GW2: Tick, Tock, Time Passing

One has been trying to go back to some semblance of a normal routine in GW2…


…insomuch as anything in a post-Heart of Thorns world can be considered “normal.”

What’s permanently changed, I fear, is the tone of the community.

Raid guild drama is a thing now. Those that prefer optimal and effective are now at loggerheads with those that have a more set vision of their character or simply do not yet have the resources to reach said optimal and effective state.

With the tight tuning of raids, the former feel more factually justified in outright attacking the latter group (or simply silently scorning them), and well, when people get attacked, they become defensive in turn and may attack back.

I dunno. My reaction to all this is to feel less inclined to participate in the general community, ducking back into the shelter of ever-so-slightly more laissez-faire guilds (though they too haven’t been completely immune) and isolating myself – presumably up to the potential point where said guilds implode if someone can’t take it any longer.

(At which point, I guess I look for yet another guild or re-evaluate my place in the game. I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news that I’ve lost the passion to get worked up about it either way, I just feel resigned, distant and somewhat mellow about it all.

A sort of old person’s “eh, it’s inevitable, why get worked up about how the world works, just live in it the best you can and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go” indifferent attitude has pretty much overtaken me.)

On a more personal level, I have been amused to discover that GW2 life now requires more scheduling than everyday real life (work included.)

I am not as stressed out as some other people are feeling, at being “on the clock” so to speak, mostly because I have a fantastic ability to ignore said clock when I don’t feel like it.

However, since I’m also a little obsessive and occasionally follow the cult of GTD in order to stay organized, I kinda need to have it all laid out in front of me so that I know what I’ve chosen to ignore (and what shouldn’t be ignored.)


So yeah, I’ve now started a Google calendar for my GW2 guild events…

I haven’t even finished adding all the stuff of my NA guild yet (most of it will be moot since I can only make Sat/Sun stuff, and I’ve already memorized those timings.)

I tend to chuckle wryly when I look at it though, at the sheer craziness level of it.

Granted, most of the green stuff are TTS events, which are very much optional, and I strictly don’t have to attend -any- event at all (as long as I’m willing to deal with the consequences, such as being removed from a progression raid roster), but I like to touch base with my guilds whenever I can, especially if I also want to do said event they’re planning to do.

Squeezing personal solo time in between all these social get-togethers has been somewhat tricky.

The irony of it is that a good part of that solo time goes to dailies (oh, a world boss daily, so check Dulfy’s world boss timer – yes, I have it bookmarked) and half-hearted attempts at achievements/collections, many of which are in Heart of Thorns, so enter the new kid on the block, GW2 wiki’s event timers, which displays the HoT zone timers in easily understandable graphical form.

I really don’t mind it as much as some, but yeah, I can see why some people might be feeling stressed out.

What’s really been pissing me off over the last few days is the sudden weird increase in reported ping.


What’s really strange is that for the most part, the game plays the same and it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess I have to commend whichever department of Anet was working on masking the effects of ping, especially when it comes to dodging AoE red circles.

I was raiding all Saturday morning with 475 reported ping, and beyond one or two accidental teleports from a blue AoE that I apparently didn’t move out in time, and a little bit of skill lag, it wasn’t exasperating or  utterly unplayable.

However, I have no idea what this actually means in terms of objective DPS dealt, if there was any impact on that front.

(Our team got to about 5% of the Vale Guardian’s health, the closest I’ve gotten so far, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next week.)

The good news is that I have absolutely ZERO desire to progress on to Gorseval while this plagues me, because I’m 100% certain that a glider malfunction WILL occur with such ping.

I learned this by utterly wasting a good bit of solo time trying to work on POIs and vistas and adventures that all required gliding.

After the fifth time my glider choked and refused to deploy while I was vainly attempting to reach the Wings of Gold aventure in Auric Basin, I thought to check my ping and discovered the abnormally high number.

