Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rock Dog Best Dog : GW2

I can't remember exactly when it was that I first began to notice the rock dogs. Not the wild ones that roam the umber plains and valleys of Ascalon, nor yet the snarling guards of the ogre camps. Those I'd known forever. They'd long since ceased to feel bizarre or alien with their spiked and plated coats and their scimitar bone spurs.

No, these were pets, or so it seemed. Suddenly they were everywhere, flinging themselves on the deluded grawl at The Frozen Maw or leaping at the throats of invaders in The Mists. They'd fight ferociously for a while and then, as mysteriously as they appeared, they'd slump to the ground, curl up and fade away.

At first I thought they were being summoned into battle by a mass blowing of Ogre Pet Whistles, as used once to happen often when we battled Tequatl, but although the grateful Gortho, Son of Malik still sells his whistles on occasion, the Great Pet Summoning Items Nerf of '14 put them and their like squarely out of fashion.

If there was one person likely to know what was going on, I reasoned, it would be Evon "I was the favorite" Gnashblade. Arms-dealer, entrepreneur, failed political candidate and erstwhile civil servant, he's a charr with his sharp-clawed fingers in every pie.

And so it proved. There it was, on Gnashblade's Black Lion Trading Post, listed openly. Yours for less than a gold apiece (just barely): the Superior Rune of the Ogre. Scan down the set bonuses and you'll see it: "25% chance when struck to summon a rock dog (cooldown 90 seconds)".

In Tyria almost everyone has pets. Not just the peaceful minis that trail behind us humming and whirring and doing little dances, the princesses and pigs, the queens and the quaggans, but real, fighting creatures, willing, or at least compelled, to fight for us until they either die or vanish into the netherworlds whence we summoned them.

Some are the true pet masters and mistresses, the rangers with their menageries, the necromancers with their minions, perhaps even the mesmers with their clones. The rest make do with their assortment of short-lived assistants. Thieves get to call on their guild, elementalists summon elementals (well, what would you expect?), guardians fight beside ethereal self-wielding weapons. Engineers have turrets but until they invent the wheel those hardly count. Warriors...do they get any help at all? If so I can't recall what it might be.

If there's one thing everyone other than a thief or mesmer about to step into the shadows knows it's that when you're in a tight corner you can never have too many pets. Every biting, scratching, clawing, punching creature counts. For my money rock dogs count double.

Take that "25% chance when struck". It doesn't sound like much but let me tell you it can be a life-saver. Literally. If you're on the losing end of a fight one thing you can guarantee is that you're going to get struck - a lot. Frankly, unless you're one of those float like a butterfly types, you're going to get struck a lot even when you're winning.

Rock dog's procs rock. He's out far more than he's in. With a set of ogre runes you'll never fight alone. What's more he's tough. He can take a hit and dish one out and he hangs around. He's vigilant too. He'll leap to your aid whenever anything attacks you and if there's nothing left to fight he waits a good while before deciding it's time for his eternal sleep.

With a rock dog everyone's a ranger. Out exploring the wilderness alone, far from any chance of a drive-by revive, it's rock dog who stands between you and a trip to the nearest waypoint. There have been times, not a few, when I've lain there, downed, throwing my handfuls of dirt and cheering him on as he clawed something down, rallying me back to my feet.

It doesn't hurt that the rest of the stats on the Ogre rune are decent too. For a self-reliant soul not bound to the meta it's a respectable option even without the dog. With him it's almost too good to miss. At just under six gold for the set it's a far more affordable option than the similar, supposedly superior, Scholar. When a new member of the crew hits 80 and runes are being bought it's sometimes hard to look beyond the dog.

And, as I see rock dogs bounding into battle all around me, I think I can't be the only one who feels this way.


  1. This post is giving me a strange sense of déjà vu - I could have sworn you've written about rock dogs before! However, as I can't find any evidence that you actually have, I'm just left feeling weird... (as I don't play GW2 myself, I have no idea where I could have heard any of this before).

    1. I haven't written about them (I had no idea I was ever going to write about them until I sat down and stared at the blank screen last night) but I did use the tag "Rock dog best dog" as a picture caption a while back. Blogger's search function is pretty good but it doesn't find matches in captions as far as I can tell so that would never come up on a search.

  2. My character is feeling quite lonely at the moment as she only has her ranger pets and I do see everyone else with a mob of mini things trailing after them... She is only lvl 20 though, so time to collect mob still :) /rushes off to gw2 wiki muttering more pets than I thought...

    thanks - I had no idea that rune things could proc a battle pet thing :)

    1. There's a rune that procs a parrot and makes you say "Yaaaar" like a pirate. Rune of the Privateer that one's called. It's quite amusing but not much practical use. Not sure if there are any others.

  3. I was always a bit nervous about using ogre runes in WvW/PVP because the dog might give a downed enemy something to rally from. They're not fragile by any means, but with all the AoE flying around these days, they're likely to be low on health by the time a fight ends, and thus a good target for a downed foe to rally. I'm not actually 100% sure foes can rally from summoned pets like that, but there's enough other runes out there that don't have that possible drawback that I never risked it.

    Incidentally, nice to see anther resident of Yak's Bend. Hope you're enjoying our jaunt in T1.


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