Category Archives: Uncategorized

Legion Marksmanship Hunter – Doing Poor Well

Despite always feeling that, “this time I am leaving WoW for good,” I find myself subbed again and getting ready for Legion.  What brought me back?  I still have a larger group of online friends in WoW than any other game.  That, and I wanted to see what was going on with all of these Hunter changes!

Well, not quite all.  Never been a big fan of BM, although I have played it from time to time when the situation called for it (like all of TBC and the first few months of Wrath).  Other than those dark days, I have mostly trended towards MM and Survival.  Survival has had its moments of greatness (Wrath trap-dancing, come on!), but MM usually was the better option from a pure kill-the-thing quickly perspective.

With that history, I did a little reading up on the current state of the specs and decided that I would try out MM and Surv in the Broken Shores scenario and Legion invasions and try to figure out which spec suited me for Legion.  My plan for Legion was questing, dungeons, and maybe some light raiding, so I don’t need to be the greatest DPS  of all time.  That being said, I like seeing my name at or near the top of the Recount list, because I am a bit of a narcissist.  So, I went to Icy Veins, figured out the ideal DPS setups and went out to test them in the real virtual world.

After some hiccups, I decided that I loved the feel of Survival and its new, rather complex rotation.  It had some nice synergies and big numbers.  After a little while, I even started getting use to being in melee range.  The one thing, however, that I could not get past was that Disengage was gone.  In its place was Harpoon, a 30 sec. CD ability that pulls you to your target.  On paper, this sounds like a great idea, since you need to be on your target to be doing damage now.  In practice, not having Disengage frankly sucks.

Back in the day, I went to the Frostheim school of Jump-Disengage.  It provides amazing mobility, particularly when you can use it out of combat.  On top of that, the Posthaste talent gives you +60% move speed for 8 seconds after disengaging.  People are complaining about the change to Aspect of the Cheetah (short speed boost on a 3 minute CD), but Disengage+Posthaste makes Aspect of the Cheetah almost irrelevant.  Moreover, it always brought me great joy flinging myself all over the place, even when completely unnecessary or somewhat annoying to others in the group.  By contrast, Harpoon only works in combat, and the speed boost of Posthaste seems very situational.

So, the lack of Disengage ruined Survival for me, and I turned to MM instead.  Actually, I turned to MM earlier, but I didn’t like it.  The optimal DPS setup of Sidewinders (replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot, has a cooldown, but applies Vulnerable) plus Patient Sniper (Vulnerable debuff does not stack, is much shorter, and Marked Shot and Aimed Shot do quite a bit more damage) almost roots you in place for several Aimed Shots and can be quite boring.

Realizing this might get a little technical for non-MM people out there, the core of the spec revolves around applying and utilizing,  eh, screw it.  Just read the first two paragraphs of what Wowhead says here, and you will get the gist.  Okay then, the optimal DPS build replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot and changes around the stacking nature of Vulnerable to make it more powerful and of shorter duration.  That basically reduces the rotation for MM to Barrage (when available)>Sidewinders>Marked Shot>Aimed Shot*2.  There is a little nuance, but I said “basically.”  I dislike.

After abandoning Survival, I tried MM again.  Still, ick!  So, I played around and came up with what is likely to be a sub-optimal build, but I like it.  Hopefully, I will not get laughed at too much.  There also is not a ton of guidance out there on MM builds that do not use Sidewinders/Patient Sniper.  So here it is, my help to getting your MM Hunter to the middle (or bottom) of the pack.

This is my talent setup:

MM Build

And here is a link to my Non-Optimal Marksman Talent Build.  I am only going to talk about a few talents and then focus on the spastic, movement-friendly rotation.

First, is Lone Wolf.  The other talents kind of suck, but I do like my pocket tank, I mean pet.  When questing, I will probably take Steady Focus and keep my pet with me.  When I have a tank, all signs point to Lone Wolf being head-and-shoulders better than the other talents.  Alternatively, Black Arrow, with its taunting shadow fiend, is a decent choice for questing if you really hate pets but want something to keep the hate off you.

