Here be Dragons!

Dragons. They are slightly important to Guild Wars 2…being as the plot basically revolves around trying to stop them from destroying the world. When it comes down to it, we don’t know much about the dragons themselves, though. We know how many Elder Dragons are threatening Tyria – five – but we still lack the name of one, the deep sea dragon (nicknamed “Bubbles”). We know that they have minions, as well as each having their own champion.

The Great Lava Turkey - I mean, Destroyer

Or at least, they each did – Primordus’ original champion was the Great Destroyer, who was destroyed in Eye of the North, delaying Primordus from awakening. His second, the Destroyer of Life, was destroyed by Destiny’s Edge. But has he created/procured himself a new champion? My guess is that it would be another particularly large and powerful Destroyer, but as of yet, we don’t know. Perhaps it’s something that we won’t know for a while, since Primordus lurks underground, but even so.

And that of course raises the question – just how is a dragon champion created? Glint had been Kralkatorrik’s champion for centuries of years; her ability to see into minds caused her to turn against her master and hide in the Crystal Desert. GW2 Wiki says that she was created with the goal of protecting her master, but…just how was she created? Morgus Lethe, Zhaitan’s former champion, was “corrupted” by Zhaitan, but we don’t know much about this corruption other than sylvari are immune to it.

So far that we know of, both Zhaitan and Kralkatorrik have replaced their defeated champions, their new ones being Tequatl the Sunless and the Shatterer. The fact that both are dragons themselves (champions do not necessarily need to be dragons) brings about the question of just how many dragons currently exist in Tyria? In GW1, undead dragons in certain Krytan areas were…not quite common, but not uncommon either. Cantha had Saltspray Dragons. There were also creatures that were classified as dragons, but the resemblence was less – Drakes and Bonesnap Turtles for example. These lesser ones were more common, but somehow I doubt they would make suitable dragon champions. Tequatl could be a reanimated undead dragon (think Rotscale, but nastier), made to fight for Zhaitan.

The Shatterer - not a happy crystal chicken.

The Shatterer is a bit more of an enigma. There were no dragons living in/around the Dragonbrand that we knew of in GW1, except for Glint herself. So where did this dragon that Kralkatorrik corrupted come from? And would any random dragon work, or would it need to be a crystal dragon, like Kralkatorrik and Glint themselves were?

And connected to that…Glint had a child, the baby crystal dragon that we protected from Destroyers during Glint’s Challenge in Eye of the North. We don’t know the fate of this baby dragon – if it’s still alive, if it was corrupted by an elder dragon or not, or where it is.

Jormag’s champion was destroyed; as of yet we don’t know if he has a new champion, or what it is. Nor do we know what happened with the dragon frozen within Drakkar Lake in Eye of the North, or why Jormag had created the Dragonspawn instead of awakening his old champion.

And then there’s Bubbles, which we know almost nothing about, including its name. It’s an underwater dragon, its awakening coincided with the krait invading the quaggan lands, and it can create creatures from the water but…that’s about it. We don’t know what kind of champion it has, or if it even has one.

I’d love to see some more lore and information about the dragons themselves; how they work, how they create or select a champion, what sort of lesser dragons exist and how many…there’s so much potentially interesting info here we don’t yet know. I’m sure most we’ll find out in game, but that doesn’t help the curiosity much :P

…also, I totally want to see an NPC in-game refer to the sea dragon as “Bubbles”. Just sayin’.

Guilds Strike Back!

Guilds have always been a core part of Guild Wars, the easiest way for players to organize themselves. But until very recently, we’ve heard almost no information on how guilds would be represented in Guild Wars 2, other than they would be there. This of course led people to complain – “The game is called GUILD Wars, obviously guilds are very important to it! When will we get guild info?!”

I would like to point out that this is a slightly erroneous assumption – the game is named for an event that ended with the Searing in Prophecies. GW2 is looooong past that, and there’s been no hint that there’s been any guild wars since that last one – probably because the world as a whole is too busy with other, bigger issues. But anyway! That’s not the point of this.

We did finally get some guild info during PAX. Not much, but what we did get was enough to make people explode with whether they liked it or not, what it could mean for the game, and claims of doom upon us all. Ahem. So, what we know:

  • Guilds are account based – join with one character, and all are a member of that guild.
  • You can join multiple guilds. No news on if there’s a limit on how many you can join, so for now we’ll go with “As many as you’d like”.
  • You can represent one guild at a time on a character, and can switch this as you please.
  • Doing activities with your guilds will earn influence. This can be spent on things like guild storage or experience flags.
  • Guilds can capture keeps in World vs. World PvP, and can use influence to upgrade these keeps.
  • Guild halls will not be in the game upon release.

