Category Archives: entertainment

Gnomeregan Again but Backwards

Did I say we were done with Gnomeregan?  Clearly I was in error.

Gnomeregan Establishing Shot

Sunday saw us online again.  The weather outside was foul, with heavy rain and high winds, so my plan to go out and hang the holiday lights on the house was postponed.  Time for games. (It was a bountiful Thanksgiving week for that.)  We got together to decide what instance we ought to do, since we had five of us on. (It was Monday morning for Earl in Japan, so he was off the list.)

The discussion went around, but Moronae still wanted that staff, the Manual Crowd Pummeler, from the Crowd Pummeler 9-60 boss in Gnomer.  And I can’t blame him, it is a great item.  I’d love one for my pally.  So we figured we would just run in through the back door, get to the Crowd Pummeler, and take him down.  Easy days.

But then we needed a group.  Skronk and Ula wanted to go with their alts, Fergorin and Scscla, so I rolled out Alioto, who managed to survive our Scarlet Monastery graveyard run, giving us a group that looked like this.

  • Alioto – level 26 night elf driud
  • Scscla – level 28 gnome warrior
  • Fergorin – level 28 dwarf paladin
  • Obama – level 29 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 31 night elf druid

And with this group we had some fresh faces for Gnomer.  Alioto had collected up some of the Gnomer quests the day before when there was a question as to where we might head and what the group composition would look like.  Scscla and Fergorin had some as well, so we shared them out amongst outselves.  After all, going in the back door meant going past Techbot, and that would be a quest done.  And you have to fight your way in there, so you’ll probably get the white punch card, so you might as well start that quest off.  And, who knows, you might get enough “coke machines” along the way to finish that quest off.

So off we went.  Alioto, still not quite 27, made some early decisions for us, along the lines of, “should we kill this mob?” just as Alioto managed to proximity pull the mob with his aggro radius of doom.

As expected, we managed to pick up the white punchcard and upgrade that at the first set of machines.  Then it was off to wait for Techbot to spawn.  Despite those who rushed to level cap in the first month, there are still a substantial number of people running lower level instances.  Techbot has been dead whenever we have run by.  And he was yet again.

We were crowded around the spawn point, but a group having just left and another lurking around nearby.  Not content to wait quietly, Obama started calling the other group “Republicans.”  He is young, and in youth you find many things funny.  But he has also gotten a fair share of grief for his name choice.  At least my druid’s name, also political, was just that of an SF mayor.

My reaction to events

Anyway, that didn’t turn ugly and we took down Techbot, finishing that quest, and headed over to the back door.

The back door has mobs too

At this point I do not recall the first time that Alioto died.  Nor do I recall the situation of most of his deaths during the run.  I just know that Recount says he died 6 times.  Two of those were wipes, and one was a special case, but the other three were all pretty much the same scenario, one that occurs often in Gnomer.

A lot of the trash in Gnomer consists of groups of non-elite mobs, often centered on one elite main mob.  What happened those five times was that Scscla would go in and get everybody on her.  Then the rest of the group would join in, focused on the elite mob, which was the main threat.  At some point I would need to heal Scscla, often a big heal as the mobs would be beating her down pretty aggressively.  A rejuvenation just wasn’t going to cut it.

So I would toss our a regrowth or, if things went south fast, a healing touch.  And as soon as I did I would end up topping the aggro chart for some of the non-elite mobs who would rush me or start throwing wrenches at me.  Gnomes, right?  With the mage plus warlock group this gets handled with fire and ice, but with no Ula we just have fire and a bunch of loose gnomes running  around.

All fire, no ice

Even at level 26 I could probably handle one of these level 28-30 non-elites, but when two or three started in on me, I was in trouble.  It was time to run to the tank, say “save the healer!” on voice coms, and try to heal myself.  That I only died to this three times was probably a good sign.  An additional heal from Fergorin or Moronae was often the margin needed to keep me alive.

So I died a lot.  fortunately Fergorin could also ress me.  I’ll bypass the trash mob deaths and stick to the more memorable ones.

We made our way to the Crowd Pummeler which, relative to the trash mob fights, was easy to heal through. Aggro isn’t an issue with just one mob, though Moronae’s DPS was enough to pull aggro from the tank now and then.  We even pulled him back into the tunnel to keep the tossing about to a minimum.

We meet again Crowd Pummeler

However, the Pummeler disappointed yet again, dropping the boots rather than the 2H mace.  Moronae already got the boots on a past run, so they defaulted to Alioto as the other leather wearer.  They were a big upgrade, though he needs to get to level 28 to wear them.

Having hit our primary objective, there was the question of what to do next.  Electrocutioner 6000 wasn’t that far away, so we decided to press on to get him.  When we got to the ring area around his platform we decided to clear clockwise.  He was 180 degrees off from us in the circle, and the first group to the left looked a bit easier that the one to the right.

More clearing then up the ramp to the Electrocutioner, where we brought him down in short order.  Again, a single mob fight, no problems for me.  He dropped the Lagnut ring yet again, going 4 for 4 on that now.  It went to Scscla, who had an empty ring slot and who could use it.  There we realized that we had cleared to the third punch card machine, but were missing a previous one back by the dormitory.  Obama had also finished up with “coke machines” and Alioto had picked up collecting those and was nearly done.

So to finish out those quests we thought we would fight our way back to the second punch card machine, picking up the “coke machines” on the way.  It was then that we realized that clockwise was the wrong choice previously.  It left the path to the tunnel we needed to get to still occupied.  So we started to clear our way there.

That was when we had our first wipe.  We managed to get two groups of non-elite gnomes plus two elites.  That led to me dying in the usual, happened five other times, way.  But it also left too much heat on the group to survive.  We all went down.

Complicating things, Fergorin, who had the soul stone, was in the thick of the remaining mobs, so his survival seemed unlikely.  But the soul stone is a “use it or lose it” proposition, so he used it hoping for some luck.

Dead and Fergorin is out in the middle there

There was no luck.  The wipe was complete and we had to release.

Back at the graveyard we began to run back, at which point I suggested that we might as well go in through the front door this time to revive, after which we could jump of the ledge, take on the Viscious Fallout, get the dormitory punchcard machine, and then work our way back to where we died, over by the Electrocutioner 6000, which had the third punchcard machine.  After that we would just need to go back to where the Crowd Pummeler was, use the lift to get down to the bottom floor, and get the final punchcard machine.  Piece of cake.

People agreed, so we went in through the front door, got ourselves together, cleared a few pesky troggs, and jumped off the ledge to the boss fight.  It was a close run thing, and I died there too.  I suppose it was slightly different that the rest of the five deaths I’ve lumped together because my aggro radius drew elite adds, but my healing still drew aggro and I went down again.

Me, face down in the toxic ooze again

However, the Viscous Fallout nicely dropped the Acidic Walkers again, so Obama got a new pair of shoes.

After that we made it to the punchcard machine, then to the gauntlet to fight our way back to the Electrocutioner 6000 area.  By that time Alioto was done with “coke machines” and Fergorin had picked up grabbing them.  We figured it was better for somebody to complete the quest rather than have a few of us mostly done.

We managed to get up the gauntlet fine and cleared our way to the Electrocutioner platform for another punchcard update.  Then it was back to where the Pummeler resided.  At some point Skronk finished up his “coke machines” and Scscla started in on getting her dozen.  Taking the lift down to the floor below the Pummeler, we got into the death I am declaring an exception.

We once again got into the situation of an elite mod with a group of non-elites on the tank who, when I healed Scscla, started to focus on me.  I ran to the tank and went to heal myself when there was an incident.

For healing I use an addon called Healium.  It is a simple addon that keeps me from having to make Skronk’s mouse-over macros for healing.  It just gives me the group list with their health status and some spells next to each name that I can click on to apply to that person.  It doesn’t prompt me, I still decide who and when to heal, it just gives me some simple buttons to mash to make sure I drop a heal on the right person.

The Healium UI

I still screw up, but less so than if I were manually targeting and healing.

Anyway, the array of buttons sits low on my screen, right above the hotkeys.  I’ve move the cast bar up to keep it from getting in the way.  But as it turns out, when somebody loots and there is need/greed dialog up, it blocks the healing buttons for the top two people on the list, which in this case were Fergorin and myself.

And, having set all that up, you can probably guess that somebody looted mid-fight, there was a green level item that popped the dialog, and that this happened just as I was going to cast a heal on myself.

I died.  But what is one more death at this point.  I was already getting the yellow paper doll warning after the last death and we were almost done.  Fergorin ressed me yet again, I got healed up, buffed up, and we carried on.

The final punchcard machine was right there, so three of us finished off that quest.  We cleared a bit more to get to another of the “coke machines” and Alioto hit level 27 at last.  At that point Scscla just needed three more “coke machines” and she would be done.  But where to go and find them?

We did not want to go in the direction of the Dark Iron Agents.  That way lay madness and more wipes.  We also didn’t want to wander all the way back to the dormitory area.  We had enough back tracking for one day.  But looking at a map of the instance, it looked like we could take a tunnel to the floor area below the platform where the Electrocutioner 6000 lived.  Surely there would be a couple quest objects there.  So off we went.

And, there were even a couple on the way, so by the time we got to the big open area below the Electrocutioner 6000, Scscla needed just one more of the “coke machines.”   As we came to the opening to the area, we saw spread before us a multitude of “coke machines.”  It was the promised land for those looking to complete the quest.  Scscla just needed to run in there and grab one.

And therein lay the rub.  The open floor had a variety of mobs and groups of mobs criss-crossing it in overlapping areas of patrol.

Scscla spotted and opening and made a dash for one of the “coke machines” around the center pillar of the room.  However, she strayed to close to a mob and was in combat.  Taking damage we ran out to support her and managed to get a few more mobs on us.  We were quickly in over our head and a wipe seemed imminent.

At that point Fergorin had the foresite to flee back up the tunnel and die there, leaving him safe to use the soul stone to revive.  He could then ress us, though that was easier said than done.

Fergorin going down back in the tunnel

He was able to get Moronae, Obama, and Alioto easily enough, but Scscla had died by the center pillar near one of the quest objectives, and was out of ress range from the tunnel.  We would have to go out onto the main floor to get her.

We picked off a couple of the wandering mobs to thin things out a bit.  Moronae played with stealthing out to get close enough to pop his combat ress, which only takes two seconds to cast, but got himself herded away.  Eventually a big gap opened and Fergorin ran out to do a ress.  I kept just in range to be able to heal should it come to it.  He got Scscla and we retreated to the tunnel.

They were looking longingly at all those “coke machines” out in the center of the room still, but I had noticed, while laying dead out on the floor, that there was one just on the other side of a huge pillar that was next to the tunnel entrance.  You can see it at the far right of the screen shot above, in the dark, but still visible.  Further poking around showed that you could squeeze behind the pillar, well away from the wandering mobs.  We all shimmied past the pillar to get her final quest update, and we were done.

I don’t know why we all had to go past the pillar, but we did

After that it was back into the tunnel where we recalled back home.

Time to hearthstone once again

When I landed in Stormwind I went straight to somebody who could mend because I was red paper doll on a couple of my slots.  Then it was back to Ironforge to turn in the quests.

And so it goes.  Are we done with Gnomeregan now?  Moronae doesn’t have his 2H mace yet, so I won’t commit to an affirmative on that.

Current Guild MOTD

We’ve certainly been into Gnomer more times now in WoW Classic than we ever went as a group in retail.  Also, I guess our path wasn’t really “backwards” so much as multi-directional, or at least somewhat out of the usual order.

Now my task though is to get Alioto and Wilhelm leveled up a bit more so they are not such liabilities on these ventures.

Gnomeregan Quest Cleanup

After our run through the Scarlet Monastery graveyard Earl still had some morning energy in him in Tokyo, while most of us in California were not quite ready for bed yet.  Obama was done for the evening, but with the five of us remaining we could go back to a regular group and do something else.

Moronae was still after the staff from the Crowd Pummeler 9-60 in Gnomeregan, so we thought we might as well run back through that.  However, a potential return to Gnomer meant a shuffle of the team as both Skronk and Ula had quests to finish there as well.  With Skronk healing and tanking covered, I went looking for another alt.  The next highest likely suspect was Wilhelm, my retribution pally.

  • Wilhelm – level 26 human paladin
  • Skronk – level 30 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 30 night elf druid
  • Earlthecat – level  30 human warrior
  • Ula – level 31 gnome mage

Again I was way behind level compared to the group, so I had the huge aggro radius issue going against me, plus I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to put out any damage worth noting at level 26.  But it was that or a 32 hunter, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.  Plus we were only planning to go in as far as the Crowd Pummeler, so why not get some time on the pally?

We ran on out of Ironforge and down to the instance.  Earl and I shared the quests we had collected between us, so stopped to get the punchcard update and Techbot’s brain.

Some troggs blocking our way to the punch card update

Being melee DPS rather than healing this time around, I immediately started answering the question “Do we get this mob or go around?” by pulling the mob in question with my huge aggor radius.  We had to kill all the things on the way in.

Once into the instance we followed the path that Skronk had come up with for our last run which involved bypassing the Emi Shortfuse event and just jumping straight off the walkway to hit the Viscous Fallout.  With the jump my aggro radius turned out to be quite the liability as I pulled a couple extra trash mobs our way.  I had to lay hands to hold out for a bit, though that amount of healing just bumped up my aggro and I ended up dying.

But with me down the rest of the group was able to hold out, and the Viscous Fallout nicely coughed up the Acidic Walkers, the primo cloth footwear we had been looking for.

Once I was ressed we started our way around to the dormitory and the B model punch card machines.  We cleared to that and we able to run into the safe area to use the Sparklematic 5200, which is good for some exp.

After that we were on to the gauntlet run, where I stayed as close to the right wall as possible as we fought our way through.

Battling a sentry bird

I think I still managed to pull somebody out of the side run, but I managed to stay alive.  Also, I seemed to be hitting okay.  I was in no danger of being top damage, but I was adding as much weight as I could at my level.

We managed to get through that okay and out into the ring that leads to the next boss, the Electrocutioner 6000.  As a fight he was straightforward and, in slaying him, both Earl and I got the back door key for Gnomer along with our next punchcard update.  The Electrocutioner also dropped the Electrocutioner Lagnut ring, which is what he seems to drop every time for us.  It went to Wilhelm as he had empty ring slots, though he would need to be level 29 before he could wear it.

From there it was around to the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.  We have been down this path a few times and, aside from the random alarm bot rolling up behind us, it wasn’t an arduous journey.  We got to the Crowd Pummeler and took the fight to him with Earl’s back to the wall to keep the fight in one place when it came time to get tossed about.

There we go, in the air again

However, he just dropped the leather boots yet again.  The Manual Crowd Pummeler, the weapon that Moronae (and Wilhelm) wanted remained a dream yet again.

With that done I was wondering if we were on our way out.  Skronk, Ula, and Moronae had all finished up their quests and Earl had even managed to get the dozen “coke machines” for one of the quests.  But we decided to carry on, so went up the tunnel that would bring us to the Dark Iron Agents.

Almost there

As in our last run, we cleared the pair upstream from us first, which was easy enough.  Then there was the group of four downstream.  Skronk put target markers up on each of them.  Earl was going to handle two of them, Ula would sheep one, and I got the last one.  I was still level 26, so I was curious as to how I would deal with a level 32 elite, but this was also the test for the group.  If we couldn’t get past this group of four then there was no reason to carry on.

But we managed to get past the first four.  I didn’t even die holding my guy, though I wasn’t going to be able to carry on much longer by the time attention turned to it.  I was running him down the hall to avoid the mines he was dropping.

After that there was another pair, then a second group of four.  I had to hold one of the Dark Iron Agents again, though I did ask for a level 32 mob.  I was initially assigned a level 33, which seemed like asking for an extra ration of trouble.  We managed to dance around them pretty well, along with the alarm bot, though this time Wilhelm went down.

