Monthly Archives: May 2021

May in Review

The Site

Activity-wise, it was kind of an odd month.  Page views were falling at the end of April and that led to a very weak showing at the beginning of the month.  And then the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch hit and suddenly daily traffic doubled.  You can see from the most viewed posts list that people were interested in things that might help them level up their brand new Draenei or Blood Elf characters.

I also managed to continue on with the post a day record.  That doesn’t seem like a big deal… I this will be post 43 for the month of May… and it probably isn’t, but the way things work out I often end up with a week of multiple posts per day due to timeliness of a topic, then get to the weekend with nothing to hand.  Still, I made it.

The streak continues

I guess my goal now is 500 days in a row, which should happen before the fifteen year anniversary of the blog.  Go me.

One Year Ago

As Blapril came to an end I did a post about my top five most viewed posts over various points during the life of the blog.  After that there was the usual summing up of the event.  I also joined in and did my gamer profile again and did that “have you ever” quiz thing.

Daybreak was changing up the plan for the Rizlona and Aradune progression servers they had planned for EverQuest.  They launched, but not without the usual issues and overcrowding.  They also finally merged the Fippy Darkpaw server into the Vox server after its nine year run as a progression server.

Blizzard revenue and margins were starting to look up and we were getting hints of a Diablo II remaster.  However, BlizzCon 2020 was not going to happen.

The instance group made its first run into Zul’Farrak.

I went out and explored a bit in our old Minecraft world and we started tinkering around in a new world.

CCP was celebrating 17 years of EVE Online.  They also gave us PLEX trading in the companion app for… reasons.  We got the candidate list for the CSM15 election and the Forsaken Fortress update that made Upwell structures easier to kill.  Then there was the MER which showed mineral prices starting the rise and ratting numbers starting to fall.

I correctly predicted Burn Jita was unlikely to happen.  I also was looking to earn some ISK.

Out in space were up north defending structures in a couple places.  That led to the GEF moving to Cloud Ring for some action for fights.  We even got to fight in Notoras, the best system in low sec.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was announced, which sounded great.  It was later delayed.  There was also a promise of more Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn.

The regional groups forming in the US in response to the pandemic were starting to look like some post-US strategic game.

Five Years Ago

Overwatch went live.  Still haven’t played it.

DUST 514 went offline.  Never did play it.

Landmark’s official launch date was announced.  Never did buy it.

There was word about Pokemon Sun & MoonCivilization VIEverQuest II prestige servers, the tribulations of WildStar, and the WoW Legion Beta, all in one bullet points post.

One thing I did end up playing was Stellaris, which launched back in 2016 as well.

In EVE Online I saw my first citadel.  Now they’re everywhere.  There was also a free weekend on Steam that got a lot of accounts created, but which still faced the wall of the new player experience.  There was a Blog Banter about Project Nova and that brief experiment with recurring opportunities that granted skill points. There were also details from the CSMXI election and that whole 85% thing, which did not add up for me.

In space the Casino War was still a thing.  We were huddled up in the back room of the Quafe Warehouse in Saranen plotting ways to strike back and keep the war going.  We threw industrials at sovereignty.  That got us a foothold back in Fade for a bit.

Mostly though it was battles in low sec.  Asher led us out to battle in his Phantasm, we squared off against capitals, blew up some fax machines.  There were battles over structures in Saranen and we managed to anchor an Astrahus to face the citadels arrayed against us.  Lots of shooting, but not much changed.

Oh, and SynCaine joined KarmaFleet.  I even saw him on an op.

Outside of New Eden Blizzard could only talk about MAUs after renouncing discussion of subscription numbers.  Given the whole Nostalrius situation I was wondering what Vanilla WoW really was.  And the Warcraft movie was approaching.

In Minecraft I was planning a rail line and finding a path for it to run.  Aaron’s project of the month was a facility in the nether to make the collection of Ghast tears easier.

I was also momentarily nostalgic for Starsiege: Tribes… or for what I could remember of it.

And in TorilMUD the elves were no longer restricted to the isle of Evermeet until level 20.

Ten Years Ago

May 2011 was the time of the great Sony outage, with the PlayStation Network down for 24 days and Sony Online Entertainment down for 13 days.  It was a communication fiasco from start to finish, with bad updates almost daily.  About all they could do was promise us all goodies for when they finally came back up.

CCP was starting the build up to the Incarna fiasco with the introduction of Aurum.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, there was agitation to vote NO on unlocking the Kunark expansion.  Such agitation shows up with every unlock vote.  But no vote failed until Gates of Discord came along.

The instance group was in EverQuest II… when it was up… and trying to get the hell out of the starter area.  We managed it, but it took a lot more time than I would have thought.  We started in on some dungeons and got ourselves a guild hall.

World of Warcraft subscriptions started to decline, down to 11.4 million (those were the days!) while Trion started offering free server transfers in Rift.

My daughter was asking me about Dungeons & Dragons.  There was a thread going around about making better MMO players.  There were clearly some bad players about.

And finally, as hot as things seemed to be around here, there was no rapture.  You just couldn’t buy a break that month.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft lead designer Rob Pardo was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2006.

