GW2: Battle for Lion’s Arch Guide – Fight Tactics and Tips (Spoilers?)

If only I could see the Scarlet fight at higher graphic settings...

Spoiler warning: Your definition of what can be spoiled may or may not include guides that highlight battle tactics and what to look out for.

I didn’t actually think that it would be necessary to write a guide about the fight mechanics for this event.

Then I popped into several random overflows and read a couple blogs from those who play GW2 at a very infrequent, casual level and decided that my personal perspective was -definitely- being colored by my new habit of logging onto the TTS teamspeak, and joining the group of 100-200+ players there who try their best to cram into an overflow together, linked by voice chat, with the ability to hear and give directions and organize on the fly without having to lift fingers from the movement keys.

Objectively, if you log in, completely new to the event, without even the experience of having done the previous Marionette or Tequatl or Wurm fights (or fractals or dungeons, say), the complexity of the mechanics, so different from regular open world PvE, coupled with the utter chaos of having 50-150 players in the same spot, the encounter is probably going to be very confusing.

Let’s add on the possibility that one’s graphic settings might be set too high for your computer to handle such huge numbers of people in one spot. Folks who don’t regularly WvW or attend events where zergs congregate may suddenly be faced with choking CPUs. (I feel your pain. My FPS hovers around 20 or less, thanks to a cruddy CPU bottleneck, on lowest settings.)

That’s a pretty tough situation to try and figure out fight mechanics, on your own, on the fly.

And few people seem to be teaching in map chat just yet.

Maybe they think it’s obvious. Maybe they just can’t say anything because they can’t lift their fingers from their movement and dodge keys without dying.

So. Guide.

Or rather, random tips and rambling because I haven’t figured out how comprehensive this needs to be.

Assault Knights

At :55 every hour, three assault knights will spawn at their locations in Lion’s Arch. Blue, Green, and Red.

knightlocations

(Blue is Dynamic. Green is Synergetic. Red is Static. Remembering this may come in handy later on, but for now, let’s use the easy color coding.)

On the hour, they turn aggressive and players can attack.

The newest hotfix is discouraging player zerging behavior by ensuring only 50 players can damage a knight at any one time. Players must pick up the colored buff from the circles around the knight before they can do any damage to the knight.

calibration

Note the “Synergetic Calibration” number in the event UI.

This is the number of players that can still go to the event and pick up the buff.

If it is at 0, find another knight.

assaultknightbar

Reading their target bar tells you that they change modes.

In their first mode, they remove and reflect conditions. This means whatever conditions you do to it, it’s going to fly off the knight and ricochet onto other players or yourself.

PLEASE, before your next fight, take the time to read your weapon skills and figure out what weapons you have do conditions and which don’t, and consider using the appropriate ones.

Also press H and read your stats and see how much condition damage stat you have. The higher it is, the more careful you want to be at this point, because it’s going to make life difficult for folks around you. (And if they keel over dead, the knight is not going to go down within the time limit.)

At 75% health (and 25% health), they change modes to now become condition-sensitive.

assaultknightbar2

See those two new icons? Mouse over them and they’ll tell you that it’s now in condition crash mode.

NOW is the time to switch weapons and let those conditions fly.

The more conditions that pile onto the knight, the higher the red shield buff icon goes, all the way to 50.

While I haven’t directly contrasted the damage numbers yet, I believe this increases the amount of damage that one can do to a knight. (So it appears anyhow, because it is possible to burn through the knight’s hp quite fast when it is in this mode, especially if folks switch to melee when they can and/or use consumables.)

The knight will alternate back to condition reflect mode once more at 50%, and then to condition crash again at 25%.

extractionattack

To make life more interesting, the knight has an Extraction attack which is a big AoE pull, into melee range, where it will then proceed to start beating up on people with knockdown and rather wide cleaving high damage attacks.

This should be DODGED.

Suggestions that have all worked for me, include:

  • Once you see the big orange AoE circle, count to 3, then dodge.
  • Once you see the big orange AoE circle, wait for it to disappear, then dodge. (Most reliable for me, personally.)
  • Once you see the big orange AoE circle, wait for the knight to jump up into the air, and dodge. (Slightly iffy with my latency.)
  • Or if you want to be fancy, you will note that the center of the circle is actually safe from the pull. If you’re at mid-range, you can dodge forward into the safe zone, chill out for a bit, and then dodge back out again before the knight starts doing massive melee damage for a while. (If you’re in melee range, you’re fine from the pull, just watch that health bar when the knight starts swinging its big hammer around.)

If you do get yanked, please hammer your dodge key and get out of melee range double quick. Use a stun break if you’re knocked down. The good news is that the crazy melee damage seems to have been tweaked down post-hotfix or more delayed, so one has more time to retreat.

It does seem possible to melee the knight at certain points (which I am still trying to figure out  precisely when.) It seems safest to be at her back (facing those luscious buttocks), but note that there are points where the knight does hit for very high damage and it is best not to stick around at those times.

When all the knights are defeated, collect the three colored buffs that are on the ground to form the white prime buff, which will let you enter Scarlet’s Breachmaker via the convenient nearby portal.

