Train Stopping at TOTW

7 08 2010
Train Stopping at TOTW

Train Stopping at TOTW, click for full image

The final boss in both the Subway and the Temple of the Three Winds are designed to be a significant challenge to the capped levels allowed in those dungeons.  What is especially devious is how the players are set up to fail by the major jump from the next to the last boss to the last boss.  The progression of mob difficulty in both dungeons is mostly linear.  Players get lulled into expecting each next higher mob to be a few degrees harder.  The jump is a 2-3 levels for most of the progression, at the end however the jump is about 10 levels.

Babaemphee and Babaengy made another run to TOTW a few evenings ago.  They had to fight their way in through solid grays all the way to DOT.  They headed due north to the center wing and were glad to see the halls mostly clear.  They found the Curator waiting in his room and engaged him in a short brutal battle that he lost.  He did not drop any notum rings, however he did fill out Babaengy’s TOTW shoulder piece collection.  They headed next over to Nematet’s room and were taking down their second Windcaller when their neighborhood experienced a brown out, which caused their Net connection to go dead.

The only thing that really concerned them was that they had had the room to themselves and it looked like they would have a clean shot at Nematet, so they were concerned that the link death delay could allow some other team to take over the spot before they got logged back in.  When they did log back in a few minutes later (after all flash lights and candles were located) in RL4, they still had the room to themselves, which was a bit of a problem.  They had rezzed back right next to a Windcaller and got instant close vicinity aggro and so had a fight on their hands, without their pets.  After a few minutes, it was clear that their puny weapons were not enough to take this Windcaller down, at least not before several hours had passed.  Fortunately they still had their buffs intact so Babaengy was able to re-cast his bot which quickly put the Windcaller away.

In taking down all the Windcallers, they had to let rot a bunch of very nice Agent only armor. Babaengy really wished he was able to cast Beacon Warp, so he could warp AgentBaba in to collect this loot.  Babaengy is about 20 MC short of being able to cast it. It would require an outside Infuses buff, since Babaemphee herself is a couple of hundred IP points away from casting those.

The main gain of the evening was that Babaengy dinged level 60 after defeating the curator, and Babaemphee hit 60 after they felled Nematet.  They both decided to head back to Newland to allocate out this IP.  After doing so, Babaengy was just 7 points short in MC to cast his lvl 90 bot.  He did an extensive search of all of the Baba’s inventories via Inventory Assistant, for MC buffing items.  The closest thing he found was a Miy’s chest piece which would do the trick, but it required quite a bit more to equip than he could expect to get a wrangle from Tireen for.

After reviewing the Auno database, they decided they did not have any buffing items that would do the trick. The decided that the surest thing would be to go from QL75 to QL100 implants.

They were starting to tire a bit of the Temple, so a break was taken, and a few other of Baba’s alts were logged in to grab a level or two when they could complete daily missions.  Unfortunately about half the daily missions are impossible for the advertised levels.  The only way to complete them is with  twinked paid toons or by having higher level toons complete the tasks.

Once again, new content turns out to be a vehicle catered to end-gamers, in this case a convenient way for end-gamers  to level up their alts.  It is very suspicious how almost all of the new missions allow a higher level character to collect any required items and simply hand them over to the lowbie.  Curious how they went out of their way to keep those items from being no drop and prevent that kind of practise.

The impossibility for leveling toons comes in when the missions require having to kill or navigate through large numbers of mobs that are 10 to 20 levels above the toons current level.  My level 25 got a mission to kill level 55 mobs.  I am sure this has got to be discouraging for new players.

But to get back on topic, why do we dread the temple sometimes.  I guess it is no matter what your business is there, from camping or leveling for hours, or just a quick in and out to grab a single not-so-hard-to-get item, one has to spend 15 minutes killing grays on the way in, and another 15 doing the same on the way out. At least at Foreman’s after you completed a few quests, the guards stop aggroing you.  For toons like our pet classes, it means more down-time stopping to re-buff as needed before ever getting close to the objective.

The other thing we dread about TOTW is some of the other players there.  On almost every trip there one gets to see a new and different way for toons to misbehave.  On this last few trips trip several stand out.  First there were the jumpers.  There is a certain brand of noobe in AO that thinks that the space bar (jumping) is a drug, they cannot get enough of it, and somehow think that everyone else is bound to be amazed by their jumping skills.  When our team rezzed into the TOTW entrance they were greeted by a MA whose sole form of communication was to walk up, stand directly in your face and jump up and down endlessly.  No vicinity chat. Just jump, jump, jump, look at me jump!  It was almost enough to make us want to dust off our emote help screen and program a special emote macro for the next time one of these geniuses show up.  Later while in Nematets room, a distant cousin to the MA, one of million lvl 60 Exarch robbed Enforcers with a Carb Helmet, ran into the room, right up to our team, and started in with the jumping in place.  Yes we see you can jump, and no, we have no openings on our team for jumpers at this time, as soon as the day arrives that combat requires a jumper, you will get the call.  I guess they never heard of vicinity chat.

