Fixing The Neverwinter Campaigns: The Curse Of Icewind Dale

The devs are keen on keeping the old content viable and they tweaked old Neverwinter campaigns more than once in the past, but playing my lowbie I realized there are still some annoying inconsistencies that need to be addressed. So let’s look at each of the campaigns and discuss which areas could need a minor improvement.

Dwarven Valley Landscape
It’s so empty here…

Neverwinter’s third campaign “The Curse of Icewind Dale” is one big mess. Modifying it not only means restructuring a large part of the rewards and tasks, but also dealing with one of the major fails this game has to offer: Open World PVP. Theoretically a nice concept, it perfectly lines up with the devs ongoing fight in finding something the PVP community can really thrive in. Gauntlgrym is already history as guild vs. guild battle, NCL, if it is ever coming back anyway, suffers from the flaws of Domination and you can decide yourself whether Strongholds has really had an impact. Vacant open world areas do not only present a wasted opportunity and effort, it also comes with minor issues like not being able to complete the PVP campaign any longer.

The first thing you notice in the campaign is that Caer-Konig Reputation becomes useless as a currency after completion, which is a unique weirdness. Just like Dread Ring the Demon Hunter quest boosts the wrong area. The campaign is already a nice 35-day completion and needs more help to ease the daily grind. You need tons of Gold and Tears later on and the quests in Icewind Dale are some of the more inconvenient ones because of overall mob strength (some mobs still spawn too strong and I doubt they will ever fix this) and map size. The Black Ice Enchantments task is useless and Icewind Dale is the only campaign that let’s you pay for progress and boons. The Slayer Ring of the Xvim is probably of little use to most, but has viability in low level PVP, is a BtA scalable ring that you can use for each and every toon you bring up and can be sold for profit.

Black Ice gear has always been an unsuccessful hybrid of PVP and PVE with few build niches, but completely lost it’s purpose over time and needs a new approach. It’s also relatively hard to acquire for its item level even considering that you can empower it. And why the Black Ice Artifact set is set to 500k Black Ice while other Belts and Necks go for pennies is beyond me.

Last but not least the old HEs don’t offer enough rewards to be completed. Injecting some RPs was a neat idea back then, but the effect has not survived time, partly because they were quick to nerf it.

PVE Fixes:

  • All AD from campaign progression tasks need to go.
  • Strip Reputation and Coin from the Demon Hunter quest, but add one Dwarf Gold and Auril’s Tear.
  • Change the key quest to cost only one Gold and Tear as well.
  • Reduce Black Ice Enchantments to five Gold, five Aurils and 50 Coins, strip AD and let the Pack drop Greater Enchantments.
  • Raise Treasures of Xvim to 20k AD, but let it scale to 70.
  • As soon as the campaign is finished, you no longer get Reputation from the daily quest, but an Elven Finesse Pick Grip with 10 charges that triples the amount of Black Ice gained from nodes if using a common Black Ice Pick.
  • Reduce the Coalesced potions to 200 Black Ice each, extend their duration to one minute with a max boost of 800.
  • Strip Unified Elements from the Black Ice profession tasks and add more zone related resources.
  • Reduce the Black Ice Belt and Neck to 50k Black Ice each.
  • Drastically improve the chances of getting Hammerstone, Elk Tribe and Black Ice gear from all kinds of Heroic Encounters.
  • Triple the amount of raw Black Ice gained from all HEs.

PVP Fixes:

  • Rework the Black Ice sets so that they give a much more significant stat boost while empowered (on par with the current Elemental Lionsmane gear) and add a 2-piece set bonus that adds 4000 Movement. The Empowerment and Bonus only works while being flagged for PVP. The gear also only decays while being flagged.
  • Add a daily that wants players to complete a Domination for Black Ice and a Scrimshaw Token and tweak the weekly to be the sum of Instruments of Vengeance and Runes Among Blood.
  • Strip all Black Ice Nodes from the PVP areas, but double the amount gained from the PVP Motherlode and Domination completion.
  • Add Minor and Basic Stronghold Vouchers to the Domination rewards.
  • Treat the Domination like its 5on5 brother in terms of daily AD rewards, if that’s not already the case (not sure here).
  • Add BoP Basic Stronghold Vouchers to the Scrimshaw Trophy vendor for 30 tokens.
  • Add BoP Black Ice Battle Enchants (Radiant, Dark, Azure and Silvery) to PVP vendors for 7,500 Black Ice and 30 Scrimshaw Trophys. These enchants have the stats of Rank 7s, but scale to Rank 11 if used in any PVP mode.

With these changes you can once again cover a key per day with the daily and HEs. The new Finesse Pick Grip would allow the Hammerstone Runeforge Kit to remain a nice cash shop item, but enable any f2p player to mine as efficient for a limited amount of time per day.

For open world PVP the inclusion of the Domination in the daily and the shift towards more rewards for actually completing it should up the incentive to participate. PVE players might feel the removal of the nodes, but if all works as intended the areas shouldn’t be easily farmable any longer anyway and they are somewhat compensated by the Elven Finesse Pick Grip and much more Black Ice from Heroic Encounters. I particularly think that you want to bring in guilds and one way to do so is hand out Stronghold rewards. Stronghold PVP would remain important as the only source of Banners, but guilds could decide to raid the open world for additional vouchers. You would need to balance it so that it doesn’t become THE way to obtain vouchers, but a viable alternative.

Scrimshaw Token Vendor
I’m so alone…

I’m not sure you absolutely need the rework of the Black Ice gear, but since it’s not used at all currently you can as well attach it closer to the open world and end the experiment of a semi-useful hybrid. It would also enable solo players to compete in the open world at the same item level as guild members, which I personally find quite intriguing. If I’m not mistaken it’s kind of the system WoW uses, which offers PVP gear that scales to a certain item level when used in a battleground. The new Battle Enchants serve the same purpose. In my opinion the entry requirements for competing in PVP are too high and too gear-dependent, which especially prevents new players from really investing into the game mode. There are still plenty of obstacles to overcome to BIS like legendary Artifact Gear, mythic Artifacts and Mounts, so it’s not like player can complain that fresh faces are presented with a cheap shortcut to the highest levels.

One major problem with this whole PVP open world rework is the lag. It’s gotten to a point that you can’t push through with such changes unless you get to the bottom of it. An alternative would be to scratch the Demons from Icewind Dale. It’s not a big loss, because as stated the campaign is already very quick to complete. Unless the devs have other long-term plans with Sharandar, why not move the Demon Hunter quest to a campaign that actually needs a little help?

Another question that needs to be answered is why to boost the open world this way and not the other PVP modes like Domination and Gauntlgrym. Ideally Domination eventually will become the competitive format of Neverwinter and offers the leaderboard as incentive. This is not currently the case, but I think it’s the goal of the devs as well. As frequent reader you might also know that I’m a supporter of enforcing a solo queue on Domination, at least in tournaments, which would work against the Stronghold / Guild theme. Meanwhile Gauntlgrym should not offer additional rewards because I see it as the most casual of all PVP modes without any leaver penalty. That’s why you should not bring in more high-geared players than necessary. With Strongholds as supplier of Banners and the open world for scalable PVP gear and some vouchers, every mode would have a distinct role.

Phew!


In case you’ve missed it, here’s my list of fixes for Fury of the Feywild and Shadowmantle and next time we’ll be dealing with the Tyranny of Dragons and Rise of Tiamat! What do you thing about the PVE and PVP changes? Post it in the comments below or visit the corresponding forum thread!

j0Shi

j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

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