Monthly Archives: October 2014

18, interesting level for gear

I say interesting because the problem with 18 is that unlike a lot of other levels this one will run it’s course quickly. It was different when 20 was the defacto EPIC level – then even with the different 1st generation Epic gear a lot of the level 18 stuff was right there up with it. Like ToD sets. If you look at the first generation Epic stuff most of it was +6 ability with a few insight and exceptional. The closer we get to MOTU and a change to Epic levels 21-25 we saw more powerful versions, like in the Web of Chaos.

So while I can now use the Cannith Fabricator set, 2 fairly okay items and my Shintao ToD set (stacking +2 damage and accuracy) it’ll be circulated back to the back almost right about level 20. And it’s even worse with level 19 gear. There are some nice autogranted ones from Shadowfell (the Guardian, Skirmisher and Sage) in the end reward lists. Some of them level 15 and the rest level 19. The Sage stuff is pretty good and will last a few more levels (who can argue against kinetic lore 18% or Evocation +4?) but the melee stuff is usually banked once 20 roll in.

The reason for it is simple; the trade in stuff from MOTU is much stronger than most gear at the same level. Like the purple knight with a good gauntlet, good helmet and okay armor. Plus a good set bonus doesn’t hurt either. This is by far one of the stronger sets.

The arcane or divine are not bad, but they pale in utility (especially when comparing to older epic stuff) when you look at the purple knight. That’s even more true compared to the druid/ranger one or the villager. They’re not ‘bad’ sets they’re just not as strong as something that grant 2 strong primary abilities (con and strength) and then +3 in artifact damage and accuracy – which stacks with the deadly competence damage. However there you can debate whether you’re not better off going with the Claw set from Red Fen. Stacking artifact +4 damage and 30% heal amp – main difference is the stronger strength and constitution package for the purple knights, but it takes all 3 items to get the extra damage.

Theoretically it only takes 2 items to get something really good out of red fen but then you don’t get the more strength and constitution as a side effect.

Again – melee got some really nice choices to pick from at 20, making the level 18 stuff (which used to be king at that level and beyond) not that useful in the long run.

Now I can keep on using the ToD set for a bit. I do like the manslayer ring for 20 but that’s just one. 21 gets trickier tho since I have a vertigo ring I’d like to use. But now that I’ve discovered a better item, the Deneith Heavy Chain with +15 vertigo, I’m thinking I want to look at maybe getting a ring of stunning instead. Or maybe settle for a dilapidated stun until I find a good way to boost it and use different type of rings instead. But the fabricator set is a goner for sure, it can’t compete with either claw gauntlets or purple knight and there’s no shortage of melee alacrity stuff.

There’s also the question of Greater Abashai. If you do 3 pieces you have +3 Profane stacking strength. 5 adds as many in con. 3 is a lot easier if you want to maintain other good gear selection and you can easily boost up strength with +7, +2 insightful, +1 exception and the +3 profane. That’s pretty darn good.

Time to glammer shields

The latest patch adds docents and shields to mirror of glammering. Weapons are still on hold as they try to fix the issues with particle effects. But I can finally remove the scrutty look of the purple knight shield from haunted halls and replace it with something a little bit more impressive. If you haven’t see it the purple knight shield is sorta bugged graphically with the hand sticking through it and the size of it makes it look like a toy shield instead of one of the best tower shields. It got sovereign vorpal for pete sakes – and I assume because of either weight or some pointy stuff, but the shield looks like it couldn’t even knock the training dummy over.
So I took a look at all the different named shields and the only ones that struck me as uniquelly badass are the heroic shield of legends. ML 14 out of Necro 4. It used to be that you could only get the pieces out of the optional side quest in the quests, but they later on added it to the rare in the explorer area. It’s still a pain to collect all of the pieces but it can be sold on the AH.
Most of the shields are pretty good, but the one I really like, Deaths Door is all that what it’s cracked out to be (by the look) for heroic use. On the other hand, Talon, is a great Vanguard shield but not the best look. Not bad mind you, but there are so many other shields to pick from.
I almost wish they sold the cosmetics on their own. Make them or buy them. Cheaper to glammer, but possible to buy for a little bit more. That would be perfect and I wouldn’t have to waste all those shield pieces on something I probably won’t use but like the look of. Now I do have one – at that time it was the best shield for me. That was back when using tower shield wasn’t the preferred to use so I picket out a large shield that combines a lot of good features.
I like the look of adherence. Nice and bulky. Just like Skyvault. But it’s a little bit more than I’d like and the shield is not that good.
I own Arrondi but the look is not as cool. I really don’t see ‘sovereign vorpal’ in the design.
Bijio is interesting and colorful. A little plain in the shape but cool with the runes. But the shield is more for a healer type. Altho it could be nice for a self healing Pally.
I like Fanion but it’s not all that good for a melee.
Death’s Door has a unique look to it, but the shield itself is okay but not very useful for a melee. Sorrel looks great and it’s not a terrible shield, but with todays random stuff, augments and such you can certainly find better and earlier than protection +5.
Lastly Talon. Great shield for Vanguard, but it’s sorta small. I’d like something a little bigger and bulkier and this is not the perfect look.
But as I currently look for the final shield piece (3) I decided to at least glammer something (random) just to replace the look of the purple knight shield. So I found an okay looking heavy shield for now (main picture). It’ll do until I find the final piece and decide what type of look I’d like going forward. The final thing will of course be weapons. I’m not entire sure what I’m looking for yet, but I’m tired of the thunderforged look. It’s not a bad shape of the sword but the particle effect is terrible.

