Home > Age of Conan, Quests > Old-time farming sprees in Khitai

Old-time farming sprees in Khitai

Here’s another nostalgic post, this time about the various insane farming sprees that we’ve seen in Khitai in the (relatively) early days after the release of the Rise of the Godslayer expansion. I suppose some people would consider some or all of these things to be exploits; but I consider that to be an unnecessarily ugly word. If the developers didn’t mean these opportunities to exist, they should have tested the game a bit better and fixed them before the release; and what is more important, they shouldn’t have set up the insane grinding requirements that pushed people towards (ab)using every possible shortcut to its fullest potential.

Forest of August Gloom

This is the area in the southeastern part of Northern Grasslands. One of the NPCs in the nearby village of Mei-Dianwafu gives a quest to kill 10 or so of the lotus-tainted animals in the forest, with a few Imperial Insignia as the reward.

Imperial Insignia are tokens that you can hand in to faction NPCs to raise your reputation with that faction (1 insignia is worth 200 points of reputation). Nowadays you get plenty of faction reputation simply by doing their quests, but in the early days faction quests gave less reputation than now, so insignia was more important than now. And nowadays you get lots of insignia easily as direct drops from dungeon bosses, and also from quest rewards for killing those bosses. But these things were added relatively recently; in the early days, the only sources of insignia were open-world quest rewards and (rare) direct drops from open-world mobs.

Most of the quests that gave insignia as a reward were poster quests, but in the Northern Grasslands there were also a few that you could get by talking to NPCs, and the Gloom Forest quest was one of them. And these quests lacked a cooldown back then, just like poster quests do. So in principle you could keep taking and completing a quest like this again and again, as much as you liked.

The other detail that made Gloom Forest such an incredible farming opportunity was the fact that you could do it in a group, or even in a raid. When any member of the team killed one of the animals in the forest, all other members got the quest update from it as well (if they were within range). So people would form raids of 18 or even 24 people, pick up the quest, ride en masse to the forest, round up a bunch of animals and AoE them down within seconds, often without even dismounting. Then they would ride back to the quest NPC, hand in the quest, take it again, and so on. You would get 10 insignia or so every few minutes, which was vastly faster than by doing any other insignia-giving quests. Some people would spend entire days farming this quest, though I myself found it too boring to endure it for more than an hour a day or so.

I think that for most people, the motivation for all this insignia farming was that they wanted insignia so they could raise their reputation with the Tamarin’s Tigers faction faster. This faction is present in only one playfield, so gaining reputation by questing was even slower than for most other factions; and people of course wanted to reach rank 4 quickly so they could get their tiger mounts. As a side effect of Gloom Forest farming, you also got a reasonable amount of money and AA xp from handing in the quest.

Funcom closed this glitch relatively soon by adding a cooldown of around 15 minutes to this quest (and other similar quests).

Paikang boxes

This is probably the most innocuous of the farming opportunities in this post. It’s a perfectly normal poster quest in Paikang, requiring you to collect a few boxes lying around the banks of a river in the central part of the playfield (near the island with lots of apes on it). Like all other poster quests, it has no cooldown and it gives you a few Imperial Insignia as a reward.

What makes this quest so attractive is that it’s so quick and easy to do it. You can pick it up from the poster near the entrance to the playfield (where you enter it from Chosain), ride to the river bank, pick up the boxes, ride back and hand them in to a NPC standing right next to the poster, and you’re ready to pick it up again right away. The boxes respawn quickly so you won’t have problems getting them even if several people are doing the quest at the same time. One annoying thing is that the poster gives you a random quest from probably 10 or more possibilities, so you have to keep deleting and retaking them until you get the one you want.

At some point, the quest was nerfed a little — the number of boxes you had to pick up was increased, and IIRC the number of insignia in the quest reward was decreased. But it’s probably still the fastest way of farming insignia by a purely solo activity. The reason why it’s not as popular as it used to be is, as described above, that there isn’t as much need for insignia any more, and that you get plenty of insignia easier than ever before simply from doing dungeons.

First phase of Pagoda and Palace

The boss fights in the Kang Pagoda and the Palace of Yun Rau consist of two phases; you get the loot (and the lockout) only after you completing the second phase. In the Kang Pagoda, if you wipe during the second phase, you’ll have to do the first phase again in the next try; this used to be the case in the Palace as well until they changed it to its present mechanics (where you don’t have to repeat the first phase if you wipe on the second).

