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October in Review October 31, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
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The Site

Not much to complain about this month.  I changed the site theme a few times one weekend, but still cannot find one that is better than the current theme on all fronts.

I converted a couple of much-used tags into categories on the blog, so if you want to pull up, as an example, all of my posts that were formerly tagged “Quote of the Day” or “YouTube” or “Null Sec,” they are now available under the Categories drop-down on the side bar.  That makes them just slightly more convenient to get to.

I do want to thank fellow New Eden resident JD who sent me two PLEX in game because he likes the blog.  While I have a media account (got that a few months back) for that other blog I run, I certainly could use the ISK that selling a couple of PLEX provides.  I have been living off of ship reimbursement money for a long time as I haven’t really been interested in any of the ISK making aspects of the game for quite a while now.  I do not sow.  My indolent life as a fleet op pilot has been extended, I do not need to go get a “real” job in New Eden quite yet.

So I immediately ran out and bought a new ship for the current deployment.

Basilisk at a wormhole

Basilisk at a wormhole

The Basilisk makes me a Reaver space priest of sorts… would that be a shaman?

One Year Ago

EverQuest: Mactinosh Edition was slated to shut down after a ten year run.  Meanwhile, EverQuest Live launched Call of the Forsaken, the game’s 20th expansion.  The Fippy Darkpaw server made it to The Buried Sea expansion.  Meanwhile, in EverQuest II, insta-level characters were set to become a thing.

With the release of Pokemon X & Y, which required upgrading to Nintendo 3DS hardware, I was saying farewell to the series.  Little did I know I would be pulled back in a few months down the road.

As part of some NBI event I attempted to recount all the guilds I had joined over the years.

Somebody was attempting to remake the old Kesmai game Stellar Emperor.

Path of Exile finished up beta and was officially live.

After a post-F2P boom, Trion went back to paring down the number of servers for Rift while its servers in China were shut down completely.

The instance group was still running Foundry modules in Neverwinter.

I was trying out War Thunder.  After failing to get through the tutorial for World of Warplanes, I opted for its competitor, which seems better suited for the inept like me.  I was able to get out there and be a target for other players while bombing at least.

In New Eden our gate camp deployment to the Curse region was wrapping up almost as soon as it started.  It felt like we had just snuck in.  It was time to go home to the quiet of Deklein for a while and wait for the Rubicon expansion.  While there I finally bought my first capital ship, an Archon carrier.  It went for its first jump and then stayed docked for almost a year.  Of course, I found out I had a lot of stuff sitting in hangars around New Eden.  Nine million things, to put a number to it.  And CCP was setting up classes for new players… which was great if you lived in the European time zone.

I was pondering the “journey vs. destination” question with MMOs while feeling a bit wistful that World of Warcraft holidays were not offering much new.

And we finally ditched AT&T DSL for Comcast cable-modem internet, resolving the bandwidth sharing problems at our house.

Five Years Ago

Last year at about this time Torchlight came out, giving a lot of people a Diablo-like injection of fun.  It didn’t have a lot of replay value for me.  Once I burned through the game once I was pretty much done, which made it unlike Diablo II, which I returned to a number of times.  But it was just $20 and gave us a taste of what Runic might be able to deliver going forward.

I was on a MUD history kick, with tales of exciting ways to die in Kobold Village, the Kobold Temple of the Unholy, getting lost in the Faerie Forest, and all the rooms in TorilMUD.

It was also the three year anniversary of the regular Saturday night instance group, and I presented a summary of what we had done.

A couple of us scouted the then newly Free to Play Dungeons & Dragons Online as a possible next game for the instance group, but it didn’t stick.

I was able to buy the Adventurer’s Pack for Lord of the Rings Online and get the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for free.  Not as good of a deal as monthly subscribers got I understand, but a decent deal.  Of course, LOTRO has changed a lot since then.

In World of Warcraft October that year saw me finish off both the Brewfest and Hallow’s End meta achievements.  I was still left with one achievement for each holiday though.  Fun was had with pumpkins and the Headless Horseman.

The instance group returned to Utgarde Keep to take on Utgarde Pinnacle, at that time the last five-person dungeon in Northrend.  We were victorious and gained the Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement.  But otherwise we were deciding on where the group should go next.

And Blizzard was busy merging everybody’s WoW account into a Battle.new account because… well, it wasn’t because of better security.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Tech 3 Destroyers and Other Tidbits from EVE Vegas Keynote
  2. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  3. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  4. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  5. The Insta-90 Choice is… Death Knight
  6. First Glance at WoW 6.0
  7. The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Super Caps…
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Notes from an Undisclosed Location in the Insmother Region
  10. Rome – City Assaults are Difficult
  11. Planetary Annihilation Goes Round and Round
  12. New Eden Alt Creation Becomes Easy with Phoebe

Search Terms of the Month

anyone like “fansy the famous bard” shown up lately?
[Not around these parts, no]

what to do with 30 cents on steam
[Wait for Valve to make a pricing mistake]

where is the first quest in stonetalon mountains
[I know where you're stuck!]

“diablo iii” “auction house” admit
[Don't worry, they admitted it was bad]

EVE Online

Null Sec started the month in a panic about the changes coming with the Phoebe expansion.  Free wheeling jaunts across the width and breadth of New Eden would soon be relegated to memory as crippling jump fatigue became a thing.  And then everybody seemed to decide to use the last couple of weeks to get in some last hits while prepping for the new reality.  The musical chair metaphor has been used to describe the reshuffle of alliance locations in null, and the music is about to stop.  It will be interesting to see the before/after map comparison.  And will there be any open space on the map for new players in the sovereignty game?

Total War: Rome II

This continues to be our Friday night game and we still have aspects of the multiplayer skirmish game to explore… not to mention just getting better at handling troops in the field.  One of the problems with being a long time MMO player is that I find skirmishes mildly unsatisfying over time.  Get your pieces out, fight the 20 minute fight, look at the result, reset.  As painful as it was at times, I think I preferred the long term campaign that Civilization V gave us.  I still do not love the AI in Civ V though, so I am not aching to go back to that.  As always, while playing the current game I am looking around for what might be the next.

World of Warcraft

If I don’t get the Headless Horseman’s mount today, the last day of Hallow’s End, I may very well scream.  I mean, up there in the “five years ago” section I mention us hunting him, and we didn’t get the mount back then.  Ah well, the random number generator will make you its bitch.

Otherwise it has been a month of tidying up, getting used to the changes with 6.0, enjoying having a bunch of free bag space, and otherwise killing time before Warlords of Draenor drops.  It is still theoretically possible that I could have a fifth level 90 character by then.  Or I might just max out archaeology at last.  We shall see.

Coming Up

Holy crap, November will be hella crazy when it comes to the games to which I pay attention.

There will be expansions to examine in EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Expansions to play in World of Warcraft and EVE OnlinePokemon Alpha Ruby & Omega Sapphire will show up on the back end of the month.  There will be BlizzCon and whatever Bilzzard is planning to spring on us, and then the World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary… and before that there will be the EverQuest II 10 year anniversary.

These are among the reasons why I haven’t bothered to grab Civilization: Beyond Earth or been very interested in Steam’s Halloween Sale.  My dance card is full.  My calendar of posts is filling up.  I am glad I decided to take the week of Thankgiving off from work.

And I am sure I have missed something on that list.  What else is coming up in November?

 

Song of the South October 31, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in EVE Online, Null Sec.
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Lots of big shiny things to shoot way down  in the southeast corner of New Eden.  Cue Jaws sound track…

Of course, they aren’t all there anymore.

I do not think I have ever been this far south on the map.  New space to see.

The Instance Group Mostly Finishes Off Pandaria October 30, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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Warlords of Draenor will be dropping in about two weeks, so it was clearly time for the long standing instance group to shake off the warm glow of summer and get back to work in Pandaria.  Last week it was just Skronk and I online on Saturday night.  We doubled that number this time around as Ula had resolved her authenticator issue and Earl felt a bit healthier, so the lineup for the night was:

  • Skronk – Level 89 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Ula – Level 89 Gnome Mage DPS
  • Alioto – Level 90 Night Elf Feral Druid DPS
  • Earlthecat – Level 90 Human Warrior Tank

While it wasn’t a full group, Earl and I had run to level 90 and subsequently equipped ourselves with gear from Timeless Isle, so we were much more powerful than we would have been if all of us had been level 89.  We certainly felt we had a shot at the last three normal mode, five person instances in Pandaria.  We would have a mighty tank at least, which would no doubt help Skronk come to grips with the healing changes that hit with the 6.0 release.  So this would work as a training exercise as well as a tour of the last few instances.

