Thursday, July 3, 2008

Guild Wars PvP Guide

I was reading a couple of blog articles recently from two of the big name bloggers in the MMO blog-o-sphere, Van Hemlock and Scott about making the plunge from PvE to PvP in Guild Wars. The articles are a fantastic read for players wanting to make a similar journey. The one thing that never occurred to me until reading their articles was that PvP is in Guild Wars can be a very daunting experience for someone that hasn't done it before. I've been playing Guild Wars PvP since it's release and I feel as though I have 'evolved' with the state of the game. As a result I have never seen it through the eyes of a new comer. If I had to suddenly re-learn everything I know about Guild Wars PvP in 5 minutes, I think I would have a brain aneurysm. The PvP system is so complex that the gap between newbie and pro is scary. There are so many tips and tricks to staying alive and winning, it really isn't funny; that is why I've decided to put together a bit of a rough guide to Guild Wars PvP. This guide applies mostly to new comers to Random Arenas, but it may be useful to other areas of GW PvP as well:

General Tips:
  • Looks aren't everything: Use PvP only characters for your first few weeks of PvP. Although your PvE chars look heaps better, its a lot harder to make minor modifications to improve your build.
  • Learn to walk before you run: I highly recommend using some of the more common and proven builds before going too wild with your own creations. You can find a lot of them here.
  • Watch and learn: One of the coolest things in Guild Wars is that you can observe the skills that other players are using. If you get beaten by a better player, click on them and write down their skills and sequence in which they use them whilst they decimate your team mates. Then roll the same build they used and try it for yourself. By playing as the build that beat you, you will learn all of the limitations and ways of beating the build next time you face it.
  • Always take res: This applies to every class except Monk. Monk's should never take res, because whilst they are resurrecting, the rest of their team is dying. Plus it allows for an extra useful skill slot. Any other class however should be carrying a res sig. Sacrificing one skill slot in order to have one other team mate back and fighting beside you when the heat is on, is definitely worth it.
  • No healing no glory: A self-heal is always important, but if you don't get a monk or rit on your RA team, you're not going to win too many games. If you want gladiator points, it's best to either play as a monk or leave at the end of your game and re-enter.
  • Keep up with the meta-game: Skill balancing happens all the time. As a result certain builds become better and others disappear completely. Make sure you pay attention to the Guild Wars PvP forums so that you don't get left behind.
  • Don't be discouraged: It doesn't matter how many guides you read, your not going to be good until you get in there and get your hands dirty. Practice makes perfect, and dying will only make you a stronger player. Ignore the people that flame you for making a mistake or being new, because soon you will be kicking their ass.
  • Learn from death: Why did you die? Could it have been avoided? How?
  • Know your short cuts: One of the main differences between a novice player an a good player is their use of the shortcut keys. Learn them and use them.
  • Knowledge is power: There are many class specific guides around that can teach you useful tactics. You can find a few here.
Combat Tips:
  • Know your enemy: Each class in Guild Wars has its own weakness. Warriors are weak against elemental damage (unless they are wearing Sentinel's), so use an elemental weapon when fighting one. Vice versa for a Ranger. Elementalists have long cast times, so interrupt them. As I said before, the easiest way to learn your foes weakness is to play as them.
  • Know your hexes: If a paragon can't talk (Vocal Minority) he's not much use. If a caster can't cast (Backfire), what good is he. Get to know your hexes by their icon, so that you know how to respond to them quickly. For example, if Ineptitude is placed on you as a melee char, simply stop attacking until it fades. If Diversion falls on you mid cast, the 'Esc' key is your friend.
  • Know your conditions: If a melee char can't see (Blind), he's not much use. Same goes for a dazed caster. Knowing exactly which conditions effect your build is very important. Make sure you have a backup plan if you are shutdown by a condition.
  • Call and follow called targets: The quickest way to kill someone is to all attack them at the same time. If your target is low on health, press 'Ctrl + Space' to call them as a target to your team mates. Team work is the key to success.
  • Know the kill order: In RA, you should always pick your targets in the following order: (Monks/Ritualists), Mesmers, (Necromancers/Elementalists/Assassins), (Dervishes/Paragons/Rangers), Warriors. Get the healers out of the way first, then make your way down the squishy/threat ladder. Naturally this order can be changed if a particular opponent is causing your team grief.
  • Change targets: If your target has protected itself, don't just stand there swinging aimlessly, change your target. A monk can easily keep themselves alive against 3 warriors with one Guardian. If you can't remove their defense swap your target. This will allow you to do maximum dps for the entire round. A monk will quickly use their energy up trying to keep more than one person alive.
  • Listen to your team: Always keep an eye on the chat. Your team mates will often let you know if something is causing them grief. If a hex or condition is shutting you down, 'Ctrl + left click' it's icon. Your healer or another team mate may be able to help you out.
  • Assist your healer: If your healer is struggling to keep you alive, pull back out of harms way for a bit and let them get their energy back. Do what you can to relieve any pressure that maybe causing them issues. If you need healing, run toward your healer, not away from them.
  • Learn to kite: Sometimes the best defensive option is to simply run around. This doesn't always work, but it can buy you valuable time. Be careful not to chase someone who is kiting too far away from your healer, as this can lead to disaster.

