TSW: Public Service Announcement – Directions to Blue Mountain and Council of Venice Blue Vendors

It’s become a little worrying to me that one of the major searches that land people on this blog (besides AR/Blade build searchers, to whom I hope this extremely popular post of mine offers at least -some- help) is requests for basic directions to Blue Mountain. Um, okay…

This blog generally goes into wall-of-text screenshot diary experiences and/or analysis, because I roll that way. I hope they’re not too disappointed.

But let it not be said that I do not endeavor to be helpful (while shamelessly pageview-whoring since I seem to be filling a niche.)

1. How do I get to Blue Mountain?

From the Savage Coast:

Seriously though, if you’re asking this question, I’m really not sure if you’re up to facing the zone. So please be a tide careful when you go in there.

2. Where are the Council of Venice Blue Vendors?

See Savage Coast map bit above. See Blue Mountain map fragment below. Keyword: Wabanaki Trailer Park.

I could have shown you my whole map, but that would take away your fun finding the world bosses and lair stuff cos I have map markers sprinkled all over that I’m too lazy to remove.

For the record, I’m still using QL6 green weapons that dropped while I was playing in the Moon Bog with even weaker weaponry. It’s not the end of the (secret) world if you don’t get them immediately.

P.S. Shortest post evah?

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TSW: Short Snippets – Savage Coast to Blue Mountain

General update is that I’m (more or less) done with the Savage Coast and into Blue Mountain.

Though with a count of only 44 quests or so in Kingsmouth Town (where I hear some people are maxing out at upwards of 53+), that’s still leaving me feeling like I’ve missed a bunch of things. The Savage Coast quest count was also around there, 40ish, as I headed into the third zone.

“Normal didn’t work out for you?” You don’t say… Woman, there’s an Ak’ab pacing outside your window.

One of the things that struck me about the Savage Coast was the sense of incompletion, in the sense that there ought to be more to discover about Innsmouth Academy and Sam Krieg and why was it that there was only one investigation mission about the amusement park that I encountered… Amusingly, this feeling turns out to be somewhat justified, as this stuff is still pending in the supposed monthly update that is coming – I am keeping my fingers crossed that Funcom can deliver properly.

I do wonder if they’ve thought this update plan through though. I forsee a flood of people all descending like a swarm of locusts on the ‘new content’ from all corners of whatever zone they are presently in. And as any current TSW player knows, too many people trying to do the same quest can be a not-so-nice thing. Either it all gets completed too quickly with nary a sense of appropriate challenge (as the other guy pwns the quest solution and your own tracker updates while you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on), or it is liable to bug and break.

The Bogeyman instance was… fun. I’d be hearing that some people had problems with it and was anticipating it with some trepidation. It turns out that what the Bogeyman has, minor spoiler warning, is a lot of gimmick dungeon-boss-like mechanics in a solo instance. You have to read very quickly where you’re not supposed to be and don’t stand in the fire (or the glowing green magic patch) on a continuous basis, or you’re liable to get blasted for something ugly. Sometimes, hug him in melee range, which as a blades user, makes me very happy. Sometimes, AoE stuff forms around him and you’d be daft to keep standing in it, so retreat and kite and snipe a bit. Unsoweiter. I like it. Thanks for giving soloers some challenging stuff. (Now if you’d just make the enforced solo instances group-able, so that group-loving sorts can do it in their duos and trios, then we’ll all be very happy. See, as a soloist, I think about the groupies too!)

I was a little too busy moving in the battle to screenshot, but here’s him falling over.

Besides reworking the skills build in the Savage Coast, the other notable improvement that I took the time to do was UI-related, a massive inventory re-sorting. While I’d discovered the ‘new bag’ feature on my own, the resize bag function was not at all obvious, thanks to TSW’s little pixel misalignment problem (everything is a little lower and right of where you’d expect it to be – gives problems with character creation sliders, closing windows with the little X button, and so on.)

Nor had I realized there was a lock feature (shows I don’t read the helpfiles that pop up, eh?), which I immediately took advantage of by arranging my consumable heals and HoTs on the left, and barrier/cc break/buffs on the right of the health and skill bars and locking those.

The rest is just neatness. Stack base, imperfect and normal tier components and runes in order for easy crafting. Weapons in another bag. Arranged my semi-incomplete but steadily building DPS/Tank/Heal talisman collection in a neat 1×7 row on top of each other. They’re still greens because that’s what the quests and monster loot drops. I’m wearing a blue DPS belt I bought off the Council of Venice vendor near Red’s Bait and Tackle, and I’m saving the rest for the Blue Mountain vendor, which I hear has higher quality stuff.

