A Look Back at 2014

I had a fun time in DDO over the last year.  DDOCast Episdoe 364 took a look back all of the releases and updates for DDO during 2014 and that inspired me to take a closer look at what I had accomplished within the game.  For awhile, I have been keeping track of a number of statistics of my gaming and I figured it might be fun to summarize them.

Taking a look at the number of quests I ran across all of my characters from January until today (December 30, 2014), I ran a total of 1,472 quests.  This includes slayer runs in adventure areas and also includes attempts where I failed.  When I broke the number of quests down by month, I ran the most quests in October (187) and the least in July (71).  This corresponds pretty well with the fact that I was on vacation in the middle of July for nearly two weeks.  A plot by month shows that the majority of questing occurred in the Fall and early Winter.  It looks like I averaged just over 4 quests per day for the year.  The highest number of quests I got through in a single day was 17, which was due to running Erdrique through a number of the Korthos quests after a heroic true reincarnation.

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Total number of quests by month I ran during 2014.

Taking a closer look at the total amount of experience I gained during those quests from 2014, I earned 11,569,871 experience.  I averaged about 7,800 experience per quest run.  Looking at the same trend as I did above for the number of quests, the largest amount of experience I earned was during the month of August where I earned over 1,300,000 experience, which was probably because I did more higher level questing during that month.  My least productive month was July, again not too surprising.

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Total amount of experience I earned per month.

Taking a look at number of quests I ran by character, it isn’t any real surprise to see that my questing was dominated by runs with Erdrique and then followed up by Hamllin.  Here are the number of quests I ran by character during 2014.

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Total number of quests I ran by character in 2014.

Taking a broader look back at 2014, I moved Erdrique through a druid life and mostly through a monk life.  I also progressed Hamllin up to level 14 in his second life as a fighter and then I created two new characters, Berann and Cannock, as well.  I haven’t started any epic or iconic reincarnations as of yet.  My highest level characters are Wapoyei and Rimuldar who are both level 23 and they are chugging along :).

Overall, it was a pretty good year.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting and happy New Year!!

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A Look at The Tomb of the Shadow King

The series of quests in the Necropolis II Pack are quite interesting and can be quite annoying.  These quests include Tomb of the Shadow Guard, Tomb of the Shadow Lord, Tomb of the Shadow Knight, Tomb of the Shadow King, and The Shadow Crypt.  The previous four quests are needed to flag and unlock the last quest, The Shadow Crypt.  The four flagging quests are all level 8 on normal with the Shadow Crypt being level 9 on normal.  All of these quests are known for having a large amount of incorporeal enemies (wraiths, specters, shadows, umbral gargoyles, umbral worgs), the addition of phase spiders, some irritating and complicated tomb layouts, and mummy bosses.  Each one of these quests has some annoying but interesting mechanic that makes it stand out from the rest.  The quest I want to focus on this time is the Tomb of the Shadow King.

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Erdrique making his way through the tunnels of the tomb of the Shadow King.

Awhile back, I wrote up an article about the horrors of this quest when it first released.  The Tomb of the Shadow King is bestowed by Samir Sirka who is located close to the farshifter in the lower Necropolis staging area.  Like all of the other Shadow quests, the Shadow King is filled with wraiths   (shrouded terrors, shrouded terror mages), specters (drifting scourge, drifting scourge mages), phase spiders, shadows, umbral gargoyles, umbral worgs, and invisible stalkers.  Like the other Shadow quests, having a plethora of lesser restoration potions, ghost touch weapons, and deathward/deathblock items are extremely beneficial to have.  There are also a few optional rare encounters as well.

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Erdrique making his way through the Tomb of the Shadow King.

