Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to WoW

This past weekend was back to football. In gaming, I'm back to WoW. I cancelled my account almost a year ago. I’ve bounced from SWTOR to Wildstar but nothing has really stuck with me like WoW did.

There’s a familiarity I feel with WoW that no other game has been able to match. Every time I would play with my buddies in SWTOR or Wildstar, I would remark on how something reminded me of a mechanic in WoW. It got to the point that we would do a boss fight and one of them would ask, 'so which Boss from WoW did that remind you of'? While I learned what a dagun or a rowsdower was, they didn’t stick with me the same way that murlocs or Naga did. Maybe it was because I was already familiar with them from the Warcraft RTS, I don’t know.

WoW is about to celebrate its 10 th anniversary. The only anniversary I’ve missed in WoW was the 9th. 10th being such a milestone I really want to be there for it. They are also releasing of a Level 90 version of Molten Core and I think it would be great to see that place again at max level, even though I’m sure it won’t be the same the same.

I’m also excited for Warlords. It will be cool to see Draenor before it blew up. The time travel / alternate universe stuff doesn’t both me. It’s a staple of geek stories (comics/sci-fi/fantasy). Garrisions aren't going to compare to housing to Wildstar, but I think they represent some pretty cool gameplay, even if I don't fully understand them yet.

With my subscriptions reactivated I logged in for the first time in nearly a year. But I faced a question, which toon? I had three 90s I could play with: my Paladin, my Hunter and my Shaman. The Hunter and Shaman are both on Tanaris, while the Paladin is on Azuremyst. I would love to get them all together at some point but it’s not a huge deal right now. I also have a level 90 boost.

I'd really like to start playing the toon I'll take to Draenor and start to get established in a guild. I know my old WoW buddies are done with WoW, so socially, I'll be starting over a bit.

I decided not to go with the Hunter. I enjoyed playing him, and while I liked the pets aspect, I find that I prefer support roles to pure DPS. Plus, with gear being adaptive in Warlords, one of the major headaches of playing a hybrid (multiple gear sets) is somewhat mitigated.

That left my Shaman or my Paladin. I know everything is about to change in a couple of weeks with Patch 6.0 so I wasn't focused on mechanics or relative power. It's an MMO. You are always one patch away from FotM or useless.

The decision came down to whether I wanted the option to tank or the option to be ranged DPS. Shamans and Paladins can both heal and both be melee dps. On the surface, this should have been an easy call, I mean it's me, right? But two things weighed on my mind: time and Tortos.

Guilds rely on their tanks to be bedrock members. It's not a casual role. I'm always going to be behind the curve with gear and that's not something a main tank can do. Even more than that, I may simply not have the reflexes anymore to be a tank. Nothing showed that to me more than Tortos. Tortos was the turtle boss in Throne of Thunder, and marked one of my biggest failures in game back before I called it quits. He periodically summons bats. I couldn't seem to ever pick them all up and get them under control. I eventually had to bow out for another tank.

But I wasn't ready to close the door completely.  I love the theme of the Paladin class. I love the animations, the spell names and the lore. The Paladin gives me the option to try tanking again down the road. If it's a total disaster, a respec to Holy is just a portal away.

I logged into Honorshammer.

I’m not sure what was more surprising: what had changed or what hadn't. I read up on wowhead.com’s guides for boosted 90s to see how to play and spent some time on the training dummy. The rotations came back pretty quick as they really hadn't changed much.

I had lost all my addons and settings. When I left WoW the last time, I thought it was for good so I blew away everything except my screenshots.  I was able to get most of the addons back but any customization I had done was gone. I managed to cobble a UI together, but it's going to take a while to get it right again.

I had gotten a new mount from Heartstone called the Heartsteed. I learned it, but then I couldn’t remember how to access my pets/mounts to actually use it . I ended up having to Google where the mount button was (Shift + P).



