GW2: Heart of Thorns Day 2 Impressions

I’m gonna take a page from Bhagpuss and use disconnected bullet points, because it’s impossible to organize one’s thoughts and still have as much time as possible to play GW2 before all my day off time is used up and I have to get back to the workaday grind again.

  • Found the Falls in GW2! Had a serious lore gasm! Was running around telling everybody in the vicinity (ok, just one guy who would listen) that OMG it looks exactly like the Falls in GW1
Guild Wars 2 Falls
The Falls in Guild Wars 2

As proof, I submit exhibit A, your honor, a screenshot taken during my personal Wayfarer’s Reverie way back in 2012.

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Even the tree on top of the three waterfalls is there, and the color of that sun…

  • Day 2 was essentially sample-lots-of-meta-events day.

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I logged in to hear on Teamspeak that TTS NA was planning a trial run of the Dragon’s Stand meta-event.

Dragon’s Stand?! Wtf is that, was my first reaction. Turns out, it’s the very last fourth zone on the map. Which I have obviously not even been to yet. (Nor did I touch the third zone until late tonight.)

Fortunately, all those Teleport to Friend items from the third birthday present ended up proving themselves handy. We were advised to just grab one of those consumables, party up with a guildie and teleport to friend directly over, skipping through a great deal of unattractive running past Mordrem and dinosaurs.

Damn, the meta event is like Vinewrath, Triple Trouble (and possibly Marionette too) on steroids. You know all those people wishing madly that the devs would split up the zerg and have different groups running through different channels doing their own things and contributing to the overall map goal? Yep. Dragon’s Stand has it in spades.

My group had the south/east-most one, a whole set of chained events moving through various tunnels and corridors, involving in turn a fair amount of group splitting because we had to escort NPCs, prevent really nasty bosses from wrecking said NPC’s faces, and so on.

It ended in what is suspected to be a penultimate challenge before the real boss Boss – one chamber for each split zerg that required even further splitting to take down three objects simultaneously, and eventually I suspect, a small group will split off to keep the legendary champion causing chaos in the chamber from doing that. (Our first attempt pretty much had said champion wreaking serious havoc on one of the groups who was trying to take down said object.)

Said legendary champion has an invulnerability shield, which is only taken down when all three objects are destroyed.

Oh. And all three legendary champions have to be killed simultaneously.

Hahahahahahahaha… Talk about a serious coordination challenge.

I’m looking forward to further attempts though. This is going to be pretty meaty content for large-scale organized groups, something I was a little worried we were moving away from with impending raids.

I’m super keen for the day when everyone has learned roughly what to do and has all the masteries needed, and we get to see super-organized parties and groups and squads splitting up in perfect synchronisation to do their jobs and slide through the encounters smoothly.

The one criticism that I’m hearing so far is that some of these pre-events can take upwards of an hour or two to get through before the main event, so to speak. That’s quite a bit of time that not everyone may have to spare.

Not sure, maybe things will speed up as people figure out how to split up groups so that things don’t scale insanely and learn how to do each event efficiently. Waiting for NPC escorts to move though, tends to put a finite limit on the pacing. Swiftness can only make ’em run that fast.

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This Wyvern Patriarch encounter in Verdant Brink was nuts. A really good kind of nuts.

I didn’t manage to finish this one yet, as I was peacefully soloing my way through Maguuma masteries and decided to be an iconoclast and actually DEFEND one of the rally points during the night meta-event of Verdant Brink.

I know, I know, how dare I not act like 95% of the other players and be constitutionally incapable of staying in one place for a couple minutes for an event to start.

I basically defended for 20 minutes or so, leaving the rally point vicinity only to try and run Pact Supplies into the rally point to build it up and/or try and escort a nearby Pact Soldier carrying supplies in.

Eventually the choppers arrived to take folks to the canopy… where this guy was waiting at my particular rally point – Shrouded Ruins.

(There are apparently champion encounters for each rally point. Haven’t seen all of them. There’s a Legendary Wyvern that nearly everyone sees, as it’s on top of the central Pact Encampment waypoint.)

I was plinking away at it solo for a while, observing its attacks (mostly a really nasty cone AoE painted on the ground if you got close, and a projectile one that left a circular burning AoE on the ground if you stayed at range.)