(I hear some NA folks complaining about 200-300ms ping – I’m like “HAHAHAHAHA Welcome to -normal- Oceanic/SEA life. Why don’t you get gud now and see how you like it.”)


A tracert to suggests that the bulk of the slowdown might be happening somewhere around the servers, which are apparently quite infamous for such issues (if only because they are a major backbone and the bulk of internet traffic goes through them or whatever.)

I can only pray that it’s just Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday week having an effect on Internet traffic and that this too shall pass.

If not, then someone somewhere needs to fix their shit.

In the meantime, this has a surprisingly mellowing effect on my stress levels because it’s like, this is -totally- out of my hands, there’s no point trying to obsess about being all optimal and effective and efficient and uber and try to be all elite successful raider bruhaha when YOU HAVE 600+ PING.

600+ ping can only be dealt with from a long-term patience mindset.

It’s either:

a) it will eventually go away and then you will have sufficient opportunity to try again and do whatever you want to do, in the long term


b) it won’t go away and you may as well quit this MMO and all other MMOs and go play singleplayer offline games.

There’s a certain pristine clarity that comes from basically not having any viable options beyond the basics.

“Ok, I can kill mobs solo very slowly and harvest nodes, or sit on the world boss bus. Or stay in the city and sort my inventory. Or I can quit and log off until the lag goes away. The end. That was easy.”

GW2: The Constructive Criticism Postscript to Raids

Ok, I lied. In the spirit of being positive, let’s not end on a downer note.

What are some viable things that Anet can do in the future to improve the GW2 raiding experience?

Personal DPS meters (with serious enforcement of bad behaviour/harassment of others)

Since we seem to be past the point where masking the numbers make sense, let’s have them shown to ourselves only, possibly only in specific places like raids, Heart of the Mists and/or a separate PvE testing area (perhaps in our guild halls.)

If that’s too much work, then a copychat command to save the combat log in text form will let third-parties construct parsers for it.

If a certain amount of exclusion is unavoidable, then let’s at least have them be based on objective fact, especially the actual practical dps you’re outputting in a raid environment, which can be very different from theoretical dps.

Any resultant swings in player favor of one class over another is then impetus for better overall class balance.

To stave off the bludgeoning of weaker players with a DPS meter and waving of e-peen around, Anet should commit to seriously enforcing reported verbal harassment, in a similar way that FF14 comes down on DPS meter reports in-game (it’s don’t ask, don’t tell there, apparently.)

You shouldn’t get punished for saying “Hey, Player X, your dps is insufficient for our group to finish this boss. Could you swap in skill/trait Y?” “Or sorry, until you get Z stats, we have to remove you from our raid group for now.”

But “lolfuking n00b, he only got 1k dps, boot his sorry ass” consistently over time ought to build up to a couple days’ suspension / time out for toxicity.

Dial Back Enrage Timers or Remove Them Entirely

Enrage timers reduce the pool of viable choices, reducing variety and options for players who might like to play certain classes or stats. Why punish group creativity if that particular guild is willing to accommodate certain players with a more novel group composition?

As mentioned to Ravious, a group of ten people in Nomad’s would still have trouble on certain boss mechanics of the Vale Guardian (lacking condition damage, controlling tank aggro would be hilarious) and already be imposing a time penalty on themselves by taking way way longer to clear a boss than other groups.

Players will naturally try to speed up over time. Dungeons have no enrage timer and competitive speed clearing was still very much a thing, with PUGs still insisting on zerker gear to clear at a “normal” acceptable speed.

Failing which, keep the over-tuning enthusiasm for the final bosses of each raid wing, and dial back on the first / earlier bosses so that players can at least have their learning and progress scaffolded a little more, rather than get immediately shut down on entry.

Being a little more lax on timing gives some leeway for latency, so that players around the world aren’t as disadvantaged or immediately excluded, instead of only limiting the raiding subset with the fortune to live near wherever the servers are hosted.

Institute a Wider Spread of Stepped Partial Consolation Prizes

Getting a few magnetite shards for getting the first boss past 50%, and other health milestones is a good first step, but the concept could still use more iteration.

