GW2: Path of Fire Weekend Demo

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Crystal Desert, ahoy!

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Reddit is in love with the raptor mount’s animations – the sheer attention to detail is amazing.

Riding one of these feels very vehicle-like or ship-like, no quick side-strafing but more steering like a speedboat… that can leap long distances.

I created a warrior for the weekend demo.

This time around, Marauder stats were provided (similar to Berserker with less Power/Precision/Ferocity bang, but more Vitality), which I thought was a nice compromise for experienced players who can’t live without the damage potential they are used to, but had extra health pool for the new players.

I’m not sure what necromancers started out with, but both UltrViolet from Endgame Viable and Aywren reported some difficulty with the introductory instance that showed players arriving to the Crystal Desert and learning how to use mounts.

Part of it might be a problem with the preset traits and skills. The warrior started with a greatsword and rifle, which happens to suit my open world playstyle fine (direct damage, one melee and one range option) but I took one look at the traits and couldn’t quite make head or tail out of it.

I suspect they built it more defensively for new preview weekend players. “Kick” was on my skill bar, among other things. Ok, breakbar hint, I suppose, but I am totally not used to using the warrior physical skills. Especially after they changed it in the new patch and gave it an ammo mechanic in the hope of making it more popular/viable a choice, but new mechanic = something not even vets are familiar with using right now.

You can picture me poking at it quizzically with this sort of expression on my face.

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So I took some time at the start to flip things to the more standard PS berserker build I was used to, minus the banners for group support, plus Wild Blow utility and Head Butt elite skill for breakbar (I’ll take the hint).

Also, since experience versus Balthazar mobs in Siren’s Landing has taught me that Anet is very very fond of quick stacking burns as a theme on his faction (recipe for immediate “Ow!” and falling over downed), a condi cleanse might be super helpful. Shake It Off went on the utility skill bar.

Lastly, finishing off the open world utility trifecta besides a breakbar skill and a condi cleanse, a stun-break. Warriors have a number of options, I just like Balanced Stance because it gives swiftness for running around, stability if used pre-emptively, and breaks stun if used reactively.

With that, the story instance felt fine, though I did feel like I was hitting with… if not quite a wet noodle, at least a wooden sword. See, the downgrade was that the demo stats were all exotics – armor, weapons, trinkets – along with Marauder slightly diluting the max damage of Berserker stats possible.

On the bright side, I used no food, no utilities and completed it just fine on exotics, so it is doable – and I presume they tested with all exotic gear, if this is their preset demo gear.

The big issue, imo, is mostly that folks not used to GW2 combat are not used to two things:

  1. Moving while pressing skills, and knowing what the skills are so that they can be chained smoothly
  2. Reading the itty bitty tiny buff icons on the mob’s status bars and general mob combat animations and indicators that have become second nature to people who play GW2 more often

Running out of orange circles by being pre-emptively mobile and ready to sidestep is a trained reaction by now for most of us, while a new player probably doesn’t even -see- the orange circle against the beige sand of a desert setting, let alone react in time.

Reading animations is another thing. Mobs have been charging at us since Mordrem mobs in Dry Top and Silverwastes. You gain an instinctive “uh oh” hunch when a mob starts pausing and looking at you funny, gathering itself up… before you know it, you’ve thrown yourself with a sideways dodge out of the way of the oncoming charge.

This is a learned reaction. Painfully acquired over time from getting charged and knocked down and around every which way to kingdom come. Not to mention, getting shot to hell by the straight ground line of Mordrem snipers.

You go from not even knowing the mob is going to come at you, to recognizing that “ok, this mob type is probably coming at me,” to trying out different mobility solutions (running sideways will probably still get you caught, just hitting the dodge button leaves you still in the oncoming path), to realizing that the best solution is to dodge sideways, to -practising- the ability to dodge sideways (holding one key down while pressing another, are your keybinds in a comfortable place to do that?) until it becomes something you can do on demand, and even subconsciously.

(And if you are a little insane, like my particular raid group, you practice synchronized group dodging aka “dodge left” to control a particular mechanic for a certain raid boss in a predictable manner.)

Bottom line is, no one starts out ABLE to do anything automatically. It was practiced and developed over time. Frustration at the stages before “can more or less do it” is completely normal.

But anyway, after the story instance completes, you’re tossed out into the first open world map of the expansion.

Boy, were they really careful with its design.

The first thing you get is a fairly big settlement, not quite racial city-sized but definitely larger than a village or outpost.

You can run around it in relatively welcoming safety, like Lion’s Arch. It introduces the special mechanics of the map – races, bounties – and has some amenities like a bank and trading post.

What’s pretty special is that in a fashion somewhat remniscent of Warhammer Online, you can actually get “public quests” *ahem* “dynamic events” within the town confines.

You can run around and collect objects with your mount and contribute to event completion. A pack of rampaging choya (planty quaggan things, but -angrier-) can attempt to stampede into town. It gives the whole city a little more life – or at least, more action.

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The real verisimilitude comes from the outside.

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This -is- a big map, compared to the rest of the GW2 zones. (And mind you, one third to one quarter of it on the right side also appears to be locked off at the moment.)

Wide open is the watchword, and IT FEELS GOOD.

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Explorer souls, rejoice.

The awe of gorgeous surroundings, the curious sensation of wondering what’s over the horizon in whichever direction yonder and just -choosing to go- there (without being hindered by sheer drops, puzzle updraft/mushrooms and Mordremoth’s clingy tendrils), and then finding something interesting to see – all that is back in the map on weekend preview.

I find myself sometimes just wanting to run on foot through the place, rather than mount up.

If you miss that sense of MMO as a WORLD, rather than as a meta map with a game objective on a timer, then I think you can get some sense of that back in Path of Fire, if the rest of the zones are similar to this one.

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World map-wise, it looks pretty promising in potential. Given the coloration of the Elonian region, we might see bits of the Brand, the sulfur deserts of old with the junundu wurms, as well as grassy oases in the Crystal Desert proper.

Even in the first map on preview, it’s not -all- beige desert, there’s some other colors too, if you know where to look.

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What I do like, that I haven’t really seen commented on:

There are some really faithful references back to Guild Wars 1, with added new combat mechanics twists.

Man, hydra farming was a thing in GW1 – which I was never very good at, but tried my hand at anyway.

And I remember they were Elementalists of much fiery rainy pain.

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Hydra says “ahai.”

Now here’s something we haven’t seen before, mob skills that use a lot more verticality.

The meteors are a little mean when first encountering them (I got smashed by the first meteor before I could react, the first few times) but after a while, you realize they’re going to do that and keep moving so that you’re not there by the time it lands.

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Their heads pop off. And they wiggle around like beheaded triple trouble wurms. That’s a little nuts. But a very nice effect.

Overall, it’s not just the mount animations that are worthy of praise in Path of Fire, it’s pretty much all the mob animations. Sand sharks dive in and out of the sand in a convincingly fluid manner, unsoweiter.

The fanged iboga, another GW1 throwback, with an arcing poison/hallucination style attack as befits its mesmer class.

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New shapes are coming. A fire wall, in all its 3D glory.

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New buffs on the mob’s buff bars to read too. It will be interesting to see if boon stealing will be more valuable a mechanic in Path of Fire.

Bounties are an interesting map activity. Basically, they are like Queen’s Gauntlet mobs. You can pick up a bounty to go and trigger them in the open world. Once “summoned,” they exist for the space of 9-10 minutes, and anyone walking by can join in the fight, dynamic event style.

They have more complex mechanics than the standard open world mobs. Apparently, they can spawn with different buff “affixes” so they may vary from bounty to bounty, and necessitate slightly different tactics to defeat.

They seem to be a good intermediate training/tutorial mechanism on GW2 combat.

For one thing, it’s not a cage fight like the Queen’s Gauntlet.  One can break off combat any time and run away far enough to get out of combat and switch skills/change traits to adapt to the encounter.

For another, multiple people can join in, help each other, teach each other, or at least in a worse case unfriendly scenario, -observe- how another person is soloing while in a downed state.

I followed a commander tag calling for help and fought a really angry giant choya on a flat mini-island in the ocean. The thing was rolling around like a rolling devil on steroids, smashing anyone that got in its way (ie. everyone -on- the floating platform of an island) and summoning up ley line energy things that spun around and did damage – essentially limiting even more of the already limited arena.

After getting downed a few times, I rolled off into the ocean to float and actually read all the mechanics on the mob’s bar. The ocean was a perfect safe zone. (It was a little tough to figure out the correct side to even jump back up into the fight.)

There were 3-4 other people there, all getting smashed to high heaven. Barely anyone was touching the break bar.

Which…seemed like the best strategy, actually, because it wasn’t going to stay still otherwise. And it was lethal once moving erratically.

So I gamely jumped back onto the platform, tried to land Wild Blow, Head Butt, and even Rifle Butt. There was one other person that also helped cc a bit. Together, we managed to knock out the break bar and stun it. Now it was a punching bag for a crucial few moments. Rinse and repeat. Bounty done.

There was another bounty out in the desert. I can’t recall what it was, but I do remember it had the Sniper affix.

What this produced was a slow-moving shiny ball that would select a random player and creep towards the player. It moves -just- a little faster than one can sidestep though. Once it hits the player, a target gets painted on the player and a ley line energy snipe of doom emerges from the bounty and does 95% of one’s health bar, if not more, and typically downs the player.

Cue an amusing sequence of everyone getting downed in turn and Benny Hill running away from the death ball.

I wanted to “solve” this mechanic, so I backed out of the combat leaving the two other players to alternate being downed and switched skills.

The first thing I thought of was to “block” the sniper hit.

I wasn’t on my guardian though, and warriors can usually only block reliably on demand with a shield… which I didn’t have on the demo character and wasn’t interested in wrangling with the gear explosion and stat selection of the demo box.

The other thing warriors have that essentially are more sophisticated “blocks” is a) endure pain (immune to all direct damage, but conditions go through) and b) defiant stance (heal for the amount of damage that hits you, within the limited three seconds or so that it is active).

So I put both of those on and went to test them out on the shiny ball of doom.

Allow shiny ball to hit me, trigger defiant stance. Boom, sniper shot heals me to full. Giggle maniacally.

Shiny ball comes looking for me again, and trigger endure pain. Boom, sniper shot does no damage. Perfect.

So now I just need to manage cooldowns so that one is always ready to go by the time the shiny ball comes to me… tricky… hmm, what about classes that don’t have the specialized skills of warriors, can they do anything? Well, anyone can dodge with an invulnerability frame… HMM…

The next time the shiny ball comes in, I cross my fingers for luck and dodge the moment it hits me. BAM, evaded, just as the sniper shot comes in.

Therrrre you go, that’s IT. That’s the solution. It’s a mini-training tutorial for dodging!

Suddenly, I am the only person staying alive consistently while the other three people also fighting the boss just keep going down when the shiny ball decides they look interesting.

I leave them to observe me for a while: a mixture of not wanting to attract the shiny ball of doom and get sniped to death while locked in a revive animation, and wondering if the other three can learn by observation and arrive at the solution.

Mind you, these were not completely new players. The lowest had a 56 mastery point level, the middle was somewhere around 143, and the last was a full 193 mastery like moi.

They downed, revived themselves, downed again.

I stayed alive, and sat at range pewpewing the bounty as a rifle warrior.

After the second time they downed in sequence, feeling a little bad that I wasn’t bothering to rez them while I was enjoying my sequence of reactive dodging or soaking the sniper shot, I tried a teaching moment.

“Dodge when the shiny ball reaches you” was all I needed to say.

The next time they revived themselves, I watched as the shiny ball hit them. And BAM, they dodged and stayed alive. Just like that. The bounty died.

These were not complete newbies. They -knew- how to dodge. What they lacked was the ability to read the mechanics and experiment with solution finding. Their first impulse was to run away from the ball, and they kept trying to do that, even when the ball caught up with them and kept downing them.

I don’t know if this problem solving propensity can be trained or encouraged, but certainly, these new mobs are a way to at least let some people inclined to strategizing have some fun, and then the best solutions will get passed around verbatim or via Dulfy guide until everyone just knows “the strategy” for the encounter.

It’s a nice intermediate step from normal open world mobs anyway, but less punishing than that in Heart of Thorns (you don’t just die and have to waypoint run from far away, running out of combat is possible and mostly the punishment is getting downed).

My only fear is that this might break in larger numbers and groups of players. If they can be zerged down like guild bounties, then it’s possible that some players will just go ahead and do that and learn close to absolutely nothing (but maybe some osmosis will still happen in the company of others.)

Still, the weekend preview map feels surprisingly empty. Either the maps are deliberately being kept at a very low population number per instance (haven’t had skill lag in here), or folks have seen what they came to see and don’t want to progress further in a demo, or exploration as an activity doesn’t actually interest the present GW2 population as a whole.

I really hope it’s not the last. There doesn’t seem to be violent opposition on Reddit to this, so hopefully, people like it. I’m personally quite happy to have more of this stuff. (Cantha is a word that comes to mind, just sayin’.)

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Nightime in this zone is fantastic. What better to end on but screenshots of this?

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The SAD Project – Day 2 – Predator Pew Pew

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You probably guessed this one was coming.

I set up a bunch of buy orders for Tier 6 materials and the remaining orrian truffles last night.

When I next logged back in, everything was ready for the grand assemblage. Aka, clicking and dragging lots of materials out of hoarded storage, visiting some NPCs to buy one item or another with one currency or another, mystic forging some things and crafting some others with the correct alt that had 500 leatherworking or 500 huntsman.

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That’s one shiny item icon.

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I took it out for a spin.

Immediately, I was like, “Why has this NEVER come to my attention before?” “Why hasn’t anyone blown whistles and banged drums and made a immense furor to this world about this sweet sweet gun?”

You know what’s most striking about it?

Its SOUND.

(Disclaimer: Not my video. Pretty much the only one on Youtube that lets the rifle speak for itself without loads of commentary. And it’s amazing how many are dated from 2013-2015, with very few Predator videos after.)

It has a reverberating laser pew pew sound that at first seems a bit at odds with the looks of the sniper rifle, but sounds immensely epic in scope and befitting that of an item with legendary status.

The second awesome thing is the fiery projectile that comes out of the rifle. Besides looking awesome, it also lights mobs you shoot on fire, and they die with the special flaming death animation that the fiery dragon sword skin also produces.

