Happy First Xursday!

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One of the tidbits of information that we knew going into Destiny 2 was that Mister Shadow Tentacles himself…  Xur the Agent of the Nine would no longer be showing up in a social space.  That meant that we would need to find him somewhere on a planet.  At first I thought this would be somewhat of a scavenger hunt, where we had to scour the planets to find where he was hiding.  However that does not appear to be the case because they put a familiar IX logo on the director map.  This week Xur is located on Nessus in the Watcher’s Grave area, and in this case he is up high in a tree next to a golden vex scannable item.  The other things that we didn’t know were the level of items he would be bringing….  and the cost.  We knew that legendary shards would be the universal currency for lots of different things and now replace the familiar chase item…  Strange Coins.  It appears that everything is 270 and I have verified with a few videos of Xur that regardless of the players power level he seems to be handing out that same static level.  The basic set up is similar to Destiny 1 in that he is bringing a single weapon and a piece of armor for each class.  This week we have…

  • Merciless – Fusion Rifle – 29 Legendary Shards
  • Raiden Flux – Hunter Chest – 23 Legendary Shards
  • Doom Fang Pauldrons – Titan Arms – 23 Legendary Shards
  • Wings of Sacred Dawn – Warlock Chest – 23 Legendary Shards

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If you only have the Legendary Shards to pick up a single item… I would say buy this thing.  I was lucky enough to get it as an Exotic Engram drop while leveling… and this thing is amazing.  It has a weird perk on it that speeds up the recharge rate until you get a kill.  This combined with a perk that increases your damage if you reload after getting that kill..   makes it a machine to melt mobs.  Especially on bosses the fact that it keeps getting faster lets you pour some insane damage into the boss in a very short period of time.  This thing completely decimates the ship that flys in on the Cabal extraction event for example.  This was one of the first legendaries that I infused up, simply because I like using it that much.

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I went ahead and picked these up because I didn’t already have them.  Effectively when you are in your super mode… kills with the shield bash reset the cooldown of your shield throw.  I could definitely see this being useful since in general you only get one throw per sentinel super.  Similarly melee kills help give you super energy… and since I run around punching everything already this should be a good exotic for me.  The only problem is…  I am currently using another exotic just for the light levels so in theory I need to find something to replace it with before I can rock these.

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For the Warlock Xur is selling the Wings of Sacred Dawn, which is one of the fanciest chest slot items I have seen in game so far.  The truth is however that I largely just bought this for the item level to help give my Warlock I am currently leveling a power boost, so I can start double dipping on those sweet sweet powerful engrams.  The perk is Tome of Dawn, which causes you to suspend midair while aiming while you are in your super.  Precision hits extend this effects duration allowing you to stay up in the air frozen longer.  Since I don’t really like Dawnblade as a subclass and went Voidwalker the moment I got it as a drop and have never looked back…  this really is all about the 270 light level for me and nothing else.  If you like Dawnblade your mileage may vary.

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I had to swipe an image of this one online, because I have not even begun to start my Hunter leveling…  since it is probably the class I like the least in Destiny 2.  I went ahead and picked this up however because I had the shards…  and once again it will be a power level boost when I finally get around to leveling and equipping a third class.  The perk on the item is called Synapse Junctions…  which causes quick successive attacks with Arc Staff to increase damage output and the duration of your super.  In truth this is probably a good item for me since I mostly like the Arc Staff super ability.  Again however…  its really about the 270 light.

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One of the slight disappointments comes not from the exotics themselves…  because I really do think that he brought a decent load out of items.  What I am a little disappointed in is the fact that he ONLY brought the exotics.  Previously in Destiny 1 there were a ton of other items that he sold…  most of which are no longer still in the game.  What I would have loved to see him sell in their place however were maybe some really nice gear mods to help those players who have yet to hit that 280 plateau get there.  Additionally I would have loved to see him offer Fireteam Medallions as an alternate way other than Eververse dust currency to get them, since they appear to be the replacement for three of coins.  The best method of getting Exotic engrams appears to be running one of those and chaining heroic events.  Speaking of which… I need to do a lot more of that.  Anyways regardless of anything else… I am just happy to see the Friday tradition of finding Xur continue into this new game.