Me down, dead mines about, and one mob left sheeped

That left us with a free run down to the bottom of the ramp where we were able to pick off the mobs at the bottom one by one.  Then it was time to open the big door, take the two groups behind it one at a time.

One last group between us and Thermaplugg

After that it was just us and Mekgineer Thermaplugg.

Last time we put both the casters, the ranged DPS, on bomb button patrol as they could stand at a distance and still contribute damage.   This time it was going to be Ula and Wil, Ula because she was ranged and Wil because I doubted a level 26 pally was going to inflict much damage on a level 34 boss.  I had actually done okay for DPS up until this point, given my level, but this time was probably asking too much.

And so the fight began.  The usual chasing around ensued in the middle as Thermaplugg shrugged off attempts to keep him focused on the tank, while on the sidelines I chased buttons.

In the end, I think my main contribution to the fight was basically eating every bomb that managed to get loose on my side, healing myself up between goes, to prevent that additional DPS from landing on Earl or Moronae.  I don’t know how much that really mattered, but it was what I could contribute, and we won in the end.

The post fight lineup

Thermaplugg dropped the Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator again, which went to Ula.

Ula and her new hat

And that was it for the run.  At Earl’s end there was a meeting he had planned, so he had to go, while it was about midnight local time for the rest of us, which meant we were all off to bed.  It was time to hearthstone and call it a wrap.

Time to stone out

And so went another run through Gnomer.  We ought to be about done with it by now, having acquired a few of the good drops at least.  You can now find Ula doing her relaxation routine with her hat.

Relaxing on the fountain

Addendum: You can see the hat in action here.

The Day of No Downtime

Today is a strange day in New Eden as something that usually happens every single day did not happen.  There was no downtime at 11:00 UTC.  The game was not offline for the usual time, but persisted on through its regular break to keep running.

Celebrating no downtime

This lack of a downtime was cause to write up a whole Dev Blog about downtime, why they do it every day, and even how they picked the time.  It is another one of those posts that are worth the read just for the insight into the considerations.

Downtime generally isn’t an issue for me as, being on the Pacific coast, it is a very rare day when I am up and online when it happens.  But I am sure there are people for whom it is just the most annoying thing about EVE Online, this daily break in the action.  Then again, some people are probably relieved.  Some battles, like B-R5RB, didn’t end until downtime logged everybody off. (I went to bed and left my Dominix just drifting in game.  It made it to downtime.)

Of course, somebody always has the difficult questions:

No resetting of high sec asteroid belts?

Nosy Gamer, Twitter

So, as has been noted, it is a bit of a non-event.  It is literally something not happening.  But downtime is such a feature of the game that it seems worth noting.  And, of course, downtime will be back tomorrow.  But for one day there was no downtime, allowing almost 48 hours of continuous play… or idleness.  EVE Online is also one of those games without an inactivity timer so, among other things, downtime kicks all those people who just left the game client running and walked off.  There is also the possibility that maybe a downtime every single day will at some point no longer be a necessity.

Others on this:

Six for the Scarlet Monastery Graveyard

Saturday saw the return of Earlthecat to the instance group.  Finally setup in Japan and with some time to play, he was able to join us.

Earlthecat arrives

Oddly, the time difference… while it was late Saturday afternoon for us, it was Sunday morning for him… worked out for everybody.  None of us are staying up past midnight very often these days.  9pm seems like a reasonable bed time for most of us, and Earl’s job had kept him up with the markets on the east coast, so logging on to play early suits him just fine.

As for performance, Earl seemed to have very good performance from across the Pacific Ocean.  Our local pings to the server were in the 65ms range, and he was just over double that from Tokyo, which is well within playable parameters.  There was also no noticeable delay using Discord for our voice comms.  So we were able to get together to play without a hitch.

That left us with a decision as to what to do with the reformed group on Saturday afternoon.  The split seemed to be between hitting Razorfen Kraul, which is about on par with Gnomeregan level-wise, and which we have so far skipped save for that warrior quest run, and the graveyard in Scarlet Monastery, which was next on our list up the instances by levels list, though there was one druid voice suggesting a return to Gnomer to try and get that drop from the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.

Momentum seemed to be pushing us forward to Scarlet Monastery, as did our group size.  We had six people on, which mean going in as a raid.  With that many people we figured we ought to go upward in difficulty.

And then there was the formation of the group.  Both Skronk and I had left some alts back in the low 20s, assuming that we would do some catch-up instances with Earl once he was back.  But Earl drove straight through to level 30.  And, since Earl is a tank spec’d warrior, my warrior Viniki now seems redundant, so I was looking for an alt I could bring along.  I got Skronk to tank for my restoration spec’d druid for a bit earlier, and got him up to 26, so decided to bring him along to heal, with backup heals being provided by Fergorin, Skronk’s pally.  Ula traded out for her warrior, Scscla, leaving our group composition for the night looking like this:

  • Alioto – level 26 night elf driud
  • Scscla – level 28 gnome warrior
  • Fergorin – level 28 dwarf paladin
  • Obama – level 29 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 30 night elf druid
  • Earlthecat – level  30 human warrior

That seemed like quite a level spread, especially given the instance would be featuring mobs that were level 30 and up.  But Alioto wasn’t there to hit things, just to heal and be an aggro radius hazard, so he could just stand well back and do his thing.

Getting to Scarlet Monastery meant another road trip as well.  The closest Alliance flight point… and this is a common Google query that brings people here… is Southshore.  But we had been to Southshore already as part of our Shadowfang Keep run.  Sort of.  And suspecting that this might be our destination, I had run ahead and gotten the flight point for Alioto so when the time came I just flew him out.

Coming in to Southshore

However Monorae had missed getting the flight point.  I had forgotten that we had run out to summon him and Obama on that SFK run, though Obama had since run back for the flight point.  So we did have to do a summon for him.

Bringing Moronae to us

The group together now, it was time to go find the instance.  Somehow I ended up towing everybody along, which was fine through Silverpine Forest.  You just follow the road and pay attention to the signs.

Off we go

Once you get into Tirisfal Glades and in the vicinity of Undercity my memories were a little soft focus.  According to the list of our vanilla WoW runs, we had last been there back in January of 2007.  Runs since then have either been done with Horde characters, who have no worries in the area, or via the dungeon finder when that came along.  The truth is that people won’t make a run like that if they do not have to.

Somewhere in my memories I seemed to recall a guard post along the road that was a hazard, and as the lowest level player in the group I was especially wary of such hazards.  So I may have diverted a bit far off course in order to avoid that.  Eventually I had to stop and Google a map for a reference point, but eventually saw the little path that leads up to SM.

Our route through Tirisfal Glades

The signs were there to announce our destination.

This must be the place

Along the way we sorted out how to deal with being in a raid group.  A lot of the instances will let raids of up to 10 players run them, though there is a question as to whether or not you get quest updates if you have more than a group.  We had no quests though, so that wasn’t an issue at the moment.  However we did find that pally auras don’t work across raid groups, and Earl, most in need of the aura, ended up alone in group 2 of the raid, so there was some Googling to figure out how to move people around in raids (it is under the social panel where your friends and guild lists are), then a discussion as to who ought to be alone.  Since my plan with Alioto was to stay as far back as possible, I volunteered him for that position.

Our raid group disposition

So there we were having arrived.  We stopped a bit to take stock, which is when I realized I left in a bit of a hurry.  I didn’t have the reagent for my combat ress (Moronae gave me a couple), was low on drink (Fergorin shared a few with me), and potions.  So we spent some time getting sorted out on the road.  It is easy to get used to having a mage there for food and drink.

What does a warrior need really?

Once we had that sorted, at least to the extent possible, we started up the road to the instance.  I don’t think we got more than a dozen steps up before I started drawing aggro from Scarlet Crusade archers along the route.  My amazing aggro radius was enough to flush out all the lurkers along the route to the door.

Into the Scarlet Complex

The outer complex has its share of elites wandering around, but you also have to find the way to the correct instance, as it hosts four dungeons.  Fortunately Skronk knew where we needed to go, up to the far left corner to get into the graveyard.

Once in, things started off easily enough.  The first mobs were at the far end of a corridor, so I was able to stand far enough back that I did not invite additional trouble.

Into the instance

Standing back and healing means that all of the screen shots show Alioto standing around doing nothing.

When it came to getting into the next room however somebody else went to far in and we got an accidental pull that included Torturer Vishas.  That was a fight.

He was marked so people wouldn’t get too close…

We ended up surviving without any losses, but I ran out of mana healing before the fight was done and Fergorin had to drop some heals to keep everything going.  My mana pool remained my main constraint during the whole run.  Fergorin keeping Blessing of Wisdom up on me, which regenerates a bit of mana every five seconds, made a very big impact on my ability to heal.  If I needed to drop a Healing Touch on Earl, that would at least keep Rejuvenation or Remove Curse as a possible casts.

Torturer Vishas was down, but only dropped the Bloody Brass Knuckles, a common item that didn’t even meet the group loot threshold.

After that we worked our way through the torture chamber, where we had a group of four mobs to take out.  But with six people, three of whom can be tanks, plus a voidwalker, we were able to split them up and still leave enough DPS to focus on targets to bring things down before anybody died after the healer once again ran out of mana.

Sometimes you just need to burn down individuals rather than trying to split up and multi-off-tank.  The amount of healing required to deal with a dead mob is zero.  But I say that as the wee healer with the limited mana pool.  And we made it out of the torture chamber and into the graveyard proper.

Out in the graveyard

This might be the most familiar bit of an instance in the game.  It certainly is for me.  It is the location where every year I dutifully show up every year to slay the Headless Horseman, only to not get his mount as a drop.

But there was no Headless Horseman for us, just a bunch of mobs in the form of some elite undead and the ghosts, the brine shrimp as they have been called, to clear out.

Earl asked how thorough we needed to clear and I asked how many mobs we wanted to pull due to my aggro radius.  So it was all of them then.

However, we had forgotten the behavior of the graveyard.  As we got to about the fountain, having diligently cleared everything in sight, we looked back to see the undead had already began to respawn behind us.  Also, we didn’t get any of the rare spawns in the graveyard.  So we decided to move things along and make straight for the crypt at the far end.

From there it was down the stairs and into more mobs.

They were happy to come to us

The path down into the crypt… the whole instance really… is pretty short.  We had a couple of groups to work through, but we had soon blundered into the boss, Bloodmage Thalnos, the big boss.  Unprepared to start the fight, it was a bit of a near run thing taking down a level 34 boss at our level, even with the six of us.  Though, again, that was largely due to my mana running down trying to keep Earl alive.

Big heals eat mana, and I had to lay a couple down early on.

But with heals from Fergorin and the Blessing of Wisdom drip feeding me enough mana to get off a fresh heal now and then, we were able to bring down the boss.  Op success!

Victory in the Crypt

Our first run with the return of Earl went pretty well.  I clearly have some work to do getting my potential group alts up to the rest of the group in levels, but we seemed to work pretty well, and we knocked out the first stage of Scarlet Monastery.

As has become the norm, Ula has a video of our run through the graveyard for those who want a more visual experience.

My one complaint about this, and my screen shots, is that unless I am actively healing Alioto is just standing in the background like he is an observer.  Healer life I suppose.  I’m not supposed to get in there and hit things… not with that aggro radius certainly.

Fantasy Movie League Fall 2019 Final Score

I said at the mid-season check-in that the fall 2019 Fantasy Movie League race was more interesting than usual.

The race remained tight right up until week 10, when SynCaine bet on Midway and ended up with the perfect pick, which got him $95 million for the week, $40 million more than the second place pick.  That jumped him up into first place overall and opened up a gap that nobody was able to close in the final three weeks, so the final top scores for the TAGN league for fall were:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,003,734,130
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $948,306,363
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $926,452,645
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $914,543,237
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $885,407,281
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $838,079,152

The alternate scoring, based on a 1 to 5 point scale this time around since we had only about seven regulars, ended up as follows:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 42
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 37
  3. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 31
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 26
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 26
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 14

Bhagpuss and I swapped spots for the alternate scoring.  During close weeks I was frequently in the pack but several spots down.  I extended the final scores to six players as Joanie actually had the top score two weeks, which was as often as I won.

Congratulations to SynCaine for winning the season!

The winter, or “awards” season starts this week.  I won’t be covering it on a weekly basis.  But if it turns out to be another interesting race I will give a mid-season update.

If you want to join on the league you need to make a Fantasy Movie League account.  Once that is done, go to the leagues page, find the search field, and enter TAGN, which should bring up only our league.  Click on the link for TAGN Movie Obsession.  That should bring you to the league page where you will find a button that says Join.  Click that, enter George as the password, and you’re in.

In the Great Library of Myrist

Having hit level cap in the Plane of Magic, with a good two weeks or so before the launch of the next expansion, I was wondering how best to use my time.

First I geared up.  I went to the panda merchant from the Days of Summer event and got all of the upgrades I possibly could.  That included a token that upgraded my ascension level to 15, which gave me some more skills and necessitated a re-work of my hot bars.  I am resistant to just adding more of them.  As with EVE Online, I like to be able to look out the window and see the game rather than having it overrun with UI elements.

I was also able to use some of the drops from the anniversary dragon event to upgrade the equipment on my mercenary and mount.  All together this boosted my stats quite a bit.  It didn’t make me invincible.  I ran out to the dragon event at an off hour when only a few people were doing it and was in mortal peril a few times.  But any non-epic mob that even looked at me sideways was in for a beating.  My potency, what I am told is a prime stat, sits at 45K.  I am no epic raider, but I fear no solo content.

The dragon thing was wearing a bit thin though.

Getting thrown into the air in Nek Forest again…

The drop rate is pretty random and I was getting a lot of duplicates, plus you can spend a long time just waiting for the next dragon to spawn.

I looked into a couple of alts, bringing them out into the Plane of Magic, but the xp boost wasn’t what it was when I went out there with Sigwerd, my main.  I hit that at the right moment for the server boost, so he sailed through levels.  I don’t mind a bit of work, and persisted for a bit, but I felt like I ought to concentrate on my main if I was going to hop into Blood of Luclin with him when it launched.

I had something in my mail box.

A summons

This appeared to be the opener for the Chaos Descending expansion, the current content in the game.  I am sure my hitting level 110 triggered its arrival.  It came with an item that would bring me to the opening scenes.

The Tribunal was looking to pin a murder rap on me.  I am going to guess that I did not get far enough along in the Planes of Prophecy expansion content to get to the murder of the Goddess Lanys T’Vyl, but that appeared to be what I was up for.  However, Druzzil Ro, whom I did meet in the last expansion in the Coliseum of Valor, stepped up for me.

The tribunal speaks

They sentenced her for the murder and I was sent on my way.

Thus into the Chaos Descending expansion, I figured I ought to poke around a bit.  The hub for the expansion, as I recalled, was the Great Library of Myrist, which was also a travel spot on my map.  I figured I might find something interesting there.

Welcome to the library… shhhh!

The first NPC I ran into there was a linguist vendor.

Selling stuff, in the library?

She sold books that would teach you a wide variety of languages.  I bought every language I did not yet have, something that won’t surprise you after the last post I am sure.  My list is much longer now.

My current language list

While still well shy of the whole list, many of which require quests, at least I won’t be caught up on something easy.  And yes, I am pretty sure I’ve seen a similar vendor somewhere in Qeynos in the past, but given recent history and having stumbled upon her just now, I thought it was wise to just fill up when the opportunity arose.

I also picked up the first quest in the signature quest line for the expansion, which mostly involved me running around the library in search of this or that.  Completing it however, boosted my Alternate Advancement levels up several notches, to the 350 cap.

Double cap

Being at the level cap is a rare thing for me in EQII.  Being at both the level and AA cap… well, I am not sure where my experience will go now.

And I am not sure where best to use my time between now and Blood of Luclin.  There will be a large gear reset with is launch.  A lot of the other levels, like updating skills, can only be accomplished with time or money, not activity.  I might look into getting my trade skills up to the cap as well.  But for the first time in a long, long time I think I can go straight into a new EQII expansion.

November in Review

The Site

Another quiet month when it came to traffic.  There was a spike at the start, because writing about Blizzard and BlizzCon will get you some attention.  But then writing about EVE Online or Daybreak games… that is pure death for traffic.  But I write about what I am interested in and what I am playing.

It was apparently also “internet picture posting month” or “inpipomo” or some such.  People were posting screen shots and keep count and that sort of thing.  I thought about joining in, but every month is picture posting month around here.  I am well past 100 for the month I am sure, but I’ll post one more just for luck.

SIEGED!

I’ll leave you to figure out what that even means.

One Year Ago

It was the end of days for WildStar.

I commemorated TorilMUD for having survived for 25 years, and did a post about the Castle Drulak zone on Evermeet.

I was looking back at the decade old VirginWorlds podcast dedicated to the Star Wars: The Old Republic announcement.

BlizzCon was on its way and I was projecting what we might see.  What we actually got… well, Diablo Immortal didn’t play well with fans, but we heard a lot about WoW Classic.  I went over why I felt fan expectations for Blizz are hopeless, but nobody listens.

I had finally schlepped my way to level 120 in Battle for Azeroth and collected my WoW 14th anniversary gifts.

In EVE Online, there was the very pretty Crimson Harvest event.  I was also showing off the swag I got from EVE Vegas. There was also an op out to Geminate to tangle with Pandemic Horde.

But mostly there was the Onslaught expansion, which landed mid-month and reduced the once mighty POS to just so many bubbles in space, though they still haven’t pulled them from the game a year later.  There were also daily login rewards and the activity tracker.

Project Nova, shown at EVE Vegas, had been postponed.

Daybreak was announcing The Burning Lands expansion for EverQuest while the Chaos Descending expansion launched for EverQuest II on my anniversary with the game, though I bid the game farewell for a while.

But the month was really focused on Lord of the Rings Online and its Legendary Server.  I wondered what we might see on the eve of its launch.  The server itself was overwhelmed pretty quickly and there were problems with its login queue.  A second server was announced almost right away.

After fiddling around with ways to beat the queue I was able to get in and start a new character.  There were some quirks of the game to come to grips with, like the lack of tin.  But I made it to the Lone Lands before the month was out, working on the many deeds there.

Five Years Ago

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Launched.

There was BlizzCon, about which I made the usual predictions.  I found the event itself vaguely dissatisfying.  But those who were bitching about lack of focus on WoW at BlizzCon 2015, go back and look at how little attention it got in 2014!  Otherwise we were in Azeroth collecting achievements and waiting for the expansion to hit.

Oh, yeah, the expansion hit… Warlords of Draenor and server queues and all that.   Blizz was trying to fix that while I had to figure out who to play.  Blizz eventually gave everybody 5 days free for the problems.  But hey, they had 10 million subscribers on the hook again, up from the 7.4 million low point during the summer.  Remember when subscriber numbers were a thing?

In EVE Online the Phoebe expansion arrived, bringing with it Jump Fatigue and the 10 year/50 skill long training queue.  Then they were on about removing other annoyances with the upcoming Rhea expansion.

In game the Reavers had finished up in Feythabolis with a bang and were off into Omist next, hunting the unwary before returning home again.

Rixx Javix was drawing spaceships.  He’s still at it.

And there was the This is EVE video that became wildly popular.

I reflected on EverQuest II at its 10 year anniversary.  Veterans of the game even got their own island.  Over on the EverQuest side of the house, The Darkened Sea, the 21st expansion for the game, went live.

And, finally, the power supply on my computer blew out, taking the motherboard and drives with it.  I had to rebuild, but was up and running again in a couple of days.

Ten Years Ago

I was writing about how I had not changed the blog format since I started.  I have since changed it, though mostly due to the fact that WordPress.com broke the old theme.

Our Thanksgiving entertainment was Rock Band 2.  While I was really bad at it, it was a lot of fun.  The next year we played Super Mario Bros. Wii, which I was also really bad at, but which isn’t nearly as much fun.  However, the kids liked it.  I rode along in a bubble most of the time.

And while Tech Crunch was exposing the odious practices favored by Mark Pinkus to get FarmVille and Mafia Wars profitable, the New York Times was gushing over this wonderful new virtual goods market, which I summarized and provided links to here.

I managed to get some playtime in with the original Torchlight, though there were some problems.  It turns out that if you bought the game from the wrong vendor, you could be a while waiting for patches.

The first LEGO Harry Potter game was announced, which I had anticipated would come to pass almost two years before it was announced.

Warhammer Online announced that levels 1-10 were going to be free, making me wonder if they were just going to breed a mass of level 1 twinks.  I think that is what the end result was.  Well, there were twinks, but I don’t think the amounted to much of a “mass” in any way.

In EVE OnlinePLEX was off to a booming start.  The price of a PLEX has risen some since then (~300 million then, well over a billion ISK now in new PLEX).  Meanwhile, the first Hulkageddon was on and even I noticed something was amiss.  Eventually somebody pointed me in the right direction in the comments.

I wondered if fishing was really the secret ingredient for MMO success.

I got all nostalgic for Star Trek because of Star Trek Online’s impending release.

World of Warcraft and EverQuest II both hit their five year anniversaries.  Then I had the temerity to say that there were things that EQII didn’t do very well in my opinion.  Odd how some of those things from a decade back have changed… or how I have changed… or both.

On the WoW end of things, somebody was suing because they felt the game wasn’t easy enough.

Then there were Mr. T Mohawk grenades and a 24 slot Portable Hole, outrages both along with the $10 vanity pets.  And I was complaining about not getting the Headless Horseman’s mount during Hallow’s End.  Again, sound familiar?

I wrote a very short post about Pilgrim’s Bounty which went on to become the most viewed post on the site November of five years ago.

And the instance group started in with Ragefire ChasmWailing Caverns and Deadmines on the RP-PVP server.  Actual PVP occurred since we had to walk to the Deadmines.  We get called griefers for daring to engage in PVP on a PVP server.

Fifteen Years Ago

As may have been mentioned, World of Warcraft launched fifteen years ago this month.

Also celebrating a fifteenth birthday this month was EverQuest II.  It launched a few weeks earlier, but has ever remained in WoW‘s shadow.

EVE Online got its second free expansion, Exodus, which introduced player owned starbases… the POS of yore… one of the uses of which was to claim territory in untamed null sec space.  And thus the race to for empires began.

Twenty Years Ago

Asheron’s Call, the third of the big three break out MMORPGs of the late 90s, launched.  Never as big as its rivals (it peaked at 120K players to Ultima Online’s 250K and EverQuest’s 550K) it blazed its own trail in trying to define what an MMORPG ought to be.  Neglect, a mis-handled sequel, and a studio that made some dubious and costly moves, left the game without a home when Standing Stone Games was split off to support Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings OnlineAsheron’s Call was officially shut down in January 2017.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. The Apology
  4. CCP Falcon Leaves CCP
  5. Looking Back at BlizzCon 2019
  6. End of a Vision
  7. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  8. Visions of a Sunken Temple
  9. No. I’d Rather Kill Rats.
  10. Quote of the Day for WoW Classic Fans
  11. Gambling Returns to New Eden
  12. BlizzCon 2019 and The Big Four Announcements

Search Terms of the Month

how to like raspberries
[to my mind they can only be tolerated]

new everquest game
[Maybe some day]

meeting stones dont summon in classic
[no they do not]

mau wow
[poppa oom mau wow]

why did ccp change the cyno rules in eve online
[If I could answer that…]

Game Time from ManicTime

World of Warcraft gets dethroned from the top spot after three months in a row, as I spent some time in EverQuest II for the 15th anniversary.  I did play less WoW Classic than I did in October.  However, EQII got a big boost thanks to my being off from work most of Thanksgiving week, giving me the time to indulge in its long, side track questing.  It was well behind in time spent until this past week.

  1. EverQuest II – 49.47%
  2. World of Warcraft – 42.94%
  3. EVE Online – 5.53%
  4. EVE Aether Wars – 1.69%
  5. LOTRO – 0.37%

EVE Online

Not a lot happened in New Eden for me.  I went on a total of two ops.  I’m not terribly interested in a lot of the game at the moment and a good chunk of my time was simply spent moving all my junk from one Keepstar to another since our staging station changed.

EverQuest II

Went back for the 15th anniversary and managed to find a goal that seemed obtainable, getting my alleged main to the level cap of 110.  Getting to 108 was quick, but then there was a few days of distraction as I went off on what was something of a wild goose chase, at least when it came to the task at hand.  However, there were some other things unlocked that may do me well later.

Pokemon Go

Still lingering around level 37, though 38 is getting closer.  My wife asked me what we were going to do when we hit level 40.  I said we’d probably quit and go play the Harry Potter version of the game for a change.  That seemed to be okay, since she is much more of a fan of that than Pokemon.

Level: 37 (+0… but very close to 38)
Pokedex status: 470 (+7) caught, 495 (+7) seen
Pokemon I want: I need more Sinnoh stones…
Current buddy: Tepig

World of Warcraft

I logged in for Darkmoon Faire, which is what I do every month.  I will level up my trade skills that way eventually.  I also logged in for the 15th anniversary, though really only to get the achievement and whatever they were handing out directly.  I did not do any of the events nor the LFR for the mount.  I might regret that if mounts were rare, but when you have more than 400, it just isn’t that big of a deal I suppose.

WoW Classic

I slowed down a bit in WoW Classic in November.  I didn’t stop, but as you can see from the play time break down, I didn’t spent more than 90% of my time playing it to the exclusion of all else.  It isn’t a sprint but a marathon to get to level 60 and through all those instances.

Coming Up

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to some.  I like that the production servers at work will be locked down for most of the month so no worry about pushing updates or changes.  Just don’t let anything go wrong.

Game companies though… there will be expansion for EverQuest and EverQuest II and EVE Online next month.  We’ll also be getting battlegrounds in WoW Classic.  Then there will be holiday events and the Steam Winter Sale and all of that.

As for me, expect the usual end of the year nonsense I suppose.  There is of series of annual posts I have accumulated over the years that I will no doubt get to again.  Reviews of predictions, a look at what I played, highs and lows, maybe even something about books, all culminating in predictions for the new year.