Bringing It All Back Home (well, in a way)

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I have actually mentioned anything about what I have been doing in SWTOR here on Zerneblog due to May being taken up by the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  Well, like many other people, I have been taking full on advantage of the 12x XP boost and have rolled a brand new Juggernaut on a brand new server, so look out for me!

A New Character and a New Server

I guess I should probably mention my reasoning for going to a new server (especially because I am no where close to maxing out my available slots on my home server, Ebon Hawk.  Well, shortly after starting Zerneblog I was introduced to Ravanel (author of the superb gamer’s blog Ravalation).  Ravanel informed me about Developer Appreciation Week when it came around and helped me get in contact with another member of the gaming blog community known as Rowan Blaze.  Both of these wonderful authors helped to spread the word of my blog throughout the rest of the community, and Rowan Blaze actually mentioned the fact that I should join Twitter, Google+, and other social networking sites (you can now find me on the major social networks:  Twitter @zerneblog, Facebook Zernebog Zloney and Google+ zerneblog at gmail dot com).  Through this experience of being on Twitter (especially) and being in contact with many of the other members of the community, I was given the pleasure of meeting so many new members of the playing community that I didn’t know before.

Of course, during this time I began listening to a lot more SWTOR podcasts.  Brian and Chuck from the Bad Feeling Podcast engaged me quite quickly and I became hooked to their podcast.  I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Pixelkaffe (author of the equally wonderful blog, Pixelkaffe), R2D2Arm (author of R2’s Blog), Master Liu (the amazingly talented voice behind The Balance Force blog), Emnara (a crazy amazing blogger that owns and operates Powerdress Gaming), Shintar (the author of Going Commando), and really countless others stream, create their own podcasts (Marshal and Will, I’m talking about you here!), or simply just play and love SWTOR as much as I do (it’s been a major pleasure to get to know Stardust Legacy, the Guild Master for Unholy Alliances on the Harbringer).  While this 12x XP was beginning, Twitter became abuzz with people jumping onto new servers to start leveling toons to help other members of the community.  I have personally had at least two players that I know of that have come over to Ebon Hawk to roll new toons and joined my beloved guild, The Order of Shadow Knights.

(Special Shoutout to Pixelkaffe and Stardust Legacy for joining up with OSK-I cannot adequately express my appreciation of your decisions to help us out over here!)

Well, since so many people were going to this server or that server, I thought I would do the same.  I decided to roll my first new server toon on Jung Ma to play with Chuck and Brian from the Bad Feeling Podcast (my friends, Master Liu and Emnara, have also rolled new toons on Jung Ma and have started playing with as well.  I have also had the pleasure of getting to know all the amazing guys that raid with .


I chose to roll a Sith Pureblood named Zerneblog on Jung Ma.  I have also just began to really start using the Outfit Designer as well.  Like many that have been playing the game for any length of time, I have that nice Imperial Pilot suit and Republic Pilot suit that are both moddable gear from the introduction of Galactic Star Fighter (GSF).  I have been using this as my base gear (having the ability to mod it without having to look for all orange-quality gear).  It took forever to find a usable substitute for any part of this gear that matched a look that I would like to continue (I actually found a decent respirator on DK and a pair of pants on Alderaan, then a fitting top that I think was originally designed for Marauders on Belsavis).  Though I am still in that stupid pilot suit, I finally have a look that I can stomach for now (I like the hoods since I normally end up rolling force users that do not have hair).

As of now, I have reached level 47 and am running around on Voss.  I am thinking about moving on to Makeb to take advantage of the bolster until I reach 55 then go back to finish Voss and Corellia before heading back to quest up to 60.  I have also not really done any flashpoint leveling (my prefered method when 12x XP is not in effect).

What have all of you wonderful fans been doing with 12x XP?  Have you done any server hopping?  Have you rolled new alts on your home server to experience new stories?  What do you think about people that roll toons on multiple servers?


NBI2015 Murphy’s Screenshot Safari Hero or Villain?

When I think about the phrase “Hero or Villain” and apply it to SWTOR, there is one character that embodies both elements that comes to my mind.  That character is the intimidating visage of Darth Malgus.  While obviously a villain to any of the Republic players, Imperial players see him both as a hero of the Empire and later a traitor and therefore villain.  Imperial players constantly see Darth Malgus as a herald for the Empire, from his role as a chief aggressor alongside his master, Darth Vindican, during The Return cinematic, to the introducer of each of the major flashpoints leading up to Ilum.  Malgus is everywhere.