 

Lobbing SIVA Charges

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Last night did not go entirely as planned, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty amazing night.  The original plan that I had in my head was an attempt at completing the Nightfall bounty on as many characters as I could for shots at the Icebreaker.  However as the day went on that plan slowly morphed into going to my very first Wrath of the Machine raid.  So around 8pm last night we managed to pull together the six players needed for the raid and I shifted into full on learner mode.  Destiny is one of those games where I am constantly amazed at the level of dedication the community has.  A raid in Destiny is this complex sequence of events that have to be completed in a specific way…  and the first time I step into one of the encounters it is full on information overload.  I find it interesting how fast the community as a whole crowd sources the solution to the fights, sharing tidbits of information and ultimately mapping strategies for how to complete them.  I say this because the fights themselves are actually messaged somewhat poorly as to what you should be doing at any given time.  Since I am very much a “learn by doing” player, it means for the first few raids I ultimately feel completely lost.

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What is extremely interesting about Wrath of the Machine versus Kings Fall is that the “roles” are not necessarily fixed.  In Kings Fall you could essentially put your most seasoned player on the job of doing whatever was the most important task on a given fight.  While there was a certain measure of randomness, like who got chosen to run the spark on the invisible platforms…  others like the person getting Golgoroth’s Gaze were very much something you had in your control.  As a result to some extent it was much easier to carry a new player through and allow them to see the fights in motion, before they were ever expected to take up a key roll in the fight.  That is very much NOT the case in Wrath of the Machine given the game shifts the roles around quickly and while you might be dpsing one moment, the next you might be needing to toss SIVA charges at fixed markers.  The hardest of these fights for me to grok was the Aksis encounter where the raid divided up into three sides, and the game randomly empowered three players at a time…  sometimes requiring you to shift around quickly to cover a side if it did not have an empowered player.  The end result is that new players ultimately have to learn quickly because you never know exactly when that key role is going to fall on your shoulders.

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There were several points during the night where I absolutely know I failed at various mechanics, but while moving through the content I started to get a feel for what I was doing wrong and how to correct it.  Now with Kings Fall, most of the encounters were fairly easy…  but it was the jumping sequences that were the bane of my existence.  With Wrath of the Machine, the encounters themselves seem to be the challenge, and while I died a few times during the much shorter jumping sequences they didn’t see anywhere near as nerve wracking as disappearing ships over of a giant open chasm.  Last night was also important because it marked the first time I had really done large group content with Tequila Mockingbird my clan.  It has been over six months since Axioma clan was dissolved in a fit, and [TQMB] was formed out of the ashes.  It definitely feels like we wound up with the absolutely best natured of folks for the reboot.  Within minutes I felt right back at home, which I guess is a strange statement considering I have been proudly sporting the clan tag since the moment the reboot happened.

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So while I had no real intent of raiding last night, I am super happy to have seen the content now and to have gotten some of the really awesome stuff that drops there.  There seems to be a massive problem with duplicates from the SIVA key caches.  On the first boss encounter I got the Ether Nova fusion rifle… and then turned around and got the same thing from the cache.  From the second encounter I managed to pick up Arms, that I am extremely happy about given that they have the crazy heavy ammo trait.  From the third encounter, I picked up an Artifact which is decent but it is really hard to get excited over an artifact when I am apparently now swimming in 400 light ones.  From the final phase of the Aksis encounter I walked away with the Genesis Chain auto rifle, and then spent a key and got an exact duplicate.  Past that I wound up with three exotics from the run:  4th Horseman, Hereafter, and Crest of Alpha Lupi.  The first two turning into shards since I don’t really like either weapon, and the last from an engram serving as infusion fodder for the Twilight Garrison I had yet to upgrade.

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I spent a bit of time after the raid running around in the Plaguelands patrol zone to play with both the Auto Rifle and the Fusion Rifle and I like both.  The Genesis Chain feels really awesome when you get headshots and cause the firefly to proc since it has a unique sound effect that goes with it.  The Fusion Rifle… largely just feels like a competent Fusion Rifle.  I sincerely doubt I will be giving up either The Branded Lord or Saladins Vigil for it, but it is nonetheless a reasonable weapon that is probably going to get ferried off to one of my alts.  I have heard it works really amazingly in Crucible, so I will have to give it a shot there.  It is bizarre how I have gone from being someone that NEVER used Fusion Rifles, to being someone who largely now favors them over Shotguns for close to medium range engagement.  The other really awesome thing that happened is that I am now flagged to do the Outbreak Prime quest, which honestly could be an entire post in itself.  It turns out that Lexy is also stalled on this quest, so that gives us Hunter and Titan… and we just need to find a Warlock to ride along with us since that quest requires you to group up all three classes to progress.  Wondering if maybe some point this weekend we can knock out the required pieces so that by the time the reset rolls around we are working on the final step which is the run the raid again.

