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The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom: Surviving the craftpocalypse

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Economy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Crafting

The Anvil of Crom header - big angry man with a battleaxe
So last week we started talking a bit about Age of Conan's 2012 crafting revamp. I laid out a few things that foul up the current system -- from a tradeskiller's point of view, naturally -- but I didn't quite get around to talking about solutions.

Though that's on the to-do list, I may not get around to it this week either, since a few mails and some forum discussions brought up a couple of interesting tangential points that I hadn't considered.

Surprisingly, I got email from folks who aren't really looking forward to the big tradeskill upheaval that Funcom game director Craig Morrison hinted at in the August development update. Even more mind-boggling was the fact that these folks aren't even crafters.

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The Anvil of Crom: What's wrong with AoC's crafting?

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Economy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Crafting

Anvil of Crom
In the wake of Funcom's glorious announcement that Age of Conan is due for an extreme tradeskill makeover in 2012, I thought it might be fun to brainstorm a few crafting-related design ideas.

To be frank, I think any change will be an improvement, as it's hard to fathom a more boring and ultimately worthless gameplay system than what currently passes for crafting in Hyboria. This is a pretty huge topic, of course, so join me after the cut for the first part of what will likely be an ongoing discussion over the next few months. Before we can talk about solutions, though, we've got to identify what's wrong with AoC's crafting.

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The Anvil of Crom: Playing through Dead Man's Hand

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, The Anvil of Crom, Guides, Dungeons

The Anvil of Crom - Guide to Dead Man's Hand
A few weeks ago I teamed with Funcom to bring you an exclusive preview of the Dead Man's Hand solo instance featured in Age of Conan's new Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack. Over the past couple of days I finally managed to spend a bit of time playing through it, and for the most part it's been a lot of fun.

I say "for the most part" because I did experience a couple of gnat-bite annoyances in terms of acquiring the proper quests and completing a couple of the boss fights. Overall, though, it's definitely an instance worth checking out (though I'm not sure I'll be adding it to my daily rotation like I did with the Breach and Forgotten City dungeons).

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The Anvil of Crom: Evaluating the dev update - crafting edition

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Crafting

Anvil of Crom - banner
Hallelujah, amen, and by frickin' Crom! What's got me all excitable this week? Well, the latest dev update, for starters, and I apologize in advance for reneging on last week's promise to devote today's column to a deeper examination of the new Savage Coast of Turan content. The last time we met, I gave you a quick rundown on the Ardashir Coast, but with all due respect to Funcom's content designers, the most interesting bit of Age of Conan news from the last little while is the crafting revamp that Silirrion hinted at in the August 31st update letter.

But Jef, how interesting could it be if it's taken you over a week to write about it? Well, you got me there, and I could throw in some excuses about needing to get something Turan-related out last week, as well as the fact that I was doing the DragonCon shuffle, but I won't.

Anyhow, holy shitaki mushrooms! Funcom mentioned AoC's tradeskills! Join me after the cut and bring the smelling salts.

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The Anvil of Crom: Savage Coast first impressions

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Age of Conan, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Anvil of Crom header
Oy, the life of a game blogger. Earlier this week I teed off a bit on subscription-based games that tack on a cash shop. The short version of that particular rant is that I'm not a fan of the practice, at all, and as far as my personal gaming time goes, I've bid adieu to all of the double-dippers formerly denting my wallet -- with one exception, of course.

Whether that one exception makes me a hypocrite or is simply part of my job description is something I haven't quite figured out yet. In any event, it's somewhat ironic that I'm now about to tell you what a good time I had after spending 20 bucks in Age of Conan's item store. Yep, there I was, forking over for 2400 Funcom points -- I only needed 2000 for the Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack, of course -- and enjoying it for the most part. Luckily, it only costs 520 Massively points to read my first impressions after the cut.

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The Anvil of Crom: Alternate advancement explained

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Guides

The Anvil of Crom header - Alternate Advancement guide
Welcome back to the Anvil of Crom, Conan fans. I trust you've been gorging yourselves on the movie and all of the new content that the Age of Conan dev team has pushed out the door over the past couple of months.

This week I'm going to step back and take a high-altitude look at one of the game's mechanical aspects, that being the alternate advancement system that shipped with 2010's Rise of the Godslayer expansion. I say high-altitude because many of the AA tricks you'll learn over the course of your AoC career will be class-specific, and though I'll eventually get to those in my series of class guides, today I'll start with an overview of the system as well as a bit of commentary relating to why you should care about it.

For you free-to-play folk, yeah, Funcom did lock your AAs behind the paywall for the time being, and yeah there is quite a difference between a "fresh" level 80 and a level 80 who has had even a little bit of AA training. Join me past the cut to see if upgrading is worth it.

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The Anvil of Crom Extra: An exclusive look at The Isle of the Iron Statues

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - special banner
Hey kids, it's time for another Massively Age of Conan exclusive! A couple of weeks back we took a look at Dead Man's Hand, a level 50-80 solo instance that's part of the new Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack. As you know if you've been reading Massively today, Funcom is getting ready to launch the Savage Coast content on September 8th (or August 31st if you purchase an early access pass).

What you didn't know is the details on the level 80 solo instance that rounds out the content drop, and this extra edition of the Anvil of Crom will give you an inside look at the Isle of the Iron Statues instance from Funcom's perspective. Join me after the cut as we see how the devs drew inspiration from an original Robert E. Howard yarn and married it to some engaging modern-day MMORPG gameplay.

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The Anvil of Crom: Six reasons why

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Anvil of Crom
Normally I avoid top 10 (or top five, or top whatever) lists like the bubonic plague. I've talked before about how they're not my thing, and with the exception of our own Justin Olivetti and his always chuckle-worthy Perfect Ten, I tend to avoid reading them (not to mention writing them)!

This week, though, I'm indulging in The Anvil of Crom's second top-random-number list, and I'm doing it in response to two reader mails that asked me why their respective authors should give Age of Conan a second shot. In short, there's never been a better time to try (or return to) AoC, so join me after the cut for six reasons why.

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The Anvil of Crom: An exclusive preview of Dead Man's Hand

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - Special header
Welcome to a special edition of The Anvil of Crom. It's not often that I give up the captain's chair on this here column (in fact, today is the first time, if you want to get technical about it). In the interests of bringing you fine folk an exclusive Savage Coast of Turan content preview, though, it seemed like the prudent thing to do.

Today's installment will give you a first look at Dead Man's Hand, and no, I'm not talking about the unfortunate Xbox title that I once purchased in the hopes of playing Red Dead Redemption six years prior to Red Dead Redemption. No, this Dead Man's Hand is a new single-player instance in Age of Conan, and it's debuting shortly with all the rest of AoC's movie tie-in adventure pack content.

Head past the cut to join me in discovering what Funcom has to say about its latest dungeon endeavor (and oh yeah, I've got some exclusive screens and concept art for you as well).

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The Anvil of Crom Extra: Silirrion on Turan, open-world PvP, and those pesky Funcom points

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Anvil of Crom - Interview special
It's almost time for another Age of Conan content drop, and that means it's also time to catch up with game director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison to chat about it. This weekend I interviewed the Funcom executive producer about a range of topics, including all that's new and shiny with AoC's forthcoming Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack.

As we told you earlier, the pack features a boatload of new material, from new solo dungeons to a new raid to 50 new quests and a large outdoor playfield. While that's quite a bit of stuff, Funcom isn't done yet, as the devs are also hard at work implementing the bullet points Morrison covered in his latest dev update. Join me after the cut as we explore Turan, combo-skipping fixes, the riskiness of AoC's new open-world PvP content, and the question of whether subscribers are getting a good deal in terms of point rewards.

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The Anvil of Crom: Deconstructing the dev update - PvP Edition

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

It's been quite a while since I devoted an Anvil of Crom entry to deconstructing one of Craig Morrison's monthly Age of Conan development updates, and what better time to resurrect an old tradition than on the heels of one of the lengthier producer letters in recent memory.

The end-of-July document took a decidedly pro-PvP approach, and since I've been spending the majority of my game time on the new Blood and Glory server lately, reading between the lines on the bossman's latest state-of-the-game manifesto seems like the thing to do.

Join me after the cut for a bit of discussion on PvP, the future, and a bunch of interesting bullet points.

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The Anvil of Crom: A look inside the Forgotten City

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

A couple of weeks ago I took you on a tour of the Breach, one of two new instances that debuted with Age of Conan's free-to-play Unchained patch. Today, we'll nose around the second dungeon, an outdoor playfield called the Forgotten City that -- like its predecessor -- has AoC's distinctive far-eastern flavor written all over it.

The two instances are similar in that they both scale to a player's level between 40 and 80, and they're both accessed via the Gateway to Khitai zone that serves as the entry point into AoC's Rise of the Godslayer content. That's about where the similarities end, though, as the dungeons are quite different in terms of visual style and challenge level.

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The Anvil of Crom: Musings on MMO mortality

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Most of you are probably aware that Star Wars Galaxies announced its impending closure recently. As I booted up Age of Conan for my daily faction runs and tossed around some ideas for this week's column, I couldn't help but return to the fact that the MMO space is going to be that much dumber on December 16th.

What does SWG have to do with The Anvil of Crom? Admittedly not much, unless you count the fact that AoC was the first of many games I migrated to when taking extended breaks from SWG beginning in 2008. The game's demise did get me to thinking on MMOs as a whole though, and of course Funcom's fantasy title in particular.

While it may seem like an obvious conclusion in some respects, the fact that MMO players are ultimately no more than renters living on borrowed time was a sobering thought.

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The Anvil of Crom: Once more unto the Breach, dear friends

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Ah yes, where else but Massively can you get a lesson in both Shakespeare and Age of Conan (in the same article, no less)? Nowhere else, I tell you, and before we get to the Conan part, let's get ye olde English out of the way. Many of you have no doubt uttered today's titular phrase on your way into a particularly nasty game dungeon. A few of you may have even uttered it correctly.

Here's your gold star.

The rest of you, pay attention: It's unto the breach. Unto, not into. So said Shakespeare and later Olivier in his 1944 film adaptation of Henry V. And yeah, I used to say it wrong too. Anyway, on to the AoC. The Breach in question is one of two new solo dungeons added with the Unchained update, and thanks to Blood and Glory, this particular dungeon is the only one of the pair that your humble columnist has found time to sample.

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The Anvil of Crom: Blood, glory, and some Deathwish impressions

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

Oy, Funcom, you're absolutely killing me here. Last week I had a column written prior to a guess-what-we're-launching-Unchained-today announcement. This week I was typing away on a review of some of the new instance content that showed up alongside the F2P update when the hey-Blood-and-Glory-launches-tomorrow bomb dropped.

A veritable mad scramble ensued here at The Anvil of Crom offices, and as the piles of wadded up loose-leaf and discarded notes fluttered about, I was left wondering when my previous two pieces were going to see the light of day.

If I sound somewhat perturbed, I'm not really, as this is a fantastic spot for any game columnist -- or Age of Conan fan -- to occupy. There's a lot of new content and not enough time to write about it; really we should all be so lucky. Sooo, that's my lengthy way of saying won't you join me after the cut for some initial impressions of hardcore PvP, AoC-style.

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