GW2: The Canach Lair Experiment

When there's something strange... in the neighborhood... Who ya gonna call?

At least, it sure seems like one.

Almost as if ArenaNet was listening to feedback and said, “Oh, you sure you want what you’re asking for? Let’s give you what you want then, and see if you really like it!”

Imagine if you will, an instance with no trash mobs, doesn’t waste your time, and isn’t an ordinary tank-and-spank boss.

Or as some others might more bitterly say, a one-room “dungeon” which is so short it produces a “that’s it?” feeling at the end comprising of a very gimmick fight.

Depending on who you ask, the rewards of completion may be “crap” or “not worth it” or indeed, so worth it that it risks being farmed via character deletion and remaking exploit-line-skirting.

And of course, the very strange decision to enforce a -solo- instance went down as well as enforcing a -group- dungeon might, just with a completely different subset of people.

Poor Anet just can’t win, can they?

For the record, on the whole, I like it just fine. With some quantifiable nitpicks.

Let’s just get the venting about OPTIONS out of the way, shall we? Forcing anything is bad. Some people like to group. Let them fucking group.

I’m a solo-preferring player, I spend a lot of time arguing for the option to solo, but it sure doesn’t mean I want the option for people to group taken away. That just makes a different set of people unhappy.

The only thing I can possibly think of that this achieves is the idea of a “solo” tutorial, where it is guaranteed that everyone has been exposed to the mechanic in simpler form before unleashing them to wreck their unique brand of (un)communicative havoc in a group.

I’d live without the guarantee personally, if it means all the “forcing” goes away.

I like the concept of the step up tutorial though, as I made good use of it, going through the solo version to learn the mechanics in peace by myself, then poked my head alone into the explorable group version to see what else I could figure out there, and then finally joined a group or two.

The Solo Instance

I took my most masochistic character in first. Yes, my spirit weapon guardian who has been wandering around Southsun in magic find gear. This was on purpose, as I wanted to experience a glass cannon pop gun baseline. Just to see how a badly built casual player might find it.

Story-wise, I felt the linkage was a bit abrupt. We never really got to track Canach down. We’re just suddenly told, oh, look, we found him, he’s here, go get him.

The explanation of the mine detector gimmick was okay, as long as you’re the sort of player that bothers to talk to NPCs and read what they say. (Which apparently, some people don’t.)

canachtraps

I liked that there was an uninterrupted short stretch in front to play with the mine detector gun and get familiar with the scanning and conversion mechanic. The icon indicators for the traps were also decently clear, though the fog and steam doesn’t really help visibility-wise.

I’ve mentioned I like solo instances because it gives me time to take screenshots uninterrupted and admire the scenery – which was nifty.

cooopretty

Figuring out the Canach fight itself was pretty tough on first contact. This has a lot to do with the build, if you ask me.

I got the idea fairly quickly to get Canach into the converted land mines, as the caltrops or poison ones didn’t appear to do much to his health bar. I was able to read the buff he had on to figure out that he was immune to any standard weapon attacks.

I did miss until much later the helpful yellow text in my chat bar as to when he was doing what with the mines, as I was staring in the center of my screen, at him, trying to figure out his animations while dancing around the numerous traps and trying to scan and convert them and play the memory game of where is the land mine I’m looking for…

This led to a few accidents of getting knocked about by Canach and into traps, which then exploded and knocked off considerable amounts of hp, which led to me scrambling around trying to recover on a build not really made for healing up quickly and rapidly, which led to more opportunities for him to rush me and knock me down, or blow up all his mines, and generally set up a cascade chain of eventual failure.

So damnably close to reviving... then he blew up all his mines in my face.
So damnably close to reviving… then he blew up all his mines in my face.

I swapped utility skills to put on the more standard stun-breaker shouts, Stand Your Ground and Save Yourselves, and Retreat! for swiftness.

Which went a little better, though I was still having trouble using skill 5 to knock him back into traps a sufficient distance, and I was finding it tough as a squishy to stay in his melee range for long enough to kite him over a mine, and the charr still felt cumbersome and slowass. After about 3-4 deaths, I finally managed to lead him through enough land mines and down all his health.

I enjoyed the little story conversation epilogue between him and Ellen Kiel after. I appreciate that they put that into the solo instance so soloists didn’t miss that part of the story.

Then I logged on my asura guardian, having been now convinced through firsthand experience that this is a “dungeon” where squishy dps glass cannon builds do not help and a bunker build might very well excel. I even left on my WvW gear – soldier/clerics because I suspected the more tanky I was, the more it was going to be lol-worthy ez-mode.

Gee, that tickles.
Gee, that tickles.

It was. I pretty much stood next to Canach and watched as he hit me for 340 hp, then healed up 168 hp x 2 in the next few seconds before he could wind up for his next attack. This made kiting him onto the land mines extremely painless. This was the character I used to get the Lair-Light Foot achievement as it is much easier to look carefully where you’re stepping when you’re not worried about the possibility of dying.

So if you’re ever wondering why some players think Canach’s Lair is so damn easy, while others are struggling, I’d take a long hard look at what builds they’re running.

Not to mention, what classes.

Because I am slightly greedy and wanted to grab at least one more of the possibly unintended character reward of 26 silver plus 1 bag of 1 gold (found a CoF-like dungeon reward rate, woo!), but also too wussy to log ALL my lowbies and possibly risk a ban for exploiting, I decided to bring my last level 80 in and stop at three.

That last level 80 is a thief. He has swiftness on dodge, and signet of shadows. Canach couldn’t fucking touch him. And remember, I am a POOR thief. Game, set, mined and caught.

The Group Instance

As mentioned above, I poked my head in solo to check out how the explorable differed from the story version, and see if the cave had grown any extra rooms. (It hadn’t.)

I poked in on Mr Squishy Magic Find Charr so you can call me either brave or stupid too.

I did last long enough to note that the golem didn’t have the buff that made him immune to weapon attacks, attempted to attack it and noted with pleasure that I was actually denting him to the tune of 3-5% of his total hp bar (not bad for one person in magic find gear against a mob meant for five, it suggested that the devs had indeed erred on the side of easy with this instance and that it might conceivably be possible if difficult to accomplish solo.)

I lasted long enough to see his purple shield come up and work out the mechanic that he needed to be led onto land mines for his shield to fall off.

But the rate at which I was damaging it wasn’t really very quick and it was a struggle to keep alive alone on squishy charr and guildchat was starting the call for folks to do the explorable with, so I gracefully did a Brave Sir Robin and ran away.

Swapped to Mr Surprisingly Sturdy For His Stature, joined the guild group and went in.

The first go was messy. We were tackling Subdirector NULL with four members, as one was still making his way over and having problems with the zoning / party instancing / directions, while some others had triggered the fight. One of our party members was still trying to lead / talk the lost member to where we were, mid-battle, which couldn’t have been terribly good for his mobility. The automatic reaction was to spread out, and no one else had figured out what the purple shield did, so it made kiting the golem onto a land mine quite tricky. The orbiting energy things were an interesting pickle that made us dodge and move around quite a bit, and when the repair turret message came up, it took some time to scan the room and find where it was to take it down.

