Sunday, November 17, 2019

To Cooking School, To Cooking School : GW2

Like my new oven? Spiffy, isn't it? And all the pots and knives and cooking paraphenalia on the wall behind?  All new, too. It's my "home instance", the Asuran one in Rata Sum. Only fair, since an Asura did all the work to get it, although of course all the rest will get one, too, just for... well, just for nothing, really.

It took nearly four hours to get it. I hadn't planned on doing any such thing today. I can't even remember why I started, even though it was only this morning when the idea came to me.

ArenaNet added Ascended Cooking to the game sometime back in the late summer. It was the first (much derided) stage of the ongoing "expansion-level content without the expansion" project. I mentioned it at the time in a post called "It's All Happening", when I said, with incredible foresight, "Cooking was the first craft skill I took up in GW2 and the first I levelled to 400. I am going to be all over this! Oh, except I'll be playing WoW Classic. I'll get to it eventually."

"Decadent"? Are you sure that's the word you meant to use?
Well, looks like today is "eventually". I got that part right but the rest? It wasn't what I expected. It was better.

I was never a fan of them adding an "Ascended" tier of crafting to GW2 but of course no-one asked me. When it came, it was expensive to level and when it was done it was too expensive to use. I did it anyway, raised all the crafting classes to the 500 skill cap, some of them more than once.

I can't exactly say leveling those classes, Leatherworker, Tailor, Weaponsmith and the rest, was fun, exactly, although it wasn't not fun either. It was crafting. You either enjoy it or you don't.

The most interesting part was trying to close the 400-500 skill gap between Exotic and Ascended without going broke. On some classes, with a little judicious reading of the market, it was possible to break even, more or less. If you didn't count the cost of materials you already had, you could even make money. Took me a while to realize that.

He's a Norn. This is just an appetiser.

When I started working on Ascended Cookery this morning I expected more of the same. And that's what I got for the first few minutes. I took my Necromancer Chef (possibly not the most reassuring combination of classes) to my preferred crafting area in Black Citadel.

She stood at the peculiar Charr cooking facility, popped a Crafting Booster, opened her recipe book, chose an orange dish (orange difficulty, not some kind of sorbet) and had at it. Everything ticked along nicely until she hit 425 skill and someone sent her a letter.

How Sous-Chef Seimur Oxbone knew what she was up to is probably best left on the back burner although I'm guessing it might have something to do with all that bloodstone dust he uses in his "special" recipes. However he'd found out, he'd heard about her efforts and wanted to encourage them.

The pretence that GW2 is a game without quests wore thin years ago but these days they really might as well cut the comedy and give us a Quest Journal. For the next three and a half hours I was questing and that's all there is to it. What more do you want? A symbol over the NPC's head? Oh, wait, he has one!

Don't think just because it's not a punctutaion mark that you're fooling anyone.
Whatever the developers want to call it, the Ascended Cookery Quest is pretty good. Not that I thought it was going to be when I first saw it. I read the letter and then I went straight to the wiki because experience has taught me that GW2 "quests" are a lot more enjoyable when you have a walkthrough up.

It looked pretty daunting. First you have to make a "platter" for Oxbone to assess to see if he wants to take matters any further. If you pass his initiation he sends you to see chefs from all five playable races and each of them has a similar set of challenges waiting before they'll induct you into the Tyrian Chefs' Hall of Fame (not an actual in-game award, sadly).

Along the way you'll need to make fifteen presentation dishes, most of which are made from subcombines, often several of them. It looked like a lot of work and it would have been if not for two things: a full materials bank and the click-through subcombine feature ANet added to crafting a few years ago.

Even so, there were a few recipes I didn't have in my book. I had to "discover" those. Worse, some of the chefs wanted more than just food. 

This is just an elaborate sales pitch for your latest amazing "invention", isn't it? This one had better work!

The Norn insisted on making me new cooking implements, for which he wanted a load of Ascended crafting materials, some of which can only be made once per day. Luckily I had all of them pre-made from a long time ago when I was making the things just to clear bag space.

The Sylvari sent me out to forage herbs before he'd give me a gardening plot for my home instance. I haven't been back to look at it yet. The Asura mostly wanted to sell me things. Dealing with him cost me fifteen gold but now I can deconstruct cooked food into essences for Ascended dishes. At least I think that's what he said the gadgets did. 

The Charr butcher showed me how to get high-quality meat from animals (they'll drop it occasionally when I kill them, now). All he wanted me to do was bring him some cows. The most awkward of them all was the Human, a baker who wanted a load of bloodstone bricks and three Heat Stones to make me an oven.

