If You’re Not Thinking, It’s Not the Game, It’s You

I apologize for the clickbaity title, but come now, hear me out:

Bhagpuss laments the loss of slower-paced, strategic thinking in our MMOs these days, skewing as they do towards action combat, ie. real-time, fast reaction skills required, etc.

I don’t want to touch on the first part of his post, which addresses a corresponding loss of in-game “world” / place / landmark-style trivia knowledge, since I fully agree that most of the mainstream MMOs these days are less about establishing an immersive sandbox-style world and more about creating a movie-like cutscene immersion that shepherds a player smoothly from one quest hub to another quest hub (or zone of appropriate level range.)

No, I want to talk about the -combat-, that supposed loss of situational awareness and appropriately thought-out reactions as the pace speeds up.

It has nothing to do with the pace. It has everything to do with the player.

Thinking, that is.

I’ll grant that it -is- harder to think -during- a faster-paced combat sequence, especially when there are spell effects exploding all over the place, the particle effects are busy emulating the 4th of July, causing the inexperienced to explode in little gibs before they even realize what has happened to them.

But what stops you from analyzing the combat –afterwards– and/or preparing -beforehand- with strategic intent for the next go at it?

This sort of unique game knowledge, this sort of game -thinking-, is what constitutes part of the word “skill” in many games.

A Starcraft expert is playing a vastly different game from what would be my supremely fumbling efforts with it. They have various meta strategies and counters in their mind, even as the actions are happening at several hundred APM, mouseclicking and keyboarding away.

While I would be struggling to even figure out how many gatherers I ought to be queuing up or maintaining on my resources, they’ve probably already assessed at a glance how much resources their opponents are able to gather and the corresponding numbers/types of units they’re likely to be able to produce with said number of gatherers.

Thinking has nothing to do with the pace.

A chess grandmaster would be playing on the same level as a Starcraft expert versus bumbling old me. The chess pieces are moved more slowly, the Starcraft pieces a little more in real-time, the difference in strategic thinking from an expert compared to myself would be the major factor in performance differential.

At most, the pace is merely an additional requirement to master sufficient reaction ability, -alongside- the actual thinking.

If we look at Keen’s actual anecdote:

“I used the right heals on the right people at the right time. I knew the mobs and what they were capable of, so I wasn’t healing people who had a mob I knew they could tank on them while someone else was risking death. I moved where I needed to be to let the classes do their job. I played correctly.”

It has everything to do with specific game knowledge, and very little to do with speed or pace.

Some time back, I read a Civilization 2 Let’s Play from the Let’s Play archive.

I was aghast to realize just how much strategic thinking I had failed to even appreciate when I was busy “playing” the game through my youth – I mostly just clicked “next turn,” researched tech, and brute-force conquered the world. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, but was definitely not ever at the level of thinking demonstrated by the Let’s Play writer.

Very similar stuff happened to me while watching videos of games like Endless Space or Galactic Civilizations. These guys were considering little numerical factors that I’d plain glossed over in the UI, and were correspondingly enjoying success at much higher difficulties while I was getting my ass whupped on the easiest. By a computer.

X-Com, Blood Bowl, you name it, player A can get by with minimal casualties while player B’s roster looks like a blood bath after one or two rounds.

Hello, these are all turn-based strategy games. There is all the time in the world to think before you tell the action to “go on ahead now.” The deciding factor is still each player’s specific knowledge about the game, how it calculates combat, whether they took any tactical factors into consideration, etc.

Take GW2 WvW zerg vs zerg combat. A new, inexperienced player looks upon it as a huge sea of red names facing off his or her own sea of friendly names. Stuff happens. Movement occurs. The crowds surge back and forth. Suddenly he or she is dead, and isn’t sure exactly what quite happened.

Play the game mode enough, listen in on and play with different commanders using different tactical strategies, try out various roles be they frontline melee or backline casters, and suddenly one has a little bit more appreciation of what exactly is going on, and can predict movement a little better, if only through learning the hard way where exactly not to be, in order to not die.

I haven’t played GW2 WvW in a long time. Just the other day, I decided to pop my head back in and run with a WvW commander squad for an hour or so, for the fun of it.

My level = definitely not at the level of a WvW pro any longer. I died a couple times in the initial pushes. By analyzing what had happened to me and using my general GW2 knowledge and -thinking- as I ran back from the spawn point, I started to get a general sense of some of the new meta changes that HoT brought.

