Victory on Yavin and Crafting Craziness

It's barely been a month since I got excited about my guild conquering Alderaan during Total Galactic War, and I didn't expect us to go for first place somewhere else any time soon, but at the start of last week things took an unexpected turn. We were just about to go for our usual large yield target again, when someone pointed out that the medium yield planet for the week, Yavin IV, didn't seem heavily contested. There were only one or two other big guilds going for it, and they looked like we should be able to beat them.

And just like that, Twin Suns Squadron ended up conquering a planet for the first time outside of Total Galactic War.

Of course, we acquired a secret super weapon a few months ago. Does it count as giving away trade secrets if I talk about this? Ah hell, I don't care - if you're reading this and you're from a competing guild, I'm both flattered that you actually ended up here and salute you for your dedication to researching the competition.

Anyway, when we absorbed another guild a few months ago, one of the new members we gained was someone to whom I shall simply refer as X. X loves Conquest and he loves to craft, two things which made for a very potent combination in the past. Less so since the Conquest revamp, but it still seems sometimes that surely he must be spending more time just logging in and out of alts to claim crafting credit for repeatable Conquest objectives and to queue up new items than doing anything else.

With how hard Bioware nerfed crafting for Conquest points, his effectiveness was greatly diminished, but he still regularly hits his personal target on more than a dozen characters per week (which is why I have to laugh when I see people moaning on the forums about how the new system made it "impossible" to do Conquest on more than one character). However, this week he showed us what he could still do, and it made me wonder whether Bioware still hasn't nerfed crafting enough.

Obviously we were all doing our best to secure victory, but X achieved nearly 1.5 million conquest points on his own (yes, we counted), most of which were accumulated by crafting war supplies. Now, war supplies only gave 300 points a pop last week, even with a maxed out stronghold bonus, so he basically had to craft several thousand of them across his legacy. With how much more expensive Bioware made this process as well, my mind still boggles at the sheer amount of materials he must have poured into this project. And he did admit afterwards that this wasn't something he would be able to do every week, as he needs to rebuild his stockpile again after going nuts like that. But still...

I am extremely grateful for his hard work and in awe of his dedication, but at the same time it seems a little wrong that this is still possible. Our next biggest contributors that week, none of whom went crafting crazy, only achieved about a tenth of X's score across their legacies. I guess we'll get to enjoy this advantage while it lasts and see about conquering a few more planets while we're at it.


Rishi Proprietor

While it was another one of 5.9.2's major features, I didn't buy the new Rishi stronghold until about a week after its release. Money wasn't an issue; as I've mentioned previously I just kind of fail when it comes to MMO housing. I like the concept but in practice I don't want to spend a lot of my gaming time rearranging furniture. So the Rishi stronghold can join Yavin, Manaan and Umbara on the list of strongholds I own because I can, but which don't contain anything but a couple of random decorations placed on a whim. Meanwhile, I spend all my idle time in the first room of my Coruscant (Republic) or Dromund Kaas (Empire) apartment.

I did have a bit of a walk around and was astounded by the sheer size of the Rishi stronghold. While I did explore it a little on the PTS, my observations there remained somewhat superficial, and I was honestly shocked by how hard a time I had even finding all the rooms in order to unlock them. At one point I caught myself instinctively opening my map to find the nearest quick travel point, but of course there weren't any because it's a stronghold, duh!

I did find out only today however that you can set different locations as your "loading-in spots" for different characters, which is very cool. If they added something like that for the other strongholds I might actually spend time in more than one room...

Interestingly the thing that eventually pushed me into purchasing the stronghold despite of my lack of enthusiasm for decorating was wanting to take a screenshot of myself with Speedy the turtle. For those not in the know, for purposes of providing ambience a little turtle patrols the beach inside the stronghold, and it looks like the Juvenile Turtle pet that you can buy from the Cartel Market. "Speedy" quickly became a fan favourite, just for a dev to decide to include a cruel joke: a hidden achievement that gets Speedy killed, forever replacing him with a small pile of bones and earning the responsible player the (very appropriate) legacy title "Horrible Person".

