Warhammer Online Adventure Log: Mid-October

I’ve unpublished those two political rants.  (Or rather, one wild soothsaying and one apologetic Buddhist-like doctrine restatement.)  This simply isn’t the Blog for that, and people probably get enough politics elsewhere what with the presidential election leering at them from every corner of media and their  frazzled psyche.

My Warhammer Online progress has been pretty much as I predicted it would, seesawing across Swordmaster, Archmage, and Shadow Warrior, better feeling out their strengths and weaknesses firsthand as I repeatedly climb the advancement ladder.  Overall impressions of each:

Swordmaster – My current favorite, Swordmasters are both very durable and quite influential.  I think of them in terms of being a kind of controller, dictating the flow of combat and who is fighting who, and this satisfies the inner tactician immensely.

Tanks are really durable in this game, and it’s hugely satisfying when several enemies are unable to overcome my Swordmaster thanks to wearing the best armor, having an excellent shield induced block rating, and using the perfect defense tactic.  This is boosted further by parrying and knocking enemies away.  Altogether, about half the attacks against my rank 18 Swordmaster have a good chance of failing outright.  I’m planning on picking up bolstering enchantments which may help to counteract damage that slips through.

(Nice Swordmaster video courtesy vid88, demonstrating the Swordmaster’s dominance in the front of combat.  Note how most combatants prefer to try to ignore him than face him head on.)

My main regret towards playing a Swordmaster is when I encounter a team which has several tanks (rendering me redundant – though there is something to be said for stacked guards) or has no healing (rendering me limited in the amount of tanking I can do).  Fortunately, given that the class selection for order is 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 DPS classes this is rare.  Besides, unlike many Swordmasters, I remember to guard our healers, you n00bmasters.

Aside from that, I only regret having a relatively mediocre damage output.  Playing enough of a game can make you impatient to progress, and it’s hard to take down foes quickly as a sword and shield specialized Swordmaster.  A Swordmaster specialisted in the path of Kaine and/or wielding a greatsword would probably experience this feeling of futile hacking to a lesser degree.  I may start taking to using my backup greatsword more when I’m feeling impatient.

Archmage – This is undoubtedly my most influential character, as can be witnessed during scenarios summary screens where I’m consistently pulling high damage and healing where most classes are lucky to get one or the other.  A great specialty ability I picked up was Scatter the Winds, which temporarily knocks out half the healing delivered to a foe – a real battle reverser when the foes are leaning heavily on healing support.  Besides, I can resurrect with an Archmage – what greater influence is there than negating all the enemies’ hard work in taking down an ally by simply propping him back up again?

If he’s so influential, why don’t I play my Archmage more often?   Partly because good healers are more amply found than good tanks, and unprotected healers are dead healers.  By playing a good tank who protects his healers, I can through extension be a lot more influential than just playing the healer.  I may also simply be enjoying my Swordmaster more – a purer reason not to play a class I cannot easily imagine.

Shadow Warrior – On paper, I should love this guy – he’s the tactician who assesses the situation and adjusts himself to suit it as needed.  In actuality, the Shadow Warrior is really just a fancy damage dealer.  He deals damage at range, but when forced to close he can do some fairly respectable damage close up too. I prefer my characters a bit more complicated than just focusing entirely on doing damage with a few controls thrown in.

(X4R demonstrates some excellent scout-specialized Shadow Warrior technique, keeping a lot of distance between him and his foes while shooting arrow after arrow in rapid succession.  At one point near the beginning he uses a wagon to break line of sight with an aggressor – a vital tactic to master.)

Shadow Warriors do have an excellent niche in pursuit.  With a combination of Takedown (his ranged snare attack) and skirmish-mode ranged attacks (which continue to build while moving) my Shadow Warrior would be perfect to chase someone down with.  This would be excellent both for chasing pesky flag stealers and stopping people from running with some sort of objective.  However, he’s so flimsy that he could not survive an attack on his own well enough to be an assigned guard to anything alone – a guarding Shadow Warrior would need a Healer or Tank to protect him against so much as a single effective attacker.

When I play one, I think I’m too impatient, I end up up close and personal with some foes too quickly.  I find myself leaning rather heavily on Point Blank and  Whirling Pin to buy time, but turning and running in Warhammer Online is tricky business especially when snares are available to the enemy.  A toe to toe fight with a Tank is a Ranged DPS classes’ worst nightmare, and a Shadow Warrior does little better in Assault mode.

Of course, the lead trouble I have with my Shadow Warrior go back to that “5 DPS, 2 Tank, 3 Healing class” disparity I mentioned earlier.  There’s simply no lack of DPS members in this game.  I would say that a good party could be 1 Tank, 1 Healer, and 4 DPS, but a party without either the Tank or Healer can’t handle hero-level foes.  At least when I play one or the other, I’m always half-way there.  DPS classes are not for those with security issues.

Pleanty of room to experiment

So, what’s my ultimate decision?  I don’t know.  Maybe my little Swordmaster/Shadow Warrior vacation will come to an end and I’ll end up taking my original Archmage to 40 first.  As it is, I’m considering taking them all to 20 and then advancing them evenly, passing off good gear to each other.  Advancement may be relatively slow at 20, but it’s still not original EverQuest bad.

Fortunately, Warhammer Online offers an unusually diverse range of activities that actually grant ranks (levels).  Were this World of Warcraft, there would be the options of Player Versus Envirnment (PvE) and PvE questing for experience points, with Warzones and Player versus Player (PvP) in general not granting experience.   Warhammer Online offers PvE, PvE questing, a new flavor of PvE questing in Public Quests, Realm versus Realm, and Scenarios that all grant experience.

Thus, it’s possible to take three characters of the same race up through completely separate channels in Warhammer Online.  However, I’m under the opinion that the most lucrative, both in terms of experience points and fun, is to diversify.   Perform PvE questing with a side of Public quests with a diversion of scenarios and occasional participation in realm versus realm.  Leaning too heavily on any one activity gets monotonous quickly.

Currently, realm versus realm is not terribly lucrative.  Mythic’s recent adjustment to make defending in realm versus realm more rewarding actually made this problem worse because a lead reason why RvR is so difficult was because the Keep Lords (hugely difficult NPCs to defeat) require a full warband to tackle and it only takes a small handful of enemy players to foil any attempts to do so.  Consequently, you need two full warbands to take down a player defended keep lord: one to handle the keep lord, the second just to screen for enemy players and keep reinforcement routes clear.

Good luck finding that many interested players in any particular tier on my server.  One of the reasons I’ve never liked open PvP is it’s often a question of mustering players – the influence of the individual skill of a player is next to nothing compared to how many cats have decided they’re willing to be herded today.   I’ve already mentioned my beefs about popularity, and how there’s not necessarily any merit to its achievement, and here is an accidental bit of collaborating evidence.

At least there’s still scenarios.  While you could whine and bitch about how some teams may be stacked due to random composition (“Dude, where’s my healer”) or other imbalances (“why is my team made up of such idiots and the other team is made up of registered grandmasters of this map”), the important thing to me is that the numbers are relatively even: 12 on 12.  Sometimes you’ll end up a few members short because people with inferiority complexes quit immediately into the map, but the actual ratio of satisfying combat is much higher.

Non-Warhammerly Pursuits

Playing it as hard as I have lately, I’m starting to get bored of Warhammer Online again.  I anticipate another round of BYOND development to begin soon.

I’ve been dabbling with a bit of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and in general the game is good – very Sonic X RPG in execution with some nice Elite: Beat Agent touches to the combat just as I was anticipating – but the ridiculous sound effects really undermine the whole thing.  Seriously, these are the kind of sound effects I’d expect from a bad public access channel commercial, not a Bioware game.  It’s like the person who did the sound effects couldn’t figure out how a Sonic the Hedgehog world would sound like, so they took this lackluster cartoony stab at the dark that doesn’t satisfy anyone.  At least the visual artistic direction is top notch – this might be a game that plays better with the volume off.

As Penny Arcade was pointing out lately, a lot of really good games drop soon.  I probably won’t play Dead Space on account of how I’m not a real fan of being scared for kicks.  Fallout 3, however, looms just half a month away and I’m just as excited about it as I was BioShock or (more appropriately) Elder Scrolls VI.

Warhammer Online Bottom Line

A few things I wanted to bring up.  Combined, they make up the core of the Warhammer Online experience.  I learned these through extensively playing not only my Archmage but also my Swordmaster alt.

1. A quick and fun method to leveling up in Warhammer Online

2. A final word on class niches.

Continue reading

Warhammer Online PVP Survival Guide

I’m done venting about my Internet pet peeves (for the time being) and am noticing that the most popular entry thus far is clearly my Warhammer Online Survival Guide.  Why not?  Hot new game off the presses, everybody’s picking up the ropes, so perhaps I aught to bend some of that game playing expertise of mine towards tips that may assist in mastering the PvP.

Primarily, I play a combination healer/nuker – an Archmage.   It’s an interesting role because I’m basically at the center of offense and defense of a team.  I think I picked up some pretty good insight as to how things work in Warhammer Online PvP, as opposed to the dozens of MMORPGs I’ve played before.

Know Your Role…

The best way to succeed in Warhammer Online PvP is in recognizing you’re not going this alone.  You have an important role to play alongside your fellow players, and your ability to perform this role well will determine your success or failure in the game.

Your roles have changed.  To its credit, Warhammer Online tries to make this easy by slapping on the labels we know so well: Tank, Healer, Ranged DPS, Melee DPS.  But it changes what you do to play those roles well.  That’s the major focus of this guide.  (Hey, if we know how to play the game from the start, that would be boring, right?)

1. Healers

There’s essentially three kinds of healers in Warhammer Online.  It is here where the mirrors are best preserved, and you can see how they differ in execution based off of type of healer.

Melee Healers: Warrior Priest (Order)  and Disciple of Kaine (Destruction)

These enhance their healing effectiveness by fighting up close and personal.  They have access to a goodly amount of melee attacks, few ranged attacks, and armor mitigation just a step below the Tanks.  They’re not as durable as tank, but they’re closer to it than any other healer.  Consequently, they tend to operate at close range.

Support Healers: Rune Priest (Order) and Zealot (Destruction)

These are pretty traditional healers in that they heal, have some nukes, and throw buffs/debuffs.  Rather than have a specialty that enhances their spells, their buffs/debuffs allow them to shift the odds.  They’ve a smattering of melee attacks, ranged attacks, and medium armor.  They’re more durable than Nuker Healers, but not as durable as Melee Healers.  Consequently, they can operate fairly comfortably at medium range.

Nuker Healers: Archmage (Order) and Goblin Shaman (Destruction)

These are for fellows like me who want the power of a flimsy cloth mage but can’t seem to make up their mind on if they’d rather be nuking or healing.  Even though their primary function is healing, they can do enough ranged damage (mostly damage over time spells) to make a difference, and their specialty rewards them for doing both.  They have no melee attacks and the lightest armor.  Consequently, they operate most comfortably at long range.

The Healer’s Role

In short (greatly one-sided) skirmishes, healing may not be necessary, because everybody regenerates health rapidly between fights.  The Healers really shine during longer (more even) fights, where damage can add up and needs to be counteracted.  In these fights, the difference between the team with and without a healer is incredible.

By all means, heal (and resurrect – I know a lot of my fellow healers are bad at that. ) After all, it’s your primary function… but don’t only heal.  If all you’re doing is healing, you’re doing a very poor job. Yes, I know that (thanks to the balance in many other MMORPGs) you may have been ridden by pushy tanks in the past to just keep spamming those heals.  However, Warhammer Online gives you a valid excuse not to because it’s balanced in such a way that your secondary function is required to support your heals.

How?  I broke down the healers into their subclasses because the execution of this is quite different:

  • For melee healers, getting shoulder to shoulder with your tanks and participating in melee combat provides the necessary fuel to cast the spells that keep everyone near you alive.
  • For Support Healers, you’ll not need to heal as much if you make sure all the applicable buffs/debuffs are in place, and throwing a bit of nuke in there when no healing needs doing is only efficient.
  • For Nuker Healers, that Nuke/Heal seesaw specialty means that you need to be nuking as well as healing, even if it’s only 1 per every 5 of the other, for optimum efficiency.

A healer is especially effective when paired with a tank, so stick with one and keep them healed.  If you’re lucky, they’ll keep you alive as well via their Guard ability.  If not, well, at least your heals are well spent on a fellow whose mitigation is that good – try not to get attacked by too many enemies if you’re being that poorly screened.

