The Agnarr Server to Open Another Door to Norrath Nostalgia

Over on the EverQuest front a new progression server is slated to open up this evening.  The Agnarr server, named for the raid boss Agnarr the Stormlord will add a new facet to Daybreak’s nostalgia farming techniques.

Agnarr the Stormlord is judging you…

As I mentioned in my post about progression servers last week, Agnarr is perhaps not really covered by that name.  It will, in fact, progress, though it won’t go through any of that voting or content unlocking in order to do so.  The Agnarr server already has a fixed schedule:

  • May 24, 2017 – Agnarr server opens with original EverQuest content
  • August 16, 2017 – Ruins of Kunark expansion unlocked
  • November 8, 2017 – Scars of Velious expansion unlocked
  • January 31, 2018 – Shadows of Luclin expansion unlocked
  • April 25, 2018 – Planes of Power expansion unlocked
  • July 18, 2018 – Legacy of Ykesha expansion unlocked
  • October 10, 2018 – Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked

And once there, progression will stop, as laid out in the server FAQ.

This will give a very vocal segment of the EverQuest forum community something they have been asking for since progression servers started; a server locked in the past, that will sit at content released in September of 2003.  It is the classic server that has been demanded for so long.

While Daybreak is calling it a “PoP-locked” server, PoP being the Planes of Power expansion, one of the most ambitious (and bug plagued at the time) raiding expansions in the game, a watershed in the game’s history, and the last hurrah for open world contested raiding, two more expansions will follow on, Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath.

There is a certain irony here, or a certain symmetry if you want to look at it from a different angle, in stopping at LDoN.  That is where SOE introduced instanced group content to the game, a full year ahead of the launch of World of Warcraft.  Who copied whom here?

But the Agnarr server will include all of the features and details of the past servers.  It will be a “true box” server, so no multi-boxing will be allowed.  The server will be able to spawn multiple instances of zones to deal with any crowding issues.  And raids will be instanced.

from the FAQ:

Q: How Does Raid Instancing Work on Agnarr?

The system will allow a full raid (72 players) into an instance. You will need at least 6 players in your raid to request a raid instance, and the players in your raid need to be level 46 or higher.

When you request a raid instance, the player that requested it, and his or her entire raid, will be given an account-wide request lockout for that specific raid for 2.5 days.

Each “boss” in the zone will grant a 6.5 day account-wide lockout. For the most part, this is just the big boss (Lord Nagafen, for example) and the stuff in his/her/its immediate vicinity.

For launch, Plane of Sky is an exception to the above instancing rule. Each island will have a lockout. Kill any NPC on that island and everyone in your raid will receive a 6.5 day account-wide lockout for that island.

You will be able to raid in peace with your guild, fighting the boss when you can get your group together rather than having to worry about vying with other guilds.  Raid PvP won’t be a thing.  Even the nostalgia experience has to bend to the reality of player behavior.

The server is set to go today at 5pm 2pm Pacific time, which is UTC minus 7 currently.  Given past launches, I expect there to be some delays.  But maybe they have this progression server thing locked down by this point.  We shall see.

I am sure some people are excited.  I see Keen is hyped up for this server.

I am a bit indifferent.  I like the idea, but even with casual grouping generally a thing, going in alone without friends of a regular group doesn’t appeal to me.  Also, the initial time frame before the first expansion feels a bit short to me.  But the server won’t have moved too far along if I join later.

Anyway, the classic server idea, locked in time, that some have been clamoring for will soon be a thing.  Again, you can find the server FAQ here for the details.

New Skill Injectors for Those on an ISK or Skill Point Budget

In addition to the announcement earlier about new PLEX being paid out to those remaining holders of Aurum, today also brings a new type of skill injector to New Eden.

With today’s update (I’m a bit surprised CCP didn’t hold this for the YC119.6 update, but sometimes you undock as soon as you’re ready to go I guess) there will be two flavors of skill injectors/extractors on the market.

Things capsuleers do to themselves…

The previously existing injectors, which hold 500,000 skill points will now be prefaced with the word “Large,” while a new set of injectors/extractors will be available today with the word “Small” up front.  These new small units will work pretty much the same as the old injectors, they will just do so in increments of 100,000 skill points.

As with the original extractors the amount of skill points delivered will depend on how many skill points your character already has.

For Small injectors:

  • For characters with less than 5mil SP:  100k SP
  • For characters with 5mil – 50mil SP:  80k SP
  • For characters with 50mil – 80mil SP:   60k SP
  • For characters with more than 80mil SP:   30k SP

For Large injectors:

  • For characters with less than 5mil SP:  500k SP
  • For characters with 5mil – 50mil SP:  400k SP
  • For characters with 50mil – 80mil SP:   300k SP
  • For characters with more than 80mil SP:   150k SP

Of course, skill injectors have been around for a while.  They went in with the YC118.2 update on Mardi Gras last year and there was immediate activity. as well as the usual comedy and abuse and commentary in the community.  At Fanfest this year CCP gave us a peek at how popular the skill trading, as they refer to it, really was.

