We may not know for sure about surprises, but we know that there will be some significant changes. John Stumme told us in a recent interview that Keiran's Wintersday quests will be much different: "Keiran's introduction and quest content are being split off from Wintersday and tweaked (for both story and requirements) so that they will function as normal quests now. Looking at it from the standpoint of a new or returning player to Guild Wars, they may have missed out on Wintersday Cheer previously, which makes it a bit confusing when this Keiran Thackeray character is suddenly part of the greater story."
Speaking of new players, there are a lot of those this year! This is fantastic for the community as a whole, but things could be pretty overwhelming for those newbies. Veteran players go on about looking for reindeer, Grenth vs. Dwayna, and MPB farming while new players sort of stand around wondering what the heck is going on.
We can't have that -- the more people participating, the better, so follow along after the jump and let's do an overview of Wintersday for those of you who have been playing Guild Wars for less than a year!
Of course, we have to start with a quick wrap-up of the Thursday night adventures of Massively Overpowered, Massively's Guild Wars guild. We wrapped up Prophecies last week by taking on Hell's Precipice. It wasn't without its bumps in the road -- yours truly attempted to cap Aura of the Lich as an Elementalist/Mesmer. It's a mistake that you're never too much of a veteran to make, so it can't be said too much: always check your secondary!
We got a little ahead of ourselves in my group and lost out on the bonus, so there's a do-over in our future, but we finished the mission handily and wound up in the endgame version of Droknar's Forge. The majority of us were on characters finishing for the first time, so we scored some shiny new weapons and then explored the area a bit. It's one of my favorite parts of Guild Wars, simply because Droknar's Forge is crowded with people whom (and creatures that) you come across in your travels through the campaign. Even Old Mac and Joe the devourer are there. I always try to take a couple of minutes to chat with all the NPCs and reminisce a bit.
If you missed our trip through Hell's Precipice, check out Massively TV's on-demand video of the mission. Next week? Cantha!
All right, on to the party! Wintersday is scheduled to begin sometime in the middle of the month. The art contest is underway, so be sure to try your hand at that, but the in-game festivities are where the big party is!
Once Wintersday begins, you'll notice two things right away: monsters will begin dropping candy cane shards, and some of the towns in Tyria and Elona have a different look (Cantha does not participate in Wintersday festivities). Ascalon City, Lion's Arch, Droknar's Forge, Kamadan, and Eye of the North will be sporting a festive look for the holidays.
So what are these special drops and decorated towns all about? Let's start with the Candy Cane Shards. Gather those up, because you can trade them in for some fun and/or useful items. You'll find a Wintersday Gift Giver in several different towns, and he'll give you a Wintersday Gift in exchange for five shards. Double-click the gift to open it and find sweets, alcohol, or party items.
If you want some fun commemorative weapons, take your shards to the other collectors for peppermint and candy cane weapons -- there's a little something for every profession!
Want even more shards? Check out the Wintersday quests. Most of them are Wintersday traditions -- you'll find the same quest NPCs in Lion's Arch and Kamadan every year: Old Nikoles, Grandfather Kringle, and Elder Skruuj. They'll be sending you out for a quest series you can only enjoy during the festival -- be sure you make the most of it!
Finally, there's the Rift Warden. Ah, the Rift Warden. Many veteran players get a reflexive gleam in their eyes at the thought of this quest giver. Do you like gambling against huge odds? This might be the NPC for you. The Rift Warden is in Kamadan and Lion's Arch and offers four quests -- two of which require that you own Eye of the North. Straight to the Heart and Strength of Snow are those quests, the only ones that spawn the Wintersday Chest at the end. The Wintersday Chest has an infinitesimal chance (less than 0.02% according to current drop research) of rewarding a Miniature Polar Bear. You'll find players farming these quests -- usually Strength of Snow -- over and over during Wintersday in the hopes of getting not only a MPB, but also other drops from the Wintersday Chest. Polar bear or no, you'll always get five Wintersday items from the chest.
Finally, there's a little something in Wintersday for those of you who are more competitive. The Dwayna vs. Grenth snowball fight gives you a chance to mix it up with other players as you side with the two gods struggling for dominance of Wintersday. When you enter, you're given a special skill bar that takes a little getting used to; once you have the hang of it, it's a lot of fun, so hang in there.
A time-honored festival event tradition in Guild Wars is the various iterations of "How do I get a hat?" ("WHAT DO FOR HAT" is my current favorite, thanks to a Guild Wars 2 Guru forum poster.) The festival hats and masks are almost everyone's favorite souvenir from festivals, so everyone wants to know how to get one. It's usually pretty simple, so don't worry about jumping through too many hoops. In the case of Wintersday, you simply participate in the finale event on the last day of the festival.
One of the things that I love about this festival is the player cooperation in this case. You see, the finale event involves players gathering in certain rings to indicate which deity -- Dwayna or Grenth -- they support. If Dwayna wins the district, everyone gets one style of hat. If Grenth wins, everyone gets another style. Over the years, players have developed an unofficial system to make sure that everyone gains both Wintersday hats with a minimum of fuss. Players in odd-numbered districts will gather to support Grenth; those in even-numbered districts will support Dwayna. It's a simple plan that's served everyone very well.
All right -- there is your introduction to Wintersday in Guild Wars! There's much more to discover for yourself once the party starts, but this will get you prepared while you wait for those shards to start dropping -- I'll see you next week!
Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at firstname.lastname@example.org.