Monday, March 14, 2022

Window Of Opportunity

I spent very nearly the whole day playing Guild Wars 2 today. I'd guess I've played more GW2 since End of Dragons than the rest of the year put together. 

It's not just the expansion, either, although I have spent a great deal of time in Cantha, mostly doing map completion, which I've found to be far more enjoyable and compelling than usual thanks to the extreme verticality of all the maps and the strong element of puzzling involved this time around. I know from map chat that some people absolutely loathe it for the exact same reasons but they had boring old Path of Fire - now it's my turn!

I also did the hyper-controversial new endgame meta again today, just because I happened to be in the map, the appropriately-named Dragon's End, when it started. It was my second run and it finished the same way the first did, with the dragon stil about 25% health when the timer ran out. 

It was a full map, give or take, and we had maximum NPC support and an experienced, if not very successful commander. He said he'd had about forty tries so far and won thee of them. Far from reducing anyone's confidence in his ability to lead us to victory, the general sentiment seemd to be that, with a seven and a half per cent success rate, he was doing better than most. 

The whole mood of the map stayed cheerful throughout, even when it became obvious we were going to lose. People did start to bail towards the end but with no complaints that I heard, only a few rueful comments along the lines of "We'll get it next time". 

I haven't read up on the tactics and the entire event from start to finish is so mind- boggling chaotic I had very little idea what was happening, let alone what I was supposed to be doing. As with Dragon's Stand, the Heart of Thorns meta it's modelled on, there are three lanes, all of which have to progress down the map, beating various bosses and completing diverse tasks before everyone comes together on a platform for a gigantic death match with the dragon. 

Both times I've done it I've taken the center lane, so I now have a rough idea of the nodal points of that one but I still have no real clue what the mechanics are. At any point where I was supposed to be doing anything other than killing mobs what I was actually doing was watching other people to see what they were doing. Didn't help much. Most of them had no idea, either.

Dragon's Stand was just the same when it started. It took me half a dozen runs to get the hang of it and maybe a dozen more before I got to be competent. After that, I was the one yelling in map chat about what we ought to be doing. I never could keep my trap shut. 

The reason I did Dragon's Stand that many times wasn't because I was desperate for the rewards.  It was because it was a whole lot of fun, particularly on a wet Sunday afternoon, which seemed to be when I usually found myself there.

Someone piped up in map chat today to say Dragon's End was the best meta the game's had since Dragon's Stand and several people chimed in to agree. I certainly think it has that potential, once ANet tune it a little and a critical mass of players understand the rules. I'll certainly be going back for another try, anyway.

The meta took about forty five minutes, with a two-hour lead-in but that was nothing compared to the time I spent reorganizing my banks. That's GW2's real end game. 

I've been at it for days now. I started with the guild banks, all three of them, then I moved on to my main account bank.

I long ago expanded my storage to the maximum number of vaults. I'd very happily give ANet (imaginary) money for more but they won't take it so I had to get creative. I considered buying a new characeter slot to make a dedicated bank mule but then I realised I had the ideal candidate already.

When HoT added a new character class, the Revenant, and gave us a new character slot to play one, I felt honor-bound to give it a go. I made the class and tried to play it but I couldn't get on with it at all. 

Revenants have turned out to be quite popular but mine has been standing on a patch of grass in Lion's Arch next to the NPC who ports you to the daily Activity for years. I only ever do that daily if it's the best of a bad bunch or if Sanctum Sprint is up. I like Sanctum Sprint. 

It occurred to me that if he was just going to stand there, he could mind everyone's stuff while he did it. I converted some of my vast pile of gold to Gems and bought him a couple of extra bag slots, then I gave him some twenty-slot Halloween Pails to put in them, plus a few more to replace the smaller bags he was using. 

