GW2: I Think… Downscaling is Borked

I’m just a little bit upset.

I am mildly disturbed to the point of not being able to go to bed at 11.50pm on a Friday night and decided to stay up until 1.30am doing a quick experiment, collecting more data and then writing this blog post.

It started out well enough at around 9pm when I settled down to fill in the blanks on my spreadsheet to observe how downscaling on a level 80 had changed from then to now.

That, then, was merely an exercise in being a little obsessive for the explorer fun of it, because really, what else have I got to do besides run around the new Lion’s Arch, shooting karka hatchlings, and then going back to my usual routines?

downscale-compare

I finished filling in the blanks from my screenshots and data and settled in to take a look at how my level 80 warrior had changed from before.

Now, this had been a banner warrior going deep into Tactics to pick up quick breathing at the expense of the more meta precision traitline, so it was not a surprise to see that I had gained a little Power, lost a bunch of Vitality, and gained quite a ton more Precision as a result of losing stats on traitlines and gaining stats on zerker gear.

Nothing shocking. Nothing upsetting. All kinda expected, and it’ll be interesting to see how my other more meta-faithful warrior alt changed too.

However, since this was the warrior I was using to collect downscaling stats on, I looked at that next.

After chasing up various mathematical alleys, I decided that trying to figure out any exact downscaling formulae was going to be tough, especially when I forgot to check or record down any -base stats- at those levels.

So it was pretty much just going to be very crude direct number comparison instead.

I gained a bit damage-wise with the new 80, since I no longer had to give up any stats on traitlines for the utilities I wanted. My crit chance went up by 10%, and crit damage by 8% or so.

This somewhat affected downscaling at lvl 70, as toughness and precision at the new 70 was still more or less better than my old not-so-dps-optimal 70. However, Power took a hit even here, dropping below the previous state.

By lvl 60, the Power stat does reveal that it’s been a little chopped off at the knees, 1391 as compared to the 1546 of before. The other stats are ehh… around the same-ish to slightly worse.

By lvl 50, everything’s taken a hit in effectiveness as compared with pre-patch, and it doesn’t get -any- better as you go lower and lower.

Power’s dropped precipitously and alarmingly, and let us not even speak of critical chance. It is near non-existent.

Now, one may argue that this makes sense. We want to bring the downscaled lvl 80 to lowbie equivalency, right? And lowbies don’t get multiple fancy stats on their gear, like precision and ferocity. Nevermind that builds that rely on high critical chance get a little shafted, it’s for a good cause, you know?

So I decided to check the stats on my lowbies to see if the level 80 had been made equivalent.

And what I saw really freaked me out.

I had a bunch of spare lowbies masquerading as storages, a thief, an engineer, a guardian, the works. Most of them are exactly level 20, thanks to the Experience Scroll veterans get, so I settled on that level to compare.

Many of them had 360-420ish Power, as compared with the new downscaled 80’s 225 Power.

HANG ON, THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

Ok, I know I am guilty of twinking out my lowbies hard. I put on even level 20 gear on them. I stack on minor runes of +10 power for 60 total power, give them a sigil of bloodlust (which got nerfed, thanks), I make shiny +Power jewellery for them. So maybe it’s just my twinking making shit unbalanced, right?

(It’s at this point where I realize I can’t go to sleep until I resolve this niggling issue…)

… so lying in bed, I come up with the fairest test I can think of. (That I can perform, given the resource limits that I have.)

Maybe the classes differ, so I am going to take the spare character slot I have, create a new warrior, use up one of my many Experience Scrolls to zap it to level 20, and I am going to buy gear like a noob off the TP, and then check not only just Power stats, but do a quick dps experiment.

nearnekkid20

This is a near nekkid new level 20. Still in the tutorial gear with nearly no Power on any of it, one hero’s band (+2 Power), and one iron ring (~11 Power iirc) that was a level up reward. She has 178 Power as compared with the downscaled level 80 at 225 Power, 8% crit chance as compared with 21.33% crit chance, 151% crit damage versus 174.7% crit damage. Okaaay.

noobtp

I go to the TP. I am simulating a newbie, more or less, so here’s what I do. I buy my level 20 armor, all six slots. I pick the one with Power, obviously. I buy weapons the same way.