Scarlet Phase 1 – Prime Hologram

There is a safe period of 5 minutes from the time the first Assault Knight dies. If you board the drill before this period is up, the fight will not have begun, there will be time to switch weapons, gear, traits, skills, whatever, or communicate and discuss tactics with the people around you.

If the gap between the first and last knight going down is longer than 5 minutes, chances are very likely that you’ll load right into a fight that has already begun. (And right into a laser AoE. Tough luck on that achievement.)

primehologram

The fight actually ramps up quite slowly to get you used to the mechanics. (Which is all very well when playing it as intended, but less so when loading in mid-battle.)

Collect all three colors to create the white prime attunement buff that lets you do the maximum damage to the prime hologram.

Collecting at least one color will allow you to do -some- damage to the prime hologram, though if you’re going for the In Tune achievement, you need to match the color exactly.

Attacking with no attunement will not do any damage, and give you stacks of a counter. If it reaches 10, you get damaged and knocked down.

noattunement

Don’t let it get to 10. (And if you’re going for the achievement, you can’t get this ever. Turn off auto-attack to prevent accidents.)

It is not possible to leave the platform and come back again, so do try to rez downed players whenever possible. If you are dead, all hope is not lost, even if all players ignore you, one of the named NPCs may come by and be your personal hero and get you back on your feet again.

The Prime Hologram will shoot prime laser AoE blasts which are cued by big rectangular orange AoE blocks, and then linger around as a patch of damage for a while.

It is possible to dodge/evade over these patches of damage, with only a small amount of damage, to collect the buffs. (Unless you’re going for the corresponding achievement, in which case, it is best to avoid all sources of damage from the Prime Hologram.)

It is also possible to run through the center, where the laser AoE does not reach, to get to the colored buffs.

However, be on the lookout for the -other- attack the Prime Hologram has.

primeholocircleaoe

Which is a circular AoE that does a Prime Laser Blast of some sort, right in the center, doing damage and radial knockback.

Sometimes, this orange circle doesn’t render for me, so I would advise people with similar problems to look out for the prime hologram’s animation tell before dashing through the center for that last yummy color.

-It rises up and begins floating off the ground.- Expect it to come down with a bang. Don’t be there during that time.

As the Prime Hologram loses health, the amount of laser blasts flying around will grow more numerous. The colored buff circles will be spaced in much more annoying fashion. Repulsive circular domes will be obstacles in your path and knock you around if you run into them without stability. Scarlet will come down from her platform and troll people by being an extra target (whose health bar seems rather impossible to scratch) and targeting a random person with a bomb icon and ticking AoE to get away from.

Basically, a lot more moving parts to keep track of, until it’s defeated.

Scarlet Phase 2 – Three Colored Holograms

The Prime Hologram will split up into three colored holograms: blue, green and red.

Blue is Dynamic. Green is Synergetic. Red is Static.

Each requires the corresponding color buff to be picked up to do damage to it.

red

Red is designed more for ranged, imo. (Though it is possible to melee, with interruptions.)

It shoots projectiles which create fire ground AoEs when they land. (I’m not 100% sure, but perhaps these can be reflected.)

It will also do a rolling ground shockwave and air clap that the Molten Berserker from the Molten Alliance uses. Jump/dodge the ground shockwave, and don’t jump into the air clap.

green

Green is designed more for melee, imo. (Though it is possible to range, with interruptions.)

From time to time, it will pop up the reflect shield that the Toxic Alliance krait nimross has, which will happily send all projectiles you fire straight back into you. (Or perhaps some poor bastard standing in front of you.)

Mid-range is impeded by the presence of the toxic spores which grow periodically and explode in an AoE when a player gets close.

meleegreen

To me, it’s best to dodge roll in, past the toxic spores, and position oneself so that one is not caught by any exploding circular AoEs, and then go nuts in melee range inside the reflect shield.

However, players still need to be alert as one player will occasionally be marked with a pulsing AoE that does damage to anyone else nearby. If this is you, don’t stand around near other players. Move away please.

blue

Blue is made for condition damage people.

It has stacks of a condition shield, which requires conditions to be thrown on before the shield dissipates.

It has very high toughness, so power builds will be doing some tens or hundreds of damage to the hologram only. Still, every little bit helps to whittle away at it. Expect blue to take much longer to go down than the other two holograms and adjust accordingly.

(Condition damage users will probably want to prioritize blue first and get all those high condition damage stacks layered on it before the hoi polloi come in and ruin it with their hefty 0 condition damage and rampant mis-use of condition applying skills.)

bluecone

Blue also does a wide cone attack. To avoid it more easily, it’s best to be in melee or mid-range, so that there’s less distance to roll before reaching safety.

It is best to defeat all holograms at the same time (or rather, within 30s-1min of each other) so that it goes straight into phase 3 and does not spawn additional smaller holograms.

Given sufficient time to recover, each defeated hologram will split into six micro-holograms. Mis-timing the simultaneous defeat can lead to significant nuisance factor as 18 small holograms mill around each other, needing the correct color buff to be damaged, and being very hard to tell apart beyond a colored indicator atop each one that can still be damaged.

