Time for an old-fashioned news roundup!
On the evening of 23 March, 2005, the powerful armies of Cestus Dei confronted and defeated the Overlord Mata Muram. This final boss of Omens of War marked a huge step in the progression of high-end Everquest raids. Cestus Dei is also responsible for the first defeat of Tunat Muram, the final boss of the Gates of Discord
expansion. I can't imagine the number of cross server recruitment requests they receive, but I bet it's a lot.
The strategy for defeating Mata Muram went quite far outside the traditional CH rotation / DPS strategies we grew used to in the times when raiding was young. Dei's description of the event paints the picture of a very unforgiving encounter that, while still requiring good equipment, requires extreme attention by every member of the raid force. No matter what your gear, this raid sounds like a nightmare of coordination. Here's a quote from Cestus Dei's website.
"On the surface, he’s a pretty standard boss. He does damage that’s more or less appropriate for a target at his stage of the game, and has two large instant-respawn minibosses with similar damage that must be controlled. Smaller adds spawn periodically that multiply themselves the longer they stay alive. Not all that bad on the face of it. His trick comes in the form of probably the most punishing mechanic that’s ever been tried in this game: periodically, a single person on the raid gets an emote that only they can see. They have a few seconds to react to it and cast a spell just for the encounter- if they succeed, he’s somewhat weakened. If they fail, he powers up the point where it might not guarantee a raid wipe, but in the few seconds that it even takes for everyone to realize someone has screwed up, probably everyone near him is dead."
"Mata Muram is a boss about pure disruption and chaos. He silences, knock-backs, stuns, fizzle-curses, slows cast time, mana drains, snares, and that’s just getting started."
The Overlord's last words? "There are other worlds than these...".
Last week, SOE posted the infamous Class Re-envisioning document. Feedback, as you can imagine, was mixed. A few more interesting changes, like the Druid's state feature that switches between healer or blaster, got people quite excited. A lot of the agenda-wielding class voices will never be happy until their beloved class rises to the top of the 16.
A patch scheduled for early April will bring many of these changes to first light and then we can begin to see the true results, but a lot of the suggested fixes should be well received. Some, however, will never be happy no matter what SOE does.
For a long time, I felt that all classes at most levels should have some method to return quickly to safety when real life rears its ugly head. Newer games such as Worlds of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and Everquest Online Adventures give new players some method to return home. In the beginning of April, so will Everquest.
24 hours after one logs out from Everquest, a "return home" button will appear on your character select screen. Pressing it returns your character safely home no matter what horrible place you camped out at. This meets the needs of players who, for many reasons, have to leave very shortly and don't have a good method to get home. Some bring up gate potions or the Origin AA as an argument against such a change, but those features are not available except to the rich or the powerful. Something had to be given to the level 35 ranger of Kaesora who had no other way out. This is a great change.
Another less useful feature restores a character to full hitpoints and mana after a character has been logged out for one hour. Considering most characters can restore much faster than that, even twice as fast now that we have the guild hottub, I don't see much of a purpose, but it will do little harm.
Last week began the month-long celebration for Everquest's sixth year. A new scavenger hunt quest across Kunark rewarded many with a new ten-charge 30-minute experience doubling potion. I'm convinced I will spend five clicks accidentally sitting in the hottub and another five just before my group wipes out.
With the anniversary comes fabled mobs. Over a hundred mobs, many in Kunark, grew greatly in powered and earned the title Fabled. Fabled Venril Sather tore down his opponents with a melee attack for somewhere around 5100. The Fabled Overking in Chardok dropped a 250 hp and mana breastplate with a clickable invis that had most clerics drooling like St. Bernards. A few players pontificated that six years from now, the Fabled Mata Muram will hit folks for somewhere in the 10 million range.
On 22 March, SOE began merging four of the blue servers down to two. Antonia Bayle and Kane Bayle merged down to Antonia Bayle. Solusek Ro and Bristlebane merged down to Bristlebane. I expect we will see more of these mergers in the future but the severity of such changes warrant a slower approach.
Time for a shamless plug. Over on Caster's Realm, I wrote an article called "Class, Equipment, and Encounter Balance" that discusses the complex balance between these three variables. My main conclusion is that class balance alone isn't a factor to be considered without levels, equipment, and encounters coming into play. Anyone who reads my pompous prose won't be surprised by the article. I expect to write a couple more articles for CR soon including "Why Soloing is Evil" and "Why Play Everquest?", a rewrite of an older article of mine that still makes the rounds once in a while.
And with that shameless plug out of the way, I leave you to enjoy this month's festivities and look forward to the changes coming soon. Remember: All things serve the beam.
24 March 2005