Tag Archives: Freemarch

Instant Adventure for the Instance Group

The instance group, together again!

After a long summer hiatus, we all managed to find the launch icons, log in, patch up, and find each other in Rift.

While Jolly and I were on last week, and a couple of us played some Diablo III, the whole group had not been on together since the middle of May.  But now we were back.

Loitering in town

The line up in Meridian was:

  • Gizalia level 36 mage
  • Zahihawass level 36 cleric
  • Earlthecat level 36 warrior
  • Jollyreaper level 38 mage
  • Hillmar level 41 cleric

A lot of things have changed in Rift since we were last together, some of which came in handy.

For example, Hillmar obviously crept ahead in levels.  He could have turned off experience I suppose.  However, he did not need to because of the new mentoring feature.

Likewise, here we were together on a Saturday night, out of practice, staring at all those damn buttons do (skill overload is one of Rift’s issues), and wondering what we could do as a group warm-up exercise.

Enter Instant Adventure.

IA had the advantage for us of being both a group activity as well as one that wasn’t too… demanding.  We got together, got the daily IA quest in Meridian and joined the queue.

We were, of course, sent to Freemarch.  I know this isn’t broken, because I actually got an IA in Stonefield last weekend, but Freemarch still seems to be the overwhelming default choice.  That made us all level 14, so at least the level gap was gone.

And the initial teleport alert drew and disappeared before I could click the button… this happens to me about 1 in 3 times… so I had to ride to the group.  But at least the group was only in Freemarch.

It was Saturday and the server was populated so we actually drew a decent sized group.  Not the full raid quest eating machine of last week, but about dozen people.  That was enough that some of us could come up to speed without impacting the progress of the raid as a whole.

In fact, it worked out very well for us.  We started off with a set of slow-pitch difficulty quests… go kill some guys, go collect some things… out on the beach on the west side of the zone.

Questing in the sand

This built up for a while.  We participated in the first “1 in 7” boss fight, but by the time we got to the second one Earl was holding aggro to tank, I was healing, and the damage crowd was burning the guy down.

We kept that up, running through the cycle of quests.  I even saw one I had not run before, which involved burning corpses.

Fire!

That one was actually confusing for a moment because no corpses were in evidence.  Then we realized we had to make our own by killing the right guys.  A minor flaw in the mouse-over quest details on mobs is that if you have to do something with them after they are dead, that info doesn’t show up because they aren’t dead yet.  Ah well.  We figured it out.

At about that point a zone event kicked off in Freemarch.  When you are in an IA group and that happens, the next task you draw is to defeat the zone invasion.  That is actually a great idea, as you do not want a big group running around the zone saying, “Sorry, we’re too busy collecting shells and burning corpses to help out with all these rift creatures overrunning the zone.”

On the other hand, if you are online and in the game just to do the daily IA quest to get your inscribed sourcestones, it can be a bit of a bother.  If a normal IA quest takes more than five minutes, it is unusual. (Though there are a couple that often do.)  But a zone event… the IA timer on that is 2 hours, and it can take a while if you do not have enough people out helping.  It can fail without enough people.

But one of the joys of the mentoring scheme is you are no longer dependent on having just the right number of people at the right level.  All those level 50s can mentor down and join in.

And we were in it for the practice, so a zone event was a nice addition to the mix.  We immediately headed east towards the closest water rift, which put up quite a fight.

In Freemarch, all of the instant adventures are on the west side of the zone.  This is because the game mentors you down to level 14 when you join, and the appropriate level mobs are on the west side.  Rift is very good at keeping you from going after mobs bigger than yourself.  Anything beyond a couple of levels above you suddenly resists most of your spells and dodges most of your attacks.
And the east side of the zone is full of mobs in the level 16-20 range.

And so our little group, mentored down to level 14, assaulted a level 18 water rift.  This actually meant we had to work for things a bit.  Earl had to really tank, I had to really heal, and Zahi had to debuff to so we could get spells to stick.  We failed to beat even the first timer for the bonus rounds, but it was a workout.  We even had a man down in battle, so I got to pull out my relatively new combat res to bring him back during the fight.

That was the peak of our effort for the night, and we did well enough.  The rest of our encounters during the event were closer to our level and the final boss was way over on the west side of the zone and was only level 8.  Though a level 8 final invasion boss is still a tough guy.  You couldn’t solo him at level 14.

There was even an achievement for finishing off the boss for that particular event.

After that, things began to wind down.  We had all gotten a level or two.  The goal was to get everybody to level 38.  Only Gizalia is still 37, and she is close to level, so we can cover that.

We went back to town, spent soul points, trained up skills, fiddled with equipment, emptied bags, and generally got ourselves settled.  It was a decent return to Telara.

Next week Earl will be out of town, so we will have another off night, but after that we should be ready to go after the next instance on the list, Runic Descent.

So while you are doing your Guild Wars 2 early access, we should be running that instance.

We Face Our First Boss in Telara

Saturday night found us all online in Rift, and with the five of us our thoughts turned to group content.  Potshot had pointed out that once we were all level 15 we could attempt the Realm of the Fae instance.

All we had to do was get the whole group up to level 15.

Earl was actually on a bit ahead of time, so I ran out to help him catch up to where we were in the Freemarch quest chain.

About the time he and I were headed for where the group left off last week, everybody was online and we could assess where we stood.  The party as we joined up was:

  • Jollyreaper level 13 mage
  • Earlthecat level 14warrior
  • Ephemara level 14 rogue
  • Hakawati level 14 rogue
  • Hillmar level 15 cleric

I still hadn’t worked out what souls we all have allocated, but we’ll get to that.  The dungeon finder looking for group tool informed me that the group, as formed, was not eligible for any dungeons, as was expected.

You must be at least level 15…

But we had time. And since this post ran much longer than I thought it would, I am going to insert a break to keep the front page from being a mile long.

Continue reading

Making Our Way to Meridian

Here we are at the end of the week and I am finally done talking about Sony, Star Wars, and Free to Play conversions.  It is time for the Rift update, a game that has no intention of going free to play.  Good for them.

And I do not really have that much to report.

We seem to have an issue getting all of us online and in-game at the same time.

Saturday night rolled around and there were just four of us again.  This time Jollyreaper was in and Earl was nowhere to be seen.

We decided to do some rift stalking for a bit in hopes of Earl showing up late and to help bring Jolly up to speed with the group.

But in the randomness of the game, there was no big death rift invasion like we faced last week.  There was the usual fire rift or two.

Beast of Flame Defeated!

And there were footholds were scattered about and there were wardstones to be retaken, but it was not the same as the sort of unified event that hit Freemarch last week.

Kill the blue thing!

So while we advanced our guild quest a little bit, we ended up clearing out most of the stuff in the vicinity.

Guild quest - We're already level 2

We went back to Kelari Refuge and picked up the quest path where we Jollyreaper left off last time we were on.  This turned out to be a good thing, as some people in the group missed a couple of the quests along the way.

In a sort of leap-frog quest method, we got up to where Earl left off, then ran on ahead for a bit, scaling a couple of the “better in a group” quest chains.

Getting to the top of this tower... better with a group

We ended up out on another stretch of beach up the coast from Kelari Refuge where we ran into one of the first sets of quests that were not really group friendly.

It wasn’t the huge pain of the New Halas starter quests, and it certainly wasn’t the first quests we had run into that did not do group updates, but it might have been the time that we had a couple of quests as a group that each required individual updates.  We were scooping eggs out of corpses and picking up underwater sparklies and that sort of thing.  Nothing really challenging.

But when quest objectives do not give group updates, you start to wish for a way to track where everybody else in the group stands.  There might be a way to do that in Rift, but I have not figured it out.  Fortunately, we work together on Skype, so we just kept calling out updates until we were all finished.

It sure was pretty out on the coast

The coastal quest hub cleared up, we decided not to get too far ahead of Earl and leave the questing at the next hub, the mine.

