Get Ready for Revenants!

As all of the Heart of Thorns pre-purchasers sit on the edges of their seats waiting for the first real beta weekend to be announced, ArenaNet has decided to give us all a little snack to tide us over in the form of a special weekend just to beta test the new Revenant profession!  Starting this Friday at 3:00 PM Eastern, and lasting until 3:00 PM Eastern on Monday afternoon, players will be able to roll up a new Revenant – presumably using the beta character slot that we were all given when we made the pre-purchase.

So far, ArenaNet has provided us with an explanation of the Revenant mechanics, and outlined three of the eventual five core specializations that will furnish the Revenant with the legends that form the basis of its class features.  We know about Mallyx, Jalis, and Ventari at this point, but it must be remembered that ArenaNet has currently said nothing about this new Revenant beta weekend providing us with any further details into the other two core specializations and their legends.  In fact, the news article over on the main site makes a point to mention that we will get to play with the “newly announced” Ventari and staff weapon, so chances of anything new coming out during the test seem very slim.

Still, the prospects of getting to run the Revenant – even a much-limited form of the final Revenant – through its paces in PvE, WvW, and sPvP (including the new Stronghold game mode!) are pretty exciting.  I, for one, can’t wait to go straight to sPvP and start playing with the full trait bars.  Then I’m sure I’ll get my butt handed to me over and over again in Stronghold.  That will be so fun, however, that the losses won’t bother me a bit!

How do you plan to spend your preview time with the Revenant?  Fancy leveling one up in the core game, or would you rather try one out in the Eternal Battlegrounds?  Let us know in the comments below!

Build: Fire Tank Guardian

Way before the June 23rd patch dropped and Condition Damage became a big deal, I loved the idea of a Guardian being all about fire damage and defense.  It didn’t hurt that ‘Dire’ exotic armor was much cheaper than ‘Berserker’ varieties, but even before I looked at the Trading Post prices, I wanted my little Guardian to be specced out for Condition Damage, Toughness, and Vitality.  The gist of my original build was to make my little guy as indestructible as I could, all the while boosting his burning damage and the frequency that it was applied.

Prior to the patch, little Fizlip was unexpectedly efficient in sPvP, more often than not taking honors for top player of the round, and very rarely ever getting downed or killed.  Most of that had to do with a couple of crafty combos, executed lightning-fast with the help of a Razer Naga gaming mouse, but it seemed like the idea of a burning tank Guardian was at least a little viable.

After the patch, practically every single bit of this build is better.  I didn’t have to tweak very much to get Fizlip (my Asura Guardian) into fighting shape, but the traits that I did change just seemed to solidify the build even more.  I was also surprised to find that I somehow had about 20% more health than I did previously, a fact that was sure to increase my survivability.  And the results have been spectacular!  In some sPvP matches, Fizlip has so owned the game that the other team just runs away at the sight of him.

So without further adieu, here is the build for the Fire Tank Guardian.

Fire Tank Build


Specializations

The three main specializations lines are Radiance, Virtues, and Zeal.  And although the choices are now graphical in the interface, and easy to see in a screenshot like this, I’ll still copy all of the trait effects below so that you can see just how nasty this build is.

Radiance

Justice Is Blind – When activating Virtue of Justice, nearby foes are blinded.

Inner Fire – Gain fury when you strike a foe that has burning stacks over threshold.

Renewed Justice – Virtue of Justice is renewed when you kill a foe.

Radiant Fire – Gain zealot’s flame when you critically hit an enemy. Burning duration is increased. Torch abilities recharge faster.

Radiant Power – Deal more damage to foes inflicted with conditions.

Amplified Wrath – Burning damage is increased. Burn enemies whose attacks you successfully block.

Virtues

Inspired Virtue – Virtues now also apply the following boons to allies when activated: Justice: might, Resolve: regeneration, Courage: protection

Retaliatory Subconscious – Gain retaliation and aegis when stunned, dazed, knocked back, pulled, knocked down, sunk, floated, launched, taunted or inflicted with fear.

