GW2: AR Groups from Dual Perspectives

Play an AH hammer guardian in a variant of Strife’s anchor build for too long, and you end up getting a very one sided view of dungeons.

You are always “the tank.” Mobs glue onto you. 6 pieces of Knight’s gear and melee proximity is all it usually takes.

(Failing which, I throw on my WvW soldier/clerics with soldier runes, which are nearly always guaranteed to exceed nearly anyone else’s toughness rating, at the expense of losing significant amounts of damage – I only consistently lost it once on an Arah 4 run where some guy had decided to wear Sentinel armor. And didn’t have great reaction times on kiting sparks. Now that was “fun.”)

Usually, I don’t mind. I’ve tanked before in other MMOs. And you know the saying, if you want something done right…

It just can get VERY wearying in a GW2 group if you don’t have sufficient support. And you grow bitter because you end up convinced that you are carrying a bunch of selfish damage builds by sheer herculean dint of protection-laying, self-healing, reflection, blocking effort until you go down, and bounce back up again because someone revived you, to do it all over again and go down again and up, and on and on.

If you do have sufficient support on the other hand, it is usually a cakewalk. Go in, buffed up to the gills, everyone AOEs and cleaves, voila, stuff falls over dead, everyone’s still sturdily standing after.

The problem with tanking is that it’s also hard to have sufficient leisure time to study any fight mechanics from an outside observer’s perspective, because you’re too busy trying not to fucking die.

Alt time.

I tried bringing in my spirit weapon guardian in berserker armor.

Well, the damage is a little higher by traiting in the new 50% damage spirit weapon trait, but I was rather miffed I had to give up the vigor on crit trait to do it (need all the endurance one can if one is squishy, y’know?)

The main problem I ran into is that everyone expects a guardian to tank, and if you sit around chilling your heels, they wait around for you too because they’re just as much wusses as you.

If one was lucky enough to run beside someone else who took responsibility for the aggro, it seemed to work decently well. Sword teleport into strikers and sic a hammer on them to keep them interrupted and the lightning channel disrupted. Spirit sword did aoe damage, spirit shield absorbs projectiles and weakens the group, etc.

The other issue was that you give up a shitton of survivability sitting around in berserker gear. The cannon phase was not great. One accidental misstep = death and disaster. And in a PUG, all it takes is one guy running around like a headless chicken to screw up your careful stepping pattern and screw you over.

I died consistently and just couldn’t shake off the feeling that this was making me look like a clueless noob in everyone else’s eyes. I also felt too much at the mercy of how the entire party was built. Random group is random. Berserker, imo, is really for more coordinated groups.

Money spending on alt time.

I’d built up to 36 gold in the last few days, and promptly spent 24 of it decking out my WvW warrior in a new dungeon/gear build.

There seemed to be very little consensus on appropriate warrior dungeon builds, especially since the traitlines just got shaken up recently, so I ended up designing it based on my objectives.

Evil Plan: Dump aggro. Stay alive.

Nagging Angel on Shoulder Reminder: Offer group support for the poor schmutz who ends up tanking.

There were a number of multiple goals behind this. As I said, I wanted to observe other people in the tank position to see what they did – learn their tricks and observe where they stood, etc. There was the vague hope that I would eventually luck into a party with a competent tank and maybe pick up the Personal Space achievement.

And I figure if I want to learn other dungeons eventually, it’s good to walk in as primarily dps over a tank position, where you know, everyone expects you to magically know what to do.

(Side benefit, pug groups where the guy who becomes “it” doesn’t know how to handle it become hilarious. You either watch them get better at their class, or we all wipe together over and over until mass ragequits happen.)

How did I achieve this?

Zero toughness. I didn’t want to go full berserker for reasons of personal survivability worry. So strange combination incoming – Valkyrie/Magi.

You see, I decided I was going to go axe/horn and rifle. I’d previously leveled with axe/axe and rifle and was the most familiar with those weapons. (Reserving the greatsword for my second warrior.)

Horn does fantastic condition removal when traited for it (converts to boon, even), and AR is full of highly annoying conditions for the whole group. Rifle is useful for single target damage on fights which require one to be ranged.

I also decided to play with banners, so I went a full 30 into Tactics with Inspiring Banners, Quick Breathing and Inspiring Battle Standard. Turns out if you run two banners like this, you can pulse and build up to around 30 seconds of regeneration on everyone. Quite crazy, really.

I am suddenly super melee buffbot, an interesting variant on the City of Heroes Defender which was ranged buff/debuff. On a sturdy group, the added power and precision banners should make stuff die extra quick. On less study groups, I can also switch to the healing power, toughness and vitality banners in the hope it helps them some. Running For Great Justice adds on extra fury and might for all.

Layering on healing signet helps me pulse regen heal and I have a hefty vitality hp reservoir to stay alive with. I suppose I could also add on another layer of regen with mango pies, but haven’t felt the need for it yet.

Alas, crafting the Valkyrie armor cost a 12 gold bomb (better than buying it off the TP for 18 gold, I suppose), and ruby orbs are slotted in all 12 locations to push oneself more toward the damage “expected” of warriors. Crit chance is not great, at 30%, but remember, fury pushes it up to 50%, and crit damage bonus is 80%. Won’t match a pure berserker, but imo, respectable enough.

What really blew up the bank was deciding to splurge and buy the three most expensive superior sigils to put on my berserker weapons for some 15 gold. The axe has a sigil of fire, and the horn has a bloodlust sigil. 250 power if I get to build up stacks pushes attack and damage higher. I’m not convinced the sigil of fire is that awesome as yet, but I’m keeping an eye on it. Worse come to the worse, there’s the black lion salvaging kit because the weapons ended up cheaply bought via WvW. The rifle sports a sigil of energy to help endurance for dodges since I have the fast hands trait as a side benefit of going 20 in Discpline anyhow.

It’s been a useful experiment in terms of group observation ability.

Everybody else pretty much becomes “it” as most are likely to have a shred of toughness somewhere.

If they don’t, then they are obviously running some variant of berserker and are very damage-focused, so it becomes the equivalent of an 8 blaster team in CoH. Nuke it all (preferably from ranged) or die trying.

I’ve been able to see necromancers step up and tank and kite. Even an engineer or two. In one hilarious group, the mesmer clones and ranger pets and Ellen Kiel were holding most of the aggro – though disaster hit when the one ranger with the pet holding the aggro didn’t know how to appropriately handle the golems before everybody died.

I learned a whole lot from those groups which I couldn’t see before while being the center of attention though.

And we will be discussing those strategies in the next post.

GW2: Completely Wrong Ways To Have Fun in WvW

Or allowing “baddies” their day in the sun.

I used to play the heck out of Team Fortress Classic. As a pubbie, cos I got none of that competitive dedication. My favorite class? The engineer.

Yeah, the one that let you cover up your lack of good aim (or lack of an aimbot) with an in-game auto-aiming sentry gun.

The one that let you emplace a sentry gun, yourself with a shotty, and your ammo dispenser (read: bomb. Who uses it for ammo, really…) in three different places at once to make life difficult for the medic who loved nothing better to poke his head in gingerly, back out, then rush in, grenade your sentry, concussion bomb jump (catching me in the blast in the process) and zip past up the ramp.

I imagine he must have been laughing uproariously as he sped full tilt into the little small room, suddenly banged right into a dispenser blocking the doorway, and then BOOOOOM.

*snicker* That never got old, though some guys did catch on in the end and successfully got the flag. I counted it as a moral victory if the guy had to bring a second friend though.

The point of the engineer was to outthink the other guy strategically, and come up with the best sentry gun and dispenser emplacements (and yourself – can’t count the number of times someone stopped to nade or gun down my sentry and got shotgunned plinked to death from behind, who needs aim when you got a point-blank shotgun) to really perplex your opponent and prevent them getting your team’s flag.

Sometimes you couldn’t win. They’d get your flag over your dead body. (Figuratively and literally.) But god, were they delayed. Your team could grab 1.5-2 flags in the time they got one.

And then there were the nades. The oh so fun EMP grenades. I could never play TF2 for long, even before the cash shop craziness, I missed the nades too damn much.

