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.

knightlocations

(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.

calibration

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.

assaultknightbar

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.

assaultknightbar2

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%.

extractionattack

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.)

primehologram

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.

noattunement

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.

primeholocircleaoe

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

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

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.

meleegreen

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

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.)

bluecone

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.

OH, AND DON’T FORGET TO LOOT YOUR REWARD CHEST.

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. 🙂

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GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Liadri the Concealing Darkness

allthatforapatchofblack

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

liadri-1

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.

liadri-2

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.

liadri-4

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.

liadri-5

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.)

liadri-6

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.

liadri-7

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

liadri-7b

Then here:

liadri-7c

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.

liadri-9

(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.

liadri-10

(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.

liadri-phase2a

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.)

liadri-phase2n

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.)

cage-zoning

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!

GW2: Candidate Trials Redux – Berserk Guardian Edition

As mentioned in a prior post, I’d been having a good time with T2 “on farm” with the warrior, who is a hybrid mix of axe berserker and banner/horn support.

A couple days ago, I decided to use some of the “free” 400 gems from the achievement chest to buy a doubled support buff and dump in my support tokens. (One at a freaking time, which led to a hasty rebinding of my mouse wheel – thank you Razer profile management – to left click. Lots of left click.)

407 more clicks to go...
407 more clicks to go…

After I finished, I noted there was still 15 minutes left on the buff and decided to log off the character to save the time for the next round of support token dumping. Er, voting. Whatever.

Except that I had outsmarted myself in my miserliness since I had used the buff on my farming warrior.

Sheesh.

Well, it was way past time to upgrade spikey charr again.

I open world PvE with him a lot, in magic find gear even, and while playing with spirit weapons is fun during the actual combat portion, I couldn’t help but notice that I ended up swapping in Retreat! and Save Yourselves! in between battles simply to get from place to place at a decent clip.

Trying to fit in all the spirit weapon traits also meant I was giving up a decent amount of sword-related and survival/might buff traits too.

Plus, my original fiery dragon sword was reskinned from the cheapest exotic sword I could afford at the time of my first 80 (a mystic forged Rusttooth – yeah, power, vitality, condition damage. Hem.) The focus had equally scatter shot stats and cheap sigils.

And I may have been more than a little drunk when I put four major sigils of divinity on my berserker armor as an experimental stopgap for more expensive superior sigils of divinity. In the cold hard light of relooking at a past decision and numerically adding stuff up, I was getting +20 to all stats, which is a mere blip to performance, most likely, barely noticeable.

Definitely way past time to upgrade.

Ruby orbs went on all six slots of the berserker armor. Berserker trinkets. Used badges of honor to buy new berserker weapons – sword/focus, scepter/shield.

The biggest expenditure, as usual, was the superior sigil of fire and superior sigil of bloodlust on the sword and focus respectively. I’ve gotten fond of the fire sigil after enjoying it on the warrior, but I believe it is possible to do without. It just makes farming mass numbers of mobs a little easier. The bloodlust sigil should be a priority to anyone wanting to solo this with high damage though. 250 power makes quite a difference.

I went cheaper on the ranged weapon, superior sigil of air on the scepter and superior sigil of accuracy for the shield to increase overall crit chance.

New traits:

zerkguardian

Zeal 10: II – Fiery Wrath

Radiance 30: VI – Blind Exposure, X – Powerful Blades, XI – Right Hand Strength

Honor 20: II – Superior Aria, VIII – Empowering Might

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

Now, I do not claim that this is a good build for WvW, dungeons, or indeed anything group at all. With some 13k hp, you’ll probably fall over whenever something big sneezes that you failed to notice.

What this does do, is output a surprisingly good amount of damage when soloing, while having a decent amount of active defence tools for surviving long enough to burst stuff down. Spamming F1 is bread and butter. It sets stuff on fire (see all the increased damage done to stuff on fire and affected by conditions), makes them vulnerable and blinds them. You have two more blinds in sword 2 and focus 4 to be timed well. Focus 5 is an emergency 3 hit block.

