peal's heals – a swtor blog

the nerf bat swingeth

So… how do you like the changes?

1. The new warzone is a lot of fun. I like the push/pull way of holding bunkers and turrets. The all-or-nothingness of Voidstar and Civil War (you either plant the bomb or get interrupted) works… but it’s nice that even a few seconds of channeling control does something for the team–and the fact that more people clicking is a much faster channel! It’s smooth and fun.

The map is also a good size. Sometimes when I’m stealthed I feel like it takes forever to get from one to the other but it’s not. You can see your teammates (and the enemy) all across the map. And any complaints I have about traveling are from my seething jealousy of Force Speed, that’s all.

2. I missed the memo and thought we’d get some things we haven’t gotten yet, like auto-group-keeping between warzones and 8-man queues. But that’s alright. As much as it’s annoying to reform your group between each, there are much worse things.

3. The new UI is neat. I’m still holding out for some healer-friendly changes but we got a few neat toys you may want to play around with. You can enable target of target by going into UI editor–there’s a couple of red boxes near the mini-map. Clicking and then clicking enable (kinda sounds like I should have taken a screenshot of this, eh?) will show your target’s target. This is less important to me now than it was while I was still learning the game; it seems I’ve gotten used to not having it. But it’s still nice. The narrow red bar near the target’s target is the target’s target’s cast bar (say that three times fast!). Also handy.

4. Still really wish offensive/healing spells had a reflexive targeting quality like you could set them up in WoW. Like, if you healed the boss it healed the boss’s target. Or even if you could heal a target you didn’t have targeted. Because it’s really annoying to interrupt people while healing. Possible, but annoying.

5. Had a blast last night PvPing. That was all we did now that our points max out at 2k. It’s crazy that when we ding 50 we’ll have access to Battle Master gear. It’s pretty expensive, but it should be. There’s still a bit of grinding to get a full set, just much less of a grind than there used to be. But I’m glad that Bioware seems to be interesting in doing a tiered leveling system–once new shiny gear is introduced, the old new-shiny is made highly accessible. Because seriously, new level 50s have enough going against them without having to do a separate grind for each tier of gear.

6. The change to allow medics up to 3 stacks of Tactical Advantage ended up being a much bigger, better change than I’d initially thought. It’s a lot more on-the-move healing flexibility, for one, and Energy is a lot easier to manage. When I only had 2 stacks, I ended up wasting so many TA points. With up to 3, less get wasted and there’s more to spend more often it seems.

7. I miss our giggling already – but – there is a silver lining to the storm cloud that is the giggle-nerf. When we get TA procs via Kolto Probe, there is a sound. If I had to describe it, I’d call it a clank noise, something like a wrench tightening a bolt with sudden finality. But better yet, why not hop on your Operative and spam some Probes until you get used to what it sounds like yourself? To me, it’s louder and more obvious than a free Consumption proc on my Sorcerer (I had a hard time training myself to listen for that one, it’s too quiet IMHO). We do have an audio cue to help manage our TA it’s just not a fun cue anymore.

8. May or may not get 50 tonight. We’re level 49 and enjoying it. For the Empire!

why you don’t want to play an agent
April 10, 2012, 4:12 pm
Filed under: for fun, pvp | Tags: , , , , ,

I have this embarrassing confession to make…

I prefer warzone groups that have exactly two Imperial Agents: me and Apparation.

There are a few exceptions, of course, but at the same time I see other snipers and operatives and think “sheesh, if only we had this many Sorcerers instead.”

And I could trot out some wonderful-sounding excuses like “well, Agents are hard to play properly” or “bounty hunters and inquisitors are just so gosh-darned good right now” but the long and short of it is, there’s this preconception that Agents are the weakest class.

If I’m being honest with myself, they are.

5 Reasons Not to Play an Agent in PVP

1. All the other kids in the playground (er, players in the warzone) groan when you hop into their game. No really, you could have rolled a mercenary or a sorcerer and everybody knows it. At least you can be bad and still do a decent job if you play the overpowered classes.

2. No freaking closing ability. Seriously, when we start talking about awesome movement utility the Agent gets left in the dust. Force speed is ridiculously amazing and that’s not all: Sorcerers also get Extrication (think life grip) for double the ball-carrying speed action. Then Powertechs get grapple, Warriors can Charge and Juggernauts can Intercede. So why do Operatives (a melee-only class) get… nothing?

3. While we’re ranting about what Agent’s don’t have, I should mention this other minor thing… KNOCKBACKS. Inquisitor’s Overload is awesome. Sure, it’s self-based but some can talent it to stun and man that stun always lasts forever when you’re on the receiving end. And whatever that thing that Bounty Hunters can do like all the freaking time- yeah, I hate that. Stupid bounty hunters.

