Monthly Archives: May 2009

In The Azjol End of Nerub

It was Saturday night and I was again unsure if we were going to be able to get our group together and into the next instance on the list, Azjol Nerub.  Bung was running late and when we went to enter the instance to start clearing just to get things in motion, we were greeted with one of Blizzard’s current favorite errors:

We got this error repeatedly over the course of about 15 minutes, so we occupied ourselves with leftover Noblegarden items.

Earl the Bunny

Earl the Bunny

After jumping into the instance portal over and over while we waited, we eventually managed to get ourselves into Azjol Nerub to start our preliminary work.  We cleared a few groups until we rounded the first corner and saw the first boss, Krik’thir the Gatewatcher.  He had three groups of three in front of him we thought we would clear out so when Bung got on we would be ready for that first boss fight.

If you’ve done the instance, you know that we didn’t do any research.

As it turns out, those three groups are part of the Krik’thir fight.  Tagging one group starts an event where you get each group in turn then Krik’thir in series.  Not an overwhelming battle unless you are short a person and aren’t ready for a full battle because you’ve not even bothered to take off your bunny ears.

The group in Azjol Nerub is not taking the game seriously!

The group in Azjol Nerub is not taking the game seriously!

Does it count as a wipe for the group if you haven’t technically started yet?

Still, even though we had not gotten very far into the instance we managed to knock off the first quest, Don’t Forget the Eggs.  So we turned that in for upgrades to our hand wear all around.  That quest was also enough to push Vikund to level 75.

The we went back in, got ourselves ready, and waited for Bung.

Who watches the watcher?  Us!

Who watches the watcher? Us!

Bung showed up just a few minutes later and our group was complete and ready to go:

73 Warrior – Earlthecat
74 Priest – Skronk
74 Warlock – Bungholio
74 Mage – Ula
75 Paladin – Vikund

We went and wiped for real on our first full fight with Krik’thir.  I guess that happens when you warm up on a boss fight.

Fortunately we only needed a single warm-up fight to get our act together and bring down the watcher.

Watcher Defeated

Watcher Defeated

Krik’thir was nice enough to drop the Exquisite Spider-Silk Footwraps, much to the joy of our cloth wearing group members.

Then we started looking around for the next boss.  We wandered around and found ourselves at a dead end it seemed.  We could see spiders running around below us, but were not sure how to get at them.  Eventually we figured out that you could walk down the spider webs arrayed around the dungeon, giving Azjol Nerub a very different feel from the classic “feet on stone” dunegons we have generally encounter.

Climbing down the web

Climbing down the web

Moving down the webs plonked us into the midst of a bunch of spiders, including the next boss, Hadronox.  We were not really paying attention to him as we pulled one of the closer spiders only to find we were in another event that lead to the boss fight.  We were not quite ready for that, but went with what came at us and ended up the last group standing, sending Hadronox, his minions, and the Scourge that were attacking him off to their respective makers.

Dead Spider

Dead Spider

We were back to the usual “leather and mail” loot drop routine with Hadronox.

The second boss out of the way, we started looking for where to go next.  After running around on the webs for a bit and zapping the occasional spider, we ended up around a hole in the floor.  A hole so deep that the bottom was not visible.

Earl, wearing an engineering parachute cloak, jumped into the hole, fell slowly for the 10 seconds that the cloak lasts, then fell freely for even longer until he hit a body of water far below.

With Earl down and safe, we all jumped into the hole.  Another interesting twist in Azol Nerub.

Skronk falling down to us

Skronk falling down to us

Down at the bottom, we wandered around a bit until we found our way to Anub’arak. (A new Barack?)

Not the oval office

Not the oval office

Our first run at him was less than successful.  Another wipe.  Like the other bosses in Azjol Nerub, Anub’arak isn’t so much a fight as an event and you have to be in his circle to participate.  Unfortunately, the casters were all outside of the circle, which lead to Earl and Vikund being killed in rather short order.  Then the barrier went down and so did the casters.

Fortunately we had a soul stone availabe and could revive on the spot.  Not that I would have minded another jump down the rabbit/spider hole, but it is a bit of a run to get there.

The second time around with all of us inside the circle the event went our way.


Anub’arak was down and the instance was defeated.

