Path Of…

Well, now.

The plan for this blog post title was to suggest that I was going to talk about GW2: Path of Fire, and then carefully skirt around actually NOT mentioning GW2 at all, beyond a wait-and-see regarding the preview weekend and some internal brooding over whether I should allow myself to buy the expansion – aka spend money on supporting GW2/Anet – while the stupid raid-exclusive legendary armor saga continued.

Instead, I was going to wax rhapsodic about Path of Exile, whose free 3.0 Fall of Oriath expansion is due to launch in less than 24 hours and how excited I am to play through ten full chapters with no repetition needed for increasingly higher Cruel and Merciless difficulties.

Then I idly checked the Guild Wars 2 reddit and saw an announcement that totally made my day…week, month, year. Whatever.

https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/wuv/WvW-and-PvP-Ascended-Armor-Upgrades/first#post6670394

When the August 8th update is released, WvW and PvP players who own Heart of Thorns will be able to upgrade their WvW and PvP ascended armor to have legendary attributes! This new type of armor will not have a unique skin, such as the one that is part of the raids legendary armor, but instead will consist of an upgrade to WvW and PvP ascended armor that gives those armor pieces legendary stat-swapping capabilities without changing the skin.
The following PvP and WvW ascended armor can be upgraded to allow stat swapping:
• Triumphant Hero’s Ascended Armor
• Mistforged Triumphant Hero’s Ascended Armor
• Ardent Glorious Ascended Armor
• Glorious Hero Ascended Armor

Yo. That’s all I’ve been asking for and needed for philosophical parity. An alternate pathway(s) to legendary armor functionality. Since 20-fucking-15.

I’ve been holding back on spending a cent on Anet since raids were introduced, because of that.

Well, now I can buy the $80 version of the expansion guilt free.

And I can go be a PvE hero now and raid with much less unhappiness.

Fault-Finding vs Solutions

faultfinding

I overheard this conversation in one of my guilds, herefore to remained unnamed.

Person A was having a moderate dramatic episode, presumably why it was being publicly broadcast over guild chat.

Now I have zero context for what actually happened.

It may very well be that Person A’s performance was indeed abysmal and was pulling down the group, be it a 10-member raid or a 5-person fractal or dungeon.

In order not to feed any drama flames further, I, like probably 10-30 other online guild members overhearing, said nothing over guild chat to aggravate the situation and it ended there without devolving into a full-blown histrionic fit.

Inside though, I was fully sympathizing with Person A.

It reminded me of my own fairly recent experience at one of the “training” raids said guild had organized.

Every now and then I try to make the effort to attend one of these scheduled events, under the vague possibly-mistaken impression that I might be able to contribute in a positive way to the success of one of these training raids and help out others.

After all, while I’m not top-of-the-line with action/reaction and the video-watching meta strategies (merely passable to decent,) I do have all three wings’ encounters experience under my belt with my static raid group and multiple geared classes to offer. There’s something to be said for practice, after all.

Not to mention, it’s also a good opportunity for -myself- to practice a class that I’m less familiar with, since the phrase “training raid” usually equates to everyone having the expectation that success is not guaranteed (and to be frank, given the experience level of some of the players that join, not at all likely) but whom are also committed to offering a low-stress non-hostile environment for everyone to get some experience with the encounter.

Unfortunately, what usually ends up unfurling before my naturally critical eyes are some forehead-to-desk examples of the blind leading the blind.

Fault and blame can be apportioned to the wrong party, in a fairly haphazard, if attempted constructive manner. (Of course, in the conversation above, Person B was anything but.)

More specifically, the difficulty Person B exhibits is pinpointing the exact issue causing the problem and telling Person A how to solve it (or conversely, telling person C or changing the situation so that the problem is minimized.)

All they can see is, Person A is dying, therefore Person A must be the problem.

But -what- is killing Person A?

Is it something that Person A is doing, and really shouldn’t be doing?

Then what should be addressed is that action: “Hey, Person A, don’t stand in front of the boss. He cleaves / does a fire breath / whatever.”

Not, “STOP GOING DOWN, YOU RETARD.”

Hell, I’d accept, “YOU MORON, STOP STANDING IN FRONT OF HIS ATTACKS.”

That’s just me though. I have fairly thick skin. If I can learn something from it, I will.

Some guy did that to me in the dredge underground fractal, “FUCK YOUR PET,” and I silently acknowledged that this was the first time I was playing a necro in that particular fractal and that I had -no idea whatsoever- that the bone fiend would sit there and stop the boss from being pulled over to the lava bucket.

