GW2: Log Harvester Edition

The League of Orrian Lumberjacks strike yet again!

It’s official.

I’ve joined the ranks of those who risk life and limb virtual lumberjacking (aka getting mistaken for a bot by ArenaNet’s algorithm detections and slapped with a ban.)

Though by now, there’s an army of people standing by the grove of Cypress Saplings west of Pagga’s waypoint, all busy half-heartedly grumbling and chop-chop-chopping.

I held off selling 13 Foxfire Clusters in the last few days before the Dragon’s Reach Part 2 update hit, suspecting that we’d probably need them again for a whole new batch of plant food to grow the next stage of the backpack.

Good decision, as it turned out.

Except we were talking 20 for the clay pot upgrade, and 28 for the plant food, and that’s just for the first stage of this new incarnation. Double that for the next.

The names of the backpack are classic though – Mawdrey and Mawdrey II.

Being a Little Shop of Horrors fan, that’s a must have.

Not to mention, a bloodstone dust disposal unit would really come in handy.

I don't even champion train or EOTM train on a regular basis!
Yeah… I don’t even champion train or EOTM train on a regular basis!

If only we’d get another such device for dragonite ore, empyreal fragments or maybe even *gasp* elder wood logs (now 16c a piece and probably plunging further.)

What this means though, is that Foxfire Clusters are not likely to drop in price terribly soon, and I’m really tired of buying them for 60-80 silver apiece.

So the self-sufficiency option means to go woodchopping myself.

Except I’m also tired of running around 4 zones with one character from tree to tree. It was fun for a while, but I’m bored with that now.

The efficient tactic that most are using is, of course, alts. Double the characters, double the chopping power, unsoweiter.

As loathe as I was to move some very comfortably ensconced crafters from humping the Divinity’s Reach crafting stations, I decided I’d rather quintuple my usual Foxfire Cluster harvesting rate instead, at least until I get 76 of them – and then decide if I’d put up with repeating the same routine to sell more to others.

So now all five level 80s of mine are parked by the cypress grove.

Every odd half hour or hour, I log them all in to check if the trees have respawned. Feels a bit like one of those Facebook farming or resource management games – log in every 4 hours to check on things!

On the bright side, this is encouraging me to play my engineer and elementalist more, both at level 52, and consider extra key farming as another activity on the ‘to-do’ list.

Living Story episode-wise, Episode 4 definitely makes up for the slightly weaker stuff in Episode 3.

While doing my best to avoid spoilers for now, there’s one instance that had me grinning and thinking about Phoenix Wright in GW2, and the final instance is a spectacular climax to this series of 4 episodes, before we break for feature patch.

I really really liked the end-boss fight and am looking forward to repeating again for chievos. Made me feel super-heroic, taking it on singlehandedly.

It will, doubtless, be a bit too hard for some.

Overheard a more casually logging-in guildie seek help for it – kept dying as an elementalist, apparently, but imo, it’s a moderate test that asks of the player constant movement and some dodging ability.

Anyhow, if one doesn’t like to solo it, it can be done in a group as well.

I like how immersive the instances are. They encourage a little bit more “RP” into a genre that has left its RPG roots way back some time in the past.

I RP walked through the first ‘Party Politics’ instance, chatting to various NPCs.

A badly mistimed phone call stopped me from my first impulse to do something in the Waypoint instance, had to AFK during a critical story bit (yeah, this is why people solo too, rather than group) but I hear many others gave in to the emotion of the moment and acted accordingly.

And while watching the procession of leaders go past in the Summit instance, I couldn’t resist emoting a /salute as the charr Imperator walked past, which just so happened to time -perfectly- with the NPCs saluting.

It's the little things...
It’s the little things…

Anyway, this episode counts as a big must-play.

Go, go, play it, and then we’ll talk speculation in a week or so.

There’s so many delicious GW1-related hints and echoes to speculate about…

GW2: That Dang Veteran Mordrem Wolf

One ugly son of a bitch...

When the Queen’s Gauntlet was first introduced oh so long ago, I remember liking the idea of difficult solo fights that had to be puzzled out.

But I also wasn’t terribly keen on one’s (lack of) prowess being on public display for everyone to point and laugh at.

Surely, if ArenaNet wants people to learn and improve, having a practice arena that one can fail at in the privacy of one’s own solo instance would be a good complement?

After all, people learn differently.

Some thrive in the public space, as friends and strangers can watch and offer encouragement and tips, but others prefer to suss things out on their own, with the number of times they died in the process a secret known only to themselves.

