Digital Tabletop: A Kobold, A Skeleton And A Pirate Walk Into the Cove

No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. This week I’m taking a look at the currently running Dungeons & Dragons Online event, The Treasure of Crystal Cove. Turbine cooked up this event to help celebrate DDO’s Fifth Anniversary, and I have to say not only has it been amusing, but the rewards for playing through the event have been well worth it, especially to players who like running the higher level and Epic content.

To most people who know me, I’ve been playing DDO for over a year now as a premium player (pay as you go basically). It’s something my wife and I can do together and we have friends in the game and so on. I’ve also been known to groan when there are live events on and curse at the devs under my breath as more unwanted crap gets dumped into my already cramped inventory. Just like me in real life, my toons don’t know when to throw things away. So when Christmas rolls around or the Ice Games pop up I cringe as I’ll be getting tokens and other things I won’t use because if I turn them in I get cookies that take up even more space and are clickies that I have no room for on my bar. That and I’m terrible at the ice jump that gets set up in the harbor.

When Mabar came out I thought it was great we were getting a Halloween event, and going in and fighting the Dragon inside wasn’t too bad, but the loot and the grinding to level up and max out said loot was just beyond ridiculous and most of my toons weren’t going to wear anything from the event anyway, which was kind of sad since Halloween is my favorite time of year.

I was a bit skeptical of the new event as I was expecting a serious grind for items again that I wouldn’t ever use. Imagine my surprise when it turned into less of a grind and ended up being a lot more fun. The event dumps you from Stormreach Harbor into the Crystal Cove, which I’m told used to be part of the hated initial starter area before Korthos came along and took its place as the new hated starter area. The doors to get into the mines to get what you need to upgrade are locked so you have to go around killing the pirates in the Cove to get enough map pieces to open them, basically giving the boat captain an idea of where to go.

The Cove scales to your party, so if you’re capped at 20, expect a tougher fight when the mobs re-pop in your area. The fights aren’t too tough and can move quickly with friends. The better part is the door opening isn’t tied to one instance, but all of them, so it’s far less of a grind to get in than it could have been. To help ease the pain of the map grind, you occasionally get treasure maps from bosses that you can hunt down chests to get some decent loot for your level as well. The real fun with this event, though, is when you get inside.

DDO isn’t big on voice actors. Usually it’s just you and your DM and your friends over TeamSpeak or the in-game audio. Very few quests have any kind of voice acting for NPCs. What they did with the Cove, though, was a stroke of genius and hilarity. You see, in the Cove you’re working for a Kobold Mining Union. Before you enter you’re actually given a rule book listing all the rules to the mining operation and giving an overview of how it all works with a great dose of humor thrown in. One of my favorite entries in the rule book is “Kobolds are not given weapons because of the “Ëœlast time'” and that’s all you get, leaving you to wonder about the last time. Inside the mine, the Kobolds themselves are given voices, with some really funny lines they throw out in different instances. The ringtone on my phone currently has the kobolds yelling “Not in the face! Not in the face!” If you want the audio pack for the Kobolds, just do a search for it on Google. It’s worth a good laugh.

You talk to the Overseer at the start of the mission to supply out your Kobolds, but it costs you in crystals, the gems the Kobolds are collecting. The party has to fight off the undead and the pirates in the mine while using torches to guide the Kobolds to new caches of crystals that spawn randomly each time you enter the mine. You have to yield so many and then the rest is yours. Killing the pirates and undead yield you bonuses to use in the cave but also to buy and upgrade items outside it. The gems you get from killing the critters vary depending on the difficulty you’re doing and what items you can use them on. You won’t be making an Epic item with level 1 loot.

Crystal Cove isn’t just fun with the Kobolds, but they turned something that could have been a boring grind and made it fun. Can you overdose on it? Yeah, sure. It is a bit repetitive even with the humor added, but the items you can make are worth it. The only players I’ve heard complaining about this are the people playing Warforged, and realistically, they don’t get a decent option here, but there is something for every class, besides armor and it’s more the class than the race I’m interested in as the items can be passed to your other characters to use through your shared bank. The really nice bit is here, unlike Mabar, you don’t start with low level gear and have to grind to level it up to make it Epic (level 20) gear. You can just run the event at your level or at Epic level to get the ingredients. Granted if you’re with a terrible party (you can choose your own here as well unlike Mabar) you might have to take longer, but just running the event over a few nights can not only net you every piece of gear available, but some extra wands that could come in handy that anyone can use in other quests.

The Epic gear though is well worth the grind. I’ve got characters now that when they hit level cap will want this in the worst way. My cleric is already making use of the dagger that increases spell power as well as some other goodies like making maximized spells not cost anything extra for a period of time. Then there’s the Vorpal sword that you don’t have to bankrupt yourself to get off the auction house, and so on. Not every item will be worth upgrading to tier 3. Some items are fine as they are at tier 1. The thing is though pretty much everything I’ve made in there will have a use. I can’t say the same for other events items they’ve had.

But I hear you, crying you’re not level 20 yet. Not to worry. They have multiple tiers of the items you can craft, so if you can’t make that epic weapon, make the level 4 or 12 version instead. It might be missing an effect or two, but they are fun items regardless and you could always upgrade them later. I’ve actually considered making a second set at a lower level for some of my lowbies. Coupled with the fantastically amusing Kobold miners, the Epic weapons hit this event out of the park for me and I’ll be sad to see it go. Here’s hoping they bring it around again in a few months like they do with the ice games.

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