GW2 – Laurels

I’ve been slacking in GW2 -logging in daily just to claim the reward. That’s because I found out what laurels are useful for – buying ascended gear from laurel merchants!

While the entire playerbase knows about this, I only found out recently. What can I say, I don’t follow updates in games as closely as I used to. Back when I only played one MMO at a time (i.e. 2000-2002 and Asheron’s Call; 2005-2007 and Guild Wars) I was a student of the game, reading every patch note and being fairly knowledgeable about everything in the game. Now, these things slip by and I mostly just pay attention to anything that immediately affects my character (build/trait/skill changes) and shift into accumulation mode for everything else, reasoning that I can hang onto stuff and figure out what to do with it later.

I didn’t play GW2 enough to really be interested in all the collecting and farming required for ascended armor and gear – I didn’t think I’d put enough time into the game to get any of it. I just enjoyed exploring, doing hearts (quests), leveling up, etc. I used to enjoy crafting in MMOs, but lately it has turned towards a major time/money sink in every game, with quest rewards outpacing crafted items and so on. I vaguely had the idea that the best gear involved an extensive crafting sequence and didn’t bother looking into it.

When Heart of Thorns released, I didn’t read too much on what it brought – basically I knew it was set in the jungle and involve gliding.

Anyway, I saw a thread on reddit about how to go about increasing your character’s power. There was decent advice on what to farm and craft, but a surprising recommendation was simply “be sure to buy the ascended trinkets with laurels; they are more of a stat boost than ascended armor plus ascended weapons”. Oh really?!

I had collected laurels without spending them, so I had 80 or so at first. I went to find the laurel merchants in Rata Sum and Hoelbrak after checking the wiki for what was available and was thrilled to upgrade my crappy trinkets for some ascended ones.

Since I bought this stuff on Glyneth, my ranger/druid, I wanted to get a balance between offensive oriented gear for PvE, and defensive/healing oriented gear for group events and support. I decided I liked the “across the board” stats for Syzygy, Lunaria, Solaria, Celestial Sigil, Ancient Mursaat Token, and the Karka Shell.

So far I’ve bought Syzygy, Lunaria, Solaria, the Celestial Sigil, and have also upgraded each one with an infusion. Now I only have 6 laurels so it’ll take a few weeks to get the Ancient Mursaat Token and Karka Shell. But I can see steady progress towards obtaining them! After finishing up buying and infusing these 2 items, I’ll look into what it takes to get ascended armor and weapons; perhaps the grind is something I can slowly work on.

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I logged in and explored Timberline Falls more, participating in 2 events and having a fun time. In the first event, we had to defend 2 areas from undead, and we’re getting overrun. I switched weapons to the staff and started using druid skills to attack/heal. I’m not sure if this made the difference but it seemed easier after this. At least I stopped getting pummeled to 20% health and was instead bouncing around above 80% health while doing OK damage, and ideally healing others. I need to practice more and a druid and get to know the skills better.

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The 2nd event was a straight up fight against a single enemy, the Enhanced Ettin. This event spawns really close to a waypoint so lots of players joined in as the fight wore on. As a result we defeated the ettin really fast.

GoI – Steampunk Airships

Some friends talked me into buying Guns of Icarus, which I had never heard of. It isn’t an MMO, it’s more of a MOBA… team based steampunk airship battles. It was only $10 so I figured what the heck.

It was actually a ton of fun. We are fairly new at the game, and mostly lost, but had a good time doing it.

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Proof of one victory. ;)

There are three roles: pilot, gunner, engineer. I only had time to do the tutorial for the engineering role before we formed a team and entered a battle. We had 1 pilot, 1 gunner, and 2 engineers although the gunner and engineers would swap roles as required – if I was right next to gun when a ship flew by, I’d jump on it and fire some shots. Similarly, our gunner would repair something right next to her rather than wait for one of the engineers to make it over.

I ran around and tried to keep the ship repaired: armor, engines, guns, balloons. It’s hectic and mostly consists of triage, figuring out what to repair when. It is the healing role of this game. My priority list was armor (without that the ship blows up), balloon (for up/down maneuverability), engines (sitting duck without them), and guns.

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It helps to know the layout of the ship, but they aren’t so big to absolutely require that. A little exploration and I was good to go.

It was a fun time playing with 3 friends!

LoTRO – Bear Fatigue

Lone Lands

I got my Beorning, Yrmera, to level 20 and on to Vol 1 Book 2. Except, I decided the Beorning wasn’t really for me.

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It is cool to be a shape-changer and switch to a bear, but ultimately the playstyle isn’t varied. Instead of the 3 or 4 weapon attacks, in bear form you get a swipe and roar and have to revert back to human form when the rage meter depletes, in order to do it again.

What I like in a class are skills that are reactive, things like the guardian’s parry and/or block response chains, or to a lesser degree the variety of skills the burglar has: buffs, debuffs, tricks and trick removal, plus timing of skill application for maximum effect.

I have a minstrel and warden somewhere in the low 60’s, both sitting at Caras Galadhon, both elves… I’m tempted to start up a new hobbit minstrel and/or warden to fiddle around with. I’m leaning towards minstrel because I’m enjoying healers, and I haven’t really played a minstrel since before the double revamping (one revamp of minstrel skills to the new stances and the coda/ballad system; another revamp from the original trait system to the new tree system). As unique as the warden is, the problem is any extended break from playing that class makes it really tough to return. I think the warden skill design is very unique and genius, even if I don’t play enough to retain minimal competence.

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It’s fun playing the early content again, getting to the Lone Lands and viewing Weathertop.

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In other Middle Earth slacker news, Naerys finally reached level 100, outside Pelargir.

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The Grey Company witnessed it.

Rather than continue on from Vol 4 Book 3 Chapter 3, I took a break and spent one to two hours setting up my new Legendary items (club and belt). I bought a bunch of level 100 items off the auction hall, added item experience, deconstructed, fused and melded, and then read up on imbuement, the new (well, since 1.5 years ago) mechanism for legendary items. I think I set Naerys up well (at the least, upgrading from the level 93 club and level 97 belt was a bump in effectiveness).

I also had to figure out what to do with the 3 pieces of armor I had with slots, and the various essences I’ve been collecting from quest rewards. That was easy – right click the essence, click armor to apply to. This system lets players customize the stat bonuses on armor pieces. Yet another thing I had been putting off for dealing with “when I hit max level”.

Finally, I redid my War-steed traits. I had been using an old 2nd age bridle given as a storyline reward, so that was replaced with a new level 100 3rd age bridle. Previously I used a medium bridle but I decided to go with a heavy bridle this time. After fulling specing out the blue tree (“Rohirrim” traits) I had leftover points to pick up several traits in red and yellow (“Red Dawn” and “Riddermark”, respectively).

Quite a few improvements for Naerys!

What’s left is something I’ve gotten more and more lazy about as time goes by, in every MMO I play. Crafting. Part of that is the trend where plain old quest rewards are fine for most use. Another part is the sheer time/money sink crafting tends to be. It is vicious circle where crafting anything less than max level stuff is a waste while leveling – it’ll be replaced soon enough so why bother. On top of that, I’m not to the farthest part of the game yet (i.e. caught up with the storyline at the “last” big city) so surely that’s where the best items, reputation vendors, recipes, etc. are available.

Naerys is my metalsmith but hasn’t crafted her own full set of armor since… well geez I don’t remember. Last full set crafted upon hitting some milestone level? It might be back in the Mines of Moria era, when critted tier 5 Supreme was the best crafted armor. I’ll dig around and see what recipes are available now. I have a feeling crafting has migrated towards LoTRO store purchases (for recipes) or reputation based vendors. I can at least process the tons of ore I’ve been mining along the way and skill up… whether or not I can make anything useful is another question.

My burglar Dhrun, level 82 and back at Harwick (the city characters pick up their War-steed), is my jeweler. I’ve been feeding him various gems that Naerys collects while mining but that isn’t enough to level crafting with. He’ll have to do some work too. ;) Anyway, he probably is far away from making top tier jewelry so Naerys will have to get by with quest reward jewelry (which are generally just fine).

Hero’s Song Kickstarter cancelled

Ouch! I did not see that coming. I didn’t back it, even after the lower tiers were added, deciding I’d check it out when it released.

I suppose it looks terrible if a Kickstarter fails… but then cancelling it after one week can’t be spun positively either. The project couldn’t generate excitement in proportion to its desired funding level…?

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen had a Kickstarter that failed, and it’s Patreon site looks deserted, but it seems to be moving along.

Project: Gorgon had a few Kickstarters fail but their most recent one succeeded. I backed it and log in here and there – ok honestly I’ve just been doing client upgrades but one of these days I’ll wander around again.

So I’m not sure what it means for the project. The team said they needed $800K to finish the game, and now they’ve said they don’t need that money since their investors are backing them all the way.

I think what they’ll do is try another Kickstarter after a few more months, when they fix the mistakes they alluded to: more gameplay, physical items (?? not sure what tchotchkes they think will pull more people in), and better tiers (it was earlier access and then various permutation of design an item in the game).

FF – Starting Out

Over the weekend I started up Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. It was on sale 50% off on Steam, so I figured what the heck. It was frustrating getting an account setup with Square Enix due to some problems with a bad password validation error message and dropped/delayed reset confirmations, but eventually I jumped through that hoop. The Steam integration is lousy as well, because I had to type the registration code (cut-and-paste only worked for the first block). But finally I was able to log in and create a character.

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Once in, I made a female Roegadyn Sea Wolf and started as an archer. I had to choose a nameday (birthday) and a guardian (patron god)… does this factor into the game at all?

The game plays smooth, looks great, sounds great, combat is straightforward… the game is a very polished experience. There are some detailed cut-scenes, in the league of TSW style cut-scenes, even if the ones here are occasionally bizarre.

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I’m following the storyline and my guild quests, which have been pretty standard fare: fetch, kill X mobs, use the item in the correct spot, visit the guy in the next area, etc.

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I reached level 15 on the Archer, and plan to finish my class quest before switching to Lancer. The big draw of this game is playing multiple classes on one character, and eventually taking jobs (fancier classes that combine two basic classes) so I’m going to take advantage.

My only real complaint is that the armor appearance is lousy. I hate my armor and am hoping to replace pieces that don’t look completely stupid.

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This is literally the armor I’ve gotten from questing. It is so terrible I am embarrassed to play. A few levels ago it wasn’t so bad, but as I’ve swapped out quest gear upgrades, the armor has become more and more bikini-like and worse and worse in appearance. I need to figure out the cosmetic system, if there is one, ASAP.

One nice thing about FF14 is you don’t have to supply credit card info to play. Lots of games do even when they include a certain amount of time for free. I have 30 days and never entered any subscription info, so if I decide not to sub, I don’t have to remember to cancel. There is a sub level at the $12.99/month where I can have 1 character on up to 8 worlds. Since in theory I wouldn’t need alts, that sounds perfect.

Sometime Later…

Well I finished the level 15 archer class quest. It was slay some guy making trouble nearby, yadda yadda yadda. Midway through a friendly NPC showed up to help me, which was nice.

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After that I turned the quest, got a level 16 armor item I can’t yet equip, and went to the Lancer guild to switch classes.

I had some questions, like “what happens to my level, stats, armor” and so on when I switch. It turns out you get busted back to level 1 stats since you are level 1 in the new class. The side effect of that, because I had been selling the armor I previously outgrew while leveling up as an archer, is that… you guessed it… I have no armor at all I can equip.

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The almost naked Lancer.

Yes… I’m just not so happy with how things are going on the armor issue.

What’s funny is I’ve seen several characters around, fighting in their skivvies. And I always thought to myself, ah man another creep. Now I’m that player and I suddenly realize that maybe those other people were like me and didn’t realize the need for hanging on to lowbie armor sets for class switching.

It seems obvious in retrospect. Dammit.

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After getting to level 6 as a Lancer, and still not receiving any armor (ok… I got boots and gloves) I gave up and bought some at a merchant. The two kinds of armor seem to be Disciples of War armor, for the melee classes, and All armor usable by everybody, so the Disciples of Magic too. Since I’m ultimately going to switch to Conjurer I figured I’d just start buying/collecting armor usable by every class. Thus my not-so-melee-looking armor.