Virtue of Retribution – Gain retaliation when you activate a virtue. Retaliation you apply lasts longer.

Supreme Justice – Virtue of Justice causes burning more frequently. When activating Virtue of Justice, the burn duration is increased.

Power of the Virtuous – Deal extra damage for each boon you have. Virtues recharge faster.

Permeating Wrath – Virtue of Justice’s passive effect no longer burns your target, but also burns the area around your target each time it activates.

Zeal

Zealot’s Speed – Create a Symbol of Wrath when you are struck while below the health threshold.

Fiery Wrath – Increases damage against burning foes.

Symbolic Exposure – Symbols apply vulnerability to foes.

Zealous Blade – Attacks with your greatsword deal extra damage and heal you. Greatsword abilities have reduced recharge.

Symbolic Power – Symbols have increased damage and a chance to burn enemies.

Shattered Aegis – When an aegis you applied blocks an attack, it damages nearby foes.


Equipment

Weapons

Scepter – Dire with Superior Sigil of Corruption (Gain a charge of +10 condition damage each time you kill a foe, five if you kill an enemy player. (Max 25 stacks; ends on down.))

Focus – Dire with Superior Sigil of Smoldering (Increase Inflicted Burning Duration: 20%)

Greatsword – Dire with Superior Sigil of Fire (50% Chance on Critical: Trigger a Flame Blast for area of effect damage (240 radius). (Cooldown: 5 Seconds)) and Superior Sigil of Intelligence (Your next three attack after swapping to this weapon while in combat have a 100% critical chance. (Cooldown: 9 Seconds))

Armor

All armor is Dire (+Condition Damage, +Toughness, and +Vitality) and all six pieces have Superior Rune of Balthazar.  In total, these runes give +175 Condition Damage, +45% Burning Duration, and grant two special abilities: gain quickness for 5 seconds when struck below 20% health, and apply burning to foes when using healing skills.

Jewelery

All jewelry (and back item) is specced to give Condition Damage, Toughness, and Vitality.


Utility Skills

6 – Signet of Resolve – Passive: Cures a condition from yourself every few seconds. Active: Heal yourself.

7 – “Retreat” – Grant aegis and swiftness to up to five nearby allies.

8 (PvE) – “Stand Your Ground” – Grant stability to yourself and allies.

8 (PvP) – Contemplation of Purity – Convert the conditions you are suffering from into boons.

9 – Judge’s Intervention – Teleport to your target and burn nearby foes.

0 (PvE) – Signet of Courage – Passive: Periodically heal allies in the area around you while in combat. Active: Fully heal nearby allies.

0 (PvP) – Renewed Focus – Focus, making yourself invulnerable and recharging your virtues.


Strategy

The Fire Tank Guardian is a very versatile build, and many of the skill choices are situational for dealing with various challenges either in PvE or PvP.  Contemplation of Purity and Judge’s Intervention are both Stun Breaks, so you have two different ways to get out of a tight situation, but priority should be given to Contemplation of Purity, as Judge’s Intervention is required for the ‘Big Combo’.

Remember your Virtues!  Guardians have a lot of interesting things that they can do with these three little abilities, but specced as above, they become even more powerful.  Especially good to remember is that Virtue of Justice also now blinds nearby foes, giving an additional way to accomplish this besides Greatsword 3 and Focus 4.  Also, remember that any time an Aegis blocks an attack, nearby foes are damaged.  Keep this in mind as you are in the thick of a fight.  Virtue of Courage applies an Aegis, so throw one one while you’re taking a beating to layer on Protection, block an attack, and blast people in the area.

The default load-out for the Fire Tank Guardian should be Scepter/Focus.  Always seek to get back into this mode after a fight.  When approaching an enemy to engage, be sure to fire several shots from the scepter at range to tear down any situational defenses your opponent may have (like their own Aegis).  At this point, you can also try to root them with Scepter 3, and then throw down a Smite on their location with Scepter 2.  This will delay melee engagement by a couple of more seconds, giving you that extra time to work down their defenses.  Then, just before entering into the next part, you can choose to use Focus 4 to add Blind, but this is a judgment call, as there is a slight casting time to it that may throw off the combo if things are moving too fast.