I had heard about the Timeless Isle but I wasn't ready to go try that yet, so instead of flew over to Halfhill and worked my farm. The varmints gave me a nice reintroduction to combat without any real danger.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[Hearthstone] How to Beat Noth the Plaguebringer on a Budget

This is how I beat Noth the Plaguebringer with only 2 rares and the 1 Legendary you get from clearing the first wing. I tried this deck a second time to make sure it wasn't a fluke and won handily. This deck also took out the next boss, Heigan the Unclean. For Loetheb, it didn't work, but my Paladin deck did the trick.

My grand plan with Hearthstone was to save up and open the Naxxramas wings. After playing a little while in Casual and getting Rank 20 in ranked played, I managed to save up the 700g I needed to buy the Plague Quarter, next wing of Naxxramas.

The first boss in the Plague Quarter was Noth the Plaguebringer. This guy was tough. It was a little disappointing to spend all that in game gold and then basically face a road block on the first boss, but I perservered.

Noth has a super annoying Boss power that is a passive power called Raise Dead. Whenever one of your minions dies, Noth gets a 1/1 Skeleton minion. In addition to his skeletons, Noth has Plauge which is a board clear that leaves his skeletons up. He also has two Secrets. Counterspell is the same as Jania (Mage), but his other Secret is Duplicate. Whenever you kill one of his minions, he gets to put two of them in his hand. He doesn’t have many hard hitting minions, but some of them have some nasty powers. Flesh Eating Ghoul gets +1 attack every time one of his minions dies, and the Undertaker gets +1 to health and attack every time he plays a card with a Deathrattle and it feels like ALL of his cards have Deathrattle. Finally, once you bring him down the first time, he actually Ice Blocks and you have to kill him again.

I tried him with my Paladin deck thinking my 1/1 foot soldiers would counter the 1/1 Skeletons. Big mistake. All I did was bolstering his army. Next I tried my Hunter, but again I had no success. Thrall (Shaman) did better with Lightning Storm, but Noth still prevailed. Anduin (Priest) had a nice deck, but again I couldn’t overcome Noth.

It was clear to me I was going to need a custom deck, specifically made for this fight. I still don’t have a ton of cards. Everything I have either came from leveling up or from the few packs I’ve purchased with ingame gold.

I knew I needed a deck that was spell based and relied on a few beefy minions. I wanted to keep my minions alive if at all possible and deny Noth his skeleton army. But I also couldn't get too many of them on the boad. As soon as you get more than 2 or 3 minions on the board, Noth will Plague then which swings momentum over to his side. I also went for cards with a damage battlecry.

I decided to go with Anduin. Here’s the deck and why I picked the cards. Here’s a link to the deck.

Mind Vision – I was hoping for Duplicate, Plague, Black Knight or one of the more powerful skeleton minions. On the match where I finally won, this gave me Plague and not ALL of Noth’s minions are skeletons.





Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Blast x 2, and Holy Smite x2 – Damage him or his minions without killing my minions.

Shadow Word: Death – This is how I dealt with Flesh Eating Ghouls and the Undertaker. I would let them get buffed to 5 attack and then kill them.

Northshire Cleric x2 – With Duplicate, Noth has a pretty steep card advantage, I wanted to try to even that a bit. 

Divine Spirit – This would allow me to beef up my minions.

Holy Nova – Really important as both a heal and a board clear if I got behind and he did get his skeletons going. This was actually the kill shot in the first game I won.

Power Word: Shield – Again, this makes my minions harder to kill and as a bonus, gives me a card.

Shattered Sun Cleric x2 – All about beefing up my minions.

Mind Control – My deck was light on minions and this would be key to getting his. I also could grab a Plague immune skeleton minion.

Mad Bomber – He deals three damage randomly when played and I was hoping to hit some skeletons with it.

Alarm O Bot (Rare) – I think this was the only Rare card I used. I was hoping to get one of my big minions out cheap with him.

Emporer Cobra (2nd Rare) – Cobra can kill much more powerful minions.

Ironforge Rifleman, Stormpike Commando – I liked his damage battlecry because I could take out a skeleton with it.

Scarlet Crusader – Her divine shield helped keep her alive. I used her against Noth so it wouldn’t break the shield.

Chillwind Yeti – A nice beefy minion.

Senjin Shieldmasta – My only taunter and usually quickly killed by Noth’s Black Knight. I would recommend not using him and replace it with a Stormwind Knight.

