Saturday, December 26, 2015

You Can Get The Staff : GW2

Among the really quite surprisingly large number of things I've found myself enjoying in Heart of Thorns are the Ascended Weapon Collections. Before the expansion launched I never gave them a thought but it seems that I should have. For once, ArenaNet seem to have found my personal Goldilocks zone .

The Collection system was intended to provide a framework for horizontal progression. Over the year and more since it debuted in the September 2014 Feature pack it has sprouted seven sub-sections including Basic, Rare, Black Lion and three flavors of Legendary but the only one that has really caught my attention is Specialization.

For my tastes, most of the Collections fall into the "pointless time sink" category, a place where a great deal of GW2's "content" seems to reside, but the Specialization Collections have managed to pitch themselves just the right side of busy-work, landing squarely in the realm of  "I could do this and it wouldn't be horrible". What's more, the final reward is something simple, straightforward and clearly desirable: an Ascended Weapon.

The Ascended gear tier has been in the game for so long now that the controversy that greeted its introduction seems almost forgotten. Working through the various routes to acquire a full set of Pink Quality armor and weapons has become routine for many players. I am  not one of them.

I'm happy to cherry-pick the quick and easy Ascended option where it presents itself. My
considerable Badge of Honor surplus (currently standing at just under 13,000 on the main account) provides instant access to all the rings, amulets and trinkets I could want. I've been lucky enough to acquire a smattering of weapons and armor pieces from drops here and there, something that has become a much more feasible means of acquisition since the change that allowed us to change the stats using the Mystic Forge.

The most straightforward way to fill out the set is, of course, by crafting. I do have some 500 skill tradeskillers who could get the job done but it feels far too much like throwing money on a blazing fire and I generally can't bring myself to do it. These new collections, though, are not just relatively economical, they're fun too.

There's a weapon for each of the nine classes. Each weapon requires the collection of fourteen "items". It sounds like a lot of work but since Collections are account-based and some of the items are shared between two or more classes the total is less daunting than it might be. Moreover, while a number of the items are gated by certain Masteries (primarily Itzel and Nuhoch language and Exalted Aceptance and Gathering), once those Masteries are in your book, getting your hands on the items themselves becomes trivial.

The first I knew of the existence of the Specialization Collections was when items I received early in the HoT Personal Story caused a window to pop up telling me I'd started one. I didn't pay much attention but then more updates appeared as I killed my way across Magus Falls and even Core Tyria.

That was when I took a look at the Collection and found myself thinking "Y'know, this looks doable". Over the last few weeks I've been picking away slowly at the first Collection I discovered, the Druid staff Yggdrasil. Other than a couple of trips to obscure Karma vendors around Tyria I haven't needed to do anything much other than things I'd have been doing anyway.

It's not to say that pursuing the vague goal of someday owning Yggdrasil hasn't directed my day-to-day choices at all. I probably wouldn't have Map Completion for Verdant Brink if I hadn't needed at least one Magus Falls map completed by a Ranger. I might not have bothered to do the sub-collect for the Machined Staff or the Mystic Forge combine for the Mystic Forge if they weren't needed for The Project. I might have taken some of the Masteries in a different order.

And so on and so on. The point is, though, that nothing I ended up doing was anything I wouldn't have done at some point, maybe, probably, randomly. All the collection required was that I change my focus: do this particular thing now rather than later. That's the kind of directed activity in MMOs that I find not just acceptable but welcome. If there's one thing I often need but find hard to find it's a bit of focus.

On Christmas evening I finished up both the Machined and Mystic Staff requirements and took possession of Yggdrasil. It looks rather good, I think. A neatened, tidied version of the exotic Druid's Staff that marks a ranger's transition to the druidic life and which appears to be a sapling pulled up by the roots from some public park.

Mrs Bhagpuss, naturally, finished her Yggdrasil weeks ago, following it up with the Thief's Bo, which, being a staff, shares some of the steps. Thief is the only class I don't have on the main account and I have no plans to add one so I'll probably move on to Ydalir, the Dragonhunter's bow, next. Of all the new Elite specs the Guardian's Dragonhunter is the only one for which I prefer the new weapon to any of the old choices.

Over time, though, I expect to complete all the Specialization Collections. They're neither too easy nor too hard. They're just about right.


  1. You don't like Reaper greatsword?
    Gravedigger spam is soooo nice...

    1. Really, the issue is they all need to be learned and I got seven classes finished over a two week period. The only one i took to immediately was the Dragonhunter, mainly because Guardian never had a good ranged option before. Everyone says Reaper is good so I will probably get around to learning it eventually but I had only just swapped from condi to power/wells the week before HoT came out and I was still getting used to that!


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