Standard slot skills are Signet of Resolve for a condition clear and a big burst emergency heal. Hold the Line and Save Yourselves to keep layering protection and regeneration, F3 Virtue of Courage may also help protection-wise. Retreat for placing on aegis (see unscathed contender) and for swiftness when traveling, moving, kiting. In cases of major emergency, fire off F2 and F3 and renewed focus then fire virtues once more, but you’re probably in trouble by that point.

This performs on par with my warrior in T2 – which is admittedly not as berserk as pure berserker warriors – but really, 60 odd kills is fine for farming.

Over-achieving...
Over-achieving…

I switch Retreat for Smite Condition, which helps to deal a bit more damage and deal with the very minor conditions the Aetherblades apply at Tier 2 of the candidate trials. To address the speed issue, I use Bowl of Sage and Asparagus Salad, which has a 50% chance to give swiftness on kill and supposedly more damage when moving. If you’re feeling richer than me, you could use the seaweed salad version, but I think it’s overkill.

You could also use plenty of other food, like stuff that gives more power or might on kill, or lifesteal on crit, but I like being swift and maneuverable for this horde mode affair.

The recommendation is also to use Potent or Powerful Potions of Outlaw Slaying for a little extra oomph. (I’m not 100% positive that the Aetherblade faction classifies as bandits or outlaws, but it can’t hurt.)

T2 tactics are pretty much kill everything that appears as fast as possible. Punch F1 whenever, let sword autoattack for 2k+ damage each swing, only use sword 3 for a burst/projectile absorb when you know stuff will stand still. You have the option of chasing down plunderers with a swiftness-boosted sword, or quickly switching to scepter and immobilize/smite and autoattack, which will also pound it for 2k-ish damage a hit and kill it relatively fast.

Things to watch out for:

Aetherblade Strikers – can deal a lot of damage with their lightning channel, has a shield that will daze you if you hit it while the shield is up

What not to do. Ideally, wait for icon to flash off first.
What not to do. Ideally, wait for icon to flash off first.

You do not want to be dazed. It cuts your dps. Wait for the shield to drop, then attack. Hit something else while you’re waiting. But do not forget them or they’ll give you a bad time as the spawn keeps adding up. Prioritize them about the same as plunderers, to be dropped very quickly.

Aetherblade Thumpers – mace wielders, with a highly annoying protective shield that acts like a renewed focus invulnerable.

Getting a taste of one's own medicine. Grrr.
Getting a taste of one’s own medicine. Grrr.

Same thing. Attacking them when their shield is up is a waste of dps that can be spent downing a grenadier in the same few swings. They also seem to be a touch sturdier than the other mobs. They are melee, so they can be kited and ignored till the field is clear of more important targets.

Aetherblade Thugs – highly annoying immobilize from range, hammer knockdown in melee

circlethugs

These guys will screw you up by setting you up as an unmoving target for other mobs to beat on, and tangle you up when trying to get at a plunderer. Smite condition (or focus 4 or flashing blade teleport if desperate) to deal with the immobilize. Circle strafing in melee (ie. run around it in a tight circle while still in range to hit it with your sword) will generally put you out of range of their very slow to windup hammer knockdown attack, while still taking them down.

Red mortar circle – DODGE. RUN AWAY. DON’T STAY IN THERE. ROCKETS INCOMING. In berserk gear especially, you do not want to tank a single mortar shell.

redcirclebad

You can supposedly reflect the mortars as they are projectiles, but I’ve found it easier to just get out of the circle and either continue hitting the mobs around the vicinity, or ambling over to pound the grenadier’s head in. Taking out the operator should shut off the mortar unless something bugs.

Swashbucklers bleed and grenadiers have grenades that chill and apply vulnerability and such depending on the tier. They die fairly easily so you want to be targeting them with extreme prejudice to keep the spawn sizes manageable anyway.

How about T4 though?

The new post-patch T4 was stumping me for a bit, but the two day break from anything achievement-obsessed seems to have done wonders for my gameplay.

I would first of all watch Liefbread’s video of a solo T4 with a berserker thief.

When you are done gnashing your teeth with jealousy over two-hit plunderer kills, a 1200 range pull to yank plunderers further away from aggro zones, and an on-call long duration stealth to break aggro if accidents happen, you can rejoin me in pondering how to get a guardian T4 capable.

The goal, if you will notice in the video, is to kill the plunderers very quickly and very near to their spawn points so that the other veteran mobs react as little as possible. If you kill them fast enough so that their treasure-tossing animation doesn’t complete, the treasure counter does not go down. Break aggro the moment the vets do take notice of you.

The good news is that with the above berserk build, a scepter guardian can take down plunderers solo pretty quickly also, just maybe 1-3 seconds longer than the thief does. (You may want to do a T2 to build 25 stacks of bloodlust first too.)

The bad news is that a guardian has no pull except binding blade (and it’s only 600 range and it’s AoE, yanking a vet with a plunderer would become fairly ugly in short order.)

This means your window of opportunity for killing plunderers is quite a bit smaller, and you risk aggroing stuff a lot more easily than the thief.

While lamenting the lack of anything trap-related (like I saw a ranger and a necro do with their traps/marks) and scrutinizing my skills, this little beauty suddenly came into focus for me. Shrapnel Mine. It can be laid on in advance, it cripples and even does a bit of bleed to help out.

Sure enough, using this got me past post-patch T4.

This is almost as far forward as you want to get. (Maybe a bit more to the right and forward to hit the right plunderer when needed.)
This is almost as far forward as you want to get. (Maybe a bit more to the right and forward to hit the right plunderer when needed.) You will get aggro from anything in the middle, run to the back, behind the rock, to break this.

The idea of the trap is that it trains you to anticipate each plunderer spawn. 5 will spawn from the left side first. The first plunderer on the right side shows up at around 5 minutes 30 seconds. As each plunderer spawns, they trigger the trap and that’s your cue to immobilize them, then smash down smite and autoattack them to death. Don’t bother with shield skills or anything, just let scepter machine gun them down before they can finish their animation.

Later, once you start missing the plunderer spawn because it gets so hectic, the mine can also be used to slow down the laden plunderer’s approach to its spawn point – just make sure you get the correct spawn point. A bit of memory work here, they will return to the same point they spawned from.

You may have to let the right-most plunderer go a couple of times. It’s easier to intercept both the left and middle plunderers without aggroing all and sundry.

This is about the range you want to be for the rightmost plunderer. You will aggro anything in the middle, so break aggro whenever possible to let vets wander to the end first.
This is about the range you want to be for the rightmost plunderer. You will aggro anything in the middle, so break aggro whenever possible to let vets wander to the end first.

To get the right plunderer when things are not so chaotic, approach from the middle and only go close enough to immob the plunderer on the spawn point, just a little before the exact place where it will start treasure tossing. This minimizes the aggro risk.

When you aggro, and you will, kill the plunderer if you can in a few seconds without dying, let it go if you can’t, then drop everything and run behind the rock and a bit further if you need to.

Break aggro behind rock. Retreat further back to the south tip of the land if they chase. If you didn't hit them by accident, they shouldn't.
Break aggro behind rock. Retreat further back to the south tip of the land if they chase. If you didn’t hit them by accident, they shouldn’t.

This is when I usually fire Save Yourselves for extra swiftness to break aggro and some protection/regeneration to survive. Since we’re not aiming to actually kill much of anything in T4, switching Smite Condition for Contemplation of Purity may also help to convert the thick layer of conditions that arrive once you attract aggro and keep you alive long enough to run away.

Oh, come on, you scream. Does this mean that only Charr guardians get to manage this?

The real issue, I note, is preventing those sneaky plunderers from dashing off into the big morass of veterans where you dare not attack them, and also preventing them from reaching the point where they throw the treasure for long enough to do damage to them.

One scepter immobilize only goes so far. But I suddenly noticed that a guardian DOES have a second utility immobilize in Signet of Wrath – no weapons need be switched, you want the constant range autoattack damage as your bread-and-butter plunderer killer. It has a slight activation time to get used to, but it’s a handy 3s of immobilize that comes in handy when you’ve already used scepter 3 and when things are hectic with 2 or 3 plunderers in play.

With some patience and practice juggling plunderer spawns and killing them fast enough that they can’t toss their treasure, you too, can manage T4 post-patch.

The double immobilize version.
The double immobilize version.

How about T3?

Well, T3 is sort of a mix of T2 and T4.

