Fixing the Personal Story

The Personal Story is a large part of Guild Wars 2, and yet it’s one that’s always had its issues. The September Feature Patch restructured the Personal Story, moving it to chapters available every ten levels.

There were a lot of reasons I disliked that move. The biggest one is that early personal story is a good way to level up a character and immediately immerse you in Tyria; now a new character cannot start until they are level 10. To me, this feels more disconnected than having a new step available soon as the previous was complete, but with a level suggestion on it. The other big issue that was created by this change was later parts of the story going completely missing.

During the Light in the Darkness story step, your character is asked by the Pale Tree what their greatest fear is. This response used to lead to one of three different storylines, depending on what you responded with. This arc, called the Greatest Fear storyline, was removed entirely with the September patch. While this storyline was removed, though, there were reports from people playing through that the following steps seemed disjointed, and still contained references to the storyline that now did not exist. A problem? Yes.

This is how my Chapter 7, the story having been completed back at launch, looks. Everything in the current order after Battle of Fort Trinity is in Chapter 8.

This is how my Chapter 7, the story having been completed back at launch, looks. Everything in the current order after Battle of Fort Trinity is in Chapter 8. I had chosen “Letting an innocent die” as Liusaidh’s greatest fear.

There’s been talk for some time now of the story steps being restored to where they were and the Personal Story being fixed, and today Bobby Stein made a post on the forums outlining exactly what is going to be happening when the changes are made. Essentially what will happen is that the story steps will go back to their previous locations – the Greatest Fear storyline will go back to comprising Chapter 7, and the steps that are in 7 currently will return to Chapter 8, as they were initially. There’s no date as to when this patch will go live, but Bobby notes a few things – if you haven’t completed A Light in the Darkness or Forging the Pact, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you have completed Forging the Pact and went ahead to Battle of Fort Trinity, you will not be able to play the Greatest Fear storyline. And if you’ve gone past that, you must complete through Source of Orr to start Chapter 8, otherwise you will be skipped straight ahead to Victory or Death once the update goes in.

I’m summing things up, so make sure you read the post for more in-depth info.

The other big change that’s being made is to Arah. At current, the personal story ends with having to complete the Arah dungeon in story mode.

This is and has been a problem since launch for several reasons.

To start out, essentially the entirety of personal story was designed to be able to be played alone. Sure, some steps are easier if you’ve got another person with you (I’m looking at you, Claw Island), but it was essentially soloable. Suddenly you are faced with a dungeon that requires a full team of five players. It’s a bit of a disconnect there.

To do Arah, you needed to find a group of four other people to do it with you. Now, here’s another issue – Arah’s story mode is long, and has a lot of places where you’re just sitting there waiting for things to happen. That made it hard to find groups, and even in a guild it wasn’t a dungeon you’d do at the spur of a moment. I always hated when people asked to do Arah in guild chat – not because they wanted to do it (I’ve done it a good dozen times since finishing my own personal story to get others through it), but because I’d have to tell them no, not right now, this is a long mess of a dungeon and if you want to do it, we need to plan ahead and get a group together in advance. If you didn’t have people willing to do it? Forget it. I know people who’ve been done with their story for months but still haven’t actually finished because they still need to do Arah.

And so here we get the other big change being made. Arah, as a story mode dungeon, is being retired from the game. Instead, it will become the Victory or Death story step (which before simply told you to go do Arah). It will not require a group of five – while you can go in with five people, the difficulty on it will be scaled down so that someone can do it solo. As a result, you can only do it once on a character (unless you join in with someone doing it), Arah explorable modes will be unlocked by default, and the Arah PvP reward track will be unlocked by either completing the PS or doing an explorable mode.

This is a fantastic change. This is going to make it so much easier for people to complete the content. No longer will they have to wait for a group to be able to finish their story – they can jump in whenever they have the time to do it. I feel that this is also acknowledging the fact that a lot of people will be moving on from the Pact Tyria to Heart of Thorns content soon, and so this will allow new players to get into the action quickly.

Overall, I approve heavily of this change.

There’s no date announced when the change will go in, but Bobby does mention in the forum post that it will be at least eight weeks from now – which gives people plenty of time to get to the correct story steps so that they won’t have to worry about anything breaking or missing any content.

Also, on an aside, this is the sort of communication I like seeing. Straightforward information about what’s going to be happening and why, and what to expect. I’d like to see more of this, please!

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How to achieve things and be an achiever

Are you a new player to Guild Wars 2, who’s seen the Achievements panel and wants to know how to earn points and rewards? Or perhaps you’re more limited with in-game time, and are curious what options you may have. If either of these are the case, then this post is for you!

Why are achievements worth it? Well, they didn’t used to be – they were just points that had no meaning other than showing you played the game’s content. In July of 2013, however, they added in an achievement rewards system, and suddenly those meaningless points meant that you could earn actual rewards for doing them. Weapon skins, money, account bonuses, and a variety of other items are what you can earn for hitting certain achievement milestones (the first chest is at 100 points, and then you get one every 500 points).

The main achievement panel screen. It shows your points, your next few chests, your daily rewards, recently completed achievements, and nearly-completed ones.

The main achievement panel screen. It shows your points, your next few chests, your daily rewards, recently completed achievements, and nearly-completed ones.

But where to start? I’ll go over some of the different categories available. Keep in mind you won’t get to 10k AP in three days, but these will help you build up that number (and your rewards!) in good time.

The absolute best way to build your achievement points with minimal time and effort: DO YOUR DAILIES.

I just finished mine about 15 minutes ago.

I just finished mine about 15 minutes ago.

The dailies system has changed quite a few times over the life of the game. The current system gives you rewards for logging in, and then you can complete different daily achievements that are on a rotation – three are required to get your AP. What you get varies based on the highest character level on your account. If your highest character is only level 10, you will see one PvE, one WvW, and one PvP daily. If your highest is between 10 and 30, you’ll see three of each. If you’re above 30, you will see the full rotation of four each (12 in total).

Which ones you actually do is entirely up to you; one of the advantages of this system is that since you only need to do three and the variety is pretty wide, you do have plenty of options. Vista viewer and any of the gatherer dailies are no-brainers; they both take no time at all to do. Usually when WvW Big Spender is in the rotation, I do that one, though today I decided to do Kessex Events and Kryta Forager at the same time. Generally I’ll do two PvE and one WvW daily, unless I’m in the mood for PvP; if you do PvP and have the full set available to you, you can often get all three done in one match.

Completing three dailies gets you an even 10 AP – all for just a few minutes’ work – as well as various rewards for the specific dailies. They’re worth doing. It’s fast and it’s easy AP. Just try and do them every day if you can.

Have you started the game recently? Or just haven’t done certain portions of it?

New Guild Wars 2 player? Great! Welcome and I hope you’re enjoying the game. There are a few categories you will be able to make immediate progress in. You won’t max out everything in them quickly, but you will gain points almost immediately.

ap3The Hero Category is one that encompasses a lot of the things you’ll be doing just by playing. Personal story, for example – as you play through your personal story, you will earn points for each chapter you complete. There are three chapters available for each race (the level 10, 20, and 30 story chapters), one for joining each of the three Orders, and then one for each story chapter after that (I think. As the personal story setup changed significantly since I completed everything, it may be slightly off).

This category also contains such things as completing hearts, participating in events, earning skillpoints, completing story dungeons, and doing map completion. And the latter ties in nicely to the next few categories!

ap4The Explorer Category is basically exactly what the name says. Simply by exploring Tyria and uncovering new areas of the map, you will work on the various Explorer tracks – there is one for each region in the game. It can be tricky to find all of these areas! But it’s also fun to see all of the little things the game contains.

