The Scrying Pool: A Magical Find

This week's article of The Scrying Pool looks at a hot topic in GW2: Magic Find.

In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, whether that be lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.

Magic Find (MF) has been a topic for heated debate since launch. MF is a stat that increases the chances of mobs dropping better loot. So a person with higher MF has a better chance of getting higher rarity (see more valuable) equipment to drop.

There are a few different methods of acquiring MF. Players can increase it through buffs gained from guild banners and boosts purchased through the gem store. In addition to these personal buffs, guilds can activate a time limited boost to MF through influence. These three acquisition methods are not a problem or the cause of player uproar since these three are buffs that stack without any detriment to other stats.

The last two ways of increasing a player’s MF are through specific food and stated gear. This is where MF runs into a bit of a problem with the community. Not all gear or food is created equal, however, as different items will give different combinations of stats. It is from these specific food and gear items that players can obtain the largest amount of MF, but players obtain this at the cost of the MF stat replacing a stat more useful during combat. Since Magic Find is replacing a more useful combat stat, a big part of the debate is whether players are hurting their teammates by playing in MF gear.

Whether or not MF hurts team is not something I will discuss in this article. That said the current implementation of MF is not good for the game, a sentiment that Colin Johanson of ArenaNet agrees with:

“We’re also actively discussing ways on how we’d best like to alleviate having to make players choose between having better stats or using magic find. It’s not a choice that’s great for game play and there isn’t really anything that fun about it…”

Colin’s statement mimics my own dislike for the current setup for MF, especially when talking about food. ArenaNet did a good job with creating the Cooking profession and all the different foods created by it. Almost all of the foods are worthless, however, compared to the handful of foods that give MF.

The same principle applies somewhat when talking about gear stats. For any build there might be that one good stat combination or the player could just roll MF. Charting this would show that half are devoted to MF while the other half is split across the 15+ different stat combinations. I am not implying that 50% of all players use MF gear, but that a single MF stat combination could be more widely useful than any other single stat combination.

The obvious solution to the problem is to remove MF from gear and upgrade components, but this comes with its own set of problems. How do players now obtain MF? What happens to the MF gear stats when it is removed? Will guilds and the gem store be the only sources of it? Is it just completely bad for the game and should be removed entirely?

Magic Find shouldn’t be removed entirely. As mentioned, with the guild and gem store centric buffs for MF, it isn’t a bad thing as long as it is not replacing something to the detriment of other game mechanics (i.e. other in game stats). Having MF in the gem store is really an awesome thing to have in a cash shop. The way MF works is almost magical. It is one of those things that can be labelled as necessary, worth it, unnecessary and not worth it all at the same time.

The topic of pay to win comes up frequently with cash shops, but with MF those that are using it may feel that they are winning while those without it don’t really feel that they are losing. The debate isn’t really that players are upset with other players rocking MF, it is that those players aren’t rocking stats like power or toughness that would help in killing mobs and progressing through the content at hand.

A couple solutions that come up is tying MF as a fourth stat to gear (thus not replacing a better stat) and tying it to a player’s level (so the higher the character’s level, the higher the MF). Having a fourth stat on gear could work two ways: some gear either by rare chance or specific stat combination has it added or all gear has MF added.

Having MF added by a rare chance would be the absolute worst way to go about this. This goes hand in hand with grinding. If there was a choice between having Exotics or Exotics+ that included an extra stat, players would want to chase after that, creating that dreaded grind for the rare Exotic+. Then having it only available on select stat combinations doesn’t completely fix the problem as players are still possibly deciding between the best stats for their build or going with stats that include MF.

Putting MF on all gear would solve the problem, but then MF isn’t something special that players achieve. The next part of Colin’s quote mimics the unlikeliness of this solution: “Ideally we’d also like to keep the ability to slowly build your magic find over time, but doing this at the cost of using better stats isn’t the right way to do that.”

Including MF in all gear at all levels would allow players to build magic find over time as Colin says, but this falls in line with the problem of tying it to a player’s level. In both of these solutions players are not actually building MF, but instead are slowly gaining it without any effort or achievement.

A Possible Solution? -->

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