A Sincere Farewell

If any of you have been following me on Twitter, you’ve noticed that  I’ve been playing Black Desert Online and it’s really gripped me. I’ve fallen in love with it in the same way that I did with Guild Wars, LOTRO, and Guild Wars 2. I’m enraptured by its unique appeal to allow you to do a huge variety of activities.

With that being said, I have been posting less and less over the past year to the point that this blog is pretty much inactive. So with that, I want to give a huge thank you to a few people/groups.

First of all, thank you to Dragon Season for their support and contacts through the years. They have been (and still are) an astounding team who bring people together over the love for Guild Wars 2.

Secondly, a massive thank you to the people who have stuck through it with me over the years on Twitter. I made some massive changes in my career and life, and you have been amazingly encouraging. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Third, thank you to people like Rubi Bayer, Peter Fries, Bobby Stein, Mr. Barefoot Matthew,  Roy Cronacher, and many others who have shown love and support for the community of Guild Wars 2 (and continue to!).  There’s something that makes you feel special when you have a message or a tweet from one of them. People like this bridge the gap between the idea that ArenaNet is just a company, to the fact that it’s real people, passionately pouring into the game that they so love. These are only the first that come to my mind, but there are many others from ArenaNet who have also reached out, and I am forever thankful.

Fourthly, thank you to my wonderful wife, “Briony” for all of her support in my blogging, my gaming, and the stories that we’ve created together in Tyria. I love you, and couldn’t have done the blogging I did without you.

Fifth, thank you to ArenaNet for making an astounding game that held my attention and heart since its launch in 2012. I stopped playing only for about a month in that entire time. In hindsight, the sheer amount of hours that I’ve invested in this game really show how much it has meant to me.


During depression, anxiety, family challenges, career change, etc. Tyria has been there for me. So thank you ArenaNet. You’ve truly impacted my life through what you’ve created! I will forever find my way back into Tyria time to time, just as I do with LOTRO, because of how much it means to me. During the existence of this blog, ArenaNet highlighted it three times, posting it to Facebook and/or Twitter. It is a huge honour to have a company enjoy what you wrote so much that they would share it with their community.

Finally, thank you to all of you readers who have faithfully read and/or posted on my blog. Without you, all this time of writing wouldn’t have happened.

With my final words of this entire blog, I want to conclude with this:

Be good to one another, both in-game and out. Respect one another, both developers and gamers alike. Instead of tearing down, always build up. Together, make Tyria and/or any world, something greater than reality itself.

Things That Make Guild Wars 2 “Home”

My last three blog posts were specifically about the new expansion and both positive and negative things that it has brought to the game. Although I could add on some more on both sides, I think enough has been said on those.

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of different games to give myself a bit of a break. I’ve been playing:

  • Rift – In spite of a few newer P2W elements that were recently introduced, I’ve been playing around to get an older school MMO fix like other games I used to play.
  • Neverwinter – Even though those dang Astral Diamonds (a form of game currency) take forever and a day to get, and the shop is terribly overpriced.
  • LOTRO – Which is my old home and I have a hard time going back, as I didn’t like the direction once they hit Isengard. It’s pretty desolate now, sadly. I miss the world though, as well as Shadows of Angmar.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 HD – A game I absolutely adored in college, and still really love the dressphere system.
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby – Don’t get me started on my fanboy obsession with this game right now. I got a Mew. Over 15 years later and I finally have a Mew!!!

One thing in those first three really stuck out to me… there are elements that make me rather unhappy compared to Guild Wars 2 that, in spite of feeling a little bored with it as of late, still have set a certain standard in my mind that other games don’t seem to match.

GW2 Changed Things

  1. Gathering Materials
    • I get so sick and tired of running up to an ore node and having someone mine it… and then I get nothing. Guild Wars 2 made it disappointing when that happens in other games. I love being able to mind the same nodes as other people.
  2. Rezzing
    • Alright, in a lot of other games I have the option to rez people, but even in Rift I can’t just click a button and rez someone from a dead state. There’s something fulfilling about helping other people out and to be honest, I find that doing this has made me want to help others in every part of the game if I can.
  3. Quests
    • Ok, so I tell myself I’m going to read quest lines and immerse myself in other games. You know what? I don’t. I really don’t. I try time and time again, but I just can’t sit there and read pages upon pages of text that really doesn’t flavour anything. I’m sure there are other games that do it. LOTRO, I read almost everything I encountered because I genuinely loved the lore and the atmosphere of the game. Guild Wars 2, I find I’ll even stop and read little snippets here and there because I love it. Other MMOs, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
  4. Gear
    • So here I am, thinking that I’m annoyed with Ascended gear and acquiring all the crazy stats that are now available. I get bored of my setup and think “this is going to take forever.” I swap over to other games and realize that if I ever want to actually be useful, I need to raid for hours on end (I abhor raiding in most games, to be honest. It’s not my thing). Get gear, so I can get more gear, to get more gear, and constantly try to get more gear… for what purpose? Yeesh. I can grab exotics in Guild Wars 2 and still be good enough for almost everything in the game. Heck, they even made it possible to change my Ascended gear for a small investment.
    • On this topic, the only two things I could think of that should be changed would be the runes and sigils being unlockable instead of destroyed when you swap ascended, as well as WvW having a PvP Build setup instead of using your actual gear. After playing a few other games though? Wow. I’m spoiled. I’ve got it good.
  5. Exploration
    • The sheer amount of games that are focused on “go from point A to point B” is maddening to me. I love that I can openly explore, choose my own path, and fight my own way through Tyria. It’s exciting that to this day, I can choose what Vistas to see, what enemies to fight, and what part of the Shiverpeaks I want to explore. In many other games, I’m forced to go from point A to point B, collecting a series of quests that eventually turn into senseless clicking instead of immersing myself into an entire world. Even worse are those games where you literally cannot explore and you’re pretty much stuck on rails.

