The first three patch updates of 2009 have brought us multiple bug fixes, tweaks, and exciting additions to the world of Dereth; and many of them have been a breath of fresh air for the players. Unfortunately there are still many players out there who are completely oblivious to many of these important changes, and as many of us know by now a basic understanding of recent changes can dramatically enhance your character and your overall enjoyment of Asheron's Call.
While many of the bug fixes I mentioned are minor, there are indeed plenty of them. A quick look at the release notes from Turbine will give you an idea of what has been fixed, but it is worth noting here that among these minor bug fixes there have been a few hot fixes that are important to note.
Chief among these is the Deru Tree Quest. This quest, which can be completed by a sole player (not requiring a group), yields a two use Mana Forge Key (used to open the top loot tier chests), and a nice experience reward. Some devious players had found a way to exploit this quest, and once this was discovered Turbine acted quickly by implementing a hot fix which will now allow you to run the quest again as it was intended. So if you have been holding off on running this quest there is no longer a need to wait. Get out there and get your keys!
Another popular quest that has run afoul of exploiters recently is Aerbax's Prodigal Tusker - more commonly referred to as Dark Bobo. The most notable quest reward here is the Tusker Paw Wand, which is an essential addition to any mage's arsenal. As of this writing the NPC, Jilna Fullgood, has not been fixed, however it is worth noting that you can still complete the quest and receive the item rewards, however you will not be able to receive the experience and title reward (Prodigal Tusker Slayer) until Jilna has been fixed.
So, other than some minor bug fixes what are these important game play changes and additions you may ask? Well, let's get to the meat of it, shall we?
Topping the list among the recent additions is the new Rare Exchanger that can be found in all of the casinos (Casinos can be found in Yaraq, Shoushi, and Holtburg). What this NPC allows you to do is exchange any rare gem for another random rare gem. There is also a small chance you will receive a grand casino chest key. The basics of how this works is simple: You give the Rare Exchanger one trade note (MMD), and then the rare you wish to exchange. The Rare Exchanger will then give you another random rare (or possibly a key) in return. You may continue to exchange rares until you get only the ones you want, or run out of money (which seems to be my problem most of the time). This is a dramatic addition to the game, as it makes every rare valuable. Yet at the same time there is a buyer beware scenario in place here as well. Many players are currently attempting to dupe other players out of their useless rares by offering to buy them; while yet other players have reportedly invested thousands of MMD notes with the Exchanger (Personally I have had fairly good luck with the Rare Exchanger, and rarely have to spend many MMD notes to get a decent rare - although it can be a money sink at times). What is important to remember here is that any rare you have is now valuable; as it can potentially be turned into that much needed rare you have been looking for (although you will only receive rare gems in exchange - high tiers rares are excluded). So use caution when selling your rares to others, and common sense when exchanging them.
At the top of the list for recent game tweaks there are two that are truly outstanding. The first is the ability to get an augmentation gem every 21 days, instead of every 27. This addition was adopted in February 2009, however I still see people on a daily basis who are not aware of it. This should essentially allow characters to augment themselves in a timelier manner. So if you are still going off your old 27 day timer you are selling yourself short.
The second major tweak that has many players excited is the reduction in time between Monster Fights and Carenzi Races. If you are not yet familiar with the fights and the races, the premise is fairly simple; you show up at the correct location (North of Sanamar for the Monster Fights, Ayan for the Carenzi Races), at or before the next event and give the Bookie at the location 5 MMDs to buy a ticket which in turn allows you to bet on a particular Carenzi for the races, or a specific monster for the fights. If your monster or Carenzi should win the contest you give the ticket stub back to the Bookie and in exchange you will receive a Grand Casino Key. The Grand Casino Keys open the Grand Casino Chests and are excellent for alternate currency (Mhoire Coins, Colosseum Coins, Small Olthoi Venom Sacs, or Pristine Mana Shards). The problem with the races and the fights in the past is that they only occurred once an hour, making it an unappealing time investment for players. With the March 2009 patch the time between these events is now every 15 minutes which should lure more players into participating. To me this is a tremendous boost to this new game concept, and I plan on spending much more time in game gambling my hard earned gold away.
Other than the major tweaks, additions, and bug fixes listed above there has of course been other content introduced in 09'. There is a new Tactical Defense Game for Society members, a monthly game hunter (Rand) in Holtburg, the Dereth Exploration Markers, improved loot profiles in chests, new clothing at the alternate currency vendors, upgraded Colosseum rings, new magic casting tomes, a new powerful unarmed weapon called the Fist of Enlightenment, new creatures on Dark Isle, multiple weapon upgrades, and of course a slew of new locations and quest updates, just to name a few. Sometimes it makes me wonder how Turbine can fit it all in - but when you have passion for a game it shows.
So that is it for this feature instalment, and I think it is time for me to head to back to the fights. See you all in game!