The SAD Project – Day 6 – Slumdog Puglord

ensolyss

It’s Saturday, the start of the Oceanic/Asian weekend, and today’s screenshot story is about facing one’s fears… head on… only to realize with some head-scratching befuddlement that I seem to have developed thicker skin than I thought.

I basically went through the entire gamut of PUGs today – successful run, failed run, achievement run, many many wipes run, normal mode, challenge mode, watched people get kicked, got kicked twice (or at least the vote kick opened and I didn’t stick around.)

All on fractal 100.

It all started when I was idly browsing through the fractal LFGs wondering which fractal I dared to PUG today.

100lfg

The first thing I saw was an offer by a guild to sell the Nightmare fractal – level 100 challenge mode for 40g, and that you could pretty much just afk at the final boss.

You know what I thought?

I thought, DAMN, that’s cheap! Just 10g to each guy. I was pretty darned tempted to just pay and get it over with. If it was a scam, welp, 40g is not very much in the larger scheme of things to lose and you could always report them as a minor consolation prize.

The fear of being scammed and the uncertainty of not actually knowing how to pay/trade for things like this was about 25% of the reason for why I finally didn’t bite. The other 75% was mainly me checking out my achievements panel and going, “ah crap…”

nightmarechievo

I got 5/7 of the standard achievements wandering into a lvl 25 Nightmare fractal by myself on the day it launched, and went “meh, I’ll wait until the PUGs know how to do a smooth run and all the video tactics and guides are out,” and never bothered to go back in again.

Ironically, I ignored fractals so long, the PUGs passed me by in skill level, so to speak.

I basically wasn’t sure if you could even earn the challenge mode achievement if you didn’t have the standard nightmare fractal achievement fully done and unlocked.

Seemed unlikely, given prior historical examples of Anet achievement coding.

Turns out that one of the T4 dailies was the Nightmare fractal, and lots of groups were starting up for it. Most of them at the time I first looked all said, “100cm food/pots/exp” though.

Bleh. Food was no problem, I carry food for raids all the time. Fractal potions are more of a pain, being an infrequent fractal flyer, but I could just take the time to prep and buy a few from the vendor.

Exp… well, ha, I watched Deroir’s nightmare cm fractal guide of a coordinated group run, and I solo’ed most of a level 25 nightmare fractal once upon a time…so… that would be a bald faced lie.

But what the hell, the new post-raids GW2 PUG atmosphere is really simple, right? Fake it till you make it.

If you can lie about legendary insights and be encouraged to do so, because you’re going to get kicked by puglords otherwise, if the veterans don’t feel like teaching or communicating because “go watch a video, go train, go make your own group to die horribly until you learn how to do it our way without error,” (hang on, how are they going to learn how to do it your way if they don’t interact with you?)  if the newbies don’t feel like communicating because the veterans are pricks anyway, what the hell, what’s the worse that can happen?

People say or think nasty things about you, and you get kicked. Oh, is that all?

So I hit the join button with the only 150 AR character I had, the necro, with the sneaky thought that I could cheat a lil and switch to parasitic contagion in an emergency to be even tankier and at least not the first guy to die.

Well, that emergency came pretty soon. There were quite a number of downs, quite a number of deaths. Still, I was holding my own on about 80% of the fractal.

Fortunately, accompanying me in terms of needing scraping off the floor was the group starter himself/herself, aka the person who made the “exp” request to begin with.

The rest of the PUG were surprisingly tolerant of much of the shambles we made, for a time. I got some invaluable firsthand experience of what the mechanics of the challenge mode consisted of, and was busy analyzing and figuring out solutions mid-combat.

The first death knell arrived during a phase when a boss split up into adds at 66% health  that had to be taken down within a time limit. It got blatantly obvious that two of us didn’t have a clue, when three people had put down personal waypoints on the minimap (which I didn’t even see) and the two of us didn’t. My little sheepdog act of following along got semi-exposed. We wiped.

In short curt sentences, the one guy I followed badly explained that the two of us needed to go east, at which point I looked at the minimap and realized there were personal waypoints set and quietly put mine on east, while the rest were busy being grumpy with the slightly more frequently dead and missing mechanics group starter (a warrior).

