Guild Wars 1 & 2 Profession Playstyles: Standard vs Advanced

Guild Wars offers a total of ten carefully fashioned professions that cover just about all your standard MMO needs, and then some. One thing you’ll notice when reading descriptions in the original manual is that some of these offer what ANet considers more advanced play-styles, a factor that attracted me to make a mesmer as my first character. What does that mean, though? Exactly how do you define standard and advanced, and how would such concepts fit, if at all, in Guild Wars 2? Let’s explore.

First off, we need to get rid of the notion that standard classes in Guild Wars are “ez mode”. What I consider standard is something that is accessible to new players, straight forward in their play, and flexible. This isn’t to say they take no skill to learn or that they don’t offer something for those with experience; the use of four sometimes very different attributes and the ability to combine your skills with a secondary profession are the bread and butter of what makes Guild Wars such a fantastic game to play. Generally speaking, the warrior and elementalist are most commonly referred to as standard.

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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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The VQ Blues: Creating a Hero Team

Over the past few months I’ve been very casually working towards my Vanquisher titles, focusing on Cantha first since I know the continent quite well. With the recent update allowing for seven hero teams and mercenaries, I revived my efforts and have been doing one or two clears a night on the weekend (well, until minecraft stole my soul). I’ve been streaming the VQs over on GuildWars2Live.com more often than not. While in chat, I’ve been asked to share my team build. I promised a video but since time and my lack of editing skills haven’t allowed it, we’ll start with ye ol’ text.

Now, I do run a personalized discordway, but not a full 7 hero team of it. I inquired on twitter as I’m ought to do and Hunter suggested that more than 3 discord heroes was a bit of a waste. After a few runs with 5 discords I was apt to agree. After thinking on skills and synergy, I came up with a build that worked nicely for me.

As a disclaimer, though, this is deviation from the usual builds you’ll find online (I’m not a fan of just copy pasta without thought, so 90% of the time I tweak builds that are suggested by friends or on pvx wiki). So it may not entirely work for you. I’ve had gleaming success with it, though, so here goes.

Overview:

I run as an SoS ranger. If you’re a rit, even better. Most professions can run a decent SoS easy if you’ve got good energy management: necros, mesmers, eles, and rangers are your best bet. Dervs and Monks can pull it off with some major tweaking. You’ll struggle as a warrior, sin, or paragon, however.

If you’re not an SoS, no worries. The team build I use allots for one.

So the core damage comes from the 3 discord necros; one curses, one prot, one mm. My forth necro runs SS and has extra hexes / conditions for Discord. I bring a support rit for heals and blood ritual (for me, mostly) and an interrupt mesmer with condition spreading. The final slot is wild-card. If I’m alone I’ll throw in a 3rd healer or 4th discord. Sometimes I’ll bring a friend.
Otherwise, take a hero to fill a void based on your area. A dervish makes a great AoE tank for VQs. A hammer warrior works here just as well. If you’re in an area with lots of AoE damage, a wards ele or prot monk can also be a good choice.

If you wanna see the team build in action, check out GW2Live’s on-demand video of my Unwaking Waters VQ.

The Custom Builds:

• Player: Ranger SoS | OggicxiMdN5D2JWOBNVNRDexA

This is what I run 99% of the time as a ranger SoS. The spirit choices are pretty typical: vampirism heals, agony does some serious degen, bloodsong has a nice life span. Painful bond is great for extra damage / hex req for discord. Armor of Unfeeling is typical for later in campaigns, but in certain early and easier areas can be replaced with a damage skill (I like spirit boon strike, or lamentation).
If you’re Rit primary, it’s business as usual. The issue of being a ranger is the energy management. Spirits will cost next to nothing, but PB will drain you fast in longer fights. I counter this by bringing a Blood Ritual hero. Ele SoS stock up on the energy storage, mesmers can trade in PB or Agony for their energy regen of choice. Necros should be ok with soul reaping, but you can bring Signet of Lost Souls / Necrosis if you feel it will be an issue.
Fill resto with whatever leftover points you have.

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Dr. Guild Wars: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Making Builds

Since Prophecies was released almost 6 years ago, skill builds have been a huge aspect of the Guild Wars experience.  You’re only allowed 8 skills at a time and one of the skill slots has the option to hold an elite skill.  There are over 1000 non-elite skills and almost 300 elite skills spread out over 10 professions.  Basically, what I’m getting at, is that players should have no problems creating builds that work for them and their party, no matter how silly or trivial they may seem.

But these days, after balances and nerfs and buffs, there are only so many builds a player will run depending on the mission, PvE or PvP.  This is called, The Meta. So, where have all the silly and fun builds run off to and why have people stopped running them?  Because Meta builds are more efficient?  Because, after all the nerfs to non-meta elite skills, it’s not worth the trouble?  Because copy-paste builds from PvX are so much easier to use?  If you answered “Yes!” to any of the three previous questions, then YOU ARE WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE GAME. Let’s explore why. Continue reading