The meat (or lack thereof) in this build is Sentinel and Piercing Shot.  These are, in no way, a DPS increase over the other, preferred talents.  They do, however, allow you to apply Vulnerable in a less stressful, easier to manage way, and deliver a huge amount of damage every 30 seconds with Piercing Shot.

Here is the general idea of the rotation for a single target.  For multiples, just replace Arcane Shot with Multi Shot:

  1. Fire Piercing Shot on CD, when your Focus is 100+.  The damage scales from a lot to a whole bunch depending on how much Focus you have, so you may want to Arcane Shot your focus up if it is about to come off CD.  It is also a great Misdirect opener!
  2. Next, fire Barrage.  If you just used Piercing Shots, you will likely need to weave in an Arcane Shot to build focus.  Also, neither Piercing Shots nor Barrage benefit from Vulnerable, so fire these firsts.
  3. Next, get your three stacks of Vulnerable up on the main target.  You can do this either through natural procs of Marking Targets, or force the situation with your two charges of Sentinel.  Between those two charges and natural procs, you should be up to 3 stacks in no time.
  4. Any time Marking Targets comes up, fire Arcane Shot to trigger Hunter’s Mark, then fire Marked Shot.
  5. When Marking Targets is not up and your other shots are on CD, fire Aimed Shot to dump focus and Arcane Shot to build it up.

You also have Lock and Load procs (2 free, instant cast Aimed Shots) to account for.  Aimed Shot does less damage than Marked Shot, so in the priority list, I would place these free shots below Piercing Shot, Barrage, and Marked Shot, but above an Arcane Shot with Marking Targets (or any other Arcane Shot).  If Piercing Shot is coming off CD, however, I might go with the Aimed Shot proc to build some focus over Barrage or Marked.  In addition, if I have less than three stacks of Vulnerable and the ability to apply more (Sentinel, Marked Shot, or a Marking Targets buff), I would get the stacks up first.  I have nothing to back either of these point up other than general feel.

The only other major issue to account for is your DPS cooldown, Trueshot.  Trueshot makes every Arcane/Multi Shot apply Hunter’s Mark, meaning you can sit there and fire Arcane Shot>Marked Shot repeatedly during the life of the buff.  This is a great way to reach three stacks of Vulnerable without using Sentinel, which can then be saved for times when you want to get off another Marked Shot.  In addition, Trueshot increases haste, lowering the cast time of Aimed Shot.  I’m still not sure whether a long burst of Arcane Shot>Marked Shot beats using hasted Aimed Shot.

Since this build does not use Sidewinders, Arcane Shot is always available for focus regen and applying Hunter’s Mark.  Along with Sentinel, in my limited experience, you will be using Marked Shot in this build much more than in the optimal build.  Piercing Shot also gives you another massive damage dealer on a medium cooldown.  The combined result is less of a reliance up Aimed Shot than the optimal build, which means more mobility.  In addition, no CD on Arcane Shot means small mistakes (like firing off both charges of Sidewinders right before Marking Targets procs) shouldn’t hurt as bad.

More important that all of that is that I like this build better than others and see myself enjoying it.  I hope that it is somewhat competitive with the optimal build, so that I am not gimping myself or my group when rolling it.  It is tough to sit at a dummy and compare different MM builds because it is very RNG dependent.  In my limited testing, however, this build did appear to come in only about 5% lower than optimal.

Good luck with whatever you choose!

 

Twenty-Nine Classes and Counting

Happy New Year to my ten readers out there.  Marvel Heroes has been eating up a ton of my time lately, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing in the near future.  I have been playing fairly consistently for the past seven months, with my activity waning substantially around the launch of FFXIV.  I am back to almost exclusively playing Marvel Heroes, and there are a lot of things that I am digging about the game.

