Spontaneous cooperation for the win!

The formup for Monday’s public fleet looked promising. Not only did we have quite a lot of Wolves, our mainline DPS ship of the day, and enough Deacons for reps, we also had three Command Destroyers, two Hyenas and a Keres for support. I joked that when our fleet looks this good we probably won’t find any targets to kill at all.

Indeed our roam started pretty underwhelming. Within the first hour we only caught one lone Stabber.

Desperate for a fight our FC, Captain Cean, contacted our friends at EVE University. When I say friends I mean that we like and respect what they do, and when we meet one of their fleets by chance we normally only engage them when we feel that they have at least a fighting chance. We are pirates, but we are also fully aware that EVE’s biggest problems with player retention are it’s steep learning curve and it’s sometimes pretty hostile environment. Chasing newbros away from the game by mercilessly slaughtering them time and again doesn’t help anyone.

From time to time we arrange scrimmages so that they can have a fleet fight at more or less even odds. It’s good training for them and additional content for us.

This time they had a Caracal fleet already going and were willing to meet and fight us. We turned around and headed for the rendezvous system, eagerly anticipating the fight.

After a couple jumps our scout suddenly reported a neutral gang just one system ahead of us. They had a fleet composition very similar to ours. Since some Caldari Militia pilots were among them we suspected this might be our arch enemy Chichou again. Cean didn’t hesitate for even a second, we gave chase full speed ahead.

We caught up with them at the Oicx gate in Vlillirier. Some had jumped already, about ten still sat at the gate. Cean fired his Jump Field Generator as soon as we landed in hopes of booshing at least some of them off the gate with us.

EVE Chichou/IVY fight 1
We caught eight of them and the fight was on!

Then shit got real.

What looked like some easy kills at first turned into a serious slugfest as the overview filled with more and more hostiles quickly. Their fleet was much bigger than what we had seen, and our position 100km off the gate didn’t slow their reinforcements down much. They probably used their own Command Destroyers to jump right on top of us, I honestly wasn’t able to pay attention to everything that was going on. Chichou was indeed among them.

EVE Chichou/IVY fight 2
Setting drones on the primary target and keeping Chichou tackled while taking damage myself.

Despite our early kills the tide began to turn. They outnumbered us a good bit and still had six of their seven logis left on the field. We switched targets often but had a hard time breaking our primaries, each kill took quite a while. Meanwhile we lost four Wolves, one Hyena and the Keres in the course of less than three minutes.

When we also lost one of our Deacons it sure looked like we were going to get wiped out.

Suddenly another group of neutrals appeared on grid. More reinforcements for Chichou or a third party looking for easy kills?

EVE Chichou/IVY fight 4
EVE Uni to the rescue. Never been happier to see these guys.

As it turned out Cean had kept Uni’s FC in the loop. And why wouldn’t he? After all they were waiting for us to come and fight them, and were about to get robbed of that opportunity. So they decided to give us a helping hand. Cheers guys!

With their help we gained the upper hand again and made short work of the remaining enemy forces. Some managed to get away, but we made very sure their General wouldn’t be able to.

EVE Chichou/IVY fight 5
Chichou awaiting his demise.

We saved him for last. Unfortunately his pod escaped, but it felt really good anyway. Cean and I were especially pleased, because he got top damage and I got the final blow.

Lakisa got her whoring-drone on him in time too.

As expected we didn’t have to go without a hefty dose of salt from him either. While we looted the field he ranted in local about us having set a trap for him and bringing the perfect counter for his doctrine. Yeah, right. Never mind the fact that we did nothing of the sort, or that he started using ‘his’ Wolf doctrine only after seeing us use it effectively, accusations like that are really grand when they come from someone who never takes a fight if he doesn’t have the clear advantage.

Besides, the Battle Report shows that even with EVE Uni’s and our fleets combined we didn’t quite match the numbers he had. Again.

Which makes us the clear winners of a relatively even fight. Thank you EVE Uni for being the cool guys you are! Thank you Chichou for…not running away quickly enough this time, I guess. Be sure we’ll hunt you down whenever we get the opportunity.

Wrapping things up here’s a screenshot of the fight with the UI turned off and zoomed in a good bit. Unfortunately it’s still hard to make out any details, but at least it looks pretty.

