Decoration Documentation: Carrick Station Penthouse

There has been quite a common request among the Stronghold fanatics of SWTOR: after all the giant palatial houses, it would be nice to start getting more small-scale houses.

I can't say I disagree with this sentiment; a giant house can certainly be very pretty, such as the Alderaan Noble Estate, but in terms of actually feeling like a house any old character can reasonably own? Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch. So maybe a smaller house would actually feel more 'feasible'?

BioWare have responded to these requests by creating two new Strongholds associated with Galactic Seasons: penthouse apartments aboard Carrick and Vaiken spacedocks. I must confess, I'm not really a fan of them. Sure, they're small, and are the sort of thing you could see an important Jedi or military officer being eligible to purchase or even rent out, but there are quite a few issues I've always had with them:

1) The height of the ceilings. For an apartment, the ceilings are really high. These apartments are almost two storeys in height, which is just ludicrous. 

2) The big hexagonal room. Just... what purpose does that serve in an apartment setting?

So while I happily bought them both with Seasons tokens when I could, I never really gave much of a go with them. Sure, I tried a little bit once the decoration bundles containing walls, doors, and ceiling panels etc. were released, and while these solved some of my problems, they didn't solve all of them. So I decided to just leave things be.

With the 'birth' of my new Trooper, my Consular Vihala's baby sister Athena, I felt that the time was ripe to give decorating the Carrick station penthouse a good go. After all, it could then become 'her' Stronghold, as otherwise she would have to leech off the properties of either my other Trooper or her own sister, both of which felt weird.

So, without further ado:



“Never” is a short word, but it’s a massive concept. The idea that, somewhere, sometime, you will do something for the last time, and never do it again, is terrifying, and yet it will eventually happen to us all with everything we’ve ever done and ever shall do.

For me, I thought I had reached that point with much of SWTOR’s content. I took note of the last time I’d completed the HK, Macrobinocular, and Seeker Droid quests with some sadness, and was ecstatic to have taken my Powertech through Eternal Throne et al., because at that time, that was… it. As far as I was aware, those were the final times I would ever have done that content. I was convinced I was never going to create any other characters, and so, yeah, why wouldn’t I believe that?

That belief aged very well!

When the idea planted itself in my head to create a new Trooper, who I’ve identified before is a Sniper / Operative, to act as another ranged Tech character if needed for raids, I was very reluctant to follow through with it. After all, I had proudly asserted that I would “never have to do” all this content again, and I knew full well what creating another character would mean. Eventually, the voice telling me to do it just became too demanding, and I rolled Trooper #10.

I think. I can certainly only name ten.

I must acknowledge that combat styles were not something I was ever anticipating when I made that post or claimed to be “done” with everything. At that time, a Trooper could only ever just be a Commando or a Vanguard, and I had no reason to suspect that anything would ever change on that front. After all, I’d sworn off Commando completely, and having already levelled a Vanguard, why would I level another one?

Yet now Republic Snipers are a thing. Republic Operatives are a thing. Both classes, particularly Sniper due to aligning with Aric Jorgan, suit Trooper particularly well. In a way, I’m now quite glad that BW never managed to get the “choose your primary combat style!” thing working for pre-established characters, as I know full-well I would have chosen Vanguard for my other Trooper alongside Operative to not leave my Hunter as the only character with the faction-equivalent style selected. I would have absolutely kicked myself if I had done this only to then realise that I could have gone Sniper and prevented myself from starting on this road again.

Unusually for me, this is the first time in a long, long time that creating a new character of the same class will not be leading to the deletion of her now-predecessor. As I’ve highlighted above, I still have a Hunter who can be a Powertech… and I never, ever want to be in a situation where I have only one character of any given style. While I’m not playing it now, what if I ever wanted to give it another go and really got back into it? I’d be stuck with only one Powertech / Vanguard type character, and that wouldn’t do.

So, I’d rather just continue with two Troopers. I don’t quite know how I’m going to align them both with my desire to consider each character as the “archetypal” character of their class, but that’s something to figure out later.

Because I vastly prefer the aesthetic of Sniper over that of Gunslinger (and the Gunslinger in question has always been more of a Scoundrel in my head because I really don't like the concept of dual-wielding pistols), this has also led me to realise that if I go back to being a ranged Tech main, I can return to the days of being a Sniper main. Last time I could do this was 3.0, and obviously that was only on Impside. But now… I can keep the same playstyle in high-end raids as I’ve used for years but with a look and feel that I’m much happier with.

It would also be something of a nice bookend for the tenth anniversary celebration. I started endgame as a Trooper main, and now, ten years later, I could be returning to being a Trooper main for endgame yet again.

It’s funny how things work out.


Taking Cover

One of BW’s stated goals with 7.0 was to streamline the playstyle of the various combat styles. Abilities were combined, some were removed, and others can be modded to yield a similar result to a previous ability.

