Thursday, April 15, 2021

Climb Up On A Rock

For a few days now I've been meaning to post about how it's going in Valheim but something or other kept coming up. Then Wilhelm put up his take on on life on the plains and it seemed like I might just as well link to it with a "What he said".

Seriously, the post I was going to write would have been all but identical. I guess there are only so many things left to do at this stage of the game.


What I have been doing is a lot of exploring, opening up long stretches of coastline to mark the outlines of islands, then criss-crossing them to fill in the blanks.  Wherever I find goblin camps, towers or villages I clean them out. Not because I need anything from them. I have self-sustaining fields of flax and barley and far more black iron than there's currently any use for. No, I clear goblin camps because it's fun.

I have a fairly well-established method. When I find a camp or a village I scout it to get an idea roughly how big it is, how many fulings live there, what classes they are and, if possible, how tough they are. Regular fulings pop like balloons with a single well-placed arrow but put the same arrow in a one or two star goblin and all it does is make them mad.

Once I've got a good idea what I'm up against I find a nice, high place to start picking them off. Ideally I like a steep rock on a flat plain. Goblins can't climb anything steeper than a gentle slope. Hell, they can't even go up and down their own wooden stairs. Odin knows how they get to the top of their towers because they sure as heck can't get down again. Maybe they're cats!

If there's a good rock and it's in range I pot them from there. If it's out of bowshot I move in, snipe one and run back. Sometimes none of the goblins even notice one of their pals exploding right next to them but usually two or three will come running, cackling and waving their spears. Then I pick them off as they mill around the rock like angry chickens.

As I've been roaming further and further I've taken to carrying a portal kit with me. The only times I've died have been when I ranged much too far and got stranded miles from home, at night, deep on the plains. 

I don't bother building a shelter for the portals any more. I put them right on top of the rocks. Nothing can get to them up there and I can see them for miles. In some ways, now I'm at home there, the plains feel safer than the black forest. Trolls, skeletons, greydwarves and even boars will smash anything you leave unprotected.  Lox and deathsquitos never attack structures and even fulings don't seem that interested. Anyway, there are far fewer of them roaming loose. They mostly stick to their camps. 

Sniping goblins is a lot of fun but more surprising to me is how much satisfying it is to meet them in combat face to face. I'm coming round to the opinion that Valheim has my favorite action combat of any game I've played and that's because it manages to be both skilful, tactical and incredibly simple all at the same time.

For me, it's all about movement and weapon selection. The fights, pulling with the bow, swapping to a sword, maybe pulling out the big hammer, feel hugely kinetic. 

Almost from the start I've ignored blocks and dodges. I tried a shield for a short while but it seemed slow and awkward compared to just hitting things really fast. For a long time I used an axe and that worked vey well. Then when I learned to work with silver I made a sword and that worked better still.

The black iron axe is statistically superior to the silver sword so I made that and swapped back for a while but although it does hit harder the sword is so much faster. Crucially, it strikes on both the forehand and the backhand. That's what makes it not just possible but productive to fight three or even four fulings at once.

Monster AI in Valheim is really excellent, I think. All creatures have particular ways of behaving and quite a lot of the behaviors are convincing. Fulings feint and dart and circle out of reach. They're always moving, looking for opportunity. What they can't cope with is being rushed and hacked at and perpetually knocked back but you have to be sure never to let them get you surrounded. It's like EverQuest on meth.

The sword, with its speed and the way it strikes both on the atack and the withdrawal keeps fulings stunned and struggling to respond. The knock-back isn't as great as with other weapons but it happens so often. So long as I make sure my health never drops much below 150 I can reasonably expect to slice up a gang of regular goblins with a one or even a two star thrown in before I get into in any great trouble.  

Shamans are a problem because they have a nasty long-range fireball attack and a very effective ward. If one of those comes out of the camp then I do back off and come back later when they've all calmed down. Then I single the shaman out and put an arrow in him and with luck he doesn't have his ward on so he explodes. 

All of that and a good bit more makes exterminating fulings good entertainment for a couple of hours. Even so, I'd probably have had enough of the plains by now if that was all there was to do. There are lox to hunt for meat, of course, and deathsquitos for their needles, which make the best arrows, but that wouldn't be enough to keep me either.

No, the reason I'm still out there clearing the fog from the map is that even after all this time I still run into things I've never seen before. While I was pushing along a coastline to the east I happened on a henge. It stood out from the golden fields like a sign, which turned out to be just what it was. It had the vegasir for Yagluth's altar. 

With that on my map I had to go take a look, even though I have no intention of summoning him until there's something in it for me. His dias was next to a fuling camp and a fuling tower, at the head of the first river I'd seen on the plains. (I've seen several more streams since then).

Last night, as I was heading south on the biggest of all the islands, I stumbled on what looked eerily like a brutalist blockhouse from some 1960s out of town industrial park. I'd never seen anything in Valheim like it before. As I approached I could hear cackling. Surely goblins couldn't have built this thing?

Whether they built it or not they were using it. It had stone stairs and a chest on the flat roof. Whether it was some religious structure of their own or something they'd re-purposed I couldn't say but it made me very curious. 

And then the mist came down. I hate the mist on the plains so very much. It's far too real. It swirls and billows and hangs there and you can see shapes and hear sounds through it but never well enough. If the mist blows in while I'm clearing a camp I know it's going to be a long, long day.

That's what I've been up to in Valheim this week. Looking forward, I've marked a couple of possible spots for my island getaway. I've cleared a whole medium-sized island of all fixed spawns and I'm thinking of moving there because it's a lot nicer than where I'm living now. I've done so much work on the castle, though, I couldn't bear to tear it down. I'd have to start again from scratch and I don't think I can face all that mining again.

My next project is going to be a trip to the Ashlands. I've ranged so far south now it can only be a short boat-trip away. I just need to set up a base in the far south and call on Moder for a favorable wind. And make some fire resistance potions, of course.

I guess I'm not done with this thing quite yet.


  1. We have one of those stone buildings not too far from our base. It had a few goblins around it and a chest, so I counted it as a fuling camp.

    1. I guess it has to be. They also have plenty of stone towers although I did kind of think they'd taken those over from something else. I'd really like to see a lot more of the lore and backstory filled in as the game develops, although I'm not sure that's going to happen.

  2. The luck of accidentally finding that runestone is wild.

    I've had problems when lox intersect grey dwarves. Its only when 2 biomes intersect, but the lox AE attacks are worse than trolls.

    1. I consider it payback for the trouble I had finding Moder!

      I often see lox off in the distance fighting something and knocking down trees but I wasn't sure what they were fighting with. That must be greydwarves. Trolls fight with fuling whenever they meet but the trolls always lose. I also cleared one fuling camp where lox came almost into the middle of it, which caused some issues for both me and the goblins.

      I enjoy watching all the creatures interact. It's very convincing. I just wish the winners would pick up the spoils afterwards. It breaks the illusion when the meat just gets left to rot on the ground.

    2. I have groups of skeletons showing up in all biomes every night right now and they attack everything. I saw a group of four attack a lox only for the beast to do one AOE attack and splinter the lot.


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