Monday, October 27, 2008

Guild Wars: I Am All That Is Newb

Sadly, other engagements meant that I couldn't spend as much time in the Brawl as I wanted. Of course, I wanted to spend 72 hours straight so maybe it's a good thing I took the time out to eat and sleep.

I struck with the Ranger the whole time. I'm starting to feel a bit overly comfortable with it and it might be time to switch things up and see things from another side but, as far as I can tell, the Ranger is still the top bar. It's got the entire toolkit. You might not have the best defense or the greatest damage or rank first in terms of self-healing but you've got it all in one convenient package. And, best of all, you get it at range making it easier to escape if it all goes wrong.

The strength of the Ranger is really on the split where, alone, they're almost invulnerable - as a Ranger you only die when you get careless. Any character, really, can take you out and you can always be ganged up on but if you're on the stick, you should be able to stay out of those situations or hit your panic button and kite away. Unfortunately, it's getting harder and harder to split. It seems like most teams, especially the successful ones have figured out how to stick together and this mostly turns the Brawl into a miniature version of GvG - one massive scrum with the winner continuing to roll as they pick off the weaker team and, then, pound them again when they rez or at the next set piece. Personally, I like the format a lot more when it's not 5 on 5 and more about the individuals happening all over the place.

It might have something to do with the new map, which I finally got a chance to see. It's another 5 shrine map and it's the largest yet. It's set up like a large circle, with a track around the outside with one narrow path leading to a central pit running through the middle between them and another narrower path going perpendicular to that which leads from one side to the other but won't let you get to that central spot. Unlike the other 5-shrine map, which takes place between a shore and a burning woods, it's got a slightly different set-up of shrines - an Energy Shrine and a central super-morale booster replacing two plus pip morales. The big difference, though, is the placement of the starting bases and the all-important resurrection shrines. They're located across from each other at the bottom of the map, separated only by a single shrine. It makes for a lot of early combat since both teams can rush out to the same spot in close order. After that, though, the size of the map means that there's a lot of running around to get from shrine to shrine or to chase down a stealth capper or even just to mop up the strays. There are a lot of high vantage points but not a lot of good opportunities to snipe - the shrines are too far away for you to really set up shop and rain fire down on your foes and there are enough obstacles and impediments that your targets are going to be obstructed anyways (Meanwhile, you height doesn't really protect you from opposing casters who don't have to worry about line of sight). The large map also means that, if you get killed, it's a long run back to the fight and you might just get caught before you can join the safety of your team. As a result, the best thing to do seems to be to move as a group, taking care not to get separated, and work your way around the circle until you get close enough to your opponents. And, at the same time, the large size and difficulty in getting from point to point means that one opponent running around and keeping things capped while you're tied down with the rest of their team can be a real headache. You just can't kill quick enough, in most cases, even when you've got the numbers and those pips of morale add up.

I actually prefer the smaller maps, especially the smallest 3-Shrine one. Not only are there fewer enhancements cluttering things up, there's also a lot more opportunity to engage in the splitting and small scale fighting that are, to me, the real draw of the game. When it's a huge scrum then you just have to see who's teammates are best - who can follow targets better or who's going to throw the healing off first. But when it's one on one as the the teams are spread all over the map then, well, it's really a contest of skill and who can manage the game the best. That adrenaline-fueled moment of living on the knife's edge, of having to decide on the fly whether to push or break off, to have to juggle skills and range and terrain as you work to get an advantage, that's what I play for.

So, yeah. New map. Do not want. Looks pretty enough, though. Very Factions, if you ask me. Crumbling and moss-eating ruins in a remote, shaded forest. Cthonic, really. A place of quiet mystery and menacing suspense.

One things I'm getting sick of, though, is having to rearrange my skill bar every match. I really wish there was a way it could keep track of this for you. It's like this, I'm very particular about where I put my skills because, over time, I've trained myself to hammer certain keys by reflex. If they're not there then I'm just going to be all fumble-fingered misclicking everywhere. Early on, for example, I found myself continually running out of energy. At first I blamed it on the poor allocation of attributes - a bit less Wilderness and a bit more Expertise, if you please. But then I figure out that it was because D-Shot and Savage had been transposed. I'm used to having them in the opposite spot and I was running myself out of energy by relying on the more expensive Savage when I was meaning to D-Shot. But, of course, this was after I'd made sure to move them to where I like it, because the bar resets every time you zone. So, now, at the start of each match I have to very carefully drag my skills around until I'm happy. It means enough to me that my skills are in the right place that I don't have to think about them but it's a pain I'd rather not have to deal with.

Still, I'm up a ton of tote bags and a few hundred gamer points already. I'm at rank 4 so it's a long, slow crawl to the next plateau and I probably won't even get there. As for the Trick or Treat bags, well, I don't have much of a use for them and, since I don't play anymore, I don't really have a use for the money I'd get selling them off, either, so they'll probably just take up inventory space. I will say, though, that the faction flows cheap and easy in the Brawl. I've already filled up my bar a few times and dumped it off by buying up Zaishen Keys. Those, too, I don't have much use for but, then, I've been UAX for a long time now. For those who aren't or who are even just looking to level up, the CB is fast and a furiously good way of pumping their accounts up.

Also, fun. I'm not sure where I'll go from here. I'll likely try to steal a few more hours here and there to play before the end of the event. At the moment, I feel like experimenting a bit and giving the different disguises a whirl. But, either way, I'm not done with the Brawl just yet.

No comments: