Monday, July 21, 2008

Lich King Talent Observations - Arms Warrior

My first alpha-talent breakdown comes at the class I have the most experience with in World of Warcraft; the warrior. My first set of talents will be in the Arms Tree. For those who have yet to see the proposed Alpha Lich King Talents, head to Here are some thoughts on the proposed arms warrior talents in their current incarnation.


Sudden Death - 0/3 - Your melee critical hits have a 10% chance to allow the use of your execute ability regardless of the target's health state.

This ability has the chance to provide an arms warrior with some pretty impressive burst damage in the form of additional executes. There are several issues I have with this talent. First, it is difficult to justify three points into a talent that does nothing 20% of the time (i.e. the time one can use execute anyway). Second, this talent is gear dependent and RNG dependent in that, the better the gear, the greater the likelihood of an execute. The overall effectiveness of this talent will need to be thoroughly theorycrafted but at a first glance, it seems reasonable for a deep arms PVP build or level grinding and an occasional rage dump for PVE Arms.

Trauma - 0/2 - Your normal melee critical strikes increase the effectiveness of bleed effects on the target by 15% for 15%

This increases to 30% with 2/2 and seems to be targeting PVE arms warriors as this talent's prerequisite is Blood Frenzy. There is so much ambiguity with this talent that for now, I will reserve judgement. Obviously, theorycrafting will need to be done with this to truly estimate its effectiveness (how good is rend in WOTLK? Does it stack with Mangle?, etc). The thing that really gets me with this is the way the tooltip is worded. Most notably, ..."normal melee critical strikes...". Does this mean only white damage or any melee strike? Why word it this way if its the same as flurry which is worded as follows?:

"Increase your attack speed by 5% for your next three swings after dealing a melee critical strike"

Notice it is not a "Normal" melee critical strike. What's the difference? Who knows?

On a personal note...

I still have absolutely no idea why Blood Frenzy is an Arms talent. I understand that Arms warriors would bring just about nothing but DPS to a PVE raid environment but as it stands now, Blood Frenzy single-handedly unbalanced warriors as it places Fury warriors on the sidelines in raid scenarios that are void a full time Arms warrior with the talent. To me, this is the quintessential example of imbalance and what Blizzard usually does well; focuses a class spec on it's primary function and provide that spec small degrees of flexibility. Based on Blizzards track record Arms = PVP, Fury = PVE. Giving the best PVE dps talent to Arms warriors makes no sense. Arms already has the vast majority of outstanding PVP talents.
To further qualify the position, Blizzard has already adjusted talents in the past when this kind of issue has arose. Blizzard took Improved Intercept, a clearly PVP ability, and moved it to the Arms Tree, despite the repercussions it had on Fury spec's PVP viability. I see no reason the same precedent should be set for fury warriors.

At any rate, back to the evaluation...

Unrelenting Assault - 0/3 - Reduce the cooldown of your Overpower and Revenge abilities by 1 second.

This seems like more of a filler talent than anything else. I find that the only time I really look to use Overpower is in arena when fighting a rogue. I use Revenge significantly while tanking but no one who is raid tanking will be this invested into Arms. These are only linked in this manner because the abilities share a cooldown. There are some combos that one could set up with improved overpower and maintaining flurry via crits but overall, this just doesn't seem worth investing points into.

Bull Rush: - 0/3 - Increase the stun duration of your charge and intercept abilities by 0.4 seconds.

It scales .4 to .7 and then to a full 1 second duration. If there was one thing that PVP warriors and rogues taught us in arena is that stuns can be difficult to overcome. Sure it's cheesy and void of skill but they are ridiculously effective. Still, 3 points for 1 second additional seems like minimal value for talent points. Regardless, this may be something warriors consider for arena play.

Strength of Arms - 0/5 - Increase strength and total health by 1%.