Our last goal for the night was to make it to Meridian, which was not much of an effort at all.  As I said previously, Freemarch seems like a big zone to me until I decided to travel across, and then I seem to get there pretty quick.  It is actually an interesting illusion, though it might just be an artifact of my own perception.

And so we quickly found ourselves on the steps of the Defiant capital city.

Welcome to Meridian!

Parked there, we will enjoy the benefit of rested experience, something that seems a bit odd to me.  Why do you only get rested experience if you camp in town?  Quirk of the game I suppose.

Freemarch before us

But now we have access to all that the capital city has to offer.

Now I have to remember to tell the group to patch before Saturday.  This weeks Ember Isle update was about a gigabyte.  And while the patcher is efficient, it only took an hour to download over my slow DSL connection, that is still an hour I would rather be playing.

Stalking Death Rifts in Freemarch

Saturday night found most of in Rift.

Earl was back, having survived the cold, the snows, and the broken branches.

Big Earl is looking a bit blue

However Jollyreaper was nowhere to be found online, so the question came up as to what we should do.

We started off with some quests, just to warm up, knocking out the quest line at Kelari Refuge, which involved, among other things, trapping flaming squirrels.

Flaming Squirrel!

That lead to a series of squirrel and squirrel bite related stories.  The general consensus in the group: squirrels are to be avoided and that flaming squirrels would be like a plague.

Kelari Refuge went by quickly and we moved to the next quest hub.

Kelari Refuge

Once there we held up after a couple of quests.  We decided we did not want to get too far ahead of Jollyreaper in the quest line.  We decided, instead, to pursue rifts.

We actually started the evening with a nearby rift to bring Earl up to speed on the structure.  His first rift was a water related one.

Like fighting in an aquarium

But we decided to make them our target for the night, which turned out to be well timed as just about then a zone-wide invasion event kicked off.  Death invaders and death rifts were the flavor of the evening.

We started moving towards one of the ward stones that had been taken over by the forces of death, but in moving up the road we ended up battling wave after wave of death invasion teams.  It was a running battle from group to group until we finally made it to the besieged camp.

Camp to be freed

I couldn’t help but think of Zerg creep when I saw the camp.

The fight there was short and easy.  Ward stone take overs seem to be designed as solo encounters for the most part, probably so you can free up your own damn quest hub should it be overrun.

We then turned to death rifts, as the event required 10 to be defeated before it would advance, and there were still 9 to go at that point.

Death rifts look… like death.

That's some big undead...

We chopped our way through a number of death rifts.  The four of us did not seem to have much problem with any given encounter, though there were a couple we almost blew because we jumped in to combat before figuring out the actual objective of that stage.  We generally prevailed, and closed a number of death rifts on our own.

Rift Sealed!

We finally got the message that the first objectives had been accomplished and that the Harbinger of Alsbeth had arrived and needed to be resisted.

Marked on clearly on the map and thankfully not to far away from our current position, we went riding off in pursuit of the Harbinger in hopes of zeroing it out.

Arriving there, we found another group already engaged.  The “join groups” button showed up at the top of the screen and I clicked it, bringing us all together into a raid.

The fight itself was short, though not necessarily a cake walk.  Hakawati got stomped at one point, but was able to soul walk and come back before the fight was over.  But we were able to defeat the Harbinger.

The Harbinger of Alsbeth Defeated

We collected our little piles of planarite and such, and then I started looking to get us out of this raid and back into our original group.  I was about to tell people on Skype that we should just all leave the raid and reform a fresh group, when I found the option to unmerge the group from the raid.

And it worked like a charm.  Nifty.  We were back in our original little group.

We ran around for a bit more after that, picking off a foothold or two, but activity was tapering off.

Group picture after one last rift

We ended up back at Kelari Refuge to train and sell off the excess in our bags.  We each ended up a couple of levels ahead at the end of the night, but not so much that Jollyreaper cannot catch up.

If we can all get on this coming week, we ought to be able to make it to Meridian.

Baby Steps in Telara – A Guild is Formed

We couldn’t quite get the group together Halloween weekend.