A second guy turned up, he of the minion master kind, and we were tackling him for a while as a duo, when I looked at the time limit we had for remaining night time and the state of this legendary wyvern patriarch’s health bar and decided we kinda really needed a few more reinforcements.

So I called out on map chat for help and provided directions on how to get to said boss, and we managed to attract 3-4 more players with that…

…it was enough to take him down to 75% of his health, whereupon he cheerfully showed us his next phase.

He coated the entire rocky platform with burning flame, forcing us to jump off the platform and glide around, using updrafts to get back. On a lower level below, some adolescent wyverns popped up, that could be attacked, and there were wyvern eggs that had to be picked up.

The idea was that you had to jump off the platform, glide to said cavern, grab a wyvern egg, jump off and into an updraft, and be lifted over the wyvern patriarch, whereupon you would toss the wyvern egg at him to break his shield. Literally dive-bombing with gliders.

It was ridiculously fun. Only about 1-2 of us managed to figure out what to do (or had the requisite masteries) but we nearly got all of his shield off before we ran out of time. But that was a really good kind of nuts. Can’t wait to eventually find a group that can actually do it in sync. Would be hilarious, methinks.

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Another Verdant Brink champion fight of the very satisfying kind.

This particular one felt satisfying because it was just five PUGs, we were essentially strangers who had never met each other before, just happened to be defending the same rally point together, and we went up the chopper to see these two frog champions.

Someone had apparently done this fight before, and he took the time to type out some quick advice – mostly of the “this is a pretty hard fight” “someone with masteries needs to hop up the mushrooms to prevent one frog from healing in a fountain” “both need to die near simultaneously, so keep them low on health but don’t kill” variety.

Basically felt like a Vassar and Ralena sort of fight, two champions acting in tandem, one big fat Nuhoch frog doing stompy stuff and the thinner frog doing stealthy snipery stuff.

Both frogs’ bars had some words along the lines of “buffs/heals each other when in range” so I decided that it would probably be best to try and keep them separated as much as possible.

Turns out I have a rather crazy capacity to attract aggro with my scepter/torch (there’s some rumor that it’s the number of hits that might play an effect, and definitely I can output a really alarming amount of hits between smite, scepter auto and torch spamming, all critting in zerker so probably fairly good damage too), so I decided to just focus fire the big Nuhoch guy and pull him away to one side while the other four were duking it out with sniper frog guy.

I really really like fighting Nuhoch. They’re really big and kinda slow, so their tells are obvious enough for me to see, read and respond. It’s really satisfying to see him get ready to leap, and then roll away to the side just as the orange circle appears under me and he comes leaping over or belly flopping.

The other four got their frog to low (whereupon he promptly vanished, heading for the fountain presumably) and I saw them come over to mess around with Nuhoch guy. One guy ran off after the sniper frog in the fountain with mushrooms, and I decided to join him since I had the bouncing mushroom mastery, and the other three looked like they could manage the Nuhoch.

We hopped all the way up to the fountain, where we found thin sniper frog bathing and healing at an ungodly rate in the fountain, and I unleashed all the crowd control I had at my disposal in an attempt to interrupt him before he got to full.

(Fortunately, a little before this, I had swapped to Signet of Power (knockdown on activate) and Hammer of Wisdom (knockdown on command) while in Auric Basin because there were just way too many angry dinosaurs that needed breakbar damage. Add on an immobilize for DoT and I can normally juust take down a non-scaled breakbar while soloing,  and do a sizeable chunk or at least -contribute- to most breakbars in a group – assuming non insane scaling.)

Sniper frog had a tidy sliver of breakbar left, and luckily the other guy jumped the frog and did some manner of thiefy or revenant thing to him which took out the last bit of breakbar. That shorted out his healing, and he returned to the ground having healed up only half his health or so.

(Presumably if there were one or two people already stationed up there waiting for him, they could have returned him to the ground faster. We had to improvise, pretty much.)

The three on the ground had smacked the Nuhoch dead in the meantime, so it was just a matter of clean up on the other guy.

Before you knew it, a Froglicker achievement was had, and everyone was high-fiving each other for being awesome.

Impromptu five man fight. Really neat.

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Then there’s encounters of the not-so-neat kind.

Hahaha, the Legendary Wyvern…

I was a little spoiled. Besides the beta fights of this wyvern, where after much say chat coaxing, I managed to get enough revenants to hit one skill on their weapons in sync to net the wyvern -once-, my first fight of this guy on the live servers was with a TTS group where a considerable number of people actually know what an interrupt/crowd control is, and someone was yelling “break bar break bar” over Teamspeak every time the green bar showed up, so about halfway into the fight, the group had more or less managed to keep it relatively grounded (but still cutting it a bit close, because not everyone had specifically specced for it, I don’t think.)

In subsequent PUG maps where I just pop my head in, because I’m grinding masteries and the choppers show up… well, you can forget any hope of grounding this fellow, because the horde of 40-50 people are pewpewing uncontrollably at it and probably thinking that the wyvern sweeps are unavoidable, and the break bar is scaled up to the point of 2-3 people being unable to compensate for the lack of everyone else’s cc contribution.

I have more or less resigned myself to lots and lots of puke green lines of death in a PUG wyvern fight for now. I suppose eventually everyone will learn, but urgh, it’s painful right now.

There was one rather funny fight where I tried to type break bar instructions into say chat, and an Anet guy was there in the same fight, and he said ‘cc’ when the green bar came up… and both of us watched the entire group promptly fail to even take it down 75% of the way, because apparently no one was a) reading say chat, b) had cc on the bar and/or c) couldn’t get out of combat to switch.

After which, I crashed out of that map – one of the few times I haven’t minded an out of memory error – and logged back into another wyvern fight. Whose map group also equally failed to take down the break bar, but it was at least really low on health compared to the other map so the pain was minimized somewhat.

The latest technical problems seem to be said out-of-memory crashes.

I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since I swapped to Windows 7 and 16GB of RAM in the new computer, but somehow they are back in the last few patches of GW2 – possibly a combination of some memory leaks, the amount of time I’m spending in-game and the number of different player models I keep bumping into while doing group content and it being forced to render all of them.

I’ve had to crank down graphics settings a bit – rumor mill suggests something to do with anti-aliasing, as well as lowering visible player models. I knocked off some shadows while I was there. Less crashing now, but still somewhat unpredictable.

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The last meta-event attempted was in Auric Basin, with the Octovines.

This is another rather intricate affair, with some really lengthy pre-event chains that have different groups splitting up to all four cardinal directions to help light up some pylons for extra magic armor.

The jury’s still out on whether these chains are necessary, or no, but for the first few attempts, I think the whole group wanted to maximize our chances. (Also, getting more people mastery xp and more of the map explored couldn’t hurt.)

It ends up in the city proper with four different groups performing different mechanics to weaken a shield and kill the Octovines. Simultaneously, mind you.

There’s some role differentiation. People with specific masteries can dress up in glowy armored suits and perform a tank/control/support role, doing their best to push some traps away from the main group and keep some big nasty dinosaurs stunned/controlled/out of the way.

The main group has to do their thing bombing down the Octovine shield with said different mechanics.

A particularly nice touch that we discovered was that there are interconnecting corridors within the city, so one group can run to another side’s aid if theirs is done and another side is having a bit of trouble.

I suspect the meta-event also rewards partial success, if only some Octovines go down. It’s just that no one had figured out where all the loot chests were located prior to this.

Celebratory group picture at the successful end.
Celebratory group picture at the successful end. (Note the cranked down player models on the periphery, had to lower settings since I initially crashed on first contact with a big group of players at one side.)

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  • In other news, the solo story continues…

(It’s pretty hard trying to find a screenshot absent of spoilers, but I think this one is ok. Hey, it shows that it’s not ALL green jungle out there.)

Blaugust Day 2: The (Very Optimistic) To-Do List

It’s past noon on a Sunday and I’m finally feeling somewhat human again after some intensive sleep and a warm lunch in my belly.

I managed to finish a scan-through of all the blogs that posted on Day 1 of Blaugust, and wow, I am not envying Belghast‘s self-inflicted job over the next 30 days to keep it all organized.

Anyhow, there’s gaming I want to get around to, but first, a blog post to satisfy Day 2.

I’m going to use Izlain’s good idea of creating a gamer to-do list to provide some focus for the rest of the month.

My personal rules are going to be a little less strict or structured: I’m likely to shuffle things around, add and remove at will, and my mind has no idea what ‘reasonable size’ even means. 🙂

Mostly, it’s just to have a list of stuff-I-might-want-to-do for me to refer to, when I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next.

So here we go:

  • Watch the Dota 2 International (3- 8 August, so this week.)