EVE Chichou/IVY fight 3


Moon mining Part II

Yesterday we met up again to mine some ore. Since last week I got the Mining Director and Industrial Command Ships skills to level 4 each, so the fleet boosts I applied were a bit stronger this time around. The biggest chunks of training are still to come though,  since learning a skill from level 4 to 5 takes substantially longer than levels 1 through 4 combined.

I made sure to be in the right system at the right citadel in time as I wanted to keep my promise to deliver screenshots of a chunk of moon being blown up.

EVE Athanor charging
The Athanor charging it’s weapon.
EVE Athanor firing
Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational…errr…refinery.

EVE Athanor Explosion 1

EVE Athanor Explosion 2

EVE Athanor Explosion 3

EVE Athanor Explosion 4
Asteroid belt taking shape.

It’s quite a sight. After numerous engine upgrades over the years the game looks pretty great, explosions are no exception. Too bad the game is played with the camera zoomed out very far most of the time. It’s necessary to keep track of everything that’s happening, but it’s a shame nonetheless.

We weren’t as many people as last time, so it took a good bit longer to mine everything of worth. Every now and then someone would join Teamspeak in hopes of some PvP happening. We had some laughs as every ensuing conversation went like this: “Hey guys, what’s happening?” “We’re mining, mate.” “Uhhh…I gotta go.”

We hung in there until the end. I played a bit of Black Desert, read some blogs and prepared this piece on the second monitor while keeping a half eye on the EVE client, changing position when rocks were depleted or watching the scanners when a neutral showed up in local. A low-excitement activity for sure, but also very low-maintenance.

In the end I had mined minerals worth about 150 million ISK. Considering that the Porpoise has but a fraction of a Procurer’s or Retriever’s mining capabilities, especially because I can’t use Tech II mining drones yet, that’s not too shabby in my book.

Even so I look forward to blow stuff up again during tomorrow’s public fleet. In the end it’s all about the pew pew!

Moon mining for fun and profit

I started playing EVE Online on December 22nd, 2005. Since then I had used a mining laser to extract ore from an asteroid exactly once, and even that was just two years ago when I made a new alt and tried the revised New Player Experience, which included learning how to mine.

I had never actually mined for real, is what I’m saying. This changed last Friday.

In October 2017 CCP launched the Lifeblood expansion, which included a drastic overhaul of moon mining. Instead of collecting the ore passively the new player owned structures blow a chunk out of the moon in question and blast that into many smaller pieces, essentially creating an asteroid belt that has to be actively mined by players.

We placed a couple of Athanor refinieries at moons in our region of space, and to reap the benefits we now have to form mining fleets regularly. Some pirates we are, eh?

EVE Athanor
One of our Athanor refineries. The beam on the bottom left is pulling a chunk of ore towards us.

A proper mining fleet needs fleet boosts, just as a combat fleet does. The sub-capital ship for that purpose is the Porpoise Industrial Command Ship. Since I already had all non-mining related fleet boost skills maxed out I thought what the hell, I’ll learn those skills too and contribute to our mining efforts.

I managed to get the Industrial Command Ship skill as well as the Mining Director skill each to level 3 ahead of Friday, allowing me to fly the ship with reasonable stats and use the Tech II version of the mining command burst modules.

We met in tethering range of our Athanor and waited for the citadel’s pilot to push the button and blow the asteroid to pieces. I had the game’s UI turned off and my finger hovering over the print screen button. Alas, there was nothing to be seen, although the chatter on Teamspeak suggested that it should have been. As it turned out I was sitting all alone at the wrong citadel. Doh! I’ll make sure to take screenshots of it next time and post them here.

When I finally met up with the fleet the asteroid belt was already waiting for us.

EVE Athanor&Moon
More like asteroid sphere or asteroid ball. Asteroid slice maybe?

Since we had two Porpoises we split up into two groups with one booster each and warped to seperate clusters of valuable ore. Boosts were applied, and mining lasers and drones began their work.

EVE Mining1
Blue beams for mining lasers, orange beams for drones. My Porpoise right in the middle.

