Sunday, July 16, 2017

Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends : GW2

If it's anything at all, this blog is a record of the MMOs I've played over the last umpty-ump years. It's the diary I always wished I'd kept and, like most diaries, it's highly selective. To accurately reflect the way I spend my gaming hours, almost every post would need to be about GW2 and most would need to focus on World vs World.

I have three GW2 accounts that I play every single day. On two of them I mostly just do the dailies but those dailies always include a trip to The Mists, where I often find myself answering a call to defend a tower or a keep. One thing leads to another and before I know it half an hour or more has passed, all of it in WvW.

I have camped Veteran Creatures for dailies for a lot longer than I ever camped anything in EQ.

Eventually I'll arrive on my main account and settle down for the full session. On a weekday evening that usually lasts two or three hours; on a weekend it could easily be double. However long it lasts, it's in World vs World that the time is mainly spent.

How long I stay does depend on the match - who we're playing, who's commanding, how urgent or exciting the current situation - but even on a dull day, in a dead match with no-one tagged up and nothing much happening, it's odds on I'll hang around.

Competetive? Moi?

On days like that I sort my bags and bank in Citadel. I've done all my inventory chores in WvW for so long I think of it as the hub for all practical concerns. Until they took out the crafting stations it was where I did all my tradeskills as well. If everything's good and tidy I roam around killing sentries, taking camps and generally tidying our home borderland so it's all one color.

Sometimes I don't do anything at all. I just stand on the battlements at Hills or Garrison and stare. I have dozens - scores - of screenshots of empty keeps with a lone figure under a bleak, blue sky. Several times, most weeks, I position my character in spots known to be vulnerable to attack - the cata wall at Hills is a favorite - then I tab out to read or write blog posts, browse the web, look stuff up...

Alarum! Alarum!
With the sound set to bleed through, my character acts as the canary in the mine. When I hear the distinctive crank of the siege engine, the zing of the sound effect that signifies a structure contesting, or, most dramatically, my character screaming as some invader yanks her off the wall and stamps on her head, I tab back and raise the alarm. Even when I'm not in WvW I'm in WvW.

Anything else I write about here, even when it's about GW2, is an outlier. Or, at least, it is quite often. Not always. While Mrs Bhagpuss threw herself wholeheartedly into WvW from the very start, it took me a year or so to acquire the taste and of late, for most of this year, that taste has staled. There were a few months this spring when I didn't think I was going to bother with WvW much longer.

Rather more than that now...

Something always changes. Something pulls me back. This time it was the recent, extensive changes to both scoring and rewards, which made the game mode spasm like a jolt to a corpse.

Hordes of long-lost names re-appeared together with hosts of people I'd never seen before. The frenzy only lasted a week or two but with the novelty over we arrived at a new norm; populations are higher, people are more focused, winning skirmishes and matches is back in fashion. It's better all round.

Anyone seen a fatted calf around here?

More significant for Yaks Bend than any rule change, an immensely influential and endlessly charismatic Commander came back from a long break. Within days of his reappearance the entire feel of the game on YB changed. In his absence we'd slipped into something like a second-rate "fights" server without the guilds or the skills to make it stick. Now we're almost back to our old, loathed, siege-humping best.

How one person can have such an effect is difficult to figure but the more I learn about other servers the clearer it is that many have one or two such major players, able to swing the server behind them without apparently even trying. Once you know it you can immediately tell whether or not those Commanders are running even when you're on the other side. They make the whole shaky structure stand; without them it all falls apart.

And a few I wish I didn't.

Little of this translates well to prose. For all the play PvPers make of the vitality, the vibrance and unpredictability of their playstyle compared to rote PvE questing or the formal dance of the raid, running in one zerg is much like running in another and every Stonemist three-way blurs into one as the years drift by. 

Of course the detail is always unique. Every single time my Zerker staff ele makes another death-defying run through the the enemy blob, arriving inside the besieged keep stretched flat in the dust gasping for breath, it thrills like the first time - thrills me. Not so much anyone who has to hear about it.

Yeah, whatever...
Other people's war stories are tedious. Not, perhaps, to those who stood side by side as fifteen fought thirty in a half-hour rearguard until, at a famous last stand in Air Lords, the fifteen finally prevailed, but to anyone who wasn't there? So what?

In a never-ending Valhalla, where you fight forever to hold what you own and never own what you fight to take, where nothing changes then everything changes in a game of musical keeps and shifting colors, sometimes it can be hard to remember what you're fighting for, if you're even fighting for anything. EVE stories have such currency outside the game because they mirror recognizable gain and loss. In WvW only memories matter - memories and pride.

If it's purple it has to be important.

Still, this is my diary. My web log. These should be my memories, here, set down for me to remember. I should write more about these things that matter to no-one but me because it's for certain-sure I shan't remember them in anything more than form and shape come the day I can no longer stir to the call.

A picture, though. A picture tells a thousand stories. Or something like that.

I'll make myself an album. Someday.


  1. What a revelation, that you have three accounts and pvp every night! I would have had no idea. Do you write about the WvW and I've missed it? You know I'm an advocate of writing whatever I feel like, and my playnotes have been somewhat of a diary. You should definitely write about your evening's adventures whenever you wish. It gives the rest of us a window into the game that most would never see.

    1. I have 56 posts tagged WvW in the ridiculously long list of tags at the bottom if you want to take a look. Although most probably only mention it in passing there are a few specifically about WvW. I haven't written anything about it for quite a while - I should have done a post when the last lot of big changes came in but Jeromai did one before me and I just referred to that - lazy!

      I was exaggerating slightly about how much WvW I play compared to anything else and it does vary a lot depending on what else is going on MMO-wise but I was in WvW pretty much all day Sunday and most of today, which is not untypical. It's always there and there's almost always something going on so it's become my default MMO activity, especially when Mrs Bhagpuss is playing, which is often. It will change if anything genuinely new comes along (Expansions or new MMOs especially) but when the novelty wears off chances are I'll drift back to WvW again...

      I will try and do a post or two about it though, just recording the general day-to-day feel of being in The Mists. It's always really interesting to look back at these things later on so I ought to get something down while I'm still doing it - otherwise I'll only end up rambling on inaccurately about it years later, like I do with everything I played before I began blogging...

    2. I did know Bhagpuss does a lot of WvW because he has mentioned it once or twice, but if you're casually reading his blog it's hard to tell!

      My own blog doesn't reflect what I do in-game much, either. For instance, I spend most of my gaming time questing in LOTRO, and decorating and doing group content in SWTOR. I think that's partly because it easily gets boring if you talk about the same thing. The thing I always hated about my RL diaries is that they were so factual. Since I'm writing for (some sort of) an audience I try to spice up the blog a little.

  2. PVP has the attraction of always being different - and in GW2 it seems to also have some semblance of Realm loyalty and semi-persistance of state, something that's missing from Warcraft (my only PVP frame of reference). The idea of an individual being able to sway a server is amazing - I guess similar to a great Raid leader, but for the entire WvW population.

    I've tried dabbling in WvW but never have a clear idea what is going on nor what I'm meant to be doing. Have you come across any beginner guides or how-tos? Or is it just a matter of getting in there and learning?

    1. I've not seen a good introductory guide for WvW for a long time. The Wiki has all the factual stuff but what most people seem to recommend when new players ask for advice in-game (which happens fairly often) is to find a Commander with an open squad, join up and follow the tag.

      Which is fine... so long as the Commander knows what he or she is doing! I'd say follow as many commanders as you can for the first few sessions - r-click on them or on their icon on map and Join Squad. PUG commanders, which is what you want, will always have an Open squad. If the squad's closed it's most likely a Guild group - you can still run along with them though (some of them hate that, most don't mind). If they're in voice coms, which most will be, they will like you to join but but I never do and it has never caused me any issues. You will be more effective in Teamspeak or Discord or whatever they use but a good Pugmander will give you all the basics - WPs, targets, basic tactics etc - in text chat.

      Follow a few Commander and find one you like, either because they're fun or effective or - preferably - both. Then keep following that tag - most good commanders run several days (sometimes every day) at around the same time. If you do that for a while and ask about jargon you don't know, tactics you don't get etc, you'll soon pick up enough to feel comfortable.

      Once you feel comfortable, you can start to do stuff without the Commander (well, obviously you can from the start but most people don't want to jump into the deep end that way). The whole thing is as complex or a simple as you want to make it. If you get into it you can think about what Classes and builds are needed, get your Meta from MetaBattle, start scouting and calling reports in Map and Team etc etc. Or you can just keep following the Tag in the zerg - Commanders always need more zerglings!

      Honestly, it took me literally years to begin to know what I was doing (assuming I even do) but that never stopped me. I just used to run around doing whatever felt fun. I still do, only I like to think I'm slightly more use to the War Effort when I'm doing it these days!


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