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.