GW2: A Little Perspective on No-life-ication Sigils (and Math)

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This is probably the biggest profit I have ever made from the TP in six years.

For evidence, I include the other transaction histories, which I think the API records up to the last 90 days or so. Not exactly six years’ worth of proof, but it gives you the flavor of the scale of my normal TP transactions – in the 5-50g range.

As for the nullification sigils, there was certainly no first mover advantage for cross-continental souls like me. Game patches drop at midnight on a weekday when we have to go to work the next morning. 8-12 hours are spent commuting and working and on other real life activities while most of the rest of the world has played all the new content to death, before I can sit down to even download the patch.

Instead, I bought them around two years ago, when Vale Guardian was still the first raid boss ever, and there was still some uncertainty as to whether Sigils of Nullification would become meta (they didn’t, because apparently it’s easier to push a player into playing a required cookie cutter class and build that also has boon strip as a bonus, than to adapt with flexible sigils and variant builds with potential dps loss and role confusion risk.)

They subsequently plunged to rock bottom prices, especially since you would get the choice of one freely while level boosting to lvl 80. (The magic level number is 64, apparently. A detail only now known to many because of its reminted value.)

I doubted they would ever skyrocket, but I figured that perhaps one day in the future, if boon strip ever became more prominent, they might rise a little in the meta’s eyes and be worth oh, a gold or 70ish silver.

At 2.75s or so, it was a steal to buy a stack of 250 from the TP and stuff it in the personal guild bank. I recall considering if I wanted to buy more, but I told myself realistically that despite the hyberbole and envy of wild profits by random commenters, it would be hard to actually release and sell off multiple stacks without crashing prices by letting go of too much at once.

A kind of tragedy of the commons, in a sense, if individual greed overtakes the collective consciousness of the resource owners holding on to the monopoly and keeping prices high.

Still, I maybe should have bought -one- more stack. Heh. Isn’t hindsight fun?

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Come Sep 2018, the unthinkable jackpot happened – Anet creating a demand for it via recipe (like the hundreds of other resources I’d missed the boat with in previous years) and some mixture of Reddit gossip-reaction (possibly engendered by people who stand to profit and indignant random bystanders) sparking a Dutch tulip panic buying mania.

I sold some at 1-2 gold at the start of the demand surge; I sold at 5-6g as the prices started rising; I was busy trying to sell and raid my first raid night because prices were at 8-10g and climbing; by next morning, they had dropped to 7-8g and I sold a few more. The weekend hit and prices soared to 10-12g and I sold still a couple more. Monday weekday and prices dropped to 8-9g and I sold a bit more.

I mean, let’s face it. Whatever price I sell for, it’s a profit when you bought ‘em all for 2.75 silver or thereabouts. The rule in stock markets is not to get greedy. Even if I’m selling to speculators who buy at 7g to list at 12g to make a secondary profit, why not? They benefit (and absorb the risk if the market crashes), and I still turn a profit either way. Win-win.

Eventually the price will crash down somewhat, though it’s unlikely to drop back to costing only silver in a hurry.

About three quarters of my stock is gone and I’m pretty chuffed and satisfied with my total profit already. (Gotta keep some for my future use, after all.)

It’s certainly more liquid gold than I have ever owned in one place. A TP baron, I am not. Those are out there trading in the tens of thousands of gold.

Those who really want requiem armor NOW and weren’t farsighted enough to hoard anything are now indignantly bombarding and rioting across various forums and Reddit (though I do wonder just how many are actually fake protests intended to build panic and overall demand to keep prices high.)

Disregarding the fact that this has happened before in GW2 and in real life over and over again, and that sensible people are content to wait a couple months for things to blow over, demand to drop and prices to settle back to equilibrium (or else Anet will introduce a new way to put more of the resource in circulation in a future patch and woe betide those hanging onto 17k of the resource then)…

…let’s just put the numbers into perspective, against the gem and real money currency market that is always running in the background of GW2.

