Whirlwind Tour Weekend

This Saturday, I played more games in one day than any other day this year… for very much less time.

Yep, there’s that unavoidable tradeoff.

Path of Exile essentially launched Bestiary League on the very same day A Tale in the Desert began Tale 8. Naturally, I had to make a character in both and check the launches out.

At the same time, my inferiority complex was still smarting from a notoriously poor showing of my Scourge’s dps (rock bottom, getting only about two-thirds the dps of the other three player’s Scourges) during regular Friday raids in GW2. If I didn’t make some attempt at diagnosing and fixing the problem by next week’s raids, my hope of getting to do dps on Dhuum CM (and thus avoid the excessive mental drain and stress of doing green circles) was going to die stillborn.

Furthermore, I’d been wanting to check out Trove again, revisit Warframe and there were still projects to tinker away on in Minecraft: Forever Stranded.

Frankly, I didn’t know where to start.

But my subconscious did.

I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, knowing that Path of Exile had just launched Bestiary league at 4am my time. My mouse cursor found the icon and clicked it, setting up the download.

While waiting, I found myself hitting the icon for ATITD to set up -that- download, and then opening the browser to download Discord, register an account and figure out how to join the relevant ATITD Discord server.

Turns out Discord has the nearest thing to the persistent chat channels that I’ve found so unique and helpful to social community building that I’ve only ever seen in ATITD and no other MMO. I spent a while scrolling back and lurking, reading stuff to get a feel of the lay of the land: the two big takeaways were that there were now ‘factions’ in Tale 8 – the choice of which I’d have to think on before proceeding – and that the new Tale hadn’t quite launched yet.

Oh good. So I jumped straight into Path of Exile to recapitulate my SRS build from the old league, with a minor little cosmetic change. Instead of fiery skulls, I did a skill gem cosmetic swap to ravens.

I have my eye on the Harpy Alpha Supporter Pack at some point in the future. So my fashion theme this league is the Morrigan, all dark, ravens, witchcraft and bringer of death.

Imagine my surprise to find a new support gem, Summon Phantasm on Kill – supported skills or minions summon a Phantasm minion on landing a killing blow. The Phantasm does ranged projectile damage.

Are you kidding me? A mini-spectre type of mob that might support my leveling? Since I will be building for minion damage anyway for my raging spirits…¬†ūüėć

The bonus is that they look like dark ghostly shapes shooting shadowy bolts, so I have the perfect themed entourage for my witch-necromancer right now. We’ll see how it goes when I get further up in levels.

As for the Bestiary itself, I find it interesting. As you catch beasts, you unlock crafting recipes that can produce more selectively tuned rares (like rares with fire damage, or rares with no physical mods or rares with critical chance and so on), except you have to defeat all the mobs involved in the recipes in a closed cage fight in an arena. For an SSF character, I suspect this is going to be a good source of decent leveling items.

It’s been having some teething troubles and negative reception on Reddit – powerful builds were apparently kinda deleting mobs before net throwing and capturing can take effect.

Since I’m a slower SSF player, that hasn’t quite been a personal issue just yet until Sunday night – I just made one raging spirit or leave one phantasm up to tickle a particularly squishy beast down to the level of low health a net needs. (For a few of the tougher mobs, it was all I could do to output enough damage to scratch it down.) It was also possible to throw the net first and then just spam spirits to knock it down to the low health required.

I did run into the apparently unintended glitch of the net lasting a split second (rather than a few seconds) and then the mob enraging for five seconds and not being able to be captured. At the point, I just assumed I’d failed and waited for the time required before netting again. I guess I’ve been too well trained by shitty catch chances in Pokemon Go.

The fixes are coming fast and furious though, I hear. The nets should last three seconds now, if thrown first, which is plenty of time for strong builds to delete the entire screen of mobs. And there’s talk of a backup necromantic net which can capture corpses, in the probable future event of fast builds going so fast that they don’t even see what they destroyed until it’s too late.

