Tending to my Mercenaries and Mounts in Visions of Vetrovia

I posted last week about making it up to level 125, the new level cap, in the Visions of Vetrovia expansion for EverQuest II.

I did that with Sigwerd, my barbarian berserker, who is generally my main character in EQII, the first one I send into things and the one I do most things with.

A berserker is a plate wearing warrior and, while the class was ostensibly about DPS at one time, the lines between berserkers and guardians are not as firmly drawn as they once were.  A berserker can tank, and has some defensive skills, but not as well as a guardian, and a guardian can dish out damage, but not as well as a berserker.

With his plate armor and his mercenary in tow, Sigwerd did not have a much trouble climbing the five levels to the cap.

The mercenary is important.  I don’t think I am overstating the facts when I say that having a mercenary is pretty much required to solo the overland expansion content these days.  In fact, you need a mercenary, a mount, and a familiar, the latter two having stats that improve your abilities.  But we’ll get to that.

Sigwerd’s mercenary is a mystic, whose main role is heals, buffs, wards, and the occasional bit of damage.  He can also ress, which can be handy if things go wrong.  But things went well for the run to level cap, with Sig out front slaying and his mercenary, Nevis Yewkus, tagging along, keeping Sig healed and happy.

The run was a bit chaotic, as my first run through any EQII content tends to be.  I am half relearning how things work and where things are… this was probably the last fantasy MMORPG to launch before WoW set some standards that most titles have chosen to follow since… and trying to remember which combat skills cause the biggest numbers to flash on the screen.

Can’t add all that up in my head

In that run I somehow lost the thread of the adventure signature quest, but got to the level cap all the same.

Sigwerd also managed to get to the tradeskill level cap following the tradeskill signature quest line, though he hit the cap and stopped literally two quests before the end and its final big reward.  We’ll get to that later as well.

But, having made it once without running into any insurmountable roadblocks, I decided to send a second character through to the cap.

I chose Nehru, a templar, which is the classic plate wearing clerical healer class in EQII.   He is also a copy of my first EQII character, Nomu.  I copied him to the Freeport during the EverQuest II Extended era, the test run for free to play, when SOE was allowing you to make such copies for a pretty reasonable price.

He is essentially a branch from Nomu and, while he couldn’t bring all his bank and house contents to the new server (probably a blessing), he still has all the skills and reputation and whatever that I had earned on Nome.  When I put in /played I get my original character creation date.

More than 500 hours right there

That is proof of the 500 hours played from my post the other day, though some of that was because back at launch, in order to sell from your house, you had to be logged in.  So I would log him into the game in the morning then go to work, leaving him to sell all day.  That will inflate your play time a bit.

Anyway, he traveled out to the expansion, got him self all the gear out of the chest so that he was set to go, and headed out into the content so recently run by Sigwerd.

Nehru attired for the new zones

But out in the new content Nehru struggled and died a few times right off the bat.

Like Sigwerd, he has a mercenary, but his is a paladin.  The pally is supposed to hold aggro, heal itself now and then, throw a few buffs, and do a bit of DPS, but the main goal is to keep mobs off the caster.

Of course, part of that was remembering how to play another class with a different mercenary dynamic than the berserker.  I managed to get better with keeping the pally healed.  The target forwarding works well for that.  I just keep him targeted and he gets any heals I cast, but the DPS is passed along to the mob he has targeted.  It can be a bit annoying when he changes targets, but I gather than is to make sure he is holding aggro.  Still, I do end up in fights with six mobs and end up burning them all down in parallel rather than one by one.

That worked, though I was still spending a lot of time healing.  Fortunately, stat inflation has made mana pretty much inexhaustible at this point in the game’s life, but it still takes time to cast and that is time I’m not burning down mobs.

And then I took a look at my mercenary and was reminded that they have gear sets as well, and he was wearing whatever gear I had put on him back during Blood of Luclin.  The same was true for Sigwerd, but since he was geared up and tanking, it wasn’t nearly as noticeable.