Issue succinctly if rudely identified. Issue promptly addressed.

I triggered the heal skill again, killing off the pet, and made sure that I didn’t spawn the bone fiend again, consuming it when I needed a heal.

(I might not group with you again though, cos that’s not a relaxing low-energy encounter.)

Something even more helpful, if you can see the person struggling, is to point the tell for the attack. “When Slothasor stands up on two feet, he’s about to fire breath.”

And even better, describe how to avoid it in a manner the person might be able to follow. “Dodge sideways or dodge -through- him to avoid it.” Or double dodge or jump or use skill X for other mechanics.

But what if Person A -is- doing everything (or most things, cos no one’s perfect) right? And -still- dying?

I found myself in that kind of awkward situation just the other day.

Mea culpa things: I was playing a staff elementalist. I have very little experience with staff eles, I have very little ability to self-adapt skills/traits/weapons to the situation.

I tend to play higher hp classes in raids and do accidentally run facefirst into damaging things without meaning to, because my other characters can take the hit AND I’m spoiled in my static raid with a very good healer that carries all of us and tops up our health in a couple seconds.

I may have tried to take on more responsibility than I could chew, under the impression that it would help the raid succeed.

Objective fact things: Staff eles are very squishy. The training raid group had no revenant in their group composition.

Non mea culpa things: My placement in the raid team’s group composition. The task assigned to me by the raid leader. Imperfect play by other raid members.

Basically, we were doing VG, and the instructions I received were, “Since you’re playing staff elementalist, which is ranged, please run green circles with the rest in phase 3 onwards.”

Beyond internally wincing, because I’ve never seen non-heal build staff eles running green circles to go very well, and said, “Okay.”

On the very first attempt, as I’m setting up my rotations and cheerfully beginning what I came to do, which is to practice doing as much dps as possible on a staff ele, out of the corner of my eye – what do I see? One, two… three? people running to the green circle.

Yikes. So I fling myself over to the green circle, just before the distributed magic strike happens, and then decide that well, I usually run green circles anyway as condi in my static group, I might as well just be the fifth all the time SINCE the raid leader had no confidence in the first place that four people could do it past phase 3.

This ended up not that great a decision because our particular group’s druid seemed only capable of topping up our health bars every second green circle at best, and did not seem to be predicting distributed magic strikes accordingly and topping up after.

The druid, frankly, seemed more focused on trying to heal the tank and melee group, running forward after every green circle to do so.

Mind you, in GW2 raids, the strict tank/dps/heal holy trinity doesn’t quite exist.

In VG, specifically, everybody in the raid takes overall periodic pulsing damage (thus encouraging the presence of a healer, because the self-heal is insufficient) and one biggest source of unavoidable damage is the distributed magic strike that comes from standing in the green circle.

(The boss’ forward cleaving punch also hurts, but some tanks can deal with it themselves better than others; and running into a seeker also hurts, but is generally avoidable if people bring enough control.)

I started taking an alarming amount of damage, so much so that I was forced to learn what my water attunement skills were in a hurry, losing all the dps I was supposed to be providing if I could stay in fire.

And let’s face it, I have very little experience on an elementalist, I have zero idea if my half filled red hp reservoir showing 5600 out of 11,000 health is sufficient to withstand a green circle strike.

Turns out, with no revenant or druid pulsing protection and me not having a faintest clue how to give myself prot or heal up further, 5600 is not enough.

I go down as the distributed magic strike hits the green circle, and blam, the raid takes a raid wiping amount of damage.

Twice.

I get called out for this, because hey, you’re taking a heap of damage and going down A LOT. What’s happening?

I point out that I’m at half hp just before the green circle strike hits, and going down as a result.

There’s a fun little discussion where the raid leader says, well, you’re not even supposed to be in the green circles anyway before phase 3, and I’m thinking to myself, if I wasn’t, how is it that just me going down in the green circles equals raid wipe? ie. someone else wasn’t running them.

I’m also internally thinking that there’s something a little wrong with the team composition because we’re apparently in a 4/4/2 split, minus a revenant (so I can’t even remember who was with the chronotank in the 2) but we only have one primary healer – of which I, and two daredevils are in.

There is another druid, which I suspect is primarily condi, in the other group of 4, along with another tempest elementalist and a burnzerker and something else I can’t recall, probably a reaper condi.

Normally, if there is one primary healer, a 7/2/1 split is used, so that heals and buffs from the 1 druid go out equally to all.

