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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Runescape Christmas 2012: A Stray In a Manger

A Stray in a Manger finally came out on 19 December, 2012.  It was so close to Christmas, I was starting to wonder if Runescape would get the update done in time.  Christmas content in Geilinor has had it's ups and downs.  Some fun, some not so fun.  The rewards over the years have had their ups and downs as well.

This year was one of my favorites.  I'm pretty certain it was Monique's all-time favorite Christmas special.  She's taken extra care of the Runescape stray dog for years.  Never kicks him away.  Always brings him a bone.  Even though he's a creature made of painted light, her heart goes out to him.  I guess he personifies all the real life strays that she would take in if possible.

To a lesser degree, it's the same for me.  After years of seeing the RS mongrel wandering around Varrock, it feels good to see him (and 3 other specially chosen strays) get some attention.

When you talk to your Snow Imp (near the Draynor Lodestone) he'll explain why he's the "pet Santa" this year.  Then ask for your help.  Finding the 4 dogs is quick and simple.  Putting the antlers on them and seeing them float up and away was an inspired touch.  Funny, yet heart-warming.

Your Snow Imp has different names for different players.  Mine was Morris.  Monique's was named Barry.  Go back to him, he'll ask you to clean up the strays.  Give them a quick bath, encounter an angry flea, and you get a small cutscene where he and the dogs depart for their night of deliveries.

After the work is done, you get to choose your favorite stray to adopt (but you can change your mind later and pick another dog).  Your Imp gives you a Kennel Flatpack, which becomes the basic dog house.  After that, you get the Gift of Giving.  Don't ask where it comes from.  You'll be sorry when you find out.  If you trade the Gift of Giving with other players, it continually renews itself and gives you more items.  Mostly, upgrades for the dog house.

After completing the adventure, I talked with Morris again, and he asked if I could help him find 4 lost implings.  When trading the Gift of Giving with other players, there's a chance of getting one of the 4 implings in a glass jar.  Use them on your imp, and he will award 50,000 bonus exp in Hunting... per impling.  That's a max of 200,000 bonus hunting exp!

The experience is doled out like the skill pendants.  You get the extra experience as you're hunting.  Once your GoG (gift of giving) has given you all 4 implings, and all the unique doghouse upgrades, it starts giving out junk items from previous holidays.  Nothing cool, just food and firecrackers.

You can't bank the Gift of Giving, but it will stay with you if you log out and back in.  To get enough unique players (you can't continue to swap the GoG with the same player), I moved to different worlds a few times.  World 60 was a good one.

If you destroy the GoG, the Imp will 'sick up' a new one upon request. But it doesn't take long to complete if you just keep trading.  I finished mine and then destroyed it.

Beyond "A Stray in A Manger", there are Christmas Implings flying around to catch, they'll drop the junk items too, and rarely the doghouse upgrades, but it's easier to get the upgrades by trading the GoG.  And Tradeable Christmas Gifts came out too.

The Tradeable Christmas Gifts can be had from the Squeal of Fortune (got two that way), and from random monster drops.  Or like Strange Rocks, while you're skilling.  Collect enough unique gift boxes, and you can combine them for better rewards.  If you don't have unique ones, you can trade other players, but not on the GE.  They have to be traded the old-fashioned way, player to player.  The rewards include mince pies, mistletoe (which comes with a 'kissing' emote) a Christmas Pudding amulet that grants bonus xp while training, and a Christmas Tree hat.  That last is supposed to be quite rare, and tradeable.
If you don't get all the unique colored gifts you're hunting for, you can trade with other players to complete your collection.

The only one that really catches my eye is the pudding amulet.  It grants double XP on the next 68,800 experience earned while being worn.  That's the max experience you can get, even if you have more than one amulet.  Stacks with the Festive Aura, which is nice.

This Christmas Runescape really hit a home run.  A heartwarming story, a permanent home for your chosen stray dog (and a flea circus!), and lots of customizing options.  Plenty of Christmas Implings to chase for fun.  Lots of player to player interaction with all the trading going on.  A very tasty exp reward in Hunting, plus the exp of the Pudding amulet.  And all the decorative rewards.

This was a satisfyingly rich Christmas offering.  As always, the forums are full of complaints.  Ignore the Scrooges saying "Bah humbug."  Go give your dog a home!

Runescape Double Dungeoneering- My favorite Winter Weekend Special!

Runescape has been incredibly busy recently.  I can hardly keep up with the new quests, the Player Owned Ports, the Festive Aura, the Winter Weekend specials, the (soon to come) Stray Dog Christmas Event...  
I've certainly missed some, but that gets the point across.  I'm starting to think they're throwing so much out so fast because of the Evolution of Combat release.  
Since EOC came out, there's been a very vocal group that hates it.  Chances are, a number of those people just haven't truly tried it.  All this new content, especially the Tzhaar grandmaster quest, is serving to familiarize us with the new interfaces, and to bury EOC behind a flock of new content.  With so much going on, EOC becomes old news, and not so important.  

When EOC first started, there was plenty I hated, but was willing to give a fair chance.  Still not happy about losing the functionality of Enhanced Excalibur II, but on the whole EOC has become a lot of fun.  

Particularly in Dungeoneering.  Aside from daily challenges, I haven't done Dungeoneering much.  As a matter of fact, my 99 in the skill is mainly due to daily challenges, exp bonuses, and the Jack of Trades Aura.  

Last weekend, the Winter Weekend special was double dungeoneering exp (and tokens).  So Monique and I put some serious time into Daemonheim.  We duo dungeoned for nearly 30 floors, taking our time, having fun.  With the binds being 'bankable' up to 10 items, we both needed to rearrange our possessions. We hunted for Grave Creeper wood, and made bows and magic staves.  Searched for Promethium to upgrade her armor, but for some reason, Promethium was in hiding.  

It was a lot of fun.  The new binding system gives more options than we used to have.  EOC means we have lots of really cool attacks and graphics.  The rebalancing means our experience is a lot more appropriate to our levels.  The easier floors are... easy.  I don't really start needing food until around floor 49.  Until then, EOC abilities are enough to keep my hp high.  

Most things can't kill me unless I'm being stupid... except for Blink.  I hate Blink.  

We both leveled up over the weekend.  Enjoyed the bonus exp.  Best of all, it reminded us how great Dungeoneering is.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally start getting those long-delayed Chaotics!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Runescape Player Owned Ports Review

Player Owned Ports came out this week (Mid-December, 2012).  Billed as a mini-game for high-level players, it has a requirement of at least 90 in one of the following skills:  Fishing, Slayer, Runecrafting, Herblore, Prayer, or Thieving.  To get the most from the game, you should be at least 90 in ALL of those skills.  To be honest, I'm thrilled.  Something targeted specifically for high-level players has been greatly needed.  Not to be 'elitist', but because it gives all players something to look toward as they raise their levels.  Plus players that already qualify have content that's fun to do, and rewards commensurate with our levels.

It's taking me a while to get the hang of it, but so far I'm enjoying the mini-game a lot.  It reminds me of Kingdom managing at Miscellania, with a bit of Sim City mixed in.  The first day seemed a bit overwhelming.  I made the mistake of clicking the green arrows for mission selection, not realizing it was "re-rolling" for replacement missions with every click.  I thought it was just scrolling through the list, and wound up burning through most of my first day's missions without getting to do them.

By the second day, things made a lot more sense.  At the beginning, the game is mostly about building up everything.  I'm sure that as it progresses, more emphasis will shift to clever resource management, rather than just upgrading everything in sight.

There's a very extended introductory walkthrough that mixes theatrical cutscenes with an interactive guide.  In terms of introducing the story, and the concepts involved, it's well told.  I enjoyed the cinematic aspect.  As a tutorial, it was kind of weak.  Glossed way too quickly over everything, and didn't explain enough detail.  As an intro it was great, but for a tutorial, we need a more involved and in-depth approach.  Maybe a 'point-and-click query to explain things as they're needed, available at any time.  More like a 'help' command.  The Runescape site itself has a good description of much of the game, though it's not a strategy guide.
POP is a lot of fun in its own right, but let's be honest... I'm here for the armor!  There's high-level armor for all three combat classes, all of which require at least level 85 combat to wear.  They all require at least 90 in their associated skill (Smithing, Crafting, and Runecrafting for each respective armor set.)  The armor sets don't look bad, but could look better.  Oh well.  I still want them.

The armor comes in two levels, a slightly weaker tradeable version, and a stronger untradeable version.  Both degrade, but the tradeable one degrades to destruction.  The untradeable sets can be repaired, either with resources or gold.  There's been some grumbling on the forums because they degrade.  I don't mind, in either case.  Primarily, I want this armor for myself, and don't see any problem with fixing it periodically.  The tradeable version is a clever design on Jagex's part to provide a consumable resource.  The armor will always need to be replaced, so it will constantly have a demand.  It'll be a lot cheaper than the (up till now) current highest level armors.  That should keep the value reasonable, and give port-owners ongoing rewards.

Other nice rewards include Rocktail Soup, which is now the best food in the game.  Made with Rocktail, and Spices from  the player owned port, again Runescape has given a great reward and a reason to continue playing the mini-game.  At first people were paying ridiculous money for it, though at this moment it's going for about 5,000 gold.

The final reward is Scrimshaws, the new item worn in our 'pocket'.  It will boost specific skills or abilities, requires 85 fletching or higher, depending on which one you want to make.  As with the armor, scrimshaws come in tradeable and untradeable versions with higher stat boosts to the untradeable ones.

The graphics are beautiful.  Very pleasing to look at.  There's a lot of voice-acting with the characters.  It's well-done, but maybe not quite as good as some of the recent quests.  When I was talking with the Siren, Monique wanted to know who the sexy woman was that I was flirting with...

The controls and menu interfaces are initially confusing.  The first day, I didn't know if I'd ever get it, but just played around, made mistakes, and learned.  Bynow it's making a lot more sense.  The wiki has a pretty good description and strategy suggestions.  I don't think this kind of game really lends itself to a step-by-step guide.  There are too many ways to play, and too many options to choose from.  The best way to play is read through the Wiki strategy tips, then just play.  You'll pick it up as you go.

There's a huge amount of depth, lots of different storylines, randoms, multiple rewards, mini-mini-games, and re-playability.  Most updates flood the Runescape forums with haters and whiners.  I don't mean rational, objective reviews or suggestions.  But I'm sure you've seen the posts like "Fix it now, give me back my lost xxxx, or I quit!"  Every update just seems to bring out the worst in the forums.