To complete the Shadow King, you need to destroy the mummy guarding, Nsu.  However, Nsu will only awaken once all of the torches that are littered throughout the tomb are extinguished as well as the two light guardians are killed.  One of the light guardians is Waine Brousch, a wraith, while the other is a specter named Rudi Sparn.  To extinguish a flame you simply need to click on it.  All told there are 16 torches spread throughout the tomb that need to be extinguished.  When you first enter the quest and speak to the Shadow King, you will feather fall to the bottom level and make your way through the tomb.  This is where the tomb of Nsu is located.  As soon as you reach the bottom you are attached by two invisible stalkers.  One thing to remember here, don’t forget to extinguish the first torch which isn’t far from Nsu’s coffin.  I have done this more times than I like to admit…argh.  Once you take out the invisible stalkers and extinguish the first torch the real fun begins.

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A common issue you deal with in all of the Shadow quests is stat damage.

This quest is known for two things, at least too me.  One the annoying concentric map and two the constant respawns.  You can’t diddle dwaddle through this quest.  If you do, you will be overwhelmed by respawns.  The map is essentially a square that is divided by concentric circles.  You need to make your way around the outer circle first and extinguish all of the torches located here.  You then move into the inner the circle and extinguish those torches.  One you make your way through the inner circle, you will then move your way through the breakable doors that will lead to either the north or south of the map.  The breakable doors that take you to the north and south will also lead you to the center of the tomb where you will encounter a small room with two rest and resurrection shrines.  This room also contains two levers that open the doors to the east and the west.

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In the center of the tomb, small room with two shrines and levers.

At this point you should have 6 torches left to extinguish.  Three of these will be located at the northern end of the map, as well as one of the light guardians, and the other three will be located at the southern end of the map, as well as the second light guardian.  When you get to the northern or southern rooms you will encounter a fight with a single torch to extinguish.  You will also notice that there are some banners hanging on the walls in these rooms.  These banners are important because they are indicating entrance to hidden doors that lead to the rest of the torches.  You basically run through the walls covered by these banners and make your way to next torch.  Once you extinguish these torches you need to make your way back to the mummy.

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One of the banners indicating a hidden door/wall that leads to more torches.

As I mentioned earlier, you want to move to slowly through this quest.  You want to maintain a steady pace through here and drag the enemies to each torch.  One thing about the torches is that they actually provide you assistance when you fight the enemies.  They will essentially act as a curse to all of the undead mobs creating a debuff on them.  You should continue to fight your way to each torch, being careful to not raise your dungeon alert and to be especially careful with the advent of monster champions when working on hard or elite.  Having a caster with firewall is very beneficial in here because of this.  Also be aware of annoying traps in the outer circle, usually they are dart traps of some kind.

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Taking on one of the light guardians.

After you extinguish all of the torches you need to make your way back to the beginning of the tomb, which is all way back to the west.  Now, the initial idea for this quest is for the part to drag Nsu all the way to the east, leaving members of the party in the shrine room to open up the doors as you near the center to pass through it, where Nsu will be susceptible to a special light that the party can activate to make him easier to slay.  In actuality though, you can take out Nsu as soon as he comes out of his coffin, and you don’t have to worry about dragging him all the way across the dungeon and picking up respawns and other enemies.  However, after you kill him, you do need to make your way back to the east if you want to get the chests his death awards you with.

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Erdrique taking on Nsu at his crypt.

Overall, the Shadow King can be extremely tough if you don’t prepare for it.  The constant stat drains from the incorporeal undead enemies can be extremely annoying and the respawns just aren’t that much fun to deal with.  However, if you learn and understand the spawn rate you should be able to move through the quest fairly easily.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Two Days of Questing over the Weekend, December 26th to 28th

This past weekend was a very strong weekend of questing for me, at least in terms of knocking out high experience awarding quests.  I was traveling during Friday, December 26th from North Carolina to Florida and didn’t get any play time :(.  So my questing activities didn’t start until Saturday.

I devoted the entire weekend to questing with Erdrique (Level 12 Monk) to take advantage of the 10% experience bonus and the additional 10% experience VIP bonus.  To start out the questing I took Erdrique out into Sorrowdusk Isle and completed the rest of the slayers and rares out in that zone.  After I completed that zone, I then moved off to finish up the Ruins of Threnal.  I then took on and completed the quests of the Abandoned Excavation (The Missing Expedition, Entering the Gate Chamber, The Gate Chamber) and then I completed the Threnal Arena and the Giant Caves (The Giants Lieutenants, The Giants’ Lair, The Giants’ Supplies).  After completing all of Threnal I then moved off and head on to The Pit.  However, before I did that I leveled up from 11 to 12.  I then blasted through Pit and still earned well over 36,000 experience for the run :).  Once I completed the Pit, I then headed off to the Tomb of the Shadow Guard and completed it on elite.  After the run through the Tomb of the Shadow Guard, I called it a night.

Erd taking on the enemies of Sorrowdusk Isle photo ErdtakingontheenemiesofSorrowduskIsle_zps48f3c24f.jpg
Erdrique working on completing the Sorrowdusk Explorer area.

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Working to locate the missing expedition.

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Erdrique stunning a beholder in Entering the Gate Chamber.

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Erdrique stunning a hill giant hunter in the Gate Chamber.

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Erdrique approaching the arena of Threnal.

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Working through the Giants’ Lair.

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Erdrique doing what he can to destroy the Giants’ supplies.

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Erdrique looking to take out the giant lieutenants.

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Erdrique gazing down the shaft of the Pit.

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Erdrique fighting phase spiders in the Tomb of the Shadow Guard.

On Sunday, I continued through the Shadow Tomb series of quests.  Before I did that however, I went to the Cannith Crafting Hall and decided to create some ghost touch of pure good handwraps because I was having a number of annoying issues in the Tomb of the Shadow Guard from incorporeality misses.  After I created the new handwraps, I head pack out to the Necropolis and hit up the Tomb of the Shadow King and Tomb of the Shadow Knight.  Once I completed these two quests, I was then able to gain access to The Shadow Crypt and I worked my way through that shifting maze to gain gears to finally take on Nerezza.  The Shadow Crypt netted me over 50,000 experience :).

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Fighting and more fighting in the Tomb of the Shadow King.

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Jading a shrouded terror mage in the Tomb of the Shadow Knight.

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Fighting Dontre Lebram in the Shadow Crypt.

At that point, I called it a night.  So even though I missed a day of questing because of traveling issues, I still wracked up quite a bit of experience over the weekend.  I still plan on focusing on Erdrique during the week as well to continue to take advantage of the experience bonus that is currently active and to take advantage of my time off of work before things head back to normal.  Thank you for reading and happy hunting!!

A Beautiful Sight in the High Road

Earlier in the week I took Wapoyei (Level 23 Cleric/Exalted Angel) out into the High Road I got a beautiful shot of the morning and I just wanted to show it off :).

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Wapoyei enjoying the scene in The High Road.

I really don’t consider myself to be the best at capturing screenshots but I thought that this one was a pretty good pic.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting out there!!

A Milestone?

I don’t really consider myself to be a hard core elite player, especially when it comes to epic questing but I couldn’t help but recognize earlier this weekend that I hit a milestone…I think…with my main character Erdrique (Level 11 Monk).  He just hit his 500th quest for his elite streak.

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I just noticed that Erdrique has 500 quests under his belt for his elite streak.

I wound up hitting this mark when I was completing the quests out in the Ruins of Threnal and noticed it when I was getting ready to head into the quest, Tomb of the Shadow Guard, which I have posted as a screenshot above.  I then began to wonder if this is really a milestone or not.  I can see how this could be a source of pride for many players, continuing their elite streaks well into the thousands but in reality it isn’t anything more than just a pride thing.  You don’t really get anything more out of an elite streak once you past your fifth quest.  The amount of bonus experience you get doesn’t increase so maintaining an elite streak for just experience bonus is pretty moot.

However, with that said, there are a few reasons that I maintain an elite streak.  Well, in actuality, it isn’t really in an effort to maintain the streak per say but to continue to work through quests on elite, at least on heroic.  By running quests on elite, I can gather up my favor much more efficiently allowing me to earn the favor rewards more quickly and by allowing me to earn the bonus Turbine Points from each 100 point increment in favor.  So that is really why I continue to run quests on elite, besides earning the experience.

I’m sure once I get Erdrique through his past lives that I want to earn, that I will break his streak when he is working on his epic levels.  I might try to continue a hard streak at that point, I guess time will tell on his abilities and gear and how comfortable I am in playing him  But in either case, I just wondered to myself how much of a milestone hitting 500 quests in an elite streak really is.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Getting Some Questing Done Over the Holidays, Quest Runs December 22 to December 25

Well, as you can imagine, this is another week of some unusual questing activities for me, primarily because of my holiday schedule.  With that said, my questing began as it usually does for the week with some slayer runs with Suppply (Level 9 Paladin) through the Three Barrel Cove Wilderness area priory to heading out to work.  That afternoon I took Hamllin (Level 14 Fighter) out into the Sands of Menechtarun and completed the quest The Chamber of Kourush with another pugger helping me out.  Later that night, I logged on with Rimuldar (Level 23 Wizard/Magister) and I took him into Servants of Overlord on epic normal.  I had expected on having some difficulties in here.  However, with my onyx panther, my two owlbears, an exalted angel hireling, and his living meteor storm I didn’t have as many difficulties as I had expected.  Even being distracted with from my Monday night digital PNP group I still wound up having little difficulty.  After that I called it a night.

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Suppply taking in the scene in Three Barrel Cove.

Hammy taking note of the Burning City in the distance photo HammytakingnoteoftheBurningCityinthedistance_zps43cbcaab.jpg
Hammy making his way through the Sands of Menechtarun.

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Hamllin taking on the Tomb of the Astrologer.

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Rimuldar making his way through the Servants of the Overlord.

Tuesday also started off normally.  I was scheduled to take Wapoyei (Level 23 Cleric/Exalted Angel) out into the High Road.  After collecting a few slayers I logged out and didn’t log back in until after I got back from work with Erdrique (Level 11 Monk) and took him out into Stromvauld’s Mine on elite.  I had a fun time battling the various drow forces in the mine and didn’t run into any problems locating the miners or the gems during this particular run.  That night, I logged on with Containment (Level 6 Cleric) and was joined by Izetea and we battled our way through the Waterworks Story arc on elite to rescue Arlos and to discover Venn’s Fate: Waterworks Slayers, The Kobold’s Den: Clan Gnashtooth, The Kobold’s Den: Rescuring Arlos, Venn’s Trail: Clan Tunnelworm, Venn’s Trail: Venn’s Fate.  I was able to gather enough experience to move Containment from level 5 to level 6 and was lucky to realize it before I lost experience.  I called it a night after this run.

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Wapoyei trying to enjoy the tranquility of the High Road.

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Erdrique fighting a drow barbarian shaman in Stromvauld’s Mine.

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Containment and Izetea exploring Clan Gnashtooth’s lair.

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Containment and Izetea looking for Arlos.

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Exploring the lair of Clan Tunnelworm.

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Containment locating Venn’s Corpse.

On Wednesday, Christmas Eve, I logged on early in the day since I had the day off at work.  I took Erdrique into Sorrowdusk Isle and continued my slayer and rare encounters out there.  I then headed out to Threnal and completed the last quest in the Western Threnal series: Secure the Area and all of Eastern Threnal (The Library of Threnal, Escort the Expedition, and Hold for Reinforcements).  I was quite surprised with Hold for Reinforcements.  I ran into a number of difficulties in this quest, which surprised me.  I was expecting on having a fairly easy time in here because of the changes made to Coyle.  However, I was handily defeated as the spawn rate of the enemies seemed to be too much for my character to handle.  They just seemed to spawn more quickly then the last time I was in here.  However, I just think I was really under prepared.  The second attempt I made went much smoother and by downing some haste potions I was able to complete the quest with little difficulty.  I just think the combination of monster champions, my lack of proper preparation, and my assumption of it being easy led to my first demise.  Lesson learned!! :).

