Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pleasant Valley Sundays

As chronicled during a post last month, doing one quest a day on my Witchdoctor during the summer was no problem at all. With a busy year ahead, however, I've been skipping more and more quest days, to the point where I've had to make up for 3-4 days of quests. Plus, Cool Ranch tends to have longer quests with bigger EXP rewards, so I've made a habit of doing this backlog on Sundays.

Two weeks ago it was the saving of Nurse Quinn...

...which gets pretty fun when the Ghost Jackalopes get involved :D

 With such a slow questing schedule, I set all companions to Brawlin' duty, with training points used only occasionally. Last week, the time for Mormo's first quest finally came.

Mormo is even cuter when he's bossy ;)

His third-person way of talking almost becomes contagious. Valkoor likes Mormo very much - Valkoor is only too happy to have Mormo as a first mate.

For today's questing, it was dispatching ugly baddies El Guapo and Santa Rana. 

The Bison Spirit functions very well when it comes to tanking with an occasional big hit on the enemies. I'm pretty sure he's died a few more times holding Salamander stabbers at bay.

Gotta love English Bill's hat!

Meeting El Toro again was a welcome distraction from the cranky Frogerales.

Ah, faces only a mother could love.

Finishing off Castillo Sapo with a flourish. 

Over the next week, it appears as if Valkoor will be nursing the Free Ranger back to health while on the search for Tonka. Eh, could be worse.

Level 21 and taking inspiration from punk hipsters. This is what makes questing exciting -- what will Valkoor look like after Level 30?! Only time will tell (probably about a month :P)

As if I wasn't getting enough of Cool Ranch, I went through Laestrygon with some throwback companions last Sunday. Jacques the Swash likes to bring out some experienced hard hitters every now and then for Trolls and Manticores alike.

Even if he kidnapped the reincarnation of Selena Gomez, it's hard not to be impressed with Froggo Villa. Only in Pirate101 can you have a Salamander bandit facing off against Odyssey-inspired Trolls. 

After another busy Sunday, good night, Cool Ranch -- for now.

Happy Questing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sharrrks In Arrrgust

Thanks to the Discovery Channel and the weird tradition they started, Wizard101 and Pirate101 celebrated Shark Week in their own way. On the Pirate side, shark-related items were put on sale... including the Cutthroat Bundle.

So, with last week's deal going on, I went ahead and purchased my first Pirate101 bundle. That meant looking through the Cutthroat's Cove house for the first time. I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to these things..

It's certainly spacious, but I feel like Pirate101 doesn't have enough furniture to work with right now. That, and I'd like to make the house a mix of Robinson Crusoe and Jurassic Park, but I've never seen the movie :P
Meanwhile, the PvP area is pleasantly useful for open-air dueling. Me and Ma1kavian may need some practice for the upcoming P101 Central Tournament.

CHOMP! Now onto the Wizard101 side of Shark Week, where the Warhammerhead Shark made its introduction.

The 64th fish -- and first seasonal one -- is swimming around most of Grizzleheim for another week. They're actually easy to catch for Epic fish; I've caught 50 (across four characters) so far. In pursuing the unusual Warhammerhead Shark, here are a few things to remember:

Although classified as an Epic fish, Warhammerheads behave more like Rare fish. They reside in four areas: Vigrid Roughland, Northguard, Helgrind Warren, and Triton Avenue. Being the only Storm species in Grizzleheim, it isn't difficult to locate one.

Warhammerhead Sharks also fetch a high price at fishing vendors. They're always worth upwards of 2,000 gold.

Don't forget to catch one before they're gone! I'm still trying to catch a Whopper for my little Aquarium Project, personally. I've crafted homes for 20/64 species, and have a loose goal to catch a Whopper or Small Fry of every fish.

Getting there, one Dekoi at a time.

Happy Fishing!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nefarious Update Notes

The 10-story Dojo towering over the Paths of Penance is no longer a mystery. Yesterday's Update Notes in Pirate101 headline the new Nefarious Tower, along with many other *mostly* good changes. Overall, from Trading to Team Up, it seems like many of Wizard101's mechanics have been introduced in P101. Even the new Ship Emblem service is a direct inspiration from Stitching. Of course, it's best that the two games not get too similar, but the borrowing of certain aspects makes things easier for pirates and wizards alike. We all know someone with a poor flag design, after all ;)

As my Witchdoctor slowly inches towards Cool Ranch, I definitely look forward to the Stagecoach and quests/dungeons that have been shortened. The only unfortunate thing I can see here is the possible loss of Charlie Goodnight in Miranda. Whoever voice-acted "Alright, varmint... drawww!" deserves a bonus :P

Meanwhile, the buffaloon-led Stagecoach basically functions as a Transportaler inside Cool Ranch, which has five skyways to venture through. Cost isn't an issue, either -- it's 15 Gold a ride! That's a huge savings on time and/or gold (if you regularly use Speed Boost in going to other Skyways).

