Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Snowway to Heaven

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. My Heart of Thorns review series will be back next week, but today I wanted to talk about Wintersday.

Wintersday is leaving next Tuesday, January 10th, after being released for nearly a month. In a Scrying Pool that came out before Wintersday I had said that I like holidays in games. It’s fun to see the game get dressed up to match the holiday and I like to see what the new seasonal rewards are for the current year.

While Halloween really stepped up to the plate this year with a slew of new rewards, the return of the Mad King dungeon and the new Lion’s Arch covered in festive theming, Wintersday fell quite short.

For rewards we saw a new collection for an effects-based shoulder armor, an Enchanted Snowball tonic, three new wintersday themed skritt minis and a way to get two previously gem store minis in game.

There is a new merchant for wintersday, but none of these items come from it. Instead the name of the game is to open a ton of wintersday gifts or to buy them off of the trading post. I have around 7,000 drinks used for the festival imbiber achievement—something I will talk about later—and only received a couple of skritt minis out of all those new rewards. The Enchanted Snowball tonic, the 4 Mini Snowman—to collect one and craft a Mini Foostivoo the Merry—and the 19 additional Mini Gift Skritts—to collect one and make the Mini Charitable Gift Skritt and Mini Munificent Gift Skritt—were all purchased off of the trading post.

Drop rate research done by the community means that I have opened almost 9,000 wintersday gifts and really have nothing to show for it in the terms of rewards. Halloween wasn’t really any better, but the rewards during that holiday were not solely based on this rng as rewards were more evenly divided between the gifts and a merchant that sold items for the festive currency.

The one thing I really liked was the handling of currency for this holiday. There was a way to easily upgrade the lower tiers of snowflakes into higher tiers and there were some things to use those highest tier snowflakes on. Now that we are upgrading these snowflakes so easily, I would like to see the snowflakes truncated down to a single tier so that instead of 6 different kinds of snowflakes we just have a single snowflake. With the crazy amount of all tiers of snowflakes we had before, especially because of the Wintersday harvesting tools that gave players many tiny snowflakes, this wouldn’t have been really possible before this Wintersday. Now that we have the easy upgrading and the harvesting tools are less readily available the switch over can be implemented. I don’t think anything would need to be automated, just announce the change is coming and leave the snowflake merchant around and then nuke all the non-flawless snowflake in the game.

The most awesome use for the snowflakes in my opinion is the Pile of Snow decoration for the guild hall. Costing 100 Flawless Snowflakes, this is a pretty cool decoration all by itself. With the almost complete removal of decoration restrictions in guild halls, this decoration has completely replaced the pumpkin as the decoration for building. Some of the community have already made some cool things with piles of snow, including the awesome Snowway to Heaven.

In an earlier Scrying Pool had talked about some of the things I was hoping for with guild hall decorations, but unfortunately most were not items we got. Snowmen, piles of gifts and the snowflakes from the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle were all missing. Things I hadn’t even thought of at the time such as anything candy cane, gingerbread or ice wall/castle related were also missing. We did however get the Asuran Snowmaker that I was hoping for that surprisingly came with the snowball functionality that I was hoping would come with a pile of snowballs decoration. The Asuran Snowmaker is the only wintersday scribing decoration my guild has made, though I have seen all but the Wintersday Tree in other guild halls. They are cool, but not cool enough to warrant the scribing cost to make them—something I will talk about in the coming weeks.

I honestly wasn’t expecting there to be anything new content-wise for Wintersday. It is still relatively close to the expansion and adding on to holidays takes time. I enjoyed replaying some of the old content as it came around this year, but it isn’t a month’s worth of content. This is good for a time of year when people are traveling to visit friends and family more than normal. The problem is that the grind set up for some of the rewards almost makes players need to play for that whole month to get them.

The biggest fault here is the new shoulder collection: Winter’s Presence. This is the next elite collection that requires players to put in a lot of effort. What I liked about this collection when it was first revealed was that it wasn’t all about getting the materials or throwing gold at the trading post. Players would need to go and complete some of the Wintersday events as well as gather some items to complete the collection. The problem is that the two halves were in no way balanced.

On the event side of the collection, players need to succeed at Toypocalypse, the pvp Snowball Mayhem, Bell Choir, the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle and the Claw of Jormag event. First of all, what does the Claw of Jormag have to do with Wintersday? If given the chance, he would probably eat wintersday, yet we are going to include him in our festivities just because he is an icy dragon and wintersday is a snowy holiday? I like the inclusion of the other events, but most of these only required the player to succeed 3 times for the Winter’s Presence related achievement, which is no way difficult or time consuming. Effort? Minimal.

Then we have the item side. The first three are Mystic Forge created items by throwing in some Mystic Coins, Flawless Snowflakes and one or two more wintersday centric items. The Magnanimous Obsidian Crystal I thought was a good item, as it required a Magnanimous Choir Bell that was obtainable on the new Wintersday merchant. The other two however, required Superior Sigils of Mischief and Superior Runes of Snowfall. How do you get these? Throw gold at the trading post as they removed these items as drops from the wintersday gift and didn’t add them to the merchant. These gold centric items ended up being way more of an obstacle than the event side of the collection.

Even these three items did not come close to what is probably holding most people back from getting this collection: Festival Imbiber. For this achievement players need to drink a total of 10,000 drinks from the list of new holiday alcohols. 10,000! There isn’t any new playable content, so the way ArenaNet is going to get players to actually play the holiday content is to require an insane grind for the last part of this collection? Of course, you don’t have to grind this at all, if you throw gold at the trading post. Over 700g worth.

What was the point in having part of this collection be event based if the only hard part is a gold sink?

On other topics, the throw 4 minis into the forge to build a better mini of which you need to throw 4 into the forge for a better mini is a bit annoying. We now have three of these with the Llama, Professor Mew and the Gift Skritt. In my mind these three base minis are completely worthless after I needed to throw 21+ of them down the toilet to get all of the minis unlocked. Throwing 3 Mini Snowman in to get Foostivoo the Merry wasn’t bad as it is just a single upgrade tier. Do we really need the compounding mini system instead of making them all like the Foostivoo the Merry recipe? There could have been one mini Gift Skritt that had extra gifts and one that had the same amount of gifts but the addition of a Wintersday Hat. Then each of these would only need 4 of the base to make, not 4 of the last upgraded version.

But at least the Enchanted Snowball is cool with its lack of costume brawl skills.

Happy New Year.

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