The multiple guilds bit is what has people buzzing the most. Some love it, some hate it, some are in the middle or simply do not care. There’s enough buzz about all of this that it’s the subject of GuildMag’s current blog carnival.

Personally, I’m one of the ones that loves it. I’m in a guild in GW1. It is a small guild, consisting of under 10 people. We’re not a speedclear or PvP guild or anything like that; more that it’s nice to be able to see when someone’s on if we want to go do a mission together, or try and tackle an elite mission or HM dungeon or something like that together.

There’ve been times, though, when I felt slightly limited because of the fact that I’m in a small guild. For example, we were Kurzick-aligned from the start. My Kurzick title got to rank 6, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere on Luxon yet and wanted to put that in my Hall as well. My options were to pester my guild leader to change our allegiance, or leave the guild and join a Luxon one. I didn’t want to do the latter, but if I didn’t succeed at the former, I would have had to do so. Thankfully we did switch over to Luxon, since everyone had their Kurzick rank more than high enough, and I now have my Savior of the Luxons statue ;) But all the time on forums you see people asking about getting into PvP or speedclears or the like (things I don’t do myself, but have had some interest in at least learning, especially speedclears), and they’re told to join a PvP/SC guild. That doesn’t help you already if you’re in a guild that you know and like, though!

But in GW2? That won’t matter. I have a bunch of coworkers that I’ve gotten interested in GW2 and are all planning on playing it, as well as friends like my boyfriend (who has played some GW1), and they want me to make a guild for us. I can make and lead that guild. At the same time, if I feel like dabbling in some PvP, I can join another guild for that. I can join up with Izari of Talk Tyria and join her guild. Depending on who’s online and what I feel like doing, I can swap which guild I’m representing. It’s great.

I’ve seen some complaints about it, saying things like “it just makes guilds into social groups” and the like. Well, really? I’ve never seen guilds as anything more than that. They’re a group of people I sometimes play with, are friends with, and like to talk to. That’s it. I would do those things if I wasn’t in a guild with them. I do those things with people I’m not in a guild with. Really, all it does is combine the “guilds are account-based” model with “guilds are character-based”. Yes, your account joins the guild, but you don’t have to have each character representing every guild, and if, say, you want to have four characters representing one of your guilds (or all of them), you’re not taking up multiple spots on that guild’s roster – just one.

I’ve also seen complaints about how it will effect guild loyalty. My opinions on such a concept aside, I don’t believe it will have any negative effect on a person’s loyalty. Rather, you won’t have people in the situations that I described above as being common in GW1. If you’re in a guild and want to try something that they don’t really cater to (say, you’re in a PvE guild and want to play some PvP with one)…then you don’t have to leave your current guild! Just join another one as well for those activities. Everyone wins out.

The only possible issue I’ve seen so far is that there’s no cross-guild chat so far (if I’m remembering what was said at the panel correctly). On one hand, I can understand this. Making the guild chat channel contain all of your guilds would just be chaos. But if you can decide which guilds to represent, why not allow us to decide which guild chats to display, even ones that we’re not currently representing? After all, if you’re on a WvW guild-only character, it doesn’t mean you might not want to talk with your PvE guild buddies. I’m also wondering why halls won’t be in at the start; that seems a rather large and odd thing to add in later. Could it mean something about how close the game’s gotten to release? Who knows. Not us, for sure!

Of course, we’ve really gotten very little information about how guilds will work in GW2 – this is just a small taste. So far, though, I am definitely pleased. What do you think of the guild information that we’ve been given so far? Like or dislike? What do you like the most or the least?

It’s (almost) that time of the year!

Go, candyman, go!

The past few years on Guild Wars Guru, those of us that frequent the Nolani Academy subforum have participated in a community-held art workshop for both the Halloween and Wintersday art contests. The purpose of the workshop is not necessarily to try and win a prize in the official contest, though workshop participants are always well-represented amongst the winners; last year for the Halloween contest something like 9 of the 23 winners were workshop participants. Rather, the main point is to create a piece of art that the artist is happy with, to obtain critique, and to try and learn something new and expand on your artistic skills.

And, obviously, the art is all both Guild Wars and Halloween-related, which lends to some awesome creativity in what people come up with!

I participated in both workshops and art contests in 2010 (and was one of the contest winners for Wintersday), so I can attest to how much fun it can be to participate, and how incredibly helpful the critique that’s given out can be. It’s really a great time, with people of all skill levels participating (and winning prizes). We usually hold a party in-game afterwards where we all just hang out in an outpost, give out prizes, mess around, and have fun.

This year I’m stepping up my participation; I will be hosting this year’s Halloween Workshop on Guru. The workshop itself isn’t open yet, but the thread is up, I’ve set aside a bunch of my goodies for prizes (I just need to divvy up what I’ve got between the categories), and I’m looking for judges and prize donations. And even though entries aren’t being accepted yet, discussion and brainstorming in the thread is more than welcome! If you’re interested in participating, want to help judge, have stuff you’d like to donate for prizes…just post in the thread or shoot me a message on Guru.

And of course the most important part – have fun!

 

Silly Ranger, what are you doing?

This is going to be slightly silly and nitpicky. However, bear with me!

Rangers are a staple class/profession in anything fantasy. The nature-attuned bow-wielder, able to put an arrow through anything that crosses her path. As bows were what was primarily used for ranged fighting before guns existed (and became widely used), this is no surprise. I’ve always loved the ranger archetype, and I will not deny that my early days of reading fantasy and playing D&D influenced my decision to take up archery as a hobby. It requires a lot of skill and practice to be able to shoot accurately – you have to be able to judge and adjust for things like the arrow’s flight and arc, wind (direction it’s coming from, if there’s any lift, windspeed, and gusts), if you’re just shooting something stationary or a moving target…not to mention the fact that archery requires a surprising amount of upper body strength in order to fully draw a bow.

It’s also a hobby that can easily lead to injuries – I refuse to wear armguards any longer after one incident where I didn’t have my arm turned out enough and the string caught on the underside of the amguard, both yanking it off and scraping a few layers of skin off the underside of my left arm. Ouch. As that little story suggests, though, there are proper archery forms, and they exist for a reason. Following them not only helps to maximize the power behind your shot, but it also helps prevent you from injuring yourself like I did.

So what does this have to do with Guild Wars?

Well, somewhere along the line…Rangers in Guild Wars never learned how to hold a bow properly!

pew pew pew

At the left here, we have my Ranger, Verene (yeah, guess where my nickname came from :P). She’s being a good little Ranger, shooting at the poor Master of Damage who puts up with so much abuse from players. Also, can I just say that I love the Dryad Bow? Best bow skin in the game. Anyway. See how she’s holding her bow? Well, part of the form is correct. Standing with her body perpendicular with her target, right arm pulling the string back straight and even with her ear (or so it would be, had I gotten the screenshot from a straight side angle). I generally stand straight instead of bending my knees when I shoot, but that’s not necessarily wrong, and her feet are planted far apart to brace her.

But the way the actual bow is held…my goodness. Sure, it looks cool. Her left arm – the one holding the bow itself – is bent, which would prevent her from being able to get the max draw on the bow. But the worst…if there was an actual string there, when she looses that arrow? It would get caught on her armor and the force behind the arrow would be lost, or worse, it would simply carve the hell out of her arm. Also note how her head is tilted in order to try and get a proper line of sight – with the bow drawn that far, the string would also catch on her chin and shoulder. Ow.

Sure, artists are creative, but even so...

This continues in Guild Wars 2, or at least from what we’ve seen in videos thus far. Look at Eir, in this screencap from the new trailer shown at gamescom 2011. She’s doing it again! In fact, what she’s doing is even worse. At least Verene up there had the arrow held on the top of the bow, so it was possible to get a full draw on the bow, even if loosing the arrow was going to result in pain, realistically. The string was going over the top of her arm. Eir is holding the bow on the underside of her arm. At least it appears that she’s got her arm turned so that the string shouldn’t catch on it, but…it appears that she’s holding the arrow between her hand and the bow. Assuming it flies at all, she’s going to get a handful of fletching, which I can also say from experience is painful. Not to mention the fact that without the fletching, or with it damaged, the arrow is not going to fly straight. You can also see pretty clearly how her body blocks how much of a draw she can get. Where she is right now is about the maximum draw she’d be able to get.

However, a second later in the video…

Um. Magic disappearing arrow?

Oh.

Not only are the arrows taking flight while the string hadn’t been released (physically impossible!), but…where’s the other half of the string? How does she have it drawn that far back? It just doesn’t make sense!

