GW2: Light Up The Darkness

The more things change...

5 years (shy of 1 week) to the date, I defeated Liadri the Concealing Darkness for the first time.

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(Still the same mini, but I might have consumed a teensy bit of bloodstone dust in the interim…)

There are orange circles now in the arena; and the ceiling dome has gone.

The power creep is tangible – where I used to be in exotic berserker gear and called it a day, ascended zerker is now my standard baseline; the burst damage I can output as a raid-built dragonhunter who knows how to use food and utility now is likely 3 to 4 times higher than whatever I was using back then.

I’d like to think that my ability to analyze and solve for a GW2 combat situation has gotten a hair more refined. Am I too slow? Is it because I am always crippled? What condi cleanse do I have for that? Unsoweiter.

I actually know that I can count off and dodge for an invulnerability frame now (even if the execution still requires practice to refine), and can stand relatively unfazed in a sea of orange ready to dodge at the proper timing for my latency, so that the invulnerability kicks in as the shadow orbs shower down.

Even the stress of gearing for a specific encounter has been muted somewhat, by owning both a legendary light and heavy armor set, and not a few ascended pieces across 25 or so alts.

Not completely gone, because inventory management is still hell, but if I want to waste an hour or two to rummage around and/or spend a few currencies here and there, I can probably put together something if I’m desperate enough.

But between my usually played characters and classes, there’s probably something that will work already.

We cruised through the first three tiers in a day, killing two birds with one stone by taking the On Fire gambit and finishing both Gauntlet Contender (defeat 12 bosses) and Gauntlet Favorite (defeat 12 bosses with one gambit) achievements at the same time.

My hoarding habit came in handy, because I found nearly two stacks of really old Queen’s Gauntlet tickets in the bank – all 250 + 231 of them ready for the using. I threw the full stack into the newfangled shared inventory slot to make my life easier.

Oh, there were a few speedbumps here and there. I’d forget how a particular boss worked (thanks, Suriel!) and experiment a little here and Google for an old guide there.

I’d realize my dragonhunter wasn’t going to be the best for a particular achievement (kill one Subject 7 ooze without touching the other oozes? When I pretty much do AoE in all directions? Yea, not happening) and swap to another character. Something I also vaguely remember doing in the mists of time. Usually on the necro. Same old, same old, except more powerful.

Revisiting basic 3-orb Liadri took another day, mostly because I wanted to plan ahead a little, plotting out various build options after reviewing some old guides and videos.

It was surprisingly painless on the whole, maybe taking some 8 tickets or thereabouts to recall the old patterns of where to stand (thank goodness I blogged about it). It was a lot easier to deal with the shadowfall with the orange circles and overall calmer confidence in my capability to handle it (plus willingness to eat +dodge food.)

And once three orbs were thrown into Liadri’s face, dragonhunter spike damage with spear, trap, scepter and torch is almost unfair.

Turai Ossa took another couple of days. His fight patently favors the fast and mobile tanky/healing build types with preferably lots of blocks/evades/invulns as the goal is to avoid or withstand his ludicrously hard hitting stunning attacks in some way until he divests himself of first his shield, and then his sword… by flinging them at you in extremely painful fashion. After which, you must break his bar with crowd control and then proceed to damage and defeat him.

I own practically zero tanky/healing builds, nor am I terribly practiced with fast and mobile classes. A mirage is apparently near perfect to deal with him, and I don’t even know how to play base mesmer well, let alone chronomancers or mirages. *shudders*

There was a fair bit of build experimentation, courtesy of legendary armor and a bit of scheming. I gave it a shot with a tanky/healing block-laden guardian – except I’m not really practiced with that aspect of the class, and I rather did not realize at the beginning that Turai was supposed to be broken after he flings his shield and sword.

I tried a healing/barriering scourge, with not that much success as well – others succeeded by being very adept at necromancer mobility skills, but I was essentially flailing around with unfamiliar non-muscle-memory skill sequences.