Earl, who lives in New York, informed us via the magic of iPhone that he was otherwise without power or internet connectivity.  So we had to leave him to the hum of his generator along with the almost non-stop sound of breaking tree branches while we figured out what to do in Rift without him.

And the rest of us got on a bit late.  There were pets and patches and updates to deal with.  Jolly joined the rest of us in getting the collector’s edition of the game.  Like Earl, he got the spider mount that now comes with the CE, as opposed to the turtle that was the previous reward mount.

Getting on late and being a player short, we needed something to do.

Being a fan of obtainable goals, I suggested we try to form a guild.  Potshot and I had already gone through the usual preamble of silly guild names and had come up with one to foist on our unsuspecting future guild mates.

The question was whether just the four of us could form a guild.

It turns out that two people with enough alts can manage guild formation just fine.

Potshot logged into Zahihawass, one of his higher level alts (his naming theme for Rift seems to be “unpronounceable meets unspellable”), picked up a charter in Meridian, and invited us all to sign.  This did not even require physical proximity, though we were one signature short.

However, I was able to log out and back in with an alt of my own, sign the remaining line, and there we were.

Guild Charter Complete

The Batsmen of the Calamari is both a Monty Python reference as well as a Rift reference.

Then we set about getting people set up at appropriate ranks within the guild.  Rift seems to come with more guild ranks than I would imagine anybody might need by default.

We have many ranks from which to choose!

I am sure there are guild out there that need ranks beyond a default “recruit, member, officer, leader,” but how many guilds need 10 ranks?

And there was also a tab about guild perks.

Tell me of these perks!

I will have to go read up on those.

As we were doing this, I also got a whisper from Harbinger Zero pkudude99 who is also on the Alsbeth server.  He sent Earl and I some armor he crafted, which was better than the quest reward items I had accumulated up to that point.  So a big thanks goes out for that.

With the guild formed, we decided to run down the starter quest chain a bit.  Earl had actually gotten a bit ahead, and he can be an MMO machine when he puts his mind to it, so we figured he would have no problem catching up if we got a quest hub or two ahead of him.

So we cleared out the quests from the first hub, which included yet another sample “here is how rifts work” event, calamari tentacles and all.

Finishing up the training rift

We pushed on from there and eventually ended up at the Kelari Refuge, where we decided to call it a night.

Kelari Refuge on the Water

But we now have a guild and a silly guild name floating above all or our heads.

Batsmen of the what?

Next week we hope to be stuck into Freemarch proper.

The Instance Group Gathers in Telara

Saturday night was finally the end of the hiatus of the instance group.  After a long summer absence, which extended into the fall, we were once again together in an online game.

Rift was the game chosen, and things got off to a slow but positive start.

Everybody, for example, had a copy of the game downloaded and patched along with an account.

With the promise of an early mount and an inexpensive price, everybody except Bung opted for the collector’s edition.  Bung only had the trial version of the game.  But for a first night’s getting acquainted round, that seemed to be more than enough.

We all eventually arrived and started working on characters.  That included picking a basic class and thinking up a name.  We ended up with the following spread of characters. (I have yet to decide the universal handle by which I should refer to everybody… well, except for Earl… so I will go with what might make the most sense to anybody who has been following along for a while.)

  • Earlthecat – Bahmi Warrior (Earl)
  • Aboulhoson – Eth Mage (Potshot)
  • Hillmar – Bahmi Cleric (Me)
  • Ephemara – Kelari Rogue (Ula)
  • Jollyreaper – Kelari Mage (Bung)

Happily, we are beyond the age where you need to type something like c ‘heal’ Aboulhoson in the middle of a heated battle.

I will have to get everybody’s soul choices next time around.  I cannot even recall my own at the moment, and I am too lazy to log in.

I had actually rolled up in advance, so spent some time wandering around the initial starter area helping to answer questions and form up a group.  I nearly asked Earl what his character name was.  Silly me.  The rest of us came up with new and different handles.

Jollyreaper actually came from Bung’s son, who thought that would be a good Halloween costume.  Rather than being the Grim Reaper, he wanted to have the cloak, cowl, and scythe, but have a happy, smiling mask on along with them.  The Grim Reaper back when he enjoyed his job, pre pale horse.