Not Player Owned Ports.  This time, the forums are full of happy players, tips and advice on how to play, and objective comments on suggested improvements.  The overall tone has been very positive.  That alone indicates what an overwhelming success POP is.  Runescape really did well.  They needed something strongly positive after all the complaints about EOC.  (There are still complaints, but there's always going to be some no matter what.)  I'm sure right now there are lots of happy employees among the Jagex staff.

Personally, I love this update.  It's added a lot of fun to my gameplay, and it's a very cool reward for all the time spent leveling my character.  I can't wait to advance and start earning some armor!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Runescape Crafting 99 Cape

Well... it's a cape.  Not very pretty, but it sure cost a lot.
Didn't expect it for another week or two,but this weekend marked 99 Skill in Crafting.  It's an expensive skill, and my thought was to do 30 minutes a day with the Festive Aura using Green Dragon Leather.  Plus Daily Challenges, and Mining Urns when the money ran low (because they're profitable). 
Then Runescape changed the Prismatic Pendants.  For a while, you could only ever have one pendant for any skill (a Squeal of Fortune reward).  New prismatic pendants could only be used for a skill you didn't already have a pendant in, even if it was destroyed.  I had 23 in the bank, plus some Prized Prismatic Pendants.  Didn't junk them because it seemed like such a waste not to be able to use multiples in a single skill.  There were a lot of complaints in the forums from skillers with only a few skills left to train. 

Now you can use up a pendant, destroy it, and assign a new prismatic pendant to the same skill.  Friday Night I got 96 Crafting, and very nearly made it to the next level.  Saturday was a surprise game day.  Monique and I played Runescape in a full-day-long marathon.  It was great- all day long, just relaxing and playing.

Thanks to the boosted experience from the Festive Aura, the Wisdom Aura, and 23 Prismatic Pendants in a row used for Crafting, on Saturday my Crafting went fro 96, to 97, to 98.  Plus about a third of the way to 99.  Got up early Sunday morning, watched a Bruce Lee movie (Way of the Dragon) and a Schwarzenneger movie (The Running Man), and finished the 99.

The cape is a mild disappointment.  Kind of bland.  Same with the animation.  Carve a cat out of a block of wood, hold it over my head.  What?  That's the best they could come up with?  Thanks, but for now, going to keep wearing my Dungeoneering cape.  It has 3 different emotes, and they're ALL cool!

Next goal is going to be Fletching.  It's the most afk'able skill left to do, and I'm looking forward to not having so pay so much attention.  Then Hunting, then Farming.  Going to hate Farming.  After that, it'll just be a matter of getting Dungeoneering level 120.  Should keep me busy for a long long time...  :^)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Runescape: The Brink of Extinction Review

Finished doing "The Brink of Extinction" last night.  Monique and I both got it done. Surprisingly, it was voice acted.  The Tzhaar used some kind of voice modifier to give them a rocky, grating tone.  Worked really well- with only minor exceptions, the voices were amazing.  My only complaint for voice acting would be when Ga'al Xox is giving his final speech.  He's supposed to be in constant agony, and the voice acting is reminiscent of William Shatner's style of speak-dramatic pause-speak-pause...

Aside from the mild over-acting, the voices were otherwise a great addition to the quest.  This is supposed to be the final Tzaar quest, and has a grandmaster rating.  To address the Grandmaster status, TBoE was a long quest.  The first part was pretty easy, and non-combat.  The last part was a mix of combat and puzzles.  The puzzles were easy, many didn't even really qualify as puzzles.  The combat started off easy enough, and grew more complex as it progressed.

The story was emotionally satisfying.  It was a good ending to the Tzhaar arc.  The boss fight took me a bunch of tries, but I finally got it.  It seemed easier than Nomad, but harder than Vanstrom.  I tried many setups, but the best involved Ice Barrage because it's stun prevents TokHarr-Hok from healing in the lava-fall.

Beat the big guy, and the rest crumble
In terms of story, I can give it Grandmaster.  It was satisfying.  In terms of combat, it was very difficult, but I'm not sure it qualified for Grandmaster.  I enjoyed the combat.  If it was really Grandmaster, I'd have spent a couple of weeks complaining and getting killed.  This only took two days.  :^)

The rewards were not for me.  3 Quest points, okay, good.  100k exp Mining... I just got 99 mining a few days ago.  Didn't do anything for me.
The exp lamp with 275k combat exp is great, but all my combat skills are maxed.  So again, useless to anybody who's max combat.

The Fight Cauldron - This one I like.  It sounds like fun to go back and try again. I'm looking forward to that.  I'll need to find out more about the Obsidian Armour in regard to the Cauldron, Kiln, and Fight Cave.

Speaking of the armour, this was the main reason I wanted to do the quest.  But it turned out Obsidian Armour is only useful in the Tzhaar areas.  Wear it in combat anywere else in Runescape, and it gives a triple damage penalty when you get hit.

That's very disappointing.  On the other hand, I still haven't beaten the Kiln.  So even though limited, it's useful for that.  Adding a teleport to the Tokkul-Zo ring is nice, but I'm not jumping up and down over it.  
The "TzHaar" title is also nice, but I have a feeling it's not going to be that exclusive.  Still, I like being called TzHaar.  2 spins on the wheel... can take or leave this one.  I don't hate the wheel like some do.  But I hate that it very rarely gives me anything useful.  Most of the time it's low-level junk that does me little good.  It used to be good for at least a small exp lamp every few days.  Either I've got horrible luck, or they've nerfed the wheel.

