The best skills in Guild Wars 2, as collected by me

When it comes to Guild Wars 2, there are certain skills that are just better than others – whether or not it actually is more effective, it’s more fun, or you just simply like it more. I certainly have my favorites, skills that I make use of more than anything else!

So, in no particular order (other than how much I play that profession), here are my favorites of each professions’ skills. On we go!

Mesmer

Feedback

FeedbackCreate a dome around your foes that reflects projectiles.

My mesmer is my main, and it’s no hiding the fact that I love playing her. Feedback is one of those skills that basically never leaves my bar. It’s useful basically everywhere – so many enemies use projectiles, and even without that, it’s an Ethereal field, meaning that it can be used to apply Confusion to enemies, or Chaos Armor to yourself and other allies. There’s also the fact that a well-timed Feedback can do massive amounts of damage to enemies as well as saving your team from nasty conditions (fun fact! You can Feedback Agony onto bosses in Fractals!). Love it. Illusionary Warden, Illusionary Berserker, and Blink also rank very high. Chaos Storm would make the list but staff on mesmer needs some love first.

Ranger

Barrage

BarrageBarrage the target area with a hail of arrows that cripple.

Longbow rangers tend to be a love them or hate them thing. I fall firmly on the side of “love them”; my ranger is the owner of Kudzu, the first legendary I made. Barrage is by far my favorite ranger skill, possibly my favorite skill in the game (I’m just saying, Feedback has some stiff competition there). It’s a large AoE, it deals heavy damage, and it cripples things forever. Whatever you hit isn’t going anywhere. It’s great in situations where there are lots of enemies, and I love nothing more than using Barrage into an enemy zerg while in World vs. World. Oh it’s so much fun. But yeah, what I’m saying here, is Barrage is awesome, and my guildies can attest to how frequently I say “I love using Barrage…”.

Guardian

Empower

EmpowerChannel might to yourself and allies around you. Heal nearby allies when it ends.

I play my guardian as a support guardian – healing, boonspam, and shouts everywhere! Staff is my weapon of choice there, and my guardian is the owner of my second legendary, Bifrost. Empower takes it as my favorite guardian skill, because it’s just so darn good. It heals – a significant amount. It channels might – up to 12 stacks of it. It has a decent recharge. It being a channel can be a bit tricky at times – I hate when I get interrupted in the middle of throwing around heals and might – but a quick “Stand Your Ground!” just before takes care of that. Renewed Focus is a close second, simply because of the number of crazy things I’ve managed to survive due to those three seconds of invulnerability, but ultimately I like Empower more.

Necromancer

Well of Suffering

Well_of_SufferingTarget area pulses, damaging foes and inflicting vulnerability.

I actually had a hard time deciding which necro skill I liked best – Life Transfer, Consume Conditions, and Lich Form all were contenders. But when it came down to it, I knew it had to be a well. I love wells. When I was running a condition build, my utility bar was all wells, with the trait to make them placeable at range. Now that I run a more DPS-focued melee build…I still use wells, but instead I now bomb enemies with them as soon as I’m in melee range. Between the size of the AoE and the damage ticks, a well-placed well just melts everything. So much fun.

Thief

Skelk Venom

Skelk_VenomYour next few attacks heal you.

I had a hard time picking one for thief; despite the fact that my thief was my third level 80, I’ve had a hard time really clicking with the profession. I’ve recently decided to try out a venom share build, though, and I think I finally have it – something I can enjoy playing. With that said, I have to go with Skelk Venom. For this one, it’s really less about the skill itself – it’s a good skill, don’t get me wrong – but rather what it allows thieves to do. This one skill being added to the game single-handedly made thieves capable of lending support to other players. So yeah. Venoms. They’re fun.

Elementalist

Arcane Shield

Arcane_ShieldBlock attacks with an energy shield. If it blocks three attacks, it explodes.

Yeah, I’m not going with the hilariously overpowered Conjure Frost Bow here. I’m going with my good old friend, Arcane Shield. This skill is responsible for my elementalists (both of them!) dying half as frequently as, realistically, they should have. “AHHH THINGS ARE EATING ME!” quickly turns into “pop Arcane Shield and RUN AWAY”…and I’m still alive at the end of it. Really can’t go wrong with that! It’s also great for anything where getting hit when channeling (hi, skill points!) interrupts you and you just don’t feel like dealing with it. Or running in to grab points of interest and trying to avoid that champion patrolling around. Basically what I’m saying, is Arcane Shield is one of the best survival skills in this game.

Engineer

Elixir B

Elixir_BDrink Elixir B to gain fury, might, retaliation, and swiftness.

Another where I’m not picking the more universally popular skill (sorry guys, I hate Grenade Kit. I’m not fond of ruining my wrists going click-click-click-click-click repeatedly). I run a conditions/support build on my engineer, revolving around the Elixir Gun and other elixirs. Of the utility elixirs, Elixir B is my favorite. I mean, come on now. When are those boons ever not useful? Never, I say. The toolbelt skill for it is a source of stability, something that is always helpful. And with the right trait setup, those boons last forever. It’s excellent.

Warrior

Battle Standard

Battle_StandardPlace a battle standard that revives fallen allies and grants fury, might, and swiftness to allies.

I have a confession to make. I don’t actually use Battle Standard all that often. I tend to run around with Signet of Rage on my bar. However, that’s because most of the time when I’m just running around on either of my warriors, I’m alone exploring zones. When it comes to group events, dungeons, battling in Lion’s Arch, or anything where there are large amounts of people, though? Battle Standard all the way. The boons are nice, but it’s the revive that makes it so handy. The best use I’ve ever seen of it was someone using Vengeance and then Battle Standard to save our group from a wipe while fighting Giganticus Lupicus in Arah. It’s a situational skill, to be sure, but it’s also a great one.

So there we go! Those are the skills that I like the most and think are overall the best and most useful for each profession. This is, of course, all just my opinion – I don’t expect everyone to agree! But hey, give them a try. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite you’d never thought about before!

Retreat!

Hello! It’s been some time, hasn’t it? Four and a half months since I’ve last posted on here. Life is life; lots of things changed over the past few months, and I fell into a bit of a gaming slump where I simply was burned out on GW2 and barely logged in.

