GW2: The Old Versus The New – Guardian

Well. -The- patch is here.

It wasn’t easy waiting for 12 hours, wondering why I didn’t take a day off from work, mind you.

With even more irony, I logged in on my warrior alt, thinking to witness the awesome glory that is supposed to be overwrought condition stacks melting world bosses… only to be late to the successful Teq map, attempt a second impromptu Teq that few showed up to (having already succeeded prior), and then stand by for a Triple Trouble Wurm that had a communication malfunction, leading to unsuccessful synced decapitation and no phase 2.

Meh. Guess I was overdue for an unlucky day.

I did manage to do some brief preliminary comparisons on my warrior while waiting for all this stuff, so I had a vague inkling of how all the stats were shifting. Somewhat. (No condition damage comparisons as yet. Was just looking at overall stats, level scaling and power builds so as to get my main characters back to a semi-status quo state.)

After which, I finally had the time to look at my guardian main more closely. (Not yet thoroughly though, just a glance so far.)

Overall Exotic Versus Ascended Stat Comparisons

There’s good news on this front, in that the change isn’t as drastic as feared. Apparently they cut back the proposed 10% difference in stats down to 5% again or something.

gw2statcompare

I’m not 100% sure my calculations are exactly accurate, so take whatever I say next with a grain of salt, or feel free to check my calculations for me.

The first set of columns were the old pre-patch stats for exotic and ascended gear.

The second set of columns was a really quick back-of-the-envelope Excel calculated theoretical stats based on the “30% increase in stats and 10% difference in exotic/ascended” phrase.

The last set are the actual new stats, as mostly visually verified by staring at the tooltips on my exotic zerker gear and ascended trinkets, plus one ascended armor and then taking the GW2’s wiki’s stats for the rest (they seem to pull direct from the API, so everything appears to match.)

In our original pre-patch circumstances, the difference between full exotic gear and full ascended gear was 8.38%, in terms of just comparing the primary stat – aka somewhat significant, but not overwhelmingly so. Certainly there is encouragement/motivation to pick up ascended trinkets at least, as that then closes the gap to 2.16% difference. Picking up an ascended weapon but not going for ascended armor, leaves  you at 1.31% difference Power stat-wise. (Not talking Armor here, that’s a whole different ballgame.)

The slightly more dreaded theoretical post-patch scenario would put the difference between full exotic and full ascended at 10.06%. (Which is a really fun number for math-impaired individuals to rally around and kick people without realizing that the pre-patch difference was also 8.38%.)

However, even if this came to pass, picking up ascended trinkets would put a character at 4.67% difference from someone in full Ascended. (Rounded up to 5%, it’s still not a terribly fun number, because I can definitely see some people getting their panties in a twist over being 5% “weaker.”)

With an ascended weapon, the difference would be 2.95% (or 3%), which is ehhh… not terribly horrific either way, but meh, I wouldn’t have been thrilled to end up feeling obliged to get ascended weapons for all of my dungeon running or WvW characters.

The good news is that the actual new stats have gotten a little more moderated back to something not so annoying.

The difference between full exotic and full ascended has actually improved just a tide at 7.72% (due to exotic getting a boost in stats to make up for removal of stats from the traitlines, I believe, unless I screwed up the math somewhere.)

Picking up ascended trinkets improves a character to 2.37% difference, which is a slightly larger gap than of old (2.16%), but yeah, doesn’t seem like something to fret over.

Ditto just lacking ascended armor, it’s 1.47% difference as compared with the 1.31% difference of old. The gap’s slightly larger than before, but not even a full percent of difference.

Absolute stat-wise, we’re talking about a 99 Power difference between full exotics and full ascended now, as compared to 84 Power before, or the 130 Power of the theoretical scenario.

I kinda like that number. 100 Power “feels” sorta significant as a pretty round number for the math-impaired, but you can easily nom a consumable food that gives you +100 Power, and be on par with say, someone in full Ascended armor that foolishly didn’t bother to eat any.

Of course, just as I finish typing this, I realize that I’ve neglected to add pre-patch base stats (I think it was 926) to this total, as compared with the post-patch base stats (now 1000), so… argh.

gw2statcompare2

One quickie version later, the Power differences have gotten even closer.

Conclusion: We haven’t hit any apocalypse stat-on-gear-wise that one can (or should) throw a hissy fit over. Eating consumables, finding runes or traits that give +7% or +10% or +15% damage would probably skew damage more than this stuff (I guess I should sit down and calculate those one day to figure the exact numbers out for myself too.)

