GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Liadri the Concealing Darkness

allthatforapatchofblack

If you ask me, all that shows is not how l33t someone is, but how goddamn pigheadedly stubborn and willing to throw money and time at the problem they are.

I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It's pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then have yours. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back.
I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It’s pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then talk to the ringmaster. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back. Three people also work and you can queue up beforehand for that.

I basically bought two stacks of watchwork off the TP and dedicated a holiday afternoon to banging my head against the boss until something stuck. I’m a little slow on the uptake and learning, so it took possibly 100+ tries. On the bright side, I now have basic Liadri phase 1 to a science and will be happy to share what I’ve been doing with you.

I’d like to thank my P/D condition thief for being the guinea pig, having 25% speed, swiftness on dodge, extra endurance recovery and stealth to pause the action some aided quite a bit in the learning process, but I kept running into the issue of not doing enough damage on phase 2 before dying. I’m just not as instinctively familiar with the class and skills and I think it shows.

Anyway, you’re not hear to listen to me blather on…

Phase 1 – How to Move On to the Next Phase As Efficiently As Possible

liadri-1

1) Move to the left of the first white patch

Your point of view will look something like this.
Your point of view will look something like this.

If you are lucky, the shadowy orb will spawn near here (it’s random and it pulling is the only thing that can screw up this strat, try again) and you can smash it with a hit. A targeted ranged attack can be obstructed, so use an AoE or a melee weapon. I used dagger 1 for the thief, and staff 1 for the guardian.

The idea is you want to start the Vision of Mortality clone approaching the light patch.

2) Do not get comfortable, Liadri’s AoE is about to fall down on your head. Dodge forwards towards the clone approaching you.

liadri-2

It’ll feel a bit scary but you should still have some distance from the clone. Let the AoE shower down behind you.

3) Then dodge backward into the same place you just left. Because AoE is now about to hit where you were standing.

All this time, the clone should be advancing toward you in a fairly straight line and should be about to run into the light patch.

The idea of the dodging is to evade past all the damage-over-time walking on the light patch does to you (as well as get out of the AoE shower.)

4) Pick up the first crystal. Swing towards the white patch, keeping Liadri on your left. Throw crystal at her.

liadri-4

This gives you a little distance from the clone behind you, enough time to grab the crystal and throw it at her without getting pwned by its touch.

5) You then want to head leftwards of the white patch. Give it a fairly wide berth for now.

Why? Because this is about to fall on your head if you stand too close to it.

liadri-5

6) Now you can move to the edge of the dome, behind the white patch, to lure the clone over. (There will be one on your left and right as well.)

liadri-6

This will be the time that tall characters and charr will rage about the camera angles. It really sucks in this position.

I’ve also encountered a cage or two where the white patch is damn close to the wall and you have to stand in it for a while. (Ouchies.) At least, I think it is the cage. I thought it was being on a charr at first, but I now suspect the cage. I’d switch cages, personally.

Just hold your ground and wait for the first clone to get into the patch, if your health isn’t too horrible.

You could also sorta kinda juke to the left and right of the patch and hope for a clone to get in, but the more deviations, the more chances something is going to go horribly wrong.

7) Grab crystal. Run towards Liadri, aiming to get past her a little. Be prepared to dodge forwards if/when AoE appears under you.

liadri-7

Because stuff will shower down as you are doing this, first here:

liadri-7b

Then here:

liadri-7c

8) Being in the safe spot gives you time to swing your camera back to look at Liadri and fling the second crystal at her.

You also want to look out for the orb at this point because it respawns around this time – when you’re about to throw the crystal and may screw you up with a pull. If you’re lucky, it will appear right with you, and you can throw the crystal, then whack it as you go past.

9) From safe spot, arc and approach the third patch but STOP just before you get there.

Because AoE is just about to cover the white patch area.

liadri-9

(Ignore the player and the position of the clones in this picture, his movement deviated from how I like to do it and they’re all a little out of position as result.)

10) Once the AoE clears, you should have free range to stand in the appropriate place to kite the next clone into the third patch.

liadri-10

(Same issue with the screenshot, the clones can be a lot closer to the patch by this point. The basic idea is the AoE is not falling where you will be messing around with the patch.

11) Grab third crystal. Move/dodge away from clones. Fling at Liadri and begin phase 2.

Ok, so I’m glossing over the tricky bit. The other clones will be very close at this point too and may cause death to the unwary. A thief can shadow refuge (or a shorter stealth if you like living on the edge) and halt all clones long enough to grab safely then be off. Other non-stealthy people may just have to eyeball it and see if you can grab and dodge before a clone gets too close.

If you miss, like I sometimes do, stumbling out of F pickup range, there is NO time to go back and try again. The crystal may also despawn by the time you putz around avoiding clones then re-approaching it. Abandon crystal and move to the next patch and try again. You’re on your own at that point. 🙂

Phase 2 – Where I Can Provide You The Theory But The Actual Doing May Cause Hair Loss from Frustration and Rage

So, yeah, once she eats three crystals, her invulnerable shield falls off, she’ll pause for a slight moment then begin a spin of some kind. After that, she’s after your ass and will be leaping toward you to attack with her whip, she applies cripple and weakness, and all the while the clones will still be after your hiney, and the shadow orbs will also be spawning to pull you and fuck up any nice pattern you try to fall into.

If there’s a pattern of orb spawning, I need to watch a lot more people attempt it to figure it out. So far it’s just been utter chaos for me.

I can, however, show you the pattern of the two AoE showers.

liadri-phase2a

My best suggestion, which isn’t much at this point, is to use the white patch as a cue that it’s probably a safe spot to start with. Probably. I mean, there’s a 50% chance of being right regardless, eh? And dodge if it isn’t. (Have dodge food on.)

liadri-phase2n

They alternate like so. So the THEORY seems to be that you want to move in either an anti-clockwise or clockwise pattern, step by step as the AoE shower alternates too.

Which will generally help you to sorta kinda kite all of them in a circle, but doesn’t really help you on a bad orb pull. Stability only goes so far, y’know. And the clones may/will get in the way of you ranging down Liadri too. And she’s busy getting in your face at the same time. Yeah, good luck.

I can make one further suggestion, which is to try to use the hexagonal grid as a system of landmarking where the heck you’re running. (It just occurred to me watching people and thinking.)

cage-zoning

There’s the center hexagon in red. There’s the inner hexagon ring in blue. The ranger I was watching was doing a fairly good job kiting in the outer hexagon ring in green.

The furthest unmarked ring near the cage edge is probably too far to run around in time, but hey, if you can make it work, by all means.

I personally found it easier in the blue ring, or at the boundary of the blue/green area, because slow guardian is slow. Even with retreat and save yourselves and dodge food. But the caveat is that they all get in your face because they have less distance to run too and it is very scary, very chaotic and very very hard! *rages*

If you’re better at balancing aiming one’s camera at Liadri, and aiming forward in time to get to the next safe spot, you may find phase 2 easier than me. I will cheerfully bow to a better player. (Plz lemme know ur tips for 8 orb Liadri. Thx.)

I honestly still don’t really know how I lucked into a success. Just persistence, really. Set her on fire with F1. Hit her with scepter in berserk gear. Try to immob, which gives vulnerability. Space out shouts for swiftness and condition clear (cripples, youch.) Save smite for the orb if I actually saw it spawn amidst the chaos.

Traits were generally the same as the one I used for the candidate trials, except I moved 10 from Zeal into Honor for Pure of Voice and switched out Powerful Blades since no sword. Staff and scepter/focus. I just popped in Signet Mastery to make Signet of Resolve recharge at 32 seconds, because I like emergency burst heals. Others may find the Shelter block more handy.

Radiance 30: VI – Blind Exposure, II – Signet Mastery, XI – Right Hand Strength

Honor 30: II – Superior Aria, VIII – Empowering Might, XI – Pure of Voice

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

All shouts – Retreat, Stand Your Ground, Save Yourselves.

Renewed focus is a good emergency invulnerable panic button if you’re caught in an AoE shower, but frankly, I can never get to it in time because I was too busy and confused trying to dodge already. Working on getting better.

Apologies for no first-person perspective screenshots, but I realized it was screwing up my rhythm and my toaster (and me) would probably die if I tried to FRAPS it.

Credit goes to Myrkridian, whose thief video of handling Liadri gave me the initial inspiration for continuing to plod away at her for umpteen times and eventually develop a method for handling phase 1 without needing to time dodges with pinpoint precision.

Of course, this is not the only way to attempt Liadri, but just sharing the results of literally nigh unto 100 tickets spent in repeated attempts. Because I am a slow kitten and too n00b to do it in like the first try or even a mere seventeen attempts. But hey, if I can do it with lots of persistence, you can too!

Best of luck to everyone attempting her!

