Welcome and a Giveaway!

First of all, before I go into main reason for this post, Under the Pale Tree has expanded again! I would like everyone to give a warm welcome to AJ Wolf (@ajwolf84 on twitter), who has joined as a writer. Previously she had blogged for The Tyrian Order before the site had closed down, and along with Opt of Malefic Incantations, is my co-leader of I Can Outtweet a Centaur [TWIT]. So keep an eye out for her posts, and her take on the Guild Wars lore and the state of the game!

And now, we come to the main event! I have right now, sitting in my room, this lovely item:

gw2ce

Yes, that is a Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition. Yes, it is signed by the team. This thing is covered in signatures. It is amazing.

And it can be yours!

How? Simple. We are going to be holding an art contest. I have always loved the art contests held by ArenaNet, and I was sad that there wasn’t a Wintersday Guild Wars 2 contest this year. I also was a winner of one of the previous GW art contests. So in that spirit, that’s how I shall rehome this CE!

Any type of artwork is welcome – whether it’s a traditional drawing, digital painting, or crafted item. It must be Guild Wars 2 related. Entries should be emailed to verene@thepaletree.net. You have until 11pm CST on February 9th to send in your entry. And because of the fact that it will be an NA game key, and I have to ship this sucker, I will have to limit entries to the US and Canada only (sorry!).

Good luck, and get creating!

Finally, a huge thank you to the lovely folks at ANet that made this possible!

Legendarily Long Term Goals

There are times I look at what I’m doing in Guild Wars 2, and tell myself “Verene, you’re crazy”.

This is one of those times.

I’m Legendary hunting again.

Back in November I had decided I really, really wanted Bifrost. AJ had also decided she wanted it, so we decided to work together. Mats had been dirt cheap at the time, so we both were able to buy up a lot of it – I had everything for the Gift of Energy, all of the Opal Orbs and half of the Crystalline Dust for the Gift of Color, a decent number of unidentified dyes, both Artificer and Cooking maxed out early on…I was making decent progress. We both were. The stickiest parts were going to be the badges of honor, getting the precursor, and of course that pesky Gift of Zhaitan – we’d done Arah Explorable once and it was not a fun experience.

And then the price of T6 mats and dyes skyrocketed. Once dyes reached 16 silver apiece, we decided that getting that staff was a pipe dream that would never happen. We sold off all of our mats, making a huge amount of profit. And I, personally, decided that a Legendary was never going to be in the cards for me again.

Fast-forward to now. Mat prices are still high, but have come down a slight amount since we sold off everything. We’ve both gotten our map completions, meaning that there’s only one badge on the login screen that’s not filled in – equipping a Legendary weapon. For me, that one open spot is going to bother me until it’s filled in. Then AJ decided that she needs the Dreamer for her Thief…and as I get weirdly competitive at times, I went looking at Legendaries again.

And fell in love with Kudzu again.

kudzureq

Kudzu has always been, from the start, my favorite of the Legendaries. I had the Dryad Bow in Guild Wars 1, and it was my favorite bow skin. I make a point to re-skin my ranger’s shortbow to the Living Shortbow whenever I get a better one.

However, there are so many reasons I’m hating myself for this decision.

First of all, I have two Rangers. Neither are level 80. One is a level 30 norn, and the other is a level 11 sylvari. Sylvari will be more appropriate for this bow, but I want to give it to my norn. However, this means that I don’t even have a character leveled up to use it.

Second, Ranger is definitely the weakest of the professions. Sure, I could level my warrior and give Kudzu to her…but there’s not a chance I’m giving that gorgeous bow to a teeny asura. I’m really hoping for a Ranger update to make playing mine more palatable, being as I’ve got 50 levels to go still.

Third, I had the precursor before and sold it. I had gotten Leaf of Kudzu out of the end chest during Lost Shores. I had sold it for 75 gold at the time, as it wasn’t going for much. It’s now up to about 400 gold, last time I checked. I am kicking myself so hard for that.

Fourth, I have a habit of selling off excess mats and items regularly for cash. Not a week and a half ago I had sold all of my T6 mats, ancient wood, and mystic coins. Yup, regretting that one hardcore.

Fifth…Mystic Forge and my luck with rolling the dice. I am now up to about a dozen attempts at Mystic Clovers, between when I was working on Bifrost and now. I have four Clovers. AJ has said that she had better luck using the recipe for 10 clovers, but I’ve gotten nothing from that. The T6 mats you get when you don’t get Clovers are nice, but I have this sneaking suspicion that I’ll finish my T6 mats before I have all of my Clovers.

Current mat progress for gifts - one day of farming. Not bad.

Current mat progress for gifts – one day of farming. Not bad.

Still, I suppose I’m not doing horribly. I finished up Master Crafter quite a while ago. I did finish my map completion a couple of weeks ago so I’ve got the Gifts of Exploration. I’m about a quarter of the way there on my Badges of Honor, and if I do the EB jump puzzle a few times a week those’ll build up quickly – more quickly than actually trying to kill stuff in WvW. I’m sitting on about a half-million karma, between the jugs I’ve been hoarding and what’s available on the three of my four level 80s that have been to Orr. I do my dailies every day so my coins will build back up. I’ve got fractal relics I can turn in for obsidian. Once the update goes in where we get achievement tokens for doing dailies, that will make getting the obsidian shards even easier, as I’ll have three sources to get them from. I’ve got more than enough gold for the Icy Runestones at the moment. I’ve got nearly enough skill points on my Mesmer for the Bloodstone Shard (I’d have enough if I hadn’t bought every skill available), and I’ve been using my other 80s to get the Clovers. If I do one more run of Twilight Arbor I’ll have my Gift of Thorns, which is so easy to be a complete non-concern at this point. And I’m slowly making progress on my T6 mats. I’m a good chunk of the way into my Gift of Wood and Gift of Nature – the hardest part for those will be the total of two stacks of ancient wood I’ll need. I have plenty of orichalcum I can sell off for that, though, so I’m not hugely worried. They’ll likely be the first gifts I complete.

I’m not even worrying about the precursor yet. I’ll continue doing my dungeon runs and fighting Claw of Jormag, but I’m not expecting anything good out of the chests – I’ll still be socking away my cash to buy it. Maybe the scavenger hunt will come in before I get enough for it, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. Still, precursor will be the last thing I buy for this, I think.

It’s definitely a long-term goal, but it’s one where I can see the end in sight. It won’t be done this month, or the next, but it’ll be done. If I have it done by August 25th (the one year anniversary of the game), I’ll be happy. If I have it done sooner, even better!

Now, to level that Ranger…

Guesting…finally here?

So we just got a new Guild Wars 2 blog post…announcing something that pretty much everyone’s been waiting for since launch. Guesting is finally coming! It’ll be in as of January 28th.

However.

There’s a very big “but” included with that announcement.

Guesting is still locked to the data center that your home server is on.

This means that if you play on an NA server, you cannot play with people on an EU server, and vice versa.

I’m not going to lie. That does really bother me. I have a ton of friends on EU servers – including the friend I played through all of Guild Wars 1 with. We were all waiting for guesting so we could finally do stuff together.

So much for that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really excited and happy that guesting is finally in…but that fact really sours it. The community is international – my guild is hugely international, with a lot of people on EU servers. When guesting was originally spoken about, it was implied that there’d be no restrictions on what worlds you could guest to. I understand there are probably technical limitations for it, but being as the trading post, character names, mail system, and so on are all fully universal across all worlds…why not this?

Yay for guesting! However, boo on still being locked out of playing with a large number of my friends.

Trash Can Woes

So, I have this theory. I reached this conclusion recently during one of the many dungeon runs I do on a regular basis, after opening yet another chest.

Treasure chests in Guild Wars 2 are really nothing more than the garbage cans of the enemies we’re fighting – full of mostly junk, with the occasional real piece of gold that got tossed out on accident. Sure, you might get a rare weapon or piece of armor, or maybe a core or lodestone…but chances are, all you’ll find is blues, with a disproportionately large number of pieces of pirate armor.

garbagecan

I think that this is what made me come up with that theory.

See, the reasoning for this is because drops and chests in Guild Wars 2 work on an RNG (random number generator) system. Whenever you kill an enemy, or open a chest, the GW2 gods roll a giant billion-sided die. Whatever number it lands on corresponds to a specific piece of loot and ta-da, you get your goodies!

That may be a slightly simplified explanation, but sometimes simple is the best. Also it gives me the mental picture of the Tyrian gods playing D&D, which is always funny.

Anyway! I’m not opposed to RNGs in general. I’m a tabletop gamer, I know the capriciousness of the die and I can appreciate how a single roll can change things. However, that doesn’t keep it from being really, really frustrating at times.

I’ve always been known for having terrible luck when it comes to dice rolls. Generally, if someone’s going to fail a roll in my group, it winds up being me. One time a fight I was in was stretched out about five times longer than it should have been simply because I kept failing roll after roll. So I’m used to it, and the feeling that the dice are always weighted against me has definitely followed me into Guild Wars 2. However, here it has slightly different consequences.

For example, last night I got two rare items as drops, and a third for completing a story mode dungeon for the first time on a character. These are the first rares I’ve gotten in about a week and a half. Whereas the rest of my group generally gets at least one per dungeon run; sometimes more *cough*Opt*cough*. I have yet to get a single exotic as a drop, outside of the Lost Shores chest. Globs of Ectoplasm are required for crafting exotic weapons and armor, rare and exotic jewels, legendary weapons, and a number of other things. The only way to get ecto, other than buying it on the trading post, is to salvage rares and exotics above level ~70 and hope for the best.

The nature of the RNG means that rares and exotics are, well, exceptionally rare as drops, and that means that it’s difficult to get ecto, which makes it hard to craft or buy exotic-level weapons and armor.

An example, from my guild. Opt, who is quoted above in the screenshot from chat, has exceptionally good luck with drops. He’s been able to make exotic jewels for all of his level 80s. Whereas I have very poor luck with drops, and thus far have been able to make exactly two pieces of exotic jewelry. I was able to craft a set of exotic armor for my Mesmer, but that was back when rare mats had plummeted in price, ecto were 13s, and I could afford to buy the mats I needed. If I had waited until I had enough ecto to craft the set, I’d still be waiting.

Some people say that magic find is the answer. I have a set of magic find armor. I have piles of Omnomberry bars. The truth is, our experiences have shown, is that magic find does not help you all that much. Increased chance for drops also means increased chance of garbage drops. White armor above level 80 has a chance to salvage into t6 mats, but I really don’t need a stack of porous bones whenever I go out into Orr – which seems to be the only thing that I see increase in drops when using magic find.

Rather, I’d like to see a tweak of the RNG that’s used in dungeons – or at the very least, for chests. Rares and exotics drop with (relatively) high chances in the Fractals of the Mists, even low level ones. For a while every chest I opened in Fractals gave me two golds. Of course, even that changed quickly so that all I was getting was greens, but even so. Make it so that chests in dungeons and after defeating dragons are actually worthwhile. Increase the chance of getting a rare out of there. If you’re doing high level content, then you should be getting rewarded for it.

The other solution could be to adjust how ectos can be gained. I don’t necessarily mean make them be something that can be dropped from enemies (though that would be nice), but maybe something like a small chance that they could be salvaged out of high level greens. That would then make items that otherwise would just be garbage/vendor trash actually worthwhile and useful.

Treasure chests shouldn’t be trash cans. They should contain actual treasure. And right now, because of the RNG, they don’t.