Voninblood and the Difficulty of Introducing Refining for Armor Sets

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.

Storm Kings Thunder Screenshot

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.


I’m amazed the devs bring back a mechanic that has already failed once. Black Ice Resistance was scratched at one point because it never quite did what they wanted. Maybe the devs think that they now granted Everfrost a more prominent place and made the sets desirable, but that doesn’t mean all other problems with such a mechanic are suddenly solved.

I’m not looking forward to Empowerment, but are you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board.

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.

10 thoughts on “Voninblood and the Difficulty of Introducing Refining for Armor Sets

  • August 12, 2016 at 7:14 am
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    I only play on Xbox, but from outcry of it everywhere, I too, do not look forward to it. Let it die, once again!

    Reply
  • August 12, 2016 at 10:59 am
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    No one much used the Black Ice gear except pvpers in mod 5 so i don’t know that cryptic ever got a good handle on how annoying it was. That being said, every DPS is going to pick this gear up and so the annoyance will be strong quite likely

    Reply
  • August 12, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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    It’s a dang shame really. I was looking forward to mod 10.. but with more and more info coming out.. it looks like a fail. The class balances are gonna affect me.. the new dungeon looks sub-par. and as you mentioned in this post, the new armor looks like a complete joke. I’ve said it before and will say it. It’s situational gear. Enjoy carrying two sets of gear with you now. One set for normal content. 1 set of the new stuff for only doing Fangbreaker. Will is a bunch of shit. You know how much gold people are gonna cycle through transferring enchantments back n forth? no thanks.

    Reply
    • August 23, 2016 at 5:17 am
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      And then u have to buy bags cause your inventory is full……..

      Reply
  • August 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm
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    Yes I think this is a terrible idea, it failed once before and it truly amazes me that the Devs would try to implement Black Ice Armor empowerment 2.0 be it situational or not, it will probably sit in my bank until the occasional run of FBI if I feel like a challenge that day, you would think they would have learned the first time. Not looking forward to the additional grind.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 6:24 am
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    the game must have lost at least 50% of its players on icewind dale release, I know because I lost 90% of my friends that moment and saw the same happening in legit and other communities. another gigantic wave went on module 6. now they release this piece of shit.

    Even if the content is mostly just a rework of old assets and mechanics just to think the amount of work that has been put into making something so stupid and bad saddens me even more… with all the assets they already have they could have made something so much better…hell even this proposed content without all this ridiculous “new black ice” thing would be bearable.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2016 at 8:12 pm
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    During the height of IWD every person in my guild had to carry two sets of gear. It was such a pain in the ass. With all the dev talk about not wanting us to carry two sets it looks like the new mod is exactly doing that. I hated IWD at launch and saw investing in situational gear a total waste. I ended up playing Wildstar for a while and only logging for the most part until the next mod released. I didn’t actually finish the IWD campaign until they killed empowerment and black ice damage. Looks like history will be repeating itself for me, just not with wildstar that game was worth about 30hrs of my time.

    Reply
  • August 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm
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    I’m already carrying two sets around with me.. Old level 60 gear and Elemental Dragonflight mixed with MW gear. I was really looking forward to new content too… I guess I’m just going to play the new areas and not worry about this new gear until it’s replaced *again* in another couple mods. I’m skipping this gear cycle, gladly.

    Reply
  • October 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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    There isn’t even an inventory bag for quest items…

    Reply
  • August 9, 2017 at 11:15 pm
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    It seems obvious that inventory management is geared toward forcing a player to spend cash on bags or hand over loads of AD to the players willing to trade cash for AD. There really is no bone here. Tiny inventory filled up with required drops. Two set gear requirements or face endless hours maintaining relic gear stats to something other than subpar.

    Reply

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