Path of Exile: Finding the Perfect Spot on a Variable Difficulty Curve

I struggle to put into words why Path of Exile is so compelling to me.

From one perspective, it seems like everything I’d hate. A vertical progression system where your gear increases in numbers the higher in level you go, with an established and abrasive/dismissive hardcore community on the forums playing what appears to be a completely different endgame at a super rarefied level.

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for not being “forced” into playing that way or grouping up with others in order to have a good time or get your money’s worth for that month.

Path of Exile is perfectly playable at a more casual level, at one’s own pace, and there’s no feeling like a second class citizen if you don’t have to interact with those playing at different levels.

It rather reminds me of the original Guild Wars in that sense. I played GW1 happily solo, trundling along with my heroes taking the super scenic route, improving my skills at my own pace, not at all concerned that there was a group of players busy speedrunning extra-hardmode instances and earning high level currency way above my head, because I didn’t need to trade with, see or interact with them in order to continue my own progression.

I’m hooked and I can’t put it down.

Part of it is the depth of systems to learn, with the potential for a gazillion alts that are built and played differently, with so many skills to try  out and put through their paces.

Part of it is that it’s fun even when played at a low level, with the foreseeable future potential of high-level play to look forward to.

Part of it is that there’s a variety of different difficulties and game modes that even novices can dip a toe into and have partial success and rewards, while leaving the experts to mop up at the top.

Part of it is that it’s free or low cost for those who just want to dabble with it or play at a nonserious level, while asking for (but not forcing)  more monetary investment from those players who are more heavily invested into the game – which is one of the more philosophically ethical ways of making money, in my book.

Path of Exile has all the hallmarks of a good roguelike, keeping in line with its Diablo-graphical roguelike roots.

Every time I play it, I learn a little more about how the game works, and I get better at what I’m doing, even if the overall structure of the maps remain the same.

Each character is a learning experience that builds upon the previous one, and one can make a lot of them if one wishes. (I think it’s 25 before the game starts asking you to buy character slots.)

So how am I having fun, despite playing in ways that are anathema to an endgame PoE player?

First off, I’m playing solo and self-found by choice. (I just learned about the term “self-found” the other day. Apparently there’s a whole evolution in Diablo ARPG parlance I missed after not touching the genre since Diablo 2.)

I detest trading via chatting up players, and from reading reports, it hasn’t sounded like an auction house has helped Diablo 3 very much either, beyond making it super easy to twink out a character, effectively making in-game at-level loot drops worthless and unrewarding.

There’s an account stash though, and I’m not yet limiting myself to not-sharing-between-alts, since RNG is RNG, and I’ve already accepted it will take me much longer to impossible to get the best drops if I’m not crowdsourcing off the entire PoE playerbase to farm them for me.

I have no issues with time-consuming if the game isn’t charging me by the hour or month, and if it’s still perfectly fine to play and enjoy the game without said best drops.

The advantage of not immediately twinking is that the early game isn’t immediately invalidated into easy mode, and mid-level drops are still exciting for me. I see no need to rush myself towards boredom that quickly.

I’m also an altholic, which is a good defence against boredom and lack of variety. Any interesting drop becomes an “Oooh, that sounds like a good character to make so he/she c an wear that.”

I have, in fact, decided to play all six classes in relative sync with each other for now, so that each character can use good drops occurring within that level range.

You see, my first character was a Shadow and I played it as you’d expect, building what sounded good at the time and taking him as high up as I thought I could progress.

This turned into a dual dagger user focusing on dps, who started to feel significant mob attention pressure and then turned into a hybrid summoner to combat this with a minion blockade.

Which worked right up to the point where the damage from certain bosses and rare mobs started to decimate minions in a few seconds and one-shot gib me if I went too close.

Further reading revealed that I should maybe have not made the common newbie mistake on focusing on damage over any survability (though I did have minions, which is at least something).

Furthermore, my gear was distinctly underleveled by 20 levels, since I’d been hanging on to them for the nice mods off the low level rares I’d popped. Solution: Figure out how to get current level gear, which led to some interesting learning experiences experimenting with commonly used farming areas and crafting via vendor recipes.

My gem slotting also left something to be desired, since a) I had barely any currency to get good linked slots and b) no support gems to buff up my skills with, since I don’t trade, and a first character hasn’t had much time to build up a gem stash.

Hmmmm…

The difficulty curve of Path of Exile takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s an interesting design – even if by accident.

poedifficulty

It looks a bit like this.

The game starts out easy to normal in Acts 1 and 2, and may have even been criticized for being a bit of a slow start.

In Act 3, the level of challenge suddenly jumps up a rather surprisingly astronomical amount, when more mobs start using crazy elemental damage and spells you might not be prepared for, and doing a lot more funky things like kiting you or having a bunch of tricks and mechanics up their sleeve.

If you get past it, by whatever means necessary – eg. getting better at the game, getting a group to get you through it, checkpoint rezzing and brute forcing through it, the next difficulty level ramps down a little by sheer virtue of being back in Act 1… until you hit Act 3 again.

Each time, the overall difficulty ramps up ever so subtly, as in Cruel, 5% of your experience is removed on death, and one apparently gets -20% to all elemental/chaos resistances (something I just noticed in the past day or so) and in Merciless, 10% of your experience is removed on death, and one apparently will get -60% to all resistances then (OH GOD.)

Levels apparently follow this exponential curve, as it appears to be commonly accepted that level 100 is a grind of the highest insanity to attempt to achieve, and that 80 or 90 is a more practically achievable goal.

Which is an interesting bit of trickery reminiscent of the Guild Wars Hall of Monuments.

For those who are compelled to reach the very end, they will do so and spend a lot of gameplay time in the process, hopefully enjoying themselves along the way (or at least relishing their end goal when they get there.)

Whereas it is absolutely possible to stop at an optimal point under maximum level/difficulty and consider oneself effectively ‘done’ without losing too much in the process, and also fine (if not commonly advertised by the hardcore, whose mindset is predicated on everyone buying into the endless ladder climb) to stop at any level under that by choice, and suffice oneself with whatever has been obtained.

I honestly didn’t think I had reached the commonly described ‘wall’ at level 51 with my first character, as I still felt it was possible to get further with a bit more effort, but there was certainly a distinct bogged and slowed down feeling.

So by choice, I decided to shelf him for the moment and start trying out other characters.

It also so happened that I was poking around the Path of Exile website and found an interesting page on Events – Seasonal Races.

What is this? A game that actually has events scheduled at all hours of the day, catering for all timezones?!

Reading up on them revealed something even more interesting.

As a non-competitive individual fully cognizant of the fact that one will never compete at the same level as the experts willing to devote their lives to mastering one tiny aspect of one game, it was still worth it to participate in Path of Exile races because there were points awarded for goals that sounded reachable on a personal scale.

Go ahead and click on any of the 1 hour races. (I’ll add a random link here to an Endless Ledge event, but it’s probably time-sensitive.)

Yes, it’s a race. You get more points for being the top experience gainer of any class, up to the top 20 in decreasing points order.

But what is this? Every class is in its own league, so to speak, and a single player can only play one class at a time. So you could very well stand a better chance if you pick a less popular class and master it well. And balance between classes is a little less important if each is competing with only members of its kind.

Ok, what if you’re like me and doubt you’d even see top 500 for any class, let alone top 20?

You go for the participation points! Points are awarded if you can attain certain levels within the time limit.

Bingo! A goal that is only contingent on your own skills (or lack thereof.)

And of course, you set your sights on something really modest. Like the minimum level for a single point, and see how much further you can take it up from that as you get more experience with races.

It’s sometimes a bit easier said than done, as you’ll find out. Some races require you to be alive at the end of the race, which can be quite a personal challenge to balance with trying to go as fast as you can.

I’m personally failing to reach the minimum level for points 2 out of 3 times with the 12 minute solo burst races because those are so tight on time and micro and knowing what the hell you’re doing and how quickly you can make good judgements/guesses and not waste a second. But they’re quick enough to enjoy repeated iterated tries with.

How about rewards and prizes?

Well, there’s a random lucky draw for participation, with the more points you get adding up to more chances. So you get that luck and RNG factor to make some fortunate people happy.

And there’s also personal point total prizes, which are again reminiscent of the Guild Wars Hall of Monuments. You can get a few easy prizes almost right away, with minimum effort and participation so even the most casual has something to play with. There’s a more modest average goal to set one’s sights on, if you’re an average sort of player. With super crazy exponential hardcore prizes at the very top if you have no life but the ones being spent in Wraeclast.

Such a system also encourages participation and attendance for as many events as possible, so that you can build up to a higher total points score.

Which is probably a desirable thing in terms of both game longevity and always having players to compete with/against.

