The SAD Project – Day 10 – The First Night of New WvW

newwvw

Bit more shine to the UI. Really quite nice. They put in the reward chest system that was used in PvP leagues.

So now besides upgrading your own personal WvW rank and earning personal reward track progress, the other set of reward chests rewards your participation in your world’s overall progress (or lack thereof.)

People with more WvW rank earn more pips per tick. Ancient plebians like myself only earn +1 pip until we reach rank 600.

Your world’s position in the current skirmish gives you +1, +2 or +3 pips respectively to add onto that. So there’s more of a reason to fight for the score now.

Tonight’s SEA time was expectedly disorganized. It will take at least a week, probably more, methinks, before Teamspeak use and organized zerg fighting becomes fun enough for me to enjoy.

I spent most of my WvW time amusing myself by seeing if I could successfully run away from “yep, we’ve lost, there’s 5 people remaining to 25+ surging around them” scenarios (if I waypoint alive, I win… 50% success wasn’t bad!), and mostly soloing or duoing or trioing sentries and camps back and forth with the 1-3 chaps who had the same idea.

It kept the +195 personal WvW rank tick healthy, and it kept me happy and not raging at lost battles, so I’d call that a success too.

Now and then I’d jump in to the “main blob” for a fight or two, with periods of limited success on groups that were temporarily smaller in number (got split up from the main zerg or whatever) but then our disheveled blob would get run over by Dragonbrand – which is to be expected, they’re especially numerous in this timezone and no doubt they actually had an organized guild driving them.

I had a bit more fun doing independent roaming.

I had a fun and funny encounter with a Dragonbrand elementalist who had zipped off from a battle they actually lost at Anzalias, and he/she had cleverly sped up north to the supply camp and Mendons.

Because I was busy roleplaying a braindead dirty PvEr who would stalk and chase one guy to the death, instead of obediently sticking with the commander (sorry, commanders not on TS = cannot zerg fight = I ain’t got no loyalty for you, deal with it), I decided it would be more amusing to try and catch up with the ele.

I whirlwinded and rushed and balanced stance swiftness, trying to keep him/her in combat so they couldn’t waypoint. They on the other hand had plenty of swiftness, and kept dropping static fields that would, alas, stun me.

One other very bored ally had joined me in the chase. Together, we ran the ele all the way past Mendons, towards our spawn, where the ele jumped off a cliff….

… and hit the ground at 3% health remaining and sped off.

Both of us had no choice but to stare after that damn ele’s cloud of dust – ain’t no way we were surviving that leap, we didn’t think.

The other guy gave up, I trundled my way back to our garrison absent-mindedly, when I noticed the little orange dot -hadn’t- waypointed, and was dancing around somewhere between our spawn and garri. Huh. Well, ok… since I was going that way anyway…

I wound up cutting off the ele again. It was like, HAI, THIS IS YOUR CRAZY FIRE CHARR WITH THE PREDATOR RIFLE AND NOTHING BETTER TO DO COMING TO LASER PEW PEW YOU AGAIN.

Ele took off running. Again. Led me on a chase that I suspected I was going to lose, but look, I’m bored, I will chase you for fun, a willing cat in your Tom and Jerry game.

Lost me near Veloka and the earth elementals. I just didn’t feel like running into a bunch of earth elementals and then risking them turning around then.

Just as I waypointed to Overlook, what do you know, that orange dot -still- hadn’t waypointed and was busy making a loop around Ogrewatch.

“You know, self,” I thinks, “Methinks they think they lost me. And are going to try and solo Pangloss now.”

(Either that, or they were a newbie that was entirely lost and didn’t realize they could waypoint. Also possible. Or both.)

So I hop down from Overlook, jump onto the convenient building roof, and down, and zip past Ogrewatch Post to check on Pangloss Mine.

dragele

Yep, found them tangled up with some NPCs. No, I have no shame.

Did salute their corpse later though, for all the fun I had. I hope they had fun too. It was certainly more amusing than bad zerg rushing and repeatedly dying and feeding warscore to the enemy.

stonemiststand

One of the limited success zerg engagements where I followed the commander into Stonemist, against my better judgment, having seen and knowing very well that the Dragonbrand zerg was rushing up and into Stonemist from the southeast entrance (as the entire blob of orange dots passed the sentry).

