Thanks to a bunch of tips, I learned that what I should have been looking for as a Crystal Tower-replacement is called Void Ark, not Alexander. It took me a little time to figure out how to unlock it, because the quest that takes you to it starts out in Foundation with some random guy on the street who doesn’t look like he would ever lead to anything good. I found him from the 3.1 Patch Notes.
So Void Ark is unlocked, but of course it requires item level 175 to enter.
But thanks to another tip, I learned that those Clan Hunts I did for an experience boost also give you these things called Centurio Seals, with which you can buy a ton of item level 170 gear. It never even occurred to me to look around for a Seal vendor (I wish they would label NPCs as vendors). I already had a bunch and could buy some new gear right away. Over the course of a handful of days, I picked up the full set of 170 gear, which looks pretty spiffy.
Unfortunately it still left me at item level 168. I only had one of the 170 rings. I ran a few more dungeons and whatnot to put together enough Tomestones of Lore to buy an item level 230 ring and … I’m still one point short at 174.
But I expect with one more piece of 230 jewelry I’ll get to the 175 mark. It won’t take too many dungeons to get another 375 Tomestones. I’ll probably be doing that even as this post is publishing.
As far as the Main Scenario I’ve reached the next gate, which is The Antitower dungeon. It requires item level
175 180 too so I would have had to go through upgrading my gear anyway. Apparently I’m already into the 3.2 story, so it’s going faster than I expected. [Updated with the information I left out when I was writing at work.]
It’s also getting harder to say anything or post any screenshots about the story without a significant chance of spoiling things for people who haven’t yet played Heavensward. I already showed a spoiler in a previous screenshot without even realizing it. But then I noticed that Square Enix themselves put a pretty significant spoiler at the top of their Patch Notes for 3.5, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.
Now that I’m in the “endgame” I’m starting to think a bit more about how to play this crazy Bard. It seems to me that there might be times where it would be more advantageous to switch the new Ballad off, for example if there is a phase where a lot of prolonged dodging is required. Then again, if you know the fights well, you can often dodge without having to interrupt your abilities too much (I’ve learned this from the Demon Tome in Great Gubal Library). And most times when there is prolonged dodging the boss is invulnerable anyway.
I’m sure there are tons of Bard theorycrafting guides out there but I like to think about this stuff myself before I start consulting the wisdom of the Internet.
The New Guy
On a whim I decided to make a brand new character from scratch. With this character I wanted to play a Ninja, one of the two jobs I’ve never seen (the other one being Monk). I suppose I could have done this on my existing character but to be honest I’m sick of having to manage that Armoury.
At first I made a male Au’ru because I thought it had a neat running animation. Unfortunately every time I stopped running I had to look at this pose:
So after about 10 levels I decided to use my Fantasia potion to change into a male Miquot’e. I don’t like the running animation as much but at least he doesn’t stand like he’s about to do ballet. Here is the new guy after finishing Sastasha as a Rogue.
It’s interesting to see the game again from the perspective of a fresh character. It feels like it doesn’t take as long to level as it once did, but maybe that’s my imagination. There are a lot of improvements to the low-level experience that weren’t there before. (Like, for example, you can finally skip that very first cut scene! That alone is a massive improvement.)
P. S. In LotRO news, I finished Volume 1 Books 14 and 15, so I’m finally done with the whole Angmar thing. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a boring slog at times. Someday I’ll get around to writing posts about it.