Monthly Archives: March 2016

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.

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.

 

PK to my PF

So I keep calling Phantasmal KILLER Phantasmal Force. Now don’t my top hat look bright red.

I must say tho – PK works beautifully for what it’s intended to do. In general I presume that as I slowly improve on the features boosting the PK – it’ll also increase in performance compared to prior experiences. It’s true that you can only get so much out of something – there’s a limit to the DC, the spell pen and everything else – but even minor improvements if you’re hitting 50-60 percent means another 10 percent point above that.

And that in turn means that instead of using 2 PK to blow up things, maybe 1.5. Point being, it’s not the ultimate weapon – the trade off being a limitation or focus – less DPS focus and more insta kill focus. That’ll come to blows when you deal with say things that can’t be hurt by PK, but for everything that can, it’ll work dutifully.

I’ve also started using circle of death more. It was never something on my mind before. But the spells ability to either hit someone with neg levels or outright kill it but in an AOE capacity is nice. It’s not quite WotB but it is ranged. And surprisingly effective at softening up a group of critters.

One way to do it on the cheap; hit a group with Color Spray and then drop a circle of death on them. It works. Follow up with some DPS spells for anyone that survives.

As long as the lag don’t kill you – there’s a chance that a Gnomes arsenal will prevail.

Re-Gnomed

Hitting 30, I turned around and started prepping for another Iconic Deep Gnome Wiz. This was mostly me starting to groom my inventory (I would so love at least one more personal and 1 back inventory slot) to trim down and empty the reincarnation cache.

It’s always a painful, long and arduous experience for me.

And when I couldn’t fit everything I had to unlock another bank slot plus 2 inventory by running some low level stuff.

Having already experienced Deep Gnome twice I’m now working on ensuring I practice some of those experiences. Such as keep a tight ship. If you have an idea what made things work last time – build on it and sharpen the stick.

I ran almost all quests including Epic. So I have a fresh idea what works and what not. PF works – but it needs more dedication. And when it doesn’t work – you need a back up plan.

I call my build a Phantasmal Dualists. Meaning a six shooter type PF killer.

  1. Color Spray works for most part. Keep it solid. It’s an excellent way to blind creatures at the least and stop them dead in their tracks at the most.
  2. Phantasmal force works on everything living except puddings and the like (and construct types)
  3. Broadly speaking Evocation, Enchantment and Illusion will cover most important scenarios in the quests.
  4. I invest Intelligence, Constitution and Wisdom. Int and Con at Max and the rest on Wisdom.
  5. Invest in Spot and Search. Search is int based and you can easily pop into the 60-80s by the time you’re level 30. Enough to find most traps and such.
  6. Detect traps. Level 1 Divine spell and scroll. Buy a stack of it. When rogues can’t find something, you can. Hunter’s Spyglass is terrific here. It adds search and spot. It’s either a simple switch over or perma gear early on.
  7. Each past life of Deep gnome gives +1 Illusion DC and +5 Acid Spell Power – it is perhaps the singular most powerful Iconic past life for casters.
  8. As a Deep Gnome there’s a host of different insta killing spells in play. 2 cheap PF (SLA), FoD, Circle of Death, Powerword Kill and Wail of the Banshee

In the land of the Blue Tentacles

The ironic part of mostly soloing is that once that is the only functional option; you notice and miss not soloing. Such as join a group to romp through EE stuff or do the usual weekend raids.

One way to break through the mold of boring questing is to try something else. I like raids. I rather jump on a raid than hitting another level – because reincarnating becomes tedious. And quickly. Particularly if you’re not exactly ‘digging’ a build and you’re doing it for ulterior motives such as past lives etc.

And such I bomb through EGH from level 23 to 24 and then other content moving onto 25. Once I hit 25 I was sorta fed up.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how pathing and agro is completely borked now. Critters will run off bridges, fall off edges and other nonsensical things or you can find an entire group agroing through walls in droves standing there running into the wall, eventho you weren’t even nearby. Whatever have happened the actual area of detection is either enormous and whatever script that kept creatures for taking the shortest path to you is broken.

I can see where there are a few scenarios where that can break the quest, but so far it’s just annoying as some half death falls into a lake or pool and then snaps back at full health.

So far the insta killing stuff is working – you really need the dual SLAs because the chance seems to be firmly around 50-60 percent and with the odd failure to spell pen. Making slapping PF a question of using 2 to kill some creatures.

It’s not ideal; but one way of doing the best with what you have. And once I hit 30 it’s time to do another iconic. Just to add a little incremental to the bottom line.

Not Epic Elite worthy

Again, I don’t build stuff to beat Epic Elite. Not at first and not now really. Maybe down the line when I have completionist or whatever – but it’s not something I intentionally work for.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t underbuild to not be able to perform – but I never intentionally multi class to be uber either. My aim is not to be the best of best. Only good and have fun.

The fact that a level 23  can’t be a CC god in level 26 content doesn’t bother me. Maybe it should. Maybe I should switch to exalted Angel and go max. Maybe.

Or maybe I should just enjoy my game, get the whole wiz things over and go back to the build I really like?

yesterday didn’t bother me – what bothered me was that I could get stuff done. Not that I didn’t lead the kill count. But that the lag was so so severe at times that I cycled through spells and had no feed back. And once I saw an enemy barrel down on my gnome, it was almost too late. Know that the hobgobling or whatever had already killed me, as 10 seconds flew by with me stuck and shuddering and the ding came and it was over and done with.

I tried something else solo afterwards on Hard and it worked better. But there was a lag delay, like a half a second between the click and the registration that was frustrating. Especially when you have stuff in your face and it felt like the response was delayed and as the critter circled around you, you kept firing something just to waste it as out of line of sight.

The mechanics of the game can be bad sometimes. Stumble across a low grade in the terrain and break the casting. Therefore most people jump and cast. Fire upward and the shots hits whatever the enemy stands on, as if all spells and such fire at the feet and not center.

If someone is close you sometimes missfire – eventho you are quickened. Trying to set off a blade barrier is sometimes a pain as even with quickening it doesn’t register if you stub your toe on the ground, something happens etc. The system is finicky enough – and with the lag delays it seems to mess with the response, causing spells to not registering.