Granted, the process isn’t the most exciting or engaging. Asteroids are mined until depleted, then the fleet moves on to the next batch of rocks. When a ship’s ore hold is full it warps to the citadel, unloads and warps back in. This repeats until we have scooped up all valuable ore. We also have some defenses in place of course, which I won’t disclose here.

It isn’t nearly as boring as I would have thought though. The main reason is of course that we do it as a group, chattering about whatever is on our minds and keeping ourselves entertained. As long as at least some people keep watch we can even play something else or watch videos in the meantime.

I really didn’t think that the day might come, but, yeah, I’m mining in EVE Online. Well, moon mining to be precise. In my opinion it’s a fun group activity that rewards a nice sum of ISK for your corporation and/or individual pilots. I wouldn’t want to do it every day, but enjoyed in moderation it’s a neat and rewarding variation of the standard routines.

I’ll continue to train the related skills until they’re maxed out, and I’m looking forward to our next op.

On randomness in MMOs

A great deal of gameplay elements in many video games are chance based, especially so in MMORPGs. Since those have their roots in Pen & Paper RPGs and board games more than skill based arcade games this isn’t actually a big surprise. Instead of dice being rolled the game’s random number generator (RNG) decides if you succeed or fail to, for example, hit your target or get your hands on a piece of desired loot.

Is this good or bad though? After thinking about it a lot and weighing my experiences over the years against each other I have to decidedly conclude: it depends. 🙂

Many forms of randomness aren’t really noticable as such. That my attacks sometimes miss is a fact that I just acklowledge and that I work against by raising stats like accuracy. But the important bit is that missing an attack every now and then is almost never a big deal. It doesn’t hurt much, is what I’m saying.

My first experience with randomness that could actually hurt was in Star Wars Galaxies. When crafting I sometimes failed, losing all materials in the process. I didn’t know how my chances for success were, nor if I could have minimized the chance to fail somehow (it wasn’t even known for sure if using crafting stations and tools of higher quality had any effect back then). After a while I was convinced that I failed more often on critical combines consuming the most resources, resulting in me thinking “RNG hates me!” for the first time. It wouldn’t be the last.

I don’t know how many times during my first years playing Everquest II I hoped in vain for a specific drop that I really wanted, or worse, saw it drop only to have someone else win the roll. For a while I really hated the randomness of it all.

As time passed and the genre evolved to more accessibility and less overall difficulty, token systems came into play. Instead of specific items (often only usable by a specific class) mobs would drop a token that could then be exchanged for an item of choice. This circumvented the frustration of ‘again a whole dungeon run and not a single drop for my class’, but made competition even more fierce since most players had ‘Need’ on most drops regardless of class all of a sudden.

Even further went The Secret World’s approach. Instead of tokens dungeon bosses would drop a fixed amount of currency. Every endgame weapon, armor, enhancement and upgrade would be bought with that currency. The good thing about that was that every player always got the full amount of currency, so there was no competition and no envy between group members at all. At first I really liked this solution.

After a while I felt that something was missing though. There was no pleasure, no adrenaline rush and no associated story when getting a new item.

This was my pride and joy in TSW. Nevertheless I have no idea when exactly I got it, which dungeon run gave me the needed currency or how I got the token to upgrade the Glyph. Nothing.

In contrast, I still remember under which exact circumstances I got most items for my Warlock in EQII’s Rise of Kunark expansion. The Tormented Bracelet of Doom, for example. This could only drop from a contested named mob in Kunzar Jungle, Doom. I would swing by his turf every time I started playing and look if he was there. He was pretty sturdy and hit very hard, fighting him solo was a tough challenge. On the day he finally dropped his bracelet the fight was particularly close, I beat him with just a sliver of health left myself. I was overjoyed to finally get it, so much so that I still remember now, about ten years later, that it gave +4% to crit chance and +17 spell damage at the time without looking it up.

Being a Dark Elf Warlock I probably should have been friends with this Ancient Evil. Unfortunately for him I wanted his bracelet really bad…

This made me realize that when it comes to item acquisition I actually prefer the much more random approach of yore. For me token and currency systems took pretty much everything that’s fun about getting better gear away.

Then there’s gear upgrading as seen in ArcheAge and Black Desert Online, among others. This seems to be an Asian thing, basically not being able to use an item right after getting it because it has to be heavily upgraded first to become effective. Chance plays a huge role here too.

