Blaugust Day 22: Asura Alt Collection – The Guardian (GW2)

Yep, a second guardian.

From very early on, I knew a charr guardian was going to be my main in Guild Wars 2, but coming a very close second was the idea of an asura guardian.

I was in love with the amusing contrast of really tiny yet really tanky, plus the fantastic asura combat animations, spinning around on a staff to empower, leaping and spinning everywhere like little dervishes with weapons way too large for them that pull them every which way with inertia.

shudd1

Shudd was my answer to that desire. (And we have seen him before, showing off various armor styles nearer the beginning of his career.)

Funny story about his naming – I knew he needed a proper asura name. One syllable, short and sweet, with two double letters in there somewhere.

You know, it’s a lot easier said than done.

I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, stuck at the naming portion of character creation, typing in any short, nonsensical but asura-sounding words I could think of, and coming to the conclusion that with the number of people playing GW2 that also care about naming conventions, a LOT of the possible one syllable word combinations were getting taken up… there are only so many vowels to go around and possible consonants to be arranged around them, right?

Somehow, the word “should” popped into my mind. (Maybe because the sequence of events went something like “There -should- be SOME names left, dammit.”)

There aren’t any repeated letters in that though…

So I tried, “Shodd.”

Nope. No go.

Erm, “Shadd?” Nothing.

“Shedd?” (Though it sounds silly) Nada.

Let us not try Shidd. (‘Tis a silly name.)

Eventually I went down the vowel chain, and badabing, Shudd got through. And hrm, sounds presentable to my ear. Works.

The great irony was when I played through the asura infinity ball personal story arc and realized that I had an NPC assistant named Shodd. Totally unintentional, but I suddenly had a pairing worthy of a law firm: Shudd & Shodd, World Domination Inc.

Then I got to Lion’s Arch, and realized there was another asura NPC, Captain Shud, in charge of the portals and on the captain’s council.

This was a perfect, if completely unintentional, demonstration of additional lore – aka how confusing asura names are to humans, yet utterly distinctive to the diminutive asura.

In my head, I could just hear it being patiently explained to a bookah, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. It’s Shudd, as opposed to Shud… or Shodd,” each word carefully pronounced and articulated…

A giant question mark appearing over said bookah’s head…

…and the lil asura throwing up his hands and going, “Oh, forget it. Why am I even bothering?”

shudd2

Why -two- guardians, some would ask, when the one guardian could switch traits any time to be any build whatsoever?

Well, the idea was that my charr guardian was going to be built for solo wandering, to be mostly a one-handed weapon user, to be all hard-hitting berserker and stuff. The asura, on the other hand, was going to cleave a bit more towards meta, to do my group dungeons, to be a little tankier, to be used in WvW and we could achieve gear and build differentiation that way.

Best laid plans and all that.

It worked for a time. The meta of the day was the anchor guardian, so I faithfully picked up Knight’s gear, a hammer, a two-handed sword and so on. I did a considerable amount of dungeoning with Shudd, and couldn’t help but notice that I was picking up 95%-100% of the aggro of every fight and struggling to stay alive through self-healing, altruistic healing, renewed focus and pretty much every other trick in the book, while my group compatriots did nothing but dps (probably poorly too) and after that go, “Jeez, that was super easy. Piece of cake. Need harder difficulties!”

What? I was barely clinging on to life and it was so touch and go at certain points… And you want it, harder?!

Some time around the point between the Molten facility and the Aetherblade one, I realized I had finally had it with attempting to tank (or rather, anchor) for groups that couldn’t appreciate or see what was happening. Far better to split the aggro, let the ungrateful ones take a few hits of their own, and -feel- it, and all the stupid remarks about “easy peasy, need it harder” went away. I swapped to warrior for dungeoneering then, and retired the guardian.

He did, however, still see me through lots and lots of WvW. I swapped around cleric, soldier, zerker, zealot stats every which way, trying to figure out the best combinations, changing between tanky/bunker healbots, tanky frontline spearheads, not-so-tanky midline staff (lootstick) spam and basically played a ton of melee frontline in a zerg, during the best of times with superb commanders.

These days, I’ve been changing it up and playing more ranged backline (it’s also lazier and less stressful and easier to drop in and out unmissed) so poor old Shudd is sitting around unused, with bags still mostly bursting and untended to. Probably just a matter of time before things change again, I suppose.

shudd3

Personality-wise, Shudd is a lot more gregarious than Kujl.

His oddity, I suppose, is his adventuresome nature. He’s also off exploring the wilderness and interacting with all races of Tyria in a manner similar to the old GW1 hero, Vekk.

Yes, he is snide and snarky, like nearly all asura out there; he’ll cheerfully call you a bookah without thinking twice, but he’s not xenophobic about it. He’s in fact quite happy traveling and communicating with all races because to him, everything’s part of one giant lab experiment – his lab experiment.

Graduating from the College of Synergistics, he studies relationships and connections. You might call him a sort of sociologist or anthropologist, practising observational science. He studies various cultures, how they get along, relate to and interact with one another. He’s interested in psychology, history, economics and basically anything and everything that might suggest how it all synergizes into the Eternal Alchemy.

Because well, if he can understand that, then that’s it right there. The secret to life, universe and everything. Godhood, world domination, your heart’s desire, the fount of eternal life, the source of all magic, whatever, it all pales in comparison to the origin of knowledge, to understanding how it all ties together.

If the network of the Eternal Alchemy can be determined, mapped and understood, everything else would naturally fall into place like dominos following a chain reaction.

