Sunday, October 30, 2011

Warhammer: Skavens versus (new) Ogre Kingdoms

It’s been a while since we last spent time with our friends in the Underempire. A mistake we’re about to remedy in today’s blog.
As quite a lot of you may know the Ogre Kingdom (OK) faction recently had a significant upgrade to their chubby ranks. In fact, it was a whole new book that literally spelled pain for the unfortunate souls who (more than often) took pleasure in jesting about the lacking utility of the ogres.
If you’ve been in the game for the last year it’s honestly no secret that OK hasn’t been the most feared side of the Warhammer armies. Their book was dated to say the least, their items and magic not exactly up to par and a lot of the rules didn’t make much sense. This left them for a long while with their elderly cousins; the Wood Elves and Tomb Kings. Sides you really didn’t see all that much because they couldn’t do very much, compared to the powerful alternatives.
Recently, however, we’ve been blessed with a severe upgrade on those fronts. Whereas Wood Elves still have it coming, both OK and the undead Tomb Kings have graciously received a long overdue upgrade in the form of brand new units, rules and lists. Ogres, in particular, might have taken the biggest leap from one of the weakest to potentially some of the hardest hitting units in the game.
As said; there were so many things that never made sense in their old army. Their magic that often ended up wounding the caster, the odd ratio between gnoblar-ogre and the fact that they seemed to either panic at any given chance or simply lack anything related to a ward save. For the same reason I was really eager to look more into their new armybook once it hit the shelves. Even though I’ve never played OK.
And today, I had the pleasure of trying my first battle against them.
Something old, something new, something smashed up…and red.
Summarizing every single ogre-update would be a daunting task indeed. Frankly, I’m not even sure I’ve noticed them all because this side has changed massively, compared to what I’m used to.
I only read through the new armybook once and noticed that, first and foremost, these guys can seriously pack a nasty punch, when given the chance. Getting a good charge is the bread and butter for ogres and only adds insult to injury. At the same time they’ve been granted new units that you’d be wise not to underestimate, such as the notorious cannon; The Ironblaster.
Other things you might recognize (perhaps even with a smile on your lips) and you’d do well to reconsider previous concepts. Units such as lead-belchers don’t blow up anymore. Man Eaters are now more or less able to pick their own combination of special abilities (which for Skaven-players is bad news in the form or dual pistol wielding ogres with Sniper and Poison. Our poor BSB’s…).
At the same time, Gut Magic is perfectly able to provide the fat men with both Stubbornness and mass Regeneration.
In other words we’re now looking at a side which has taken the piss for so long and is now back for revenge. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting the worst from the ogres and a lot of skaven players on Underempire have told dreadful stories about utter defeat at their hands.
How to prepare…
Compared to my battles against Orcs and Goblins, I frankly didn’t know what to expect here. So I had to generalize a bit.
In my optic there are two major facts Skavens can utilize against the ogres. First and foremost, ogres hit hard, yes. They’re capable of delivering a hail of blows but nothing near the hailstorm you might encounter against ‘Wizards’ of Chaos. Some of these are delivered with immensely high strength, but against Skavens anything with an S higher than 3 starts spelling bad luck. Once they reach 5 I just put them in the ‘certain death-qualification’.  What they lack, however, is the numbers. Ogre Kingdoms still field very small armies, meaning we’re able to outnumber them to a much bigger degree than we would against other sides. Harassments and outflanking becomes easier, we can even pump out tons of small units whose sole purpose is to ensure failed charges from the ogres, while we blast them apart.

Bringing us to lesson number 2; we likely won’t stand much of a chance in fair combat against the brutes. They’re simply too big and hit too hard for us to achieve any victory through strength of arms. Core Troops will likely manage to hold them for a turn, but I wouldn’t expect miracles in this regard.
Luckily, we aren’t about fighting fair. Skavens have plenty of weapons to deal with the fat men, many of them ideally designed to address their multi-wound profiles. Whereas the Hellpit will likely be able to make a serious dent in their side (can’t honestly say I’ve tried) it’s really clan Skryre that brings out the big guns now. Litterally.
The Doomwheel, Warp Lightning Cannon and Warp Fire Throwers are all wonderful toys that can spell absolute death to ogres and I made sure to bring as many of these as I could.
Finally we have your pestilent wizards. I’ve often mentioned how great Skaven Magic really is, once you understand its ways. Yes, I’m also sad that we never get to play with augmented spells but let the man-things have it. We don’t need it.
It’s likely no surprise that the lore of ‘Ruin’ is the way to go against the ogres. The D6 S5 hits from a Warp Lightning will make an impact on most Ogre-regiments, whereas the forced panic check from Scorch can work wonders for those straying regiments. Finally; Crack’s Call. There has been a LOT of debate on the net whether this spell does provide a ‘Look out, sir!’ or not. While I see good arguments on both sides, even if you play it like me (and allow LoS) this spell is so insanely good against and army whose majority of troops houses a meager Initiative 2. It’s not hard to wipe out about 9-12 wounds in one cast. Nice!

My army
I went for solid blocks of slaves and some clan rats, even though I didn’t expect them to hold for long. Two warp lightning cannons, two warpfire throwers and finally two doomwheels. For additional killing I brought a Ruin-Seer with powerscroll and five warlocks (only two of them able to spam Lightning). The rest were there for road blocking and the ever so valuable Brass Orb.
I also brought a storm banner and tried to equip my general for combat. In hindsight these points were utter wasted, he never saw any bloodshed. I could’ve tried harder to protect my BSB, really.
But all the firepower would do me no good if the ogres got the chance to shoot first. And let’s be honest, one of the things ogres have become really good at in their new army is shooting. The dreaded Ironblaster is your average cannon, only more accurate and mobile. And it grapeshoots for a nasty S10 and formerly mentioned Leadbelchers and sniping Man Eaters didn’t help either.
Besides wise deployment and movement the Skavens would do wise to utilize our old favorite; the Storm Banner.  This solution is dual edged, though, since our machines of destruction might just as easily fall prey to its effects.
The strategy: Delay the ogres as long as possible through failed charges and harassment, chipping away with my cannons and rolling doomwheels. The slaves and clannies were pure anvils and the last line of defense. Hopefully my weapon teams could clean up whatever my magic and machines failed to annihilate.
The Field of Battle
We had decided for a pitched battle, lasting for five turns at the most.
We rolled for terrain and produced a building (didn’t own a miniature building, we used an old can) a venomous forest, a wild wood, a river (which turned out to be a necrotic ooze) and finally a tiny hill with an obstacle in the middle.


Deployment
I won the roll and decided to deploy on the geographically crowded side. I was punished severely for doing so, in my last game. This time, however, I noticed that there was a lot of poison-potential on the table and ogres don’t like poison very much. I thought that regiments near the toxic river would be enough to intimidate my opponent into placing his flank closer to my central line.


Standard procedure for me is the bunker. I wasn’t in a hurry to greet the ogres, so we decided to fortify ourselves way back and wait it out.
Turn 1
Skaven

I won the roll which pleased me immensely. As a Skaven player this is not an all too common experience. I naturally decided to go first.


During compulsory movement, both Doomwheels drove off towards the center of the table. My left flank was guarded by the poisonous river and close to about 75 rats. Obviously a risk for the ogres. On the right flank the huge forest made any kind of progress a slow trip, so my opponent was basically forced to gradually take the middle road. My plan was to park my wheels and let them do some zapping before driving up their flanks.
I aggressively moved towards the house on my left flank, knowing my opponent might attempt a charge, even at long distance. In the middle I closed the gaps left by the Doomwheels, as I was not about to take any chances against those damn snipers.
During the Magic phase I decided to go for aggressive. I got off Skitterleap, moved my Seer straight up next to the regiment of Ironguts, including the Ogre general/caster and the BSB. I ate a powerscroll and hoped for the best. Which was good enough for a Crack’s Call.

I rolled a nifty distance. Enough so that the cracks ate some standard ogres in the other unit as well. The butcher passed his LoS but sadly the BSB did not. He ended up failing his initiative test along with five other ogres. I rolled a 7 on the misfire table, which did nothing but annihilate my power pool. Frankly, it was already quite empty.
I was most pleased by this.
As for Shooting I decided to concentrate all firepower on the Mournfang cavalry. These guys WILL hurt you, if you don’t address them. They bring so much pain and tend to show up with a 2+ AS by themselves. The cannons managed to bring down two during the first turn.
Ogres
Never being a fan of retaliation I activated the Stormbanner immediately. Not only did I fear the Ironblaster, the Leadbelchers and the Man Eaers kept worrying me. With the Storm Banner these threats become as good as insignificant. The Seer survived thanks to it, so I suppose it serves its purpose.
The Ironguts charged the small unit of Clan Rats. I fled, effectively making sure the ogres would stay put a while longer. As predicted, the rest of the army started moving closer to the middle, whereas the Leadbelchers sat course towards the forest. This, I admit, was unexpected. If they were able to reach my flank they’d easily be able to blow it up.

During the Magic phase the butcher attempted an empowered Brain Gorger on the slaves, but it was dispelled. Instead, the ordinary ogres were buffed with a  Toothcracker.


Much to my dismay, the Ironblaster made its 4+ roll and blasted one of my doomwheels into oblivion.
Turn 2
Skaven
Needless to say, the Storm Banner died out. It always does when I’m rolling. On the bright side, both my units of Gutter Runners entered the table, poisoned and ready to go against the Ironblaster or the Lead Belchers.

The remaining Doomwheel happily bumped on for its optimal position, from which I’d hoped it’d be able to zzzap some ogres.  In hindsight I was likely way too immobile with these things, but it’s my second time actually playing with them, so bear with me. My general idea was to wait for the ogres and zzap them for casualties and get the hell out of there before they could charge me, back into my own ranks. Might seem like a bold move, but you only live once. It turned out to work fine, though, and killed three Ogres with a well rolled 10 on the artillery dice.
My units braced themselves for the impact. I was frankly prepared to suffer heavy casualties, but luckily the threat to my entire right flank was gone, except for the remaining Mournfangs. I made sure to place my sole engineer (sorry, Bill) in their way, so that the cavalry was forced to flank into an unfavorable position, between two regiments of rats and a warpfire thrower.
My Seer moved with the Ironguts, making sure to remain on their flanks, and got off another Crack’s Call. The Butcher made his LoS and four Ironguts perished.


My Gutter Runners decided to aim for the moon and unleashed a barrage of 20 poisonous shots against the Iron Blaster. In hindsight, this was so immensely stupid. It’s a mastodon of a model. Not as hard to kill as, say, the Hellcannon, but with five wounds, a toughness of 6 and a 4+ armor save, IIRC, you’ll need much better luck than me. Or more fire power. I only managed to inflict a single wound. The worst part, I was now looking at three Leadbelchers, angrily aiming their guns at my poor Gutter Runners.
My cannons didn’t manage to kill a single thing. The first one misfired on its second bounce and with a meager 2 on the second, the ogres had it easy this time. Such is the ways of the Skavens.
Ogres
I couldn’t evade it anymore. Pain was coming.
On the left flank, I had placed another lone warlock (sorry, Dave) to misalign the remaining ordinary ogres, should they decide to charge. My opponent obviously didn’t approve, so he had his general Butcher charge out of the Ironguts. This was a clever move, as he’d likely smash my engineer and overrun straight into my 20 Clan Rats, housing my general and BSB. I didn’t want to push my luck here, so Dave fled for the hills.


The remaining ogre regiment was quite small and I’d made a fatal mistake. I’d left my Warpfire team exposed. So they had a charge coming in straight after. Fleeing would put the ogres behind my lines. So I decided to stand my ground and give them a buttload of Warp Fire.
The hit was spot on and with a nasty S5 and -3 the poor ogres were nothing but a smoldering crater. This immediately lead to panic tests, and the this is where it happened:

Both the general, the Ironguts and Man Eaters panicked and ran…
It’s one of those moments, in which silence settles over the room for a short while.
He took his revenge, though, by a well placed shot from the Iron Blaster and took out my other Doomwheel. I frankly didn’t expect him to roll that high on the dice, denying me another turn to move it out of sight. Unlike him, though, none of the Skavens ran. I frankly forgot that the Iron Blaster is actually a move and fire-cannon and took the punishment for my mistake.
In a clever move the Mournfangs outmaneuvered my warlock and charged one of my Warpfire Cannons and destroyed it. Sadly.
Luck was on my side again, though, as the Leadbelchers failed their swift reform thus rendering them unable to shoot in this turn. My Gutter Runners were safe for one more round!
Turn 3
Skaven
With half the Ogre army running in the opposite direction, I utilized the time to reset my former position for the charge. I’d lost one cannon, but began by rallying my small fleeing unit on the left flank, meaning I’d be able to stall the ogres for the rest of the game, even if they rallied the next turn.
I moved along with my Seer, decided to blast the running Ironguts one more time with Crack’s Call (you’ve gotta love that DC 11). Wiping them out could mean a lot more victory points.  With an Initiative of 2, what were the odds that it’d go wrong, eh?


So, yeah...
My warlock had a lot more luck with his Warp Lightning , though. Now that the Butcher was running solo, targeting him was no sweat. I rolled a 5 on the amount of wounds and connected with all of them. With a 4+ Ward Save and five wounds, surely the Butcher would be survive this, right?


It was a grim day, indeed.
On the right flank, the Warpfire Thrower flamed the Mournfangs, forcing a panic check. And yeah, they ran.
The Gutter Runners inflicted 4 wounds on the Leadbelchers and that was it.
Ogres
The Ironguts and Mournfangs rallied but the Man Eaters didn’t. The Ironblaster splattered the Warpfire Thrower and the remaining two Leadbelchers managed to kill three Gutter Runners. Not that much to say.
Turn 4
Skaven
Things were pretty much laid out by now, so I decided to play it safe. 50 slaves moved up to take the impact from the Mournfangs on the right flank. The warlocks moved in to annihilate the Ironblaster. My rallied Clan Rats moved up to stall the remaining Ironguts.
My Seer skitterleaped up next to the Ironguts and attempted to finish them off with the final Crack’s Call. Sadly, one survived. No victory points for me there. The warlocks attempted to slay the Ironblaster but due to abysmally bad rolls it didn’t happen.

My remaining cannon attempted to reduce the fleeing Man Eaters’ numbers, forcing them to roll double 1’s in order to rally. Again, I rolled a 2 on the second bounce.
After my second volley, one Leadbelcher stood with one wound remaining. I assume that the Ogre gods thought “Enough victory points!” at this point.
Ogres
The Man Eaters rallied, which annoyed me immensely.  The Mournfangs charged my slaves and I decided to hold. There can be no real Skaven battles without dead slaves.
The Ironguts charged the clan rats who fled and forced them to stay put for one more round.
The Ironblaster hit one of my warlocks but managed to inflict one meager wound. The same counted for the Leadbelcher except the Gutter Runner made his 6+ Ward Save.
The Mournfang killed nine slaves.
And then we decided to end the battle.
Verdict:Skaven won with 950 victory points over 475.

Afterthoughts by Maynard (Skaven)

This is one of those battles that ended as a mixed blessing. Although winning is always great, a lot of luck was involved both ways. The roll(s) that truly made the difference was the triple panic in the Man Eaters, Butcher and Ironguts. This truly shows the possible rewards of bold play, as they would likely have made it, had I not gipped the BSB in turn 1.
In a fair fight, Skavens don’t stand an earthly chance against ogres and my army reflected this philosophy. There was close to no melee involved, exactly as I intended. Some might call this lame or cheesy, but honestly, it’s what we do. Things could’ve gone better had the Doomwheels survived a while longer. They could also have gone a lot worse, however, had the ogres managed to get into melee sooner. I was also blessed that my opponent didn’t draw the Trollgut spell as this could easily have made things a lot messier.
Our multi-wound weapons are our bread and butter against ogres. WFT, Wheels and characters with multiwound weapons are all great. Lore of Ruin is insanely good, too. Crack’s Call can absolutely devastate a regiment of ogres, Howling Warpgale gives you a much needed edge against their nasty shooting and Scorch is ever so relevant for panic tests and the annoying Trollgut spell.
The ogres have some really nasty toys to look out for now. I haven’t encountered their ‘mammoths’ yet, but the Mournfangs are downright dangerous. With the conventional brute toughness of the ogres and a nasty armor save, don’t expect your ordinary forces to make a single dent in them. On the other end you’ll encounter the brutal Ironblaster. If I had to give a piece of advice from this battle, don’t underestimate how hard this units is to kill. Use cannons. It simply hurts too much otherwise.
The Leadbelchers and Man Eaters are dangerous to us for respective reasons. Belchers are capable of inflicting a whole lot of wounds under the right conditions. Easily 3D6 per turn of shooting. Utilize the fact that they muster a meager BS3, suffer from long range and can’t march and shoot. Stormbanner and Howling Warpgale can make these a lot less effective, compared to their price in points.
Man Eaters, besides from being an annoyingly catchy line from a song, will likely face you with poison and sniping. They can turn your characters and BSB into a pincushion in an instant. The best counter is to prepare for this and either take them down quick or deploy wisely. Again, Stormbanner, Warpgale and movement hampers their BS.
The ogres are a dangerous army, for sure. But as usual, being prepared for the impact can make the difference. Make Skavenblight proud!
Afterthoughts by Roque (Ogre Kingdoms)
(Coming up soon)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10 Things I liked about Dragon Age 2

(Art by: http://www.silverglass.dk/) Click to enlarge.

*If you haven’t played DA 2 … spoilers ahoy!*

If you belong to the myriad of fans who dearly loved Dragon Age: Origins and learned to hate the much debated sequel, let me first and foremost bid you welcome.
Now; let me strongly point out that this is NOT another beating of long-time dead (and severely smashed up) horse. I pretty much did that already (http://negativethac0.blogspot.com/2011/03/pc-dragon-age-2-review.html)

In fact, let me summarize, in the shortest way possible, what I thought about Dragon Age 2.

I never disliked it for what it is. But for what it failed to become with only another year of development.

In fact; there were things in Dragon Age 2 that I _really_ enjoyed. A lot, actually. And in this essay I want to come to its defences just for a short time. Why, you ask?
I recently had another completion of it and this time without the massively high expectations that I held from Origins. You could in fact say that my disposition towards it was so low that I practically expected shit to be flung at me in high paced (but beautiful) fancy combat. In some twisted reversed way, I was actually going in with a mindset that could only be positively surprised.

My class was a rogue. Actually the sole reason I played it again was to try out a class that was apparently able to splatter those ANNOYING elites within seconds (I’m looking at you, Templar Hunter). Plus I wanted to try the hot female Hawke (who I admittedly preferred much over the male version). In general I had a much smoother playthrough this time, likely because I invested a lot of time setting up Tactics for my party.

And, as said, here are the 10 things that I must admit I really do like (or even prefer above Origins) in Dragon Age 2:

1) Fluent combat
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first.
I never really connected with combat in Origins. Surely, when dual casting ice- and fire storms as a mage with my dear Morrigan everything was fun as ever. However, during my plays as rogue or warrior things got really clunky. I spent most of the time zoomed out for tactical purposes meaning I’d often see tiny figures poking each other in melee. All in all not very involving and felt more like a strategy game than epic combat.

DA2 solved every critique in this regard. Combat is faster and feels more involving since you’re up close. The speed and brutality in which it is executed works so well to its advantage.
There is just about no downtime and even though the teleporting waves did seem rather peculiar there is also a certain joy to the feeling that they can keep coming and you will never stop killing them. Also; your people move! A lot more than in Origins. Just look at the attack cycle of the rogues. I will admit, that’s how I’ve always imagined a rogue attacking. Swiftly, precisely and with just the right sound before they tumble on to the next victim.
As everything else about this article it’s about personal style. Just as you will find people worshipping the new lightsaber combats from the recent Star Wars movies but also those who cling to the old, rigid and slow style.

I use to say that Origins with DA2’s combat system would indeed be the perfect game.

2) Anders
I never got the sheer amount of trash talking some of the party members had to put up with from the fans. Granted, some of them were below par. For example I never took a liking to the either Bethany or Carver. Maybe because they never got the chance to be in my party that much. At the same time Fenris never developed beyond the Final Fantasy Emo-Reject even though his side-quest was decent.

Another who often got verbally abused is Anders which is a fact I truly fail to fathom. I never played Awakening so not sure how much I’ve missed in this regard, but I instantly took a liking to his slightly depressed and yet idealistic personality.
In many ways I also loved the whole Justice-concept. It actually had great potential once you think about it. They could’ve expanded more upon the uncertainty whether you spoke to Anders or Justice at any given time. Also, Anders’ reaction to slaying the young mage during his side quest does seem genuinely human initially. Sadly the game doesn’t follow up all that much in both regards which is a shame.


A lot of people have bashed Anders for being an anonymous whiner who didn’t contribute much to the game besides healing. I find that statement flawed. As a character Anders is the one most true to his conviction throughout the story, even more than Fenris who was actually willing to betray his beliefs in the end and siding against the templars. Anders is torn apart by the firmly held ideal and the recognition that his methods for achieving it are far from perfect. In fact some would say downright stupid.
In other words Anders was another personification of the old Nietzscian teaching; you can fight monsters but once you gaze into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you. Anders fought fanaticism with fanaticism and the results were, not surprisingly, catastrophic.

3) Varric
A lot of people agree that the tale spinning dwarf was one of the highlights of the game and I am certainly not one to disagree. I loved Varric even from the demo. He showed us that dwarves don’t need beards, tankards and axes to be awesome. You must admit that’s quite an achievement.

There are several factors that make Varric stick out. Physically he’s on the short end of the spectrum compared to your other party members and to my knowledge he’s the only one with a signature weapon. It’s an old fantasy convention but it still works great for building identity.
Another part of his charm is the shroud of mystery that also characterises other great fictional characters (The Joker comes to mind). You can basically never tell whether he’s being flat out honest or just pulling your leg. But rest assured, he’ll have a comment for just about anything. As if he’d been waiting for the opportunity the entire time.

Varric is also associated with some of my favourite quests. Apart from the main story I’m talking about resolving the conflict with his brother and the absolutely brilliant narrative of him storming his mansion. The following quest in the haunted house is fun albeit a bit of a letdown in the end.

He’s also the only character that seems like it turned out just as they (the developers) intended. You always had an impression what they were trying to do with the other party members but…something just got in the way every time. A small part didn’t work or they needed more depth. The only problem I see with Varric is that we needed more of him.

4) Merrill
Some hate her and some love her. I absolutely love her.
This is perhaps the most personal choice on the entire list, but I really liked the babbling socially awkward elf.
I kind of understood what they were trying to do with Merrill and her sub plot, but it never really appealed to me. Like so many other things in DA2 it wasn’t explored enough or given enough detail. Just as I felt it started getting up to speed it ended which is a shame.

You might ask what’s left to like then. I can only say pure personality. I liked how they made her both cute as well as a slight comic relief, which is something we didn’t get to see that much of in Origins (No, Ogden wasn’t a comic relief, he was fucking annoying). The real strength of Merrill lies in the specific moments, especially when romancing her.

5) Aveline’s Romance Quest
I’d almost feel sorry for poor guardsman Donnic had it not been for the fact that this quest line is one of the best in DA-history. Perhaps because it’s a reminder of those wonderful tasks that with all its charms and wits totally derive you from the main story.
If you didn’t involve yourself in this quest it’s best summarized as the very professional Aveline, captain of the guard, has a crush on one of her guardsmen. Naturally, confrontation is absolutely out of the picture so she’ll have to call on Hawke and friends to do the dirty work. Initially you’ll deliver minor tokens of affections then set up a date and finally clear a patrol point of monsters so she’ll have an undisturbed (and romantic) stroll with her heart’s chosen.

Of course it’s all so extremely awkward and it just keeps getting worse the further it goes. This is one of those great little quests that stood out once the game was completed and the one I always look forward to. From a psychological point of view I don’t think one should underestimate the importance of these elements. Basically every guy I know who’s played DA2 remembers this quest. It gives the game style and identity. Please, could we see some more of this in DA3?

6) Kirkwall
I like the idea with Kirkwall.
I like the concept, the general design and how the various elements play together albeit nothing new is brought to the table.
The problem with Kirkwall was that it could’ve done with a lot more development or personality. The various districts are in fact quite good and some of them could’ve stood more out than some of the areas in Denerim. Especially Darktown had atmosphere.

The city did feel like it had a story. I never really felt the same for Denerim that seemed extremely fantasy-generic in my book. Not that it was bad but it wasn’t anything besides another human settlement housing royalty.
It doesn’t look that bad either. As mentioned in my previous review I didn’t understand the hype about the city being ‘full’ but the streets are only sparsely populated. This was done well in Assassin’s Creed, so why not in DA2?

7) The templar-mage conflict

Again, it’s a great idea. But once it became really important in the game the timing seemed way off.

We learned of the bitter long struggle between the Circle and the Chantry back in Origins and thanks to the brilliant structure of said game we couldn’t really pick an objective winner in this debate. Both sides carry their share of bad apples.

In DA2 this is only emphasized which is great. After all, this conflict is one of the milestones of the DA-universe and is a close resemblance to several aspects of our real world. Some times it’s just impossible to judge between two evils, especially when they only exist thanks to each other.

In Origins I felt it was a bit too easy to gain sympathy for the mages since they were pretty much the victims all throughout the game. A few exceptions existed but were mostly portrayed as renegades or mad men rather than an institutional problem.
In DA2 we were taught that power corrupts and if none were to keep such power in check the world would surely perish. Wynne went to great lengths to tell us about the dangers of weakness when utilizing magic (opening yourself to demonic possession) but it never seemed that prevalent. On the other hand the mages of Kirkwall seem to fall like flies to blood magic the more they’re pushed by the templars.

This conflict seemed a lot more real and authentic. And there was no ‘real’ solution. Even when all hell broke out in the end I frankly ended up shrugging since I had no idea what to do. There was no definitive answer besides the one based on personal preference.

I’ve always had the feeling that DA2 eventually decided having this conflict as the central turning point after trying the expedition and the Qunari. If so they should’ve gone with it from the very start of the game instead of just hinting at it. There is enough power in this dilemma that it could easily have carried the story on its own.

8) The demo/trailers
It might sound as if I’m getting desperate here but I assure you of my sincerity. There are very few games in this world that actually managed to get me hyped before release but DA2 certainly is one of them.
Perhaps this is the reason why I’ve raged so much about the animated fight between Hawke and the Arishok not being in the game itself. It was brutal, over the top and felt so god damn epic. And once the demo arrived I distinctively remember my first attempt with a mage and how my jaw instantly dropped when I saw the attack-animation. Origins taught me that attacking with a staff was a bit like poking thin air monotonously and eventually magic projectiles would emerge (yes, I’m aware how creepy that sentence might sound). This was over now. Combat was fast and dynamic; it was as if I’d never tire of it. Once the demo was over it slapped you in the face with a huge “To be continued!” sign showing a long series of upcoming ingame moments and you couldn’t help squealing ‘Oh yes, please!’ under the weight of its boot.