In a way, it’s good that I didn’t realize this until -after- I made the legendary.

Because I’m not sure I would have been able to wait as long as I did, and would have spent a lot more money/effort chasing it.

All’s well that ends well. Everything got prioritized nicely, I’m now the happy owner of Rodgort, Kraitkin, a set of legendary heavy armor, and the Predator, and I feel like the tension of the last year or so with immensely long term goals hanging over my head has wound its way to a close.

I feel like I can close the book at the end of this GW2 chapter, so to speak, and just dabble or putter around with much shorter term goals that were being put off (e.g. various Living Story chievos, try to get into fractals -again-) and/or wander off to other games.

Sometime in the future, I intend to idly creep my way towards stuff like Astralaria, Chuka and Champawat, a set of legendary light armor and so on, but that is a long way off, so no need for any concrete plans as yet.

Plans are for the end stages, to kickstart myself into actually doing things (like put W, X, Y  and Z into the mystic forge and click buttons, which I’d otherwise put off).

For now, I’m happy to have no more long term plans or ambitions.

The Memoir of Obscure Wanderings

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n. the feeling of being swamped by countless innumerable little things to get done and valiantly treading water just to stay in one place… only to look up and realize that you no longer recognize where you are… a shrouded foggy gloom of sombre silhouettes stands in the stead of where you thought you were… and the only thought in your mind is that you are now irrevocably lost.

That was me four weeks ago.

And the above is my little copycat nod to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a fun little word blog I discovered via a TED talk about made up words to describe inarticulable emotions, feelings for which simple English words like happy or sad or bored or angry just don’t encompass the entirety of the experience.

See, I wasn’t -unhappy-, I was just busy.

Busy getting necessary things done, at work, in real life, attending raids, getting the odd Pokemon caught and Pokestops spun here and there, not quite following the weekly priority wishlist of things I’d quite like to get done, but most definitely getting other equally pressing matters done…

… and before you know it, the week’s over and it’s time for a new week.

Eh, maybe it’s a bad week. We have all those at some point or another. Can’t expect every week of the year to be productive, right?

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The next week Path of Exile Legacy League launches. It’s a welcome distraction.

I jump straight into the new SSF (solo self-found) legacy softcore league, just to make things official and mostly to add to Grinding Gear Games’ stats, since I’d still be not talking or trading with anybody either way.

I’d previously been idly testing a life leeching axe duelist pre-Legacy League, wondering if I dared to make my own build and see how far it would get.

It seemed like a bad idea to try starting a league with a self-found melee self-created build though, so I went for a very safe previously-tested SSF starter, Pewpewpew’s cheap firestorm build that uses zombie meatshields. You can get away with ludicrously bad gear with this build and still function relatively well up to basic maps.

As RNG luck would have it, a +40% item rarity shield unique dropped very early on for me, and subsequently various rares all got rolled with +10% odd item rarity here and there. I went, “OK, what the heck, I guess we’re going to stack magic find instead of survival and see what happens!”

I end up collecting a stash tab full of uniques on my way to level 70, which is the point where my total disregard for any respectable resistances starts causing the occasional exploding into gory little bits by a single lightning spell hit.

Faced with the prospect of patiently re-gearing with more upgraded stuff and giving up the item rarity… and a bunch of shiny unique axes that are screaming “I would be awesome if you played a melee axe user…”

I decide it’s time to make an alt and try the experimental self-build, now armed with some shiny uniques.

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It’s a mix of sunder for long ranged rectancular AoE and lacerate for closer single-target or small AoE cone, a bit of life leech and the plan is to go for as much evasion / life as possible and stretch into acrobatics and spell dodging.

I have no idea if it will work, but the fun is in the trying.

It’s a strange little revelation that hit me in the midst of leveling this fellow, at like literally level 5.

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I was thinking, “whoa, two uniques have dropped,” “this melee cleaving is pretty fun” “I’m sure this will be really fun in the level 30-40s, though I have no idea how high I’ll reach before the build starts to not work”

and then it hit me, “So what? Killing things at level 30-40 kinda feels the same as killing things at level 60-70; cool unique stuff will still drop; you don’t trade so you have no standard of comparison as to what’s more profitable or no, everything to you is a potential cool thing that a new alt could use.”

I made it to level 82 or 83 once a long time ago with an ancestral warchief marauder, so the Atlast of Worlds and mapping is not exactly unexplored territory, beyond the bosses that are still beyond one’s knowledge and gear capacity.

So there isn’t any actual need to keep pushing ever so higher and higher. Ladder climbing is not a personal motivator. Until Legacy League ends and the ten acts of Path of Exile drop, one is essentially repeating the same scenery over and over in normal, cruel and merciless difficulty anyway.

The fun is in the random loot drops and the testing and tweaking of one’s knowledge of the game, and if I have to explode a hundred times from mistakes to do it, why not? 

