Monday, December 17, 2007

Guild Wars: The Foretold Linkening Has Come

I now reach into my bag for that dirtiest of blogging tricks. That of passing along other people's content in lieu of my own.

I feel dirty.

But I also feel like I've missed a lot of things in the long, dark teatime of the solstice in which I've been lingering far too long. And that if I wanted to do them full justice I'd never get anything done. So, instead, I'm just going to pass along the links and move on. Works for you?

First, heard about this during the RAWR Cup coverage on the Weapon of Communist Choice (And, boy, do I want to tee off on that sometime.) and like most of these sort of things it's never going to find the eyeballs that really need to see it but, nothing ventured and all. Yue, one of the people who graciously donated his time and insight on the radio, put up a pretty comprehensive look at the Ranger over at QQ. Good for general theory, if you just want to know what weapons to run,a nd a nice look at the common wisdom in light of recent changes to some of the elites. I mean, really, the Ranger bar is pretty well set at this point, their role pretty well defined, and the devil, at this point, is really in the details. Like, do you want to run Crip Shot for movement control or Burning Arrow for pressure damage? Yue provides some good, objective reasoning for each and more.

Actually, most of the stickied threads in that subforum are worth a look. Just, you know, it's QQ so don't go too far in or else you will abandon your mind to the realms of madness. Sigh, I miss the iQ boards. I actually know of an alternative but I'm not sure if the link is public or not and I'm erring on the side of caution here.

Speaking of forum threads, here's an interesting one that a little bird pointed me to over at Guru. I tend to avoid the place because, you know, memories. I don't hang around with people after I break up with them and all, acrimonious or not, so make of that what you will. Anyway, it's a nice look at the problems with the Necromancer even though I take issues with the OP's assertion that the root cause is Soul Reaping. I think now that it's been set to reasonable levels and some other necessary nerfs have happened as well that a lot of other, unrelated issues have been thrown into sharp relief. In other words, I agree a lot more with Squidget. And, really, some interesting possibilities thrown about that bear some further thought - I'm rather taken by Two Tons' offhand comment about Blood Bond and the idea battery play for lack of a better term. But, really, that thread's worth viewing to see Chuckles go off on someone. Honestly, when I read posts like that I picture him going all Henry Rollins, veins bulging on his neck, screaming at the monitor, and he pounds away at his keyboard with righteous fury. Even though I know he's realy mild mannered and reasonable and is just calmly and methodically picking someone apart.

Someone seriously needs to do a "Who would you cast?" kind of thread for top PvP players. You know, what actor/actress/notable person would play, say, Trex in GWWC: The Movie?

I'd do it myself but you have to understand that I'm very, very lazy.

Ah, let's see, turning from the world of the PvP hardcore to someplace entirely different, I thought I'd throw a reciprocal link to someone who's been kind enough to place me on their blogroll and mention that I've really been enjoying the venerable Van Hemlock's occassional forays into the world of Guild Wars. Here's the latest which, as usually, details a bit of the campaign in the kind of breezy entertaining travelogue style that makes me reluctant to continue my own Dungeon Diving series. Because, you know, not worthy and all. But what I want to flag out here is actually the second half, which is also a pretty standard feature of these posts, where the author talks about an off-the-wall build he's slapped together and run around with. It's the kind of stuff that makes a min-maxing vet like myself gnash my teeth and go, "Gah, no, no, no! That's, no, you have a nice idea there but you need to tweak it and, oh my god, are you trying to run e-denial in PvE?!? I just...ah!" as hundreds of hours of playing forum warrior and theorycrafting combined with thousands spent starring at skill lists and guides and advice and discussions and... Well, what I'm trying to say is that I'm well versed in these things. Even though it seems like I'm not when I look at things like obs mode and the like, I've been following, playing Guild Wars on and off for nearly four years now and I've passed the dicking around with stuff and hoping it works stage. As such, I look at those builds and I can't help scoff at tryign to make things like Tease work.

Yet, at the same time, I can't help but look on with no small envy, as well. I think about what I'd run in Guild Wars compared to a game like Mythos or HG:L or, hell, DOTA where I don't know the common wisdom about what works and what doesn't, and even less what the fuck I'm doing, and I feel like there's something I've missed. The joy of it. The passion of dabbling with new toys and seeing how they fit together and what makes them work. Frankly, I miss it. My Bartle type, after all, if I had to pick one (And I don't really want to becauseI don't think I'm the sort of really hardcore MUD player that the test was designed around. Much as I'm loathe to admit, I'm much more casual than that. Part of the crowd that's been drawn into MMOs by the increasing mainstreaming of the gaming hobby. And half the questions on the quiz don't even make sense to me, while my answers to the others flip around depending on how I feel that day. Perils of statistical analysis, really, but it just feels to me that there's a better test waiting to be developed.) would be Explorer. Which would probably be surprising to the people I play with, they'd likely peg me as an Achiever or a Killer. But not if you consider exploration of a game's mechanics and concepts to be akin to searching out new areas and places to take screenshots and all the rest that I don't care for. Because, for me, it's really all about the experience, the knowledge, as I delve deeper and deeper trying to find, not the next level or challenge, but a better understanding. It's, for lack of a better term, meaning that I hunt for. But I suppose I feel that, along the way, I lose something. Some of the excitement, the enjoyment, that comes with that initial rush of exploration. The easy acquisition, if you will, of the surface information. Just as difficulty curves ramp up, so, too, does the insight required, the processing cycles needed to burn through in order to grasp that next concept and the next and the next beyond. And by the time I'm getting to the useful stuff, the effective tips and tricks, having learned what works and what doesn't, I've become paralyzed by wanting to succeed. To continue to run further and faster up that slope of understand and, above all else, not to backslide. So I don't throw a bunch of shit together and see what happens. I don't try things out. I experiment. I don't sample the possibilities. I test and compare the known quantites. It's about rational, thoughtful, ponderous detail instead of, well, fun.

I think back on my time in the test. On when I used to offer to test the build of anyone who'd bother to post at my forums. To dabble with them and report back to them and everyone else just for the sheer thrill of being able to do so. The discoveries I made, the synergies I uncovered. Or how I scoured through skill list after skill list trying to come up with the perfect secondary skill to fill out a bar. Landing on things like a W/N and Blood Renewal and how it was so great because people hadn't clued into the importance of regeneration yet (Of course, my idea of a Warrior revolved around what would come to be a split character. Someone reliable, resiliant, and able to work away from the group while others were working on getting the most out of their DPS. In retrospect, I should have been playing around with a Ranger but, who knew?) How, back in a time before we knew about things like Gale Warriors, I'd played around with improving my knocklocks with spell based stuff with a hammer and thought to myself, "You know, I really like Shock. I bet I could do something with that instead of Aftershock.". Because, at the time, people were playing and winning tournaments with their Aftershockers.

So, when Van Hemlock says things like, "I suspect that a N/Me, ramping curses to 16, would do quite a bit better than Me/N me, but once again, I find myself surprised at just how different I can make the very moment to moment gameplay of Guild Wars, all without having to start an alt, simply by giving the skill icons a damned good shuffle!" (Which, well, no. Actually, kinda. Depends on what you're doing, really. It's better than it was at relesae when you could mirror a Me/N and a N/Me and not feel the difference. Necros and Mesmers are two profs that don't really benefit as much from maxing out their attributes. If you're doing a Spiteful Spirit thing and trying to maximize your damage then, yeah, you need the runes. But, most of the time you can get get by perfectly well with 8~12s in Curses and Illusions for their sticky hexes. The extra seconds and points in their variables just aren't that important. While something like Fast Casting to reduce the hefty hand waving time of the unwieldy stuff can be. Of course, so can SR in the death rich PvE environment we're talking about here to fuel the casting of the expensive stuff. As, I think, Van Hemlock's discovered, anything can work and it's all about trying to figure out how. And, you know, whether or not you should bother in the first place.) it really hits me somewhere soft, like the warm glow of a fireplace dancing along the wall. Because that, right there, is what I've forgotten, what I've missed for so long. That's what I love about this game and why I keep coming back to it time and time again. Because it unfolds, chrysanthemum like, in new and unexpected ways. All under your control, if you have but the time and the patience.

Elsewhere in the world of people who blog about games much, much better than I ever will, the always charming Brinstar beat me to it but there's also this nifty Wintersday Advent Calender (Is that a hat tip? Or do I, like, need to put my coat down across a puddle or something now? Gah, I'm so bad at this e-ttiquette stuff...). Always love the community driven projects like that. So, Yeah. I'm fresh out of insight here.

But, yes, Wintersday is on its way. Goes live this Friday, the 21st. I'm actually a bit pissed off, actually. I could care less about the quests and the thought of spending a few hours making sure I get another set of hats I'll likely never wear again isn't exactly keeping me up staring at the ceiling, my mind abuzz with potential (I will, however, make sure I get plenty of DP-erasing candy canes. Those should come in real handy in HM and dungeon diving.). No, the real draw for me is the new PvP format. I loves me some casual play, after all, and the opportunity to further work on my Gamer track. And, although I had no rational expectation for it, I was hoping this holiday season would see the return of the Costume Brawl instead of the Snowball Fights. Reworked, maybe, with some new bars and a holiday theme, but that same basic gameplay. Instead, it looks like the same old snowball fights which, don't get me wrong, are nice and all. But having seen the glory that is the Costume Brawl it's hard to go back to anything else. And harder still to think that it'll be month and month before that format gets another chance to shine.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm still going to play it to exhaution. I've been reviewing snowball strat and skill descriptions already. I've even got my character all set up to take advantage of the format's oddities - things like +enchantment mods and runes of restoration still work, giving you a slight but still appreciable edge. To start with I'm rolling with what works so well for me last year, the Elementalist. Love the snaring, although I'll probably end up switching as the event wears on. I guestimate that I need to rack up about 250 gamer points a day if I want to just barely miss my next rank so I should be around plenty. Really, the only reason I did this is because I had an awesome Snowball Arena name float through my head and had to make sure I reserved it. And, yes, it is mine now.

Names are really important when I PvP. After all, if I'm going to suck, at least I can suck up the place with style.

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