Chief among the features that are compelling me to play more is the strong encouragement the game gives you to play alts, and the vast number of choices that you have.  Now, this “encouragement” is likely also meant to get you to spend money on the game.  Characters can be purchased or earned in game.  Additional storage space and costumes must be purchased. The more alts people play, the more money they are likely to have spent or to spend in the future.  Despite this, however, these systems that compel me to play alts end up increasing my enjoyment of the game because there is such a variety to the gameplay of each character.  There are 29 different characters, and each represents a different class.  That means that, as of today, Marvel Heroes has 29 different classes.  A year from now, it will have at least twelve more – a staggering 41 or more classes.

Although there are many different characters and classes, there is naturally a bit of overlap between them.  This post is my brief perspective on the classes I have played to some extent.  I plan to make additional, more detailed posts going into each character’s playstyle.  We’ll see if that actually happens.

Why Alt?

So, how does Marvel Heroes encourage you to play alts?  First, for each character that reaches level 25, you gain a synergy that all heroes can use.  You gain a second synergy bonus for reaching level 50 with a hero.  These “synergies” are slight bonuses to a hero’s stats that are thematically consistent with the hero you have leveled, such as brutal strike rating for Wolverine or projectile deflection for Captain America. These are great bonuses and add a level of customization (each character can only have a max of 10 synergies active), but alone are not a huge motivation for me.  Given the current state of the game, they are not going to make or break your character.

More important for me are Legendary Quests. Recently added to the game, these quests are randomly selected, appropriate for your level, and send you to various places in the game world to complete their objectives. The rewards are a large amount of experience and Odin Marks, a currency that you use to buy new Legendary Items that give you a huge boost to some stats.  The Legendary Items also can be leveled through experience gains, so they give you more motivation to play a max level character.  In short, I want.

Legendary Quests lately have been the order of the day for me. The rub here is that the first Legendary Quest you complete for each character per day awards you an extra Odin Mark, and you can’t access Legendary Quests until level 20. That means the more characters you have at level 20 or higher, the faster you will accumulate Odin Marks and get your Legendary Item.

Finally, I have a bunch of Relics taking up space in my bank.  Relics are stackable items that increase health and one secondary stat, with each type of Relic affecting a different stat.  Relics are only usable by a character at or above level 20.  See a pattern?

Because of these factors, in the last several weeks, I have gone from having one high-level character, one mid-level alt, and a bunch of characters under level 10 to having five characters at least level 30, and one more on his way.  As such, I am starting to get a better feel for several characters, how they are similar, and how they are different.  Lets take a look at them.

Disclaimers and Stuff

First, there are some characters who excel at crowd control (Storm, Scarlet Witch), others who are excellent bruisers/tanks (Colossus, Hulk, Luke Cage), others who are pet-based classes (Emma Frost, Luke Cage), and still others who are AOE farming powerhouses (Jean Grey, Human Torch).  I have not invested a substantial amount of time in any of these characters, so I can’t say much about them and they are not part of this post.  I do have characters that fall into each of these categories, so maybe at some point, I will do a follow-up.

Also, I included action screenshots for the fun of it.  I took all of these in the Midtown Manhattan zone because it is a fun zone and there is always plenty of action.  There is much more variety to the environments in this game.  Please don’t think every zone takes place in the same city area.

Finally, it is worth noting that almost every character received major tweaks to damage and survivability in the last couple of weeks.  There is no terrible character out there right now (except maybe the Thing), and if you have played a character during an earlier build, they will in all likelihood be substantially different today.  There are also going to be several rounds of updates to many characters over the next six months, so things can still change from today.

Now, on to the characters!  I will be grouping them by three broad, basic categories: melee, ranged, and hybrid.  Let’s start off with…

Melee (Berserker Barrage!)

Naturally, my representative in the pure melee category is Wolverine.  He is fast and hits hard when built right.  He has a nice leaping AOE bleed that has been in consistent use since launch.  He also has a great lunge ability that will zip him around the screen and out of danger or straight to it.  He mixes medium-range dodge and armor with his crazy healing ability, which works in three parts – passive regen, life-leech, and a click-to-heal.  Currently, his secondary resource – Fury – powers some of the highest damaging attacks in the game.