Fortunately, I had a solution to hand.

Sigwerd’s tradeskill is armoring, which crafts both player and mercenary armor.  And, in a flash of sanity, the EQII team made all mercenaries wear the same type of armor, so it was easy to find which set to craft.  At least once I had the recipes.  But there is an NPC in town for that.  I bought all the basic books for the expansion, which were now unlocked for me, plus some books I had missed previously, padding out my total recipe list.  But the mercenary armor was easy to find.

Some of the 2,706 recipes Sig knows

So it was back to the guild hall to craft.  As I have said before, having the guild hall is a boon and I open it up every time I play for a stretch.  The harvesting NPCs make sure there are enough raw materials, so I was able to bang out a set for Nehru, another for Sigwerd, and then a couple more for other characters that I will likely level up as well.

That made a pretty big difference for Nehru, and he was able to carry on through to the level cap for both adventure and tradeskills.  Getting the 20% veteran’s bonus for having a character already at both caps, he was done sooner in the quest chains than Sigwerd was, but I decided to carry on to the end of the tradeskill signature quest line to see what the final reward was.

That was when I found out how short of the end I had stopped, so I ended up going back to finish it up with Sigwerd as well.  There is some more crafting and a werewolf that gets shot with a ballista.

Aim for the furry one!

And then there is more gathering and a few more things to craft, including a final item that has a special set of six counters, as opposed to the usual three plus three, which boost either speed or durability.

Lookout, squirrel!

I normally craft with my left hand on the 1, 2, and 3 keys and just use the durability counters, but now I had to respond with six and, as you might suspect, I only have five fingers, so I blew the first attempt trying to figure out how I should respond.

Worse, when you blow it, you can’t just start over.  When you try it shows you’re missing all the ingredients you had previously crafted.  Fortunately, they are all in a container in your inventory, but I thought I was going to have to start over again.

For the second, and subsequent, attempts, I just used the cursor to click on the appropriate counter icon.  If you miss even once you lose half durability, and twice fails, so I wasn’t ready to trust my hand-eye coordination on a new system.  Better just to click.

And I succeeded.  That sends you back to the start of the expansion to turn in the quest line for the final reward, which includes a new mount.

And here we get into why I’ll be doing this with any alt I level up.  Mounts, as I mentioned above, also have stats and the stat comparison between my current mount, from Blood of Luclin, and the new mount, is rather striking.

Old on the left, new on the right

Some of the stats don’t seem to change much, but things like Ability Mod, which I seem to recall being one of the critical stats de jour, jumps from 586K to 3.1 million whatevers.  There is also a pretty substantial boost to the health pool, while resolve, another stat that was important at some point, is almost doubled.

So it was time to swap mounts.  The new mounts are, in my opinion, quite ugly, being a pteradon carrying your character in its claws, but the dev team saw fit to provide us with a cosmetic slot for mounts, so I can stick with the look I prefer.

So that is two characters to the level cap and upgraded.  Nehru is also an alchemist, which means that he makes skill upgrades for warriors, so I put him to work in the guild hall making journeyman upgrades for Sigwerd as well as my next character into the expansion, Vikund the paladin.

Meanwhile, Sigwerd should probably look into finishing the adventure signature quest line, which might be a bit easier with an updated mercenary, mount, and skills.

4 thoughts on “Tending to my Mercenaries and Mounts in Visions of Vetrovia

  1. bhagpuss

    Resolve is stil crucial but only for group and raid content. It’s not used at all in solo stuff, even the instances. It does, however, act as a “Gearscore” equivalent for quickly choosing which item is better. I believe the key stats for solo are still Potency, Crit Bonus, Ability Mod and, of course, HPs. It is getting harder to be sure, though, because these things change and the information available online is aging badly. I googled to check before I wrote this comment and the wiki guide is nearly five years out of date and the one I found on Reddit was two years old.

    The mercs can also wear regular armor or at least some of it. I think they can wear the stuff out of the Tishan’s box. Not sure if that’s better than crafted – probably not, in the current crafter-friendly climate. Also, I think there’s merc armor on the panda, although once again it’s probably no better than the crafted if there is.

    It’s important to level the mount and merc up, too. Back when I was doing Overseer quests every day last year I got a ton of mount and merc leveling acceleration potions, more than enough that I’ve been able to max out mounts and mercs on all the characters I’m levelling in just a couple of weeks. The only problem is remembering to do it because all you get is a one line warning in the chat box to tell you training’s complete for that level. I wish you could set it to auto-refresh the way food does but of course that would completely negate the reason you have to keep levelling them over time in the first place, namely to keep you logging in.

    The other important stat factor is the familiar. If you’re using an old one it will be way under par like the mount and merc. I got a decent one as a drop in one of the solo instances and I think there’s usually a good one in the Erollisi Day PQ, which should be coming up soon. Assuming they upgrade it for current content, of course.

    The thing about soloing in EQ2 these days is that if you’re prepared to do the day-to-day upkeep and pay attention to the various requirements, it’s very straightforward to build a character that can face-roll almost all overland solo content and most solo instances. The problem for me always comes not in gear or stats but in getting past some annoying special trick of some boss that a dev’s tried to make “interesting”. That’s where I fell off the Adventure sig quest and so much else has been going on elsewhere ever since i haven’t managed to find the time to hop back on.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Familiars are just at right angles to reality for me. The game doesn’t really bring them up, the only ones I have are from an old expansions, and buying them seems expensive for one of random quality. I’m not even sure how they level up.

    The Overseer seems to be giving out more useful items of late. I have a couple of ten day mount boosts… but, since I have a brand new mount the training time is only a couple of days and I have no idea if you spend a 10 day boost on a three day training time if you just lose the other seven days.

    And, as you note, finding up to date data can be an issue.

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  3. bhagpuss

    On the mount boosts – all the boosts in fact – yes, you lose all the extra time beyond the amount needed. I get through the first week or so in real time before I start using them and even then I let the extra days play out when its just a couple rather than going to the next boost. I have quite a few 10, 15 and 20 day boosts but so far I’ve never needed to use a 20 before I capped out.

    Both obtaining and leveling familiars is a pain. They’re clearly intended to be a significant source of income for Daybreak, much more so than mounts or mercs. There are in-game ways to do it, though. You can get decent ones from some of the holiday events or in the PQs (RNG permitting) and they drop not that infrequently from bosses in solo instances. Also people quite often offer them for free in chat if they get ones they already have because they aren’t tradeable. You have to go join them in their instance and loot them for that. You can use your 500DBC stipend to get a few familiar crates for random ones, too. I only ever did that once because it is a bit of a lottery – well, all of a lottery!

    As for leveling them, the boosts, of which I have dozens, all seem wildly too powerful. I haven’t used them much because it just seems so wasteful, although if I actually had a familiar that I’d levelled up further I’d find them very useful, so it’s a bit of a Catch 22. There is, however, a daily quest you can do that lets you level your familiar for free. In Freeport it’s given by one of three NPCs standing right outside the bank in East Freeport. Can’t remember where it is in Qeynos. The quest is called “Familiars Wild” and since they tweaked it last year it only takes a few minutes to do, especialy if you keep dropping and retaking it until you get the most convenient option.

    I would be doing it every day if I was playing every day, except that a couple of my characters got bugged on the quest long ago(Years and years back) and that bug, while it has been reported as fixed at least twice, has not been fixed for me. The NPC thinks those characters have the quest and won’t give it to them again. I really ought to be doing it daily on my characters who aren’t bugged though.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – All of that sounds vaguely familiar, if you’ll pardon the pun, and is likely something you’ve told me before. But EQII has added so many different things over the years, I go away for a season and I forget half of it.

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