Guide to Ascalon (pre-Searing)
|Note: This article is geared towards new players.|
Please keep its contents to those which new players can reasonably understand and use.
As one of the few areas that a player can never return to, riddled with a few unique features, Ascalon pre-Searing is a very special place that does not follow most rules of the game.
This guide aims to help new and old players alike to understand the basics of pre-Searing, why it can be interesting, how it differs from the rest of the game and what to expect from it. This guide will focus especially on Permanent pre-Searing characters.
- 1 Why pre-Searing
- 2 How it differs
- 3 What to expect
- 4 Trivia
Pre-Searing is a tutorial area. Its main role is to allow players to get more accustomed to the basis of the game mechanics, acquire their secondary profession, earn a few levels through a few quests and eventually leave the area once they have feel strong enough and confident about it.
Actually, people often stay longer than necessary in pre-Searing for several reasons:
- Because they prefer the smaller community.
- For nostalgia reasons.
- To enjoy the special flair and beauty of pre-Searing Ascalon and for a change of scenery and intensity from the rest of the game.
- To obtain the Legendary Defender of Ascalon, which is exclusive to characters in this area.
- Other titles such as the Survivor title, or Kind Of A Big Deal (with additional consumer titles) have more value here as they are harder to get than in post-Searing.
- To help new players and/or recruit them to guilds
- To farm, because foes are trivial to kill:
A character that stays in pre-Searing without the intent to leave is called a Perma Pre character.
How it differs
The most important restriction in pre-Searing is that there is no storage. Gold and items cannot be stored. Since the only way to enter the area is through character creation, gold and items also cannot be imported in pre-Searing from other parts of the game. This includes notably :
- Consumables, notably most summoning stones.
- Skill tomes.
- Weapons and Weapon modifiers
- Salvage kits, notably Perfect, Expert and M
- Runes and Insignias, notably Superior and Major runes.
- Bags and Equipment Packs
There are also no armor or weapon crafter that can craft perfect armor. The armor will always be below that of the maximum armor that can be obtained outside of pre-Searing, meaning that player characters will always be susceptible to getting killed.
The most important restriction is the lack of skills. The skill bar is severely limited:
- There are very few skills available per profession. No elite skill is available.
- The skill trainer only teaches skills obtainable via local skill quests.
- Only core professions are available. Players cannot choose Assassin, Dervish, Paragon, nor Ritualist, as primary or secondary profession.
The second most important restriction is the team size, which is severely limited to 2 players, with a total absence of heroes and henchmen.
Other unique aspects
- Pet deaths here do not cause skill blackout.
- There is no death penalty.
- There is no Hard Mode.
- Foes do not flee from AoE damage.
What to expect
Pre-Searing and post-Searing are two radically different environments in terms of gameplay. While post-Searing, especially endgame, focuses more on armor-ignoring damage from spells and skills, pre-Searing focuses more on auto-attacks and armor-respecting skills, due to the armor rating being very low and the player's level very high.
Pets, minion, and summon are notably very strong due to this, being able to withstand and deliver high damage if their level is high enough (and in the case of a pet if the beast mastery investment is high enough).
The Fire Imp
The imp deals high amounts of damage, especially against Ice Elementals and Oakhearts who have a weakness to fire damage, for no requirements (it can be summoned for free and endlessly with the only restriction of Summoning Sickness) and no drawbacks (it does not steal loot nor experience like a player, a hero or a henchman would, and it is a ranged attacker that will rarely cause unwanted aggro).
Additionally, the imp can tank damage pretty well, courtesy of a scaling armor rating that is often higher than the player's (only warrior has a higher AR than the imp, and ranger at levels 17 and 18, both under Vanguard Initiate) while staying healthy thanks to Glyph of Restoration.
The imp greatly reduces the time to farm experience or loot, saving several hours in the long run. It's very helpful to level up, as it allows to tackle foes at a lower level than usual, outdamage healing enemies, and finishing off quest foes (such as vanguard annihilation or bounty bosses) should you fall in combat, allowing to avoid possible backtracking, and generally to kill faster.
To use the imp requires access to the bonus item Igneous Summoning Stone. To know whether you actually have the item, type "/bonus" in the chat window and it should appear in your inventory. If not, the stone can be purchased with the Game of the Year Upgrade which also contains useful bonus weapons. Do not pick the Guild_Wars_2008_Upgrade as it only contains the imp for the same price.
The imp cannot be used at level 20.
Almost all the damage from warriors and rangers come from their weapons. Since the level of the user and target determines the critical hit chance, the average damage will become higher and higher the more the level increases. Customizing new weapons gives a 20% increase in damage, if you do not intend to sell them afterwards.
A shield with good armor rating and armor bonuses in general alleviate somewhat the issue of the low armor rating issue, but keep in mind that shields' base armor is ignored while under Vanguard Initiate.
Caster professions, who rely more on spells than on mere attacks, benefit more from weapon bonuses that affect spells, although a good damage output can still help when the spells are on cooldown.
Perfect weapons cannot be obtained from drops or crafting in pre-Searing, but can be obtained with bonus from the Guild Wars: Game of the Year Edition, notably the Rhino's Charge, Serrated Shield, Nevermore Flatbow, Luminescent Scepter and the Tiger's Roar, and from the Guild Wars Eye of the North Prerelease Bonus Pack, notably Glacial Blade, Hourglass Staff and Darksteel Longbow. The maximum stats make them incredibly powerful once their requirement is met. To know whether you have access to these weapons, type "/bonus" in the chat window and they should appear in your inventory.
A few interesting weapons can be obtained through quests: the Tall Shield from the quest Bandit Raid in particular has a useful +10 armor rating against Charr and +15HP, making it an excellent offhand. The War Hammer from the quest The True King, the Battle Axe from the quest Little Thom's Big Cloak and Longbow from The Hunter's Horn and the Rinblade crafted by Arthur Ayala in Ascalon City (pre-Searing) have a decent damage range. Sword warriors may prefer using the Long Sword from the quest Charr at the Gate, as the bonus armor against Charr for the Rinblade is currently bugged, and sword warriors rely more on Bleeding for damage. The Long Sword (crystalline) from The Prize Moa Bird and The Battle Axe of Enchanting from The Orchard quest can be interesting for casters. If you want to save the experience reward from those quests for later, you can buy the weapons from other players, or create a puppet character for the sole purpose of getting the weapons.
Aside from bonus weapons and quest rewards, some weapons with purple rarity can reach decent stats. However, those weapons only drop from Charr in the Northlands, so can be hard to come by without trading with other players. Unlike the bonus weapons (except Nevermore Flatbow and Rhino's Charge), these weapons can be upgraded, and in some cases will outdamage the bonus weapons, but this requires mods, which again are hard to come by without trading with other players.
Without good weapons, a ranger can still do well if relying on a pet and investing in beast mastery, while a warrior with high sword mastery can still deal reasonable damage through bleeding and deep wound.
Skills in Pre-Searing can be acquired through the quests:
- "The <Profession> Test": usually the third quest in Pre-Searing, completing it is required to be able to "test" a secondary profession. Note that accepting the reward makes War Preparations and Message from a Friend unavailable (350 xp), you need to do these beforehand.
- linked to your profession (primary and secondary should you choose one, 1 or 2 quests depending on profession) will give access to 2 to 3 skills each. Skills are granted upon accepting the quest. The quests are:
- "secondary testing". Five quests are available, one quest for each potential secondary profession. Upon accepting one of the quests, the player will be able to get access to some of the skills of the profession. Although these are only a few sample skills and you won't be able to invest in the attribute, some of them have some use. The quests and notable skills are:
- A Monk's Mission -> Bane Signet, Orison of Healing (for powerleveling purposes)
- The Ranger's Companion -> Charm Animal (gives access to pets) and Troll Unguent
- Grawl Invasion -> Sever Artery, Gash and Healing Signet
- A Mesmer's Burden -> Imagined Burden, Ether Feast
- The Elementalist Experiment -> Glyph of Lesser Energy, Aura of Restoration
- The Necromancer's Novice -> no interesting skill
- "Adventure with an Ally" gives the skill Resurrection Signet. The experience reward is only 100 xp and the skill is useful if playing with someone else.
