GW2: In Praise of Bite-Sized Content

Having spent a few too many days playing through two-hour long map meta events (sometimes, only to reach bitter failure), this weekend I found myself making only a few desultory efforts to taxi into an organised map before giving up.

“Eh, let’s give other people a chance to experience it and not hog a slot.”

“If it’s the weekend crowd, chances are likely their first few goes at it are going to fail anyway, given the learning curve and all that…”

“I could be doing this with much less frustration and failure a month or two later when more of the player population actually knows what to do.”

“This is wasting too much of my time when I could be doing other things.”

“Also, I’m nursing a headache and I don’t think I can withstand staying upright for 2 straight hours of middling ordinary play to razor-sharp focus right now.”

All the above ran through my mind and before you knew it, I’d dropped the taxi and ended up mostly in bed napping.

When sleep was finally impossible because the brain kept insisting it was time to wake up, I decided it was time to head back to core Tyria and catch up on stuff I’d been ignoring there.

Like topping off and completing the Fractals 3 mastery I’d been working toward steadily, given the news that Fractal rewards were getting tweaked a little in the future. (Well, that means I kinda need to have a basis of comparison and try out opening at least a few chests now.)

The most peaceful and still fairly efficient method of filling up the mastery bar that I know is solo killing of xp-laden ignored mobs.

So I popped some boosters, and ran around Cursed Shores (long time no see), Southsun Cove and ended up settling in Frostgorge Sound under the quiet, dark and deep waters killing all the things.

Sometimes, loving things other people loathe has its advantages.

I ended up finishing that rather quickly. In order not to waste the boosters, I turned my attention back to Pact Mastery 2 – at a more modest million or so xp – and managed to get that bar to completion too. Job well done, in just one hour.

I logged off, feeling satisfied.

Back again in Tyria after another round of naps, I started scanning the achievement and collection lists. Fractals and daily fractals stood out as something I hadn’t touched post-HoT. So I gave them a go.

Frankly, I must applaud the post-HoT fractal changes.

(Mind you, this is ignoring the reward aspect. I tend not to even keep track of how many fractal relics I’m earning when I play. I just do an activity, click all the chests, and only when I need the tokens, do I check my wallet to see how much I have accrued over time.)

Here I’m just talking about how much less of a pain it is, now that they’ve chopped up what used to be a set of three fractals, plus a final boss fractal.

Before, you were looking at a 45 minute minimum time investment, if you were lucky and got a decent group, or upwards of 1.5-2 hours for a not-so-great group. I’ve heard nightmare stories of 3 hour fractals, but I don’t want to think about those.

Now, especially given the guidance of a simple ‘daily’ fractal number, you just grab a group and go do that one fractal. Done in 15 minutes (give or take a few.)

If it’s the daily, you even get an extra bouncy chest to add on to the good feelings.

I open what I can with the free keys from the dailies, usually getting 10-15 silver junk plus some number of +1 infusions, and sell the rest of the chests on the TP.

If I feel like doing more, then I can scan the LFG list and either do two more single fractals to make up another daily, or jump on a group with more stringent goals (such as a specific string of two or three fractals) or a group that’s trying to do some kind of achievement/challenge.

Wow, it's been a while since I've seen this part of the map.

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this particular part of this map.

I am especially in favor of the -certainty- factor of the new fractals.

I keep the Fractals of the Mists wiki open in the other screen for easy reference, and at a glance, I can set my expectations appropriately.

Ok, that group is asking for a 2. That’s Bloomhunger, easy peasy, I can do that.

That’s a 23? Ok, tunnel crawl, kill a bunch of mobs, whole lotta dredge trap mechanics, k, I’m ready for that.

A 22? Ugh, Cliffside. Eh… I don’t like all those vertical heights and chanter stuff, I think I won’t join that group today.

I didn’t realize it until it was gone, but I always had this subconscious sense of -dread- with pre-HoT fractals.

On paper, randomization of a dungeon sounds like a good thing, for variety and all that.

