Battle Bards Episode 31: Listener Request 2

In this episode of Battle Bards, the hosts face their greatest threat yet: fire!  Yes, this show was disrupted by a genuine fire emergency, but happily everyone came out of it unscathed.  In other news, the bards tackle the second part of a series focusing on listener suggestions.  Good music and great discussion abounds in this show, so don’t miss out!

Episode 31 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “The Hero’s Call” from Ultima Forever)
  • “A Euology for Hope” from Warhammer Online (suggested by Thomas)
  • “Answers” from Final Fantasy XIV (suggested by CariMac)
  • “Harababuresti Dances” from The Secret World (suggested by Richard Bartle)
  • “Glorious Future” from EVE Online (suggested by Mika)
  • “Theme for Rohan feat. Taylor Davis” from Lord of the Rings Online (suggested by Redbeard)
  • “Vigilant Church Theme” from WildStar (suggested by Nightmare System)
  • What did we like the best?
  • Mail from Redbeard
  • Outro (featuring “Disband Deed” from Wurm Online)

Listen to episode 31 now!

LOTRO: Through the Paths of the Dum

deadAnd so it begins.

It’s been over a month (two months?) since I last logged into LOTRO, a realization that gave me a pang of guilt.  But I couldn’t resist checking in now that Update 14 landed.  It’s what I’m calling a pocket expansion: bigger than the average update but smaller than a full-fledged expansion.  There are three (sort of four) new zones, 5 more levels (and new skills?), the essence system, a new epic book, and well over 100 new quests to chew through.  Good stuff.

This update is notable for finally taking us out of Rohan and into Gondor proper.  A surprisingly quick trip through the Paths of the Dead served as a transition between the two countries.  Is it just me, or should Turbine have doled out more quests in the Paths of the Dead?  It’s such an impressive set piece that you just breeze through like it was a rest stop.

Along with the new update came a producer’s letter that contained a few changes for the upcoming plan for the game.  Beornings will start at level 1 when they come out, which is as it should be (and will give Turbine a chance to sell more insta-boosts to 50 in the store, I’m sure), the level cap will NOT be raised to 105 later this year (I don’t care either way), and Turbine’s making an effort to allow you to keep a legendary item and build upon it instead of constantly recycling them.  I heartily endorse this last decision with a reserved opinion for when I see how it’s going to work.

dumsI didn’t get much into Gondor itself because I got invited to fill in a spot with the Monday night Dums.  These are folks from my former kin that get together once a week to run skirmishes together and level oh-so-slowly (my level 95 was easily 10 levels higher than the rest of them, but I did not lord my superiority).  Oh, and they dress up all bizarrely and have some sort of suicide pact that I only realized about halfway into a run.  “Hey, let’s give that dragon a cuddle!” was their battle cry.

Another “tradition” of theirs that they told me was how they love to throw down all of those temporary banners that skirms give people, even though nobody knows what those banners do.  It’s just for looks, especially when they can get about ten slapped down on a spot.

It was a fun run — I definitely approve more of skirmishes than most group content in this game — even though I had a really bad blue-line healing build slapped together after the update’s trait reset.  Even with those ten extra levels I couldn’t grab aggro that well.

And let me tell you, after a couple of months of playing nothing but action combat-style MMOs, it was a bit of an… adjustment to go back to the global cooldown and traditional fighting.  It wasn’t horrible, but I found myself a little impatient at waiting for slow skills to fire off so that I could get to the next one.  Could Turbine speed up combat a little bit?  I wouldn’t mind, trust me.

Guild Wars 2: Taimi fan club

taimiI’m taking my Ranger through Dry Top before Tuesday’s next drop and confirming what I felt the first time I went through season 2, episode 1 here — this is by far more engaging content than much of what’s come before in Guild Wars 2′s living world.  As some have noted, it’s very reminiscent of Guild Wars 1′s mission structure, a blend of open world adventures and instanced vingettes.

I like how this content is layered depending on one’s level of interest.  For me, it’s nice to just go through the story (~1-2 hours) and be content waiting for the next episode to drop.  But there are options to do more champion fights and rerunning episodes to tackle achievements, which, hey, I guess is better than nothing if you’re only playing Guild Wars 2.