4. See that Merc over there, spamming Tracer Missle like there’s no tomorrow? And that Sorcerer throwing out lightning? Sustained burst is not for you, Agent. You get to cast a whole three abilities (slight hyperbole warning) and then you can run around waiting for your energy to come back. Enjoy!

5. Speaking of sustained burst, a sorcerer healer has a lot of different offensive abilities they can use to keep busy when no healing is needed. Sure, their Lightning and all isn’t quite as powerful as going with a DPS spec, but they can still do a whole rotation of things and have some Force to spare for healing. I can’t speak for Mercs but considering some of the damage and healing done in warzones by Mercs I’d say they can stay busy, too. Not so with the Agent. Our Operative arsenal is pretty pathetic (you have to spec into the other DPS trees to get more key abilities) and not-at-all sustainable if we want to heal, too. Let’s face it, Overload Shot just costs too much for what it does. And that’s about all we have when Shiv and Backstab are down.

Fortunately, there are some good reasons to play an Agent in PVP:

1. You are the only healer who can stealth. So when those jerks on the other team put a giant flame target on your head (it’ll happen), you can actually get to the brawl and help your team before you get ganked. There’s also the chance you’ll survive, too, since you’re always with a group. Being able to choose your fights is priceless.

2. Sorcerers aren’t the only ones who can have fun on ledges, picking players off one by one. Snipers can, too. And cover makes you immune to Grapple and a couple other movement devices.

3. Agents are the minority. Which means playing an agent, you’ll round out the group. And here’s this other potential benefit: your other team may have less experience playing against you than they do Sorcerers and Sages. Seriously. Even as a healer with pathetic damage output, I’m able to solo players who don’t understand how Operative healers work (killing a n00b DPS is highly satisfying, give it a try) (and if two people are dead-set on killing me anyways, I try to lure them away from the rest of their team as far as possible and leave them in the wrong pit for maximum travel-time wastage. Most the time they really think I’m trying to flee and chase me all the way).

4. So maybe we don’t get cool toys like the other kids but you know what we get? Hots. And as much as I really think Probes should stack higher than 2, being able to spread them out over the group (watching the energy bar, mind you!) makes for some awesome zerg parties. Being able to move while I’m spreading the love is pretty great, too, so I can position myself to pillar-hump once some Merc thinks he has a shot of killing me. Dream on, dude. I got instants to spare.

5. Us Agents are patient folk. In 1.2, guess who’s getting nerfed? That’s right… everyone BUT Agents. As much as I think Agents (mostly Operatives, can’t speak for Snipers) don’t have all the utility we need, we’re being watched and I’m certain developers will keep nerfing and buffing till we have a shot at staying competitive.

6. The healing and damage done metric can be overrated. Sure, I’d do a hell of a lot more dps or healing as a Sorc or a Merc. I’m sure of it (and I’ve played Sorc to know). But at the end of the day, winning a warzone takes more than that. Fighting in the middle nets you good numbers but does it matter if the enemy claims the other two turrets or if the other team has the ball near the goalline? Any player sacrifices “numbers” to be in the right spot at the right time. It is trickier for Operatives because our interrupt, stun, and group CC are all melee-only, but with Stealth/Vanish we have a shot at getting to the ball, the turret, wherever we want to be, to do the most good. Not the most healing.

7. Our gear is so sweet. See that sissy running around in a robe frayed with purple fuzzies and feathers? Or that dude who thinks wearing a tin can is awesome? Not so, dear Agents (Scoundrels, too). We got style in spades… and the coolest sunglasses.

8. Oh, and the Agent storyline is the best. That is all.

three months in

Following in the brave tradition of Kristalys at All For the Wookiee and Shintar from Going Commando, I’d like to reminisce on the last three months of the game.

In the past three months I’ve leveled a whole lot of toons. A 50 Sorcerer, first and foremost, but the moment I hit max level with her I realized I needed an Operative. And on the way, I’ve made a Mercenary (got lazy around level 14), another sorcerer (got lazy around level 12), a Trooper (7) and a Sage (13). That’s on one server.

On another server (because for some reason I thought the people I went to high school with would be nicer than the random guys I met in WoW, oh god who was I kidding?! Now my librarian is my guild officer!)… Well, I made an Operative. Healing, of course, though this time I didn’t wait till mid-twenties to use the spec. Lux and I are leveling duo-operatives and spending quite a bit more time PvPing.

