Posts Tagged ‘ Monk ’

Morgan’s Ghost

Some more livestreaming this morning.  After attempting twice to draw a charr, I just started freestyling it and eveutally found what my monk would look like if she had gotten caught in the foefire. (she didn’t)

Not A Guardian… Yet!

Wake me when it’s Guild Wars 2 time, I’m going back to bed.

An odd thing has begun happening amongst myself and the friends I play with most often in Guild Wars.  We’re already playing Guild Wars 2, in our minds.  The amount of anticipation and excitement has been percolating for so long that, unconsciously, we’re shoe-horning our Guild Wars playing experience into the Guild Wars 2 mold.

Our two monks are revolting against support.  I play an echoed Ray of Judgement smite build and Odin is running Signet of Spirits.  When we can’t pawn off heal/prot duty on a hero (like the other night when we were farming for Canthan New Year) we pack resurrection scrolls, a self-heal apiece, and Csquirrelrun, our token ‘healer’ fills up spaces in his healing build with smiting.

I’m a bit safer when I’m shooting lasers from the sky, but when I’m protting I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not a guardian yet.  The reason for this is in the way I play protection.  The vast majority of my skills are area-of-effect.  Since Guild Wars doesn’t have the awesome ground-targeting that Guild Wars 2 will, in order for my spells to benefit our casters and our melee I often have to place myself in the middle of the action.

I’ll tell you what, tattoos don’t do a very good job of stopping a blade.

So there I am, laying on the ground, mournfully wishing that: “If I must play bitch duty/ support, why can’t I have heavy armor?  If I must mother my group and save them from themselves, why can’t I have the luxury of being able to see the battle instead of constantly monitoring health bars and a minimap?”

Is it Guild Wars 2 yet?

Guild Wars is fun, but I’ll be damned if Guild Wars 2 doesn’t look like a game I really, really wish I were playing instead.

The Most Awesomest Evening

You want to know what one of the most depressing things is?  During High School and early College I fancied myself quite the poet, and about my early College experience I wrote: Loneliness is laughter a room away.

It’s quite melodramatic, I know, but my point is there’s nothing quite like knowing other people (especially your friends) are having fun without you to make you feel like crap.  Over the past months a lot of people in Relics have been knocking out vanquishes and racking up points in their Monument Halls.  I’ve very much wanted to come, but our times don’t mesh (at all) and I can’t afford the drop in performance at work that would come with staying up ’till all hours of the night to tear Snake Dance a new rear-end.

My experience was much the same last night.
“Oh hey, we’re going to go do this awesome fun thing.”
me: “Hey cool!”
“Oh, but it’s late, so you can’t come with.”
me: “Boo hoo!”

So I wallowed around for a little while and then remembered that Jim, with The Notorious [PIG], made me a build for my Mesmer that combines everything I like.  I don’t actually like making builds, but if you give me one I’ll tweak and play with it an have a lot of fun.  It’s an Illusionary Weaponry build that brings a pet along for extra fun.  As luck would have it I had (or had easy access to) every skill I needed except for You Move Like A Dwarf.

So I was hanging out in the PIG vent, listening to the tumbleweeds, when Mom logged on.  Now, she’s not my mom, I don’t even know the person whose mom she is, but that’s what everybody in PIG calls her and her phonetic is something like “Don’t make me spank you”.  Pretty intimidating.

But she was nice and said hi and when I told her I was off to hunt the NornBear she was game to come along.

We started out pretty well, then I realized that my fancy pants new IW Pet build didn’t have a pet!  Outside the Eye of the North I cast around for a friendly warm body and saw only polar bears.  I didn’t want a stinky polar bear!  What animals are available in Eye of the North?  Eagles!  I wanted an eagle, nothing else would do.  So we set off for Gunnar’s Hold and I’m keeping a weather eye out for eagles, frequently minimizing Guild Wars accidentally by holding Alt to look for eagles while hitting Tab to target an enemy to attack.  D’oh.  Thankfully Mom was patient with me.

Eventually we find one.  I squeal in glee and run up and start charming it.  My companion pipes up in vent, “Would you like to kill it or should I?”  I’m sure my resultant pule of dismay sounded positively heart-wrenching.  Either way, the eagle was feather-dust, and I still had no pet.  There were apologies all around and promises to stay far back when next I found another feathery target friend.