Despite all that, the health of the golem dropped quite rapidly. What eventually did us in was the electrolyze mini-enrage timer at the end, as I don’t think anyone realized what was happening in between all the party conversation going on trying to get the last member over, and scramble to revive people who were downed by getting too close to the golem.

The other three’s hp were close to one sliver from being downed and mine was at half full, while I was still trying to pick people up, before I finally noticed the little debuff on my bar that had 3-4 stacks of electrolyze going. Ohhh…

We wiped, and left the dungeon to get the last member properly zoned in. Second go was much better, we sorta kinda clumped together a little more, though it was still tricky to kite the golem to a mine when everyone seemed to have a different idea of which mine to lead the golem to. Plenty of damage burned the golem down once the shield eventually fell off though. Cue achievement. Cue reward chest (oooh, 50 silver, a rare, suhweet!) Cue chest in cave (two greens.) Pretty yummy for not very high difficulty, even if the fight was gimmicky.

Coordination is pretty important in this instance though.

There was one more guild group call out, two members had been attempting it in a duo and were defeated by the enrage timer at the end. I decided to test if the rewards for the group dungeon were character or account bound and logged on the squishy charr. (I did swap out of magic find and into pure berserker though.)

They were on voice and they had a plan.

We went to a corner of the cave that was apparently out of the way of the orbiting energy things, and was near to two traps – one a land mine, one a poison trap, both of which could break the shield. Mechanics were explained to those doing it for the first time. Then Null was attracted over and pounded on.

Went flawlessly. Went so quickly and easily it prompted a “Wow, that’s it?” from one or two people, and started a search for the third instance hinted at in the patch notes. (Which apparently will only exist next week, and is probably just a storytelling epilogue/finale.)

One nitpick is that there isn’t much of a story to the group instance. Perhaps that’s intended, so as to not leave the soloists in the lurch. The issue is probably with a sense of pacing, in that there’s no beginning, middle or end. With no trash mobs, it’s just “boss” then that’s it. And not a terribly difficult boss at that.

Stuff I Liked

  • The inclusion of soloists with a solo instance (with the caveat that group-ists shouldn’t be excluded either)
  • The story being told in an instance with time to enjoy it at one’s own pace and read the text
  • The rewards of silver and stuff are pretty insanely good (to me, anyway, I don’t run CoF farms) for something so short and quickly achieved (If this is a daily feature, I’d be in here every day for sure. If it’s meant to be one-time ever only, then ok, not as great as I thought, but still nice for a one-time bonus.)
  • The fairly painless difficulty level (this is subjective, of course, but I’d rather not waste hours of my time beating my head against a dungeon with a possibly ‘fail’ group for something that is merely part of a short-lived event. I have WvW XP to farm at doubled rates.)

Stuff I Didn’t Mind

  • The whole mine detector gimmick (I’m sure some people felt they didn’t like it, especially when it made their class or skills fairly irrelevant. I kind of think that’s part of the point, to have everyone on the same playing field using the same skills – though builds and classes still do matter somewhat. GW1 had similar minigames. Canach may have been slightly cheesy in that he was immune to everything but mines though. Something more similar to Null where mines break a shield may have gone down better.)
  • How short it was. (I suppose it could have been a room or two longer, with better pacing, but I’m not keen on all day dungeon marathon runs either. It’s probably friendlier for the largest amount of people to make it short and sweet.)

All in all, I don’t have anything that I strongly HATE in this. I don’t anticipate frustration factor building up very high. At most, people might get bored of it much quicker. So what? It’s a limited time one-off. The meta event is the one that we should be looking at with a fine tooth comb to see if it feels great, because -that’s- the one that’s going to go on repeat loop permanently.

Guess we’ll see next week.

idiedforthisangle

GW2: Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?

aka The Dilemma of Playing Realistic Female Characters in an MMO

I made my female Norn warrior last night, having decided to use some of that gold for a character slot after all.

Immediately, I was of mixed minds whether I should be keeping her.

This isn’t just the standard complaint of boobs and skin peeping out of convenient holes in armor that would be delicious for an attacker to stick a sword into, though.

Yes, we know GW2 suffers from a “first impressions” presentation problem.

defaultfemwarrior

The default appearance for several kinds of female professions delights in showing off skin and boob plates. This one’s not too bad though, it harkens back to the old Jora look (though she herself seemed designed to be one of those pinup girl faces of GW1) and you should see the female human light armor problems.

I’ve always been cool with that because as a well-educated GW2 fan, I am aware that this game has options beyond the barbie doll sex appeal look that is immediately attractive to the most populous youthful male demographic.

What I didn’t quite realize was how tricky reaching those options would be, while still looking like a character I’d want to play.

The default face and hair settings started making me a little depressed because a majority of them seemed tilted toward “female human” cute and perky.

amianornorhuman

OMG. DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A NORN TO YOU?

The body defaults weren’t any better.

starvingorpudgy

The choice seemed to be between various shades of anorexic or downright plump.

(I’ll at least give Anet kudos for including the last option, though it wasn’t at all appealing to imagine myself running a giant fat lady character through the world and wondering what kinds of whispers I was going to get from other players. While it may be an amusing side goal to get them all 72 hour banned for harassment, I would actually just want to play the game here with a character that doesn’t attract abnormal amounts of attention.)

dorkyhelmet

Let’s not even talk about how dorky the helmets look, shall we? (Where the fuck did my hair go?)

Maybe my take on the lore isn’t as strong as I’d like, but I always envisioned most Norns to be big, trending toward the muscular, possibly Amazonian in stature.

Anyhow, because that is the type of character I am trying to make on a -roleplaying- server that values a lore-appropriate look, LET ME make the mannish, not immediately pretty and possibly somewhat homely, stern lady warrior concept in my head already.

I persisted. GW2 supports options. GW2’s character creation has sliders. There must be a way.

A great deal of slider pulling later, creating some of the awful-looking faces possible in the manner of most unskilled players operating sliders in character creation (ok, at least GW2 has that option for scarily ugly if you want it – click the link only if you’re prepared to see what greets people zoning into the Heart of the Mists on Tarnished Coast, they’re pretty famous), trying to get the closest I could to the character concept in my head, I eventually settled on a vaguely piratical, square-faced, stern-jawed appearance, complete with scars and bandana.

yarrillmakeyouwalktheplank

I still wasn’t sure whether I’d achieved believably realistic, or just plain fucking ugly.

(Something about the distance of the eyes still nags at me slightly, but I’ll be damned if I go through all that slider pulling in character creation again.)

You might ask, why was I so obsessed with how “I” looked.

Good question, I kept asking myself that too.

I think I just knew that walking around as a tall giant character draws eyes, and every last detail on the model is a lot easier to see on a Norn than say… a human or sylvari, let alone an asura. If something looks “off,” it’s just going to be a lot more obvious than say, some lil guy’s three toes sticking out of shoes that don’t fit.

Then I landed in the world and hit the Norn problem. An outsized avatar runs slowly. It also runs like a human female, complete with little dainty dance of the hands, that on a giant character make it look like a waddle.