With a Fire Imp support, it is possible to ignore the first quest "The <Profession> Test", and keep the 850xp reward for later. This means playing with less skills, with in particular no way to heal for warrior, ranger and mesmer, and no secondary test as well, however since the first levels mostly imply killing very weak foes healing is not necessary. The fire imp and the other skills from the primary profession are usually enough for damage.
Deciding definitely on a secondary gives you access to more skills and the ability to invest in their related attributes.
This may look appealing, but in general professions are usually fine relying on their initial attributes and thus not hard-pressed to have a secondary. On the opposite, choosing a secondary means that the "testing" quest of that profession must be completed, making the player claim the 250 XP reward early, and also that other "testing" quests will not be available anymore or have to be completed beforehand to benefit for their total of 1000 xp. Given the fact that quest reward are typically best kept for later, it may be more interesting to not choose a secondary until specific higher levels.
Monk are an exception to this rule, as they deal low damage and as such greatly benefit from a secondary.
Optimal secondaries for each profession in order:
- Optimal: /ranger (the pet tanks well and can deal damage with investment, troll unguent can help to stay alive longer), /monk (Protection and healing prayers grant great defensive abilities, good synergy with Aura of Restoration, bane signet is a free knock down)
- Good: /mesmer (domination magic allows for high single-target damage, ether feast for a strong heal), /necromancer (with investment in death magic, minions can both tank and deal damage, while deathly swarm deals decent damage, but requires exploitable corpses)
- Suboptimal: /warrior (strong heal with Healing signet when behind walls, situational Deep Wound from Gash or interrupt from Hammer Bash against healing enemies, situational Frenzy to suicide and thus rezone faster in the Northlands, but elementalists do not need to be in melee range)
- Optimal: /elementalist (fire magic spells for high damage, glyph of lesser energy for strong energy management), /ranger (access to bow to attack from range, pet can tank and also deal good damage when invested, but single target)
- Decent: /mesmer (domination magic allows for more protection and high damage, but single-target and expensive), /necromancer (minions can tank and deal damage, added benefit to be able to heal the minions, but high energy cost and requires exploitable corpses),
- Suboptimal: /warrior (same as above, access to axe, sword and hammer for damage)
- Optimal: /elementalist (glyph of lesser energy for strong energy management)
- Good: / mesmer (domination magic allows for high single-target damage, which can lead to an exploitable corpse early in the battle, but high energy cost. To a lesser extent more hexes for Soul Barbs), /ranger (even without corpses the pet tanks well and can deal damage with investment, but note that pets themselves do not leave exploitable corpses)
- Suboptimal: /monk (holy damage can help against the non-fleshy skeletons, can heal minions, but no need for self healing most of the time as the necromancer is protected by his minions), /warrior (same as above)
- Optimal: /elementalist (same as above), /ranger (the pet tanks well and can deal damage with investment, troll unguent can help to stay alive longer)
- Good: /necromancer (access to Soul Barbs and minions that can tank for the mesmer)
- Suboptimal: /monk (improves defensive abilities even further, but mesmers are typically already protected enough by their hexes plus ether feast is already a solid heal), /warrior (same as above)
- Optimal: /warrior (frenzy for the increased attack speed on bow attacks, and access to the other weapons, which are viable as ranger is actually quite tanky)
- Good: /elementalist (mostly for Fire Storm), /mesmer (domination magic skills for very high single-target damage, ether feast for a strong heal),
- Decent: / necromancer (high single-target damage from rangers with their bow and/or pet leads to quick exploitable corpses and thus with investment in death magic to minions that can both tank and deal damage, but requires fleshy foes, and note that the pets themselves do not leave exploitable corpses)
- Suboptimal: /monk (as a tanky ranged character, with a tanking pet that can be healed with Comfort Animal, monk brings nothing interesting to the table aside from holy damage vs undeads)
- Optimal: /ranger (access to bow mastery, the pet tanks well and draws hexes while also being a good source of damage with investment, troll unguent can help to stay alive longer)
- Good: / elementalist (mostly Fire Storm) /mesmer (high energy demand, but actually affordable if using hammer or sword, and warriors can tank well while targets kill themselves through empathy or backfire, also backfire counters well the spellcasters that warriors are weak against, ether feast is a strong heal),
- Decent: / necromancer (same as above)
- Suboptimal: / monk (warriors typically tank well and do not need extra healing, but it can help against certains enemies such as undeads, symbol of wrath also deals cheap solid damage in melee range)
It is possible to obtain better pieces of armor from collectors across Pre-Searing:
- Footwear: collector Karleen in The Catacombs near the exit to Green Hills County in exchange for 5 Gargoyle Skulls.
