Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Vindictus: Pirates of the Graveyard

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

Happy New Year all! Decided I'm not making another resolution list this year (because we know how the previous one went), so I'm just going to keep trucking on with my regular posts! :)

More Vindictus tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

After that somewhat tough jungle, you'll be happy to learn that the Ship Graveyard is a cakewalk for Kais. Half the bosses are sirens and they are all stupid, easily read and shouldn't be a problem for any Kai who knows to keep at range at this point. The giant crab would give you more issues (not a lot), so that leaves the pirates.

Barnacle Bill Simmons likes to spit poison on the ground but otherwise is slow with his cutlass. Just watch your step and you will be fine. Mad Willy Flint seems to be the captain and apart from some slash waves and thrown, slow seeking swords, he too is easily strafed. You just have to be a bit careful avoiding all the stuff he sends your way. Just strafe the slashes. Dodge the flying swords.

I defeated him with holy farts. Lol.

Longboot Matty is the most dangerous for me. He fights in a slightly submerged section of a broken ship and has a regular "shoot gun" combo that is painful, but easily strafed or blocked by the mast in the middle. He does have two troublesome moves though: One being that he vomits into the water making all of it poisoned, forcing people to go up onto one of the small box areas and second, he sends out invulnerable wisps that paralyze anyone they touch - long enough for him to pull a full gun combo on them. That mast becomes a life saver at those times so use it!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

MMO Design: Witcher Potion System

[Part of my MMO Design Folder.]

In my previous review of the Witcher 2, I mentioned that I quite like the potion system there and thought I would explore the notion of putting a similar thing in an MMO. Currently the most common types of consumables I've run into in MMOs are the ones that either give you a buff for -x- amount of time or the type that you drink for immediate bonus like restoring HP or Mana. Sometimes you can drink like there is no tomorrow, as fast as you can press a key. Sometimes there's an arbitrary cool down.

Personally, I'm the type that keeps over 100 health potions in my pack because there's simply no penalty in doing so, and no penalty for drinking them in quick succession when I need to in most games. Mabinogi does start giving you stat deductions in that event but it takes a LOT of drinking to get there.

The system in the Witcher is pretty simple. You have a "poison" bar that fills up based on the type of consumable you are taking - often with three being the maximum before suffering an overdose. All of them have an effect duration, even the "health" potion which just temporarily improves your regeneration rate. Most importantly, almost all of them have negative side effects. A potion of fire resistance might make you more susceptible to cold for example.

This would force people to think about what they are doing instead of chugging down every type of bonus they can. It also makes encounters more manageable from a design perspective because people are more limited with what they can field on the table, unlike trying to make a challenging fight for both non-dosed players and those who have access to every consumable in game.

On the down side this might reduce the "gold sink" nature of potions somewhat, if people when faced with uncertainty of what to get simply buy nothing. What do you think?

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Quests Failed!

Blergh, I know I'm a few days early but I'm going to call this now. I knew there's a reason I don't like writing up New Year's Resolutions. I'm one of those people that obviously just doesn't get them done! So let's take a quick look at that list from the start of this year...

Lose 12 kgs. That's just 1 kg per month!
Fail! I lost just as much as I gained and am back where I started. >.<

Start writing out the guild history, one chapter per 2 months would be good.

*Watches the tumbleweed*

Complete 10 quests for NWO.

Make a silly game of my own.
I actually did this! Twice in boardgame form. They weren't any good though.

Continue the Today I Smiled series with 2 per month.
Definitely didn't do 2 per month, but still posted 24+ during the year so I'll give this one a pass.

Finish composing another song.
Neglected. Which is annoying since I had half a new song already...

Score: 2 out of 6.

Retry next year? In theory it should be easier now that I have more XP right? For the most part yes, but we'll see if I'm in a mood to put up another list later! :P

Lastly I am sad to report that I am down to 50 links to other blogs. That might sound like a big number until I remind you that I was on around 150+ at one stage after the previous Newbie Blogger Initiative. Sticking to my rule of "must have new content within 4 weeks (eg. one post a month)" apparently was too much to ask for around two thirds of the population. Is this a sign that blogs are dying? No, probably not. Just that I'm either too harsh on my criteria or I'm simply linking the wrong people.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Vindictus: Snake Worshippers

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]
Welcome to Season 2: the Jungle! Yeah I know there's a ton of content I don't have tips for in Season 1 other than: "Why don't you evade?" and "100 Fine HP potions aren't enough". I'll have to go back and see if I can think up of any more. For now let's talk about Crescent Moon Island and the few bosses there that could prove troublesome. Yeah, the carpenter drone can become hardened against attacks but for serious, go kill a turtle and throw it at him like Mario. Solved.