As a longtime Wolverine fan from the comics, they have done a good job of porting his character into the game.

Ranged (I got nothing clever to say)

My first and highest level ranged character is Cyclops.  You see him above taking on the Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants.  Notice the red eye lasers going all over the map?  That is one of the most insanely fun basic powers in the game – Ricochet Blast.  Did you know that, in addition to being a natural team leader with the red eye laser power, Cyclops is also really, really good at geometry?  It’s canon.  So, without costing any Spirit, Cyke can almost continuously fire blasts that hit every target in the area.  Awesome!

Cyke also has some nice Spirit-spenders in the form of an AOE DoT and a channeled blast that does continuous high damage in any direction you point.  This nice array of ranged powers couples with some good movement abilities to keep you alive and some group buffs (including one to experience gain), because, you know, he is a leader.

Cyclops was fun but his powers lacked oomph before the December DPS review patch.  Now, he is very powerful and fun to play.  As a longtime WoW Hunter, he gets the thumbs up.

Cable Action

Cable, my second-highest pure ranged character, is a cyborg mutant soldier from the future who just happens to be the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey.  If nothing else, Cable proves that characters with mysterious origins should remain a mystery.  I like Diet Coke, but please don’t tell me how it’s made.

Cable is a monster in-game with a very different style from Cyclops.  He has a speedy, high DPS, single-target ranged basic attack.  Other than that, he has no less than four powerful AOE DoTs, three of which you can see above (yellow circle on ground around him, purple lightning-ish circles, column of yellow fire).  Cable is all about strategic placement of your DoTs, getting yourself in the right position, and destroying everything.

Speaking of positioning, do you like games that let you teleport (e.g., a mage’s Blink)?  Cable is one of a handful of heroes with a teleporting power with no cooldown (in PVE, travel powers have a CD in PVP).  Being a point-and-click game, it is simple to hop around the screen, either into or out of the action.

I ❤ Hybrids!

Gambit Action

My new love in the game is hybrid characters, such as Gambit (above), Captain America, and Spider-man.  Each of these characters seem to have viable ranged or melee builds, but players are encouraged to mix and match skills.  And let me tell you, mixing it up is where its at.

Not to be outdone by Cable, Gambit is the X-men’s resident Cajun thief/scoundrel with the power to charge up objects with kinetic energy, which then explode on contact.  Naturally, Gambit’s weapon of choice is playing cards (and a bo staff).  Above you can see Gambit’s first ranged move “Royal Flush,” which throws five cards in a fan pattern that eventually explode.  Because of that move, the hybrid build I am preferring is referred to by some as the “Shotgun” build.

Gambit Action 2

Above is an illustration of the Shotgun build in action.  Gambit has a few auras, as do many hybrids, that synergize your ranged and melee attacks.  Following a hit with an energy power, with the “Black Suits”  aura turned on, Gambit’s melee powers do much more damage.

Above, Gambit just landed a Royal Flush and is vaulting through the air to land in the midst of the enemies in an explosive attack.  If there are elite enemies who do not die after these attacks, follow up with a melee AOE, roll out, and Royal Flush again.  It is a little complex, but extremely rewarding when it works out.  Gambit is not quite as durable as a Wolverine, but he has some nicely varied attacks and is very fun to play.

Cap Action

Above is Captain America in mid shield throw.  Cap is a hybrid who bears some similarity to both Gambit and Cyclops but with added durability.  Cap’s best AOE attack is Shield Bounce, which, like Ricochet Blast, is a hit it and forget it bouncing around to a ton of enemies.  Shield Bounce also decreases an enemies defenses and increases the damage of your melee attacks so, you guessed it, after Shield Bounce, it is time to jump into the fray and punch people in the face.

Being a shield slinger, Cap also has a damage shield (thorns) ability and a number of defensive abilities that reduce incoming damage for a time.