This game got to me way before release. It’s really interesting to notice. I was so extremely eager to play it and stared angrily at Steam for several days before the morons decided to unlock it. But it was good to hear the first reviews from people playing the pirated version long before the rest of us.

One could argue that this compliments the deceit rather than the brilliance of the demo. I’m not one to claim the truth. I just know I was deeply impressed with them.

9) The murder of Hawke’s Mother
Another quest I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it came to one of those annoying standstills. IIRC you’re pretty much unable to advance this quest any further until the plot lets you. And if I were severely annoyed by this it meant I cared.
I’ve always been a sucker for investigation, be it in games or pnp. They’re fun, even when sticking to the simple formula of running all over the city on a railroad of clues. Which is frankly how DA2 handled it most of the time.


Kirkwall Dating Service didn't work well for Leandra.
Perhaps because she was more into brains than looks.
 I would, however, have loved to see them go even more out on a limp. Seeing Zombie Mother Hawke shamble towards me was…mildly upsetting. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t comforting but try and compare it to your first encounter with the Brood Mother in Origin’s Deep Roads. The entire setup, execution and revelation of this horrific abomination was brutal to say the least. They could’ve gone to even greater lengths to horrify us with what the mage did to Hawke’s mother.
We’re roleplayers (many of us). When we encounter someone being zombiefied we pretty much react as if they’ve got the flu. It happens all the time.

10) The Qunari
Again, this is an idea that’s so good and regrettably had too little development. I have no doubt that the original incitement for letting the Qun play such a huge part of DA2 is to portray another clash between control and freedom. And show what happens once you have too much of either.

Bringing a war of existentialistic points of view into the game was great but it always seemed so forced and isolated. I actually loved the whole idea of the Qun and understood why it gained so many followers in a city like Kirkwall. As the Arishok mentions it is in many ways a festering pile of filth containing countless of souls without any real purpose. The debate gets interesting when we start asking whether this justifies the theft of personal freedom.

Just like the templar-mage conflict this could’ve been the focus for an entire game. It seemed ideal to expand upon the flaws of fanaticism and religious tension especially when they clash with political virtues. For example when convicts start converting to the faith but you can’t tell whether they’re believers or simply seeking protection in a strong militant clergy.

Some people have bashed the Arishok for being a cardboard cut out antagonist, but I never connected with that criticism. He was the frustrated, slightly depressed and yet unhealthily zealous leader abiding by the only teachings he knew. I understood why some people would want to follow a leader like that.
As an antagonist the Arishok was fucking Shakespeare when compared to Meredith.

Finally…
There are several things to like about DA2. It’s not a horrible game all in itself and there are redeeming factors. It rightfully deserves some of the beatings but again I’d like to point out the analogy: There are no bad children. Only bad parenting.

We can only hope that the developers (the parents in case you haven’t guessed) will indeed learn from what worked and what didn’t. I frankly don’t believe we will see anything like Origins in the next ten years or so. But I DO believe that what we’ve seen in DA2 could turn the third instalment into a brilliant game if used correctly.

If you like me were pissed beyond recognition about DA2 not being the Origins 2 you had hoped for, I’ll recommend giving it another try once the dust has settled. There are some points worth noticing that doesn’t make it (entirely) the bastard it was crucified as.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

PC: Heroes of Might and Magic 6


Like several of my kinsmen I’m not ashamed of my longstanding dedication to the masterpiece known as the ‘Heroes of Might and Magic franchise’. Not an avid follower from the very start, however, the endless amount of hours I’ve spent on the third and fifth installment of the series is beyond counting. For the same reason you can likely figure out that my expectations for the now released sixth journey into Erathia were pretty above standard.
And it has indeed been some journey, 25 years by counting, which undoubtedly leaves us with the burning question; where are we going now?
HOMM6 is first and foremost a study of the ever relevant question; how much can you actually change in a game before it ceases to be what you used to know? How does one walk the extremely thin line between not alienating the established fan base while still bringing something new to the table?

Well, on the fluff-side everything is pretty much what you’d expect from a game like this. The intro is decent, good looking and as usual sets the stage for powerful armies clashing together. We plunge into a world set 400 years before the event of HOMM5 in which Duke Slatan gets into serious trouble with the Griffin Emperor for allying with the orcs in order to slay demons. If this somehow brings out memories of Warcraft 3, I’ll just spare you the fact that the orc is named Krall.
Things quickly set in motion and Duke Slatan is soon after slain, leaving behind his five children who are all now in control of one of the five factions currently available in the game. You take control of each in turn as events unfold, and provided you’re willing to take the time the single player campaign isn’t over in just one night.
The flaws we learned to live with from the fifth game are back, though. The story is not particularly involving, often reduced to still standing dialogue read out loud. The few in game cutscenes are bearable whereas the voice acting is most certainly not. I never liked it much in HOMM5 but this time it’s downright abysmal at times and boring at best. Listening to monotone orcs telling they should bring back a decapitated head of their enemy with absolutely zero enthusiasm is something that should be downright illegal within fantasy conventions.


But the story has always been a secondary element in the HOMM-games and what we really wanted to see was how the gameplay has evolved.
To sum it up short the best answer would definitely be; if it works, don’t fix it. HOMM6 knows that there is no need to change a working system (start taking notes, Dragon Age 2) and what you should therefore expect is the classical Might & Magic experience. You purchase a hero, build a town, train your troops, develop your hero as he gains xp and crushes the opposition either through might or magic. So there, you can breathe easily now.
That being said, there are some quite essential changes this time and whether they be for good or for worse is really up to the individual to decide. Whereas a lot of them actually seem more like tweaks that should’ve been made to the fifth game, others force you to rethink your usual approach to the formula.
Not surprisingly we see a faction revamp leaving Haven (knights and angels), Sanctuary (an aquatic themed side), Inferno (demons), Necropolis (undead) and Stronghold (orcs and brutes) as the available options. Some players will be put off to see their former favorite faction left out (in my case, the Dungeon) but it’s not unrealistic to hope for a later expansion. Dedicated fans will remember how HOMM5 to some extent remedied the ridiculous imbalances in HOMM3 and luckily much of this balance is retained. The factions have their respective strengths and weaknesses and troopwise there are enough old and new faces to make it worthwhile.