Perhaps I expect too much at this venue for talents but this just doesn't do it for me. Sure, it does scale with your total health as opposed to just stamina but at this point, I wanted something a bit more original. This talent is boring and its just more filler to get to the 51 point talent. Nevertheless, the extra strength and health never hurt so people will take this just to get to prerequisite to test Bladestorm.

Bladestorm - 0/1 - Instantly whirlwind all nearby targets and for the next 4.5 seconds, perform a whirlwind ever second. While under the effects of a bladestorm you can move but cannot use any other attacks or abilities but you do not feel pity or remorse or fear and cannot be stopped unless killed.

So most of the first impressions on the forums are less than impressed with this talent. I can sort of see why. It only lasts for 5 seconds and you can't do anything while using it. Sure, you get to whirlwind every second or so but 4.5 seconds goes by quick. Classes that can CC can out range this and wait it out and classes with exceptional mobility can simply run from it. With that said, there are some decent things about this ability. The cooldown is very reasonable at 90 seconds and will be used frequently. I know how annoying The Beast Within works for hunters and I imagine this will be just as annoying for arena participants. My major question is do the whirlwinds this ability generates going to net rage? If that is the case, the 25 rage spent here will likely translate into a rage gain once the Bladestorm ends. This could be very useful in sequencing attacks, particularly with its short duration. At any rate, this is an ability that will likely need theorycrafted quite a bit to make a good decision about.

Miscellaneous Changes to Arms Talents

  • Iron Will is now 0/3 and scales to 10/20/30%
  • Sweeping Strikes and Death Wish have switched places once again.
  • Sweeping Strikes now only effects the next 5 melee swings as opposed to 10 as it did in the Fury Tree.
  • Improved Rend has become Bloodletting 0/3 and increases the effect of rend and bloodbath by 25/50/75%
  • Mace Spec can only trigger once every 6 seconds.
  • Overpower now has one rank and does only weapon damage.
  • Poleaxe spec now increases both critical strike chance but also increases damage done from critical strikes.

The big changes here are with Sweeping Strikes and Death Wish again. This time they nerfed both before returning them to their original trees. Sweeping Strikes now only affects the next five swings as opposed to ten. This could be a mild adjustment from a two-handed build versus dual wielding but either way dropping from ten to five is significant enough to mention. Death Wish took an even bigger hit but we will get more into that next week =)

By in large, most of these change seem to be adjustments to game play. Adjusting Poleaxe to increase crit chance and damage was a logical response to resilience for PVPers who use axes. Improved Rend is thankfully gone and replaced with what appears to be a better version. Time will tell on that front but overall, nothing else really struck me as game altering.

As a whole, I can't say I am really excited about these talents. They seem to focus on PVP with minimal PVE except for the ridiculousness that is Blood Frenzy and now its counterpart, Trauma. Bladestorm and Sudden Death will be interesting to test but nothing here truly makes me want to spec Arms for any degree of time. Quite honestly, I am a bit disappointed. It's been over a year and a half and this is the Alpha test talents? Sure, these can and will likely change in the next few months but I certainly would like to see some more original talents. Blizzard has had plenty of time.

Next up....Fury Tree

Friday, July 11, 2008

Return to Activity

As many avid readers have noticed, it has been nearly two months since any blog activity. This has been for several reasons and while many of these same things are still ongoing, this blog will once again, return to active form. To better qualify what has taken place, here is a list of the issues that have been responsible for the silence the past two months:

  • The largest infiltration of my time has been a return to the classroom. Well, at least the online classroom. Most of these classes are easy but they take up large volumes of my free time.
  • As it stands now, my commute to work is a three hour round trip. Part of the return to the classroom is geared to obtain qualifications to change jobs. I enjoy my work as a corporate trainer but given the travel and salary, I need to find something closer to home.
  • My daughter is now 10 months old and has taken to crawling and the basics of walking early. As a result, she is high maintenance and requires constant supervision.
  • We are also in the process of obtaining a mortgage and filing the appropriate paperwork and information has been yet another topic of contention.

