Playing the Race Card on Builds


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http://wiki.guildwars2.com/images/e/eb/Destiny%27s_Edge_03_concept_art.jpg

If each member of Destiny's Edge had their professions mixed up, would they fight the same?

With the recent Press Beta, and the bombardment of news that followed, we were presented with an influx of information fully revealing weapon skill sets and a large chunk (if not all) of each profession’s utility skills. We also saw the new Trait System that players have at their disposal to customize their chosen profession to suite their wanted play style. Now there have already been several websites that have used this information by creating helpful tools that many future players have begun to use to make their preferred builds. Although it’s great seeing these theorycrafters work with the information given to them, there is still one piece missing in this customization pie; Racial skills.

Remember, from the information ArenaNet developers have presented to us, we know that racial skills are more or less the flavor given to each individual race, making them distinct from each other in a mechanical sense. They also allow a person to tweak any given profession by giving them access to skills they normally wouldn’t have. Are you a guardian seeking a way to hinder an enemy’s movement without relying on a scepter or two signets’ activated abilities? Well, as a sylvari you can have roots magically grow from the ground to do just that, or as a charr you can place a few mines that can cripple, with the added benefit of bleeding, foes who step over them. Do you want to give your rifle wielding charr warrior some more gunpowder love? You’re in luck; charr can pull out a hidden pistol and shoot someone in the face with it! Let’s also not forget norn animal forms, asuran battle suits, and Hounds of Balthazar! Racial skills allow for a bit more diversity within any given profession, allowing for better customization to anyone’s play style.

File:The Hounds of Balthazar concept art.jpg

How can anyone not want these bad boys running around causing hell? Seriously?!?

Now, how impactful are racial skills to things such as the “soft trinity,” and for the rest of build creation in general? We don’t actually know yet! Unfortunately, racial skills weren’t available for use during the Press Beta, or the last few demos from what I’ve gathered, so we actually don’t know if we still have access to some of skills I touched up on briefly. It could be that racial skills do allow for an astonishing diversification of builds, where a warrior can have an AOE heal skill or a thief has more support in general outside of trait manipulation and one or two utility skills. Of course this does can come with its own set of challenges.

If a warrior can have access to an AOE heal as a sylvari (wild guess here!), then what’s stopping a player from making a sylvari elementalist, or worse forcing one, to tailor their character to be more of a healer? Well for one, racial skills are only available in PvE meaning that PvP players won’t be able to use that sylvari AOE heal, or any fun with fiery hounds of pure warfare. Secondly, ArenaNet has already stated that racial skills aren’t going to be as strong as their profession-based cousins. Remember that racial skills are meant to tweak a profession, and not to give them an overhaul. It could be that the AOE heal skill has a bit of a longer cool down, or it heals for far less than a profession-based heal skill. This all obviously will all have to depend on the current iteration that ArenaNet is on with racial skills.

These skills can be a game changer; they can be the layer of crust that our pie needs to truly be a trinity-free experience. They could also be dry and tasteless, and something players put aside the moment they get their first spoonful of sweet fruit filling. Worst of all though, they can be the part of a pie that’s chock full of nuts, making many of those that take a bite go to the hospital with a swollen, dissatisfied, throat. I do know one thing is for sure; the first elite skill my human engineer unlocks won’t be Mortar (though it is really cool!), it’ll be Hounds of Balthazar!

To The Readers: What are all of your thoughts about racial skills? Are they going to soften an already soft trinity, or are we going to see the return of the trinity through race and profession combinations? Do you think they’re even worth having on your bar? Do you even think they are in the game at this point? Please leave a comment below saying what you think!

About the author: TriggerSad‘s love for video games has lead him to pursue a career in marketing.  He was attracted to Guild Wars through a close relative, and although he was very casual about playing it, he never could love another video game the same. His admiration to ArenaNet grew tenfold after discovering how passionate and honest they were with their fans during the development of their second MMO Guild Wars 2. For more of his thoughts on Guild Wars 2, or anything in general, you can go follow him on his Twiiter account @TriggerSad!