Oasis Snapjaw – 7 health is beefy.

Gurubashi Bezerker – nice health and with all the skeletons I was hoping to really get his attack high.

Boulderfist Ogre – Another beefy minion.

Maexxna – the only Legedendary in the deck and if you can fight Noth, you already beat Maexxna and are guaranteed to have her. She’s just a bigger version of Cobra.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hearthstone

I’ve been playing some Hearthstone.

I played it back in beta and I decided to give it another shot. It fits pretty well into a casual playtime. I usually don’t like PvP game, but when I’m playing Hearthstone it doesn’t feel like PvP in MMOs. I don’t like losing but it never feels punishing. Maybe it’s the fact that you don’t interact much with your opponent. Emotes are fairly limited and outside of a “Well played” I don’t see much interaction.

The first surprise was that my progress from Beta had NOT been wiped. All the cards I had gotten were still available and I had credit already for beating all the Heroes in Basic mode.

I tend to play 8 decks, one for each class except for Warlock. My uneasiness with that class seems to span games. Of course, they feel really powerful in Hearthstone. Anytime I see Gul’dan I pretty much expect to lose. (psst Nerf Warlock!*)

I’ve had some great matches and some awesome come from behind victories. One match I was playing my Malfurion (Druid) deck and my initial draw was Power of the Wild (Give your minions +1/+1; or Summon a 3/2 Panther) for 2 Mana. Innervate (Gain 2 Mana Crystals this turn only) for 0 mana, a Bolderfist Ogre (6 attack/7 health minion) for 6 mana and a Stormwind Champion (6 attack/6 health minion) for 7 mana. I hate starting with two really expensive cards in my hand so I threw back Stormwind Champion. What I got in return was another Innervate. I was playing against Garrosh. He went first and threw out a Boar (1 heath, 1 attack with charge). He hit me for one damage. I had to the coin so on my first turn I used it. This gave me 2 mana instead of 1 so I threw the Power of the Wild and summoned the panther. His turn he used his Hero power and gained two armor. On my turn, I used both innervates and summoned the Bolderfist Ogre. By the time he could kill it, I had an insurmountable lead.

I do better with “control” heroes like Anduin (Priest) and Uther (Paladin). I also really like Thrall (Shaman) but I wish he had some self-healing spells or powers. Rexxar (Hunter) can be fun, too.

I had a really long match against Jania (Mage) with Anduin.
This was probably a cruel way to end it, but a win is a win.

I had a goal of hitting rank 20 before the end of the season so I could get the Naxxraamus card back. I made it to 20 without too much trouble. I did notice something odd. About a quarter of the time, my opponent would surrender (automatically lose) as soon as the match started. I have no idea what they were hoping to accomplish, other than to dive back down the ranks. But I saw this even at Rank 20, which made no sense. You can only go as low as Rank 20. From Rank 25 to 20, you don't lose stars (and therefore can't go down in rank).

Every third match or so, I’d run up against someone who simply had a much better deck than I did. I have yet to spend any *real* money Heathstone so all the cards I have I got with in-game gold. I made it as high as Rank 18 but I ran into people with superior decks more and more frequently.



I’m saving up the in-game gold to open up the next wing of Naxxraammus. The first one is (or was) free for a while. This means I won’t be getting cards from the decks, but you still get some cards for beating each boss. So far I’ve beaten Anu’barak, Grand Widow, and Maexxma. Heathstone is a fun game and I enjoy it, but it’s going to be a slow process building a deck where I can compete at higher levels.

*There was something akin to a meme back in Vanilla after one patch where Warlocks got particularly buffed. Everyone on the Official Forums would end their post "and nerf warlock" regardess of what their post had actually been about.

Friday, August 22, 2014

WoW: Honors takes the 10 Years – 10 Questions survey

A couple of blogs I read regularly, including Boldly Nerd and Blessing of Kings , have posted a 10 year anniversary survey for World of Warcraft. It started on the blog ALT:ernative which I discovered through this challenge.

I decided I would take it as well.

I unsubscribed to WoW at the beginning of this year. I went to play Galactic Starfighter in SWTOR and then as that was waning, I moved on to Wildstar. I will be returning to WoW for Warlords and I’m currently perusing the Guild Recruitment forums looking for a good community. I hope I can find a place with cool, mature people that are friendly to my decidedly casual playtime and odd schedule.


Why did you start playing World of Warcraft?

My friend got a job at Blizzard Entertainment as a GM. One of the perks was two free subscriptions and he gave one to me. I had wanted to try WoW out on multiple occasions but I could never justify spending $15/month on a game. With the money barrier removed, I dove into WoW. This would have been early to mid-2005 during the time of the build up to Ahn'Qiraj.

This same friend lost his job shortly after Burning Crusade launched. I’m not sure who was more upset about it, him or me. Of course by that point I was thoroughly hooked on WoW and had no problem paying the sub.

What was the first character you ever rolled?

My friend and I rolled several toons together but the first were a set of humans. He rolled a warrior, and I rolled a Paladin named Volumus which was an amalgamation of the name of Vinas Solamnus, the founder of the Knights of Solamnia from the DragonLance campaign world. I was a huge fan of the DragonLance novels and characters.

Like many World of Warcraft players my love for Azeroth started in Warcraft 3. I knew I wanted to be a Paladin, but I often wonder how my WoW experience might have been different if we had switched classes.

Of course, when I rolled that first toon, I thought a tank was a military vehicle and Raid was something you used to kill Palmetto bugs.

Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

Paladins were Alliance only at the time I started which made my choice relatively easy. Even if they hadn’t been, I’m pretty sure I would have still gone Alliance. I tend to prefer the ‘good guy’ side, and my favorite units in Warcraft 3 were the dwarf mortar teams (“mortar combat!”), riflemen and gyrocopters (“they came from behind!”). Undercity completely freaked me out, and while I liked the Tauren, I didn’t want anything to do with the Forsaken.

What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

There have been so many great moments over the years and it’s hard to pin down just one.
But the story that keeps coming back is the first time my guild killed Hydross the Unstable in Burning Crusade. Paladins weren’t accepted as full time raid tanks yet, and Hydross was one of those bosses that we weren’t supposed to be able to tank.

I was having some internet issues that night and I actually got disconnected. I still had vent so I’m communicating to the raid leader. My toon was still in game. So much of Paladin threat was reactive in those days. Somehow I maintained agro through the disconnect and got back in time to handle the transition. My guild was pretty impressed.

Back then, trash was a huge time sink and it had crazy respawn timers. We had cleared trash twice already that night, and we knew we weren't going to clear again. We wanted to make one more attempt but the respawn timer was very low. We ran in, and buffed up as much as we could.

Warriors would charge Hydross to start the fight because you needed to start it right where he was. If he moved too much, he would summon additional adds and you’d wipe. Paladins used invisibility potions to get around that problem.

I quaffed my Invisibility Potion and moved into position. The conversation on vent was something to the effect of:

Me: "Ok, 15 seconds on invisibility"
Raid Leader (an incrediblely talented Druid name Trelic): "Click that *bleep* off, we don't have 15 seconds on respawns!"

So I pulled and the trash didn’t respawn, but if we wiped that was it. The attempt was going well, but we were just barely ahead of the Enrage timer. We made a couple of nearly flawless transitions, and got him into single digits, but had less than a minute on the Enrage timer. Then our raid leader decided we would not try another transition. We blew everything we had and killed him milliseconds before enrage.

What is your favorite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Once I was introduced to it, raiding quickly became my favorite part of the game. I love the feeling of getting a team together whether it was 40, 25, 20, 15, or 10 (I’ve raided with all those sizes) and taking on an impossible challenge. There is a comradery built as you struggle and wipe and learn together. Then the payoff comes when you finally down a difficult boss that has been kicking your butt. The cheers in vent bridge the miles and bring people together in a way no other type of video game experience can.

Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

For me, it was Uther’s tomb. Every time I had a major change in game like changing guilds, or leaving the game, I would always go to Uther’s tomb to think about it.

