Treacherous Empire [Te] vs. Stoned to Death [STD] — April 21, 2006
by Joby Campbell
Immediately following the Guild Wars Season 1 playoffs, the Season 2 Qualifiers began. While many competitive teams took a well-deserved breather after the playoff frenzy, Observer mode was lively as ever. Some teams tested their Season 2 strategies, and some were practicing before a large rating curve formed. On April 21, Treacherous Empire [Te]—Treacherous Empire's plucky little brother guild—played against Stoned to Death [STD], who (while, perhaps, not a famous powerhouse guild) had an interesting build and managed to play well enough to ultimately take the match. At the time of this qualifier, Treacherous Empire was #11 on the ladder, and Stoned to Death was #66.
Te's build incorporated several proven elements of some competitive builds. Their frontline consisted of two Wa/Els (one Sword and one Axe) and a Ra/Me with Crippling Shot, Apply Poison, and Blackout. Their backline featured the ever-popular Dual-Boon-Protection Mo/Me setup. Their midline consisted of three caster characters, each with offensive and defensive skills: A Ne/Mo using Curses and Blood Hexes (along with Protection skills like Aegis), a Me/Ne with Curses, Inspiration, and more Hexes aimed primarily at the enemy offense, and an El/Mo using several attack skills while putting Energy Storage to use with some backup Healing.
STD's build was far more unorthodox. Several components of their build were familiar—two Mo/Mes using Divine Boon, an El/Mo alternating lightning damage with supplemental Healing, and a Ra/Me to spread Poison and add some shutdown. Their frontline offensive characters, however, were two Hammer-swinging R/Ws. They rounded out the team with a Death Magic Ne/Ra—raising Bone Fiends when possible and Diseasing the enemy in the meantime—and a Me/Mo who utilized Smiting spells like Judge's Insight and Balthazar's Aura; covered Hex removal handily with Remove Hex, Smite Hex, and the seldom-seen Mantra of Recovery; and fueled the costs with Inspiration Magic. Every character with a Ranger primary or secondary class also brought a pet, giving the Necromancer corpses for reanimation and the Mesmer additional allies on which to cast Smiting spells.
The match took place on the Druid's Isle. While there are multiple tactical routes a team can take on this map, both guilds played it safe and met in the center with their entire teams. The fighting over the flag stand began in earnest, with both teams playing conservatively to familiarize themselves with enemy build. The first six minutes of the match passed relatively uneventfully. There were no deaths, and no close calls with the flag or morale. The only observable points of note dealt with the general capabilities of each build and the counters and weak points in both. The usefulness of STD's Mesmer was immediately apparent when, despite facing two Te characters primarily concerned with Hexes, Hex removal was efficient enough that STD could shrug off most Hexes easily. Conversely, Te's healers had a hard time dealing with the combination of Poison and Disease degeneration. STD seldom found themselves in real danger, but the Conditions just slightly edged out the Heal Party spells fired off by Te's El/Mo. Te's Poison was more manageable for STD, and for much of this first phase, most of STD remained at high Health with no negative ailments. Te's damage came primarily from single-target bursts, and several times an STD member would shoot down below 50% Health. STD's focused damage was less effective on Te, and the only truly significant effects came from team-wide degeneration. As each team became more accustomed to the other's playstyles, the stalemate gradually came to an end, both sides finding they were able to deal greater damage to the other.
At 5:56, the match took a strong turn in STD's favor. STD scored first blood and took down Te's Mesmer. Unfortunately for Te, this was mere seconds before the resurrection timer and their player resurrected inside their base instead of on the battlefield. Even the few seconds required for that player to return with a flag allowed STD to make a small push forward, and with a small compliment of Bone Fiends, the situation became harder for Te to hold on to. Nearly one minute later, the degeneration was severe enough that STD scored a quick succession of kills—the Necromancer, the Elementalist, a Warrior, and finally a Monk were beaten down with less than fifteen seconds between each death. Te called a hasty retreat, making a multitude of incredibly close saves. Several of their members were brought down to just a sliver of health and healed back into the pink just moments before being hit by a would-be killing blow.
Te managed to curb the damage before STD pushed them all the way back into their base. Te stubbornly held their ground between the flag stand and their front gate until their newly resurrected reinforcements arrived. It was an impressive display, and Te held their ground even at a severe disadvantage. Unfortunately, the change in position had left them unable to keep the flag stand contested, and in that situation, a morale boost would tilt the odds even further in favor of STD—in short, holding the line at that point would have assured STD's eventual victory. Te's effort to run the flag forward was a great push, and while moving forward STD's Mesmer got spiked from full Health to zero in seconds. The reins were taken by STD soon afterward as they resurrected their dead and made an effort to push forward. Once again, degeneration coupled with physical damage and disruption overwhelmed Te's healing. The push was denied and then reversed as STD gained morale.
Te finally gave up the fight at that location when their flag runner was killed, and their flag returned after another minute and a half of hard fighting from a disadvantage. There was no avoiding a full retreat back into their base, and unfortunately for Te, one of their Monks was picked off seconds after the resurrection timer. STD gained morale again, bringing every member up to the maximum +10% bonus.
STD moved slowly into Te's base, killing off the base defense NPCs as Te hunkered down next to their Guild Lord. After killing the NPCs, STD waited by the resurrection shrine for Te's dead players to be revived, forcing the survivors to come down off the platform for assistance. The Necromancer and a Monk were picked off during Te's retreat back to the Guild Lord, and with only one Monk left to defend the platform, STD made a push up past the Guild Lord, gradually bringing down some Te members and their Archers. The last Monk died before the 16:00 mark, and STD used the opportunity to knock off both of the Bodyguards on the platform. At that point, the rest of the game became STD's cleanup. One minute was spent rampaging along Te's base, downing every character deemed to really be a threat to STD's victory. At 17:25, with only the Warriors and Mesmer left standing on Te's side, attacks were focused toward the Guild Lord, and thirty seconds later, STD dealt the final blow.
Overall, this match was a lot of fun to watch. Although it may have lacked some of the high-stakes excitement of the previous week's playoffs, it was nice to see some more unconventional build strategies come into play. STD's offensive strategy really pulled together for them, though Te's Hex-heavy support characters made less of an impact than desired. In this case, the match was a case of one build countering another enough to eventually tip the scales, but it was well-fought all around, with a number of close standoffs before the outcome became clear.