The Brink of Extinction was a good, fun quest.  But I think Jagex had an agenda here.  Coming right after the Evolution of Combat, BoE seems more like a shakedown cruise.  To beat the quest, you've got to complete a long combat sequence, but you get it in small manageable chunks.
BoE was a training run.  Beat it, and your understanding of Abilities and the Action bar should be much better.

I've learned a lot, and like the action bar much better now, even though I already liked it.  The quest was worth doing just for the sake of doing it.  The rewards could have been better, especially the armour. 
Killed the Ranger with melee, then switched to Ganodermic Armour, Armadyl Staff, and this action bar setup.

The real benefit was getting to know the Action Bar.  Using it so much made it a lot more comfortable.  I think in the long run, I'm probably going to keep a picture record of favorite setups.  Then I can recreate different loadouts for different purposes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Runescape: Rune Memories, Ariane's 2nd Quest

Monique and I did manage to do Ariane's second rune quest, Rune Memories.  Right off the bat, let me address the graphics and audio.  I absolutely, fanatically, love all the graphical improvements Runescape has undergone.  I'm extremely happy that they're not just putting out better graphics in new areas, but actually going back and re-doing classic areas over time.  It adds so much to the background of Runescape.

Not so much, but still a lot of love, for the audio.  What I mean is, the voice acting is gorgeous.  The actors are well-chosen, and really bring depth and personality to their characters.  It's just that, between graphics or voice acting, I'd rate the graphics as having more impact on long-term game play than the voice.  Particularly since new voice-acting content is mainly restricted to quests, which we only do once.

Being a Zamorak Wizard has never been so awesome!
That aside, the quest had a good story.  I enjoyed the characters, especially the leader of the Red Wizards.  With him, I finally realized the Zamorak faction isn't necessarily evil, so much as chaos-driven.  They believe strength and knowledge are the result of chaos and dissension.  Apparently, that's a very attractive philosophy for evil wizards, but it's no guarantee of evil-ness.

The quest begins with Ariane still at the bottom level of the old tower, underground.  She's been studying, and asks for your help.  She's smart enough not to go poking around without someone around for backup.  But she's not smart enough to properly research and prepare before casting her spell.  Before you can say 'abracadabra', she's stuck in the beam of light, like an insect trapped in amber.

Now it's up to you to get her free, which involves discovering the true history of the teleportation conundrum, and freeing the souls trapped beyond their time in the vortex.

Surprises and betrayals, some minor puzzles, and one undercover bad guy are all part of Rune Memories.  You'll learn much of the history, in a way that tells an engaging story.

The puzzles are mainly easy, but if you don't want to solve them yourself, the answers are available at the quest Wiki page.  I like the cutscenes with the dramatic closeups.  Runescape has improved graphically to the point that cinematic breaks help move the story forward in an attractive manner.

The final portion of the quest brought a sense of "I have to hurry, or Ariane will explode!", and the remaining characterization of the soul fragments was very enjoyable.  I especially liked Zanmaron the Red, as the Master Wizard for the Reds.  I know he's dead, and that complicates things, but I'd enjoy working with him in a future quest.  His personality was surprising, and I found myself actually respecting him.

The rewards were interesting.  Much more so than Rune Mysteries were.  Top and Bottom robes for the first tower- and they really look cool.  If you like wizardly cosmetic clothing, it's worth getting.  You can arrange to have them in any of the 4 colors of the Wizard factions, by taking the Rune Guardian's quiz again and changing your answers.

The experience?  Blah.  Very beginner level.  The 2 free SOF spins?  Fair enough.  But the cool part?  Wizard Sedridor's personal rune essence chest.  You can get a windfall of free pure essence runes from it, and the higher your level, the more you get.  At 99 Runecrafting, it gave me 24,750 pure essence.  Sold for well over 1 million gold.  Now THAT's what I call a reward!

There's also 10,000 exp in magic or prayer if you talk to the trapped demon after the quest.  Give him a drop of blood, you get magic exp.  Refuse, you get prayer exp.  That's decent.

One last reward, and my personal favorite:  If you have 99 Magic and 99 Runecrafting, Sedridor will bestow the title of Archmage upon you.  Now that's a cool title.  I haven't been called archmage since the mid 1980's when I played Bard's Tale!

All told, Rune Memories is a great story, a good low-level quest, with some extremely nice higher-level rewards.

Runescape 99 Mining: Power-ups FTW!

Well, Saturday was something of a marathon.  Friday evening I had finally hit 98 Mining, and was all wound up about getting that final goal.  Thank goodness for all the bonus exp recently.  Been getting Mining challenges every day, that's good for an extra 20k a day.  Then Friday night Runescape came out with the Festive Aura.  How cool... 30 minutes a day of 50% extra exp all month!!  Plus it looks good!

And let's not forget the skilling benefits of Evolution of Combat.  Most of the time, I've banked the ore.  But towards the end, I've been power-dropping it.  There's enough saved up in the bank to pay for my daily challenges when it's concentrated gold ore.  With the EOC, it's become amazingly easy to drop ore while continuing to mine.

