Saturday, January 13, 2007

Guild Wars Nightfall: Progress Update Eight

Going to try and make this quick because, well, the clock's ticking on that free XP. As I mentioned (late) last night I've gotten 10 of the elites available including, even, some of the ones I wanted. Since I'm trying to maximize my playtime and I'm in full-on PvE mode, you're going to have to wait for me to go over them. Or any builds or anything – aside from removing idiocy from my new Heros bars, of course.

For those new Heroes (another goal of mine as I'm trying to bulk up for possibly trying the Hero Battles one of these days), I've gotten both Zhed Shadowhoof and Acolyte Sousuke the two Elementalist Heros (bypassing the already unlocked Acolyte Jin), and the Necromancer from Prophesies Olias as well as Zenmai, an Assassin from Factions. I'm feeling much better now about being able to build a team with those alongside the two Monks, Dervish, Warrior, and Ranger I already had. The bad part is that they start out not at the level my character was at when they were obtained but at some predetermined level. That's 11 for Sousuke, 15 for Olias and Zenmai respectively, and 17 for Zhed. And they don't level when they're not in the party so to get them up to speed I've had to party with lowbies. They do gain XP very quickly, though, and since I've been PvEing it up Sousuke and Olias are now both at 20 while I'm working on Zenmai and Zhed.

Here's what they started out with:

Acolyte Sousuke (lv11)

  1. Flare
  2. Liquid Flame
  3. Inferno
  4. Ward Against Melee
  5. Glyph of Lesser Energy
  6. Aura of Restoration
  7. Resurrection Signet
  8. Blank spot

Flare – the devs seem to love for fire eles, I have no idea why. Liquid Flames was a new one on me. Pretty credible alternative to Fireball. One nice thing about the Heroes is that they often seem to come with a skill to unlock. Nice little bonus. Inferno because, I guess you definitely want your Ele tanking. Aura of Restoration for self-healing which, yeah, there are Monks in the party so it's extraneous but it's not too bad for what it does, all things considered. GLE because that skill bar, of course, has absolutely no 15 energy skills so that's exactly what you want for energy management then. As opposed to, oh, Fire Attunement? Right, that would actually make sense. There is Ward Against Melee liks a good little ele. So, basically, a fire version of Herta the Earth henchie I'd been using. Just a little more damage with the attributes spread a bit thinner.

I switched things around. Didn't bother to record the attributes or anything but I dropped fire entirely and pumped everything I could into Earth. Got rid of the Fire skills, obviously, and put in Ward Against Foes to go with WaM – If there's an ele in the party in PvE the first thing I want them doing is warding. Left in GLE and added Earth Attunement. I switched him to an E/Mo and traded rezsig for Rezchant. Then gave him Heal Party for something to do inbetween laying down wards (using the leftover AP to pump up Healing a bit). For an elite I had no idea what to do so I gave him Unsteady Ground, reasoning that it would kick in a bit of damage while helping to keep melee pressure off my backline which would, to me, be the whole point of having a warder in the first place (I'm a sucker for cheap and efficient Ele spells, anyway). With one spot left over I threw in Aegis – another 15 en skill to GLE off and one that would provide an energy boost to my Dervish. Could have gone with another damaging spell or maybe found another high-cost healing skill for him to power out with his bigger energy store but you have to understand that I spend about five minutes thinking about this. So, he looks like this now:

  1. Ward Against Melee
  2. Ward Against Foes
  3. Unsteady Ground {E}
  4. Heal Party
  5. Resurrection Chant
  6. Glyph of Lesser Energy
  7. Earth Attunement
  8. Aegis

Works well enough but I find that he tends to run up and cast WaM which is just suicidal. Especially before he got some levels in. I'm really glad I took Inferno off his bar, by the way.

Olias (lv15)

  1. Animate Bone Minions
  2. Death Nova
  3. Resurrection Signet
  4. Shadow Strike
  5. Strip Enchantments
  6. Vampiric Gaze
  7. Blank Spot
  8. Blank Spot

That's only six skills, by the way. Anyhow, it's a pretty mixed bag of Death and Blood stuff. Vamp Gaze and Shadow Strike are decent enough for Nec offense. Death Nova is...not something I like but it does what it should. Strip enchantments is pretty awful compared to modern enchantment removal – I mean, I have Rending Sweep, Test of Faith, and others to throw around that make it look slow and expensive – it is, however, unconditional and a self heal. Animate Bone Minions is good for a minion master type but without skills to support those minions it's best used to fuel Soul Reaping. So, if I was running something like this I'd be concentrating on the damage skills with the minions Death Nova'd up as walking battery bombs.