This is also where you will find achievements for mini-dungeons, which are essentially simple puzzles that usually contain some fighting and jumping and have a chest at the end. Some of them can be more difficult, so if you’ve got some friends to play with, take them along for those, as well as for the next category…

ap5The Jumping Puzzles category keeps track of the various jumping puzzles you’ve completed in the game. They are similar to mini-dungeons; however jumping puzzles are more about platforming and tend to lack fights. They vary in difficulty; I’d definitely advise bringing a friend along for these. Some puzzles are more forgiving, so that if you miss a jump or fall, you can get back to where you were fairly easily, but others will make you restart. Having a friend makes it less likely you’ll lose all of your progress, because then you can be ressed easily.

The next two can be easily progressed in tandem:

ap6The Weapon Master category…

ap12…and the Slayer Category.

As you play the game, you will kill things. Many things. Doing so counts towards achievement tracks in both of these categories. Really, I’d say to not worry about these two categories much – I bring them up simply to let you know they’re there. You’ll naturally make progress on tracks in both just by playing normally.

Have you been playing the game for a while? Have some money to play with? Do you have any level 80 characters?

If so, take a look through these categories:

ap7The Tradesman Category will keep track of your crafting progress, among a few other things. I’ll be straightforward – for the most part, this is the “Throw money at the problem until it goes away” category. One of the achievements in this category, Gold Hoarder, is for saving up 200 gold. Most of the rest are for crafting, and crafting isn’t cheap. That said, there are separate tracks for getting a crafting discipline to 400 (the original max level), and then again for raising it to 500, so you can potentially bank a lot of points in this category. It’ll just cost you.

ap8Collections are iffy, but I’m going to bring them up anyway. You don’t actually get many achievement points from completing these, and some can be annoying, expensive, or both. That said, you can get some neat rewards for finishing them, and for a lot you’ll wind up getting a good chunk of the stuff without really trying. For the record, Wintersday Toy Weapon Collection can be completed for a few silver by buying everything off the trading post.

ap9If you have any level 80 characters and have unlocked the second season of living story, peruse through and work on the Story Journal achievements. They can vary greatly in difficulty, but you do get pretty good rewards for some of them, including free ascended trinkets for completing all of the achievements for a specific story step. This is worth noting as currently that is the only way to get the particular stat type that those trinkets come in. Give them a go, and check out a guide if you get stuck.

Do you have a good guild or group of friends to play with?

Then it may be worth your time to work on these two categories:

ap10The Dungeons Category

ap11…and the Fractals of the Mists Category.

Now, you can do dungeons and fractals through PUGs, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re aiming to complete achievements – most people in such groups are just looking for the path of least resistance and want to get to the end in the shortest time possible. Do these with friends or guild members who’ll be understanding of your desire to do slightly out of the way things.

The biggest problem with the Dungeon Master achievement is that the game does not track in any visible way which dungeon paths you have done. And believe me, it can be frustrating if you can’t remember if it was Path 2 or Path 4 of Arah you haven’t done yet, and then doing the wrong one. So if you are working on Dungeon Master, create yourself some sort of list to track what you’ve done and what you haven’t.

Also note that one of the paths of Twilight Arbor, the Aetherpath, has its own achievement category. It was added in after release, and is a level 80 dungeon path (as opposed to level 55 like the rest of TA). It has a different set of achievements that can be trickier to complete.

What else is good to work on?

Well, there are a lot of different categories, really! Fashion and Community are ones that you’ll make natural progress in through play – Fashion is unlocking various weapon and armor skins, while Community contains things that will happen as you play with others. Bosses is pretty easy to fill out if you do world bosses. And there is the Competitive section, containing PvP, WvW, and a variety of mini-games. You can pick up some points there if you like those things. The PvP category in particular is full of AP, with various tracks having a high number of tiers. They’ll certainly take you a long time to max out, but you can still get a lot just by playing; the more you play, the more you get.

