PvP Primer: Random Arena Cross-Training
People play in Random Arenas for a variety of reasons. Some take it less seriously than others—many do it for fun and don't care if they win or lose—so the degree of competition fluctuates quite a bit. For players new to PvP, Random Arenas provide you with a place to learn just about any build.
If you've never played Random Arenas before, check out these two State of the Game articles for basic information, map details, and general tips: Welcome to the Arena and Arena Play Part 2.
Remember why these arenas are called Random Arenas—you are randomly grouped with players, and you fight against other random groups. Consequently, when you hop into a Random Arena, you might find yourself on anything from a dysfunctional team to an experienced and elite team. If things look bad at the start, don't lose hope. It's best to try at least one full match with your team, as it may take a moment for the team dynamic to settle into a comfortable groove. On occasion, some players leave the battle as soon as they see something, real or imagined, that they don't like about their teammates. Prepare for this eventuality, and realize that when it happens, you can either play it out while down a teammate for an extra challenge, or leave the group and try entering again to get on a full team.
Some builds work better in Random Arenas than others, just as some builds work better in larger 8v8 play. Many builds you might play in 8v8 have limited application outside the context of the particular team build. For example, some common builds such as a Tainted Flesh Necromancer work much better in larger battles because of the ability to affect multiple players.
Even so, playing such a limited build in Random Arenas can open up avenues of possibility for your Skill Bar and show you the potential your particular build may have. In 8v8 you may find yourself in unexpected situations, such as assisting the flag runner with taking out a solo enemy or trying to defend the NPCs in your guild hall from an infiltration squad. These small-scale engagements often have parallels in the Random Arena. Even if you don't learn much about how your build functions in tandem with an eight person team, you can still learn the value of your individual skills and gain a more detailed understanding of how you fare in smaller battles.
For people used to playing just one profession in GvG, the Random Arena offers the chance to ease into the roles of other professions and experience the battlefield from differing perspectives. For example, playing a Monk in GvG often takes a lot of practice to play effectively, as well as a lot of patience to perform under the stress and pressure of keeping everyone alive. Understandably, focusing on a single role such as "Monking" to the exclusion of other roles tends to foster one-dimensional thinking. Rounding out your experience by basic practice at other builds can go a long way toward making you a better Monk. If you play a Warrior for a little bit, even in Random Arenas, you may understand why your Warriors in 8v8 want to run a certain way, saving you the time of asking or wondering about it in an actual match.
In the same vein, players used to playing a Warrior and calling targets might consider stepping out of their comfort zone and "Monking" in Random Arenas, especially if they've never done it before. Healing a team in the Random Arena shows you just how much pressure Monks fall under. If you wonder why your Monks constantly want to run away, try playing a Monk yourself. Once you've done this, you'll have a deeper grasp of what your Monks can and cannot do in a battle, which could alleviate frustration when your Monks tell you they're in trouble.
Common PvP Builds
As discussed above, Monks occur in most 8v8 team builds. The ZB Monk, in particular, shows up more than average, along with Divert Hexes, Restore Condition, and Light of Deliverance Monks. The build still has plenty of solid strengths and can demonstrate many useful PvP concepts.
The ZB Monk
Zealous Benediction [Elite]
Monk - Protection Prayers - Spell
Spell. Heal target ally for 30..180 Health. If target was below 50% Health, you gain 7 Energy.
- Zealous Benediction
- Reversal of Fortune
- Gift of Health
- Shielding Hands
- Dismiss Condition
- Holy Veil
- Dark Escape
- Divine Favor: 9 (8+1)
- Protection Prayers: 14 (12+2)
- Healing Prayers: 10 (9+1)
- Shadow Arts: 5
*Note: Adding minor runes to raise your attributes to suggested levels makes you much, much more competitive.
- Build your equipment as you see fit, but remember to bring a weapon set combination that gives you extra maximum Energy at the cost of slower Energy regeneration. This will save you when you suddenly need a burst of Energy.
- Choosing the Survivor's Insignia for armor will help you live longer. Even though the Radiant Insignia gives you more Energy, Monks need more Health in PvP so they can survive long enough to cast spells.
The ZB Monk has replaced the Boon Prot as the build of choice for a variety of situations. Boon Prots can still work, but learning a ZB Monk will better prepare you for playing in the current world of Guild Wars PvP. Where a Boon Prot healed with the bonus from Divine Boon (a maintained Enchantment) and the healing boost from Divine Favor (the Monk's primary attribute), a ZB Monk relies on a combination of powerful healing, smart usage of skills, and self-survival mechanisms.
