The Vanguard Experiment: Secondary Results

Monday seems to be Vanguard day on Galactic Antics now. Yay, I guess?

For the past two weeks I've been documenting my progress with new-Vanguard Jehnira in a plan to see whether I could actually have a Trooper I considered "fun to play" since I realised how tedious I was finding Commando.

If you haven't read the previous entry, the current feeling is that this 'experiment' has been successful; I was finding Plasmatech much more fun than Gunnery, and doing the Trooper storyline and all Republic Quests again has allowed me to indulge in a game-long desire to see a Companion get from 0-to-max Affection/Influence solely through quests.

So, a week later, has my feeling changed or are things still on the up?


The Vanguard Experiment: Preliminary Results

Last week I wrote about how, having realised how tedious I was finding Commando, I decided to give the Vanguard Class another go with new-character Jehnira. Just to emphasise again, she is approximately the seventh Vanguard to have been created; the previous six had all failed to 'stick' at some point in their careers.

There are a few potential reasons for this. Either I didn't think there was a need to dedicate much time to a Vanguard due to the Commando's existence, or I just didn't like the playstyle as I had perceived it as being. The story being very memorable to me due to it being my first SWtOR story endeavour might also have had a part in it; certainly beyond the very first only one had reached Tatooine whilst the rest had stopped at Nar Shaddaa or earlier.

However, because I was unsure about the future of my Commando, this first potential issue had all but disappeared. This largely only left the playstyle and story issues, both of which are joined hand-in-hand in some ways; if I enjoy the playstyle of a character I tend to take them through as much of the content as I can instead of just skipping to the end and being done with it.

So, how have things been turning out?

Long-story short: so much better than I was anticipating.


300 #3

So yesterday I finally got my Sage up to Command Rank 300. She's been in the high 290s for almost two weeks now, and yesterday I earned and used enough Flashpoint CXP Tokens that completing a very long-overdue Social Points mission took her over the edge.

Because I know some people will find this delay rather odd, I am very much aware of the Daily Zone bug, which would definitely have enabled me to hit 300 far sooner had I indulged in doing them. Despite the fact that Daily Zones are my own choice manner of solo-grinding CXP, I'm staying away from them while this bug is in-effect as a matter of principle. Whilst I'm pleased that people are finally realising how good they can be for CXP I absolutely despise that, rather than under the Zones' own merit, it takes a bug for this to occur. Sigh.

But then, such is the way of life in an MMO, I suppose. Hopefully, it'll get fixed properly next week as they intend. My hope is that people still keep doing the zones even without this nuisance bug, but I sadly have my doubts. Regardless, I'll be launching back into them with gusto when they're back to the way they used to be.

Still, if increased exposure gets Section X's Alignment Bug fixed then that's okay. That's the only thing which really needs fixing of the 'standard' Daily set, although I'd love for them to increase the CXP given by the Weekly for Makeb and particularly GSI to the same standard as the other Daily Zones. Currently they're both only giving the base amount of 75 which all other Daily and Heroic Missions are giving rather than 750. That's approximately nine whole missions' worth of CXP right there lost in both places thanks to this annoying oversight.

So anyway.

Now that my Sage is 300, this leaves me wondering where I'm going to go next. Unlike my Gunslinger and my Guardian, Sage Vhiallia is going absolutely nowhere beyond this point. As fun as my choice spec of Balance is, I don't think it's a particularly viable spec for anything 'serious' at the moment due to how it works (e.g. timings of DPS-crucial abilities such as Force in Balance make it very hard to be consistent on certain fights). Meanwhile, Telekinetics falls too much on the 'tedious' side for me. I'm sure it's a decent-enough spec, I just don't find it very enjoyable, which is definitely my main factor in deciding whether or not I like a spec.

So, anyway, the next character. I'm still in the midst of deciding whether or not the Vanguard Experiment was a success (there was supposed to be a post on this today, but then this happened instead so that'll probably go up tomorrow), so I don't particularly want to commit to either of my Troopers at the moment. Meanwhile, over on Empire Side I've got my Sorc, Sniper, and Juggernaut waiting to be levelled to match their Republic counterparts, but of course any focus on these might be wasted if I decide to focus on my Vanguard full-time if I deem her a success. The Merc gets the short end of the stick due to the above factors and also due to my not wanting to focus on a Class whose mirror has been deemed 'unworthy' of carrying on.

Additionally, it is worth noting that unlike on Republic side my Imperial characters will only have the traded-off CXP Packs and Daily Zones to level with, since it is unlikely that they'll ever get involved with Flashpoints or Operations themselves. Basically, they're going to take a while to be levelled no matter what.

So... yeah. A few things to consider. I was always going to come to a crossroads when Vhi hit 300, but now it's even more complicated than I was previously envisaging. Still, it's nice to have another character at 300.


Here We Go Again...

I don't know what it is about Vanguards, but there's always something which makes me want to keep giving this Class a try. I think I've probably created about seven of them by now, before ultimately writing them off for some reason or other. Either I didn't find the playstyle to my liking or I just rationalised the need to dedicate myself to the Class as pointless because, after all, I already have an established Trooper; a Commando.

Yet no matter what, without fail I create at least one new Vanguard during each Expansion, just to see whether the changes - and there have been a fair few across 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and now 5.0 - are enough to get past my previous stigmas. Bonus points for 2.0 having two new Vanguards created and even my original 'true Main' character, the Vanguard Tank Kiratahn, resurrected.

In 5.0 I believe there are a few more specific layers to my most recent diving into the Vanguard experience.

Firstly, the changes to Jedi Guardian - which was already one of my favourite Classes, in fairness - for 5.0 - removing most channels, making it infinitely more mobile - made me absolutely fall in love with it, to the extent that I'd now easily cite Vigilance as my favourite Spec in the entire game.

Secondly, I've come to realise just how tedious I find Commando DPS. Gunnery is boring as hell whilst Assault is just all over the place and is definitely one of the most "acquired taste" specs available. Not that I'm anticipating Plasmatech being any less in 5.0...

So, since 5.0 made Vigilance a lot more fun than it used to be - even if it simultaneously neutered Master Strike Blade Dance Blade Barrage - and I've practically written off my Commando, I am very curious to see whether Vanguard can captivate my interests at long last or whether or not it will be another waste of time.

With Levelling Content being how it is, it's certainly not going to be really that easy to work out what the answer will be, but that's definitely more of a problem with how quickly things die now more than it is due to the Classes who experience the fights. That said, Vanguards are very good at demolishing packs of mobs with their Flak Shell and Ion Wave in particular, so whilst this certainly makes for a fun 'stomping' experience, it definitely doesn't help this "things die too quickly" issue in the slightest.

I'm also not a huge fan of how the Vanguard gets their Leap at Level 59, but hey-ho, it's not the end of the world. With how I do Planets - I may abhor the Levelling process since I tend to learn a Class better when I have most of my skills available but I still absolutely adore the Levelling content - it won't take that long to get 'up there', at which point I can focus on experimenting as properly as I can given the circumstances. This will take even quicker than I was anticipating since a week of Double-XP will be beginning tomorrow.

Good thing certain Heroics take some time to mow through these days.

Anyway, I've spent long enough wittering on about Vanguards and stuff and I haven't even posted a picture of the subject in question yet.

Introducing Jehnira!

Currently I'm in two minds about her. You may recall that in my 5.4 summary post I said that I was thinking of trying Lana's hair model, but it does not adapt well to either of the darker hair colours afforded to humans. I still decided to see what it was like out in the 'real game world' rather than just visible within the Character Creator, and it certainly doesn't look as bad as I was originally perceiving. Still very silver, though.

I honestly don't know for sure, though. I'll keep her with the new Lana-look for the time being and obviously I can revert back if I don't find it entirely to my liking after a few days. Anyone have any opinions on the matter that they'd like to share?

Somewhat interestingly, I believe her name finally brings an end to my apparent aversion of using all letters in a character's name except for the one which my own name starts with. Having scrapped all but one of my DvL characters I am unable to confirm whether or not this is truly the case, but I do seem to recall having used the only other outstanding letter - Q - in one of their names, in which case I've finally used every single letter of the alphabet in my characters' names.

Not that this was something which needed doing. I just found it amusing how after all these years of creating several dozen characters that there were still a handful of letters which I had never thought of using, and now it's hopefully come to a close.

Also, somewhat distractingly, without intending to I seem to have accidentally remade a former friend's Vanguard, just with darker skin (I think), different colour eyes, and potentially a different hairstyle if I decide to stick with Lana's hairstyle. Otherwise it's still different, but only because it lacks the front strands which would normally cover the left eye since it's the same base style. Amusingly, all throughout creating her I kept thinking "I've seen this character design before, I swear it", but was otherwise perfectly content with her look. It was only halfway through Ord Mantell when glancing at the character portrait that the resemblance finally clicked.

Comes to something when you remember what a character looked like from the portrait and not from an in-game cutscene.

So that's awkward. But hey, he's not around anymore to know, so it's nowhere near as awkward as it could have been. Now that I've said this, he'll turn up out-of-the-blue next week sometime. That's usually how these things work, right?

Finally, I am rather pleased to finally be able to translate this particular armour and weapon combination onto a Character of my own. The combination of the Havoc Squad Armour with the Stronghold Defender's Blaster Rifle (coupled with the Strap Tuning) has been a 'staple' look for Aric Jorgans across my Legacy for some time now, with Miorahna's Rusk even having his own variation of this style, so to finally have a Character who can use it themselves feels very satisfying indeed.

It also really helps that when this particular rifle folds up, it becomes far less of a sticking-out-eyesore on a female character's back compared to practically every other rifle out there, where - unlike on male characters - the stock invariably sticks out over crest of the character's head. Definitely one of my biggest pet peeves with female rifle-wielding characters.

Of course, keeping in with the trend, Jehnira's Aric also makes use of this style. I'm nothing if not consistent.


So, yeah. Curious to see how long this particular experiment lasts. I'm not expecting great results, but maybe I'll be surprised. Time shall tell. 


Thoughts on 5.4 [Spoiler-Free]

"That's it, Choza, you're really making them fear your wrath with how far away you're standing!"
So 5.4 finally launched yesterday after two days of delays. The delays were caused by something causing the Flashpoint Crisis on Umbara to malfunction somehow, so obviously it was a necessary fix since CoU was the main focus of this Patch.

So, now that it's here, what is there that's worth seeing/doing?


Third Anniversary Follow-On: Giveaway Results

Last week, as you may recall, I announced in my Third-Anniversary post that I would be holding my first giveaway. It was always going to be something of a shambles, since I only ever had four items which I could put up as potential rewards.

This is largely because I have absolutely no idea what's popular among the community, and oftentimes whenever something is popular I find myself completely baffled as to why. So as a result, even though I probably should have bought something specially for this occasion, I was absolutely petrified that I would have made the wrong decision(s) and have completely wasted that purchase due to nobody having an interest in said item(s). 

Still, I was moderately happy with the four items I had managed to discover through RNG, with the E-95 Dread Behemoth Tank being the item which I thought would be the most difficult to shift due to its annoyingly-coincidental low price on the GTN. The Unstable Peacemaker's Dualsaber - despite being one of the nicest saber models in my opinion - was also a big risk because only 1/8ths of the Classes could have used it.

Somewhat disappointingly (but not that surprising, considering how "half-assed" even I called it), the giveaway didn't receive that much attention at all. After all, a competition which only offers four items - only 50% of which are generally desirable or appealing - isn't particularly captivating. 

Indeed, only two people entered, and I find it very appropriate that both individuals have made the most comments on the blog between them across its three years. Since they also selected their own specific items, that made designating the prizes far easier than I was anticipating, and of course it means that I don't get to disappoint anyone, so bonus points all round! 

Thus, the Krayt Dragon Skeleton goes to Shintar, and Zayne Carrick's Armour Set goes to Ravanel! Congrats to you both, and be sure to check your Mailboxes today for your prizes. 

Whilst I am slightly disheartened that the giveaway didn't get much love, I will once again reinforce my pledge to be determined to do better next time. Afterthoughts never go down well, even if they're apparently well-intentioned. 

As for the Unstable Peacemaker's Dualsaber and the E-95 Behemoth? I honestly don't know. I'll probably try and keep certainly the Dualsaber on until the next giveaway since I personally have no need for it, and the Behemoth will just... I dunno... continue to exist? Whilst it's a decent item I don't think it has enough staying power to be worth keeping specifically for a second giveaway attempt.

Once again, congrats to both Shin and Rav, and thank you once again to everyone who has stuck with the Blog for the past three years. 


[Potential Spoilers] Community Reactions: Saying too much by saying little

Being a part of a community can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse.

It enables you to find a whole host of like-minded people with whom you can debate your views or beliefs, and the disagreements - whilst sometimes unpleasant - can still lead to interesting results. The support networks can also be absolutely incredible.

However, something sometimes happens which people can't keep quiet about. This more often than not leads to a commendable response to keep things quiet, but sometimes these best-intentions backfire if the responses are handled in a certain manner.

One such instance of this is the response to apparent leaks regarding a Story development in SWtOR. I myself have no idea what this is; I don't enjoy looking these things up.

However, the response to the leaks has led to me getting some idea of what's up.

Whatever the leak is, it's big. It's led to people forming private groups in which to discuss the news and even encouraging encrypting messages. Elsewhere, the reaction from people in the know has been summarised as the equivalent of "No More Ops" but for Story Players. Bonus points to this last one for the person who responded that they were "effectively done with SWtOR" because of the truth.

I'm something of a puzzle-solver, as it's something which I've picked up due to my family also having an interest in it. I'm definitely not the best, but it has led to an annoyingly-incessant curiosity all the same. So when I see all this hullabaloo, rather than ignoring it as I should, I can't help but get to the bottom of it.

Fair warning: As the title implies, whilst as I say I have absolutely no idea what the correct answer is, I would advise staying away from this post if you have any fear whatsoever about spoilers, since as usual I will be posting an over-long hypothesis and coming to my own answer(s).