I’ve mentioned the bronze/silver/gold suggestion from Reddit user Mireles before, and this would be nice in conjunction with dialed down enrage timers. Gold would be the current enrage limit (or silver, and make gold even more insane) and bronze would at least help to encourage all those groups who are hitting the current 5-10% health before wiping.

More Flexible Ways to Swap Gear without Clogging Inventory/Bags and Taking Too Much Time

I think this goes without saying, build saving / loading has been a constant wishlist item.

Ideals would be something akin to the current PvP design – once you have a piece of Ascended armor of a certain weight, rarity tier and stat spread, it’s unlocked for your account and you can swap into it at will.

A stopgap measure that at least solves The Rune/Sigil Switching Problem is to have a way to make upgrade extractors in-game and/or lower the gem price so that they aren’t insanely costly. Perhaps say, 10 silver a rune/sigil extraction?

Hell, make the upgrade extractor a permanent tool like the salvage-o-matics and charge 10 silver a pop for it.

Improved LFR tools

Stopgap measures would be swapping the text on dungeon tabs like another Reddit user suggested (whose link I don’t seem able to currently locate) so that the categories more accurately reflect current player interest.

Later improvements could be things like:

  • Making it easier for raid leaders to see and invite to squad (rather than their current workarounds of leaving squad, joining party, chatting, asking the person to squadjoin or come to the same map instance for a squad invite, whatever…)
  • Tools that let someone post an advertisement for a certain class and leave it up while logged on, while being able to log onto a second character to get other things done like map exploration or leveling. (Currently, it looks very awkward if you advertise as one class and people see you on another class altogether.)

Yes, the intent was for people to do raids as a set, organized group, but as we can already see, there’s always going to be floaters / mercenaries and groups that need one or two people to fill spots from time to time. (Especially with a ten-man hard limit.)

One may as well help the two parties to meet up a little better.

An Alternate Option for Legendary Insights

The best way to avoid accusations of “feeling forced” to do content is to provide an alternative. At least then the player has a choice of the lesser of two evils, even if he does not like either.

Several alternatives would, of course, be preferable.

Thoughts along this line would be things like:

  • Solo challenges on a Liadri and higher (8 orb Liadri, and even worse than Liadri) scale
  • Guild group WvW challenges on a similar scale (perhaps Yakslapper-like WvW league achievements that can be contributed to by guild members over time playing WvW, or hold X territory for however many hours, or whatever – and each player would have to meet a certain level of participation to qualify for the seasonal reward)
  • and/or making the Legendary Insights sellable/tradeable (depending on if it’s desirable to have Legendary armor be like old weapon legendaries or the new ones)

I think instituting some or all of the above would go quite a long ways to making the GW2 raid experience more palatable to more player types in the population.

Ok, now I’m done.

GW2: The Final Word on Raids, As Far As I’m Concerned

I spent my vacation week doing my best to sample as broad a range of raid groups as possible, exhausting my entire three-guild network (and taking steps to broaden out to a fourth, after cleaning up a guild bank and leaving it in the hands of my second account), not to mention clogging up the LFG tool in the hopes of being used as filler for other guilds’ raid attempts.

As you might expect in a random sample, there were good groups and well, not-so-great or seriously struggling ones.

I do think a majority of the small guild raid attempts I joined will get it over time, especially the ones with a static core group with the odd guildie or PUG filler, given sufficient practice on members’ parts and/or time to adjust builds and buy the necessary gear.

Quite a long time for some though. I had to bite my tongue to remain a polite PUG filler while eavesdropping on certain TS conversations.

“Is 200 condi damage a tick ok? That’s enough, right?”

Long pause, before another person answered, “Errr…probably not. Just as a standard of comparison, my engineer does 6-9k/tick condi burns.”

And that’s before we even look at the poison and bleed the engi is also reputedly able to output.

In another raid attempt, a warrior did his best to persuade me that I should be using a sword for extra bleeds, instead of a greatsword, even after I told him I’m in full zerker and have zero condition damage.

