Posted by: markfender | February 13, 2013

Let’s Grind in Guild Wars 2!

Grinding is fun they have informed me.

Guild_wars_2_Tyria_level_mapGuild Wars 2 doesn’t have an end game. Which is fine, since end game in most games just means “go do PvP.” Instead, Guild Wars just has various gear tiers to work on once you hit the high tiers of content. From getting full-exotic equipment (which does affect your stats), to doing Fractals of the Mists over and over and over and over and over to get Ascended gear to grinding for legendary weapons, there are at least things you can be doing to get the shiny bling.

And, my God, is it tedious.

I’m not against grind in games. It’s not necessarily fun, but if there’s recognizable forward progress, you can sorta get through it. We’ve all played those games where you’re too low-level to get to the next area and you need to run around in circles killing everything in your sight line until you ding. That’s annoying, but acceptable grinding. There’s a definite goal and it’s achievable within a few evenings.

This is pretty much all the Guild Wars 2 end game content – grind for various materials to make/buy fancy stuff. And that’s fine. Some of that stuff is fancy and you’ll want it. If you’re still enjoying the game, might as well have some concrete goals to work on. So, there’s quite a number of materials you’ll need to gather for that.

But Arenenet doesn’t want you to farm for those things. There are systems in place to stop you from from grinding for those materials. I don’t get it.

So, let’s break down Legendary weapons. These are super-fancy weapons with sweet particle effects that swoosh and stuff. You pretty much look like a bad ass wielding this stuff and, if anyone knows how much work goes into getting one, they’ll be suitably impressed with seeing you walk around with it. The legendary bow shoots unicorns, for God’s sake. How is that not awesome?

Every legendary requires 4 ingredients – a precursor weapon (specific to the legendary being made), and three “gifts.” These Gifts are made from other items that you’re buying, crafting, and combining in various levels of ridiculousness. For instance, one of the more popular legendaries is Twilight, a greatsword. One of the Gifts it requires is the Gift of Mastery. The Gift of Mastery consists of 1 Bloodstone Shard, 250 Obsidian Shards, 1 Gift of Exploration, and 1 Gift of Battle. The Bloodstone Shard costs 200 Skill points. You get one skill point at every level, so that’s kind of a big number. However, there’s skill challenges in the world that give you skill points and you still get those skill points after hitting the level cap. My character has about 357 right now and all I’ve been doing is attempting to gather the other items needed for legendaries, so that’s definitely a feasible goal. Also, you don’t really have to concentrate on that particular goal – it’ll just naturally happen that you’ll have the skill points necessary by completing the other steps. The 250 Obsidian Shards cost Karma, a currency you get for completing events. These events give about 250 karma each. You’ll need 525,000 for those 250 Obsidian Shards. That’s only 2100 total events – better get cracking. It’s gotten slightly better as completing daily and monthly achievements now gives about 5000 Karma a piece, not to mention they added a few other ways to get the Obsidian Shards in the game (mostly because the place you need to buy them is always bugged and apparently it was easier to offer alternative ways to gain them than to fix the event….I don’t quite understand). You’ll also need 1 Gift of Exploration, which you gain for 100% map completion. So, yeah, you need to hit every waypoint, complete every vista, beat every skill challenge, and find all those points of interest across PvP, WvW, and PvE content. That’s a lot of stuff but that’s also what you’ve been doing the whole time so completing this one is just continuing to play the game essentially. Not too arduous. You’ll also need a Gift of Battle, which is bought for 500 Badges of Honor. Badges of Honor are gained for killing other players in World vs. World (well, you have the chance to get one for killing an enemy player). You can also gain them by completing the jumping puzzles in WvW, but I didn’t do that. I did it the hard way, through the tears of my enemies. This one took awhile but WvW is generally fun so getting 16-20 badges per night of playing the game was just a bonus to having fun in WvW.

I highlighted this specific gift because this seems like a reasonable goal. It’s a lot of stuff to gather but you gather most of those things by playing the game as you’ve been doing since you went through the tutorial mission. Getting the Karma was kind of a pain as events don’t happen fast enough to see that little bar tick up much. However, the daily and monthly achievements helped out that gain and the daily achievements in particular weren’t too difficult. You could generally complete it in about an hour. The pace might be slow, but there is a definite pace being set. If you’re still enjoying the game, this particular Gift funneled you a certain way in the game, but it was still playing the game as you’d already known it. Congrats, you’ve got 1 of 4 parts of your legendary!

