January 2, 2010
Yes, we’re still here. Things have been pretty chaotic lately with work and the holidays coming up, but we’ve still been playing Aion regularly.
Lately, I’ve been working on leveling through the upper 30s and having just recently hit 39, I still have a ways to go in the process. Many hours spent in Mist Mane grinding, and I still have many more quests to complete there which should be good for quite a bit of experience when I finally get to turn them in. I’ve also been working through some of the campaign quests I left lying around, and generally clearing out my quest log in the Abyss when I can. Right now, I’m taking some time to focus on gathering again since my potion supply has dwindled and I’ve lagged behind severely in my Aether Extraction skill.
Anyway, with more time spent grouping and hopefully more opportunities to group for instances coming up, I’ve been debating once again on which Stigma I want to pick up for my open spot. I’d left it for two reasons: because I wasn’t entirely certain that I wanted to get Curse of Roots, and because the general cost of the Stigma Stones was extremely high on the broker in comparison to my kinah supply at the time. Now, cost is less of an issue, but I’m still not completely sold on Curse of Roots.
Let’s take a quick glance at some of the the stigmas available for Sorcerers:
- Lumiel’s Wisdom I – Level 20 – For 15 sec, you can use skills with only 50% of the required MP.
- Curse of Roots I – Level 20 – Transforms the target into a tree for 20 sec. The transformed target cannot move or act, and its All Elemental Defenses increases. Once the target is attacked, the effect disappears immediately.
- Zikel’s Wisdom I – Level 28 – Increases your Magical Skill Boost by 300 for 15 sec.
- Curse of Weakness I – Level 28 – Curses a target within 25m. For 1 min, each time they use magical skills, they take magic damage equal to 5% of their Max HP. This damage will not exceed 500.
- Wind Cut Down I – Level 31 – Deals 687 magical wind damage to a target within 25m of you, causing it to bleed for 6 sec.
- Vaizel’s Wisdom I – Level 37 – Reduces your skill casting time by 25% for 15 sec.
The first on the list, Lumiel’s Wisdom, is the first stigma that we get as sorcerers. I still use it a lot for grinding and soloing, as well as in instances to keep my mana supply up without having to use potions repeatedly. The other stigma that I picked up early on was Zikel’s Wisdom, for those times when you need a mob to die faster or for adding some damage when out killing Elyos. I find these two to be very useful in different situations, even though they are on the same 30 second cooldown.
Taking a look at the others, we have Curse of Roots, Curse of Weakness, Wind Cut Down and Vaizel’s Wisdom. Curse of Roots adds yet another form of CC to our arsenal. Even though we already have Sleep, Root and Aether’s Hold, having another more permanent crowd control ability that also keeps ranged targets silenced is extremely useful in many situations, both PvE and PvP alike. Many sorcerers tend to pick this one up early on and use it quite often. Curse of Weakness does damage to targets as they cast, however, the damage done is fairly limited and so is its usefulness. Personally, I’d recommend passing on this one. Wind Cut Down is more useful, adding a bleed to targets who try to run. This one seems more useful for PvP, and I’ve even contemplated picking it up myself, however I’m not entirely sure how useful it is since I’ve never seen anyone using it. Finally, Vaizel’s Wisdom is yet another stigma on the same cooldown as both Lumiel’s Wisdom and Zikel’s Wisdom, but this time it reduces our casting speed by 25% on spells.
I’m still leaning towards picking up Vaizel’s Wisdom if I can, I’d like to be able to dish out more damage in less time in PvP situations personally. Curse of Roots is tempting though since I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve had an extra mob or player around that Root or Aether’s Hold simply wasn’t useful enough to take care of. Of course, the latest broker prices on both of these has me waiting yet again. The last time I checked, Vaizel’s Wisdom was 3 million kinah on our server, and Curse of Roots was around 500 000 kinah, both far overpriced compared to what they had been before. What are your thoughts as a Sorcerer? Which stigmas do you prefer for PvE and PvP purposes?
November 18, 2009
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 of this article here.
Last week I briefly discussed the variable factors in terms of in game goals and play time, including profession leveling, gathering and questing. I’d like to start out by discussing the latter two of these in a bit more detail considering they will make up the bulk of my in game time and affect the planning stages the most for those of us who have limited availability and are more casual players overall.
The main factors in my decision making process for questing versus gathering were the size of the quest hub I was currently working on and the current state of my gathering skill in comparison to the nodes in the areas nearby. If I felt like I was behind on gathering skill, or knew that I needed to level it up before I moved into a new area, I would focus more on gathering and less on questing. Although the two are not mutually exclusive, sometimes it became apparent that ignoring the quests for a short time and hunting nodes to gather would be more beneficial than focusing on the quest goals. During these periods of time, I would simply farm the nearby mobs for XP gains while waiting for nodes to respawn.
For the most part however, questing is generally better suited to longer gaming sessions and gathering / grinding is better suited to shorter ones. The exception here would be the smaller quest hubs that are restricted to a fairly limited area as they can usually be completed in shorter time frames. Always remember that you can skip a quest hub and save the larger ones for another day when you do have the time to go complete them.
Looking back on my experience, I leveled from 1-16 solo for the most part. It is entirely feasible to level up further solo as well. There were a few times when I found myself killing mobs several levels ahead of myself. As a sorcerer, the main thing I had to keep in mind was that since I’m fairly squishy, playing carefully in situations like these was of utmost importance. Dying is both a costly and time consuming mistake (and one that I’ve made many times). Making sure to take my time and think strategically, I was able to work through them with little to no problems at all. The last few levels in this range become the hardest, just be sure to play carefully and not to rush, and you will be able to work through them alone.
When you hit roughly level 18, you’ll want to work on the quests relating to the Mau and the Black Claw area. For this, you will need to find a group (and it is most likely your first major group experience in Aion). It also means you will want to be sure to set aside a larger chunk of time to play. The area isn’t too large, but the elites are tough and the quests take some time to work through. I had a ton of fun here in the beta, and can say its well worth the effort if you can plan for the time to head over to the area with a group to check it out.
At this point, I’ll have to admit that the next few levels really tested my patience with this game. Going from roughly level 20 to 25 was very rough in my experience, and involved a lot of solo grinding that I wasn’t initially prepared for. Looking back on it I could have probably done it better by strategically choosing mobs that yield the highest XP possible and focusing my efforts, but my haphazard method at the time made it more painful that it had to be. Needless to say, I’m much more used to grinding in Aion and far more focused now, but for those of you who may still be in this range fear not; once you finally hit level 25 the process becomes easier for a while and much more enjoyable when you get to enter the Abyss!
I have a few more tips for casual and hardcore players alike:
- Leveling professions is both costly and time consuming. I recommend doing it in short bursts and make sure you do the first free work order repeatedly, as Middea has already mentioned in another post.
- Make sure you focus on gathering as you go if it is important to you. Going back to do this later on can be extremely annoying!
- Off peak times are excellent for farmed quests, waiting on spawns, drop rates and other tasks that are difficult to accomplish during peak hours. If you can and have the time, leave these for those times when there are fewer players around to compete with.
Overall, my main strategy was to know in advance how much time I had available for the day so that I would have a plan of attack before I even logged on. This helped immensely considering I tend to get sidetracked quite easily and can become distracted with legion chat, browsing the broker or selling items, or just randomly wandering the world around me. It isn’t exactly uncommon for me to spend hours in a game and not feel like I’ve accomplished much if anything at all, so being prepared and organized is crucial to keeping my focus while playing an MMO casually. Of course, this strategy is only really important if you are trying to level in an efficient manner. If you simply wish to enjoy the game at your own pace, feel free to do so.
November 7, 2009
A few weeks ago I wrote about my debate as to whether or not Aion would be worth the purchase and monthly subscription fee considering my limited availability to play. This is a follow-up post outlining my time in game and hopefully providing some tips on how to plan and maximize your own game experience. As always, any feedback is appreciated and we would like to hear about your own experience with Aion so far!
So, what has changed after my initial debate? Well, after a little thought and some discussion, it became clear to me that I did actually want to play the game. Speaking with Middea about the upcoming release, the latest news, and everything else surrounding it only made me that much more excited to check it out. On top of this, there were a few factors that convinced me that it was actually worth my money to purchase the game and pay the $14.99 US ( approximately $16.36 Canadian currently) monthly subscription fee. Middea’s breakdown of the cost of entertainment, as well as our decision to play casually and make sure we enjoy ourselves instead of rushing to the end game both weighed fairly heavily in the final decision.
