Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The visit of the Mad King on all Hallows Eve

Halloween last night. Our house has turned into a madhouse. You cannot get from one room to another without fighting through fake spider webs. I have to admit that we have 100% embraced the commercialised American version of Halloween. I don't feel too crass about it though because Halloween is an ancient Celtic festival and my forefathers have been celebrating the night when the spirits rise since time immemorial.

After all my efforts to get to Lion's Arch in Guild Wars you can bet I wasn't going to miss the visit of the Mad King on Halloween night. Many of my new guildies were also logging on for the visitation. I didn't meet many of them in cartoon person however. Guild wars deals with overcrowding in towns by simply creating a brand new instance of the town so you end up with English District -1, German District-3 and so on. Normally I never see numbers greater than 5 or 6 but I believe some zones were up to the high 30's last night. I have to say the system works great and there was no appreciable lag despite all the people logging in to catch the Mad King. It does make it harder to get a large bunch of people together in the same place. It's not impossible - you can switch zones if you want to but we weren't organised enough to agree on a zone.

I logged on about 10pm after my own little trick or treater's had gone to bed. I discovered that the Mad King only turned up every three hours and his next visit was due for 11pm. With an hour to burn I decided to do a mission: "The Gates of Kryta" . I love the fact that GW missions can be completed in under an hour - makes the game much more compatible with real world activities. The mission was very straight foward . The mobs ranged from level 12 to level 18 with most of them about 14ish. I had no time for any fancy pulling so I just waded through with my level 10 henchmen and my level 15 self. Not elegant but the new smarter henchmen make it hard to die. Previously healers were the first to die leaving you without assistance. Now the healers seem to stay out of trouble and several times I was rescued from the brink of death by a smart heal. Almost makes the game too easy - I wonder if it will be nerfed later? Apparently this mission is a popular farming run for dyes but I had no time for that - I just ploughed through to the finish at Lion's Arch. Quite ironic really after all my efforts to cross the mountains and find the alternative route to Lion's Arch - I actually arrive there via missions just as the Mad King appears.

The nutty monarch himself was about 15 ft tall with a pumpkin head. Apparently he has just flown in from Hades. He planted himself right next to a giant cauldron that had appeared at the start of the Halloween celebrations . He was a bit of an attention seeker really - demanding that people laugh at his jokes, bow, jump, play rock paper scissors and so on. Those who complied with his commands received novelty gifts while those who did not were smote dead on the spot (soon to be ressurected). He ended with a long game of "Mad King Says" following the same rules as the kids game "Simon says" where you must obey his orders only if they are prefixed with the correct phrase. Since obeying orders means typing in the appropriate emote (eg "/laugh", "/bow" etc) it was more a test of typing skill than anything else. Anyhow I did reasonably well and ammassed a tidy collection of novelty items including a cool scary pumpkin head. Rumour has it that the bored rich of the game will pay top prices for such novelty items. I believe transmogification potions (of which I got 9) sell for up to 2k each. No idea why someone would pay that for a potion that turns you into a carrot man for a few minutes but it takes all sorts. I plan to horde my loot for a few weeks in the hope that it will rise in value.

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