GW2: Sinister Necromancer Nights in the Silverwastes

I’ll fess up.

The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard the news wasn’t “OMG, gotta grind Silverwastes for a HoT beta invite!”

It was more like, “YES! Moar champion chests! Good excuse to revisit the Silverwastes since everyone will be piling back in!”

Like Bhagpuss, I don’t feel really fired up over whether I get into this beta or not – a somewhat strange state of affairs, considering that Path of Exile over yonder is also in closed beta for their Awakening expansion and GW2’s over here prepping for HoT, but I suspect there’s an air of inevitability to it.

I -know- without question that I am -obviously- going to be shelling out for the Heart of Thorns expansion, so -eventually- it is going to get played either way.

Ditto Path of Exile’s expansion, it’s going to be a free update and I’m not a super pro PoE player that can offer valuable feedback or bug reporting, so it’s not going to hurt me to experience it when it’s ready… when it’s done.

However, the announcement was a good excuse for me to break out of my habitual GW2 rut and give a little thought and effort towards one of the many “should do someday” ideas on my GW2 endgame list.

Namely, test out sinister gear.

I -could- just bring my tried and trusty zerk guardian with the sword and scepter pewpew into the Silverwastes, but the minor issue with that, besides being boring since I farmed Silverwastes for months with that playstyle, is that his inventory bags runneth over. It’s a struggle to free up 5-10 slots because of all the fun tonics, extra gear, Ascended materials that don’t fit in the bank anymore, leftover seasonal rewards, and a bunch of soulbound consumables that I bought with the pure intentions of practising Arah dungeon solos (and of course, never got around to it.)

The solution thus becomes: bring an alt.

Sifting through the characters that I’d been intending to test sinister gear on, the ranger is still underleveled, the thief’s playstyle I still can’t really wrap my head around (plus it’s kinda dangerous to melee Mordrem on a squishy you’re not used to playing) and my gaze naturally falls on the necromancer.

Here’s a number of birds slain with one stone. He’s a sylvari necro, and we want to play at least one sylvari through HoT because their story is apparently going to diverge some from the other races. Getting him Mordrem-ready and me used to the playstyle would help that goal.

Mordrem are best fought at range. Necros have comparatively decent range attacks beyond their one stabby stabby melee dagger.

The idea of being able to switch between condi, which would melt Mordrem husks, and power/precision, which should enable the more fun zerk necro options like death shroud life blasts, lichform autoattacking, and wells, is extremely appealing.

In theory, anyway.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t take that long to put together a set of experimental sinister gear.

I’d already been hoarding the Ascended trinkets from the Living Story in my bank, so it was just a matter of filtering “Ascended” and pulling out the stuff with the right stats. (The back I leave as zerker, since I had a zerker backpiece anyway.)

 

I’d been charging up charged quartz for over a month and racked up some 40 of them before I stopped. Exotic sinister gear was just a matter of getting my Tailor logged on, buying a ton of Gossamer thread and clicking a couple buttons to craft the armor pieces.

Runes were a bit more of an issue.

The one sinister necro build available for reference is DnT’s Brazil’s. He uses Runes of the Aristocracy, which gives condition damage and additional might duration. It makes sense for that build because it’s meant for soloing dungeons, with a major trait synergy of signets giving might. It can actually produce 25 stacks of might on its own, which is pretty sick.

In this case, I’m envisioning more of an open world flexible build – I want swiftness, I want to be able to throw wells and play with lichform and deathshroud because FUN, and I want to be able to kill things from range using either power or condi as I please.

After scanning a Trading Post’s worth of Superior Runes and eliminating super-expensive runes for reasons of poverty, I end up settling for the super-cheap Superior Rune of the Adventurer – condition damage + some power (that sorta fits the whole sinister theme there) + a bit of extra endurance on using a heal skill, which can’t hurt, given a necromancer’s lack of vigor for dodges.

Weapon-wise, I knew I definitely wanted and needed scepter/dagger to be one of them. That is the quintessential necro weapon set for inflicting bleeds.

Dagger/ I eliminated, since I didn’t feel brave enough to go up and stab Mordrem in melee range.