Further reading:

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About TriggerSad

Being born and raised by wolves, TriggerSad has never fully understood technology. That doesn't stop him though, even if it means that he breaks his really expensive toys relatively quickly. His love for video games has lead him to pursue a career in marketing; for his dream is to one day have everyone in the world, even the elderly and those ignorant to video games, to play a video game at least once in their lives. He was attracted to Guild Wars through a close relative, and although he was very casual about playing it, he never could love another video game the same. His admiration to Arena Net grew tenfold after discovering how passionate and honest they were with their fans during the development of their second MMO Guild Wars 2. He wishes to one day work for the company itself, or for one with just as much love for its fans.
  • Paeroka

    I’m really glad that they’re not enabled in PvP – though didn’t they say that this is only for structured PvP and for now, racial skills are active in WvW? Either way, I think that in PvE, it doesn’t matter as much. If you kill the mob, you kill the mob. In PvP, on the other hand, every little advantage counts.

    Other than that, I can’t say too much as I haven’t read many skill descriptions yet. I want to keep that stuff for when I’m actually in the game playing it.

    • Well it’ll really have to depend on how weak racial skills are in the end. If they are as close to effective when compared to profession skills, then it might become a problem.

      Luckily with what we know, it would really be the case. ArenaNet has stated numerous times that they won’t be as strong as profession skills, and we haven’t seen anything involving them and traits. Now that would be disastrous (at least to me it would)!

      • Paeroka

        It’ll be a fine line to walk on… if they make the racial skills too weak, why use that one? If they make them too strong, it feels like you’ll have to take a certain race (if you’re a min-maxer, that is). 

        • I’m not really that worried,since I know what it is I want to play, but it is  still something that ArenaNet should keep in the back of their minds at the end of the day. Though they do seem to know that they’re doing, so again I’m not worried.

        • I agree. I think the goal of racial skills is not weak vs strong, it’s to be unique. The “racial” skills in GW1 (I’m referring to the PvE skills) were often quite unique but also very overpowered in certain aspects. I see the racial skills in GW2 being more unique than overpowered. They will add flavor to your build rather than be “necessary” for builds. 

          For a build heavy on “minions” (here I’m referring to the summonable critters from several professions, including guardian weapons and ele’s elementals, not just actual necro minions) you can bring Hounds of Balthazar for more oomph. My asura ele will be bringing his battlesuit for days when he wants to bust chops up close rather than rain damage from afar. 

          When ANet says they will be weaker than profession skills, my take is that they don’t want them to be more powerful than profession skills that they dictate the race you play or encourage you to a racial skill for it’s power. Rather, I believe ANet wants you to pick a racial skill for the feel of the game play to complement your playstyle and add something unique to your character. 

