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Finding the Zone

I continue to play Guild Wars 2 every day.

I also continue to make almost zero progress on the story.

That may not be technically accurate. I have completed Living Story Season 3, Part 3, e.g. the Winterberry Farm. I used the remaining gems I had left over from cashing out my gold years ago to purchase the missing LS3 parts (1, 2, 5), and then worked my way through the LS3:P1 to start generating that map’s currency. While I had read that the Winterberry farm is by far the best place to, well, farm things, I had not quite realized how bad the others could be. With Winterberries, all my alts can farm ~50 a day. All the other maps can only be farmed once per account, and I get maybe ~13 currency if I manage to find a zerg. Considering the reward is Ascended-level items (the best possible now and possibly forever), I probably should not complain that it could take me 10-20 days of constant farming to get those rewards. But comparably, it’s much worse.

Farming though, is just a symptom of my larger problem finding a class and spec I enjoy. A problem that I might have actually solved. See, I had chosen the Necromancer as my GW2 main, and actually geared her up pretty far. I still farm Winterberries for my other alts, such as the Thief and Engineer, but the more I play them, the more I realize that the Necromancer is better in every conceivable way.

There are three main areas one needs to concern themselves with in GW2’s combat. The first is survivability. Everyone has a self-heal ability, but it typically has a ~20 second cooldown and a lot of things can happen in those ~20 seconds. Plus, there is nothing worse than sitting at less than half health, desperately waiting to heal again, and having to choose between continuing your attack as normal or dancing around the edge of combat. To this end, it’s extremely nice to have some kind of ability or talent that allows you to gain health by attacking or some other means.

The second area is, well, AoE capabilities. As mentioned before, I very much enjoy the concept and execution of Pistol/Pistol Thief vis-a-vis Unload spam, but that is a decidedly single-target attack. Having to focus on just one mob at a time when there are 4-6 guarding your Winterberry node simply isn’t fun. Plus, it impacts your survivability insofar as unanswered cannon fodder can promote themselves to deadly threats if you ignore them.

The final area is ranged options. I honestly don’t understand how Warriors and Guardians and Thieves do it, but every time I have moved into melee range of a Champion/Legendary mob as part of a zerg, I have ended up eating dirt, hoping someone finds the time to rez me before the end of the event. Beyond the zerg though, and especially in the Winterberry farm area, there are Griffon enemies that take to the skies and rain down an extremely annoying (and surprisingly deadly) AoE in melee range beneath them. My Daredevil Thief deals well with grounded foes, but having to Dodge away and wait for them to land ain’t something anyone got time for.

But then there’s my Scourge. My beautiful, capable Scourge.

Scourge is the Elite-spec for the Necromancer and by far the most powerful character I have played. It has two healing abilities that also create a damage-absorbing bubble, on top of a 5-second debuff cleanse, on top of a debuff-transference skill (from off-hand Dagger), on top of passively gaining 10% of the damage I deal as HP, on top of having a Flesh Golem tank. The AoE capabilities of the Scourge as pretty much the benchmark of all other classes. And, as you might imagine, all of this is at range. Instant-hit range too, I might add.

It all honestly reminds me of leveling Warlocks in WoW. You know, running around DoT’ing half a dozen mobs at a time, and just standing there letting them beat on you as you they die one-by-one, healing you all the while. You can’t quite be that cavalier in GW2 given the level scaling and such, but it gets closer the better gear I get.

So, yeah. I’m having fun in GW2. Just not in a way that progresses the story as of yet.


Making Gold in Wildstar

If there is one thing that I hate in MMO websites, it is when people allude to the fact that they are making gold (etc) but never explaining how. What’s the point? Bragging rights? In fact, that frustration was my part of my impetus for creating Player Vs Auction House way back in the day (which later morphed into this site).

Preamble aside, allow me the great pleasure of presenting one bulletproof gold-making method in Wildstar and two more that depend on the obliviousness of AH shoppers:

No assembly (usually) required.