The Wii “steals the show” when it comes to the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.  Despite a drop in attendees, there are long lines to try out Nintendo’s new console.  This was the last E3 before the “new format” of 2007 and 2008.

The ESRB changed the rating for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from “Teen” to “Mature” in part due to topless female art assets in the game that could be accessed by mods.  Former California Assemblyman Leland Yee (later Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate number 19629-111) took time out of his organized crime activities to slam the ESRB for missing these hidden art assets.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Robbing Some Space Banks
  3. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  4. Bloodmyst Isle – The Worst Zone in WoW
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  7. Mischief is Coming to EverQuest
  8. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  9. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  10. CCP Changes to Nullification and Warp Core Stabilizers hit the Test Server
  11. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  12. How Long can the Fifteen Dollar Subscription Hold Out?

Search Terms of the Month (Yandex Edition!)

летящие буквы как в звездных войнах фш
[Not sure, you mean like this?]

как украсить стену дома в майнкрафте
[Paintings?]

подводный риф 3.3.5 на карте
[Warm oceans are work to find]

схема Аннуминас kjnh
[I like Annuminas]

особняк майнкрафт данж
[I have a couple of posts about that]

забытый город камень встреч
[The Lost City of the Tol’vir?]

ферма призмарина майнкрафт
[Aaron made a whole farm for that]

cat is 4 fite
[Dude, speak English]

Game Time from ManicTime

May saw us hit the end of our hype cycle with Valheim.  I logged in and did a bit of exploring.  But focus clearly turned to WoW Classic and getting ready for the coming of The Burning Crusade expansion.

  1. WoW Classic – 63.39%
  2. EVE Online – 29.64%
  3. Burning Crusade Classic Beta – 2.90%
  4. Valheim – 2.22%
  5. World of Warcraft – 1.19%
  6. War in the Pacific – 0.66%

EVE Online

The war carried on into its eleventh month, with forces stalemated at the Imperium capitol constellation.  The enemy can still bring double our numbers if they ping for operations in advance, but haven’t been able to break into our home.  We, on the other hand, are somewhat limited by how far we can reach from that constellation.  TEST miners and ratters in Delve get dropped on regularly in their new home, but operations beyond that require groups to find bases far off, which takes them out of the Delve fights.

Pokemon Go

I set a new personal record for the longest time defending a single gym, managing 19 days, 1 hour, and 24 minutes.  We drove up to Portland to drive our daughter home from her first year at college and I got into a gym on campus… and then nobody kicked the defenders out for almost three weeks.  Other than that we managed to do all the events in May, which meant fighting a lot of Team Rocket grunts and leaders.

Level: 41 (38% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 643 (+10) caught, 673 (+11) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: Still need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Eevee

Valheim

We still have another boss to slay, but that wouldn’t buy us anything, so our efforts have tapered off.  The small team that made the game can only manage a monthly patch for bug fixes while serious updates still seem far away.  I have no doubt we will return, and I do log in to do a bit of base building now and then, but our goals have pretty much been completed.

War in the Pacific

I put some more effort into this, grabbing a more focused scenario about the 1942 Burma campaign to see if that would get me up to speed more quickly.  It is hard to tell what I am doing still however.

World of Warcraft

As usual, not much time spent in the retail side of Azeroth.  I did Darkmoon Faire on my main, then actually did a few pet battles during the week that they had the xp bonus, getting a few more battle pets up to level 25.

WoW Classic

May was prep for Burning Crusade Classic.  Three characters to level 60 now, new specs explored, and some work on a fourth character who managed to go from 36 to 45 over the last week or so.  Plus I spent a bit of time in the beta.   Basically all eyes on Outland and the changes that come with it.

Coming up

Tomorrow at 3pm my time we transition into Outland as Burning Crusade Classic opens the Dark Portal.  Expect a report on that I suppose.

In EVE Online the war carries on, heading towards its one-year anniversary.  PAPI, the blue donut coalition, will continue to camp us in the south with their numbers advantage while also rolling over any small groups in the north to expand their own ratting and mining empires, basically doing what they allege the Imperium did.

Meanwhile, CCP has the CSM16 elections coming up on June 8th and their cloaky camper fix is likely to hit us suddenly next month as well, if recent company behavior is any indicator.

And… I am sure other things are coming up in June, but the war and the Dark Portal are both immediate and of interest to me.

Memorial Day 2021

Attack

By Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glow’ring sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to, meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl Coming November 2021

We heard back in February that the next Pokemon title for the Switch would be remakes of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, something my daughter and I had been waiting for.  As a follow on, we have now been given a date for the launch of the remake.

Sinnoh is returning

The launch date for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is November 19, 2021.

The Nintendo site has an updated descriptions of how they plan to recreate the original Nintendo DS experience and what to expect.

In addition, the other upcoming Pokemon title, Pokemon Legends: Arceus also got a launch date this past week.  We will be able to experience this “bold new direction” for the Pokemon series come January 28, 2022.

So we have some old and new Pokemon experiences coming up.  I am definitely up for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl, though I hope the release doesn’t overlap too closely with Diablo II: Resurrected.  While we don’t have a firm date for the Diablo II remake, it was said that it would be available near the end of 2021, and no studio wants to launch after Christmas, so November seems a likely time for it as well.  We shall see.

Dire Maul Warm Up before Burning Crusade Classic

With the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch on us, it was time to go figure out how to play our characters with the changes to our specs.  That seems to suggest an easier dungeon, something we had run before, so we wouldn’t be getting used to a new rotation while learning new fights.

My suggestion was Dire Maul East.  We had done it before, even doing a three person exploration the week before the patch.  We could get in, get the update for Ula’s spell, get a couple of quest updates for my pally, including one with a serious shield upgrade, all while getting into the swing of things.

I got on first last weekend and got myself out to Feathermoon to pick up an additional quests that might be laying about, noticing the elven ship model had replaced the old standard model ship on the run off the Feralas coast.

Skronk got on next and headed out the same way, followed by Moronae.  We all moved on over to Dire Maul to meet up at the summoning stone.  On the long list of things that changed with the pre-patch, the summoning stones are now that rather than being just meeting stones.  Ula was running late, but once she was online we would be able to bring her to us as you can summon party members so long as you can get three people to summon.

Doing a practice summon, just to remember how to even do that

Coincidentally, with the release of the patch a post I wrote back in 2011 that included mention of the Dire Maul summoning stone has suddenly become popular again.  Now that it can summon, people want to use it I guess.  So, just as a reminder:

Dire Maul Summoning Stone Pictured

Approximate location on the map

When Ula did get on and I told her the plan, we found out that with the pre-patch her final conjured water recipe no longer needed a quest, she was able to just get the skill from her class trainer.

Still, since we were already set up and because the run would net the tank a nice new shield, we opted to go forward with the plan.  Our group was:

  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin
  • Moronae – level 60 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 60 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 60 dwarf priest

And once we got ourselves together outside of Dire Maul we pushed on to the eastern entrance.

Everybody is here

Another change with the pre-patch is that most, if not all, of the formerly elite open world mobs appear to have been downgraded to normal mobs, so getting into the instance was pretty easy.

As we started up I will say that I was pretty happy with the changes the pre-patch brought to the protection paladin lineup.  I probably wasted some gold re-speccing before the patch, but at least I got a feel for the before/after.

Righteous Defense, a direct taunt that grabs up to three mobs was a good start, and then Avenger’s Shield, a ranged attack for pulling, made me pretty happy as well.  The shield does hit three mobs, so it isn’t as precise as Viniki’s gun, but it is still better than having to run up and shake hands with every mob in order to pull.

Once inside I was able to get going, with consecrate, holy shield, and retribution aura able to hold groups of non-elite mobs on me even as Ula and Moronae did their AOE attacks to burn them down, a noticeable improvement over my experience with Viniki.

We did get into a bit of trouble early on when, being a bit complacent about aggro radius, we managed to get two single mobs, a threesome, and a pack of non-elites all on us at once.  Even being a bit over level, that came apart… sort of.  I went down, then Skronk did when he inherited the aggro from healing.

Our group in the corner of the first area getting beat down

You can see Ula running for the exit on the right.  Once dead I actually remembered that Moronae had a combat ress, and called for him to use it.  The first thought was to put it on Skronk, but then I called for it to hit the pally as I still had lay hands and a few other tricks that I had forgotten about in the flash of action.  And, of course, I could also ress once we were done.

Once I was back up, Moronae and I finished off the remaining mobs… we had actually killed most of them as the group before the wheels came off… then I ressed Skronk then found Ula, who hadn’t quite made it to he zone line and ressed her.

That was the big dramatic event of the run, and it wasn’t even a wipe.  Moronae lived and his combat ress got us back on track.

After that we were a little more careful about aggro radius and, thus, had few issues.  We managed to do Pusillin in one round, a fight we managed to wipe on both times we did it previously.  Paladin fire resist aura helped out there.

We made it back and around through the satyrs, collecting a few felcloth along the way, past the next few bosses, and into Ironbark’s room in the conservatory.

Just within our draw distance

Thanks to our last run here, we had gotten a feel for getting through the room without having to take on every single group.  You just have to time your advance between the roaming groups.

Ironbark broke down the door for us and cleared the way to the final boss.  There we had another fight where consecrate, holy shield, and retribution aura kept the adds on me.

Lighting up the group with damage

That got us through the instance.  We posed for a victory shot, then I collected my quest item and Ula opened a portal to Darnassus so I could fly from there to Moonglade to turn in the quest.

Done with Dire Maul East again

That got done quickly enough that we decided to go do one of the pre-patch events.  You can see Ula and I are wearing tabards.  Those come from a quest out at the Blasted Lands at the Dark Portal.  All you have to do is kill six invading fel reavers and that is the reward.  So we went out and did that and got one more screen shot with us all in matching tabards, like we are in a guild or something.

