Yesterday evening we spent some time to explore the various aspects of the changes of the Flame & Frost: Prelude patch. In general I like what ArenaNet has done to the game. I can only agree with Ravious of Kill Ten Rats: The game seems to be more polished and more balanced. We went to Orr, trying to catch some events and I had the impression that events have become slightly harder than before, but giving out much better loot. I finished my map completion on Cursed Shore with my guardian, making a few gold by selling the gear. The prices of globs have increased lately, but it’s nothing in comparison to getting 3 gold (or more) for a level 80 exotic drop.
We moved to the Wayfarer Foothills and found ourselves in an overflow. This hadn’t happened here for a long time and we exploited the situation to get the Refugee Volunteer title in about half an hour. I was slightly disappointed since I expected more lore background pointing to the upcoming storyline. At least I was expecting some short NPC dialog on why probably the situation is so miserable, why refugee corpses pave the main routes, why they have trophies that some other guy collects and why there are no refugee caravans or gatherings. Maybe it was the norn’s nature but everything seemed calm and under control by the local authorities.
We did some tornado events, I finished my daily by reviving feeble refugees and in general explored the area. Did you notice: there is a new cave and a bridge in the south eastern part of the foothills, connecting the lower southern area to the highlands in the north. The big norn housings in the north eastern part (where the worms event takes place) seems to have been repolished, too.
Crafting more gear
I spent some money to craft my first two Superior Runes of the Ranger, giving me some more crit to improve my altruistic healing. There are still lots of things missing, I still need more jewelry and more runes, but there has to be something to work on. The rune system is interesting and complex. Like in all other aspects of the game, selecting and equipping your runes is a compromise, too. The Ranger Rune is in high demand currently and you will pay 2,5 Gold for one. I spent half of the money on Onyx Cores and Elonian Wine and used what I had in my bag to craft two of them.
World vs. World
Finally we jumped into the borderlands where our server currently gets beaten up by the Jade Sea and the Piken Square. I don’t know what’s going on on Riverside. We were very strong once, but obviously many players and whole guilds have abandoned the server. We’re still in 3rd tier and it looks as if we could stay there to improve, but participation is on an all time low. Maybe it’s ArenaNet announcement on ranking resets, maybe it’s just giving up. With this I may wrong lots of players who are working on winning the battle, but everytime I join the battleground, it’s a mess.
People arguing in map chat, even commanders, people complaining how bad the game is thanks to ArenaNet, how bad the game is thanks to the other players, how bad the game is thanks to the commander. People afking at gathering nodes, afking in the jumping puzzle, waiting for zerg. It’s not casual WvW fun, it’s work. Hard work nobody really likes. And at the same time Jade Sea runs us over like a truck.
However, a norn guardian and a human thief approached the foreign borderlands. We had the two camps and the tower in the south eastern part. Playing the guardian in WvW is way better than playing the engineer. You can run a quite offensive strategy, snare & root, teleport to your enemy, dodge through the enemy and knock him back out of his zerg. If your timing is right, it’s a major surprise because you knock your target out of the zerg he is in into your own zerg in a blink of a second. I got busted a few times overestimating my guardians capabilities (or maybe my playing capabilities :) but I gained more than 20 kills in about 1,5 hours which gave me my monthly achievement (hey, that’s a lot for me!).
When the Piken Square zerg arrived at our tower, only the two of us were defending. My brother cunningly placed an arrow cart (I will never learn where to place them for good) and I did the old “hitting through the closed gate with my staff” trick. I could not believe it, but we managed to repel the attackers. They were about 20-25, I brought down their ram and the arrows were so annoying, that they slowly retreated from the tower. Either it was bad, bad planning (no supplies) or they got other orders, but when they were just retreating a friendly commander zerg came around and made them flee in haste.
I imagine to have experienced a better culling effect. I had a slightly better impression of the enemies presence and force, a few seconds before the truck hit me. It’s a slightly longer time to react on, but it’s still not sufficient. Portals and mass excursions through a keep’s or tower’s gate still seem to stress the render engine. Some situations I found myself exposed to a small zerg where I have been flanked by allies just a second before. The patch is definitely an improvement, but I hope upcoming changes will adjust this even more.
I’m okay with laurels. I seem to have a problem with a game, though, enabling me to calculate exactly when I am going to get things. I know I will need 30 days (if I am able to play regularly and finish my daily in time) to get my amulet. This is like World of Warcraft: Dungeon x for n times to collect these tokens, daily runs here and there. It’s a treadmill. Meh.
Laurels are still a good approach, if they can be obtained by other means or activities (guild events maybe?). Therefore, I’m looking forward to the configurable dailies. I am afraid, they will just rely on the variations we already know. Then I will just choose crafter, dodger, gatherer and maybe events – which will make it fairly easy and I will be surprised if anyone choses otherwise (maybe veteran & event combo). Let’s see what they have in charge for us.