Sunday, September 6, 2015

Taking Turret 3 : GW2

Lately, I've been doing the Tequatl event most days. I'd almost forgotten about it until the kerfuffle over the change to critical damage brought the once-notorious event back into the news. When that blew up I went to see what the fuss was about and ended up adding Teq back into my "must do" World Boss list. He gives good loot and the event is entertaining, especially when you get a disorganized map and everything goes to the wire.

When it was added, almost exactly two years ago, Evolved Tequatl became the first permanent, open-world event in GW2 to require major organization. In the days before Megaservers some servers couldn't beat it and most couldn't guarantee a win. The event was tweaked downwards in difficulty numerous times and even then, for a long while, it took half an hour or more to set up. It was wise to get there early.

It also led directly to the birth of those irritating cross-server guilds that use out-of-game voice chat and dubious map-stacking techniques to gain advantage. For a while they turned the event into a toy for a self-appointed elite. It was a dark time.

The coming of megaservers largely put a stop to all that, helped by the gradual learning process that eventually led to Teq acquiring "farm" status. Apart from the brief crit blip that's where he remains.

Unevolved Teq. I still prefer that fight even if no-one ever used a turret back then.

One of the more interesting aspects of the event is the wide range of player-created roles it has spawned. I can't remember any event in an MMO with quite so many named locations that require dedicated teams. I still have only a vague idea where each of them is. All of those were decided upon and named by the playing community.

As well as the key defensive locations and the big offensive zerg, usually led by a tagged-up Commander, which stacks at Tequatl's feet on the spot where attacks strike the dragon twice for double damage, there are the Turrets. There are six of these hylek-constructed devices, ranged in two sets of three.

Running a turret is a very specific task that daunts newcomers. I was wary of it for a long time, partly because of the endless yelling from the zerg that seemed to suggest most turret operators were getting it wrong most of the time.

Possibly because of this there are often calls for people to volunteer to operate a Turret. I eventually decided I couldn't do any worse than all these poor saps who were being shouted at so I thought I'd give it a go.

I think this is South Hills. I could be mistaken.

It was a little nerve-wracking at first but I took to it almost immediately. It was only after a few runs, when I'd begun to feel I was on top of my brief,  that I realized why it was all starting to feel so familiar. It's because being on a Turret at Teq is eerily reminiscent of playing a cleric in Everquest.

That's a very good thing. I played a cleric in EQ for several years and it's probably either my favorite or second favorite MMO role of all time (the other contender being the Disciple in Vanguard). Anything that feels like playing a Sit&Heal Cleric is fine by me.

Anet stirred things up recently, not only by referring to the upcoming raids as requiring specific, previously forbidden, roles such as "Tank" but by daring to mention the dreaded "T" word - Trinity. They claim, to the aggravation of many but with some justification, that the game has always had a Trinity - just not the Trinity.

For those who came to MMOs via WoW or its descendants, The Trinity means Tank, Healer, DPS. GW2 has never had that line-up. For those of us with longer memories, however, the Holy Trinity in Everquest was originally Healer, Tank, Crowd Control.

In some ways the GW2 version is a call-back to those early days. The three legs of this particular stool are Damage, Control and Support. Back in the Norrathian day, everyone was responsible for DPS, which was never deemed a separate role unless you were a rogue (and if you were...poor you). In Tyria everyone is responsible for their own healing. It's the Healer role that's vanished, rolled up into the general buffing brief "Support".

I'll take any turret but #3 is the best.

I'd love to play a true, dedicated healer in GW2 but it's just not going to happen, so driving a Turret at Teq is the next best thing. Not because the T-Op gets to heal - there is a heal among the skills on the Turret's bar but it's probably the least important. No, it's the cadence and the feels.

As a Turret Operator you have two main jobs: keep Tequatl's Hardened Scales buff to a minimum and Cleanse the zerg of poison. That means hitting Skill 2, Scale Penetration, every 12 seconds as it refreshes and skill 3, Poison Cleanse, every 5 seconds. The former is auto-targetted at the start of the fight as soon as you target the Dragon, preferably his head; the latter has to be ground-targeted wherever you want the shell to land.

In-between these you can do some DPS with Skill 1, Stake Thrower, which, on a one-second cooldown, is effectively an auto-attack. You might once in a while throw a buff on the zerg (de rigeur if you're still on the turret during a "Burn" phase, when everyone goes flat-out for maximum damage) or a heal, using skills 4 and 5, Hylek Elixir and Hylek Salve respectively. As they're both on a fifteen second delay, however, you have to pick your moments carefully.

The upshot is that using a Turret feels very much like the same decision-making process I remember from healing as a Cleric. Watching cooldowns,, doing triage assessment on the fly, manually swapping targets for cures, throwing in a nuke when you get a chance - all the essentials are there.

If the Turrets just had a resource to manage as well, the way a Cleric has to manage mana, it would be darn near identical. And if the six Turret Operators worked out a rota to manage their Scale Penetration so it didn't overlap wastefully, why, then you'd have the Clerics' Raid Heal Chain! They probably even used to do that when voice chat was still a thing at Teq.

The final cherry on the top, icing on the cake or nail in the coffin, as you will, is what I alluded to right at the start. The yelling.

Oh, the yelling! "Turrets! Use Skill 2!", "Turrets! Spam Cleanse!" "Scales too high!" Even "Is anyone on Turrets?" when we're clicking our fingers to the bone. Poor old Turret Operators can never get it right. If they're Cleansing they should be Penetrating and the other way around. Grenth forbid any of them should waste one second firing a stake. DPS is Not Your Job. Until the Burn, when it's "Turrets! Spam Skill 1".

When I used to Cleric for a living, so to speak, as Mrs Bhagpuss will gleefully tell you my catchphrase was "FFS!". I was a very calm healer as a rule but I was prone to fits of Not Being Able To Work With Chimps. Particularly if the chimps thought they knew better than I did how to do my job.

At Teq today I actually stopped firing at one point and yelled back in map chat "FFS we can't "spam" scales. It's on a 12 second cooldown". At that point I realized I was truly in the throws of a Clerical Flashback.

And it was flippin' great!


  1. (off topic: Just now logging into GW2 after quite awhile... into the Borderlands. It's the Yak! Hey!... I'm in your map, but there's no way you're defending at this [PDT] hour. Sad Charr... )

    -- 7rlsy

    1. Heh! No, I would have been fast asleep while you tried to take your keeps back!. I've been meaning to get a post done about our adventures in T1 but not had time yet. It's going pretty well - on current glicko we're likely to push Tarnished Coast down to T2 this week. Not sure T1 is where I'd choose to stay but when HoT arrives everything is going to get thrown up in the air anyway so we're just enjoying it while it lasts.

  2. Zactly. It's an anomalous romp for now. If you have any better info about the supposed migration of guilds to the Yak, do tell.

    Besides, hey, I'm O.K. with TC doing some time below. Anyway, I didn't last long. You've biased the hell out of me but it did seem like I kept running up against serious defense for awhile there. Confused me when we walked into Bay with no resistance. Must've been a priority change, ya bastids.

    -- 7rlsy
    (Or... come play with us in Stormhold. Just sayin'...)


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide