It’s the beginning of the end for Teakettle – for certain timezones at least.
Three days ago, I logged on at around Aussie peak hour (their 7.30-8.30pm) and the gathered crowd at Tequatl under the command of previously mentioned guildie managed to bring him down to 1-2% health.
A day or two before that, according to him, he had achieved 3 kills in a row.
One day ago, I logged in to find myself in Sparkfly main without having to beg for anyone to pull me over. In fact, on casing the area, there only looked to be 50 people hanging around the vicinity, with said guildie exhorting map chat that the zerg just needed to “stack better” next time, doing his best to lead a raid map full of irregulars.
Today I popped in an hour later to find barely 20-30 people chilling around the south turrets. Fish heads were up, which suggested no successes in the Teq before I came on.
For me, at least, the stress is over. I finished all the achievements a couple days ago. And I can only assume that others have been doing the same over the past couple of days.
The good news is that I do still see some Sunbringer titles running around in the Tequatl zerg, so a couple people are still hooked to either the idea of the fight, the socialization or the very rare chest goodies.
But the first rumblings have begun.
My next hope is when the Asian primetime crosses over into Euro primetime – around my midnight to 1am. This is also noon to 1pm for NA East Coast and morning for NA West Coast.
A couple days ago at this time, a whole bunch of people (not a few from well known WvW guilds) had showed up and Tequatl had been knocked over like clockwork with 4min 30seconds left on the timer.
Yesterday at this time, I logged right into Sparkfly actual, no pulling needed.
Well, granted, map chat revealed there had been a Tequatl some seven minutes earlier, so people could have logged out right after. But the fish heads were still in place (meaning failure).
Fortunately, as it got closer to the time, it did hit overflow and I had to pull some guildies via party, but it never did hard cap either.
That attempt? Just shy of 25%.
The crowd at Tequatl significantly improved as the day went on, fluctuating closer and closer to a successful kill. Just past reset, the zone hard capped and Tequatl was zerged down with extreme prejudice.
In fact, there wasn’t much finesse to the first kill. There was however an excellent charismatic commander on Mumble and easily 75 people in the DPS zerg at Tequatl’s foot. 10-15 tended to go down with each strong attack, necessitating a bunch of warbanners and mass rezzes, but the commander managed morale like he was building a cult – with the result of a very tight stack and many people basically kamikaze melee rushing Teq’s big toe, with a stream of reinforcements flooding in from the northern waypoint.
Dulfy showing up might have also helped the whole cult of personality along.
The second kill cut it very close, with barely 10 seconds left on the timer.
I missed the third attempt, having logged out for breakfast, and got back in time to log in unaided into Sparkfly main. Someone was lamenting overrun turrets in Mumble, and fish heads were strewn about the place, so that was that. I decided to get my daily done rather than hang around the swamp any longer.
There may or may not have been further successful attempts that night, but I’m sure the crowd would have dwindled by the time Hawaii crossed midnight.
What does this mean for Tequatl and the Tarnished Coast?
I’m not sure. I’m going to try and spend another day observing to see if the Euro primetime kill pattern holds. If so, there’s at least hope for Asians and insomniacal Oceanics by staying up till midnight-2am, because there sure isn’t going to be one during our primetime unless a large organized guild moves in to schedule something.
My Singaporean time guild -might- be able to generate enough numbers to lead if all who show up for guild missions decide that a Tequatl attempt is something they want to do, but as it’s mostly a core of dedicated WvWers with a more casual off-and-on-again PvE cohort enjoying the socializing mass numbers provides, sufficient PvE raid interest is unlikely.
If the Euro night / NA daytime kill fails to garner sufficient interest after a while, I suspect what will end up happening is a daily Tequatl kill right after reset.
I -am- confident that Tarnished Coast contains enough individuals who will still remain interested in one Teq kill a day to more or less fill the zone (especially if bolstered by guests.)
Which is all very well for those who can make that hour consistently, but not fantastic news for those who can’t.
We may see some attempts at cross-server organized raid guilds, who will schedule regular Teq kills. I understand that the EU servers have produced a fairly elitist one already, and that the NA servers have a sprawling three guild one. (Except I hear they’ve scheduled theirs at 5pm server reset time, so that’s not very much different from a server effort at that time too, right?)
Functional guilds have the advantage of ensuring that everyone who turns up is interested, committed and focused on the purpose of bringing down Teq. They offer organization, coordination and a raid-minded leadership. They will certainly require a voice program to listen in, even if they don’t necessitate owning a mic. (And if the mechanics of future raid mobs become any more complicated and require immediate feedback from each player, rest assured this will become a requirement.)
But the question of membership attrition through time and lack of interest (especially as more people get what they want out of the chests) may still eventually hold these guilds hostage to critical mass.
Or at least make it damnably inconvenient for a good many more people now.
Someone’s dropped the PR ball on this one badly.
The scenario: 8-10 days ago, someone expressed on the Guild Wars 2 official forums a wish to have separate WvW reset times for NA and EU servers, as the current midnight UTC reset means an understandably difficult 2am reset time (and worse) for much of the European continent.
The current WvW developer Devon Carver was listening in on the thread and tried one of those neutral PR lines about it not currently being possible to separate NA and EU server resets. Quite naturally, no one affected by this was satisfied with this answer, and two people suggested moving the reset time two hours earlier instead. One or two guys chimed in with some support.
