Up until Kiara’s April 1st announcement on the official EverQuest 2 forums concerning the use of the mentoring mechanic to set a zone to level 50-60 characters so void shard missions could be done easier (a.k.a. a “grey shard run”), I honestly believed that the practice, while cheesy, was not an exploit. But as a guild mate pointed out to me, just because the devs allow a practice doesn’t mean you should do it. True. Also, if you’ve read the first post on The Nosy Gamer back in February, you know I stopped playing World of Warcraft partially because of the end game grind. So why would I engage in a practice that not only is cheesy but is the gaming equivalent of a rat running through a maze to poke a lever and receive a piece of cheese? After all, I play a wood elf, not a ratonga.
The first reason was simple. I had completed most of my crafting goals on my main and only had one more to accomplish: shard armor. While most of the server swarmed the Moors of Ykesha and The Shadow Odyssey instances scattered throughout Norrath, I, along with my guildies and a lot of crafters, swarmed over the new trade skill instances. This task was made a bit tougher due to bugs with the system that kept a lot of players (including myself) from entering the instances 2-3 days after the launch of the expansion. Eventually I did manage to acquire enough Far Seas Trading tokens to buy the limited use recipe books for alchemists, a complete set of crafting armor (although not the crafting jewelry), and the unicorn with the great harvesting bonuses. During this time I also completed the quest to get the Cloak of the Harvester, a cloak that not only gives harvesting bonuses but grants the wearer feather fall. But more importantly, at least as far as this post is concerned, is I acquired all four of the Far Seas Strategic Pricing Guides. The Far Seas Strategic Pricing Guides are the recipe books crafters use to make the tier 1 and tier 2 shard armor as well as jewelry, weapons, and charms. Once I discovered I could make my own armor, I determined that I wanted to run around in well-crafted armor with my name on it. In EQ2, the crafter’s name is displayed on armor, weapons, and jewelry. Cool!
The second reason is a bit more complex and goes to the differences in itemization between the Rise of Kunark and The Shadow Odyessy expansions. In RoK, I determined that once I stepped foot in the Kylong Plains that I would seek out and acquire the best non-raid equipment I could as I leveled up. I researched the various faction armor I could wear while progressing and found the sticky in the Ranger forums on the best non-raid tier 8 gear a Ranger could own. I was really pleased with that choice, not only because of the places I wound up visiting at a bit lower level than I should have, but with my performance. I didn’t realize how well I was doing until my guild joined into a raiding alliance with 2 other guilds and while level 75-77 was regularly outparsing the level 80 rangers in the raid and staying within shouting distance of a level 80 assassin’s dps. By the time TSO was released last November, the only piece of gear I wore that was not listed in the equipment list on the forums were my boots. Even though I could never get the Trooper Scale Boots to drop, I was really proud of what I achieved. Because of the hodge-podge of equipment I wore, I didn’t look like anything special, but an experienced player would know I packed a wallop.
The Shadow Odyssey is a whole different ballgame. Having the Far Seas Strategic Pricing Guides allowed me to see just how much better the shard armor was than my hard won RoK gear. The best non-raid gear was going to be found in the group instances. And the gear to get was the shard armor, which I knew would cost 38 shards to acquire the tier 1 set if I made it and an additional 112 shards to craft the tier 2 set. I also saw the writing on the wall for this expansion. In order to get into groups I was going to need to have at least a set of tier 1 armor and probably tier 2. Even those players who didn’t realize the importance of upgrading their spells and combat arts from apprentice 4s to adept 3s were going know enough about the expansion to know that shard armor is some of the best gear. While I’m a crafter, I do like to adventure on occasion and if I wanted to be able to get into groups six months after the launch of the expansion, I needed to get the shard armor.
I was already starting a month behind in the quest for the armor since I concentrated on my crafting. So how was I going to catch up, especially since I only had 60-90 minutes a night to play during the week? Simple, really. Since the devs had not declared doing the shard missions an exploit, I jumped at the chance to do grey shard runs when I was first invited about a month after the expansion launched.
I know I could have tried to get groups, but with so little available play time I figured the only groups I could get were guild groups and quite frankly, our small guild of tradeskillers and merchant adventurers didn’t have enough people to tackle the TSO instances at level. Back in November, we had 3 players with level 80 toons and no one had their fabled weapons. And at the time I started doing the grey shard runs, the guild’s level 80 healer left the game to play WoW because the launch went so poorly for the crafter content she bought the expansion to experience. Duo’ing the instances with the other level 80 in the guild just seemed the thing to do.
Before anyone tells me I should have left my guild for a bigger guild that would meet my needs better, I just want to say one thing. I’m in a high-end CRAFTING guild I have been a part of for almost 2 years filled with great people. A guild to which I have contributed almost 2 million guild status points to help level the guild to 76. And did I mention we have a tier 3 guild hall with all the amenities? If you think I’m going to leave my guild and the great people that make up my guild in order to play EverQuest 2 the way you think I should, you have another thing coming!
So why did I do grey shard runs? To make the best crafted gear I could make. To make gear not only for the joy of creating it, but to have cool gear I could wear that has my name on it. Cool gear that is amongst the best non-raid gear in the game that will help me find and join groups outside my guild when the feeling to plunge into an instance overtakes me. And to play the game in a way to allow me to stay in the guild where all of my on-line game friends reside.
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