Some Thoughts of Thankfulness

In all honesty, I have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, I have some criticism of the state of Guild Wars 2, but I also have a lot of things I adore that keep me coming back, and are exactly why I call Tyria home. I’m pretty sure I’ll be on this ride for a *very* long time. So today, I feel very excited for what’s in store, and definitely still put my trust that they’ll figure out where they’re going. If there’s one thing I can respect and appreciate about ArenaNet, it’s that they’re always looking to improve on what they have. Do they always get it right? In my opinion, no, but I can immensely respect them for being willing to take risks and step out to do something creative with what they’ve made.

HoT Thoughts – Part 3: Elites and Love

The past month I’ve been writing about the story of Heart of Thorns, as well as the maps–two of the biggest things that HoT brought to the table. It was rather critical, because there are definitely a lot of areas that ArenaNet could work on that would help me enjoy their expansion better.

With that being said, I’m excited to finally share with you my thoughts of what I’ve been loving about Heart of Thorns!

Elite Specializations

One of the biggest changes that Heart of Thorns brought is the elite specializations. Every single one of them brought new things to the table (don’t shoot me yet for that statement). By now, many of you have played most of the elite specializations and have started to see how they change the base professions to at least some extent, so I’ll give some of my (very) brief thoughts on them all!


As someone who mained a Guardian for quite a long time, I was rather disappointed with Dragonhunter. Traps feel more like symbols all over in the sense that they’re stationary rings. I’m not convinced Guard needed this. The longbow? People have been asking for it since launch, and it can be quite powerful. I just find it doesn’t synergize as someone who was a straight up Hammer Guard. The more I played Dragonhunter, the more it seemed like DPS was the focus. Not a bad thing, but it just didn’t click. Since then, I’ve pretty much abandoned my Guardian.


Oh. My. Goodness. I adore this profession, but this brought something radically new to the table with Rangers. I know a lot of people would’ve loved to be able to get rid of their pet for bonuses, but I think ANet took a very interesting route. The Druid is quite possibly the best healer in a game where healing was pretty much useless as a whole. Since raids (which I won’t be touching on), a healing Druid is pretty much meta, and they offer a whole lot more group support than Rangers originally did. It brings something new to the table, for sure, but I also wonder if it makes Druid feel too much like its own new profession all together? Maybe this is a good thing?

Whatever way you lean, I personally find my Druid to be a blast, and the glyphs really give some extra flexibility in playstyle, even if you go DPS.


Ok, I know that I’ve complained on Twitter time and time again about how much I can’t click with Ele, in spite of maining it for an entire year, but let me say this… I FREAKING LOVE TEMPEST. I don’t know why. Those overloads, the Warhorn, and shouts, all give me a great sense that I’m more in control of my toon instead of mindlessly doing a rotation between elements. Right now I’m running a Fresh Air Tempest build, and I’m having way too much fun. The burst is amazing, the support/utility is somewhere between staff and focus, and it’s a fresh take on the Elementalist to me (see what I did there?).


I’m still figuring Reaper out, but I’m getting the picture more and more. I think the Necro needed this a lot. There’s some stability in there, there’s some great melee outside of dagger, and as someone who ran a Power Necro (Wells), I’ve finally put together a build that jumps off of that and makes me more of a beast in melee. I’ve duo’d champions with random players in Auric Basin, so that’s a great start with a profession that I always struggle to be good at, but still love.


I’ve enjoyed most of the elite specs. Heck, I actually really love playing the Daredevil. Dodging and dealing damage, the extra dodge, and the staff as a whole, all really click with how I play the game. The down side? It still doesn’t bring great utility to a group, and it’s still horribly selfish. It makes me wonder how Daredevils do in raids? I don’t really know many that main it.

The biggest issue people have (and I do as well), is that it feels like they took away things from the Acrobatics line that made us great at dodging, and then put it into the Daredevil. There were recently some changes to the Acrobatics line, but I haven’t delved into it much to see if it really helps.

Regardless of that little chip on my shoulder, I actually love how the Daredevil feels. It doesn’t seem to bring great team support still, but it’s a blast to play!


I’ve been looking forward to Scrapper. I played a Power Engi for quite a while there, and suddenly I find I’m not really figuring Scrapper out at all. Gyros seems underwhelming and while the hammer is fun to play, I find my Rifle is much more powerful and useful. To me, that’s an indication that I need more time spent into Scrapper. Does anyone have any advice or ideas on how to use their new weapon and utilities?


Alright, I’m not a Mesmer genius. I’m actually a Mesmer moron, but I try. My wife’s the one that adores Mesmer as well as Chronomancer. Alacrity radically changes a lot of things and gives greater group support to this profession. The wells are well-needed AoEs (look! I did it again!) that were sorely lacking outside of Shatters and Chaos Storm. I personally love the shield, although my wife barely uses it. As a whole, I find it adds on to what already existed for Mesmers and filled in the gap.


Fun. Chop chop. Slicey dicey. I don’t really play Warrior, but I’ve heard a few people say that conditions are now a little more viable with the Berserker, and Berserk adds another fun layer on to how Adrenaline is used. I don’t play Warrior enough to actually give any thoughts on what it does as a whole.


The Revenant

Alright, this is where I really want to get a bit more in-depth, other than a few opinions. Why? Because I main the new profession, the Revenant now. My Guardian has taken the back-seat and become a crafter, and I’ve been able to put some serious effort into building him up. I rolled him, and haven’t been happier. The Revenant has a unique set of weapons:


The Sword is my main go-to weapon. It used to simply be used for auto-attack which wasn’t very engaging and didn’t force you to use your profession mechanic (managing energy–sort of like the Rune Keeper of LOTRO’s class mechanic). The changes now force you to use 2 (Precision Strike) and to use 3 (Unrelenting Assault) very carefully. This is a positive thing.


The Mace is a condition-based weapon that deals Torment and Burning. Although it’s fun, it’s definitely underwhelmed by the Revenant’s sheer ability to tear through things with its Power and Ferocity stats.


The Staff is a support weapon. People have to get this through their heads very quickly. A lot of complaint at the beginning was how little damage it did (which they may have buffed at one point). It’s honestly my favourite weapon of all, considering it has a condition cleanse, CC control (they totally nerfed it though… at launch, you could tear through a Legendary Wyvern’s CC bar and break it with one attack), and a few other CC abilities. It also drops healing orbs with its auto-attack. Frankly, staff is my favourite weapon in the entire game and is a lot of fun!

Hammer (Ranged)

A hammer as a ranged weapon is one of the most amazing ideas ever. It feels hilariously awesome. They’ve recently attempted to fix 2 (Coalescence of Ruin) since it was critting for way too much and hitting way too many people, especially in PvP. It was over the top and needed a nerf. I do believe it still needs a few more tweaks though.

Axe (Off-hand)

Axe is also condition-focused and pairs well with Mace or Sword, depending on your build. Its 4 (Frigid Blitz) is amazing for shadowstepping and is very satisfying to use. Axe 5 (Temporal Rift) is fun to use, causes some Torment, and pulls foes into it (giving a CC side to it). I haven’t used Axe in a while for Shield (coming in a bit here) , but it’s definitely a fun go-to.

Sword (Off-hand)

Sword off-hand is ok, I suppose. The block on 4 doesn’t seem all that significant, and 5 (Grasping Shadow) is rather clunky and strange since it’s so single-targeted. I may play around with it again soon since I’ve been getting bored of my Shield.

Along with this, the Revenant also brings four Legendary “stances”:

  1. Ventari – A healing tablet you can move around, cleanse conditions, and destroy projectiles. It’s a little awkward because you have to constantly be moving your tablet around for healing and positioning, which is challenging in big boss fights. Regardless of that, it’s my favourite legend to run (even though I don’t ever use it since there are better options).
  2. Shiro – An assassin stance that is focused on quick attacks and movement, as well as a powerful CC with its elite (costing 50 out of your 100 max energy) called Jade Winds. I run this legend constantly, and for good reason.
  3. Mallyx – A strange condition-based legend that needs some tweaking, especially since some of its traits are still based on what it was before HoT’s release–taking lots of conditions on itself and creating conditions so you could spread them to others. Not much to say here.  Resistance is a great boon, but Mallyx needs some Dev love still.
  4. Jalis – Supposedly the tanking legend, Jalis has a few elements of healing, some condition removal, a taunt, damage mitigation, and

The Herald – Revenant’s Elite

The Herald brings in another level of power to the Revenant. Given that the Revenant was built with the Elite Spec in mind (compared to the other professions), I find that Herald is almost needed, and you feel gimped if you don’t run Herald. It brings a few things:

  1. Glint Legend – Facets that you activate like a signet but create new skills to use. Facets take energy to maintain and share boons to people around you. Using the next skill will cancel the boon-sharing ability of said facet and create an effect, such an AoE that burns and chills, or healing you for all damage done to you for a few seconds.
  2. Shield – The shield brings some interesting skills, but given the recent nerf to Crystal Hibernation (which blocks all damage and heals you periodically while you’re rooted and blocking), I’m finding it not as good anymore. I don’t really use the 4 on shield and honestly, I find myself using it more because I have the Flameseeker Prophecies (which, thematically, works so amazingly well together with Glint).
  3. Traits – The traits are pretty useful to any build, like increased damage per boon on you, gaining toughness for each point of upkeep you have (be careful if you’re in a raid), stun breaking nearby allies if you stun break, etc. I find as a whole, it’s a no-brainer and radically improves the Revenant.


HoT has brought quite a bit of content, but most of it has been gated in time or massive amounts of grinding. Thankfully, the Elite Specs are built in a way that are fairly accessible if you just start getting some hero challenges done in the HoT areas (which most aren’t as daunting as you’d think, and people have an incentive to help since they get rewarded daily for helping with a hero challenge). I would say that of all things, the elite specializations are the best thing Heart of Thorns has brought to Guild Wars 2. The problem? There is a sense of a power creep here, where those who are F2P or haven’t yet purchased HoT are going to notice that they’re underpowered in WvW and PvP.

I’d say as a whole that from these three blog posts that Heart of Thorns is both a success, and a struggle. They brought some amazing content with some serious blaring flaws. There are some great things that have been offered, but some areas that myself, as a gamer and consumer, am left longing for something more. Because of my time zone and work life, I’m not able to play how and when they want me to play.

I think overall, they’ve created a good base with the mastery system on where they can go. Hopefully, Heart of Thorns is a bold step in a direction they can tweak to work for the masses, and deliver us bigger and more engaging content than what HoT offered.

For now, I’ll play my Herald, finish my dailies, and cross my fingers for what Living Story 3 will do for the game as a whole.

HoT Thoughts – Part 2: The Jungle

DISCLAIMER: This post contains spoilers. If you have not finished the Heart of Thorns Story and Maps and do not wish for spoilers, I suggest reading after you’ve completed them.

Last week I took some time to write about the story in Heart of Thorns. Specifically, it was the most critical of this 3-part series about my HoT thoughts. This week I want to talk a little bit more about the story, as well as the open world, events, maps.