But here we have a situation where the primary healer and condi team is running circles, and they’re not even in the same group… and yet I am in the same group as the primary healer, but somehow not catching sufficient heals?

Is it a group priority buff/heal problem? Or is the healer just not aiming their heals in the right place, or using them well at all?

But you know, you don’t want to be THAT GUY.

Especially NOT that guy who blames the healer.

It just doesn’t look at all kosher.

So I say nothing about my internal thoughts, and agree very publicly and loudly-on-purpose that I will not be running green circles any longer until phase 3.

At least, I think, I will FINALLY be able to practice the skill rotation which was the reason I attended this training raid in the first place… right up to the moment when the green circle team falls apart because something else went wrong.

I also notice, though I am not sure anyone else does, that my character has been sneakily shifted out of the primary healing druid’s party and put into the group with the other elementalist and other druid.

The burnzerker takes my place in the first party.

The next VG attempt, we hit a 6.45 phase time, much faster than the previous goes, and my health bar doesn’t shift from 90-100% at all.

Unfortunately, we hit a bit of carnage in phase 3 when seekers are knocked into the green team and that attempt was a wash.

(I am also not trying -super- hard to rush for green circles. Hey, I’m the fifth, right? If I can make it, I’ll go. If I have low health and am going to go down in the green circle anyway, I’m not going. Because someone took issue with my going down a lot. So I will NOT go down a lot.)

In the subsequent attempts, we don’t get to phase 3 about 50% of the time, because in two highly entertaining tries, I see the -druid- go down in the green circle (where previously I’d drop first) and in the other also pretty entertaining attempts, I watch as the burnzerker drops to 3/4 health and starts expressing befuddlement that they’re suddenly taking a LOT of damage.

Hmm. Odd. -I’m- not taking any damage now. Must be you, huh?

Of course, in the interests of politeness and a civil experience, I leave all the above unsaid.

Instead, I mostly sneak peeks at my combat log, having resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to get a really good opportunity to practice staff dps rotations (I have to switch to water every now and then and throw extra heals, the chronotank has started to periodically go down too.)

I’ve replaced the hope for practising staff rotations with a vague curiosity to figure out what the hell is going on with the heals, and just how exactly our leet static group healer can do what they do.

I still don’t really understand what was going on fully, but I did notice with some bemusement that I was catching more heals from the other tempest and myself in the new group I was in, than I was catching in my combat log from the prior group.

In the next static group raid I did, I started screen capping my combat log to record the leet druid’s skills that were hitting me. It was about 6-8 more skills than the other druid, including a water blast combo. (Dayum.)

Some day, if I ever get my ranger his elite spec, and maybe start doing more PvP or PvE with him… I wanna grow up to be more like leet druid.

It does make me wonder about the effectiveness of so-called “training raids” though.

We failed on VG several more times, never getting to the second split, and the raid leader decided to call it there.

I got some mumbled, almost condescending sounding, feedback about “you can improve by not going down so much” (no, really, did you notice I -stopped- taking damage once I was shifted to the other group and ceased running green circles?) and seemingly out of left field, a “tip” that I could use Overload Earth to give myself protection.

Which I’d grant is useful, as a potential survival tactic when shit hits the fan, if a little bit non-meta in terms of actually doing dps by not swapping out of fire.

It’s okay, I learned something else inadvertently – aka my static raid group’s healer is a god that works in mysterious ways – so it was still a valuable learning experience.

The point of raids is group coverage and skill synergies. The rev or guardian or druid with stone spirit gives protection, the PS warrior gives might and banners, freeing up the elementalist and daredevil to dps. (That is, assuming your ele is built for dps. You could build it to heal or what not.)

“Training raids” become almost a raid “hard mode,” in the sense that the group coordination and skill synergies probably aren’t there at all, and the group/role coverage is imperfect at best.

Best of all, I wonder if participants can actually learn anything from them, if they don’t have a self-driven analytical mind and/or lack the experience to contrast a “training raid” with a successful one.

(Not everyone is lucky enough to have a static raid group that knows what they’re doing. My raid guild has some 8-9 statics formed and only 2 clear all three wings regularly. The knowledge is disseminating though, the guild leader announced some substantial progress, eg. killed Xera, or killed Matthias, or finally got Sab, for other groups recently.)

Especially if they aren’t getting any feedback because other people don’t want to hurt their feelings or cause drama… or because other people don’t quite know how to give the useful, constructive kind of feedback.

I mean, don’t look at me, I couldn’t teach anyone how to druid for nuts, for example. I know nuthing. Zilch about healing. Please ask my static group’s druids. That’s what I’ll do if I eventually make one.

