Hitting 20

Hitting 20 doing something new/old

Back in the day, before Epic levels, there was Shavaraths battlefield. The highest level quests with the top level wilderness. And I cut my teeth soloing there first with my FVS and later on my ranger and other toons. I had the path pat down. I hit all the explorer using a familiar loop and even did all the slayer at some point.

But since Eveningstar and all the new content I have not visited the area, unless the new Shavarath quests counts – but then you never have to run the wilderness to do them.

I had 1 bubble left and I had done most of the Eveningstar ones. To tell you the truth I was tired of doing the same harper stuff to eek out the final few levels. I’d done enough the past week to make me feel exhausted. Mostly because I don’t find them inspiring at all. And after hitting Wheelon and such the harper ones are dreary.

So I figured I try something else. And out to Shavarath wilderness I went – a perfect place to raid with an Arti because of the Li 2 GS repeater and the ability to add silver to the damage through Arti buffs.

I vaguely remembered how I normally did things but once you start running muscle memory took over and soon enough I had hit all the vital spots, done 4 rare out of 12, all 14 explorer and tallied up almost 600 slayer. And as I did the final pit fiend – the devil that can snare you with chains (see image) I hit 20 and after looting the chest I was out of there.

It was fun to reminisce over things that were. It was fun doing the whole run and how different the experience was from those early days when I feared some of the red/orange named. And it was interesting how hitting some areas I could remember past adventures – from entering quests to good runs.

So much of that is lost due to more content and more efficient ways of getting stuff done. That’s not a bad thing – adding more content is good. But it is also digging into so many years of fun. We’re fewer now.

I remember times when the guild ship was overrun by people buffing. Every public area had dozen of people running around. Now when I enter these old areas I don’t really see anyone. It’s like having the universe for yourself.

taking break

My Gnome artie – almost 20

I’ve spent a lot of time lately playing other games like World of Tanks. Not because I’ve given up on DDO – on the contrary – but because the events that conspired that turned DDO into slower than molasses sorta sucked all the fun out of it.

It’s not entirely out of the weeds yet; at times there will be lag but not crippling. And I haven’t tried raids yet so I don’t know if everything is somewhat similar – not crippling but sorta annoying.

That killed my entire mood for the 10th Anniversary. I made some stuff, but not nearly as much as I wanted. I just didn’t feel like doing any of it. The irony of then jumping into WOT and experience the feral children and a game in crisis with a server population that is crumbling and worsening balance issues seems quaint compared to DDOs problems. But for all the frustration the servers function. I’m not lagging out and while some days are just horrible with teams that crumble within minutes because of the tremendous problems, it’s still functional. And it’s a breather of sort.

But I’m still playing DDO. And I’m inching towards 20.

What you come to miss doing Arti compared to an arcane caster is reliable insta killing and CC. Sure, Arti got some but it’s not as good or as destructive as dancing balls and arcane nukes.

It takes quite a little longer to destroy mobs using rune arms and crossbows. And considering how deep the investment into the gnome racial tree goes – it also removes some of the investments into Arti SLAs – some of which works nicely. The trade off is a stronger repeater with better crit range – making casting weaker in turn. This is clear when I compare my regular Arti and this build. Blast Rod for example is an excellent and useful SLA providing close to 1k in damage with an AOE/Cone shaped short ranged attack. But useful in combination with tactical detonation. That is also true in some respect with lighting sphere. Altho lightning sphere is slower and a little bit more situational, it is a good cheap spell to use in combination with everything else.

But that’s alright. I’m not trying to build another Arti – I’m just running up the third Iconic Gnome life and then most likely back to Warlock.

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Update 31 – Now on Lammania – spolier warning!

It’s that time of year again with new changes and new content as per the release notes.

There are currently only 2 of the 3 quests up for review and as far as I can tell they’re not completely done. Particularly ‘Search and Rescue’.

Both quests are fairly lengthy and both comes in heroic and Epic flavor. For the heroic version it seems to be different levels and I’m not entirely sure if that’s true with the Epic stuff as well. 1 of the quests – based out of Harbor using the same quest as missing. That’s the one you end up fighting a chaos beholder running around pretending to be a warforged. The entire quest have been used as far as I can tell with some slight modifications. And this time you’re entering it after you cleansed it from the squid face creations and now it’s a bazaar for merchants.

You will end up pretty much checking out the entire area for the 3 items you need and there are also 2 red named options – one being a Umber Hulk.

