Daily Archives: December 19, 2019

Putting a Man on the Moon

Tuesday was launch day and I was ready.

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

I thought, having leveled a character up to 110 and pre-ordered the expansion, that I might be able to visit Luclin and play in the new content on launch day.

More the fool I, for this is EverQuest II, the only MMORPG that can hold a candle to EVE Online when it comes obscuring content and needing to do half a dozen things before you can actually get to the thing you set out to do.

So one does not simply walk to the moon.

Blood of Luclin was up and ready to go by the time I got home from work.  I let it patch up a bit while I did some tasks about the house… Tuesday is garbage night… before logging in to see what was new.

And there wasn’t anything waiting for me.

Often there is something in the mail or a summons or a quest that just pops up that lets you know where that new content you paid real world money for actually exists.  But this time it was quiet.  I was beginning to feel like I had bought real estate on the moon.

But Bhagpuss had mentioned something about having to do a quest that had been part of the pre-launch events in order to gain access to the new content.  Fortunately people were already on the job and there was already a Blood of Luclin timeline entry on the main EQII wiki, which lists out much of what you need to do for the expansion.

And right at the top it says that you must have completed the “Light Amongst Shadows: Spires of Mythic Passage” quest to get started. (Since then another quest that unlocks access, “Piercing the Darkness: Chasing Moonbeams,” was added to the wiki, but it wasn’t there when I kicked this off.)

Great! Super! If I have a concrete destination I can formulate a plan.  And that quest looked hilariously simple.  But, of course, that quest had a its own prerequisites.  I would have to go speak to The Duality, with whom I had spoken before on a past merry quest chase.  I had even been given an item that would take me to him at some past point.

A teleport key

That key would teleport me to him, and was probably the intro to the expansion that showed up and was dismissed by me at the time because I was busy running down one language or another.

Anyway, off to The Duality to get the briefing and be on my way.

The Duality speaks of Luclin

From there it was off to the Jarsath Wastes, which only sounds like a Star Wars location, to speak to another guy, who happened to be right there on the docks where I arrived.

Brind, tell me where to go

Brind sent me off to an instance on the other side of the zone, the entrance to which was helpfully marked by a guild marker, no doubt to help guide members who, like myself, had ignored what turned out to be a very important prerequisite quest.

My familiar and my pet get in for a group shot with the flag… Jeff always smiles for the camera

I was into the instance, at which point things slowed way down.  It was going to be one of those instances.

I was going to have to fight my way through a series of level 114 to level 117 heroic and heroic boss encounters, and it was going to go slow.  I was in a similar situation back in the Plane of Magic.

I had since upgraded all my gear, added all the various stat boosting pets, familiars, and mounts I could, unlocked ascension levels, and boosted the skills I could afford to in order to get past that sort of thing.  But now I was on the far side of two expansions since then, and what was fine in the Plane of Magic was clearly below par in the prelude to Blood of Luclin.

Daybreak gives you some help.  You get a special boost when you enter the instance, but it seems to boost using yous stats as its baseline, so if you stats suck, your experience may not be ideal.  But if I was going to get to Luclin I figured I had better start in on things.

Who wants some of this?

The trash mob groups were not horrible.  The 114 groups took a few minutes, but so do some of my big hit geomancer ascension attacks, so those were almost in sync.  I’d tear down most of the trash group leader with those attacks, then clean up the rest of the mob, rest a moment, then start on the next group.

I do sometimes wonder if I am fighting correctly.  My form is based on what I learned back in 2004, which meant running heroic opportunities as often as possible for big adds to damage and the occasional buff.  I am not sure if those are really worth the effort now, but I play the way I learned.

Fighting a big amphibian guy

The higher level trash came solo rather than in groups, which tended to make them easier to deal with.  They still took a while, but I could keep my damage focused on single target attacks.

The bosses are where things got bad.  As a rule, I was never in any danger of dying so long as I was paying attention.  My mercenary sat back and kept me healed and buffed and had plenty of mana… erm, power… it is power in EQII… in reserve.  It was my ability to slay things that was the problem.

In a boss fight

Bosses, even bosses at the same level as the trash, are always a step up in difficulty and often have their own special mechanics, including my least favorite, the power drain.

Straight melee damage in EQII is shit.  They don’t give you a couple of dozen different melee attacks because they want you to go all old school EQ and just swing your sword every 2.3 second.  Those special attacks are what makes things dead.

And most of them depend on you having something left in your power bar.

Thanks to monumental stat inflation, even with my below par setup, I can chain attacks for days without ever worrying about that power bar depleting.

So, naturally, one of the common boss abilities is to drain your power, slurping down that blue power bar of yours until it runs dry.  And then you are stuck with the could of abilities which don’t require power and your base level melee, at which point fights can stretch out.