Shortly after, the developer makes a cryptic post to “Stay tuned…”
Then the bombshell officially drops:
“Greetings WvW players! As part of our ongoing effort to improve the game experience with changes big and small, we’ve decided to change the time of the WvW match resets. The current time is 00:00 UTC on Saturdays, which is mighty inconvenient for our European friends who want to get in on the action of the newest match right away. We’ve decided that moving the reset time back by 2 hours to 22:00 UTC on Friday night to try and find a more happy medium for NA and EU servers. This will go into effect beginning this week and will be the new time going forward. Hopefully this makes it easier for you all to jump right in at the start of a new matchup. Cheers!”
So… how many newbie PR mistakes can we count here?
1) Short Notice
There’s three days to the next WvW reset. The only post about it is one stickied announcement in the WvW forums. At least it’s on the official forums.
And most hardcore WvW players are linked with a guild that should have at least one person trawling the forums and feeding back that info to the rest, but it’s still a bit of a ludicrous scramble for guild leaders and officers who have to now check their guildies’ schedules and have a new WvW reset discussion and make new plans and strategies in just a couple of days.
To say nothing of guild members or WvW participants who would be keen to participate at the new reset time but may have to rearrange their real life schedules to do it.
What’s wrong with giving one more week’s notice, eh?
2) Hasty Decision Making (Implied, anyway)
8 days since the issue was first brought to the current developer’s notice and acknowledged. 4 days since the cryptic “stay tuned” post.
That doesn’t seem like a very long time to really think all the implications through on this one.
Y’see, folks have realized that there are actually four major timezones in play on a round-the-clock WvW map. NA, EU, SEA and Oceanic.
UTC -6 to UTC -8 is North America
UTC 0 to UTC +3 is approximately Europe, I believe.
UTC +7 to UTC +8 is Asia.
UTC +8 to UTC +10 is Oceania/Australia.
The old reset time that has existed for a good eight months puts reset at 6pm-8pm on a Friday night for North Americans, midnight-3am for Europeans (which completely sucks, I agree), 7am-8am on a Saturday for Asians (which makes us wake bright and cheery on a nonworking morning, but we cope) and 8am-10am for Australians.
By pushing the reset time two hours earlier, we now have 4pm-6pm on Friday for North Americans (and I’ve lived in your country for a while, I’ve seen your commute from work times,) 10pm-1am for Europeans, 5am-6am for Asians (!!!!!!) and 6am-8am for Australians (which can’t be terribly popular either in a country that I believe has a very strong pub culture.)
By making it possible for the European continent to play a mere two to three hours of reset before it gets to an absurd timing, we have now disrupted three other timezones.
North Americans are screaming their heads off. Why shouldn’t they? 4pm is an impossible timing for anyone who works normal 9 to 5 weekday hours. All of the West Coast is smacked by this. I doubt East Coasters are crazy about 6pm either, that’s quite a rush to commute from work, get their dinner down and be ready to play. (I know I’ve never personally managed 6pm raid times, which killed any ability to raid on my part.)
I’m not terribly keen about a 6am wakeup myself. 8am could at least be coped with. I’m more inclined to say ‘screw it’ and shut the alarm clock off and roll over to sleep in on a Saturday.
I suppose the Aussies can more or less manage since most live on the east coast, but I’ll let them chime in for themselves.
3) Change for the Sake of Change
This, I must add, has been the state of affairs for eight months since GW2 launched. Any unhappiness about the scheduled times was already discussed, hashed and rehashed and WvW guilds all over the world have already settled down into some kind of routine, even if it’s not the most ideal one for EU guilds.
Now everyone has to react to this new change, and we all know how well people deal with sudden changes thrown at them, right?
4) Salt in the Wound: Absurd Cheeriness
“Hopefully this makes it easier for you all to jump right in at the start of a new matchup. Cheers!”
I’m sure everyone who can’t make the timing is going “YEAH, RIGHT” at this line.
I have to say, I’m very disappointed in ArenaNet for this one.
One of the most exciting times of the week has always been WvW reset night. It’s a time for guilds to come together and work together. The voice comms fill up, guild tags move in unison to their designated maps, all servers’ maps are filled to the brim and it’s a spectacular example of what WvW looks like with full coverage.
For a good 6-8 hours, the PPT scores tend to hold remarkably balanced and steady, and the colors on the map don’t shift around much, but it belies the furious raging fights and excitement and many many numbers surging around the map testing defences, making offensive sallies, rushing back to defend, fighting for that last scrap of supply and so on.
This two hour move wrecks that. I forsee NA guild numbers being cut in half or at least reduced to three quarters from the earlier reset time. People will end up staggering in in batches to WvW on reset night – which makes it no different than any other night, mixed militia and maybe a few guild groups moving around at a time that is convenient for them. The special fury of the reset surge is greatly diminished. The guild event-togetherness of moving around in force against other guilds just as filled to the brim is shot in the knee.
For what? A time that isn’t the most ideal for Europeans either, just better by a few hours.
I’m sure EU would much prefer a reset time that starts at a sensible time for them, like 8pm.
The best way to accomplish this would be continually request for separate WvW reset times for NA and EU servers. I mean, what was the point of having separate servers anyway, right? To cater for both parties’ needs and that would include non-absurd reset times for both parties.
