The Scrying Pool: Black Rawr Chest

In this week's article of The Scrying Pool, I look at how I'd change the Black Lion Chest.

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, be that 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.

The Black Lion Chest has always been a hot topic for the Guild Wars 2 cash shop, whether that topic be the general hate of anything RNG (random number generated, i.e. a computer randomly picking what you are going to get) or the addition of temporary items that were only available for a limited time through the chest. I never really liked the chest, and not for the RNG or to an extent the temporary items, but that the chest never really felt epic.

The chest itself drops from mobs within the game, but to open the chest players must purchase a Black Lion Chest Key from the gem store for 125 gems (approximately $1.50). The chest itself is a somewhat common drop. At the time of writing this, there are almost 3 million of the chests available on the Trading Post for only 6c each.

After obtaining both a chest and a key, players can open the chest and receive three items. The items from the chest are a good mix of items you can buy from the gem store and unique items only available from the chest.

While you receive three items from the chest, the contents of the chest will usually boil down to a single uncommon item from the just. For example you might open a chest and be excited that you got that Black Lion Salvage Kit or a Black Lion Claim Ticket for a special weapon. If the chest is one or nothing, why do we need to get three items out of it?

So how would I change the Black Lion Chest from three item rewards to just a single reward? For the first time ever, The Scrying Pool is going to break out the bullet points. (Changes to item amounts is the number of that item the player can receive from a single box. So Transmutations Crystals currently come in a stack of 5 when received and with my change they would only come in a stack of 2.)

  • Reduce the cost of keys by two thirds to 40 gems to match the reduced rewards
  • Reduce number of Transmutation Crystals from 5 to 2
  • Reduce number of Instant Repair Canisters 1-2 to 1
  • Add 2x Custom Arena Time Tokens
  • Remove the Killstreak Experience Booster
  • Make Karma, Magic Find and Experience Boosters more common
  • Make Armor, Rejuvenation, Speed and Strength Boosters less common, but receive random two from each chest (So if you get the unique booster roll from the chest, you might get an Armor and a Strength and another time you might get an Armor and a Speed)
  • Make Crafting and PvP Glory Boosters less common (Due to crafting having no use once crafting is capped and Glory Boosters obtainable in-game)
  • Increase Unidentified Dyes from 1-2 to 3-4
  • Increase Heavy Bag of Coins from 1-2 to 2
  • Increase Small Guild Discovery from 1 to 2-3
  • Increase Medium Guild Discovery from 1 to 1-3
  • Increase Large Guild Discovery from 1 to 1-3
  • Change Guild Discoveries to be non-bound
  • Reintroduce Black Lion Gathering Tools with increased usage (125 uses for pick and axe, 75 uses for sickle)
    • Account-bound
    • 4 similar tools may be forged to create an Account-bound on Use tool with high usage (500 uses for pick and axe, 300 uses for sickle)
    • Players also receive 2 Mystery Tonics whenever they receive tools from the chest
  • Remove Black Lion Claim Ticket Scraps as a standard reward
  • Add Black Lion Claim Ticket Scraps as a bonus reward

Some of the changes above are to match the reduced cost of the keys while others are to bring up the value of the items to match a baseline. The Guild Discoveries are a good example of being way below the value of a key. Trading gold to gems at the moment would make a 40 gem key cost about 3 gold, but the 50 influence a Small Guild Discovery can give only costs 10 silver from an NPC in-game. The increases still keeps the Guild Discoveries low on value from the chest, but help bring up the bottom values. Their trade-ability also helps small guilds that want to buy influence and gives a trade-able value to players who don’t need influence.

While both the rewards and price of the key have been reduced by two thirds, it would have a shift on the rewards received. While players currently get three separate rewards from a single chest, they are all unique rewards with no possibility of duplicates within a single chest. If the chest drop rates were unchanged, it is likely almost every chest would result in Mystery Tonics.

With the change I would shift the drop rates to match the value of the item. I want the chests to feel a little more worthwhile and also a little epic. If you spend 40 gems on a key, you are probably going to get something that is worth around 40 gems such as the Bank Access Express (35 gems) or the Instant Repair Canister (75 gems). Unless you always get the bottom of the barrel with Mystery Tonics or Guild Discoveries, you will be getting out what you put in. This also makes it feel a little epic when you get those high value items such as the Black Lion Salvage Kit (300 gems) or the unique items that sell on the Trading Post for hundreds of gold.

I liked the idea of having the Black Lion gathering tools when they were initially in the chest, but they always felt like they should do something more. That is why I reintroduced them with higher usages that could then be forged into this mega use tool. While the unlimited tools reduces the value of these (especially now that the unlimited tools are no longer soulbound on use), I think they would still be a valuable alternative to players who don’t want to spend money on the cash shop to get unlimited tools. Since they are Account-bound on Use, players can sell these on the Trading Post to those players not looking to buy unlimited tools.

To sweeten the deal on the tools, players also get the Mystery Tonics with any tool drop. Mystery Tonics would also become a little less common, as the value drop rarity would put these alongside a handful of other drops in likeliness to receive. Similarly, the Black Lion Claim Ticket Scraps are now a rare chance to be awarded as a bonus reward in addition to any other reward. The Scraps themselves don’t really have a value, as they don’t have a use until you acquire 10 to make a full ticket. So while getting one would be another step toward a weapon, opening a chest and getting just a scrap feels a little unsatisfying.

These changes I think would help make the chests feel a little more epic, as most of the rewards would be more valuable than the key itself (except for a the bottom values to help balance the RNG). It also makes a big addition to the cheap end of the gem store. Having cheap items helps bring in new real currency buyers and most of the gem store now sits in the $5-15 range. Having a very cheap RNG item would help the store.

As a last thought, ArenaNet should really look to add a Tonic Cannon to the gem store. I would price it at 800 gems to match the Flute and Marriner’s Horn. What the Tonic Cannon does is allow players to shoot tonics at other players forcing the transformation on the target. Imagine the fun (and trolling) if you could shoot your Mystery Tonics at other players and laugh at their surprise of being turned into a pig.

Matt "Mattsta" Adams is curious what will happen when the Antitoxin Injected bar fills up.

Our guild had a discussion going the other day asking what if you could be added to the game, how would you want to be added? If I was added, I would want my column The Scrying Pool to be the real show runner. The problem is that The Scrying Pool is an actual place in game and any connection would probably go to that and not my column. Falling back to Mattsta wouldn't really work as it would be an odd name for an NPC or item. What would be cool is to have a plaque added to the Hall of Monuments next to the Scrying Pool that would have some cool flavor text about the great Scribe Mattsta.

If you could have yourself put into the game, how would you want it done? Your main character's name being used for an NPC, weapon or misc. item? Or do have some cool unique idea to implement yourself?

If you have a question for me or a topic you would like to see talked about here, leave a comment below. You can also tweet your question and topics or follow me on twitter @MattstaNinja.

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