It's tough to come up with article ideas when there's not a whole lot new going on in Guild Wars 2. I know, I know, I know, that's a First World Problem, but Bill Murphy told me I'd be relegated to covering Scarlet Blade if I missed another deadline, and that's not a fate you'd wish on any MMO writer.
Rather than strain my brain to come up with a single, coherent topic I could ramble on about for a thousand words, I'm instead clearing out a few shorter thoughts about various stuff and trying to pass it off as a single, long article. Let's see if anyone notices!
Om nom nom
I'm glad to finally have an outlet for all that extra Dragonite Ore I was toting around. Granted, I didn't have it nearly as bad as some people I know – one guildmate groused about having something like 75 stacks – but it's been nice to at least reduce the few useless bits I did have into something... well, a little less useless. I'm getting some sweet greens, though!
My friend who had 75 stacks of Dragonite Ore doubtless wishes he'd get something more valuable than a few silvers' worth of stuff. It makes sense, though, for the “payout” to be so low; once we knew ascended-material eaters were coming, ArenaNet would have had a hard time making the rewards be anything too good, for all the people who had been throwing out pile after pile of Bloodstone Dust, Empyreal Fragments, and Dragonite Ore. And if we would have been encouraged to hoard all that stuff for years, the calls of “greedy ArenaNet making me buy all that bank space” would have been deafening.
The way Mawdrey II, Star of Gratitude, and Princess work is probably just about right for what they were intended to do. They essentially give players the opportunity to “vendor” off their excess ascended materials, but require a little bit of a gameplay challenge to acquire the right to do so.
If you haven't gotten around to making your own, now's a great time to do it. The Star and Princess take only a little time and exploration, but Mawdrey requires a bit more effort and a lot more time, unless you buy the plant food off the Trading Post. Which you should absolutely, totally do. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
What? No, I'm not making that stuff every day and selling it for a profit, and I'm shocked that you would even accuse me of such a thing!
We got our third look at Stronghold this weekend, and I think it's the best iteration of the three. The first time matches seemed too slow, the second time, they seemed too fast, and this time they feel just about right, with a good amount of variety in the middle and later stages. (The early parts seem a little too standardized, but I'm not sure if this can or should be addressed.) Even in one-sided matches, it seems like there's a good bit of action at many of the crucial points of the battlefield, and matches varied from quick, five-minute affairs to drawn-out, time-limit struggles.
In one match I played, the other team got out to an early lead, knocking down our first door right away and we struggled to push them back. As I was mostly playing the defensive early, I was pretty much ignorant of how we were doing on offense until, after one of my respawns with about four minutes left, I noticed that the match was a virtual tie: We each had the same number of points and our lords were both at about 50% health. Both sides did a lord push and ours stalled out with the enemy lord having just a tiny sliver of health left. Then they summoned both mist champions and that was pretty much the end of it.
Those mist champions are even more important than ever, I've found. Twice my team won a match when we had a champion and a few doorbreakers on the final door, along with a three-player push. That's a good enough surge to finish just about any lord, unless the other team commits fully to the defense.
After seeing that, I found myself trying to take out unsupported champions soon after they were summoned, even if all I could do was weaken them before they got to the point where they could really do damage. Even if I died, it was worth it, and now I find myself wanting to make a PvE-styles “NPC ambush” build on one of my characters. Damn you Stronghold and your making me want to try all sorts of different builds!
A matter of time
When will Heart of Thorns come out? That's the 64,000-gem question, isn't it? Here's one way of looking at it:
Pre-orders for the base Guild Wars 2 game started on April 10, 2012, and the game launched on August 28. That date was announced on June 28. So the launch date announcement came 79 days after pre-orders went live, and the launch was 140 days later. (We won't consider the three-day headstart.)
Pre-orders for Heart of Thorns began on June 16, 2015. If the same pattern holds, we'll hear a launch date announcement 79 days later, on September 3, with a launch 140 days later, on November 3. In other words, even if ArenaNet sticks to its previous schedule – which is, admittedly, a small sample size – we've still got quite the wait ahead of us.
When you consider that ArenaNet wasn't even planning to do a Guild Wars 2 expansion two years ago, it might make sense that it's taken as long as it has. In any case, it probably (I hope!) won't go as long as we waited for GW2 originally, which we first heard would receive beta tests... in 2008! Well, OK, maybe 2009, but that's our final offer!
Suddenly, four more months doesn't look so bad, does it?
(Thanks to AJ Wolf and HybridLizard for the screenshot help this week!)