I passionately hated ArcheAges’s system, which involved so much RNG and so severe consequences when failing that it made the whole thing downright hostile.

The RNG ‘fun’ began well before the upgrading part. When crafting armor or weapons the outcome in terms of stats was completely random, and most versions couldn’t even be crafted further to higher tiers at all, forcing you to start over.

The real pain started once you had managed to get your desired base item though: the regrading system. This boosted the stats of an item while keeping basic properties intact. From the second tier onward (of which there were twelve!) there was a good chance to fail an attempt. From fifth tier there was an added chance to downgrade by one tier if you failed. From seventh tier you could downgrade two tiers with one fail. From eighth tier onward you could lose the whole item. With every tier upgrade an item gained exponentially more power than with the previous one, making top tier items godly powerful, so just not doing it wasn’t really an option. I quit the game mainly because of this crap.

Ironically not long after getting this. Should have quit much sooner though.

Black Desert has a system that works similar in outline, but is much, much more forgiving. I’m actually having quite some fun with it, though one important reason for that is the fact that the game keeps handing out upgrade materials, silver and lots of other stuff for free on a daily basis. This lessens the feeling of loss immensely when failing a couple of times.

In conclusion, RNG elements in MMOs can be extremely frustrating to the point of ruining a game as a whole for me. When done right though they are not only ok, they can actually enrich the experience by giving achieved goals much more gravitas.

Your mileage may vary of course.

EVE Online – roaming low sec with Salt Farmers

Every Monday and Wednesday at 19:00 EVE time we assemble a fleet that’s open to anyone who wants to give low sec PvP a try. While it’s bad for your security status, it’s really good if you want to score some kills and learn the specifics of low sec.

I always try to attend these fleets, because they’re pretty fun most of the time, and I have always liked small- to mid-scale PvP the most. Large fleet fights can be awesome, most of the time they’re anything but. And I’m definitely too much of a chicken for solo PvP.

Last Wednesday we used our Jackdaw doctrine, with Kirins and a Hyena for support. We always have a bunch of non-doctrine ships with us though, as we don’t exclude anyone based on what ships he or she can or can’t fly. There were 21 of us in total.

Fleet in warp

I flew my trusty Bifrost Command Destroyer again. Since CCP reworked the Fleet Boost mechanics it’s a really great system, and I love being able to give substantial bonuses to my fleetmates and to myself. Equally useful, if not even more so, is the Micro Jump Field Generator that only Command Destroyers can use. After a spool up time of 5 seconds (with perfect skills, which I have) myself and every ship in a 6 km radius around me are instantly jumped 100 km in the direction my ship is facing at the time. Exempt from this are only ships that are tethered to a citadel, warp scrambled or invulnerable after warping or a session change.

We use this mechanic all the time. Sometimes we split up an opposing fleet by jumping all our ships and only a couple of theirs away, making for some easy kills. Or we jump off people sitting at a station or gate, deeming themselves safe since they would just dock/jump as soon as we aggressed them. Not from 100 km off, you’re not!

MJD spooling up

Most of the time we use it to jump ourselves on top of folks sitting at a supposedly safe spot 100 km or more off a gate or the center of a combat site. When we have more than one Command Destroyer we can even stagger multiple jumps and move ourselves 200 or 300 km in less than ten seconds.

This time around the jump fields didn’t work out for us as well as we’re used to though. More and more people seem to become aware of these tactics and which ships can execute them, so they are more careful and alert.

We still got some nice kills, and two little fleet fights in a row toward the end of our roam.

We started off with Spike, our scout, spotting a Dominix near our home system Kehjari. We caught up and tackled him, he managed to escape by using his own Micro Jump Drive and quickly warping away after the jump though. We ran into him again in Kinakka, and got him this time. He decided to try and at least take one of us down with him, and he chose that someone to be me. I had barely taken the first points of damage from his drones when Lakisa already threw her reps at me, so I never was in real danger.

We then took our usual route through Black Rise and Placid. At first we only caught some small targets of opportunity here and there. In Oicx we engaged a couple destroyers from Federation Uprising outside of a combat site. While we were looting the wrecks another one of their pilots warped right into us in his Thorax for some reason. It didn’t end well for him.