 

Clever Dragons

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Iron Banner just concluded yesterday, and I spent a good deal of time playing it this go round.  I’ve never had any luck in trying to get a decent Grasp of Malok, so when the rank five roll of Clever Dragon featured Counter Balance, Perfect Balance and Snapshot…  I knew I was ultimately going to grind until I got there.  With the Rise of Iron it brought a number of changes to “Iron Banana”, namely since Lord Saladin is nor our “faction leader” of a sort…  the reigns of the tournament were passed to Lady Efrideet.  The primary change that happened is the fact that instead of three weekly bounties, and three daily bounties…  we are given four weekly bounties.  Previously you got a crappy blue item at Rank 3 with Iron Banner and an item package at Rank 5.  This time around two of these new bounties reward armor packages, and the other two reward weapons…  and you still get some sort of a big package upon hitting Rank 5.  So the total loot payout of participating in the event is significantly more than it used to be.  That said I find it MUCH harder to get to Rank 5, given that I don’t have something I can be working on every day to give me a much needed boost.  In Iron Banner you only gain ranks if you are winning, and especially trying to queue during the day on Friday… I hit some significant losing streaks.  Now there is a built in system that gives you a sort of consolation prize coin upon a loss… and these stack to five, with a boost to your rank granted when you finally turn around and win.  However there was at least one point on Friday that I lost eight games in a row…  so it just become frustrating as I kept getting thrown up against premades.

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Now the positive of the event is that I got tons of loot, and also managed to complete both the void damage portion of the thorn quest, and the crucible kills portion of my Future War Cult exotic class item quest.  I spent a significant amount of time running around shooting people into the face with the above Shotgun.  I’ve had the Party Crasher +1 for awhile now and I consider it to be as close to a god roll as I will ever likely see with Full Auto, Final Round and Rifled Barrel to help boost the range a bit.  Traditionally I use my Invective when doing crucible, but at the moment I am simply not willing to waste an exotic shard on anything until I get significantly closer to the item cap.  I went on a mission to try and get a decent legendary shotgun during Taken King and in my very first round of attempting to grind the Crucible I managed to pull this guy in the end of match rewards and have been loving it ever since.  I am sure a god roll Matador could pry it from my hands but for the moment I am super happy with it.

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The other weapon that I used a significant amount of the time especially to get those void kills is Saladin’s Vigil.  Now this is something I picked up last Iron Banner from one of the loot bounties, and I felt like I got a completely reasonable roll on it.  I am not even sure what a “god roll” would look like, but mine has Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery, and Performance Bonus….  with that last perk actually extending the usefulness of the weapon as it materializes ammo out of thin air.  With a really low charge rate and almost maxed impact and reasonable range… this is essentially the first fusion rifle that is not Sleeper Simulant that I really find myself enjoying using.  I got many a kill by this one and leading the charge as I expected something to duck around the corner.  Fusion Rifles can be extremely frustrating in the crucible because they are very much a “whelp I’m dead” weapon when you intercept a bolt.

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Lastly the weapon I cannot stop using… literally ever is this Haakon’s Hatchet that was a vendor roll during the Taken King.  I realize that the “doctrine of spamming” archetype is still pretty potent in the meta, but no matter how many versions of that archetype I get… I never can seem to do shit with them.  I currently have a potentially viable Hex Caster ARC and an Unbent Tree… but I cannot ever bring myself to level them and have not deemed them worthy of motes of light.  The weapon I continue to go back to however is this Hatchet with Ranger Finder, Counter Balance and Perfect Balance.  This is as close to my perfect weapon as I will likely ever find, because not only do I love the appearance… but I can also draw a bead on enemy players with in and chew them up.  What I love the most about the weapon is the fact that it is just as viable for me in Crucible situations as it is doing literally anything PVE… namely the Archon’s Forge.  The magazine is big enough that I can often take down an entire wave of mobs in the forge without a reload.

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I’ve tried so many different primary weapons… for example I managed to pull the above Shadow Price that while it does not have the perfect roll has something I can work with.  With Rodeo and Perfect Balance it becomes usable… and while Icarus is generally a worthless perk I can make it work since I jump around a lot.  This gun works well in any PVE situation, but it is completely useless in the Crucible, at least with the roll package that I wound up getting.  I have a copy of The Continental that seems similarly reasonable, but nothing can quite match up to the “perfect for me” stat package of the Hatchet.  I still want to try and find one of the Doctrine archetype weapons with Counterbalance and Perfect Balance to see if it suddenly becomes this magical weapon that folks talk about.  However for the time being I will keep using Hatchet and be happy to have it.  I am hoping however that after all the time I spent trying to get it… that I find that sweet spot with the Clever Dragon and it becomes my new favorite Pulse Rifle.