Sunday, November 22, 2015

Forging Ahead : EQ2

It's been a while since I spent a Sunday morning prospecting for rares. It used to be kind of a thing Chez Bhagpuss once upon a time. Many peaceful and relaxing hours drifted by among the ore nodes beneath Cliffs of Rujark or the root crops of Kerra Isle, Mrs Bhagpuss and I passing each other in opposite directions as we scoured the sands for beryllium or toxnettle.

One down, one to go.
The move to Tyria largely put paid to that. While GW2 has gathering of a kind it's a pale and feeble version by comparison and not something you'd want to spend hour after hour on.

EQ2 has always been a gatherer's dream. The whole process is deliciously complex, with a full range of items, consumables and gear available to enhance your character's effectiveness. Harvesting even has its own epic questlines complete with signature NPCs.

The nodes spit out their highly desirable rares just often enough to make the whole process feel worthwhile rather than a waste of valuable leisure time. The chime of discovery when one pops is less the ringing of a pavlovian bell than the sound of a shot sweetly struck in the middle of the bat.

Satisfying is what it is, frankly. There's nothing in MMOs quite like it, not at least since Vanguard shut up shop. Consequently, when I completed my Research on Containing Magical Gemstones and discovered that I'd need not one but two Arcannium (Arcanniums? Arcannii?) I found my heart flutter more in anticipation than anxiety.

My ore! Mine!!
Checking the broker quickly took the lazy option off the table. At the time of writing Arcannium is selling at close to 500 platinum a piece, which, for comparison, puts it in the same bracket as a successful SLR auction for a max level piece of Fabled gear. Ignore the jargon - just take it for granted that means it's a lot of money.

I confess (and it is a guilty confession) that the relatively recent addition of instant access to the Broker from anywhere that comes a perk of All Access Membership has led me into bad habits. To save myself a few minutes travel time I have been buying mats that previously I would at least have taken out of my own bank, mats that even if I hadn't mined or lumbered or gathered at the direct behest of the questgiver would at least, at some time in the past, have been dug or chopped or picked by me, personally.

Shopping was not an option this time. I had no choice but to flap my wings and go prospecting in Thalumbra. Because it was a Sunday morning and I was in no kind of rush, for once I took my time, stood back and had a think about the best way to go about this potentially time-consuming project. That was how I came to discover my AAs were up the spout.

EQ2 lore. It's an acquired taste.

A little out-of-game research reminded me I should have access to an AA ability that tracks harvesting nodes. Couldn't find it. Also I supposedly own a goblin that goes foraging for me, and unlike my old, trusty pack pony, he can forage rares. Couldn't find him either. And I should have at least a 6% bonus to rare harvests. Only had 1%.

How did we ever manage without?
Something was clearly awry. It took me twenty minutes of fiddling about in my AA window, reading tooltips and swearing to myself before I found the problem. I'd set all my AAs and spent all the points but I hadn't pressed the Commit button. They were notional not actual.

A key-press, a long channeling animation and a smart blow to my own forehead later and everything was as it should have been all along. I also received a string of suffix and prefix titles, almost all of them relating to adventuring, and had to re-cast all of my combat buffs so I wonder if I've been fighting without AAs all this time? If so I can't tell the difference!

My AAs now correctly set and working, a couple of +harvesting items swapped in for adventure gear and having swigged one of the Bountiful Harvest potions provided long ago by my much-neglected Othmir apprentice, I was running a 37% chance at a second pull per strike and an 8% bonus chance on pulling a rare. Nothing more I could think of doing so off I went.

The current, excellent, signature crafting questline for Terrors of Thalumbra is the work of Domino, EQ2's recently-returned Crafting Queen over the Water. Unlike some lesser lights, Domino has always been scrupulous in ensuring that a pure crafter, maxed in her trade but with next to no adventure experience or levels, can still complete the crafting quests safely.

Always knew this would come in handy
With the ablity to fly and carrying a variety of crafted stealth, invisibility and speed totems, plus the invaluable option to turn into a rock for twelve hours, granted by an earlier crafting reward, I'm sure that's possible even in the caverns of Thalumbra. It very much helps that the great majority of nodes are carefully placed out of agro range of the level 100+ creatures that skulk or squat or hover all around.

Even so, I'd rather be doing it with a full set of level 98 plate and a level 100 Mercenary to back me up. There were some disputes between my Berserker and a few cave locusts that came to blows. Also there was that time with the named one. Stinger, he was called, not entirely originally I feel, but entirely appropriately as it turned out. Had a nice upgrade for me, he did. Would kill again!

We're going to need a bigger swatter.

The RNG in EQ2 is no better than any of them. Everyone always thinks the odds are set against them when it comes to playing the numbers in MMOs. There are even people who believe that different characters (or classes or races) have different luck. Even if that were true, which it isn't, there's nothing you can do about it. You just have to get on with it.

It doesn't help when the particular ore you need comes from the sort of node that has two different rares, of course. That really does halve your chances of getting the one you want. Factoring that in I was expecting a few hours work but the RNG gods must have had a good breakfast because in less than an hour I had the two rares I needed. I also had three Lucites and a Glittervein. Pretty good for around fifty minutes work.

Remember, I'm a professional crafter. Please don't try this at home.
All that remained was a short flutter back to Maldura, the new city-zone that deserves a post of its own, and a session with The Forge of Brell. Brytthel warned me to be careful. You don't mess around at the forge of the god of smelting. When the reactions there say "Lethal" they aren't kidding. I'm ashamed (again) to admit I let my attention wander for a second. It's lucky I always have Visions of Madness up, that's all I'm saying.

I guess it'll have to do.
I took more care over the equally risky ritual conducted by Elenluelle and her coterie of moths. When it said Lethal that time I reacted appropriately. And fast. Turned out I should have been faster but that's another story and a spoiler too so let's not go there.

Let's go back to Mara instead and the distinctly unempathic Captain Ethan Dariani. He pays well, I'll say that much for him and not much more. Speak to him and that's the crafting signature quest completed.

Took about five or six hours all told, a good deal of which was traveling and gathering and all of which was excellent entertainment. Next comes the Adventure version in which I am betting I get to do what the trade-obsessed Captain wouldn't. I hope so, anyway.

As I was leaving another player arrived to hand in the quest and an achievement popped (for him, not me - we don't get Achievements for seeing other players hand in quests - well, not yet...). Out of curiosity I clicked on it and saw it was for completing both the the Craft and Adventure lines and now I know that comes with a gift I know I could put to good use.

Onward and downward for glory and reward! And fun. Let's not forget the fun.


  1. I have only done maybe half of the adventure solo quests so far. Have not had time to do the tradeskill part yet. Have you done the Raffick tradeskill line yet? Think it started with a letter in the mail, a lvl 10 quest. The rewards give recipes for some decent buffs and raffick as a merc at the end. I think one of the recipes gives a buff to harvesting.

    1. Raffik is in the "Stinger" screenshot above! He's the tiny figure right at the front. I swapped him in for Dok'Tok the Tinkerfest Mercenary a while back because Dok is terrible at healing himself.

      Hmm I think you're right about the recipe. They all give quite powerful items but I never think to make any of them. I'll have a look at that when my Warlock/Sage takes his turn. Going to have to go carefully with him though - he's only adventure level 93.

    2. Some of the buffs looked pretty good but I forget about them too. One of them looked like a decent buff for your merc. I am going to need to get on the new tradeskill questline. Looks like fun plus you need the faction to craft any of the new items.


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