The Healers’ Crux

By default, healers are the first people who need to die.  If the enemy team was smart, you’re going down.  Healers are persistent targets in that a solo Tank or Healer is not going to be able to inflict enough damage to take them down, and even a specialized DPS class will find them tricky.  However, by focusing fire on the healers and defeating them, victory becomes possible: only then is damage inflicted to the enemy permanent, and the battle can then be quickly concluded in your favor.

However, if the defending team is smart, they’ll change the default.  They realize that the enemy team will know the healers need to die first, and so they’ll use many means to help the healer survive.  As I’m about to explain, the Tanks play a large role in this.  However, the DPS and other Healers can also contribute greatly to assuring the survival of the Healer.  A healer can help do this by making their defeat extremely difficult, by using the terrain and range to make them difficult to engage or by dragging out their defeat to where the enemy should not tread.   However, do not neglect healing if the diversion is not worth it.

2. Tanks

With the elimination of the Knights of the Blazing Sun and Blackguards, there’s not as many types of tanks as there are healers in Warhammer Online, and the mirrors don’t hold together as well.

Going through them quickly, the Swordmaster counters the Black Orc in using a variety of combos to bolster their offense and defense, the Chosen is essentially a mutating and debuffing tank, while the Ironbreaker builds up grudge points that make enemies regret attacking the target they are protecting.

The Tank’s Role

In PvE, the Tank’s role would seem to be the same as any other MMORPG: constantly taunt, keep those NPCs on you while the healers keep you vertical.  Warhammer Online changed the Tank’s function a bit, and this has some major ramifications in PvP.

First, there’s a minor balance adjustment to consider in that Tanks can do some pretty decent damage – all classes in WO:AR can, really, though DPS classes naturally can do more.

What this means in PvP terms is that you can now be a genuine threat, at least against a target that is not receiving additional protection.  It also means that it is here where the Tank gets their own if you’re only doing one thing you’re not doing your best argument.  As a Tank, you’ve got decent damage and probably other offensive secondary affects.  So don’t just be a meatshield, use them!

Second, there’s a major function adjustment in that Tanks have a number of powerful guarding moves you won’t see in most MMORPGs.  Mastery of these moves is a vital part of success as a Tank in WO:AR.  All four Tanks – the Black Orc, Chosen, Swordmaster, and Ironbreaker – get these moves.

  • The first is “Guard” and this moves half (50%) of all damage inflicted on that target to the Tank.  The Tank has a whole lot more hitpoints and better damage mitigation, so taking half of a weaker classes’ damage comes out as an incredible bargain.
  • The second is “Challenge” which is a taunt-like ability that affects all foes in a 30 foot cone in front of you.  This can take another 30% of damage off targets you are protecting.

I would not use Challenge instead of Guard because it’s not much compared to it, but combined it adds up to 80%.  Also, unlike Guard, Challenge’s damage is not applied to you so it’s essentially a 30% “Tank Heal” every time your challenge goes unheeded.  Consider that you could not find armor or a spell that would reduce damage by 80%, yet using Guard and Challenge alone give 80% worth of protection to even a cloth-wearing ally.  If you’re not using these abilities, you’re throwing away what might be the most influential abilities in the game.

These are not the only two means you have to protect your allies.  Check abilities, tactics, and morale list for a wide range of class-specific means to make the enemies lives hell if they fail to acknowledge your role as a tank.

A Tank’s Role From A Healer’s Perspective

As a healer, I know that there’s a general misconception that healers like me are the ones who decide who lives or dies based off of who gets healing or not.  I apply my heals over time as much as I can, but emergency heals are generally rare or slow.  What I need to do my job is time to heal.

Whose role is it to mitigate the rate in which damage is taken long enough that I can keep them alive?  The Tanks: they wear the best armor and have abilities which allow them to mitigate damage for others.  That’s why I say that tanks are the ones who decide who lives or dies.

Because so many Tanks do not seem to understand this, it is my belief that for now and many months ahead, success or failure in Warhammer Onlne PvP will be based on how many Tanks know how to use Guard or Guard-like abilities effectively.