Too Soon to Tell

Thor Action

Finally, I have been invested in Thor lately, mainly because I want another character running Legendary Quests and I like his Synergy (+2% to Melee Damage).  I am just not sure how I want to play him yet.  Ultimately, his lightning attacks are pretty sweet (see above), as are his hammer throws.  At the same time, however, he gets some nice bonuses to melee attacks and is more durable than any other character I am currently playing.  Odds are, he will become a hybrid-tank for me.  Not worried so much about getting out of the way of bad stuff, taking hits, and dealing out damage wherever necessary, be it close by or at range.

Final Thoughts

I hope that the above illustrates a bit of the range the characters in Marvel Heroes have.  Yes, there is some overlap between some of them, but I have learned that even those with similar power sets can feel very different.  There truly are 29 classes out there.  By the end of January, there will be 30, with the addition of Nightcrawler, an agile dodge-based melee character, who likes to fight with swords and whose mutant powers include teleportation and a prehensile tail.  Yes, he will play differently from other characters in the game.

It also important to note that, since the December patch, there are no really horrible builds out there.  It is still worth min-maxing to a degree, since there are a limited number of powers you can have active at any given time.  It is also worth investing some in passive abilities, since they will increase your damage, survivability, or both across the board.  My advice is play the character/class you want and invest in the powers that appear fun so that you can see how they work for you.  You can always respec later.  Each character has access to three free respec potions by beating Bullseye in Chapter Four in each of the three difficulty modes.

Finally, of the characters above, Captain America is the only one I have significantly played who is currently a free Starter Hero.  I have no problem recommending him to anyone giving the game a shot, although you need to consider whether he fits your playstyle and whether there is a hero you simply like more.

Wait, What?!

Two posts in one week! I blame a slow workweek. Don’t expect things to change too much around here long-term, since work will be getting crazy again soon. This post is mostly an apology to what I said about Marvel Heroes in my last post. Well, not so much what I said but what was implied.

One of my headings was “Love for Marvel Heroes Waxes and Wanes.” That heading suggests that, for some reason, I love Marvel Heroes less than I used to. That could not be further from the truth. While I play Marvel Heroes less than I used to, my love for the game remains as strong as it ever has been and, in fact, continues to grow.

So, why is that?

Simple. Great content, great devs, and continued constant refinement and development of the game. The IP brought me to the game, but the job Gazillion continues to do keeps me coming back. I don’t play it all that much right now because, for me, ARPGs are treats to be enjoyed now and then, but not a meal that I can eat night after night for weeks or months on end.

So, let’s talk about what is great in the game right now. Many early reviews faulted the game for lack of a true endgame. The storyline ends around level 25, and originally, there were few options for content between levels 25 and 60. That has been fixed, for the most part, and continues to be refines. Here is what’s up:

My Least-Favorite Bug Seems to have been Fixed

I mentioned in my last post how much fun the Midtown Manhattan Survival Mode is. Constant waves of enemies, multi-boss fights. 10 players per zone. Everything sounds perfect for non-stop mayhem. The major problem, however, was the fact that you could not bring a team into the zone. Major fucking problem there. Well, last night, me and a guildie were able to zone in together and take on Sentinels, Magneto and the Brotherhood, Elektra, and all manner of bad guys together. To me this was the biggest bug in the game. If it truly is fixed, I am happy indeed.

The devs also made a series of tweaks to improve the zone. Bosses spawn more frequently, more mobs spawn, and new types of mobs were added. All vast improvements.

The X-Mansion is Destroyed Again

The X-Mansion has been destroyed in the comics so many times that you have to wonder why they bother to rebuild. Taking a page from the comics, the devs added an “X-Defense” mode. Basically, wave after wave of stronger and stronger enemies try to storm the mansion and capture a group of students. You have to achieve a goal (kill a boss or a certain number of enemies) before the bad guys do to make if through the wave. You go until you lose, and the further you make it, the better the loot and xp.

Technically, X-Defense is in an unfinished “open beta” state and continues to be worked on by the devs. It is, however, a lot of fun and requires some different gearing and playstyle choices from players.