Now this has been interesting to me because so far, hidden achievements have always been something desirable - a way to show off that you possessed secret knowledge. But calling yourself a horrible person? Killing an adorable turtle? No, thanks! There may be no special title for it, but I consider myself a member of the highly exclusive club of people who know how to kill Speedy but prefer not to do it.


Arena, Arena...

... it reminds me of a warzone story (imagine me singing this to the tune by Santana).

For all my fretting about the PvP changes coming in patch 5.9.2 I didn't even do any PvP right after its launch. It's really only been this week that I've somewhat gotten back into it, mainly for the Conquest points. (Pro tip: The one-time objective to complete the weekly warzone quest is really easy to achieve in the sub-70 brackets, what with it only requiring you to play 3-5 matches instead of 10-20).

Things went largely as expected. I didn't notice the mechanical changes very much, except when Giradda decided to kill me literally two steps from the goal line in Huttball, the bastard!

I do miss the faction rivalry already. From an immersion point of view it all just feels a bit meaningless now. "But Shintar," you might say, "how can you expect instanced PvP to be immersive and meaningful in the first place?" To that I can only say that it just was. Roleplaying isn't limited to emoting and having conversations in /say, and I used to enjoy playing the role of honourable Republic trooper out to defeat the evil Imps. It's hard to get any feeling of that when every single match puts you onto a mixed-faction team.

I guess there's always World PvP. I did run into some of that unexpectedly while chasing the Tunnel Lurker with some guildies, when we rounded a corner and suddenly found a bunch of Imps camping the entrance to the Republic base. To cries of "Gondor calls for aid" and "now the bloodlust's got him" mayhem ensued... for about five minutes. During which everyone was laughing and going on about the horrible lag in chat. But hey, I'll take what I can get.

Anyway, in terms of pops and balance, the ramped up cross-faction play has been a godsend. Especially in the sub-70 brackets, pops are so much faster, and at least so far my matches have felt much more balanced than previously. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I'm suddenly doing more winning than losing.

The most interesting thing to me so far has been the new arena, the Mandalorian Battle Ring. Even though I was superficially aware of its introduction, I never got into it on the PTS and managed to avoid any information about it other than a mention of it being located in Shae Vizla's compound on Rishi. After the matchmaking changes, I got to see a lot of it, especially on my midbies - presumably because not that many people were queueing, as arenas are only supposed to pop in unranked warzones now if there is a player shortage.

In my first match, we just walked up the ramp to the top of the giant plateau that dominates the arena and beat each other up there. Second time around though I was forced to learn that there was more to the terrain, as an enemy Marauder decided to make a run for it when he was the last person left on his team, and managed to disappear into a tunnel leading right through the centre of the plateau on ground level. As soon as we were chasing him out of it, he jumped onto some air vent thing like there is in Huttball and went flying out of reach - he was clearly already much more familiar with the arena's layout than we were. We did get him in the end - but it was... educational.

Finally, I had what must have been my most bizarre arena experience ever in another round in the Battle Ring. As soon as I loaded in I could tell from the banter among my team mates that a) they knew each other, b) they knew at least some of the enemy team and c) they had apparently already beaten these particular players repeatedly. When the round started with the enemy team still being a player short and my team mates asking me to hang back while one of them would try to take on all three enemies on his own, I thought it was just a bit of silliness that was more likely to allow our opponents to make up for their number handicap than anything.

Well, let's just say that's not how it went, and I actually watched the lone Juggernaut solo all three members of the enemy team. When he tried to repeat this feat in the second round, after they had been given a fourth player, he did die, though not without taking some people with him beforehand. I ended the match feeling slightly confused while I slowly meleed the last enemy to death, with the other two remaining team members standing by and spectating. Then they gave me their MVP votes and quit.

I've certainly had worse times in PvP.


KotFE Chapters 4, 5 & 6 Master Mode

Just like when I did them on veteran mode, I'm finding that the KotFE chapters seem to fly by on master mode, and I'm actually eager to do more. They are much better balanced than the KotET ones, and while I still think that giving trash mobs the ability to kill you in three hits is not the best way of creating difficulty, I've got to admit that I'm deriving a certain entertainment out of puzzling out how to best tackle each fight. It certainly turns all the mobs between cut scenes into more than annoying bumps on the road.

After respeccing my Sage in chapter three I actually left her in Telekinetics spec (just to promptly go "oops" when I joined a story mode EC run as a healer and didn't realise that I was still set up to dps until we pulled the first boss). Burning things down quickly feels much more fun than endlessly drawn-out engagements, and the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing also adds a dimension of learning how to play to the whole thing.

Chapter four was fairly unremarkable; I just kept practising my default tactic of trying to nuke things as quickly as possible while slowly back-pedalling away from them. What was kind of funny was that I momentarily forgot that part of the chapter actually takes place in the outside world and the mobs were therefore not actually dangerous in any way - I've never crept around the Eternal Swamp that carefully before! The iknayid mini-boss at the end of the chapter killed me with its adds, but not before I had successfully taken down the boss itself.

In chapter five I remembered the Skytrooper Control Droid giving me trouble on veteran mode and the master mode version didn't disappoint either, though the difficulty seemed about the same actually. Playing as dps with a healing companion instead of as a healer with a tanking companion I had to change my approach a little however, making sure to get aggro on adds quickly so they wouldn't all shoot Lana, while also being cognisant of the fact that she wasn't able to keep up with healing me through the damage very well. In the recording I made of the fight you can see me messing up in more than one way, such as accidentally tab-targeting to the boss while he was immune to damage, thinking of using heroic moment way too late and letting Lana die, but I still made it through. I think the most useful tip I can give is to pause for a moment when you're down to a single add to give yourself a chance to get both you and your companion healed up as much as you can, as that's about the point at which you will be exposed to the least damage.

Chapter six featured all the fun of the Scion trial of course, which I recalled being interesting on veteran mode as well. I decided against uploading any recordings of it in the end however as I didn't find any of the fights too tough, despite of suffering a few deaths. With the first two batches of Scions it certainly helps that if you kill one of the two, the killed one won't respawn even if you die, leaving you to contend with only a single enemy afterwards. With the second batch (Vanat and Berusal) I even found that after dying to their initial ambush, I could just pull them separately (or at least Berusal didn't even aggro after I cast a CC on Vanat). Just watch out for Force Crush, that was still a one-shot on me even in full 248 gear.

The end of the chapter featured the fun of fighting Heskal without a companion of course, which went down similarly to how I did it veteran mode, with me focusing on doing damage while he was channeling Debris Storm (while avoiding its red circles obviously) and spending the rest of the time trying to line of sight his Turbulence, which still took off most of my health even in full 248 if I allowed it to hit me. It is interruptable the normal way too, but with my fairly long cooldown on that it felt safer to "save it" for situations when I might find myself unable to use line of sight instead. The parts when he summoned the various vision adds were actually kind of funny due to how little health they have: As I have the utility that causes your bubble to cause a bit of backlash damage, they basically kept killing themselves instantly as soon as they attacked.

I expect the next few chapters will continue to be relatively painless - the ones I'm most worried about based on my veteran mode experiences are chapter ten for its insane trash and sixteen for a potentially even more merciless incarnation of the Arcann fight. Nonethless, I'm actually looking forward to all of them!


Developer Appreciation Week: Much Love for the SWTOR Dev Team

Blaugust continues, and it's Developer Appreciation Week! While my post on this subject last year was more general in tone and could be read as addressed to many developers, I do want to specifically give some love to the SWTOR devs this time.

