Interrupting the lore posts (I’ll try to get another one coming later tonight pending my pizza-eating) tonight, I thought I’d do some more speculation and examination of party mechanics in GW2. I hope you don’t mind, but I promise that the next post will look at what all happened with the humans over 250 years coming up soon. But for now, let’s look at some PvE party mechanics and put together a party build.
Things You Need in a GW2 Party
So by now, we all know that the trinity is abandoned, so you don’t need to have a tank or healer in GW2. A lot of people, including GBTV, have taken to the idea of a “soft trinity” where you simply pass those roles around the group as need be. The idea was better explained on GuildCast of having different roles, that are a little more vaguely defined, that pass around. I prefer to think of it as, rather than having roles that go around, having builds that can do a little bit of everything but also can do one part relatively well. It’s not going 100% in any direction, but maybe more 40%-30%-30%. ANet has told us already that one person won’t be able to take the full damage of mobs straight-out going toe-to-toe when we get to higher level content.
What does this mean? It’s going to take a lot of switching around who the mobs are hitting, getting away when you need to, avoiding as much damage as you possibly can, and getting people patched up. This means you need to be able to create and/or maintain movement and position advantages over mobs, help the party avoid or at least reduce incoming damage, and help keep the group in good shape at the same time as helping bring down the beasts.
So What Should I Focus My Build On?
Look at your class mechanics! See what you can do to contribute to each part of this. Find ways to as much of it as you possibly can, and look at what you can excel in. If your weapon has some sort of AoE cripple, you’ve got the ability to create a movement and position advantage over enemies. If you’ve got an AoE regeneration, you’ve got some patching up for the party. If you have AoE boons, you’ve got support pretty much covered both offensively and defensively. From there, it’s time to look at what you can do that other player’s won’t be able to and work with that. Maybe you can create a wall of force your party can hide behind. Maybe you can temporarily cloak the entire party. Maybe you can provide massive healing surges to the party on a relatively frequent basis. That’s good for running in pick-up-groups, but if you’re running with a consistent group of friends or guild mates, you want to think big picture more.
So What’s “Big Picture” Mean?
If you’re running with the same people on a frequent basis, you can construct your builds to work together effectively with coordination. Say you’ve got two necromancers and a ranger in your group. One necromancer can focus on putting down dark combo fields and spreading conditions while the ranger focuses on putting as many arrows or axes through those fields as possible for more conditions. This can set up greatly for the second necromancer that can take a lot of skills that do extra damage for conditions on enemies. When you can build a team together, you can plan to be more effective especially using combo fields.
So What’s An Example Of A PUG Build?
Let’s use the guardian for an example on this one. Use it with a mace and shield. This lets you cover a lot of bases. First, the mace heals you in its basic attack chain, which lets you take a little bit more of a beating without having to retreat, making better use of your armor. Second, it provides some AoE damage to enemies and regeneration to allies using a light combo field. Lastly, the mace gives you a whirl that, if it hits, gives you and your allies protection. As a bonus, using the whirl within the light combo field you generate will remove conditions from your allies. Your shield then doubles up with allowing you to grant protection to your allies. Beyond that, it lets you throw out a shield that knocks back all the enemies around you and stop projectiles coming toward you and your group. Looking toward your slot skills, you now have a position control skill, some group healing, and some group damage reduction. You should look then to find maybe one more position control, possibly some damage, and then whatever else you feel will make your character more useful to the party that the rest won’t be able to do.
Take Healing Breeze for your healing skill. Your mace will do enough of healing you directly that you can take a little bit less for your self on this to heal the group a little more. Going with this, take Signet of Mercy for your first utility slot so you can provide a little more health to the party but also help get someone up in a pinch. Just make sure you can spare the extra healing for so long when you use it. Also, to have a little bit more to contribute in position advantage, take “Retreat!” You can’t use it very often, but it gives you more controlled positioning advantages than simply knocking everything back. It also blocks the next attack against each of your allies, making sure they get the chance to make use of the swiftness. Lastly, to add a little more in damage still, I’d take Smite Condition. Much with your mace’s attack, it lets you prolong the time you spend on the front lines, but also helps you put out more damage to the enemy, letting you cover all of your bases. Lastly, with this build in mind and using so much of your weapon set’s abilities, I’d take Sanctuary. This gives you even greater position control as you can designate an entire area that enemies cannot enter or shoot into, letting your ranged party members do their jobs in safety and giving the entire group time without incoming damage to patch things up together.