Mining in the Living Rock Cavern, with a Gold Mining Suit, Lava Titan, Dragon Pickaxe, and Decorated Mining Urns(r), and dropping the ore with the action bar... even though level 99 needs something like 1,200,000 exp, it was just flying by.  Even the Jack of Trades Aura did it's part, giving me about 10k exp for a minute of multi-training once a day.  Did about 300k exp Friday, even after getting level 98.

Saturday I had other things to do, but still spent an amazing amount of time Mining.  By 11pm, just couldn't stay awake any more.  Even though it only needed 167k, I had to go to sleep.

Woke up, probably 4:30 am, couldn't go back to sleep.  (Happens a lot.)  So back to the mines.  Early early Saturday morning, it happened; 99 Mining.  That's a seriously good feeling, to finish a long standing goal.

Went to get the skill cape.  Thought it looked kind of bland, but hadn't seen the emote yet.  Played the emote.  Okay, that's bland too.  So the cape went into my POH costume room, on the cloak rack.  No problem, right now my favorite is the Dungeoneering cape anyway.

That in itself is kind of odd, since the Dungeoneering 99 Skill Cape is unfinished.  It won't really count as 'done' until 120.  But I still like it best.  Followed by the Prayer skillcape.  Both have great emotes.

Brings me to a question:  In the Daily Challenges, you can turn off maxed skills, and I've done that with the other skills.  But it hasn't assigned a Dungeoneering Challenge since I got 99.  Even though that's not maxed.  I've been mining, so haven't worried.  But by now, I'm starting to wonder if it's going to ever give me another Dungeoneering assignment.

I haven't X'd the skill off the list, shouldn't it still be assigning me Dungeoneering Challenges?

That part aside, my next goal is Crafting.  Doing dragonhide is very expensive, so I'm only buying enough to do 30 minutes worth daily.  I can use the Festive Aura for that 30 minutes, plus do a crafting assignment during that time.  Should give me a huge savings in the cost of supplies.

For the other parts of the day, it's slow, but I'm making Decorative Mining Urns.  They make about 11k per inventory, so at least it's profitable.  And when I want a break, I go fight monsters.  :^)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Runescape: Ariane quest part one- Rune Mysteries

In keeping with the "Ozan" tradition of rewriting Runescape Quests and featuring a signature hero, now Runescape has a redone Rune Mysteries, and made Ariane into a central character.  Not to mention an integral part of Runescape's history and lore.

The original Rune Mysteries quest was mainly a way to introduce Essence mining into the game.  This version has a much richer story, and strong personalities.  It's also a voice acted quests.  As usual, Monique and I are split on this feature.  She hates the voice acting, because it slows the questing down to listen to all the talking.  I agree, it really slows the questing down, but I actually like the voices.  They add a layer of depth to the story, and enhance the 'feel' of the characters.

In this case, there's more history than usual.  Ariane got an official story in the Lores, explaining how she came to be a wandering mage/adventurer, and why she's banned from the Wizard's Tower.

Along with the quest redo, the Wizard's Tower has been totally transformed.  Where it used to be... a tower... now it's a gorgeous tapestry of design woven into a colorful theme surrounding the mystical central beam of light (which is also used to levitate from one level to another.)

Now that I've mentioned it, let's start with the beam of light.  Centered in the tower, and pervasive through every floor (and beneath the ground floor), this magical beam replaces the old stairs.  It's a cool idea, and a much more wizardly way of getting around than stairs, or an elevator.

Because Mysteries is a beginner's quest, it's very simple.  Walk into the tower, get involved in Ariane's situation, talk to a few wizards, and use a bit of combat magic.  There's no risk, and no equipment needed.  The Wicked Hood is convenient for getting to the Wizard's Tower.  It takes you to the top floor, you just descend through the beam to get to the ground level.

Oh, and you get to play a pipe organ.  It's part of a fairly simple puzzle involving translation of a spell into music.  Later, you get to hit some sour notes to distract Sedridor from his 'purging' spell.  One thing I really liked here, was the top row of keys literally can be played.  After all these years of having organs in the occasional odd spot, now you can finally play music!  I couldn't resist - played "When the Saint Go Marching In" with it...  :^)

As with Ozan, the graphic rework for the tower, and the entire island, is wonderful.  Makes for some very scenic moments, especially when you have to head underground.

This quest took nearly an hour to complete, because I wanted to hear the voice acting, and try out every possible combination of conversation with everybody.  If you just want to zip through and be done, probably more like 15 minutes.

It's the second time in Jagex history to release two quests on the same day.  Because it was so late in the evening, we haven't done Rune Memories yet.  Plan to do that one tonight.

As far as Rune Mysteries, I liked it.  No challenge, but a great story and beautiful graphics.  I appreciate the continual improvement to the land of Geilinor.  Not only new content, but old content constantly gets improved.  Makes the whole world better in the long run.

Rewards are appropriate to the quest level.  The only reward worth noting is the  Tower Mindspike, an elemental staff that can be changed at need to provide Air, Earth, Fire, or Water runes, so it pretty much replaces the basic elemental staves we're used to.  And if it's lost, you can get another one.

You also get 2 Squeal of Fortune spins, a First Tower Hat, some exp, a quest point, an Air Talisman, 70 Mind Runes, and 4 new titles.  The titles are given as a result of a quiz you answer in the quest.  The quiz can be retaken to change  your alignment from among Blue, Green, Grey, and Red factions of the original Wizard's Tower.  I was awarded Blue, so if I accepted the new name, would have been called Techreader the Blue.

