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.


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.


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.

We Interrupt This Program… Due to Technical Issues…

Surprising as it may seem, this round of blog silence isn’t exactly due to it being Slacktember after Blaugust (well, maybe, just a little) but mostly due to a sudden and urgent need to diagnose an intermittently disconnecting Internet connection.

For the last couple of days, the connection has taken it upon itself to cheerfully break for the space of 1-2 seconds, before reconnecting, at frequent yet irregular intervals ranging from pretty durned often in the space of a half-hour to once every hour or two.

In essence, it appears artfully calculated to drive me up the wall as it’ll give me problems when playing games and then promptly vanish (but not entirely) while trying to troubleshoot and nail down the culprit.

Needless to say, the past week’s GW2 game time has been less than satisfactory since disconnecting for two seconds is long enough to break the client’s connection and cause me to fall off maps – including organised Triple Trouble and Teq maps -, not to mention somewhat aggravating to dc from a fractal run and then relog and zone back in dead and be forced to beg your party to get out of combat for a sec so that you can respawn and rejoin them.

Ditto Trove, because it’s really annoying to lag with awful ping prior to a dc while mid-fight with a boss and realize that the boss is going to sucker punch you into next Tuesday while your latency is in the 1000ms-3000ms range (that extra digit is not a typo, mind you) or be midway through a challenge and dc right off the map, knowing you’ll log back in and the group doing the challenge is miles away and/or you’ve lost enough time reconnecting to make the challenge impossible to complete before the time limit is up.

So the past few days have been filled with a series of swapping between the Intel and Killer NIC ethernet adapters on my computer, deinstalling and updating drivers, deactivating antiviruses with real-time protection, going into safe mode with networking and physically changing various LAN cables in a colossal attempt to determine the root cause of the intermittent disconnections.

Fortunately, before I got to the stage of trying to unroll meters-long ethernet cable to directly connect my computer to the cable modem, I ended back down a previously researched avenue of overheating routers causing intermittent internet.

This has been a point of contention between me and another family member; said family member maintaining that the router’s position in the house is perfectly fine and that it is at a perfectly acceptable temperature, while I lightly touch the top of the router and point out that the surface feels just a bit shy of a boiled kettle of water that has cooled down sufficiently to touch, but not sufficiently that the water inside can be considered “lukewarm” yet.

Since the poor abused router has already been moved out of a shoe closet some time ago (after one of those little familial wars regarding optimal router temperatures conflicting with aesthetics), there are, unfortunately, limitations to where it can be moved. (Basically, it’s not.)

Its current home is in one corner of a room that is only intermittently air-conditioned (depending on if a family member is inside or no.)

Now, if you consider that our ambient air temperature in this tropical country can reach up to 33°C, as opposed to that of a temperate country usual temperature ranges when it’s not in the middle of summer, and that the router is essentially sitting in a pocket of still air in the corner of the room, and that it has to deal with a network where every family member has a desktop or laptop PC, a cell phone that connects wirelessly and several tablet devices, a smart TV and a small, personal NAS, well…

It’s unfortunate that I lack an easy way to objectively measure the temperature of whatever is going on inside the router. Nothing like evidence to solidly win a family argument, eh? Ha.

Short of starting a screaming match by absconding with a fan that is not “supposed” to be placed in an unsightly position, aka aimed directly at the router, I hit upon making off with a less used device – a bargain-priced laptop cooler belonging to another family member less likely to make a fuss, and sliding that under the router.

It’s not the best cooler out there, I’m sure, but at least it’s actively cooled and has a fan that can (sort of) move a little air around.

After a day, I note that the router is noticeably cooler, having dropped to a temperature that can now be considered “lukewarm” by touch.

Best of all, since doing that, I haven’t had a single dropped connection (*touch wood*) and only one heart-stopping incident of horrible ping during a GW2 Mordrem invasion event… which amazingly managed to hold the connection through about five seconds of lag, something that would have previously been impossible, I’m sure.

Hopefully, my guess as to the source of the problem was the right guess, and this state of affairs continues…  (Note to self: Buy a better laptop cooler, if so.)

As for the Mordrem invasion in GW2, the current hooha around rewards strikes me as a little bit of an overreaction to an event that seems cobbled together for just a little fun with veterans and newbies…

…but then I have to admit that my judgment is a little colored by actually receiving a reward the first time (aka not bugged) and then opening the Scarlet’s box/bag/thing to receive an Enameled Jungle dye – which I unfortunately wasn’t daring enough to sell for 64 gold at the time. Ah well. (I used it, after logging in the next day and seeing prices had fallen to 30 odd gold.)