Learning to race at an ultra-beginner level also taught me a couple things:

  • about the value of AoE and ignoring individual or small groups of mobs in favor of gunning down the big packs
  • about how to manipulate xp gain by going to a level range that is appropriate or higher level than yours (as opposed to the common situation in the regular game of being overleveled for that area)
  • about how not to obsess over fully clearing an area or attacking every mob you see and move to another zone if that’s your goal (something I also have personal problems doing in traditional roguelikes – if I see it, I want to kill it, which can and often does lead to Yet Another Stupid Death)
  • about the basic strengths and weaknesses of the various classes I tried and their starting skills and weaponry, including what turned out surprisingly well when ad-libbed in the middle of a race just because a particular skill gem or item dropped

See a big nasty immobile totem, producing lots of lightning shocks?

Close in on it to melee and get gibbed, or in a world of hurt and have to run away?

Well, there’s this bow nearby. And hey, I have a second weapon swap set. What if I just used it and sniped from range?

GOSH DARN, IT DOESN’T MOVE, my hp is barely dropping, AND IT’S DEAD.

No shit, Sherlock. Can you now recognize that boss and use the optimal strategy for it, instead of insisting on meleeing -everything-?

Yessir.

Yesterday, I went back to my level 52 Shadow. (He snuck up a level by very persistently grinding his way through certain areas and getting to a safer area to farm in, getting set back every so often by 5-10% via a couple of deaths, and making up for the xp lost by grinding yet again.)

I got by the next two or three areas with a minimum of fighting by hugging the walls of the map and going slowly, engaging only in fights when I aggroed something, and getting to the next exit as quickly as possible.

Why I never thought of this earlier, I don’t know.

I discovered by sheer random chance that running around in a big circle to kite some exploding mobs while getting in the occasional poison stab on the exploding mob generating mob (which also shoots projectiles in a frontal cone) is a far more effective strategy than trying to use a movement skill to get behind the mob and melee it (which leaves one open to getting gibbed by the frontal cone projectiles and exploding mobs racing towards you), than trying to range it from afar (because my range skills are sucky at this point in my build), than trying to overwhelm it with minions (sorta kinda works but is hell on my mana, which I’m built to replenish via killing things), than charging in gung-ho (because I’m not built as a tank, duh.)

Why I never thought of this earlier, I don’t know either. But a map that I never looked forward to traversing suddenly just became more palatable.

I devised another strategy of fighting mobs I didn’t dare to stand and fight by spamming minions around a corner and a doorway, which again made some encounters doable where I might have once rushed in and instantly exploded in a shower of blood.

I figured out it was ok to swallow my pride and avoid certain rare mobs with really horrific modifiers (life regen, life leech AND extra damage and attack speed) after they’ve already destroyed you once, since they were standing around in a side room, rather than insisting that I eventually kill them after 4-5 more deaths (and experience penalty) if I had another goal, such as getting to another zone or keeping what xp I had for the next level.

That it was ok to play the game smart and strategically like a roguelike, rather than just rushing forwards and holding down left mouse button to get showers of loot.

That it was also possible to control one’s difficulty level and go to an area that you outlevel, AND rush forwards, holding down left mouse button to get some drops of loot (if at a lower level range, and only useful for alts or vendoring, but I always need currency anyway and there’s the possibility of finding a good linked white item for my 101 alts, while having mindless ez-killing fun.)

And you know, I’m happy.

I’m happy that I’m always learning a little bit more about the game, getting a teensy bit more clever each time, that I’m making slow and steady progress while having fun.

If I don’t have fun playing this way, I also have the choice of taking a shortcut through it all, by following an already made build, by trading with people for specific items to deck out the build further, by partying up with other players to grind at increased xp and loot rates, by rushing ahead to endgame as fast and effortlessly as one can possibly make it via good strategy and preparation and through any and all means available to me.

And I’m sure people who choose to play this way are happy too, in their own way. (At least, I hope they are. It would be sad if they are miserable at the end of it.)

It’s nice to play a game that supports a range of varied playstyles and preferred difficulty levels.

GW2: On Thieves and the Edge of the Mists

Today's EOTM lesson is on supply!

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed yet, but I have a tendency to go quiet when I’m avidly playing WvW.

One simply runs out of new topics to talk about, or runs into the fear of revealing too much about one’s own server’s habits and patterns – that can be then capitalized on by another server.

And there’s a limited amount of general things to say about mass battles and player versus player that hasn’t already been covered -everywhere-, including in real life.

Do a blow by blow battle report?

Today, we captured X’s garrison. The other day in some other timezone, they captured ours. Swap in bay/hills/towers, etc. for garrison. Today, we wiped their zerg. Two hours later, they wiped us. The next clash, we wiped them back.

