Bards in Vanguard

 

Wow. Why didn’t I make a bard in Vanguard before now?! Ok, not exactly true, I did make a bard at release, but I found them very confusing, and since I was already trying to learn how to play, it was just not going to do for me. However, now I find them fascinating. A bard in Vanguard is how you’d expect one to be. Much like the EQ1 bard, EQ2 even. With some very unique and specific features that I just fell in love with.

Number one would have to be that you actually compose your own songs. The screen shot above shows this. You basically have a song book, that’s made up of (for now, I’ve got no idea if it will get more, lyrics were new to me at level 6) 3 components. Melody, Embellishments, and Lyrics. You can also put ‘rests’ into the song under embellishments, which will lower the energy cost of songs.

Not only do you compose your own songs, you actually name them, and make up descriptions for them. I’ve named mine, but have yet to feel creative enough to make the description. When you mouse over your song buffs, the name that you’ve created shows – as does it show that way for anyone in your group. As you level up, you unlock more melody / embellishments / lyrics thus being able to compose a variety of songs. For example under melody right now, I have a small renewing heal (80 hp every 4 seconds) the anthem of war which is a + dmg / str / int / AC buff, and my 29% run speed buff (which is nice at level 6). I can add any ONE of those to the melody, and then add three more song components.

Once you’ve created your song and saved it, it’s added to the list of songs that show under ‘currently playing’. You also want to make a macro for these, so you can play them – there’s no cast time, you simply switch from song to song. The macro’s are quick and easy to make, it’s simply a text command /playsong “Minxes’ Song of more Stuff” and that plays the song for you. I’ve got no idea if you can add a macro with two /playsong commands and if that will alternate two for you – I need to find myself a good bard site.

I know bards also work crowd control, and a great bard (I’d assume) can work great crowd control will still maintaining their group buff songs.

Not only do they have those songs, but they have melee attacks that do quite a bit of dmg, especially when I’m playing all of my + dmg songs at the same time, at level 3 I was taking down level 2 three dots with no gear. Which is really nice. I’m hoping maybe I get a snare, so I can kite, but I’ve got no idea, I haven’t checked into it. Even if I don’t, it’s still very nice. Bards wear medium armor, and can duel wield and all that good stuff, so today I’ll be making a set of gear, some bags, and weapons to get by the lower levels. I think finally that I’ve found a class that is complicated enough for me to stick with, but still really fun and can get things done just fine. Granted, this is just me rambling at 6:30am about a level 6 character, so we’ll see how it goes. In the mean time, LOTS of fun to play.

Just Watching the Sunset

 

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the one thing Vanguard does have going for it, that EQ2 does not – is the sense that you’re a part of an entire world, rather then just bits and pieces of zones. Those trees in the background arn’t just some flat landscape, those hills are actually real. So if you were to head out that way, you could walk up them, maybe find some little hut with evil things scattered around or whatever. The game feels like an actual world, and I wish EverQuest had that going for it. I hate zoning to and from everything. Vanguard has no instances. There are ‘dungeon’ type areas, but they’re contested. Typically the overland has a mixture of both heroic and solo content and they’ve done such a wonderful job of things (despite the bugs).

Arysh hit level 16 warrior, after running around Veskal’s Exchange. She did an interesting quest from Orchau Livom who wants to make some turtle soup. You head out and painstakingly pick out only the best of the best as far as turtle shells go. That crossbow I was using must have damaged some of them, since not all turtles dropped a shell, go figure.

You bring them back and she makes a soup, and all proud and happy she asks you to deliver the soup to Veskal – who promptly spits it out and says (literally) “Thanks, but no thanks”. Which is a quest for you to dump the soup out in the river. Off you go (Randolph the Reindeer in tow) and dump the substance, glancing around to make sure no one saw you. Head back to Veskal who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so he asks you to lie to Orchau and say the soup was delicious.

Which you do, of course, because you’re getting paid quiet well.

In the end everyone wins out, Orchau moves on to other recipes (maybe picking up a good cook book along the way) Veskal doesn’t have to eat the disgusting soup (hey, I TRIED to pick the best shells for that!) and you make out with a good pocket of change in the mean time.

Oh yes. I’m certainly enjoying the break from EQ2. No doubt I’ll be back, but Vanguard (despite the bugs, again) is a lot of fun.

Off to watch Jojnny Depp (drools) in Sweeney Todd!

One day I’ll own one.. Maybe..

 

Screen shot is Satia looking at one of the player made ships (no idea which one it is, or which craft style it is either) that are in Vanguard. Oh, and it’s raining out, though that’s slightly hard to tell in the screen shot. Vanguard has a weather system in place. Storms can roll through areas, including snow. Granted, it’s a little odd to see it snowing in Qualia (which is a desert theme area) but it’s still fun. A lot of people complain about the weather since you can’t toggle it off and apparently there’s some lag issues or something associated with it, but I find it fun and very easy to immerse myself into the world of Telon. When you’re running around on a mount the snow speeds up as though you’re flying through it, and it can practically blind you as you run about. The ship is a great unique aspect to the game that I’m looking forward to owning one day. There are some ‘fleets’ of ships that will be hosting parties on the 31st (New Years Eve) and sailing around to all of the ports as an event (player run) that I think is just plain interesting.

In Vanguard – Satia actually completed one of the United Races of Thestra quests that Ardwulf has been working on, rewards you with yellow gear (level 12-18, but hey, it’s better then the level 6 gear I was wearing). It had quite a few steps to it, but they weren’t especially difficult. Once Randolph poofs I know they’ll be harder. I had a lot of fun working on it, though at times I wanted to smush the other players who were close by quite soundly. Hard to work on quests when everyone else is working on them as well, and they’re reluctant to group up to try to get it done quicker. It was still a lot of fun though, and I’m glad I completed it. It didn’t reward me with much experience at my level, but hey it was just nice to feel like I was making some progress again.

I also managed to get Satia to level 13 tailor, which is the farthest I’ve ever managed to get. She’s been selling bags at a constant rate, and is up to 4g and some change now, makes me feel rich. I made some bags for Lemissa, who’s another friend that’s been playing VG a little. The bags cost me about 5copper to make, mostly just for the small amount of fuel cost, and I’ve been selling them for 20-25silver each on the Kojan market. Word of advice, don’t shop on the Kojan side, while it’s great for sellers, for people who don’t know about the three continents system it can be mighty expensive. Those same bags were going for 7silver on the Thestra side.

I also managed to get Arysh to level 15 warrior, and Faralithe is a level 13 psi now. I’m looking to get Arysh to 16 today for some new skills, and maybe a few more crafting levels since she’s a slacker at level 12 or so. I’d ideally like to see her crafter level above her adventure level, but I’ll have to actually spend some time leveling it. Not to mention I want to get into diplomacy – I have a good (apparently) site address written down in a note book some place but I’ll have to dig it up so I can refresh myself on how to play.

Taking Pride in your Craft

 

Ignoring the character model there for a minute (they’re getting revamped, eventually) one of the things I absolutely love about Vanguard, is the crafting. Why? Because it’s hard, and not hard to the point of impossible, but hard enough. In WoW everything is an instant combine, you can make batches (so long as you have the materials on you, also just called “mats”) and EQ2 has slowly been moving away from complicated by introducing various new things through the years. How many people remember (and miss) subcombines. Then everyone was given the ability to make everything (when we started, if you were a sage, you had to find an alchemist to make ink, a woodworker to make quills, an alchemist to make the WoRTs (washes oils resins tempers) and so on and so forth). Now it even sets up your entire crafting UI for you, and uses far less power then it ever used to. There’s also no craft below pristine any more, in stead you just get the item back.

Such is not the case with Vanguard crafting. Pictured above is my artificer (level 6 /flex) working away. Literally. It sort of feels like you’re playing the sims when you craft because everyone does little auto-emotes like “Hmmm” Or “ARRRGH!!” and then stomps their foot if a process has gone bad. Quite amusing (though if you’re crafting in long batches it can get tiring). Crafting is basically a management of points – gear – fuels – and tools. Number one, you have an entire tab for it since it’s a sphere. You get crafting clothes (and attributes where you can designate points later). I’m not going to try to explain the entire complex process, but I will try to explain basically what it’s about. It’s all about getting from point D to point A (hopefully) before running out of points. You also get complications showing up along the way – more frequently if 1. Your gear sucks. 2. Your gear needs to be mended (that’s right, you need to repair even crafting gear, not just adventuring gear) and 3. Tools suck 4. Recipes are just too far over your level.

There are 4 processes basically to every item you make. There’s finishing (a complete item that would be ready to wear afterwards) and refining (making those sub components). You use points for everything, and crafting has grades, A of course being the best. Or rather – 100% A. Since you can be into the A zone and not be at the end of it. That’s the green bar along the top left of the crafting UI (says I’m at C grade, I’m doing a work order here and I try to aim for C-D depending on the difficulty). Name of the game is to make the item and not run out of points before the end stage (or else you have to stop the process – and you loose everything.
You load your “table” with items – fuel, raws, and then items to counter complications. Most of the time you have to guess, and you only have a limited amount of table space. So you could have fuel, raws, and then bandages and water. Then a complication comes up that uses something you don’t have on your table, and you’re screwed, you have to craft through it. Which can of course damage the piece you’re working on. In the screen shot, Faralithe is using bandages and stretching to stave off a complication (which is the weird icon on the far right of the crafting UI).

