Sunday, January 29, 2012

My first time: Extraplanar mansion -- The Dragon's Horde!

I really like this quest. In fact, I've a confession to make: despite the title of this post I've actualy run EpM:tDH four times already and collected nearly a thousand ingredients.

It's fun to organize the kobolds, and there's enough fighting to make that feel fun too. I've only run The Dragon's Horde! on my Main, a 1TR paladin that's dripping with Greensteel, Raidloot and spouting self-healing. With that setup this challenge is both fun and no-fail.

But, I'm a little miffed that no matter what I do I always get the same score 225 ingredients. I've tried soloing it, dealing with the extra difficulty of brining a hireling, gathering the nearest crystals, killing the dragon and taking his stuff, and leading the Kobolds into a dead end, and even soloing a higher level (where the 10% bonus exactly broke even with the added difficulty of keeping the kobolds focused on their work instead of selfishly running for their lives).

I like it but I feel like there's no way to really do better which makes me feel like I'm not as much a part of the quest as I should be. The Dragon's Horde is a mediocracytocracy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why F2P Rock Boots (min level 4) are better than they look

I understimated you Homer J. Simpson. You're smarter than you look, or sound or our best testing indicates. - M. Burns.

I've learned to love my Rock Boots (level 4). At first I turned up my nose at them since their save is so very low (Fort 17), but then I got a Reflecting Shield from House L with the same effect and it changed my mind.

The great thing about the Reflecting Shield and the Rock Boots is that they have a 100% proc rate. The guard goes off EVERYTIME I get hit, although of course with such a low proc rate there's only a 5% chance of actualy doing the stone guard prison for real.

But even so, 5% is good for such a useful debuff. A petrified mob is out of the fight for quite a while. I can safely ignore him until the end of the skirmish. I especialy appreciate the boots when I'm entirely surrounded and can't jump free -- the Stone Prison Guard is handy in evening the odds so I can switch from self-healing to offense.

I used to wear 30% striders, but I've found that the expiditious retreat scrolls are just as fast as boots, and they're cheap and last a full miniute.

And last of all, I like the level 4 Rock Boots because they're an easy choice for my next TR from levels four to sixteen (when I get my next pair of Rock Boots).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Paladin level 14 dilemma: Icy Raiment OR Plate of the Defender?

So I've been having fun goofing around at level 13 for a while now. Running enjoyable but low xp quests, breaking the elite streak, and goofing around with soloing challenges. But although I've been wasting time for the sake of fun, it's also, partly, because Im procrastinating making an important decision about my character: Evasion or No?

Evasion is really cool. On my last life I was struggling to find a good Fort item (note: I still don't have Minos Helm or Necro4) but I pulled a Plate of the Defender and the stats on that looked amazing! Mithral! +5 enhancement! +4 Protection and HEAVYFORT! I multiclassed Fighter for the Heavy Armor Proficiency, put on the plate and was very very very happy at how much tougher my character was. The only problem was that I took much more damage in the last two parts of the Shroud. I didn't know why at the time, but as it turns out, Rangers get Evasion for free at level 9 which drasticaly reduces the amount of damage they take from reflex saves (like all the fire an' brimstone Harry spouts) but Evasion is deactivated by Medium and Heavy armor, such as the Plate of the Defender. In short, even though I was getting more AC, I ended up taking more damage from stuff that has reflex saves. Generaly, AC was great against mobs and Evasion was great when it really mattered -- against traps, against casters, against end bosses. So, I resigned myself to do more self-healing against the mobs and have Evasion to mitigate the overwhelming damage spikes.

That was fun, but this time I wanted the heavy armor experience so I planned stay pure Paladin -- unless the going gets rough. Well last night the going is got rough. Specificaly, I was running Framework at level and died TWICE from traps and barrels. Usualy my 400 ish hitpoints give me enough of a buffer but not there!

Technicaly, this new character is even better suited to cloth/light armor and Evasion than my previous character. My Ranger only had enough dex to qualify for Mobility (DEX13) wheras my Paladin has to qualify for TWF (DEX17) and also gets an improved reflex save from Paladin Charisma.

But on the otherhand, I was enjoying the look of the Heavy Armor, and it's not like I'm gonna go Monk for the super huge AC boost.

As soon as I level up I'll be level 14 and able to pick Icy Raiment or Plate of the Defender. Since I'm doing that I may as well get a headstart on Evasion if that's the route I end up going. But to do that, I need to make up my mind.

Right now I'm leaning towards Evasion. I know it works and I already have a bunch of Evasion friendly gear.  But I wish I was able to make heavy armor work for me -- it looks so medieval!

Friday, January 20, 2012

My first time: Kobold Chaos

I didn't read any spoilers, I just jumped in and started playing. (Avast spoilers!)

Kobold Chaos is an excercise in plate spinning. Do three things and be in five places all at the same time. Later on, someone taught me how to use a hireling to pick up some of the slack, but even in a large group there was always plenty to do.

As the Challenge began, I found myself alone on the deck of a small airship. It hovered above a maze of twisting hills and valleys. I never get tired of Airships.

My most successful run was a two stage strategy. 1) Protect 3 small extractors and gather 300 crystals. 2) Fire up the large extractor. 3) Realize that I'm totaly outgunned, so buy more magefire cannons. It was risky because I was playing solo and didn't have anyway to repair the large extractor, but it was fun because I got the most treasure and didn't have to run around all the time.

I also got to run Kobold Chaos in a group. I have no idea what the rest of my team was doing, but I think they were spending crystals or piking. I did better without their "help." I think it would be fun to have a good team, with someone to hunt the archon and supply drop for optional goodies.

Personaly I'm looking forward to playin g around with this quest some more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter storm. No electricity. No DDO. Time for a campfire story about DDO.

Weather up here is crazy. For the first time ever as an adult, I missed a day of work because of snow. Technicaly my feet or my car coulda navagated through the snow, but all the fallen trees, downed powerlines, stalled and wrecked cars, closed streets and canceled busses made it a moot point. For that I'd need a jetpack or a monster truck!

Anyhoo, instead of playing DDO I got to daydream about my adventures before I started blogging. So, in no particular order here are some of my DDO memories (fondness may or may not be included! :) ).

I remember the first time I did the Colaborator quest in Korthos. I had a heck of a time reading the text because a screwy tiny gold font on black is too hard to read. That was the moment I decided, for the first time ever in my entire life, to NOT read the story to a videogame. Why spend time reading something that has been intentionaly made illegible?

And my first shroud run. I intentionaly didn't read any spoilers so I believed every word the PUG said about me -- every word!

I remember the dissapointment of realizing that my con/opp trinket with deathward was not to be.

I remember running the Gianthold and getting lost, and running the Subteraine and getting even more lost. In case you've never been, in the Sub has places where you can fall into darkness. Spooky!

I remember my squishy Tempest Ranger suddenly becoming feeling invincible when he gained Toughness, and again when he got Icy Raiments, and again when he gained Con/Opp, and again when he got Maximize, and again when he got the EPIC! Cloak of midnight.

I remember reading that the item damage from death is different from real damage -- death item damage has no risk of permenant damage. And feeling confident in clearing Captives by using the res shrine twenty times. And then later, using the res shrine in Troglodite's clutch sixty times.

I remember enjoying Epic Von2 (The Prisoner) so much that I almost used my Heart of Wood to optimize him for that quest. And then I remember the sadness of no one running Epic Von2 once the Phiarlane Carnival came out, and then the much easier and less exciting Epic Von2 after the nerf.

I remember thinking that DDO was destined to fail this Christmas and choosing not to buy DDO points, and I remember last week reading the dev's plans for the upcoming year and wishing that I had taken advantage of the sales.

I remember my first character that I was pleased with. A Dwarf Cleric named "Alldone" by one of my toddlers. That character dumped all stats except Wisdom and Constitution.

Edit: Oh, and now I remember my very first  character. Another character named by a toddler: a cleric named Fighter. An unforseen consequence of that name was that people often asked me if I was a battlecleric.

And I remember my bard, who was so much fun to play until a DDO updater error robbed him of his spells. And I remember really getting good at placing firewalls.

Now I just play my main, Dwarf Paladin 13 on his first TR. But I know that there are innumerable permutations if ever get tired of what I'm playing now.

DDO is, like D&D, hundreds of really good games all rolled into one. Now, if only there was a way for me to DM DDO! :D

Monday, January 16, 2012

First time: Behind closed doors / Rushmore's mansion

I know this is old news for everyone else but the Vault of the Artificers challenges are new to me. Turbine released the Vaults when I was leveling my TR. Since the lowest level Vault of the Artificer challenge is level 4, I just horded tokens and waited for that glorious day when I would join a PUG and experience the new and improved excitement of the Crystal coves. (No sarcasm, I really enjoyed it!)

But now my main is TR1 level 13, there's an official thread about the Challenges, and it's high time for me to start. I don't really want any of the loot yet, so I decided to just try to start with the lowest level quests, starting with Rushmore's mansion: Behind closed doors.

I've been skunked twice when I specificaly went out of my way to explore wierd spots, but otherwise I get one or two stars and now I've got over 400 coins. That's enough to get anything that requires coins, so I'll move on now.

I had a fun, but confusing time. I'm not sure why some of the doors give bonus time and others don't. I don't understand why the Air Elementals are tougher than everything else in the extradimensional house. I don't know how to get around or keep it streight in my head.

But I like the music, love the archetecture and look forward to running challenges with other people. (No one wants to pug!)

Last night I had my best run. I terminated the thief and the succubus earning two stars, and I had plans to take out the bruiser when my 5 yo daughter came and tapped me on the shoulder. She said she had a nightmare that the Internet stopped working. Kids today huh?

But anyway, even though I like it, I'm not really excited to play it more. It might be fun as a group, but I don't know where I'm gonna get the people for it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yeah yeah. DDO got me good.