Level 80 Stat Comparisons on my Guardian

80finder

Obviously, this is going to differ from your characters based on however you traited them. My main guardian has decidedly never been dungeon meta compliant. Deciding that I just didn’t want to use greatsword often on this character, I dipped into right-hand strength very early on to get consistent crit damage from sword/focus and scepter, and never looked back.

The old version dipped into four traitlines for a bunch of utility stuff like all the radiance blind on F1, honor for empowering might and the heal on dodge roll, a little virtues for the extra stuff on virtues and gave up going deep into the Power traitline that way, losing 200 potential Power.

You can see the new version has picked up quite a bit more Power from the stats being on his gear instead of on a traitline. Toughness increased slightly, but that’s just the base stats getting boosted up. Vitality dropped, with a corresponding drop in health, which I’m not 100% thrilled about.

Precision is… meh, more or less somewhat similar, and Ferocity got a boost. Condi damage and healing power, ehh, lost them completely, though I’m not sure if there’s too much difference between minimal benefit and none.

My crit chance dropped by 5%-ish, something that doesn’t really make me that happy, but eh, I guess that’s what right-hand strength and its bonus 15% crit is for. Crit damage dealt does increase a little due to the corresponding Ferocity increase though.

guardianspec

I’m relatively content trait-wise, having decided to go for Radiance, Honor and Virtues.

I get a pretty similar spammable F1 Virtue of Justice as before, though I think I’ve lost the vulnerability on it. I get better recharge on my signet heal and my torch skills, where previously I had none. And I still get right-hand strength (15% crit) and an extra 10% to crit on foes that are burning. (And everything -should- be burning these days.)

I keep vigorous precision, which I am super-used to for endurance regeneration so I can dodge, and selfless daring for a heal on roll (though it may be worse with 0 healing power now.) I keep empowering might, something I am again used to. I get -extra- 15% endurance regen from the new minor trait, and a protector’s impact symbol so I’m much safer when falling now, AND I get pure of voice on my shouts, which is really sweet because my previous build had a serious issue with condition removal.

I keep unscathed contender and inspired virtues, again stuff I am -used- to, and get a whole bunch of bonuses to virtues that I never had before.

The biggest thing I lost was vulnerability on blind, which on a sword/focus, spam F1 guardian, is quite a bit of vulnerability indeed. 😦

(Ah well, looks like I’ll have to use my second guardian – which I’m okay using greatswords on – to cover that.)

The tradeoff is that I got quite a shitton more condition removal and virtue stuff to play around with.

Amusingly, when I ran around Orr and did a quick comparison of before and after, I still seemed to be doing very similar damage on the whole (1700-2300) per sword hit, and my scepter hits seemed to have improved slightly (1400-1600 to 1800-1900 damage) so I guess I’m not /unhappy/ overall with this particular guardian build. (Still need to compare his burning damage and healing potential at some point though.)

Level Scaling Down

70finder

This is what it looks like at level 70.

Because I am an idiot that forgot to take accurate records of data at levels 50 and 60, (ie. forgot to open the Hero screen to look at one’s stats, in favor of hitting stuff), I’m going to have to rely on my second set of data on the warrior later to get a solid grip on this, and use my guardian data as a sort of backup confirmation (after I piece back together what stats I can through guesswork via the combat log.)

The overall picture doesn’t seem terribly pretty though.

By level 50ish, and definitely at lvl 40, and probably under that, our new scaled down stats are worse than before.

What this means for dungeons, if any, I’m not sure, but it does seem like an effort to bring lvl 80s in parity with new leveling characters (which are supposedly more aggressively scaled up. I neglected to collect any data on that front, so I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out.) Which may be a good thing community-wise. Then again, social stuff is hard to predict.

More musings later, after checking out the warrior(s).

P.S. In the interests of disclosure, I have bought the Ultimate edition today. The Anet reaction to the uproar was pleasantly mollifying. A preliminary look at stat changes in the patch didn’t seem to indicate the end of the world was coming or require a ragequit on behalf of my principles.

I had -intended- to stick to my guns and wait until more information was released, but there were a) white wings that I was going to buy anyway that were on a one-day time limit, and b) a self-inflicted gambling/I-want-it-now-it-might-be-too-late-later urge regarding a couple of scientific skins that are currently in price flux while people try to figure out if they are intended to be sold for 1 or 3 tickets at the moment.

Between some ‘fun’ ie. lottery-style entertainment with Black Lion Keys (25 keys => 10 ticket scraps) and exchanging gems to gold (789 gems => 125g) while folks are going nuts feeding gold into gems for the wings, I managed to pick up two more skins that I wanted (not to mention plenty of boosters for future alts in the two character slots and spare transmutation charges) and have gotten most of the gambling urge out of my system for around $36.25 USD or $48.74 SGD.

