GW2: The Nerfs Will Continue Until Morale Improves

The watchword of the day is annoyance.

I suppose this is a change from the past month, where the operating phrase was “cruise control.”

However, I am not sure this is a terribly positive change.

The silver lining, of course, is that I finally got frustrated enough to break through into coherence on this blog again.

Most of last month was me questioning myself, “What are you feeling when you play the games you’re playing? Do you have anything to write or blog about?”

And the reply, as always, was “ehh… nothing very much. I’m not sure I’m feeling anything. Kinda numb. Empty. Just cruising. Kinda contented, I guess. Not happy happy. But not depressed or sad either. I’m just doing what needs to be done.

“A chore is a chore is a chore. It’s not super-tedious, but it’s nothing to get excited over either. You do it, mark it off the to-do list for the day or week, and proceed not to think about it any longer. You certainly don’t find a dire need to wax eloquently on a blog about brushing your teeth, bathing, cleaning the house, picking up groceries, paying the bills, doing GW2 dailies, doing PoE dailies, -every- day and -every- post.

“You know what? This is too much thinking about trying to write about nothing. Let’s go play Path of Exile. Your next build is waiting to be leveled or improved incrementally.”

The result: zero blog posts.

Until now. Where ArenaNet’s somewhat overzealous nerf of the standard chronomancer and necromancer raid meta builds promises ripple effects that will shake up the meta, in as yet unknown ways.

Doom and gloom has a way of spreading across Reddit and the forums though, and the knee-jerk reactions of others are not doing wonders for -my- mood either.

The reason why I’m blogging about it though is mostly a need to work out a bunch of conflicting emotions, and having no other outlet but to lay it all out here.

I have an underlying foundation of stability throughout whatever the hell excuse for “balance” occurs in GW2. The fact is that it is possible to own one of every class, if not more. I am also quite confident in being able to equip each class with whatever the hell is defined as “good” in the next meta, even if it will cost time and money to do so.

So even as one class gets hit with the nerf bat, another class will naturally be in ascendance, and if I have to equip and change to that class, SO BE IT. It is doable.

I know that I can -eventually- adapt to whatever’s needed. My raid group is full of people who can multiclass, so chances are fairly good that eventually the team will sort itself out into a new configuration that can cope – even if we might have to wait for the new strategies to be developed and then faithfully ape in cookie-cutter fashion.

Of course, doable does not mean easy, cheap or enjoyable.

Some classes aesthetically appeal to different personalities more. Some classes are easier to play without having to manage a concerto on the keyboard. Some classes have cheaper builds or less specific role responsibility to tax one’s concentration and reflexes.

I’d previously found a very happy place in raids as a condi PS berzerker-warrior.

I fulfill a support role by buffing might and providing banners. It even gives fury and added condition damage. Adding on burns on a boss ups the dps of the necromancer-reapers, who get a serious amount of burns to epidemic bounce.

I enjoy condition damage, it’s strategically different from straight up direct damage, there’s having to pay attention to layering on stacks and yet being able to pause and dodge and deal with other mechanics for a breath while still pulsing damage.

Also it is FIRE. My readers should know my pyromaniac obsession by now. I have the most luck sticking to classes and builds that let me play with fire, be it City of Heroes, Path of Exile or GW2. Fire particle effects just make me happy.



Not terribly original, perhaps, being a darkity dark lord with shoulder spikes and on fire, but who freaking cares when you can watch the world burn?


Warriors are straightforward. They hit things with their head. A perfect match personality-wise. They’re fairly survivable and sturdy – which is good because I tend to be clumsy and insta-die on squishier classes.

They contribute a decent amount of control. Condi PS especially excels with immobilizes, and I have felt successful in my niche but not terribly demanding role holding Gorseval spirits and escort wargs.

And I am now sulking and in a spot of mourning because it looks like the ripple effect is going to catch condi PS warriors in its wake.

The “common knowledge” being bandied about is that condi PS can no longer keep up 25 might stacks without a mesmer’s signet of inspiration to help it along.

This is true. If you’re in the standard condi PS build.

I spent a fairly fruitful if moderately frustrated night of testing with the dps golem ways and means to keep up 25 might stacks on a condi PS.

