Adventures in Khitai
In the past few weeks my Herald of Xotli, Zelmira, have been adventuring a bit in Khitai. Around the time of the 5th year anniversary she reached level 80. Shortly after that she started to travel a bit in Khitai.
Khitai is part of the Rise of the Godslayer expansion for Age of Conan. With the exception of the Gateway to Khitai zone it is completely focused on gameplay at max level 80. Thus a large portion of the content in the game at level 80 is in these areas. In order to access it the expansion must be bought, plus a subscription is needed as well.
There are four zones available when entering Khitai through the Great Wall, in Gateway To Khitai:
- Northern Grasslands
- Chosain Province
- Kara Korum
As one quickly notices, these have a distinctly far east flavour. The scenery is beautiful and also fits with the setting. There is a main story arc that takes you into Khitai, which starts with King Conan. A number of assassination attempts have been made against Conan, with assassins from Khitai. Conan wants you to go undercover and find out the reason behind all this. As part of this mission one will meet with other agents and also a need to befriend some of the locals in Khitai. This leads into the Khitai factions gameplay.
One major gameplay element that is part of Rise of the Godslayer is the choice of factions in Khitai. There are a number of groups that can be encountered in Khitai, some of them are co-operate, some of them are deadly enemies. Thus if one does something that is in favour of one faction, another one will dislike you even more. It is not possible to be friends with everyone, so one has to make a choice. The factions available to choose from are these below, with the ones being mortal enemies on the same line:
- Hyrkanians and Wolves of the Steppes
- Children of Yag-Kosha and Yellow Priests of Yun
- Brittle Blade and Shadows of Jade
- Last Legion and Scarlet Circle
- Tamarin Tigers and Scholars of Cheng-ho
So there are up to 5 factions one can choose to favour. Four of these choices can be made in the first Khitai zone, Northern Grasslands. The fifth choice, Tamarin Tigers vs Scholars of Cheng-ho, can be made in the Chosain Province zone.
It is not necessary to choose all five factions to support. To progress the main story arc it seems that at least one faction must be chosen and some favour gained with that faction. However, many of the missions provided in the areas are tied into the faction gameplay; by doing them one will gain and loose favour with various factions inevitably. Also some missions will affect your standing with other factions than with the mortal enemy of the mission giver as well. So it is probably a good idea to at least an idea of the factions one may want to support in the future, even if one has not chosen side yet.
So why should one pick either faction? One may pick a faction because it suits the character of your character. The major reason though to pick a faction is equipment. By gaining favour with a faction eventually various options to buy equipment from faction vendors opens up. Different factions have different types of equipment available, so one needs to look at what may be interesting for the class of the character. There are multiple choices here. A good start here is to look into the class forums at the Age of Conan website. Also, the Age of Conan Armory is an excellent spot to get information here.
For my Herald of Xotli I decided after some investigation to favour a few factions:
- Brittle Blade
- Children of Yag-Kosha
- Last Legion
I have still not decided between Tamarin Tigers and Scholars of Cheng-ho. Brittle Blade is my primary choice for getting armor equipment and Hyrkanians have a good sword for heralds, which was my initial goal with them. Later I decided that I was interested in their horses as well. Children of Yag-Kosha and Last Legion has some additional accessories that may be useful.
With each faction one may gain ranks – there are four ranks going from 1 to 4. In order to get anything from the faction vendors one will need to get to rank 1, which opens up a few options. Gaining additional ranks opens up more options. Gaining ranks also opens up for more mission options to gain points as well.
In addition to performing missions, killing a member of a certain faction will also make one lose and gain faction points. The first rank is quite easy to gain with a faction – 50000 points are needed and one gets 5000 points just by joining a faction. The initial faction missions gives a couple of thousand points each also. Killing a faction member seems to increase & decrease faction points with 120. More points are needed for each rank and to get to rank 4 one needs a total of 1000000 faction points. Reading some old posts about the factions it seems that this was much slower/grindy in the early days, but is better nowadays.
It is also possible to gain faction points by trading in Imperial Insignia – each insignia is worth 200 points. These are primarily given as rewards for performing missions, it seems.
Buying faction equipment requires various types of tokens – Marks of Acclaim (MoA) and plain gold seems to be the minimum. MoA is also given as rewards when doing missions. Some equipment also requires other types of tokens, which are acquired through playing in dungeons and raids.
I did not realize this last part immediately, it took a while before I connected the large number of tokens available in the game and what their purpose was. I am still not quite certain about all of them…
For my gameplay sessions I ended up focusing on three factions – Hyrkanians, Brittle Blade and Children of Yag-Kosha. Doing a set of (repeatable) missions plus something in addition to those covered the time I had for a game session that day, pretty much. Of these three the Hyrkanians has been the easiest one, although it was a bit frustrating in the beginning to figure out some things. Most of the missions are about proving oneself to be worthy of joining the clan and be accepted.
