Monday, January 30, 2012

A Dragon In Ahgram: Vanguard

Today is the fifth anniversary of the launch of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, almost certainly the best least-played MMO in the world. For a long while it was my second-favorite MMO of all time. Now I'm not so sure. I think it might be my first.

No point rehashing Vanguard's story all over again. Anyone likely to be reading this already knows it. Did Vanguard start the trend of huge expectation verging on mania before launch followed by crashing disappointment and tidal waves of hatred after? I can't remember. It was a long time ago and now every MMO launch is something like that. All I know is that I loved Telon from the day I first set foot there and I love it still. If I could step through the screen and live there, I would.

Built with my own paws
And yet, how much time do I spend there nowadays? Not much. Not enough. A little diplomacy here, a boat trip there. I visit when I remember. Even my house is packed up and stored away. Telon is so quiet now. Lonely, almost.

So it was a joy to see the Festival Square in Ahgram filled with people for the fifth anniversary party yesterday. Well, it was a joy when I finally found it. I didn't know Ahgram even had a Festival Square. I spent nearly forty minutes running around the dusty sun-drenched streets and flying above the flat, white roofs looking for fireworks and listening for the sounds of people having fun.

What can I say? Even though I've arrived at Ahgram by river many times, I never noticed the dockside gate. I always came in from the Khal side, where the Riftway stands beside the shipbuilders and the bindstone. I thought that was the main entrance. In the end I saw a flaming pegasus spiral down and I followed. I found the party at last but it seemed they were having a bit of a problem...

Kotosoth reacts badly when asked if he brought a bottle

There was a dragon in Ahgram.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a real dragon in Telon. When the highest level a character could reach was fifty I had two of them, a Raki Disciple and an Orc Dread Knight. Now the top level is fifty-five I still have two level fifties. The ultra-grind, raid-focused endgame that SoE chose to go with doesn't appeal to me, although it was probably a sensible choice given the limited resources available and the hardcore residue that remained after the general population boiled out.

I'm under there somewhere

This dragon was Kotosoth, who I believe normally lurks in the Ancient Port Warehouse. My little Raki had a wonderful time kicking the big lizard in the ankle for ten minutes while a slideshow played. Reminded me of beating on a Keep door in Dark Age of Camelot in 2002, only a lot more fun. Finally the dragon fell over and the party started up again.

Your correspondent as a chicken
There were some marvelous party games. We all got turned into chickens. And camels. And skeletons. And ghouls. I went to the bank and got some sparklers and smoke bombs. I even found some snowballs to throw. Several people had invited Slappy the Cool so there was much dancing to actual music. Plenty of people came in fancy dress. I saw someone in the cat illusion from the Shidreth Mines and I wanted to use mine but I couldn't remember where I'd put it. Still, just thinking about the time I got it made me smile.

Evolution took a different path on Telon...
Half an hour after the dragon died the crowd had begun to thin a little. I saddled up Randolph the Controversial Reindeer and flew out, all the way back to EQ2. But a few hours later I was back in Telon, killing rats in Ksaravi Gulch with my level 18 Raki Sorceror. A kill 50 rats quest and I stayed up until one in the morning to finish it and relished every single rat.

So, happy fifth birthday Vanguard and here's wishing you many, many more. And I promise to visit a lot more often than just once a year.


  1. Aww damn and I was just having some VG nostalgia before I came here. I guess I can make the time to revisit again for its 5th birthday...

  2. I cant resist I'm scrounging up some money to resub now. I share you feeling with the post-50 content. I found that after getting my main character to 50 I lost all interest. Instead I began to focus on alts to see every bit of content there is.

    I got another character to 50 and there's still more to see. That's the main reason why Vanguard is the only themepark I can still manage to enjoy.

  3. Bless you Bhagpuss for this post. Good to see that not everyone hated Vanguard. I hate that I missed the fifth anniversary, but I think it might be time for a return to the fold for me. Vanguard is the last game that I remember being content to simply roam through, and I'd enjoy doing that again.

  4. If anything I've written has nudged a few more players Vanguard's way I couldn't be more pleased.

  5. Bhagpuss, what's your other top favorite MMO? Is it EQ2?

    This post made me begin downloading the client for a free trial to Vanguard. :)

  6. By the by, the color of comments is extremely hard to read as they're a light green/cyan on a background of blue/teal. I had to highlight commens with my mouse. Not sure if it's just me? :)

  7. @Malika Tell me about it! I spent an hour fiddling with it the other day and I haven't been able to fix it. I'll have another bash today but if anyone can tell me how to change it please speak up!

  8. Ok that's better! Had to go in and edit the HTML which is always a risk for me but it seems to have worked.

    And my favorite MMO, since you asked, is Everquest (the original one). It was my first MMO and I have probably played it the most. EQ2 is currently where I spend most of my time, though, and it's getting better like a maturing cheese. Maybe that's not quite what I mean...

  9. I'll definitely give Vanguard yet another chance this year. My main problem is the one you also mentioned: it's lonely in the game. I would love to do some of the low-level group content, but it seems I never had the chance when I was subscribed last time.

    It still is a great game, despite the loads of bugs.


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