Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: The Mattsta-ry System

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. In each article I talk about one particular area of the expansion and what I thought of it. Today I’ll focus on Masteries.

Masteries are really interesting. They provide a way to get a lot of varied passive bonuses thought training each line. As you train through the line you get access to more bonuses or in the case of gliding upgrade the original bonus. I think the mastery system is really neat and could introduce a lot of unique things to the game that wouldn’t have really been possible otherwise.

That isn’t to say I think they are fantastic. The biggest concern I have with them is the simplicity of the entire system. Select a mastery track, earn experience and then unlock it if you have enough of the appropriate mastery points.

There are two problems I have with this simplicity. The first is the lack of choices with only four lines in the jungle—not including the relatively short raid-dependent line—and three lines in core Tyria. The second is the inability to choose exactly what you want to pursue.

With the way the mastery lines are set up, you aren’t really choosing a specific mastery but which line to make progress in. For example, I’m not choosing to work on ley line gliding but to work on the gliding track. This might mean that I’m actively working on the ley line gliding upgrade, but it could also mean that I might be working on lean techniques currently. Even if I wanted to be progressing on ley line gliding, I’m relegated to whatever upgrade is the current tier for the line I have chosen.

So while there are 23 masteries in the jungle—again not including the two raid masteries—you never have more than four options to pick from. If you are interested in getting the Exalted Purification to work on a collection, you can’t actively work on that until after you have completed Exalted Assistance—the mastery in front of purification on the Exalted line and honestly an almost completely worthless mastery.

I think the masteries would have been better set up more like a typical rpg skill tree. Instead of progressing the masteries in a predetermined line, players could forge their own path and select the order in which they want to unlock the masteries. This would also give more choice as instead of those 4 lines to choose between, you might have 20 individual mastery choices available to you.

Having this more free approach to the order of masteries would also allow for some better unlock management on the part of ArenaNet. Instead of the masteries requiring more experience and mastery points than the upgrade before it, masteries could be more individually assigned experience and mastery points.

I don’t like the way masteries ramp up each tier. While at the beginning this is a nice ramp into the line, the later upgrades end up getting a bit crazy. The last Nuhoch mastery—Nuhoch Alchemy—costs 12 mastery points and over 4 million experience, but is the least useful out of all of the Nuhoch masteries. With the more open system, masteries would be given the amount of mastery points and experience more relative to what the mastery is giving in return. From here players can start making their own choice, to go after the easier and cheaper masteries first or work toward the more expensive, but more useful masteries. This would also help even out some of those later masteries that while more expensive are comparatively not as enticing to players as some of the earlier ones in a line.

While I want this more open mastery tree system, I still think that players would need to unlock the first of a line before being able to freely choose. This is obvious for the gliding line in which the player would first need to learn gliding before continuing on to upgrade the glider. While the other lines are not dependent on that first upgrade in a line, they can be extremely useful—almost required—as they are all mostly focused on getting players around the jungle.

The real reason I want this first mastery to be the stop gap before pursuing the others however, is that I don’t want the first mastery in a line to be unlocked like all the rest.

Players go into the jungle and complete the first story instance Torn from the Sky which unlocks the entire mastery system for the account. At this point the player still doesn’t have any masteries. After unlocking gliding—which the game forces players to unlock first in the jungle—and continuing the story, the NPCs act like gliding is a super common thing that the player has always had.

I would have rather had these first masteries in a line be more connected to the story. Instead of talking to an NPC after unlocking gliding that makes it seem like a common practice, I would have liked to see an entire instance focused around why gliding is so important. Instead of making it seem like the most common thing in the world, have the pact also incorporating it into use alongside you. I don’t recall seeing any NPCs using gliders at any point, so there could be a story behind how gliding is risky and the pact has already lost enough at this point. The commander however, no longer has anyone to override his or her decision and can decide to take the risk anyway—introducing us to a jungle where only the player is ever seen gliding.

Completing this instance would instantly unlock basic gliding without need to go gain more experience or mastery points to do so. Now the rest of the gliding tree is available to choose and progress in. The other trees would still be locked until players did the relevant story that unlocks each line. Bouncing Mushrooms would be taught by the Itzel. Likewise Nuhoch Wallows could be taught by the Nuhoch—which would be a slight rearrangement as currently Nuhoch Hunting is the first mastery in the Nuhoch line. Exalted Markings is the first in the Exalted line and would make a great lore instance as you learn how to read the Exalted language and their history from the Exalted themselves.

While many of the lines are tied closely to the jungle—with three out of the four lines being named after one of the inhabitant races within the jungle—the mastery system feels far too disconnected from the story running through the Maguuma. While having all of the masteries tied into the story would remove any progression this system creates, I think they should each start rooted in the story before branching out into their own trees.

The other large concern I have with the mastery system is the future. I wasn’t really a fan of bringing gliding into core Tyria. None of the maps were specifically designed for gliding. While there are some areas that would be neat to have gliding, overall it was going to not feel nearly as awesome and useful as it does in the jungle.

The biggest problem I had with it was the idea of crossing the invisible line between different expansions. The masteries were set up nice and neat where masteries were tied to each region. These four lines are for the jungle while these other three are for core Tyria. While it didn’t bother me that core Tyria masteries were crossing the line—for example the auto loot from Pact Commander working everywhere in PvE—I thought the expansion masteries needed to only affect that expansion’s areas.

What happens when we get to the next expansion. Will gliding just automatically work in that expansion like how it automatically worked in Core Tyria? Speculation has us going to the desert to fight Kralkatorrik next. What if there is new potentials for gliding such as needing to train to be able to glide through large sandstorms or use dust devils to get height like updrafts currently do? Will players be required to go play the HoT content to unlock gliding before being able to learn some of these masteries in the desert?

With the separate approach, if ArenaNet did want to bring back gliding for the desert they simply add another gliding line for the desert region—something I was really hope they would do when bringing gliding to Core Tyria. Then if they had the story unlock approach for the first mastery in a line, they could explain in a story instance why gliding in the desert is different from the jungle.

A long time ago I talked about mounts in GW2 and how I think it should be something that only happens in a specific area. The desert was the area I was thinking about and masteries are the perfect platform to introduce them. If masteries don’t keep to their own regions however, sliding mounts in as a mastery might not work.

Then there are some of the other masteries which seem almost too good. Adrenal Mushrooms from the Itzel line seems perfect for raid instances and Nuhoch Stealth Detection is really neat for just about any open-world PvE area of the game. While stealth detection could be easily copied to a different line, how are you going to explain mushrooms from the jungle popping up in the middle of a desert? Of course you could always have something else do the same thing as the mushroom, but how long before there ends up being a ton of things in the world of Tyria that all magically do the same thing?

With all of that said, I really like the mastery system. It gives some really cool passive upgrades that wouldn’t have been obtainable anywhere else and really opens up the “what will they do next” speculation that wasn’t really available before HoT.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: Dungeons Need Revitalizing

Hello, everyone! For this week’s Guild Wars 2 topic I wanted to talk about dungeons as it’s been a hot issue in the past. Just taking a quick glance at the “Dungeons, Fractals & Raids” section of the forums shows that players are actually still talking about how dungeons can be improved.