No I'm talking more about the likes of Legtrap Kaula and her pet giant wasp Blackwing. For a solo Kai I strongly suggest trying to separate the two and taking on Blackwing first. The wasp has a tendency to teleport to you while Kaula has to actually sprint across the map. The wasp is also the easier of the two to read and defeat.

Kaula is the main problem though as she runs very fast, and can jump up and down those embankments faster than you can. She also has a strong and fast melee combo. The only weakness to it is that she keeps moving forward through it. For a Kai I'd recommend placing your dodge grapple midway along the long narrow path and make use of it to dodge through Kaula and shoot her in the back. Rinse and repeat.

Feel free to shoot her in front too.

Meanwhile, Death Chief Kielu has a pretty weak staff melee attack. What she does have is ye old black seeking orb (again - you should know how to evade these by now), and more importantly a scream followed by pounding her staff on the ground rythmically three times. This makes a giant snake tail pop up from right under you which can easily kill you in 2 hits. Running around makes it impossible for the tail to hit you, or you could just time your evades.

This is important to know because when you face the rest of the giant snake (Lakoria), it will do the tail attack up to 10 times on the person furthest away from it. Well, the last one is random target, but you can save your team a lot of hurt if you work out a "runner" ahead of time whose sole purpose is to distract the very painful tail spike away from the actual battle. 

Other than "if the snake swallows you, kill it from within", I can't really give more tips against Lakoria since I've so far only been the runner. :P

Monday, 22 December 2014

Silent Night (Gloria actually)

Well, more like silence for a few nights as this will be my last post for a few days as things get a little hectic around here. So, I wish you all an advanced, very Merry Christmas and will return to posting a few days after. In the meantime, I'll leave you with another Youtube carol, this time by ThePianoGuys. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Today I Smiled: A Measure of Character (NWO Foundry)

Just spruiking my latest Neverwinter Online foundry creation which I've entered into a contest over there. Not sure if I'll win anything, but decor wise I think I've improved a lot since my first few attempts!

A Measure of Character

You have received a letter from Humberto Boffanart, a representative of the Merchant's Guild, regarding a matter involving Neverwinter City's dock districts. He has invited you to come to his office which is located in the Western part of the city.

Warning: There is a LOT of reading in this quest, a fair bit of traveling, and very, very little fighting. You are still recommended to bring potions though... just for safety.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I only recently finished this game after getting it for free from the GoG site. Initially I was thinking of doing a playthrough for it but since one of this games strongest strengths is it's story (and because Astalnar already did one), I decided against it. Instead I thought I'd do a review! This game follows the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, a "witcher" (monster hunter) of some repute, during a time of crisis for the land of Temeria as someone is going about killing all the kings in the region.

Suffering from magical amnesia might seem a little convoluted but it actually works well here as you slowly uncover more of Geralt's past as you play through the game. As a fan of the TV series (I haven't read the books, nor played the first game) Geralt and everyone in the world around him are portrayed wonderfully. The locations and environments are well detailed and fun and at times scary to explore.

Michal Zebrowski's Geralt is still the best version for me. :P

At the end of chapter 1 you are given a choice between two ways to continue. I've played through both and while you still go through the same maps as the alternate path, the story and plot points are quite different, barely coming together again at the end of the "tree". 

As expected of an RPG, there are many side quests to help gain XP, gold and other resources for crafting and there are three mini-games to break up any tedium from the main plot in the form of QTE brawling, arm wrestling, and my favourite: dice poker. I also quite like the potion system in place, which I'll bring up again in a later MMO Design post.

What I don't like? Well, for starters there is no epic or memorable music. It's just... ok? Even Neverwinter Online, which isn't really known for good music, has my wife humming the main tune every now and then - and she doesn't even play the game! The combat in Witcher 2 can also be quite challenging until you get used to Geralt's hit and run design, and all the abilities he has at his disposal. Perhaps most annoyingly, it suffers from Save Game Glut - where your saves are always put in a new slot. Each game session of mine would therefore begin with a few minutes of clearing some of the old ones out.