155 sigils, at say, 3 silver per. That’s about 4.6g to buy.

Let’s assume I made 1258 gold, by summing the sell transaction histories.

(It’s less because the TP charges me a fee to list the stuff, it’ll always take its 15% cut. It’s really 1069g or so. Which brings all the subsequent numbers even lower. I’ll take the higher number for now, as it’s the amount that other people will need to pay. I leave the lower actual profit number as an exercise for the reader.)

Storing the stuff over 2 years, or 104 weeks, means it’s about 12g a week in return. You can get 14g a week just doing dailies daily. Granted, it was a nice lucky insta-bonus for only sacrificing one guild bank slot, but my point is that there are a good number of average people out there who -can- afford to buy the resource at that pace of earning.

-That- takes time, of course, and patience, which is oft in short supply… From thence, does profit lie.

The current exchange rate on GW2spidy:

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If I took that 1258 gold (1069g, really) and converted it all to gems at the current exchange rate, it would net me 1258 / 31.62 * 100 gems = 3978 gems.

3978 gems / 100 gems * 1.25 USD = $49.725 USD

An earlier calculation was $47.5 USD, depending on the fluctuating gem prices. And if you take my actual profit, after Anet sunk their 15%, that brings it down to $42.25 USD.

In the $40-50 USD range, let’s say. It’s not insignificant, but let’s face it, the average consumer buys games worth more than that. An cosmetic armor set in PoE costs $42 USD, and I bought an overpriced Rhino/Nyx Prime pack in Warframe for $59.99 because I really really wanted Rhino Prime.

To say that I made the equivalent of $50 USD by selling hoarded sigils sounds like a lot, but the truth is that there is the equivalent monetary worth of this exchanging hands at lightspeed across tons of games every moment.

Let me quantify that further – $40-$50 in a week (six days, if you want to nitpick) and it was only possible because I held onto a resource for two years and got lucky, it’s not a repeatable on demand occurrence unless you’re spending every hour in game monitoring prices like a mini stock market.

If you live in a country where the average weekly wage is lower or equivalent to this, you have my sympathy, but I suspect the majority of those with the free time to play an MMO do not.

I mean, the cost of the internet connection itself would already be crippling in such a case.

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Now, let’s take the other exchange rate that is more relevant, the amount that someone else has to pay ArenaNet in order to pay me my modest little lottery payout.

1258g / 19.85 * 100 gems = 6337 gems
6337 gems / 100 gems * 1.25 USD = $79.21

Let’s just make it a nice round $80 USD. For this hypothetical someone with a really powerful urge to have glowy armor now and loose wallet strings to convert it all into 1258 gold.

For 155 sigils, for which you frankly only need 25 for the glowy requiem armor collection.

So actually, we should split this hypothetical extremely rich someone into 6.2 (155 sigils / 25 sigils) individuals.

Let’s say 6 individuals to make it a round number.

To give me 1258 gold by legitimately exchanging gems to gold through the official won’t-get-you-banned avenue, they would need to exchange $80 / 6 people worth of gems. $13.33 USD, in other words. Slightly less than the standard price of a monthly MMO sub. Which we know quite a few people are able to afford.

Hell, if we had three to four individuals that were willing to buy the equivalent in gems of a WoW flying mount from the Blizzard store priced at $25 USD, that would make up the 1258 gold right there too.

In an MMO containing some two to four million accounts, possibly 200k in population count (based on 198k GW2efficiency accounts signed up and 188k Reddit subs – which should skew towards accounting only for the players dedicated enough to sign up to third party sites), is it truly that unthinkable that there are 3-6 individuals in that number willing to convert $15-25 USD to gold, to basically power their way through to a desirable set of glowy armor and get it now?

This, in the age of entitlement with lockboxes and whales. This, when people drop like sums on Twitch streamers and blow hundreds of dollars on mobile apps with much less ‘game’ and more ‘gamble.’

Of course there are.

I myself have spent $100-200 USD on other games like Path of Exile and Warframe, and let’s not even begin to add up the cost of monthly subscription games. (City of Heroes in the old days, for a good 4-5 years, at $15 a month… *gulp*)

Mind you, if we assume one junior to average game designer’s monthly salary is ~$2000-$3000 a month, you’ll need the equivalent of 133-200 $15 monthly subs just to cover that one individual.

The scales of the actual numbers involved go a lot beyond $80 USD.

That’s really all it takes to add up to 1258 gold.

To an ordinary player, it seems like a lot. To me, it’s an unexpected windfall. In the realm of the big whales who play with real life money, it’s pocket change.

P.S. As for what will happen to the 1258 gold, chances are more than likely that it will get sunk back into the game in some way.

It might enable me to finish the cultural armor collection, or help me build Astralaria (something I’ve wanted for a while but was always loathe to attempt); I have briefly entertained the insanity of sinking it all into the “I’m Rich, You Know” title, as this is probably the only time I will see 1000g in one place; I could convert some to gems to buy shiny mount lockbox skins.

Pundits will advise to reinvest it into the TP in the hope of more profit, but I’m not really a trader by nature, and all gambles are ventures with some amount of risk – if I cash out now, I can enjoy some of the gains, rather than hedging against an uncertain future, which might not come if the game closes or I quit or whatever.

P.P.S. As for ordinary players unwilling to pay current prices by whatever means, for heaven’s sake, just wait it out. The first days and weeks are always more prestigious and more valued by those who want it now, and want to show it off, and they -will- open their wallets where you won’t.

The current market rate has determined that some people are willing to afford and pay 150-250g (~$10-15 USD) to finish their collection, be it due to OCD or greed or plain impatience.

Prices will drop as they finish, and people will bite at different price ranges. It’s the nature of the beast.

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GW2: Verbosely Replying to Bhagpuss

I haven’t had time to blog because I’ve been too busy cramming in doing stuff in GW2 among ongoing delving in Path of Exile and dabbling in Warframe.

(You’re getting this quick and dirty response because I busted the character limit by a hair when attempting to comment reply to Bhagpuss’ impressions of Living Story Episode 4: A Star to Guide Us.)

That’s perhaps the highest praise I can produce for whatever Anet is doing right in this episode, that I’m more happy to be playing and -experiencing- the content, than complaining or commentating on it because something broke or didn’t feel right.

Beyond very tiny niggles like getting stuck in map geometry here and there because I like to climb all the things and a hiccupping instance that occasionally gets confused as to which phase its in and some eyebrow raising scaling, there’s a LOT more done right this episode.

It reads a bit like a love letter to some of our long ago wishes, hopes and dreams.

I recall Bhagpuss liked Rift’s planar invasions… some of the public events in Jahai Bluffs feels almost cut out of that same cloth.

I loved little places of peace like the peach tree in Lake Doric and Erana’s Peace in an old Quest For Glory game, Sun’s Refuge is like those places writ large, complete with a jukebox playing music from GW1 and GW2 and historical nostalgic lore references back to GW1.

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People wanted armor rewards that weren’t tied to raiding, and we get Elegy/Requeim armor. Others missed world bosses and map metas, and Death Branded Shatterer feels almost like Tequatl in the old days of “this will be a disaster till people learn how to do it properly.”

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Raiding-wise, I’m honestly not very representative of the mindset of a hardcore raider – I lack the competitive drive and overall obsession, for one, and do not really get emotional kicks of triumphant fiero on defeating a raid boss as a general rule.

But the boss mechanics in Mythwright Gambit feel good this time, in that they are predictable.

Pattern recognition seems to me to be part of why raiding is fun for some, to be able to predict what the boss will do and devise strategies to defeat it – a sort of intricate dance, where the strategy formulation is more fun, rather than feeling frustrated because you know what to do but can’t execute because the reaction time required is too short, or because RNG screwed you over by having unpredictable and unwinnable positions turn up.