I’m having a different issue now, running out of quests. I’ve cleared pretty much every quest below level 10 already, which leaves me scrounging. I had to do 2 levequests just to get to level 5 and don’t have many options now. I’m not going to be excited grinding mobs to level until I can get some quests again. For that matter, I might be totally out when it comes to leveling a Conjurer.

B&S – Quick Impression

I decided to check out Blade & Soul, the latest F2P Korean MMO to launch. So far so good… combat is fun but I haven’t played enough to form an opinion on the rest of the game.

I tried playing a Blade Master and a Kung Fu Master, both melee classes. Combat utilizes the left and right mouse buttons, number keys, and sometimes the tab key. Basically you attack with the left mouse button, which cycles through 2 builder attacks to unleash a 3rd more powerful attack.  You can block with the right mouse button (or the 1 key), avoiding damage, and if you block you can counter-attack with a different skill for big damage.

Combat isn’t tab-target based – you have to get in range and face your opponent, so overall combat is a mix of timing and positioning. In this next shot, you can see the targetting reticule showing my range to the monster – 13m in this case. That’s too far for my hand-to-hand attacks so I have to get closer.

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Most fights are fairly short, giving the feeling of power, versus an attrition-style wearing down the enemy over a lengthy fight.

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The questing became a fairly typical advancement from quest hub to quest hub, with the minor difference that there aren’t that many quests at each, just 2 or 3 besides the storyline quest.

This game has a sprint feature, for a limited time based on endurance (whatever the green bar is under those blue circles – when you sprint that bar decreases). It’s handy to zip from mob to mob or run back to turn in a quest.

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If you jump when sprinting, and then hit space, you glide for a bit. Yep, feels just a little bit like Guild Wars 2. ;) Another thing that feels a bit like GW2 is that hitting F or Y generally advances quest dialogs, picks up quest items, etc. I kinda like the general purpose “response” key actually, much better than hunting around to click a small button or something like that.

I’ve played about an hour fiddling around on 2 chars. It’s a decent game but then at only 1 hour into it, I claim no deep insights. I personally enjoy the more involved quests of TSW or ESO, and so far I haven’t been given any skill choices. One of my favorite things about the original Guild Wars was taking hundreds of skills and mix-n-matching them to make a build. Here, new skills show up already bound to keys and so far, that’s it. Granted, at level 6 I’m not expecting too much.

Hero’s Song

I’m a fan of roguelikes – starting years ago when I played a lot of Moria. I keep an eye on the genre and currently have a bunch installed on my computer:

Through Steam I have a few more:

I’m being loose with the categorization but these I feel these mostly fall into the roguelike category.

I don’t actually play all these regularly, and if I’m honest many are around for nostalgic reasons. I’m spoiled too and the ones with fancier graphics than ascii graphics see more play.

Anyway, so I read the new about Hero’s Song. An open world rogue-like fantasy game done in 2D pixel art style. with pixel art – cool!

The Kickstarter page doesn’t mention what platform is supported, but since the video shows brief clips of Visual Studio on various monitors, I’m guessing Windows will be there. ;) I see Wilhelm noticed this and Smedley’s response that Mac and consoles will also be supported.

This looks like a game I would enjoy. The pledge tiers seem kind high, minimum $25, next smallest increment $50?! For that much in a Kickstarter money raising situation, I have a few questions.

I’m curious how the servers will work – will Pixel Mage run a few “official” servers, or will there only be player-servers? I’d hate to lose access to my char when somebody goes on vacation for a few weeks and hibernates their computer. Or just decides to shut down the server. A corollary question is: how solo-able is this game – if I don’t feel like putting a server up 24×7 for others, can I just populate a world and fiddle around on my own?

What happens when your character ascends? The video says that they become some sort of god and other can use them in the creation of worlds. Okay, that’s awesome, what does that mean for me, do I reroll? Do something like DDO and reincarnate (start over but with a few more points to allocate for attributes)? I’m used to having an end in roguelikes (you defeat Morgoth in Angband, escape to the surface in Cogmind, cross the galaxy in FTL, etc.) so if it really just means your character has some kind of score calculated and posted on a high score page, that’s fine. I just want to know.

I might wind up waiting for the release to buy it for $20.