The next winner has to be Mr. My-Only-Skill is pulling trains, an otherwise unremarkable and forgettable level 37 soldier with a Carb Helmet and Exarch robe.  Mr. My-Only… had been waiting in the entrance area for someone/anyone to display his skill.  As soon he could see us starting to advance after buffing towards the inner door, he burst through it and ran at top speed down the hall into the dungeon.  About the time we had just killed the first pair of cultists and were starting in on the first one that stands in the middle of the hall, Mr. My-Only comes racing back with most of the cultists from the left wing on his train.  I imagine he actually had to stop and hit a few just to make sure they would join in.  Of course as he passed us on his way towards the entrance, he gaily gave us the jumping greeting several times.

On another recent visit just as we were approaching DOT’s central part of the big hall some people refer to as the crossroads, when from of the door to the west wing comes some twink battlerod enforcer, a twink MA with one of those hats that look like an upside down brass wok (official name: Original Mentors Straw Hat.)  There is something about TOTW MAs in upturned woks.  Babaoroody has regaled his alts with tales of upturned wok wearing MAs up to mischief at TOTW.  Now Baba and company make it a policy to not judge a book by it’s cover, but anytime they see one of these upturned wok wearing MAs, a red flag pops up which they try to not pre-judge the wok wearing toon by.

This pair seemed to have a couple of other accomplices in their team, who all executed the TOTW crossroads train escape of jumping the low wall on the north side of the eastern wing entrance and running around behind the entrance to hide.  Bursting forth from the door to the west wing came several Deathless Legionnaires, several Windcallers, a handful of cultists, and Lien.  Babaengy and Babaemphee were suddenly in a fight with the legionnaires which took them a minute or two to clear.  Fortunately Lien had wandered over towards the south wall of the hall and was minding his business.

Custer Did It Better

Since Babaengy and Babaemphee had been on their way to Lien, this was actually not a bad thing, at least, that is what they thought as Babaengy started buffing the bot with his two best combat buffs.  Babaengy gave his bot a wait command, so it would not run over to where Lien was. Babaengy wanted Lien to come to them, at which time he would give the bot an attack command.  About two microseconds after Babaengy and Babaemphee and her pets attacked and aggroed Lien, the Defender of Three spawned right on top of them.  There was some confusion, as Babaengy tried to switch the bot to DOT while Babaemphee continued with the already started attack on Lien.  Babaengy found his bot unresponsive suddenly. He would  target one of the bosses, and then issue a bot attack command, but the bot just stood still.  This went on long enough that Lien was able to knock Babaengy’s health down to 25%.  Babaengy then realized that Babaemphee had recently switched the heal pet to her self after a previous fight and they had forgotten to switch it back to Babaengy.  By the time Babaengy got his bot back under control and attacking Lien, and Babaemphee switched the heal pet to Babaengy, the poor heal pet could not keep up with the damage rate Lien was dealing on Babaengy.

In the past when they fight Lien, they usually have the bot attack first and build up aggro, so most of Liens damage goes there in addition to his AOE attacks that hurt everyone in the vicinity.

It was not much longer before Babaengy was back at reclaim, and soon after Babaemphee.   It was time for lunch in RL4, so Babaemphee and Babaengy logged off for a few hours.  When they logged back in a few hours later and returned to TOTW, they found it with far fewer toons roaming the halls.  None of the mischief makers from before were to be seen.  Perhaps some other victum successfully petitioned them, but that is highly unlikely given FUNCOMS usual performance with petitions.

They made a beeline for Lien, and after slogging through the Legionnaires on the way down, they took on Lien, this time on their terms, better coordinated and according to a strategy that works for them.  After pulling and taking care of all the surrounding Legionnaires, Babaengy buffed his bot, and then sent it to attack Lien.  After they bot had had enough time to land several high damage hits, Babaengy attacked and Babaemphee sent her attack pets in, while throwing a debuff on Lien.  Babaengy then unloaded his three TOTW damage rings on Lien to help bring his health bar down faster.  Babemphee, after landing her debuff, launched into throwing her single nukes on Lien.  The heal pet had no trouble keeping Babaengy’s health up.  Babaengy gave Babaemphee a first aid stim shot about half way through.  They simply ignored the little doll things that spawn, as they do little damage, and they go away once Lien dies.  After Lien went down, it was Babaemphee’s turn at his goodies, and she took away a Dark Memory and a Memory Loop!  After rebuffing, they fought their way back out of the temple and returned to Newland City for the day.

Friday night, Baba’s trader alt Tireen was enlisted to try and sell one of the Grid Armor I ID disks our teams have found, to further finance Babaengy and Babaemphee’s progress.  The credits were needed to bump up their store bought implants from 75ish to 100.  Sitting in the grid near the OA exit, it did not take long for Tireen to advertise the ID, find a buyer, dicker over price and agree to a deal.  They met at OA grid and the infusion of credits Tireen took away will help equip team pets next set of implants.

Both team pet toons were outfitted with store bought 100 imps.  It was necessary with both to purchase a couple of extra implants for treatment laddering.  It was nothing like the multi-step laddering real twinkers do, it was simply, put in a 75 treatment right hand, then put in a 100 eye treatment, take out the 75 hand and replace it with a 100 with treatment.  Next the 100 treatment eye could come out and a more useful 100 eye put in followed by the rest of the QL 100 store bought imps.

