Category Archives: Dumb Top Five

Fade and Glow: Top Five Non-Cartel Market Color Crystals

The recent addition of weapons to the Outfit Designer has been a bigger deal for me than I ever expected. Up until now, I really only actively used one or two weapons at a time per character. But in the last weeks, I’ve been pairing up countless lightsabers, blasters and rifles with dozens of outfits across my legacy. A big part of accessorizing a weapon with an armor set is the choice of color crystal in that weapon, so I thought now would be a great time for another Dumb Top Five list spotlighting the best color crystals that can be found in Star Wars: The Old Republic without spending a single Cartel Coin.

A quick glance at this post will immediately reveal that there are fifteen crystals on this top “five” list. Leaving aside that math has never been my strong suit, it’s simply down to the fact there are so many neat color crystals available to players through crafting and gameplay that I wanted to highlight as many as possible. Besides, my list, my rules.

The Classics: Red, Blue and Green

A red lightsaber looks good on any Sith, and blue and green are so iconic for the Jedi that any list of the best color crystals should absolutely begin (and could arguably end) with the three classic colors of the lightsabers in Star Wars’ original trilogy. Artificers can craft a dozen different color crystals, including these, but I find I return to the primary colored stalwarts again and again. I’ve seen some strong opinions about these crystals having the wrong shade of green or tint of blue, but the movies are hardly consistent when it comes to coloring, so I’d say that you cannot go wrong with these colors, especially given how quick and easy they are to craft.

Eternal Championship: Cyan, Magenta and Purple

Knights of the Fallen Empire’s Eternal Champion boss rush/fight club encounter reintroduced the neon glowing Cyan, Magenta and Purple color crystals that had previously been included in weapons found in the level 50 Operations. Each crystal costs only two tokens awarded from completing the Eternal Championship, but Artificers who had been around prior to KotFE were able to reverse engineer the Cyan and Purple crystals and to craft themselves. In addition, the recipe for the Magenta crystals still drops from level 50 areas and world bosses. If you don’t feel up for a run at the Eternal Championship, you can still find these crystals on the Galactic Trade Network auction house, often affordably priced, but sadly they can no longer be reverse engineered.

Black Core Crystals: Red, Green, Blue and Purple

There are several brand of distinctive “black core” color crystals available in the game. The Red, Blue, Purple and Orange (not pictured) drop in Operations and the Green-Black crystal can be purchased from Jeelvic the Jawa for four Rakghoul DNA Canisters, event currency that can be earned during the recurring Rakghoul Resurgence. Of the four pictured here, I think Black-Blue is my favorite, but all of these crystals stand out in a crowd and look especially dramatic when paired with the right weapon tunings.

Just like the original purple and cyan crystals, these black core blue, orange, purple and red crystals also could be reverse engineered by Artificers prior to Fallen Empire. Therefore they are likely to be found on the GTN as player made items or simply the BOE versions that still drop in Operations to this day.

Tricolor Crystals: White-Purple-Blue, White-Orange-Yellow, and Red-Blue

Of the many different variants of crystals in the game, the triple color crystals are among the most unusual, and Artificers can craft two of them: White-Orange-Yellow and White-Purple-Blue. I also included the Red-Blue crystal here since its color interactions suggest a white inner glow. Attacks that involve throwing a lightsaber or attacks with wide, spinning strokes really show off all the different hues these crystals apply to lightsaber blades, and I find them fun to see in action. Of these three, I consider White-Orange-Yellow to be the stand out. There are other orange and yellow color combinations out there, but this particular crystal looks and feels the most like gold. If you’re playing a High Republic inspired Jedi, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Best Crystal for a Blaster: Fire Red

Color crystals, of course, most dramatically affect the appearance of lightsabers, but I would be remiss if I did not also include my favorite color crystal for all those pistol packing, rifle slinging and bazooka blasting troublemakers out there. Blue, green and red blaster bolts are the standard from the movies, but the Artifice crafted Fire Red will spice up your blaster bolts with an extra dash of heat. This is my go-to for most of my ranged tech classes, and it looks especially awesome spraying from a Commando’s auto-cannon.

Honorable Mention for the Truly Dedicated: Silver-Black

I like to include a “For the Truly Dedicated” entry on these lists, but I’ve decided to give the Black-Silver crystal mere Honorable Mention status on account of the fact that it can only be acquired through playing Ranked PVP. While it does cost a modest amount of Ranked tokens, I know that for many players, there is no amount of Ranked PVP that they would consider even “modest.” However, if you want to come as close as you currently can in SWTOR to wielding the Darksaber, then the Black-Silver color crystal is for you.

At the time of writing, SWTOR is currently in a ranked “pre-season” so wins and losses do not count towards overall ranking, so now is the best time to dip your toes in the game’s most competitive PVP mode. If you are curious if it is something you’d like to attempt, I suggest checking out this video from the great and powerful Kogass_ who has some advice for those thinking about ranked. Kogass recorded the video during Onslaught, but his advice equally applies to Legacy of the Sith. And if you want to check out some exciting level 80 Ranked PVP action, tune into Kogass‘ Twitch channel!

All of the color crystals on this list are Bind on Equip or Bind to Legacy which means that you will not be able to unlock additional versions of the crystals like you can using Account Unlocked Cartel Market color crystals. So be careful when swapping in new crystals over ones that you might want to save. Artifice crafted crystals can be replacd with relative ease, but some of the rarer ones might be tougher or expensive to reacquire.

Keep in mind that stats on the weapons and armor you stamp into the Outfit Designer do not matter at all, just their appearance! Go ahead and put a Power Crystal in a weapon you stamp on an outfit you intend to tank in. This goes for low level crystals too. If you’ve been getting a pre-order bonus +4 Endurance Black-Yellow crystal in the mail of every character you’ve made in the last ten years, you at last have a reason to slap that yellowjacket in a saber and let it sting!

Finally, if you have a few hundred thousand credits to spare and are at least Valor Rank 10, you can skip the middlemen of crafting and the GTN for most of the crystals on this list and simply purchase Mastery versions of them from the PVP Items vendor in the Combat Training section of both Fleets.

The updated Outfit Designer has made it easier than ever to embrace every color on the rainbow of color crystals and I encourage everyone to check them out. If you’ve got a favorite color crystal, let me know in the comments what weapon and tuning it goes with best. I’m always keen to discover new combinations!

 

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Filed under Dumb Top Five, General SWTOR

Whatever Happens, Happens: Five Predictions for 2022

This week, let’s continue this blog’s annual tradition of embarrassment with my top five predictions for SWTOR in 2022!

Before we begin, I should take stock of last year’s list. Even though my predictive track record is traditionally not good, last year was a total miss. Looking over the post, I did briefly consider that the year might end with an expansion announcement rather than an actual expansion, but discarded that notion as unlikely. Ah, youth!

So this year, there is nowhere to go but up! However, it’s been tough to come up with predictions this time around. I’ve already engaged in plenty of wild speculation about Legacy of the Sith, and it’s hard to predict too much beyond what little we know already. Nevertheless, I’ll try to focus my speculation to what happens after 7.0 and what we know of its content.

Ready for Launch

I feel certain that Legacy of the Sith will indeed debut on February 15, its second announced launch date. I’ll give them a day or two wiggle room, but I don’t imagine it is a stretch to say that folks at Bioware really, really don’t want another delay. Will there be bugs and glitches? Of course there will. This isn’t my first MMO, and I’m sure we’ll have to endure some growing pains as we gear up, wait for things to get fixed and see how players are actually interacting with 7.0’s new systems.

Hopefully most bugs won’t affect the average player, but veterans know to strap themselves in and get ready for a bumpy ride for the first part of the expansion. The early weeks of Legacy of the Sith should be an interesting time in SWTOR, but hopefully not too interesting!

That Eriadu That You Do

While much of what we know about Legacy of the Sith focuses on Darth Malgus and the conflict between the Republic and the Empire, I don’t think the burgeoning Mandalorian civil war will be ignored. I have a feeling the next phase of that story will take us to the planet Eriadu. Heta Kol’s interest in Clan Cadera may be leading her to Eriadu where Clan Ordo fought alongside Torian Cadera prior to his introduction to SWTOR’s main story. That Eriadu appears on the starmap of Heta Kol’s path through the Outer Rim is probably not a coincidence. Is it a hint or red herring? I’m sure we’ll find out this year.

Beyond that, I have no idea what might be coming next. I still think Darth Malgus might meet his end on Elom, but I’m no longer feeling quite as sure as I did at this time last year. Will Darth Nul be the next big threat to the galaxy? It seems like a safe bet, but it remains too early to tell.

Origin Stories

Combat Styles and Load Outs are SWTOR’s big system changes coming with the expansion, but I fear an unintended consequence of characters having two Combat Styles is that the difference in gameplay between our characters might flatten out the uniqueness of our alts. I have many characters that I play to fill certain rolls in group content: a Shadow I made just to tank, a Sorcerer who only heals, etc. Come Legacy of the Sith when my group needs a tank while I’m playing my healer, I’ll just click a couple buttons to go from Sage to Shadow and Bob’s your uncle. While one character won’t be able to cover every single style, we’ll have more versatility in swapping roles. That’s pretty neat, especially since it will allow me to spent more time playing the characters I like the most, but I hope that doesn’t reduce out the importance of our Origin Stories especially when it comes to SWTOR’s ongoing narrative.

An Agent playing as an Operative and a Bounty Hunter playing as an Operative, should still have different story experiences. The difference can be subtle, but still feel big. For example: let’s see the return of our class ships as not only means of transport to new worlds, but also as settings for conversations. It’s become a running joke in the game itself how many of those Zakuul shuttles we’ve crashed, and I think it’s high time we take flight in our classic, iconic ships again.

I also think they can personalize the story with companion interactions. Instead of having Lana delivering the same exposition to each character, how about Troopers get their briefing from Jorgan, Consulars from Iresso, Sith Warriors from Pierce and Agents from Temple? Everyone would be getting the same information, but it would go a long way to make each play through feel different.

SWTOR has a huge cast, and wrangling them all into recording booths, especially in this day and age, must be a logistical nightmare, so I know what I’m suggesting is highly improbable, but I always like it when the game remembers that my Consular isn’t the same character as my Jedi Knight.

More Customizations

I was very happy indeed to see on the PTS several new hairstyles and complexion options in the character creator. More diverse and inclusive customizations are always welcome, and I hope what we’ve seen on the PTS is only the beginning. Obviously, I’d love to see more hairstyles, beards and make-up options for everyone! More skin colors and tattoos (including full body ink) for Mirialan, Rattataki, Togruta, Twi’leks and Zabraks! More elaborate horns for Zabraks and piercings for Rattataki! I’d love to see Cyborgs have access to weird and distinctive enhancements: glowing robotic eyes, segmented faces and mechanical jaws. How cool would it be if Valance’s half-metallic skull became an option for Cyborgs?

I could suggest new additions for days, but I do hope for more appearance options for our characters inspired by the evolving interpretations of the peoples of the Star Wars universe that we have seen since SWTOR‘s launch. I honestly don’t know how much bang for the buck new haircuts or tattoos get versus a cool armor set or weapon, but I definitely feel like the options from SWTOR’s character creator are starting to pale in comparison to the competition and the more of those we can get the better.

