State of the Game: Backlog Goals

Despite having a pretty regular posting schedule these days, I still don’t touch on all of the things that I’m doing in my day-to-day life. I play other games besides the ones I write about, have thoughts about various titles or my progress on projects, and still mess around with my Magic cards. I also do that thing called “living” so there’s much more going on than might be alluded to here on the blog. It’s been a while since I did a round up post so I thought I’d take the time to do so today. Besides working on Everquest II and making my way through the backlog, I’ve got some specific updates and then some thoughts to round things up. Let’s get started.

I’ve made steady progress with Clash Royale, the only mobile game I play with any regularity. The last time I wrote about it, Supercell had just added another arena. The Electro Valley arena became Arena 11, pushing Hog Mountain down to Arena 10, and making the Legendary Arena #12. At that time, I was placed in Arena 11 due to my trophy count, so that was a nice little boost. I have since pushed my way into the Legendary Arena and also upped my King level to 12. Hitting 13 is a long ways off, mainly because it’s going to take 80k points to get there and I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20k at the time of this writing. My highest trophy count is 3914, which happened recently. I pushed into Legendary status a while back but then fell back down into Arena 11, and pushed my way back up to 12 where I have stayed for the last month or so. Getting to Challenger status isn’t too far off.

 

My two main decks are above. I used to only focus on one deck, but I have found that having a couple to choose from is nice to break up the monotony. I tend to use my Hog/Loon deck the most, especially when trying to work my way up the ladder, while I use the Golem deck primarily in 2v2 matches, but I have a feeling that it might be more consistent as I get up into the Challenger scene.

 

I finally got my hands on a Mega Knight (actually upgraded him to level 2 already as well) since my last post, which was the last card I needed to “catch em all” at that point. Since then the Royal Ghost released and I recently got one of them out of a chest. The most recent card is the Magic Archer, which we just got to check out in one of the Challenges, but he hasn’t released just yet. He’ll be the only card I need once he comes out. Overall the game is still a blast to play and I do so daily.

I’m still plugging away at The Order 1886, which has been a pretty fun title, but a bit more challenging than those I played through recently. There are some stealth bits that require you to not be detected, and if you are it’s instant-death which is rather frustrating. Regardless, I have worked my way through the 6th chapter and progress is steady. I want to complete this one before really starting on something new, as I have been trying to keep focused on clearing out my backlog. I have some ideas for where I’ll start next, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

Over the weekend my girlfriend and I did some errands and while we were out I spotted a couple of older MTG starter decks that I picked up on a whim. At $15 a pop they tend to have alternate art or Planeswalkers at the helm, a preconstructed 60 card deck along with a couple of booster packs for whatever particular set they are from. I picked up the Nicol Bolas Planeswalker deck from Hour of Devastation, along with a starter deck from Eldritch Moon (a few sets back, before they started doing Planeswalker decks for each set). I really only picked them up because I wanted the Nicol-Bolas Planeswalker and the alternate art Noosegraf Mob that came with the starter kit.

The face cards are on the right there, Noosegraf mob is a card I needed for the Alesha deck I’m building, and Nicol Bolas for another EDH build I’m working on. I ended up pulling some nice additions out of the booster packs – Unesh will slot into my Sphinx deck and Tamiyo is another Planeswalker that will go into the deck with Bolas. Nice pulls!

I also resubscribed to the Humble Monthly service again for March, as Dark Souls 3 + DLC was the featured game. Steam is having a Lunar New Year sale at present, and this game was on sale for $15, but via Humble I was able to get it plus DLC for only $12. This is great for the wallet, but unfortunately I still haven’t completed the first two games in the series, so this is just more fodder for the backlog!

Speaking of which, I am having trouble deciding what to start next after I complete The Order. I have Alien: Isolation which I started just to check out and only played for about an hour, I also have Shadow Warrior 2 which I spent a few hours on but didn’t complete. There’s Monster Hunter World which I would like to dive into, along with the aforementioned Dark Souls trilogy. The latter few would be a significant time investment, but still worth doing. I also have plenty of other titles that are collecting dust, so it’s going to be a tough choice! I’ll write about The Order again once I’ve completed it, and perhaps by then I will have decided what to do next.

