This event heralds the start of what I call the Guild Wars party season. The pirate event is followed shortly thereafter by the Halloween event, then the Thanksgiving event, then Wintersday. In between are various community events as players and guilds throw parties to celebrate various holidays and milestones, and it's generally a few straight months of reveling.
Each type of event -- both community-created and developer-created -- has its own ups, downs, and quirks. Follow along as I take a look at what they are.
So many people are new to Guild Wars this year that these events are even more fun than usual in my eyes. If you're one of those people, you are in for a fun few months! While only a few of the events make a big, continent-wide splash, there are some great weekends just around the corner.
The beauty of these events is that even brand-new players can participate. When special items drop, they have an equal chance of dropping from every PvE enemy in the game, so you can begin participating pretty much straight out of character creation with the first creature you kill. Town events are held in both Lion's Arch and Kamadan, and if you create a character in Nightfall, Kamadan is the first city you'll visit.
Halloween is the next event and a personal favorite of mine -- in large part thanks to the Mad King Thorn and his so-bad-they're-good jokes. It's a huge party, traditionally continuing for over a week, and there is so much to do that you'll need that full week, particularly if this is your first experience with Halloween in Guild Wars. There are the traditional special drops (Trick or Treat Bags in this case); various towns are decorated in a spooky style; there are minigames everywhere; and there's always a huge crowd of collectors gathered, willing to trade for things that you've picked up while adventuring.
Last year was an exciting one for veteran players as the ArenaNet staff outdid itself -- and threw us all into a frenzy of waiting and wondering -- with a new quest arc that was revealed piece by piece over a period of time. It will be interesting to see if there is a similar update this year.
Next up is Thanksgiving, and while that's an American holiday, ArenaNet isn't one to leave anyone out of the party, so it's special drops for everyone! The event is called Special Treats Weekend, and enemies will drop pumpkin pie and hard apple cider, items that provide a buff and get you drunk, respectively. Hard apple cider is coveted both for the drunk title and for Keiran Thackeray, so you can be sure that most players will be out chasing it down in order to have a few spares for alts.
The year wraps up with Wintersday, and ArenaNet sets out to make a splash with this one. It's the final event of the calendar year, and it's huge. You'll find special drops, more decorated towns than any other festival, all sorts of minigames, and a long list of special quests. As during Halloween, you'll also receive the much-coveted hats at the end.
If you are new to Guild Wars and find it all a little overwhelming, fear not. Halloween and Wintersday are pretty big events, so I'll be devoting Flameseeker Chronicles to each of them with a new-player guide at the appropriate times, so keep an eye out.
If you're not a new player and have participated in the events for several years, enjoy the traditions! I know some players get frustrated at the "same old stuff" year after year, but to me that's like saying, "Ugh, we dress up for Halloween every year! Why do we do the same boring thing every time?" These are things we only get to do once a year -- enjoy them, have fun!
Community sponsored events
Community events are a big part of Guild Wars, and I strongly encourage everyone to participate in any that sound interesting. They really move into high gear this time of year with so many guilds celebrating various holidays.
If you're interested in hosting an event, there are some good suggestions floating around out there for making it a success, but they generally center around three principles. First, accept help. If people offer to pitch in, for heaven's sake, accept. The day of the event you are likely going to be bombarded with whispers, questions, and party invitations -- not to mention running the event itself. You're going to need all hands on deck both for preparation and for the party itself.
Second, it's not all about you. If you are doing a community event then make it about the community, not about gaining attention and praise for yourself. My rule of thumb is this: "If more people know the name of your character than the name of your event, you are doing something wrong." A truly successful community event will never have only a single character name attached to it anyway, because it should be a group effort -- by the community, for the community, to borrow a cliche.
Third, keep your guests entertained. You don't want to simply accumulate a few stacks of booze and announce that you're having a party. First, it's boring. Second, people will show up, snag their booze, and leave. You'll find yourself with an empty inventory and empty district in no time flat. Have a theme or a reason for the party; plan events, games, and so on; and keep to a general schedule.
I point to MantleCon as an example for any budding party-planners. This is one of the very few events that I think truly gets it right all the way around. The organizers have an army of people pitching in to help, and I don't mean just with donations -- they have so many players that participate and are a part of things from beginning to end. You should never find yourself soliciting donations more than once or twice. If you allow community members to be a part of things throughout, you'll find that the donations just roll in. While there are a few emcees here and there, you won't see posters saying things like "MantleCon starring Konig Des Todes." It's MantleCon not LookAtMeCon, and the organizers advertise the event rather than the people. Finally, the schedule of events is so huge it's like Disney World -- it's almost impossible to participate in everything. There are games, trivia, contests, even collectors, and it's all centered around the event theme. Attendees aren't bored simply because there is no time to be bored.
If you want to host a successful event, this is one I recommend you look to as an example. (Maybe plan on starting a little smaller. These guys have had several years to grow. Give yourself time.)
As long as we're on the subject of community and events, I thought I'd give an update about [MVOP]. Massively Overpowered [MVOP] is the Guild Wars guild for the Massively community. We began in Pre-Searing way back in the spring and have been meeting once a week to work our way through Prophecies. We have recently arrived in the Crystal Desert and are on our way to ascension. Elona Reach and Dunes of Despair are the missions on the calendar for this week, and everyone is welcome to join. We'll meet in Elona Reach Japanese district 1 at 9:00 p.m. EDT.
As we enter the party season in Guild Wars, I hope this guide serves as a good introduction to those of you who are new to the game and provides anticipation for those of you who are not. I'll see you next week!