If you want a crafter, start with training wheels

Back when crafting was first introduced the most ideal class for it was the Arti. Partly because Arti is not feat intense and because you get extra bonuses for being Arti and using the dragonmark – most of what they need they get as part of the class (like rune arm and repeating cross bow) and while it feels like a waste to tie up 3 feats just to add a bonus to the crafting levels it helps getting there sooner. Then it was changed into one feat and the rest enhancements.

Depending on just of enhancement intense your build is, that could actually be worse. For me it was better since adding 2 more feats helped strengthen casting even if I had to juggle around some enhancements. After having enjoyed a bunch of crafting crunches (going through bouts whenever there was an appropriate crafting XP weekend bonus) I’m now fairly high on the scale. So much so that most of the very highest recipes (for bound) can be reached with about 70% chance (without adding any boosts) and there might be some few of the others I can’t. And yes, that means most flexible recipes. That also means no training wheels, no feats, no enhancement points.

The good thing about that is that I could add another few recipes today for my ‘growing’ horc. Consolidating 2 rings into 1. My one ring of Natural Armor +3 with a water breathing augment and my pure protection +5, into a protection +5 ring with a green augment slot and then slot a Natural Armor +4 augment into it (the ring is ML 13 and the augment ML 12). I also created 2 absorb trinkets. Both are ML 3 but the higher up in levels you get you’ll end up doing quests with lots of fire and electric damage. And being able to switch some trinkets around to get some additional protection is nice. Altho I do wish they had a cold and acid recipe as well. With at least 20% if 33 seems too high.

And speaking of 13 – I checked out to see if I had banked anything better than the scavenged warplate with an alchemical armor upgrade. Nope, not heaven the one from Lordmarch. I think they count it as a ‘heavy chainmail’ even if there’s no such animal in the rest of the game. Because the AC is lower then the Warplate. Altho that can be because they did an armor overpass back in the days when they rolled out the new augment system. Some, both lower and higher got augment slots and a AC overpass while others were not touched. And since it’s ML 12 and the Warplate is ML 8 it should be at least on equal footing or slightly higher.

But that’s not the case so I’m still wearing it while I wait for 14 and the black dragon plate instead. Or maybe the VoD armor. Who knows. I usually pick the best utility and not always the best AC. And having 10% armor piercing and a 10% melee damage boost seems a little better than a few points of AC.

I honestly wished I could craft something better instead but armor suffers from something different when it comes to lootgen with augment slots (compared to say rings with augment slots) and that is they come with a minimum level. I think it has to do with the type of material which has to do with the DR of the armor (in other words the PRR and MRR). So many times you might pull a level 27 ring with a green augment slot and after disjunction its a level 5 (due to the augment) but a high level armor usually means over 20 anyways even if you prepare it for crafting. pajamases seems different tho since there’s no inherent AC or PRR.

But if you’re like me and have one of those old plates with adamantium on it you got those low ML 1 and 2 with a 3/- DR and that is gold worth. Not so much with higher levels but early on it’s a life saver.

The Sands

The dust and fine sand particles blew off the cliff like a mist. Dry heat, making the inside of the helmet feel like a cast iron pot cooking its last supper. The smell of death, the dead gnolls behind him and the blood boiling on the hard polished rock. Flies. Already feasting on the carcasses with a few buzzards circling high above, waiting for the half orc to move on. Behind him his hired hand shifted nervously. Sighing as the relentless heat baking the rock made the ground in the distance shake like a opaque ocean of liquid dirt.

He knelt. Studying the landscape before him. The formation of ancient final resting places of lords and kings. And where the sun bleached bones of warriors ruled. Where shambling moaning servant, slain to serve their masters in death roamed and where nobles, wrapped in dirty torn rags, trapped in dry and crisp bodies lurked. Across the sands the resting home of the Wizard king stabbed through the sand like a broken block of maleficent brood. A place haunted by the will of the lich, haunted by the tormented servants and the many long dead guardians. Across the sand, still on fire in the merciless sun across a bleak sky without a single cloud in sight. Dunes, leaping across each others like frozen waves on a timeless sea. His hand gripped the handle of the greataxe, ending in a double edged blade with lightning leaping across the green steel. He looked back. His hired hand was blinking away sweat, gazing upward into the inferno above. Fear caked his dirty face. Fear of what lay beyond and fear of dying, serving someone for the pittance of coin.
‘Don’t worry’ grinned the half orc – the sun forming a corona of blazing gold around the top of the black helmet. ‘the dead don’t fret about memories and regret. Once you die what was is forever gone. Don’t fear what can happen, fear instead of coming home empty handed without anything to show for the toil’.

The sun was midway across the sky. The half orc didn’t feel like crossing it during night, when the undead would rise without rest. One of the mortally wounded gnolls, a shaman, glared at him. Unable to utter even one legible word, with his guts spilling out across the rock. He had seared a bolt across the half orcs chest and suffered the consequence. Where the other gnolls had died swiftly and without mercy, the caster who first held him with a cruel laughter and later tried to snuff him out with spells, had suffered from an agonizing but final cut. He was going to die. His broken body half slumped against a caved in tent, across broken barrels.

The half orc knew death. But to wield it with wanton cruelty deserved a faith worse then death. It was not a law. It was justice for cruelty. He spat in its direction. There was no mercy in his look. And the gnoll resigned to die his slow painful death as the hired hand feared his master more then to provide a quick merciful blow. It said nothing. It knew better. The armored beast in front of him had saved him so many times. And in a small way he felt he owed him a certain allegiance, even if it came in the form of platinum. Plus there was also a deep respect, admiration and fear. He’d seen the half orc fight. It was like watching death wielding a lightning scythe. A dance. He’d seen the half orc take on the 6 on the cliff. It was a fearsome display of barely contained rage, skill and finality.

‘Lets not waste daylight’ said the warrior. ‘I don’t want to fight thick up to my hips in undead after dark’ and chuckled when it sent a visible shiver through the hired hand.

Marked to Death

As you can see by the attached Image I finally managed to hit 20. No silly, that was not from the chest. I’ve only seen named items twice and you bet no one could roll on them. So I immediately changed the alignment to true neutral, previously lawful good. I always do lawful good (unless it’s a bard or rogue). It’s just a habit. A practical one mind you since so many weapons you need are good and most low end toons don’t have enough UMD to overcome it early on.

Sure, I could just suffer the neg level but that would be to lower the standard on everything the toon is good at and for 500 TP you can change the alignment as you see fit. This is after doing a final 5 runs, 2 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday (with that toon). I tell you; the 2 on Saturday were awful. Partly because too few (that knew it well) did the side stuff and there was no control of the moving pieces once the main battle started. Partly because the voice kept saying ‘stop moving’ which is counter productive in you’re in a mark of death cloud. In fact after playing this game since 2009 I can figure out when to stop moving or not without someone telling me over and over how to play.

That was REALLY annoying.

The group on Sunday was much better. Calm leader – simple instructions over voice – like Abbot is up, quells, beholders etc and much better at doing the side stuff. The main battle was over fairly quickly with only one bump in one of them where the random chaos started to tilt things into a third of the group *dinging* in a short period of time. In contrast to the first group some runs were even ‘deathless’. I ended up doing another 2 runs on my Pally since the group was so good; never hesitate in taking advantage of a good thing. He’s now 8 away from 20th and I’m still debating with myself what I want for my first item.


It’s not a rule, but it has become a fact; when I TR I always end up crafting something. It’s for that reason many of my guys have several BTC items, specifically crafted for them in the past and that I use when I TR. But somehow I always end up crafting something else.

Since I started organizing my mules better I’ve cut down on the redundant crafting; you know needing a con item and couldn’t find what I knew was in there somewhere, so now, for most part – I’ll find that BTA necklace with ease and use it for however many levels it’s needed (until something better, such as a named comes a long.

I also have plenty of armors – I don’t like the BTCoE binge that Turbine went through with the augmentation overpass since a lot of the named armor (well below 20) was converted to this format – looking at you blood plate, but I still got some that are untouched by time. Such as a few cavalry plates and another I just found – Scavenged Warplate. Now the scavenged Warplate is a BRILLIANT low level heavy armor. Moreso with the armor up change. It comes with 2 augment slots, one blue and one colorless. It’s also adamantine, so 3/- in DR. Of course with higher levels the DR won’t meant as much but around this level range it still helps. So I added a alchemical armor defense ritual on it and since it’s BTA it’s a perfect for TRing different toons. Bloodplate is unfortunately BTCoE. Altho it comes with deathblock and a blue augment slot – so that’s nice.

The nice thing with level 8 armor is that it’s perfect for augmentation. Like heavy fort. You can get those from the store, auction house but very easily from the ML 8 blue augment collectable turn ins. Either taking a chance for a random ML 8 augment or buy it outright for shards – either way it’s not that hard to get your hands on and it helps you combine several items into one. Not bad for a ML 8 armor.

The helmet in the picture was a crafted one that I came up with. I had a melee alacrity trinket (ML 3) but at level 8 I ended up wanting a few other stuff instead. I was getting rid of the infested armor (ML 4) but liked that Spell resist still worked. So I combined a few different items, like a feather falling crafted one (ML 1) with wiz I, the trinket into a helmet with a yellow augment slot and now I could also add a fear immunity augment. That’s not bad for a ML 8 items when melee alacrity named items are rare at this level. That’s at least 3 items in one with only the abilities that matter.

At the same time I created a natural armor +3 ring with a yellow augment slot (and I added a ML 4 underwater Breathing augment). ML 7. And on the other hand I added a Protection +5 ring (ML 7 too).

I wanted to mention that because in the early levels these items add such a premium to your abilities. The AC actually works and every minor investments in these things add another layer of ability to streak out Elite. That’ll change however down the road when it’s harder to get more AC out of gear and such unless you specially yourself in a more tank centric tree. But at least up until 10-12 these items add enough juice to be very effective.

Speaking of weapon – I’m currently using the ML 10 greatsword out of Lordmarch. It’s not ultimate (and I won’t upgrade it since that would turn it into ML 12) but the con damage does help. And even if a similar axe would have better crit damage, the greatsword crit more and at a pretty nice 160-180 range (compared to my Cannith Challenge Elemental Greataxe ML 8 tier 2 that can crit for about 250).

All in all these items helps me rock content and at level 10 I’m 3 bubbles away from 11 and with Antaraxia’s Haven done I now have all bank slots unlocked which will be useful with the ever changing gear selection.

So what’s next? At 11 I can finally put on my all HP, blur GS goggles. And at 12 I’ll have my triple positive undead killing Maul together with my Lightning 2 greataxe. And as far as weapons goes that’ll work nicely until I hit 20 and can pick up the Epic Antique Greataxe.

Armor wise I either have the armor from VoD or a black Dragon ML 14 one. I think I go with the Black Dragon since it adds fortification penetration and additional temporary bonus to damage after each kill. Both very useful items. Sure, I could put on my Dragontouched armor I made an Eon ago – but those are not as viable anymore. They’re in a real need of updating to be the goto 16+ armor. And I do wish they would. Just as GS is the goto item for items and weapons, Dragontouched with its runes used to and should be the armor people grind out for the below Epic runs.

Instead I notice that it’s more the different TOR heroic armor.

A simple rule with exceptions

I have a simple rule. One. Kinda like people who pull potions of wonders and have to drink them right away. I don’t have that rule, but I do have another. If I pull a hair dye and my toon can use it (that is none warforged) I will. Unless I bought the current hair color or I like it very much (which is usually the same but sometimes I do pull the hair color I’d like to use anyways.

But more often then not I will use it and end up with a lot of funky hair colors. Like for a while a lot of my fleshies ran around with derivative of gray/white/steel hair color, looking like a bunch of old guys. And lately I’ve seen a lot of ‘flamboyant’ colors, like my lavender Swashbuckler and Sage green Horc. Until I went back to his original color before the ER (orange).

As you can see from the featured image he’s back to a more ‘wanted’ color since for a while there he looked like the stormreavers minion with his big green beard. And speaking of looks – the helmet and the armor is glimmered. The armor is from the E Necro pack and the helmet is a random with more matching color. Back in the past life this horc had mutton chops (I LOVE the looks of horcs in mutton chops) and the helmet just didn’t look good on him. And not that I picked this beard because of that but when I was done and checked him out in these cosmetics the beard just bad the entire look that much better.

And speaking of cosmetics. I like the idea of glimmering any type of item. And for that reason I eagerly await when you can do the same to shields and weapons, especially since a lot of high end loot and thunderforged stuff looks terrible. Like the toilet plunger q-staff or the design of the greataxe which they took from the Chronosphere one. In fact I can’t remember seeing any upper end greataxe that looks cool. Not even Antique Greataxe or their like.

But there is one in Lordmarch – the look before you upgrade it. Even the greatsword looks cool like that. Both have that crude, handmade look to them. And both look nice on a horc (incidentally that pack was released together with the half orc so there’s no wonder that the loot looks the part). I even like the bow and the khopesh. But at least the thunderforged khopesh looks nice and I think both the khopesh and the scimitar is taken from the Drow MOTU weapons.

Going back to glimmered unified look (like my horc with his ‘horny’ black helmet and black armor) – I think it would be really cool if Turbine started releasing entire looks. Kinda like Iconics. Not that iconics come with the ‘atypical’ helmet, but with the unique facial looks and the cosmetics it’s possible to look the part. And that’s really what’s missing in this game. A unified look – glimmering offers that somewhat as we can create our own cosmetics regardless of the mixed gear underneath and with weapons and shields added to the mix it’ll be possible to piece together a ‘better’ look and not worry about having to turn off things like helmets just because what you’re wearing looks silly. Plus it also allows you to wear something that would otherwise be impractical.

If you look at some of the design you see a clear reference to several different historical and iconic cultural looks and not just typical fantasy. You see things from Ancient Egypt in the form of that tall helmet, you see tracers of Viking in the helmet with horns and you see the high elf look in some of the stuff – masks, executioners hood etc. But none of them are very practical. Most people will go for a named piece over a random loot that might look nice but splits several different things and becomes more or less worthless.

And that’s naturally true with armor. I for example have always liked the banded mail with Samurai helmet look. And none of them are very practical items. It’s true that most of the banded mail is gone in favor of half plates and that’s sad (because it was a cool look) but as a piece of armor it was more or less useless. And that’s because armor is sorta useless in half measures. Most people either wear robe, docent, pajamas, light or heavy. That’s because medium offers little benefit (more so now with the change in armor up and introduction of a new PRR formula and MRR). In the past banded and even half plate stuff just didn’t add anything useful to people who either looked for max protection or something to wear when evading.

With cosmetics that entire thing is meaningless. Cosmetics is about looks and a unified look just looks cooler.

So I hope turbine will realize just how interesting it would be to combine these 4 different cosmetics slots to a unified looks package. Like either releasing an entire pack of all 3/4 items (shield can be an exception since it’s still not the main average setup) with a distinct and iconic theme. Like Medieval knight, dark wizard (with pointy hat or shiny dome, dark robes and gnarly staff/scepters), Samurai warrior (different choice of color patterns, helmet with demon visor, Naginata/Katana/Yari/Tachi, banden mail), Oriental mystic, South American Inca, Ancient Eqypt, Roman gladiator/centurion, Greek Hoplite etc. Yes, add a few color choices, a few different weapon/shield choices and let people get that iconic look despite what they wear underneath. And cloaks – cloaks would be very nice.

So why these iconic looks? Because not only are some of them absolutely cool (Like Samurai warrior or Medieval man at arm) but it also conveys a kinda of cultural belonging. You’re not just a motley looking warrior or colorful caster. You’re a Oriental Mystic, a German Man at arm with Flamberger or a Samurai warrior with Naginata. Despite actually suing the CITW staff and not what looks like a gnarly walking stick, or the sword of shadows when it’s a long Sweihander or the absolutely cool looking Naginata when it’s the thunderforged toilet plunger.

You’re not just a Monk with a q-staff. You’re a iconic warrior with a iconic weapon. You’re not just a ‘Fighter’. You ARE a knight. Or a mystic, or a dark lord, or a sneaky rogue with highway man mask. Or a Centurion with what looks like a Gladius and a Large round shield. Or a hoplite with a short spear and large round bronse shield.

I’ll buy that for lots of dollars.

A weekend of raids ending up with 1 of 2 possible ‘good’ things

It’s hard to put together enticing titles that somehow going to encapsulate a rant, but I figured I’ll just get this one overwith without dividing into several different subjects. Because the underlying texture is that it involves leading from one point to another with fate playing me a prank.

First, this weekend had me play Mark of Death on several toons until I felt like my brain bled. Never saw a named item drop ones, but I did ransack the raid on one guy (my tank). So in all of that I felt a little bored by waiting for another raid to pop up for my tank, so I jumped on my horc instead to check what the status was. I haven’t played it in ages and it showed. He’s still stuck in basic MOTU stuff and only 2 twists – he’s one of those guys I had to abandon for the sake of my sanity when so much content was released for range evasion builds. And since my horc isn’t one of those self-healing types I didn’t want him to be carried around in someones backpack for lack of self sufficiency. Plus off destiny leveling is another thing I loath. So much so I get tired of even trying. But with the change in melee power and the armor up stuff I figured I should check out if I noticed something different.

And to my surprise it wasn’t all bad.

Which lead to another funny thing; so I have had this Heroic Otto’s box in my inventory for a while. And I was running low on shards. I figured I’d try to sell it for a net profit over say buying shards outright since I didn’t foresee myself using it anytime soon. And naturally it didn’t just run off the action shelves. So I kept re-entering it. Then I had this fantastic idea to do a third life on my Horc. I figured that if I was going to make it a little bit up to date those 2 more points would come handy. So naturally in the back of my head I envisioned the box not selling again and me using it at level 5ish (well 300k XP anyways).

It’s kinda fun ‘starting’ all over, even if I planned it as a limited run. Not that I have forgotten all about Korthos Island or anything but there’s something nostalgic about dusting off the low level gear stuff and starting all over. Not before I at least ER’d first. Just to get a little bit more doublestrike. Then followed by a TR. Note; I first had a vision of adding manyshot to the arsenal and the ‘nice’ thing about doing the ER first was to give me an idea of if I could fit all that within the first 20 levels. As it turned out I didn’t like the compromise of less str and con just to add enough dex and int (you need at least 13 int to be able to pick up combat expertise which you need in order to get improved trip). So once I turned right back into TRing (basically finished, found myself outside the door to the reincarnation sphere/thingy and walked in again). This time I resigned to putting more effort into hitting hard and in the back of my mind I’m nurturing taking my level 15 2 weapon fighter that I parked in Cannith for challenge grinding, to add ranged to him, since he already had to add more dex for the ranged stuff. (as a sidenote, I’m thinking I’ll stick with only adding stunning blow to him and not improved trip and then manyshot as the powerful secondary burst feature. Stunning blow is cheap enough as far as investment goes since it only needs strength and ‘it’ as a feat compared to improved trip which also need Int and combat expertise).

So here I was sending Korthos minions to whatever downunder type thing they believe in (afterlife wise anyways) with expedience. I had already managed to hit level one eating XP stones from the daily lottery. About a month or so worth of collecting them. One was a 10k one from a very nice roll, but most of them were the silver type in 300’s and stuff.

Say what you want; but I hadn’t run this guy in such a long time that he was still banking 5 hours worth of 30% XP potion from the level cap in the previous life. That’s nice. And that and Elite streak made Korthos into a gold mine followed by Waterworks and Sharn. By then I had hit 5 and was like 60k away from chewing that XP stone. With 1 hour left of the auction I went to bed, woke up the day after (today) and checked the guy who was auctioning it. And can’t you believe it; of course it sold. So here I now sit with a guy I have to level (yeah, I know) to 20 and a truck load of shards for all the hireling hiring that needs to be done.

BTW – the level 5 rogue is about the best one they have out there. It is absolutely the best made one. At level 5 it can easily find level 7 or more traps and that’s because it comes with that 20 second buff to skills. No other one does as far as I know. And that’s really what you want it for anyways. I never understood the whole need for Turbine to create hirelings with ‘abilities’. Sure, some actually try to use it, but it’s far more taxing to micromanage hirelings (that won’t even use them automatically such as cleave, intimidate etc) then to just drop em and use their abilities when needed. Like trap monkey stuff. Just as I don’t get a hireling for its ability to waste its SP or time on critters, I don’t hire rogues to have them sneak around and try to assassinate with them.

Anyways – I recently hit level 6 1 quest short of finishing Tangleroot Gorge. I got there by doing Shan Da Kor after the Sharn Syndicate so basically I’m just doing chains and with 30% XP potion running and Elite streak it’s quickly done. I’m thinking Deleras after this; another quest chain with good XP and it should help my horc hit 7 or even 8. The nice thing about the recent 2nd and 3rd life XP ramp changes is that you can truly do quests once and done and hit 20. Sure, you could do that (somewhat) before, but now it’s definitely true without Elite streaking or doing some specific quests with amazing XP (like a few necro quests). Plus it also allows me to ‘skip’ some heroic content that is also Epic and save that for a EH streak later on. Like Carnival, 3BC, Sentinel, GH etc. I do wish that if you did the heroic streak that it wouldn’t count as having done it for Epic, but in a different way it can be ‘good’ if there’s a particularly hard quest on Epic that is a lot easier to do in heroic.

The nice thing is also that since there are now plenty of heroic Eveningstar quests that fill the level 14-20 gap (technically 15 but there’s always the option to underlevel stuff) I only need to make it past the Lordmarch quests until I hit 14 and then perhaps do the one in the harbor at 15, go over to Eveningstar and even circumventing Web of Chaos completely to save it for Epic and do the other stuff there instead. I like that much better then doing the Mindsunder/whatever stuff.

So while I didn’t get to take the stone, I look forward to seeing some old stuff again. Altho what I don’t look forward to is to dig around in alts backpacks for gear. That stuff gets old quickly.

Soloing EE

I’ve done it before – on my Sorc and Arti and I do believe Pally. Somethings are definitely possible to solo, due to lower difficulty over all but also because you’re not running into lots of high save, high HP mobs. Like the 1st quest in Web of Chaos or the House of D one out of the level 4 Wilderness. They’re doable eventho things can hit hard the mobs are generally not that big. Basically; if you have the resources to spare and if you have to DC to make it possible, anything can be done.
Now, I don’t solo these things because of the challenge. I’m still trying to get stuff done – so challenge to me just add more resource waste including time spent. But now and then it’s a good way to test some stuff – because on EN and EH things can break fast and it’s hard to say if that improved trip is any good when soloing if it’s almost automatic because you’re playing EN or EH.

Plus it gets skewed by critters too – some times it’s the level of the quest and sometimes it’s the critter itself. Like trying to trip an earth elemental or spider. It can be done but it’s not easier than say a human. I mention this because of several things; first off I managed to pull the boots out of Fleshmaker. Actually strike that; I got it as a choice in the end reward chain list. Finally. That combines permanent greater heroism, 3 tactical boosts (+12 shatter, stunning and vertigo) and adds Speed XV – so 30% run, 15% melee and ranged alacrity. Basically 3 items before that. The collar out of TOR, a seal out of MOTU 2nd chain and your average GH clicky. Oh, did I mention it adds +11 resistance too? Yeah – that’s nice.

Being able to combine all these items into one I ended up removing the Cannith challenge belt I’ve been using since 20. It gives combat mastery which adds to all tactical feats. It also adds some UMD but that was not the primary reason for using it. Instead I added a belt with dodge and fortification.

And with the collar gone I could add the necklace out of haunted halls that I had banked. Which means +4 insightful Dex and more importantly con. So together with the purple knight shield and the true imperial blood augment I managed to put together 40 con. That translates to roughly 1150 HP running Stalwart with all the right stuff. That’s not the most I’ve seen – some run around with 1600, but given the excellent tanking features of my Vanguard tank and it is a good chunk. With nearly 150 PRR and 85 MRR it can take a lick.

I also equipped the ring out of Shadowfell, EN Consuming Darkness – that’s 10 Seeker and more importantly Combat Mastery (the reason I could switch out the challenge belt). And in the other ring slot (the great thing about consolidating things into 1 gear piece) I’m using the Epic unknowing origin ring for now. It’s basically there until I find something better.

I also changed some augments around. Primarily slotting the totemic trinket with a death block augment. That way I could remove the devotion augment from the shield and slot another meteoric. The idea is this; with so much proc’ing I can get a few meteor strikes out of it and knock stuff down while they try to gang up. With one in both shield and sword I get the dual proc effect and a greater chance for one.

I kept the goggles from TOR, they have Truesight no them and I’ve yet to find anything better to replace them with. Currently it’s either (of the slots I have over) goggles and helmet (or perhaps trinket) but none seems to fit my needs.