I'm looking forward to the second quest tonight- the rewards look a bit more commensurate with higher level players.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Week Post Evolution of Combat: How is it Working?

It's been a week since the release of Evolution of Combat.  Last time I wrote was just after getting 99 Agility.  (Boring!)  Since then, my major focus has been on Mining, with a minor on Dungeoneering.  Want to get Mining up to 99, it's currently on 97.  But Dungeoneering has had some of my attention, because of the daily challenges.

With 5 skills left to max, the Daily Challenge is very easy to manipulate.  I just ignore the 3 challenges I'm not currently interested in, and every day get either a Mining or Dungeoneering challenge.  Both are good.  With Dungeoneering, the challenge reward is a bit over 100k exp.  Do one floor, get 100k.  What a deal!  Actually made 99 Dungeoneering from that.  (And most of the other levels from effigies, bonus exp, and randoms.)  That's put me in the odd spot of being 99 DG and still not having any chaotic equipment.

When doing DG, I either solo, or Monique and I do the dungeons together.  So the new update that improves solo exp was wonderful for us.  To be honest, EOC Dungeoneering was pretty fun, too.  Rather than creep around trying to survive, I just blasted through the levels like a force of destruction.  Okay, it was overpowered at first.  But fun.

I've read on the forums that Jagex has been trying to re-adjust the balance in Daemonheim, only now they've gone too for the other way.  But my last few days challenges were mining, so haven't been back since the re-balance.  I hope they get it back to being fun again.  Have you tried Blink recently?  He nearly killed me, but it was my first time with him.  Wasn't sure if he's usually that tough, or if it was one of the EOC adjustments.

Maybe my next challenge will be to complete a level in Dungeoneering.  It'll give me an excuse to get away from Mining for a while.

As far as Mining goes, the EOC has certainly had an impact there!  Before Evolution of Combat, I was banking all my gold from the Living Rock Cavern.  Decent rate of exp, and a bit of profit.  After EOC, the ability bar is just too tempting.  Now I drop mine all the gold.  With ore in the ability bar, you can keep clicking on it, or hit the key bound to that slot, without stopping mining.  Don't know actual numbers, but I'm convinced it's doubled or better my exp rate.

The cost of doubling exp speed is twofold.  First, mining now takes my full attention.  No more AFK'ing while the inventory fills up.  Constantly clicking to 'drop' the ores, plus it's really sped up how fast the decorated mining urns fill up.  Secondly, now it costs money to train, instead of making a small profit.  The cost of urns seems kind of high, and if you don't raise your bid up a lot, you won't get any urns from the Grand Exchange.

Could make my own, but I'm really into doing the mining right now.  Don't want to break stride for anything except Dungeoneering.  On the other hand, if the profit margin for urns continues high, after maxing mining, I might spend some time making urns for sale.  Crafting will probably be my next goal, so it would be a good match, even if the exp rate for urns is slow.  Maybe it could fund later, more expensive, training.

In the midst of all that, I haven't given the EOC a dedicated test.  Only what I see while in the dungeons, or fighting living rock protectors and throwers.  At first, it seemed too easy.  Fun, but they were dead before my adrenaline got high enough to even use a Threshold ability.  Now, I can kill a rock monster with a pickaxe and Excalibur, and get enough adrenaline to use an Ultimate (just barely) before it's dead.  Most of the time, I ignore the Ultimate, and save the Adrenaline for healing with after the fight.

Not having faced a decent boss on EOC, can't really speak to more difficult fights.  As far as standard MVP fights, the changes have been a lot of fun.  Cool abilities, many choices, excellent animations.  The loss of some weapon specials is annoying.  Excalibur, especially.

The Runic Staff (from doing Runesphere) took some figuring out.  The ability to load and use it for a specific spell is still there, but not obvious.  Monique figured it out.  We use it for an easy Varrock teleport.  She dragged the Varrock teleport spell into the ability bar, then wielded the staff.  Even though the ability icon stays dimmed, you can click on it and it will teleport.  (Or whatever spell you're using with it, I imagine.)

My biggest gripe?  We need instructions.  Real, in-depth guides.  Suggested methods of fighting and training.  Comparisons between weapons.  Sure, Wiki and other sites will eventually have all of this.  But Runescape should have prepared the community better.  The Combat Academy is a good idea, but it would be better to have real guides on their own pages within the Runescape site.

That's not really a big problem.  Like I said, we'll soon have all of that from external sources.  In the meantime, EOC has a mix of good and bad, but overall it's been a lot of fun.  I'm enjoying it... mostly!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Runescape: 99 Agility - The Most Boring Skill in Geilinor!

On my way to Burthorpe!
With all the new content that's come out this year, or coming soon (like the EOC) I haven't had much time to just play Runescape.  There's still new content I haven't seen yet, like the recent Dungeoneering update for solo play, and it's accompanying changes to item binding.

Even with all that going on, I did manage to take some time out recently to work on Agility.  What a slow, boring, mind-numbing skill!!!  There were times I just wanted to chuck it and do something else.  By level 98, I decided to put all my upcoming bonus exp into it.  Usually lamps, penguins, jack-of-trades, and the like all go to Dungeoneering.  (Over time, that trick has brought my Dungeoneering to level 98 with very little actual training.)