Curiously enough, Season 2’s episode achievements appear to be filling this niche.

The first two episodes had achievements that seemed straightforward enough (okay, with the exception of the jumping puzzle ones that made me pull my hair out.)

Some even complained that the achievements were too easy.

Me, I suspected there was a subset of very casual players that were going to be challenged just a tiny bit even by the normal story instances – facing off two veteran inquest might challenge the more haphazard of builds, and for some players, figuring out the mechanics of the bosses at the end of each instance – even with NPC prompting – might be something new for them.

Anyhow, it was always possible and likely that they’d ramp up the difficulty of the achievements as the episodes progressed onwards.

It was with some disbelief that I browsed the GW2 forums to discover that there were players having trouble with the Foefire Cleansing instance.

herecomethetruerulersofascalon

That was an instance I enjoyed thoroughly, with a charr main who found it awesome to revisit Barradin’s Crypt with a slightly more sophisticated boss fight to echo the first time we fought the statue in the tutorial.

Of course, there are some things that I take for granted that not every player may be aware of.

(And I don’t mean the above sentence with any conceit. Everybody is new to something at some point or another. Someone who habitually plays something has unconsciously integrated a whole lot of habits that would be alien to someone who hasn’t.

For instance, I’m currently watching a ton of DOTA 2 beginner videos having my mind blown at simple concepts that more regular players take for granted – like being unseen and getting behind an enemy makes for a more likely and successful gank. Ohhh, so I -shouldn’t- just be charging up gung-ho from the front and shooting stuff! No one ever pointed out that basic principle to me before!)

hammermeetdodge

I know that in Guild Wars 2, every attack is preceded by an animation. Barradin’s Statue is especially kind because it’s so big. That makes his hammer strike super-obvious to someone who is watching the statue’s arms, and when the big orange circle flashes to indicate an attack to avoid… it’s already second nature for me to bang down on my dodge key.

Dodge key, singular, by the way.

I used to double tap WASD to dodge for a long time, rather stubbornly, before trying to dodge-jump in the Super Adventure Box made me face the fact that there was no way I was going to time dodging and jumping pressing so many damn keys at once.

(Also, one gets tired of forward rolling off narrow beams in jumping puzzles.)

It’s a lot faster to tap once than tap twice. That translates to dodge reaction time (in which some of us are already screwed over by having 200-250ms more lag time via geographic latency.)

I am aware that GW2’s dodge uses invincibility frames. Which means I don’t have to try and scramble out of the big orange circle, and end up getting knocked around while doing so, I just need to time the dodge just right to be “invulnerable” at the point of impact.

My main normally always sits in berserker gear, going with a fairly selfish build of sword/focus, scepter/torch that is built for damage and one-hand crit.

When Rytlock called out the Ascalonian Menders, all I had to do was turn around, flip to my scepter, target the mender and autoattack. Toss in a smite and an immobilize for good measure. Ghost gone in under five seconds.

menderdead

Now I do have an extra asura guardian that I use to play around with tankier builds, so I am quite keenly aware of the immense difference of speed between my charr who regularly hits 1.4-1.9k+ per crit scepter autoattack, and the asura who has achieved gloriously spectacular lows of 400-600 damage per scepter hit when he’s trying to be super-tanky and heal-y.

Needless to say, there’s a reason why I choose to roam the open world and farm stuff with the charr. (And why I mostly converted to the zerk church of power and crit.)

Still, it wasn’t until I replayed the instance for achievements that I discovered some things which other players would already have known from their taken-for-granted experience.

Going up to melee the statue allows for double damage – as one’s melee weapon cleave can hit both hitboxes, hitting it twice. This makes the statue’s health drop very quickly. (My own impulse is to stay ranged for safety on strange things I don’t trust, aka the first playthrough.)

oneswingtwonumbers

The other orange circles contained fear wards – that could be destroyed if you target them and attack. I had no clue originally since I just kept moving and avoided anything scary orange to begin with. (Contrast this with some other players’ described experiences where they were knocked about, feared everywhere, and found it extremely frustrating. I can only conclude that they stayed still and got caught in all the stuff, rather than realize they could cast and attack while moving.)

What I think this successfully counts as, is a potential learning experience.

Sure, some people who chronically refuse to learn may just give up in frustration, or admit defeat and get a group to help them or whatever. It’s good that there’s the option of the group to assist for those whose particular situation means they have understandable trouble with the encounter (injury, disability or whatever).

