Knights of the Eternal Throne: The Story

Today it has been a month since the Knights of the Eternal Throne story was made accessible to Early Access players, so I thought I'd 'commemorate' this by considering the 'spoiler watershed' a thing of the past and finally begin talking about the story.

How this will work is I'll be covering each Chapter briefly in turn, then giving a final summary outlining my overall favourite and least favourite moments. The usual nonsense, y'know?

Without further ado, let's get started.


The Time of Celebrations and Reflections

It may not have escaped your attention (unless you're sensibly retracted from the world at large, in which case I applaud you for even venturing onto the internet) that today is Christmas Day. Yippee, hurray, etc. etc.

More seriously, though, I wish everyone around the world as happy a holiday season - no matter what religion(s) you follow, or whether you even avoid the entire shebang entirely - as they can possibly have. Obviously, circumstances in some parts of the world will render this an impossibility, and my thoughts are of course with those people in their times of crisis.

Above all, of course, it can't be denied that 2016 has been a rather brutal year.

Not only has the entertainment industry been purged of so many brilliant talents*, but we've seen countries in the 'civilised' western world divided and derided by democracy, votes, and manipulative media. No matter which side you took, if you could even take a side at all, I hope that you're happy with your decision, even if we can't make the best of it as easily as people might like to believe.

2016, your time is up. Let's only hope that 2017 proves to be more kindly to us all.

From the serious to the superficial.

I also can't call myself a SWtOR Blogger and neglect to touch upon the fact that this week has also been one of celebration for SWtOR; it has now surpassed five years of age. I don't have anything special planned to celebrate this like a character evolution montage across five years, mainly because I haven't actually had a single character last across every single year.

The closest is a character who was created in very early 2012 (the game came out at the end of 2011 of course), who has been all but abandoned on the Harbinger server since his replacement was created last year and even more so now that I've finally made the move I shouldn't ever have needed to make to play on The Red Eclipse. In contrast, my current main - as well as my most-dedicated-to alt - was created halfway through 2013.

At the same time, though, these years could have gone drastically different if I had joined TRE from the start. Things working out as they have, I've settled nicely into an awesome community which makes me feel that, after five years of trying to find my place, I've finally found it. This last year has proved to have been, in my opinion, the best year in SWtOR that I've ever had, and I can only humbly thank everyone whom I deem 'responsible' for this being possible.

Just a short post for this, which will also serve as the replacement for Monday's post. I've got a rather big post planned for Thursday, so I don't really have anything more to add for the otherwise scheduled post for tomorrow.

* Since writing this post, George Michael, best known for being part of the group Wham! was declared deceased by his publicist, and Carrie Fisher, of course best known for being the indomitable Princess Leia, have both died. The entertainment industry really hasn't had a good year. :(


Curing Bergola in Eternal Throne Chapter VI: The Dragon's Maw

Eternal Throne's sixth chapter, The Dragon's Maw, has already attracted a fair bit of attention for being one of the most unique Chapters released thus far. Rather than fighting your way into Vaylin's palace, your job is to simply infiltrate her party in disguise, and thus the Chapter runs very calmly for the entire first half.

Part of what makes the Chapter so interesting is that, because things are calmly-paced, there are several background moments which you can either simply observe or have a direct hand in. Most notably, these are the discussion between the Knights of Zakuul about Watcher Izax and Beast Master Oleg berating a poor assistant for being unable to cure a 'sick kid', better known as an Exoboar by the name of Bergola.

What you may not have realised during your own playthroughs of this Chapter is that there actually is a way to cure Bergola of her sickness.


Wednesday Warzones #9: What's in a Name?

Wednesday Warzones another instalment thereof it's time for!

Warzones took a week break last week, simply because for all the Warzone footage I have, I've realised that an incredibly large amount of the videos are taken from the perspective of guarding (I like to refer to myself as the 'designated guarder' of the player-groups we get going) with very few - if in fact any - interruptions from enemy players, which really doesn't result in fun watchable footage.

Indeed, it's telling that I've actually completely skipped over the entirety of October and gone straight to footage from November.

But that's those bits of footage, and this is this footage. Whilst the video itself is one of the shortest yet done, I'm rather pleased to say that this actually features the longest bit of unedited pure footage of any video thus far for the Odessen segment, which is completely unedited after the first two jumpcuts right at the start.

Additionally, people who are subscribed to Shintar's YouTube Channel who may have seen her most recent Twin Suns Outtakes video may recognise aspects of the first HyperGates. I'm personally a huge fan of two videos showing the same scenario but from two different perspectives, just because it gives it that added layer of understanding.



Ancient HyperGates (5th November):

Vhialla - Balance Sage
Jengos - Shield Specialist Tank
Zoccin - Scrapper Scoundrel
Golu - Seer Sage

Odessen Proving Grounds (6th November):

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Teloo - Combat Sentinel
Shilu - Sawbones Scoundrel


Veteran Outlander: Chapter Difficulty, Part I

As mentioned last week, I've still got a fair few things to start talking about. Veteran Chapters, the Eternal Throne story, Uprisings, and so on and so forth. Today, I'm going to be tackling the Veteran Chapters, a new 'feature' of 5.0, whereby you can replay most of the Chapters of Fallen Empire and all of the Chapters of Eternal Throne in a harder difficulty. 

Because I want to talk about the Eternal Throne story before I discuss how each of those Chapters work as Veteran, today will be dedicated entirely to Fallen Empire's Veteran difficulty.

Let's get started!


Those Galactic Command Changes

Another friggin' Galactic Command post!

As mentioned in yesterday's post, BioWare were due to announce upcoming changes to Galactic Command in 5.1 in the evening stream.

The stream has of course come and gone, so what are the changes like?

In a nutshell: eerily similar to past proceedings.

Basically, how things will work is this:
  • Operations Bosses will once again drop Unassembled Gear Pieces
  • Unassembled Gear will scale with Ops difficulty; Story Mode drops Tier I, Veteran Mode drops Tier II, and Master Mode will drop Tier III
  • PvP - not including StarFighter - will grant a new 'currency' type called Unassembled Components, which can then be used to 'buy' a Tier I Unassembled Token of any variety, the turn-in for which is required to upgrade to Tier II and so on and so forth for Tier III
  • Combining either item with new (Bind-on-Legacy) Command Tokens - which will be guaranteed drops from each Command Pack - will enable you to purchase the gear from vendors
It's interesting to see them do almost a complete heel-turn on this. Outside of the little details, this is exactly how things used to work, and in many ways it's wonderful to see them realise that their darling system was flawed.

So, that's the facts. What are my interpretations of the above?

Firstly, this does not mean that Galactic Command is becoming worthless. You'd still need to get the Ranks to acquire the Command Tokens (that they are guaranteed drops is wonderful), so it's not as if you could go into an Operation, pick up an Unassembled Gear Piece, and hey presto, there's your gear anymore. The grind will still be present, it's just going to be largely insignificant compared to what it is now.

Secondly, Command Tokens are not only guaranteed drops in the future, but they're going to be rewarded retroactively as well. For some players this might not mean a lot depending on how much each piece costs Token-wise. For others, however, this will mean that they could be relatively 'wealthy' and able to make the most out of their winnings in Operations. The good news is that 5.1 isn't out until the 24th of January, so this is plenty of time for even relatively prolific players to get to Tier II, if not at least a quarter-of-the-way through. 

Thirdly, this change is especially fantastic because (theoretically, more details in a moment) once again we can now gear returning and new players relatively easily. Sure, there's no Highlighted Mode, but Rating 236 gear is designed for Master Mode, so gearing them up through Hard Modes isn't exactly going to be a waste of time.

As an addendum to the previous point, this will only go so far. BioWare's apparent hard-on for RNG has ensured that it will still be in existence; only the last boss has a guaranteed set piece drop, and we don't know which bosses drop what yet, if indeed this piece itself is 'set', which it may not be. Every other boss only has a chance to drop a completely random difficulty-relevant Unassembled piece. It's like NiM in the early 4.0 days all over again but even more annoying since this affects all difficulty modes.

So close and yet still so far, BioWare, but at least you've tried! 

Funnily enough, this particular aspect is particularly out-of-place considering that people who raid and do PvP (I predict we'll see an even bigger influx of these players based on this) will essentially be able to completely negate this RNG by steadily earning the specific pieces themselves. Sure, it's slower, but at the end of the day these players should eventually be able to pick-and-choose what they need rather than rely purely on RNG.