It’s a yawnfest to write, let alone read.

It’s only -not- a yawnfest when you’re actually there in the thick of things, reacting to the immediacy of it and figuring out the best place to place yourself and your damage.

Which is what keeps players coming back, I suppose.

Talking about larger scale strategy and map politics brings us dangerously close to revealing server thinking, so it’s hard to know what to cover, and to be frank, each commander and player can have a different read on the situation (some more accurate than others) and you can never control all the players on a map anyway, so it’s always “sounds great in theory, may go all Murphy’s Law in practice.”

The basics, of course, is not to push on two servers at once to make ’em both mad and coming after you.

Common mistake, fer instance, often performed by less strategic commanders in the Borderlands is to try to push the home server, fail miserably, and then pick the easier sidelong option instead, moving east or west. This makes the other invading server mad, and before you know it, there’s a rollicking fight down in the south ruins while the home server looks on, cackles and gets their yaks in.

The ideal is to have both invading servers push up into the home server and 2 vs 1 them into submission, or failing which, at least hold on to the third that is yours.

Unless, of course, the intention is to -not- play as expected and have the fight in the other server’s territory because that server is more of a longer term threat, or because some havoc group has made life so difficult that the commander gets fed up and leads the zerg into a punishment strike in the hope that the other team’s commander gets the message. (Sometimes they do, and sometimes, they’re as thick as a brick or just looking for a fight.)

On and on, play and counter-play, etc.

Whatever, I’m not a commander, so I’m not privy to everything that goes on behind-the-scenes: scouting information, intra-map communication, etc. But if you’re in the right tier, there’s a lot of it. And it elevates WvW to something a little more heady than a PvD karma train.

Speaking of PvD karma trains, the self-set goal of completing ALL of the shiny temporary achievements effectively shoved me into the Edge of the Mists, since there are two EOTM specific achievements that can only be gotten there.

My innate distaste of its design still stands.

Edge of the Mists is very asymmetric, I feel. One side builds up an unstoppable zerg, and everyone else logs out and into another EOTM overflow, hoping to find a friendly zerg on their side. Or one side has lots of roamers, a coordinated guild group or gank squads, and the same thing happens. Or two zergs form self-interested karma trains, doing its best to avoid each other while the last side tends to be nonexistent.

I enjoy WvW for its strategic PPT aspects and coordinated zerg fighting, and both are best found on the “real” WvW maps, rather than a map in which there’s even LESS incentive to defend anything.

Edge of the Mists shoves me into mixing with players that are generally of lower tiers, and generally speaking, lower tiers have a MUCH looser grasp on WvW tactics because they are not accustomed to strongly defended objectives where a coordinated map blob could waypoint in and run you over if you take several tens of seconds too long.

This means fights become uninteresting zerg vs zerg fights of the long range variety, and the few souls who -try- to coordinate a push end up demonstrating the futility of their strategy by running alone into the enemy zerg because no one else has enough confidence and trust in each other to do the same.

Until you run into a coordinated guild group vacationing in the Edge of the Mists, and then they get to play wrecking ball with the pugs, laughing all the way to the bank.

However, I have learned to tolerate it.

I’ve perhaps even come to terms with it, adapting around it and recognizing that it may have a part to play, after all.

It was during one of those everpresent offensive karma trains, trundling around doing its best to avoid the enemy zerg and capturing objective after objective (thank you, moar reactors and special objectives plz!) that this revelation came to me.

Edge of the Mists is EZ Introductory Mode.

That is its function.

Hey, WvWers, look, you’re PvEing! These mobs even have a little mechanic to learn from time to time. (eg. Troll regenerates with defiant stance – can be dazed and preventing from firing the skill with good timing, or if you’re alone, controlling your dps. Zergs can never do so, of course, so I amuse myself trying to daze appropriately. Or separate the earth elementals if you’re invading Overgrowth’s keep to damage them effectively, etc.)

Hey, PvErs, look, you’re WvWing! You run into enemy red name players from time to time, and they will probably kill you! But death is okay! You can die a few times and go back to karma training and earning phat lootz, and it’s still a happy experience! The zerg will keep you safe! (Most of the time.) But see, PvP isn’t so bad, it’s not personal, other people die too.

You might even learn a few things that are relevant to WvW, such as catapults not doing as much damage to doors, commanders having a /supplyinfo command that you don’t have, and not to drop extra siege if the commander didn’t ask for it!