It’s going to take a life’s work. It’ll be a magnum opus, and possibly a swan song. It may mean slaying the Elder Dragons, if need be. So Shudd’s out there, observing, cataloging, fighting, searching for true facts and truth itself.

(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)
(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)

Everything else, well, it’s just stuff made in passing, inventions to kill time or serve a purpose.

The infinity ball? A toy.

The alchemagical devices that generate holograms like shattered dragon wings and his sword? Just utility tools.

His powered armor? #normalgeniusasurathings. Doesn’t everybody do that?

Whatever. The answer is out there. Somewhere.

shudd4

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 22, and 42.

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GW2: The Old Versus The New – Guardian

Well. -The- patch is here.

It wasn’t easy waiting for 12 hours, wondering why I didn’t take a day off from work, mind you.

With even more irony, I logged in on my warrior alt, thinking to witness the awesome glory that is supposed to be overwrought condition stacks melting world bosses… only to be late to the successful Teq map, attempt a second impromptu Teq that few showed up to (having already succeeded prior), and then stand by for a Triple Trouble Wurm that had a communication malfunction, leading to unsuccessful synced decapitation and no phase 2.

Meh. Guess I was overdue for an unlucky day.

I did manage to do some brief preliminary comparisons on my warrior while waiting for all this stuff, so I had a vague inkling of how all the stats were shifting. Somewhat. (No condition damage comparisons as yet. Was just looking at overall stats, level scaling and power builds so as to get my main characters back to a semi-status quo state.)

After which, I finally had the time to look at my guardian main more closely. (Not yet thoroughly though, just a glance so far.)

Overall Exotic Versus Ascended Stat Comparisons

There’s good news on this front, in that the change isn’t as drastic as feared. Apparently they cut back the proposed 10% difference in stats down to 5% again or something.

gw2statcompare

I’m not 100% sure my calculations are exactly accurate, so take whatever I say next with a grain of salt, or feel free to check my calculations for me.

The first set of columns were the old pre-patch stats for exotic and ascended gear.

The second set of columns was a really quick back-of-the-envelope Excel calculated theoretical stats based on the “30% increase in stats and 10% difference in exotic/ascended” phrase.

The last set are the actual new stats, as mostly visually verified by staring at the tooltips on my exotic zerker gear and ascended trinkets, plus one ascended armor and then taking the GW2’s wiki’s stats for the rest (they seem to pull direct from the API, so everything appears to match.)

In our original pre-patch circumstances, the difference between full exotic gear and full ascended gear was 8.38%, in terms of just comparing the primary stat – aka somewhat significant, but not overwhelmingly so. Certainly there is encouragement/motivation to pick up ascended trinkets at least, as that then closes the gap to 2.16% difference. Picking up an ascended weapon but not going for ascended armor, leaves  you at 1.31% difference Power stat-wise. (Not talking Armor here, that’s a whole different ballgame.)

The slightly more dreaded theoretical post-patch scenario would put the difference between full exotic and full ascended at 10.06%. (Which is a really fun number for math-impaired individuals to rally around and kick people without realizing that the pre-patch difference was also 8.38%.)

However, even if this came to pass, picking up ascended trinkets would put a character at 4.67% difference from someone in full Ascended. (Rounded up to 5%, it’s still not a terribly fun number, because I can definitely see some people getting their panties in a twist over being 5% “weaker.”)

With an ascended weapon, the difference would be 2.95% (or 3%), which is ehhh… not terribly horrific either way, but meh, I wouldn’t have been thrilled to end up feeling obliged to get ascended weapons for all of my dungeon running or WvW characters.

The good news is that the actual new stats have gotten a little more moderated back to something not so annoying.

The difference between full exotic and full ascended has actually improved just a tide at 7.72% (due to exotic getting a boost in stats to make up for removal of stats from the traitlines, I believe, unless I screwed up the math somewhere.)

Picking up ascended trinkets improves a character to 2.37% difference, which is a slightly larger gap than of old (2.16%), but yeah, doesn’t seem like something to fret over.

Ditto just lacking ascended armor, it’s 1.47% difference as compared with the 1.31% difference of old. The gap’s slightly larger than before, but not even a full percent of difference.

Absolute stat-wise, we’re talking about a 99 Power difference between full exotics and full ascended now, as compared to 84 Power before, or the 130 Power of the theoretical scenario.

I kinda like that number. 100 Power “feels” sorta significant as a pretty round number for the math-impaired, but you can easily nom a consumable food that gives you +100 Power, and be on par with say, someone in full Ascended armor that foolishly didn’t bother to eat any.

Of course, just as I finish typing this, I realize that I’ve neglected to add pre-patch base stats (I think it was 926) to this total, as compared with the post-patch base stats (now 1000), so… argh.

gw2statcompare2

One quickie version later, the Power differences have gotten even closer.

Conclusion: We haven’t hit any apocalypse stat-on-gear-wise that one can (or should) throw a hissy fit over. Eating consumables, finding runes or traits that give +7% or +10% or +15% damage would probably skew damage more than this stuff (I guess I should sit down and calculate those one day to figure the exact numbers out for myself too.)

Level 80 Stat Comparisons on my Guardian

80finder

Obviously, this is going to differ from your characters based on however you traited them. My main guardian has decidedly never been dungeon meta compliant. Deciding that I just didn’t want to use greatsword often on this character, I dipped into right-hand strength very early on to get consistent crit damage from sword/focus and scepter, and never looked back.

The old version dipped into four traitlines for a bunch of utility stuff like all the radiance blind on F1, honor for empowering might and the heal on dodge roll, a little virtues for the extra stuff on virtues and gave up going deep into the Power traitline that way, losing 200 potential Power.