So the test. I went into the 1st quest of the Web of Chaos chain with my Vanguard tank. This was to check several things. Can it survive a swarm with consecrated ground. Can it aggro stuff and more importantly will the tactical feats work. And they do. Even on orange stuff. I also picked out the Epic tactical feat for some more points, the idea is to be efficient in EH and useful at least some times in EE. In this lowend EE quest it went off like a charm. All attempts to stun and trip. Against orange named. It only failed once against the final orange name kittie.
Second – survivability. I’m not done yet; I still have a fully upgraded thunderforged shadowscale armor with addition DR on it. I’m hoping that will add more PRR, MRR and the additional edge of the DR. But for now the Epic black dragon armor worked and added all the protection I needed. The only noticeable different is the end boss. He hits like a truck so having 1100 was nice. Using consecrated ground worked and adding the odd cocoon. Without having to jump around a lot. It got close some times but it did its job. And the tier 2 thunderforged bastard sword plus purple knight shield did the job DPS wise. And that’s important. If you don’t have the DPS then healing is just a matter of running out of resources. And it worked. The shield can hit for a good 600-1k in damage. The average seem to fluctuate around 600.

The bastard sword seems to crit for about 400-600. Granted, I’m running in Divine Crusader so it’s not the premier DPS destiny but it seems to be an okay average adding a melee smite cleave plus the ones my fighter already has and with shield bash you have several very good sources of more then average DPS.

Add survivability and self healing potential. I’m right now using a lootgen 20% heal amp pair of bracers plus the 30% from the gloves out of E3BC. That’s decent. Add 10% racial (human) and it’s a good 100+ tick from consecrated grounds and cocoon (say 60-100 something per tick).

Now there was a mentioning of someone doing EE low end quests with your basic purple knight tank with basic gear and leaving disgusted over how super duper it was taking basically no damage. That has not been my experience at all. Some quest will surprise you with massive and brutal damage and others will seem almost like a cakewalk. To me tanking is a matter of combining lots of features and using some tactical feats. It’s not just stand and take it – if that’s true we’re talking about some quests that you can do that successfully with other builds too. But the Vanguard tank works; at least in respect to some quests. The tactical feats work, the consecrated ground together with tanking works and the DPS is good enough. Now that’s not like walking into a high end EE and declaring victory but it does mean that with a competent group it will fill an important spot without being entirely worthless. And on my own I will keep pushing content to see where the build breaks down. Where tactical feats stop working, PRR and MRR seems add very little and where the DPS just don’t get the job done. And it’ll be interesting to see how different this will seem using say Legendary where you now put the edge on DPS and let healing and defense take the backstage.

Mark of Death

I’ve done it now on several toons, of them mostly melee type builds and then my Sorc and Arti. And I can tell you this; all of the different toons have a completely different feel to it.

Easiest by far is the Pally – 2 handed Bladeforged. Sure, sometimes you get ‘quelled’ (I know that it’s not ‘quelled’ but since the dang thing hits everyone with the same silly effect I like to call it quelled – under perfect circumstances the system would only try intercession on Divines but as of now it spams it on ANYTHING). My Pally seems to have the greatest balance of survivability against all the stat damage and negative levels along with a good chunk HP and lots of anti dead DPS. In other words a good mix of all worlds.

Second best feeling and with far less HP is my Pure Swashbuckling Drow. It can resurrect and it can add a good chunk of DPS when it counts. It’s hard to get it stuck and the most annoying feature is of course to get the displacement removed due to beholders. But it also comes with a good source of evasion and such, making it able to survive so many situations other melees won’t. It’s versitile and an excellent support running the circle destroying things and resurrecting when needed. Plus you can’t dispel the songs so that those extra heal ticks help along with the additional DC for casters.

My Sorc was the third best feeling; again – it can resurrect anyone using scrolls and it comes loaded with tons of DPS via Shiradi casting. Plus webs actually work – perfect for stopping Vampires dead in its track. Add meteor strike and black acid bolt for DPS against the Abbott and you have a tremendous source of single point DPS. But, it’s quirky. With not that much HP and with little or no defense against stuff other than displacement it does get whacked hard by all the stuff in there. But at least it has some nice abilities to defend itself with. Plus I’m respeccing the spells somewhat, right now using reconstruct as a backup for when intercession turns off the bladeforged reconstruct (yes, running bladeforged is considered being a divine so that part only gets turned off, all other sorc spells work fine).

I had an okay feeling running my Vanguard Tank. It’s not perfect but it can do well in keeping trash under control. However against big targets it’s just not enough explosive DPS. And all that stat damage makes life a misery. It’s less of a problem with my Swashbuckler since he can easily scroll that away (same with my sorc and my Pally can use spell). But my human Vanguard has basically a few potions from MOTU commendation turn in and it’s not enough to get rid of all the stuff in the game. Sure, I could just do entire harper chains for 3 commendations as end reward, thus 3 restore potions, but that’s a lot of running content for what amount to 3 potions. And those 3 potions are done and done before you even run half the raid.

The worst feeling by far was running my Arti. The repeater is not strong enough to do much damage, running on draconic using fire felt weak and the rune arm, the force based one from the first MOTU chain is weak. I’m sure if I ever pull the rune arm from the raid it’ll be better, but right now it feels just like I’m adding little to nothing other than a few buffs. There’s something to be said about the current state of Arti DPS and a lot of it has to do with Destinies that offer secondary buffs at best but nothing to the primary features such as rune arm.

So how is the raid?

