Author Archives: Darkbrew

The Hybrid Approach

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I’m leveling my sixth toon under 12x XP. Not all are level 60, but only two are not yet 55. This one as you might expect is in honor of the new Togruta species introduced in Game Update 3.3.

I’m very impressed with how Togruta came out. I gave Cathar a try rolling several toons with both male and female versions of that species, but I couldn’t bring myself to love any of them. This coming from a cat person, by the way.

Togruta on the other are very well done and have a nice variety of customization options. The range of contrasting skin colors is rather impressive, and their faces seem to convey moods that I haven’t noticed in other species. This is what I chose for my new Sith Inquisitor. Sith Inquisitors can be smug and arrogant, and I think my Togruta conveys that nicely.

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As I mentioned, this is my sixth character that I’m leveling with the 12x XP bonus. Two were done right before Shadow of Revan, and the rest during this latest round.

The last two that I leveled were an Imperial Agent and a Republic Trooper. The IA was the first story I ever completed and I wanted to revisit it since it’s been almost four years. The Trooper was another I had only done one time, and there were some great moments that I wanted to experience again; the prolog, the corrupt Senator, and Agent Jaxo to name a few.

In all of those instances, my goal was to experience the story and level the characters quickly. For the most part, I enjoyed the experiences, but the journey felt like it was missing something.

The class stories are great, but there are other quests and stories that are equally good, and I felt bad skipping them over. This time I’m taking a more hybrid approach. I’m focusing on the class story, but I’m also taking the time to experience some of my other favorites. The Revanite quest on Dromund Kaas. The Tatooine planetary story. Battling it out with Thana Vesh on Taris. Freeing the Dread Masters on Belsavis. The Battle for Corellia.

Will it take longer to get to 60? Sure, but I’m hoping it will be a more enjoyable experience. If nothing else I should get a few more comms and gear to ease the gear gap as I plod along.

I’m also ready to declare the Sith Inquisitor story as my favorite. This is my third time through the story. There are so many things I like about it. It’s an underdog-ghost story-treasure hunt with a great cast of characters and a wonderful mix of humor. The only thing that’s missing is the ability to shock Khem Val every time he mentions Tulak Hord’s name.

Yes, that would make it perfect.

It’s Not a Stronghold, It’s a Resort!

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The Yavin IV stronghold is utterly amazing. In fact, calling it a stronghold doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It’s more like your own private resort. I plan to spend most of my days greeting guests with Blizz at my side, like Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island. Smiles everyone, smiles!

Smiles indeed. If you’re like me you’re still grinning cheek-to-cheek over this addition. It is without question the best stronghold in the game. It blows Tatooine right out of the desert.

It’s not cheap, but you won’t be disappointed after unlocking all of the rooms. I chose to conserve my credits and unlocked everything with Cartel Coins. It will cost you around 11,000 coins. I had six thousand save up and bought another five and I have no regrets.

Smiles everyone! Smiles!

Smiles everyone! Smiles!

The Stronghold has both indoor and outdoor areas to decorate and explore. My favorite room in the temple is built around a cascading waterfall.

There is a basement room with a decorative head statue and an outdoor balcony. There is a mezzanine that overlooks the main room and exits to a bridge that connects the temple to the main grounds.

The bridge is another beautiful area. It runs parallel to a giant waterfall on one side, and an incredible view on the other. You can even see the mist from the waterfall permeating the air around you. It’s that detailed.

As you cross the bridge and enter the temple grounds, you’ll find two sanctuary buildings both with accessible rooftops. The rooftop of the main temple is also accessible.

The temple grounds are highlighted by stunning vistas, misting waterfalls, and double rainbows all enhanced by beautiful ambient sounds.

There are more than enough hooks for decorating including plenty scattered about the grounds in and around the streams, waterfalls, and grottos. I don’t have nearly enough Revan statues to fill the hooks that will support them.