I have no idea if male Rangers shoot like this in GW/GW2, because I’ve only ever played lady archers in GW1 and I haven’t seen much Ranger gameplay yet from GW2 videos. And yeah, I know, this is monstrously nitpicky. It’s a small detail that bugs me, though, and I can only really think of one explanation.

Rangers in GW/GW2 have magical bows that defy the laws of physics and the strings are just for show (or don’t exist at all); the arrows have a mind of their own and just have to be placed on the bow and the Ranger has to go through the motions of firing for them to fly :P

For the record, this shows decent archery form, though the right hand should really be up against the cheekbone so that you can get a proper sight down the arrow. Not perfect, but it would actually work pretty well in reality ;)

What little details do you tend to get nitpicky about in games? Your own personal pet peeves?

Minions, oh my!

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Guild Wars (as opposed to all of my posts about Guild Wars 2). Whoops!

I am a bit of a fan of having alts, and while I definitely spend the most time playing my Dervish, I do have one of each profession (and FOUR Mesmers…I may be a bit of a fan of them) and have played most of them a fair amount. The one I find the hardest to play, though, is my Necromancer.

Shizuka is not amused.

It’s not so much that I don’t like the profession (though it’s by far not a favorite of mine, I made one simply to prove a point, more or less)…it’s mostly that while they’re very powerful, they don’t have a huge amount of options. You basically have minions, Discord, or Spiteful Spirit, or going /Rt for spirits or healing. Maybe using Blood Magic for support. Well, I’m not a support player and I don’t like relying too heavily on secondary profession skills, so that knocked out most of my options. I mostly use a Spiteful Spirit/Curses build, but I find it to be less viable now for players, with the seven hero update. Things are dead before I finish casting half of the time. And minions I’ve never cared much for because it’s a playstyle I’ve always found to be too boring and passive.

So, basically, I was stuck – the one build I liked was too slow to really be worth playing, and as a result my poor lovely Necro was collecting dust.

I decided to change that recently, though, and started the search for something new that looked like it could be fun. Pain of Disenchantment looked like it could be a neat skill to make a build around, and it stayed in my preferred Curses line. Problem is, not everything you come across is going to be enchanted, and so it’s something that would only work part of the time. Order of the Vampire had potential…however, melee heroes really aren’t the best and so it’d have limited use. Ironically, the elite skill that interested me the most was a minion skill – Order of Undeath. It looked like it would require you to be a bit more active than simply “Stand back, cast Aura of the Lich, and watch a dozen minions appear”.

So I decided to give it a go! Over to PvX I went, and of course there was a build using it on there. Took that build and made some adjustments – both from necessity (I don’t have EBSoH on that character) and my own tastes (I prefer bone minions to bone fiends – quicker and easier to replace when necessary), and off I went. The base is pretty simple. Keep Masochism up at all times to boost Death Magic and Soul Reaping (DM should be at 18), raise minions as things die, keep them healed up with Blood of the Master, and as they attack, use Order of Undeath to increase the damage they do. I’m currently using the Healing Prayers variant (so much for me not liking support!) because it makes it easier for me to keep my minions up and going, as well as helps make up for the fact that I’m sacrificing/losing so much health so frequently.

Shizuka...less unamused.

Of course, like any minion build, it won’t work everywhere. If you don’t have bodies to raise minions from, you’re kind of screwed. You also have to be very careful to stay in the backline, because you’re going to have low HP most of the time (my base health running this is 496, thanks to the Superior Death Magic rune; at any given point in time I have about 2/3rds of that), though the Vampiric Horrors help with that. A hero with Protection Prayers is incredibly useful, but then again, when are they ever not? A good 40/40 Death Magic set is helpful though not 100% necessary – I’m currently using a 20/10 staff with an enchanting mod on it which works fine. You have to be careful on using Blood of the Master while Order of Undeath is up, for obvious reasons; too much sacrifice will kill you. And it requires you to pay more attention to the battle than most minion builds do. If your minions are attacking, you should have OoU active, and you should prioritize spamming that. If your minions are just standing there doing nothing (as they do on occasion), wait for them to start attacking before you cast.

I’m still adjusting things on my build a bit. I might try out some of the other variations that exist for it. But so far? I’m quite enjoying this. It’s a minion build I find fun. It’s proving to be pretty awesomely effective in battle. And I’m playing my Necromancer more, which is always nice. Sometimes, trying something new works out quite well! Which profession or build have you tried that surprised you in how much you enjoyed it?