Even with all that has been going on, I still have made some time to play World of Warcraft although not nearly as much as I did during the spring. My goals are to prepare my characters for the upcoming expansion and to try new things with renewed vigor. This has meant a return to the realm of WoW PVP and arena. More on that to come in future blog articles.

One other note of interest that I wanted to mention is that this blog may receive a boost in readers as this blog is now listed on the Virginworlds website (link to the right). Virginworlds is the premier MMO news website, loaded with blogs, podcasts and links to most major MMO games and it is very much appreciated that Brent was kind enough to add us to his blog roll.

For the time being, readers can expect a new article at least once a week for the immediate future. This schedule will be maintainable for myself and should still produce the quality of articles that have been published in the past. For any new readers to the blog, feel free to read any archived content for a feel of the blog itself. Until next time....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Observations Regarding Wrath of the Lich King News

Earlier today, WoW Insider (, published a slew of new Wrath of the Lich King information for the general public. As many others have indicated, the timing upon which this information is released is "coincidentally" just before the Age of Conan release. At any rate, the depth of the details include some specifics regarding Death Knights as well as some zone videos but the major changes published today have to do with PVE raiding. While I won't publish the Death Knight Specifics, here are some headlines regarding PVE game play:

  • All 5-man dungeons will have a Heroic mode
  • Heroic dungeons will have a separate loot table than non-Heroics
  • A new token system will be used, similar to the Badge of Justice one used now
  • All raid dungeons will have both 10-man and 25-man versions
  • The 10 and 25-man progressions will not depend on each other
  • There will be no attunements or keys necessary for any raid
  • The 25-man loot will be a tier higher than the 10-man loot
  • The 10 and 25-man versions of the same raid will be on different timers so that each can be attempted on the same day by the same people

It's quite clear that Blizzard is constantly adapting the game. Here are some observations from the changes listed here.

  1. It is rather obvious that Blizzard has segregated its population with regards to game play intensity. The PVP crowd has been largely given a very hardcore environment upon which to progress while by contrast, the PVE element of the game has largely been watered down and made very casual friendly. This isn't to say there is no room for a hardcore raid guild or a casual arena team but Blizzard's intent for those demographics have been definitively established.
  2. I am still on the fence with the Death Knight although the information provided in the articles do make them sound fun to play. Still, while there are obvious differences with game play mechanics, there does seem to be a lot of functional redundancy between Death Knights, Warriors and Paladins. More information is needed to really get a good understanding of the class and its capabilities.
  3. With the introduction of a new class, there are always players who abandon a character to begin a new "main" character. Will this be at the cost of core classes, most notably healer classes who get burned out or former protection warriors who want to be able to dps and tank? Impossible to speculate for now but it is something to keep in mind down the road.
  4. The changes to the PVE raiding system were alluded to in previous statements by Blizzard, which indicated that Blizzard wished more of the player base was able to experience the upper echelon of game content in Burning Crusade versus the ~2% of players working on Sunwell encounters. Providing both a 10 and 25 man option to every raid instance in the game allows guilds of large numbers and small numbers to participate in game content.
  5. Furthermore, the changes to raid composition may result in more social and guild stability by giving players in a smaller guilds a platform to advance without high degrees of regular recruitment. This lessens the dreaded "feeder guild" phenomenon where smaller guilds gear up good players who hit a wall progressionally that can only be scaled by moving on to a larger, 25 man capable guild. The only potential downside is that current hyper focused 25 man raiding guilds may have more difficulty recruiting in the event a core, high attendance raid member suddenly vanishes. This isn't to say there won't still be guild hopping; it's just that if the motivation for guild hopping is to experience content, the likelihood of a player making the commitment to end game raiding is less likely.
  6. It's clear that Blizzard learns what works and what does not. While I too grow weary of the same daily quests, there is no better way to accumulate gold in a reasonable time frame. Badges of Justice allow the disparity in gear between casual and hardcore players to a minimum but still keep the hardcore player ahead with more options at their disposal. 10 and 25 man raid templates have been very successful. All of these things have been expanded upon in Lich king. By contrast, the process of key flagging players necessary to field a 25 man raid consistently is the kind of "time sink" grind that generates burn out. These have been removed from Lich King.
  7. While this is just speculatory, it is reasonable to assume that the consequence for no key quests to enter raid instances is that the first encounter in every new 10 man and 25 man instance will be quite the "gear check" encounter. The days of being indirectly rewarded with encounters such as Attumen, The Loot Below and Loot Reaver are over. In fact, don't be surprised to see an encounter like Brutallus as we venture into new raid content for the first time, where a raid of players will need optimal gear from every member just to defeat the encounter.

There will be certainly more news ahead and rest assured whenever the chance to enroll for the open beta arrives, I'll be applying. Until next time...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Five Most Undesirable Group Members

Greetings! It has been over a week since the last article. This has been in large part due to an online class I have been taking. All of the work for the class was due this week and of course, I had procrastinated and hadn't looked at the assignments required. It is rather sad that the same stupidity I did at 20 has carried over to age 30 but at least this time around I can blame my apathy on a full time job and an 8-month old baby (That's my story and I'm sticking to it). At any rate, all of the work for the class was completed in two days and my goal is a "B" in the class. The class itself was not difficult but it was the kind of topic that doesn't really translate to academia very well. It is the kind of class that would be better taught using kinesthetic learning but online classes do not lend themselves to this kind of learning except on an individual basis. Regardless, on to this week's article...

Exactly how many of us enjoy pugging? I know I sure don't. It's not that I am a recluse but more that I have a limited amount of time to play and wasting time on incompetent groups incinerates that time in a non productive manner. I also have an intolerance to stupidity and that intolerance shuns me away from the roulette wheel of pick up groups. With that in mind, I have a list of the five least desirable group mates in the game. I am sure we can all pick out one of these people in our travels throughout Azeroth. In my gaming experiences, here are the five player stereotypes that have facilitated my disdain for pugs.

5. The Emo Caster

This is the 20 year old second year college student playing in his dorm room in the dark. The world doesn't understand him so he immerses himself in the world of Azeroth, only to discover that he truly doesn't understand himself. The backlash is seclusion. He plays a warlock and solos most of the time, in dark, deserted places while listening to Flyleaf and Linkin Park via Itunes. In the rare instances he does unveil himself to group, he is the guy who fears mobs at every turn and instinctively death coils anything that gets near him only to meet an unfortunate demise by the seven mobs who his feared mob have now pathed and brought to the group. After his death, he begins lamenting about his "miserable" life and how he cuts himself when he's alone. The immaturity and self loathing suck the fun out of the experience like a vacuum. The group disbands and logs as C-SPAN 2 suddenly seems uplifting.

4. The Stoner Healer

This is the 22 year old college drop out who spends most of his life under the influence of illegal drugs. He starts the group off with mildly entertaining group chat but as he smokes more dope while playing the game, becomes less and less focused and begins drifting. As he drifts, his attention to detail and reaction times become slower and slower and eventually net persistent wipes. His once entertaining banter has become incoherent rambling and grinds the group to a halt half way through an instance. In the end, the group has to boot him because he is no longer responding to chat and his toon isn't moving. He has either fallen asleep or the munchies have sent him on a quest for twinkies.

3. The Patchwork Tank

This is 15 year old Johnny's pride and joy; his level 70 warrior creatively named Taurenwar. He gets to play two hours a day after his homework is done. As a result, his gear is a mish mash of battleground gear, auction house fodder and a few quested greens. Unfortunately for Johnny, his gear has no focus to it in any aspect with some pieces having dps statistics while others having defense. He even has a ring with spirit and agility because he got it as a random drop while fighting in Nagrand. When this guy gets in a group, that group is in for a long night.