It wouldn’t be Yavin IV if there weren’t secrets to be found such as a giant cave and a climbable watch tower that is straight out of A New Hope. There is another hidden gem that I wish I had discovered on my own, but I wasn’t clever enough. Perhaps you are?

I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t much into strongholds and decorating, but Yavin IV has me sold on the concept. I will now be making a habit of visiting SWTOR strongholds looking for decorations and decorating ideas.

The Yavin IV stronghold is not a home away from home. It’s just home.

I Believe I Can Fly

I completed the Draenor Pathfinder achievement this week. I took my time with it, and because Blizzard is taking their time with releasing the patch, I’ll be able to take to the skies when it finally goes live.

It’s probably the last big grind I had for Warlords of Draenor. Other than continuing to progress through Hellfire Citadel, which I’m enjoying mightily, and getting my Fel Raven, I’m quickly running out of things I wish to do.

Gamescom is just around the corner and Blizzard will have a presence there. Will they use it as the platform to announce the next World of Warcraft expansion? Expansion announcements have always been reserved for Blizzcon which is happening in November. It’s really not that far off.

I hope that they break with tradition and do announce the expansion at Gamescom. I will be attending Blizzcon and would love to be in person for that exclusive. That said, if they announce the expansion next month, they’ll be a lot further along for Blizzcon and they’ll have a lot more to show and talk about. It should make for better presentations.

Whether they announce the expansion next month or in November, if they can’t release it sooner than next Spring, we’re going to be in the Tanaan Jungle and Hellfire Citadel almost as long as we were in Siege of Orgrimmar.

It will still make Warlords of Draenor the shortest expansion, but I’m not sure this is progress.

The Big, The Red, and the Ugly

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There was a tuning hotfix that went live on Tuesday and it included buffs to both Beast Mastery and Survival.

  • Beastial Wrath now lasts 15 seconds (up from 10 seconds).
  • Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, and Serpent Sting damage increased by 25%.

Bendak from Eyes of the Beast did a nice write-up on how this impacts things in Hellfire Citadel. The bottom line is that is that it doesn’t change much. In Tier 17 gear things are close, but once you start collecting T18, Marksmanship continues to shine.

Fans of Survival may find a few spots to fire off those Explosive Shots and play with those AoE Serpent Stings, but as far showcasing it in WoW’s premiere content, progression raiding, it’s over for this expansion.

The good news is Blizzard has a tendency to over-fix things so it will probably the highest DPS spec in the game when the next expansion rolls out.

Bestial Wrath was made more fun, though. Fifteen seconds of Big Red Pet means you can squeeze three Kill Commands in one session. I still like to use Beast Mastery in the Tanaan Jungle. It’s great for taking down multiple elites and it’s fun in Timewalking dungeons. You can even break out some of your old tier sets and trinkets for those.

While this change doesn’t make it my go-to choice for raiding it does bring the spec closer to it roots of Big Red all the time.

Meanwhile…Game Update 3.3

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If you’re anything like me, then you’ve been obsessing over Knights of the Fallen Empire and have completely forgotten that Game Update 3.3 is scheduled for release on July 21st. This update includes PvP reward changes, the Yavin IV stronghold, and playable Togruta.

I’m not all that interested in the PvP changes, but a new stronghold and Togruta? Oh yeah!

I must admit, I’m way more excited about the Yavin IV stronghold than I ought to be. I have all four of the original strongholds and none of them are decorated or fully unlocked.

My strongholds are just glorified versions of my ships. Cargo holds, legacy storage, mailbox, vendor and GTN kiosk all in one convenient location. No having to run to the other end of the ship to grab something I just bought from the GTN.

I’m hoping that the “coolness” factor of the Yavin IV stronghold will inspire me to become a decorator, although I fear for my wallet if that happens.

The stronghold itself won’t be cheap to acquire. The data-mined costs have it at 2.5 million credits to purchase, and an additional 10 million to unlock all of the rooms. You will be able to purchase everything with Cartel Coins, but those prices have not been revealed.

