April 5, 2007

Death, Taxes, and Where the heck do I hunt?

Benjamin Franklin once said that “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Well here we are in Vanguard, in a glass cage of emotion, debating the good old mechanics of death again. I guess Ben Franklin was a gamer!

Apparently the Sigil Dev team is not going to follow through with the proposed changes to the death penalty system. I guess I was in the minority in believing that it wasn’t really a big change. I don’t want to rant and vent about the death system, because I wouldn’t be able to do it nearly as well as others. But apart from the fact that death would take a little less experience, I’d be willing to bet that the new system they were planning to implement wouldn’t change how most players have been coping with death, because the only real change they were making is taking out the whole concept of bind stones.

There must be some data out there to tell how many players actually are using bind stones on their gear. I’m willing to bet that it’s a tiny fraction, and that many people don’t even know what they are. Brad McQuaid also has mentioned several times that lots of players aren’t aware of altars, and that there is a false assumption that you must fight back to your corpse.

The current death system is just not being used as it was envisioned. Few people bind their gear, fewer carry a second set as backup, and if people do fight back to their tombstones, it’s most likely to recover their gear, rather than regain the lost exp. Putting in essences streamlines the death experience, rather than dumb it down.

The problematic part of the new death system was the issue it would create with bindable gear competing against crafted gear on the brokers. People that were binding their gear before would no longer do so, and that would mean even more of it would have hit the broker. That could be easily remedied with the “Bind on Equip” system of WoW, or the attunement system of EQ2. (same thing different names) In any case, it’s interesting to see yet another debate about death in online gaming!

On another note, I bet if Benjamin Franklin were a mmorpg gamer he’d amend his quote to say that the only things certain are death, taxes, and the eternal question, “where the heck do I hunt?” With a world as large as Telon, and resources scattered around on tons of fansites, it’s hard to know where to go at what level. The Vanguard Dungeon Finder and Sypher’s Spawn Maps are great resources, as are the recently updated Silky Venom Wiki, and Curse Gaming’s quest database, but there are a few spots that seem to get overlooked, and are great areas to check out. Here are a few nice spots that helped me get through my early and mid 20s.

Vampire Slayer Village/Ulla’s Tower: (Thestra) These are two nice spots to pick up quests that can be done solo in your early 20s. The Vampire Slayer Village offers a quest to hunt over at Veshka’s Monastery, a great little spot if you are looking for easy pull, level 19, 2 dot mobs. Ulla’s Tower sends you to a poacher camp that also has level 19ish mobs, although these are 3 dots.

Coastal Graveyard: (Thestra) This is a nice spot for soloing and duoing in the early 20s. If you’re into “grinding” type quests, check out the quests at Alicia’s Graveyard, as well as the Wrenfold Bandits quests and two good quests that involve killing the ghosts of all the shipwrecked sailors on the coast (Ghostly Grog and Haunted Lighthouse). These involve killing mobs that are 3 dot, 20ish mobs. If you’re into traveling, there’s a quest that asks you to visit three lighthouses located along the cliffs, where you can then pick up even more quests. (make sure to check out the Neighbor Coast Lighthouse – you literally have to hop the fence to get in).

Above: The effects of the Sirens – Coastal Graveyard.

If you have a partner or a small group, check out the sirens just off shore. (It’s no wonder there are so many wrecked ships nearby!). There is a quest NPC on a rock near the island that gives a few quests, and a goblin on the shore that asks you to hunt for ingredients on the island. The sirens and hags are 3 dot, level 22-24ish mobs, and they run so it’s good to have snare. There is also a nice little “event” you can trigger from the quest, where you can summon Maera, boss hag of Siren Island. She has friends though, so you’ll definitely need a good group for it.

Also, since you are in the area, if you have time, check out the Deebs for a fun quest called “Making a Splash in the Deebs,” given out by Guard Abery on the north western bridge. If you were the kind of person in EQ that would jump into a pool of water to try to pickup 1k copper that someone sadistically dropped there, you will love this quest.

Above: The view from the Deebs Bridge. I’m about to make a splash!

The Guard will ask you to jump through three wisp rings and return to him for a reward of one copper. The jump is hilariously fun, as long as you don’t hit the rocks below, but it takes for freaking ever to run all the way around the cliff to get back up to him. It’s a cool spot, if you have time to kill!