The last two patches have managed to drag me back in, though; Edge of the Mists, and Escape from Lion’s Arch. The latter is what’s gotten me to sit down and start writing again, so here goes!

Well, the map looks a bit different now...

Well, the map looks a bit different now…

Scarlet Briar (who, by the way, I greatly enjoy) has attacked Lion’s Arch with the combined strength of her armies and a toxin that she developed. And man did they do a number on the city. There’s a cutscene that shows the attack as it happened, and it’s a bit on the intense side of things.

Now, in this patch, we’re not actually fighting Scarlet yet. This revolves more around helping to evacuate Lion’s Arch – not everyone made it out of the city safely, and we have to go in and try and rescue as many people as we can before the miasma gets too thick from Scarlet’s toxin and we have to retreat ourselves.

Looking at LA from the northern entrance from Gendarran Fields.

Looking at LA from the northern entrance from Gendarran Fields.

I am really enjoying this patch, for the most part. It’s fun content and there’s a ton to do while in Lion’s Arch itself; zerging events is of course a possibility, but there’s also plenty to do if you want to break off on your own. I do, however, have a few quibbles with it. It’s fun, but it’s not perfect.

  • Event density. Due to the attack, there are only three functioning waypoints within the city itself; Canal Ward, Postern Ward, and Bloodcoast Ward. Most of the events tend to cluster in these areas. However, it feels like there are more events that happen in the Trader’s Forum area (where the Mystic Forge, bank, and trading post formerly stood), and so every time I’ve been in LA, people cluster around there and simply concentrate on defending Trader’s Forum, destroying the miasma containers there, and escorting out the children and dolyaks. Also, because so many people cluster in that area? Those two particular escort quests trigger constantly.
  • Scaling. A lot of things simply do not scale well. Try doing the ogre escort quest, for example. You can’t get credit without killing mobs. However, the ogres have a very short path they have to follow to get out, they can soak up a lot of damage, and they move fast. The mobs that spawn along the quest path are groups of about a dozen veterans each. That doesn’t scale down if you’re the only person over there, for the record, and there’s rarely more than a couple people in that area (due to the lower event density)…the ogres will run to the end before you manage to kill anything, more likely than not, and that’s if you don’t get overwhelmed and killed by the dozen vets attacking you at once.
  • Rewards. This place can be a loot-fest…if you follow the zerg and simply farm the events around Trader’s Forum. If you prefer to go off on your own and rescue civilians, though? The stuff you get for that hardly makes it worthwhile. You only get rewards for rescuing civilians once the map reaches a certain number, and everyone gets them – whether or not they were actually out rescuing citizens, or if they were just standing on the steps of the (former) bank auto-attacking everything. The amount of loot you get for that is what you’d get in about five kills. So while there’s plenty to do if you want to break out on your own…don’t be surprised if you don’t get a whole lot for it. Being as getting people out of the city is meant to be the point of this patch, I feel like you should actually be rewarded for doing so.
This used to be the Mystic Forge and the bank. Not any longer.

This used to be the Mystic Forge and the bank. Not any longer.

  • Navigating the city. As I mentioned above, there are only three functioning waypoints now. This makes sense, to an extent; it’s a warzone, and much of it has been leveled. However, this makes things difficult for a number of reasons. Due to the city being a wreck, getting from point A to point B is a hassle, as former paths no longer exist, bridges are full of holes (and they get you stuck frequently), and getting to basically any event outside of the Trader’s Forum area requires a ton of running. I’ve never even made it to the lighthouse worker escort, for example, as it starts so far away from everything that it fails long before anyone can reach it. I also find it strange that Western Ward has nothing going on, as that’s where the Aetherblade base was; that waypoint should be active, and events should be going on over there as well.
  • Bugs. This release is pretty buggy. Now, it’s a huge release, and nothing can be perfect. But some of the bugs that have been seen are just…weird. Main servers tend to break more than overflows, which is just plain strange. Civilian counters not showing up, not getting rewards for each tier of rescued civilians, miasma levels acting strangely, and so on. The oddest thing about these is that before the second patch that happened, everything was fine. It was only after the bug-fixing patch yesterday that these things started happening.
  • The timing of the event cycle. Events are triggered to enter Lion’s Arch about four minutes past the hour, every hour. The amount of time inside LA is then about 40-45 minutes, before we get kicked back out. Honestly, I feel like this is too long. I genuinely enjoy the events, but after about 25-30 minutes my interest and energy is waning and I want it to be done with, but at the same time I don’t want to just leave and miss my completion awards. I feel like having it last for 20-25 minutes, cycling every half hour, would have been better. That way it’s long enough to still accomplish a lot, while not being so long that attention spans begin to run out.
  • The new backpiece. I just. Arenanet, what is with these backpieces?! We’ve been getting so many new backpieces, and so many of them just look painfully ugly to me. I like the flowers, I liked the sun catcher set from Bazaar of the Four Winds, and I liked the holo dragon ones. These ones go straight into “DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT’ territory. They’re freaking metal spider legs. On your back. Just. Why.
And here's the shell of the trading post...

And here’s the shell of the trading post…

All that said! It’s not perfect, but I do greatly enjoy it. I’m at 14/15 on the meta achievement already; most are pretty easy to get and the dailies help greatly as well. I thought I was going to hate collecting Heirlooms, but as the piles of rubble respawn at daily reset that doesn’t make it so bad; I should be able to finish that achievement in the next day or two just lazily grabbing them as I see them. I wish the Refugee Child’s Drawings still gave karma instead of luck, but I like seeing them return; I thought they were a really cute item before. I wish Blade Shards weren’t account-bound, as I’ll never use them, but ah well, that’s what the Destroy option is for when I get fed up with them cluttering my bags. I do like how much money I was able to make simply liquidating the materials I had stored up previously, thanks to the prices on everything spiking the past few days.

And I can’t wait for the next patch. This story of the Living World is coming to an end, and I hope we finally bring the fight to Scarlet, and finish this once and for all.

Gathering: The where-to edition.