But it’s the other Gifts that get annoying. For instance, the Gift of Fortune (which all legendaries require) consists of 77 Mystic Clovers, 250 Globs of Ectoplasm, a Gift of Magic, and Gift of Might. Let’s approach these backwards: the Gifts of Magic and Might consist of 250 of each tier 6 (i.e. the last tier) of crafting component. There’s 8 of these, so they’re divided – 4 in each Gift. Where do you get these? By killing mobs, of course, and looting their corpses. Except it couldn’t possibly be that easy. You see, the top tier crafting items have a terrible drop rate. I am lucky to get 5 in an hour of steady grinding. There are areas where you can, by following the right routes, never stop killing creatures in that hour, so it’s not like you’re waiting for respawn timers. And that amazing drop rate is complete with 120+% Magic Find…the annoying non-stat you need if you really want to grind. That’s full Magic Find armor, Runes to of Magic Find, Food of Magic Find…all the various ways you can increase your Magic Find to high levels…and it makes no difference.

Notice how I said 5 within an hour? There’s a specific reason. You see, after an hour in the same area, Arenanet implements a super-fun idea – your drop rates decrease. You see, they don’t want you to farm their game. You might break the economy! So, you’re off to a different farming area to maybe find a different crafting component you need 250 of…to get 5 more. Fun. So, 250 of 8 different items that you can get 5 an hour…that’s 400 hours of this…and those aren’t consecutive hours either, since you can only grind at full credit for 1 hour. The good news is that those crafting components can be all bought on the Trading Post, so maybe a better plan is to just make a lot of money and buy them (more on that later).

So, how ’bout those 250 Globs of Ectoplasm? These are found by using salvage kits on rare and exotic items. But those exotics and rares need to be level 68 or higher. And guess how many of those you’ll get per hour of farming (at the same time you’re farming for crafting components)? My totally unscientific testing/playing the game reaps about 1 exotic and 3 rares per hour, but don’t forget that drop suppression after an hour. So, you’ve got a couple rares and an exotic sitting around and you’ve got a salvage kit. Now what? Now you have a chance to get Globs of Ectoplasms. In fact, you have a 25% chance with a Master Salvage Kit and a 50% change with a Black Lion Salvage Kit (a rare drop in itself, or you can buy them in the cash shop). Because Arenanet would not want you to be able to accumulate things. Now, you do get 1-3 Globs if you do manage to get any, so it’s not quite some cut and dried math to figure out that you’ll need in the neighborhood of 6000 rare/exotic items to break down before you get the 250 you need. Luckily, you can buy these, too.

Finally, we come to the Mystic Clovers. These are easy. They only require that you dump four ingredients into the Mystic Forge: an Obsidian Shard, a Mystic Coin, a Glob of Ectoplasm, and 6 Philosopher’s Stones. And now you can begin to see even more of the sink these legendaries are. I already talked about the Obsidian Shards (guess you’ll need more Karma) and Globs of Ectoplasm (guess you’ll need to go farm some more). The Mystic Coins are gained for completing areas of the map and daily/monthly achievements. So, if you’ve gotten your Gift of Mastery, you’ve probably got quite a few Mystic Coins. Hope you didn’t sell them. The Philosopher’s Stones cost 1 Skill Point per 10 (guess you’ll need more skill points). Throw these four things into the Mystic Forge and you’ve got the chance to get a Mystic Clover. In fact, a 33% chance. Otherwise, you’ll get 1-5 tier 6 crafting materials, like those that you need for the other part of this particular Gift. I’m still working on this part, but I’ve figured out, that at current market prices, it costs about 1 Gold per Mystic Clover. You’ll need 77 of these random items. Better get to it.

