Monday, December 10, 2018

Special Snowflakes : EQ2

As Wilhelm reported, Standing Stone Games have some very pricy pre-Christmas deals going for Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings Online. Daybreak, SSG's publisher, is also running a limited-duration holiday offer for EverQuest II but it's a different beast altogether.

The SSG packages both rely on long-term commitment. The DDO package includes two years of premium membership; for LotRO you get one year. In both cases you also get access to a very large amount of content that would take months to play through.

The EQII offer is called 12 Days of Frostfell. It does indeed last for twelve days, running from Tuesday, December 4, when this year's in-game winter holiday season began, until just before midnight on Wednesday, December 16, and it's much more about instant gratification.

It's also a somewhat convoluted affair, requiring nested purchases in both the cash shop and from an in-game NPC. It took me a couple of read-throughs and a bit of digging around in game to figure it out. The short version goes like this: if you buy specific packs (all labeled "Holiday") in the DBG Store during the promotion they come with a new currency called Glug's Chocolate Coins. You can then spend that currency at a vendor who lurks in the shadows near the wardrobe that zones you into the Frostfell Wonderland Village.

It might seem like an odd way to go about things but I guess you could argue that it turns a marketplace transaction into something more lore-appropriate. In doing so, it also connects what you're doing more strongly to your character, since it's they, not you, who makes the final purchase.

I would argue that, as it happens. Yes, it would be simpler and more convenient just to buy the items directly from the store but simplicity and convenience aren't everything.

Those are the means. How about the ends? What can you buy, how much does it cost, and is it worth it?

The "what" is simple enough. As is usually the case in EQ2 these days, what you can buy with your chocolate money is Mercenaries, Familiars and a Prestige Home. Mercs and Fams (No-one calls them Fams. Let's not start.) are mostly sold in the cash shop via randomized packs but the in-game vendor sells them directly, so you can get exactly the ones you want, first time.

(As an aside, DBG have managed to finesse lockboxes through the store in such a way that I see very few complaints. In fact, in a game where complaints are commonplace and the playerbase is frequently grumpy, lockboxes rarely get a mention, although this particular promotion has raised a few hackles. I believe the lockboxes are broadly accepted because the items inside are both tradeable and convertible to Status, the currency all high-end players crave and can't get enough of. I'm guessing people are more than happy to sell or salvage their spares. Probably some even buy them for that very purpose).

Getting back to the current promotion, while it's quite expensive, it does seem to offer decent value. The various bundles in the cash shop give coins in various quantities. Things like the unattuners that cost a few hundred DBC come with a single chocolate coin and the number you get scales according to cost all the way up to ten coins with the 4999DBC Mindbender Merc seven-pack.

Santa Glug's Curious Clerk, the in-game vendor, charges three, five and seven chocolate coins for the different Mercenaries. The Familiars are all three coins each except for the Blush Gumdrop, which is top of the shop at ten coins. That's because the Blush is Ethereal quality while the rest are merely Legendary.

The Prestige House, which the promo calls "Santa Glug’s Snowglobe Home" but which is known in game as Santa Glug's Cheerful Holiday Home, also runs to ten chocolate coins. The blurb says "This amazingly cozy winter home really has to be seen to be believed! " and fortunately you can do that without buying it if you go to the Prestige Home portal in game and take the tour.

Naimi Denmother did just that and posted a video but it only shows one of the three globes.
Denmum must have been tired that day (she works harder than Dulfy on this stuff and for a lot less reward, I bet) because you can visit all three globes on the tour. I just did.

As well as the one on the counter-top there's another on the mantlepiece and a third on the table. You just have to click on the tiny globe at the edge to swap from one to another. Snow falls constantly inside the globe and flying is enabled, making for some spectacular views.

The breakout zone for the new home (and it's been cofirmed there is one) would seem to be either the Baubleshire Inn itself or, just possibly, the whole of Baubleshire. Only on a Land of the Giants scale, since your character has been shrunk to a suitable size to fit inside a snowglobe.

I find this an immensely appealing prospect. I'm not particularly interested in the Familiars and Mercs (although having Santa Glug as a healer has a certain appeal) but I'd love to break out of the snowglobe and go exploring in the old, no longer accessible, pre-invasion Baubleshire.

(Another aside: one of the less well-known reasons that EQ2's housing is best in genre is the ability to "break out" of the homes into the surrounding area. This used to be a somewhat clandestine activity but is now fully sanctioned, albeit on an "at your own risk" basis. By breaking out you can effectively gain access to an entire zone, which you can decorate (and in EQ2 "decorate is a synonym for "build") just as though you were in the core home instance. The snow globe home has apparently been designed with breakouts in mind and the breakout zone covers an area larger than Antonica!)

To get ten chocolate coins is no small undertaking. Well, okay, it is a small undertaking in that it doesn't ask much more of you than a few mouse-clicks. What I mean is, it's quite expensive. It varies a little according to what Holiday Packages you choose, but it always comes in, near as makes no odds, around 5000DBC.

Five thousand in Daybreak Cash would cost you $45 (or £37). It's a lot less than the $200-300 SSG are asking but I'm not about to spend that kind of money on an imaginary house I most likely will never spend more than a few sessions messing around with. It's also very expensive compared to any other Prestige House, none of which breaks 2,000DBC.

And yet...

All the Holiday Bundles are genuinely useful: the Mercs and Familiars, as I mentioned, can be converted to Status and also traded on the Broker. You might even get a really good one that you'd end up using. Other bundles include things that always come in useful, like extra character slots, server transfers and item unattuners.

Even so, I still wouldn't spend $45 on a whim. Only I don't have to... As a result of SOE's notoriously idiotic policy of running regular double and even treble cash sales (sometimes cited as the reason they never made any money) plus the regular 500 stipend I get for being a member, I have over 20kDBC on my current main account and 17k on the old one.

I might as well spend it on something and five thousand isn't even going to make that much of a dent. So I'm thinking about it.

And because I'm seriously considering the offer, it also clarifies for me the reason why game companies like to put a either a time limit or a limited number on what is self-evidently an infinitely renewable resource. It makes purchasers decide.

If there was no time limit I'd tick the mental box that says "one day" and forget about it for now. And probably forever. I'm extremely good at feeling as though I've bought something just because I thought about buying it. Put a time limit on it, though, and I have to make an actual decision.

It's a wonderful house.

I really would like it.

Let's not be hasty, though.

Still got six days.

Don't rush me, I'm thinking!


  1. I saw the annoucement and found it to be pretty convoluted too. Until now I didn't think any further about it to be honest.

    That being said, I'll definitely have a look at the house now as it looks pretty interesting. I'm usually averse to buying stuff that I don't really need or want just to get something else, but this case might need an exception indeed.

    1. It's the possibility of breaking out into Baubleshire that appeals to me. I was hoping someone would post a video before the time limit's up but so far, nothng.


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