As expected, our zerg barely got to touch the keep lord for 5 seconds, before the defending zerg was sweeping in. This particular commander had slightly better tactical battle sense than the previous one, and shooed the zerg (I use that word deliberately, it’s like herding headless chickens at the moment) up the stairs.

Taking advantage of the chokepoint and the overenthusiastic extending of the drunk-on-power opposing zerg, the frontline managed to get shot to pieces by a bunch of stranded cornered skirmishers who weren’t going to kindly group up for AoEs and knew they were going to die once the other zerg managed to ball up and force their way in, but by hell, let’s see how many we can take down first.

We actually broke the first charge. This is notable because it was so unexpected, given prior demonstrated performances. Chokepoints are magical things. It took the other zerg a bit of regrouping time and the second charge before it was the end.

I tried to do my sneaky whirlwind / rush past the oncoming horde and sneak down the -other- set of stairs, but alas, undisciplined zergs have stragglers and two stragglers easily made mincemeat out of me after having burned all my cooldowns getting out of the mess. Welp, I tried.

If there’s one thing I miss about not playing in NA timezones, it’s the lack of inspiring commanders that make zerg fighting fun, win or lose.

Still, there are ways to have a fun time and high morale regardless of the score – if I lack commanders that can do it for me, then welp, I will make my own fun.

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The SAD Project – Day 7 – All Aboard the WvW Bandwagon

This Sunday, I dug my secondary guardian – the mothballed one intended for WvW – out of cold storage and forced myself to clean up his inventory.

oldinventory

An inventory that looked like this, and a task I was forever avoiding.

From left to right, ignoring the shared inventory slots:

Too many shapechanging tonics I’ll never use; a bunch of useless food; some giant pearls from the time the WvW battlegrounds still had quaggans in it that I’ll never throw away; a bunch of salvage items worth money that I was choosing to hoard in the unsalvaged form; old as fuck Queen’s Gauntlet tickets; a collection of three sets of exotic armors (soldiers, clerics and zealot stats) all of them now technically quite obsolete in this day and age of ascended and HoT stats; three minis from the Hall of Monuments that I never got around to throwing away when account bound minis became a thing; a set of exotic clerics trinkets that never really served a purpose beyond making me exceedingly tanky in WvW while hitting like a wet noodle; a soulbound exotic spinal blades backpack that I never converted to ascended because 15 deldrimor/elonian/silk whatsits are expensive while cheerfully and obliviously running around with a yellow rare backpack; 5 medical kit items from some NPC the intended purpose of which remains an obscure mystery to me; 75 really oldschool fireworks which I -think- a WvW commander got us to fire off once upon a time; a bunch of unopened PvP champion box loot from when I was using this guardian to PvP a little; a mordrem bodyparts extractor that I was highly unlikely to use in the Silverwastes again since the time of zerg killing underground bosses is over and bodypart collection is a pain anyway; the world’s largest collection of leftover Frostbitten gathering tools that I don’t really use while opening boxes looking for sickles; more oddball food; a now obsolete +5 simple infusion; two exotic weapons of highly questionable stat choice; 39 kite fortunes from when the Zephyrites still existed as a settlement not a refugee camp and had a festival;  and the ever ubiquitious tomes of knowledge, empyreal fragments and dragonite ore that just find their way onto every character.

Long story short, I salvaged nearly everything.

(And threw away useless unsalvageable things.)

slightlycleanedinventory

Choosing to salvage the assorted sets of exotic armor is a milestone for me.

I think it signifies the acceptance that I have now moved my internal baseline to ascended stats only.

Also, because I was intending to use the immensely useful -functionality- of an armor set that you can only get via PvE raiding in an entirely different game mode where stat swapping functionality is a lot more helpful. Thank you, Anet designer logic. (I gotta get that sarcastic snipe in -somewhere-.)

statswapping

The new frontline guardian meta is Celestial, apparently. So it was a matter of stealing the legendary armor set back from the revenant alt I wasn’t going to use any time soon, and doing the above.

If frontline guardian didn’t work out as a role choice, I was going to give roaming PvPesque burst guardian a shot, and for that Marauder is apparently desired. STAT SWAP AHOY.

Finding the ascended trinkets was slightly more taxing.

I had a celestial ring that dropped off fractals once upon a time that I had hoarded. While it was possible to buy more celestial ring/accessories from the typical route – pristine fractal relics and guild commendations – I decided I was collecting too many oddball drops from raiding and used GW2efficiency to search across my characters and bank for any suitable unused trinkets.

