An Inauspicious Return to Tyria

Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

Br’er Rabbit, applying the teachings of Sun Tzu

I guess at this point we should all take it as read that when I put up a post that says I am not going to buy something that is on sale, said sale has a high likelihood of winning out in the end.

Remember when Steam put Rift on sale?  Yeah, that.

So I broke down and purchased Guild Wars 2 Sunday morning.

For those who want a time stamp to see if their comments had any influence, I put in a comment of my own at about the time I was making that decision.

Getting in and buying the game was a snap.  Aside from the odd fact that the 30% discount didn’t seem to apply to PayPal purchases, there was no problem and I had a code for the game in mail email within minutes.

ArenaNet and I are both pretty security conscious, which lead to problems.

I forgot the password for my Guild Wars 2 account, something I figured out only when I got to the screen to register my code.  The problem with juggling so many passwords is that if I don’t use one for a while, I forget it.  And just to tease me, Firefox remembered the password, so I could log into my account on the web, I just couldn’t enter the password myself.  That actually surprised me, because I thought I had that remember password feature turned off.  Ah well.

So I went to recover my password.  Unfortunately, recovering your password requires entering your product registration code, and I had just acquired the code, so it wasn’t associated with my account.  So that failed and directed me to contact customer support.

The customer support site requires its own account, which makes sense but I really don’t need another account/password to remember, and, in the end, had answers to issues unrelated to my own.  The most interesting tidbit there was a notice that people who had not changed their passwords recently were being forced to reset them.  So I was going to need a password reset no matter what it seemed.

Eventually I decided that there must have been a code for the free weekend back in November.  Tracking that down meant filtering through chat and email across a number of accounts for the week preceding the event, because while I knew who sent me the code, I couldn’t recall on which channel it had been sent.

That tracked down, I was able to get a link for a password reset, which then took me a number of tries because it rejected the first few new passwords that I gave it as they had been previously used.  And they had been.  I had just typed them in attempting to access my account, which apparently puts them on a “used” list.

That was annoying, as was their suggestion that this XKCD cartoon was the answer to all password problems.

I love XKCD, but I hate that cartoon.  To me, it feels very much like saying all your computer virus and trojan problems will be gone if you use Mac OS.  Yes, if few people use that method, then it is brilliant.  But if everybody’s password is four dictionary words, 3-8 characters in length, then the security gained by that many more bits is removed by it being four freaking dictionary words.  And we’re all going to pick easy ones.  We’re just like that.

My question is always, “Why does your system let somebody enter 1,000 passwords a second?”

That tends to earn me dismissive looks and statements about how I don’t understand security at all.  Fine, not my area of expertise.  But still, why?

Anyway, once I picked a clean password I was cleared to move on to the code registration, which followed form and failed for me with a “session expired” error.  Eventually I figured out that my clicking on the link to allow my IP address access to my account was what had expired, as ArenaNet was sending me a new link every time I tried to register the code.  How about an error message that says, “Go click on the damn link we just sent you, you great pillock!”  I guess that entering user name and password triggers a new session, which you have to do as part of the registration.  I was already logged in when I started, so I thought I was covered.

Anyway, after about two hours, the registration of my code was complete.  At least I did not have to deal with customer service, as I expect it would have reflected the rest of the process.  They had my money, so without a subscription, my general usefulness as a customer was over and my new role as a burden on their resources was just beginning.

Fortunately, in a nod to the fact that something in the subconscious  me actually knows me very well, I had decided to patch GW2 the night before after we wrapped up instance group play time.  I had no conscious desire to buy the game at that point.  In fact, I try to follow the rule online purchases made after dark are almost always a mistake.  Something said, “Just in case….”

Of course, I also patched up Diablo III and Star Trek Online in the last week as well, so even my subconscious seems a bit random in its choices.

Anyway, at about lunch time I was able to actually get in and play the game, which was the point of the whole exercise.