Cool tricks:
  • Play with you mates in RA: It is actually possible to be placed on the same team as your mates when you enter into RA, but its not guaranteed. To increase your chances all you need to do is go to a district that is either vacant or has very few people. Synchronize with your friends and all press 'enter' at the same time. Watch the counter count down and at the three second mark, press 'cancel' and 'enter' again. This usually works well with two people, but your chances decrease with each extra person.

Most importantly, have fun. Unfortunately this guide only covers the basics, but it should be a good start. If you disagree with any part of this guide, or can think of a few additions, please post your comments.


Talyn said...

Uh oh, I'm a "big name blogger" now? *GULP* =D

Yeah, the thing for me with GW's PvP is it's so different than anything else. I can jump into PvP in any "normal" MMO and learn my way pretty quick. Not so in GW. Add to that the flaming, rude, XBL-like community and new players like myself making an effort to learn then receiving such mean, nasty comments that I'd rather just quit and play some other game (probably an FPS so I can vent my frustrations by putting pixel bullets in people's foreheads)...

But it's an aspect of the game that I am interested in, so perhaps I'll get around to it. I was told rangers are "easy" to learn PvP with so I made a scythe ranger but he's mostly served as a mule for greens, golds, and extra crafting materials that I don't have room for.

Chappo said...

Hmm, that sounds a lot more complicated then most pvp that I have participated in. I remember participating in LORTO PVMP which kinda' sucked as all the low lvl noobs would jump on their monsters and gank us dedicated gamers. In that pvp it was essential to be in a group and tactics became very important, but no matter how well you were organized you couldn't avoid the fact that the two sides were enormously unbalanced.
I wonder if that has been fixed yet.

Talyn said...

LOTRO is still unbalanced within the Tolkien's "the bad guys must lose" philosophy, but the creeps did get buffed up several months ago, and now have a really cool healer class too.

Sounds like more PvMP stuff is on the way with the expansion, and with a level cap increase, Turbine has hinted they're going to give us a way to level up our creeps too.

Chappo said...

I actually found it that the creeps always had far far too much health and they could easily run away, even if we have the far superior damage, we have a ton less health and so therefore are extremely easy targets to gank. Two wargs can easily take down anything without taking any damage, and even if the ganked could start dealing damage, they could and nearly always would run run away.

But that was some time ago and not sure whether they have changed it.

Anonymous said...

Helpful stuff - thanks!

Crimson Starfire said...

@Scott: you're a big enough name that people will recognise you by name =D. The easiest class to start PvP with is the Warrior. Good DPS, good armor and cool weapons. Scythe Rangers have been nerfed, so I wouldn't bother with them.

@Chappo: I only played LOTRO with a week trial. I think I got to level 20. Your going to hate me, but I found the game to be a WoW clone without most of the PvP, so I stopped playing it.

@Van Hemlock: No troubles at all.

Talyn said...

It isn't *real* PvP but I did switch my PvP ranger to a trapper build (with heals) and all 3 ele heroes to a severe nukage build to farm Zaishen Elite for keys. Yes, I'm one of those cheapo PvE guys who wants the cool emotes... but at least I'm putting the time and effort in rather than just buying the keys.

Maybe I'll make a pvp warrior too... the ranger mostly serves as a mule and he's full. Seriously, they should add storage to the online store. I'd pay $10, $20, whatever per storage tab...

Crimson Starfire said...


In the case of obtaining your /zrank emote, I don't think it really matters how you get the Zaishen keys. No one is going to know if you bought them or earn them through Balthazar faction. If I was you, I'd pick the most efficient method possible. Don't forget that when you open the Zaishen chest you can often obtain items that you can sell to buy more keys.

You're completely right about the storage problem with Guild Wars. I too would pay money for an extra few tabs on my storage box. Maybe we should send an e-mail to ArenaNet?

Talyn said...

I know it doesn't matter to anyone else, but how I get the z-keys (or anything in any game) matters very much to me. I am a firm believer in earning everything legitimately, so I don't mind (well, I mind grinding but whatever) putting in the time so I feel better about it.

I'm sure the PvP jerkoffs will say I bought the keys like all us PvE carebears do, and whatever, they have no clue if I did or not, but I know and that's what's important.

Just my personal sense of honor or whatever...

Crimson Starfire said...

Lol, I have honor too, but when it comes to saving time grinding, I'm happy to fast track a couple of z-keys.

40 percent of the z-keys I have came from the Xunlai Tournament. The rest from balth faction in RA and Hero Battles. The only reason I get the keys is because I have max faction. The zrank doesn't really mean a lot to me, its just a cool emote that can be used for spearing people that you have bested in the arenas. Plus the Zaishen chest often pops out some really awesome items.

Talyn said...

Well I bit down and made a PvP Shock Axe warrior last night! Warrior because, well... "me hit with sharp pointy thing!" easy, and Shock Axe because... same thing, it's a build I can easily understand and get into. Started with a round of AB which went nicely and got me into the groove of the build. Then I decided to really hunker down and took a stroll into the dreaded RA. Win:loss ratio seems to be 1:1 so far, and I'm enjoying it even if I'm not really understanding what's happening other than "see enemy! kill enemy!" yet.

So now I can do the trapper FFF for a quick 6k then the warrior for some actual PvP.

I'll need a Tourney 101 class at some point for those z-keys you mentioned awhile back... lol