Feb 162017

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Storm Kings Thunder Console Primer: Module 10 Gear Progression

Get hyped guys, because Storm Kings Thunder (SKT) is right around the corner on consoles! In the good tradition of our site, we want to make sure you are properly prepared for your travel to the north. So pack some warm socks and read our Primer!

Today we are looking at the Module 10 gear progression. 

Beware! Voninblod!

The major part of the new gear progression system is a new resource called Voninblod. It can be farmed from special Relic nodes throughout the three new maps. It’s similar to Black Ice node farming with the exception that Relics are a one-time interaction and don’t deplete after a certain time.

Voninblod is used to empower the new line of PVE gear that comes with Module 10. Each class gets two Frostborn sets that can be acquired in the Trade Bar store and several ZEN purchases. Similar to Dusk it is the a premium set that requires real-money currency, but is available right at the launch. The new Relic endgame BIS set comes from Fangbreaker Island. The one exception are the boots, which need to be farmed from Heroic Encounters in the Bryn Shander zone.

Restoration and Empowerment

Voninblod Empowerment
Voninblod Empowerment

All Module 10 gear sets come in three tiers. On first acquisition the gear is at tier 2, which is item level 135 for Frostborn and 145 for Relic. Spending Voninblod to empower the gear adds five item levels and a corresponding stat boost. The infusion is not permanent though. Similar to Overload Enchantments the gear is on a timer and drops back the next lower tier after two hours of combat time. The item level for the lowest tier, the unempowered state, is 130 for Frostborn and 140 for Relic.

Unfortunately Voninblod is not the only resource you need to get your Relic Armor set. Pieces come in unrestored form and have to undergo relic restoration to be usable. This restoration needs a significant amount of resources, most namely Lanolin, that drop from Heroic Encounters in all three zones. The good old HE train is back guys…

The initial high and continued effort to acquire the gear and keep it empowered makes this a controversial system. The new gear is only an upgrade to its predecessors when empowered, adding a daily Voninblod grind on top of the ones that already exists. 


Difficulties of the system

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Voninblood and the Difficulty of Introducing Refining for Armor Set

In my personal opinion Module 3 ranks as the second worst module to date behind Elemental Evil. So I was actually very disappointed that the devs of all things used Icewind Dale templates to create Storm Kings Thunder. Albeit not the main issue, one thing that negatively stood out was Black Ice Empowerment. The sets primarily never gained much popularity because of their weird mix of PVP and PVE stats and inferior set bonuses. This simply made them ineffective in both game modes. But players also were generally not willing to invest a considerable amount of extra time to grind Black Ice for a tiny boost in stats.


Voninblood is Black Ice v2

Voninblood follow the path of Black Ice and suffers from the same problems. You could even say it fits the game even less than two years ago. The daily routine has blown up considerably with refining, Strongholds and mandatory daily dungeon runs. And the hunt for Relics adds to this because it’s not replacing something else. In Module 3 gaining Black Ice was easier, because there was little else to do anyway. Today grinding Voninblood probably directly competes against other stuff you need or want to do.

Additionally Black Ice and it’s resistance never was really that important. The mobs in Icewind Dale used to hit as hard as those in Bryn Shander, but even early into the module I don’t think you needed the resistance to actually master Kessell’s Retreat. But Fangbreaker Island seems to be a dungeon that cannot be completed without Everfrost resistance, making the sets all but mandatory in the new module.

An additional grind for armor sets

We have joked about Artifact Armor sets in the past, but empowerment is actually not far away from that as a mechanic. Refining at least has a defined endpoint while the new armor sets have to be maintained continuously. It’s safe to say I’m not a fan at all. There’s already enough stuff to do on a daily basis and I’m not eager to add another grind on top of it. Much less because Voninblood has to be gathered separately for each toon.

Storm Kings Thunder is similar to Icewind Dale, and the effects will be as well. I think players will try to avoid using Everfrost sets as much as possible. It’s effectively a waste of time to grind Voninblood for other content. The stats gained from Tier 3 Empowerment are marginal. Plus you don’t need better gear to run T2 dungeons or Castle Never anyway. Wearing them only unnecessarily lets the combat time tick down, which makes it harder to maintain the higher % of Everfrost Resistance for Fangbreaker runs.

Unempowered sets are worse than current ones

It also doesn’t help that the unempowered versions of the new gear don’t beat Dusk or Dragonflight. Frostborn starts at 130, Relic at 140. So you actually need to grind to even get on par to what you already have. It’s insane. That’s why I think players will switch to old/current sets for solo and daily content and only use the Everfrost sets in the new dungeon. It’s especially funny because Asterdahl keeps reiterating on the forums that they do not want players to carry multiple sets with them, yet that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

I severely hope they never make Overload Slots relevant for PVE, because that’s the same annoyance as Empowerment. Nobody needs stuff that ticks down and has to be replaced, at least not in the current state the game is in.

A switcher pretty please?

I think a neat idea to ease the situation is sort of a switcher for empowered sets (and Overload Enchantments). The reason why I’m going to switch between the new and old sets is because I don’t want the combat timer to tick when it’s not needed. A switcher would serve the same purpose. You could deactivate Empowerment and run with the T1 version solo and upgrade to T3 in Fangbreaker Island. The same applies to Overload Slots. I’m mainly not using them because my Demon Slayer drains while fighting dragons. That’s just a waste, so I’m spending my Guild Marks elsewhere.

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