Skill trading stats as of Fanfest 2017

There is something telling in those most extracted/injected skills.

For me, with the characters I use well over 80 million skill points, injectors seem like a waste of ISK.  I continue to skill up the old fashioned way, by simply waiting.  But I have an alt who, when he isn’t training a skill he needs, just trains up skill points to extract, something that has provided a decent income.  I sold an injector in Jita on Sunday for 740 million ISK which, less the price of the extractor (I bought a pile of those when there was a bit of a glut on the market) netted me some spending money for other things.

Now we will have both large and small injectors on the market.  Price wise, large injectors should be five times the price of small injectors, so small injectors ought to show up somewhere between 140 and 150 million ISK, if the price of large injectors holds stable.

But will there be demand for smaller injectors?  All things equal, one large is the same as five small and the prices should be locked together by the 5 to 1 ratio in Jita.  However, markets are not always logical, at least not in the short term.   If 100K skill points isn’t as desirable as 500K, will the new injectors end up being a drag on the price?  We shall see as time rolls on.

CCP to Pay Out Remaining PLEX for Aurum

CCP announced earlier that after downtime today those who had less than 1,000 Aurum when New PLEX went live back on May 9th would be getting the PLEX owed them.

The New PLEX in New Eden

You can find the announcement here, but it is short enough to quote:

We are happy to announce that all pilots who had Aurum balances outstanding from the PLEX changes have now had their converted PLEX balances delivered as of downtime May 23rd.

In order to protect the market and value of PLEX during the transition, all pilots who had less than 1000 Aurum in their wallets did not have this converted to PLEX when the changes were deployed on May 9th, and were notified that they would receive their Aurum balance in PLEX three months after the deployment of the PLEX changes.

After careful consideration and close monitoring of the market, we have decided to reimburse these PLEX earlier.

Today’s daily downtime was extended slightly in order to allow for a reimbursement script to be run, and all pilots should now have their outstanding PLEX balances reimbursed.

As it turned out, the market did not need much in the way of protection.  The price of 500 new PLEX (needed for the 30 days of game time that a single old PLEX would grant) went up after the conversion and has remained up.  This wasn’t all that surprising to me.  It seemed akin to a 500 for 1 stock split, and the price of a stock almost always goes up after such a change. (If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t have done the split.)  And new PLEX can be used for more things (even if character transfers are no longer on the list) so more demand, and an accompanying rise is price, seemed likely.

That means ISK is effectively cheaper if you want to sell PLEX.  If you are buying PLEX to pay for your null sec Rorqual mining alts in the face of nerfs and low mineral prices however, this might be a painful time.  I will be interested to see what the monthly economic report for May and June will show.

Anyway, I will have to check in and see if I have 42 more PLEX on the accounts that had the 300 gift PLEX.

The Blood Raiders Shipyard Destroyed

There was a chance that I might see the Blood Raiders Shipyard destroyed.  After it was hit, the timer was set locking in when the final assault would come.  I was working from home and the timing was such that it ought to have come out of its reinforcement cycle at just about the time my day was done. I still had my alt parked in the system and the shipyard was sitting there waiting.

Eyeballing the Sotiyo in my Buzzard

As a toiled away I saw the pings come up for the fleets destined for the final event.  There appeared to plenty of interest as a second fleet had to be formed.  As the timer approached I logged in and warped out to a spot I had setup about 600km off the structure so I could see how this was all going to turn out.  I started a long, lazy orbit as the fleet of Punishers showed up and spread around the their target.

Ball of Punishers around the shipyard

A second fleet was watching gates while a fleet of TEST interceptors showed up in system as well and setup on a perch from which they could warp in and take pot shots at the Punisher fleet.

Once the time counted down the Punisher fleet opened up and started plinking the target.

A Punisher blazing away

As before, Blood Raider ships spawned, but they seemed at a loss when faced with the tiny T1 frigates motoring along in orbits around the shipyard.  CCP did not update anything for this particular run.

A Blood Raiders Omen just loafing about, not even trying…

The only real hazard for the fleet came from the TEST Interceptors who would warp in to try and pick off a target every so often.  They were successful, but Jay had stocked ships in the local station so people were able to warp off, reship, and rejoin the attack.  I planned to join in the assault as well, once the structure went down far enough.  I had scrounged a light missile launcher and some missiles locally so I could get in and plink it.