I was already having second and third thoughts about going through with this.

I ended up taking her into the Heart of the Mists to check both the PvP locker to see if future skins held any hopes of looking good (minus about half of the options for ridiculous skin and boob designs, minus another quarter or third of the options for being plain butt ugly, there were a -few- left that seemed to hold some promise) and test out the combat animations for various weapons (which I have to say, I rather liked. Or found quite passable indeed.)

One of the reasons for why I wanted a Norn Female character is because they’re voiced by Claudia Christian (she of Babylon 5 fame.) I wanted to hear that voice acting through my personal story.

But I was really not sure if I was okay running around with an oddly proportioned giant lady towering over everyone in towns like a bad B movie.

Since the character was already made, I eventually decided that I’d take her at least up to level 10, where the personal story would drop a black lion key I could hoard and see if things got better or if she grew on me, or if I was going to continue feeling awkward and generally “not feeling it” for the character.

loreofgiants

It wasn’t so bad among other Norns in Hoelbrak or Wayfarer Foothills, though I developed a habit of running up to every NPC to measure my height and check if I looked out of the ordinary against other Norn females. (What the hell was happening to me? Why this sudden obsession about my self-image?)

I even met a Jotun giant who was taller than all the Norn who told some interesting stories about the Age of the Giants, of which Norn and Jotun shared a certain common heritage apparently. Thinking about it that way made me feel better, that I was part of a race of giants, rather than an awkward over-sized female human that vaguely resembled Xena and could look fat at certain unflattering camera angles.

None of which was probably going to help me the moment I hit a human proportioned town or have nosy asura looking up my skirt though.

Still dancing with the idea of deletion, I decided to hit the Hall of Monuments to see if a good (armor) skin and dye job could help.

tookyoulongenoughtogethere

It did.

Oh my fucking lord, how it did.

I suppose some of the problem was that the lowbie heavy armor was plain ugly, no matter what character you put it on.

I put on heritage armplates, leggings and boots, which gave me plate armor on all the extremities you’d expect a tall giant lady to have in contact with shorter beings in combat (also functions great to boot a nosy asura with), and left the top in chainmail for better flexibility (the better to reach over and thwap you with a gigantic sword.)

I was also surprised how good the default Ebony dye came out on this particular armor for Norns. It’s almost a true black. (On all my other characters, it’s always been a more dark grey.)

As everyone knows, black is slimming.

Add on Stone and Matte for shiny metal highlights, some Tarnished Steel for variation, and the end result is something I could probably live with.

surprisinglymuchbetter

At least for another 10-20 levels, where I might re-evaluate again once I get to non-Norn proportioned settlements.

Still can’t do anything about the dorky helmets though.

*Hides them all*

GW2: The Value of Virtual Currency

I’ve always found games that offer a way to swap between a cash shop bought-for-real-life-money currency and an earnable in-game one rather fascinating. (As a layman observer anyway – I’d make a poor economist or statistician.)

Partially because it enables me as a player to make the decision to trade up my time or my cash for similiar benefits, but also mostly because it allows me to roughly peg a value on items being sold for the in-game currency in terms of real life money.

It’s kinda the same comparison as “Should I buy a $25 mount?” (or say, spend it on five starbucks drinks or 2-5 indie games instead) just a few more steps further.

(For the record, for me specifically, the coffee and the other games would win. The intrinsic enjoyment inherent in the latter beats any urge to prance around showing off to other people something shiny to make them envious, when other mounts are just as functional… and that thing looked hellaciously ugly to me – gimme a flying lava dragon on fire, maybe THEN I’ll have a dilemma.)

Some other people go even further and start pegging in-game currency earning rates with real life money equivalency at an hourly rate. Which is rather ruthlessly logical and makes a certain kind of sense.

Except I think it fails to take into consideration the kind of experience you’re having for that hourly rate. If your work is crummy and soulless, one is going to have a more miserable time for the extra cash you ‘earn’ versus leisure time spent/’wasted’ playing a game for enjoyment. If you’re grinding dungeons or farming mobs to the point of it feeling as crummy and soulless as work, then please examine if your days and nights are best spent ‘working’ at the game and in real life. (And if your work isn’t crummy and soulless and tires you out at the end of the day, you’re having a ball working overtime -and- earning lots of money to happily spend on the game, then I want your fucking job.)

Anyhow, Puzzle Pirates was interesting to me because I wasn’t willing to put down more than 3 bucks for a couple of Doubloons, and preferably spend no real life money at all, but I was quite content to “grind” out a couple hours each night a gold haul in pirating booty and exchange that for Doubloons until I had enough for the modestly priced badges that unlocked other aspects of the game.

My main purpose there was simply to get a taste of everything and practice puzzling, for free if at all possible, so it worked out well for me to stand around in rags with holes in it (swabbie pirate style, y’know) and offer up the in-game cash that was a byproduct of my game experience to others who were a lot more committed to the game and willing to feed real money into it.

Spiral Knights made me get the calculator out.

Pretty much anything you want to do in Spiral Knights will cost you some amount of Energy. If you’re a very casual player, you can wait out 24 hours for 100 ephemeral Mist Energy to recharge, but past a certain point, you’ll find you’ll need more than that (to craft better weapons/gear, or start a guild, etc.) and have to get it either via cash or by trading the in-game gold for it. I was okay with the concept, likening it to a sort of arcade game which costs you a quarter for each play and so on, but I wanted to figure out if the amount I was being charged was reasonable before I even gave them any real life money.

Now, the most expensive way to get Energy is to buy it for $2.45 which nets you a mere 750. Each “map level” you play through in Spiral Knights will cost you 10 Energy to experience. That figures to 3.27 cents per map. (That’s before calculating any potential returns from the gold crowns you earn while playing through it. I wasn’t, as I didn’t want to make myself ‘expect’ to earn a certain minimum sum in order to break even.) I was okay paying that amount for the experience of playing the game, assuming I played through 10 levels, that’s about 30 cents for some entertainment. Seemed reasonable to me.

The fun thing with Spiral Knights is because nearly everything costs Energy, you can put a dollar value on it very quickly. The death penalty in Spiral Knights occurs when you revive, as it has an associated Energy Cost. Depending on the tier of difficulty you are at, the first death and revive starts out pretty negligible, and then steadily ramps up to a frankly insane and uneconomic $3.27 (or 1000 Energy) by the 8-10th death. The interesting thing is where each player chooses to stop in the middle, of course, and whether they stop only when they run out of Energy for good.  (And I’m sure kids who have their Energy bought for them and people who don’t think about these things and just buy it when they run out contribute a huge amount to Three Rings’ coffers from this death tax. For the record, I back out after the third death most of the time. Repeating the level grind just means more opportunities to earn in-game cash rather than spend real life money.)

Want to start a guild? It’ll cost you $1.64, or 500 Energy. You can craft Tier 1 and Tier 2 weapons for free by waiting for your Mist Energy tank to refill each day, but at Tier 3 and up, it costs 200, 400 and 800 Energy respectively plus some amount of in-game gold crowns (which again I didn’t bother converting as I just wanted to get a ballpark feel.) That means a T3 item costs 65.4 cents to make, a T4 item $1.31 and T5 $2.62.