HoT Thoughts – Story (the good)

Last week you may have noticed that my views on the story were highly critical, and could possibly be mistaken as negative. While yes, I believe that there are some not-so-well-done elements of the story, there are some amazing things as well!

Recently I decided to bring my Necromancer through a bit of the story as a Reaper, and I remembered how much I absolutely love that your character speaks. This is huge. They converse, express thoughts, and vocalize their experience as they step through the journey to the Heart of Thorns.

Furthermore, I love that there are some minor choices that change the direction. Verdant Brink gives you this option with either going out with Tizlak or defending the Itzel village in Chapter 4: The Jungle Provides. Sure, it’s small, but it definitely lets you have multiple experiences of the story as you do it on alts.

Finally, I really love that not everything is instanced. You are engaged with the world around you, since the story itself isn’t just tied to the chapters you complete, but also to the meta events that take place. Each map itself is a part of what’s happening in the giant narrative of Heart of Thorns.

Moving on, HoT radically changed a lot of things in Guild Wars 2. Some for the better, some for the worse. I’ll step through some thoughts from each

Open World

Verdant Brink

This is probably my favourite map in terms of the meta event. If you haven’t played it, the Pact is scattered and need to set up encampments. During the day, you’ll be completing meta events to establish these encampments throughout the map. During the night, rally points are established that require that you claim them, deliver pact supplies, and escort pact soldiers to boost the supply level. Like the meta events in the day cycle, these contribute to the map meta level at night. After a certain point, choppers are placed at the rally points and encampments, and you can go up to the canopy and fight a set of bosses that also contribute to the map meta completion (up to Tier 4).

This is an astoundingly well done map meta because there is always something going on. I’d say of all the events, this is the one that’s done perfectly well. Sure, you may not get Tier 4 rewards if you’re not on a great map, but there is always something happening that’s worth doing. I find of all the maps, I end up back here the most.

Auric Basin

This is a beautiful map, and quite possibly the most beautiful of all of them. Exalted are all around the map, and Tarir is absolutely gorgeous. The problem that arises is the need to taxi into a good map to make the map worth the events. I won’t go into the detail of the rest of the map metas, but this one is a weird mixture of Vinewrath, Marionette, and the Ogre Guild Challenge.

It’s actually a really fun meta event that’s pretty easy to do if people cooperate,  but the issue is that the map is rendered rather worthless unless you do Hero Challenges every day for Aurillium (10 per repeatable challenge), or taxi to a better map. The good part is that of all of the meta events, this seems to be the easiest to get into and to do. The down side? Nothing else happens if it’s not the meta event.

Tangled Depths

As you get further into the jungle, you hit Tangled Depths. This is actually my favourite map in the entire game because of its complexity. It’s beautifully done, full of mobs to destroy, and has a lot of nooks and crannies outside of the Ley-Line Confluence Waypoint where the meta event happens. Some find it highly confusing, but once you’ve explored quite a bit, navigating gets much easier.

There are two issues I see with this map though:

1. Meta is Everything

Like Auric Basin, the meta event is all that matters here. You won’t find events worthwhile to do unless it’s hero challenges, which will net you some Ley Line Crystals, the currency for this map. To me, this is a huge down side though since the meta for this map isn’t ongoing. At least with Auric Basin, there’s a progressive meta with very little down time. You can always get in. This one? The meta builds up fairly quickly, only to end abruptly if one lane should fail (more on that in a minute here).

2. Wham-Bam, Thank You, Meta

Harsh, but that’s how I feel this meta event is. I actually LOVE doing the Chak Gerent battle. Problem? It’s every two hours, meaning I rarely ever get to attempt it. It’s also extremely difficult compared to all the other metas in HoT, and you need it for some collections. I’ll be blunt and say that this is a poor design, and should be looked at again.

The map meta starts with pulling different lanes together, consisting of Rata Novus, Ogres, Nuhoch, and S.C.A.R. These events pull together pretty quick. Then every two hours the event takes place… for a very brief time.

You see, multiple lanes gather to face the Gerent, each having a different mechanic to get the Gerent up for a burn phase. This happens a few times, with multiple opportunities to fail. Should one lane fail, the entire group fails. Some lanes like S.C.A.R. are simply DPS checks as opposed to being heavily mechanic-based.

It’s hard to explain my feelings for this. I honestly feel that Tangled Depths is too long between meta events, too insignificant in the grand scheme of the map (it runs for what… 20 minutes, if that?), is too important for collections when it’s that infrequent, and is far too difficult for how important it is. I enjoy the idea behind it, but it relies too much on way too many people doing it perfectly, when you don’t get enough time to practice.

Overall, I love the map itself… it just feels empty and purposeless in the grand scheme, as if it were forgotten about. Also, if you want to do the meta? Taxi in an hour before, other wise there’s no hope.

Yeah. I want to play the expansion by standing around, waiting for a 15 minute meta event that’s most likely going to fail. Thrilling.

Dragon’s Stand

This is the shining beacon of excitement in terms of the design of meta events. The entire battle pulls together the entire map meta stories and joins all the races and groups together (even the Nightmare Court) in a final assault against Mordremoth. Well, specifically, the Mouth of Mordremoth. If anything, this is one epic battle that culminates in an amazing raid-like boss fight with great mechanics. Is it hard? Absolutely not. Is it fun? Completely.

The big problem? That this expansion should have been called Guild Wars 2: Heart of the Taxi. You need to taxi into this map as well to make any use of it, and it has a two hour time limit to succeed. Reality is, I rarely get to do this one as well because of real life. I have a job, kids, and things to do, so when I have a few hours at night to actually play, I don’t get to touch Tangled Depths or Dragon’s Stand. It’s sad, because this place is amazing.

If you haven’t done DS, you need to. Take some time, sit down, and enjoy the giant war that is the siege on Mordremoth.