I dunno, I’m already dying here trying to maintain 25 might stacks with Sigil of Strength and still eke out 36-40k hundred blades damage while remembering and often failing to use Whirlwind Attack – preferably as an evade rather than use up a dodge – Bladetrail and Rush in perfect flow sequence to get another 8-11k per hit in.

Oh, and keep dodge rolling to keep endurance bar half-drained so that Stick and Move’s 10% damage can come into play, but leave enough endurance so that you can actually dodge a teleport AoE in case Whirlwind Attack is on cooldown.

Plus I respec’ed to the Berserker elite a day ago because another person in another raid group pointed out that PS Berserkers are capable of doing more damage than PS warriors – which on looking at the traits, seemed very much more objectively true.

(Note: When you’re -trying- to rush out the last few hero points for an elite spec ASAP, the Heart of Thorns zones are an infuriating place of can’t-solo-this-point-or-that and nope, not letting you run past these mobs without getting pwned.)

There are quite a few more skills Berserkers need to use, including the F2 going berserk that ups attack speed, their burst skills – that trigger the Berserker’s Power trait for even more percent damage, the elite Headbutt to recharge adrenaline for yet another burst and so on. All with cooldowns that I’m still not used to and don’t have the timing quite right.

It all ends up as a garbled mess of button pressing and leaves me still feeling very much inadequate compared to the successful kill videos, where some of those hundred blades go up to 56k. Not sure how they’re hitting those numbers really, maybe they’re getting more buffs from their group composition.

Yep, I’m sure you’re right and that putting on my exotic sword for a couple extra 50-200/tick bleeds on the Vale Guardian, instead of my Ascended Axe with the Sigil of Strength on it would really help your group right now!

P.S. I have a condi burn guardian if you really need condi for red. Pls love him. He can go up to 9-11k burning (I saw a 14k once that I’m still working on trying to achieve again. Not sure how the stars aligned for that though.) Reality check: I’m still getting the hang of him and only hit 5.5k averages, and he’s squishy as fuck and really hard to play in comparison.

P.P.S. Yes, I’m sure a properly specced berserker elite spec warrior with viper/sin gear can do very -nice- condi damage with sword bleeds and whatever else gives burning. Probably torch and longbow. I haven’t looked at those traits in detail yet, and that warrior certainly wasn’t telling me to do this. It was more like, “Yo, use a sword with your mace. It’ll give extra bleed damage! It’s better than axe! I’m telling you, it’ll be the meta any day now!”


I did get into other raid groups which I was pretty envious of, they looked organized, competent, fairly coordinated but still working on mechanics, and were pushing past to phase 3 or 4, before the break bar AoE shower coupled with green circles would cause a group wipe. (I wish I’d taken note of some of their names, but I was PUGing in irregular hours that I can’t manage consistently, so it seemed like a moot point.)

So it’s not all tragic, I just tell the out there stories because well, they’re way out there.

Tomorrow, I go back to work.

With the impending onset of reality, I find myself doing some serious personal soul-searching.

I am forced to admit that my last week’s gameplay style was unsustainable. (For me, personally. YMMV.)

I can’t sit around in LFG for hours on end, hoping to get picked up, and hang out in Teamspeak channels waiting for some group organizer to come in and say they need one more X, and pray that X is a character you can bring and that they want you.

I’ve signed up for progression raids in at least two places, but it’s obvious to me that a) you’re at the raid organizer’s mercy, they can pick you or not, depending on their preferences, and b) even if you do get the spot, there’s nine other people that may or may not play well, and -their- progress is not exactly something you can control reliably. (Same goes for yourself, -they- may be impeded by your lack of progress.)

In other words, it’s like a lottery. Maybe you’re lucky, maybe you’re not.

Feels almost like flushing stuff down the Mystic Toilet for precursors. (You have to put in no small amount of effort in the beginning to get enough things to flush. The flushing is completely out of your control. And the more times you flush, your chances of getting a precursor back is higher.)

