Blaugust Day 22: Asura Alt Collection – The Guardian (GW2)

Yep, a second guardian.

From very early on, I knew a charr guardian was going to be my main in Guild Wars 2, but coming a very close second was the idea of an asura guardian.

I was in love with the amusing contrast of really tiny yet really tanky, plus the fantastic asura combat animations, spinning around on a staff to empower, leaping and spinning everywhere like little dervishes with weapons way too large for them that pull them every which way with inertia.

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Shudd was my answer to that desire. (And we have seen him before, showing off various armor styles nearer the beginning of his career.)

Funny story about his naming – I knew he needed a proper asura name. One syllable, short and sweet, with two double letters in there somewhere.

You know, it’s a lot easier said than done.

I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, stuck at the naming portion of character creation, typing in any short, nonsensical but asura-sounding words I could think of, and coming to the conclusion that with the number of people playing GW2 that also care about naming conventions, a LOT of the possible one syllable word combinations were getting taken up… there are only so many vowels to go around and possible consonants to be arranged around them, right?

Somehow, the word “should” popped into my mind. (Maybe because the sequence of events went something like “There -should- be SOME names left, dammit.”)

There aren’t any repeated letters in that though…

So I tried, “Shodd.”

Nope. No go.

Erm, “Shadd?” Nothing.

“Shedd?” (Though it sounds silly) Nada.

Let us not try Shidd. (‘Tis a silly name.)

Eventually I went down the vowel chain, and badabing, Shudd got through. And hrm, sounds presentable to my ear. Works.

The great irony was when I played through the asura infinity ball personal story arc and realized that I had an NPC assistant named Shodd. Totally unintentional, but I suddenly had a pairing worthy of a law firm: Shudd & Shodd, World Domination Inc.

Then I got to Lion’s Arch, and realized there was another asura NPC, Captain Shud, in charge of the portals and on the captain’s council.

This was a perfect, if completely unintentional, demonstration of additional lore – aka how confusing asura names are to humans, yet utterly distinctive to the diminutive asura.

In my head, I could just hear it being patiently explained to a bookah, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. It’s Shudd, as opposed to Shud… or Shodd,” each word carefully pronounced and articulated…

A giant question mark appearing over said bookah’s head…

…and the lil asura throwing up his hands and going, “Oh, forget it. Why am I even bothering?”

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Why -two- guardians, some would ask, when the one guardian could switch traits any time to be any build whatsoever?

Well, the idea was that my charr guardian was going to be built for solo wandering, to be mostly a one-handed weapon user, to be all hard-hitting berserker and stuff. The asura, on the other hand, was going to cleave a bit more towards meta, to do my group dungeons, to be a little tankier, to be used in WvW and we could achieve gear and build differentiation that way.

Best laid plans and all that.

It worked for a time. The meta of the day was the anchor guardian, so I faithfully picked up Knight’s gear, a hammer, a two-handed sword and so on. I did a considerable amount of dungeoning with Shudd, and couldn’t help but notice that I was picking up 95%-100% of the aggro of every fight and struggling to stay alive through self-healing, altruistic healing, renewed focus and pretty much every other trick in the book, while my group compatriots did nothing but dps (probably poorly too) and after that go, “Jeez, that was super easy. Piece of cake. Need harder difficulties!”

What? I was barely clinging on to life and it was so touch and go at certain points… And you want it, harder?!

Some time around the point between the Molten facility and the Aetherblade one, I realized I had finally had it with attempting to tank (or rather, anchor) for groups that couldn’t appreciate or see what was happening. Far better to split the aggro, let the ungrateful ones take a few hits of their own, and -feel- it, and all the stupid remarks about “easy peasy, need it harder” went away. I swapped to warrior for dungeoneering then, and retired the guardian.

He did, however, still see me through lots and lots of WvW. I swapped around cleric, soldier, zerker, zealot stats every which way, trying to figure out the best combinations, changing between tanky/bunker healbots, tanky frontline spearheads, not-so-tanky midline staff (lootstick) spam and basically played a ton of melee frontline in a zerg, during the best of times with superb commanders.

These days, I’ve been changing it up and playing more ranged backline (it’s also lazier and less stressful and easier to drop in and out unmissed) so poor old Shudd is sitting around unused, with bags still mostly bursting and untended to. Probably just a matter of time before things change again, I suppose.