To be honest, I half prefer the greens since I mostly solo, they all come with the necessary hp and don’t give me a headache trying to decide if I should be rummaging around for more tank pieces to offset all the hp I’m losing by equiping a blue DPS thingamajig. It’ll no doubt be easier when I have more blue pieces to play around with, at which point the general 33% improvement would be good, but I’m not losing any sleep over it now.

It’s not a bad state of affairs, that greens seem to be good for casual or loner generalists and blues work for groupy specialists who like to turn themselves into co-dependent glass cannons and heal0rs and meatshields. (I watched one of those glass cannons sitting on 2000 hp try the same Blue Mountain quest I was on. He got overrun and swarmed badly. Three times. He ended up waiting for my rabid soloing 3000hp self to get tired of carving up random mobs in the vicinity and meander over, at which point I ended up tanking for him while he unloaded obliterating death upon the poor swarm.)

Oh, I’m glad to report that my AR/Blade build is still working (more or less) satisfactorily in Blue Mountain. It’s missing a touch more, which is more a weapon/talisman stats sort of deal, needs more hit rating and a bit more SP in the weapon (ramped Blade from 4 to 6, AR still playing catch up at 5) and to up my overall talisman quality (on 4, and QL5ish gear, working my way to 5 and QL6,) rather than a skill build issue.

And so far so good with Blue Mountain in general. It’s an interesting zone, and feels more packed than Savage Coast, to be honest. I’m liking it because it reminds me of City of Heroes’ hazard zone The Hollows. The basic thing people need to realize is that the zone is -dangerous- and to apply care and alertness and aggro radius awareness skills when moving through it, or you’ll soon be finding you’ve misstepped in a gauntlet and now have a train of mobs after your arse.

I think situational awareness is what a number of people are lacking practice with, currently. (Spoilers follow.) The first thing you run into when you zone in is a bridge full of ominous looking corpses. If you follow blindly the side quest you pick up that says ‘track the trail of blood’ leading right through those corpses, it is very easy to over aggro the entire fucking bridge full of zombies who will wake up and… let’s face it. In TSW, we kill 1 or 2 mobs at a time without dying, not 30. This developer trap is put here for a reason, imo, it says, wake up now, the road ahead is not smooth sailing.

And yes, I walked right into it, died once, attempted to pull slowly for about three zombies before I decided, this is not going to get me anywhere, the bridge is obviously a booby trap, maybe I should go look at the other side quest for now. Which is a ‘follow the arrows’ trail quest, into dark surroundings and bear traps. Which I thankfully did not step into because I was jogging along at normal pace, but random sprinter pelting gung ho ahead of me promptly demonstrated the leg chomping functionality of said bits of not-so-harmless scenery. And the resulting Wendigo ambush. Ah ha. Rule number 1, don’t step into traps. Rule number 2, hunt down lurking mobs and kill them before they ambush you. Then proceed on merry way.

(There is also another shortcut route past the bridge, which is really simple, just step right off it into the river below and wander back up again. No aggro whatsoever, assuming you don’t foolishly run pell-mell into the Draug area, and hey, there is a bonus lore shiny nearby too.)

Discovered this in the Savage Coast, but it’s good for Blue Mountain too. Letting the Ak’ab ram itself into a convenient wall as it charges. Was hilarious fun. Positioning, folks, learn how to use it.

Other than that, a lot of Blue Mountain questing seems to be about patiently carving yourself a safe route through areas too crowded to just run past (unless you have nerves of steel and a high sprint speed like a Templar I watched dash straight across the bridge and get to Sarge, trailing 30 rabid zombies after her. One of whom came after me, who had promptly jumped onto a rock and hugged the cliff face in an attempt to get out of the way of the crazy train. Thanks, scummy Templar.)

I did get swarmed just outside the entrance of Blue Mountain mine by way too many yellow mobs, but that was my fault for jumping down a cliff at a convenient location and thinking I could fight a mob in crowded surroundings. Evidently, I couldn’t. Skirting it for now and getting a few more SP before I try again, still lots of side quests yet to be completed.

And knowing when to run away saves lives. Over-aggro? Run. Not kite, they chase you longer if you keep shooting at them. I’ve leapt off cliffs more than once (hooray, no fall damage) to break aggro and managed to save my skin.