However, it was a bit early in the evening still, even with a late start, and we felt had a good 45 minutes to an hour left in us.  So we thought we would take a peek into the next instance on the list, Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom.  It is only 100 yards or so from Azjol-Nerub.

There we managed to fight out way into the first boss, Elder Nadox who, unlike Krik’thir, isn’t practically within sight of the front door.  He, however, stopped us cold.

Dead with Elder Nadox

Dead with Elder Nadox

I’m not so sure we weren’t capable of killing him as much as we were at the end of the night and perhaps did not have as much fight left in us as we thought we might have.  But he was an extra credit assignment this time around.  He will be the first target for our next attempt.

EverQuest and the Intoxication of Nostalgia

Just because my own EverQuest nostalgia buzz is in remission for the moment doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot out there to be harvested.

EverQuest, still riding high in its 10th year has had a poll going about a new server they plan to open.  They wanted to know what sort of rule set the players would want.  And the results were announced last Friday on the EverQuest Developer Blog, it is going to be a 51/50 rule set.

And unless you’ve been paying close attention, that doesn’t mean much.

The new rule set means that when you create a new character it starts out at level 51 with 50 AA points to spend and a standard set of equipment.  This may be, as Tipa points out, a unique opportunity to experience EverQuest.  You will suddenly have a server loaded with people who are level 51 and looking to play, to experience EverQuest anew.

I’d personally have to find a group to run with… which I guess would be the point… because level 51 is a few levels beyond what I have ever achieved in EverQuest.  But from the tourist perspective this is a serious enabler.  And there is certainly more work to be done, as the level cap is up to 85 and you can earn (and will need) a gazillion AA points.

Of course, this isn’t enough nostalgia for some.  I saw a post the other day that was pointing toward yet another Internet petition drive, this one asking for SOE to create a classic EverQuest server.  They have their own site and you can go read the petition for details, but in essence they want to relive the first few years of EverQuest in real-time with the same content.

That means a good stretch of time with only the release content, rules, and graphics.  That might seem like a good idea when looking through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia, but probably isn’t.  EverQuest was awesome on day one partially because there was nothing else really like it.  Today however….

I do wonder if World of Warcraft will generate the same amount of nostalgia in a few years, if there will be petitions to create servers where hunters still have to go tame animals to learn skills and such?  Not that Blizzard plays the nostalgia card that way.  They tend to make a game, make an expansion, and move on.  And if they want to revisit an IP, they make a new version of the game.

And on the EverQuest theme, Raph Koster pointed out that Games Studies is devoting this month’s edition to EverQuest in celebration of the 10th anniversary.  They have some interesting articles up including a somewhat dated but interesting interview with Brad McQuaid and Kevin McPherson.

And if all of that isn’t enough to get you thinking about resubscribing to EverQuest just for old time’s sake, go watch Sayonara Norrath one more time.  If that doesn’t do it, you were probably not a fan of EverQuest in the first place.

And Then There Was Children’s Week

After scoring all of the Noblegarden achievements on my main (and one alt) I was on something of an achievement buzz and looking forward to Children’s Week and the chance to earn some more perfectly useless “points.”

And then I started looking at the achievements.  A couple of them were pretty easy.  You could hardly avoid getting them if you ran the Children’s Week quests.  Then there were a few that took a bit of work.

And then there was the achievement that required you to accomplish things in certain battlegrounds with your orphan out and about, School of Hard Knocks.  This pretty much put the Children’s Week meta achievement out of reach for me.

Generally I like WoW achievements as long as they are goofy, fun, beneficial, or have a reward.  But I am also pretty clear in my mind that they are side tasks and any of them that become a pain generally get ignored.

And, frankly, spending a week running battlegrounds in hopes of knocking out this one achievement seemed to rate high on the scale of pain for me.  And I had not even considered how annoying this achievement might be for the people who enjoy playing battlegrounds and who are going to end up having their venue swarmed by achievement hounds who are unlikely to be “team players.”  I am happy to not to be adding to that problem as well.

So I let that slide in the hope that the achievements required for the Children’s Week meta achievement will get altered by the next time it comes around.  I ran the quests with the orphans, which gave me a nice little boost to my always lagging faction, some experience, and a couple of new pets (which got me to the “Plenty of Pets” achievement) and then called it an early week, putting off the meta achievement.

