Open Those Little Brown Boxes

26 07 2010
Open those little brown boxes, and you just might find this... Instruction Disk for Grid Armor Mk I

Open those little brown boxes, and you just might find this... Instruction Disk for Grid Armor Mk I

Babaengy and Babaemphee (aka Team Pets) have been on a roll and hit the jackpot recently.  It was a QL 60ish team mission where they found a Instruction Disk for Grid Armor I in one of those non-descript small square boxes. lists the current average asking price to be 15.5 million credits for this item.

This is the third time is similar circumstances, our toons have found a Grid Armor ID.  The small square boxes are sometimes hard to spot, and often are just plain empty.  On the plus side, unlike barrels and chests, they are never locked, so opening them is a simple single click.  When we first started doing missions with Babaoroody, we often skipped those small brown boxes thinking that nothing of worth could be found in them.  We certainly had never read on any forum or web site about valuable loot showing up in those.  After Baba opened the one where he found his first Grid Armor, we require all of our toons to always open small brown boxes.

TEAM PETS, Babaengy and Babaemphee, with matching helmets!

TEAM PETS, Babaengy and Babaemphee, with matching helmets!

Team Pets (Babaengy and Babaemphee, both level 57), also made significant progress over the past weekend, bringing them to within a couple of more missions to getting their 120 token boards and the juicy 350 health, 300 nano, +3% experience, and +10 defense.  Those mission should also put them at or very near their target level of 59 for optimum Temple of The Three Winds phatz.  The more we play this pair, the more it feels like this could be the combination that goes all the way to 200.

Evolving Boss Room Tactics

Due to the many factors in play, there is no ‘typical Boss room’ encounter.  Bosses can special auras that give them extra strong defenses, ranging from reflects, to strong evades, and just plain loads of health.  There can be one or several minions, additional mobs that will aggro you on sight.  The larger the room, the more flexibility the team has in choosing it’s battles.  In a large enough room, some mobs or the Boss can be avoided by distance while the team takes out another hostile.  Placement of the Boss and the minions in relation to the elevator is crucial.  Rezzing on top of the Boss and it’s minion(s) bring with it several disadvantages beyond just getting instant aggro from all.  The worst disadvantage to these scenarios is that it is very difficult if not impossible to quickly identify each mob and then target them appropriately.

Video Glitch, the joys of dual logging.  Requires a hard zone or re-log to fix.

Video Glitch, the joys of dual logging. Requires a hard zone or re-log to fix.

It the room is big enough, one can often run away enough to be able to separate and ID the mobs.  A small room may prevent this and this can lead to a very confusing battle that is likely to end badly.  The MP may not be able to id and target the weakest mob for mezzing.  With Pets on guard mode, their is no telling quickly which pets are fighting which mobs.  The MP also has to quickly size up the situation and decide who to put the heal pet on as soon as possible.

The Baba chart of Boss Room Encounters looks like a reverse geometric grow chart (i.e. it goes down very quickly to a long tail).  The most damage can be potentially done to team members in the first few moments of the encounter.  If targets are not coordinated and attacked in those first few moments, the mobs gain a lead in damage, that it may be impossible to overtake.

We are currently favoring the MP being the lead into the room, mainly because she can enter with the heal pet on her, so that she can afford to take some damage, while the Engy teleports in and takes the few precious moments to target and start attacking.

Once both team members are in the room and engaged, we have also been favoring controlling the MP, due to the fact that she recently acquired her first rally  decent nuke which can really help whittle down the Boss’s health.  It is a nano drain, so we are happy we have been keeping her nano pool maxed.

Aliens City Raid Passed Trekking to Missions

Aliens City Raid Passed Trekking to Missions

She also recently graduated to a fairly decent mob debuff, so we have added it to her standard operating procedure attack (select team leader, hit assist macro, hit attack button, hit macro for debuff.

For most of the non-Boss room antics, we still drive the Engineer who pulls targets and sets his bot on them.  Once the Bot had had a chance to get a few good blows in, we have the MP start her attack sequence.  If she attacks too soon, she draws aggro and the Engy ends up having to health stim her, or we have to switch the heal pet off the Engy and on to her.  It would be ideal if we had a good multi-boxing macro that would reliably toggle the heal pet between the two of them, but so far, we have not written one that is reliable enough.

Having the MP select herself is foolproof with the %m chat command.  The f2 key to select the team leader does not always work as expected because if the leader was already selected, it toggles to select the MP.  It’s a shame you can give chat commands directed by name, like you can with Pet commands.


Off to the Skys of Ruby-Ka

18 07 2010
Running, running, always running between missions.

Running, running, always running between missions.

Babaengy and Babaemphee have been working away at a steady pace on their team missions bringing them to level 48.  One of their prime objectives has been to roll loot only nanos for their professions.  Babaemphee has had the best luck recently as she added a Greater Deranged Mindreaver, and 4 of her masteries nanos.  Some of each toons skills are starting to be capped, which frees up IP somewhat for secondary skills.  In Babaemphee’s case, this has allowed her to up her MM, PM and SI.  This helped her be able to cast the new masteries nanos, which in turn allowed both herself and Babaengy to cast higher pets and nanos.

Babaemphee shows off her new Vital Buckler, click for larger view.

Babaemphee shows off her new Vital Buckler, click for larger view.

The diminutive MP also acquired as mission loot an MP only weapon, (The Crotalus) and a MP only shield (The Vital Buckler).  The Crotalus has a rather ominous reading description that new MP’s should pay heed to.  Babaemphee’s tip, do not attempt casting the Crotalus unless your toon is 1) at max health, and 2) in a safe environment, (i.e. not likely to be attacked), and 3) ready with a heal pet with orders to heal you.  When one casts this nano, you lose 98% of your health.  The Buckler provides 72 all ACs and +150 health.

Team pets is slowly evolving their Boss Room strategies to include more use of the Mezz pet for crowd control.  Babaemphee first orders the heal pet on her before jumping in first.  Once in the room, she first tries to run to a spot that is away from the elevator, and hopefully can isolate one or more of the mobs.  This also helps to hopefully put some space between the mobs, so it is easier to identify and target them individually.  If there are three or more mobs, she orders the mezz pet on to the weakest mob, and the attack pet onto the strongest.  She keeps the heal pet on herself for the time being and she also attacks the strongest mob.

