I had a blast with tailoring but maybe a little more with cooking. I discovered some interesting ways to go about crafting to level up faster. I lingered in Brisban Wildlands before moving on to WvWvW because I had to catch some more video and screenshots to add to the gallery and wanted to make a snazzy new video.
Read on for more eye-popping screenshots, a recounting of my trials, and another round of voting.%Gallery-170307%
Being a fan of crafting, I was eager to make some armor and food buffs for myself and to sell on the trading post. Unfortunately, I wasn't very smart when I started tailoring. I went about it with no plan except to craft anything that would give me the best XP. I should've known better; fortunately, a reader helpfully reminded me to concentrate on the discovery section, as it gives out much more XP. If I had slowed down and paid a little more attention to crafting a wide variety of parts, I would have had many more items to discover with those parts. I ended up reaching level 36 -- still a novice, but I did much better as a chef.
Cooking is mega fun! The number and variety of buffs that do a gazillion-and-one things to do is impressive. I can make a burger that adds a small percentage toward condition-damage or a chocolate chip cookie that increases healing and damage. It's interesting to see stock buffs broken up into so many more specific benefits. I was pleased that a chef can cook so many different things for so many different reasons; I initially thought it would work toward a terrific barter system, but not so much. Because there are so many different buffs, each one has to be somewhat marginalized so it doesn't make others absolutely useless. This in turn seems to really lower the value of each buff. It's really not that hard to get by without the buffs at all, so they don't really open up a metagame for would-be merchants. I think what happens is that most players do use them, but they just craft for themselves to be done with it rather than sell on the market. I ended my cooking spree at level 173.
Ah, recognition. Once I unlocked all my basic staff skills, I immediately started gleefully playing with them. Winds of Chaos dishes out added burning, random conditions, and bleeding damage, then gives me might and fury plus random boons for my allies, all with decent range. I used Phase Retreat the most after Winds of Chaos. It's a great little skill with a short-enough cooldown, and it puts distance between me and my attackers while also spawning a clone that can take some heat off me so that I can look to popping other skills. I played my character as a long-range support for the majority of my time. Staying well out of range was the best option. I think my Mesmer would do OK in melee with the illusions I have, but I'm not as dextrous as I used to be. I opted for a playstyle that doesn't require such intense handling.
I bought all the skills you voted for, including a sixth because Illusion of Life and Arcane Thievery tied. However, I ended up using Radiation Field and Feedback the most. Both skills I found useful in WvWvW. Radiation Field has a large radius, is a combo field, and lasts 15 seconds. I used it every time it was available. Plus, you can boost condition duration and damage with buffs and armor sigils. I used Feedback a lot in PvP, especially when groups of opponents were bunched together. A six-second dome around opponents to block projectiles doesn't sound like a lot of time, but it's like trying to watch water boil in a PvP setting.
I decided to hold off on traits and try to streamline how you can vote for them. Last week, the winner was Illusion, followed by Domination. So I made a poll containing the 10-point traits in each of those categories. It'll be another way to create a unique build and stay away from too much min-maxing.%Poll-78965%%Poll-78972%
WvWvW is almost too much fun allowed in any game. The massive size of the maps with all the strategic events and group goals is a never ending romp that changes from moment to moment. I joined a large group of players and tore through re-capturing some keeps and supply points that had been taken near the waypoint. We were returning from claiming a second waypoint when the first keep we took fell under attack by a large wave of enemy players. Guild Wars 2 runs smoothly, you can see far into the distance, and the effects are eye-catching to say the least. I took a number of screenshots you can check out in the gallery.
I was slightly disillusioned to find that WvWvW really isn't equal fighting. Structured PvP is. I tried going toe-to-toe with other players, and I just get obliterated in a couple of seconds. You do get boosted to level 80, but gear and unlocked skills and traits play a significant part. The upside is that I can satisfy myself by running supply points in a safer area, sticking with a large group, or even repairing or building. But many PvP-lovers will not be satisfied with that. They want the best, most intense experience, and they like power. So there's still a progression mechanic that echoes World of Warcraft and other MMOs in that sense. GW2 just tries to spread it out more, and at the least, give everyone something he could do if he wanted.
If you take a look at this week's Stream Team guide, you'll see I'm livestreaming GW2 on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. EST. Feel free to join me on Sanctum of Rall and we can tear through some WvWvW together -- or whatever strikes our fancy.