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Personality-wise, Shudd is a lot more gregarious than Kujl.

His oddity, I suppose, is his adventuresome nature. He’s also off exploring the wilderness and interacting with all races of Tyria in a manner similar to the old GW1 hero, Vekk.

Yes, he is snide and snarky, like nearly all asura out there; he’ll cheerfully call you a bookah without thinking twice, but he’s not xenophobic about it. He’s in fact quite happy traveling and communicating with all races because to him, everything’s part of one giant lab experiment – his lab experiment.

Graduating from the College of Synergistics, he studies relationships and connections. You might call him a sort of sociologist or anthropologist, practising observational science. He studies various cultures, how they get along, relate to and interact with one another. He’s interested in psychology, history, economics and basically anything and everything that might suggest how it all synergizes into the Eternal Alchemy.

Because well, if he can understand that, then that’s it right there. The secret to life, universe and everything. Godhood, world domination, your heart’s desire, the fount of eternal life, the source of all magic, whatever, it all pales in comparison to the origin of knowledge, to understanding how it all ties together.

If the network of the Eternal Alchemy can be determined, mapped and understood, everything else would naturally fall into place like dominos following a chain reaction.

It’s going to take a life’s work. It’ll be a magnum opus, and possibly a swan song. It may mean slaying the Elder Dragons, if need be. So Shudd’s out there, observing, cataloging, fighting, searching for true facts and truth itself.

(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)

(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)

Everything else, well, it’s just stuff made in passing, inventions to kill time or serve a purpose.

The infinity ball? A toy.

The alchemagical devices that generate holograms like shattered dragon wings and his sword? Just utility tools.

His powered armor? #normalgeniusasurathings. Doesn’t everybody do that?

Whatever. The answer is out there. Somewhere.

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This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 22, and 42.

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Blaugust Day 20: Asura Alt Collection – The Ranger (GW2)

I need another one of those quick posts again, because I’m seriously starved on time lately.

It’s all I can do to knock out one set of GW2 dailies (hit the three easiest – < 30 minutes), and then go on to one set of Trove dailies (fill the star bar – also < 30 minutes.)

I think Paeroka is on to something, showing off all her MMO mini-mes

Ditto Rowan Blaze, with his SWTOR character biographies.

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So, this is Kujl.

Pronounced “Cudgel,” as he will tell you sourly, if he deigns to tell you at all.

He shares the typical asura trait of assuming all bookahs fairly stupid and not worth conversing with, plus a little extra helping of bitterness for being teased mercilessly through progeny-hood for his un-asura-like name.

(No double-vowels, not even a double-consonant, not the usual short sharp exhalation of a one syllable male name, but a double syllable one slightly more typical of female asura names… the only thing vaguely respectably masculine is ending in a consonant… and the sexy ears, of course.)

Personally, I sometimes slip fondly into something more vaguely resembling “Cujo” or “Cujill” when I’m thinking of bringing him out for an sPvP spin, but it’s ok, we’ll whisper it and he already thinks we’re all a bunch of bookahs anyway.

He’s been level 39 for a very long time, having officially replaced my necromancer as my sPvP ol’ reliable some time back.

And he’s one of the rarer combinations of race and class – something I love my characters to be, so that they’re a little bit atypical and I can infuse a little more backstory into them.

Why asura ranger? Well, mostly because I thought the idea of a pet being as big or bigger than his ranger master would be hilariously awesome to play.

In my head though, Kujl is an extremely antisocial (probably even asocial) asura who doesn’t even want to mix with his own kind, due to said horrible childhood teasing making lab and school life a living hell.

Obviously, animals don’t judge in that fashion.

Since nature and the outdoors are where most normal and ambitious asura only venture to when their labs suffer an unfortunate accid- “learning experience” and require some ventilation time… or when they need test subjects… Kujl has probably discovered or decided that this giant free-from-rent-and-research-grant-requiring-(aka-political-schmoozing-needed) venue is where -he- will set up lab instead.

Being also a typical “I’ll show them… I’m a genius” asura, Kujl is busy pioneering work in “living” golems.

Yep, his pets are implanted with all manner of technomagical control devices for “guaranteed reliability” (fine print: beta version, some testing still required.)

