All Classes

It took me five years, but I finally have a level 70 character of every class!

From left to right, top to bottom:

Phaelia, tiefling trickster rogue
Shintar, half elf devoted cleric
Ekaterina, human great weapon fighter
Daerys, drow control wizard
Puck, halfling hunter ranger
Ophelie, sun elf oathbound paladin
Shintank, dwarf guardian fighter
Shareen, half orc scourge warlock

I have a few more character slots available, but to be honest I can't see myself creating any more alts right now until they release another class, especially as Neverwinter is one of the few MMOs where (in my opinion), levelling another alt just for the sake of starting over isn't actually all that fun..

That said, there's still plenty of max-level stuff to do on all of my existing characters to potentially keep me busy for years to come.


Happy Fifth!

Yes, it really has been five years! I honestly continue to be impressed by how well this plucky little MMO has continued to do (based on realistic measurements of success, not WoW killer standards). I don't see a lot of talk about it in my little corner of the MMO blogosphere, but based on what limited player numbers we have to try to gauge its success, such as Steamcharts, it actually seems to be one of the more popular "second tier" MMOs, seemingly outperforming some competitors that seem to get a lot more buzz (again, in my little corner of the blogosphere), such as EVE, Rift or Secret World Legends.

In unhappier news, I managed to time my summer holiday in such a way that it will prevent me from actually participating in the Protector's Jubilee event (except for a quick check-in today) for the second year in a row. I'll never feel bad about going on holiday of course, but I do feel kind of bad about missing out all this free stuff and fun activities. I should really be better at this by now, considering I know exactly when this particular event will occur every year...


Alliance Life

Being in an alliance is quite similar to being in a clique inside a larger guild, except that it feels more "legitimate" in a way since there is a dedicated structure for it, and in terms of gameplay benefits, the guild/clique is actually more important to you than the alliance.

Like with everything else in Neverwinter, I'm more casual about socialising in it than I am in my main MMO, where I've always been super involved with any guild that I've been in. In Neverwinter on the other hand, I don't even read chat most of the time, including the green guild/alliance chat. On the rare occasions when I do look at it I notice that the people who are talking are way more into the game than I am, though I also see the occasional newbie question which serves to reassure me that I'm not completely clueless.

One thing that's interesting is that there are a couple of names that pop up in alliance chat all the time, to the point that I feel I "know" them. There is Xtremoz, the alliance leader, as well as some players called Bron, Bob and Bab who just seem to be online a lot. They don't know me at all of course, but just seeing the same names in chat over and over again gives the alliance a sense of stability even for casual players like me. It makes me appreciate that even guildies that never or rarely talk might be quietly benefitting from reading guild chat, and that in my SWTOR guild for example, someone might well be looking at me as one of those always-around public faces of the guild that hold things together.


Alliance Update

Talking about stronghold sieges made me realise that I never talked about the alliance we're in beyond my initial post about "GOD". At one point some drama occurred between GOD and one of its subordinate guilds, Will of Oblivion (WoO for short). I wasn't really involved in this; all I know is that WoO eventually left, and our mini guild - being one of WoO's direct subordinates - decided to go with them.

We helped them found their own alliance, and were given a higher position in that than we'd previously held, but to be honest it was kind of undeserved based how small we are. Then one day I found that we'd been kicked for inactivity, but since I was actually active enough to notice right away, pet tank immediately went to WoO's leadership and asked for us to be let in. They obliged, though we ended up at the lowest rank again, which was actually fine.

And that's where we've been since then, now subordinate to a guild called "ASH-2-ASH". I'll write another post about what it's like to be in an alliance at some point.


A Touch Of Madness

Another long-neglected goal achieved: Underdark campaign completion.

The reason I had stayed away from this one for so long was that I perceived it as extremely grindy, and looking at the raw numbers, having to acquire 7000 Faerzress at 18-50 units a pop certainly does add up to quite a slog. Thankfully I got a lot of mileage out of a recent double Underdark currency event.

I did realise though that all things considered, the grind wasn't really that much worse than for most campaigns; what made the difference for me were the heroic encounters. I liked them well enough as something sprinkled in among the regular quests like in Icewind Dale, but a whole campaign of nothing but grinding heroic encounters (or skirmishes I guess) was just super boring to me. I like the classic questing model. I don't think I would have much fun in Guild Wars 2.


