WubWub Pink Power: WvWvW Mesmer Guide Part 2

Hide and Sneaky

Not everything in WvWvW needs to be a part of the “zerg”. An important part to taking another server’s keep or tower is denying supply lines to that area, choking off their ability to build defenses and repair damage. For this purpose, you may find yourself in a small squad of four or five players on a mission to interrupt reinforcements and supply.

Good Friends To Have

While I recommend playing with your friends regardless of their class, I do understand some people might be looking to assemble a specialized squad. If you’re a Mesmer then what classes might you be looking to bring?

The two-headed gank monster of WvWvW is the Mesmer and Thief. The main reasons for this being burst, deception, stealth and get-away speed. In regard to speed, the Mesmer itself is not as fast as either an Elementalist or Thief, but they can use portal to bypass this disadvantage of theirs. Portal can also help you and your squad escape a bad situation.

The Thief and Mesmer can trade-off stealths to increase their survival time, but need to focus targets together. The Thief’s burst is some of the highest in the game, but glass cannons don’t tend to live long. The Mesmer can survive longer, but takes much longer to kill a single target. If focused and adaptive, the Mesmer/Thief duo can cause havoc even while outnumbered. I have torn through 2-1 and 3-1 odds with some of the better thiefs on Stormbluff Isle.

When I assemble a friendly squad, I do not worry too much about classes, but I have found the Engineer, Elementalist and Guardian to be great assets to go along with skirmishing style of the Mesmer. These classes bring area heals and instant rezzes, but also great control and buffs.

Hit N Run

Hit and run is the typical small squad playstyle. Your primary targets will be supply yaks and snagging lone stragglers between points. I would say it’s not always a good idea to attack strays if it would give away your position. An example of this is if your group is doing a run of continuous supply camp capping in a borderland. The commanders on the other servers will be watching what’s getting hit and if they see crossed swords and people calling out your position between targets, chances are you’ll run into a larger force sent to wipe your squad out.

This makes learning the layout of the map important to a gank squad. There are often more than one way to enter a camp and taking the quietest route is often best. Your movement is also important to the rest of your server-mates and their movements are important to you.

Was that a DUH statement? Yes, a bit, but it can alter which route you take into an objective. If you know the larger group of allies will be running towards your position then you can plan for that by leading straggling into the larger group or leading foes away from the group. If the large group is coming in the bckdoor to a supply camp then you can trap any fleeing defenders by going in the front door. For these reasons, it’s always good to take a quick look at map talk and ally movement on the map before heading off to your next target.

We Dine On Yak Tonight

Supply Yaks are an important target that even a solo player can take down. As a Mesmer, it’s best to bring a build that has burst and snares to slow the Yak down. Generally, I like to solo Yaks when they are directly beyond the reach of supply camp guards or along an otherwise empty area between supply drops.

For Yak Slapping, I tend to always equip Portal for one of my utilities, along with Mass Invis as my elite. The key to these hits are stealth and escape, so taking these sort of hit-n-run skills is vital. You can often find a safe, hidden spot near a Yak’s route to drop your Portal Entre before going into hit the yak. Any large rocks that hide you from the road or areas hidden below cliffs are great Portal retreat areas. If you find yourself suddenly joined by three or four enemy players you can drop a Portal to quickly escape, wait a second to heal and then Portal back to finish off the Yak. Since the enemy players won’t see the other Portal you went to from their position on the road, the misdirection will allow you to hop back into battle with a second or two to spare before they recognize where you are.

Skirmishing Stragglers

Fighting stragglers solo or with a pair involves the Encounter Rules shown in the previous guide. What I would add to this is that doing this solo or in a pair needs a lot more attention directed towards counting and recounting your number of foes. Just as its easy for you to sneak into battle via teleports or stealth, it’s easy for your foes to jump on you while you’re engaged in what was previously an even numbers fight. As you get better at WvWvW, you will die less and less often from losing open duels and more from not paying attention to your odds.

As a Solo Player…

As a solo player in WvWvW, I like to flow in and out of zerg combat and into small squads or solo mischief. (This was a lot easier to do with the Phantasm build before the engage time on Phantasms was reset to molasses-slow in the last fix.) When and where I make these hops depends on the battle and map, but also the strengths of your server. If you’ve been trying to siege a Keep for your server and been getting nowhere, it may help your allies more to split off and pick off yaks and player reinforcements.

Sorrow’s Embrace: A Quick Look

The Dredge Alert

The Dredge Alert!

Welcome to Mole Talk!

Yes, I am honoring the emblem of my blog with some more Dredge discussion. This first piece is on the story mode of Sorrow’s Embrace. I have more to say on the explorable mode and the stories within, as well as more of the visuals associated with the Dredge in game. (My Mesmer is sporting a transmuted Dredge Blaster currently.)

So, let’s get to it by discussing one of the longest dungeons in game.

Leave My Dredge Alone!

The plot of the Sorrow’s Embrace dungeon can be roughly summed up as the Inquest are involved, and the Dredge are being used as their workforce.

Yes, the Moletariat prevailed right into another subjugation. Like you did with Molenin before, you will be facing armies of Dredge as they toil away underground for someone else’s grand scheme. Due to the Inquest presence, you will also be facing Golems and Asuran technology, and as well, the strange Dredge technology, and, finally, a monstrous hybrid between the two.

Remember the Past

One of the more captivating set pieces of Sorrow’s Embrace is Molenin’s Tomb. Yup, that’s a lore reference. Molenin’s tomb is the sight of a Dredge Public Assembly. The tomb itself is a colliseum of sorts, and large groups of Dredge stand in formation at the bottom of the tomb as a military leader shouts out a speech from a high ledge. In story mode, you don’t fight the military leader, but he seems like a prime tool for explorable mode plotlines.

See No Evil, Hear My Sonic Death Ray

The Dredge mobs of Sorrow’s Embrace are range heavy and feature the use of sonic rifles that shoot ground rumbling, directional projectiles. There are touches of the Dredge’s mechanical tech here and there, but many can also be found outside the dungeon in Dredgehaunt Cliffs.

Subtarrean drill-cars often sigbal the arrival of a new pack of Dredge. These vehicles drill up and out of the ground, and the Dredge forces pop out the back. The dredge themselves also have the ability to tunnel underground (much like Wurm mobs) to travel from one point to the next.

Another interesting note about the Dredge mobs is that since they are mole people, they are naturally blind and effectively immune to the blind condition. This provides a nice change of strategy for typical dungeon setups that may rely heavily on blinds to mitigate damage in other dungeons.

Bosses of an Epic Nature

The Sorrow’s Embrace dungeon features some of the most tiresome boss fights, but also some of the coolest fights, and coolest bosses. The Story Mode contains one of each. The next to last boss is actually interesting  in design, with three different phases, but suffers from too high health pools on its various meta-bosses. The encouter became too tediously long a fight at the time of my running the dungeon. It’s beatable, but really extends the encounter time of an otherwise smooth flowing dungeon. I hear they have done some work to tone down the health bars of the bosses you fight in this encounter in the past few weeks and that should help turn the fight from work to play.

The last boss is a treat. I won’t spoil what it is, but it’s likely that many people have seen this boss before entering the dungeon. It’s featured in one of the game’s early trailers, and the fight itself confused me at first, but then quickly made sense. I suggest to not stand on the bridge looking at the boss unless you like death rays to your face.

Next Up

Explorable Mode and Dredge Art design!

Investigating the Dredge

The Dredge Alert

The Dredge Report!

The Moletariats

The theme of this blog is inspired by the Dredge race within the Guild Wars universe. Originally, the Dredge were mostly found in dungeons of the world. They are a mole-like people who are enslaved for their tunneling techniques, forced to dig away and mine for dwarf taskmasters. Over the course of the first Guild Wars, this race goes through some changes and growth. By the time you find them in Guild Wars 2, they are their own people and still mining away. They are not friendly folk and some early quests involve fighting them within the mines.

No Allegiance Owed

The offspring of a few desperate escapees from the Shiverpeaks who tunneled for hundreds of miles to reach their strange new home, these Dredge have no reason to feel any friendship toward humans or anyone else—they escaped slavery on their own, and plan to establish their race anew in the petrified woodlands.

-Guild Wars wiki

Molenin

The friendly hero Molenin

The interesting part about the Dredge up-rise is how transient the player races are to the forming of the new Dredge society. In the Eye of the North expansion, there is a friendly Dredge named Molenin who stands guard outside the entrance to Vloxen Excavations. You can go inside the Vloxen dungeon and fight the Stone Summit Dwarfs, setting some of the Dredge free, but the game does not take these small parts as important to the collective liberation of its molemen. Some of the Dredge you set free run off, while others seem to wander aimlessly around.

There are few places to find the Dredge in the first Guild Wars if one was to out Dredge hunting. The previously mentioned Vloxen’s Excavations features enslaved Dredge folk, as does the Stone Summit run Sorrow’s Furnace. These are the typical Dredge slaves and you can find friendly versions in the mines of these areas. Over in Cantha, within the Echovald Forest, lives the freed society of Dredge. These Dredge are not friendly and are given workmanlike names for the different enemy class types. For example, a hostile Dredge monk is a Dredge Gardener and a hostile Dredge Ranger is called a Dredge Gatherer. Within the Echovald Forest, the Dredge live near dirt mounds that are likely the signs of their tunneling skills.

The Canthan Dredge have their own leaders in various Boss NPCs found in the explorable areas. In these forest areas, I have run across a couple of the named Dredge bosses called Tarlok Evermind and Wagg Spiritspeak.  It is tough to say whether there was an established naming convention for the Dredge yet or if their names are just a product of their specified class. Looking at the names Molenin, Tarlok and Wagg you have a mix of mole reference names, guttural sounds and warrior-society sounding first names.  On the other hand, Ferndale features a Dredge boss named Maximole, so the naming convention again returns to the mole puns.

Vloxen

Some Dredge will fight with you to free themselves.

Names aside, it’s pretty clear that the Dredge are a race that is on their own path in the Guild Wars universe. Even the Tengu seem closer to the sort of race you may find hanging out in Lion’s Arch as a friendly visitor than you would the Dredge.

A Return to Sorrow

The dredge are an intelligent mole-like race found in the Shiverpeak Mountains. They view themselves as the true heirs of the dwarves and are involved in an ongoing conflict with the norn over territory.

-Guild Wars 2 wiki

Dresge Tower Sketches

Dredge Architecture

Vloxen Lock

A gearwork lock in Vloxen’s Excavation

Interestingly enough, the Dredge of Guild Wars 2 come to inhabit and basically take over the old evil dwarf stomping grounds. It is thought that Sorrow’s Furnace is now the Dredge capital city. If so, this brings in some interesting possibilities. Mostly, I’m curious to see if Sorrow’s Furnace will return as a neutral city or as a hostile area. The early dynamic event involving a fight against the Dredge are found in the Norn area of the map. Here, you run into a mine and try to push the Dredge out. It’s a simple war for resources as your reasoning and vidya-gaming impetus, but it’s also interesting to see within the event that the Dredge have begun constructing objects of more interest than dirt mounds. While the complexities of the Dredge’s handicraft have been found mostly within their tunnels, the dynamic event involves a boss on a wooden platform and desparate attempt to keep the Dredge from rebuilding a tower.

ArenaNet has released some artwork of sketches of Dredge towers and buildings. There are similarities to be found between the Dredge constructions and those found in Sorrow’s Furnace and Vloxen’s Excavation. The heir of Dwarves may mean that the Dredge adopted the Stone Summit construction techniques seeing as they fit their spelunking lifestyle and new homes.What has happened with the Canthan Dredge we probably will not learn of until the first Guild Wars 2 Expansion.

Possibilities

The Dredge’s Moletariat society offers a lot of possibilities for future use in Guild Wars 2. They could become a neutral race that the player can befriend. Their home of Sorrow’s Furnace could become a major battle area or a dungeon. Their fight with the Norn could escalate at higher levels or perhaps you can negotiate a settlement between the Norn and Dredge at some point. It may be obvious, but I am hoping for some friendly Dredge to be found within Guild Wars 2. I have a hard time killing former slaves just to get to some iron ore.

Long live the Moletariat! (Until one of those Dredge tower workers try to stab me with an axepick.)

Guild Wars 2 Open Beta Impressions

A Dredge Mole

Guild Wars Beta Impressions

Well..

Well I am admittedly hooked on ArenaNet’s yet to be released MMO-crack. At least I am familiar enough with this dealer to have some confidence they will not drive me into the poor house. Oh wait, I am in the poor house. Still, that cash shop doesn’t allure me. Except for the pirate costume. Did anyone check that out? I’m building canons and firing canons; a pirate’s life for me.

The beta itself actually opened up an hour early. I woke up to check to see if there were any new updates to download before the beta went live and suddenly found myself at the server selection screen. As I had planned to do, I created a Human Mesmer and cycled through the appearance options until I had created the bearded man that I am. I would have liked a couple more beard options, maybe one a little less Oregonian hiker looking, for later my beard choice and my class choice would turn me into a bit of a scary clown.

I went with a commoner background and the regret of not recovering my sister’s body for my character background choices, along with Lyssa as my patron god. My girlfriend went with the street rat option and the missing parents, and our third adventurer friend went with being a noble. This allowed me to see what variation exists from your choices in the story quests later on. After finalizing my choices and choosing my name, the game breaks into a painted storyboard cinematic. Images swoop across the screen, providing dramatic movement to what are essentially art stills. Your character voices the introductory narrative of their story and finally appears at the end against a dramatic backdrop. This intro is a well done and gets you pumped to play, which is why it is disappointing that the later story segments lose the dramatic movements for a static art still behind two characters making simple gestures as they chatter. Having played SWTOR, I am familiar with Bioware’s approach to story presentation and I actually did not feel it fit the MMO genre. People do not want to wade through multiple dialogue segments to accept a kill-ten-rats quest. The storytelling in that case became intrusive to the flow of the game, but Guild Wars 2’s story segments don’t fully convey the emotions of the situation due to the lack of dramatics in the talking head moments. While not a huge concern for me, the story segments are marked as works in progress and I would suggest that ANet tries to use some more dramatic angles and art piece movements in their personal story exchanges. For example, if my story conversation begins after I just ended a bar fight in my friend’s bar, it would be interesting to see my character sitting in front of an art piece depicting the injured bartender or a disarray of broken bottles, then swooping up to show the character with whom I am about to exchange words.

A swordsman and his beard

But let’s get to the real good stuff: the events system.

Ironchef Zebes talks out the Centaur Battle

Story segments play out against an artistic backdrop.

After the instanced introduction fight, you arrive to the Human starter area named Queensdale. Here, the game opens up and a scout marks out people in the area who need help. Most, like myself, go straight to the cow and corn farm. Here I began feeding cows and watering plants, letting the rest fight the worms sprouting up in the cow pen. Suddenly, a giant queen worm appears and I drop my bucket of water for my sword and focus. By this time I had learned two sword skills and working on the worms had brought out the third skill that creates a clone. The sword and the staff were two Mesmer weapon options that didn’t interest me before the beta, but became my favorites after the beta. I feel each served their purpose well, with the sword allowing good melee damage and control. The staff provided great group support and defense, which worked very well in the giant zerg that was the opening moments of beta.

Speaking of that zerg, the one at the farm finished off the queen worm pretty easily. It was at this point that most of us had filled our renown bar for the farmer and were ready to move on. I chose to take the path down the road to a Moa ranch. Other players split off towards the river or up the hill. At the Moa ranch, one of the farmers himself ran up to me and asked for help with some bandits. I began checking bushes for his Moa birds, but most were hiding bandits. Twice, I was doubled by hidden bandits and on the second encounter, the two bandits eventually took me down. It was at this point that a helpful ranger player showed up and helped me finish off the bandits from downed state. When I got back up, I saw a couple of players heading into a cave and followed them in.

Inside the cave, I discover the bandit hideout and a pen where those bad dudes and ladies have been rustling up some moa birds. With the few accompanying me, I take down some bandits and begin destroying their supplies. I attempt to jump into the moa bird pen, but get jumped by five bandits. They make short work of me and I have to respawn back at the first farm. By the time I get back to cavern, there’s a larger group and they’ve set the moa birds free. I get credit for this due to being the sacrificial lamb. Guild Wars 2 is a game that is punishing in that it will knock you to the floor, but rewarding in that it gives you credit for trying your hand at a challenge.

Meanwhile, I’ve found myself in the middle of another small zerg heading through the bandit cavern. We exit through the initial area and find ourselves in another section of the cave filled with bats. After the bats, we find a path up the rocks that leads to a spiraling bridge. As we ascend the bridge, bandits attack us and fire some explosives. Eventually we make it to the top where a bandit lieutenant awaits us. Again, I die at first until I find my sweet spot behind the boss. I may be a Mesmer, which is a magical trickster, but with just a sword in hand, I play more like a street magician thief.

After some time and teamwork, we take the big man down and one of his bodyguards cowers in fear, offering up some goods for sale in exchange for putting the beat-down on his commander. We all get some nice loot off the boss and I exchange a bow to someone for a staff. As you may be able to tell, the Guild Wars 2 experience is friendly and cooperative. I never found myself getting in the way of others or found other players as an obstacle towards my goal.

At this point, I’ve grouped up with this crew and joined their guild. We make our way back out of the bandit cave and towards a nearby orchard. The orchard owner is asking folks to get rid of the spiders and bats pestering her apple trees. We begin on this task, but our mighty size spawns a second event and spiders begin swarming in around us. I have switched to staff and begun learning my staff skills which prove helpful when positioned in the middle of the technicolor furnace of Guild Wars 2 combat. Yet, in the middle of this fight, that Moa rancher comes running for me again because those bandits we whooped got pissed and are attacking his home in waves. Our group splits for a few, with myself and some others taking out the bandit waves.

Attacking spiders in the apple orchard

Time for a caster to act like a caster.

Arachnapwnia and other mind wracking puns

With my return to the apple orchard, the event scales up again and soon a giant spider queen spawns. Did I just mention the technicolor furnace? Well now that color show is on full blast. I’ve also learned all five of my staff skills by now and unleash a giant chaos storm on top of our good friend Fat Charlotte the angry apple munching spider.

The spider goes down and I’ve just completed three events in a short span of time. I’ve jumped from level 2 once I got to Queensdale to level 5. Again, the group begins to splinter towards different destinations and I go exploring. I find a river dam under attack by harpies. I try plugging holes and fighting off the earth elementals and harpies, but harpies don’t roam around without friends. They are also a couple levels higher than I am, so I wander back down to the river to take care of some crab cages for a fisherman. I decide that this whole crabbing thing isn’t the life for a Mesmer and wander off towards a downed player on my map. Once I arrive to the downed player and help him back up, I realize I’m at the first farm again and bandits have begun attacking and setting the hay on fire. Yes, we’ve really pissed these guys off. All we do is keep killing them, so I guess they have a right to be angry. Everyone has a right to be angry or at least that’s why my crazy ex-roommate told me. Of course, if you keep attacking farms then I’m going to keep having to beat your behind. It’s nothing but a vicious cycle.

Erstwhile at Old McDonalds!

Players are grabbing buckets of water to douse the flames and I’m fighting the bandit waves, feeling confident with my new found levels and weapons. Unfortunately, fire still burns you and I get dropped hard by five bandits and their ring of fire. Burn, burn, burn and event scaled higher.

We still defending the farm, so I had yet to see an event fail. I wander back down to the river and realize a giant drake has appeared to defend its eggs. I am not sure if this drake was overscaled or if the mob fighting him just wasn’t as good, but the drake boss took longer to take down than any other boss. I then proceeded back towards the dam and used the drake zerg group to finish off those harpies. After this, I returned to the farm to spend some of the karma I’ve earned for doing all these helpful slaughterings. I notice that the sprinklers in the background have begun shooting out poison. When I was last here, the sprinklers were water a farm and a few worms were strolling about. Now the farm was being poisoned. This was my first time encountering the consequences of a failed event and didn’t feel like dealing with the consequences. It was about time to head back to the city and start the next segment of my personal story. I only mention this to mention that the little township outside the city had a well and it was a poisoned well. A couple villagers tried drinking the water and got sick, and the NPC by them advises me to talk to someone about fixing the situation. So even though I was trying to avoid the issue, the ramifications of the failed event had spread across the bridge and to the foot of the city.

And the city? Daunting.

Yet, city talk is another entry to be had. I would call this my first run with the game for it was around this point I took a little break. Was it fun? Yes. Was it different? Yes. Did it all make sense at first? No, but yes. People began rezzing each other right off the bat. Groups of zergs formed naturally and the map truly became player versus environment. You couldn’t just ignore the quests in the area because the “quests” came at you. The combat worked and was an active element. Everyone moved and learned to dodge or die. Putting up a Chaos Storm, people leaped into it and gave themselves a Chaos shield by the combo interaction. My Winds of Chaos bounced off of enemies and on to other players whether they were in my group or not, buffing them with random boons. The general interaction with the world lead you places and the world itself was vast.

And in the end? The Molerariat shall prevail.