I had a couple of characters on the server Henge of Denravi, which I picked back during the November free trial because I had some friends playing there.  I promptly deleted them.  The characters, that is, not the friends.  The friends I didn’t have to delete, as they all stopped playing GW2 months ago.  Hrmm, maybe I should have recalled that fact a bit earlier?

As for my characters, they were only a few levels into the game and I figured I was better off starting from scratch again than trying to figure out where I had left off.

I created a Norn warrior in what was going to be something of my own likeness, but which ended up looking more like friend and occasional commenter here on the blog, Blueline Basher.

Big bearded Viking guy

Big bearded Viking guy

I went through the Norn start and ended up in Wayfarer Foothills with a decision about how I was going to proceed.  There are no quests in the WoW style to guide you through the game.  There is your personal story, a long series of quests that your character is offered and which does appear to send you to new places.  But you cannot make that your only focus, as each stage requires you to pick up a level or two, so the chain quickly out runs your capabilities.

You have to get out in the world and do other stuff.

I decided I was going to take the OCD route and find/do everything in each zone once.  The GW2 designers clearly had that in mind, putting up a little counter for you on the map to make sure you know where you stand.


That also seemed to be the most viable route, as experience given for finding/accomplishing these things seemed quite generous, at least relative to grinding the local fauna.  Experience for killing stuff is pretty stingy in comparison.

With that as my goal, I set out into the sparsely populated Wayfarer Foothills zone.  We are certainly past the big rush of character creation.  I do not know if Henge of Denravi is a low population server, if the Norn are just not a popular race, or if Sunday is, contrary to Raptr’s opinion, is just not a busy day, but it was very quiet when I was out and about.  (Nosy Gamer’s weekly Xfire stats show GW2 down again last week, though still more popular than any MMO besides WoW.)

I did see other players now and again, but almost nobody who was a new.  They all showed to be down leveled (little down arrow next to their displayed level) and judging by how quickly they were tearing through things relative to me and how quickly they showed up and moved on, they were people at or around level cap filling out some daily quota or picking up locations that they hadn’t hit before.

My experience back in November indicated that nobody talks when filling up their little hearts, so fewer people not talking isn’t really a big change.  I did get one high level person who grabbed mobs and trained them on to me while I was fighting.  My main attack seems to be AOE, which is very handy, except when somebody drags a bunch of mobs over you and you tag them and they stomp you into a pulp.  I have no idea why that happened.  The person in question didn’t answer me, except to drag more stuff over me once I returned from the waypoint.  I went elsewhere until they were gone.

I ran around doing events, visiting points of interest, admiring vistas, picking up waypoints, talking to scouts, and the various other things in zone to level myself up so I could continue on with my personal story which, among other things, seemed to be the only source of equipment upgrades.

Experience for just looking around!

Experience for just looking around!

A few of the special events I couldn’t do, as they clearly required multiple players.  That hoard of whatever they were in the cave over by the place across the river by the bears… yeah, them… they were going to stomp me into so much Norn jelly no matter how hard I tried.

I also started to wonder if my plan to do everything just once was going to hold out.  That didn’t seem to be keeping up with the level I needed to be and I ended up wandering into areas in search of the next thing, only to find that the next things was a few levels above me and likely to return me to my Norn jelly state again.  I may have to go back and repeat things to keep up at the level I need.

Of course, I might have just run off in the wrong direction.  And even when in over my head and likely to die, the system is very forgiving.  I went after one guy in my personal story about two levels too soon.

Smacking Elder Thruin

Smacking Elder Thruin

I made some headway, but wasn’t able to pull it off, dying short of my goal.

Dead Again

Dead Again

But I was able to revive at the waypoint for the encounter, which basically put me right back in the fight again fresh, while the bad guy was still down health.

Didn't expect a full recovery, did you?

Didn’t expect a full recovery, did you?

That got me through the event, which I really wanted because it rewarded me with an upgraded weapon.

I last ended up a couple levels down on my story and looking around for something to do that didn’t involve kids and snowballs or obnoxious Norn-tipping rabbits.  I swear, I was ready to call on Bhagpuss the bunny slayer.

Still, being lost in the world for the first couple of days is about par for the course.  And there is much to recommend the game.  As I have said previously, a limited set of skills is something of a relief after the “skills? the more the merrier!” approach of games like Rift and EverQuest II.  I swapped between my sword and shield set of skills and my duel wielding sword set of skills to unlock what I could there.

And I have to admit a fondness for the F key being the “do the thing” key, like it is in EverQuest II.  Though in GW2, if also covers looting as well, though I am going to have to find the check box that lets me just loot the stuff I find in a corpse without having to go for another key press.

The most unlikely synergy so far was between GW2 and World of Tanks, as the default GW2 key set binds the auto run key to both the traditional Num Lock key and the R key.  In WoT, the R key is also the auto run… or auto drive… key, and since I have been playing a lot of WoT lately, my finger instinctively goes there to start moving.

Granted, I tend to do R-R-R, because in WoT there are three forward speeds, so my Norn tends to start his run with a stutter step or run, stop, run.  Still, it works.

And so begins my journey into Tyria, as I pit GW2 in the fight between my long time love of fantasy MMORPGS and my current malaise with the genre.  Which will win out?

26 thoughts on “An Inauspicious Return to Tyria

  1. Mid

    By the by, if it turns out you don’t like GW2, you can put a customer support ticket in for a refund and they will happily do so, no questions asked. They even reply to you pretty much the same day and the money is back in your paypal by the next day.


  2. bhagpuss

    One of the many reasons it’s always dangerous to generalize on the basis of one’s own experience in MMOs is that the exact same zone and time of day can differ wildly in business or popularity from server to server. On Yak’s Bend Wayfarer Foothills is always busy any time I play (and bear in mind that at peak time on YB I am fast asleep).

    I posted the other day about how the circuit people run following the major events that culminate in the appearance of a Big Chest O’ Loot is the most theme-parky experience I’ve ever come across in an MMO. One of those events takes place in the middle of Wayfarer’s Foothills approximately every 30 minutes, drawing large numbers of max-level characters. On Sunday I did it a few times and there were never fewer than a couple of dozen people doing it.

    On Yak’s Bend, as Mrs Bhagpuss said to me while we were out in the middle of nowhere yesterday, there are people on pretty much every map at every time of day. I was doing events in Fields of Ruin, a relatively obscure 30-40 map this afternoon, so around 5-6am PST on a weekday, and there were people either at every event I ran into or people joined me as soon as I got one going.

    Having played from the insanely busy launch period through to the present I’d have to say I prefer it now. It’s easier to appreciate how detailed, clever and often downright hilarious many of them are. When there are scores of people the events are immensely exciting but it’s often very hard to follow what’s going on.

    In my by now pretty extensive experience, most events not actually flagged “Group” can be done solo (although as implied earlier it’s rare for me to be left alone long enough to get to the end of one on my own). I find all the old tricks I learned back in the day in EQ come in just as handy here – proper pulling, crowd control, splitting mobs using leashes, getting other mobs/NPCs involved as unwilling helpers etc etc. Imagine you’re in West Karana doing bandits.

    The Norn 1-15 map and the Charr 15-25 map (Diessa Plateau, one of my absolute favorites) are particularly heavy in whimsy. The Norn seem obsessed with rabbits as you noticed, while the Charr have an extremely unhealthy relationship with cows. The Human and Asura starting areas (and the Charr 1-15 map) are a lot less twee. I found the Sylvari low-level area literally unbearable so I have never really done it.

    As for how to approach leveling up, in my opinion if you go for Map Completion and Personal Story, while you will undoubtedly get better gear and be richer, unless you are a real hardcore Achiever you will get fed up pretty quickly. I just ignored all that right from the start and went exploring and I’m still excited by what’s over the next hill six months later.

    Gear really doesn’t matter much. You’ll get most of what you need as drops, you can craft it yourself easily at low levels and although there is a “low level premium” in the market by now, as in all maturing games, you can generally find all you need on the TP for a pittance.

    On server and guild choice and playing with friends, don’t forget you can Guest on two other servers and join as many guilds as will have you, although you can only “represent” one at a time. If you want to join my guild on Yak’s Bend (current roster me and Mrs Bhagpuss and one member absconded to Rift last November and rarely seen since) shoot me an email and I’ll be more than happy to give you details.

    Given your oft expressed nostalgia for EQ I recommend you level up in the North, in the Norn lands where you are and particularly up through Ascalon to the north east (Ashford, Diessa, Ruins, Blazeridge etc). The whole feel of Ascalon reminds me tremendously of roaming the Karanas.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mid – I doubt I will dislike the game enough to demand a refund. My worry is more along the lines of my ending up never playing because there are other things I would rather play… which was my story with Guild Wars. Well, that and hating the character models.

    @Bhagpuss – “One of the many reasons it’s always dangerous to generalize on the basis of one’s own experience in MMOs is that the exact same zone and time of day can differ wildly in business or popularity from server to server.”

    Which is exactly why I didn’t say, “OMG, this game is dead!” Rather I mentioned my server, zone, and time of day and the people I ran into.

    As for leveling, I can be quite the anal achiever. I didn’t get all the freaking Argent Tournament titles because I am a normal, well adjusted person. Plus, at the moment, the stuff over the next hill can often pound me into paste.


  4. Jeromai

    Henge of Denravi suffered a bit of a population collapse when the big WvW guilds migrated from the server. That may explain some of the sparse player population.

    Consider guesting to another server if you want slightly bigger crowds. I can only attest to seeing decently tolerable population overall on my current server Tarnished Coast, as that seems to be a common guesting/gathering point for people interested in PvE leveling.

    Some starter maps – human and norn in particular, sylvari and charr less so, seem to have more people in them, whereas the jungle Asura areas have been comparatively more deserted.


  5. bhagpuss

    I didn’t mean *you* were generalizing. I was covering myself against anyone assuming *I* was!

    I really am going to have to start taking more care over how I express myself. I seem to be making a habit of saying the exact opposite of what I think I am saying.


  6. NoAstronomer

    I had trouble with that personal story quest, and with a couple of others too. Actually it took me a while to realize that if I used the ‘Retry from a checkpoint’ option I would usually jump right back into the fight.

    As far as keeping up with levels goes it does seem to be a common issue. I think you do need to gather stuff and to do some crafting in order to keep on track with what the developers expected.

    *** spoiler alert ***
    You may want look at other weapons for warrior. *cough*axes*cough*

    Personally I found the Asura starting area the most twee. The Sylvari area really isn’t that bad outside the immediate 1-5 zone. The Norn and Charr areas are definitely the best.



  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – As long as you don’t repeat the “anal achiever” line at some future date when it is optimally embarrassing, I’ll cut you some slack. I figured that was what you probably meant, but there was that text on my screen, and in my head it read differently. I should probably stop using that snotty French-Canadian little boy voice in my head when reading comments.

    @NoAstro – I thought I was going to be able to swear off crafting, what with all the complaints about the auction house and such. Is there any crafting that is actually useful for a warrior to have? Or is the GW2 version of “Verb Integer Noun” quests, “craft 10 widgets?”


  8. kiantremayne

    It’s possible that the guy training mobs on top of you was an asshat trying to get his “daily healer” achievement done by letting you get downed or defeated and then reviving you until he has done the requisite ten good deeds for the day.

    Alternatively, he may have been an asshat pure and simple.