We then crossed paths with our “special friend” Chichou from Caldari Militia leading a fleet of almost forty ships. They also had Jackdaws, Command Destroyers and Kirins, as well as a bunch of Hookbills and other small stuff. Obviously they liked their chances and wanted to engage us, but we kept evading them. One time they sat at zero on a gate while we watched them from a ping about 280 km off that gate.

Too many…

They tried to jump onto us with their Command Destroyers as described above, but we saw that coming and were already fully aligned to the NPC station in system. As soon as they finished their second jump we warped to safety and docked up for a bio break, hoping they’d get bored and continue on their travels.

After that we finally got our big(ish) fights of the night. We scanned down a small fleet of Confessors and other small stuff inside a medium combat site in Nennamalia. We warped there and activated the acceleration gate into the site itself right away.

We landed right on top of them. Although we had bigger numbers they decided to stay and fight. At least that’s what I assume they did, it didn’t look like they tried to run before we had tackle on them. But who knows, maybe they were just really slow.

We downed a Pontifex first, followed by four Confessors, while losing nothing in return. The rest of them bailed.

While looting the field a much larger gang appeared on our scans, and by watching local we already knew that it was Chichou’s fleet again. We stayed put and waited for them this time. Sure enough they all landed on grid shortly after, pretty much right on top of us.

The shootout began, and it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to beat them rather quickly. We lost our Hyena and one Jackdaw early on while not killing anything, so Kelvin, our fleet commander, ordered us to retreat by warping off the field to a safespot. Two Kirins were tackled before they could warp though, Lakisa being one of them. It’s always a bad feeling to leave someone behind on the field, but there was nothing we could have done to save them.

I was much more fortunate. I not only made it out alive, I had also landed the final blow on one of the Confessors, earning my Bifrost it’s 12th killmark.

The small ones for one kill each, the bigger one for ten

The report for the battle as a whole in Nennamalia looks like this. It’s the first time I used this tool, so there may be people listed in the red or the green team that weren’t actually part of that respective fleet. Anyway, we’re team blue, and despite our losses we came out ISK positive.

Since we were low on logistics now we traveled back to Kehjari for ship replacements. We did one more round turn, killing one R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. Vexor in the process (always nice taking out those guys). We also met the CalMil fleet once more. They managed to tackle one of our logis, but he got away by crashing the gate and hid for a while in the neighboring system. After they had left Spike scouted the way for him and we met up again to make our way home together. We called it a day almost two hours after taking off.

And so it goes in our part of low sec. Some nights we have many more fights and many more kills (more losses too every now and then, of course), but it was fun nonetheless.

If you’re interested in joining one of our fleets (and speak german) you can contact us via ingame chat channel Get Salty.

Michelin guide: three stars

While my last adventures in Black Desert Online were tremendously fun I craved a more relaxed play session on the next day. I decided to tackle the numerous gathering- and cooking-quests my Witch had still in her log.

One of those quests asked me to make Good Feed, which is used to feed pets. I have splurged on a couple of those for christmas, so this was the perfect oppurtunity to learn how the food is made, and then make some more for personal use.

Black Desert Owl
The Owl’s my favourite. Isn’t it adorable?

The necessary ingredients for one crafting process of Good Feed are 6 units of meat, 4 units of wheat flour, 3 mineral water and one fish.

Meat is gathered by killing animals and using a butcher knife on their carcass. I bought a couple of those knives (since they have a limited durability, as most things in BDO do), went to an area with lots of boars and bears and began the rather grisly work.

Black Desert butchering
Being impaled by blades of grass sure ain’t a pleasant way to go…

Once I had a sufficient supply I moved on to making flour, which is done by processing wheat. Processing is seperate from gathering and cooking and a collective term for a whole bunch of ways to, well, process raw materials to refined materials which then can be used to make a final product. There’s heating, drying, filtering and, among others, grinding, which is the one used for turning wheat into flour. I had enough wheat in stock already, so I ground some of it into flour.

