Monthly Archives: February 2011

One lesson learned, another ignored.

Mabar had a raid made up by the unruly mob. There’s a reason why people are somewhat selective in raids. We don’t want so called DPS to show up with candle sticks and costing a completion or a whole party wipe.  I know, it’s just time, but time that could have been better spent with people who have a clue and don’t think Epic is best done in shorts and 200 HP.

Gone is the raid format and it’s now a group event; to be done with hirelings, solo or any size group.  So that’s good. The question is of course how it scales and if going from one level to the next does anything other than scale both rewards, XP and critter HP and damage. It’s good that Turbine is offering so many reviews so we can better help them balance the effect. Except for the fact that the biggest problem with Mabar have not changed.

Have you ever run slayer? For XP? Like kill 3000 something and get a nice bunch of XP? That’s a grind isn’t it? You toil sweat and torment and eventually have it. Mabar is about getting fingerbones and such. In the first version it dropped like cup cakes. You didn’t really have to get that thing that made it drop motes, but it was a way of reduce some grind. This event have map pieces. Turn in 20k and unlock pirate cove, the real reason you run the event (just as the dragon raid was the reason you ran Mabar). Crystal cove is 10 times better. More fun, more controlled and random enough to make tactics only 80 percent fool proof.

But you still have to grind.

Given the fact that you have to pull 1700 shards to fully upgrade a item and tons more to fully upgrade hat and trinket and whatnot, map pieces is just one of those things that pours a big bucket of hot grease ontop of everything.

I get it. In Epic you have to find scroll, seal and shard. But trust me – I can probably get whatever I like Epic wise quicker than a fully upgraded item. Because I can run a epic once a day, trade scrolls for other items and even roll on seals and shards. Put it like this; you’re doing good if you pull about 100-150 shards in one crystal cove. Want to do that 10-15 times more to upgrade one single item (provided you never fail and always get that average) and meanwhile want to wait 2-4 hours for the event to unlock in between?

That’s the lesson ignored. Grind is one thing. It’s part of life and DDO. But 10+ hours mindless grinding for one item, that’s not fun. Some people say that you would appreciate the item better in that case but do you really feel you appreciate a green steel item you made after you had sh!tty luck pulling the right mats? Personally I feel more appreciative of anything if it really felt like I had accomplished something. Running shroud for 3-4 weeks is not a journey, It’s running through the motions.

Completing a hard fought Epic quest and pull that looked after seal is. Soloing a high end quest with many close calls and getting skunked is even more motivating that, clonk, heal and repeat.

So how do you make it feel like you’re working towards a goal? That’s the balance here. Just remove one single item of grind. If people want dabloons and gems they can run the public area for pirates, but remove the map pieces. Make it once every 1 or 2 hours. The grind is in getting enough crystals anyways, not in slicing pirates over and over. That should be a side event, not a must. Better yet – remove any dabloon or gem drop from the crystal cove and add it to public area. So you’re forced to spend some time there to get those items. Furthermore, add so that the maps you get from the public area (treasure) only shows up in this cave. In other words, you do the treasure hunt inside the crystal cove cave, giving you a reason to run the public area and making it rewarding to explore the cave. And finally add a way to extend the timer with up to another 10 minutes. Be it via drops, or sacrifice of crystals or something. Maybe killing a red named and getting a random time drop. Randomness adds flavor and avoid staleness. Just as we run shroud because we might get the material we need, not because we like to beat up a pit fiend.

Make it fun and make us forget the grind.

Do anyone out there built to hit not so hard?

What’s heavy DPS?

The reason why I haven’t had the chance to run certain quests is that some LFMs have started to ask for heavy DPS. As suppose to regular DPS that is. Ironically by people who seem to think that you can only get heavy DPS from Monks, Barbarians and Fighters. Anything else isn’t heavy DPS.

I’ve seen rogues lead in kills due to their sneak attack and I generally lead in kills on my Ranger in most quests. If it’s Epic I can autocrit kill faster than most builds, simply because at that time it’s all about crit DPS. And if I crit faster around 190+ or someone crit slower around 280+ I usually comes out ahead. On top of that I have multi arrows. That’s 4 arrows (that hits pretty much everything that’s lined up) that hits every tick for 20 seconds. Plus as a Tempest III I have a 100% hit chance on my off chance, unlike the 80% chance for anyone else (GTWF). Add to that the ability to self heal reliably around 75 HP without Superior Ardon and 130 HP with and I get 40-50 HP from a cure serious potion (I have the entire heal amp enhancement line, 20% on my ToD ring and the Epic gloves of the claw for 30%). I also have 2 con op items and if I want too, the torc. That will help me regenerate lost SP for self healing. In other words, I’m usually the last person standing when the so called heavy DPS falls first.

With rage, madstone double rage, rams might and Jurgondal’s collar (or whatever) I’ll crit for around 150+ with my Khopeshes and 190+ with my picks. I usually use my earthgrab picks in Epics but can easily switch over to a Min II and my Con Op Khopesh if needed. I’m looking to make a pair of Li II weapons too – don’t know if they’re going to be picks or Khopeshes but I’ve seen them in action and it’s pretty darn effective DPS. And I’m eventually going to add a earth grab bow to my Li II and I’m also wanting to make a Epic collapsible short bow for the additional crit range and force burst effect.

The question I have to ask is this; what’s heavy DPS? Is it the effect of someone knowing that heavy DPS means fully raged barbarian or is it the misconception that someone THINKS it’s the barbarians. It’s no question that pound for pound barbarians, monks and fighters might hit harder. But it’s really not a superior advantage in Epic. In fact pound for pound my Ranger only lose the kill score to a two weapon fighting DPS build that use LI II weapons due to the much higher damage when the Lightning strike procs.

I would probably have about similar score if I also used those weapons. But I’m also trying to auto crit critters that is not held, such as casters that are being danced, using my earth grab picks. I’ll let others handle held critters. It’s part of the strategy of avoiding excessive damage and no healer have to nanny me due to myself heal ability and if they do need to heal me they’re going to get a lot for their SP.

It’s not the first time this have happened. And because my rangers name is Rapidshotta (I was toying about using a repeater as shooter for a while but I was always going to make it tempest, plus I was inspired by the awesomeness of many shot) a lot of people assume that I’m AA.

But that doesn’t explain heavy DPS. I personally assume that all DPS is heavy – I don’t think anyone build around having light DPS, unless they’re not really DPS specced. Like my FvS. True, I can cast a mean blade barrier but I’ve really worked to boost his DC on his Symbol of Persuasion. So much that I like to Solo ADQ1 (at least for farming seals) by having critters drop into the scorpion pit and then using a symbol on them to see if I can charm something and have them slug it out. For most part it works but I think I will be even more successful if I manage to boost it 2-3 more points.

My half orc is pure ‘heavy’ DPS. I either use a Epic Antique Great Axe or a Li II. With his +8 str Kensei II boost, the strength boost from Titan gloves and his higher strength he’ll crit around 300+ on a good day, but swinging a axe is certainly slower than 2 weapons. Plus he’s at the mercy of the healer in the group. And I don’t have much problem getting picked up in Epic groups with him.

This is ironic since I started out doing the Epic red fen chain and then asked if I could switch to my ranger. The leader at the time asked why when he heard it was my tempest ranger. After running with him tho I managed to do very well and he was indispensable dealing with the scorpions in Epic claw (earth grab weapons are king in there since you can’t hold scorpions, only get them stuck in a high DC web).

I guess I’ll have to keep on looking for the answer about ‘heavy’ DPS until someone can define it. Because where I stand it’s more what someone believe to be heavy DPS as suppose to what a good build can actually deliver.

Things that make me go boom

Are you about to TR? Do you need some really good low end stuff to take you through the first 10 levels? We all know that raw power is nice; starting with 20 in str and 16 or so in Con is always a good thing, but reality is that having good gear is always an extension of a good player. That’s why my 32 point builds are on par with TR’s.

But the reality is that low level stuff is generally not very premium and once we got those ice burst kits I think a lot of us were stupid enough to reserve the them for our mid to high end random stuff. And realized that most things are immune against cold damage and that we were soon wielding green steel. I figured later on that the true benefit of the ice burst kits are on mid to low level items.

What I’ve noticed more than anything is that there are tons of really good low level random drops as end rewards in places like the Droaam series, Red Fen and I even got a level 1 longsword of acid out of the steam tunnels. Of course – with Chronosphere you have many great named items, but the key is still those first 1-5 levels and getting a running start.

Enter the ring I pulled as end reward from doing the entire Droaam series (the one that ends with the green Hag). I noticed a ring before; +4 Dex but that was when I wanted to pull the Khopesh so naturally I took the weapon. Level 1 +4 Dex ring. Now that’s sweet. So running the series today I pulled a +4 Str ring – level 1.

That’s outstanding. Not only because it’s something that last a long time (the best you can expect at level 1 are +2 ability items and most likely +1). This will do me fine for at least 5-6 levels. Of course pulling the Dex ring would be nice as well. Perfect for a 2wf Fighter or Ranger. Even Rogue.

Combine that with the Khopesh I pulled a while back.  Level 2 Keen – now with ice burst kit. Or the level 5 greatsword (end reward out of Red Fen) pure good with Ghost touch. Ice bursted that one as well.

Notice; level 5. All other weapons generally unlocks on even level numbers and items on odd.

Level 5 means Necro 1. And Ghost touch mean uncorporeal slaughter. Add pure good and ice burst.

Yes – I do look forward to TRing my Ranger and Fighter. And I’m thinking about waiting until the do the Epic reboot since right now they’re experimenting with a new quest level system (see Crystal Cove). If that translates to all quests then it’s going to be awesome (key seems to be the ability to go into a quest on any level – to low and you get nothing but it all depends if it’s artificially looked so many levels above you).

The scar from Mabar

Today I ran Deleras. For that great axe. So I have a good axe when one of my guys TR. Because what else am I going to do after the event and when I finally round off the gear I want? Grind Epics? There’s a Epic reboot rumored. I know, rumored might be true, but what starts today might take years before it happens.

There’s also several PrE’s including Sorc very soon and a FvS by update 10. So do I want to wait until then (to TR my FvS) and perhaps level up a sorc when Update 9 hits?

The true culprit is that I’m odd man running quests for specific loot since I’m at a standstill at what I can do. Unlocked Amrath potions for my Ranger and want to do the same for my Horc and FvS. But is that really the big goal I have in mind as a dread the next Epic run for that scroll or seal?

I just want to get stuff done, but I keep running in circles by doing the same raids over and over and it’s not that fun.

I do want the event to hit…so I can grind more but I have a feeling that at the end of the event I’ll be ‘good riddance’. Is that so bad?

Lets get this one right

Whenever there’s new content and events there are certain items that I immediately try to fit into my builds. And keep in mind that I already have an eye on what I’m looking for, making new content and events a monkey wrench in a otherwise fine tunes machinery. Like Mabar. Sure – it turned out to be boring grind – not because the items were bad but because the raid mechanic and how the raid popped up was and still is broken.

Grind is one thing; ever tried to pull a bloodstone? But its twice as worse when you don’t have any control over the most important features such as when you can run a quest. Every 3 days for a raid and every day for a Epic quest. Those are the current limits that I operate under. But I know about when my raid timer is out so I don’t have to sit around waiting for it. I’m fully capable of running everything else. But the new event mechanics scream of having to participate. That’s why Mabar felt so awful in the end; we were scant few that did the grinding for turn ins just so others could pour in after all that time to do the final raid. So in the very beginning it took an hour or 2 per raid and in the end it was every 4-5 hours if that. That leaves you with the pointless grind.

In Mabar it was killing critters. In droves. Over and over for turn ins. And over and over. So you could run a failed raid because we couldn’t fill a complete group. Sure – the group could fail. It was fully possible. Or you could leave if the raid never filled and keep the key. But I had a stack of keys and if I left it meant waiting another 5 hours for the opportunity.

The new mechanic is slightly better. First – it’s not a raid and secondly there’s a control in just how difficult you want to run it. It scales well for solo and for smaller groups. The grind is still there. Something like 20k turn ins in order for the quest to spawn. And it’s slightly better because in all that killing pirates you might also come across treasure chest; a innocent diversion that adds flavor in all the monotonous killing. But the biggest issue is still there; grinding for turn ins. And as soon as the majority of people have done their early crafting they’ll do what they did with Mabar; go do something else while other people grind just to join together in the final time to run the quest part then drop out and wait until the next time. We grind, they get the benefit of doing the quest.

Just skip the whole turn in. It doesn’t work as intended. It doesn’t motivate people to run the whole event that much more or spend more resources. It motivates people to wait until the quest is open and let others do the heavy lifting.

Just run it every 1-2 hours. People who want everything will still make everything. It will probably mean that more people stick around for the grind as they only have to wait so long. I would. If I can run it every single or 2 hours I would stick around, figure out strategies and try them out. If I only get a shot at it every 4-5 hours it’s very unlikely I will try different strategies; I’ll look for full group and make sure I get the max out of it every single time.

Please lets motivate people to enjoy the event and not hate what it becomes. I like it. I like the settings, I like the random chests (it’s like OMG what can it be???) and I love the quest. No stupid puzzles, just tactics. Thinking on the go. Master timing changing where you put your torches. Explore new tunnels and be ready to double back to save the day. Coordinate with friends and develop working strategies. Try out higher and higher difficulty settings when you know what you’re doing for better challenges. Also enjoy and look forward to the next opportunity instead of dread the time it’ll take you to get there.

The turn in mechanic simply de-motivates all the features the event promotes and eventually you’ll see post after post how the massive and relentless grinding kills the game.

In its current form the one week of the event feels like 2 life times of grinding for large devil scales and ToD rings. It’s just that bad. That’s a lot of heavy grinding in a very limited time and almost soul rending in its mind numbness.