It is altogether fitting that an apparition of royal descent who is normally confined to an otherworldly realm when the leaves are not hued and falling would describe the chains and staggered platforms leading decidedly downward to the place of his eventual undoing as an “ascent.” One would have to be either deliberately contrarian or mad to do so – perhaps both. We must simply accept that this is a realm of frights and sights not meant to be understood. Plain language be damned. These places demand thorny, winding words.
I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 on and off for about two years and have just now gotten around to completing the meta-achievement for the Mad King’s festivities, if they can be called that. The majority of these events were completed by participating in large-group waste-laying, the calling card of what we would now call “classic” Guild Wars 2. Mind you, I’m not even tangentially referring to the realm of Mordremoth as I’ve only just now begun to roam the switchbacks of Verdant Brink. There’s much too much Halloween to be done in too many places and not enough time to do it.
The majority of my ooky-spooky accomplishments were self-completing affairs that popped up onto my screen as I followed this or that snaking mass of players through the Mad King’s Labyrinth. The most time-consuming of these was the Master Carver achievement which required knifing a face into the sides of 150 pumpkins; I squirreled away from the icon of the hour (variously colored diamonds for commanders and apples for mentors) every time I spotted an uncut jack-o’-lantern sneakily tucked away into the corner of an unfenced precipice. Six hours and roughly twice that number of Looking For Group taxis later, I had completed the eight achievements required for the “meta.”
In doing so, I finally broke 4,000 Achievement Points and am now unofficially qualified to participate in dungeon runs with random players. Somehow that doesn’t strike me as a perk worth acknowledging, but there it is. Now I have only to increase that score by four- or five-fold and I’ll be on par with some of the Hall of Monuments veterans on my friends list.
There is Real Ultimate Madness to be had, if one so desires. There are all manner of consumables and crafting recipes found on the vendors in Lion’s Arch which can be purchased for corn cobs – comprising a mere 1,000 pieces of candy corn each – and other holiday sweets that are awarded en masse for the simple act of opening scores upon scores of the ubiquitous Trick or Treat bags that are handed out for having done pretty much anything. That there are so many of them has little influence on their selling power: thousands of them are needed to generate the mass quantities of candied ingredients required to master the culinary creation of even the simplest of holiday treats. There’s also a miniature that can be yours for the low, low price of 100,000 pieces of candy corn. I think I’ll pass.
When all was said and done – all that I cared to say and do, that is – there was one thing that continued to nag at me: the Mad King’s Clock Tower. It’s a timed, Nintendo-hard platforming dream-smasher that typically sees most – preferably all – players fail before reaching the halfway point. On the first and last occasion that I managed to hurl my scrawny human form up to the very top of that devilishly wretched, Glint’s Lair-caliber assemblage of demented geometry, I thought I felt my icy heart freeze solid for a few seconds as I wondered aloud whether one of the last jumps would, indeed, be my last. The Mad King relented at the end and, as I fell short of the final jump into the lightning-shattered window, granted me a generous hitbox that transported me into the soothing ambience of the treasure chamber’s innards. My reward was two tonics, 25 bags of candy, and an exotic heavy armor chestpiece that was promptly skin-unlocked and mystic-salvaged for Globs of Ectoplasm. Some people’s treasure is other people’s trash.
It had only taken me 70 or 80 agonizing attempts and the waiting time in between to liberate myself from another year of bemoaning my inability to precision-jump up frustratingly unforgiving real estate faster than the swirling acid bath below could rise up to greet me and send me back to the bottom via the Coffin Express. It was a non-combat version of Liadri that made me just as furious and foul-mouthed as her one-shot mechanics had. Instant murder, in any context, has a tendency to lead to cracked monitor screens, mutilated desks, and sailor-length strings of profanity.
I spared my possessions this ill-tempered treatment and found myself the following morning cooling off in the Mad King’s Labyrinth for a brief time farming up a few dozen more of those Trick or Treat bags. Having engaged in a bit of Trading Post research on gw2tp, I found that profit derived from the sale of Trick or Treat bags has historically peaked on 1) the day before the Halloween event begins and 2) the last day of the Halloween event. The first option was right out as I wasn’t interested in waiting a year to sell my supply, so I opted on the last day of the Shadow of the Mad King to sell my 500 or so bags (minus the several hundred I had previously opened out of curiosity) for a cool 6 silver and 72 copper each before Trading Post fees. I’m now sitting on a grand total of 50 gold pieces which is the personal Tyrian financial equivalent of swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s money vault.
And so I find myself in prime position to engage with Heart of Thorns. Come to think of it, there is that business with Samhain going on in The Secret World until the 17th of November and I haven’t even touched it…