I brooded over staff for a while, then decided to drop it in favor of an axe. Necro staff has always struck me as more of an AoE control-ish sort of weapon, if I was going to autoattack with staff, I may as well drop into death shroud and spam 1, eh? Envisioning Silverwastes, there didn’t seem to be too many opportunities for AoE spam over systematically taking down one Mordrem at a time.

Necro axe on the other hand is a very nice mid range weapon, that can key in on whatever you target, regardless of whatever else in between you and it. It’s a power-based weapon, with a nice damage life-force sucking channeled attack on button 2.

sinister-necro1

This was the initial experimental build.

6 in Spite went without saying, who wouldn’t want +300 Power and +30% condition duration? I wasn’t going to run signets, so the next best seemed to be VI Reaper’s Might for some might while pewpewing in death shroud. I’m using an axe, so VIII Axe Training for the damage increase and reduced recharge. XII Close to Death because 20% extra damage once a mob drops past 50% health? Yum.

6 in Curses for +300 condition damage (whee) and +300 precision (yay.) II Hemophilia for increased bleed duration (yep, this is our main damage once we go into condi mode), VI Focused Rituals because I want to play with ground-targeted wells, dangit, and the new trait specialization stuff ain’t here yet. XI Lingering Curse to boost conditions dealt with scepter, which oh so happens to be our condi inflictor weapon.

2 points left and I found myself not quite sure of the best place to put these. I gave them a try in Soul Reaping at first, for additional Ferocity, and I figured if I was going to be pewpewing with death shroud, I may as well let Life Blast pierce with VI Unyielding Blast.

Taking the build for a spin in the Silverwastes, it wasn’t half bad.

(In fact, given how the copper husk beelined for me after it had dropped to 1/3 health, and kept thumping me into kingdom come despite sitting on the ridge, I have to surmise that the build might have been dealing a substantial amount of damage. Or maybe it was the extra toughness on my weapons helping to attract aggro.)

I left my weapons as rabid scepter/dagger since I was using Tequatl Ascended weapons and used an exotic zerker axe/warhorn that I also already had.

I had a pretty large number of options for dealing damage – condi scepter/dagger, power axe, power deathshroud, power wells for AoE, and power lichform.

The only thing that got a bit annoying was terragriffs knocking me over (I suspect I’m too used to letting guardian aegis block the initial charge attack) despite rolling what seemed a pretty decent distance away, and needing to stunbreak with spectral walk…

…and I didn’t feel quite as sturdy as my old rabid build. Somehow, I kept finishing up my fights with about half to one third health remaining, and maybe half of deathshroud life force left. Also, I had a tendency to keep falling over during the Vinewrath corridor fights if I missed seeing something that might run me over.

sinister-necro2

So… enter the revised build to be stress tested further tomorrow.

I’ve not really used Signet of Vamprism very much, but it seems interesting with this build. Left on passive, it heals me a bit when I get hit by anything, so small attacks should sting less. If I take a large hit that dents my health bar, I can activate it for a heal, and mark a mob for life siphoning (which apparently scales with power – and sinister gear has power!)

I found that I wasn’t really utilizing the pierce feature of life blast much, so I swapped 2 points over to Blood Magic instead, with a little extra vitality and healing power. V Vampiric Precision is another experiment, since sinister gear has decent enough crit ability and I’m using either scepter or axe, both autoattacks that are fairly fast, hopefully producing a decent enough trickle of small heals that keep me more topped up than the previous build.

Just running around the regular Silverwastes events, it feels a little more resilient than the first build, which is promising.

P.S. I am not claiming that this is the end-all and be-all of builds out there.

I’m just sharing my design thoughts on how I personally go about making and testing experimental builds that fulfill a certain goal I have in mind (in this case: kill Mordrem, switch flexibly between power and condi, don’t die.)

I generally let other people do the min-max number calculations and settle for a more fuzzy in-game measure of ‘feels good to play, kills comparably fast or faster than other people around me, doesn’t squish and keep dying.’

Just Plain (or Playin’) Mercenary Now

It figures. I go all gung-ho and farm Mordrem body parts for two days, because my compulsion to complete was reaching OCD standards… I bang my head against the Dodgy Crowd and Wicked Rodeo achievements more than a dozen times solo, before finally surrendering and looking for extra help in a group…

…and the big plan was to then title the next blog post “Mercenaries of the Silverwastes” and write some commentary on that.

Then Anet pulls the rug out from all of us with the announcement that Living Story will pause for Wintersday break and only resume on Jan 13.

Oh.

Hrm.

That feels like a bit of a letdown. Kinda deflated, really.

I think the biggest problem I have is that the story continuity kinda goes nowhere with this sort of pacing. One needs to have a sort of mini-arc come to a more-or-less satisfactory conclusion, before declaring a break.

One doesn’t just ramp up and build up mystery and suspense, plonk a big cliffhanger of a door in the way and say, well, wait 2, no, it’s 5 weeks now to find out what’s next!

Especially not if you’ve built up the expectation that the story will be explained in two weeks, and then suddenly extend it to five.

Did one really have to wait a week to announce that kind of thing, especially if it’s already scheduled? Just putting the Jan 13 date out there the moment Seeds of Truth launched, to say that it would continue then, would probably have mitigated expectations a little better.

Also, people wouldn’t have looked at the ridiculous amount of artificial Mordrem bodypart grind (two bladder pieces, wtf?) and freaked out.

Honestly, beyond getting strung along with a story that goes nowhere, I don’t have a big issue with the concept of a break for Wintersday.

It’s Christmas season, many people get busy irl, work takes a holiday in many companies, and personally I could use SNOW AND ICE for a while, instead of SAND AND ROCK.

It’s been…what, six weeks of the Silverwastes? There’s a limit to how novel the zone can feel, and as much as I’d really like to see what’s behind the west wall of vines that are ever extending outward (especially with the Shadow of the Dragon-sounding roar that echoes every now and then when you hang out between the Amber and Blue forts), it might do us all some good to have a break from the zone and go elsewhere for a change, before coming back refreshed.

(One will,  however, be a bit pissed story-wise, if we come back to find Camp Resolve strangled by vines. No, seriously, there’s this big giant vine creeping up on the camp here. For weeks. Cos plants grow slow, I guess.

If we can light signal fires to artillery barrage the forts, I humbly suggest that we turn the front part of this vine into a bonfire to signal the big guns to light it up further…)

Oh well.

If anything, it mostly comes as a bit of a relief.

Steam was offering Van Helsing II at 66% off the other day, and while I didn’t pick it up yet (I figure 66% ought to happen again during the Christmas sale, and I’m always hoping for 75%), it did remind me that I’ve always been intending to try out Van Helsing I, which has been sitting in my “to-be-played” list for an eternity now.

So I cranked it up and discovered that action RPGs seem to be a rather good accompaniment to an MMO habit. Quick to start, lots of mobs to fight, interesting skills and build pondering, plenty of loot drops/reward factor, and the ability to just log out and pause everything/put all progress on hold until the next time you feel like playing it.

(Between Path of Exile, Marvel Heroes and now Van Helsing, I’m racking up quite the collection, here.)

Van Helsing is entertaining in the sense that it feels a bit like a cross between a regular RPG and an action RPG. There’s a bit more of a story going on, with quests you pick up from NPCs, and sidequests. Stuff is supernatural-themed and you seem to be a bit of a mercenary hunter with one main plot you’re investigating, but along the way, you do a lot of other things and help various people – standard RPG schtick, really.

You have a nice interaction/banter occuring with your ghost “companion”, which sort of acts like a more elaborate Torchlight pet (she’ll be deadly insulted if you call her a pet, though), that will pick up items and gold for you, and go to the shops to sell stuff, plus a whole lot more besides.

There’s a bit more of a stop-and-start feel to the skills than something like Path of Exile or Diablo (the older versions anyway, I -assume- 3 is similar),  but not as awkward feeling as Marvel Heroes.

The challenge factor is a lot more appealing than Marvel Heroes, in the sense that one actually feels threatened by the mobs and can die to them, unless you do a lot of fancy footwork to kite stuff, or use healing potions and prep accordingly.

So at least I’ll have more time to play that in the 5 weeks that Living Story is more or less on hold.

Wintersday this year is in Divinity’s Reach, so I guess that’s something new and novel, to see the grand city dressed up in Winter finery.

I finally got Wynne’s Locket:

Picked up the Do Not Tread achievement after a lot of practice with Caithe and her skills and finally avoiding getting trampled or charged by acting like a total wuss and single-pulling centaurs out to the edges of the battle to murder, while letting Faolain tank the rest of them. (Stealthing in to rez her again if/when she goes down. Gotta match her for being a manipulative bastard, y’know?)

