Build Wars: Zaishen Elite Dream Team (Because 4 traps is *so* 2006)

Today we’re going to talk about the mysterious Zaishen Elite, what it’s about, what builds to use, and why more people ought to be doing it. I’m seriously surprised at how relatively unpopular the ZE farm is considering its rewards and being pretty easy to learn and do.

Overview | History | Current Technique
Builds
Trappers | Finisher Elementalist | Spirit Spammer

Overview of the Zaishen missions
Zaishen Elite is an un-lockable faux PvP mission available on Battle Isles. It’s accessible to PvP and PvE characters alike after completing the Zaishen Challenge. A successful full run of the mission will net you 6000 Balthazar faction, which is why it’s popular among Z-Key farmers. The run is also handy for unlocking skills for PvP and/or heroes. After you’ve reached 6k, you will stop earning faction from the ZE missions for the next 24 hours. You can, however, continue to gain faction from other PvP zones like alliance battles and random arenas.

Both missions are styled to mimic the Random / Team Arena environment, accept you’re fighting against set teams of AI. In Z-Challenge, you and your team faces off against AI Teams on a one-on-one basis that you choose. There are five NPC teams to beat: Iway Warriors, Trap Rangers, Illusionary Weaponry Mesmers, Obsidian Flame spike Eles, and the mixed degen / hex team. To unlock Zaishen Elite, you need to defeat each team at least once.

Z-elite works similarly, except you keep going (like Random Arena) until you lose. Each game increases the number of opponents until it caps at some point, although I’m not entirely sure when. Runs usually take 15-20 minutes. With no deaths (all flawless victories), 15 consecutive wins will cap you out on faction. Most teams will go for the 16 just to be sure.

History
Traditionally, the favored team build was four trappers. At least 2 usually brought Frozen Soil, a spirit that prevents res since all AI bring res signet. The execution was simple; stack the traps at the door with one ranger putting down Frozen Soil in the back and wait for the AI to inevitably  run into them. 90% of the time this was flawless. The issue, though, is with ranged groups or groups that unstack, you end up with a pretty difficult fight on your hands. Because of this, over the years the teams have evolved to vary a bit more. Another popular build includes 3 traps and either a spirit spammer or “finisher” elementalist with meteor shower.

95 wins = leetsauce?

Back in the days of yore when the 4 trap team was -it-, a friend of mine and I ran an experiment to mix it up. At the time, using a Spirit Spammer was still fairly rare but it was gaining popularity. The two of us took up the mission; he ran as a trap ranger, myself as a spirit spammer, and we hero’d a monk healer and a meteor shower ele.

After getting flawless victory after flawless victory, we decided to keep going to see how far we could go. We ended at 95 wins. I can’t remember how long that took, but I know we were so tired and delusional we lost on purpose.

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Guild Wars: Tale of the Rainbow Chicken

For anybody who’s a ranger/completionist/charmable pet collector in Guild Wars, the holy grail takes the form of the Rainbow Pheonix.

The Rainbow Phoenix, as depicted by Arenanet and Zbrush

This feathery ball of shiny is arguably the rarest / hardest pet to obtain, although some may say the coveted Moss Spider is a close contender. It’s also considered one of the best looking (and it had better be, considering what you have to go through to get it.) Of course, I’m one of the above mentioned people so I decided to do the (rough) math and figure out what would be the best / easiest / fastest way to get it. Or, in the words of Kellus Anasûrimbor, “What is the shortest path?”

There are three main ways to get this guy, all of which are a righteous pain in the behind. I shall cover them and other tips on obtaining this beaut in order of plausible ridiculousness:

 

The pet shall be mine, for I am the right hand of Balthazar himself!
The Rainbow Phoenix, as depicted by Color by Numbers

Firstly, he can be unlocked in the Zaishen menagerie for 80,000 Balthazar faction. That’s a big number. But the hard part isn’t farming the points, but rather, farming the titles to be able to hold that much at one time. Let’s face it: you can’t put down monthly payments on the bird like you could on your Honda Civic. The Majority of all GW players can hold a max of 10,000 Balth faction at once. In order to up that cap, you need the “equivalent of 14 ranks in the Gladiator, Hero, Champion or Commander title tracks.”
And that, my friends, is no easy feat.

Of course, i’m going on the assumtion that the majority of GW players haven’t even stepped foot into Heroes Ascent. And let me tell you, unless you’ve got a good guild/alliance backing you up, getting your foot in the door in this highly competitive PvP arena is nearly impossible as a pug, let alone WIN anything.

For the .0045% of GW who are/were lucky enough to already have the capacity, though, getting 80,000 faction is just a matter of having the patience to spend a week or two farming it, and with ranks that high, I’m going to assume they’re half decent at PvP and can win enough.

 

The pet shall be mine, for I am a glutton for punishment and  masochistic tendencies.
The Rainbow Phoenix, as depicted by Vikings after a night of pillage and destruction.

The second, and more traditional means, is by meeting a set of requirements that will cause the Phoenix to spawn in your hall of monuments. The straightforward requirement is having rank 2 of the “Big Deal” title, which is obtained by having at least 10 maxed out titles. This can be a bit difficult to achieve, but many regular or semi-regular players of the game will probably find that they already have a few, or are close to obtaining them.

Furthermore, discussion amongst several communities are showing that with rank 1 of the Big Deal title (5 maxed titles), and a certain amount of filled monuments are also spawning the phoenix, which could mean it’s a lot easier to get him than previously thought. The exact math of it is still hotly debated but the consensus seems to be that having each monument filled to display capacity along with Rank 1 of GWAMM could be another way of getting him. That’s about 5 achievement statues, 5 heroes/pets, 5 sets of elite gear and something like ~5-8 of the destroyer weapons and ~15-20 dedicated minipets. It’s been claimed by a handful of people that they do not have minipets/destroyer weapons maxed by are somehow spawning the turkey.

Depending on each player’s individual progress, which way is easier varies.
For me, personally, i’m already close to filling my displays, so i’m eager to test out whether or not I can get him earlier than I had planned. The destroyer weapons will be the hardest to obtain, but I’ve got some gold to blow, so we’ll see.

Either way, you need at least 5 max titles, so what should you be going for? Protector of Elona/Tyria/Cantha (which is successfully completely all missions and bonus objectives from each campaign) on normal mode is simple enough, especially with guildies/friends. That’s 3 titles right there. Guardian  is the hard-mode equivalent (and considerably more difficult) and completing all six will yield a 7th title, Legendary Guardian.

Legendary survivor is simple but time consuming.

For farmers, reputation titles for Kurzick/Luxon, Sunspears, Lightbringer, Asura, Norn, Vangaurd, etc. can be easy to get, especially with the introduction of the Dungeon Master books that keep track of your progress (these can be turned in for ridiculous amounts of rep). More often than not you can double farming rep with vanquishing.
All the other crap is much more elusive/annoying but it’s best to check what progress you have already and aim to completing those first.

 

The pet shall be mine, for I find comfort in repetitive actions.
The Rainbow Phoenix, bringer of the End of Days, as depicted by ancient Mayans

Lastly, and what I’ve decided is the easiest/most casual friendly method is by unlocking him via Zaishen coins.
The Zaishen challenges are essentially dailies that you can do on your PvE characters. There’s a Mission, Bounty, and Combat challenge each day, and they all vary in difficulty, and the rewards scale with that.

So, here come the numbers.

Completing all 3 objectives (including the bonus’ which are in hard-mode) will yield an average of 450 copper coins per day. The phoenix requires 15 gold zaishen coins, which boils down to 7,500 copper coins, plus some pocket change. With my trusty Windows Calculator, one can conclude it would take about 15-18 days of completing each objective to get the coins to unlock him, which is under a month consecutively. *see note

But don’t get TOO excited, there are a few, likely account-wide requirements that you as a player/person have to have before being able to successfully do these.

~Owning the appropriate campaigns: You can’t do the missions/bounties in games you don’t own. You need to have Factions in order to do a good chunk of the PvP challenges, as well.
~Progressed though PvE. Obviously, you can’t do Bounties/Missions in areas you’ve yet to visit.
~Furthermore, hard-mode can only be unlocked once successfully beating a game in normal mode, and only for THAT campaign. And it’s the hard-mode bonus’ for each challenge that yields the most coins.
~Time/Patience to deal with it. Cause let me tell you, the harder missions/bounties can be a pain to do in hard-mode.

Logically speaking, most of us can’t or simply can’t be arsed to do this.

But, before you cry emo tears of sadness, there are even more factors to consider before committing digital suicide.

~Coins are account-wide. So assuming you have at least ONE character who’s beaten every game, you can do hard-mode on any other of your characters as well. Obvious answer, to up your daily copper intake, complete the challenges on as many toons as you can.
~You can hold up to 3 quests at a time, so if you can’t do them every day, don’t fret. Collect them over time and save them all for one idle Tuesday.
~PvP quests are repeatable, which is good news for anybody who enjoys a good face pounding. It’s also helpful to turn it in once, and then grab it agai
n to wor
k on the bonus (which will usually be something like winning 9 games overall) and work on it over time.
~PvP quests from the Battle Isles are available to any PvE character you have, and the faction missions (AB/JQ/FA) are open to PvE characters who have advanced that far, making them highly worth getting even ANY of your toons and do them over time.

Final Thoughts:

The pet shall be mine, for I… whoa.
The Rainbow Phoenix, as depicted by a night of photoshop filter abuse and portobellos.

So while I did rank these in order of ‘difficulty”, if you do want to eventually get this pet, which method you choose is really up to you. You have to consider what you enjoy most and what you already have completed so far. That will likely have a huge impact on what direction to go.

I’ll leave this off with a “quick guide” of sorts to figure out which meathod is best for you.

If you solely/mostly PvP…
…the best option would be to work on your hero titles and grind out the 80,000 balth faction.

If you solely/mostly PvE …
…with one advanced character, you’re best bet is to go for the five titles and fill your monument, or go for the ten max titles. Chances are you’re close to getting there.
…with several characters, none of which have progressed too far, you might do well by unlocking hard-mode on at least one and working on collecting zaishen coins accross your account.

*As of the March 3, 2011 update, the addition of the Zaishen vanquish and 7-hero teams makes grinding out Zaishen coins about 3,000 times easier. The math is now off (likely an underestimation) and I’ll get around to updating the number once there’s been enough time to come up with averages.