Once Porg Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

Look, you knew this one was coming. I seriously considered giving up on Porgs this year, and instead would’ve devoted this last prediction to a desperate hope and plea that SWTOR not embrace NFTs this year. But I want to keep the tone of this list light, and any such prediction would’ve ended with me curled up on the floor, sobbing “Please, God, no.” Beside SWTOR already has a cash shop, and while you may not like the Cartel Market, at least it isn’t preventing anyone from getting a PS5.

Moreover while watching Aviriia’s interview with Charles Boyd last fall, I couldn’t help but notice that, SWTOR’s Creative Director had a Porg perched on the bookshelf behind him. To that all I can ask is this: WHERE IS MY PORG, CHARLES? WHERE IS MY PORG?!

So this is it. I’m calling it now. 2022 will be not only the year of the Porg, but also the Loth Kitty, the Flesh Raider Baby, the Force Owl and the Rancor Toddler. I predict our characters’ menageries will overflow every wide-eyed, adorable critter the galaxy has to offer. But no Grogu, That’s just crazy talk.

So here’s to 2022! Last year was pretty quiet, and I hope SWTOR makes up for it with a tenth anniversary filled to the brim with new characters, breathtaking locations, exciting action and unexpected plot twists that we can all enjoy together. I realize this year’s predictions have ventured a bit farther into what I hope for Legacy of the Sith rather than what I actually foresee, but it seems to me that the days before an expansion are a great time to dream big. What are your hopes and predictions for this year of SWTOR? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Iokath is Good, Actually

I feel like I’m overdue for a Dumb Top Five list, and while we have a moment to catch our breath between Legacy of the Sith announcements, I thought I’d pick a particularly hopeless lost cause to champion. For the record, I’m not trying to pick a fight with anyone in particular. The simple fact of the matter is that whenever anyone mentions Iokath, it is almost always in the context of how much they hate it.

However, long time readers will know that I’ve always offered at least lukewarm support of Iokath so, sure, if I’m gonna die on a hill, let that hill be the machine world run by SCORPIO. So as part of this project’s goal to spotlight parts of the game that some players might have overlooked, here are my top five reasons why Iokath is actually good.

Iokath is Just Cool

Questing across the inner surface of a Dyson sphere is one of those mind blowing scifi concepts that can be difficult to wrap our heads around.

Iokath dwarfs the largest sentient made structures in all of Star Wars lore. The closest thing to Iokath SWTOR players will have encountered is Kuat Drive Yards, the artificial ring around the planet Kuat, and that’s not even close at all. Iokath is a sphere whose perimeter is likely similar to the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, and encloses and draws in the entire radiant output of a star! There are whole other planets orbiting inside of Iokath! Iokath’s surface area is several hundred million times that of the Death Star! It’s an astonishing notion to think about. Its makers are also responsible for the Gravestone, the Eternal Fleet and the pantheon of Zakuul’s Machine Gods, some of the most terrifying powers in the history of the entire galaxy.

So next time you’re on Iokath, look up and know that’s not sky you’re seeing. It’s an endless expanse of technology enveloping everything around you within an Astronomical Unit.

Iokath is Easy

This is probably where I’m gonna lose people. “Iokath is confusing!” “It’s a pain to get anywhere!” On my early visits, I certainly agreed, but whoever designed Iokath, I’d argue, did make it easy to traverse. Once I began to understand how the teleporters and trams connected across the zone, I discovered I had no problem getting from one quest area to the next. Armed with that knowledge, everything else came together.

The dailies lead players to two main areas: the Weapons Factory in the south of the main Expanse, and the instanced Docking Ring section near the Alliance Fleet Spire where players zone-in. There are other quests involving killing various types of droids, and those can be completed anywhere on Iokath. Otherwise there are a some other missions with objectives in the general Expanse area. These objectives are either near the faction bases, or accessible via teleport pads or tram stations.

Once I collect the dailies (Yes, I know. I’ll get to that later), I’ll decide whether I just need to turn around and drive back to the Docking Ring, or head to the Weapons Factory by quick-travelling to the Superweapon Command at the bottom of the map, then taking the tram to either Superweapon Command Entrance where the teleporter zaps me right next to another tram station that will drop me at the factory. It sounds more complicated than “Hop on your speeder and drive to the green arrow on the map,” but I get around Iokath quicker than I do Yavin or Section X.

I believe that having the missions spread out around the zone and questing be somewhat non-linear is fine, more than fine even. Exploration should be a part of the RPG experience and not every map needs to funnel players in a straight line from start to finish. It’s okay to let players find their own path or wander around a little.

Iokath is Fun

Fun is relative, of course, and in matters of taste there can be no disputes. The CZ-198 daily area is brilliantly designed to shuttle players through the zone in a non-stop frenzy of combat and quest object clicking, but sometimes I just want to do something different, and Iokath does a pretty good job scratching that itch.

I’ll concede that some people absolutely loath vehicle quests, but I don’t mind most of them. Rolling around as a seemingly harmless, chirping mouse droid and blowing an enemy walker to smithereens is good for a laugh. The turret daily is nigh impossible to fail and nice when I’m just looking to kick back and only press one or two buttons for a bit.

Above them all, I love the walker daily the most. I will never not enjoy stomping enemies into dust beneath my metal toes, blasting robots into next week with laser beams and raining missiles down on my foes.