“at 33 clockwise” was the final cryptic phrase given before combat resumed. I dutifully went east and wailed away at my designated mob. (The warrior died.)

At 33% health, I did a best guess scenario and beelined east and “clockwise” to southeast-ish, managed to find the mob, which no one was attacking, so I guess I got it right. The four of us more or less managed to kill that boss, though two more of us died and had to be sloowly rezzed back to health (hey, at least it wasn’t just me) before it died. (The warrior was left dead and rezzed after the fight.)

The second death knell was the bullet hell rooms. Look, I’m on 250ms ping. I was pugging in NA time. NA folks consider 75ms to be “laggy.” Bullets in GW2’s bullet hell simulation are very rarely where they appear when you’re on 250ms ping. You have to be very very predictive to manage. To be very very predictive, you need the experience which I still didn’t have at that point in time. Things went as well as you might expect, which is to say, not terribly well at all. The one or two remaining guys soloed it, no doubt getting even grumpier.

We went through a number of repeated attempts on the final boss Ensolyss. I got an immense amount of practice in through that pressure cooker experience. Most of the mechanics I was getting the hang of and coping with… except for the third and final death knell.

One of Ensolyss’ attacks is him rearing up and slamming his fist into the ground to create an orange AOE circle that does damage, swiftly followed up by an expanding shockwave that knocks you back. What seems like half a second or less later, a nightmare hallucination forms above you (and each player, apparently) and slams down for massive damage in another orange circle.

I simply could not work out the PUG strategy for this. The organized group video guide said to dodge -into- the shockwave, so that you didn’t get knocked back. I did so, and was usually standing in the middle of a few orange circles for the hallucinations to wreck.

Half the time, my ping was such that I couldn’t hit the dodge key in time to dodge out and away from the hallucinations after dodging in, and the other half of the time, I ain’t had no endurance left. The cm mode damage went right -through- death shroud.

If I dodged out or tried to jump the shockwave, I’d hit the tip of the shockwave and get knocked down anyway, and being knocked down is bad news when death is about to fall on your head at any moment.

It was obvious that other classes were getting by using blocks and invulnerabilities. A necro has no blocks and invulnerabilities. It was a PUG, you can’t rely on a mesmer to distort for you or get group aegis from someone. A necro apparently had to fall back on picture perfect timing with evades and excellent endurance management (or, like in a nightmare 100cm necro solo video I watched after the fact, you do it alone and just dodge out of the -one- predictable hallucination circle, as opposed to the chaotic mess of 5 circles in a group of 5.)

So about 75% of the time, like clockwork, every time Ensolyss did that attack, I’d go down like a ton of green poison bricks.

Still, we lost the warrior first. One of the veterans was pointing out that he/she needed to -dodge- the mechanics (as we were spending half the time trying to scrape said warrior off the floor, and this tended to compound my error rate when I was trying to be too kind and get locked in a rez).

The warrior started to lag behind when restarting the fight, seeming reluctant to try again (or maybe was trying to adjust build, who knows.)

This eventually got on the nerves of another supposed veteran, who initiated a vote kick, and that was the final straw for the warrior, who then quit.

Shortly after, I succumbed to yet another one of those falling hallucinations of death, and that I saw the vote kick pop up for me as well.

I hit leave party without bothering to wait.

In retrospect, what surprises me is more of the silence and overall rudeness of the encounter. After I left without a word, I felt that I couldn’t let that be the last step of the interaction, so to speak, and sent a whisper to the person who initiated the vote kick.

It said, “no worries, I’ll leave, good luck.”

I just wanted to end on a civil note.

At any time, if any of them had said anything along the lines of, “look, this isn’t working, you’re not experienced, could you leave?” I would have.

Of course, no one is in the right on this. Should I have joined a group that said “food/pot/exp?” Probably not. I still did, though. It was one of the fastest ways to get some experience with 100cm.

Should the group starter who patently wasn’t experienced advertise for “exp?” Lol, obviously not. They still did though.

Should the other party member have initiated a vote kick on the group starter and essentially thrown a mini-coup? They still did, though.

Meh, it’s a PUG. “Ideally not supposed to happen, but still does” is like the definition of a PUG.

At some other point in time, mostly in the past, I might have been a bit upset – over how some people are treating others, over my perceived competency/reputation or lack of -, but today, I feel strangely mellow about the whole thing.

The logic goes like this: 100cm is like a mini-raid. It’s made for coordinated groups. Coordinated groups have things like communication, strategy, meta classes that synergize together.

It was a PUG. There was no communication, there was evidently some secret PUG strategy of which I at least saw how the personal waypoint system worked, and meta classes, don’t make me laugh, no chrono, no druid, no warrior (yes, we had no might worth speaking of through the multiple runs.)

And still, some guy who I will probably never see or group with again wants to be picky.

You’re a dime a dozen, buddy. We all are, when we’re slumming PUGlord style.

I will never see you again.

If we see each other again, you will probably not remember me. (-I- don’t remember your name now, just your attitude.)

If you do remember me and refuse to play with me ever again, it’s your choice to narrow down your overall options for people to play with. We all have fun in our own ways. If that pickiness involves 30 minutes of wait time while you sift through people for a specific criteria, I don’t got the patience for that anyway. Hence, I should care zero about your opinion of my competency and actually work on my own competency as evaluated by myself.

And so it goes, this new design of GW2 that makes everyone treat each other like strangers.

After I left, I pulled up the LFG, saw another three fractal 100 advertisements, and jumped into another 100cm at the last boss.

I watched someone even more rabid dog than the first veteran JUMP on a mesmer who had all signets out (not the right build, I assume) and demand kill proof by showing The Unclean title… which the mesmer actually had, hrm.

Surprisingly, they didn’t quite demand any kill proof from me – which I would not have passed – until alas, the falling hallucination of death got me.

At which point, Mr Rabid Dog started to ask, and I got out of there in a hurry with a quick “Leave Party” and nary a word. No civil ending note for this guy. I noticed that basically, incivility breeds incivility.

Mr Rabid Dog would say that I started it, by being one of those inconsiderate silent bastards who ignores “exp” demands on LFG (I don’t actually recall that particular advertisement specifically asking for kill proof until I got in, though, and I certainly had -lots- of fresh -if semi-successful- experience with Ensolyss.)

By this time, the LFG adverts had shuffled around, and I actually saw a 100 normal chievo run pop up. Oooh, this would be handy to round out my 5/7.

You know what? After cutting my teeth on challenge mode, I looked like a complete veteran in normal mode, helping to scrape 2-3 people off the floor here and there, and helping to succeed at a couple of the bullet hell phases. The falling hallucinations of death? Still got hit now and then by them, but they didn’t insta-kill me in normal mode.

That’s where the screenshot at the top of this post comes from. A successful normal mode run, in which everybody got a bunch of achievements and everyone got T4 Nightmare done.

After which, I jumped into yet another normal 100, thinking to get more practice. This one did not go well at all, and after struggling with several total party wipes at the bullet hell stage, I found my patience at PUGing finally evaporating for the day and decided to gracefully bow out with a, “don’t think this is working, thanks all” and a voluntary quit.

Meh, there’re all PUGs. PUGs are unpredictable and unreliable, it’s in the nature of a PUG. I act more selfishly when I PUG. Other people act selfishly when they PUG. You PUG. I PUG. Everybody PUGs. If you PUG, you take the bad PUGs with the good PUGs. If you hate PUGs, then well, don’t PUG.

If I really wanted 100cm done, there are ways. I could pay to be carried through. I could try my luck begging my raiding group for help. I could join an internal guild fractals group. I could start my own PUG over and over until I got lucky. I could try to solo 100cm – there are videos of it being done.

The goal today though was just to join some fractal PUGs and I went for the Nightmare fractal on a whim.

To my surprise, I learn that the rudeness of strangers doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, that I’m capable of acting in ways that others might perceive as rude and annoying and that I don’t care as much anymore, and also that the Nightmare fractal is both interesting and relatively manageable (meaning mechanics-wise, NOT “doable-in-a-PUG-wise.”)

New goals that have now formed from this random exploration: watch more nightmare fractal videos and analyze the encounter with the benefit of some experience, give soloing it a shot some day, get a warrior to 150AR (I’m so triggered by the lack of might in PUGs -and- a warrior has blocks to deal with the falling hallucinations) and test if that’s any better for 100cm than a necro.

Not bad for a couple hour’s worth of play.

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