It’s Wintersday in Guild Wars! From the latest game update:
On the twelfth moon of Wintersday ArenaNet gave to me…
Blessings from Dwayna
One mighty snowman
Weapons made of candy
Gifts that might kill you
New winter monsters
Some really long quests!
Lots of drinking Dwarves
Curses from Grenth
And a new way to watch PvP!
In Observer Mode you can watch top-ranked guilds battle. There is a 15-minute delay on the battles you are watching, to prevent cheating. You can make the camera zoom in and out, and follow individual players. There is an auto-camera function which can be disabled. Observers can chat to each other. There is no limit to the number of Observers that can watch a match, but Observers are randomly assigned to groups of 100. The positions of all the players in the arena are displayed on the mini-map, and there is display that shows the health of each team member.
Ascalon City looks wonderful. It’s all snowy and festive! The other areas that are decorated for Wintersday are: Lion’s Arch, Droknar’s Forge, and the Tomb of Primeval Kings.
I have created a photoset for Wintersday! Use the “See different sizes” link and enlarge the picture view if you can’t read the text on some of the images.
There is a storyteller near the fountain in Ascalon City, and he is telling a tale of a power struggle between Dwayna and Grenth long ago, and the origins of Wintersday. Apparently, Dwayna’s influence was waxing, and she loosed Grenth’s icy hold over the land. Then Grenth’s followers tricked Dwayna’s clerics with cursed pressies, because her followers were more numerous at the time than his. The masses abandoned Dwayna because their clerics temporarily disappeared. So now the followers of Dwayna never accept gifts from followers of Grenth.
One thing that had been puzzling me is when exactly Wintersday occurs on our calendar. In Lion’s Arch, a Wintersday Crier announced on 25th December:
Deck the guild halls and make merry, Tyrians… only 6 days until Wintersday! Don’t miss out on the annual contest in Lion’s Arch between Grenth and Dwayna. Two gods enter, one god leaves… until next year!
This means that Wintersday occurs on 31st December, though some speculate that Wintersday is on 1st January.
Dwayna Vs Grenth
Characters can have snowball fights in the the Snow Arena! You fight for either Dwayna, the goddess of life and air, or Grenth, the god of death and cold. The object of the match is to collect five Wintersday presents and bring them to your god’s avatar.
Players are randomly assigned to a team and to a party. If you have friends and think that pressing “Enter Mission” all at the same time will allow you to play on the same side and in the same instance — think again. Some players were chatting in the staging area, and another person commented that this tactic doesn’t work. I have not tried it myself, so I cannot verify this information. I would think that it wouldn’t work, because players are told by the Snow Arena Master that “the fates” will decide the outcome of the battles, or something along those lines. The winning team stays in the arena to meet the next challengers, however you don’t necessarily play for the same god as in the previous match.
On Dwayna’s team (Blue), there are children cheering you on, and they say they love you every time you bring them a present. Standing next to the avatar of Grenth team (Red) are two little green-skinned “Grentches” wearing red hats with white fuzzy bobbles on top. The Grentches cheer because they are spoiling Wintersday for Dwayna’s followers. At the end of the match you get a Winter Gift! See below for more information on gifts. You also earn XP and Faction points from your kills in the arena (Those snowballs are deadly!). Faction points are used to unlock Elite Skills for use in PvP.
All characters are given 500 Health and 40 Energy, so it doesn’t matter what level they are. Characters are limited to using only the special Snow Skills. For my Necromancer primary, they are: Snowball, Mega Snowball, Snow Down the Shirt, Hidden Rock, Avalanche, Holiday Blues (Necromancer), Ice Fort, and “Mmmm, Snowcone!”. Professions have one unique skill, and you also have a Skill affliliated with whatever god you are fighting for.
Battling in the Snow Arena is loads of fun. For some reason, I usually get placed on Dwaya’s team. I’ve been on winning and losing teams. I’ve mainly been on losing teams, though. Some people don’t understand the concept of Target Calling or don’t understand how the Draw feature on the compass works. I once led a team to victory by collecting four of the five Wintersday gifts for Dwayna. Our team went on to win just one more time, but it was all good fun.
There are Grentches in in Ascalon City! Presents spawn throughout town, and when your character picks one up, the Grentches will chase you. You can try to give the Wintersday gifts to the children NPCs in the cities before the Grentches get them, but the Grentches are fast little buggers. If they catch up with you, your present explodes in a flash of black smoke and green light!
In addition to the normal Henchmen, you can have the option to add Enchanted Snowmen to your party in the three major cities of Tyria (Ascalon City, Lion’s Arch, Droknar’s Forge). They seem to be Ice Elementals (or possibly Ice Golems?) with snowman heads on them. They use Elementalist Skills (Water) in battle.
Two Wintersday quests available from Old Nickoles in Lion’s Arch (spoilers):
Collectors are trading for Wintersday items. Wintersday items can be obtained by trading dropped items such as Singed Gargoyle Skulls, Stormy Eyes, Grawl Necklaces, and Charr Carvings (Ascalon City). Luckily, I am one of those people who sometimes saves these ‘worthless’ items, so I had enough for trading.
The Wintersday items are: Egg Nog, Spiked Egg Nog, Winter Gift, Candy Cane, and Snowman Summoner. Each of these gifts have different effects.
Spiked Egg Nog gets your character drunk with one use. You vision becomes all weird and reddish-purplish, and you start running around and saying things like “Everybody stop shouting!” or “I think I’m going to be sick!”.
Regular Egg Nog simply makes your vision blurry and the colours seem a little more vivid than normal. You need to use several to make your character drunk.
The Snowman Summoner summons a snowman at your location. It lasts for a short while and then it melts.
The Candy Cane, which can only be used outside of town, removes all Death Penalty that your character has accumulated.
If you use a Winter Gift from one of the Followers of Grenth, its use causes a small flash-bang. This version of the gift can also be obtained after a loss in the Snow Arena. Winter Gifts from followers of Dwayna yield one of the other Wintersday items. This version of the gift can also be obtained by a win in the Snow Arena.
Crafters are making Wintersday weapons. You must collect Candy Cane Shards, which monsters drop randomly, in order to provide crafting materials for the weapons. You need 4 Candy Cane Shards to craft a Weapon, and 7 Candy Cane Shards to craft a Shield or Focus Item. I personally have found that Candy Cane Shards are fairly uncommon drops.
[EDIT: See my photoblogged culmination of the Wintersday activities here.]