Archive for January, 2014

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TSW: Nightmare Darkness War

January 31, 2014

nm dw 2

Wait, what’s this? A Secret World post on a Friday? Surprise!

Yesterday, a few of my guildies and I put together an impromptu TSW night, to try our hand at another Nightmare. Thanks to the tips and advice from helpful commenters in my last post, we had a better idea of which dungeon to do. Seems to me the overall consensus is that Darkness War is the best entry level NM, so that is exactly what we did. Sometimes I have to remind myself that TSW is a whole different beast than other MMOs, that typical assumptions — such as, the first chronological dungeon in a game is always the easiest — are not always the case!

Polaris, for example, is apparently quite the toughie on NM mode. Now I actually feel a lot better about getting as far as we did, for a group just starting out. And to have almost beat the last boss too. It didn’t occur to me that most groups do the first five bosses in the various dungeons first, getting more adequately geared up in epics before tackling the sixth bosses. It just sounds so contrary to intuition especially if you’re used to playing other MMOs, but in TSW actually makes a lot of sense. And like I said, TSW is not like other MMOs.

nm dw

So how did we do in Darkness War? Quite well, to be honest. Was it actually easier? Well, compared to some of the bosses in Polaris? Yes. I don’t think we would have made it as far as we did (killed the first give bosses and left the last boss, as per the plan) if it wasn’t. So folks who commented were absolutely right about that. Still, compared to dungeons I’ve run in other games, it was still a bitch.

Again, this is TSW after all. Sometimes I do feel this game is pure evil, pretty much leaving you zero room for mistakes. But after much trial and error, practice and persistence, the feeling you get when you finally kill a boss for the first time is very rewarding. Case in point, it felt so satisfying to finally bring down the Unbound Ak’ab (to tell the truth, bringing down any Ak’ab is satisfying). Ironically, this boss is a cakewalk when it comes to normal and Elite modes, but on NM he gave us a lot of trouble.

mayan battle mage

The fifth boss, the Mayan Battle Mage, wasn’t much better, though his fight is all about knowing when to run away from bad stuff on the ground. The fact that even one misstep can kill the unsuspecting healer or DPS was the problem. In the end, I think he finally had it with us and just decided to bug out in one place, throw all his adds out at once, and keel over dead. Hey, I don’t care if we beat him by default, a win is a win! And we would have gotten him on our next try anyway *wink*

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TSW: Nightmare Progression

January 28, 2014
facepalm

Speedos…this is why the bosses kill us.

Our Secret World Monday group has reached a milestone, with all of us having gotten attuned for Nightmare dungeons…which means that now everyone can experience the pleasure of getting their clocks cleaned again and again by the sea monsters in Polaris.

After a couple weeks break, I wish I could report that we finally cleared the dungeon, but the place is still getting the better of us. The truth is, there’s definitely no shortcut to success, and I can kind of see now how casual players will have trouble getting far in this game. Especially when so much of it is about practice, practice, practice.

Case in point, I can’t tell you how many times the Varangian has wiped the floor with us, but all those times we failed have been learning experiences. I think I know all his tricks now, and sure enough this time when we went in, we got him down in one shot. Going in with heavy DPS is also how we finally managed to take down the Primordial Dweller, but even that took a bunch of wipes to understand the best way to control the fight. This was actually the first time I’ve beaten him though, so there’s that personal victory at least.

dead in the water

Dead in the water…

The Ur-Draug though, was a beast. Literally. That guy hits like a Mack truck on Elite, and on NM he’s upgraded to freight train. We came close once to defeating him, but that was one time in a dozen tries. It tells me we’re definitely capable of bringing him down, but simply put, we just haven’t done the fight enough to know how to push his buttons.

Still, this is the farthest I’ve ever gotten in NM Polaris. At least I know now it’s just this one last pesky boss.

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Battle Bards Episode 20: Flyff

January 21, 2014

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

What the flyff is Flyff, you ask? It’s the theme of our latest show – Fly For Fun! Seriously, though, you’ll have to ask Syl. Syp and I are just along for the ride, or uh, flight.

LISTEN NOW

Flyff

Episode 20 show notes
  • Introduction (including “Title Screen” and “General”)
  • “Flaris Town Theme”
  • “Death”
  • “Saint Morning”
  • “Crisis/Darkon 1-2 Battle Theme”
  • “General Theme (Flaris)”
  • “Playground”
  • “Darkon Forest Theme”
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Mail from Rowan
  • Mail from Dolnor
  • Outro (“Playground”)
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TSW: Tanking…It’s A Love-Hate Thing

January 14, 2014

bunny slippers

Ah, tanking. It’s really a role I fell into, not just in The Secret World, but in a lot of other “holy-trinity” type MMOs as well. After all, you can’t get nowhere without a meatshield. Since my husband and I always play as a healer-tank team anyway, and I’m typically the one who enjoys running around with bigass swords, the threat-magnet duties naturally always fall to me.

For the most part, I love it! A lot of people will tell you that tanking is a pretty thankless job, but I find that even making a simple healthy lifestyle choice such as staying away from toxic PuGs will cut down on 90% of the stress and anxiety. The other 10% for me is mostly personal, because I know I’m hard on myself. Even when I’m playing with a group of friends and guildies who I know are casual and cool, I still can’t help beating myself up feeling responsible whenever a wipe happens. Some might joke that I take the role of “guardian” or “protector” (or in the case of World of Warcraft, “druid mama bear”) too seriously, but really, they’re not that far off!

Anyway, not that a lot of wipes have been happening in TSW; I think weeks of running Elites and working to get everyone Gatekeeper-ready has made most of the fights feel like old hat. I think in some ways it’s this complacency which has made the transition to Nightmares such a…well, nightmare. It’s like slacking on your workout regime during the holidays and having to pick it up again after the new year. It’s like, all of a sudden, strategy and rotations are a big deal again!

Practice makes perfect. Right now at this early stage it’s starting to really sink in that everything pretty much has to go down flawlessly during a boss fight. I find now it’s especially true for the tank, and with my hit rating where it is still, I really can’t afford to head into a NM dungeon with less than three interrupts. It’s like adding a whole other layer of complex micro-management into the mix, one involving things like minding cast bars and saving cooldowns, or in general watching the timing for everything. That’s on top of that whole maintaining aggro business.

Mind you, this isn’t really a “complain” post. In many ways I love how an MMO is challenging me again, and this is like going back to the old school days of experimenting, trial and error, and the hurling-our-dead-bodies-over-and-over-at-the-boss-until-he-dies style learning that I’ve come to embrace again in recent days. Even though I might not feel it at the time, heh, looking back, I guess there is a such a thing as a fun side to that. Like I said on Twitter though, there are times when I simply love to tank, while at others I’d rather have maggots chew out my eyes and brain. Some days, NM dungeons seriously make me feel like the latter.

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Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me

January 8, 2014

4 bday

Holy crap, as of yesterday this blog is four years old! Time really flies, doesn’t it? It feels more like three, though that might be because I completely forgot my blogiversary last year. Would have forgotten this year too, truth be told, if Rowan (who will be celebrating his own blogiversary very soon as well) hadn’t reminded me. I am just bad with birthdays.

Anyway, since my blog’s anniversary is in January, technically this post could also serve as a look back at 2013. Once again, this blog didn’t see as much activity in the last year as I would have liked. In my defense though, it was a busy year in terms of real life, and quite honestly, it was a pretty tame one for MMOs. Tame…but definitely not lame.

I only participated in the launches of mainly two games — Defiance and Neverwinter — and both released during the first part of the year (though in the latter’s case, an um, open-beta-that-really-wasn’t-a-beta).

nw

Instead, I spent the last year revisiting a lot of old favorites. World of Warcraft, of course, is as ever the dependable standby. I would play a couple months, take another couple months off, then do it all over again. I know I can always count on it being there whenever I feel like a romp through Azeroth.

panda

Star Trek Online saw some play too because of their new expansion. I rolled a Romulan, got to have some fun with the duty officer mini-game, and got roped into doing dailies for their summer event. This was the year I truly came to develop an appreciation for a free-to-play STO.

romulan

A few months ago, I also surprised myself by resubbing to Star Wars: The Old Republic. This was thanks to the revitalization of our guild, which included a faction change to refocus our efforts on the Empire side. SWTOR saw an expansion too, and I’m still hopping in now and then getting in my Galactic Starfighter battles. They’re a lot more fun once you get a hang of the controls and start upgrading your ship.

ops

And finally, there’s The Secret World. TSW Mondays are still going strong, and in terms of social events, it’s probably Mercy Gaming’s greatest success. I don’t think anyone would have believed it a year and a half ago, but it’s true that our weekly group has steadily grown since Secret Mondays first started. To the usual gang, thanks for making this such a great year in TSW.

headstand

Other highlights of the year that aren’t really related to gaming (and in fact, they actually took away from my gaming time, but I wouldn’t change that for the world!) include some of my new hobbies:

1) Pathfinder! I have reason to look forward to Sunday nights now that my friends and I hold weekly games over Fantasy Grounds 2 and Teamspeak.