When you are ready to blast in for the kill (what I call the ‘Big Combo’), you should use Focus 5 to put an exploding shield on yourself, and then follow that with a very quick sequence of abilities.  Switch to Greatsword (this activates the Superior Sigil of Intelligence) and activate Judge’s Intervention to warp to your target (causing three stacks of Burning to the area).  Then throw down a Symbol of Wrath with Greatsword 4 and immediately activate Greatsword 2 (your Superior Sigil of Fire should cause another Flame Blast due to the 3 guaranteed crits).  This is a Combo Finisher: Whirl on top of a Light Field, so you’ll get some Cleansing Bolts, and then just as the spin is finishing (but before the Light Field goes away), activate Greatsword 3 to Leap and Blind foes (activating a Light Aura from the Combo).

As all of this is happening, you can activate your Virtue of Justice and Virtue of Courage to add more Burning, more Blind, and more area damage as your opponent shatters the Aegis from your Virtue of Courage.  You can even use “Retreat” to add one more Aegis if the first goes down quickly.  If the opponent isn’t dead after this explosion of fire and justice goes off, then you may need to call them back to the fight with Greatsword 5 (remember to push a second time to yank them back).

If your opponent is really skilled and the above does not burn them to ash, then you may need to cleanse any conditions you may have picked up (with Contemplation of Purity), heal (which applies Burning, remember?) and distance yourself a little.  Try to get back to scepter when you can to expand your options.  Since this build doesn’t have a lot (read: any) of additional Power, then there’s not a whole lot of point to standing close and beating on people with your Greatsword if you didn’t drop them with the Big Combo.  In fact, you’re probably going to want to “Retreat” and regroup for another pass.

Hopefully this guide will provide you a good starting place for how to spin up your own Fire Tank Guardian.  If you think you have even better ideas for the build (without changing the basic idea), then I would love to hear them in the comments.

Good luck out there!


The Claw of Jormag

Technically, there are multiple Claws of Jormag.  They are the lieutenants of the Elder Dragon Jormag who chased the Norn and the Kodan south from their homes in the extreme north of the Shiverpeaks.  And while their master might be more akin to a living blizzard than anything else, his Claws are just super-colossal dragons made out of ice.  These Claws and the Kodan are locked in a titanic struggle up in Frostgorge Sound, but as a hero of Tyria, YOU (and a hundred of your closest friends) will have an opportunity to put down one of these massive beasties.

The fight with the Claw of Jormag takes place in the Frostwalk Tundra, just to the east of one of the best named areas in the game – the Slough of Despond, named after the place where Christian gets bogged down in despair and guilt while on his journey to the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan.  In the map below, you can see the two main areas where the dragon lands to fight.

Frostwalk Tundra

This battle takes place in two phases.  For the first phase, the Claw will summon a huge ice wall.  When players destroy the wall, the Claw will be stunned for about 15 seconds, providing everyone an opportunity to attack it relatively safely.  This pattern will happen over and over again throughout the fight, so be sure not to waste time – or your life – by going gung-ho against the dragon whenever he is out of stun.  Just focus on the other objectives.  You’ll get plenty of opportunities to whoop up on him as you go.  There are Charrzookas available in barrels on the outskirts of the fight, but you can only use them during the first phase (after that, the buckets just give out flamethrowers, even though they still say ‘Charrzooka’), so be sure to use them while you can.

Once the Claw of Jormag is reduced to only half his health remaining, the second phase of the event will begin.  During this time, the Pact shows up and starts sending golems with bombs to assault the dragon.  Each time one of these golems makes it to the Claw with a bomb, he will be stunned in much the same way as before, and this is when you need to pile on your damage.  Be sure to tear down all of the Ice Pillars as the golems march to their target.  Otherwise, they won’t make it.  And just as with any big event, try to revive everyone that goes down, because you’re sure going to want others to help you when you invariably hit the dirt.