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GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Punishing vs Difficult

I’m sure everyone has already seen the Extra Credits’ video “When Difficult is Fun” that creates a distinction between games that are difficult and games that are punishing.

(In case you haven’t, I embed it here for your reference.)

We will be using “punishing” and “difficult” in that context in today’s discussion of the Queen’s Gauntlet activity that is part of the Queen’s Jubilee update.

Difficult Aspects

(Good, if you like that sort of thing)

  • Each boss has a mechanic or gimmick that is consistent and generally plays fair, so defeating them is mostly a matter of picking the right traits/build/gear/profession and playing the encounter long enough to learn their patterns. (One may, however, argue regarding the possibility of players not being able to afford the correct conjunction of characters and the secondary requirement of having sufficient arcade/action reflexes for certain fights. But I suppose for optional challenging content, such are the boundaries that are already laid out.)
  • Some of the bosses’ attacks are well-telegraphed. (Halmi Hammerfell, the first hammer boss, has a very clear hammer windup and frontal cleave, Dead Eye’s laser shot is decent if a zerg isn’t under you.)
  • The bosses are generally quite well-arranged to ramp up steadily in difficulty (tier 1 is fairly doable, tier 2 is more moderately taxing, etc. T3’s last boss spikes upward pretty hard though.)

Punishing Aspects

(Not so good, even if you masochistically persist past them)

  • Each iterative try is gated by a decent chunk of time – by the run back from a waypoint if someone isn’t standing by to rez you (cue money sink, don’t forget repairs), by waiting for one of six cages to be freed up, by needing to farm the group zerg event for tickets.
  • One shot kills for making a mistake – either tactically misreading the mechanics or just not being physically adept enough – lead promptly to the above repeated time-waster.
  • A few bosses are not sufficiently well-explained in their tips – leading to either trial and error or out-of-game reading to learn their mechanics. (I’m thinking of Salazan and Liandri in specific. “Lethal fire circle” produces an instinctual response to dodge out of dangerous looking circles, much like the rest of the game has taught us. This produces the feeling of a dev busy trolling players when one finally realizes that one does not, in fact, have to dodge out of the ring, in order to survive. As for Liadri, well, talk about ridiculously complex and requiring someone to spell it out in point form out-of-game.)
  • Some of the bosses’ attacks are NOT well-telegraphed, possibly due to small model size and/or camera angles in the dome. (Suriel the Blazing Light? She’s a female human, holding a book most of the time. How the hell are you supposed to see her Solar Flare attack? Someone told me she makes a cross with her hands or something. I’m at 1200 range, how the fuck would I be able to see that? I just used her pausing and staying still as a cue, mixed with lots of guesswork. As for Liadri’s AoE, it is obvious it is made to exactly blend in with the floor grating. Trololol, I think a dev would be saying.)
Seriously, look. The woman's less than an inch tall on my screen. How to see her animation?
Seriously, look. The woman’s less than an inch tall on my screen. How to clearly see her animation? While circling like a madman and trying to kite her into a hard-to-see dark patch and doing one’s best to not die. With 13k hp. I ended up hogging the patch more often than not and just being all heal-y guardian over the damage.
  • The zerg below can produce lag, visual culling or significant drops in framerates – which make reading animations and dodging in time extra-challenging, particularly to those with higher latency or playing on toasters.
With FPS like this, who needs enemies? It's probably a miracle I've gotten as far as I have,.
With FPS like this, who needs enemies? It’s probably a miracle I’ve gotten as far as I have.

Ambivalent but Interesting Enough to Note Aspects

  • The time limit creates an interesting juxtaposition between trying to balance survivability and damage. It serves to ensure the wait time for each individual encounter is not too long. But it would be much better if the time limit were actually clearly ticking down somewhere in the UI, similar to the Aetherblade instance, so players have a better sense of how long they have.

(And really, no one gives a shit if you fall down from the cage or not, no one in the zerg frankly gives a fuck, there’s a hundred and one dead guys dying arbitrarily from the “anti-zerg” mechanics, there’s so much visual chaos and culling going on, and everyone is really looking at the right side of their screen watching the loot to pour in to care about some stranger dying.)

  • Enabling spectators also leads to a curious juxtaposition of interests, On one hand, it could give rise to a small friendly community of players exchanging tips, sharing frustrations, cheering each other on and helping each other rez. I’ve seen one or two guilded parties occupy an arena this way, enjoying a group outing even if only one person is fighting at a time. On the other hand, for introverted soloists, some may not care for being spectated or find it embarrassing. Plus for self-centered loner types, they really don’t give a fuck either about some other guy’s fight, good or bad, they just want to find an -empty- arena to try -their- personal fight again ASAP.
  • That quick update development time? Yep, there’s a few bugs.
This cage had oozes that didn't go away. Liadri + oozes providing AoE healing = difficulty that breaks any measuring scale you use. Wasted ticket there. (Well, I had to try to see if the oozes would hit her. They didn't.) This guy is now finding out that the first boss with oozes ain't so fun either, I suppose.
This cage had oozes that didn’t go away. Liadri + oozes providing AoE healing = difficulty that breaks any measuring scale you use. Wasted ticket there. (Well, I had to try to see if the oozes would hit her. They didn’t.)
This guy is now finding out that the first boss with oozes ain’t so fun either, I suppose.

Personally, I don’t mind a hard fight or repeated tries at it. I appreciate that this has been sectioned off into its own minigame tab for achievements, which at least puts it into a different category in my mind, though this would be much nicer as permanent content so that one could come back to it at leisure, without worrying about queues or not being good enough or equipped enough at this point in time.

I’m not fond of the “farm this first in order to do what you really want” delaying mechanic, but because the group activity is so mindlessly rewarding, I am willing to forgive it.

In a sense, it serves to enforce a change of pace so that things do not get too frustrating. (But lowering iteration times would also minimize frustration and reduce the punishing aspect, while maintaining the difficulty of a solo fight as a challenge.)

I do wish however that the fights were instanced, I can’t shake the sense that I’m fighting at an extreme disadvantage between my toaster computer’s specs, my high latency due to geographic locations, plus throwing in a WvW-sized zerg arbitrarily underneath me at times. I barely break 20 FPS at the best of times, and have hovered around 10-12 at peak hours – which made attempts rather costly and eventually resulted in me just zerging and saving tickets for tries at more friendly off-peak timings.

I don’t know if I’m going to manage all the Queen’s Gauntlet achievements, but I’m still generally quite calm about the whole affair.

I think it helps that this was introduced at the start, meaning four weeks to work on it, rather than two. In a month, I find it realistic enough a goal to level and gear a specific character to 80 if one was really determined on getting through this, whereas two weeks would be a hectic rush. A number of people have also managed to conquer the last boss in a day or two, so it seems there will be sufficient time to spread specific gearing and trait strategies around.

And there have been hints that it is likely to return, possibly on a yearly basis – so it does not seem like this will be arbitrarily forever out of reach if not achieved this go around, which really helps the OCD.

Full disclosure: I’m currently still stuck on Liadri. Nearly all the bosses were done with a berserker guardian.

Except the penultimate boss of the Norn and Chomper, which gave me a majorly hard time on the guardian, which led to a rage-spending moment of buying my new level 80 necromancer (yes, in the past five days before patch, that’s another personal goal that got done, whee) shiny berserker gear, haphazardly traiting for life-leeching high damage minions and brute forcing my way past that encounter.

I would like to return with a later post with tips, but we’ll see. The framerate lag and necessity of farming tickets makes repeat tries for screenshots and the task of learning the encounter well enough to provide suggestions extremely challenging. I might just settle for copycatting a better player and lucking into achieving stuff once – which already sounds difficult enough to me.

GW2: Queen’s Jubilee – Opening Thoughts

Go #TeamKiel! We won!

Here’s looking forward to some delicious Thaumanova lore, and hopefully some fun developments in the Living Story with Kiel in a Council seat.

I’m open to seeing her continue to develop as a good-guy Robin Hood, with possible potential fall into bitter jadedness (think GW1 and Gwen) or conflict between priorities and obligations to Magnus or turn out to be an ebil sleeper agent who tricked us all and will become our nemesis. Or whatever.

Should be more interesting than mercantile minded Gnashblade anyway, he’ll work better as a bitter villain out for revenge.

I did, however, get majorly spooked on first seeing Stay Puff Ellen.
I did, however, get majorly spooked on first seeing Stay Puff Ellen. Egads, those scarlet eyes.
I had to cozy up to her and check carefully once more. Nope, still blue. (Unless those are contacts. *twitch*)
I had to cozy up to her and check carefully once more. Nope, still blue. (Unless those are contacts. *twitch*)
I backed you too. Just sayin'. That's some 795+ mouse clicks, 1590+ votes, and 8 gold if I vendored them post-patch instead...
I backed you too. Just sayin’. That’s some 795+ mouse clicks, 1590+ votes, and 8 gold if I vendored them post-patch instead… Be nice if you at least said “thank you.”

Then it was onto the Queen’s Jubilee and Divinity’s Reach.

First glimpse of a balloon was glorious. I left the reset graphics settings at crash-prone and lucked into one that was being attacked by an Aetherblade airship.
First glimpse of a balloon was glorious. I left the reset graphics settings at crash-prone and lucked into one that was being attacked by an Aetherblade airship. Talk about visible from afar. Superb!
This was, of course, required screenshotting. Lovely eagle dome.
This was, of course, required screenshotting. Lovely eagle dome.

I quite enjoyed the storytelling of the Opening Ceremony instance. I think they’re getting better at it, with good pacing, some character development and dialogue moments, mixed in with the requisite action. And in an instance, one has the privacy to immerse into the world and roleplay a little.

dontmindme
Don’t mind me. I’m just the unofficial representative. No Legion affiliation whatsoever. I’m, er, her bodyguard. Yes. That’s it. Like that baby devourer over there. *chirp*
Same ol' Faren. Still failing to pick up ladies.
Same ol’ Faren. Still failing to pick up ladies with extended exposition.
And here we go...
And here we go… Battle time.

We got a glimpse of a suspicious “pillar person,” enough to see that she’s wearing scarlet and looks like a dark elf (er, Sylvari.)

Scarlet? Is dat you?
Scarlet? Is dat you?

Looking forward to more story developments in the coming weeks.

As for the other stuff I tried out, the Torchbearer activity was quite fun.

Just difficult enough to make the first try at it potentially not succeed, but a few (meaning 1-3) subsequent tries would generally get you the achievement. Talking to the priests to get the city speed boost helps, and equalizes the playing field, since my guardian is pretty darned slow otherwise. It wasn’t insanely frustrating or rage-inducing, which is good when it’s classified as a seasonal kind of achievement and lumped in with the Queen’s Jubilee. Something casuals can do in a play session quite easily, I think.

Crown Pavilion group arena… what can I say?

I don't know why I bothered to blur out the names. We're all looking at the right side of the screen at the loot, anyway. It's just pouring in.
I don’t know why I bothered to blur out the names. We’re all looking at the right side of the screen at the loot, anyway. It’s just pouring in.

It’s really hard to criticize a loot pinata.

Goodness knows what’s going to happen to the economy and if there’s going to be runaway inflation as a result of the next month, but I’m not complaining. Southsun Instigators, part deux?

Yes, please.

I am totally getting my money’s worth out of my magic find exotics/ascended, even if the subsequent patch will revise it like how they’ve throttled goldfind this patch.

I’ll just quirk an ironic eyebrow at the supposed anti-zerg mechanics.

On one hand, it doesn’t seem like it’s working. Players are throwing an immense number of bodies at it and pretty much overwhelming it through spamming 1 and all the natural buff/debuff of classes working in sync and having sufficient critical mass to rez each other and deal enough damage via autoattacks.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t nearly be as fun if it involved massive group coordination. (I still remember City of Heroes’ Incarnate Trials with ZERO fondness for the necessity of herding 12-24 players through even basic boss mechanics.)

And there are places where one sorta kinda has to read the red circles and stay out of them, or suffer a debuff (of birds) and have to dodge to get rid of them, or not stand in the lava font or die, which basically do knock out parts of the zerg who aren’t paying attention.

Some attacks are more telegraphed than others, though. (Like that centaur barrage, it’s way OP, there’s barely any time to dodge out of that hail of arrows.)

As for the improved particle effects clarity in crowds... er, yeah.
As for the improved particle effects clarity in crowds… er, yeah. If the boss has any special animations, I’m definitely not seeing it. You can blame my toaster. No probs. Anyone want to donate to the “Get Spikey Charr a Toaster Belonging to This Decade” fund?

Whatever.

Still not complaining.

When yellow rares pop with good frequency and greens and blues fall out of the sky, plus new champion loot bags and seasonal watchwork tokens, and it just takes pressing 1 and moving around with a modicum of attention to hoover it all in, even the most staunchly antisocial person will make an exception once in a while.

If Gnashblade bribed like this, even I would happily go over to the dark side.

If it helps, I saw repeated statements over mapchat that a number of players were really enjoying this and having a GREAT time, and just going by the crowds, it’s pretty obvious it’s very popular. Just goes to show what a majority of players really like, huh? Easy fun.