I found myself lacking an amulet. Again, while there were multiple options to pick from, my eventual decision was to go with a Blood Ruby Pendant from the first Living Story 3 map Bloodstone Fen. Why? STAT-SWAPPING it is possible, at the cost of 100 unbound magic for a capacitator.

That functionality is too invaluable to be left only to legendary tier armor, dammit. I think they found a nice compromise with paying a cost to do so for ascended tier stuff, while purple legendary things remain free to swap at any time.

Same deal with Ascended weapons. I decided I wanted a greatsword over a hammer, because hammer animations are a little slow for me AND because I had Saladborg sitting around unused. (Ahem, I mean the reforged Caladbolg Orchida ascended greatsword that can morph itself into dagger, scepter, sword or shield as well. Morphing at the cost of 1000 unbound magic, which allows for a change of stats then.)

The one thing I -didn’t- want, is the giant “hi-target-me-now-I’m-a-dirty-PvEr-who-has-stat-swap-functionality-you-don’t-have-because-Anet-is-a-poopoohead” legendary armor wing animation appearing every time you go into combat.

winganimation

You know, the one that looks like this, that would highlight even an asura that is intending to be sneaky.

I actually considered, very deeply, footing out 700 gems (aka 10 dollar, give or take 100 gems) for an outfit to cover up the whole set of armor.

An outfit, to me, makes logical sense in WvW when you’re trying to be somewhat generic and lost in a crowd, while still looking nice.

Then I thought, you know, it’s still against my philosophy to pay real money for anything in the GW2 gemstore until that functional inequality between raiders and non-raiders somehow goes away.

(Since there are no plans whatsoever for another legendary armor set in another game mode, I am revising my qualified statement even further down the slippery slope and settling for having alternative sets of ascended tier armor that -can- stat swap somehow, even if in a limited fashion, and for a cost, similar to Caladbolg or Blood Ruby trinkets.)

So I tried something different, spending, in my usual miserly fashion, ONE transmutation charge to swap the chest armor cosmetically to another skin.

transmutearmor

As luck would have it, I guessed correctly, the giant wing animation is indeed tied to the chestplate for legendary heavy armor, and punching the shout “Retreat!” every so often no longer painted a ginormous target over my head.

Several hours of inventory shuffle later, the renewed WvW guardian was ready for me to put through its paces.

I jumped into WvW, only to find that Tarnished Coast is… in political speak.. in a “resting and recovery phase” after an apparently tumultous high drama period of transferring guilds, getting shit on by stacked T1 servers, more transferring guilds, and god knows what else.

Oh, there were people around in WvW. There was siege all over. There was generally a tag every map. but all names I didn’t recognize. (Understandable, I have been away from WvW a long long long time. A fellow PvE raider was amazed I only had 445 rank and was still a bronze WvWer. Welp, I WvWed when it wasn’t fashionable and was already on the downswing when those rank rewards came out.)

I squadjoined a random commander and my heart immediately sank. No Teamspeak usage. He was leading a rabble of a militia, trying to command them in text, because the TC militia apparently ain’t accustomed to being voice commanded anymore. Our first encounter with another zerg was also the last, because the poor guy ran in and no one followed, choosing to scatter instead. Textbook example of low morale peasantry. My celestial guardian, built to support a nonexistent frontline (you can’t have a frontline with no backline either) got pulled down and torn apart.

It was so bad, I actually logged off and started doing research on WvW mos millenium rankings. Tarnished Coast has apparently dropped to T3 and the state of organization kinda reflects that.

For the first time in 3+ years, post-Isle of Janthir exodus, I started seriously considering a server transfer.

But to where?

Bandwagoning Blackgate is all very for potential future skirmish rewards. In theory, it is so stacked, surely there must be population during Oceanic/SEA times. SEA folks are by and large pragmatic bastards who want to win by any means necessary, so logically speaking, I’m sure most of the self-styled hardcore population have wound up there eventualy.

Yak’s Bend is Bhagpuss’ server, and while it once had a reputation for being akin to TC and far more obsessive about siege, I’d vaguely heard it had an influx of fight guilds that had good and bad effects. Good, in that the militia learned more about zerg fighting, and bad in that fight guilds usually bring their share of political high drama as they sweep in and out of servers, with loyalty only to themselves. Also, I’ve never heard much about Yak’s Bend in the Oceanic/SEA timezones, so it is conceivable I might transfer and get zero satisfactory gameplay during my normal game times.

