Playing As Intended, Nothing to See Here

Updating the blog is hard when there’s nothing new to say.

For the last week, I’ve been heavily playing two games as intended – the well-trodden routes that everyone should be familiar with.

I don’t think it’s terribly exciting to anyone else when you increment a level number, is it?

Path of Exile

Hype is super-ramping up for the Forsaken Masters release, and I’ve been playing the crud out of it as a result.

My ridiculously masochistic low-life dual-dagger first-build-ever summoner Shadow made it to level 65, on the back of a whole lot of Swan Song videos.

It’s at this point that I decided I was officially hitting the next ‘gear wall’ – there are a ton of things that I would love to five and six-link, assuming I have the gear, and assuming I even have the gems – which I don’t, since I’m staunchly anti-manual-trade (don’t try to change my mind – I didn’t use the trade channel in the old MUD I played, I didn’t trade for a thing in Spamadan in GW1, I hate text barter trading with people or bots, period. I’m still enjoying Path of Exile fine, and willing to pay more to increase stash size to play with my own self-found ruleset. Everybody wins, except the people who can’t tolerate someone they don’t know and will never meet – since I don’t group – playing less efficiently. Deal.)

This sounded like a good time to wait for the Forsaken Masters to see if they could help out on the less RNG gearing front, so I did.

In the meantime, it was time for a little easymode.

Obviously, not at all current-and-updated easy, because I’m busy noobing it up here, but a Geofri’s Baptism – a two-handed maul unique – dropped and was burning a hole in my stash.

And I was doing pretty well with a super-tanky molten strike / ground slamming Marauder  in hardcore mode previously, albeit -very slow and steady because hardcore mode = don’t die – so for casual fun, I made a new Marauder with a similar build in the standard league and dumped as much nice stuff as had accumulated in my stash onto him.

Guy whizzed past the levels in like 3 days.

Level 55 now and still climbing.

To the tune of Mythbusters videos mostly, since I’ve exhausted all the roleplay ones. (Anyone know any other entertaining roleplays in the vein of ItmeJP’s stuff or Will Wheaton’s Fiasco? They have to be watchable, not unedited – it’s boring as fuck to watch ordinary people um and ahh and hesitate for minutes attempting to tell a story.)

I did suffer a few deaths, the first and stupidest one due to getting chain stunned by a mass of bird-like rhoa (what is it with birds and stuns, GW2’s moas also daze…) and that was eventually fixed by picking up Unwavering Stance. It comes with the drawback of not being able to evade enemy attacks – but I figure I’m not gearing with any evasion to begin with, so whatever. 19% evasion or less seemed fine to trade off for not being stunned ever.

The Marauder side of the skill tree really looks a tide more organized to be newbie friendly than the Shadow side.

Went for all the life, and armor, and resistances and strength and two-handed maul damage stuff and seems to be working out fine.

Picked up the Resolute Technique keystone since Geofri’s Baptism couldn’t crit anyway, and one may as well experiment with consistent sustained damage on what is intended to be a more robust type of character.

It was around the 50s and entering Merciless difficulty that the gear wall started to make itself a little bit more felt – though in this case, it mostly means I have to stop playing braindead run-in hur-durr kill-everything and kite a bit more with groundslam, or use doorways and corners as chokepoints, or even *gasp* put a rejuvenation totem behind me to buff up my life regen and keep the hp reservoir full for long enough to wreck the onslaught.

I’m seriously playing with only 4 skills here. Groundslam AoEs everything in a cone, molten strike for single-target with collateral fire projectile damage, I picked up Warlord’s Mark as a curse since I got tired of the NPCs using it on me to such great effect and a little more leech couldn’t hurt, and rejuvenation totem for the times when a flask won’t cut it.

Groundslam all the things. They stun and pretty much sit in the cone.
Groundslam all the things. They stun and pretty much sit in the cone and die, with only a few managing to close in.
Molten strike spam with a rejuv totem sitting pretty.
Molten strike spam with a rejuv totem sitting pretty.

It… can be a little boring.

(It’s certainly a change from the tension and challenge of the noob Shadow, where it’s a mad juggle of summons in succession for long enough to dart in and out and hit things with daggers. Still, variable difficulty that one can pick at will by changing characters ain’t bad.)