It’s a curious thing, but I’ve always thought of Kujl as being fairly young, and his levels tend to match, I haven’t moved him beyond level 39, and not really sure I want to, even if I do want a level 80 ranger at -some- point.

Yet, he has a very old, serious, bitter soul.

He was one of the earliest characters I made, probably in one of the original five slots.

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I found a portrait of him at level 9, some time in Dec 2012, and I suspect he was made earlier than that.

At the time, I knew he was young, I tried to color him flamboyantly, yellow and purple “rich” colors, mostly because I was sick of dyeing all my alts some version of ebony, grey or brown for natural metal/leather colors.

It just didn’t quite click. He was kind of saying, this is not who I am.

I suppose we can assume he was still schooling at this point, dressing up in a more civilian style, if only to blend in, but just not comfortable with city life.

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Around 2013, I start attempting to level the ranger alt again, and give him a bit more of a makeover. He still has the purple intensity, that reflects the deep blue intenseness of his eyes. The yellow has been dialed back to something more cream-leathery, and more natural dark leather armor is protecting him on his ventures afar.

He stalls somewhere around lvl 20ish.

When I next revisit him, probably at least a year later, I have a free makeover kit lying around, and I decide to check out the exclusive asura hairstyles.

I have no idea how to describe it. A mohawk? A ponytail? Something vaguely Aztec-inspired? But somehow, I know it fits. He’s grown up.

He doesn’t need that kid hairstyle with the purple hairband anymore.

He’s moved from kid to teenager to young adult, at least.

I take him PvPing. I’m relying on his totally nondescript lowbie leather armor to signal that I’m a nobody, not at all prestigious, I can be overlooked, I probably suck, maybe we’re small and sneaky, but that’s about it for the fear factor…

… We do suck. For quite a while, as I throw myself gleefully into build-testing the hard way, under fire.

But slowly, surely, one experimental tweak after another, as I and he grow more comfortable with his weapons and what he is capable of, I start winning matches. Not a whole lot, but enough to tilt me back to a 50% win/loss kind of ratio.

Several months later, GW2 opens its very first sneak peek of Heart of Thorns, and somehow in the closing of that, something funky happens to the old pre-launch early start accounts and Anet says that our particular version of game doesn’t quite exist anymore. They’ve given us the heroic edition of the game instead, and the heroic edition comes with an extra bonus GW1 heritage/legacy armor skin from the gem store… Take your pick, heavy, medium or light?

The medium Krytan armor looks to my eye like the best of the lot, and it really reminds me of my GW1 ranger, who spent quite a while wearing a style like that.

But do I even -have- a medium armor class who can wear it?

Oh wait, yes, I do.

Somebody’s come of age.

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Some months after that, I was on my scientific skins collection kick.

When it was done, I was struggling to figure out who else could use green skins besides my necro (who already sports Tequatl sunless styles and a rare dreamthistle skin or two.)

And then I knew who it was absolutely perfect for.

Scientific and steampunky, as in asura-like technology?

Green and acidy, as in condi damage?

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Thank you, Kujl. Take a bow.

(Just don’t take over the world while I’m not looking.)

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 20.

GW2: Being Restless is Dangerous to One’s Wallet

I suddenly got it in my head at work today that I might have been feeling aimless because I was missing a sense of prolonged accomplishment in GW2, that slow grindy build up to something that one wanted.

For months after all, there hadn’t been anything I wanted, just logging in to chill out, do a couple social events, tick off some dailies for the feeling of easy accomplishment, log out.

Equally insanely, another thought popped into my head that I had two Venoms sitting in the bank – the first being the /only/ precursor that ever fell into my inventory (in WvW, a long long time ago, in a roundabout way) and the second an impulse purchase under the logic that it was the absolute cheapest precursor ever and I might want a “Twice-Told Legend” title some day. (Yes, on some days I am plainly not in possession of my mind.)

Just how much did Kraitkin cost to make anyway?

I had accumulated about 700g in the bank, which is by far the highest sum I’ve ever accrued, and only speaks of how unactively I’d been doing anything lately besides earning a gold or two every day.

I’d been banking all my T6 materials as per normal, and Rodgort the T6 vacuum cleaner had been a while back.