For the most part, I have found myself largely unaffected by this. Most of my characters have kept all but the most situationally useful of abilities, with the most aggravating losses from muscle-memory in terms of abilities being Cyclone Slash for Guardian and Dodge for Gunslinger. 

However, it hasn’t just been abilities which have been removed for Gunslingers and Snipers. We’ve also lost our Cover Bar. For those of you who have never played Gunslinger or Sniper, or are not experienced enough with it to identify from words alone what this was, this was an alternate quickbar which would replace our primary quickbar whenever we entered cover. You could have different abilities on both bars, or a similar setup on both. It was entirely optional, and it could be turned off if desired.

With 7.0’s goal of streamlining combat styles, the Cover Bar was selected as a system that needed to be removed. For me, this means that I have had to adapt and re-learn how to play Gunslinger after eight years of muscle-memory telling me that I could press the same button to alternately enter Cover and use Snipe or Lethal Shot. I had other buttons I could have pressed to enter cover (seriously, I had about six copies of “Take Cover” on my main bar for most fights, each one signifying where an ability that I tended to only use in cover was situated), but “2” became the main one for some reason.

I have found this quite difficult to adjust to, and that’s even after spending a couple of months trying to adjust ever since I knew it would be a thing from the PTS. To this day, I’m still finding that I’m hitting the wrong keybind to go into cover, resulting in a standing Lethal Shot. Hunker Down has also been moved, since on the Cover Bar it used to be where my rest-and-regen ability was, but with the removal of class buffs it’s now situated only two slots over from where it was before. I still hit the wrong button for that occasionally but nowhere near as frequently as I once did.

As you could probably infer from above, this is the sort of thing that would impact me regardless of whether or not I was a clicker or keybinder. Muscle-memory is an important aspect of any MMO, particularly those with a lot of buttons, and any difference would upset that a fair bit. For example, this evening I came up with the idea of maybe returning to having my primary cover-button as “2”, while moving Lethal Shot to “3”. I found that I kept on hitting “2” since, of course, that’s always been Lethal Shot when I’m in cover! Where I more used to clicking, I would almost certainly find myself clicking where Lethal Shot was in this scenario, so the same result would occur. 

So, for now, I’m using the default “V” keybind to enter cover, and leaving my main quickbar almost exactly as my Cover Bar would have been. It works well enough.

Since I’ve had to completely change how I play this class of over eight years’ experience, you’d think I’d be grumbling about this. Threatening to unsubscribe until it gets fixed, refusing point-blank to play Gunslinger at all because they’ve ruined my baby? Well…

I don’t mind this change in the slightest. Sure, it’s slightly aggravating from my perspective, and I think even more annoying from the perspective of the rest of my raid team as it’s given me the biggest excuse yet to play Balance Sage, but I am 100% behind this change. Sincerely. This is not a sarcastic “reverse-psychology” statement indicating that I’m really, really sour about this. I genuinely believe that this was a good change for BW to make.

While I have been used to playing with this active for eight years, I am very aware that this has been the most confusing element for many a potential Gunslinger or Sniper over the years. Yes, it was optional, but a confusing UI element is going to throw off a lot of people, especially when used alongside the already awkward cover functionality.

If this change means that many more players are going to understand Gunslinger or Sniper easier, then, yeah, I do fully endorse it. It’s more important that newer or unfamiliar players can have an easier time adjusting to this unique system than it is for this veteran to keep their playstyle exactly as it’s always been. BW do not make this game for me. I'm a paying subscriber and have been since December 2011, but I do not believe BW owes me a single thing.

Besides, there are ways around this. It’s just the button to enter cover which is catching me out; with enough time, I’ll crack it. I’m reluctant to focus on anything difficult until I do, given how useful being in cover can be for a Gunslinger, but I will crack it at some point.

Especially now that I’ve done something I was never expecting to do prior to 7.0, and that’s create another Trooper, Athana (Sniper / Operative). With my other one, Jenn, being Vanguard / Operative, that’s two melee specs on one character. Not very versatile, especially if it comes to raids where I might very well need to send an extra character to help with another guild-group! If I eventually do get back into playing Gunslinger in raids as I hope I will, I’d far rather have another ranged Tech character that I can do things with if needed, and this enables me to accomplish that.

I’m going to be using her story to give me the time I hope I need to get over my small problem with Cover in a stress-free environment. It shouldn’t take that long, I hope.

Until I feel ready to return to Gunslinging, I’m quite content doing operations with my Sage. It helps that, right now, we’re mainly doing Veteran Operations, so there hasn’t been an awful lot which we’ve encountered which is not well suited for Balance. We’ll get to that point eventually, I’m sure, which is why I want to sort things out with my back-up class ASAP, just so I can switch to a more ‘appropriate’ spec if needed.

Still got a bit of a way to go until that point, however!