Well, first off it’s pure chaos. A good caster can cut the chaos down by controlling beholders through stoning. In fact stoning seems to be the ‘best’ way to control trash. But the HP damage from the ‘mark of death’ clouds and the re-spawning of these elements makes the raid mostly chaos. It’s very little things to control and sometimes it’s quick because you have people who know the raid inside and out and add terrific DPS and othertimes you end up wasting gobs of resources because it’s pure chaos without anything controlling the situation.

Second – the inferno is idiotic. I loath terrible mechanics. Ideally this is meant to be handled by someone creating a ‘island’ in the deadly water where people stand on. But that’s near impossible since there’s no significant control. It’s not that it’s terrible because of the effect, but it’s terrible because the graphics of the inferno will reach almost all the way to the platform edge and even if it seems like you stand in a spot where it’s not you still get hit. But the worst part isn’t the fire damage. It’s the terrible and quite frankly idiotic spell point drain.

I get it in games where you regenerate SP, that would be a tactical part of negating some of the strength of casters. But in the case of DDO with limited blue bar, it’s idiotic. Let me say this again; it’s dumb. Idiotic. Loathsome and completely silly. Because of the way inferno works and how you can’t seem to find a good safe spot (listen to this silly thing; the safe spot is where the ranged shooters respawn BUT only when they’re alive, if they’re killed but the corpse remain for a bit it’s NOT a safe spot anymore). So on EN you get ticked for 200 SP or so per tick and if you don’t remove curses (use curse pot) once or twice to remove the inferno effect you keep taking damage and spell drain.

I hate it. It’s a strong word but when you don’t control things, when these things depend on a arbitrary safe spot based on ALIVE shooters and not something that was killed say 5 seconds ago the idea of safe spots and inferno turns into just an idiotic feature to punish people for something mostly outside their control. And I don’t like that. If you cannot tactically control it, if these effects adds punishing features like spell drain while doing so with terrible visual mechanics you get chaos. No control, all greifing. Like in MOTU. The idea of hiding behind pillars to avoid spell drain don’t work. Adding spell drain where in Elite you get drained for THOUSANDS of spell point you add a feature that’s PURE nonsense. I’m emphasizing these things because it’s important.

If a developer want to add these features they also need to add clear ways of avoiding it. If their mechanics don’t allow this then the effect just feels like a slap in the face. So so far I’ve wasted resources on almost all my guys. That means pots used for no other reason than having no recourse to avoid it. And that’s not fun; that’s not even a challenge. That’s pure spite because Turbine can’t provide a clear visual effect of the effected area.

Add to that beholders, mark of death, quells and then inferno and there’s so much chaos that I just don’t want to consider doing it on EH or EE. If it’s this chaotic and uncontrollable on EN we know that it’s even worse on EH and EE. To me a raid should always be about controlling features. And once you add to many arbitrary and random events you destroy cohesion and it turns into a resource waste. Which brings me to the worst part of the raid.

Extremely low drop rate. You will not see a named item drop. If you do it’s almost a miracle or about ONCE every dozen runs. The drop rates are so abysmal that you’re better of just dropping through 20th runs for that full list on your 20th. You will most likely not see any named items during those 20. Turbine might now have had in mind that people should use raid timers to get to 20th as quickly as possible, but by keeping it this low they only encourage people to raid time themselves to their 20th. Which means a lot of people will spend the first 2-3 weeks doing the content over and over and the long term viability of the raid is compromised since fewer and fewer good players will keep running it in the long run. You only have to look at the latest raids for the proof of this.

To me the ideal thing would be to change it to every 2 days with a chance to shorten it to 1 day using raid timers. So ideally you could run it once a day on the same toon. That would at least put the 20th 3 weeks out if a person ran it once a day. Plus add a realistic drop rate. Such as realistically 1 item per raid group for EN, 2-3 for EH and 3-4 for EE. That means that over the course of those 20 runs here is a chance that you pull or get to roll on an item even if you do EN. So spacing out how often you can do the raid gets combined with a slightly higher chance of pulling one, making the 20 runs (or 40) or of a premium time rather then just a go between 1 to 20 for a full list.

I’d love for Turbine to get rid of spell drain completely. Especially when there’s little to no control. It doesn’t belong in a game with finite resources. It’s boring enough to control your resources in chaos, it just gets frustrating to have to drink potions because you can’t find a safe spot in the chaos due to the fact you stand on a older dead body and not a fresh one. Again, bad mechanics that makes no sense whatsoever. And since there’s not time enough or coordination enough to create those islands like you should because it’s so disconnected – you end up with these situations.

I just can’t find it in my heart to like bad mechanics and arbitrary features. I like challenge; but chaos is not challenge. It’s just a question of how many resources you’re will to waste to get what you want. Which at this time seems to be another raid done towards 20.

Finally; I like the raid (okay). It’s shorter – it removes silly puzzles to adds time sinks and there’s not a slow moment. I’ve already explained what I don’t like. So I keep playing it – because for that time you’re in there you will be doing stuff. Not just stand around while someone do the mirrors or jump all over the place for some idiotic puzzle. Or on off gravity. I just don’t care for that nonsense. Raids can have slight things; but should be about BIG fights with BIG bosses. About 12 people coming together to do BIG things. Not stand in a circle waiting for the the light to turn green.

Some like that stuff; I find it banal.