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Friday, 23 January 2015

The Hype Train - Heart of Thorns Speculation

Choo Chooooo! Ladies and Gentlemen the hype train is nearing its final stop. I'm back after a long break from Guild Wars 2 and although this is my first post in more than 3 months, I have been closely following the game with the bi-weekly Living Story patches.

Well.. Is everyone excited? [Spoiler alert] In the latest installment of season 2 of the Living Story, or rather the finale, we got some juicy information and a very teasing Easter-egg style cinematic about a certain 'Heart of Thorns'. Almost all of the hype revolving around this is suggesting an expansion, and judging by the glossy new logo, the patented name and a date at PAX South - that is exactly what it looks like! This is precisely what most players have been waiting for, for a very, very long time. So what can we expect from an expansion almost 2-and-a-half years after launch?

First off we should analyze the teaser trailer for any clues. Luckily for you, WoodenPotatoes has already knocked up a great video that you can watch here. Unfortunately the trailer doesn't give us much in the way of investment potential, bar the possible addition of the spear polearm as a land weapon - Throughout the trailer you can see various people wielding and fighting with spears; a sign of things to come perhaps?

The addition of spears on land is not a long shot either, as it was originally planned in early pre-launch phases of the game. This provides us with some interesting investment prospects and some speculators have already begun buying up the legendary precursor spear Carcharias, greatly increasing the price. However, is it a sensible idea to assume that a land spear will be using the pre-existing water weapon? If ArenaNet were to add a new weapon, surely it would be accessible on all classes whereas the current spear is usable on 6 of the 8 classes. This would also present the first weapon that can be used both on land and in water, how would it work? I think it would make far more sense mechanic-wise that a whole new weapon line is released, perhaps named Pike or Polearm, to be used on land. It could even use most of the existing spear skins, but what about the legendary?

Speaking of legendaries, the next topic I want to talk about is the possible or rather imminent release of a new set of legendary weapons or perhaps legendary armor or trinkets. We have been waiting quite a while for new legendary weapons; in fact, since as early as 2013 it had been hinted at here and there. Is it possible ArenaNet had planned all along to launch them as part of an expansion? It would make a lot of sense really, as I couldn't see them being added as part of the Living Story, and they seem perhaps a bit too prestigious for a feature pack. The launch of new legendary weapons gated behind an expansion would be a perfect selling point, too. So what would new legendary weapons mean for us? First of all we can only assume the build up for these will be the same or at the very least similar to the existing legendaries. In terms of investments this doesn't really provide much potential other than the obvious T6 and Ectoplasm which are already under strain. I am more interested in the possible addition of precursor crafting. This is another topic that has been hinted at various times but nothing concrete has ever surfaced. Many people believe that the Mawdrey scavenger hunt during The Dragon's Reach: Part II was a test-run of sorts to the eventual launch of precursor crafting. Again, as with new legendary weapons, precursor crafting is a speculative shot in the dark - how will it work? What will it entail?

Another possible addition is level 500 Chef and Jeweler, both of which seem to have been put off for unknown reasons. It is obvious that Ascended trinkets are already fairly easy to obtain and that Chef has no real direction to take between level 400 and 500. However, the addition of craftable trinkets would mean not having to spend as many laurels for example, so could be an appealing method to many players. There is also a lot of speculation surrounding possible legendary trinkets. Recent patches have included upgrade components that can be applied to amulets for a cosmetic effect on the character - is it possible that like the Mawdrey crafting process, this was just a test for future legendary amulets?

I'd also like to talk briefly about Foxfire Clusters. These items were added in The Dragon's Reach: Part II as part of the Mawdrey scavenger hunt. The only real way to obtain them is through RNG by harvesting trees, at roughly an 8.7% chance per harvest. Since their addition to the game, the demand has naturally fallen off as more and more people complete their back pieces, slowly but surely declining in price from around 50 silver at the end of August last year to 28 silver now. It should also be noted that as the demand and the price of Foxfire Clusters falls off, the fresh supply will naturally decline as well, as farming these items becomes less and less profitable. As harvesting trees is a natural action in Guild Wars 2, eventually these items will become over-supplied and the price will drop to minimum levels. It would make sense that ArenaNet would want the price to remain fairly high so that the cost of crafting Mawdrey is somewhat inline with other Ascended back pieces. Could we see Foxfire Clusters as a potential crafting material for other items in the future?

Lastly, I want to mention a post by that_shaman on Reddit which highlights an upcoming armor set that has been data-mined. It is entirely possible, and probably most likely that this armor will be a product in the gem store. But what if this is some kind of end-game armor for the expansion? We don't really know anything about Rytlock yet, only that he will be making an appearance in Heart of Thorns according to the trailer. If this will be craftable armor, what materials will be needed?

Below I have compiled a list of items with great investment potential:
  • Thick Leather Section - this has been a thorn in ArenaNet's side for quite some time(excuse the pun). They have tried and tried to correct the price of this crafting material, for example Mawdrey recipes required a total of 600 of these. It is not if the price will go up, it is when - remember Silk Scraps? Never say never.
  • Silver Ore - if level 500 Jeweler follows the same criteria as the other crafting disciplines, then this crafting material will be a sound investment.
  • Foxfire Cluster - As per my speculation above, this item has a lot of potential to go boom again if it is used in further recipes.
  • Unidentified Dye - other than gems, this is the next best inflation measure within the Guild Wars 2 economy. Unidentified Dyes have always been a great long term investment and with a rising player population due to returning players, new players from this weekend's sale or new players pulled in from the potential expansion - you can guarantee they are still a great investment right now.
  • Spears - despite being a fairly risky investment, this one simply can't be ignored. The trailer shows several encounters, and almost all the depicted characters are wielding Spears or a similar weapon. I have chosen to ignore the legendary precursor. Instead, my personal picks are Al'ir'aska, Dragonfury and the Pact Spear. Why these? This mainly comes down to how popular I believe the skins could be, and also how scarce the item is.
  • Gossamer Scrap & Hardened Leather Section - both of these crafting materials have decent investment potential due to possibilities of new Ascended armor(skins) or even legendary armor. The Gossamer in particular could skyrocket if it is included in new recipes.
Save the date, tomorrow is the date! You can get all the information you need about the Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns reveal at PAX South on the official page here.

Keep a close eye on this blog, as I will be writing a post-reveal piece about Heart of Thorns!