That should arrive at a perfect timing for my pace. I hit level 30 something this Sunday and started to realize my raging spirits were getting wimpy as all get out. So I bit the bullet and stopped to adjust my build – got a four link, though I don’t have the currency yet for a +1 or +2 level to minion or fire gems (*sad face*), respeced a few points to push to minion damage nodes sooner, picked up the Hatred aura, and struggled through an on-level level 33 Labyrinth, where I Ascended and went straight for the new Puppet Master passive skill.

The minion army is now at a point that can indeed be said to be effectively deleting mobs at my level range. Level 38 and showing no signs of stopping yet. All’s well until the next slowdown point.

In between PoE breaks, I turned my attention to A Tale in the Desert.

Apparently my Welcome Island lament got a couple of eyes – s’ not hard to rise in SEO when covering a niche game – and along with other new player feedback, a couple of tweaks have been implemented to the new player experience.

That’s one bonus of a niche game with active fanatical players – things turn and change at a much faster rate than say… trying to turn MMO oil tankers like *cough* Guild Wars 2 *cough*.

Welcome Island, I’m happy to report, is much more welcoming than before.

new-wi

The messaging at the top of the screen has improved, providing more guidance. The signs on the island say pretty much the same thing, in the event that a newbie might skip past all the text and still need to refer to something.

Things like camera and setting up UI options are covered very early on, to help with the initial disorientation of any player more used to modern day games.

There’s a big fat road to follow – that leads to the tar pit – and a bit of a new, improved mini-map which is still working out a few kinks (but hey, there’s a zoom in and zoom out function, mind blown.)

There’s even a decorative pier that kinda indicates approximately where one should set up their ferry when leaving for Egypt proper.

Anyway, with the help of prior recent experience and pulling up the old guide, I got to the mainland in under two hours or so.

Here’s the odd thing, I didn’t feel frustrated, but I didn’t feel in any particular hurry to settle down or start factory grinding either. I think, in the back of my mind, I kinda know that I don’t have the time investment available to play hardcore powergamer with macros and alts right now. Maybe this will change in a few months, maybe not.

It’s also a been there, done that kinda thing. I know reaching really high levels and achieving in Tests is beyond my willingness to dedicate time and effort and interest to grind (sorta like reaching level 100 in Path of Exile, for that matter.) I reached level 30 something and got to see nearly all the tech and systems somehow and that was enough, I don’t have extreme Achiever dreams as a motivating factor.

So what are my other options? If I was a strong Socializer, ATITD is a dream come true, a tiny sandbox where you can get to know a community, have plenty of people to chat with and contribute in some small part to. There’s politics and drama and this Tale is looking like it’s going to be very rife with high drama and conflict-oriented sociological situations with another new and active developer at its helm – especially one that just introduced factions to see if that changes the dynamics of the ATITD community any.

But I’m not. I’m pretty introverted, and work lately has involved a LOT of interacting with people, so really, the last thing I want to do when I go home to play a game is be pushed into interacting with more people. I consider typing a word or a sentence into a chat channel, be it in-game or in Discord, and stop before I even hit a key. That would invite a response, and I don’t actually want a friendly response because that would lead to a conversation and that’s -tiring- to an introvert in desperate need of solo recharge time.

I suppose I don’t mind becoming a small cog in a big guild and helping out here and there, except I have timezone issues and just general free time issues right now, so any of my contributions would be a drop in a puddle, if not a lake.

Then too, I have to admit that the actual activity involved in producing such a contribution is not exactly triggering a ‘fun’ button for me right now.

Nothing to do with ATITD specifically, mostly to do with the place my brain is in right now – the same lack of ‘fun’ button is being triggered when doing grindy resource accumulation activities in GW2 (I stopped, mostly), and when I popped into Trove in between various gaming sessions and realized that I didn’t feel like learning how to play my Tomb Raiser again or visiting various mini-dungeons to kill the mini-bosses to get loot… for now.

I was getting the visceral adrenaline hit in PoE, and to a lesser extent, Warframe of all places, which I popped into after Trove to clear a single survival mission for 20 minutes (I was going for the survive 10 minutes to unlock Jupiter Junction, and wound up staying for twice as long because shooting endless hordes of Grineer in the face felt ‘fun’).

I also managed to unlock the Jupiter Junction, which was a face off against the most ridiculous spectre encountered so far, Valkyr. I was nearly at my wit’s end in an utter deadlocked stalemate where I was popping Rhino’s iron skin every time it wore off but couldn’t figure out how to deal enough damage… right up to the point where I thought my way through the problem while dodging behind pillars and running in circles, and realized my energy was constantly recharging… and thus could produce nigh unlimited Rhino stomps with maybe fifteen seconds of wait time in between casts. It became a patient game of stunlocking her every time she didn’t have her invulnerability up and then just showering her with pretty ineffectual bullets until the next time. I nearly ran out of ammo for the poor Soma Prime, but killed her with 8 bullets left. Phew.

Obviously, I still need to work out and work on modding for more effectiveness at some point, but… just not today. Or tomorrow. Some day. When I’m not so busy.

But I found it a valuable lesson to realize that my subconscious was kinda enjoying the gameplay of Warframe more than nearly any other game on my huge laundry list of games I was visiting that day – I had to feel it contrasted right there and then, kinda like wine or chocolate or coffee-tasting, in order to sense the subtle differences I might not have picked out if just trying one product on its own.

Still I found myself logging in and out of A Tale in the Desert. I’d log in for 30 minutes, attempt to do a teeny step on a mini-goal or project, scroll and read all the chat text in-game and Discord, and then log out because I’d rather wait offline than online. Couple hours later, I’d pop in for ten minutes and pop back off again.

I think, subconsciously, I kind of want to spectate, rather than be a participant at this point in time. The whole idea of factions makes me subtly uneasy; an active roleplaying developer doing stuff is almost… threatening, in a sense. Resource loss, resource waste (including wasted time) feels like it could very well happen this Tale. Which is all very well if you’re in the Tale to be entertained by the participation in such stories and the social community… but which personally strikes me more like Eve Online – great to hear about from a distance, but not really something I want to invest time playing in.

Maybe, between reading all the system chats and Discord chats and the odd in-game chat, that’s all the entertainment that I really need from ATITD right now.

After all, I already have one other game that I’m in an odd work/play relationship with… I’ve been on an ambivalent break from GW2. The Amazon servers are still shit if I’m not using a gaming proxy, which is subtly frustrating. I gave up doing dailies and found that I haven’t missed them. I log in twice weekly to raid and that provides sufficient influx of gold to keep me going when I don’t do anything else in game, thus requiring nothing of the game. Raiding on my condi warrior is comfortable. I like comfortable. Most of the raids go more or less smoothly, and then I’m gone till the next time.

The slight discomfort is the Dhuum CM attempts which are a challenging stretch. Challenging stretches require learning, which I’m okay with, except that it takes time. And is not comfortable, and often perplexing and frustrating. Part of the frustration is the lack of a good source for learning / the perfect coach to accurately diagnose issues and offer usable advice.

Youtube videos move fast and often don’t explicitly state things that actually need to be said to a new learner. Friends or raid members may be well-meaning but equally clueless or offer tips that are completely off the mark. (I asked myself, if someone in my team or indeed, anywhere, asked me to coach or offer them tips on how to play the class I play most… would I be able to do so effectively? Answer: No. Not at all. I wouldn’t have the faintest clue where to even start.) Practising blindly runs the risk of locking in bad habits. But ultimately, self-coaching and trying to figure out your own sources of information and improvement is where most players who aren’t esports athletes end up.

I made myself log in and hit the combat golem a couple times. Mostly meh, still rough around the edges, still mostly perplexed. I do suspect the main bulk of my loss of damage is missing epidemics, which can only be practiced in a more real world setting with another necromancer.

I had the bright idea on Sunday to take the scourge out for a spin in the open world, and remembered bounty trains as a source of high hitpoint bosses in a low stress group setting. This gave me more real world practice with skill priorities (complete with jumbled up rotations when panicking and moving and dodging) and I even felt a bit of muscle memory locking in. The bounty train and learning of ‘how to scourge’ almost felt… fun… right up to the point where I started lagging at 800-1000ms ping because I wasn’t using the gaming proxy.