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The last couple of weeks has also been tiresomely methodical on the GW2 front.

My raid group has developed an obsession with defeating Deimos on challenge mode, going for some 3 hours once or twice a week, not counting the additional normal clear day that is used to get all 13 normal mode bosses/raid encounters out of the way.

The issue with Deimos, and working as intended, is that one single person making a mistake essentially causes a raid wipe.

Since we keep going for three hours with no success, one can indeed conclude that mistakes were made.

It’s not any one person. It’s all understandable mistakes (or bad RNG with insufficiently thought out backup strategy.) People in critical roles like the tank or the flak (ie. nasty looking pink hands) kiters are under high pressure, they slip up once and bang, they die. Whoops. /GG. Restart.

Less adept people who have been carefully placed in less critical roles make the occasional mistake and slip up. Whoops, there goes the oil expanding and wrecking all in its path and the careful positioning and timing needed. /GG. Restart.

A teleport gets put on someone unexpected; people dodge reflexively in a different direction than previously agreed on; people miss a dodge; adds in later phases overwhelm players’ ability to process the encounter, causing panic which leads to a mistake…  /GG. Restart.

Well, it is challenge mode, after all.

And I believe the intent is to have some encounters that are difficult to the point of requiring a group to keep practising for days and weeks until they get the execution just perfect, collectively. Some people like that kind of thing, after all.

And I don’t actually hate it, or have a strong opinion about it. I keep showing up, after all. It is interesting, in a way, to keep rehearsing a particular part in a performance and analyze one’s mistakes and try not to keep slipping up in the same way (mea culpa: the moment I panic, I dodge early…enter flying soon-to-be-dead asura).

It is, however, tiring as fuck. Especially to do it for three hours after a long day at work with no dinner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not something I want to stop doing. I’m an opportunist and opportunity in my kind of timezone rarely knocks twice.

But it does put me through the wringer. And after two, three days a week, it pretty much drains all energy and desire to do much of anything else. Especially anything else GW2-related. *shudder*

At the same time, accomplishments in any game feel increasingly meaningless.

Today, I’m level whatever in Path of Exile. Or I collected X number of resources leading to Y goal in GW2. Or I caught a Z Pokemon for the collection.

It’s a made-up goal that the developers have designed, that you’ve agreed to suspend disbelief to want, for the purposes of “playing” the game.

I start getting restless and game hop.

I go for a short spin in Trove to revisit things. Still colorful, still pretty amusing, still laggy as anything for my geographical location.

I poke my head into my singleplayer ARK game, die a couple of times to random dinosaurs while trying to remember how to play, wind up with a lucky violent dinosaur-free respawn, build a slightly less pathetic thatch hut that is four squares big, and bully a couple of low level dinosaurs – mostly because they’re stuck in trees.

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It takes forever and a few wiki browses before I re-remember how to tame anything.

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Huzzah, I have a tame turtle.

It still feels meaningless. Collect thatch. Collect wood. Collect berries.

I briefly consider playing my Minecraft: Terrafirmapunk game, but wuss out at the thought of needing to collect more wood and stone.

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I give Shelter a go, it’s been on my Steam list forever and unplayed.

Before long I realize that I’m either emotionally dead to the plight of badgers beyond the metagame of trying to see which badger is the lightest in color to feed before it starves, or conversely too afraid of the eventual lesson of nature that one of the badger pups will wind up lost along the way or that death will inevitably come, for the badger mum if nobody else.

So I stop. The only way to win is not to play, and all that.

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The real winner of my restless game wanderings is this delightful little Early Access game that was going on 33% off on Steam – Slime Rancher.

I almost never buy Early Access games.

I pretty much -never- buy a game at only 33% off, preferring to wait for 75% off, or at least 50% off if I want it badly enough.

I impulse bought it, mostly because the reviews were very positive and I -really- needed some cheering up and this seemed colorful enough to do it.

I don’t regret a single cent.

It is really that good.

It is unabashedly happy and cartoony and ridiculous as befits a game that is about collecting and selling slime poop… er, plorts.

It is also a game that works, has interesting content and a decent progression path, which is something quite unexpected for an Early Access game.

The slimes jiggle around and display interesting behaviors. If they’re hungry, they’ll mash themselves right against the walls of their corral, yearning towards the nearest piece of food they can see.

They start stacking atop each other, making little slime stack ladders, so that one or two of them will eventually hop over the walls and get out, the devious little blobs.

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There are tabby cat slimes that will grab objects near them and play with them, tossing them willy nilly.

The fun is in the discovery though, and rest assured, there are more interesting slimes and and other things to be found in this game.

There are a few zones and objects still under construction, but by and large, the game is very playable even without them.

Recommended.

Especially when you want a mood lift. *Blorp*

GW2: The Nerfs Will Continue Until Morale Improves

The watchword of the day is annoyance.

I suppose this is a change from the past month, where the operating phrase was “cruise control.”

However, I am not sure this is a terribly positive change.

The silver lining, of course, is that I finally got frustrated enough to break through into coherence on this blog again.

Most of last month was me questioning myself, “What are you feeling when you play the games you’re playing? Do you have anything to write or blog about?”

And the reply, as always, was “ehh… nothing very much. I’m not sure I’m feeling anything. Kinda numb. Empty. Just cruising. Kinda contented, I guess. Not happy happy. But not depressed or sad either. I’m just doing what needs to be done.

“A chore is a chore is a chore. It’s not super-tedious, but it’s nothing to get excited over either. You do it, mark it off the to-do list for the day or week, and proceed not to think about it any longer. You certainly don’t find a dire need to wax eloquently on a blog about brushing your teeth, bathing, cleaning the house, picking up groceries, paying the bills, doing GW2 dailies, doing PoE dailies, -every- day and -every- post.

“You know what? This is too much thinking about trying to write about nothing. Let’s go play Path of Exile. Your next build is waiting to be leveled or improved incrementally.”

The result: zero blog posts.

Until now. Where ArenaNet’s somewhat overzealous nerf of the standard chronomancer and necromancer raid meta builds promises ripple effects that will shake up the meta, in as yet unknown ways.

Doom and gloom has a way of spreading across Reddit and the forums though, and the knee-jerk reactions of others are not doing wonders for -my- mood either.

The reason why I’m blogging about it though is mostly a need to work out a bunch of conflicting emotions, and having no other outlet but to lay it all out here.

I have an underlying foundation of stability throughout whatever the hell excuse for “balance” occurs in GW2. The fact is that it is possible to own one of every class, if not more. I am also quite confident in being able to equip each class with whatever the hell is defined as “good” in the next meta, even if it will cost time and money to do so.

So even as one class gets hit with the nerf bat, another class will naturally be in ascendance, and if I have to equip and change to that class, SO BE IT. It is doable.

I know that I can -eventually- adapt to whatever’s needed. My raid group is full of people who can multiclass, so chances are fairly good that eventually the team will sort itself out into a new configuration that can cope – even if we might have to wait for the new strategies to be developed and then faithfully ape in cookie-cutter fashion.

Of course, doable does not mean easy, cheap or enjoyable.

Some classes aesthetically appeal to different personalities more. Some classes are easier to play without having to manage a concerto on the keyboard. Some classes have cheaper builds or less specific role responsibility to tax one’s concentration and reflexes.

I’d previously found a very happy place in raids as a condi PS berzerker-warrior.

I fulfill a support role by buffing might and providing banners. It even gives fury and added condition damage. Adding on burns on a boss ups the dps of the necromancer-reapers, who get a serious amount of burns to epidemic bounce.

I enjoy condition damage, it’s strategically different from straight up direct damage, there’s having to pay attention to layering on stacks and yet being able to pause and dodge and deal with other mechanics for a breath while still pulsing damage.

Also it is FIRE. My readers should know my pyromaniac obsession by now. I have the most luck sticking to classes and builds that let me play with fire, be it City of Heroes, Path of Exile or GW2. Fire particle effects just make me happy.

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Not terribly original, perhaps, being a darkity dark lord with shoulder spikes and on fire, but who freaking cares when you can watch the world burn?

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Warriors are straightforward. They hit things with their head. A perfect match personality-wise. They’re fairly survivable and sturdy – which is good because I tend to be clumsy and insta-die on squishier classes.

They contribute a decent amount of control. Condi PS especially excels with immobilizes, and I have felt successful in my niche but not terribly demanding role holding Gorseval spirits and escort wargs.

And I am now sulking and in a spot of mourning because it looks like the ripple effect is going to catch condi PS warriors in its wake.

The “common knowledge” being bandied about is that condi PS can no longer keep up 25 might stacks without a mesmer’s signet of inspiration to help it along.

This is true. If you’re in the standard condi PS build.

I spent a fairly fruitful if moderately frustrated night of testing with the dps golem ways and means to keep up 25 might stacks on a condi PS.

After a bunch of experiments, I determined that it was possible to stretch boon duration in various ways (with the understandable tradeoff of a slight drop in personal dps.)

Instead of rare veggie pizza, for example, one could eat dumplings and gain 20% boon duration at the cost of 20% condition duration. This, of course, is not terribly desirable.

So I invested a bunch of gold, leveled a scribe to 225 (hoorah for hoarding materials), and made a superior sigil of concentration. Dump that on the bow, dump a sigil of battle (cheap option, I was ready to go two sigil of concentrations if needed) on the torch, and voila, extended boon duration and a few more might stacks at the cost of some bleed dps from two sigils of earth.

Actual raid testing proved it was possible to maintain 25 might stacks with blasting might on the bow, For Great Justice and a bunch of extended might duration from sigil of strength crits.