If I just want to run around and kill mobs, SWTOR offers plenty of ways for me to do that, but I appreciate that Iokath at least wants to mix it up a bit with some oddball quests and and overall more relaxed pace. At the very least, the odds of having to compete with other players for quest objectives and mobs are significantly less on Iokath. If you in an anti-social mood, it’s the place to be.

Iokath has Good Rewards

First off, if you’re looking to score some Conquest points, Iokath will net you a bucketful. Assuming the values don’t change in 7.0, the weekly alone should still complete a character’s personal conquest.

In addition, the reputation rewards are nothing to sneeze at. The Iokath Annihilator armor set is, in my opinion, the best Sith themed reputation set in the game. The Republic counterpart, the Iokath Technographer set is a bit of an acquired taste, but its glowing piping and animated visor are as distinctive as anything you’ll find on the Cartel Market.

Each faction’s reputation vendor also has a decent selection of decorations. Personnel decorations are always useful for populating an empty stronghold, and I especially like the light cast by the Iokath Wall Lamp from the Republic vendor.

And if you want a big, pointy speeder to cruise around in, both faction’s vendors can set you up.

Iokath is Bad, Actually

In good conscience, I cannot gloss over the reasons people dislike Iokath. First and foremost, even though the weekly quest requires that we complete ten dailies, the quest terminal doesn’t actually offer enough quests to complete the weekly in one go. It seems, by design, Iokath is not meant to be completed in a single day.

This is fundamentally at odds with how nearly everyone, including myself, approaches daily areas. We want to get in and out all in one trip. People already don’t want to go to Iokath in the first place, expecting them to go back at least twice a week is silly.

To make matters even more confusing, the selection of quests offered on any given day rotates on a daily basis so that I may not be offered enough quests in a specific area to make going there a good use of my time.

My strategy when approaching Iokath is to collect quests early in the week and then check back later as the selection changes so that I get not only enough missions to complete the weekly but enough in the areas where I want to go. However, this tends to leave my mission log clogged to overflow when I’d prefer to leave room for others I want to complete that day.

To put it mildly, this is not at all player friendly design. If it were up to me, I’d put all the missions on the board and let players pick and choose the ones they want to do. At the very least, there should always be enough quests to complete the weekly, and if not every quest will be available, the ones that are should share common objectives and destinations to make completing them efficient.

Is Iokath good? No, but it could be. It should be! Players should not be expected to jump through extra hoops just to complete some dailies. Instead of keeping things fresh, the narrow and random selection of missions causes frustration and works to make visiting Iokath feel worse than it needs to be. Let players choose which dailies to take. Yes, someone will math out the most time-to-credit efficient path to take to complete the weekly in the fastest possible time, but I think that’s preferable to almost no one ever going there at all. And if other players want to mix things up and discover the joys of crashing around in a walker or grab a couple friends and take on the Colossus Droid, so much the better.

I like Iokath. I really do. When I manage to score a good mix of missions, it’s one of my favorite weekly areas. And if it could get out of its own way, I think more people might like it too.

Update!

If you are a fan of Iokath or are looking for some help to get into the area, do not miss “Daily Tour: Iokath” for some in depth commentary and guides to the dailies on Iokath by Shintar of the Going Commando blog. It includes helpful maps and suggestions for navigating the zone.

 

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A Face in the Crowd: Top Five Faces of the Old Republic

There are many grave and important issues facing Star Wars: The Old Republic these days. Who knows when all the classes will be balanced? What are Malgus’ plans? Where does Theron get his hair cut? When will Vaylin become a romancable companion? Why can’t we have a Baby Yoda pet? How will SWTOR celebrate its 10th anniversary?

However, those questions pale in comparison to the five I will be answering today. Curiously, each answer exposes a different face of the Old Republic, whose visages reveal not only our capacity for pattern recognition in the oddest of places, but also the discovery that no matter where you go, from the most crowded instance of the Imperial and Republic fleets to the depths of Manaan and the darkest corner of Iokath, you’re never really alone.

As you wander around Carrick Station, do you ever feel like you’re being silently judged?

That’s because you are.

Why do the Selkath stan HK Droids?

Welcome to HK-221B Manaan Street.

Is this closest we’re ever going to get to a Porg in SWTOR?

Say it ain’t so, Bioware!

Why does it seem like the GTN section is always hungry?

Vaiken Spacedock is both figuratively and literally ready to devour you and your credits.

How can you know if you took a wrong turn in the Gods from the Machine operation?

It’s okay, I do it all the time too.

Next time you catch the gaze of these friendly faces on your journey through the galaxy, smile back.

 

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Fight the Future: Five Predictions for 2021

Happy New Year! Let’s all hope that 2021 is a big improvement on the previous year. As is tradition, let’s kick things off with my dumb top five predictions for the next year of SWTOR that are likely to be wrong.

Looking back at last year’s list, it did look for a moment like I might, shockingly, come away with a winning record. A Blurrg mount was briefly teased on the PTS late last year but it did not seem close to making it to the live game. One should always remember that the PTS is not a promise. While this does suggest we might lope around on a Blurrg at some time in the coming year, I cannot fairly give myself a point for that one.

As for my two correct predictions, guessing that we wouldn’t see changes to Spoils of War was not a stretch. No one has ever gone poor betting that something in SWTOR would not change. As for my story prediction, technically it has not been explicitly confirmed, but the subtext is clear enough that I feel confident putting that one in the win column. I am being somewhat vague since it still feels spoilery, but I will say I am pleased with how that beat played out in the Echoes of Oblivion story.

Without further ado on with the show! These predictions are based on my years of experience not developing a mass market videos game inspired by one of the world most popular intellectual properties. So, of course, I know what I’m talking about.