It does tie into last year's post though in so far as I want to start with another lesson I learned at work in the past year: that it can be demotivating sometimes to work on a product/brand that is perpetually treated as an "also ran". It's disheartening to be strongly invested in something while constantly seeing that it's just not as popular as some of its "siblings", and feeling like you're caught in a vicious cycle where you sometimes can't do your best because of a lack of resources, yet because you're not doing so great you won't be given any more resources either.

That's definitely a place that everyone who currently works on SWTOR has got to be familiar with. EA likes to "forget" about it when they talk about their line-up of Star Wars games (though they've gotten a bit better at this in the last couple of years), while Bioware prefers to (understandably) focus on its own properties and tends to treat SWTOR as "that licensed thing we also do". Fans are so used to this that players positively freaked out from all the attention when Casey Hudson actually devoted a whole sentence of his 600+ word "Mid-Summer Update" on the official Bioware website to SWTOR. Long story short: SWTOR devs, I know your work often doesn't get much attention, but do remember that there are still hundreds of thousands us out there who enjoy what you do and are grateful for you doing it.

Next, let's talk about a few specific things that I appreciate about the SWTOR dev team.

First off, I love how passionate they tend to sound whenever they get to talk about the game. Charles Boyd in particular is a poster boy for doing what he loves, what with parading around as a trooper in his free time. (I think he builds blaster replicas in his garage too? Or am I confusing that with something somebody else said?) Every time he and/or Eric and Keith appear on a podcast I immediately get excited about the game again, even if I'd been in a bit of a lull before that. You can tell that they aren't just people trying to sell you something as good because that's what it says in their notes, but that they are genuinely into the game and care about all its little details.

At this point, can I also give a shout-out to Eric actually? I'm not really sure how good a job he's doing if you did a comparative ranking of MMO community managers as I'm not sure about everything that's involved, but I simply appreciate that he's stuck with the role for more than five years now (and he was already working at Bioware before that too). To this day he appears to remain completely unperturbed by all the toxicity he must undoubtedly be encountering on a daily basis, always letting it roll off his back while trying to focus on what people may be trying to communicate underneath their potentially nasty words. That's a really valuable skill, and with him having occupied the same role for so many years now he's kind of become "the face of SWTOR" to fans simply because absolutely everybody knows him, which is also nice in terms of consistency.

Tying into that, I'm always impressed by how much the SWTOR team tries to listen to the fans. They haven't always been great at this in the past, but they've been working on it for a long time now and things have improved a lot. I'm always baffled when people claim that the devs don't listen - mind you, listening to the players doesn't mean that everyone always gets what they want: in fact, that's literally impossible as some players' wants will be diametrically opposed to each other. However, so many things they've added to the game - especially more recently - have been directly based on player feedback, from larger changes such as cutting the "Knights of" story arc short and refocusing on group content to small things such as making previously static companions customisable or changing the colour of the sand in the Rishi stronghold. To be honest, sometimes I almost feel like they listen to players too much and could dare to do their own thing a bit more, haha! (I mean, just because people disliked Saresh that didn't mean you had to completely assassinate her character, you know...)

In conclusion: Thanks for continuing to be passionate about what you're doing! As long as you'll remain dedicated to making the best damn Bioware Star Wars game you can, us players will always happily come along for the ride.


Inventory Management

One of the shared writing prompts inspired by Blaugust that I've seen going around in the past few days has been on the subject of inventory management (appropriately inspired by Bhagpuss of Inventory Full). I think this is quite a fun subject to talk about, not least because a lot of it applies across different games but also because I actually kind of enjoy fiddling with my inventory (to a certain extent).

Here are the people I found who have already written about the subject at the time of posting this. Feel free to let me know if I left anyone out:
So one thing I found interesting was that in many of these posts, people talk about the annoyances of inventory management and dealing with a lack of storage space, but there was very little about how they do actually manage their inventory on a day-to-day basis, so I thought I'd write about that.

