Thursday, January 18, 2007

Guild Wars Nightfall: Progress Update Nine

You know, I had a big review of the weekend's grind planned out but you know what? I've just crumpled it up and thrown it away. It's been sitting in the back of my head for far too long and not getting done. And I'd like to get the log of my PvE exploits up to date before this weekend's fun rolls around.

So, if you're a fan of slapped together builds, don't worry, we'll be getting to those as well as a look at all the skills I found in all due time. For now, though, I'm going to be talking about my collection of characters. Each of which got a whirlwind tour of the areas around Sunspear Sanctuary as I hunted down as many skills as I could find. Except the ones in Arjok Ward, that is. For some reason, that whole area was a blank spot. I couldn't remember any of the skills that were in there and that made me miss out on one I could have grabbed. But it's a lousy Nec elite so I'm not losing any sleep over it. I've just been informed by the Guild of Lifeless Twinks Local #314 that I need to turn in my hardcore grinder card – I feel like such a failure. Me and my misfit clan of mismatched primaries and secondaries worked so hard, I thought I had a shot at keeping my license despite my lack of attendance.

Today, though, I'm going to be talking about those characters that I introduced (with screens!) last time around. If you'll recall there's hot Saus the Warrior. And Millie the model Elementalist. Reggie my baby Ranger. Secretive Milanus who showed up when Factions was released. And the new for Nightfall Oreon. But first, since I just figured out that I could post tables let's go to the tale of the tape. Here's how each one closed out the weekend:







Total XP






Skill Points






Total Elites






Elites Capped






Sunspear Points






That, by the way, is a grand total of over 5 million XP, more than 600 skill points, nearly 225 elite skills, and 13844 Sunspear points (I include them not because I care about them but because you can work out Hero Skill Points from those. Of course, there's no easy way to tell how many you have unless you go to the nearest Hero Skill Trainer. Why they don't show up on the Hero tab or something is beyond me.). And, of course, 36 new elites in my pile of unlocks.

It's a bit misleading, though, because of the way the different campaigns were structured. Saus, Millie, and Reggie, all date from Prophesies and, as such, have plenty of free skills earned from quests which don't show up in their skill point totals. Since Milanus is from Factions, he's got a bloated skill point score because of the free ones handed out as quest rewards.

Now, looking at the totals you might think Millie's actually my main character. She's not, that's big Saus. Millie and Reggie didn't even get finished with the campaign until my second go around with the game. Reggie came last, by the way, because low-level Rangers are rough. The lack of points for Expertise really makes things difficult, I've found.

Millie's got the most XP, though, because at some point I wanted to transition her from a E/Me to an E/Mo (At the time I created her, roughly a week after release, I figured that the Mesmer's ability to reach out and grab energy would help with the Elementalist's tendency to spend huge piles of it. If I had it all to do over again, I'd have made her a Me/E. But I'd already played one of those in the test and I wanted a primary Ele, so...). That, of course, took a lot of skill points which necessitated grinding out a lot of XP. She's also, of all my characters, the one who's most PvP capable. Not only do I tend to take up the midline or flagger Ele roles so I'm comfortable with her there but equiping her isn't as expensive compared to my other characters. That's a Warrior, a Ranger, an Assassin, and now a Dervish for those counting along at home. All of which need to invest in a lot of good weapons. And most of which are popular class choices so their runes go for a bit, too. For an ele, on the other hand, I just needed the supers for each element, a negative energy set, and a staff, and full energy sets for each element. I've got most of that by now and while I wouldn't quite take her into GvG (Not when I can roll up a PvP character with everything included in the blink of an eye.) she's rounded enough to fool around in the Arena or Aspenwood. You know, casual PvP. But you earn XP there, too, even if it's only a little bit at a time. And, well, it adds up. For PvP I generally stay away from Fire but in PvE that's what I gravitate towards – so Millie was rocking my favorite chain of Rodgort's Invocation to Incendiary Bonds to Fireball.

Saus, on the other hand, as you can tell has the most elites capped. And, let me tell you, there are some junky stuff he knows. I'm talking Elemental Attunement and Order of the Vampire odd. Because, you know, those Mantra of Recall Warriors used to be awesome. No, it's that once upon a time, Saus was my only character with access to the late game content and before faction rewards the only way to have an elite was to go out and cap it. My big bad Wammo still remains my character of choice for exploring around. Now that Millie's around, she's taken over gathering all the Monk stuff leaving Saus to unlock just the Warrior stuff. And anything leftover that I don't have the points for with anyone else. That's why he doesn't just have some odd elite skills, he's got some plain weird skills to find on a Warrior – like about half of the Ritualist skills from Factions, for example. I didn't get too fancy and just used a hybrid axe/runnng build with Auspicious Parry that's served me well in the past.

