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Match Report - Going to the Edge

Mistral Edge [Me] defeats Close Encounter [cE] in the January Monthly Championship
By Harold J. Chow


Special note: Each Match Report presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.


After narrowly missing out on a gold-trimmed finish in the November Monthly Championship and suffering defeat in the first single elimination round in December, Mistral Edge [Me] bounced back to defeat Close Encounter [cE] to claim the first monthly championship of 2008. This final match, played on the split-friendly Isle of Wurms, featured two guilds that squeezed into the top 16 on tie breakers, beating out top-ranked guilds such as Delta Formation, which missed the cut by .001 points.


Build Analysis

Mistral Edge frequently runs a so-called "Sineptitude" build. This type of build features a split team consisting of two Assassins and a Monk, and a defensive team with two or three Illusion Mesmers. Using skills like Clumsiness, Ineptitude, and Imagined Burden, these Mesmers reduce opposing offensive pressure while the Assassin split attempts to eliminate NPCs in the enemy base. The Mesmers' skill sets also come in handy against NPCs, most of which use physical attacks. The Me/E served as the primary flag runner, using Signet of Illusions to power up Flame Djinn's Haste. Mistral Edge typically runs this build with three Mesmers, and this match proved no different. In fact, Me used virtually the same build throughout the single elimination rounds due to the split-friendly map rotation.

Clumsiness
Clumsiness
ClumsinessClumsiness
Mesmer - Illusion Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 4..8
Recharge: 4
Hex Spell. For 4..8 seconds, the next time target foe attempts to attack, the attack is interrupted and target foe suffers 10..92 damage.
Ineptitude
Ineptitude
IneptitudeIneptitude [Elite]
Mesmer - Illusion Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 4..10
Recharge: 20
Hex Spell. For 4..10 seconds, the next time target foe attacks, that foe takes 30..135 damage and becomes Blinded for 10 seconds.
Imagined Burden
Imagined Burden
Imagined BurdenImagined Burden
Mesmer - Illusion Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Duration: 10..30
Recharge: 30
Hex Spell. For 10..30 seconds, target foe moves 50% slower.

Close Encounter used a slightly less mobile build seemingly focused more on mitigating the impact of Me's split while packing a lot of power for taking out NPCs at Victory or Death. With not one, not two, but three Word of Healing Monks and two Elementalists with anti-melee capability—one with Blinding Surge and Ward Against Melee, and one with Blinding Flash powered by Mind Blast—cE clearly hoped to keep up with Me's split while pushing its own style of play at the flag stand. Despite facing a build similar to Me's in a previous round, cE decided to change its build around for this match. In previous rounds, cE had used a Mesmer and a second Warrior. The Dervish and the Mind Blast Elementalist that replaced them each have wider mobility, but far less disruption. However, the Mind Blast bar provides a decent offensive split option. The Mo/E with Storm Djinn's Haste served as the primary flag runner.


MATCH LINEUP:

#7 Mistral Edge [Me] #10 Close Encounter [cE]
A/W Dagger/Deadly Arts Assassin with Shroud of Silence
OwFQMUwQmEThJ8Tgv5bH
W/E Shock Axe Warrior
OQYQQSFVi7VaFdFMFnDAAA
A/N Dagger/Deadly Arts Assassin with Shadow Prison and Rigor Mortis
OwRQM0ZJmCT4nAfzJCAA
D/A Melandru Dervish
OgeQMy3AM0t5KutvTQAA
Mo/A Word of Healing Monk with Guardian, Heal Party, and Dark Escape
OwcQMaEBymWLe3+IAgGI
R/Mo Crip Shot Ranger
OgMQMJmHjqZ24b+15VBA
Me/E Signet of Illusions Mesmer with Flame Djinn's Haste and Freezing Gust
OQZQMCVOwMQDUBMrlVBA
E/Rt Blinding Surge Elementalist with Splinter Weapon and Ward Against Melee
OghQMXVYhWFj5NTuAAAA
Me/D Ineptitude Mesmer with Pious Haste
OQpQMvgVALYDI62aHYAA
E/D Mind Blast Elementalist with Blinding Flash and Gale
OgpQM+5exvAXIK4Gs3yK
Me/Rt Ineptitude Mesmer with Signet of Humility and Flesh of My Flesh
OQhQQvArA+AiObNFgMBXMA
Mo/E Word of Healing Monk with Shield of Absorption, Spirit Bond, and Aegis
OwYQMakZym+uWT0iIjAC
Mo/E Shield of Deflection Monk with Aegis
OwYQMDkNtApkUPQGBEAA
Mo/E Word of Healing Monk with Protective Spirit and Aegis
OwYQMakZymWgM9rHIjAC
Mo/E Healer's Boon Monk with Heal Party
OwYQMx1MCY8jgMor3NAA
Mo/E Word of Healing Monk with Heal Party and Storm Djinn's Haste
OwYQMakZym+jUT0iIDtK
Morale Boosts: 1 (21:29) Morale Boosts: 0

With Sineptitude builds capable of achieving a sizeable NPC advantage through its formidable splits, cE's build seems geared toward surviving until Victory or Death. Between the B-Surger's Splinter Weapon and Ancestors' Rage, the Mind Blaster's Fire Magic, and the Melandru Dervish, the team certainly had plenty of area-of-effect damage to take out NPCs during VoD. But, with NPCs now dealing far more damage at VoD, failure to kill them quickly results in an increasingly powerful flag stand position for the opponent.


