The Flameseeker Chronicles: A guide to the Canthan New Year festival

Token farming, Rollerbeetle racing, and AFK-ing the rings. Hot on the heels of Wintersday Redux comes Canthan New Year 2010. Guild Wars players joke about the AFK-fest, and while it's a great opportunity to work on those lucky and unlucky titles, there is much more going on. ArenaNet puts together a great festival every year, with old favorite quests and NPCs returning to dole out Lunar tokens and Fortunes as well as a heap of other treats. There is a lot going on, and it can be a bit overwhelming if this is your first Canthan New Year, so let's take a peek at the festivities.
Although this year's celebrations haven't begun yet, we figured we should make sure you're good and ready for when it does arrive.

While Lion's Arch and Kamadan will be decorated for smaller celebrations, Shing Jea Monastery is party central, with quests and NPCs to check out inside the monastery itself, and the boardwalk open for games. Talking to the monastery keeper at the gate will transport you to the boardwalk where you'll find several games: Nine Rings, the Rings of Fortune, and Dragon Nest. Participation in the games is gained by using Festival Tickets, which can be purchased from Sunri on the boardwalk for 15 gold each.


Nine Rings

Nine Rings is a favorite for those looking to advance their Lucky and Unlucky titles. You'll need 10 Festival Tickets to participate in each round, which offers a chance to win 15-55 tickets. You don't need to actively pay anyone, just have enough tickets in your inventory and stand on a ring. Tickets will automatically be added and removed as the game progresses. One ring is chosen at random per round, and if you are on or adjacent to the winning ring, you'll find extra tickets in your inventory. If you are not on a winning ring, you'll get the privilege of contributing to the mass death cry and finding yourself flat on your back for a moment. You'll also be out ten tickets. A win will advance your Lucky title, while a loss will advance the Unlucky title. "AFK-ing the rings" is a phrase you'll hear pretty often, and it will make a bit more sense when you approach the rings and see what appears to be a few hundred people crammed together on a single ring. Players will purchase stacks of tickets, leave them in their inventory, park their character on the ring of their choice, and head AFK to do something else (like watching the Superbowl) as their titles progress.

""AFK-ing the rings" is a phrase you'll hear pretty often..."

Rings of Fortune
"Lower risk, lower reward" is the idea here. The Rings of Fortune are arranged in a 4x4 grid as opposed to Nine Rings 3x3 layout. Payment and rewards work the same way: just have the tickets in your inventory and stand on the ring of your choice. The cost here is two tickets per round. If you are standing on the winning ring you'll receive twelve tickets. If you're in the same row or column as the winning ring, you'll win three tickets.

Dragon Nest
Dragon Nest is a high-speed, increasingly difficult game of tag in which the goal is to tag gray and white dragon hatchlings as they appear. The cost to enter is one Festival Ticket. You'll play four rounds, beginning with round one in which there are only gray hatchlings. They're all fair game, so you'll want to tag anything you can catch. Round two will introduce red hatchlings which are to be avoided on pain of being knocked down. Round three adds white hatchlings to the red and gray mix. These hatchlings score more if tagged, but are more dangerous, so be careful. Finally, the fourth round awards double points for each tagged hatchling, so if you're lagging behind, this is your chance to catch up. Speed buffs and careful use of the V + Space combination are the key to success here. Everyone will receive a Lunar Token for participating, with two tokens going to the top three finishers, and ten tokens plus a gamer point awarded to the first place winner.

Dragon Arena

The Dragon Arena brings some PvP to the party in this dodgeball-esque game. It gives you a special skill set which includes a deadly dodge ball, a speed buff, an ego buff, and five Resurrection Signets. Cast Dragon Blast to fire a projectile at your enemies, killing them instantly. Cast (and maintain) Trade Winds to keep moving quickly and dodge the projectiles coming your way. Cast Imperial Majesty to force your enemies to grovel before you, taking 80 damage in the bargain. Cast Resurrection Signet to bring back your party members because they forgot to maintain Trade Winds. This minigame awards Lunar tokens, gamer points, and an increasing amount of Balthazar faction based on opponent kills, flawless victories, and consecutive wins.

