Wednesday, June 23, 2021

You Can Get The Staff

Tuesday is patch day in Tyria so yesterday I was looking forward  to the next instalment of Return to Living Story. We'd wrapped up Season Two, the warm-up act for the first expansion, Heart of Thorns, and I was all set to jump straight into Season Three, about which I can remember almost nothing without some kind of artifical memory aid.

When I logged in, though, there were no free tokens in the mail. We're taking a short break between seasons, it seems. The next two episodes dropin a week's time on the 29th.

Instead, to entertain us this week we have Dragon Bash, the pinata-smashing, hologram-battling, moa-racing festival that takes place, for no reason I can think of, in Hoelbrak, the snowbound hometown of the Norns.

It makes for a nice contrast with Scorched Sky, the holiday that began the same day over in Norrath. As the dramatic note from new Community Manager Accendo puts it, "The Scorched Sky Celebration is back and within the flames, all mettle is tempered—that which is weak, distracting, and fleeting is burned away leaving only the strong, pure, and resilient! Join us in lifting up the Tyrant of Fire and the Burning Prince, and you too will know the cleansing intensity of Fire."

I haven't yet engaged with the new quest, Feats of Burning Devotion, or browsed the thirty-four new items on the Ember merchants (including a new flying mount, so I hear). I'll get around to that tomorrow or the next day.

I have, however, already started working on my necessary obligations in the Shiverpeak snows. At least I thought they were necessary when I began. It turned out I was wrong.

ArenaNet have made some concerted effort these last couple of years to fill out what was once a desultory holiday calendar and also to make the holidays themselves more interesting and fun. I usually do the dailies and some of the events in all of them but Dragon Bash has several events I always enjoy. Smashing pinatas is a bit of mindless fun and I'm always up for some rollerbeetle racing. The hologram arena is okay for a few rounds once a year but  the staged hologram invasions of the various Shiverpeaks maps are good for the whole three weeks.

The problem with most Tyrian holidays isn't usually with the entertainment so much as the presents. It's all very well doing the events to earn the currency but I can hardly ever find anything I want to spend it on. 

From that perspective, it was a very nice surprise last night when Mrs. Bhagpuss, who can be much more of a determined holidaymaker than me, linked a very attractive new staff in guild chat. Going by the seasonally inappropriate name of Spring Warmth, it's a rustic pole that bursts into flower at the business end and it's one of three new weapons for sale at a new vendor added this year.

Out of curiosity, I ported across to Hoelbrak to take a look at the other two. One is a flowery rifle that looks both unwieldy and bizarre. I don't have anyone who habitually uses a gun but even if I did I can't imagine using this one. 

The third is a warhorn which, like almost every other smallish weapon in the game, would be hard to notice in use. This one also happens to be very ordinary-looking. It's quite realistic if that's the look you're going for but I can't see it setting any hearts racing.

The staff, though, that I liked. So did Mrs Bhagpuss. The cost at the vendor was twenty Jorbreakers, the currency of Dragon Bash. There are various ways you can acquire Jorbreakers, some of them quite speedy, but Mrs. Bhagpuss calculated that by doing dailies and regular holiday events it would probably take her thje full three weeks of Dragon Bash before she'd earn enough to buy staffs on two of her accounts. She reckoned she might even manage the third if she really worked at it.

I didn't plan on going that hard but I thought I'd definitely make the effort to get at least one. It was certainly pretty enough to make it feel worth it. And it would be nice to have a positive, practical reason to do the dailies and some of the events most days. Nothing like a sense of purpose.

I meant to get started on it today, after I finished in World vs World. I was doing my dailies there, when the dreaded three-minute warning sounded. It happens quite often after a patch. Some bug had been found and fixed, so everyone had to log out to get the update. If you happen to be in WvW when something like this happens, you don't get the luxury PvE players have of waiting for a convenient moment. Players on competetive maps need to have the same build so everyone gets kicked.

I thought I'd check the update notes to see what had changed. It was, as it almost always is on these occasions, a server crash. Since I had the main update notes from yesterday in front of me, I read those, too.

This line jumped out at me: "Three new weapons are now available as rare drops from dragon coffers. They can also be purchased from Sparking Stone, a new Dragon Bash weapons vendor in Hoelbrak." Say what? That seemed odd. The same weapons the new guy was selling were also this year's rare drops from the Holiday Lootboxes? Free, in-game lootboxes, that is, before anyone starts sharpening their pitchforks.

I told Mrs. Bhagpuss and she asked whether they were also tradeable, since if they were they'd be on the trading post in no time and maybe she wouldn't need to work on those Jorbreakers after all. I checked and there were none for sale but while I was at the vendor (reminding myself what the things were called so I could search for them) I noticed there was a dialog option I'd missed.

Chatting with the vendor, Sparking Stone explained how the weapons he was selling could also be found in the dragon coffers, if you were very fortunate. I refuse to feel embarassed for missing that the first time round. Who takes random dialog options from merchants?

I passed this information on to Mrs. Bhagpuss and carried on with my pinatas. Then, just a few minutes later, a link to the new staff appeared in guild chat. Mrs. Bhagpuss had been opening her coffers as they dropped and guess what had fallen out?

I congratulated her and thought about things for a moment. I was fairly sure I had a stack or two of those boxes stashed from last year. I went to the bank and checked and it turned out I had more than eight hundred tucked away for a rainy day.

The reason I store these things for years is precisely for this kind of situation. ANet generally don't create new containers when they add items to an annual event. They just alter the contents of the old ones. If there's nothing much I want one year I hold onto my stock in the hope next year will bring something better.

So I started opening coffers. I'd opened about thirty when the new warhorn dropped. That was a good sign. I kept going and with coffer #96 out came the staff. It hadn't even taken a hundred pulls to get what I wanted.

I put the other seven hundred or so back in the bank and considered my luck. Mrs Bhagpuss and I had bounced three of the new weapons from scarcely more than a hundred tries. That would hardly count as rare by the standards of most mmorpgs I've played but by the standards of GW2, where drop rates have historically been appalling, it seems incredibly generous. 

Or we were just incredibly lucky. It's clearly too small a sample to tell. If I was sufficiently motivated I might open another five hundred coffers and keep a count. That would probably give me a better idea. I think I'd rather save my boxes for the next good thing, thanks.

The real question I'm asking myself is how lucky is "lucky" anyway? Before the two staffs dropped so easily this afternoon we both had several weeks of content ahead of us. Working to earn something in a holiday event is a classic way to spend time in an mmorpg. 

Assuming Mrs. Bhagpuss doesn't pull another staff out of a box, she can now carry on with her plan to get the Jorbreakers she needs to buy the staff for her other two accounts. I'd bet she does get the drop before she gets that far, though. You get a lot of dragon coffers, doing these events every day.

I, on the other hand, am now finished with my Dragon Bash plans for this year. I got the only item I wanted on the first day. 

I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I'm genuinely happy to have the staff and I'm also very happy to see ArenaNet getting into the holiday spirit. They've been scrooging for far too long. On the other hand, it does seem like they already covered the "don't stress - you'll get the thing you want" part just by putting the weapons on the vendor in the first place.

There's just no pleasing some folks, is there?

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