At its core, my system is very straightforward: Put stuff you want to keep and always have with you (such as toys or stacks of consumables) in the top left corner. Stuff I want to keep for a while but expect to use up soon (such as armour pieces which I'm planning to wear but for which I'm not high enough level yet) goes into the bottom right corner. Everything else goes in between. In games where things go into multiple bags instead of a single unified inventory, I might spread things out across different bags, but the core system is still the same.

The key thing about this is that I always know where new stuff goes: in the bit I marked in green on the screenshot. I'm always a little horrified when people show me screenshots of their own inventories and they are not just very full but have random gaps everywhere. No wonder you're having trouble keeping things organised if you never know where your newest bit of loot might end up. Random gaps are the enemy. I hate it when one of them appears in my "keep this" rows (because the item I stored there was unexpectedly used up or disappeared), then some random junk item ends up filling the hole and keeps occupying that slot for ages because I never notice it or think to look for something to vendor there.

I always make sure to visit vendors religiously. Always keep as much free space for the next adventure as possible. My biggest problem are usually items that I don't want to vendor because they could be useful later (to me or even someone else). Actually, now that I think about it that may well be why ESO never clicked for me. That game allows you to gather everything and learn every crafting profession, so my bags filled up with crafting-related items repeatedly before I'd even hit level five. I didn't want to throw them away because I knew they had a purpose... usually what I'd do in such a scenario would be to visit the auction house and at least sell things to other people so they can use them, but of course ESO doesn't have an auction house. Faced with a never-ending avalanche of potentially useful stuff that I didn't know what to do with I preferred to log off instead, heh. (Not to mention that ESO doesn't allow you to arrange your inventory the way you want to either.)

Anyway, I digress. Lest you think that I'm some sort of inventory management guru, let me assure you that I'm not. Like many people I struggle with wanting to hold on to too many things that really aren't that valuable or important when you think about it. The above screenshot actually showed the inventory of one of my alts, so let me show you my main's for comparison:

Yes, it's still orderly, but way too full of random stuff. I don't really have that many things I need or want to carry around with me at all times, I'm just too lazy to sort them out. I highlighted some of them in red. For example I always have not one but two holo trainers with me - why? Since I first hit the level cap back in 2012, I probably haven't spent more than a few hours levelling on my main (every time the cap got raised basically). Or those four goodies from... I think it was the pre-order bonus? I never use those, ever. But I guess I feel I should have them around just in case I suddenly need to prove my veteran cred or something. Then there's that social token that has no purpose other than to make you do a little cheer emote and which I only own because there used to be a quest that told you to buy one. (I think that mission has been removed since then.) Also, two different stacks of anniversary fireworks? Really?

The bottom right corner doesn't fare much better. How likely am I to use those bound pink and purple dyes that I got from a cantina crate any time soon? And oh my god, the armour shells! Yes, it makes sense to keep some of them to upgrade later but how many different sets of armour do I realistically expect to be buying in the future? Maybe writing about this will help me with finally overcoming the inertia that has kept those items in their places for so long and encourage me to engage in some spring/autumn cleaning.


More Conquest Tweaks

Tuesday's patch was mostly about the Rishi stronghold and PvP changes, but there were some tweaks to Conquest as well, which are shaping up to have a bigger impact on me than I originally expected.

On the plus side, it looks like Bioware finally, finally managed to fix the reset bug on their third attempt, which had previously allowed people to repeat objectives that were meant to be limited to once a day ad infinitum. As I noted when I originally analysed the Conquest revamp, one of its major goals seemed to be to actually get people working together and to reduce the impact that a single person could have a guild's score, but this bug effectively negated that. Someone who was both "in the know" and willing to cheat the system could still carry their guild pretty heavily, potentially skewing its results upwards by quite a bit. So it will be interesting to see what the scoreboard will look like by the end of this week, which will effectively be the first week of the new system working as intended. And if it turns out that the scores awarded for certain objectives are still too low for comfort (or even too high), at least we'll all be on the same page about it.