Unfortunately, even as that bit of personal testing proved a success, our raid group was discovering the other ramifications of the nerf.

No one brought a rev, so our break bars – which were previously heavily dependent on rev breaking – ended up getting broken more slowly.

No one brought a necro, except in a few odd tests after repeated failures with a new comp, so the group struggled with mechanics that previously the necros with their many minions were taking care of. So… cage on trio caught a bunch of damage from adds that were previously tied up with minions and downed by epidemic. Conditions were flying left, right and center on Matthias and to a lesser extent, on sloth, without plague signet. Unmanaged adds on Xera were lethal distractions.

Without minions to heal, the druids had less astral force to go into celestial avatar and less healing ability, which was not really able to keep up with a spoiled bunch of clumsy souls used to getting topped off despite mistakes. Said clumsy souls were also mostly adapting to new builds or rotations and distracted, hence the mistakes.

It’s unknown what strategy our raid group is going to settle on. We were previously very necro heavy and banking heavily on conditions and epidemic bounce. I don’t know if the viper horror minion nerf means they are now off the table for good – the only hope for them is if their epidemic bounces are still strong enough to deal sufficient dps – but it’s not looking terribly promising.

This puts my condi PS warrior in a really bad spot as well, despite managing 25 might stacks, because to me, I exist to help boost necromancer epidemics with plenty of burns. The fact that a ranged build is easier to play in a number of these raid encounters was a bonus.

If there are no more necromancers, there is much less reason for me to be playing condi PS in a raid.

I am better off going normal power PS, in melee, where I can pretty much close my eyes and shit out 25 might stacks without working as hard for it.

Bonus, a power PS has more break bar management than condi PS, which would compensate for the loss of a revenant. They support direct power based builds better, because they never have to decide whether to trade off burning arrows for empower allies, and it looks like the new golden children are going to be elementalists (what’s new?), guardians and thieves, all of whom are direct damage builds.

*sigh*

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Again, there’s an odd sense of conflict. I -shouldn’t- feel too terribly upset.

I already have a staff elementalist decked out in ascended (which I still barely know how to play, but have managed successful kills in some off-class runs.)

I have a decked out thief, which I’ve taken to Gorseval before, and can play (but somehow don’t terribly enjoy. Either I don’t have a thief mindset, or I can’t gel with how that particular thief character looks.)

I have lived and breathed guardian life for four years. I can play a guardian in my sleep. My main is a guardian, albeit I was waiting for legendary armor before upgrading his still exotic armor. I also have a second guardian alt that I can easily resurrect – especially since I decked out a revenant which never saw much play (thank goodness, I wasn’t terribly comfy with it) – so I can easily just transfer a whole bunch of ascended heavy armor weight stuff over, if need be.

I have an 80 ranger-druid (that I was going to practice on via world completion, eventually) and a boosted 80 mesmer and engineer (that I was eventually going to take beginner steps to learn, so that I can at least appreciate what the other classes bring to the table), and enough leather and magnetite shards and random ascended drops hoarded that it’s not going to be impossible to equip whatever is needful.

A change in the meta is theoretically a good excuse to learn how to play a new build, and be exposed to more variety in gameplay.

So why is it that I just generally feel annoyed? Like something that was tolerable just got even more tedious?

Well, for one thing, changing over builds means I have to look at my completely unmanaged inventories and try to get them in some semblance of order once again. I have to think and make uncomfortable decisions over which currency to use to buy X ascended item, or grapple with crafting and the mystic forge to make said item or switch stats.

For another, the change in meta means that raid team roles are now in flux once more, and my particular raid group hasn’t even settled on a workable raid composition, let alone who will be in which role most of the time. This leads to discomfort, rather than the numbing comfortable familiarity of knowing that such-and-such player will be here and doing this, and that player will be there doing that.

And while discomfort is all very well when you want to incite players to step up to the challenge and adapt, every time I hit a frustration or discomfort or pain point these days, I start asking myself, “it’s been four years, maybe it’s enough, maybe I’m done with discomfort?”

At the level that I’m playing Path of Exile, there is no discomfort whatsoever –

plagueoffrogs
– only a plague of frogs.

(No doubt at the higher levels, there is great unhappiness every time a patch comes and throws something out of whack. But I have to point out that in PoE, there’s usually something else that can be the new OP thing that patch.)

This leads to a path of least resistance where I find myself double-clicking the PoE icon on the desktop a lot more often than the GW2 icon.

I’m not quitting GW2, of course. I think I’m still too attached to it for now, even if the -developers- seem to be checking out more than moi. (Hi, Amazon Game Studios!)

Both me and my raid group are likely to settle for the path of least resistance too, which is to just wait until the theorycrafters with the interest and too much time on their hands publish their “findings” (regardless of how true the facts are objectively, what is copied and repeated becomes history.)