Now, this has been repeatedly stated as quite technically unfeasible for whatever reason.
So players have suggested other compromises.
Put the reset on Saturday. It doesn’t solve the wakeup issues for Asia and Oceania, but Europe gets to play their couple of hours and Americans at least don’t have work or school conflicts. (Except Anet probably needs staff at work to reset WvW.)
Find another ideal time. UTC 5pm was suggested. This one makes Asians unhappy because it places the ex-Euro 2am wakeup problem squarely into their timezone, but I’ll grant that the servers are named NA and EU and us poor Asians and Oceanics are always getting slapped in the face with MMO timings regardless. And at least no one is at work, though sleep and health will be severely compromised.
But really, this time shifting thing just keeps moving the problem into different timezones. There is no one perfect time that can make everybody in the world happy.
Another interesting suggestion, and one I’m leaning towards in terms of fairness and potential for being the most entertaining, is to continually stagger and change WvW reset times to suit different timezones and continents. Ie. have a monthly schedule out that states reset happens at like, 8pm NA time on this week, 8pm EU time on that week, and 8pm SEA or Oceanic time yet another week.
This way everyone has to adapt their schedules, everyone may not be able to make it on certain weeks, and different regions’ guilds may come out in force, changing up the meta and the resultant strategies and score.
I hope Anet reconsiders.
This mismanagement has left NA unhappy, and EU taking a joyous schadenfreude pleasure that NA now shares their misery that they’ve been suffering for a long time, which is a very strange state of affairs for a game whose overall theme is to unite people and have them like each other and cooperate with each other.
Whatever the case, it’s evident a bit more thinking and change management should have gone into this announcement at the very least.
Every time I idly browse the Guild Wars 2 Guru and official GW2 forums, I am deeply amused by all the entitled whining going on – the mood is hysterical, tinged with more than a touch of xenophobia. Let’s disregard the PvE dungeon reward complaints and the “his class is more OP than mine” complaints for a time and just check out the WvW ones.
According to these people, those dirty Oceanics are PvPing against door and NPCs, turning entire maps one color with zero resistance and sitting back to accrue score uninterrupted for hours at a time while decent folks are asleep. Why, everyone knows that when real Americans wake up and start fighting, that’s when those silly Australians melt away to the might of the superpower!
What do you mean, they need sleep too, Down Under? Don’t be absurd. We’re winning because we’re so good.
No, hang on, I got it confused. We’re -not- winning during our prime time too. Because all the North Americans are fighting on NA servers in a three way battle, and thus our efforts are diminished, and unimportant, and it’s so unfair, and I’m really depressed and I RAGEQUIT this stupid game – if only it had a sub, I’d throw it in your face, ArenaNet!
But then, that wouldn’t help me with my original goal of winning and dominating and feeling supremely important… So I know! I’ll sit here and theorycraft an immensely complicated scheme of scoring that would take into account what I imagine populations are like at different timezones. In essence, 95% of people are on at the same time that I play, and those dirty 5% are having too easy a time and should only get scoring worth 5%, reflecting that lack of effort.
Sorry, I can’t continue in this vein any further. I’m trying not to bust my sides laughing. It’s a supreme effort of will to resist rolling on the floor already.
You see, I’m one of those dirty Oceanics. (Or I play in their timezone anyway. I’m really South East Asian, but you can call me a Chinese Gold Farmer, no problems.)
And here we are, PvPing intently against Door!
What we have here is an intense three-way battle between IoJ, ET and CD at 2.48am server time. Or 5.48pm my local time, and about 1-3 hours later, 6.48pm-8.48pm for the real Aussies.
Actually, we’re lined up at the behest of ND (a Korean guild, Never Die) around 3.am server time, to make an extreme zerg rush for Eredon Terrace’s orb up north – after they spent the better part of 3 hours or so walking supply dolyaks and fortifying the hills keep.
Trust me, there were lots of Eredon Terrace people still awake and still doing their best to get in the way. There’s a big Thai alliance on that server now, I hear.
Oh. But you only managed this because you naturally had more people than us online! *stamps feet* So unfair!
Duh. What part of PvP attempts to be fair?
Structured PvP is over that way – try not to get too uptight about gear not mattering except for cosmetic looks and everyone having the same stats. (Apparently, it is only desirable to have better stats than thou and thus steamroll one’s opponent if you “worked” for that gear.) Or wonky team balancing and people jumping ship and sides looking for the easy wins.
PvP is never going to be 100% fair. It’s called strategy. It’s looking for a temporary weakness or a chink in your opponent’s armor. Of adjusting the odds in your favor to be better than a coin toss. It’s 2 vs 1 having a better chance of winning than 1 vs 1. That’s normal.
But what makes things really interesting and keeps hope alive and creates opportunities for epicness is how you adjust this situation to give the underdog a chance of biting back.
On a minute scale, take one moment on the battlefield I experienced last night. A group of 5 opponents were beating up on a fellow guildie (a very tough mesmer to fight in sPvP) and had him downed when another guildie and I arrived on scene. They had him downed, and alas, managed to finish him off before we could get him up. So essentially, 2 vs 5. Horrible odds.
A great deal of desperate sword slashing, dodging, sword teleporting, wall of reflecting and self-healing later, I was downed… then miraculously up again as the other guildie finished off one opponent, then downed again, and up, and once more as I pumped that self-heal and healing/aegis virtues for all they were worth. We looked up, and oh my, all of the opponents were dead/down and we finished them off, marveling at our sheer incredible luck. Obviously, we beat the odds with good luck and no doubt, momentarily poor judgement/play on the other five’s part, they picked the sturdier lower-damage output target to hit first, rather the guildie thief who was built to kill things.
ArenaNet’s hand in the design though, was the downed mechanic, that allowed for such a situation to occur.
So, how do you react? Do you scream UNFAIR, we ought to win, 5 vs 2, dead is dead, this downed thing sucks balls, CHANGE IT NAO! (Never mind that 5 vs 2 wasn’t fair to begin with.) Or do you say, hey, this is as it should be, give the underdog a chance at winning? (And add, “in fact, that’s what we’re arguing, that night-capping makes things unfair for the underdog who is asleep! That’s why we must change the scoring mechanic nao!”)
Or, as it is never a simple dichotomy, do you just accept that in this game, such a mechanic exists, and adapt your tactics around it and learn and adjust accordingly?
I never really participated in Guild Wars 1 PvP. But even as an outsider, I can appreciate that it always had some manner of changing metagame. Some guilds would find builds and strategies that seemed overpowering and would win everything in sight and sweep all before them. Cue lots of forums screaming. Then some clever guy somewhere would find the counter, and before you know it, there was a new uber powerful team in town. Until the next counter. With some minor adjustment from ArenaNet here and there as they deemed necessary.
If there’s one thing I’m extremely fond of in WvW and what ArenaNet has achieved with this format in Guild Wars 2, it is the removal of stress on FFA PvP and killing anything in sight and deathmatching each other, and correspondingly placing importance on strategies and organization of people on a large scale – objective-based goals and siege and supply uber alles.
The distance you are forced to run from a respawn point to get to a place means good play and survival is important, creates opportunities for reinforcement and cutting off reinforcement, of some places being more easy to take than others due to how reinforcing points and supply lines are laid out. There are chances for guerilla actions and large scale scene actions of an immensely epic nature.
Supply running and defending/holding a position are meant to be activities just as important as assaulting. If there’s one current flaw in WvW, it’s as Jon Peters acknowledged, these activities may need to be a little more rewarded or encouraged – right now, it’s pretty much only folk who have a grasp of the strategic importance of these things doing it (usually guilds), along with server pride and sheer stubborness being the rewards.
On the other hand, clumsy adjustments might bring on even weirder behavior. I’m sure we all remember the happy dolyak trains of people doing absolutely nothing but trotting from place to place behind the front lines. Perhaps it is better to let things shake out for a bit and let the meta reveal itself.
It’s obvious that 24/7 servers have an advantage over servers who cannot field a good number into the maps at various timezones. Working as intended, I’d say. As Ausj3w3l points out, ArenaNet agrees.
Oh noes, the blamestrewers decry, this is so unfair! (See above caveat about all’s fair in love and war and PvP.)
Good lord, people, if this is so important to you, it’s about time to consider moving servers to one that fits you WvW-wise then. Or building up your own.
I know I picked my server very very carefully because I wanted an exceedingly active WvW server that would fight well and have crowds in my timezone. It’s fortunate that enough Oceanics love this server and represent it well and got organized enough to attract a very respectable cohort of NA guilds to balance out our initially weak showing in the NA timezone. A second tier server hoping to break into the first tier is a perfect match for me – not too organized to the point of getting trounced by overly clever opposition, hence I avoided the tier 1 servers (the queues must also be hell) and organized and crowded enough to create opportunities for participating in large scale actions.
Haven’t we all learned playing MMOs by now? Crowded server = longer lived, more interesting things happening. People make an MMO. Community.
If you’re a little less hardcore than I in terms of how much WvW blood is desired, a third tier server is a good option. More middle of road.
If you have NO interest in WvW, period, and don’t want any queues or indeed, even people getting in the way of your collecting PvE nodes and points of interest, then I would suggest the servers significantly lower in the rankings – with the caveat that due diligence must be done on how crowded PvE-wise the server is for your interests – don’t come to me crying later that the place is completely deserted.
I’m going to leave you with an anecdote from this weeks’ battles. In the last one or two days, Isle of Janthir has been giving a stronger showing during NA night times than Oceanic night times. I suspect the key is organization. We’ve been running around at my nights sans siege sans many leaders sans much organization at all. There also seems to be a little fear left over in the general pugs from the last time we got trounced by ET, which has not yet successfully converted over into rivalry and hope. (It’s getting there, I hope.) Conversely, the NA guilds on IoJ are out in concerted force and it is showing in the points scoring and the people directing each other around on team chat.
Things can change in the blink of an eye, of course. It’s way too close to call at this point, any server can make a comeback or a push. One thing’s for sure, though I sense some people (aka whiners) are a little discouraged by not having easy wins or getting squished by two parties on occasion, there’s plenty of people who aren’t giving up without a fight yet, a lot of people are hellbent on demonstrating that they aren’t going to be walked all over by ET again, win or lose, and there’s going to be at least a few good fights left this week.
As a forums goer mentioned, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Part of my problem getting my thoughts in order about this game is that there’s SO much to do, and each thing to do could very well warrant its own post, so where the heck should I begin?