What came a bit out of left field for me was the part of the patch notes that stated that the downtime between Conquest events was going to be reduced from 24 hours to a single hour on Tuesday evenings. I was surprised by how dismayed I was to read this.

I've always perceived the Monday Conquest "downtime" as a pleasant break intended for those who had given Conquest their all in the previous week, giving people time to reflect on what had worked and what hadn't, as well as to study the final scoreboard to see how their guild held up compared to the competition. In my own guild I'd gotten into the habit recently of spending Monday evenings noting down people's individual scores to give them credit for their efforts on the guild forums - while there is a top five display on the revamped guild Conquest tab, the fact that it's character- instead of legacy-based makes it heavily biased towards people with no or few alts, while the guy who scored exactly 15k points on fourteen alts gets no recognition within the game itself.

With this change to the system, things like my manual calling out or even rewarding of players for their Conquest contributions will have to become a thing of the past. Hell, I won't even know the guild's final placement on the scoreboard, since it will only be visible for an hour during a time when I'm still on my way home from work, and by the time I'll get home Conquest will already have reset.

I guess that's a niche problem to have, but it still makes me a bit sad and I can't help but wonder what was wrong with allowing for a day of rest and reflection between Conquests.


KotFE Chapters 1, 2 & 3 Master Mode

With over a year having passed since I completed KotFE on veteran mode and four months since I finished KotET on master mode, I've been overdue for ticking that last achievement off the list: KotFE master mode. To be honest, the main thing that was holding me back was indecision in regards to which character to take into it.

My Sage was an obvious choice. As my main alt she's the character I know how to play best after my main, and she's really overdue for getting KotFE and beyond done from a story point of view as well. I had originally planned to take her through it as my second character after my main, but then kept putting it off due to worries about another light side playthrough not resulting in enough variety and all of the consular companions except Qyzen remaining missing. With Iresso having returned recently and Zenith at least on the radar, there's definitely some incentive there to finally get started in order to see their return stories. On the other hand... Sages are kind of lacking in damage reduction cooldowns, and just how many times do I want to heal things to death anyway?

It was mainly the latter which made me consider my Gunslinger as an alternative choice. Taking a damage dealer with great survival cooldowns through the content just seemed much more appealing from a mechanics point of view. Then again, I already have a smuggler all caught up with the current storyline; could I really justify taking another through when I hadn't completed KotFE/KotET on all base classes yet?

Sentiment and story eventually won out over gameplay considerations, and so Golu began her journey into KotFE. I was immediately treated to some cringe-worthy cut scenes as the bug that causes certain armour sets to display their Imperial look on Republic side apparently still isn't fixed yet.

Anyway, as was my experience with veteran mode, so far KotFE's master mode hasn't been nearly as bad as KotET's, which is why I figured I could summarise the first three chapters in a single post.

I knew chapter one couldn't be that hard since I remembered that there had been a time when people had made a point of speed-running it for CXP, to the point where Bioware felt the need to nerf its rewards. I died a couple of times to some of the skytrooper mini bosses since my damage output was low and I misjudged what to interrupt sometimes, but that was a simple learning experience. Only the last boss seemed to pose a little bit of a challenge, but even he was relatively easy to defeat with a bit of pillar-humping.

Chapter two was a similar experience, which was again not unexpected, as that too had had a reputation for making a good CXP farm for a while. The trash hit less hard as well. I had to laugh though when one of the mini bosses that are based on your class literally one-shot me when I failed to interrupt one of his casts.

The one thing I was curious about was the Monolith fight at the end, because somewhat contrary to the former I had also heard reports of this fight being quite hard. I ended up one-shotting him myself, but it was very slow and involved my character running in circles and healing herself for ten minutes. Afterwards I googled the fight to figure out what I had been missing and apparently you can climb on a rock in a certain spot where he can't hit you and easily beat him that way. Oh well, my way feels more legit to me even if it took longer!

