Thursday, April 23, 2009

Confessions of a Grey Shard Runner: Epilogue

In my previous posts, I have explored the world of those players (like myself) who used the mentoring mechanic in EverQuest 2 to complete the void shard missions in The Shadow Odyssey instances with mobs set 13 – 29 levels lower than themselves. I have provided my justification and motivation for doing grey shard runs. I also explained how the execution of performing shard runs took me a bit more effort than a lot of critics of the practice will credit. But the big question still remains: was it worth it?

If the purpose was just to get the void shard gear, the answer is yes. That said, I really don’t like the fact that SOE came out and basically announced to non-raiders that you must get this gear in The Shadow Odyssey or you are a n00b. In the Rise of Kunark expansion, I liked the fact that there were a couple of good pieces of gear for each slot I could shoot for and people would run around in different gear. In fact, people could debate which pieces you should wear based on other pieces of gear you can wear. Not in TSO. All I can say is I am glad that EverQuest 2 has appearance slots or I would get sick of looking at everyone running around in tier 2 gear. In RoK, I enjoyed the journey looking for and acquiring gear. In TSO, you are a rat in a maze trying to find the lever to get a piece of cheese.

Are doing grey shard runs fun? At first, yes. I found doing the missions interesting as we tried to figure out all the tricks the devs put into the content. But after the 10th time running doing a mission, I got bored. I enjoyed the company, but besides that, grey shard runs really are not fun.
Would I recommend to a player that they should do grey shard runs? No, because SOE has announced they are an exploit. But even if they were not an exploit, I would answer no. I have another path I recommend you follow.

If you are just reaching the Kylong Plains in the Rise of Kunark expansion, I would highly recommend doing all of the non-raid content you can, concentrating on earning as much alternate achievement experience you can. When you get to level 76, start doing the Moors of Ykesha content at the same time for a little variety. As you level, pay attention to anything that you will need to do your epic weapon quest. If you get the chance to join a group going into someplace like Deep Forge every once in a while once you hit level 75, do it. Just having a piece or two of shard gear waiting for you will make things so much sweeter when you hit 79 or 80. Aim to get the best gear you can. Some of the class forums have sticky posts that help a lot. This is advice I followed when I leveled from 64 to 80.

(Note: Yes, I started the Kylong Plains content at level 64. I was already a master alchemist, so no level restriction. Remember I wrote earlier about going to places a few levels lower than I should be? Plus, Kylong Plains really was made for rangers and my main is a wood elf ranger.)

Once you’ve hit level 80, start trying to acquire your class’ fabled weapon. You don’t have to make it your main focus. Just be ready for when a chance to do another step comes along. And then do the easy TSO shard missions. The librarian quest in Deep Forge is the easiest, although it looks like our guild is going to do whatever shard quest is in that instance. Yes, we are still going to do the TSO instances. We have guildies to equip and we took a new level 75 necromancer in for his first 2 shards Monday night. Taking on the mobs with the instance set at level 80 is much more fun. We were gimped by only having 5 members and no plate tank, but like my grey shard run partner said, “we’re going to do the run the big boy way.”

Update: On July 9, 2009, Kiara posted the following on the EQ2 forums...

Whilst grey shard runs are technically an exploit (in that we did not intend for the content to be used in this way) it's been part of gameplay for long enough that changing things now would simply be punishing to our players and a major buzz kill.

Going forward we're going to do our best to ensure that we prevent stuff like this, but we won't be "breaking" the current dynamic.

* puts the topic to bed *

Thanks all!

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