You can see the new version has picked up quite a bit more Power from the stats being on his gear instead of on a traitline. Toughness increased slightly, but that’s just the base stats getting boosted up. Vitality dropped, with a corresponding drop in health, which I’m not 100% thrilled about.

Precision is… meh, more or less somewhat similar, and Ferocity got a boost. Condi damage and healing power, ehh, lost them completely, though I’m not sure if there’s too much difference between minimal benefit and none.

My crit chance dropped by 5%-ish, something that doesn’t really make me that happy, but eh, I guess that’s what right-hand strength and its bonus 15% crit is for. Crit damage dealt does increase a little due to the corresponding Ferocity increase though.

guardianspec

I’m relatively content trait-wise, having decided to go for Radiance, Honor and Virtues.

I get a pretty similar spammable F1 Virtue of Justice as before, though I think I’ve lost the vulnerability on it. I get better recharge on my signet heal and my torch skills, where previously I had none. And I still get right-hand strength (15% crit) and an extra 10% to crit on foes that are burning. (And everything -should- be burning these days.)

I keep vigorous precision, which I am super-used to for endurance regeneration so I can dodge, and selfless daring for a heal on roll (though it may be worse with 0 healing power now.) I keep empowering might, something I am again used to. I get -extra- 15% endurance regen from the new minor trait, and a protector’s impact symbol so I’m much safer when falling now, AND I get pure of voice on my shouts, which is really sweet because my previous build had a serious issue with condition removal.

I keep unscathed contender and inspired virtues, again stuff I am -used- to, and get a whole bunch of bonuses to virtues that I never had before.

The biggest thing I lost was vulnerability on blind, which on a sword/focus, spam F1 guardian, is quite a bit of vulnerability indeed. 😦

(Ah well, looks like I’ll have to use my second guardian – which I’m okay using greatswords on – to cover that.)

The tradeoff is that I got quite a shitton more condition removal and virtue stuff to play around with.

Amusingly, when I ran around Orr and did a quick comparison of before and after, I still seemed to be doing very similar damage on the whole (1700-2300) per sword hit, and my scepter hits seemed to have improved slightly (1400-1600 to 1800-1900 damage) so I guess I’m not /unhappy/ overall with this particular guardian build. (Still need to compare his burning damage and healing potential at some point though.)

Level Scaling Down

70finder

This is what it looks like at level 70.

Because I am an idiot that forgot to take accurate records of data at levels 50 and 60, (ie. forgot to open the Hero screen to look at one’s stats, in favor of hitting stuff), I’m going to have to rely on my second set of data on the warrior later to get a solid grip on this, and use my guardian data as a sort of backup confirmation (after I piece back together what stats I can through guesswork via the combat log.)

The overall picture doesn’t seem terribly pretty though.

By level 50ish, and definitely at lvl 40, and probably under that, our new scaled down stats are worse than before.

What this means for dungeons, if any, I’m not sure, but it does seem like an effort to bring lvl 80s in parity with new leveling characters (which are supposedly more aggressively scaled up. I neglected to collect any data on that front, so I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out.) Which may be a good thing community-wise. Then again, social stuff is hard to predict.

More musings later, after checking out the warrior(s).

P.S. In the interests of disclosure, I have bought the Ultimate edition today. The Anet reaction to the uproar was pleasantly mollifying. A preliminary look at stat changes in the patch didn’t seem to indicate the end of the world was coming or require a ragequit on behalf of my principles.

I had -intended- to stick to my guns and wait until more information was released, but there were a) white wings that I was going to buy anyway that were on a one-day time limit, and b) a self-inflicted gambling/I-want-it-now-it-might-be-too-late-later urge regarding a couple of scientific skins that are currently in price flux while people try to figure out if they are intended to be sold for 1 or 3 tickets at the moment.

Between some ‘fun’ ie. lottery-style entertainment with Black Lion Keys (25 keys => 10 ticket scraps) and exchanging gems to gold (789 gems => 125g) while folks are going nuts feeding gold into gems for the wings, I managed to pick up two more skins that I wanted (not to mention plenty of boosters for future alts in the two character slots and spare transmutation charges) and have gotten most of the gambling urge out of my system for around $36.25 USD or $48.74 SGD.

Which, I suppose, is okay. A little more spendthrift than I regularly practice, but something I can afford at this point in time. (Yes, Black Lion Keys directly to skins is not worth it unless you’re really lucky. You’re mostly spending $1.05-$1.10 for a booster and the /hope/ that something good will pop. Which is an amusing hope to indulge from time to time, but rarely, once in a blue moon kinda thing.

Folks who can’t control themselves though, had better not start in the first place. This one was a mea culpa, when I suddenly got it in my head that I might maybe want to chase/complete a Black Lion Skin collection for the hell of it. It’s looking like, probably not. One will suffice with what one has.)

GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Liadri the Concealing Darkness

allthatforapatchofblack

If you ask me, all that shows is not how l33t someone is, but how goddamn pigheadedly stubborn and willing to throw money and time at the problem they are.

I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It's pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then have yours. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back.
I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It’s pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then talk to the ringmaster. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back. Three people also work and you can queue up beforehand for that.

I basically bought two stacks of watchwork off the TP and dedicated a holiday afternoon to banging my head against the boss until something stuck. I’m a little slow on the uptake and learning, so it took possibly 100+ tries. On the bright side, I now have basic Liadri phase 1 to a science and will be happy to share what I’ve been doing with you.

I’d like to thank my P/D condition thief for being the guinea pig, having 25% speed, swiftness on dodge, extra endurance recovery and stealth to pause the action some aided quite a bit in the learning process, but I kept running into the issue of not doing enough damage on phase 2 before dying. I’m just not as instinctively familiar with the class and skills and I think it shows.

Anyway, you’re not hear to listen to me blather on…

Phase 1 – How to Move On to the Next Phase As Efficiently As Possible

liadri-1

1) Move to the left of the first white patch

Your point of view will look something like this.
Your point of view will look something like this.

If you are lucky, the shadowy orb will spawn near here (it’s random and it pulling is the only thing that can screw up this strat, try again) and you can smash it with a hit. A targeted ranged attack can be obstructed, so use an AoE or a melee weapon. I used dagger 1 for the thief, and staff 1 for the guardian.

The idea is you want to start the Vision of Mortality clone approaching the light patch.

2) Do not get comfortable, Liadri’s AoE is about to fall down on your head. Dodge forwards towards the clone approaching you.

liadri-2

It’ll feel a bit scary but you should still have some distance from the clone. Let the AoE shower down behind you.

3) Then dodge backward into the same place you just left. Because AoE is now about to hit where you were standing.

All this time, the clone should be advancing toward you in a fairly straight line and should be about to run into the light patch.

The idea of the dodging is to evade past all the damage-over-time walking on the light patch does to you (as well as get out of the AoE shower.)

4) Pick up the first crystal. Swing towards the white patch, keeping Liadri on your left. Throw crystal at her.

liadri-4

This gives you a little distance from the clone behind you, enough time to grab the crystal and throw it at her without getting pwned by its touch.

5) You then want to head leftwards of the white patch. Give it a fairly wide berth for now.

Why? Because this is about to fall on your head if you stand too close to it.

liadri-5

6) Now you can move to the edge of the dome, behind the white patch, to lure the clone over. (There will be one on your left and right as well.)

liadri-6

This will be the time that tall characters and charr will rage about the camera angles. It really sucks in this position.

I’ve also encountered a cage or two where the white patch is damn close to the wall and you have to stand in it for a while. (Ouchies.) At least, I think it is the cage. I thought it was being on a charr at first, but I now suspect the cage. I’d switch cages, personally.

Just hold your ground and wait for the first clone to get into the patch, if your health isn’t too horrible.

You could also sorta kinda juke to the left and right of the patch and hope for a clone to get in, but the more deviations, the more chances something is going to go horribly wrong.

7) Grab crystal. Run towards Liadri, aiming to get past her a little. Be prepared to dodge forwards if/when AoE appears under you.

liadri-7

Because stuff will shower down as you are doing this, first here:

liadri-7b

Then here:

liadri-7c

8) Being in the safe spot gives you time to swing your camera back to look at Liadri and fling the second crystal at her.

You also want to look out for the orb at this point because it respawns around this time – when you’re about to throw the crystal and may screw you up with a pull. If you’re lucky, it will appear right with you, and you can throw the crystal, then whack it as you go past.

9) From safe spot, arc and approach the third patch but STOP just before you get there.

Because AoE is just about to cover the white patch area.

liadri-9

(Ignore the player and the position of the clones in this picture, his movement deviated from how I like to do it and they’re all a little out of position as result.)

10) Once the AoE clears, you should have free range to stand in the appropriate place to kite the next clone into the third patch.

liadri-10

(Same issue with the screenshot, the clones can be a lot closer to the patch by this point. The basic idea is the AoE is not falling where you will be messing around with the patch.

11) Grab third crystal. Move/dodge away from clones. Fling at Liadri and begin phase 2.

Ok, so I’m glossing over the tricky bit. The other clones will be very close at this point too and may cause death to the unwary. A thief can shadow refuge (or a shorter stealth if you like living on the edge) and halt all clones long enough to grab safely then be off. Other non-stealthy people may just have to eyeball it and see if you can grab and dodge before a clone gets too close.

If you miss, like I sometimes do, stumbling out of F pickup range, there is NO time to go back and try again. The crystal may also despawn by the time you putz around avoiding clones then re-approaching it. Abandon crystal and move to the next patch and try again. You’re on your own at that point. 🙂

Phase 2 – Where I Can Provide You The Theory But The Actual Doing May Cause Hair Loss from Frustration and Rage

So, yeah, once she eats three crystals, her invulnerable shield falls off, she’ll pause for a slight moment then begin a spin of some kind. After that, she’s after your ass and will be leaping toward you to attack with her whip, she applies cripple and weakness, and all the while the clones will still be after your hiney, and the shadow orbs will also be spawning to pull you and fuck up any nice pattern you try to fall into.

If there’s a pattern of orb spawning, I need to watch a lot more people attempt it to figure it out. So far it’s just been utter chaos for me.

I can, however, show you the pattern of the two AoE showers.

liadri-phase2a

My best suggestion, which isn’t much at this point, is to use the white patch as a cue that it’s probably a safe spot to start with. Probably. I mean, there’s a 50% chance of being right regardless, eh? And dodge if it isn’t. (Have dodge food on.)

liadri-phase2n

They alternate like so. So the THEORY seems to be that you want to move in either an anti-clockwise or clockwise pattern, step by step as the AoE shower alternates too.

Which will generally help you to sorta kinda kite all of them in a circle, but doesn’t really help you on a bad orb pull. Stability only goes so far, y’know. And the clones may/will get in the way of you ranging down Liadri too. And she’s busy getting in your face at the same time. Yeah, good luck.