I believe that there is some benefit to acquiring the stronghold with Cartel Coins. If you do this and then decide to deactivate it, it won’t cost you anything to reactivate it. If you acquire it with credits then you will have to pay again.

I’ll do a mix of credits and coins, but this will the first stronghold the I fully unlock, and it’s probably where I’ll spend most of my time until the big event.

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HK-51: “Query: Bro, do you even decorate?”

In addition to the stronghold, Togruta will be available as a playable species. It looks like they’ll work just like the Cathar did. You’ll be able to unlock them for 600 Cartel Coins.

If you’ve played a Sith Inquisitor then you’re familiar with Ashara Zavros. She is a Togruta; an especially whiny Togruta. If you’ve played the Jedi Knight then you’re familiar with Sgt. Fideltin Rusk. He is not a Togruta. He looks a lot like a Togruta, but he’s actually a Chagrian.

Personally I would have preferred Chagrian over Togruta. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get a more alien-looking species, but they’re a bit of a cross between a Twi’lek and a man wearing a powdered wig.

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The first Togruta Halloween costumes. Circa 17th Century.

I gave Cathar a try, but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to like them. I’m hoping I’ll feel different about Togruta.

Of course, if you want to play a Togruta you will either have to create a new character or do a species change on an existing character.

I have an open character slot, but I also know that every name in the game has been taken, so I’ll ending up hating the new character based on that alone. I’ll either have to choose a really short name that is nothing more than a random assortment of letters, or a really long name that nobody wants to type. Seriously, though, there aren’t many names left to be had. Even the ones you get from the random name generator are often taken. Whose idea was it anyway to create a name generator that gives you names you can’t use?

I could change one of my existing characters. The problem there is I either like the species/advanced class combinations that I have or I hate the advanced class. I don’t want to change one that I like, and I’ll never play one that I don’t. I feel like my best option is to create a new character, but what class?

I think most classes are suitable for Togruta except for Sith Warrior and Imperial Agent. I have two Bounty Hunters, two Imperial Agents, two Sith Inquisitors, two Troopers, two Jedi Knights, two Consulars, one Sith Warrior, and one Smuggler.

While it would be nice to see the Smuggler story again, I’m not sure I want another Pub toon. I’m leaning toward Sith Inquisitor. If nothing else it will give me the opportunity to play the whole storyline wearing Tulak Hord’s armor. Yes, I think I like that idea. I’m also told that light-side Nar Shaddaa is a lot of fun for the Sith Inquisitor and I’ve yet to try that.

Game Update 3.3 drops on Tuesday, July 21st. See you on Yavin IV.

Back to the Future

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Okay everyone brace yourselves, this is heavy. Senior designer George Smith revealed BioWare’s plans for end-game content in Knights of the Fallen Empire.

They are overhauling their Flashpoint and Operations system. Every existing Flashpoint and Operation will be made relevant to players who are at max level.

There will be solo Flashpoints that scale you down to the level of the instance. There will be tactical Flashpoints that bolster you up and allow you to play with players of almost any level. There will be hard mode Flashpoints that require tanks, healers, and DPS. On top of that every single Operation will be converted to level 65.

Everything about this announcement is amazing, except for one thing.

We know that many players love our Operations and look forward to the introduction of new challenges, however with Knights of the Fallen Empire there will not be any new Operations.

Great Scott!

That’s right for the better part of Knights of the Fallen Empire players will be stuck in time reliving their past glories.

Keep in mind that the story part of Knights of the Fallen Empire is scheduled to last until May or June of next year. If George’s statement means no new Operations for the entire expansion, that’s a long time to go without any new elder game content. I’m talking Obi-Wan stuck on Tatooine long.

Oh No! The Rancor!

Oh No! The Rancor! Again.

I love Eternity Vault. I really do. I think Soa is one the best raid encounters I’ve ever seen in any MMO. Am I looking forward to defeating him again? I’m not sure.

The problem with Soa is I know the fight. I know where to stand when the platforms fall. I know which platforms to jump on. I know when to pause, and where to heal up.

I’m familiar with the orbs and the mind traps. I know all of this already. It’s not just Soa either. It’s the entire Operation. The same goes for Karagga’s Place, Explosive Conflict, Terror From Beyond, Scum and Villainy, Dread Fortress and Dread Palace.

I’ve done Bonethrasher so many times that I feel like I’m the guy in Return of the Jedi who sobbed like a baby when Luke killed the Rancor. Bonethrasher’s my buddy now, not my adversary.

What makes Operations so engaging is learning how to overcome the new mechanics that bosses throw at you. Gear is nice, but it’s only part of the equation. It’s what keeps players running on the treadmill once they’ve mastered the Operation. Here’s something I found interesting from George’s post.

As you continue to play and progress in the game and pass the level range of those Flashpoints, you no longer play them, as they become obsolete. Similarly, due to the nature of gear progression or an increased level cap, as we release new Operations we continue to make older Operations obsolete.

This is how MMO’s work, or a least it’s how many MMO players perceive them to work. You play through the content when it’s relevant. Then, after players have conquered it and are bored with it, you increase the level cap and release new content to satiate their voracious appetites. This is how Star Wars: The Old Republic has worked for nearly four years. Now with Knights of the Fallen Empire, BioWare is creating a huge paradigm shift, and it’s not clear if players are ready for it.

Knights of the Fallen Empire is a relaunching of the game, and the changes to Flashpoints and Operations are BioWare getting their house in order. The question is will anyone still be living in the house when all is said and done?

The Return of Nico Okarr

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BioWare posted a nice little vignette on Nico Okarr called Vacation. It’s an enjoyable read that reintroduces the opportunistic smuggler back into the world of The Old Republic.

If you recall, we first met Nico in the SWTOR trailer The Return. He was the man in the wide-brimmed hat arrested for stealing Sith artifacts from the temples of Korriban. Timing is everything, and just when it looks like he is destined for a life in the brig, all hell breaks loose and our heroes find themselves in desperate need a man of Nico’s talents and fast ship.

It’s a great trailer loaded with important figures from The Old Republic. Jace Malcom, Satele Shan, Darth Malgus and T7-01; all have been featured prominently in the stories that followed. Now Nico is making a return, and while Vacation provides a glimpse of what his life is like now, what he’s been doing, and how he’s looking after all these years, it still leaves many questions unanswered.

If you have an active subscription on July 31st, you will receive Nico Okarr as a companion when the expansion launches in October. Will he just be given out or will he be featured in the Knights of the Fallen Empire storyline?

I’m hoping it’s the latter and that those who qualify will get a different set of dialog options that allow you to bring him on as part of your crew. Those who don’t will just watch him ride off into the sunset.

Incorporating him into the story seems fitting given the direction the expansion is taking, and it would go a long way towards cementing him as an important figure in the TOR lore.

If they don’t include him as part of the storyline then I suspect that there will be a short quest, similar to what they did with Treek. Perhaps a brief meeting in a dark corner of your space station’s cantina.

What would be smart for BioWare to reveal is if Nico will have romance options, same-sex or otherwise. We do know from the trailer that he has an eye for the ladies, but that was a long time ago and people can change. For instance, he’s a hero of the Republic, why would he want to aid the Empire?

Read Vacation and you’ll see where his motivations might come from. Let’s just say that Nico is a multi-talented guy.

I don’t know how companions will work in Knights of the Fallen Empire, or which ones we’ll keep or lose, but I’m making room for Nico aboard my ship.

Let’s go, Nico. Vacation’s over.

 

Patch 6.2 – My Hunter

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Patch day is here, which means in a few hours we’ll have a whole slew of new content to conquer. A new questing zone, a new raid, and new gear. All arriving just as many of us are departing for the Summer. I kid, but not really.

So Hunters have changed again. Not drastically mind you, but there is some housekeeping that I will need to tend to before stepping into Hellfire Citadel this evening.

In Patch 6.1 my two specs were Beast Mastery and Survival, and Survival was only there because I needed something for a second spec. I ran Beast Mastery the whole time, and I was all in. I had fever flare fever with Mastery and Haste on everything I could get.

For Hellfire Citadel, I’ll be Beast Mastery and Marksmanship, and this time I’ll actually use both. As I get new gear, especially the tier, I’ll lean more towards Marksmanship than Beast Mastery.

On our last podcast, we talked about going Marksmanship right out of the gate, but my gear and stats are all geared towards Beast Mastery, so that’s where I’m going to stay until I get a few new pieces.

Aspect of the Fox is gone, so that’s a free spot on my toolbar. I’m curious to see how many people in my raid realize that Fox is gone. I suspect not many.

I’m looking forward to playing Marksmanship again, especially since Focusing Shot will be a good talent option with the tier gear. I really don’t like playing without a pet.

Speaking of pets there are several new ones to tame. The green Fel Wolf from the new taming challenge is definitely on my list. The Iron Horde Wolf, and Hulking Diretusk are on my tame list as well. My stable is completely full though, and I’m finding fewer pets that I want to abandon. I’ll find a way to fit them in.

That’s my Hunter in Patch 6.2. Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and a few additions to the stable. While you wait for the realms to come back online, I recommend you listen to Episode 219 of the Hunting Party Podcast for some additional tips for Patch 6.2.

KOTFE: The Fate of the Smuggler

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I am a hero of the Republic. I am also a Smuggler. You know, a rogue, scoundrel, pirate and gambler? I once walked into the Star Cluster casino with 10,000 credits and rode out atop a rancor. Only on Nar Shadaa right?

The great war is over. The Galactic Republic and Sith Empire lay in ruin. Not at the hands of each other, but felled by the mysterious Eternal Empire of Zakuul. Whoever they are.

I missed out on all the “fun”, but I’m back now. Maybe I’ll hunt down this Eternal Empire, or maybe, just maybe I’ll return to doing what I do best – smuggling.

With a new galactic overlord in town and the Republic and Sith in full retreat, people are going to need things. Things that only a guy like myself can get.

Blockades will need breaking, medical supplies will be in, well, short supply. Food, water, adrenals, and spices. If you need them, then you need me and I promise to deliver.

War takes a toll. Being a hero takes an even a greater toll. I gave at the office, and now it’s time make the dream of that mesa resort on Makeb a reality. What? The planet still has a few nice spots left, and it mostly stable now. Mostly.

I can’t do this alone. No to pull this off I’m going to need a crew. Not just any crew, but one to rival the great smuggling contingent started by Hylo Visz during the Great Galactic War.

So who do you get to help you build the most successful smuggling ring in all the galaxy? Meet my dream team.

Nico Okarr
Nico’s is an old-time smuggler who has been doing this a long time. Longer than me anyway. The knowledge and “wisdom” he brings is invaluable. I may be an old dog, but I can still learn new tricks and Nico has a bunch up his sleeve. What do you say old-timer, are you in?

Mako
You don’t get anywhere in this galaxy without being able to slice into computer systems, and there isn’t a system that this pretty little lady couldn’t crack.

She has ties to Nar Shadaa and the underworld. She’s worked closely with the Sith Empire. While they may no longer be a threat, her knowledge of their systems and inner workings is invaluable.

Mako is used to working with Bounty Hunters and helping them track down their prey. Smuggling isn’t that much different. We don’t hunt down people, we hunt down things, and things don’t shoot back. Well, most of the time anyway. Welcome to crew Mako!

Tano Vik
Slicing your way into places is nice, but for some jobs you don’t have the luxury of doing things real quiet-like. I like having a demolitions expert on hand for those times when the only way to get to the inside is to destroy the outside.

Explosives are dangerous and blowing things up is an art. You don’t want just any ordinance handler, you want someone for whom this is their passion.

You want the kind of person that sleeps with their toys and names them and talks to them. Each bomb, missile, and mine is an incendiary child that you’re raising for a singular, important purpose. They don’t have a job, they have a destiny.

No one is better at this than Tano Vik. Another product of Nar Shadaa, Vik served as a member of the Republic’s famed Havoc Squad. Now that the Republic military has suffered its ultimate defeat, I imagine Vik might be looking for work.

If you’re interested, I’m hiring. Just one rule, no smoking while on the job.

Akaavi Spaar
If you travel from one end of the galaxy to the other you’re bound to run into the Mandalorians. These run-ins tend to get violent and bloody. I’m no stranger to any of that, but sometimes you just want a nice easy charter. Know what I mean?

Akaavi is a tough warrior and she’s a Mandalorian. She understands their ways and customs.

When we encounter Mando’s we send in Akaavi and keep our blasters crossed that it won’t get violent. Of course, it always does so I have a plan B.

Bowdaar
Everyone? Meet plan B. Every good smuggler needs muscle. Blasters are great, but having a good Wookiee at your side is better.

I try to avoid violence whenever I can, but there are times when my charm and good looks just aren’t able to get the job done. If it looks like I’m going to get my handsome face kicked-in, I send in the “Killer from Kashyyyk.”

Bowdaar is tough, loyal, and furry. Seriously, he sheds a lot and is always clogging up the refresher. I don’t even want to talk about what he smells like after standing in the rain.

Still, he’s got it where it counts and is the reason why I still have teeth.

Gault Renow
I know I’m asking for trouble here, but this is a brave new world and I need people that can think outside of the box.

His pro is that he’s a con. A very good con. He’s a master at separating people from their valuables, and we’re going to need all we can get.

He’s got vast connections, but he’s also one of the most hated men in the galaxy. He may be through with his past, but his past may not be through with him. He’s a risk, a huge risk.

He’s entertaining though, and life will not be dull with him around. Of course, that won’t matter if we can’t stay alive because of him. I’m going to regret him aren’t I?

Risha
Ah, Risha. Dear, dear Risha. She’s a carbon copy of me only prettier, wealthier and smarter. We were quite the team back in the day, and I hope we can be again. I wouldn’t be surprised if she chose to leave and branch out on her own. She really is the brains of the operation, and she’s good at fixing the ship.

Let’s just hope she can’t bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of her site. It really is my only hope.

That’s my new crew. It’s a dangerous galaxy of opportunity and my pockets are almost empty. Risha? Prep the hyperdrive and let’s hit it.

Oh, and to the Eternal Empire, stay out of my way. I may be smuggler, but I might have a teensy bit of hero left in me.

The Fates of Our Heroes

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It’s been four days since the big announcement and trailer release and I’m still giddy with excitement over Knights of the Fallen Empire.

In an interview with Polygon and in a post on the forums, we learned a little bit about our fates, as well as the fates of our companions, going into Knights of the Fallen Empire.

I will leave it spoiler free for now.

All of it has inspired me to delve into what might have happened to each of the eight heroes after the great war. With the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire defeated and in shambles, the repercussions for each hero type varies greatly.

A trooper without a military. A Dark Council member without an Empire to rule. A smuggler in a post-war torn galaxy where supplies are in great need. A bounty hunter in a target rich environment of the galaxy’s most-wanted wartime traitors. A Knight at odds with the Jedi Order.

The possibilities are endless, and in the coming days I will explore the possible fates of each of these heroes. The first article, KOTFE: The Fate of the Smuggler will be released tomorrow.

See you then and thanks for reading.

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