Thursday, 12 November 2015

Tips for Starcraft 2 LotV Casual Players

So you want to play through the Legacy of the Void campaign story but you're not incredibly good at playing it and it's starting to get a bit frustrating? Here's some tips. (Comments are welcome!)

Your best offense is a good defense
The method that's usually recommended and that's worked for me on my first playthroughs of any of the Starcraft campaigns is to simply build up my base and make a strong defense, and later move my army across the map and crush everything in my way.

Pros: you're sure to always win.
Cons: it takes a long time to do every single map.

Your first few minutes are critical
Yes, you have a lot to micromanage in your first 2-3 minutes of each game, but making sure you're starting right will ensure that you're not running out of resources and don't ever have to worry about that for the rest of the game.

Probe assignment
Build 2 probes - they will automatically go on to mining minerals.
Build 1 other probe - make it build an assimilator to start extracting vespene gas.
Then for every following probe you make, go 1 to the assimilator, 1 to mining.
I'd say the maximum recommended probes that are assigned to your base should be 12 or 13.
But make sure you don't blow immediately all your resources on probe-building - you'll have other things to worry about.

Scout for close resources
Meanwhile, take 1 unit of your starting fighting force and have him scout around your base to look for extra mining carts and vespene gas that the devs kindly left lying around to help you boost your production. That's the developers' way of rewarding you for not being holed up in your base all the time.
And make sure to check everywhere around your base - sometimes the devs have been sneaky and have left some hidden right behind you where you'd assume there would be nothing.

Prepare for battle

Check your base's assault points
At this point, in between building probes, you'll have some extra minerals stocked up.
Time to build your defense. Look at your base and figure out all the possible assault points to your base and know that the computer AI WILL attack you from all the assault points. It's not a maybe - it's a definite will happen.
So how do you prepare for that? You build photon cannons. And in order to use the cannons, you need to build additional pylons.

Build your pylons and cannons
Set your pylon a little bit further back from the choke point you're going to cover, and put your cannons on each side of the pylon. Then when those are built, add cannons to protect the other cannons. This is the tricky part and you'll figure this out by playing the game enough. You'll probably have enemies that will come melee your cannons, so it's good to have other cannons in range that will help pick off those enemies while they're busy attacking the one cannon.

Build a Shield Battery
This is great! It'll recharge the shields of your constructions and minions. This extends everything's life in your base. If you've done your pylon and cannon placement correctly, dropping one of these immediately behind the pylon should be covering your whole defense setup.

Build your army
Depending on the mission, you should already have 1 or 2 buildings up that can start creating your army. Have them always working on making a unit (right after you've got your probes working on gathering your resources).
A good tip here is to set a rally point. When you select your building, in the building menu you'll see an icon arrow. Click this and you'll be able to select where your mobs will automatically go when they pop out on the map. Of course, the logical places would be to stand near your cannons so they can help out when you're being attacked.

Make and protect your anti-air units
I am not telling you what you should add in your army because there's no good way to proceed. But I'll recommend that you make sure you're covered for ground and air attacks. Because the moment you'll be able to produce anti-air units, the AI will send you some air units that can attack ground units. Try to strike a balance between anti-air units and ground units, because anti-air units usually have a weakness that the AI will exploit, so make sure you're covered in that respect.

Feel the flow
I know this is a lot to cover for a simple base building strategy that takes about 7 to 10 minutes, but you need to have a plan of things to do to make sure your base is secure. And ultimately, it's up to you to figure out what's the best thing to do in the given situation you're in. Don't forget that campaign scenarios don't always start with the same units and buildings, and some scenarios also have timed objectives. So you have to figure out how to get comfortable enough to soldier on and beat the game.
Yes, you'll end up with an incredibly strong base against an AI you'll crush like it was nothing, but hey you'll have beat the campaign and got all the story, right?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blizzcon 2014 Drinking Game

...because it's a tradition for me, as well as many WoW fans.
I wrote one last year, but a lot has changed since then and I want to have a little fun.
Nothing complicated or elaborate, of course.

Take a shot if during BlizzCon 2014 you hear one of the following elements:
  • how garrisons are not player housing like Blizzard "promised"
  • dance studio
  • legendaries (take 2 if someone mentions that they "promised" a warrior one)
  • unnecessary and boring shoutouts
  • strong female characters (if it's in a positive way, cheer first, then take a shot)
  • Ben Brode laugh (once is enough - don't take a shot every time you hear him laugh - you'll kill yourself)
  • 2 questions instead of one
  • 3 questions instead of one (take two shots)
  • bring back a dead character
  • when dailies are being addressed as a Bad Thing
  • racials have been changed (take a shot and shed a single tear)
  • profession bonuses are now gone (take a shot and shed a single tear from a different eye)
  • Horde favoritism
  • not enough content
  • too much content
  • Rob Pardo (take a long loud uncomfortable sip)
  • bringing Hearthstone in WoW
  • referring to Mists of Pandaria as a Bad Expansion (take a shot, then angrily yell something at your screen)
  • question about gender equality/inequality/representation (either players or characters)
  • revamping Outland
  • revamping Northrend
  • #gamergate (chug whatever you have, and if you're male, apologize to women around you)
As usual, I'll have a bottle of Fireball Whiskey handy, because fireballs, cinnamon, and it's already cold up here (Montreal) at this time of the year.
But I might swap alcohol shots for shots of chai tea, because I'm getting old and the weight loss and the healthiness and etc., etc....

BONUS: Want to get your drinks on early? During the Opening Ceremony, drink every time Chris Metzen makes a gesture with a closed fist. (Keep your bottle handy, try not to spill too much.)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Warlords Basics for Dummies Like Me

Haven't played the Beta.
Haven't payed close attention to the Alpha or Beta.
There's so many things added to the game and it's challenging to go through all the content to figure out everything.

Here's a quick rundown of the things you might wonder about when you step into Warlords of Draenor.

What's my faction's main city in Draenor?
Horde: Warspear
Alliance: Stormshield
They are located in Ashran - it's an island to the East of your map. You can get there with flight masters. In the Beta, it was possible to swim there or use an aquatic mount, but it might be different Live. (There's also a mage portal from your garrison)

Where do I get Draenor profession skills?
They're changing a lot of things to professions (and I won't go in detail about that), but here's how you access Draenor skills.
  • Crafting skills: Quest starter item drops from random Draenor mobs. Follow the quest chain.
  • Gathering skills: Just like the changes to gathering in Pandaria, you simply have to start gathering and you'll automatically get your skill points.
  • Cooking: World drop item that teaches you 2 recipes. Then you get "Recipe Ideas" by making and eating the food!
  • Archaeology: Start to dig in Draenor (req. level: 575) to get the skill item skill item.
  • First Aid: World drop World drop.
  • Fishing: Just start fishing to get the skill item skill item. Also low chance of item dropping from mobs.
Hey where are the crafting percs that gave a special boost to each profession?
They’re gone. You can thank min/maxers for forcing their raid members to choose specific professions because Blizzard “forces” them to do it. Since that’s not fun for everyone, Blizzard decided to remove them to let people choose the profession they want.

Hey where are the racial bonuses that made some races better for specific raiding roles?
They’re gone too. You can thank min/maxers for that one as well, for the same reason.

I log on my Night Elf and I have a weird druid buff on sunlight/daylight over my head, but I’m not a druid! WTF?!
Don’t panic. It’s the new Night Elf racial Touch of Elune that does that, depending on what time of day it is in-game at the moment. I think it’s pretty snazzy.

Gear changes
Other than the item squish, there’s a few interesting things you should be aware so you’re not freaking out:
  • There’s no set gear or super-duper trinkets in LFR (regular trinkets will drop)
  • There’s no item upgrades on gear (sad ethereals are sad)
  • Quest rewards have a low chance to end up in your bags as rare or epic versions
  • Items can end up having 3 different ways for items to be better. This means that the same item can be looted multiple times, but the item stats may be different every time (think Diablo 3 items). They can be Warforged quality, have an extra gem socket, have one of a few choices of tertiary stats.
This info was taken from this guide, and it has more details on new stats and everything.

How do you start your garrison?
After the starter quest chain to get to Draenor, it’s one of the first quests you’ll get. No way around it, no way to miss it.
Check the garrison simulator on Wowhead if you want to understand how it will expand (I think it’s important).
The follower system and everything after that - experience it for yourself. Right now it's so complex on paper, it's giving me a headache.
But to explain it quickly - you can send followers on missions to gather things for you: resources, mats, gear, weapons, buffs, etc. And all while you continue playing the game.

Garrisons tip: Buildings take 1 hour to build, so go queue their construction up as soon as you are able.

Why should I care about having a garrison?
Having buildings will give you buffs and chances of getting better items, mounts, transmog, etc.
All buildings have 3 tiers and they give better things every time.
So the advantage is to start on them asap because you start getting perks right now as you are trying to get to level 100.
How about having an NPC that will tank mobs for you NPC that will tank mobs for you?
How about a potential increase on all your rewards a potential increase on all your rewards?

Where's my Azeroth Choppers mount?
Alliance: Have 100,000 gold handy and go to Old Town in Stormwind and talk to Paulie. He'll sell you a Champion's Treadblade. There seems to be no possible discount for that mount. EDIT: It seems like the mount is currently not in game and we have yet to get an answer from Blizzard as to why this is happening.
Horde: If you've logged on a Horde character between July 25th and September 30th 2014, you already have it in your Mount collection. It's called Warlord's Deathwheel. (I currently cannot find any info on another way to acquire it)
And - no. If you have one of the choppers on one faction, you don't immediately get the equivalent on the other faction.

Hey I had the Timeless Isle mega-achievement/time waster Going to Need a Bigger Bag started but I can't find it in the Explorer section of the Achievements window!
There's a new achievement section called Collections - it's in there.

Can you level Battle Pets higher than level 25?
Nope, but there's a ton of new pets, achievements, quests and items added to keep you busy for a loooong time.

Can I get my Legendary Cloak now?
If you didn't get it before Warlords' release, I'm sorry - the entire quest chain has been removed from the game.

Wait a second - the Achievements are saying I haven't done any Proving Grounds, but I've done them all!
Yep, that is not a mistake.
Proving Grounds have been reset and re-tuned for Warlords.
Players had been asking for Proving Grounds to be a tool of skill indication, or at least to be able to teach people the basics of their role (tank, dps, heal) so they aren't totally confused when they are stepping in group content.
So that's exactly what Blizzard has done.
But don't worry about your previous achievements - they're all stored somewhere in the new Legacy section of the achievements window.

Hey the same thing happened as well with Brawler's Guild!
It's also been reset and re-tuned for Warlords.
We're now in Season 2 of Brawler's Guild, and all your previous achievements are in the Legacy section of the achievements window.

Okay I've leveled to 100. I'm just gonna queue up for... Hey I can't queue up ?!?!
Things are different this time.
They don't want inexperienced players running all willy-nilly and experienced players vomiting angry bile all over the forums about "bad players" being "bad" and "getting carried".
So there's a few options for everyone.

To queue up to a random Heroic 5-man dungeon, you have to achieve Proving Grounds Silver.
To run a Heroic 5-man dungeon with a party you've made by yourself, there is no restriction, you can simply walk into the dungeon.
You can also get rewards from completing daily quests for completing the new Warlords Challenge Mode dungeons - including a chance to get LFR-level gear.

If you think there's other important (but not too deep) things I forgot to add to the list, let me know!