Recently I was writing about crafting ascended weapons without spending too much actual money on it. The biggest thing that makes this possible is gathering all of the components yourself.

There are many websites out there already that cover the high end gathering nodes, but when you’re crafting ascended items, you’re going to find that you need mid-tier materials in large amounts. These, previously very cheap on the trading post, are now in high demand and can add up in value quickly.

After a recent gathering run, going primarily for wood.

After a recent (quick) gathering run, going primarily for wood.

You’ll also find that frequently, it’s wood you need more than metal. Wood requires more to refine, and weapons generally require more wood components than metal. The one exception to this is iron ore, which is used for both iron and steel ingots, but it’s so plentiful that it’s rarely something to worry about.

So, pretty much what I am saying here is – go out and gather! Mid-tier mats are both plentiful and easy to gather; there are many more nodes of each type per map than of the high-level stuff, and unlike ancient wood or orichalcum, they respawn after one hour, as opposed to 24 hours. This makes it easy to build up a large stockpile of t2-t5 woods and metals, whether for your use or simply to make some money.

This is not a detailed guide saying “if you go to this area in this zone you will fix X of this type of tree”, but rather a general idea of where to go for specific types of wood and metal, based on the experiences of myself and others in my guild. One of my guild members is in particular very talented at finding great patches for farming mats (and said she’s considering writing her own guide based on that); this is just a basic guide pointing out good places to try.

Soft Wood: Gendarran Fields

800px-Gendarran_Fields_map

In particular, the eastern half of the map, as well as curving through the southwest portion, starting from Lion’s Arch up towards the portal to Queensdale.

You also can collect large amounts of iron ore here.

Runner up: Snowden Drifts

Seasoned Wood: Dredgehaunt Cliffs

458px-Dredgehaunt_Cliffs_map

It’s a large zone, but patches of trees tend to be clustered fairly close together. Enemy density is also low everywhere but the very southern areas, which makes it easy to run from node to node.

This is another zone where iron ore is also plentiful.

Runner up: Blazeridge Steppes

Hard Wood: Sparkfly Fen

445px-Sparkfly_Fen_map

Sparkfly is a zone that has a significant amount of water, and right now it is generally highly populated because of Tequatl. I love this zone for gathering, though; there are several places where I’ve found clusters of trees, and Sparkfly is a great place for also gathering platinum ore. Gathering is a great way to kill time while waiting for Tequatl!

Runner up: Bloodtide Coast, Iron Marches

Elder Wood: Any of the high level zones – Straits of Devastation, Fireheart Rise, Malchor’s Leap, Cursed Shore, Frostgorge Sound

Malchor’s has one spot in particular where there tends to be a cluster of trees around a statue. All of these zones are a good source of mithril ore; Straits and Fireheart will also contain hard wood and platinum, while Malchor’s, Cursed Shore, and Frostgorge are where you’ll find ancient wood and orichalcum ore.

The BEST (in my opinion) gathering zone in the game: Mount Maelstrom

20121021181549!Mount_Maelstrom_map

I love Mount Maelstrom. It’s a large zone with a high density of events, and I’ve also found it to be an amazing place, if not the best, for gathering. Now, you won’t find everything you need here, but what you can find here is in large supply. Hard wood, elder wood, platinum ore, mithril ore…there are multiple areas in the north-eastern part of the map where you will find many trees and ore nodes clustered close together. This zone also contains what we like to call the vanilla patch; four herb nodes just south of Crucible of Eternity that give vanilla beans at a high rate; the herb patches in general in this zone tend to be heavy on the vanilla. We’ve also found at least two rich platinum veins here.

Mount Maelstrom is, hands down, my favorite place for gathering.

If you haven’t been gathering the lower-end mats, or haven’t been too sure where the best places to look are, give these locations a try. Or if you do gather runs of your own and know of other good places to look. share those as well! But thanks to ascended crafting, these items are well worth taking the time to collect.

Happy gathering!

Assault on the Arbor

Later today, we’ll get the latest of the Living Story updates, Twilight Assault, where a new evil has moved into a known Nightmare hideout…

Okay, so, I am something of a sylvari fangirl, as has been evident from before I even started this blog. They have been my very favorite race since they were first announced, and they remain so. When the Living Story began, I had been just waiting for us to get some sylvari story involved in it, and Scarlet became my favorite new character introduced essentially immediately. I had been hoping that she had been one of the missing Firstborn; sadly she is not, but her backstory is still immensely interesting.

Suffice to say, getting the chance to preview this patch had me very excited. Scarlet has decided to move into Twilight Arbor, making it her new base of operations, and Caithe and the Lionguard both want to track her down and root her out. This patch is going to follow in the footsteps of Tequatl Rising, in that it introduces massive, permanent changes to the game, and in particular the Twilight Arbor dungeon.

Party 1This patch introduces a new dungeon path to Twilight Arbor, but the number of explorable paths remains at three total. The Forward/Up path in TA has always been pretty widely regarded as bugged, if not completely broken (those spiders at the end…shudder), and Scarlet’s new path will be replacing F/U entirely. Scarlet’s path is intended for level 80, whereas the rest of TA’s explorable paths are still at level 55, so this required some change in the dungeon’s initial entrances, as obviously the previous method of picking which path you want to do would not work here. When you enter, you’ll encounter Caithe talking to a Lionguard, and you can talk to her and choose to either go after Scarlet, or take on the other dangers of the Arbor.

It’s worth noting that Caithe states that she has her own reasons for wanting to go after Scarlet. Caithe has always been a dark and secretive one, so that just makes me curious if there is history there between the two that hasn’t yet been revealed.

Deciding to track down Scarlet opens a path for you to follow, and shortly after entering it you are boosted back up to level 80. The initial areas are not so different from the usual Twilight Arbor dangers that we are all used to – volatile blossoms, and Nightmare Hounds, Husks, and Vines to fight. But things do change rather quickly, and it becomes apparent that something twisted is going on here.

Sometimes you see things like this.

Sometimes you see things like this.

