My first Ebon Gate! Had a wonderful time and here are my thoughts... they're extremely long-winded, but--well, I'm still feeling overwhelmed after all of that!
Our awesome GMs have to be acknowledged! Everything great I'm about to mention about EG is all thanks to their tireless efforts. Well, except for one thing, which is...
Didn't expect to have great times in merchant lines, but a lot of you were very fun to be around. Honestly, I don't even know how you did it--by day 3 I was exhausted and felt like I was on sleepwalking autopilot (if I could muster up the will to interact at all), and maybe that was true for others too, but I sure couldn't tell.
Off the top of my head, some of my favorite characters to be around were Crux, Heartfire, Naamit, Rohese, and Rozy, which is mostly a cast that Leafi rarely gets to see and really spiced things up.
-The overall feel of the island
Loved the ambients all the way through and I like the wandering NPCs, even ones like the sea slug that don't talk. (Maybe especially that one!) Also, from an in-character perspective the isle was just ambiguous enough to justify having my characters participate in the quest, since they weren't sure whether the island was under a curse or was the curse or what.
The availability of spell customs really filled a niche for me--while I love Summit Academy and spent tons at it for Leafi, I couldn't justify the Simucoins for my alts. Silvers are an easy leap to make, though, and now they're spruced up a bit! Also bought a 111 flare custom for a Jaston-following friend because the feathers made perfect sense, and a custom disk for her too.
Just so happy about these customs even though I got in early and way overpaid in silvers for almost all of them at the start when we thought they might be more rare than they ended up. (And now I'm looking forward to the next Summit Academy and how much better that will get too!)
-Digging and Seashells
I needed lots of things permified, so digging up seashells and tossing them at the obelisk was great for me. Also want to mention how fantastic it was that early problems with junky, unpawnable items were resolved super quick.
I do understand others' criticism of seashells, though. They wouldn't have meant much to me either if not for all my perfume, as even the seashell-exclusive items were pretty cheap. We'll need new things for seashells next year, at least for me.
Wow, was I not ready for this at all! I didn't even go for anything I wouldn't want to use personally, which was tons of things. Shocklances, ritual daggers, anything else from Goblyn, divination stuff, script swapping, doohickey unlocks, property removal, sanctification, tattoos... I didn't go near any of that. Probably other things I'm forgetting!
And somehow I still got 23 services. Totally boggles my mind, and 4 of those were things that are virtually never offered and another 7 were things I'd normally have to hope for from premium-exclusive merchants.
That's all with buying a service pass for only one account, by the way! And without counting two raffle wins that still have me reeling. Thanks again to our tireless GMs for the insane amount of work they do.
I have to give special mention to Airisu because I got nine things from her alone--she works absolute wonders for us cobblers. And her games to win extra prizes were tons of fun.
Also special mention to Hibis for a gemcutter pattern alter, a super rare service that came out of nowhere on the last day. I know people love the new lapidary boxes, and so do I, but I didn't win any unlocks for those and I still like my gemcutters too. Cookie-shaped chrisms for all, coming up!
Compared to other similar Simucoin "slot machines," diving doesn't pay out in a currency as valuable as bloodscrip and also is missing intermediate prizes like deepening notes, guild vouchers, Chronomage capsules, etc. that make other events fun.
I definitely won't be diving next year without major changes. Not enough value when you could either buy three games passes for 500 fewer Simucoins than a 50 pass, or just wait for another event that feels more rewarding for the same cost.
Also, I loved the idea of a premium-exclusive area, but again the execution seemed flawed. Seashell caches seemed like the main draw... but seashells are easy enough to get that having 10 searches at the shallow level seemed more valuable.
It seems like the main audience for diving would be people who 1) want a lot of seashells, 2) don't have time to dig for them, and 3) don't want to buy them on the secondary market. That seems very narrow...
I liked a lot of the shops. I picked up perfume, forging aprons, forging glyphs, cobbling punches, cobbling totes, stationery boxes, armor concealers, lapidary boxes, gemcutter patterns, and maybe other things I'm forgetting! I'll probably buy 100-count jars before it's all over.
It was also great fun seeing friends light up over many things that I wouldn't buy personally, since we all have different interests and characters! For a new venue this was just good and I'm looking forward to Caligos expanding next year.
The instruments in Fine Tuning looked nice and all, but they don't have zests like the ones from the Midsummer Festival, nor do they make musical notes like instruments from last year's EG. A little disappointing for my bard and Tilamaire cleric compared to previous offerings.
Also very saddened by no slab generator. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Duskruin has one, but I won't buy slabs with bloodscrip knowing it might be the difference between getting a high end item or not... Definitely wanted them at EG and I think it would have helped with the seashell market too.
Lastly, Professional Courtesy... I love the idea of a profession-limited shop, but I can't see why these items were considered too potent to be sold in unlimited quantities. Many were actually kinda blah, but even the best ones were usually taking up inventory slots that have tons of competition from other things just as powerful or moreso.
(Or maybe I'm the one out of touch with the value of +2 Manipulation/Telepathy or other bonuses. Totally possible!)
I know I have to reserve some judgment because we don't know how much better it will get in coming years. And I did take my characters to 1000 favor because I'm holding out hope.
For now, though, I won't be using it at all. As I've said to friends, the spell 217 (Major Interference) reduces DS and TD more and reduces AS and hits every enemy... and I still don't cast that spell unless I'm helping someone uphunt 30-90 levels.
To be fair, that uses 17 mana and the quest item doesn't use any (...I hope), so if it at least eventually expands to be multi-target then maybe it'll be useful. We'll see.