You can generally start like T2 and kill stuff in the center. With the amount of damage you output, you can take down a Veteran Grenadier in fairly short order. Things get dicey once the mortar starts firing and the lone Veteran shows up. That Veteran with a gun is a major bane of my existence. It confuses. I hate confuse. Don’t we all? Do anything, including try to remove a condition, and you get hit for ugly amounts of damage.

vetcharging

It is safest to address this one from long range. It actually has a long telegraphed animation where it will pause and charge up its gun. Then it fires a projectile that does the confusing. You could maybe experiment with reflects or projectile absorbs. Or you could try to dodge – count off 2-3 seconds then dodge. I haven’t got the timing quite down pat, but it -is- dodgable and prevents the annoying confuse.

vetdodge

The problem tends to be that it always shows up at the same time as the mortars and a bunch of other spawns so a lot of things are wrestling for your attention and stuff can go wrong in fairly short order. Once you start to lose control of all the spawns, it’s time to break aggro and do like T4 for the remaining time.

I still fail this one with some regularity, mostly because taking risks to defeat more mobs means that plunderers get to sneak by unnoticed and nasty stuff shoots you in the back. But it’s doable.

Zero Aetherblade weapons and counting, by the way.

GW2: The Slimy Asura’s Guide to Southsun Survival

Basic information about the new GW2 minigame can be found at Dulfy’s.

Suggestions for Bookahs Trying to Survive:

1) Arm yourself well at the beginning. Make a grab for a weapon like the pistol or a pipe and see if you can get a free kill or two for a slight point lead at the start.

Demonstrating the head shot bow draw. This slimy fellow is also asking to get shot in the back... (see below.)
Demonstrating the head shot bow draw. This slimy fellow out in the open is also asking to get shot in the back… (see below for grand plan.)

2) Be aware of what the head shot animation looks like. Your options are: Dodge this with good timing, run out of range, use scenery to obstruct line of sight, or use bow 1 to interrupt them. Have eyes in the back of your head. Be paranoid. Suspect everybody of being out to get you. Look up, down, all around. Be wary of locations where people may be respawning during grace period too.

3) Make a beeline south for the rations from passiflora and stock up on as many as possible. Be aware that some may have a bomb trap already in-built and get ready to run off/dodge away if needed. Be aware of the normal places passiflora spawn and where suspicious lone flora are merely passiflora traps that will explode on proximity. Preferably be the first to get to them so you don’t have to worry about smarter players dumping a trap in the same place where real passiflora spawn.

4) If well stocked on rations, 5+ or more, enter hiding sequence. Find secluded place, preferably out of the way and high up so ghosts find it tougher to get to you and ruin your day, or in the water and only come to random spots of shore to heal up. Move as little as possible so that you do not run into any traps placed by ghosts. Stay super alert for the rumble of a karka being summoned and have a backup place to hide, preferably out of LOS of said karka.

5) If not well stocked, it’s going to come down to luck and good reflexes. Go hunting. Find someone, preferably with lots of rations, and do your best to kill them and loot their rations. Be aware that scavenging produces revenge motes, so if you’ve produced an angry ghost or two in your bid to survive, do try to lose them or at least not give them 10 motes to work with to kill you. You’re probably still screwed anyway. There’s only one survivor out of twenty.

But really, all surviving does is give you some temporary satisfaction, a splendid chest with a bit more support tokens and silver and a bad case of paranoia, suspicion and nerves. And frustration when you don’t survive (which is pretty good odds) and have garnered very little points because you were so focused on staying away from anything that might kill you.

(Unless you’re so awesome that you’re consistently winning – folks like you don’t need to read guides to outsmart the dumb competition anyway.)

No, where it’s really at, what MOST people want, is the “achievement get.”

Played games just take patience and time. Head shots, just scavenge arrows, keep spamming head shot and you’ll eventually get lucky. 2,500 points?! Will you not be an old cranky asura or an old dead bookah by that time?

No.

Embrace the freedom that comes from giving up your splendid chest dreams now. You can still get the Desert Rose skin from normal chests. They drop like candy anyway if the TP price is anything to go by. I have two and I wasn’t even trying. And you can buy them with 200 fortune scraps, which also drop like candy from kite fortunes.