The first instance on our list was the Shado-Pan Monastery.

We had actually attempted this back in June with a four person group.  After we looked into the Mogu’shan Palace, Earl couldn’t make it, so the rest of us gave the instance a try.  The four of us managed to get to the third boss, the Sha of Hate, before we hit a wall.  I just never got around to finishing the post about that evening… or the Mogu’shan Palace run.  They are in my drafts folder still.

Anyway, we were set to pick up where we had left off.  With Earl tanking, we blew through the first two bosses without problem and caught up to the Sha of Hate.

Down with the Shah... I mean Sha!

Down with the Shah… I mean Sha!

The Sha of Hate didn’t offer much resistance either.  With gear boosted DPS via the Timeless Isle gear, the Sha of Hate was down.  He barely had time to do any of his specials.  From there we fought our way to the final boss, Taran Zhu.

More after the cut, because I run on as usual.

(more…)

Wait, What? The Giants Win the World Series Again? October 30, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment.
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Back in 2010, as the San Francisco Giants finished their first game in their first appearance in a World Series this decade, I wrote about what a long road it had been as a fan of the team for at least four decades.  There had been lots of good times, I saw many great players, but the team could never quite go all the way.  I was just happy that they made it to the big show a second time during my life.

Then they went and won the World Series in 2010.  Pretty much dreams fulfilled.

san_francisco_giants

And then they won it again in 2012.  Icing on the cake.

And now they have done it again in 2014.  I am not sure what to say at this point.  How much happier could I possibly be?

Giants_2014

It was a great series.  Kansas City played well and it was tense down to the last out in the final inning of the seventh game.  But when Panda got under that foul ball, it was all over.

What else can I say?  See you again in 2016?

 

Rome – Ambushed October 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games, Strategy Group.
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I was late to the Roman slaughter on Friday night as the Reaver extraction operation from Insmother took longer than expected… which is pretty much how every op in EVE Online works.  What will happen if we deploy somewhere even further away?

Anyway, I showed up to find matches in progress, with Mattman and Loghound facing Potshot and an AI in a variation on the city assault scenario.

SGRome

They finished out that match and then changed things up so I could join in for the next round.  I landed on Potshot’s team and we were set to be the attackers.  I used the forces I had saved from last week’s city assault, which included an expensive oneger attachment.

Deployed for action

Deployed for action

However, they did not seem to be much help this time around, as we were facing an unfortified city.  My siege detachment launched round shot and diseased corpses onto Loghound’s forces, who were positioned against me, to seeming little effect.  Burning shot was grayed out on the menu and I was soon out of anything else, so I sent in the troops.  Since I had spent so much on siege, I did not hold any quantitative advantage.  Meanwhile, the route I had chosen into the city was constrained, so Loghound and I ended up in a face to face shoving match that slowly ground down both of our forces.

Engaged with Loghound

Engaged with Loghound

It was enough, however, to keep Loghound fully occupied, as Potshot managed to get through Mattman’s defenses and roll him up.  At that point Loghound had to pull troops away from grappling with me to try and shore up his rear area, leading to their whole defense cascading to defeat.

Then we swapped sides and Potshot and I were on the defense.  I chose to go with fewer, higher quality troops backed up by a few archers this time around.  I ended up facing Mattman, who had gone heavy on archers, and so was able to stand out of range and wear down my lead units.  I really needed some cavalry then, to send the archers on their was as they were somewhat distant from their infantry support.  So I tried using some of my own infantry in the cavalry role.  But infantry cannot run fast enough.  I ran a unit towards the flanks of the archers, only to have Mattman move two units to defend.  That clash went badly for me and my guys had to turn and run.

In the end I was whittled down to one unit I had held in reserve and my general.  I pulled them back to the capture point to link up with Potshot for a final defense.  However, Potshot seemed to be falling apart as well, and by the time I got there his last unit had melted away.  My guys stood alone.

Gold trimmed banners are mine

Gold trimmed banners are mine

I was hoping that my reserve troop, still fresh and at full strength, would be able to hold on against multiple worn down attackers, and things started off okay.  But when my general went down things started to look very grim.  I managed to pull that last unit of legionnaires away from the melee and set them with their backs to a wall with one flank covered by a building.  They were still nearly full strength, still fresh, and were positioned for their last stand.

And then they lost their nerve and ran away.

So the attackers seemed to be able to carry the day when it came to unfortified cities, the reverse of last weeks results.