A Few Thoughts

I really do love Heart of Thorns, but the extreme need to taxi for events, the long wait time between many meta events, and the lack of maps outside of these four, is really one of the biggest down sides of Heart of Thorns. Yes, you get four maps that have some serious events to them, but if you don’t get into a good map, you don’t get to play a large chunk of the expansion. This type of taxi-gating is infuriating at times and has, in some moments, made me wonder why I purchased Heart of Thorns.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I bought the expansion and you’ll see why next week, but there are definitely some frustrations. This expansion is not perfect, but I think it’s a great start. When you do get to experience a lot of metas, you’ll find that they’re quite engaging and exciting, with some fun mechanics to them. Are they game-changers? Definitely not.

Thoughts on the HoT Expansion

Many of us can look back to the day at PAX, whether we were there in person or on Twitch, and remember that rush of excitement when Heart of Thorns was released. I mean, we could easily see it coming with how they ended off the Living Story. Still, it was a moment that I’ll probably never forget. Then came that release trailer and the explanation of all the amazing things we’ll get to discover! Mastery system, specializations, a brand new class called the Revenant… all of these things built so much hype and excitement and then…

Well, it’s gone.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m not a hyper-critical person. I generally don’t use my blog to vent frustration, and this blog post isn’t intended to be that at all. What I do want to spend a few moments highlighting is the reality of where we are today, and what I believe many players are feeling.

You see, it was all excitement and energy–the hype was real–until those words were spoken: “When it’s ready.”

Although that didn’t phase me much at first, I look back to that announcement and noticed a severe lack of direction. I honestly have taken the approach as “let’s show them lots of great stuff, build it up to be astounding, and then hope that rides us to when we can finally release it.” Frankly, I don’t think that’s a good approach at all. Guild Wars 2 is my favourite game, and I’m actually rather disappointed that ArenaNet has taken this route. No release date? Not even a release goal? No explanation as to what’s going to happen until then? Sure, we got a few minor festivals, but that hasn’t really done anything when they set the precedent of Living Story (which we know is done until Heart of Thorns).

On top of that, I notice the slow roll-out of purchasable things in the gem store to keep them going. I’m not against this at all, but for me it puts a bad taste in my mouth. I think this all could have been done better.

“Well, you’re complaining, so give some ideas on how it should have been better!” you might say. Well, I sort of have some.

You see, the reality is that I don’t work for ArenaNet and therefore, can’t really understand their situation. I also have never worked in the gaming industry. Heck, having a family member in the gaming industry has really opened my eyes as to what it looks like–nothing like I imagined. We often approach it from a sense of entitlement saying: “I’m the consumer! I deserve [insert thing here]” but sometimes it’s not that simple. Wait, actually, it’s almost never that simple. So yes, I understand that I don’t have the full picture. I’m just thinking…

  1. Expansions should never be announced without a projected release quarter.
    • Sure, this gives the challenge of being seen as having a “broken promise,” but people are going to have unrealistic expectations. Such is consumerism. Anytime you’re going to release something that’s game-changing, you need to at least have a projection for people to work with. Otherwise you end up with your players being disillusioned. Judging from many people I’ve encountered in-game, that’s growing at a rapid rate. At least, that’s been my experience.
  2. Be clear about your game plan.
    • This has been one of ArenaNet’s biggest challenges. When they tried to be clear, they felt they got bit, so they pulled back completely. I don’t think this was a smart move at all. I think they need to be clear about where they’re going from here. Even if they don’t give out a projected release date, they should at least say what they’re doing in-between. The problem is if they say “nothing,” then people will leave until the expansion. There’s due diligence that needs to be done on their part. At the moment, I’m left wondering if they even have a game plan until then, or if we’re just abandoned. The time between Living Story updates were painful enough, but we at least knew what would happen–we knew the game plan.
  3. Do small things to bring about a “freshness” in the game instead of “stagnancy.”
    • They’ve played around with quite a few things that used to be in the game as small updates. For instance, SAB was a huge hit among many (I’m highlighting that, in spite of the fact that I didn’t like it at all, most people did). Bring it back. Who cares if there’s nothing new? There’s an expansion coming. Is it possible to reactivate it? Well, I don’t work for ArenaNet but I would assume there is.
    • Perhaps starting another WvW Tournament would be an effective thing to keep things going for a bit?
    • Maybe even a few more basic “Festival” things that they’ve done before could work? I’m not sure how, as Dragon Bash had too much LS storyline in it to my understanding (I was absent during that time), and the Zephyrites are now grounded (no Labyrinthine Cliffs). Still, small things need to be done to keep people engaged when that was the premise of your game since near the beginning.

Now please hear me out. I’m not *complaining* per se. I’m simply pointing out that there are elements that I’m not pleased with, and I’m using this as a medium to hopefully open up some dialogue as to what people think could improve. I’m still committed to Guild Wars 2 and adore it. I’ve put lots of real cash into the game to support ArenaNet as I love what they’ve been doing. What I will say is that I don’t even look forward to logging in very often anymore, and that has a lot to do with the current approach–pure silence.

“When it’s ready.” <– That line right there? It needs to die. It feels rather insulting, to be honest. “Let’s give you lots of great stuff to look forward to, but you don’t know when you’ll ever get it.

Honestly, I was excited on that day for Heart of Thorns. Now? I honestly don’t feel like I care about it because I feel like it’ll never happen. I’m being shown snippets of stuff but none of it really feels complete. Yes, we got the Stronghold Beta (and I’m not a huge PvP guy, I’ll admit), and I think that was a very wise move on their part. Still, I think that things could have been done better.

The bottom line is that I hope ArenaNet starts communicating more openly and giving us something solid to work with. Why? Because I love Guild Wars 2, and I wholeheartedly want it to be even better than it already is!