A sad drawback, though, is the simplification of the city interface that has now been pretty much reduced to nothing but a minimalistic snapshot of your base with a ‘city talent tree’. Whereas HOMM5 really provided us with a feeling of a bustling metropolis this time “it’s only a model…”. I have heard rumors about Ubisoft wanting to address this issue in the future, so it might be viable to take heart and wait.
The process in itself is not changed. You upgrade, fortify and purchase new troops from your hard earned cash and resources.
As for the latter there is not nearly as much hassle as in earlier games since one of the more radical initiatives involve reducing the total number of resources to four. Wood, stone, crystals and gold. I’m personally not a fan of it, but several times I was actually relieved that I didn’t have to scour the entire map for the annoyingly well hidden mercury lab. At the same time, once you’ve secured your resources they’re pretty much yours till one of the nearby military structures have been defeated. In other words, resource sniping with that pesky little level 1 hero is not viable, and I can’t appreciate that enough. You can lay siege on a single outpost but once you abandon it it returns to your enemy.
Another really nifty detail is that you’re now finally able to convert captured towns into your own faction. On top of that, recruiting troops has been made a lot easier since you can now purchase all of them from one point, instead of running all over the map to every city.


Players with mentality like my own will also be perplexed to see that mage guilds are no longer available for construction in town. This is a direct result of the much revamped hero system that is now much more complex and yet involving than you’re used to.
As your hero levels up you spend talent points in various talent trees, distributed between Might or Magic respectively. Your knight could for example specialize in War Cries or Realm, or your necromancer in Air Magic or Death Magic. This also has indirect consequences later on, as various powers are also related to an alignment-axis varying from Tears (good, forgiveness, empathy) to Blood (evil, ruthlessness, destruction). Whenever casting spells or using abilities in combat you’ll gain reputation from the associated path, which will have additional impacts on the game. In the campaign this choice between good and evil serves as your moral compass as it will often influence your hero’s RP-decisions.


It’s not a thoroughly complex system but if you want to tailor your hero 100% to your play style it takes some dedication. There are a lot of skill-trees to manage and some of them are unique to certain factions. Some players might miss the randomization element, but all in all this newfound sense of control certainly suits the game in many ways.
And you see; that is basically it. The rest of the big hits are pretty much to explore and be thrilled about the small details that improve the game and give it an edge.  You will notice that you’re now able to replay a battle which you thought could’ve gone better. The AI seems to think a lot faster than it did in HOMM5, and some of the factions have gained unique abilities that can heavily influence the course of battle, such as the necromancers’ raise-ability.

The musical score is great, some of it actually consisting of improved tracks from the former games, in addition the sounds do what they’re supposed to although they certainly don’t surpass the fifth game in this regard.
There’s not that much to put a finger on regarding graphics either. The animations are good as always, especially the heroes are great. But all in all, the leap is not that massive from the predecessor. It’s not ugly by any means but it doesn’t really excel either.



Multiplayer-wise the game is solid as ever, if not even more so. With a good amount of maps to chose from and great online support it’s easy to hook up with some friends and battle it out. For those of you wishing for a more intimate experiences the old faithful hotseat option luckily returns.
All said and done, HOMM6 is a solid game that will greet you with open arms and treat you what you like while still keeping a few surprises in store. Whether it will keep your attention for much longer than any of the previous games is a matter for debate though. It will likely feel more like a reunion than a new friendship, but for as long as you can stand doing just what you did many years ago(now looking better and a lot more mature) you’ll be in for a great experience.

Verdict: 7.5/10
Is it worth the retail price?: For fans of the series, perhaps yes. The rest of you might want to wait a bit.
Once completed, will I play it again?: Likely not. I still prefer HOMM 5.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warhammer: Building a Doomflayer

I’d be lying if I said the recent painting-project wasn’t about to kill me in the end. So I decided to go for something different, not necessarily simpler.

I’ve had a long running project that I wished to finish but somehow couldn’t since that particular creative spark wasn’t really there. It was one of those that suddenly struck me the other day when I was out shopping with my girlfriend and she pointed out those cute, tiny graters. I’m a moron in a kitchen so I obviously have no clue what they’re used for, but they sure did seem…Skaven’ish.

Additionally I’ve been on the lookout for an alternative to the official GW Doomflayer-model. Not because I dislike their version (in truth it looks great) but investing money in it seemed like a big step. Especially because I never play with the Doomflayer. Some people have scorned me for this, saying I ought to give it a try. Others are, not surprisingly, in the exact opposite camp.

Since creative solutions have never been all that alien to me I decided to embark on another journey of hobbyism. After all, how hard could making a Doomflayer be?

The grater seemed like the perfect solution. It’s one of those elements in the kitchen that are really downright brutal once you think about it. Plus, it reminds me of cheese. And rats. Even though it’s likely a common misconception that rats like cheese. But fuck it.

The original draft sought to first and foremost encapsulate the madness of the rat men. It worked out decently but also needed a lot more attention.



The abomination project took over not long after, leaving the Doomflayer on the shelf for several weeks. It was the other night when my girlfriend and I started talking about the oh-so-famous phrase “They see me rollin’” things got up to speed. No pun intended.

It seemed really obvious to make a true ‘gangzta-rat’ driving his car around the battlefield. It did. And in the same line of though, naturally  he would’ve pimped his ride as far as he could possibly get away with.

In the end I tore apart the prototype and started over. Instead of the usual greenstuff spam I glued on the wheels and started designing the basic layout.
The final result ended up like this:


(click to enlarge)

 The driver is a part from the Hellpit Abomination. I made his bandana from greenstuff. Same counts for his dices that hang from basic wire that was later glued on.

The rest is really just various parts I found. The hard thing was to restrict myself so I wouldn’t make the model ‘too busy’ to look at. The unfortunate snotlings were just old models. The dragon-head is from a dwarven-model (frankly can’t remember which one) and the lightning and warpstone from a warp lightning cannon. The “stick it to the man!” antenna I’m pretty sure is from a zombie-regiment. All it took was gently bending the fingers.


I also considered having a marauder head on a spike as well as a stereo or some other bling. Eventually the rat will have a tiny golden chain around his neck.

It’s obviously one of those models that were more fun to make than actually play with. It will likely find a place among the other results on the shelf and maybe if time is right, he will actually go for a ride.

Now it’s back to the core troops of which I have around 50 left. Then a few weapon teams and two heroes, and my Skaven army is basically done.
Of course, I’m still considering painting my slaves in more unified colours. But that is for another time…

Monday, October 10, 2011

WoW: Orgrimmar - Gold never sleeps pt. 2

Hi, everyone! We’re back! It’s another great rainy Monday morning and time to refresh the blog. I want to catch on pretty much where we left the last time and talk a bit about gold making in WoW, my latest addiction in an addictive game.