My optimistic dreams of learning Dota 2 to a sufficiently decent level didn’t quite materialize, stalling at the limited pool of 20 heroes, but I enjoy watching the spectacle anyway. I’ll just watch at my basic level of understanding and pick up stuff from the commentary. Still enjoyable, even if I can’t appreciate every last nuance.

  • Play the GW2 Beta Weekend (7 – 10 August)

The beta weekend announcement also includes some nice thought-provoking questions asking for specific feedback that might turn out great as prompts for a blog post. Two birds with one stone, hoorah. We’ll see how it goes, though.

It looks like it’ll mostly be the same content as the first two sneak peeks, and I found it very hard to write much about it because it felt then like more of the same. Which wasn’t -bad-, it was comfortable, familiar, a little bit grindy, but neither was it blow-your-socks-off-spectacular either. It felt like, okay, we’ve had Dry Top, we’ve had Silverwastes, and now Verdant Brink is the next continuation of that. Right. It’s (more or less) playable. I get where you’re going with this. I guess… it’s all right, it’s acceptable, no strong reactions either way.

  • Seriously attack the hobby room with a GTD-based cleaning effort (7 – 10 August)

Not quite game-related, but I’ve been on a declutter kick, and that’s something I’ve earmarked for the long extended holiday weekend. It’ll be nice to find a carrot to reward a serious effort at this, but I’ve been feeling quite content and satisfied after finishing the scientific skin collection in GW2. I just kinda want to build up some gold reserve again, is all.

Perhaps I might either think about a dreamthistle skin (not the whole damn collection though, shudders) or maybe allow myself to spend some money in Trove.

GTD (just google it), by the way, is the system that best works for me when decluttering. Collect everything by yanking it all out into a pile. Process it a piece at a time, figuring out what it is and what should be done with it. Organize it into categories for storing in its proper place (decide on a place if it doesn’t have on) or associate a next action/project to be done with it (scan it, donate it, whatever). I’m definitely still working on the Review and Do steps though. Not quite gotten the total hang of those yet.

  • Scan at least a book a day for the month of August.

As mentioned, my declutter project wasn’t quite done, even after three focused weeks of effort.

bookstobescanned

This pile is one of those still-to-dos. They’re still in decently good condition, but I have to accept that a) I just don’t have the space to keep so many books any more, b) I’m not likely to pull them out to read or re-read them, now that I’m hooked on an iPad and find reading on a computer screen not stressful at all, and c) that they -will- grow mold and fungus over the next ten years in my climate, making it less and less likely that b) will ever happen.

Solution: Ditch the paper, keep the knowledge digitally.

Depending on just how sentimental and unable to detach from your possessions you are, it might be possible to get by with a camera documenting memories of your stuff, but given the number of books I own (the pile is, like, just one shelf), plus loose papers and business cards, receipts, bills, letters and other assorted junk, I invested in the Fujitsu Scansnap series years ago and swear by them.

I own the S1500 model, now replaced by the newer-and-improved ix500, which is a workhorse of a scanner with an auto-document feeder. Books that I care little about preserving, I slice the pages off the spine and let the faithful scanner nom it up and spit it back out in PDF form. The software is pretty decent, with an AABBY Finereader variant for the Scansnap for OCR, and comes with Adobe Acrobat.

This year, I couldn’t resist the SV600, which fills in for the gaps that the previous scanner can’t handle. Namely, stuff larger than A4 sizes and books that you want to scan non-destructively.

Personally, I find it a little slower, in the sense that the manual flipping of pages becomes the scanning bottleneck because a human can’t turn pages as fast as the scanner can scan, and the resolution and accuracy can be a bit more iffy and take up more human processing time tweaking settings pre- and post-scan (there’s a lot of neat software tricks for straightening booklet scans, removing fingers, etc. but you have to go in as a human and adjust little dots one at a time to tell the computer what to do, so stuff slows down.)

But it really fills in the gaps that the first scanner just couldn’t handle, and between the two of them and a digital camera, it gives me no excuses tools-wise for not being able to digitize anything.

Only my procrastination and easy distractibility stands in the way.

So, taking advantage of Blaugust, that pile is slightly over 30-40 books (some of them pretty small), and I’m aiming to scan at least one a day (preferably more on the weekends just in case I run out of time on the weekdays) to go along with my blog post per day. Probably try to get the small ones first.

