Flameseeker Chronicles: Have a holly, jolly Wintersday

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Have a holly, jolly Wintersday
No holiday is complete without a terrifying element to give nightmares to small children
Wintersday is steadily creeping up on Tyria -- on both Tyrias, as it were: Guild Wars is getting its annual holiday decorations starting the 13th, and Guild Wars 2 will join in the festivities on the 14th. The holiday event lasts through January 2nd for Guild Wars and 3rd for Guild Wars 2, so maybe don't fret so much on when you're going to get in to enjoy the goings-on. That's a nice change from the somewhat abbreviated schedule of the October and November content updates.

But be warned, hero: There's a war on Wintersday. Don't believe me? Read on to find out.

Yeah, you heard me right. A war on Wintersday. Don't let ArenaNet fool you with its cutesy talk about the "wondrous workshop of toymaker Tixx" and how unifying the whole thing is. Modern Tyria has forgotten its roots and wandered away from the true meaning of Wintersday. Why, these days you can barely go around and greet folks with "may the light of Dwayna keep you safe" without offending some Charr or getting asked by a Sylvari why Dwayna's light is any different from the sun's.

Guild Wars remembers the true meaning of Wintersday.

Back in the day, Wintersday was all about reverence to the human gods. Sure, there was still festive decor up in most major cities, and kids could get excited about candy cane shards and Frosty tonics, but everyone knew what the holiday was all about: a battle between the gods themselves.

That's right! Wintersday is really about Grenth and Dwayna duking it out to see if spring begins early or late. Grenth, whose season is winter (the Season of the Colossus if you're old school), and Dwayna, the goddess of spring (the Season of the Zephyr), have a battle every year to see whether it's time for the Season of the Colossus to end and spring to brighten the world. And look how far we've fallen since then! I mean, I bet people in modern Tyria don't even remember the names of the three wise Norn. (They're Galbraum, Brartak, and Helga.)

Flameseeker Chronicles Have a holly, jolly Wintersday
Wintersday in the original Guild Wars means decorated towns, augmented drops (hellooooo, eggnog!), a dozen or so quests, and PvP matches in the Dwana vs. Grenth snowball fight arena. Players who supported Grenth went around helping his mischievous servants, Grentches, by destroying presents and battling snowmen. Supporters of Dwayna combated the Grentches by building snowmen, delivering gifts, and generally spreading joy and good cheer. It was a simpler time. Humans didn't have to worry about other races muddying their traditions, and the gods still, like, acted as if they cared.

Guild Wars' Wintersday appears, like a handful of events before it, to have been put on something like maintenance mode. It'll still have all the quests and joy from last year, but it won't have a new festival hat (although that does make it likely that people who missed out on earlier years' hats will be able to get a token to pick one up) or any new content.

That's not really surprising, given the amount of energy and time being spent on monthly updates for Guild Wars 2, but it is just the tiniest bit heartbreaking.

One thing I'll admit to liking a lot better in Guild Wars than its sequel is how festive attire is handled. Once you unlocked a festival hat for your account by obtaining one and showing it to a festival hat maker NPC, you could spawn as many copies of that hat for any character on your account that you liked. That greatly reduced inventory clutter and meant you didn't have to worry about accidentally losing your first-year Horns of Grenth. I can kind of understand cash shop items not getting that sort of unlock, but it'd be a really nice touch for in-game things like the Halloween witch's hat and whatever festive headgear I fully expect we'll obtain from the Wintersday event to get similar treatment.

Why do I expect that we'll be getting a hat for Wintersday? It's tradition, dagnabbit. Even if we're not standing on rings to show our support of the gods or playing Nine Rings with candy cane shards, it just wouldn't be Tyria without our festive hats! I'm not sure that I'd believe it was Wintersday at all if I didn't hear someone shouting "WHAT DO FOR HAT" in local chat. It just... it wouldn't be right. Some things can't change.

Now Wintersday appears to be all about Tyrians' common love of toys, which is nice and all, but you and I know that it's not quite the same.

Flameseeker Chronicles Have a holly, jolly Wintersday
I'll admit to being interested in seeing whether the recent Halloween update spoiled us to future holidays. It seems to me that ArenaNet has always a had a special love for Halloween; it certainly went all out with the Shadow of the Mad King. The devs have always done a splendid job with Wintersday, so I'm hoping we won't find that this holiday doesn't live up to expectations -- but gosh was there a lot in the Mad King update! There were some updates and fixes, new events, holiday decorations, holiday events, a jumping puzzle, the Mad King's realm, two sPvP modes, a dungeon, new items, and new crafting recipes.

It looks like we'll be seeing a jumping puzzle as well as more snowball mayhem. Holiday decorations are granted at this point and we'll have city-based events as Toymaker Tixx makes his way to Lion's Arch. I'm holding out hope that if we do get a holiday dungeon, it'll be held in the Secret Lair of the Snowmen for old times' sake. I'm probably doomed to disappointment there, but what are dreams for if not for crushing? We're told that we'll visit Tixx's "amazing toyland and play the whole night through." In addition, there's a "bell choir" game mode that we'll get to explore.

Another time-honored tradition of Wintersday is, of course, cash shop costumes. The Halloween costumes were fabulous, and I fully expect another tempting offering for this Wintersday. While it seems unlikely that we'll be getting outfits based on the human gods, a festive outfit or two seems like a safe bet.

Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at elisabeth@massively.com.
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