And so I promptly pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition and have been playing since the head start fairly often, although somewhat sporadically. Some days I play for a few hours, other days I can log on for an hour maximum, and sometimes (fairly often recently) I can’t even play at all. Even with these limitations, and the initially long queues, I’m confident I’ve been maximizing my time in game in order to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself, and most importantly, I’ve been able to have fun while doing so.
So, what’s the secret to playing an MMO casually? Well, there are three main points to keep in mind while reading this:
- Be patient. MMO’s are designed and developed as a time sink, just like any good role-playing game.
- Plan your play time. I’ve come up with a few points that hopefully will help you with this.
- Have fun! After all, that is the entire point of playing, right?
It would seem that the first point should stand fairly well on its own without the need to further clarify. However, thinking back on the role-playing games (RPGs) I’ve played, sometimes its not so obvious that the games were intended to provide hundreds of hours of entertainment. In the case of MMORPGs, this usually is extended to thousands of hours. I know for a fact that I played WoW for well over 200 days… Just keep that in mind when you approach Aion and understand that there’s no reason to experience everything immediately. The game will be around for years to come and you will have time to work your way through it. The important thing here is to remember to start off with an idea of what you want to accomplish in game early on, and set the rest aside for later.
Once you know what is important to you, you can easily start to plan your time spent in game. For me, there were a few things that I had on my list from playing in a couple of the beta events. First, I wanted to make sure my gathering skills were kept up to the appropriate level with the content I was working on. This was important for a few quests, and I knew that it would help out later on with the professions I had chosen to focus on. For professions, I decided that Alchemy and Cooking would be important to me, but the former was the most important for my class and general interest. So, part of my plan was to level Alchemy immediately as I leveled my character, and set Cooking aside until later on considering the general expense, both in terms of time and kinah, to level a profession. Finally, the leveling process itself was important to an extent (as it always is), so I made sure I had an idea of how I wanted to approach questing and grinding at my casual pace.
Considering those three goals, there were a few things that became immediately apparent to me. My profession leveling could be done at any time, and didn’t have a time constraint on it. This made it an ideal choice for shorter periods of game time. I also knew that the gathering goal could potentially set me back a bit in terms of time spent questing, which was something to consider, but essentially a variable factor dependent on node spawns, general activity level in game, and other factors that were out of my control. The questing and leveling process itself is fairly variable as well, but can be controlled to a certain extent with a bit of thought put into it.
To be continued…
Be sure to check out A Casual Approach to Aion (Part 2) for more information on time management and planning while leveling. In the meantime, make sure you’re having fun!
August 12, 2009
Alright, well, its time we had the logical follow up to Middea’s well written article on the healing classes. Although I was tempted to play a healer from my past experience in WoW, I decided that I wanted a bit of a change and to continue with my more recent DPS role. With that said, I’m going to initially try a mage out.
The logical question now is, sorcerer or spiritmaster? Which do I choose?
So far, I’ve played a sorcerer in the North American Aion betas and I’ve really enjoyed the class. Even with its wide range of crowd control abilities for slowing and rooting mobs, as well as hard hitting spells to destroy them before they reach you, I’ve still managed to get myself killed far too many times. Having extremely low health isn’t really a good thing for someone who plays as recklessly as I do at times. Despite this, I like the class design and play style.
From what I’ve read, the low HP of mages in Aion also makes them fairly weak and easy targets in PvP. I can’t really backup this statement yet since the only PvP I experienced in the beta was a couple of Elyos who were just outside one of the Asmodian towns ganking us while we were questing. At the time, I didn’t stand a chance and I wasn’t interested in focusing on the PvP elements of the game, so after a few quick attempts at getting revenge I decided to run and hide.
As far as which class to choose at level 10, I’ve currently decided to remain as a sorcerer.
Spiritmasters have their summoned elemental spirits for support. Having the pet out at all times is essentially a must if you want to kill mobs efficiently, and managing the pet’s attacks is also important for increasing your damage done. One potential drawback of the spirits is that they do not fly with you, they remain on the ground (with the exception of the Energy of Fire summons). I’m sure highly effective players will have their spirit on the ground hitting specific targets and manage their pet well while they are in the air focusing on either the same target or potentially others. I know for a fact that this is more than I can personally handle, especially in a fast-paced PvP environment. However, if you like to have a pet and managing it’s attacks, then this may be the class for you.