  • Goals for Trove
    • Level ringcrafting (I’m at 206, gotta get to 250. It requires mining ridiculous amounts of shapestone ore, 1100, at last count.)
    • Level gardening (Just crossed the 50 mark, I suspect it also requires an absurd amount of shapestone or sunflower whatsits.)
    • Get a better mount (Still using Slow Sebastian with the 70 mountspeed, normal mounts are 90 speed. I’m eyeing the store raptor, which requires the daily earning of cubits – obtainable in-game, and/or something fun from the Treasure Isles traders, which require an insane amount of glim, which I don’t have, but might earn fishing.)
    • Fish (which increases glim, and one needs to fish up 5 rare fish for ancient scales to upgrade one’s fishing pole. There seems to be an approximately 1% chance to catch a rare, which means 1 in 100 lures or so. Bit of a time suck, so do this while watching stuff in the other screen. Good thing there are going to be quite a few Dota 2 matches on the to-do list too.)
    • Get an ally (I’m not entirely sure on all the different ways yet, but I have my eye on the Prowling Shadow, which reputedly makes performance better with a whole lot of lifesteal, and that is apparently a rare drop from buying cat soultraps (aka lockboxes) at 300 glim each. That’s a -lot- of fishing for glim.)
    • Get boat (Finding those Treasure Isles traders is probably going to involve a lot of running around on the seas. One of these would help. No idea how to quite get one yet either. Gotta look it up. I suspect it’s also going to need glim, or some rare fishing resources.)
    • Plus the usual run around, fight stuff, get xp, do dailies, level to max level 20, play alts, the works.
  • Goals for GW2
    • Finish the new LA jumping puzzle (guiltily, I haven’t really bothered with it much. I might just look up a video and follow it, it just doesn’t seem to scratch an explorer itch because I don’t even know where one should be aiming towards and there are a whole lot of things that look like they could be jumped on, but don’t quite turn out that way when you try.)
    • Finish Dry Top badges and the llama hunt (never quite got around to the Challenger Cliffs completion)
    • Finish Silverwastes badges (I’m missing one or two normal ones and many many golden ones)
    • Finish the last undone jumping puzzle in my achievements tab (can’t remember what it is, but I know there’s one more I never got around to doing)
    • Finish the Ebonhawke achievements (the book reading and the poster things)
    • Possibly tidy up alt inventories again
    • Open all the champion bags I’ve been chucking in the bank with the low level alt
    • Maybe sort out my bank
    • Slowly build up gold reserves cleaned out from the crazy scientific skin chase
  • Watch Indie Game: The Movie

This comes in completely from left-field, but I was just scrolling through my Steam games list and realize that it was there. Possibly came bundled with some Humble Bundle or other, or something.

I watched Free 2 Play, the Dota 2 documentary, and didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it, even if it’s mostly spectacle and fluff. I just kinda liked the idea that games have gotten serious enough, or at least part of the mainstream enough, to have documentaries made about them. So, why not? It’s like watching those “making of” movie clips, not exactly full of substance, but just a brief, polished look at some behind-the-scenes or production aspects.

Anyway, I need some easy goals for the tough days too.

  • Other Games I May or May Not Get Around to Playing, But Have Been Thinking About Trying or Re-Visiting
    • AI War
    • Astebreed
    • Cinemaware: Anthology
    • Dishonoured
    • Don’t Starve
    • Evolve
    • Gone Home
    • Hate: Plus
    • Her Story
    • How to Survive
    • Injustice: Gods Among Us
    • In Verbis Virtus
    • Minecraft (with all those lovely mods)
    • Path of Exile (the Awakening expansion)
    • Poker Night 2
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • Puzzle Quest
    • Realm of the Mad God (it may have deproved, there was some bruhaha around the cash shop around the time I stopped playing)
    • Skyforge
    • Spacechem
    • Spiral Knights (I really liked this game, but geographical latency issues were a killer)
    • Strike Suit Zero
    • Tales of Maj’Eyal
    • Talos Principle
    • The Banner Saga
    • The Blackwell Legacy
    • The Dig
    • The Stanley Parable (I played the free version, got the paid one in a bundle)
    • Terraria
    • Warframe (tried,  not super-impressed, may give it one more go before writing a ‘first impressions’ piece, or just chucking it entirely)

Yeah, well, I’m optimistic. What can I say. Getting the first four done will already make me very happy. We’ll see how far we get on the rest.