I -don’t- buy any trinkets or jewellery whatsoever, because they are too expensive anyway, so I have lost a bunch of potential Power stats there already.

I -don’t- put any minor runes or sigils on my gear, because I am a newbie, remember? I don’t understand any of this stuff. I just wear the default thing. It is the same stuff that can drop (which is why it is 2-3 silver as compared with the cutthroat crafted version.)

normalnewbie

Do note that my ‘normal’ newbie has 266 Power. The downscaled level 80 has 225 Power.

Ok, she has a crit chance of 8% and crit damage of 151%. He has a crit chance of 21.33% and 174.7% crit damage.

Does that actually make a difference?

In lieu of calculating damage done (because I haven’t looked at those formulas yet), I do a test.

I go to the Wendon waypoint at Brisban Wildlands. The level 80 downscales to 20 in that area. My level 20 is an exact level 20. There are level 19 Jungle Boar there.

I get the exact same utilities, Balanced Stance, For Great Justice, Banner of Strength, minus an elite, because it so happens that I get enough Hero Points by leveling to 20 to unlock those. I have no traitlines on the lowbie, because those unlock at lvl 21. Do the extra traitlines on my level 80 give him an edge, necessitating his stats dropping to under a lowbie’s?

lowbie-notwink

I kill a bunch of boar with the level 20.

Yes, the words are very small, so let me summarize:

  • Cyclone Axe (~80 damage)
  • Chop (~165-170 damage, critting for 210-250)
  • Double Chop (~149-163 damage, critting for 229-259)
  • Triple Chop (~145-149 damage on the first two strikes, 324-334 on the last strike, critting for 469-540 damage on the last strike.)
  • Boar hits me for 70-77 damage each direct attack, more or less, and healing signet pulses away for 32 healing.

80downscaled

I swap over to the level 80 and do the same thing.

  • Cyclone Axe (~64-69 damage, critting for 98-119)
  • Chop (~112-145 damage, critting for 171-245)
  • Double Chop (~104-129 damage, critting for 168-257)
  • Triple Chop (~104-129 on the first two strikes, 235-286 on the last strike, critting for 188-233 on the first two strikes, and didn’t manage to crit on the last strike during my test)
  • Boar hits me for 82-89 damage each direct attack, and healing signet still pulses away for 32 healing.

The boar’s bleeds was a constant 32 in both cases (makes sense, since armor doesn’t affect conditions), and the level 80 had a trait that had a chance of applying a bleed on a critical (which did 28-40 damage.)

I dunno… but it SURE SEEMS TO ME like the level 20 is doing more damage than my downscaled level 80. I kill the same boars in less hits on the lowbie than it takes the level 80 to finish off his.

It’s an untwinked lowbie, even!

Guess what happens if I put on the minor runes (each giving +10 Power for a total of 60 power) and the minor sigil of bloodlust (which I didn’t even bother to max out.) I did not even put on any trinkets, so this can go even higher.

lowbie-moretwink

Cyclone Axe 97, Chop 170-214, Double Chop 198-214, Triple Chop 192-226 & 412-485 (not a crit.)

I think someone has really gotten carried away with the downscaling if my level 80 is not even equivalent to a level 20 in a level 20 area!

I will leave others to debate if this is a good thing – maybe level 80s should face a sort of ‘hard mode’ as compared with new lowbies? (Never mind that optimizers would probably just try to make lowbie alts if those are the most optimal?)

Maybe this will make the self-styled “elitist” (but not truly elitist) level 80s in dungeons welcome lowbie noobs more when they are statistically better than downscaled 80s, nevermind that they lack knowledge of the mechanics and experienced 80s tend to know what is going on?

Me, I still can’t get over the knee-jerk emotional outrage of being unequivalent in this manner just quite yet. It is just TOO WEIRD. It doesn’t make any logical sense. (Laying it all out in the blog post -is- helping though. I can probably go to sleep after this.)

I do hope and suspect there will be adjustments to the scaling as time goes on, and hopefully in a better direction, but eesh, that’s a very steep downscale curve to get used to, as compared to before, and I have no more words for this beyond “….”

GW2: The Old Versus The New – Guardian

Well. -The- patch is here.

It wasn’t easy waiting for 12 hours, wondering why I didn’t take a day off from work, mind you.

With even more irony, I logged in on my warrior alt, thinking to witness the awesome glory that is supposed to be overwrought condition stacks melting world bosses… only to be late to the successful Teq map, attempt a second impromptu Teq that few showed up to (having already succeeded prior), and then stand by for a Triple Trouble Wurm that had a communication malfunction, leading to unsuccessful synced decapitation and no phase 2.

Meh. Guess I was overdue for an unlucky day.

I did manage to do some brief preliminary comparisons on my warrior while waiting for all this stuff, so I had a vague inkling of how all the stats were shifting. Somewhat. (No condition damage comparisons as yet. Was just looking at overall stats, level scaling and power builds so as to get my main characters back to a semi-status quo state.)

After which, I finally had the time to look at my guardian main more closely. (Not yet thoroughly though, just a glance so far.)

Overall Exotic Versus Ascended Stat Comparisons

There’s good news on this front, in that the change isn’t as drastic as feared. Apparently they cut back the proposed 10% difference in stats down to 5% again or something.

gw2statcompare

I’m not 100% sure my calculations are exactly accurate, so take whatever I say next with a grain of salt, or feel free to check my calculations for me.

The first set of columns were the old pre-patch stats for exotic and ascended gear.

The second set of columns was a really quick back-of-the-envelope Excel calculated theoretical stats based on the “30% increase in stats and 10% difference in exotic/ascended” phrase.

The last set are the actual new stats, as mostly visually verified by staring at the tooltips on my exotic zerker gear and ascended trinkets, plus one ascended armor and then taking the GW2’s wiki’s stats for the rest (they seem to pull direct from the API, so everything appears to match.)

In our original pre-patch circumstances, the difference between full exotic gear and full ascended gear was 8.38%, in terms of just comparing the primary stat – aka somewhat significant, but not overwhelmingly so. Certainly there is encouragement/motivation to pick up ascended trinkets at least, as that then closes the gap to 2.16% difference. Picking up an ascended weapon but not going for ascended armor, leaves  you at 1.31% difference Power stat-wise. (Not talking Armor here, that’s a whole different ballgame.)

The slightly more dreaded theoretical post-patch scenario would put the difference between full exotic and full ascended at 10.06%. (Which is a really fun number for math-impaired individuals to rally around and kick people without realizing that the pre-patch difference was also 8.38%.)

However, even if this came to pass, picking up ascended trinkets would put a character at 4.67% difference from someone in full Ascended. (Rounded up to 5%, it’s still not a terribly fun number, because I can definitely see some people getting their panties in a twist over being 5% “weaker.”)

With an ascended weapon, the difference would be 2.95% (or 3%), which is ehhh… not terribly horrific either way, but meh, I wouldn’t have been thrilled to end up feeling obliged to get ascended weapons for all of my dungeon running or WvW characters.

The good news is that the actual new stats have gotten a little more moderated back to something not so annoying.

The difference between full exotic and full ascended has actually improved just a tide at 7.72% (due to exotic getting a boost in stats to make up for removal of stats from the traitlines, I believe, unless I screwed up the math somewhere.)

Picking up ascended trinkets improves a character to 2.37% difference, which is a slightly larger gap than of old (2.16%), but yeah, doesn’t seem like something to fret over.

Ditto just lacking ascended armor, it’s 1.47% difference as compared with the 1.31% difference of old. The gap’s slightly larger than before, but not even a full percent of difference.

Absolute stat-wise, we’re talking about a 99 Power difference between full exotics and full ascended now, as compared to 84 Power before, or the 130 Power of the theoretical scenario.

I kinda like that number. 100 Power “feels” sorta significant as a pretty round number for the math-impaired, but you can easily nom a consumable food that gives you +100 Power, and be on par with say, someone in full Ascended armor that foolishly didn’t bother to eat any.

Of course, just as I finish typing this, I realize that I’ve neglected to add pre-patch base stats (I think it was 926) to this total, as compared with the post-patch base stats (now 1000), so… argh.

gw2statcompare2

One quickie version later, the Power differences have gotten even closer.

Conclusion: We haven’t hit any apocalypse stat-on-gear-wise that one can (or should) throw a hissy fit over. Eating consumables, finding runes or traits that give +7% or +10% or +15% damage would probably skew damage more than this stuff (I guess I should sit down and calculate those one day to figure the exact numbers out for myself too.)

Level 80 Stat Comparisons on my Guardian

80finder

Obviously, this is going to differ from your characters based on however you traited them. My main guardian has decidedly never been dungeon meta compliant. Deciding that I just didn’t want to use greatsword often on this character, I dipped into right-hand strength very early on to get consistent crit damage from sword/focus and scepter, and never looked back.

The old version dipped into four traitlines for a bunch of utility stuff like all the radiance blind on F1, honor for empowering might and the heal on dodge roll, a little virtues for the extra stuff on virtues and gave up going deep into the Power traitline that way, losing 200 potential Power.

You can see the new version has picked up quite a bit more Power from the stats being on his gear instead of on a traitline. Toughness increased slightly, but that’s just the base stats getting boosted up. Vitality dropped, with a corresponding drop in health, which I’m not 100% thrilled about.

Precision is… meh, more or less somewhat similar, and Ferocity got a boost. Condi damage and healing power, ehh, lost them completely, though I’m not sure if there’s too much difference between minimal benefit and none.

My crit chance dropped by 5%-ish, something that doesn’t really make me that happy, but eh, I guess that’s what right-hand strength and its bonus 15% crit is for. Crit damage dealt does increase a little due to the corresponding Ferocity increase though.

guardianspec

I’m relatively content trait-wise, having decided to go for Radiance, Honor and Virtues.

I get a pretty similar spammable F1 Virtue of Justice as before, though I think I’ve lost the vulnerability on it. I get better recharge on my signet heal and my torch skills, where previously I had none. And I still get right-hand strength (15% crit) and an extra 10% to crit on foes that are burning. (And everything -should- be burning these days.)

I keep vigorous precision, which I am super-used to for endurance regeneration so I can dodge, and selfless daring for a heal on roll (though it may be worse with 0 healing power now.) I keep empowering might, something I am again used to. I get -extra- 15% endurance regen from the new minor trait, and a protector’s impact symbol so I’m much safer when falling now, AND I get pure of voice on my shouts, which is really sweet because my previous build had a serious issue with condition removal.

I keep unscathed contender and inspired virtues, again stuff I am -used- to, and get a whole bunch of bonuses to virtues that I never had before.

The biggest thing I lost was vulnerability on blind, which on a sword/focus, spam F1 guardian, is quite a bit of vulnerability indeed. 😦

(Ah well, looks like I’ll have to use my second guardian – which I’m okay using greatswords on – to cover that.)

The tradeoff is that I got quite a shitton more condition removal and virtue stuff to play around with.

Amusingly, when I ran around Orr and did a quick comparison of before and after, I still seemed to be doing very similar damage on the whole (1700-2300) per sword hit, and my scepter hits seemed to have improved slightly (1400-1600 to 1800-1900 damage) so I guess I’m not /unhappy/ overall with this particular guardian build. (Still need to compare his burning damage and healing potential at some point though.)

Level Scaling Down

70finder

This is what it looks like at level 70.

Because I am an idiot that forgot to take accurate records of data at levels 50 and 60, (ie. forgot to open the Hero screen to look at one’s stats, in favor of hitting stuff), I’m going to have to rely on my second set of data on the warrior later to get a solid grip on this, and use my guardian data as a sort of backup confirmation (after I piece back together what stats I can through guesswork via the combat log.)

The overall picture doesn’t seem terribly pretty though.

By level 50ish, and definitely at lvl 40, and probably under that, our new scaled down stats are worse than before.

What this means for dungeons, if any, I’m not sure, but it does seem like an effort to bring lvl 80s in parity with new leveling characters (which are supposedly more aggressively scaled up. I neglected to collect any data on that front, so I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out.) Which may be a good thing community-wise. Then again, social stuff is hard to predict.

More musings later, after checking out the warrior(s).