I have Searing Bond slotted, mostly out of a morbid curiosity to see how high the dps goes as the gem levels. I generally don’t use it except when I’m just playing around. It looks like a totem-based Searing Bond Templar might be pretty fun, but apparently it’s also going to suffer a little dps nerf in the Forsaken Masters patch (aka less than 14 hours away) so we’ll see. Filed away for ‘play later, probably when no longer fashionable, because one is slow and late to everything.’

Geofri’s Baptism finally got replaced around level 53-54, with a very ordinary, but four-linked magic Dread Maul, crafted for physical damage increase.

A chance Ledge run for fun dropped a unique Dread Maul, which made me stop and stare, incredulous at how RNG -actually- dropped a weapon that fit the character I was playing at the time.

Naturally, once I id’ed it, it turns out that Murphy’s Law struck again.

voidhome

Decreased experience gain? Reduced item rarity? Is this thing for real?!

Some googling and research later, it turns out that opinions are mixed on this highly interesting unique.

On the plus side, folks were saying that this is a great farming weapon, when you don’t want to outlevel a map too quickly, and are going for currency. Instead of item rarity, put on item quantity and just hit things and watch stuff fall out of their pockets, essentially.

Someone else suggested that this was a good weapon to put on weapon swap – which made a lot of sense to me, since my second slot had been sitting empty for the past 50 levels – and that it was good for boss-killing, wail away until the last sliver of hp, then swap back to normal weapon for normal loot drops, and for bludgeoning one’s way past difficult levels for newbies when you’re only concerned about progressing through the locations and quests, rather than racking up xp or loot.

Which all seemed fairly logical, and what-the-hell, I had it, so let’s try it out.

The dps on this thing is CRAZY.

That 50% increased attack speed essentially doubles your dps, and the mana leech means you pretty much do not run out of mana. Gone was the regular needing-to-quaff-a-mana-flask-every-now-and-then.

I ran around the Ledge farming map like a lawnmower, holding down the ground slam button, giggling like a maniac.

Fun factor-wise, this thing gets a thumbs up from me.

Frankly, after thinking about it, if I’m killing things twice as quickly or faster, 44% reduction in experience gain simply means I’m gaining xp at about the usual pace. Ie. a necessary balance.

It turns out that between some other chance buffs on the items, I’m only at a -5% item rarity, so it’s not -horrible- horrible, I still pop rares now and then, but maybe less than previously. Anyway, the character wasn’t built for item farming as the main purpose – I don’t exactly own a surplus of Increased Item Rarity and Increased Item Quantity gems to begin with, so it’s not a major breaking point.

In a way, it’s kind of interesting that this sort of unique exists – where it isn’t a straight up across the board improvement – that forces you to think about tradeoffs.

I settled for putting it on secondary weapon swap.

If I could get by with normal experience and item rarity with my normal weapon, then everything’s good.

If I can’t, it’s nice to have a cheatmode weapon standing by, just in case.

Guild Wars 2

Over in wood-farming land, I faithfully farmed up Foxfire Clusters for seven days and sold a ton of them and made a lot of gold…

…before deciding today that I could no longer wait -another seven days – for the next stage of the time-limited backpack, and correspondingly spent a lot of gold.

Well, easy come, easy go.

Virtual currency is for spending and all that.

I guess I’ve discovered that my willpower limit is around a week.

I faithfully built the Cultivated Vine from scratch, producing a plant food of each type per day, and using all hoarded materials in the process.

There was a time when I was faithfully charging up Celestial quartz crystals, so there were 10 standing by and ready. I’d accumulated 100+ Sunstone Lumps, so no problems on that front either. I’d jumped into T6 Dry Top on the first day Dragon’s Reach Part 2 launched, and bought all the recipes and clay needed for the clay pot, etc.

Unfortunately, after the first stage was made, and I was left holding the next stage’s Pet Seed, I realized that I hadn’t -quite- planned long term enough, having staunchly tried to avoid reading the Dulfy guide for the backpack.

I did have 48 Foxfire clusters, ready for the Mist-Infused Clay Pot, and the next 7 days of Piquant Plant Food.

I didn’t have enough clay for another clay pot, and organized Dry Tops seemed to have dried up in favor of the Blix farm. Bah.

I didn’t have enough charged quartz crystals, I’d need another 3-4 days, AND I’d seen how much sunstone lumps were going for and converted everything I owned and offloaded it to make $$$ fast. I mean, what better time to make a serious profit on lowbie material hoarding?

I had 12 Pristine Fractal Relics standing by in the bank – turns out I actually do run more fractals than the few complaining that they’re ‘forced’ into the activity and scared of grouping, which is quite incredible considering I’ve only stepped in there twice or thrice in the last few months – and a crafted +5 infusion that had been taking up a bank slot since the Thaumanova Reactor fractal days.

And I really couldn’t deal with the thought of slowly waiting another seven days for freakin’ plant food before I got my hands on Mawdrey II. That’s seven days of bloodstone dust eating. (In return for crap greens, sure, but the prospect of freeing up inventory and bank slots is super appealing.)

So I talked myself into buying 7 of each type of plant food, a clay pot and a grow lamp.

I figure I should be able to sell off 7 plant food in the coming days, albeit at ever-decreasing prices, and only be short a couple gold when all is said and done. That’s seven days of not-obsessing over Mawdrey, and more potential earning power by being able to focus on other things.

The clay pot, one might as well eat as the cost of saving geodes for the next Ambrite weapon skin, assuming I ever find a T6 Dry Top again.

The grow lamp is the only one that kind of hurts a bit, but well, if I run around, mine nodes, and sell off all the watchwork sprockets and sunstone that pop out, it might offset the cost just a little. Anyway, spending 10-20 gold doesn’t sound that bad to speed up the whole process.

mawdrey

All that rationalization of spending later, it sure is a cutie.

I haven’t even decided on a character to put the vine on yet. Maybe I’ll check the sylvari necro later.

But it ate 150 Bloodstone Dust today, and I’m happy.

.

In other news, I haven’t done any of the Challenger Cliff Dry Top achievements, nor the hard mode Living Story achievements yet.

I just seem to be spacing out the content over time, given that it’s still going to be weeks before the feature patch, and months before the Living Story comes around again. Permanent content, ho.

I bit the bullet and did a few more PvP matches yesterday and today and picked up the last 9% on the Balthazar backpiece reward track.

(It was weird, I was on a big PvP kick for a while, and then I just sort of couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for walking into a match and getting mauled. It’s funny how people give up and stack teams so quickly.

I braved Solo Queue for two matches, and turned up on the mauling side for once. That was nice, in terms of how we simply dominated the other side and stayed on point – though I couldn’t believe I managed to 1 vs 2 on home point and win, they must have been quite new – but I’m sure it was very much less enjoyable for the other team. So much so, one of them quit part way through, when the score was 250 vs 55 or so, and things only got worse for them from there.

Then I got impatient waiting for solo arena to pop, and went for the shameless hotjoin to speed up the daily. I ended up finishing the match and the daily with like 0.1% left on the backpiece track, so I had to sit through another match. Naturally, the randomly hotjoin server was already stacked, and I was desperate enough to join on the losing side for that smidgen of 191 rank points that would knock me over and earn me the backpiece.

That went as horrifically as expected – turned up on home to get ganged up on 3 on 1, went far since everyone appeared to be having fun executing the rest of my team on home and had a fun 1 vs 1 for about 20 seconds before another guy showed up, and then another. All not my team, of course. We started 1 man down, and were 3 vs 5 by the end. Only reason I stuck around was for the last teensy bit of blue bar to finish up the backpiece.

They really need to figure out more fun PvP gamemodes. Control point capture is only fun when both teams are communicating to their teammates and playing for points as intended.)

I pop by for the Triple Trouble wurm every day or two, jump by the odd world boss for a free rare and have ventured back into WvW for an hour or so each time (slow and steady so as not to burn out again.)

I still intend to get around to leveling the engineer and the elementalist and key-farming, though Path of Exile is sucking up my time and attention right now. (ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN, we’ve missed some of that adrenaline surge.)

I’ve not finished dress-up on the sylvari necro – still some dreamthistle skins worth a ton sitting in the bank, that I guess I’m just going to burn making him look pretty – and I think I’ve finally accumulated enough charged cores and lodestones since launch to make a Foefire weapon, but haven’t got around to checking that yet.

I dunno. I’m generally content and chugging along, with plenty of stuff on the to-do list.