Lastly, you need to pick a back-up weapon set. You can take this weapon set to also be augmented by your slot skills and create a similarity with a specific advantage, or you can pick a weapon set that completely contrasts it, as a warrior would take a rifle to ensure he is not at a loss in ranged fights. In this particular build, I would bring the Hammer. It’s not as support and healing oriented as the mace, but still provides some support with extra damage and considerably extra position control, including the ability to trap enemies in the middle of a lot of your allies’ AoE powers.
That’s Great, Now How Should I Do Big Picture?
With big picture, you need to work at having five solid builds, but they don’t need to be quite as generalized as going into a PUG. Since you’re aiming this at mixing well with four other players, you can afford to slack in an area here and there. That said, you still want to take the “cover the bases” type of strategy with a focus, you just want to cover the bases with everyone else as well. That said, let’s just pick a party set up. To make it quick, I’ll pick my first five character slots: an elementalist, a ranger, a mesmer, an engineer, and a necromancer. So this team build, overall, provides a lot of condition damage, party healing and position advantage.
In doing damage to the enemy, it takes advantage of using mesmer staff, ranger shortbow, and engineer pistol skills, along with various slot skills, to provide outgoing conditions on enemies. It also uses various mesmer and necromancer fields with projectiles from the ranger and engineer, including spread fire, to provide even more conditions to the enemies. It then relies on the dagger/axe abilities of the necromancer as well as the mesmer staff phantasm to do even harder focused spike damage based on the sheer amount of conditions on the enemies. The mesmer can also activate its phantasm to strip boons from enemies. While the primary focus of the elementalist will be in water magic, it can also switch to fire to provide extra damage, especially with the elementals it summons. In addition, the Necromancer takes Plague for even more condition damage. Finally, the mesmer can use Time Warp to increase the general effectiveness of the party, offensively AND defensively, for a time.
In position advantage, there are a lot of abilities to hurt enemy movement. The elementalist, focusing in water magic, has a lot of ability to cause chilling to the enemy. The ranger’s shortbow as well as utility skill cause crippling to slow enemy movement. The engineer brings the thumper turret, which can be overcharged to launch enemies, as well as the net turret to continuously immobilize enemies. Finally, the necromancer brings its bone fiend, which can be immobilized to begin immobilizing enemies with its attacks.
In party healing and defense, the elementalist takes the cake. Its spells can still cause damage, but focusing on water magic allows it to bring serious healing and condition removal on its weapon spells, as well as its elite elemental will start damaging and healing allies. The ranger brings the Stone Spirit to periodically give party members protection, healing spring to heal allies, and spirit of nature for serious party healing and revival. The mesmer brings condition removal but also a party-wide stealth ability to give a moment’s pause in battle. The engineer brings its shield to intercept key projectile attacks in addition to its healing turret and supply crate, filled with more turrets and bandages to help the party further. Lastly, the necromancer makes use of its wells to heal the party and remove conditions from the party. The well of blood is also a light combo field, meaning the ranger and engineer can use their projectiles to pull conditions off of allies.
As you can see, this party is meant to mostly synergize offensively, but with different profession compositions, you could take equal amounts of synergy for healing and party support. When playing with a group of friends, it becomes more important how you each play your characters together rather than apart.
Hope you enjoyed the post! If you did, please share it with as many people as you can (that is, reblog it, post it on Facebook, tweet it, and do everything else you can) to see how many people we can get reading this! Also, I love all of you. I’ve only actually talked with one of you because I’ve become busier over the last couple weeks, but knowing that even one person reads this stuff I write makes it fun. I love writing it all, but if a tree falls in a forest… you get the idea.