How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I’m almost scared to know what my /played would be across all my toons. I’m sure it’s over 200 days played. When I was heavy into raiding I was easily doing at least 20-30 hours per week in game.
I played continuously from 2005 up to around 2011 when I left for SWTOR. I came back briefly after SWTOR went free to play. I wasn’t playing enough to justify a sub and then ended up back in SWTOR, and then Wildstar.

I hate to make any grand proclamations, but I hope this time I will stay in Azeroth for a while.

Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I do, and I even hang around to listen in if the NPCs are having a conversation. I love the lore of the game. WoW’s leveling experience was great and I’ve always felt the storytelling was underrated.

Are there any regrets from your time in game?

I have many regrets from the way I treated people at various times in game. I left a lot of hurt feelings behind. I would make some different choices given those same circumstances again.

What effects has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

I met some truly wonderful people through WoW. I am honored to count them among my friends. Only now, instead of names like Ofn, Boston, Blue and Dak, they are known to me as Rich, Scott, Kirk, and Michael.

I entered the Blizzard Short Story contests which rekindled a love for writing. Though I didn't ever game with them, through WoW podcasts I met people like Tami, Steve, Bre, Amber, Perry and together we ended up self publishing 3 volumes of original short stories.

I’ve continued to study and practice at writing and I hope to one day be good enough to publish a novel of my own.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Roadblock Ahead

You ever read a blog and immediately felt like they were speaking right to you?



Kadomi over at Boldly Nerd had a post today “Could I be any worse at blogging?” and as I read it, I found myself nodding along with her. It's been (let me check) a month (yikes! So sorry!) since my last blog. I guess I should really write an update.

I find myself in a remarkably similar situation to the one Kadomi describes.

Early June, I was totally stoked for Wildstar and I had blast that first week or so. Even now, when I play it, I have fun, but I don't get to play it all that often. Like Kadomi, by the time I’m done with dinner and getting the kiddos tucked into bed, and spend a couple of minutes in adult conversation with my wife, it’s every bit of 10:00 pm. My wife is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) now so she really needs a little adult conversation at night.

Since I have a full time job, I need to be heading off to dreamland by midnight. That leaves roughly two hours or so of free time. The weekends don't afford much extra time. 

Games have been a big part of life since I first sat down at my Atari 2600 with Pitfall Harry. I'm a geek (or nerd - whatever) after all. Congratulations if you got the reference or have your own fond memories of your Atari. 

You are now officially old.

As far as MMOs, I'm still subbed to Wildstar, but I haven’t logged in since early August. My Engineer is level 25 and helping these Easter bunny looking guys get a wedding together in Whitevale. I still want to support Carbine because they made an amazing game and they are pumping out content like nobody’s business. But I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it up.

The big concern I have is that I’m not sure that Wildstar’s endgame is really for me. I see the hardcore endgame and the long attunement chain. I'm pretty sure I won't ever be attuned. By the time I get to 50, people are going to be really burned out on the attunement dungeons. Already, I'm seeing 30 minutes plus queues for dungeons and adventures. I assume this is because everyone has leveled past me. But I don't see my pace improving.

The days of me playing an MMO 25+ hours per week are over. 

But more than that, I’m not sure I’ll ever be good enough for Wildstar. My reaction time is way off what it was when I was main tanking my way through Ulduar. The further I get into Wildstar the more I'm dying to what I'm sure would be considered simple mechanics by end game standards. My first run through Kel'Voreth had me tanking the floor more often than not and that was running with 50s who had busted down to my level.

I'm subbed through October, and then I'll have to decide what to do. One option would be going back to WoW for Warlords if I can find a good community that can raid around my abbreviated schedule and didn't mind my slower than molasses leveling pace. The cinematic was pretty cool, and the simpler combat might be something I can still manage. No, I'll never be a "Mythic Raider". #notgoingtohappendotcom. Flex would be about the most I could hope for (maybe). But I know I'll be able to experience the entirety of WoW's endgame, and not face a roadblock that says "Go no further!".

I do really like the...err... flexibility that Flex Raids provide. If I need to bail or I can't make it, no big deal. The raid self-adjusts.

If I can’t get my schedule to work for even Flex raiding, I can still do LFR in my limited playtime. I know it's been derided over the past, but it really is a nice option if you are strapped for time. Another bonus is I don't feel anywhere near as guilty if I have to get up to take care of one of the kids during an LFR as I would during a 'real' raid. They might not even wipe after I died.

MMOs seem be on a general decline. If a guy was 19 when WoW came out, he’s 29 now. I was considerably older than 19 when WoW came out. 

Let’s just leave it at that ;-) 

MMOs need to ask themselves why they aren’t attracting this generation’s 19-year-olds in the same numbers they did a decade ago.

For me though, it might just be best to finish this ride where it all began, back in Azeroth.



Image Credit: "3d Man With Construction Elements" by renjith krishnan / Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, July 14, 2014

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Please note: There are spoilers to the story of Algoroc in this post. You hast been warned.

I barreled into Tremor Ridge. This is really where you get that "cowboy in space" Firefly kind of feel to the Algoroc zone started. The Loftite rush is such a beautiful double entendre . The Loftite Rush is a clear allusion to the Gold Rush of the Old West. But Loftite also gives you one of your first experiences with reduced gravity and super jumping, which in an of itself is quite a 'rush'.

The quest lines with the crashed Protostar ship were a highlight of my time in Tremor Ridge, This is really a case where you need to read all the quest text and the various journals. They take the experience that much better.

One example is a journal you find, Chapter 7 "So You've Crashed Your Spaceship". The humor in these quests is excellent. I also loved the line the Protostar guy gives you. "Please accept my emotionally neutral farewell."



Another reason I prefer the Northern Wilds / Algoroc path is you continue to follow Deadeye Brightland. You see his reaction to what happened at the end of Northern Wilds and help him get established in Tremor Ridge. In Beta, I found the area around Tremor Ridge to be much more difficult than I did when I went back through this time. I was tearing through mobs with little of the problems I had in Beta.

Another of favorite areas in Tremor Ridge is a cave complex run by the Chua. What are the Chua up to? What are the Chua ALWAYS up to! They are working on a new super weapon. You thwart their scheme and there is a cool Science Path mission that lets you turn their weapon on themselves. That's always fun. This cave also features one of the few challenges you can do that isn't affected by the presence of other players.

At Level 6, I got Quick Burst. Quick Burst is a defining skill. It's a PROC. Whenever you score a critical hit, Quick Burst will light up and once you hit it the mob is pretty much toasty. It's nostalgic of Vanilla's Seal of Command. You hope and pray for Procs and as soon as she lights up, it's game over for your enemy.

I know Finesse is supposed to be the bread and butter stat for Assault Engineers, but now I wanted Moxie, Moxie and more Moxie. Moxie gives the Engineer Critical Hit chance. Also, I dumped all my AMPs (Wildstar talent points) into Critical Hit. I wanted to do anything I could to make Quick Burst proc more.
It lead to some tough decisions on what to wear, trading Moxie for Finesse or vice versa.

After finishing up Tremor Ridge, I headed over to Gallow. Gallow continues the "wild west in space" feel. You become a deputy, put down a gang of bandits, and even help an Old West style "Judge" dispense justice.

There is a vendor in Gallow who sells the Harmful Hits AMP, but you need Algoroc reputation to buy it. It's a big reason why I decided to go the Northern Wilds / Algoroc path. Harmful Hits provides a buff to Critical Hit chance after a Critical Hit is landed. Can I get you a little Crit with your Crit, sir?

Gallow is where many of the systems open up. There's a bank and this is where you train your tradeskills. As much as I thought about going double gatherer, I caved and went Technologist / Relic Hunter just like I did in Beta. It was so much fun. I'm not usually a huge crafter, but I really enjoyed it in Beta and it really fit well with my character concept for this incarnation of HonorsHammer. I also picked up Farming. I love what the NPC said.
"Just go shoot the plants. Don't worry, I'm sure they had it coming!"
This is Nexus after all. The plans are probably more likely to bite you or infect you with a deadly poison as they are to smell nice.

