[GW2] The Intense Marionette Academy

It took me awhile to see a problem with the Marionette. It wasn’t until the weekend warriors arrived that I felt that ArenaNet pushed too far with the Marionette.

The Marionette in a closed box is a really fun experience. The lane fighting seems really balanced because it pushes the lane defenders just enough. If there isn’t a champion watchwork getting close to the gate then a champion Aetherblade is running amok in the back lines. Then during the “arena” boss phase the intensity of the fight increases ten-fold as the lane lives or dies based on the performance of one of their five platforms.

The problem is on the platforms. There are new boss mechanics that are perfect for the action-oriented Guild Wars 2. The first boss has front-arc immunity so one player has to basically “tank” so the others can wail away on the back. The second boss has immunity until it can be lead to run over its own mines. And so on. 

Each boss has to be learned, and outside of some very specific dungeon bosses there is nowhere for a casual weekend warrior to learn the fights except in map chat. The commanders do their best, but like many game mechanics, one has to experience the situation to fully comprehend what the commander’s ALL CAPS words actualy meant.

What makes it worse is that unlike a dungeon – where this type of failure-learning is the norm – the player’s next try won’t be for another two hours.

I am really glad that ArenaNet is pushing the boundaries of their creature designs. Last night in the marathon Relics of Orr dungeon stream (Arah, all minion masters), I made note sometime during those three hours that the Toxic Alliance is probably the best “army” to date. The boss designs on the Marionette’s platforms are also quite fun, and I hope ArenaNet continues the trend.

I hope that ArenaNet gives the players a bit more control in how to learn these new mechanics. A good hindsight solution would have been to have veteran-level versions of the platform bosses staged at the thumpers. Then as players collect their power cores they keep experiencing the new mechanic.

As a final note, I will say that the Triple Threat wurms did have really good “teaching”, but that challenge is for a different crowd too… one that can pick up a mechanic by watching it happen once before the fight.

If it is your first time playing the Marionette, or if you don’t understand all the platforms, take some time to whisper the commander. Any bit of understanding goes a long way since teaching under extreme pressure leads to a lot of failure and zone destruction.

–Ravious

16 thoughts on “[GW2] The Intense Marionette Academy”

  1. As frustrating as the rush of “weekend warriors” is, the fight mechanics aren’t that hard on the marrionette. I’d be surprised if we don’t see random (not TTS style) overflows succeeding regularly after this weekend. Bigger issue that some reddit comments are getting at is the warp to platform being somewhat busted, your toon is in combat before the scene reveals on your client, and you often get the scene revealed with your toon already in a downed state. The soft limits on the map (100 or so players?) punish main map for each AFKer idling when the event starts, since ideally we want 20+ per lane (with 5 lanes) with the whole lane jumping into the portal to get at least 5 per platform.

    Slightly off topic, hats off to those patiently getting the PUGs organized pre-fight, you are appreciated.

  2. I think a random post on the GW2 forums I read said it best. This fight isn’t so much challenging on an individual’s level of dodging skill and reading mechanics (though there is still degrees of challenge there for different individuals) but testing one’s teaching ability and the strength of the community as a whole.

    As Josh Foreman said, the devs are trying to teach the players a new skill, “self-organization.”

    It’s going to be stressful and frustrating for a while yet, and this is going to come out from different players as either channeled negativity or positivity.

    This is the chance of the GW2 community culture to show what they are made of – if more are positive than negative, we can actually push the collective skill level of the population upwards from teaching, or horror of horrors, stepping up to lead, or even say a few words in say chat to interact with strangers and turn them into friends to be helped.

    I’m actually personally frustrated enough to be working on a visual guide to some of marionette’s AoE patterns, and am considering if I can deal with volunteering to pre-organize a tiny part of a wurm fight.

    I’m starting to realize that it’s not all on the shoulders of the few who stepped up to lead and the silent majority following lazily along. It’s also about at least some of the silent majority making an effort outside their comfort zone to do what they can – be it step up to lead, provide a small tip, exercise a little patience, or just learn to do something new – like what kite/lure means, or how to recall a pet.

    Whatever level we’re at, we need to push it up one step along in order to succeed. Together.