However, at about that point I had to leave for a bit.  I was on the hook to pick my daughter up after school and drive her downtown, something complicated by the advent of early onset Friday afternoon rush hour traffic.  It took more than an hour to get her, drop her off downtown, and get back home, by which time the event was over and most everybody had gone home. (I did see SynCaine in local for a minute or so after I got back.)

I had warped in to launch a couple of missiles at the shipyard before cloaking up in a safe spot and head out, but my shot was too early and I did not even get on the kill mail for the structure.

I also missed the comedy finale, detailed over at INN, where TEST pilot named Karl Kox zipped to the structure wreck in a Claw interceptor and scooped up blue print copies for the Chemosh dreadnought and Molok titan, only to be blown up.  With his ship went the Chemosh blue print, but the Molok surivived and was picked up by Hudders, another TEST pilot in a Claw who was also blown up in short order.  With him went the Molok blue print, and so the drops from the event went *poof* just like that.

And so it goes in New Eden.

So there I was on grid where the Blood Raiders Shipyard had been, cloaked up and looking around.  A fair number of Blood Raider ships were still roaming around rather aimlessly.  I saw a fleet of Blood Raider Augoror cruisers looping and turning and making patterns in search of a purpose.

Augoror fleet does a star burst, just to form up again

I watched the ships move about, then switch to the overview that showed wrecks on the field.  Loot looked to be fairly readily available, with an unlooted Jackdaw wreck visible to me.  I warped over to it, motored into range and found some light missiles on it.  I took those and then started to head over to some wrecks a ways away.  As I drew into range I suddenly got the CAPSULE EJECTING message as the Buzzard blew to bits around me.  A Blood Raiders Chemosh dreadnought had locked me up and one-shotted me.

These things are a menace to the space lanes

That was why there was still loot on grid; grabbing it was a hazard.  I bookmarked my wreck and warped to the station.  On docking I was given one standard issue Ibis corvette, the rookie ship you are handed by the game when you have no ship.  I decided to warp back out and see if I could quickly scoop up some of the items that dropped.  The Sisters expanded probe launcher and the covert ops cloak were worth some ISK, so there was no point leaving them sitting on grid.

I warped out the wreck and then ended up sitting there because I couldn’t fit all of the stuff from the wreck into the cargo hold of the Ibis.  I ejected one item, but as I sat there deciding I was once again blown up by the Chemosh.

An Ibis in the act of exploding

That lost me the probe launcher and some of the probes, but there was still the cloak to be had, and an Ibis is free, so I warped off in my pod for the station and shipped back up in an Ibis.  Then I warped back out to the now increasing pile of wrecks.  This time I laded a bit too far off the spot, but even as I got there to loot the Chemosh popped me again.

That thing must be doing pretty well to hit an Ibis so quickly.

Fortunately the loot fairy was kind to me and I only lost a couple of probes and that single unit of tritanium in the explosion.  The covert ops cloak and the coprocessor II were both still there waiting for me.  So I grabbed another Ibis, warped out, landed right on top of the wreck, looted quickly, and aligned to warp off.  Even as I was moving, the Chemosh took a shot at me.  This time he missed though.

Ibis gets past the beam of death

I was able to warp off safely.  I made it to the gate and through and back up into Delve without incident.  The event had been over for long enough for any hostile gate camps to have either given up or been driven off.

Anyway, that was my own little side adventure.  Soon the search will begin for the next incarnation of the Blood Raiders Shipyard.  Maybe a blue print will survive through the next event.

This past weekend’s Talking in Stations broadcast has some time devoted to the event and includes Imperium FC Apple Pear talking about what happened and how the Punisher plan came into being if you are interested in that.

Addendum: The Blood Raiders leader Omir Sarikusa issues a defiant statement after the loss of the shipyard.

Honest Trailers – Aliens

With the launch of Alien: Conevant, another entry in the Alien franchise, which stopped being great after the first two movies, Honest Trailers went back and took a look at the second of the two entries worth seeing, Aliens.

 

If I recall right, I saw this with Potshot in a theater in Fairfield back in 1986.

Of course, if you’re not a fan Cinema Sins decided to nitpick Aliens as well this week.

A Return to Form Reinforces the Blood Raiders Shipyard

The battle station is heavily shielded and carries a firepower greater than half the star fleet. Its defenses are designed around a direct, large-scale assault. A small one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the outer defense.

General Dodonna, Star Wars Episode IV

The mythos of the early days of Goonswarm and the Great War in New Eden is centered on how Goons opted to fight by flying masses of cheap, T1 frigates into battle, heedless of losses or killboard stats, with an aim to choke the guns on their foes with their wrecks.  This set them apart from Band of Brothers, which flew expensive fits and valued their green killboard.

