In the first installment of Grind Wars (assuming you haven’t forgotten about it), I talked about my lofty goals for Guild Wars’ Hall of Monuments…
…and their subsequent snuffing.
Jumping back into the thick of things, I decided to continue pursuing the rewards laid out in front of me. But some of those endeavors were more soul-killing than even the prospect of leaving them 98% fulfilled.
One step at a time
Having accepted the lowly state of my current possessions (namely: candy), I decided to etch out a plan for bettering myself. And by myself I mean, of course, my digital avatars. The HoM guide I found online had laid out a few of the simpler statues I could attain for my virtual trophy case.
First, getting five companion statues for Fellowship would be a piece of cake. I’d simply bring my heroes who had elite armor, and consign them to the shrine. I knew for a fact I had several unlocked.
Immediately, I hit a
speed bump wall. It turns out Druhn, my ritualist, had made it to the Hall of Monuments without ever once upgrading his henchmen’s attire. My mesmer Zala, on the other hand, had a boatload of pimped-out heroes, but had never ventured into the Far Shiverpeaks to commemorate them. And this was supposed to be one of the easier items to check off.
I didn’t have any endgame weapons to dedicate, nor did I have any rare or even level 20 pets on either character. My title completion was appalling, with the exception of my Random Arena (Gladiator) progress, but we’ll get back to that later.
Poring over the Guild Wars Wiki for long periods at a time, I planned and plotted, then set out to unlock the first of my Hall of Monument points.
Like shooting fish in a really time-consuming barrel
The Hall of Monuments’Devotion stand offered a few straightforward rewards. One point for placing any miniature statue (a cosmetic animal also known as a minipet), another point for placing a rare statue, another point for a unique statue, and a bunch of points for amassing 20, 30, 40, or 50 minipets altogether.
Right off the bat, I had a handful of minis on my characters and in their stashes. By Dwayna’s ever-loving grace, I even had a few greater-rarity statues, pushing me straight to two whole points for Devotion. I had eight little playthings altogether, but I got to thinking… don’t my other, throwaway characters have minipets, too?
See, in Guild Wars, characters were awarded minipets every year to celebrate their “birth” (the day you created them). I had five total characters, and given the number of years it had been since I last played the game, I had nearly thirty toys to commemorate. Sure, some of them were duplicates, but after a little stash-swapping and lots of load screens, I had scored an additional two Hall of Monuments points for having twenty discreet, digital animals on stage.
It was a small “accomplishment,” but I was ecstatic. With ten total Hall of Monuments rewards, I was now slated to receive a shitty staff, a shitty bow, a shitty minipet, and a mediocre Fire Sword! I could have tried to trade for/buy another eight minipets or so to reach the thirty statue mark, but I still didn’t have much money and little know-how in the years-advanced Guild Wars economy.
Fellowship of the annoying
Next up was theFellowship monument. Here, I’d score points for showing off pets and heroes. And while (as previously mentioned) I didn’t have any at my disposal, the achievement guide pointed out two “fast” and “easy” and “not at all mind-numbing” ways to earn these accolades.
For hero statues, one simply had to activate a quest that brought the golem character M.O.X. into one’s party. Since M.O.X. was some kind of special hero, he didn’t require unique armor to be enshrined in the Hall of Monuments. I loaded him in and instantly traded him for a shiny, Guild Wars 2 Diamond Aegis. Wonderful.
The pet part would be a little trickier. Yes, I could technically exploit a game mechanic to level up an innocuous critter out in the wild and redeem it for that sweet, sweet, Harlequin Mask I’ve been eyeing, but I decided against it
on account of not wholly understanding the exploit because that’s boring. Instead, I decided to complete the quest The Beak of Darkness, which would supply me not only a level 20 Black Moa pet, but a rare one at that. With one fell swoop, I could cash in for two HoM points!
It turns out there’s a reason I never completed The Beak of Darkness in all my Guild Warring years: the quest is an hours-long, multi-tiered fetch quest. In essence, various NPCs had me traipse around the Echovald Forest searching for clues of what amounts to a murderous, seven-foot, goth chicken.
Was it hard? Well, it was hard to stay awake. Was it challenging? It was challenging not to smash my screen in frustration? Was it worth it?
Of course it was worth it. I got two decorative, virtual items out of it!
Tired and broken, I decided I’d leave further Fellowship progress for another day. That left only a small matter: completing my PvP Gladiator title track.
Are you not entertained? Cuz I sure as hell ain’t
The Gladiator title track is awarded to players for winning matches in Guild Wars’ 4v4 Random Arena. Suit up with the profession of your choice, and you’re thrown into the ring with “random” teammates against “random” enemies… last group standing wins. Sure, I was rusty as hell – the metagame has certainly evolved a lot in the half decade since I last played seriously. But I was 98% of the way to earning the requisite Gladiator title needed to unlock three whole points in the Hall of Monuments. How much time could this possibly take?
Surprise, surprise, the answer is dozens of hours. You see, I foolishly believed that, being at 1890 out of 2000 victory points was “close” to my goal. And while I was rusty, that was actually the least of my worries. As loss after terrible loss piled up, I began to realize there were actually a whole host of factors keeping me from meeting my murderous goal:
- Gladiator points aren’t awarded for wins, but for win streaks. So while losses didn’t advance my progress, wins didn’t either unless they were followed by another win or more. In other words, only 25% of fights offered me a statistical chance of getting even one of the 100+ title points I needed. And that’s assuming I played competently!
- Sure, it’s called Random Arena, but many players apparently game the system and find ways around Guild Wars’ randomization algorithm, essentially pitting me and my newfound comrades against coordinated teams of seasoned veterans. That 25% win rate started looking more like 10%, fast.
- Since there’s so much inherent bullshit in the scoring and ranking system, most Random Arena players ragequit at the first sign of a loss or tampering. There were dozens (and dozens) of matches where victory was possible, but a teammate of mine decided to go AFK or leave the match because of a minor setback.
- It’s universally agreed that every team needs one and only one healing monk. Roll a random team without a monk? Everyone resigns. Get a group with two monks? Same effect. Happen to be a healing ritualist, or a smiting monk, or anything like that? Rage fucking quit.
- On top of all these factors, I frequently encountered odd bugs that I don’t recall from my previous Guild Wars experience. My character would float into the air, or clip through walls, or simply lag so badly that every other player teleported around the arena. In no circumstance did these occurrences work in my favor.
So, how long did it take me to “earn” the 110 Gladiator points I needed for the Hall of Monuments? Well, I wrote my last article in May… and now it’s August. Sure, I didn’t play that regularly (my doctor advised against it after taking my blood pressure), but I jumped into the game as frequently as my fragile heart would allow. I easily played hundreds of matches, typically unlocking single digit title progress per week, though a few times I was fortunate enough to land in a good group and score a streak of wins. It kept my spirit aloft long enough to endure a few extra losses along the way.
The future is forsaken
Broken and battered, I trudged my way into the Hall of Monuments in the frozen Eye of the North and activated my glorious Gladiator statue. I had unlocked another three items, including a goddamn Black Moa in Guild Wars 2. It felt like an accomplishment, with the pain of my now deadened Mouse 1 finger serving as a reminder of what I’d endured.
Was it worth it, all for sixteen virtual trinkets of no value, either in game or out? I can’t really say, and I won’t know how I feel until Guild Wars 2 launches.
But what I can say for certain is that those Gauntlets of Dwayna at tier eighteen are looking pretty slick.
Now… where was I?