CC is pretty fast and furious these days. My necromancer kept running headlong into walls of things that kept knocking me down and separating me from the main group. Apparently dragonhunters are lavishly enjoying the use of Hunter’s Ward on their longbows.

Therefore. I needed stability. I drug myself into a group in the squad next to a friendly dragonhunter, hoping that I might catch Stand Your Ground. I took a very brief glance at my exceedingly scattershot traits that I didn’t exactly feel like refining into a -good- WvW build just then, and did a hasty swap into Shroud giving stability.

I reminded myself that I was geared as a berserker/sinister hybrid – ie. ridiculously squishy, and to play more cautious backline (that is, ignore the commander when he cajoles everyone to run with him into stuff that you know will kill you, and position oneself so that that main group is between you and the bulk of the enemy forces most of the time, but near enough to land AoE bombs when the commander calls for it.)

Over time, I noticed that the enemy zerg had 1-3 dragonhunters that seemed to be traited and geared out to be ridiculously tanky, and these guys were coming ahead first, zerg-surfing. Presumably, I surmised, to bait out AoEs from our zerg. These were probably also the cc’ing dragonhunters that had been so successfully cutting our zerg in half.

Obviously, you don’t waste AoE wells on these guys. But I was annoyed enough with them to consider if there was anything else I could do.

Well. I was in a nonstandard hybrid build for a reason. I used to attend WvW resets as part of a really small havoc group that would occasionally join up with a main zerg mass – so I needed to be zerker enough to contribute in the accepted necromancer marks/wells way, but I decided that in small group pvp situations, I was a lot more comfortable and successful as a condi necro.

I ended up with a somewhat strange halfway successful hybrid that could have 1600+ condi damage with scepter/dagger swap and about 2000+ base Power on staff swap (enough to get loot when I landed wells, anyway.)

So. Since I had nothing better to do while the zerg was backing off away from these annoying dragonhunters, I swapped to my scepter/dagger condi and started autoattacking and applying bleed pressure. (HoT also buffed necro scepter to strip boons, apparently.)

Suddenly, the dragonhunters I’d been single-target attacking started stalling and going down.

I’m not narcissistic enough to think it was all me. For one thing, there wasn’t enough bleed damage being dealt. I do suspect though that between the bleeds appearing (which will usually pressure a player into somehow dealing with or reacting to them) -and- most likely a lucky boon stripping of the -stability- the dragonhunters were using to zerg surf…

…that probably set them up to get caught by the tons of other attacks which were flying their way from other players, some of which were probably immobilizes and damage and so on.

Either way, it was pretty satisfying. Our zerg managed to whittle down the other zerg in this fashion, literally peeling off one at a time like layers of an onion, and at some point, the other zerg caved in morale-wise and the remnants ran away (which is pretty much WvW battle victory) – possibly one of those dragonhunters that had gone down might have been the enemy commander.

Not exactly WvW meta, I don’t think. And I’m sure I’m no WvW pro. I just tell the story as I see it, from my limited point of view, at my current level of play.

Point is, it is still possible to -think-, at whatever level you’re currently playing at. It’s possible to go one step beyond merely reacting.

And my clickbaity post title is not about blame or forever labeling someone as a “bad” player either.

On the contrary, I would beseech everybody to be patient with themselves. To just -think- at whatever level you’re currently at. To strive to understand just that lil bit more each time you play, and not forget to enjoy yourself in the process.

Understanding unique, specific game knowledge comes with time (and an open mind.)

It will happen, as long as you don’t close yourself off to it. Just keep playing. Just keep thinking.

(Speed the process along by reading tips or advice or watching other players, if you like. Apply what you’ve learned in one game to another, where appropriate, etc. Humans are learning beings, the knowledge will sneak up on you when you least expect.)


Today, I was extremely chuffed to finish Path of Exile’s Act 2 Piety fight on Cruel difficulty with only one death – which I knew was very much my fault for getting greedy and not playing it safe.

Contrast this with all the other times I’ve run through this fight on sheer willpower, flask spammage, using someone else’s cookie cutter build without really knowing why it worked, etc.

Today, I realized I finally -understood- the Piety fight.

I grokked, somewhere deep down in my heart and brain, that she had separate phases and attacks that required different strategies to deal with.

