Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: The Amber Ring by A.L. Walton

If you have been following my journey through the lower echelon of the Kindle store, the review today is for the best book I've read so far . . . and it's free!  Here is my review of The Amber Ring by A.L. Walton:

What I Thought
Once I had adjusted to the setting (modern day when, for some reason I had assumed it was medieval-ish), I thoroughly enjoyed this novella.  It tells the story of Maya, a girl whose twin sister was the hero of a fairy tale land, but, after her adventure was over, accidentally drowned.  I really don't want to discuss more of the plot so as to not give away any of the twists and turns the story takes, but suffice it to say, many of them took me off guard (in a good way).

The book is well written and the characters, especially Maya and Camden, are well fleshed out.  The supporting cast is a mix of tropes and subverted tropes that are used to great affect in creating a vibrant world for the main characters to navigate.  Most importantly of all, the fantasy elements are constructed in a way that makes sense.  I didn't once find myself thinking "wait, if that could happen, why couldn't this happen?"  It's fantastical, but it follows its own logic and the fewer questions I have that distract from the narrative the better.

Should You Buy It?
Buy this book.  It's free, it's relatively short (though not too short as to be unsatisfying), and it's a good read.  The only complaint I have is that the author hasn't written any other books yet.  When he does, I'll read them.

If anyone follows my advice and ends up reading this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.  Post them in the comments or hit me up on twitter @LukeAndreen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: The Unwilling Adventurer by Heidi Willard

Another book review today!  This is the first book of the Unwilling series which consists of three books.  This first book was listed at $0.00, the next were $2.99 each.  Without further ado, here is my review of book #1, The Unwilling Adventurer by Heidi Willard.

What I Thought
This is the story of a wizard (called a "castor"), a young warrior teen girl and a farm boy who go off on an adventure together.  There were grammatical errors that I noticed right off the bat which, while it doesn't necessarily mean the story won't be a good one, does make it a bit tougher to read.  Another thing that sort of bumped me early on was that two of the main characters had very similar names (Fred and Ned).  This isn't a big deal in and of itself, but it does diminish a joke early on that would have been funnier had there been a greater disparity between the two.  The story itself is relatively solid.  The fantasy creatures are not typical fare which is refreshing, though in one or two cases this may have been the author just renaming something that already exists the way she called magic users "castors" and then describes a stereotypical wizard.  This can be distracting in the fantasy genre and, while this book certainly isn't the worst offender, it is mostly unnecessary.  Either invent your own creature (which she does, as I mentioned) or make use of the shorthand that exists.

The main characters themselves, especially Pat, the teenage girl knight, were a little off putting.  I single out Pat because her personality became grating.  A cantankerous character is fine, but there are many points in the story where it seemed her character was going to take a turn for the positive, but went right back to being mean for no real reason.  Also, the character of Ned is overly described as mischievous, many times when a joke would have worked better if played straight.  Ned was almost too silly a character for the role he needed to play in the story.

There were many elements to the story that were well thought out.  I liked the idea of Fred's staff, the assassin character has a lot of promise and the uncomfortable chair was an unusual (in a good way) turn on the "hero selected by magical object" trope.  The book moved at a good pace and set up many things that, presumably, will pay off in subsequent books.  I saw some other reviewers complaining that the book ends on a cliff hanger, but I didn't feel it was cliff hanger as much as a natural break in the narrative.

The final thing that bugged me was some repetition I noticed.  Again, nothing too terrible, but it did distract from the story.  There was one chapter where two characters were referred to by the term "old friends" in what felt like every other paragraph.  Also, one character places his hand on a awful lot of shoulders.

Should You Read It?
There's a good story here, but there were quite a few things that hindered my enjoyment of it, the most of which was the unpleasantness of Pat which went on for far too long.  The book was about what I expected with a few surprises and a few disappointments, working out to about even as to whether or not I would recommend it.   If you are a fantasy fan and are looking for an interesting story that pokes and prods at genre conventions, this one will do.  If you don't like fantasy, this probably won't convert you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: Transcripts From the Other Side by David Kutai Weiss

Here is another book I read this week.  The Amazon description was what got me.  It sounded interesting and the book was free, so I bit the hook.

What I Thought
Transcripts From the Other Side by David Kutai Weiss is a very short story (I think I read the whole thing in about 20-30min) and is the first part of a planned trilogy (only the second has been published as I write this).  It chronicles the journey of Bill who has just died and now will finally find out what awaits him in the after life.  There are a few clever things in the story, but this feels more like a draft than a finished work.  Aside from some grammar issues, the pace of the story is almost too quick.  Every interaction that Bill has as he discovers more and more about the after life is just too short to be satisfying.  Also, some of the ideas are just plain silly and (minor spoiler ahead) is anyone else tired of being told that dogs are really the most important species on earth?  That joke wasn't funny to me the first time I heard it.

Should You Read It?
Well, it's free, so it has that going for it. It's also short so if you don't like it, you don't have to dislike it for long.  I wouldn't say that reading it was a waste of time, but I don't think I'll read the next book.  This has potential as an outline for a longer, better paced story.  As is, you could do worse but there are better books in the free category.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Lord's Handbook by Paul Dale (UPDATE)

As I ramp up to releasing my first novel, I thought it would be a good idea to see what else was out there in the fantasy genre.  In part, this was to size up the competition, but also, to gain inspiration or, in some cases, to get ideas about what NOT to do.  As I do this, I will leave short reviews here of the different books I come across.  These will all be ebooks from Amazon, mostly free, though today's entry set me back a whopping $2.99 (likely the price of my own book when it releases).