As this dungeon path was worked on by the groups that did the Molten Facility and Aetherblade Retreat, there will be similarities between those two dungeons and this path. However, one thing I noticed fairly quickly is that there are more puzzle-like elements involved here that will require a lot more group coordination than either of those dungeons did…or that most dungeons in the game require, really. As someone who runs dungeons regularly, I am pleased by this. I like content that requires a fair amount of coordination (and the entire strategy doesn’t focus on a single broken skill, like Tequatl does). At the same time, it doesn’t look like it’s anything that will be terribly difficult; just things that will require people to communicate with each other and coordinate what they’re doing.

One such example of this was a room that contained a sort of maze of fire; through this maze you had to lead a pair of oozes to the opposite side to open the doors, while keeping them out of the fire and keeping them from getting killed by lava elementals. Both oozes needed to get to the end at about the same time, and they were also hostile enemies; AOE attacks could kill them, and they can do devastating attacks if you get too close to them. You also have to watch out for certain enemy types once you start finding Twisted Nightmares; certain ones will set off an alarm until they die, calling in more enemies. Leaving them alive for too long will quickly turn a fight from “we can do this” to “OH GOD WHAT’S HAPPENING WE’RE ALL DOOMED”.

"This job's easy. When Scarlet says to kill, you kill. When she says 'I'm bored', you hide."

“This job’s easy. When Scarlet says to kill, you kill. When she says ‘I’m bored’, you hide.”

We didn’t get to see much of the dungeon in the preview; it was just a taste of what things were going to be, and it only went to the first boss fight. This first boss fight, by the way, looks to be an immense amount of fun; you get to fight two interesting characters known as Sparki (an asura in a suit similar to the bosses at the end of Molten Facility) and Slick (a norn reminiscent of Mai Trin’s lackey at the end of Aetherblade Retreat). The fight itself is another that requires a fair amount of coordination between players; it reminds me with a less intense version of the Molten Facility end fight combined with the mechanics from the Ghost Eater fight in Ascalonian Catacombs.

WIthin the dungeon, of course, there are other new things. There are, for example, aetherized versions of the usual Twilight Arbor weapons, which have a blue glow and are a rare drop from enemies in this new path. There are also aether key pieces, which you can collect; five of them will combine into a key that can open chests found in Twilight Arbor. And, as ever, there are new sets of achievements to earn, along with new rewards to be gained from them – a backpiece and a mini are up for grabs this time around.

This sylvari-loving dungeon runner? Cannot wait to get her hands on this patch and be able to dive in and play through the new dungeon path. My interest has been piqued, and I’m looking forward to digging up more about Scarlet as well as learning this new path, as this one is here to stay!

Crafted ascension

So as it turns out, life has kept me a bit busy. I didn’t really spend any time with Super Adventure Box, and I’ve yet to defeat Tequatl. But there is one thing I’ve been working on from the recent patches, and that is ascended crafting.

I haven’t yet crafted any ascended weapons, though several of my guild members have. I simply do not have loads of money or materials to throw at it. I mean, I suppose I could blitz my way through, but I have all of my t6 mats collected prior to the patch with ascended crafting hidden safely away on a low-level alt. I’ve got a legendary in the works, after all, and while I’ve placed that project on hiatus, I’ve no intention to lose any of my progress.

Instead, today I finally broke 450 in Artificer and was able to start crafting the ascended components that will eventually turn into a staff for my guardian. It’s been a bit slow – over two weeks to get from 400 to 450, but I’ve been in no particular rush to get my crafting leveled up. Instead, I’ve been doing it at a steady rate – doing gathering for my dailies in Frostgorge Sound and Malchor’s Leap to collect ancient wood and orichalcum ore and then spending my laurels on the heavy crafting material bags for t6 materials. I refined my way to 425, using the wood and ori gathered each day. Once I hit 425, I started crafting exotic weapons, continuing my daily gathering runs and spending of laurels on t6 materials.

Pushing my way to 425 turned out to take up most of the time, as getting from 425 to 450 took under a week, whereas getting from 400 to 425 took around a week and a half. I could have sped up that process greatly, of course; I was only doing gathering runs on one character, while if I had the time and attention span to do so I could have run all of my level 80s (all eight of them) through Malchor’s and likely had that done in a couple of days.

I'm kind of curious exactly who Hronk is...

I’m kind of curious exactly who Hronk is…

I could have also probably gotten to 450 much faster without spending any money. I’m an impatient person sometimes, and I wound up dropping about 20g on ancient wood. Ancient wood is a personal annoyance; I had to collect two stacks of planks for Kudzu, which meant six stacks of ancient wood logs. Then, at least, it was cheap. Now, though, it’s in high demand (it takes more raw to refine, and artificer takes way more wood than metal), and ori nodes tend to outnumber ancient wood nodes on the high level maps. Ancient wood is expensive.

Ascended crafting has had another effect, which is to make the mid-tier materials suddenly gain value. You can’t get away with just farming the high level areas if you want to make an ascended weapon; you will need to farm every part of Tyria. I like this, personally. It’s fun to find areas that are good for certain materials, and since you need everything from tier 2 to tier 5, you can literally farm anywhere in the world that you wish. Personally, I like northeast Blazeridge Steppes for seasoned wood (that is where I farmed it for Kudzu), and I’ve been told that Snowden Drifts is a great place for soft wood. Mount Maelstrom is an all-around good place to farm, as you can get hard wood, elder wood, platinum ore, and mithril ore there; I’ve also found that it’s a good map to farm for vanilla beans.

Once you hit 450 in your crafting profession, you are now met by time-gating – the elder spirit residue and mithrillium are limited to one a day. To many people, this is an annoyance. As ascended weapons are account-bound and cannot be sold, I fail to see the logic behind it, myself. However, I find myself not minding it too terribly much – if you’re taking your time at it like I am, this leaves you time to farm up the required t2-t5 wood and metal.

Ascended crafting is something still new, and can seem like it might be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Take your time, and you’ll have a shiny weapon in no time. Not as fast as those who decided they were going to make sure they had one as quickly as possible, but even if you’re limited on play time, or simply don’t have the attention span to farm a lot, it still doesn’t have to be out of your reach!

Back to school!

It’s time for another Guild Wars 2 patch, and this latest one brings with it the return of this year’s April Fool’s joke, the Super Adventure Box! Under the Pale Tree was able to preview the new content and, well…SAB is back and just as entertainingly nostalgic as before. Or, really, I’d say even more so…

I love the wallpaper they released for it, btw. It's so cheerfully insane. Much like SAB itself is...

I love the wallpaper they released for it, btw. It’s so cheerfully insane. Much like SAB itself is…

Starting out, things will seem familiar, but there are some changes. The first thing you’ll notice is that the hub functions differently than it did before. When SAB was originally released, you had to form up your party in Rata Sum before entering the hub itself; now the hub is a larger, more public map, where parties can be formed. From there, you can decide to visit World 1 (the one that was available to us back in April – and yes, you may want to check it out again, but more on that later), or World 2, which we got a taste of before but now we can fully explore and participate in.

Also the 8-bit style music will be there to get stuck in your head forever. Again.

Once you have your party formed up (everything is solo-able, as before, if so you wish!), and you pick your world, you have another choice – difficulty! The happy cloud for Infantile mode is back, as well as a “normal” mode. We have a new one this time around, though – Tribulation mode. That’s the angry storm cloud. I’ll go into that a bit more later on, but suffice to say – Tribulation mode will not be easy. It’s designed to be ridiculously difficult.

I am fully expecting my guild’s ventrilo server to be full of profanities as people tackle Tribulation mode.

So, let’s talk about World 2. We’ve played the first level, as a sort of preview, at the end before, after defeating the boss. Well, World 2 is a nostalgia blast for two reasons. First, the obvious fact that it’s an homage to the video games of many of our childhoods. Second…have you played Guild Wars 1? Well. World 2 will be very familiar to you. It’s very much a Canthan-inspired world. And that includes the Assassins. They’re less of the GW1-style assassins that the thief profession is based on, and more like…standard ninja assassins. They will jump out and attack you, and when you defeat them…poof, you find a wood log on the ground. Because ninjas never really die, right?

It's full of rainbows!

It’s full of rainbows!

World 2 introduces some new mechanics and gameplay elements, along with the new setting. There are flowers that will act similar to the launch platforms that we’ve seen in the Dragon Ball arena and Aetherblade hideout, helping you get a bit more distance. New traps include clouds that will collapse and poison dart traps – those you really want to watch out for, as they hurt! Also, watch the trees. They can contain stealth owls, and these owls will rob you blind given a chance.

World 2 also has much more in terms of actual puzzles to it than World 1 did, which is something I’m looking forward to getting to play with. One that we saw was a giant octopus on a scale; to balance the scale you had to feed the octopus pirahnas from a nearby pool. There are also ones that involve clever use of terrain and objects to avoid those pesky poison darts. And never fret – the puzzles will scale to your party size. If you’re alone, you’ll be just as fine as if you’re with a full party of five members. Hidden shops are also back, with a new item – a whistle. It has a few different tunes that can be played, each that have a different effect – try it and find out how it works!

So. All that said. Onto Tribulation mode! Tribulation is meant to be hard. It’s not for everyone. I suspect it may not even be for me. It’s made for the insanely hardcore people who want to find the most difficult challenge they can and defeat it. It’s Nintendo Hard. It’s I Wanna be the Guy hard.

This IWTBTG screen is surprisingly accurate for what Tribulation mode is like.

This IWBTG screen is surprisingly accurate for what Tribulation mode is like.

One of the catchphrases for the X-Files was “Trust no one”. Tribulation mode’s motto is similar – trust nothing. Everything in it is out to get you, and nothing pulls punches. Prepare to get killed a lot. There are spikes everywhere. Angry clouds that get in your way. Invisible pits of doom. Murderous checkpoints. Homicidal directional hands. Thwomp-style boulders.

You’ll even want to be wary of those happy, innocent-looking flowers. They can be quite a blast if you’re not careful.

In Tribulation mode, you’ll want to think of your lives as your health bar. You’ll need to be careful. You’ll need to have patience. And you’ll need a good memory to find your path through. One wrong step will result in a painful (yet hilarious) death. You cannot carry party members through this, either. There are more checkpoints added, but everyone must reach the checkpoint to activate it – and if you die, you are not sent to the next checkpoint, but the previous one. If you want to get through this, you have to put in the work yourself.

And this, by the way, is why you’ll want to revisit World 1. Tribulation mode, you see, has a reward of it’s own – variants on the original Super Weapon skins, in different colors. You can only get them by completing Tribulation mode. It’s a true way to say “yeah, I’m awesome” when you’ve got a green Super Greatsword and everyone else has blue. It’s a way to stand out.

Super Axe = YES!

Super Axe = YES!

Speaking of the Super weapons, we’ll be seeing nine new weapon skins. Personally I’m going to be wanting to get my hands on the axe. My warrior uses axe/shield as her primary weapon set, and already has the Super Shield. The Mystic Axe is a decent match…but Super Axe must be mine!

There are a number of other things coming with this new patch hitting today – the death of Magic Find as a stat, Ascended crafting, and legendary updates. Those, however, have already been covered in an ArenaNet blog post, and I’ll post my own thoughts on them after the patch comes. Super Adventure Box is definitely the biggest focus, and many people have been asking to get to return to that bit of madness since it left at the end of April. Now, we have our chance!

Now, I need to go save baubles for that axe…

A Year of Guild Wars 2!

So, Guild Wars 2 just turned a year old, and as that landmark passes, it’s neat to reflect on the game, how it’s changed, and how it’s changed me as I play it.

I started as, frankly, a very casual player of MMOs.  My interests lie more in the direction of action/adventure than… well… bothering with other people.  I’d dabbled in WoW and TOR with friends, but there were a great many issues with the very core of the gameplay that kept the genre from really grabbing me.  However, the very little bit (only a few days really) of Guild Wars that I had played felt different, different enough for me to take interest in the prospect of Guild Wars 2.

Dragons  The dragons helped.

As the game loomed closer, I planned out my characters.  My main would be an Elementalist asura named Zott who primarily used lightning, and I would try a norn Ranger.  A charr Warrior and a sylvari Necromancer would follow.  I decided to add a human, in the interest of rounding out the races, and figured this throwaway character without a planned name would be a Thief.