You will be playing a new game of maximizing your point score.

I assure you, it will be lots more fun than running your arse off and cowering in caves trying to hide, and then either haunting people as an angry ghost trying to get them killed or giving up and waiting in bored frustration for the game to end.

The Over-Arcing Grand Strategy for Point Domination

1) Use the grace period to score kills. Fuck rations. Eat them when low on health to keep yourself alive and deny other people the eventual loot. Grab a weapon, pound peoples’ heads in. 5 points per kill. Get a trap? Set it immediately and let someone trip it in the crowd. Who knows, he may be low on health and die from it, giving you 5 points. If not, 2 points.

Maybe keep the passiflora trap if you want to be cunning and dump it right on top of a real spawn, but you’re probably not going to survive the grace period either with this strat. Use it or lose it to someone else. Scavenge an arrow or two. Immediately turn around and off somebody. 1 point per hit, 5 if you get a kill. Preferably someone not looking at you and who is busy bending down to scavenge. Head shot if you can. Shoot a quick shot on people low on health from others also sniping.

2) You want to look like a total griefing asshat and make a few enemies who got shot in the back. If you do this well, you will look pretty scary and end up with a settlement to scavenge and trap by yourself (until an angry respawner makes their way back.) If you do die at this stage by accident or getting shot in the back yourself, you will look like a harmless idiot who may be just farming the head shot achievement and is absolutely no threat and a free kill to be attacked when opportunity arises. Win-win.

3) Do your best to stay in the vicinity of the Refugee Camp (where Kiel’s Outpost WP is on the real Southsun Cove map) where you start at, or the northeast most camp (Pride Point WP) because there will be a crazy amount of revenge motes from everyone shooting each other and scavenging here. You’ve a 50% chance of turning up here each time you die anyway – either on the Pride Point ship or in the Kiel outpost camp. (The other two places are at the bar on the southeast resort beach or the Under New Management jumping puzzle roof.)

4) The moment the grace period ends, DIE. Commit suicide. If you did your annoyance job properly, there should be a ton of people aiming a bow at you. It may help to be asura – people love to pick on the small obnoxious ones. Stay still and let them off you. Failing which, run into a trap (run around like a headless chicken with torment on and let hunger do its work too) or a karka.

5) If you did this right, you’ll be the first one dead, preferably in the middle of the camp where twenty people scavenged with their greedy little hands and where ten people probably had a bit of a scrum.

A modest haul. Mostly for screenshot demo purposes. There was a bit more behind me, and I've had even better ones when things go right.
A modest haul. Mostly for screenshot demo purposes. There was a bit more behind me, and I’ve had even better ones when things go really right.

6) Have a ghostly orgasm at the sight and pac-man up the revenge motes. Toss a karka up and vacuum up more. Just be careful not to create too much competition for the motes until you’ve grabbed mostly all of them.

7) Now that you’re a ghost, you are safe. No one can harm you. You do not need to keep looking over your shoulder. You can race around the island with skill 5 spam. You are free. You could do like the bookahs do, find a live one and kill them. But why kill your source of points? That orange dot is your new pet. Follow him, get a little bit ahead of him, and drop the teleport trap 1. If he is a nice, predictable person, he will be rushing ahead and tripping them, giving you 2 points per trap tripped. If he is more canny, then it gets a little bit harder and turns into a fun minigame of predict where he is going in order to score your 2 points. You’ve got 15 motes to use, anyway.

If he stays still, you have a number of options. If you’re really good at judging distances, it seems to be possible for the trap to be triggered by a stationary person if you manage to place the edge right on them. You could wait for them to move, wander off to find someone else more accomodating or just pac-man more points elsewhere, or spend 10 motes to summon a karka which will almost certainly make them move, if only a little, depending on how shrewd they are. Calling the karka pretty much totals your point-garnering ability and moves you back into the regular ghost-griefing territory of ordinary bookahs.