Bosses are getting bigger and tougher, click for larger view.

Bosses are getting bigger and tougher, click for larger view.

Then it is time for the Engineer to enter.  He jumps in and sets his attack bot on the same mob Babaemphee’s attack pet is on.  He makes note of the MP’s health and stims her if needed.  The MP monitors the health of all and switches the heal pet to any team member that needs it, including her attack pet.  She also is ready to health stim her self or the Engineer when needed.

This method works fairly well, but the first few seconds are the most crucial.  The longer it takes to sort out the individual targets and categorize them, the more damage the team takes before starting to fight back. Sometimes if the room is very small and there are multiple mobs, and they will all be on top of the elevator.  This makes it very hard to select and differentiate them.

Babaemphee only recently started setting her mezz pet on the weakest mob, but has found this to work really well when the pet is strong enough to effectively control the mob.

You know all we need is  a couple of  QL 90ish Nav Air eye implants and a pair of low quality Yalms, and we could say bye bye to this running business.

You know all we need is a couple of QL 90ish Nav Air eye implants and a pair of low quality Yalms, and we could say bye bye to this running business.

Babaoroody wanted to help this new team out, so he posted a question for them on the AOFroobs board.  So far they had not been able to find documentation of the duration of MP and Engy pets.  They did find some very old posts that indicated that the pets had really short durations under a half hour.   Babaemphee knew this was not the case, as both she and Babaengy had kept pets over an hour.  The AOFroobs replies indicated that MP and Engy pets have a max duration of 2 hours.  Since both Babaemphee and Babaengy rarely are logged on for more than 2 hours, they have not run into this limitation.

Running to missions on foot is starting to get really old for the pet team.  It adds a great deal of extra time, limits where they can accept missions, and often results in canceled missions when the way is blocked by multiple red mobs.

That has to be the longest hall Babaengy has seen in missions.

That has to be the longest hall Babaengy has seen in missions.

Between missions, the toons have been making it a habit to check the shop terminals for low quality Yalmahas.  Babaengy hit pay dirt first with a QL35 Yalm he found in the trader shop in Newland City.  He had to call in both Tireen and Babaente for help with credits which enabled him to walk out with a shiny new Yalm.  He still needed a small set of air navigation buffing implants in order to be able to equip it.

Babemphee lucked out Saturday evening, when Tireen was hitting the shopping rounds in Old Athens looking for a set of better looking Energized armor sleeves for Babaengy.  Tireen knew something was up when there were several other toons parked beside the vending machine.  As soon as she opened the shop window and saw the QL 30 Yalm, she called Babaemphee, who quickly made the few whompa hops from Newland to OA.  After both Tireen and Babaente lent credits to Babaemphee, she  bought the Yalm, and now is in the market for a set of air navigation buffing implants.

With their Yalmahas successfully equipped, our pair take a break before rolling up some missions.

With their Yalmahas successfully equipped, our pair take a break before rolling up some missions.

This will allow them to no longer have to turn down some missions because those mission entrances are guarded by high level mobs.  The Yalms solve this problem in two ways.  One is that the superior speed of the Yalm can be used to train the mobs a safe distance away from the entrance.  The other way is that it allows them to fly quickly right into the mission entrance, usually to fast for any mobs around to react to.

Babaoroody logged on for a few minutes on Sunday to assemble the two Eye implants.  It turns out a single QL 80-90ish eye implant with a shining Navigate Air cluster and a Time and Space Cluster, was all that was needed (40+ Nav Air) to allow Babaengy and Babemphee to equip their new Yalms.

They also shared one other achievement over the last few days.  They both earned their Blossoms of Summer token boards, which gives a tasty 200 health and 150 nano, and a +1% experience increase.

Miysa Likesa Dis Armor

14 07 2010
Looking for mission entrance, North East Wartorn Valley, click for larger view.

Looking for mission entrance, North East Wartorn Valley, click for larger view

It was about their 40th team mission since Babaengy and Babaemphee began using mission slider settings said to favor collecting Miy’s armor when it finally paid off.  Although the settings (CHAOS FULL RIGHT) consistently provided missions with non-human, non casting mobs, and a several other breeds known to drop Miy’s (Aquans, Mantises, Cyborgs) this was the first mission to see any Miy’s drops.

This quality 47 mission yielded a total of 5 Miy’s pieces ranging from QL 35 to 54.  Babaengy was able to immediately equip a pair of QL35 ranged armor boots for some nice buffs to max health, strength, and duck explosives.

Babaemphee recently cast her first MP only weapon,  The Crotalus.

Babaemphee recently cast her first MP only weapon, The Crotalus. Click for larger view.

The problems is both an engineer and an MP do not generally raise strength, stamina or sense that much, which tend to be part of Miy’s requirements.  This means the only Miy’s they can equip is going to be levels below what they could equip of regular junk shop food armor like Cyber Armor and Sekuteck Armor.  It does show that, even using the optimum mission settings, Miy’s drops are somewhat rare (once out of 40 outings).  Babaoroody an Enforcer tells us that the most plentiful place for Miy’s is either PW Borgs, or Mort Borgs.  For example, clearing the main dunes area north east of the Main Borg base in PW is always sure to net 2-3 pieces (approx 40 Borg).

Alien city raid nearby a recent mission entrance.

Alien city raid nearby a recent mission entrance. Click for larger view.

It was on team missions over this past weekend that Babaengy and Babaemphee met their first individual and their first team wipes in mission Boss rooms.  Once they hit level 42, the difficulty settings they were using on the mission terminal was giving them QL 47 t QL 50 level Bosses.  Both team members are stuck at a plateau where it will take 3-4 more missions to level up enough to equip a stronger pet.

The result is that rather than having pets that are much stronger than the team Bosses, the match up is more equal, which means factors like small Boss rooms and strong Boss minions count for more.  There was a repeat of the situation where Babaengy takes the elevator in first, and gets pounced on by both the Boss and it’s minion.  By the time Babaemphee and her heal pet have zoned in, it is too late to heal up the health deficit Babaengy has suffered by then.

In the wipe scenario in that followed in the next mission, there was some difficulty in identifying if team members were fighting the same targets at the same time.  When all team damage dealers are not focused on a single target, they lose, as comparatively, they cannot stand toe to toe individually with these mobs that are higher in levels than they are.  It was actually a bit of a shock, for the last 20 or so missions have been relatively easy, with no team member ever dipping below 75% health.  It is clear now it is time to use different tactics when

Matchin armor sets in progress, MP is done, Engy needs Energized sleeves.

Matching armor sets in progress, MP is done, Engy needs Energized sleeves. Click for larger view.

Babaemphee is going to have to step up to the plate and be the first one in from now on.
Her first task will be to debuff if possible the Boss and it’s minion(s) and initiate her pets attack on the weakest mob, while starting the heal pet on herself.  Babaengy will then follow, sending the bot to attack, and then attacking himself on Babaemphee’s target.
It then becomes a game of alt-tab and first aid stiming where necessary.

When commanding such a team in combat, so many things are going on at once that it is not a time to be trying to devise strategy.  They need to have several plan B’s in place so they can quickly react to new and different threats.  There were also several times when the pets did not seem to respond.  In particular, they seem to have some problems with line of sight and sometimes getting stuck behind pillars.  Babaengy’s bot sometimes seems to be not paying attention and unresponsive.  Babaemphee found that the follow command seemed to be useful to get a pet to come out from behind a column.

Tag Teaming The Boss

Curiously both Babaengy and Babaemphee since reaching level 43 have started to see their Time and Space and MaterCreation skills capped.  This restricts them to a single point increase with each level and has put a crimp in their usual ‘equip a much better pet’ every few levels progress.

The big switch in strategy has been for Babaemphee to enter the Boss room elevator first, and to debuff the Boss and any minions first thing.  Babaengy follows and sets his pet to work on the Boss or minion depending on the situation.  If Babaemphee’s attack pets are holding agro, she puts her heal pet on her attack pet, while Babaengy and his bot take out any minions.  While mopping up minions, Babaengy takes care to health stim Babaemphee if needed.  Babaemphee has to be ready to switch her heal pet to whoever the main aggro switches to.  At this period, the pets seem to be able to hold aggro fairly well.

Stuck in a Spider Hole

Our pet team found itself trapped in a recent mission.  They normally would have never accepted the mission due to its location, but as the reward was an MP mission/loot only masteries nano, they choose to take the risk.  The mission was located in a cave at the same location as a level 65 Dyna-boss and a group of minions.   Getting in was fairly easy, run quickly past the mobs and Dyna into the cave and perhaps suffer a hit or two.  Getting out would be harder as there would be no convenient escape hatch nearby. The has completed the mission and has logged off sitting in the mission entrance.  They knew that when they logged back on, they would either still be there and have to run out, or worse they could materialize under the noses of the spiders, and be easy pickins while their clients spooled up. They enlisted trader Tireen (level 76) to fly over in her Yalm and train away the Dyna and a few other spiders.  She trained them over the hill to the Rhinoman village where it ought to take them a while to find their way back.

When our pair logged in separately, Babaengy first, who found himself still in the mission entrance.  He buffed up his defensive buffs and ran out.  He ran due east to the nearest player city.  Several spiders chased him, and at one point a human Omni hunter snared him, so that the spiders had a chance to beat up on him for a few moments.  Fortunately his AC buffs keep his damage low, and once the snare wore off, he was able to outrun the spiders, and make it to the player city whompa that took him to Newland City.  Babaemphee materialized next, but outside the mission.  She easily outran several spiders and got to the player city whompa without any further drama.

Token Efforts For Froobs

4 07 2010
Team Sparrow Flight - click for larger view.

Team Sparrow Flight - click for larger view.

Babaengy and Babaemphee reached level 36 recently from a series of team missions around Newland Dessert, and Varmint Woods.  Normally they would only accept Varmint Woods missions if they were close to the Whompa there due to the many ‘higher than them’ mobs scattered across the country side there.  Babaemphee was very close to being able to use a Hacked Boosted Graft  Sparrow Flight (Team), so they decided to accept several team missions located far out in the woods because the rewards were non-shop buyable professions specific items they both needed.  One was a Sympathetic Armor Boost, a nice Engineer nano that boosts by 101 all ACs of friendly toons close by. For Babaemphee, there was a Material Metamorphosis Masteries nano.  While Sparrow Flight is not flying like it is with a Yalmaha, it is faster than running and hence, somewhat safer way to pass through areas with dangerous mobs around.  After Babaemphee dinged level 35 she was able to cast it, so they flew sparrow style to their next Varmint Woods engagement, which happened to require passing through areas with reddish bar Rhinomen about.

First Gladiatorbot, click for better view.

First Gladiatorbot, click for better view.

Getting more confident, Babaengy upped the difficulty level slightly again, this time facing mobs 2 to 3 levels above them.  The experience comes faster at a cost of slightly more time for the pets to take down the prey.  With the lowest Attack Rating of the pair, Babaengy is starting to miss most of the time due to the higher level mobs they are facing.  It is easy to see why experience Engineers talk about sending their pet on hunt and then hiding.  The higher the mobs get in relation to the pet caster, the less effective his personal weapons are and the more likely he is to get critted multiple times by the mobs if he fights them directly.  For now it is not a problem, and he can continue to contribute, but he can see the time coming when “pet hunt” and “pet attack” will be combined with staying out of sight of the mobs.  Babaemphee’s AR is much higher so for now she contributes significantly to the taking down of the mobs.

Babaengy finally figured out how to use an bot trimmer over the last few missions. It turns out that they work somewhat like the flurry of blows item does for melee classes.  It temporarily increases the combat inits of the engineers bot while decreasing it’s ACs.   When the bot has started combat with a mob, the Engineer has to select the bot and then right click on the trimmer in an open bag.  A message then appears in the system chat HUD “The arms of your robot jerk briefly.”

