealers are simply looking for their best button … What compounds this foggy thinking is the assertion that healers find picking the right spell at the right time fun, as opposed to just their best spell.

He’s also looking at how the responsibilitise have been moved around between tanks, DPS and healers as WoW’s progressed. He gives frequent comparisons between how things were in TBC to how they were in Wrath, and now look to be going forward into Cataclysm. And he says the balance is wrong: tanks and healers have a whole lot more plates to spin compared to DPS who are just meant to well, DPS. Back in the day where good DPS watched their threat…ahem, anyway.

Zellvirae rounds it up with some assurances he doesn’t see the game as broken but this needs fixing, and here are some potential ideas. Absolutely brilliant piece, somewhat out of leftfield given this topic doesn’t come up outside of theorycrafting forums.

What do you think – do tanks and healers have too much responsibility in comparison to DPS (were things better back in the day) or does Cata’s role balance work nicely?

_Quote taken directly from Zellvirae’s post

You can find Zellvirae’s Dead Good Tanking Guide homepage here_

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In Game Training For Tanks

So most of WoW’s cities have training dummies we can, y’know, train ourselves on. Melfina’s been thinking about how tanks could do with training situations rather than just a dummy to hit – and she’s come up with a whole training programme for tanks.

Melfina’s post comes from a recent stint of learning to tank as a druid. She doesn’t waste time telling us how well or awfully it’s gone but jumps straight into her idea, which takes tanks right from the basic levels of How To Tank, through intermediate levels, right to the more advanced stuff of aggro-happy DPS.

Intermediate Tank Training:

Similar setup, but now we include NPC DPS. You’d repeat trial 2, then do trial 3 twice, once with suggested crowd control and once where you chose the NPC DPS group and tell them what to cc. Again, all trials can be repeated, so you can really experiment with different group makeups and crowd control options.

I’m particularly impressed at how succinctly Melfina’s planned all of this, and thought about incentives and effects on experienced tanks. This is the best, no-nonsense tank training idea (albeit her brief example of the now-defunct defence stat on gear) I’ve seen yet – now all she needs is a snazzy tagline to go along with the training.

What do you think – have you got other ideas about how tanks should get their training or are dungeons/LFD a suitable training arena?

_Quote taken directly from Melfina’s post

You can find Melfina’s The WoW Noob homepage here_

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Theorycrafting TLDR: Protection Paladins (August 2010)

_We all know that forums like Elitist Jerks are where the top players go to share tips and work out tricks for insane DPS or amazing healing. But who has the time to read through all those massive threads?

MMO Melting Pot is on the case. We hack through the math so you don’t have to.

This week, we’ll be looking at the latest thinking in Protection Paladin theorycrafting and general tips, courtesy of top pallie theorycrafting site Maintankadin.

So what’s been going on in discussions in the last few weeks?

  • Did you know that Righteous Defence automatically targets the target of a mob? Yeah, me neither. Apparently, macros are unnecessary, because if you cast Righteous Defence on a mob, it automatically targets the mob’s target. Nifty.
  • [pullquote]The general conclusion is that slow DPS weapons are better for threat by roughly a full tier over normal-speed tanking weapons. What you give up is some avoidance and stamina. If you’re not dying, by all means go slow DPS weapon.[/pullquote]There’s some interesting discussion of the utility of slow weapons which would traditionally be considered DPS weapons, rather than fast tank weapons, to overcome the problem of tank threat scaling against DPS. Here’s some very useful tips on enchanting a tank weapon (aimed at slow DPS but useful to anyone). The original thread on the subject ends up with the conclusion that if you’re doing Heroics or non-progression raids (basically anything but Hard Modes), you’ll probably want to equip a slow DPS weapon in favour of an avoidance weapon (partially due to the 30% ICC buff). The “failsafe gearing guide argues strongly in favour of equipping Strength librams and a 2.6 speed DPS weapon to counteract problems with threat, particularly in ICC.
  • Not terribly recent, but the legendary Theck has been doing some hardcore number crunching on TPS (threat per second) on trash, and his conclusion is: by far your most important stats on trash are Expertise and Hit. Go for the soft expertise cap (24) and the melee hit cap (which is only 197 or 6% on trash). Useful to know if you’re tanking a lot of Heroics in particular!
  • Extreme hardcore theorycrafting (seriously, it uses “Time-homogeneous Markov chains with finite state space.”) has proved that in most circumstances Blade Ward sucks for pallie tanks compared to Mongoose. Get Mongoose unless you’re running a very high ratio of dodge to parry (before you take Chill of the Throne into account), and even then, Blade Ward will only pull ahead under rather specific circumstances and only on avoidance.
  • I’ve been seeing pallie tanks around doing insane DPS in heroics recently – turns out that it’s a result of an ongoing discussion about a “maximum DPS” tanking spec. If you want to do upward of 6k DPS in Heroics and make the DPS very very jealous, it looks like this 0/51/20 spec is the way forward. So trying that out. And that’s all for this week! We’ve learned a new way to use a core ability, swapped our weapons out for better threat, and spammed the DPS meters – a job well done.

    This was the first of these columns – how useful did you find it? And what class should we cover next week?

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