Expansion Hype

SWTOR’s tenth anniversary is next December, and it seems reasonable to expect that Bioware would like to celebrate with an expansion. That will give Onslaught a roughly two year lifespan, a stretch more or less in line with SWTOR’s other expansions. With much of Onslaught’s 2020 content backed up to the end of the year, this does leave a lot of ground for the game to cover before getting ready for a new expansion, so this prediction is far from a slam dunk. Will 2021 end with a new expansion or a new expansion announcement? There is a fair amount of ground between the two, but I will boldly predict that this time next year, we’ll be level 80 and grinding new sets of equipment. Hopefully not in Hammer Station.

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

The possibility of an expansion does make the business of predictions easy this time. I suspect that the Spirit of Vengeance flashpoint and perhaps one more (or two if we’re really lucky) to come this year, will act as the prologue to the next expansion, in the same way the Forged Alliances flashpoints set up Shadow of Revan. That means the next expansion could very well focus on a Mandalorian civil war. Mandalorians are having their moment in pop culture right now so I don’t think it’s outrageous that SWTOR might get in on that action. In addition, it’s also a faction neutral setting into which Bioware could easily insert both Republic and Sith aligned characters.

This could also allow Bioware to keep the loyalist/saboteur storylines going without having to resolve them. I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing Republic Bounty Hunters looking for work on Carrick Station and Jedi saboteurs recruiting on Korriban anytime soon.

End of Expansion Gearing

If we do get an expansion, I suspect it will be preceded by a tried and true MMO end of expansion gear bonanza. I don’t think a new tier of gear would be out of the question to drive up those Veteran’s Edge stacks. At the very least I’d say the Dxun class sets and crafting materials for gold augments will become easier to acquire. While I know the mechanics of how Ossus gear was acquired during Jedi Under Seige was controversial, I do think we might see new loot gained from a new daily area and perhaps a lair boss.

Hey, What About Malgus?

The fate of Darth Malgus remains the major thread from Onslaught still dangling, and resolving his story seems like the thing Onslaught will most likely accomplish this year. Whatever Malgus is up to on Dantooine could very well take us to the ruins of the Jedi Enclave there. In the end, I think we will face and defeat Malgus in final battle. I’ve seen other possibilities suggested for Malgus, but as fond as I am of him and the tragic figure he’s become, I think his days are numbered. I don’t imagine we’ll be able to join him, recruit him as a companion, or install him as the Sith Emperor. He is reasonable to be suspicious, at best, of the player characters regardless of class, faction or allegiance, and I just don’t see him going down without a fight.

A Porg in Every Pot

It’s not a running joke until I run it into the ground. So, yes, I am hopeful that 2021 will be finally the year that an adorable Porg will be able to follow and passively observe me on my adventures! Once again, I am here to offer helpful suggestions for how to add Porgs to SWTOR. First off, clearly, there will be Porg tacticals that replace all our spoken dialogue with Porg calls. This will make the recording of all future dialogue a significantly easier task. But let’s be clear, there must be distinct Porg sounds for characters of all genders and alignments. Clearly a Sith Inquistor’s clucks should be distinct from a Republic Trooper’s chirps. And since I’ve predicted that a new tier of gear is imminent, the system to acquire it should be named “Spoils of Porgs” which will allow us to grind unwanted gear into “Porg Fragments” that we can use to purchase Best-in-Slot equipment. And, yes, Bioware, you can have these ideas for free.

For these predictions to come to pass, it would mean we’d be getting outrageously more content from SWTOR than we’ve almost ever seen from the game’s history. So I’m certainly letting my sunny disposition get the better of me. Still, I believe Bioware plans to mark the tenth anniversary of SWTOR with something special, so I am honestly hopeful it will be a party to remember.

 

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Five For Five: Revisiting Some Top Five Lists

With so much going on in the real world right now, perhaps it’s only natural that I find myself looking back a bit. Since the earliest days of this blog I’ve been compiling “Dumb Top Five Lists” meant to highlight some of my favorite hidden corners and overlooked collectibles that can be found in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I thought it might be neat to see if some recent additions to the game could manage to secure spots on some of those old lists.

Top Non-Cartel Market Mounts: Feirocian Cruiser

The first list of my favorite non-Cartel Market stuff covered mounts, but there have been many new mounts added to the game since that post. Many of those could be found in Galactic Command Crates during Knight of the Eternal Throne. The best, by far, of these is the Feirocian Cruiser which was a very rare prize found in Tier 4 Command Crates. This large, unique speeder is the closest we’re ever going to get to driving the Batmobile in SWTOR. The massive fins, crackling plasma binders and gold trim all combine to make this one of the sweetest whips in the game.

Does it make the top five? During KotET this would’ve been a tough call since the only source of this mount was the highest level Galactic Command Crates. I won’t lie; I ground a lot of CXP hoping to find this ride. Because of that difficulty, I would have put this in the “For the Truly Dedicated” category, but I’m not sure it could replace the beloved Pleasure Speeder in my heart. However, with Onslaught, the Cruiser can now be purchased from the Spoils of War Vehicle Vendor in the Supplies section of both Fleets for the relatively low cost of 500 Tech Fragments and 300,000 credits. This change parks the Feirocian Cruiser in the Vendor category where it easily earns the top spot. I don’t tend to like big mounts, but this one is worth picking up.

Top Non-Cartel Market Dyes: Dark Blue and Gray

Only two non-CM dye modules have been added to the game since my second list was posted, but they’re both nice combinations of Dark Blue and Gray. Their recipes can be learned from the Artifice trainer at skill level 620.  Despite sharing the same base colors, the two dyes seem to apply different shades. The Dark Blue and Gray dye, in particular, is very nice for a wide variety of outfits. The blue is very dark, nearly black, and the gray has a subtle metallic blue tint to it. I’ve applied this dye to Trooper armor, Agent gear and Sith robes, and it works well on all of them.