Without further ado, here is my review of The Dark Lord's Handbook by Paul Dale.

What I Thought

After I got through my initial disappointment of this not actually being the handbook itself but rather a story about someone else reading the handbook, I was along for the ride. It tells the tale of a fledgling dark lord, Morden, who receives the titular handbook and uses its lessons to Rise and begin to take over the world.
This is a clever premise and the author turns many common fantasy tropes on their heads, which I appreciate, telling a fairly compelling story along the way. I liked (or at least was interested in) almost all of the characters and was surprised by a few twists the story took. In fact, for most of my reading session, I wasn't sure exactly where everything was headed, which for the fantasy genre, is always a good thing.
There were a few grammatical quibbles that another pass by an editor could fix, but nothing that detracted too much from the experience. The main problem I had was with a few of the jokes that fell flat for me. One that stands out in particular is (minor spoiler ahead) when the orcs sack a town, they hang the guards up by their underwear, using a technique that the orcs referred to as "the wedgie". I know this is supposed to be comedic, but the best comedy in the book is the jokes that arise from the situation, not anachronistic humor. There are a few other examples throughout (the subject of "lawyers" was a bit nonsensical to me as well) and in some places, the book delves into other subjects (mortgage backed securities) that don't really mesh well with the setting (I had braced myself for a tirade about sub-prime lending that, thankfully, never appeared). It could have worked if the author was a bit sneakier about it, but it felt heavy handed to me, along with some of the other talk about the middle class. That being said, I still was able to read through the book quickly and was anxious to find out what happened to the main characters.
Should You Read It?
Do you have $3?  Do you want to read an enjoyable fantasy novel?  This one will fit the bill.  The negatives I listed are far outweighed by the positives.  I would recommend it if you are at all intrigued by the premise.  As of this writing, this is the author's only novel.  I hope it isn't his last.  I'd like to hear what happens next to all these characters.

(UPDATE 7/21)
The box art has been substantially improved.  You can't judge a book by it's cover, but, if you could, this would add another half star!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Padres PA Audition

The audio quality is bad, but here I am auditioning over the PA at Petco Park

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pirate101: Thoughts on Isle of Dogs, Marleybone

I have completed what I perceive to be most of the Isle of Dogs content.  I just finished destroying the Beachhead last night and am now being sent to the Isle of Fetch.  This post will contain spoilers for the content I've completed, obviously, so if that matters to you, don't read it!

I was still upset about the slog of the Tea house instance when I arrived at Marleybone.  I immediately preferred this version to the Wizard101 Marleybone: the city felt more alive and rich in detail (as most things in Pirate101 do when compared to W101).  Sailing into port will always feel superior to just stepping through a portal.  You get a much better feel for the world you are entering allowing for a greater sense of awe.

One of my fears when I finally got to MB was that all the dungeons would be of the 2.5 hour length variety, a bad fit for my playing time which tends to be erratic at best.  Fortunately, I haven't yet run into a dungeon that was marked at over an hour.  To me, the hour long dungeon is the longest I really want to spend there.

So far, the new content has done a very good job of making sure that all of the boss/mini-boss fights feel different and there is a great deal of variety to both the environments you find yourself in and the tactics you need to use to succeed.  This is how combat should be and the fights have a greater difficulty because of it.  Doing the same thing you do every time won't always work and many of the bosses have abilities never seen before that effect the board in unique ways.  For example, the fight with Bishop was the first time I'd really seen Witchhunter work.  Quite unfortunate for my Witchdoctor.

The Beachhead itself in how larger set pieces in the story should be addressed.  I wonder if at some point the developers had imagined the entire place as one long instance (would have been around 3 hours, if so).  Wisely, they broke it into 4 different instances you do insequence: three 30 min's and one hour long.  It felt right.

I like the new crew member Gracie Conrad.  Pirate101 is a little shy on female companions and she's a good one: smart, capable, driven, patriotic, self-sacrificing . . . and she doesn't have the annoyingly high pitched voice I had expected based on her character design (she looks like a yappy little dog to me).

Lastly, the story is great so far.  I like the character of Bishop, one of the clockwork elite, and was surprised in took this long for us to see one of the clockworks in a creepy black plague mask.  They seem like a natural fit, given the design of the Armada.  Also, Catbeard was one of my favorite characters from the first 12 books and I'm glad to see him reappear in the story.  I actually laughed out loud (something I rarely do when playing) when I saw in what state Catbeard's imprisonment had left him.

All around, it's been a good time (with the exception of one issue, which I'll discuss in another post) and I look forward to seeing what the Isle of Fetch has in store for me.  The stakes have been set pretty high!  I hope hope Dark Tatiana is up to the task!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pirate101: First day in the new expansion

I started out my play session by following my own advice as seen in today's episode of Talkin' the Plank: Start with the Bazaar, then update your crew, then off on adventure!