Rarely, you might even bump into the odd commander or person who loves to drop siege and make a nice defence of the place, and you might even learn about the effectiveness of arrow carts and such that way. (We will not cover trebs or mortars. That is usually beyond basic EOTM strategy. But catapults may occasionally make a showing against a wall, or some smartass might be doing something to a bridge.)

Some guy learns about the non-effectiveness of catapults, while I marvel at how barely anyone looks away from the gate.
Some guy learns about the non-effectiveness of catapults, while I marvel at how barely anyone looks away from the gate. (One has gotten rear ended by a blob way too many times to learn that lesson. Alert thieves are great survivors.)

For the experts, Edge of the Mists is a vacation spot. A place to unwind after the pressures of “serious business” WvW.

I have, unfortunately, not really gotten many opportunities to glom onto a coordinated guild group doing silly stuff in EOTM, thanks to a lack of mic and WvW network connections to get a party invite into the right overflows, but I listen in from time to time, and damn, do they sound like they are having fun. Loot showering them from all sides. Sudden laughing panic as their map unfamiliarity sometimes gets them into highly awkward positions facing the prospect of sudden drops and sharp stops. Even more loot. The occasional admission that this “PvE thing” might have something going for it from time to time.

For the novices who encounter the experts, the fun is perhaps more one-sided, but again there is an important purpose. Nothing opens up one’s eyes than losing, and losing badly.

One is suddenly made aware of more possibilities. That someone is out there accomplishing stuff at a level that you are currently not at.

Not everybody will immediately do a 180 because of this. But for the rare soul with the will and desire to do so, it may engender a drive to improve oneself and seek out those avenues by which they can do so.

For the average Joes, of which I consider myself one, Edge of the Mists has a dual purpose. It is a slightly more sophisticated champion farm and a training ground.

Want to turn your brain off? Don’t feel like improving today? Want to mingle with the unwashed lower tier masses and get some of that karma train action that is nigh impossible to get in Tier 1 (and maybe Tier 2?) Follow the blue dorito, choo choo along autoattacking with 1 from range, watch the xp/karma/badges/wxp fly in.

You see, I have learned that I can follow -any- quality of commander on a thief without feeling sour or angry at his or her lack of tactical sense.

I used to play a guardian. First in, and committed till death or victory. You try running away on a non-roaming zerg spec guardian. It doesn’t work. You keep the group strong, you are dependent on the group staying strong and not letting you down.

You are also dependent on the commander not being a derp and doing stupid stuff like running head-on into too much enemy fire without whittling down the enemy first or catching them off-guard or placing siege or otherwise giving you a chance of victory (because your job is stick with him like glue and step where he steps. If your driver is good, he takes you to the correct places. If he’s bad, well…)

Every time the group wipes, I get more and more bitter.

The neverending learning process of playing a thief has been a big wake up call.

When you play a (relative) squishy in WvW, you have dual responsibilities of staying (relatively) close to the commander to aim damage his way AND not dying.

(As a thief, one can also take this up another level by search and destroying important-to-the-zerg enemy squishies. I’m still working on this part, wrapping my head around staying at range, surviving via positioning, and contributing blasts and damage has been challenging enough.)

As a thief, the major difference that I feel is that all my deaths are MY fault.

-I- screwed up and made a mistake. I stepped where I shouldn’t have. I got caught by an immobilize and failed to react to it appropriately in time. I stood in the path of an angry melee train and failed to see it coming or react fast enough. I stuck around way too long and got greedy when I should have booked it instead.

Thieves are excellent at booking it.

If half the zerg has disintegrated, the commander has gone down and there’s three or four enemy players for every player still left standing, it’s time to GTFO.

The enemy zerg goes after the most obvious most easy targets fleeing for the horizon, whereas the thief that just shadow refuged is not the first thing on the angry mob’s mind. Then it’s time to stroll off in a nonobvious direction, preferably not in front of all those melee cleaves. (Which is sometimes easier said than done if they’re facing your exit, or turned your way for whatever reason, but at least you had the best chance of escape being unseen and all that.)

Every time I die (and I do die now and then because I am still a horrible thief-in-training), it’s been an opportunity to check back on the combat log, see precisely what the hell got me, and analyze what I shouldn’t have done and what I -might- have done to accomplish my goal next time.

I freely confess that I am a terribad thief. Killing people is not the first thing on my mind. Usually GTFOing is. My survival instinct is just ridiculous or something. Tank nature too stronk. It took a few deaths to realize that I was squishy now, and then I’ve overcompensated ever since.