After a bunch of experiments, I determined that it was possible to stretch boon duration in various ways (with the understandable tradeoff of a slight drop in personal dps.)

Instead of rare veggie pizza, for example, one could eat dumplings and gain 20% boon duration at the cost of 20% condition duration. This, of course, is not terribly desirable.

So I invested a bunch of gold, leveled a scribe to 225 (hoorah for hoarding materials), and made a superior sigil of concentration. Dump that on the bow, dump a sigil of battle (cheap option, I was ready to go two sigil of concentrations if needed) on the torch, and voila, extended boon duration and a few more might stacks at the cost of some bleed dps from two sigils of earth.

Actual raid testing proved it was possible to maintain 25 might stacks with blasting might on the bow, For Great Justice and a bunch of extended might duration from sigil of strength crits.

Unfortunately, even as that bit of personal testing proved a success, our raid group was discovering the other ramifications of the nerf.

No one brought a rev, so our break bars – which were previously heavily dependent on rev breaking – ended up getting broken more slowly.

No one brought a necro, except in a few odd tests after repeated failures with a new comp, so the group struggled with mechanics that previously the necros with their many minions were taking care of. So… cage on trio caught a bunch of damage from adds that were previously tied up with minions and downed by epidemic. Conditions were flying left, right and center on Matthias and to a lesser extent, on sloth, without plague signet. Unmanaged adds on Xera were lethal distractions.

Without minions to heal, the druids had less astral force to go into celestial avatar and less healing ability, which was not really able to keep up with a spoiled bunch of clumsy souls used to getting topped off despite mistakes. Said clumsy souls were also mostly adapting to new builds or rotations and distracted, hence the mistakes.

It’s unknown what strategy our raid group is going to settle on. We were previously very necro heavy and banking heavily on conditions and epidemic bounce. I don’t know if the viper horror minion nerf means they are now off the table for good – the only hope for them is if their epidemic bounces are still strong enough to deal sufficient dps – but it’s not looking terribly promising.

This puts my condi PS warrior in a really bad spot as well, despite managing 25 might stacks, because to me, I exist to help boost necromancer epidemics with plenty of burns. The fact that a ranged build is easier to play in a number of these raid encounters was a bonus.

If there are no more necromancers, there is much less reason for me to be playing condi PS in a raid.

I am better off going normal power PS, in melee, where I can pretty much close my eyes and shit out 25 might stacks without working as hard for it.

Bonus, a power PS has more break bar management than condi PS, which would compensate for the loss of a revenant. They support direct power based builds better, because they never have to decide whether to trade off burning arrows for empower allies, and it looks like the new golden children are going to be elementalists (what’s new?), guardians and thieves, all of whom are direct damage builds.



Again, there’s an odd sense of conflict. I -shouldn’t- feel too terribly upset.

I already have a staff elementalist decked out in ascended (which I still barely know how to play, but have managed successful kills in some off-class runs.)

I have a decked out thief, which I’ve taken to Gorseval before, and can play (but somehow don’t terribly enjoy. Either I don’t have a thief mindset, or I can’t gel with how that particular thief character looks.)

I have lived and breathed guardian life for four years. I can play a guardian in my sleep. My main is a guardian, albeit I was waiting for legendary armor before upgrading his still exotic armor. I also have a second guardian alt that I can easily resurrect – especially since I decked out a revenant which never saw much play (thank goodness, I wasn’t terribly comfy with it) – so I can easily just transfer a whole bunch of ascended heavy armor weight stuff over, if need be.

I have an 80 ranger-druid (that I was going to practice on via world completion, eventually) and a boosted 80 mesmer and engineer (that I was eventually going to take beginner steps to learn, so that I can at least appreciate what the other classes bring to the table), and enough leather and magnetite shards and random ascended drops hoarded that it’s not going to be impossible to equip whatever is needful.

A change in the meta is theoretically a good excuse to learn how to play a new build, and be exposed to more variety in gameplay.

So why is it that I just generally feel annoyed? Like something that was tolerable just got even more tedious?

Well, for one thing, changing over builds means I have to look at my completely unmanaged inventories and try to get them in some semblance of order once again. I have to think and make uncomfortable decisions over which currency to use to buy X ascended item, or grapple with crafting and the mystic forge to make said item or switch stats.