The Match

As expected, Mistral Edge split right from the start, sending two Assassins, its split Monk (Mo/A, #3), and the Me/D out the southern gate with the Guild Thief to capture the Health Shrine. Meanwhile, Me's flag runner captured the flag stand right away to initiate a flag race. Close Encounter opted to keep its Ranger at the base with its flag runner to guard against a possible split while the rest of the team headed for the flag stand, conceding the Health shrine to Me and its team full of low-armor targets starting at 00:31. cE's Blabla Moomoo (E/Rt) ran flags for Me early in the match.

With no enemy damage dealers heading to the Health Shrine, Me's Mo/A, Act Hel, peeled off to assist the main team. Although the rest of Me's split squad proceeded to cE's southern gate, they turned northward and collapsed on cE's stand team, drawing cE's Ranger to the flag stand. cE would end up keeping its flag runner in the base for the first four minutes of the game trying to discourage a gank attempt. While the NPCs remained protected for the time being, it gave Mistral Edge a numbers advantage outside the base, where Me's movements set up opportunities to collapse on cE's team.

The earliest example of this occurred after the 2:00 mark, when cE's E/D, Wipe Your Tears, split off through the flag stand area towards Me's southern gate. As Me began to collapse on the Elementalist, Tears reversed direction right into Me's Assassins and suffered the game's first death at 2:28. Meanwhile, Mpz Ooo, cE's Ranger, brought the team's Guild Thief to neutralize and capture Health Shrine. But with Me's A/W bringing up Me's Guild Thief from behind and Me's Me/D flanking from the other end of the path, the shorthanded cE quickly conceded the Health Shrine again. Me pushed its early advantage by keeping the main battle between cE's northern and southern gates and eliminating three of cE's archers in the process.

Shroud of Silence
Shroud of Silence
Shroud of SilenceShroud of Silence [Elite]
Assassin - Deadly Arts - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.75
Duration: 3..10
Recharge: 30
Hex Spell. All of your Spells are disabled for 15 seconds. For 3..10 seconds, target touched foe cannot cast Spells.

cE continued to try to split Tears off to try to eliminate some of Me's outer Archers, but the Japanese guild responded quickly to each attempt, with Me's Saku Yon (A/N, #2) getting another kill on cE's E/D at 9:00. cE's struggle to defend against Me's split tactics led to a death for cE's Aaliyah Healona (Mo/E, #7) at 10:24. Me's split team had infiltrated cE's base from the south while the rest of Me's team tried to prevent cE from capturing the flag stand. With the flagger defending the base from inside, the E/D resurrecting at base, and the other Monk helping the E/Rt to capture the flag stand, Aaliyah, the one Monk without the ability to pre-cast Holy Veil, split off with the Dervish to follow Me's Assassins into cE's base. Me's Assassins quickly turned on Aaliyah and disabled the Monk's spells with Shroud of Silence. With no Elementalists nearby to Blind either Assassin and no ability for Aaliyah to remove Shroud of Silence, the Monk fell quickly.

Backfire
Backfire
BackfireBackfire
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 3
Duration: 10
Recharge: 20
Hex Spell. For 10 seconds, whenever target foe casts a Spell, that foe takes 35..140 damage.

Me then switched up its split, sending its A/W with the Mo/A and Me/D to infiltrate cE's base from the south. With cE's Dephria Cadbury (Mo/E) left to manage the flag stand with the E/Rt, Me focused its efforts on the Monk. Constant attacks from the A/N and Signet of Humility spam from the Me/Rt afforded the Monk no time to reapply Holy Veil. A timely Backfire from Me's flag runner and another attack chain from the A/N dropped the Monk right before 12:00 to force a "base res", allowing Me to eliminate the two footmen and the front archer.

This cat-and-mouse game continued until VoD, when cE prepared to limp out to the flag stand to face Me's full complement of NPCs. With Me threatening to send its Assassins in from the southern gate to finish off the Guild Lord after the NPCs marched out, cE had to keep some players back to defend. Meanwhile, Me's Me/Rt had already taken position behind a wall by the flag stand. Knowing the NPC archers' tendency to fire on a target in range, regardless of whether the arrows can hit, the Me/Rt caused cE's archers to stop before they could even get into the flag stand area. From this safe point, the Mesmer used Clumsiness and Ineptitude to make each archer kill itself while Me's Monks made sure cE could do nothing to stop it. The Mesmers also kept cE's melee at bay while cE's E/D and all that fire damage remained at the base with 30% Death Penalty to defend against the split.

Mistral Edge suffered its first death at 20:39 after Mpz crippled Me's split team, allowing cE to collapse back into their base to kill Act Hel. Although the Monk died again at 21:00 after a quick Flesh of My Flesh, Me already had the game in hand. With plenty of archers and the bodyguard still alive, Me simply had to protect its NPCs long enough for them to overwhelm cE's Monks. Finally having the upper hand at the flag stand, Me secured the first Morale Boost of the game at 21:29, and the victory less than 20 seconds later at 21:48.


Harold J. Chow is one of our freelance Guild Wars reporters. His in-game name is Guild Informant.