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.


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