Malgus is portrayed as a staunch defender of the Empire, taking action against the Republic at every turn while also embodying the Sith Code in his every deed.  Malgus is such a hero to the Empire that when the “Malgus the Betrayer” story arc comes around at Ilum, I was seriously heart-broken to run The False Emperor flashpoint.  It was this huberus that takes Malgus from being the Hero of the Empire to being the Imperial “Public Enemy #1.”  We see Malgus’ rise through the many cinematics (The Return and Hope are two of those cinematics that show the rise of Malgus), we then see Malgus as one of the most trusted members of the Empire and Dark Council throughout all of the original launch, and we finally see his end with the Ilum arc.

Playing from the Sith Warrior perspective, I felt especially betrayed following the main Ilum story line (I had to run these after I had hit 55 because I was not sure that I could handle the tank role on the story mode version of these fights-I have, of course, now found out that I would have had little problem).  I cannot think of any other character (especially a Non-Player Character) that exhibits the dual Hero/Villain qualities as Darth Malgus does.


Epic Story Boost

By now whether you are a subscriber to SWTOR or not, you are of course aware of the Epic Story Boost (also known as 12 times XP).  This is such a wonderful time to begin leveling up toons at break-neck speed; especially if you are repeating classes.  For example, I usually tend to keep my toons housed on the Ebon Hawk server, but I rolled a new Juggernaut on Jung Ma to join the <Has A Bad Feeling> guild.  Not only am I able to use this time to get to know a new group of people, but I have been able to get used to the Discipline System on the Sith Warrior (I had leveled Zerne up to about 53 before Shadow of Revan went live so I was using the old Talent Tree system).

Two of the things that I don’t like about the Epic Story Boost are the fact that it only applies to Story content and it is incredibly common to run into people that are now severely undergeared.  I have been using the GSF-provided moddable Imperial Pilot suit for leveling my new Jugg (which looks absolutely atrocious, but it gives me a set of gear to be modded as I increase my levels so quickly).  Though I may hate the look, at least I have current gear.  This helps while running your class missions and earning that sweet sweet XP (multiplied by 12!).  It would be ridiculous, of course, to expect 12 times XP to be applied to anything but story, but I prefer to do my leveling through leveling flashpoints.

During the last Double XP week, I grinded out instance after instance through Group Finder, getting used to my new tank, Ja’rilo.  I think in one day I played Mandalorian Raiders something insane like 15 times consecutively.  I prefer to level this way mostly due to the fact that I love to tank.  Flashpoint after flashpoint not only forces me to get to know the mechanics of each fight, but it also allows me to work on my rotation and find out where I am loosing aggro and why.  I have come to the realization that it takes a certain mindset to tank.  At least to tank effectively.  You are constantly looking at each fight, weighing the instances where you lose aggro or see your group taking excess damage.  It also really begins to make you understand the importance of positioning-especially bosses (but this discussion is better left to another blog post on another day).

But back to the subject at hand.  I have really been enjoying this story boost because it has allowed me to basically finish an entire planet each day that I play.  The first day that I rolled my Jugg I was able to complete Korriban (left Korriban at level 14).  The second day, I played all the way through Drommund Kaas (finishing at level 20) and was even able to begin Balmorra.  I am now sitting at level 21 on Balmorra waiting to be able to log in again and get back to the grind.  I am still amazed that I was able to go from 1-21 in a matter of just a few days.  Though this boost will only remain until level 55, I am confident I can get at least a couple of my toons to max level before the end.  Besides, I am happy to just be able to do story content on each planet (besides, my preferred method of leveling usually keeps me able to only focus on story content since I do so many flashpoints).

I have also been able to get my Shadow through Tython and up to level 15 on Ebon Hawk.  She has been a lot of fun to work with as I have been able to learn a completely new style of tanking.  As much as I love the Epic Story Boost, I do sometimes wish that Bioware would opt instead for a long Double XP period with no restrictions (even being able to stack experience boosts on top of the double XP).  This sounds wonderful to me because of my leveling strategy and may not be a shared opinion among others.


Murphy’s Screenshot Safari (selfie)

Zernebog embodies everything that comes to mind when one thinks of the word “Juggernaut”:  a fierce exterior, powerful lightsaber movements, and the ability to strike petrifying fear into his enemies.  Leaping into battle from several meters his enemies never see their demise coming-until it is too late.

Zerne has so far been my favorite toon to level throughout my life in SWTOR.  Though I have several “lowbie” characters, Zerne is my first (and so far only) that I brought to max level.  There was something about the slow progression of being a “Preferred Status” player that allowed me to scour the Star Wars galaxy for the perfect look.  Though this selfie is a little dated, Zerne still has a very similar look.  The chest piece, gloves and respirator have all remained, though the belt has changed.

I wanted to focus on the selfie aspect of the Newbie Bloggers’ Initiative because I wanted to touch on the joy that comes with gearing out your favorite toon.  Now, obviously I am male, so I don’t have that wonderful eye for multiple outfits.  It’s hard enough for me to come up with one outfit that I like instead of trying to figure out which top coordinates with which bottoms.  I finally came upon this look after finishing most of the story missions in Star Wars:  The Old Republic.  There have been so many options, and so many of them I just hated.  The hardest thing for me to believe though, is that the respirator has been the same model that I got for completing one of the Heroic 4 quests on Nar Shaddaa (early in the game)!

Coming up with this look was certainly not easy!  I looked at so many mission rewards while coming up with this outfit.  I must say, I am really pleased with the end result.  The boots were actually the hardest part for me because I don’t like the massive boots that come with most of the Juggernaut gear.  I know 3.2 brought the Outfit Designer with it, but I had already gotten this look together by the time the Outfit Designer went live. I know many of my guildies have been waiting with bated breath for the Outfit Designer to go live because they are so dearly wanting to change their outfits around all the time.  My opinion on it was, “Darth Vader and Boba Fett only have one set of armor that they wear everyday-why do I need more than that?”

So here he is.  Zernebog the Immortal Juggernaut.  Path Carver.  Destroyer.  Decimator.  Tank.  I wouldn’t want to be on the swinging side of his black/red lightsaber blade.


Introducing Awwim

Now that the Epic Story Boost (12x XP) has come around, I have decided to roll the only other tanking class I have not tried.  Rather than roll a second Inquisitor though (I already have a Corruption Sorcerer, Dodola), I decided to switch factions and roll my first ever Republic toon.  You guessed it, Awwim.  So, say to hello to the newest member of my Legacy.

Awwim 1

The first toon I ever rolled (Dikarzloney) was an Assassin back in the 2.x series, but being the first character I had ever rolled, I had sooooooo many problems (had no idea how to gear so Dikar had Willpower, Strength, Cunning and Aim pieces).  Dikar eventually met his fate with the delete button (easier to start again than to pick up a broken toon).  In the place of Dikar, I went to the Republic side and rolled this lovely lady you see above.  You’ll have to forgive me, though, I don’t have a very good eye for catching a good screen shot, so this one will have to work.  I also bought a beautiful Black/Pink Indestructible crystal to go into my dual saber.

I have really been enjoying the new playstyle (well, new to me) of the Shadow.  It’s a little difficult to work out the rotation as I hardly have any abilities (I do have a taunt now though!) and fighting Qyzen for aggro is a drag.  I did finally get my Combat Technique so that I am finally in tank stance (with this came the ability to take Qyzen out of tank stance and disable his taunt), so hopefully it won’t be an aggro race between my own companion and me.

On another note, I rolled my second Juggernaut, but on a new server.  I am very glad that I have gotten to know so many new people (and have been finding new people that are on my home server) since I have started playing SWTOR (and even more so now that I am reading people’s blogs and listening to a shit-ton of podcasts).  I approached a couple of my favorite people to listen to and asked them if they needed some help on their server, so my new Juggernaut has found his way to Jung Ma.  I forgot to take a screenshot of him, so you’ll just have to wait until next time!

So, what do you all think of Shadow/Assassin tanking.  Can you give me any good advice as I begin this new section of my SWTOR journey?  Know any tips for a beginner Shadow/’Sin tank?  Any and all advice will be taken to heart and I look forward to hearing from you!