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Heart of Thorns Beta Weekend Event 2 Thoughts In A Nutshell

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Hello everyone! This post is to cover the changes in Beta Weekend Event 2 for Chronomancer, Dragonhunter, Reaper, Tempest, Berserker, Daredevil and the Revenant. I’ll also throw in a little Stronghold.

I want to note that the new section of Verdant Brink players can get into has way more challenging monsters and good event chains which is great. Well, seeing Lord Far… I mean, Swordmaster Faren in a speedo in the middle of a monster infested jungle wasn’t planned but was an interesting twist as side story. Anyways, the enemies are much more challenging and annoying to deal with which is good because players have to actually try and watch their positioning in fights. Alright, now, onto the elite specializations!

The Elite Specializations

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Chronomancer mostly got a balance in traits to reduce illusion spamming as it was a little too good (sorry mesmers). As I was fighting I definitely saw that I needed to work a bit more in order to summon illusions but it wasn’t to the point of being exceedingly hard. Also, Gravity Well (elite) was updated to pull every pulse which I found to be a nice change. Then I experienced it on the receiving end in Stronghold. Not a fun well to be in.

Next up is Dragonhunter. There are more changes in the works but for this beta weekend event the virtues got an update, the longbow’s Symbol of Energy got a damage buff & traps and traits got buffs. The virtues feel good with the Spear of Justice range lining up with the longbow range and Wings of Resolve healing more. I still think the cast time for traps need to go down. I also think Heavy Light needs to be removed or reworked to be attached to a longbow skill besides basic attacks. 240 knock back doesn’t seem like much but it’s enough to knock an enemy out of AoE which is very annoying. No wait, Extremely. Annoying.

Reaper, I thought was good, but now it’s really time to consider fearing the Reaper. They buffed pretty much everything: Greatsword payoffs are better, Reaper Shroud got tweaked and the shouts are stronger and have reduced or instant cast times. So I really have no complaints. One of my favorite changes to greatsword is that you can move while casting Nightfall (Greatsword 4) so you can move with your enemy in order to place the AoE blind properly. This allows you to land the rest of your skills successfully.

Tempest overall got a damage buff to some warhorn skills and overloads. The 2 main issues is a range indicator for Overloads. I’d like to know the area which my Overload Air is affecting when I’m bring lighting down on enemies. The other issue is Overload water as I’m still not really seeing the big heal. Maybe everyone’s health is topped off when I get to that point, I’m not sure.

Berserker is in a solid place. There’s definitely more damage options in the traits and rage skills and a clear view for condition damage that surrounds burning. I especially like Outrage since it’s a stun breaker on a really low cooldown. Torch is a pretty decent condition type of weapon, I can see it being used in PvP. The primal burst skills are all pretty decent, each providing an augmented version of the normal burst skills, most of them supplying fire. Since this is a new elite specialization, I’ll put out a post to describe my thoughts in more detail.

Daredevil brings back the dodge combat that fell out of the thief meta via traits and the 3rd endurance bar. It does so in a way that it isn’t horribly to strong and still rewards skillful dodging. Staff is a decent weapon but it’s hard to say right now if it’ll be viable for sPvP at all skill levels. Bandit’s Defense and Impact Strike are great physical skills to take in most scenarios with the other physical skills being situational (based on the build). I think the damage on the Impact strike combo needs to go down a bit since the first two skills are hard crowd control and Impact Strike’s Finishing Blow kills a person when the damage from Finishing Blow would put them into down state. Again, since this is a new elite specialization, I’ll put out a post to describe my thoughts in more detail.

Revenant Changes & Herald

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Revenant I spent most of my time with Shiro, Jalis and Glint with Sword/Shield and Hammer. So I can’t really speak about any changes to Ventari, Mallyx and their associated weapons. Buff to sword and tweaks to Shiro were amazing. There’s still an issue using Unrelenting Assault on an enemy near a wall but the rest is pretty great. Shiro got some nice tweaks, especially to the heal; you can now proc the heal on attack much quicker.

Now let’s talk Herald. Shield it really good. And I’m not saying that, it’s really good. The base heal on the skills make it a worthy option. To add on Envoy of Exuberance‘s (Shield 4) AoE protection you can grant to allies from a distance is great and the break bar on Crystal Hibernation (Shield 5) really helps with dealing with some binds.