P.S. In the interests of disclosure, I have bought the Ultimate edition today. The Anet reaction to the uproar was pleasantly mollifying. A preliminary look at stat changes in the patch didn’t seem to indicate the end of the world was coming or require a ragequit on behalf of my principles.

I had -intended- to stick to my guns and wait until more information was released, but there were a) white wings that I was going to buy anyway that were on a one-day time limit, and b) a self-inflicted gambling/I-want-it-now-it-might-be-too-late-later urge regarding a couple of scientific skins that are currently in price flux while people try to figure out if they are intended to be sold for 1 or 3 tickets at the moment.

Between some ‘fun’ ie. lottery-style entertainment with Black Lion Keys (25 keys => 10 ticket scraps) and exchanging gems to gold (789 gems => 125g) while folks are going nuts feeding gold into gems for the wings, I managed to pick up two more skins that I wanted (not to mention plenty of boosters for future alts in the two character slots and spare transmutation charges) and have gotten most of the gambling urge out of my system for around $36.25 USD or $48.74 SGD.

Which, I suppose, is okay. A little more spendthrift than I regularly practice, but something I can afford at this point in time. (Yes, Black Lion Keys directly to skins is not worth it unless you’re really lucky. You’re mostly spending $1.05-$1.10 for a booster and the /hope/ that something good will pop. Which is an amusing hope to indulge from time to time, but rarely, once in a blue moon kinda thing.

Folks who can’t control themselves though, had better not start in the first place. This one was a mea culpa, when I suddenly got it in my head that I might maybe want to chase/complete a Black Lion Skin collection for the hell of it. It’s looking like, probably not. One will suffice with what one has.)

2014 Annual Report

Dear Readers of This Blog,

I would like to thank you for many things, such as your unflagging attention to my ramblings, your comments that reinforce that I am not just typing to myself in the dark, but primarily, for dethroning the “Halp, How do I find my way to Blue Mountain in The Secret World?” joke post that has -finally- dropped out of the Top 5 most popular posts section in the annual report.

Took it three years. Wow.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 88,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

For comparison, here’s the 2012 Annual Report and the 2013 Annual Report.

Honestly, there are even fewer surprises to me this time around.

I’m still thrilled to see there’s been growth in pageviews, though it’s probably slowing and plateauing from having established one’s little foothold into the teeny corner of the interwebs that are interested in the subjects I write about, and will likely slow even further this coming year.

I’m almost deadly certain that much of that growth has to do with just a few key posts *coughguidescough* that I occasionally get the urge to write, if only to vent some frustration and then suddenly realize that “YES, there are people who do look these things up and appreciate the summaries, tips and advice.”

2014 is essentially the year I try to harness this phenomenon for good.

Reddit becomes my top referrer, from a mere two posts – one pushing the Marionette AoE guide, and the other introducing the Movement/Combat guide, both of which stay pretty popular.

The biggest surprise was the chance Missing Worlds Media facebook link in May, that sent 2.5 Things City of Heroes Did Wrong to top at least one category – most commented on, and that became my second biggest referrer.

Bhagpuss continues to draw GW2 fans from his site over to mine, for which I’m very thankful… (or maybe it’s just him clicking his own sidebar, given that he’s my top commenter… twice over. 🙂 He has more misspelled accounts that are also cleared to comment here!)

The other highly popular posts all chanced to hit various popular search keywords, imo.

I happened to type up my thoughts to the Path of Exile expansion just when others were searching for info regarding it, I suppose.

“MMOs are dead” is apparently a super-popular phrase to google, along with “GW2 endgame.” Hoorah for contradiction in terms.

I feel moderately guilty about the Dry Top post, since it’s not a complete guide, just some rambling at the midway point of Dry Top when T4 was as high as it got. There’s a T6 one on Reddit somewhere, I believe. *googles* Here, summary and chat codes.

What’s new this year is that they’ve switched search terms, which I suppose are much harder to tease out these days, with a graphical display of one’s posting rate.

I apparently post on many Wednesdays. (It’s probably due to guilt when I realize that I haven’t posted in forever, better churn out something nao!)

Total number of posts has stayed relatively constant through the years – I try to do an average of one post every 3-4 days. Some weeks I lie fallow, and then I make up for it with “too many things to say” days where I post twice.

I’d say that it would be nice if I learned how to spread these things out a little more, but I also know it’s just not gonna happen. Quite a bit of my stuff is time-dependent and it wouldn’t really make much sense to schedule it for a day later or two. I will just trust my regular readers know how to use feed readers.

I -would- like to try a month long writing streak akin to Nanowrimo or Blaugust some day, but will 2015 be the year I find the time to do so?

Reply hazy. Guess we’ll see.

Here’s to 2015 and another fun year of blogging!

2013 Annual Report

Wahey!

It’s back!

WordPress’ friendly blog stats summary of the year that is now history. All conveniently packaged up to share with readers.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

And this time, I get to have a past year to compare it to.

Views

The blog has doubled its views in its second year, which is still kind of thrilling, even if the cynic in me says that’s probably mostly bots hitting old pages.

And they tell me that my writing has staying power! (Or I used up all my interesting topics in the first year or that’s probably still just bots.)

But the eternal optimist in me would like to thank my HUMAN readers who put up with my ramblings and appreciate at least a few of the posts that turn up now and again.

It’s a dartboard, y’know? Write and toss up enough posts and hopefully some will stick.

# of Posts and Pictures

Those have remained fairly consistent. I’m personally quite happy with that. Part of my rationale for starting the blog in the first place was to prove to myself that I could commit to a long term project and not get distracted by new shinies and then get lazy and slack off.

I’m on partial break for now, but I do hope to get back up to steam soon and get less lazy about including pictures in my posts again.

Let’s not call it a New Year’s Resolution, but more of a re-commitment, after I’ve taken stock of where I am this season and reorganized my life some.

(Chinese New Year is fast following in the western New Year’s footsteps this year and that is traditionally a period of mass cleanup and reorganizing BEFOREhand, since it is considered bad to sweep good luck out the door during the festive season. And it’s occurred to me that there’s a LOT of things around the house in desperate need of a cleanup from storerooms to wardrobes to terrabytes of data on computer hard disks. Argh.)

Popular Posts

To absolutely no one’s surprise – not mine anyway – the evil evil Liadri topped the stats as the most popular post of last year.

I remember watching that bar climb on the stats and shoot up to a way higher outlier than pretty much all of my other posts, confirming once again that if you are all about pageview whoring – write guides. Lots and lots of guides. Be a Dulfy, and monetize the heck out of your adverts, because there are a lot of people who a) Google up the answers before even getting started or b) get stuck on games and then Google.

Me, I’m more about writing what I feel like writing, in that moment and context. So yeah, expect guides only as and when I feel they’re appropriate (usually when I’m bursting to make a point or just want to share a particular strategy that worked after lots of effort on my part.)

Also completely unsurprising was the fact that the next two most popular posts were PSAs. Short, sweet, simple and as to the point as the usually longwinded me can make them.

“Here’s the answer to whatever you were googling for.”

Of course, me being me, they also do double duty as subjective criticism for “HEY DEVELOPERS, LOOK HOW NOT AT ALL OBVIOUS THIS IS.”

No, really, people are still looking for directions to the Blue Mountains a year later.

And those voting baskets… yeah. Put ’em on top of a floating airship in the sky with nary a label or signpost, except on a minimap that is better at showing stuff in two dimensions only.

Search Terms

Most are not excessively surprising.

Bookworm Adventures is surprisingly more popular than I thought. (It’s a good game though. And it’s a good post – in my not-so-impartial opinion – where I get to play with words. Lots and lots of words.)

I should really write more about the last, hmm?

(They must have been SO disappointed….

Searchers, don’t worry, besides one teeny safe for work cutscene in The Secret World, I believe the Grand Theft Auto, Dragon Age and Mass Effect universes hold out more hope. Mebbe Skyrim or Baldur’s Gate with mods? If you’re willing to go without the latter word of the pair, I recommend the hottest couple in GW2, Marjory and Kasmeer, and flex your imagination and fanfiction writing skills!)

Referrers and Commenters

You now know who you are.

I love all of you guys. In a totally platonic way.

