MUST READ: Our first look at the OnePlus 2

Flameseeker Chronicles: The faction grind in PvE

Friday's surprise confirmation of the Guardian class in Guild Wars 2 is the subject on everyone's mind, and initially I thought I'd cover it in this week's Flameseeker Chronicles. However, anything before Thursday's official reveal will only be more speculation without hard facts, and we've had more than enough of that over the past few months.

With that in mind, I decided to save the Guardian for the end of the week, when I'll do my usual full rundown and analysis of the new class. Today's topic will be the one I originally had in mind: the Guild Wars faction grind. If you watched last Thursday's MVOP outing on our Livestream channel, you know we arrived at House zu Heltzer and need to accumulate 10,000 Kurzick faction before we can proceed. (If you missed it, by the way, check it out under "Latest Videos" at the bottom of our Livestream page.)

Our goal to gain that faction before next Thursday, combined with the fact that Savior of the Kurzicks has been the only thing standing between my main and GWAMM for well over a year, set me to thinking about the PvE side of the faction grind in Guild Wars. As one of the many PvE-only players in Guild Wars, I thought it might be fun to take a look at what is involved in making that climb up the faction ladder -- it can get a little overwhelming! If it's a title that interests you, one that seems like an overwhelming uphill climb, I've got a few basics to help you get underway (or back on track). Follow along after the jump and let's look at what is undoubtedly the closest thing Guild Wars has to true MMO grind.

Variety is the spice of... killing stuff

Don't get me wrong -- I've done more than my share of Drazach Thicket Speed Clears -- but the fastest way to turn anything into a boring grind is to stick with a single method and ignore your other options. It's a long trek to Savior of the Kurzicks, but there are so many ways to get there. Even if you're a PvE purist and prefer to stay away from Alliance Battles, Jade Quarry, and Fort Aspenwood, there are all sorts of avenues to explore.

Vanquishing in the Echovald forest or Jade Sea is the first and most obvious option, and it's one of the most profitable in the bargain. You get faction for each creature you kill, and once you've killed everything, you get a faction bonus equal to 50 times the number of enemies you killed (for example, killing 100 foes would net you a 5,000 faction bonus at the end of the vanquish). Several areas, such as Ferndale on the Kurzick side, contain quests within the explorable that can be done during the vanquish to increase your reward both during the vanquish and at the end.

Of course, you only get all of this faction if you remember to fork over your 100 gold to the Kurzick or Luxon priest at the start of the vanquish, so check your pockets before you head out. I really suggest that you vanquish every area in the area that you are focusing on, for several reasons. First, it keeps things new and interesting for a little longer. I can promise you that if you're aiming for R12 Kurzick or Luxon, you are going to get bored with the grind at some point. it's best to put that off as long as possible.

Second, not all vanquishes are as efficient as others, and while it's important to try to make the most of your time in this regard, it's also really important to remember that at the core of all of this, you are playing a game for fun and entertainment. Try all the available vanquishes to see which ones you particularly enjoy and which ones drive you insane with frustration. Is there a boss you hate tangling with or a route that frustrates you? Even if it's a bit more efficient than something else, it's simply not worth it if you leave the computer more stressed out and irritated than you were when you started. So take some time to get a feel for the areas so you can focus on ones you like.

Even with all the different areas available, vanquishing a few hundred times is going to get a little dull after a while, so take a break and check out the other options. If you haven't tried the Kurzick and Luxon challenge missions, I cannot recommend highly enough that you make it a priority. Challenge missions are fun. They're a fast-paced race against the clock in which you see how long you can keep going and continue raking in faction points.

Each side has two to offer, one with an offensive focus and one with a defensive focus, so play through them both to see which you prefer. Altrumm Ruins on the Kurzick side is my favorite -- it's a kill-run-kill style mission in which the goal is to kill enemy NPCs and retrieve the amber they were trying to steal. Each dropped piece of amber you pick up gives you 15 faction, and as I'm a fan of both tangible rewards and instant gratification, I love seeing that little blue "+15" pop up on my screen every time I grab some amber. There are four bosses in different areas of the map that respawn regularly; killing them gives you a time bonus on the countdown timer. When the timer hits zero, the mission is over, and you receive a small faction and gold bonus on top of what you earned during the mission.

The details differ from mission to mission, but the foundation of each is a combination of fast-paced killing and strategy, and it's a great break from the faction grind.

These are two of the best methods for ongoing faction gain, in large part because they're very easy to jump in and out of with minimal preparation, unlike methods such as speed clearing. Even the casual or hero/hench-only player can make steady faction progress this way.

However, there are a few other tips for maximizing your playtime to enjoy yourself, make progress, and keep from getting horribly bored. Check out the faction quests, make sure you've done all of the non-repeatable ones everywhere, and spend some quality time on the repeatable ones. Make sure, when you're turning in faction, that you're doing it in a method that will gain you the most return. Exchanging faction points for Kurzick or Luxon skills adds double points to your title track, as does donating faction to your guild. Unless you want amber, jade, or passage scrolls more than you want the title, it's not worth it to do those, because they give a 1 for 1 point return.

As you work toward your faction title, you'll pick up all sorts of little tricks and preferences, but this covers the basics and will keep things fun and new for a good long time.

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.