But, I… ahem. Already have a placeholder for a sorcerer. Quake was already taken on the Tarro Blood server, but (surprise) Peal was not. So if you ever see Temblor in a warzone, throwing darts of healing and shoving probes in your face, well, wave at me. 🙂

So that’s what I’ve done. In retrospect that’s a lot, though I never got into what I thought I wanted most: hard mode raiding.

Now I’m not even sure I want that. I’ve heard here and there that people leave because quite frankly the group play sucks. But I still don’t see it. I mean. The tank shortage seems to be a really big deal but at the same time we’ve got healers in abundance. Now I’ve enjoyed healing in games even when healing was awkward and clunky and resource management was a fickle creature, and in games like this healers/support were really rare. Remember looking for a bard or red mage simply to gain a level or two in FFXI?

Speaking of FFXI, remember camping HNMs for hours against several other guilds, only to lose the pop to a Japanese guild (lower ping) who would play with the boss for hours just to move its respawn timer to a more convenient pull time for that guild the next day?

At least we can run into an instance and play when we’re ready. I haven’t touched hard modes, like I said, but the normal seems well-tuned for casual play. As it should be. I’ve run flashpoints ad nauseum without actually having nausea. So I feel the content has decent replay value, if only for the satisfaction of knocking Captain Yelto to the floor again.

So… lots of healers means that lots of people find healing fun. And why not? The pace of healing is perfect, IMHO. As is the time spent healing -in new content where I’m undergeared it’s a challenge, sure, and it should be, but once me and the tank get a few upgrades I can throw out a grenade once in a while. And I love that. My DPS doesn’t compare at all to real damage dealers, but I still find it worthwhile to use a burst ability when there’s nothing else to do. Why not? Why should I be defenseless because I’m a healer?

(Explosive probe is my favorite when I have just a split second to help burst someone down in a warzone, because it’s so dramatically… explosive).

My biggest complaints are the interface (I get very tired of the bug where a player or two won’t load into my Operations frames, so I’m stuck trying to heal a warzone without an easy way to target them) and the lack of click-to-cast. But honestly after three months I’ve managed to forget. I logged enough gametime in SWTOR healing that I’ve just plain gotten used to it, awkward and clunky as it is.

Granted, it helps that I have a mouse with extra buttons on the side. And I hope that we’ll still see some upgrades on the interface for healers. Just because we forget something is broken doesn’t mean we wouldn’t benefit from it being fixed.

I’ve noticed (in my entirely limited experience) that warzone healers on my new server are rarer than my old one. More often than not, I’m the only one on my team… but I’m not complaining. I get a ton more MVP votes that way!

In the next three months, I look forward to more leveling, more PvP and maybe even a dash of raiding. We’ll see. But I’m definitely still excited about the game. How about you? Can you believe it’s been three months of SWTOR already?

operation: redundancy
March 16, 2012, 4:42 pm
Filed under: missions | Tags: , , ,

Haven’t really raided all week, which has led me to some other interesting endeavors in SWTOR.

1. Made another sorcerer to level alongside Lux’s new sniper. Mistakes I will not be making this time around: being nice, going light side.

2. Made another operative on a new server so in theory I can PvP with some people I went to high school with (I say in theory because of my love-hate relationship with PvP). I actually made two new operatives. The first I named Peal, then I realized that Peal is totally not an operative name. Quake was already taken, as was Tremor. Bah. BUT: the second time around this time has been so much easier than the first. I know what to expect and I understand abilities. In fact, I’m counting levels till I get some of them. Operatives aren’t really awkward, it just seems that way.

3. Leveling diplomacy is kinda fun if you read the missions. The difference between dark side options (this lady wants out of her arranged marriage! have Khem Val “convince” her to do it for the good of the Empire!) and light side options (this party could get out of control! Have Xalek show up to keep the good times rolling!)

Because apparently, Xalek is a party animal?

mandatory conversations: boarding party
March 1, 2012, 4:56 pm
Filed under: for fun, missions | Tags: , , ,

For some odd reason, Boarding Party tends to be our FP of choice. It was one of the first I learned how to do and I dare say that for the past two or three weeks I’ve ran it nearly every day.

This may or may not be a spoiler. One of the NPCs is really, really annoying. You don’t get to speak to her until the end. And when you do, this is an option:

But it’s not really an option, is it? Because all the other “options” to talk aren’t near as exciting as this one. It’s mandatory; in my groups this is the answer you pick.

Another thought on BP:

A handful of trash pulls can be skipped. And I just spent several minutes trying to explain what I meant but without screenshots it’s kind of a pain. So I’ll have to jump back into boarding party and take pictures for another post on skippable trash. In BP and in Foundry.