8) The grand plan may have to be altered on the fly as the situation dictates. If you end up respawning away from revenge mote central, you want to either get killed again before grace period ends or just grab a few more kills with whoever is around and go back to playing bookah style, especially if you luck into killing someone who harvested a ton of rations. A poor run like that may yield 30 points. Aim for a more achievable average run of 50 points, and if all goes well, it is very possible to be Top Scorer with upwards of 70-100+ points, You still won’t get the splendid chest, since yer dead, but you’ll have cut down on the number of repeat Southsun Survival trials to be done if you’re going for the achievement.

I'm not a survivor! (What?) But who needs "Final Survivor" to get a good score?
I’m not a survivor! (What?) But who needs “Final Survivor” to get a good score?

And now the tongue-out-of-cheek analysis:

I surprisingly find this game quite tolerable despite the FFA PvP nature of it and the built-in griefing-permitted design.

I suspect that it’s a combination of factors helping my acceptance along. One, the game fits the Survivor or Hunger Games-style stuff to a thematic T. Backstabbing, randomness, arbitrary unfairness, very temporary alliances, ruthlessness and drama are all part of this genre. It’s a Gnashblade game, it’s meant to be a selfish, conniving, one person wins at the expense of everyone else type of affair.

Two, the player does have some control over his or her fate, as long as they have good strategy and alert reflexes. The first few games, one will fall victim to some seemingly arbitrary happenings, but one eventually learns that game karka will spawn at camps as time wears on, rendering them inactive (to speed the game up and increase fatalities) so don’t linger too long at them, that player karka can be summoned if ghosts are given too many revenge motes through your actions and can reach you, and how to try to avoid traps (move erratically, jump up and off stuff in different directions, swim, climb up where ghosts find it hard to get to, etc.)

Three, the minigame creates opportunities for some hilarious short player-created narratives through emergence – there was the time another player and I duked it out with like one arrow flying between the both of us for the rations each of us was carrying. I had less rations and more arrows. I had to attack him. He dodged. He shot. I dodged. He ran out of arrows and I had one arrow remaining. Unfortunately I lost because I made the mistake of not canceling the head shot animation and he dodged it, then ran away. In retrospect, I should have just humped him until he got low and had to pause to eat rations or die.

Or the time I stalked a player in ghostly form as they swam across to the far shore (where the less known reef skelk are on the real map) and karka’ed them just as they presumably thought they had gotten away with it.

Or head-shotting another player who was trying to head shot another person. It’s a pretty frequent occurrence and have occasionally been victim to it myself.

There are just some tremendously good “LOL” moments to offset the pain of not being able to “win” this time, especially for those watching as a ghost. Cathartic, maybe.

Catharsis is having your pet karka area deny a camp and kill a few people. It comes with a guild tag, so everyone knows it's you.
Catharsis is having your pet karka area deny a camp and kill a few people. It comes with a guild tag, so everyone knows it’s yours.

(It’s also hard to take death and losing personally when you know 18 other people didn’t win either. And if there’s one person consistently winning, they may eventually make enough enemies to sabotage their future runs in true Survivor reality games fashion.)

And finally, the game and achievements do not place winning and being the last man standing on a pedestal for frustrated players to stare longingly at. Everyone participating gets to take back a support token, a green and some silver in the chest for their time spent playing this (as opposed to say, running CoF1 non-stop) so it is worth just having some fun with it. For whatever definitions of fun you prefer.

I did actually win two games by chance before I decided just to point-whore, so it is doable. I don’t have the ping (other people consistently beat me to the campfire supplies, and WvW supply camps, for that matter) or reflexes (mis-timing head shot dodges are the death of me) to do it consistently, but people in the right geographic location may.

I really like that there are multiple possible games-within-games to be played here. One can strive for a decent number of points per game, one can play with headshots and death match it out if they feel like it, one can just enjoy the sensation of griefing living players as a ghost (some people like the schadenfreude, I guess) or one can play the “proper” hunger survival game.

It’s sort of similar to Team Fortress in that sense. Yes, there’s an overall objective. But some people may just be enjoying their own personal sniper headshot game, or spy backstab game, or seeing how many people they and their sentries can gib and infuriate to the point of seeing players change class to spy and come as a group just to get past that nuisance of an engineer (guilty as charged.)

Giving more players the opportunity to feel like they are winners of their own personal little game makes the whole thing more popular, or at least, more well-received.