Shrine of the Flame: (Thestra) This is hard to find, but it’s just to the east off the road as you leave Three Rivers and turn south towards New Targonar. There are a few quests here to kill Ahsendregs, given by the fairies at the shrine. I just noticed this spot, but it looks like the quests are for level 23ish, and the Ashendregs seem to be 2 dot mobs around level 25ish.

Above: Shrine of the Eternal Flame in the moonlight.

Trengal Keep: (Thestra) I wrote about this dungeon before, and while it’s a great place for a group, it also has a lot of quests that a small group can do in the mid 20s, or someone soloing could do in their late 20s. The nice thing about this spot is that you have plenty to do, so even if you are waiting for a group you can still kill a few spiders in the meteors nearby, or pick off some of the Gulgrethor orcs that patrol the area, and grab a little extra experience as well as some decent rewards. Just watch out for those Ebon Drakes!

Those are a few spots that I have enjoyed in my 20s. There are plenty of places to go though, and I’m constantly annoying my guildmates by rambling on and on about things I want to see and do. The abundance of things to do, combined with the fact that there is no one path to progression, makes the game great, but also makes it challenging to find out where to go. Hopefully this provides a few more options, and some nice alternatives to the Donovan’s Roost/Infineum route. I’d love to hear of any other good hunting spots for the 20s, so feel free to share some!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 20-25 | Comments (2)

March 29, 2007

To Infineum and Beyond!

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Thestra lately, but the lure of Infineum keeps pulling me back to Qalia.

Above: Some guildies from Revelry and Honor taking in the view after receiving their Infineum cloaks. We look good in grey!

It seems that there’s some disturbing stuff going on in the Infineum Mines. I have only done part of the questline so far, but apparently there is a group of Infineum Cultists that have managed to enthrall some slaves, who are mining infineum for them to be used in various ways. Kronus Infineum, their leader, has somehow managed to slip the bonds of time and become and eternal entity.

Because Infineum carries mysterious properties, the cultists have found ways to forge weapons and armor with it. They also seem to be working on a way to build infineum golems that harness the power of dead cultists, which could be disastrous if they manage that on a large scale.

With a threat that large, there’s a lot to do! The Infineum questline has several parts (I’m on step 5 right now), with some fun fights and interesting twists. Right now, for example, I am donning a cultists robe and mingling with them in order to figure out how they forge their weapons. I’m sure the pointy ears and sticks in my hair would never give away the fact that I’m not a human like them! /nod

Above: Yes, we’re Infineum Cultists, don’t look at me like that!

I’m not good at posting walkthroughs, but I’ll offer a few tips here that my guild and I learned the hard way. I’d also recommend, though, that you check out a walkthrough at VG Bards (must register to see all of their forums, but I highly recommend it, there’s lot of good game info there), and a good entry about the cloak quest from Silverstep over at MMO Quests, a nice gaming blog. There are a lot of write ups out there, but these are the two that I found most helpful.

The Famous Fubared Fight: This is the first major encounter you face when doing the first part of the Infineum Questline, also known as the “cloak quest.” You’ve talked to Warder Pondar, you found the runaway slave (who is tucked in the rocks at the west side of the mines entrance), and you are set up outside the tent of the cruel Captain who has lured and enslaved others into mining infineum. The Fubared fight has been, well, fubared in a number of ways since launch, but a lot of the bugs are gone now, and the fight has been made much easier.

If you have multiple groups doing this encounter, there are two things you need to make sure not to do. First, make sure that the person who talks to Fubared is someone who is on that step of the quest, otherwise he will poof and you have to wait another 15 minutes for him to respawn. It’s no biggie, but if someone who has finished the quest talks to him, you will have to wait a little longer.

The other thing is to make sure that if multiple groups are there, the only group that should damage Fubared is the group that is aiming for the quest credit. During the fight, Fubared calls for his guards twice, bringing two adds with him each time. When he does that, he resets ownership, meaning if another group is doing damage to him, they can unintentionally get ownership later in the fight. So if you take a couple of guild groups there, or you meet up with another group that is at the spot, make sure that the extra groups only kill the adds, and not Fubared.

The Book and Quiz: For a while, the second part of the Infineum Quest line required you to seek out a book, and answer questions correctly based on lore. For whatever reason, the quiz is no longer part of the quest. So once you find the book, you just click it, and then grab a quest from the book on the floor.