Notum Defender

Notum Defender, click for full image

The imps made it possible for Babaengy to equip a one more step higher bot (level 90) and allowed Babemphee to be able to use her Notum Defender.  The Notum Defender, to other players looks like a gimp weapon.  It is a gimp weapon, but MP’s at her level don’t rely on their weapons, but their pets.  The Notum Defender gives her 370 nano and a nice -3 nano cost reduction.  The modest 104 points to all AC’s helps with her overall defense.

The next day, they returned to TOTW, and made their way down to Lien with little incident.  They came across a couple of low level 30-40ish toons, and enforcer and some other toon we did not have time to identify.  They seemed to be unsure if they wanted to fight Legionnaires.  They pulled a few, while Babaengy and Babaemphee were fighting others, but eventually that pair left.  Later when team pets made it to the last Legionnaire before Lien’s room, they came across a toon sporting one of those spiffy Perennium Beamers.  Being too busy pulling and taking down the other Legionnaires around Lien, they did not identify the player but it could not have been a twink, as it was taking it forever to take down each Legionnaire it fought.  That player stood around to watch as Babaemphee and Babaengy prepared to take on Lien.  The fight went pretty much like the last battle with Lien.  This time, after Lien was down, it was Babaengy’s turn to loot, and he took away his second Dark Memory.  There was also a Urn which Babaemphee was allowed to take and several Howling Skulls, which they left for some other players loot.

After rebuffing, they again fought their way back up the ramp that goes down to Lien.  As the were going through the room right after the grotto area, a 33ish solo toon went running by and down towards Liens hall.  They proceeded and eventually stopped in the wading pool area near DOT to recast some of their pet damage buffs for the final set of outgoing hall fights.  This area is a good one to pause, rest, or anything in comparative safety.  It is far enough away from DOT and the three wing entrances, that if someone does pull a train out of them, it is easy to make a run to the exits or run behind one of the entrances to hide.

It was quite humorous to see the previous 33ish toon come running like crazy out of the west entrance at DOT’s crossroads, with several Legionnaires in tow.  He made a beeline for the exit hall at the other west end of the big hall, but stopped when he realized he would just pick up more cultist if he attempted to run through there. He was already starting to go into that slow death run, and we assume the Legionnaires finished him off.  Babaengy and Babaemphee then proceeded to fight their way out the east exit hall.  Some one must have just come in and taken the west wing, as all the cultists in the central exit hall were dead, making it easy for our pet team to stroll out the rest of the way.





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. AOPriceWatch.com 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.





Neleb and Temple Passed By

25 11 2008

Assault Class Tank ArmorOn their last training mission, the final boss was taking forever to kill.  It was so bad, Baba had to resort to using both his Hasty Augmentation Field and use the 20 second shield from his Assault Tank Armor, before it would go down. Oh, and lots of Mongos, too.

Backpack of SurvivalAn interesting item that dropped was an adventurer only Backpack of Survival.  It is a backpack with the added benefit of providing ACs like an armor back piece. This one is QL 101 and it has 505 to 400 ACs and +20 to perception.  The only requirements are adventurer profession and 202 in adventuring.  It should be a nice twinking item for lowbie adventurers.  Now that AOGMS has stopped it’s service and the in game mrshop and thegms are also no more, Babaoroody and his alts are back at square one in terms of selling loot.  Shopping channel on Sunday afternoons, looks like the best remaining option now.

One of the other goodies that also dropped from this last tough boss was a QL99 OT Windchaser SM32 PSB which we passed on to our trader Tireen.  On paper, or online in Auno’s damage simulator it looked better than her current QL 90 Vektor Lizard, and with it’s much shorter attack and recharge times, it allowed Tireen to crank her Agg/Def bar back to 56%.

She first tested it out on a few Rhinomen in Newland Dessert and then via several team missions with Babaente.  After the trial run, she decided to go back to the Vektor.  She has to keep her Agg/Def bar at 100% Agg due to the slowness of the gun, but from her logs, it appears to hit consistently higher regular and critical hits.  We have experienced a great degree of variation between what the official stats say a guns performance should be and what shows up in our logs.  We have also found that individual guns even vary by QL level.  We once had Vektor that was 5 QL’s below the next higher up one we had, and the lower QL one consistently delivered better damage.

This is similar to some behavior Babaoroody experience below title 4, where similar 2 hand blunt weapons would diverge from the published specs and sometimes a lower QL version would out damage a higher quality version.  We suspect it may be true for many weapons in AO, so our advice is to pay close attention to your damage logs, especially when upgrading weapons.

Over this past weekend Babaoroody and Babaente made several more unsuccessful tries at Neleb in the Steps of Madness.  What seems to get them into trouble is the geometry of the place.  Very often what looks like a clear line of sight is not, such that the floating meatballs may be able to press their attacks, but our enforcer is unable to reach them with his axe to cause damage or with taunts to draw them closer.  This leads to Babaoroody having to get so close to a group of mobs that some of them aggro on Babaente.