  • ArcherAvatar

    /facepalm
    Ok… listen up folks… .The holy trinity does NOT exist in GW2… not even a “soft” version… I can’t believe this is so hard for folks to understand… The staggering lack of imagination on display in the MMO community on this topic is mind-boggling. It’s a new paradigm… stick with the old ways of thinking if you insist, but you will only be left behind if you do so..Trinity calls for 1 person to stand in front of a mob absorbing all of it’s attention and damage, while a 2nd person stands behind the first and heals them, while a variable number of other folks stand around and hurl damage at the mob to kill it.The 1st person is taking the mob’s attention because that is ALL they are really able to do (can’t do effective heals and can’t do effective damage) and the same is true respectively for each of the others… they are doing what they’re doing because that’s ALL THEY CAN DO..The FIRST reason the trinity does not exist in GW2: no one is STANDING anywhere for any length of time unless they want to be downed extraordinarily quickly. NO standing! You gotta move folks! The game’s entire combat mechanics demand movement – fast, tactical, purposeful movement. This game is about damage AVOIDANCE… not damage mitigation. Even the classes with some mitigation features included into their design are required to AVOID damage if they want to be really good.Here, go educate yourselves:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…skip to 3:19 of the video if you want to see a warrior played correctly. That’s a warrior – you know… heavy metal… and they are dodging and AVOIDING the powerful attacks of the 6 LEVELS HIGHER ELITE mob they are fighting. In a group of players there can’t be just one taking all of the attention from the mobs in GW2. One ducks in and does what they can, but when the heat gets too hot, they roll out, and another jumps forward to take their turn under fire. It’s got to be a dance, with each member of the group taking their respective turns in the spotlight of the mob’s attention – otherwise folks are going to be spending time on the ground… you know… like the incompetent videos we’ve seen from the majority of the “press” members who took part in the beta… /sigh.The SECOND reason the trinity does not exist in GW2: self heals are the most powerful in the game. You are more capable of healing your own boo boos than anyone… that’s ANYONE… else is. No other player can heal you as quickly, and efficiently as you can heal yourself. No “specs” are going to change that one very simple (I thought) fact.Other players can “help” by supplementing your own healing with some AoE heals in your vicinity, but that help also includes CC abilities of various flavors – there are support styles available in the game, but the days of just standing at the back of a group and clicking on health bars while you watch your TV programs ARE OVER in GW2!If you go down it’s nobody’s fault but your own. You’re not healing yourself enough, and/or you’re not staying on the move enough to avoid taking damage needlessly..The THIRD reason the trinity does not exist in GW2: everyone… that’s EVERYONE… has excellent DPS capabilities, and they NEED to use them. If you’re restricting yourself in GW2 to only using support skills then you are … RESTRICTING yourself in GW2… /sighNo passive style of play is going to be nearly as effective and helpful to the other members of your group as an ACTIVE, fully involved, participating in all aspects of the combat, style of play. Everyone can, and SHOULD be contributing to taking down the mob(s) while they are each taking some of the attention (ie damage) from the mobs and each taking care of their own health… ALL AT THE SAME TIME…If you see someone just standing at the back, or the fringes, of a fight, occassionally throwing down AoE healing skills when they are not on cool down, you know what you’re looking at? You’re looking at a lazy f***ing noob. Learn how to multi-task and get your butt in the fight..That is a trinity of reasons why THERE IS NO TRINITY in GW2. This is your f***ing wake up call nooblets! No more sleep walking through your f***ing gameplay! You are actually going to be expected to PAY ATTENTION, and MOVE YOUR BUTT..
    Any article, or theory, that’s starts from the premise that folks are “somehow” going to be able to resurrect “holy trinity” based gameplay is wrong before it even begins. If your imagination is so inept, or your mind so inflexible, that you simply cannot understand how it is possible to have an MMO without pigeon-holing characters into narrowly defined trinity class roles then do yourself a favor… just stay quiet and wait until you can play the game… hopefully, once you experience it, you’ll understand the new paradigm more clearly.
    /endrant

    With respect to the racial skills available to characters in GW2: They are going to provide “flavor” without introducing anything truly unbalancing. Much like the traits – they will provide an avenue for players to customize their character and distinguish them from other characters of the same profession.

    Remember, these racial skills take up the same slots as other types of skills… if you choose a racial elite skill, then you are foregoing the use of elite skills from your profession, and the same is true for utility or healing slot skills. Like many other such choices in GW2, it’s going to come down to a matter of personal style for each player. I’m sure the “min/maxer” crowd will take their best shot at defining “THE” best build for a particular profession… for the most part I expect them to fail spectacularly in that attempt. There will be a number of “Best” builds depending on what type of player you are, and your personal preferrences, as well as who you are usually playing with and their preferrences, as well as what you happen to be trying to accomplish at any particular moment in the game.

    The days of “One Build to Rule Them All” are pretty much over once you get into GW2… you’re going to need to be more flexible and fluid than that.
    They haven’t included the weapon swapping (or attunement swapping, or kit swapping) in the game “just for the helluvit.” It’s there because folks are going to need to be able to stay aware of changing circumstances in the game around them and change their own approach as necessary to adjust to those.

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  • ArcherAvatar

    There is no trinity in GW2 (soft or otherwise) and suggesting that it can somehow be forced into the combat gameplay of GW2 via the use of racial skills or trait specs represents thinking that is rigidly stuck in an old paradigm.

