Sky Palace? Yes, Please

Following on the heels of Producer Bruce MaClean’s Summer of SWTOR roadmap, Eric Musco and Jack Wood presented the lastest Old Republic Insider video.

Galactic Strongholds is still a way off, but players subscribed by May 11th will get a Nar Shadaa Sky Palace with five rooms unlocked.

My main toon is a Bounty Hunter, so a Sky Palace high above the seedy world of Nar Shadaa is just perfect him.

The closest thing we have to strongholds right now is ships. I spend a fair bit of time in my ships. They have everything I need to conduct business in a small covenient space, and it’s away from the distraction of other players.

I hope the Sky Palace offers this and much, much more. I’m very much looking forward to this.

I’m also curious to see how strongholds compares to the Garrison feature coming in World of Warcraft’s Warlords of Draenor.

2014 is shaping up to be a great year for player housing in both my favorite MMOs.

Star Wars™: The Old Republic Insider™ Video — May 2014



A New Look

The search for good a looking armor set for my Mercenary continues. You can check out this post for previous iterations of my gear.

My current gear set is the new Interceptor armor. It’s a Cartel Market set, that you can purchase from the GTN for less than 20K credits. Look for the crates that contain multiple items, they usually sell for less than the individual armor pieces.

I’m only using the chest, gloves, belt, legs and boots from the set. The helmet is the Bounty Tracker’s Hat, a rep. reward from the Bounty Contract event. The blasters are also rep. items from that event.

I’m using the White/Red dye module, but I’m going to change it, as it’s a little too bright for my tastes.

Here are all the pieces of my current gear.

The outfit was inspired by a guildmate who posted this picture of her Mercenary on Twitter. Her chestpiece is from the Elite Regulator armor set. It’s tied to the Cartel Market Contraband Resale Corporation reputation which is not easy to obtain. Her belt and blasters are different from what I’m using as well.

I’m pleased with this set for now, but who knows when the winds will shift again.

The Summer of SWTOR 2014

Senior Producer, Bruce Maclean announced BioWare’s plans for the Summer of SWTOR 2014, and it does not look to disappoint.

 Bruce MacLean

Hi again everyone!

I’m here to provide an updated look at the upcoming Summer of SWTOR in light of our recent Galactic Strongholds announcements. The biggest changes to our Summer plans outside of Galactic Strongholds are Game Update 2.8. Here’s a look at the next four months including that update (and not including the May 4th, May 11th, and July 15th rewards deadlines already mentioned in Galactic Strongholds letter):

Game Update 2.8: on June 10th

  • Nar Shaddaa Casino. For the first time, players are invited to the casinos on Nar Shaddaa to try their luck on the slot machines. Credits can be used to purchase tokens, which in turn can be used on slot machines. Lucky winners will receive certificates that can be traded in for unique rewards that will only be distributed during the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event. This event will run from June 10th to August 19th.
  • Double Fleet Requisition, Warzone Comms, and Credits from PvP matches. For three weeks at a time, events will run that yield increased rewards for participating players. Galactic Starfigher will grant players double the Fleet Requisition and double the credit rewards they would normally get. Warzones will similarly give players double the standard Warzone Comms and double the credit rewards. The increased rewards only apply to the rewards on the scorecard at the end of matches, not the rewards you get from daily/weekly missions. The Starfighter event will run from 2.8 – 2.8.1. The Warzone event will be active from 2.8.1 – 2.8.2.
  • Groupfinder Operations Overhaul. Story Mode Operations will be more accessible to endgame players (levels 50 – 55). The Operations section in the GroupFinder window will list available Operations on a pre-determined schedule, rotating in different Operations every few days. Players who meet the level requirement of the Operation will be Bolstered, removing the requirement for endgame gear. Rewards have also been improved, making this a great opportunity for players to earn Ultimate Commendations and experience new content. These operations will also be for 16-man mode to ensure faster queue times (both 8 and 16 man need 2 tanks and that is typically the gating factor). 16-man is also more forgiving to mistakes and should increase the chances of a successful group.
  • Nightmare Mode Dread Palace. Face the ultimate challenge, the Dread Masters in their palace with new Nightmare Mode mechanics and difficulty.
  • Nightmare Dread Fortress update. The NM Fortress difficulty buff will be removed. All of the new NM Fortress mechanics are still in place but it should now be more accessible to larger groups. Fair warning: the unique title for defeating Nightmare Fortress with the buff present will never again be available to those who don’t unlock it prior to this game update.
  • Two New Starfighter Variants will be available to pilots on both sides of the conflict. The Skirmisher Gunship fills a sniper role and brings dogfighting capabilities to the table, while the Assault Bomber is a heavy fighter that focuses on either mines or drones.
  • The usual host of additional features, including some graphics improvements and class balance changes.

Events! We will be running every one* of our major recurring events over the period between 2.8 and 2.9. Events include:

  • Double XP Weekend
  • Gree Event
  • Bounty Contract Week

*Except the Rakghoul Resurgence. Obviously, the Rakghoul plague was completely eliminated the last time, and the galaxy is absolutely safe from another outbreak. Right?

Game Update 2.9 is still on for August 19th with our expanded feature set for Galactic Strongholds Subscriber Early Access. The team is making great progress on Strongholds and we are very excited to share this with you. It’s worth noting that Game Update 2.9 will include the next exciting chapter in the Forged Alliances story arc, and we have a lot of folks working on something very big for later this year that I have yet to give details on.

May the Force be with you,

Bruce Maclean


Here are my thoughts.

Gambling on Nar Shadaa – I love it, I just wish it had been Pazaak and not slots. Oh well, there’s always the Pazaak Cantina.

The Group Finder overhaul is interesting and it sounds like players will be able to run Story Mode Operations without having to grind out gear first. This means newly leveled players can earn comms and jump into higher level gear faster. Works for me.

Nightmare mode Dread Palace will also be made more accessible to players. My guild tends to be a bit more casual. This may be enough to get us into harder content.

Bounty week and the Gree events will be coming back. I’m especially looking forward to Gree event as I’m close to Legend rank, and want that shiny blue hamster ball.

Two patches will be out this Summer, 2.8 and 2.9 along with the much anticipated Galactic Strongholds.  I’m really looking foward to the Nar Shadaa Sky Palace.

Summer is usually a dead time for MMOs, but the Summer of SWTOR is shaping up to be a lot of fun.

Back in the Saddle

I’m slowly working my way back into SWTOR. I like to play both this game and World of Warcraft, but I have a hard time focusing on both of them at the same time.

I have to say it’s rough coming back after a couple of months. I noticed that the 180 mods, enhancements, etc. can now be crafted and sold. This includes the level 180 relics. I’m very tempted to purchase a few items from the GTN. They’re pricey though.

Ten million gets me into great relics, and won’t break my bank, but it will set me back a few credits and the ability to earn that back has diminished as this expansion has wore on.

Given that my guild doesn’t typically run heroic Ops, I’m not too far behind the gear  curve. Full 168s with a smattering of 180s. Set bonuses are still 162 though.

Overall stats aren’t too bad for what I’m running. It also looks like Pyro is the flavor of the Month for Mercs now. I’m going to have to give that a serious look.

It’s good be back, but miles to go…

Welcome Home!

BioWare announced their next free digital expansion, Galatic Strongholds. It introduces two highly requested features in player housing and guild flagships. Lots of details are still pending, but it looks like player housing is more than just a new version of player ships. It’s not likely to be as robust as SWG housing was, but you will be able to decorate and customize your home.

Items for your home can be bought from vendors, earned as rewards, purchased from the Cartel Market, and crafted. That’s right crafted! No information on how the crew skills will factor into all this, but I was excited to read that on the official site.

The guild flagship looks to be a group effort to create, which is awesome because guild don’t get much better than TORWars, so I eagerly work forward to helping with that effort.

One other feature coming with Galactic Strongholds is Legacy Storage. I assume this means storage accessible to all characters on your account. A feature long overdue in any MMO.

Players will be able to acquire multiple houses, and it sounds like homes will be upgradeable by purchasing additional rooms. June 14th is the early access date for subscribers.

This Galactic hero is paid in full and ready to move in.

New Galactic Strongholds Announcement Trailer

Do You Optimize Your Companions?

When I play my Mercenary and Commando I have no issues completing daily quests solo. This includes the GSI group quests, the Oricon daily, preemptive strike, and the Makeb dailies. I tend to use Treek as a healer. For both toons Treek is wearing excess gear that I didn’t need for my main toons. She’s mostly 162 gear level, doesn’t have any augments, and the secondary stats are whatever was on the pieces I gave her.

Like I said, I don’t have any issues soloing my dailies. I often wonder, though, if I should optimize my companions?

What I’m talking about here is augmenting their gear with power augments, and then loading them up with secondary stats optimal for their role. I wonder how much more effective will they be? How much better will my question experience be? Are there other things I might be able to do solo that I’m not even considering?

The prospect of optimizing my companions, even in level 162 gear is expensive and daunting. If I were to be lazy and purchase augments and kits from the GTN I’m looking at spending 1.2 million, and that’s before I pay to put the augments on the gear. Then there’s acquiring the necessary mods and enhancements. Using Mako as an example, I’d have to get a baseline set of gear which costs around 1,120 basic comms with an additional 240 comms needed to buy a few off-pieces for the mods and enhancements. Then there’s the credit cost rip out and replace those mods and enhancements.

Credits aren’t an issue for me right now, so it’s not a question of cost. It’s more a question of return on investment. It’s a lot of bother and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do anything more than I’m currently able to do now.

So I ask, do you optimize your companions, and what does that enable you to do that you would not otherwise be able to do?

May the Force Be With You!

Gear Ratings

“This is madness!” – C3PO

Level 55 gear comes in five flavors now. Each “tier” can be referenced in four to six different ways. Unless you and your compadres are using the same vernacular, an intelligent discussion about gear can quickly devolve into Who’s on First.

Every piece of gear has a rating. The minimum rating at level 55 is 156 and the maximum is 180. Additionally the barrels, hilts, armorings, mods and enhancements have a mod level, with the lowest being 66 and the highest 78. Furthermore each barrel, hilt, armoring, mod and enhancement has a name ending in a number, with the lowest being 28 and the highest 34.

To confuse things even further each set of gear has a name. The lowest gear just has one name, but each successive “tier” has two named types. One name for the gear that does not have a set bonus and the other for the gear that does.

Now depending on who you’re talking with players will reference gear by any and all naming conventions, be it name, the rating, the mod level and even the mod name. They will use the gear names interchangeably as well, and inevitably they will mix and match the tiers, referring to  Arkanian as 72 mod gear.

All of this has the effect of turning the conversation into a pissing contest whereby each participant continually corrects the other, and any reasonable discussion about the gear itself goes out the window.

I’m here to fix that today with a simple chart that lists the  level 55 gear types and their associated set names, gear ratings, mod levels and mod names.

Please note that Black Market, Verpine, Shadowed and Oriconian do not have set bonues whereas the Arkanian, Underworld, Kell Dragon and Dread Forged do.


There you have it. Print it out, post it to your monitor, carry it in your wallet and show it off to your friends. End the madness now!

Cut the Chatter: Pardon the Interruption


Cut the Chatter – bringing you your weekly dose of commentary on the “intelligent” and “insightful” things that your fellow players are talking about in general chat.


Almost every time I quest on Oricon, I see the same discussion happening in chat. At least one person is struggling with the non-heroic quests. A lot of times the responses from other players are not helpful, but on this day folks were spot on with their advice.

The “gold star” mobs are not tank and spanks. They knockback, stun, root, heal and interrupt. It’s not enough to just go in and dps your rear end off. You’ve got to be a little more strategic. Specifically you need to go and interrupt their abilities. Believe it or not, doing this makes these encounters a real joke. I do these on my Mercenary with Treek healing and I have no issues.

I can’t speak for other classes but Mercenaries have full toolbox for dealing with these NPCs.

  • Electro Dart has a one minute cool down and will stun the target for 4 seconds.
  • Disabling Shot has a 12 second cool down and interrupts the target.
  • Jet Boost has a 25 second cool down and will knock the target back and also interrupt them if they are casting.
  • Determination has a 90 second cool down and will free you if you’re stunned or incapacitated.

Defensively I sometimes use Energy Shield and Kolto Overload (only if I’m really in trouble). I also have Unity, which is a legacy ability that provides damage protection. Finally, if I’m really in over my head I’ll pop Heroic Moment. I usually only need that if I’m soloning the heroic quest Preemptive Strike, which, with a little work, is soloable.

And that’s that. Remember to Interrupt and you’ll be fine.

Monday Musings: DigDug


This weekend I decided to go back and dig up my Star Forager and Dreadseed armor sets. I started on Friday and by Sunday evening I had all the pieces of both sets, except the bracers, and enough speeder parts to build a small fleet of vehicles. Here are my thoughts on dig sites and seeker droids.

  • Anyone here familiar with fishing in WoW? Dig Sites are the Old Republic’s version of fishing, only you get better stuff.
  • Dig Sites have changed since RotHC was released. They’ve actually been improved.
  • One of the changes is that you dig up less stuff, but it’s easier to find Star Forager and Dreadseed armor, and speeder parts now.
  • Despite the improvements you still want to stab your eyes out with sharp letter opener.
  • You no longer dig up vendor trash, so don’t expect to make a lot of credits digging.
  • Even though you dig up less stuff, you still dig up enough stuff to wreck your inventory.
  • I’ve dug up 24 Star Forager and Dreadseed armor pieces.
  • I still don’t have bracers for either set.
  • I’ve dug up even more speeder parts, but still don’t have all the pieces for a pleasure speeder.
  • The Pleasure Speeder parts seem to only come from the “special treasure” in a dig site.
  • Although the Pleasure speeder parts are “special treasure”, they don’t feel all that special.
  • Finding the “special treasure” kills the dig site, and if you’re there primarily to find armor you can’t do that if the dig site is closed. duh!
  • Artifact gear feels even less special than Pleasure Speeder parts, and finding that will kill also kill a dig site.
  • Armor pieces are not “special”, they “interesting”.
  • Finding interesting items does not kill a dig site, although the “special treasures” that do will be announced as interesting.
  • This leads you to hold your breath every time you find something interesting in hopes that it is not an item that will deplete a dig site.
  • You can also dig up Basic comms, GSI reputation tokens, and angry creatures.
  • There is an achievement for killing excavated creatures. There is nothing for digging up that other junk.
  • Not deemed as “special” or “interesting” are the seeker deployment boosts.
  • Although the game treats them as meh, you should treat them as awesome!
  • These really are the unsung special treasures of digging.
  • The deployment boosts make your seeker droid an instant cast. That’s right, instant cast.
  • They come in major and minor varieties. Major last for three hours and minor for one hour.
  • You should jump for joy every time you unearth one.
  • In addition to deployment boosts, you absolutely need the Mark II triangulation device.
  • Seriously, the Mark II device makes it easier to find stuff.
  • Don’t think so? Try digging with no device, and then try digging with a crappy Mark I. Trust me, you’ll notice a difference.
  • If your post scan results become eratic, check to see if your Mark II buff hasn’t fallen off. It lasts for 30 minutes.
  • Speeder parts can be sold on the GTN. Including the one that drops from Toborro’s Courtyard.
  • The part from TC is sells for the least of any of the speeder parts.
  • Unless people buy the Pleasure Speeder parts, don’t expect to get rich from selling them.
  • In fact, don’t expect to get rich from digging. It’s not real archeology, these are not priceless artifcats, and you’re not Indiana Jones.
  • The Star Forager armor does make you look a little like a space version of Indiana Jones though.
  • Dun-da-Dun-tah!

Digital Expansion: Galactic Starfighters Coming Soon

Remember the super secret space project that BioWare has been talking about for nearly two year now? It’s coming later this year.

BioWare announced the release of it’s next digital expansion, Galactic Starfighters. It’s space PvP and it’s free.

If you’ve read my stuff or listened to me over the years then you know that I’m not a big fan of PvP in MMOs. It’s just not my thing, but space combat is different, and I anticipate spending a lot of time battling foes in space. That said, I’d love to see them implement a PvE version of free flight space as well.

Here are some of the key features of the expansion,

  • 12v12 free flight space combat – Jump into fierce PvP space battles with your friends and Companions.
  • Multiple battle zones and gameplay modes – Travel to multiple space locations and fight through exciting battles with different gameplay modes.
  • Customize your starfighter – Choose from a variety of unique ships and unlock an abundant set of new weapons, powers and abilities as you advance.
  • Master a variety of ship roles – From a Scout to a Gunship, master various ship roles that suit your combat style.
  • Earn ground game rewards – Gain additional XP that gives your ground game characters a boost.

BioWare is also planning early access and giving away some rewards for subscribers, preferred, and free-to-play players.


You can check out all of the official information here, and be sure to check out the teaser trailer as well.

May the Force Be With You! Red Five Standing By!

A blog dedicated to Star Wars and Star Wars the Old Republic MMO