Within the first pull, it is readily apparent that this guy has no clue how to tank. Furthermore, even if he did know how, his gear is so god awful that he couldn't hold aggro if you super glued it to his head. He keeps his two hander equipped at all times because his shield is in the bank and because it's a "sucky green". The rogue and enhancement shaman inherit the role of tank and are killed many times over as a result. The group attempts to keep going but there is no hope with him in the party. His dps sucks. His tanking sucks worse. He doesn't use battle shout. He doesn't use commanding shout. He used retaliation on trash, thinking the pretty swords that fly around him might entice monsters to hit him. His first aid is leveled up but he doesn't have the cloth to make bandaids. This guy is a cancer, sucking up coin and loot. He is eventually replaced as the group cannot progress with his presence after which he begins spamming the group members asking why he was kicked. After futile attempts to reason with the group, his mom tells him time's up and he logs off till tomorrow.

2. The Omniscient Advisor

This is the 23 year old guy who joins the group with his level 70 mage in full green garb. At first the guy is harmless but as the group gets configured, it starts. He begins instructing the druid how to heal, the rogue how to fight and the warrior how to tank. Not only is his advice unwarranted, in most aspects, it is completely wrong. Things like mortal strike is the best skill in the game for threat and full resto druids are uber dpsers with wrath spam. Meanwhile, he is so busy telling every one else what to do, his performance as the mage is miserable. His dps is garbage due to his amazing green gear and his 250 spell damage. After focusing on the other members for the first 25 minutes of the instance, his haphazard play wipes the group. This begins the whining about how if the group listened to him, they would have been done by now. After 30 minutes of his bitching, the warrior in the group gives him the infamous "STFU" and the fighting starts. The warrior intentionally stops tanking in an effort to get the mage killed. After two deaths, the mage finds the largest pack of mobs in the instance, frost nova's them, ports out and disbands. The group may wipe but assuming they can replace the mage, they are far better off.

1. The Ebayed Character

This is the story of 16 year old Mikey. Mikey's dad is too busy with his business to really deal with Mikey and Mikey has been telling stories about how all the cool kids at school are playing this game called World of Warcraft and little Mikey wants to join. In an effort to compensate for being a marginal father, Mikey's Dad buys him a level 70 priest from Craigslist for $500 and tells Mikey to enjoy. Little Mikey jumps right in and begins looking for his friends. Unfortunately for Mikey, his friends are on a different server but Mikey has no clue. He begins the futile quest for looking for his friends on the wrong server. After spending an hour figuring out how to log in and press the buttons. Mikey begins searching the world. He has some of the best gear in the game with Memento of Tyrande and Full Tier 6 healing gear. He gets random whispers from people saying "Awesome gear, man" and "Dude, I wish I had your stuff" but Mikey has no clue how to respond. In fact, Mikey has his combat log up and never sees these whispers. Inevitably, Mikey dies 22 times running around the world looking for his friends only never to see them. After a while, Mikey begins to click his interface and discovers the chat channels. He begins reading the general and trade channels frequently.