That last bit took a while to swallow for me. Facing the prospect of spending 2 odd bucks for a top of the line weapon, and possibly thrice that for an equivalent armor, helmet and shield meant around $10 for a max level character, assuming no experimentation with other weapon playstyles (and I love experimenting and playing around and didn’t want to be taxed that badly for it.) Was this a game I wanted to invest time and money in, knowing the ballpark ranges of how much it might cost at the top?

In the end I decided it didn’t seem that over the top in comparison to other blatantly pay-to-win games where a really good sword might cost upwards of $50 or more. (Won’t find me in those, ever.) And that I’d re-evaluate as I got closer to tier 5, as there was plenty of other content in between where I was starting and where ‘max’ might be.

Ultimately, I ended up dilly dallying around T3 with an odd T4 weapon here and there as the difficulty peaked, and I’m quite content with where I am and what I paid for the period of time experiencing the game, with the option to go back and play, only paying money when I decide to actively enjoy the game again.

With prior experiences like that, you’ll find that I’m quite comfortable with the concept of the Currency Exchange in Guild Wars 2, where players can exchange gold for gems or vice versa.

It’s a good way for players with too much free time and players with too much spare cash to trade with each other the scarcer resource, with developers taking much of the profit in cold hard cash for designing a game experience worth spending time on.

What is currently now perplexing me in GW2 is the surfeit of choice of things to spend $$$ on, and in which currency should I be doing it in.

Y’see, after very patient daily farming for an hour or two in Southsun and selling off most of the T6 materials (mournfully watching my Legendary hopes recede further into the distance), the odd rare collecting here and there, and selling off all the heavy loot bags that drop in WvW for me, very steadily, day by day, my banked gold increased by 2-4 odd gold until my short term goal of hitting the Golden title was reached yesterday.

(This is, of course, absolutely nothing compared to how much the dungeon farmers and TP traders make daily, but on the other hand, I’ve not gone insane, burned out on the game or become even more misanthropic from partying up with people I can’t stand, which is a net positive.)

Bottom line is, I now have 200 gold that have fulfilled their purpose screaming “USE ME” in the bank. And I’m pondering what to do with it. It’s not like it’s earning any interest in there.

A wise trader would naturally say, invest the gold in something, so that you can flip stuff on the TP and make your money work for you and all that sort of thing. I admit to being mildly interested in learning how to dabble with that sort of thing, but a casual look at the TP suggests there are already TP flippers in residence in many niches, and that I might lose money making unwise speculations while trying to start out. Still, it might be worthwhile reserving some amount of gold towards learning how to invest/speculate/sensibly gamble.

On the completely luxury spendthrift other hand, I am still watching prices for the Molten Firestorm miniature. What can I say. I have developed an unhealthy obsession about it. I blame spending way too long a time breathing in those lava fumes in the Molten Facility. The buyout prices are hovering around 72 gold. Take the current rate of approximately 3 gold for 100 gems, and you’ll find that this completely unnecessary and fairly useless (but prettily animated and fairly heftily sized) item costs an equivalent of 2400 gems. Or $30.

DUDE, THREE YEARS AGO YOU MADE FUN OF PEOPLE BUYING A $25 SPARKLE PONY. If you buy a $30 mini-robot, even with in-game cash, you’ll never live it down.

So… yeah. I could buy all the baby miniatures for less than that, and I haven’t bought any of ’em because they ain’t cute enough for me (the lion cub’s not too bad, but I’m waiting for the kitten to see if it tempts me.) As much as I would get a kick out of having a Firestorm the size of my Asura running around with me, shooting off its cute rocket jets, I just cannot bring myself to buy it at a $30 equivalency value. Which makes me a little sad, but possibly not as sad as I would be if I bought a $30 miniature and had the other voice in my head make fun of me daily.

A third more insidious voice in my brain points out that I had been overlooking something. When I buy stuff off the TP, I generally want it -now- and thus am very used to using buyout prices to benchmark my willingness to buy. In this case, the voices have a consensus that $30 is too much, no matter how fucking awesome I think that mini is. But if I put up a custom order, and the custom orders are hovering at around 55 gold (most of them flippers, I’m sure), ie, 1834 Gems, or $22.93…

Oh. So now that’s -less- than a sparkle pony (barely), with in-game currency, and it would be up to fate whether anyone would be willing to sell one to me at that price.

That is somehow slightly more palatable. I am not sure why.

Thing is, there’s plenty of other things I could be using the gold for.

I -could- spend all of it on a quest to build my Legendary and probably still need a shitton more gold to do it, which seems like pointless treadmill running to me. I’m already somewhere between 50-100 T6 materials just playing the game how I like it, so in about twice or thrice the time period I’ve spent, I’ll fill up to a stack of 250 without really noticing it that badly (and I do quite enjoy materials farming in peace and quiet and have learned a bit more on how to go about it since Southsun.)

I kinda want a really posh magic find set of armor and weapons and runes and all. That is, exotics and Ascended quality. With a similar Charr cultural look to my berserker set. Other people are running around with 400% mf in Southsun and I’ve been hovering at 300% in my cheapo rares, feeling somewhat inadequate and not as efficient as I could be. That would cost gold too.

I’ve also been dabbling with my extremely crummy thief in WvW, which I decked out in level 80 rares just to get a feel for it before deciding to go condition or crit. Fights are… not going so well. I’m not used to thief timing and playstyle to begin with, so it’s been uphill going with comparatively poorer stats. It’s been sufficient to see potential promise but it looks like I’ll have to invest in exotics and superior runes to get a proper baseline. So that would take gold too.

I -could- buy both a condition and crit suit for him so that I can keep swapping traits for 3 silver. But a) that would be very annoying without a way to easily save specs. b) they’ll soulbind to him and be useless for any other character, and he’s a bloody huge Norn, which is making me think is at least -some- of the problem of not being that stealthy for a thief. (Don’t ask me what I was thinking, it seemed like a good idea at the time.) So maybe one suit and build is good enough for him and I should make a new Asura thief too to try the other type of build.

Character slots cost money too, y’know. An altholic’s brain never rests, and has been desiring a female Norn warrior, an asura thief, mebbe a Charr thief, an asura mesmer or elementalist or both (asura master race! furry charr at heart!)… you get the picture. For 24 gold each, that seems okay to help unlock more character slots, rather than paying 10 bucks each time because I’m still reserving my rl cash budget for the Consortium pick and/or logging axe (if they ever show up.)

I got a bank slot that needs unlocking too. And one more bag slot for my asura, who keeps filling up with loot too fast in WvW and has taken over as my primary there, while the Charr is relegated to PvE. That’s 30 gold to gems.

Put like that, I can see 200 gold disappearing in a hurry. Just got to figure out which to prioritize first.

Decisions, decisions. Which would you guys go for first, and why?

GW2: Dipping a Toe into Arah Explorable

Oh. Wow.

It’s 12 hours later and I’m still caught betwixt a mix of exhilaration and utter trauma.