And of course, most important is simply to keep track of new stuff being added to the game! New content tends to come with new achievements to work on. Festivals often have their own achievement categories as well – these are temporary, however, so make sure you’re aware of how long they’ll be available!

Good luck, and have fun adding to your list of accomplishments!

Precursor to Greatness

Precursor crafting is probably one of the most anticipated and desired features for GW2. It was promised to us back in 2013…and there was nothing. Absolute silence on the subject. It wasn’t mentioned at all again until last year, when it was confirmed to not be a part of the feature packs. Finally, when Heart of Thorns was announced, precursor crafting was announced to be on the horizon – as a part of the expansion, along with new legendaries. A few other bits of info came about quickly – namely, that it’d be done through collections and that each precursor would be obtainable once per account.

Some more information was released today on how this process will work. It seems that each precursor will require completing three collections, which will allow you to craft your precursor in varying stages – you start off with a “nontradable exotic weapon with a distressed version of the existing precursor skin”, as it says, and the second and third collections will be about upgrading that into the actual precursor itself.

Most of those are almost certainly placeholder icons, so don't go nuts because you need Chaos of Lyssa.

Most of those are almost certainly placeholder icons, so don’t go nuts because you need Chaos of Lyssa.

A few things of note: It’s noted that completing a collection will not actually give you the weapon itself, but rather a recipe to craft it. If you’re working on the Legend, for example, you won’t actually get it at the end. You’ll get “Recipe: The Legend” or however they’ll be named. What the recipes will consist of is not specified or even hinted at. I admit to both being curious and worried about this. Are crafting the actual weapons going to be as much of a pain as crafting ascended is? Or will it be more along the lines of “Congrats, you did all this work to get the recipe” and doesn’t actually require much to create? I’m hoping for some sort of middle ground, personally. Precursors are only exotics, so they likely will not use ascended materials for the weapon itself (though I’m certain that they’d be used for the collections themselves). Most of the crafted recipes for exotics are pretty simple – the really expensive ones are Mystic Forge recipes. But on the flip side there’s nothing that prevents them from creating a crafting recipe that requires expensive mats in large quantities, since the current gifts for legendaries are like that. So we definitely need more information on that.

Also I want to know if I should get my Huntsman up to 500 or not.

The "distressed" version of Energizer. Looks a little beat-up there.

The “distressed” version of Energizer. Looks a little beat-up there.

One of the other things noted is a change in skins for precursors, and personally I’m pretty pleased with this. More unique skins are always good. I know that when I was trying to get the Legend for my Bifrost, I had a lot of moments of “oh my god-DAMNIT!” while throwing stuff in the Forge – so many times it spit back out Imryldyeen. Precursors having unique skins will hopefully mean they have unique icons and hence will cut down on that sort of nonsense.

The new precursor skins will hold a similarity to the legendary it’s for, just simpler. As the article says, “We like to think of these new precursor skins as the legendary weapon before it is embodied by its soul.” This is also neat for people who kinda like a specific legendary but think it’s just a bit too ostentatious. For example, I don’t like Sunrise/Twilight/Eternity because they are way too damn flashy for my tastes. If Dusk and Dawn have similar appearances but toned down, then I think I might actually like them. The article also notes that if you do get a precursor not through the collection system, it’ll unlock the previous two skins, so you won’t miss out on those if you decide to go the “throw money at it” route. Or if you get really lucky.

See, I quite like how that looks.

See, I quite like how that looks.

What the article doesn’t say is if you already have a legendary, will you also unlock the new precursor skin as well as its other two forms? I certainly hope this to be the case; when the wardrobe was added in, if you had a legendary you automatically unlocked the skin for the precursor. So I’m betting that will continue to be the case here. Some confirmation either way would be nice, though.

One thing I am surprised at is the fact that crafted precursors (for the pre-existing legendaries, anyway) will be tradeable. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect this will have on the precursor market and if it balances prices out any. That all will likely depend on how difficult the collections are to complete and how neat and popular the new precursor skins are. It is noted that neither the precursors nor the legendaries themselves for the new legendaries being added will be tradeable. This will add more prestige to the new legendaries – someone who has it you know didn’t just throw money at the trading post, but they built that thing up from scratch. On the flip side that means you can’t gift someone with a new precursor or anything like that.

It also says that the new legendaries will be created slightly differently than the current group – it’ll be similar, but, as it states, “refined…into more of a journey, similar to precursor crafting.” How similar it’ll be is the big question. Will it still use the base stuff like Gift of Mastery, Clovers, Gift of Fortune, etc? Or will those common components be replaced entirely? Personally I am hoping they’ll still be used, but that’s primarily for selfish reasons (aka I have a Gift of Mastery and set of Clovers sitting in my bank). The recent removal of World vs. World from map completion as well as the fact that the Silverwastes all but rains obsidian shards at least, in my opinion, points at those still being of use.

The last thing that’s announced in the post is Map Bonuses. This I really like. Different maps will have different rotations that’ll reward you with bonus items for playing – such as completing events, jumping puzzles, and mini-dungeons. An example is given as Giant Eyes being a possible reward during a rotation in Cursed Shore.

LET ME TELL YOU WHY I LIKE THIS.

First of all, this will help breathe more life into maps that normally aren’t used. The new daily system helps, but if certain currently-hard-to-obtain materials can be gotten by playing in certain maps, people will go there. Another is that certain materials are ludicrously difficult to get. Giant eyes are one of them. They are an incredibly rare drop from heavy moldy bags – back when we were tracking HMBs, we got 15 giant eyes out of 12,121 bags. 15 eyes out of nearly 50 stacks of bags. The chances of getting them are tiny. Silver doubloons are another material that I’d like to see added to bonus rotations – right now the only vaguely reliable way to farm them is to park a level 26-ish character at the end of a jump puzzle and open the chest daily. I can also see this being useful for a number of more common crafting materials that are still overly pricey – cloth, for example, as well as cores and lodestones and t6 fine mats.

It’ll also have an effect on the economy, but frankly, most of those mats are frustratingly expensive because of how hard they are to obtain. Bringing them down to reasonable prices and making them easier to get is definitely a positive.

We’ve gotten a fair bit of info today, and while it doesn’t tell us everything and raises more questions, it’s certainly nice to see info coming out again. Next, let’s get some info on specializations, perhaps? I’d like to see that. Just saying.

Barring that, here's Jennah breaking out some dance moves.

Barring that, here’s Jennah breaking out some dance moves.

Community Communication

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, the Guild Wars 2 community was a large and varied place. Fansites, bloggers, artists, writers, podcasters, video makers, musicians, and any mixture of the above. The amount of content coming out of the community was as large and varied as the community itself. ArenaNet openly supported all of these avenues of creativity. All matter of creation was acknowledged and shared by official channels. Fansites and blogs were allowed to preview content before it came out, and were used to give away awesome things to the rest of the community at large. And for a time, it was good.

That all changed when Twitch attacked.

…okay, so that was a silly introduction to a topic that has rubbed me wrong for a very, very long time now, and resulted in a several-hundred-tweet long conversation between over a dozen people yesterday. Several conversations, actually. I’m still sorting through all of it myself, but the crux of it is that the current approach to community engagement is not a very good one.

Before I go any further, I want to bring up a post from three years ago about how ANet wants to build the GW2 community. Some select quotes:

“We will continue to work with fansites as we have done in the past, but in addition to “traditional” fansites, we will also provide a platform to support smaller, specialized communities/projects that would never have had a place in a traditional program, like blogs, machinima, etc.”

“One thing that is very important to keep in mind: there is no single “community.” It’s not a monolithic, unified demographic, but a many-faceted, living, breathing ecosystem. You will find communities on Fansites, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, guild sites, and lots of other places.”

“By working together, with you bringing amazing and great community projects to our attention and us highlighting them for the broader community, we will be able to build something great and lasting that will benefit each and every one of you.”

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration…the main goal is to be inclusive, not exclusive, to encourage collaboration between communities, and to generate an atmosphere that is helpful, friendly, and above all, respectful.”

For quite a long time – from several years before the game launched until about a year and a half ago – this was the case. This is how things were done. ArenaNet did a great job for years of reaching out to and promoting all of the varying aspects of their community. They actively and openly supported all of the content creators within the GW2 community. And you know what, I’m not going to deny that I’ve got a horse in this race. I’ve been running this blog for just shy of four years, worked with GuildMag for some time before that, and was active on twitter and forums before that even. This blog is the definitely of a smaller, more specialized project that they mention above – I essentially run this thing by myself, with the occasional post from my husband. I did it because I enjoyed doing it, and was always thrilled when one of my posts got retweeted by the GW2 twitter account, or posted on their facebook. I thought it was great that I was included in things such as beta key giveaways, the big Collector’s Edition giveaway. That I was able to do two different interviews with ANet staff, and that I was included on the fansite previews of season one living story stuff.

Basically, for a long time, ArenaNet was awesome at taking care of and supporting their community and the content creators within it, and it flourished for years. And because ANet supported both small and large sites alike, it created a rather tight-knit community amongst bloggers and artists and other fansite owners, as well – instead of seeing each other as competition, as could well be the case, many of us saw each other as friends. There were so many different sites that no two people put out the same content, and so there was no need to compete for attention. We all talked, regularly linked to each others’ works, worked together on projects, became friends. Because that’s what happens in a good community.

And it all pretty much came to a halt overnight. The fansite preview project came to a halt after a couple of press sites broke embargo. There was essentially nothing but radio silence for several months. Once things started to come to life again, it became clear that the scope of what ANet wanted to promote for the community had changed, and changed drastically. And, quite frankly, it was not a change for the positive.

Earlier this week, emails went out for a stress test of Heart of Thorns. The wording of the email, mentioning “most loyal players”, created a certain amount of ill-feeling. Yesterday, this was tweeted from another GW2 player:

…and off it went.

As of right now, there are only a select few GW2 community members that get any support or promotion from ANet, and they all do the exact same things – stream the game on twitch and post videos on youtube. There is no variety, and there is little actual content being showcased (the sole exception to this being the GW2 tumblr, where some fanart and screenshots get reblogged). It’s pretty damn frustrating.

I’ve had this feeling for a long time. It’s been bothering me for well over a year now. I don’t like the idea that if you do any sort of work for the community other than stream on twitch, you are not deserving of recognition and support. And as that conversation was kicked off yesterday, and more and more people who are long-time community members (either as content creators or those who liked the massive amount of content that used to come out of the community) jumped in to voice their opinions – that after so long, it really sucks to suddenly be left in the cold as though all of the work you’d done for years no longer matters.

The Tough Love Critic managed to go through and create a timeline of all of the tweets from the varying branching conversations kicked off by that first tweet – it’s kind of disorganized, and sometimes you have to click to read more of a conversation, but it’s all there. And there are a lot of good points being made there, too. Such as this one from Ollanach, the creator of GuildMag:

Celeste of Guild Wars Reporter also said:

A comment from Tough Love Critic:

And then this one, from Tylluan, who isn’t a fansite owner but has been a member of the community for a long time and noticed the massive shift that happened, which rather hits the nail on the head:

I kept my opinions quiet on this matter for a very long time, because I wasn’t sure if me being annoyed about it was just feeling bitter about suddenly being left out, or if it were a more widespread thing. As it turns out, it seems like most people who felt like this have for some time but stayed quiet for similar reasons:

So, here’s the base of the issue – the sudden change to focusing on Youtubers and Twitch streamers to the exclusion of all other parts of the community not only goes directly against the original community philosophy espoused by ArenaNet three years ago, but it also served to suddenly cut out members of the community who had been supporting the game and creating content for and about it for many years – most of us long before the game even came out. It’s a slap in the face to all of us that have done so much work for so long. And, to be completely frank, it is a poor way to foster a good community.