Before the Dark Portal

Overall, three of us seemed good with our classes post-patch.  Moronae though, he was feeling like feral druids had taken a hit.  He may revert to form and boost a warlock to swap out into the group for next time.  We’ll lose a combat ress but gain soul stones along with some other options.

Coming to Grips with the Burning Crusade Pre-Patch

I am going to remind everybody up front about the general stink eye that I have given The Burning Crusade over the years.  When I rank expansions I tend to put TBC down in maybe third or fourth place, behind Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria, and even Legion if I am in a mood.  Even when I try for some objective measures, it ranks down the list.

There are a few reasons for that.  I didn’t really start playing WoW seriously until the instance group formed up in September of 2006 and by the time TBC launched we were still in the middle doing instances at around level 40, so it was just around and a thing for much of our time doing dungeons in old Azeroth.  It was also a time when I was a lot less focused on a single game relative to today… I think I could juggle four MMOs back then, now I max out at two… and I was not very invested in the WoW lore.  I mean, I am not all that invested now, but I am at least not asking, “Thrall who?”

With the pre-patch, which seems to be running pretty smoothly despite Massively OP calling it a “mess” repeatedly, TBC is my current favorite WoW expansion… which is saying something since we can’t actually go through the dark portal until next week.

Through the Dark Portal

In that sort of twist of irony that time tends to bring vanilla WoW, viewed back in 2004 as the “easy mode” MMORPG, all cartoony and colorful and not very serious because you could solo any class to the level cap to a point where that very same play style in 2021 feels a bit like walking five miles to school in the snow uphill in both directions.  Compare and contrast WoW Classic and Shadowlands and what it takes to get to the level cap… a level cap that is 60 for both of them, welcome to 2021… and you feel like you could do the latter over a long weekend.  I think I did, in fact, run a demon hunter up to at least level 50 in a time easily measured in hours rather than days.

And into that contrast of experiences, the TBC update brings relief on that snowy, uphill walk to and from school in a myriad of ways I am still coming to grips with.

There was a bit of an easing of the level curve to start with, though that almost caused me a bit of frustration.  I was keen to get in with the pre-patch with my pally and get him up to level 60, having found a pile of quests I had totally missed in one corner of the eastern plaguelands.  And then I got in and was at the level cap before I knew it with my hunger to play as yet unsated.  And  all the more so because with the new paladin talent tree introduced with the patch, he was actually useful.  He has a ranged attack when wearing a shield!  And he didn’t even have to spec up the holy tree to get consecrate.  But he was all leveled up now.

So I dragged out my druid Alioto, whom I had mostly given up on.  He was lingering around having just made it to level 36, the start of the great vanilla dead spot for questing.  But the new patch brought a free re-spec, so I dropped his resto plan… he was slated to be a backup healer in case Earl came back and the mix of the group needed to change, an opportunity that has long since expired… and went feral with him.

He was over in Theremore for a quest and I realized that the place had changed.  There were a bunch of new quests there, which I would see on the mini-map because quest givers now appear there with exclamation points, including a few of my old favorites.

Quests no longer hidden away

When I think of Theremore, I think of the deserters, whose lines Skronk and I will quote now and again.

It is good to see you defending Theremore with pride, friend!

They are discredited by a disinformation campaign worthy of… well, modern politics I suppose, ascribing bizarre beliefs to your opponents in order to undermine their credibility.

Clearly what the deserters are pressing for

Always a laugh, suppressing dissent.  But there is a whole pack of new quests in and around Theremore to fill in the gap for my druid, who has since made it to level 41.  Part of that was a full ration of blue bar being available, but having a decent selection of quests has helped as well.

And I keep stumbling over little things that have been updated.  The strange aspect of this is that the pre-patch delivered a whole bunch of items that were previously meted out in individual patches over time, so we ended up getting one giant birthday present of changes.  I keep finding things that are different… and often better.

It is at a state where I am sure that some people are going to start complaining that this or that quality of life change was the start of the downfall of the game, but I’ve been happy enough, or at least able to adapt, so far.

And it is clear that other people are getting into the swing of things.  While there haven’t been any login queues on the Bloodsail Buccaneers server, others have started to see that.  My own measure for server population is the auction house, and how many pages of auction the Auctioneer addon reports.  (Nobody from the Auctioneer team got an invite to the BCC beta, so were behind in updating, though you can find a beta version that works if you Google.)

Before the pre-patch I was seeing 220-250 pages of auctions depending on the day.  Since the patch I have see the count exceed 700 pages on the weekend and well into the 600s on weekdays.  That indicates a substantial boost in activity in my book.

I’ve also seen a host of Draenei.  I was pretty impressed when I saw a level 58 Draenei shaman last Friday, but I have seen a few level 60s since then.

And then there are the special mounts, which you get with the deluxe edition which I mentioned when the patch went live.  I always expect to see anything like that hanging out by the bank in Stormwind, somebody showing off their shiny new toy.  But I have been seeing a bunch of those mounts just out and about.

Another one out near Mirage Raceway

Blizzard is apparently selling more than a few $70 deluxe editions.  I guess it is only $30 more than the level 58 boost… and you get a mount on classic and another on retail… but still.

It is all feeling like the jump to The Burning Crusade content is going to be a big deal for Blizz.

Addendum: Blizz has put up a “the story so far” post about the lore of the expansion

Reflections on the WoW Classic Experience

I want to say, up front, that the whole WoW Classic experience has been great.

Classic is as classic does

I think we got about the most authentic, full server, vanilla experience that Blizzard could realistically have been expected to put together.  Launch night remains a crazy amazing experience to me even now.

There is a line! Maybe they have toilet paper!

My play time in ManicTime shows that I played more WoW Classic from its launch until now, than any other game.  EVE Online isn’t far behind and, somewhat surprising to me, retail WoW isn’t that far out of the running, falling in third place, but vanilla Azeroth clearly kept me invested.  That “all I want to do is play WoW Classic” feeling I was having while impatiently waiting for its launch was not a false sentiment.

Spending the last twenty months or so playing has been a lot of fun.  I got to revisit a lot of things I remembered and was reminded of many more things I had forgotten.

And, in just 21 months, I managed to get three characters to level cap.  That doesn’t sound like a huge achievement, but it was certainly better than I did back in original WoW.

It was interesting to compare advancement rates with my group character, Viniki, and my (mostly) solo characters, Wilhelm and Tistann.

Leveling up with a group that will run instances with you makes the level curve pretty smooth.  A few places we had to go out and do some remedial leveling work, but for much of it we could go from instance to instance.

Solo though… the infamous level 40+ flat spot in quests and leveling was real.

Of course, some of that has to do with how vanilla handled quests.  The idea of a quest hub had clearly not jelled the way it would in Outland.  Blizzard was quite optimistic in places assuming that people would find quest givers in a back room or off on the edge of camp or way off on their own.  And the number of quests that need you to slay the right mob at the right level to get the right drop to start a quest… well, I will say that my solo characters had very different experiences leveling up.

Seriously, while a lot of core quests were obviously the same, I somehow ended up not getting identical drops or pops or whatever.  And that doesn’t even take into account how differently my two main solo characters, a paladin and a hunter, play over all.

The hunter is still the master stroke class, complicated and easy, a strange mix of being able to get away with a ton of things with a pet and traps yet being hobbled by that ammo bag, pet skills, and the need to keep the pet fed.  It is a complex system that I doubt any major studio would commit to in an MMORPG again.

As for the paladin in vanilla… well, no major studio should do that again.  I was never as happy playing him solo as when I went into an area with demons and undead.  At last I could use my ranged attack.

As for my group character, I have said this before, but it bears repeating; Blizzard clearly had no single plan for instances.  The designs were all over the map.  There were very linear runs where you would finish the whole thing in one run, slaying several bosses along the way.  And then there were instances that they clearly expected you to spend time with, making multiple runs.

We went to Blackrock Depths a dozen times before we had finished every quest we had related to the instance and had defeated the final boss.  That was an epic series of runs, and all the more so doing it as a group of four.  No instance like that waits for us in any of the later content.

That said, I think our group is about done with the full on WoW Classic thing now.  It was fun.  I am glad we went back and ran as many of the instances as we did as well as having a chance to do the solo route with a couple of characters.  There are still some thing to wrap up, but I don’t think there is much left within our capabilities to explore that would change my feelings on the whole thing.

I’m good with moving on to Burning Crusade Classic, but I am also glad Blizz is keeping around some WoW Classic servers for those who want to experience it and just in case I want to go back and live it again.  (Though I do think they’ll need to do some fresh launch servers at some future date.  But, with Blizz, they can probably afford to hold off for five years or so just to let the nostalgia pressure build up into another big event.)

When the update hit last week I moved all of my key characters forward into the new patch.  We still have instances to run in old Azeroth, but the road forward towards Outland is the one we will be taking.

EverQuest Launches the Mischief and Thornblade Servers

The EverQuest team successfully launched two new special servers, Mischief and Thornblade.

Arrived on time

Originally just the Mischief server was announced back in April, but the team apparently decided that this new server would be popular enough that they would forgo the usual launch day crowd and queue problems and just launch two servers.  And so the Thornblade server joined the mix.

Both servers are up and live

I will be curious to see if there is enough interest to justify doubling up on these servers.

Both servers are “random loot” progression servers which, as I mentioned in the previous post, means that loot from rare and raid mobs in the same expansion all share the same loot table.  So your Lady Vox raid can get loot from any other raid boss of similar level from the initial content.

As an upside, rare mobs are supposed to spawn more frequently, so your ability to test the random loot theory outside of set piece raids is greater.

According to progression server FAQ, which has been updated to include the new servers, Mischief and Thorneblade will unlock new expansions every twelve weeks, though the post announcing the new servers contradicts that, with the following information I previously reported being reiterated:

  • EXP: Mangler EXP Progression
  • Pick Zones Enabled
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Truebox Enabled
  • Free Trade Enabled
  • Random Loot Enabled
    • The Mischief server is a new experimental server that randomizes loot.
    • Rare NPCs will drop loot from other NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • Raids will drop loot from other raid NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • We may add other special case randomization.
    • Rare NPCs have a greater chance of spawning
  • Unlock Cadence:
    • Expansions:
      • 1 month Classic
      • 2 month Kunark
    • 2/3 month regular release cadence
      • 2 months for no level increase
      • 3 months for level increase
    • Exception: LDoN will only be one month

The exp setting put this server as faster than classic, but slower than current live servers.