In the early days after the expansion was launched, the first phase of these encounters generated AA xp, just like the second phase. IIRC you would get about 70k AA xp for each phase in the Kang Pagoda, and around 80k in the Palace of Yun Rau. This doesn’t sound like much now, but in those early days, getting AA xp was slower and harder than now; those 70 or 80k per hardmode were more or the best you could expect to get (except in Yag HM, as we’ll see below), so the only question was how to repeat this as often as possible (i.e. without too much travelling, zoning, killing trash, etc. between each boss kill and the next). So people would kill the first form of Po-Sha or Yun Rau, then deliberately wipe on the second form, and then resurrect and repeat this for as long as they wanted.

This practice was more widespread in the Kang Pagoda than in the Palace, partly because more people were familiar with the tactics for it and partly because in the Kang Pagoda, you could have one of the healers stand outside the boss room and the AoE wouldn’t reach him there, so he survived the fight when everyone else wiped and could easily and quickly zone in and resurrect everyone else. This avoided the need to zone out to the main playfield where the rez pad was located (since the dungeons didn’t have lobbies like they do now).

This was the main source of large-scale AA xp farming in the first few weeks after the expansion, before people learned how to do KK dungeons. Funcom put an end to this practice relatively soon by removing the AA xp from the first phase of these two encounters, so there’s no longer any motivation to wipe deliberately on the second phase. Later they changed the Palace fight (but not the Pagoda) so that wiping on the second phase doesn’t reset the first phase at all.

Kiting in the Coppice of the Heart

In the Coppice of the Heart, there’s a circular area where you’re supposed to fight the boss. Nowadays, if you go out of this circle during the boss fight (except the phases where you’re destroying the veins and arteries), you will get a pretty hard-hitting dot that will kill you quickly. In fact you might get the dot even by approaching the edge of the circle too closely (while still being inside it).

But in the early days, this dot didn’t exist, so in principle you could kite the boss in a big circle around the room, past the big arteries and so on. He moved slowly enough that even a caster could kite him. The key thing was to prevent the boss from ever hitting the kiter. Like many mobs, the boss seems to have an idea of what he wants to do next, and he refuses to consider doing anything else until he performs the move he has in mind at the moment. So if he intends to hit the aggro holder at least once, but the aggro holder kites him so that the boss never has the chance to hit him, this means that the boss will never consider doing any of the other things that he would otherwise do, e.g. move to the centre of the circle at 75% of health and cast his shield (where you’d then have to destroy veins and arteries to remove his shield).

So by kiting the boss around the room like that (and making sure the kiter never gets hit), you could avoid having to deal with the veins and arteries. There was also no risk that his aggro would break off — it might, if he managed to hit the current aggro holder at least once, but since he couldn’t, he just kept running after him. IIRC his heals also had no chance of proccing during this kiting (and his heals were a much bigger problem back then than they are now, since they could proc often enough that you needed two rogues with TW to remove them; and rogues in general were even more incompetent with heal removal back then than they are now).

So basically you had one player kiting the boss, and everyone else standing in the circle and hitting him with whatever ranged attacks they had. This could be pretty slow if you had mostly melee classes that couldn’t do anything else than shoot arrows with their bow or crossbow; but it was a simple and reliable tactic, unlike the intended one with killing veins and arteries and removing the heals.

In principle, a necro could even kill the boss completely alone, by kiting him while the pets were DPSing him. I wasn’t yet doing Khitai with my necro back then, so I never tried it myself, but for some people it was a nice way of farming some extra rare trophies and AA xp, especially if they couldn’t easily get a good hardmode group. Funcom seemed to disapprove of this and some people even got banned for it. As usual, it took them a nontrivial amount of time to add the dot which is still there and prevents this sort of kiting nowadays.

Den of the Crowmen

As you know, the hardmode version of the Den of the Crowmen encounter involves two bosses, Kian Lai (big bird) and the Royal Hatchling (small bird). Normally you should DPS the small bird down to 10%, at which point it becomes unattackable and flies into the air; after that you DPS the big bird down to 50%, kill some adds, then kill the big bird, then the small bird becomes attackable again and you kill it as well. The big bird drops the blue normal-mode box while the small bird drops the purple hard-mode box.