I now much better understand Syl’s post about her experience pugging the Arah explorable dungeon paths. I gotta give mad respect for her jumping in and doing it, because I’m honestly not sure I will ever dare to join a PUG for this dungeon, now that I’ve seen what it’s like.

Mine was run in a guild group, which I suspect is what the difficulty of the dungeon is scaled to challenge. Two of us had not ever done it before, two had attempted and failed prior to this, and the last who had done it successfully was being awesome, leading us around and spelling everything out for us.

We were tackling path 3, which I hear is the -easiest- of the routes. *tries not to faint*

beginningarah

Story-wise, I’d have to say the premise is pretty intriguing from a GW1 player’s perspective. Each path appears to make reference to and trickle a small drip feed of information about the ancient races who fought off the dragons the last go around. That is, in no particular order, the Mursaat, Seers, Jotun and the Forgotten (whom we hear about in path 3) and the dwarves and a Tome of Rubicon reference make a sneak entrance at the introduction.

A guild group let the two of us newbies watch the cutscenes. I would seriously not DARE to even try that in a pug.

Our group composition was a good mix, two guardians, two mesmers (one of each was new, and the other pair had at least an attempt or two under their belts) and an elementalist (the only one who had a clue what we were in for.)

We got through the first few packs of ‘trash mobs’ decently well, with the sort of bouncy resiliency feeling you get when group builds are synergizing relatively well (kinda hard to describe, hope it comes across.) We don’t control people’s builds or require anything out of them, so it wasn’t perfect invincible super-synergy, but it felt decently resilient.

But DEAR GOD, did some of the mobs hit hard. A lot harder than anything I’ve ever felt. (I am a bit of a connoisseur on this as I tend to run tanky guardians that pull a majority of the aggro. Getting good enough to survive it though, is another matter.) The Risen Wizards and Risen Illusionists were apparently the major culprits involved in the damage spree, and though we targeted and focused them, I was feeling a decent amount of pressure trying to stay alive in the meantime.

I would love to go back in and study their attacks a little more some day. I’m sure there’s ways to mitigate more of the damage, be it through better reads of their animations and dodging, or countering whatever they’re specifically doing, but as a first timer experience, I was just sorta going in there and facing the brunt of it, then scrambling to heal up.

The first set of bosses weren’t -too- bad. The buildup as the experienced guy was explaining the mechanics was a bit more nerve-wracking. We settled on sending a guardian and the elementalist to deal with the Hunter where he was, while the three of us pulled the Crusher to where we were and the dancing at range began. Health bars were going down methodically (the bosses’, that is) and of course, this silly asura guardian was edging closer and closer into medium range (so I naturally get more daring and try to push limits, sue me) and WHOMP, ate a one-shot hammer shockwave from a miscalculation of the direction the guy was facing. Well, shit. And I still had aggro while downed, so a split second later, I was quite dead.

Fortunately, the other two had lots and lots of mesmer clones and were able to keep the Crusher very well occupied. Got slowly picked up (with plenty of time to resolve to myself not to be a fucking hero again and stay at goddamn max range), the other two finished off the Hunter and came over, and we worked over the rest of the Crusher’s hp. Had a little bit of relieved vindication when a few others also caught in the shockwave and had to be picked up (that’s the nice thing about a guild group, everyone feels human and there’s room for people to err, whereas I foresee a great deal of potential obnoxiousness oozing out of a pug for being ‘fail.’)

Lemme tell you it’s not quite easy to see what the hell the Crusher is doing when he’s covered with blue and yellow flames most of the damn time. 😛 (We can’t stop the pyromania either, says the guardians!)

Then came the running past trash.

The endless running through a very confusing layout through shitloads of angry red names, some of which read Risen Illusionist and Risen Wizard, and me being a fucking slowass guardian with probably the highest ping of the group and the highest armor/toughness.

This was not pretty. I think I have PTSD after the experience. I completely get what Syl said now regarding this…  She said:

Yet, my first few Arah PuG runs almost made me give up completely on my set goal (and humanity). They were spent group-rushing through large packs of trash, frantically spamming cooldowns and hoping to keep up with the others because no idea where I’m going. More often than not, they were spent being one-shot by said trash which either wiped the entire party or “the unlucky one” (as I like to call him by now), then re-attempting the same leeroy act, corpse-running over and over until somehow the entire party makes it through alive.

Yes, I was the “unlucky one.”

The elementalist leader was showing us the way, so we were all following him, and stuff would aggro initially on him as he entered their proximity, everyone would dash through the gauntlet while aggro fell right off him onto me trailing behind (slowing me down in combat even further) while having to dodge/run through the big ugly red circles that had popped up on the initial attack on the group.

This did not work. Quite a number of times. To the tune of 8 silver repairs or so. I’d gotten out of Knight/Berserker’s after the first two deaths, and swapped into the tankiest shit I had, Soldier/Clerics with runes of the soldier for condition removal on shouts, and it was still pretty ugly.

Mind you, this was a guild group, so I wasn’t being left alone here. The elementalist was kindly running with me and trying to lead me through, which was good because I HAD NO FUCKING IDEA WHERE ANYTHING WAS and was liable to run headlong into something horrible while trying to get away from the horror behind me.

After the next set or two of deaths, the -entire- group waypointed back to help with veils and speed (something I bet Syl will guarantee a pug would never do) and I made a big point of staying in the middle of the pack and running for my life. Which saved me and got me to the end, but the other guardian caught the brunt of it and died.

Whee.

Obviously I lacked any confidence whatsoever to go back and attempt it again, so I ended up standing around as part of the sad, asocial show. (Though internally it was more like, dear god, I don’t even dare move from this rock now. If I go back, I’ll just end up being THAT GUY again…)

With one mesmer going back to help him, and both of them probably having a better clue of where everything was, they eventually got through as a pair faster than I did. But wow, I am still more than a little traumatized and cannot imagine leeroying that gauntlet alone over and over in a pug. It really makes me wonder if killing the lot would be faster.

The subsequent Mage Crusher boss went a lot more smoothly than the trash mob gauntlet. We may or may not have been glitching by getting onto the boss in melee and coordinating to not move a single muscle (touching WASD was verboten)  in order not to trigger any of the necro marks that popped up around us. I dunno. But I thought it was interesting regardless in that it was challenging a group of five to not do something that is otherwise natural in GW2 (squirming about and dodging a lot) and required discussion beforehand and coordination as a team to stack and not move.

I suspect the ranged fight would not have been too annoying either, though with more accidental downs from Risen Hand knockdowns and stumbling into AoE and folks having to run to get each other up. (Pretty much like how most other big boss fights from range go, see Molten Facility stuff.)

And then there was Giganticus Lupicus.

lupicus
So that’s what one of them looks like…

The typed explanation of his phases was ridiculously elaborate. To the point of my brain threatening to fry while taking it all in for the first time. (You may be able to tell that I’m not really a WoW raider. I found RIFT’s dungeon mechanics rather elaborately challenging also.)

Anyhow, the message that went through was:

Phase 1 – All stack together, attack him from range. Prioritize killing grubs. Locusts not so important.

We did that, and subsequently got pwned from an ever-growing stack of buzzing locusts that everyone was doing their best to ignore in their quest to range Lupicus and kill grubs. As usual, I found myself absorbing most of the damage, which steadily alarmed me to the point of thinking “I’m running out of heals and cooldowns here and this is not working…”

Eventually I fell over, and watched the damage stack up on the other guardian, who also eventually fell over, and then everyone else went down like bowling pins.

Whoops.

New Revised Group Plan for Phase 1 – All stack together, 1-2 melee the locusts/grubs, the rest attack from range.

I believe the two guardians gratefully went back to melee at this point. This went flawlessly. With me getting my hammer on, the protection symbol was pulsing, damage was getting healed up by shouts and stuff, everything was getting hit and worn down by AoE, and whatever the rest were doing, it was working well as the locusts got cleared quickly and grubs died fast, mebbe only one or two got away.

Phase 1 complete, enter Phase 2.

To be honest, it was mostly a blur. A great big blur of everybody scatter, and don’t die, and don’t step in OMG SO MANY RED CIRCLES ahhh dodge dodge heal ohgodohgod run dodge, shit someone’s downed, have I got aggro, no I don’t have aggro I can go rez him, FUCK so many red circles runaway runaway, well he’s dead now, run back to rez a bit more, how am I still autoattacking Lupicus, ooh, he’s shadowstepping to me, dodge dodge abandon rez, kite away and let someone else finish the rez, GAAH he just shadowstepped to them and one more guy is downed, but now he’s gone over there and I can dash over and get the downed guy up and we can get the dead guy up together, oh good, we three are up because the other two are now downed, and NOW I HAVE AGGRO oh shit ohshit kite away don’t die don’t die healheal oh god, give them time to rez up, YES THEY MADE IT, good because NOW I’M DOWN ow ow ow…

Somehow in the midst of this utter chaos, everyone eventually stayed upright at one point and we shifted his hp sufficiently to move him into Phase 3.

Where his aggro intelligence apparently defaulted back to the standard GW2 one of loving Mr High Toughness.

Miss a tanking experience from other games? Well, you can get it RIGHT HERE in phase 3 of Giganticus Lupicus.

My first hint that he had gone into phase 3 was when I noticed the big boy had gotten fixated onto me, and all kinds of damaging stuff was challenging my dodging and healing quite severely, and some guy in Mumble was clinically discussing what his poison death cage looked like as I backed away and fell down in an animation familiar to me via Ring of Warding and he ended with, “Oh there, Shudd’s in it now.”

Lovely.

Luckily Stand Your Ground was up, so I chucked on stability and got out of dodge before my hp fell any further and struggled to heal up.

Then he death caged me AGAIN while Stand Your Ground wasn’t yet up, and that was a frenzy of trying to dodge/heal/stay alive while in the stupid circle.

I had a pretty good front row seat to all the spell effects Lupicus was throwing in phase 3 and pretty much was forced to learn how to avoid them really quick and get my skill usage timing spot on. I believe I went down once, but someone got me up very quickly (and may have gone down doing so) but with his aggro fixated on me, the fight basically turned into me kiting Lupicus in a big giant circle near the Arena walls while everyone else stood near the center and ranged and lol’ed.

In retrospect after reading the wiki guide, I may have stayed a few seconds longer in his life drain AoE than I should have by backing away and continuing to scepter him, instead of turning and running. Anyhow, that portion of the fight was oddly satisfying, if rather challenging playing keep alive.

Y’see, that tanky mindset that never really goes away just loves to hog all the aggro, even up to the point of biting off more than one can chew. (But how else can one learn where one’s limits are, right? Looking for group willing to put up with suicidal tank.)

Down he went, which progressed four of us further than we had ever gotten before.

The last bit was pretty much cleanup. There was so much adrenaline pumping after that fight that a few of us ran headlong into the Wraithlord’s dias triggering the event (guilty!) even as the one experienced guy was going “wait, I need to explain the mechanics…”

Oops. But you said earlier that it was MUCH easier than Lupicus. Anyhow, we managed the explanation pretty quickly and got sorted out over voice that two tanky guys were going to kite wraiths out of the circles and the other three would chill in them. After that, it was mostly tank-and-spank. Which was a relief after the wild excitement prior to this, and we all collected 60 shiny Arah tokens. Some of us for the first time ever.

Time spent wasn’t too bad, bearing in mind all the newbieness to Arah-ness. We started at 6.52pm server time. Reached Lupicus at 7.43pm. Were out of the dungeon by 8.32pm.

It really feels like the dungeon is made to challenge a well coordinated guild group. The difficulty level is quite eye-opening (bear in mind I don’t run high level fractals nor do I run other dungeons on a regular basis.) But it does feel ultimately doable, and it makes me tempted to attempt the other paths too. Though I’m not sure when I’d ever have the opportunity.

Arah would be pleasant for folks who can regularly get together at a set time and crank away at it, I feel. PUGs seem like it would be very hit or miss with how challenging the difficulty is and how liable one would be to get veterans who may splooge obnoxious elitism all over the place.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t mind another Lupicus fight. With a good group (read: understanding and well-coordinated/synergized.)

Though I have no idea how I’m going to get there through the trash.

That's exactly how I feel after finishing. "Twitchy."
That’s exactly how I feel after finishing path 3, facing trash mobs and Lupicus. “Twitchy.” (Oh, and are all female Sylvari slightly unhinged?)

GW2: The Secret of Karka Island

…is that it’s a really good farming location.

yeoldetropicalparadise
I should farm to some reggae music. Monkey Island flashbacks…

At least, there’s where I was in the last days of the Molten Facility, having suddenly realized that karka shells were going for 8 silver a piece and passionfruit flowers for 50s(!)

Barracudas for Armored Scales was always popular (with the bots, especially) and Skelks for Blood and Mosquitoes for Sacs. Reef drakes and reef riders are generally too annoying to bother with.

I had assumed that when the Southsun patch launched, the sheer amount of people on Karka Island (that’s my pet name for it, I’m a Monkey Island fan) would send the supply ricocheting up and the prices tumbling down, so I was striking while the iron was still warm, at any rate.

Turns out that the devs had noticed the same thing much earlier than I did, with the introduction of Blooming Passiflora and a 200% magic find for supporting the settlers. (Well, that’s a good argument in favor of the refugees, unless and until a dungeon or similar pops up, I guess.)

That's a 20s harvest right there!
That’s a 20s harvest right there! (For now, anyway. Prices to drop more soon, no doubt.)

I think the hope is that a few more or a lot more people look into farming at Southsun (instead of Orr 24/7) and bring some of the prices back into balance.

Whether this will last after the month is out and the buff goes away, I don’t know, it depends on how many people decide they like farming mats here, I suppose.

Some people really detest fighting karka.

I used to be one of them. But I took my experimental spirit weapon guardian even further lately, and bought him an entire set of Berserker’s gear since my other cookie cutter was doing so well on Knights/Berserker’s. (At first I wanted the same, but I wanted to see how much total damage output was possible. Turns out it was a good decision as I drop aggro to pretty much anybody and anything else – including the spirit weapons who now serve as decent temporary minion tanks.)

