Today I would like to quickly go over the new Laurel system and what it offers to the players. I can not talk about the Laurel system without getting into the new daily achievements so I will also discuss those. I will also provide my thoughts on these new systems and how I think they will impact the game.
The Laurel System
What are these Laurels I speak of? It is a new form of currency introduced into Guild Wars 2 with the January 28th patch. Currently, the only way to obtain Laurels is by completing daily and monthly achievements. You can get one Laurel by completing the daily achievements and ten Laurels for completing the monthly. The Laurels are not an item that appears in your inventory like Badges of Honor as I originally thought they would be. Instead, they appear at the bottom of your inventory screen along with your current Gem and Karma totals. Unlike karma, but similar to gems, the total is shared across all characters on your account. I would like to see a similar system put in place for other tokens like Dungeon tokens and Badges of Honor to help clean up the clutter in my bank.
In a future update you will be able to gain Laurels by completing other achievements both new and existing. It seems Arena Net hopes to continue leveraging this achievement system in order to reward players for doing what they want to do. For those that have already completed a number of achievements already Arena Net has also promised to retroactively reward past completed achievements once the rest of the system is rolled out.
I really like the idea of rewarding players for completing achievements. It allows players to experience areas of the game that they enjoy and then receive a reward for it. It seems like it is straight in line with the vision that Arena Net has for Guild Wars 2. This along with the new Living Story and daily and monthly achievements will allow Arena Net to truly highlight the dynamic nature of this game.
What the Laurel System Offers
There are a number of different rewards for players to pick from and all are on offer from the various Laurel vendors found across Tyria in each of the major cities. The offerings a divided into a number of different categories and cost anywhere from a single Laurel to 100 Laurels. The first tab of the vendor, marked General, has the most interesting items. For 100 Laurels we have the "Endless Mystery Cat Tonic", the most expensive item available. What it is, nobody knows, and nobody will know until April 7th, 2013 which is what I calculate as the earliest date someone could have this item (10 Laurels for February, March, and April Monthlies, 4 from January dailies, 28 from February dailies, 31 from March dailies, and 7 from April dailies = 100 Laurels), but it sounds awesome. Also, on offer, are two new mini-pets Chauncey von Snuffles III, a cat, and Goedulf, a dog. Mini-pets aren't really my thing, but that cat looks awesome. For 75 Laurels each they could be yours.
As we continue down the list we come to "10 Mystic Binding Agent" for 10 Laurels. The tool tip for this items says, "Used in conjunctions with slivers, fragments, shards, cores, and lodestones in the Mystic Forge." This item sounds really interesting, and my GUESS is that you will be able to use these to replace the Elonian Wine in the rare crafting material promotion formula. Again, this is a guess, as the most Laurels a person could have as of the writing of this article is five, and ten are needed to purchase the package of 10 Mystic Binding Agents on offer. If that is how they work, it will have a dramatic effect on the market. Taking roughly 25 silver out of the cost of promoting rare materials will suddenly make promoting a number of materials profitable. Looking at my promotion spreadsheet I can already see the profit to be made promoting Tier 4 to Tier 5 materials without having to pay for the wine, however, I suspect there will be profits to be made promoting even lower tiers of materials as well.
Continuing down the list we come to a series of eight gear boxes with each one being designated for a specific class. For five laurels you get two of these boxes. Today is the first day that anyone can open one of these boxes so I suspect we will start hearing about what they contain shortly. The tool tip for these boxes say that they contain "a rare of exotic piece of level 78-80 gear" specifically for that class. This means that in the Elementalist box you might find light armour a staff, a scepter, a dagger, a trident, or a focus. A guaranteed rare is really nice as these can be sold or broken down into Globs of Ectoplasm or saved and tossed into the mystic forge. I don't think this will effect the market prices of ectos or rare items too much as currently these boxes can only be opened once every five days.
Next up are 10 Unidentified Dyes for five Laurels and 3 Obsidian Shards for three Laurels. The Unidentified Dye offering has yet to have an effect on the market as they are still selling for about 19 silver each, meaning that for five Laurels you can get nearly 2 gold. Currently, this seems like the best way to convert Laurels into gold, so I would suspect dye prices to start falling as this new source enters the market today. As for the obsidian shards it is nice to see another way of obtaining them. As far as I know there are now three ways to get them, trading in Laurels, trading in Fractal tokens, or trading in karma at the Balthazar temple. Also offered are advanced gathering tools for 2 Laurels. They require level 45 to use and boast to be "highly efficient". If they have a good chance to uncover rare materials they would be good for farming Passion Flowers in Southsun Cove as there is currently 67 silver each on the Trading Post.
For a single Laurel you have your choice of three boosters or six crafting material bags. The boosters provide a 30% boost to XP, Magic Find, or Coin collected from kills. The crafting bags provide a number of crafting materials for their given tier. There is a bag of each of the tiers of materials with a number of people opting to open the tier six materials bag. It seems to provide three random tier six fine crafting materials which could be worth anywhere from 15 to 60 silver. It is a bit of a gamble and most people are judging it as not worth it. I wouldn't be so quick to judge them. For anyone not looking to save up for anything in particular on the list this would be a great way to obtain a little extra coin each day.
And that is only the first page of stuff! It is also the most varied set of items. The rest of the offerings can be summed up rather quickly. The second page contains the new ascended amulets, in a variety of stat configurations for 30 Laurels each. This is the only way to obtain an ascend amulet. Towards the bottom of this pages are the more interesting infusions. Specifically, the Gilded Infusion which provides +20% Gold from Monsters, the Magical Infusion for +20% Magic Find, the Experienced Infusion for +20% Experience from Kills, and the Karmic Infusion for +15% Karma. The Gilded and Magical Infusions cost 20 Laurels and the Experienced and Karmic cost 10 Laurels. Currently, you can have four pieces of Ascended Gear (back, two rings, and amulet) meaning you could eventually be wearing all four or if they stack four of one. I think I may end up saving for some of these as +80% XP or +60% Karma could come in handy. Also available are some boring offensive and defensive infusions which provide +4 to either Condition Damage, Precision, Might, Healing, Toughness, or Vitality and cost 5 Laurels.
The third page contains the non-infused rings, previously, only obtainable from the Fractals dungeons. They each cost 35 Laurels, five more than the amulets hinting at the fact that it is more efficient to obtain these from the Fractals of the Mist dungeon Again they come in a number of different stat configurations. The infused version of these rings (infused meaning they already have a built in +5 agony resistance) will remain obtainable only in fractals.
The fourth page contains siege blueprints. You can get 1 Trebuchet, 2 Catapults, 3 Ballista, 4 Rams, or 4 Arrow Carts for 2 Laurels. I think Bhagpuss at Inventory Full put it best when he said, "buying those with Laurels would seem to be the equivalent of using £20 notes to start a fire because you fancy a slice of toast." Indeed, seeing as how these blue prints are obtainable for free for completing the jumping puzzles in WvW and are purchasable from a vendor in WvW for a pittance it seems like a waste to spend Laurels on blueprints when there are much better things to get.
The final page contains a series of crafting starter kits, one for each profession. A couple of these have been opened and they seem to contain enough materials to allow someone to achieve roughly level 50 in the named crafting profession. Here is a video of one of these kits being opened. There isn't much to say about these. They do not seem worth it to me as the materials they provide can be scooped off the trading post and vendors relatively cheap. I suppose to would be nice for new players to help them get started and figure out what they are doing.
After writing all that I think it might have been easier to just say what this vendor does not offer. I have provided a number of links to other resources that provide even more details about what this vendor offers if you are looking for them, but the easiest thing to do is just log in and head over and see for yourself.
In the January 28th patch the daily achievements were changed slightly. Previously, each day the achievements were the same; get 60 kills, kill 15 different types of creatures, complete 20 gatherings, and participate in 5 events. Now each day a different set of tasks will be presented to the player, for example, yesterday the achievement had us kill a number of creatures, revive a number of allies, speak with the laurel vendor, complete some gatherings, and participate in some events. Other tasks I have seen are, underwater kills, veteran kills, combos (now removed), crafting, and dodging attacks. Another nice change is that each of the daily tasks now only have a single tier. Now, quickly at a glance, and without memorizing the completion totals, you can see how many times you need to do something in order to complete the task. It is not much, but these little nice things help.
Arena Net said that they have more plans for the daily achievement system. We have been told that in the future the daily achievement will present us with a number of different tasks to complete. Finishing the daily achievement will not require completing all the tasks. Instead the player will only have to complete a select number of them, hopefully, in areas of the game they enjoy playing. Once this system is in place Arena Net hopes to add more variety to the daily achievements. Again these changes are sticking to the philosophy of allowing players to experience the areas of the game they enjoy and still feeling rewarded. At the same time it gives players the option to explore new areas of the game they may not have experienced before.
With the new patch, players were also given a handy new daily achievement tracker which appears at the top right of the screen under the personal story tracker and above the events tracker. The tracker provides a nice way of seeing what you have to left to complete. It would be nice to have the ability to track any achievement here, but for now it just tracks your progress on the daily tasks. I like it because it reminds me to get the tasks done. Previously I would often forget about my daily gatherings and end up not completing the daily.
I think this is a great vision and a great new addition to the game. I like the direction these changes are taking us but I am not too happy with the current stage we find ourselves in. With daily achievements the only way to get the Laurels, consistently, and the current lack of variety in the daily achievements tasks I find the system grindy. I feel like I have to complete the daily achievement every day or else I will be missing out and falling behind everyone else. I also do not particularly enjoy gathering and crafting and now I feel forced to do these things. Sure, its not a huge deal, and I will suffer through it because I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The proposed daily system, tied in, with the other achievements rewarding Laurels sounds fantastic and what we have currently is better than what we had, so all-in-all this is a good change.
What do you guys think? Do you like the Laurel System? Do you have an experiences to share? Let me know in the comments below.