But for others that are able and open to adding to their pool of knowledge, figuring out how to master the encounter, and then doing it, is the challenge and the reward. The level of their play goes up. They’re better able to appreciate the complexity of combat that GW2 can offer, if only just by a smidgen more.

The Waypoint Conundrum instance, on the other hand, was something I struggled for a while to do.

Well, part of the turn-off was the thought of having to spend extra time teasing out every last ambush and trap systematically, and then dealing with the stupid running inquest assassin and closing doors encounter.

I suspected that doing it trial and error, without reading Dulfy, would mean having to repeat the instance several times over. (I was right.)

And it was annoying because defeating the mob wasn’t hard per se, but mostly a matter of hoping things didn’t break. I left Scruffy on defensive mode to take on the assassin, and the first time, the silly asura NPC just vanished without ever engaging him while I was already running off to eliminate the inquest before the door closed. I did everything else to find that the last achievement stack wouldn’t tick off and the assassin was nowhere to be found.

The second time I hung around to make sure both Scruffy and the assassin were locked in deadly yet ineffective combat before leaving, and the inquest door actually closed on me and locked me out while I was taking out the other three inquest. That was worth about ten seconds of heart attack and screaming at the door before the instance relented and somehow teleported me back inside, having concluded I was now in a part of the map that I shouldn’t be. No shit.

And there was that dang Veteran Mordrem Wolf.

dangwolf

That thing deserves to be a boss in its own right. The Champion ooze was more of a pushover than this nightmare floral canid. (Or is that canine flora?)

Part of the problem seems to be an exceptionally broad definition of flanking – which makes any sideways movement of your own risky, plus the tendency for its pounces to overshoot and whack you in the back before you can even react – or use the turn 180 degrees key (which I am unfortunately not terribly used to using, though I have it bound.)

To add salt to the wound, it coats itself in retaliation. Any damage you do to it while it has the boon on, is some damage you’ve inflicted on yourself.

I tried to range it. Got mauled.

Tried to melee it. Got mauled.

whydoyouonlyreznow

Stopped to think. Swapped gear. Swapped weapons.

Obviously this creature punished squishy thoughtless berserkers. So maybe let’s not try being so squishy.

Except I don’t really have a wide range of gear on hand and was feeling lazy to switch traits if at all avoidable. Put on cleric’s gear. Tried a cheapo hammer. Too damned slow.  Not enough damage, still died.

Tried a knight’s greatsword. Still ended up with it having a sliver of health remaining. About the same as me dodging my best in zerk, really.

Maybe try boon stripping off retaliation? Searing flames unfortunately was a little too slow to really successfully do much.

On and on. Death after death.

I even went as close to DPS meta as I could with zerker greatsword and sword/focus, trying to burn it down faster than it could tear me in half.

Which -almost- worked.

Twice it had literally no health, not even a sliver of red remained on the bar, before I got downed. Presumably if I had been a smidgen less cheap on my runes, or if I had an Ascended sword, or if I traited more appropriately, I might have been able to nuke it.

Then finally, the revelation unfolded.

I’d previously been having a nice discussion on autoattacking and its role in depth and complexity of combat in games with Talarian, via the comments, spinning off a section of his post.

Ultimately, he concludes that he sees no difference between autoattacking or spamming 1.

Conversely, I think the point of being able to turn off autoattack is that you can -choose- to spam 1 or no.

Not every game is WoW in which DPS meters must be maxed uber alles.

GW2 is a game about proper -timing- in combat. (Also proper positioning, but that’s another story.)

I got back into my standard berserker gear.

I put on my sword and focus, the main weapon types I’ve always carried with me since the beginning of the game.

I CTRL-right clicked off the autoattack on skill 1.

“Self,” I said, “When you see the retaliation buff come up on that wolf… you -STOP- freaking attacking. You just face it and do your best to survive.”

“But self,” I protested. “I’m in zerker, I only have so many heals. It moves so dang quick, the animations fly by so fast, I can’t even tell when it’s going to attack. I can’t dodge or move around very much, I’ll risk getting flanked and my buttocks ripped off for 6000 damage instead of my face bit for 1000-2000. How am I going to survive that dang wolf pouncing on me?”

“Self, you have forgotten your roots. Do you not have blocks and blinds?”

And I’ll be goshdarned, but I was right.

mordremwolf

With a new resolution to not just autoattack like a madman and to really choose one’s timing properly…

… I staggered blinds every time that dang veteran mordrem wolf twitched. Never mind if it was a bite or a pounce, I wanted it to miss. And keep missing.