(But I -could- probably sit and dissect with someone all the ways to generate might as a PS warrior, and figure out why Person C isn’t giving 25 might stacks to his raid group. Or suggest a more helpful heal skill to use to a warrior that’s consistently falling over with healing signet slotted, and point out tells to look out for in order to dodge attacks.

Except no one will probably ever ask me, and I’d make a terrible grumpy hermit teacher anyway.

Nor am I about to just come out and say it to randoms and PUGs where the chances of them being receptive aren’t terribly high to begin with, unless I just happen to be -there- in that situation and I think one or two sentences might help fix the issue.)

This blind leading the blind, and those-who-know being unwilling to teach is a situation which I have not yet worked out a satisfactory solution to.

I often just end up wussing out, keeping quiet and bowing gracefully out of the entire situation after some time to leave the ignorant to it.

No doubt, others have decided to leave me in the dark and just vamoosed away from my noobish ways as well.

It’s not a new problem. Some three years ago, I was in one of those semi-casual, semi-hardcore mid-range guilds that prided itself on WvW participation. This guild worked out great for me, being unwilling to be insanely hardcore committed, but also wanting a little bit more organization than totally casual guilds.

It was, you know, fairly chill – meta builds not -required- but if you wanted to, you were welcome to and it helped strengthen the guild force being fielded, so all’s well that ends well.

Various guild officers would take turns leading, if you had the interest, the guild was also very open to letting anyone command, and the members would dutifully (if more than a little suicidally) follow your orders and let you learn what works and doesn’t work when commandering a rag tag bunch of the semi-hardcore.

Except. We had -one- commander that was incapable of learning.

Without fail, he would be decked out in the hardiest set of high toughness high vitality gear on his guardian and he would cheerfully fling himself head-on into a much larger force. Over-extending doesn’t even begin to describe what he did. Over and over.

Mind you, he died too, just ten seconds later than everyone else who had already been run over, either from following him into the fray and dropping to AoEs, or by getting surrounded because he’d entirely separated his front and backline by his own orders.

This guy was constantly expressing sheer bamboozlement that his strategy wasn’t working. “Guys, please, please follow me. We can do this.” (Cue the faithful group wipe.)

“Let’s try again.” (Cue less faithful less willing followers.)

“Guys, we went down because we were separated! All together now!” (Cue mostly massive carnage, and one or two people, me included, beating feet and running far far away from the suspected, then confirmed, train wreck.)

As usual, I had the fortune of being able to contrast this guy’s commanding style with other ever-so-slightly-more tactically sound ones. The contrast helped -me- to learn what worked and what didn’t.

(Granted, I do make a pretty terrible follower, being liable to independently up and decide to do something else, if the leader’s not convincing or competent enough for my standards.)

I’m not sure that commander ever did realize why people started making excuses and politely leaving his WvW raids some 30-60 minutes into the event.


I notice most of the time we just leave things be and assume that over time, people will bang into enough practice and learning encounters to figure out, or be told outright by someone sharp and thick-skinned enough to pinpoint the real issue.

I just wonder if there are any shortcuts to this process.

Guides could be written and recorded, but people still have to have the motivation to read and watch in the first place. Those types usually have the self-motivation to learn by themselves in most situations anyway.

Hell, they could be told outright by someone, but still be unwilling to receive the message, and/or the someone could be wrong as well.

Granted, one could also -not- have to tell someone in a nice way that they suck at X in the first place. A bit of clever diplomacy and swapping of roles, and the issue might go away entirely because the player is -good- at Y and someone else can do X.

I have very little skill with this sort of diplomacy and indirect constructive solution finding. It may however be one of the better ways to resolve these types of people problems.

It’s something to think about, at any rate.

GW2: Tick, Tock, Time Passing

One has been trying to go back to some semblance of a normal routine in GW2…

gw2normal

…insomuch as anything in a post-Heart of Thorns world can be considered “normal.”

What’s permanently changed, I fear, is the tone of the community.

Raid guild drama is a thing now. Those that prefer optimal and effective are now at loggerheads with those that have a more set vision of their character or simply do not yet have the resources to reach said optimal and effective state.

With the tight tuning of raids, the former feel more factually justified in outright attacking the latter group (or simply silently scorning them), and well, when people get attacked, they become defensive in turn and may attack back.

I dunno. My reaction to all this is to feel less inclined to participate in the general community, ducking back into the shelter of ever-so-slightly more laissez-faire guilds (though they too haven’t been completely immune) and isolating myself – presumably up to the potential point where said guilds implode if someone can’t take it any longer.

