Monthly Archives: October 2014

October in Review

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?

 

The Instance Group Mostly Finishes Off Pandaria

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.

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Wait, What? The Giants Win the World Series Again?

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

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

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

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.

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