Ultimately, what worked for me was going back to a familiar class – warrior. I put a bit of Soldier gear on, switched my traits based on watching a video of someone who did it with a warrior, and while watching said video, it -finally- clicked that I needed to break Turai before he was open to being damaged.

A few more trial-and-error attempts later, learning a bit more at each go, Turai was defeated (by a hair, I was kinda downed at the last, but we’ll take it. Fear the warrior Rock.) Kingslayer get.

And now we were back to that old bugaboo – 8 orb Liadri.

In 2013, my framerate was 12, on a good day. Maybe dropping to 6, if the Boss Blitz zerg went under me. I surrendered.

In 2014, my system apparently could manage 20+, but I wasn’t mentally ready for it then.

“Maybe next year,” I said, but next year never came. No festival in 2015. Or 2016. Or 2017.

It’s 2018, and the Queen’s Gauntlet is finally back.

My upgraded graphics card and system manages 50 FPS. (My ping has increased to 280ms -with- a VPN, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.)

It was time.

30+ tickets were thrown into the meat grinder, along with the first build I’d determined I’d give a go. A tanky necromancer with parasitic contagion and blood magic, with spectral grasp pull and spectral walk for speed, maybe some minions to distract Liadri, a shroud bar for extra health reservoir.

It wasn’t horrible. I’d get about 4-5 orbs in before things started to fall apart.

Picking up orbs felt really slow with my ping, while I was locked in combat courtesy of the minions and while the standard sigil of geomancy on my weapons kept trying to proc unnecessarily each pickup.

I just could not figure out how to use spectral grasp in a reliable fashion to pull 2-3 minions into the light – the whole reason for the pull to begin with. It’d pull one if I was lucky, leaving the rest nearby to contend with, while locked in a pickup animation. If unlucky, I might pull all three into me, with only one turning into a light orb and the other two inches away from blowing me up.

I ended up swapping it for the blinding well, which was somewhat helpful, in that I could put it down, blinding the visions as they popped and cleared the arena to make life easier. And somewhat not helpful, in that there were then less visions that could be used as light orbs.

The problem I encountered was that the necromancer was still somewhat slow, especially when crippled, with limited escapes besides two dodges.

In theory, I could clear the crippled condition; in practice, there were so many things on my mind, including not dying, trying to position self for visions to turn into light orbs, trying to pick up orbs without dying, trying to remember just how many damn orbs I’d thrown, trying to remember to renew conditions on everything in order for parasitic contagion to kick in and help prevent me from dying, while running around at half health and almost dying, that I’d run around with crippled and THEN die to some mistake or another.

All that chill and crippled on the visions were probably also not helping the speed at which they were approaching the light pools to be converted into light orbs.

Adding a little salt to the wound, my latency meant that the visions’ movement could get a little de-synced and unpredictable. They’d look to be a feet away, but then suddenly, you’d be downed and booted out of the arena. (In one memorable instance, I was watching a vision walk straight on at me into a light patch, except it managed to pop and kill me first before hitting the light patch. What the-? I don’t even…)

To make things laughable, nearer the end part of the 30-something spammed tickets, I was getting kicked out of the arena with “Event Success” and no achievement.

Apparently, as I started losing track of orb throwing and just trying my darnest to survive, the necromancer’s conditions while autoattacking were whittling down Liadri’s health faster than I could hurl 8 orbs safely at her. (With goodness knows how many missed opportunities I just had to walk away from, because I’d die if I tried to pick up that orb at that point in time.)

With another 100 more goes at it, I might have made it work, but it wasn’t quite working out as I’d hoped… so I went to plan B earlier than intended.

What I needed was something that would clear conditions fairly automatically, have more than two dodges, and keep the visions controlled enough to be harmless while I walked in and out to pick up the light orb with not the greatest latency.

Without any experience worth speaking of on a mesmer (ie. clones, mirage evades and pulls), that meant a daredevil.

P/D, apparently, was the way to go, said one 8 orb Liadri video.

Lovely.

Of course, it’s the ONE armor weight I don’t yet have legendary armor for. (It’s so fugly.)

The video I watched said berserker was fine. Another Reddit thread I read said they managed it in marauder. I wasn’t quite sure because I’m really pretty bad on a thief too – just a tide more experienced on it than a mesmer.

P/D, if you look at the pistol, also strikes me more as a condition damage weapon?

I rummaged around in GW2efficiency to look at my available medium armor sets on all my characters – no marauder unless I wanted to buy one wholesale with magnetite shards, plenty of berserker…. oh wait, what’s this? A Trailblazer set?

Toughness, Condition Damage, Expertise, Vitality.

I’d been using the set as part of a WvW roaming pistol thief experiment once upon an age, before repurposing the thief as a berserker deadeye for more lethality.

This seemed pretty good to try. Not much tankier a thief could get while still doing -some- damage. I could practice with this for safety and getting the hang of the build, and if I ended up running out of time to kill Liadri, then I’d switch in pieces of berserker or viper.

I started with the traits and skills as shown in the video, decided that I wasn’t really putting the precision signet to any real use after a few attempts, and swapped it to scorpion wire for a pull.

Man, P/D daredevil felt so good. Three dodges. One pull. Cloak-and-dagger on a vision to stealth for four seconds – juuust enough time to run in and snatch a light orb from under the visions’ noses, if I didn’t screw up. One teleport when alive, one teleport when downed. Vigor and decent amount of healing. Some thieves’ guild allies every now and then to keep Liadri tangled up while you busied yourself hurling light orbs at her.

The one problem? I was still losing track of just how many orbs I’d thrown.

3 orbs had an obvious counter and tell – there’s a buff for each and she starts moving at you after three. Each orb after that apparently adds a stack of vulnerability. So in theory, you want 5 vulnerability stacks, then you kill her.

In practice, goodness knows how many other skills add vulnerability, you’re detargeting her every now and then to deal with the cosmic rifts or stealthing off visions, and you’re still trying not to die from everything that could kill you in the arena. (Even if a daredevil has a lot of tools to manage this, it still needs managing.)

So it actually came as a surprise amidst all the dodging and throwing and stealthing and throwing and dodging some more, when I got chucked out of the arena and a 32,500 AP chest opened up in my face.

Eh? Wha? Huh?

20188orbchievo

Oh.

2018lightupdarkness

OHHHH.

It’s really rare in a game that I feel strongly about anything – even a Dhuum kill left me feeling mostly tired/relieved/”Ok, that’s done” rather than triumphant – but the abiding sense of satisfaction that washed over me is hard to put into words.

Five years.

I couldn’t do it then. Between my lack of tools and lack of requisite knowledge.

And now it’s done.

It feels… good.

Completionism sated. Achievement get.

Apparently, between all the pistol autoattacks layering conditions on her and the thieves I’d been chucking at Liadri, they took care of the killing portion and I’d managed to hurl 8 orbs without even realizing that I could be defeating her already.

That was pretty good yet unintentional timing on the AP chest though. It was an extra rewarding surprise.

Stress over, that albatross hanging around my neck is gone. A bit more cleanup on some leftover achievements, then maybe I’ll mess around with the other new champions for fun in the leftover festival time.

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2 thoughts on “GW2: Light Up The Darkness

  1. Nogamara says:

    Very fascinating read, though even as a currently inactive GW2 player none of these names really ring a bell, congratulations!

    But this reminded me a bit that I think I’m just bad at GW2 in a sense I usually wasn’t bad at WoW. Sure, I’ve only solo’d and duo’d stuff, I sometimes have problems with elite/champion mobs but in full Exotic Berserker gear (on a Warrior) I found parts of HoT already so hard I gave up and switched to leveling alts.

    • Jeromai says:

      It’s mostly game specific knowledge, so I wouldn’t come down hard on yourself. It can be learned.

      HoT mobs, for example, were kind of a reaction to the melee stacking dungeon meta of the time, so nearly everything punishes melee stacking and is better off killed at range. Most warriors don’t use a ranged option… hence, problems.

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