Step one at the Bazaar was to finish selling anything that wasn't tied down.  I noticed that already since earlier that same day, the price demanded for ship equipment had drastically reduced, likely due to everyone using the Bazaar all day to sell their surplus.  Makes sense but was kind of a bummer.  Still, I was able to get a few really good pieces for my Marleybone heavy galleon (which was switched to level 54 as the notes suggested).  Then, much to my joy and surprise, I was able to get a new weapon for my Witchdoctor: shooty/staffy! It looks pretty sweet.  The wand is a triceratops skull and the gun is a three-barreled pistol.  I got that one, not because I wanted to spend all of my training points as musketeer, but just because I liked the look of it.

As a side note, I'm very anxious to see what the lvl 65 Witchdoctor talent looks like.  From the tool tip, it looks like you summon three undead minions at once.  Will they all occupy one tile?  Will they summon to separate tiles?  Time will tell!  Additionally, I tried out the new Ocuboros spell and it seemed to be much stronger than before, so I'll work it into my regular rotation.

Once I had finished with the Bazaar, I checked out my crew to see what improvements I could make.  Firstly, it seems I was mistaken about one of the changes: I thought that there would be no set Epics, when what they said was no set talents.  That being the case, I go to add all the talents to all of my crew members that had changed.  It took a little while but wasn't a biggie.

After that I was ready to go to Marleybone . . . oh, wait, the quest says to go to Port Regal.  Okay, I'll confirm that Catbeard isn't on his ship.  It was at this point I got a cry for help from someone on my friends list who was desperately trying to finish up MooShu and needed some help with a little Nautical combat.  My fully upgraded ship rushed to assist.  After downing a few ships (while becoming more and more annoyed by how long it was taking), I was back on my way again.  This was my only experience with the new speed of ship combat last night, but it didn't feel that much faster.  Logically, I could see that it was, but it felt about the same.  I'll have to test this further in Marleybone when I get there.

So I went through the Port Regal quests, laughed at Captain Kid being a goat (it's so obvious, but still funny), and was on the cusp of storming the dungeon for the new windstone to get to Marleybone when I had to stop, edit the podcast and go to bed.  I hope you all enjoy the show, by the way, but last night I really wished I didn't have to make it!

Ah well, there's always tonight.  Happy new content to all and I'll see you in game this evening when I try once again to get to Marleybone!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pirate101: New Content is Up!

With last night's maintenance, the new content has been released!  I played right up until the servers went down (1 AM my time) trying to finish my Nautical XP goals . . . and did, more or less.  Thankfully, when I started fighting the Jade ships, I was quickly joined by 3 other Marleybone Heavy Galleons, presumably trying to get those last few Nautical levels before diving into the new content.  Since I have to sleep sometime (and work the rest of the time) I wasn't able to check much out this morning when I logged in.  Basically, I was able to get the new quest from Avery, the checked out the Bazaar on my way to the docks to see what that's like.

The Bazaar is a welcome addition to the game, for sure.  This is one that affects all players whether you're on your way to Marleybone or are a fresh faced person o' fortune just walking out of Avery's office, blinking in the bright Skull Island sun.  The Bazaar essentially solves one of the biggest issues many folks had with the early game: not enough gold.  Now, you can get roughly twice what the vendors will pay for any given item.  Since the fastest way to grind gold is ship battles and the equipment that will be the most sought after is ship equipment, I imagine that portion of the Bazaar will be the busiest and the most lucrative/helpful.  I was able to sell most of the extra ship equipment I had on had for roughly 2-3 times what a vendor would have paid for it, so I was getting 1,700-2,500g per piece as opposed to 500-900g: a significant increase.

That was all I had time for, but I'll start updating my blog again now that there is something to talk about!  Stay tuned!

Also, be sure to check out the discussion that Brandon and I will have about the new content on Talkin' the Plank.  The new episode will post tomorrow at and also

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pirate101: Test Realm Notes Highlights and thoughts

I'll go over all of this with Brandon in this weeks episode of Talkin' the Plank, but here are some of my initial thoughts about all the exciting new changes coming up with the next major patch.  Abbreviated notes in white, my thoughts in blue:

Level 65, new area starts when you finish Mooshu Glad I encouraged folks to finish Mooshu in a previous episode. I'll have to get my WD to 50 and complete all the quests if I want to use her. I imagine that this will go live in less than a week!
Bazaar! Same as Wizard, all realms, located on Skull Island, NPC Harvey Deuce Many players have been waiting patiently for a bazaar to be added to the game and here it is. Items will be more readily availabe and everyone will be slightly wealthier. No downside to this!
Changes made to staring experience including new enemies and quests, initial battles with Troggies are single player only A beefed up, more forgiving starting area can only be a good thing. The more people who play the game, the more resources KI can afford to put back into the game!
Rental Mounts Added I never used them in Wizard and didn't miss them in Pirate, so no thoughts on this, really.
Turret Bosses added to Skyways, can attack up to 4 ships at a time This sounds pretty awesome. Having a large battle and something more exciting for NXP parties is a great idea.
Transportalators transport you for a fee (gold for members, crowns for non-members, transportation to Skull Island is always free) if you have already entered that world on a ship. Woohoo! Finally a quick transport.  One more reason to subscribe!
2nd chance chests added (for crowns) I never really used these in Wizard, but then again, I never farmed for gear in either game (it didn't really feel necessary in Pirate and I didn't get far enough in Wizard).  Still, for those trying to get a specific piece that have crowns to burn, this can only be positive.
Combat Changes:
Once a battle board has been filled by four players, no additional “different” players may join the combat if one of the original four players flees.
(Multiplayer only) If a player doesn’t issue any orders for a planning phase, in the next planning phase they will be presented with a dialog that says “Are you still playing?” If “Yes” isn't clicked within 10 seconds, then the absent player is forced to Flee. Good.  As it should be.
Combat tougher after lvl 25 How tough? I won't know if this is positive or not until I've tried it.
New promotions for Bonnie Anne, Ratbeard and the Mag 7 Good.  Expected, of course, but good.
Companions who share the same class as your PC gain extra xp from Training tomes This makes a lot of sense from a game world perspective
We have reduced the variation in companion quality in an effort to make all companions more worthwhile. Companions who were previously "third string" have been boosted up to "second-string" status. They will have more non-epic talent slots to purchase simple upgrades like Accuracy, Armor, etc. Thank you, KI. I was always bummed out that certain companions were essentially albatrosses (not animorph sea birds but dead weight) even though I really wanted to revel in the variety having so many could bring.  I'd much rather adjust my strategy to figure out which way to use my useful crew than trying to make up the slack if a useless one shows up.  This also makes buying training tomes feel like much less of a burden.
No more fixed talent slots for companions. The more I think about this, the less I like it.  Having a fixed slot would sometimes force me to learn an ability I wouldn't have otherwise picked, which in turn introduced me to the joys of flanking.
Ship Combat:
20% reduction in cd for ship powers Boom. Awesome.
Nautical XP increased by 25% Double boom.
Players onboard your ship earn NXP at 50% of the captain’s rate but only from mobs less than 10 levels higher than the players nautical level Boom?  I dunno, I never had anyone on deck for more than a few minutes.  This is good in that it could encourage that underused game play and could give characters a boost that were having trouble with their NXP gain.
Fuel efficiency increased x2 Never really used this, but maybe they'll give us a reason to in the new content?
Many high level ships will target multiple enemies Player ships or enemy ships?  Hmmmm . . . .
Quest Changes
Quest Sharing added for some book 1 side quests
Quests will sort themselves by Mainline, Trainer, Promotions & Sideline Finally.  This should have always been there, but I'm glad they added it.
Go Go Stormzilla: certain companion powers will be available during the fight, added life fountain near the entrance, adjusted stats and health of Stupendor-x and stormzilla Being able to use crew powers as well as having a life fountain right outside will greatly reduce the frustration of this encounter.  Well done.
Crown Shop:
Housing space increase available, Aquilan Pegasus mount eh.  I like mounts but I don't really get too excited about player housing.  Not until there's something to do there besides decorate.
General & UI:
More secret chests added Yarrrr!
Experience bars now hide a level cap Might reduce confusion for those not familiar with the concept of a level cap.
Badges listed in Alphabetical order Good.

Well, there you have it.  More news and thoughts as more is revealed!

Pirate101: Test Realm Notes

Here they are, with thoughts in another post after I have digested the notes!

Introducing Marleybone and Aquila

Yarr! Adventures await ye in the highly anticipated release of Books 13 and 14 in Pirate101! With the introduction of both the war-torn skyway of Marleybone and the legendary beauty and danger found throughout Aquila, high-level pirates will now continue their rebel journey against the evil Armada! All characters who have finished the quest "The Great and Powerful Turtle" in MooShu must now visit Avery in his office to continue their adventures with the quest "That Darn Cat" (You'll know you have completed this if you own the "Enlightened One" Badge in your list of badges).

We hope you’re impressed as the amount of content being released is almost double what would normally be released in an expansion, and as such, players will now be able to level their characters from 50 to 65 (both regular and nautical level)! 

With new levels comes increased power for players: Remember to visit your trainers often, since beginning at level 52 and every 2 to 3 levels afterwards, you’ll unlock new talents or powers for your character. Speaking of power, tons of new weapons and gear await you in both worlds, and even the mini-games will return better rewards for higher level players. There’s new ship equipment waiting for you as well—TIME TO SUMMON THE KRAKEN! Worried about the cost of these new power ups? Don’t be! Your available gold cap has been increased to 200,000 gold.

New Companions abound--additional companions await your discovery, Pirates, and many of your old companions will discover new powers and tiers of promotion available to them.

You’ll need the additional power since your journey won’t be without danger—with greater reward comes greater challenges! Prepare yourself to battle with and against a host of new faces: Kurghas, Grenadiers, Anarchists, War Golems, Vultures, Manticores, Ophidians, Eagle Centurions, Ettins, Trolls, Sirens, Minotaurs, Krakens, Crokagators, and Gorgons await you!

The fun definitely doesn’t stop there as a lot of effort has been done to bring our players everything from new ambient creatures, NPCs performing daily activities in several towns and battle props to additional treasure chests and training tomes in hidden locations. And if that isn’t enough, Zeke is back with new exploration quests! 

We’re excited to invite you to Marleybone and Aquila, and hope you enjoy this new journey as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it for you.

NOTE: Because of the amount of changes and new content, the download for this update is larger than usual. Please be patient and allow the game to load—it’ll be worth it!

Time to Shop with the new Bazaar!

A new Bazaar has opened shop on Skull Island, and it’ll give pirates access to tons of items found by other pirates.
Be sure to visit Harvey Deuce in the building directly to the right as you exit Avery's Court (on the same side and
right before Kraken Skulls Tavern).