If Saus is my explorer, and Millie's my PvP character, then Reggie's my farmer. Never found a really good spot for her to crank out XP the way I have with my War and my Ele so she's lagged behind there. But when it comes to hunting down collectors or green items, she's my girl. She's also the one I'm most likely to take to any of the endgame PvE places like Sorrow's Furnace or Tombs or the Deep or whatever's ahead in Nightfall. For that I generally use a Barrage/Pet setup – my trusty Dire Lizzard “Very Gently” at my side (Always meant to get a Phoenix from Factions but never got around to it. Training up pets is a pain or else I'd be switching all the time.) and that's what I used over the weekend.

Oreon's just startingout but like Milanus he's made just because I wanted to start up a new character and enjoy the new campaign from start to finish. For the weekend, I kept his Melandru's build that I've been using so far.

That's my characters then and in lieu of a big write-up of the weekend and all, I'll just hand out some awards.

Hardest skill to cap. Searing Flames. Massive AoE damage and AI that likes to bunch up are not a good combination. Picture this, I run up with Millie and start waving my hands to lay down some Rodgort's pain as an opening volley. The henchies all crowd around and watch me, of course. My spell goes off, the boss turns around and nails us all with Searing Flames and then again a few seconds later. Bam, 200 points of damage on top of the burning. And that's when the Sandstrorms land. On the whole damn team. It only got worse as the DP mounted. I finally had to resort to henchie flagged the AI away then pre-protting to lead the group to them one at a time.

Skill that I had an easy time capping that everyone else seems to have problems with. Avatar of Balthazar. Seen no end of people shouting for a group to go hunting for it in Sunspear Sanctuary. Took a bit of effort what with storming that Fortress and all but, really? Not just that the skill's apparently too much for you to solo but you want it that badly? Really?

Best cap of the weekend. Searing Flames. So worth the pain of getting it. Went so nicely into my fire nuking build.

Most worthless green dropped. Killed 36 bosses and the only green I get? Korr's Focus. From the SF boss, of course.

Coolest moment of the weekend. A Land of Heroes. A mini-mission quest? Neat idea and a nice way of getting into the new campaign.

Lamest moment of the weekend. Having to do the Hero control quest four times in a row. And getting that massive 250XP reward each time. Joy.

Most annoying moment of the weekend. Playing as Milanus and realizing that the ninja Hero, Zenmai, was going to be able to use Shadow Prison. And I wasn't. I wound up going with an Aura of Displacement build that felt like it was from the Stone Age (Which was a nice one-two telepunch with Zenmai, by the way.) but I wasn't happy about it.

Most depressing moment of the weekend. Realizing that by the time I finish capping things in Nightfall, Millie's probably going to get the first skill hunter title.

Most frustrating moment of the weekend. Begging out of a GvG run because I wanted to finish capping.

Most rewarding moment of the weekend. Counting up my elites and realizing just how many I'd capped. And then working out just how much bonus XP that worked out to (36 elites or a cool 180k).

Biggest surprise of the weekend. Rezzing into Lion's Arch and finding not only are there now dozens of NPCs strolling around (Finally! I think I made the suggestion for something like that about five minutes after I saw Stormwind in the WoW open beta. But those NPCs just going about their business really makes the place feel real and not as static) but they've been given all new models. Awesome looking models.

Most skills capped. Oreon. Clocking in at 10 thanks to the many Dervish skills in the area.

Most professions covered. Millie. She capped the elites for Elementalist, Mesmer, and Monk.

Least professions covered. Saus. Only got the Monk skills. But since there were a lot of them around it all worked out.

Biggest discovery of the weekend. Figuring out that learning skills with Hero Skill Points also teaches them to the character spending them. Not just unlocks them for use in PvP and with Heroes like faction rewards do. Which, you know, had been how I thought they worked. I now don't mind all that Sunspear/Lightbringer grinding I've been doing (Although I need to start paying attention to those trainers and seeing what's available.)

Favorite new Hero: Zenmai. Awesome damage dealer, means I can roll with a party of four melee characters, and she lets me play around with all the cool Assassin skills. Dies an awful lot, though. Runner up: The Naruto reject Elementalist.

For the last two awards let me explain. There are two basic ways to hunt elites. The first is to run and avoid encounters as much as possible and carry just enough offense to down the boss and anything around it. Hug the walls, hit speed boosts, and basically act like one big pansy. The second is to start at the zone and march to the boss like Sherman across Georgia. Scorched earth policy, pave everything in your way.

Biggest Wimp: Saus. Never met a mob he couldn't run away from. Also holds the title for fastest to cap his skills thanks to his running abilities.

Best Killing Machine: Milanus. Whole areas of Kourna are now depopulated.

And there you have. Next time around we'll pick up where I left off as Oreon becomes the Horse Whisper.

No comments: