GW2 vs. Zerg at Crown Pavilion



Rant time warning! 

As I posted last week, my interest in GW2 has been rekindled a bit with the announcement of yesterday’s update – The Festival of the Four Winds. It was nice to see the (short) interactions between Ellen and the Zephyrite elder, as well as the NPC heroes from the previous Living Story. It’s been stated that this is mostly a festival update, so I didn’t expect a lot of story here. It was just enough to give the players an update on what’s happening with the Lion’s Arch restoration and point us towards the two festivals at the Bazaar and the Pavilion.

That’s where the trouble begins.

Anet Fights the Zerg (And the Zerg Loses?)

Anet has done a lot to try and fight the zerg mentality that permeates much of the GW2 community. I’m not sure what they think is going to happen when they throw everyone in megaservers (in order to… you know… increase population per instance), while trying to discourage people from playing together in large groups. It doesn’t quite make sense.

First thing’s first — they eliminated the champ trains that were chugging along in the low level areas. I never took part in the champ trains (missed opportunity?), but I’m actually all for this change. The newbie area is not the place for highlevel character rampages. The fact that people were chewed out by the train for activating champ battles when the train wasn’t there, and that they dictated the flow of events across the whole zone was just not right.

Not only did this teach new players the wrong way to approach GW2, but it also created a toxic environment for newcomers straight out of the gate. Not the kind of thing Anet wanted, I’m sure. And that’s only fair.

But then, they start messing with other things, such as the Crown Pavilion. That’s where my grump comes in.

Changes to the Crown Pavilion


I’d like to argue that a little bit of zerg isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, I enjoy zerging from time to time, as long as there’s a balance of content to do. In my mind, that’s what the original Crown Pavilion was for. On the lower level, the zerg had their fun by stomping randomly spawning bosses and picking up loot from daily chests and boss drops.

On the upper level, those who wanted challenge and tactics could try their mettle against the tougher bosses one on one. While I have no interest in the gauntlet at all, I totally enjoyed running around the Pavilion, bringing my lowbie mesmer alt in to level him. I’m pretty sure I spent hours there, scoring decent drops and cash, and leveling him a good 10+ levels the first time around.

I picked up the very same mesmer (who I haven’t leveled much since then) and headed back to the Pavilion yesterday with high hopes. Only to see the mess that’s been made of the bosses on the lower level.

This has now become a tactical event that you have to pay to launch. All bosses spawn at one time, with the idea that everyone on the map should break into little groups to take on the bosses within a certain amount of time. This wins the higher prize… I guess. I don’t know. I never saw it.

This… did not work.

Instead, you get folks zerging a single boss, which ramps them up to incredible difficulties, and utterly destroys any enjoyment I had in the original version of the Pavilion. Not only that, but bosses are now gimmicky with their own little tactics you have to figure out in order to beat them. Some of those gimmicks weren’t readily apparent — when you see a healing turret, yes, you kill it. But what the heck am I supposed to do with piles of bird seed?

A common view for me last night. Stupid centaurs!

Tip: If you’re going to put tactics in the fight, don’t make it so I need to read a boss guide before coming to the supposedly “fun” event just to know how to live through the fight. That’s not fun.

So, instead of having a well-organized  approach to a 7 minute event and earning gold… my instance had a zerg mess that took over 20 minutes to down Boom Boom Baines alone. I spent over two hours there to complete my boss achievements and only saw the event completed twice. Both times, it was well outside the time limit, and the rewards you get were crappy. Bosses and enemies no longer drop any loot, and there’s no daily treasure chests anymore. So, if your instance doesn’t finish gold or silver, it’s honestly not even worth the time.

And the frustration? If I wasn’t getting trampled by (unavoidable?) herds of centaur, I was getting my face ripped off by birds with retaliation. Half the time, I didn’t know what was killing me! I was heard saying repeatedly, “What? This is just stupid!” I gained all of 2 levels in that time… and for the frustration I earned, I should have just spent it doing personal story for the same amount of experience and probably better drops.

I got my boss achievements, didn’t stick around for the lesser achievements, and logged off to work on less stressful character advancement in FFXIV. I have a feeling you won’t see people sticking around once achievements are done. A lot of folks were already leaving last night out of frustration.

Who’s to Blame?

I’m not placing the blame on the folks who tried to zerg it. I was there to zerg it, too. In this situation, I don’t think it was a bad thing. It was supposed to be a fun, care-free event where you melt down bosses for loot. Right?

Sad Zerg is Sad

I honestly do understand what Anet is trying to do with introducing tactics and incentive to organize in the Pavilion. But unlike Escape from Lion’s Arch, this doesn’t have a good blend of content for those who enjoy a bit of zerg and loot, while mixing it up with a bit of organization to get the best rewards. That was a win-win (and a nice place to level alts).

Instead, zerging in this event means everyone just loses.

Realistically? Anet has this expectation that the average player can (and wants to) work in an organized setting. Only, by design, GW2 just mashes a lot of disconnected people together into now random servers… and hopes that they somehow communicate and connect? In our instance, we were lucky to have a single commander to lead the flow of battle. It’s only natural that when there’s a single tag visible on the map, people follow that one tag.

In my experience last night, it’s not happening. I hope Anet realizes it’s not happening. If they don’t get it, I really hate to think what’s going to become of other fun zerg events, such as the Mad King’s Labyrinth this year.

End Rant

This was the patch that I hoped would bring me back to GW2. So far, the Pavilion is the only thing I’ve attempted, and I was not pleased. I’m holding out hope that the Bazarr, which I also loved the first time it came, will help ease last night’s frustration. Sadly, I heard they nerfed the event level down to 16… which means no alt leveling happening there, either. Another set of group events that I enjoyed kicked to oblivion. *sigh*



  1. I think the problem is that the players came in with one set of expectations – that it was going to be exactly the same as the last time.

    (I went into the Crown Pavilion too with my lootstick ready, and went to the destroyers to zerg stuff down. Once I noted that loot drops were something like a ticket when lucky and that the general zerg was not going to get organized anytime soon, I ditched the activity and ran to get other stuff done.)

    Changing that causes a natural reaction similar to players in a Monty Haul campaign suddenly having a severe reduction in rewards when the GM wises up and realizes the windfall of items is destroying the campaign long-term.

    I do think it makes sense for the Crown Pavilion overall to have a more ramped up group challenge, even though it means that I may only have certain windows of time to do it in. (The good news is that the achievements are not reliant on the whole map succeeding and getting gold, and can be done individually, even on not so great maps.)

    I’d try the Labyrinthine Cliffs before giving up with the update. That is a very relaxed zone that can be done solo or in small groups, at one’s leisure, and enjoy cooperative timed events for shared reward, or competitive events for individual reward. One can still earn festival tokens, and have a chance at earning a Favor of the Bazaar (which can be sold on TP or the other Favor bought on the TP). I plan on lurking there a lot of the time.

    As for alt leveling, Tomes of Knowledge can be bought for Festival tokens, so, yeah… not everything has to be a power-leveling double xp event to be fun.

  2. I’ll certainly check out the Cliffs before writing off the event. I loved the Cliffs from the first go-round, and it’s good to know tickets are available as rewards there. I did notice that the Tomes were on sale for tickets, and figured tickets were going to be drops from the Pavilion.

    I’ll have to give those events a whirl and see if I can work towards some Tomes for leveling. Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

  3. So the main problem I’m reading here is that people were unable to organize themselves due to a zerg mentality. The second problem is that Anet failed to properly communicate the changes to the Pavilion content, leading people into false expectations.

    From what you’re writing, I think I’d enjoy the new pavilion a lot more than the old. At least, if it wasn’t zerged, effectively destroying both the tactical element and my fps…

    I haven’t looked at the new stuff myself yet, but so far I’m having very little motivation to do so.

    1. Yeah, basically they turned what used to be open world festival content into an open world raid. It’s not working well. Especially with the megaservers where there’s even less certainty of who is going to end up in your instance.

      I heard that large organized guilds were able to do this fine. But not everyone is in, or wants to be in, a large organized guild. I suppose it’s fine for people who like that kind of thing, but for someone who’s looking for the casual fun that used to be there, it’s very disappointing. Not everyone wants to raid or deal with raid mentality.

      I’m not the only one that feels that way, if a look at the forums and Reddit are proof. This is a disturbing trend in GW2 where they take casual, open world content and try to warp it into raid material.

      Do I sound a bit unhappy about it? Yeah. I’ll probably never see another Tequatl win again. To me, it’s taking content that used to be accessible and fun and smacking me on the hands saying, “You’re not a raider, so this isn’t for you anymore.”

      GW2 touted “Play your way” for a long time. Removing content and gating it behind a raid play style is not playing my way. Not happy with that.

      1. True, but if you’ll allow me to play devil’s advocate: I don’t think there ever really was serious raid content in GW2. From what I’ve seen, even the dragons could be zerged without much strategy. So Anet is trying to change that, it seems. In this way, they’re answering to complaints from people that say the game is not challenging enough. So it’s not YOUR way, but it’s someone else’s way.

        Since they clearly want to keep things as much as possible in the open world, it becomes impossible to cater to every playstyle in every location. This means they’ll have to find a balance. So far, the balance in the open world seems to still be highly in favour of the casual/solo player. As such, to call this a ‘disturbing trend’ could be considered a bit narrow-minded.

        /devil’s advocate

        Personally I am curious how the players will respond if Anet becomes consistent in developing content that requires strategy rather than zerging. As someone that loathes zergs, I would love to see people organize themselves and each other. However, having raided in a casual guild in WoW (Yes, there is such a thing as casual raiding), I know that keeping all but the most dedicated players in line is next to impossible without a clear leadership.

        So I’d advice Anet: take a look at LotRO’s skirmishes: scaleable levels, group sizes and difficulty allows everyone to enjoy the content in their own way.

        On the other hand, I think it’s absolutely no disaster to have open world areas that are not soloable. In fact, I think this adds to immersion. After all, the best areas to explore are those that you’re not supposed to be able to.

        1. Yes, however, if they want to add raid content, don’t take content AWAY from casuals. That’s my point.

          This event was well-loved as a fun time to just free farm. If they wanted to cut back on drops, I’d be fine with that. Just don’t change mechanics of a festival event so drastically (again, it’s not supposed to be serious content). I was very fond of this event originally, and now everything I enjoyed about it is gone. I cannot express my shock and dismay when I realized what they did to the Queen’s Pavilion… especially since I was logging in to raise my hopes about having fun in the game again.

          Want to give us raids? That’s fine. Give us NEW stuff. Don’t alter old stuff, which is the same as removing content for people who don’t raid.

          I’m miffed about Tequatl turned raid — I agree the difficulty for world dragons was laughable. But what they’ve done to it now makes it impossible unless you’re in a large, coordinated group. I know… I’ve been there for so many Tequatl fails and have just given up.

          On the other hand, they ADDED the Wurm raid to the world. Totally fine by me as that’s NEW content, and not taking away content I used to do.

          It’s not what they’re doing, but how they’re doing it. So yes, taking away casual content instead of making new raid content is a “disturbing trend.” I wonder what event they’re going to butcher next… and that is just plain disturbing. Nothing narrow-minded about it.

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