Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Get Lucky: EQII

Yesterday evening, after I got back from work, I had my tea and watched a couple of ten year old episodes of University Challenge on YouTube with Mrs Bhagpuss (once a punk, always a punk, eh?). Then I logged into EverQuest II to check on my Overseer missions and something pretty amazing happened. Amazing enough to make me yelp "Yes! Yes! Yes!" out loud.

Back up a bit.

Managing Overseer missions requires some thought. Ever more so as the options open up. The maximum number of missions per account, per day, is ten but you can collect far more missions than that. The longer the mission, the better the potential reward (and the higher the risk of failure), so as you acquire more missions and your pool of potential adventures widens, the ones you really want to do are the longest ones you have available.

Only you don't get to choose freely from all the missions you've unlocked. The server selects seven (randomly, I'm assuming) for the day, meaning you have to do three of them twice to get all ten done. When a mission you've undertaken completes, it goes on cooldown for the same length of time it took to do. Or maybe twice that long. There seems to be some variation I haven't quite figured out. Either way, it's a significant tranche of time.

Similarly, each Agent needs a sit down and a cup of tea before they're ready to go again. Because I've been doing Overseer missions with half a dozen different characters I have Agents all over the place. And because the Bonuses and Mishaps rely on which unlocked mercenaries and familiars each of those characters have available... well you can see how that goes.

The very best potential rewards come from the ten hour missions. I now have two of them. On a day when I have to go to work, if I want to be sure of completing all ten missions, including any ten hour ones the game has been kind enough to give me, I have to log in and set seven running before I leave. And I have to remember to log in pretty soon after I get home to let the cooldowns cool down so I can get the last three done.

This is a significant commitment. Considerably more so than doing my dailies in Guild Wars 2, something I also still do every day, or getting my login rewards from Riders of Icarus, which I've abandoned, mostly because the botched transition to the new owner meant I couldn't log in for three months. I mean, can now but I don't want to. The moment has passed.

Getting back to EQII, the Overseer feature looked at first to be a fairly straightforward piece of fluff but it's turning into a significant time commitment, requiring planning and forethought, neither of which are my strong suits. It's probably not something I'd stick with for long once the novelty wore off if it didn't offer something meaningful in return. Building my collection of Agents and missions is fun but the kind of fun that only amuses me for so long.

The main reason I still do my Dailies every day in GW2 is that completing them gets me two gold every time. On three accounts that's more than forty gold a week and forty gold is serious money in that game's economy. Also, they're generally quick and involve playing the game fairly normally.

I thought I'd lucked out when I got this.
EQII has a daily like that, too. I do that every day but it pretty much completes itself if I just play normally. Overseer Missions are a thing apart and it would be easy to ignore them if the rewards weren't highly desirable.

They aren't, for the most part. As I was saying the other day, there have been plenty of complaints
about the useless and inferior items included in the loot table, complaints with which I have a good deal of sympathy. Or I did. Until last night.

Another aspect of Blood of Luclin that's received considerable criticism from some quarters is the change to the way crafting works. I've already covered that. I won't go back over it in detail. The key thing to remember is that to make Expert spells and Combat Arts, Sages and Alchemists now need both the new Shadow materials and the Shadow recipe books.

The implementation of the new mechanic for gathering Shadow rares has been tweaked so that it's no longer a problem. If anything, it's easier than acquiring rare mats under the old system, certainly if the wide availability and rapidly falling prices of Shadow mats on the Broker is anything to go by. Getting hold of the books so you can actually use them, though? That's a very different matter.

In the olden days crafting books dropped from just about any mob. In recent years they were moved to the loot tables of Named mobs in instances and raids. In BoL, according to Niami Denmother's invaluable write-up on EQ2 Traders, the recipe books for Expert Spells and CAs (and for Mastercrafted gear and items from all the other tradeskills) come only from the ten hour Overseer missions. And the chance of getting one is very, very small.

I imagine you can guess what's coming next. I got one! What's more, I didn't just get any one, I got one I could use. And it was a good one. A really good one.

The motherlode.
The book I received from one of my ten hour missions was Shadow Alchemist Studies 15. After I'd calmed down, the first thing I did was check the Broker to see what nominal value it had. I wasn't going to sell it, obviously. I just wanted to rub my hands and cackle like Uncle Scrooge.

When I searched the market, the cheapest any of the Shadow Alchemist books was selling for was a couple of million plat. The highest level book on sale was the one I had and only one person was selling. They were asking ten million plat.

Whether that's a sum anyone's prepared to pay I can't be sure but it's not unlikely. EQII has hyperinflation and some people have a lot of money to burn. I don't. I have just over 800k, which is plenty for general purposes but way short of being able to buy spell books.

I passed the recipe book to my Alchemist and he scribed it. As I said, it's a good one. It contains several key AEs for Berserkers and Bruisers, both of which are classes I play regularly, as well as some key buffs and heals for those classes. There are important CAs for other melee classes in there, too.

The next thing was to check the mats the combines require. I had all of them in quantity. So I made all the Experts in the list for the classes I play. They were all big upgrades. What's more, having them scribed means I can now use the offline research system to upgrade those abilities to Master without having to go through the intermediate steps, each of which takes weeks.

Having sorted my own needs I began to think about the commercial possibilities. I checked the going rate for the Experts my Alchemist could now make. They ranged from 400k to 750k depending on how desirable the ability might be. I had plenty of mats left so I made one and put it on for about two-thirds of the the lowest-priced.

Then I checked the price of the materials needed to make it. Buying all of them came to not much more than a tenth of the selling price of the finished item. This is obviously a potential goldmine, always assuming people are actually buying Experts at these prices.

Given the relative ease with which the materials can be found, the only throttle on Experts coming into the game would seem to be the limited availability of the recipe books. To some degree this is the reverse of what we've been used to, where books came onto the market fairly fluidly but rare mats were comparatively, well, rare.

I suspect this may all be subject to further iteration and amendment as time goes by but for now getting lucky with a ten hour overseer mission might just be a license to print money. Is that a good thing?

That's where we enter the debate on scarcity as a game mechanic, which is a whole different post and one I may get around to at some point. Certainly, knowing you might score big is a huge motivator for some people - if it wasn't, we wouldn't be having the lockbox controversy. For others it's a major turn-off.

But then, that's true of just about any game system you care to name. One person's demon is another person's darling, as we all know. The complicating factor in this particular case is the inarguable utility and perceived necessity of the items involved. A lot of people either need - or believe they need - Expert-level abilities just to play the game at all. Locking them behind this kind of luck wall is problematic for both for the winners and the losers in the Overseer lottery.

I'll worry about that later. For now, though, I got a Shadow Book!!! I'm not going to overthink it. I'm just going to enjoy it. And you can bet I'm going to be doing all the ten-hour Overseer Missions I can get my paws on.

Maybe lightning will strike twice. Although that would probably count as a Mishap...


  1. At this point I have 15 agents but only 6 missions on my list, so agent recycle time hasn't been much of an issue unless I want a specific agent.

    However, my longest duration mission right now is only 2 hours, so no shadow books for me any time soon.

    1. Although I quoted "seven" from the wiki, I think I actually only get six, too. Still figuring some of the fine details out.

  2. And here I am with 500 platinum on my main. That hyperinflation is something else.

    1. If you're subbed and you're getting the Veteran credits from the daily, don't forget you can buy a bag of 500 platinum coins for 5 vet tokens. That's supposedly how the economy got inflated in the first place.

  3. Congrats!

    Hell, if I were in your situation I'd make sure to always have at least one of each of those CAs on the broker from now on, until the prices have dropped off considerably.

    Also, why only ask for two thirds of the next lowest seller?
    One thing I really like about EQII's auction house (from a seller's perspective) is that you don't have to pay anything that doesn't actually sell, that you can change your asking price without a fee at any time, and that there are no time limits whatsoever.
    I always used those facts to undercut the lowest seller by just a bit, and adjust regularly if needed. No MMO makes it easier to maximize profits without the need to use trade chat and doing the trades manually.

    1. Because I'm not any kind of min-maxer, not even in making money. I don't really care how much I make so long as I make something. Also, until you test the market it's impossible to judge how "real" the prices are. I often put something on at half the lowest going rate or less to see how fast it sells. If it's gone the next day then I have a data point that tells me my price was almost certainly too cheap. With a bracket I can then calibrate. That CA didn't sell overnight at a third off and this morning when I checked two of the people who had theirs at the original floor price had dropped to below mine. So I undercut them again. We'll keep doing that until I find out where the real ceiling is.

      I'm very wary of getting caught up in the economy, though. I did that for a while in EQ a long time back and it ended up taking over my gameplay - I spent a lot more time going round vendors looking for stuff to buy and resell than I did fighting monsters and eventually I didn't want to play EQ any more.

    2. True, "Economy-PvP" isn't a substitute for proper gameplay for me either. I still like getting as much as I can for stuff that I found though. :-)

  4. Congratulations! That is a great pick-up. I would probably level an alchemist if I got that one.

    I am still trying to figure out the overseer system. I usually only can log in once, maybe twice a day so I have never maxed out the 10 quest limit. I am not even sure the best way to gain new quests for the agents.

    1. As far as I can tell, the only way to get additional quests is as loot from the chests you get for completing the missions themselves. And you can get the same ones repeatedly so the more you get the less likely it is that you'll get one you don't already have. It still lets you scribe the duplicates, though, which is weird.

    2. Thanks. I guess it's just been luck of the draw then. I have received a new quest through one of the weekly solo quests. Was not sure if that was the only way to gain new ones.


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