Rollerbeetle Racing
Rollerbeetle Racing is another PvP-style game with a special skill set. This hugely popular game transforms you into a rollerbeetle and pits you against five other players in a race through a winding track. Your skill set is equipped with a couple of speed buffs, but mostly exists to knock down and impede other players. The skills are not perpetually available, but can be recharged as you pass through checkpoints. The game is scored backwards, so to speak; you'll begin with 600,000 points, and lose 1,000 every second until you finish. As with the Dragon Arena, Lunar Tokens, gamer points, and Balthazar faction are awarded depending on where you place. While those are nice, they're not the big prize that everyone is chasing. The top 100 scorers during Canthan New Year will receive the coveted Greased Lightning minipet. It's one of the few very rare miniatures that is still accessible to players, so good luck!
Quests
The boardwalk isn't the only place you'll find fun during this event, however. You'll find several quests available in Shing Jea Monastery, out in Sunqua Vale, and even a few over in Elona, on the Plains of Jarin. Each quest is very low-level and easy to complete, rewarding 25 Lunar Tokens as well as XP, gold, and a variety of other rewards. The quests are non-repeatable, and you must be at least level five to play them. This was introduced in 2008 as a method of discouraging token farming, but you can still accumulate a fair amount of tokens by running all of your characters through the quests if you so desire. (A full round of quests will net 175 tokens.)

Lunar Tokens
So what are all these Lunar Tokens good for? In Shing Jea Monastery you'll find the Lunar Fortune Giver. If you give her three Lunar Tokens, she'll give you -- predictably -- a Lunar Fortune. These fortunes can be used in explorables and have a chance of giving you effects such as a temporary attribute boost, a small prize such as gold or a party item, or a minipet -- presumably a miniature Celestial Tiger this year. Alternatively, as a much more popular option for title hunters, you can trade five of these tokens to a Lunar Gift Keeper in Shing Jea Monastery, Lion's Arch, or Kamadan in exchange for a red gift bag. Inside you'll find gold, more Lunar Tokens, or a little something to help with your party, drunk, or sweet titles.

Finale

Finally, we come to the big day: the finale. This is the year of the tiger, so beginning Sunday at midnight PST, we can expect a hungry Celestial Tiger to arrive in hopes of finding a little something to eat. Shing Jea Monastery will be home to five chefs, each waiting to prepare their part of the five course meal to feed the tiger. Your job is to supply the ingredients, and you'll receive a lunar token for each ingredient supplied. Once all the ingredients for a dish are received, it is considered successfully prepared, and everyone in the district benefits. If no dishes are prepared successfully, everyone in the district will turn into a tiger for a short period of time and receive two red gift bags. If at least one dish is prepared successfully, players will receive an increasing number of red gift bags for each dish, with an additional prize of five crates of fireworks if all five dishes are prepared.

But the hat! How do I get a hat?
No matter what happens, everyone in the district will receive the lion mask. "How do I get a hat?" is probably the most often asked question in Guild Wars festivals, and veteran players have been known to wish a Lunar Token was awarded every time the question was asked in local chat. So here is your answer: you do absolutely nothing. You stand in a district while the Celestial Tiger is there -- every three hours during the finale beginning Sunday at midnight PST -- and that's it: hat in your inventory, just like that.

A word on sponsored districts.
During the finale, when the chefs are calling for ingredients, everyone in the district benefits from a successfully prepared dish whether they chose to contribute ingredients or not. Every year many guilds take the very generous approach of sponsoring a district, and every year there is confusion on what this means, how it works, and who can be involved. So we're going to take just a moment to clear it up.

As a rule, when a guild announces that they are sponsoring a district, this does not mean that they are claiming it for themselves and shutting everyone else out. In fact, the opposite is true. The sponsoring guild has spent time gathering all the ingredients needed by the chefs, and are acting as hosts of an open-invitation dinner party. Everyone is invited to hang out in the district, relax, and enjoy the festivities knowing that the full feast is all taken care of. It's an act of generosity on the side of the sponsoring guilds, so don't forget to thank your hosts. Also don't forget to chat with the others in the district -- that second "M" stands for "multiplayer" -- so take some time to familiarize yourself to those players around you.

Another source of confusion is trying to keep track of who is sponsoring which districts. Squabbling over districts is inevitable, and sponsoring guilds sometimes choose to post on fansite forums such as Guild Wars Guru to reserve their district and help avoid some of this. Different guilds are bound to choose the same districts now and again, but the important thing is to keep the goal in mind: you want to provide a nice time for the people in the district, and watching an internet shoving match over who the district belongs to is not a nice time. If you arrive in a district prepared to host, only to find that it is already being hosted, wish everyone a happy Canthan New Year and move to the next district. If a district exists, it is because there are people there and they will be just as appreciative of your efforts as the ones in the last district. Share the wealth, and have fun!

This is just an overview of the Canthan New Year 2010 festivities, based on the consistent events in previous years. There are many more things and people to discover during the event, so spend some time exploring Lion's Arch, Kamadan, Shing Jea Monastery, and the boardwalk to see what else is going on. It's no fun if we give away all the surprises, is it?

See you next Monday, and enjoy the party!

This article was originally published on Massively.