Getting back to the major focus of this post, however: the Nefarious Tower! The minimum level for entry is effectively around 50, as pirates need only complete Mooshu and the previous Moo Manchu side quest (also given by Lord Chagatai).

Pirate101's Mooshu borrows some area templates from Wizard101, but much of Subata Skyway is specially unique and awe-inspiring. The Paths of Penance is one of these areas -- diverse enemies with a snowy backdrop. The Nefarious Tower is also visible from any corner of this large setting, and blows everything out of the water when it comes to difficulty.

For my inaugural run, I decided to join one group of #twizards -- Chrissy, Kristen, and Seth. From the start, it was clear this was going to be a long run. As the Privateer, Chrissy was set to heal us all, and throw in a firebomb or two. Two Swashbucklers and a Buccaneer typically make short work of opponents, but there were hordes of them from the start (18 in the above picture). Musketeers and Witchdoctors are better AoE-based schools, and we had none of those.

With fires slowing things down, everyone had a headache even before the 5th floor reprieve. Mythical creatures and Samoorai then took their turn before some very interesting foes awaited us.

Apparently, five pirates who strangely found their way into Mooshu were duped into taking the powerful Manchurian elixir. Yes, it did make them stronger... but with evil after-effects (including their demonic glowing eyes).

To take the elixir, or to not take the elixir? That is the question.

I felt bad going against El Toro ... and my whole team ... but hey, I wanted possessed red eyes!
(Also, in my defense, I did it near the end of the battle :P)

 And in that weird twist, Seth had to kill me. No hard feelings. In fact, the Nefarious Five battle was probably the coolest part of the Tower, especially with only five enemies.

Eight lengthy battles later, our group topped the tower. Of course, there was one more half-hour+ battle with the deviant Moo Manchu.

That's a nice carpet to get defeated on.

For all the enemies that lie within, Manchu's Nefarious Tower is bursting with really good gear. Really good. The drop rate for the best pieces is odd, however. Even after plowing through the second-chance chests, my Swashbuckler only picked up several 65+ Witchdoctor items... which were naturally No Trade/No Auction.

Yes, the gear is multitudes better than what we've seen before. However, drops are sporadic, and I think this will be updated before long. For instance, many players are comparing the new tower to W101's Waterworks. This dungeon initially had all gear dropping randomly, with No Trade/No Auction status. Thankfully, the No Trade status was dropped, and wizards were left with much less frustration (while retaining the difficulty of the dungeon). Above all, I hope the Nefarious Tower follows suit, as it will be a time-consuming dungeon to farm in. At least one guaranteed Moo Manchu item every run would be nice.

That is pretty creepy. Unless I'm fighting some Eagle Shades, I'll probably stick with my Amber Horde badge, lol.

Although the first run of a dungeon is bound to take longer than ensuing runs, the Nefarious Tower is just uncomfortably long. At this point, I think these changes should be made:

  • Third floor: Reduce penalty of breaking statues, or at least prevent our pets from accidentally breaking them and releasing powerful Foo Lions.
  • Fourth floor: The fire cheat isn't so bad, but at least skip the animation of a flame hitting someone. Thanks to that, this battle drags on.
  • Seventh floor: Oddly, 'Double Tap' and 'Blade Storm' now activate after a critical hit. I'm not sure this was intended, but it's definitely rather overpowered. Anyone can die within any turn, even starting with full health.
  • Eighth floor: As I've said before, the Nefarious Five battle was very interesting. However, it's not very fair to groups with less than four pirates. Perhaps structure it so that 1-2 pirates doing the battle would get 3 companions, 3 pirates would get 2 companions, and 4 would get 1 companion?
  • Ninth & Tenth floor: Brutal Charge and Explosive for the Terror-Cotta Warriors? Really?

I could go on and on about other updates, but the Update Notes clearly lay those out. Before concluding, though, here are some helpful links that have materialized (click the words wrapped into the link):

In the meantime, I'll have to do the Moo Manchu questline on Arlen in preparation. I don't think I'll be going back in that dungeon with a melee unit (in other words, Jacques). Hopefully, some changes for the better will be implemented before Test turns into Live.

Happy Farming!