When I ran out of blinds, I blocked, and let the blinds cycle back.

Every time retaliation came up, I touched -nothing- attack-y in nature, and was surprised by how little damage I was taking as compared to before.

When the buff fell off, I pressed 1 repeatedly (I did not spam, because the blinds had to go in between) and hit 3 now and then for a channeled damage boost.

That dang veteran mordrem wolf died with me only having suffered half the damage I had been taking before.

-I- had been my own worse enemy in that fight.

There are, of course, multiple solutions to the same battle.

Some have found the scenery helpful in obstructing its pounces, for instance.

(And to be honest, if you observe really carefully, you can actually see the animations correspond.

When it roars/howls, it buffs itself with retaliation. When its hindquarters twitch, it’s probably going to leap.)

Me, I’m just proud and happy I took it on guardian style and won.

GW2: Lumberjacks Anonymous and Other Tales

How much wood would a wood charr chop if a wood charr would chop wood?

Don’t Knock Wood as a Dead Resource – Mysterious Vine Pet Fad Responsible for Renewed Interest

Divinity’s Reach, Kryta – 34 Season of the Scion 1327 AE – Prices of elder wood logs plummeted by almost 50% in the last two days as numerous adventurers suddenly discovered that cypress and ancient saplings were an optimal growth environment for the rare and previously unknown Foxfire Clusters.

The bioluminescent fungus is proving to be prime potting mix and a flavorful ingredient in piquant plant food for persnickety carnivorous vines.

Said vines are the most recent fad to engulf the five major cities. “Pet rocks are -so- last season,” said a human noble who wished to remain anonymous.

Overheard a charr vendor selling one to a norn: “Why should asura get all the glory of cultivating giant Mordremoth vines on their waypoints? With this potted beauty, you can take home your very own miniature carnivorous tendril. Care for it sufficiently and it will stay with you through all your travels. They’ve been known to happily latch onto your back and never let go.”

A spokesperson from the League of Orrian Lumberjacks (LOL) expressed delight in the new influx of members. “We’ve been outnumbered by the Brisban Wildlands Iron Ore Collective for too long. It is our hope that this will allow more Tyrians to appreciate the colorful splendor that is Orr.

orrianlumberjacks

“Uprooted underwater landscapes have always struggled to get past the unfavorable first impression of backing away from a lingering Risen to get crapped on by an exploding undead chicken. ”

When asked if this deforestation of Orr would have an impact on the Pact’s effort to revitalize the landscape, the representative merely hefted a heavy pouch of gold coins in reply and said, “lol”

The Miners, Woodcutters and Assorted Harvesters Association (MWAHA) could not be officially reached for comment, but one affiliate seen running across less traversed regions deigned to stop long enough to remark, “The LOL newbies are idiots chasing after an uncertain lottery. Have you seen the price of soft and hard wood logs lately? We’ll see who has the last laugh.”

While the third episode in the latest Living Story hasn’t been anything to write home about, I’m full of admiration for how deftly the newly introduced mysterious vine backpiece renews an ailing portion of the economy and redistributes wealth around.

Remember, ArenaNet -wants- to redistribute wealth. They sink gold with Trading Post fees with every transaction. Gold doesn’t stay concentrated in one subset of the playerbase (usually the dungeon runners are the ones producing new gold from nothing, as opposed to getting it from another player.) Gold in new hands has a chance of being spent in some other goldsink. Gold stays valuable and more people think about buying gems to get a quick influx of gold.

This time, the ones getting the direct benefit of the newly created demand for Foxfire Clusters are the gathering subset, often solo-type players willing to waste an hour running around relentlessly pressing F on any node in sight to harvest materials.

Their time collecting this resource is willingly being paid for by other players, who would rather spend 80 silver (currently) on a Foxfire Cluster from the TP than go through the perceived ‘grind.’

Grind, of course, being in the eye of the beholder. I personally would rather run around and collect stuff for an hour in peace than run 2-3 dungeons in sequence with strangers. Same amount of money and time, different levels of enjoyment for each player.

The drop rate though has been… “interesting.”

I spent about half an hour getting a big fat zero in return for my time (beyond accumulating a bunch of not really desirable elder wood.) I was starting to wonder if my Aetherblade Logging Axe was bugged.

It then hit me that neither of my guilds was running a 10% harvesting buff, so I was already disadvantaged from the get go. A base 0% chance to get increased rare drops from harvests = pathetic Foxfire Cluster drop rate.