The image of a Goon in his Rifter became almost iconic.

Back in the day…

Things have changed.  Not quickly… even back in late 2011 when I joined the then CFC the idea of a main fleet doctrine featuring anything besides T1 ships was crazy talk… but inevitably fits and doctrines got more expensive.  Two of the main fleet doctrines are Machariels, faction battleships, and T3 strategic cruisers.  There are always fits in each doctrine for new players, but you might be flying tackle, a target painter, or an ECM frigate fit.  Vital to each fleet, but not the big shiny ships that make up the power of each doctrine.

So there was an extra special dimension to the win when the the Imperium reinforced the first ever Blood Raiders Shipyard down in Period Basis.

After trying capitals, supercaps, and battleships on the test server, the doctrine for the first full on reinforcement effort was based on T1 frigates with newbie friendly fits.  The lowly, unloved Amarr Punisher formed the backbone of the operation, with a fit that ran just over a 1.3 million ISK.  The Blood Raiders were assaulted in the spirit of the Great War, by a mass of cheap ships.

Not as iconic as a Rifter, but an old work horse

This, of course, made some people lose their heads as this fine thread on Reddit shows.  But others cheered the fact that EVE Online is still a place where the stuff you are able to fit in the first week can be used in a high end event.

Unlike the old days however, there was no needed to choke the guns of the foe with wrecks.  Instead, the Blood Raiders seemed as impotent in defending their Soityo as the Empire was in defending the Death Star.  Rather than a mass of wrecks, there were only a few losses.  As the shields went down, the Blood Raiders called in more and more ships, but to almost no effect.

The full tale of the event is covered by Moomin’s post over at INN.

This all happened while I was at work, but when I got home I logged in my alt, which I had left in system and saw that the shipyard was counting down its reinforcement timer.

Less than a day to go

There were still some Blood Raider ships bouncing around the structure, but otherwise the field was clear and the system mostly empty.

Unlike player own citadels, the Blood Raiders structure has only the one timer event.  When that is done counting down, the structure will be vulnerable to destruction.

Of course, a replay of yesterday might not be possible.

To start with, news of the event has gone far and wide and the general timing is known, so other fleets may show up to either interfere with the second battle or to fight over whatever drops from the shipyard when it is destroyed.

And then there is CCP.  As you will note if you read through CCP Fozzie’s Twitter thread, CCP was watching this event closely.  With an intervening downtime, it is possible they may have tweaked the defenses of the shipyard to better respond to the T1 frigate menace.

We will only know for sure a few hours after this post goes live.

Addendum:

The Scope has a video up about the current state of the Blood Raiders shipyard.

The Life of Progression Servers

I was looking at the front page of the EverQuest site to see if there was any news worth knowing and I was struck/amused that the two most recent items involve progression servers, with the vote to unlock the Planes of Power expansion hitting the Ragefire server and the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion opening up on the Phinigel server.

Playing the nostalgia card has worked out pretty well for EverQuest and I am glad to see they are taking it more seriously than they did in the past, where such servers were launched with fanfare, only to be mostly ignored thereafter.

On the other hand, I do wonder when we might hit the “too much of a good thing” margin when it comes to nostalgia.  Yes, the latest progression server, Phinigel, remains the most popular server for the game most hours of the day.  On the flip side, such servers now represent almost 25% of the total EverQuest server base and, according to the recent Producer’s Letter, Daybreak plans to launch a new one this summer called Agnarr with its own special twist.

EverQuest Server List – May 2017

What should become of progression servers that are past their prime?  The original pair, The Combine and The Sleeper, which launched a decade back… can you have nostalgia for nostalgia… were eventually rolled into standard servers when they had caught up.  That was back in 2009, so they didn’t linger on for long on their own.

But Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr launched back in February of 2011 and, last I saw of them, the vote for the Underfoot expansion was going on… that was in 2014… and I haven’t heard much about it since.

The next round came in May 2015, with Ragefire, then Lockjaw following up in the traditional spillover server role a bit later.

That was followed up six months later by the current reigning champion nostalgia server, Phinigel, which took all the zone instancing and server queue lessons Daybreak learned and rolled in some features to keep people from multi-boxing.

Now, about a year and a half down the road from the Phinigel launch, Agnarr looms.  While Agnarr has a different formula than Phinigel, it will still likely steal some of the players from the older server, just the way Phingel denuded the populations of Ragefire and Lockjaw.

Meanwhile, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr linger on… are they effectively live servers at this point?  You need All Access to log in, but if they’re done progressing on their own maybe that shouldn’t be the case.  And is there too much capacity in the EverQuest nostalgia department at this point?  Should some of these servers get merged in or have they spawned resilient (and paying) communities worth keeping the servers up?