“Pick Zones” indicates that multiple versions of the same zone can be active to alleviate crowding.  You can pick which instance of the zone you want to play in.

“Agents of Change” allow players to spawn a raid instance for their group, though there is an exp penalty to keep groups from just spawning them to have their own camp.  You get a full spawn of all mobs in the zone, but no respawns.  Rare mobs have a chance to spawn, but are not guaranteed.  Somebody did a video about them if you want a deeper look into this feature.

“True Box” means you are only allowed to have a single client running the game per machine when you play on the server.  No full group multi-boxing allowed.  If you want there, there is a different server for you.  And “Free Trade” means nothing is bind on pick up, you can sell or trade any loot you get.

As this is launch day, when the servers are the most crowded, the team also published a FAQ about the server login queue, which isn’t quite as user friendly as the ones you find in newer games, as it was something added later on to accommodate such launches.  The queue kind of depends on your trust in it, because the time estimates are approximations and or you are not told your position in the queue.  You could be next and you would never know it.

Still, it is better than the old days when the server just told you “tough luck, try again later!”

And, as with all special servers, you must be a Daybreak All Access subscriber to play on them.  There is no free to play option.

In addition, Daybreak is offering two special packs as part of the server launch.

There is always an up sell

Roguish Rapscallion Pack

  • Roguish Rucksack – One 40-slot 100% weight reduction bag claimable on any server! (Lore)
  • Bottle of Adventure II (x3) – A bundle of three 25% experience potions usable on any server.

Successful Shenanigans Bundle

  • Everything in the Roguish Rapscallion Pack, plus:
  • Shenanigan Satchel – One 40-slot 100% weight reduction bag
  • Bottle of Adventure II (x5) – A bundle of five 25% experience potions usable on any server.
  • Token of Challenged Resurrection (x5) – A bundle of five 85% experience resurrection tokens.
  • Bottle of Clarity Pack – One mana regeneration potion appropriate to your level.
  • Bottle of Alacrity Pack – One melee haste potion appropriate to your level.
  • Potion of Speed – One movement haste potion.

You can apparently only purchase each pack once per account, but you can purchase both, which will let you claim the bag on two characters.  These are not “get one on every character” promotions.

No BlizzCon for 2021

Blizzard announced today that they will not be hosting the annual BlizzCon event again this year.  Instead they will have another BlizzConline with additional events early in 2022.

BlizzCon in Blue

As with last year, uncertainty around the pandemic at the long lead time for planning such an event has been given as the reasons for not holding the huge, in person affair.  I suspect the cost of such an event and the relative success of the online (and completely free) BlizzConline back in February also played into this decision.

Personally, I am fine with the online only event, especially since all the panels were just put up on YouTube to be viewed at your leisure, but I know that many, both fans and people at Blizzard, enjoy the big get together at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Speaking before thousands of cheering fans… and being in that crowd… is not something that can be reproduced with an online experience.

The message from Blizzard:

Greetings Blizzard community,

I hope you’re all staying safe and well. As guidelines in California around in-person gatherings continue to evolve and the status of the pandemic fluctuates around the globe, the teams across Blizzard have been discussing what this means for one of the events we miss the most: BlizzCon. We know some of you might be wondering about your own plans to potentially cross the country—not to mention oceans—and meet your friends, family, and fellow community members in California, so today, we wanted to give you a heads-up that we’ve decided we will not be holding BlizzCon this year.

Building an in-person BlizzCon is an epic and complex affair that takes many months of preparation—not just for us, but also for the many talented production partners, esports pros, hosts, entertainers, artists, and other collaborators we team up with locally and globally to put all of the pieces together. The ongoing complexities and uncertainties of the pandemic have impacted our ability to properly move forward on many of these fronts, and ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November.

But we don’t want to let too long go by before we connect with everyone again. So in the meantime, we’re planning a global event for the early part of next year, combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.

We very much look forward to celebrating with you all again. Until then, we’ll see you in Azeroth, Outland, Sanctuary, and all the other worlds we call home.

–Saralyn Smith, Executive Producer of BlizzCon

PAPI Battleship Failure in 3-DMQT

The pattern of operations has hit something of a predictable routine.  With the vulnerability windows of the O-EIMK constellation set to USTZ and the ADMs at or close to maximum, both sides start to ping for people around 00:00 UTC and, if a battle is going to happen, it happens in the next couple of hours.  There has been, for several nights running, an Azbel coming out of deployment to fight over, and last night was no exception.

Yesterday PAPI did a surprise change and formed up in China/AU time to drop another pair of Azbesl, one with a name about the “3-D invasion starts now” but trading about even with our defense even though they had almost double the numbers according to the battle report.

