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Apocolypse Genesis: Telon

In This Entry: Vanguard Combat Notes, Vanguard Tanvu Exploration, Vanguard Travel Abroad.

Yesterday's patch brought a slight tweak to the way Disciples function in that only critical hits light up the powerful finishing move. This naturally reduced Makkor's power a bit. I nonetheless appreciated that, as a player, I had to pay attention enough to know when I could use that attack.

If the other classes play half as interactively as my Disciples, Vanguard's combat is a step up from the other offerings on the market. Unfortunately, it needs a bit more refinement. Compared to World of Warcraft, Vanguard plays awkwardly and feels less sophisticated even though the actual game mechanic is better.

That refinement will be mostly post-release, it seems: It's the beginning of the end for Telon Prehistory, with Vanguard's beta drawing to a close January 23rd, a scant few days away.

To these ends, I decided I'd do a bit of exploring with Makkor. I completed work in some self-crafted handwraps that were considerably more powerful than my martial stuff to prepare myself for the coming adventure. I started with exploring the area further east of Tanvu, and eventually explored sea travel a bit.

The eastern Tanvu exploration wasn't done at my own pace, as I soon encountered a Ranger who was looking for assistance with a quest. Collecting this quest involved visiting a small monetary that was barren except for a dragon style Monk trainer. (Being a Disciple, of course, that trainer had nothing for me but I mention it for identification purposes.) Apparently there was an orc pirate infestation on a small island near the monetary, and this was where I was needed for assistance.

A Disciple and Monk joined our party and the quests were quickly completed under our four-strong efforts. The encounters on that island we encountered were of two (soloable) and three-dot (group only) orcs of about the 12th level. I, an 11th level Disciple (about one or two levels under the rest of the group) was the only one that perished during the proceedings. Fortunately, I had prepared for this by endowing my group members with a summoned magical item that could resurrect me. (An idea lifted from EQ2 and possibly WoW.) Having warmed up, I didn't die again after that. Despite not having much practice healing a group against foes this formidable, I was able to do keep the rest of them alive (albeit with a few close calls). This was thanks to the Disciples' powerful combination of spell cast heals (which take a little time to wind up), instant Jin-using heals, and my SeCrEt combination attack heal. Despite the game having been rebalanced to be considerably more soloable, there's an incredible amount of power to be found in grouping in Vanguard. If there were a defensive fighter in the group it's likely our group would have lost all instability, becoming an unbeatable machine capable of handling much stronger foes than these orcs.

Another time perhaps: Having achieved our quest quotas, the group abruptly broke up, not unlike what I've seen done in any casual-player friendly game. It seems that pickup groups that were destined to last several hours have gone extinct. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Besides, I had learned from my group members that the horse merchant I've been wanting to find was just a short boat trip from Tanvu.

Thus began a very long trek. I soon found the dock in Tanvu and sat down to wait. Really, the wait was optional, as there was a "rift master" NPC willing to teleport me instantly, but I decided I'd appreciate the novelty of the boat more. (I suspect those Rift Masters will be removed some time after release.)

The boat from Tanvu lead to a giant elf city on the south side of the same large land mass I started. Giant is indeed a good word to describe the city, as I witnessed many intricately shaped tree buildings as well as merchants on the ground. I saw quite a few NPCs standing around, and most of them I spoke to had some Diplomacy options that were about 230 points higher than my 20-point diplomacy skill was capable of handling. Clearly, this was an area expected to be frequented by mid-level characters, say 25ish.

I found my horse merchant idling at ground level next to one of the object of his trade, a horse. I had heard from another player that horses cost 50 copper, but that certainly wasn't the case here. The cheapest mount was 12 silver 50 copper. A lot cheaper than other games' mounts, sure, but I was about 4-5 silver short. I may not be able to ride a horse before the end of the beta.

Nearly at the opposite side of the side from where I entered, I then found another boat. It was a huge galleon, with a fully functioning captain's quarters that I could walk into. As the boat's design suggested it would, this one lead to a different continent European-styled continent. On the way, the boat traveled through a giant teleportation portal, suggesting much greater distances were involved: a nice touch.

I arrived at a dock quite some distance away from the bustling European metropolis on the rocky outcrops above, but there was a convenient rift master here to give me a teleport into the middle of the city. This proved to be the doom of Makkor's travels for the day. Soon after materializing in this second giant city, my Vanguard client crashed. I suspect it was simply overwhelmed by the sheer amount of model data I had it move through today.

In any case, I think I've satisfied my traveling itch. Telon is indeed a giant world, complete with with two continents more than any one character will ever need. Next time I log into Vanguard I'll see about getting back to Tanvu and earning enough money for a Horse before the end of beta. Adventuring, Diplomacy, and Tradeskills (via work orders) are all viable means for me to make some money. Maybe I'll go straight Diplomacy, as I think I may have heard of a free horse given to diplomats at some level.

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