Sunday, December 16, 2007

Guild Wars: Behind the Times

Right, I'm about two weeks late talking about this but, hey, your browser has a nifty little back button if you don't like it. So, for the past week or so there's been a special event going on. Not the long-awaited return of Wintersday, that's next week. Instead, there's been open access to the Eye of the North content. A free trial, if you will, for anyone who hasn't managed to purchase that expansion yet.

Now, I know I'm usually a stringent critic of the various promotions and special events that ANet holds. Those little weekend gimmicks they toss out seemingly with no rhyme or reason. But I don't have anything against open access or free trials or demos or whatever you want to call them. Think they're a fine idea, when you get right down to it. A good way of getting all those people who haven't bought the game a way to try it out, to sample it, and to encourage a significant percentage of them to go out and purchase it.

Since I wound up buying the expansion to get the BMP that's a group that doesn't include me. And not only am I well past caring about money in Guild Wars, I'm also past caring about experience. Simply put, I've got all the skill points I'll ever need already and I'm not in a big hurry to go out and grind out more. So the triple XP for completing the storyline quests doesn't exactly scream out to me either. I'll note that it's only a bonus to those storyline quests, the instanced ones that you need to get through to beat the abbreviated campaign, and not the primary quests that lead you to them or anything else in the frozen north.

Now, an increased gain to the various faction would have had me trying to squeeze in as much playtime as possible. Even though I really only know of one good way to grind out the points and that only for the Norn. Who are probably the most inconsequential of all the rep tracks - if you don't want to run around as an Ursan, I guess. And if you think there's anything that's going to get me to play the Vanquishing game (Outside of a ticket to take a the supermodel of your choice on an all-expenses paid date complete with a ride in a gold plated rocket car that you then get to keep, of course. I mean, I'm crazy but I'm not stupid.) then you don't really know me very well. I am enjoying the increased lockpick drops, though. Definitely a plus especially since they crop up in normal mode, too. Mostly, I've been using the event as an excuse to get my many character to and through the Shiverpeaks.

At the moment, I'm down to a few more demi-missions in the Asuran lands which I've saved for last because I hate those little buggers so much. Really, I cannot convey just how much they annoy the living fuck out of me and how much I wish I could just go around tagging them KOS and how disappointed I am there's no quest that lets you slaughter them by the dozens (Ah well, there's always GW2.). And then it's on to the Great Destroyer cycle with my Ranger, my Sin, my Ele, and my eponymous Warrior. Although I think I'll stop and pick up Pain Inverter first. It's really the quickest way to kill the Great Destroyer. Breath of the Great Dwarf comes in really handy, too, but I already have it (Well, for the most part. But, then, it's not like I'm going to be casting it with my Warrior anyway. No, I'll just have to run dual Extinguish or something and hope for the best.). For whatever reason Destroyer Cores have been dropping pretty regularly this weekend. I suspect it's an undocumented change to the drop tables to help out all the people trying the content out - you want them getting Light of Deldrimor and using it in dungeons pretty easily, after all - because they sure were harder to come by when I was doing this with my Monk.

About the only thing I don't like about the weekend is the blessing that lets sub-twenty characters roam around a place supposedly designed solely for lv20 play. No, not the very idea that lower level characters can sully the palce with their presence. I actually have no problem with that whatsoever. If it means more people around to group with or enjoying themselves then, then why should I care? It actually turns out to be pretty good for someone like me, too, as it means an easier time for any alts. Get them to the subway quest, get them to Gunnar's, and level them up real quick with Kilroy's dungeon brawl, and more. And then go back and play whatever else with a bunch of useful PvE-only skills. Not that getting to level 20 was a huge hurdle before but it means more options and I'm all for that. The max level weapons that they pass out at the front door are pretty good for equipping Heroes with, too.

No, what I don't like is the blessing itself, Journey to the North, which sets your health and armor and attributes to that of a lv20 character. By the way, first line of the description? "Don't stop believing." Which is the kind of mad genius that I love. What I don't love, though, is how it treats your attributes.

Basically, you get a 12/9/9 layout. A 12 in the attribute req of whatever weapon you're using. 9 in your primary attribute. 9 in the attribute of any skill in your bar that's not tied to those first two. And, then, another 9 if you haven't reach three attributes yet. Which could conceivably happen if, say, you happened to be using the bonus hourglass staff which is tied to your primary attribute, for example, as I was with my low-level Rit. That way you end up with 12 in your primary and two 9s depending on what you've slotted. No matter what. It sets those attributes to those points and there's nothing you can do to change them. No bonuses, no items, no skills like Glyph of Elemental Power, for example, can raise them (Although Weakness seems to still lower them). Not even runes. So, if you've sunk some money into an attribute hat and fitting out your armor then you're boned.

That's because, while 12/9/9 takes up a lot of attribute points. 193, to be exact (97 for the 12 and twice 48 for the 9s. This is basic GW knowledge, not that you'd know from looking at teh attribute panel or anything.) or, in other words, a point total you can't get to until you're lv20 and have done both your AP quests. But, by lv15 you should have 95 points to play with already, even if you haven't done those quests (With them you hit that point by lv13), and that means you have enough to set one of your attributes to 12 and then rune it up past that point. I wouldn't, you know, walk around with a Superior with that low amount of health but a hat and a rune puts you at 14. And as you gain more levels you get to the point where you can run two attribute builds that put you at points above 12 and 9 after your runes. That's only 145 attribute points, after all (Again, without attribute quests, that's lv19. With that's lv17. ), and if you're doing the smart thing and concentrating on only one or two lines as you progress then that's all you really need.

I mean, yeah, there's no way to do this that doesn't screw someone over and it's a problem that disappears quickly. But, dammit, I'm pissed because I get 12. In Spawning Power. Why? For the love of god, why? And, along the way, I lose precious points on the things I do want like Splinter Weapon. There's a workaround where you equip a weapon, any weapon, with the attribute you want to max and then switch back to something you can actually use once you get in zone but still. Just...aggravating. Oh well, won't be long until Wintersday and the real fun arrives. And I should start earning enough Balth points to try out that new-fangled chest...

Off to see how far I can get before the weekend ends.

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