Earl actually rolled up first and got out ahead of the pack… and made some of the same mistakes we all seem to have made, like that quest where you talk to the quest giver and, if you read the quest text, you know to sit tight while he activates a construct to escort you to the final quest hub.

And if you just skip the text and try to run ahead… well… chances are you will end up dying a bunch.  I was only save from that fate the first time through by my obsessive desire to make sure I have completed all the quests.

Anyway, Earl got out there and died.

I hung around waiting for Jolly and Ephemara, who I ran into at one of the early quest hubs.

Hillmar and Ephemara

Hillmar’s mail shirt looks oddly like a Cosby sweater.  Or maybe that is just me.

Having some time to kill, I actually spent some of it filling in the details and reading all the quest and related text.

It wasn’t that I did not get the story up to that point.  We were brought back to life, we are being sent back in time to save the planet, blah blah blah.

Reading this was just confirmation

But it is very in my personality to want a quick look at what is going on and to then go back and fill in the details as I am ready for them.

So I am a bit more filled in on the story so far.  I also got to see that Trion holds the opinion that bare female mid-drifts and plate armor bikinis are useful in combat for their opponent distracting value.

Men cannot avert their eyes

I also got to see a few variations of events I had not run into previously, like a sudden mass of skeletons.

Really following the dead

I linked up with Jolly and we made it through to the final battle at the portal and did that fight.

The last starter area battle begins...

We got through and were greeted with a view of another rift.

Old Telara, same as new Telara, only greener

By that time, Earl and Aboulhoson had been into Freemarch for a bit, we just needed Ephemara to catch up.  Our rather unambitious goal for the evening was merely to get everybody rolled up, through the starter area, and into Freemarch so we could meet up, collect mail, and generally be ready to start trying to work as a group.

Only Ephemara got stuck on that last fight in the starter area, which was odd, since she had done it before with her other character.  We offered advice on Skype, mostly to the effect of letting the NPCs in the area do the heavy lifting for that last fight.  But the NPCs seemed to be taking the night off, so our rogue was getting pasted.

And due to the setup, there wasn’t much we could do.  You cannot go forward again in time to help somebody out if you have already gone through the portal.  So we were stuck for a bit, at least until Abo got up and walked into the next room to help with the problem.  He is co-located with Ephemara.

After a short interruption, Ephemara made it through the time portal and into Freemarch.

We were able to collect everybody together at last for a group picture.

The Instance Group in Freemarch

Pictured above, from left to right, not including the boar and cat butts visible at the bottom of the shot, are Ephemara, Earlthecat, Hillmar, Jollyreaper, and Aboulhoson.

Now we are together and poised to move into the game.

<cue stirring music>

Marching in Freemarch, Chasing Rifts in Rift

The instance group isn’t set to get back together in full until this coming Saturday, but three of us still got together as part of our slow exploration of Rift.  We’re trying to get into the game without getting too far ahead, though I suspect a couple of us will want to roll new characters for the full group kick-off.

I was on ahead of the other two, so started tracking down some quests I had, including one I had that wanted me to talk to a guy all the way across the zone.

And had I taken the direct path to that guy, I would have wandered through at least another dozen quests, and doing them would have gotten me to the appropriate level for the guy.  But I had missed a quest turn in previously, so I went the long way around the zone, missing all those quests, and ending up in a bit over my head.

(Not that there is any place in Freemarch that is a “long way” from anything.  It is a surprisingly compact zone.  I think you could fit three Freemarches into West Karana in EQ.)

Anyway, there I was, keen to go into this burning town, only the mobs I had to fight were levels 16-18, and I was level 15.  Level 16s I could take, even if I got an add.  17s were a little tougher.  But level 18s… well, I couldn’t lay a blade on them.  I learned that the hard way.

So I tried to avoid the level 18s, which was possible, except that one stood astride a quest item I needed.  I ended up using the old hunter trick of sacrificing my pet (glad I chose beast master) while I grabbed the quest item and then ran and stood some place where it was safe to revive after the mob in question tracked me down and killed me.