It's a pity that those things slightly ruin an otherwise good game. I still recommend it though, and give it four out of five silver swords. If you are only planning on playing one "path" (or are the type to only play through once) then consider it a three and a half silver swords instead.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Vindictus: Sewer Sniping

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

More tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

The sewers are both an excellent and a horrible place for a Kai. Apart from being tight quarters and home to some agile lizardmen assassins (who are perhaps the only trash melee mob that manage to get up and damage me in a combo), it features very few types of boss chambers. The first is little more than a slightly larger than average square room. This type sucks, and you will have to fight fairly against the usually spry (ratman kung fu dude) or cheating boss within (I'm looking at you Shadow Shaman Ingkara - who summons shadows of other bosses to help him)!

Fortunately the other type of boss room is much more favourable, and is connected by a few passages to a portion that looks like this:

The bosses in those chambers can be lured back here, and then by simply standing on a different level you can snipe them at your leisure. Only the lizard assassin boss I think has means to chase you up and down, but even then it isn't consistent, giving you ample time to displace and snipe him from

There's also one boss, Warrior Chuilin, who has a cliff. You have to be a bit speedy to make sure he is downstairs while you are up, but if you stand at this spot his AI breaks and again you can snipe the otherwise dangerous boss to death.


Lastly, the raid boss Thor - a giant electric frog, is pretty easy for a Kai player in a group. Stay away from the frog. Stay out of the water. Fire at will. Easy peasy.

Monday, 15 December 2014

MMO Design: Gold Denial

[Part of my MMO Design Folder.]

You might recall me mentioning I'd do a post about "Gold Denial" (stop players from gaining gold) a short while back, which is an alternative to a "Gold Sink" (make players spend gold on x) but I was having trouble thinking up of a valid way to do this while still letting players feel they are "improving". Fortunately for me, Cryptic has already answered that question in Neverwinter Online with the introduction of Artifact Equipment. Let's go over the basics first for those who don't play.

In that game, killing enemies gives you items and a pretty small amount of coinage. Selling said items were what really brought in your gold, especially the higher tiered, rarer gear - the rarest of which actually is more profitable to be sold for other currencies on the player market. Like Diablo, some equipment has gem slots where you can enhance various traits or damage, depending on the gem. You can also enhance the gem quality by feeding it other gems to make it stronger and to make the progress meter break through to the next "level" you need special items that cost quite a bit and face an ever increasing chance of destroying them the higher the level is.

Since gems are just commonly dropped by bad guys though you could just be patient getting them and selling the excess gear for money. With Tiamat's arrival, players now have access to potentially powerful Artifact Equipment which doesn't eat gems to advance - it eats other equipment! Specifically it eats other "identified" equipment, since most things that drop are unidentified (and you sell them that way) this also diminishes the stacks and stacks of ID scrolls (another common drop) people are carrying.

This way players still get that feeling of improvement, yet at the same time have their gold income potentially cut down to almost zero. For awhile at least. A long while. Max rank for each artifact item is 60 which counts needs a total of 4,645,200 refinement points to reach. The most common gear gives around 100 points when consumed. Given that people can and will have multiple artifact items (cloak, belt, main hand, off-hand, etc) this acts as an awesome gold prevention method - which coupled by the gold sink that is Tiamat herself (on potions and injury kits) is good design, in my book anyway.

What do you think? Should this sort of system be introduced into more games?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Life of Pi

I had no interest to see this when it first came out and only recently watched it on TV, and wow - I was very impressed. The majority of the movie is a type of flash back as "Pi" is an Indian man who for the whole film is simply recounting his early life to a visiting book writer. The story is heavy on the topic of faith and has more and more fantastic visuals as it goes on, with perhaps some of the best CGI animals that I've seen in a film ever.

The first part of the movie deals with his childhood and only about half way do we reach the iconic and important part depicted by the cover where he eventually ends up stuck in a little life boat with only a non-friendly bengal tiger for company. There are funny parts, sad parts, tense parts, and parts where you wonder what the hell Pi is doing, but it is wrapped up so neatly at the end and makes for a fantastic work of art that has had a lot of thought put into it. It's also made me totally respect Suraj Sharma (teenage Pi) as an actor.