What solutions are there? Personally, I would be happy with going back to at least some of what we had before. I’m not even asking for big things like being flown to conventions and ArenaNet’s offices, as awesome as that would be. But, please, just recognize that we are still an important and vital part of the GW2 community. Recognize and promote the work we do. Acknowledge that many of us have been at this for closing in on half a decade or more. We had a hand in helping to shape this community – give us back the ability to continue to do so. Many fansites have closed down or slowed in the intervening year and a half – and I’m sure the culture of neglect has had a hand in that – but many of us are still around. Allow all aspects of the fanbase to flourish, all type of content to be created and promoted and supported – not just one very narrow section of it. Just…stop ignoring us. Please. That’s all it takes.

 

A Time-Limited Person’s Guide to the Silverwastes

So it is no secret that I have little free time these days, as my inactivity on this blog shows. My work schedule is such that the hours I’m free during the day are when no one else is online, and generally are taken up by other things that need to be done (sometimes, being an adult sucks).

The Silverwastes is a fun map to farm; you can get a good amount of loot from there, and you’re basically required to spend time there to get the Carapace armor sets. The entire Breach event cycle can take a while to complete, which can be tricky if you’re limited on time. And so here I am to help you with that!

Step One: Get your stuff together.

If you’re farming in the Silverwastes, you’re going to wind up with a bunch of stuff. Bandit Crests, shovels, keys, sand, etc. If you have multiple characters, try and remember who has it all, and try and keep everything together. That way you won’t get into the map and realize that a different alt has all of your shovels or something like that.

sw-invIt’s not organized, really, but it’s all there. Stacks of crests, shovels, bandit keys, nightmare key pieces and key, etc. Also, make sure you have salvage kits on hand and that your bags are otherwise pretty empty. You’re going to wind up with a lot of loot.

Step Two: Get to know the map.

Silverwastes is kind of an annoying map to navigate, in my opinion, but updates have made the map easier to get around. There are, for example, three waypoints now, instead of one. You’ll only really need to worry about two of them, though.

sw-mapCamp Resolve is the start of the area; this waypoint is always available to you. The one in Sharp Valley – Hidden Depths Waypoint – was added when the Labyrinth was added, and this waypoint may contest if there’s an event going on there. I highly recommend uncontesting this waypoint as soon as possible if you see it contested; the event is not hard and can be done solo in just a few minutes. Having this waypoint open makes it much easier to get to the western side of the map, and is especially important to have open during the Vinewrath fight.

There are also skritt tunnels that let you shortcut through the map; the tunnels link up in pairs. They are not always open, however; if bandits have overrun the skritt camp, you have to wait for that event to activate (sometimes it takes forever and is really frustrating) and then kill bandits until it completes. The most important part of the skritt tunnels is that the Far Silverwastes can only be accessed that way, and you’re required to go there to do certain steps of the Living Story. Otherwise, Hidden Depths Waypoint is more important to keep open.

Step Three: Use the Looking For Group tool.

Let’s talk map hopping. I get that some people don’t like it, and that there should be more rewards to incentivize staying in a new map and building it up. I agree, to a certain extent. The problem is it can take a long time to build up a fresh map. While many map hop to get the most rewards they can, others do it because they’re limited on time.

sw-lfgApparently TTS was setting up for Triple Trouble when I was taking screens today. Other than that, as you can see, people advertise Silverwastes maps in LFG. This helps to build up a map that’s already gained some momentum, as well as to get it as full as possible, so there’s as many people around for Vinewrath as possible. The Breach bosses can be done with only a handful of people each, but you really don’t want to have only five people in a lane at Vinewrath.

Anyway.

The most common things you’ll see are maps around 30-70%, maps where Vinewrath is starting, and maps where people are doing chest runs. Silverwastes parties and maps do fill quickly, so if one you try is full, don’t worry too much – there’s new ones being advertised all the time. Most of the time if a map is advertising Vinewrath starting, I don’t bother – they’re trying to squeeze a last few people in if possible, and chances are it’s full already. Anything above 50% I find chancy about getting in, though ultimately it depends on the time of day. Right around now, getting into a 70% map wouldn’t be difficult. During prime time, trying a 40% map may get you “map full”.

If you’re going to make a listing in LFG for your map, by the way, try and be accurate about how much progress has been made. Don’t list as a 50% map if you’re only about 25% of the way through. Yes, since it’s just a bar with no markers you have to estimate and the estimates may not always be entirely correct…but being that far off isn’t simply a poor estimate.

Step Four: Know the encounters.

When you’re doing the Breach and Vinewrath, make sure you know what you’re doing. Of course, in some cases other people make it hard to do the fight properly – people who stand on the lip at Copper while fighting the Husk and shouting “NO AOE” will make the fight harder (hint – you just need to kill the poison bubbles before they reach the husk. AoE is perfectly fine. Also if everyone’s on the lip there’s a risk of the husk resetting; melee is quite safe if there’s someone kiting the offshoots). And sometimes things just go wrong.

But for the most part, just be aware of what’s going on. If Vinewrath is starting and there’s 60 people at the south lane, go to the middle or north – they nearly always need people. Don’t tunnel vision in on protecting only the siege carrier and forget about what’s going on at the ammo pile – trust me, you do not want to have to be collecting ammo while there’s a Champion Terragriff rampaging around because no one bothered to keep watch on what’s happening there. The north lane is especially bad for this, because of how it’s set up.

And make sure you know the encounters for the bosses themselves. They aren’t hugely difficult, and generally there’s someone in say chat who’ll give a brief instruction of what to do. For the Beekeeper, bring bees to the honeycomb and stand behind it when he goes to the front of the room. Reflects are useful against the Mangler; kill the pustules that spawn and then go stand in the white pyramid on the floor when he goes to the front of the room. Pop the flowers when fighting the Dark Wing and stand on them when he goes to the front of the room.

Step Five: If you defeat, it is faster for you to waypoint.

This is why you want the Hidden Depths waypoint open. Frequently it’ll be faster for you to waypoint there and run back to wherever you were if you are defeated. Now, if you’re downed, people will res you. But a defeated person takes a long time to res, especially when you’re in combat. I have seen the Breach fail because of everyone at a boss slowly getting defeated and refusing to waypoint and run back, causing the boss to reset.

Step Six: If you’re limited on time, skip the Labyrinth until later.

You can open the Greater Nightmare Chest as many times as you have complete keys. So if you finish Vinewrath and don’t really have much time to do anything else, just save up your keys. You can use them later, when you’ve got some more time available to you.

Step Seven: Opening bags and salvaging everything will take forever.

I’m not kidding. You get a lot of champ bags, bags of gear, etc. from doing these events. It will take you a good amount of time to open everything up, salvage stuff, sell off items, and so on. Silverwastes is brutal on inventory management. So, again, if you’re out of time, leave that stuff for later when you can dedicate a good fifteen minutes to getting everything organized.

Step Eight: Have fun.

Don’t force yourself to farm Silverwastes (or run dungeons or anything else) if you don’t enjoy it. I enjoy Silverwastes, but I rarely have the attention span to go through it more than twice in a row. So I don’t. I go do something else instead (once I’ve emptied my inventory). This is a game, after all, so you should make sure that you’re having fun with whatever you are doing.