ArenaNet released a blog post a week or so before Heart of Thorns came out discussing economy changes. In one section it was stated that the liquid—see Gold—rewards from dungeons will be culled and shifted into other parts of the game. It was also stated that their development time would be dedicated to Fractals and Raids over dungeons because that is the content they wish to progress on for Guild Wars 2. In fact, they stopped any new development on dungeons.

In a nutshell, ArenaNet wanted players to focus on raids and fractals over dungeons. This resulted in a 2/3 cut to the liquid rewards from dungeons by making the monetary reward per daily path run a gold and in some cases even less. So you can run Arah Path 4—a really hard dungeon path—but will get only a gold. The combination of the reduced gold reward with no additional rewards added and the reward shift into other parts of the game resulted in dungeons to have a significantly low player population. With Ascalonian Catacombs being the possible exception, dungeons do not get as much traffic as they use to.

There are a few reasons why I think dungeons need a bit of new life and should still be viable content in Guild Wars 2.

Number 1: Achievements. Not everyone has these dungeon achievements done just yet and there are people that still want to complete them. Sure, you can have a guild night where you run dungeons, ask some friends to join you or you could even pay for a dungeon run. All of these are viable solutions. However, there are times where you have some free time and no one in your guild or friends list is around and free to run a dungeon. There are people that don’t want to pay for a run and even then not every path will be available for buying. These are the moments where you use the Looking For Group tool to find a group to run it with. With LFG being utterly sparse with maybe one or two posts per dungeon, it’s harder to get all of those achievements done.

Number 2: Content for new and play-for-free players. Dungeons are one of core Tyria’s main content. If we look back a little over three years ago, dungeons were one of the main features to look forward to in Guild Wars 2. The dungeons not only provide different explorable paths but optional side story that ties in with your personal story. With new players coming in, I’m sure quite a few of them would want to view this story as well as try out the explorable paths. When I periodically take a look at the dungeon LFG, story seems to be the majority of the postings. If story isn’t the issue, then it’d be challenging content. Dungeons act as a preview to GW2 challenging content. Arguably easy content mind you but then fractals and raids come into play for the harder stuff.

Number 3: Dungeon Tokens. This one is pretty significant. The only reason to run dungeons now is to obtain dungeon tokens for dungeon specific rewards such as armor, weapons, runes and so on. People may want the look of a dungeon armor piece, some may want to complete collections & some may want a specific rune set for raiding. However, with LFG showing very few people running explorable versions of dungeons it makes it much harder to obtain these things.

Now a counter argument could be to do the PvP Dungeon Reward Tracks to obtain tokens. My response is that yes, that’s a good alternative, but dungeon tracks kind of adds onto the problem for lack of doing dungeons. First off, not everyone likes to PvP. Secondly, you have to complete the story mode of the dungeon first to permanently unlock it’s track. Arah is the exception where completing personal story (Victory or Death) or an explorable path will unlock it. If you wanted a specific track to level in PvP and you don’t have it you’d have to wait till it turns up in the rotation—a rotation which only opens one dungeon reward track for a full 2 weeks.

Lastly, dungeon tracks are essentially better than doing the dungeons themselves if you like to PvP and want every dungeon specific reward. It can even be doubly rewarding if ranked season is running due to being able to progress the PvP legendary backpiece at the same time. While I was originally running both dungeons and PvP, nowadays I will always just PvP over doing a dungeon.

Let’s take Asalonian Catacombs for example. If you manage to run all 3 paths a day that’s a 40 daily bonus for each path, 20 for the first run per path, then 15 and 10 if you ran it a 2nd or 3rd time. In total that’s 255 tokens plus some extra tokens that you can get here or there from loot bags from 9 runs a day.

If you did the Asalonian Catacombs dungeon track, it takes around 40 matches to complete where each win grants you about 3.5% for the track and each loss grants you about 1.7%—this example of completion in 40 matches is assuming 20 wins & 20 losses for a 50% win ratio. Once completed that’s a solid 240 tokens but you also get to choose a weapon every 2 tiers—for 3 total dungeon weapons—and an armor piece at the end of the reward track. Weapons range from 210 to 390 tokens each from the dungeon vendor depending on the weapon. Armor ranges from 180 to 330 tokens depending on the piece. So in one dungeon track completion you get 240 tokens and at least 1020 tokens worth in weapons and an armor piece. Note these tracks are repeatable so essentially you don’t ever have to set foot in a dungeon for the rewards.

If you wanted to get items that aren’t specifically featured in the dungeon track such as runes, then it’d be probably more efficient to run each dungeon path daily until you had enough tokens for a complete set than to play PvP.

To conclude, if you don’t have a guild or a few friends to run dungeons with, you’ll have to resort to playing PvP for the rewards. That however, doesn’t help with the dungeon clearing achievements or if you don’t play PvP. It also is odd that PvP dungeon tracks overall will reward you better than running the dungeon. New players will have a hard time trying said content or completing the achievements via LFG with very few players doing explorable mode. There were even veterans of the game that really enjoyed doing dungeons as their main content but now there’s no incentive for the time spent doing them.

Now I know ArenaNet specifically culled the gold rewards from dungeons, but it was a legitimate way some players made their income. Even if ArenaNet wanted players to run more fractals and raids, some players would still add their daily dungeons into the mix. I understand that fractals are the new version of dungeons that ArenaNet wants players to focus on, but I don’t see why crippling a part of your game where people liked doing it on a daily basis to promote another mode is a good thing. There are people who like running fractals already and it was pretty much guaranteed raids would be a hit if done right—and I think the current raid is excellent. If people don’t like fractals or raiding over dungeons, then they get punished as it’s just one less incentive for them to play GW2.

So how does ArenaNet make dungeons a little more viable? Increase the account based rewards. Throw in more dungeon tokens. A chance to get dungeon weapon boxes and dungeon armor boxes at the end of each daily path run perhaps? Maybe add more material rewards. This gives more incentive to run dungeons even if the monetary rewards don’t change. It won’t necessarily discourage fractals and raids since you still get more rewards out of those. I doubt we’ll see any changes to dungeons for the foreseeable future but I feel it is worth ArenaNet’s time to take a glance at the dungeon loot tables because dungeons need a bit of love, even if they’re old content.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Bucket of Elite Specs

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. So far I have talked about the personal story, the open world maps and their rewards and the guild halls, scribe and guild hall rewards. Today I’ll focus on one of the major features of HoT, Elite Specializations.

Elite Specializations are an extension of the 9 professions that players choose when first creating a character. When I was speculating what we were going to see with elite specializations months before the launch of HoT, I was thinking that elite specs were going to try and fill the gaps that each profession had. For Mesmer, I thought that this was a lack of straight offense on the right side of their bar.

What Elite Specializations ended up being however, was slightly different. Each of the elite specs offers a different game play, most of which were areas that the profession was previously missing. These areas fall into three categories—Damage, Support and Tank—and hybrids of these. Below are each of the professions and the categories I see them fitting into:

  • Guardian — Damage
  • Revenant — Support
  • Warrior — Damage
  • Engineer — Damage/Tank
  • Ranger — Support
  • Thief — Damage/Tank
  • Elementalist — Damage/Support
  • Mesmer — Damage/Tank/Support
  • Necromancer — Damage

Each of these I think are pretty good elite specs. The ones that fall short currently are Thief and Engineer as nothing really needs a true tank currently and Thief’s evasion tank might be too unruly to ever get much use.