Babaoroody and Babaente see lots of other players doing well there.  Even teams of lvl 50-60 players.  Baba does not want to scare off others from trying the Steps, but he and Babaente are just not doing well there now.  Our pair decided to call it quits for now.  The objective, Neleb’s robe is just not worth it at this point.  Currently Babaente has more than enough nano, NCU and nano skills, such that getting the robe now would not make any significant difference.  The exarch robe she currently has gives 30 more AC and 35 health and has the same nano cost reduction.  They may return someday when both have leveled more.

Next Babaente and Tireen went scouting for a new kiting spot, having decided there was nothing else they absolutely had to have from the Temple of the Three Winds. They found a promising site, and Babaente dropped down for a few trail kites to see how it would go.  These mobs were in the range of 60-75, a bit higher than anything she has kited before.  She cautiously picked a small number for her test kites.  Even though they were small kites, it was enough complete her 61st level, while Tireen still has a way to go at level 60.   Passing level 60 means Babaente can never enter the Temple of the Three Winds again, since it is level locked to players over level 60.  As we did with our pairs previous kiting spot, we will not identify thier new kiting spot until Babaente and Tireen have leveled out of it.

While out scouting for a new kiting spot, an problem that they had been trying to ignore came back to plague them.  About 5 levels ago, when they implanted Map Nav to equip the monster map upgrades, they also made an effort to get and equip all the maps they could also equip while the temporary implants were in.  While most of the maps they choose went in with no problem one would not load, giving the message to check their skills and the maps requirements.  Babaente had more than the amount stated, but the Map would not show up in her profile or when in the zone.  While scouting they had found a promising site, but it was a zone where the problem map would not load.

Babaente even purchased another copy of the map which also would not load.  She entered a petition at around 9 pm and was contacted by an ARK at about 9:45.  The ARK was very polite and walked Babaente through many diagnostic steps including having to zone several times. After allot of troubleshooting, Babaente was finally able to use the needed map.  Every time you petition, you are putting yourself at the mercy of a volunteer at the other end. The ARK on this evening was just fantastic, no attitude, just technical expertise, humor and polite firmness when nescessary.  We have gotten a some less than friendly ARK’s in the past, so after getting good service from this one, we were sure to send a postitive write up to the survey PM address that was given at the end of the session.

Although it may take a while sometimes, it does get results.  We would caution everyone however to ONLY enter a petition when you have sought help elsewhere, done independent research, and exhausted your own resources.  You may also want to weigh the potential time involved.  Is it worth your time (at least 45 minutes or more) and that of another person?  In the same amount of time, could you achieve what you wanted in another way?





Baba’s gotten a bit rusty

18 11 2008

This past Thursday evening Babaente and Tireen ran a few more team missions for tokens and Babaente finally reached 120, and was awarded her 120 token board.  The next token award requires 250 tokens, so it is quite a jump.

Not your cookie cutter mission room, but an original.

Not your cookie cutter mission room, but an original.

Tireen also got a step up Thursday evening.  After hitting level 60 she was able to equip a better ransack skills (Ransack skills).  When cast on top of Deprive Skills, her shotgun skill was boosted by about 90 points which allowed her to equip a ql 90 Vektor ND LIZARD.  In the last mission they ran, she was getting crits of 1200 to 1400, which helps cut Bosses down to size.

They tried running a couple of missions with their agg/def slider set to full defensive.
Although we have not yet looked at the log statistics, in practice the added number of mob misses was not enough to counter balance the huge reduction in damage rates for Tireen and Babaente.  The battles took longer and in the end, they both lost more health in each fight.  With each fight taking longer, the mobs were given more chances to land a strike.

Friday evening we read a post in AOFroobs for posting your GUI.  We went ahead and posted Tireen’s current setup and after doing so, decided to take some time to re-organize it.  Now that we have a bunch of levels under our belt with both the NT and the trader toolsets, we thought we could decide which things were really needed, and which had just been put up because we didn’t know any better.  The same evening there was another post at AOFroobs that mentioned a program Keyclone, which intrigued us, as it is for sending keystrokes between multiple windows or dual logging as we call it in AO and the World of Warcraft types call multiboxing.

We spent an afternoon trying to get Keyclone to work for us and like several other utility programs meant to run together with AO, it was more than our aging computer could deal with.  While it ran, and did pretty much what the box says, it was slow and flakey on our system.  After sometime messing around with it, we decided to pass on it.  If your computer is relatively new (ie multiprocessor, at least circa 2006) then it might work great for you.

Not having much luck with Keyclone, we posted a call for help with it at AOFroobs and got the thread locked by the moderator Tarradax which was a bit surprising seeing how he had participated in the previous thread there where Keyclone was discussed and had not said a peep about it then.

Baba doubted he would fit in that.

Baba doubted he would fit in that.