I guess, to get folks situated, let’s start with what I’m playing. I only did two beta weekends before I had my heart set on what I was going to play first and didn’t want to play any more when it wasn’t going to be “for real” and I’d have to do it all over again when beta characters got wiped.
Despite terrible alt-holism in most MMOs, I knew I’d be able to keep it at bay in GW2 for the very first main at least, because this absolutely sang to me and wouldn’t let its hooks go.
Name and Server Musings and WvWvW Stories
I’m playing Finder Blazebane on the Isle of Janthir server. Feel free to friend me if you like. Goldspam whispers will be summarily reported, and ArenaNet is pretty good with their banstick. 🙂
I tried to make it as Charr lore appropriate as possible, with a reference to my propensity for exploration and finding secrets and otherwise getting into stuff, and a side reference to being a Flame Legion foe. Imagine my amusement when in the very first area during beta weekend, I find a dynamic event to do with the Bane warband. I found it rather fun to run back and forth with them, pretending to be a fourth NPC a while. I guess I’m easily entertained.
Why the *gasp* reddit server? Well, I joined them on Darkhaven during beta because I like a crowded server, and when they decided to move to Isle of Janthir, I looked carefully at the guilds list to see if I wanted to follow them or stay on Darkhaven.
Also on the consideration list was Sea of Sorrows as the unofficial Oceanic server, and Tarnished Coast for being the unofficial RP server (where most mature, tolerant, PvE-focused folks like to go.)
Being based in Singapore, server choice is fairly hard because at GMT+8, no timezone is ideal. Oceanic servers you’d think would be the best shot, but honestly, most run on Australian timing at GMT+10 or GMT+11 and when they set events at 7pm, one is still at work at 5pm – it’s impossible to rush home in time and still have a life, as well as a proper dinner.
To be also brutally honest, the Asian gaming community ain’t all what it’s cut out to be. Conventionally, in traditional Asian thought, games are pastimes for children, so one ends up with a majority of teenage boys in their 10s-20s playing (yes, many still schooling), along with a ever-so-slightly more mature group of men and maybe a few women, that maybe aren’t girlfriends dragged in by their boyfriends, but don’t count on it. And the slang, well, I can talk and understand Singlish, but coming from a more Americanized gaming background in my college years of MUDing, it’s as painful as leetspeak is to the eyes.
A bit is fine, it’s still my culture after all, but I don’t want every last conversation I have in game to go like this: “haha lol wah u very xiong hor” (Goodness, you’re very fierce/scary) or “don’t sabolah, u chao chee bye, this dungeon damn hard already, cannot make itone.” (Don’t screw it up for everyone, you -vulgarity-, this dungeon is already hard enough, we’re likely to fail as it is.)
Obviously, not everyone in Singapore types that way (it’s always the annoying kiddies, ain’t it?) And there are still jerks and assholes in North America (including obnoxiously racist trolls who would tell you to go back to China, u gold farmer – pst, little hint, Singapore’s not in China, and you’ll be surprised how international an MMO is.) Nor can I try to match a 12 hours transposed timezone all the time. Moderation is key. I need a mix.
I decided against Darkhaven as I suspect the crowd would follow the reddit server. Sea of Sorrows also went into the trash can because I’ve followed the Oceanic community since Age of Conan and Warhammer Online and Aion, the same guilds and same faces in PvP are getting a little tiring. Tarnished Coast was much harder to give up, but I feared for the state of WvWvW there because I’m hooked and I need a -fierce- server with ferocious fighting, not one that might just roll over and expose its belly. I may be wrong, maybe it’s a generalization that roleplayers are generally not interested in hardcore PvP pursuits, but… well, time will tell.
To my surprise and contributing to my eventual decision, Isle of Janthir sports a good mix of both North American and Oceanic guilds, including some of the more respectable aussie guilds I’ve met during prior games. It’ll be nice to have them on my side, for once, rather than beating my face in as an organized group versus a PUG. Add on the reddit crowd, and the Isle of Janthir should be able to field a good sized zerg or two and have organized guilds tearing it up at most hours of the day – a more balanced state of affairs in theory than say a primarily Oceanic or NA or Euro server.
In theory, anyway. In practice, we might get wiped out at all times by a foe that can field a bigger zerg at certain times of the day larger than we can, but we’ll see. We got beat on by the Crystal Desert for a couple days since headstart, and Sanctum of Rall was also quite a nuisance, then on the fourth day or so, Isle of Janthir rallied and took the lead.
I had a truly thrilling moment that day because it was my first day in WvWvW and I decided to spend 30 silver, one third of my total fortune, to upgrade our garrison’s cannons. Some time later, Crystal Desert swept in, shattered the outer gate, and as a couple of us trying valiantly to hold off the zerg (our own zerg was elsewhere) fled to the inner gate, I dashed to one of the cannons (if I was going to lose those 30 silver, by god, I was going to put them to use at least once) and presumably a few other players dashed to the oil and the other cannon, and possibly 4-5 of us WIPED out the 30 strong zerg between our AoE cannon fire, that I doubt they were expecting (the gate shattered, they’re fleeing, let’s chase!) Those cannons were hitting for 6000hp a shot, beautifully gruesome.
Even better because it was so unexpected, I was sure we were doomed. But perhaps they ran out of supply to build a ram (not too many people seemed to have grasped the entire concept yet) and they stood in the courtyard in the open long enough for us to catch them in the crossfire, entirely surprising both sides, I guess.
