Monday, 20 December 2010

Bullwhips, Fedoras and Ammonites

Now that everyone has had time to try the new Archaeology, it's about time for me to start posting a few things about it as well.

If you have not tried it yet - you might like it. It does have boring stretches - much like fishing - and it does require a lot of travel, but there are some rewards that are great. I have to admit, I have not seen one of the epic items yet, but the troll one especially has me drooling. Notice how it's Bind to Account as well, so I can share it with my other alts once they are level 85.

But anyway..  back to the basics:

You want this hat, you'll have to earn it. Start by visiting one of the Archaeology trainers. You'll get two new "abilities" - Survey and Archaeology.

First stop: The archaeology window. This is not technically what you'll see when you open up the window - this is what you get after hitting the "Info" button in the top left corner. The one I marked with a red arrow.

It shows basically what you are supposed to do: Instructions built into the skill - a new thing! In short: Open your world map, find one of the spade icons, fly there. Once you get to the appropriate zone, find the red (or sometimes grey) shaded area. Land. Use your survey tools.

You'll get one of three possible results. Red light next to your contraption means you are more than 100 yards away - and it is somewhere in a 90° cone in front of the lense (the big end!).

Yellow means you are still a bit away. More than 50, but less than 100 yards. The surveying tool is pointing roughly in the right direction, though (there is a narrow cone - less than 45° I'd say).

A green, flashing light means you're basically there. Less than 50 yards away from you is your treasure. The survey tool does point at it directly. The easiest way to find it is by triangulation - so you'll just walk off to the side a bit, survey again and match the two lines. Bingo.

To find your treasure you'll need to survey again. On the spot with the X. Except there is, of course, no X.
Your reward will depends on the type of Dig Site you are at. In the beginning you are limited to Fossils, Dwarves, Night Elves and Trolls. Once you pass 300 skill, you'll also be able to grab Draenei and Orc items from the outlands, at 375 you'll unlock Nerubian and Vyrkul from Northrend and finally at 450 Tol'vir from Uldum.

Up to 100 in skill you can gain skillpoints just from picking up artifacts off the ground. Once you pass the 100, you'll gain 5 points each time you assemble (solve) a find.

The solving window looks something like this. It tells you how many total artifacts you need to collect to assemble your find. At the bottom you also see a hexagon box. If one of those is available (not always the case) you can use a secondary "currency" to solve the find quicker. Rare artifacts can use up to three of those, and you'll automatically get them on a succesful survey sometimes (like gems in mines or hides in skinning).

And that is pretty much it. Walk around, survey the land, pick up artifacts and solve the pieces of the puzzle to grab a useless price (in most cases).

Addon Corner:

There are actually two addons I can recommend to speed up Archaeology a bit.

Archy combines all the information into easily navigated boxes. It also tracks dig sites (and apparently interfaces with something called TomTom to add waypoints). More importantly: It adds a little icon to my BrokerBar which reminds me when to visit a trainer.

SAL is a tracking addon. It helps (immensely) with triangulating the actual position of your find. It is not the most intuitive of addons, however, so I think I'll add a few pictures.

First image shows the SAL window. The left icon is the one you use when you are standing on top of your surveying tool and facing in the direction of the surveying tool. It'll then give you a line superimposed on the screen. If you remembered to "measure" the size of the zone, the line will also be colourcoded by distances (as shown in the next image).

To measure, the rightmost icon. Click it, it'll prompt you to walk forward in a straight line until it's finished (a few seconds). Word of warning: Do not be mounted, flying, catform-with-speedboost or any other movement speed changing effects. Otherwise the measurements come out wrong and you'll end up in the brambles. Prickly brambles, too!

The second image shows the superimposed lines. The first one was from a red survey tool. As you can see, I moved to the "red area" on the line, then dropped another tool. And because the angle of randomness took me far, far away from the actual relics, I ended up with a yellow followup.

The second image is one I'd like to see more often. Green line from the start, which meant I could just walk off to the side a bit and do another survey. The two lines intersect somewhere - and another survey there reveals the fragment I am looking for. Almost exactly in the right spot.

Lastly, the spawnspots for artifact finds are limited. Much like ore or herb nodes they do appear in the same places. You'll probably notice when you dig for your second find in an area and it pops up right where you just found one. SAL also remembers the map locations on the minimap. When arriving in an area you already were in - why not start next to a known spot. You might get lucky.

Good luck.

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