What’re your thoughts on how the expansion has been handled so far? Post in the comments below and please, keep it respectful of others!

A New Journey – The Juggernaut

Guild Wars 2 is about the journey, not the end. One of the biggest things that I’ve experienced is setting my own goals and achieving them. For instance, I recently managed to get every piece of Ascended armour and trinkets! Furthermore, I even have an Ascended Hammer, Staff, and Greatsword (although I rarely run the latter). Even accomplishing my WupWup’s Ascended Armour (Celestial Stats) was exciting for me.

Yes, people argue and debate over whether Celestial is great for a Guardian or not. Perhaps it’s not optimal, but I never have to be swapping my gear to accomplish what I want since, in Guild Wars 2, skill > stats. Also, I generally hate full zerker builds (and spend way too much time rezzing full zerkers during World Bosses and other events). With that said, my Ele, Thief, and Ranger are all full zerker (although I’m contemplating tweaking my Ranger). Anyway, I digress.

After completing my ascended gear, I felt pretty accomplished and thought: “Now what?”

My lovely pieces of Ascended gear!

My lovely pieces of Ascended gear!

Well, I have an answer to the “Now What??” — The Juggernaut!!!

Now, I’ve heard people say that legendaries are absolutely impossible (and I’ve actually stated that in the past), but I stopped and took a look at what it takes for a legendary, and it’s not as bad as I thought.

For the Juggernaut, the main things I’m looking at gathering are the following:

Gift of Metal

  • 250 Mithril Ingots (Complete)
  • 250 Darksteel Ingots (Complete)
  • 250 Platinum Ingots
  • 250 Orichalcum Ingots
    • This isn’t as hard as it seems. Legendaries take time, so I just hold on to all the ori I find. I’m not big into farming. I get lots from salvaging from world bosses!

Vial of Quicksilver

  • 500 Manifestos of the Moletariate (Sorrow’s Embrace Tokens)
  • 150 Molten Lodestones
    • Ok, these are one big pain. Not horrific to get because they supposedly drop from Citadel of Flame but still, they’re expensive. It’s not the toughest part though.
  • 250 Silver Doubloons
    • I think this is what would make someone want to scream and cry. They’re extremely difficult to get, so you may as well dish out the 300g on them. Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of people trying to send me the one or two that they get. It means a lot!
  • 250 Steel Ingots (Almost Complete)

Gift of the Juggernaut

  • Gift of Metal
  • Vial of Quicksilver
  • 100 Icy Runestones
    • 100g on the nose
  • Superior Sigil of Sanctuary (dirt cheap!)

77 Mystic Clovers

  • I’ve already gotten my 77 Mystic Clovers, but if you’re curious as to how to make them, throw in 1 Obsidian Shard, 1 Mystic Coin, 1 Glob of Ectoplasm, and 6 Philosopher’s Stones.

These are what I’m focusing on at the moment, while saving up my Elaborate Totems, Piles of Crystalline Dust, Powerful Venom Sacs, Vials of Powerful Blood, Ancient Bones, Armored Scales, Vicious Claws, and Vicious Fangs (T6 Crafting Mats), along with getting to 250 Ectos. World Bosses and Champions definitely help me with these!

To be honest, I’ve heard many people say that precursors are the worst part of legendaries and that’s true, so I figure if I have everything else taken care of, then I can keep saving more money for the precursor.

Yes, this takes a long time. No, it’s not “easy.” Still, I love the Juggernaut so much that I know in the next 6 months, I’ll have it for sure. It’s a journey, not an instant reward. Still, I think it’ll be worth it to show off my beautiful armour with that metallic effect. *Drools*

Have you ever wanted a legendary? If so, which one, and why? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from them, and respond!

Like a Thorn in My Foot

I’m a pretty optimistic guy–at least, I try to be. Sure, I have my moments where things are overly bleak, but I usually get my head around to where it should be. I don’t make knee-jerk opinions about things, and I don’t react with hate and over-the-top craziness when ArenaNet makes changes to Guild Wars 2. So I’ve taken the time over the past few months to chew on what they’ve done, play around with it, and embrace as much as possible. Yet I want to share something that’s been like a thorn that’s stuck in my foot (and no it’s not a sylvari that big ol’ Asmund stepped on by accident).


I actually love the trait system and how it’s set up. I find it flexible, because it’s easy to change around now (thank you ANet, for stopping me from having to dish out so much cash through respeccing… back in Lion’s Arch… multiple times a week. I love changing my build way too much.). That’s probably one of the best changes they ever did for Guild Wars 2 (and if they made it so we could have presets, I would be even happier!).

Still, there’s something that came with this change in the Feature Patch that bothers me about traits. You might think it’s how new characters have to unlock their traits through accomplishing tasks such as completing a specific event (or you could just pay in-game money and skill points for). No, that’s not it. That’s actually kind of fun for me to do. If I miss an event, I’ll usually dump some silver for the lower tiers, although the skill points are sorely missed at times.

A bit of background: Once upon a time you would start at level 11, unlocking your first tier after purchasing a little manual and gaining 1 trait point all the way up to 80, giving you 70 points. You would unlock your Master Tier at 40, and your Grandmaster at 60 by purchasing the aforementioned manual.

Now, I appreciate the change from having 70 trait points and bringing it down to 14. It made things a lot simpler, since you would trait into either a minor or major trait any way. Still, there’s one thing that’s a real frustration for me…

Issue #1 – What levels you unlock your first traits at.

