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PvP Primer: Arming Yourself in Detail


We've already covered some of the basics about equipment in an earlier article, but we haven't gone into extensive detail. There are many ways to build armor for your character, and a wide range of weapon options to choose from. So how do you know what's right for you? This article explains what much of the equipment does so you're better informed when making a PvP character.


Armor

Profession-specific Armor Bonus and Level
Each profession has an inherent bonus already attached to armor. This bonus cannot be modified. All classes except Warrior and Paragon gain Energy regeneration with some pieces of armor.

Assassin AL 70, Max Energy and Energy regeneration
Dervish AL 70, Max Energy, Energy regeneration, and Health
Elementalist AL 60, Max Energy and regeneration
Mesmer AL 60, Max Energy and regeneration
Monk AL 60, Max Energy and regeneration
Necromancer AL 60, Max Energy and Energy regeneration
Paragon AL 80, Max Energy, no additional Energy regeneration
Ranger AL 70, Elemental damage resistance, max Energy and Energy regeneration
Ritualist AL 60, Max Energy and Energy regeneration
Warrior AL 80, Extra armor against physical damage, no max Energy or regeneration

Headpiece always +1 to attribute
Each profession can select from headpieces that add +1 to different attributes. All attributes have an associated headpiece. These are already unlocked and are part of any standard PvP-only character. Headpieces do not confer any other enhancements, although you can add insignia and runes to them.

Profession-specific Insignia
Each piece of armor can have one insignia and one rune on it. Some of these stack; others do not. Some insignia and runes are restricted to certain professions, while others can be applied to the armor of any profession.

Assassin
The different insignias grant bonuses against general physical damage and specific types of physical damage. The Infiltrator's insignia is useful to sneak into the Guild Lord area because it reduces damage you take while in there. Also, if an Archer uses Pin Down to Cripple you, it won't last as long. This could save you if the other team sends someone back to deal with your infiltration attempt.

Dervish
The Windwalker's Insignia should fit most Dervish builds. While the Forsaken Insignia requires less investment, you lose the armor bonus if anyone else on your team decides to Enchant you.

Elementalist
Although the Prismatic Insignia can augment the armor level the most, it doesn't fit with many Elementalist builds. Most Elementalists focus on pouring attribute points into one or two lines. Having 9 or higher in all four attributes is exceedingly rare. As such, the Pyromancer and Aeromancer Insignia might be good choices. Fire and Air damage are quite common, and having armor against them could come in useful.

Mesmer
The Mesmer has several, potentially useful, insignia selections. The Virtuoso's Insignia, in particular, is easy to trigger. However it loses effectiveness if you have to kite, so another selection may be better depending on your build and your team.

Monk
Anchorite's Insignia can be hard to use right, but it can give a decent armor bonus. And, unlike the Blessed Insignia (which adds armor while Enchanted), this armor bonus stays with you even if you lose all Enchantments. Sometimes this helps more against a spike than Blessed Insignia would because spikers tend to remove Enchantments from their target.

Necromancer
The Necromancer has interesting options available for armor insignia. Each one triggers different armor under different situations, but the Bloodstained Insignia actually reduces the casting time of spells that target corpses. For a minion master this is a tremendous benefit.

Paragon
The Paragon has one special insignia: Centurion's. It grants extra armor while under the effect of any Shout, Echo, or Chant. If you're playing a Paragon, chances are you plan to use at least one of these three skill types, so this armor insignia should be effective. For even more armor, consider using the Warrior Shout "Watch Yourself!" Combined with the Centurion's Insignia, this gives a Paragon quite a bit of armor.

Ranger
Scout's Insignia gives you extra armor when using a Preparation. This armor works against both physical and elemental damage, so even though it is +10 instead of the +15 that you can get against specific elements, it pays off more in the long run.

Ritualist
Like the Necromancer, the Ritualist has varied options for extra armor, all of them viable. It depends mostly on the build you have. For example, if you plan to use Spirits, the Shaman's Insigina would make the most sense.

Warrior
Stonefist Insignia is useful for any knockdown ability on your Skill Bar. Common uses include Hammer Warrior, Shock/Axe, or Bull's Strike. The extra second of knockdown makes a big difference because it lets you execute a longer attack chain in a shorter period of time than if the target were actively running from you. Lieutenant's Insignia is useful as a form of Hex counter, but it does carry a damage penalty with it. Consider, though, that many Hexes shut down Warrior damage completely, so the 5% reduction in damage from Lieutenant's Insignia could be worth it if shutdown Hexes don't stick on you as long. To be most effective, a Warrior should constantly do damage, so anything that gets rid of hindering Hexes helps a Warrior do a better job.

Using Superior Runes
In general, superior runes are recommended for weapon mastery because of the increased damage and chance to inflict a critical hit. Superior runes are less important when all they do is increase the duration of skills in that attribute line. Making a Hex last a few extra seconds won't do much good because it will likely get removed before it expires naturally. Exceptions to this occur when planning to Hex a target for a specified length of time to keep the target shut down or to coincide with the recharge period of the Hex, or the recharge period of the cover Hexes. Also, lengthening duration of Hexes helps when you need to keep multiple targets Hexed. Skills that inflict Conditions fall into this same type of reasoning. Using a superior rune merely to lengthen the duration of Poison may cause more harm from the Health loss to your person than you'll gain from the potential extra Health degeneration you can do to your target.