Heat Stones go for around twenty gold each on the Trading Post. Sixty gold is a lot of money in GW2. I thought I'd make them myself although the mats alone run close to fifty gold. Still, I already had those...
I needn't have bothered.
Only it turned out that what I didn't have was the recipe. Leatherworkers, Armorsmiths and Tailors can make Heat Stones but since they were added to the game as part of the Maudrey not-a-quest-honestly and I was never interested in doing it, I'd never bothered to buy the stupid thing.

Which would be fine, except that you can only buy it when the meta-event chain in Dry Top raises map faction to tier 3 or above and when I went to Dry Top it was empty and faction was flatlining. Never mind! I had to wait two hours for the Norn to finish making my cooking implements anyway, and I'd read the walktrhough carefully enough to know the optimum order to do the sub-quests, so I got on with those and came back to Dry Top half an hour later, by which time it had magically reached Faction Three.

I got my recipe and made a Heat Stone but you can only make one a day. By then it was the only thing left that I needed to finish the whole non-quest. I thought about it. Waiting two days to make my own Heat Stones would only save me about seven or eight gold. I have eight and a half thousand gold on that account alone. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at yourself and wonder.

So I bought two more Heat Stones, gave them to the guy in Divinity's Reach and went to my Home Instance like he told me to. When I got there a delivery man had just arrived. He carried my new oven across the grass and into the cooking area, where Sous Chef Oxbone was waiting. 

Over here, by the wall. Careful! Don't drop it, man!
Oh, did I not mention that? He lives there now. He's volunteered himself as my own personal cooking supply merchant. With him and the new oven installed I have home banking and my own personal shop. And all from cooking!

Each of the cooks I impressed gave me ten skill points. Making the various combines along the way gave me a few more. While I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for Chef Reimar, the Norn, to finish making my pots and pans I found a super-cheap recipe in my book that used nothing but vendor mats and I got a dozen skill-ups in the 470s and 80s from that. (It's Glob of Gelatin in case anyone needs it and since it's a 450 skill combine you could probably do twenty or thirty points on it for almost no money at all ). 

All of that left me annoyingly topped out at a cooking skill of 499. I could have made various things for that last point but I chose to make... a backpack. Not just one, either. Each backpack uses the one from the tier below as a model so first I had to make all the other backpacks going right the way back to the beginning. I had all the mats so it didn't take long.

And there I am. Or there my Necro is, proudly wearing her very weird backpack (pictures don't do it justice) and her new "Gourmet" title, leaning on her smart new red brick oven, looking out at her freshly-turned garden plot as she thumbs through her recipe book to see all the amazing Ascended dishes she can make.

I found the whole thing to be a well-judged piece of content. It took a solid amount of time but it went quickly and there was always something to do. There was a good deal of travel involved but all the NPCs were close to waypoints and in sensible places. 

I didn't count the cost of the mats I already had but I imagine they were worth a good few gold. I spent fifty-five gold on items. I could have shaved five or ten gold off that if I'd been willing to wait another two days. All in all I would guess, if you had to buy everything, it would come in around a hundred gold or so, which is less than some classes cost to Ascend and you get a lot more for your money.

And it was more fun than just standing at the crafting station, banging out stuff and hoping to sell it at not too much of a loss. Nice way to spend a damp, cold Sunday, too, in front of a warm stove.

Plus I have bags full of food now because most of the chefs just took a taste and left the rest. Omnomnom, as the Charr say. At least I think that's what they say. It's hard to be sure when they have their mouths stuffed full of meat. Which they do, all the time.

If anyone's thinking of doing it, there's a great write-up at Gaischioch Magazine and the wiki walkthrough I used is here. Take care with the hot stuff and remember, Inventory Full is not responsible for any weight gained. 

IntPiPoMo running total: 77


  1. Sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    Do you have any say in where exactly those things (oven, garden plot) go, or is that home instance not customizable at all?

    1. Sadly, no, no choice at all. I wouldn't dignify GW2's Home Instances as "housing" in any meaningful sense, although they are better than nothing at all, just about. It completely baffles me why ANet don't add real housing - given GW2's cosmetic endgame it could probably double their revenue overnight.

    2. Hm, that's what I thought.

      I don't get it either. Sure, there's always been very loud voices who clamor for more endgame-content and 'don't you dare waste delelopment time for silly stuff like housing'.
      But I'd think that, by now, it should indeed be pretty evident that lots of people would happily spend money on that 'silly' stuff.


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