TSW: Short Snippets – Savage Coast to Blue Mountain

General update is that I’m (more or less) done with the Savage Coast and into Blue Mountain.

Though with a count of only 44 quests or so in Kingsmouth Town (where I hear some people are maxing out at upwards of 53+), that’s still leaving me feeling like I’ve missed a bunch of things. The Savage Coast quest count was also around there, 40ish, as I headed into the third zone.

“Normal didn’t work out for you?” You don’t say… Woman, there’s an Ak’ab pacing outside your window.

One of the things that struck me about the Savage Coast was the sense of incompletion, in the sense that there ought to be more to discover about Innsmouth Academy and Sam Krieg and why was it that there was only one investigation mission about the amusement park that I encountered… Amusingly, this feeling turns out to be somewhat justified, as this stuff is still pending in the supposed monthly update that is coming – I am keeping my fingers crossed that Funcom can deliver properly.

I do wonder if they’ve thought this update plan through though. I forsee a flood of people all descending like a swarm of locusts on the ‘new content’ from all corners of whatever zone they are presently in. And as any current TSW player knows, too many people trying to do the same quest can be a not-so-nice thing. Either it all gets completed too quickly with nary a sense of appropriate challenge (as the other guy pwns the quest solution and your own tracker updates while you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on), or it is liable to bug and break.

The Bogeyman instance was… fun. I’d be hearing that some people had problems with it and was anticipating it with some trepidation. It turns out that what the Bogeyman has, minor spoiler warning, is a lot of gimmick dungeon-boss-like mechanics in a solo instance. You have to read very quickly where you’re not supposed to be and don’t stand in the fire (or the glowing green magic patch) on a continuous basis, or you’re liable to get blasted for something ugly. Sometimes, hug him in melee range, which as a blades user, makes me very happy. Sometimes, AoE stuff forms around him and you’d be daft to keep standing in it, so retreat and kite and snipe a bit. Unsoweiter. I like it. Thanks for giving soloers some challenging stuff. (Now if you’d just make the enforced solo instances group-able, so that group-loving sorts can do it in their duos and trios, then we’ll all be very happy. See, as a soloist, I think about the groupies too!)

I was a little too busy moving in the battle to screenshot, but here’s him falling over.

Besides reworking the skills build in the Savage Coast, the other notable improvement that I took the time to do was UI-related, a massive inventory re-sorting. While I’d discovered the ‘new bag’ feature on my own, the resize bag function was not at all obvious, thanks to TSW’s little pixel misalignment problem (everything is a little lower and right of where you’d expect it to be – gives problems with character creation sliders, closing windows with the little X button, and so on.)

Nor had I realized there was a lock feature (shows I don’t read the helpfiles that pop up, eh?), which I immediately took advantage of by arranging my consumable heals and HoTs on the left, and barrier/cc break/buffs on the right of the health and skill bars and locking those.

The rest is just neatness. Stack base, imperfect and normal tier components and runes in order for easy crafting. Weapons in another bag. Arranged my semi-incomplete but steadily building DPS/Tank/Heal talisman collection in a neat 1×7 row on top of each other. They’re still greens because that’s what the quests and monster loot drops. I’m wearing a blue DPS belt I bought off the Council of Venice vendor near Red’s Bait and Tackle, and I’m saving the rest for the Blue Mountain vendor, which I hear has higher quality stuff.

To be honest, I half prefer the greens since I mostly solo, they all come with the necessary hp and don’t give me a headache trying to decide if I should be rummaging around for more tank pieces to offset all the hp I’m losing by equiping a blue DPS thingamajig. It’ll no doubt be easier when I have more blue pieces to play around with, at which point the general 33% improvement would be good, but I’m not losing any sleep over it now.

It’s not a bad state of affairs, that greens seem to be good for casual or loner generalists and blues work for groupy specialists who like to turn themselves into co-dependent glass cannons and heal0rs and meatshields. (I watched one of those glass cannons sitting on 2000 hp try the same Blue Mountain quest I was on. He got overrun and swarmed badly. Three times. He ended up waiting for my rabid soloing 3000hp self to get tired of carving up random mobs in the vicinity and meander over, at which point I ended up tanking for him while he unloaded obliterating death upon the poor swarm.)