After putting that behind us, both Tireen and Babaente refused to run any more missions for a bit. They were both demanding a change of pace.  Since they both hit thier targets of getting thier 120 token boards and level 60, it was time to give them some fresh activities.  Since Tireen has the weakest back item, she went first and headed out to the Temple of the Three Winds via the portal next to the Newland Dessert outpost whompa.  At level sixty she was alble to breeze through the first hall with-out aggro, but she picked up a massive train running through the right L shaped hall.  She dumped the train using the hop the wall at DOT trick.  She worked her way then down to the guardian of time’s room.  She passed a couple of 60 level players coming the other way, and when she got to GOT’s room it was empty.  She dialed her adddeff to full defense and was then able to by pass the six to eight cultists on the other side of the door out of GOT’s room leading to the Exarch hall.  She moved east towards the east hall that enters the left side of the Exarch hall.  This way she only picked up one cultist to fight before the left hall and avoided Gartuas room with his 4 cultist trox buddies.  After entering the left hall, she went back to full agg and worked her way through the cultists till she was in the exarch hall.  She picked off the windcallers one by one, and was able to handle them fairly easily.  Windcaller Yatilla however was actually harder than the Exarchs.

Then she went for Exarch Ecclese and a sure robe drop.  She got lucky and landed a couple of crits in the 1200 range, and soon was a new owner of an Exarch robe.  It helped a great deal, cutting many temple mobs down to minimum damage.  She took out the other two exarchs and picked up a tattered flame ring,  a weeping flesh ring, a silver ring of three, and a notum ring of three.

She headed over to the east wing for a try at the Reanimator for one of the shoulder items, but ran out of luck there, with the Reamimator makeing short work of her.  We will have to review the logs to see why the reanimator was soo hard after having a easy time with the Exarchs.

It was Babaentes turn next, she and Babaoroody headed down to the Steps of Madness and got as far as the first room with mobs, where things got a bit confused.  Dual logging with Tireen and Babente has had plenty of practice, but Babaoroody and  Babaente together was really a first and we got bit confused since there were a few differences in thier hot bar layouts.  They decided to back out of the dungeon and return later after running a few team missions together to work out thier hot key layout and best ways to work together.

Sunday Babaoroody and Babaente rolled a few missions to get into practice working together.  A good hour was wasted when none of the duplicated mission keys would work when they got to thier destination.  Since they are too far apart to team, one has to roll solo missions and then duplicate the key for the other.  For some reason none of the first set of rolled mission keys would work as duplicates.  After re-rolling another mission, they headed out to Lush Fields south of Harry’s.  They worked out several things. mostly having to do with re-arranging some of Babaoroody’s hot bar keys.

Another major problem with his hot bar surfaced after they had exited from one of the shops in Newland city after restocking Babas med and nano kits.  He was going to put himself on follow, and out of habit hit the 0 hot bar key that Tireen and Babaente both use.  Unfortunately, on his bar this pulled a mongo.  As he was standing right next to three guards, they promptly sent him back to reclaim having been aggroed by his mongo.

The mission turned out to be too easy, with Baba putting down the mobs before we could alt/tab to Babaente and doing any support casting.

That evening they decided to make another run at the Steps of Madness.  Baba realized once they were about 2/3 of the way through the dungeon, that he had removed his long range taunt from his hot bar.  The previous times he has been to Steps, he had relied a great deal on this long range taunt to allow him to take most of the mobs one at a time.  Singlely, they are a piece of cake for him. But since they do fair damage while taking a while to kill, getting swarmed by 3 or more is usually fatal for Baba.  They pressed on anyway, with several near death fights, and actually made it to the final long room. Without his long range taunt the final room proved to be thier undoing.  Previously with his taunt, he would pop his head in the door, and taunt one mob out away from the others.  With out the taunt he and Babaente had to enter the room completely and as a result, they both got swarmed with several mobs.

Earlyer a much higher a few high level players had passed them heading for Nelebs room.  As Babaoroody and Babaente approaced the room they could see on the mini map a good number of the mobs in the final room, getting trained somehow to the part of the room where the entrance they needed to pass through is.  Baba was able to survive, but Babaente succumbed to the swarm and got sent back to reclaim.  Babaoroody then terminated himself so he could join Babaente.

The design of Steps seems to follow a what seems to be a fairly standard AO dungeon plan which is basically a linear passage through a large number of proceedingly higher level mobs, starting with easy ones, but quickly moving into a range that requires them to be taken one at a time.  There are almost no large open places or alternate routes and almost all of the dungeon is very tight and cramped, with lots of mobs in close proximity.

This puts Enforcers at a disadvantage since they cannot use Mongo, one of thier main tools.  If Baba mongoes in the Steps, he attracks all the mobs in whichever room or hall he is in, which is not a good idea.  The problem with the Steps mobs is that they seem to have much higher amounts of health for mobs of the same 50-60ish level.  It seems like they have 2 to 3 times the normal amount.  Since Enforcers are melee and have no area of effect attack, they can only damage one mob at a time.  If, as is the case with the Steps, the mobs take 3 times longer to kill, that means the other mobs in a swarm have 3 times as long to pound on the poor enforcer.  It is also bad news for Babaente, because when they get swarmed she is really at a disavantage as there is no way she could outlast one of these monsters one on one, much less several.  This is because of her pitiful nanomage health bar.