A working strategy at the moment is for the zerg to all attack red until its health is low, then move on to green until its heath is low, then cycle around to blue to kill it. Once it is dead, the zerg splits to take down the remaining sliver of health red and green has.

(Alternate strategies can be to take down each color one at a time, so that the micro-holograms can be zerged down without too much mixing around, or in the worse case scenario, slowly whittling down 18 micro-holograms until they’re all dead. Obviously, these are more time-consuming and may risk exceeding the time limit.)

Scarlet Phase 3 – Ultraviolet Prime Hologram

The last phase is surprisingly easy for a decentralized zerg mind to handle.

Laser AoEs will divide up the platform into multiple small safe areas. The zerg naturally spreads out.

Small microprime holograms will spawn. All players will already have the white prime attunement buff.

The goal: Kill all the microprime holograms. This will steadily damage the big one. Three rounds of this are needed.

Microprime holograms shoot a small rectangular laser AoE. Defeated holograms will explode with a circular AoE. Don’t stand in any of the orange AoEs. Kill anything small and red-named near you.

Assuming you haven’t run out of time, that’s it! You’ve humbled Scarlet! Follow her into the end instance to finish her off.

OH, AND DON’T FORGET TO LOOT YOUR REWARD CHEST.

Which is between the middle where the big hologram was, and the door that Scarlet leaves into. A random person in one of my parties was -very- miffed that he didn’t see it before jumping right into the instance. No way back.

This is perhaps more rambling than usual, mostly because the mechanics seem very learnable via just being there and reading tooltips and going through the fight a few times, so I’m really not sure what is obvious or not obvious, and what should be stressed or not.

But if it helps someone who had information overload during the chaos, especially if it helps them enjoy the fight more as a result, then writing this would be worth it. 🙂

GW2: Why the Current Scarlet Fails As a Compelling Villain

Nope, she's not here either. Color me unsurprised.

Much has been said about the absurdity of her genius and the amount of suspension of disbelief required to take her seriously. We won’t rehash that argument today.

Her Harley Quin personality is a matter of personal taste. Again, not the key issue, despite it being a fond target for folks who simply dislike her.

In literature, the literary element conflict is an inherent incompatibility between the objectives of two or more characters or forces… The literary purpose of conflict is to create tension in the story, making readers more interested by leaving them uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail.

Wikipedia on Conflict (narrative)

Herein lies the true problem.

What exactly is Scarlet’s objective?

We. Still. Don’t. Know.

Without this clarity, we do not have any CONFLICT.

Without conflict, there is no tension. No suspense. And no damn interest in the story.

Players cannot oppose Scarlet’s objectives if we don’t know what she’s up to. We can’t be the villain to her hero (or vice versa) if we have no clue as to her motivations.

 

scarletsmysteryobjective

We have to stop her! Apparently.

From doing what though? Dunno. Graffiting the landscape? Wait and see, I guess.

And she’s certainly not opposing us, is she?

Despite being supposedly set up as the villain of the Living Story.

After all, who exactly is the protagonist of the Living Story?

Is it us, the players?

We began with pretty much no objective. Our destiny was to be fighting dragons and we defeated Zhaitan (but stupidly forgot to burn or even check on the body.) On to the next dragon, right?

Mysterious things happen and our objective becomes find out what is going on. Obstacles set up in our path mostly involve wading through a sea of red names with no real setbacks and collecting a drip feed of information as the writers felt like giving them to us. Certainly, Scarlet wasn’t actively preventing us from finding out what was going on. She just stands around giggling, being mysterious and telling us it’s all going to plan, toodle-loo.

Somewhere along the line, most players’ objectives have converted to catch and beat the hell out of Scarlet and her minions because they’re bloody annoying.

While admittedly she remains elusive, thanks to deus ex Arenanet, players have been galloping along a wave of success with very little ups-and-downs (innumerable Molten facilities trashed, clone armies of Aetherblades farmed, Queen assassination attempt foiled, more rustbuckets left lying in pieces, giant krait tower strewn about the landscape in even more massive pieces, etc.)

Scarlet’s visible successes appears to be several new factions-of-the-month, a dead Lion’s Arch councilor whom we’d never heard of (promptly replaced by another), the removal of Faren’s clothing, and some homeless quaggans.

Oh, the villainy...
Oh, the villainy…

We cannot suffer a story setback if we have no clue what she’s gotten away with. She could be building a giant molten toxic twisted steam dragon golem airship in her super-secret base in the Mists for all we know.

After all, she’s gotten away with murder and graduating from three Asuran colleges. In her backstory. Behind-the-scenes. Read the website, thanks.

But without visible setbacks, there is no perceived threat or tension to the storyline.

Nor are we really uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail here, right?

Game-wise, the player is bound to prevail eventually.

Story-wise, she -could- prevail, except we don’t even know what she’s prevailing over. We’re reaching the end of the story and we still have no bloody clue.

The best villains are those we can empathize with, almost get into their skin and understand. Their motivations are clear.

They may go about achieving their objective using very questionable means, which morally, the heroes are bound to oppose, but most don’t go about what they do for shits and giggles. They have a compelling need to do what they do.

Magneto believes the war of humans vs mutants is inevitable, and that homo superior will eventually win. He’s just hastening the process and defending his kind.

Hannibal Lecter is a super-intelligent and urbane sociopath who likes the taste of human flesh and doesn’t have moral compunctions against ridding the world of stupid and rude people.

To bring it back to Guild Wars examples, Vizier Khilbron sank an entire nation. Why? To stop the charr invasion. For his god and for power and eternal lichdom.

As for his god, Abaddon, well, nevermind that he’s a murdering psychopath, he’s been -betrayed- and -backstabbed- by those dirty Five Human Gods and chucked into a plane of eternal Torment, so -of course- he wants revenge.

Minister Caudecus is wise and beloved by his supporters, especially among the nobility. He’s just politically opposed to Queen Jennah’s decisions and enough of a human supremacist to prefer dealing with cutthroat bandits than with charr.

Ajax Anvilburn, on the other hand, is a charr supremacist who can’t let go of the war either.

Kudu is researching Elder Dragons. Important research that can’t be disrupted or delayed for such minor things like moral qualms regarding the use of lesser species to accumulate further knowledge.

Mad King Thorn wants OUT. (And a joke that kills you.)

Bloody Prince Thorn wants OUT and to show daddy who’s boss.

Scarlet has no such motivation made clear, beyond apparently keeping one step ahead of the players and laughing at them. Her primary purpose appears to be trolling people. We call that a childish griefer, not a compelling villain.

Oh, and fusing seemingly random things together, I suppose. For research purposes. Because this somehow holds the key to… what? Leylines of magical energy? Did she get cheated by Zommoros once upon a time? Did she fuse her brain with an asura?

Maybe she found some really good weed when she looked into the Eternal Alchemy.

GW2: The Nightmares Within the Tower

The calm before the toxic storm...

A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.

Murphy’s Laws of Combat

No, really. Stop running. Start fighting!

Ok, so I did contribute about four blue skulls’ worth of zerker guardian trying to do the “I don’t need to run faster than those two Elites, I just need to run faster than YOU” thing, following the zergling impulse of go fast, rush past “trash” and trying to group up with those further ahead.

All of it on the death trap known as the third floor, where everybody but me seemed to -not- see the air canister “safe zones” and continued dashing ahead while I slowed down and was torn between trying to catch a breath and fight off a zerg-spawned worth of mobs by myself (not happening) or catching up with the panicked mob of players milling around lost and hallucinating while twisted clockwork spawned in, eager to take vengeance for all those prior failed invasions and trying to survive with blown cooldowns and not many more heals or blocks or invulnerable left (s’ not happening either.)

It took about that length of time to realize that every event was locking the doors and preventing forward progress via running, and that all those screaming over mapchat that this was too awfully hard were doing so because we players as a group were applying the absolutely wrong strategy to navigating the Tower of Nightmares.

Selfishness leads to a healthy chance at dying off by yourself. Teamwork gets you up. (Both up from downed and literally up to the top.)

I can see my house from here! Forgot my keys though...
I can see my house from here! Forgot my keys though…

At one point, I tried a group recruitment message and got a total of two people joining a party, which worked right up to the midway point where they decided to fall behind and jump into a nightmare chamber (cancel popup) while the immediate collective of individuals I was following was still pushing on.

I gave up with formal grouping after that, since it wasn’t any guarantee that the group would stick together. The public informal groups of whoever was in the vicinity did just fine. (For the record, that collective made it right to the top.)

Besides, killing everything gives you more chances to pop neat stuff. Like key parts, a recipe for an infinite krait tonic, and so on.

One day later, when I decided to have a change of pace and bring my zerker necro in, it felt like more people had figured this out and had started to spontaneously group up and kill stuff. (Or maybe they mistook all my minions for a zerg. Whatever works.)

I'd watch the dodge key there, if I were you.
I’d watch the dodge key there, if I were you.

I like the Tower.

I really do.

Ravious says GW1 players are comparing the Tower of Nightmares to the Underworld and Fissure of Woe instances of yore.

Really? I felt those instances were a lot harder and more time-consuming, possibly because I was trying to solo them with a not-at-all min-maxed loadout of heroes and had to take my slow and steady time with them. (One death means you’re out, when you’re the only player on the team.)

To me, this update feels like another do-over.

Lost Shores – Assault on the Karka Queen, as having listened to their players and not made it a one-time one-off affair, open-world and encouraging groups of 10-30 to work together instead of having 100-200 players corralled into the same dynamic event fighting lag as the enemy.

Sure, this means that occasionally groups of players who are a little less well-informed or well-versed with the ways of the tower will encounter a chaotic experience of mass deaths, but as Wyldkat, a Tarnished Coast resident, often likes to say, “Live and learn. Die, and learn faster.”

Have I mentioned how utterly awesome the instance scaling is?

Let me correct that, then.

Solo to five players!

I get to feel like a hero in my own story if I want to!

I get to group up and join other people if I want to!

I am deliriously happy that they took the trouble to make this work. Mostly the number of mobs in each chamber you encounter will spawn to a size that matches your party.

I like the small bits of storytelling that go on in each Nightmare instance too. And the randomized aspect of them keeps them -somewhat- novel.

I’ve caught character exchanges between Rox and Braham, Marjory and Kasmeer, Marjory and Braham, Rox and Kasmeer, Rox and Majory so far.

If you pay attention, you learn a little more about some of the characters (and have a good laugh at some others. Braham keeps hallucinating up his mom.)

Someone seems to have some abandonment and father issues.
Someone seems to have some abandonment and father issues.
Getting some 'origin' vibes for why she's a necro here.
Getting some ‘origin’ vibes for why she’s a necro here.

I like the little nods that they managed to slip in regarding the personal story and hope they manage more of it in future updates. (Depending on your race, you seem to get an encounter with your respective racial representative, and depending on your order… well, let’s say we’ve had a reunion of sorts with somebody. I need to bring in a character who is Order of Whispers soon.)

It’s made for a few interesting encounters.

Oi. We're both furry here. Watch that mouth of yours.
Oi. We’re both furry here. Watch that mouth of yours.

And later in this encounter, we fought a hallucination of Rytlock Brimstone and some Blood Legion summons to Scarlet’s accompanying leer: “Rytlock has a special file where he records all your mistakes. They’re adding up.”

Which was immensely immersive since both Rox and my charr are Blood Legion, and we know Rox has an inferiority complex where Rytlock is concerned. (Directed at my charr? Nah, can’t be. His self-esteem and relationship with Rytlock’s far too healthy for that.)

rarrrkillingrage

This little dig got through though. Rarrrrrgh. Must kill insolent leafy things.

Final cinematic cutscene sequence? Verrah nice. Aesthetically-speaking.

I like that they at least attempted to sum up all the threads and factions that Scarlet has been accumulating per update, even if thematically, it feels like she’s cobbling them together out of a junkheap of spare parts.

I did, in fact, kind of miss the Molten Alliance, and was glad to see them back in a small form, including ol’ molten berserker.

maybemorepeoplewillrecognizemytonicnow
Maybe more people will recognize my infinite tonic now when I bounce around in it. (Hey, it cost me quite a bit of gold, I gotta get my money’s worth.)

The difficulty level of the instances felt fine. I’ve soloed them (and the final instance) on a zerker guardian and a zerker necro. Got downed once or twice but managed to rally up from a weakened mob or an NPC came by to help rez.

I did a group version of the final instance to see how the dynamic scaling worked, and it also seemed to match perfectly.

We did make it extra hard on ourselves during the Molten Alliance portal phase because three people were like OMG, killz0rs all teh portals, we vill skip past zis trash, wat, u mean we don’t?! and one person had no clue how to kite the molten protector out of his fiery shield (it’s always the one with the aggro, right?) so we delivered unto ourselves the world’s biggest spawn of Molten Alliance, conveniently made invulnerable 75% of the time. That took ages to whittle down. We had lots of time on our hands trying to convince the one guy to move out of the fiery ring.

Despite that minor fiasco, we only had one person being downed near the start to rushing headlong into some toxic alliance, and while I was thinking that might have screwed up our final no-dying achievement chance, we managed to take down the champion hybrid with no downs, no deaths that I can recall and the achievement popped. So that was good.

Thus passes a god. Poor bugger.
Thus passes a god. Poor bugger. Never listen to Scarlet.

Speaking of achievements, let’s have another round of applause for the continuing saga of more sane numerical levels.

1 time, 3 times, 5 times, up to 10 and 15 only. No 25, 50, 100, 225! (DAMN that 225!)

All in all, good stuff.

I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in here, I think, just for the fun of it.

Zerging at 10 fps just to bring you this not very impressive picture. (One sec... *brings graphics settings down to not-asking-for-crash levels*)
Zerging at 10 fps just to bring you this not very impressive picture. (One sec… *brings graphics settings down to not-asking-for-crash-I-can-actually-move-without-slideshow levels*)

My only moderate worry is that if the crowds move off in time, like the Mad King’s Labyrinth, it might be impossible to get to the top at some point.

Still, I have noticed that the dynamic events probably do scale. We had a Veteran Spider Queen at one point, instead of a champion.

And during the free 5 captives from cocoons event, when it was just a ranger and me, we were only facing a veteran and two normal mobs per spawn. When the zerg came over, we started popping champions. (Hey, look, new champion farm, people!)

So I suspect that as long as two or three people work together and take it slow and steady, it is possible to eventually get all the way up even if the rest of the place is deserted. (Unlike certain halloween bosses I can think of.)

I suppose if we ever to get to such a stage of abandonment, that would be the time for coordinated groups to move in and treat the place like an extended dungeon.

On a crowded server, I suspect one can always find another one or two interested people.

(Though convincing them to stick together and not run off to follow their own agenda might be a mite more tricky. Oh well, that’s the open world aspect for you. Win some, lose some.)

GW2: Tower of Nightmares – First Thoughts

I really wanted it to be more spiky and less...flowery.

Scarlet?

Again?

*sigh*

And Toxic Alliance? Really?

Could no one have come up with a better name for them? The Venomous Court, fer example.

Toxic this, toxic that, anti-toxin everywhere… I need a round of detoxification by the time I’m done with this update.

Well, so now that the hope of getting some pure krait and some Bubbles-related non-Scarlet contaminated stuff is no longer a reality, we are at least on track with the thorns/evil nightmare/Scarlet-related themes and continuing the storyline of 1001 Alternate Alliance Nights.

The biggest vibe I get from this is a Molten Alliance do-over. How Flame and Frost should have started.

  • Foreshadowing.
  • A noticeable change in the landscape.
  • Two relatively likeable characters to follow the story with. (So how many people are shipping Marjory and Kasmeer by now?)
  • Obvious dynamic events across the zones involved, not just repairing signs. Putting the bulk of activity back into the open world where it should belong.
  • Decently achievable achievements.

The new faction, besides the puke-inducing name, looks well-built.

The new krait models look good (I’m always partial to glows) and the coiling animations are sweet.

The nightmare court offshoot follows the twisted clockwork pattern of having a downed state and requiring a finisher, which kills a number of birds with the same stone – PvE folks get to show off pretty gem store finishers if they want, it ups the sophistication level of the PvE fight to something a bit more PvP-like and increases the theoretical difficulty of the faction somewhat (though with the amount of enthusiastic zerging on, it’s hard to tell as yet. We await the dungeons.)

The dreamthistle weapons are pretty sweet as well. I’m glad I’m still sitting on a Black Lion ticket, though I still have the issue of who to put it on and what weapon to upgrade. If not for being broke from regearing my thief, I’d consider upgrading my sylvari necro beyond functional althood. Oh well, always another month of accumulating more gold.

With everything so smooth and comfortable, why is it that I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm to care very much this week?

I log in, try and get a little bit of the way towards some achievement or other, do a few Toxic Alliance DEs in Kessex, log right back out again while still telling myself that I’m not done with all the doable dailies yet and that I’ll do them… later.

Perhaps it’s having too many goals spreading my attention.

  • I’m not done with the WvW season 1 achievements, and I really hate them hanging over my head like that. I logically know they are supposed to last for 7 weeks and that I can take my time with them, but but…
  • There’s one more Mad King Says achievement that should thankfully be checked off by tonight.
  • I still haven’t decided if I should give up on the Bloody Prince mini or not. Not would mean that I should direct my attention more towards dungeon-running and gold-making, which would also conveniently increase my familiarity with more dungeons – something I do want to do and expand my repetoire beyond the CoF comfort zone.
  • There’s still Tequatl. There’s ALWAYS going to be Tequatl. Goddamn, I want that mini so fucking much. (On the bright side, I did get -one- rare aquabreather once that is for heavy armor users, which is awesome. Except I have two guardians and a warrior and I haven’t decided who to put it on yet. It’s decent gold and rares every day, regardless, for someone who can’t be arsed to use timers and chase world boss spawns.)

Maybe it’s just the other things going on in my life occupying my leisure time attention.

Playing Terraria requires a good bit of goals-planning and wiki-reading, not to mention actual building and adventuring time that would distract from GW2.

I’ve also been working on a semi-secret project that is still a work-in-progress that I hope to be able to share soon. It’s sort of GW2-related, but involves more work with the hands and time away from a computer. As it takes shape, I keep wanting to sit down with it more than grind out the next 5 pristine toxic spores.

Oh well, all in good time. I need more patience with this sort of gradual progress. I keep wanting to have everything done and finished, rather than left open and steadily worked on.

GW2: Clockwork Conspiracies

Can’t stop to talk for long. Having way too much fun.

Spoilers do follow in the screenshots, but if you haven’t sampled the story by now, you’ve been missing out. Go log in, rather than read vicariously.

Closing Ceremony

unite

Storytelling just as well done as the opening. Moar of the same for future updates please.

Here’s some love for the cutscenes, including the stylized painterly interlude in the manner of the noir one.

Faren's hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous thought "those damn mesmers!"
Faren’s hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous curse of “those damn mesmers!”

Twisted Clockwork Faction

Words cannot describe how awesome these guys are.

dolyakvshorror

The aesthetics are like Necrons mixed with Cryx with a unique GW2 take on things, and the animations on these metallic monstrosities are the coolest ever.

I only wish I had the computing firepower to put graphics settings on medium or high in full on zerg situations, rather than stay at the lowest of the low in order not to crash. Even so, they’re still pretty good-looking.

twistednightmares

Mechanics-wise, I find them rather interesting, with a “downed” state of their own that mimics the need to finish opponents in pvp. Some specifically repair another type, so in theory, target prioritization is needed.

And I’m not sure, but it seems like if some of them reach a certain critical mass, they glom together to form a big twisted nightmare – I just haven’t observed specifically which enemies yet.