Are there FPs you find yourself going back to when you need to grind? Are there lines you just love so much you have to say them every time?

we didn’t try that hard: 16 man operations
February 28, 2012, 9:04 pm
Filed under: gameplay, on gaming, operations | Tags: , , , ,

Last week, my guild journeyed into our first 16-man operation. We filled out the raid with 11 guildies and 5 pugs. Further, we use Mumble which tends to be the rarest of voice-type programs and it’s too much hassle to get people who are unfamiliar with the program into the channel. So we didn’t bother.

Heck, in our WoW guild we used to joke that’s a secret part of the trial. If you can’t figure out how to get into Mumble before your trial is up, you don’t get to stay in the guild. =P

Now please understand. The list that follows is entirely based on my anecdotal experience. It’s opinion.

I really hope I’m not done with 16s permanently but for right now this one experience was enough to scare me away until things get patched up.

16-mans: The a-Peal:

  • Large groups feel more epic. More coordination. I felt like a healer-team lead instead of just the one healer who bosses around the other. I love large group play.
  • Damage happens hard and fast. I was a dedicated tank healer and it was fun to feel like my Operative was really filling a unique niche role in the group. It didn’t even bother me when we had to stack up for AoE heals and mine ended up being pathetic; I’d saved the day several times with my big, fast single target heals before the last phase. Healing class uniqueness really shines in 16s.

16-mans: The Appall:

  • Lag-fest. My computer was less penalized than I expected, but I saw just about everyone else grind to a painful halt with all the extra stuff going on. Apparently it’s a known issue and it isn’t a matter of your computer being “good enough” or not.
  • Trash is ridiculously hard. Things hit so much harder so it’s highly important for tanks to be taking every hit. But then you have 10 DPS and 4 healers doing their thing so the odds of someone getting one-shot are pretty good. Twitch reflexes seemed necessary, but did I mention the part about lag?
  • The one boss we did felt well-tuned enough but battle rezes work the same in 8s as they in 16s. So it feels like in 16 you are penalized. Not only do people die faster and suffer from computer lockup, you only get 50% forgiveness (Okay, that’s not true at all. That’s just how it feels).

All these things combined made our one 16 feel at least four times harder than our experiences in 8. We poked our heads into 8-Hard last week and while we hit the enrage timer at 30%, it felt more achievable as a long term goal than 16-normal. And seriously, why would anyone want to bang their head against the wall on 16s for normal gear when those groups could split and focus on 8-hards?

But then, like the title says, we didn’t try all that hard. We spent about 2 hours actually raiding of a normal 3 hour session (1/2 hour to filling the raid with pugs, called early when one of those pugs “ran into bad weather and may lose internet”. Except, pro tip: If you’re going to fake DC, don’t log out… It removes you from the raid and we know you logged out. To convincingly fake DC, you have to alt-F4 the game).

I’m a bit sad since I do enjoy the larger group sizes. It just feels more epic when I’m a part of an army and with 16 players, odds are good that all advanced classes and specs are well-represented. It’s group diversity at it’s finest. I hope that Bioware makes the changes they need to make to encourage more 16s so I can dip my toes in again.

Till then, I’ll enjoy being the only Operative in the raid. 🙂

the 6 meme
February 25, 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: for fun

Hawtpants of the Old Republic tagged me for this meme.

Okay, so there weren’t exactly 6 subfolders. I guess I’m cheating but this is the sixth image in my SWTOR folder:

I took a bunch of screenshots when I first started playing to come up with a suitable header image for my blog. As you can see, I still haven’t found one.

I was (and impressed) with the slick, high-contrast beauty of Imperial design. I’m in awe every time I pass through Drummond Kass, overwhelmed by the newness and homage to ancient history.

And since I went through my screenshots folder to see what else I had in there, I thought I’d share this story. I don’t know how it started, but Lux and I have this ongoing joke where we name random monsters in SWTOR universe. Shaclaw and Uxibeast are perennial favorites, because, well, say them aloud and you’ll understand what I mean. I started taking screenshots to use as desktop images. Silly, I know. So here’s an uxibeast for you:

Isn’t he cute? I may or may not have taken this screenshot from my Jedi alt who may or may not have been abandoned some weeks ago.

I’m supposed to tag people but, um, *points at Lyeri* Summertime on Hoth didn’t tag people so I don’t have to either!  But you know, if you do this meme and want to give me credit for socially pressuring you to join in on the fun, well, I won’t stop ya. 🙂