Ask Nerdy Bookahs: Guild Wars 2 Edition (September 2015)

It’s time for another “Ask Nerdy Bookahs”. We have looked through the search terms that led people to our blog for which we know we do not have fitting answers in our blog posts and we’re trying to cover those topics here now. For better readability, I am changing the plain “search terms” to correct the grammar and add the missing question marks. :p Today’s post focuses on Guild Wars 2, mainly because the game recently switched to a “free to play” model which naturally leads to new players with questions.


Warrior vs Guardian

I am not that involved with PvP to say which one would probably come out victorious when those two professions duel each other. But I can tell you which profession I like more: Definitely the warrior! I should actually like the Guardian more, because I love playing support roles. But in Guild Wars 2, there is no trinity – not the “tank, healer, damage” trinity nor the “damage, support, control” trinity as ArenaNet talked about before launch. What we do have is that each character can do damage, support and control. Some focus more on damage, some may focus more on support. Some players may even tell you that it’s all about damage and nothing else… but in the end, it really comes down to personal preference. And this is why the warrior comes out on top for me. The guardian feels slow and kind of clunky to me sometimes. I really just love playing with swords and axes with my warrior and having her jump right into the battle. It is a fast and fun class – at least, when played that way. There are, of course, other ways to play a warrior and a guardian.

Mesmer can’t kill with staff

Of course they can! If you look at MetaBattle, for example, you can find several builds using the staff. The PU Condi Roamer, a Condition Shatter build and a Mantra Shatter build. Those are just some examples from one website. I don’t know anything about mantra builds, but as the first two names suggest already, builds based around conditions are pretty good with staff. And now that I’ve looked at those, I really feel the urge to experiment more with my mesmer. I used to play with staff quite a lot, but have been using scepter mainly in the last few months.

Can’t enter Black Citadel until level 10?

This depends on what kind of account you have. If you play with a free account, then no. You need to get your character to level 10 in order to leave the starter maps. If you buy Guild Wars 2, then you get upgraded and can freely switch to other regions without being level-restricted. You can see the differences between the free and paid accounts on the official website.

Heart of Thorns Polymock

Oh dear… how much I wish this would come. However, we have not heard anything about Polymock, so it’s probably best to assume that no, we will not get it any time soon or at all. There is a portal leading to “Polymock Arenas“, though, which could give us some hope.

And last but not least:


I’m sorry, but what? How does a person even get Google to show our blog with such a search term? Also, say hello to your dog, cat or baby – depending on who it was who typed that. :p

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Posted in Ask Nerdy Bookahs, Blogging Months, Guild Wars 2, Trove

Valhalla Hills: First impressions

ValhallaHills-logoI’ve previously written about Valhalla Hills and my impressions from the outside, but now you can get an impression piece from me from the inside!

I was the lucky winner of the grand prize of Blaugust and received a Steam game that I could choose. While I have lots of games on my wishlist, only one came to my mind that I really wanted to have and play: Valhalla Hills (and I also got the Contributor Edition from Belghast and not just the regular one! O.o). The timing was also quite awesome, as all of this happened on my birthday. :D

TL;DR: It feels a lot like Cultures to me, but each map plays very similarly to the previous map which feels a bit repetitive. There is no sandbox either. Altogether, it has potential and I hope they can fill that potential with more content.

Now that this is out of the way, let me get into more detail. I mentioned in the previous post who Funatics are and why this game even caught my attention in the first place. So, I’ll skip that very basic introduction part and get right to the game.

You play as Leko, one of Odin’s sons, and need to earn honour (through building, fighting and so on) to prove to Odin that you’re a worthy son. You do so with the help of Vikings who get rejected from entering Asgard as well and who, just like you, need to earn more honour before they are allowed to enter. And with that, off to the adventure you go. The first few maps (all of them are islands) are really small. I am on map 9, I think (I would check, but Steam isn’t loading currently). In the beginning, you don’t have many buildings available yet. You basically build up an economy, so your vikings have food and soldiers. The goal is to go through the portal on the island. You can choose between two options: You either build an altar and gather resources to sacrifice for the portal guards to be calmed and let you through or you can instead invest in a small army of soldiers and attack the portal guards instead. I chose the peaceful option, simply because it seemed much easier. On later maps, there will be enemy NPCs on the islands, too, so you will have to have soldiers to defend your vikings anyway.