For another, the change in meta means that raid team roles are now in flux once more, and my particular raid group hasn’t even settled on a workable raid composition, let alone who will be in which role most of the time. This leads to discomfort, rather than the numbing comfortable familiarity of knowing that such-and-such player will be here and doing this, and that player will be there doing that.

And while discomfort is all very well when you want to incite players to step up to the challenge and adapt, every time I hit a frustration or discomfort or pain point these days, I start asking myself, “it’s been four years, maybe it’s enough, maybe I’m done with discomfort?”

At the level that I’m playing Path of Exile, there is no discomfort whatsoever –


– only a plague of frogs.

(No doubt at the higher levels, there is great unhappiness every time a patch comes and throws something out of whack. But I have to point out that in PoE, there’s usually something else that can be the new OP thing that patch.)

This leads to a path of least resistance where I find myself double-clicking the PoE icon on the desktop a lot more often than the GW2 icon.

I’m not quitting GW2, of course. I think I’m still too attached to it for now, even if the -developers- seem to be checking out more than moi. (Hi, Amazon Game Studios!)

Both me and my raid group are likely to settle for the path of least resistance too, which is to just wait until the theorycrafters with the interest and too much time on their hands publish their “findings” (regardless of how true the facts are objectively, what is copied and repeated becomes history.)

Or it’ll hit a drama patch and break up. (Always have to prep for that possibility as well. Human nature is human nature.)


Even Legendary Armor can’t get me excited these days.

(I will leave it to a new generation to bitch about exclusivity and lack of alternatives. Bitching implies caring or giving a fuck, something I no longer have the energy for.)

Yeah, it looks pretty acceptably great. The heavy version, anyway, which is all I care about. I can only hope that it doesn’t look fugly as sin on a charr or asura, which are the two main body types on my character stable.

The new raid will probably arrive some time in November, after Halloween. Perhaps there will be more collection steps to work on then. With enough patience, I presume my raid group will eventually get there. Or it will be sad pug life like many others already suffering now to steadily unlock the collection. Or if it proves too painful, then the other alternative is giving up. Then I’ll move on, to some other game.

I can neither get excited or feel stressed about it either way. What happens, happens.

All I am, is a little bit sad about my condi PS, and a little bit annoyed that I have to suffer through more ‘work’ and unenjoyable bits, in order to arrive at a self-chosen goal.

(Not complaining, it’s self-inflicted, delayed gratification is a thing… but just…annoyed.)

In the meantime, in order to get over my annoyance and forget everything but the cheerful meditative smoothness of things falling over and dying without a struggle, I’ll be over in Wraecrast, procrastinating on GW2 stuff I probably oughta do but can’t be arsed to yet.


Likely more exciting loot than I’ll ever see in GW2.

All Things Fire

I purposefully skipped doing dailies in GW2 for three days.

Nor did I log in, for that matter.

No dramatic reason. I caught a cold over the weekend, felt sick and tired most of the time, got bored of the same old routine and made a purposeful decision to strike out all the daily chore items on the ol’ checklist and went and did something else.

Like sleep a lot, read, watch Netflix and play Path of Exile.


The latest build-copy experiment is a Firestorm witch elementalist.

I got bored playing Marauders, didn’t feel like a Ranger, and wanted a spellcaster. But since I am partial to all things fire, and have gotten the furthest on fiery Marauder types, I went looking for a build that was based around a fire spell.

PewPewPew’s cheap Firestorm build sounded perfect. (Especially since I play self found.)

So far it’s been working pretty darned well, up until level 69 or so, despite a gaping hole in cold resistance that I was too lazy to shore up (since that would involve pausing and thinking about gear.)

Getting one shot by map bosses that use cold attacks finally slowed my progress to a halt.

I was grumpily thinking that I might have to farm the next couple of days for appropriately acceptable gear, but a random belt dropped tonight with 35% cold resistance and a unique amulet with 30% hp and mana leech. I swapped both in for the hell of it, and it seems to have done the trick for the time being.

Not bad, considering I haven’t taken the time and effort to figure out how to craft / get my hands on ‘proper’ statted rares, nor have I even slotted all the skill gems the build tells me I’m supposed to yet.

The latest essence league has been a pretty big help on the novice but stubbornly selffound player front. Essences provide a way for quick rolling rares with one desirable stat.

Find a good white wand, look for the spell damage % essence, roll it, and if it’s better than what I have, put it on. Done.

Find armor, look for the +life essence, roll up a random rare with added life, hope for some good elemental resistance rolls, and swap it in if it’s better. Done.

A lot more painless than just randomly rolling rares with an alchemy orb or settling badly for a blue magic item.

I’m still really fond of Path of Exile. I play it infrequently and at a fairly casual level, yet it still manages to engage and entertain whenever I get the urge to dip in.

I guess part of why I consciously decided to ignore GW2 dailies is a kind of “See, I’m not addicted” declaration. It’s not an uncontrollable habit, in other words.

Not that I have to prove this to anyone, but now and then, I guess I just like to test it for myself.

People talk a lot about MMO or game “addiction,” and while I don’t deny that it can be a real problem for some people (eg. I know someone in real life right now that has an almost -obsessive- compulsion to play Pokemon Go), I guess I’m just curious why I haven’t felt this way for more than a decade now.

I’ll admit I was unhealthily obsessed with my very first MUD. Even while offline, I would be living, breathing, thinking about the next steps and goals. I probably would not have been able to take a conscious couple of days off then.

Somehow, after burning out from it, nothing has ever taken on that level of seeming importance or urgency since.


Not sure I have a point with this. It’s not like I -want- be addicted. Maybe it’s just that I can’t seem to share the capacity of others to -care- that deeply and I feel oddly different about it

On a lighter note, the fused skins are back temporarily in the Black Lion store, and I broke out 4 tickets that I’ve been hoarding from idly completing the cheaper collections with gold to pick up a Fused Greatsword.


Yep, so ready for Ember Bay and the next Living Story episode: Rising Flames.


Primordius minion camouflage suit activated.

Total War: Warhammer – RIP Hack Legbiter, aka Hack da Cunning

I’m an orcy kinda person. I’ve always liked playing the big hulking muscular brutes / monsters in MMOs, regardless of whether they fulfill the stupid and dumb stereotype or have a set of brains behind the brawn, a la Beast from X-Men or Winston from Overwatch.

I’m a lot more particular about the smaller races.

Sturdy stout ones like dwarves, quick skittering clever things like skinks or skritt, smart arrogant bastards like asura are fine.

Cutesy ones *dead eye stare at gnomes* make me shudder.

Hobbits are completely neutral, caught between soft rounded cutesiness, yet with the weight of Tolkien epicness and the fondness of feasting  and relaxing at all hours of the day on the other side of the scales.

I have never really given GOBLINS any time of day.

Sure, they’re ugly gits, but they’re also scrawny, smarmy, generally unlikeable anklebiters who cower, run away, get et, and try to stab people in the back when they’re not looking.

The only thing going for them is that they come in a huge throng, and that there’s always more gobbos to replace those that get used up and thrown away.

Or so I thought.


I started a second Greenskins campaign, y’see.

This time, Azhag the Slaughterer – a by far cleverer orc than Grimgor Ironhide – went straight south and west for the Top Knotz’ throats, while rounding up and intimidating all the other weaker orc tribes along the way into confederacy with him.

Gotta get your own house in order first, y’know. The rest of the world can come later.

Confederating handed me a second army really early on, which was thankfully supported by the vast Badlands regions I was also swallowing up.

Just one teeny little itty bitty problem. The lord of that second army was a goblin wizard named Hack Legbiter.

Something I would never ever choose if given an alternative, any alternative. Wot do I do with dis? Ain’t an orc. Can’t fight. Just casts spells, assuming the Winds of Magic are favorable and his head doesn’t explode? Can he even be inspiring, given that he’s not going to go charging into battle and go mano o orco with the most powerful infantry/general on the other team?

Oh, whatever. Goblins are throwaway, right? It’s a second army when I wasn’t planning on having one. It can be a whole throwaway army.

So I recruited some 8-9 cheap Sword Ork Boyz to form the infantry core, hired a whole bunch of even cheaper goblin archers, and let Hack take them along with his small retinue (two goblin spearmen and one set of goblin wolfrider cavalry) adventuring.

He did the usual second army things. Sometimes he came up to support Azhag’s stack as reinforcements, sometimes he was delegated off to take out a minor settlement while Azhag and his now Waargh-in-attendance took out the main province capital.