That’s all for this wrap up. Until next time, happy gaming!

Everquest II: Ascension

This post has been a long time coming. I felt like making smaller incremental posts was a bit silly, because I haven’t been devoting the sort of hours you normally would to an MMO. I don’t have the time that I used to for starters, and I also promised myself that I would continue on my streak of finishing off games from my backlog — so time is split. It’s fine though, I can afford one MMO subscription and I recently paid for my third month and basically cleared one expansion’s main questline at this point. Kunark Ascending released a year prior to the current expansion, Planes of Prophecy. It was recommended that I finish the signature questline from KA prior to heading into the new expansion’s content for one reason: Ascension. There are four Ascension classes and each can be leveled up to 15 (it was 10 at the time of KA’s release but the cap was raised with PoP). I have some baubles to help with the leveling effort, and apparently you get some books once a day so I am now at a point where I have to try to commit to logging in each day, if for no reason other that to pick up these free books.

My father explained all of the mechanics to me a while back but I’m a bit fuzzy on the details at the moment. I just know that I have to do things in a particular order or risk being stuck in the boat he is where grinding out the last bits of experience for the Ascension levels will be a pain in the ass. I’m going to follow his advice, just need to get a refresher course first. I stopped once I had finished the signature quest last night, so I’ll report back on my progress there as I get back into it and check out the new expansion finally.

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I’ve written about some of my exploits throughout KA in my past couple of EQ2 posts, and above you’ll see the scope of things — from landscapes to dungeons to other planes of existence. The storyline seemed to follow a ploy by one of the gods to take down her father Innoruuk. You were a pawn in this, doing various errands for different factions, interacting mostly with Iskar and Sarnaks, culminating in a battle with a God’s (or demi-God?) pet who is a raid boss level. She kicks your ass and the quest is over, and then you unlock the Ascension trainers. Honestly I didn’t read a lick of quest text except for the ones in the above screenshots. It was still fun, and I really enjoyed the Kunark levels, also that the new zone filled in the Kunark map and touched on all of the old school EQ1 zones that I remembered. In the end though, this was just a stepping stone. Despite doing all of that content I only netted about 11% of a level, but apparently the XP starts to flow once you start on the new zones so I’m looking forward to finally hearing DING! again.

I’m going to try and get started this week, so hopefully I’ll have some impressions of the new content for you by the weekend. Until then, happy gaming!

Everquest 2: Housing

While running around doing various quests on my freshly boosted Wizard, I found that I was starting to fill up my bags with various housing items, and though he did own his own little Inn room in Timerous Deep, I really don’t care for the Inn rooms in the game. Each city has different themed Inn rooms that look a bit different but all have one thing in common — they’re tiny! A long time ago I decided to move my Paladin from his home in Qeynos to a new larger Manor in Halas, and at that point I didn’t have much to fill it with. As such, I decided that I would give “trustee” access to the house to my Brigand and combine all of their housing items into one place. Because of this decision, I thought it wise to also give that trustee access to my Wizard and put all of his stuff inside as well. This was basically a post I had through about writing years ago but never got around to doing so.

I did recall seeing some housing deeds in my veteran rewards however, so I decided that before I moved my Wizard into the Halas Manor, that I should check out some of these new housing options and perhaps move everyone into one of them instead. Three different deeds were on my account, so I claimed all three and went exploring.

Sprocket’s Interlocking Plane

This “house” actually came with the specific edition of the newest expansion. It’s not really a house per se, but it does have a couple of buildings on it that you could theoretically set up as your house. You can fly here (hence the screenshot) but I don’t really like the fact that it isn’t a house itself but your own little dimension. It did provide a portal house item that I placed in the Halas house though, so perhaps I can sort through my belongings and deck this place out.

Isle of Refuge

So for those of us who played the game at launch, this is a hit of nostalgia. They also brought back the original opening tutorial area of the game recently, but for a long while it was a thing of the past. They basically gave you the entirety of the zone to use as a house though it is not populated. There was a little kit of NPCs that came with it, so you can actually populate it a bit, but I don’t think I’ll ever have enough housing items to fill up an island.

Mistmoore Crags Estate

This is the only one that you could remotely consider a house, but it’s actually bigger than my Manor in Halas, and kind of drab. I was considering using this house because it is rent free, but at the moment I am not using it. I finally decided that I would just roll with the Halas house for now for all three of my characters. At this point, I thought I’d share the house, and take you on a virtual tour of sorts:

Main entry way
Opposite end of table, facing main door
The study, complete with L&L + HQ items on the wall
A bunch of various books and HQ items
The back patio complete with various older mounts I have collected.
Downstairs, more mounts, L&L + HQ items
The entry room from upstairs
One of the upstairs rooms where many of my pets were congregating, along with religious altars
The bedroom, also some mannequins with old school armor sets that used to be good
Plushie collection and fireplace
The last upstairs room that I designated as a bathing area

I feel like having an actual house is a nice touch, and seeing all of the cool items that I worked hard to get throughout the years is satisfying. I truly thing EQ2 has probably the best housing system out of any other MMO I’ve played. The newer houses feel more like the housing in Rift, where it’s more of a zone and not just a house. I may find a way to use those yet, as I added portals to them from the Halas house. Either way, I thought it was a cool trip down memory lane!

EQ2: Progress Report

I’ve been subbed to Everquest 2 again for about a month, and because of the holidays much of that time was wasted, but I’ve paid my next month’s subscription already and I’m making progress nonetheless. Initially I was torn with whom I wanted to use the level 100 boost on, and eventually chose my low level Wizard who has actually been around since 2009 according to my /played stats, but had only reached his mid-30s in that time due to being an alt and not getting much attention.

My Wizard “Fohs” on one of the fancy mounts that came with the expansion.

After using the boost, it turns out that boosting a character to 100 doesn’t quite work as well as one would like. Some of your skills and factions are unaffected, so there’s some potential for back tracking there. You also don’t get any of the boons you may have collected over the years like tradeskill pack animals, various teleportation devices, epic weapons, etc. You do get leveled to 100 and earn 320 AAs right off of the bat, and can also use a boost for your tradeskill level (which I did, so Fohs is also a level 100 Sage), but there are still things to work on and sometimes that means backtracking to learn languages or build faction here and there. I have spent the entirety of my play sessions doing just this, and haven’t even begun on the new expansion, but of course I don’t play as religiously as I once did. I’m still finding enjoyment in this and that’s rare for me; I typically burn out during the slog but being so close to new stuff (and actually the old stuff is still new to me) is a motivator, and seeing something new at every turn has kept me engaged.

The long and the short of things was that in order to be truly viable in the new expansion, earning “Ascension Classes” was optimal. In the last expansion, Kunark Ascending, these classes were added as another alternate form of advancement, as the prior two expansions did not raise the level cap. There are four Ascension classes, and it appears that any class can be any/all of them, and each can be leveled up using a different form of experience. Once you have unlocked all four there is a best-in-slot mythical trinket that raiders are still using even in the current meta, so apparently it’s a necessity. There is a list of prerequisites to get started here, and though my original two characters would likely have most if not all of those done already, my boosted character did not. This meant having to learn Draconic (had the tablet in the bank though, so that was less of a hassle), Goblish and Satherian languages, completing the Greenmist HQ from Rise of Kunark and also earning some faction in the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion.

ToT was an “overland” zone that was underground, and despite being mostly rock formations it still had some interesting sights to see, but I was basically in and out of there. After completing a few quests you earn enough faction to head into the city of Maldura, which is where the Ascension trainers are. Next, I had to start on the Kunark Ascending signature timeline, which sends you into ToT for a little bit before teleporting you to the Obulous Plains, the main overland zone for KA. At this point, I have completed 4-5 quests in the chain but there are a few more to go. Obulous Plains is another one of those throwback zones, much like in the original Kunark expansion where it hearkened back to EQ1 zones like The Overthere and Lake of Ill Omen, this new Kunark zone hearkens back to zones like Warslik’s Wood and I think that’s really cool. The zone design is pretty impressive as well for a 13 year old game, they seem to have figured out ways to improve use of the engine because the newer zones look damn fine.