Sell your extra items to Harvey, and he’ll pay you the value in gold for your items based on supply and
demand. If Harvey already has lots of the item you are selling, he pays you less gold for yours. If he’s
low or out of stock of an item you are selling, he’ll pay you more! No matter what, Harvey always offers
 a better price than other shopkeepers. While Harvey is good at what he does, there are some unique and
rare items that Harvey just simply can’t purchase, and those items are marked “No Auction” in the item’s
Buying items is easy too! The more of an item Harvey has, the cheaper it will be, and the fewer of an item
he has, the more expensive it will be. If you see an item you like, buy it, it may not be there next time you visit.

All prices are based on Harvey’s current haul of treasure, so shop often to find the best price, Pirates! And
don't worry, if someone sells an item on the Boochbeard Realm, and you're on the One-Eyed Jack Realm,
you'll see it in Harvey’s inventory.

New Tutorial and Early Game Changes

We’ve created a new tutorial that’s tons more exciting! There will be more interesting enemies to confront, more visually impressive effects and critical moves, a more cinematic approach, and a quick peek at broadside combat. We’ve also made it so you can skip past that initial “Somewhere in the Spiral” text if you’d like, but definitely don’t skip the new tutorial if you haven’t seen it before. Make a new character today!

In addition to the new tutorial change, we’ve made several other changes to the early part of the game that players are sure to enjoy:

The following early side quests can be more easily obtained and completed in the Free-to-play areas of Skull Island:

  • Dagger Overboard!
  • Motl's Home Brews
  • A Priceless Antique
  • A Flask of Pure Gold
  • A Dash of Bitters
  • Up For Crabs
  • Jacques of Diamonds
  • Message in a Bottle
  • A new vendor has come to Skull Island--introducing "Don Ready," who sells the following One-Day Rental Mounts to players: Lonely Buffaloon, Flying Manta Ray, Lurching Lobster, and Prancing Pony.
  • Rocks and barrels in the first areas of Skull Island are now untargetable.
  • The Temple of Gloom now has some new interesting enemies to battle.
  • All initial battles with Troggies are now single player only.
  • The Troggy Artillery quest is now a bit easier so there is less back and forth to Lt. Smollet.
  • Added more yum fruit to the new player areas.

Turret Bosses!

We've noticed our players enjoy grouping up to fight ships together, so we've added three new turret bosses to the game that are meant to be a multiplayer experience out in the Skyways.

Turrets are towers in the skyway that attack up to 4 ships at a time and have a large amount of health. Be on the prowl for the turret bosses in Cool Ranch, Mooshu, and Marleybone—your Nautical XP Parties will definitely be more exciting!


Transportalors are a new method of traveling between the worlds of The Spiral in Pirate101. You’ll find an operator in each world. For a fee (gold for members and Crowns for others), they’re willing to send you to another portal as long as you’ve already entered that world on a ship:
  • Skull Island, Skull Island: Brataq Bey (Note: Transportation to Skull Island is free)
  • Monquista, St. Bonobo's Abbey: Drayauq Bey
  • Valencia, Sivella: Geraq Bey
  • Cool Ranch, Cooper's Roost: Raqnor Bey
  • Mooshu , Hamamitsu Gardens: Oshu Bey
  • Marleybone, Isle of Dogs: Kasuf Bey
  • Aquila , Nova Aquila: Ryaq Bey

Second Chance Chests

Have you ever battled your way through a tough dungeon, only to be disappointed that you didn't receive the reward you were hoping for at the end? Our pirates can now pay a small Crowns fee to get a second chance at what's in the boss’s treasure trove!

Some final boss encounters will contain a chest in the room that offers a second chance to find the item they wanted. Simply use the chest that appears after your initial duel, pay a few Crowns, and you are given a second chance at the exact same rewards the boss drops normally.

Each time you use the chest, the price will increase. There's no guarantee you will receive the item you had hoped, these are Second Chance chests, and nothing in life is guaranteed.

New Combat Rules

A few changes have been made to help ease delays in combat and clear possible confusion:
  • Once a battle board has been filled by four players, no additional “different” players may join the combat if one of the original four players flees.
  • (Multiplayer only) If a player doesn’t issue any orders for a planning phase, in the next planning phase they will be presented with a dialog that says “Are you still playing?” If “Yes” isn't clicked within 10 seconds, then the absent player is forced to Flee.

Other Combat Changes

  • After careful review of our existing content, we are slightly increasing the difficulty of combat beginning at about level 25.
  • Enemy epic talents have been rebalanced to provide more interesting (and more challenging) combat.
  • Double Tap will no longer trigger from destroying a battle board prop as this was unintended.
  • Bombs will no longer visually trigger fire effects before the bomb impacts the ground.
  • The durations of Artillery and Rain of Mortarshells are now displayed on their ability cards.
  • Musketeer powers now all deal magical damage.
  • Powers that are unable to be used by a player will display a lock icon in the My Powers Menu.
  • Canister Shot now shows damage for all of its hits.
  • Rapid Fire has a new, snappier animation
  • The Musketeer Snap Shot power will no longer show the player aiming at the target's feet.
  • Musketeers will now learn Scatter Shot before learning the skill Rapid Shot.


  • Added new tiers for Dino Pack gear, Retail store Bundle gear, and the Boochbeard Bundle gear.
  • Old Scratch's headdress is now on his loot table.
  • Players' "totems" will not be incorrectly referred to as "Tokens" occasionally.
  • The "Sotrm Rider's Pendant" is now the "Storm Rider's Pendant."
  • The "Butal Band" ring is now the "Brutal Band" ring.
  • The Fire Archer's Jingaza hat now appears correctly when mounted.