And speaking of Umber Hulks – you will encounter plenty of them in Search and Rescue, a quest that seems to have been created from scratch. Now this one I really like because it feels like a Dungeons and Dragons quest. It’s long, it includes several milieus and most of all optional quests.

You start out in a canyon, romps through some kind of tempe – end up in a cave system and can even do an option thing (not completed) in underdark. All in all, several diverse environments. And it ends with a nice little fight as well against an iconic D&D monster.

I haven’t had the chance to check out Kensei, but from I can tell they’re making it more a solid DPS tactical warrior will lots of good reasons to multiclass.

 

Finally not sick

I took April 1 off (no joke). It was also the first day of me getting sick. And as it usually goes it didn’t approve. Anytime quickly. By Monday I felt awful, Tuesday was terrible and then I was a puddle by Wednesday. Thursday I felt somewhat better and went back to work – just to get a sinus infection right after a bad cold and decided to be off Friday.

Then steadily got much better over the weekend and by Sunday I was finally at level 30 with my then Gnome Archmage wiz – and now a level 1 wiz/14 Arti. It’ll be 1/19 by the time I’m done.

My goal is to finish off the 3 Gnome past lives for +3 DC in Ill. I’m already done with the 3 wiz past lives (did 1 before Gnome came out a long time ago). I’m going to miss the PK dualist and might have to revisit him with a different toon.

My new arti isn’t bad but then arti in heroic is pretty enjoyable. Altho he might not have all the good repeaters, there are plenty of okay light ones throughout the process.

I did make one GS repeater tho – a Li II one so I could take advantage of the Gnome light weapon line.

I owe SexyDeamon/SexyDemon (or something like that on Argo) great thanks for giving me the last 2 large glowing arrowheads so I could complete tier 3. What a terrific player. It’s like I’ve said in the past; DDO have some of the best communities.

I’m currently using the greater force rune arm from the gold store and the level 15 (normal) Corrupted Nature. That works nicely with the many items I have that provide boosts to both acid and impulse. Such as the cannith challenge boots. Or a ring with impulse. Or sages braces for kinetic lore etc. And also the glaciation clothing from the cannith challenge. It’s not directly useful for the purpose of spell power (not exactly a boost to arti spell requirements) but it does have lesser freezing ice that provides a chance to freeze something solid even with ranged weapons.

I did experience some horrific lag during some solo runs Sunday so I didn’t get to do much, but it’s nice once more to be able to do traps and such without relying on hirelings.

Speaking of light repeaters. There are currently some great choices outside heroic greensteel. Such as Double crossbow out of Web of Chaos.Either the BTA one (level 16) or the Epic (level 20). There’s also. Epic Hellfire out of Chronosphere. The doublecrossbow is as far as I can tell superior to the much aged Hellfire. But it might be a question of not having the items to create one (in this case I do believe I have both).

You also have Slaver’s Hand Crossbow (21). That one should be readily available on the AH – If not I’m sure most have some in their bank. And if not it shouldn’t be hard to get as an chain end reward.

Needle is of course the best light crossbow for its level (23). It’s out of MotU raid – a raid that no longer runs. You could get it out of the 10th year anniversary give away so if you (unlike I) were planning your future reincarnations and whatnot you would also have that one in your bank. Alas I don’t. Which is unfortunate since it’s such a great repeater.

And finally – if you have enough materials there’s always at least a tier 2 thunderforged (level 26). That would keep you from 15 to 30 without issue.

 

str plus 10

In time for +2 loot bonus, lets talk random gen loot

With u29, Turbine decided to not only add the much requested Legendary Shroud but also revamp the random loot system.

This included, but not limited too, not only a substantially addition of new effects but also a on where those effects could spawn. You could almost see it as a redux to the much more diverse loot system released with Menace of the Underdark and later refined in packs after it.

If you follow the timeline of changes of random loot you have the mostly vendor trash up until MotU, followed by an interesting combination of effects and diversification until Shadowfell and then a contraction of many popular effects until U29.

So what’s the big hub bub about this?

First, some of it can be really powerful. Particularly when compared to similar named gear. When you go back to the first ‘change’ of random loot in the MotU era the issue wasn’t so much that the random loot was more powerful than named. But that it was more diverse in effects. Shadowfell offered the great ghost baneing of gear (I’ll get back to that) but this was pretty much evident already in the pre MotU loot world. Most of the items outside named just weren’t all that good. And certainly couldn’t match named items.