There are other elite specs that while good missed the mark a little bit on what the class needed. Necromancer is a perfect example, as the class was missing some good damage output. The class however, is also missing a good way to support other players which is leaving it out of many raid compositions. While I really like the Reaper, it might have been better for the profession to get a more hybrid Damage/Support spec.

Then there are some elite specs which just end up being too good. Mesmer is the only thing on the list with three different categories, getting some nice damage boost out of wells and traits like Chronophantasm, tank through some wells and the elite specs shield and support through wells, the shield and Alacrity. What is possibly worse is that it ends up doing all of these areas really well with the right rotations without needing to spec differently for each category. I think ArenaNet might have realized this before they put out the strong nerf to alacrity which reduced some of the support that Chronomancers are putting out.

The other really strong elite spec is the Glint stance for Revenant. Being all upkeeps and boon duration output, the class is able to easily upkeep many of the boons that required specialized builds and rotations to get anywhere close. Get a Herald and a Chronomancer together and you end up with a powerhouse of party support that isn’t going to get replaced without some major nerfs or reworks. Even with the huge nerf to alacrity, this combo is still a must have for raid groups.

While I have not PvP’d much since HoT came out, it sounds like most of the elite specs are really strong. The only real downside to this is that some of these strengths sound like they come in the form of gimmicks with infinite bunker Chronomancers and “It’s a Trap!” Dragonhunters highlighting the cheese. Outside of these it sounds like the elite specs did a good job of shaking up the meta, though some more fine tuning could be needed to further balance things out.

I think that Elite Specs being a must have for most of the professions and feeling incredibly powerful is intended. While right now it almost gives a feeling of no choice, these are ‘Elite’ specs and should be powerful to match. A consequence that we haven’t witnessed yet is that you can only have one elite spec equipt at a time. I think the feeling of no choice is because there really isn’t supposed to be much of a choice there until we get the next round of elite specs. Instead of deciding between vanilla Thief and the Daredevil, players might eventually just be deciding between Daredevil and the Shadowknight.

The only major problem I have with the elite specializations is the process of unlocking them. Characters must have all of the non-elite specializations by spending hero points to unlock all of the core skills and traits for the profession. After this elite specializations are unlocked in the same way as core abilities, just put hero points in to collect all of the skills and traits for that elite spec. Outside of a unique weapon and armor reward for starting and finishing the unlock of an elite spec, the only real difference is that the elite spec requires a lot more hero points to unlock than any line of core abilities.

At 250 hero points, fully unlocking an elite specialization takes much more effort than the core abilities that would come out to about 85 hero points for a comparable amount of skills and traits. And this is the nerfed value as the launch of HoT saw players needing a whopping 400 hero points in order to fully unlock a single elite spec.

I like the nerf to the amount of the hero points needed for elite specializations. As ArenaNet stated when they made the change, players were looking forward to equipping these elite specializations and then going out into the jungle to face the new challenges. With a 400 hero point requirement however, players would have been left doing the opposite as they faced the jungle’s challenges before they had the points to unlock the elite specialization.

This change did have a few oddities because of it. Players now end up going into the HoT personal story on their brand new abilities just to see their NPC allies still rocking the core set of abilities for their profession. I think the NPCs slow adoption of elite specs was intentional to match the players similar inability to fully equip their elite specialization until after they had likely finished the story. I imagine by the time the next season of the Living World rolls out later this year we will see our NPC allies using the new specializations alongside the players.

The idea of having players take a while to get their new elite specialization isn’t too weird. I am glad they made the change to make them more accessible, but not because of any sense of time commitment. Going into an expansion you are going to have lots players that want to choose their own focus on which area of the expansion they pursue first, whether that be unlocking their profession’s new goodies, exploring new areas or rushing through the story. Many hero points being locked behind the new mastery system would have made 400 points challenging to do without first doing everything else. Those players that wanted to focus on unlocking the elite spec would have been out of luck.

Instead of requiring an essentially random number of hero points, I was hoping that unlocking the elite specialization would have been more of a driven experience. This could have been done in a couple of different ways.

First is the story driven approach, where each elite specialization had a short side story that they could follow which would slowly—or even all at once at the end—unlock their elite specialization. The biggest problem with this is the extra amount of effort it would have taken to implement. Not only would it have been extra story—and likely more NPCs and instances to tell that story—there would need to be 9 different stories that needed to be told.

The second is to have a collection for each of the elite specializations. Before HoT came out we were able to see a glimpse of the achievements panel during one of ArenaNet’s livestream. On the stream you could see that there was a new category for collections simply called Specialization Collections. My speculation at the time had been that players would need to go out and do things on a profession that would eventually complete the collection for that profession and unlock the elite specialization. As we now know, those collections were for the ascended version of the unique elite specialization weapons. Even the specialization collections were subpar to what I was hoping for in an elite spec unlock collection. While I think that this would have been easier than the story driven approach, it would have had the same problem of requiring much more development time to implement for all 9 professions.

What I liked about both of these however, is that they could have been set up to allow players more choice in where they focused their efforts. Instead of diving into the HoT story, I could have chosen to start my journey with the Mesmer’s Chronomancer story or collection.

It would have been really interesting to meet a hermit in the jungle that had a bunch of strange quirks but knew all of these secret techniques to improve our abilities. Even at its worst it would have been better than putting a bunch of meaningless points into a random elite spec bucket.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: A Brief Introduction

Hello everyone! I thought the best way to start this brand new column on Mattsta.Ninja was to give an introduction about myself.

My name is Age. Well, not legally I guess, but people know me by that name. I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 since beta and I’m a Thief enthusiast, hence the column title ‘Thrill of the Crime’ which is a trait in the Thief’s Trickery specialization line.

I have my own blog where I also write about Guild Wars 2, League of Legends, and other various topics. I also make videos—mostly Guild Wars 2 related—which range from highlights and thoughts to some that are just fun and entertaining. Finally, I stream on Twitch. I bet you can’t guess what the bulk of the content that I stream is! (Ok, it’s Guild Wars 2 if you really couldn’t guess.)

Now, about this column. ‘Thrill of the Crime’ won’t focus on Thief as some might expect by the name but will focus on Guild Wars 2 related topics. Some will be focused topics while others will be more opinionated pieces covering bigger topics such as new content ArenaNet puts out or things being talked about in the community. These bigger topics may even coincide with other posts on the site to offer a spread of opinions on a subject. And as a self-proclaimed thief enthusiast, you’ll probably see a few Thief related posts here and there too.

I think that’s all for now. Right now, I’m exploring the latest big patch and I’ll probably have something to talk about soon. Have a good week, and I’ll catch you next time!

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Guild Hall…Rewards?

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. Last week I talked about Guild Halls and the Scribe and how I think they are poorly implemented, something that ArenaNet at least partially agrees with as they have announced plans to make Scribing much cheaper in the near future. This week I’ll talk about the more personal rewards that can be obtained through the guild hall.

Part of the guild hall is the market district, which as its name suggests is filled with various merchants. For this article, I’ll focus on three of these merchants and their wares: the Armorer, Weaponsmith and Miniature merchant.