As an aside, the daily challenges have been magnificent, ever since Jagex fixed it so you can 'X' out skills you've maxed.  My skills are at a perfect level for me to manipulate the challenges.  I have 6 skills left to get 99 in (or 120, for Dungeoneering).  If a daily challenge is not in a skill I'm trying to raise, I just ignore it.  Currently, the only skills I'm interested in are Mining and Dungeoneering, so the other 4 skills I just leave alone.  As long as I don't allow all 5 daily slots to be full, those unfinished challenges never go away.  We don't get duplicate challenges simultaneously, so those particular skills won't keep popping up.  This means the ONLY challenges I get will be the ones I want.

This plan worked to perfection with Agility.  My final 40k exp to go, and the challenge assigned was 24 laps around the Advanced Barbarian Agility Course.  That's great, it's the best place to train high-level agility.  So I did 24 laps, went and got the Challenge reward, for just enough points to get 99 Agility.

Monique is mildly jealous of this 99. It really is a boring, time-consuming skill. I gleefully pointed out that the Wiki for it states "The Agility cape is currently the 2nd rarest level 99 cape, second only to the Construction cape. This is because of the vast amount of time and patience required to achieve 99 Agility..." The cape isn't one of my favorites for looks, but I have to admit, the emote is pretty cool.
It's nice when a plan comes together! My next goals are for 99 Mining (currently at 94) and 120 Dungeoneering (currently at 98). Most of my time will be spent mining, but whenever a daily challenge comes up for Dungeon, I'll take a break and go play with the monsters in Daemonheim.

Going to change my bonus experience tactics too.  DG has been reworked, and my daily challenges should include plenty of Daemonheim time.  So all my bonus exp will go directly into whichever skill is my current goal for 99.  For now, mining. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Evolution of Combat only one week away!

After the long wait, Evolution of Combat is finally on a deadline, and there's only a week or so left before it comes out.  Have you tried the Beta?  I haven't spent a ton of time on it.  Like Jagex acknowledged, time to play is precious, and I want my time to count.  So ever since they announced EOC, I've been skilling whenever I had a few minutes to play.  Don't see the point in doing combat when it's all going to change soon.

That's good.  It's forced me to work on skills that otherwise would never get finished.  Getting very close to 99 Agility.  Talk about a boring skill to train!

Back to the subject though, Runescape's EOC is now less than a week away, and they're still doing 11th-hour changes.  I'm glad.  It's nice to see community feedback getting honest response.  It's also nice to see Runescape is committed to making it the best they possibly can.  Not convinced I'm going to love EOC, but willing to give it a try.

The combat triangle is important, but the extremism shown in Beta had me worried.  Nice to see they're relaxing that.  Didn't really fancy carrying around multiple sets of armor just to fight effectively.  According to Jagex, it was very restrictive for PvM, and now the hit chance has been improved for players in "either the same or negative side of the triangle"...

To me, this reads as letting 2 sides of the triangle be effective against the third, rather than just one.  Maybe it'll be on a weighted scale that requires the correct gear for best results... but there's more leeway than there had been.

I hadn't heard about potions and Herblore being underpowered, but apparently it was an issue.  Compared to the beta, Jagex said they've seriously ramped it up.    No details, so I have to assume they mean the effectiveness of the actual potions, not the skill/training.

Prayer is looking better.  Originally prayer was just plain ruined.  Jagex heard our complaints and said the final EOC will have prayer much more powerful than it's been in Beta.  I'm sure they won't fully return to the old style of Prayer, but at least it's been stepped up some.  Prayer took far to much money and effort to train- I'd hate to see it become useless.

All of that's been nice to hear about... but the big news has to be about Special Attacks.  Runescape no longer has special attacks for given weapons.  Instead it's all tied to Abilities.  That just stinks.  Personally, I worked for a long, long time to get the Enhanced Excalibur for it's extra healing.  I often use it in non-combat skilling where the occasional injury is sustained (or penguins, on the northern islands of Jatiszo and  Neitznot.)

Since Abilities are tied to combat, they're useless for on-the-run healing the way I currently use Excalibur.  Same goes for many other specials.  Fortunately, Jagex listened, and are trying out "passive effects" in the current Beta.  These passive effects will be similar to a weapon's existing special.

At the moment, this is just a trial, and limited to Godswords and Enchanted Excalibur.  From the sound, I expect Excalibur will still be tied strictly to combat for the healing, but hey, at least all that work spent getting it won't be wasted!

Yesterday, Runescape updated Dungeoneering.  Both in Solo and small team experience granted, and in how the item Binding works.  I haven't had time yet to try it out, but as soon as I can, I'll post my thoughts on it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Runescape: Tears of Guthix Update (Much Better Experience!)

Have you ever played the minigame "Tears of Guthix"?  Monique and I did for a long time.  Every Tuesday after Penguins, we'd go see Juna.  Until the frustration, and low-level experience rewards got old. 
Tears of Guthix is a short quest to help Juna restore the caverns wherein the walls bleed with tears from Guthix.  Once you've helped her, you can access the cavern once a week.  So long as you've gained at least 100k of experience during that week, or earned at least 1 quest point.  Inside the cavern, you use a bowl to collect the blue streams of tears pouring from the walls.  Green tears are bad.  The more blue you get in your bowl, the more experience earned toward your lowest skill level.  In my case, it's Hunter.  My only skill under 80, and one of only two skills still under 90. 