Late at night, I often play a quick game of DDO while my wife and baby sleep nearby. It's not ideal. My wife is a light sleeper and my baby cries at night. But I put on my headphones, type quietly, have fun, and no one's the wiser.

Except last night. I was favor farming some quests that leveled past. And then I happened upon my all time most hated quest: Faithful Departed.

Whenever I think of that quest I think of being poisioned constantly, of the PUG I was leading bickering and complaining. And I remember trying to methodicaly clear the last room, while completely unaware that entering the last room triggers a battle on top of a pyramid on the far side of the room. We also did not know that our side (the venerated) was doomed to fail if we did it the methodical way.

So, despite our multi-death sufferathon the unknown battle went against us and we were suddenly kicked out of the dungeon. Did we win? Did we lose? Was it a bug? We didn't know at first. And then we found out and we hated Faithful Departed with all our might.

But last night I returned with my level 13 Paladin to tackle that level 8 quest. It was much easier now that I'm higher level and am dripping with greensteel and raid loot. And, with the help of my trusty hireling, I managed to save one of the venerated and unbeknownst to me, skip the other one and head streight to the big fight at the pyramid.

En route, I ran down a  staircase. It was trapped but I didn't know it. Just as I was half way down the whole staircase turned into a forest of spiketraps. KA-KLUNK! I screamed a blood curdling scream, and franticly slapped the spacebar. "NoNoNo!" I thought hystericly. "Jump away from the spikes live live live!" BUT I WAS TOO LATE! Damage data erupted from the top of my Dwarf Paladin's head as he lept away from the trapped staircase. I watched with horror as my hitpoints dropped from 497 to 491.

The wife and kid woke up, and it was a huge hassle to get them back to sleep. But I gotta hand it to you DDO, you got me good. ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TR: Level 13 Subterrane loot

My most important Subterrane loot is my large bags. I don't know what I'd do with out them and I've enjoyed having them since before I TRed. But this post is about someting else. Sub Raid loot!

I had so much fun equpping my GS, I couldn't wait to equip more TR gear. I broke my promise to at least farm all the favor and now I'm level 13 with a bunch of incomplete mid level quests. Finding a group that is ok with the XP penalty isn't gonna be easy.

But it was worth it. Now I've got Tharnes Goggles for true seeing and sneak attack. It's been avery long time since I didn't have these sweet goggles, but I remember the twin frustrations fighting displaced mobs and begging for True Seeing. The Sneak attack also gives a +5 to hit and +8 damage against anything I don't have aggro on.

Levik's bracers don't look like much, +6 strength and some healing amp, but that healing amp doesn't just add up, it multiplies. So it's a big deal for someone who gets hit alot and has the ability to heal.

Finaly, Mabar Cloak of Night level 12. I was so excited to level up, I didn't even equip it until I was 13, so I'm including it in this post. Personaly I love the level 12 cloak of night because it has undispellable deathblock -- perfect for those pesky Beholders!

Speaking of which, my first level 13 quest was Invaders! a many beholdered quest if ever there was one!

In my last post I talked about my DDO twin. But in Invaders I met my DDO nemesis -- the Dwarven Paladin Viability Atheist! (DPVA)

Blech! What a slimy guy. But lucky for me, three very fortunate things happened. 1) I ignored him and watched Anime. 2) The rest of the PUG called him on it. 3) I was penultimate on the kill count and didn't die. Not that, the cold shoulder, sound advice or demonstrative facts ever swayed a Dwarven Paladin Viability Atheist, but in the absence of comeuppance their belecose blather compounds endlessly.

But enough about Mr. DPVA. What I wanted to talk about was that I noticed in my previous life that I was basicaly invulnerable to beholders. So I wanted to know if I could get the Invaders Beholders to slay me. It was thrilling at first, but then the answer came back a resounding NO! These beholders can't kill me for some reason. Last time I was running through here at level I was terrified of beholders. I was ok if I could manyshot them, or extend cast at them outside of the range of their terrifying spell like abilities, but now they're harmless! Anyway, it's a laugh and it makes me want to stick with the Hunter of the Dead line for a bit longer.

Friday, January 6, 2012

TR: Level 12 Greensteel weapons /kiss /kiss /kiss

After cluttering this blog with bellyaching about my weapons, I finally get to talk about my Greensteel weapons from my first life.

First up is my pair of Lightning II Dwarf axes. So cool! So deadly! So DPS! I also have a set of Holy I GS hammers for raise dead clickies and skeleton bashing. Lastly a Mineral I GS dwarf axe with stoneskin clickies.

As luck would have it, I stepped into my first ever Chains of Flame run, (I'm a TR but this is a new pack for me) and who should I meet but my twin!

Yeah, seriously. He's a wee lil' Dwarf Paladin just like me. He's TR just like me. He swings a pair of GS Dwarf Axes just like me.

Funniest thing was when we were waiting for a trap to get disarmed. Without talking about it at all, we simultaniously decided to step out of the room, draw identical Dwarven Throwers and snipe a row of annoying skeletons.

The only thing that was different is that my Mithral full plate armor was only +4. So afterwards he gave me a set of Mithral full plate +5!