No assembly (usually) required.

“But I’m not an Architect!” “The AH is flooded with these things!”

No, my friend. Sell them to… the vendors.

Bulletproof Method: Challenges

[Edit]: Carbine has since nerfed the vendor prices for many decor items, including the ones listed below, to about 60% of their prior value. The strategy still works, but not as quickly.

Extremely early on while leveling, I noticed that some of the Challenge options were awarding Decor. It’s kinda hard to get a handle on how valuable the Decor would be on the AH without seeing what it looks like, but there was one language I understood immediately: vendor price.

I’m going to be presenting you an Algoroc map to give you a few chances to nab the Chua-Tech Loading Arm (1.31g 79s) and the Shardspire Canyon FABkit (1.23g 74.1s). The following farming route is for Exiles only; I’m going to assume that a similar route exists for Dominion, but I have no such characters. Here it is:

Money Run #1

Money Run #1

In text form:

  1. Swiftpaw Slayer: Kill the wolves. Since this is a fairly early-level quest, you might actually have a hard time finding enough mobs depending on the number of other players.
  2. Skug Egg Destroyer: Kill the spider-looking eggs that alert/explode when you get nearby. You can typically dodge all the normal mobs in here and just kill eggs, which only have a few hundred HP.
  3. Scrap Yard: Pick up items off ground. It is highly recommended that you finish area story first. Once finished, 90% of the mobs in the area go neutral, which makes it considerably easier to pick up the scrap. Don’t bother with trying for gold-level; just click the “x” once you hit silver.
  4. Skittering Slaughter: Kill the spiders. The lone spider mobs seem to count for more, but I’m not sure. As before, don’t bother going higher than silver medal. There’s technically another easy Challenge in here to run through eggs, but it’s only worth about ~24s.

There you go. The exact odds are unknown, but silver medals give you a 4x higher chance of getting the decor. Nab all four, and you’ll walk away with over 5g 3g in vendor loot for something that likely took you less than 10 minutes (assuming mount, already completed area). Challenges can be repeated every 30 minutes. The one downside of this reset period is that time only counts down while you are online.

And why the hell not, here are two more in Celestion that can award the same items:

Bonus Round.

Money Run #2

In text form:

  1. Dancing with Data: Perform a DDR-esque mini-game. If it’s your first time here, you’ll need to complete the quest at the same console to unlock the challenge. I recommend using the default Ctrl-F1-F3 buttons rather than trying to mouse-click them.
  2. Licking Lolli-Lopps: Click the mushrooms. This is actually a bit harder than it sounds, as you receive a low-gravity buff and have a tendency to lose all forward momentum when running around. There are some mushrooms higher up in the trees, but they’re tricky. High chance of out-right failure if there are other people doing this one.

Nab both, walk away with 2.5g. Nab all six, and you’re looking at possibly 7.5g 4.5g every 30 minutes until you can’t stand it any more. There’s always a chance the dice roll against you, but it sure beats whatever the hell else you were doing to make gold.

…or maybe not:

Vendoring the AH

That’s right, my friends. Despite the fact that most items default to their vendor price when you list them, somehow the AH gets stocked up with below vendor priced goods. While I fully expect things to be fixed soon – either with a patch or an add-on that will vacuum all these deals automatically – for now just keep in mind to check the vendor price when looking at items. For example:

Three-way profit.

Three-way profit.

There are actually three ways to profit here.

  1. Straight-up buy items to vendor. I don’t recommend vendoring mats (see below), but if you’re looking for quick cash, this is literally free money.
  2. Check Bid prices to see if they’re beneath vendor. This FABkit, for example, had a bid price of 1g and yet vendors for 1.79g. The guy was actually trying to sell it at 5g or whatever with his Buyout Price, so technically you could try and flip it if that’s your style. For now, I’ll take 79s profit for tying up 1g for ~24 hours or so. Also, keep in mind that just bidding for shit is a good way to nab normally expensive things.
  3. Create Buy Orders for less than vendor. This one is a bit trickier, because there is a minimum charge of 5s for Buy Orders; in other words, you’ll definitely want to put in a large order and otherwise do the math to make sure you’re coming out ahead. In my case, I basically put in an order for 100 of these items (it really doesn’t matter what they are) and each one I get is +1s to me. Low-margin, sure, but the overall principal can scale to whatever size you please.

Here’s a third-level method to making gold, and the one I assume many “I can’t tell you” players are doing:

Crafting the AH

One again, we’re focusing on ultimately selling things to vendors. But instead of looking at mats to vendor, we’re looking at mats to craft into vendor bait. Example:

Something like this, but better.

Something like this, but better.

The above isn’t actually the best example, as the margin is (relatively) razor-thin here; mats cost 15.93s  (2.6*3 + 8.13) and final product vendors for 24.87s, for a net profit of 8.94s. Will you churn through the crafting interface for almost 9s a cycle? Maybe. There’s crafting XP in it for whomever would rather do this than find a tree that drops Ironbark wood. Due to the nature of crafting, you might be able to toss a few copper towards additives that can morph the final product into a slightly more valuable vendor good.

The other professions should work the same in principal, although I don’t currently have a non-beginner Weaponsmith (etc) to try it out. Just keep in mind that all of the various components (Power Cores, etc) have their own costs, and also the vendor price seems to be a function of the overall stats of the item. For example, I “over-charged” a weapon (adding more stat points at the cost of chance of failure) and it increased the vendor price by 2s. Might not sound like much, but these margins can become important later.


In any case, there you go: three methods of making gold in Wildstar. Needless to say, I highly recommend Challenge farming. It is profession agnostic, simple, and relies on nothing more than Carbine not nerfing anything. I have identified six Challenges worth more than a gold apiece, right in the starter zone for Exiles – now that you know about them, you can keep an eye out for similar payout in future Challenges for yourself.

Saw That One Coming

Just another Black Temple clear when…

What? Even *monks* can use it?

What? Even monks can use them?

Ayep. Called that one.

The funny thing I realized, inbetween the tears, is how the error message is “You can never use that item.” Challenge accepted – I’m tweeting Ghostcrawler as we speak.

Reinventing the Wheel

Other games have pretty much killed my attempt to slog through Guild War 2’s storyline, but I still rubberneck around the forums and dev posts with a sick sort of fascination. Some of their decisions make you wonder if they have been living under a rock for the last fifteen years of game design.

Hey everyone.

We are looking into an additional reward system to add to bosses so that killing a single boss feels a lot more rewarding than it does right now. We are gathering data internally on it and will release information on it as it gets closer to being implemented.

Being stuck at the last boss and unable to finish the dungeon thus receiving now reward is a terrible feeling for any player, hardcore or casual. We are looking to remedy this.

Iteration is the name of the game (source)

Hello, William Fairfield, Game Designer. Maybe bosses should, I dunno, have some loot associated with them instead of a chest filled with vendor trash to complement the same vendor trash we have been collecting from the hundred mobs we slaughtered on the way in? I think that worked in every MMO prior to this one.

We’re very aware our LFG system is lacking, an it’s high on our list of things to rework. We have some other very pressing issues to handle first, but as someone who built/runs dungeons, and often PUG them, I dislike our current obscure and non-informative system, and re-building it is high on my list of things-to-flail-my-arms-about-to-talented-people-who-can-do-something-about-it, so that they do something about it. (source)

Thank you, Robert Hrouda, Content Designer. You get 50 points for honesty. And lose 50 points for letting the game go Live with a LFG tool actually worse than the one WoW had six years ago.

[Nobody running Story modes anymore] is absolutely an issue as the game matures and we are working on ways to make running story mode with someone worthwhile even if you have already run it so players just reaching these dungeons can more easily find groups to play with. It will probably take some experimentation before we find the right motivator.

Jon (source)

Hello, Jon Peters, Game Designer. Perhaps if you did not nerf subsequent Story mode runs into the fucking ground, more people would do them? Your anti-botting protocols should already handle multiple playthroughs back-to-back, so… what was the point in such a huge reduction?

That last one really gets me. Think about it for a second. The pool of available players who have not yet ran the Story mode for a dungeon is always decreasing. That is a fact even if GW2 has increasing sales because, even ignoring server differentiation, the magnitude of new players coming in is unlikely to be higher than it was immediately after launch. The pool is always getting more shallow.

“No big deal,” I hear you say. “WoW dungeons have planned obsolescence the same way.” “Nein!” I say to you. GW2 auto-levels you down to match the dungeon mobs, which means you’ll always need a group; the longer you wait to start doing dungeons the less likely any such run will actually take place. Conversely, if I have some morbid curiosity about the story of Auchindoun Crypts in WoW after all these years, I could stroll in there with a max-level character and solo the place (barring any weird mechanics). And even if you manage to guilt four guild-mates into running a GW2 Story-mode for a second time, they are getting absolutely hosed for no goddamn reason.

Seriously, why? Oh, that’s right, there is some ridiculous fear about “farming.”

For the longest time, I could not understand why all the posts on the GW2 forums were talking about farming, diminishing returns, botting, anti-farm code, and so on. Why is this such a uniquely critical problem to GW2? Then it hit me. “You have entered too many instances lately.” Blizzard has instance caps and lockouts. PROBLEM SOLVED. Maybe I should be giving ArenaNet some credit for letting people run the same Farmable Explorable Mode as many times as they want in a day… but honestly? All this backhanded DR and anti-farm mechanics cheapens the lipstick on the pig.

I have never truly appreciated Blizzard’s methodology of instance design until seeing the alternative. People can complain about Reputation and daily quests as chores, but it is better than the wink-n-nod alternative of “we KNOW you are going to grind your face off, so let’s treat you like the little farming bots you are.” The equivalent would be for Blizzard to have removed the 25 daily quest cap (like they already did) but mathed out a decreasing reward slope to “enforce” a 25-daily limit. I do not feel that is actually any more humane, and it comes across as patronizing as well. It is the Skinner Box without the box; just some dude in a lab coat fondling your nucleus accumbens until you collapse.

If limits are necessary – and there are good arguments that limits are indeed necessary to save us from ourselves – then just give us the goddamn limits and call it a day. You can do A once per day, and B once per week. Done. This whole “do whatever you want… except that, and that too, and maybe you should go outside for a while, eh?” is just dumb. It all ends up making more rules, not less.

Splendid Chest “Farming” in GW2

I do find the degree of “secrecy” surrounding Guild Wars 2 sort of amusing. It was not until this Reddit thread popped the lid off of Mystic Forge recipes that prices for Mystic Coins jumped 300% (and, briefly, 3000%) practically overnight. And that was four days ago. I am not expecting everything to be datamined two weeks after launch, but you and I both know there are thousands of players running around hoarding secrets until they get banned for exploiting, ArenaNet hotfixes it, or someone finally blows the whistle on the Gravy Train.

So… ahem. Toot-toot.

If you were not already aware, there are Splendid Chests scattered around the world, most commonly as jumping puzzle rewards. They reset on at least a daily basis, and some are much easier to get to than others. I am going to show you the four easy ones I “farm.”

To be honest, if I had wrote this post 1-2 days ago, I would be telling you how you could be looting your own-level blues and greens in these level 1-15 zones. In the time I was taking screenshots though, either something changed behind the scenes or I was simply crazy this whole time, as the Splendid Chests are spitting out unscaled, zone-level rewards. This can still occasionally be worth doing, as I note below.

If you consider Splendid Chests and “secret” locations to be spoilers but kept reading this post anyway, last chance to bail.

Click the pictures for larger versions.


One of my favorite spots.

This one is one of the fastest to get to from anywhere (assuming you use the HotM Express): exit Divinity Reach and head East along the water. Alternatively, there is a Waypoint across the lake, but it is often Contested due to Events down there. You will know you are in the right spot when you see three bandits hanging out near a wooden door. The bomb bandit on the left of the door is actually semi-bugged to constantly regen health, so watch out.

Inside Beggar’s Burrow itself, there will be bandits galore, often in linked groups of three. I typically have little issue solo AoEing them all on my Elementalist, but things can quickly escalate out of control if you are not careful. As noted, the bandits in there are on a ridiculously short respawn timer, so if you want to farm humanoids and the sticks of butter tiny sacks of goods they drop, this will provide endless supply.

The chest itself is up the ramp in the back, on a wooden ledge, guarded by a Veteran bomb-laying bandit. He can chain-knockdown you, so be careful.

Wayfarer Foothills

Probably the more rewarding farm route.

Bandits too stressful? Try this Norn area. Portal to Hoelbrak, walk outside, and head north then hug the west mountains. Or, just take the nearby Waypoint.

The first thing you will notice is the Potato farm in the Jotun village – around 6-8 plants. These mobs don’t hit too especially hard, but again, you might want to be careful with how many you aggro at a time. There is a Veteran Jotun in the back, guarding a normal, one-item chest. And, hey, a Point of Interest!

Literally within throwing distance North of that village is the Shamans’ Rookery. The cave is not so much a jumping puzzle as it is a trap puzzle: ravens will knock you back/off the ledges if you stray within their little red circles. Periodically, you will fight with NPC shaman, some of whom can also knock you around. Given my familiarity with the place, I have basically figured out that I can just run past them all before they get me in combat (which will slow you down, making the jumps impossible). At the end, there are two level 10 normal NPCs guarding a door, which opens after you defeat them.

Also of note is there is always a Rich Copper Node towards the beginning of the jumping puzzle area on its own island. If you stand on top of the torch pillar, you can actually make the jump back onto the ledge. If you don’t make the jump there, or fall off at any other point, you can probably just run past all the level 7 shadow mobs down below.

North and East of the Rookery is the Wurmhowl Spikes. This area could not be any more straightforward: a few groups of 3 linked mobs, and then finally a mob pile at the bottom (with an Veteran). Aside from the linked mobs, you may want to watch yourself out there because there is a very frequent Dynamic Event escort quest that runs nearby. Depending on the number of players in the area, I have seen level 17+ mobs spawn beside the road and aggro on me. Since the game forces you down to level 13, those level 17+ guys can be very touch-and-go.

Kessex Hills

Just for giggles…

I was not going to bother posting this one, as it is significantly harder than the others, and more out of the way besides… but, you can decide for yourself. If you never been in this area, just head straight South out of Divinity’s Reach and hoof it across the zone. Once you grab the Gap Waypoint, just head North.

Inside will be relatively high-level bandits, including one of those annoying bandit cannons. Towards the back of the cave, there will be two linked bandit Veterans, who forced all my cooldowns. After that, you can see the Splendid Chest through the cage, but as Admiral Ackbar would say: It’s a trap! I do not remember if you have to click on the cage door or attack it, but either way the two Veteran Ettins will bust out of their cages and immediately attack you if you are nearby. I recommend running out of the cage area to give yourself some time to prepare.

Then… you know, solo those two Veterans like a pro, loot chest, ????, profit.

As I mentioned upstream, I was pretty sure these Splendid Chests were giving out level 25-30 gear for me a few days ago but are not anymore. Oh well. The level 8ish gear can be Salvaged into juicy 20c+ mats, the mobs drop 20c+ items, and you run across 10c-20c+ resource nodes. If you find yourself just aimlessly wandering around looking for something quick to do, well, here you go.

I know of another Splendid Chest in south Plains of Ashford (aka Charr starting zone), but not only is it way the hell far from everything, it is a Jumping/Trap Puzzle with capitals J, T, and P. There is another in the Norn area that I could not remember how I got to, but it suffers a similar issue.

Hopefully you have found this useful and the title not too misleading.