Soloing in the Elven
like spiders. I’ve been able to come to an uneasy truce with
the small ones (as long as they stay out of my personal space), but the
big ones give me a serious case of the heebie jeebies. Unfortunately,
the spiders in Vanguard are not just big, they’re gigantic.
Fortunately, the virtual spiders in Telon are not quite so scary
because my Druid comes well equipped with the tools to handle them.
I started out this evening with a level 4 Druid and about an hour to
play. With only an hour of playtime, I knew I’d be soloing
instead of looking for a group to adventure with. I checked my quest
log and spotted a quest to eliminate some spiders. Aha! Nice and
simple; the perfect little newb quest to kill time with.
(Don’t worry, not all low level quests are of the
“kill 10 bugs” variety. Vanguard has a few of them
for each class to help ease you into the game.)
I made my way across the hilly forest landscape near Leth Nurae to a
valley where I knew I would find spiders lurking. And not just any
spiders, but big aggressive spiders that could eat my elf head in one
bite. Vanguard uses a dot system to help players consider the strength
of mobs before attacking them. Looking at the target information for
these creepy crawlies I could see that they were what we beta testers
call “three-dot blues.” A blue con means that the
mob is about a level below you, but three blue dots on the indicator
(which goes up to 5) tells you that it’s actually a bit
stronger for its level. As the game plays right now, a three-dot blue
will put up a decent fight. I knew that if I played well I would most
likely win my battles against these ugly arachnids, and yet
they’d be tougher than the even con two dot whites
I’d been fighting earlier. Since I like a challenge, and I
knew I’d get more experience fighting the three dots, I
planned my strategy and got to work.
The first thing I did
was buff myself with Okeli’s Shield. This spell blocks 100%
of the damage from the first two hits I take from the mob. When a mob
is doing significant damage with each hit, this spell can mean the
difference between winning the fight and winding up a corpse. I
targeted a venomous Araneo and made sure that I was at the longest
possible range for casting my lighting spell, which is the sole direct
damage spell I have at this level. I fired the lightning bolt, and as
soon as the spell left my fingers I began to summon an earth elemental.
My earthen brute materialized and immediately went to attack the
spider. I can’t control my elemental, but he’ll
fight for me to the death as long as I’m engaged in combat.
(Once I leave combat, he dematerializes.)
The Vanguard Druid isn’t a standard pet class--its elemental
pets are more like a damage over time (DoT) spell than a true pet. I
knew the spider would ignore the pet and come after me, so I continued
to fire lightning bolts in its direction. The Araneo attacked swiftly,
but my Okeli’s Shield deflected the first two blows, and
before I even began to take damage from its bites my pet and I had
whittled its health down to about a third. With a few more quick
lightning strikes the spider was defeated.
That was one spider down, and 11 more to go. I got to work knowing I
could finish this quest easily in the hour that I had if I played
things right. I sat down to quickly regenerate my health and energy,
and then set my sights on another spider. I repeated the tactics,
spider after spider, until I’d killed my quota.
Now, if this sounds suspiciously like exp grinding...it is.
I’ve never found a means of soloing in any game that
didn’t amount to some degree of grinding. Yet I was
completing a quest objective, and I was definitely having fun. And
there are certainly things that will make soloing more of a challenge.
Going after higher level mobs (if you’re one of the classes
that handles themselves well soloing) always makes things more
Getting adds can also keep solo gameplay interesting. Although I was
careful, I did get an add or two while I was spider hunting.
Fortunately, I knew that I had enough power to use my calamity, a
devastating spell called Deadly Swarm. A Druid’s calamities
(harmful spells) and wonders (beneficial spells) draw power from a
limited resource pool that regenerates very slowly. They’re
for use only in emergencies, but when you’re able to use them
they definitely do the trick. My Deadly Swarm took out the spider add
with one mega-hit that was about 8 times more powerful than my typical
direct damage spell.
After I’d killed off my share of spiders, and dinged level 5
in the process (thanks to the extra experience I was getting fighting
the three-dots), I had enough time to wander around a bit and admire
the elven forest. The
landscape is lush
and beautiful. The trees and grass sway in the breeze. The way the
light and shadows play as the sun begins to set makes the whole world
seem alive and vibrant. All of my characters have always loved the
forests, and the Thestran landscape around Leth Nurae feels like home
to me. I was so awed by the beauty of it all that I felt compelled to
stop and capture some screenshots.
I returned to my quest NPC and was rewarded with some shoulder pads for
my spider slaying efforts. She then offered me a quest that would have
me delving into the depths of a cave infested with spiders in order to
kill the spider matron. I knew that this quest would require the help
of friends. The massive train of spiders I’d seen scurrying
out of the cave after a troop of halflings was proof enough that I
shouldn’t venture into that lair alone. That quest would have
to wait for another day, and another adventure.
Do you have
comments on this journal?
Have things you'd like to hear about in
your thoughts in our forum!