    Self heals are the most powerful AND efficient heals in the game, ergo nobody (no matter how they “spec”) will be as good a healer for you as you will be for yourself.

    The combat mechanics are built around tactical movement and damage avoidance (rather than damage mitigation) and no single character will be able to simply “stand in place” and “tank” even moderately difficult mobs… vs really tough mobs that sort of play style will result in a tremendous burden on other players in your group or your vicinity, as they will need to spend considerable amounts of time trying to get you back on your feet… since you WILL be on the ground unless you move effectively enough to avoid taking damage needlessly.

    No tanks
    No healers
    and EVERYONE has good dps, and NEEDS to make use of that to be effective in combat (whether in group or solo)

    The racial skills are simply a way of further customizing your character to make them distinctive, and are in NO way unbalancing as this article is suggesting.  They are like traits in this respect; they give you further options to play your character’s profession in a way that suits your play style.

    THERE IS NO TRINITY IN GW2.
    (attempting to play as if the game’s combat mechanics are still based on a trinity class system will result in frustration and difficulty for yourself… and as an endless source of humor for everyone else watching your foolishness… unless of course they are friends of yours, in which case, it will serve as a source of frustration and difficulty for them as well.)

    • Paeroka

      I think it’s about time we all get our hands on Guild Wars 2 and can play it for ourselves. It’ll be so much easier to talk about it and judge how good or bad or viable or silly one or another skill is. Or even whole playstyles. 😉

      I’m still a bit sad I can’t stand in the background and healhealheal because I like doing that. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to stand in the background and supportsupportsupport – while hopefully still doing damage because that’s cool.So instead of the usual trinity, we have the support-damage-control trinity and depending on how we spec and play, one of those can be dominant (again, an assumption here) but it looks like we’ll always be able to do all three things together with any class. So that’s cool. 🙂 In other words, there’s no inter-trinity but an intra-trinity? 😉

      • ArcherAvatar

        “Trinity” (of any sort) implies that a particular class/profession is more suited to fulfilling one side of a triangle than the other two. 

        If you’re playing a cleric (or healer) of a traditional trinity-based class system then folks expect you to heal them… and not much else.  If you’re spending time trying to contribute to the damage dealing (as a healer) you will be criticized for “not doing your job” by the others in your group, since everyone knows that a “healer’s” dps is completely gimped and inadequate.

        This whole debate on the internet comes down to two simple things;
        1 – Are professions in GW2 pigeon-holed into narrowly defined group roles (eg this profession is “expected” to provide support in a group because that is what they are best at.)
        and
        2 – Is the MMO community simply incapable of comprehending a system of classes/professions where each one is fully capable of all facets of play, and the way any particular character tends to focus is completely dependent on the preferences of the player and has nothing whatsoever to do with any built in limitation of the class/profession.

        My contention is that 2 months after the launch of GW2, instead of folks criticizing someone for “not doing their job” if they are not sticking to just one aspect of combat – the exact opposite will hold true; and folks who are artificially restricting themselves to only a particular aspect of combat will be seen as gimped, and failing to fully participate in a fight.

        Why would you want someone in your group who only “supports” when there will be folks out there who can and will support, dish damage, take their share of the mob’s attention, throw in CC, rez, etc, etc, etc…

        It’s clearly evident from the gameplay videos I’ve seen (both good play and bad) that this game REQUIRES active, tactically aware movement, and a fair amount of multitasking.  The players who have gotten completely focused on just one aspect of the combat (like only doing damage to the mobs) are usually the same ones who are failing to utilize dodging and movement to avoid taking damage needlessly, and combined with their neglect of the other aspects of combat this has resulted (rather quickly) in them being in a downed state and either requiring the assistance others or a respawn at a waypoint.

        THERE IS NO TRINITY IN GW2 quite simply because there are no restrictive “this is all you’re good at” group roles for any of the professions.  Each and every profession is fully capable of multitasking and WILL BE EXPECTED TO by quality players.

