No Thanks, I’m Good

One of the events coming back in Guild Wars 2 is the Twisted Marionette encounter from early in the Living World days. You know, when the devs thought it would be super clever to spend tremendous resources on unique events and then literally delete them from the game after X weeks. That sort of nonsense has been a bad idea forever, so my interest was piqued when I heard ArenaNet is bringing back some of the Season 1 content.

Then I came across a helpful guide to the encounter on Reddit:

New drinking game: take a shot every time it mentions an ability will one-shot you. And prepare to be downed yourself.

I slid off Guild Wars 2 towards the beginning of Season 1, so I have no attachment to this “fan-favorite” event. And, granted, I led raids in WoW for many years which had the same sort of one-shot, “wipe the raid because one person didn’t dance correctly” mechanics. Perhaps that was the idea of the time, to craft an encounter similar to those of its peers, even though I don’t think anyone ever actually thought it would be a good idea in GW2. Sure, put on some zerg protection for X number of bosses to shake things up. But this sort of thing? Yikes.

So, anyway, Twisted Marionette is back for whomever still enjoys that sort of thing.

It was interesting feeling my physical revulsion bubble up just from reading that guide though; a sort of literal gut check of where I am in 2021 regarding group content. I do still log in very occasionally to GW2, sometimes seeking out the world events and killing dragons. The zerg is much maligned as mindless, and I suppose it is, but that has always felt more core to the GW2 experience than anything else. A big pile of people and particle effects, working separately together, without competition or ego, achieving great things. I never felt bad seeing another player beside me, or was concerned about their DPS performance or general competency. The more the merrier!

I have been out of the raiding game so long that it’s difficult to imagine ever enjoying the opposite experience. Highly regimented, strictly choreographed, tightly tuned… school group projects. Wherein your personal aptitude is diluted in a pool of randos who very much care less about the final grade than you do. Sometimes it’s even worse when you know everyone else, because now you have worry about letting them down, or worry about pretending you aren’t annoyed when they let you down.

Is there a sense of pride and accomplishment when you finally defeat the difficult encounter as a group? Sure. Although it’s more relief than anything, as I get to avoid the awkward, weekly debriefing in which I try to delicately tell our best DPS that her healing boyfriend needs to step up or he’s getting benched. And even though we succeeded, there are those who wanted both gone due to drama.

I used to do this sort of thing for fun? Christ almighty. No thanks, I’m good.

[Fake Edit:] For the complete opposite take, look no further than Bhagpuss.

The next two lanes also killed theirs but after that it was fail time for everyone, and we wiped. Second time around we did even worse and then I had to go to bed. It was a great introduction all the same.

He’s not being facetious. Dude is clearly an (inter)national treasure and we should all aspire to be this excited to still fail through no fault of our own, instead of considering that being literally the worst possible outcome.

Posted on July 16, 2021, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Turning back the clock is hard. The genie, once let out of the bottle, is difficult to stuff back in. I’ve yet to check it out, though I probably should and will, over the weekend.

    I share that same physical revulsion bubbling up on reading the guide – same indication of where I am with MMO group content. Quite over it. Though in this case, it’s after two years of dedicated raiding where it was relentlessly made clear over and over that “good enough” wasn’t going to be settled for, and everyone needed to keep attempting to achieve benchmark levels of performance – benchmarks done by the top 0.1% of players with single or double digit ping in controlled surroundings. Because everyone should keep striving for mastery and lord help you if you don’t value mastery as a gameplay aspiration, drama drama rabble rabble.

    Dps meters don’t lie where damage numbers are concerned. Once players have a yardstick of measurement, the cat of knowledge is out of the bag and won’t be hidden again. And everyone who does better feels justified in scorning the rest who do worse. This entirely changes the feel of a multiplayer community – no one’s coming together, everyone is concerned with splitting apart and finding scapegoats to blame. As more of a hermit player, I don’t like much community to begin with, so it’s even harder to like it when everyone is at each other’s throats.

    In theory, public Marionette isn’t a raid, so there shouldn’t be as high difficulty or as much pressure. In practice though, I wonder… If there’s one thing we’ve seen, even in the real world, the urge to take sides and demonize “the other” is super easy to resort to.

    “MMO” isn’t much of a draw any more if the selling point is that you can watch people squabble and blame each other, may as well just frequent Twitter and Reddit.


    • Anymore, I don’t even blame people for being toxic in group settings. Would it be better if everyone was more chill and treated each other with respect? Absolutely. But I also consider “treating others with respect” as “respecting other people’s time” which means coming to these group events both willing and capable of pulling one’s weight. That means knowing how to play your own class, gearing appropriately, and knowing at least the basics of the encounter before starting.

      Is that unreasonable? Maybe. It does seem poor design to assume that your playerbase either has to do research outside of the game or cause 40+ other people to fail until you learn by experience. Trial & error is fine, generally. Trial & error at the expense of strangers is not.