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Erdrique dealing death in Sorrowdusk Isle.

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Erdrique battling the ice flenser, Zelnath in Secure the Area.

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Erdrique fighting Basthuul in The Library of Threnal.

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Erdrique working on taking Coyle and his group to the Library.

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Erdrique preparing to deal with Basthuul once again in Holding for Reinforcements.

I didn’t log in at all on Christmas Day, instead spending the day and night with my family.  So those were my runs over the week.  Pretty solid runs and I look forward to continuing those runs over the weekend and into the following week and taking advantage of the experience bonus :).  I hope everybody else had a strong week’s of questing as well.  Thanks for reading and happy hunting everybody!!

The Joys of Holding Levels

A common thing for me to do these days is to “hold a level.”  This isn’t an uncommon thing to do, especially for players who are taking their characters through Heroic True Reincarnations.  The idea to “hold a level” (probably better known as “banking a level”) is to allow your character to continue to gain maximum experience from quests that they would have typically “leveled” out of.  This basically helps you to maximize the amount of experience you can gain as you progress forward.  In many cases, it helps to extend bravery streaks.

So for example let’s say I took a character who is currently level 6 and I just received enough experience to move onto level 7.  Instead of heading straight to the trainer I hold off and continue questing.  This will still allow me to do any level 4 quests on elite (making them level 6) and allowing me to continue a bravery bonus streak for those that I still haven’t completed.  You can continue this method of questing and earning experience until you are one experience point away from hitting level 8.  At that point, any experience you gain is actually lost as the game won’t credit you anymore until you level (there are some rare occasions to this such as earning experience from a monster manual award or from experience gems from daily dice).  So this is where the trick comes in, remembering to level at this point and not losing experience and not leveling too early as to lower your efficiency at gaining experience.  It never fails that at some point I will forget about this transition with my characters.

This happened to me recently with one of my premium account characters, Containment (Level 6 Cleric).  Now Containment is not a reincarnated character and I don’t really need to worry about holding levels and maximizing experience, especially since it is hard for him to start a streak since I can’t open quests directly on elite.  However, I like to be consistent with my leveling to make things easier when I play my characters so I just “bank” levels on all of my characters.  At the time I was level 5 and I was at rank 30 (as the screenshot below shows) and I was running Waterworks with another guildie.  Now at this point, Containment had enough experience to level up to 6 and was rapidly approaching the one point until level 7 threshold of no more experience gain.  Of course, I wasn’t paying much attention to this and we continued on our questing.

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Containment rapidly approaching his experience threshold in Waterworks.

We finished the quest Rescuing Arlos on elite where I earned nearly 6,000 experience points.  Now if you look at the above screenshot you will see I needed less than 6,000 experience points to hit that one point before level 7 threshold.  How can you tell this?  Well if you notice that although I’m level 5, the experience bar also shows that I’m at rank 30.  Rank 30 is actually the last rank of level 6, which means that starting at rank 31 I have hit Level 7.  Luckily, for me, I needed to recall as well as my guildie, to dump and sell off our inventory and it was at this point that I realized I hit that cap threshold.

Luckily for me I didn’t miss/lose much experience.  To be honest it was timed pretty well because if I had leveled earlier before we took on Rescuing Arlos I wouldn’t have gained as much experience upon its completion.  However, the trick here was noticing that I was ready to level, making this the key to the “joys of holding levels.”  I typically find myself completing a quest to realize that I only gained half of the experience from the quest because I hit the cap.  When holding levels also keep tabs on your experience points and action points to stay on top of this cap!!  I like to think I stay on top of this, but I hate to admit that I tend to miss this mark more than I would like :P.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!  And remember to keep on eye on that experience as you continue to hold off levels but continue to quest!!