Which, I suppose, is okay. A little more spendthrift than I regularly practice, but something I can afford at this point in time. (Yes, Black Lion Keys directly to skins is not worth it unless you’re really lucky. You’re mostly spending $1.05-$1.10 for a booster and the /hope/ that something good will pop. Which is an amusing hope to indulge from time to time, but rarely, once in a blue moon kinda thing.

Folks who can’t control themselves though, had better not start in the first place. This one was a mea culpa, when I suddenly got it in my head that I might maybe want to chase/complete a Black Lion Skin collection for the hell of it. It’s looking like, probably not. One will suffice with what one has.)

MBTI and MMO Gaming

A perfect storm of stuff got me thinking along these lines lately:

Some folks in the blogosphere have been commenting about the difference between feelings of “fun” and feelings of “accomplishment.”

It seems one subset of people are searching for a game that gives them that accomplishment (or hard fun or whatever you want to call it) feeling, where it’s okay to “work” or put in a hefty amount of effort overcoming an obstacle so that you can feel this sense of satisfaction or triumph at the end when you achieve the final rewards. It’s okay if through parts of this process, they have to endure occasional not-fun stuff or frustration or grind as long as they reach their desired reward in the end.

“It’s character-building,” they claim.

Still others are looking for more immediate fun (or easy fun or what-have-you) where the moment-to-moment stop-and-smell-the-roses stuff is fun and enjoyable and relaxing and either easy to coast along or seeking that one true moment of perfect meditative flow. Not-fun or frustrating stuff wrecks this right in its tracks and yanks people out into gripe city.

“Whiners who need to L2P,” say the other subset. “Or learn some commitment. Pandering to these guys is what ruined MMOs. I miss the good old days.”

Let us disregard the obvious – that game designers will aim to put both types of gameplay into their game so as to suit the greatest number of people. (The first is more suited for long-term content and the latter short-term experiences, so they are relatively complementary and not always necessarily at odds with each other.)

Let us also disregard that people may not only be one subset or the other – they might enjoy both kinds of gameplay at different times.

Is there some kind of explanation or analysis that can help to explain why certain people prefer certain kinds of gaming styles?

Immediately, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) comes to mind as a helpful tool.

Of course it is over-simplification to classify all the varied people in the world into merely 16 personality types, but as these things go, the MBTI is pretty accurate and useful in being able to discern the preferences of groups of people.

Do bear in mind, no one preference is “better” than another, they’re just different. The main goal of the MBTI, as I see it, is more to allow people to understand that folks around them can have very different, but equally valid, preferences.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to cover the MBTI in detail. If you want one of those quick quizes that will approximate your MBTI, you can try out the Humanmetrics one here.

If you want to just read all the options and pick the one that best fits you, the Personality Pathways page explains what all those funky I, E, S, N, T, F, J, P letters mean.

Doing the Humanmetrics one for myself, I score this result:

INTP
Introvert(100%)  iNtuitive(50%)  iNtuitive  Thinking(62%)  Perceiving(44)%
  • You have strong preference of Introversion over Extraversion (100%)
  • You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (50%)
  • You have distinctive preference of Thinking over Feeling (62%)
  • You have moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (44%)

Typelogic explains the INTP personality in a lot more detail. I’m heartily amused by their turn of phrase, “A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure.” I’m sure regular readers of this blog are quite aware that I can sit around a lot obsessing about being seen as incompetent.

We’re “pensive, analytical folks,” “relatively easy-going and amenable to almost anything until their principles are violated”, but “prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves.”

That’s pretty much me to a T.

“So what does this have to do with gaming? “INTPs thrive on systems. Understanding, exploring, mastering, and manipulating systems can overtake the INTP’s conscious thought.”

Like I mentioned before, I play all this shit in my sidebar to grok things out. I may find one or two games that seem worthwhile to play around in for the long-term, but you bet I am dabbling with lots of other games on the side as well. I need my novelty fix or I will go crazy. I’ve learned not to expect that one single game will ever sate me entirely, so I game-hop tons, but keep one or two primary games to focus on. (It’s perhaps telling that I have to quantify and say two games, I don’t think I can ever just focus on one, period.)

INTPs are, however, not a big part of the population. Various sources peg us at about 1-3% representation, which makes us fairly un-average. We easily baffle other people who don’t share our same preferences. We’re quite easily misunderstood. The only thing we really have going for us is people stop and blink when we make one of our insightful or creative comments from time to time. 🙂

We can’t help ourselves though. We can’t help but wonder about stuff.

Like, has anyone else thought about the MBTI in relation to gaming? Or MBTI and MMOs specifically?

Google to the rescue. Sometime back in 2008, a guy made a blog post about it and made a few predictions for where you might find the various types. I think he’s a little off, and making guesses that veer toward horoscope-y, but at least he’s thought about it some.

What we really need though, is data. (Or so says the Thinking preference in me.)

In 2004, at the MUD Developers Conference, Kevin Saunders wrote a paper titled Applying Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI®) to Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) Design (I can’t seem to link the Quick View version – please google “MBTI and gaming” to get the link if you can’t FTP.)

One of the most interesting discoveries he made was that compared to the general population, we see a much stronger representation of introverts, intuitives, and/or feelers online. He goes on to surmise what kinds of game features would best appeal to this potential customer base. (This was way back in 2004 though, it’ll be interesting to see if populations have shifted any, what with WoW bringing in more mainstream game players.)

For example, introverts recover energy by spending time alone. Speaking for myself, I score extremely highly on the introversion scale, I’d be an 11 on a scale of 10 if they had one. I -need- solo time to myself. I find it very relaxing, especially if I’ve had to face people all day in real life while at work. The last thing I want to do is spend all of my game time feeling forced to socialize with others.

Add on irregular gaming hours and I become quite leery of committing myself anywhere.  Add on a preference for Perceiving, ie. unstructured activities, not being chained to a schedule, going with the flow and a Thinking preference that leaves me more interested in objective facts than what other people think and consensus-building (aka no drama, kthxbai) and I’m not your regular guild attendee. I’m quite thankful Guild Wars 2 allows multiple guilds and that a solo personal guild is quite viable if you’re patient and don’t mind spending some gold from time to time.

I’m not all people though. I suspect those with a Feeling preference would be much more inclined to seek out other people and socialize, introvert or not. And hey, Feelers are apparently the majority online, so there’s lots of potential guild members right there.

Extraverts would probably go crazy or get utterly bored of the game if they had to be by themselves for a while, so guilds and being able to party with whoever and whenever they wish is a game feature right up their alley.

I’ve no real idea how Sensing/Intuition relates to MMO gaming as yet, except maybe Sensers might need more guided step-by-step instructions and tutorials, while Intuitives may be more comfortable just feeling their way through and figuring out new concepts? That’s just a wild guess, though.

The Judging preference might be more telling. I’m guessing that Judgers really like a sense of structure to their gaming. They need to be able to make plans, to see the next goal ahead of them, and are probably the most likely to enjoy making lots of to-do lists and checking them off. They probably make good hardcore raider types. Scheduled activities, regular repetition, sense of progression, and what-have-you. Discipline is their watchword. I wonder if these are the folks that tend to seek that refined sense of accomplishment over just simple ordinary everyday fun?

If you ask me, Guild Wars 2 does a fantastic job catering to all types of preferences. There’s stuff for soloers, stuff for groups, most of it optional or do it at your own pace. You can run through the world going from heart to heart, POI to waypoint like a laundry list of things to get done to accomplish 100% world completion and get a shiny gold star, or you can wander around aimlessly to check out the hill over yonder, ignoring anything that doesn’t interest you (Bhagpuss is the epitome of this style of play, eh?)

You can play WvW or sPvP or dungeons in a hardcore fashion, with schedules, guild organization, alarm clocks, practice sessions and more, for high stakes. Or you can dabble in the same activities in a more leisurely, PUG or hotjoin manner at a lower level of intensity – just accept you’ll be steamrolled by those playing at a higher intensity level. The cost of high intensity is faster burnout, so it all balances out in the end.

Perhaps the only thing that the panacea of Guild Wars 2 hasn’t solved yet is how to help different gaming preferences find like souls.

I did some jumping with a 25% speed thief and somehow squeezed past some geometry into this little private section of Sparkfly Fen. This little illicit thrill of breaking the boundaries exploring and being in a place few ever get to gives me a helluva lot more ‘hee-hee’ laughs and satisfaction than, for example, out-playing someone and getting to do a finishing move on them.

I’m a lot less dedicated than these guys to the art or sport of walljumping, but it’s nice knowing a few like-minded souls are out there. (I learned just by watching someone a little secret climbing spot in the Lunatic Inquisition map, fer example, though it got fixed and blocked later on.)

Maybe some day, an MMO will figure out how to help players with similar preferences and playstyles find each other. Timezones, alas, do not help. (More than once, I’ve seen an NA guild or two that looks it might match me, but yeaaaah… 12 hours difference is hard to work around.)

Until then, I guess we just have to play our MMOs and enjoy them our way, while recognizing they’re populated with a whole host of people with varying preferences and priorities.