Oh, I’m glad to report that my AR/Blade build is still working (more or less) satisfactorily in Blue Mountain. It’s missing a touch more, which is more a weapon/talisman stats sort of deal, needs more hit rating and a bit more SP in the weapon (ramped Blade from 4 to 6, AR still playing catch up at 5) and to up my overall talisman quality (on 4, and QL5ish gear, working my way to 5 and QL6,) rather than a skill build issue.

And so far so good with Blue Mountain in general. It’s an interesting zone, and feels more packed than Savage Coast, to be honest. I’m liking it because it reminds me of City of Heroes’ hazard zone The Hollows. The basic thing people need to realize is that the zone is -dangerous- and to apply care and alertness and aggro radius awareness skills when moving through it, or you’ll soon be finding you’ve misstepped in a gauntlet and now have a train of mobs after your arse.

I think situational awareness is what a number of people are lacking practice with, currently. (Spoilers follow.) The first thing you run into when you zone in is a bridge full of ominous looking corpses. If you follow blindly the side quest you pick up that says ‘track the trail of blood’ leading right through those corpses, it is very easy to over aggro the entire fucking bridge full of zombies who will wake up and… let’s face it. In TSW, we kill 1 or 2 mobs at a time without dying, not 30. This developer trap is put here for a reason, imo, it says, wake up now, the road ahead is not smooth sailing.

And yes, I walked right into it, died once, attempted to pull slowly for about three zombies before I decided, this is not going to get me anywhere, the bridge is obviously a booby trap, maybe I should go look at the other side quest for now. Which is a ‘follow the arrows’ trail quest, into dark surroundings and bear traps. Which I thankfully did not step into because I was jogging along at normal pace, but random sprinter pelting gung ho ahead of me promptly demonstrated the leg chomping functionality of said bits of not-so-harmless scenery. And the resulting Wendigo ambush. Ah ha. Rule number 1, don’t step into traps. Rule number 2, hunt down lurking mobs and kill them before they ambush you. Then proceed on merry way.

(There is also another shortcut route past the bridge, which is really simple, just step right off it into the river below and wander back up again. No aggro whatsoever, assuming you don’t foolishly run pell-mell into the Draug area, and hey, there is a bonus lore shiny nearby too.)

Discovered this in the Savage Coast, but it’s good for Blue Mountain too. Letting the Ak’ab ram itself into a convenient wall as it charges. Was hilarious fun. Positioning, folks, learn how to use it.

Other than that, a lot of Blue Mountain questing seems to be about patiently carving yourself a safe route through areas too crowded to just run past (unless you have nerves of steel and a high sprint speed like a Templar I watched dash straight across the bridge and get to Sarge, trailing 30 rabid zombies after her. One of whom came after me, who had promptly jumped onto a rock and hugged the cliff face in an attempt to get out of the way of the crazy train. Thanks, scummy Templar.)

I did get swarmed just outside the entrance of Blue Mountain mine by way too many yellow mobs, but that was my fault for jumping down a cliff at a convenient location and thinking I could fight a mob in crowded surroundings. Evidently, I couldn’t. Skirting it for now and getting a few more SP before I try again, still lots of side quests yet to be completed.

And knowing when to run away saves lives. Over-aggro? Run. Not kite, they chase you longer if you keep shooting at them. I’ve leapt off cliffs more than once (hooray, no fall damage) to break aggro and managed to save my skin.

And the other skin-saver? Consumables. I don’t know how many players in Blue Mountain are dying because they’re ignoring that they have consumable heals. I suspect at least a few. Some recommend picking up the Turn the Tables heal from the Ability Wheel, which gives a decent self-heal every 30 seconds, I hear. I might pick it up some day for better soloability, but I don’t like the idea of giving up a skill slot for it just yet. Consumables have been sufficient for me so far. And I mostly only use them near other players – because I end up either helping to shoot a mob off them while I’m already finishing fighting one, or some emergency happens because they triggered some quest or other. When I’m on my own, I tend to clear steadily, and pull mobs into an area that is clear enough to use my AoE builder for affliction.

Still working my way through this zone slowly, enjoying the journey. Back with hopefully more screenshots and stuff to talk about a couple days later.