At the same time, maybe this is yet another attempt to convince people to be more involved with the wider game; certainly, if it wasn't planned, it's going to have this effect anyway because, as has been proved spectacularly by certain individuals since 5.0, players enjoy finding as many ways around the grind as possible.

Finally, Command Tokens have an as-of-yet unspecific 'extra' bonus to ensure that players who neither raid nor do PvP will be able to use them for something 'cool'. We don't yet know what these extra items will be, but it's safe to bet that they're probably going to be cosmetics such as an armour look, pets, and Decorations. Regardless, compared to being able to buy actual gear with them the purpose of these for true 'Casuals' is wholly insignificant compared to their full potential. 


As I say, it's absolutely fascinating to see them pull a complete heel-turn on this, and so quickly to boot. Based on the feedback it was getting since launch, one can see that it was basically inevitable, which again raises the question of why they thought it was a good idea in the first place

Ultimately, what this goes to show even further is that BioWare are still trying to figure out 'their' own things to include in this game, which is admirable, but in this case it has severely backfired.

This all said, I am looking forward to this change being implemented. Whether it will truly serve as more than a simple bandage in-practice remains to be seen, but at-present the potential for the system to be 'rescued' is there, but the damage has of course already been done. It's certainly a change for the better in many a Raider and PvPers' eye, but for the Solo player whose time had seemingly finally come, this change could be painful to endure.


Personal Experience with Galactic Command

I've got a lot of things to talk about for 5.0. Uprisings, Veteran Chapters, and the Eternal Throne story are all worth spending a fair amount of time on.

For today's post, however, it's yet another Galactic Command post because for all that I've been talking about it, I haven't really been talking about my personal relationship with the system.

We know that BioWare are going to change the system in 5.1 (their Stream later this evening will herald further details), so it could well be that this will be the only post of this sort.

If you know how I play this game (for those who don't: I tend to only stick to one character for activities and rarely play alts unless for a specific reason), then you may not be surprised to learn that I am already Tier II on my main Calph and have been since Tuesday. I haven't gone out of my way to earn CXP or anything; this has just come from doing everything that I would normally do on this character. Additionally, this has been done without a single CXP Booster from the Cartel Market.

I do have to admit, though, that I don't particularly enjoy being as high as I am, especially as I am unfortunately leading the charge in my guild. Whilst I don't mind this making me look like a "no-lifer", the feeling that being Tier II whilst everyone else is Tier I is in some eyes an 'I'm superior and you're inferior' implicator isn't pleasant. It really doesn't help that whilst I want to do my best to help as many people as possible with the grind the system won't allow this to be done without in some way advancing my own Command Rank and making the gulf even larger. 

I am not, and nor would I ever do so, criticising my fellows for levelling up the system too slowly. This is purely self-criticism for, if anything, playing the system too quickly, since I have never enjoyed leaving people behind. Indeed, I am extremely tempted to avoid upgrading any of my 230 items to 234 until at least three other people in the guild are Tier II just so I can stay on a roughly-similar level to those who haven't bought 234/240 Mods and Enhancements early to 'cheat' the system.

Moral high-grounds may be unnecessary in this day and age, but I'll be damned if I let greed get the better of me.

Anyway, from saying I don't enjoy boasting to unfortunately writing as if I am. I didn't keep tabs on how many pieces of green and blue gear I received, but I did try my best to keep an eye on all the purple pieces. Long story short, Calph unboxed nine purple Eternal Commander MK-3 pieces which she could actually use, missing out on an Adept Earpiece, the Bracers, the Gloves, and her Mainhand and Offhand.

The Bracers were actually the only set piece from three boxes earned by Pippera the Sniper, who hit 70 during her version of Eternal Throne's story. Being a completionist by nature, I decided to craft and eventually begrudgingly buy the missing 230 armouring, barrels, and enhancement I still needed (Earpiece notwithstanding because non-optimisation is awful) when it became clear that I just wasn't going to get lucky with earning the actual pieces.

As for duplicates and pieces I couldn't have used, I received an extra Helmet, an extra Belt, two extra Focused Retribution Relics, a Devastating Vengeance Relic, an Initiative Earpiece, an Adept Implant, and a Quick Savant Earpiece.

So at the end of it all, seventeen crates from Calph's ninety yielded set pieces, with nine of these being useful. That's really not a good return rate, even when the 'small fact' that only 14 crates need to yield something useful as a minimum is considered.

I'm looking forward to seeing how they're going to change this system. At the moment it isn't pleasant to deal with in the slightest, and I'm saying that as someone who undoubtedly got a relatively lucky spin at the wheel.


Knights of the Mass Effect

One of BioWare's most successful game series they've done has been the Mass Effect trilogy, centering around Commander John/Jane/whomever Shepard and their dealings with the Reapers and the threat they present to the galaxy.

Since Knights of the Fallen Empire was released, people have noticed more than a couple of parallels between the story of Mass Effect and the new game story of The Old Republic. As someone who only picked up the ME trilogy last September, even I have noticed these parallels.

Let's delve into the similarities between the two. Obviously, this will contain spoilers for all three Mass Effect games, the Fallen Empire expansion, and to some extent the Eternal Throne expansion as well, so be wary.


That Pesky Alignment

So last week in my Thoughts on 5.0 post I mentioned in passing that Calph's alignment had been reset, and I had no idea why it had happened.

Having managed to get her back to Light V on the Saturday, I was somewhat aggrieved to discover yesterday afternoon that this had occurred yet again.

I'm still trying to find a possible cause, but I have noticed a connection. Both times it's happened so far it's happened on days where I've done my standard Dailies runs, and I've always noticed it either during or shortly after working on those in Section X. There has to be something that's causing it, yet I just can't think what they'd have done which would make a Daily area apparently reset a character's personal alignment...

Just a short post today since I'm just so confused as to what exactly is causing this bug to occur and I'm also currently working on a long post which should be coming on Monday, hence why right now I don't have that much to say.


Galactic Command: BioWare's "Long-Game"

So let's talk in more detail about Galactic Command.

Since it was announced, virtually everyone knew that it would be controversial as all hell. It's uprooted one of the most consistent procedures of acquiring endgame gear and replaced it with a system which is based entirely on RNG and grind all wrapped up in one package.

As tedious as it is right now, it could have been a lot worse: initially the system was going to be tied to our Advanced Class with no consideration for our Disciplines, so a Commando Healer could get DPS gear whilst a Shadow DPS could get Tank gear. Thankfully they fixed that quite shortly after the system was announced.

But that's a hypothetical "in the past" situation. What about in the now?


Thoughts on 5.0

So 5.0 is here, and by the end of today everyone who missed out on Early Access will have access to the Eternal Throne story.

Compared to other expansion launches, how did this one hold up?


Wednesday Warzones #8: Skilled Impressions

It's time for another Wednesday Warzones!

... totally not nearly behind schedule as a result of 5.0.


This time around, Calph makes her video début on the blog! It's about time, but even so she doesn't appear until the third Warzone.

This video also marks the appearance of the only Warzone location not yet featured in the series: Quesh Huttball! Not that this is a particularly good thing, of course. If anything, "Queshball" is my least favourite of the maps.



Civil War and Queshball - 26th Setpember 2016:

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Jengos - Shield Specialist Vanguard
Mep'Fan - Sharpshooter/Dirty Fighting Gunslinger
Shíntar - Combat Medic Commando

VoidStar - 30th September 2016:

Calph - Dirty Fighting Gunslinger
Rarrix - Serenity Shadow
Teloo - Combat Sentinel
Shilu - Sawbones Scoundrel


5.0 Pre-Feelings: The Good, the Bad, and the Eeehhhhhs

Today's the day. 5.0, Level 70, Eternal Throne, and the controversial Command System all come out later today for Early Access players.

As I mentioned yesterday, today's plan is to look at the upcoming Expansion and list the things I am excited about, dreading, or somewhere in-between.

Let's get started!


Wading into IntPiPoMo #4: Everything Else

I realised shortly after posting my last IntPiPoMo instalment that I didn't have nearly as much time left to post images as I first believed. I was planning for today's post to be a post looking at changes coming for Eternal Throne and those which I like, dislike, and am currently ambivalent towards, but actually that probably works better as tomorrow's post as it will be posted on the same day as the expansion itself actually launches.

So, without further ado, here's the last instalment of my first International Picture Posting Month. Today's topic? Anything that could have had its own topic this time around yet didn't, mainly due to the fact that I was completely winging it and hadn't preplanned any aspect of it at all.


Wading into IntPiPoMo #3: Six Obscure Codex Entries and How to Find Them

This is something which I was actually planning to turn into a video series of sort, but I think realistically it's probably better to make it a one-time text post, mainly because my voice doesn't suit the whole "here's how to do a thing!" format.

Plus, at least with a text post it's easier to go back and pick up from where you left off without getting 'lost'.

Codex Entries are recurring themes of several of BioWare's games. They're often used as a means to provide information for people to study and provide background without needing to dive into 'serious' vocal exposition.

Then there are those which are there 'just because'. They add largely nothing to the relevant story and are just there for a bit of world-building and nothing else. SWtOR specialises in these when it comes to finding them in the open world, and most of these can just be come across as a corpse, a holocron, interesting bits of technology, or weaponry.

Very few of them are actually so obscure that you need to know how to look for them, but there are six in particular which stand out to me as the most obscure Codex Entries of all time. I decided to dedicate an IntPiPoMo post to this because, heck, there are a lot of screenshots, so why not? It can be fun to turn one idea to suit another sometimes.

Let's get started!


Wading into IntPiPoMo #2: Favourite Pets and Companions

Time for another #IntPiPoMo 2016 post. Taking the spotlight today are some of my favourite Companions and pets which can currently be accrued in the game.

You can basically tell which my favourites are if they get given a creative spot in my Tatooine Stronghold. For Companions, I typically try and include those who have a room dedicated to their Class 'origin' within that room as matter of principle (whilst also adhering to the current overall game story so that anyone who has yet to return or been kicked out by the current Main is left out), but there are those who are just sort-of 'there' with no creativity involved whatsoever.

Then there are those who, regardless of where they are in my favourites list, become the subject of my rare moments of inspiration with nice little vignettes dedicated to their person.

Pets, being different to Companions, have no proper 'origin' and are more often than not given their own dedicated areas as a compromise. There are some exceptions, as you'll see, but let's get cracking.


Arcann and Senya's Fate: Aligning Stream Info with Trailer Screenshots

It shouldn't have escaped many people's attention that there's a new teaser trailer out for Eternal Throne, showcasing various scenes from in-game.

Being the scrutiniser that I am, I took to scrutinising the scenes in closer detail and originally came to the assumption that BW had screwed up by accidentally spoiling important moments. They've still inadvertently revealed physical details in this trailer, but since then the BW Story Stream has all but revealed that perhaps they weren't accidental spoilers, but more a deliberate tease of stuff to come.

Bear in mind though that for some people this will still be spoiler territory, so if you want to avoid potentially spoiling stuff for yourself, by all means ignore this post and move on.


Wednesday Warzones #7: Take a Seat

It's time for another instalment of Wednesday Warzones!

Here's something surreal for you; this will be the last Warzones video until 5.0. I've got so much Warzone footage stored up that it will be a while until any footage from 5.0 becomes the norm for these videos, but maybe this is a good thing since it gives me time to figure out the best ways for my PvP character to cope with the new gearing system.

Heck, maybe Calph will actually be the featuring character for a while...

This video stars quite a noteworthy Guild on The Red Eclipse: Take a Seat! Or rather, their Republic equivalent. Having been on the receiving end of some of their ploys (as can be sorta seen in the Hypergates match), it was refreshing to actually be with them for a couple of matches instead of hitting our faces against the brick wall that they normally present us with.


Huttball (25th of September):

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Suss'daowoss - Telekinetics Sage
Golu - Seer Sage and Serious Huttball Player
Malach Uriel - Gunnery Commando

Odessen and Hypergates (26 of September):

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Tror - Balance Sage
Shilu - Sawbones Scoundrel
Corriari - Shield Specialist Vanguard


Wading into #IntPiPoMo #1: Old but Gold

If you're a regular around the bloggosphere, you've probably come across the International Picture Posting Month. If you haven't come across the term before, it means that each November bloggers are 'challenged' to post 50 pictures on the blog across the entire month in a response to a Writing Month where one has to write 50,000 words, because a picture is worth 1,000 words of course.

I didn't wade into this last year, mainly because I was on a stubborn "hiatus" of sorts for some reason. Because I'm taking blogging more seriously than ever currently, I have decided that it's time that, heck, maybe I should participate in some of these events more frequently.

So, to kick off my picture-posting craze (I've always wanted to feature more screenshots given that I write far too much anyway), I decided that it's best to start retroactively. All of my SWtOR screenshots prior to November 2015 have been scrutinised, with the aim of posting the best and funniest of my old screenshots in this thread.

Let's get started!


Thoughts on the Confirmed 5.0 Class Changes

You may have noticed that there was no post on Monday as there usually is. The reason for this is that, with 5.0 just on the horizon, there really isn't that much one can talk about due to the weight of the approaching stuff.

That is, without BioWare's official words on the matter.

Because they released official information on Class Changes on Monday, it's time to finally turn my attention to the changes which have been in the datamined offing for a couple of months now.

Better late than never, right?


More Repeating of the Repetitive Grind

On yesterday's Stream, BioWare delved more into one of the slightly more interesting points of Eternal Throne: Chapter Difficulties.

Basically, each Chapter now has two difficulty modes: Story and Veteran (although a third, Master, will come out at a later date of course). Veteran Mode is designed to be done with mid-tier endgame gear and an Influence 20 Companion (apparently having been tested with a DPS character and a Healer Companion), and scales to your Level, suggesting that it can also be done on the first playthrough of a Chapter to provide more of a challenge.

Each Chapter will also be repeatable, allowing you to experience the same story content over and over again if you so desire.

The ability to replay story content, as well as a more difficult version thereof, is something which several voices have called out for in the past, with one particular request for us to do our entire Class Story at relevant 'endgame' level for therapeutic and challenging reasons.

To see it happen with KotFE and KotET is interesting, but at the same time quite disheartening. A lot of people refer to playing KotFE time and time again on different alts as an absolute chore, and now we have the ability to do so on characters who have already experienced the story.

Choices we've already made stick the course, so making different choices this time around only serves to allow you to see what could have gone differently for that character (but only in the moment; you can't 'fake' a playthrough which results in a romanced Koth if in your actual playthrough he was driven away from your side).

On the plus side, for completionists (such as myself) who missed out on either map completion or Codex entries (like that one in the Asylum alleyway, grrr), this provides the perfect opportunity to go back and pick them up just because.

I do have to say, I am slightly disappointed that the HK Chapter won't be available in either Veteran or Master mode. It's probably the most 'fair' Chapter given that everyone has the same skill set and there can't be any real class bias, but at the same time playing as HK isn't exactly something which many people are willing to learn a proper rotation for, so it perhaps would be harder to align this Chapter with its fellows based on this fact alone.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Veteran (and later, Master) mode brings to the table. I have a nasty feeling that it's purely going to be increased damage with no new mechanics, but then again it could be that increased health results in more mechanics coming forward that people were just able to blitz past before now.

We'll have to wait and see.

I am curious to know how Healer players in particular will cope with this. Companions can be fairly squishy and a low-Influence DPS Companion doesn't have nearly anywhere near enough DPS output to kill things quickly, so while Veteran Mode may still be fairly simple, Master Mode (assuming that this difficulty will be at Level 70 and requiring gear, that is, which would explain why it's being delayed) could well be absolutely brutal for them.


Wednesday Warzones #6: Objective Overkill

It's time for another instalment of Wednesday Warzones!

Nothing really amusing stands out from the footage for the title for this week, so instead I decided to simply refer to the fact that all three featured games ended with either a very high score compared to a very low score, or a very quick objective advance by our team compared to our opponents.

Rather amusingly, I noticed whilst editing this that one of the Imperials we were fighting against in the VoidStar has since joined our Republic guild.

Funny how these things work out sometimes.


Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Tror - Balance Sage
Corriari - Shield Specialist Vanguard/Suss'daowoss - Telekinetics Sage
Shíntar - Combat Medic Commando/Golu - Seer Sage


Senya's New Face

Hello again! It's been a bit fun taking a week's break following my crazy week immediately after the announcement of Galactic Command. It's time to kick things off once again!

When BioWare were first announcing the new streams to show off Galactic Command, they did so using a screenshot from the new expansion. As the title suggests, this image showcased Senya, and revealed that she has had a touch of facial remodelling:

Being a fan of Senya, my immediate reaction was to - of course - analyse this new face and decide whether or not it 'worked' for her compared to her original face, which, in case you have forgotten (in which case shame on you), looks like this:

As you can see, the age-lines on her face are more pronounced, her eyebrows are more pointed, and her jaw is slightly more square. Additionally, the blue in her eyes seems to be a little more pronounced.

It seems that this new visage is entirely based off her trailer appearance, as her armour has also now gained lights on the collar, something which can also be found on her trailer armour.

