LoTRO – Finishing up the Lone Lands

My typical leveling path in LoTRO is to go from Bree to the Lone Lands. I know that there are some high-teens levels quests in north Bree, and those lead right into the early quests in Trestlebridge, but by the time I’m done with the Barrow-Downs area I’m also ready to start Vol 1 Book 2, the Red Maid, and that is all in the Lone Lands.

As a result, I’ve played through the Lone Lands many times and was ready to move along from Ost Guruth and wrap up Vol 1 Book 2.

I also wanted to work on virtues, including slayer deeds, so I used one of my daily hobbit gifts – a 90 min accelerator – and went into Nan Dhelu looking to kill as many undead as possible. Which was easy because it is filled with them and Radagast sends you in twice for various quests.

Along the way I ran into a rare Elite I hadn’t seen before – Klakki. He caught me a bit by surprise because I thought he was the Master of Nan Dhelu, a different quest I was trying to finish. But it was fine, my yellow line Beorning (The Roar) feels pretty strong.

As for virtues, I’m revamping a bit after finding a guide for healing Boernings, what I plan to do for group content later on. It turns out that I’m a huge fan of mitigation and resistance virtues, so much so I was essentially slotting tank virtues, where healers would find outgoing healing and critical rating more valuable.

I could probably try both (i.e. level up both sets of virtues) in case I want to try tanking, but for now I’ll work on getting healing virtues up, one at a time, and slowly replace my current loadout.

I did finish up Vol 1 Book 2, and right as I was leaving the Lone Lands, I dinged level 30. Which let me start my level 30 class quest… out of Ost Guruth. So I turned around and did that too.

Off to Esteldin, to talk to Halbarad and start Vol 1 Book 3.

*put on geezer hat and sits in rocking chair*

I remember in the “old” days when you had to RUN to Esteldin the first time. No mounts until level 40. Young ‘uns got it easy with mounts at level 20 and even lower.

*old timer mode off*

In fact it’s easier still! I talked to Candaith at his campfire just NW of Weathertop and it turns out his horse will fast travel you to Esteldin. No more long run from Trestlebridge!

I remember the first time I ran out to Esteldin on my then main character, a hunter in the low 30’s. No mount yet, I asked in kinship how rough the run was. Everybody said: no problem at all, very easy. And it was quite safe, sticking to the road I didn’t even aggro anything. It just took a few minutes to cruise through the countryside.

FF14 – Summoner and Scholar

I’m cruising along in the MSQ, having gotten past the awkward spot where I was high enough level to specialize into a job, but not far enough in the MSQ to be allowed to do it. I reached Sylph-Management at level 33, so not as bad as I originally feared.

Again, I’m doing just the MSQ and class quests, no dallying with side quests for now. I’m on the free trial and I’m heavily leaning towards subscribing, I figure I also want to maximize my trial and reach level 60 on a job!

I was about to take a break from being an Arcanist (and now Summoner and Scholar) and try out Marauder (Warrior) but I talked myself out of it for now. That’s on the todo list but I also want to try healing a dungeon, as well as finish some class quests.

Scholar quests haven’t been a problem, I’m getting to them and finishing. The level 35 quest led to a beautiful fantasy viewpoint, the Floating City of Nym.

However, my Summoner class quest progress is currently blocked. In order for me to do the level 35 Summoner quest, Austerties of Earth, I have to first defeat a primal Titan, and by my count that is 40 (!) quests in the future – Lord of Crags, in order to unlock a dungeon, The Navel.

Of course, the MSQ is supposed to be shortened so I’ll see if it is actually 40 more quests from my current “Highbridge Times” to “Lord of Crags”. Even if it is shortened, I’ll probably attain level 40 before being able to do the level 35 class quest, so I’ll have 2 unfinished Summoner class quests to do.

I suppose this is really a First World MMO Problem: oh no, I’m leveling too fast – due to a xp buff in my free trial – that I’m outpacing the original carefully spaced character skill unlocks. 😉

One nice change since I last played is that Minfilia hands over several “Vesper Bay Aetheryte Tickets”, allowing me to teleport to the edge of Vesper Bay rather than having to go to Horizon Bay and then running over. That was super annoying given how often players have to visit Scion HQ.

FF14 – Level 30+

I’m still chugging along in FF14, and… I don’t want to seem like a complainer, but… well I think the streamlining of the MSQ and so forth could use a bit more fine tuning. Still having fun and have some plans for trying out other classes/jobs.

I appreciate the massive xp bump. I’ve literally only done the MSQ and my class quests for XP (outside one or two quests at the very beginning, city orientation type quests of the “go talk to the vendor” mostly to point out where the market in Limsa Lominsa is). Other than that, I’ve noticed substantial xp from discovering a new zone for the first time. And that’s it. No leve quests, no repeatedly running a dungeon, no grinding, no extra questing, no hunting log, nothing. If I have to kill X number of mobs, I do it and return to the quest giver. I try to aggro as little as possible, get my stuff done, and zip out.

I’m past the Tam-Tara and Copperbell Mines mandatory grouping, reached level 31, but not far enough in the MSQ to unlock jobs yet. Or join a Grand Company. Or get a chocobo mount.

Granted, not having the mount and/or Grand Company is kind of independent of level – if the intent is to quest along and unlock Grand Companies (which the chocobo quest is dependent on) at a certain point, well then I’m on track since I haven’t gotten there yet.

But I was kind of looking forward to opening up Summoner and Scholar at level 30, but specializing into jobs depend on the Sylph-Management quest, which by my count is about 15 quests in the future (unless the MSQ is abbreviated from now on). I might be level 40 by then! 😉 Only half joking.

Again, this isn’t a terrible outcome, but there are perhaps some unintended consequences of doubling xp gain. So far I haven’t noticed an appreciably slimming of the MSQ. One is I’m massively overleveled for the combat. A recent quest had me save someone from undead. The enemies that spawned were level 13. I’m 31. I think there is some downleveling involved but by the time I applied my 2 DoTs on target 1 and switched to the next one, the first one died. This is probably not the challenge intended.

Another example: doing the “Amalj’aa Wrong Places” quest. Thancred sends me into camp to find some information, which is guarded by 2 or 3 warriors. But they are level 18, I’m 31, they don’t even aggro. So I waltz in, grab the papers, and I’m out without even fighting or trying to avoid them. I could start a fight but what’s the point, I’m 13 levels higher.

The other thing is the gear I’ve received from my class quests (and dungeons) are outclassing the quest rewards from the main scenario. Minfillia wants to give me a quest reward: a weapons box containing a level 18-21 weapon. I’ll be courteous and avoid trashing right in front of her but I already have a level 30 weapon (book) from a class quest reward. Somewhere along the way every MSQ reward is worse than what I already have, or unusable, so I’ve been taking the Disciple of War gear instead, in order to have some gear for an eventual class/job switch up.

OK in the grand scheme of things this isn’t terrible. It’s just I think the MSQ could be trimmed and aligned better, so that the blocking Sylph-Management quest occurs around the time you reach level 30. And maybe inch the Grand Company/chocobo throttle up as well. Like short circuit most of the stuff after Copperbell Mines to Sylph-Management.

Well I’ll be through this section soon enough. After joining a Grand Company, getting a mount, and unlocking jobs, the next milestone will be much higher, say level 50 or 60. I’m sure the MSQ will catch up, that is, the leveling boost won’t outpace the MSQ so much at higher levels, and it’ll all work out. Certainly the boost is nice getting a first character to Heavensward and further.

FF14 – Sastasha

I had done this dungeon before, and it was next up for me again. After a brief refresher watching MTQCapture’s Sastasha Dungeon Guide, I queued up.

After a wait of about 10 mins – not sure if that is fast, average, or slow – a group formed and we entered.

Since Sastasha is the first dungeon in the MSQ, it is fairly easy and we sailed through with no problems. It was still fun though!

After finishing this, the MSQ had me travel to Gridania and report to Tam-Tara Deepcroft. I remember this a little bit… but I’ll rewatch a video beforehand as well. Since it was a bit of travel to get there and I was out of time, I decided to log out and make my way to Deepcroft next time.

Next time I do Sastasha I’d like to try it as a healer. There is a healing role available to me as an arcanist when I reach level 30 and have the option of taking up the Scholar job. But with the level sync and so on, can a Scholar go into Sastasha, a level 15 dungeon? I’m not sure.

It appears to me the only healing class for Sastasha (i.e. a healer at level 15 ish) is Conjurer, which is a class I wasn’t planning to train. Hmmmm.

I’m also interested in Rogue/Ninja and Marauder/Warrior, so maybe I’ll be back as one of those classes. I’m a bit leery of going in as a tank because I’m not familiar with the route through. But after more runs as other DPS and healer I’ll be more comfortable giving it a shot.

XP boost is still large, and perhaps on top of generous dungeon XP. I leveled twice doing Sastasha! From 22.5 to 24. That was really nice.

LoTRO – Bears

So one “problem” with LoTRO is I like all the classes. After any kind of break, when I come back, I think about starting again. The general thought process is:

  • Let’s try a pet class – I’ll make a Captain or Lore Master
  • Oh but healers are useful – I’ll make a Minstrel or Rune-Keeper
  • Ah but the gambit skill system is so unique – I’ll make a Warden
  • Hm it’s fun to start fellowship maneuvers – I’ll make Burglar

And that’s how I wind up with 5 characters and do the starting area (which these days encompasses Shadows of Angmar, the entire original game) over and over.

This time I decided to restart with a Beorning. I’ve still got my boosted chars that are trying to sync up with my coworker that plays… but in the meantime I want to remember the previous content I haven’t been to in ages.

I like Beornings: they can be a tank (blue, the Hide), dps (red, the Claw), healer/support (yellow, the Roar), so very flexible. I’m playing a yellow line Beorning now and it is very survivable and mows down the enemies.

It’s fun the shape change from man to bear and back. Only annoyance is you have to be in man form to harvest resources and talk to other NPCs.

As for as questing – I actually feel bad killing other bears as a Beorning, and avoid taking those quests and also try to avoid killing bears! But if one aggros on me… well it’s every bear for themselves and I plan to survive.

Beornings get a travel skill called Wanderlust, which is slower than a horse but instant to enter. It’s handy for running around while finishing off a quest.

I don’t have to worry about Power, so I can chuck all those blue potions. (Well, put them into shared storage in case another char can use them). Beornings use Rage instead of Power.

If you make your Beorning with facial tattoos… they show up when you are in bear form. Cool! I have 3 red slashes which are there even if they are hard to see in the pic.

I’m playing my Beorning slightly differently, by working on deeds along the way. Exploration deeds, quest deeds – those were typically the only ones I did. At least after the Virtue system changed and let you train them by doing any deed, rather than locking Determination +1 or whatever to specific monsters in specific areas. But that change was years ago.

This time I’m checking off several kill deeds too, in an effort to keep my Virtues level appropriate. I will admit to purchasing some accelerator scrolls which do help by cutting the number of kills needed in half.

I decided the most appropriate crafting for a Beorning is Woodsman. I can cure hides and collect wood with Forester, make some weapons/instruments/carvings with Woodworker, and generally ignore Farming. (For making food I generally have an alt take up Yeoman, which includes Cook and Farmer. Then they can grow the needed foods and also cook them. The crafting quests that would have been tricky to do on a lowbie were streamlined away so an alt can park in a good area and crank out the tasty treats!)

Anyway, I’m currently level 27 working on Vol 1 Book 2 out of Ost Guruth. My Lore-Master is in the low 40’s in Book 5 in the Misty Mountains… I’m not abandoning that char but for now I’m enjoying the Beorning more. My goal is to stick to an 80-20 system for my chars: spend 80% of my time playing my main, and 20% divided between all alts.

What I really need to do is tape a sign behind my monitor that says: Rather than play an alt, play a different game!! Because I would like to get some variety be rotating among LoTRO, FF14, and ESO.

FF14 – Return to Eorzea

Azuriel posted about the upcoming patch to FF14, which among other things… makes 60 levels of content available for free.

*wheels turning*

Hm… I played FF14, twice. Once on PC, and then I tried it on the PS4 but for that game, vastly prefer keyboard/mouse. (ESO works well enough with a controller, I don’t mind it. While a controller worked for FF14, it felt kinda clunky).

60 levels is… very generous! WoW gives you what, 20? That only lets you try one or two dungeons at most. You’re barely into your skills. Heck on classic playing a paladin, level 20 still felt like the one-button-class.

Anyway, I decided to roll up a new account, so I created a new email address solely to allow me to participate in this.

After looking over the updated class/job chart on a wiki, I decided to start with an Arcanist, working towards the Summoner and Scholar jobs. I unlocked those the previous time I played. Also available in Limsa Lominsa is Rogue and Ninja, which is also one of my many plans. And perhaps if I also wanted to try tanking I could train Marauder and Warrior, also available in Limsa Lominsa. Not that I can’t eventually travel to Ul’dah or Gridania, but it keeps things simple for now.

The other big decision was what race. I like the looks of the female Roegadyn, and well… not much else really grabs me. So I went with the least bad option and started a male Lallafel. What the heck, I like short races (e.g. Hobbits in LoTRO).

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Now, after approximately 5 hours of play over the weekend, i.e. 10 pomodoro chunks of time as explained in a previous post, I reached level 17. I’ve been following the main scenario quests (MSQ) and reached Feint and Strike; meanwhile I’ve also done my class quests, so at level 15 I picked up my topaz carbuncle.

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I have skipped all other quests, avoided Fates and Levequests, except possibly one or two very early quests, of the deliver or talk to NPCs standing in Limsa Lominsa variety – basically extended tutorial and/or city orientation quests. The reason I’m skipping all quests other than the MSQ and class quests are to leave them in case I do decide to level an alt class/job.

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Reaching level 17 only doing main and class quests (and not even being that far along) is proof the current leveling xp buff is a significant one. I mean Feint and Strike is listed as level 14 and I’m a few levels higher essentially only doing the storyline.  I’m not even far enough along in the MSQ to open travel to the other starting cities! I remember being throttled on my char when I tried previously – I had started as a Lancer in Gridania but wanted to do Pugilist and Monk and had to wait to unlock more travel options.

I’m curious what streamlining the patch will bring when the game is back tomorrow!

Time Management

A few months have passed in this unusual state of affairs, grieving (for me) and pandemic (the world with the US hit extra hard due to… self inflicted inaction and stupidity), and I’ve filled my time with a bunch of activities. Reading, watching TV, gaming, hiking… plus some things I’ve always wanted to try out, like crochet (goal: make a “grandma square” to use as an elbow rest/pad), language (study Chinese, or maybe ASL), music (I bought a ukulele a few weeks ago, and saw with great interest that Aywren also picked several up!).

With all that also came the need for a time management strategy. After some web searches I settled on the pomodoro technique, which is to divide up your time into 30 minute chunks: work on your task for 25 mins, take a 5 min break; repeat.

I bought a fancier timer than what is needed, the Dataxx Time Cube. The red model happens to have 25 and 5 minute sides, as well as 10 and 20 minutes. Use it by turning the cube so the time increment you want is on top, and the countdown automatically starts.

What I do is settle into something, turn the 25 side up, do stuff… turn the 5 side up, etc.

This helps me sort my time into periods long enough to where I get something done, but short enough to not feel overwhelming. Plus, the 5 min break. Every 4ish cycles, I take a longer break.

The second thing I started doing is make a bullet journal. Actually mine is barebones, and more of a bullet spreadsheet, with dates as rows and the columns labeled with what I want to track. E.g. “hike/run”, “read”, “tv/movie”, “games”, “ukulele”, etc. What I record is the number of pomodoro time chunks I spent doing whatever, so if I read for 1 hour and gamed for 2, I enter 2 and 4 (since the timer is in 30 min chunks of time) respectively.

This lets me see quickly if I’ve been slacking and not doing an activity for a few days, say ukulele practice. It also lets me see if I’m crazy binging on something in particular, like gaming for 6 hours which then eats up time for anything else.

My bullet spreadsheet is at least the 3rd iteration of this system and this one seems to be light and easy enough to be useful. Minimal format and data, but provides useful information at a glance.

The point isn’t to be militant about my time, I just want to look back over this weird period and feel like I was somewhat productive, and have something to show besides max level characters in an online game. 😉 And figuring out how I spent my time is a part of that.