Given that all the things I like such as gory violence, female nudity and explosions are missing from this movie then you will understand when I say I give this movie five out of five flying fish, that you should go see it if you haven't already. Totally recommended!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Vindictus: Oversized Enemies

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

More tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

Giant, brute type enemies like Shakkar, the Ogre centurion, and Black Hammer always seem scarier, but in a non-raid mission this might actually make things easier for you if you are a patient Kai. Simply sprint away from the bad dude in a circle. They will stomp after you, slowly gaining ground until they think you are in range for an attack. At that point they will do something that looks anything BUT walking and that's your cue to evade. Maybe twice for good measure.

No Benny Hill music plays while doing so.

Turn around, plug the flailing fool full of arrows and run again. Done right he will never hit you while you slowly whittle away his HP. Boring and not very sportsman like, but it works. Not so much against big enemies that still seem agile like gnolls and tall but thin goblins, nor in raids. :P

Friday, 12 December 2014

Today I Smiled: Competition

One thing Tiamat has brought is a small re-kindling of my NWO foundry building and I'm glad to report that the Scribes' Enclave still stands! To try show my appreciation I've joined this months mini-contest which involves making the Best Winter Home. I've made these two for people to enjoy - temporarily anyway. I will be taking them down once the contest is done to give way to actual quests.

Please note: There are no quests, monsters or reward in either of these. Just a house! :P

A Humble Abode - (NW-DTCJS6NS2) 

A Winter Home - (NW-DCBNR2ABC)

Speaking of foundry stuff, this review by Tipa (aka Brenda Holloway) of Arroway Manor also made me smile! No, I didn't win. Far from it, but still got the green level companion reward. That hasn't stopped me from joining another foundry contest, one involving the North Docks District. That one isn't finished yet but I'll be sure to post up my work here when it is!

On to non-Neverwinter stuff... I'm sure most of you have seen the "This is EVE" video by now. I don't play that game but boy that almost, almost made me jump the fence to try it. Another one that I'm on the fence for is Black Desert. Just from the first picture on Steparu's Final Beta test. I first thought it was a shot of tabletop models. Then I have to remind myself its open-pvp so... probably not. :P

Also something that probably no one (in my usual blogging circle) has seen before... female Streetstyle Freestyle final battle: Two chicks showing fantastic control with a soccer ball. Yeah, stuff like that interests me. :P

I guess I should finish off with something more Christmas-sy since it -is- the season, so here's Peter Hollens with a jazzy acapella version of Holy Night. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Future Magic!

In the future, Earth is where all the oppressed, poor, and otherwise unsavory masses live while the rich and well to do reside on the nearby orbiting man-made satellite which gives the name to the movie: Elysium. Looking at it as a straight action film, Matt Damon makes a decent, unwilling protagonist who moves the again mostly predictable plot forward. The fights are pretty cool, especially the slow mo pieces where things just get torn up with futuristic high caliber rounds. The special FX are again top notch, though I must point out it is a lot easier to render mechanical stuff (like robots and space ships) over living tissue (like, furry dire wolves).

My main issue comes from the staggering amount of plot holes which seem to be just as many as if shot by those exploding rounds in the film. Basically ALL the future magic pushes the envelope of WTF too much for me. Shoulder mounted missiles that can fly out into space and can still hit targets in orbit? Check. Flight from Earth to space station, 19 minutes in a vehicle that seems to negate all G-force. Check. Pills that eliminate all effects of radiation poisoning (apart from death), check. Go'auld Sarcophagi that don't seem to need power that can heal anyone of anything except death? Check.

That last item is the main reason the "poor" people try to get up to Elysium, because the "rich" are so snooty they don't just send ships with said devices to go cure them. That everyone up there is that much of a douche bag is just as unbelievable as the device itself, though I suppose if they did that though there would be no movie because... peace is boring you know. :P

I give Elysium 2.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Vindictus: King of the Trolls

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

I started getting into real trouble when I reached the troll inhabited Hilder Forest Ruins. It's like an exam of every boss you have fought, just that they move faster, hit harder, and are way uglier. I quite disliked the very first boss, Meperdu who has a unique(?) ability of pinning you against the wall and forcing the whole rest of the fight to take place in judo range (ie. zero distance). I could still beat him, but the one that really sucked was the king of the Shady Forest - Klaus.

Ho ho ho!

I think next to GW2s Liadri he currently holds the most number of kills on me in any MMO. The difference is that while Liadri was a duel, Klaus is a raid boss, and given that I only beat him on my ninth attempt means he destroyed the first eight different parties I went in with! Even the Neverwinter's mighty Tiamat only won four times before I broke her winning streak. Unlike Tiamat though there is no strategy to Klaus. It's pure skill and luck and if you have enough of both, he can be soloed.

This did let me study him quite a bit, and as a ranged character, I found out why he is so damned tough - because he is a crafty bastard and all his hits take out a ton of HP.

Two moves in particular are what would always get me:

First is his charge. Yup, he runs in a straight line from point A to point B. Sounds easy to evade right? Wrong. Point B is JUST BEFORE his target. He then shifts direction (if the target moved) and continues charging to point C - through said target, and anyone else in the way.  I would always dodge too early. It really has to be at the last split second that you move aside or he hits you with that giant horned helm.

Second is that he waves his magic mace/staff in the air. This actually sends out hard to see, translucent orbs at all players (+1) that SEEK. Again, you have to dodge at the last second, too early and it will track and hit you. Getting hit by any of these drain all your stamina, meaning you cannot run or dodge and making you pretty vulnerable to his charge which he likes to use right after. He also shoots an extra one, meaning someone has to dodge two translucent spheres. That final one not only drains your stamina but actually roots you to the spot.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Hercules (The Rock's Version)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Hercules is a pretty interesting take on the story of the rather well known greek demigod, and he makes an excellent lead in this sort of thing. Unlike Kevin Sorbo's version who pulls his punches, the Rock has no qualms about killing (and beheading) any enemies that threaten him, or his employers. Yup. This Hercules being a mere mercenary is just the start of rocking the boat to try throw off whatever expectations you brought in with you.

Or smashing them. As Hercules does. :P

Alas while the telling of the tale is an interesting one and the special FX are pretty damn good (I think the standard has raised because I keep saying this of most things now), the main plot is still pretty predictable and formulaic so don't get your hopes too high. Just enjoy it for the action flick that it is and you will be entertained. My only complaint is that there isn't enough on screen death of named characters, but I'm a little weird like that. I give it 2.5 out of 5.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Neverwinter Online: Tiamat has arrived!

I wasn't going to do a boss write-up today but this one seems to be needed at the moment. Despite the new and, as expected, grindy zone of the Well of Dragons being out for awhile it was only a few days ago did Tiamat actually begin trying to emerge from her temple (on the live server anyway).

Currently, the only requirement is that you can access the Well of Dragons to reach the temple to fight her. Doors open for 5 minutes every top of the hour. You will then get put into a small antechamber with 24 random players. Less random if you go in at the exact same second - use the count down timer to help with that.

The flames of your hate burn hotter than any of my breath attacks!

After the 5 minutes prep time in which you really should decide as a group if you are sending 5 people a head or zerging half and half, you will have 20 minutes to win. First step is kill the summoner (of your color - Rath Modar is "red"), take the dragon soul orb (of your color) and put it in a quick slot. Alternatively you can kill summoners 2 and 4 then jump to 1, 3 (Rath), and 5 which is supposedly quicker.

Remember to use this soul orb wisely as it will protect you and your allies from the otherwise insta-kill breath weapon of each head (and only the head of the matching color). Then kill cult leader Severin. All of this should be smooth sailing so go hard and go fast, ala the Dragon Herald zerg circuit. You'll know what that is when you hang around the Well of Dragons long enough.

The next part involves rounds of defending 3 clerics (Linu in the middle has the hardest time here) from demonic forces as they complete their spell to push Tiamat back in her hole. As clerics take damage their already slow filling progress meter is reduced. Use your best judgement and keep an eye on the progress bars to see who needs help. Ideally fight far away from the clerics too. If you stand at the edges you can make enemies throw themselves off for insta-kills which is great since all the adds are level 65 here.

When the cleric spell fires you have 2 minutes to damage each of the five heads as fast and as much as you can. Afterwards it becomes the cleric phase again then heads phase again and so on until you run out of time (at which point Elminster has to reverse time to cover your retreat) or you win.

How do you win? ALL FIVE heads must die in the SAME 2 minute gap. If any heads die early, they will be regenerated to 25% on the next cycle meaning you have just lost this hour's round for everyone. Characters also get various boons depending on how much treasure was recovered in the hour leading up to the temple doors opening but that is even more out of your control than this boss fight (unless you and your allies are crazy prepared), so just prep to fight without any boons. Health potions and injury kits aplenty are a good idea. :P

Tiamat is also one of the rare bosses in this game where adds should be ignored when the heads are open for attack. Nice going Cryptic!

Friday, 5 December 2014

NWO: Grey Wolf Den Boss


Since I've been doing write ups on all these Vindictus bosses I thought I'd put one up for Neverwinter Online too. Ethraniev Marrowslake is the final boss at Grey Wolf Den and like most other bosses in this game summons adds (additional monsters) to aid her when her health drops to particular intervals. Like most other bosses the golden rule applies:

"Kill the adds. If you kill the adds, you will win NWO."

Obviously if you can kill the adds WHILE hurting the boss that's even better!

Ethraniev deserves a special mention though because if she hits any foe with her sword she automatically summons two shadow wolves. Fortunately all her attacks are easily enough to read so just avoid that sword at all costs. Most importantly - stow your NPC companions as they do NOT evade and will only guarantee more wolves spawning!

Keep that in mind and she is easily soloable with a level appropriate character. Or you can just rock up with your level 60 and destroy her however you please. :P

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Vindictus: Monkeys in the Snow

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

The monkeys (yetis) in the Hoarfrost Depths also have some lessons they can teach you: Painful ones! Especially against the likes of the Yeti bosses, Big Horn and Rockjaw. You've already started to see bosses with combination attacks, but these guys are quite proficient at chaining them quickly forcing you to be quick with your wit and reflexes or to suffer the heavy damage from failure.


Practice reading them as it will make reading later bosses easier, especially with their jump and roll attacks - both of which usually happen in numerous succession. Future foes might look different, but the skeleton mesh used for the actions is the same.

As for the kobolds, they are the lesser threat here. I will mention that for the "Friendly Eweroch" who comes with two bear allies - kill the bears first while staying away from his ranged attacks. By the way, this technique of "kill the adds" is used for almost every single boss in Neverwinter Online. If you want to win that game, just kill the adds and you will win. Most of the time anyway. :P

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gravity (Review)

Space, the final frontier. It's beautiful. It's quiet. It's also effing boring. This film follows newbie astronaut Sandra Bullock as she and her comrades try to survive deadly space junk, in space.

Honestly we were so annoyed at the low skill level of her character is was at times frustrating, which is not good since the movie really is a character piece more than anything else. Fortunately there's a lot of awesome CGI to look at, because there's not much else going on here.

Apart from the "space junk attack action sequences" there is only one memorable, character building scene for me - and a ton of WTF is she doing / did she do that for scenes, followed by face palming.

If that's enough for you or you really like Sandra Bullock and/or George Clooney then you may still enjoy this rather slow motion picture. Apparently a lot of people did. I'm just not really one of them. I give Gravity 2 out of 5, and that's being generous because of the FX.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Vindictus: Lessons from Vampires

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

Once you've managed to get past the two "tutorial" zones and finally find yourself in the perpetually burning town of Ainle (I wonder if the last "e" is silent) you will finally be facing your first fast moving -normal- opponents, the vampires. Yes, I think they run slightly faster than the kobold axe-zerkers you previously met in Hoarfrost Hollow but they still shouldn't pose much a problem.

Two of the boss vampires though have useful mechanics to get used to right away. The first is "The Knight" who is the boss of the mission "Being from the Other World". Sure he has a sword, but in my experience (as a Kai) he certainly enjoys casting fireball with his other hand. This orb tracks you and explodes on impact. Lots of the later bosses have a similar mechanic with the tracking orb, so it's good to practice against him here. The two important points of this are:

Don't dodge too early (or too late, duh), and avoid sloped ground as it will screw up your timing since the orb will explode sooner.

Likewise the second boss I want to talk about is "The Blood Lord" who likes to vanish into a cloud of bats and suddenly appear on top of someone. Again, this move is used with slight graphical difference but pretty much same effect by a few bosses later on.

Just look at those claws.

The lesson to learn here is simply to RUN when the bad guy vanishes, preferably away from your allies, and prepare to dodge if he does choose to pick on you. As a Kai who is constantly shooting from a distance this is really the only move you have to worry about from this otherwise slow and easily readable fellow.