Black Desert grinding
For processing no actual tools are needed, mortar and pestle just poof into existence

Getting mineral water was the easiest task, because it can be bought from an NPC for some silver. Those NPCs also sell a range of other basic materials, such as sugar, salt and leavening agent. Alternatively, as I found out later, I could have used one unit of purified water instead of three mineral water. Purified water is made by buying empty bottles, filling them with water at a river or pond, and then filtering it.

Fishing is a science of its own, as is the fish itself.

Black Desert fishingjpg
A job for my Striker. He already looks the part.

First of all, once caught fish spoils after 24 hours if not used, processed or sold. Drying can be used to make it durable, but then you need to double the amount for cooking (meaning you need two instead of one, or four instead of two etc). A higher rarity, on the other hand, means that you need less. One green fish is as good as two white ones, a blue one double that, and so on. Drying keeps the rarity intact, so if you for example use a dried green fish it’s equal to a fresh white one.

Secondly, fish not only serves a purpose in cooking, it’s also a trade good. This means that you can sell them to Trade NPCs. Profit for all trade goods can be maximised by selling as far away as possible from where they were caught/bought/found (as long as you have both locations, origin and sale, connected via the contribution point system), and selling where only few or no units of the exact same trade good were sold recently.

The fishing process can be done either actively by playing a minigame when somethig bites and (optionally) using bait to speed up the process, or as an AFK activity taking substantially longer.

I fished actively until I had a couple whites, a couple greens and one blue fish. Since one white fish suffices for the pet food I decided that I’d use the white ones while fresh and dry the rest for another time.

Having all ingredients ready to go I went back to my residence where I had a cooking utensil already placed. For a not yet known recipe the correct amounts must be chosen by hand.

Black Desert good feed
The ingredients topple into the pot, cute!

I hit the ‘Cooking’-button and hoped for the desired outcome. To my delight I received not only one, but two units of Good Feed. Success! I turned in the quest for silver, cooking XP and contribution XP, then proceeded to make pet food until I ran out of fish and meat.

Black Desert cooking
Hmm, tasty. Wait a minute, am I eating cat food here?

I’m having loads of fun with life skills in Black Desert. Leveling up the various skills feels always rewarding, especially because the chance to get not one but two, sometimes even three units of your desired product rises with every level of the corresponding skill. What’s more, when cooking or using alchemy you get some byproducts every now and then. Those have funny names like ‘Dish with Poorly Prepared Ingredients’ or ‘Dish with Weird Texture’, and can be sold to certain NPCs for more XP, silver, beer or other ingredients.

I’m not yet deep enough into it to make an educated try at ranking this gathering and crafting system against all others I have experienced, but judging by my first impressions it might come second only to Star Wars Galaxies in terms of complexity and fun (out of competition: EVE Online, because it’s probably the best and most complex, but it’s not for me).

I strongly recommend trying it.


My next adventure in BDO

When a character hits level 50 in Black Desert, the Black Spirit starts to give out a choice of new daily and weekly quests.

These require to kill a bunch of mobs and reward a Boss Scroll. These scrolls are used to spawn a specific boss mob at a specific location and expire after one week if not used. So to get the maximum out of the daily you have to do it every day, but you don’t have to kill the boss on the same day. You can save some scrolls and kill the boss multiple times back to back later. The bosses give loot every time, though with only a small chance for their specific piece of Boss Loot, which is what you’re after of course.

When my last adventure had me ding level 50 I was eager to take my first shot at these bosses. I accepted one daily and one weekly each out of those on offer and set my course to the one closest to me.

This quest required me to kill 100 mobs, which would be quite a lot in other games. In BDO it’s not that much. Still, most quests don’t ask for triple digits, and I assumed these mobs would prove to be tougher than what I had fought until now.

The mobs in question were called Calpheon Shrine Force, some kind of cultists, who reside at Kzarka Shrine in the Calpheon area. A quite daunting staircase chiseled into the mountainside led up to the shrine.

Black Desert Staircase

Here I fought the first of my targets. They were indeed a bit tougher than what I was used to, and hit quite hard if you let them. So I gave my best to not let them by using grapples and knockdowns generously.

On top of the staircase a path led into the shrine itself. Mob density became higher, and soon I found myself fighting multiple enemies in melee-distance at once while being shot at by some of their ranged buddies at the same time. I had to chug a health potion and/or take cover every now and then, but managed to stay alive.