Besides, the above two servers are Full to the brim. Not only would I have to demeaningly pay ArenaNet more than twenty dollars when I don’t really want to pay them a cent, I would have to sit and watch for available transfer times like a hawk.

Jade Quarry was severely tempting. I’m really out of touch with all things WvW, but the rumor mill has it that it has a severely heavy Asian timezone presence. Granted, following zerg fights in half-Mandarin is not exactly my first preference. And it’s really hard to tell how healthy or enjoyable a server is going to be until you’re actually in it and experiencing it though.

Ultimately, the voice of reason inside me spoke up to say, “Wait and see.”

My first check-in with TC WvW was during the EU timezone on a weekend, so I think I can quite confidently say that it desperately needs some commanders to fuse together the militia in that timezone.

My next check-in was during the NA timezone. My Sunday mornings, their Saturday nights. What better time to get a feel for the pulse of Tarnished Coast? If weekend NA timezone was dead, it would be confirmation to run like hell away from the smoldering corpse.

charrunisbestrun

I’m pleased to say that the NA timezone made me hesitate and reconsider the server transfer all over again.

The militia was a bit all over the map when I first logged in to check it out, but at the start of the next Skirmish changeover, a team chat announcement went out that such-and-such commander was beginning his WvW raid and to squadjoin up.

Joining the squad brought up an automatic message to log into a Teamspeak, and getting into Teamspeak and asking to be verified got me a temporary verification as a non-world member to get into the proper channel.

The only problem, of course, is that this was a Gate of Madness commander. (TC got glommed together with Kaineng and Gate of Madness, apparently.)

My already shaky morale made me reconsider taking the WvW guardian, and I brought the hastily refurbished power PS warrior instead. There was surprisingly very little to change, given that zerker ascended was the recommended stats (with just some trait and skill changes to make yourself a little more tanky.)

I was also determined to have some fun abusing the hell out of my new Predator rifle.

See, my theory goes, the smaller the world population is, the less blobby fights are, the more skirmisher damage PvP-ish builds become important. Also, rifles let you reach out and touch at least a single person when you can’t run into a blob and melee.

WvW commanders would prefer a melee frontline that runs in and damages stuff in an AoE fashion, so I’d bring my greatsword along. (Movement skills are good.) But then to please myself and have me consider WvWing again, I want to kill stuff and do damage.

If I can’t do it as an AoE bomb group, then I’ll settle for peeling the enemy zerg one at a time if possible. The correct downed person(s) at a time can sometimes make or break a fight, and generate a morale surge in your own group to see downed people after a pass, after all.

I found out, I am a simple charr at heart. I just want to shoot shit and see 4 digit numbers appear, preferably the rare 5 digit monstrosity (even if it’s just hundred blading a keep lord.)

The Gate of Madness commander took us on a decent enough run of towers and keeps (man, I need to get back into WvW if only to refill my karma hoard.)

We had our share of running into a small group and winning (I don’t know how to call 20 people a zerg. A zerg to me is 40-50 strong. Hoorah T1-T2.) Whirlwind and arc dividing is pretty satisfactory when things go well. We had our share of overextending into a much larger group and wiping (ugh, but meh, that’s the only way commanders will gain battle experience.)

As the night went on, one or two drunk people in the channel started to make the whole place more ear-searingly annoying, and I decided that the end of the 2h skirmish would be a good time to cut and run, so I did.

Part of the reason for cutting and running is that an old well known TC commander had tagged up and started running his own squad. Stay or leave decisions really depend on analyzing the -TC- core, and how healthy the TC teamspeak was, not checking out Gate of Madness.

Good ol’ Jadon is well loved by the TC militia for a number of reasons: his unfailing politeness and civility, his positivity, his tactical sense and his knack for attracting a decent core of WvW combatants that can support a militia zerg and help it win battles, or at least have a good ol’ time holding out a losing battle with chokepoints and resistance, not an all out rout.

Much like Twitch streaming, a charismatic WvW commander knows how to have a good time with his following, who are looking for entertainment.

If Jadon can’t pull out the TC militia, then TC is doomed.