As a follow up they came back again last night to defend and older Azbel that was set to try and anchor.  The ping for an Eagle fleet went up first at our end and I once again joined in an Eagle and a Scythe logi on my alt.  We got into 3-DMQT and, as PAPI assembled, got ourselves positioned around the gate.  A second fleet of Munnins was called up, and carriers were arrayed on the Fortizar near the gate, their fighters off a ways from us.

Then the word came that PAPI was undocking.  Abaddons would be coming our way, a new doctrine for them, along with Munnins of their own, as well as Harpies, their doctrine for taking our our carrier fighters.

We sat on the gate and waited, then there was a gate flash and local started rising and it was clear they were coming through.  Some unfortunate Abaddon pilot decloaked from the gate jump early and was promptly devoured by our Eagles.

Then they started all decloaking and things settled into a brawl on the gate, with the Eagles shooting Abaddons and their logi while PAPI focused largely on our own logi.  I have few decent screen shots from the fight because I had turned down my graphic settings and, with that change, the mass of bubbles around the gate became largely opaque.  I mostly stayed zoomed out to avoid the bright screen white-out of being in the bubbles.

My view of most of the battle

We lost a lot of our logi, though the Eagles run with cheap T1 cruiser logi, so they were easily replaced.  My own Scythe managed to survive largely because I got focused on my Eagle and keeping an Abaddon scrammed, so when our logi anchor went down my alt flew off in a straight line away from the fight.

There he got ECM’d by a couple of PAPI Kitsunes, which meant he couldn’t lock up and rep anybody anyway.  But, with the ECM nerf from a couple of years back you can always lock the ship hitting you with ECM, so I dropped the combat drones I had brought along and put them on one Kitsune, then another.  Somebody else came along and finished them off, but my alt got on both the kill mails.  His fighters, left on their own, also found a PAPI Eagle to attack later on.

In the brawl I managed to avoid being the primary and kept on locking and firing.  Then the word came that things were going so badly for PAPI that they were attempting to de-aggress and get back through the gate, the fight never having really moved off to the Azbel, the ostensible reason for the fight.

With that word coming down, the focus at our end was to blow as many ships up as we could before we they got away.  HAW dreads were jumped into the melee on the gate, adding to the faxes we already had with us for support.

Final frenzy at the gate

And then the last few targets were gone and we had the field to ourselves.  The battle report showed that their plan with the Abaddons did not turn out the way that they had hoped.

As we waited for the vulnerability timers to run down for the system, the point at which operations generally each evening, we helped the faxes and dreads out of the gate bubbles by bumping them to speed them up.

Things went very much our way.

Battle Report Header

150 billion ISK isn’t a very large battle for this war, though at any other time it might have been noteworthy.

According to the details at the EVE Fleet Manager battle report, PAPI lost 98 of the 119 battleships that were engaged, all of which are more expensive to manufacture now due to the industry changes, along with 307 assault frigates, their anti-fighter Harpy fleet, and a good 30 heavy assault cruisers and 42 logi.  My killboard has three expensive Bhaalgorns on the list of hostiles I hit.

Our biggest loss was 70 heavy assault cruisers, largely from the Eagle fleet I was in, and 57 light fighters.  Oddly, none of the anchored bubbles on the gate died.

And so another day defending our last constellation passes by with us winning the objective, killing the Azbel and keeping PAPI from any other mischief, as well as with us winning the ISK war.  A good day for us.

Related:

The April EVE Online Monthly Economic Report and the Initial Impact of the Industry Changes

CCP got us the April Monthly Economic Report on Friday evening their time, and it looked like a bit of a rush job.  The news page initially had some of the March MER graphs on it and a couple of the charts in the download data look to be from March as well.  Still, as always, we soldier on with what we’re given. [Edit: They updated some of the data in a new .zip file since I wrote that.]

EVE Online nerds harder

Production

The big industry changes hit at towards the end of April, with a bit of a heads up from CCP, and industrialists all over rushed to get in some final battleship or capital builds before it hit, as the production/destruction/mining chart clearly shows.

April 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

The red line on that chart is production, and you can see it spiking up there as the day approaches, then dropping off sharply as the month turns to May.  As usual for this chart, we get the data up to the date they run the report, which was May 16th this time.  It is also a 30 day moving average, so it will likely bleed off some more when we see the next MER.  Dunk Dinkle of Brave asked on r/eve if anybody was pursuing capital building after the patch and, while there were only a few responses, most seemed to be in the negative.

Still, that rush in mid April pushed the production numbers up, hitting 168.4 trillion ISK in value, up from 127 trillion in March and 104.6 trillion ISK in February.

The top regions for production in April were:

  1. The Forge – 30.51 trillion
  2. Delve – 16.2 trillion
  3. Vale of the Silent – 9.06 trillion
  4. Lonetrek – 8.92 trillion
  5. The Citadel – 8.38 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 6.5 trillion
  7. Domain – 6.02 trillion
  8. Fade – 5.31 trillion
  9. Malpais – 4.65 trillion
  10. Querious – 4.17 trillion

The Forge was up by about a trillion ISK, but Delve jumped by almost 7 trillion ISK as people got those last capitals into build.  Likewise, Vale of the Silent, Fraternity’s new home, was up by a good 4 trillion ISK.  The last two days before the patch saw 5 trillion ISK in production, tapering off as builds submitted before the patch delivered and were not replace, with production continuing to fall into May, with the last date in the data set just 2.1 trillion ISK in production overall.