Anyhow. The point was – I love crafting in Vanguard. It’s complex. There are guides for it – there’s crafting quests. There are crafting styles. If I want to go craft in Thestra, I’d have to earn faction with their tradeskillers, and then learn their style of recipes. This is really pronounced in ships as well. If you buy a Kojan sloop it has a different graphic then the Thestra one. Gear has different effects based on where it was crafted. It’s the first time since EQ1 where I’ve actually felt some pride in my work. In EQ1 you had hefty chances to fail at combines completely and loose your materials (though they did start ‘changing’ that with a large amount of aa you could put into your crafts to prevent failing and losing materials). What Vanguard realized early on is that there’s a niche of players out there who LOVE crafting. They take hefty pride in their work, and complicated (now granted, not TOO complicated) is a good thing. It’s a timely sphere to level up but well worth it. It’s also one of the best examples at relationships between crafters and adventurers. There is a huge market of people who don’t want to put in the time it takes to level a craft – which is great, they’ll harvest, and sell to crafters. Who in turn, sell back to adventurers. A nice little path. Now, there is some complaints of course, of people who feel crafters charge too much, that crafters are making far too much coin – but you can still make a good amount from selling your resources alone, especially rare ones.

On a non-crafting related note, I joined “Safe Haven” last night, which is one of those guilds who span across multiple games (they’re also located on Antonia Bayle in EQ2). I applied a few days ago, just looking for a simple home with some quiet chatter from time to time. They’re nice and friendly and plan out guild events, about 11 of us on constantly last night. Most of the people I’ve seen so far range from level 30-40 or so, even though I’m quite a bit smaller it was nice to feel welcome.

Enter the Vulmane Druid

 

Yesterday was quite progressive in Vanguard, though I did also log into EQ2 to check out my sales (lots of potions sold, that’s always a good thing, but little of anything else). I had started a Vulmane druid a few days ago – and druids in Vanguard are unique in the fact that they are cloth wearing casters (nukers) that use the elements rather then the typical healer (such as in EQ1, EQ2, and WoW). It gives them a very different play style. One also rare known fact about Vanguard is you can actually cast spells while you’re walking. All of your spells in fact. The pace that you walk is slowed as you’re casting, but the spells will still go off. It makes kiting possible for every single class. Especially those who have snares and roots (most cloth wearers have one of some sort though they do tend to break easily).

The Vulmane starter area was quite well done, it was one I’d not been to before. There’s a story line about the Spiritrager clan who were once proud and led by Gulgresh and Dangar. They were both feared and respected, but Dangar grew corrupted over time, and sacrificed the daughter of Silvermane to gain more powers. When you move out of the small camp to the city, you’re faced with figuring out who betrayed who as you wander through the town, and I had a lot of fun working on these.

I added a page on the blog where you can see my VG characters in case anyone was coming to play and wondered who I was on as. I am so used to having alts, why would it be any different in VG eh? Last night I formed up a brotherhood with my EQ2 friend, so that we don’t out level one another. It’s a great feature, as long as you don’t mind splitting your exp between people. Since I enjoy so many aspects of the game, it doesn’t bother me at all. We played last night and I hit level 14 (warrior) while he managed to get most of the way through 13 (disciple). Together we can take down blue 4 dots (2 at a time) which was pretty fun considering we’re not twinked out or anything like that. For the first time ever I was able to complete the Ra’jin Stronghold quests and got a new face piece, and the named also dropped a yellow sword for me (gear goes white – green – blue – yellow and so forth). After exping for a short while I decided to get some crafter levels, and on that aspect of the game it still eludes me some what. I’ll have to check out some guides. I did hit level 8 blacksmith though, which was great. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make armor or weapons yet. In Vanguard, if you want to make your own weapons and gear, you want to idealy be a few levels ahead of your adventure level – so I’m going to try to aim for that over the next few days. We’ll see how it goes.

In the back of my mind, I’m still deciding what to do come the 20th. I’m enjoying the game – but is it worth paying a monthly fee for? Last night some chunks (those are the squares of map and the nick name they’ve picked up basically representing the “seamless” zoning of VG) were experiencing rounds of 4,000-10,000 latency, which was horrible. I still have to /flush and /flush all for graphic glitches. On the other hand I am having a blast playing. So do I shut down one of my EQ2 accounts (and then comes the hard choice of which one) and get station access? Or do I just return fully to EQ2 once the 20th of January rolls around? As of yet I don’t have the faintest idea. I suppose if I find a community in VG before the 20th, then I’d get station access. For now I’m still just wandering around on my own the majority of the time.