…plus not actually needing any of the higher priced rewards/skins, that would require an insane amount of bloom grinding. (Minis? Check. Toxic skins? Already bought with gems. Scarlet skins? Bought with gems. Thoughtless potions and what not? Already taking up room in my inventory from the last time around.)

I intend to attend an event or two a day over this weekend and be fine with whatever I get from that.

Personally, I suspect that the costs are meant to be high enough to not devalue the rewards – because, you know, some of those skins were worth $5 USD when I bought them the first go around… while I have no issues with letting other people enjoy them after I’ve already had the opportunity to use them, and applaud them also being alternatively available through in-game earning, I would feel a little bit of cost/effort disparity if people could just attend one invasion and then voila, buy up all the skins just like that.

Possibly, some of the stress is from it being such a time-limited event.

I’d personally have no issues if the event just continued on to October 23, and then people who wanted all the stuff could slowly and steadily earn them until the expansion launched. (Bonus: cheaper dyes and minis, yay!)

Well, whatever, we’ll see whatever Anet adjusts next and go with that.

Such is the advantage of having all the stuff I want already. *phew*

Blaugust Day 31: What Next?

And so we reach the end of August, after attempting 31 posts in 31 days.

We sort of cheated a little at the end, but well, producing walls of text has never really been a problem of mine.

(Producing wall of texts someone else might want to read, now, that’s a little trickier.)

Finding the time to sit down and devote an hour or two to  production of said wall of text, plus a picture or two, that’s harder.

I’d call the Blaugust challenge a success, as it managed to kickstart my blogging habit after a lazy July, and produced a number of blogs that I’ll be keeping track of, even after the month ends.

It’s been a pleasure jumping onto the madness train with a whole bunch of the blogging community.

To-do list wise, we got through about half of the items, and most of the important ones, which I’m quite happy about.

Trove has found itself a handy niche for the moment. I’m quite content to log on daily, fill the star bar for cubits, catch a challenge if I happen to be online for it.

The Tomb Raiser is level 32 or thereabouts. He can juuust about solo U5 dungeons if I’m willing to fight a little harder (ie. wait for energy to recharge and keep holding down the spam AoE button, rinse and repeat 4-5 times.) If I’m feeling lazy, then I’ll stroll through something a little easier in difficulty.

The remaining Trove goals are rather medium-term in nature. I’m working on a Sky Portal, solo, which means accumulating a fairly insane amount of resources that would be much easier to get if I had.. say, 5 or 10 members contributing a portion of the resources each. It mostly means I collect a little each day, stuff it in the bank and try to do more on the bonus days, and basically wait until the magic number is reached.

There’s always fishing for more ancient scales. Which usually means it’s TV show watching time in the other screen first, and fishing second.

Leveling up the Tomb Raiser’s gear any further would mean requiring a lot more flux currency than I can easily get my hands on, which usually means just wait for the hourly challenges and do those for some flux. Very.. time-limited. Working on it, but not in any hurry.

And there’s faffing about on other alts trying to level them up to 20, if I get bored of the above.

I still haven’t quite resolved where I stand on Guild Wars 2 at the moment.

Readers may have noticed that I haven’t bothered to make any mention of the front-page news announcement that GW2 is now… erm, what’s the correct phrase… “play for free” or whatever.

To me, it’s a total non-issue.

It’s too late complaining about the quality of the community. GW2 was going for 10 bucks for a long period, and I’ve noticed mapchat take a turn for the less-polite or patient, in comparison with the quality of the launch day chats.

Basically, politeness is a victim of popular success. The more popular GW2 becomes, the more people jump into the game, the higher proportion of people you will find that have been accustomed to certain speech patterns in WoW or LoL or other similar games and will act in a similar fashion in GW2, having never been fully immersed into the culture yet.

Add on a good dose of veteran impatience and the tendency of people to ape common frames of thought and a certain meta/elitist segregation that seems to have been occurring dungeon-wise (I watched with some bemusement today as someone gave a ranger a lame excuse for a fractals 10 and kicked him from the party – ranger had 3k AP, not exactly a noob – I did not join the vote kick, but I said nothing either, because I just wanted the damn daily done and didn’t want to get kicked before or during the event), and you will find some deterioration of friendliness, free or no free.

I see a great deal of players being all welcoming and social on Reddit, and I presume, in the game as well. Which is great for both them and the newbies – they get “new content” in the sense of having new people to play with / teach / help, and the newbies get that helping hand as well, and may both purchase the game and stick with it.

Which works for me, I’m not really “mentor” material most of the time, being all grouchy hermit and stuff, but hey, increasing game population means increase in all types of players and hopefully, increased participation in all the game modes I enjoy.

On a more personal level, I spent most of the day trying to work out what I was feeling and thinking about the whole “raids” bruhaha.