After messing with the channels for a while, Mikey begins to understand how to talk and communicate. After a few days, he gets invited to a place called Karazhan. Mikey has heard his friends reference this place and thinks, "Hey, I might find my friends there!" and promptly joins the group. The group gawks at Mikey's gear with phrases such as "OMFG, your gear is ridiculous!" and "Damn man, why the hell are you coming to Karazhan with T6?" but Mikey is oblivious to any of this banter. Instead, he asks if he will find Aaron inside. The group replies "Ya, Aran is a few bosses away but we will get to him." Delighted by the response, Mikey says "Thank god - I've been looking for him for a few days." The group ignores this and begins to start. The group asks Mikey for Fort and he tells them that the last fort he saw was back in the Orc city. They ask him for Spirit and he guides them to the spirit healer, a place he is most familiar with by now. The group laughs as they think he is being sarcastic. He has no spells on his bar as he doesn't know what spells are in the first place. The raid starts and Mikey watches the group kill stuff and begins to melee mobs but then he sees the other priest in the group summon a shadow fiend. This intrigues Mikey to figure out how to do that so he begins clicking on buttons. Meanwhile, the group has begun to fight Attumen. Mikey is far, far away and dies to Attumen's repeated charges. Pleas by the group to collapse on the tank go unnoticed by Mikey who is still enraptured by locating a way to summon a shadowfiend. Regardless of Mikey's epic failure, the group defeats Attumen and moves on to Moroes. That's when it happens.

Mikey clicks on the spell book and finds his spells. While he doesn't click on the shadow tab, he does open to the holy tab. One spell sounds exceptionally interesting; Holy Nova. He figures out how to bind a spell to his casting bar and now begins spamming holy nova throughout the entire raid. He runs up the stairs to a host of aoe mobs where his holy nova is met with a zerg. The group asks what Mikey is doing but Mikey doesn't respond. The group presses on and urges Mikey to wait for the AOE pulls before using Holy Nova. He has no idea what AOE means so he just keeps using it for every pull. After clearing the trash for Moroes, the group gives him the healing assignment of the main tank. This turns out to be a bad idea.

Even with his ridiculous amount of overgear, Mikey's holy nova's can't keep the main tank alive. Worse, his holy nova's have broken the shackle and the frost trap, thus resulting in the death of the hunter and second priest (go go no threat from Holy Nova!!!!1!). The group now understands what they are dealing with and put Mikey on raid healing the rest of the night, where he spams Holy Nova over and over and over again until he is OOM. By the end of the night, the group only can get to Nightbane, where Mikey repeatedly dies to Charred Earth and his lack of healing ensures the main tank's death. The group disbands and blacklists Mikey from further raiding. In the end, Mikey never finds his friends and begins to hear the ramblings of 10th graders about Halo 3. After telling his dad about Halo 3, His dad once again buys him the game and Mikey never plays World of Warcraft again.

So there we have it. My questions to the masses are as follows:

  • Which one of these do you fear the most and why?

  • Is there a stereotype that I missed that you feel is more undesirable than one of the five mentioned above?

  • Why do you hate pugs (not the dogs)?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Trampled by the Engine of Progression

Earlier today, I was reading the MMO blogosphere and came across Tobold's article:

followed up by this article:

Tobold's article was a follow-up to a previous article regarding guild hopping and a rather radical way to prevent it from occurring; having the raid epics from a guild member vanish and enter the previous guild bank when a member /gquits. Tobold presented a follow up to his article today which was a bit more reasonable by providing some numeric ways to track guild loyalty and tenure. Potshot wrote a follow up on the second article with more potential game play changes done in an effort to level off progression and keep people gearing up at roughly the same tempo. Both articles are well done and provide solid solutions to the problem. Nevertheless, I don't agree that game play changes are the answer to this issue.

The fundamental problem with guild hopping stems from an issue that has been touched upon this blog before and will continue to be a point of contention. The issue at hand is that players value the binary code over the people who made the binary code possible. Once the flow of more binary code decreases, these players ditch the guild that made the first set of binary code possible so more binary code can be accumulated. The cycle rehashes itself from this point forward. There is a way to solve the issue or at least make the advent of such an issue unlikely. It is the responsibility of the guild leaders and officers to curtail this issue by inviting the best quality people to their guilds.