Things get Difficult

The devs recently added difficulty modes to the story aimed at heroes in higher level ranges (25-60). The difficulty does ramp up in these modes, and it gives you the opportunity to run missions for improved loot rewards and extra skill points. It’s not revolutionary, but it is content and a nice change of pace from other modes.

Everything Else

In addition to these modes, there are still terminal missions (dailies) of multiple difficulty levels and various group survival challenges.  Bottom line, Marvel Heroes gives you a lot of different ways to beat up bad guys.

In the Year 2000

So, what does the future hold?  We know there will be more story missions added, centered around Asgard.  My guess is we will see Loki as a boss and it will come out around the time Thor 2 is released in theaters.  PVP is getting a big overhaul, and it looks like they will be using a MOBA model for it.   Other than that and more heroes, I don’t know what the future holds, but it sure looks like a bright one and one that I will be there to see.

What’s in a Name?

After trying to explain to a new group of potential guildmates how to pronounce my character’s name for, I don’t know…maybe the 12th time, I started to think about why I chose and continue to stick with such an annoying in-game moniker.  In the end, I guess it’s the same reason that many others in this genre of games have stuck with their names – recognition by friends and consistency across multiple games.  So, where did it all go wrong?  Why did it all go so wrong?

It started in 2006 or 2007 with my relatively (for me) long career in WoW.  I had played City of Heroes as my first MMO for maybe six months or so, and those commercials for TBC were so tempting.  My character in CoH was a blaster (ranged DPS) named Green Wind.  His bio said something clever like “Named for the malodorous gust of wind from which he received his powers.”  Looking back on it, this was the high-water mark for character names.

Coming from playing ranged DPS in City of Heroes, I decided to pick up a similar role in WoW.  I settled in on the idea of a Night Elf Hunter, not knowing the stigma that would attach to such a choice for the rest of my WoW playing career.  I started thinking that Yngwe would be a good name for a NElf Hunter, patterned after Yngwie Malmsteen, the speed metal guitar virtuoso.  Not that I am a fan of his, I just thought the name sounded right.  And this is where things started to fall apart.

First, as you may be able to tell from the previous paragraph, I spelled the name wrong.  Noob.  Second, the way I pronounced it in my head, and the way i told guildmates to pronounce it when I was first introduced to Vent was wrong.  I heard it in my head as “Ying-way,” and that is how I told people to pronounce it, and it is what I am known as to this day.  In reality, “Yngwie” is pronounced “Ing-vay.”  Double-noob.

So now, I am branded with a nearly unrecognizable and unpronounceable name.  Even those who recognize it and know how to pronounce it are mystified by my version of it.

My WoW-playing is pretty firmly in the past.  The Firelands turned me off pretty strongly, and nothing I have seen since has been tempting enough to seriously return to the game.  I made a couple of half-hearted tries since then, but none took for more than a couple of weeks.  After WoW, I spent a few months back in City of Heroes, and landed with some old guildmates in SWTOR for over a year.  I dabbled a little in GW2 and currently, I am running in the Marvel Heroes beta and Neverwinter.  I have yet to make a clean break with the Yngwe moniker, yet you may find me in various games under a different name.

My strongest effort at breaking the Yngwe mold has been branding myself as “Skerik.”  That name also derives from a musician, this guy.  He has a crazy persona, and I am fond of the name.  At some point, it became my name of choice for tankier characters, and as my playstyle shifted in that direction, it became my name of choice in games like TOR and Neverwinter.  Thankfully, people seem to have an easier time pronouncing Skerik than Yngwe.

Coming full-circle, however, I have run into numerous games where I have tried to select both “Yngwe” and “Skerik,” yet neither name is available.  In GW2, people simply took both names.  In other games, like Neverwinter and Marvel Heroes, I was previously registered under the name Yngwe, and had to create a new account for one reason or another.  So, what name did I choose?  “Ingvai” – the phonetic spelling of “Yngwie.”  The bitter irony of it all is that people seem to have just as much difficulty pronouncing “Ingvai” as they do pronouncing “Yngwe.”

I think the lesson I have learned through it all is that talking is highly overrated.