The Armorer and Weaponsmith are old merchants that are able to be upgraded in the guild hall. Previously only offering a few pieces—which honestly were not very appealing to any player—they now offer full sets of their wares after being upgraded. While the armorer has just one set for each of the three weight classes available, the weaponsmith allows players to make two different weapon sets that are tied to the two different guild halls.

The Miniature merchant on the other hand is an entirely new addition. This merchant comes in three tiers, offering more miniatures with each tier that the guild unlocks.

What is similar across all three of these merchants and their new wares, is that they are in no way cheap. While players can go and collect only one piece of armor or craft that one weapon, for the sake of this article I will look at what it takes to collect everything.

The first thing players are likely to notice about the prices is the inclusion of Crystalline Ore—a material gained from opening Noxious Pods in Dragon’s Stand—in the cost of everything. I remember after HoT launched seeing people complain about the elite specialization weapon collections requiring 50 of the ores for each weapon. Fifty of these is nothing however when you look at how much the guild hall needs to collect their rewards.

To get all of the guild hall weapon recipes—of which each weapon recipe unlocks both the Shimmering and Tenebrous recipes for that weapon—will run players 640 ore. Getting the armor recipes will cost players a little more at 730 ore, but the winner of the three is Miniatures which total a whopping 1150 crystalline ore!

Crystalline Ore isn’t the only cost to these either. Players will need to spend 160 guild commendation for the weapon recipes, 183 for the armors and again taking the lead is miniatures requiring 575 guild commendations. In addition to this is the monetary cost. Weapons and Armor need to be crafted which will put players back about 100g for the armor and 160g for the weapons from my estimation. Miniatures just flat out require gold to purchase them and will cost players 230g.

The cost of the miniatures is just crazy. I like that they have set things up for players to work toward, with different skins, miniatures and other rewards to gain throughout HoT. While players can pick and choose which to work toward, the only players likely to be interested in these guild miniatures are those who, like myself, want to try and collect all of the miniatures. Between the guild miniatures and a miniature on the Dragon’s Stand merchant being sold for 250 crystalline ore, it almost feels like ArenaNet is punishing miniature collectors. While I think the prices of all of the guild rewards are too high, the miniatures take the cake for being absolutely ridiculous. For the amount it takes to buy these 12 miniatures, I could finish both the 18 armor skins and 32 weapon skins and still not have spent as many guild commendations or crystalline ore.

Weapons are also unforgiving, but not because of the cost of their recipes that you buy off the merchant. Part of the crafting cost of these weapons are the Guild Commendation weapons. To make a Shimmering Sword for example, you need to buy the Guild Spatha sword skin for 3g and 5 guild commendations. To make the Tenebrous Sword you will need another Guild Spatha for another 3g and 5 guild commendations. There are players—myself included—that bought these long ago to collect for the wardrobe. While I might have some laying around on various characters, I imagine most of them I had thrown out or forged long ago.

That’s 89 guild commendations I wasted. Buying them now to make the new guild hall weapons will unlock the guild commendation skins in the wardrobe in the process. Players who already had them unlocked in the wardrobe already, but no longer have the actual weapon, are going to need to rebuy them again. Instead of buying each weapon twice for the two guild hall weapon skins, they are going to end up buying the old guild commendation weapons for a third time.

Even if you had never purchased them before, buying the guild commendation weapons twice over just doesn’t feel good and adds even more cost to making these weapons. With Heart of Thorns we saw the introduction of weapon collections, namely the Machined weapon set where every weapon in the set has its own unique collection. I don’t know why they didn’t apply this same treatment to the guild hall weapons.

With the collection approach everyone would end up on the same cost field. Players like myself who had previously purchased the guild commendation weapons would already have that part of the collection done. Other players would just be catching up to the cost by buying the weapons for their first time as well. It also removes the pretty crap feeling of buying the commendation weapons twice just to be fodder in making a different weapon. With the collection approach I would buy that Guild Spatha once and it would unlock that part of both the Shimmering Sword and Tenebrous Sword collections.

The rest of the collection could then be very similar to the way the Machined weapons are set up. There could be an item from each of the map currencies that much like Machined weapons would cost 250 of each currency but would unlock for both the Shimmering and Tenebrous collection for that weapon.

The recipe would still be something you would need to buy from the merchant in your guild hall and would work in two ways. First, buying the recipe would unlock both the Shimmering and Tenebrous collection for that weapon and allow for the map currency items to become unlocked and available for purchase. Second is that the recipe item would unlock 4 different recipes. When crafting a weapon you need two different components, for example a Sword Blade and a Sword Hilt. It is here that the two collections would be different as the Shimmering Sword collection would require you to make a Shimmering Sword Blade and Hilt while the Tenebrous Sword collection would need a Tenebrous Sword Blade and Hilt. These components would be the same as making the normal version of these components—possibly their oiled counterparts—but would have the additional ingredient in the Shimmering and Tenebrous crystals.

This would create a lot of collections which I think are really awesome, but would easily fill up any collection section. Much like there is a separate category for the specialization collections, there could be a new weapon collections category that would include the Machined, Shimmering and Tenebrous collections for each weapon. Honestly this should have probably existed for just the Machined weapons, as the Basic Collections category was already getting to be too full before they added 16 collections for the machined weapons.

Out of the three reward types coming from guild halls, I think that the guild armors are the closest to being in a really good spot. At 183 guild commendations and 100g, I think the armors sit in a pretty good place. I wouldn’t mind that guild commendations value being a little lower—maybe around 125—but it isn’t overpriced in my opinion. Like I mentioned in an earlier Scrying Pool, I like that there are items and rewards to work toward.

The Crystalline Ore price is the only thing truly terrible about the guild armors’ cost. While crystalline ore is technically more readily available than guild commendations due to the latter’s weekly limit, I think that the crystalline ore for all of these should be closer on par to the guild commendation pricing. Currently you need 4 times the amount of crystalline ore over guild commendations for both the weapon and armor recipes. I think these rewards would be better situated if the ore to commendation ratio sat around 1.25:1. This would bring the armor cost down from 730 to about 225 and the weapons from 640 to 200. These are both more reasonable and much less daunting for players to slowly work toward.

This ratio for the Miniatures would still cost about 725 crystalline ore, but again the pricing on the Guild Hall Miniatures is just all around stupid. #ANetPls

New Year Feature

Lunar New Year Achievements

Most of the Lunar New Year achievements this year are focused around Dragon Ball. These include completing matches, collecting various upgrades and health around the map and interrupting enemies. Outside of Dragon Ball there are two festival achievements with Light up the Sky and Firecracker Finder.

Firecracker Finder

This achievement needs you to go and find all 10 of the firecrackers found around the Crown Pavilion in Divinity’s Reach. These reset daily—as there is a daily festival achievement to use 5 of these firecrackers—so it is best to do all 10 within a single day. You can find a map that shows the location of each firecracker as well as a video below. Note that this patch adds gliding in core Tyria, making some of these much easier to acquire. Gliding is not required however, as long as one has access to your profession’s falling damage reduction trait.

Light up the Sky

This achievement requires players to shoot off 100 total fireworks. While the achievement specifically mentions Lunar New Year fireworks, any fireworks that is a bundle item will count toward this achievement. One option is to go to Rata Sum and buy a fireworks bundle for 32 copper from Pyromaster Zarrt, which will let players finish this achievement in a quick and easy manner.

Eldvin Monastery Brew of the Month Club

This collection will have players savoring a collection of brews year round. Each month after players first enter one of the major cities, they will receive that month’s brew in their mail. These brews however, are only sent to members of the club. To sign up for the club—and unlock this new collection—players will need to go talk to Master Brewer Desch at the Eldvin Monastery in Queensdale. Membership to this club will incur a one-time fee of 10g. Completing this collection—which will take all year as long as players stay active with the game—will reward a new backpack (shown below) and the Finely Crafted title.

The Shatterer

None of the achievements for the Shatterer seem all too difficult. The only one that might be a challenge—and is also the only achievement requiring the use of gliding—is Lightning Reflexes. This achievement requires you to dodge the Shatterer’s Focused Lightning attack 40 times total while gliding. I so far have done this 3 times by complete fluke. Most of the rest look to be fairly easy, though having gliding will make some easier purely by not having to worry about other players already being on mortars and turrets to do achievements like Medic! which has you throwing med kits to allies. The meta-achievement requires completing 10 of the 11 achievements, so players without gliding will still be able to complete the meta. Some of the other achievements will require teamwork, such as No-Fly Zone requiring players to break the Shatterer’s Defiance bar 20 times.

New Year Feature

Winter 2016 Update Launches Today!

Today is the release date for the Winter 2016 Update in Guild Wars 2. While the patch includes the much anticipated balance changes for the game, the stars of the patch are reworked Shatterer encounter and the return of the Lunar New Year celebration.

The Shatterer encounter is seeing a much needed improvement to one of the first revealed encounters of the game. While having a storied history, the encounter has long since been a trivial fight as many safe zones kept players from ever having to worry about being defeated by the large dragon. Players will soon find out that there is no safety from the Shatterer’s attacks anymore and that getting hit by the attacks can be devastating. The lead developer for the Shatterer said that he didn’t improve the damage on the Shatterer’s attacks but that players just never were getting hit by them before.

Alongside being able to hit players with his massive attacks, the Shatterer is getting a few new tricks. One mechanic players will have to deal with are pulsating crystals that will quickly heal the Shatterer. Destroying the crystals will require players to break the Defiance Bar on each crystal before being able to damage them. Each crystal destroyed will weaken the healing down with each pulse until all of them are destroyed.

While the Shatterer is getting some big improvements, players are getting some new tools to fight as well. The old siege weapons near the Shatterer encounter have been improved and made easier to use. Jump pads near the siege will get players into the fight. Players who have unlocked gliding can use the jump pads to glide, automatically gaining a new gliding bundle that will help damage and heal allies. Both the siege and gliding bundle will additionally help break any defiance bar, something that seemed incredibly effective to use on the pulsating crystals.

Overall I think the encounter is really good. While the encounter isn’t too incredibly difficult—purposefully being weaker than the Tequatl encounter—it still is very fun and engaging. The fight isn’t seeing any new or unique rewards as far as I know outside of the new backpack skin available by completing the meta. Even the achievements are really well done, pointing out and rewarding tactics and opportunities for use throughout the fight.

The Lunar New Year is back this year and like the other holidays comes in mostly the same form. Most of the holiday activities focus on the return of Dragon Ball, a small pvp match with unique skills and combat. Divinity’s Reach is once again the focal point of this holiday as the decorations return, albeit updated for this year’s animal the Monkey.

Much like last year, players can open up Lucky Envelopes for the chance at riches, food, essences of luck and two new Monkey themed backpacks. Little and Homemade Lucky Envelopes can be gained from doing daily and festival achievements while Divine Lucky Envelopes can be bought from the holiday merchant.

An addition to this year is a new item that will let players convert a new Monkey backpack into a ram backpack for those players that were not around for last years festivities.

Outside of the Shatterer and Lunar New Year are a host of smaller updates including gliding in Core Tyria, Commander and Squad upgrades and small quality of life changes to game options, keybindings and fractals. Lastly is the Eldvin Monastery Brew of the Month Club which players can subscribe to monthly brews sent straight to their mail. Players who collect all 12 will get a title and new backpack.

For some help on the new achievements in this patch, check out the Lunar New Year Achievements here on Mattsta.Ninja.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Ancient Sylvari

Note: This article was originally released on and has been re-hosted here on Mattsta.Ninja.

In Guild Wars 1 there was a scrying pool located at the back of the Eye of the North. Periodically players would be led back to the pool throughout the story of the expansion, to gaze into its depths. During those moments, visions would be shown to the player revealing information of the fight to come.

Much like the scrying pool in Guild Wars 1, this column will gaze intently (but not creepily) at Guild Wars 2 and look at what could come to pass. I have no insider information, just all the information that the community has at its disposal. As such, any and all future telling should not be considered confirmed, destined or pre-ordained, just a “What If” look at things like lore, story and even game mechanics that very well could, or maybe won’t, come to Guild Wars 2.

For our first journey through the looking glass of The Scrying Pool we will be looking at the Sylvari.

Do be forewarned, SPOILERS for the Sylvari personal story lie herein. 

The Sylvari is a race of humanoid plant people born of the Pale Tree. While the race is less than 25 years old at the beginning of Guild Wars 2, the tree that gives birth to the Sylvari was planted from a single seed over 250 years ago.

That seed was not the only seed of its kind however. Ronan, a human fighting with the Shining Blade, happened across a cave in the jungle that was full of strange seeds. He left with one to show his daughter only to find both his wife and daughter slain by the Shining Blade’s enemy. In despair he threw down his weapons and planted the seed upon their graves.

Sylvari Characters that chose the Where Life Goes, So Too Should You option during character creation are given an interesting story arc at level 11. In this story arc you meet a strange Sylvari who seems to have lost his memory. As you journey and help him, you come to discover that Malyck is not born of the Pale Tree but another tree believed to be somewhere in the Maguuma Jungle. So the Pale Tree appears to not be the only tree that has grown from the seeds in the cave.

It is hard to know whether Malyck is indicative of the Sylvari from this other tree. He knows nothing, was separated from his tree before his birth, and apparently is not connected to a dream. Being a completely different and previously unknown tree they wouldn’t have grown with Ventari’s Tablet, something the Nightmare Court had hoped would make those Sylvari more susceptible to falling into Nightmare.

One thing that the Ventari’s Tablet doesn’t explain about the Sylvari’s nature, however, is their desire to fight against the Elder Dragons. While Primordius and Jormag awoke before Ventari died, neither awoke anywhere near the sanctuary where Ventari kept watch over the growing tree. So why then do the Sylvari desire to fight the dragons and why are they immune to their corruption? Even Malyck who knows nothing still wants to fight the dragons and promises to bring back an army from his tree to fight them.

In the time old conundrum of the chicken and the egg, there is always one chicken and one egg. However with the Pale Tree there was an entire cave full of seeds. What if the Sylvari is not actually a new race, but a time forgotten one thought to be extinct?

The sole knowledge of races since the last cycle of the Elder Dragons mentions only the survivors: Dwarves, Mursaat, Seers, Jotun, and a serpentine race called the Forgotten. However, there is no mention of the races that existed but perished during the time the Elder Dragons were last awake other than that the Dragons reportedly caused the extinction of most life on Tyria. Could it be possible that the Sylvari were believed to be wiped out by the dragons and forgotten by time?

How then did the seeds survive through the extinction? What if the Sylvari trees, knowing they were losing the war, sent some Sylvari on a special Wyld Hunt to protect the future of their race held within seeds that were small enough to hide from danger but still had the power to grow into the trees that would restart the Sylvari race?

In The Movement of the World article, released by ArenaNet, it says that the cave where Ronan found the seeds was guarded by terrible plant creatures that forced him to flee carrying only a single seed. What if these terrible plant creatures were in fact those same Sylvari guarding the future of their race until the time came for them to take root and grow? No one would have seen a Sylvari in millennia, which, combined with the possibility of the Sylvari taking root and being grown over after standing guard for thousands of years, could make them pretty terrifying if they woke up thinking you were a threat. That Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade didn’t look too pretty either.

But if it is true that those plant creatures were the guardians of the seeds, why did they chase off Ronan yet allow another seed to be taken and grown into a new tree? Ronan managed to sneak away with a seed, but that could be because the guardians had been inactive for so long they were too slow to react, a problem that wouldn’t have happened immediately after for a Sylvari on their Wyld Hunt.

What we know of the dream is that it is built on the experiences of the Sylvari, Ventari’s Tablet and this anti-Elder Dragon drive. Maybe the Sylvari Wyld Hunt was not just to ensure the survival of the Sylvari but to ensure they survived to fight the dragons when they returned. This would make the idea that the Sylvari were born to fight the dragons not some fantasy but their race’s true Wyld Hunt. So if you were to take out the experiences of the Sylvari and the Ventari’s Tablet, you would get an inexperienced Sylvari willing to fight the dragons. Remind you of someone?

What if Malyck knew nothing, not because he lost his memory or was disconnected from his tree before his birth, but because he is the first of his tree’s Firstborn. According to the timeline of events, the Pale Tree’s seed was planted in 1078 AE, around the time of the events in the Eye of the North expansion for GW1. Due to the events of the player, it was another 40 years before the first Elder Dragon, Primordius, awoke. The Pale Tree’s Sylvari are almost 25 years old. This means the new tree would only be about 15 years younger than when the Pale Tree had her first Sylvari. Which isn’t much if you consider the Pale Tree is 250 years old and doesn’t look a day over 200!

This could also explain why we never saw Malyck again with his army he promised to fight the Elder Dragons. Instead of finding a tree full of Sylvari, maybe he was alone or there were a couple more new Sylvari born from the tree and, thanks to the player, Malyck is taking back all the good mood experience to share with his tree and fellow Sylvari.

Minions of a Nature Dragon

One thing I want to do with this column is look at what the community thinks and examine it just as I have above; examining the information we know from the game and the developers. With the Sylvari, the biggest theory I have seen is that the Pale Tree is a Champion of a Nature Elder Dragon and the Sylvari are its minions. I don’t think this is the case, not only from a lore perspective but also from a design perspective.

So first off is the Sylvari tutorial where players are faced with the dragon from their dreams. Some look at this dragon, made of vines and uprooting itself, to be a nature dragon champion much like Tequatl the Sunless, the Shatterer and the Claw of Jormag. New players however are in a dream surrounded by the nature near the Pale Tree where the vines could have coalesced to form the image of a dragon. Not only that but the form mimics that of Tequatl the Sunless which even convinces the Pale Tree that your Wyld Hunt is to kill not just any Elder Dragon but Zhaitan specifically. Then consider that this dragon has only been shown to two Sylvari, the player and Caithe. This makes this dragon showing up as a sign to Sylvari very unlikely.

Another notable point of discussion revolves around the Nightmare and how it could be the dragon calling Sylvari back to their true nature, away from the Pale Tree which broke free of the dragon’s control like Glint, thanks to Ventari’s Tablet. The first indication otherwise is that no other dragon minions are intelligent. Champions have intelligence, but the actual Risen and Icebrood are practically mindless zombies. Sylvari on the other hand not only are born with intelligence and have to choose the Nightmare, but they also keep their intelligence after falling to Nightmare.

Then there is Malyck. He was not inherently evil without being taught by the Pale Tree and Ventari’s Tablet. If those two things really do make the difference then Malyck should have been more like the Nightmare Court than the noble self that was more similar to Sylvari of the Pale Tree. I don’t think that the Nightmare is a corruption of the dream by any dragon, but is a corruption introduced to the dream by Ronan and Ventari.

Ronan and especially Ventari are always mentioned in a good light, with creating the morals that the Sylvari live by. But morals are not completely black and white. While the tablet has the positive laid out, I think that the inherent evil in mankind could have slipped into the lesson as well. Ronan for example, brought the seed back to show his daughter only to find his family massacred. In his despair he planted the seed on their graves and never left the sapling the rest of his life. It could even be from this despair at the loss of Ronan’s child that Ventari wrote the lesson that everything has a right to grow. So it could be these untaught emotions of despair, sadness, anger and others seeped into the dream that would eventually grow into the Nightmare.

In one of the few personal storyline missions that every character will go through, the Pale Tree leads the player and Trahearne through a vision of what could come to pass. During the vision you will come across the members of Destiny’s Edge fighting, unable to come together to save Tyria. With Destiny’s Edge unable to mend its past, Caithe is alone and falls into despair similar to Ronan which Faolain uses to bring Caithe into the Nightmare. So I don’t think a dragon needed to have any effect for the Nightmare to grow.

On to the game design reason for why Sylvari are not minions of a dragon. ArenaNet has constantly said that they never planned to let players play the evil side, that the player would be the hero who saved the day. To this end they did it perfectly, even having an evil faction of each race (Nightmare Court, Inquest, Sons of Svanir, Flame Legion/Renegades, and Bandits/Separatists) to contrast the player’s light against their darkness. To this end turning around and saying that the true origin of the Sylvari is actually as minions of an evil Elder Dragon, would ruin that heroic outlook. The Nightmare is a constant threat when everyone thinks Ventari’s Tablet is the way to be. If it is then said that the tablet is lies, tricking a race from its roots, it would weaken the resolve to resist the Nightmare, lead many Sylvari to turn away from the Pale Tree and would, in essence, be making the race fundamentally evil and the opposite of the heroic race they are designed to be. It would be an interesting plot twist, but would ruin Sylvari as a playable race.

Lastly is another lore point and that is their immunity to corruption of the Elder Dragons. A point that is brought up a lot is the Sylvari immunity to being corrupted by Elder Dragons which they say is a feature inherent of dragon minions. One doesn’t find an Icebrood Branded Devourer for instance. That is indeed true, but you also don’t see any Branded Devourer close enough to anything under Jormag’s influence to be corrupted by it. In fact you really don’t see any interaction at all between dragons but more of a reverence of the territory another dragon has taken. So really, we don’t know if Jormag could re-corrupt a Branded Devourer into an Icebrood Devourer as we haven’t seen them mix.