We do what we must.

Two rounds of quests and 9 deaths later, the Potshots showed up.  We grouped up, they rode on out to me, having the same cross-zone “talk to a guy” quest, though they were level 16 so had obviously done some in between quests, and we went through the same set of quests I had just finished.

Which wasn’t really a bad thing.

I was able to be a bit of a guide, the three of us together could take on any number of adds, and Rift seems very good so far at sharing quest updates across a group.  I hold this up in comparison to the disaster in New Halas where the sheer bloody minded refusal of the starter zone to be group friendly pretty much killed EverQuest II for the instance group forever.  Individuals have stated that they will never play EQII again, so it is dead to the group.

Rift won’t have the same result it seems, at least not because of that.

That set of quests done, we decided to head out and help defend Freemarch from invasion.  There was some sort of “Angela’s Ashes of History” world event of some sort going on, and we were instructed to find a quest giver in our capital, but none of us managed to find this quest giver.

Either Meridian isn’t our capital, a possibility, it being merely the first city we’ve seen, or we were too low level to participate.  Because I would guess that the the quest giver for an important, we’ve announced it everywhere, world event would be put in an easy to find location, and not in the back room of the third cave to the left in the side annex of the city, right?

So we went riding off to attack the more mundane invasions.

We all got the collector's edition

We started in on footholds.

Footholds through me for a minor loop when I first encountered one, as they pop up and shoo away the quest givers.  That was before I discovered that the enemy NPCs guarding footholds are pretty flimsy and not very observant.  You can pull them off one by one.  But if you get the whole group, it isn’t a disaster, as they tend to be manageable solo as a whole.

So we knocked out a foothold, destroying their “blue thing” and cheering for the restoration of our “red thing.”  (We were not up on the terminology in our fellowship… erm.. group.)

Foothold Defeated!

And then we ran on to the next foothold, and defeated that.

Foothold Defeated As Well!

We ran along and killed a couple more, then consulted the map.

The map showed a foothold back at the first two spots we had just cleared.  So we apparently either missed something (I think I saw a roving group of invaders previously) or the who dynamic thing isn’t really as dynamic as they would like you to believe.

Tired of footholds, we moved on to a nearby Rift.

The first one we encountered was already in progress, somebody having defeated the first couple of rounds before they wandered off.  We closed that one up, but failed to make the timer on the bonus round, mostly because nobody noticed the timer until it was down to 00:04, at which point we were not going to make it.

The next one we found was a fresh rift.  We went after that with a vengeance, now a bit more aware of what was expected.  We were successful, beat the timed round, and the bonus round with the boss.  Full victory with a group of three.

A Rift No More

Riding around looking for more trouble, we spotted a rift forming.

Coming Soon To This Location - A Fire Rift

We used our special “get this rift going already” ability and a rift with fire based bad guys popped into being.  We had been mostly fighting water footholds and rifts up to this point, but what did that really mean?  How about a little fire, scarecrow!

This rift, flagged as level 13, was actually lower level that the last couple we took on, which put up level 15 bosses which we defeated without much issue, so when we got past the timed bonus and went to the boss round, we were pretty confident.  We were level 17 by this point, and what chance did a level 13 boss have against us?  Bring on the so-called Beast of Flame!

How Do You Do? Now You're Gonna Die!

And then, of course, he kick out collective asses.

Did I Mention He Was A Beast? A Beast of Flame!

After three rounds of that, we decided the Beast of Flame could keep the stinking little farm he was occupying.  It was getting late and our mothers were calling.

So we rode off.

But it was getting late, so we headed back to Meridian, where I still failed to find any world even quest giver, which doesn’t mean the quest giver isn’t there.  I probably just missed the giant sign with the arrow pointing at him or something.

Anyway, the hope is that we will have a group of five this coming weekend and will start sorting out into specific roles within the group, so when we next run into the Beast of Flame, we’ll have somebody spec’d for healing and for tanking as opposed to set of people all spec’d to solo.