And that I was both prepared, and open to using these different strategies.

In some phases, she stays in her human form and just rolls around some lightning balls. It so happens my current character is maxed out on lightning resists. This is a fairly safe phase for me to run up close and do some damage to her, given that my primary attack skill for this build is a close-range shotgunning type of spell.


In another phase, she transforms into a melee monster of epic stabby proportions.

You know what… running away is the better part of valor when she’s like this. Else she’ll kill me in a few stabs.

This was my one and only death to her – because I stayed to try and duke it out with her, when I -knew- I ought to have been running away. As I swallowed the bitter pill of the lost xp and the mistake made, and got ready to click the respawn button, I said to myself, well, this coming next time, you -know- better. Run the heck away from her in this phase now.


In yet another phase, she turns into an ice statue and shoots these crazy shotgunning ice arrows.

My cold resist isn’t that high at the moment. Shotgun style attacks mean the closer you are, the more projectiles will hit you.

So. Better part of valor. Keep your distance again. Strafe up and down, left and right to juke her targeting. Maybe even use the scenery to obstruct the arrows and hide behind it.

Only attack her when it’s safe to attack.

(I feel like there should be choirs playing and “Hallelujahs” in the background at this stunning revelation that took me so -so- long to learn.)

She alternates these phases every couple of tens of seconds or so, so yes, it’s fast-paced, because it’s an action RPG and I happen to like action combat as a preference, so I play action combat games… but look, no amount of mere -reaction- would save you if there wasn’t any -thinking- done prior to, during and after the fight.

Trust me. I know. I have died multiple times and sacrificed numerous bars of XP to her.

I am extremely chuffed today because I actually feel all this prior thinking falling into place.

I had enough damage to kill her. Was it an accident? Hell no. There was some initial build copying. Then the realization that I’d gone and copied a build that was one version outdated, and some things had been nerfed. I’d ended up adlibbing somewhat and using a fairly recent concept learned from GW2 to stack percentile damage increases to up dps. There was a lot of prior scrabbling around looking for anything that stacked extra percentile spell damage, be it on gear or skills.

I had enough survivability to stay alive long enough to kill her. Barely, but it could deal.

Also not an accident. I’d been taking care to stack armor, to prioritize +Life, to put on as much resistances as possible, all Path of Exile specific concepts learned slowly and painstakingly through prior play and watching guide videos.

Just -today- I learned a tip about flask usage that I hadn’t known in all the months I’d been “playing” PoE. The regeneration -stops- when your life or mana fills to the brim. There was a whole efficiency minigame about flask management that I’d previously never appreciated and probably squandered extremely wastefully with my panic-spamming tendencies.

I’d -just- put on a quick movement skill, a flame dash teleport, something I’d previously never used before, but realized super-recently that I would eventually need and learn to use something like a dodge or a dash to evade attacks to make such boss fights more doable.

It came in very handy for running away from Piety when one needed to run away. (I’m sure the 20% movement speed boots I decided to prioritize wearing also played a part.)

What looks on the surface a super-quick fight that barely lasts a minute and seems to be someone just reacting to her attacks… well, suffice to say there’s more going on under the hood that isn’t obvious at first glance.

I daresay it’s like that in every game. Fast or slow.

Pace is a preference.

Thinking, now. That’s not an option. That’s just a matter of time and willingness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So. Guide.

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

Assault Knights

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


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

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

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


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

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

If it is at 0, find another knight.


Reading their target bar tells you that they change modes.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

This should be DODGED.

Suggestions that have all worked for me, include:

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

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

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

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

Scarlet Phase 1 – Prime Hologram

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Scarlet Phase 2 – Three Colored Holograms

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


Blue is made for condition damage people.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Scarlet Phase 3 – Ultraviolet Prime Hologram

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

GW2: Visual Guide to the Twisted Marionette’s AoEs

aoe aieee

Hey all,

Just a quick reference guide to the AoE attack patterns that one might face in phase 2 of the Twisted Marionette Boss fight.

(Disclaimer: Diagrams are not 100% accurate, but hopefully illustrates the idea.)

They should hopefully give an idea of where the danger zones and safe spots are, and help with your situational decisions per fight.

Chain 1 – The Warden With the Big Arrow Pointing To Whoever Has Aggro


Marionette will stomp in sequence from first platform to the last, producing each orange circle in sequence.

