Party hearty!

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“Just once, I’d like to see a full guild party of six.”

– Shin, referring to our little MyDDO Cannith guild

Most Friday nights find me on Cannith server, where Shin has made a guild for we good folk of MyDDO. Usually it’s just Shin, Comic and me; we usually start running stuff around 10 pm EST (give or take), which is not a good time for Mizz (who’s also a member) and apparently not for Geoff either although I really think he needs to get his lazy butt on there and run with us some Friday night. I dragged B on there a month or so ago and he’s been showing up when he’s able. Dea joined about the same time.

This past Friday night was shaping up to be another short-manned one. I was the first one on. Comic followed a bit later and we were about to head into the Forgotten Caverns for some House K favor when someone sent me a tell, which was really weird because the only person online from my friends list was Comic. But there it was:

Stranger: *pokitypokepokepokity*

I didn’t recognize the name at all, but I had a sneaking suspicion. So I said to Comic, “Hold up, don’t go in yet, either a friend is about to join us or I’m being poked inappropriately by a total stranger.”

Turns out weeks of cajoling had finally paid off. Lrd had at last dragged himself over from Thelanis to join our little group! We rawked through Forgotten Caverns on elite (OK, maybe we didn’t quite rawk it, but we got through it despite being two lvl 6 toons and a lvl 4 in a lvl 8 quest) and then Chamber of Insanity. Shin logged in and the four of us had a great time in the House D Depths chain.

Sometime during all this, Shin made the above comment about wanting to have six guildies on at once. It wasn’t long after his remark that Dea signed on. And then, just as we were pondering what to do, B showed up – and we were six!

Left to right above: Dea, Shin, Rawr, Tirae (me), Comic, B and Lord!

Even’s Guide to PUGging, Part II: Acid Witless

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It would be nice to focus this series on all the GOOD things that can happen in pick-up groups (PUGs). Unfortunately, sometimes a PUG comes along that’s so COMPLETELY awful, you just have to share it.

Take Victaurya’s recent trip through Acid Wit on elite. I’d been on with Acanthia and a couple of Monty’s guildies (MK and LG, both on artificer toons) were looking for some lvl 15-17s to run with. I told them I didn’t have anyone QUITE in that range, but I’d be willing to bring my squishy lvl 14 rogue if they wanted a warm body. They were fine with that and so I logged Vic on.

I was kinda worried that Vic would be a liability, what with being three levels under the quest, squishy and mediocre DPS, plus there are no disarmable traps in AW so there might not be much for her to do. Little did I know when the LFM went up, we somehow managed to get not one, not two, but THREE people who all made hirelings look like geniuses.

The first person who hit the LFM, a lvl 16 sorc, made me cringe just a bit. The only contact I’d ever had with him was when I was standing at the AH one night and he sent me a blind tell asking to “borrow” 500,000 plat. Yeah, THAT’S gonna happen. So I cringed a bit when I saw the name but hoped he played better than he begged. Then we got a ranger. With no healers showing up right away, we decided to leave the LFM up and start the quest with a hireling.

The sorc pretty much ran ahead of us right from the start and burned through ALL of his mana long before we had the first quadrant cleared. Luckily – or so we thought – about that time a FvS sent MK a tell asking if we needed heals, so we dropped the hire and added him. In hindsight, we shoulda kept the hire.

Meanwhile the sorc – when he wasn’t typing in baby talk – kept typing “heal her.” It took us a while to figure out that he was referring to his female character in the third person, because we were all scratching our heads going, “Heal WHO?” But then he started dying. I mean, a LOT. Like, EVERY FREAKING BATTLE. We weren’t even halfway through and the FvS was also out of mana from having to rez the sorc so many times (I stopped counting around his 17th death) and from occasionally stacking about six blade barriers on top of each other. I’m not sure why he asked MK if we needed a healer, because he was doing almost no healing – that fell to LG and I, who both had wands and pots.

Just to make one thing clear – I am not one of these people who’s always bragging about how they always carry their crappy party mates to victory single-handed. If I ever start posting stuff about how all the people I group with are idiots and I’m always the last one standing and I have to go in and rez all 11 of them and kill Harry all by myself and all that crap, SMACK ME HARD. If those people were really half as great as they claim to be, they’d be able to find good players to group with instead of the “idiots” they always claim to get stuck with. But that’s a rant for another time. My point is, Vic is gimped and squishy and I am not in any way implying that she’s a great toon or that I’m a great player.

That said, it’s a damn sorry reflection on a party “healer” when the two people sharing party healing duties in a lvl 15 quest on elite are one of the artis and a gimped, squishy lvl 14 rogue with a couple of Cure Mod and Cure Serious wands. Artis can make fine backup healers. Trapmonkey rogues ARE NOT PARTY HEALERS, not even backups… unless the FvS in your group is worthless.

So we get to the room with all the acid jets and MK reminds everyone to be careful and time their jumps so they don’t take damage. The sorc pays no heed, goes tearing through and dies for about the 20th time, then sits there typing, “rez her,” “rez her,” “rez her.” This was how we finally figured out that he was talking about his toon in the third person…

MK: [sorc], do you mind if I ask why you refer to yourself in the third person?

[sorc]: cos i is [sorc]

[sorc]: das is why

By this time we’ve passed a shrine so the FvS still has enough mana left to rez the sorc. We head back through the acid jets. MK reminds everyone, again, about the whole don’t-run-through-because-you’ll-die thing. The sorc runs through and dies… big surprise. I think it was at this point that MK gave the sorc an ice guard outfit because the guy’s robes were all busted from dying so many times.

The FvS, while not as completely worthless as the sorc, reminded me very strongly of a FvS who was in a five-man Schemes of the Enemy PUG with Acanthia a while back. Same guild, same play style, same typing style. The Schemes guy was also a moron, wouldn’t listen to anything (“Don’t talk to the guards because we don’t want to fight them” – he talked to them and started the fight; “Don’t go down that corridor, there’s a fire trap” – he got burnt up; “Don’t attack the door or you’ll start a fight” – he attacked the door, etc.), died multiple times (rest of the party had no deaths), and when we got into the end fight, already down a man because our fighter DCed, he typed, “afk have to go eat dinner” and promptly got killed. Miraculously, he finished dinner about 30 seconds after we took the boss down and then started whining for a rez. I’d have left his sorry ass to hang, but the cleric – apparently forgetting there was a shrine right outside – actually popped a mana pot so he could rez the guy. But anyway. I was pretty sure that the FvS in Vic’s Acid Wit group was an alt of the guy who was in Acanthia’s Schemes PUG, so…

Me: Hey, [FvS], do you have an alt named [altname]?

Sorc: no

Me: No, not you, [sorc], I was talking to [FvS].

Sorc: so?

Sorc:

Miraculously we make it to the shrine before the final fight with a few zillion deaths attributed to the sorc, half a dozen or so to the FvS (we did a lot of carrying stones to shrines), one or two to MK and LG, and – at that point – none for me or the ranger, who up to that point had maybe zerged a bit but didn’t seem too bad. Then again, compared to the other two, Leeroy Jenkins would have been an asset. (At least he had chicken.) MK tells the group that we missed one passage near the beginning (probably when we were carrying stones to shrines), so we’re going to go back and get that before we go to the end fight. The newly-rezzed sorc and FvS immediately head toward the end fight room. There is much “NO STOP! COME BACK!” in both voice and text chat. The FvS reluctantly heads back to us… trailed by a fair number of trogs. The sorc keeps going, falls all the way to the bottom of the room and promptly suffers his 98,390,485th death (give or take a few).

MK: [sorc], can you hear Vic on voice? Did you hear her say not to go into that room yet?

Sorc: yes but i fell

Gosh, you just fell all the way to the bottom of the room you knew you weren’t supposed to go into? You couldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t gone running in there like an idiot in the first place! My apologies to idiots, don’t mean to insult them by lumping them in with this guy but the only other words I can think of aren’t very family-friendly.

So the sorc is dead at the bottom of the room we weren’t going to go into yet, and the rest of us have a bunch of trogs hitting us hard. By this time Vic is nearly out of pots and her last wand down to less than 10 charges, so I can’t keep her healed myself. Evasion keeps the shamans from doing much damage to her, but the melee trogs are hitting her HARD and it doesn’t take long before she dies. The FvS is once again out of mana (mostly from rezzing the sorc), so we ALL start dying. If we’d been anywhere but next to a shrine, this would have been a big-time wipe. Get killed, rez, gulp a pot or hit myself with a wand so I can take at least one or two hits before I die again, lather, rinse, repeat. The others – aside from our dead sorc, who was still sitting at the bottom of the big room going, “rez her,” “rez her,” “rez her” – were doing pretty much the same thing.

Thanks to the death penalties, Vic’s chance to use the last remaining charges on her last Cure Serious wand was only 10%. I fire off about four failed attempts at MK and then apologize to him, explaining that at the moment I only had a 10% chance to use the wand successfully. The (still dead at the bottom of the room) sorc goes, “ha i has a 28 umd.” I had to bite my tongue REALLY hard to keep from saying either, “Yeah, and I can see how much good it’s doing you,” or, “Well, I still have hit points left.”

It took a while and a fair number of deaths for everybody, but we got the wave of trogs that had followed the FvS up to the shrine beaten down and headed back to the corridor we missed to get the Acidstone elementals we needed to complete the optional. Once that was done, MK suggested that we should take turns releasing to go re-buff, repair and get more wands and pots. MK, LG, the sorc and the FvS went first; the ranger said he didn’t need to go, and we agreed that Vic would go last because she’d likely be quickest, having no blue bar to refill.

So there’s Vic at the shrine with the ranger, waiting on the other four to get back in… when the ranger goes running toward the end room.

Me: What are you doing?

Ranger: we can pull the boss up here to fight, we don’t have to fight him down there

Me: Yes, I know, but don’t pull him NOW, there’s only two of us here!

Ranger: *runs down anyway*

Me: *braces for the worst*

Ranger: *runs back*

High Theurge Trassilyk: *miraculously doesn’t follow*

Me: *exhales*

Ranger: *runs down again*

Me:

Ranger: *runs back*

High Theurge Trassilyk: *miraculously doesn’t follow again*

Me: *uses dragonmark to go invis and hides behind shrine in case he tries it again*

MK got back in and told me to take my turn with the release/repair/rebuff/buy healing stuff rotation, and off I go. I get the repairing and buying done and am on the ship buffing as fast as I can when MK starts frantically typing, “NO! Don’t kill him yet! Wait for the others!”

I’m fuming now. Three complete morons, we’re taking crap from a fourth-life lvl 16 sorc who has fewer hit points than first-life lvl 14 28-point build Vic, we’ve carried their asses through the whole quest and now they’re trying to get the completion while two of us aren’t back in the dungeon yet? This was probably the closest I’ve ever come to rage-quitting a party. That’s no reflection on MK or LG at all. THEY were awesome (and kept apologizing to me for dragging me into it, which was silly since I wanted to go).

Anyway, I set off for the Twelve as fast as I can, with LG right beside me. The whole time, MK is still in party text chat telling the other three to NOT kill the damn boss before LG and I get in. Just before we get to the entrance, the sorc dies. Again. LG and I make it in and run for the end room. The boss goes down just before we get there, with the sorc still in the form of a soul stone.

Still-dead sorc: i did it

… I guess the boss tripped over the sorc’s soul stone and hit his head.

Decisions, decisions…

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If I strain my Swiss cheese memory, I can still recall Victaurya the noob rogue running around Korthos brandishing her ember rapier, wiping out sahuagin and thinking that getting the second half of the Troubleshooter’s Set was about the best thing she could ever hope for.

Now she’s running around in 25% striders (with a set of Cannith Boots of Propulsion banked) and a +5 Health Necklace of Bluffing while toting a green steel heavy repeater. Granted, it’s just a blank repeater – she has yet to get her first Shard of Power so she can put at least the first tier on it – but it beats her other repeaters for damage done.

But now… what to put on her repeater once she gets that shard? I could use some advice here. Vic is a lvl 14 trapmonkey. She’s a bit squishy, although Improved Evasion helps make up for her lack of HP. As a trapmonkey, while dealing out damage is always nice, it’s not her primary function – plus she’s not going to be doing much damage if she’s dead. So I’m kind of thinking that instead of the Lit II repeater I was originally planning on, a better choice for her would be +1 AC (Insight Bonus), Exceptional Constitution +1, Aspect of Positive Energy (Raise Dead), 30% Healing Amp, Aspect of Positive Energy II (Greater Disruption)… or even dropping the +1 AC and Excep Con to take all three tiers of healing amp since it stacks.

This would be so much easier if you could put healing amp on a clothing or jewelry item – why, oh why, is it only on weapons? Vic rarely uses anything other than her GS repeater, but most of my other toons switch out a lot depending on the situation – heck, Acanthia has about 20 sets of handwraps (and why, oh why, is there no way to make green steel handwraps?).

Then again, since Vic is going to be at the low end of the HP totem pole anyway, does she really need healing amp THAT badly? After all, evasion is going to help her take a lot less damage, and a Cure Crit hitting her is going to restore a nice chunk of her health – 32-52 HP, which doesn’t mean much to a pally in DoS stance but makes a big difference to Vic’s (currently fully buffed not including Rage) 192 HP. She’s run Coal Chamber, Sleeping Dust and Rainbow this past week, all lvl 16 quests, and the biggest threat to her squishy lvl 14 self is getting hit with something that does 250+ damage. No amount of healing amp is gonna help her with THAT. Excep Con, on the other hand, might mean the difference between being barely alive or incap, or being a soulstone. I’d love to hear what other people think would work well on her repeater, and why.

Now back to Acanthia and all those handwraps… if there’s ever a DDO version of “Hoarders,” my over-equipped li’l monk is a prime candidate. She just picked up Oremi’s Ring (she’s had Oremi’s Necklace, Nyoko’s Necklace and Shintao Cord for AGES, but this is her first completed ToD set). Now to decide what to put on it – Pure Good? Healing Amp? Exceptional Something? She’s a light monk and already has a pretty good selection of PG wraps, but putting PG on the ring would effectively make ALL her wraps, along with her Dream Edges, Pure Good. But Healing Amp would be a huge asset to her 500-ish HP. I’m mostly leaning away from adding an Exceptional stat because her stats are already pretty good, and I think PG or Healing Amp would be more useful… but I can’t completely forget about how valuable a +2 stacking bonus to a key stat would be.

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And then… there’s Jalliria. Poor, gimped Jalliria. I used my last Lesser Heart of Wood to lesser reincarnate her because she seemed rather under-powered, HP- and SP-wise, compared to the capped clerics Even and Acanthia ran with. Overall the LR was a big improvement, didn’t quite hit the HP or SP goals I was shooting for (well, she can hit the HP one with really good buffs) but got really, REALLY close… I just made one mistake.

But it’s a big one. My infamous two and a half regular readers might remember a post I made about not realizing I’d taken the Quicken feat with Jall. Well, I’ve learned the hard way that LRing a toon when it’s 4:30 am and you’re nodding over your keyboard is not a good idea. Somehow I managed to take Empower Spell – which is not something Jall has EVER used – instead of Quicken, and didn’t realize what had happened until the next day when it was far too late to change it.

Alas, among the many things I don’t remember is ever using Jall’s free feat swap. But apparently I have, because Fred wants 80,000 plat and a flawless Siberys shard – neither of which I have – to let her drop Empower Spell and replace it with Quicken. And boy, does she NEED Quicken. I’ve started doing some ToD flagging with her, and no WAY can she solo heal those runs. At lvl 20, she SHOULD be able to. It is about 50% because she can’t throw out cures and heals fast enough, and 50% my own shortcomings – I love playing a healer but it just doesn’t come as naturally to me as being a melee. It doesn’t help that not playing Jall as much as my melee toons along with her recent LR, I’m STILL getting used to what’s where on her hotbars.

Another dilemma I have with Jall is when to use spells and when to use scrolls or wands. I saw a thread on the forums not long ago where a bunch of people got rather strident in stating that healers should be using scrolls almost exclusively. Wow, really? Because Jall RARELY uses them. I don’t mind sucking down a blue pot or two if that’s what it takes to get through a tough quest. I don’t like switching to scrolls – or wands, for that matter – for a couple of reasons: first, in the heat of battle, it’s easy to either click the wrong one or just forget to switch back entirely. Dissy does use wands and I have to be careful with them; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pointed her Cacophonic Verge at a party mate who needed a heal, or pointed a Wand of Cure Critical at a mob when I thought I was using a wand of Phantasmal Killer.

Second, Jall’s usually wielding stuff that gives her Superior Devotion, Greater Healing Lore, etc. Unequipping those weapons to pick up a scroll or wand means she’s not doing as much healing as she could. After reading that thread about scroll healing, my insecurities got the best of me for a while and I started thinking I must be doing everything wrong… but then I thought about it and, for me at least, it seems that the best choice for Jall is to stick mostly to spells. I keep her stocked with enough pots to get through at least three or four quests, plus she’s got Lorrik’s Necklace and con-op goggles. Just to be safe, she does have a small but useful supply of scrolls and wands as well.

But the biggest question I have with Jall is whether I should keep running her gimpy self and try to get her some high-level cleric gear (Torc, DT armor, ToD stuff, etc.), or whether I should just TR her now and work on that stuff when she levels back up. I have more than enough tokens for her TR, so that’s not an issue… to TR or not to TR? Just one more decision I’m having a lot of trouble making.