It doesn’t mean you don’t try, of course, but I keep having to remind myself not to obsess over things that are out of my hands. I’m trying to learn patience for these longer term endeavors, and it seems I have as much of a way to go on the Serenity Prayer as I do on getting better game-wise.

Trying to raid 7 days a week in the hopes of getting lucky and managing to PUG a boss kill is not something I should be, or would enjoy doing.

Sustainable would be something more like once or twice a week. In a static group, assuming one has the fortune to get into one. (Remember: out of my hands, out of my control. *twitch* If not, the alternative would be to designate those one or two days I was going to give to a static raid as an advertise as PUG filler time too.)

Thing is, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist. I can’t go all hardcore WvWer, PvPer, fractaler, raider, whatever and only spend time in one game mode playing it repeatedly to death. So I have to come to terms with not being able to progress as far or as fast – somehow I accept the first three a lot easier than the last, not sure why.

In exchange, I get to play a greater variety of things every night. I’ll have time to do some map meta events, I can run around solo and harvest all the things or work on my collections and stuff.

Not to mention, I want a life that not only includes other GW2 activities, but other games, and *shock, horror* other non-computer-related real life activities, in the tiny spaces that are not working salaried hours.

This is not an easy decision, from an emotional point of view. There is just something in me that says, “Well, -they- did it, why can’t I, if I put in the same amount of herculean effort?” Maybe I’m just too conditioned to chase carrots-on-sticks and I’m bulldog persistent to the point of self-detriment. I find it a lot harder to make myself let go and accept openness and up-in-the-airness, rather than keep banging my head against the wall until it finally cracks and I get a sense of relief and closure.

There’s a treadmill there. I don’t have to stand on it. Or I can run on it a little and get off whenever I want to. It’s like “Wat. I don’t even… does not compute.” The concept is harder to master than a DPS skill rotation.

Especially when it’s a treadmill that doesn’t quite fit or work right, and may not be comfortable to run on.

Part of what helped me approach this decision was a conversation I had with a seasoned guildie. This guy knows his stuff (I think he’s in Attuned), when he tells me that Lupicus goes after least toughness in phase 2 and highest toughness in phase 3 or something similar, I’ll take his word for it – I presume he’s tested it or has heard from -his- contacts about such things.

He’s at the second boss, Gorseval, and -he- says it’s crazy.

And over-tuned. Way too tightly tuned.

I told him, no shit, this is what happens when you use DnT as your benchmark.

I think what puzzles both of us, in our own separate ways, is “Where is the room for progression, if the first and second bosses are like this?”

He wonders what the later bosses and subsequent raid wings are going to be like. Are they going to be even more insane?

What room does Anet have to maneuver, beyond increasing stats on gear, if they start from such a high baseline and have to keep ramping up?

I wonder about the encouragement for beginning raiders if they bog down right on the first boss from the get go. It’s not exactly the sort of thing that helps permeability into a raiding culture, I should think. More the divisive “can, can-not” divide right from the start.

Who loses in the end? The isolated subgroups. I think the hardcore WvWers can tell you how that feels like, when the whole place is empty save for them.

In our conversation, I mention the potential effect over-tuned encounters can have on latency-ridden Oceanic players. Not so obvious an effect in combat, but more noticeable in things like gliding or picking up item bundles.

Plenty of gliding at Gorseval, he says. Effed.

I’m like, I know. (And not terribly looking forward to it, to be honest.)

Then he tells me that class balance is way outta whack. The revenant autoattacks for super-high damage as compared to every other class, apparently.

Suddenly it makes a great deal of sense to me why plenty of successful group comps on Reddit use 2-3 zerker revenants/heralds.

If it’s less easy to screw up on a revenant and still do great damage, then duh, why not take the rev? Screw the other classes for now, until the impending revenant nerf. Which will no doubt arrive eventually.

There are cheese strategies making their rounds among the higher-level groups, supposedly.

(Not an accusation, it’s quite typical for certain Bartle explorer / spade types to poke holes in systems till they bleed. It’s what they do.)

I think some hints of that have spread onto the GW2 Reddit, with plenty of controversial disagreement over whether the Vale Guardian’s break bar should be broken or left alone, or whether certain races’ racial skills are a little OP for the Gorseval fight especially in conjunction with elite specs.

Most of all this I find rather inevitable, but what is more concerning are the implications.

Are we going to end up not just pigeonholing by gear and class and spec, but RACE now? LF Sylvari Chronomancer only.

The whole thing reeks of extremely schizophrenic design decisions. GW2 was meant to be inclusive and cooperative, and we’re fast swinging in the other direction of exclusive and competitive. As Bhagpuss likes to say, swerving headlong into WoW, while WoW seems to be doing its best to rip off (*ahem* copy and polish till it glitters) GW2’s cooperative aspects.

If you’re going to implement enrage timers, then you’re going to end up with players calling for ways they can analyze DPS.

And the only thing many players know are DPS meters.

With which some (or many) people are against being used as bludgeons to make other players feel bad, except that can already happen in other ways, proponents say, so give us our ways to objectively measure the criteria you’re punishing us for not reaching.

Except that many of the original design decisions of GW2 was to make those bludgeons unavailable so that it’s less easy for players to attack others as a matter of course.

Hell, I’d personally like a way to just copy the combat log and run it through a parser.

But if you can count it, people will start asking their raids to make public their “personal” DPS measured, I’m sure. But why shouldn’t they? There’s an enrage timer, so of course you need to have an idea that the overall raid has what it takes to succeed.


And just generally lacking useful tools for people who might actually -want- to raid seriously.

LFG tool is a mess. Reddit bitches about it every so often.

I’d mention build saving and swapping, since roles are now important in raids, but that’s like kicking a dead horse. So I won’t.

So beyond the glass half-full perspective that introducing raids successfully encourage more players to learn and improve and up their level of play (though you’d think a learning -curve- might be more approachable than a learning -cliff- then), what has raids in GW2 successfully achieved?

If somewhere, someone, perhaps in management, put their foot down and said, “We want to increase our Twitch viewership” or folks watching GW2 videos on Youtube or something along those lines, then yeah, creating something that few people can do would encourage them to watch other people play.

If they wanted to give small groups of people (ie. ten, no more, nor less, it is the new number of counting) a reason to meet up, socialize and bond through adversity, maybe for social stickiness purposes so that more people stay hooked to the game, then… yeah, I’ll say that raids may help.

(Though schizophrenically again, guild hall upgrades assume much more than ten people in your guild; bugged guild missions that still haven’t been fixed end up excluding people to the tune of 15; PvP teams means dividing by 5 and compete among yourselves or stagger yourselves out; the only thing that feels inclusive and lets a guild play together as a community is WvW guild missions. Lord help you if you are a megaserver guild, I guess.)

Oh, and the gold to gem exchange has taken quite a bit of a dip.

It’s been hovering fairly constant at 80 gold => 400 gems for a while, beyond a short spike during anniversary sales and Halloween, but I raised my eyebrows a little today when I saw it has now dropped to 72 gold => 400 gems.

Between nipping gold sources (*cough dungeons cough*) in the bud, raising Ascended crafting costs and then creating social pressure to be in Ascended gear for raids, it seems like ArenaNet might be raking in a whole lot of moola from the someones willing to pay to have it now.

It’s a bit of a concern, if only because you’d expect a company to listen more to its paying customers, so we might end up heading in the WoWward direction after all.

Anyhow, I think it boils down to me just working towards finding a sustainable way to play and enjoy all the game activities as an “everything” generalist that likes an inclusive cooperative in-game community.

Should that fail to be possible in the next year or so, for whatever reasons, that may or may not be in my control, well, that might confirm my four-year MMO burnout cycle theory, and there’s always the Steam backlog as a backup plan.