To some degree, the player base has created this issue in and of itself. Many guilds evaluate the basis for inclusion to a guild only from a game play and gear standpoint, requiring a gear minimum. While this can be necessary for the content, using this as the only requirement for guild membership is an invitation to failure through e-bayed accounts and these lewt mongers who hop from guild to guild leeching as many upgrades as possible before bailing to the new flavor of the month. From a personal standpoint, I will invite someone to my guild who shows a true interest for people but is in all greens versus the individual who is epicced out but does nothing but talk about pushing content. I can teach the newer player what to do and feel good about it. I can't change the ways of a lewt whore who will leave after he gets what he wants at the expense of my guild members.

But, by in large, WoW manifests this behavior by its design. The whole game can be soloed if desired. While this in and of itself is harmless, it does harbor a lone-wolf style of player who only plays the game to upgrade their character, without cause or concern for anyone else. Guild hopping in WoW is significantly more prevalent than I recall in EQ simply because in EQ, you had to have a guild to progress. The group aspect of the game bred more friendships and more concern for the fellow gamer. People knew just how hard players worked for gear, with countless wipes and late nights with no loot to distribute. While WoW can certainly bring about this style of game play, the ratio of players who engage it is considerably less.

Given this environment, the players are ultimately responsible for who they include in their guilds and this should be more than a check of the armory to ensure an applicant has all their gear enchanted. Talk to these people. Interact with them and gain an impression of what their motives are and if they will mesh with your guild. Behavioral based interviewing isn't required but some form of true interaction and social grouping should take place. Guilds that don't live by this creed will find themselves trampled by the engine of progression.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Observations of Age of Conan

I've had some people ask about this game and if I recommended it or had interest in it. As such, I did some reading and I can't say the game peaked my interest. By no means do I think the game will be a failure. To the contrary, the numbers the game is posting with regards to sales are outstanding. Nevertheless, I have two major concerns with the game as a whole.

The first issue I have with the game isn't really a fault so much as it is the intellectual property of Conan being redundant with games like WoW, LoTRO, and EQ2. I've played EQ1, EQ2 and WoW extensively and the advent of learning and playing another fantasy MMO doesn't appeal to me. Sure, I do find the combat system as a solid innovation to the traditional fantasy MMO but the game play isn't what I find redundant despite the hot key based system to which most gamers are accustomed; What I find needs changed is the fantasy genre in general. We can only grind casters, tanks and dps classes for so long, despite the innovative combat system the game employs. Something different as far as setting would have peaked my interest more. Most of the classes in AoC, by in large, seem to be rehashed versions of EQ and WoW classes (e.g. Dark Templar = EQ Shadowknight). Perhaps this is a product of my apathy more then a flaw in the game but this article really isn't written to point out flaws with the game; it is simply a list of things that concern me about the game as a whole.

The second concern I have with the game has to do with the overall system requirements. This is something that Tobold touched on today and I agree with him in most aspects. Something I have said with persistence is that World of Warcraft is the pinnacle of MMO marketing and that creed rings true in most aspects of the game, including the minimum system requirements. This allows more casual gamers, who aren't in the habit of updating their computers frequently, with a game that can operate without issue. By contrast, the system requirements for AoC are amongst the most demanding I've seen in a game to date. My current desktop, purchased in 2004 (NVIDIA GEFORCE 6800GT 256 meg, 3.4 single core p4, 160gig hard drive and 2 gigs of ram) could barely run the game using the minimum AoC requirements. These kinds of requirements relegate a game to only the most tech savvy of the populous at release. Nevertheless, this will not deter hardcore gamers from obtaining the game. Past history has shown that dedicated players will upgrade their systems to run a game they feel passionate about. My primary concern is that the game will still fail to operate with minimal latency even with a system that meets the required guidelines. In a game as twitch based as this combat system appears to be, an optimal system with little to no graphic lag or latency seems paramount to the game's success. This is my primary concern.

Does this mean I won't attempt to get into the open beta? Probably not. I will in all likelihood attempt to download it although this will be quite a download. By in large, I don't expect to purchase the game unless I find the game to operate without issue on my machine and the game surprises me in fun value or game play. Perhaps the open beta will change my preconceived notions.