Category Archives: Valheim

March in Review

The Site

As of a post earlier this week I had a post up every single day for an entire year.  The last day here on the site without a post was March 27, 2020.

Filled in the blocks for a full year

Like a lot of such achievements, I did not set out to do this, but once I noticed it was happening it became a thing.  I rolled into last April with a plan to post every day due to the Blapril event.  Making it through that I had enough momentum to bring me through May and into June.  Then a war started brewing in EVE Online, which was fresh and exciting in late June of last year, but which has grown routine by now.  That gave me a lot to post about and I decided to stretch my posting run into August for the Blaugust celebration.  And once I had gotten through that I had almost a half a year streak going, so why not carry on.

As for what it means… well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  It is my own little post streak.  I think the previous such streak went for four months.  I just have to decide how much it really means to me to have an unbroken run of daily posts, because once I let it lapse it will take me at least a year to get back.

I will say that it is a good thing  I made it to this milestone, such that it is, this week.  Because this week saw finally delete the old classic editor, which I have been using for more than 14 years at this point, in order to force users into their new block editor, which was designed by a sadist and implemented by people who clearly don’t have to use it.  It impedes my ability to write.

Seriously, it sucks.  Even the classic block, which they claim is the same as the classic editor, sucks.  Features are missing, it keeps asking me if I want to convert to other blocks, everything takes a few more clicks to accomplish, and it is rather insistent that 24 time doesn’t exist. And don’t get me started on what happens to a post if you accidentally click that persistent “convert to blocks” button if you’re working in the classic block tab. I had to throw away a post and start over it was so mangled.

And they also did away with the old dashboard and stats, so even managing posts and comments and such is a huge pain in the ass now.  And data I used for things like my annual review post… well, that is just no longer accessible.

It is all a punch in the gut that doesn’t make me enthusiastic to post every day.

I sent in a complaint detailing all of this and I expect to hear back from one of their “Happiness Engineers” ignoring everything I wrote and gushing about how wonderful the block editor is with a link to a video.  The next helpful response I get from them will be the first.

Addendum: I enabled the new “Advanced Dashboard Pages” option and got back the ability to use the old Classic Editor once more. So yay! Why it was linked to that option I cannot explain, but I’ll take it.

One Year Ago

Oh man, it was the start of the pandemic lockdown, the March that lasted forever as we all learned how to stay home.  Fortunately I received a Ninendo Switch Lite for my birthday to keep me busy.

I did another poll about which voice service people were using.  Discord swept the poll.

I summed up the Winter Fantasy Movie League run, but FML was soon put on a pause due to theaters being shut.

Gamigo CEO Remco Westerman was unironically going on about synergy.

I was still playing a bit of EverQuest II, though it was mostly the Overseer feature getting me to log in.  EverQuest turned 21, which brought with is new servers, server merges, and other special items.  We got a free heroic upgrade… to level 85… which I used on one of my characters.

The big news from Daybreak though was Holly Longdale, who had been running the Norrath franchise for the company, leaving for Blizzard.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working through Razorfen Downs before heading off to UldamanArchaedas was an issue, but with some suggestions we were able to finish him as a four person group.

I was also trying to farm the Hydrocane from Gnomeregan.

In EVE Online there was an early March update that brought us some changes, which was followed later with an update that included low sec and faction warfare changes as well as giving battleships a frigate escape bay.  CCP was also moving along with their economic privation plan, announcing the removal of minerals from moons.  The February MER was already showing mineral prices rising and this was expected to make them go higher still.

CCP threw more skill points at us.

There was a question as to whether of not there should be a shooter from CCP like Project Nova.

Out in space we were packing up to head home from VenalLiberty Squad was done as Terrifying League of Dog Fort corp, which was running the group, left the alliance to find adventure elsewhere.

There was a plan for Blapril, an early run at Blaugust, as we were all home with free time.

And there were some Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra, including some more about CCP’s Project Nova.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak announced that they were giving up on EverQuest Next.  That left me wondering what the future looked like for Landmark.  It wasn’t going to have PvP.

I also wrote up a post about all of the SOE/Daybreak MMOs and their then current (and mostly closed) status.  Things still looked pretty good for EverQuest at 17, though I wasn’t sure how experience injectors were going to play out in EverQuest II.

Also in EverQuest II the PvP version of their retro nostalgia server, Deathtoll, was getting folded into the PvE version, Stormhold, due to lack of interest, thus ending open world PvP in the game outside of that Russian server.  I was looking for nostalgia on the Stormhold side of things again.

Voting kicked off for CSM 11 with Xenuria on the official Imperium ballot.  How things change.

The monthly EVE Online update introduced Project Discovery and made it so you had to be mutual friends in order to track somebody’s online status in your contact list.  The month’s blog banter wanted people to imagine other games based off of the EVE Online IP, so I went with something akin to Diplomacy.

There were a bunch of little EVE Online things, like server upgrades, downtime compensation, and skill injector fun that I put into one bullet points post.  I like those posts when I do them, I hate them a year later when I want to do my summary.  It is easier when each topic has its own post!

Fighting was going on as the Casino War widened.  Some of the coalition was staged in Saranen, which meant flying quite a ways to defend territory on the far side of Tribute, including an unfortunate event with a Higgs anchor rig on my Guardian.  There were things going on in several regions, including a really good brawl in Fade.

Then the weight in numbers began to tell as we had to fight fires on several fronts.  I wondered if we were going to have a last stand at VFK-IV.  The plan, however, was not to waste ships against the superior numbers arrayed against us.  Instead we gave up territory, announcing the abandonment of the Vale of the Silent region, occupied by Lawn and Bastion, with one constellation owned by Circle-of-Two.  CO2 decided to leave the Imperium over this in order to save their territory, which would soon be the front line in the war, betraying us even as the fight was still going on in M-OEE8.  Once the war was over their new friends turned on them and took their territory anyway.  Who says there are no happy endings?

The M-OEE8 fight was still a big one and got CCP some press.  That is one thing null sec is good for, bringing attention to the game.

Black Desert Online went live and much bitching about the cash shop ensued, so I couldn’t resist jumping on that bandwagon yet again.  The cash shop is a necessary evil at this point.

I was poking fun at VR, which is still struggling for relevance.  Meanwhile EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack went live with the official Occulus Rift launch.

Minecraft 1.9, the Combat Upgrade landed, giving us shields.  I stopped wearing one of those ages ago, as you can’t read maps, among other things, if you have one on.

In Minecraft Aaron’s zombie pig farm was causing MC Pro Hosting to lag out on us.  But we made the switch to the much more reasonably priced Minecraft Realms hosting option, which solved that issue.  Premium pricing was not getting us premium service.

In Diablo III I was chasing the Season 5 set dungeon.

And, finally, things looked grim for WildStar, with China cancelled, layoffs, and dwindling revenue.

Ten Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of ten years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 88) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.  And later it would sink below that number.  WoW Classic seemed to get it back up to that number again, though all such numbers from Blizzard are pretty vague these days.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?  Or 280 characters now I guess.

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting and eventually nudged me into blogging.  Trust me to pick up the old trend when a new one starts.  His site had fallen into disrepair over the years and, recently, disappeared altogether.  Time to pull it from the side bar I think.  I still have all the podcasts in my iTunes library, and you can peruse the site and descriptions over at the Internet Archive.

Twenty Years Ago

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance, the handheld model between the GameBoy Color and the Nintendo DS.  Games for the GBA were still available when I eventually got a Nintendo DS as it had a GBA cartridge slot to allow backward compatibility.

Thirty Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, an online multiplayer Dungeons & Dragons themed game launched on AOL.  In an age of text and MUDs, it was an online graphical multiplayer RPG and either one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs, depending on how you want to define the “massive” part of the acronym.

Sierra Online launched The Sierra Network… their name having “online” in it before they had an actual online presence was a mistake in hindsight I suppose… which includes the title The Shadow of Yserbius as part of the package, which was also an online graphical multiplayer RPG (or a graphical MUD as they called it), which also gives it a claim to either being one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. The Federation Grand Prix Starts in EVE Online with Events and Login Rewards
  2. Death on the Plains in Valheim
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  6. Robbing Some Space Banks
  7. SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue
  8. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  9. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  10. CCP Now Just Baby Steps from Selling EVE Online Skill Points Directly
  11. Diablo II Act Five and some Thoughts
  12. What Does LOTRO Need?

Search Terms of the Month

valheim keep dying in black forest
[Wait until you walk into the plains!]

i came upon fulings and died valheim
[Yeah, though the deathsquitos are worse]

why cant i buy large skill injectors with plex?
[Sell the PLEX, use the ISK, problem solved]

eve online casino
[That was the war five years back]

eve online what is really going on in null
[Damn if I know]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Let me know when you undock]

why it’s all about money just bomb ccp get rid of them
[What were you even searching for?]

making fake favebook profit for oculus
[Favebook is like that]

how to clean pokewalker
[Don’t put it in the washing machine!]

Game Time from ManicTime

Once again this month saw Valheim take up most of my focus. The time split was as follows:

  • Valheim – 84.71%
  • EVE Online – 10.90%
  • WoW Classic – 4.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.10%

At this point Valheim is where I have spent about half of my gaming time so far this year. In the first half of the month I had more time on it that in my main browser. (Though, to be fair, I have to split between Firefox and Chrome for work related items.)

EVE Online

The war carries on.  I’ve said that a few times, haven’t I?  This past month was a bit lighter for me that January and February.  My participation status shows over 100 ops in the last 90 days, but only about 15 of those were in the last 30 days.  Blame Valheim a bit, but more it is the fact that no grand events have been happening really.  I did do the Federation Grand Prix for the SKINs on an alt, but that was another story.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I both made it to level 41.  It wasn’t that tough of a climb.  We were helped along by the fact that we had accumulated some xp after hitting level 40 but before the new levels were announced.  Not as much as some… I have people in my friends list who have as much as 60 million xp pre-done… but it boosted us along a bit.  Now for level 42.

Level: 41 (15% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 628 (+9) caught, 656 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 12
Pokemon I want: Need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Frogadier


As you can see from the ManicTime numbers, this is the title that dominated my gaming time again this month.  Right now on our world we’re ready to slay Moder once we can get on together and then we will be moving towards the plains. 

World of Warcraft

I did log into retail WoW, though only for Darkmoon Faire and a few pet battles.  I did nothing out in the Shadowlands expansion.  The events there have skipped far enough ahead of me that I likely won’t ever catch up.  My renown remains meager and such.

WoW Classic

While the instance group has been mostly focused on Valheim, I did find a bit of time to run around with my paladin alt.  I’d like to get him up to 60… or at least 58… before Burning Crusade Classic shows up.

Coming Up

Well, tomorrow is April Fools, so I am pretty sure some of you can guess what the post of the day will be about.  It is the same thing every year.

In Valheim we have two bosses left to take on.  We might actually accomplish that and get back to spending a bit of time in  WoW Classic, though I suspect we’ll keep the Valheim world up and keep building and such.  It has a Minecraft-like appeal in that.

I expect that we’ll start getting some news about a timeline for Burning Crusade Classic.

And in EVE Online CCP is ready to turn industry upside down by changing dramatically how all ships larger than a battlecruiser, plus all T2 and faction ships, are built.  When even the devs are predicting chaos and things taking 4-6 months to settle down you know we’re in for a wild ride.

Making the Dragur Fang Bow

With every boss defeated there is a new tier of materials and gear unlocked in Valheim.  This is a very MMO-esque aspect of the game, and not one without a hint of peril.  Too much of that and it becomes a grind.

But Valheim’s range of gear isn’t all that extensive, and upgrades don’t leap ahead in stats or protection with each upgrade, so it is a rather calm progression that works for me.

Collecting the resources, on the other hand… well, I seem to enjoy that, but if you’re not an explorer type who wants to see the world, I could see it becoming a bit of a drag.  Logistics as well, with metal being forbidden from portals.  It has become a bit of the challenge of the game for us and where we end up playing is somewhat dictated by that.

We started in our main base, which is pretty much at the world spawn point.  When it came time to refine bronze, much of our work was done in the base we built in the black forest to battle The Elder.  With iron we were back to our main base, shipping loads of iron across the water to it.  And now, with silver as the focus, the base named Dieppe has been upgraded to handle our current crafting needs as it sits at the foot of the largest mountain biome area we have yet found.

And it is there I have been on a bit of a silver binge.  I take the portal up the mountain, run over to the current silver node, mine out 20-22 units of ore, about all I can carry, then run back down the mountain to our base, start it smelting, and take the portal back up again.  This has left us with a couple of chests full of silver and I have been using some of it to outfit myself.

Armor was first, especially since the frost resist effect, so necessary in the mountains, was part of a couple of the pieces.  But after that it was time for weapons, and the first on the list was a new bow.

The Dragur fang bow is currently the best bow in the game and I was happy to get my hands on it as soon as I could.

The Dragur Fang in hand

Making it requires silver, which I was hauling down the mountain, and ancient bark, which we have in abundance, as you find it in swamp crypts as well as in every ancient tree in the swamp.

Then there was guck, a material I had only discovered by accident when I was trying to figure if those green blisters on trees in the swamp might be used for something.  A bit of trial and error with one at blister at ground level showed that a pick axe would pop them after a few blows, and I received one unit of guck, which unlocked the recipe for the bow.

But you need 10 guck to make the bow and 22 guck total for a fully upgraded bow and I wasn’t seeing a lot more guck blisters down at ground level in my swamp exploration.  There are, however, more further up in the trees, though the trees they inhabit cannot be chopped down.  So I built a work bench nearby and then some ladders to get up into the trees to harvest.

Up the ladder for guck

On the bright side, the higher up the blister, the more guck that seems to come out.  Three ladders up I got one that dropped 6 guck, so at least I did not have to find 21 more such blisters.

My guck in the bag, I was able to go back to base and craft my bow… and then immediately upgrade it all the way.  And I am pretty happy with the bow.

It has a bigger knock-back than the huntsman’s bow I was using, which comes in very handy at times, like when I am on alone and I get that “The Ground is Shaking” alert that a troll raid is on the way.  Then I scurry up to the stone tower at the front of the base and start shooting trolls.  The knock-back puts them off balance for a bit so that swapping targets, along with a bit of luck, has kept them from tearing the guard tower down.

Repelling the troll attack

If I remember to swap to obsidian arrows and get a good opening shot, a troll is now down in 3-4 shots.   Maybe 5-6 if I forget and am still using the wooden arrows, which I carry around to shoot lesser mobs.

The poison damage the bow has, which seems to get applied as a DoT, is fun as well.  There have been a few times that I have failed to kill a drake up in the mountains with my second shot, only to see it fall out of the air a few seconds later because the poison finally landed.

The bow has also made sea serpents fair game.  Early on I would run for shore when I heard the cry of a serpent.  With the huntsman’s bow I could drive them off at sea, occasionally killing one before it got away.  The Dragur Fang bow, with obsidian arrows, now makes a serpent a fairly reliable kill.  When I hear the cry I stop the boat and get ready to shoot.

Waiting for the serpent to show

I have started killing them regularly enough when I am afloat that we have begun to build up a supply of serpent stew, which is the best food we have access to right now, and which we save for big fights.

Cooking up some serpent before making the stew

I have even managed to kill a couple close enough to shore to retrieve their scales which, unlike the meat that floats on the water, drop to the bottom of the sea if you’re out too deep.  I collected enough to make the serpent scale shield.

Serpent Scale Shield

It is a tower shield, which slows you down a lot when equipped, so I tend to just use the silver shield I made.  But if I need to go toe-to-toe with trolls, this works nicely.

So the bow has been pretty great so far.  It is accurate, hits hard, and looks good.  But it does have an issue.  That glow on it looks cool, right up until you’re trying to hit a target moving from left to right in front of you.  Then that glow has a bad habit of obscuring the target.

That glow is really annoying in the dark too

But otherwise, the bow has been a very good upgrade for me, and worth the effort in silver mining and guck harvesting.

Notes from the Mountains of Valheim

With our turn to the mountain biomes of Valheim, there has been a focus on silver, the next critical resource.  As with the turn from copper to iron, going from iron to silver made me wonder how hard or easy it was going to be to find sufficient silver nodes to supply our needs.

Using the wishbone from Bonemass, I have been able to spot enough silver nodes so far that I think we’ll manage.  Some of the silver is pretty close to the surface, but if you get the high pitched fast ping from the wishbone, nodes can be pretty deep.  Fergorin and I dug ourselves at least two viking warrior heights into the rock at one point before we hit the node.

I have also come up with a few items from my experience so far.

  • Silver Nodes can be Big

After digging down and finding the silver, I have gone through a couple iterations of thinking “This is the last bit” only to dig a bit more and reveal more silver.  The veins keep going and I have ended up with some large holes in the ground in getting the last bits out.  The mountain is starting to look like Nevada, with open silver pits for people to fall into.

I have take to trying to scrape away and reveal full nodes before I start harvesting, and they can be sizable.

Silver vein exposed

That isn’t as big as some of the copper nodes, but the density is much higher.  You get more ore per bite, and the bites are smaller.  Also, that node ran deeper than it looks.  It is kind of an interesting twist to actually be digging out veins of ore from under ground rather than the surface nodes favored by nearly every MMORPG.

  • Silver is Heavy

Well, it is heavier than copper, tin, or scrap iron.  I had optimized myself to being able to carry ~33 of each of those… a full stack plus a couple extra pieces… when mining.  With silver I can manage ~23, which means I am running more relays back and forth to haul silver ore to the smelter down at Dieppe base.

Likewise, after smelting, silver bars are heavier.  So there is a lot more walking back and forth.

  • Portals Are Key

Putting a portal up on the mountain turned out to be a huge win.  You still have to carry the ore down the mountain the hard way, but you can get back up the mountain immediately.    That was working out so well we now have a second portal up at the other end of the mountain biome from our first.

Two mountain portals

I found a nice stone tower complex in the south that I cleared out and built up a bit.  As the label indicates, it is also near Moder’s altar, the next world boss we need to fight.

We’ll be fighting down there at some point

Having the portals also makes harvesting stone from your digs very easy.  I haul the silver ore down the hard way, then run stone through the portals for use later.  I have managed to revamp Dieppe base with all of that stone.

Nice new crafting area

I’ve also managed to pave the whole compound, so we’re not tromping through the mud every time we go out.

  • Stone Collapse Fun

Digging stone for stone’s sake can be a chore.  But I did figure out a couple of ways to speed things up.  The big dome-like stone outcroppings in the mountains are a good target.  As with buildings, you can mine them out and they’ll stay standing so long as there is even a small connection with the ground.  But if you focus on the base and sever the top from the ground, it will suddenly collapse into a shower of stone.

Stone harvesting time

Then you just have to haul it off.

  • Stone Golem Harvesting

An alternative is to use your friendly neighborhood stone golem to do the digging for you.  I have gotten my fighting technique down pretty well now, using the iron mace and shield, and take very little damage if I block correctly… something made easier by the golem doing one attack, then a second, then wandering around a bit before it attacks again.

I just kite the golem over near a stone outcropping, put my back to it… which keeps me from getting knocked back… and let the golem take some shots at me.  He’ll nicely break up a bunch of stone that you can harvest once you’re done with him.

So we seem to be doing okay in the mountains so far.

One change I have noticed since the defeat of Bonemass is the population of hostile mobs down in the meadows.  That gets dialed up with every boss.  Now there are a lot of greys wandering around, up to and including brutes.  But they have also introduced skeletons into the mix.  They are all over now, and they fight with the greys.  Some sometimes I get back from the mountains and find the front yard of the base littered with the remnants of their battles.

Another mess out front

Now I have to go out and clean it all up.  We’ll never lack for resin or skeleton bones, and a bit of extra wood and stone if useful I guess.

From the Shore to the Mountains in Valheim

Since we had polished off Bonemass it was time to turn our eyes towards the next target biome, the mountains.

We had run into mountains quite a while back, including the freezing effect that drains your hit points once you wander into that biome, the gate to keep those unprepared away.  Mountains are all over as the map tracking my explorations shows.

However, there are mountains and there are mountains.  My map also shows a bunch of small mountain biomes you could walk across and still have most of the day left to go elsewhere.

But we were in luck when it came to mountain biomes.  We had stormed ashore and set up an outpost across the water from our main starting base early on in search of a black forest biome.  That turned out to be somewhat unnecessary as there were other block forest biomes to be found closer to home, had we ventured far enough.  Our outpost was perhaps better known to us as being a place where trolls and greys wandered and sometimes a starting point for exploration.

I mined quite a bit of copper and tin out there, and had even set up a smelter and a forge in order to avoid shipping it by boat to the main base, but the base we ended up fortifying for our assault on The Elder received more attention, getting our first stone walls and a nice stone building even before our main base.  I did eventually put up some stone walls at Dieppe after an incident, but that was after Elder base and our main base had been redone in stone.

Dieppe with stone walls up front now

With focus on the swamps, that base, named Dieppe, sat neglected for a stretch, save as a harbor for exploration runs.  And then, in the prep for Bonemass I needed to get some drops to make frost arrows and of all our bases, Dieppe was by far the closest to a mountain biome. You couldn’t actually see the mountain biome from the gate of the base, but you didn’t have to walk very far to see the snow.

Me on the map maybe 50 yards from the base

I had brewed up a few stacks of frost resist meads, which give you 10 minutes of frost protection in the mountains, and headed up there to hunt for supplies.

In the mountains clad in iron

I managed to run around without dying, though the mountains come with their own challenges.  I was glad I took a pile of sausages with me, as they give both a lot of hit points and stamina when consumed, and I needed both.

I have mentioned before that stamina management is very much a thing in Valheim, but it is all the more so in the mountains, where scrambling up hills requires you to run and jump quite a bit.  You end scrambling half way up a slope then looking for a rock or flat spot to perch on to rest as you stamina bar runs down.

And then there are the wolves.  They are not as tough as I thought, though they can show up in packs at times and if they catch you unaware, you will find yourself losing hit points fast.  I was two shotted by a one star wolf who I didn’t see.  But if you see them first they pop with a good bow shot or, if they are close, a blow from my iron mace knocks them below half heath with a single blow and stuns them for a moment, so you can bring them down before they even get a hit on you if you’re careful.

There are also the drakes, which were much more of an initial terror.  They scream at you as they fly in to attack, then stop, hover, and launch their frost attack down at you, which can be quite surprising.  Fortunately, it is a frost based attack, and since you probably have your frost resist on if you’re traipsing about the mountains, it barely does any damage.  Once I figured that out, they became more of a nuisance than a threat.  You hear the scream, equip your bow, spot them, pull back, and wait for them to hover for a nice clean shot.

Lining up another drake with my bow

With iron or obsidian arrows they are down in two hits.  If I am feeling cheap, wood arrows will kill them in three hits.  I generally keep a stack of wood arrows on me for hunting deer or seagulls, and sometimes I forget to swamp.

There are also werewolves out and about at night, but they are basically wolves without any good drops.

The main menace of the mountains are the stone golems, which are basically the trolls of the mountains, except that arrows are not very effective against them.  Like trolls, they are drawn to the sound of you digging with your pick axe, so if you’re out harvesting silver or obsidian or stone… we’ll get to that last… you have a chance of waking one up or drawing its attention if it is already up and wandering about.

I have yet to work out how to attack them.  As noted, arrows do not do much damage, though obsidian arrows will chip off a bit of damage with each hit, but you would need a full stack of arrows before you committed to that.

I read that the pick axe was effective against them, but you have to get in close to use it and if you mis-time and take the full blow from the golem, you’ll lose a lot of hit points.

I did have some luck using terrain against them initially.  They cannot go down steep slopes.  At one point I managed to get one trapped down in a bit below me, so I could rush in, hit him a few times, then pull back if I was taking too much damage.

Stone Golem in a pit

I also found that worked if I had dug myself deep enough mining, only I was down in the pit and the golem couldn’t reach me.  At one dig I sat there working away with a golem just above my head flailing away, unable to get at me.

Stone Golem above me as I worked

However, if you give them an opening, they will jump in the hole with you.  That generally gets them stuck in place so you can close with them and retreat as needed.

Time to finish him off

While I can divert most of their damage with my shield, their attack has such a knock-back that, unless I have something at my back to hold me in place, by the time I can close with them again I have to block once more.

You can juke their AI with the terrain by running up a slope they can’t use, which will send them off in another direction.  When you come back down and they’ll start back towards you.  Overall though, fighting them still involves trying a bunch of things looking for the best method.

Anyway, I got my supplies and enough silver and wolf hides to make the cloak that gives you frost resist and we went off to slay Bonemass.  After that, with the wishbones in hand, Fergorin, Crowbar, and I went to Dieppe so they too could learn about the mountains.

Crowbar and I considering a sleeping stone golem

Of course, hilarity ensued and everybody died.  Fergorin learned that you cannot hide in one of the many towers seeded about that mountain biome, as the stone golems will knock holes in them.

Fergorin’s corpse in a tower with a bite out of it

Before long we set up a little camp in a wooden building not too far off from that tower and decided that setting up a portal in the mountains would save us some running back and forth.  We would have to haul silver down the hard way, it being a “no portal” like other ore, but as a base camp to haul things up, and haul things down, it would be a boon.  Stone for base building seemed especially easy to find up on the mountain, it being made out of stone, so we could collect and portal it back easily.

That first portal stood for a bit, but I logged on to find it disconnected at one point.  As it turned out, a stone golem and a drake had a fight next to the house with the portal, and the golem knocked the tar out of the house, the way he did that tower, breaking the portal in the process.

But the house was only a temporary base in any case.  Fergorin had already been working on digging out a base to be fortified with stone and given a steep moat to keep the golems away.  I collected the bits and bought it down to the work in progress and set up the portal down there, then started digging some stone to help the building effort.

The fortified mountain base in progress

As for the biome itself, it is the biggest mountain area I have found so far.  While the trip to it from Dieppe is a short run, walking around its perimeter takes a full day/night cycle and I have yet to explore the whole thing.  Granted, that is due in part to the mountain terrain, which has its share of drops and steep slopes.  But there is a lot there to find.

Our mountain biome map

In the center there is also a wide are of lesser slopes to explore.

And, as I mentioned, there are stone towers around, often near peaks, several of which have the runstone that reveals the next boss, Moder.  You can see that is now marked on the map above.

One of the runestone for the reveal

I have actually been out to where the Moder fight will take place, so unlike the past two bosses, we won’t have to mount an expedition just to get ourselves set up for the fight.  There is even a tower close by, which seems like an opportune place to put another portal when the time comes.

The location to summon Moder

Also marked on the map are some locations where dragon eggs spawn.  You need three of them to summon Moder.  They also weigh 200lbs each, so they aren’t something you’ll just carry around in your back pocket.  When I found one the first time I struggled to get it back down the hill and through the portal to our main base, only to learn its sole use was to summon Moder, and for that I would need it back up on the mountain.

The comically heavy egg back at base

Well, there were plenty more back up there, so this one can just hang around the base.

Now we just need to gear up.  There is, of course, a whole new set of gear we’ll all need, and one of the prime ingredients is silver.  As I mentioned previously you need the wishbone from the Bonemass fight, the magic metal detector, to find most silver nodes in the mountains as they are hidden below the surface.  So we will be working on that.

Overthinking Bonemass

After the first two bosses ended up being more difficult than anticipated/advertised, Eikthyr’s surprise lightning and all the extras that showed up for The Elder, I was determined to approach the third boss in Valheim, Bonemass, with much more care.  Especially since every time I see that boss mentioned, it is explained that he represents a much more difficult fight than the first two.

Of course, the first thing we had to do was find him.

As with past bosses, his location was revealed once we found the right runed tablet to click on, this time in one of the swamp crypts we had been pillaging for iron scraps.  The location was way up north from our main base, well beyond where I had explored previously.  Bosses have multiple locations in the game, and later on in a crypt to the south I clicked on another tablet that showed a location for Bonemass to the south of our main base… that was even further away.  I would have put a screen shot of the map showing the spot relative to our main base, but I have to zoom out so far that all my notations blur together and cover everything up.  So it was a ways up north.

Fergorin had already been up that way exploring coastlines, so I had a bit of an idea where to sail.  I got in one of our trusty Karves and set out for the north to find the altar where we could summon Bonemass for the fight.

Setting sail for adventure

He appears in a swamp and my hope was to find a swamp with a nice little meadows area adjacent where would could set up a forward base from which to stage out attack.

As you move further away from the spawn point and henge at the center of the map, the more the mix of biomes favors higher level content.  Specifically, you end up with a lot of plains biome areas, an location we were not ready for.

So, as I approached the Bonemass marker on the map, I ended up encountering a lot of areas of plains, with the Bonemass swamp not only be adjacent to a large plains biome, but also sprinkled with little biomelets of plains around its coast.  It was just such a little patch of plains that introduced me to the deathsquito previously.

If I have a complaint about the procedural world generator, it would involve its habit of putting tiny biome strips in rather odd places.

And, as if to stoke my paranoia, a deathsquito appeared and came after me as I passed close to one of the small bits of plains.  I managed to kill it with a bow shot from the boat, but I quickly put some more distance between me and the coast.  I could see one of the giant bison wandering a little strip of plains, stomping random wandering Dragur and skeletons unfortunate to wander too close to it.  The biomes at war.

With visions of the plains, I went searching for a safer place to set up camp.  I found a nice sized meadows biome a short sail away.  It was also hemmed in by plains, but there was enough buffer that I felt confident in setting up a base in the middle of the meadows shoreline.

My camp across the straights from Bonemass

I had brought with me materials to make a portal to connect to our utility “explore” tagged portal back in out main base.  That set up, I built a perimeter fence and stocked up on supplies with an eye to making another amphibious assault to build a final outpost walking distance from the fight so we could respawn close by should the fight turn into a wipe.

The staging base in the meadows

I also read that one of the best weapons against Bonemass was frost arrows.  That required drops from drakes, which live up in the mountain biomes.  I had only seen a single drake up to that point, but I made some frost resist potions, which you need for your initial forays into the mountains lest you freeze, and found some drakes.  They turned out to be a bit of a push over with my bow, even with only flint arrows.  I was able to collect what I needed for the frost arrows, and even spotted an expose silver vein, a rare thing indeed, which allowed me to make the first piece of wolf armor, the cloak, which gives you the frost resist buff without the need for the potion.

The stagbreaker two handed hammer was also mentioned by some for dealing with adds in the fight, as it has an AOE affect that will pop the blobs that Bonemass summons.  Crowbar had made one, but didn’t like it that much, so left it in a chest.  I upgraded it to tier 4 and gave it a try in a swamp crypt, where its AOE can bring down mobs on the other side to muddy scrap piles without the need to get in close or use up your arrows.  It worked well for that.

With supplies laid in, including stacks of poison resist meads, I sailed again across the water to the swamp where Bonemass’ altar lay, looking for a safe spot to land in between the plains biomes, and found a likely cove a short distance away.  I was able to scout out the vicinity.  People talking about Bonemass mentioned a need to prepare the area before the fight, to get obstacles clear and minimize the amount of deep water close by.

Dude, cool skull altar!

On Saturday Crowbar and I were on and we decided to go to that prep.  We went through, to the staging camp, loaded up the boat with some materials, then sailed to the landing zone I had scouted.  A little ways away from the altar we cleared a bit of land and built a palisade perimeter and I put up another portal.  I had setup a connecting portal before we left, so once that was up we had direct access to our main base.

Out at the altar in some knee deep mist

Then we set about clearing the land around the skull altar for the fight.  As we were working, Crowbar asked if we should maybe build a tree house or something in order to position ourselves for archery.  I had seen that mentioned as well, and figured it would be good, so he set out to work on that.

I left for a while as Crowbar worked on a Swiss Family Robinson like set of platforms up in the trees.

Up on one of the platforms in the trees

Later in the evening, Crowbar, Fergorin, and I were all on and we were talking about the coming fight and decided that, since we had everything set up, we ought to give it a try.  I had been planning on having 4 or 5 of us for the fight, but what the hell.  It would be a good recon if nothing else, and we could escape through our portal if it was required.

We all got our best food… I had a few serpent stews left, which I handed out… and took our poison resist meads.  We had out bows ready and a stack of frost arrows each.  Crowbar and Fergorin got up on platforms ready to go, while I stood down at the altar, ready to summon Bonemass with 10 withered bones.

Deposit 10 withered bones to summon the boss

When everybody was ready, I used the bones and the message of the summoning appeared.  I scampered up the platforms of one of the trees, getting up before Bonemass noticed me.  He was there, a huge green blob.

Bonemass arrives

We let loose with our arrows, and found that we were all high enough that none of his attacks could reach us.

We sat up there, took aim, and shot, letting stamina build up as needed.  The serpent stew, in addition to a good hit point boost, adds a lot of stamina as well, which was probably more important to this fight.

Bonemass summoned a bunch of blobs, but they were stuck down on the ground with him.  At one point some skeletons showed up and attacked the blobs, but Bonemass knocked them out, which was probably the only thing he was able to hit.

The fight took a while and we went through a bunch of arrows, but we were never in danger while we stayed up on the platforms.  Eventually he was destroyed.

The mass is no longer moving

At that point Fergorin stepped to far and fell off of his platform into the mass of blobs, and I ran down with the stagbreaker and popped a bunch of them.  So at least I got to use it.

We collect the trophy and the three wishbones he dropped.  Hugin eventually showed up to tell me about the wishbone, which is really a magic metal detector.

He happened to have three in his gut

You need one up in the mountains to find buried silver nodes to mine… unless you luck out and find an exposed one like I did… though we would need many more to gear ourselves up again.

We then hung up the Bonemass on the correct stone.

The Bonemass outline was kind of the clue

That unlocked a new power for us to summon.

Defense against weapon damage

I hope that blunt is good versus stone golems.  There is an issue there I’ll get to later.

Another boss down, and it was easy enough that the next day, when Unna was on with Fergorin and I, we went back and did it all again.

Up on a platform again

Of course, it was probably easy because of all the work that went into setting it up.  The more you sweat in practice and all that.  He did actually manage to throw a couple of blobs up to my platform on the second fight, but with the poison resist mead up and my mace to hand, they didn’t last long.  I just had to be careful not to knock out and of the boards I was standing on.

So we had now mastered the swamps, having looted crypts, farmed tons of iron, and defeated the swamp boss.  It was time for a change of scenery.  It was time to finally ascend into the mountains.

Others on Bonemass:

Honest Game Trailers Takes On Valheim

Tired of Valheim posts yet?  Well, they’re not done.  Not yet.  But if you’re chafing about all this Valheim stuff, then Honest Game Trailers has you covered as they dig into the game to expose its many flaws.

I have to admit that a lot of what they say is true, though the measure of fun and depth will vary for people.  Stamina management though, it is very much a thing.  I am just surprised they mentioned the cart then didn’t show how you can mess up even that.  Or maybe that was just me.

Trying to push the cart is sub-optimal

But you know you’ve made it as an indie title on Steam if Honest Game Trailers features you.  Now to see if Zero Punctuation gets around to the game.

A Fishing Interlude in Valheim

I knew there had to be fishing in Valheim from the moment I first laid eyes on the water.  You can see fish just swimming around in there.  And given that the seagulls, which I first thought were just atmosphere, are harvestable for feathers, those fish certainly seemed too good, too real, too physically rendered in the world to be mere decoration.

I once espoused a theory of fishing in MMOs… more than ten years ago at this point… where I suggest that fishing might not be an important feature, that a dev had time to work on it before launch was a good sign that the game was not being rushed into production.  There were some winners and losers that seemed to track to the theory… EverQuest and World of Warcraft both had fishing at launch, LOTRO, EverQuest II, and Rift all lacked it… and no EQII fans, fish harvesting doesn’t count… and so I tend to keep track of fishing in games, even outside of MMORPGs.  Pokemon had fishing from its first generation of titles as well.  Fishing isn’t exactly my brand, but I do try it in every game.

My suspicions about fishing were pretty much confirmed when I started finding fish washed up on shore that I could pick up.  The swell of the ocean is pretty well modeled and when a storm is up the water can come way up on the land.

Shiny fishes are so good, yes precious

Picking up the fish yielded raw fish meat that could be cooked.  That surely meant fishing must be a thing.

After some trying to figure it out, including attempts at bow fishing, I finally went to the wiki to get an answer.  Yes, fishing is a thing… but you have to buy the fishing pole and the bait from the trader.  It took us time to find the trader, and once we found him I put off fishing until everybody had their Megingjord belt for heavy lifting.  But once that was secured and we had some extra gold sitting around in our valuables chest, Fergorin suggested that it might be time to try out fishing.

So it was off to Haldor, who sold me the fishing pole for 350 gold and a stack of 50 bait for another 10 gold.  That bait seemed a bit pricey  at first, but with what we’ve been hauling in for crypts it is probably no big deal, though we’ll need gold for later crafting.

With that I was off to the shore to catch some fish.

A larger pole than Ron Popeil has!

The pole is essentially a 2h weapon, not an uncommon situation, that behaves a bit like the bow.  Left click gets you a targeting reticule as you press down and releasing the button casts.  You can hold it down and totally go for distance… I think it will land as far as 30 meters out… but I quickly decided that wasn’t the best idea.

It is a bit like fishing in LOTRO in that you can see a fish come up to your hook and when you see the bobber bob it is time to haul in your catch.  It has a little pulse effect even, to make it clear you have a strike.  However, unlike LOTRO, and very much in the vein of Valheim really, then the stamina bar comes into play.

Managing your stamina is very much a thing in the game, and a way to get yourself killed if you fail at it.  Too often I have run and jumped to land within striking range of a foe only to find I didn’t have enough stamina left in my bar to hit them or block their attack.

In this case, reeling in your catch brings up the stamina bar and it slowly bleeds out as you reel in the fish.  If it runs out before you land the fish, it gets away.  So you are better off with somewhat shorter casts.

The fish are here too

It also means you shouldn’t go fishing when hungry, lest you stamina bar be at its lowest ebb.

When you get the notification that you have hooked your fish, and you’ve hauled them in as close as you can, you then need to get them ashore before your stamina runs out.

Bringing a fish in close… though that doesn’t look anything like 8m out

Since there is no net to scoop them up, I just start backing up to drag them onto land, where you can then pick them up.

Gotta pick it up before the stam bar goes black

The result is 1 or 2 pieces of raw fish meat, which you can cook up over a fire.  Looking at the food chart on the wiki, cooked fish is a bit better that cooked meat or neck tail, but the effort to get it is much higher, and it isn’t nearly as good as sausage, which we have been cooking up a lot of since we got into the swamps. (I have to go out on thistle gathering runs to keep the sausage factory going.)  But, later on, you can make fish wraps, which are a much better food item.  However, you need barely from the plains for that, and we’re a long way from hanging out in the plains.  So I am not in a huge hurry to haul in a ton of fish at the moment.  The payoff at the moment isn’t so grand and there are always so many other little things to do.

But at some point fish will be more useful.  Maybe then I’ll go out on the new boat and fish for the deep water fish, which yield more meat per catch.

The new longboat parked at Potshot’s pier

I think there is enough room on that deck of a longboat to haul them in.  Until then I’ll just pick up the ones I find on shore.

Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim

I was actually a bit nervous about the move from bronze to iron in Valheim.  Getting bronze was some trouble at times.  At first it was just being out the black forest biomes… dangerous in just leather… to grab copper nodes close by our base.  Then, even as we geared up and the danger subsided, the copper nodes were now further afield and, before we found the trader, you could, if you optimized everything, carry maybe 20 copper ore.

And, of course, the thing about bronze being made from copper and tin, where you need 2 copper and 1 tin to get 1 bronze bar, so there was a lot to be hauled to get a stack of 30 bronze bars.

But at least the copper nodes were plentiful.  My map is still marked up with nodes yet to be harvested.  It was a pain, but it was there for the taking.  Having iron locked in crypts in swamps seemed like it would be a limiting factor, there being only so many crypts in a swamp.

Then we defeated The Edler and got the swamp keys and iron was going to be a thing.  Our first expedition into the swamp as a group of five led to a couple of wipes, but at least we came back with what seemed like a lot of iron scraps.  Since they refine to one iron bar each, we seemed to be set.

And then I saw the recipes back at our base.  Making a bronze item, weapon or armor, generally used just 8 bronze bars.  Making an iron item needed 20 iron bars.  Our ~60 iron scraps, hauled home by ship, wasn’t going to make use even three new items.  We set aside a bit for other things… you need iron to make the stone cutter which allows stone walls, and that seemed important too… and we were not going to be fully outfitted in iron any time soon.

So the next exploring goal became “find more swamp crypts” which meant, first, finding  more swamps.  Swamps were available.  Crypts, perhaps less so.  Or maybe we were just unlucky.  Ideally we wanted a swamp with a meadows biome next to it so we could set up an outpost with a portal to ease the mining and repairing routine.  Also, it needed to be on the water as we would need to ship all of our iron back to one of our main bases in order to refine it and use it.  I wasn’t keep to build smelters and forges all over the world.

There were a couple more crypts in the first swamp we were working on, so while people tinkered with that I went looking for more.

The first one I went for was a swamp we had spotted on our corpse recovery cruise when we tried to go the short way around the island and found it was not such a short route at all.  There was a swamp along the way, on the far side of the same island where we built the base to fight The Elder, with a meadows biome right next door that had an abandoned town right on the coast.

Bad People Base

Well, it wasn’t abandoned.  It was full of Dragur.  I ran into it early on, then ran away, marking it as “Bad People.”  But the Dragur were all trapped in the buildings, so I was able to slowly break open cracks in the buildings and use my bow to slay them one by one.  The only one I had problems with was a Dragur archer up in a tower that I couldn’t get up because the ladder spaces were too narrow.  So I set up a work bench at the bottom of it and use my hammer to remove the first floor, after which the second a third floors… and the Dragur… came slowly crashing down.  There is a very Wile E. Coyote-like aspect to watching physics check and pull things apart at a leisurely pace.

Once cleared out I fixed up one of the buildings, then tore down some of the others to build a palisade wall around the base. (I recently realized that they’re not actually called “palisades” in the game, I think I call them that because of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.  But people know what I mean.)  Then I began to explore.

There was a narrow strip of black forest biome between my new base and then the swamp, leading to something like a band of perpetual conflict, as the swamp dwellers and the black forest mobs like to fight each other.  I found a Dragur from the swamp running around the base chasing a deer at one point.

Unfortunately, that swamp had just a single crypt in it.  That was not a promising sign for a group looking to get outfit in iron.  But we had seen a swamp across the water from there as well, which led me to our next swamp base.  Again, a bit of exploring found me a meadows biome where I could set up camp just a short walk from the swamp, though once again there was a narrow strip of black forest in between.  Another war zone.  But here I hit our first big batch of crypts.

West Swamp Base

Well, there were only five, but that was more than we had found in one swamp before.  By this point I had made myself an iron mace, all the better to explore with.  My philosophy is that I don’t need armor if the other guy is already dead.  The first crypt was a disappointment, with only 15 iron scraps, but after that I did much better.  I hauled out more than 150 armor scraps out of the first two combined, and did very well on the last three.  I had to sail back to our main base at the world swamp point three times in a Karve to haul it all home. I did have problems with a bridge somebody built.  I had to break down a section in the middle of the night.

Impediment to shipping

Fergoring started looking into a drawbridge solution, though we’ll save that for another crossing as I had looted the swamp by then.

Soon we had enough iron for everybody to get a weapon and start on their iron armor.

I was, by then, feeling the need for that weight belt from the trader, as carrying loads of scrap iron back to the base 15-20 at a time was a bit of a chore.  Our priority soon became finding him and, once focused on that task, he was found.  Then I was hauling as much as 35 a run, though generally just a full stack of 30 iron scraps plus other loot from the crypt.

Crypt loot built up our gold supply so that everybody could grab a belt as well.

Having drained the west swamp base of loot, I went looking for another swamp.  I had passed on when we were looking for the trader, so sailed back to it and found it to be almost ideal to our needs.  It was basically an island that was mostly swamp, with a postage stamp sized bit of meadows on the western shore, just big enough to set up a base. (It looks to be about the size of a suburban house lot.)  And in the swamp were more crypts.

Black Forest and Plains on the far side

I landed there with a boat and fought the locals for a bit until they relented, then build a small base surrounded by spikes.  Then I set up a portal inside.  This swamp was set to harvest.

South Swamp base

And the swamp was not far off.

Just a stroll to the swamp

By that point I was starting to feel confident in the swamp.  Maybe a bit too confident, as you can see the corpse marker on the map.  Failed to keep an eye on my health.  But the crypt looting continued at a rate that might make a 19th century member of the British Museum blush.  We have iron aplenty and more available to grab.  I went all in on the iron gear.

Fully geared up in iron in the swamp… hope it doesn’t rust

As I mentioned in my post earlier in the week, gear upgrades seem small when you look at the stats, but are quite noticeable when get out in the field.  All of that iron, plus a supply of health and poison resist meads, has made the swamp a place to explore.

Now, with the iron flowing, it is time to start thinking about the next boss, Bonemass.  His location was revealed by a rune in one of the swamps.  He is in another, distant swamp… of course… so we will need to mount an expedition to find his altar and a plan to assail him.

A Month of Valheim

It has been about a month since I first posted about Valheim.  I hadn’t heard about it until Ula mentioned it in our Discord.  Apparently it was on the front page of Steam quite prominently, but I only open up Steam when I mean to go play a specific game or check out the summer or winter sales, so that wouldn’t have caught me.

Valheim on Steam

But Ula’s mention got me to take a look and, on seeing the price and overwhelming favorable reviews, I decided to give it a shot.

And now, about a month later, it is the game that eats up all my free time.  So how did I get there?

I have long said that I cannot make myself play a game I don’t enjoy.  Likewise, I often have to examine why a given game is suddenly my favorite to figure out why I keep playing that particular title rather than something similar.  And, as I mentioned straight out of the gate, Valheim puts together elements that are very familiar from other titles.  Critics of the title like to point out that there is really nothing new about the game, that you could find its features in a range of survival titles.  And I agree, there is nothing new under the sun.  But that goes for just about any title, so comparing features is too simplistic. Instead, it is which features in what measure that I think tips the balance for Valheim.

So, this is what I think is working in the game’s favor for me.

  • Story and Sandbox Combined

Sandbox is always a dream for devs, as the right sandbox will keep players engaged and playing without the need to constantly add new content.  The world cannot go unattended, but the devs won’t see the game die off if they go a couple months without a new shiny for players to chase.

But too much sandbox can be a burden in itself.  The inevitable, “What do I do now?” issue.  As much as I have enjoyed Minecraft in the past, I whenever I finished some goal, like a rail line many kilometers long, I would plateau and stop playing because I had to find another goal on my own.

Valheim has a set of goals, objectives the game has set for you.  But they are not immediate, WoW-quest sort of goals.  Valheim doesn’t have something for you to do this minute.  The story has a pretty light touch on your day to day activity.  It is always there, there is that henge for the heads of the bosses sitting by the world spawn point, and some clues to guide you out in the wild, but the game is in now hurry to move you along.  So much of what I do is in furtherance of the over-arching tale, but I am not going down a checklist or escorting some NPC or anything like that.  I am often exploring, or gathering, or building, or crafting, or cooking, or doing whatever at my own pace.  There is always an outpost to be built, a base to be upgraded, and spots on the map that have yet to be uncovered.  I feel like there is always something to do and often end up saying I’m going to stop at hour X, and then find myself still going well past my set end point because I kept doing just “one more thing.”

  • Co-op PvE

This is a big duo for me.  I have very little interest in random sandbox PvP.  Even as an EVE Online player, I put my PvP efforts into group efforts that defend our space or attack some foe.  Randomly ganking passers by… or, more likely in my case, being ganked by random passers by… holds no interest for me.  So having a PvE sandbox was a draw.

And, of course, the co-op aspect was big too.  My second post about the game was about the instance group setting up so we can play together.  The shared experience in a sandbox is a big drawn for me.  We all have different play schedules and some of us are on more than others, but we can all get together for big boss fights or go off on our own time to harvest materials to help build out the base or keep our food supply robust.

I probably wouldn’t be as interested in the game were it not for this option.

  • Danger in the World

I don’t die a lot.  I went several days without a death the past week.  But I am careful in my exploration because I know I can get in over my head out in the wilds, like that time I wandered into the edge of a plains biome and got the Deathsquito surprise.

And even when you’re back in your base, danger can come find you, as Fergorin found out when he ended up having to face multiple troll attacks on our bases.  You cannot just wander about the world in daylight without keeping an eye out.  The game won’t let you have it all your own way.  Going out to mine copper in a black forest biome always means keeping your eye open, as the sound of that pick seems to attract hostile mobs.  There are few milk runs and there always seems to be a troll around the corner when you are at your most vulnerable.

  • Simple Progression

I was a bit skeptical about upgrading my gear from trollhide armor, which gave me that sneak bonus, to bronze armor.  I’d lose my extra sneak and get slowed down as well, all for what seemed like not much of a boost in armor protection.  The upgrade values for armor or weapons are small, but they seem to add up.  At one point, back in leather armor, I would run from a group of three greydwarfs.  When I had bronze armor and a fully upgraded club, I would take on three but was very wary of the greydwarf brute as I wandered the black forest.  And trolls were to be kited with a bow.

Now, in iron armor with an iron mace the brute no longer terrorizes me and, once I get in a couple of open shots with a bow, I can stand toe to toe with a troll and finish him off.

Likewise, the swamp was a terror on our first run, where five of us together managed to wipe twice just getting in and out of one crypt.  Now I go solo into the swamp, looting crypts and hauling back iron scrap.  I need to take some care.  I have health and poison resist meads to hand and make sure my hit points and stamina are through food… because there is food progression too, so we’re past berries and mushrooms and onto sausages… and I know I can still get in over my head, so I watch my surroundings.

And now that we’re gearing up to iron I have started making some frost resist potions, because in the cold of the mountains you will freeze without them until you have the right gear.

Meanwhile, back at our main base in the meadows, greydwarf brutes now show up on their own, rather then the usual greylings.  And then there are the raids.  The game progresses its dangers as you progress you abilities.

  • Light and Solid

I have run into a few bugs.  Once in a while I have to restart the client because I suddenly cannot open chests or use the forge.  Something has glitched and needs a refresh.  Likewise, I have also seen some bugged mobs, like the invisible deer, which I could only see because it climbed out of the water and was dripping wet.  But for the most part the game is solid, much more so than one might reasonably expect given some of its early access competition.

And it runs very well on my machine.  It is lighter and faster than WoW Classic.

  • Right Game at the Right Time

I think this might be the main reason we’re playing this now.  We have, from time to time, run off to play Minecraft or some other title as a group when our current MMORPG had grown tiresome.

Valheim hit just at the right moment.  Over in WoW Classic we are, as a group, level 59 and have gone through most of the five player instances.  We still have some work to do, but after 18 months of being focused on old Azeroth, we were apparently ready for something a bit different.  If Valheim had launched two months into WoW Classic, I doubt we would have noticed, even if the game had sold twice as many copies.  There is always something popular at any given moment and I can pretty pretty oblivious to that sort of thing.  Had Ula not mentioned it, I certainly would have missed it.

And, of course, the game scratches a lot of itches for us, as I have detailed above.  We can play together in our own world at our own pace with something of a division of labor, dabbling in as much building, exploring, harvesting, farming, or whatever as we like, all while still working towards the next big boss.

Haldor the Trader Found at Last

Having defeated The Edler and started in on crypts in the local swamp biomes, we began to feel the need, even more so than before, to find Haldor, the trader who sets up shop somewhere in Valheim and who sells the Megingjord, a belt slot item that adds 150 lbs to a players carrying capacity.

Having carried scap iron out of a crypt, across a swamp, to a forward base, 15-18 units at a time due to weight restrictions, this was starting to feel like a big deal.

Another crypt to clear and loot

We had been looking for Haldor for a while now, but our explorations had failed to locate him… or any one of his incarnations.  He apparently has multiple spawn point on any given world, you just have to get close to him for him to show up on your map.  So we started to make exploration a priority, with Fergorin heading north and I heading west from our main base.  But it was Boogerfart, Crowbar’s son who finally found the trader as he explored south.

And once one person finds Haldor his little money bag appears on everybody’s game map.

The bag appears

However, Boogerfart hadn’t brought materials with him in order to make a portal.  So the next thing on the agenda was to sail down there and get a portal set up.  He was closest to our southern base, named Dieppe, the one in the black forest with the persistent troll visitors.  I built a portal at our main base and tagged it “Trader,” grabbed the materials to make another portal, then took the portal to Dieppe and sailed from there around the island and south towards Haldor.

Sailing southward

It looks nice and easy on the map, but most of the water on the west side of the first island was uncharted for me… I had to go that way as the prevailing wind was going to fight me going the other way around.  You go with the wind when you can and hope it changes when you need it to.

The trip was fine during the day.  It wasn’t even so bad when the fog rolled in as I reached the southern tip of the island.  But night was also falling and you can navigate okay in fog or at night, but in night and fog… not so much.  I took a while getting around the islands in that thick soup, hitting the shore a few times before I could even see it.

I could see the troll standing on the shore before I hit it.  I turned the boat hard and opened up the sails with the wind to get out of that.  The troll waded out waist deep and smacked the boat for a big chunk of damage, but I got away.

Eventually I wound my way through the shallows into a little bay close by Haldor, jumping ashore on his island.  It was still night and in a black forest biome, so there were greys all over to fight.  I had to clear out the shore before I could finally make my way to the camp.

Howdy Haldor!

Once there I setup the portal, then harvested some more wood and built a palisade fence corridor from the portal to the safety of the magic bubble that surrounds Haldor’s camp and keeps the bads at bay.  Then I settled down and checked out his list of goods.  The Megingjord belt rang in at 950 coins, which seemed quite pricey.

The shopping list

That done, I took the portal back to see what we had for coins.  We had nearly 900 in the main base, and had squirreled away another 800 or so at Dieppe, largely based on looting fallen trolls.  But we had also been storing amber, amber pearls, and rubies, loot from burial chambers, which you can sell to Haldor for some coin.

I collected up a bunch of that and too the portal back to Haldor.  Selling that off raised almost 1,500 gold in addition.  I took 950 off the top of that and bought myself a belt.  Boogerfart had already purchased one out of coin he had been gathering, which left us with resources to buy two more, and closing in on a third. (And there was still more loot to sell lying around.)

Unna at Haldor’s camp for another belt

I put the belt to good use later in the evening by emptying out another swamp crypt and hauling back 150 scrap iron from the effort.  Being able to make trips back and forth carrying a full stack of 30 scrap iron is a bit of a game changer.

Of course, first I had to sail the boat back to Dieppe, which was an adventure on its own.  I decided to once again go with the wind and explore around the edge of another island… you can see my path on the map… finding another swamp area adjacent to some meadows, which will make a likely new base for us in the future.  Of course, the locals took their shots at me if I got too close, and there was a sea serpent incident.

A sea serpent attacks

There I am, trying to get to shore, into the wind, as the serpent attacks.  I made it, but the serpent swam off before I could kill him with my bow.

With Haldor finally found, we can now all get that carrying upgrade.  Once we have that set for everybody, then I will see about collecting some coin for the fishing pole and some bait.  Another source of food would be handy.