Achievement Unlocked!

To obtain the Crash Landing achievement during the fight with the Claw of Jormag, you actually have to die!  At the end of the first phase of the event – when the Claw reaches 50% health – the Pact fleet shows up and shoots the dragon down.  At that exact moment, you need to be standing at the place where the dragon’s body crashes to the ground.  You will be horribly crushed, but you will have 10 achievement points to console you!  In the map above, the right spot is at the precise center of the circle around the blue area on the right side.  If you merely go into the downed state, then you didn’t get it.  You should be outright defeated if you did it correctly.

Good luck out there, and dress warmly!

So You Want to Costume Brawl?

Costume Brawl was added to GuildWars 2 during the Shadow of the Mad King release that happened over Halloween in 2012. It is a gloriously unbalanced way to do some lighthearted player vs. player fighting, but you don’t have to wait until the Mad King returns to don a costume and start knocking out your friends!  Thanks to the magic of tonics and toys, you can have a good old ridiculous throw-down anytime and practically anywhere!  Let us show you how to get started.

Tonics

As of the time of this writing, the cheapest way to have unlimited access to the wonderful world of Costume Brawling is to buy an Endless Mordrem Terragriff Tonic from the Trading Post for 11 silver and 71 copper.  This will give you a rather powerful form to change into with two very good Costume Brawl skills for immediate pwnage of your poor opponents (it also looks VERY cool)!

To browse other endless tonics out there, I’ve found that the best strategy is to search for “endless” in the Trading Post, and then to sort by price.  Let me warn you, though, that the Endless Arid Devourer Tonic (which is currently the cheapest endless tonic available) does not have any Costume Brawl skills, and therefore should be avoided.

In my opinion, the two absolute best tonics for Brawling are the Endless Toymaker’s Tonic and the Endless Halloween Tonic.  These are a little more pricey than some of the Mordrem ones, but they pay for themselves many times over by actually allowing you to change into multiple forms each.

40px-Endless_Toymaker's_Tonic

The Endless Toymaker’s Tonic gives you six different random transformations (just keep clicking to get the one you want): Toy Ventari, Princess Doll, Toy Soldier, Plush Griffon, Toy Golem, and Festive Dolyak.  My two favorites here are the Plush Griffon (for maximum cuteness, and similar abilities to the aforementioned Terragriff), and the Toy Golem.  Toy Ventari and the Festive Dolyak are going to get you killed – a lot.  They are just not good.  You have been warned.

40px-Halloween_Tonic

The Endless Halloween Tonic is my favorite.  It only has four random transformations – Plastic Spider, Candy Corn Elemental, Mummy, and Glow-in-the-Dark Skeleton – but there is some SERIOUS power here!  None of the forms are particularly bad, but the Mummy and the Glowing Skeleton are downright cheat-nasty broken when it comes to laying waste to those people who previously called you ‘friend’.  The Mummy is especially devious, as you can move and auto-attack so fast that practically no one can get lined up on you to fight back.  If you need to get some achievement for winning Costume Brawl, just go straight to Mummy and watch everyone else cry until they all go home.

Toys

There are several different toys that give access to Costume Brawl skills.  In the Black Lion Gem Store, you will be able to find the Cook’s Outfit and the Pirate Captain’s Outfit, which both give access to a toy that grants Brawling skills.  There is also a super-fun Water Fight Balloon Bucket for sale that gives you all kinds of water balloons and Super Soaker-esque water guns to play Costume Brawl with.

During the Halloween event, there are usually other Outfits for sale in the gem store that grant an impressive array of Brawl skills.  The Enchanted Broom that comes with the Witch’s Outfit (not to be confused with the ‘Riding Broom’ for sale in the Black Lion Gem Store) is one of the best of such things, because it has a skill that spawns a cauldron that lets anyone drink to take on a random Costume Brawl form.  If you love the idea of Costume Brawl, and have money for only one Halloween costume this year, make it the Witch’s Outfit.