    1. I agree, but the more ArenaNet brings in for Living World challenges that are different from anything else in the game the harder it is going to be to self-organize. It is one thing to say “the bosses are like the centaurs” and give the casual player a frame of reference, it’s another to try and teach a whole new concept through words.

      I applaud you for the visual guide and I hope it is well read. You definitely work hard on community. Hopefully a lot of karma will come your way. :)

      1. That guide happening entirely depends on if I have the TIME to capture enough screenshots though. :)

        On the point of the spawns being too far apart in time for folks to learn via repetition, I entirely agree with you.

        I’m getting very sidetrekked by being in Bloodtide Coast on wurm attempts too, reducing the opportunity to be in marionette fights. I don’t actually have a clue what’s been going on in Lornar’s Pass over the past few days, and the kick in the pants for me even attempting a guide is because I’m personally getting mauled by not yet knowing where the AoE patterns are going to land.

        My graphics settings are super cranked down, because an experiment in tweaking them up just produced lag in drawing models. It is NOT fun to spawn in to an invisible champion that you KNOW is there, but but, where is IT?! Boom, goes the close range bomb from a warden one entirely didn’t see. *growl*

        Cranking down settings alas makes it hard to read animation tells. :/

        And I’ve been downed to loadscreen load-in into AoE at least once.

        I’m really praying that the marionette is not merely a two week affair, but month long, because I don’t think the community can adapt -that- quickly in two weeks. A month? Probably.

    2. This was put really well. It hi lights where Anet has failed – some mechanic to bring a server together. Thought WvW might be it but there is no ‘big red button’ that appears with success in WvW. This event thought makes people pay attention to map chat at least.

  3. The difference between the Marionette midweek and weekend is very obvious but I don’t think it has an awful lot to do with lack of explanation. I’ve done it many times now and mostly the particular foibles of each Warder and the necessary strategies are accurately and repeatedly outlined for at least 15 minutes before the puppet comes down. Links to dulfy and YouTube are often included.

    As you say, you still need to experience the actuality to put the advice into context, but unless we assume there are a ton of players who only ever do the event once, that doesn’t account for the serial failures of many players even to attempt to execute the outlined strategies.

    More likely what happens is that a number of players pay absolutely no attention. I stood on our cleared platform yesterday watching five people on the adjacent circle deliberately pin warder one against the edge, facing them, and proceed to try and burn him down for over a minute. This despite not only the careful and detailed explanations before they went in but further clear explanations of the mechanics from those of us in the instance as it was happening.

    I was in a Mari run yesterday when four consecutive lanes failed on Warder 1. Explanations were repeated at every stage and all you have to do is turn him around! Someone suggested that a lot of people don’t understand English, which I doubt. I can only imagine they either don’t care if they succeed or not (quite likely), intentionally fail as a griefing mechanism (unlikely in random groups of five but by no means impossible) or they simply have map chat switched off.

    Either that or there really are some very unskilled or inexperienced players indeed who only play at weekends. I know we have a friend in our guild who plays GW2 for precisely two hours every Sunday morning, has done for months, and that’s all he plays. Could be there are a lot in that boat.

    Just the same, I like the event a lot. It’s good, knockabout fun and we all get good rewards even if we don’t sever even one chain (I think the average is two for me so far, with one complete success, one four, a handful of threes, a lot of twos and the odd one. Never had zero yet although I hear it happens). I do it for the entertainment, particularly the lane defense, and for the fragments of cyphers. The chests in Scarlet’s Lair seem to be where the real material rewards for this event are in any case and you can get those without ever severing a single chain.

    As for the Wurm, I think that’s admirably inclusive too. Unlike Teq, which was a nightmare even to get bronze, we seem to have fallen into a pattern of picking one wurm and killing that, rotating the color every two hours so people can fill out their achievements. That makes it a fast, fun event at a casual level, which Teq certainly isn’t.

    Overall I give Marionette 4* and Wurm 3* (out of 5).

    1. Failure on the part of the person with aggro to understand that he has aggro and what to do about it. People with highest toughness/vitality get it, and often, those are the ones that haven’t read guides about how great crit damage is, and feel they need the extra survivability.