I can afford to wait.

After all, one of the achievements needed for the meta achievement requires you to slay King Ymiron in Utgarde Pinnacle, a level 80 instance.  Our weekly group isn’t quite there yet.  Maybe by next time.

All I Wanted Was a Bunny

I started off the week grousing about how World of Warcraft’s Noblegarden event had devolved into a cut-throat rendition of Lord of the Brightly Colored Flies in Goldshire.

But now I stand at this end of the week wearing a pair of bunny ears with the title “The Noble” appended to my name… and a pet bunny… we must not forget the bunny.

The first thing I did was get the hell out of Goldshire.  I actually spent time hunting eggs in Kharanos, Dolanaar, and Azure Watch to see which would be the most fruitful location.

Azure Watch turned out to be the place of choice, though not for the first reason you might think.

Certainly it was less crowded than Goldshire.  But it was only slightly less populated than Kharos and about on par with Dolanaar.  But Azure Watch has one feature that makes in the superior location: Geography.

Azure Watch is laid out on the top of a little hill in a circle.  This gives it two obvious “tracks” to run around, one outside the buildings and one inside the buildings. None of the other areas have such an obvious course, much less two courses, to run and none of them have such an obvious geographic boundary that defines where the eggs are.

So rather than the whole egg hunt becoming a camp-fest, people were actually running around to pick up eggs.  And when you get everybody in motion the whole thing is a lot less of a drag.  Granted, I wouldn’t want to make Noblegarden my main activity in WoW, but the egg stakeout in Goldshire was just painful in comparison.

And thus I managed, in a single evening, to collect all of the eggs I needed for the chocolate consumption achievements.


I also got all the items as drops, which enabled me to knock out all of the other achievements as well as look very silly.

Vikund the Noble

Vikund the Noble

And I got the bunny!

I am the pink bunny, the pet is the brown and white

I am the pink bunny, the pet is the brown and white

The hardest achievement of all turned out to be putting the bunny ears on one female representative of each of the playable races in the game.  You suddenly realize that there are not so many female orcs or trolls running around.  I had to go to Dalaran to do that part of the achievement, which meant doing it on the iMac since my video card still chokes on the place.

Fortunately there were a few people on my server with female horde characters who parked them in Dalaran to help people out with that achievement.  That helped a lot and probably took the pressure off of a lot of other players.  I can imagine it getting a bit creepy finding that Blizzard has made your troll female suddenly in demand server-wide!

All the rest of the achievements, once you had the right bits and pieces, were a matter of travel and finding a bit of help.  So, soon I was ennobled.


This was only the second time any of my characters have ever bothered to enter the zone Silithus.  And the last time was for the Lunar Festival to talk to one of the elders by the inn out there.

Of course, the next evening I had to get on my daughter’s account and get her the bunny as well.  Back to Azure Watch!

I was surprised when I started doing the egg hunt with my daughter’s character.  The achievements were identical.  I would have thought, since she plays a female character, that some of them would have been reversed.  You know, like wearing a dress and kissing somebody in a tuxedo or running around and putting bunny ears on a male from each of the player races in the game.  Certainly this sort of turn-about would have gone some ways towards blunting some of the criticism about the sexist and/or Playboy Mansion overtones of the event. (Putting bunny ears on level 18+ females?)

But I ran around and got her a bunny, the ears, and a good supply of eggs.

Then the next night, while my wife was off at a PTA meeting, I told my daughter about the bunny, so she wanted to see it, which lead to more egg hunting and I got out yet another character and ran in circles around Azure Watch until he got his own bunny and had all he needed to finish off the whole chain of achievements and get the title.

Not that I am sure he can finish it any time soon.  Not only does he face the bunny ear problem, but while it was pretty easy for a level 74 to travel all over to finish up the achievements, when you are level 32 it is a different story.  My little druid got about 50 yards outside of Tanaris on his way to Un’goro Crater before he had to flee back to safety.  I’ll have to get back to that with him another time.  It was still worth it to see his scowling visage topped by a pair of bunny ears.

Hey, four ears!

Hey, four ears!

That is how I ended up spending my time during Noblegarden.  And now it is Children’s Week.  More achievements to conquor.