Well, it’s not. Not today, anyhow.

The zerg ran about 40-50 strong, there were a number of entertaining fights where I got to test and utilize the ranged part of the hybridized build because meleeing into the fray in zerker stats would be certain death, there were satisfactory moments of greatswording people in the face (especially those trying to rez another – sorry, buddy, you may be in Nomad’s for all I know, but crouching stationary in front of a zerker hundred blades is still gonna hurt somewhat.)

Yeah, NA WvW isn’t too bad, and presumably more PvE people will be drawn back like flies to honey once the new patch drops.

It makes me reconsider, because let’s face it, I am not a hardcore WvWer. If I go to T1, it’s going to be zerg vs zerg nonstop, with presumably skillful roamers and havoc groups in the 5-10s making life miserable for solo people wandering around. The bonus would be having a commander zerg to join in most hours of the day – assuming they aren’t all elitist closed guild groups.

But isn’t all I really need a nice scheduled time every week – likely on a Saturday or Sunday morning – to fit into an NA timezone squad and trundle around for an hour or two? More than two days would be pushing it, given that I already PvE raid on two days. WvWing for all hours of every day is for people with far more free time than I.

If we’re looking for something sustainable in the long term, -that- sounds sustainable. Not expecting commanders to be available at all hours (hello, burnout), not expecting to stay online for 4-6 hours daily trying to hold keeps for an eternity.

The last part of the equation is the Oceanic/SEA timezone.

I’m really not sure what I want out of this timezone. On one hand, I’d like to be in a server populated enough to have at least -one tag- running across the whole of the four maps in the Oceanic/SEA timezone, organized enough to do zerg on zerg fights.

At the moment, my checking out suggests that we have a lot of population (maybe inherited from Kaineng too) and very little organization. Everybody still actively WvWing in this timezone appears to have shifted over to more roaming solo skirmisher builds.

This, of course, is hilarious for any commander trying to gather people and run them like a zerg. Either they die horribly and/or you see all the soloists break apart like archer skirmishers in Total War and either pick apart the opposing army to death due to eventually outnumbering them, or rout horribly when an organized zerg or higher number skirmishing force runs into them.

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for having a window of opportunity for a more loose scattered fighting style. One could test out roaming/PvPesque builds, for example. There’s opportunity for a scrappy 3-5 people to wander around, take camps, sneak attack towers. (Try -that- on a T1 server.)

I would rather miss the ability to just zone into the Desert Borderlands of the day (aka no one in their right minds likes this place) to get some WvW dailies done and solo take camps and shrines without interference.

Of course, the ability to do so is dependent on the other servers -not- having any semblance of an organized force in that timezone. If there is, then the only way to get anything done is to counter with another organized force… which leads me back to thinking about Jade Quarry again.

Except it might be a unicorn I’m chasing and maybe there’s no big organized force in JQ or anywhere else other than BG in the timezones I’m after.

All us adult Asians have this thing called work (and going home late, because a 42 hour work week is perceived as the baseline, aka underachieving) tiring us out. Plus overwhelming pragmatism leads us to more profitable activities in GW2 (aka -not- WvWing) or far more competitive games like LoL or Overwatch or Dota 2 if seeking competition, after all.

Weekday organized WvW, let alone one open to militia tagging along, may simply be unsustainable in this timezone.

Dunno. I suppose “wait and see” is the option I’m going to go with for now.

Maybe the Skirmish rewards will suck and WvW will empty out again.

Maybe the rewards will be so overwhelming that the PvE hordes will come back in droves and change the active population, while the guild groups hop from server to server farming bags.

Hard to tell. Best not to be hasty, I guess. Best of all, I need spend no money whatsoever. The track record can still hold, until the expansion launches.

GW2: On Thieves and the Edge of the Mists

Today's EOTM lesson is on supply!

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed yet, but I have a tendency to go quiet when I’m avidly playing WvW.

One simply runs out of new topics to talk about, or runs into the fear of revealing too much about one’s own server’s habits and patterns – that can be then capitalized on by another server.

And there’s a limited amount of general things to say about mass battles and player versus player that hasn’t already been covered -everywhere-, including in real life.

Do a blow by blow battle report?

Today, we captured X’s garrison. The other day in some other timezone, they captured ours. Swap in bay/hills/towers, etc. for garrison. Today, we wiped their zerg. Two hours later, they wiped us. The next clash, we wiped them back.