I don’t get all the latest Reddit bruhaha about the Super Adventure Box, after what essentially amounts to a misreading of an amateur interview conducted by fans. “We can’t talk about that now” isn’t the same as “No, you’re not getting that ever” and doesn’t warrant collective hysteria or childish tantrums either.

All it means is that they don’t have the scope or schedule or resources to get around to it yet, or haven’t worked on it to a stage where it can be announced, and/or have to follow and respect Anet’s very draconian PR and community interaction policies (which sadly, make quite a bit of sense when you see the current example of how overblown some fans can get) and somewhat misguided and out-of-touch marketing department (given the prior track record of all their ad campaigns and marketing promotions. It’s sad when third-party Kongzhong does better marketing.)

Just take it for what it is, some clear statements about what’s being worked on, and what’s not yet being worked on and put on the back burner. Sheesh.

There are other games if you’re burning out of GW2. Take a freaking break. Go play Wildstar or Warlords of Draenor if that’s what’s calling you.

Come play Path of Exile if you want to be all excited with expansion hype. (It’s free too!)

Go muck around in Archeage and have fun – up until the point you get repeatedly mauled on multiple traderuns and lose everything and say ‘screw this’ I suppose.

Give the damn devs some time to build stuff, and come back and enjoy it when you’re ready.

And if you’re not willing to leave, this is the BEST time to start hoarding up materials in preparation for the -next- craftable thing they launch that’s going to skyrocket other raw materials in price.

It’s going to happen for sure. It’s just a matter of what.

What Passes For a Short Vacation from GW2

So ugly, so dismal, so much waiting...

The problem with playing two games is that one runs out of time for blogging about either.

Not that there’s much to blog about on the GW2 front.

The novelty of Terraria Time has eaten into the decidedly un-novel achievement checklist of the Tower of Nightmares – which was thankfully set at a more sane level for casuals, so I felt more comfortable stretching that out over the first week, instead of racing desperately to finish it.

There’s nothing new I can say about visiting Toxic Offshoot dynamic events and either siege goleming, mortaring or keg bombing them into extinction, and then harvesting pristine toxic spores. If you play the game, you’ve done it, same as everyone. I can’t exactly tell an entertaining story around that.

My graphics level has also been set at permanently ugly, ever since crashing out of Kessex Hills after the zergs came visiting, so there’s nothing to show off on that front either. Not that toxic corruption is very photogenic either way. Everything is a depressing dull green reminiscent of the soulsucking paint that is said to decorate the walls of ancient hospitals or asylums.

The only thing I can grumble about is the seeming impossibility of grinding out 250 spores for a recipe from Marjory. (I got to around 178 by the time I finished the achievements.)

I find myself having little patience for visiting an endless amount of DEs (though no doubt, they may be a pretty good source of xp for those looking to level a character.)

The best way to obtain gold seems to be dungeons. Which admittedly is an interesting concept, if it’s most profitable to run group content for $$$, you’ve suddenly made participating in group content pretty attractive and also made it harder for gold sellers to bot (rumors of bots able to run CM not withstanding.)

Which is all very well for those with a static group able to run 8 dungeons in 2 hours, but I neither have that kind of group nor to be frank, do I have the mentality to be able to log in like clockwork every day at a certain hour to run with that kind of group before developing an intense loathing for that activity.

(It’s the feeling of letting people down if I’m not able to make it on a certain day that I dislike. I try to make Teq runs like clockwork on days I can make it, but for example, if I skip three days in a row like I just did recently, I know I’m not going to be missed because there’s always someone else that would be keen to get into that overflow and make up the spot.)

So it is a lot more realistic for me using the LFG tool to aim for 2-4 dungeons a day at best.

I recently expanded my comfort zone back to including Ascalonian Catacombs – path 1 and 3 at least, no one seems to like running the ‘improved’ Ghost Eater these days so I haven’t an inkling just how intensely that fight has been ‘improved.’

TTS has been running dungeon nights every week and I managed to make two of those and got my feet wet with the last two Crucible of Eternity paths I was still missing. Surprisingly not that bad, though there are some bits that do require a bit of coordination, and I still harbor an intense loathing for those lasers – I’m convinced latency is an issue as one would have a time delay between seeing when the laser is off, starting the jump and landing, and taking off again before the server says, “nope, the laser is really -here- and you’re dead.”

Bright side, apparently only two need to make it across. And I did manage -one- attempt after having stripped down to a loincloth and dying some five times or more, in a group where three other people were having even more trouble than me.

Then with one Honor of the Waves path 2 left, I just kept an eye out for any PUG running it and hopped in.

There was also a brief story mode side trek. That art still looking good.
There was also an opportunistic story mode side trek to unlock the dungeon for my warrior. That cinematic/concept art, still looking good.

Hooray, one more title that means absolutely nothing. I feel more like a Dungeon Tourist rather than a Dungeon Master, since a good half of the contributing dungeons were only visited once ever. It’s certainly not something I feel comfy displaying, but it’s nice to have that box shaded in and future gold runs now count toward the endlessly looping repeatable.

Anyhow, my dungeon earning intake is more on the modest scale of 2-5 gold a day, depending on how many I decide to run, mostly prompted by whim and feeling very carefully for the boredom/sick of it point.

Reddit was suggesting the Frostgorge Champion loop earns up to 7 gold an hour, which seems a little improbable, but I suspect they’re offloading everything and including TP profits.

Which I usually don’t, I prefer to pull direct from the source of where the virtual currency is being generated, wherever possible.

Harnessing the TP is merely transfer of money from player to player, which is good when you’re poor and others are rich, and evens out the disparity that way, but one almost always loses out something in the exchange, via taxes or flippers. I like it as a supplementary source of income, a decent alternative when doing the primary activity bores you to tears.

Anyhow, I can only stand a champion train in short doses. Half an hour before I get antsy. So it’s less a source of income for me and more a source of blues and greens for luck conversion and an amusing lottery ticket excursion to open some bags and see what pops out.

Seeing as I don’t have the patience right now to exchange time for in-game money on any large scale, yet still dearly want the new recipes to complete my collection and soothe my OCD, the last alternative is pretty clear. Joining the ranks of those helping to push the gold to gem exchange rate in the other direction, downward.

100 gems exchanges for about 4.9 gold, which is also roughly the price of a stack of pristine toxic spores on buy order. That’s a dollar twenty five per recipe, and I only need six of them to unlock crafting access.

Those spores trade at pretty phenomenal rates. While hanging out at Teq for two hours and making use of the two tabs, I’ve bought myself  five stacks. I suppose the other can wait till I run a few more dungeons.

I can only presume that this implies a thriving market with both buyers and sellers.

There must be enough impatient hardcore minded people willing to drop real money to take a few shortcuts, plus a good base of either casuals or gold-selling bots spending time to gather up the resources for them and trading it off in exchange for in-game gold.

Will I regret it later?

I doubt it.

There’s talk that the whole Tower of Nightmares / krait affair will likely last longer than these two weeks as there’s probably still a couple of Scarlet-related updates to go. It -may- still be possible to keep earning those pristine toxic spores then, at -possibly- increased rates. After all, the recipes also use the spores as ingredients. Maybe. Assuming Marjory is still selling them and hasn’t decided to move off elsewhere in the next update.

The price may very well crash in the next month, making the recipes more affordable.

But that’s… a lot of ifs.

It may be that I just end up able to enjoy them sooner, and have more peace of mind now, rather than later. Still worth the premium price tag for me in my current situation.

The uncertainty is just not something I want to deal with right now. I already have one long term earning/buying project – the Bloody Prince mini – in the works and that’s likely to take up the remaining Halloween time and then some. I might miss that, but it’s only a mini if I do.

I suppose it is akin to buying new PC games. If you want to play it -now- just as the launch craze happens and everyone is talking about it and enjoying it, you pay the premium of 60 bucks and get to enjoy it sooner. If you’re willing to wait and risk the possibility that no one will be bothered with the game six months to a year later, you can get it for half price or even cheaper if you wait longer. (Except in the case of collectible editions that may no longer be in print and force you to buy ’em at a mind-blowing price from eBay later if you suddenly develop a craving for something ridiculously rare.)

Whatever.

WvW time has been shoved aside for the past two weeks to make room.  I’m about halfway to three quarters done, so I figured there would still be a bit of time to pick it up again later.

Mostly I’ve just been having quite a bit more fun in Terraria, which I shall get to in the next upcoming post.