At the same time though, there was a lack of control aspect to it. You had to remember how to do 14 different mini-dungeons, on the fly, and you’d only know which one you faced when you were hip deep in it. No takebacks. Get through it, or give up the whole thing. Even if you could manage such a thing, you’d worry about your four other teammates, were they as experienced? Would they stumble?

And well, RNG being a cruel mistress, sometimes you got the worst possible combination ever, and the whole experience wound up being a massive hard slog through stuff that was tedious, long and/or challenging. No wonder I tried to avoid fractals as much as possible.

moreaether

I feel a lot more openness and flexibility with the new fractals, now that they can be done singly.

You’re not stuck with a hopeless group for a marathon quest. You just complete one quick bite-sized challenge, and thank you, we’re done. Each fractal feels like a quick CoF path 1 now.

If you do like the group, and the group clicks and has the time, nothing stops the five of you from continuing further.

I joined a fractal group that had advertised itself as aiming to complete the Swampland challenge mote for the backpack, and that went by really well. A party member started asking about the Firestorm first achievement, another one asked “Hey, the next fractal is aquatic, there’s a challenge for that too, wanna do it?”

Before you know it, we went through the aquatic challenge mote, did the Firestorm first achievement, did the 5 minute time limit achievement for the Jade Maw, and made a pretty good attempt at the Cliffside 5 chanters or less achievement (didn’t get that one, we might have accidentally went through one too many chanters or the chievo bugged.)

They were still up for more, but my head was busy trying to pound itself out of my skull near the end, and I decided it was time for a break and another nap.

(And no, I have no idea why the last few days have been a sequence of minor headaches. It’s probably just a migraine, eye strain, lack of sleep, caffeine withdrawal or some kind of flu virus. Hopefully nothing more serious.)

The whole bite-sized collections making up a legendary is also a nice concept.

My first impulse on hearing that the fractal backpack was named “Ad Infinitum” was to laugh my ass off and nickname it “Ad Nauseam.” Which is what I imagined repeating -that- many fractals over and over would feel like.

Of course, when you actually SEE the damn thing being worn by an NPC, you start drooling at its shininess, and seriously looking at the collection page examining each task for its “doability” factor.

adinfinitum1

The first one’s not that bad, actually.

I got all of this in the space of a day or so (granted, that day spans two GW2 ‘daily’ days.)

The biggest time-limiting factor is the collection of 28 fractal research pages for a journal. If you do one fractal daily, it’ll take you 28 days, or a month-ish. If you get two fractal dailies done each day, we’re looking at two weeks. Which ain’t so bad, fairly reasonable a medium term goal, imo.

The biggest cost is the ball of dark energy, which you’ll have to salvage an Ascended weapon or armor for, I think.

I ended up staring at the Ascended chests collected over time in my bank and sacrificing a Dire stat weapon for it. At least I unlocked a free orange-colored skin in the process.

Over the next two weeks, I just need to catch one more volcanic fractal (to soak the ice elemental core I popped off Svanir a couple days before, and wondered then what the heck it was for) and one more swampland fractal to infuse a +4 infusion (easily gotten, given the amount of +1 infusions I’ve been receiving from the new fractals), and do mah fractal dailies.

I’m sure some of the challenges for the later backpack versions will get a little more tricky, but I’m enjoying the bite-sized nature of the process. It feels like you’re getting somewhere, for not that much cost or effort invested at one go, just a little gameplay here and there.

GW2: Fractals of Silence and Skill (Or Lack Thereof)

FoOoooO, quaggan is gift-wrapped!

I’m hoping to mark the end of my fractal journey for the time being by this week or the next.

At the start of September, I was fractal level 25ish with 26 AR (after goodness knows how many years) and not terribly motivated to go any further.

Eh, some gold, some fractal relics, lots of blues and greens, the odd yellow or orange, pretty much everything to be salvaged since most of the stats that turn up in fractals – Magi, Cavalier, Soldier – are odd, to say the least. Plus Ascended rings that take up slot space (I am constitutionally incapable of throwing -anything- away in an MMO) and the rare rare chance that something pretty might drop.