As for the Sylvari’s immunity to the dragons, I personally believe that they might have been engineered that way. Imagine an army that grows on trees, is born fully grown, has knowledge of its predecessors, has a built in desire to combat your enemies and is immune to the effects of said enemies. That is almost too good to be true, and would be the perfect army to have on your side. So what if the Sylvari is not a natural race, but one designed and grown during the last time the Elder Dragons were awake to combat them?

To wrap it all up there were a handful of “what ifs” throughout the article. What If: Sylvari is not a new race, is not a natural but an engineered race, survived by the Wyld Hunt of the Ancient Sylvari who have guarded the seeds to this day, and what if Malyck is the firstborn of his own tree. The Scrying Pool shows us what could be, but the waters ripple, ever changing, ever uncertain. So, on that note, I leave you with one more what if: the Pale Tree’s avatar is a female Sylvari. What if the other tree’s avatar is male?

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Guild Wasteland

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for Heart of Thorns following articles where I have talked about the personal story, the open world maps and their metas and the rewards earned in the open world. This article will focus on Guild Halls and the Scribe.

I like the general idea of guild halls in GW2. They are a cool place for your guild to set up and slowly build up your guild hall in your own way. I also like Scribe—the new crafting discipline dedicated almost entirely to building decorations for you guild hall and WvW consumables to use in WvW. That said, I think these are the worst implemented parts of Heart of Thorns.

I am in a smallish guild. We tend to have around 15 active players, but less than 10 of those are active donors to our guild hall. Currently our guild hall is level 43. We are working on getting the upgrade to the weaponsmith to be able to craft the new guild weapons and the major restoration to the Workshop. We are also missing the major restoration to the Tavern, but that is something that is on hold for the time being.

For Scribe, I am a max level 400 Scribe. I had some help from guildmates—some ectos and wood toward the beginning and a bunch of resonating slivers toward the end. I also sold some services to another guild, crafting Snow Makers for the cost of the mats which got me through a particularly tough stretch of Scribe leveling. Outside of that it was mostly a solo effort.

In the last Scrying Pool I talked about the Grind where I said a lot of it is in the expectations of the user. I have seen a lot of complaints about guild halls and the amount of materials needed to get these upgrades. In all of these cases, it seems like players were expecting to throw 100g down and be able to have everything in a guild hall given to them. After the realization that there was more to it than that, they go and see an upgrade and think they need to have everything needed for that upgrade immediately. Guild halls were meant to be a slow process, something that ArenaNet said would take months to build. And for my guild it has been just that.

Even though our guild is already level 40+, we don’t have everything. Two of our buildings still haven’t seen their second major restoration. While the Arena and War Room have finished their second restorations, we still have most of the upgrades left in both of them and I honestly doubt we would ever finish those based on our mostly PvE focused guild. Is that bad? Not at all.

As our guild has built up our hall we have focused on what our members have wanted. I am a big mini-pet collector, so I made a push to try and unlock the mini-pet merchant. Looking at the trading post before the guild minis were made account-bound, my guild was apparently the first guild to unlock the second level of guild mini-pets and we were likely the first to unlock the third tier. Because that was something I wanted, it was something the guild focused on.

That isn’t to say that everything in the guild hall is set up really well. There are a lot of upgrades that are really stupidly priced. The workshop upgrade requiring the guild to donate 50 Elonian Leather Squares is dumb. There is definitely the idea that a guild should work toward things, so having that workshop restoration also needing 400 vials of linseed oil isn’t bad as players can make a couple vials every few days and throw them in the guild hall. It will take a while, but eventually you will have what you need.

Requiring high market value items that players can’t really work toward isn’t very awesome. These are the things where you end up with the guild constantly asking members for help and the members resenting the guild for. My guild is still short 28 of those squares and it is the only thing really holding us back from the restoration.

Then we can talk about Piles of Coarse Sand, an item that saw no new methods of creation other than going back and repeating old content. There are a good amount of players like myself who did Dry Top and Silverwastes in the long wait leading up to HoT and have gained all the rewards those maps have to give. Now we have a new item that only comes from those maps.

To make it worse, you need a ton of sand. Our guild only has the first tier of the decoration merchant unlocked. You needed 100 Sheets of Extra Coarse Sandpaper to get that upgrade, of which you needed 10 Piles of Coarse Sand each. At the beginning of the expansion I spent a lot of time in the Silverwastes and Dry Top to collect sand. In the end it wasn’t worth it, as the rate of getting sand was so miniscule to the 1000 piles of sand we needed that I just ended up buying most of the sand. Then the second tier needs double that amount of sand and the third tier will need triple that amount.

The second restoration of the Tavern falls into the same problem, needing tons of sand to make glass mugs. I have yet to see any smart implementation for sand. You don’t get it very quickly, but you need a ton of it for anything that uses it. Add on to it that you only get sand from running old content, and it easily becomes the stupidest thing in the guild hall.

Outside of upgrading, the guild halls themselves were poorly made. They are huge, which is awesome for those players who like to explore. The problem is that once you explore something a couple times you are done with it. Now you are left with a massive guild hall that has a very small area that is actually used. It feels like ArenaNet made these guild halls huge with a bunch of variety in different areas around the guild hall so that players could pick and choose which areas they liked to hang out and decorate. Probably 90% of the guild halls have no use however. There are areas that will never see merchants or other NPCs. Our guild hasn’t run into this, but it sounds like the decoration limit is so low that the guild hall will always feel empty even if the guild could throw in a bunch of decorations.

Instead of these guild halls that have a lot of variety, ArenaNet should have focused on making guild halls that were 1/5th of the size. With a smaller size they could have potentially made more guild halls and created variety through the different halls that guilds could claim. This would have also made going and checking out other guilds’ halls more exciting than their current implementation.

The one thing I don’t like about the Lost Precipice—the guild hall that my guild owns—is how far everything is spread out. We almost have to run across the entire guild hall to get to our market district where our various merchants are located. Everyday I go to see what is on our daily Guild Commendation merchant, which means every day I’m running across the guild hall. A smaller guild hall could have alleviated this as a run across the hall would not have been as much of a feat. It also could have opened the door to a more vertical placement of services, which would have been much cooler in the canyon themed hall.

Something that ArenaNet has said is that they don’t want guild halls to replace towns. The thing is they already have sold VIP passes that get me into areas that have everything I want from a town all bundled close to each other. I don’t have to run across a large guild hall to get something and going from a crafting station to a Trading Post is almost instantaneous. Just this makes these areas more valuable than guild halls could ever be and one of the two VIP areas isn’t even in a town.

I can see why ArenaNet has an aversion to making guild halls replace towns, as this can create lower populations in these areas and make the game seem less populated than it actually is. With the costs of upgrading guild halls in general, I don’t think it would end up ever being that large of a problem. My idea would be to put another tier of restoration for the workshop. After this guilds can upgrade individual crafting stations—so weaponsmith and huntsman would be two separate upgrades—and another upgrade for the Trading Post. Our guild is having trouble getting the 2nd restoration done for the workshop, so just putting these behind a third restoration would already limit our guild for a while. Then most guilds would not be very interested in making each of the 8 crafting discipline benches. Add on top that players can’t load directly into the guild hall when opening the game and I don’t think that towns would have much concern for being replaced. I really just want the crafting stations because I think it would be a neat addition to see a crafting room added to our guild hall that slowly gets populated with the stations. A bank could also be added, but seeing as the crafting station for the Scribe already works as a bank it would both be non-game breaking as well as not that enticing for guilds.