I was that fucking punch-drunk crazy kamikaze engineer who would run full tilt into the enemy team with an EMP nade primed and go BANZZZAAI and boom, take out 5 of them with 1 of me. Giggling hysterically. I doubt it did much for my K:D ratio. Nor was it meaningful to overall team score unless well-timed (like clearing out a bunch of defenders at a chokepoint for one’s team to rush in.) And I’m sure some would rage about no-skill kills. But it was still funny and fun to do from time to time.

Why have such things in a game?

Because it lowers the entry barrier into a game and brings more people into the game by catering for different playstyles. Because as people dip their toes in, and find something they are comfortable with, they keep playing, and one day, maybe they’ll decide they want to learn more and master something else.

Hunted maps were a bit of a pain for me at first, because, oh god, no engineer *sob*. As a sniper, I would suck. As the civilian, I would probably be brain dead and not have great timing with whatever nade jump I would be expected to do. Default option left: Soldier. Four goddamn rockets. Wtf was I supposed to do with them?

I was just one of those random useless soldiers who ran around shooting rockets into walls and windows for a while. But hey, I liked the other maps in the rotation as an engineer so I stuck with it. I read Hunted guides. I read soldier guides. I watched soldiers who seemed to know what the heck they were doing. I practiced rocket-jumping up the vent like those guys were doing.

It took me a while, but eventually I had it down to a decent enough science that I could join one of those three guys getting the civilian up the vent, shoot a useful preventative rocket into the windows snipers liked to use even as the civilian hopped onto a nade and did a graceful arcing jump across the courtyard and zipped into the exit point. Game, set, match. The snipers barely ever won.

I even downloaded maps to try out conc-jumping because I kept seeing some really good medics perform some amazing feats right in front of my eyes in the flag room. Fucking double conc jumps up into the flag room up high, bypassing all my defences except the dispenser (with which I got them with only once before they learned to take it down) and zoom, out again, before I could ever catch them.

Repeated practice and playing as an engineer eventually got me routinely up to the second highest scorer on the scoreboard, second only to the one offensive pro who was normally doing the job of capping the other team’s flag while I did my job making life hell for people poking their nose into MY goddamn flag room.

But I would never even have started down the path if the game wasn’t interesting or easy enough to give someone with initially no skill some ways to have “wins.”

So what does this longwinded story have to do with WvW?

One of the biggest factors affecting the number of people playing has to do with morale (besides the obvious ‘timezones’ factor.)

This is so important that commanders are advised to pay a good deal of attention to it. Shaky morale means people drifting off, falling behind, running away or logging out of WvW.

But why only wait for those few commanders who know how to manipulate and boost your morale?

I didn’t like the uncertain feeling I was getting when getting shaky on morale, and after some thinking, I narrowed down precisely where I personally was having issues. Losing control. Feeling like the situation is beyond your ability to affect. That other people are doing to you, and not you doing unto them.

Fleeing and logging off at this stage has never made me feel any better.

But you don’t have to fall prey to it, because there are always ways to to affect something or do something in WvW and regain a sense of control that way.

Disengaging from a fight you can’t win and going elsewhere to do something is always a valid option. It’s only running away if you never come back.

Do I have to list examples? You see it everywhere. Stop beating your head on the 3 min righteous indignation buffed supervisor if you can’t get dark fields and life stealing going (and even that’s going away next patch, I hear.) Zergs smoothly do a tactical retreat, rebuff and surge right in from another direction. Stealth classes losing battles go poof all the time and get the hell out of dodge.

Yea, though I live in the valley of the shadow of suck, I shall fear no death.

Especially for an objective.

Random funny mini-stories:

I went yak-slapping a couple days ago with my then level 79 to get the last few smidgens of xp. At that level, I’m sure the upscaled 71-74 rares were very sucky. I ran into some Kaineng mesmer at a sentry I had converted to help in my yak-nomming, and it turned into the most hilarious “fight” I have ever had in game. I couldn’t kill him, my damage sucked. I just focused on trying to stay alive with my new and unfamiliar skillset and build, just about narrowly making it, though to this hour, I still don’t know precisely how. It got to the point where I had the sentry help by stunning him and the hammer was still hitting like a wet sock. Then he figured out to kill the sentry first. Oh shit. Back to dodging and staying alive within that tiny circle. I somehow held on so long that the sentry actually respawned. Rinse and repeat.