Last time I spoke about some of the sites that caught my interest and inspired me to set out on my new project: To become a rich bastard. Not a thoroughly concrete goal, I must admit, albeit a realistic and fascinating one. Especially once you consider that I’m already a bastard.
Setting a definitive amount as ‘the primary objective’ didn’t click well with me. Instead it’d be much more interesting to see how much I could possibly scrape together and how little effort it would take.

One of the primary sites of inspiration has been The Auctionhouse Addict (http://ahaddict.blogspot.com/) not only for strategies but also motivation. It’s quite evident that the owner of the site has been trading in grand style and achieved some hefty sums by the pure means of trading. With no intention of insulting the owner of TAA, it’s funny how this rather simple site worked wonders for me compared to several colourful (and shitty) gold-guides.

Thus I began ‘Project Orgrimmar – Gold Never Sleeps’ (POMNS among friends)

What is Project Orgrimmar – Gold Never Sleeps?
Besides an obvious pun of “Wall street – Money never sleeps” there is a solid meaning to this name. But you have to know where I’m coming from with this.
I’m a nocturnal at heart. Hardly any surprise since this tends to comprise the majority of the geek-culture. And let’s not even get into the fact that I spend several waking hours in front of a computer.

In other words, I don’t sleep all that much. Not even when I’m working or attending courses or school. I’m under the assumption that my body will gradually restrict me in this regard as I grow older, so for the time being I love to push it to the limit.

Imagine this for a trader.
Spending so long in front of the monitor usually means I’m able to easily provide the lowest prices on the wares my characters provide. This is so very easily done these days by utilizing Tradeskillmaster to undercut everyone by one copper with a handful of clicks. Additionally, mentioned add-on provides you with great opportunities to replenish your store whenever you’re sold out of a specific item. This means I’d pretty much be in business a lot of the time.

The trick to this is that you can do much else meanwhile. I usually paint my Warhammer-armies in front of the computer while listening to podcasts or reviews (I specifically recommend the entire Channel Awesome-cast). Every fifteen minutes or so I pop into WoW to scan all my auctions for undercuts and relist my wares. If I’m out of stock, I simply craft more.

Was it effective?
POMNS made me more than 25.000g during the first week. Around 3000g was invested in JC-recipes and Glyph Mastery books. In addition I made some attempts at buying low and selling high, which mostly involved enchanting scrolls and ebonsteel belt buckles.

My procedure was something along these lines:

1 – The Add-ons
Most of these are described in my former post on gold making. For the sake of repetition here they are again:

Auctioneer
Tradeskillmaster
Postal
Bagnon
Mysales (I didn’t mention this in the former post, but if you want to check how much you’ve sold this is a really nifty little add-on)

Install them and start doing as many scans with auctioneer as possible (and set your TSM to use the Auctioneer market prices). Alternatively, just scan with TSM. It’s your call.

2 – Picking your niche
It’s often best to decide upon a certain part of the market instead of making attempts at everything. This is often determined by whatever professions you have access to on your characters. In my case I had the following professions:

Jewelcradting (Maxed)
Inscription (Maxed)
Enchanting (Maxed)
Engineering (Maxed)
Alchemy (Maxed)
Blacksmithing (300)

And all the gathering proffs, which shouldn’t matter all that much in this project.

I decided to focus initially on JC’ing and Inscription since these tend to be reliable money-machines. There is usually a huge potential in enchanting as well, but besides from the disenchanting aspect I’ve always been a little intimidated by the overwhelming market of possibilities. So I placed that on hold along with engineering. Making de-weaponized mechanical compansions used to be a tidy profit back in the days but overall engineering never struck me as a goldmine.

3 – Doing the limited-rune
In my former post I provided you with some links to the limited-items routes in Outland and Dalaran respectively. I made sure to do these beforehand and also a few of the ones in Kalimdor.

In my experience, the recipes sold by the vendors in Tanaris, Feralas, Un’goro and Silithus earn the most profit. Maybe it’s a southern thing.

Setting up your TSM for these groups heavily depends on your server.

For the Outland-recipes, I refused to sell them below 50g each. The fallback price was 75-100g.

For the Dalaran-recipes and items I refused to sell them below 100g each. The fallback price was 150g. Some times I was able to sell the pets (specifically the Obsidian Hatchling) for up to 400g. I suppose people really hate going to Dalaran.
I also bought a small supply of shirts at the tailor. The black and purple ones seem to sell the best.

For Kalimdor-recipes it really depends. If they’ve not been seen on your realm for a long time (Hint: http://theunderminejournal.com/) I suggest placing the up to 300g each. If they don’t sell, aim lower.

In general I didn’t bother much restocking these supplies once I started. The sole exception was the recipe for Primal Might transmutation (as this goes for around 150-200g on my server) and the recipes for the philosopher’s stone, whenever I teleported to Tanaris.

4 – Establishing the market; the first half of the week.
Inscription
I began with around 7000g at my disposal and decided to set out firmly with glyphs. After scanning as much as possible during the first two days TSM gave me a pretty good idea about what to make. In the end I crafted the 20 highest selling glyphs and placed them on the AH.

I made sure to check every day for the highly valued books of glyph mastery. After all it’s one additional glyph to your repertoire that separates you from a lot of other players. On my server these books usually go for around 4-500g each but you can alternatively add them to your snatch-list in Auctioneer. At times I found these going for around 50-100g.
Of course also do the daily researches.

The only thing I found inscription being good for besides glyphs is the certificates of ownership which sold on a mediocre basis.

I was very often undercut on glyphs, so doing the cancellation-scan every fifteen minutes or so worked out wonders.

Jewelcrafting
It’s hardly any surprise that red gems sell the best, but there can be a potential goldmine in Jewelcrafting that might be worth giving a shot. Compared to other professions that somehow suffer from the readily available heirlooms, rings and necklaces are still needed in levelling. Additionally, some players like gemming their early gear with good quality gems. At least for twinking purposes. From this premise I did the following JC-wise:

-         Investigated the market for Scarlet Rubies (the Wrath-gems). What makes these special is the fact that they provide the highest stat-boosts possible while still able to socket in items of any level. There were a few uncut rubies which I bought for around 40g each and turned into inscribed and delicate versions, relisted for 90-100g. Alternatively I looked for cheap saronite or cobalt to prospect.
-         Added uncut inferno rubies to my snatch list. On my server the cut versions sell for around 130-150g each so I searched for those listed around 100g, which happened a lot during the weekend.
-         At other times, purchasing cheap Cataclysm-ore is viable. You might ask what to do with the various gems? Here’s what I did:

Rare Gem                                    Action (choosing the highest going gem)
Inferno Ruby                                  Delicate, Brilliant, Bold
Ember Topaz                                 Potent, Lucent, Inscribed, Polished, Reckless, Fierce
Ocean Sapphire                             Stormy, Sparkling, Solid,
Demonseye                                    Purified, Glinting, Accurate, Etched,
Amberjewel                                   Smooth, Mystic, Fractured,
Dream Emerald                              Puissant, (Goes really badly on my server in general)

Uncommon Gem                          Action (choosing the most profitable option)Kuja (at http://kujasgoldmine.blogspot.com/) made a really nifty diagram for the handling of uncommon gems. It sums it up pretty well: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A-A5uH5d4gA/TUxhMqw5p-I/AAAAAAAAABk/ej8nvrHUXV8/s1600/wow+gold+prospecting.jpg

I basically followed the instructions. Otherwise you might consider simply saving all your uncommon gems if you have an alchemist able to turn them into Shadowspirit diamonds. I usually choose the latter, unless Celestial Essences are going very strong, in which case I make Carnelian Spikes and disenchant.