What about you?  Have you discovered any particularly nasty Costumes for the Brawl that just can’t be stopped?  Have you found a way to beat the Mummy?  If so, drop us a line and your story in the comments below!  We’d love to hear from you!

Lion’s Arch Karka Hunt!

One of the really fun new things that has been given to us along with the fantastic rebuilding of Lion’s Arch is a brand new scavenger hunt-like achievement that will have you out blasting poor, defenseless little karka babies throughout the city.  In fact, there’s really no better way to get to know all of the nooks and crannies of the renewed city than to explore it with a rifle in hand, searching for the tell-tale sounds of those little proto-horrors!

And something that you should know about this particular scavenger hunt is that ArenaNet has really done the players a favor by giving us a way to track every single crab that we have killed, and – even more importantly – those that we haven’t yet killed.  On top of that, there is a little clue given to the location of each crab so that you can go hunting for it really without the need for an online guide.  Just pin the achievement to your tracker so that you have easy access to it as you hunt around town.

Well, it’s almost true that you don’t need a guide.  There are a couple of sticking places that will certainly tempt you to go look up the walkthrough.  So, to save you from yourselves, I’ve provided a set of helpful nudges below for the ones that I found especially head-scratching.

  1. Grand Piazza – The hard thing about this clue is that it is in the wrong place.  It should say “Commodore’s Quarter” instead.
  2. Eastern Ward – Three of the karka in this area are locked behind a door that only opens at night.
  3. Commodore’s Quarters – If you think you’ve found the “flowers above the door” then you probably have.  Shooting this one correctly feels like a cheat somehow.  Just keep at it.
  4. Sanctum Harbor – Looking for some fog?  You should probably save this one for last, and then go look at a walkthrough.  That way you only used it for one of them.  Seriously, it’s hard.  Still want a hint?  Look for secret caves right at the waterline up against a white wall.

Good luck with the hunt!  Princess gives some nice gifts!

The Beauty of the New Lion’s Arch

By now I’m sure just about everyone has had a chance to explore the amazingly rebuilt Lion’s Arch.  There are so many wonderful things to see and do there, but one of my favorite things so far has been just to walk around and take pictures.  I’ve turned several of these into wallpapers configured for 16:9 screens which you can find below.  Enjoy!

Lions Arch Wallpaper 3

Lions Arch Wallpaper 4

Lions Arch Wallpaper 5

Lions Arch Wallpaper 2

Lions Arch Wallpaper 1

Lions Arch Wallpaper 6

Burnin’ Down the House!

Now that the June 23rd update to the traits, conditions, and professions of the game has gone live, little old Fizlip feels like he has just received a load of birthday, Christmas, and Hanukkah gifts all at once!

Never one to play the meta, my little level 80 Asuran Guardian would have been laughed out of most discussions of competitive viability.  I always wanted him to be a tank that set fire to everything around him, so I specced him that way.  All his gear has always been of the ‘Dire’ variety (Toughness, Vitality, and Condition Damage), and all of his runes and sigils and whatnot boost condition damage and burning duration.  This was considered a stupid move by most in the past, as It seemed that the maximum amount of burning damage that I could realistically apply was around 650 per second or so.  And since he wasn’t specced for Power, Precision, and Furiosity, his regular hits didn’t do a whole lot of damage either.

Strangely enough, Fizlip’s ‘handicap’ didn’t really seem to hurt him very much in sPvP, where he more often than not scored as the top player of the round, but I could see the effects in PvE.  It would take him a lot longer (and many more hits) to bring down most enemies when compared to those with ‘zerker gear.

That has all changed now, though, after the patch that ArenaNet dropped on June 23rd!  Just as an experiment, I started agroing everything in the area and then stacked burning (Yay! Stacking burning!) as fast I could. I was able to apply 10 stacks of burn in less than two seconds, but all those enemies were dead by the time I registered the fact that I had made it to double digits!

I don’t know how long this particular Golden Age of Fizlip (TM) will continue – I’ve already heard grumblings about the insane amount of possible burning damage over on Reddit – but it sure is fun while it lasts!