New promotions are now available for the following companions:
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Bonnie Anne
  • Ratbeard
Several companions are now more vocal during combat:
  • Black Angus
  • Bones McGee
  • Monkey King
  • Shiruku Neko
  • Romba
  • Fin Dorsal
Several companions have undergone a few cosmetic improvements:
  • The Monkey King now has footstep sounds when he walks.
  • Reduced the size of Madclaw and lowered him to the ground.
  • Improved Bones McGee's look.
  • Fixed Black Angus's Mustache.
  • Ensign Emmett will now proudly show his name.
  • Removed Egg Shen's constant flipping animation, but he will still perform some acrobatics while he's idle for a while.
  • New Critical animations have been created for all Magnificent Seven companions and Nurse Quinn.
Other companion changes are as follows:
  • Companions who share the same class as your character gain a slight boost in XP from Training Tomes.
  • We have reduced the variation in companion quality in an effort to make all companions more worthwhile. Companions who were previously "third string" have been boosted up to "second-string" status. They will have more non-epic talent slots to purchase simple upgrades like Accuracy, Armor, etc.
  • We have removed all of the "fixed" talent slots from companions. All companions, whether they join you at the beginning of the game or later, can freely choose where to spend all of their non-epic talent slots.
  • Additional ranks of both non-epic and epic talents are now available to companions who meet the level requirements.
  • Made a few changes to Mormo's first promotion quest so it proceeds more logically.
  • Players can no longer purchase Martin or Moresco Valvida for a second time after promotion.
  • Dodge timing corrected for Samoorai Musketeer.


Major Ship changes are as follows:
  • To make ship combat a bit more exciting, all ship damage powers have a 20% reduction in the time it takes to use them again. Base ship damage has been adjusted to match, and ship Token appearance rates have also been adjusted accordingly.
  • The Base Nautical XP awarded for combat with ships has been increased by 25%.
  • Players onboard your ship as a crewmember will now receive Nautical XP during broadside combat. The amount awarded is roughly half what the captain earns. Also, we've limited the effective level of the mob for Nautical XP calculations to 10 levels above the player's Nautical level, to address concerns about power leveling.
  • A new Quick Refill button has been added to the interface to more easily allow players to purchase fuel (instead of having to open the Crown Shop and click on the Elixir tab).
  • Players will now earn progressively less nautical experience if their nautical level exceeds their player level (i.e., a soft cap on Nautical XP is now in place).
  • Note that Nautical XP awarded by quests will not be affected by the new Nautical XP rules for combat.
  • The level 50 Marleybone Galleon that was sold for gold in MooShu has been removed. The new Marleybone Galleon is level 54 and will be sold for gold somewhere in the Marleybone skyway. Likewise the level 52 Marleybone Galleon in the Crown Shop is now a level 56 ship; however the required level of 44 has not changed.
  • Fuel efficiency is now about two times greater across the board than what it was previously before the update.
  • Many high level ships will target multiple enemies.
Other ship modifications are as follows:
  • Added new "Bane" and "Death From Below" debuffs for high level ships.
  • The Goronado figurehead and Alto Velas sails no longer intersect each other on the Monquista skiff.
  • Ships now all have the correct "sailing" sigil instead of the "boarding" sigil.
  • The ship health meter will turn yellow at exactly 50% instead of when under 50% health.
  • Lessened the chances of ships overlapping each other due to combat with enemies flying in the skyway.
  • The Pet whistling sound no longer plays when using the steering sigil and having a mount equipped.
  • Friend Names in the skyway will appear light blue as they do on land.
  • Chat bubbles correctly indicate the location of the speaker in the skyway.
  • Broadside power buffs and debuffs are now non-stacking.
  • Improved the Ship UI so the preview window and header match the currently selected ship.
  • Choosing a non-equipped ship will display "This Ship is Bottled".
  • Ships will once again appear to sink when destroyed.
  • Some zones will now announce that unbottling a ship is not allowed.
  • Equipping the Alto Velas Sails on the Monquistan Skiff Ship will no longer give the appearance of white bars

Quest Sharing

Quest Sharing is a new feature that allows players currently to share only certain Book 1 side quests. Sharing a side quest will allow you to get your group members on the same quest as if they had accepted it via NPC:
  • No Mainline quests can be shared.
  • You must be grouped to share a quest with a group member.
  • A quest can only be accepted if the group member is eligible to accept the quest from the NPC.
  • Many times there are multiple steps to a quest--a shared quest will begin from the first step of the quest regardless of the current quest step the sharing player has reached.
To share a quest, open your Quest panel and click the share button in the top right hand corner. NOTE: The icon only displays when you are in a group and have a quest that can be shared with your group mates.

After clicking the share quest button, your group member will then see a dialog box asking them to accept or deny the quest.

Other Quest Changes

Major quest changes are as follows:
  • Rejoice! Quests now sort themselves on the quest page in this order: Mainline, Trainer, Promotions, and Sideline. Icons also added to top-left corner of the quest window to indicate the quest type.
  • Some encounters can be repeated and grant experience according to the number of times it has been completed: 100% XP for the first completion, 50% for the second, and 0% for all completions after that.
  • Moved Mr. Harker's Cane to a more visible location for the side quest "Lost and Found," and the quest will now grant a reward.
Several changes were made to the “Go Go Stormzilla” encounter:
  • Stormzilla will now spawn up to eight eggs on the battle board.
  • Certain companion powers will now be available to players during the Stupendor X fight (That's right! Companions now help from inside the giant metal suit!)
  • Adjusted stats and health of Stupendor-X and Stormzilla.
  • Added a life fountain near the instance entrance.
Reduced the quantity required to collect and increased the percentages to collect for the following quests:
  • Hook, Line, and Sinker
  • To Avernus, and Beyond!
  • Setting Things Right
  • Coils of the Serpent
  • Black Storm Rising
  • Showdown at Boot Hill
Other general quest changes are as follows:
  • Polished the Buccaneer training quest, "Chances With Wolves" and made it a little less punishing.
  • Slightly lowered the level of Jesse and Frank Cranes.
  • Made a few Quest Helper improvements (Specifically for Cavern of the Crescent moon, Yak Where We Belong, Making Preservations, and Message in a Bottle).
  • The quest title "Troubled Times: The Mark of Toro" has been shortened to simply "The Mark of Toro."
  • The quest "Watch Out for Xian-Bi" has been renamed to "North Wind Blows."
  • Reduced the number of Armada patrolling the Valencian Catacombs and made them slightly easier to avoid.
  • Adjusted spider paths near Monkey King's cage (so they are a little less hazardous).
  • Prospector Zeke now proudly shows his Explorer title.
  • Added a sigil to the Duck of Death ship within his instance.
  • Fixed the non-moving spearmen in the Mogatu Battle for the quest The Soggy Crusade.
  • Players will no longer get stuck while turning the cannon during the Fort Elena instance.
  • Watermoles now patrol the Tobi Taa Cavern of Watermole Beach and no longer stand idle on the sidelines during battles.
  • Lowered NPC names and added a little extra space between the names and the “Wizbang” (i.e., the question mark or exclamation point above their names).
  • Corrected the spelling of "Sujimura" in the quest "The Way of The Sword."
  • The Crab Hermit is now located next to Historian Costanza.
  • Added a new Beehive Battle board prop in The Dark Jungle.
  • Players will now receive a dungeon warning notification when entering the "Standoff at Boot Hill" encounter.
  • Miguel de Olivares, who used to the deliver the line, "But we aren't monks . . ." in the quest Heart of Darkness, will no longer look like a monk.
  • Teleporting to the Dan Drake fight while not having the quest will no longer interfere with normal quest progression for the player.
  • Corrected the sigil for the quest "Wolf's Grievance," which said you were entering the "Ghost Cave" instead of the "Scaly Grotto"
  • Ridolfo will now disappear from his room after he joins your crew from completing the quest "The Resistance Lives On!"
  • Your Armada disguise in Valencia will now reappear after you win a random battle board encounter.

Crown Shop

We’ve added several new items to the Crown Shop that we think you’re going to love!
  • Added a Bric-A-Brac Elixir that will increase the size of allowable items in a house by 50 slots (up to 300 items max)
  • Added an Additional Housing Space Elixir
  • Added two new Nautical XP Boost Elixirs
  • Added a new Aquilan Pegasus Mount (our first unlockable badge Mount)
  • Added several new unlockable Marleybone and Aquila Companions
  • More Crown Shop surprises will be added later once we reach the live server!
The following Crown Shop improvements have also been made:
  • Players are now prevented from buying gold in the Crown Shop if the purchase would put them over the gold cap.
  • Temporary Mounts will now start their counter when first equipped, instead of when purchased.
  • The Gold Boost Elixir now rewards bonus gold for both combat and quest received gold.
  • Crown Shop Mounts will no longer appear locked when you are in a zone where you can't purchase them.
  • There is a familiar new Crown Shop symbol in the top left hand corner of the interface


  • Players who purchased the “Castaway’s Cove” house may notice that some of the placed wall items are no longer visible. This is due to a recent adjustment to the house to correct a few issues. To retrieve these missing items, select the “Pick Up All Items In This House” button from the decorate menu. You will then need to manually place each item back to its original desired location.
  • For those with a lot of spare gold lying around, we've added larger piles of gold that can be purchased as housing items so you can show off your wealth!
  • Ensured housing items cannot be picked up and placed in a player's backpack when the backpack is full (which would previously destroy the item).
  • Rugs are a little easier to place in the Volcano Island House now.
  • Players may now add more items to their alcove in the Castaway Cove House.
  • Balanced the height of the Nautical Wall wheel housing item.
  • Removed the incorrect Crown Item symbol from Miss Mallory's Wall Hangings she had for sale in Tumbleweed.
  • Attic interface now uses the correct item limits.
  • Updated housing tutorial tips to be more accurate.