I said that you only have a few buildings in the beginning. You get unlocks in the game by playing the game which then give you access to more buildings later on. It’s important to note that the new buildings are not available on the island you are playing on at that time. Only when you start a new map can you build that new building.

One of the issues I see with the game currently is that it seems to be very repetitive. For the first few maps, all I did was build the most necessary buildings, build an altar, fulfill whatever was needed to calm down the portal guards and open the portal to get to the next map. There are even (Steam) achievements that support this “repetitive goal”: “Your Vikings managed to climb the Valhalla Hills x times!” where x is 10, 50, 100, 250. While I don’t mind having these achievements in general, I am not sure how much fun it will be to do the same thing over and over again with no change in between. In Cultures, there were story campaigns with maps that usually had at least slightly different goals to achieve (defeat your enemies on the map, gather enough of x resource, find NPC y and so on). And the single non-campaign maps also had different goals or no goals at all.

I finally reached a map that I could not succeed on. What I do find an interesting feature is that each map has a maximum of vikings you can get. Well, there are two numbers, actually. One is the maximum amount of vikings you can have at any given time. For example, after you build some huts for your vikings to live in, you can have up to 26 vikings on your island. When one dies, another one appears. But there won’t be more than 26 unless you buy another hut. But the maximum total amount is an important factor here. If you have 26 vikings and one died, this total is at 27 out of 55 vikings. If too many vikings die, no new ones will appear. So there is a definite end to the map if you let them starve or they die in fights with NPCs (those are the two ways they can die, I think). On top of that, the game lets you create three profiles which all have a different progression. But each profile only has one save slot and the game has an auto-save function. While auto-save is good, once you realize you made a wrong decision, you cannot go back. You can only start a new map (but as long as you continue playing with your current profile, all progress – that is, all unlocked buildings and your vikings honour – will be saved).

One thing I love is that you can rename your vikings and choose different helmets for them. The character screen is also quite cute and shows you how much honour each of your vikings has earned already and how often they spawned on your maps. This gives a nice little touch as you can get quite attached to them. What is sad is that within the game, you have no control over the vikings at all. For comparison, in Cultures you could tell each viking where to go. But more importantly, you had to assign a viking to a given job. The bakery was finished, freshly built, but nobody started working there unless you told somebody to do so. If you had more open professions then vikings, this was no issue as you assigned the available vikings to which professions you needed the most. In Valhalla Hills, I have to disable a building (no production there and thus, no viking working there), so no viking chooses this work place. But once I have more vikings, I have to be fast and enable it again before the viking goes to do another open job instead. There is no window that tells you which buildings are currently enabled or disabled, so you need to memorize which you set in the disabled state. Also, professions further down the skill line (that is, every profession but the very basic ones like farmer, hunter, forester) had to be learned somehow first in Cultures. A viking that had no prior experience (in the case of the baker, this would be a miller), he had to be sent to school to learn the appropriate profession there. But for me, the main aspect is that I could choose who should work at which place. Not even because I wanted to give my favourite vikings the best jobs in town (although I certainly did exactly that :p), but mostly because it just felt like I had more control over the game and it was much easier than the “micromanagement” in this game.

Oh, as this is early access, a word on why I am not writing about bugs: There were none. Seriously. Not one single bug. Okay, a few issues did arise… Sometimes, the game doesn’t load. Closing it in the task manager and restarting it solves the issue. And then some text is not fitting 100 % in its tooltip. I am also certain that some things need to be tweaked as I was frequently annoyed by vikings not finding food even though they are close to a building that stores food. But I’m not sure if that counts as a bug per se or rather something like “pathfinding issues” which to me, belongs to the “needs tweaking” category. :p

In closing, I could probably just repeat what I wrote in the “TL;DR” section above. I was pleasantly surprised as the game is much more fun than I thought it would be. But my concerns were also correct in that it has unused potential and does get a bit repetitive. In my opinion, they did a lot of things much better with Cultures and I hope to see some of those features return, so the game gets more depth and content and less repetitive gameplay.

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Posted in First Impression Review, Games in alpha or beta, Indie developer, Other Games

Nerdy Bookahs and their travel guide: Lübeck

This is an off-topic post where I will not write about a game, but about something concerning the rest of my life. It will have a tiny part related to gaming, though.

As some of you may know, bookahnerk and I had gone to spend a week in Northern Germany. We usually go there (to Hamburg, to be more precise) over New Year’s to spend some time with his family, but this year, I decided that a short city trip around my birthday would be nice. We decided to get to Hamburg first, then visit Lübeck (which is located east of Hamburg for a few days. In my region during middle school, it is common for students to go to either the German Baltic Sea or the German North Sea for a week. When I had gone to the Baltic Sea with my school, we also went to see Lübeck. The only thing I remember from that town back then was some brown brick towers and how half of us had gone into the Burger King restaurant because we had not been able to see a McDonald’s. One of our classmates ran into the place behind us and yelled: “Leave! I’ve found the McDonald’s!” – At which point, about 20 students left the restaurant as fast as they could. :p I can happily report that this time, we went to neither of those two places to eat. ;)Lübeck September 2015

I did, however, see lots of brown brick buildings and towers. But more on that in a bit, because I first want to give you some details about the area as I am pretty certain that I have lots of readers not familiar with Baltic Sea, North Sea, Lübeck etc. First of all, if you hear “Northern Germany” and think of Lederhosen, Octoberfest and beer tents, then I have to disappoint you. Northern Germany has nothing to do with that (neither does any other part of Germany other than Bavaria, by the way). Northern Germany even has its own English wikipedia entry, in case you want to read more about this region.

Lübeck September 2015I will now move on to the area around Hamburg and Lübeck. As you can see on the tiny map there, Lübeck is in Northern Germany. The ocean part north and north-east of Lübeck is the Baltic Sea. The ocean part on the north-western side of the map is the North Sea. Lübeck has a very pictoresque old town and in fact, this is the only part of the town that we saw during our stay there. We arrived on Wednesday early afternoon and left Friday early afternoon. When we arrived at the hotel on Wednesday, we were handed a map of the old town with a round trip printed in which leads you to all the sights the old town has to offer. I don’t remember the exact time it took us, especially as we made a break to eat some Flammkuchen in between. We skipped the part with the harbour, though, and went to that area of the old town on Friday instead. The round trip was great, though! It led us through several of the smaller passages which we quite often actually missed, so we had to walk back several times. It’s really no wonder, since they basically lead you into an area “behind” the houses and you end up in the parallel street again. But the way they are build in, they are basically just a “part of the house” only that there is no house, of course, but this path instead. And the back yards were really great to look at, too, as almost all of them had plants and tiny little chairs and tables and it just looked very comfortable and cozy. No traffic noises there either.

Thursday was spent with less walking to look at the town and more… shopping, actually. We also went to the Niederegger café. Lübeck is famous for its marzipan and Niederegger is the company that produces said marzipan. Since I happen to love marzipan, we just had to go to one of their cafés. We also went to their shop twice, but only because I had not been able to decide what to buy for friends and family the day before. Bookahnerk does not like marzipan, but thankfully, they also have nougat. And the café also served non-marzipan food. I had a piece of nougat cake which came in a thick layer of marzipan. Bookahnerk had chosen a piece of some tiramisu cake. It was a miracle that we could still walk after that visit and did not have to roll back to the hotel. :p

Now here comes the gaming part! Some time ago, I briefly talked about board games on Twitter and Pandemic got recommended to me. In Hamburg (before we drove to Lübeck), we went to a game store which we only knew existed since a guy who works there was at the Foostival 2014 and he told bookahnerk about that place. The last game store in Hamburg, apparently. So, we went there to have a look at the games they had and when I saw Pandemic, I remembered that conversation and it was impossible to get the game out of my hands anymore afterwards. We had no choice but to buy it then. :p In Lübeck, we played the game in the evening and since it was so much fun, bookahnerk decided to get me one of the expansions for my birthday. On our trip through the old town that day, we had seen a game store, so we went there on Thursday. I prefer the game store in Hamburg if you ask me, because their focus is more on board games than on mangas. The one in Lübeck had tons of manga comics… so if you prefer that, go to Lübeck instead. On the other hand, why would anybody plan a vacation based on quality of game stores? Never mind me then… ;) Luckily, in a smaller back room, they also had board games and happened to have that expansion as well. We did not get around to playing it yet, though, as I was too tired to read the rules that evening.

Still, as you can see, even when we’re away from our computers, we just enjoy playing a game in the evening. I have always loved board games because they give you an opportunity to play, have fun and talk with each other. Since Pandemic is also a cooperative game, there is no competition and we were instead trying to agree on a strategy to win against the game.

Back to the old town of Lübeck now: As you can see on the pictures, it still has so many old buildings left! But what I found most interesting and fascinating is the pure fact that those buildings are still standing strong. You may notice the one tower above, part of the Holsten Gate. No, I did not hold my camera in a weird way. This gate really is askew. The towers of the Lübeck Cathedral are just as bad to look at. A steel bar was constructed between the two towers, so they would gain some more stability. Though considering construction started in 1173 (a good 300 years before the Holsten Gate), this cathedral is in great shape.

Before we drove back to Hamburg, we made a short trip to the Baltic Sea, as bookahnerk had wanted to show me the Timmendorfer Strand. It was far from warm enough to go swim and it started raining a few minutes after we had left the beach again, but it was still amazing to stand there. I always tend to forget that Germany does have beaches. We just simply don’t have the weather for them most of the time and they are very far to the north (well, depending on where you live, but if you look at the map, most of us Germans live rather far away from there). Still, I loved feeling the sand below my shoes and hear the waves of water come and go. After that quick detour, we went back to Hamburg and two days later, we drove back home. But not without lots of nougat and marzipan, of course. And pictures taken with my mobile phone’s camera for you to enjoy. :)

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Posted in Fun!, Nerdy Bookahs and their travel guide

So this was Blaugust 2015 – Blaugust Day 31

I did this kind of challenge the first time back in November 2013. I tried it again in November 2014, but did not reach my goal and in fact, gave up on November 13 already. :p The latter is also why I decided relatively late to join Blaugust. My first thought was: Yeah, no way will I have the time or the energy to do it! But I like challenges like this one and when I was told that getting to 15 will already be a milestone (the title “survivor”), I thought to myself: Yes, this is something I can realistically do!

Never did I think that I would be able to write this many blog posts in a record time (for my own standards). And on top of that, Blaugust couldn’t have had a better timing. My job situation changed in the middle of August giving me more hours of work per week (hurrah!), so that I have your standard usual full-time job now. Getting Blaugust done together with my job without neglecting anything was exactly the kind of motivation boost to show myself that when I want to achieve something, I can do so!

I have finally started writing my dissertation and yes, I know that blog posts about PC games and a scientific dissertation cannot be really compared. But both are about writing and both are about something I feel passionate about! Also both require sitting down, focusing, and motivating yourself. Blaugust also means that I have to let my inner censor go. No more “Is this post really worth to be written?” and no “This post sounds like rubbish, better delete it again”. The same goes for writing in other settings. You always have your inner censor and depending on what you are writing, there is also some kind of deadline sitting in your neck.

So, what I take out of Blaugust for me personally is that I do have the determination, that I can motivate myself, focus and that I have the will to go forward and reach my goal. Yes, compared to that other big project, this seems tiny and irrelevant. But for my mind, this was a very important goal to reach!

I also want to say Thank You to everybody who read my posts, liked them and/or commented on them! Getting feedback is a nice thing and reminds me that while I like rambling in here, there are also actually people out there who “listen”. Weird concept, isn’t it? :p

On top of that, I found a whole lot of blogs that I either paid not enough attention to before or that I simply didn’t know existed. I will have to go through the list of all participants and see that I can get them added to our blogroll here. This may take a while, though, because now, I’ll go on a mini vacation. In other words: You will be spared from reading my blog posts for a few days until I return. :p

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Posted in Blogging Months, Fun!, Rants

Guild Wars 2: Now Free to Play!

Just a quick note to say that Guild Wars 2 is free-to-play as of right now! Yep, they turned the switch immediately. :)

There are some restrictions, as was to be expected. Those are mostly to discourage spam (in mails, whispers and so on) and to encourage you to buy the game if you like it. That is, if you buy “Heart of Thorns”, your account will be upgraded to a standard account and the expansion will be unlocked. You will not have the chat and mail restrictions anymore then and you will have the regular amount of bag slots as well as 5 character slots just like everybody else.

GW2_Free to play

Trying out the free version – as did lots of others, apparently.

If you want to give the game a try, you can sign up here.

Oh, and welcome to Guild Wars 2! :)

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Posted in Gaming News, Guild Wars 2
Wildstar Reloaded - going f2pSeptember 29th, 2015
Wildstar is free to play now!
GW2 Heart of Thorns LaunchOctober 23rd, 2015
19 days to go.
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