(At which point, I guess I look for yet another guild or re-evaluate my place in the game. I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news that I’ve lost the passion to get worked up about it either way, I just feel resigned, distant and somewhat mellow about it all.

A sort of old person’s “eh, it’s inevitable, why get worked up about how the world works, just live in it the best you can and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go” indifferent attitude has pretty much overtaken me.)

On a more personal level, I have been amused to discover that GW2 life now requires more scheduling than everyday real life (work included.)

I am not as stressed out as some other people are feeling, at being “on the clock” so to speak, mostly because I have a fantastic ability to ignore said clock when I don’t feel like it.

However, since I’m also a little obsessive and occasionally follow the cult of GTD in order to stay organized, I kinda need to have it all laid out in front of me so that I know what I’ve chosen to ignore (and what shouldn’t be ignored.)

gw2schedule

So yeah, I’ve now started a Google calendar for my GW2 guild events…

I haven’t even finished adding all the stuff of my NA guild yet (most of it will be moot since I can only make Sat/Sun stuff, and I’ve already memorized those timings.)

I tend to chuckle wryly when I look at it though, at the sheer craziness level of it.

Granted, most of the green stuff are TTS events, which are very much optional, and I strictly don’t have to attend -any- event at all (as long as I’m willing to deal with the consequences, such as being removed from a progression raid roster), but I like to touch base with my guilds whenever I can, especially if I also want to do said event they’re planning to do.

Squeezing personal solo time in between all these social get-togethers has been somewhat tricky.

The irony of it is that a good part of that solo time goes to dailies (oh, a world boss daily, so check Dulfy’s world boss timer – yes, I have it bookmarked) and half-hearted attempts at achievements/collections, many of which are in Heart of Thorns, so enter the new kid on the block, GW2 wiki’s event timers, which displays the HoT zone timers in easily understandable graphical form.

I really don’t mind it as much as some, but yeah, I can see why some people might be feeling stressed out.

What’s really been pissing me off over the last few days is the sudden weird increase in reported ping.

latency

What’s really strange is that for the most part, the game plays the same and it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess I have to commend whichever department of Anet was working on masking the effects of ping, especially when it comes to dodging AoE red circles.

I was raiding all Saturday morning with 475 reported ping, and beyond one or two accidental teleports from a blue AoE that I apparently didn’t move out in time, and a little bit of skill lag, it wasn’t exasperating or  utterly unplayable.

However, I have no idea what this actually means in terms of objective DPS dealt, if there was any impact on that front.

(Our team got to about 5% of the Vale Guardian’s health, the closest I’ve gotten so far, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next week.)

The good news is that I have absolutely ZERO desire to progress on to Gorseval while this plagues me, because I’m 100% certain that a glider malfunction WILL occur with such ping.

I learned this by utterly wasting a good bit of solo time trying to work on POIs and vistas and adventures that all required gliding.

After the fifth time my glider choked and refused to deploy while I was vainly attempting to reach the Wings of Gold aventure in Auric Basin, I thought to check my ping and discovered the abnormally high number.

(I hear some NA folks complaining about 200-300ms ping – I’m like “HAHAHAHAHA Welcome to -normal- Oceanic/SEA life. Why don’t you get gud now and see how you like it.”)

gw2tracert

A tracert to guildwars2.com suggests that the bulk of the slowdown might be happening somewhere around the Telia.net servers, which are apparently quite infamous for such issues (if only because they are a major backbone and the bulk of internet traffic goes through them or whatever.)

I can only pray that it’s just Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday week having an effect on Internet traffic and that this too shall pass.

If not, then someone somewhere needs to fix their shit.

In the meantime, this has a surprisingly mellowing effect on my stress levels because it’s like, this is -totally- out of my hands, there’s no point trying to obsess about being all optimal and effective and efficient and uber and try to be all elite successful raider bruhaha when YOU HAVE 600+ PING.

600+ ping can only be dealt with from a long-term patience mindset.

It’s either:

a) it will eventually go away and then you will have sufficient opportunity to try again and do whatever you want to do, in the long term

or

b) it won’t go away and you may as well quit this MMO and all other MMOs and go play singleplayer offline games.

There’s a certain pristine clarity that comes from basically not having any viable options beyond the basics.

“Ok, I can kill mobs solo very slowly and harvest nodes, or sit on the world boss bus. Or stay in the city and sort my inventory. Or I can quit and log off until the lag goes away. The end. That was easy.”