For anyone starting a new character, you’ll notice you level all the way up to Lv. 30 before you unlock this great thing called the Trait System. Then you… uhhh… you wait six levels before you can do anything extra other than a major trait! YAY! Major trait! Of course, you’re also going to notice that you can’t use any of them unless you have completed certain requirements (which I had mentioned above). That’s ok, but Lv. 30? Really? You run through the game, having all your weapon skills unlocked pretty early and gain your utilities, but you don’t even get to figure out what traits do until much past 30 because…

Issue #2 – You don’t get Master Traits until 60, and Grandmaster until 80.

If somebody’s going to have a build figured out, originally it was before 80. Or at least they had a chance to play with grandmaster traits. This worked well in the process of the game, as you’d hit 80 around the Lv. 80 zones and already feel a bit more comfortable approaching areas such as Orr, or Frostgorge. You’d be comfortable if you were a new player, or a player who is attempting a new profession. Now, you walk into Lv. 80 fairly clueless without doing your research and, even then, you’re having absolutely no hands-on experience. Perhaps this was an attempt to make the later levels seem more like an “end-game,” but I find it’s just made the levelling process feel painful (and that’s coming from an alt-aholic).

Since the change, I haven’t been able to get my characters levelled very quick at all, because it takes me a very long time before I get to play around with any builds, or experiment with traits. This game is not based around an “end-game,” but a journey. Sadly, as I reflect on this change (and have never really spoken much of it to anybody but my wife), I’m wishing it were different. This change has taken away from the journey itself.

Perhaps, as an answer, there could be a blend?

Is There a Solution?

Yes, I believe there is! I’m thinking that we somehow need a blend. There are obvious problems if ArenaNet changed what levels the tiers unlock though.

  • They would have to change which events and activities had to be completed in order to unlock new traits–especially for Master and Grandmaster Tiers.
  • The prices would potentially have to be adjusted for purchasing each trait unlock from your respective profession trainer.
  • The trait point gain would have to be adjusted (from 1 point every 6 levels to a more frequent amount).

My solution?

  1. Begin traits again at Lv. 10 and unlock it all at Lv. 60.
    • This would eliminate the issue with 1 point every 6 levels, because that approach could continue to be used.
  2. Maintain the current cost of trait unlocks.
    • This may encourage people to only purchase if they are unwilling to (or cannot) unlock them manually.
  3. Go through the effort to change most of the events to be level-appropriate.
    • This would be the biggest issue that ArenaNet would have to face, and it’s the biggest problem I can see. I don’t know if there would be a way around it, and I’m not sure they really have the manpower (or desire) to change it.

Still, I think that something has to be done. Levelling used to be a thrill for me. It was a well-rounded journey (yes, that’s subjective, but I loved it). Now? I can’t seem to find the desire because it takes me way too long to start figuring out my character because of how significant traits are in this game. The game was created to be simplified with only 10 skills available at a given time (not including class mechanics), and I’m not convinced people found the combat system so complex that they had to wait until 30 before they started delving into traits.

This is the most beautiful part of a beautiful game–my favourite game I’ve ever played, and am passionately committed to. After thinking since April, I’ve finally decided that yes, this would be the most pressing issue in the system for me above everything else. I hope that one day ArenaNet manages to find some kind of blend with the old system and the new.

Have you enjoyed the new system? Is there something you could see in it to be improved? How should it be tweaked to enhance your experience in Tyria? Post in the comments below, because I would love to hear what you have to say!

Tequatl’s Demise

[ANGL] took out Tequatl--with the help of many!

[ANGL] took out Tequatl–with the help of many!

One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in Guild Wars 2 was on Friday night where the guild I’m in, [ANGL], took out Tequatl. Not just took him out, but spawned him, rallied forces around Tyria, and organized something we had never done. It was a great beginning, an exciting experience, and a great time using some leadership skills. My wife, Briony, commanded north defence. I oversaw north turrets as well as co-oversaw the zerg. We had many other guildies including Death Talker (otherwise known as Wolfie) who commanded everything as a whole and was the brain of pulling it all together. Although our first phase and first battery defence took a bit of time to get into, we started rocking it!

I’m not going to give any details on how to take down Tequatl. Greater minds than I have come before me to prepare all of it for you. Have you ever heard of [TTS]? They’ve laid out an amazing explanation of how Tequatl works here. You can also check out with Dulfy’s guide here.

The biggest advice I could give is to listen to the commander of the map, and know exactly how Tequatl works. The spine of it all are the turrets, which I usually love running (although I’ve been having connection issues lately). Keep his scales down, and you’re looking at a victory. Still, for everyone to know: never quit Tequatl until either he’s dead, or the timer’s up. I’ve seen so many people quit because there’s 3 minutes left. When I’ve seen one burn phase move to a battery defence, to a burn phase, etc. Stay focused, stack might, and keep pushing and you’ll take down Tequatl if you’re following the guides.

So it was a proud moment for [ANGL] and we hope to do more of spawning Tequatl as a Guild World Event. It’s my favourite encounter in the game (I’ve taken down the Three-Headed Wurm, but prefer Tequatl) and my wife and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without people who put confidence in us and have built us to where we are today with Tequatl.

Special Thanks To:

  • Lerif, who commands Tequatl with a kind heart and great encouragement. You’re always a pleasure to play GW2 with, and you taught us everything we know about Tequatl.
  • Briony, my wife, who laughs her way through the good and bad runs and events.
  • Wolfie, who pulled together our Guild Tequatl event.
  • Hafreeze, who has been my turret buddy during my entire vacation.
  • Bob and Miri, who also took over commanding areas and I’m so thankful because we couldn’t have done it without you!
  • [TTS], because you’re always kind to me even though I’m not part of your guild, and you’re always positively responsive when I’m wanting to help.
  • All of [ANGL] because, hey, I love you guys.
  • All of those who joined in that aren’t part of [ANGL] because you made Tequatl possible.
  • Finally, to ArenaNet for the mind-blowing game that you’re building into an even greater game with every passing month. Thank you, for your kind words and support of my blog, as well as the joys and memories I’ve been able to make in game–it’s all because of you.