        If my tone comes off as a bit harsh, it is only due to my frustration with the seeming inability of the MMO community as a whole to grasp this very simple (to me) concept.  I realize it’s a new paradigm, and folks sometimes have difficulty adjusting to those… I guess it will simply take a period of time after launch before the light will turn on for some folks.

        • Paeroka

           I’m not quite sure why you’re ranting at me like this, to be honest.

          All I said is that I see another trinity. And when we go to the “holy trinity”, we can see that it is one entity split into three different… hmm… beings? Or whatever you want to call it. The father, the son and the holy ghost. In the end, this is one entity. So let’s go back to what I said: One character can fulfill any role. One entity, three different “beings” in one.

          And ArenaNet said themselves that if you prefer support over damage, then guardian is a great class to play because it does offer more ways to support than some other classes. In other words: Yes, you can do damage, control and support (and yes, you should do all of those to be good). But if you like, you can lean more towards support than the other two. And that’s where I see “a trinity”. Not THE trinity that doesn’t exist in GW2. But A trinity.

          Or, as you said “trinity implies”. “Imply” is a weak word. In my definition and what I wrote about, trinity means something else.

          • ArcherAvatar

            When you say “trinity” I read “restricitve group role.”  The term “trinity” has a commonly accepted meaning within the MMO community.
             
            Within the context of a discussion about MMO style games that commonly accepted meaning is the one the vast majority of MMO gamers are going to use.

            Say “trinity” someone not associated with, or familiar with, MMO gaming and they probably (quite naturally) assume you’re making some sort of religious reference.

            Say the same exact word within the context of a conversation about MMO games to a veteran of MMO games, and that person will quite naturally assume you are referring to narrowly defined class roles broken down into three distinct sides of Tank, Healer, and DPS.  (They will further assume that those classes labeled “tanks” are not capable of efficiently performing the function of either of the other two roles, and the same holds true for the other respective sides of the trinity as well.)

            You might “mean” an even darker shade of purple when you say the word “black” but that is not what I assume you meant.  When you say “black” in the context of a conversation about the spectrum of colors I assume you mean… black.

            Somantics aside; it’s disappointing to me to see how many folks are desperately looking for ways to artificially restrict their gameplay, even when presented with an opportunity in GW2 to experience un-restricted, multi-faceted gameplay with characters that (I say again) are NOT restricted to fulfilling only one group role.

          • Paeroka

             I quote what I wrote above and which resulted in your rant:

            So instead of the usual trinity, we have the support-damage-control
            trinity and depending on how we spec and play, one of those can be
            dominant (again, an assumption here) but it looks like we’ll always be
            able to do all three things together with any class. So that’s cool. 🙂

            ***

            INSTEAD of the usual trinity. Then I went on and explained what I mean with it. And I said that we can do everything together.

          • ArcherAvatar

            “I’m still a bit sad I can’t stand in the background and healhealheal because I like doing that. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to stand in the background and supportsupportsupport – while hopefully still doing damage because that’s cool.”

            Standing
            in the back doing supportsupportsupport

            Old paradigm.

            I apologize for my tone (it is definitely a bit harsh) but comments like these (which are also a direct quote from what you said) represent the “old paradigm” approach to MMO play which I was maybe a bit too strongly objecting to.

            I say again;

            No Standing
            multi-task, fully, actively participate in all phases of combat. Do not artificially restrict yourself. The trinity chains are removed in GW2… fly… be free…

          • Paeroka

            Aaah. No, not old paradigm. Just me using a word without paying attention to what it really means.

            I used “stand in the background” as opposed to “be close to the mob”. I don’t know if you remember me writing about which classes I like playing and all that. I really love “being in the background” where I can overview a fight much better than when I’m close to a mob meleeing. I should’ve used “being in the background” instead of “stand” then to make it clear what I mean. Sorry. 🙂

    • It’s wonderful seeing the enthusiasm that people are showing towards Guild Wars 2, but I think there needs to be a few things pointed out. For one, I never suggested that racial skills would unbalance the game. What I said was that there is a possibility that people would believe that using certain race/profession combinations would lead to old trinity roles. I don’t really think that’s the case, but there are people who will try to find anyway to min-max this game.