And the other skin-saver? Consumables. I don’t know how many players in Blue Mountain are dying because they’re ignoring that they have consumable heals. I suspect at least a few. Some recommend picking up the Turn the Tables heal from the Ability Wheel, which gives a decent self-heal every 30 seconds, I hear. I might pick it up some day for better soloability, but I don’t like the idea of giving up a skill slot for it just yet. Consumables have been sufficient for me so far. And I mostly only use them near other players – because I end up either helping to shoot a mob off them while I’m already finishing fighting one, or some emergency happens because they triggered some quest or other. When I’m on my own, I tend to clear steadily, and pull mobs into an area that is clear enough to use my AoE builder for affliction.

Still working my way through this zone slowly, enjoying the journey. Back with hopefully more screenshots and stuff to talk about a couple days later.

TSW: Early AR/Blades Build Rework for Savage Coast

Speaking of specs, and back to a more normal tone of voice, I’m mildly thankful that I started detecting some problems with my first build while in The Savage Coast.

I hear Blue Mountain is the place most people get a cynical wake up call. I prefer to begin practising revising builds when things are not so critical and I can still gain AP and SP while questing around in the second zone.

I was putting it off because I was expecting to have to do a full and extensive speciality dps, heal, tank gear finding and new skills triple build rework. The situation got a bit critical when I kept wiping on a particular amusement park quest that had to do with surviving waves of things.

(In retrospect, I suspect proper positioning and lots of movement and running would have helped me survive it better, but it was a good excuse to look askance at my current build.)

The good news is that I discovered I could keep putting off the massive gear hunt and build rework to a later date. A bit of skill tweaking of active and passives was sufficient to improve performance in my current mix of 1-2 tank talismans and the rest DPS stuff.

(I haven’t experimented with healing gear yet, not decided on just how much self-healing I’d like to do. So far the large hp reservoir provides enough to get by on mob spawns while constantly doing damage, regen is quick when out of combat and there’s always a spare energy drink heal for emergencies.)

My current two weapons are Assault Rifles and Blades, and though I started from a ranged AR focus, more and more, I’ve been increasingly keen to just keep running in and chopping things up because the blade is such a meat grinder and I get a big kick out of seeing penetrating hits. I guess our preferences show in the end. I’m a melee person at heart.

Nothing like reworking your build while being entertained. The demon and the draug decided to have it out with each other because I didn’t want to play with either of them.

My first build was a sloppy mix of starting abilities from both the AR and Blade inner wheels. It sorta reflected a desire to do both single target (ST) and area of effect (AoE) damage, with the knowing tradeoff that I wouldn’t be healing, I would be glass cannoning. I previously had Anima Shot in at one point, but it felt so slow to run around kiting and Anima Shotting, and I gave it up to try and stack afflicted=>penetration synergy.

Actives

1) Safety Off – AR builder – ST burst damage
2) Fire at Will – AR finisher – AoE damage
3) Delicate Strike -Blades builder- ST damage
4) Blade Torrent – Blades builder with hate – AoE damage
5) Balanced Blade – Blades finisher – AoE damage
6) Dancing Blade – Blades finisher – ST channeled damage
7) Slow the Advance – AR elite – AoE ground-targeted damage with Hindered state

Passives

1) Extra Bullet – bonus bullet to Safety Off
2) Delicate Precision – bonus 10% penetration chance to Delicate Strike
3) Perfect Storm – Blade Torrent adds Afflicted DoT
4) Eagle Eye – 10% bonus AR damage
5) Sharp Blades – 10% bonus Blades damage
6) Dark Potency – Blood passive, improved penetration rating on appying Afflicted
7) Fluid Defense – When you receive a glancing blow, you gain 1 stack of the “Minor Ward” buff.  Whenever you make a Penetrating Hit you gain a buff that increases all damage by 5% for 10 seconds.

 

Okay, it’s a little sloppy on examination now, but it did fine in Kingsmouth. I basically had the capacity to attack from range with AR and apply AoE damage, kite as long as necessary, and then let mobs close in and finish them off with Blades, either AoE a group down, or the single target stuff.

I threw in the option to improve penetration for increased blade damage by spamming blade torrent (hate doesn’t matter if you’re alone) until the five buff stacks had accumulated and then change to single target as needed.

What this build was missing was any semblance of survivability.

Like the poor Draug.

So I went and found a suggested AR/Blades starting build to try out for comparison purposes – Aela’s My First 60 AoE and Survival Healing with AR/Blades. Bear in mind I’m barely 1/3 into the Savage Coast and just started in on the 9 AP outer wheel skills and leery of taking more without any focused plan. I’m leaning towards branching into one or two more inner wheel weapons to give myself more potential flexibility as I later hit Blue Mountain before going too deep into the outer wheel, honestly. So a “My First 60” build sounded more doable, rather than some uber endgame build.