Anyhow, I wanted something different – a real minion master. But I was surprised to find out there've been some changes there making it difficult to keep a lot of minions up almost indefinitely. I was around for when the number of minions was capped but I'm talking about the skills I automatically turned to being changed. Verata's Sacrifice, for example, used to last forever and now it's been nerfed into something almost unusable. Given how easy a good MM made some parts of the game, that's probably a good thing. I didn't want to spend a lot of time figuring out the differences so I just ran with the idea of making a lot of cheap minions with a cheap spike and tossed on a Monk secondary with a Rebirth and Aegis along with some points in Protection. And I slotted Animate Bone Golem as an elite – otherwise the build was pretty much unchanged.

That blew up in my face and despite wanting to keep Olias's build as brainless as possible I decided to make him a blood/curse hexer and have been rotating different hexes in and out to see if they're effective. Haven't had much success there either and I was pretty glad when Olias got to lv20 and I could rotate him out of the group. I think, though, that the next time I use him I can do something with a Ritualist secondary using him in a more defensive support role with a bit of a spike – if, of course, rit spirits still fuel Soul Reaping (something I always thought was a bit dumb.). Would help me get more familiar with the Ritualist skill list, too.

Zenmai (lv15)

  1. Unsuspecting Strike
  2. Jungle Strike
  3. Death Blossom
  4. Shadow Refuge
  5. Dash
  6. Return
  7. Resurrection Signet
  8. Blank Spot
  9. Blank Spot

Both Olias and Zenmai didn't come with any new skills which made me sad. Reminds me a lot of what I started out with a low-level Assassin in Factions – in other words, crap. Death Blossom makes me go “yay!” because it's one of the few ways a Sin has of doing AoE and AoE runs PvE, son. But Shadow Refuge when there's something like Feigned Neutrality out there makes me sad.

Since I had Shadow Prison sitting in my unlocked pile, I swiftly reworked this build to something better. Using Shadow Prison, I'm able to skip the lead attack altogether and that gives me room on the bar.

  1. Black Spider Strike
  2. Twisting Fangs
  3. Black Lotus Strike
  4. Death Blossom
  5. Rebirth
  6. Return
  7. Shadow Prison {E}
  8. Feigned Neutrality

It's a two dual strategy, something I like if I have the room because those are the real money skills with Sins – just usually gets crowded off the bar, though. Which is just a load of pain especially when there's another hexer in the party so Zenmai doesn't have to rely on Shadow Prison to get things started – but even then it's a quick burst of Poison with Bleeding and a Deep Wound to make that degen nasty or a good burst of AoE – and she seems pretty intelligent about when to use which. I left Return in because I figured she'd need an escape route if things got too heavy. And I switched to the Feigned Neutrality I've unlocked through faction (And, again, love that my Heroes get to use all that stuff while my PvE characters don't.) and it works fairly well – when she doesn't just go and attack to spoil it (So, I wind up hitting it myself and switching her to passive mode – lots of work but good training for the HB, I guess.). Again, this isn't the best of builds but my goal was to cobble together something that worked in a little time as possible.

An unexpected benefit of using Zenmai like this, though, is that she kicks out that Shadow Prison to start off and that lets my Derv get in an early enchantment strip with Rending Sweep – something I think I'll keep in mind when it comes to PvP building because it just might be a nice trick.

Zhed Shadowhoof (lv17)

Zhed started off as a Water guy.

  1. Blurred Vision
  2. Freezing Gust
  3. Aura of Restoration
  4. Ward Against Melee
  5. Ward Against Foes
  6. Resurrection Signet
  7. Blank Spot
  8. Blank Spot

Again, pretty much a Water version of the Earth henchie. But, you know, that's not a bad build, really, especially in a team that relies on some hexes. Anyhow, I just loaded the Sousuke build I'd stored earlier and was off and running. Again, not spending a lot of thought on this as I want to get out of town and to the capping – and, really, I could bull through the EAs I've been in with just about any assortment of characters. PvE is much more forgiving if you run with crap, after all.

Since I've progressed to the next mission I'm probably going to have to sit down and put some thought into what kind of team I want and who's going to be using what. Zhed's going to be required but, honestly, I don't mind a backline of two Monks and a warder. However, I'm probably not going to do that mission soon because looking at various mission guides it'd be a while before I reached a spot where I could get some new elites. And I've pretty well combed through where I'm at for elites.

So, it's now time to work on getting my old characters to the new campaign. There are a few skills in Consulate Dock that I might want to cap – specifically Master of Magic but I'll grab Magehunter Strike, too. Both are available elsewhere near Sunspear Sanctuary (like the Pious Renewal I went back in there to grab) but as long as I'm doing the mission I might as well make the most of it. The problem will be having an SoC when I get there because my older characters are all out of skill points. Hopefully, between the various quests to reach Elona and that mission, I'll be able to get some skill points (Because, I don't think any of the critters in the area will give me any XP if I try and farm them.)

That's what I'll be working on next, though, but first let's meet those characters. As I've said before, I'm insane and have four max level characters I've gotten to various points in the campaigns – they've alll finished their native campaigns but my patience for rerunning things is too easily lost for me to get them to the completion of others. The way I look at it, those missions are just potential skill points sitting there for me to go back and get one day when I need them. Anyhow, I have a Warrior/Monk, an Elemenatalist/Mesmer, a Ranger/Necromancer, and an Assassin/Ritualist to go along with my Dervish/Paragon (Hmmm, spot the pattern?).

And, for my own benefit if no one else's, I like to imagine they're all related. It's not like I've worked them up into a full fledged story or anything or tried to fit my little imaginary backstory into the game's lore but, hey, I needed something to do when I was running Gates of Kryta or the Wilds for the 50th time.

Anyhow, you've been hearing about Oreon's trip through Elona so now it's time to meet the rest of the Pepperino Dynasty (Oh, now that definitely gave the game away. Only one person's managed to guess where my name comes from before now – it's pretty obvious when you think about it.).

First, there's the oldest of the characters. That's the big bad Wammo, Sausaletus Rex. Eldest son of the Emperor he's been given a kingdom of his own while he waits for the old man's hedonism to clear the way to the real throne.

That's the Kurzick 1.5k armor he's rocking there. Had more than enough Amber (And Jadeite, for that matter. And enough of itto get the 15k stuff but 1) I'm not spending that much just to look better and 2) I actually like the way the less expensive armor looks, in general. It's cleaner and less ornate.) from doing the Comp Missions and I wanted to get a +health set so I decided to pimp him out (Have the helmet, too, I just have the display of it switched off, normally, because I usually just use the crummy looking +attribute helmets from Prophesies). He's got the +en Gladiator's set in his inventory. The mismatched boots are Knights which used to give a universal reduction to damage. I gather that's no longer the case thanks to the insignia system but I'll probably have to test it out before I make a switch.

Just for kicks, here's what his build looked like when I first logged back into him.

Strength – 8+1
Axe Mastery - 12+4
Tactics - 8+1
Healing - 7

  1. Dismember
  2. Executioner's Strike
  3. Disrupting Chop
  4. Watch Yourself
  5. Rebirth
  6. Healing Breeze
  7. Auspicious Parry {E}
  8. Rush

Pretty typical of what I'd run for getting missions and such done – offensively minded with a little bit of defense and disruption. Rush is useful to get on target quicker once a fight starts, I find, and less taxing on the energy pool than Sprint – it's not so good for running around, of course, but in a mission I find that by the time we've killed one group of mobs it's charged up and I can lead the way and gather aggro better while if I wanted to race away from the rest of the party Sprint would be the way to go. And, in any event, one hit with Auspicious Parry (Which was awesome before it got the recharge nerf.) and it's good to go. 7 Healing is the sweet spot where you get +6 regen out of Breeze and I like that more than Mending, say, because it's more healing when I need it and won't leave me open for a big shatter hit when I don't.

Next we have the lovely Elementalist, Milanius Regina who's in the family only by marriage.

