Starting Stellaris

A bunch of people are talking about Civilization VI, which launched this past Friday.  The reviews seem to be very good and the usual gamut of launch day issues do not seem to have hit this release.  It is almost like Sid Meier’s team learned something along the way with all these Civ and Civ-like releases.  Maybe leaving the Mac OS version for later helped.

Anyway, with so much talk about Civilization VI I took it as a sign that I should… go buy Stellaris.

See, it says Stellaris right there

See, it says Stellaris right there

It was on sale… half the price of Civilization VI… and had been on my Steam wishlist since before it launched.  Still, I was a bit hesitant to buy it.  The problem is that it comes from Paradox Development.

Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with Paradox Development or that they are bad people like the senior management of EA or anything.  They are, in fact, my favorite development studio when it comes to creating games that make me feel like a drooling simpleton.  I must own almost half their catalog of games, purchased over the years, and yet my combined total play time for all of those titles is still probably less than my play time with Civilization V.  Fortunately I think I have purchased most of them as part of Steam sales at this point, but still.

Paradox games are deep… as in fall in, founder, and quickly drown levels of deep.  There are always lots of moving parts that influence each other that you have to keep track of so that the initial experience for all of there games seems to be getting totally lost in a morass of details thrown at you in rapid succession that quickly leads to overload, exiting the game, and rarely, if ever, returning to it.

And while I hate to point fingers at the tutorials, because tutorials for complex systems difficult to do at the best of times, they do often come off in the same way that a lot of technical documentation can.  Which is to say, it was created by somebody who already knew how to do what they were trying to tell you to do, so the effort tends to have gaps because some level of knowledge is assumed.  Things like navigating the UI, or even where a UI element is or how one is supposed to interact with it can go missing.  And even when that is there in sufficient detail, tutorials can often devolve into lessons in “what” and not “how.”

As an example, I work on a development environment for creating speech applications.  The documentation for the IDE is hundreds of pages long and goes into detail on every aspect of the product.  If you memorized it completely, you would know the function of every menu item, check box, tag, and attribute, but you still wouldn’t know how to build a speech app.  Nobody wants to put more documentation on the schedule, so when a dev wants to know how to do something we write it up… or build a sample app… and save that away in case the question comes up again.

I have had problems with both of those things with Paradox games, learning all the details (information overload) and fitting all that information into a bigger picture (why do I want to do that and what does it really affect?)

And I ran right into that again with Stellaris.  The game runs on the Clauswitz Engine, which underpinned Europa Universalis III and all their games since, so Stellaris has a similar vibe to it.  And, like other titles on the engine, it is not turned based but runs… I hate to say “real time,” but things move forward continuously unless the game is paused.

The Stellaris tutorial reminds me very much of our documentation, in that it is very active in telling you what things are, but doesn’t do very much to build the bigger picture, and in a game of galactic empires, the big picture and how things fit into it is literally everything.  Meanwhile, stuff it happening… unless you pause, at which point nothing is happening.

After a couple of unsatisfying runs I decided to turn off the trivia tutorial, which at times was less helpful than Clippy, who at least wanted to help me accomplish tasks, and just try to learn bits and pieces of the game.  The tutorial voice said I would be sorry as I hit “NO TUTORIAL,” but it was wrong.

Off you go!

Off you go!

Here I put out my plea for the makers of complex strategy games to include a push-over AI mode/setting.

Last Friday’s post about Civilization VI included a list of my favorite games from the series, with Civilization II at it usual top place on the list.  One of the reasons it is there, that I played so many hours of it, that I could play it at its hardest setting, was because I was able to learn the mechanics of the game at the easiest setting in a real game where the AI wouldn’t trouble me so much.  Investing time experimenting with cities at chieftain level let me win at deity level.

Getting there one step at a time

Getting there one step at a time

Stellaris, like many strategy games, eschews the idea of easy.  Their difficulty settings are “Normal,” “Difficult,” and “Insane.”  If you wanted easy you wouldn’t buy games from Paradox I guess.  Still, I managed to tinker with some of the other settings to take a bit of pressure off so I could play to learn.

Somewhere on Saturday afternoon things started to click a little more.  I played a couple of games where I focused mostly on learning space related things along with resources and at least trying to speed up tech research.  Of course, that focus ignore planetary economies, which eventually hamstrung me on each game, but I got one aspect settled.  Sunday I played with tech, and over the week I started tinkering with planetary populations.  With each step I folded in a little more knowledge.