Scenario A: I log out, start the gaming proxy, restart Guild Wars 2, log back in, rejoin the squad and continue.

Scenario B: I log out. Period.

I went for option B and did something else instead.

Like build a jetpack in Forever Stranded and extend my cobblestone bridge highway a little further.

Like borrow some digital library books and start to skim read them.

Like watch a Netflix movie or two.

But mostly to play juuuust a little more Path of Exile.

So I guess the whirlwind tour was somewhat useful after all; I touched all the bases I was intending to touch, and more or less figured out viscerally where my focus wanted to be.

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

I thought I was getting better.

Two days ago, I took this screenshot feeling relatively good about everything in general, wanting to share a burgeoning optimism that maybe quarterly class balance updates would be decent for overall game functioning.

newdervish

After all, I had around three months to giggle about getting into Viper’s gear before the crowd demand sent Black Diamond prices soaring sky-high, and then play a Burnzerker – a build that I would probably not have ever gotten around to on my own, but really tickled the pyromaniac-loving part of me that loves any class that throws around fire, fire and MORE FIRE.

The Burnzerker nerf was expected, and I was pleasantly mollified to see that it wasn’t knee-jerk cut down into absolute uselessness, but more or less on par with most other normal condition classes/builds. (Minus the present bug where two burnzerker fields are ineffective, thus don’t bring more than one, until it gets fixed, eventually.)

Of course, we still have two annoying player subsets to contend with – those who won’t accept anything but the current most OP builds – that crown has gone to a certain specific necromancer/reaper build using minions and epidemic apparently (not sure, I haven’t looked into it yet); and those who are blatantly ignorant and jump to conclusions based on hearsay without any actual attempts at measurement or objectivity.

The latter are a pet peeve, as arguing with an idiot tends to wind up with descending to their level and them beating you with experience at being a stubborn ignoramus.

So I usually don’t try, beyond a calm factual statement or two, and then let the facts speak for themselves. (Brought a burnzerker to VG, red either still died before blue and green, or exactly on time – so either blue/green group is incompetent and/or the condi output is acceptable. Not OP anymore, but acceptable.)

Another funny side story about those who think they know everything: I was on my way to my last Lunar New Year firecracker for the daily.

As my charr bullrushed past one or two people standing around, random bystander guy spoke up and said, “You have to glide to this firecracker. FYI.”

I have no idea if he was addressing me (since I did bump the pillar/pedestal on my way to said firecracker) or if he was talking to the other player standing nearby, but eh, what if that player didn’t own Heart of Thorns? Was he SOL?

Without missing a beat (since I was really truly on my usual route to the firecracker anyway), I ran right past, jumped up the side of the glass dome, ran along the roof and then promptly fell down through a gap in the roof onto the pedestal where the firecracker was.

Sans glider.

Random bystander quickly shut up and decided that now would be a good time to walk/run away.

I might be revealing my deeply flawed human nature here, but I couldn’t stop chortling to myself for some time after that.

But I digress.

The screenshot above is my new *cough*dervish*cough*

Okay, it’s really just the thief Elite spec Daredevil with a staff skin.

But it captures the scythe wielding part of the GW1 dervish decently well, even if the avatar changing utility skills have more or less wound up with the revenant.

Again, without the meta in dramatic upheaval every three months, I find that it would be quite unlikely that I would have gotten around to this build.

Mostly, I was looking for a secondary replacement class for the burnzerker, so that if a particular raid already had way too many might stacking PS warriors or revenants, I could at least offer a¬†current ‘common knowledge’ ‘OP’ class/build. (When in Rome and all that, you know, why fight it?)

It also took out what was probably a month’s worth of materials hoarding and savings by the time I finished decking him out with the appropriate runes/sigils, Ascended weapons, trinkets, and about three pieces of Ascended armor.

