Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons Strike Missions, Balance, and Rewards

by The Guild Wars 2 Team on February 11, 2022

Hello everyone! We’re Cameron Rich, Encounters Design Team Lead, and Solar, Skills and Balance Design Lead. Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons™ is almost upon us, and we wanted to give you an advance look at a few important changes that will help keep Guild Wars 2‘s endgame PvE content fresh and rewarding for a long time to come. These changes to rewards and profession balance work together with the design of our new Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons Strike Mission encounters. Today we’re giving you some details so that you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when the expansion launches on February 28. Let’s jump right into it!

Striking Back

Challenging group PvE content is one of the cornerstones of Guild Wars 2, and Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons will ship with four new Strike Missions available on launch day.

You’ll be introduced to each encounter and their core mechanics as you play through the story chapters, and access to each Strike Mission will be permanently unlocked for your account once you complete each relevant chapter in the Story Journal. By integrating these encounters directly into the story, we’re looking to grow the Strike Mission audience and encourage as many players as possible to give them a try.

With this wider target audience, we’ve tuned the base difficulty of each Strike Mission to make knowledge and mastery over the encounter’s mechanics the most important factors in achieving success. Each encounter has a series of “pass or fail” mechanical checks that reinforce this design philosophy, ensuring that groups can’t bypass key mechanics while also ensuring individuals can still have heroic moments where they save the group from destruction. We sought to strike a balance where players of all kinds can enjoy the content and have a satisfying experience working their way towards victory.

For those looking for even greater glory, Challenge Modes for each Strike Mission will be coming shortly after launch, with increased rewards for those who choose to tackle them. We’re in the final stages of tuning and balancing these grueling encounters and can’t wait to unleash them into the world.

Check out our previous post on Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons Strike Missions for more details.

Rewards Changes

With Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, we’re adjusting existing reward systems to make it clearer how they fit together, to ensure they’re exciting and have long-term appeal, and to give them a role in crafting legendary equipment.

These changes affect high-end fractal rewards, Icebrood Saga Strike Missions, rewards from new Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons Strike Missions, and an addition to raid reward vendors.

High End Fractal Rewards

We approach any adjustments to our Mystic Coin economy with a lot of care. Mystic Coins are a fundamental currency used to create Mystic Clovers and are used directly in many legendary items.

Currently, Challenge Mode fractals are one of the largest single sources for Mystic Coins entering our economy, as each boss in Challenge Mode 98, 99, and 100 has a small chance to award either 1, 2, or 3 Mystic Coins.

Although this chance is random and unreliable, it adds up as many players take on Challenge Mode fractals consistently, making fractals the most efficient one-stop source for obtaining the gold, Mystic Coins, and Mystic Clovers you need for legendary progression. We want to spread the love to other types of content, but that means that no single source should award such high amounts of legendary resources at the same time.

The following changes will arrive with the expansion launch:

  • Mystic Clover purchases from the fractals vendor now resets weekly, instead of daily. You can purchase up to 10 Mystic Clovers per week.
  • The cost of each Mystic Clover you purchase from the fractal vendor has been adjusted to cost 1 less Glob of Ectoplasm and 1 more Mystic Coin. The total cost per Mystic Clover is 150 Fractal Relics, 2 Mystic Coins, 2 Globs of Ectoplasm, and 2 Spirit Shards. This is approximately 2/3 of the average cost of creating a Mystic Clover via the Mystic Forge.
  • Bosses in Challenge Mode 98, 99, and 100 no longer have a chance to drop Mystic Coins.

The new price and weekly frequency of the discounted Mystic Clovers from fractal vendors will be consistent with other sources of Mystic Clovers we’re adding to strikes and raids. The removal of Mystic Coin drops from Challenge Mode bosses creates room for us to add a consistent and predictable source of Mystic Coins to strikes.

Icebrood Saga Strikes: Blue Prophet Shards

Right now in the live game, Icebrood Saga Strike Missions award Red, Blue, and Green Prophet Shards. The color awarded changes from week to week.

This is more complicated than it needs to be, and it can be difficult to learn how each type of currency is earned and what they are for.

This system will be improved with the following changes on February 28:

  • All Icebrood Saga strikes will only award Blue Prophet Shards.
  • All Icebrood Saga strike rewards that used to cost Green and Red Prophet Shards now cost Blue Prophet Shards.
  • All your Red and Green Prophet Shards will be automatically exchanged for Blue Prophet Shards the next time you log in after the expansion launches.
  • Green Prophet Shards are now awarded by new End of Dragons Strike Missions and Red Prophet Shards are no longer in use.

End of Dragons Strikes: Green Prophet Shards

Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons strikes will all award Green Prophet Shards, which can be spent at a new vendor found in a hub area in Cantha.

In addition to their own new set of rewards, Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons strikes will have two weekly-limited trades, allowing you to exchange your Green Prophet Shards for materials used to create legendary equipment.

  • 10 Times per Week: Trade 10 Green Prophet Shards and 1 Spirit Shard for 1 Mystic Coin
  • 5 Times per Week: Trade 30 Green Prophet Shards, 2 Mystic Coins, 2 Globs of Ectoplasm, and 2 Spirit Shards for 1 Mystic Clover

Raids and Mystic Clovers

We’re also adding a Mystic Clover purchase option that’ll give raiders a way to spend their raid currencies on broader legendary progress goals.

  • 10 Times per Week: Trade 30 Magnetite Shards, 2 Mystic Coins, 2 Globs of Ectoplasm, and 2 Spirit Shards for 1 Mystic Clover.

Between 10 per week from fractals, 10 per week from raids, and 5 per week from Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons strikes, you can purchase 25 discounted Mystic Clovers each week. We don’t expect every method to be equally efficient for everyone, and which ones are best for you depends on the type of content you play regularly.

If you play fractal Challenge Modes often, then you have access to lots of Fractal Relics, and so fractals remain an efficient source of Mystic Clovers for you. Raiders will be able to spend up to 300 Magnetite Shards a week to convert into Mystic Clovers, which is the maximum earned from killing bosses each week (and converting your Gaeting Crystals into Magnetite Shards as well), although some raiders can earn a little more from sources such as extra boss miniatures and the weekly achievement for completing five raid Challenge Mode bosses.

The five Mystic Clovers a week from Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons strikes are an option if you don’t have regular access to raids or lots of Fractal Relics, but players who engage across multiple content types will find it most efficient to earn their Mystic Coins with strikes, and then spend those for Mystic Clovers using either Fractal Relics or Magnetite Shards.

With Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons you’ll have more options, and all our endgame content can help you advance your legendary goals.

Equipment, Profession, and Skill Updates

Where We’re Coming From, and Where We’re Going

Bring the player, not the profession. That’s our goal.

We want to ensure that every player feels like they’re able to play the profession they like or identify with the most and bring valuable contributions to the group. This means roles should be determined by your build and gear rather than your profession.

Guild Wars 2 is about positive, cooperative encounters. When more players play at the same time and place, they are all stronger. No profession is purely selfish and completely unable to benefit nearby allies.

A year ago, essential gameplay roles such as alacrity and quickness were only able to be filled by a few specific builds. In May of last year, we added a couple additional options. While this has improved the diversity we see in actual raid groups, it was just a start.

The nine new elite specializations coming in Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons spread boon support roles to professions that didn’t have access to them, making it easier to slot the profession you like to play into the role your group has available.

At its core, Guild Wars 2 thrives when the game encourages build diversity. A few additional changes are coming to increase parity between professions on a wider scale.

Forming a Squad: Skill Target Caps in PvE

Currently, forming a squad for 10-player content requires juggling specific roles between subgroups based on target caps. Some roles, such as alacrity and warriors’ banners, have a target cap of 10 players, while almost all others–such as most healing, quickness, and other boons have a target cap of 5.

Originally, the 10-target cap on renegade (and later mirage) alacrity were because there were so few options to fill this essential boon role. Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons will give engineer, guardian, and thief support builds access to alacrity; and elementalist and necromancer will be able to provide quickness. With these added options, now is the right time to simplify this aspect of squad formation.

Most 10-target skills and traits in PvE will have a maximum target cap of 5 in the expansion, matching their current target caps in PvP and WvW. Generally, this’ll mean that for each subgroup in a squad for strikes or raids, you’ll want a healer, a source of quickness, and a source of alacrity, though we expect expert theorycrafters to find ways to combine some of these roles!

From Who Can to Who Can’t?

In Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, only warrior and ranger lack the ability to fill those essential boon support roles.

Since banners and spirits are unique effects, warrior and ranger break from the simple system of shared boons and conditions that allows professions to share common roles. While this creates certain unique group roles like the banner warrior, it also strongly limits play.

Warrior players have been telling us for years that they’d like to be something other than a banner warrior in groups! We agree, and we’re going to rework banners and spirits to fit our shared boon system and open new options for warrior and ranger players. Both professions will have access to new boon support roles using revamped banners, spirits, and related traits.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints and work on new elite specializations, we were unable to make these changes for the Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons launch, and we’re planning to make them part of a larger profession update and balance patch coming this summer. Until then, banners and spirits will remain as they are and continue to have a 10-target cap.

New Equipment Attribute Combinations

You’ll have two new equipment attribute combination options in Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons:

  • Ritualist’s equipment provides a large increase to condition damage and vitality, and a small increase to concentration and expertise.
  • Dragon’s equipment provides a large increase to power and ferocity, and a small increase to precision and vitality.

These attribute combinations will be available as an option for all legendary equipment immediately on launch day, and you can earn equipment with these prefixes by playing expansion content.

We look forward to seeing what exciting new builds these attribute combinations enable across all our game modes!

The Path Ahead

It may be called Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, but this isn’t an end; it’s a beginning. As we look forward to 2022 and beyond, we’re glad to have you with us on our continued journey together through Tyria.

There’s a lot to look forward to, and we can’t wait to share more of what’s still to come.