Predictable equals tangible progress because people can learn the right dance moves through repetition, rather than hoping everyone can react in time and not err in human fashion.

There’s a lot more role and responsibility division / group splitting which has a certain appeal to the solo part of me. You have a job, you do it, that contributes to overall team success when it’s time to come together. I think as long as it stays simple, it’s not too bad – it might get frustrating if those individual responsibilities get made too complex and your team progression winds up at the mercy of someone who just can’t manage it.

The difficulty feels aimed pretty well at a middle of the road raider, not pitched at and balanced for the very topmost.

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The first boss is fairly easy, my group brute forced their way through our first day, after a few aborted attempts, as a number of our party coming in blind. I was honestly still mostly confused about the mechanics after we had won. Only reviewing the wiki and a video in preparation for challenge mode clued me in more.

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The second boss is more middle of the road, it took our group the rest of the raid night to manage it. It involved splitting the team into separate groups, and mechanics were such that you needed the whole team to understand individually how to respond correctly to certain attacks. A bit of repetition got our relatively experienced team through.

I appreciated that tells were relatively clear and gave enough time to prepare to react, for the most part, though things were made complicated by the small size of the enemy model and the general visual chaos of GW2 combat. There was only one thing, small red circles appearing under each player’s feet, that was not visually clear and could have used some of the garish yellow warning coloration in the UI that now accompanies the teleport circles for Vale Guardian and Cairn.

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The last and third boss took a separate night to deal with. I suspect he most resembles what other MMOs expect from raids. There are distinct phases and patterns to learn. Players have to split up into three or four groups at times and then come back together. There’s quite a bit of general lethality and wipes if someone makes a mistake.

I really liked the design of the arena for this fight. The geometric patterns on the floor provide useful cues for where things are going to happen, making a positioning reliant fight easier to predict. Especially interesting is the use of proximity as the aggro mechanic – no easy highest toughness = tank here. It takes groupwork to let the proper tank tank. Everyone else has to stay further away than the tank.

Our group eventually repeated their way through to success, but it was certainly touch and go, since it was our first time seeing whatever the hell happened after the boss reached below 33% health. The tension and excitement was palpable, and I’m not ashamed to admit this was one of the rare times which I actually did experience some fiero after defeating the boss. Not long enough to get frustrated by repeated failure from teammates, not relegated to a role that I disliked and would do badly at; the lack of those bad feelings allowed the joy of victory to take its proper place, rather than sheer relief.

I’m actually looking forward to more of this boss fight weekly, because there’s quite a lot more to pattern optimize – everyone was making mistakes left, right and center in our first attempt and things can only get better and smoother from here as people get more comfortable with it.

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The story (limited as it is – apparently you go for a tour of the mystic forge at Zomorros’ invitation and find that he has an ulterior motive for asking you because he had a mutinous compatriot issue, which your gleefully homicidal group of ten eagerly dealt with without much prompting) is pushed to more of a post-mortem reflection, which is better. Those interested can chat with the NPC after the fact of boss killing, rather than wind up in a conflict between listening to the chatter and getting on with making things dead.

(The environments are gorgeous. Which I think is a more than good enough trade for not too much story in raid instances. Far more enjoyable too after the wing is cleared; I turn settings down way low in raids to prioritize better performance.)

I’m a lot happier to talk about the main story in the Living Story episodes, obliquely, of course.

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Despite the disgraced narrative designer claiming over Twitter that everything in the coming episodes is her handiwork, I think I’d trust the current Anet devs’ comments that the new lead writer Samantha Wallschlaeger and the Open World writer Lily Yu had a far greater hand in steering the story ship.

It’s good.