The Trevorak Fight: This is for the quest “Vengeance,” which is part of the Infineum Ring quest. You’re tasked with killing Recruiter Trevorak, and this fight can be a little tricky if you aren’t heads up. When you have cleared around the Recruiter and start the fight, she brings four adds immediately. You’ll need some crowd control or off tanking in order to handle it, although some write ups mention kiting too. (I’m not a big kiting fan). If you have more than one group working on this part, the second group can only help by healing the first group. The encounter is locked so outside groups can’t do damage. If you can get control of the encounter early, though, the fight is very simple.

Finding Acadd: Maybe it was just us, but it took us forever to find Mineralogist Acadd. I blame that dumb gnome Donovan, who sent us west when he should have said south. Anyway, if anyone else has trouble, you can find Acadd by going south through the Infineum Mines, to the opening of the southern mines.

Above: Mineralogist Acadd. And to think, all this time, I was wandering around the Infineum mines with nothing but a bow and some leather, while Acadd has to sport this gnomish suit for protection. I think I need to have a sit down with that gnome Donovan.

Overall, this quest line has been perfect for a guild like ours. We’re a small guild of seasoned, yet mellow gamers. The Infineum questline offers us enough challenge to keep us on our toes, but it doesn’t involve long timesinks (at least so far!) that would suck us into a more hardcore playstyle that doesn’t fit our real life schedules. The rewards are also nice for anyone in their twenties, and I saw plenty of people lfg for various parts of the quests, so it tends to be a nice spot to find pickup groups.

Now if I could only find a way to get myself one of those funky suits that Acadd wears….

*Edit* Adding in another, and more thorough, walkthrough here at Vanguard Rangers.

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 20-25 | Comments (3)

March 20, 2007

Sometimes the Bear Bites You

“Sometimes you bite the bear, and sometimes the bear bites you.”

The bear is definitely biting me right now. Last week, I was outside, basking in the sun, watching my son walk on grass for the first time, and trying to catch up to my daughter, who was doing a great impression of Mia Hamm. The kids and I got to rock out to “Real Gone,” while we played with the sandbox.

Today, we have about a foot of frozen snow all over everything, and it’s below freezing outside. I can’t even take the kids outside to play because the snow is about as hard as pavement right now. I’m so done with winter!

At least I can get away from it all in Vanguard right? Wrong! By the way, anyone who turns to MMORPGs to get away from the stress of real life is setting themselves up for a big letdown. I keep rediscovering that fact every so often.

Over the weekend, a group of us went back over to finish that quest at the lizard village in Strand of the Ancients, but bagged it early on because there is some kind of bug with the war banners that drop from the named. We killed two or three named, and none dropped the banner, so we gave up and moved on. I’m so done with bugged lizards!

We tried going down into Pantheon of the Ancients, but decided to leave after seeing the levels of the mobs down there. We met a friendly guy, though, who seems to be the custodian of the dungeon. I think he needs to get out more though. Maybe he’s been snowed in too.

We popped into Imanj Sanctellum to see if we could crawl around a little and work on a quest that we had gotten at the Garrison. After about 10 minutes of seeing only greys, we headed out. This is a nice spot for a group in their late teens/early 20s however. And there is a decent earring quest given out, called Failure of Imanj I think.

Since we were fairly close, I pestered the group to check out Skawlra Rock, a cool, but chaotic, spot that can be found if you swim through a little cave on the south side of the island. There are a couple of quests that you can get from the NPCs on the sandy beach just near the island, and one of them gives a nice chest piece for someone in their mid 20s.

We buffed up, glanced up the ramp at the mob con, and were confident that we had finally found a good spot for a night’s work of dungeon crawling.

Thirty minutes later, we were summoning our corpses and calling it a night. I think fatigue set in, and it would have helped to have a crowd control class with us. Overall, this was one of those times where the bear bit us.

On an upbeat note, we did explore that neat citadel just off shore near Strand of the Ancients. It’s full of angry cyclops, and at the top were some black clouds and two named. Basically it was like fighting a tower full of Master Blasters. It’s a good spot if you are looking for level 21-23 four dot mobs. (Nameds were 5 dot I think)

We’ve also been running guildmates through the Lyceum this week, now that the items are tradable. So far, everyone’s been able to get a great upgrade, although it usually takes some switching around to get an appropriate reward for all. The common item seems to be Ghaldrid’s Ebony Scalemail, and I’m now the proud owner of three of them! So if anyone on the Thunderaxe server can use one, and has been flagged as having killed Ghaldrid, look me up!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 20-25 | Comments (2)

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