With Zealous Benediction as the primary heal, you don't have to worry about maintaining Divine Boon. That Enchantment often hindered Boon Prots, as savvy casters looked to strip it from them. With Zealous Benediction, all you have to do is wait for somebody's Health to drop below 50% for maximum efficiency. Meanwhile, you can play with a variety of other quick reaction, low-Energy skills such as Reversal of Fortune. Protection skills have the beneficial side-effect of preventing additional damage or adding conditional heals. As such, ZB Monks are highly versatile, can heal through pressure damage and, with a quick reaction, handle spike damage.
This strong and versatile setup requires concentration and awareness to use correctly. Pre-casting Holy Veil, for example, fends off devastating Hexes such as Diversion because you can remove them without actually using a skill, but it reduces Energy regeneration to three pips (right arrows) instead of the normal four. Three pips of Energy regeneration translates into 60 Energy per minute instead of the normal 80 Energy per minute from four pips of regeneration. And be careful with Return—while nice, it doesn't work when you get knocked down. If the other team has knock downs, save Dark Escape for when they put you on the ground and spike you.
For extra healing power, put Shielding Hands on someone taking damage and, if they have a Condition, use Dismiss Condition. This hits the Divine Favor bonus, removes the Condition (saving further potential Health degeneration), and triggers the extra healing of Dismiss Condition (because your target is Enchanted). Putting Reversal of Fortune on someone then following up with Dismiss doesn't work as well because the person you're trying to save often takes damage as soon as Reversal goes on, causing it to end. As another option, if your target is both Hexed and has a Condition, use Holy Veil then Dismiss. Cast Holy Veil and queue up Dismiss as your next cast. After it completes, cancel Holy Veil. Sometimes these methods help a lot while Shielding Hands recharges.
Lastly, spare yourself damage by running away from Warriors and other melee characters. Hide behind walls or move side to side to avoid arrows, spears, and projectile-based spells. If possible, stay out of spell range of anti-Monk characters such as Mesmers. At the very least, make them run up to get you. Don't run to them. If you follow these tips you can keep yourself alive without as much healing, thus saving Energy to heal others on your team.
Devastating Hammer [Elite]
Warrior - Hammer Mastery - Attack
Attack. If Devastating Hammer hits, your target is knocked down and suffers from Weakness for 5..20 seconds.
While not as common as a Monk, the Devastating Hammer Warrior also shows up in many GvG battles. The exact skills can vary, but if you try this build, you'll gain an appreciation of how Hammer Warriors work.
- Devastating Hammer
- Heavy Blow
- Crushing Blow
- Irresistible Blow
- Healing Signet
- Resurrection Signet
- Hammer Mastery: 13 (12+1)
- Tactics: 9
- Strength: 9
Note: Consider adding any runes you've unlocked. A Superior Hammer Mastery rune pumps up your damage but reduces your Health.
- Stoneskin Insignia on hands (very important for any knock-down Warrior)
- Radiant Insignia Armor (you'll need the extra Energy for Irresistible Blow)
- Hammers of choice (Vampiric and Zealous Hammers work well)
Hit with Devastating Hammer to cause Weakness. With the target on the ground, follow with Crushing Blow to apply a Deep Wound. When the target gets up, hit with Heavy Blow to knock it down again. The Deep Wound covers the Weakness, making it difficult to remove quickly. The Weakness should stay on long enough so you can utilize Heavy Blow for the knock down. Because you'll have lost all your adrenaline by this point, follow up with Irresistible Blow for a finishing smash. Against a Monk, you can inflict a great deal of damage and hamper healing ability at the same time. If nobody removes the Deep Wound, any healing done to your target loses 20 percent of its effectiveness.
While Frenzy does let you build adrenaline quicker, remember that it also makes you spike faster with attack skills. To spike, unload your various attack skills as fast as possible in an organized chain. Without Frenzy, you're confined to the normal attack speed of a hammer (once every 1.75 seconds) when unleashing attack skills. With an attack speed boost such as Frenzy, you attack 33 percent faster, meaning you can hit your target with skills 33 percent faster. Such an increase in damage delivery heavily pressures a Monk, making it hard to heal. When one or more of your attacks causes knock downs, you can often take out a Monk by yourself.
Take a Risk
Study your opponents, check out some forums, or watch Observer Mode and find something you haven't played. If you are completely new to PvP, practice with a given build for several rounds at least. A lot of skill and time goes into PvP, and mastering it won't happen quickly. Many of these builds such as the Devastating Hammer Warrior form core components of common builds in the GvG metagame, so besides having the potential for great fun in Random Arenas, you can learn something useful about individual characters in the metagame. For example, you may see Master of Magic Elementalist/Monk smiters in GvG matches or Heroes' Ascent, but you may not necessarily know how they work until you try playing as one.