Other times to use superior runes are when you're shooting for a specified attribute spread amongst several different lines. A superior rune grants extra attribute points in a single line, meaning you don't have to invest as many of your available attribute points to increase that line to your desired level, leaving more points free for the other lines. For example, a Ranger may want 14 Expertise, but have enough attribute points to have high Marksmanship and Wilderness Survival. In this case, using a Superior Rune of Expertise allows more freedom for the Ranger to set up attributes and get optimal return from the associated skills.


Weapons and offhand equipment

Focus swap
Grab a weapon set with -2 Energy regeneration in exchange for a higher maximum Energy level. Swap to this for emergencies only. The longer you stay with this, the more you build up an Energy deficit. If your Energy drops to zero and you swap back to your +4 Energy regeneration weapon set, you have to wait until you fully regenerate the Energy you had over your max level before you'll see current Energy rise above zero.

Think of it as having negative Energy to overcome. For example, if you swap to a weapon set that gives you +30 to your max Energy, and you spend all of that Energy and then swap back to the original set, the display will show zero but you'll actually have -30 Energy. This takes some time to work off.

Recharge and cast times bonus from items
Consider which skills you plan on using most and try to set up your primary weapon set accordingly. Sometimes you may not need the extra recharge that items can give you. For example, many Monk skills recharge so fast you can keep casting them over and over again without augmenting their recharge with items. But if you have a few slow recharging skills, you may want items that give you a recharge bonus for those skills' attributes.

If you get on a team planning to spike, make sure your items do not give you faster casting times on your spiking skills. This messes up the spike timing.

Bows
In general, it benefits Rangers to carry a longbow, flatbow, recurve bow, and shortbow.

A flatbow shoots in a high enough arc to strike Archers defending a base wall, but moving targets easily dodge this arc.

A longbow has the same range as as a flatbow but a lower arc, making it harder to dodge.

A recurve bow has an even lower arc, with a range between the longbow and shortbow. Most Rangers use a recurve for interrupting, because they don't have to get as close to the target as with a shortbow.

A shortbow has the shortest range, but the highest rate of fire. This comes in handy when spreading Conditions or for raising the DPS to a respectable level.

Hornbows have inherent armor penetration, making them a hard-hitting choice for spikes. But due to their slow draw time they make poor choices for a favored bow.

Weapon damage types and skills
Some skills require a certain type of damage to activate properly. For example, Iron Mist renders the target immune to all damage forms except lightning damage. Thus, if planning to use Iron Mist with your team, make sure the primary attackers have shocking weapons (which deal lighting damage.

Order of Pain
Order of Pain
Order of PainOrder of Pain
Necromancer - Blood Magic - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Duration: 5
Recharge: 0
Enchantment Spell. Sacrifice 17% Health. For 5 seconds, whenever a party member hits a foe with physical damage, that party member does +3..16 damage.

Likewise, Order of Pain won't trigger if you have an elemental weapon, and the various Conjure Enchantments won't work if you have a physical damage weapon, such as a vampiric sword.

Other skills can even change the damage type you do with your weapon. Sometimes this nullifies the effect of another skill. For example, Order of Pain is a party-wide Necromancer Enchantment that adds bonus damage to all physical attacks. Judge's Insight is a Monk Enchantment that makes an ally deal holy damage. Therefore, a Warrior with both Judge's Insight and Order of Pain on him only gets the bonus from Judge's Insight. The Order of Pain bonus damage doesn't trigger because the Warrior has switched from doing physical damage to doing holy damage.


Suggested unlocks

Armor modification unlocks
Vigor runes, vitae runes, attunement runes, survivor insignia, and radiant insignia. Each of these can go on any profession. Thus, if you unlock a Rune of Vitae, you can then use it on every piece of armor for every character you make from then on, including Heroes, even if you have nothing else unlocked. It has a much broader application than a rune tied to a specific attribute or profession.

Vampiric/zealous/elemental weapon modifications
Although many different weapon upgrades exist, for melee attackers they fall into three common categories: vampiric, zealous, and elemental. A vampiric weapon increases the damage per second (DPS) more than sundering. Additionally, it offers damage that ignores armor and damage reduction skills. Plus, it triggers with each hit on an enemy, so a Dual Shot from a bow would grant the bonus 5 life steal damage twice, for a total of 10 extra damage. Over time, this adds up and pressures your target and healers.

Health and armor
Weapons and offhand equipment can give you Health and armor bonuses. It helps to have a set of these prepared for when you start to take excessive damage. Swap over to your Health set while running away and you might buy yourself enough time to get healed. Try unlocking any Health modifications. If you play lots of casters, you can use the same Health unlock on many different weapons.

Item's attribute +1
If you plan to spam a skill over and over again, having a +1 to that skill's attribute trigger twenty percent of the time can add up. Generally you can start with an item like this and then switch to another one with a Health modification if you need extra Health. Unlock this after Health and armor modifiers.