Learning and Growing

I’m going to jump right in today because whether you agree or disagree with me, there are two things I can appreciate ArenaNet for:

1) Their ability to look into the past and learn from it.

Now, I hear complaints at times that ArenaNet doesn’t learn from their mistakes and have no hope or future. This is pure lunacy. Sure, there can be validity to some people wrestling through lore conflicts and issues (which is bound to happen to some extent in any sequel, especially when one wasn’t originally planned from the beginning), but the assertion that ArenaNet doesn’t care about what they hear is ridiculous. They hear, they read, and they work for a purpose. Of course, in their attempt to develop something that is simultaneously art, entertainment, and business, there are bound to be awkward lines to try to wrestle through.

As we’re seeing in Living Story Season 2, they’re looking back at what they did right and what they could improve on from last year. They’ve heard the cries of wanting more solo content (repeating story instances with achievements linked to them) and even created a new zone! They’re now trying to find a “sweet spot” in terms of where everything is focused on the story development by avoiding opening up Dry Top too much at once so that it becomes stale, while still keeping an emphasis on it. This takes time, effort, and meticulous planning based upon what they’ve learned from Season 1. So far, I’m blown away. You guys are doing awesome!

2) Their strength and determination for their dreams and goals, and sticking to it.

This is probably one of the greatest things I admire about ArenaNet. Yes, many people think that because they’ve paid for the game that Guild Wars 2 should be exactly what they want, how they want, in the way and time that they want. I’m afraid I have to disagree on the basis of leadership. Good leadership doesn’t mean you bend over backwards every time someone comes with a complaint. Yes, it means that you listen adequately, but you don’t have to do everything they say. Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right (and from my experience, seldom right if they’ve never had the experience of being in the business).

Yet ArenaNet does not run around and bash people who complain. They merely listen and disregard unproductive chatter and focus on things that are productive. Still, at the end of the day, they have their dreams and goals and are going to follow them. They have a vision and a plan and yes, we are being heard–it does not mean that it’s going to be exactly what we want or expect.

Is it frustrating to hear that things will be ready “soon”? Yes. Those lines need to be used less frequently. Instead, they’ve been focusing on the forums lately to be less chatty about things being done “soon” and more on “we can’t talk right now about it because it will spoil things, and may change.” Whatever they say about the game in the public eye will be taken as gospel truth. On one hand, we need to take it all with a grain of salt until it’s been implemented in the game. On the other hand, they should always be careful as well.


Still, I have tremendous respect for ArenaNet and where they’re going. I was disheartened for a while, but look back and wish I had committed myself earlier to the Living Story. Now, I’m on board. I’m sold.

Are you?

I’ve Been Entangled

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not completed Living Story Season 2: Episode 2, “Entanglement,” then there will be spoilers in the following.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the next bit of our Living Story. Already today we’ve seen a snapshot of what’s coming next and I’m pretty excited. Mordremoth’s reach is spreading across Tyria. We’ve seen vine after vine, absorbing magic through the waypoints, which can only mean that Mordremoth is gaining strength at an alarming rate. This is going to create a bigger foe than we’ve ever thought possible! It’s in ArenaNet’s hands now to escalate this to a level we never imagined, and I think they’re going there!

Everybody has a different opinion on the Living Story, but I’m finding myself in love with where we’re going. Sure, we have a few strange happenings like:

1. The hero suddenly knows Mordremoth’s name, without any explanation.

  • I can’t really find a solid explanation of this, and I wish this is something they hadn’t done. I’m usually pretty gracious, but this one made me do a double-take.

2. We intercept Taimi from using Omadd’s machine and end up seeing the vision ourselves.

  • My wife’s exact words were: “Mass Effect, much?” It honestly didn’t bother us, but we laughed. Still, there are enough significant differences, if only in the vision itself, that make it completely unique comparatively.

3. Apparently, a moose has seen the Eternal Alchemy in Omadd’s device as well.

Still, despite these couple things (and a hilarious #3), I feel that good ol’ Mordy is a pretty fun villain. We’re seeing things of Scarlet tie together like how the Steam creatures were developed and how the portals work; we’re experiencing brand new monsters that we’ve never faced (always a favourite experience of mine); we’ve seen that there’s something greater going on in Tyria involving the Elder Dragons than we ever imagined.

But what does it mean? (And why is the rum gone?)

But what does it mean? (And why is the rum gone?)

People are speculating as to what each of these orbs mean that we saw in Omadd’s device (which, by the way, I did not expect in the slightest!). Personally, I think something’s pulling the strings on the Elder Dragons to maintain a balance of magic within Tyria. We see orbs representing Kralkatorrik (top-right), Zhaitan (right), Jormag or Bubbles (bottom-right and top-left), Primordus (bottom-left), and finally Mordremoth (left). Still, Mordremoth gets pulled into the center and things go a little bit crazy… what does it all mean? I’m sure we’ll know in 2015, but for now I think we’re on a good path. Permanent stories that remind me of GW1 missions, new skins (such as the ambrite weapons), and a new permanent area. We’re moving forward in a way that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and that makes me happy.

Will this progress keep up? I certainly hope so. They’ve already started finding a bit of a sweet spot in terms of the releases, at least for me, and I hope they keep up with the surprises. The continued elaboration on Scarlet is extremely welcome, and Taimi is a breath of fresh air. Jory and Kasmeer, I could do without, but hey, we’re improving with every step!

So I leave you with a picture of the eye of Sauron’s lesser-known brother, Mordy’s eye:

Sauron? Is that you?

Sauron? Is that you?