It’s a yawnfest to write, let alone read.

It’s only -not- a yawnfest when you’re actually there in the thick of things, reacting to the immediacy of it and figuring out the best place to place yourself and your damage.

Which is what keeps players coming back, I suppose.

Talking about larger scale strategy and map politics brings us dangerously close to revealing server thinking, so it’s hard to know what to cover, and to be frank, each commander and player can have a different read on the situation (some more accurate than others) and you can never control all the players on a map anyway, so it’s always “sounds great in theory, may go all Murphy’s Law in practice.”

The basics, of course, is not to push on two servers at once to make ’em both mad and coming after you.

Common mistake, fer instance, often performed by less strategic commanders in the Borderlands is to try to push the home server, fail miserably, and then pick the easier sidelong option instead, moving east or west. This makes the other invading server mad, and before you know it, there’s a rollicking fight down in the south ruins while the home server looks on, cackles and gets their yaks in.

The ideal is to have both invading servers push up into the home server and 2 vs 1 them into submission, or failing which, at least hold on to the third that is yours.

Unless, of course, the intention is to -not- play as expected and have the fight in the other server’s territory because that server is more of a longer term threat, or because some havoc group has made life so difficult that the commander gets fed up and leads the zerg into a punishment strike in the hope that the other team’s commander gets the message. (Sometimes they do, and sometimes, they’re as thick as a brick or just looking for a fight.)

On and on, play and counter-play, etc.

Whatever, I’m not a commander, so I’m not privy to everything that goes on behind-the-scenes: scouting information, intra-map communication, etc. But if you’re in the right tier, there’s a lot of it. And it elevates WvW to something a little more heady than a PvD karma train.

Speaking of PvD karma trains, the self-set goal of completing ALL of the shiny temporary achievements effectively shoved me into the Edge of the Mists, since there are two EOTM specific achievements that can only be gotten there.

My innate distaste of its design still stands.

Edge of the Mists is very asymmetric, I feel. One side builds up an unstoppable zerg, and everyone else logs out and into another EOTM overflow, hoping to find a friendly zerg on their side. Or one side has lots of roamers, a coordinated guild group or gank squads, and the same thing happens. Or two zergs form self-interested karma trains, doing its best to avoid each other while the last side tends to be nonexistent.

I enjoy WvW for its strategic PPT aspects and coordinated zerg fighting, and both are best found on the “real” WvW maps, rather than a map in which there’s even LESS incentive to defend anything.

Edge of the Mists shoves me into mixing with players that are generally of lower tiers, and generally speaking, lower tiers have a MUCH looser grasp on WvW tactics because they are not accustomed to strongly defended objectives where a coordinated map blob could waypoint in and run you over if you take several tens of seconds too long.

This means fights become uninteresting zerg vs zerg fights of the long range variety, and the few souls who -try- to coordinate a push end up demonstrating the futility of their strategy by running alone into the enemy zerg because no one else has enough confidence and trust in each other to do the same.

Until you run into a coordinated guild group vacationing in the Edge of the Mists, and then they get to play wrecking ball with the pugs, laughing all the way to the bank.

However, I have learned to tolerate it.

I’ve perhaps even come to terms with it, adapting around it and recognizing that it may have a part to play, after all.

It was during one of those everpresent offensive karma trains, trundling around doing its best to avoid the enemy zerg and capturing objective after objective (thank you, moar reactors and special objectives plz!) that this revelation came to me.

Edge of the Mists is EZ Introductory Mode.

That is its function.

Hey, WvWers, look, you’re PvEing! These mobs even have a little mechanic to learn from time to time. (eg. Troll regenerates with defiant stance – can be dazed and preventing from firing the skill with good timing, or if you’re alone, controlling your dps. Zergs can never do so, of course, so I amuse myself trying to daze appropriately. Or separate the earth elementals if you’re invading Overgrowth’s keep to damage them effectively, etc.)

Hey, PvErs, look, you’re WvWing! You run into enemy red name players from time to time, and they will probably kill you! But death is okay! You can die a few times and go back to karma training and earning phat lootz, and it’s still a happy experience! The zerg will keep you safe! (Most of the time.) But see, PvP isn’t so bad, it’s not personal, other people die too.

