GW2: Entertaining Oneself… The Champion Risen Archmage

championrisenarchmage

Grrr… This guy…

Looks small, packs a punch.

It struck me that the one part I was enjoying out of Wildstar’s dungeons – besides trying to get interrupts off successfully fast enough to save the group from a dismal wipe – was the amount of movement and reflexive dodging needed and the sensation of practicing and getting better at one’s timing, plus needing to understand and analyze exactly what each mob attack was doing because it was so punishing to ignore it.

By chance, while doing my dailies in GW2, I walked by the perpetually up Champion Risen Archmage in the Cursed Shores (assuming no champion train running, that is) and decided to give him a go.

Wow.

I ended up spending an hour there, by choice, and respawned about fifteen times from the nearby waypoint, having recreated a very similar feeling to your run of the mill PUG in Stormtalon’s Lair, with the added bonus of not having to wait 15+ minutes to even begin to attempt it, or having any ‘weak link’ scapegoat excuses that someone else was to blame.

This champion has it all, on demand.

A very quick firing small lightning bolt AoE… which hurts.

A bigger lightning storm AoE circle… which hurts like hell…

A lightning projectile that also freaking hurts…

And seemingly one or two other minor attacks that I haven’t really bothered to read yet, besides knowing one of them sorta corrupts the ground and applies two conditions.

He will test your dodging skills and mastery of timing intently, and punish like crazy if you screw up.

Which I did, often.

I am neither a condition thief with the benefit of toughness and lots of dodges, nor a zerk warrior utilizing an area where there were no respawning mobs and able to unleash heaps of damage in close range while still having a big health reservoir, good health regen, an evade and a block (ie. the two successful solo videos out there,) so I may have been trying this on voluntary hard and not-very-strategic mode.

What I ended up trying was just to plink away at range with my one-hand crit scepter and try to dodge every damn tell it had, staggering reflects, blocks and signet healing to recover from the many many accidents.

(In retrospect, maybe I should have tried shelter too.)

I was keenly aware that my timing wasn’t as picture perfect as it could have been, in theory.

Soon, the standard torch I ran around with in casual open world PvE was swapped in favor of the focus and the three blocks it provided.

I ended up staring at my traits and swapping the unused Powerful Blades (after attempting melee and blinds with it, I ate a couple of its projectiles and AoEs at such close range and decided against practising that at the time) for Signet Mastery, which boosted my signet heal recharge.

I started thinking I was running out of endurance way too quickly because I was so clumsy at this, and ate a 40% endurance regen food and put on an undead slaying potion, for kicks…

Biggest progress I made was around 50% of its health bar solo so far, but not for lack of trying, and I’m still dead certain I’m not staggering stuff properly (I tend to panic and start spamming when things go wrong.)

Most amusingly though, was that this attracted one or two Orr farmers when the archmage’s health started dropping, who seemed to be game enough to give a duo or trio a go.

It was somewhat gratifying to see that I was managing to survive long enough for them to take uninterrupted potshots at the champion, up until the point where I rolled a bit too far away and lost aggro from proximity, at which point they started being the focus of attention. And tended to drop after 2-3 AoEs they failed to dodge in time.

However, one ranger was fairly helpful and we actually successfully killed it in our impromptu duo attempt, as his pet actually took aggro some of the time and he managed to roll out of the AoE around 50% of the time.

Having that attention diverted from me gave me some breathing room and for my skills to recharge, ready to take over when the ranger inevitably went down. Since running to rez him would only mean unfriendly skies lightning aoe on both of us, I just ended up solo dodging it from the opposite side of the downed ranger and let him rez up again via his pet. Between that trading off of aggro and the additional damage from him, we managed a successful archmage duo.

Some day though… pulling off a solo would be fun.

And there’s also other classes and builds to try if my casual weak sauce one just isn’t up to the task.

Guess I know what else I can do when I get bored and want to get gud at dodging.

At a couple silver per waypoint (if you really screw up and don’t just flee to reset the fight) and no repair costs, it’s a lot cheaper in money and time spent than wiping repeatedly in Wildstar.

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GW2: Fun Need Not Necessarily Come From Winning

No doubt in my last post, you could tell that I was trying to shake off a significant self-inflicted “demoralized” debuff.

Most of it prompted by possibly too optimistic expectations. Guild War 2’s WvW scoreboard is extremely easy to pull up, and crystal clear on how many points exactly are being accrued by each server, and how much of a lead each one has.

When you play with a goal to try and nudge your server to the top of that lead, there’s a fairly high level strategy that has to be thought about – on how to best take points away from the other servers, how to keep your points, and how, if at all possible, to do this with the force you have available to you and can bring to bear.

When you’re playing solo, the typical state of affairs of an MMO player, sans those already with a regular play partner or group of friends, this can make you feel exceedingly helpless to affect anything on the scoreboard. Mostly you can’t, unless you’re really lucky and patiently try to wear down a supply camp that is unwatched by anybody (and how likely is that?)

When you’re playing within an aimless, unorganized pug zerg (or militia, if you’re feeling kind,) there’s the distinct sense of every man for himself, morale is shaky, and everyone is liable to either stay locked in combat (or spawn camped) for hours or wipe themselves attempting to autoattack a door down while defenders indulge in a happy shower of arrows from carts. I apparently learn faster than some other folk, because the futility of such a tactic becomes too obvious to me, and I end up hiding behind a wall sighing, wondering what now, or breaking off and ending up alone again.