This didn’t change in MotU – what happened was instead a diversification of items where rings, helmets and such could contain effects that you generally only found on say handheld items and mostly on named. Such as spell power. This was a great change since the spell power did reflect same or lower than say a named item, but it could spawn on items that usually didn’t come with it. Again, most effects were slightly below or on rare occasions the same as named items – but generally with fewer effects.

That changed in a major way with Shadowfell. First; the ghost baneing of loot is in reference to how particularly handhelds went from having a diverse amount of different special effects to mostly have ghost bane on it. after shadowfell the amount of effects didn’t just shrink dramatically (gone were spellpower on items for example) but what you often pulled was very powerful and not that diverse.

Such as plenty of items with deadly of accuracy – a rare effect reserved to only a few named items and at a much lower amount and ghost bane on almost all weapons. Killing off the many added and cool combinations that came onto the scene after MotU.

There are reasons for this of course – something I won’t spend much time with here – but it’s safe to say that the legacy of Shadowfeel – not only as a subpar expansion, really killed off not only random item diversity but also named items in one swell swoop.

But if we go back to the featured image – finding +10 strength gloves at level 21 sorta kills off a lot of named items that lack diversity in themselves. Another problem that first started with Shadowfell (believe it or not) and now have accelerated with random loot.

Let me explain; if we set aside power creep – a favorite subject for some – most of the items in circulation (up until Shadowfell and particularly now) were old Epic items.

The old Epic system ranges from named raid gear to that of regular quest packs. This used to form the foundation of the level cap at 20 – where people running with Green steel would eventually craft the more sought after Epic items. Epic items for example were the only things with augment slots before that system was altered under the great Epic Gianthold pack (and subsequently killed almost right after with Shadowfell).

This was also the foundation gear for the Epic reincarnation runs after MotU expanded the level cap. This has certainly changed somewhat, but before Shadowfell most epic reincarnation would include the vaunted Abashai set for the ones who had the luxury of grind or the many other times from different Epic pacs to the more rare items like Epic Sword of Shadow (which thankfully have not found a similar equal yet).

Now – there are still items with some value – Epic Abashai set included (because of sacred +3 bonus to strength and con) but for almost all other items both Shadowfell and now this system spells death. And while Shadowfell with autogranted sage and such gear ended most of the old Epic, this new system have definitely also tanked some of the mid Epic stuff – with +10 strength level 21 item that’ll is better than almost all named gear (save some with more effects) than anything up until level 28 named gear and raid gear.

And this plus 10 isn’t even the best you can find. There are items with even better effects that you can find in this level gap – making old epic gear all but useless.

But believe me or not; this is actually not about ‘dooom’. Quite the opposite; while this might be the side effect of a new gear convention and further fuel the discussion about power creep – I find the new gear very useful and I love the diversity.

magnetism outfit

Take this outfit. Seemingly useless for most part and certainly not the best example. But it illustrates a significant change in how we view items. This used to be reserved for named items only.  Spell power on items used to be reserved for sticks (and briefly on helmets and rings) and on armor only named. Now you can find it on all type of armor – not only providing more diversity in all levels (if you have a hard time combining spell power in specific level gabs and where armor isn’t much of a consideration).

This is especially important when you look at the (what was used to) hard to slot impulse and kinetic lore.

There were precisely 1 armor or item with impulse prior to this change. Sure, you could find kinetic lore on say the sage bracers, but most impulse items were either sticks (and that can be an issue for an Arti) or 1 armor and one orb.

Now you can find it on armor, handhelds, gloves, rings etc – making it increasingly easy to find ways to find your needs in classes with many restrictions.

combat master docent

That is also true with the much harder to slot enhancement to tactical DC. For the longest time you could only find this on rare named items, some very rare old epic items and recently on some significantly needed named items such as the boots out of Epic Macabre. Since the addition of additional tactical feats for fighters, we’ve also seen more named items with it and now on random gen loot. Not only on handhelds, but here as docent and many other types of things. Such as specific stunning for helmets, to the more encompassing Combat Mastery on this docent.

Again – making it easier for people to fit their needs in many type of items, but also making some of the more rare named items useless (the level 21 drow rings comes to mind).

But there are also interesting spawns and outright fails (still – I have a rare reminder of that on one of my mules. an item with 3 clicks of feather falling of featherfalling).

 

insightful fort of insightful fort

I’m fairly sure this does not stack. I haven’t tried and I probably sold it already.

 

vorpal mace

Then we have interesting things like this. A vorpal mace with tendon slicing in what looks like a completely round mace.

I like this one. Would love to find a use for it and I can only imagine the backstory.

So is there anything bad outside power creep and making named items redundant?

First, there’s still an issue of items with +0 effects. Particularly on lower levels but it is a shrinking list since most of them are being fixed. And then there is the spell powering of sticks. It’s increasingly rare to find hand held items without spell power effects. This might seem like a small problem when dealing with daggers and scepters, but it gets a little goofy when you find it on a majority of 2 handed items and things like bows and repeaters. That in itself lowers the usability of hand held items if you find an item with say improved vorpal but comes with a spell power effect that is entirely useless for you.

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Hitting 21

I hit 20 Saturday and took a break Monday. Altho I did manage to knock out another level in some early content. Primarily the idea is to follow the same path to 30 then turn around and do a 4/16 wiz/arti for the final Deep Gnome past life.

I’m already working on a GS light repeater (two large arrows short) that’ll take me to 20 (with the help of the doublecross bow both BTA and later Epic). I really don’t want to start loading up on BTC repeaters since I’m going to have to reincarnate after that into most likely Warlock again (or Maybe Favored Soul). Last thing I need is more stuff to try to store in order to empty reinc cache.

I really wish they had a smarter system in place for the process.

fdbc9-crown

10th Year anniversary, 2015 and such in retrospect

I’m not going to lie. It didn’t take long for this event to get soiled and because of the mess I haven’t really gotten into the spirit of grinding it. I did pick up the named item for most of my guys, but as far as grinding mats – not exactly dogmatic.

I understand that ‘the move’ was probably already set in stone. Like many of the releases so far. Such as the bungled u29 and the other ones prior to that like the marred Temple of Elemental Evil.

But it’s still a pretty impressive schedule if you look at the productive updating of the game. 1 new thing per quarter.

2015 was like that; lost of promises of great things, questionable execution, impressive ambitions, but ultimately stumbling across the board.

From ToEE and what first like like a premier experience just to feel like endless creature confrontations.

To Raids such as DOJ and now Legendary Shroud. DOJ being marred by terrible lag (before it was common place) and Legendary Shroud plauged by not only a rollback due to a bugged new random item system but also with many broken features due to lack of serious polish.

What can we expect from an aging game with a smaller community? Personally – we’re blessed with so much content and sort of delusional about what to expect from a group of Devs working so hard to give us much needed fresh content.

I want to be excited for DDO. I love the game. But the real problem in my honest opinion isn’t the snafus and the problems; it is that as DDO shrinks and the Devs work with the resources we have, we get increasingly unbalanced content that really isn’t all that fun.

Creeping death is terrible. Not because it has a small jumping game, a small puzzle game and some pipe jumping and endless corridors that are trapped. Normally that would be the boring part of me. But it’s refreshingly devoid of endless mobs of super kobolds and trite arcane oozes. I can’t tell you how terrible that is. You can guess what I feel, but it’s hard to describe the feeling other than chewing on a tough piece of bland meat.

Cursing the Sky is only slightly better. It’s a little less of the same, altho you will fight hordes of devils, orthons and Abashai in each turn. They’re just not so unreasonably silly in SR (Kobolds) and immunities and DR (like arcane oozes). Again, evident of lack of serious polish.

And there’s nothing wrong with the look of the dungeons. Not even Creeping Death. However as Turbine struggle with making content, they also lose the entire big picture. All content after ToEE have been without wilderness areas and with direct teleports to the quests themselves. And that’s fine. I personally like teleports there. But there’s something about the context of an experience that gets lost as we lose the big picture around it.

There’s nothing wrong with the items either. Some really terrific heroic and Epic/Legendary gear. But it feels like all context is gone. The big experience. That feel of fantasy that I always get each time I run through Kings forest.

Heck, even that of Shavarath – running the old level 19 stuff. A whole wilderness connecting several quests. And for the Legendary experience we get a direct teleport into something, without the connection to it.

Again – I understand why. Lack of resources.

But with it, we also lose that ‘great’ feeling. A feeling of connection. Context. High fantasy and adventure. What I feel instead is a quick port into a run for ‘stuff’. And that is why I feel less for the content of 2o15, despite some of them being well designed dungeons, than much of the prior content. Lets see if 2016 can change all that once we get an handle on crippling lag.