One thing that sets Steps apart from the other dungeons Baba has done is the use of light.  There is one spot about halfway in where as you pass through a narrow door into the next section, the waiting mobs floating in the air cannot be seen because there is a strong light source shining directly in your eyes.  This is a place where Baba used his taunt before with good results.  Without it, he had to blunder into the room, getting attacked by several at once.  Another thing that is characteristic of Steps is there are multiple places where the world geometry is just plain messed up.  On every trip in so far he has seen various mobs stuck in the walls in different places.  There are also many places where there are invisible barriers where although it appears you have a clear line of sight to a mob, the game tells you it’s not there or cannot be targeted.  This combines with the narrowness of the halls and the lowness of the ceilings to make camera use difficult.  In many places it is impossible to use a long zoomed out view. While this may be manageable for solo players who can do ok in first person mode, it makes it hard to keep up with the status of teammates.   These irregularities tend to give an overall unsettled feeling the further you go into the place.

Because of this and perhaps some other issues previously discussed here (how the mobs are actually alot tougher than the given level they are supposed to be) he has yet to see any players of that level there.  Almost every single player he has seen has been title 4 or higher, sometimes like himself with a lowbie in tow.

After they healed up, they pulled another mission for practice again.  Things were going well, however they made one mistake in judgement near the end of the mission.  Even though they really were not concerned with the loot or the mission reward, they found themselves in one of those end of mission quandries.  It was a spot the person type mission, and the target person was in the middle of a hall, blocking the only way to 3 other mobs and rooms.  They should have taken thier lessons from Steps that Babaente is still squishy and if they get attacked by more than one mob at a time, she is vulnerable.  This is because even though Babaoroody easily overpowers mobs in Babaente’s range, as a melee fighter, he can only do damage to them one at a time.  If more than one mob attacks Babaente, Baba is limited to attacking those mobs one at time in series.

Baba made the mistake of trying to run past the target and take on the two mobs just past it.  This did not work out as all three mobs aggroed him and Babaente.  While he tried to fight them off, Babaente succumbed, since she was way overmatched with the single mob that had attacked her while Baba was busy taking the other two down.





Gold from Shop Food

2 11 2008
Treasure Chest, source of team mission loot.

Treasure Chest, one source of team mission loot.

Part of the depth and richness of Anarchy Online is the vast array of items that one comes across when looting mobs.  Whether it be dynacamps, team missions, solo missions or dungeons, AO mobs drop thousands of different items.  The huge main body of the items seems to be useless for anything other than Shop Food.  While everyone dreams of the big Phatz drop, grid armor, nullity sphere, etc.,  is seems most of the time, loot is junk.  One line of loot that appears fairly frequently in lowbie mobs is that of the Boosted Grafts.  At first glance these are items that are worn like armor, but give buffs for various profession specific nano buffs.

Many nubies immediately shop food these if they are not for their profession.  What many nubies are not aware of is that these items may be hacked so that they may be used by any profession.  Hacking Boosted Grafts involves using a hacking tool.  Once a boosted graft is hacked it becomes a Hacked Boosted Graft that can be used by anyone.

Once you collect a few from mission loot or mission rewards, the next step is to decide if they are something you can use or if you will want to sell it.  Look closely at the hacked boosted graft to see what skill it locks, usually for 30 minutes or more.  If your luck the skill is one you don’t use to cast important nanos.  Some boosted grafts lock key skills like Time and Space.  The normally soldier Partial Harmonic Cocoon in hacked boosted graft form, locks time and space.  This means that an NT or Trader using it, will not be able to use their first aid and nano rechargers while time and space is locked.  This is not very practical.   While some other skills can be done without, especially if the boost is used for a Boss fight, the locking of Time and Space, prevents one from using health and nano rechargers.

Tireen is especially happy with her most recent hacked boosted graft for Blood Circle.  She has found it most useful for Boss rooms, because of the +1 increase to her heal delta.  She has found that while the heal data only lasts for about 10 minutes, it is enough time to provide an edged when taking heavy damage in a Boss room.  Heavy damage in a Boss room usually means, that all the mobs in the room have attacked.

Tireen shows off her new Triple Ribbons of Battle.

Tireen shows off her new Triple Ribbons of Battle.

Babaente and Tireen ran a number of team missions over this past weekend.  Babaente dinged twice reaching 58 and Tireen dinged up to 55.  Tireen also collected her 60th token, and upgraded her token board to Triple Ribbons of Battle which give +200 Health, +150 nano and +1% experience.  Babaente finished up Saturday evening with 57 tokens, just 3 shy for his 60 token board.  Their Rubi-Ka bank accounts have seen health increases from the team mission loot found while earning tokens.  They are averaging about 70,000 credits per mission each.

An advantage of pulling missions with mainly human type mobs is that they sometimes drop First Aid and Nano rechargers of the same quality as the mission.  Ever since Babaente and Tireen have been running team missions, they  have not had to buy any First Aid or nano rechargers.

Another boosted graft they found this past weekend was a sparrow flight graft.  This was put into a bank for safekeeping and eventual gift to future alts.  While it takes time for starting out toons to raise the 5-8 million credits needed and actually finding a low quality level Yalmaha, new toons can benefit from having Sparrow Flight, which even though it only flies a few feet off the ground, does have a fast speed, easing the nubi’s travel burden between far-flung missions.