(Apparently 1.5 years, give or take a few months, is my average for casually accumulating sufficient mats for a legendary, or at least enough that I can stomach the last push/focused expenditure for the rest.)

Turns out, the ingredient list wasn’t -too- horrible.

The dungeon required was Sorrow’s Furnace tokens, and while I was suspecting that I might have to set a goal to purposefully run a few to get the 500 tokens, when I logged in to check my in-game wallet, I had 900 already accumulated, just from super-irregularly running path 1 and 3 every time a friend asked.

Orichalcum ingots, cured hardened leather squares, all fairly normal. The only thing that would really damage the bank was amassing T6 materials, especially since the thing needed 500 Armored Scales (which were currently in the 35-40 silver range) and a bunch of crystalline dust.

The bank, fortunately, already had a pretty decent stock of T6 and ectos from salvaging rares.

Had to get 77 Mystic Clovers, so I cheerfully spent a whole bunch of the 900 skill points on my main for Philosopher’s Stones (and a bloodstone shard. He still has some 600 points remaining, and probably 3 stacks of skill scrolls in the bank) and knocked off 800k of the 7 million karma in the wallet for Obsidian Shards. Did the one at a time recipe methodically and that yielded up a little extra T6 as a consolation prize for eating some 120 ectos.

After that, it was filling in the gaps by virtue of taking out large sums of gold from the bank and throwing it at the Trading Post (plus buying Icy Runestones for 100g, and 20g for the two gift recipes.)

Some 300g poorer, I was all set.

I decided I wanted to “roleplay” the making of this second legendary in a similar vein to someone I read about on Reddit going to the heart of Mount Maelstrom to forge a fire-based legendary.

Kraitkin, of course, needed an underwater location.

I was making a beeline for the Temple of Abaddon when it hit me that I should really look for a krait-infested location instead.

Since my necromancer’s map of Timberline Falls was a giant blank fog of war with no waypoints, I settled for the Kessex Hills krait instead. Well, they’re kinda special too, being all toxic after Scarlet’s influence, and that fallen tower was no doubt the site of some powerful magic.

Right underneath it, naturally, is the Lair of the Blood Witch.

As expected, she was up, and I got massacred a few times while assuming I could power through and kill her with UI hidden and trying to take screenshots to document the adventure.

Turns out, she has a very constant and nasty hitting attack that is almost like an auto-attack in its consistency, very hard to pre-emptively dodge and too frequent to dodge reliably.

I had to bring my UI back up and waypoint rez for a second “serious-face” try, carefully alternating a Shadow Fiend and a Bone Fiend to tank the attack and desperately scrabbling around with death shroud and dodges during the downtime.

Fortunately, her shrinking healthbar brought in one or two lowbies to add on a little extra damage, reducing the amount of time required to hold out, and she died just as I was starting to panic with most skills on cooldown, having already been downed once and forced to rez by killing a nearby minion.

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Taking over as the new Blood Witch.

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Brought up the mystic forge, slid the four expensive components inside and hit the button. Badabing badaboom.

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Probably one of the more expensive ways to get 5 AP.

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It’s a pretty understated legendary, which possibly explains its lack of desirability, even among underwater weapons.

It adds on a white misty aura, which isn’t too different from the one that a Wintersday aquabreather gives you, and you get a school of tiny eel-like fish that spiral around you in a small cloud when you draw the trident or weapon swap.

The rest of it is small but tasteful motion, the three eel heads twisting and flexing and breathing poisonous fumes and two streams of water spiralling around the shaft.

According to the wiki, it apparently has a night/day cycle, which changes the motion of the water streams slightly and gives the eel heads a faintly green glow, but I can’t really see that much of the difference myself.

If any, its bioluminescence is as understated as that of my sylvari’s.

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Day

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Night

I do like it, though. It matches really well with my necro’s color scheme.

Now I just need a non-pathetic spear. *gulp*

And I’m down to just one Venom taunting me about Twice-Told Legend.

Since I’m back to hitting the poverty line again crafting mats-wise and wiped out half my gold stash, neither is likely to happen pre-Heart of Thorns, and then there will probably be something else shinier to catch my attention for a while.

Was fun though, and at least, I now have a mild “gotta restock and hoard stuff again” impetus for playing GW2 a touch more seriously… whenever I get around to it.