The biggest and very unexpected road block I ran into so far came in the form of the Ground Assault Walker mini boss in chapter three that blocks your way just before you cross that bridge on your way to the droid factory. This is where the Sage's lack of damage reduction cooldowns really hurt me for the first time, because I couldn't survive more than a couple of hits from the walker and the small, fenced-in area wasn't really suited to kiting or breaking line of sight either.

I started by giving Lana some gifts to raise her measly influence rank from one to at least fifteen, but after that seemed to make no noticeable difference I decided that clearly the solution was instead to burn down the walker myself before it could kill me. So I did something I'd never done before: I respecced my Sage to dps, and funnily enough, just like in KotET chapter one, totally clueless dps was the way to victory over skilled healing. Even though I neither knew how to play Telekinetics nor had any accuracy on my gear, I one-shot the boss on my next attempt (though the adds got me afterwards... but it didn't matter because the boss was dead). I expect that this will be something that I'll have to repeat in future chapters.


800 Posts!

Time to celebrate another blogging milestone! It's been nearly a year since I hit the 700 post mark, as my posting frequency has dropped a bit in the past year. The problem is that I'm just trying to juggle too many things at the same time: Not only do I have a full-time job with a long commute, am going all out on SWTOR which inculdes running operations three nights a week, participating in Conquest and blogging about it, I've also been giving more attention to my secondary MMO, Neverwinter, and to making videos. Not enough hours in the day! Not that this stops me from trying.

Anyway, I still haven't really come up with a good replacement for the old Google Analytics search term fun, so I thought I'd celebrate with a reprise of the "most popular posts on my blog" theme from last time, only instead of looking at my top ten posts of all time according to Blogger, I'll be logging at my top ten posts from the past year according to GA. There are some interesting differences.

1. The Best Classes to Take into KotFE / KoTET (2017) - 1249 views

Okay, so this one was in my top ten posts of all time last year, and it was the "rising star" of the lot so to speak, as it was the most recent post to earn the honour of being included. As I said at the time, it covers a question that I think is relevant to many new and returning players and was linked on reddit, so that explains a lot of its popularity.

2. Galactic Command Is Alright Now (2017) - 767 views

This post made it to second place mostly because it was also linked on the SWTOR subreddit, by the ever lovely Swtorista, who thought that it raised some interesting points. Unfortunately she didn't exactly do me a favour in this case as most people there seemed to disagree with my stance, which is fine, but some of them actually got quite worked up about it too (as people do on the internet). It was quite amusing when someone in the reddit thread concluded that my opinion proved that I was clearly too much of a casual who couldn't have been playing for very long, but some of the anger people expressed was less fun. I even felt a bit sad for some of them, because what else must be going on in your life if a reward system in a video game can make you that mad? I mean, obviously we all care about this stuff more than average or we wouldn't be writing about it, but still... At least I didn't see anyone getting really nasty (or if they did, the mods were quick to delete those posts), and no toxicity spilled over onto the blog.

3. So what's the difference between beating Revan solo vs. in the operation? (2015) - 665 views

I've often said that I'm not a guide writer, but sometimes I end up writing one almost by accident, usually by talking about something that gave me pause or personally caused me trouble but which is simultaneously a minor enough issue that nobody had thought of writing a "proper" guide for it before. This is one of those posts, as I reviewed the option in the Shadow of Revan story on Yavin to deal with the temple solo or in a group. As I said in the post, it was ultimately much ado about nothing and not very well explained, so I'm not surprised that people are still googling it to find out what all the fuss is about.

4. Which Healing Class Should I Choose? (2016) - 551 views

Okay, this was one of my rare attempts to write a proper guide, even if it was a very short one. It didn't really gain much traction after its original publishing date in February 2016, but earlier this year Swtorista (again!) gave it a signal boost in a post on the official forums called "The Ultimate Guide of Guides for SWTOR 2018", in which she collected and curated links to a bunch of different community resources. I felt quite honoured to be included in that.

5. The Art of Achieving Map Completion (2014) - 495 views

This was another one of my more accidental guides, and yes, it was in my top ten of all time as well. A guide to one specific achievement is always something a bit niche, but in this case even more so since exploration is not something for which you can easily write up a few instructions, as success is more about understanding how the underlying system works than about following a prescribed order of steps. Good thing I quite like writing long rambles along those lines. It's also worth noting that this is the oldest post to still make this list.

6. The Missing Companions (2016) - 395 views

Here's the last one that was also in my top ten of all time, the one about which companions still hadn't returned after the release of KotFE. Considering that this post is now two years old and we've had a veritable surge of companion returns this year, it's getting more and more out of date though... For anyone interested I can recommend Vulkk's Companions Status List instead, which is much more detailed and he actually keeps it up to date.

7. A Traitor Among the Chiss - The Story (2017) - 359 views

Seeing this one on the list actually came as a bit of a surprise to me, as it was "just" a story review. Why were people so keen on reading someone else's thoughts on this flashpoint? Did lapsed players want to know what was happening to help them decide whether to re-sub for this new content or not? Maybe it was just because this update raised some questions at the time it came out, such as about Theron's real status or what was revealed by the mysterious star map, both of which were matters I addressed in the post.

8. KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 16: The Battle of Odessen (2016) - 274 views

Another kind of surprising one to me. I have several theories as to why people might be finding this one. One is that they are looking for help with the Arcann fight, for which the post provides some guidance but not much, and the other is that some might be agonising over whether to shoot at Senya or not and wondering what consequences it has. Surprise: there are none; the outcome of the chapter is the same either way.

9. KotET Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 6: The Dragon's Maw (2017) - 250 views

I'm guessing this one gets a fair number of hits because people are looking for hints for the puzzle section. Unfortunately I didn't provide any myself, but I did include links to actual guides in the post, so I don't feel too bad about people finding this post while searching for help.

10. So THERE's That Skytrooper Control Device (2016) - 230 views

This post is pretty much what it says on the tin - an explanation of where to find the Skytrooper Control Device for the bonus mission in KotFE chapter 15. Ironically, the last time I played through this chapter, I failed to find it myself again. After writing a whole post with screenshots about it. I suck. Still, I'm glad it's on the list because it's one of those few posts that were specifically meant to be helpful, and it looks like it has been.

It's interesting to me to see how many of last year's most popular posts were related to story. I guess this is not something that a lot of SWTOR fan sites discuss in depth anymore?

Anyway, see you in about a year for a celebration of the next 100!


I Waited 3 1/2 Years For This

More than three years ago, I mentioned in a post that I had never killed the Revanite Walker world boss on Yavin 4. As I explained at the time, he just seemed to spend most of his time dead, as in: already killed at the hands of other people.

As the years went by, the Lance Squadron Commander slowly became less interesting for guilds to kill and could be encountered slightly more frequently... but at the same time there was also less interest in killing him from my guildies. And whenever we did have a large enough group of players online and I actually remembered to bring up the matter of killing this particular boss, someone else had once again beaten us to it.

Well, yesterday it finally happened. I was just finishing off tanking a partial guild run of EC story mode when another officer excitedly called out on TeamSpeak that he'd got a group for the walker together and the boss was actually up too! (The reason there was such large interest in killing him was that this actually awards conquest points this week.) I was so there!

Aaand then we killed him. After all this time it was actually kind of anticlimactic, especially with people repeatedly going on about how much tougher he used to be "back in the day". It's not like I'd know!

Still, it definitely felt good to finally be able to hand in a quest that had been sitting in my log for three and a half years. (It's actually a weekly repeatable too, hah!) Now I just need to repeat the kill nine more times for the final achievement... at my current rate I should have it by the end of 2050.