More dramatic mood, characters who take the lore seriously and have impactful conversations, there’s always a little conflict in every story instance (not everyone will agree on the right direction to go in) and ups-and-downs that feel intentionally introduced for pacing purposes – a happy or comic moment segues into a sad or serious one into a triumphant one into something bittersweet, and so on.

On the whole, I’d call this episode well done. If only it didn’t take so long to produce. But well, we got a big map out of it and a lot more besides. Coulda been a lot worse.

Path of Exile: Delving with a Witch Doctor

Delve league is out in Path of Exile, and I’m right back in the swing of things.

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The league is named for the supposed first of potentially many “infinite” dungeon type systems that Grinding Gear Games may experiment with or work on.

Though with the old Atlas of the Worlds endgame of ever expanding maps that open into more maps that link yet more maps recursively, you’d think GGG already had one.

That, and an old race event type called Endless Ledge which repeated a single map over and over with increasingly insane monsters until you wiped or ran out of race time.

But Delve is a little more sophisticated than Endless Ledge.

You get a map from which you select your next target location. You could plot a path that might take you laterally fighting roughly the same level mobs and earning various treasures and currency, or chart a route that takes you delving deeper and deeper, with presumably increasing challenges.

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I’m nowhere near a respectable deep level yet, but I’ve encountered a change in biome here and there.

At each stop, there are quick encounters with various swarms of enemies or some mini-bosses like rogue exiles to fight, and a mini-treasure awaiting.

The Delve system has its own currency of Azurite, a resource that for once isn’t a currency orb or physical object represented in Path of Exile to clog up your stash, but an automatically vacuumed resource that beelines directly for your character magnet-style and drops into your “wallet.”

At present, there are three things in it. Azurite, Flares and Dynamite.

Azurite is used for crafting Flares and Dynamite, as well as in a Delve specific progression system that increases your pool of storing these various resources, expands light radius, damage done by dynamite and so on.

The mine, you see, is dark. Very dark. So dark you might get eaten by a grue.

If you step away from the light for a short time, a dark debuff stacks on your very quickly and eats away at your health VERY rapidly.

So you’re usually following the precious light-bearing Crawler on its path from one stop to another, with occasional risk-reward forays into the pitch black.

The Crawler is fueled by a resource you can only harvest from the surface, so it is still necessary to ping pong back and forth from the old maps to the new Delve and back again.

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The Delve league also brings a number of less obvious but significant changes.

The devs apparently had to do some stuff in the lighting department to support Delve’s light/dark mechanic, and they managed to pull off light beams on objects at the same time.

Customable light beams, of different colors, on any darn thing you choose. If you can imagine it, you can tweak it.

Most people don’t quite have that imagination, me included, so we’re content reaping the benefits of some very hardworking players with a downloadable item filter – Neversink’s Filterblade, that also eases the work of customization with a whole bunch of options you can tweak via friendly website UI (as opposed to messing with textfiles and esoteric item codes).

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Equally mind-blowing, for me anyway, was a little patch note that said “You can now right click on any stash tab in the drop down list to send it all the way to the left.”

Hallelujah.

When you’ve bought more than a few stash tabs, all your special tabs for currency, maps, divination cards and so on all wind up to the far right at the start of every league.

This is terribly depressing because for many people, me included, it makes the most sense to have the currency tab – something that sees a LOT of use – as the very first thing you want to access on the very left of all your stash tabs.

Previously, one had to drag and drop, scrolling past dozens of stash tabs (I have around 40, what can I say, I’m a hoarder and a reluctant organizer) to get ONE tab where it needed to go.

This league, setup just involved a few right clicks and short drags, and that really motivated me to get off on the right organizing foot.

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We’ll see how long that lasts.

Build-wise, I decided to break from recommended build tradition and experiment with my own, since I started relatively on time this league.

I would still be following the main major changes. Last league, traps and arc got reworked, so arc traps was totally in.

This league, one major highlight is the new melee summoner archetype with a number of new skill gems to support this playstyle.