Oh, and the same content ad nauseam, alongside questionable PUGs – since I lack that mythical beast known as a stable, organized group within my timezone who can deal with my schedule (or lack of it.)

For the hell of it, in a similar vein to my self-imposed “collect all the Scientific skins” challenge, I decided to try to get to fractals 50 before the expansion hit, with its vaunted fractals revamp that would both make the leveling curve easier and slope it upward ever higher to 100.

After all, it is both satisfying to be able to say “been there, done that” as well as be among that rare opposite breed of player who can play the so-called ‘most difficult’ content in GW2 and yet not be an eager raid fanatic.

We’re a few days away from the end of September now, and I’m officially at fractal level 45 tonight.

It’s a little bit trickier to rise further in levels via LFG PUG, given the number of highly aggravating mistlock instabilities that make it daunting to open an instance at one’s current level.

Essentially, I’m sitting around waiting on the largesse of someone else who has already reached fractal level 50 to start their group and jump in… assuming they haven’t already hit their quota of PS warriors and are busily demanding eles and guardians, or conversely, in a more haphazardly not-at-all meta compliant group, hoping that the party won’t give up and fragment from one or two players just up and quitting the group one fractal in, because they didn’t like the chaos/inexperience on display or took umbrage at the ranger or necro in the party or something.

In any case, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

If there’s two things I’ve learned from my fractal journey, it’s these:

  1. Other people are not super-skillful gods of competency. There’s no need to be deathly afraid of them, or conversely, looking like a right idiot in front of them.
  2. I am not a super-skillful god of competency. There is always more I can be learning and improving on incrementally, as long as I keep an open mind, stay observant as to what’s still lacking, and am patient with myself.

Where 1) is concerned, I’ve feel like I’ve seen it all at this point.

I’ve seen people fall off the Uncategorized fractal simply from mistimed jumps, not a harpy knockback; fail miserably at running wisps in the Swamp (guilty); get smashed by Jade Maw tentacles or fall over consistently from failing to pick up crystals; completely fail at either kiting Mai Trin or managing the cannon phase without panicking like a headless chicken; mess up on really idealistic plans to output sufficient dps to take down Molten Berserker, Grawl Shaman or Subject Six in one go; splatter all over the Thaumanova fractal trying to manage the heat room or shield room; totally screw up the dredge fractal buttons or kiting the last boss from lack of communication, unsoweiter.

What might rather surprise those who haven’t been there is the capacity of practically all of these groups to pick themselves up (even if they have to peel themselves off the floor multiple times after a total party wipe or log out to repair and return) and -eventually- complete the fractal.

The only kind of fractal group I’ve seen fail is the kind where one person gives up and leaves in silence, followed by one or two more… at which point I’m left staring at one or two more people left in my party and think “fuck it, I don’t want to organize this” and leave wordlessly as well.

That’s generally a failure to communicate, pretty much.

It seems to be the oddly damning sin of most PUGs – silence.

Everybody barely says anything and just kinda hopes that everyone knows what they’re doing. If carnage results, then a slightly better group will start to produce one sentence communication, and a bad group just ups and disappears right there.

On this front, the higher level fractal produces better odds that more people generally know what they’re doing, more or less, though there are a few difficult encounters that can start to reveal flaws in that assumption – most memorably in the Snowblind fractal, where certain groups end up throwing one’s bodies over and over at the elemental source while total party wiping the instant someone accidentally aggros one too many ice elementals while 40-60% of the group either doesn’t know what to do about them or decides they will keep pewpewing the elemental source instead.

Granted, the way that encounter is set up, it becomes almost quite impossible to have a lengthy discussion because you’re either getting chill debuffed, chased by really nasty Svanir, constantly knocked down by the elemental source once you run out of stability, struggling to light the fire before the debuff kills everybody, desperately trying to roll out of one-hit KO ice elemental shards, and so on.

(Yes, there are a few safe zones where one can stand in the fire’s warmth and not aggro anything and swap skills, but really, if your team lacks teamwork and communication to begin with, d’ya really think they can manage that?)