You might even learn a few things that are relevant to WvW, such as catapults not doing as much damage to doors, commanders having a /supplyinfo command that you don’t have, and not to drop extra siege if the commander didn’t ask for it!

Rarely, you might even bump into the odd commander or person who loves to drop siege and make a nice defence of the place, and you might even learn about the effectiveness of arrow carts and such that way. (We will not cover trebs or mortars. That is usually beyond basic EOTM strategy. But catapults may occasionally make a showing against a wall, or some smartass might be doing something to a bridge.)

Some guy learns about the non-effectiveness of catapults, while I marvel at how barely anyone looks away from the gate.

Some guy learns about the non-effectiveness of catapults, while I marvel at how barely anyone looks away from the gate. (One has gotten rear ended by a blob way too many times to learn that lesson. Alert thieves are great survivors.)

For the experts, Edge of the Mists is a vacation spot. A place to unwind after the pressures of “serious business” WvW.

I have, unfortunately, not really gotten many opportunities to glom onto a coordinated guild group doing silly stuff in EOTM, thanks to a lack of mic and WvW network connections to get a party invite into the right overflows, but I listen in from time to time, and damn, do they sound like they are having fun. Loot showering them from all sides. Sudden laughing panic as their map unfamiliarity sometimes gets them into highly awkward positions facing the prospect of sudden drops and sharp stops. Even more loot. The occasional admission that this “PvE thing” might have something going for it from time to time.

For the novices who encounter the experts, the fun is perhaps more one-sided, but again there is an important purpose. Nothing opens up one’s eyes than losing, and losing badly.

One is suddenly made aware of more possibilities. That someone is out there accomplishing stuff at a level that you are currently not at.

Not everybody will immediately do a 180 because of this. But for the rare soul with the will and desire to do so, it may engender a drive to improve oneself and seek out those avenues by which they can do so.

For the average Joes, of which I consider myself one, Edge of the Mists has a dual purpose. It is a slightly more sophisticated champion farm and a training ground.

Want to turn your brain off? Don’t feel like improving today? Want to mingle with the unwashed lower tier masses and get some of that karma train action that is nigh impossible to get in Tier 1 (and maybe Tier 2?) Follow the blue dorito, choo choo along autoattacking with 1 from range, watch the xp/karma/badges/wxp fly in.

You see, I have learned that I can follow -any- quality of commander on a thief without feeling sour or angry at his or her lack of tactical sense.

I used to play a guardian. First in, and committed till death or victory. You try running away on a non-roaming zerg spec guardian. It doesn’t work. You keep the group strong, you are dependent on the group staying strong and not letting you down.

You are also dependent on the commander not being a derp and doing stupid stuff like running head-on into too much enemy fire without whittling down the enemy first or catching them off-guard or placing siege or otherwise giving you a chance of victory (because your job is stick with him like glue and step where he steps. If your driver is good, he takes you to the correct places. If he’s bad, well…)

Every time the group wipes, I get more and more bitter.

The neverending learning process of playing a thief has been a big wake up call.

When you play a (relative) squishy in WvW, you have dual responsibilities of staying (relatively) close to the commander to aim damage his way AND not dying.

(As a thief, one can also take this up another level by search and destroying important-to-the-zerg enemy squishies. I’m still working on this part, wrapping my head around staying at range, surviving via positioning, and contributing blasts and damage has been challenging enough.)

As a thief, the major difference that I feel is that all my deaths are MY fault.

-I- screwed up and made a mistake. I stepped where I shouldn’t have. I got caught by an immobilize and failed to react to it appropriately in time. I stood in the path of an angry melee train and failed to see it coming or react fast enough. I stuck around way too long and got greedy when I should have booked it instead.

Thieves are excellent at booking it.

If half the zerg has disintegrated, the commander has gone down and there’s three or four enemy players for every player still left standing, it’s time to GTFO.

The enemy zerg goes after the most obvious most easy targets fleeing for the horizon, whereas the thief that just shadow refuged is not the first thing on the angry mob’s mind. Then it’s time to stroll off in a nonobvious direction, preferably not in front of all those melee cleaves. (Which is sometimes easier said than done if they’re facing your exit, or turned your way for whatever reason, but at least you had the best chance of escape being unseen and all that.)

Every time I die (and I do die now and then because I am still a horrible thief-in-training), it’s been an opportunity to check back on the combat log, see precisely what the hell got me, and analyze what I shouldn’t have done and what I -might- have done to accomplish my goal next time.

