Guild Wars 2 was developed with new ideas like eliminating the Holy Trinity, no backtracking to quest givers, everybody is a healer and so forth. But one thing they haven’t eliminated is “Grinding”. By Grinding I mean repetitive game play that is the most efficient way to move forward in the game.
I’ve played 6 characters from level 1 to level 40’s and recently started one – an Elementalist. When I reached level 17, I wanted to level to 20 to wear armor that I’d crafted so it seemed that Grinding Champions in Queensdale was the most efficient way to level quickly. I kept track of the progress and here are those results.
This is not a complete description of champion grinding in Queensdale. The GW2 forums or wiki will provide better descriptions. It’s an overview of what’s required to level in this way, with examples and my observations about how GW2 really does seem to include a lot of Grinding.
Grinding on Champions
There are six Champion bosses in Queensdale, or at least there are six that spawn on a regular schedule. Champions are world bosses that require a large number of folks to kill. Veterans can be solo’ed but are tougher than regular mobs. Champions are much tougher. Typically it takes more than 10 players to take down a champion. They drop better loot and give better Exp and killing them counts as an Event, which has many achievement advantages.
A recent update increased the health of champions and reduced the timers – which apply in some events – for how long groups have to kill them.
The champions spawn in a rotation in Queensdale:
Boar > Troll > Bandit > Oak > Spider > Wasp > Boar
Spider and Wasp don’t always occur, but the others are very reliable. So a train of players develops that goes round and round killing the champions in sequence. Grinding.
From level 17 > 20 doing pretty much only these I was able to reach level 20 in 3 1/2 hours. Or a little less than one level per hour. During this time I made about 2 Gold or about 20,000 coins, both directly from loot and from sale of loot that I didn’t need. And there were many items that I didn’t sell but I recycled for crafting materials.
Grinding is efficient since you don’t need to visit banks to dump crafting materials – you can dump them directly from your bags at any time to the bank – and you also can quickly sell your items at the Trading Post [to other players] without visiting an NPC. I adopted a scheme of recycling any blue items, and selling green items at the trading post. There is also junk that accumulates in your bags so that occasional trips to an NPC is required to sell that, but there is an NPC on the way to the boar so you don’t need to go out of your way.
I typically did the sequence of Boar > Troll > Oak > Boar skipping the bandit since it is a long run through a cave and I usually didn’t make it to the spider. The wasp rarely spawns so I only did it twice in the 3.5 hours. There is usually a few minute wait at the Boar and the Oak. My character moves at +25% speed due to a glyph buff, but this cannot keep up with high level players with much faster running buffs. This makes the bandit and spider less useful since I would usually be late to the fight and not have time to get in enough damage for a Gold reward.
At the end of the event, even if you leave it and are far away, you receive the reward at Gold [best], Silver or Copper level. Gold level is between 530-570 Exp for a character between levels 17-20. Karma and coin are also rewarded directly.
To get the rest of the loot you need to be present at the corpse and pick up additional gear, coin and loot. The rewards scale with your level with Exp of about 5-6% of a level per event. So, for a level 17 character, you get about 530 Exp out of a total of 9270 total exp to level to level 18. This means that it takes 15-20 champion events to level up, no matter what level you are.
Two things seem odd about this scheme that ArenaNet has designed into the game.
- This is a lot of repetitive grinding in the game. This cheapens the loot that is for sale in the Trading Post since there is so much loot at all levels being dropped in these events.
- Since this is the most efficient way to level, you find players of all levels grinding on champions in Queensdale. Apparently the Events and other content in this low level area are influenced by the fact that there are many high level players playing here. For example, a recent update increased the health and lowered the time for these events. I guess these events in this 1-15 level area were not challenging enough for the high level players.
Tower of Nightmares
There has been some new content added, possibly because of Halloween, or possibly just to make things different or more interesting. The content is called Tower of Nightmares and it refers to a tower that has appeared in a lake in Kessex Hills, a level 15-25 area. By the way, did I mention that you should not go to Kessex Hills until you are level 35, and probably not until you are level 40. More on that later.
The Tower content causes two event chains to occur in queensdale as well. In these cases toxic flowers spawn with loads of veteran and elite and other mobs surrounding them. These mobs spawn at a rapid rate over a period of a few minutes and then the flower dies. The content here is much more challenging than the champions. The loot dropped is about the same, but the difficulty of completing an event is much higher. THere are other drops from veteran and elite mobs, but for characters lower than level 30, the chance of dying is much higher even though you are playing in a level 1-15 area. Again, as I mentioned in a previous post, lower level players are significantly disadvantaged. During the champion events, I had no trouble staying alive and almost always got a gold reward. With the Tower events I ususally was downed and when not saved by another player, I died which cost repair costs, time and reward level since I was out of the fight for much of the time.
Guild Wars 2 has changed much about the way we play and think about MMOs. But the grinding is still there. Oddly enough, both Tera and World of Warcraft have much less grinding. In Wow, I found my self grinding a dungeon for a particular achievement to get a mount. And sometimes I did a dungeon several times, but usually I queued for multiple dungeons and so each time it was another dungeon. In GW2, these champion events appear to be a replacement for low level dungeons, but the design feels more like grinding and less like productive game play.