As personally painful as it was to dip into the treasure hoard, I have to admit that a certain amount of forced spending and need for materials is good for stimulating the economy. Also, it acts like another kind of hardcore tax beyond expensive food/wrench consumables.

I was excited enough by the feel of playing and learning a new build/playstyle to go out and kill a bunch of core Tyria stuff, adding up toward core Tyria mastery, as well as start formulating specific HoT plans for improvement/progress.

One goal was the Ascended Bo, which I found cheapest to just go ahead with the collection. That made me partake in one round of Auric Basin and one round of Dragon Stand in order to get the last bits of stuff I needed.

I idly also laid in plans to score some HoT mastery points, since way too many repeated raid failures had already capped me in xp for the HoT mastery tracks. I just need about 12 more mastery points I haven’t gotten around to earning.

Unfortunately, the last two days have put me into a bit of a foul mood yet again.

I idly made a reply comment in a Reddit thread rant that described how many problems the player was facing while trying to enjoy/play through a HoT meta event.

At the time, it was just a bit of a speculative thought I had, an idle remark on the many levels of abstraction that the guy’s story had become about, that his narrative had become more “struggling with the game, as game” rather than an immersed¬†narrative about the world as obstacle.

I was sort of thinking of the same issue that Warhammer had, with their all encompassing Tome of Knowledge, and PvE leveling that wound up staring at the quest UI going “OK, I need X more organs from Y mobs” and mostly out-of-world game-meta related thinking that made the obvious focus manipulating game mechanics and rules, rather than actually enjoying the world as presented.

It blew up on me rather surprisingly, garnering some 200+ upvotes.

It made me think about how many people are out there, feeling a bit like me, feeling a bit like some of the old guard like that_shaman and other familiar Reddit names expressing a certain malaise or discontent.

And then I read new guard comments in the GW2 reddit, who LOVE raids and think they’re awesome, except that they’re also constantly whining that dungeons have been gutted, fractals have devolved into Swamp of the Mists (apparently, I haven’t bothered to set foot in there for some time) and that they’ve already cleared the raid wing on reset day and have nothing else to do and are now bored and going off to play another game, while waiting for more stuff to do.

And here I am, -struggling- to find enough groups every goddamn week to even get a guaranteed vale guardian kill, having to push aside my dinner time so that I might even get into a raid group that might or might not kill VG…

… and I just get angry. And bitter.

(To add salt to the wound, apparently TTS training raids are now off the calendar, diminishing yet another avenue for raid groups, and it’s back to waiting for an invite into the next experiment, a specific TTS¬†raid guild, to see if that works any better. Strung along, yet again.)

And then I read a post like Azuriel’s, wherein he Gets/Doesn’t Get GW2.

All I want to do is bang my forehead against a flat surface really really hard.

No offense taken from Azuriel’s honest reactions, by the way, I think he’s a great representative of the subset who give GW2 a shot, just can’t find any impetus to level up further and then start posting on Reddit asking, “is that all there is? how do I level fast? map completion is boring, how do I like this game? unosweiter.”

But I can’t help but scream, in a rather enraged fashion, that Heart of Thorns threw in all the fucking endgame for people like this – who need a reason to keep leveling (masteries), who want a PvE endgame to look forward to (raids / collection grind)…

… and apparently they’re not even making it to level 80!

They can’t get past the open exploration aspect of leveling, so they quit before hitting 80.

Meanwhile, those that liked the open exploration aspect, now face the bait-and-switch achievement endgame, just like -every other fucking MMO- out there.

WHO THE FUCK IS ANET CATERING TO ANY MORE?

They try to reach the hardcore raiders, and the hardcore raiders are throwing it back in their faces by locusting the content and diminishing it to triviality.

In the process, they’re infuriating the casuals and those in the middle.

The PvPers are twitching ever since the PvP league ended and they’re forced to mix with the hoi polloi in unranked.

Meanwhile, they’re scrambling to apply CPR to the most neglected portion, WvW, because that’s a post-expansion priority now.

Everyone else is just going to have to wait their turn.

#grumpy

Furthermore, I hear news from Trion’s end that they’re revamping payment models and my second-favorite “MMO-like” Trove is going to start charging real money for classes, no two ways around this.