I can make one further suggestion, which is to try to use the hexagonal grid as a system of landmarking where the heck you’re running. (It just occurred to me watching people and thinking.)

cage-zoning

There’s the center hexagon in red. There’s the inner hexagon ring in blue. The ranger I was watching was doing a fairly good job kiting in the outer hexagon ring in green.

The furthest unmarked ring near the cage edge is probably too far to run around in time, but hey, if you can make it work, by all means.

I personally found it easier in the blue ring, or at the boundary of the blue/green area, because slow guardian is slow. Even with retreat and save yourselves and dodge food. But the caveat is that they all get in your face because they have less distance to run too and it is very scary, very chaotic and very very hard! *rages*

If you’re better at balancing aiming one’s camera at Liadri, and aiming forward in time to get to the next safe spot, you may find phase 2 easier than me. I will cheerfully bow to a better player. (Plz lemme know ur tips for 8 orb Liadri. Thx.)

I honestly still don’t really know how I lucked into a success. Just persistence, really. Set her on fire with F1. Hit her with scepter in berserk gear. Try to immob, which gives vulnerability. Space out shouts for swiftness and condition clear (cripples, youch.) Save smite for the orb if I actually saw it spawn amidst the chaos.

Traits were generally the same as the one I used for the candidate trials, except I moved 10 from Zeal into Honor for Pure of Voice and switched out Powerful Blades since no sword. Staff and scepter/focus. I just popped in Signet Mastery to make Signet of Resolve recharge at 32 seconds, because I like emergency burst heals. Others may find the Shelter block more handy.

Radiance 30: VI – Blind Exposure, II – Signet Mastery, XI – Right Hand Strength

Honor 30: II – Superior Aria, VIII – Empowering Might, XI – Pure of Voice

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

All shouts – Retreat, Stand Your Ground, Save Yourselves.

Renewed focus is a good emergency invulnerable panic button if you’re caught in an AoE shower, but frankly, I can never get to it in time because I was too busy and confused trying to dodge already. Working on getting better.

Apologies for no first-person perspective screenshots, but I realized it was screwing up my rhythm and my toaster (and me) would probably die if I tried to FRAPS it.

Credit goes to Myrkridian, whose thief video of handling Liadri gave me the initial inspiration for continuing to plod away at her for umpteen times and eventually develop a method for handling phase 1 without needing to time dodges with pinpoint precision.

Of course, this is not the only way to attempt Liadri, but just sharing the results of literally nigh unto 100 tickets spent in repeated attempts. Because I am a slow kitten and too n00b to do it in like the first try or even a mere seventeen attempts. But hey, if I can do it with lots of persistence, you can too!

Best of luck to everyone attempting her!

GW2: Candidate Trials Redux – Berserk Guardian Edition

As mentioned in a prior post, I’d been having a good time with T2 “on farm” with the warrior, who is a hybrid mix of axe berserker and banner/horn support.

A couple days ago, I decided to use some of the “free” 400 gems from the achievement chest to buy a doubled support buff and dump in my support tokens. (One at a freaking time, which led to a hasty rebinding of my mouse wheel – thank you Razer profile management – to left click. Lots of left click.)

407 more clicks to go...
407 more clicks to go…

After I finished, I noted there was still 15 minutes left on the buff and decided to log off the character to save the time for the next round of support token dumping. Er, voting. Whatever.

Except that I had outsmarted myself in my miserliness since I had used the buff on my farming warrior.

Sheesh.

Well, it was way past time to upgrade spikey charr again.

I open world PvE with him a lot, in magic find gear even, and while playing with spirit weapons is fun during the actual combat portion, I couldn’t help but notice that I ended up swapping in Retreat! and Save Yourselves! in between battles simply to get from place to place at a decent clip.

Trying to fit in all the spirit weapon traits also meant I was giving up a decent amount of sword-related and survival/might buff traits too.

Plus, my original fiery dragon sword was reskinned from the cheapest exotic sword I could afford at the time of my first 80 (a mystic forged Rusttooth – yeah, power, vitality, condition damage. Hem.) The focus had equally scatter shot stats and cheap sigils.

And I may have been more than a little drunk when I put four major sigils of divinity on my berserker armor as an experimental stopgap for more expensive superior sigils of divinity. In the cold hard light of relooking at a past decision and numerically adding stuff up, I was getting +20 to all stats, which is a mere blip to performance, most likely, barely noticeable.

Definitely way past time to upgrade.

Ruby orbs went on all six slots of the berserker armor. Berserker trinkets. Used badges of honor to buy new berserker weapons – sword/focus, scepter/shield.

The biggest expenditure, as usual, was the superior sigil of fire and superior sigil of bloodlust on the sword and focus respectively. I’ve gotten fond of the fire sigil after enjoying it on the warrior, but I believe it is possible to do without. It just makes farming mass numbers of mobs a little easier. The bloodlust sigil should be a priority to anyone wanting to solo this with high damage though. 250 power makes quite a difference.

I went cheaper on the ranged weapon, superior sigil of air on the scepter and superior sigil of accuracy for the shield to increase overall crit chance.

New traits:

zerkguardian

Zeal 10: II – Fiery Wrath

Radiance 30: VI – Blind Exposure, X – Powerful Blades, XI – Right Hand Strength

Honor 20: II – Superior Aria, VIII – Empowering Might

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

Now, I do not claim that this is a good build for WvW, dungeons, or indeed anything group at all. With some 13k hp, you’ll probably fall over whenever something big sneezes that you failed to notice.