And so I reached the point where I actually felt like I was playing the game rather than struggling with it. (Something that might have gone a bit more quickly if I had found their wiki with its Beginner’s Guide earlier.)  And, now there, I am beginning to appreciate how good the game is.  I expect I will spend quite a bit more time playing it.

Of course, one of the things I like about it is the ability to create your own factions.  While I am not a huge fan of mods, I do like the ability to personalize things.  So, of course, I created a familiar faction.

Vying with a neighbor on the galactic map

Vying with a neighbor on the galactic map

In something that hearkens back to the old days of Civ II, the naming schemes for civilizations are all in text files.  In Civ II I got tired of my sprawling empires running out of names, so I found the text file where they were stored and added more.  Then I started making up my own empires.  It looks like I will be able to do the same with Stellaris.  Or maybe I will grab some of the fine mods available in the Steam Workshop.

Can I mix the Lovecraft with the cats mod?

Can I mix the Lovecraft with the cats mod?

All of which doesn’t mean I am not going to buy Civilization VI.  I just have Stellaris to keep me occupied until the time is ripe.  And since I have gotten past the initial steep learning curve and am enjoying the game quite a bit now, that purchase might be pushed off further than I thought.  Space is fun.

The start of another space empire

The start of another space empire

TL;DR version: Deep. Not as hard to get into as some Paradox games, but still takes effort.  Space made it more approachable for me.  Looks cool, plays great.  Instead of “just one more turn” it is “just let me get that next tech” or “my fleet upgrade is almost done” or “my science ship needs to explore another anomaly” and suddenly you’re up way past your bed time.

[Also, while the Steam sale ended, it is still on sale for the moment at the Paradox store, and since you have to activate it on Steam, you end up in the same place.]

Pokemon Go Giving Out Extra Candy for Halloween

Nintendo and Niantic announced earlier this week that Pokemon Go would have something special for Halloween.  No doubt the record breaking run to $600 million in revenue made them feel generous… that and the tapering off of the game’s user base.  But I still play.

Not that many scary Pokemon in the first 150

Not that many scary Pokemon in the first 150

From October 26 until November 1 Pokemon Go will reward you with double the candy for Halloween.  When you catch a Pokemon you will get 6 candy instead of 3 and when you transfer a Pokemon you will get 2 candy instead of just the one.  You will also earn candy with your buddy Pokemon at four times the usual rate.

Meanwhile, the following Pokemon will be more common during the duration of the event.

  • Zubat
  • Golbat
  • Gastly
  • Haunter
  • Gengar
  • Drowzee
  • Hypno

If that is the level of “scary” in the first 150 Pokemon, I suppose I could make the case that Abra and his evolutions ought to be on the list as well.  Either way, the event is going.  There was a Drowzee on our driveway earlier and I got six candy for catching him.

In addition, if you are a Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby player in the US, there is still time to head over to GameStop to pick up a code that lets you download a level 70 Volcanion.

Behold his volcano-ish bearing

Behold his volcano-ish bearing

And if you are looking for something else Pokemon related to add to your Halloween, you can head over to their site for pumpkin stencils.

WoW Legion Gets Its First Content Drop with Patch 7.1

What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion.

-J. Allen Brack, WoW Community Manager forum post

We’ll get back the the top part of the post that quote came from on another day.

The promise from Blizzard, explicit, implied, or otherwise, was that the WoW Legion expansion would not leave players hanging for a year without any new content.  You might have thought they would have learned this after Mists of Pandaria, but I guess the subscriber count didn’t drop low enough during that drought, so they let it happen again with Warlords of Draenor.

The problem was compounded by some of the choices made with Warlords of Draenor .  I know, everybody likes to beat up on garrisons, but the subscriber numbers indicate that they were not a big hit.  We’ll never get any sort of “real” player housing in WoW after garrisons.

But that was the last expansion and we are now eight weeks into WoW Legion and the first post-launch content drop, WoW 7.1 – Return to Karazhan. The date has arrived, the patch notes are final, and the content is upon us.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

The headline item for the release is a five person mythic run set in the Burning Crusade era raid Karazhan.  While being a mythic level dungeon means I probably won’t see it until we get a couple more expansions down the road, I still think this is a good use of their time.

Then there is a new Trial of Valor raid opening up in normal and heroic modes, with mythic and LFR tourist modes opening up some time down the road.  Again, content for a core demographic in WoW.

For the rest of us, there is the continuation of the campaign in Suramar and more world quests.  Eventually I will actually START on Suramar and world quests, but I cannot hold my lagging behind against Blizz.  Both of those do sound like “things to do” for players out in the open world.

So, more content with the first patch out.  But I think Blizz has always managed to do that in the past.  They will manage a 7.1 and a 7.2 based on past experience.  But will we see a 7.3, 7.4, and even a 7.5 patch and beyond with content as the expansions ages?

Meanwhile, the patch notes are full of other little items, including changes to classes, changes to professions, to some of the skills new players get for levels 1-10, to a quick join feature that will let you see what people on your friends list have queued up for and allow you to join up with them in the queue.

My own personal favorite line item from the patch notes is:

  • Nameplate options made less confusing.

I like that because nameplates were the first thing I noticed when I logged in on day one of the expansion.  I generally have them set off as much as possible, but the redid the configuration and, as part of that changed, turned everything on by default.  So I was standing in Stormwind in a sea of green nameplates.  I eventually got it back to my usual minimalist setting, and I suspect that I will have to do that again with this change… but it should be less confusing now, right?

And finally, I guess this is the Chris Metzen emote for the game.  Gone (from Blizzard) but not forgotten:

  • Added new “For the Horde” and “For the Alliance” emotes.

I am a bit surprised this wasn’t a thing much sooner.

Barghests Down in Querious Astrahus Fight

As Delve has been quiet, Reavers have been deploying to Querious off and on.  Since Delve and Querious are so close together… a chunk of Querious is actually something of a functional enclave within Delve, which is sometimes called either Fake Delve or Fake Querious depending on who is speaking and whether or not they remember what they called it last time it came up… there was some discussion as to what to do about the region.

Querious - October 23, 2016

Querious – October 23, 2016

The previous inhabitants for the most part moved on to other areas of null sec rather than live under the shadow of the Imperium.  Our first deployment to the region after Delve was to take the valuable moons.  However, the holders were mostly willing to sell them to us… along with a couple of citadels… to finance their move elsewhere.

After that, the region was somewhat sparsely held.  I ran around in a Raven and was unmolested as I ran sites during the Purity of the Throne event.  Of course, a sparsely held region invites people to show up uninvited.  To keep the worst kind of baddies from moving in, the coalition gave Asher the green light to try and turn the region into a fight club.  Details of the idea were posted on Reddit a while back.

There have been a few takers and Reavers have been back in Querious off and on to help people move in and evict people who have declined to join.  We popped a Voxis Accord Astrahus earlier in the month after they said no to the idea.  Last week we started on Brute Force Solutions and their Astrahus in 0-WT2D. (BFD on the map above.)  They had been giving Asher the run around, claiming they needed 6-8 weeks to process his request, along with doing a level of trash talking in local above their weight class.  They seemed keen to provoke a fight, so their citadel had to go.

Killing an citadel requires three passes.  You have to get through the shield layer, after which it goes into reinforced mode for 24 hours.  Then you go through the armor layer.  After armor, the reinforcement timer is related to local sovereignty.  Since they owned the system and ihub and had flagged it as their capital, the ADM was up to 6, which meant a six day wait for the final structure event.

I was there for the shield event, a Barghest fleet where I flew logi, but missed the armor event where BFD dropped carries on our fleet, so we countered with some caps and our bridging titan, which left BFD down 10 carriers.  The final event was slated for Saturday night in later USTZ.

After the second event Asher asked people to get more Barghests down in our staging for the final fight.  The previous fights had been more logi and support than actual combat ships of the line.  Being ISK rich (for me) I invested 900 million ISK in one of the space griddles and flew it out from Jita during the week to have it ready for Saturday night.

An Unblooded Barghest

An Unblooded Barghest

As the time approached on Saturday, the ping went our for Reavers to form up and get ready.  There were about 60 of us online, in fleet, and on the titan ready to bridge into the event.

Anal Thunder's Leviathan breaching the POS bubble

Anal Thunder’s Leviathan breaching the POS bubble

Reavers is not all of the Imperium, so for us getting 50-60 people deep in USTZ is about par for the course.  That would still give us an edge on BFD, as they and their local allies seem to be good for about 50 pilots while we would have our own local pals, Sarcos Federation and Imperium Divine along to help.

My Barghest on the Fortizar

My Barghest on the Fortizar

The wild card would be what help BFD would be able to call in.  Asher said up front, as we sat on the titan, that intel indicated that Pandemic Legion had been called and might be joining in on the fun, so we could be in for a serious fight.  We bridged in a little before the Astrahus entered its vulnerability.