The utilities are fantastic to say the least. The healing skill can help you heal to full if getting bombarded with attacks. In fact all the utility actives are pretty decent, You have a stealth reveal, AoE damage/condition field, a facing damage swipe, and a channeled cone knock down. What’s cool about the Facet utility skills is that you can have 2 or 3 on at a single time which is great for preparing for a fight or simply running around. I mean, who doesn’t like perma swiftness?

The Herald is meant to be a party support type but the specialization line can be customized to support you in combat or your allies around you.

Stronghold Hype!

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The first BWE I didn’t get a chance to get into stronghold because I was testing out the elite specializations. This time I actually spent quite a few games in Stronghold. So the opening strategy I like the best is sending one person to defend (preferably someone tanky), one or two to the enemy guards (DPS) and the rest to supply camp. From there you assess what to do next. Trebuchet is really good for the one defending because people don’t expect it and either come up to stop you or still try to take out guards which is much more in your favor. The strategy I saw in a few games is that people wrap around the backline in order to attack the enemy doorbreakers earlier. This works if no one is escorting. I don’t like it too much because you run a high risk of being seen by a lot of people before actually attacking the doorbreakers.

I still find the map a bit snowball-y if a team gets a really good start due to the death timers being the same for the duration of a match. If a team is hard pushing for lord and fail, they don’t really get punished due to just reapplying pressure. There’s not enough time for the other team to mount a half decent offensive unless they have really mobile people. Thankfully, there’s overtime. Overtime is a cool mechanic. I only experienced it once and won because I cleaved someone to gain the 5 point lead before the timer ran out.

To Conclude

And those are my thoughts from BWE1 into BWE2 and Stronghold. I’ll be making separate posts on Berserker and Daredevil. To summarize, Chronomancer is in a good spot, Dragonhunter still needs work, Reaper is in a good spot, Tempest is almost in a good spot, Berserker is solid but can use some tweaks, Daredevil need some tweaks, Revenant is looking pretty solid and Stronghold can be a bit snowball-y if your team mess up early; otherwise it’s a very fun PvP mode to play.

The First Heart Of Thorns Beta Weekend Event Starts August 7th!

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It’s that time again friends! The latest blog post by Colin Johanson reveals that the first beta weekend is upon us and starts Friday, August 7th at noon Pacific and ends on Monday, August 10th at noon Pacific. Anyone who pre-purchased Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will be able to try out the starting area aka Verdant Brink for Heart of Thorns as well as the first story instance. The content in this area will give ArenaNet enough information to gain a good understand of how everything works and to properly update the content that appears later in the expansion. There’s also the following:

– Players can make a character of any profession and any race; you’ll will have access to level 80 gear.

– The Revenant profession will be available as well as the Shiro legend and specialization line. The elite specializations announced will be available as well. That’s Chronomancer, Dragonhunter, Reaper and Tempest

– You may take your beta character into the world of Tyria for PvE, PvP & WvW

– The sPvP Stronghold mode will be available and pre-purchasers will have all 3 Mist Champions unlocked

– The Map Bonus Reward system, which basically rewards players for completing events, will be active so players can experience what it feels like

– Progress for this beta weekend event will be saved for the next beta weekend so you can pick up where you left off

– Players will have 4 beta character slots to play with

Looking For Feedback

ArenaNet want your feedback on all the content they’re letting people play so they can fine tune it or make it better. Is the jungle content not to your liking? Why so? Do you like the feel of Dragonhunter? Do you like the bonus map rewards you’re getting? These are just some of the questions they want player’s feedback on. I encourage you to let yourself be heard on the forums.

If you’re not going to Gamescon, I hope you didn’t make plans for next weekend!

Guild Wars 2 Revenant & Stronghold Test This Weekend!

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Ok so first, just as a reminder, there will be a WvW stress test this coming Thursday July 9th for selected individuals. I know DocGotGame is in but it’s likely that WvW streamers Reyana and Shinryuku got in as well so be sure to check out their streams.

Now for the latest news! Starting this Friday, July 10th, at noon Pacific till Monday, July 17th, at noon Pacific, there will be a testing weekend! Heart of Thorns pre-purchasers can play as the new Revenant class in the main Guild Wars 2 game. That’s right, you can PvE, PvP and WvW as a Revenant. The Ventari legend and melee staff will be available as well. Everyone will also gain access to Stronghold mode in PvP. The new Mist Champions and the separate queues will also be available! Note all of this is for testing as well as experiencing the content and getting feedback. Don’t be shy about posting your feedback on the forums if you have something to say!

If that’s not enough news for you, next week on Friday July 17th to July 24th is the special WvW event Golem Rush. During the event:

  • All siege golems in WvW no longer require supply to construct.
  • All siege golems in WvW will deal 100% additional damage to other golems and players.
  • All siege golems in WvW will move at 100% additional movement speed.

There will also be a boost available to all called “Mist War Summons” that does the following:

  • +15% World Experience Bonus in WvW
  • +15% Experience Bonus in WvW
  • +50% Magic Find in WvW

Should be a fun two weeks coming for Guild Wars 2 players!

Mist Champions To Replace Heroes In Guild Wars 2 Stronghold

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This week’s Guild Wars 2 news is Stronghold related! Game Designers Branden Gee and Hugh Norfolk released a blog post about Mist Champions and Stronghold queue. Mist Champions will be coming to the mode replacing Heroes as the new super NPC that helps your team out.

How Are Mist Champions Different From Heroes?

Well to start, each player can choose their own Mist Champion they want at the start of the game. Mist Essence will still be a thing but instead of a Hero spawning, the person who got the Mist Essence channel will have their Mist Champion summoned to fight for their team.

Similar to Heroes, Mist Champions each have a unique passive buff and an elite skill that’s used in the Lord’s room. In addition, each Mist Champion has a War Cry which is a map-wide skill used when summoned.

What Are My Mist Champion Options?

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There will be 3 champion options: Turai Ossa (image above), Grymm Svaard (image below), and Nika (1st image) who was an Assassin NPC that helped players in Guild Wars: Factions.

Turai Ossa – The Savior of Elona:

  • Shield of Elona: War Cry – Turai grants a protective barrier for every team member and ally Lord on summon
  • Desert Carapace: Passive – Turai pulses Aegis around himself. Allies near Turai gain protection when blocking an attack
  • Bane of Joko: Elite – Turai taunts all enemies in the Lord’s Room and returns any damage taken as increased retaliation damage.

Grymm Svaard – Sailor and Sword-For-Hire aboard the Nomad II:

  • Cannon Barrage: War Cry – On summon, Grymm calls for all enemies to get attacked by a cannonball that causes knockdown and burn damage on hit
  • Steel & Fury: Passive – Grymm pulses fury around himself. Allies near Grymm that critically hit an enemy have a chance for Grymm to call down a cannonball that causes knockdown and burn on hit.
  • Nomad II Broadside: Elite – Grymm signals his ship, Nomad II, to fire cannons into the Lord room. These cannonballs cause knockdown and burn on hit.

Nika – Obsidian Flame Assassin, Avenger of Vizu:

  • Furtive Glance: War Cry – Nika stealths every team member and ally Lord on summon. Hitting an enemy from Furtive Glance stealth blinds the enemy.
  • Smoke & Daggers: Passive – Nika pulses stealth around her. Hitting an enemy from this stealth blinds the enemy.
  • Fade to Black: Elite – Nika will stealth herself and start attacking all enemies in the Lord Room. At times, she will leave stealth to perform an attack on an enemy that causes daze and blind.

Do I Have Access To All These Mist Champions At The Start?

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When Stronghold is released, Turai Ossa will be the default Mist Champion available to all players. Grymm Svaard will be available to players who finish his reward track in PvP. Nika will be available to all players who finish her reward track in PvP as well. However, Nika’s track is only available to players who buy Heart of Thorns.

Mist Champions will be made available in the future but will require Heart of Thorns. Pre-purchasers will have access to all 3 Mist Champions during Stronghold betas.

Separate Queue For Stronghold Confirmed!

Players have been asking for a separate queue for Stronghold seeing that some players just want to play Stronghold or have to consistency swap builds if Conquest and Stronghold were part of the same queue.