We were getting deep into the evening, but there was a call for Loghound and I to do an ambush battle.  This is a two player only scenario which Potshot and Mattman had tried earlier.  We had to reconfigure the game settings, opening up observer positions for Mattman and Potshot so they could watch.  I went with the Iceni, the Britannic horde, as I figured masses of troops would be advantageous.

I was first up as the ambusher, and the setup seemed simple enough.  There was a clear route down which Loghound would be marching, so I just massed troops on either side of the path.  When the scenario started, I rushed in from both sides and pretty much swamped him.

Iceni attack!

Iceni attack!

Things were going well.  As you can see in the picture, all of Loghound’s units, save his general, have banners flashing to white, which means they are about to break and run.  I was about to clinch a major victory… when Loghound’s client crashed.  I saved the replay, which flagged it as a decisive victory, but at the time it was just a game that ended incomplete.

Once we all got back together in the staging room, Loghound and I swapped roles.  I kept my same set of troops, as their mass seemed like a good thing to have.  Loghound changed out his roster and then we started.

Which was a bit disorienting.

When you are the ambushee, your screen just goes black until the game starts.  There is no setup, you just sit and do nothing.  Then, when the game actually kicks off, you can just see your troops marching in formation.  You have no control over them until the enemy appears.

Marching through the woods

Marching through the woods

Then Loghound appeared, up a hill from me, and let lose the war dogs.

Incoming dogs!

Incoming dogs!

The most charitable thing I can say about the Roman war dogs is that they are a unit we clearly do not know how to use correctly.  They have come up in a couple of our battles and have almost always been slaughtered when sent on the attack.  So it was a bit disappointing that Loghound went with what is essentially the “joke” unit in the mix for his turn as the ambusher, as they once again went down hard.

I turned my units to charge straight into the enemy, who was on both sides of the road, but was mostly concentrated up the hill.  I ended up chasing Romans all over the map on the one flank, while driving them back to retreat up the hill on the other.

Ambushers running away

Ambushers running away

It was a costly defense.  I ended up earning a “close victory,” on points, as I lost a lot of blue painted spearmen.  But the Romans were sent on their way and I was left in possession of the field, the Roman general thrown down.

And that was it for the night.  The ambush scenario was fun.  It is just a pity that it, like the full campaign, is only a two player option.

Going forward, we still have other armies to explore and we have yet to try any of the scenarios requiring the use of boats.  Still some things to do.

Results of the Summer Loremaster Project October 28, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Back in June, with the summer hiatus of the instance group looming, I embarked on a project.  I was going to finish up quests in Azeroth in pursuit of the Loremaster achievement.  And I was going to attempt to do it with characters that were at the appropriate level for the zones being run.

The first big effort for the achievement was the 1-60 game in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms.  That meant getting the quests achievement from all the zones in the old world, which includes some content from The Burning Crusade as well as the whole Cataclysm revamp.

Azeroth - The Burning Crusade timeframe

Azeroth – The Burning Crusade time frame

I had a few zones done already, thanks to the alts we rolled up when Cataclysm hit, but a lot of the zones were still there waiting for me.  So I rolled up a couple of new characters, as well as reviving a couple more old ones who had been languishing, and set out.  The results were covered in a series of posts charting my progress across Azeroth.

The old world took from mid-June until early August to complete.  It also left me with three characters (out of the five I used for various parts of the achievement) set up to head into the meat of the content from The Burning Crusade, Outland.

Here I had a couple of zones finished off.  I only ran bits of Hellfire Peninsula with my rogue Trianis in order to gear up a bit because I already had the achievement.  I was also able to skip Zangarmarsh, having wrapped that zone up ages ago.  That left me with five zones and 434 quests to finish off Outland.

  • Terokkar Forest  62-65 – 63 quests
  • Nagrand  64-67 – 75 quests
  • Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
  • Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
  • Shadowmoon Valley  67-70 – 90 quests

First up was Terokkar Forest, which went smoothly enough up until about 50 quests, when they dried up rapidly.  I sat for a while just two quests shy of the achievement before finally finding a couple of Shattrath related quest chains to finish off the zone.  But then came Nagrand.  To finish that up meant doing a set of group quests, then getting to level 70 and following a quest chain in from Shadowmoon Valley to wrap up the achievement.

So I left Nagrand empty handed and headed to the next zone on the list, the Blade’s Edge Mountains.  There I found myself wondering how we did some of these zones back in the day.  Doing the quests, at level, with a flying mount turned into a considerable chore, so the idea of doing them all with a ground mount seemed insane.  Eventually the zone ground me down and I left it unfinished.

Ogres must die

But I got to kill a lot of ogres

That was about the end of things.  It was September by that point and I found other distractions.  I binged on Pokemon for a while, finishing up  Pokemon Y, Pokemon White, and Pokemon White Version 2, which got me set for the upcoming release of Pokemon Alpha Ruby & Omega Sapphire.

In Azeroth I finally got my nether ray mounts and worked on pet battles a bit.  Then WoW 6.0 dropped and it was time to start thinking about that and the expansion, with Brewfest and Hallow’s End in there along the way.

And I did not totally give up on the Loremaster achievement.  Having played my rogue through to level 68 or so in a short period of time, I started to like the class.  I sent him out to Shadowmoon Valley for a while, but then decided to see if I could run him up into Pandaria before Warlords of Draenor hit.  He is now level 76, running quests in the Grizzly Hills, and using Dungeon Finder to speed things up.

So I did not make it to Loremaster, and there is little chance I will do so before the expansion drops.  I just don’t have the inclination at the moment and there are other things to do now.  But I made some headway, and after we have returned to Draenor and fought the Iron Horde, I may once again pick up the task.  This is what I have remaining on the list of zones I started with, plus whatever Warlords of Draenor brings us.

Outland Achievements

  • Nagrand  64-67 – 75 quests
  • Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
  • Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
  • Shadowmoon Valley  67-70 – 90 quests

Northrend Achievements

  • Grizzly Hills    73-75 – 85 quests
  • Zul’Drak    73-77 – 100 quests
  • Sholazar Basin*    75-80 – 75 quests
  • Icecrown    77-80 – 140 quests
  • The Storm Peaks    77-80 – 100 quests

Cataclysm Achievements

  • Mount Hyjal    80-82 – 115 quests
  • Vashj’ir    80-82 – 130 quests
  • Deepholm    82-83 – 110 quests
  • Uldum    83-84 – 105 quests
  • Twilight Highlands    84-85 – 120 quests

 

Home from Camping in Insmother October 27, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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Somebody once opined that moon mining was a “risk-free” source of income.  The tower just sits there and harvests the moon goo and all you have to do is drive by in your hauler once in a while to pick it up.  Practically free money.

I was reminded of that post as we roamed around Insmother, first reinforcing and later destroying tower after tower in the region as the locals looked on in dismay.  Most of those towers… and I heard the count went past 30… were moon mining operations.

Another tower goes boom

Another tower goes boom

It appears that “risk-free” includes the unstated assumption that you can defend your moon mining operations from attack, which is a bit of a stretch.  Even the CFC, which nobody would accuse of being short of pilots, is fighting a series of skirmishes over towers in the north as Black Legion and Nulli Secunda use the last bit of pre-Phoebe time to travel far and wide and reinforce CFC moon mining operations.  And a reinforced moon mining operation is a non-producing moon mining operation.

Such is life.

Anyway, we are back in Deklein having extracted out of Insmother over the weekend.  Getting there and back are the tricky bits, as Insmother isn’t exactly in our regular neighborhood.

Deklein to Insmother

Deklein to Insmother

You might look at that map and think, “Well, that doesn’t look too far” if you ignore the scale of all of empire space, high and low sec, which is that black blob in the middle.  In the middle of hostile territory, with no NPC stations to hole up in like our local pests.  We had to pack with us all we needed to live rough, in space at all times.  It was like camping… in the pack a tent and sleep under the stars way, not the sitting on a gate waiting for travelers was we use the word in New Eden.  A tower was set up for use to use, our tent, but otherwise we were out in the wilds.

As a learning exercise, it was quite useful both on an organizational level as well as a personal one.

More after the cut.

(more…)

Sunday Afternoon in YA0-XJ October 26, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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Apparently an AFK CFC titan was ejected from a POS and ended up 200+ km out of the shields.  There is speculation that this was because somebody changed the password, but details are uncertain at this point.

Black Legion dropped on the titan and then we dropped on Black Legion.  They won the ISK war by a fair margin (146 billion to 83 billion), but it certainly woke us all up.  My main was off in a high sec jump clone to buy a skill, but I managed to get my alt on, into a Harpy, into Jay’s fleet, and on grid in time to get on one of the carrier kill mails.  That is his biggest kill mail ever, and his 7th total. I don’t fly him in combat much.  The carrier was covered by so many warp disruption bubbles that they became an opaque, shining white ball.

Battle reports at TMC and EN24.

The Instance Group Resurgent in Azeroth… Sort Of… And Hallow’s End October 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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We decided to get our collective act together and get into the game so as to get used to the new realities of WoW 6.0.

And we tried.

However, due to authenticator problems, bronchitis, and a previous engagement, only Potshot and I ended up in game last Saturday night.

Such is life.

We decided that, just two levels shy of the cap, we probably no longer needed to stick with the group on levels.  We both chose to run through some of the quests in the Kun-Lai Summit area, which has the advantage of having a series of fun/interesting quests and a 24-slot bag as a quest reward.  Even with the new bank tab for crafting materials, I will still lunge for and bag space upgrade.  I have been trained to do so over the years.

Kun-lai Summit

Kun-Lai Summit Map

We didn’t bother grouping up as we were on different quests in the zone, or even getting on coms, but we chatted on the guild channel as we moved through the zone.  I got my bag and we both hit level 89.

However, I could not stop there.  The next day I got on, I wrapped up the zone and moved into the Townlong Steppe until Alioto hit level 90.

Level 90

Level 90

I did that for a number of reasons.  90 unlocks a few things, including the ability to train flight form, which is one of the main reasons you should level up a druid.

I love when I can fly by the form hasn't drawn yet...

I love when I can fly but the form hasn’t drawn yet…

I was a bit confused to find that they had consolidated the three travel forms into a single button that just transforms you into the form the game thinks is most appropriate.  I can no longer be the Nelk (nigh elf elk) on command.  On the other hand, when my flying form dives into water, it changes to the water form, and back when I jump out, so there is some upside.  I’ll get used to it.

Of course, there was another reason I wanted another level 90… Alioto is my 4th character to hit the level cap.  I wanted another bite at the apple every day when it came to the Headless Horseman.  You can queue up once per day per character for a shot at the horseman, with just about everybody looking to get the mount drop.

So that is what I do, four times every evening.  I log in each of my level 90s an hope to get that drop.

There he is again...

There he is again…

On the one hand, the fight is pretty easy and the queue time is pretty short.  On the other, I wonder just how many times I will have ended up killing this guy over the years looking for that mount.

Unlike Brewfest, it turned out that I had one more Hallow’s End achievement.  Somehow I had neglected to hit all the candy buckets in Pandaria last year, so I rounded that up.

Anyway, most of the group has resolved their issues… or gotten healthier… and it looks like we might make our full return this weekend.  We shall see.

Notes from an Undisclosed Location in the Insmother Region October 23, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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The big, pre-Phoebe alliance update was posted yesterday addressing the new order in sovereign null sec.  Since the CFC is as riddled with spies as any other organization in New Eden, updates from The Mittani get posted directly over at The Mittani dot com, saving people the trouble of stealing/distributing them and generating some ad revenue as some people rage against The Mittani in the comments.  You can view it at your leisure.

Some of what was mentioned had been gone over before in less formal venues not long after the Phoebe changes were announced.  In fact, such fireside chats in Mumble with The Mittani started as a campaign to calm down some of the super capital pilots who were losing their heads in the forums about the death of their gold-plated space coffins.  When you opt to fly a super cap, that is pretty much all your character does from then on.  Of course, a bunch of us line grunts piled into the room as well because Mittens is a good public speaker if nothing else and these became 400+ pilot events.

For the super cap pilots, the message was that supers were becoming more powerful and more likely to be used in combat because, with Phoebe in place, a fleet of local supers no long has to fear a group of hostile supers dropping on them from the other side of New Eden.  Super cap fleets cease being a huge stick to be brought down literally anywhere in null sec on a very short notice, something only the three large powers could manage.  Instead they become the local super powers that can drop on anybody within 5 ly immediately, and within 10ly pretty quickly, becoming less of a blue water navy by analogy and more of a coastal defense force.  Without the threat of incoming forces from all over New Eden you can drop on your are much more likely to drop on your own zone of control.  Even Gevlon seems to agree with the idea that supers will not fall by the wayside, and the goblin would find a technical reason to oppose Mittens if the CEO update declared the sky to be blue.