This makes me grumpier.

Mind you, since I started early, I’ve already reaped most of the benefits and unlocked every class but the Gunslinger (which still reputedly needs help to be brought back up to par) so it’s not exactly going to impact me considerably except moving forward, if I ever desire a new class introduced.

But I just don’t know if I can bring myself to play games that don’t feel fair, payment model or level playing field-wise.

So Trove may be a write off too.

Maybe it’s time to relook at Path of Exile or Minecraft again…

A Trio of Updates – GW2 Fractals, Trove, Minecraft: Regrowth

I have no idea how I’m managing, but I’ve started juggling three games in one night.

What’s losing out is the blog. Again.

Guild Wars 2

The new pre-expansion stretch goal is to get to Fractals level 50, before October 23.

Preferably by the end of September or thereabouts to give myself more of a comfortable head start.

I guess I’m like the crazy inverse of that Reddit thread that asks how many players are looking forward to¬†raids, but can’t/won’t do a Fractals 50.

I’m -not- at all looking forward to raids (just sort of grimly and begrudgingly looking at it as a mountain I’m going to have to climb because it’s there – and I’ll probably enjoy myself somewhat in the process – but not crazily anticipating it by any stretch, no… It’s sort of the same reluctant dread of corporate teambuilding activities… oh no, there’s -people-, they’re gonna make you do stuff you don’t want to do, go places you don’t want to go, but yeah, you’ll probably find -some- enjoyment at certain times/during certain bits, but meh, better if you didn’t -have- to go through it in the first place…)

But you know, I hear there may be a special something for all those who are at Fractal 50 before the expansion and the fractal changes (even if it’s just a shiny ‘been there, done that’ kinda title) and I WANTS IT. *gollum*

It’s also -something- to do, I guess.

Previously, I’ve never bothered going beyond the 20s, because you know me, I’m not a fan of vertical progression. And what is AR, but a special stat made up especially for the -express- purpose of vertical progression?

Whether you fall over and squish into a puddle at random intervals or stay standing and watch others do said “I’m melting!” impersonation bemusedly doesn’t depend at all on player skill, but merely on whether you have little baubles glued onto your armor that increment a number by 5 (or more), that you get by either doing the same activity over and over again or paying someone else gold to do it for you.

Meh.

So I “saw all the content” by mostly repeating the lower range of fractals over and over again (I wanted to type “an easier difficulty range” but as I’ll explain later, that’s not strictly true), and just meandering by chance to fractal level 25 or so, whenever someone happened to open a fractal level higher than my current one to pull it up by one.

But mostly I just played fractals 10 and 20 when I wanted, and I stayed at 26 AR, which could be all piled onto the Ascended trinkets, and kept my perfectly functional exotic armor and weapons.

After Blaugust though, a couple of things became apparent. I knew I wanted to stick with GW2 for the moment. I needed some kind of medium term goal to hold my interest in GW2 pre-expansion and play it a little more than I’d been doing in August… get back into the swing of GW2 things, as it were. I kinda had to “face my fears” socializing and grouping-wise if I even want to consider a 10-man raid. Fractals 50 is also pretty much the last unexplored frontier for me (not counting¬†even more esoteric things like Dragon PvP rank or leaderboards, WvW god-knows-what rank or stuff like that.)

And there’s that shiny title thingy or whatever as motivation.

Ah, why not.

I’d been picking up the odd Ascended chest here and there from various places like Triple Trouble Wurm or Living Story and mostly sitting on them in the bank, while trying to decide what I wanted to do with them anyway.

The Wurm warrior was wearing Zojja’s chest and leggings, from two previous drops – one Zojja’s, one Raider’s – but I’d been reluctant to make the rest Ascended because the stat jump on things like shoulders and so on is… miserable, to say the least. (Intentionally so, of course, which I agree with.)

Well, since I now needed to hit 70 AR eventually, this was “go time” to clear out some pink clogging my bank.

There were two essentially free pieces – “Ascended Chest” variants – so I just picked¬†Zojja’s and were done with them.