Dragon Mastery

So, another thing that I never thought would happen... happened: I completed the last boon from the Well of Dragons campaign. Once I realised how easy Linu's Favor was to gain through doing Temple of Tiamat, it was only a matter of time. I wasn't joking when I said I only needed to do it fifteen more times: That's exactly what I did, one day at a time.

Mind you, most of my runs weren't quite as fast and smooth as that first one, with most of them needing two or three "head phases" to get Tiamat down. One time it even took a full five rounds; I was very surprised that we didn't hit some sort of enrage or fail state considering for how long that fight had been dragging on by that point.

It also took me an embarrassing number of deaths to I figure out how the dragon souls and the five heads' various breath weapons work. On top of that, it wasn't until I did these runs that I realised that the hoard in the Well of Dragons actually has a purpose in the form of buffing the combatants and increasing your chances of good loot! I'd always thought that it was just some leftover from the old days required to originally "unlock" the Temple of Tiamat.

I could see myself doing this on some of my alts now... though not immediately; two weeks of slaying a giant five-headed dragon every day are quite enough for now.


Stronghold Siege

Sticking with the theme of trying new things, I joined members of my guild's alliance for a stronghold siege for the first time the other day. Apparently this is a feature that has been in game for years, since shortly after strongholds were introduced in fact, but I had never actually tried it.

Basically it's 20v20 PvPvE on a modified stronghold map, with the basic premise being that two guilds are trying to take down each other's guild hall. In the vaguest sense it reminded me a bit of WoW's Alterac Valley: a large scale PvP match where you can score points for your side not so much by killing other people but by capturing objectives and completing certain tasks.

It struck me as something that was clearly meant to be quite involved and epic but never really seems to have taken off. The alliance just does it for the rewards from the weekly quest but doesn't take the competition very seriously: one guy just takes on the role of the enemy guild while everyone else smashes his guild hall for an easy win. Seems like a shame really; I could imagine this being pretty epic when played "properly".


So... Ravenloft

Last week Cryptic announced that Neverwinter's next module is going to be Ravenloft. I'm not going to link the so-called announcement trailer because it's literally nothing but a few seconds of spooky sound before the title card appears - you can do better than that, Cryptic.

That said, most of the reactions I've seen so far have been rather pleased with the news. During my own tabletop roleplaying days my very first adventure was set in Ravenloft, so I have fond memories of the setting too. DDO also had a Ravenloft expansion not long ago, which Syp has been gushing about.

That said, some of the details have dampened my excitement a bit. For example there will be more hunts, which I'm still not fond of, and Castle Ravenloft itself will apparently be an epic dungeon, so my chances of ever seeing it are quite low.


I Killed Tiamat!

Only took me... three and a half years?

As part of my current project to get my main caught up on unfinished campaigns, I've been adding to the hoard in Well of Dragons to gain Linu's Favor, but it's just ridiculously grindy. Everyone says that doing the epic trial to kill Tiamat is much better for gaining this currency, but I'd never done it.

I wasn't really deterred by my recent terrible experience in Assault on Svardborg, as I knew that my pet tank and at least one other guildie had completed this particular trial successfully many times before, and if they could do it, then so could I! I quizzed my pet tank about tactics and he reckoned that - considering that this was the very first epic trial added to the game and has been around for years, so people mostly know the fight quite well - my chances were probably pretty good.

And indeed, I got lucky. It took a little while for the queue to pop, but once I got in I was just following a raging horde of experienced players around who killed everything in seconds. The top damage dealer finished the instance with nearly 150 million damage done! The tactics didn't even seem to matter much - for example I had often been told about how you need to kill Tiamat's many heads at roughly the same time (within a timed phase) to prevent them from respawning, but in this group they were dying so fast that the whole group just ran from one head to the next, killing them one by one, and then the boss was already dead before the next phase could even start. Meanwhile, I managed to die once by accidentally jumping off a cliff.

But I did get one Linu for my efforts! Now, if I can repeat that about fifteen times, it won't have been too terrible a time investment overall...


No Life At Sea

The other day I was surprised by this achievement popping up while I was making the rounds in Sea of Moving Ice (click to embiggen):

Seriously, five hours of just cruising around in the damn boat? Just more evidence that this zone is way too large. What am I doing with my life...