The Tank’s Crux

The other two types of classes detailed in this guide have a crux that they’re priority targets trying to avoid attention while remaining effective.  As a tank, your crux is the opposite along one extreme: while you’re still trying to be effective, part of that effectiveness is in forcing the enemy to pay attention to you.  When the enemy is hitting you, and not the Healer who is healing you, the DPS specialist who is killing them, or even the other Tank they’re trying to focus on, then (in most situations) your team is winning.

That said, there’s much more to being a Tank than just taking damage, and it involves being able to think on your feet.  A good tank is able to take and deal damage better than the average player.  However, a master tank takes and deals damage with a purpose in mind.   What this means is that you need to learn how to recognize the situation you’re in and calculate if your sacrifice is worth it, as opposed to just being a pointless respawn.

3. Damage Over Time: Ranged or Melee

You know, I’m just going to lump you guys together.  Witch Hunter, Witch Elf, White Lion, Marauder, Bright Wizard, Sorceress, Engineer, Magus, Shadow Warrior, Squig Herder.  You’re all “DPS”, and I’ll drop the “Ranged” or “Melee” between you so long as you understand that you’re built to operate a short range (e.g. Marauder, White Lion) medium range (e.g. Witch Hunter, Witch Elf) long range (e.g. Bright Wizard, Sorcerer) or even variable ranges (e.g. Shadow Warrior).

I know this is doing a disservice to secondary roles of these classes.  However, generally speaking, whatever you’re playing your main role is to do damage, and that hasn’t changed much from most MMORPGs.   What has changed, however, may be the importance of doing damage.  Consider how prevalent mitigation and healing is in Warhammer Online, and understand that as a DPS class, you’re one of the few who has the power to overcome this.

The DPS Classes’ Role

Lets be clear: the DPS classes role is equally important to a Tank and a Healer.  If you have no Healers or Tanks, your defensive line is undermined by a critical weakness.  Yet, if you have two teams built up entirely of Tanks and Healers, nothing gets done, and you’ll probably be in a perpetual stalemate.  In this way, a holy trinity is well in tact in Warhammer Online.

To play a DPS class acceptably, you need to be organized: loose cannons accomplish little.  Focus fire on specific designated targets.  If the designated target is proving too difficult to kill (perhaps because the Tanks and Healers are doing their job right) then rapidly shift en masse to another target.  Kill em’ quick, don’t give the enemy enough time to react.

To play a DPS class well, you need to also use your secondary functions.  Like the Tank who only guards or attacks, or the Healer who only heals (or nukes), if you’re only doing one thing, you’re not doing your best.  Not coincidentally, DPS classes are also the ones that tend to get potent effects like snares and roots, and applying these to the right place at the right time can make a massive difference.

The DPS-class Crux

As I’ve tried to make clear, you DPS guys are the deciders.  You make things happen.  Consequently, you’re next on the target list, right after the healers, to die.  Sorry, that’s the breaks, you can’t be an effective DPS player without being a juicy target.  DPS classes are even less durable than either Tank or Healers because the first is by definition durable and the second has the persistence of heals.

So, much like a healer, you and your team should make prioritizing you a costly choice.  When you’re injured (or about to be) healers should be healing you.  When you’re under fire, tanks should be guarding you.  If you’re not getting enough of either, try making taking you down costly – make the enemy chase you to where they shouldn’t be or simply buy as much time as you can.  If you have enough of a lead and the enemy is smart, they’ll break off.  Otherwise, while half the enemy team is foolishly chasing you down, your allies may well be securing victory.

The trick to playing a DPS-class is to be clever in your damage doing.  Don’t boldly run up to the front of your team and start hitting things: you’ll come under fire by too many enemies at the same time, and dead characters do 0 DPS (at least once their DoT effects wear off).  Back off and choose your targets, and put your damage where it’s needed the most.  Focusing fire on what everybody else is hitting is likely to generate a successful kill, but keep an eye out for ideal targets of opportunity, such as Healers or enemy DPS who you can estimate won’t survive a sudden onslaught.

Conclusion: Work well with what you have but, above all, work together!

The Shadow Warrior is spun as generally the tactician who decides where and when to land his abilities most effectively.  Really, that’s what all well-played classes do.  Learn how to exploit each of your abilities well, and you’ll find your influence in battle increased several-fold.