I’m still learning the appropriate combo chains that good thieves seem to pull off effortlessly and score an instant down with them. Part of it is probably latency, but part of it, I suspect, is simple muscle memory and twitch that I’ve not internalized yet. I can play my guardian main blindfolded (2 to blind, F1 blind/might/vuln, autoattack or 3 to hit & reflect, 4 if I need a blind again or autoattack, keep 5 and F3 as standby emergency blocks, etc.)

I can’t yet do the same with a thief.

To me, acceptance and recognition of the fact that one is bad is the first step towards improvement. One is bad when one cannot pull off what other players have demonstrably been able to do. It’s useless to put blinders on and think, “Oh, I’m still okay. Nothing’s wrong.”

Step one: Get a good build.

When you’re inexperienced with the class, this usually means following what the more experienced have done first, and adapting to suit your purposes later.

Finding good thief builds have been rather perplexing sometimes, since everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion that theirs is the best or most functional. It took a while of comparing similarities and putting aside interesting stuff to try later (tried condi thief, couldn’t quite get one’s head around it. Sword builds seemed interesting, but since killing people 1 on 1 or 1 vs X wasn’t my first priority, I put that aside to learn later too.)

I settled for the dirt standard dagger/pistol thief variant with a mix of PVT and zerker to do a trial run on, plus shortbow for zerging because I -like- running with and around zergs, dammit.

Step two: Learn how to use it.

This at first constituted of just taking it out for spins and trying to get familiar with all the skills, but I was quite aware that I wasn’t really getting the hang of the initiative points system the thief uses.

It finally hit me that I needed more outside help when I overheard someone also mention on voice that they couldn’t get the hang of their thief and triple leaping over blinding powder for stealth.

This bowled me over. Three times?! Are you serious? I thought I was already doing it right by performing the combo once to go into stealth and then position for backstab.

I didn’t even know if I had the latency to do it three times.

I had to log in and find out.

(Turns out I can, if I get lucky/fast enough. Albeit, this was done -without- the complication of having red names around throwing me into a tizzy. But I resolved from now on to make dual leaps through blinding powder whenever possible to lock it into muscle memory.)

Next on the agenda is to find time to watch thief videos on Youtube. Yishis is apparently recommended as a good one. (I skimmed one of his videos for three minutes and the speed of his thief and analysis was already blowing my mind.)

Step three: PRACTICE till your fingers bleed.

It’s made the WvW league more interesting for me again, I can tell you.

I’m a noob and learning all over again. (This bodes well when I decide to bring an elementalist or mesmer into play some day. Changing classes appears to keep the game very fresh.)

I think I’m getting the hang of staying alive. Mostly.

I’ve started to branch away from just shortbow’ing all the things and switch to melee mode to jump on things other than yaks. (Though I suspect the elementalists I’ve picked just find me a nuisance rather than a threat. Still, it’s probably -slightly- distracting.)

Still working on picking the right opportunities and the right targets – having issues with keeping track of where they go sometimes (and still know where both melee trains are) and deciding if I would be better served blasting fields or hounding a target of opportunity.

And in case you thought I’d forgotten: here’s where Edge of the Mists comes in handy from time to time.

It’s easier to run into less experienced players and less experienced zergs to practice being horrible on, rather than always getting destroyed or forced to run away from some -very- practiced T1 roamers in comms with each other and ready to wolfpack all over you.

I have a hunch that the same probably applies to commanding too.

Edge of the Mists can serve as an introductory mode for newbie commanders. The karma train pretty much drives itself, except they’ll appreciate siege drops and a dorito that picks the next target for them.

If things go wrong, no one’s going to get all huffy about PPT or how some other commander could have done it better.

Yeah, you probably won’t be able to practice coordinated zerg fighting with an EOTM militia, but that’s the only downside.

(You could, however, bring your new-to-coordinated-zerg-fighting GUILD into EOTM and probably get some great morale boosts and practice on easy targets that way.)

Still, I think I’m going to be relieved when I finally get all those damn reactors done.

GW2: Three Year Old Plays Super Adventure Box

This, my friends, is why it is important to have properly graduated levels of difficulty.

There are all kinds of people from all walks of life and ages playing our game. That is one of the awesome things about it.

Some day, this kid is gonna crack Tribulation, but she would not have gotten there without the intervening modes capturing her attention and helping her have fun while learning.

Infantile should not be as hard as Normal should not be as hard as Tribulation.

Stop demanding for difficulty increases across the board just so you can show off how l33t you are.