With a QL 17 Trimmer, for the next 5 minutes the bot’s overall offense is increased by 6, and all damage types are increased by 6.  At the same time there is a reduction of -61 to all ACs of the bot.  This also locks the Engineer’s Mechanical Engineering skill for 5 minutes.

Rather than use it all the time and be captive to the vagaries of random chance and the possibility of being locked out when you really could use it, Babaengy has been learning to conserve her use of the Trimmer to Boss fights and other extreme situations.

Token Boards

First Token Boards All Around, click for larger view.

First Token Boards All Around, click for larger view.

Our pet casting pair managed to acquire their first two token boards as an added benefit of the team missions they have been pulling ever since graduating from the Subway.  They have been collecting 2 tokens each mission, and recently collected their 30th tokens each.  The first token board gave them both a extra 30 health.  Token board number two (which required 30 tokens) gave 60 health and 40 nano.  Froobs should get their token boards as soon as they can, to get the most benefit from the buffs.  For non-froobs the buffs may not be as attractive, in light of the many other advantages non-froobs have.  There are not that many items that will buff 60 health and 40 nano available to froobs.  Board number 3 requires 60 tokens and is attainable at level 15, gives 200 Health, 150 Nano, and +1% Experience.  Froob Subway twinks (level 25 max) could certainly benefit from the 3rd Token Board.

Acquiring tokens at low levels is more time consuming than at higher levels, as at higher levels, the number of tokens rewarded increases per mission.   Another reason that farming tokens takes time is that the to get the token reward two things are required: 1) the mission objective is completed, 2) All of the mobs in the mission are killed.  Because of this, identify and/or kill person type missions are less than desirable due to situations where the placement of the mission objective person is such that killing or identifying them is unavoidable before all of the other mobs have been killed, resulting in no token reward.

Name Your Pets or Die

It pays for pet classes to give their pets unique names.  Not only does it make for a more personalized experience, but it provide better control of the pets in hectic combat situations.  MP’s with 3 pets can not give a generic /pet attack command and expect that the command will be heeded by the appropriate pet.  Taking the time to manually select each pet before giving a command, can be hard in combat.  A few hot bar macros can simplify things greatly.

  • Pet Naming Macros.
    Select the intended pet and the hit a Pet Rename hot bar button with this macro:
    /pet rename PETNAME
    with PETNAME replaced with the name you want for the pet. Create a separate naming macro for each pet.
  • Pet Specific Guard Macros.
    Pets, after zoning, do not always seem remember the last commands given to them.   In team missions, after every level elevator, Babaemphee and Babaengy have created a set of pet specific guard order macros.
    /pet PETNAME guard

Heavy Petting Baba

21 06 2010
Babaengy and Babaempee, Froobs with pets, set out for the Subway

Babaengy and Babaemphee, Froobs with pets, set out for the Subway

Baba sponsored another pair of immigrants to Ruby-Ka a few months ago,  an Engineer and an MP.  They started out on immigrant island, i.e. Shuttleport Island, much like other immigrants.  Teaming them on newbie island was not very remarkable, mainly due to the wimpy starter pets.

They left newbie island as soon as they hit level 12, and had completed all the various island quests upgrading their weapons, getting belts and backpacks etc.  They then were left in suspended animation for a while as Baba did his best to grind his mostly solo way to 150.  Earning level 149 was a major grindfest, requiring hours and hours of solo Borg kiting in Perpetual Wastelands.  Baba also got stuck in terms of getting any progression out of the new daily missions.  He managed to complete the Smugglers Den inspect crates mission, but was getting no where on the kill 3 of each type of Smuggler other than a collection of failed attempts.

Baba’s HUD was convinced there was a level 150+ Ravager right next to him.  Baba’s eye’s and this screenshot say otherwise.  Smuggler’s Den, another bugged dungeon spot?

Baba’s HUD was convinced there was a level 150+ Ravager right next to him. Baba’s eye’s and this screenshot say otherwise. Smuggler’s Den, another bugged dungeon spot?

This was leaving him with a very strong desire to go back to suspended animation and hopefully dream away his predicament.  Trying to get level 150 and title 5 mostly solo as a Froob Enforcer was proving to very difficult and slow going.

A while back he had sponsored a trader and an NT (Tireen and Babaente) who teamed their way to level 72.  About the only time they were really fighting as a team was during their 250k token run.  The rest of the time, it was Babaente solo kiting while Tireen hovered above safe in her Yalmaha.  They were last at the Claw Camp in Pleasant Meadows, but the going was slow and eventually both elected to go back to suspended animation for a while. Further leveling for this pair is mostly dependent on getting outside speed buffs, and heal over time (HOTs).  Baba’s least favorite activity is buff begging.

On Babaengy and Babaemphee’s first outing to the Subway in Athens, things just suddenly clicked.  Counting their pets, they make the equivalent of a 5 member team.  Babaengy and his attack bot take up the pulling and tanking role.  Babaemphee and her attack pet provide extra damage, while her heal pet acts as team doctor.   Of course a heal pet can do no where near all the things a real doctor can, but it can do one key thing and that is to heal the tank during battle.  The only down side to this duo might be for first timers without a higher level main to supply credits.

Both the Engineer and the MP depend a great deal on nanos and have to upgraded them every few levels.  They also benefit greatly from always having good implants which also require credits.  Both professions are also heavily dependent on equipping the highest capacity utility belts for NCU.  While belts and memory are only moderately expensive, they are time consuming to collect due to a limited number of quality levels available from vendors at any time.  It has helped this pair many times already to be able to draw from an inventory of belts and memory built up over the years by Babaoroody and his alts.

A starting out new duo will need to mix leveling and dungeon romps with credit making team missions.  Tireen, Baba’s trader alt has contributed around 2 million credits so far mainly on nanos for this pair, sparing them the need to have to run team missions just yet.

Baba's Pet team Sets off for the Subway for the first time.

Baba's Pet team Sets off for the Subway for the first time.