The rest was more about how the Phoebe changes favored us more… or at least hurt us less… than our rival superpowers (My joke about the genie at the end of my own first cut at Phoebe seemed to match that), how much this will favor the defender who actually lives in their space, and some plans under way to help us adapt to the new world.  Stepping up MiniLuv operations to harass jump freighter operations so as to make pre-Phoebe prep more difficult for our null sec opponents was mentioned early, as was a new group called the Reavers.  More on the latter further down the page.

That was all a couple of weeks back.  Since then more obvious preparations for the coming expansion have surfaced all over null sec.  Pandemic Legion has divested itself of nearly half of its rental empire.  The Mittani says that Northern Coalition is abandoning space in the east to the Russians and looks to be headed towards the southwest where it was announced that the CFC is pulling out, drawing back into the northwest of null sec, abandoning Querious, Period Basis, and Delve as being too far from our core and too sparsely populated to defend itself with local residents.  Phoebe working as intended for many. (EN24 has a null sec movement rumor mill post up that is worth a look.)

Farewell southwest null!

Farewell southwest null!

A joke going around is that the Goons, having invaded and taken Delve six times already, gave up the region out of habit just so they could invade it again later.  Hell, even I have been through two Delve invasions at this point.  But I am still shipping all my stuff in our forward deployment base in Querious back to Deklein before the expansion.

It isn’t quite setting the clock back two years, but with the CFC pulling back into the northwest and Russians possibly resurgent in the east,  it seems like all we have to do it get Intrepid Crossing back into Cobalt Edge and we would practically have the band back together.

2012 vs. 2014

2012 vs. 2014

The 2012 map looks like it has a lot more entities on it, but if you count the various Russian alliances as one coalition, they overlap a lot with N3’s rental empire.  And that brings us to the renters.  In an age of static null sec, one upside has been an ample supply of stable and relatively safe null sec systems to rent, which has lead to a lot of corporations being able to move out to null and mine, rat, or whatever.  PL’s rental empire, Brothers of Tangra, had more than 10K pilots in it until they started to divest, while N3’s rental space, Northern Associates, currently has nearly 14K pilots spread over about 360 corporations in nearly 700 systems across 15 regions.

That is a lot of players… a lot of entities that just don’t show up on the map… for whom the much ballyhooed “blue donut” era has been a benefit.  Where will they go when Phoebe, Rhea, and expansions beyond make holding vast tracts of sovereign null sec untenable?  Phoebe and beyond, working as intended, means a lot of different things.  The CFC will hunker down and weather the storm, PL will consolidate, NC has its own core defense perimeter in sight, but there will be areas in null which will become the wild west.  That will likely be a good thing in the larger scope of the game, but may suck mightily if you’re a PvE sharecropper in a null sec empire that has abandoned you because they can no longer move fast enough to defend far flung space.

So we will see new entities on the map… or old entities returning… while a mass of invisible entities may well be at the mercy of whoever shows up.  Will the find new landlords to protect them or barbarians who will drive them back to empire space.

Interesting times.

Back to Reavers.  This is a new formation in the CFC, and I joined up because they look to be the place where things might be happening going forward.  It is actually the first CFC group I have joined.

As noted in The Mittani’s post, we are tasked during war time to deploy into the enemies rear areas to be partisans.  We will destroy infrastructure, siphon moons, and basically terrorize the PvE locals who stayed behind.  This will be made a viable strategy by Phoebe, which will keep anybody attacking our territory unable to move quickly back to defend their own.  We will slip in, shoot up the place, and move on.

As part of the plan we have been on a practice deployment down in Insmother, where we have had a few days of token resistance as we reinforced and blew up towers. (Let’s hear it for low stront and no stront towers!)  Even in this pre-Phoebe stage, where fast travel is still a thing, N3 seems to be more focused on trying to hit our structures in the north than defending their holdings in the east.  I hear they may have woken up to what we are up to at last, so we may have to move on.  But as a learning exercise it has been good, and a lot of fun.  It is also nice to be in on the creation of a group, where the traditions and procedures (and inside jokes) are being formulated.  You end up feeling more a part of things.  I even spoke on voice coms… once.

And it is even a new section of space for me.  The Goons have a history out here, but I have never been deeper in the east than B-R5RB… though that was a memorable visit.  So new sites for the tourist in me.

We will see how the deployment fares.  In the mean time I have a few postcard screen shots from the deployment which (I hope) do not violate operational security.