When you’re running with a guild zerg, things get better, but can become just as frustrating if the communication isn’t clear, or if the strategy is poor or ill-chosen, leading to multiple wipes or failed attempts or even counter-productively affecting the scoreboard.

I bet members of raiding guilds would recognize similar problems, I’ve just never really been into the whole raiding scene.

Solutions apparently range from working patiently with the entire guild, teaching and hoping practice makes things improve, dumping them and jumping ship somewhere else, instigating conflict and drama through violent disagreement and anti-social actions, giving up and accepting that one’s guild is simply out of that league, etc.

Of course, the typical suggestion to an individual to make the effort, read guides and strategies, work on oneself, become good, get into a good well-organized guild (that somehow matches your play times exactly), get voicecomms, get a mic, etc. etc. so that one can achieve one’s goals and all that.

I had the luck to listen in on a very decisive leader running a small team out in WvW (he was bringing in pugs because he needed the numbers) and was very impressed with the organization and the plans and strategies. Not all of them worked out, but there was always a goal placed on the table and folks were doing their best to keep newbies up to speed, out of trouble, rescue men down, and basically, it was exciting and purposeful. It was fun.

If only it wasn’t an NA guild 12 hours transposed from my timezone… So attempting to join that on a permanent basis is out of the question.

Then again, I’m not sure I have or want to make that sort of commitment either. I avoided raiding because I didn’t want to be locked into a weekly schedule, and it’ll seem more than a little daft to aim for trying to be a hardcore professional on a WvW squad when it may involve much deeper commitment than I’m willing to make.

So… am I screwed? Doomed to an eternity of horribly, depressing losing and getting thrashed by people with more numbers on their side, more timezone than thou or whatever else the whiners claim?

It took some deep thinking to work through this, but a revelation eventually hit me. All I really need to do is work on reframing my perspective.

It’s useless to be upset by the actions of other people or how circumstances turn out, especially if you did your part in trying to make things better.

If you didn’t, and were casting blame elsewhere, then um, time to take a harder look at yourself and figure out what you can do.

Since I can’t affect the scoreboard very much at all by myself, I need to be more focused on the moment and improving my own play in that moment. I win when I do better than the last time, based on my own gameplay. It’s far better than trying to hang my ego on a combined score that changes like the wind beyond my control.

With this perspective, I’ve been having a much better time in WvW.

I asked myself, in the worse possible situation, what can a soloer do in WvW?

Hit and run attacks on dolyaks – better if they were due at some place where supply was needed, but even if not, it is personal practice for how quick you can kill one and be out of there. (Because the organized guilds / zergs will come to check on it eventually.)

Or assassinate a lone reinforcing straggler or two, better if in a spot where reinforcements someplace were needed, but again, practice, and some people like ganking.

Some PvE dynamic events and if you’re really lucky, a supply camp that is unwatched by anybody (barely ever happens.)

I proceeded to amuse myself for a good hour or so in a Borderlands with the Outmanned buff. It mostly consisted of farming nearby PvE mobs (with magic find gear, lol!) while waiting for a dolyak to pop and ninja offing it in between the camp and sentry, and quickly teleporting back to waypoint if things looked too scary (like a horde coming to check on the camp.) Once or twice, I even met a friend and we flipped the supply camp momentarily.

Why not? I’m not blocking anyone from queuing with my random playing around, the outmanned buff said loud and clear no one wanted in, and it was kinda thrilling. Like PvEing on an open world PvP server, where you have to constantly stay on alert. And it was useful for curing my fear and sense of demoralization, sort of like taking some power and control back.

I even made plans to get a more suitable profession, likely thief or mesmer, to do such things more easily when I feel like it. But hey, my chunky Charr Guardian with humongous spikes on his shoulders and a -flaming- sword while fighting managed well enough – talk about the epitome of unstealthy.

Now what about group fighting? Well, it is possible to focus on playing better as an individual even within one.

Yes, the strategy sucks. Yes, we are all going to die in horrible ways. Yes, some (a lot of) people won’t listen and will do stupid things and go off and rambo somewhere. Yes, the score won’t move worth a damn in the direction you really want it to move, and will probably go the other way.

But well, if you’re committed in some fashion, let’s say as part of a group action, why not work on performing your best while you’re there?

This can involve listening to orders better, doing them as quickly as possible, fighting better, dodging better, controlling better, identifying squishier targets and focusing better, not running into enemy AoE better, using friendly AoE fields better, weaving in and out of combat better, trying not to die better, and perhaps even flanking and pushing better (it’s fascinating how effective flanking can be sometimes, people tend to panic when getting hit from an unexpected direction and give ground.)

And even when you’re giving ground, there’s always choosing the next spot to retreat to better. Even as an all out rout, it can be a sort of moral victory if you pull five guys away from their main objective just to freaking hunt you down. Who knows, one day, it could be those crucial few seconds for your team hold out elsewhere because the reinforcements didn’t get where they were supposed to in time because they practiced the habit of ‘chase blindly into everything, omgz0rs, so many krait!’

There’s experimenting with different weapons or skills and learning how to use them best, and playing around with builds and traits in one’s spare time, or steadily upgrading one’s gear.

And when I think like that, I feel happier that I’m getting more personal practice in, even if it has to end up with me faceup on the ground eventually with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

Of course, it’ll be better once more folks get smarter, but that takes time and practice. And one can always begin with making oneself smarter through consistent play.

P.S. Karma count is now at 95k. If only that exotic armor karma vendor I’m eyeing wasn’t bugged this particular patch…