  9. rowan

    As Bhagpuss pointed out, the TP really is a buyer’s market; which is good if you want to gear up. Not so much if you’re trying to sell crafted items. You certainly won’t get rich by crafting, but the experimentation feature is kind of interesting and gives both excellent crafting “XP” and character XP.

    A little bit of fast and loose with the adventuring may help, too. I’ve done a lot of Map Completion items, but take almost every chance to do events as they pop, unless it’s on a quick timer.

    Completing all the daily achievements can be a good sourse of XP loot and Karma, but they can occasionally be frustrating to do.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experiences and impressions.


  10. NoAstronomer

    Armorsmith and Weaponsmith are definitely useful for a warrior right from the start. Though I’ve personally only got as far as iron, one up from basic copper/bronze, so I can’t really speak for high-level crafting. Maybe Bhagpuss can? You’ll be able to craft just about anything you can wear and most of the weapons you would use – just not firearms or bows. I haven’t seen much on the TP that is substantially better than items I could craft.

    If you want to keep your crafting up with your character level you’ll need to do a little crafting of unwanted items, but nothing like as bad as WoW was. The interface is easy to use and Research is a very nice twist to a familiar trope.

    Gathering works well in that every character can gather everything, there’s no skill involved, you just need the right set of tools. To balance that, each ‘gather’ uses one item from your stack of tools. Higher world resources need better tools. Tools come in stacks of 50 or 100 iirc, and at low levels they’re cheap. Anything you’re not using in crafting seems to sell well on the TP. Equiped tools don’t replace your weapons and they don’t take up bag space.

    Finally, in case it needs pointing out, both crafting and gathering give XP.

    * I play GW2 very casually so I have six characters, none higher than 51, the rest are in the 15-30 region.


  11. bhagpuss

    At low level crafting is definitely economically viable but in the mid levels it’s better value to sell your crafting mats and buy from the TP. There are exceptions but that’s the rule of thumb. You definitely can make money crafting if you make specific things. I seem to remember Saylah at Mystic Worlds going into some detail about that.

    I made myself some 12 slot bags tonight and it cost me about 20% below TP going rate, had I bought the mats. As it was I had the mats already anyway…


  12. Pitrelli

    Glad to see you have given in. If you are looking to do dungeons when you hit 30 I advise you download the lfg phone app, I’ve recently started using it and its pretty awesome for getting groups relatively fast.


  13. El Mutharino

    Also, you can level all the crafting professions. You can only have 2 active but you can temporarily ‘forget’ one and choose another.

    If you want to go back to the one you ‘forgot’ you only have to pay 1c per level, so say you want to ‘remember’ your BS lvl 300, that will cost you 3 silver.

    Another good craft for a warrior (hell for any classes) is Jewelry


  14. Solf

    I’ve only read the beginning of this post — but before I forget and since noone else seems to have commented on this (based on search) — why don’t you use password management software?

    Personally I’m using PasswordSafe. Free. Works okay although I can’t say if it is better or worse than any alternatives. Saves my ass when I can’t remember some password somewhere (although I’m also lately using Opera’s password management with a master password).

    Basically you get database of your passwords locked/encrypted by the master password.


  15. João Carlos

    “sparsely populated Wayfarer Foothills ”
    Funny… after the patch yesterday, it is no more a sparselly populated zone…


  16. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Solf – Paranoia mostly. Putting all my passwords into a single location that says “Hey, passwords stored here!” means somebody just has to crack that, or get the password through other means, and have everything.

    That, and knowing myself, I wouldn’t keep it up to date. I have to change too many passwords too often. I do wonder at times how I remember as many as I do.

    And I thought there were three forward and two reverse speeds at one point. I could be misremembering that due to some password overwriting that bit of memory.


  17. Solf

    @Wilhelm / WoT
    It is entirely possible that there are 3 forward speeds.

    It is just that double-hit goes to full forward. Possibly if you slow-hit, then you’d be at 2/3.