He did his share of leveling up and raiding and sacking/occupying settlements.

Then it came to pass that Azhag was extended deep into Savage Orc territory, aka far southwest into the boondocks of the world, trying to exterminate the Top Knotz and bring the rest of the Savage Orcs under his banner.

Hack had been ordered up west to wrest Gronti Mingol out of Top Knotz hands, and from there on, northeast to Ekrund to cow the Orcs of the Bloody Hand into confederacy.

Then the dwarves began boiling out of the mountains and rolling down the slopes to the original barely defended starting settlements.

Thorgrim Grudgebearer of the Dwarfs smashed into Iron Rock (where the initial Red Fangz rival tribe holes up, often the second settlement taken after Black Crag) and it was lost.

Kazador Dragonslayer of Karak Azul ripped through Karak Eight Peaks and sacked it, cleaning out my coffers of 5418 gold.

I can only imagine the greedy dwarves gave up the thought of occupying that ancient dwarf fortress (cleaning out mountainous piles of orc poo must have been a lot less enticing) in favor of running back home with armfuls of treasure.

Hack was thus a lot -nearer- to respond when Thorgrim Grudgebearer started sniffing around hungrily at Valaya’s Sorrow (the other settlement nearest to the Orc capital of Black Crag.)

Azhag, of course, had turned around immediately once he’d finished with the Top Knotz and was racing northwards through the tunnels with no regard for any possibility of interception whatsoever. “Anyfing what gets in my way is goin’ ta be sorry.”

He was, unfortunately, just too far away.

So was Hack too, for that matter.

Normal marching would not reach either the dwarf army or Valaya’s Sorrow to reinforce it.

Forced marching would extend the reach of the army, but leave them tired out and exhausted and unable to initiate combat. They couldn’t reach Valaya’s Sorrow even with forced marching, but they -could- get in threatening range of the dwarves.

The dwarves took the bait.

They attacked a tired out, worn down force of 17 orc and gobbo units, led by a scrawny goblin, with a full 20-stack of dwarf warriors and quarrellers.


It was a day of slaughter. For both sides.

Convinced they were going to die anyway, Hack prepared to sell his army dearly and take as many dwarves with him as possible. The less dwarves that remained on the battlefield, the more the Valaya’s Sorrow garrison would have a fighting chance to hold off, until Azhag got there.

The battle ebbed and flowed and there was a great routing of orcs and goblins in many directions. Incredibly, the scattered remnants kept pulling themselves back together.

One side would flee, but then seeing the fighting going on elsewhere, recover long enough to ordered back to fight and flank the dwarves who had started out fresh but were by now, just as bone-weary and exhausted as the greenskins had been in the very beginning.

Running away would just get them cut down by the dwarven quarrellers anyway. Their only chance was to smash into the missile infantry and overwhelm them, and crush the hardy dwarven warriors with the weight of their bodies and corpses.


Thorgrim had been busy smashing holes in the Orc Sword Boyz ranks, even as the rest of his army had started crumbling around him from goblin arrows and orc sword casualties.

Hack valiantly tried to hold him off in single combat for a while, but knew he was going to get overwhelmed. A frickin’ Dwarf King versus a gobbo wizard, fer Gork’s sake.

The loyalty and ferocity of his gobbo archers was amazing to see, though. Many of them, having run out of ammunition, pulled out wicked-looking stabbas and swarmed Thorgrim. They died in droves, but there were a hundred of them and one of Thorgrim, and he was locked into this battle for good.

Hack kept buying time, waiting for the Winds of Magic to recharge, wherein he would let off Magic Missiles straight into Thorgrim’s face, probably blowing up several goblins in its path, but at least wounding him a little more. That throned bastard wasn’t likely to break or die anytime soon though.


All across the battlefield, scenes like this were happening. “Deyz gonna kill us anywayz. Dere’s more of us than dem. Lez make sure dere’s a few less dwarves in da world before we go to da big WAAARGH in the sky.”


Success was starting with 5 dwarves (six if ya count the dead one), and now there were three.

Eventually, Thorgrim wounded Hack and forced him off the battlefield. With their leader gone, that was it, the green tide that had been making the dwarves fight for every inch of ground up and evaporated.


The game called it a Close Defeat.

I look at the ranks of dwarf units reduced to one or two dwarves apiece, and I call it a fucking victory for a goblin.

Would you believe it, Thorgrim was NOT satisfied with this and pursued the bedraggled remnants of Hack’s army with his bedraggled remnants a second time, hoping to wipe them out for good?


“Well, boyz, let’s do it all over again. But dis time, dey’s as beat up as we wuz. We’s da onez dat are left. Wez da tuffest, fightiest, cunningest gits dere iz on dis side of the hill.

Oh yes, did I ferget ta say? We’s here fer a reason. Dere’s a hill here. We goin’ up it and lettin’ da dwarves run dere stunty lil legs out comin’ ta us.”

The second battlefield had blessed high ground.

There was a lot of shooting. A lot of soon-to-be-dead orcs and dwarves going at each other. Plenty of greenskin flanking the severely outnumbered dwarf warriors climbing up the hill. An immense hail of crossbow bolts from the quarrellers at the bottom of the hill as the remaining orcs screamed a defiant WAAARGH and charged down at them.

The dwarf melee frontline crumbled, the quarrellers lost heart and retreated all the way back to the zone boundary.


The downslope victory celebration charge.

Thorgrim was on the back foot.

Hack managed to slip into Valaya’s Sorrow, in part to reinforce the garrison from potential siege (there was one more smaller dwarf army of 6-8 units in the neigborhood, apart from Thorgrim), and mostly to lick his wounds. He was down to some 4-5 accompanying units now.

The problem was fightiness.

The lost battle and the immense casualties meant that his army’s fightiness had taken a very bad hit. It was 47 (aka not great to begin with), going down 23 (near catastrophic), that sort of thing.

He could not sit in the garrison for long. His army would tear itself apart. What remained of it. Which was barely an army and more a warband, maybe.

It was going to be impossible to knock heads together to quell animosities, it’s not like the ragtag gathering needed any -more- casualties.

He managed to wait one more turn, whereupon Azhag finally came running up to the vicinity of Valaya’s Sorrow bellowing at the temerity of the dwarves, but out of breath to actually catch either the retreating Thorgrim (down to 4 units) or the second dwarf warband which was busily raiding in Valaya’s Sorrow territory.

There was no more chance to stay passive one more turn. It would be the end as his unhappy orcs turned and ate his gobbos or the other way around, if the goblins accused the orcs of being less fighty than the vicious archer gobbos.

There was one more chance out of this mess. Winning battles and getting revenge on the dwarves.

Hack tore out of Valaya’s Sorrow with his ragtag band, having rested enough the prior turn to recover their movement capacity, and leapt on the second army of dwarven raiders – knowing full well that Azhag was in the vicinity to reinforce.

Sure enough, the battle was a foregone conclusion, and I was only too happy to auto-resolve that. Dwarf raiders. Wiped out to a man. Er, dwarf. Whatever.

Rank Gained. Hack Legbiter was now Hack da Cunning and gained a Monster Tracker trait.

With a sudden surge of morale, Hack decided to use the remainder of his movement to chase down the fleeing Thorgrim and -his- ragtag band of dwarf survivors.

Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation in reinforcement capability and Azhag did -not- show up as reinforcements to this second battle.

I was left staring at a battlefield screen that showed the odds at half yellow and half red, and out of laziness and a willingness to gamble being tired not quite being in the right frame of mind, I hit the auto-resolve without thinking.

Decisive Defeat.

What. The…

With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I read the cold words “Killed in Battle. Hack da Cunning.”

That bastard dwarf had wiped out the valiant warband. That “throwaway army.”

My goblin wizard that had pretty much felled 800 dwarves with a group of greenskins that latched on like bulldogs and refused to run away.

And I didn’t even give him the chance to go out in a blaze of battlefield glory.

I saved the game. That was it for tonight.

Tomorrow, there would be time for Azhag the Slaughterer to take his vengeance on the impudent dwarves and take all the dwarven strongholds in the process.

Tonight, well, tonight there was only a sinking feeling in my gut, made up of guilt and a little bit of mourning.

I admit it, I was wrong about gobbos.

Rest in peace, Hack, ya plucky git. I’ll miss ya.