Headstart opened, I furiously created all my characters to secure their names, and that unassuming Thief got an old standby, Rhys, and a spur-of-the-moment surname, Elmbrier.  He’d be something to turn to when I wanted a break from the ones I actually cared about.  Just to play around and relax.

Long story short, 12 months later Rhys is my only level 80, and that first asura, norn, and sylvari are no more.

RhysProgressIt’s been a long road, Rhys.

My girlfriend told me to join her guild, which I was fine with being a part of as long as I didn’t have to interact with the other guild members.  I’m not very social, and with my prior MMO experiences I had no intention of dealing with a bunch of jerkish, game-obsessed twits.

TWITsLittle did I know…

Yeah, that changed too.  She coaxed me onto Vent with them, and after my initial shyness, I consider my guildmates some of my best friends.  Meeting up with a bunch of them at PAX East this year was an amazing experience, and it sounds really sappy when I say it like this, but Guild Wars 2 did in fact change my life.

For the game itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the outset, but previous experience suggested a massive world with things of interest stretched out a great distance from each other.  GW2 quickly showed me I was wrong on that count: It was in fact a massive world with things of interest so densely packed that it’s a wonder the zones weren’t bursting at the seams.  Every crossroad, every hill, every half-hidden cave entrance promised – and delivered – something new, interesting, and rewarding to find.  I fell in love with exploring Tyria, and even with my dedication to discovery, I only achieved map completion a couple weeks ago.

Of course, map completion was part of the greatest lunacy I’ve committed in this game: The forging of a Legendary weapon.  Me, a casual player who despised grind, slowly but surely working toward creating an item that takes hours and hours of dedicated effort and so many hundreds of bits of defeated animals.  I’ve got a long way to go – apparently I’m about 27% done – but I will have my Quip eventually.

And how has the game itself fared?  In my opinion, it’s only gotten better and better.  Southsun was a good idea with imperfect execution, but now that the living story updates are chugging along reliably, Clockwork Chaos is my favorite event to date.  The world really does feel alive, and it really does feel like we players are affecting it.  Tyria is huge, but I only want more.  I’m looking at you, Deldrimor Front…

As someone who didn’t know what to expect a year ago, and was blown away by what I found, I can only say that I’m eagerly looking forward to what will come from the second year of Guild Wars 2.

A year by numbers

So, I’m not going to lie, this post idea was blatantly “borrowed” from Lis, who recently made a very similar post. But really, it’s kind of a neat idea – seeing just how much you’ve done and how much time has been spent on various characters throughout the game.

I spent some time going through all of my characters and doing a bit of number crunching this morning, and here are my results.

Number of level 80s: 8

Yup. I have one of each profession. I hadn’t originally set out to do this (I wasn’t too into necromancer at first, having disliked the profession in GW1, and I had utterly no interest in engineer at all), but it wound up happening after all. Surprisingly, necro has become one of the professions I like the best.

The grown-ups.

The grown-ups.

In order of hitting level 80:

  • Liusaidh, sylvari mesmer. Played for 781 hours and 22 minutes, 12 months old, 45% of my playtime. Will soon be the wielder of Bifrost.
  • Rosheen, sylvari guardian. Played for 203 hours and 45 minutes, 12 months old, 12% of my playtime.
  • Janan Savitri, human thief. Played for 119 hours and 42 minutes, 12 months old, 7% of my playtime.
  • Ragna Blazefur, charr elementalist. Played for 64 hours and 9 minutes, 12 months old, 4% of my playtime.
  • Brynja Rabbitfoot, norn ranger. Played for 191 hours and 55 minutes, 12 months old. 11% of my playtime. Wielder of Kudzu.
  • Carella, human necromancer. Played for 141 hours and 27 minutes, 11 months old. 8% of my playtime.
  • Glynha, sylvari warrior. Played for 77 hours and 35 minutes, 5 months old. 4% of my playtime.
  • Searlaith, sylvari engineer. Played for 71 hours and 36 minutes, 9 months old. 4% of my playtime.

Number of sub 80 characters: 6.

I like making characters, what can I say. A few of these have been deleted and remade a few times – Katta started out as a warrior and one of my original characters made during headstart, but I couldn’t stand playing an asura warrior. Alianah was originally a ranger, but I wanted to remake her to look different and decided that hey, new necro! Deirvhile exists solely for crafting purposes. And Astrid got to use a scroll of experience which is why her playtime does not match her levels at all.

The babies.

The babies.

In order of age:

  • Deirvhile, sylvari thief. Level 20. Played for 9 hours and 35 minutes, 9 months old. .5% of my playtime.
  • Haneul Nae, human mesmer. Level 22. Played for 19 hours and 25 minutes, 6 months old. 1% of my playtime.
  • Alianah, sylvari necromancer. Level 10. Played for 6 hours and 37 minutes, 3 months old. .4% of my playtime.
  • Suvi Liina, norn mesmer. Level 5. Played for 3 hours and 19 minutes, 3 months old. .2% of my playtime.
  • Katta, asura elementalist. Level 19. Played for 12 hours and 9 minutes, 3 months old. .7% of my playtime.
  • Astrid Cheval, human guardian. Level 26. Played for 6 hours and 43 minutes, 2 months old. .4% of my playtime.

Total time played: 1736 hours over the past 12 months.

That averages out to about 144.67 hours per month, or 33.4 hours per week, or about 4.73 hours per day. Which…well, I’ve definitely had my marathon days where I had nothing else to do so I spent all of my time in-game. I’ve also had my ups and downs though, and in particular had a patch recently where I’d log in long enough to do my dailies, or not log in at all. What can I say, life can be busy.

Number of legendaries created: 1.

I made Kudzu back in March, and have written all about it previously. I am currently working on Bifrost and have reached a point where I just need to save up massive amounts of money or hope I get lucky; all that is remaining is some t6 mats, the icy runestones, and of course the precursor. I’m just really hoping that precursor crafting comes in sooner rather than later, especially as the mystic forge is proving to not be my friend here.

(sidenote about that: I’ve spent about 150g on exotic staves to throw in there in hopes that it’ll spit out the Legend. It’s given me Imryldyeen twice now. Yeah, you know, that staff that has the same skin as the Legend. The game is actively taunting me now.)

Achievement points: 7942

If I actually get some time to play in the next couple of days, I should be getting that 8000 point chest very soon. I’ve been working on finishing up the Explorer category recently, finding the little mini-dungeons and such scattered around. I’ve also got almost all of the jump puzzles completed…but the ones I haven’t done I think will likely stay that way. Jump puzzles aren’t my thing.

Titles: 21

Many of those are from the Hall of Monuments, which I have 45 points in, making me a Legend of the Mists. The title I wear the most is Dungeon Master. At least one character is currently a Respected Achiever. I do not have all of the Living Story titles, as they either required a level of grind I was not interested in (Super Adventure Box), or luck that I do not have (Sanctum Sprint).

Number of characters descended from Guild Wars 1 characters: Three. Janan Savitri is the descendent of Farai Savitri, my dervish (who was also my main in GW1). Haneul Nae is the descendent of Iseul Nae, my ritualist. Astrid Cheval is the descendent of Lucia Cheval, my mesmer (well, one of them).

And Liusaidh is…unintentionally named after Lucia (Liusaidh being the Scottish form of Lucia). Both are mesmers. Both are redheads. None of that was planned out…but while Liusaidh and Lucia are obviously not related to each other in any way…there’s some similarities there.

Favorite race: GEE I WONDER.

Favorite profession: …again. I wonder what that could be.

Amount of money spent on armor: Holy crap I don’t even want to think about it. I’ve bought two full sets of t3 armor (sylvari light and sylvari medium), another set worth of various pieces of t3 scattered around three characters (includes human medium and sylvari heavy), and more sets of t1 and t2 armor than I could keep track of.

Amount of fun I’ve had: …can you really measure that?

And to finish off, because it cracks me up every time I look at it, have a screenshot of a sylvari with a giant chicken.

"So, um...what do I do with this thing?"

“So, um…what do I do with this thing?”

Birthday

Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s already the end of August, nearly a full year after Guild Wars 2 came out. On one hand, it’s a case of “has it really been a year already?” and on the other…”has it really only been a year?”

I remember how, at this time last year, the excitement for launch was through the roof. Headstart was only a couple of days away, with the official launch only a couple more after that. The night of headstart, I remember sitting on ventrilo with several other members of my guild, everyone hammering on the “log in” button for the game client, since it had been teased that the game would possibly go live a few hours early. The flurry of excitement and cheering when we finally got in. And then the dead silence as everyone hurriedly made their characters and locked in their names.

Those are fond memories, and that initial rush of “OHMYGODTHEGAMEISLIVE” is something that we’ll never see again.

Liusaidh, my main, having just been created.

Liusaidh, my main, having just been created.

Of course, there were issues that night (and the first few days of release). The lag was so bad that I crashed multiple times just trying to get my baby mesmer (my main) through the sylvari starting instance. Guilds wound up breaking so that leaders would show that they weren’t in a guild, and could not receive invites. It took weeks for the trading post to finally be up and running full-time. Parties broke frequently and trying to get everyone in the same overflow (yes, this was when all of the starter zones always had overflows and you could cheat the lack of guesting with this) could be dicey.

But no game launches perfectly, and all things considered…the problems were ironed out quickly.

The very first night of headstart, a few of us decided to take a trip to Orr. We were all low-level – as in, under level 5. But hey, why not! It was a completely ridiculous and, to be fully honest, rather terrifying thing to do. Things could one-shot us with a glance. I know that those of us that did it amused everyone else on vent with our panicking at enemies seeing us. We didn’t quite make it – I got lost somewhere in Sparkfly Fen and was eaten by the champion risen megalodon. But it was a lot of fun.

Liusaidh, level 3, in Sparkfly Fen.

Liusaidh, level 3, in Sparkfly Fen.

We tried it again a bit later, when we were all a bit higher in level. We made it all the way to Lone Post Waypoint in Straits of Devastation before we simply could not get any further. We were slightly disappointed at this fact…as we did not realize at the time that Straits was part of Orr. Now, because of this, low-level Orr runs has become something of a guild tradition.

I have a lot of screenshots from that excursion, but this is one of my favorites. Running like hell with broken armor sums up things well.

I have a lot of screenshots from that excursion, but this is one of my favorites. Running like hell with broken armor sums up things well.

Within those first few weeks, we did a lot. Leveling our characters. Exploring zones. Testing out different things (one of my favorites was meeting up with Opt in a zone and him asking me to stand at the bottom of a cliff so he could see if Death Shroud would let him survive the fall. It didn’t). Starting the story mode dungeons. Doing jump puzzles. Dabbling in crafting. Dancing anywhere and everywhere.

After completing Griffonrook Run...THIS WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE SCREENSHOTS.

After completing Griffonrook Run…THIS WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE SCREENSHOTS.

You’ll notice that in most of these screenshots, I’m with other people. This game has done something that no game has ever done before – make me actually enjoy and want to play with others. I’m not a social person by any means. I am a very quiet, shy, reserved introvert most of the time. But through a combination of chance and luck, I’ve made an amazing group of friends because of this game. My guild is amazing, and several of the members – my co-leaders and several of the officers – have become such good friends that not having them in my life is a bleak thought, and I am so very grateful that I have met them.

Time went on in the game. New content was added – Halloween, the Lost Shores (good in theory, fell short in execution), Wintersday, and then we reached 2013. With the new patch in January, Flame and Frost, we began to see a new story take shape, and to see what ArenaNet was planning on doing. The Living Story has gradually picked up speed over the months, now going to a biweekly update, and the quality has only increased as time has gone on.

Guesting was finally added, though imperfectly – it is limited to servers on the same data center, which means no NA-EU guesting. I keep up hope that one day that will be added in. Fractals were added, similar to dungeons, and with it came Ascended gear. Guild missions became a thing. Several updates have been made to dungeons themselves. A good number of quality of life changes have gone in (first dungeon tokens becoming account bound rather than character bound, and then the removal of physical tokens in favor of the account wallet, rotations for dailies, rewarding of karma for dailies, guaranteed rewards for meta events, champion kills, and dungeons), each making things just a bit better.

