Friday, December 19, 2014

More wiping

I am still addicted to It's A Wipe!  Running a raiding guild where I can raid exactly when I want to rather than on a fixed schedule is really fun!

This game does a lot of things right that I find rare in any game, let alone one developed by a single person.  The standout surprise is how good the numbers are in the fights.  As you push through the game the dungeons get more challenging both strategically and numerically and it strikes a nice balance between requiring farming without requiring *too* much farming.  Gear scales up quite dramatically between dungeon tiers, roughly doubling in efficacy.  This works out well in that new tiers of fights are extremely difficult at the start but become pretty trivial by the end - it actually feels a lot like raids did in WOW in terms of that ramp up.

The developer did a good job tuning those numbers correctly, especially in that the final dungeon tier is really quite challenging even if you are almost fully geared out from the previous dungeons.  It is the last challenge after all (until the expansion!) so making it a bit of a brick wall is completely reasonable.  There are a lot of decisions to make in terms of who you take to the dungeon and how you are going to gear them and it is not clear to me what the optimal answers are.

Luckily that doesn't mean that there are no bad choices - on the contrary, there are a million ways to play stupidly.  What I really enjoy in games though is a situation where there are a bunch of interesting ways to be good.  If there are a million ways to play and one hundred of them are solid then there is a lot of room to play around hunting for the *perfect* solution without feeling like experimentation is just a waste of time.  I like finding the ideal setup but I want the sense that once I find it there might still be something out there a touch better and that is easiest to achieve when there are many ways to be good.

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule of good balance though.  Trinkets are really weird items and their abilities are all over the map unlike weapons and armour which are fairly predictable.  The good trinkets boost spell power, dps, crit chance, hit points, or armour.  These are all totally reasonable choices that you will use at some time or other.  The trinkets that boost damage usually give a ~10% boost, hit points go up by 10-200% (which isn't as broken as it sounds because dps classes with excess hit points aren't actually much better) and armour is useful.  So far, so good.

Then there are the awful trinkets.  Not just subpar, but on the verge of having no game effect.  Specifically there are trinkets to increase or decrease threat generated by 8%.  The way threat works is you assign a tank to each enemy and the enemies attack that tank no matter what.  Even if the tank never hits that particular enemy and the rest of the raid is beating on them the tank holds aggro.  How a small change in threat generation was supposed to be useful when tanks have literally infinite threat is a bit beyond me.  I am totally okay with items that aren't very good but these aren't a skill tester - they just don't do anything.  You can tell an item has issues when it does 8 of a thing and you wouldn't consider using it if that number was 1,000,000 instead.

The final dungeon in It's A Wipe! is changing my tactics a fair bit.  The main consideration is that there is a boss that mind controls one party member each round and dealing with that is an issue.  Your healers, wizards, bards and tanks just hit the tank for 1 damage so they are no problem.  Rogues stab the tank for a lot of damage so that is bad.  Mages however hit the entire raid for 50 damage which probably kills all of your wizards and mages!  Until I manage to farm up HP trinkets for all my wizards and mages I basically can't take a mage to the final dungeon.  That particular mechanic seems way out of line if I was actually playing with real people - the mages would be on the forums crying up a storm.  In this case though it just means I try to win with my mage riding the bench.


  1. Have you looked at Prismata? I've been looking at it today because it's been getting local press coverage, and the balance looks very tight. Quite possibly too tight for me... there are lots of good strategies, but only a few are present in a particular game, and the highly strategic nature of play doesn't allow for a lot of forgiveness if you screw up the execution (although gambits are possible).

  2. I have not taken a look at Prismata, but I will now since I just finished It's A Wipe!