Now, there’s another Gift that depends on the legendary weapon you’re tracking, so I won’t break those down in excruciating math but only hit the highlights. Each of these requires two sub-Gifts made up of more materials. Usually these are gathering materials, not crafting materials. Gathering materials are things like Platinum, Ancient Wood Logs, and the like. These are found in nodes around the world and require you to have the right gathering equipment equipped (and you’ll need to replace these). These nodes are visible on the mini-map if you’re near them but not on the overland map. And of course, once you’ve mined a node, you can’t mine it again for 5 hours. But, Arenanet really doesn’t want you to farm, so they randomly move all the nodes around every week when the server resets. It’s bad enough you have to do chores in game, but they definitely don’t want you being able to consistently repeat your chores. Even more annoying, for the high-tier nodes, like Orichalcum, there’s only two nodes of that in each lvl 80 zone. There’s five lvl 80 zones. So, the most you can gather of those particular materials is 10 times every five hours (There was one Rich Orichalcum Node that would give you about 10 Orichalcum ore every 24 hours but they removed it in the last patch…because Arenanet doesn’t want you to farm). AND that ore you gather isn’t the final piece. They have to be combined with crafting skills into Ingots, which is what the Gift really wants. It’s about 2 to 3 ore to one Ingot, depending on the material, so if you had an idea of how long it would take to gather all that, triple it. And once you’ve gathered all of those individual pieces, you’ll need the crafting recipe to make the actual sub-Gift. These crafting recipes cost 10 Gold each (you’ll need two of them) and require two different Crafting skill at level 400, the max level. So, you’ve also got to grind your craft all the way to max level (which of course requires all those crafting materials you were gathering for the other Gifts – guess you’ll need to grind some more). An even better trick is that some of the Ingots you need to make can’t be made with the Crafting skill you already maxed out. So I guess you’ll need to make an alt character and grind them up too (since you can only have two crafting skills).

This Gift also requires 100 Lodestones of various varieties. I have no idea where to get those. Seriously, the wiki is silent. I’ve seen various threads about where to find them and people just sort of luck into them. Even the mobs that drop them drop them at a 1% or less drop rate. So, good luck getting 100 of those (since you’d be grinding in the same area for them from this particular mob, you’ve also got to worry about that 1 hour limit). I think I’ll just buy them (at 1-4 Gold each, depending on the type of Lodestone needed) off the Trading Post. You also need a sub-Gift of Dungeon tokens, 500 of these tokens to be precise. Which dungeon depends on the legendary Gift you’re going for. Each run of the dungeon grants 60 tokens so you’ll have to run the dungeon 9 times. Each dungeon has three paths to take, so there’s at least some variety there. Of course, the player base has “figured out” which path is the easiest and so you can only find groups willing to run one AND ONLY ONE of those paths. And they’re all speed running them for the tokens, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy that. Not to mention, Arenanet doesn’t want you to farm so you get decreasing dungeon tokens if you run it again within 24 hours.

But, hey, you’ve finally gathered all those and have gotten your third Gift. Now all you need is the precursor weapon for the particular legendary you’re after. Guess how you get those? Sheer, ridiculous luck. Less than a 1% drop rate. You can throw 4 weapons of the same type into the Mystic Forge and try for that 1% chance, but you’ll be losing money on that since the Mystic Forge will give you the shittiest possible weapon if it doesn’t give you the precursor (so, you know, every time). You’re pretty much stuck buying these off the Trading Post from the lucky people who managed to get it, but weren’t trying to make that particular weapon. You know that legendary greatsword I mentioned above, Twilight? It’s precursor is currently selling for 630 Gold. Which gets into the last part of this whole process, making money.