- Hand armor: collector Savich in Wizard's Folly right outside of Foible's Fair in exchange for 3 Icy Lodestones.
- Chest armor: collector Hatcher in Fort Ranik in exchange for 5 Unnatural Seeds.
- Leg armor: collector Varis in Fort Ranik in exchange for 3 Spider Legs.
- Headgear: collector Professor Yakkington in the Secret Garden in Regent Valley in exchange for 50 Red Iris Flowers.
However, the difference in armor rating is only +2, a damage reduction of only ~3,4%, and will be overridden by Vanguard Initiate effect past level 10.
The headgear piece from Professor Yakkington is still worth getting. It offers a valuable +1 to an attribute rank of your choice provide a corresponding rune is placed on the headpiece, for a total +2 in the attribute. However note that runes are obtained randomly from blue rarity salvageable equipment dropped by Charr, and require a Charr Salvage Kit to extract the rune. As a result, it is easier to buy a salvaged rune from other players, although the price can be several platinum.
Inventory size can be increased by:
- Belt Pouch (1, 5 slots): from the collectors Brownlow and Humphreys.
- Charr Bags (2, 10 slots): from Charr bosses or from other players (easier to get from other players, usually 200~400g).
- Small Equipment Pack (1, 5 slots): again from Professor Yakkington in exchange for 50 Red Iris Flowers.
To accumulate gold starting from 0, the easiest way is to first pick blue and white weapons, and sell white weapons (or directly ask for 100g for the identification kit to other players). Once able to afford an identification kit, only pick blue (and purple) weapons and identify them. "Improved Sale Value" blue items can be sold directly to a merchant for good money, while "Highly Salvageable" blue items should first be salvaged and the crafting materials sold to the merchant, a higher return than selling the item directly.
Alternatively, gathering trophies and exchanging them with Nicholas Sandford will allow to get Gifts of the Huntsman, which are usually desirable for players in pre-Searing and can fetch for about 300g/each from players.
Red Iris Flowers are used for Professor Yakkington and Nicholas Sandford, and due to the fact that they cannot be farmed efficiently, they will usually fetch for 30-50g/each from players, making them an easy way to gather money. See Guide to farming Red Iris Flowers for details.
Dyes can also be sold to players with White and to lesser extent Blue, Red and Pink being usually more desirable, to a price between 50g and 1 platinum. Black Dyes are an exception, as those are used as a second currency to bypass the 100 platinum limit in pre-Searing and fetch much higher, for more than 14-18 platinum depending on market rates.
Purple weapons, especially fire staves and fire wands, and those carrying rare weapons mods or having high damage range are valuable. Of Charrslaying modifiers are very valuable since Charr are easily the preferred targets when farming in pre-Searing.
Transferring items out of pre-Searing
Some items, such as Victory and Lunar Tokens have no value in pre-Searing. Others, such as various types of unsalvaged items, crafting material (including Spider Webs that can be salvaged for Silk) and Miniatures can be acquired in pre-Searing and have little to no value there, while having value outside of pre-Searing.