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.