That reminded me my Elementalist is also a tailor and she can make bags up to the largest size GW2 allows, thirty-two slots. They cost a fortune to craft, though, so in the end I made a twenty-eight slotter, which itself cost almost as much as the Gems I'd bought. And then I decided the Ele would get more use out of it than the bank mule, so I swapped it for one of her twenty-slots and gave him that instead.

After that it was on to the hard part - sorting through seventeen thirty-slot tabs of largely unrecognizeable icons, trying to decide what to stash on the mule, what to sell, what to use and what to leave in the bank. I even did my best to organize all seventeen tabs into some kind of coherent pattern.

I was doing it in the Citadel in World vs World, which is where I do everything practical in the game other than craft. I was about half way through when some gang of thugs from another server decided to take our Garrison. I was so wrapped up in my bank sorting I didn't even notice until the battle had been raging for about twenty minutes but as soon as I realised what was going on I left off what I was doing and legged it to the keep to help.

The battle went on for nearly as long as the Dragon's Stand meta. There were about double the number of the enemy as there were of us but we kept harrrying them and kiting them and chipping away like an annoying cloud of gnats until finally there were only about even numbers left, at which point they gave up and ran away. 

It was a famous victory! And then, about five minutes after I got back to my bank-work, the whole thing kicked off again at our keep in Eternal Battlegrounds, so I got to do it all over again. We won that too!

Put all that together and I think I've been playing GW2 for about seven hours today, at least. I only really stopped because I wanted to get a post done. I haven't finished sorting the bank, either. I'll have to do more on that tomorrow.

Yeebo has a very good post about how expansions in mmorpgs don't mean what they used to and both he and Tyler F.M. Edwards, who has a post over at MassivelyOP on much the same subject, pick out the recent Star Wars: the Old Republic expansion, Legacy of the Sith, as a prime example. 

Yeebo makes the point that some mmorpg companies seem to have figured out they can get away with taking money for stuff they used to give away for free but also that the promise of a good expansion brings people back to the game. If the expansion lives up to that promise, those players don't just whip through it and leave, they remember why they liked the game in the first place and stick around for a while. 

That's exactly what End of Dragons has done for me. Okay, I hadn't technically left GW2 but I had checked out emotionally. Now I feel re-invigorated and ready to carry on and find out where the game goes next. If EoD had disappointed the way the SW:tOR expansion apparently has, it might easily have been the final straw, not just for me but for many.

Luckily for me that isn't how it turned out. Like Belghast, who seems to have had a kind of damascene conversion to the game, I'm having a lot of fun in GW2 right now and for once I can imagine it continuing for a while. 

Having put that in writing, I imagine next week I'll be here pounding out two thousand words about some other game I've magically started playing but until then expect a few more postcards from Cantha. I have to do something with these hundreds of screenshots I've taken.


  1. Dragon's Stand was just the same when it started. It took me half a dozen runs to get the hang of it and maybe a dozen more before I got to be competent. After that, I was the one yelling in map chat about what we ought to be doing. I never could keep my trap shut.

    I feel you on this, Bhagpuss. I'm the same way, although with less yelling. Well, I do yell, but not with any microphones on (and not typing it in chat). I just use that as my catharsis after a long day at work.

    1. It's all typing for me - and not in CAPS either! I lost my mic years ago and never bothered to replace it.

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    1. Thanks for the plug. End of Dragons certainly seems like it lives up to the term "expansion." It's a bit crazy that I've still never gotten around to trying GW2. From all I have read I would love it. It must also have an insane amount of content by now.

      For that matter I've always wanted to try the original, going all the way back to when it was a modern game. Maybe once EQ II winds down I'll get to one or the other.

    2. I imagine you'd enjoy it. A lot of mmo players coming from a WoW background bounced off it back at launch ebcause it really was quite different then but these days I'd say most of those differences are fairly cosmetic, so it manages to feel different enough without being plain weird. As for the original, it always was basically a single player RPG with optional multiplayer and since it's been in maintenance mode it doesn't even change in the way online games usually do. It's as viable to play now as it ever was, if you can find the time.


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