Monthly Archives: March 2012

What I found about challenges (part 1 – Island)

Soloing island quests are not easy. Be it regular or Epic. Partly because of the actual components of the challenge but also because of the dramatic increase in stats from minimum to max. Like how you can easily do it on lower levels with a competent build but struggle dramatically using the same tactics at level 20. It’s not just because they’re tougher and you have several abilities that might be past their prime – but mostly because the aids you have – such as hirelings and turrets are simply not effective.

However – the same lesson (with modification) can be used at level 4 all the way up to level 20.

Kobold Chaos is good through level 15. It’s your basic kill Kobolds for material, kill fishpeople hitting your extractors and eventually fire up a large extractor.

Soloing it I generally start at small extractor one drop the hirelings off there and open up 2, 3 and finally 4. At 4 I generally have enough to upgrade it right away, then back to 3, 2 and finally 1 and as soon as I have enough shards – fire up large close to 1.

Here you both have time and resources to upgrade the turrets to level 2. It’s worth it in the long run since they tend to be able to kill anyone attacking them, unless a red named spawns nearby. It can be worth letting hirelings and a turret protect a large while you go ‘rescue’ a small extractor.

Disruptor Island is similar, in a way. You have about the same amount of time as the first, but with a twist. Now and then a large giant skellie spawns and he’ll shut down all extractors from gaining you any shards. So killing it is important to your success. The bad part is that you don’t know WHEN it’ll spawn and how many times. Which is different from other quests where you can rely on certain red names to spawn and try to attack your nest.

I don’t think this quest is well designed. I understand that the skellie spawns and you don’t really know when – but more then once is not a challenge. That’s just pure random idiocy. There’s no way to develope a good tactic around this since it can spawn just as you fire up the large with 2 minutes to go ruining your chances get anything simply because this random factor.

Compare that to red named spawning in the lava caves where you KNOW they will show up or the red named in extra planar that arrives pretty much at a certain time. That is a challenge you can PLAN around as suppose to hoping just for one skellie and not 3.

Other than that at level 20 and in Epic I suggest that you use command undead on the skellies. It’s a pretty good way of keeping them on your side and a perfect way of getting some extra help when you fire up a large.

The devil island one – short cuts – is just plain bad design.

First off; you have much less time and the idea is that you can take these portals and end up somewhere else. But they all throw you out randomly; sometimes even in the same spot. So how can you PLAN around this random mess to somehow figure out a succesful way to operate.

And since you’re so short on time soloing generally ends up with you unning around rescuing your small extractors and never having the opportunity to fire up a large. All in all expect about 150 mat at the most, which is unfortunate.

I don’t mind using my caster in all 3 island quests – as insta killing spells works fine; but monks are good in either as well and especially short cuts, since it’s ‘free’ to stun and quiver palm stuff to death. Plus monks are naturally fast and if you’re a light monk you can heal yourself. Arti’s are good too, but the run arm does slow down the entire run somewhat and it feels better in lower level challenges rather than higher end ones where time is more crucial since you need more DPS and more time to kill stuff.

I’d say Arti for Kobolds Chaos, Caster for Disruptor and Monk or arcane caster for Short cuts.

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Another grindy day

I find myself running tons of challenges and I wish there were competent groups running them.

Unlike the ‘I need X mats of x type’ LFMs with a assortment of people running around like ants on fire.

Those usually ends up with people grabbing all kinds of torches and teleporters without a clue at what to do next.

Or the ‘be self sufficient’ LFMs where a majority of players ends up needing rescue. So I solo, wishing for a good group.

I’m doing fairly well – it’s clear that the best ones to run are the ones where you’re a well built class no more then level 15.

That’s when you’re reaching the upper limit for how efficient the turrets are in the island quests and how annoying critters get in all other quests.

Weekend thoughts

So I pull the vibrant purple Ioun stone and bake it for my FvS – so now he have all the twink gear he need to TR again (and only 3 more epic tokens needed).

I also ended up with the shard of the bracers of the claw (last piece needed) for my Ranger once he hits 20 again and the two first tiers done on my Sorcs con op gloves. I went with tier one immunities and tier 2 SP and I’m one supreme shard short of a tier 3 SP and ultimately con op.

Now all I need is the Torc and a con op scepter and he’ll be Mr. SP dynamo supreme. I will most likely make a similar scepter as my FvS have; one with tier 1 being whatever and tier 2 and 3 Heal Amp. That way he can heal using cure serious potions.

I have now tried all kind of classes doing certain hard to solo Challenge quests. The Island ones are the worst. Most of all the Shavarath one. 10 minutes of running like crazy trying to cover extractor being assaulted by critters the turrets can’t do much about (at level 15 anyways).

The regular Island quest can be done with any class, but it cuts off at level 15 so there’s no point doing it after that. The undead version is a little bit better because it’s 15 minutes but it can be disrupted with a random amount of giants. I got 3 one time. BUT if you have a caster the best spell in your book is command undead. It works good there. And a excellent way of keeping their Skeletons working for you.

The Shavarath is just pure pain. Not enough time to actually fire up a large and it’s just not worth the pain on level 20 without a full group of self sufficient players. Most of the time I pull sub 100 to 140 mats (when I make it) and if you have to run something as boring as this challenge for 4-6 times you’ll end up wasting a good 60 minutes hating every minute of it. Worst of all; the teleportals are worthless. The let you get out in a random direction and sometimes even the same portal. It’s idiotic.

It’s clear to me that this quest need badly a redesign for solo play; since the challenge quests were sold as a solo thing you do while you wait for a full group or something. And the Island ones are the least solo able at level 20 and above. Just because the defensive turrets are worthless past a point at keeping critters away.

And ALL of the quests need a shrine somewhere. Like in the middle. Especially the extraplanar ones. I mean I ran the first and longest one of them and at half time I had run dry and that was 7 minutes of waiting for the clock to run out and all I had was acid based stuff. So when the caster came that are acid immune I had to rely on hirelings like the panther and a healer to deal with it. Of course – maybe it tells me I need to run it on my healer instead.

It’s simply unreal that something with a 20 minute clock would be designed with no shrines.

8 hours is such a lifetime from now

In 8 hours I will be able to re-spec into a earth Savant again. Thank Gosh.

It’s kind of like watching the raid counter count down on the only level appropriate toon you have. Until then I’ll stay clear of some quests because it’s simply not that fun. I’d love to be able to run those Epic island ones but being cold specced means being not very useful.

Or I could use my monk again. He’s pretty darn good regardless. I now I can. But you can’t make me (from a quest, come on – work with me here).

I did play my Arti again earlier doing a quick extraplanar. Now that was a disaster (material wise, not deathwise). Have you ever played a toon for a month or so and nothing else and then realized that you forgot everything you knew about a different toon? Like my Arti. I used to feel so ‘in tune’ with that guy that I was throwing spells, firing off rune arms, switching rune arm like everything was a part of me and the keyboard. Now I kept fumbling for where I had the rune arms so I would switch over to the right one once the Demon Queen dropped.

And dropped she did; but unlike the fiasco with my sorc and those meager hurtin’ cold spells – the mindsunder force damage combined by with a GS repeater holy damage with Cold Iron DR breaking gave the snake lady a big surprise. Plus I had the fortitude to tell the dumb healer to pay a little bit more attention as the ADHD had it agro on something else completely.

And why is it that so many things drop at the same time?

Like the Demon queen often drop with the tiger dude. Not that the tiger dude is anything to be worried about – but he kind of side tracks my hireling healer. In this case that witch dropped at the same time as the Demon Queen. And she’s not really that hard to kill either. Except that while I was telling my hireling to pay attention I was worried that it would end up killing the Kobolds while I kited the Demon Queen around.

Safe to say I did the right thing and agroed her.

I don’t know what it is about my Arti – but its agro meter always spikes 1000. It doesn’t matter what group I’m in; if we have Mr Conan the Boobarian whacking Mr Pit Fiend with a GS axe and dishing out 5k reliable damage per swing – once I shoot and fire off the rune arm it’s like the enemy critter draws to me like a hell kitten to catnip.

I’ve had that comment before; I don’t think I outdamage people. I’ve even had on gear that is suppose to reduce agro. But once I start shootin’ they’ll come runnin’.

Which is kind of a ‘son of a…’ moment right there if the aim is for a tank to keep things nice and agroed.

Maybe the Devs simply added a hidden formula that says patang01+Arti=get ‘im.

In the wayback machine

My conclusion (and it has since weakened somewhat) I complained about Cannith crafting for two reason – absurd costs and arbitrary placement of powers. Some things have changed; you can now craft higher end levels which allows you to place said power in a different slot. But the absurd costs remain the same.

But instead of complaining about what is; I’d like to say what I do like (you know, the weakened resentment against some of the features).

First off – I don’t have to rely on randomly pulled features such as a +3 Superior Potency VI. Why you say – I mean that’s a great item.

Except the +3 part increases it’s ML. Face it – all random items have a definately shelf/level life. Past a certain level it’s bound to compete with named items. I mean even earlier items do, but here’s where there are certain random gems that are better than named items.

Would you use a superior VI item at say level 16 when you might find something much better (named) at a earlier level? Of course not – that’s why making the exact item for a specific need fills a limited time need. And especially when you TR.

Crafting allows for great items like ML 1 Ring of featherfalling Wizardry I.

Or ML 7 Belt/Armor of Heavy Fortification. Or how about a ML 1 trinket of Melee alacrity 10%?

Or a ML 3 Trinket of Fire Absorb 33%?

How about the fact that these can be BTA, making it possible for you to create a bunch of TR/level worthy gear you can store away after use or until it can be replaced by a better named item?

If you run some of the packs as the Sharn Syndicate, Carnival, Sorrowdusk, Red Fen etc you will also find no named BTA items. These can be disjuncted and then re-crafted with bound shards. And you can also lower the minimum ML by using the Masterful shard, creating low level gear for specific situations.

Like with my caster I just leveled up to 20 where I didn’t have a lot of suitable focus items and instead crafted a conjuration and later greater conjuration, Evocation and Enchantment item to fill that gap.

These are now being replaced by named items. Such as the Flame Warden (hopefully soon to be Epic). Or even crafting onto Challenge items; such as adding featherfalling to the level 16 flame cloak – so that I can still continue using a 30% striding ring, the challenge boots and a Charisma ring. Until I can replace the Charisma ring with the Epic Flame Warden (+7 in Charisma with +1 Exceptional Charisma) and the earth Savant ToD ring.

The point is simple; from the early Acid of Bleed weapons to the lower ML Heavy fort and greater Focus items – Cannith crafting allows a player to gear hard to gear slots with good stop gab items. I still use my Greater Conjuration Bracers (ML 9) and the same rapier with Greater Enchantment or the short sword with Greater Necromancy (both ML 9).

On my Arti I used the acid of bleed repeater until I replaced it with a Holy of good and Acid Burst of good. And I didn’t waste my time increasing the quality over +1 when they changed it so conjure bolts now have higher quality with higher levels (+1 additional Quality for every 4 levels I think).

That allows my Arti to still use ‘lower end’ quality repeaters with higher end damage and hit chance.

And although I can’t take advantage of the higher level crafting where you have more flexibility in WHERE you put a specific ability – it’s still there for when I level that high.

Such as putting heavy fort in the better helmet slot, and keep both armor and belt slots open for lower level named items (like spare hand or Frozen Tunic etc).

Lets pretend that enemy critters are ‘smart’ and score them

We all know that to add the stigma of ‘A.I.’ to a DDO critters is like calling a thermostat ‘smart’ because it turns off the AC when it hits whatever degree you set it at.

The least smart of them are the ‘hitters’. Like dogs of all kinds, cooks, soldiers etc. Anything that have a argue to mindlessly run through whatever persistent AOE you might have up without taking a step back and so – ‘HEY- STAY OUT OF THIS BLADE BARRIERS COMRADES BECAUSE THEY FRACKEN HURT!’.

It’s more a ‘I WILL get you for THAT, and THAT – stay still Uuuuuuuuuuurgh’.

Then you have shooters. They will sometimes be ‘smart’ enough to move while they continue to shoot your through objects and impossible angles even you can’t hit through from. A step up from that are some hitter critter that can either teleport or shoot. Like Orthons and Devils. I mean they’re still not that smart, but they do offer a little more of an challenge with the ADHD.

Then you have pouncers. The ones that keep on knocking you down. Like Air Ellies and wolves and all kind of idiotic critters who’s main attack is to slap you around. They still kite through life killing stuff like AOEs but many times they manage to knock you on your @ss before you get the chance to set one up.

Then there are casters. They’re not annoying or ‘smart’ because they don’t run up to you and punch you; or that they can cast all manner of annoying spells. They simply spam all kind of spells all day long without being disrupted by any incoming fire. Like CCs 3 times in a row, 5 comet fall in a row. Just one expensive spell after another until dead.

I say until dead; their ability to cast spells comes from a bottomless well of SP.

Worst are red named. See red named defies all the stuff that even limit players. Like the cripple spam from enemy archers? Where you can’t do anything but to run at trickle speed for 30-60 seconds. Like the constant waves of fatigue/whatever so you have to drink more potions of lesser restoration than haste-oholic.

Red names just don’t care about stuff that would limit a normal high end player. They have the same annoying abilities as all other critters plus the annoying ability to ignore any meaningful tactic other than maxium DPS.

Thank Gosh they’re not as unpredictable as hirelings. I mean at least you can depent on the reaction from a enemy critter and ‘work’ around the quirks. Like jumping Kobold Shamen that end up where no melee can reach them (forcing someone to actually shoot or throw something at it).

Hirelings can just take off for some reason – pulling agro from a distant foe that no one else can see. Or decide to become completely catatonic and do nuthing.

Screaming at the screen doesn’t help.

You gotta love hirelings (sarcasm: not).

I was playing Epic level 21 extraplanar and the Demon queen pops. She instantly demolish 2 Kobolds. Because no matter how much I’m throwing at her, the Kobolds just stands there and she can’t find a more important target than Kobolds. So I start kiting her. I really do not like my re-spec to Water Savant. I’m doing meager damage and I’m blowing through gobs of SP. The my hireling decided to stop the crucial (lets heal the one guy that is doing any damage) and heal a Kobold instead running the opposite direction. Boom. She’s on me all four weapon slicing and my 300 HP are gone in a flash. Meanwhile I click the healer to ressurect my guy (like 5-6 times) and it instead decided it need to hit and attack the demon queen together with that Panther hireling.

Let’s just say it dies, the panther die and I jump down to the shrine and res and click for them to do the same (which takes about 4-5 more clicks. Meanwhile I try to regain more agro to finish off the queen.
It’s bad enough that I have to juggle a bad elemental choice, but having to wet nurse a bunch of hirelings with ADHD and a mental capacity of a Atari makes for bad juju.