I grouped with Cookiemon late last night at Canterbury. The experience was pathetic. Don't get me wrong. Cookiemon was terrific as a group mate. I have grouped with several players so far. Everyone has distinct traits in their style of player. Of course, their styles were probably reflecting their personality as well. Some like it fast, some like it slow. Some were more aggressive than the others and some prefer to play it safe. One told me my character was basically screwed, the others were less succinct in their verdict of my play. Cookiemon was chatty and kept the grouping experience fresh even in into the wee hours. She was a teacher who never stopped showing me the ropes, from pet handling to skills management to general forward character planning. In short she was the complete groupie package.
What made our grouping pathetic was nothing to do with Cookiemon but how mismatched our skills were to work effectively as a team. For a start neither of us could tank. We fumbled for a good 30 minutes before we found a system that worked for us to yield us a 80 xp a fight. Needless to say, I felt embarrassed as a Gen 4 character not to be able to fight alone without my pet. There is probably next to none as poor as a player as me in terms of leveling effectively. Soon enough, Cookiemon's teaching instinct took over and asked me to list out all my skills like how the CSM did our stand-by-beds in the army. Fearing she might have a whip from the lady practicing sadomachochism in Hotel81 hidden in her backpack, I obediently complied and laid out all my cards.
"Tsk tsk tsk," I could almost her tongue cluck in reality. "Y u no take any Big 4 skills?"
Cookiemon was referring to the meta builds (Coming from GuildWars 1&2, I'm still used to that term) which involved building your character around one of the Fire/Poison/Earth/Lightning schools. These were the meta in HOTL3. Just a little bit of history for any one who plays GuildWars2. I play a very defensive Mesmer in GW2. My build was such that I could take on even 4 players in a PvP arena and survive. Take on 2, I'll kill them both anytime, always. I frustrated players so much that I had been called names and received verbal abuse regularly. As a proper Gamer, these were compliments not insults. The highest compliment you can ever receive as a Gamer is that you are accused of cheating but you didn't. I was close but they refused. Instead they put it down as the build I chose aka "The build is playing for me, not me as a player."
In this aspect, HOTL3 is similar to GW2 in the sense it is very heavily build-focused. Everything is almost centered around our builds in HOTL3. In short, our builds is our sword. We live and die by it. The key difference between both games are:- We can change our builds anytime in GW2, but we can't do so in HOTL3 without suffering penalties. I am referring to wasted Es in skills that you don't find effective after a trial-and-error process. Those Es could be put in better use elsewhere, obviously. Therefore, in HOTL3, whether we suck or not relies solely on our decision making. There is no cheap loser excuses to point the finger on (except perhaps on SPEC RACES :P. You lame Irda sucker!) if the other player is better than yourself.
Coming back to my HOTL3 build. Thus far, I have received countless of useful feedback. Generally, I have been told I'm going to have a very BAD time if I choose the Wind school as my first set of skills. To make it worse, specialising in Transport in the first Gen. Even my first mentor Thor the IMP told me straight off to, "get fire." Following him, I left a trail of confused LJs about why I continue to suck in the game, hitting dark green damages all the time with my Legendary Wind Blast. When I rebirthed this week, I could almost hear the players go, "What? You are still carrying on this shit?! Make a new one already! That's taking too long to learn your lesson!"
So why am I still insisting on playing so defensively? Don't I know there is a clear difference between games and I shouldn't assume what works for GW2 will work on HOTL3? Yes of course I understand that concept. I am a HOTL3 noob but I'm not a gaming noob. I have the same amount of gaming experience like most of the HOTL3 supremos. That is the best reason I can offer for anyone who has been wondering why I "don't seem that noob" as a noob. My previous experience has allowed me to grasp the HOTL3 concepts a bit quicker. Another key reason was that I received a lot of help and mentoring from many players, due to my shameless, relentless bugging. I even have mentors in different time zone! Asher and Osiris (not sure if they are the same player) taught me a great deal when they were on during their time zone. Back to the point about my choice on defensive skills, I believe there is room for defensive builds in HOTL3. I have yet to see a clear reason that there isn't. Struggling to level even at Gen 4 isn't sufficient enough for me - yet. I am still positive that I can find a good defensive build that works well for me in HOTL3.
If I may humbly share my gaming experience, there are key aspects of playing defensive. I call it the Defensive Mantra. Patience, persistence and perseverance. I believe these are self explanatory. Obviously, going defensive is going to be SLOW. It takes double the time to kill what others need, so a lot of patience is going to be involved and it takes persistence and perseverance to keep the patience from wearing thin.
So much to the horror to you guys, I'm going to announce that in this Gen, I will still not take any skills from the "Big 4" schools. I hope this draws some cackles among you. Please don't get pissed off that I am not taking advice. Just laugh at me and make me the joke at my expense. However, stay with me. One day I will walk into 9Hells as the lowest Gen player to go into battle with a battle cry, "我要一个打十个!" (I want to take on 10!) Just watch and laugh at me. When it isn't funny anymore, give me a clap.