Wednesday, January 11, 2023

At It LIke Rabbits - Again

Once again, news of a festival brings me back to a game I wasn't planning on playing. This time it's Guild Wars 2

A few years ago, I recall complaining about the paucity of holiday events in GW2, which at the time had only three or four annual celebrations in its calendar. It's entirely possible I didn't know when we were well off.

These days, it still only has half a dozen but as a glance at the schedule on the wiki reveals, they still manage to take up most of the year:

  • Lunar New Year - Late January to Early February
  • Super Adventure Festival - Late March to Mid April
  • Dragon Bash - Early to Late June
  • Festival of the Four Winds - Late July to Early August
  • Halloween - Mid October to Early November
  • Wintersday - Mid December to Early January

All mmorpg festivals can be enervating but Tyrian celebrations sometimes feel more exhausting than most. 

When you're playing regularly it's easy to ignore the incipient insanity of repeating the same activities dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times, just to be able to put a line of text under your name that tells people you've done it. It's possible to tell yourself it makes sense to spend hour after hour earning special currencies to buy costumes you'll wear for a few days at most, then never want to see again. It somehow makes sense to open parcel after parcel in the vaguest hope that, just once, there might be something worth having inside.

When you take a break and come back, though, it's harder to pretend that any of what you're doing is reasonable, let alone rational. Take the holiday of the moment; Lunar New Year.

I've always liked this one. It's probably my favorite. It's certainly the one I've put the most consistent effort into over the years. 


I log in all three of my accounts and buy my daily allotment of eight lucky envelopes for each of them. I spend a while buffing one character up to the highest level of Luck I can manage, raiding my banks for food and boosters, setting off fireworks, trailing round the likeliest busy areas in search of Community Bonfires; all the little tricks and wrinkles that come with having played a game for a decade.

Then I pass all the envelopes to that one character, who opens them all in the expectation of turning a small a profit and the hope of finding one of the season's rarities. I could easily make more money by selling the envelopes on the Trading Post, where they start out somewhere around 1.75 face value and almost never drop much below 1.3. 

If I did that, though, I'd do myself out of the fun of anticipation. It's the second before you open the envelope that counts; that fleeting, Schrödinger moment, when there could be anything inside. It's not, after all, that there's ever anything in there I'm actually going to use. I just want the warm thrill of knowing I bucked the odds and got the prize. The prize itself is just another piece of clutter.

Things would be very different if ArenaNet ever gave away anything worth having but there's precious little chance of that. They are, without any question, the most abstemious of gifters among mmorpg developers. Every other game I've played has better freebies.

Like the process itself, though, the prizes come to seem acceptable through a process of acclimatization. You could call it Stockholm Syndrome. Stick with the program long enough and even a truly horrible back item that clips through every character model somehow acquires Must-Have status.

Speaking of which, I hesitate to make the assertion without all the evidence but preliminary findings suggest that, for the first time ever, this year's lantern backpack might just eschew the worst of the traditional excrescences to display almost normally. I got one out of an envelope today and in the Dressing Room view, at least, it looks subdued, neat and balanced. 

It barely clips with my staff at all. Even if it does look as though I've threaded the staff between the rabbits and the frame, that's at least something I can imagine having done on purpose. 

Of course, that's just the regular version. The Grand Rabbit Lantern, no doubt, will have some dangly bits. The big ones always do, else how would you know they're better? I'll wait until I get one of those before I adjudge the thing fit to wear.

And I will get one. I only logged in today to refresh my memory on the event. I told myself I would, for sure, not fall back into the habit of cycling all my accounts every day for a few weeks just to maximize my envelope-opening potential. At most, I decided, I'd keep it to a single account.

That lasted all of five minutes. The best compromise I reached with myself was that I wouldn't spend ages trying to squeeze the last few percentage points out of my Luck stat by setting up a dedicated envelope opener. I'm going to open everything on my regular character, my primary Elementalist, and if she's a few points short then so be it.

Even so, things don't bode well. The brief time I'd marked out for the project stretched from a few minutes to nearly an hour. The lines I'd draw for myself became blurred then wore away completely. I did the mount race around Divinity's Reach on all three accounts and since I had them all on I started opening their mail as well.

That's how I found a very unexpected and rather exciting surprise. It may even be a bug. I'm really not

Back in October, ANet ran a promotion to encourage opt-ins to their official Newsletter. The bribe was a 24-slot bag, something really quite desirable. I checked all my accounts to make sure they were signed up to the newsletter, which they all already were. I was covered but there was going to be a wait. The offer warned "please allow several weeks for delivery."

Well, several weeks have passed. I haven't been logging in much - or at all in the case of two of the three accounts - and I'd completely forgotten about the bag so it was a nice surprise to find one waiting in each of the three mailboxes. And an even nicer surprise to discover one of the accounts had been sent two of them.

It was on the account I'm least likely to play but that's also the account most likely to benefit. I have people on the other two who can craft large bags, albeit at horrific cost, should I ever feel the need.

However it's fallen out, the feeling of getting double something for nothing is very warming on a cold, January day. Maybe it's something I shouldn't have or maybe it's a bona fide bonus for reasons I don't understand but either way it's mine now and I'm keeping it.

If ANet would give stuff this good away all the time, I would probably never have left. Until that happy day comes, though, I guess I'm in for a few weeks, just to open my envelopes. Perhaps I'll get lucky.

Oh, wait a minute... I see it now...

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