Worry no longer! Players in PvP will have additional game mode preferences that will allow them to queue for Stronghold, Conquest or both! Players who have the same preferences will be queued with each other. For example, players who pick to queue only in Stronghold will be matched with people who also only queue for Stronghold. Player who queue for both Stronghold and Conquest will be queued with players that also queue for both but might find themselves in a Conquest or Stronghold queue. Stronghold queues will skip map selection and go directly into the loading screen since there is only one Stronghold map.

It’ll be interesting to see if Mist Champions will bring a change to how Stronghold is played but I don’t this it’ll fix the initial zerg problem unless Mist Champions will be available near the start of the game. I think it’s really nice to give players the option to queue separately for Stronghold or Conquest if they want to. I don’t think it’ll be too much of a problem but we’ll have to see if queue times will be longer due to this.

Guild Wars 2 Stronghold: Thoughts On What Players Should Keep In Mind

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Hi guys! This week’s Guild Wars 2 post is on Stronghold. It’s no secret that I got into GW2 sPvP a few months back (if you watch my stream). So I was really excited that I could finally try out Stronghold. I spent a bunch of games trying out different ways of playing the map in addition observing how others play the map as well. You can check out some of those games here if you’d like to.  I’ve come up with a list of things I think you need to do fairly well in Stronghold. I also did a small summary of where I saw professions excel at.

Map Awareness Is Key

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This is a big, big, BIG thing players need to have. MOBA players know exactly what I’m talking about here. Map awareness is where you frequently check your mini map in order to determine where players are (on your team and the enemy team) and where you are most needed at that moment given your position. In Conquest, map awareness is more forgivable since the capture points are quite close to each other. However, the Stronghold map, Battle at Champion’s Dusk is quite large and you really need to assess where enemies are, what NPCs are going up and down lanes. You need to do all of this in order to keep your gates and lord alive while pressuring the enemy team to do the same.

Always Have NPCs Flowing

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This is something I noticed a lot in games. When there was a Hero spawn or if there was a heavy offense by the enemy team so that a lot of players had to go defend, that resulted in a lack of NPCs being channeled. This should never happen. Why? You’ll never get pressure back. Pretty much every game I played that a team had a good advantage or was pushing super hard resulted in the other team losing because they’re not getting any supply for NPCs and purely defending at some point. I believe that at every point in the game, there should be some Archers or Doorbreakers in your attacking lane.

Let’s give an example to show what I mean. Hero spawn timer just starts as you revive and the Hero spawn is near your away from your base. You notice everyone on your team and the enemy team is focused on getting the Hero (which is usually the case). You can either:

  1. Let some teammates contest while you run to supply camp, run back to channel a few Archers or Doorbreakers or one of each and then run to contest Hero or
  2. Run right away to contest with your team and no one gets any more NPCs.

Obviously this results in ultimately two situations. Your team get the Hero or the enemy team does. However, the pressure from your team can greatly be diminished or increased due to picking option 1 or 2. If you picked 1), and if you picked the NPCs accordingly, you’ll have less guards to deal with or even better a gate down or almost. Either way, the enemy team will have to go deal with it if they don’t want to lose more ground. This push gets even better if you got the Hero. If you went for 2) then you have no pressure so the enemy team has nothing to worry about so they can push harder into your base. This can be turned around if you get the Hero though. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer option 1) because you have some pressure attacking no matter what.

Take Out NPCs First & Players Second

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Something I noticed with a few enemy players is that they were easily distracted by a low health thief (aka me). In fact, in one match, I kept 3 people busy trying to kill me as I popped in and out of stealth, just trying to survive the 50/50 AoE cleaves they were putting on me till I finally went down but I managed to buy my team plenty of time to get a bunch of NPCs to continue pushing in addition to letting the Doorbreakers I escorted to the inner gate do a ton of work.

You should always prioritize NPCs as the first target, whether attacking Guards or defending from Archers, Heroes or Doorbreakers. NPCs are what drive the progression your team makes. If enemy players are trying to kill you, try to kite them out as you take out the NPCs. No Doorbreakers for the enemy means less progress made on their part. No Guards in the enemy attack lane means an easier time getting your Doorbreakers through. It’s well worth it, I assure you.

Hard Crowd Control Is Essential To Have

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I really didn’t think about it in my first couple of matches but I have to tell you, hard Crowd Control (or CC) is so useful in Stronghold. Stopping a person from channeling supply or a Hero is much like stopping a person from finishing a player. You need to either put them into downstate or have some hard CC. You’ll definitely need it for stopping supply runners or stopping a Hero channel. The following counts as hard CC:

  • Daze
  • Fear
  • Knockback
  • Knockdown
  • Launch
  • Pull
  • Stun
  • Petrify (Thief Basilisk Venom)
  • Frozen (from Elementalist Frost Bow “Deep Freeze” skill)

On the flip side, stability plays a major role to block out these Hard CCs. Be sure to take off stability stacks by using conditions and the like. Now that I’ve covered some essentials, let’s talk about roles and professions.

Stronghold Roles

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There are many types of roles as outlined in a past ArenaNet article but I’ll generalize it into 4 main roles to make it easier:

  • Attacker – This person should be an enemy team’s nightmare. This person is constantly raiding enemy defenses in order to take out guards, the enemy trebuchet, or players that try to take out friendly NPCs
  • Defender – This person is vigilant in making sure enemy NPCs are taken out or that enemy players do not take out guards
  • Supply Runner – This person is, in my opinion, the most valuable person. They constantly run supply for the consistent flow of NPCs for attacking the gate
  • Escort – This person supports the NPCs in the attacking lane either by buffs, heals or protection from enemy players

Note that anyone can play these roles and you can easy roam and switch to another role when necessary. For example, I can be an attacker and consistently be taking out guards until 2 players finally take me out. Then when I respawn, I can become a supply runner if no one is running supply or, if a lot of NPCs are at my gate, I can transition to a defender.

Professions In Stronghold

Now, even though any profession can play the roles mentioned above, some professions excel at certain things which make them a great asset to Stronghold. Let’s go over some of them.

Guardian – Support Guardians are amazing at escorting NPCs as proven by Environment Artist Tirzah Bauer. In Stronghold dev matches, she ran a Consecration build in order to keep Doorbreakers healed and protected from damage. It was quite impressive. You can check it out the dev matches in this video.

Warrior – I have to say, warriors are definitely great attackers. With their survivability, they can easily argo guards while taking them out in addition to taking on enemy players allowing Doorbreakers to get through. Or they can go for a more damage oriented route and take out guards even more quickly.

Revenant – Not 100% sure on this but I feel that they can be great defenders, especially with the taunt chain on enemy heroes.

Engineer – Engineers provide solid defense. Place turrets at your gate, hop onto the trebuchet and clear out the waves of NPCs or stand firm alongside your turrets. You can even bunker down the supply camp and not allow any enemies in without them taking some form of damage.

Ranger – With longbow, Rangers really do excel at attacking and defending. Rangers can cover and defend a lane while staying near the supply camp to assist runners. They can also, burst enemy Guards down from a distance or agro them early to keep them off Doorbreakers.

Thief – Thieves are great at supply running. With high mobility from shortbow they can get to a supply camp and back to NPC channel doors quite quickly. Similarly with Warriors, they also make for great attackers if built for high burst and can slip away if getting attacked too much.

Elementalist – Staff support ele comes into play as a viable Escort keeping NPCs alive as they move forward is vital for winning Stronghold matches.

Mesmer – The use of Portal at the right times can really make Mesmers a valuable asset as a supply runner in addition to Blink and clones they can make to get away with supply. They can also make for great defenders slowing NPCs and barraging them with AoE conditions and burst damage. Shatter Mesmer anyone?

Necromancer – I didn’t see a lot of Necromancers but the ones I saw did well as defenders. They bring a lot of AoE slows, damage and fears in order to strive off a horde of Doorbreakers, Archers and enemy players. It’s one of the greatest assets a Necromancer (especially a Staff Necromancer) can bring to slow an assault.

I have to applaud ArenaNet on this amazing mode. Watching the 23 hour stream of streamers from both PvE and PvP background you can tell this mode is fun for players of both backgrounds. Even streamers that are coming back to Guild Wars 2 had fun with the mode. I really can’t wait till it comes back again, either in another beta or on release of Heart of Thorns. Oh and don’t worry, I did actually do some beta testing. In fact, I have a list of bugs/suggestions I have to review and articulate out before I post them on the forums.