As I said at the beginning of this, each class has a strength and weakness.  Hopefully, it’s a little clearer now just what those weaknesses and strengths are, and how you can apply them well.  How you overcome this is to work with others.  If you play it alone, you’ll find your strengths aren’t strong enough and your weaknesses overbearing.

I titled this as “Warhammer Online PVP Survival Guide” because this is the core truth behind all the PvP in the game.  Whether it’s Scenario or Realm versus Realm, the team that wins will always have a combination of two things: the most players who know how to use their individual abilities most effectively, and the most players who know how to work together.  Keep that in mind, and you’ll go far in Warhammer Online PVP.

Warhammer Online Survival Guide

About to play a bit of Warhammer Online and want to know how to get good and established in this game?  Here’s the master plan of somebody who sampled it a bit in open beta.

1. Classes in Warhammer Online

Choosing your class

I’m a notorious Alt-A-Holic myself – somebody who has a difficult time settling on one class – but I’ve found the classes in Warhammer Online remarkably easy to deal with.

Whether you chose Order or Destruction, you’ll find the classes sorted between the following categories: Tank, Healer, Melee DPS (Damage per Second), or Ranged DPS.  These labels are basically the role you’ll play in the group, but not the entire capability of the class.

Once you’ve chosen a role, it’s a matter of flavor.  Most races will have a class that matches that role, and you should be able to arrive at a choice by considering one or both of two things: the unique mechanic and the feel.

Each class has a unique mechanic.  For example, the Archmage will gain Tranquility from nuking and Force from healing that converts to more potency whenever he switches from nuking to healing or the other way around.  Feel out the different mechanics within your choice of role (e.g. Melee DPS) to determine which you prefer the most.

Each class also has a unique feel and backdrop to them.  If you can’t decide on a class whose role and unique mechanic you like, try to instead go for the feel of the class that appeals to you the most.   You will probably find it easier to enjoy playing that class if it’s compatible with your mindset than trying to find one that plays perfectly.

For more details on the individual classes, there are very detailed writeups on them on the official Warhammer Online website, here: http://www.warhammeronline.com/armiesofWAR/index.php

Your core abilities are not there from the start

A tank without a means to taunt, a healer without effective emergency heals, and damage-focused class with relatively average damage capacity.

What do these all have in common?  Answer: They’re the default state of classes in Warhammer Online.

What this means to you is that you should not let your early experiences with a class cause you to believe them ineffectual.  You probably won’t have a really good idea of your strengths until at least rank 7, and maybe as late as rank 15.

Choosing your server and side

Note that if you join a popular faction (Order or Destruction) on a popular server, you may be confronted with a login queue.  The overall cap of players allowed to log into that server is restricted by faction, so (for example) even if Destruction players must wait in the queue you will still be able to log on as a member of Order so long as Order has not reached the cap for that server.  The best tactic to avoid being stuck in a queue is to play the less popular faction on a less busy server.

2. Gaining Levels Ranks and Equipment

If you’ve played other MMORPGs, chances are you’ve learned to earn experience points from two different sources: Killing monsters and performing quests.  Warhammer Online introduces additional methods of mechanics that allow you to both reduce the tedium of grinding through diversification and ease yourself into new methods of play.

The old-fashioned mechanics: Quests and Killing

There are indeed quest NPCs that, stereotypically, will have icons floating above their heads that reflect your stage of quest.  Go ahead, pick up those quests and perform them: This is not only good from a lore-accruing perspective, but also the bonus experience and gold is superior to just going out and killing everything.

If you get confused about how to perform quests, there are a few handy tools available:

First, you can open up your map (M key by default) and you will see shaded red areas that reflect areas of your map in which your current quests take place.  These areas will be approximations – the challenge of finding exactly where the quest goal is located is up to you.  Temporarily hiding quests or moving your mouse pointer over those areas may help to understand which area is associated with which quest.

Second, you will find additional tips about how to perform your quest in your journal – just double click your quest in the quest tracker on the right side of your screen to pull up the pertinent journal entry.  Alternatively, you can just thumb to the quest section of your journal and find the quest there.

Generally speaking, your earliest adventures will involve quests like these, and you will find following those quests to lead to a linear advancement through the map.  Love or hate linearity, it makes it hard to get lost.

Public Quests

A new innovation of Warhammer Online are “public quests,” which are areas of the map in which all players can cooperate to advance to later stages of the public quest.  If you are in an area with a public quest, you will see in the upper right a public quest tracker with the current goal.

In addition to the typical experience and drops related to kills, participating in Public Quests grants two rewards:

First, there are influence points – these are accrued for participating in Public Quests and can be traded in for bonus equipment at NPCs you will find along your linear advancement path.

Second, there are loot bags. Once the last (usually the third) stage of a public quest is complete, a random roll is performed in which the top participants of that public quest are rolled against (along with a bonus for level of contribution).  If you score high enough, you can take a loot bag out of the special chest for that Public Quest.

This chest has a large, glittering aura and is hard to miss.  It will typically be near where the boss mob spawned, and it may also be visible as a chest icon on the map.   Once acquired from the chest, right click on these loot bags to take out a powerful item of your choice.

Player versus Player Advancement

In stark contrast to most games, you can actually advance your character’s experience points and loot by participating in Player versus Player combat in Warhammer Online.  In fact, the rewards can be quite lucrative.

Scenario PvP can be participated in by using the scenario button on the upper left of your mini-map.  Click on that button to place yourself into a scenario queue.  When the scenario is ready, you will be asked if you wish to join it, and agreeing will temporarily teleport you to an organized PvP match.

Participating in organized PvP matches reward you experience and “renown” points which advance your “renown” ranks.   With adequate renown ranks, you can purchase prestige gear off of the prestige gear merchants.  This is greatly superior to standard PvE gear.

It’s a good idea to pick up the supporting quests for the PvP matches.  You should be able to find NPCs which reward for participating in these scenarios, and those quests are repeatable for more coin and experience.  Further, you may be able to find an NPC who rewards you for defeating a number of players – players killed in scenarios count, and these quests too are repeatable.   Doing these supporting quests in conjunction with scenario PvP is a great way to bolster your experience gain.

Realm versus Realm PvP is significantly trickier, but carries greater rewards.  You will notice that parts of the map are designated Realm versus Realm areas and have keeps that can be captured.   Like in the scenarios, defeating players in realm versus realm rewards renown.  Further, capturing a keep may result in getting a formidable loot bag not unlike those found in Public Quest areas.

If you look in the upper right, you may notice a gauge that shows the current standings of Order versus Destruction based off comparative victory points earned through the RvR activities of the factions.  Having the gauge in your favor rewards many benefits which can be viewed by holding the mouse over the gauge.  If enough keeps are held by a single side, even capital cities may come under siege.

In these ways and others, it’s advisable to contribute to the war effort when you feel ready.  The end game heavily revolves around Realm versus Realm combat, so it’s a good idea to get used to that as soon as possible.  Besides, the quickest way to advance is when using powerful renown gear, and that can only be gained if you are willing to engage in PvP.

Whether it’s scenario PvP or realm versus realm, succeeding in PvP is often a matter of cooperating with your fellow players, using your own strengths to compensate for their weaknesses as they do the same for you.  Being a loose cannon is unlikely to produce good results (unless perhaps you’re very good).

Diversify the grind

It’s a good idea to diversify between all means of gaining experience in Warhammer Online.  It may be your quest areas are currently over hunted, so try the more populated Public Quest areas.  It may be that PvE is simply not very lucrative due to over hunting or some other reason, so put yourself in the queue for scenario PvP to boost your gains.  At the very least, diversifying your activities is bound to make the grind feel less like one.

3. Trade Skills

By about the point you reach your level 3-5 quests, you will begin to encounter trainers who will offer to train you in trade skills.  At the time of this writing, I’m aware of only a few trade skills and gathering skills.  You are allowed to take one trade and one gathering skill.

Once you have purchase a trade skill (and certain gathering skills) you may need to take it from your abilities screen (see the trade/gathering skills tab) and drag it to your hotbar to use it.

The two main Trade Skills I’m aware of are Apothecary and Talisman creation.

Apothecary is a trade skill in which potions are produced.  The same NPC who trains you will also have a shop that sells apothecary components, and you will also come across quite a few in your travels (especially with a gathering skill).   Considering the potency of gathered resources, the auction house is probably the best place to check for the highest quality resources to use.

To create a potion, first bring up the apothecary screen.  Then, drag the appropriate type of potion bottle (purchased) to the container slot (white).  Now, drag the main ingredient to the slot below it – the main ingredient determines the type of potion it will be, e.g. Restorative or Energy.  By default, your potion will fail, but if you put some water in the slot below, you will be able to boost your odds to be successful.  Other components improve variety of effects and duration of effects.

Other types of potions can be created besides effect potions, and these will require different types of containers.  Experiment to find the appropriate kind of resource to create those potions and see if you find them useful.

You can repeat potion creation by using stacks of components instead of just a single one of each.  Though it will only appear as a single item in the potion creation window, you will be presented with a repeat button after potion creation.  Note that if your formula fails the first time, it will continue to fail, at least until your skill or component used improve.  In other words, it is not random at all.

Talisman creation uses the same principles but a different interface.  Put the appropriate parts on the appropriate parts of the GUI, and attempt to assemble a talisman.  Unlike potions, not all parts can be purchased off the merchants, but may be found through gathering or from other players.

Where potions are imbibed for a temporary benefit, talismans are slotted in worn gear for added potency.  Nearly every piece of gear in Warhammer Online has at least one slot for a talisman, and talismans cannot be removed once slotted (though I’ve read they can be swapped).  Because so many players are running about with empty talisman slots, this trade could potentially be quite profitable if you can overcome the rarity in materials.

4. Gathering Skills

Gathering skills are used to produce additional items that can be used in trade skills and can be sold.  At the time of this writing, complete gathering skills include Cultivation, Magical Salvaging, Scavenging, and Butchering.

Cultivation is the most interactive of the gathering skills.  You will find many seeds throughout your travels.  By bringing up the cultivation screen (by clicking on its icon you have dragged to your hot bar from the abilities screen) you are able to eventually raise up to four seeds at a time into plants.  Typically, these plants are used for apothecary purposes.

Cultivation is fairly simple, but demands patience and a memory for when the right time to treat your plant is.  After you have planted the seed (upper left slot on the cultivation window) you will have a certain amount of time to add the soil.  Then, you may add the water.  In the final stage, you may add some additional fertilizer (usually gore).  Finally, the plant is ready to harvest, and you can begin anew again.

Adding soil, water, or fertilizer to your plant is not always necessary.  Doing so is primarily good for accelerating the growth process, but probably also improves the probability of success.  My experience has been that “critical failures” (resulting in a low value weed) and “critical successes” (resulting in bonus reagents) are relatively rare regardless of if you use additives or not.

Though cultivation is not too profitable (especially if you are adding nutrients) it can be used to generate some additional income because some plants (such as parsley) often produce their own replacement seeds.  Thus, if you remember to continue planting, you’ll constantly build up piles of plants that can be sold for a little extra coin.

Magical Salvaging involves breaking down magical gear into components.  Magical gear has a name that is a different color than the usual white or gray – e.g. green, blue, purple.  There is a random chance to recover magical essences this way.  (Note that some magical essences can also be found for sale on merchants.)

Scavenging is, in my opinion, the most profitable of the gathering skills mentioned here.  If you have the scavenging skill, you will notice that looted corpses of sentient (pocket-possessing) creatures will have flies buzzing around them and putting your mouse over them will create a forceps pointer.    At that point, you may click to find additional things on that body.

What you find through scavenging may be useful for trade skills or simply gross, but it will always have one thing in common: it can be sold to merchants for additional coin.  There’s currently no controls over who scavenges what.  If you want the scavenge off your foes’ corpses, be sure to not loot them until you are ready, because any player can scavenge from that corpse once looted.

Butchering works identically to scavenging, but it applies to non-sentient creatures.  Because Warhammer Online takes place in an age of perpetual war, you will more typically find yourself up against sentient foes.  Nonetheless, it may be worth it to some to take butchering for the unique materials it produces.


That’s pretty much all you need to know to get started in Warhammer Online.  If you get lost, use the question mark icon near the top right of your screen to pull up the in-game help.  You can also spam your fellow players by typing /1 along with your message to chat up every player in your current zone, but go easy on that or else you might annoy others.

For more detailed information, a good community resource is the Warhammer Online Wikia page at http://warhammeronline.wikia.com/wiki/HammerWiki as well as the official references at http://www.warhammeronline.com