This should be interesting and meaningful later on if they ever make dungeons with the twisted clockwork faction in them. So far, the solo scaling allows one to take them out one at a time or all together, regardless of if you prioritize or not – one just endures a bit more delay if they do self-repair. And in zergs, it is also just as effective as to wipe them out in one fell sweep or let a few people do the finishing, similar to WvW.

Scarlet’s Playhouse Instance

Speaking of which, I’m really happy that they made a story instance that is both soloable and groupable according to preference.

Certain people will tell you that oh, it’s sooo much easier to solo because it scales, but I think they haven’t the patience to wait for a group to get the hang of the twisted clockwork faction mechanics together.

I did both.

I went through my first time solo, because I enjoy being a hero by myself, seeing the story and learning the mechanics unspoiled by others. I found the difficulty very reasonable, and appreciated that Scarlet so helpfully cued in her gimmicks at each stage. It was quite doable to survive long enough (hooray, no brutal one-shot instant deaths) to observe her animations and the surroundings and figure out the means to progress or do damage to her.

Then I grouped to see how reasonable the scaling was, and truth be told, I found it reasonable as well, though we did total party wipe a few times. Those deaths were more due to group coordination and some members being unfamiliar with the instance though.

Our first wipe took place when 1 member asked about the 3 min achievement and got no response yea or nay from the group. Seeing him rush for it, I followed suit. The other three hung back. As you can imagine, our cheerful efforts to extinguish fires rapidly produced monsters spawns the team was not prepared for in the least. Whoops. 🙂

notcommunicating

Ironically, our second go, when we started talking a lot more and decided to do things “slow and steady and no deaths,” we scored the 3 min rescue Faren achievement. Go figure.

Of course, that no death hope was rather dashed when we ran into the centaur section of the map and another party member rushed headlong into the first spawn they saw. *wry grin*

Any Guild Wars 1 player would have recognized that sort of movement of the spawns. PATROLS. It’s a TRAP! Dashing into the center where a bunch of patrols meet up? You know it. Splat went the first, then splat went the second who tried to revive. The others who hung back valiantly tried to hold off the multiple spawns rushing them, but yeah… scaling and twisted clockwork mechanics and all that.

When solo, I pulled the first two spawns methodically to kill ’em, just cos I like killing stuff, then evaded past the rest. I am sure you could run past them all, or stealth past as well, solo or group. Just…your group has to be all on the same page. 🙂

We had one more wipe in here, which I would label as unfamiliarity with how to handle twisted clockwork as a group. Some of us got breathed on by a horror, with those oh so fun stacks of confuse, which of course, produces downing in most not alert people. Then the whole repairing thing got away from us and we were suddenly facing TWO giant Twisted Nightmares of silver status. The survivors were doing a passable job sorta kinda ranging them, and I was getting a lot of practice in both quickly detargeting my scepter when the reflect shield came on (and evading the 2-3 stray blue balls that hit the shield before I detargeted) and side strafing the green projectiles it was shooting at me…

…just as I was thinking, oh hey, I’m getting the hang of this, even in pure berserker armor, the thing crept up with sufficient range to fire its flamethrower.

OW.

Fuck. I was not expecting that. Why does it have a flamethrower… Ow. How the hell do I dodge these? Healhealheal. This is not working…

Whoosh whoosh whoosh.

One flamebroiled charr to go.

And then there were two.

And one.

Then none.

The silver thingummies had collapsed into a pile by the time we got back from restarting at checkpoint, but yeah, I’m sure a group that actually had a cohesive plan to deal with them would have carved through ’em in no time flat. Or evaded them.

Difficulty-wise, I’d classify Molten Facility as harder, while not even mentioning how taxing Aetherblade Retreat can be. This is a short and sweet instance that won’t take a long time to run, solo or grouped, and I like it. It’s just right for temporary, seasonal content. And there are still one or two mechanic-based fights in there, rather than tank and spank.

Invasions

Doubly in love. It’s like Rift’s invasion/public quest system mixed with a side helping of GW2.

One of the most fun things for me is simply just running from one place to another together as a collective. Seriously, as long as your zerg is not too big, just toggle off your interface, leave yourself on autorun, turn the camera and look at yourself and the people running alongside you.

GW2’s run animations are awesome (or maybe that’s just me on a charr.) It’s like the Manifesto video all over again, but with yourself in the picture.

The multistage events building up to a climax are neat. Anet rapidly fixed the one minor nitpick of Scarlet having too little hp and dying too fast. I like that the whole zone has a shared goal and pretty much all actions do work towards that goal, map-chat complainants not withstanding.

Really, that’s the one eyesore of the event. I’ve had more fun switching tabs and ignoring map chat. A whole bunch of backseat commanders have sprung up and simply won’t shut up about how other people are not playing how they like.

Jeez, have a little trust in the wisdom of crowds, will you?

Yes, we get it, if everyone spreads out and takes down more dynamic events successfully, the counter will go down faster, we will get to scarlet faster, and defeat her for the best invasion complete loot and two rares if you haven’t defeated her already that day.

HOWEVER:

If we spread out too thin, and struggle at taking down dynamic events in tiny groups and being endlessly downed, then the counter is not going to go down any faster either.

Some people may also not feel the need to get to Scarlet any faster because we have 45 minutes to do the event, and if we complete it in 30min, what are you going to do, stand around and wait for the other half-hour before the next invasion?

Some people are also enjoying the roleplaying and world immersion aspect here – what, leave a bunch of Twisted Clockwork menaces to roam around Tyria just because you’re busy metagaming?

Some people just like killing anything red in front of them.

Some people have an AoE weapon that can’t HELP but damage anything red in front of them. (*hides guardian staff behind back*)

And yes, there is loot. Oh so glorious massive group scaling veteran and champions loot. Preferably from Aetherblades.

And why not? Why get in a tizzy about it? If you don’t like the zerg where it is, go form a group and stay away from the commander tags. Or go solo some events. They scale. Or get a commander tag of your own and see how many people want to follow you.

If you like zerging, then don’t feel guilty, just join the damn zerg and have fun. If you need to sell, go and sell. It’s okay, there are other people in the zone too.

It’s like WvW, really. All parties are needed. A strong zerg is an unignorable force. In invasions, a good zerg takes down each event in record time, mowing through a whole bunch of champions that both move the progress bar and yield loot. A fast way of moving the zerg to the next event is not to scream one’s head off and waste time typing when one could be attacking or tagging, but to just lawnmower down anything standing so that there’s nothing left and the rampaging horde has to look for new targets regardless. 🙂

Roamers, loners and soloists also can play their parts. There are some very easy scaling events (molten alliance tunneling machines come to mind) that can be handled and will also tick down the progress bar anyway. Zergs move and turn like oil tankers, they can only be in so many places at one time, you can pwn those events faster than you can break up the zerg or get the zerg to move somewhere.

And the zerg naturally breaks up and reforms after each event ends when some people waypoint to the next event they pick on a map, or decide to run instead to the next place, and so on.

Really. Every single invasion I’ve joined, save for the very first, has succeeded. Big zerg or no big zerg. To me, it actually seems harder to spread out too thinly.

Just trust in the wisdom of crowds and that the aggregate will get you there.

If you do fail the last stage, what’s the harm? You still get a partial reward at the end, and I think even the achievements increment.

And the invasions repeat every hour, on the hour. For 14 days. And they will continue at a less frequent pace after. One or two battles lost is not the end of the fucking world.

Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.
Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.

Oh, and I like the predictable timed nature of the invasions. It reminds me of the festival times in GW1 where you could log on and know that every hour, such-and-such would be happening. It helps one plan for it, in a way. Having some people left out is a sad but necessary consequence of such a schedule though.

Yeah, it’s a little disappointing if you miss the window and accidentally zone too late and get in an overflow where the invasion isn’t occurring. But I’m sure there’s other things you could be doing with the hour too.

And I agree it’s uber annoying if you should crash out and be unable to get back in again (I had that happen once when I ramped up my graphics too far) and it would be nice if they had a mechanism to hold one’s place for a while… but for the predictability of the hourly invasions, I’ll take it, warts and all.

It’s better than having a whole bunch of invasions fall out of sync with each other. *Thinks back to karka event where different overflows managed to start 45 minutes later than another*

Speaking of which, I really like the performance improvements between then and now. The karka event was one gigantic lagfest of doom, where skill lag made it took literally 5 minutes to see the result of one button press. I’ve not had any noticeable skill lag in these clockwork invasions, and the only hitch I’ve seen is a long noticeable delay on some Aetherblade waves spawning in a Gendarran Fields invasion.

The culling changes has also improved my framerates in zerg situations slightly, at the cost of me never seeing anybody else’s armor ever again, in WvW or PvE. Oh well. Your vanity is not that important to me, not until I can afford a better computer anyhow. 😛

With that sort of stuff fading into the background and not being noticeably annoying, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the flow of the invasions for what they were intended to be.

Pure unadulterated fun.

Just ignore the naysayers.

Conspiracy Theories

In the one invasion I sacrificed by being on medium graphic settings and awaiting the inevitable crash, I did luck into taking a screenshot of a steam portal at very close range. This was up in Dredgehaunt Cliffs and the event happened to be in a place with two different elevations, including one cliff high enough to look -down- into the portal.

steamportal

One can see steam pipes that look reminiscent of those in the Aetherblade jumping puzzle, and a railing of some sort that looks like the fairly standard sort you’d see in dredge facilities?

There’s some cube-like structures beyond that I won’t even begin to guess what they are.

threesylvari

And an unfortunately low-res Scarlet in comparison to the pictures of Faolain and Caithe stolen off the GW2 wiki. Three different sylvari?

The facial markings of all three -are- different if you google up a better resolution pic of Scarlet.

Then again, the nose is a little like Caithe’s in shape, but has Faolain’s scarring on the side. The eyes do have a resemblance to Faolain’s on the far edges, though they have this crazy yellow glow in the Playhouse instance that is different from the yellow-green in the cutscene. The skin tone is kinda like a mix of green and grey.

Faolain + Caithe = Alternate Reality Batshit Crazy?