Tireen is currently sporting a quality level 86 Vektor ND Lizard, now and getting 1050 critical hits.  Despite this, she tried a visit to the temple of the three winds a few levels back, and got sent back to reclaim by the Defender of Three.  For a solo squishy like Tireen, the DOT’s massive fire damage is pretty hard to stand up to, even while dishing out 1k critical hits in return.  We are still hesitant towards trying to dual log our pair in the temple.  Too many variables that can not be controlled, such that, when things go bad there, they tend to go down hill quickly.  It is looking like we won’t see Tireen back at the temple until she is a level locked 59 or 60 and solely to get one of those Exarch robes.

We have had good luck selling hbg’s via sloob guildmates in game shops.    Which brings us to our froob rant of the week.  Funcom, please, please, please, allow froobs to have access to the player shops.  There has got to be a way to do it programming wise, and it would benefit all players by invigorating a moribund market.  If Funcom wants to keep AO going, then this is one step that would not cost them anything, would require little if any development time, and again would benefit all players, froob and sloob.  Not being able to sell a great deal of a froobs loot is incredibly frustrating.





Preparing for The Temple

20 10 2008

The Original Electrocutium

Babaoroody’s alts Babaente and Tireen, reached a major objective recently, they both have reached or passed level 50. Thanks to Babaente’s NT kiting abilities, she completed leveling Tireen to 50 and herself to 54. The last two kiting grounds have been a small ruin with Rhinomen in Varmint Woods, just north east of Majestic Bridge, and then NW Mine in Lush Fields. At Lush Fields they relied on Babaoroody to stop in occasionally and put down any lifebleeders that were in the way. They set the level 50 targets as the level when they would like to give the Temple of the Three Winds their full attention. While there is no level requirement, and it is quite possible for low teen players to do well in teams there, it can be frustrating for low levels because of the train problem there.

By the time a toon is at level 50, they should be immune from most of the trains, with the only exception of trains that include any of the major bosses.

Before they could move their operations to the temple, they both had a few tasks to take care of. Tireen was overdue for a better set of implants, and Babaente’s stats had advanced close enough to equip a Quality Level 67 Carbonum Armor set that is a hand-me-down from Babaoroody. The carb had been a gift to Baba from a Angels of the Night guild mate Renfred.

Tireen spent the better part of Saturday evening buzzing laps around the shops in Omni Trade, collecting her new implant clusters and specifically level 75 basic implants. As always, it seemed to take longer to find the last two pieces, a quality level 75 cluster and a quality level 75 basic head. She obtained the basic clusters from the first machine on the left in the Advanced shop trade rooms. These vending machines feature basic implants where the quality levels are random. She eventually gave up trying to find a 75 basic head and settled for a 74.

Early Sunday morning she delivered them to Babaoroody, who dutifully assembled the implants. Tireen’s concern about the 74 basic head vanished when it was clear that almost every implant Baba assembled was bumped up by one or two levels, such that the 74 ended up being a 76 and most of the others came out 77s. We had forgotten how this happens when assembling implants from scratch, and must confess a lack of understanding as to how it is determined and how to manage it. Tireen was happy however to get the higher quality, her only concern was if the requirements had risen too much for her to equip them.

As we have discussed before, traders have to make several trade offs when trying to use store bought assembled implants, so custom implants seem to always make sense for Tireen.

When she donned her med suit, cast her self generic treatment buff and used the surgery clinic she easily had the required treatment. She did come up a few points short in stamina for 3 of the implants.

Unfortunately Tireen is on the same account as Baba, so he could not provide her with an enforcer’s essence buff for the extra stamina.

This meant it was time to head over to Borealis for a little buff begging. To make it as easy as possible, a few scripts were in order. The first script has her wave, ask “May I please have an Essence buff? :-)” followed by a curtsy. A second script was also created to serve as a follow up. This macro has her say “Thank you very much!” and then bow.

Here are the scripts:

To ask (filename: beges)

/wave
/delay 1000
/v May I get an Essence please 🙂
/delay 1000
/curt

To thank (filename: thkyu)

/v Thank you very much!
/delay 1000
/bow

If you have not used scripts before, these are text files placed in an Anarchy Online scripts folder. To use them in the game, you create a macro for each.

To create the first macro, enter at the command line in a chat window:

/macro beges /beges

After you press enter, a macro button with the name you gave it will appear under your mouse pointer. Move it to a hot bar, and click once to deposit it on the hot bar, where you will be able to activate it in the future by clicking on it. The procedure is the same for the next script macro, just change the script filename in the macro.

Thus prepared Tireen set out for Borealis with the typical enforcer profile clear in her mind. She has always had her best luck on the street in front of the general store entrance just north east of the Omni recruiter and the giant metal dog. It seems to be a place that always has plenty of people milling about. She used her macro and it worked quite well. She got her buff off about the 3rd Enforcer she asked.

