Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Push The Envelope


As has been mentioned many, many times before, I'm very fond of anniversary and holiday events in mmorpgs. They vary a lot but on the whole they tend to be strong on knockabout fun and light on player skill. Light-hearted quests, races, fairground-style games and lots of fireworks are the usual package. 

And of course you get presents. Really, what kind of celebration would it be without presents? And who doesn't like getting presents?

I hear you. Depends what sort of presents. Yes, it does, doesn't it? Sometimes you tear open the paper and when you see what's inside you wish they hadn't bothered. Maybe you even wish they'd just given you the money instead.

That's why the Lunar New Year Festival might be my favorite GW2 holiday. Might be. I'm not really sure. They all have something going for them but several also have quite a lot against. I can barely drag myself around the tedium of Wintersday even for a day or two and Halloween is basically Mad King's Lab until my fingers bleed.

Lunar Festival is solid entertainment. There's Dragon Ball, which I've always enjoyed, although it generally gives me neck-ache. (I have a tendency to lean sideways when I play as though that would let me see around the edge of the screen). Then there's the firecracker-lighting, which I find kind of addictive because of the crackling sounds. And then there's the race, one of the best of the holiday ones.

As an aside, it's peculiar how much I love the set-piece races in GW2 even though I despise the use of mounts in open play. I wish they'd just implemented mounts purely for racing and left it that. Or made a stand-alone racing game. I'd play it.

I thought Lunar New Year had a pretty full dance card but last year ANet added a major new attraction, the Celestial Challenge. I barely noticed it at the time. Not sure why. 

I did try it in 2020. Today, when I zoned into the instanced version of Divinty's Reach where it takes place, the memory came back to me, faintly. I'm fairly sure I only went in once or twice last time and I'm sure I didn't think much of it.

This time I stayed for three cycles of events and enjoyed almost all of them. One was bugged and two I didn't work out how to do until they were about over but other than that it was fast, furious fun. 

Even so, I'm not sure how often I'd be back if it wasn't for those rewards, becasue, you see, the best thing about Lunar Festival compared to all the others is it gives you cash money up front. All the festivals in GW2 offer great potential for making money but it usually involves selling things you get to other players. In this one you can make money selling to NPCs.

I won't go into the full details but the short version is you buy envelopes from an NPC, you open them, then you sell the "trash" items you get, back to the same NPC if you like. If you're very, very unlucky you might lose about 10% of your stake, although you'll always easily make that back on selling the other stuff you got to other players on the Trading Post, so there's really no risk at all. It's definitely not gambling.

To make it even safer, the envelopes are tradeable. If you want, you can sell them to other players. You can probably make more money that way in the early days of the festival than you can by opening them. After the feeding frenzy dies down, it's the other way around. I used to sell the envelopes for the first few days then open the rest but I have more gold than I need these days and opening them is a lot more fun.

Almost always I'll make a small profit. Sometimes I might make lot more. Over the course of the whole event I generally make at least a couple of hundred gold, a significant windfall in GW2's economy.

The amount you can make is limited by a daily limit on how many envelopes you can buy: eight. Eight is the magic number. Literally. It's considered lucky in China and Tyria's Lunar New Year is really nothing but Chinese New Year with a fancy hat on.

You can increase the yield by doing various events, dailies and so on. That gives you tokens which allow you to buy extra envelopes, and at a cheaper price too, although there's a daily limit to how many of those you can buy as well. 

Every year I buy my permitted eight envelopes on all three of my accounts but in the past I've never bothered trying to earn enough tokens to buy the extras. This year that might be about to change. I discovered the Celestial Challenge hands tokens out like candy. 

That's why I did the full cycle three times this afternoon and it's why I'll most likely do quite a few more rounds before the holiday ends. I wouldn't do it if the events were a pain but since they're both easy and fun it seems silly to snub the event altogether.

Even so, I imagine the novelty will wear off quite fast. The Celestial Challenge is a decent addition to the program but it's no Mad King's Lab. 

Probably just as well.

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