I idly eyed the other weirdly named Ascended stats like Apothecaries, Chorbens, etc. since now you can convert them to Zojja’s, then realized I had a spare Vision Crystal sitting in the bank, and a Zojja’s insignia that had been also sitting there because I made one accidentally when I just needed an exotic insignia some time ago.

So I said, ah, what the heck, I’ll craft a piece. The non-chest non-legging stuff is probably cheaper to craft anyway.

Unfortunately, I was silly enough to make a glove component before I thought to check the warrior I would be replacing his exotic armor with. The idea being that I want to just Black Lion Salvage Kit his exotic armor and pull out the rune for reuse in the Ascended armor piece, saving me loads of $$$ in the process.

Most of the warrior alt was decked out in CoF dungeon¬†armor, because I was on a CoF kick then and hey, tokens for free zerker armor, why not? EXCEPT the hand location, which turned out to be WvW badge armor. Goddamn it. And they’re going to let us salvage that eventually…

Long story short, after a bunch of quick calculations on the AR I could potentially hit using other wear locations, the glove piece made out of what, a bolt or three of damask, went back into the bank to await the time WvW armor can be salvaged and I made boots instead.

I also converted one weapon and crafted a second to Ascended, because what the heck, that has better stat gains than armor, and I was bank cleaning some of this stuff anyway. (Hurrah for idly converting time-limited materials over a month or two, just to stock up for times like this.)

So now the warrior is pretty much all Ascended, save for one offhand weapon and one hand location (and underwater stuff.)

He jumped from 26 AR to 41 AR, the limit of which was the number of fractal relics I had at the time, and after a couple fractal runs, up to 61 AR.

I infused a ring, and now the last slot is just sitting there awaiting the +9 infusion that I calculate should be craftable soon, once my stock of 222 +1 infusions goes to 256 or thereabouts.

With that, he should be able to hit 70 AR for fractal 50, and have two more potential slots to go up to an easy 80 if future fractals require ever more increasingly insane amounts of this otherwise worthless stat.

In the meantime, I started running fractals 30, and later fractals 40 (after hitting 61 AR), plus the odd variant of other-numbered fractals higher than my present fractal level.

The goal, basically, was pure and simple prioritization of a) Can this raise my fractal level? If yes, join, and b) Does this qualify for a fractal daily? If yes, join.

(Can I run it without melting, goes without saying, of course. Basically anything on the 1% health loss chart is perfectly safe, and anything else means one is playing with fire, especially in a PUG.)

A lot of higher level folks will tell would-be beginners than the higher level fractals tend to be a lot -easier- than lower level fractals because of the selection pressure factor. Most of the folks at a higher level range should theoretically know what they are doing, since they had to get through quite a number of fractals before getting there. Most of the folks that -bother- getting higher AR to run said high level fractals have an obvious interest in the activity.

Repetition. Liking, Familiarity. All this adds up to something that ought to go a lot more smoothly than a lower level run where nearly everyone ends up running around like lost headless chickens.

I suppose, for the most part, this is sort of kind of true.

I’ve had some really smooth and amazing runs – especially nice if it’s a guild of three or four and just looking for one more PUG to fill the ranks, they’re usually a well coordinated team.

I had one level 40 run where I was absolutely stumped and trying to guess whatever the hell the others were wearing / whatever their build was because their hp barely budged – and my zerker warrior was the one catching the lion’s share of the aggro and having to back away now and then to heal up, fortunately only went down 2 or 3 times throughout the whole series, so it wasn’t too horrible – the other builds were ridiculously support-y, I suspect, but it was fantastically smooth and the combined team damage wasn’t horrible either (as timed by whether Molten Berzerker can get killed in a melee bumrush before people start wiping.)

I had one run which had an ele and a necro in the same guild and boy, did things MELT. I personally don’t subscribe to the common PUG theory all necros suck ass in groups, and I think this was a case of both insane might stacking (as helped along by moi, of the no-skill-required PS/EA banner warrior variety) and fantastic vulnerability stacking. My hundred blades were hitting some of the highest numbers I’ve seen, across various PUG fractals.

However, I’ve also had fractals run… with a necro… (and other classes, of course) of the *ahem* not so good variety.

Of the kind where everyone appears to be a squishy fail zerker and falls down multiple times, where the party keeps wiping until pieces of armor have fallen off and broken and one has to retreat out for repairs…

(I learned for the first time in one of those groups that one was actually supposed to log out and log back in to repair. I actually hit the little icon on the right, thinking that the rest could refuse and I’d accept and be beamed out, Scotty or something. Not as intuitive as that, I’m afraid.

Some guy in the party was like “lol, don’t do that, it’ll reset, just log out and log back in.” I was wondering if the guy was laughing at me for being a clueless noob… then I realized that actually not knowing how to repair mid-fractal till now could probably be seen as a -good- thing… )

One of the things I have kinda realized is that I’m not really that sensitive anymore about how others might potentially view my performance.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? They kick me. I don’t ever have to party with them anymore. There’s a dozen LFGs all looking for extra hands.

Granted, I have a bit of a ‘mask’ advantage in that I have over 22k AP (despite every exhortation that high AP != high skill, there still seems to be this undercurrent of belief or intimidation regarding it), and am intentionally playing a¬†fairly foolproof PS/EA banner warrior where everyone is quite content if they have the three buffs on their bar and I swing a greatsword every now and then. (Though really, if the PUG leaves one of my banners behind – aka 99% of them – they have no more right to complain about anything.)

Generally though, I find that even the worse PUGs will still struggle through and finish the fractal in an hour, or hour and a half, even if we had to resort to essentially wipe-rezzing to get through certain spots.

(I keep thinking that all Anet needs to do is disallow wipe-rezzing in raids, and require certain encounters done ‘properly’ and even some of the vaunted high-level fractal PUG players are going to have a serious challenge.

Take for instance Snowblind and the elemental source/ice elemental encounter. The number of PUGs that can do that ‘properly’ without wiping is slim to none. I keep thinking that this would be perfect for coordinated stabilities, or coordinated reflection, while someone picks up the torch and maintains the fire or whatever, and well, it usually doesn’t happen. Add on a high likelihood of someone getting caught out by a one-shot ice elemental spike, others struggling to revive them and/or light the fire while under fire from more elementals…well, it’s ugly.)

The other thing that makes high level fractals “smoother” in general is the number of somewhat oddball exploitative strategies used to make certain encounters easier. Certain places to pull, certain places to stand, some of it perfectly legal LOS around corners, some of it slightly more questionable playing around with the Z axis and so on.

All this is stuff ¬†you won’t expect a low level fractal to know or use, and generally, the number scaling on the mobs is such that a team probably doesn’t even need to bother with them and can just charge in and straight up kill things.

Anyhow, it’s all pretty good practice and warmup prep for Heart of Thorns, I guess.

Trove

Not much to say Trove-wise.

I sneak in a daily every night, working on the consecutive log-ins badge (which I hear is going to be reduced in today’s patch, hurrah.)

I’m not sure how much use I have for Shadow Towers. I just can’t be arsed with spamming the equivalent of LFG for Shadow Arenas, and I doubt I am inclined to do the same for Shadow Towers.

If I can’t solo parts of it, then I guess I’m essentially done, beyond seeing if I can collect a dragon via very simple daily play for an hour or so.

Playing all super-casual in pixel land, because a) there’s only so many games and time one can afford to be hardcore in, and b) their servers really suck. Ping is still 300-500ms and while it’s playable, it’s not awesome fantastic A-OK either. It’s just.. ok. Since I’m playing for free anyway.

Minecraft: Regrowth

Remember my spate of sudden internet disconnections that made me rage while attempting to play online games?

I took to playing singleplayer modded Minecraft in the meantime and boy, was it a mistake… in the sense that I am now hooked onto a new mod.

I get back home every night and I just want to get back to my little blocky world instead of any of the two games above.

I’m running out of space, so I shall save the loving lavish writeup for another time.