I freely confess that I am a terribad thief. Killing people is not the first thing on my mind. Usually GTFOing is. My survival instinct is just ridiculous or something. Tank nature too stronk. It took a few deaths to realize that I was squishy now, and then I’ve overcompensated ever since.

I’m still learning the appropriate combo chains that good thieves seem to pull off effortlessly and score an instant down with them. Part of it is probably latency, but part of it, I suspect, is simple muscle memory and twitch that I’ve not internalized yet. I can play my guardian main blindfolded (2 to blind, F1 blind/might/vuln, autoattack or 3 to hit & reflect, 4 if I need a blind again or autoattack, keep 5 and F3 as standby emergency blocks, etc.)

I can’t yet do the same with a thief.

To me, acceptance and recognition of the fact that one is bad is the first step towards improvement. One is bad when one cannot pull off what other players have demonstrably been able to do. It’s useless to put blinders on and think, “Oh, I’m still okay. Nothing’s wrong.”

Step one: Get a good build.

When you’re inexperienced with the class, this usually means following what the more experienced have done first, and adapting to suit your purposes later.

Finding good thief builds have been rather perplexing sometimes, since everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion that theirs is the best or most functional. It took a while of comparing similarities and putting aside interesting stuff to try later (tried condi thief, couldn’t quite get one’s head around it. Sword builds seemed interesting, but since killing people 1 on 1 or 1 vs X wasn’t my first priority, I put that aside to learn later too.)

I settled for the dirt standard dagger/pistol thief variant with a mix of PVT and zerker to do a trial run on, plus shortbow for zerging because I -like- running with and around zergs, dammit.

Step two: Learn how to use it.

This at first constituted of just taking it out for spins and trying to get familiar with all the skills, but I was quite aware that I wasn’t really getting the hang of the initiative points system the thief uses.

It finally hit me that I needed more outside help when I overheard someone also mention on voice that they couldn’t get the hang of their thief and triple leaping over blinding powder for stealth.

This bowled me over. Three times?! Are you serious? I thought I was already doing it right by performing the combo once to go into stealth and then position for backstab.

I didn’t even know if I had the latency to do it three times.

I had to log in and find out.

(Turns out I can, if I get lucky/fast enough. Albeit, this was done -without- the complication of having red names around throwing me into a tizzy. But I resolved from now on to make dual leaps through blinding powder whenever possible to lock it into muscle memory.)

Next on the agenda is to find time to watch thief videos on Youtube. Yishis is apparently recommended as a good one. (I skimmed one of his videos for three minutes and the speed of his thief and analysis was already blowing my mind.)

Step three: PRACTICE till your fingers bleed.

It’s made the WvW league more interesting for me again, I can tell you.

I’m a noob and learning all over again. (This bodes well when I decide to bring an elementalist or mesmer into play some day. Changing classes appears to keep the game very fresh.)

I think I’m getting the hang of staying alive. Mostly.

I’ve started to branch away from just shortbow’ing all the things and switch to melee mode to jump on things other than yaks. (Though I suspect the elementalists I’ve picked just find me a nuisance rather than a threat. Still, it’s probably -slightly- distracting.)

Still working on picking the right opportunities and the right targets – having issues with keeping track of where they go sometimes (and still know where both melee trains are) and deciding if I would be better served blasting fields or hounding a target of opportunity.

And in case you thought I’d forgotten: here’s where Edge of the Mists comes in handy from time to time.

It’s easier to run into less experienced players and less experienced zergs to practice being horrible on, rather than always getting destroyed or forced to run away from some -very- practiced T1 roamers in comms with each other and ready to wolfpack all over you.

I have a hunch that the same probably applies to commanding too.

Edge of the Mists can serve as an introductory mode for newbie commanders. The karma train pretty much drives itself, except they’ll appreciate siege drops and a dorito that picks the next target for them.

If things go wrong, no one’s going to get all huffy about PPT or how some other commander could have done it better.

Yeah, you probably won’t be able to practice coordinated zerg fighting with an EOTM militia, but that’s the only downside.

(You could, however, bring your new-to-coordinated-zerg-fighting GUILD into EOTM and probably get some great morale boosts and practice on easy targets that way.)

Still, I think I’m going to be relieved when I finally get all those damn reactors done.