Compare and contrast this with the fractal level 10 I attempted one day, mostly in the hopes of getting a quick daily speedily done, where it became rather obvious that the somewhat cute and somewhat pathetic guardian in our party, who only had 740+ AP, was an inexperienced newbie with no AR worth speaking of.

Not merely because he kept falling off every last Cliffside obstacle – entirely likely that he’d never seen the wind blowing statues or the little exploding knockback thingmajigs before – but also due to his tendency to instantly melt in 4-5 ticks when an agony pulse hit while the other four people remained upright and untouched.

He said nothing about being new, or indeed, anything at all, possibly due to the fear of being kicked for his inexperience or noobness.

It did, however, leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable and uncertain how best to help.

The group kind of just “selfishly” ran to each stage of the fractal and sat there waiting for the straggler(s) to catch up, though the two who seemed to have the most clue (ie. me and another person, probably the one who started the party) took care/charge of the hammer and we did, more or less, wait for the guy to finally catch up before progressing on to the next stage.

Everything in silence.

Granted, it is hard to know just -how- to help. It’s not like I could portal him past anything, he has to press keys in the proper sequence and timing in order to get past the obstacle, the only thing I could do is either give him swiftness or cure his conditions (not useful in this situation) and/or advise him to take his time getting the timing down and/or suggest swapping in a skill with stability.

As for the AR problem, well, it’s blatantly an artificial stat barrier meant to produce vertical progression grind (one reason why I never bothered much with fractals before this either.)

With something as ‘meta’ as this, it’s really hard to know just what to say or do. It ultimately boils down on each player to have done their research beforehand, figured out just exactly how much AR they need before stepping into the ‘correct’ level fractal, which is, objectively a -weird- expectation that a player would have scrutinized the wiki and/or stepped into the fractal portal to have this all explained to them via NPC beforehand… especially when you think the first way a player is likely to encounter the fractals is via a LFG party, especially when a daily tells them to do a level 1-10 fractal. (Granted, the guy was optimistic jumping straight away into level 10.)

Anyhow, the discomfort was mostly mitigated by the fact that fractals 10 is really quite easy, so we just brute forced our way through most of it and ‘carried’ the slightly more clueless individuals through. Only way they’ll learn in the end, via experiencing it, right?

Which segues me to point 2), in that as the fractal levels rise, the failure of others to ‘carry’ me, or cover for my own lack of mastery, has essentially forced me into getting better.

(Mostly through encountering a really disastrous situation, and post-fractal, asking myself what I could have done to not contribute to that.)

After sneaking by many many fractals without really learning the jumps in the Swamp by either not running the wisp. or helping only with the closest ones and brute-forcing most of them, somewhere in the 30s, I decided it was time to solo roll a Swamp fractal and practice some of the wisp runs under the tutelage of ample referencing of gw2dungeons.net.

I’m happy to report that I can actually take on the spider one now without triggering a million baby spiders (by virtue of *duh* jumping on the rocks without eggs nearby) and can deal with all the near ones with full confidence, having memorized a reliable jump path that will work even if the nearest gates are closed.

(Previously, one just used to run and pray that one got lucky.)

The far ones are still tricky, mostly due to my continual inability to distinguish traps from ground (bulky charr is bulky and clumsy) and tendency to run right into the mossman or fail the jumps, but well, there’s always room for more practice later.

I’ve at least memorized the far northwestern one, whose path seems somewhat easy and clear cut, even if my practical implementation leaves something to be desired in between trying to dodge one-hit-kill skelk, traps and getting tangled in-combat and failing jumps as a result.

The one real take-home from actually attempting some of these runs is that I’ve realized it behooves me – if not actually running – to amble on by to support the person running far with swiftness and condition clears and so on, rather than sit like a lump of lard at the logs and hope for others to magically reach the stumps with the wisps without my help.

Ditto the heat room in the Thaumanova fractal. Most of the time, someone much better practiced at it volunteers to take it on and I see neither sight nor sound of the encounter.

