It’s a good thing this is a late review, given the balance changes to this map over the last few months. Now that things have settled down, we can see how Lake Doric has stood the test of time. I’ve previously covered the earlier Season 3 zones, those being Bitterfrost Frontier, Ember Bay and Bloodstone Fen.
A Re-imagined Lake Doric
I don’t know if you know, but there was an unreleased version of Lake Doric made many years ago. It has since been wonderfully re-imagined as land contested by the White Mantle and the Seraph of Divinity’s Reach, being as it is bordering the east of that great city. So it is that from their stronghold of Fort Evennia across the lake, the White Mantle launched an assault on Divinity’s Reach. The battle rages even now!
Queen Jenna’s forces were able to thwart the White Mantle’s incursions into the city itself, which is now protected by a vast magical dome of energy. A dam to the north-east of the city has been breached by the White Mantle’s artillery, releasing the waters of Lake Doric into the river flowing out to Janthir Bay. The loss of water has ruined the fishing and waterborne trading, much to the annoyance of several settlements in the zone – Saidra’s Haven and New Loamhurst – although the disaster may have presented welcome new opportunities for the Lakeside Bazaar.
The Seraph and the White Mantle
The Seraph are the soldiers of the Krytan capital city Divinity’s Reach. Their top commander is the famous hero Logan Thackeray, of the dragon-slaying guild Destiny’s Edge. He was among the heroes who defeated the elder dragon Zhaitan. The Seraph’s duty has always been to enforce the law in Kryta and keep the kingdom safe.
The White Mantle ruled Kryta until around 250 years ago or so when they were overthrown by a monarchist coup, in favour of Queen Salma. Since then the White Mantle became something of a myth, although there were plenty of signs that they were still around. The White Mantle in Lake Doric are loyal to none other than Lord Beetlestone, a long suspected traitor and long time rival to Queen Jenna of Divinity’s Reach. His forces have deployed new bloodstone-based weaponry and magic.
With the return of the White Mantle, the Seraph have yet another burden to contend with on top of the usual bandits and centaurs. Both of these threats have been revealed to be loyal to the White Mantle. Since the events in Bloodstone Fen, the White Mantle have also been reinforced with Jade Constructs, powerful servants of the Mantle’s old masters, the Mursaat. While the Mursaat themselves appear to be gone, some of their magic and knowledge remains in the hands of the White Mantle.
In the face of these encroaching enemies, the Seraph have been unexpectedly reinforced by charr from the Black Citadel. And in response to the appearance of the Jade Constructs, Queen Jenna has sent her powerful Watchknights, towering fembots memorable for being stolen for Scarlet’s armies in Season 1. All of these forces have now been deployed in the defence of Krytan lands in Lake Doric.
The White Mantle’s War
Although rebuffed from the city, the White Mantle is keen to seize local settlements from Seraph control. They have their eyes on three locations: Noran’s Homestead, Saidra’s Haven and New Loamhurst. Each of these locations may be under Seraph or Mantle control at any given time, with a counter-attack from the other side never far away. The White Mantle send a legendary hero to each location as well to inspire their forces.
In addition to these large battles over settlements, there are frequent skirmishes all over Lake Doric between smaller groups of White Mantle and Seraph.
You can take part in any battle or skirmish as you see fit. Lake Doric is particularly good for support characters with healing and buffing abilities, since the Seraph forces and their allies are very capable fighters who can do plenty of damage already. Skirmishes in particular require the Seraph to outlast the White Mantle, so anything you can do to tip the scales in their favour is a good idea. In the large battles for settlements, it also helps to be able to support other players against the White Mantle and in particular, their champions and legendary heroes.
The White Mantle are Really Fun!
I have to say, the White Mantle in Lake Doric are some of the most fun enemies to fight in all of Guild Wars 2. This became even more apparent with the subsequent zone to be released, Draconis Mons, which took a giant step backward in the enemy fun-factor. The best thing I like about the White Mantle is that they have interesting skills and actually use them to fight back a bit.
Contrast White Mantle to the mercenaries in Draconis Mons, who feel little different to low level bandits in Queensdale. Yaaaawn! I don’t know what ArenaNet were thinking! I would hope that players who get to these end-game maps know how to play their class and have decent gear to fight in, because personally I want the enemies at this stage to feel pretty meaty.
The other thing I like about the White Mantle is the way they look. I guess there must be some rule that the bad guys get the best uniforms? They all look sharp. Especially those clerics, they’re my favourite, plus they’re really annoying to kill like they should be. Clerics block and blind to defend themselves, then they leap at you and burn you with their radiance. They even have an area effect full heal similar to the guardian’s elite Signet of Courage. Finally they have an ultimate skill that summons a falling sword over your head, which you can catch! with the Counter Magic mastery and then throw at someone!
The other White Mantle classes all have their features too. And then there are things like the Jade Constructs, which are ranked at champion or legendary level of power and they are capable of fighting groups of enemies by themselves, but often they are supported by additional White Mantle. Those are not easy fights to be by yourself at, even in really good gear. Overall the White Mantle use a lot of different mechanics and tells, and they’re really fun to play against.
The last thing to mention about the White Mantle is that stronghold of theirs, Fort Evennia. One of the repeatable heart quests in this zone allows you to stealth into the fort as an undercover agent to cause mischief, dressed as one of the White Mantle. While poisoning their food, extinguishing the blacksmith’s forge, stealing their plans and releasing their prisoners, you get to do something much more important than any of that old hat – have a good look at what they’re wearing so that you can excel at Fashion Wars 2 back in the city!
Sneaking Off Elsewhere
Fighting an endless war of attrition with an ever spiralling body count isn’t the only thing you can do in Lake Doric, oh no. There’s plenty of exploring to be had too, plus a bit of questing on the side as well. Where should I start with that?
I suppose the most logical place would be the Lakeside Bazaar that’s run by Cin Fursarai. Cin’s a familiar human character from both the human Personal Story and later adventures in Heart of Thorns. He was last seen in Verdant Brink together other human nobles awaiting rescue – which he clearly survived. Now he runs the trade out of Lakeside Bazaar, and in fact the local heart quest is for him. Favours include gathering pearls from the waterside for a local pearl merchant, which is quite a distance away.
In fact, the fishy items you gather from the waterside can be used at 3 different hearts. You will absolutely want to keep anything you find to use at one or another, and any spares can be kept for the next day since the hearts reset daily. Each heart vendor offers some unique rewards such as miniatures and weapons, plus Jade Shards that you can use to buy ascended trinkets or salvage for Unbound Magic (currency).
Anyway, back at the bazaar there are humans that worship their gods in a clearing slightly to the south. There’s even a periodic quest chain to escort the local priest and to protect the worshippers from the White Mantle. Hidden among the statues of the gods is a passageway to the east, leading through the cliffs to an area of outstanding natural beauty. Here you can find plenty of ambient Unbound Magic floating in the air and hidden underwater (there is a “daily task” associated with this to gather 10 of them).
You’ll need some gliding masteries to gather the airborne magic and – if you look carefully – there’s a mastery point on a ledge that you can snatch too, quite near a vista. This is a pretty fun little area to glide around in and gather magic, but even more tantalising is a watery passage that leads south to a pool of water with a few updrafts above it. Now, you won’t be able to get out of the water at this point because you’re in the exit area to a hidden location called Melandru’s Refuge.
The proper way in to Melandru’s Refuge is through an iron gate even further south. That gate is guarded by Bloodstone-Crazed Oakhearts and some other critters like bats, which drop Powerful Blood by the way! Quite a few unremarkable looking creatures in this zone drop valuable tier 5 and tier 6 fine materials, so don’t feel bad about killing a few unsuspecting critters to make some easy silver. Now then, opening the iron gate into the Melandru’s Refuge mini-dungeon requires you to escort a ghost in the night using an ethereal torch (check the links for details).
There’s a hidden achievement for completing the Meladru’s Refuge mini-dungeon the first time, along with dungeon treasures that are there every time. There’s a large chest with 5 Jade Shards, occasionally a rich orichalcum node, plenty of Unbound Magic, plus a fair amount of world lore from examining the tombs within.
Noran’s Homestead and Hidden Dungeon
The second dungeon to mention is actually the most obvious one, since entry is linked to completing Noran’s heart quest in the Harvest Cascades. Noran’s Homestead is in the far north-west of Lake Doric and it’s frequently contested by the White Mantle and the Seraph. Indeed, the easiest way to complete the heart is by participating in the big battle for Noran’s Homestead, but if it’s not going on (which it probably isn’t) then you can look for smaller skirmishes. Failing that there’s always traps and mines to take care of.
Once you’ve done Noran’s heart he’ll give you a key to the treasure chest in his deathtrap dungeon. Yeah. Doesn’t everyone have a deathtrap dungeon under their house? Noran’s just that kind of guy. So anyway, down in the basement of Noran’s house you can find a false wall that marks the start of the dungeon and from there you can progress though. Don’t forget to loot the chest half way along for the Key Oil! To use the key in the end chest, you need to use the oil you should have picked up half way through and that’ll give you an oiled key that will turn in the lock.
There’s 5 Jade Shards in Noran’s chest that again you can use towards ascended trinkets, or else you can salvage them for Unbound Magic. When you leave Noran’s dungeon through the portal, the area you appear in has some metal nodes that you can’t otherwise get to – and these may include an orichalcum node and a rich orichalcum node, so be sure to look around properly before leaving. These nodes can give you bonus precious stones such as Ruby Orbs, so they’re worth mining.
Horsing Around with Centaurs
When Lake Doric was originally released, ArenaNet specifically mentioned an area for farming leather. Leather can’t be mined from resource nodes and tier 6 leather, or hardened leather, became very expensive indeed due to crafting changes. The “leather farm” was introduced to add some much needed leather supply, and this took the shape of a centaur camp in the north-east region of Lake Doric. The centaur camp at Watchtower Cliffs has been tweaked a fair bit in the subsequent months to make the content more interesting to play, as opposed to being able to camp in one spot and kill everything as it spawns.
Players used to bring a lot of engineers to occupy the camp, with turrets planted everywhere to shoot the centaurs as soon as they appeared. The centaurs retaliated (in subsequent balance patches) by bombarding the area with bloodstone trebuchet shots, clearing away turrets and launching players into the air, but not doing too much damage. What players do now to farm leather is form a roaming squad that sweeps the cliffs, killing and looting as they go. By forming a squad with a commander, a large group of players is able to keep track of one another and stay together for mutual safety.
The Watchtower Cliffs has quite a number of treasure chests in the camp, but beware because the area is extremely dangerous to go into alone. If you can survive all the way to the top of the hill you’ll find a ruined tower, within which there’s a boss fight against a Harathi High Sage. Overall the area will be profitable for as long as leather prices stay high and squads are sweeping the area.
The Well Guy and the Magical Peach
There’s quite a few bonus things on this map that I’ve not mentioned yet, mostly not important. I should mention that you can find a jellyfish and feed it to a quaggan, just in case you find one and wonder what to do with it (hidden achievement awarded for doing so). There’s also an odd guy who lives down a well in the Lakeside Bazaar who you can feed honey to, and he’ll send you some fan mail a few days later.
The next important oddity I should mention is the magical peach you can eat in Watcher’s Hollow, which is the area in the far north between Nolan’s house and the centaur camp. Eating this peach is one of Lake Doric’s “daily tasks”, and it’s quite easy. The peach will give you a buff for an hour, and you can get this once a day from the druid spirit who lives near the peach tree. Getting up to the tree take a bit of climbing, but there’s also a vista up there and some mining nodes. There’s also 10 Unbound Magic in a loop around the tree, which you should collect before starting your climb. There’s an easy “daily task” for that as well, so you can do both at the same time.
Further up past the peach tree, if you can find the way up, there is a back way into the tower at the top of the centaur camp. You’ll need to scramble up a tricky scree to make it up to the tower plateau. While you’ll also need to avoid the incoming trebuchet shots and the centaur sharpshooters, it does give you a way to snag the point of interest in the middle of the tower that’s safer than going up the main path by yourself.
I suppose there are other odd details that I could mention, but I’ll leave these for you to find. The designers of this zone have been very creative with their non-player characters and their world lore in Lake Doric, and hence I found that part of the delight is just being nosy. So, no more spoilers!
Daily Tasks for Extra Jade Shards
So far I’ve mentioned the two easy daily tasks, for eating the magical peach and gathering Unbound Magic. The remaining three daily tasks can be much more time consuming to do and not worth your time if you don’t have much to spare.
The first of these tasks is to slay one of the White Mantle’s legendary heroes – either Immelhoof (a centaur archmage), Agatha (a White Mantle archbishop) or Cairn the Queenslayer (an archer construct). These are colloquially known as Hasslehoof/Hasselhoof (the link is pure cringe if you like that sort of thing), Granny and… the Queenslayer. Yeah, that last one never got a catchy new name. Each of these bosses is linked to one of the major battles for Noran’s Homestead, Saidra’s Haven or New Loamhurst. Keep an eye out for a map-wide announcement of when these events start if you intend to join in.
The next daily task is to participate in three skirmishes. I find these very hit-and-miss to discover and so I rarely get this daily done myself, although if you intend to do it then you’ll need to roam around a lot. Likewise the final daily task of destroying the four Jade Cannons can involve a fair bit of time waiting around for them to respawn. It’s easy enough to stumble upon one of the events randomly, but to do all four will probably involve some waiting.
Is it worth doing every single Lake Doric daily? Well, that’s up to you. The fact that some are fast and easy while others take more time, means that overall the tasks give you a spread of things to do. It’s not critical to do any of them, since they just give you more karma and Jade Shards. Do them if it’s fun I guess is what I’m saying.
Other things you can do for Jade Shards in Lake Doric every day are Nolan’s deathtrap dungeon, the Melandru’s Refuge mini-dungeon that I mentioned earlier, and the daily hearts at each location (each heart vendor will sell you a package of 3 shards for karma). Mining the Jade Fragment nodes around the zone gives you Unbound Magic and Bloodstone Dust, with a decent chance for Jade Shards (maybe 1-2 per node).
Rewards for Jade Shards and Unbound Magic
With all the Jade Shards you collect for being busy in Lake Doric, you can buy all sorts of items.
Initially, the most interesting items could be an ascended amulet and back piece, both sold by the Unbound Magic vendor at Doric’s Landing. That’s the vendor right at the beginning of the zone, next to the zone transition to Divinity’s Reach. This vendor also sells a Lake Doric Portal Scroll for you to get your L80 alts into the zone without repeating the Living World story mission.
Two of the heart vendors sell weapons with unique skins on them, those being the Seraph Protector (a shield) from Lieutenant Bran at Doric’s Landing and the Bloostone Savant’s Staff from Exemplar Ylan at Fort Evennia.
Also of note is the Endless Miniature Tonic sold by Cin Fursarai at the Lakeside Bazaar, which lets you miniaturise yourself. You can still fight and do most things while in miniature form. Also if you like collecting miniatures, there’s a different miniature available from each of the six hearts in Lake Doric.
There are crafting items and exotic trinkets relating to a new stat set available in Lake Doric: “Seraph” stats (condition damage and critical chance major, healing power and boon duration minor). This set seems mostly useless considering existing sets, except perhaps to a bursty condition based druid or engineer carrying healing and boon support.
For cooks, two new recipes are available from the heart at New Loamhurst: Saffron Mussels (boosts condition damage and healing power) and Lake Doric Mussels (boosts critical chance and healing power).
Lake Doric has plenty to do for a while, but once you’ve exhausted the rewards you want you might not want to come back. This is true for most zones in Guild Wars 2 of course, because to keep players interested there has to be some goal that you’re striving for. There isn’t any particular rare drop in Lake Doric or especially rewarding boss fight anywhere. You can farm leather only for as long as you can stand it. The same is true for farming any of the mobs for fine materials, or for running around gathering metal ores and types of wood.
On the other hand if you want to gather Unbound Magic and you’re tired of Bitterfrost Frontier, then Lake Doric is an okay map to play. The enemies are more interesting to fight than most and the scenery is pretty, plus there’s a big variety of stuff going on all the time to stay busy. The Jade Shards you gather all salvage for around double what you’d get for a Winterberry, although they are a lot more painful to salvage than berries are to consume.
Sometimes, it’s just really nice to come back to this map and play it.
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