The new berserker set was also a good excuse to buy myself a rhino helm and dress up like a real Blood Legion soldier. But cooler. (T1 helm, shoulders, armor, T2 leggings and boots. Wrath, Lava, Celestial and Midnight Rust.)
The new berserker set was also a good excuse to buy myself a rhino helm and dress up like a real Blood Legion soldier. But cooler. (T1 helm, shoulders, armor, T2 leggings and boots, Flame and Frost gauntlets. Wrath, Lava, Celestial and Midnight Rust.)

He now cuts through karka like his sword is a real fiery dragon sword, rather than a lukewarm butter knife. Casually comparing my performance with two other random parties who were also farming at the time, I was pleased to note that I killed a karka in about half the time they did. (One was halfway through a karka, and I started a new one and finished at the same time. Another two were in a duo and attacking one karka, and I started a new one, and again finished at the same time.)

Swapping either the armor or trinkets with yellow magic find gear drops the dps a bit, but ups the magic find. I’m still experimenting with the best mix. I found stacking pure magic find up to about 169% to be a bit more pointless, possibly because my kill rate was slower, or I was hitting DR faster, I didn’t know. Maybe it was a weird case of RNG.

Anyhow, I certainly plan on more experiments in Southsun during this new Living Story phase and have been contemplating how wacky it would be to invest in an exotic/ascended magic find set. Perhaps that can be a new stretch goal after I finish my arbitrarily decided goal of reaching 200 gold banked and the Golden title. (Without CoF farming, because the fastest way to personal burnout is repeating dungeons ad nauseam for me.)

And what do I think of the new Southsun content?

Stole this picture from the wiki, since I wasn't clever enough to screenshot it myself.
Southsun Before: Stole this picture from the wiki, since I wasn’t clever enough to screenshot it myself.
Southsun After: It's nice to see the permanent changes to the map.
Southsun After: It’s nice to compare the permanent changes to the map. Big obvious new jungle settlement enroaching into the reef rider vent area. New bridge linking Owain’s with the main part of the island – thank goodness, so tired of climbing up that cliff to get Anders for guild bounty. More developed Captain’s Retreat area. New Crab Toss arena. Pearl Islet with more new resort hotness.
So happy to see this new bridge.
So happy to see this new bridge.

For the most part, I like it, though I have some nitpicks.

How Many Alternatives for Achievements?

I was really pleased to see a lot more options and alternatives for getting to the rewards here.

Some people have a moral stance against ever participating in any form of PvP? Great, don’t do Crab Toss, you still won’t miss out on the reward (assuming you catch and do the later Canach’s Lair bits.)

Some people can’t do the jumping puzzle and have some kind of moral imperative against interacting with a mesmer portal? Don’t get the Islet sample then, but you can still get the pretty flower backpiece.

Some people refuse to do anything that sounds like a dungeon ever? Well, you can already get both rewards even without ever setting foot into Canach’s Lair. (Which, I am hoping is more like an open-world dungeon or a mini-instanced hotjoin dungeon that brings in 15-20 people, but you never know, it may just be the same old 5-man dungeon schtick again. Guess we’ll see at the end of May.)

How Spoiled is the Story?

Some people have criticized the spoiler-ific quality of the achievement text and descriptions on the rewards. I don’t really think it’s a very big deal personally – if you catch a certain DE in the settlement at the center of the island, a settler instigator pretty much confesses to Ellen Kiel that a sylvari put her up to it, and the Inspector names him outright – a sylvari with a beef with the Consortium? Oh, it MUST be Canach we’re looking for!

And there’s all the weird yellow-green flowers that are springing up, and if you visit the karka hive, it’s full of yellow-green explosions of yucky spore-like stuff that personally aggravate me just looking at them, let alone aggravating wildlife…

It's probably my graphics settings, but god, is this hive ugly. (I'll get better screenshots in the next two weeks, promise.)
It’s probably my graphics settings, but god, is this hive ugly. (I’ll crank it up, risk crashing and get better screenshots in the next two weeks, promise.)

Okay, so the story is being told in a non-linear fashion with a decidedly heavier hand than the slow linear time-constrained dripping trickle of information that Flame and Frost got us accustomed to, but whatever. We get the message. I’d actually posit a lot more players get the message than the ones who had the patience to talk to every last NPC (often screenshotting every dialogue because we’re anal that way) and watch the change happen over geologic time.

Different teams always produce different content. (See Call of Duty: Treyarch vs Infinity Ward, and for an example closer to home, GW1: Nightfall vs Factions.) You just roll with it if you like the overarcing game/universe.

How Chic is Conversing?

Welcome to Pearl Islet resort! Home of many easy achievements.
Welcome to Pearl Islet resort! Home of many easy achievements.

Ok, so it was a little startling to simply earn an achievement for talking to some of the named NPCs who are part of the Southsun story. Talk about your giveaway ‘chievos, sorta like talking to a Laurel Vendor for a daily.

But you know what? Who fucking cares. I do not need to feel special through artificial exclusivity. I feel special through having an eye for unique fashion styles and color, and being skillful at what I do. I feel special when I help other people and welcome and include them in my community, teach and learn from them.

You wanna be really special? Be Dulfy. Be a good WvW commander on your server. Be a regular mesmer portaller. I guarantee you that all these people helping their community have a lot more respect than you showing off some artificially scarce item that only proves you have plenty of RL money to spend (well, granted, thank you for supporting Anet and the survival of our game with your gambling addiction, I’m glad in the long term sense that you’re a sucker) or are lucky at the RNG.

But I digress. It’s a short sweet simple way to get people locating the starring NPCs and making sure they at least encounter the words that comprise the story, even if they skip past it all and fail to read it.

And judging by the questions over mapchat like “Where is Subdirector Noll?” it is apparently challenging enough for some. (Never over-estimate your audience, I guess. Or maybe he’s just too short to be noticed. /end Asura joke.)

Besides, some of it is pure fun if you do them serendipitously.

I was just wandering when I dropped into the water, and got a skinny dipping achievement at the same time that I noticed nearly all my clothes had fallen off. (At least I got fur.)

I surfaced to find the beach party and chat with Lady Kasmeer and Lord Faren, chuckling at the conversations, and hung out for a while to add to the eyesore factor while watching several lil ugly Asura running around ruining it further. (Apologies to the two sylvari lying down together by the beach and probably having ERP in party chat.)

I think the crab has evil designs... (There are two female Norn players bar-top dancing in the background. Don't you love Tarnished Coast?)
I think that crab behind me has evil designs… (Besides folks chilling on the beach, there are two female Norn players bar-top dancing in the background. Don’t you love Tarnished Coast?)

How Delicious are the Dynamic Events?

centersettlement

Pretty good, I’d say.

The difficulty and scaling seems fairly spot on.

The aggravated wildlife did teach me once that it was a bad idea to be standing at a settlement entrance and lost in scrutinizing one’s map while in berserker gear. And going AFK safely has been a bit more challenging (climbing up to the huts is a good bet, imo.)

I enjoyed running around doing various DEs. The achievements for supporting either side were completed in a timely fashion. There were lively crowds around to assist, but not to the extent of so crowded that there was skill lag or being utterly unplayable.

Some of my guildies are already making plans for leveling up lowbie characters in Southsun this month, since things are upleveled to 80, the pace of events is good and there’s a current population focus here. I might try that out too at some point.

How Satisfying is Sample Collecting?

Mixed opinions about this one.

I liked that there was an obvious and suspicious looking flower serving as a sample right near where you got the quest and the scanner. That gives a wordless clue as to what to be looking out for.

It was slightly non-obvious how to bring up the scanner again once you put it down. Another person and me spent a while conversing with Researcher Levvi trying to get her to cough up another gun because we’d thrown ours down when some rampaging Veteran Karka attacked the camp. I did eventually think to check my inventory again and figured it out (and told the other person having trouble) but I don’t think we were the only ones initially puzzled.

I ran around randomly scanning and pinging and found maybe half of the samples that way before I started getting frustrated. The yellow glow should have been a little taller and more obvious, imo. The achievement clues weren’t that much of a help (do you know how many shipwrecks there are on this stupid island? Vents and geysers?! At least Cave I knew, and Sandpit was unique – though I didn’t put that one together until after the fact.)

Found the hive samples by myself. It just made evil sense to make players have to go there. Here's the "I was there" flower for players to tell others about how they took down the biggest karka of them all...
Found the hive samples by myself. It just made evil sense to make players have to go there. Here’s the “I was there” flower for players to tell others about how they took down the biggest karka of them all…

So it was back to Dulfy. I’m sure a lot more people just went straight to using her guide and had a lot less pain that way.

Even so, I had a bit of a time trying to find the Vent one, there was just too much steam in the way. I had to try and match my minimap to pixel perfect correspondence with that on Dulfy’s before I finally saw it.

The completionist urge to get the Islet sample also got me to finally attempt and complete the Skipping Stones jumping puzzle, something I’ve put off for a very long time. All that SAB practice paid off, I think. And it was nice to see a resurgence of interest in the puzzle, be able to observe people who knew where to go and where to jump, and have friendly mesmers around as insurance. (One was portalling in stages as they attempted it too, which was handy for folks who wanted to do the jumps but got tired of having to repeat what was done before through a slip of the foot.)

How Crappy is Crab Toss?

Also mixed opinions on this one.

Me off ruining someone's Crabtacular hopes by not being anywhere near crab or karka.
Me off ruining someone’s Crabtacular hopes by not being anywhere near crab or karka. (And also playing miserably.)

If it wasn’t for the ludicrousness of the Crabtacular achievement, I’d actually peg it as a decent enough minigame of ‘fun-in-the-sun’ themed non-serious no-consequences pvp with a very decent reward structure (a karka shell and a loot drop for participating, 5 karka shells and two loot drops for winning. And I’ve gotten greens and yellows from it, others did get exotics while I was there.)

First, it’s not very clear what is required for Crabtacular. Many people seem to have the impression it’s being the last one holding the crab at the end of the game. Some have even claimed that they scored the achievement that way. Okaaay. I dunno, I got mine by being the only one alive while everyone got rolled by a veteran karka. But achievements have been known to bug, so who knows.

Secondly, if your opponents have ANY clue what they are doing, and the goal in any PvP game is after all to attain and compete against others with at least a minimum of skill, they will not all courteously die at the same time for you to attain the achievement. There’s usually at least one or two people sensible enough to stay the fuck away from a karka roll, instead of zergling along chasing the crab carrier.

That makes it a stupid very luck-based achievement if you try to attain it normally. Or you could try the patient route and stay in a game endlessly until other people get tired and the number of participants whittles down to a more manageable number which might reasonably be expected to get unlucky and perish together. (Except those staying tend to be pretty decent at the game, decent enough to tolerate staying at any rate.)

Or, since the game unwittingly creates a Prisoner’s Dilemma for GW2 players who have been trained by other aspects of the game to cooperate together, the easiest way of finishing up this achievement is for no one to defect, and everyone to cooperate.

This was how I ended up getting Crabtacular and the last bit of my Crab Carrying achievement done. Simply hung out in a game until there were three people left, and one of them broached the subject of cooperation. I jumped onto the idea in support, and while it did take a while to get the last party speaking and cooperating (I suspect he was winning and wanted to get the Crab Toss Champion done, he didn’t say anything until he won that match – we’d stopped competing and were trying to get him on board), then we all took turns the following few matches to get each other Crabtacular and stuck around to get the last party his Crabgrabber and me my Crab Carrier.

Lag, latency or ping also seems to be a bit of an issue with this minigame. Against certain opponents, especially playing during NA prime hours, they simply seem to slip away too fast to ever connect with a melee steal or tackle. Playing during Oceanic hours, and I seem to do much better. It could be random pairing with someone skilled, but I’m willing to bet that there’s noticeable performance difference between someone with 30 sec ping vs 300 sec or 500 sec ping.

Still, as a no consequences sort of minigame, it isn’t too bad, though I found previous games like the Lunatic Inquisition a lot more fun. It did help me learn how to predict someone’s movements a bit more and plot how to intersect their path, rather than chase aimlessly behind them. But with seemingly random melee targetting once you get into a scrum, and hard to control facing and a dash that changes distance based on how long you press it (and possibly affected by lag), it’s just not very predictable nor or the skills very reliable – that takes away a good deal of the fun in having control of one’s character.

It might have been nicer as a fun game you could play with one’s guild or with teams rather than a chaotic FFA, but no doubt that will lead to (true) accusations of collusion and match fixing very shortly.

How Fast is it Finished?

A couple hours if you’re really focused. A day or so if you’re less intense about it. Maybe longer if you’re really casual.

Some people think that’s too fast.

I don’t really care. I think it’s fine to err on the side of too easy for something that’s only going to last two weeks.

Somehow the incongruity of this tickles the hell out of me. Brave macho Blood Legion charr with a flower on his back. Maybe growing OUT of his back. Parasitic infections ftw.
Somehow the incongruity of this tickles the hell out of me. Brave macho Blood Legion charr with a flower on his back. Maybe growing OUT of his back. Parasitic flora infections ftw. It’s great that it’s account bound, I can swap the look between characters much more easily without buyer’s remorse.

At least this way, the content locusts will be done quickly with whatever they want to achieve in Southsun and be back to their regularly scheduled activities. WvW will see less PvE event disruption as people can quickly take time out for the event and get back to fighting their endless mist war. Time-starved or very casual people have a chance to reasonably participate and complete the content in a couple hours or a weekend without being expected to be online 8 hours a day for 14 days running.

And people who are still interested in what the island offers are not prevented from still staying after the achievements are all done and ticked away, and the shiny backpieces collected. There’s still dynamic events and materials to farm, xp and karma and loot galore if you want it.

Now to await May 28th and whatever Canach’s Lair has in store for us…

(…and speaking of store… I have $10 waiting for the Consortium harvesting sickle right here. I might drop another ten for a character slot this month too because chronic altholics can’t stop.)