Mining

The rush to get things produced helped mineral prices continue their unprecedented climb as they hit yet another all time high on CCP’s mineral price index chart.

April 2021 – Economic Indices

Even the other indices, weighed down by the inclusion of things like skill injectors, started to rise a bit with this recent surge.

With the boom in production over it will be interesting to see if that causes an easing in mineral prices as demand subsides.

As for where mining happened, the following were the top ten regions:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.82 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Metropolis – 1.51 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.4 trillion
  4. Domain – 1.17 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.09 trillion
  6. Lonetrek – 939 billion
  7. Everyshore – 835 billion
  8. The Citadel – 695 billion
  9. Heimatar – 680 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 666 billion

Once again mining was heavily weighted towards high security space save for the Vale of the Silent region, where Fraternity now operates, which came close to harvesting more ore than the next too regions combined.   A total of 27.15 trillion ISK in ore was mined by CCP’s measure, which put the month about 2.5 trillion ISK over the March output.

Trade

The top ten regions for trade value were:

  1. The Forge – 439 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 59.16 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Sinq Laison – 19.31 trillion (Dodixie)
  4. Delve – 18.11 trillion (Imperium/PAPI)
  5. Lonetrek – 14.88 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 10.64 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 10.3 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Citadel – 5.26 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  9. Essence – 5.03 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  10. Vale of the Silent – 3.82 trillion (PandaFam)

Jita remained dominant, though was down more than 30 trillion ISK when compared to March.

Overall trade was down from 670.58 trillion ISK value in March to 625.98 trillion ISK in value in April.

ISK Faucets

I used to call this section NPC Bounties because that was, by far, the biggest ISK faucet in the game.  And then CCP nerfed bounties and now commodities lead the pack, with those wormholers quietly making bank.  As expected, commodities rang in as the top ISK faucet in April.

April 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Looking at the line graph shows better how commodities compare with NPC bounties and the ESS payouts.

April 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

NPC bounties plus ESS is still in the neighborhood of commodities, though when you break out the commodities you can see who is reaping the benefit on that front.

April 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

Sleeper components, which are wormhole NPC drops, make up the largest slice of the pie by far.  Given the relative populations of null sec and wormhole space, there are some crazy ISK earning wormholers out there.

Meanwhile, on the NPC bounties front, the total harvest was 27.2 trillion ISK, a pale shade of what it once was, with the top ten regions collecting:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.17 trillion
  2. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.09 trillion
  3. Tribute – 1.04 trillion
  4. Insmother – 1.01 trillion
  5. Tenal – 996 billion
  6. Pure Blind – 891 billion
  7. Malpais – 855 billion
  8. Branch – 837 billion
  9. Lonetrek – 833 billion
  10. Querious – 804 billion

Vale of the Silent and TKE are both PandaFam, along with Malpais, Branch, and some of Tenal.  So while World War Been carries on the southeast of New Eden, the northwest prospers.  Querious is Brave’s new home, so they are settling in and raising ADMs.  The odd region is Lonetrek, which is Caldari empire space.  Some serious mission running much have gone on to make the cut.

Destruction

Then there are things being blown up and, to nobody’s surprise, Delve continues to lead the list on that front.

  1. Delve – 3.39 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.91 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.82 trillion
  4. Heimatar – 1.66 trillion
  5. Lonetrek – 1.64 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.38 trillion
  7. Querious – 1.18 trillion
  8. Vale of the Silent – 1.14 trillion
  9. Catch – 1.07 trillion
  10. Domain – 957 billion

Overall destruction was down, ringing in at 35.12 trillion ISK destroyed in April, down from 42.68 trillion ISK in March.  Things seemed to blow up in most regions on that list, indicating both a bit of a lull in the war and a lack of activity in high sec, especially around Jita where destruction is generally at its highest in New Eden.

Finally, the MER included a graph indicating the peak player count for systems across New Eden in April.

April 2021 – Peak Concurrent Players

You have to click on that and view it full size to people able to pick out regions and systems, but you’ll be able to spot Jita and Amarr and a few other spots that are often busy.  But I want to zero in on the southeast of null sec.

Delve and Querious

You can tell there is a war on by how many systems are spiking up in Delve.  Not all of those were fights, and they didn’t all happen at the same time or even on the same day.  If you look at the zKill you will see PAPI dragging more than a thousand ships in to kill some Keepstars.  But some of those peaks represent fights.  If we get this chart again for May I expect that we’ll be able to pick out the 1DQ1-A constellation from the region.

Anyway, as always, all the charts and data… now corrected… are available for download on the Dev Blog.

Related:

TNG – The April 2021 Monthly Economic Report: Faucets And The Dynamic Bounty System