I came to a large round chamber which looked like it’s used for some sort of unholy summoning ritual. There were lots of cultists there, but those were my lesser concerns. Large tentacles seemed to grow out of the stone ground and writhed wildly about, as if trying to catch anyone careless enough to come close to them. I really did not want to give them that opportunity.


By now my kill counter neared the 100 mark anyway, so I started thinking about a discreet departure. And by that I mean that I chickened out and started running for the exit screaming like a little girl.

Only that I, again, had no freaking idea where exactly I was and which way I had come. I quickly set a course for home, so that my GPS, excuse me, my fantasy world magical pathfinder, would show me the way. That thing tends to get confused in narrow and complex environments pretty quickly though, and after running in a full circle through some corridors looking all alike I was back at the summoning circle and the tentacles of doom. I admit, I panicked a bit at this point.

You see, in terms of Death Penalties BDO has a bit more up it’s sleeve than most of it’s contemporaries. When you die in PvE you lose experience, and there’s a chance that gems you have socketed into your gear are destroyed. There may be more than that, I don’t actually know. I’m sure that it’s nothing really earth shattering, but I’d like to keep the suspense and sense of real danger the fear of dying gives me alive (no pun intended) for as long as possible.

Anyway, I continued to run, just following my nose this time. Somehow I managed to find my way out and suddenly stood on the staircase leading down again. I jumped and stumbled it down more than I ran. As soon as I had reached ground level and was out of range of any mobs I just froze in place and took some deep breaths for a minute.

Then a terrifying thought occurred to me. Would I have to do THIS every day now? I quickly checked if this was the daily or the weekly and let go a sigh of relief when I found it was the latter. I checked in with the Black Spirit and received my very first boss scroll for my efforts. It says it is used to summon Muskan, the Monastery Boss, and that he is recommended for a group of 5 players. I decided to postpone my meeting with this baddie for now, and take a shot at the daily first.

This quest required me to kill 20 giants. Now that I was comfortable with. I had already been in that area and killed lots of those guys for leveling. Very soon I held the scroll to summon Dastard Bheg, the Altar Imp Captain in hand.

When trying to activate it, it unsurprisingly directed me to the Altar Imp area in Serendia. I made my way there, cleared the area of mobs, and activated the scroll again.

Hellooooo beautiful!

Not knowing what exactly awaited me I started to beat the crap out of him. He didn’t seem to mind at all for a while.

Another thing BDO does a little differently than other games is that as long as you don’t have enough Knowledge about a certain type of enemy you are not shown the exact amount of health he has left. The HP bar stays full until the end, just the color changes from yellow at the start, to orange when he’s damaged a bit (probably around 50%) to red when he’s critical.

I gave him all I had, but the bar stayed firmly yellow for quite some time. All the while he violently lashed out with his grappling hook on a chain, costing me about a quarter of my HP whenever he managed to hit me. After a while he started to glow red and lashed out rapidly in all directions, knocking me on my butt with his first hit, making me unable to evade the next few. I kept chugging potions as quickly as the cooldown would allow, yet very nearly died. Then I was back on my feet. Ha! I wouldn’t let him catch me off guard again. I danced around and kept hitting him while staying behind or jumping above him, and soon his HP turned orange. ‘I have you now! ‘ I thought and continued pummeling him. Finally his HP bar turned red and shortly after…

Yeah, go back to…wherever it is you came from!

The loot was nothing to write home about, but it was a lot of fun, and I look forward to beating the snot out of that guy again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to upgrade my gear a little bit beforehand though…

Black Desert Online – making adventuring great again

When I reached level 49 with my Witch the Black Spirit offered me a new quest. As long as you don’t finish that quest you can’t ding level 50. This is important because from level 50 onwards you’re enabled for PvP.

I had already read that some folks decide to lock their life skill characters at 49 so they can go out and do their stuff without ever having to worry about being ganked by some bored PvPer. Since there’s a penalty system in place for killing folks who haven’t flagged themselves for PvP this doesn’t appear to happen all that often, but it’s still a thing to consider.

While I thought about it I had an idea. During 2017 a few new classes have been added to the game, among them the Striker, a martial arts fighter. I’m a big fan of martial arts, and had already thought about trying him out. So why not play one for a while, and if I liked him let the Witch sit at 49 and level the Striker beyond 50 as my combat main?