We setup as the timer counted down.  Once vulnerable, there is a 15 minute timer.  If that runs down, the attack fails and the Astrahus goes back into its initial state and we have to start the whole routine again.  The timer is paused by applying sufficient damage to the citadel, which also wears down the structure.  If you keep the timer paused and finish off the structure, the Astrahus explodes.  There is also a cap on the damage so you cannot burn it down in less than ~25 minutes. (The dev blog about all of this here.)

We setup around the Astrahus, dropped our sentry drones, anchored up on Asher, and when the time came opened up on the citadel.

The target with undock bubbled

The target with undock bubbled

BFD and their local friends had some assets on the field and we exchanged blows with them.  They brought out some dreadnoughts and carriers as well.  At that point things were going our way, the frying pan fleet was getting a few kills while our logi was keeping us safe.  Then a cyno went up, which we zapped pretty quickly.  A couple of Pandemic Legion caps got in on a cyno.

Capitals bubbled up

Capitals bubbled up

And then a Tech III fleet made up mostly of Legions and Proteuses got into the system and the fight started to go badly for us.  We outnumbered what BFD had fielded, but the Pandemic Legion fleet had numbers on us and, when combined with BFD, put us at a serious disadvantage with the odds about 2 to 1 against.  We were hard pressed to break any of the T3s, managing to knock just one off the field (on which I got the kill mail).  On the other hand, they trimmed our logi back and then started knocking off the Barghests one by one.  I lost my fresh Barghest when we were just trying to get out of bubbles and get away.  I still had all the refits in the cargo too, so pretty much a complete loss of my purchase.  Only two Barghests got away.

It seemed like we were done.  Asher put out on intel that there were some caps to shoot, which got a few Imperium CapSwarm capitals and supers to drop on the fight.

Supers on the gate looking for targets of opportunity

Supers on the gate looking for targets of opportunity

However, there was still a few minutes left on the Astrahus timer and most of the Reavers had their clone set in our Fortizar just six jumps away, so the decision was made to give it another run in the Cerberus doctrine.  I have my clone set in Delve, but I had a doctrine Scimitar set and ready to fly there, so I burned back towards Querious.  With a jump bridge the fight was 14 gates away.

As I burned I could hear the fleet arriving back at the Astrahus where they managed to apply damage and stop the timer with very little time left on the clock.  It sounded like they got chased off but got back to apply damage again, stopping the timer with just seconds to go.

Dramatic interpretation of the timer

Dramatic interpretation of the timer

At about that point I had finally gotten back to the system.  However, in getting to the fleet I managed to warp in pretty much on top of the Pandemic Legion fleet, which meant my Scimitar got popped pretty much immediately.

I managed to get away in my pod and flew back to our staging to pick up a Vigil I had sitting there in hopes of getting back before the fight ended.  However, before I got back our Cerbs had been mostly eliminated allowing the timer to start back up again and finish before any further damage could be applied.  BFD’s citadel had been saved.

The battle report, which is broken up into Imperium and allies, Pandemic Legion’s fleet, and BFD and its local allies is… deceptive.  The raw numbers look even, 129 vs 136.  However, everybody who shows up in a Cerb, along with a few Scimitars, are counted twice because we went back and reshipped.  Then there are the Imperium caps, which killed a couple carriers but didn’t move on the citadel.  And then there was an Imperium Confessor fleet which showed up just long enough to kill a Magus before heading off.

If we had managed to coordinate all of that, we might have gotten the Astrahus.  But we did not, so it is back to the reinforce cycle to try and kill it again next weekend.  Life in space, such that it is.

Meanwhile, SRP on my Barghest was 400 million ISK. (And I think I got a Reavers bonus payout at that.)  So while the Scimitar was covered, the Barg was an expensive one fight ship.

Addendum: Asher also has a new podcast up where he talks to Elise Randolph about the war in Tribute and the Alliance tournament.

Civilization VI Launches

Today is the official launch day for Civilization VI, though I understand if you pre-ordered on Steam you got access last night, the next chapter in Sid Meier’s now quarter century long attempt to make the perfect 4X strategy game.

Come and get your 4X

Come and get your 4X

The whole thing began with the launch of Civilization back in September 1991.

I do not remember exactly when I bought my copy of the first Civilization… early 1992 I think… but since then I have purchased most of the series on the earliest possible date I could get my hands on a copy.

However, I do not have a copy of Civ VI in my hot little hands today.  I don’t know if it is aging or ennui, but I am not impatient to pick up a copy just yet.  Certainly, some of it is experience.  Civilization games tend to be a hot mess on day one.  Early versions usually needed the next generation of processors to show up in order to make them playable, while later releases you were probably not going to be able to play reliably until the first patch landed.  Back in October 2010, I was complaining about how Civilization V was crashing on my machine day one.

So I am not buying a copy today.

I will buy a copy at some point though.  I will just let things settle down a bit first, watch reactions to the game, maybe wait for that first patch.  And we all know it will be marked down a bit for the Steam Holiday Sale anyway.  I will probably get it then.  I certainly have to get it before the first expansion.  If it is anything live Civilization V, each expansion will change the game so much it will be like a new game.

Meanwhile, here is the usual stack rank of Civ titles ordered by how much time I spent with them, which is generally a sign of which ones I liked best.

  1. Civilization II
  2. Civilization V
  3. Civilization
  4. Alpha Centauri
  5. Civilization III
  6. Civilization IV
  7. Beyond Earth

I’d play some more Civ II except I lost the damn CD again.

I see there is already a look at Civ VI over at Nomadic Gamers.

The Nintendo Switch Announced

Nintendo finally gave us a real peek at their new console, formerly referred to as “NX.”  Its official name is Switch and looks like this:

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo has previously said that this unit is no meant to be a direct replacement for the 3DS and Wii U product lines.  Instead the Switch looks like it is meant to fill roles currently taken by both.  As shown it has a dock that lets you hook it up to your TV in the traditional living room console fashion.  But it can be removed from the dock, which reveals a small high definition display.

The controllers are… um… they seem to have many roles in the Switch universe… and a silly name… Joy-Con controllers.   From the press release:

Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers.

Given how small the controllers look… something that matters when you have giant mitts like mine… I am happy that other controllers will be available.

Another item that sticks out from the press release is the idea of Switch users being able to bring their units together to form up a local mulitplayer network.

Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.

The return of the LAN party?

Of course, Nintendo has many fanciful visions of people using the Switch, carrying it from place to place, and never being without it… ever… in the video that accompanied today’s announcement.

Friends calling you to come to their roof top party?  Now you can bring your video game obsession with you!

Of course, for me, the big question is, “What does this mean for Pokemon?!?!?!”

Console play isn’t really much of a thing at our house.  We got many hours on the Wii back when my daughter was in grade school, but now it just sits and collects dust, while the PlayStation 3 has been primarily a Blu-Ray playing and video streaming device over its five year life in our living room.  So I never gave a thought to buying an XBox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U.

The only console I do play is the Nintendo 3DS, and that is pretty much just for Pokemon.  So if the Switch is going to get the main line Pokemon RPG games at some point, then I might have to look into the system.  In the video they show the Switch taking a cartridge, ever the delivery vehicle for Pokemon games.

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

Of course, that may never happen.  Despite Nintendo’s statement about the NX, now Switch, not being a direct replacement for either 3DS or Wii U, it sure feels more like a Wii U replacement than anything else.  It is a living room device for use on the TV, even when mobile the screen looks a bit big to be pocketable, and the video shows people playing Splatoon, one of the few hits on the Wii U.

Meanwhile, as the Wii U has languished, the 3DS line remains a good seller, seeing a significant boost in sales over the summer has Pokemon Go seemed to stir interest in the “real” Pokemon games, the core RPG titles available on the 3DS.  And, of course, the next installment in the core Pokemon RPG series is due out next month on the 3DS platform.  No need to hurry any transition for that line.

The flip side of that is Nintendo’s long standing tradition of supporting games from the previous console generation.  Without an optical drive, that isn’t going to happen for Wii U titles.  Of course, that might be the whole point of saying it is not a direct replacement.  It is a replacement for the Wii U, but it isn’t going to play any of your Wii U games.  Given how PlayStation and XBox backward compatibility has been handled… and the slow sales of the Wii U… this might not hurt Nintendo all that much.  Still, you can see how this might be a… heh… switch for them.  Ahem… anyway… no more motion controllers and no touch screen.  And no mention of VR.

And that is about all we know.  The press release has a list of developers who have signed up to support the Switch, but as we have seen in the past, studios saying they are going to support a platform fully and getting them to actually do it are two different things entirely.  You can watch the Zero Punctuation episode from a couple weeks back about the Capcom 5 to see how Nintendo has been screwed on that front before.  Other than that, we have the video, the press release, and the promised date of March 2017.

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

Meanwhile, the video game sites are jumping all over this and picking apart every nuance of what has been show (like the fact that Splatoon players have pants on the Switch version) so I expect the Wikipedia entry on the unit to get a lot of edits and updates over the next few days.