Keep an eye out for her leg stomping on other platforms to predict when she’ll step on yours and prepare to dodge.

Suggested strategy: Dodge if/when the orange circle appears over you. Person with aggro faces mob away from the others. Others attack from the back.

In case of stubborn pets pinning the warden against the edge, check if the sides can be hit still.

Chain 2 – Mine-Laying Warden

chain 2

Marionette will attack a small rectangular strip that is almost dead center, but slightly nearer one side of the platform.

Suggested strategy: Kite warden into mines. (ie. Keep a mine between you and the warden.) Attack when it is stunned by mines and vulnerable. Stay in safe areas or dodge when the strip appears and you happen to be in it.

Chain 3 – Bomb Throwing Warden

Update: You can thank a failed overflow for this one. And my great platform who rezzed each other and finished the kill fast, plus the platform that didn’t – prolonging the fight long enough for me to document a hint of a pattern.


Marionette will start from the last platform and strike each platform one by one with an outstretched hand throwing green lightning as circular patches of AoE.


Use that like the leg in chain 1 to predict when the AoE will reach your platform. (Which is still easier said than done when there’s close-range bombs to watch for, but yeah…)

The placement of circular AoEs still seems a little different for each circuit of the arm, and since you can’t predict which platform you’ll turn up on, assume it to be random for now.

Another layout in the sample screenshot below:

chain 3 screen

See image at the top of the guide for yet one more layout.

Twisted warden produces bombs that do not have an AoE marker.

chain 3 bomb

Bombs go boom after a few seconds. Stay away from the bombs.

Suggested strategy: Ranged DPS and stay mobile. Have good reaction time on dodges. Melee only if you’re pro.

Much easier said than done, I know. Plenty of room for unlucky things to happen in this fight, including loadscreening into bombs.

Rez downed teammates wherever possible. Having a rez skill slotted might help.

Chain 4 – Cone Shriek Warden With Lots of AoEs

chain 4

Marionette will do a sweeping sword attack that arcs around all the platforms, covering a good part of each arena.

The warden has three kinds of attacks:

phase 4 shriek

It will do a cone shriek towards the player with aggro. Dodge away or receive stacks of confusion. Auto-attacking with confusion is bad. (Click away from any valid targets to detarget / turn off autoattack / holster weapon are all ways to stop attacking when confused.)

Note the shriek does not reach the edges of the platform.

phase 4 center

Warden produces a patch of circular AoEs in the center. (Diagram is approximate, I didn’t -actually- count how many AoEs there are.)

When the warning marker disappears, they leave behind a black patch that causes torment. Moving with torment causes double damage. Be able to condition clear.

phase 4 outer

Warden will produce a circular ring of AoEs on the outermost perimeter of the platform, leaving behind the same black patches that cause torment.

There is a small safe zone in between the two AoEs, approximately 3/4 of the way from the center, nearer to the edge.

Suggested strategy: Ranged dps. Keep near the edges of the platform, moving and dodging as required to avoid AoEs and the cone shriek. Melee only if you’re pro.

Have condition clears. Don’t run around wildly with torment on or attack blindly with confusion on to avoid taking extra damage.

For achievement, what worked for me was staying in the safe spot at the power generator and ranged dps’ing. The cone shriek should not be able to reach you. You avoid the center aoe and only have to worry about the outer aoe (or just eat the torment and stay still.)

Chain 5 – Multiplying Warden

chain 4

Marionette produces patches of small circular AoEs that will essentially cover the above areas of the platform, with gaps in between. The area near the power generator appears to be safe.

Suggested strategy: Stack on the power generator and DPS down the multiplying warden(s) with melee cleaves/AoEs.

A big thank you to my references:

Knigaesera’s video of the cutscenes and each of the champion phases is great for seeing an example fight in motion.

Dulfy’s guide to the Twisted Marionette is, of course, a good foundation to start with.

GenocideOPS has another comprehensive one stickied on the GW2 forums.

Shortlinks to this guide:




GW2: Your Chance to Vicariously Live Through SAB World 2-1 Piranha Bend With My Latency

  • Multiple repeated attempts in one small area. Check.
  • Breaking down the problem into as small parts as possible to narrow down its location. Check.
  • Documentation via video and writing. Check.

