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 an area that a character can never return to, Ascalon pre-Searing is a very unique place isolated inside the game.
Pre-Searing allows new players to discover the game mechanics, test the different professions, earn a few levels through quests, acquire a secondary profession and eventually proceed with the rest of the game.
But people sometimes stay longer than necessary (and often even forever, in which case the character is called a permanent pre-Searing character, or Perma Pre for short):
- To acquire the title Legendary Defender of Ascalon.
- To farm items such as consumables and dyes. Enemies are very easy to defeat, and some players believe the drop rate of dyes is higher there.
- Gold, items or titles, being harder to get, generally hold more value than in post-Searing. Examples include dyes, consumables, the Survivor title, the Kind Of A Big Deal title.
- To guide and help players, and potentially recruit them to guilds.
- To relax, enjoying the scenery, music and low difficulty.
- To enjoy a smaller community.
How it differs
Item restrictions, and how to circumvent them
- There is no storage. As a result, and given the one-way exit of the area, only gold and items obtained in pre-Searing can be used in pre-Searing.
- Players often run several "storage characters", prefereably on a secondary account, in order to store and transfer items between characters.
- Merchants do not offer Bags (and other inventory containers), nor Expert Salvage Kits (and other salvage kits).
- There is little option to get better armor. There is no Armorer. A collector armor may be acquired, but it offers little difference compared to the starter armor.
- Vanguard Initiate will increase the armor the most, although it comes with various restrictions while still being lower than the maximum of post-Searing.
- There is little option to get better weapons. The only Weaponsmith offers mostly unremarkable weapons.
- Luckily, Bonus items are available and among those are a few perfect weapons. All martial weapon types can be obtained with maximum stats this way, with the notable exception of axe, and a few good caster weapons as well.
- Charr can also drop decent purple rarity weapons. Although these weapons are weaker than their bonus counterparts, the modifiers on them can sometimes make them more desirable. The maximum value observed by players is listed on websites such as presearing.com.
- There is no Rune Trader.
- Consumables cannot be bought or crafted, and there is no event collector.
The skill bar is severely limited:
- Only core professions are available. Players cannot choose Assassin, Dervish, Paragon, nor Ritualist, as primary or secondary profession.
- There are 6 to 8 skills available per profession (see List of Ascalon (pre-Searing) skills), in addition to the Resurrection Signet. The only skill trainer Halbrik teaches only the skills from the local skill quests.
- There is no access to Hard Mode, so skill tomes are unavailable.
- Elite skills, although some can be seen used by selected NPCs, cannot be captured.
- The character cannot change its secondary profession, nor claim the missing 30 attribute points from attribute quests.
The team size is limited to 2 players.
- There are no heroes nor henchmen.
- There is only one summoning stone, the bonus Igneous Summoning Stone.
- A few NPCs, such as the ranger Ben Wolfson from the quest Across the Wall, can be used to fight foes, but only in certain areas and under specific conditions.
- Pet deaths do not cause skill blackout.
- There is no death penalty.
- Foes do not flee from AoE damage.
What to expect
The armor rating and level of non-vanguard foes in pre-Searing is very low. As a result, attacks with an high attribute rank and spells dealing armor-respecting damage will deal high damage, and attacks will critical more often, making warriors (with all three weapons), rangers (bow or pet-focused), Minion masters necromancers and Fire Magic-spaming elementalists, whether primary or secondary, at ease in pre-Searing (provided they can afford a good weapon in the case of martial characters). Armor-ignoring skills, typically Power Shot, can appear less interesting than simply using regular auto-attacks.
- Notable bonus weapons include Guild Wars: Game of the Year Edition's Rhino's Charge, Nevermore Flatbow, Luminescent Scepter and Tiger's Roar, and the Guild Wars Eye of the North Prerelease Bonus Pack's Glacial Blade, Hourglass Staff and Darksteel Longbow. To know whether you have access to these weapons, type "/bonus" in the chat window and they should appear in your inventory.
- Without access to the bonus weapons, a few notable weapons can be obtained through quests. If you want to save the experience reward from those quests for later, you can buy the weapons from other players, or create a character just to get the weapons. These weapons include:
- 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, the Long Sword from the quest Charr at the Gate and the Rinblade crafted by Arthur Ayala in Ascalon City (pre-Searing) have a decent damage range, although stronger weapons may be obtained. Note that the bonus armor against Charr for the Rinblade is bugged and does not work.
- The Long Sword (crystalline) from The Prize Moa Bird and The Battle Axe of Enchanting from The Orchard quest are interesting for casters.
- 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.
- Remember to customize new weapons for a 20% increase in damage, if you do not intend to sell them afterwards.
- At level 10, having a vanguard quest active will grant the player the Vanguard Initiate effect, increasing armor but also voiding various other bonuses.
- The bonus shield Serrated Shield offers good protection, especially at lower level, and a helpful health boost, even with no investment in Tactics. Vanguard Initiate will void the base armor if under the effect, however.
- The Tall Shield obtained as a reward for the quest Bandit Raid offers a helpful +10 armor bonus vs Charr and +15HP, which are not voided by Vanguard Initiate, making it a good choice when farming in the Northlands.
Focus on the Fire Imp
The Fire Imp summon is an extremely good ally, and any player looking to linger in pre-Searing should consider getting its bonus summoning stone at some point, and think twice before getting level 20 (at which point the stone ceases to be usable).
- The imp can be summoned for free and endlessly (with the only restriction of Summoning Sickness).
- It does not steal loot nor experience like a player or Ben Wolfson would.
- It deals significant damage, and Fireball hits in an area, allowing to tackle foes at a lower level than usual, kill faster, outdamage healing foes, and even finish off quest targets should you fall in combat, allowing to avoid backtracking, saving a lot of time in the long run.
- It can tank well. Only warrior, and ranger at levels 17 and 18, both under Vanguard Initiate, have a higher armor rating, while the imp also has a self-heal in Glyph of Restoration.
- It deals fire damage, to which Ice Elementals and Oakhearts, both good targets for experience at low level, are vulnerable.
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.
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.
Fixing 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 rewards are typically best kept for later, it may be more interesting to not choose a secondary until specific higher levels.
Monks 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.
Legendary Defender of Ascalon
- Charr Bags were introduced as part of the February 14, 2007 update. Small equipment packs were added in the April 23, 2009 update.
- For a short period of time, guild halls could be accessed from pre-Searing, allowing access to the storage. A few very rare items can thus be found in pre-Searing that cannot be obtained through normal gameplay, including skill tomes, major or superior runes, and perfect weapons. How many of these items still exist ingame is unknown.