It wasn’t until we left Gunnar’s Hold that I found another.  I flagged the heroes back,  Mom lurked behind, and I began to charm.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the range of Charm Animal is REALLY FARKING FAR.  Koss decided I needed rescuing and before I could fumble my clumsy cursor to tell him “No!” my second eagle was a red smear on the snow.

Fine, fine fine.  That one was my fault.  I should’ve had my heroes on passive or put them farther away.  Chapter read, lesson learned.  Our third eagle we found soon after entering into Drakar Lake.  I squealed (again) in delight and went to tame him, but then a Wild NornBear appeared!  It used Charging Spirit.  It’s Super Effective!

Wait, what?  We mopped up the NornBear, killed some meddling centaurs, then I flagged my heroes back at the entrance to the zone and Mom joined them.  Then I charmed my eagle just like that and it was all rather anticlimactic.  Over the course of journeying to Sifhalla, defending the place, hooking up with another PIG member, Fend, then hooking up with yet another, Dave, I hemmed and hawed over what to name the thing.

At first I tried Hitchcock.  Because what’s more awesome than a bird named after the father of The Birds?  However, Arenanet wasn’t amused and wouldn’t allow the name on account of dirty words, intended or not.  I settled on naming him David, after Roland of Gilead’s pet bird when he was just a gunslinger in training.  I’ve been reading The Dark Tower.  It was David or Blane, because he was such a pain to get.  Blane is a pain but you have to take the train…..

Funny story though!  Not five minutes after my (now level 7) eagle was christened David, someone (I think it was Fend) asked me if I’d rather have a Jingle Moa instead.  Would I?  WOULD I!  Heck yes I’d like a Jingle Moa!  Where do I dump this stupid eagle?

What can I say, it’s tough being my animal companion.

So I dumped the eagle in a cardboard box at the trainer behind the Eye of the North and picked up a Jingle Moa quick as you please.  He didn’t even try to bite me while I was charming him, how’s that for a match made in heaven?

I wanted to name him Snowball’s Chance, but that’s far more than twelve characters and Snow’s Chance didn’t have the same feeling of the ludicrous.  Ultimately it was one of the PIG folks who christened him (I feel terrible for being incapable of remembering who).  We called him White Meat.  Apparently there’s someone running around with a black moa named Dark Meat.  Seeing as I have a long history of pink pets named Floyd, I felt the name fit perfectly. (I’m sure I’ll eventually get over associating the name ‘white meat’ with Detta Walker’s fowl mouth)

It was about this time, I think, that we lost Mom, but we continued on anyway.  We ran Dave’s character (One of many, apparently in PIG they don’t call someone ‘hardcore’ anymore, they use the term ‘davecore’) up to Sifhalla, defended the town, and then went hunting for NornBear /steaks/.  It was during these escapades that they told me about a quick-as-you-please pet leveling guide on the PIG forums.  They told me it should only take 20-30 minutes.  Perfect!

So eventually they had enough for the night and I had a pet to level anyway, so we said our goodbyes and I trotted off to the PIG forums to find what I needed.  The guide involves bringing three heroes with specific skills.  One of them was Well of Power.  I didn’t have Well of Power, nor did I feel like romping off into the great beyond to capture it.  I know! I’ll buy it with Balthazar faction!

I only had 800 faction points.  @#*$!

I’m not sure what possessed me, thinking that PvP would be a quick and easy way to get some faction.  More often than not, it isn’t.  But Lyssa’s blessing was with me last night and luck walked at my side.  I hopped over to my monk, threw on my Random Arenas build and ran off to kick some ass.

Our first group was lucky.  There was myself, a monk, with another monk, a dervish, and something else.  I say something else because for some reason he was offended by having two monks in his /random/ party and left after we won our first game.  More’s the loss for him.

In our next battle an assassin joined us.  From then on we were unstoppable.

The other monk’s build was very similar to mine, but different enough that we complemented each other quite well.  The dervish and the assassin were wicked damage dealers, able even to take down the monks in the couple two-monk teams we found ourselves faced against.  Most battles were flawless victories, about half saw our opponents giving up immediately.  Some even cursed us.  That one I didn’t understand.  It’s a random group, we weren’t in the same guild, and we definitely weren’t trying to synch.  We just got lucky.  I didn’t let the cursing bother me, however.  After all, we were winning.

One game was particularly entertaining.  One person left off the bat, two we killed easily, and the last, a warrior with Sprint decided to go jogging.  He ran us around the map for the full time of the match.  It was ridiculous, but not infuriating.  My team took it pretty well and we laughed it off easily.

The groups we had the most troubles with featured mesmers, most often more than one.  The other monk and I began coordinating our casts of Spotless Mind and after a few instances of simultaneous pinging (which always made me laugh) we found our groove and powered through.

I’m sure we could have kept on winning all night, but Random Arena consecutive victories cap out at 25 and as soon as we won our 25th match there was much back-thumping and congratulations all around.  Once back in Balthy’s place I checked my Faction.  I had over 6,000, plenty enough to purchase Well of Power.

As my husband hustled me off to bed (I was 30 minutes past my bed-time) I shared a variation of a popular Chuck Norris joke on twitter:

Two monks, an assassin, and a dervish walk into Random Arenas….. There were no survivors.

Protting, Good For The Laggards

I don’t heal anymore.  I just don’t.  I can do it if pressed, but it’s a job I’d much rather foist on an unsuspecting hero.  However, I still haven’t completely lost my lust for support (my antics as a carnage-crazed sword-wielding Mesmer maniac to the contrary).

And that’s where Protection comes in.

Protection and Healing go hand in hand.  As a Protection Monk, it’s my job to make the healer’s job easier.  In essence, I’m supporting the support.  I can’t even operate on my own.  In a pinch, a healer can run her energy dry by propping up the crumbling tower that is her teammates, but as Prot I have no recourse to recover my team from heavy damage.  I can soften the blows, mitigate the damage, even take pressure off the healer by strategic use of Heavan’s Delight and Divine Healing, but once that large hurt has happened, to one target, I’m not very useful.

Why, oh why, then, would I want to play like this?  One word: Lag, both biological and electrical.

My reaction times have never been my strongest feature.  When I used to heal I always felt frantic, like I was bailing a leaky boat and always trying to catch up.  Protection isn’t at all like that.  Let’s take a look at basic play styles.

Healing

Reactive.  You must watch your party’s health bars and refill them when they drop.  Sometimes you use delayed heals and heal over time skills to anticipate damage.  You need to make sure you stay well back because you squish easily and, as a result, it’s easy to be out-run by the front line.

Protection

Proactive.  You must watch your party’s health bars a little, mostly for conditions or hexes.  You must watch the mini-map for applying skills like Aegis and your weak group heals.  To ensure everyone benefits from area-of-effect protections, you must often be in the mid-line.  You are more vulnerable than an elementalist, but not so vulnerable as an assassin.  You also have protection skills to make yourself a little more difficult to squish.

It’s where my attention ends up being focused and my activity level that marks the greatest difference for me as a Protection Monk.  As a prot, I’m watching the mini-map far more often than actual health bars.  Three of my skills are area of effect, two are direct-target ports, one is condition removal (If you’re hexed you’re SoL with me), one is energy management, and one is Unyielding Aura.  That’s half my active skills being area of effect, three-fifths if you discount the condition removal (which has a decent heal attached which is, incidentally, the best way for me to prop up a fading melee by way of extra Divine Favor heals).

Because I’m so hyper-aware of where I am in relation to my whole group, I’m almost never left behind.  When we encounter monsters I’m immediately casting Glyph of Lesser Energy and leading straight into Aegis, followed by a Protective Spirit on whoever I think is going to be getting it in the face (Assassin) then it’s just a matter of rolling around protections, meting out condition removal, and topping up the group as a whole with Heavan’s Delight and Divine Healing.

Very little of what I do is time sensitive.  As long as I’m keeping up a steady rhythm, if I don’t get a protection out right this instant, my party isn’t going to instantly die.  As opposed to if I were healing and someone took a big hit I would then need to immediately heal them or they’ll be eating dust.  As a prot if I ever let it get to that point I’ve already lost.

Which is why protection is particularly good for when I’m lagging.  Even if everyone on screen is skipping about like epileptic humming birds, I can still sit myself down in the middle of everything and steadily toss out protections.  I can be useful without compromising my group, and it feels fantastic.

The other night I did a bunch of disparate runs with Hamstorm Nation [PIG]   .  They hooked me up with a baby black moa in record time, showered me with brotherhood cloths, and even hauled me through a dungeon.  I think it all took only 3 hours.  I got to do a little bit of smiting but, towards the end, I gravitated back to my familiar role of letting the Assassin die Protection.  Those folks are a blast.

BLA BLA BLA

Blah?

no, BLA!

Battle for Lion’s Arch!

Or – In which the under-appreciated have their day.

Namely protection monks, paragons, warriors, and fire elementalists.