The Kunark Ascending timeline is supposed to run me through the entirety of the zone and there are a few instances as well. After completing this timeline I will have access to the trainers, and at that point I can buy a bauble from a merchant for 100 plat that allows any alts to skip all of these prerequisites and get straight into the Plane of Magic to start on the newest content. However, I know that my Brigand is level 94 and had a couple of expansions to go before even getting to that point so perhaps he will see a bit of the older content and won’t even need the bauble. My Paladin will likely need the help though as he hasn’t been played with any regularity since the level cap was 70 or 80, so he’s probably missing some of the quests.

So far I’m enjoying my time spent in the game. I will finish off this timeline soon and immediately get involved in the new stuff. I think within a month or so I should have this character at level 110 and then can focus on bringing up my other characters. It would be nice to have three characters at the cap, so that if I do take a break again (let’s say by summer) then I can come back at expansion time and be ready to go instead of always playing catch up!

Entering The Planes of Prophecy

As promised, I was gifted a copy of the newest Everquest 2 expansion, Planes of Prophecy by my Dad as an early Christmas gift. The purchase was made last night, and I took the opportunity to jump in game and get started. The first order of business was to make my decision on who to use my level 100 boost on.

Having spent some time playing around with my Wizard earlier in the week, I had grown quite fond of the character and even leveled him a bit through his 30’s. He ended up being the character that I used the boost on, and then I received a bag of gear along with some of the other goodies provided in one of the upgraded editions. The instant level to 100 netted me a bunch of achievements based on levels, and granted me 320 AAs, which was about 200 on top of what I already had. I used one of the server side builds for now just to get the points assigned, and then finished off the other character development choices and was ready to go. Or so I thought.

My Dad was online, and started familiarizing me with other things that were new to the expansion, along with giving me a laundry list of other things I would need to do in order to really get started in the new zones. First off, we headed to the Plane of Magic, where he took me to a vendor that gives you more new gear that is supposed to be semi-raid gear from the previous expansion. I equipped that gear and my stats were through the roof compared to anything I was used to. Seeing millions of hit points on a cloth wearer was shocking!

Next up was grabbing the new Mercenary that came bundled with the expansion. Apparently this ugly little troll/goblin/thing is an Inquisitor and from what my Dad tells me he’s pretty awesome.

Not very cute though. Some of the other goodies included a familiar that can be leveled up and provides a buff, along with some rather cool looking mounts and other things like a vendor cabinet that reduces all broker fees to zero. I didn’t get to do much else in the new zones, because as I said there are some things I need to do before I can really get started. But I did get a couple of good shots of our entry:

We headed back to the guild hall afterwards, and I realized that I needed to redo all of my hotbars and make sure I had the best versions of my spells set up. Apparently I can start off in the Plane of Magic right away, but then I’d be missing out on Ascension levels and other things that were added previously. I guess there is a signature quest line that I need to complete on one character before I can skip it on others, and some faction grinding to do so I’m not KOS somewheres. Essentially a bunch of information was dumped on me in a very short amount of time so I’m just going to take his word for it that there are some pre-requisites to do and then I can level through the new zones. I’m actually pretty excited and looking forward to getting started!

While we were in the guild hall he showed me some of the new additions he had made; new amenities that are helpful and some other ways to instantly teleport to zones that didn’t exist the last time I had played. The guild buff is nice, and being able to expedite travel is good too. He also made me an officer, so if anyone is playing the game on the Maj’dul server, I can offer you guild membership if you are interested!

There was a stack of in-game emails that came my way and will be starters for new quest chains so I’ll have more to figure out and to get started on. It’s likely that I’ll be able to put in good amounts of time before long, as I’m off from the 24th until the 2nd of January.

So I’m back in Norrath, and it feels good.