Was brought near to the point of tears and surrender with the other two achievements, and finally decided to join a group for the Wicked Rodeo achievement, if only to see how different it was when other people got to have their own skills.

It wasn’t a bad time, actually, though we wiped twice. Each go at it sort of showed us a bit more strategy on how we might actually progress with it.

Eventually, we settled on killing the elementals near the sides of the walls, leaving the nasty sand pools there, while avoiding most of the wind walls around the arena.

At the same time, I was playing Caithe, and decided to switch my gear around to 4 parts of Soldiers and 2 parts of Clerics, which made me a lot tankier than my usual Zerker stuff. (Died the first time to too many windwalls, died the second time to stumbling backward into two sandpools and getting conditioned to death with all my movement abilities on cooldown – which was stupid, but look, was avoiding windwalls, okay?)

I could pretty much just sit there and take one of Togron’s normal rock shard attacks without flinching, fer instance.

This also had the added bonus of turning me into a magnet for the elementals, so I could just tap them and bring them to the rest of the party gathering by the walls. They quickly made short work of them while I just spammed 1, afraid to do anything else and then move out of position with the rest of Caithe’s very movement-oriented skills.

The rest of the group was also more mobile and long-ranged, so they then pounded on Togron to bring his hp down while I just sat around at far range attracting his rock shards again, and preventing him from his close-range attack of creating sand pools.

That went really super smoothly, to the point one of the other party members asked if that felt like there were less waves that round. No, we just killed the elementals and worked his hp down really fast. -Really- fast. Cos no one died.

That experience gave me enough encouragement to try for Dodgy Crowd again, on normal, solo. Being really careful with Caithe and putting the eles near the walls before killing them, so as not to make nasty sand pool obstacles for myself.

After a few more times banging away at it, I got it, which makes me happy to feel like I accomplished something.

With that strategy, I might just give Wicked Rodeo a go again solo. Some other time, though.

I did get curious enough to join another group for Wicked Rodeo, this time playing myself, not Caithe. And yes, you can indeed reflect or absorb the windwalls. I got tons of mileage out of Shield of Absorption, and a lesser amount out of Wall of Reflection (problem with reflection is the windwalls will bounce away, so you better be standing in the right place.)

That group was a little less coordinated or organized. I kept mum on the strategy my original group had pulled off, cos I wanted to see what this one would come up with first. It ended up with most of us dead and one person finally managing to stretch it out and solo the last part of it, after repeated tries wiping. Still a viable enough solution, as far as it goes.

And I’m really just quite relieved that I’m done with the stupid Mordrem bodypart grind for now.

I ended up being one of those self-focused leechers for a bit, getting some hits in on a mob and then booking it to another. That’s just how the system is set up, right? It doesn’t actually matter if the bosses die or not, you still get the body parts. I don’t -want- the greater nightmare key reward, it gives glove boxes, which I don’t need right now. I just want -more- body part bags to open so that I might actually get a damned spleen or the second half of a bladder.

So one stops playing the Silverwastes properly, instead taxi’ing like mercenaries for hire into the next Silverwastes instance above 50% completion. One taps the events, does the bare minimum of defence, and runs around looking for lost bandit chests instead.

(Look, RNG and me don’t get along, all right? I’ve opened about 300 of them so far – 159 of them on a dedicated chest farm run – and only got one boots box out of it. On the 300th or so box.

The only good thing I can say is that I’m making quite a decent killing on materials that come out of the champion bags.)

Once the breach happens, hop into the first most-likely-to-die boss that you need (that’s usually Troll or Thrasher), tap it, bail when it feels like you’ve got enough damage in, and run, do-not-pass-Go, to the next boss you need (Husk or Terragriffs) and stay around to kill that (readying up an extractor to click the moment the first one dies.)

That’s at least two parts, and maybe even three, if you get the timings just right.

They might fix it eventually, but hey, not for 5 weeks, apparently. *coughs*

The good news is, I don’t need to do that anymore. I can now stay around like a good person and focus on killing one mob, so that other people who still need the parts can run from place to place.

The bad news is, I’m probably still going to pick an easy mob to kill first and go to the harder ones later.

That, and the fact I’ll beeline for any chest first over actually doing a Silverwastes event now.