Best 30 pieces of silver spent, ever.
Holding that garrison allowed our offensive zerg to crack open Etheron castle and snatch back the Orb of Power, and began the long sweep of Janthir recovery back across their own Borderlands and get a foothold into Eternal Battlegrounds. Later, Stonemist Castle was taken in a truly stupendous three-corner fight, which saw it changing hands from blue to green while us reds were still locked IN the castle, and wiped out, and rallied back with a second zerg attacking while the first zerg was still on the way back from being wiped out and overwhelming green, which hadn’t had time to get any defences up. Stonemist was proudly red when I logged off.
But goodness knows how things have gone today. I haven’t logged in yet. Things could and do change again in an instant.
Charr. Gotta be. Maybe I’m a closet furry, I’ve always liked playing monster-looking races. I love the big gorilla hulk physique, and even better if it’s got fur, hunches forward and digitigrade legs. Then there’s the history and the lore. Since the days of Guild Wars, when everyone has to be a boring human, I’ve always wanted to play the more interesting monster enemies, Charr, Tengu, etc. To see how they’ve progressed from nearly naked fire-magic barbarism to an almost Saruman-level industrial tech in GW2’s Renaissance day is irresistible. They’re war-like, they’re soldiers, but they also have a “band of brothers” style honor and loyalty that makes them function entirely differently from humans, yet plausibly as an entirely different culture.
Origin and Background
I’ve seen all three Legions’ intro cinematic and they’re all fascinating. It’s been an agony to choose one to follow first, but I’m going with what I did on a whim in the beta weekend. A Blood Legion Guardian first, and an Iron Legion Warrior later, simply to avoid the common cliche of Blood Legion = Warrior. I’ll worry about Ash Legion later.
This makes the Guardian more Ferocious as he’s all about being up in the thick of things, fighting and bleeding, and the warrior can be either charming or dignified as I decide later, as a valuable cog in the great machine of war.
On the same whim, I gave him the background of having a sorcerous sire to explain his Guardian aspect of using magic and flames, and an interesting ‘weakness’ to the character, he’s always had to outgrow the stigma of having a traitorous sire that defected to the Flame Legion as a sorceror.
I wanted him to stand out a little and look slightly different than most Charr so I went for an interesting white-gray fur color. Pure snow white was a bit too bright and weird for me, perhaps suitable for an albino style necromancer, but a very pale grey-white gave the look I wanted.
I love the heavy armor look in every MMO, lots of metal plates and I don’t mind extra large pauldrons or spikes either, so it was ideal that the class I chose got to wear heavy armor.
Working hard to get to 30/50 in the Hall of Monuments has really paid off, because it opens out some glorious vanity costume options to overlay on top of the merely “okay and presentable” lowbie armor styles. Most of the lowbie armor is a lot of chain and scale mail options, that frankly, only look good in browns and greys and metallic colors, with perhaps a touch of accent color here and there. In my opinion anyway. It’s decent, but it makes you a little drab and blends in with everybody else also wearing the same stuff.
Guild Wars heritage armor? Awesome. The GW1 warrior always got the best-looking armor, in my way of thinking. It gives a more respectable plate and chainmail armor style in GW2, and I’ve successfully dyed it a dark ebony steel color, as well as the current bronzed look, which I think comes from a random midnight olive drop. I went for a red accent color to represent the Blood Legion, and autumn did fine until I got an almost intangibly slightly brighter red called um, sunset or sunrise, I think, which I used mostly because it wasn’t the default red.
Then there’s my slight fascination with fire and pyromania in MMOs. Since my City of Heroes days, when I chanced upon my dream fire/fire dominator class that got to shoot fire, melee it up with fire, and generally throw fire everywhere, I’ve gravitated to any excuse for fire every since. It just looks SO good.
So imagine my delirious joy to see that the 30/50 HoM point gives these BEAUTIFUL fire god vambraces that give one wristguards that are ON fire.
Words also fail to describe how much I’ve wanted Prince Rurik’s flaming dragon sword since the days of Guild Wars 1, but never played a suitable class that could wield it for long. Ranger and paragon were my mains, and though I dabbled with a warrior in Factions and did give him a flaming dragon sword for a while, it was steadily more obvious that a triple chop axe build with cyclone axe and the works was a lot more effective in bunched up PvE gameplay, so, goodbye, sword on fire. *sobs*
My Guardian now is making up for that lack and it makes me SO HAPPY. (It also conveniently doubles up as a torch in dark caves. I am highly amused that I bring light wherever I go. Someday I should try the dark room in the WvWvW ultimate jumping puzzle dungeon and see if that sword makes a difference. It does also make it quite obvious and readable whenever I switch to ranged scepter – which also looks fantastic with the Wayward Wand skin and glows with a soft blue light as opposed to bright yellow light.)
I’m pleased to report that I’ve met a player of an Asura in game who ran past me with my flaming sword, did a double take and went “RYTLOCK, IZZAT YOU?”
And another player in WvWvW who asked what my real level was because my gear looked so impressive. I didn’t have the heart to tell him they were all HoM costume pieces, for fear of disappointing him. (On the bright side, I saw a level 50 player, much much higher than I, who looked like one of those Black Citadel guards in face-covering rhino helmet and all, so there’s still cool stuff ahead, don’t fret.)