2) Miniature painting! I’ve always wanted to get into this, and this year I finally took the plunge!

3) Podcasting! Recording Battle Bards with my co-hosts Syp and Syl has been such fun this year.

4) Book blogging! I’ve always read voraciously, and this year I went one step further and started a book blog with a couple of my friends. It has been amazing.

And of course, nothing beats spending time with my family. My little girl is almost two now, and every day she fills my life with surprises and delight. My husband and I don’t get to play video games as much anymore, spending a couple hours a night in our MMOs only after we’ve put the baby to bed. When she’s awake, we don’t want to miss a moment with her!

Finally, to my readers, I want to thank you for another fantastic year. 2014 looks to be another great one with a couple big MMOs on the horizon. I haven’t mentioned these games a lot on my blog the past year, mostly because I’ve resolved to keep my excitement in check going forward, but I’d like to go on record to say that I am very much looking forward to BOTH Wildstar and The Elder Scrolls Online.

wildstar

ESO

I have no doubt I’ll be gracing this blog with my thoughts on both sometime in the future. And perhaps more! Thanks again, and I’m definitely looking forward to another year of blogging. Ciao!

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Battle Bards 19: Dead MMOs

January 7, 2014

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

We’re starting off a brand new year of the show with the theme of…dead MMOs. Hey, I thought it was weird too, celebrating beginnings with endings, but this is what the overlords willed.

In any case, even as Syp, Syl and I journey back through sunsetted games, I can’t complain about the quality of the music. These MMOs may be no more…but their songs shall live on in all our hearts!

LISTEN NOW

SWG

Episode 19 show notes
  • Introduction (including “Karakorum” from Auto Assault and “World Map 2” from The Sims Online)
  • “Freedom Theme” from City of Heroes
  • “Birth of a Player City” from Star Wars Galaxies
  • “Little Girl / Guild Hall” from Meridian 59
  • “LoadingH” from The Matrix Online
  • “Blue Turns to Grey” from Tabula Rasa
  • “Met With Honor” from Warhammer Online
  • “Griddle Forest” from Glitch
  • Which one was our favorite?
  • Outro (“Rattle Tooth Theme” from Dungeon Runners)
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The Secret World: Krampusnacht And End Of Days

January 2, 2014
Lighting Hel up for the holidays.

Lighting Hel up for the holidays.

Happy new year, from your friendly neighborhood MMOGC! Hope everyone’s holiday season was filled with much love and joy and gaming.

The last few weeks have been conspicuously devoid of posts about The Secret World Mondays, though I have indeed kept playing even through the craziness of the holidays. In fact, out of all the MMOs that had their Christmas events, I probably spent the most time doing TSW’s, even though I did dabble some in Guild Wars 2 and their Tixx’s Infinirarium dungeon.

Heh, now that’s some insane juxtaposition right there: creepy Krampusnacht of the former versus the whimical Wintersday of the latter. True to form, Funcom puts a horror twist on everything, even for Christmas.

krampus mask

And nothing says “horror” quite like an ugly holiday sweater from your great aunt Agnes.

As a bonus, the End of Days came back as well, which made me very happy because I was out of town when they had that event last year and I thought it was a one-time thing that I’d missed forever.

xibalba

Sigh…this would have been such a cool screenshot if I hadn’t ruined it by wearing my granny panties.

xibalba2

And this screenshot says so much about us as a guild.

Anyway, it all wrapped up today and my friend TenTentacles’ round-up post inspired me to do one of my own. And like TenTen, I thought it was great, but also that it’s high time Funcom comes up with something other than, in his words, the whole “Big Bad Monster Tromping Around the World thing”. It’s a lot of fun, but he’s right in that it’s also getting a little old. Or heck, maybe I’m just feeling bitter because I must have participated in more than two dozen fights of Super Hel and never got my horns. Seriously, everything else dropped for me BUT the damn crown.

behind me

“That two-faced mother…er, she’s standing right behind me, isn’t she?”

On the bright side, I still maintain that these types of events bring out the best of the TSW community. I wouldn’t even have gotten to battle the big two-faced Norse goddess if not for the efforts of the different cabals and the numerous other volunteers pooling up their resources to chain summon her for the rest of us who need the achievement or need her drops. Everyone is always so eager to help others in this game, and I hope that aspect never goes away!

hel train

People all over The Secret World, join hands! Start a Hel train, Hel train!