In the early days, it turned out that if the small bird’s health dropped below 10% while it was CCed, the mechanic that should have caused the small bird to become unattackable at 10% (and remain such until the big bird dies) didn’t trigger. I’m not sure if all CCs worked for this, but e.g. fear definitely did. So what you could do was fear the small bird just before its health reached 10%, then you’d keep DPSing it while it was feared, and by the time the fear was over its health was already well below 10% and it wouldn’t become unattackable. You could simply kill it and get your hardmode loot chest with AA xp, a purple armor part, and a rare trophy.

But you didn’t get a lockout — it’s killing the big bird that gives you a lockout. So after killing the small bird, you’d run away until the encounter reset (or you’d simply wipe on the big bird). After the encounter reset (and you had no lockout), you could do it again and again, thereby farming rare relics quite efficiently. What is more, since you could use the same instance of the dungeon all the time, you didn’t have to re-clear trash after each boss kill.

So in a way this kind of farming was even better than what we saw above in the case of the Pagoda and Palace — there you were getting just AA xp, here you were also getting rare trophies and loot. But you needed at least tanks with resolve for it, and it took a while before people got familiar with the Den encounter, so in the early weeks the Pagoda and Palace predominated. Funcom eventually fixed the Den farming glitch by making the small bird resistant to CCs. This made the fight a bit harder as well, since you couldn’t help the tank by CCing the small bird.

But really, in the long turn the main thing that made this sort of farming unnecessary was that they eventually increased the rate at which you can obtain rare trophies legitimately. In the early days, each hardmode gave you 1 rare trophy and that was it (with a few very rare exceptions, such as the crates of 5 rares in Pagoda and Yag HM). Nowadays you get 1 rare from each *normal* mode, and an additional 2–3 rares from the hardmode loot box, and crates of 5 rares drop from more dungeons than before.

Coconuts and mangos in Paikang

One of the Children of Yag-Kosha faction quests in Paikang (called Silent Strides) involves collecting a few coconuts (without killing any animals meanwhile). It’s a simple and quick quest and like any other faction quest it gives you a few Marks of Acclaim as a reward (as well as some money, AA xp, and faction reputation). In the early days, most of the repeatable faction quests had a cooldown of about 1 hour; but Funcom forgot to add a cooldown to the coconut quest, so you could re-take it immediately after handing it in.

Some people would spend hours and hours doing this quest again and again, mostly because they were interested in farming marks of acclaim, though the amount of money they got (either as a direct reward from handing in the quest, or from selling blue potions which IIRC were also part of the quest reward) was also pretty nice. None of the two or so characters with which I was doing Khitai grinding at the time was in the Children of Yag-Kosha faction, so I couldn’t get in on this action myself. To be honest, I’m not so sure if the rate of MoA per hour from this quest was really much better than from a traditional Kara Korum MoA farming run (if you had three factions at rank 2, plus the Jiang Shi faction), but some people seemed to prefer doing the coconut quest instead.

After some time, Funcom decided to do something about this, but instead of simply giving this quest the same cooldown that most other repeatable faction quests had, they took their usual idiotic way of responding to things they don’t like, and made the quest non-repeatable altogether.

People then started to focus on another Yag-Kosha quest in Paikang, which apparently also lacked a cooldown. This one is called Treats and Threats, and requires you to place mangos on the altars around the Yag-Kosha camp; while doing so, you have to dance to frighten away the apes that attack you. Eventually Funcom made this quest non-repeatable as well, thereby decreasing the number of repeatable Yag-Kosha quests in Paikang from 4 to 2, screwing the people who were in that faction and wanted to farm MoA in Paikang legitimately.

As usually in cases like these, the real source of this problem was that farming MoA was so slow and tedious, and Funcom eventually fixed it by massively increasing the amount of MoA quest rewards from all faction quests.