I was three hours into this instance before the last objective was in sight.  Most of that time had been spent in boss fights.  Some mechanics, like healing assistants, were easy enough to deal with.  And with my own endless healing merc, getting a boss that summoned help were no big deal.  But a few of them would drain my power and then it was a slog.  I clocked one at 40 minutes to finish off.

I had learned about this power drain thing in the Plane of Magic and had bought 75 vials of power regen.  Those were good for bringing back about 20% of your power, one bubble, but there is a delay between reuse and, of course, the boss can just drain even that little bit down again leaving you back where you started.

(An odd aside: It is interesting that health and mana potions have always been a thing in WoW, no doubt the Diablo series influence, but were really never a big deal in EQII except in special circumstances.  I don’t think I ever used on in EQII during its first decade.)

There is also an odd mechanic that faces you away from mobs, which effectively removes any melee attack which requires you to be looking at the mob.

My merc isn’t just mooning the mob

Add in the boss attacks that prevent you from attacking and if can be a long and frustrating experience.  You can imagine the joy of popping off one of your precious power potions only to find you ability to attack the boss turned off and having your power then drained away before you get to use it.

Eventually though I made it to the final objective, a stone I had to pick up.  In a moment of hope I realized I could skirt around the edge of the platform, bypassing all the mobs, to get to the stone.

The stone is right there

However, when you try to take it you are told it is being guarded.  Basically, you need to kill the bads before you can have it.  And the last boss was a big one with two helpers.

That is an encounter and a half

At level 117 to my level 110, this seemed likely to be another long fight.

I took this screen shot later, during the fight

It was way past my usual bet time and I was certain I did not have possibly another hour left in me to deal with this.  I seemed to remember that you could camp out in an instance like this and come back later.  Tired and done for the night, I figured I would risk it.

And it turned out I remembered correctly.  Wednesday evening after work I was able to log back in… though there was a moment of panic when the game froze as it was loading, but that turned out to be an EQ2 Maps problem.  I had run the updater to grab new maps and it downloaded the broken version.  But there was a fix for that.  Once in place I was back in where I left off.

It was off to the races and, as I expected, this final boss had the power drain mechanic, so I after a while I was down to popping a potion every once in a while in the hope that I could get some hits in.  At one point the doorbell rang as a package was being delivered.  I figured it was safe enough to just sit there and melee and took my time getting back to my desk, only to find that my merc had somehow pulled aggro and had gotten all of his power drained.  I pulled the boss back to me, hoping that my merc would regen enough power to keep me alive… but just as the merc got power I went down.

Would you like to buy a combat ress?

I figured I would blow the 89 coins for the instant ress as the boss was two thirds down at that point and both the helpers had been slain.  However, while I was down the boss had drained my merc’s power once again, so my revive did not last too long and I was soon dead again.  Then it was back to the start of the instance.

Fortunately they don’t believe in respawns at Daybreak.  But the whole encounter reset, which meant taking the boss and both helpers once again.  There was nothing else for it but to get stuck in a second time.

The second round went a bit better.  The boss seemed to focus on removing any debuffs I put on it before draining my power, so I tried to keep those going.  It helped some, but I was soon back to potions, and my supply was diminishing.  I was down to a dozen before the right was over.

The final boss looks a bit like Larry Storch from this angle…

It was still a slog, and added together both fights ran over an hour.

I don’t want to seem like I am complaining about this not being easy.  It is more a matter of it being long and frustrating.  In a lot of those boss fights I would have gladly doubled the bosses hit points if I could have spent less time standing around unable to do anything.  There were a few fights, like this final one, where being unable to act, essentially losing control over your character, made up much of the encounter, and I just don’t find that fun.

But I won in the end.  The boss went down, I collected the magic dingus, and was able to get out and back to The Duality to carry on with what was the easy part.  I basically met with him in his instance, then again at a set of the travel spires, where like the cable guy, he hooked me up by adding the Luclin channel to my lineup.

Waiting for him to get me connected

Now whenever I go to the spires, I get the option to go to the moon.

Luclin on the map

And it was a crowded moon, as there were two instances of it running.  I chose the second instance and went through.  One small step for me and all that.

Once I turned in the quest though I jumped from level 110 to 113.  That seemed odd.  I mean, if you’re going to add ten levels to the game it feels like a bit of a waste to give away three the moment you show up.  Trust me to complain about everything I guess.  I won’t give the level back now that I have them.  And I have to check if I have to go through this with every character or if I have unlocked spire access to Luclin account wide.

But for now Sigwerd was on Luclin at last.  I made it to the moon.  A strange new landscape awaits me.

Well, not so strange when compared to some of Norrath

My experience getting to the moon was different from some others.

  • Inventory Full – Bhagpuss had done the quest so went straight there
  • GamingSF – Telwyn starts on the other path to Luclin