Thank you for the compliments, they appeal to my vanity. I try to look cool, what’s an MMO for if not to doll up one’s character?
So nice of ArenaNet to make it possible to look cool from the very beginning as a lowbie. It’s a good reward, isn’t it? Stat-wise, nothing is different. I choose to stop every 5-10 levels to head to the HoM, claim the rewards that just transmute the appearance of the skin to whatever equipment I’ve got. It’s an interruption to leveling, so arguably, those who don’t care how they look don’t need to bother. I do it for vanity’s sake.
I bet the exclusive dungeon reward skins should also have pretty good appeal if enough players think like me. If everyone runs around with a flaming sword, maybe you’d prefer to show off your, oh I dunno, Orrian dragon purple sparkling lightning sword or something? (Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of reward skins, I just pulled that out of my imagination.)
Guardian, if you haven’t gathered by now. Why? “Because Guardians are OP.”
Nah, not really, though a lot of people seem to think that way, mostly because, I suspect, they tried to go 1 vs 1 PvP with a straight up uber damage build against builds that are by nature of the class damage+support, often in the form of buffs or some slight healing or condition removal. With their innate virtues, they also have a tide more regeneration as long as they don’t fire it off to heal others, and who would do that when you’re 1 vs 1?
Simple attrition warfare will tell you that a class with higher hp and more ways to self heal than thou has a distinct advantage in a straight up duel, assuming no one makes a mistake or is caught unawares, which aren’t the cases all the time in either WvWvW or structured PvP formats with an objective to fight over, rather than elimination of the opposing side. (There’s also having an extra ally turn up on your side that happens all the time in WvWvW.)
Anyway, Guardians are the dream class I’ve always wanted.
There are two general types of people in MMOs, those that prefer melee and those that prefer ranged (along with a hefty helping in the middle of the spectrum of hybrid folks who like both and like to switch in and out between them.)
I’m distinctly on the melee-preferring side of things, though I enjoy the flexibility of a ranged option when I need to keep my distance or do pulling, etc. The Guardian gives me that opportunity as I can flip back and forth between scepter and sword, dodging in and out of melee range as I deem suitable.
I’ve also always liked tanking, but mostly for the support and control aspects of the role, rather than the awful responsibility of having to know a dungeon by heart and lead a group by their noses through every single damn pull and then sitting around and calling the mob names to keep the mob stuck to either tearing off your face as you stand there still as a stone either nigh impervious to harm (City of Heroes) or desperately trying not to die while praying your healers are on the ball (every other holy trinity MMO) or biting your backside as you kite it around.
No, what I really enjoy about tanking is the ability to position mobs where you want them, to control their aggro (if only by biting your face off, rather than standing around dazed), to position my sturdy armor-encased self between harm and a softer squishier friend who would much rather I take the hit than him, thanks. It’s helping people, in a sense, it’s support by being situationally aware and controlling the situation.
And while I’ve never liked whack-a-mole healing in holy trinities, I rather enjoyed playing a dark defender in City of Heroes because it wasn’t all about topping off the green health bar (or red, in CoH’s case.) Yes, I had a heal, a strong self-based AoE heal that relied on me being able to position myself near a person in need and hit a mob with it in order to heal anyone near me. It was only one tool in the toolbox of all things support.
Other defenders had really strong buffs to make the team sneakily stronger, I had really strong debuffs to make the enemies sneakily weaker. Amusingly, it took a while for the playerbase to figure this out, it was never really obvious what the non-healing defender was doing on the team, but my goodness, when the defender went AFK or left, the team wiped or got into deep deep trouble doing the same thing they were doing previously. A bit of forums propaganda also helped to change the initial mindset around, along with no doubt, plenty of hard won experience faceplanting when the defender disappeared. Eventually, veteran players learned how to identify buffs and debuff anchors and appreciate them for what they were doing.
A dark defender was also a lot about control as well as support. It had a fear that you could throw on an entire spawn to negate alpha strikes (the in concert ranged retaliation from a whole group of mobs when first aggro’ed), you could LOS position an entire spawn of mobs through pulling with your debuff anchor and hiding around a corner so that they bunched up beautifully debuffed and harmless by the time they came to get you.
One of the things that was always missing in City of Heroes was a class that mixed melee damage and buffs-support. I couldn’t get my scrapper ninja desire going to sword someone in the face at the same time as I was performing support and control functions to protect the team.
I believe Guardians in GW2 are that perfect mix.
No, they aren’t as strong as City of Heroes support/control classes, where often, one control or support class played well – a tank, a defender, a dominator, a controller, a corruptor, a mastermind, whatever – can control the entire spawn of mobs for a team, allowing most of the others to slack off and not doing anything but hit damage buttons if they wanted. (More people playing well and support/controlling means faster, safer killing, of course.)
I think, in Guild Wars 2, the support/control of each class is tuned to only give 1/5 or 1/4 or at most, 1/3 of all the support/control actually needed by a team. I suspect at least 3 players have to be playing with support/control in mind in order to make things doable, and better still if everyone is on the same page. More on this later, I’ve only gone through the first dungeon four times now in PUGs, once successful in beta, one successful on Live (with umpteen wipes) and two failures on the Lovers, and the only thing that’s really obvious is everybody is not used to playing in a Guild Wars 2 way as yet and are still learning what they can do.
But Guardians, well, they sing to me. I went Greatsword guardian in beta, only switching to it when it was safe to leap in and do massive damage to the mob in melee, and then switching back to Scepter and Shield to plink away at range and control/buff. One thing became very obvious though, Greatsword guardians, while perhaps giving a scare and some unexpected burst damage in PvP to players who thought they had my number from seeing my teensy damage on a scepter, are rather squishy in PvE, they seem to pull a lot of aggro and hate the moment they leap into a thick clump of mobs and let fly, often ending the frenzy with a sliver of hp left – if you’re lucky. Perhaps it was also my gear build at the time, I went all out Power for lack of any more understanding.
On Live, I’ve taken a slightly different tack, helped along by the fact that I can’t live without my flaming dragon sword. The Fellblade just doesn’t look as cool. To my surprise, a sword doing fire damage is nearly as effectively offensive as a greatsword, though in more cone attack fashion rather than having a mutilate AoE clump option. I could have gone sword and board, but a shield’s two skills strike me as a primarily defensive option – including one dome pushback I still don’t entirely understand yet, especially how to ‘detonate’ it for healing.
A torch is the Guardian offensive offhand option. While it’s ludicrously fun for AoE damage, you haven’t lived until you’ve spat blue and orange flames like a flamethrower, it doesn’t help with survivability much besides the “kill them all before they get you” strategy.
So I went with the focus as my offhand, which seems a balanced mix of both defensiveness and offensiveness. Both skills can be used for either function. One shoots a straight ray that bounces, giving allies a heal over time (including myself) and damaging mobs. I haven’t mastered the art of healing any party member with it yet, alas, but I have a very good use for it. By being in a mob’s face and swording it, and firing it off, it bounces against the mob, doing damage, and right back into myself, healing me. A decent trickle heal that I’ve noticed allows me to stay in melee “tanking” the mob that bit longer – though honestly, with the way aggro flies from person to person, you can be in the mob’s face and he’ll still turn to shoot another player down, so I have no idea how to manage that except to fire a utility team regeneration buff if it isn’t still recharging, and hope the other players are themselves competent in some fashion and can mitigate their own damage.
The other skill is a shield that can take 3 hits from a mob, and if it doesn’t break, it explodes like an AoE damage bomb. It’s good for absorbing some hits, doing damage, and also combos with the other utility skill I like, Purging Flames (AoE damage field, plus condition removal to allies) to give a stack of three might buffs, which in turns adds to doing more damage on the mob with normal sword autoattacks.
I’ve also altered the stats on my gear a little since beta, mixing a healthy helping of Vitality into the mix along with Power. (I figure, if the WvWvW armor has Power and Vitality stats, there has to be a reason…) This has two positive uses, it increases my overall hp reservoir, giving myself a very decent buffer, and it also increases my healing power – which, since I didn’t want to be a gimpy healing Guardian standing at the back like a pathetic WoW paladin, I initially thought was rather useless and counter-productive, but I’ve since been convinced has the primary effect of helping ME survive by making my heals stronger, including stuff I can aim on myself, and the side bonus of helping others by providing an ever-so-slightly stronger trickle heal a secondary benefit.
I also threw in a bit of Toughness for the hell of it on my gear, to make myself more survivable but I’m really not sure if it’s the right thing to do. Toughness seems to match better with mace and two-handed hammer skills, which are more support defensive oriented, but I have no practice using them and my one attempt to do something with a hammer against the Lovers was really quite hard being unfamiliar with the skills.
I’ve been going Precision and conditional damage on my traits as it matches the offensive sword aspect more, and the Toughness traits are more useless to me. So the result is a neither here or there mix. Still primarily Power, with nearly equal high Vitality, a side helping of Toughness with Precision catching up, but both obviously secondary stats. It’s obvious if I specialized either I’d go more defensive or offensive respectively, but I really can’t decide as yet. Who knows, maybe being a flexible generalist is better for my solo playstyle.
I’m not sure I’ll ever find a good enough group to do the hardmode explorable dungeons anyway, but if I do chance across them, then we can spec as needed then. It’s Guild Wars, after all, where builds can be flexibly swapped to match the situation as needed, mixed with a side helping of WoW, where everything is easily reset by swapping gear and paying a small fee to the trainers.
Mind you, while offensive sword and focus is my preferred fighting style, I keep a scepter and shield on quick weapon switch. This lets me run in and whack mobs until my hp reservoir looks dangerously low (it’s better if I could read the combat animations a little better, some of them have dodgeable front attacks but I’m only 50/50 on successfully avoiding those as opposed to the clearer red aoe rings) then dodge right out, switching to a scepter and whacking an immobilize on it and plinking away, throwing defensive buffs on whoever else is near the mob now that I’m gone, regenerating and healing up until hp is back to full and I can go in and thwap the mob with my sword on FIRE once again.
I doubt the build is perfect. Or even if there is such a thing as a perfect build. All the other Guardian weapons and skills all look good too, to be honest. But I like it, and for now, it’s what I’m using because no one has figured out how to team synergize anything in PUGs yet. I doubt many of us even know what the other classes are capable of.
Eventually, I’m sure stuff will be figured out. All in good time though. It’s a new game, a new set of challenges, a place where no one -knows- anything for certain yet, the metagame is yet to be worked out, the world is big and broad and deep and ripe for exploration. There are so many things one could do. Life is good.