I like the idea of the Scribe being connected to the guild hall, where players can’t even learn the discipline until their guild has unlocked the workshop and some recipes such as the banners and WvW consumables can’t be learned except through the guild hall. The Scribe being connected so fully to the guild hall makes a lot of sense for a crafting discipline that crafts almost entirely guild related items.

The actual Scribe is a mess however. Starting off, leveling the discipline feels terrible. Going into Guild Wars 2 they looked at how to make crafting better. Other MMOs have you crafting an iron dagger hundreds of time just to then be able to make hundreds of iron swords. While you need to make a good number of swords to level your weaponsmith in GW2, it was never even close to the degree that other games require. Scribe essentially copy/pastes the route of other disciplines to its own needs. Making any combination of 15 swords, daggers, hammers, shields, spears, greatswords, maces and axes doesn’t seem so bad for weaponsmith. Making 15 chairs however gets into that feeling of grind. Then you have the cost of that chair.

There are three parts that make anything Scribe really expensive: Sand, compounding ingredients and Resonating Slivers. The first is sand, which as I mentioned earlier just requires way too much with a limited availability to get them. Any furniture is going to need 5 pieces of sandpaper. At lower levels this isn’t too bad as that’s 10 piles of coarse sand per sandpaper, totaling 50 piles of sand. At level 400 this is 60 piles of sand for each sandpaper for a total of 300 sand. That crazy amount of sand I needed for the first merchant, but gave up on actually gathering? That is just 3 furniture items at 400.

Another large problem is the bag within a bag syndrome. Many items require making other lower level items as part of their ingredients. Pigments are an easy example as Scribe starts out by making a simple ink set with 10 Pouches of Brown Pigment. When they are higher level and making better ink sets, they need that simple ink set as an ingredient. Brown Pigment is the most valuable pigment and a quick look at the list of dyes available in the game show brown as the least used dye category. Furniture also has this compounding problem with players needing to craft multiple lower level furniture to make a higher level version of that chair, table or miscellaneous furniture item.

Resonating Slivers are a slightly better, but similar version of sand as they are tied to the weekly guild missions that have found even more rewards for players with HoT. Much like the sand however, the resonating slivers result from needing too much for crafting with too few available. I will typically end up getting close to 10 slivers from running the weekly guild missions with my guild. A level 400 furniture recipes needs 27 of these slivers. Just using my own funds it would take three weeks to be able to craft one of these items.

Being a guild focused discipline, there was the idea that scribes would be a guild effort with everyone pooling their resources. In theory that would be awesome, as my guild of 15 active members could pool to have enough for 5 max level items every week. The reality is far from this however, especially with the in game Trading Post that makes these items incredibly valuable. Few guilds are going to be able to pool these resources once players learn that they can sell them for up to a 1g each depending on the market pricing. Even if they didn’t sell them, there is likely more than one person wanting to level up a scribe in any guild seeing as the discipline is character bound.

I like that many of the recipes are guild bound, requiring upgrades at different buildings to first unlock them for any scribe that uses the station. I would have liked to see this expanded, putting most of the cost on the guild actually unlocking a recipe and not on the crafting of a single item. This would have made leveling the discipline more enjoyable and would open the door to actually allowing guild to decorate their halls. Instead of spending 50g for each Snow Maker, it would have been cool to upgrade the guild hall to allow scribes the ability to craft wintersday items. The upgrade would have cost significantly more than 50g, but after learning it the guild could pump out lots of snow makers for just a couple gold each.

I think that the decoration aspect of guild halls is actually really fun, but it sucks being so limited in what can be placed. No one wants to have one chair. They want to have a hall of chairs and tables. Atop those tables could be candles of varying sizes with ornamental flowers and plants adorning the corners of the hall. Instead what we have are a couple of chairs and a ton of pumpkins and piles of snow as the bought holiday decorations are the only things that have been readily available for most guilds.

I haven’t made a single thing since reaching Scribing 400 in large part because there is nothing worth making for the associated cost. I would love to have more varied items and really just more items in general. There are some really cool decorations and I would love to spruce up our hall with a bunch of trees.

What we have however, is just a mostly empty hall. Between the crazy sand requirement for upgrading our decoration merchant, the cost of making any decoration, the lack of many of the basic services you would find in any town and the large size of guild halls and their reported low cap on decorations allowed, our hall is less of a guild hall and more of a guild wasteland.


A New Shatterer Approaches

ArenaNet continues their week of news by releasing yet another blog post. Today, it is all about the Shatterer that is seeing some big improvements in the Winter 2016 update.

The Shatterer is one of the first things that was shown of Guild Wars 2 as it was used in the earliest convention betas. The world boss however, has been one of the weakest, most disappointing experiences for a long time. That the Shatterer is a massive dragon only made its pitiful state worse. The Winter 2016 patch—coming out January 26—will help to rectify this as ArenaNet is making this dragon a force to be reckoned with.

A large part of this world boss encounter has been the ability to ignore most of the boss’s abilities. Standing in certain places would enable players to completely avoid attacks while other abilities were so weak that players never had to worry about them. As such, most of the rework to the Shatterer revolves around making players more engaged during the fight.

Much like the wyverns in the jungle, the Shatterer is getting a new Defiance Bar to prevent him going into one of his other phases. The phase in question makes the Shatterer take to the skies, summon allies and launch lightning attacks on players. Breaking the defiance bar will keep the dragon firmly rooted and prevent a lot of the damage from this phase.

Defiance Bars are also getting added to the Pulsing Crystal Nodes that spawn to heal the Shatterer. Players will need to break these bars before they are able to destroy the nodes, which will be important as they will now heal a significant amount of health if not destroyed.

In regards to all of the safe zones around the boss, many of the Shatterer’s skills are being updated to have a wider attack radius, longer range, will shoot in more directions and include more projectiles or targets in their attacks. Additionally, all of the Shatterer’s Branded friends have been beefed up to stack a bunch of conditions and CC.

However, It is not just the enemies that have come back stronger. With the addition of gliding in core Tyria, players will be able to take to the skies and drop ordnance atop the crystal dragon. The siege near the fight has also been updated to make it easier to use and help break defiance bars.

A new meta-achievement is being added that rewards a new Branded back-slot item. Most of these achievements are said to be things that players will naturally do in order to succeed, so exist more to point out what players need to do and less to be challenges to complete. For regular rewards, players will get 2 guaranteed rares and a large chunk of experience for defeating the Shatterer. Additionally, players will also be able to collect tokens to create Shatterer-themed decorations for guild halls!

The Shatterer isn’t the first dragon to have been updated, as players may remember Tequatl the Sunless getting a major update during the Living World Season 1. While many players including myself might have been expecting something similar, the update to the Shatterer isn’t sounding quite as grand. Much of the encounter sounds to be similar, just updated to fix many of the problem.

While the fight is definitely going to be more interesting and challenging as the result of this update, I’m worried that the Shatterer will end up underwhelming after the potential hype of a Tequatl 2.0. At least we won’t have to wait long to find out, as we are just 12 days away from the Winter 2016 patch.