Category Archives: Valheim

February in Review

The Site

I haven’t complained about WordPress.com in a while, so let me get stuck into them.  They broke the classic editor… again.  Not drastically, but the break made it much more annoying to use.  When I wrote to their support… they call them “happiness engineers,” which sounds like a title the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would use… the response was pretty much “LOL, use the block editor dummy!” followed by a long, cut and pasted entry about how wonderful it is.

I do not like the block editor.  It feels like a software dev’s view of a word processor, with each paragraph in its own block, as though people somehow felt a need to re-arrange paragraphs so often that they made it a feature.  Object oriented writing isn’t really a thing.  My paragraphs cannot be re-ordered at will and make sense.  They barely make sense when correctly ordered.

There is the “classic” block in the block editor, which is almost tolerable, but lacks some of the features of the classic editor.  And trying to explain the omissions to a “happiness engineer” was like trying to explain tea to a robot.

Fortunately, Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs noticed that the classic editor was only broken in Firefox, not Chrome.  Another typical dev problem, and one I run into at work a lot, where everybody only ever uses Chrome despite the fact that our customers are often on locked down work machines that only have Edge or IE11 on them.  I personally prefer Firefox, though I can complain about most browsers for one reason or another, but I can use Chrome to write if I have to.

Otherwise it was a pretty good month.  Traffic was up as the swell of Valheim players looking for information about the game sent a bunch of people my way.  I was also enthusiastic to write about the game.

Valheim on Steam

The traffic tapered off towards the end of the month as every gaming site in creation jumped on the Valheim bandwagon.  But you can see from the most viewed posts list that it generated some interest here.  And I am sure I will have more to say about the game.

One Year Ago

The anticipated Torchlight Frontiers MMORPG was demoted to Torchlight III, another action RPG with multiplayer support.

Daybreak was warming up for the EverQuest 21st anniversary.

Blizzard reported a decent Q4 for 2019, at least compared to the rest of the year.  WoW Classic helped.  A lot.  But the Warcraft III Reforged fiasco was not likely to help Blizz for Q1 2020.

Over at CCP Project Nova, the latest attempt at a first person shooter, was transitioning into some other project.  But they were going to keep that quiet until the had something real to bring to us.  They also cancelled FanFest in Iceland over corona virus fears, and rightly so.

For the February update in EVE Online we got the Guardians Gala, new implant sets, and the start of what would become a year of nerfing mining into oblivion.  CCP gave us some skill points for being down due to a DDoS attack.  The also announced a plan to fix undercutting in the market.

Out in New Eden the Goon Expeditionary Force was formed and went out on its first deployment.  I managed to get on a bunch of kill mails in my ECM burst interceptor.  We were also out shooting structures and

As fall out from the death of Guardians of the Galaxy coalition, Ranger Regiment joined the Imperium.

I also compare raids, where up to 40 people need to coordinate, with fleet ops in EVE Online, where up to 255 people work as a team, facing off against another group generally of equal size.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working on the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral wing, then we were back again to finish up a quest.  Then I summed up all of our Scarlet Monastery time over the years in a post, including a mock version of the place in Neverwinter.

The we were off to Razorfen Downs.

As we were getting to level 40, I wondered how close we were to being half way to level cap.  There are a variety of ways to measure that.

I was also still playing the EverQuest II expansion, and even bought a couple Krono as my cash resources were rather meager.

And then there was Camelot Unchained, where City State Entertainment announced that they were working on another game which would somehow magically speed up delivery of the game that was already four years past the promised date, prompting people to ask for refunds, myself included.  Of course, getting a refund was not easy, and City State was not at all inclined to be helpful, with Mark Jacobs himself showing up to tell me I must be dumb to not have all the details of a seven year old credit card charge close to hand, but I ended up finally finding the transaction ID from the 2013 pledge and got a refund, minus processing fees.

Five Years Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moonfor the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two gamesH1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Ten Years Ago

I was accidentally declared influential.  That was the first and last time that ever happened, and in an era before “influencers” were even a thing.  We got over that pretty quickly.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it was free to play, so coming back wasn’t all that hard… unless you count time spent waiting for the patcher.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always exactly Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos HillsBlackburrowWest Karana, and the Qeynos Sewers.  Important spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Fifteen Years Ago

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach launched.  Based somewhat on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set it set out to be the best dungeon crawl experience in the MMORPG genre, and featured no dragons at launch.  It also unapologetically required required player grouping, something declared right on the box.  That made me put it back on the shelf at Fry’s.  It has since become solo friendly, free to play, and toned down the name to just Dungeons & Dragons Online.

SOE lauched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which raised the level cap to 70 and introduced alternate advancement, a mechanism long familiar to EQ veterans by that point.  This was also at a point of peak performance issues in the game, including the height of the Qeynos Harbor lag problem.  I was on board with WoW by then and declined to buy the expansion.

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

Twenty Years Ago

Civilzation II, perhaps one of the oldest games I can still play, and which I have invested many hours into, launched on leap day 1996.

Pokemon Red & Green, the genesis of the Pokemon franchise, launched in Japan.

Thirty Years Ago

The Legend of Zelda launches on the NES, the first game in the long running franchise.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. The Guardians Gala Event Returns to EVE Online
  5. A First Look at Valheim
  6. Traveling to the Black Forest in Valheim
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Robbing Some Space Banks
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. Time to Earn some ISK
  11. What Does LOTRO Need?
  12. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE

Search Terms of the Month

goons papi eve meta explained
[Good luck with that]

keepstar meme
[Yes]

keepster broom
[What?]

how do keepstars protect themselves
[Memes, brooms]

eve echoes burn jita
[One can only hope]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Again, good luck with that]

Game Time from ManicTime

When the month started off it looked very much like WoW Classic would be at the top of the list.  I was serious about my paladin alt, the group was finishing up Blackrock Depths, and things were going well.  And then Valheim showed up and ate up all my free time.  Well played.

  • Valheim – 63.16%
  • WoW Classic – 22.85%
  • EVE Online – 13.52%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.47%

EVE Online

The was carried on.  There were a few big clashes, but nothing like the titan battles or the Keepstar drops from the end of 2020.  I got into a few fights, but mostly spent my time on the M2 hellcamp, which carries on.  Both sides are grinding away at each other and trying to keep their side motivated.  The side that loses interest first loses.

Pokemon Go

There were some fun events for the Kanto celebration that got my wife and I out of the house.  Lots of raids and tasks.  We’re slowly closing in on level 41.

Level: 40 (88% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 619 (+6) caught, 647 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 11
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

The surprise hit game of 2021 so far.  I went from, “Why no, I have never heard of this new early access game on Steam” to it consuming all of my gaming time over the course of a week.

World of Warcraft

WoW has really fallen down the list.  As I said in my BlizzConline summary, it isn’t so much that Shadowlands is bad, it is just always the 3rd or 4th thing on my list to play.  I forgot to log in and do the Darkmoon Faire tradeskill quests even this month.  I am really falling off the retail WoW wagon.

WoW Classic

We finally finished up the last quest for Blackrock Depths on our twelfth run.  Doing it as a four person group was often a challenge.  And, for a four person group I am not sure we have the optimum class balance.  Had I to do it over again I might have tanked with a paladin.  The raid meta won’t allow pally tanks, but for the 5 person dungeons it would have worked.  Now we just have to decide what to hit next.

Coming Up

More Valheim I bet.  We’re kind of moving slowly on our world, but base building is satisfying.  We still haven’t found the damn vendor, so hopefully that will happen next month.  I’ve explored a lot of black forest biome on foot so far and that is getting a bit old.

World War Bee will carry on in EVE Online.  Neither side seems ready to crack yet as the war enters its eighth month.  Meanwhile, CCP is carrying on with strangling the economy along with a couple more odd ideas that I might explore.

The instance group might get back to WoW Classic.  We’re all playing Valheim together at the moment, but that isn’t as structured as a dungeon run, which is both good and bad.  We’ll see.

EverQuest will turn 22 in March.  Are there any good birthdays after your 21st?  I think the last real birthday party I had was when I was ten.

I will also expect that we will start getting a drip feed of news from Blizzard about their projects for this year, including The Burning Crusade Classic and Diablo II Ressurected.  Likewise from Nintendo around Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.   And I am still waiting for some new on LEGO Starwars: The Skywalker Saga, which was delayed into 2021.

Death on the Plains in Valheim

Having defeated The Edler, it was time to find a swamp.  However, the seed value of our server did not put a swamp in close proximity to our base camp, which meant it was time to go out and further explore our world.

Fergorin and Crowbar headed out to the east of our main base, something recounted in a post over at the now rekindled Potshot blog.  When I was on by myself, I decided to set out from the base we made to assault The Elder.  I sailed east from the base and started up a river which turned into something like a passage between two stretches of ocean, its steeps sides reminding me a bit of the Corinth canal.

This canal was a bit more twisty though

I passed through to the open water on the far side and sailed quite a ways, but did not spot a swamp.  I ended up taking a the boat back down through the open straights well to the east of the canal, ending up coming down the eastern shore of our original island (and passing a Fergorin corpse marker from the adventure linked above) and back to our main base.

Just a death marker along the shore

That showed me a bunch of coastline, but I decided I needed to fill out the interior of The Elder island, so I went through the portal back to the base and, with the coming of a new day, went exploring on foot.  I found some meadows and more black forest and a Dragur camp that I gave a wide berth to, eventually ending up at the northeast of the island at a tower that seemed to have a lot of copper nodes about it.  Always hungry for more copper, I set up a small base there with an eye towards mining the copper for a few days.  After I had it all ready, I would run back to the base with the portal and take a boat around to the shore near the tower, load the boat up with ore, then sail it back.  It was too far to run back and forth with ore in my inventory and the terrain was too rugged for a cart.  But I knew the boat could get there easy enough, taking the canal I had already sailed through.

The sailing route to my copper hoard

Once I had filled up a chest in my tower with copper ore, I filled up my inventory with as much as I could carry and still not be overloaded, and set about walking back to the Elder Base.  The route was through rolling black forest terrain with lots of wandering greys.  As I walked a storm came up and it got dark and rainy and when I crested a ridge and ran into a troll there was a bit of chaos unleashed.  I wasn’t quite prepared for that fight, and all the more so as had arrived with some greys in pursuit.

I ended up dodging around, trying to kill him, kiting him off as he and the greys pressed me.

Not paying any mind to direction, I kept on kiting him and going down the easiest route.  Eventually I decided to just ditch him and ran all out down the level path to get away.  This sent me wildly off course and, as I saw some water on my mini map, I headed towards that thinking I was at a different coastline that I was.  As the water came into sight I heard a buzzing sound a saw a large flying bug coming towards me.  It attacked and I died.  I had been introduced to the deathsquito.

My unfortunate route

I respawned at the copper storage tower, having built a bed there and set it as my spawn point.  I immediately started to run back to my corpse.  It was still dark and rainy and the place was still swarming with greys, but I found some blueberries on the way and avoided the troll, only to arrive at my corpse and die immediately to the deathsquito again.

I tried another time, but with the same result.  That skeeter seemed to be patrolling the area.

Skronk was on and offered to help out.  I made a naked run back to Elder Base to meet up with him and get some food.  The word on the deathsquito was that they hit for 60 damage, so if you’re health is low then you’re done for.

The plan was to sail out and stop a bit off shore from my corpse, which was within sight of the water, at which point I would go ashore and try to collect my stuff.  Fergorin would stand off to pick me up, but would otherwise try to avoid getting mixed up with the hard hitting skeeter.

The expedition route

I sailed us up through the canal again, so Fergorin got to add that to his explored areas, and along the coast towards my corpse.  As we came to the headlands at the end of the island we saw a pair of giant bison.  As it turned out that tip of the coast was a plains biome, which is why the deathsquito was there.

In the hierarchy of biomes it goes meadows -> black forest -> swamp -> plains when it comes to difficulty, and we were still finding trouble in the black forest and only looking for a swamp.  Hitting the plains was a sudden step up in difficulty.

Our first run at the shore went about as expected.  I jumped off the boat and swam ashore and pretty quickly ran into the deathsquito again, dying before I could get very far.

Fortunately I was still set to spawn at my tower, so I was able to run to the shoreline so Fergorin could pick me up for another run.

Waiting on a rock for a pickup

On taking the second run Fergorin decided to see if he could kill the deathsquito from shore.  The wiki said that while they hit hard, they only have a few hit points, so killing them was supposed to be quick if you could get a shot in.  So this time we stood a bit off shore in the boat and Fergorin tried to shoot the skeeter.

This went about as well as expected.  After trying to call out the position of the deathsquito, he got a shot off that just brought the damn thing down on us.  In the mean time, a Fuling, a goblin looking creature, that had been on the beach, decided to join in with attacking us.  I jumped off the boat and made a run for my corpse and got there… only to find that my corpse could not be auto-looted due to the fact that my inventory was full.  I had a bunch of stuff, including my swamp key, the reward from slaying The Elder.  So I had to start going through my stuff, grabbing armor and a weapon.

As I was doing that Fergorin lost his battle with the skeeter/Fuling combo.  I ran to the shore to try and help with just a few things on me, only to have the deathsquito zap me dead.  The boat ended up getting destroyed along the way as well.

So, in the grand tradition of corpse runs, we now had two people with missing corpses rather than just one.  Fergorin felt that he needed to be geared up for the next run.  Also we needed to build another boat.  I, on the other hand, decided to just try to run and get my stuff again, something that surprisingly succeeded on the third try as I managed to sneak and evade both Fulings and the deathsquito.  I then ran back to Elder Base to meet up with Fergorin.

Getting Fergorin’s corpse promised to be a bit easier.  Having gone down with the ship out the water, he was far enough away from the shore that his corpse was expected to be easy to grab.  The corpse marker nicely floats on the surface of the water, so we just had to sail up to where we had been a couple of times already, make the pickup, and move on.

However, he wasn’t keen to go the long way through the twisty Corinth canal.  So, Fergorin at the helm of the new boat, opted to sail the other way around the island, sure that it would be a quicker passage.  It was not.

Going way out of our way

At least we discovered a swamp biome that was not too far down the coast from the Elder Base.  We just need to kill the Dragur… the house labeled “Bad People” due to my going ashore earlier to say “hi” and then fleeing for my life… and set up in the meadows biome next to the swamp.

Having gone all that way, as Fergorin decided to turn the boat back, we ran straight into a sea serpent.  He came after us and Fergorin ran the boat to shore where we got out and managed to slay it.

Fighting the serpent in yet another storm

Once it was dead I jumped in the water and picked up the serpent meat it dropped.  No point in letting that go to waste.

The Fergorin built a workbench, repaired the boat, and we headed back the way we came, stopping at Elder Base for resupply and so I could cook the serpent meat.

Some big serpent steaks on the fire

As it turned out, it gives quite a nice hit point and stamina buff even in its basic cooked form.

I also put my swamp key, bronze axe, bronze pick, and a few other items in a chest.  No need to carry any of that into danger again.

From there we went the other way around the island, finally catching some wind going our way… the predictive wind AI, which seems to know which way you are thinking about going and turns the wind against you had been working almost flawlessly up to that point… and managed to get ourselves back around the island and off shore from the deathsquito.  I was at the helm and edged us slowly towards Fergorin’s corpse.  We had eaten our best food, including the serpent, and were pushing past 140 hit points as we glided close, ready for trouble.

Corpse marker on the water

Once we got in range he was able to loot all the critical items from it.  Then I backed away from shore and we turned to head home.  Nothing had assailed us on our last run.  It was now about 11:30pm local time on a weeknight when I generally like to be in bed by 10pm.  We managed to sail home without issue, though when I turned in to take the canal back home we spotted a troll standing right at the shore so opted to take the outside route around the island.

And so it goes in Valheim.

Battling The Elder in Valheim

Having set ourselves up with a portal to an outpost close to The Elder, all we had to do was get together and fight him.

Of course, having gone into the Eikthyr fight after reading some “it’s easy” comments, I was a bit paranoid.  But I had an opportunity.  Having prodded Liore, formerly of the Herding Cats blog and the Cat Context podcast, and her crew about the game, they jumped on board with it, rolling up their own server.  So I have been over there to visit and build things now and again, though Valheim is one of those games where there is always a bunch of things to do, so playing on two servers can be a bit much.

However, thanks to the youthful enthusiasm of Corr, whom some will remember from the now dormant Fantasy Movie League runs, they quickly caught up to our level of progress and they were looking to slay The Elder on Saturday, while we were not going to get together for the event until Sunday, so I had a chance for a practice run.

I put my first character, Vikund, onto their server… though again, having two characters is like having two servers at times, it just doubles the things you want to do… because he had okay equipment.  I upgraded him to a fine bow and made sure he had a stack of fire arrows and a stack of flit arrows.  I did this because Corr had done some research and came back saying that melee is bad, ranged is good for this fight.

So we got together and rolled on out to the site of The Elder, three ancient seeds in hand, the requirement to summon him.  The Cats had a base close to the alter, so it was a short run.  We setup around the place, each of us taking a pillar to shoot from as that was alleged to be solid enough to block the ranged attacks we would be facing.

Setting up with the cats

Corr threw in the seeds and the battle began.

As with Eikthyr, you get the big boss health bar on the screen so everybody can see the progress at taking them down.

The Elder shows up

Fire arrows nicely set him ablaze and put a little DOT damage on him for effect, though I wouldn’t swear to them necessarily being better than flint arrows.  I am not sure it the DOT effect stacks or not, for example.

The fight was very active, and there was a lot of running about and avoiding attacks.  He summoned some greys in the back half of the fight and I think everybody besides Corr died at least once.  But the run back was easy and you just pick up your stuff and carry on.  Victory was inevitable.  Once slain, his head was brought back to the henge to be displayed on its anointed hook.  A celebratory screen shot or three was taken.

Whatever you do, nobody look at the camera

So I came away from that with the blush of optimism.  Hell, I was nearly full on Sir Robin at the Bridge of Death declaring, “That was easy!”

When the next day came we spent a full day cycle at our main base gearing up, upgrading, grabbing food, and collecting the health potions that had been cooked in the cauldron then simmered in the fermenter.  As night fell we got into our beds for a night’s rest.

Skronk/Fergorin has invented the footlocker in Valheim

When the new day dawned we went through the portal to the outpost and ran over to the altar of The Elder.  We got a bit wet on the way because our main gate opened onto some standing water.  I have since fixed that with the hoe.

Dripping wet still on arriving

I had the seeds and had explained what I had seen the previous day.  The sun was rising and for once it didn’t look like rain.  We spread out, each taking a pillar and then I went up and put the ancient seeds in the fire, summoning The Elder.

Time for The Elder to rise and shine

The fight started off as expected.  We started peppering him with arrows and he lit up nicely when hit with fire arrows.  We dodge the tendrils he throws your was and stayed clear of the roots as well as we could.   I think we had an early death, but the run back was quick.  And then things started to derail.

First, there were the greys, who seemed to be out in force.  So there was time out to turn and take them down.

Then there was the troll.  I mentioned the troll cave near the outpost and my suspicions that its presence foretold future spawning of trolls.  Well, now was apparently that time.

So we were shooting The Elder and kiting the troll… when the second troll wandered into the fight.  So, two trolls to deal with.

Kiting a troll

I had been doing pretty well until the second troll showed up.  I tried to kite him away from the fight so I could safely set him up and kill him.  However, he had other ideas.

The troll kills me instead

Deaths began to mount and it became clear that dying by the altar was going to make getting your stuff back to resume the fight difficult.  My corpse, having kited the troll down to the water, was a relatively easy recovery.  Both Crowbar and Unna had problems at points getting to their gear.

And then the skeletons showed up.

Unbeknownst to me there was a burial chamber just over the rise from the altar and somebody got too close to it and brought the skeletons who were guarding it into the fight.  They were not a huge threat, but they just added to the chaos on the field.

We died some more, but eventually got a handle on things and managed to kill off both of the trolls and were able to return to The Elder as night fell.

The Elder, on fire, shooting his tendrils attack as the sun goes down

Then, of course, the greys came again and the battle carried on, but as night came one, it was clear we were going to take it.  We had managed to brute force our way through a variety of unexpected turns.  But this is the afterlife, so “live, die, live again” is par for the course.  I have to think this explains the trolls and the greys constantly showing up.

The Elder defeated

That was a hell of a fight.  On death The Elder dropped four swamp dungeon keys, which get you access to… dungeons in the swamp biomes.  That is important because that, as I understand it, is where one collect iron for the next layer of crafting.  We stopped and collected ourselves and bits and pieces all over the place, then took a victory shot in front of the rune tablet that gives you the vague instructions related to summoning The Elder.

Again, nobody look at the camera, it might steal your soul

I love that there is a little Crowbar death marker behind us.  I could have cropped that out, but felt it was better with it in the background.  Also, I think the death markers are pretty cool.  They sit there glowing and bubbling, waiting for your return.  They even float on water… which I will get to in another post.  It is the afterlife.  Why shouldn’t we have happy little markers?

We also got a trophy for The Elder.  We ran that back to our main base and hung it up on the appropriate hook, so now we have defeated two of the bosses that Odin set us to get.

Trophies in the night

Having that gives us access to the next buff, which for The Elder is enhanced speed at cutting down trees… which seems like something from the ironic punishments division of hell.  I don’t know.  Eikthyr’s buff gave us enhanced stamina for swiftness, like a deer, while The Edler gave us the ability to murder his children more efficiently.  Go figure.

Anyway, with keys in hand, we now needed to go find a swamp biome, as we had, so far, not seen one.  Time for more exploration.

Addendum:

Bhagpuss beat me to a post about defeating The Elder, but I’ve done it twice now!

Getting to The Elder in Valheim

Valheim has its sandbox, base building, and maintenance task elements.  I think Skronk and I spent a good four hours in the game on Friday night just pottering around and doing “things” that were not exactly epic, but which kept us busy and engaged until the clock had gone past midnight.

But there is still a story and a through line that the game expects you to eventually follow, holding back on crafting upgrades by way of incentive to get you to leave your base tweaking and look for something besides more copper nodes.

Previously we defeated Eikthyr, the lightning horned stag, which got us the antler pickaxe and opened the way to the bronze age for us and our obsession with copper nodes.

The trophy hung

Now, as we have begun to sate our thirst for bronze… there are only so many items to make and upgrade… iron is the next item on the list.  But to gain access to iron you need to defeat The Elder, the next boss on the list.

Which means you have to find his altar.

Fortunately, that is pretty easy.  At the end of some of the burial chambers you will find a rune that, when activated, marks the location of The Elder on you map.  Our map… in this case Skronk’s map… showed about the limits of our exploration on the island where we started, with our main base being at the southern tip, and the Black Forest base about a day’s sail on a raft to the south.

Skronk map

The marker for The Elder was across the water from the northernmost tip of the west coast of our island and at least as far over the water as our Black Forest base was to the south.  That was something of a journey.

However, we had not been wasting all that tin and copper on cauldrons and knives.  80 bronze nails, 30 fine wood, and some resin and deer hides will get you the Karve, the upgraded water craft.  This is a real boat, not a few logs strapped together like the raft.

Sailing the Karve into Dieppe base in the Black Forest

The Karve actually sails much faster than the raft and has four inventory slots to carry cargo.  I did some coastal raiding for tin ore with it, and we’ve all used it for some exploration.

We had decided that our instance group dungeon for the week was going to be The Elder.  But the afternoon before Crowbar (Moronae from the WoW Classic group) were on and decided to go get things setup for the event in advance.  Planning!

Well, sort of planning, in a half-assed kind of way.  We decided to sail north around the western side of our island, up the coast and as far as we could to get as close as we could to the site of The Elder.  Our idea was to get up there, build a secure compound, then put up a portal so we wouldn’t have to muck about with all that sailing just to get to the fight.  Not that I don’t enjoy sailing… the Karve is a delight… but it does take time.

So off we went, a few supplies… mostly a couple of surtling cores for the portal… in hand.

On the sea in the rain

Of course the weather was bad and it was raining most of the time and the wind seemed set against us, as it always seems to be when you’re actually traveling to a destination.  But we pressed on and found that The Elder’s site was pretty close to the shore when we finally spotted land.

We actually found a nice little cove to come ashore.  There was even a stone tower there to mark the place.  I am always optimistic about such landing sites, even if I have no basis in fact or history for being so.

The landing cove, our little Drake’s Bay

It was there that we discovered that we ought to have packed more supplies… like a lot of wood.  You think you’re going to the Black Forest so that wood won’t be an issue.  But once we knocked down a few nearby fir trees to start a building, we found we were in an area heavily made up of pine trees, which yields a bit of regular wood, but mostly core wood.  Core wood is good, but for basic building you need plain wood.

Meanwhile, the greys were showing up constantly, so our progress was slowed by fighting.  As it turned out there was a greydwarf nest on either side of the camp, just out of line of sight.

Time to take the axe to this

Eventually we took those out, but it was a long running fight before we had a building standing.

A house to stage from

There was also a troll cave just up the hill from us, so we had to kill a troll along the way as well.  No end of problems… and recurring ones too.  My current operating theory is that troll caves are troll spawners, since they clearly respawn.

You can see our camp from the troll cave

It was then that we found ourselves shy of fine wood.  We actually could have found some… there were some birch trees in a Meadows biome not too far from us, but we had other issues.  All the combat had made my copper knife and bronze axe useless, and you need a forge to repair those.  So we had to sail back to a base to get supplies.

Fortunately, about a third of the way up the west coast of our main island is a base with a portal to our main base, so we did not have as far to go and the sailing was a straight shot, without need to navigate the shallows that we had to slip through to go north.

So we sailed, made it to the portal, got back to our main base and repaired.  We also grabbed supplies and built a portal at that end with the tag “Elder” so once we built the portal near The Elder we would be hooked up for travel.

The trip back on the boat was uneventful, though we spotted an abandoned raft on the way.  Somebody left that behind while exploring.

Back at The Elder outpost the greys were there to greet us, so we had to fight to clear the area.  With plenty or core wood around I built some pointed stakes around the house, which the greys have a knack for impaling themselves on.

The portal went up, once I found some space for it in the house.  Houses fill up with junk quickly, just as in real life, as we had a workbench and beds and chests already there.

Once the portal was in place, we were able to jump back and forth with supplies.  I brought back wood and built a palisade wall around our outpost, moving the sharpened stakes outside of that.  Our outpost was set.  Then I felt the need to sail the Karve back to one of our bases with a harbor.

But, with this outpost connected to the main base via a portal, we were all set for the Elder.  His altar was just a short walk.

The site of the coming fight

We just had to take him out.  But with all four of us, how hard could that be?

Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim

I have been attempting to write the narrative of our adventures in Valheim, the way I have for WoW and WoW Classic and what not in the past.  But, with a new game that has been keeping us invested, I have been falling behind.  Unlike WoW Classic, we haven’t been meeting up just one day a week, leaving me ample time to write up a blog post.  Yesterday’s post about making our new base camp covered events that were almost a week back at this point.  Updates come at you fast when you play every day.

So, time to summarize a few events to get to the current state of our world.

Trolls

I mentioned seeing a troll for the first time in the last post, wandering around up the hill from our new camp on the edge of a Black Forest biome.  The trolls wander about, and the next day when I logged in I walked out of our longhouse to find the troll out in our front yard.

Troll at the gate

They have quite a bit of visual range when it comes to spotting players, and he came towards me and started smashing up the place.  I got on the other side of the wall to try and repair it a bit and found out that palisades are not particularly troll proof.

Troll makes a mess of me

I respawned and dragged him off into the distance, which saved our camp for the moment, but he was definitely in the area.

He came back around later when we were all on and started attacking our camp again.  He went around the back and destroyed both rafts and was banging away at the back door when I ran up to help with the defense.

The troll at the walls again

Our combined effort managed to take him down, but it is clearly something we need to get better at.  One smack from a troll is enough to do you in if you haven’t buffed up your health before hand.

Troll head trophy

Trolls do not respawn, so at least the immediate vicinty of our camp was safe from that.  Of course, I spotted trolls both up  and down the coast from us, so we would need to take care of more later.

Dungeons

We ran up the coast from our base later to explore the burial chamber that Ula and I had discovered the previous day.

Into the dark

These are small bites of content, in their own instance.  The very much have an old school, single file hallway, Dungeons & Dragons feel to them.  This one was populated by more skeletons as well as a ghost.  We got in there and cleared the place out.

Down in the depths

Skronk died to a room of skeletons, including two star skeleton that poisoned him, but was able to run back quickly.  For the most part the skeletons were not that tough, we just needed to show a bit more care jumping into rooms.  We changed up and put somebody with a shield in the front and then held torches behind.  Torches are required unless you can see well in the dark. (I cannot, and fighting in the dark is one of my failings so far.)

In addition to some treasure and a new type of mushroom, we came up with five surtling cores, which are required to build a kiln or a smelter.

Bronze Age

With the cores we went back to camp and build a kiln, which turns wood into coal.  We chose that first since you need the coal to power the smelter for refining ore.  We figured we would build the smelter with the next cores we came up with and started stockpiling coal in advance of that.

We also started mining some of the local ore.  There was some tin ore down by my first foothold, and some copper ore up the hill from us.  One of the copper supplies was near where another troll had been seen wandering and the sound of us mining seemed to draw his attention.  This led to some situations.

Don’t provoke the troll unless you are ready

The troll came back and started beating on our camp again, destroying our kiln, before Skronk was able to draw him off in another direction and lose him.

There was a kiln here before the troll came by

Fortunately it appears that when you destroy and break down the kiln or smelter, you get the surtling cores back.  After we rebuilt and repaired the perimeter, we decided to use the ore and coal that we had collected, so built a smelter instead.

Hugin came by once that was built to tell us all about it.

Smelter lessons

Smelting ore unlocked the plans for the forge.  Skonk build a working area for that around the back of the base and we forge a couple bronze plates, which unlocked more recipes.  I coveted the bronze axe, naturally.

New Players and New Characters

Over the weekend Mornoae from the instance group, along with his son, who was Obama in the early WoW Classic runs, grabbed the game and joined our server.  At that point Skronk and I made a couple of new characters in the world to link up with them and help them get started.

Having a second character didn’t set us back much, given what we had learned so far.  You just have to make space for a couple new beds.

And, of course, having a teen let loose on the game meant that there was quickly very little he could learn from us and a much we could learn from him.  And the three of them had Monday off for the President’s Day holiday, so when I logged on late that afternoon I found that they had been all over.  Skronk sent me a screen shot of his current map of our original area, annotated with the map markers the game allows. (Select the marker from the side bar, double click where you want to put it, type in the legend for it.)

Skronk map

We had only really explored a small part of that area previously.

Our resident teen was already out killing trolls and spotting dungeons for us when I got on.  I ran up to his new compound, built on an island on a lake.

Lake base

Then it was on to Skonk (now Fergorin) and his new hunting lodge, to join up with the party.

Fergorin’s lodge

All classic norse names there I am sure. (My alt is Sigwerd.)

We ran around and cleared out more burial chambers, collected more surtling cores.

Fergorin marked the spot with his corpse

Skronk and I split off to take care of some things, then met up with the two, traveling by raft, over in a Black Forest area that had several dungeons.  We also found a place with some copper ore and set up to mine that.

Copper ore area

That ended up turning into an on and off melee with the local greys who seemed to object to our mining the ore.  We ended up building a sheltered workbench to be able to repair our gear as we worked and fought.  Once we had finally mined what we could and were nearly over weight with ore, we split up again, with Skronk and I headed to the raft to sail back to the main base.

There we assembled a forge and kiln.

The bronze age has truly arrived

Skronk built a crafting pavilion at the camp and we put up a forge for metal working as well as an upgraded workbench to craft and repair as well.  After smelting the ore and making some bronze, I made the first bronze axe.

Portals

With the bronze axe came the ability to cut down trees previously marked as “too hard.”  I immediately attacked some of the nearby oak and birch trees, harvesting both some fine wood and some core wood, both of which are needed for advanced recipes.  The bronze axe is good, but it wears out kind of quickly and you need to go to the forge to repair it.  The workbench won’t do.

With new wood came new recipes.  I crafted a fine bow as an upgrade, but one key item we wanted was a portal.

With surtling cores and fine wood you can build a portal for travel.  The plan was to make our original base the central crafting and storage location and use some portals to connect other bases.  Skronk built the portal in the main base and named it “A Train” in a nod to fast travel.  Unlike Minecraft and the netherportal linking issues we sometimes had, in Valheim you connect portals by giving them the same name.

Then I ran up to the base on the lake up north and built a portal, gave it the same name, and the two bases were connected.

The portal flares as you get close

We now had some fast cross country travel.  We also had enough surtling cores left over to make another pair of portals.  So I built a second portal and named it “Island,” that being easy.  Then I built a raft and sailed over to our foothold base in the Black Forest… sixth trip across the water in that direction and no serpents yet… to build a portal at that end.

Once more landing on this shore

There I took down our smelter, collected the cores from it, and built the portal and gave it the name “Island” as well.  We were now connected to the main base.

I then figured I would pick up the ore and metal that we had already collected and take the portal back.

It was then that I found out that you cannot take ore or refined metal through a portal.  And we had a bunch of ore sitting around.  So I loaded myself up to maximum carrying capacity, got back on the raft and sailed back home.

That was a bit of a nerve wracking trip.  I was nervous on the trip over because I was carrying our only bronze axe.  On the way back I had that, a bunch of ore, and the weather set against me almost soon as I set sail.  The swells were big enough that the raft was taking damage when it landed in the trough.  It was raining and dark.  And the wind seemed set to blow me back the way I had come.

I made it, though I had to put ashore a bit up the coast from our base.  I ran over to deposit my ore, then ran back to the raft only to find that it had been destroyed by the waves knocking it against the shore.  It held out as long as it needed to.

And that brings us up to almost where we stand today.  We need to get out and find some more copper and tin ore so we can work on more equipment upgrades.

Addendum: Also, since I wrote this, I was able to log back in and solo the two other trolls near our Black Forest camp site.  The first was a near run thing, as I managed to get every other aggro mob in the area on me as I kited him, which meant killing a bunch of those while I was trying to slay the troll.

A final clear shot

That let me mine a bunch of copper freely… or free from trolls.  The greys keep showing up.  I also rebuilt the smelter to refine the ore since I would haul coal from our main base through the portal.

The second troll I managed to backstab with a freshly made copper knife that took down half his health in one go.  I have come to Bhagpuss’ opinion about a knife as a weapon.  Then I ran him around the burial chamber we had cleared, peppering him with arrows.

I also destroyed a greydwarf spawner up the way after stabbing all the locals to death.  So our camp at the Black Forest is a bit more secure and I am now wearing a troll hide tunic and pants.

Storming Ashore in the Black Forest

Back to Valheim.

In planning for our return to the Black Forest… well, my return and a first visit by everybody else… Skronk put together a spreadsheet to calculate what supplies we would need to carry over with us in order to make a defensible base.

The biggest element was going to be wood.  We would need to build a palisade wall around the camp as swiftly as possible and then some minimal shelter within that in order to hold out against the anticipated onslaught.  That meant more than 300 units of wood.

50 units of wood weighs 100 pounds, so 600 pounds total.  As I mentioned last time, one person can carry 300 pounds before movement is seriously impaired.  With gear and other supplies it seemed we could split the wood out between the three of us and be able to get over there with almost enough to get things going.  Skronk revised his shelter estimate down and under 300 units seemed viable.

I did point out that in my previous expeditions I had discovered the area was populated by fir trees, which we could chop down with our flint axes.  Wood seemed to be in ample supply over there, so long as we were able to find the time to cut it down.

Laden with supplies, we gathered on the raft to set sail to the Black Forest.

Setting sail for a new land

There was some discussion as how to best ride as a passenger.  Falling overboard could mean death.  Skronk had already drowned just steps from the shore as I stood watching, helpless to do anything.  There isn’t a “grab somebody and haul them up” command that I know of.

Skonk had read that remaining seated was a good option, and so he and Ula… Unna in our world… started.  And then we got into open water and the swells started to roll the raft and water came over it now and again up to the chins of those seated before the raft bobbed up to the surface again.  It wasn’t as bad as my previous rides at their worst, but it was disconcerting.

Ula opted to stand up and hold onto the mast, which you can do.  If you target over the mast, there is the option E to hold on.  She rode that way through the rough weather.

Unna at the mast

Also, I might take a moment to note how you can see other people’s health bars floating above them quite vividly.  Your own health is tucked way down in the bottom left corner of your screen, which on my monitor puts it outside of my peripheral vision if I am focused on tasks at the center of the screen.  So we’re often prompting each other about health status.

With rough seas and an uncooperative wind blowing against us, it took more time than expected to get over the water to our destination.  We could see the campfire left from my first attempt and sailed a bit up the coast to a point where there was a sheltered bay and a bit of a peninsula.   That looked promising, so I put the boat against the shore and we leaped off and began hurrying to set up.

There were some dangerous creatures about made worse by the fact that it was the dark of night as we landed.  The initial thought was to put a palisade wall across the head of the peninsula to keep creatures out.  As we were working on that a group of greys showed up and I went out to cover Skronk as he threw up a base and ended up dying.  That was awkward.

When you die you go back to your spawn point, which is your bed.  That put me back at our first base, where I had to scrounge about for the parts to make another raft.  The one thing I was missing was wood.  We had scraped up all we had to bring with us.  Fortunately I had stuck my old stone axe in a chest, so was able to run out and harvest some in the dark.

Meanwhile, I could hear Skonk and Ula scrambling on coms to build their perimeter.  They were also facing a wood shortage as I died with 100 units of wood on my corpse which was no longer available for them to use.  I could hear the rush to chop down nearby trees as they fought off greys and avoided the crashing timber.  I had the distinct impression that at least one tree fell on their work in progress and set them back.

I made my raft and sailed back to them, arriving with the dawn to find they had a palisade perimeter setup.

Arrival back at the new base

I had now crossed the water five times in that direction and only three time in the other.  That is like a pilot whose takeoffs and landings don’t match.

I hopped ashore, grabbed the stuff off of my corpse, dropped half of the wood I had in a chest Skronk had built, then tried to help get things settled.  We needed beds to set spawn points and a roof and a fire to be able to sleep, and more things besides.

Just to keep us on our toes we got one of those events.  The signal came that the forest was moving and the greys came out of the dark to attack us.  We threw up a ladder against the wall and build some platforms to stand on in order to use bows to thin out their ranks.

The forest is alive tonight

That subsided are a bit.  We eventually got beds setup and spawn points set, the started working on defense some more, refining our archery platforms and clearing our the space before the gate and adding a fire to help illuminate targets.  The greys seemed keen to visit over and over.

On the wall again

As we developed our defenses, we pushed the front wall out to encompass the cleared zone to give ourselves a bit more of a buffer and some space to stack wood and rock for use later.

A new fire set out to illuminate… and distract attackers

Skronk was able to setup a nice longhouse for us with beds, a fire for cooking, a storage area, and a work bench with all the upgrades we could manage.

Our new home over the water

Then it was time to strike out and see what was about.

There was copper ore right up the hill from us.  Upon reaching it Hugin showed up to tell us all about it.

Hugin explains about ore and cores

There was also a neighbor up the hill.  I heard some new noises… Valheim is definitely a game where you need to pay attention to the environmental sounds… and I saw the source through the woods.

A troll spotted

That was one of those moments, like when I first spotted a cyclops striding around West Karana back in early EverQuest where I said, “Wow!” and was surprised and impressed.  He seemed to be content in his spot up the hill, so I left him alone.

We went up the coast to retrieve the raft that was left behind from my first failed expedition.  We found lots of tin ore along the water there and I was able to grab the remaining items off of my corpse, still down in the hole, before grabbing the raft and sailing it back.  We needed that raft as the greys had destroyed the one parked in front of the base in the sheltered bay.  You cannot leave items unattended.  Even the greylings back at our old base destroyed some of our stuff outside of our perimeter… including another raft.

Down in the other direction Ula and I discovered some skeletons guarding what looked to be a tomb of some sort.  The skeletons were fighting some greys when we showed up, and seemed to get the better of them.  Then we got a little too close and the skeletons came for us.  But we were able to dispatch them readily.  As we got closer to the tomb Hugin appeared once again to tell us all about our find.

Time for some dungeons

So we were clearing in the right neighborhood for further adventure.

Of course, it became clear to me later that this who expedition was not strictly necessary.  As I noted in the comments on the last post, I had misunderstood Hugin’s mention of the Black Forest, thinking it was a specific fixed location we needed to find.  Instead, the Black Forest is just one of the biome types in the game.  We just had not stumbled upon one in our initial exploration, though later one was discovered back by our initial camp in a direction we simply had not explored.  We could have had trolls and such there if we had looked about more.

But we had fun.  It was quite an adventure and now part of our tale in the world.

Traveling to the Black Forest in Valheim

In the previous Valheim post I mentioned that, on slaying Eikthyr and crafting the hardened horn pick axe, Hugin had swooped in to tell us about the mineral riches of the Black Forest.  Since we were keen to make metal tools that seemed like our next destination.

But I had already found the place.  Before we got to Eikthyr I had been out exploring on the raft and had sailed to an island across the water from our camp.  There, on landing, it announced that I had arrived in the Black Forest.

Welcome to the Black Forest!

Hugin showed up as soon as I got that message and told me I had things to take care of first.

Hugin speaks of other things

If I was not convinced by his statement about danger, the locals showed up… greylings and others of their family, whom I will refer to collectively as “the greys” going forward… and set upon me quite viciously.

It was very much a “Jock, start the plane!” event as I ran for the boat, jumped aboard, and started backing away from shore, a number of the greys still in pursuit, swimming after me.

Paddling backwards as fast as I can

So it was that later, after we had defeated Eikthyr, I knew where to set sail.  I thought I might be able to slip in a ways up the coast from where I first landed and build a little base that we could use as a foothold from which to operate in the Black Forest.

I loaded up some supplies and set sail once more.  It takes about half a game day minimum to sail across the water from our base to the land where the Black Forest lies.  Of course, that is when the wind cooperates and the seas are calm.  Sometimes the seas are pretty rough… rough enough to damage to raft as you ride up and crash down on the rolling swells.

Riding up a swell

Unfortunately for me, both the sea and the wind were working against me, and by the time I arrived at the far end of my journey, it was night time… but still stormy and raining and otherwise inhospitable.

Land ho in the dark and stormy night

Things went poorly from there.  I started trying to build a palisade wall perimeter as soon as I landed, but in the dark and rain it was difficult to adapt to the terrain.  If I had waited for light I might have noticed some spots that ended up thwarting my original plan.  And then the greys started showing up.  There was off and on fighting as they dribbled in.  I was also trying to harvest more wood and my axe was wearing out.

At one point I needed some more stone so retreated back to a rock outcropping on the water to use my pick axe to dig up some.  However a network glitch got me, the pick didn’t swing for a bit, buffered my clicks, then suddenly I found myself in a hole that I couldn’t jump out of… probably because I was over weight due to having just picked up a bunch of stone.

There is a weight limit of 300 pounds, after which your character struggles to move.

I started trying to dig forward to create a slope which would let me out of the hole when six greys showed up above me and started beating on me.  I died.

That was a very inconvenient place to die, as you respawn back at your bed, which for me was back across the water at our base.  I had actually built a bed, but never got walls and a roof over it, so could never use it.  Now I had to collect some supplies and put on my backup gear… my tattered rags and stone axe… build another boat, and sail back to see if I could collect some of my stuff.  That hardened horn pick axe was a difficult item to replace to start with.

Fortunately, the weather was a bit more cooperative on my return voyage, and I arrived in daylight and was able to spot the camp and my first raft.

The scene of the crime

The stone outcropping is dead ahead in the screen shot.  I pulled up, jumped off the raft, and jumped back in the hole to get my stuff.  I equipped the pick axe and dug the sloped ramp to get myself out and looted some more items off my corpse, but it wasn’t too long before that group of greys showed up again.  I had to fight my way out of the hole, leaving behind quite a bit of stuff, but nothing critical, and run for the raft.  Once again I sailed away with greys swimming in pursuit.

I made the trip back as the sun set, sailing in the dark and cold.  The good news is that being wet and cold and tired won’t kill you.

But it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to just half ass myself into a foothold in the Black Forest.  I spoke with Skronk and he started working on a resource plan to allow us to make the voyage and setup a defensible perimeter.  This first attempt was my Dieppe, a raid gone bad.  Next time we would shoot for something more akin to Normandy.

Deer Hunting in Valheim

After getting ourselves settled, both into a persistent server and into a secure base in the game, we started exploring and upgrading.  Skronk worked on our longhouse, upgrading it to keep the weather out, let the smoke out, and keep us from setting ourselves on fire.  We started hunting further afield, getting a better feel for our surroundings and the world.  We also upgraded our gear, which requires upgrading the workbench.

Soon I was out there in leather pants, tunic, and helm, looking more like a Viking, with my bow and flint arrows hunting the local deer.

The deer hunter

The deer are skittish… and loud… and stalking them takes a bit of patience.  And the bow itself requires a bit of a knack as well.  That deer is close enough that I might hit it, but I probably need to put the target above it for the arrow to hit true.

Of course, not everybody bought into the whole bow and arrow orthodoxy right away.

Skronk chased that deer into the drink, then kept on chasing

Things were going pretty well, but we seemed to have hit something of a plateau in gear and crafting.  We were still busy learning about things… like how food works, which is more complicated than you might imagine… but eventually we were clearing missing some breakthrough.  We could make a hoe, which can raise or level ground, but the pickaxe for digging and mining wasn’t on our list yet.  It was time to go look at the wiki.

There we discovered that you don’t get access to that digging tech until you have progressed past a milestone.  Specifically, you must defeat the first of the great foes as laid out by Hugin.  There is a spot over on the henge for the trophy.  It was time to find the mighty stag Eikthyr.

As it so happened, about when I was looking that up, Skonk was out exploring a bit and ran into Eikthyr’s altar.  It wasn’t too far from our camp and once somebody finds it everybody can see it on the map.

Our base and the altar on the map

I went back to the wiki to see what people had said about fighting Eikthyr.  The person who wrote that article seemed to think the fight was pretty easy.  All you needed was a shield and a flint spear and be able to block when Eikthyr poked at you and you would be set.

That sounded easy enough.  I had a shield already and had worked on my block with the local boars.  If you aggro them they will circle and charge you repeatedly, so you can build up your block skill.  I had not made a flint spear yet… I found the flint axe to be effective enough for all of my needs up to that point… but I had the resources to make one.  I put that together at the work bench and, once again, practiced on the local boars to make sure I could use it.  Then I went off to inspect the altar.

When I got up there Hugin, the raven of exposition, popped up to tell me about the altar.

Hugin explains it all

I had my spear and shield and knew what the offering was.  You need deer trophies to summon Eikthyr.  However, I looked in my bag and realized I had put boar trophies in there by mistake.  So I went off to hunt some local deer, which had me covered.  I placed the offering on the altar and things began to happen.

The sacrifice is made

And then Eikthyr appeared in the clearing and the world went as dark as night.

A wild Eikthyr appears!

He was big.  Also, you can see a bit of lightning in his antlers.  That builds up and he shoots lightning at you as one of his attacks.  You can actually block some of the damage with your shield, but it puts out enough hurt that some leaks through.

Missing from the “it’s easy” wiki entry was the whole “you need to fight in the dark where you can’t really see” and “Eikthyr gets help from the local greylings,” both of which might have been useful to know.

I was also not very experienced with the flint spear, so was not used to how it worked.  Each weapon or tool has a use bar that, so far as I can tell, represents the effort or stamina needed to use it.  With the flint axe I can get in many swings before that bar winds down.  With the flint spear you get maybe three good stabs with it, then the bar is empty and you have to wait a bit for another attack.  So my usual fighting method, which was to flail wildly with the axe until things were dead, was not applicable.  And I had to learn that on the fly in the middle of a boss fight.

This is typical of my rather slapdash efforts, just run on in and figure it out as you go.

I plugged away at him while trying to knock off the greylings that were harrying me from behind, but eventually things were going so badly that I tried to get away… and died.

Dead to Eikthyr

Being in the after world explains the light sting of death I suppose, but all my gear was up there with my corpse.  I ran back to grab it, thinking I had blow the encounter and would have to start again.

But no, as I got close to my corpse the world went dark again and Eikthyr’s health bar appeared.  He was still out there.  I grabbed my stuff just as he charged at me and fought a slow retreat as I tried to get my armor on while blocking him and getting in the occasional stab.

I died again, and did not make nearly as much progress.  I forgot to eat something to boost up my health, so went in there with only my base hit points.

Skronk was around and had been listening to my running commentary and hysterical outbursts on Discord voice.  He ran over to cover me as I ran back again to take another shot at Eikthyr.

Of course, in covering me, Skronk became part of the battle and hadn’t done anything to really prepare, so we ended up both dying.  But, by that point Eikthyr was down to just a bit of health.  No point in stopping now!

My glowing marker is easy to find in the dark

We headed back up the hill to where we last left Eikthyr, ran around, grabbed some of our stuff, and finally got in the final blow and brought him down.

Down at last

You can see… maybe… it is dark… that I only grabbed the spear and shield off of my corpse, the marker for which is still happily glowing there.  You can probably see the glowing red eyes of Eikthyr, undimmed in death.

Of course Hugin popped up right away to tell us what to do next.

I probably could have guessed this part

So it was back down to camp and the stones to hang Eikthyr’s head as the first of the trophies collected to appease Odin.  Mounting the trophy enabled us to collect a special ability.

Eikthry’s blessing or some such

Once you activate the power you have it and can trigger it.  It lasts for a short bit and has a coll down for re-use… 20 minutes I think… so you can use it at need.

Eikthyr also dropped several pieces of hardened antler, which is the ingredient needed to make the antler pickaxe, the tool we were looking for.  Having created that, Hugin once again appeared to tell me about the next goal.

Hugin tells me about tin and copper

Now that we had the pick axe we could mine for tin and copper.  We just needed to get to the Black Forest.  On the plus side, I had actually already discovered the Black Forest.  On the downside, setting up camp there seemed like it was going to take some effort.

But for the moment, we had our first trophy hung up.

It glows nicely at night

The Black Forest would be next.

Valheim with Friends

Once Skronk, Ula, and I all had copies of Valheim on Steam, it was time to try and play together.

This was not as easy as one might expect.

Actually setting up the game to play with your friends is pretty easy.  It is designed to support up to 10 players in a world for co-op play.  But the popularity of the game on Steam has somewhat overloaded Valve’s ability to deal with so many attempts to share the experience among friends.

It took us a while to meet up in a shared space.  Ula had rolled up a character and was trying to share her world, but I couldn’t find it on the list.  There are two server lists.  The first is the community list, which is everybody who is sharing a server flagged for all to see.  Everybody seemed to be doing that because there is also sub-list of servers that shows just those from people on your friend’s list, and that didn’t seem to be working.

And the community list… that is a long list and seems to be capped at displaying ~4,922 servers, so if you don’t make the select for that range, you aren’t visible.

After some back and forth she managed to see my server when I tried sharing it and was able to join.  Op success!  Hitting refresh and being patient seem to be clutch.

Once there and on voice, I was able to share the few nuggets of wisdom I had acquires… the Tab key is you inventory, make an axe then a hammer, and beware the fire… and then we had the world to explore.  Skronk showed up a bit later and we were all able to get ourselves settled into the rather squalid little hut I had built.  If I had known I was going to have company…

All of us in the hut

The hut was less planned and more an quick attempt to build a shelter that met the game requirements.  I made a bed, then when I went to sleep in it I got the message that it needed to be near a fire.  So I built a fire next to it.  Then I needed a roof.  The work bench also needed a roof.  But when I closed off the ends the whole thing filled with smoke, so I took the ends off and slept in the wind tunnel.

But that was enough to meet the minimum shelter requirements.

And the reason I kept setting myself on fire is that after the sleep cycle I would get out of bed, step into the fire, catch fire, and… well, then I was on fire.

I also managed to set myself on fire whenever I would cook.  It was a common enough occurrence that I put up a sign and would cook whenever it was raining out.

Burning Man Crossing

But, as with Minecraft, sharing a world enhances the experience dramatically.  There is a division of labor, somebody around to help you out, and the usual comedy of discovering how the game works.

One of the points of high comedy involved felling trees for wood.  Skonk went up above our encampment for lumber and, having been warned by Ula how I had almost killed the both of us by felling a tree that knocked over another and fell on us, set himself up hill from the tree he was working on, speaking about logging safety.

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay

And then, as he felled the tree, it tipped back over and landed on him, injuring him greatly.  Then it bounced up hill a bit, stopped, then rolled back down over Skronk, killing him.  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t take a screen shot and almost didn’t get out of the way of the tumbling tree, which had gained speed and was rolling straight towards me.

The physics are fun.  The first tree I felled is witness to that.  I did it near the water’s edge and it rolled right off the land and into the drink, where it floats still.

Having a group together also helped when there was a message that Eikthyr was rallying the creatures of the forest and suddenly animals were running at us on the attack.

Holding an Eikthyr Rally at our camp

Once that subsided Hugin showed up to explain that this sort of thing happens and maybe we should build up some defenses.

Hugin, late with the info again

Actually, I have these two events in reverse order.  Skronk was out chopping wood, as were we all, because it was time to build up a wall around our camp.

Our camp now enclosed

We were having a good time, but I needed to go, at which point we learned a bit more about how shared worlds work.

The data for your characters and the world itself are stored on your local drive.  This is another thing that makes Valheim more like Minecraft than an MMORPG.  As Raph Koster recorded the laws of online world design, “The client is in the hands of the enemy.”  I suspect that this will become an issue at some point as somebody will make a hack that will give you max skills and gear and a whatever else.  But that is in the future.

What this means is that you can take your character, and whatever they have in their inventory, off to worlds other than your own.  This is kind of handy, in that it means you do not have to start from scratch on every world.

For the world data, it means if you are sharing your world and you log off, anybody on your world gets kicked as well.  This was not going to stand.

Fortunately, Valheim has an executable that will run a server for you… again, like Minecraft.  Really, the Minecraft parallels are quite pronounced, though not in a bad way.  Anyway, that means you can right now go out and find a hosting service to create a persistent shared world.

This, as it turns out, is part of the shared worlds problem, as it is overwhelming Steam.

Since we were having fun and it looked like we would continue to do so, I started checking out hosting services and related information.  One of the problems is that a lot of the services were telling people to use the Servers option in the Steam client (View menu, Servers option) in order to connect to a persistent server.   Steam, however, wasn’t able to process this reliably, and you were most likely to get a

Steam is the issue here, not your hosting service

This was making a lot of people angry and I pity the poor support people being hounded, though from what I saw in forums and on Reddit, they were also not very good at explaining the problem.  They were also not mentioning that you may not need to even go this route.

Servers set up correctly are also finable in the community servers window if you have been smart enough to find the place in your server settings.  I found this bit of info in one of the FAQs over at the Nodecraft hosting site.  On learning this, I went to the community server search window and started putting in the names of hosting companies I had found on Google into the search and found a few that came up in large numbers.

This, of course, is also part of the problem.  That search window only supports so many rows returned it seems and now every persistent hosted server is trying to appear on the list all the time.

But we managed it.  Our world is up on a hosted site.  I was able to FTP the world files across so we could carry on as before. (Once I realized that I had WinSCP set to to SFTP because of work, and not standard FTP.)  I was willing to start over… as I said, you can carry over your character with their skills and inventory… but we had made enough progress that I wanted to carry on if we could.

I ended up going with G-portal.com for no specific reason other than they were consistent with the pricing of other hosting sites ($15 a month) and had a data center in LA rather than Dallas of Phoenix.

So now our camp is evolving.  Skronk went in and did some work on it, got a floor laid, added something like a chimney, and moved the fire so I wouldn’t keep setting myself on fire every morning.  Might have to change that sign.

Our camp once more

Now that we are setup, it is time to see a bit of the world and work on advancing our technology.

 

A First Look at Valheim

Valheim.  I had not even heard of the game until late Saturday afternoon when Ula mentioned it in Discord.

Valheim on Steam

I didn’t have anything going on that evening and made that most egregious gamer purchasing decision, which is buying anything after 8pm when you’re feeling a bit bored.

I have many an unplayed or underplayed game in my Steam library due to such moments.

But Valheim… is pretty good.

In the game you are a Norse warrior who has died, but rather than finding yourself in Valhalla, you end up being dropped off in Valheim, the neglected tenth world, by one of Odin’s pet ravens, Huginn.  Or Hugin… for Norse copyright reasons?  In order to make it to Valhalla you have some work to do there in order to gain Odin’s favor.

Hugin explains it all

But you’re wet, tired, naked, it is probably night time, and there is stuff out in the darkness that wants to kill you.  And so begins the classic “start with nothing to build an empire” trek.

This, but first person

At this point Valdheim will seem fairly familiar to games like Medieval Engineers, H1Z1: Just Survive, Amazon’s New World if you’ve been in any of the testing phases, or even Minecraft or RimWorld in their own ways.  You start with next to nothing and have to survive, then build up, then begin to master the world.

So off you go to gather some wood and some stones to make a stone axe.  With that you can chop some trees for more wood… and start killing the local boar population for meat and leather.  Then you can make a hammer which unlocks the start of your building options.  Soon you are working on a bed, a fire, a workbench, and a place to house it all.

Hugin telling me about things

As noted above, this probably sounds like a somewhat familiar formula.  So what makes Valheim special?

For openers, it works.  Well.  A $20 game that has been in early access on Steam for a week has no right to be this solid.  It is in danger of making people think that early access isn’t some shit tier for devs to try and make some money from their broken, half done game ideas.  My first two hour play session saw nary a glitch.

It also looks good.  Better than it should.  When you get a close look at things they can be pixelated and the polygon count becomes a bit obvious, and the distance is taken care of in a soft focus sort of way, but in between, which is where you spent most of your time, the world looks really good.

Graphics from near to far

Again, better than fresh $20 early access game ought to.  And the atmospheric effects in the passing of the day, the darkness of night, the wind and rain and fog… it is all very good.

It also runs, full screen, on my widescreen 34″ monitor without complaint, looks good, and doesn’t make me motion sick.  A triple bonus.

And it is kind of fun.  There is the sandbox like ability to just run off and do what you want, but there are also some goals and a story for you to play through if you want, with Hugin showing up to tell you what is going on when something new springs up in the world, like if you die.

I set myself on fire by accident

Death is a transitory experience… you are dead already after all… but if you want your stuff back there is a corpse run involved.  Your respawn point is your bed, which is very Minecraft.

And the big story, your mission in the game, should you choose to accept it, is there waiting for you.  You have trophies to acquire for Odin’s pleasure.

Hugin has information, not a quest

Accomplishing Odin’s mission means exploring the world, and it is both large and dangerous.

Oh, and there are boats.  I built a raft pretty quickly and was able to set sail.

Messing around with boats

So some of that world exploration will be done afloat.

And the whole thing is multiplayer co-op capable, allowing 1-10 players in a world.  And the worlds are all procedurally generated from a seed value, so can be quite varied.

It is still in early access of course, and a work in progress.  Some aspects lack as many options as one might expect.  Character creation is very simple.

Norse blondness slider

But it seems very solid.

The UI is typical FPS in that you move with WASD and point/aim with your cursor.  The UI conventions are different… especially if you’ve been playing a lot of WoW Classic lately… but are simple, robust, and clear once you get used to them.

Based on my scouting out the game and the glowing reviews it is getting on Steam, Skronk and Ula have also picked up a copy.  My next post will likely be about our attempts to play together in Valheim.

And it seems we won’t be the only ones playing.  The game appears to have grabbed some attention.

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