So the Switch is coming in a few months, so people can start building up a supply of headline puns playing on the unit’s name.

My Slackening Pace in the Broken Isles

I made it through the main quest lines of Stormheim over the weekend.  It actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, with a diversion into hell for a bit.

The management explaining how we were not leaving

The management explaining how we were not leaving

Finishing the main quest lines got me the achievement which I assume will count towards unlocking flying in the Broken Isles at some future date.

Another off the list

Another off the list

That wrapped up my initial clockwise run through the initial four zones of WoW Legion.

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

That still leaves me with Suramar and the Broken Shore to tackle… I guess… and whatever else the expansion offers at level 110.  But, while I have been enjoying the quest lines and such, I haven’t been feeling any real drive to finish them up.  I could have finished up Stormheim a couple weeks back had I a mind to do so.  I was finishing up Highmountain about three weeks back.

I was even starting to fall off when it game to those last couple of shipyard missions from the Draenor garrison.  I let almost all of last week go by without even logging in to do that or collect hexweave for bags.  Again, I got back to it over the weekend, and even got two of the final three achievements I was shooting for.

Earned me the title "Captain"

Earned me the title “Captain”

Meanwhile, I still have a pile of level 100 characters that haven’t really done much of anything.  Vikund is 110, but there are five more characters sitting around PLUS there is that level 100 boost that I have yet to use.  I have not dove into Legion the way I did into Warlords of Draenor, though the design of Legion seems to be as much to blame as anything when it comes to alts.

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

So, I started down the path that I often follow when the main thread of the game isn’t holding me.  I started looking for something from past releases that I missed which I could go back and work on for a bit.  I ran down the now very long list of faction reputations in my character sheet, looking for somebody I could bump up to exalted.

Deep down I found that I still had a number of factions still available for work from the Burning Crusade era.  Honor Hold was deep into revered, so I decided to start with that.  I think I had been working on that previously, then lost interest and went elsewhere.  To get that running meant heading to Outland to run Shattered Halls.  Being just a five person instance, that went pretty quickly.  I did not get a ton of faction from it, but enough that I only need a couple more runs to hit revered.

That having gone quickly, I looked at what else was on the list and came upon the Violet Eye faction, which was barely into friendly territory.  I had to go look that faction up and found that to boost it you had to go run through Karazhan.  Over at WoW Head the comments said that a full run through the old raid instance was worth about 10K faction for a full clear, which sounded good.  It wouldn’t take that many runs to boost up the Violet Eye then.

Of course the trick is that you have to actually find your way through Karazhan to do this.

I never went to Karazhan back in the day, and can only recall going there once… maybe during Cataclysm… and getting pretty thoroughly lost. (We also tried to go visit at one point in the distant past, but found you needed a key back then.)  Or, not lost, because I always ended up back at the front door, but unable to move find my way beyond the first couple of areas.

If you have been there, you know that Karazhan is a large, sprawling raid instance, the sort of “just got carried away” thing that Blizzard just doesn’t do much anymore.

Anyway, with nothing else on my list to do and no ops running in New Eden, I headed to Karazhan to start exploring.

The last time I went there were no in-instance maps, which probably explains my lack of progress.  There are now maps in the instance, and while they don’t exactly hold you by the hand and direct you forward, you at least get a hint as to where connections to other areas might be as well as getting the various bosses marked on the map.

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

And so I have managed to stumble through the place, exploring, killing large groups of mobs for faction, collecting items for transmog (Maybe something from Burning Crusade looks good?), and occasionally getting a surprise drop.

A pet! I didn't even know about that.

A pet! I didn’t even know about that.

So that has given me something to do, though because it is a raid I cannot log in and run through every night.  The lockout timer keeps me away for a few days.  I’ll be finished with Honor Hold rep much more quickly.

However, I did wonder if I was going be able to finish my Violet Eye faction run.  A change is coming next week, one that features Karazhan.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

In the past changes to old instances, such as Onyxia, have meant that the old versions have gone away.  The patch notes I have seen for the public test realm seem to indicate that this will not be the case with Karazhan, the the update will just add an additional instance that will take place within the old raid zone.  But it isn’t clear to me how that will affect just walking in the front door of the place once 7.1 hits.

Anyway, I will have at least one more chance to run through it this weekend based on my current timer.  And while I wait for the timer to run down, Hallow’s End is upon us again so I can take the daily run at trying to get the mount drop.  Maybe this year I will get lucky!