Like I said, though, Tears of Guthix as a weekly minigame can get annoying.  Have a run of bad luck, and you'll suck down nearly as many green tears as blue.  Especially when the controls were slow to respond.  I can remember clicking frantically to run away from the green tears, but not moving until a large amount of blue had been lost. 

Juna's caverns have a new coat of paint and a bit of re-modeling done.  Juna herself is much more impressive.  Catching the Blue Tears comes with a chime-like sound, while catching the Green Tears is a jarring 'clunk' noise.  But the real news is the game improvement.  To start with, a Games Necklace can now teleport you directly to Juna.  No more long run through the caves.  That alone makes it worth the trip.

But the experience level has been upped to a maximum of 3 times what it used to be.  Wait, did I say only 3 times?  Actually, if your mining and crafting are 80 or higher, it gets better.  Juna will ask you to mine a special rock across the chasm and make an Ornate Bowl.  With the Ornate Bowl, you can collect up to 5 times the previous maximum experience level. 

For comparison, I did Juna before crafting the bowl.  She gave me 34,000 exp to my Hunting.  True to expectation, my average used to be 10k of experience.  Let's see, that's... yep... close enough to 3 times better!
Monique, on the other hand, made her Ornate Bowl, then collected her Tears.  She gained over 50,000 experience to Dungeoneering.  Let's see, that's about 5 times better than the old average... so yes, we're both satisfied with the estimated 3 and 5 times more experience, depending on whether you have the Ornate Bowl or not.

To make the bowl, if you've got the levels, you'll need a bullseye lantern with a cut sapphire lens.  If you kept yours from previous questing, good job.  Otherwise, just use a cut sapphire on a bullseye lanter.  Easy.  Use the lantern on one of the floating blue lights.  They'll carry you across the chasm to the other side.  Mine the rocks, craft the bowl, and give it to Juna.  (For a short-cut back, the eastern side of the rock ledge has a cliff you can jump down from.)

When you go see Juna, don't forget a light, and make sure your hands are empty.

This looks to be a useful update, revitalizing dead content.  For the rewards, Monique and I will be making it a regular part of our weekly Runescaping!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Runescape: Double Experience Bonus Weekend

Wow.  This is the day after Runescape's Bonus Experience Weekend (October 2012).  The first time ever to give a solid 2X experience during the entire weekend. No decrease over time.  Just a straight double exp.  Did you take good advantage of it?  It worked out pretty well for me.  Got up early on Saturday morning, and spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday playing.

To begin with, I had bought several thousand Mud Runes and Magic Potion(3) flasks.  Enough to get 99 Herblore.  My only mistake was not accounting for the 66 Torstol Leaves in the bank.  I keep the other ingredients on hand, and just make Overloads whenever there's a few Torstols in the bank.  That morning, there were 66 leaves stacked in the bank, so I made Overloads first.  Which meant I ground too  many Mud Runes, and bought too many magic potions.  No problem on the pots, sold 'em back.  But the ground mud runes?  Untradable, and Unstackable.  I've got 538 ground runes that will have to be taken from the bank and dropped, one rune at a time, to get rid of them...

Other than that, it went great.  Took Herblore from 97 to 99.  It was, unfortunately, the only 99 for me this weekend. 
My buddy Sam training prayer behind me.

Did about 3 levels of Crafting, but after spending 30 million on Herblore, I didn't have the money for those last few levels of Crafting.  But I did manage to get from 89 to 92.  That's not horrible.  Especially since I didn't spend any gold on it.  I've been collecting Robust Glass.  Been stockpiling my Red Sandstone for ages.  Not sure how long, because I've used some now and then.  But by Saturday, there were over 7,000 robust glass in the bank.  Been saving it, hoping some day Runescape would have another bonus experience weekend.  Finally, this weekend was it.  Got 90 and 91 immediately, then went for the Herblore 99. 

After that, most of the weekend went to Agility at the Advanced Gnome Agility Course.  Got 96 early on, then it was pure grind.  Late Sunday evening, finally got 97.  I really wanted to keep on, but after all those hours, just couldn't force any more. 
You know, I've always hated the Talent Scout.  When I was just training to kill time, I'd ignore his calls.  Now that I want the experience points, I (grudgingly) let him knock me unconscious over and over.  This really gripes me.  I'm a maxed combat player.  High levels all over the place.  Yet I stupidly fall for "Look! Over there!" every single time.  And we're never allowed to get even.  No option to pick a fight with him.  Even within the Pit, when I've lost and know he's coming for me... and know what he did to me... he can yell "Look! A double rainbow!"

And I'll say "What?  Inside?", look up with a big stupid expression, and get clobbered.  Again.
Spent a few minutes leveling up Mining.  Was only 24k away from level 94.  A quick trip to the Living Rock Caverns took care of that.  Didn't even crank up a Lava Titan.  With double exp, it didn't take much time at all.  This was really just a target of opportunity.  Close to a level, so went for it.
After all that, it was pretty late.  Still had around 1600 robust glass, and decided to see if that would get another level.  At about 12:20 am Monday morning, with 300 robust glass still left, I finally achieved 92 Crafting.

Could have kept on for the next 6 hours or so...  but I had to work in the morning, and common sense prevailed.  Still, that was 8 levels, all of them pretty high level.  Can't wait for the next bonus exp weekend!