So I endeavored to get it as high as I could on my own – out came my one and only gathering booster from the bank, popped a gathering banner (and a second one later) from my personal bank guild, and ran around in Orr for an hour making a beeline for Cypress (with occasional stops for omnomberry and saffron and stuff.)

At 43% bonus, I managed around 11 Foxfire Clusters in an hour, with about 263 Elder Wood Logs collected.

This might be a pathetically amateur rate, since I do spend time killing mobs and roaming around for fun, but it was just to test how viable it would be for me to spend my time doing this as an activity.

As a sidelong amusement, it isn’t too terrible in terms of entertainment. I kind of appreciated the impetus to take a new route and revisit areas that I haven’t visited in forever, since elder wood logs are not the first resource I would usually consider worth spending my gathering time on.

I still think Orr is freakin’ beautiful.

I also had a personal revelation that it is far more convenient to get out of my usual Zerker, and put on Cleric stats when gathering. It makes me a little less instantly squishy and able to ignore and run past mobs when I want to, while my usual zerker traits and zerker ascended jewellery are sufficient to fight off a small open world mob when I want to stop and fight.

It’s a new use for my old set of magic find armor that I converted to Cleric stats for the hell of it when they removed mf as a stat. Handy enough.

Not being much of a Black Lion Key farmer, that trial run was pretty much all the gathering boost I had available. Not really being willing to run around at a worse bonus rate than 43%, I took a break and tried key farming for an hour, which is another activity I have been meaning to do for a change of pace but never quite got around to.

It’s been impossible for me to ignore the price rise of soft and hard wood logs as well, so I started collecting then dumping off all my excess logs onto the TP. Ironically, I’m earning enough to buy sufficient Foxfire Clusters to craft the daily plant food. I’ve decided I’d much rather earn 4 gold a day via various other means and then buy the Foxfire Clusters instead from those willing to pretend to be a bot (such bans, so scary!) and chop cypress constantly for the chance of a cluster.

In my round-the-world-trip to visit cypress saplings, I also observed lots of different activity clusters of players.

Frostgorge Sound, besides being the home of the still-surviving champion train, has accumulated a number of players farming the hell out of the Coiled Watch dynamic event chain, as led to it by the Living Story. Still plenty of champions there when the event scales up.

I don’t know if the Mordrem events that never stop in the Iron Marches still have a group of players faithfully following it from Point A to Point B and back again, similar to the one in Southsun long ago. Two days ago, that seemed to be all the rage.

Karka farming was alive and well, with about 10 odd players, when I popped in to chop cypress.

Cursed Shore farming was also thriving, I’d assume, via all the mapchat, though I was mostly running from tree to tree in that zone.

A day ago, I did a sequence of the world bosses – something I generally don’t do often, but now and then rares for ectos or selling rares for gold is sufficient attraction for me to get on that choo-choo train. Boy, was THAT alive and well.

Poor Maw.
Poor Maw.

And then for fun today, I did two Teqs with TTS and then went on to try a never-before-attempted role switch to condi with the triple trouble wurm.

Which also went super smoothly and makes me think I should bring my necro more often to the wurm party – it’s a nice change of pace to not have to worry about zerging and burning and just focus on pulling husks away and bleeding the @!#)@(& out of them.

Several days ago, I got crazy enough to join a TA Aetherpath PUG. Again.

As usual, they were asking for EXPERIENCED players, and when I poked my head in, it turned out to be a guilded group of three players, two of which have never attempted the dungeon, one of whom never got past the door with oozes. Said players took one look at my AP, asked if I’d ever run the dungeon before and declared me honorary leader when I said yes. *sigh*

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. There’s a certain enjoyment I get out of teaching and watching a group learn a new tough dungeon, wipes and all. (Even better now that there’s no repair costs.) We lost our second PUG member at the ooze door, and the others managed to pick up a fourth guildie, which suited me just fine. Guildies don’t tend to quit. TA Aetherpath with a non-optimized group is all about not quitting.

Two hours later, we got the thing done. Chalk up one more successful PUG marathon through the meanie dungeon. Some day I’ll find a group that can manage to do it quicker…

Oh, and I’d assume Dry Top is still going, what with the need for geodes for the vine backpiece recipes and the new kites.

I haven’t been there in a bit, but should be revisiting the place soon(TM). Want those kites.

It’s truly fascinating how a couple of newly introduced items can revive interest in a variety of activities.

It’s all good though. Stagnant stuff and habits get boring. Breaking the routine and changing things up keep the game feeling fresh.