What this does do, is output a surprisingly good amount of damage when soloing, while having a decent amount of active defence tools for surviving long enough to burst stuff down. Spamming F1 is bread and butter. It sets stuff on fire (see all the increased damage done to stuff on fire and affected by conditions), makes them vulnerable and blinds them. You have two more blinds in sword 2 and focus 4 to be timed well. Focus 5 is an emergency 3 hit block.

Standard slot skills are Signet of Resolve for a condition clear and a big burst emergency heal. Hold the Line and Save Yourselves to keep layering protection and regeneration, F3 Virtue of Courage may also help protection-wise. Retreat for placing on aegis (see unscathed contender) and for swiftness when traveling, moving, kiting. In cases of major emergency, fire off F2 and F3 and renewed focus then fire virtues once more, but you’re probably in trouble by that point.

This performs on par with my warrior in T2 – which is admittedly not as berserk as pure berserker warriors – but really, 60 odd kills is fine for farming.

Over-achieving...
Over-achieving…

I switch Retreat for Smite Condition, which helps to deal a bit more damage and deal with the very minor conditions the Aetherblades apply at Tier 2 of the candidate trials. To address the speed issue, I use Bowl of Sage and Asparagus Salad, which has a 50% chance to give swiftness on kill and supposedly more damage when moving. If you’re feeling richer than me, you could use the seaweed salad version, but I think it’s overkill.

You could also use plenty of other food, like stuff that gives more power or might on kill, or lifesteal on crit, but I like being swift and maneuverable for this horde mode affair.

The recommendation is also to use Potent or Powerful Potions of Outlaw Slaying for a little extra oomph. (I’m not 100% positive that the Aetherblade faction classifies as bandits or outlaws, but it can’t hurt.)

T2 tactics are pretty much kill everything that appears as fast as possible. Punch F1 whenever, let sword autoattack for 2k+ damage each swing, only use sword 3 for a burst/projectile absorb when you know stuff will stand still. You have the option of chasing down plunderers with a swiftness-boosted sword, or quickly switching to scepter and immobilize/smite and autoattack, which will also pound it for 2k-ish damage a hit and kill it relatively fast.

Things to watch out for:

Aetherblade Strikers – can deal a lot of damage with their lightning channel, has a shield that will daze you if you hit it while the shield is up

What not to do. Ideally, wait for icon to flash off first.
What not to do. Ideally, wait for icon to flash off first.

You do not want to be dazed. It cuts your dps. Wait for the shield to drop, then attack. Hit something else while you’re waiting. But do not forget them or they’ll give you a bad time as the spawn keeps adding up. Prioritize them about the same as plunderers, to be dropped very quickly.

Aetherblade Thumpers – mace wielders, with a highly annoying protective shield that acts like a renewed focus invulnerable.

Getting a taste of one's own medicine. Grrr.
Getting a taste of one’s own medicine. Grrr.

Same thing. Attacking them when their shield is up is a waste of dps that can be spent downing a grenadier in the same few swings. They also seem to be a touch sturdier than the other mobs. They are melee, so they can be kited and ignored till the field is clear of more important targets.

Aetherblade Thugs – highly annoying immobilize from range, hammer knockdown in melee

circlethugs

These guys will screw you up by setting you up as an unmoving target for other mobs to beat on, and tangle you up when trying to get at a plunderer. Smite condition (or focus 4 or flashing blade teleport if desperate) to deal with the immobilize. Circle strafing in melee (ie. run around it in a tight circle while still in range to hit it with your sword) will generally put you out of range of their very slow to windup hammer knockdown attack, while still taking them down.

Red mortar circle – DODGE. RUN AWAY. DON’T STAY IN THERE. ROCKETS INCOMING. In berserk gear especially, you do not want to tank a single mortar shell.

redcirclebad

You can supposedly reflect the mortars as they are projectiles, but I’ve found it easier to just get out of the circle and either continue hitting the mobs around the vicinity, or ambling over to pound the grenadier’s head in. Taking out the operator should shut off the mortar unless something bugs.

Swashbucklers bleed and grenadiers have grenades that chill and apply vulnerability and such depending on the tier. They die fairly easily so you want to be targeting them with extreme prejudice to keep the spawn sizes manageable anyway.

How about T4 though?

The new post-patch T4 was stumping me for a bit, but the two day break from anything achievement-obsessed seems to have done wonders for my gameplay.

I would first of all watch Liefbread’s video of a solo T4 with a berserker thief.

When you are done gnashing your teeth with jealousy over two-hit plunderer kills, a 1200 range pull to yank plunderers further away from aggro zones, and an on-call long duration stealth to break aggro if accidents happen, you can rejoin me in pondering how to get a guardian T4 capable.

The goal, if you will notice in the video, is to kill the plunderers very quickly and very near to their spawn points so that the other veteran mobs react as little as possible. If you kill them fast enough so that their treasure-tossing animation doesn’t complete, the treasure counter does not go down. Break aggro the moment the vets do take notice of you.

The good news is that with the above berserk build, a scepter guardian can take down plunderers solo pretty quickly also, just maybe 1-3 seconds longer than the thief does. (You may want to do a T2 to build 25 stacks of bloodlust first too.)

The bad news is that a guardian has no pull except binding blade (and it’s only 600 range and it’s AoE, yanking a vet with a plunderer would become fairly ugly in short order.)

This means your window of opportunity for killing plunderers is quite a bit smaller, and you risk aggroing stuff a lot more easily than the thief.

While lamenting the lack of anything trap-related (like I saw a ranger and a necro do with their traps/marks) and scrutinizing my skills, this little beauty suddenly came into focus for me. Shrapnel Mine. It can be laid on in advance, it cripples and even does a bit of bleed to help out.

Sure enough, using this got me past post-patch T4.

This is almost as far forward as you want to get. (Maybe a bit more to the right and forward to hit the right plunderer when needed.)
This is almost as far forward as you want to get. (Maybe a bit more to the right and forward to hit the right plunderer when needed.) You will get aggro from anything in the middle, run to the back, behind the rock, to break this.

The idea of the trap is that it trains you to anticipate each plunderer spawn. 5 will spawn from the left side first. The first plunderer on the right side shows up at around 5 minutes 30 seconds. As each plunderer spawns, they trigger the trap and that’s your cue to immobilize them, then smash down smite and autoattack them to death. Don’t bother with shield skills or anything, just let scepter machine gun them down before they can finish their animation.

Later, once you start missing the plunderer spawn because it gets so hectic, the mine can also be used to slow down the laden plunderer’s approach to its spawn point – just make sure you get the correct spawn point. A bit of memory work here, they will return to the same point they spawned from.

You may have to let the right-most plunderer go a couple of times. It’s easier to intercept both the left and middle plunderers without aggroing all and sundry.

This is about the range you want to be for the rightmost plunderer. You will aggro anything in the middle, so break aggro whenever possible to let vets wander to the end first.
This is about the range you want to be for the rightmost plunderer. You will aggro anything in the middle, so break aggro whenever possible to let vets wander to the end first.

To get the right plunderer when things are not so chaotic, approach from the middle and only go close enough to immob the plunderer on the spawn point, just a little before the exact place where it will start treasure tossing. This minimizes the aggro risk.

When you aggro, and you will, kill the plunderer if you can in a few seconds without dying, let it go if you can’t, then drop everything and run behind the rock and a bit further if you need to.

Break aggro behind rock. Retreat further back to the south tip of the land if they chase. If you didn't hit them by accident, they shouldn't.
Break aggro behind rock. Retreat further back to the south tip of the land if they chase. If you didn’t hit them by accident, they shouldn’t.

This is when I usually fire Save Yourselves for extra swiftness to break aggro and some protection/regeneration to survive. Since we’re not aiming to actually kill much of anything in T4, switching Smite Condition for Contemplation of Purity may also help to convert the thick layer of conditions that arrive once you attract aggro and keep you alive long enough to run away.

Oh, come on, you scream. Does this mean that only Charr guardians get to manage this?

The real issue, I note, is preventing those sneaky plunderers from dashing off into the big morass of veterans where you dare not attack them, and also preventing them from reaching the point where they throw the treasure for long enough to do damage to them.

One scepter immobilize only goes so far. But I suddenly noticed that a guardian DOES have a second utility immobilize in Signet of Wrath – no weapons need be switched, you want the constant range autoattack damage as your bread-and-butter plunderer killer. It has a slight activation time to get used to, but it’s a handy 3s of immobilize that comes in handy when you’ve already used scepter 3 and when things are hectic with 2 or 3 plunderers in play.

With some patience and practice juggling plunderer spawns and killing them fast enough that they can’t toss their treasure, you too, can manage T4 post-patch.

The double immobilize version.
The double immobilize version.

How about T3?

Well, T3 is sort of a mix of T2 and T4.

You can generally start like T2 and kill stuff in the center. With the amount of damage you output, you can take down a Veteran Grenadier in fairly short order. Things get dicey once the mortar starts firing and the lone Veteran shows up. That Veteran with a gun is a major bane of my existence. It confuses. I hate confuse. Don’t we all? Do anything, including try to remove a condition, and you get hit for ugly amounts of damage.

vetcharging

It is safest to address this one from long range. It actually has a long telegraphed animation where it will pause and charge up its gun. Then it fires a projectile that does the confusing. You could maybe experiment with reflects or projectile absorbs. Or you could try to dodge – count off 2-3 seconds then dodge. I haven’t got the timing quite down pat, but it -is- dodgable and prevents the annoying confuse.

vetdodge

The problem tends to be that it always shows up at the same time as the mortars and a bunch of other spawns so a lot of things are wrestling for your attention and stuff can go wrong in fairly short order. Once you start to lose control of all the spawns, it’s time to break aggro and do like T4 for the remaining time.

I still fail this one with some regularity, mostly because taking risks to defeat more mobs means that plunderers get to sneak by unnoticed and nasty stuff shoots you in the back. But it’s doable.

Zero Aetherblade weapons and counting, by the way.

GW2: Asura Guardian Style

For lack of anything better to write about before the oncoming patch which we are anticipating with equal parts glee and trepidation – will my favorite spirit weapons ever attain more usefulness than being relegated to a PvE anything goes farming build? How badly are glamour mesmers hit by the confusion change and will those damnable mistform elementalists actually fall over and die for once? What other surprise are in store for us, etc…

… I thought I’d show off some of my lil asura’s heavy armor fashions.

Bear in mind, I like to dress up on a budget, and certainly cannot afford all Tier 3 cultural armor right now:

Me in my early days, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy's armor. Decided he'd turn around and kill me instead.
Me in my early days, in the standard crafted exotic armor, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy’s armor. Reached the conclusion he’d turn around and kill me instead and snuck away. (Picture courtesy of rich PiNK guy.)

Well, if you’re rich, abyss and celestial goes with anything and anything bright colored looks nice on the glowy parts of T3 asura armor.

For the rest of us, there’s still ways to look fancy and unique. I’ve seen a gladiator-sparta style gold/red asura running around, and a Marvin the Martian-colored one too. Alas, I forgot screenshots so you can imagine them instead.