MetagemsAll new to this market I decided to concentrate only on the Ember Shadowspirit Diamon initially. Later I found the recipe for the Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond for 2000g and decided to make a gamble for it. I sold quite a handful of those, going for up to 200g each.
-         Also inspired by Kuja, I made an attempt at crafting some low level jewellery. This didn’t sell very well at all on my server, which likely meant I set the price too high or didn’t advertise enough. Alternatively people on my server just don’t care about it.

I specifically made:

Aquamarine Signets (Sold one)
Diamon Focus Rings (never sold a single one)
Necklace of the Deep w. 2 red gems (sold one for 200g)
Band of Natural Fire (all down to 100g now and still not selling)

There are other options for you (http://kujasgoldmine.blogspot.com/search/label/Jewelcrafting) so perhaps you’ll have more luck than me.
-         I made one of the PvP-items (the agility-necklace) just for the hell of it. It turned out to sell for 550g, so I might try making another one soon.

Alchemy
I was pretty sure I wouldn’t use alchemy for anything else but the transmutes, so I respecced my druid into transmutation mastery and fired up the production of Truegold. Not that the specialization was that necessary, since I haven’t seen a single procc during the entire week.
Truegold is still a money maker on my server, though. With a going rate of 500g each, even when buying the supplies manually it’s possible to make a profit. Even for 200g it’s a very small amount of work required.

Besides that I only used Alchemy for the production of Shadowspirit Diamonds. I consider trying to make some mana potions since herbs have been really cheap this weekend. Will get back to you on that.

Enchantment?...
Well, I said no enchanting, yes. But with one single exception: The agility enchant. I suppose I’ve been lucky in this regard, but if you have it (or the Spellpower enchant) you might seriously consider looking into it. These enchants are old and obtained from aged content, in my case the Enchant Weapon – Agility is gained through grinding rep with the Timbermaw. The thing with this enchant is the fact that it sticks to all items including heirlooms making it popular for classes such as rogues. On my server essence of air isn’t that available on the AH though, so this is pretty much the only grinding I did. Four of these can be farmed from the elementals in north-western Silithus (it might take a bit of time though) and a single scroll sells for around 600g on my server, mostly because we’re like five people posting it on the AH.

I levelled a bunch of blacksmithing for the hell of it and DE’ed the stuff which I then turned into Stam enchants for the boots and shield. This has sold…okay, for around 25g per scroll. TSM has a build in feature that let’s you browse your AH for specific items providing you with a certain type of dust. A thing I’ve noticed is going really well compared to the item-cost is Infinite Dust. Levelling enchanting takes serious amounts of this and the Wrath-greens are often sold cheap for you to DE into expensive dust. But check your server first. On mine a single stack of Infinite goes for around 130-150g whereas I spend around 45g on the greens. That’s good business.

Shopping on da flipside!
I didn’t bother much with reselling stuff. Mostly because my list of data was nowhere near complete. I did, however, wish to test some of the waters before levelling my blacksmithing to its fullest. This is quite the ordeal but I really wondered whether there’d be gold in making ebonsteel belt buckles.
So one night one of those classical morons decided to post around 30 buckles for 60% of the going rate. Needless to say I dug in and bought 10, now waiting for the market to return to its former self. Whether there is profit to be found here remains to be seen.
Once I get a better feel for the prices I might try out my luck with resale.

5 – Cutting your own throat; keeping up business in the other half of the week
Starting the trade was way more easy than maintaining it. Purchase and craft your stuff and throw it on the AH and then the real fun begins. Keeping an eye on your stock. Luckily TSM has made this a whole lot more easy especially if you’re dealing in gems and glyphs.
I quickly learned that some products do indeed sell way more than others. The all time winner for me must’ve been the Glyph of Unleashed Lightning . Other products are pretty much sure to sell eventually, such as Truegold and metagems.

I always tried to keep the supply up. There will be glyphs that never sell and some I kept making over and over, which is great. I made sure to buy as many books of glyph mastery I could afford and did the daily JC-quest to get more recipes. A few times I attempted new venues such as mysterious fortune cards and cocoa beans from the daily cooking. Although both did in fact sell it wasn’t really much of a profit. Still, everything counts, right?

I noticed an increase in sales especially around 18-19 server time and around 23-00. Likely around the raiding hours. A lot of vanity pets and Outland recipes were sold during the weekend.
Not surprisingly I had to do a lot of cancelling and reposting those days since more players were online. Ironically this was the best time ever to craft more glyphs or gems since most of them were undercutting each other so fiercely. As said the prices of herbs dropped significantly meaning cheaper glyphs for greater profit. I recommend not posting all of them immediately since they might also be pressed in price. I still have some blue gems I hope will become valuable again soon.

I’ve been wondering about where to go next. Glyphs and gems might keep business going for some time to come, but eventually looking into other avenues of trading could be profitable. I’ve been working on my DK (as in getting her out of that annoyingly long starting area) and consider running some leatherworking on her. The risk of course being that people on my server don’t really give much crap about low level items. Alternatively I’ll go for some more tailoring on my priest and see whether the Spidersilk items still sell. Or I’d try out the mana potion production.

6 – Enchantment! Taking it to the next level.
I’m very tempted to look deeper into enchanting, but it’d require that I give it some research about what scrolls are currently in demand. Time that I might not have at the given moment. I will therefore have to get back to you on that one. My current plan is to scour the forums for the most valued enchants for all classes and their speccs and concentrate on those. Often there is an optimal and a poor man’s option when it comes to enchants and starting out with the latter could be an idea.

7 – All said and done
The first week of POMNS was truly impressive. Even with the investments and not counting the wares waiting to be sold, I’m approaching the 20.000gold in just one week. Pretty much doing nothing but posting and crafting. It’s very non-involving and far from time consuming. Certainly one would wonder whether I’d achieved the same results had I not been able to repost as much as I did. I suppose this will show itself eventually as I get less and less time for doing so. In some time I’ll be limited to scans purely at dawn and before bed, so I imagine I’ll see some decline.

Until then; let’s see what we can make of Week 2!
Stay tuned!