I was in Disney World when Tequatl hit. It was interesting to see the race for world first from an out-of-game, and by the time I returned on Friday the meta had mostly solidified around the updated world boss fight. Across the weekend I felt I had a pretty good look at the event and the community surrounding it.
Stacking The Main Event
Tequatl of old required little thought. There was no danger of being near the dragon. In fact with the additional enemies roaming the exterior marshes it was more dangerous away from the dragon. There was a laser few people cared about, and I guess some turrets or something. Outside of a few fears there was not much to do besides press #1 and watch the nightly news before a rare popped out of Tequatl’s right arm. Some things have changed, and some remain the same.
The event now requires significant coordination. At least three groups have to be fighting the dragon. One group of six have the most difficult job of firing the turrets. Another group, preferably around 20, is split between the two groups of turrets to defend them from attacking enemies. The final group, the zerg, is one again on Tequatl’s right arm, but at least this time not without consequence.
Getting back to the turrets, their job is to keep Tequatl’s invulnerability timer down and to keep the zerg buffed with poison cleanses and attack speed increases. It’s a fun job, but this manning a turret is also one of the keys to winning or losing the fight. Get someone less skilled on a turret, and it’s not going to be a good time. The small group defending the turrets usually don’t have too difficult a job, from what I have seen. Kite, heal, and damage is the usual of the day for them.
The zerg’s current strategy, in my opinion, is just a face palm: Stack. It seems like a good strategy, and with all the skills and builds built around maximizing the stack I congratulate the community on getting back as close to old Tequatl as possible. Stack on the right arm and DPS (damage-per-second) the crap out of Tequatl. The stack allows for most efficient reflective barriers against poison attacks, and it allows the best coverage for the turrets to buff as many people as possible. And with Guild Wars 2 active combat it feels silly to just stand there holing up as much as possible.
15-minute Fish Heads
The main reason for the stack is that players now only have 15 minutes to beat down Tequatl. The finesse of dodging shockwaves and taking out tendrils is a waste of time. It’s another layer of difficulty, which I feel has constrained the community. The stack is one possibly self-imposed constraint. I can just imagine the fight developed to have all these poison fields around the battlefield, Tequatl’s fingers throwing players around, and Tequatl’s stomps requiring player movement… so what do players do – move as little as possible.
It feels silly, but then without the stack I cannot imagine how it was expected to get Tequatl’s life down in 15 minutes. If players were more mobile they would lose DPS. For me, it’s a head scratcher. Did the developers want a stack (DPS vs. time limit) or did they want a mobile battlefield (mechanics of the fight)? I honestly am not sure.
I know in response to at least DPS, the community is also making use of consumables like Fire Elemental Powder, which for a silver and some change, summons a fire elemental to fight by your side. All the non-pet classes now have pet DPS, and rangers can of course summon one too for double the fun. I completely understand how potions that increase undead damage could have been designed in to the fight, but all the weird consumables seem to make a mess of things, once again. The other technique is to use elementalist summoned weapons having a handy bug that ignores uptime. Apparently the summoned weapons have ungodly DPS on world bosses. (Too much of a tangent for this post, but world bosses ignore crits and most condition damage, which destroys 2 of the 3 offensive prongs elsewhere in the game. Condition users and crit monsters seek adventure elsewhere.)
When I am in a good group, the fight is an amazing experience. As much as I hate the stack, it can be fun during Tequatl’s stun phase to completely unload on the dazed dragon. Good groups have a lot of clever ways to shave off time. For example at each quarter of Tequatl’s life, he flies off and players have to defend three different batteries to load up the laser. If a solid defense is built, players should be leaving the batteries around 10 seconds to stack up for Tequatl’s stun phase. A poor defense will require that players stay until the end and miss critical seconds of the stun phase. For me, this is how the differences between winning and losing should be made.
The best I’ve beaten Tequatl is with 2:30+ minutes remaining. The most exciting times though were taking him down in that final minute where all cards are thrown on the table. It is a really fun fight, but it requires a lot of the community. It can also leave really poor experiences where no one gets organized and everybody is way out of their depth. It just creates a wasted and unrewarding time.
Scales and Rewards
If a player beats Tequatl once per daily reset, the rewards are magniflorious. The player gets 4 account bound shaky chests tied to each quarter of Tequatl’s life taken in addition to a character-bound dragon chest at the edge of the beach. After that it basically becomes unrewarding to try and win again. Obviously daily failures will net something because the quarter-life chests are nicely rewarding, but as they are once-per-day a player will only get each quarter-life chest the first time that day they got Tequatl to that quarter of life.
Compared to the nicely rewarding Scarlet Invasions (even when failed), keeping a community around Tequatl after that first daily win is difficult. Consider that around server reset time the server’s A-Team are bullying for Tequatl. It’s an exclusive event because of zone population caps, and then after a try or two Tequatl gets destroyed. The A-Team is mostly done. There are better ways to spend one’s time in the game since the bulk of the daily chests are completed.
Time and time again I’ve seen the community rise up to the B-team challenge whether in creating a new guild (TEQ) or simply having a second-strong commander who does an amazing job. Still, before this update Colin said there would be “every-time” rewards, which make more sense for content that is so difficult.
Time and Tide
A community built up a long time ago around the dragon hour way before it was even rewarding to do so. I expect the same from ArenaNet. I also expect changes will come to Tequatl. This was ArenaNet’s first try at open-world raid content. There are a few bugs. I do not imagine the flock of embers assault to stay around as Teq-meta. I expect like usual they will respond.
For me, I am having fun. It’s a different way to play Guild Wars 2 both in the Tequatl instance and in the 1.5 hour wait where I am incredibly productive around the household. Yesterday I easily managed to smoke a pork butt, clean the house for guests, manage the kids, and enjoy a Tequatl raid every now and then throughout a nice Sunday. It was a nice flow compared to the constant Scarlet invasions that happened a month ago.