Making money is impossible in Guild Wars 2. At least it is for me. I have not figured it out. Killing mobs gives bronze or silver (100 bronze to 1 silver and 100 silver to 1 Gold). Those rares you might get from a lucky drop will give you 20-ish silver if you sell them and an exotic is usually in the 4 Gold range. To give you an idea of how rare Gold is, my character reached level 80 (max level) with 4 Gold to her name. You can use those maxed out craft skills to make items to sell. However, this is hit or miss. After a lot of staring at the Trading Post, I’ve figured out one recipe that will give you about 4 Gold if you sell it. Unfortunately, gathering the materials to make this item takes about 2-3 days (due to those amazing drop rates on Ectoplasms and tier 6 crafting materials). Almost everything else sells for less than the raw materials would cost. Now, if you’re gathering those raw materials, it’s profit, but there’s always the one or two pieces you just can’t get. Or, you could use your economics degree and maniplate the Trading Post by buying low and selling high. I’m not smart enough for that. Whenever I try it, I end up losing money or, at best, breaking even. Considering the 15% posting/selling fees the Trading Post charges, you’ve got to find some items with quite the margin to make money. People do it all the time apparently, since that’s what every thread on how to make money mentions doing, but I don’t understand it. Because, of course, as soon as someone mentions an item they made money on, it plummets on the Trading Post as everyone starts to try to exploit it. Which gets into the last way that Arenanet doesn’t want you to farm. Whenever an exploit on the Trading Post is found, they’re never quicker with the patches to fix it. Now, if its a legitimate exploit, kudos to them. But over Christmas, they introduced a recipe that had a really high turnover rate of Ectoplasms. This was patched within five hours. Another time, the drop rates of dyes got screwed up and they were dropping more frequently (not excessively but more than normal). This was patched within three hours. Meanwhile, the place to actually spend your Karma on Obsidian Shards is still broken, four months after release. If it “threatens” their economy in any way, Arenanet is on it, but if it affects gameplay, they apparently don’t care as much.

So, yeah, I’ve done everything involving actually playing the game I can to get the pieces I need for the legendary. All I need now is about 700 Gold and my bank account, after four months of playing, sits at 100 Gold (and even that was after selling a precursor I got that I couldn’t use). If I make some items that have a decent profit margin, that profit margin immediately disappears and I make no money. Once, I bought EVERY SINGLE type of Rune on the Trading Post. I then turned around and put them back on the Trading Post at twice the price. And the first person who got one as a drop put it on the Trading Post at less than it had originally been selling for. And then everyone else just matched his price. So I’ve never sold any of those Runes. I seriously just don’t get economics.

But, Arenanet, in their infinite wisdom, just implemented a new monthly/daily system. Now, completing these gives you Laurels and those Laurels can be spent on new items. For instance, 3 Laurels will buy you 3 Obsidian Shards. Five Laurels will give you a box with random Tier 6 crafting items. You can even buy boxes that will include a random rare/exotic. So you’d think it’d be slightly easier to get the crap you need. Except that these Laurels have the built-in problem of being attached to Daily achievements. Once you complete the Daily Achievement (in about an hour), you can’t get another one until the server resets the next day. So, those 3 Obsidian shards will take 3 days of active play. If you were starting from scratch in buying those 250 Obisidan Shards, you’re looking at 84 days (and let’s not mention how many more you need with the whole Mystic Clover thing). So, yes, there are more ways to get what you need for a legendary, but they’re intrinsically designed to be slow, because Arenanet does not want you farming.

Aside: the end game zones consist of just events. These have most of the tier 6 materials you need and constant events to give you kills, money, and Karma. There used to be event chains in Orr (the last zones) that you could farm, as they’d be restarting by the time you finished the whole chain. This made it easier to finish off your daily achievement as well as collect those rare crafting materials and rare/exotic equipment pieces. But Arenanet doesn’t want you farming, so they lengthened the time between the event chains restarting. Now, they run every half hour instead of every 10-15 minutes. So there’s nothing to do in their end game zones now. Brilliant.

Too fucking long, didn’t read: Getting the highest tier of item in Guild Wars 2 is a grindfest. A grindfest that the game actively fights you on completing. Now, it’s just a bright shiny piece of computer code and doesn’t really matter in the long run, but I still kind of like the game. I enjoy the combat. However, the combat isn’t enjoyable enough to play for an hour and get 2-3 Ectoplasms and 4-5 tier 6 crafting materials. The pace of this grind is too slow to show appreciable results. And, honestly, that’s fine. I’m not a grinder. I wasn’t going to enjoy that sort of gameplay in the first place. But it really annoys me to see Arenanet actively discourage people from playing this way, while at the same time making all the high-tier stuff require it. Why are you penalizing me from wanting to play your game? What is it to you if I get the bright shiny piece of computer code or not? I’m not paying a monthly fee. And since there’s no other end game content but this, it’d be great if the company could perhaps provide some incentive to keep me engaged in this grindtastic experience. Three Obsidian Shards every three days is not that incentive.

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