In the past year, I’ve leveled up 8 characters to 80 – one of each profession. I’ve crafted the legendary longbow Kudzu for my ranger. I am currently in the process of crafting the staff, Bifrost, for my mesmer. I’ve completed Master Crafter and Dungeon Master. I’ve spent far too much money on armor (I have two full sets of T3 cultural, and a third worth of pieces scattered across various characters). I enjoy theory-crafting various builds and then seeing how well they work in practice (my favorite was being told my engineer build was “just so crazy it might work”…it works quite well!).

Back in March I was able to attend PAX East, which was an amazing time for so many reasons. It was the first out of state convention I was able to attend. It was a nice vacation. Several members of [TWIT] also went and we all got to meet up and spend the weekend hanging out in person. And we also managed to spend time with two ANet devs, Jonathon Sharp and Jon Peters.

:D

:D

Needless to say, this past year has been great, both in-game and out of it, and I can only look forward to what the next year(s) will bring!

 

Jubilee

The biweekly update schedule for Guild Wars 2 continues, with the newest patch, the Queen’s Jubilee, having gone live this week. And, well, remember how a few weeks ago I had said that the Bazaar of the Four Winds had been the best patch yet?

Well. The Jubilee has replaced that, I think.

I’m really enjoying this patch so far, and there’s a good number of reasons why. The first is the quality of life changes that were added, the biggest of those being the account wallet. Now, I run dungeons a lot. I just got my 7500 achievement point chest last night. I do fractals on occasion. And I have a lot of alts.

What this meant before was that I had far too much bank space being taken up by tokens, badges, and relics. Shifting money from character to character for big purchases was time-consuming and annoying. I had karma on low-level alts that was basically useless for them.

Now, none of that is a problem any longer.

If you have a glut of badges of honor, by the way, you can use them to outfit characters with exotics for not a huge amount of money.

If you have a glut of badges of honor, by the way, you can use them to outfit characters with exotics for not a huge amount of money.

All of your gold, karma, laurels, badges, glory, tokens, and relics will now will be contained in this wallet, that can be accessed from either the bottom of your inventory window or the hero panel. Yeah, you have to log into each character for their loot to be deposited (items in your bank are added automatically), but the result is that you never have to scramble around for gold or worry about bank tabs being taken up by tokens or anything of the like. And as the items are no longer physical items, there’s no stack limits to worry about.

My one quibble is that there is no longer any way to deposit money in the bank, which means that it’s harder to set aside money and just not spend it, since you always have all of your cash on hand at all times. But ultimately, it’s a minor quibble. The wallet is otherwise amazing and I’m glad it’s there.

Balloons and Watchknights!

Balloons and Watchknights!

So I haven’t even really gotten into the meat of the patch yet. Queen Jennah is celebrating 10 years on the throne of Kryta, and everyone is invited to the party! But this is no usual party, and most of the celebration consists of killing lots and lots of things. It kicks off with a story instance in Divinity’s Reach…which, personally, I loved. A number of familiar characters have returned (Rox! <3), there’s a good amount of sass from the NPCs, and it’s just plain fun to participate in.

All across Tyria are balloons that can bring you to Divinity’s Reach for free. Each balloon has a chest, and there’s events going on associated with each – whether it’s defeating a champion of Jennah’s, escorting an emissary, or fighting off an Aetherblade attack. These events happen very frequently, which I really enjoy.

Once in Divinity’s Reach, there are a few new events to participate in. One is the Crown Pavilion, and another is the Queen’s Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a series of opponents you fight against, but I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I can’t say much about it. The Pavilion is essentially one huge arena split into six areas, each having a different common enemy type. Here, you can fight and kill veterans to your heart’s content (seriously – nearly everything in here is a vet), as well as participate in events where you have to defeat an enemy of Legendary difficulty. It’s great if you want something to do with a group, and it really highlights another change that was brought in with this patch.

Yes, the champion loot. Champs used to guarantee nothing, then an item of blue or better quality. Now, when you kill a champion (or legendary) enemy, you get a loot bag – different enemy types carry different bags. These bags contain karma, money, and other various items – ranging from skill points, crafting materials, and gear – including new weapons with unique skins.

Tied to that is another new change that I especially love. When you run dungeons, the normal money reward you used to get for killing bosses has been removed, and replaced with the champion loot bags. On top of that, you now get a straight gold reward at the end of the dungeon, ranging from 1 to 3 gold. Now, I love dungeons. I definitely prefer them to fractals. But previously the rewards from them simply were not worth it most of the time. Now, you know that you’re always going to get a set amount of money, on top of tokens, on top of champ bags, on top of all of the other loot you get. Suddenly they are far more rewarding.

I have never finished a meta-achievement this fast. And I still want more.

I have never finished a meta-achievement this fast. And I still want more.

As a side note, I feel like drop rates in general have been tweaked a bit; maybe it’s the fact that we’re simply fighting more things right now, but it feels like enemies are dropping more loot.

I feel like the new content added to this patch are things that will keep people occupied with that content for the entirety of the patch. Ravious wrote a bit about it earlier today, saying how it goes back to the core of what Guild Wars 2 play is about – events in the world – and I agree. There are meta-achievements, of course, but the basis of essentially everything you do for it is events, and the events are frequent. It succeeds in spreading people into zones they normally wouldn’t go to, for the balloon events, and with the rewards being as good as they are, keeps people playing.

Also, I must say, the way of handling the meta-achievement this time is pure genius. Dailies now contain one Jubilee achievement, and these count towards the meta-achievement. You, in fact, need to complete at least three of these to finish the meta; and if you don’t have a ton of time, just by doing dailies you’ll be able to complete it without any problems. Brilliant idea, and I hope it’s one that they stick with.

The past few patches have definitely increased in quality with each one, and it’s a trend I’m hopeful will continue. The next patch we’ll find out about next week on Tuesday…and do note that the game’s birthday is coming up at the end of the month, in just a few short weeks. I wonder if we’ll finally find out what they intend to do for their anniversary?