Does it make the top five? Absolutely. Despite the dearth of player crafted customization options, the Dark Blue and Gray dye module is a standout. It handily bumps Deep Brown and Red from my original list and doesn’t feel the slightest bit bad about it.

Top Non-Cartel Market Decorations: Bioluminescent Mushrooms

Where SWTOR has not been stingy lately is in providing numerous of decorations for players to earn in game on Ossus, Dantooine, Onderon and Mek Sha. Despite the wide variety of civic, furniture, environmental and technological decorations from these sources, my favorite is easily the Bioluminescent Mushrooms sold by astromech D3-C0 on Ossus. Prior to Onslaught, these decorations cost precious Masterwork Crystals, but they can now be purchased for a mere 50 Tech Fragments each.

Does it make the top five? Given that I have spent thousands of Tech Fragments to carpet the Killik Cave of my Alderaan stronghold with these happy little mushrooms, I think it’s fair to give them top marks in the Reputation category. They are small decorations, but they pulse with a pleasant blue glow and throw off particles for a pleasantly soothing effect.

Top Non-Cartel Market Pets: Flirron

The jungles of Onderon are filled with countless creepy crawlies, prehistoric beasties, and flying fish, and resourceful players can take home a friendly Flirron as a companion pet after completing a short achievement. This four-winged fellow is part fish, part bird and pretty darn slick with its shiny blue scales and red stripes. Onderon is stuffed to the brim with secrets and achievements, and I definitely recommend making friends with the local wildlife while exploring this world!

Does it make the top five? I’m not sure, since it would replace the Nerf Herding achievement which is more involved and, to me, more engaging than the fairly simple Flirron-Friend achievement. On the basis of looks alone, however, the Flirron at the very least merits an Honorable Mention.

Best Worst Ways to Die in SWTOR: The Dxun Train

I’ve been having fun in SWTOR’s newest operation, The Nature of Progress, which keeps up SWTOR’s proud tradition of insuring that not all threats come from bosses. To raid an operation with a real sense of humor and literal running jokes has been a nice change of pace, and it helps that it does not lack for good encounters. The showpiece of the operation is certainly the Mutant Trandoshan Squad in which a brave team of heroes face off against four mighty, metamorphosed Trandoshan hunters. Despite being nigh invulnerable, they are ultimately no match for several tons of high-speed rocket trains crashing into their face. I’ve been running this operation for several months, and it still makes me laugh every single time one of those poor fellows goes splat. The Czerka Express, of course, is also fatal to players who should make sure to get clear when the hear that train a comin’. Under no circumstances should you use abilities like Rescue and Transpose to endanger the lives of your fellow party members. That would be wrong. I would never do that.

Does it make the top five? Without question. That instant comedy deaths can be inflicted on players and bosses alike makes this one of the all time greats.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane. If I missed your favorite decoration or mount, please let me know! I have more Aurebesh in the pipeline, but in the meantime, I hope everyone out there takes care of themselves, their families and their community.

 

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A Mug’s Game: Five Predictions for 2020

Happy New Year! My annual attempt at failed prognostication has become something of a tradition, and, if we grade last year’s predictions on a generous curve, I scored a 1.5 out of 5, which is much better than I would’ve expected. As usual, I shall swing for the fences and not put any pressure on myself to anticipate the next year of SWTOR and actually hope to be right. There is a reason I call these top five lists “dumb”, after all.

Spoils of War

I don’t think we will see major changes to Spoils of War. For the most part, I have the impression that players are satisfied with gearing in Onslaught, especially as it compares to Galactic Command at any point in Knights of the Eternal Throne. I imagine there might be some tweaking in the months ahead. Renown Crates might as well reward nothing but Tech Fragments considering how rarely they contain useful or interesting loot, and hopefully there will be new additions for classes or specs that still lack a cool set or tactical. I also hope crafting gets another look; making basic stuff like medpacks, stims or augments still feels a bit tedious. Having to constantly churn out six types of components every time I want to make something is already getting old. All that said, it’s been a welcome change to have more stability in gearing this time around.

Blurrg Mounts

It’s fair to say that The Mandalorian has been very well received indeed by both Star Wars fans and SWTOR players. I’ve seen a rush of new Bounty Hunters overrunning Imperial Fleet since the show’s debut. I have no doubt that armor and weapons inspired by the show are certain to make their way to the Cartel Market as quickly as the artists at Bioware can crank them out. I predict that among those will certainly be Blurrg mounts. A colorful assortment of adorably ugly Blurrg pets have long been available to players, and I’d be amazed if they weren’t being fattened up for us to ride at this very moment. I’ll be shocked if I don’t score a point for this prediction next year, and perhaps one day our characters will even be the ancestors who rode the great Mythosaur!

The Dead Speak!

Kira Carsen and Lord Scourge have returned to SWTOR‘s main story with warnings of a Dark Side plague apparently unleashed by Valkorion’s defeat. I will go out on a limb and predict that this new threat might somehow also function as a way to allow for Vaylin’s return. Vaylin is arguably the character with the most tragic story in all of the Fallen Empire saga, and that her fate is set in stone regardless of our choices has been criticized by some who just like the character and by others who are uncomfortable with the idea that someone who was so horribly abused by her father had no path to redemption or escape. I don’t think it’s impossible that we could see her return in the not-too distant future. Nevertheless it might be odd to see her join our stable of companions. That the former Eternal Empress and one of the most powerful Force users in the galaxy might wind up helping us complete dailies on CZ-198 or chain run Slicing missions doesn’t feel like a fitting conclusion to her story either.

New Planet: Honoghr

This prediction is complete and utter speculation on my part. I hope we will visit a new world or two this year, but which ones? The Noghri were recently re-introduced into the official canon during the fourth season of Star Wars: Rebels, and I think they could be cool additions to SWTOR. Their homeworld, Honoghr is a jungle planet with links to both the ancient Rakata and Sith cultists, and it very well could be a planet someone like Darth Malgus might us as a base of operations or source of minions to use in his revenge against his hated foes in the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic. The depictions of the Noghri have varied greatly in Star Wars lore over the years, so I think SWTOR might have some latitude in putting their own stamp on them, and that would be neat to see. That said, if I’m being honest, I think we are far more likely to visit the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk or Black Spire Outpost on Batuu than Honoghr this year. I would be fine with either of those destinations.

My Kingdom for a Porg!

Yes, for the third year in a row, Porgs are on this list, and, no, I will not give up on my fine feathered and tasty friends! Truthfully, I accept that Porgs are now fated to do nothing more than hold Baby Yoda’s beer, but I still cling to the foolish hope they will follow along and squawk at my characters’ adventures at some point in the year to come. Once again, I will also offer some unsolicited advice on additional Porg themed items that should make their way to a Cartel Market near you. First, and most obviously, there should be a Porg Flair that replaces our portrait with a dancing Porg. Second, a Porg Weapon Tuning should perch a Porg perilously close to the end of our blaster barrels and lightsaber emitters and also replace the weapon’s sound effects with Porg mating calls. Finally, I can imagine a countless array of Porg themed decorations for our Strongholds: Porgs nests, Porg perches, Porg Disguise Terminals, and interactive Porg BBQ pits. It’s not too late for 2020 to be the year of the Porg, Bioware!

Feel free to let me know how catastrophically wrong these predictions are in the comments below or to share a few of your own. In the meantime, I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start and that SWTOR roars into the ’20’s with another year of fun for all!

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Five

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Five: Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m sure you are shocked –shocked- to discover that someone who writes about The Old Republic, also likes Star Wars video games. That said, despite the fact that I’ve been keeping this blog for three years, I’ve never really talked about why I love SWTOR.

I’ve been playing Star Wars video games since my misspent youth in the shopping mall video game arcade. Later, during Lucasart’s heyday, I leapt into the virtual cockpit of the X-Wing and TIE Fighter simulators and later rampaged around the galaxy as Kyle Katarn in the epic Dark Forces games. That said, I discovered Knights of the Old Republic very late in its initial life. To be honest, I had more fun watching my nephew run through the game than playing it myself.

But I was there the day SWTOR launched and have been on board ever since. Sure, the initial pitch of “World of Warcraft, but with Lightsabers” absolutely appealed to me, but the game itself also hits the same buttons as other items on this list: new stories outside the movies, stories that I have some part in telling through my characters, and adventures I can share with friends.

Very early on, after staying up extra late to finish the Taris storyline on my Consular, the game did a perfect job in putting me in the same headspace as the character I was playing. By the time I finished, we were both just done with that mutant-zombie infested, nuclear wasteland of a planet and had no patience for anyone who would second guess our choices. When the Consular expressed that in a way that was far cooler than I ever could, I knew from that moment that this character was my main; and she has been my favorite ever since.

Over the years, SWTOR has continued to put my characters at the center of new Star Wars stories set on new worlds that I always look forward to exploring. There are plenty of times when SWTOR made me smile or laugh or catch my breath: the time my Smuggler finished off Skavak with a Dirty Kick; the time I agonized over Jaxo’s fate; the first time my Inquisitor walked into the Dark Council chamber like she owned the joint, or my first night on Oricon when I looked up and saw the Dread Palace looming overhead.

Like the old tabletop RPGs, SWTOR is also something I get to share with friends. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to play with the fantastic people in the guild New Outriders as well as many other good folks around the game. Overcoming challenges with other people is one of the best parts of the MMO experience. I’ll never forget beating the original version of Hard Mode Lost Island with three other patient and good-natured souls who’d never grouped together before. I’ll never forget when NOR’s first progression team clicked into high gear with our victory over Hard Mode Operator IX during the early days of Rise of the Hutt Cartel. More recently, I’ll never forget cheering like a fool when Scrubland Shad unleashed some true last pull magic and was the sole survivor of the Bad Feelings Porg Team’s first clear of Hard Mode Explosive Conflict.

Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, SWTOR is a game which I get to play with people whose company I enjoy. Ops nights and flashpoint runs are filled with running jokes about snowballs, Marauder tanks, pickles, the inevitable triumph of gravity and my regular attempts to “try something stupid” instead of playing it safe.

I won’t lie and say that I haven’t ever been frustrated by SWTOR many times over the years or that it’s the best video game ever or that I haven’t encountered toxic behavior from people who take a game about wizards, laser swords and space cowboys far too seriously, but as SWTOR celebrates it 8th birthday, it remains something I can hop into and know that I’ll usually be able to have a good time playing. And that is a credit both to the good people I get to play with and the talented people who make this game.

Happy Holidays

This is likely my last post of the year. I’ll get back to the Aurebesh very soon and will endeavor to keep future ramblings to a minimum as well. In the meantime, I want to wish all my visitors a joyous holiday season, safe travels and good gaming in the year to come.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Four

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Four: Original Art

Before the internet united us all and ruined everything, there was one place nerds like me could gather and share our love for super heroes, starships and space wizards: the comic book convention. As I soon as I had money to burn and means to travel on my own, I started regularly attending local comic shows downtown and soon journeyed to some of the big east coast conventions in New York City, Baltimore and Atlanta. At these conventions, I got to meet and thank many of the creators of my favorite comic books and eventually started purchasing artwork they had for sale.

And then Ebay happened. Collecting original comic art had been a niche within the already niche hobby of comic collecting, and when Ebay enabled dealers and collectors to conveniently sell directly to each other regardless of location, a flood of artwork that was initially perceived to have little value hit the market. While Star Wars art, particularly covers, splash pages or pages from the movie adaptations, was always in higher demand than other comic art, there was still plenty out there for a collector on a budget, a collector like me, to acquire. Eventually I was priced out of the market; this may not come as a surprise to learn, but there are Star Wars fans out there with seriously deep pockets. Yet I remain grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to assemble a modest collection of original comic art and illustrations from several eras of Star Wars comics and books.

Typically, artwork for comics was drawn and inked on large 11″ x 17″ or larger boards, then scaled down for publication. For me, the appeal of collecting originals is being able to appreciate in person the care and details that were lost in the reproduction onto cheap newsprint, to see the traces of rough pencils and corrections, to read notes from the penciller to the inker, comments from the editor, but mainly to thrill at owning an actual piece of a story I very much enjoyed reading in comic book form.

The artwork from my collection that I’ve displayed here is from “Duel with a Dark Lady”, issue 96 of the original Marvel series published in 1985. The issue was written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Cynthia Martin and inked by Bob Wiacek, and is one of my favorite Star Wars stories in any media. These four pages depict Luke Skywalker’s first encounter with and thorough ass-kicking at the hands of Lumiya, who assumed the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith after Darth Vader’s death. Martin’s clean, anime inspired style was unusual to see in mainstream comics in the mid-80s, and Duffy and Martin did a terrific job staging the battle like something from a samurai movie or manga. As the conflict escalates, the tendrils of her crackling whip fill the panels and overwhelm Luke, withdrawing only after his defeat. Also take note of the small detail of Lumiya’s jagged cloak which flies off her at the start of the fight, then is called back to her at the end. I loved it then, I love it now.

And, look, even in this era of lightsabers on pikes, with double-blades, cross-guards and handy bottle-openers, Lumiya’s light-whip is still just freaking cool.

This Thursday: From Quarters to Cartel Coins.

 

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A Long Time Ago: My Top Five Star Wars Things Aren’t Movies – Part Three

To mark the imminent release of The Rise of Skywalker I thought I’d do something a little different. Even though Episode IX will conclude the classic film saga, Star Wars was, from the very beginning, much more than just the movies. A myriad of stories told in every conceivable medium continued the adventures of heroes old and new in that galaxy far, far away. I adore the movies to be sure, but I’ve also found great joy in many aspects of the Star Wars universe beyond the films. So I’d like to celebrate some of those with a Dumb Top Five list of my favorite things about Star Wars that aren’t movies.

Part Three: Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game

In 1987, you would’ve been forgiven if you thought Star Wars was over. It’d been four years since Return of the Jedi came out, and Marvel Comics’ series ended the year before. George Lucas was clearly more interested in continuing the adventures of Indiana Jones than anything in a galaxy far, far away. And, yet, the second great age of Star Wars was about to begin. That year, a small game company called West End Games released a core rulebook and sourcebook for a tabletop roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe.

Over the next decade, West End put out dozens of sourcebooks, adventures and guides that became not only the connective tissue of what became known as the Expanded Universe, but also Star Wars’ official canon. The background of so much lore that we take for granted came not from George Lucas, but the writers at West End Games who named those tube-headed aliens “Twi’liks”, described the Millennium Falcon as a YT-1300 manufactured by the Corellian Engineering Corporation and introduced the Jedi Code as a core part of the background of the Jedi Knights. Even Aurebesh as we know it now, the official fake space language of this very blog, was a creation of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A few years later, writers Timothy Zahn and Tom Veitch would use WEG’s source material as background for their own Star Wars stories, and with the release of Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire, Star Wars roared back to life for a whole new generation of fans to discover.

And as a game, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is terrific fun. The rules are simple to learn, and the game is quick to play. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a handful of regular six-sided dice. The better your character is at something the more dice they roll; the higher they roll, the better the result. And that’s the core rule of the game. Armed with that knowledge, new players can hit the ground running, and experienced players can pull off spectacular feats worthy of heroes from the movies.

This top five list started when a friend asked what my favorite Star Wars stories outside the movies are. As I thought about it, I realized that many of the adventures told around a table by me and my friends would be on that list: the time Thrusty, bloody, beaten and a hair’s breadth from death, absolutely would not give up the fight; the time Ket whacked Tomar upside the head with a baseball bat; the time Darth Vader cut off Aruul’s arm; and countless other dumb, wildly unauthorized, wholly non-canonical and fun stories that are as big a part of our Star Wars experience as anything in any official movie, book or comic. I still love WEG’s Star Wars RPG for being a game that allows some of my favorite people to gather ’round and tell those stories to each other.

After West End Games went out of business, first Wizards of the Coast and now Fantasy Flight Games published more Roleplaying Games based on the Star Wars license. I’ve dabbled in both, but my heart remains with the old West End Games RPG. Over the years, I’ve gotten to interact and occasionally meet some of the people who designed the game, and I’ll always be thankful for their work. Growing up I loved reading comics and throwing action figures at each other, but the Star Wars RPG is something I could play and share with friends. And that simply cannot be beat.

Next week: “Then just say it: You’re a tracer!”

 

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