Here We Go Again...

I don't know what it is about Vanguards, but there's always something which makes me want to keep giving this Class a try. I think I've probably created about seven of them by now, before ultimately writing them off for some reason or other. Either I didn't find the playstyle to my liking or I just rationalised the need to dedicate myself to the Class as pointless because, after all, I already have an established Trooper; a Commando.

Yet no matter what, without fail I create at least one new Vanguard during each Expansion, just to see whether the changes - and there have been a fair few across 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and now 5.0 - are enough to get past my previous stigmas. Bonus points for 2.0 having two new Vanguards created and even my original 'true Main' character, the Vanguard Tank Kiratahn, resurrected.

In 5.0 I believe there are a few more specific layers to my most recent diving into the Vanguard experience.

Firstly, the changes to Jedi Guardian - which was already one of my favourite Classes, in fairness - for 5.0 - removing most channels, making it infinitely more mobile - made me absolutely fall in love with it, to the extent that I'd now easily cite Vigilance as my favourite Spec in the entire game.

Secondly, I've come to realise just how tedious I find Commando DPS. Gunnery is boring as hell whilst Assault is just all over the place and is definitely one of the most "acquired taste" specs available. Not that I'm anticipating Plasmatech being any less in 5.0...

So, since 5.0 made Vigilance a lot more fun than it used to be - even if it simultaneously neutered Master Strike Blade Dance Blade Barrage - and I've practically written off my Commando, I am very curious to see whether Vanguard can captivate my interests at long last or whether or not it will be another waste of time.

With Levelling Content being how it is, it's certainly not going to be really that easy to work out what the answer will be, but that's definitely more of a problem with how quickly things die now more than it is due to the Classes who experience the fights. That said, Vanguards are very good at demolishing packs of mobs with their Flak Shell and Ion Wave in particular, so whilst this certainly makes for a fun 'stomping' experience, it definitely doesn't help this "things die too quickly" issue in the slightest.

I'm also not a huge fan of how the Vanguard gets their Leap at Level 59, but hey-ho, it's not the end of the world. With how I do Planets - I may abhor the Levelling process since I tend to learn a Class better when I have most of my skills available but I still absolutely adore the Levelling content - it won't take that long to get 'up there', at which point I can focus on experimenting as properly as I can given the circumstances. This will take even quicker than I was anticipating since a week of Double-XP will be beginning tomorrow.

Good thing certain Heroics take some time to mow through these days.

Anyway, I've spent long enough wittering on about Vanguards and stuff and I haven't even posted a picture of the subject in question yet.

Introducing Jehnira!

Currently I'm in two minds about her. You may recall that in my 5.4 summary post I said that I was thinking of trying Lana's hair model, but it does not adapt well to either of the darker hair colours afforded to humans. I still decided to see what it was like out in the 'real game world' rather than just visible within the Character Creator, and it certainly doesn't look as bad as I was originally perceiving. Still very silver, though.

I honestly don't know for sure, though. I'll keep her with the new Lana-look for the time being and obviously I can revert back if I don't find it entirely to my liking after a few days. Anyone have any opinions on the matter that they'd like to share?

Somewhat interestingly, I believe her name finally brings an end to my apparent aversion of using all letters in a character's name except for the one which my own name starts with. Having scrapped all but one of my DvL characters I am unable to confirm whether or not this is truly the case, but I do seem to recall having used the only other outstanding letter - Q - in one of their names, in which case I've finally used every single letter of the alphabet in my characters' names.

Not that this was something which needed doing. I just found it amusing how after all these years of creating several dozen characters that there were still a handful of letters which I had never thought of using, and now it's hopefully come to a close.

Also, somewhat distractingly, without intending to I seem to have accidentally remade a former friend's Vanguard, just with darker skin (I think), different colour eyes, and potentially a different hairstyle if I decide to stick with Lana's hairstyle. Otherwise it's still different, but only because it lacks the front strands which would normally cover the left eye since it's the same base style. Amusingly, all throughout creating her I kept thinking "I've seen this character design before, I swear it", but was otherwise perfectly content with her look. It was only halfway through Ord Mantell when glancing at the character portrait that the resemblance finally clicked.

Comes to something when you remember what a character looked like from the portrait and not from an in-game cutscene.

So that's awkward. But hey, he's not around anymore to know, so it's nowhere near as awkward as it could have been. Now that I've said this, he'll turn up out-of-the-blue next week sometime. That's usually how these things work, right?

Finally, I am rather pleased to finally be able to translate this particular armour and weapon combination onto a Character of my own. The combination of the Havoc Squad Armour with the Stronghold Defender's Blaster Rifle (coupled with the Strap Tuning) has been a 'staple' look for Aric Jorgans across my Legacy for some time now, with Miorahna's Rusk even having his own variation of this style, so to finally have a Character who can use it themselves feels very satisfying indeed.

It also really helps that when this particular rifle folds up, it becomes far less of a sticking-out-eyesore on a female character's back compared to practically every other rifle out there, where - unlike on male characters - the stock invariably sticks out over crest of the character's head. Definitely one of my biggest pet peeves with female rifle-wielding characters.

Of course, keeping in with the trend, Jehnira's Aric also makes use of this style. I'm nothing if not consistent.


So, yeah. Curious to see how long this particular experiment lasts. I'm not expecting great results, but maybe I'll be surprised. Time shall tell. 


  1. One of my two characters who has completed the entire story is a Vanguard Tank (for complicated metagame reasons related to DvL). Tanking through the story is ... tedious, and they have the least useful ability in the entire game in Intercession (IMO). And aesthetically it irritates me that the blaster rifle classes in the game are both melee classes (Curiously enough, my other story-complete character is an Operative).

    But Vanguards are tough, and the Trooper storyline was enjoyable enough, and different enough to make playing a DS Trooper on the second playthrough interesting (my first Trooper, a commando, is mired in Makeb and I have no interest in moving him up my list of priority to play).

    Also, you are making me want to buy the Havok Trooper set and the new hairstyles. Even though my two "havok squads" already have uniforms (Green/green MA-35 Forward Ops breastplate or recolors, and White/Grey Havok Officer's breastplate).

    1. Curses, my ultimate plan of ultimate evil has been discovered...

      Totally with you on the Blaster Rifle point. I'm hopeful that if Weapons become a part of Outfit Designer that it will be possible to use a Blaster Rifle onto a Sniper or Commando without reducing their effectiveness in any way, shape, or form. At least that way people should be able to use a Rifle at range, and there are some pretty damn decent Rifles out there that would suit a Sniper (the one featured in the post, for example).

      I would agree that the Trooper Storyline is decent. Its second Chapter is one of my favourites and includes probably my top pick for a closing-Act mission. I've been meaning to complete it again for some time (for all the Troopers I've created I've only completed their story twice, the last time being in March 2013), so hopefully this time I'll be able to do just that.

    2. Unless they change a core tenet of their art direction; they're not going to allow "cross-class" weapon equipping (and it would require a certain amount of animation work as well; not a trivial undertaking).

      Also, correction - it was the Havoc Specialist's armor that forms the core of my Tank trooper's Havoc Uniform, not the Officer's. I can't stand the Havoc Officer's set.

  2. "Anyone have any opinions on the matter that they'd like to share?"

    Well, since you asked... I absolutely *love* the Lana hair on your character, so I'd definitely stick with it! How did you get them in that pose with the white background, if I may ask? Did you cut them out yourself, or did you go to that tube on Taris (or another place that I don't know about)? :)

    1. Thanks, Rav; appreciate your input. :D

      The image is accomplished by a mock-up of a 'green-screen' in my Coruscant Stronghold. I'd love to have an official one at some point, but it probably won't ever happen because very few people would appreciate the point of it.

      Basically, it's two of the greenish Underworld Shelving Units (used to be the Office Dividers, but they just play havoc - no pun intended - with white armour sets) turned around completely so that only the plain back is facing outwards and interlocked together at a slight angle. They are then bathed in enough light that shadows are formed on both sides equally but isn't so bright that nothing can be seen.

      I simply back the character up against the construct, zoom in to roughly above their waist, have them 'look at' either 2V or C2 (depending on their faction, which also dictates which way they're facing their torsos) who are planted a little while away, and make the subject do various poses to see which ones fit the character, coupled with a similarly-specific mood.

      That done, I then simply take the image to Photoshop and use the Select Focus Area tool to select which parts of the picture are kept and what is removed. It's not perfect, and sadly the new shadows option is slightly problematic since it seems to add some additional layering on top of the characters, but it's serviceable enough.

      I'll see if I can make it the focus of a Blog Post at some point.

    2. Agreed about the Lana hair, very nice.

  3. Incidentally, Also, having gotten the hair styles, they continue the tradition of having terrible clipping options for a number of the miralan masks that have "headbands."I'm severely tempted to use the appearance console to take my miralan human, except a)that's expensive, and b)I already *have* a lot of humans.