There was also a taxi to Thayd. I was finally able to start listing stuff on the Auction House and get a little coin going. The biggest problem was that on the Sell Now tab, nearly everything was listed at below vendor prices. I could make more gold selling to the vendor than on the Auction House / Commodities Market. I did a little better with Sell Orders, but most of my stuff expired and I just vendored it.

I did my first Shiphand "Steady Traveler". Again, I had a much easier time than I had had in Beta. Steady Traveler has sort of an Aliens feel to it. It's a fun little excursion. I couldn't find anyone in local who wanted to run with me, so I went solo. Shiphands are great in that you can run them solo or you can run them with a group. They really seem to be targeted at the more casual player who may or may not have time to get a group together.

Gallow led to my favorite questing area of the game so far, a place called Expedition Camp. You see it initally standing on a cliff and staring down into this Eldan complex. There is a this huge giant robot trying to get out but he's stuck.
You go around doing the quests. You meet some interesting characters like Belle Walker and her two trusty scan bots, Rusty and Bolt. The whole area is a treasure trove for the Science path and for the Relic Hunter profession. You eventually find a Exo-Lab and have to activate the fail safe. The ending of the story line is freaking epic.

By the time I was done with the Expedition Camp, I was 15 and ready to try my first Adventure, however; I spent most of the night crafting and exploring Thayd instead.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Green Flag! Nexus Ho!

My start on Nexus was delayed by a family commitment. Ideally, I wouldn't have taken vacation just as Wildstar launched but when Little Hammer made the National finals for the History Bee, we were bound for Atlanta.

This proved to be a boon. I have yet to see a queue and the game has been remarkably stable and bug free as far as I can tell.

I blew through the Arkship quickly as I had done it many times in Beta. What I had not done in Beta was change the default landing site. I decided to roll my Mordesh Engineer, but I wanted to take him to the Human and Granok starting zone of Northern Wilds.



A big reason I wanted to do this was that Northern Wilds leads into Algoroc. Each starting zone has a couple of AMPs that you buy with reputation. AMPs are somewhat analogous to talent points in Wildstar. The difference is that you can’t train some AMPs until you find them in the world. Generally the entire 2nd tier is locked down in this manner. One of the key DPS AMPs for Assault (DPS) Engineers is called Harmful Hits. Harmful Hits increases your Critical Hit chance by 9% when you land a Critical Hit.

The early Engineer plays a lot like the Vanilla Retribution Paladin. Critical Hits power a skill called Quick Burst much like Critical Hits powered the venerable Seal of Command.

It took me a few moments to figure out at exactly which point you switched. I kept getting worried I would take a quest that would lock me into going to Everstar Grove and Celestian (the Aurin / Mordesh starting area). That area has some fantastic lore for those races, but overall, I find the stories and quests far more enjoyable in Algoroc.

Basically, it’s the very last quest you take and it clearly shows an (Optional) quest objective of the other starting area. Even if you mess it up, you can blow through the Arkship in about 30 minutes. If you find yourself in Celestian by accident, you can always start over.

Harmful Hits requires Algoroc Accord reputation (which you get from doing quests in Algoroc). You could travel from Thayd to Algoroc even if you go Celestian but you won’t have the reputation to buy it. You could get a friendly guild mate to purchase it for you or you can check the Auction House/Commodities Exchange.
I made it down to Northern Wilds and started clearing out quests. It wasn't until after I finished Northern Wilds that I noticed that I had a quest item in my bag that started a quest. Fortunately, the NPC I needed had come to the new phase with me. I got a very nice blue weapon. The weapon had an imbuement quest. This is a special quest in Wildstar that opens up a new ability on your weapon. This particular quest would give the weapon a chance to leave a Damage over Time (DoT) effect on your target. My problem was that the quest to activate this ability required me to kill a very specific named mob. That named mob was back in the Northern Wilds area and like the Arkship, there was no way to return to that area to kill that mob. I had to leave the imbuement quest undone.


My late start also helped with Challenges. I was able to complete many of them with little of the competition I heard that early players were facing.


With the Northern Wilds defeated, I set my sites on Tremor Ridge in Gallow.