Or it’ll hit a drama patch and break up. (Always have to prep for that possibility as well. Human nature is human nature.)

Whatever.

Even Legendary Armor can’t get me excited these days.

(I will leave it to a new generation to bitch about exclusivity and lack of alternatives. Bitching implies caring or giving a fuck, something I no longer have the energy for.)

Yeah, it looks pretty acceptably great. The heavy version, anyway, which is all I care about. I can only hope that it doesn’t look fugly as sin on a charr or asura, which are the two main body types on my character stable.

The new raid will probably arrive some time in November, after Halloween. Perhaps there will be more collection steps to work on then. With enough patience, I presume my raid group will eventually get there. Or it will be sad pug life like many others already suffering now to steadily unlock the collection. Or if it proves too painful, then the other alternative is giving up. Then I’ll move on, to some other game.

I can neither get excited or feel stressed about it either way. What happens, happens.

All I am, is a little bit sad about my condi PS, and a little bit annoyed that I have to suffer through more ‘work’ and unenjoyable bits, in order to arrive at a self-chosen goal.

(Not complaining, it’s self-inflicted, delayed gratification is a thing… but just…annoyed.)

In the meantime, in order to get over my annoyance and forget everything but the cheerful meditative smoothness of things falling over and dying without a struggle, I’ll be over in Wraecrast, procrastinating on GW2 stuff I probably oughta do but can’t be arsed to yet.

uniquestrongbox
Likely more exciting loot than I’ll ever see in GW2.

Noun / Verb Identity

This is something that has been on my mind lately.

Ever since the stray thought popped into my head:

raidxera

I raid, but I am not a raider.

Or at least, I don’t really consider myself part of that illustrious group.

Sometimes, I feel like an outside observer looking in, an immersion or gonzo journalist perhaps, or an anthropologist engaged in cultural immersion.

Sometimes, it’s the same sensation as an expatriate warmly welcomed by their host country and openminded enough to immerse. You go deep enough to be part of said country, a part of you will forever remember the good memories in that country and will probably miss it dearly if/when you leave, you might even be changed enough that reverse culture shock might be an issue…

…but no matter how long you stay, there is always a tiny niggling feeling that you’re an outsider, that you don’t quite -belong-.

This is not specific to raids, by the by. It just so happens it’s the thing I’ve been doing most lately, and the thought just hit me that way.

I WvW (from time to time), but I am not a WvWer either. (Or I don’t consider myself one.)

I PvP now and then too, but I would really hesitate before describing myself as a PvPer.

pvpernot

This is me, just a couple weeks ago, discovering that they’ve put in a match history at some point in the past, and admiring that my last played game was on the last day of 2015.

Lol.

There have been some 8-10 more matches added since, sating the sudden desire to try out a warrior in PvP and attempting to cross over to the next tier out of Amber, but I dunno, I’ve got like 6 pips and there’s 9 pips to go and I don’t know if I’ll ever find the time or urge before October ends.

I play fractals and dungeons, as and when the whim takes me, but I am by no means a fractaler, or a dungeoneer.

I can roleplay, but I definitely don’t do it as a matter of course, and cannot be said to be a roleplayer either.

You could argue that some of this is semantics. If you do something (verb), by definition, you are a (noun form of that verb.)

But it seems to me that there is a small unspoken psychological or conceptual gap in there that is about identity.

(There is some research that seems to support this perception. Are you a “voter” or merely “voting” in this election? Are you a “chocolate-eater” or merely “eat chocolate a lot?”)

Then I start thinking about why I am willing to accept some things as part of myself and my self-identity, and why I’m not willing to accept other things.

I am quite happy to say that I am a GW2 player, for example. I think that obsession is kinda undeniable.

Call me a generalist, an explorer, a soloist, I’ll probably nod and agree, even if I don’t embody those things 100% of the time.

Things like AP hunter, or node miner, or collector, might get 50-75% agreement.

It’s not really primarily frequency – I raid twice a week, if not more when asked to.

Preference maybe plays a bit of a part, but not entirely? I’m not sure.

Some of it has to do with perceived community belonging, but not all.

(ie. Many people rejected the notion of being a “gamer” after Gamergate somewhat tainted the label. Me, I find I play and collect too many games to be anything but. So that label in my mind is still valid, even if I may not identify with the entire gamer community or a subset of the gamer community who feel like they speak for the entire.)

It’s a mildly interesting exercise in other aspects of one’s life too.

Am I a blogger? Yeah, I think I would claim that as part of my identity, even if my frequency sucks lately.

Am I a writer? Possibly.

Am I a Pokemon Go player? A Path of Exile player? (Pst, PoE had yet another crazy update lately. I -so- want to play but have no clue where I can find the time.) An Evolve player? A Minecraft player?

[Maybe. Want to be but probably am not. Not really. On occasion. In that order.]

No easy answers.

Just more “Who am I?” questions.

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