The other noteworthy aspects of the spiritmaster class are its ability to remove buffs, the debuffs it has and the dots and direct damage spells available. With a potential to reduce the strength, combat speed, lower resistances and decrease the flight time of targets, a spiritmaster will be very important to have around for group PvP as well as in a PvE environment. Although they do have many of the early spells that sorcerers do for damage, most of your time as a spiritmaster will most likely be spent applying debuffs, removing buffs and placing dots on targets while focusing on your pet instead of using damaging spells with a longer cast time.
The sorcerer, on the other hand, is pretty much the opposite end of the caster DPS spectrum. Without a pet, a sorcerer’s focus is on casting their damaging spells. These range from dots to direct damage nukes and AoE spells, and also vary from frost to fire. Basically, the focus here is to do as much damage as possible with the spells available to you. If you like casting and doing high amounts of damage, the sorcerer is probably a better choice for you. However, you will have to keep track of the cooldowns on your spells in order to optimize your casting rotation while playing keep away with the enemy. Slowing and rooting effects are available to both of the mage classes and are important to each.
A spiritmaster is very much a utility class, however, they do have an important role to play. If you like having a pet and multitasking watching buffs and debuffs while doing a little damage, then this is the class for you. If you prefer to focus more on damage, high single target DPS and the ability to AoE mobs, then you should consider a sorcerer instead.
August 7, 2009
Coming from WoW as a priest, I’m finding the easiest way to compare a cleric and a chanter in play styles is to compare them to discipline and holy priests prior to the conversion of +healing and +spell damage to +spell power. This does not mean that you should expect to play either in Aion, I mean, could you imagine someone seriously trying to melee as a discipline priest? Eeps!
A Discipline Priest can heal effectively by preventing a ton of damage done to them and group members. They maintain the ability to level solo with next to no downtime or long waits to kill mobs due to built in mana conservation talents. In the same way, a Chanter has mantras that prevent damage that needs to be healed.
A Chanter’s strength is that they are a strong hybrid — they can heal, dps, and buff. As a Chanter you will be in melee range smacking the mobs, keeping up your mantras, and single target healing as needed. The Chanters main options for healing are a strong hot (that overwrites a Cleric’s hots) and a single target cast heal. A Chanter also buffs the groups stats which in turn increases the groups dps and defenses. Mostly in a group setting the Chanter will be contributing to the group dps, and occasionally throwing out a heal or two.
A Holy Priest is not as strong solo because their shields aren’t buffed and does not hit back. The Cleric has nice survivability when solo’ing but still requires a break between mobs while a Chanter can go from mob to mob.
Both the holy priest and Cleric’s strength is in their versatility in heals. Clerics have single-target heals, group heals, instant heals, battle resurrections, a self resurrection, and hots. As a Cleric your first and main priority will be to heal. While in a group, expect to be standing still and healing constantly, your dps isn’t significant enough to waste your MP on, though throwing in a stun or root might still be something to watch for.
In instances and PVP both appear that they will hold their own. Keep in mind when picking how you play; do you solo a lot, pvp, instance, farm, etc. If you prefer standing in the back and having a wide array of choices to heal with-including AoE heals, go Cleric. If you prefer to be in the middle of the action, with mantras and other such preventative measures to require less reactionary heals, go Chanter.
Pick which one fits YOUR play style best. Both will be used in all aspects of the game as they each offer something different. Your effectiveness and enjoyment are tied to how much you enjoy playing your class, so keep that in mind when choosing!
Personally, I’m a healbot and I love a variety of choices to heal with. I’m going Cleric. Rawr!
Are you rolling a priest? If so, Chanter or Cleric? Why?
If you’re torn between Rangers and Sorcerers, check out Weekly Ranger’s article here.
August 4, 2009
A common question from people playing in the closed beta for the first time this weekend was “What are power shards?” The tooltip on them is not very helpful in answering the question.
The very first power shard one stumbles on is the:
Minor Power Shard
Available for Level 1 or higher
A monster’s soul was sealed within this stone. Using this stone increases the weapon damage by 10 points.
The highest level one increases weapon damage by 35 points.
However, when you right click the shards, it only places them into the smaller box next to your weapon and does not activate them.
In order to activate the power shards you need to press the “B” key (by default). Each individual hit with that weapon will do additional damage based on the type of power shard being used. Each hit also will consume a shard, so they get used up quickly.
While the damage increase is not anything to write home about, it is an increase in damage. They drop from mobs often enough that using them situationally might be in your best interest.
Anyone who melees should be sure to have them equipped for those “oh shit” moments. If you are a dual wielder, you can place shards in each weapon. If you wield a 2 hander, you cannot use shards in both slots to double buff your weapon. Power shards only work for melee attacks, including shield attacks.
You can buy power shards from General Goods vendors in stacks of 50 or you can loot them off of mobs.
Being able to activate and deactivate the power shards by pressing “B” you can choose when you want to use them. You can therefore choose to only activate them in life and death situations or use them all the time. You can hoard them to save for pvp battles or what ever you choose.
Did this help you any? Still unsure of something regarding Power Shards?
July 24, 2009
This past beta weekend has let us take a glimpse at the gameplay in this upcoming MMO up to level 25, finally giving us a bit of a taste for the PvP elements of the game as well.
With the fourth closed beta event behind us, we now have two more to look forward to; the July 31st weekend will be opening up levels 26 to 30, and a yet to be determined focus for the final closed beta on August 14th. For those of us who have been eagerly following any and every detail we can on this game, those weekends have been marked off on our calendars for some time now and we can’t wait to get what little game time we can in before the September 22 North American release date.
Let’s quickly run over the basics for this game. Aion is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) with two playable factions, the Asmodians and the Elyos. Within these two factions, there are four main playable classes: warriors, scouts, mages and priests. Each main class will choose between two subclasses when they specialize at level 10, making the true class list consist of: templars, gladiators, assassins, rangers, sorcerers, spiritmasters, clerics and chanters. There is currently a lot of information on the factions and the lore behind them, as well as the classes and their abilities elsewhere if you are interested in the finer details.
So what is it that sets this game apart from the rest? Well, my initial thoughts upon seeing it were that I couldn’t believe just how good the game actually looks. The graphics in Aion are stunning to say the least; the characters look incredible, the level of detail on gear is second to none and the environments are absolutely amazing. I haven’t seen any other MMO to this day that looks even remotely close to as good as this one. You will have to see it to truly understand and once you do it will leave you feeling slightly let down when you return to other games you may be currently playing.
The level of detail available on the character customization is also nearly mind boggling. You can start with the preset base features and pick and choose different combinations to form the character you will be playing. If you’re like me and somewhat lazy, you may be tempted to stop there; I urge you not to though and to take some time to play around with the finer details. It’s quite unbelievable how much you can change and to what degree you can really create your own character that will be unique in the Aion world.
Besides the stunning graphics and customization, what really got me about Aion as a whole was simply how fun it was to level. For the first time ever I actually found myself enjoying the questing process. Not only do the campaign quests do a great job advancing the story along, but even doing the optional side quests does not seem like a chore. I can’t recall a single quest that I really did not like during my time in the beta so far, which says a lot considering my normal feelings about questing in MMOs.
To put this into perspective, I leveled my druid in World of Warcraft from about 35 to 60 by instancing over and over again just to avoid questing. When the first expansion came out, I chose to do the same to get the druid from level 60 to 70. I would have paid any amount of in game currency in order to avoid doing a quest. I found them monotonous, boring, dull and generally an annoyance. I was all about playing for the end game content and considered the process of getting there a job I didn’t like to do. None of these statements apply to the quests so far in Aion. I’m eagerly awaiting getting back in game to level some more and figure out what quests await us.
With visual queues on the map to help you find the item or person you are looking for, an easy to use map overlay, and many other sweet, simple interface refinements, Aion makes the entire process of questing simple and painless. There is also a channel system that provides you with instances of the world server; if one quest or mob is being farmed you can simply hop channels to find an emptier instance of the area to play in. Basically, you’ll never really get stuck or bored for too long at all.
A few other quick things that I liked about Aion were:
- The flight system: Not only do the wings on the characters look incredibly cool, but the timed flight adds an element to PvP that will be interesting to see in action. Being able to cast in the air is amazingly fun even this early in the game.
- A varied PvPvE experience: Most of us cannot wait to check out PvP once we see more of the game and get a chance to get to the Abyss. So far, I’ve only encountered some random Elyos (we chose to be Asmodians) while questing who were out to have some fun killing us.
- Private stores: They add an interesting and unique twist on how you sell items. I think it’s interesting from an in game economy perspective and also quite fun.
From my short time playing Aion, I really do think this is one game you should take a look at if you haven’t already. It’s everything that other games haven’t been lately: stunning, exciting, different, but most of all it’s incredibly fun.