Please keep it up. Make it a competition and beat each other, even. 😛

(Fer example, I know off the top of my mind that there’s at least two more reader-commenters whose names begin with R and one more whose name -sounds- like it should begin with R, that I appreciate too. And everybody else who I’m brain-blocked on at the moment. But y’all lost to the most prolific! Noooo…)

They’re the only way I can tell a human cared to read my drivel, rather than let my cynic tell me it’s bots.

If not for you, my valued readers…

…I’d still write…

…but I wouldn’t POST.

And that makes all the difference.

Thank you, one and all.

Here’s to another good year.

(After some house-cleaning. Aaaaargh.)

GW2: SAB – Informal Stats and Iterated Improvements

Over the past couple days, I’ve been watching the stats on my quick reference bauble guides with a good amount of curious interest.

Here’s World 1:

Zone 1

stats-sab-w1-1

Zone 2

stats-sab-w1-2

Zone 3

stats-sab-w1-3

This is all very informally speaking, since the sample size is pretty small, but I found a number of things fairly intriguing nonetheless.

Interest in grinding baubles via dig and bomb locations in the SAB took a steep dive after Sep 18, when the Tequatl patch dropped. Which matches anecdotal evidence of walking into the SAB these past few days and seeing practically no one around. Nearly everyone appears to be doing their best to cram into Sparkfly Fen.

World 1 Zone 2 – The Dark Woods – appears to be the favorite for bauble farming (on normal mode, anyway.) More people appear to view just that page alone, rather than visit all three as I would have expected from the way I use it as a lazy man’s memory aid, following the link from W1-1 all the way to W2-1.

Slightly less people check the page for W1-1, which could be because it doesn’t have too many baubles to offer, or simply because there aren’t that many in what is a small zone, so it can be remembered offhand without needing to refer to a guide.

About 2/3 of the people who check the guide follow on to W1-3, which is also fairly decent in bauble yields.

What I did find shocking was the stats for W2-1.

World 2 Zone 1

stats-sab-w2-1

Yes, less than HALF of the people who bothered to check the guide for the least popular zone of World 1, or less than a quarter of the people who are content to farm the most popular zone, visit World 2 Zone 1.

The drop is THAT noticeable.

Folks, you can easily get 500 baubles from a run through of World 2-1, plus two bauble bubbles from completion. And the rapids has not been hellish since Piranha Bend got tweaked.

If the quantity of baubles and the level of difficulty aren’t turning people away, then… what is?

My best guess is available time and the perceived size and reputation of the World 2 zones.

Some folks may simply not have enough time every night to run through four zones, and find one complete world a nice stopping point, perhaps. Or they simply run just one zone (1-2).

World 2 zones also seem very big on first glance and they might have been once bitten twice shy after having given World 2 a try when the SAB came out two weeks ago.

It almost makes me wish I could be a fly on the wall when Colin Johanson and Josh Foreman ran their datamining stats to see the real numbers frequenting the SAB… just to see if there’s any correlation between mine and theirs.

Funny, huh? I think it goes to show where the bulk of the majority interest lies. Ascended rewards, loot pinata, epic boss fights, the newest content.

The SAB now seems like a has-been – everyone hardcore must have already swept up the cosmetic rewards they wanted, finished their achievements and moved on like locusts.

Which is pretty sad, because some more quality-of-life improvements have snuck into the SAB since the Tequatl Rising patch and haven’t been talked about or highlighted as much.

Only the slowpoke loners like me who chose to give up the first few days of Camping @ Tequila (Only To Fail in Overflows) in favor of peacefully plodding through World 2 Tribulation Mode and finish the last achievements have been able to appreciate them.

fairdarttraps

Dart traps have gotten SO MUCH FAIRER.

Instead of a barely visible extrusion covered by a checkerboard red and black smooth texture that absolutely does not suggest that anything could shoot out of it, the new upgraded dart traps do contain little tube-like protrusions that suggest projectiles.

The less visible sneaky traps are also highlighted by a green glow that significantly improves visibility, especially the evil little ones that were originally hidden between two tall grey blocks, whose only warning of their presence was when they one-shot you in the back, producing many “WTF”s.

I felt that this made the top area of the grey block puzzle a lot more palatable. (Tribulation Cloud was the main pain in the butt, which is as it should be, in terms of difficulty modes.)

Gong pagoda is still slightly annoying, but not unbearably so. I even managed the full gong run on the first try (even though I was prepared to die like Dulfy suggested and wait for the gong to hit bottom), which may have been a lucky stroke of latency and reflexes, or subconsciously helped by the dart traps being ever so slightly easier to see and thus react more appropriately to.

As for World 2 Tribulation Mode feedback, the major nuisances were the latency-sensitive areas as expected.

World 2-2’s trampoline sequence near the end with the red pillars caused a not insignificant amount of rage as I simply couldn’t get sufficient momentum bouncing on the edge and moving forward. I had to bounce in three jump sequence and move forward/twist the camera fast enough and PRAY I got enough height. Many many deaths.

(Don’t get me started on the poison waterfall and lilypads of World 1-3’s shop. I haven’t revisited it since the last patch, but that one was CRUEL to any latency whatsoever. Easily 120+ deaths before somehow getting in. If GW2 tracks player deaths in map locations, I’m sure that would have turned up like a major hotspot like a raging forest fire on a satellite map. I even deactivated virus scanning and firewalls for that, in the hope of not additionally slowing down -any- packets between me and the server beyond geographic location lag.)

World 2-3’s main trouble spot was the area with ice spikes and blowing gatekeepers where there are two bananas and a tricky path to skate/hop across with No Clouds blocking the way. Not sure if it was latency again or just lack of control over ice, but it was very easy to slide a few millimeters too far and not be able to stop in time, or end up with that oh-so-enjoyable experience of dying in mid-air when you -think- you’ve cleared the lethal obstacle but the server tells you, “NOPE” half a second later.

Eventually, persistence got me through.

I’d talk about the zone being nearly entirely dark as one of those fake difficulty schticks, but players learned how to get around that long ago. I took one look, jumped around for fun for a couple minutes with a torch to enjoy the ambience, then promptly adjusted gamma. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

The only downside of that was that I used the in-game graphics options settings for it, which can only be done in full-screen mode, and that screwed up a three-hour first attempt when I alt-tabbed out to watch how Dulfy jumped the clouds to get to the secret shops where Moto’s Finger is available.

I apparently carelessly left myself in the path of a bouncing goat, which promptly must have knocked me off, then pure chance must have left me out of lives and chucked me into the continue screen. Which then must have run itself down while I was still blissfully watching and rewinding Youtube video in complete ignorance.

I switched back to find myself in the lobby of the Super Adventure Box, rapidly gaining a mood that was distinctly NOT as bright and sunny as the surrounding environment. Went to bed completely stumped by what had happened and only put two and two together later.

The next night, I only took two hours to get back to that point, with no need to refer back to the video, so there’s something to be said for practice.

I’m also pleased to report that this slow learner has finally figured out how to dodge the Storm Wizard’s charge after reading a bunch of forum tips. Turns out my issue was being too concerned with keeping track of where the wizard was and always having the camera swiveled to keep him in view. (I have tank tendencies, situational awareness, y’know?!)

Keeping two trapeziums away and staying near the edge, reflecting his attack and then immediately swiveling to run away along the edge without ever looking back is all it took.

It was trickier trying to figure out what to do with a yellow skin. My guardians are fire-Blood Legion themed (never gonna let that fiery dragon sword go) and blue holographic-themed respectively. I was fairly happy with their look ages ago.

Eventually the warrior alt volunteered. He’s -supposed- to be Iron Legion and has blue-and-grey metal themed armor to match, but he’s been moonlighting in a Flame Legion disguise in his berserker gear. Perhaps too much so given the number of times I keep getting targeted when doing CoF path 2 during the assassin-clearing stage.

Maybe the 8-bit axe will help distinguish him a little more from the NPCs.

yellowaxe

Maybe not.

I overwrote a Zenith Reaver skin for that, so it’s really a “too many skins, too few characters” kind of deal.

The green greatsword is still sitting in the bank. I don’t have a real clue of what to do with it. Maybe the asura can use it at some point once I figure out what other stats I can use. I already have two greatswords in his invisible bag… (and two staffs, and a hammer, and a scepter and focus…)

WTB: savable skins and wardrobe/gear switching capabilities.