      Secondly, I do know what ArenaNet is trying to accomplish with the removal of the traditional trinity. Though there does need to be something said about the “soft trinity” that I mentioned in the article. We do have one. It’s Support, Damage, and Control, and every profession is capable of using all three during the same battle. Though as Paeroka pointed out, there is a possibility to use certain traits, skills, and stat modifiers (such as armor and weapon upgrades) to lean towards one point in this new trinity, but you won’t be as effective in the other areas. Even ArenaNet developers have pointed this out, and they have mentioned its ineffectiveness.The reason why I refereed to it as a “soft trinity” was pointed out in the article I linked to, and should definatly read it if you haven’t yet. Seriously, it explains this concept better than I can try in this comment.

      I hope this clarifies some things for you! Again, I love to hear what everyone has to say about Guild Wars 2, so thank you for taking your time in writing out your thoughts! 😀

      • ArcherAvatar

        Trinity refers to restrictive, narrowly defined group roles.

        Soft trinity is essentially saying, “partially restrictive, somewhat narrowly defined” group roles.

        When I’m shown a character profession capable of damage avoidance to the same degree as all of the others, and self healing, and damage output, and crowd control, etc… I don’t see a “trinity” of any sort.  I see a “unity.”  I see a single character capable of performing every facet of combat gameplay, and all within the same exact fight.

        GW2 does not have a “trinity” based profession system… it has a “singularity” based profession system.  Don’t like that term?  Fine… come up with one that describes “comprehensively completely, self-sufficient, self-reliant, WHOLE characters (as opposed to the incomplete, partially effective, co-dependent characters of a “trinity” system.)

        It’s VERY possible I’m going to an exaggerated extreme in order to make a point here… but it’s still a point worth making, and one which clearly needs to be made given the absurd number of instances I’ve seen of folks attempting to put this game into the terms and context of the OLD paradigm because they’re having trouble getting their head wrapped around the concepts of the new paradigm.

  • ArcherAvatar

    I have to ask… Hounds of Balthazar?  Are you familiar with the engineer elite skill Supply Crate?
    Damage + Stun foes in area
    healing turret
    net turret
    flame turret
    AND
    drop 8 bandages on the ground

    All in one button push… I mean, I’m sure the dogs are great for extra damage but… I guess it just depends on what you want out of your elite skill… personally, I want a “oh SHT” button that will get me out of a serious jam.  Simultaneously dropping those 3 turrets AND stunning my opponents (which buys me time for yet another action) seems somehow more valuable to me that just adding some extra dps.
    /shrug

    • Turrets are great and all, but I like the summon because I get two mobile creatures as opposed to just three randomly placed, and stationary, turrets. Not to mention that I’m leaning more towards elixirs than turrets, so a beast summoning alchemist seems like a cool play-style to me. Though in the end it’ll all have to depend on when I actually get a hold of the game! 🙂

      • ArcherAvatar

        I have to admit, “beast summoning alchemist” has a certain ring to it 😉

  • ArcherAvatar

    Folks… if you’re really still wondering about “trinity” or “soft trinity” or gameplay in general and you haven’t got the time to watch all of the gameplay videos, do yourself a solid and give this a read:
    http://www.manaobscura.com/2012/03/17/guild-wars-2-spellcasters-quick-guide/
    It’s a well written blog in general, but this particular entry addresses these sorts of questions as they pertain to GW2 from the perspective of someone who just recently played in the Press Beta.

    Among other insightful comments he says,

    “Switching from playing a spellcaster in other MMOs to playing one in Guild Wars 2 is a little like changing out a greying Gandalf for something from a martial arts movie. Deciding what to cast is just as important as where you’re standing and what weapon you’re carrying. At any point you could be dealing damage, tanking an enemy or healing yourself up – or all three at once. It’s a much more intense experience, which is something a lot of veteran spellcasters have been crying out for.”

    THIS is exactly what I’ve been attempting to say in much less adequate fashion due to my own failings.  You need to get your thinking up to speed with the new paradigm that GW2 represents… old “trinity” style thinking is going to lead directly to a LOT of downed time on the ground.