      Possible desire to get dodge achievements by being mobile in the wrong ways. Possible graphics settings or network interference. Possible lack of understanding of the technical terms being used – ‘kite?’ ‘lure?’

      I was in a failed chain 1 where the person with aggro ran in a HUGE loop around the outer edge. To him, it kept him alive. The rest of us were failing to reach its back with melee and had to resort to ranged attacks, not the most ideal, and we were late on the power gen as a result.

      It’s true that it’s almost impossible to type communicate in the midst of the fight though, so it’s hard to correct something’s that gone wrong midway in battle.

    2. I think you’re completely right about the lack of attention. Had an incident where lanes 2, 3 and 4 all failed the minelaying Warder, even though myself and a couple of others were putting the tactics into map chat before the event began and before each group went in – the champ will be invulnerable until you kite it over its own mines and stun it.

      Just before lane 5 tries, some guy from lane 4 complains that the “buggy champ was perma-invulnerable, gj Anet” The invulnerability had been repeatedly explained as a game mechanic they had to defeat, but this guy went to far as to assume it was a bug. If he’d read chat he would have known better.

      As much effort as you can try to put into telling people what’s going to happen, if you can’t make them read you in the first place the entire operation can be doomed.

      I agree that the event is a lot of fun and rewards well even in defeat, though the 2-hour timer and the sheer difficulty involved in getting into your server’s home instance are major drawbacks and prevent more people from really getting to grips with the tactics required.

  4. A common pattern I’ve seen in overflows that fail the marionette: Lane 1 will go perfectly, easily defeating their warden. Lanes 2, 3 and 4 will fail to defeat the second, the minelayer. Lane 5 will defeat the minelaying warden but the third or fourth wardens will wipe the attempt.

    This pattern is interesting to me, because I think it supports what you say about needing to personally see tactics in action and not just an explanation. It seems standard strategy that we leave lanes 4 and 5 “undermanned” and rotate spare people from lane to lane after they finish fighting their wardens

    lane 1 is victorious and reinforces lane 4,
    2 fails and reinforces 5,
    3 fails and reinforces 1,
    and so on.

    In my experience Lane 5 is often the lane that defeats the minelayer. It is also the lane that received reinforcements from lane 2, who were the first to fight the minelayer. The experience of lane 2’s “minelayer veterans” is an advantage none of the previous lanes have had in sufficient numbers so far in the fight. A higher proportion of people who go through the portal know how the goal is achieved and that makes the difference.

    At least, I think that’s what’s going on. All I know is It Keeps Happening.

    1. The reinforcing mechanic you described is how Fatal Attraction [FAP] got server first on marionette = )

    2. I saw the attitude that the minelayer was the nasty one on an overflow today too, but my experience differed. What I was used to seeing was lanes 1 and 2 succeeding on the first try and then failing four times on the third warden (bombs exploding everywhere).

      Maybe there’s an attitude difference. Minelayer’s not bad if you know what to do, but the third and fourth seem to require the most maneuvering and stuff even when you know the mechanics. (And the fifth is an AoE DPS race.)

  5. My comment above was written last night as I was tabbed waiting for the Three-Headed Wurm. After I posted it I did another Marionette run which went much as expected (two chains severed). I observed exactly the pattern Kett Shee observes, with lanes 2, 3 and 4 failing on Warder 2 before 5 beat him. I’ve seen it often and it explains why I get so many 2s.

    The final run of the night, two hours later, was very different. Lanes 1 to 4 each knocked off their warder in one go. I was in lane 3. I now have good experience of the first three warders and can hold my end up on any of them, except when, as happened twice yesterday on 3, my character is already downed as the image of the platform appears on screen.

    Lane 5 failed on Warder 5. From reports in map a lot of people ignored the repeated exhortations to “stack at regulator”. Lane 1, where Mrs Bhagpuss was, then picked up the dropped baton and finished the race, making my first win on my second account and bagging the achievement.

    Whether that success indicates that later in the day more people had had time to see more of the warders in previous runs I couldn’t say for certain but on a Sunday when people tend to play longer sessions it seems quite likely. It would also explain why 5 failed, because few would have seen warder 5 in action before. I’ve only seen him once (beat him, my only other full event Win, on my first account). I’ve never seen warder 4 at all.