I was wondering how the hell to get out of the situation, though I noticed in the minimap that [PiNK] was busy taking the nearby hills keep some time ago. Oh right! I am HOLDING OFF a lone Kaineng reinforcement (though I’m sure he wasn’t stupid enough to run into the zerg there anyway) from reaching the keep. The instant the keep flipped, I jumped out of the circle and ran full swiftness tilt downhill hoping to get within vicinity of friends before getting offed. He kindly didn’t chase and waved, remaining behind to take the sentry.

Got in a zerg. Zerg got very badly ran over by [RET] and the commander decided to fling the remnants off a cliff instead. Oh hey, lucky break, this place a bunch of us leapt off is still shallow enough to not die.

A couple of very dedicated-to-fighting-and-killing [RET] jumped down to finish us off and got gibbed by combined fall damage helping our ineffectual builds.

We milled around wondering how to get down past the next very steep fall while some ranged guys kept us in combat and unable to waypoint. Last order from the commander was jump the hell off the cliff, kill yourself, come back to spawn and regroup. Oh well. Geronimo!

I hit the ground with 300hp left and blinked. LOL. Still alive. I forgot to screenshot it, but I spent a couple seconds doing a celebratory Asura hop at the two [RET] guys looking down at the survivors before waypointing.

Then there was the time Mendon’s was getting ninja’ed by 5 Kaineng and a ram and I was first on scene to report numbers. Two guys caught sight of me and decided to go after me. I took off in the opposite direction with my lil legs pumping. They must have learned the value of “DON’T CHASE” that day because as they gibbed me near Speldan’s, I was watching 4 green dots on the minimap converge on their three remaining guys and a ram at the front door of Mendon’s. I respawned and got back in time to watch the remaining two get swarmed down by the now 7+ TC’ers and got my hit in. Mendon saved. Mwahaha.

Oh, and the things I do for yak noms.

deadyak
That yak had extra delicious cookies, I swear. Keep guards? I laugh in the face of keep guards, lying here under this dead yak…

This was when I was still downleveled and hitting like a wet sock. Who cares? I wanted the objective and I got it. Delicious xp to level 80. My hammer’s much better now, thank you.

Even in the worse case scenario of it being guarded and you know you’re going to die if you engage and there’s no one else around to help, there’s always roleplaying a zombie and pulling the yak down with your cold undead hands before you get stomped. And coming back. Zombies never stop coming, even if they fall apart with a sneeze. (And then randomly disengage and hit another yak after they’ve gotten used to your pattern. Very few people have the patience to walk a yak for long periods of time, most will wander off after some time.)

It’s good practice for the time when you need to rush a siege knowing you probably will die but just going all out to fuck it up before falling over.

Repairs cost next to nothing these days. The shittiest dungeon run or repeated WvW deaths will barely take off 11 silver. One sold rare on the TP makes it back with extras, even without a quick dungeon run. Death ain’t nothing to be afraid of.

Oh, and teachable moment. Met someone who asked if I wanted to come along and take a supply camp. I can’t solo a supply camp, they said. Huh? I wasn’t sure if they were pulling my leg. Hey, look, you can so solo a supply camp, I told them as I jogged along with them to the nearest camp. Let me show you.

They were disbelieving. All of them come at me and I’m berserker, they said. You’re a goddamn guardian, I think to myself. Don’t give my favorite class a bad name. A squishy thief could solo a supply camp with patience. But out loud, I say, No, no, you just have to back away far enough. And pick off the scouts first. Let me show you how to pull.

And I did.

They still rushed in while we only separated a scout and a guard (and the supervisor was starting to come towards us) so I don’t know if the lesson on pulling and backing away far enough FULLY sank in. But the principle was demonstrated, and they seemed confident they got it, so what the hey.

One more ever-so-slightly-educated person now capable of soloing a supply camp and feeling like they have the capacity to affect something on the map.

Control. Morale. Strategic thinking. Interesting new moments that make good blog stories and good memories.

Fun.

That’s what’s it’s about in WvW. For me anyhow. And the killers should be happy, because with those mini-wins, I keep coming back for them to slaughter. Take those away and I’ll take my ball and my body home with me. Enjoy post-Trammel UO.