In one particularly memorable fractal group, it turned out that -none- of us knew how to do the heat room very well at all. Since it was an over-40s group, doing it was compulsory.

Rather fortunately, I had previously scanned through that fractal on gw2dungeons.net to learn a few tips for just how it might be possible for my class to manage it (not to mention, what the hell it was all about and how the mechanisms worked) and suggested to the group that we may as well collect and use all the cooling rods first, before attempting it as the final thing.

This was done, and all of us had ample time and opportunity to actually -practice- the room (for once) since the whole group decided to throw themselves at it in the hopes that -somebody- would make it.

After my share of failed theory and implementation, I eventually hit on a personal working combination of stacking swiftness through warhorn and banner, Bull’s Rush (thank you, gw2dungeons.net), Rampage’s number 3 rush, falling over and hitting 4 to regain a bit of health while waiting for vengeance 3, hitting that and powering through the rest of the way, amidst double dodging, spamming 1 and generally cursing Asian latency when it comes to needing to physically spam a button.

While I’m still not going to be the first to volunteer to solo that darned room, I no longer feel completely helpless regarding it. If no one else can do it better, I can at least give it a shot and probably get by.

If anything, I think my fractals journey has suggested that it’s unrealistic to get uptight about ‘the perfect run.’

Is it nice if it happens? Yes. I’ve had super-smooth runs where everyone knows how to use ice bows and strips defiance for near absolutely frozen statues, the dps is phenomenal, and the whole fractals sequence is over in 40 minutes or thereabouts. Countable on one hand though.

I’ve had just as many runs or more where mistakes happen, people screw up somewhere, and no one says anything, just picks people up or peels themselves off the floor, and the team completes regardless.

And I’ve had the odd completely baffling run when there are 3 elementalists and myself in the party and we can only reach about 15 might stacks maximum because not a single elementalist even lays out a fire field for me to blast or use a banner in, let alone appears to know how to stack blasts for might… or conjures an ice bow, and I’m *cough* guiltily not strictly 100% meta compliant either because *cough* have you SEEN the price of those runes of Strength, and was using the then-cheap Pack runes as a not-great substitute… except now they’re not exactly cheap either, leaving me at an impasse where runes are concerned. To leave in or replace? (WHEN OH WHEN CAN WE SWAP RUNES LIKE IN PVP, SHEESH.)

Still completed, despite me being disturbed to the point of re-scrutinizing my runes to figure out what was going on, and having a serious rethink re: whether I really should put in Strength runes some day and/or reviewing my food choices to see if something else can make up for that. The thought of using up food worth 40-100+ silver per PUG run is somewhat cringe-worthy though. (I think, where I’m concerned, there are practical limits beyond the holy grail of theoretical optimisation some folks say we should be seeking.)

I think I’ve learned that the unpredictability of a fractals run can be fairly interesting and enjoyable, if looked upon with an open mindset, and preferably more staggered out to every few days or once a week after this mad rush to 50 ends.

I’ve come to the realization that many many people running fractals are absolutely where I am – still in the process of learning to get better – and so there is very little reason to feel inferior or afraid – what’s the worst that can happen, really? The party disintegrates or you get kicked by some strangers whom you’ll never see again. A bit of time wasted. Group up with the next band of strangers that comes along and have a fresh start. Try not to repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Eventually, progress gets made.

I don’t know, I find it quite hard to wrap my mind around this associated concept of “prestige” and “showing off one’s skill in an arrogant manner” that some people relate to ‘difficult content.’

My interpretation of most skillful performances tends to be that heaps of patience and lots of practice went on behind the scenes, and what we see on display is persistence finally paying off.

If anything, I should think going through the difficult learning and mastery process would make one more humble.

Imo, the loudest braggarts, quick to find fault with others, are often not the most skilled.

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

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

What’s losing out is the blog. Again.

Guild Wars 2

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

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

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

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

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

It’s also -something- to do, I guess.

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

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

Meh.

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

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

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

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

Ah, why not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trove

Not much to say Trove-wise.

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

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

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

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

Minecraft: Regrowth

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

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

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

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