    I’d also note that the community spirit is *much* better on pretty much every overflow I’ve been on than on my home server. I think people feel lighter and less stressed on OF possibly because it somehow seems less “real” and the responsibility feels less onerous.

  6. My experience: Last 3 Marionette for me was on overflow, result:
    1. 4/5 chains severed, with 4 bosses down on chain 5 (boss 5 ~25%)
    2. Marionette down
    3. Marionette down

    Zoned in maybe 10-15 min in advance. So was std. overflow. There is a massive improvement on success in my experience since start so I think they hit it pretty much right. Had she been a permanent boss she would have ended as a loot piñata. Have faith ppl learn – new bosses only been available for a week!

    Also, on a side note. Overflow Wyrm, my last 3 tries yielded 2 bronze chests. Will take a coordinated team to down all three flopping heads, but pugs can piggy back those attempts and get some boosted loot now and again and pure overflow will learn (actually have already) to get a few chests killing one or two of the heads – or maybe even more…

    What REALLY bugs me is the attitude of some players in map chat. Namely the ones hating on others w/o any try to help or explain (e.g A$$h0l3s gusting my server gtfo ya stealing my spot FU etch etc)

    Haxr, Necro – Desolation

  7. The reason I find the encounter frustrating is one of design. Tobold discussed this in a post back in 2009.

    This is a “Type C: Test the Weakest” encounter. The group succeeds or fails based on the performance of the least capable members. The performance of the best members is largely irrelevant. “Test the Weakest” isn’t a bad design, though it can be frustrating — you can work between runs with your weakest members, help them with advice, and cheer for them when they succeed. So, for a raid team, it can work.

    But with a very large pickup group of complete strangers? Uh… no, no thanks.

    I haven’t seen the “success” graphic of the marionette. If I want to, I can look it up on youtube — but I’ve squeezed all of the fun I can out of it. I’ve helped hold my lane. I’ve beaten my platforms. I can truly say that I’ve gotten any skill gains or personal satisfaction out of it that is there to be had. The opportunity to see the “you win!” graphic isn’t enough of an incentive for me to run it repeatedly looking for random chance to deal me a winning team.

    Not a bad encounter per se. But very much put into the wrong place — not really “PuG” friendly.

    1. The big exception, or flavorant, is that this can be more “Bolster the Weakest”. It’s not just how good can I play, but how aware am I in helping those that have less skill than me. Not many games allow for that.

      Last night, Mrs. Ravious and I were joined by Zubon in a random overflow. We won with 2-3 chain failures, but we won because there were enough people communicating and responding in map chat to bolster other lanes and move where necessary. It was intense, challenging, and fun.

      It still can be frustrating. Seeing a platform wipe raises my blood pressure, but I am still having more fun, despite many failures, than not. I like this kind of community event.

    2. It’s a Type B encounter. Stronger players can support weaker players, though a certain minimum performance would be ideal from everyone.

      Eg. One chain 1 I did had a bearbow pinning the warden against the edge. Cue screaming, right? One person on the platform started to do that, I ran up and started feeling out the extent of the pin and if it wasn’t a fully perpendicular pin.

      It wasn’t. I could hit it from one side, and I said, “attack from the side.” The person that was about to go toxic on the bearbow said “got it” and ran up to join me in melee cleaving it. We took it down, and the bear actually helped by holding it still, regardless of the frontal firing ranger.

      To counter the bad ranger example, I give another chain 1 where the ranger had an owl holding aggro 3/4 from the edge. Kept it nicely stationary for everyone else.

      Plus boss 3 focuses as much on teamwork and quick rezzes as it does on quick reflexes. I’ve lost chain 3s where the guy who thinks he’s the most pro refuses to rez anyone and then runs out of time trying to dps down the boss by himself. Or he wipes.

      I’ve won at least two chain 3s where there was always 2-3 players down at any one time but everyone was super quick on rezzes and had skills for it, allowing everyone to quickly recover and defeat the boss together. End result: all five standing on our platform, generator broken.

      It’s really testing the cooperative mindset over a selfish one.

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