That, by the way, is old, old school Elementalist armor. Dates from the Prophesies campaign and offers protection against lightning damage (Which, while it wasn't always the most common has built-in armor penetration mostly so it makes the most sense to have extra armor against it because you won't get as big a drop.). You can't get it anymore, I think, because the devs changed the bonuses on Elementalist armor with Factions. It was said at the time that there'd be a way to update old armor so rather than just buy a new set, I waited. Never saw it materialize, though, before I quit again. So, that's armor that needs updating so one of my priorities will be to get Millie some new armor to model.

Here's what she was using.

Energy Storage 10+1
Air Magic 12+4
Water Magic 8+1

  1. Blind Flash
  2. Enervating Charge
  3. Lightning Orb
  4. Blurred Vision
  5. Gale
  6. Aura of Restoration
  7. Air Attunement
  8. Elemental Attunement {E}

This is pretty typical of the PvP Blind/Blur stuff I was running at the time. In the Arena, anyway, where I wasn't likely to have those fat attunements stripped off and a self-heal was more important. The lack of a rez means this one's tricked out for Ashenwood, most likely. There, I usually liked to split off the main group and handle the amber runners or the NPC groups (Not having a speed boost, I'd say I was last playing on the Luxon side.)

Then there's the runt of the liter is Regina Pirouetta, the family's baby.

Not much to say about how she looks except that I really put the height slider all the way at the bottom, didn't I?

Expertise 11+1
Beast Mastery 8+1
Marksmanship 11+4
Dead Points - 9

  1. Barrage {E}
  2. Distracting Shot
  3. Savage Shot
  4. Bestial Fury
  5. Healing Breeze
  6. Charm Animal
  7. Comfort Animal
  8. Whirling Defense

Not sure why I don't have a rez – this isn't really something I'd want to use in, say, Ashenwood. Looks like a variation of my basic PvE build. Distracting and Savage not only do damage but with someone to buff me up with, say, Orders they do nice damage and can follow up Barrage quickly, letting me make a mini-spike of sorts and up my attack rate slightly.

When Factions came out, I discovered the missing husband of Millie who'd been hiding out in Cantha. While his big brother Saus had become a hulking brute he used his martial prowess to become a shadowy Assassin. And, thus, was Milanus Rex born.

I've said this before but that's some sweet armor he's wearing, isn't it? It's not a fancy set or anything, just the basic max armor 1.5k set just the skin that wasn't available in town – and those ones had skins I wasn't too fond of. I happened to be wandering around an Explorable Area with the requisite materials and ordered up a set. I guess most people missed it because I can't tell you how many whispers I got asking if it was a 15k set or something.

Now the build.

Critical Strikes 10+2
Daggers 12+1
Shadow Arts 8

  1. Golden Phoenix Strike
  2. Horns of the Ox
  3. Falling Spider
  4. Twisting Fangs
  5. Critical Eye
  6. Shadow Refuge
  7. Aura of Displacement {E}
  8. Dark Escape

No rez here means this is an AB or Ashenwood build. Pretty simple, really, and a lot like the gold standard of sin builds back in the day. AoD to warp to a target, Golden Phoenix to skip ahead in the attack chains, Horns of the Ox plus Falling Spider if they're alone for a quick knockdown and poison, and then follow it up with Twisting Fangs for a big hit with a Deep Wound that makes the massive degen I've just laid down even deadlier. Shadow refuge works out to a heal of 116 in 4 seconds which can go up every 8 seconds, not bad, really, for a self-heal. And like Monks these days I like Dark Escape as a movement buff for the added protection - getting in I can do with Displacement, it's when I need to get out that I hit that and haul ass. Oh, and Critical Eye is awesome. You not only crit more - which is great by itself for the extra damage - but you also get 3 energy a crit without having to spend the extra AP to get it. Wonderful for offense, great for e-management (as long as you hit) it is to Sins what Frenzy is to Warriors: standard equipment. For me, anyway.

These days you do this with Shadow Prison, Black Lotus Strike, and Feigned Neutrality which only makes it more awesome. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what I did with Zenmai.

And, of course, I've mentioned Oreon Rex before. Turns out he's a long lost brother sired by the Emperor during a trip to Elonia in his youth.

I also have a low level Monk who's married to ole Saus but I really just use her as a mule. Well, that's all for now. Time to get back to the salt mine.

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