Still infused with our fresh wave of EverQuest nostalgia, Potshot and I were out of the tutorial and in old Norrath again. My warrior and his bard were both level 11, we each had a mercenary in tow, and we wanted to see how we might fare in the world.
It is a big world, and where to go is always a challenge. And this all the more with the Plane of Knowledge available to us, since we can drop in on so many places without much travel time. But without a lot of time to invest in researching where we should go, it had to be some place obvious.
The game itself suggested Blackburrow when we hit level 11, which seemed kind of low level. I suggested West Karana, which has a variety of things to go after, and Potshot agreed. It is one of those classic zones where nobody ever hangs out.
West Karana all on One Map
(Map image from Phoenix Dragoons site)
My thought was bandit camps. That was something of a known quantity for us after last year on the Fippy Darkpaw server. And though we were a level or two up on where we were when we started on bandits back then, adds and aggro management was still a danger to us at our level.
So we waded into the bandits. First in the smaller groups that are on the plains around the farm, then later into the larger groups up in the hills. And we were pretty much invincible.
Bandit Problems? Call Mercs R Us!
We went through a few rounds of clearing out bandit camps, including spawns with the ever annoying (and often deadly), casting bandits.
Basically, any time we were coming up short, the mercenaries picked up the slack.
It was nice to see that my mercenary, the healer, would not only heal Potshot and myself, but would also heal Potshot’s tank mercenary along with herself. In fact, there were times when we seemed to be somewhat superfluous to the fight.
In the picture above, we had managed to pull the whole camp of bandits. That looked like trouble. But my merc pulled aggro on the whole group by healing me and ended up off tanking everything while just standing there healing once in a while. Meanwhile, Potshot’s merc was doing more damage than either of us. I tried to look effective by taunting so I could at least tank one of the bandits.
At more than one point in these fights it looked like we could have just stepped back and let the bots clean things up. There were a couple of fights where us focusing on the right bandit first, like the level 12 casters, needed our involvement. But we clearly had to screw things up mightily to worry about a wipe.
After demonstrating clear mastery over bandits, I ran us over to the farm fields to chase scarecrows. (Scarecrows were one of my early favorite models. I like light shining out of their faces and the way they move.)
Here, due to bad placement and wide ranging scarecrow movement, we ended up taking on three scarecrows in a chain. We never had to face more than two at once, but these were mobs were red to us.
Scarecrow in West Karana
And while I was nervous going in, especially when we started getting adds, we ended up knocking off the scarecrows without much drama. The mercenaries kept us going, again doing the healing and most of the damage. I managed to taunt well enough to tank and pretend I was making a difference, but I was pretty sure again that we could have gone off for tea and the mercs would have cleaned up for us.
The experience was pretty good though. I was seeing 12% of a level from each scarecrow. That got me well into level 12 and tipped Potshot into that level as well.
We did eventually meet our match. A wandering spirit roamed by us, looking like four wisps glued together in two pairs, and I immediately tagged it, only to find we were taking serious damage from it without doing much of our own.
I quickly googled the mob and found it on Zam and found that it was level 25. I suppose here was the test. It was pretty clear that we were not going to be able to bring it down, but we hung around in the fight long after we should of to see how long we would last. In what I would call a 7 minute battle (estimating methodology: take how long the fight seemed and cut that time at least in half, because people always over estimate) the mercenaries covered for us and stayed up until the healer ran out of mana. And then it was slow death, all of us dropping one by one.
The mercenaries went down first. Then, when we finally decided it was high time to leave, we could never quite get away as the wandering spirit would root us. So we died too, a full wipe.
We were then back at the Plane of Knowledge, where Potshot discovered he lost a level. So we ran out quickly and got that back before calling it a night.
This was my first real “out in the world” use of mercenaries in EverQuest. They seem pretty powerful, considering we were using a pair of apprentice mercs. I suspect that this will even out some as we level up.
Now we just have to figure out where we should go in the world with this group to get us in range of the Lost Dungeons of Norrath content.
Norrath is such a big place and there are so many choices at any level.