Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guild Wars 2 Casual Solo - Armor at 80

So you're level 80. Now what?  If you've been doing dungeons, or participating extensively in WvW and sPvP, you quite likely already know what to do.  You're just going to keep doing what you've been doing, and get some great gear in the process of doing it.  But what if you're like me?  What if you're a casual player, that mostly plays solo, who's reached level 80 purely through the process of just playing along, completing renown hearts and dynamic events, with maybe a bit of crafting?  You know you want to improve your character, but you're not entirely clear on just exactly where to go and what to do.  There are a myriad of choices and options available, but it's all just a confusing mess.  Do I grind dungeons now?  Should I be farming orichalcum? How do I get a crazy weapon?  In this post I'm going to attempt to sort out some of your options, and hopefully give you some hints on how to get started.

So most likely you'll want to gear your character up a bit.  This means better armor and better weapons.  I personally, would focus on armor first.  While having a super cool weapon and doing crazy damage is the sexy choice, it's been my experience that in general, you should focus on survivability and defense before you get teh deeps.  Plus you'll get more of an overall benefit by having a full set of exotic armor than you will just by equipping new weapons.

How Armor Works
So the discussion on exactly how ArenaNet's armor ratings and stat allocation works is worthy of an entire blog itself, and fortunately quite a few of them have already been written.  I highly recommend this guide as a fairly exhaustive guide on armor and stat allocations.  I'm going to give you the very short version.  What you need to know is that, at level 80, exotic gear is still pretty much the best in slot, stat-wise.  Recently ArenaNet introduced ascended gear, and it offers some slight improvements over exotic pieces.  Currently there are only rings and backpacks are offered in an ascended form, though they have promised more ascended pieces are to come.  The ascended pieces are intended to give you something to work towards after you've outfitted all your exotics, so for now my recommendation is just to not worry about them.

The other thing to know is that all exotic armor (with a very few exceptions) will offer three stats - one primary, and two secondary.  The sum total benefit of those three stat values is the same for any particular piece.  The only difference is how those stats are allocated.*  So you can pretty much rest assured that any particular piece of exotic armor is is just as good as any other piece of exotic armor.  All you have to do is to decide which stat combination you want for your character.

For this decision, let this chart be your guide.  As you can see, for each armor set available in the game, it gives you the name of the armor set, the stat combination, and more importantly, how you get it.  And that's the key thing to realize.  Where you go to get your armor will depend on what stat combinations you want on the armor.  I'll talk briefly about each of the choices.

This is probably the easiest way to get your armor - it's the way I got mine.  Getting to 400 in your armorsmithing profession of choice isn't too bad.  With a good guide, you can reach 400 without bankrupting yourself.  Once you get to 400, I suggest making a shopping list.  You'll have to buy the recipe for the insignia of choice from the Master Armorsmithing vendor for your profession - it costs 896 karma - a pittance.  But then you'll need to gather up all the ingredients for the insignias and armor pieces, and that's going to cost a pretty penny.  So take inventory of what you have, figure out what you'll need (that's right.. 30 globs of ectoplasm), and how much you need to acquire.  For my armor, it was about 12 gold total.  I had just finished crafting my rare set of armor, so I was pretty much flat broke at the time.  It took me about three weeks of just logging in and playing a little a night, and selling much of what I found on the trading post to get me to 15 gold.  Your mileage may vary, of course, but you can accumulate that gold over a pretty short time just by playing the game.  One thing that can really help is getting zone complete for any of the Orrian zones or other level 80 zones.  Zone complete will grant you a couple of exotic pieces that you quite likely won't be able to use.  Put those up on the TP - even if they're not level 80, they'll sell for anywhere between 1.5 to 5 gold.

Various karma merchants around the world offer full sets of karma gear.  At first, blush, the price for these karma pieces will seem.. insane.  But nowadays, getting karma is actually pretty easy, and the nice thing is, again, you can acquire it just by doing what you already are doing - playing the game.  Your main route for getting karma is the Jug of Karma that is now awarded at the completion of doing your daily achievement.  And with the most recent patch, those achievements vary from day to day, which keeps it fresh and interesting.  And you now get laurels, which are also awesome, so there's even more reason to just log in from day to day and play the game.  The key to remember about Jugs of Karma is to not consume them when you get them.  Save them up, and either buy or wait until you have a karma booster.  Each Jug of Karma awards 4,500 karma, unmodified.  However, when you combine a karma booster, guild karma booster, and consume some ice cream, you can achieve a total of 7,875 karma per jug.  An entire suit of armor costs 252,000 karma.  That means, with enhancements, you can have all the karma you need with as few as 32 jugs of karma.  And you quite likely aren't starting from zero karma.

If you're casual solo like me, it's quite likely dungeons aren't your thing.  But with the most recent changes to dungeons, they're actually not too bad.  But if you're looking for a particular combination of stats (or appearance), there's nothing for it but to figure out which dungeon has the armor you want, start hollaring for a group (or organize a group with your friends) and get after it.  A full set will cost 1200 tokens from the dungeon of choice.  The first run of each path per day awards 60 tokens.  The subsequent run that day will award 20, and there are diminishing returns after that.  That's at least 20 runs of the dungeon to acquire the full armor set.  With a regular group, that's actually not too bad.

Loot & WvW
Well those speak for themselves, and I won't go into too much detail here.  Loot pieces essentially equate to "Buy on Trading Post", and your price may (will) vary.  Doing WvW grants you Badges of Honor, and you use them to buy your WvW armor.  It'll cost you 1889 Badges of Honor to buy your entire set.

Deciding on a Look
Of course, if you're like me, you're quite likely to want two sets of armor.  One for the stats, and another for the looks.  Thanks to Guild Wars excellent transmutation system you can make any armor piece look like any other piece of the same type.  There are a ton of videos and sites out there for reviewing armor sets by their appearance.  There are two great sites I recommend for this:  Guild Wars 2 Armor Gallery, and GW2Armor.  Head over there, and start shopping the racks for the appearance that suits you best!

So there you have it.  By now you should have a good idea of how to figure out which armor you want, the goals you have for acquiring it, and how to get after getting it.  And the very cool thing of course is that it is entirely possible for a casual solo-er like myself to acquire best-in-slot pieces, doing just what I like to do - play the game. Of course, armor is only one part of it.  You still have trinket decisions, runes to put in that newly created armor, and of course weapons.  But those can wait for future blogs.  In the mean time, hope this helps get you on your way to getting some sweet gear for your freshly minted level 80 character.

*In the interest of absolute accuracy, I feel compelled to mention that the ratio of percentage points you get for boon duration, condition duration, critical damage, and magic find to points you get in the other flat stats are slightly different from piece to piece.  If you want to make the best comparisons for what you gain and give up by swapping out a piece that offers critical damage as the secondary stat versus say, toughness, refer to this table.