Out of the NPC troupe that you’re tagging along with even though they never once refer to you by name (I feel like such a… seventh wheel?), Taimi is becoming a fast favorite in my book.  It’s not just that she personifies a child with a serious disease — which is pretty unique in the annals of video game lore — but that she’s such a driven, smart character that won’t accept being left behind.  I mean, *I* want a battle golem to ride around in, that’s pretty awesome.  And her little snarky asides (“Braham, did she just call us fat?” had me laughing) have endeared her to me.

Maybe I only know very surface details compared to Guild Wars 2 players who have doctorates in extensive knowledge of the game world the way some are wont to have, but Taimi’s just fascinating to me.  Braham and Rox obviously have taken on the roles of surrogate mom and dad for her, which is all levels of amusing as a parent myself.

I’ll admit to being a little worried when we all left Taimi with the Scarlett artifacts, because a little part of me wonders if whatever drove that weird Sylvari insane might come out to infect the Asura.  Of course, that would be a major driving force to going on more adventures to help her out, but I don’t think anyone wants to see Taimi hurt more than she already is.

WildStar: The garage sale that is my house

toastThis is the state of my house right now in WildStar.  No, it is not clever feng shui that will make sense the more you look at it.  It is a helter-skelter pit of jumbled despair.  And yes, that’s a giant piece of toast over there because why not?

What’s actually going on here is that I’m working on designing the upstairs at the moment, so I’ve dumped these items here for the time being since all of them contribute to the housing rest bonus.

Last night I decided to hunker down and commit myself to figure out how crafting works, exactly.  I’ve been pretty confused on this point, mostly because WildStar only gives you the most casual of hints in this direction when you need a two-hour seminar that’s taught by a detail-oriented Aurin.  I guess the devs figured that crafters are committed enough that they’ll teach themselves and who needs to draw in others, really?  Like a badge of honor to unravel all of this.

The crafting is just different enough from the MMO norm that it takes a little bit of a mind-shift to comprehend.  It still has the “dump components into a recipe to get results” but there’s a pseudo-minigame to allow you to hit variations, and then on top of that is a tech tree I didn’t even see until last night that you work your way up to new recipes.  It’s actually engaging and satisfying once I’d figured it out, and I had some fun blowing through all of my saved-up crafting mats to make things like giant toast and hover hammocks.

Since I’m deep into housing (really, who isn’t in this game?) the architect makes sense to feed that decor addiction.  I just need to organize, sort, and fix this garage sale up so that my place starts looking like an actual home and not an episode of Nexus Hoarders.

WildStar: Syp vs. Bonetalon

bonetalonHaving a group quest in my log kinda stresses me out a bit, because I know that it’s not always up to when I want to get the quest done, but when the opportunity presents itself in the form of other interested players.  Usually I don’t have a problem putting a call out to zone chat, since there’s almost always a couple of people with the same quest lurking over their heads, but last night I couldn’t find anyone to fight Mr. Bonetalon here.

Fine.  I’m not going to be slave to the suggested group size, I determined.  I took out my hospital staple guns and went to town on this oversized chicken.  And it mopped the ground with my face — but only after I made a good dent in its health bar.

So I regrouped by buffing up and replacing a DPS skill for a healing one.  I came back at Bonetalon like a man possessed, dodging its telegraphs like mad, doing damage when I could, and always healing, healing, healing.  Long story short, after about seven minutes, I whittled that bird’s health down to nothing while keeping my own topped out.  That was a good accomplishment for the night.

Speaking of accomplishments, I’ve really come around on challenges in WildStar.  Sure, some are really annoying and sometimes borderline impossible, but not *having* to do them but *wanting* to do the ones I do make a difference.  I find that I really do enjoy trying my hand at each challenge as they come along, at least making bronze for a shot at a good prize.  And if the challenge ends up having a juicy loot table?  I make a note of it for the future.

I’ve worked on two quick Thayd challenges to my daily rotation, since both of them take five minutes combined and offer chances at decor and dye.  It’s how I’m ending most of my night sessions, with a quick sprint through the town and some garbage pickup.  I can see myself going back through the game later on to mop up the challenges that I missed or failed at doing.