This is a dream come true. I love melee characters. I love doing damage. I also love supporting with buffs, offensive and defensive.

And I am totally for an entourage of questionably helpful AI-controlled killer mobs because I am a lazy bastard who likes to just walk around and have things die. (I played ranged summoners twice fairly recently and loved them.)

I get to have them all together, you say?

YES PLEASE.

Wait, what’s the catch?

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Well,  the catch is the class that makes the most sense to juggle strength for attacks and intelligence for minions and auras is the Templar, the naked old man above with no pants.

His Guardian Ascendancy was also reworked to support this melee summoner playstyle, and after studying both Necromancer Witch and Templar Guardian – the two classes that start relatively close to the stuff I wanted in the skill tree – it was decided that I really needed to use the Templar.

*sigh*

Microtransaction outfits to the rescue.

The Templar has a very holy, “God”, paladin-y vibe going for him, but it seemed a bit boring to go down that holy armored cleric route.

By chance, I combined a blue Harpy helmet I picked up last league with a red Gore body armor from a very long time ago, and thought “Hrrrrm…”

Red and blue is not really a color combination I’d go for, but it so happens that a lot of this character’s skills are all yellow. It’s high contrast, as they’re all primary colors, but there is a certain color wheel logic to this.

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It ended up working quite well, as my original idea was to try out the reworked Dominating Blow skill gem.

I was also going to swarm things with basic zombies as a minion meatshield – something I’ved used before for fairly decent effect with other characters (at least up to the point of higher level maps where one would then explode without good gear/defences augmenting you).

Dominating Blow wasn’t available till level 28, so in the meantime, I used the new Smite skill gem, in conjunction with Raise Zombies, and also picked up Holy Relic.

Dang, they were good. Smite lets you attack something, and then lightning strikes will hit other mobs. At the same time, if you hit something with it, you and your allies get a short term aura buff that adds lightning damage to your and their attacks.

Slot in the Ancestral Call support, and you get two ghostly helpers that randomly attack 2 nearby enemies at the same time, essentially tripling the Smite attack.

Holy Relic meanwhile will trigger an AoE nova spell on enemies that you hit with an attack (expanding the range of damage of the tripled smite attack) and put on a life regeneration buff that works immensely better on minions than you.

Some experimentation with the slotting of supports for Holy Relic suggested that minion supports could be put on it, increasing physical damage, fire damage, etc. Presumably, this only takes effect when the holy relic buff is on.

But as a melee summoner, you were going to attack -something- anyway, right?

Which in turn buffs all your little minions around you? Whee.

The synergy. Too awesome.

To add icing on the cake, Herald of Purity is the new herald skill gem that adds physical damage to you, buffs minion damage, and creates Sentinel of Purity minions when you kill enemies.

There is a Summon Phantasm on Kill support that creates ghostly ranged phantasm minions – something I was using to very enjoyable effect with my prior SRS raven necromancer.

It got to the point when I actually reached Dominating Blow, after some experimentation, I decided that the minions it created were a little more awkward to play around with than the existing Smite-Nova/Zombie-Phantasm Smash I already had going.

Guess we’ll save that for another build.

The rest of the build choice is a little haphazard for now. Lightning golem just for the attack speed and the off chance its aura might buff a minion or three.

Leap slam with fortify seemed like a decent movement skill. I am also tickled by the fact that both Smite and Leap Slam sound very similar, like the thump of a drum. It all melds with the witch doctor/shaman theme of Thuum Thuum of Doom, and then buffed zombies eat your face while lightning smites others in the background.

At level 46, I am feeling the shortage of life just a tide, but there are several life/energy shield nodes coming up in the planned tree, and my gear sucks for now, so we’ll see how it goes and adapt from there.

SSF experimental build life.

The fun is in the guesswork and tweaking things as you go along. If it works, you learn and remember. If it doesn’t work, you die and then you learn.

Most importantly, I am having a blast.

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And that’s the crux of it.