Active Abilities
Blade Torrent (Blade)
Forking Paths (Blade)
Balanced Blade (Blade)
Stunning Swirl (Blade)
Fire at Will (AR)
Fire in the Hole (AR)
Anima Shot

Passive Abilities
Lick Your Wounds (Fist)
Perfect Storm (Blade)
Sharp Blade (Blade)
Expose Weakness  (Blade)
Anima Boost (AR)
Fluid Defenses (Blade)
Immortal Spirit (Blade)

Well, one problem was immediately apparent. I didn’t have enough AP for Forking Paths, but I went and put in all the other abilities and just left Delicate Strike in as a placeholder.

Testing it out on some convenient demons by the Overlook Motel, I liked the smidgen of extra survivability from the self-healing and Anima Shot, even without Forking Paths and without any healing focused gear. I also realized that Fire in the Hole was a very nice ST finisher I was missing from AR, though I found it disorientating to have to keep switching targets to alternate Fire at Will and Fire in the Hole. And that I liked Stunning Swirl a whole lot more than Slow the Advance.

Let’s face it, I’m a melee person. A slow is more useful for a primarily ranged kiter. The grenade AoE in Slow the Advance looked cool, but I wasn’t exploiting the Hindered state much. The Impaired state yields valuable survival time, and it was a convenient interrupt for any mob’s big attacks they were charging up.

I really missed doing sexy single-target damage though.

So I saved the above as an AoE build, pending Forking Paths for completion, and started tweaking.

They were really going at it.

I settled on the following for now, mostly because it’s what I have unlocked, and it lets me go crazy single-target meleeing, with the added bonus of a good single target finisher for AR, while still having basic AoE and ranged kiting options as a fall back plan. And it has some basic affliction=>penetration and impaired synergies.

Actives

1) Grass Cutter – Blades builder – ST damage, bonus damage to afflicted targets
2) Dancing Blade – Blades finisher – ST channeled damage
3) Anima Shot – AR only builder – ST damage, small heal leech
4) Blade Torrent – Blades builder with hate – AoE damage
5) Stunning Swirl – Blades elite – AoE damage, adds Impaired state for 3 seconds, useful interrupt
6) Fire in the Hole – AR finisher – ST damage, simulates delayed grenade, explodes after 2 seconds
7) Fire at Will – AR finisher – AoE damage

Passives

1) Immortal Spirit – HoT on penetrating hit
2) Expose Weakness – Improved penetration chance on applying Impaired
3) Perfect Storm – Blade Torrent adds Afflicted DoT
4) Anima Boost – AR leech boost
5) Sharp Blades – 10% bonus Blades damage
6) Fatal Flourish – Blades passive, improved penetration rating on appying Afflicted (Dark Potency is identical to this)
7) Fluid Defense – When you receive a glancing blow, you gain 1 stack of the “Minor Ward” buff.  Whenever you make a Penetrating Hit you gain a buff that increases all damage by 5% for 10 seconds.

 

The basic idea is to snipe with Anima Shot to build the AR combo (Blade already starts out a full 5/5) and dump Fire in the Hole to finish. The mob usually closes into melee range by this point. (For a ranged mob, you can continue sniping with these two skills and laugh maniacally and slowly wear it down while not being hurt much, thanks to the leech, or just close the gap when you’re bored.)

Dancing Blade to dump the 5/5 Blades combo. Then Blade Torrent to build up improved penetration rating stacks, and affliction and Stunning Swirl to mess with the mob’s big attack or just impair for the heck of it. Fire in the Hole to use up the AR combo, Dancing Blade to use up Blade combo, both of which will roughly finish at the same time amusingly.

Grass Cutter now for more damage, mixed with a Blade Torrent or two to keep up affliction and penetration stacks and the two finishers whenever necessary. Mob is usually dead before the grenade can hit.

For mob clumps, fall back on Stunning Swirl, spamming Blade Torrent and Fire at Will. Clean up remnants with single target damage.

Retreat and kite with Anima Shot and Fire in the Hole if really running out of hp, which can add a couple precious seconds of hanging on time, but not an endless amount. Supplement with a healing energy drink if thinking correctly and not in a panic.  Should have been running from such an awful mob in the first place if the health bar wasn’t denting initially on first contact.

So far so good in the Savage Coast. Should be able to tide me over picking up a couple more inner wheel stuff for another two or three weapons, and then I’ll maybe look back at the outer wheel stuff and think about what else can be upgraded and improved on as Blue Mountain approaches.

 

P.S. Rift Martyr 1. Draug 0.