So, my thoughts on the new face.

Personally, I'm not too fond of it. I appreciate their making her face more detailed (seriously, the facial detail on her and Valkorion is stunning), but I feel that this is taking away from Senya's already-established character.

Senya as we know her is someone who is pragmatic and somewhat hard to trust or like when in her 'on-duty' mindset and yet is kind and sentimental the rest of the time. Her old face suited this kinder personality wonderfully, but admittedly it was difficult to imagine her being almost harshly dutiful.

This newer face, to me, does the exact opposite; it easily suits her on-duty mindset more than it does her 'true' sentimental personality. However, this is much more problematic now that we know the extent of her sentiments. Sure, her new face makes her claims that she'd bring justice to Arcann and Vaylin seem more believable, but it will be harder to align a 'harsh' face with her desperation to save both of her children from themselves in Chapter XVI.

Maybe it's just me. I do like how it's more detailed, but it just doesn't really suit the Senya I thought I was seeing throughout Fallen Empire.


A Farewell to Commendations

As indicated yesterday, this is going to be the last post for a week. Figured that I'd quite enjoy a break after all the hubbub surrounding Galactic Command.

For today's post, we'll be returning to solid confirmed fact, although this will swiftly segue into nothing more than speculation once again.

As part of the 5.0 update, all Warzone Commendations and Data Crystals will be phased out. Due to the unique nature of these, I sincerely doubt we'll see the same happen to the Fleet Commendations.

This has raised some interesting questions:
  • Will there be any special types of currency in 5.0?
  • What are the Commendations/Crystals being converted into?
  • What happens to all the things that we can currently buy with these currencies?
Some of these answers have been revealed, but for the other questions, we can only guess, and I'd like to offer my speculations here today.

First, though, I have to say that I will miss Commendations and Crystals if they're being removed without a planned replacement, and particularly since 3.3 when Warzone Commendations became so useful. Data Crystals are, potentially, less so for active Raiders outside of purchasing the blue and purple Exotic materials and stacks of Companion Gifts, of course.

Anyway, on to speculation!


For the first question, whilst there will be a new Currency type, it will only be linked to the Dark vs. Light aspect of Galactic Command which should have no impact on 'significant' in-game items.

For the second question, it has since been confirmed that they're planning to convert every Crystal and Commendation type into Credits. The exact Exchange Rate was revealed on the 28th of October; it's going to be 1:50 for Warzone Commendations, 1:500 for Common Crystals, 1:1,000 for Glowing Crystals, and 1:1,500 for Radiant Crystals.

There will be a limit of 2,000,000 Credits on each character for the conversion, with the respective caps for Crystals and Commendations being 500,000 for 1,000 Common Crystals, 500,000 for 500 Glowing Crystals, 750,000 for 500 Radiant Crystals, and 2,000,000 for 40,000 Warzone Commendations. Basically, it is impossible to hit this limit with Crystals alone, and you'd need 5,000 Warzone Commendations to make up that 250,000 credit deficit.

For the third question, it has also since been confirmed that the answer will simply be "Credits" for the majority of items. I can't see too many PvPers being overly enthusiastic about MedPacs and Adrenals costing Credits, however.

Certainly, for levelling mods, Legacy shells from the Adaptive vendor, and Companion gifts, nothing significant can come from making these cost Credits. I imagine we'll see mods costing between 100 - 500 Credits, the Legacy shells between 5,000 and 10,000 Credits depending on the piece of armour, and Companion gifts costing 5,000, 10,000, and between 30,000 to 50,000 Credits for Blue Rank 5s, Pink Rank 5s, and Purple Rank 6s, respectively.

It's impossible to make everything a solid 1:1,000 conversion for Data Crystals. If you made the gifts cost that amount at a 1:1,000 then the mods would cost 2,000 apiece (initial modding at Level 10 would cost 38,000 Credits if this happened!) so flexibility is absolutely key if they are to convert these items to requiring Credits. 

As for off-set gear, I do not imagine for the slightest that we'll be able to actually buy that gear from vendors ever again, to give greater emphasis towards the crafters as the solitary source of off-set gear. The Fleet may suddenly find itself emptied of a good portion of its vendors in the Combat Training and Supplies areas. 

The only remaining things to touch on are the Exotic materials. Right now you can buy the Blues for 25 Glowing Data Crystals and the Purples for 300 Radiant Data Crystals, but making these purchasable with Credits is going to result in some considerable aftershocks in the economy. Prices would decrease rapidly and nobody would ever worry about the grind if they themselves could simply purchase items needed to craft gear for themselves for even 1,000,000 Credits flat.


We've never known an expansion to hit without Commendations; for several people, they're the only way they've found to get gear if they can't do Operations. WarZone Commendations being removed in their entirety is going to leave a serious mark after they've become just so beneficial since 3.3. 

All the same, I am interested in seeing what happens in the future with what they do for the former Commendation system. Maybe it won't hurt nearly as much as some people think, but maybe it will hurt just as badly as a lot of people fear?


Wednesday Warzones #5: es77a7ewe7477e565465666

It's time for yet another instalment of Wednesday Warzones!

Finally we round off the footage from the 14th of September (there were just too many good matches!) with some bizarre chat gibberish and drunken rantings. Needless to say, this video takes its name from one such gibberish outburst.


Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Kenkuria - Defense Guardian
Suss'daowoss - Telekinetics Sage
Golu - Seer Sage


Analysing Galactic Command

Tuesday post! This is a rarity but ultimately 'necessary' since this is quite a significant thing to talk about.

In a LiveStream yesterday, BioWare unveiled their new Galactic Command system.

Basically, you get Command Points by completing one of the various tasks:
  • Dailies and Heroics
  • Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne Chapters
  • Flashpoints
  • Galactic StarFighter
  • Operations
  • Uprisings
  • WarZones
The tasks in question can all be accessed via a new Galactic Command panel, which seems to act as a second Group Finder. I assume that simply going into things such as Flashpoints, Operations, and PvP counts just the same no matter how you enter them, so ultimately this is just a flashy bit of cosmetic fluff. Additionally, there is just no way they can get rid of the current Group Finder system. It may not be that good, but it at least serves a way to pick-and-choose if your Group wants to do a certain Flashpoint.

These Command Points then allow you to progress through the various ranks until you hit a (currently) unspecified Rank. Along the way, you earn not only Light/Dark points for yourself, but also for the server. For an unspecified time, these points will pool into a 'Dark vs. Light' bar which indicates which side is winning, which - according to the follow-up Blog Post - will allow for various events to occur based on which side is higher at the time:

"If the dark side is growing stronger... suddenly players may see Sith Acolytes begin spawning and attacking Alderaan and Tatooine!"

Depending on which side then wins, the winners will temporarily gain access to bonus "Command Experience" (read: total of Command Points gained) and a cosmetic item vendor. Because shinies! Losers only gain a bonus to the Light/Dark points they gain.

I do have to say at this juncture (because I won't be touching on this aspect again given what else is happening with Command) that actually making Light/Dark points mean something for those already at Light V or Dark V very nice. Much like Social Points and Valor, hitting the cap for these on a character immediately makes acquiring them through our activities pointless (hehe), but now there actually will be something to put these spare points towards.

There's also an additional reward: Command Crates.

These are interesting, and potentially really quite concerning to certain players.

For the most part, Command Crates seem to be the Alliance Supply Crates reformatted; they drop Companion Gifts, cosmetic armour and items, mounts, and pets. However, there's one further addition to these particular crates. They're designed to drop endgame gear as well:
  • Once you hit Level 70, the source of end-game gear will be Command Crates from Galactic Command.
  • Both PvP and PvE gear will come from Command Crates. Their gear is now shared as Expertise is being removed.
  • Gear will no longer drop from bosses as all gear will come from Command Crates. All cosmetic/unique drops will still remain on those bosses (Stronghold Decorations, Wings of the Architect, etc.).
This is interesting.

I personally think that more ways to get endgame gear is a good thing if done properly; I sorely miss the days when Story Mode Ops set-bonus gear dropped from Hard Mode Flashpoints, so I'd love to have seen something like this done again.

However, removing all gear from Operations is a very interesting and concerning side-effect. I personally would have preferred to have the option to gear oneself whilst still being able to get gear from Operations. This has the potential to be quite slow depending on how long it takes for the best gear to start dropping from the Rank rewards (if NiM-grade gear doesn't start dropping until Rank 30 it will take a couple of weeks at least for the first people to start getting it).

According to posts in the main Gearing Topic, the drops will be random, but they will still be tied to your Advanced Class. People familiar with how the BattleMaster gearing system worked will likely just have shuddered in fearful recollection. Additionally, hitting the Rank cap will not stop rewards from being granted; you'll simply continue to get XP as you would usually up until you hit the point where you'd usually level up, and you'd then get the reward and the process repeats ad infinitum.

Seeing as the grade of gear which drops depends on your Command Rank, any future expansions and gear-tiers will be significantly biased towards players who actually hit the cap this time around (however long this takes). This is very much a 'carrot- and-stick' approach to gearing, it seems...


I do have to say that in many ways I silently approve of a certain amount of this. I like having the option to gear for ourselves (even if it's going to take a fairly long time compared to what it used to be), although I am still highly concerned by the fact that Operation gear is just gone (more thoughts below). Actually making a lot of old content (and people have been scoffing at my doing Daily runs again! Hah!)  appealing to grind for the best gear is a strategy I approve of, as it isn't just easy street for gearing and the HM Flashpoints are actually relevant gearing places once again. 

No longer will people be able to farm Highlighted Hard Mode Eternity Vault and instantaneously get a NiM-Grade Mainhand. One thing I've been campaigning for in-game to any guildies who'd listen is the removal of KP and EV from the Priority Ops system and make HM-grade gear the highest drop from these (granted, I also campaigned that this removal should also apply to ToS, Ravagers, and any new Ops but shift the drops for these so that NiM-grade gear dropped from Hard Mode to actually give an incentive to run these as HM with no NiM mode), but their outright removal of Priority Ops for this system actually does leave a (albeit very minor) sour taste in the mouth.

At the same time, however, the notion of gearing now only being RNG-dependent is rather concerning. As I've already expressed several times, I indulge in not only Dailies and Operations but duoing HM Flashpoints (and hopefully Uprisings too) with a friend. Therefore, we are both in a very good position to start this whole grind off and keep a certain momentum going, but this definitely won't apply to everyone.

For people who either don't have a lot of time in the week to dedicate to SWtOR due to work or - heck - even dedicating what time they do have outside of set Raid times grinding in other games (I'm noticing certain parallels between this system and aspects of the Campaign system for NeverWinter, for example) this system is going to be very slow and incredibly painful even if NiM Operations provide the quickest way to get Command Points. Keeping gear in Operations would at least provide a quicker alternative for people who simply can't dedicate the required time to grinding.

It would also negate this very RNG approach. I can already hear people complaining about their sixth 248 (or whatever grade NiM-grade is) chestpiece in a row when all they need is the offhand to complete the set. 

As one of my guildies has pointed out on our guild's forums, this system makes people who only dedicate their time to Raiding (which sadly applies to a good number of people in several Raid teams across the entire game for multiple differing reasons beyond work) almost a liability since there simply is no alternative way to acquire gear. Nobody who raids would want that hanging over them. At least with the current system you can gear a new or returning team-mate relatively quickly using the Priority Ops.

It also can't be denied that making Command Subscriber-only is also a severe punishment to Free-to-Play players, who can get around their current restrictions through certain Cartel Market unlocks. If they can still access Operations through Operation passes but not the Command system, what's the point of even allowing them to still do endgame stuff?

At the end of the day, this is definitely going to be something to get used to.

In summary, I like this system in theory, but I'd like it more if it was one option for gearing rather than the option.

Links for more information here:


The Importance of Uprisings

Uprisings are, as we are all aware, the Flashpoints of 5.0. We don't know for sure how many we're going to get or exactly what we have to do for each of them, but we can certainly hope that they're far better than Star Fortresses used to be.

As the first proper four-man content since 3.0 with Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi, the Uprisings have a lot to live up to.

I imagine that we'll see each one following the pattern establised as the Flashpoint pattern in Flashpoints such as Hammer Station, Czerka, and Depths of Manaan in being roughly 30 minutes in length with three bosses (although I sadly doubt that they'll all have bonus bosses). Fairly small, yet still making their mark.

I'm curious to see what the bosses themselves will be like. Given that there are rumoured to be at least five (with a further two or three names floating in the ether) there should be at least fifteen bosses across all of the Uprisings. I have my doubts that we'll see many new mechanics, but it will certainly be interesting to see which mechanics they have.

Heck, they could re-utilise every single Flashpoint mechanic we've seen thus far and with the correct spins I'm fairly sure most people would find the fights enjoyable.

It's worth looking at the prospect of what Uprisings will bring to the game because they are the first true group-content to come to the game since Battle of Rishi and Blood Hunt gained Hard Modes in 3.1. Colossal Monolith and the Star Fortresses technically count as well, but one of these is a simple instanced boss (which is like calling Xeno, Eyeless, or Golden Fury worthy group content) whilst the Star Fortress were primarily designed to be soloed and were never added to Group Finder.

Thus, the Uprisings could serve to gauge two very crucial factors.

First, they would allow people to see how healthy the group-content stage at endgame is for more varied things. Yes, they're basically just Flashpoints so even looking at the standard Group Finder queue could serve this purpose, but it would show how the community responds to new content. If the Group Finders never get off the ground for Uprisings, that's definitely not a good sign, for example.

Second, they are a very slight glimpse into what the future of group content in SWtOR may be like. I know, you can't truly judge Operations off Flashpoints, but what I mean to say is that if the Uprisings are full of nice mechanic-laden fights rather than just big numbers and RNG (Ma/stuck and Bastard, I'm looking at you both here) then there is a very good chance that future Operations fights may be, too. Granted, any new Operations fights would hopefully feature new mechanics, but baby-steps are very necessary when testing the waters, particularly where BioWare are concerned.

Analogies are both vague and helpful. It's like trying to waffle on more whilst having nothing else to say.

In conclusion, then, Uprisings are worth keeping an eye on.

I sincerely hope that they're going to be fun and memorable enough that they're actually worth doing time and again. The Star Fortresses are just so forgettable outside of the Exarch fight in Heroic (or should this now be termed 'Veteran'?) Mode, whilst virtually every single standard Flashpoint has something that keeps people remembering them fondly.



Influence is an interesting subject to tackle. Depending on your point of view, it's either an interesting experiment, useful for Crew Skills, or a complete waste of time.

The same rules also apply twofold to story Companions. Senya, Koth, HK-55, Kaliyo, and Aric can all depart as part of the Fallen Empire storyline - notably, three of them are Romance Companions which sadly most likely leaves Vette and Torian as the 'de facto' sacrificial romance options for Eternal Throne since neither Lana nor Theron are ever going to die (sadly) and they can't feasibly make either Aric or Kaliyo part of yet another choice - so grinding Influence with any Story Companion is regarded as very very risky.

Amusingly, some people have taken this to an entirely new level and quit Chapter I: The Hunt early solely so that they could keep Darth Marr and grind his Influence up.

Because I'm beginning to run out of things to talk about in the run-up to the next Expansion (I always have this trouble), I figured I'd finally turn to those Companions whose Influence I myself have ground up to 50, even if it does make me look like a pathetic individual.

Hey, people need something to laugh at, right?


Throne of Everlasting Chivalry

On Friday, we finally received more official information about Eternal Throne. It's time to start delving through what we got!


KotFE Retrospective: My 5 Favourite KotFE Chapters

Continuing on from last week's post, it's time to round off the KotFE Retrospective series by looking over those Chapters which were my absolute favourite.


Wednesday Warzones #4: Deep Questions

It's time for another instalment of Wednesday WarZones!

This week's video picks up where the last one left off. There are still three more matches worth showing off from this night's footage, so these ones will be shown off in the next video. 

Coincidentally, just like the last video, this one also earns its name from a specific moment in an Odessen match. Clearly Odessen just has that sort of an effect.


Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Kenkurian'ah - Watchman/Combat Sentinel
Corriari - Shield Specialist Vanguard
Shíntar - Combat Medic Commando


The Grind: Dailies vs. Heroics

Yet another thing I've yet to touch upon in any real way is how the [HEROIC] Missions have changed with 4.0. As everyone knows, every Heroic Mission outside of a few select cases (namely those for Gree, Rakghoul, Section X, and the Macrobinocular and Seeker Droid quests) are now [HEROIC 2+] missions and thus can easily be soloed.

Heck, of the specific instances where there still are [HEROIC 4] Missions, only one is impossible to solo, this of course being the final Shroud Mission.

They're also very accessible, with new terminals on each Fleet as well as on Odessen providing easy access to every single 'standard' [HEROIC 2+] Mission; the only ones not present here are any Area Heroics and the CZ-5X Droid on CZ-198.

Because of this, Heroics swiftly became the thing to do; the access was easy, the payout was good, and there was the additional reward of the Alliance Supply Crates.

Of course, this also means that for many people they have replaced the previous credit-grind system of the Dailies. Comparisons between the two have been done several times before, of course, but I'd like to just wade in and add my own views to the pile-up.

This will also be solely from an endgame perspective. Heroics are of course an invaluable source of XP Gain for levelling nowadays - so much so that they are the most widely-advised supplements to planetary and class quests - and Dailies don't emerge until Level 50 with The Black Hole and Section X.


KotFE Retrospective: My Picks for the 5 Most Tedious KotFE Chapters

When initiating this series, I had a couple of set objectives in mind.

The first is that it should be over by the time BioWare were ready to officially announce Eternal Throne. Get the 'current' stuff out of the way before looking forward to the new stuff.

The second is that no matter how many posts the series had - I never could get around to doing things the story 'did right' as a companion post to Story Issues for some reason - the Chapters would round off the series.

So it is that the Chapters come under scrutiny. As per usual, this series will take the form of two lists; one for my 5 favourites, and one for the 5 which I found most tedious. Usually, I'd start with the most positive and end on the negative, but since this series is making way for my views on the new, I figured it would 'help' if I ended KotFE Retrospective on a high note as opposed to a low note.

Or something like that.

Shall we get started?


The Companion Comparison: The 'Bog Standard' vs. The Cartel Beasts

Of all the Companions we can get in 4.0, very few are as infamous as the Cartel Companions. These are unique creatures and droids which are for most intents and purposes standard Companions; they can Tank, they can DPS, and they can Heal. They can't be sent out on Crew Skills, but otherwise there's nothing that should be standing out.

I was helping a guildie with their Legacy of the Rakata HM requirement for Dark vs. Light the other day when we turned to discussing Companion Tanks. A third guildie who suggested this Flashpoint as the first was using their Vette to Tank (a crime almost as heinous as making T7 and Scourge Heal) rather than my dedicated Tank Bowdaar.

For those who don't know, when Vette tanks she doesn't 'animate' properly; when leaping she stays frozen in place for a few seconds and then magically teleports. Unfortunately, this also results in grouping-up being much harder since mobs will rush to her previous 'reported' position first and then follow her back.

One such pull led to us commenting on how Bowdaar would have made the pull more convenient, and the first guildie opined that the K'lor'slug would also be a viable option.

According to them, at Influence 50, their K'lor'slug Companion would outperform their own Influence 50 Bowdaar as a Tank. This piqued my interest because unlike the vast majority of Companions, some of the Cartel Companions have no weapon slot whatsoever. While equipment is largely no factor for Companions, a different grade of barrel or hilt will still increase damage readouts in the tooltips (and thus actual damage output as well).

Being the proud owner of an Influence 50 Nexu - I'm quite fond of felines in general - I decided to investigate this further.

Long story short, he's (mostly) absolutely correct.


KotFE Retrospective: Least 5 Favourite Alliance Alerts

Following on from last week's post tackling my favourite 5 Alliance Alerts, this post will be looking at those which are my least favourite.


Wednesday Warzones #3: Beautiful Noises

It's time for another Wednesday Warzones!

Unlike the last two videos, this one actually uses footage from different nights! The first two were from four matches which were recorded on the 11th of September, whilst the third is one from a whopping nine matches which were all recorded on the 14th.

Needless to say, I have enough footage to make up at least two Warzones videos from these sessions alone, and trust me when I say that the chosen Odessen is one of the least bizarre matches from that particular session.

There's also a fair bit of swearing in this video. I normally don't mind the occasional bit of swearing, and I only edit it out if it's just a bit too much, like for example in the first video.

More to come in two weeks' time!


Session 1:

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Tror ("Teloo") - Seer Sage
Mep'fan ("Suss") - Dirty Fighting Gunslinger

Session 2:

Kenkurian'ah - Combat Sentinel
Corriari ("Suss" again) - Shield Specialist Vanguard
Shíntar - Combat Medic Commando



Certain Missions have had a lot of tweaking since 4.0. This has had a set number of side-effects, but none more notable than the side-effect of every single Exploration Mission having been reset, even if you'd already completed them.

Of course, you wouldn't know this if, like me, your characters as of Fallen Empire had already progressed up to that point and had no reason to turn Exploration missions on in the first place. Characters who still needed to Level, of course, had far greater precedent to encounter this.

I myself had only just allowed Calph to access her Exploration Missions for the first time a couple of weeks ago - the exact reason for doing so eludes me - and had found myself baffled by the amount of missions which she apparently hadn't yet done. Sheriff Encot's hostage rescue is a mission I've always done, and yet she hadn't done it?

Eventually I realised why this was so, but it's still something which caught me off-guard.

Funnily enough, I had actually been looking for an excuse to go back to certain planets and finish off the missions which I had never done - either on Calph or on any of my characters - so this seems like a good time to start doing so.

By the time this game is done, I would love to turn around and say that I have completed every single mission which the game had to offer. I really do like a lot of the Exploration Missions, so I wouldn't mind completing them again, and I know that Voss and Corellia have literally dozens between them which I have never ever done simply because most of my characters hit 50 on or before Voss itself.

This re-questing has also had the nice side-effect of allowing me to catch changes which I wouldn't have thought to be a logical change. Most notably, the overarching mission for the Tatooine Bonus Series actually has similar rewards to a Heroic Mission nowadays.

So, yeah, just a short post today. Inspiration has been somewhat lacking due to hectic goings-on in real life, but hopefully things should settle down to normal shortly.


KotFE Retrospective: Top 5 Favourite Alliance Alerts

The Alliance Alerts formed a considerable bulk of the available missions during the lifespan of 4.0. We have seen no fewer than 21 Companions either join or re-join our roster as a part of this system, with a whopping total of 13 returning Companions and eight new Companions (including the Star Fortress ones).

Because I seem to have locked myself into a rut with this system when it comes to analysis - there's yet another pair of these posts coming up when it's time to look at the Chapters - I'll be dedicating two posts to these Alerts; the first will look at my personal favourites, and the second of course will look at my least favourites.

So, on with the list!


On Data-Mining


This post will not be directly describing data-mined changes coming to Eternal Throne. This is purely a rambling post describing my thoughts on the process when compared against BioWare's policy of silence. If you had looked at this post with interest to get some gleaned information, I'm sorry, but you'll be going away disappointed.


There comes a time before each and every patch when the data-miners come forth and reveal what's incoming. Many a Class Change, Cartel Market item, and Story spoiler has been revealed as part of this process, and so data-mining is treated with both reverence and disapproval by several sectors of the wider SWtOR community.

Expansions are no different in this regard; the data-miners are already out in force digging up all that they can find for Eternal Throne, although officially they won't post the majority of their findings until BioWare has had time to officially release details of the expansion, which is the fairest thing they could do.

This also raises an interesting situation for data-mining.

Since 3.0, BioWare have unfortunately managed to back themselves into a corner whereby they're "damned if they do, damned if they don't". From what I understand, their accidentally missing a 'scheduled' releasing of information regarding Shadow of Revan (and only by just a couple of days) has led to them enforcing a strict 'silence' policy with changes to both Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne until they're truly ready to reveal more.

The good thing about this silence policy is that once it was 'over' for Fallen Empire, they took to social media by force, streaming and blogging about the upcoming changes, but it still left a lot to be desired from what they had done for 3.0 with the comprehensive blog changes informing us of the approaching change from Skill Trees to Disciplines and then the steady updates to specific Classes over the subsequent months.

Their handling of 2.0 was even better than this, as they actually allowed players to access a modified 2.0 PTS which allowed them to boost transferred characters to 55, try out the new skills, and access the new HM Flashpoints and Operation.

Whilst it did take them a moderately long time to come out with more detailed information on changes for Fallen Empire, at least they'd made the announcement five months before it was supposed to go live!

For Eternal Throne, it definitely does not help that their silence policy is being enforced at a time when there isn't a lot else to actually do now. Neither the Dark vs. Light Event nor the HK Chapter will be universally completed, so for certain players there's absolutely nothing until Eternal Throne and they're not receiving any word to make them feel invested in the game's future. We don't even know an official release date yet!

Indirectly starving us for information therefore has also made the data-miners' situation far more precarious as well; anything they say is treated as 'word of God' and people base all of their expectations on changes which are still in motion. Given the negative response to certain currently proposed changes, it's hardly any wonder that BioWare no longer wants to blow their own trumpet at such an early stage anymore.

I personally don't mind data-mining. It gives a rarely-seen insight into the development process for this game, and even if the proposed changes don't make it into the game as they're initially suggested to, it's still quite interesting - and, dare I say it, fun - to hypothesise how this might change or that might change. Napkin theorycrafting can only go so far, of course.

I just wish that they'd enable everyone to access a simplified variant of the PTS again, even if just to test out the Class Changes. Feedback from the wider playerbase is never really a bad thing - heck, it's lead some people to believe that BioWare use the Data-Miners as an indirect method of revealing changes and getting feedback from these - but right now there are just so many unknowns and confusions that any information, even if it's revealed to be totally inaccurate, is treated like an oasis in the Sahara.


KotFE Retrospective: The HK Rewards Scheme

Hey, if BioWare consider this a "selling point" for subscribing to Knights of the Fallen Empire then I can technically include it in this series!

Unless you've been living under a rock the size of Lotek'k you've probably heard of the HK-themed Subscriber Rewards which have been plaguing gifted to Subscribers since February 2016 and culminating in the Bonus Chapter Shroud of Memory which was released on Wednesday.

Of course, I'll be looking at each month's Reward and offering my views on whether or not it was a 'worthy' gift. Back in December, when I wrote a post detailing my criticisms of the handling of certain aspects of the game at that point, I opined that there couldn't be that many gifts which they could realistically 'do' for a Droid. Nico has his coats and his blasters, and HK has his blunderbuss, I guess?

Anyway, on with the list!


Wednesday Warzones #2: Arena Annihilators

It's time for another instalment of Wednesday Warzones!

Due to not having much opportunity to group up with other players throughout the last fortnight (noisy kitchen renovations all but nullify TeamSpeak for me, and when it was done for the day it was nearly time for other people to go do Ops or whatnot), again I've had to make do and mend and only use one day's worth of PvP footage for this video.

On the plus side, this means that this video is much shorter than last time. In grouping up for the Lowbie PvP Bracket with fellow bloggers Shintar and Traitine - who also streams several games including the occasional bit of SWtOR PvP - on Sunday, we encountered several Arenas and only three actual Warzones. It was a very hectic afternoon!

I completely forgot to record the first Arena (my bad!), but recorded the other six matches. In spite of this, I have not included footage of the Huttball and Novare Coast matches. Whilst I'm not averse to include defeats in these videos, my perspective makes for an absolutely rubbish viewing experience in both cases. 

Even with cropping footage down to the actiony bits, it's still too much to cut out to justify including either match.

Also if you're wondering why there's suddenly a "blip" sound effect when I talk when there wasn't last time, it's because of the VOIP program which we used on the day, which was GameVox. I haven't checked to see if it's possible to mute that, as it is quite aggravating even on my end!

Anyway, enjoy!

  • Coli'hara - Gunnery Commando
  • Zataa - Sawbones Scoundrel
  • Traitine - Tactics Vanguard


They Seek them Here, they Seek them There

Because last week I finally got around to delivering my thoughts on the Macrobinocular questline, I figured that it would make sense to follow it up with a post on the Seeker Droid questline as well.

Unlike the Shroud quest, this questline is neatly self-contained. There aren't any little twists to keep the story going, and everything is wrapped up nice and tidily.

As I've already described at length the intricacies of how this quest and the Macrobinocular quest were tied together, I won't be doing this again here. Everything will be about the Seeker Droids.


Remembering the Shroud: Preparation for Shroud of Memory

If there's one thing which I'm surprised that I haven't written much about, it's the two secondary questlines which launched with 2.0; the Macrobinocular and the Seeker Droid missions.

This is mainly due to one thing; there sadly hasn't been much reason to talk about either as nothing has emerged to encourage people to complete these quests especially since a lot of people just do the final Heroic-4 missions once and want nothing to do with them ever again.

Potentially, this might no longer be the case.

The HK-55 Bonus Chapter, Shroud of Memory, is confirmed to feature the antagonist of the Macrobinocular questline, the Shroud. He's had numerous mentions throughout 4.0 - a probe sits outside the Star Fortresses which can be scanned for an Achievement and Theron Shan mentions that he came across him as part of his idle chatter - so it will be nice to see him again.

Admittedly, it does hurt that our characters themselves won't be able to do so...

I figured that with the oncoming approach of the Shroud it would be good to finally send Calph to do as much of the questline as she could with the aim of completing it this weekend - just in case completing it yielded extra information for 'us' to pick up from the Bonus Chapter - and finally note my opinions on this infamous questline.

Although admittedly my timing on this post couldn't be worse, as I only just learned while making final preparations for this post's scheduled posting that this subject was touched on for exactly the same reasons over on MassivelyOP just two days ago, so now it looks like I'm pilfering ideas yet again. Yay for annoying coincidences!


The End of the Alliance Alert?

The Alliance Alert has so far been the most useful means of recruiting former Companions to our side and get them to serve the Alliance.

I have a post planned for the KotFE Retrospective series which will look back over the various Alerts and state which ones were my favourite or least favourite, but this will need to wait of course until the final one for the season. Whichever one this may be, because with Zenith's mission having been lost in the pipeline momentarily this may or may not reappear before Eternal Throne.

Something which I brought up in my most recent post made me think seriously about the future of this system. With the sole exceptions of Khem Val, Lord Scourge, and Tharan Cedrax, all of the returning Companions are Romance options, which means that there is a greater precedent - if not an outright guarantee - for their appearance in the overall 'main' story.

Certainly, given that the Alerts are disliked by several people due to us becoming the Revan-esque silent protagonist after hearing their voices for so long, the reaction to encountering a potential sweetheart and hearing nothing coming from our characters' mouths will not be pleasant, so it's 'safer' for the powers-that-be to eliminate this as a possibility.

Which then leaves us with the quandary; with only three non-Romanceable Companions left, is there much future for the Alliance Alert?


KotFE Retrospective: More to be Desired for Romance

Romance with a close friend and ally has always been a selling point of the most well-known of BioWare’s RPGs. Whether you were traversing the stars with Bastila Shan or Garrus Vakarian or riding through the rugged hills with Blackwall, there have been several prospective partners for our characters to end up with at the end of the games’ stories.

The Old Republic is of course no stranger to this, boasting no fewer than twenty-two full-blown Companion romances, four semi-serious one-time flings (with two Companions and the two ‘poster’ NPCs for Rise of the Hutt Cartel), and two gender-dependent diplomatic marriage opportunities for the Agent on Voss.

As diverse as the options are, they have noticeably begun drying up since the game has begun expanding beyond its initial form, with Knights of the Fallen Empire attempting to reinvigorate matters, even if the success here is limited.


Wednesday Warzones #1: The Drunk Guardian

As mentioned two weeks ago, I've had a little something in the works: Wednesday Warzones! This initiative will be a regular occurrence every two weeks, and I hope it's well-received.

This first one is a rather interesting one to start off this series. All three matches took place on the same evening, and this won't be something that will happen often.

The reason for this is because I went on holiday on Friday, so that meant that the only days I had to ensure that I would have at least one video prepared for today were Thursday and Wednesday given that for the previous couple of days I was focusing mainly on the DvL Event.

As you can already tell from the title, one of the players was really quite drunk throughout, to the extent that he participated in the first match without a weapon. Thankfully, there is never any mocking of this fact as it is quite frankly a frequent occurrence.

It also resulted in quite a bit of swearing, which I have endeavoured to eliminate. I might have missed one of them, but it's not the most audible as it's swallowed by another person talking.

So, yeah. I hope that you guys enjoyed this first instalment of Wednesday Warzones, and I look forward to creating the next few!


  • Vhiallia ("Cal") - Balance Sage
  • Suss'dao'wuss - Seer Sage
  • Numendar ("Mark") - Telekinetics Sage
  • Kenkuria - Defense Guardian


Taking to the Stars

One thing which hasn't been featured much in this blog is PvP. Wednesday Warzones will rectify this to a great extent for the ordinary PvP, of course, but this still leaves Galactic Starfighter hanging out to dry.

Maybe I should do Saturday Starfighter...



Dark vs. Light: Looking Back

It's been two months since the Dark vs. Light Event was officially announced and the groans about the sheer amount of grind began. Hard to believe, really.

Yesterday, I managed to complete the last requirement needed for total event completion, which was levelling my eighth Event Character, a Jedi Knight. I figured that it would be fitting to complete this entire thing on the class which I have created the least characters on.

Now that I have completed this Event, I figured it would be nice to look back over it as a whole and just give my views on the goings-on which either myself, guildies, or just random strangers have been getting up to as part of this Event.


KotFE Retrospective: Story Issues

Knights of the Fallen Empire is over. Done. Kaput. Now that all sixteen chapters have been released, it's time to start looking over this season and see what worked and what didn't work.

This post will look at my personal issues with aspects of the story. This will not include the mantra of "Choices Matter!" given that everyone knows by now just how much of an illusion this really was now; the only 'choices' hinged upon whether or not there was a get-out clause for both eventualities.

Notably, if you had banished Koth, Kaliyo, or Aric, the subsequent chapters only featured them in the barest of supporting roles for those who had kept them around and so their presence could easily be missed without consequence.

This will also not mention the lack of 'proper' new PvE group content, even though this definitely has harmed several guilds throughout 4.0. This is purely going to focus on story moments.

Let's get started!


Thoughts on 4.7 [Spoiler-Free]

Another another, update month.

Hard to believe that we've reached the end of this monthly recap series. It's been rather interesting delving into the overall patches with the story forming the bulk, but now that this is over for now, there's not much reason to focus on either 4.8 or 4.9 - if there's one beyond 4.8, that is - in much the same light.

Sure, there's the HK Chapter, but this will be a part of its own HK-reward themed post so not much reason to include it in a generic recap.

Anyway, on to 4.7!


Milestone: 2 Year Anniversary!

Two years ago today, I kickstarted the blog Spawn of the Dread Master. It was an initiative which I didn't know whether or not would succeed, given that most of my previous projects only lasted a year before falling to pieces, but I figured that it was worth a go.

To say that I'm still blogging two years later is a great achievement in my book. I don't always find it easy to find something to say or write about, as you can tell from the numerous breaks I took prior to the rebranding. Suffice to say, I currently believe that the blog is in its strongest form yet.

Unlike last year, I actually have some things planned to celebrate this particular anniversary, so let's get started!


Burden of Accompaniment: The Companions I'm not Eager to Reunite With

The first season of the Knights of the Fallen Empire story ends tomorrow for Early Access players, but we all of course know that this is not going to be the end of the overall story. There's more to be told, and there are still many more Companions to be reunited with in the process.

I've been fairly fortunate this time around, as of the twenty-one Companions who have returned, are confirmed to return, and are rumoured for return (Rusk, Skadge, and Zenith) from this season, only five of which are those which I have irrevocably disliked. Of the ones we've gotten back, these are Broonmark, Kaliyo, and SCORPIO, and of the rumoured ones these are Skadge and Zenith.

Otherwise, I have positive things to say about virtually every other remaining Companion we've seen so far, and if I don't actually like them, I can at least tolerate them. Notably, whilst I wouldn't say I liked Torian or Yuun, I can still name several more Companions whom I dislike more than them.

So of course, it's time to talk about those Companions who I'm not looking forward to reuniting with in the next season(s).


"Crate Opening is Serious Business" - BioWare

The Cartel Market has nearly always been a difficult beast to tackle in a blog post. The majority of items have been fairly harmless cosmetics - barring the temporary inclusion of the Heroic Grade 7 Ship Components - and none have ever been more publicised than the infamous Cartel Packs.

Whilst these have functioned largely the same over the last four years, BioWare recently announced that they will be augmenting this system on Tuesday in Patch 4.7.

Basically, Cartel Packs and items will now have their own separate inventory system, from which packs can be opened and items reclaimed.

Instead of simply having the Cartel Pack land at your character's feet whilst they wave their arms in rigid gun-held-to-the-head jubilation, now a big black screen will superimpose itself over your game whilst a fancy little animation plays over opening the crates and four holocronesque cubes which then yield a picture of the armour set (even if it's just the supplementary box you receive) or vehicle or a simple diagram representing Decorations, Jawa scrap, or Companion Gifts.

We don't yet know what form Chance Cubes will take in this system, as the animation in the blog was almost certainly rigged to make it so that they didn't appear.

This having been done, the items will then go into an "Item Stash", from which any Character from your Legacy can retrieve the items. Got a Defiant Vented Lightsaber on your Gunslinger and don't want to wait for two days or spend 400 Cartel Coins so that your cherished Sage/Guardian/Commando's Lana Beniko can use it? Now you can just have them retrieve the Lightsaber from the stash, and nobody will be ever the wiser!

For people participating in the Dark vs. Light Event, this will also affect the special Bound packs that are given, meaning that rare items such as Satele Shan's Supplementary Armour Box (and its sole occupant, the belt) won't get locked on one character whilst another has the Upper and Lower Boxes anymore.

Indeed, this is clearly the catalyst for this system as it completely solves the issues that people were having if they completed it on different characters. Granted, this is something which could have been a non-issue if a lot of pre-planning had gone into things, but it's nice to see them tackling the issue nonetheless.

Unfortunately, this still leaves people who were treated 'unfairly' by this system high-and-dry with no way of 'fixing' the pieces of loot which they had received.


I rarely ever comment on Cartel stuff because it hasn't ever really been that interesting (for lack of a better word) to talk about, barring specific decorations which I have loved, but the changes to this system do have a smatter of potential. I love the idea of the Item Stash, particularly as it negates useless clutter and solves a fairly big problem with the Bound DvL Packs, something which I currently view as the biggest thing this new system has going for it even if this isn't a permanent affair.

On the other hand, it is surreal to see the Cartel Market receive such a massive overhaul at a time when people are complaining more and more about lack of content and other such concerns. To see the cash shop receive a fairly sizeable and actually potentially well-received quality-of-life change ahead of the aforementioned gripes and bug-fixes isn't exactly something that people want to see.

Of course, it doesn't help that this was announced on the same day that Conquest and the Priority Operation broke at the same time. This Conquest Week - which I believe was meant to be Emergency Operations - apparently also broke back in February, meaning that it hasn't worked once since 4.0. Not good timing for revealing this system, considering!

To summarise: It's a nice change, but perhaps wholly unnecessary outside of solving the issues with rare items from the DvL packs which could have been mostly negated by pre-planning anyway. I can't deny that resources could have been spent better elsewhere, but at this point it's clear that we can't predict what BioWare will come up with next at all.


The Valor Curse

I haven't touched on PvP much. Now that I'm actually becoming semi-decent at it, maybe things will change soon...

Valor is of course the special progression 'currency' you receive from completing Warzones, with a maximum of 100 tiers.

If you don't do PvP nearly enough to understand how it 'works', you start off by absolutely powering through the levels, to the extent that a few warzones would complete you one tier, up until you hit the tier which matched your current level in which case your Valor could not advance.

Once you get to 50, not only are you able to escape from being duly Valor-locked, but this is where the grind really begins to pick up. Indeed, it's often claimed - whether jokingly or otherwise, I do not know for sure - that it's quicker for a DPS player to complete I Am Death Incarnate (the 50,000 kills Achievement) than it is to get up to Valor 100.

Indeed, the Valor grind is now the only aspect of grinding which has remained at the same 'standard' throughout the entire game, given that PvP content could never be outlevelled and ground quickly as Social Points could have been in 'easier' Operations and Flashpoints.

You all know this already, so I'll get to the blasted point. Calm down, sir, I know you didn't come to feel patronised by this loser.

Valor and me have had a bit of a tumultuous relationship, in that I have since come to believe myself as being "cursed": every time I get a character to a decent Valor level, another one manages to replace them, preventing the other characters from progressing further.

This has happened no less than five separate occasions with the characters who are in my current roster.

Firstly, the Commando Ziodus got up to Valor Rank 61 before he was replaced by the Gunslinger, who by then was going by the name Calphaya, who actually 'ended' her first run at Valor 58. She in turn was replaced by the Sniper Pippera, who managed to attain the so far unassailable rank of Valor 76 before the Gunslinger stole it back again and managed to get to Valor 65.

Now, the Sage Vhiallia has entered the mix. She was an instant-60 character created due to my dislike of my other Sage from The Harbinger - even though it is of course cheaper to spend 1,500 CC to transfer a character instead of 2,000 to create a new one - sometime in May, and since becoming the PvP Main she has managed to overtake Calph's Valor by (presently) only a couple of hundred points just in this last week.

Hopefully, Vhiallia will actually manage to break this curse once and for all. I'm presently very much enjoying Sage due to its mobility and moderate survivability, so I can't see any reason why I'd go back to Gunslinger or Sniper who lack both of these things. It would be so nice to finally get up to Valor 100, but I still have one hell of a long journey to go.

On the plus-side, I can definitely say that it will be quicker to get I Am Death Incarnate at this rate, as I'm closing in on 40,000!