This is actually my third set of armor. I was experimenting with different stat combinations and by the time I got around to the standard PTV gear, it was easier to just pick up the Orr Karma temple armor and be done with it.

winterkarma1
I like to think that it matches my chicken.

I had gotten tired of transmuting by this point (I only have a limited number of those crystals from map exploration, y’know) and decided to stick with the look, but try something different with the dyes. I also wanted something light colored to easily differentiate for myself which armor I was wearing when, as my other two sets are darker colored.

winterkarma2

winterkarmapalette

The brightest and most expensive dye in here is Winter Ice, which sets one back half a gold or thereabouts. I just happened to have it, so I used it for the skulls and the highlights.

Sea Ice is the main color, a very white-ish green that gives a tinge of sickly Orr, which feels rather appropriate for stuff that comes from Orr.

The last color is Blue Shade, which again I happened to have, and fits the ‘cool’ palette versus a more warm color. But I bet any dark chainmail-y color would be fine as a contrast too.

The one thing that’ll really set you back in terms of Asuran armor is if you’re a stickler for clipping. I gave up with helms because I like my asura’s ears and face showing. And ears sticking out of helmets with no visible holes is a big no for me. You could pick up a cultural helm, I guess, but they all look kinda daft to me except maybe T3, and that’s a 20 gold bomb right there. So much easier to hide helm and show off the snotty face I worked so hard on.

There’s one thing that pisses me off about the above armor set. My toes. They stick out. These shoes are not meant for asura feet. If they didn’t have spikes on and complement the rest of the set, I’d throw them out. But as of now, I just close an eye because I bought better stuff for the other two sets and I’m broke.

Here’s set number 2. The realistic dark-themed blue and grey gold-ish but dark and shadowy style.

invader1

invader2
It matches the day time Ascalonian Catacombs hammer surprisingly well.

It started out as an entire WvW invader armor set, because I’m, you know, broke, and spend all my days in WvW (which explains the lack of monies part) and looked very decent if basic when colored appropriately. I was especially fond of the shoulder and armguards.

But I had cultural T2 chest and leggings left over from my first vanity dress up set, and those toes sticking out of my boots pissed me off, so I bought the booties as well.

The coat sets you back 2 gold, but I think it’s worth it as it gives a bulkier power-armored look to the asura. The leggings may or may not be necessary, 1.5 gold. The 80 silver boots that actually fit my toes are pretty worth it too, imo, but you could probably do without if you don’t look at your asura’s feet much.

For sure, no one else will, they don’t even see most of an asura anyway, it’s you that will be looking at yourself most often. 🙂

invaderpalette
Colors: Tarnished Steel, Blue Shade and Burnished Steel. Super cheap dyes, but if you ask me, super sexy color complement too.

Now vanity set 3, or to be truthful, the first set I put together because I wanted to splurge a bit and look cool, while still on a “modest” budget.

darkangels1

The main goal here is the glow. And if you look really carefully, the main bang of the T3 cultural armor glow is from the shoulders and boots. Sure, every piece glows and adds to the effect, but I’m not -that- fucking rich. The protruding glowy bits are from the shoulder and boots. The boots, thankfully, are “only” 12 gold, but the very sexy shoulders will set you back 20 gold. (Ouch.)

It broke half my bank at the time, but it was worth it.

I cheat here and add the heavenly bracers from the GW1 Hall of Monuments rewards, because it also glows quite prettily. The downside is that it does clip. (But you know, no one looks that close at asura anyway.)

darkangels2

The chest and leggings are left as the standard crafted draconic armor. This, I must warn, does cause the sheathed weapon to clip the shoulders a little at the back. But well, if your weapon is out all the time, who’s gonna notice?

I had actually considered swapping in the T2 chest and leggings at one point, which I think would also look very good in compact bulky power armored fashion, and might avoid the clipping issue (not tested though, the T3 chest probably takes into account T3 shoulders, but egads, it’s 30 gold.)

Eventually, I decided I liked the slimness of the chest as contrasted with the bulky attachments, and the winged skirt/kilt/robe of the leggings grew on me. You see, I am a big Warhammer 40k fan, and the T3 asura armor looks a heckuva lot like very sexy space marines power armor for tiny people.

And while you probably could use any decent color complement on such sexy armor and have it look good, I decided to recreate a Dark Angels theme and color scheme, just to see if I could. Mainly dark green, cream/bone, robes, winged/angel stuff, red accents.

You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.
You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.

The main color is Emerald, which will set you back 28-30 silver or so, but it’s the best dark green I can find right now. The secondary cream color is Frosting.

Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.
Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.

The silver chainmail part is Frost, and I used a lighter Evergreen as the last chest color merely because I’d bought a bunch of cheap green dyes to find the best. You could make it Emerald with very little difference, but the Evergreen just makes it a little brighter.

The fun bit is the glow can be any damn color you want. I went for blue after a while, because guardian, y’know, and my other guardian is all red and fiery anyway, so it’s Sky dye because if you’ve spent this much on vanity anyway…

(The red was Salmon on the heavenly bracers to make it flamey and either Melon or Cantaloupe on shoulder/boots to match the red orange-tinted bracers. I haven’t been arsed to explore the red spectrum long enough to find an exact match for the golem, but it’s probably possible.)

And when I’m bored, I get to change colors like a Christmas tree.

orange
Random orange, probably Citrus.
Because I now have too many greens. This is Sprout, but Wasabi's a good light green too.
Because I now have too many green dyes. This is Sprout, but Wasabi’s a good light green too.
When in doubt, glow white. Winter Ice pulling double duty here.
When in doubt, glow white. (Or white blue.) Winter Ice pulling double duty here.