I don’t have any fancy narrative of the occasion like Hunter does. Truth be told I was busy watching health bars and the mini-map. I had no idea the groups we faced were slowly changing composition from white mantle thralls to jade armors and the like.

I’ve found that when prot monking watching your mini-map is every bit as important as watching your party’s health bars. Aegis does no good if half your party is out of earshot.

But back to the BLA. Our healing monk was Ogden, my Ogden in fact. I tend to get a little protective when it comes to heals (o u c wut i did thar?). If I’m going to be protting I want a healer hero built to my specifications (human healers can build like they want, they’re mostly more intelligent than a hero).

I’ve also hear people give warriors and fire eles crap about being useless. Everybody loves an Imbagon (imbalanced paragon) but they work in the shadows right along-side protection monks and rarely get the recognition they deserve.

It’s always: “Hey, that heal came just in time!” or “Nice spike damage that jade cloak dropped like a ton of bricks!”

It’s never: “Man that Aegis really saved my butt” or “Thanks for the warning that the enemies are on fire, I’m not burning as bad!” (‘They’re On Fire’ is the only paragon skill I know)

Warriors and Fire Eles are so passé, so Prophecies. Nobody groups with them anymore.

Well ya know what?

I did.

And I do, and I will again in a heartbeat.

The Battle for Lion’s Arch was a brutal endurance race against nearly impossible odds. We wiped more than once and we used all advantages at our disposal including summoned creatures and other consumables.

Even with all of that it was an exhilarating fight that harkened back to Thunderhead Keep in the pre-nerf days, or of your first time fighting the Lich at the end of Prophecies. It reminded me of the days before heroes when the henchmen were more of a liability than an aid and everyone would rather run a group of 7 than bring Alesia.

The best part was at the end we all gathered around to listen to the end of the story and patted each other on the back. When you run with a group of people who are used to being under-appreciated the ‘great job guys’ ring out with true sincerity. There’s no sense of “Hey congrats but you really know I did all the work”. We’re used to not seeing much direct result from our labors, or getting any credit.

As for me, I’ve embraced the philosophy of Guild Wars 2: “If you have to heal damage taken, you’ve already lost.”

Stay Awhile, and Listen

Ok Cain, shut your yap, wrong company. I don’t blog about Blizzard anymore!

No, I won’t pay for protection.

What?

You can’t be held responsible if Malygos torches my house? Huh?

Ok, ok, you know what?

*RAY OF JUDGEMENT*

Yeah, that’s right, I thought so. Now shoo.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Shaun over at I Love Guild Wars asked the question posed by Arenanet, “What’s your story?

The story of my coming to Guild Wars is similarly the story of my coming to WoW, my introduction into online gaming in the first place. You WoW players who would like to turn your nose up at Guild Wars and snort derisively that it calls itself an MMO should know that, without Guild Wars there would have been no Tigerfeet, there would have been no snazzy druid color charts, no nothin’. I would also probably live in Seattle and work at a more interesting job, but that’s neither here nor there.

With all stories, it’s best to begin at the beginning. And at this beginning, I was knock-down, drag-out, fish-got-nothin’-on-me, drunk.

It was my twenty-first birthday, I was allowed.

The next morning I enjoyed a couple of weak coconut-flavored drinks to help with the hangover, ate lots of bread and drank even more water. All things considered I wasn’t feeling all that bad. I then demanded that my boyfriend at the time drive me to the nearest Best Buy and go pre-order Guild Wars for me. (I waited in the car)

A friend at the party (incidentally my future husband) told me about this great new MMO that was coming out that wasn’t World of Warcraft. The most ardent fans of WoW at our school tended to be rather militant in their ardor and were most definitely not the kind of people I wanted to associate with.

So Guild Wars it was. The fact that we didn’t have to pay a monthly subscription to play was a definite bonus. If I have to pay full-price for a game I find it rediculous that I have to pay a subscription. If said game were split into online and offline components, the online being only for subscribers, well, I didn’t see a problem with that.

ANY-way. I was in the Guild Wars beta. Something kept us from February’s event (my birthday was on the first), so our first steps into Tyria happened in March of 2005. I remember weekend-long lan parties at my apartment or Mr. Tigerfeet’s where we never slept and raced through the storyline.

I remember finally making my way out of the blasted and war-torn Ascalon, through the snowy mountains, and into lush, tropical Kryta. Shouts and peals of joy would ring out when one of us made it that far and a loud, slightly drunken, chorus of “Welcome to the Jungle” would be sung.

The Beta Events were heady, raucus affairs. Every so often a little lightning-bolt would appear in the corner of our screens and we would squeal in delight. The game was updating as we played and soon we knew we would be asked to re-start and find sometimes small, sometimes large, changes to our playing experience.

I busied myself with scouring the countryside for mis-aligned geometry and artwork gone awry. Mr. Tigerfeet did what he always does, namely try to break everything, and our third friend, Resda Barimen, giggled maniaclly while he pranced around with his undead horde in tow.

During Beta we managed to scrape together enough cash to form a guild. We called ourselves Midnight Paradox [MnP] and had a blue eye on a black field with the obligatory red flames. (Didn’t everyone’s cape have flames back then?)

We tried our hands at PvP, even made it into the top 500 guilds once, but mostly we did our own thing. Eventually, through graduation and general life changes, we all drifted apart. I laid Guild Wars down for a number of years, popping on to check for birthday presents and not much else.

During this time I had a brief, but intense relationship with World of Warcraft where I discovered how truly wonderful a close-knit guild can be.

Since I left WoW (and incidentally my computer died) I’ve been whiling away the hours by working my monk (Morgan Ascot) through the Nightfall expansion and enjoying the Zaishen missions.

My favorite part of playing a monk was being needed. I am such a sucker for someone in need. Taking on more than I could handle in the face of my guild’s need was what eventually led to my downfall in WoW. As a monk in Guild Wars I could always find a group of people to play with, I was always welcome, and always needed.

As I look forward to Guild Wars 2 I find myself at a crossroads. Do I play some kind of heavy-hitting melee damage class? Or do I step into my old role of healer and support? I doubt I’ll know the answer to that question before I’m actually faced with it.

Never mind the fact that it’s rumored Guild Wars 2 won’t employ healers at all.

One thing you can count on is this space being All Charr All the Time. (except when it’s not)

Got Your Back: A Love Letter to Mhenlo

Yesterday’s Zaishen Mission (daily heroic for you WoW folks) was the Dragon’s Lair. For the uninitiated (un-attuned hurr hurr) the Dragon’s Lair is a mission just after a grueling campaign in the desert that culminates with a mano-a-mano fight against your doppleganger (this sucks for healers, btw).

Each Guild Wars mission has an optional bonus. Complete the bonus and you’ll get more experience plus credit that counts towards something-or-other. (I haven’t really been paying attention).

This is the chronicle of yesterday’s mission:

To: Mhenlo (Healer Henchman)
Postmarked: Droknar’s Forge • Routed Through: Rata Sum

My Dearest Mhenlo,

I hope you are doing well. I am writing to you from the scenic slopes of the Southern Shiverpeaks. The climate leaves me wishing for something a little more substantial than tattoos, but after the punishing sun of the Crystal Desert, I find it a relief.

Having defeated my doppleganger, I headed to the Dragon’s Lair to seek Glint’s blessing so that I may take the fight to the vile Mursaat.

I found fighting companions quickly (I’m sure you’re aware that those such as us are always welcome). The warrior in the party nearly brought me to tears, however, when he demanded that all members make use of their innate self-healing abilities. He said this was to give myself and the other monk an easier time of things. Though I would love to say our success was due to my unparalelled ability as a protection monk, I suspect this thoughtfulness was the real deciding factor.

So, equipped and ready, we set off through the Dragon’s Lair. Each facet was more difficult than the last, yet we persevered. Halfway through, I believe after the Mesmer facet, our other monk was struck with a terrible malady. As we passed into the new area his body was stiff and unresponsive. We were forced to continue without him.

I would be lying if I said that I was not afraid. I have not followed in your healing footsteps, dearest Mhenlo. Dwayna calls me to be a shelter for those needing protection. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure but, no matter. My skills were sufficient until the very end.

You see, someone (the assassin I suspect, hot-headed fools that they are) decided to collect a souvenir. One of Glint’s precious eggs.

Her fury was such that I have never seen before. Even with my best sheltering spells I could not keep my comrades alive, and the healing spells I did have weren’t enough to staunch the damage.

Instead, I did my best to stay out of the way and resurrect my fallen party members. Unyeilding Aura is really a fantastic ability, quickly able to turn the tide of a battle such as this. Honestly Mhenlo I don’t know why you haven’t adopted more modern ways.

Well, it appears some young Elonian refugees have gotten their hands on some rockets and need my services. Please give my regards to Cynn.

Affectionately yours,
Morgan Ascot