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.

dropbearonfire

morefire

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?

coh_worldburn

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*

redvsblue

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.

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Blaugust Day 5: A Day in the Life of

Today is idea drought day.

It’s 11.32 pm and I’m cutting it super close.

It’s like I’m hoping the sheer time pressure of having to hit the post button before 11.59pm will shake something loose.

Well, it’s not.

In fact, I’m a little grumpy about it because I’m paused in the middle of a Dota 2 International match replay, having to put entertainment on hold to write this post.

The International, by the way, seems to be full of a number of surprises and upsets this year. I haven’t watched every game, but it seems like famous favorites like Na’Vi or Newbee (with good track records behind them) have been eliminated from the tournament early.

Tonight, I was busy watching Team Secret vs EHome – Team Secret being a strong favorite since they were apparently a sort of dream team put together by long time players previously from strong teams like Na’Vi and so on, and EHome being a strong Chinese team as well.

Since I don’t know enough Dota 2 to appreciate deep nuances or skilled technique, I tend to gravitate towards matches that last a long time. Why? Because I like to see the swings and the struggle that you almost never see in a PUG game.

In a PUG, the moment one team gets an upper hand, the whole thing starts to snowball. The losing players start blaming each other (never themselves, of course), morale evaporates faster than water in a desert, and basically one side crumbles because they don’t see any hope of a comeback.

But Dota 2 is a little more elegant than that and it -is- possible, if not terribly likely, that a good draft pick, good movement/positioning, the other team’s overconfidence or small mistake or -something- will trip them up and cause a swing in the other direction. The only time I really get to see it is when pro players duke it out in clutch matches.

The matches mentioned above were definitely some of those. I really enjoy seeing a team stay calm and claw their way back from what looks like utter disaster.

As for why I’m out of blog post ideas, here’s what I’ve done for the rest of the gaming day (night):

  • Finished the daily in GW2 by visiting one vista, chopping some wood, and beating on the Svanir Shaman. I could have played a PvP match to complete the daily too, but I just couldn’t muster the energy or interest.
  • Finished the daily in Trove by running around fairly easy Uber-2 lairs and dungeons, and essentially autoattacking, while Dota 2 matches were playing in the other screen.
  • Tried to level Gardening in Trove, and got about 100 skill points in, before realising that further progress would require ingredients from earlier tiers to grow and be harvested – taking anywhere from 1 – 4 hours to be fully mature and ready to go.

Yeah. Nothing exciting. No pretty screenshots. Nuthing.

Oh here, I found an old screenshot of quaggans in the new Lion’s Arch fountain / quaggan pool. Guess that will have to tide you over till tomorrow.

quaggans

This post was brought to you by the letter B for Belghast and Blaugust, the letter D for Drought, Dry and Desperate, and (only) the number 5. (Darn.)

GW2: Today I Smiled (And Yesterday Too)

Quick, hide behind that tent!

Yesterday, I had one of the best social experiences in Guild Wars 2 that will be etched in my memory’s hall of fame.

On a social level, it matched the first time I ever encountered the Font of Rhand mini-dungeon while leveling with the first wave of GW2 fans.

That was the time when six of us met, seemingly by chance, and in truth due to cunning dynamic event design, and explored it together, steadily solving all the puzzles until we reached the final boss.

Where upon we endured wave after wave of death by roasting, one last survivor swimming out to the outer chamber to break aggro and stealthily swim back to manually rez the others, trying to free Rhendak the Crazed from his glitchy insistence on swimming into the ceiling, blowing up repeatedly from his steam/fire bubbles which no one had a clue then how to read and dodge/advoid, and FINALLY, wearing down his hp and defeating him.

To be surrounded by a sea of chests, one for each person that was present, collecting with glee all the blues and greens until our bags were overloaded and amazed by the bountiful haul.

(Oh, how times have changed now.)

There was mass love and bromance by everyone present, excitedly friending each other. They were the first people I put on my friends list in GW2.

(I still see one or two of them around to this day. One is ironically in the same SEA guild that I joined. The other is a massive achievement hound, too hardcore for me to feel comfortable socializing with – but is also in a TTS guild – who mostly serves as my distant barometer of how high the bar is now for maximum possible AP.)

It matched the most memorable and social WvW experiences I would ever have, coming in to Tarnished Coast as a wide-eyed newbie, getting educated in all manner of tactics during the age of celebrity commanders and siege masters.

Fer instance, there were the multiple times people would lemming off a cliff following Commander Jadon and laugh uproariously at the aftermath. The intensively detailed siege placement and mortar usage trainings of Theongreyjoy, the ‘balls deep’ charges and ‘playing zombies’ zerg vs zerg learn-by-doing trainings of EP’s  Odinzu and CERN’s Nightlight. The defiantly masterful map-hopping and outmanned last stands utilizing chokepoints during offpeak hours of the then PiNK’s Deyja.

Deyja, especially, provided some of the best times I would ever have. As far as I know, he’s gone now, having seemingly gotten burned out PUGmandering and first spending a lot of time enjoying more individual style PvP on the WvW maps, then joining KH and maybe moving with them to another server or having quit the game entirely. Completely understandable and natural attrition over time.

The guy deserves a tribute for the good times regardless.

Notoriously foul-mouthed and with a drill sergeant style of commanding that no doubt got him at odds with certain more thin-skinned people, he had a great sense of wry humor and a good heart that was audible in his tone, despite the expletives peppering every other word.

He had also an UNCANNY knack of reading the enemy, making fantastic tactical calls, and was a natural leader, knowing how to keep morale going in the darkest of hours when 10-20 lone stalwarts faced the teeming hordes of other servers outmanned.

We would hide in corners that most zergs would naturally fail to check with their eyes focused ahead on the prize, and plow them over from behind before they even knew what hit them. When all else was lost, instead of crawling away with our tails between our legs, Deyja would lead his ragtag group and set up defiant camp in the lord room of hills keep, spamming AoE and siege with such fury in the chokepoint that whole 80 man zergs would bog down for 1-2 crucial hours, stuck outside, trying and escalating one siege tactic after another to break the encampment.

And there was the crowning classic moment which etched into my heart how to never give up if you don’t want to.

Our zerg, such as it was, had dwindled down to a mere five people.

This was in the days when during late Aussie/SEA hours, you were lucky if there were ten people on all the maps. Deyja switched tactics without hesitation and took us skirmishing. We’d swipe a supply camp, try a ninja here and there, and when the opposing zerg came upon us with righteous fury, we ran.

But did we run like chickens?

Hell, no. His voice kept us together. Paraphrasing, it was something like “Ahhhhhh, fuck, FUCK, run, run, you bastards, run! Follow me, keep up! You get caught, yer screwed. Run like the wind!” But said with a grin in his voice that you had to be there to hear.

We ran like fucking SAMURAI.

We strung the enemy out.

“Wait for it… wait for it…” he said, as we dashed into the outskirts of the hylek camp. Just as we cleared the second exit, “NOW,” he said, “TURN AROUND.”

And the three of us that remained ganked the three fastest pursuers that had thought they were going to get easy outmanned kills.

Not at all being a professional PvPer by ANY stretch of the imagination, and being scared to death that I would let the other two down, it was one of the most adrenaline charged experiences (and victories) of my GW2 life.

Of course, we booked it out of there before the rest of the zerg caught up. And broke up shortly after as there was nothing more he could do for us. But I learned a hell of a lot that fateful day about keeping morale up and ending on a high note.

Yesterday’s social experience was also all about morale.

And a great leader.

Ironically, it was during one of the times I dread most. Playing the WAITING game.

Y’see, it starts with dance offs.

There are three teams that deal with each of the jungle wurms. Crimson, Cobalt and Amber.

In certain TTS runs, a crazy asura named Merforga (he of the Tequatl pre-flight briefing fame) leads the Crimson team.

Every time Amber and Crimson meet up to take down the first wurm, there is a small waiting period while the poor Cobalt team walks their long scenic beachfront route with an NPC who loves to sidetrek off crabs, risen and anything red within his sights.

During this time, Crimson and Amber face off with each other and DANCE. In a zerg, then in lines, and then with synchronized /dance * and even /rank offs.

Things soon evolved during the one and a half hour long wait in between jungle wurm spawns, when one team commander (I have no idea who first came up with the idea) decided to take his zerg on a showy synchronized movement display in circles around the other two stationary teams.

You know, the sort of thing all WvW zerg commanders do – “stay on my tag and follow.” Easily performed by anyone not AFK.

So, very soon, each team was taking it in turns to orbit each of the other two stationary teams, everyone cackling madly.

In all good nuclear escalation scenarios, princess doll tonics are involved.

Crimson popped a trading post and members gleefully spent 16 silver on a belated Wintersday celebration. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

Circular orbits with jumping princess dolls!

(If you’ve never heard them screaming, you can check out a sample in this video here. Now imagine about 20 of those running around in circles.)

The flock heads back after a job well done. (I clean forgot to screenshot during. Too busy laughing.)

The flock heads back after a job well done. (I clean forgot to screenshot during. Too busy laughing and circling and screaming like a demented little girl.)

Then yesterday, Merforga decided to bring a music bot into the Crimson team’s teamspeak channel. Where a gleeful half hour was spent in intra-team trolling of fairly ridiculous songs pilfered off Youtube. (Yes, there were rickrolls.)

And then there was Hodor.

Before you know it, a brilliant plan was hatched to rename the music bot Hodor and send it into the other team’s channels, merrily singing Hodor!

While they suffered a stampede of dolyaks.

Screen cap off Merforga's Twitch stream - You can watch the whole gleeful setup at http://www.twitch.tv/merforga1/b/497725115

Screen cap off Merforga’s Twitch stream – You can watch the whole gleeful setup at http://www.twitch.tv/merforga1/b/497725115 – the sound is a little screwed up by “User Joined/Left Your Channel”, folks who turned off that audio messaging got the full effect.

(And a naked tiger charr whose only excuse was that yours truly couldn’t open the trading post. It was down for my client. Much sadness. Still, on fours and hairy…)

I haven’t laughed as hard for a very very long time. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

It’s gotten me thinking very hard about the pros and cons of wait time, and creating experiences meant for very organized groups as opposed to the general majority. I’ll try to cover that in my next post – The Needs of the Many, The Needs of the Few (coming soonTM). (Update: Post is now here.)