Which is exactly what I’ve done. The Striker has lots of punches, kicks and combinations thereof in his arsenal, is beautifully animated and pretty fun to play. And he’s at level 50 already. Here’s how that happened.

Since I’ll continue to do life-skilling with the Witch I fully focused him on combat content from the start. Playing on one of the double XP servers and stacking all available daily boosts to combat XP on top of each other makes leveling a breeze. I outleveled main and combat quests very quickly just by killing enough mobs to fulfill said quests. Hence I decided to ignore all further quests for a while and just go to where mobs of the appropriate level are. The map has helpful icons depicting what type and level of mobs inhabit certain areas, even if you’ve not yet been there.

Black Desert Map Mobs

This indeed led me to regions I hadn’t been before very soon. A change of scenery was nice after having stayed in Heidel’s surroundings for quite some time.

When I reached the mid-40ies I chose another unexplored area where skeletons ought to dwell. After crossing a river the landscape changed dramatically, and instead of Serendia’s wide open spaces with mountains and the occasional group of trees and shrubs I found myself in a pretty dense forest.

BlackDesert64 Forest

It’s beautiful. The music there is quite ominous for some reason though. While I still relished the ambiance dusk came, and the world went very dark really quickly.

Black Desert Dark Forest
Like, really dark.

The spooky music made a lot of sense all of a sudden, and I now felt a very real sense of danger. I was far from known and safe territory, surrounded by high level mobs (which are stronger at night to boot), and I could hardly see the path right in front of me. Now I know what those lanterns and corresponding oil the game keeps handing out are for. Sure enough I had neither with me.

What the hell, I thought, I’m here to kill mobs, so let the pummeling commence! First I backtracked a couple of yards to park my horse in a supposedly safe spot, then I stormed into the fray.

I killed mobs left and right, just following the little red dots on my minimap. Soon I had no idea where I was anymore. The enemies didn’t exactly look like skeletons, but they gave XP and loot either way. They weren’t pushovers, but I didn’t take too much damage, so on I went.

After a while I arrived at a graveyard, and here I finally found the promised skeletons. Battering those is tremendously fun because they shatter to pieces, bones flying everywhere, with appropriate sounds to go with it.

BlackDesert Skeletons
I came back at daylight for your viewing pleasure. Yes, that’s a ribcage flying there.

I indulged in beating the crap out of the scraggy fellas until I dinged 49. Then I consulted the Black Spirit and took the quest to get to 50. Seeing that I had to travel a good bit further into unknown territory I decided to make my way there right away. So I just had to fetch my horse and…dude, where’s my horse?

Not only had I no idea where I was and where I had parked my horse. The button used to either whistle for your horse to come to you (if it’s close enough) or show you a path to it…was gone from the UI. Just not there. That didn’t bode well.

After contemplating alternatives for a minute I concluded that my safespot hadn’t been safe after all, and my horse had indeed died. This hadn’t happened to me before, so I wasn’t quite sure of the consequences. What I did know was that I now stood in pretty much the middle of nowhere without a horse.

Well, it couldn’t be helped. The course to the quest’s target area was plotted, so off I went. Fortunately the Striker can give himself a little speed buff regularly and is additionally wearing a pair of boots with +1 speed at the moment.

After a while I reached a little village that looks kind of like a base of operations for a bunch of lumberjacks. I ignored all of it’s inhabitants but one for now – I was relieved to see that there’s a stablemaster there. Sure enough he resurrected my horse for a fee, and it wasn’t even transferred back to Heidel, where I had stabled it last, I could use it right then and there instead. It has a Death Count of 1 now, which as far as I know might be a problem should I decide to use it for breeding. I will deal with that when/if it comes to that. At least I didn’t have to walk the rest of the way.

I reached the quest area without further complications, summoned the boss I had to fight, gave him a walloping, finished the quest, and after one more killed mob I dinged 50.

This was the first time in quite a while that I felt like I had a real adventure in an MMO. Which is exactly what I was hoping for when I picked up the game. So: yay!

What’s more, the next adventure was already waiting around the corner. But that’s a story for another time.