One thing I do know is that I’m getting increasingly tired of essentially being a martyr on someone else’s behalf, especially when they don’t seem to appreciate it anyway. Of being told I’m making much ado about nothing.

In other words, here I am, trying to be concerned about the really casual GW2 players who almost never see things like organized WvW or organized Teq or organized Triple Trouble or even organized guild missions, and keep obsessing about keeping barriers of entry low and for them to be on a relatively equal playing field so that they -can- join in, when they want to, and I generally find that most of the bloggers who profess this way of playing just seem to have “accepted” that they’ll never do it, period, so the whole activity just doesn’t exist for them, full stop.

It makes me just a little bit mad, this attitude of what-seems-to-me to be “learned helplessness.” The “I could never do it, so therefore I won’t even try” sort of acceptance.

On the other hand, I find the dismissive attitude of the self-proclaimed elitists annoying as well.

It’s really tempting and easy to segregate yourself into groups of people who think like you and play like you. It seems that -both- extremes are quite happy to indulge in this separation, as shown in a little Reddit flowchart that has been making the rounds lately – “In zerk? Go hang with zerk groups. Non-zerk? Go hang with non-zerk groups. Conclusion: everybody happy.”

Supposedly. Except that I note that the non-zerk groups have a tendency to not form, or take hours to complete, be comprised of more unsure players, etc.

To quote another Redditor, I feel like I’m basically undergoing a certain amount of “cognitive dissonance” here, because… let me fess up:

I’m generally lazy. I like my groups smooth and efficient and optimal. I like getting what I’m aiming for, when I group up, fast and painless. Unless it’s the weekend and I’m in a really good benevolent mood, I don’t have time to spend 3 hours teaching a bunch of people I’ll probably never see again how not to suck, in order for me to get what I want.

Given very little push, I am quite happy to fall back into old obsessive hardcore patterns and think elitist thoughts. With the right motivation, I’ll do whatever is needed to fall within the 10% who can do whatever it is I want to do, and who gives a fuck about the 90% who can’t, right? It’s not like most of them even -want- to. If they’re not even willing to help themselves, why should -I- care?

(You will note, all the “them” speech. Segregation. Division. Not community.)

Then I stop and I wonder if I should really let myself go down that road of thought. I’m not sure if I’d like the person that comes out the other end.

I suppose there is a certain amount of real world correlation and history at work. Singapore’s education system has always been “meritocracy”-based – which, during the time I grew up – mostly meant doing well at academic grades at an early age. If you scored top marks, you got shoved into the through-trains, labeled with really positive labels, and woe betide those that didn’t. They got the opposite treatment, pretty much.

It hasn’t been till the last decade or two that the very slow oil tanker has been steering in other directions, realizing that “merit” could be defined very differently (including musical, artistic and athletic merit, besides academic) and doing their best to recognize those with different strengths, as well as giving those who didn’t do well academically other possible and potential pathways to progress their education and careers (giving them the opportunity to possibly even overtake the supposed ‘elite’ once in the working world.)

The other thing the education system has been slowly attempting to do, through thick layers of bureaucracy, is to tweak policy for those who have somehow “fallen through the cracks” and don’t quite fit into neatly labeled categories.

The latest governmental propaganda is basically an exhortation to keep social consciousness in view, to have a heart, and contribute to the community, “No Singaporean left behind,” and so on.

I’m basically caught between being a pragmatic bastard and an ideal of someone better than that.

And I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go.

Is it at all possible to be an egalitarian hardcore raider?

Or do elitist thoughts and segregation away from the hoi polloi come as part of the territory?

(I’ll be frank, I won’t do a PUG Teq, when a TTS Teq is so much more enjoyable and efficient and equally available.

And there was a time when I just couldn’t be bothered rezzing anyone in the Silverwastes because they jolly well ought to waypoint back instead of just laying there dead and expecting someone to risk dying to peel them off the floor… especially when they die again in the next ten seconds that follow.

I’m feeling a bit more bleeding heart after a month away from GW2 and go for a rez, though it’s mostly to test myself and build quick reactions for future “challenging group content” than harboring any actual concern for the person or any expectation that the person will stay upright. Elitist? Probably.)

If I keep playing GW2, I will mostly likely do my best to get into and stay in a successful, regular, organized raid team.

(Unless it so happens that timezones and schedules are really restrictive and there’s no way I can wrangle something that fits.)

There’s no way I can ignore a mountain that is plonked down in front of me.

Not sure it’s worth it, really. But beyond the temptation of Legendary armor, there will be the basic fact that it is content I haven’t seen or played, and therefore must attempt until it is conquered (or I fall screaming off the mountain.)

I have no idea what’s going to come out at the other end. Burnout, drama, frustration, or just a bad case of elitist prick-ism?

Well. *deep breath* I guess we’ll find out.