GW2: Wading in the Cesspool of Hotjoin sPvP

Death is temporary, dolyaks are forever...

The other day, I queued up for my first ever solo queue sPvP match.

I ended that game with a stunning realization that I (almost, kinda, as of this moment anyway) preferred hotjoins.

Oh, the game wasn’t that bad. It was actually 5 vs 5 players, not 5 vs 4. It ended up 450-500, not in my team’s favor.

I tried a necro vs necro duel on a side point, which was damnably evenly matched, until I somehow no-idea-how managed to down him, whereupon I struggled with the finishing stage between having some 1000 hp left with his flesh golem still after me – not daring to even get close or within LOS, trying to wait out my heal’s recharge – and made an error in judgement, which resulted me falling over while he was at 1/5 downed hp remaining and both of us out of sight range of the other – except his danged flesh golem was still up and mine wasn’t, so he got to revive and I didn’t.

Then I tried it again, except a teammate came to his rescue while mine were nowhere in sight, so fleeing was the better part of valor.

And ended up just team vs team duking it out in the center trying to off the opposing team faster than me or mine got offed.

But what I ended up taking home from that experience, besides the fact that solo queue wasn’t the devil after all and that I might do it again when I’m in the right mood and frame of mind with plenty of time to kill, is that it was SLOW.

Before you even get to the match, you have to queue up and wait.

I waited for three minutes out in the Heart of the Mists, steadily going out of my mind with boredom, threw up my hands and got into a hotjoin game which was pretty exciting for 4+ minutes when my queue popped and I was faced with the prospect of giving up a nice and easy ~540 rank points for a 1000 or bust (300) gamble, with the odds against me (since I’m sure I lack the experience to contribute as much as a veteran sPvPer.)

Then the match itself seems to be a more measured strategy chess match, where players actually stay on points and defend them with bunker builds, and 5 vs 5 tends to yield slower paced skirmishes of 1-3 players a side only. Between that and having more competent players on average taking the game format seriously, the match drags on much longer than a hotjoin would.

And suddenly, the prospective reward of 1000 rank points for a win doesn’t look as attractive in comparison to the time spent to -maybe- get it.

Of course, this boils down to what exactly your goal is in sPvP.

If you’re a warrior – a competitive sort that’s looking for an evenly matched “good fight” where you can test your individual skills and build against a controlled number of opponents (1-3 preferably, where you have a realistic chance of winning if you’re good to very good), solo or team queues are probably your ideal cup of tea.

Many PvPers, I suspect, fall into this category, hence the heralding of the game format as the pinnacle to strive toward and hotjoin derided as a cesspool of filth.

If you’re a soldier – the sort who prefers working in unison to achieve a goal and doesn’t mind taking directions and supporting the team, you’d probably prefer team queue or be out in WvW already, assuming your server hasn’t fallen in population to the point of WvW league failure.

(Quite a number of PvPers have both warriors and soldiers in ‘em, so don’t take it as a dichotomy, more of a description of preferences.)

I’ve seven team tournaments on my non-PvPer belt, six of which were won. How?

I walked in as a guild team. Some of my guildies are more serious PvPers, but when they do a guild PvP event, they inclusively take in any old rabble, including me.

I’m not competitive, I’m not much of a PvPer, but I do try to use a meta build (could be outdated, who knows) due to my interest in performing at least decently if not 100% optimally, and I do have something of a soldier mindset, which lets me appreciate aspects of WvW.

The guild tells me to stick with so-and-so and follow him around. I do so. We go to a point. We sit on it.

I do my best to support, control, and help my teammate(s), and let them do the all the  communication stuff of sending a more competent roamer to one point or another to adjust the odds of battle. I only leave the point when they tell me or in a pinch, when it looks like no one else can respond in time. I try my best not to die, and since I’ve only brought a guardian and necro to sPvP, I’m conveniently rarely the primary target and when I am, well, both classes are designed to be annoyingly tanky and my innate tank nature loves being a frickin’ nuisance that way.

There was one memorable match where the guild’s team were down to 4 and had apparently just lost a match to a premade team when they went in with an extra pug that wasn’t on voice comms. Then they asked around on guildchat if anyone wanted in, and I decided what the heck, I need the experience, right?

And sidled my way in, warning them that I was pretty much a noob to team PvP. I had no mic either, and always just listen.

We ended up facing the exact same premade team. The prematch chat was very civil, praising the pug guardian as ‘very annoying.’ Then they asked about why the delay for the queue. “Oh, we brought a guildie in,” was the offhanded reply.

Good lord, the pressure, right?

The match was so lopsided it wasn’t even in question at any time. In our favor.

We sent three (me included) to the center point, two to our home point and just sat there. Repelling all comers.

1-3 would come by to the center, our leader would call a target, and they’d just fall over dead eventually. It was probably one of those coincidences of well synergized builds again that managed to counter the opposing team’s, but I don’t know what their reaction was in their own team’s communication channels when the final scoreboard came up and they saw that the only factor that was different between the previous match was a less than rank 20 necromancer.

(Who just happened to be in the same guild and on the same voice chat as the other four. Communication and coordination over skill, I guess.

Or you can blame the OP dhuumfire meta build, though I hear it’s already nerfed and fallen out of favor? I’m too lazy to change what works decently, though.)

I love my guild.

I’m way too much of a wuss to try team queue without a team I trust, that’s for sure.

You see, I’m not competitive.

Leaderboards and ranking do not interest me.

I’m not actually fired up by the prospect of an evenly matched 1 on 1 fight except as a technical exercise to just see if I can do it (or more likely, fail miserably in the process and try to figure out what the other guy was using and doing.)

All I really wanted in PvP was to get a dolyak /rank to play with. Because the more dolyaks the merrier, y’know?

Oh, and the extra 4 AP from the PvP daily doesn’t hurt.

(And I suppose, when the new PvP rewards and incentive scheme comes up with the feature patch, that would be something interesting to strive toward too.)

So my personal goal was rank. Enough to bootstrap me to 20. With as little time spent in the Heart of the Mists as possible, so that I can spend the rest on more compelling stuff.

Along the way, if I get a bit more PvP experience, that’s a bonus that comes with the territory of playing a minigame and learning as you go.

Lately, I’ve figured out that hotjoins are a decent enough vehicle for those non-ambitious goals.

The “Play Now” button dropkicks me right into an ongoing game. I can leave at any time I want. The 8 vs 8 format is exciting in a casual team deathmatch style, with action flying around fast and nonstop furious, getting the adrenaline going with less “serious business” pressure weighing on one’s shoulder. Dying and respawning are painless and penalty-less.

(Ironically, it’s like Natural Selection 1′s Combat mode versus the RTS strategic mode, except there I really enjoyed the strategic side of it more. Population-wise, far more gravitated to mano-a-alien combat mode though.)

Yes, there is shameless stacking going on in hotjoins.

I paid my noob dues by losing a bunch of matches, wondering how the hell I kept ending up on a side with less players, whose collective PvP experience probably equated to one player on the winning team, getting relentlessly ganked by meta builds while sporting a non meta one, massively teamed up on, and whose only redeeming experience was learning how to harden the fuck up and attempt to survive as long as possible (tank mode, yeah!) against impossible odds.

Then I finally figured out the UI.

And got my own meta build.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and all that.

You know, with the new rank rewards, I don’t mind the stacking at all because it’s totally possible to game the system to get rank points (which, we have established, is one’s primary individual objective for playing hotjoins – the fun little cesspool of anything goes.)

First things first, identify the winning team. This comes with experience, and making a good guess when first entering a game. Or just memorize the higher scoring, higher rank, high-kill-achieving players in your first game (which will probably be on the other side.)

Then spam the fuck out of the “join their side” button.

Assuming you aren’t a total hopeless case who will pull down the team merely by being on their side, contribute to the cause by capping and scoring kills. Preferably by creating “teamwork” mini-scenarios where one ignorant person from the other team runs straight into a group of you playing together and meets the expected fate at the hands of 1 vs X.

Very soon, likely before hitting 200-300 points into the match, first one then another on the losing team will quickly give up and flee out of the game, seeking greener grass elsewhere.

Then the “dreaded” auto-balance button pops up on the side.

Many dread it. I revel in it.

I volunteer the fuck out of it. It’s an extra 25 rank. You guarantee yourself the winning rank reward of 500, no matter what happens (assuming your internet doesn’t die unexpectedly.)

Sure, the next part of the match turns into a stream of *your name* deaths littering the side of the game’s UI, but you know, the deaths are meaningless if your ego is not involved in it.

And it’s the absolute best of both worlds in one game.

First you get the steamroll experience of doing horrible horrible things to players who aren’t playing very well, and identifying their mistakes so that you improve by watching what -not- to do. It’s a primitive ego boost when you realize that you and your build have at least had miniscule improvement to the point where you aren’t -that guy- at  least some of the time anymore. You get to play alongside better players and a team that actually tends to cooperate with each other.

Then when you get switched, and you probably will, since everyone else was hoping they weren’t “it,” you get to test yourself against all the -good- players who have conveniently self-selected themselves out for you.

If 3 or more jump you and tangle you up in cc, obviously, you’re going down. Seriously, there’s no dishonor in it. It’s like you’re roaming alone in WvW and this 40 man zerg rounds the corner and over you. Nothing to be done about it. *shrug*

If it’s 2-3 players, it becomes a game of “see how long I can outlast and outwit.” Necros are built to be annoying, I hear. They’re supposed to waste your time. They can’t escape very well, but they can make you regret spending the time getting entangled up with trying to kill them. Hopefully a teammate or two or three come over eventually. If not, well, see above. Still a fun minigame of survival.

If it’s 1 vs 1, then well, things become interesting. It’s those duels that the PvP warrior types yearn for. Me, not so much, but as mini-practice within a larger game, why not? Sometimes, I even win. Which is pretty awesome when it does happen. If not, it’s a more-entertaining-and-firsthand-than-a-video experience of how a pro takes down an amateur. Chalk it up to the learning process.

It’s a hotjoin, you can choose to play it straight and sit on a cap and wait for people to come. (I like to lurk underwater in Raid of the Capricorn and bleed people to death until they get smart and bring more than one person.) If the game is really hopeless, then throw score to the wind and play for the fights. Your new team is already frickin’ losing anyway, with or without you. Run to the mess of players duking it out in the middle somewhere and see how many sneak attacks you can get in and maybe even turn the tide.

Absolutely rarely, the tide can even sometimes turn and your new team ends up winning (usually because the points shift a bit, some guy on the initially winning team decide to flee and leaves the team one man down, some other new fella joins the game and picks the team you’re on as the fan favorite to stack,) which then becomes a funny exercise in come-uppance, and is even a bit of an ego-booster. (Did -I- do that?! No wai.)

If not, expected team wins, but you get the reward anyway because you were a member of that team in the beginning. (And you even helped more people get the rank reward because you generously made way for more people to stack onto it. Let it not be said that GW2 isn’t a cooperative game!)

Hell, you have mathematically made it impossible for yourself to lose because you’re getting 500 rank points no matter which team wins.

Red versus blue? Doesn’t matter.

You are OMNI-TEAM. You are PAN-TEAM. You encompass multitudes. (Gogo minion or clone zerg.)

You get the full experience, meeting ALL skills levels from 0-50+, bumping into a spectrum of meta to weird builds, at a super-quick non-time-wasting pace.

It’s like ultra-rapid-fire LoL or something.

A hideous perversion of what the spirit of the game is probably supposed to be, but entertaining in its own right.

And 3-4 hotjoin games of this nature is surprisingly palatable for someone who just wants to get their dailies done and get in a couple hundred rank points per day.

Nation Red: The Purity, Simplicity and Elegance of Zombie-Killing

That's a very nice cap you have there, be a shame if something were to happen to it...

We take a break from our regularly scheduled occult zombie-killing in The Secret World to bring you this feature on… more zombie-killing.

Or rather, you’re seeing my craving for variety in action. I like to change things up every now and then – different games feed and fill different ‘fun’ needs.

Some days, all you have time for is a half hour or two of gaming, and in general (though there are exceptions,) MMOs are not terribly good at short spurts of entertainment. Load up the client, patch whatever is necessary, enter in your password and log in, one-third or more of your game time is gone. Take another one-third to reorientate on who your character is, what they’re currently up to with their quests/missions log and check their inventory or equipment, and by the time you gallop or jog to your destination, you may as well log off before killing those ten rats.

Enter the arcade shooter.

I like shooters. You might have noticed with my /played time on Realm of the Mad God.

A good one is rat-killing distilled to a pure fine essence.

And these days, they all come with Achievements like MMOs for extra challenges. (But they’re optional and just for kicks, if you want to.)

Nation Red is an oldie and a goodie.

It didn’t hit my radar until one of the ubiquitous Steam sales where it was going for ludicrously cheap, and I picked it up on an impulse buy. (If I recall, it may have been one of those Summer achievement-fest events, which are a great excuse for me to buy and sample a whole lot of indie games and hopefully find a diamond in the rough or two.)

Hell, Nation Red is a polished gem. Don’t believe me? Ask Totalbiscuit then. The opening cinematic sequence was an eyebrow-raiser in terms of the polished Half-Life 2-esque graphics I wasn’t expecting, and the game just gets better from there.

Basically, shoot zombies. Or smack them with melee weapons. But the optional variations just keep going up from there until it looks ‘deep,’ in the sense that there’s many ways to play this.

You can select your class to focus on different strengths. As you level, you get perks, similar to a Fallout style, that improve and change up your game. Weapons drop like candy, all of which have various firing patterns, and providing a constant stream of having-to-adapt-to-the-situation – especially if you accidentally pick up the wrong weapon at the wrong time. Power-ups also keep throwing in variety into the mess of zombie waves that keep coming.

There’s multiple game modes: a bunch of missions, Free-Play, Survival and Barricade, you can play in single-player mode or multiplayer, but the essence is simple, survive and keep shooting, not necessarily in that order.

And there’s an elegance in that simplicity. Easy to grasp, hard to master. Aim, shoot, kill, dodge, run, kite, round and round, testing yourself over and over, increasing your score, leveling up and learning and challenging yourself as the game adapts naturally and perfectly to your current capabilities.

Not so good at the game? Die earlier. Try again. Get better. Survive longer. Get a higher score. Die again. Repeat until enough. For now.

And the game will keep until the next time you feel like a bout of pew-pewing. No subscription nonsense necessary.

Messed around for half an hour with it today. (It came to my attention as it just got a recent update on Steam, a new Prison level for the Barricade game mode.) Scored a few more Achievements through the regular course of play. Was fun.

RotMG: Whaddya Mean I’m Not Done?

The buttons don’t work, it’s just a screenshot

Mad God Update.

Steam Played Hours: 69

My archer actually maxed defence roughly a week ago, but I didn’t want to post a celebratory note and then proceed to jinx it with YASD.

Instead I was taking a much-needed wizard farming break and having the archer go out to play around. It’s been… different. Very much so.

1) Damage Pattern Ain’t The Same

I’m using a Golden Bow on the archer. It’s the only vaguely respectable bow I own. The firing pattern is a spread of three arrows.

On the one hand, the spread means good aim is less necessary. (And I don’t -have- great aim, so that’s nice.)

And on the other paw, it means my damage is spread out at long range, when only one arrow can hit. If I want to apply more damage, that means running in closer to mid-range where the god bullets are closer together. Which is more nerve-racking.

In the screenshot, the difference is really obvious. The necromancer behind me has nearly the same firing pattern as a wizard and he’s pew pew’ing the beholder at a much faster pace and with higher damage than my archer can.

If I was concentrating more (and not just out to take a screenshot for demo purposes,) I could hit both gods with my firing pattern, but overall dps per god would be lower since likely only one arrow would hit each.

Or I could move in closer on the ghost god and try to hit it with two or even three arrows and increase dps that way.

Assuming I didn’t eat a faceful of bullets.

2) High Stats is Noticeably Better

Then again, eating one or two bullets on the archer is not the “ow, argh, my face!” experience it is for the throwaway farming wizards.

Between the max defence, which cuts down on the damage per bullet, and the high (if not yet maxed) vitality, which determines hp regeneration rate, and the naturally higher health bar reservoir, the archer has much higher resiliency and survivability.

Even if I accidentally get too hurt, the high vitality helps to regen it back at a fast pace. Downtime is a couple of seconds, especially if I throw on a +7 vitality ring for an extra boost.

The wizard by contrast is noticeably squishier.

Come to think of it, after checking the wizard base stats average on the Mad God wiki, this incarnation #5 is possibly somewhat below average to average. Slightly higher dex, slightly lower speed and wisdom, about average on attack and vitality. Not sure on the hp and mp, I’m too lazy to log in to check right now.

I won’t be suiciding him to reroll better stats like some people do, though. No point hastening the inevitable. He’s been kinda lucky in that he’s survived this long, and gotten a T8 Staff of Horror (one tier better than my standard T7 Staff of Destructions for throwaway wizards) and a T4 Destruction Sphere spell. He’ll bite it one day on his own. Of that, I am sure.

The one thing I really miss on the wizard is speed.

I still enjoy the glass cannon crazy direct damage mobile turret thing he’s got over the archer. But the archer has 45 speed over his 24, and it feels SO much better. It’s more fluid and dodging is easier and more forgiving of slower reaction times. One can circle strafe gods and do other crazy risky things with higher speed.

I’m still working on getting the rest of the archer’s stats maxed, but once he maxes speed, I’ll be glad to start squandering some on the wizard. Probably not this one, since he’s starting out below average, but chances are good he’ll be dead by then.

(Poor fella, talking about him like that. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong? …Nah.)

Both classes are capable of doing sufficient damage for both soulbound drops and stat pots. That I tested. It’s naturally easier solo, rather than side by side competing with more buffed out wizard types.

The archer takes slightly longer to kill gods, but the tradeoff is he can hang around much longer as well. And some gods like the sprite god are much easier, the bullet spread lets me hit the god while dodging and circle strafing and the higher resiliency means being hit by a bullet or two is not as painful.

I suspect I’ll be alternating between the two to farm.

(Another worthwhile goal is to try and hit 400 fame with the archer as that’s a class quest that earns a star. But that one is long-term and all in good time, because the archer will have to die in order to reap the fame, and I really rather not have him die just yet.)

I just have to start playing more carefully with less ‘throwaway’ mentality from now on. (Which might help Wizard #5 to survive…

…I doubt it, somehow.)