On their first trip into the subway at level 12 they kept to the west hall where the shops are.  They had no problem with the any of the mobs there and in less than hour had grabbed two levels.  They then exited to a backyard to allocate out IP points and upgrading their pets.  When they re-entered the subway they proceeded to the east hall, and took the left that leads past the shadows section.

This hall goes west for a ways and then turns right and leads to the west side restroom area that is populated with strikers.  On this trip the team only went as far as the bend where it turns north towards the restroom area.  After cleaning out all the shades along the way and quite a few strikers, they both dinged to 15 and decided to call it a night.

To say it went well is an understatement.  Even though they were fighting deep orange mobs, often with 2 to 3 at one time, health almost never dipped below 75% for most team members.  There was one fatality, that of the heal pet when they got swarmed by strikers once.  At this stage, most concentration is going to juggling the commands to each team member, and at this point, its not clear what is the best way to arrange the HUD in order to keep track of the health of all the pets.  A item for future enhancement of the HUD would the addition of pets to the team window.  As it is now, the team leader has no way of knowing if a team mates pet is running low on health points.

After dinging 15 they called it a night.  The next day, rather than go right back into the subway it was decided to send trader Tireen out to collect implant components to outfit Team Baba with QL 50 implants.  Thanks to Implant Helper by Donald Milne, part of Saturday was spent designing QL 50 implants for Babaengy and Babaemphee.  The Implant Helper made it easy to design Agility based implants.  A few agility laddering implants were also designed.

Tireen spent the better part of Sunday shopping for the components.  The laddering implants called for a few basic implants of QL 35 and QL40.  For some reason, (I wonder why)  The basic implant vending machines skip right over implants from 30 to 50.  They offer Basic imps in steps of 10 from 10 to 30 and from 50 to 125, but mostly skip over 30 through 50.  They usually offer one implant somewhere between 30 to 50, so the odds of finding particular QLs in that range are pretty slim.  This translates to hours of camping terminals hoping to get lucky.

After spending several hours with no luck, Tireen decided to try and make do with the closest final implants she could find in the completed implants shop which resulted in less than the desired ladding jump benefit.  This would cause problems later on.

Tireen handed these of to Babaente who had just the right amount of Nano Programming to assemble the implants with out bumping them past the desired QL level.  Assembling the implants took an hour or so, due to her having to terminate often in order to combine some clusters without them being bumped up past QL 50.  Due to the fact that there is no way to reduce Nan programming, the only way to avoid bumping an implant is to terminate and time the implant construction step to coincide with the moment their skill level rises to the target amount.

On Sunday, the completed implants were handed over to Babaengy and Babaemphee.  With Tireen standing by, Babaengy put on a med suit (a gift from Baba), and flipped the surgery clinic switch.  Although the first set of laddering Agility implants went in without a hitch, he soon found that he was shy a few a handful of points to put in the rest.  He ran off to Old Athens grid to seek an Agent for a Feline Grace buff to bring his Agility up.  After about 15 minutes of circulating the grid area and the shop area, he finally located an Agent, asked for and received the buff.  After running back to their chosen back yard, the rest of the implants went right in.

Once Babaemphee got med-suited up, and we checked her stats, it became clear that she was (even if she got a Feline Grace buff) 3 points shy of able to put in the implants.  The called it a night.

The next Monday evening, they checked all of Baba’s various inventories and found a Sekuteck helmet that Babaemphee could equip that would add 1 Agility.  At that point it seemed the simplest and fastest way to get the last 2 points needed would be to grab another level in the subway.  In the mean time, Babaemphee installed a set of QL 30 hand me down implants she found in the shared Baba inventory.  While they appeared to be a set originally put together for a trader or NT, they were still an improvement over no implants.

The big plus from this set was that it buffed her computer lit up to put her in range of equipping a 3 slot belt.  The lowest 3 slot she could find in Baba’s shared inventory was a level 62 with a requirement of 187 CL.  On a hunch, Tireen offered to do a quick Basic Shop run of Old Athen’s 3 basic shops to look for a lower quality 3 slot.  She came across a vendor with QL 40s which she quickly bought 3 of.  She made a note to her self to start making it a habit of checking those machines every time she enters a basic shop and hopefully someday find some QL 30 3 slot belts to stock up on for future alts.

Babaempee and Babaengy suit up for the Deep Subway.

Babaemphee and Babaengy suit up for the Deep Subway.

On Sunday Babaengy and Babaemphee managed to reach level 22 by making their first serious forays into the deep subway.  Eumenidies no longer guards the doorway leading to the spiral stairway that leads to the deep subway.  This bothered Babaoroody a bit when he first heard about it.  To long-timers like Babaoroody, Eumenidies was a sort of rite of passage for new toons in the subway.  As a level 24  mob, he effectively prevented casual lowbie solo toons from entering the deep subway.  If you were below his level, you had to have a team to get past him.  This led an additional air of mystery and mystic to the deep subway for  newbie’s.

The rumors are that he has been moved to the cave area past the slum runner room in the deep subway, but Babaengy and Babaemphee did not get to that room to verify that.

Our pair were level 19 when they started this foray, and both had pets a couple of levels above their own.  The problem they ran into was that their NCU capacity was not keeping up with the demand caused by the new pets and buffs.  It took some intricate buff juggling to get both sets of pets up and all of the team buffed.

Babaengy was still a level away from being able to self cast the generic 20 point nano skill boosts, so he was dependent on Babaemphee first buffing him so he could cast his best bot.  Once the bot was cast, he had to kill these buffs to make room for the AC, damage shields and damage boost buffs he usually runs.  At this point he had to leave out a few to still have room for health and nano recharge self buffs.

Both the engineer and the MP classes at these staring levels are very time dependent.  Both of the MP’s pets are limited to one hour.  The pets stick around after an hour, but they become in-effective, unable to deal damage or heal.  Babaemphee has to keep track of this life cycle time line be prepared to start looking for safe places to stop and re-cast pets when needed.  While the engineer’s pet does not seem to have a timer, most of the lowbie engineer’s buffs vary in length from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.

As Babaengy and his bot serve as this teams tank, it is imperative that he have his best AC buff, damage shield, and bot damage booster running on himself and his bot.  In addition, he usually casts the AC and damage shields on Babaemphee also.  This is a major drain on nano, and Babaengy uses up many nano charger kits.  While the loot tables of most average mobs in the subway appear to have been tweaked upwards a bit, nano charger kits seem to have been left out.

The tunnel leading to the deep subway is now guarded solely by a few infectors.  Once beyond the spiral staircase, it is obvious that there has been some major tweaking of mob placement.  The usual suspects are in their usual places, but there are numerous wandering versions throughout the main passageway.  These changes serve to make it more difficult for solo players.  Babaengy observed several solo agents and MP’s pass going deeper in to the subway, only to be seen a few minutes later running out for their lives with a handful of cyborg type mobs in tow.  Babaengy and Babaemphee were more than happy to dispatch these trains, as it simply helped them level up faster.

While the loot tables in general seem to have been tweaked upwards a bit. The cyborg subway mobs seem have had the frequency of Living Cyber Armor drops increased.  In just this one hour long trip, Babaengy had collected helmets for he and Babaemphee, legs for both, and sleeves for himself.

Things went fairly smoothly going in.  The cyborg mobs also seem to cast blinds more often now.  They made it as far as the last doorway leading into the long flat level with Abmouth at the end.  At this point, Babaemphee had to recast her pets.

On the way out, they did run into a spot of trouble.  In the last large room before entering the long straight section, Babaemphee got stuck coming up the stairs and had lost about half of her health before Babaengy realized she had not been able to keep up and had two cyborgs beating on her.  Babaengy had to health stim her while fighting off the mobs.  This pair will have to give extra attention from now on when passing sections with stairs going up.

After spending some time allocating out IP, both had advanced computer skills enough to be in range to equip 4 slot belts.  The lowest QL 4 slots in the Baba group inventory were 72 or greater, with too high CL requirements.  This was a job for Trader Tireen who grided over to Tir city where she camped a basic shop, entering the shop every 2 minutes and trying the terminal for belts.  After about a half hour of this, she did not get the lowest quality 4 slots (60) but did manage to snag two at QL62 which Babaengy and Babaemphee would be able to equip.  Babaengy and Babaemphee ended up with 40+ ncu each once the belts were in and populated with the best memory chips they could equip.  This should help avoid some of the nano juggling Babaengy was having to do.

Another evening, Team pets (Babaengy and Babaemphee)  made a quick run to the lower subway level this past evening and netted level 24.  Again we saw the spectacle of lowbie solo-ers or pairs training a pack of cyber type mobs.  Before the patch, in the long straight tunnel section of the deep subway, lowbies could solo quite easily, as the mobs were less numerous, and spaced out more.  With the patch there are both more mobs and many of them seem to spawn and roam about randomly.  Babaengy and Babaemphee have several times been in a room in this passage, rebuffing only to have several mobs spawn and/or come waking in.  While this has been a boon for our pet team, providing a more steady stream of experience, for solo lowbies, it spells doom.

Babaemphee picked up another Living Cyber Armor Sleeve, which leaves only one set of Living Cyber Armor Gloves left before Team Baba has all the Living Cyber Armor pieces that drop.  The chest and boots are only available via two separate quests, both of which are a bit of a pain to complete and make one question the usefulness of those two pieces.

It was time to prepare for what would most likely be their final subway excursion.  There has been posts on the official boards to the effect that the final level that can enter the subway has increased from 24 to 25.  Both Babaengy and Babaemphee sent our Trader Tireen off to get a hold of what will most likely the final pets they will be able to cast in the subway.  The bot and attack pet are level 37.  The corresponding level heal pet Babaente does not have because it is a mission/boss loot only nano, not available in shops.  Both Engineers and MPs are somewhat hampered by the fact that what seems to be about half of their combat toolbox is made up of non-store buyable nanos.  A search of the common Baba shared inventory drawing on higher level characters Babaoroody, Tireen, and Babaente did turn up a half dozen or so such nanos, but almost all are in the ql100 or above range, so it will be a while before Team Pet can use them.

New things we learned about pets.  Some buffs used by toons can also be of use on pets.  Nano restoration, AC buffs, health restoration work great on the pets.  Damage shield do not seem to take.  MP pets last about an hour before they become of little use.  The may stick around longer, but are completely ineffective.

More details added to shops.  Many shops now have display cases containing actual weapons and a few have weapons in slick packages.

More details added to shops. Many shops now have display cases containing actual weapons and a few have weapons in slick packages.

On June 18,  2010, we sent Babaente to do a daily mission to kill borg north of Tir.  She had to kill about 15 to 25 borg to gain the 3 needed parts, and dinged 75.  Trader Tireeen pulled  the “take speed boost stims to guy at end of longest road” to ding 75.  Tireen also shopped up some more memory for Babaengy and Babaemphee, as well as their level 37 attack pets.  With her teachings Babaemphee can also now cast the next up healing pet Salivinious.

Babaengy and Babaemphee made their final Subway run the next night.  Now that Babaemphee can cast her Teachings nano line buffs, both she and Babaengy can cast pets even further above them than before.  They are getting an effective +45 buffs on their nano skills based on +20 from Expertise, and +25 from Teachings.  This requires rebuffing after when they are about to time out, or the pets will become non-responsive (O.E., over equipped).  We brought out a simple kitchen digital timer with a beeper to let us know when it’s time to rebuff.  The one we use has a large lcd display, so we can actually start re-buffing a few minutes before the buffs time out.

They had tried logging off and logging in down in the subway line that is found at the bottom of the stairs that is vacant, but Babaengy ran into our pattern texture glitch that can only be reset with a hard zone, which meant running all the way back and out the main subway entrance.  We did some research, but could find no way to reset the graphics that would work. This meant they went back to their old method of buffing up, casting pets, buffing pets in the next door backyard and then entering the Subway.  This method loses 5 minutes or so to the long run in before they start seeing mobs that are not gray in the deep subway.

They both dinged 25 by the time they had reached the section that overlooks the large room where the giant spider and cyborgs hangout.  They stopped there to rebuff and then proceeded fighting deeper into the subway.  It was late Saturday evening, and they had the dungeon to themselves, which seemed unusual.  This meant that they also had more mobs to take on.  There was some weirdness with Babaengy’s bot Stark-Fist who seemed to vanish for a minute or two in the section where there are cyborgs, infectors and a striker and there is a walkway above.  After clearing this section they then fought further to the room with the sunken water filled area.  There seemed to be more cyborgs here than before and they seemed to be more social.  Attacking one brought them all into the fray.

This seems to be common to the rest of the deep subway.  It seems like there are more cyborgs than before, they are more social, meaning, they aggro from greater distances when any one of them in sight is attacked.  They also appear to re-spawn sooner.  All of these changes are great for teams like Babaengy and Babaemphee, as it just provides more targets, but it ought to make soloing the deep subway a greater challenge than it was before.

They came close to wiping when they took on Virgil Aneid in the last room before Abmouths.  They made the mistake of pulling him and several shades into the larger prior room instead of fighting him in his room.  As a result, many more cyborgs respawned during the fight and piled on.  It was the first time this pair has seen both of their health dip below 50% and without some mutual 1st aid stimming and passing the heal pet around several times, they would not have survived.  They both dinged 26 during this fight.

Hitting 26 meant this was to be their last time in the subway. There was no bling loot here to draw them.  Memory rings would be nice, but just not worth camping for.  They decided to give Abmouth a shot and at least go out in style, rather than camp for rings, or simply run out.

At this point they stopped and recast pets, rebuffed and then went into Abmouths room to try their hand at him.  They first met a few infectors and a stray cyborg.  With them down, they proceeded to look for Abmouth and found him spawned down in his pit.
Babaengy and Babaemphee cast their best pet combat buffs, and then attacked.  They might have had a chance, but the moment they started in on Abmouth, 3 infectors spawned on top of them too.  It was over pretty fast as there was just too much damage for their heal pet HOT-LIPS to compensate for, and they simply could not take down that many targets at once, especially when one of them was a half dozen levels higher than them.  Abby sealed the deal when he destroyed HOT-LIPS.

Back at reclaim they learned that pets don’t die when you do as the bot and the attack pet were still with them.  With 2 levels of IP to hand out, they both will be able to equip some new pets.  While working out their IP allocation, they spotted a nicely twinked level 20 Engy sporting a level 47 bot in the shop they were in.

After allocating out their new found IP, they decided to start pulling team missions in Newland City, so some homework scouring the net is on their to-do lists to look for information about items to look for in missions at their level.

Bailing Out of Smuggler’s Den

27 05 2010
Baba's New Look

Baba's New Look

Before heading over to the mission office in Old Athens, Baba was sorting some current loot, and while adding a few Miy’s pieces to his bank, he spotted a Flawless Organic Armor Helmet that he could not remember ever trying on. He slipped it on to see how it would look in a social slot. He fancied the look of this helmet and  decided to make it a regular part of his ‘look’ for now.   He also decided to dust off the Black Clan Tank back piece that an org mate had given him a few years ago.  He had been finally getting close to being able to equip it, but then he found a good deal on a Veil of the Revoked, so he never equipped the Black Clan piece. Since he was using a plain bright red heavy tank armor in his social back slot, he thought he would try on the Black Clan there.  It has quite a bit more detail than the standard heavy tank armor and one detail that really stands out.  Prominent in the very center of the armor is a distinctive heart shape.   Baba decided he liked the difference the Organic Armor Helmet and the Black Clan Tank Armor made.

He was not as happy with how one of the new Daily Missions is shaping up.  He has been stuck with the same Kill 3 X at Smugglers Den mission every time he goes to the mission office. He gets the mission, tries, fails, cancels it, and then gets handed it again when he asks for a new mission.  The first week of the missions debut, and there seemed to plenty of freelancers showing up at this dungeon, looking for others to team with to complete these missions.  Now that the novelty is gone, and most everyone is familiar with this particularly odious mission, there seems to be far fewer if any individuals to be found roaming the Den.

Baba spent the last few evenings unsuccessfully trying to do the mission solo while looking for a team at the same time.  The second time he did manage to kill two of the first triads on the list, the Den Loot Controllers.  These he found at the entrances to the Smugglers section, however he dared not risk going deeper into the dungeon alone.

Somewhat like Steps of Madness, a solo enforcer cannot sneak around or avoid groups of mobs which he could handle individually, but not as a social group.  He tried but did not have the patience to sit around for twenty minutes for another Den Loot Controller to spawn.  After waiting some more and not seeing a single other player, he decided to bail.  Instead of going out the front entrance, he decided to make a run for the exit to Borealis that can be found at the west end of the Smuggler area.

Borealis Exit Point From Smuggler's Den

Borealis Exit Point From Smuggler's Den

He simply made a run for it, and would not have suffered much damage he had not run into the dead end that is at the end of the main hallway.  Even with having to double back a bit, by the time he exited out into Borealis, he had plenty of health left, so it is conceivable that it could be used as an emergency exit much like the ones found in Foreman’s.  If only Parrot Form was available as a Hacked Boosted Graft, then Baba could quickly get to the part of the dungeon that counts, and have plenty of time left on outside buffs.

After-wards he headed out to Perpetual Wastelands to grind out what experience he could by kiting Borgs.  After about an hour, he had gained about a half a level and decided to head back to Newland City to save and call it a night.

Baba Seizes Suspicious Crate Contents

16 05 2010
Baba Waits Out a Stuck Petition

Baba Waits Out a Stuck Petition during a regular mission. The result of jumping through the ceiling geometry.

Baba was really happy that he had decided to join the Smuggler’s Den team a few nights ago.  Even though he did not have an actual mission running, he gained both a greater familiarity with the Smuggler’s Den layout and was reminded of a few tricks he had forgotten.

It has been quite some time since Baba had been in a team playing tank role.  The last time was back when he was between level 60 and 70 often at Foreman’s.  After that most of the teams he played in were teams hunting Borg in Mort and later in Perpetual Wastelands.  At first teaming Borg only requires one competent role which is that of a puller.  Once a Borg is pulled the ‘team’ runs in circles kiting it, with everyone in constant movement.  It helps to have a Doc or occasionally some crowd control, but mostly its just group kiting.

In these situations there is no need to maintain aggro on the tank, and since kiting is the main form of defense, it pays to set Agg/Def to full Aggressive to speed killing.  In these kind of team environments, Baba lost sight of what it means to tank and instead started to focus on improving his run speed and Attack Rating.  As he leveled up into the 90s and early teens, he found himself often kiting Borg solo, it was fast and reliable way to gain a level then.  As Borg are very social, pulling in usually done out in the wide open spaces where one can use distance and things like hills and sand dunes to tactical advantage.  Because Borgs are highly social, Baba had stopped using taunts to pull because they would bring the entire complement of Borgs in the area running.  Instead he just cautiously approached the most isolated Borg until the Borg would sense him and attack.

Baba had been soloing a great deal then for simple reason that there have been fewer and fewer players looking for teams on Rubi-Ka.  It seems that all of his paying org-mates are off in the various expansions most of the time.  The new daily missions, for the last few days have brought many of his org-mates down to Rubi-Ka which means teaming opportunities for planet stuck FROOBS like Baba.

While no one complained during Baba’s most recent team outing to Smuggler’s Den, Baba was not happy with his tanking performance so he spent some time re-outfitting himself and practicing his pulling and taunting skills in a few solo regular missions.

Enmity Nano

Enmity Nano

He reconfigured his Hot bar to include to items that he almost forgotten about.  While Enmity is a low level generic beginners nano, it can be an excellent pulling tool up through mid-game levels.  The key to Enmity’s value is the 35 meter range.  This range is over double the range of other taunts.  With all but the most social mobs like Borgs, it usually only pulls one mob.  This advantage is very helpful in situations where dangerous mobs are grouped close together by allowing the pull of only one mob far away from the other mobs where it can be engaged by itself.

Baba placed the Enmity button on his top row hot bar for frequent and convenient use in his HUD.  He still keeps his other more powerful taunt on one of his other hot bars for quick access.

Library of Foul Language

Library of Foul Language

The other item he rescued from a his bank was a “Library of Foul Language”, an Enforcer only taunt tool.   The highest level QL he can equip now is a 167, which gives a 714 taunt and 42 radiation damage.  Since it locks Psychology for only 6 seconds, it can be spammed in battle to help keep the mobs attention while chipping away at its health.  The library is for Enforcers only.

Da Taunter

Da Taunter

Other professions can use a similar tool “Da Taunter” but only if they are atrox breed.  Da Taunter works much the same giving slightly less damage and taunt for the same Bio Met requirement.

Friday night issues in RL 4 kept Baba from rezzing back on to Rubi-Ka until rather late in the evening, well past the sweet spot for hooking up with org-mates or others in his time zone.  By then most of them were occupied with various missions, quests, etc, they started in the early evening.  He headed over to the Old Athens daily mission office and was handed the Smugglers’ Den Inspect Crates mission for about the 5th time.

Before he set off for the mission, he made one last adjustment, moving his Agg/Def bar from full Agg back to about 48% which is where the Agg/Def calculator indicated he would get the optimum defense while maintaining his swing rate.

After taking the Newland City short cut (talk to NPC Zyvania Bagh), he was at the entrance to Smuggler’s Den in a few minutes.  As usual there was not another player in sight.  Baba buffed up and ran in.   The passage ways were sparsely populated with low level mantises, evidence that some one had passed though some time ago.  He only met a handful of mantises by they time he reached the indoor stream cavern.  This is the cross roads where one has to choose between the first door on the right that leads to a honeycomb section with higher level mantises, or taking the middle passage way that leads to the mantise queen, or the left most passage way that leads to the Smuggler’s Den. Once Baba headed in the direction of the Den, he figured the previous party must have gone north, as the passageway he was going through were now fully populated with mantises.

About 75% were gray to him with a only a few being orange.  It was slow going, but he at least was being quite successful using the Enmity taunt to pull single mobs away from groups.  When he finally exited into the larger cave where the entrance is to the Smuggler’s Den proper, he was at first relived to see no Smugglers but dismayed to see it was still guarded by two closely placed heavy turrets.   It was such a  close fight, Baba had to resort to using his Assault Tank screen to outlast the second turret.

Thanks to some research at AOFROOBS, Baba had a pretty good idea of where to look for the crates.  Someone had written in response to his query about their location, that they could be found just inside the first doorway.  The crates were there, but another turret was also there along with a Den Loot Controller or two.  Once Baba dispatched them, it was time to see if his 273 Breaking and Entering was really going to be enough to open these crates.  The mission briefing mentioned that at least 250 B&E would be required.  He soon found that he was able to open the creates, however he was a bit perturbed that he could only bring back the contents of one of the crates. Both crates held the same type of item, and when he tried to pick up the second crates contents he got the “You already have this unique item” message.  This left him a bit concerned, but still greatly satisfied that he had gotten this far.

All that remained was to fight his way back the way he came, which was fairly uneventful and a repeat of going in with one exception.  He found the large open area that leads from the left into the cavern with the stream had been fully repopulated with mobs.  He started pulling them one by one and taking them out.  He had almost cleared the area and moved to the edge of the area where the bridge is when he stopped. To his surprise a pair of Mantises dropped down on him from the elevated arch that crosses over the cavern nearby.  Baba had been concentration so much at the job at hand he had never looked up to notice it or to notice there were mobs on it. After dealing with these two, getting through the cavern with the stream was easy and he caught a break when he reached the next section.  A small team with a mezzer in it passed by heading into the dungeon, leaving all the mobs from there to the exit mezzed, so Baba gladly ran the rest of the way out un-impeded.

Baba Dings 147 as a reward when completing the mission back at the mission office.

Baba Dings 147 as a reward when completing the mission back at the mission office.

It was with great satisfaction when he received his level and a half reward (bringing him to level 147) for turning in the contents from one of the crates at the mission office.