With her essence buff running (they generally last over an hour) she headed back to her Newland City backyard, and completed installing the last 3 implants. The main benefit of these QL 77 implants is the healthy bump to her shotgun skill, this time enabling her to finally equip the highest quality standard Vektor ND available, a QL 69 one. The Vektor line continues with the Vektor ND Lizard line that goes into the quality levels above 100. She is now looking forward to using it at the temple where previously the QL 40ish Vektors she toted, had not been very effective against the 30ish level cultists she encountered in the first few halls.

It was Babaente’s turn next. She had made a slight mistake when calculating the buffs she could count on to help her quip the 67 carb. She had mistakenly counted the generic stamina boost as giving her 20 stamina. It was only after that failed, and she checked and found that the generic stamina boost only buffs 12 stamina. The big question was where to get 8 more stamina. The trio checked their inventories, but came up empty for any buffing items to make it up.

It turns out they did overlook a pair of concrete cushions that they had for sale. At quality level 10 they would have easily provided the 8 points of stamina needed. Of course Babaente did not remember the cushions until after she went to Borealis for an Iron Circle buff.

She used a copy of the same macros/scripts Tireen had used and quickly obtained the Iron Circle buff from an helpful doctor (Drcordova, lvl 123 nanomage Omni Doctor). Of course Tireen had to prove her nuube-ness, by not knowing it was a team buff, and being confused when the doc asked her to join his team. Thankfully the doc was gracious about it.

The carb went on then with no problems. It yielded practically double her Armor Class points all around, and gave her a healthy boost to her NCU and max nano.

They also upgraded or added a few new nanos. Tireen added Advanced health funnel, Capable Health haggler, Deprive skills lesser, Skill wrangler commonplace, Strip assests, Sticky ground and elementary delayed health payment. All are fairly well known and welcome with the exception of Sticky ground. So far the low end beginner trader root nanos have been rather dissappointing and weak. She is of course hoping Sticky ground will prove to be more useful.

Babaente added two nanos, Crunch Com nano compressor which will reduce the amount of nano used up when she casts, thereby extending the life of her nano pool. Curtain of Darkness is a progression up of the NT’s basic blinds.





Tireen dings 50

18 10 2008
View of NW Mine from Fixed Dungeon Entrance

View of NW Mine from Fixed Dungeon Entrance

Babaente was very busy Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at the NW Mine in Lush Fields.  She had the help of Babaoroody, who would drop in from time to time to give her an Essence of Titan health buff and do some trimming of the Lifebleeder population.

She confirmed her theory that kiting might go smoother if she did away with using the auto-target and auto-attack settings.  Hunting this way, does not require any more key presses.  She usually manually targets the first key mob, and when the kite is getting near the end, she manually uses the next hostile mob button to select the most healthy mob remaining in the kite.  The best part being that she had absolutely no occurrences of the stop, cast fails, and auto turning to face the kite.  This became fairly obvious after only the first 2 or three kites.

Flat road area, Tireen pulls her kites to this area.

Flat road area, Tireen pulls her kites to this area.

The next kiting factor she worked on was spiraling in at the very end of the kite.  This is useful mainly when the kite is very large and if the kite has mobs with varying health levels or the mobs were picked up at different times.  In these cases, running long straight patterns tends to cause the weaker mobs that are getting close to death to fall behind.  If they fall too far behind, they can lose aggro and go back to standing or milling around.  This is wasteful of your time, if not checked and can be dangerous if you happened to double back  on one that may not be exactly where your systems tells you due to lag.  The near death mob then becomes an attacker again, and can inflict some surprise damage to your health bar.

To counter this, a circular or semi circular route works very well.  You have to experiment with the radius of the circle versus the run speed of the mobs that are healthy and the ones that are slowing down. When done right, the slowest mobs will gravitate to the center of the circle, where they will continue to be damaged by the nukes aimed at the stronger ones that are running faster.

It’s a great feeling when you start to see the yellow experience numbers start to flash up in front of you when the tail of the spiraled kite starts to die.  It is also time to be extra careful to insure you do not collide with any of the weakened mobs.

Another thing that Babaente only realized fairly recently is that if you are a kiter, you benefit from putting IP into first aid because you can use first aid kits while running.  Since they lock first aid skill for 40 seconds, the higher the quality level the better.

By the time Saturday afternoon was ending, Babaente was at level 54 and Tireen was at level 50.  They had said that when they were both 50 or above, they would head over to the Temple of the Three Winds.   There are just a few things they need to do before that.  One is that they need to buy and equip the various nanos that they both have increased their skills enough to meet their requirements.  For the trader Tireen this includes Advanced Health Funnel, Capable Health Haggler, Deprive Skills Lesser, Skill Wrangler Commonplace, and Strip Assets Continuously.  For Babaente this includes Crunch Com Compressor and Curtain of Darkness.

In reviewing both of their stats after the recent levels, they also have some other immediate needs.  Tireen has reached the point where she could easily fit into some QL 74 implants which would be a logical progression from her current QL 50 implants.  They would also give her enough Shotgun skill to be able to equip the QL 69 Vektor ND she has waiting in the bank.

So rather than be at the temple Saturday evening, it looks like it will be the excitement of shopping for clusters in Omni Trade for Tireen.