Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hunting for Heroes - A Guild to Skill Capturing in Guild Wars


So the first open beta weekend of Guild Wars 2 has come and gone, and it's left a quite a few of us eyeing our Hall of Monuments, and thinking You know.. maybe Guild Wars 1 wasn't so bad.  Maybe I should give it a try one more time, and see if I can get a few of those HoM points.  If anything, it's testimony to just how good that darn Guild Wars 2 was, that it has many people whom have by far and large moved on from the original game coming back, and poking around in it.


So this short guide is for you folks.  Guild Wars 1 veterans can probably skip reading here, as there isn't anything here you don't already know.  Though comments on things I've missed or other suggestions are also always appreciated.  And if you've literally just starting out with Guild Wars 1, have just bought exactly one of the three games, and don't even yet have a single level 20 character, well then consider it light reading for now, and bookmark it for when you're a bit further into the game.

But if you're like me - you've made various forays into Guild Wars over the years, maybe have a couple of level 20's on various continents, in various places in the various campaigns, and find yourself poking around the game, but unsure of (or barely recall) how things work or what you should do next, then perhaps this bit of info will be useful.

Though this post doesn't talk about acquiring Hall of Monument points directly - there are tons of good guides for that - one of the things you're going to discover, especially if you're soloing, is that you want to have good hero support.  So you go to the Wiki, and you start looking for good hero builds, and you quickly realize that all the builds have elite skills in them.  And then you're all.. Hey.. I need to get me some of those elite skills for mah heroes!  Though you may not say it with the same bad accent that I do.

Now if you've played any Guild Wars at all, you already know about capturing elite skills from mobs.  But what's not made immediately obvious to the average new player is that any elite skill you've captured for your character, any of your characters, are available to your heroes across your account.  So while thus far you may have only thought to have acquired elite skills for yourself, and maybe you've gone out and sniped one or two for your primary profession, what you really want to do is go capture some elite skills to give to your heroes.

Check please!
Now, before I go any further, I should say up front that there is a pay to play way around all of this.  For $10.00, you can buy a skill pack each for the core game, any one of the three primary campaigns, and the expansion pack.  For $50.00 you can unlock every elite and non elite skill in the game.  While you'd still have to acquire a skill tome to use the elite skills for yourself, by unlocking them they're all immediately available for your heroes. However, I believe skill hunting is still viable for a couple of reasons.  First - well money is money.  You may not want to blow another $50.00, or even another $10.00, on a game that you know you won't play past the Guild Wars 2 launch.  Second, you don't need every skill and elite skill in the game.  You are most likely going to find some specific build for the hero of your choice, and that build is only going to use a single elite skill.  Finally, skill hunting is just tons more fun!

Can I get fries with that?
What you'll need
In order to go hunting for an elite for your party, there are a few requirements.  First, you must have access to the Profession Changer.  The Wiki has a full write-up on the requirements for gaining access to the Profession Changer here.  Second, you'll need a bit of cash (1.5 platinum, to be exact), and finally, some patience.

Choosing your quarry
So for my example, I was perusing through my collection of heroes.  Most of them already have at least one ore two elite skills available to them, but I noticed my necromancer (Olias) is mostly just spamming minions.  Minions are awesome, but I wanted a more targeted build.  Spend more than 15 minutes looking at Necro Hero Builds, and you'll see that Spiteful Spirit is a cornerstone of many of them.  And yap.. sure enough, I haven't unlocked Spiteful Spirit.  My prey was selected!

Where am I headed?
Before you go further, you need to figure out where you're going.  Why is this important do to now? Because depending on where the boss holding the skill you want lives, your ability to get to that boss will depend on which character you have that has access to that zone.  The things that will have a factor in this are how much you've played the game, and which of the games have you purchased?  Again, the wiki is your friend here.  For instance, the skill I want, spiteful spirit, can be found on four bosses in the Prophecies campaign, and one in the Eye of the North campaign.  My current character has access to one of those zones.  But say the skill I wanted was in a zone located in the Factions campaign.  My current character has never been to Kaineng Center - she has practically no zones unlocked in Factions.  But I have an assassin that's completed that campaign.  So if the zone I wanted was there, I'd switch over to that assassin for the duration of this hunt.  The point is, you'll need to spend some time looking at where the bosses are that have the skill you want, and then also spend some time reviewing your alts, to see which of them can get directly to, or is closest to that zone.  Because unlocks are account wide, you can use any of your characters to hunt down this skill.

Look at me I'm Goth!
One you've picked the skill you want to go after, (and more importantly, the profession it belongs to), and the character you're going to use to capture it with, you need to head over to the profession changer.  I'm using the one in the Command Post, within the Sunspear Sanctuary.  For 500 gold, you can choose the secondary of your choice.  So now I'm an Elementalist/Necro!  This is  important because you can only capture elite skills for your primary or secondary profession.  What many people new to the game don't realize though is that typically by the time you are level 20, you can change your secondary to whatever you like, as often as you like - provided you fork over the cash, of course.

The next thing you need is a Signet of Capture.  You can purchase this from most skill trainers for a single skill point and a single platinum.  Once you've captured an elite skill, the Signet of Capture is used up.  So you'll be buying a new one for each skill you capture.  Ahh.. money sinks.  In the command post, there is a skill trainer standing directly next to the profession changer, making this nicely convenient.

The Hunt
I see you Sapph Blacktracker!
The zone I was looking for was Snake Dance, a nasty little strip of land over in the Prophecies campaign that runs is south of Lormar Pass, and north of Camp Rankor.  Though my current character, my elementalist, has only ever quested in Nightfall, fortunately she actually had access to that zone, from a previous skill run that I'd gone on.  A friend had run my character from Beacon's Perch all the way down to Droknar's Forge, so I could teleport to Camp Rankor and enter directly from there.  But in truth, this is part of where the fun lies in skill hunting.  Even though you may not have traveled to every zone in the game, skill hunting will get you out there, and get you moving through zones you didn't even know existed, or haven't visited since the game launched.  And traveling, exploring, making your way from one zone to the next with a definite goal in mind makes the hunt all that much sweeter.

The boss I was seeking was Sapph Blacktracker - a nightmare, and he spawned in  one of three different locations on the map.  When you're looking for your boss, don't forget there are tons of other resources out there beyond the Wiki.  This site has a complete compilation of zone maps and bosses for every profession, and it was this map that I printed out and used as my treasure map upon setting out in Snake Dance.

You guys finish up.. I'm basking in my victory!
On the way to the first spawn location, I carelessly aggroed two groups of Summit Giant Herders and Blessed Griffons, and things got ugly.  After respawning, I left on the 15% penalty, and selected a slightly alternate route, being careful to pull and destroy each group in turn.  My quarry wasn't at the first location, so onward to the next.  And then, upon closing with the second spawn location, though the mists obscured all before me, using CTRL looking, (where you hold down the CTRL key to show all mobs in your vicinity), I spotted Saph!  I focused everyone on him, and with relative little difficulty, Sapph went down.  I didn't even wait for the battle to end.  Corpses don't last forever, and to make it worse, this guy was a nightmare - literally - and finding his corpse on the ground would have been problematic.  Fortunately, for Signet of Capture to work you just have to be near the dead boss.  I rushed over to where he'd fallen, fired off the Signet, and captured the skill!  Then I turned back to helping my comrades clean up the other nightmares that had accompanied him.

Finishing Up
My work wasn't completely done.  After all, I was putting together a build, not just an elite skill.  But that was the hard part.  The rest was gathering the non-elite skills, and that mostly consisted of finding the various skill or Hero Skill trainers, popping over to their zone, and spending the necessary plat and skill points to acquire the skills.  Again, it's a good idea to do this while you're secondary profession is still the one for the build you're trying to flesh out, as skill trainers will only show you skills for your primary or secondary professions.

At last, my new Hero Build was complete.  This is a nice little support build, based on this template, that includes some restoration to back it up, giving my heal team a bit more backup.

Skill Hunting for your Heroes is something that is uniquely Guild Wars.  The combination of online detective work, plus the actual process of getting to the zones, hunting down the boss, and adding the skill to your bar provides an immense amount of satisfaction.   I had a great time adding this one to my collection, and hopefully this brief guide will get you on your way to adding Elite Skills to your bar as well.