Last time I looked, there was another repeatable faction quest in Paikang that lacked a cooldown: one of the Shadows of Jade NPCs asks you to bring him the woman that he wants to marry, but while talking to her you can allow her to escape to Chosain; the quest fails and is replaced by a different one, where you just have to return to the Shadows NPC and tell him what you’ve done. You still get some MoA from this, and you can re-take his quest right away. (I’m not sure if the quest is also repeatable if, instead of failing it, you bring the woman to the Shadows NPC like he told you to.) But there’s a fair bit of riding involved to get from the Shadows camp to that woman’s house and back, so even though you could farm this quest over and over again, the amount of MoA you’d get per hour wouldn’t really be any better than from a normal quest run in KK or Paikang.

Speaking of repeatable quests in Paikang, I vaguely remember having heard something about people sharing a partly-completed quest for the Ai District and handing it in, again and again, or something like that, mostly with a view to making money. But I never knew the details of this, and I don’t have the impression that it was a widespread practice.

Celestial Necropolis

In the early days after Khitai was released, Celestial Necropolis lacked a lockout. If you got a good group for it, you could farm rare trophies and AA xp pretty quickly this way. But it was harder than it’s now, especially since most people still lacked the AA perks for it. For example, if you don’t have a priest with Steadfast Faith, and the Grieving Jiang-Shi mob manages to put the ruin on your group, this pretty much guarantees a wipe as you won’t be able to kill things quickly enough with the −damage debuff from the ruin. So you had to keep the mob chain-CCed to make sure it couldn’t cast the ruin.

You could similarly prevent the Conceding mob from putting the torment on people, or you’d have to be really sure that the player with the torment would run away on time (or that the rest of the group would run if he was rooted; but in that case you’d be deprived of a lot of DPS on the next Sentinel, so it was better to avoid getting the torment altogether).

Likewise, you could try to keep the Joyous mobs chain-CCed to prevent them from putting the healing buff on the boss. If this failed, you had to simply not hit the boss until the next pillar became active and his healing buff was removed.

In any case, after killing the boss, you had to go out, regroup, enter a new instance of the dungeon and kill some trash again, so it wasn’t as convenient as the Den farming mentioned above. But it was a bit more legitimate and could still be pretty fast if you had a good group.

There was one detail in which the Necropolis fight was easier than now: there was a rez pad in the dungeon itself, so dead people could release and run back during the boss fight. After they added a lobby and moved the rez pad there, people can’t zone into the dungeon from the lobby during the boss fight, so if they die, they are out of the fight for good.

Enigmata of Yag

The Enigmata of Yag is still a very respectable source of AA xp, especially if you kill the rare boss (Spawn of Nyarlathotep). But in the early days after Khitai was released, killing any of the bosses in Yag HM gave you a little over 800k AA xp — basically 10 times as much as any of the other hardmodes at the time. And you didn’t have to track for the rare boss — in fact it was in your best interest to avoid him, as his loot table was bugged so he wasn’t dropping loot like the other two bosses (Tetharos and X’cth) did.

What is more, Yag didn’t have a lockout in those early days. If this happened now, you could simply park your characters in the lobby and farm it for as long as you liked. Back then, the lobby didn’t yet exist, so after each Yag run you’d have to go back out to Kara Korum itself and regroup there before you could enter a new instance of Yag. To enter it, you of course needed the Crater Key buff, which expired after two hours. With a really good group, people managed to do six Yag runs with just one Crater Key buff. The key buff typically expired while they were inside the dungeon on the sixth run, but this wasn’t really a problem — you can stay in the instance without the key buff, you just had to be careful that you didn’t fall out of it (or that you didn’t release after dying).

Sadly I wasn’t able to get in on this farming myself; some of my guildies at the time did but I usually couldn’t get a spot in their group. This was probably by the best AA farming opportunity that ever existed in the game, by a wide margin. Nowadays you could probably get 1 million AA xp per hour with a reasonably smooth KK run, or even a bit more than that with two good Ai District or Ardashir Fort runs, and places like T’ian’an District and Vile Nativity have very decent AA/time ratios as well if you have a good group for them. But none of these things comes even remotely close to 3 million AA xp per hour, which is what people were getting from Yag in those wonderful lockout-less days.

Funcom eventually not only added a lockout to Yag but also nerfed the AA xp from the non-rare versions of the bosses there. But gradually they also increased the amount of AA you get from most hardmodes in the game, put additional AA xp urns to the loot tables, etc., so that a KK dungeon run is still a very good source of AA xp (if you aren’t too bored of farming it by now :}).

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Categories: Age of Conan, Quests
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