Ascalonian catacombs: or in Bob we trust

We did it! There was shouting, there was screaming, there was cursing, there was damning. But we did it! Woot!

More to follow when not typing on my phone.

Right. At my desk. Let’s not discuss what I should be doing… *cough*

Sooo I have a stack of footage at home somewhere that I can upload to YouTube, up until the point when we were fighting the pair, whereupon my fps descended to 1 and my computer broke down sobbing. Caveat: Note the introduction, as and when I do upload it, not suitable for children. Well, the early bit is, then we started dying a lot more and the curse rate amplified.

It was, to be honest, a pretty lumpy start. Most of us died fighting the first big trash mob, but that’s to be expected. We hadn’t run anything like this before as a team, and there is one hell of a lot to adjust to in this game.

If you do watch the video (if I get around to uploading it) you’ll hear lots of raised voices. I bet people in the other Vent group were having hysterics watching the little yellow lights come in. We did notice that occasional guests came down to check on what we were up to (and possibly laugh). And congrats to Sejl for an accomplished bit of Talon-baiting when he said that their group had run the place in an hour – it took us a long long time. If anyone saw a flurry of Talon yellow lights going, that would have been the moment. Well, that or the moment he was lecturing everyone about mobility. Or maybe when he was crowing about how awesome stealth is. Or the bit where we (actually mostly me) didn’t go stand exactly where he said. *grin* But yes, Sejl’s group (him, Cio, Kaala, Kaz, and Rohke) did run the place a lot more quickly than we did.

Now obviously there were a few different viewpoints at play about how we should improve. (No, really? Would we do that?) And some sharp learning curves.

First, and unanimously, boulders are good. Boulders knock back, boulders interrupt, boulders open doors – there is a good reason that this dungeon is liberally sprinkled with boulders. Believe in the boulder. Call him Bob. Boulders can save you.

The lovers – Vassar and Ralena – are tough. They have to be kept separate, and we weren’t overly good at doing that. Plus the mesmer was spawning multiple illusions that had to be obliterated. Thank god for Bob the boulder however. Needs practice. Ea spotted a glittering slab, which we later found out opened the corridor door. Apparently this is how Sejl and team stopped them in their tracks.

The lack of classic tank or healer means that you have to be a bit more cautious in your build. At one point Ea described himself as a glass cannon – his dps was immense but it did draw quite a lot of attention…

Targetting. Under general, there’s a tickbox which name I can’t quite recall, but it has targetting in there. If you have that clicked on, when someone presses ‘control + T’, a message appears in our text fields, we all hit T, we all have the same target. (That target does also have a large red crosshair above their head to help you as well.) I’ve seen this targetting being used in world versus world pvp – so I’d definitely suggest turning it on.

Mobility. Dodge and roll. Kiting. (Sources of frequent Talon lectures.) Mobility does keep you alive. Well, for a few seconds more at least. Our melee guys were having a particularly tough time. I think partly because the traditional trinity is gone. Partly mobility. Partly that we are still learning to play as a team.

Combos. Combos, combos, combos. I know that Talon is sceptical of the power of combos. But I think they are Bob-like in their undiscovered potential. And I know that as a team close together, Farr and I worked well. Which leads to my next point…

Swapping weapons. According to all I read about rangers, the secret of effective battle is swapping pets and swapping weapons. I don’t know enough about the other classes to know whether this is also true for you (well, not the pet bit obviously), but I think it probably is. Know your weapons, know your fields, know your finishers (ah, the ideal) and we are stronger in effect. My water field healing is one hell of a lot stronger with a whirl, blast or jump finisher.

Traits and skills. Getting the balance right. God knows how, but there’s some magic to work there.

Finally, there’s still some work to be done on our game perspective. I already wrote a post earlier about how we need to be a bit more independent, using our own heals etc. But that is not to say that this is ‘each man for himself’. If we’re five players working independently, we’re rubbish. Yes, we need that mobility and we’re dashing around like mad people (norns, sylvari, asura, charr) but finding a gather spot is useful for our heals particularly, and clearing conditions.



An hour bashing our heads against a brick wall

We tried everything. We searched Reddit. We moved onto overflow servers. We ran away from the gate. We stared blankly and sadly at an empty lobby with none of our companions in it. But we could not manage to get into the Ascalonian Catacombs last night. Ten people ready, prepared, primed for action – and imminent and interesting death. And nope: nada, zip, zilch. It would not let us in. Or it would taunt us with two arrives but no more. Neither of our two parties could defeat the vicious demon of server capacity.

It’s a bit sad. And disheartening to a group who managed to muster so many at short notice. But the game is still so freshly launched, perhaps it is to be expected. I’ve bounced off the invisible walls in WoW dungeons enough to know that it happens in even the biggest players on the scene. But even so…

It’s a measure of GW2’s success that they have so many people rushing to experience the content. And for the majority of us regular speed levellers it means that we are hitting that level content at the same moment as the rest of the regulars – and the dungeon servers are overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what will happen next. Arenanet have our money already, but I’ve been impressed by their willingness to turn money away – there are no digital purchases for GW2 currently, as they are trying to manage the flood of people onto the game. Three new servers have been opened for the US and another three for Europe. Perhaps they need some new dungeon servers? (Is that how it works? *bemused*)

Still the evening ended on a positive note for me – thanks to Ea and Sejl I discovered whole new areas, collected many new skill points, and painfully (for them) leapt my way to undiscovered vistas and chests.

But one day we shall return to vanquish the dungeon gate demon!

Old habits, new thinking

Old habits are indeed hard to break.

During last night’s stress test, a group of us plunged into World vs World pvp – which is a blast, let’s be clear. The walls of the fortress were under attack, ranged spells were hammering into us as we stood behind the ramparts, attempts to bolster the gate and rebuild an arrow cart with supplies were frustrated by the onslaught of damage.

A certain person, suffering a beating, ran to find me, shouting ‘I need a heal, Bram!’

My reply: ‘Well, I can’t help you.’

‘But I thought you were a healer type.’

‘Nope, no pure healers here. We all have our own heals.’

‘But- but- I can’t do that job.’

‘And I’m on a level 2 mesmer. Can’t help you.’

As it happens, on my ranger, I can put down a water field which brings some inherent healing. But not much. Want to make that more effective? I need someone to complete it swiftly with a blast or whirl finisher. Then we will all get a semi-decent heal.

That’s Guild Wars 2 healing. It’s not my job. It’s not your job. It’s our job.
God, this is going to be a nightmare to coordinate…


As an aside, as we launched into battle against another wave of those fierce French invaders, I did call everyone back to admire my robot asura dance, and me rolling on the ground laughing. Got to love emotes. And the fact we’ll never change.