      Or maybe I’m just wrong, and these games simply aren’t for me (anymore).


      • Capability is a spectrum though. Do you define capability as being able to defeat the boss? Meeting 60, 70, 80, 90, 100% of the benchmark? The issue is differing values and priorities. A guy who is fine with 80% will still squabble with someone who wants 90%.

        Take a public group content boss. Some might hold the opinion that learning should be done in-game, and have the expectation of a few fails before a successful kill, and expect others to guide them. Some might hold the opinion that learning should be done in pre-advance, outside of the game, in order not to waste other players’ time. Neither is unreasonable. The conflict in values creates massive arguments though, and it makes the game unplayable for both parties. Hence one questions if and why MMOs are relevant anymore.

        A multiplayer game would suffice – like players with similar values could meet each other in lobbies and play together, preferably in a game skewed towards their preferences. A massively multiplayer game means inevitably people with unlike values coming into contact and eventual conflict with each other.

        The original dream of GW2 was to sand away those rough spots by design. By necessity, it would mean a less punishing game – but they moved away from that years ago, since Heart of Thorns, and the audience changed as well.


      • Capability is absolutely a spectrum, I agree. Indeed, the root cause of the issue to begin with is likely a mismatch of expectations. If someone joins a raid farm thinking that it’s fine to wipe a few times until they personally figure things out, everyone is going to have a bad time.


  2. I think this really needs some perspective. The Marionette event isn’t hard or challenging or difficult, at least by the standard of virtually any other mmo you care to name. It doesn’t require any special gear or training or equipment. In it’s original incarnation it didn’t even require you to be level 80 (something the new instanced version does) because it took place in an open-world Level 30-40 map and anyone who could get there could join in.

    Even now, during the two runs I mentioned that failed, the guy giving the pep talk at the start did mention it would be nice if people were at least wearing Exotic gear and could remember to eat something. That’s setting a very low bar for entry and even then it was only a polite request.

    The two fails were on the first night, with most people either never having seen the event before or, like me, barely remembering how it went. The atmosphere was similar to any new large-scale event in GW2, a lot of joking and no-one taking anything too seriously. Those were both “private” instances but private only in the sense that they were open pick-up squads with absolutely no criteria for joining other than who could press Join fastest.

    The next night I did it two more times in the Public version and it succeeded, easily, both times. I did this event scores of times seven years ago when it was around for a few weeks and it usually succeeded if enough people turned up. It is basically a zerg event in the sense that the more people you throw at it, the easier it gets. The Private Squad version, with a max of 50 players, is at the low end of that, so it will be a little harder doing it that way, but people knowing what they’re up to should counter that. Ideally it works best with about 75 people, I’d say.

    Anyway, I think the key thing to remember is that “Hardcore for GW2” in most contexts translates as “Suitable for Ultra-Casuals” by the standards of any other mmo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s some good context to know.

      Having said that, is the public version “easy” when you are the ones outside in the lanes killing mobs, or easy when you’re one of a few – 3? 4? – people on the platform who can get one-shot by mechanics or not DPS fast enough within 2.5 minutes and move the meter 25%? I can absolutely see it as the former, but not at the latter.

      Any time you combine one-shot mechanics with “fail the entire raid,” you end up instantly traveling towards the hardcore part of the MMO spectrum.


      • Of the five bosses, there’s only one that genuinely “one-shots” and even then only if you don’t know how to dodge. Knowing how to dodge is a day-one skill in GW2. There’s a tutorial on it in every starter map. Anyone who hasn’t worked out how to dodge by the time they do Marionette has a lot more problems coming to them than just this fight!

        The thing is, nothing in the event requires any different level of skill or different use of ability to all of the regular content almost all players would engage with in open world maps. It just asks for people to pay attention to those same mechanics and co-operate with each other. And it’s not fundementally different from any other “Dynamic Event” in that all of them rely to some degree on co-operation and co-ordination among large numbers of players.

        The real difference is in the way the platforms split people into small groups automatically. There are many GW2 events where splitting into groups and handling mobs in small teams is the best way to do things but usually you can muddle through by sheer weight of numbers instead. And you still could in this event, as it was originally designed. If you read the original guide on Dulfy you’ll see back then the recommended number of players per lane was 25. That puts five people on each platform, which is more than enough to brute-force the event. As i recall, it rarely failed if you had a full map, even when people didn’t really know what they were doing.

        The instanced version is more hardcore because of the 50 player limit, it’s true, but that is elective, instanced content, not open world, so I guess it’s allowed to be harder. The public event is also harder than it would have been seven years ago because map limits are smaller now than they were then (I believe) so you can’t get 25 per lane any more. It’s still pretty straightforward with 15, though.


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