As part of than one has to prove ones riding skills, shooting from horseback, withstanding poison from snakes, taming wild horses and hunt for meat. Once you have learned what to do, they are all pretty easy. All these missions are also in the same zone, Northern Grasslands, which makes it even more accessible than some of the other factions. After reaching rank 3 I could gain a bit over 100000 faction points each day by just doing these missions.
For one of the missions a fast horse (or any other fast mount) is required though – the repeatable part of a mission is to ride along a course in the zone within a certain time limit. It is not possible to do this with the mount that is available at level 40, a faster mount is required. The rest of the missions do not have such requirements though.
Currently I have reached rank 4 with the Hyrkanians – enough rank and more than enough MoA to buy the sword. But it also requires a lot of rare trophies, which I do not have – most of the time I have been soloing anmd these come from dungeons and raids. This is fine, I may get these eventually. I did pick a new horse from the Hyrkanians though, they have a number of options available (courtesy of Nohkron in Age of Conan’s old forums (http://forums-eu.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=153692)):
I picked the Sable Shadow-Dasher for my Herald. Getting the Exotic Riding skill + the horse itself cost a fair amount of gold as well, most of what I had at the time (20 gold for the riding skill, 10 gold + 800 MoA for the horse). This is apparently still cheaper than it used to be – old references say that the riding skill used to cost 60 gold, for example.
For the other two factions, Children of Yag-Kosha and Brittle Blade, I have mainly been doing the missions in Northen Grasslands for these as well, but also some in Chosain Provice as well as in Kara Korum. The difficulty for some of them ramps up though after leaving Northern Grasslands, so for these I am currently at rank 2 and not too far away from rank 3. Getting to rank 4 would be quite far away, but then again, I might not have the tokens to buy stuff at rank 4 by the time I get there anyway.
Alternate advancement and enemy difficulty
This leads to the next topic here – enemy difficulty and the alternate advancement system. In terms of defeating enemies, Northern Grasslands is the “easy” zone – most enemies are level 80-81, with some exceptions at 82. In Chosain Province pretty much all enemies are in the 83-84 range it seems. Kara Korum also have some level 85 enemies I believe and I have not been to Paikang yet.
A fresh level 80 will have a bit of a struggle here, since the enemies thus a bit tougher in general than in Hyboria. This is where the alternate advancement system (AA) comes into play. The AA system is a subscription-only system, one can only advance here if one is a subscriber. Until quite recently, almost no gain was made here here prior to reaching level 80, even if the system is available from level 20.
In the AA system one area that is worth investing in is to increase the hit rate of the character. This becomes important, since it will simply be more likely that one will miss or glance a hit on an enemy that is 4-5 levels higher. There are also various types of equipment (including faction equipment) that will increase the hit rate number.
At level 80 the AA xp points seems to be gained at a faster rate. One can also invest points into the AA feature matrix through time training – one point of AA corresponds to 18 hours. For most player I guess most of the advancement here will be made through the time training.
During the recent 5th anniversary for Age of Conan Funcom changed the AA gain a bit before level 80. Now all characters gain an AA point to invest each time they level – provided that one is a subscriber, that is. Thus a character could have gained 80+ points by the time they reached level 80. Prior to this a character may have gained perhaps 4-5 points in total at the time they reached level 80.
Most of the areas to put AA points in are not available prior to level 80 though. The AA matrix contains 3 separate areas – a general one (same for everyone), an archetype one (different for rogue, priest, mage and warrior) and a class one (different for each class). Only the general one is available to invest in before level 80. It is possible to save points though, so one does not have to invest all points prior to level 80. However, the hit ratio is one thing that can be improved in the general section, so that is a good spot to invest some points in.
Overall I am happy with the experience in Khitai so far, although the enemies can be tougher and thus sometimes a bit frustrating at times. But it also a bit of a rush also when you manage to accomplish some of the missions. I like the main story arc so far also and I am eager to follow that through and see where it leads. Some of the initial questions have been answered, but new questions have popped up as a result of that.
The different flavours of the factions are enjoyable also, with some fun faction missions. I will probably slow down a bit on this though – I do have some other characters to play also; after all I am an altoholic.
I have definitely noticed that advancing a bit in the AA department and picking up some new armor has made a difference. The time training with AA also makes it feasible to advance a bit here without a lot of play time for each character – only calendar time. This works for me also. It remains to be seen how much time will go into dungeons and raids.