General Game Polish

Several server and game changes have been made in an effort to continue improving our Players’ overall Pirate101 experience and game performance. We’ve also extended that polish to some more unwandered corners of The Spiral. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of these changes:
  • Frame rates in all skyways have improved so players will experience less lag.
  • Made several changes to shorten the size of initial download of Pirate101.
  • Lowered the amount of water level in the Flooded Tunnels so that smaller treasure chests are easier to see.
  • Made over 40 individual fixes to MooShu textures and geometry which addressed several issues with sigils, docks, battle board props, fences, cave exits, ships, scrolls, towers, waterfalls, vases, crates, foliage, ceilings, shadows, tree branches, ground, and railings.
  • Made many other art polishes around the Spiral to seams, maps, walking surfaces, quest icons, Troggy dream-catchers, campfires, torches, the Training Tome Vendor in the Black Spot Tavern, the MooShu Octopus ship Figurehead, the ridgeline in The Gold Monkey encounter, the Ground in The Dark Jungle, the ceilings in Flotsam, and general clipping and collision issues.
  • Our grammar was corrected in the quest “One Good Favor..."
  • Moo Manchu no longer shrinks or turns into an oni upon defeat.
  • Added rocks to the Froggo Villa Cave map where they appear in game.
  • Corrected many icon colors of the billethead figurehead icons.
  • Corrected the animation timing when the Rebel Water Mole Slingmen swing and miss an attack.
  • Jail Cell Bars within the Presidio are now visible from all angles.
  • A sign has been placed outside the General Store in Santa Pollo to indicate there are clothing vendors inside.
  • Added the missing door and columns in the Santa Rana instance in Cool Ranch for the quest El Toro Unleashed!
  • Players will no longer get stuck on some of the drains in Monquista.
  • Added missing back walls to some houses on Skull Island.
  • Touched up several Portrait pictures including Nelly Nickelby, Bishop Hidalgo, Bill Bobstay, Gortez, Madame Vadima, Queen Isadore, King Fernando, Donkey Hotay, Dr. Noh, Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Soaring Skies, El Guapo, and more!
  • Made many combat camera fixes where pillars, ceilings, trees, and walls would interfere with the battle board action.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan now animate while talking.
  • Weapons will now return to a normal position upon dismounting the Buffaloon


  • Continued refining the words that are allowed to be said in game chat.
  • The phrase "Please click the Done button to advance combat" has been added to Menu Chat.
  • Added new PvP chat options to Menu Chat.


  • Added more secret chests throughout the game, and new badges have been added to the game for collecting hidden chests around The Spiral.
  • All player emote animations, selected from Menu Chat, are now working correctly.
  • Moved the Bone Drakes back a little farther from the windlanes in Avernus and moved the jellyfish back a little farther from the windlanes in the Spiral pathways.
  • Modified the number of wisps in many zones--some had too many and some didn’t have enough.
  • Pet names will no longer change upon zoning.
  • Easter pets may now be successfully sold to vendors.
  • Dismounting when activating a sigil now has a dismounting particle effect.
  • Made the Witchdoctor class icons more consistent looking.
  • Having Friend Requests turned off will now show your name to another player who tries to add you as a friend.
  • Moved Eloise slightly away from Zeke in the Hamamitsu Garden
  • The Monquistan Stormgate and map label now state a violet Windstone is required for passage.
  • We’ve modified the notification when a player joins a group to more correctly indicate who created the group.


  • If a player goes link dead during combat, their portrait will now show a broken chain icon.
  • Experience bars will now hide when a player reaches the level cap.
  • Added some new bounce and shine to the Done button once combat moves have been selected.
  • Badges are now listed in Alphabetical Order.
  • Improved the height centering of numbers on the character sheet.
  • Added a symbol to differentiate between items that are locked and items that are unusable.
  • Re-centered buttons on the top drop-down menus.
  • It is no longer possible to target yourself from the Group window of the Friends List when in a group.
  • The weapon, armor, and resistance pop-up displays now display correct information, and inspecting players will now show correct damage when displaying weapons statistics.
  • A player's "Maximum Health" in the character sheet is now simply called "health."
  • Removed the rotation arrows from the My Character screen.
  • Eyepatches will be removed from preview windows correctly.
  • Players' Bank item count is now updated correctly when transferring to or from the shared bank.
  • Stitched items will now show what the parent clothing items were when examining them.
  • Ensured the "Board Enemy ship" Message does not cover any of the broadside combat buttons when in 800 x 600 resolution.
  • The text for obtaining a Friendfinder code has been updated to display that the code must be used within 24 hours to both Pirate players, when generated.
  • The inventory overflow and destroyed messages now display a little differently.


Overall we’ve continued to polish and balance the sound in the game. Some notable fixes are as follows:
  • Removed background music from the Flooded Cave in Monquista so only the spooky sound effects can be heard (unless engaged in combat)
  • Sparkshooters now sound more like sparkshooters
  • Added some new voices for a few MooShu Clan Lord and War Pigs.
  • Kirin and Horse have hoof beats over stone now.
  • The following Tutorial Tips have been added:
    • First Travel when using the Go To Skull Island button.
    • Nautical experience gains when your nautical level is greater than your player level.
    • Maximum inventory size.
    • Bank almost full.
    • Shared Bank use.
    • Fuel Boost button use.
    • Refueling when you’re out of ship fuel.
    • Initial combat rules on Skull Island.
    • Equipping a house and using the housing interface.
  • Fixed several voiceover and dialog mismatches. Specific quests adjusted are as follows:
    • Much Mojo
    • Trading Under the Table
    • The Cunning Minx
    • Soy Games
    • Striking Beauty
    • Toro Unleashed
    • Peacemaker
    • Be True To Your Sky
    • The Claws of Justice
    • Love's Locket Lost
    • Redemption!
    • Snake in the Grass
    • The Shadow of the Paw
    • The Monkey's Paw
    • True Love Triumphs?
    • North Wind Blows
    • Flight of the Penguin
    • Last But Not Least