Yep, I feel like I’ve just beta tested some content!

I had some time yesterday and decided to spend it on exploring World 2-1 Rapids on normal mode.

The compulsive draw was the prospect of discovering secret stuff, and wanting to experience the difficulty level prior to the impending fixes.

(What can I say, I’m a masochist that way, I need to experience things firsthand both ways to do a PROPER comparison. I would not feel good telling you guys that things are easier/better if I never even tried it prior.)

I pulled out the last of my continue coins from the prior update (all seven of them) to add to the three collected via World 1, resolving to give up and wait for fixes when they were all used up.

The first piece of advice I have for anyone wanting to play SAB’s world 2 is to GO SAVE UP 325 BAUBLES, look up a guide and buy yourself the nunchakus / chain-sticks from World 2-2 on Infantile.

This eases up the difficulty of mob fights considerably, especially if you’re prone to being a little laggy or slow on reaction times.

Much of the rest of 2-1 is then fairly manageable difficulty, though it may still seem quite lengthy during the process of finding the right jumps to get from checkpoint to checkpoint.

If your latency is no good, you may experience a little more problems at areas with moving water. In most places, there are secret ways to either bypass a good bit of that water or break down the jumping across dodgy rapids into small jumps by looking out for and staying on solid rocks as much as possible.

(If your ping is such that you can get flung off solid rock, then I have no solution for you besides waiting for the fix rumored to hit today or tomorrow, and praying it is effective. Sorry.)

With the exception of notorious Piranha Bend with multiple water spouts.

You can bypass the first part of it up to the checkpoint by using the lower flower, shooting into the secret passage through the waterfall, moving past the bears and onto the top platforms.

I suggest breaking down each jump if you’re having difficulty coordinating flawless swift bounces by each separate solid rock. Take your time to grok the pattern of the appearing and disappearing spouts, bomb your turtle if you need that additional platform stability, and do your best to get to the safe rock.

This is highly ping-dependent at present, so I will not stoop to being condescending. Your system and connection will either handle it a lot better than mine if you live nearer the servers, or you may have a similar or worse experience than me and be absolutely helpless to do anything about it. We’re all eagerly waiting for that fix in the hopes it will clear up the problems.

I ended up quite badly defeated by the penultimate jump with three geysers.

Two possible strategies if you want to try them. With good ping or a sight unseen count-off from the rock to compensate, wait for the part of the pattern where all three geysers appear at once and do a continuous swift hop from spout to spout to spout to rock. Dulfy managed this. I consistently couldn’t.

If you live around South East Asia and have similar ping to ArenaNet’s servers (200-300ms), you can also attempt this method. Wait for the three geysers to appear. Hop onto the first geysers. Do not jump yet. Wait for the second geyser to vanish. Begin counting once it vanishes. “1, 2, jump!” Jump on the word jump. If your timing and ping coincides, you’ll faith leap right onto the second as it appears.

Stay there. The third geyser should vanish in the next split second. Count off again. “1, 2, jump!” and faith leap onto the third. Hop from there to rock.

I got close three times with this strategy. From the last geyser, my advice is to hurl yourself to the right. I had to blindly leap into the waterfall and if you just go straight ahead, you’ll risk banging against rock and still being in water sweeping range.

There is no advice I can give for the random syncing errors with moving water that you may encounter, besides wait for a fix. Share in our misery in the meantime.

In total, I started with 25 lives and 290 baubles at that checkpoint. I started video recording at life 12 when I managed to analyze where my problem area was. I was down to life 3 and 184 baubles (just from bombing turtles) when I finally managed to luck across the waterfall.

The two attempts in real-time that you might like to watch for the methodical step-by-step and count-off strategy are here:

If you feel like watching my six attempts at trying to do the jump in one continous motion Dulfy-style and getting screwed up by lag, have at it. It’s highly tedious, even at doubled speed.

Add on seven more attempts that were screwed up due to operator error (to err is human, after all, and I am far from a pro jumper) if you have the stomach for repetitive content.

Now double the time you just spent watching the videos to get a little closer to what it felt like experiencing it in person.

I really hope that fix works.

GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Liadri the Concealing Darkness


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

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

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

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

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

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


1) Move to the left of the first white patch

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


Then here:


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

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

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

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

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

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

Best of luck to everyone attempting her!