  18. rowan

    A method for passwords that a coworker uses. She writes down a different partial password for each login in a notebook. These stay the same. Then she has a key sequence that she changes periodically. When she does switch, she changes the passwords on every system she has a login for. Then, even if someone gets the book, they don’t know the changing key sequence, which she has memorized.

    I have yet to implement the system myself. :\


  19. Solf

    On password management software — I guess the obvious comment here is that if you use it, then you protect it with a strong password that you don’t use anywhere else and thus it is very secure.

    But yes, it is an obvious target for someone gaining access to your file system. For me, I think using it is far more beneficial and secure than not using it (and having to use e.g. the same password in a lot of places).


  20. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Solf – And if I were a hacker, I would view password management software as a challenge, something against which to test my mettle as well a big sign that says something like, “Here be the keys to the kingdom.” It is like what Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks; that’s where the money is. And, as noted in the cartoon linked, strong passwords are an illusion.

    But mostly it is the fact that I probably would let it fall out of date pretty quickly because, dammit, I can remember all of those passwords (ego), and I wouldn’t bother with non-important ones (priorities), and there is always password recovery (laziness).

    I know me too well at this point in my life. I am one of those people who loves the stationary store because of all the binders and folders and sorting shelves and other things to organize all your stuff, but who ends up with piles of paper on his desk no matter how many trays and folders and what not he buys.


  21. Solf

    Well, first of all hackers would need to get to the file which I’d like to think is not an easy task in my case (ego) :)

    But yeah, of course, it is a bother to maintain the file. I did find for myself that it seems to work out better for me with the file (i.e. less time wasted), but me is not you, of course, so not really trying to convince you — as you said, you know you won’t maintain it, so no point really — just keeping up the conversation I guess :)


  22. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    I’m still not super-enthusiastic about GW2. A this point, it feels like I’m mostly playing it out of a desire to dissect it more than really enjoying it.It does have some interesting dynamics in the world, but it’s frustrating on a lot of design levels. I’d be really interested in hearing your experiences as you blog about it.

    As for crafting, I’d echo what was said above: playing around at low levels is pretty harmless, but here’s just not much long-term profit or interest in it. If you really want to craft because you hate yourself, I’d suggest Jewelcrafting and Chef. Jewelry doesn’t seem to drop as often as armor and weapons do, so the prices aren’t always at rock bottom on the trading post like with a lot of other stuff. Chef makes good use of the “discovery” system for crafting, and food buffs can be nifty. Be warned that Chef will take a lot of money, patience, and Karma to level up; a lot of the ingredients you can’t even get until higher levels, too. But, it’s the only craft that doesn’t have an absolutely boringly predictable system for combines.

    In general, though, you’ll find that the gear you want will be available cheaper and easier on the trading post. In addition, you can get a wider selection of gear, as crafted stuff jumps by 5 levels between “groups”, whereas drops are available for every level. Just hit the TP about every 5-10 levels and you’ll be fine.


  23. Mekhios


    A little off topic but related to your password issues. I thoroughly recommend you get a free utility called KeePass – . You can generate completely random passwords for all of your games and you won’t even have to remember them. Alternatively just use it as a database of games passwords.

    It has saved me from trying to remember passwords and also allows me to generate very secure passwords on a regular basis.


  24. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    @João Carlos

    Yeah, I should add that pretty much any crafting ability is nearly useless at the highest levels. Maybe Chef for some high end food buffs, but you can probably still buy the food for cheaper on the TP than the materials. But, nearly any gear you can make you can get better from dungeon or laurel merchants at level 80. The only advantage to high level crafting is if you want some of the Legendary items, some craft professions make some of the items needed for those.

    Jewelcrafting does make some money through the early and mid levels, though. At least, it did a month or so ago when I was working on it. I’m sure the ascended trinkets from the laurel merchants has made the crafted stuff less in demand.

    The other advantage of crafting is that you can get some adventuring xp from it. Someone commented to me that you could get about 10 levels at the lower end by working up Chef, for example.


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