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Hero Battles and Skill Synergy: Part Two


Spiteful Necromancer
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Dragon Sword
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Fast Cast Monk
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Denial Mesmer
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Expanding on the prior article about Hero Battles and skill synergy, we now give you three additional builds to try in Hero battles. Going beyond a simple melee build as previously described, we now turn to Hexes, Conditions, and defense. Each individual character in these builds comes straight from the Skill Synergy primer articles. Note that some of the team builds we indicate here may have slight variations from the exact Skill Bars posted in the Skill Synergy articles. For example, Resurrection Signets are not as important in Hero Battles as in other forms of PvP, so in some cases we may elect to substitute them for other skills.

As a reminder, keep in mind that Hero Battles feature a wide range of unpredictable builds. Some of the players you encounter will have, by luck of the draw, the perfect counter to your skills. In such a case, take advantage of the opportunity to learn how they use those skills to counter what you're doing. In any PvP match, when you see your opponent winning, try to take a little time to grasp how that opponent defeated you. This should give you a better chance of winning the next time you face that same counter or opponent. Plus, you'll get an idea of how to play the build used against you in case you want to try that very build.


Build One: Hex

Please refer to the earlier Skill Synergy Primer articles for the Skill Bar setup, attribute spread, and play tips of the four characters in this build:

Skill Synergy: Part One

  1. Spiteful Necromancer (try playing first as this one and let the Heroes take the other roles)
  2. Dragon Sword

Skill Synergy: Part Two

  1. Fast-Cast Monk
  2. Denial Mesmer (bring both Ether Feast and Signet of Humility with no Resurrection Signet)
Energy Surge
Energy Surge
Energy SurgeEnergy Surge [Elite]
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Recharge: 20
Spell. Target foe loses 3..8 Energy. For each point of Energy lost, that foe and all nearby foes take 10 damage.

This build starts off weak but builds strength rapidly, so it needs a little time in order to work well. If the enemy does not pay attention, you can easily kill off the whole team with Spiteful Spirit and Energy Surge area damage. Against quick attack spikers, such as Assassins, Spiteful Spirit loses some effectiveness. In this case, retreat to capture an important shrine and try to engage again.

We suggest you try playing as the Necromancer to become familiar with the idea of spreading Hexes around an enemy team and covering your important Hexes. In this case, Spiteful Spirit is your most important Hex. Use it every time it recharges, and cover it with a quick Parasitic Bond. For maximum effect, apply Reckless Haste on top. Even if the enemy team has no physical attackers and is composed of casters only, you can still use Reckless Haste to cover your other area-of-effect Hexes, Suffering and Ulcerous Lungs. These Hexes are important for overall pressure because of the Health degeneration they add.

Take the Resurrection Signet out of your Mesmer's Skill Bar so that you can have both Ether Feast and Signet of Humility equipped. You'll want to lock the Mesmer onto a Monk or healer to begin the Energy denial pressure. The Monk should get too busy trying to remove the Mesmer's Hexes to worry about removing the ones you apply as a Necromancer. After Hexing up a melee or "spamming" character, (someone who quickly uses the same skill or same series of skills over and over) with Spiteful Spirit and some cover Hexes, switch over to the Monk to help the Mesmer apply pressure. Or you can spread about your Health degeneration Hexes, trusting the Mesmer to keep the Monk fully occupied.

Lock the Warrior onto a soft target. Don't put him on the Monk, because the Monk will just run away. It does no good to force a Monk into running; rather, force a caster into running from your Warrior. By doing so, the caster doesn't have as much time to stand still and cast offensive spells that damage your team and pressure your Monk.

Against an AoE-heavy team such as Searing Flames and Sandstorm Elementalists, order your party to a shrine. This ensures they stay in capping range of that shrine as much as possible, rather than following you in a predictable and easily damaged cluster. To further reduce the AoE pressure, you can stand off to the side and order your Monk Hero to stand slightly behind the shrine retreating to her healing range when needed. You can also order a single Hero, such as the Warrior, to take helpful shrines. The Health shrine goes a long way toward alleviating AoE damage. Plus, having the extra NPC as a result of holding a certain shrine gives your side another body to absorb damage. The Dervish NPC, for example, likes to follow your every move, so you can use that to your advantage. Extend away from the shrine and the AoE to lead the Dervish into the enemy team. Their AoE then becomes less effective if they decide to split their targets and start attacking the Dervish.

If they have no Monks or primary healers, try to lock the Mesmer onto a character who defends the team. For example, the Mesmer can deny Energy from a defensive Paragon. Shouts have few direct counters, but Energy denial works well.

Counters: Widespread Hex-removal abilities, split tactics, party-wide healing


Build Two: Condition

Please refer to the earlier Skill Synergy Primer articles for the Skill Bar setup, attribute spread, and play tips of the four builds:

Skill Synergy: Part One

  1. Blinding Dervish
  2. Searing Elementalist

Skill Synergy: Part Two

  1. Fast-Cast Monk
  2. Conditioning Ranger (try playing first as this one and let the Heroes take the other roles; replace Resurrection Signet with Storm Chaser)

Swap the Ranger's Resurrection Signet for Storm Chaser if you feel like moving quickly between different shrines. This isn't necessary, but it does help if you encounter a build you can't fight right away. In Hero Battles, the ability to move quickly between shrines can often mean the difference between winning and losing.

The Ranger character has good survivability, so it makes a natural choice if you need to go off and do solo battle with an enemy attempting to take a shrine. You can leave your three Heroes alone at the center shrine, especially if the enemy has a melee character for your Dervish to shutdown. Make sure you keep the targets locked. If the enemy has a Ritualist, pets, or minions, use the Searing Flames Elementalist to target the groups that are clumped together. Putting the Elementalist on a Ritualist applies a lot of pressure to that Ritualist, because it must remain stationary to summon Spirits. In addition, the AoE may damage or even kill surrounding Spirits.

Poison
Poison

When fighting 4v4, the Ranger's most basic task is to spread Poison through the enemy ranks. But it can also help shutdown melee or ranged attackers with Pin Down and Throw Dirt. To get the highest amount of Health degeneration and thus apply the most pressure, make sure to use Burning Arrow on a target that has not yet caught fire from Searing Flames. Add some Bleeding to this with Screaming Shot, and it becomes incredibly hard for Monks to keep up with with the high amount of Health degeneration.

Keep an eye out for party-wide healing skills such as the Monk's Heal Party and Light of Deliverance, and the Paragon's Song of Restoration and Aria of Restoration. Anything that grants an entire party direct healing ability or Health regeneration counters your Health degeneration. Against a team that has only single target healing and no self heals, you should be able to win.

Counters: Party-wide healing, multiple Condition-removal abilities, Enchantment removal, shut-down Mesmers


Build Three: Defense

Please refer to the earlier Skill Synergy Primer articles for the Skill Bar setup, attribute spread, and play tips of the four builds:

Skill Synergy: Part One

  1. Dragon Sword
  2. Battery Paragon

Skill Synergy: Part Two

  1. Fast-Cast Monk
  2. Conditioning Ranger (try playing first as this one and let the Heroes take the other roles; replace Resurrection Signet with Storm Chaser)
Disrupting Throw
Disrupting Throw
Disrupting Throw Disrupting Throw
paragon/Spear Mastery - Attack
Energy: 5
Activation: 0.5
Recharge: 10
Attack. If this attack hits a foe suffering from a Condition, that foe is interrupted.

In this build, the Paragon augments the team defense and helps keep everyone alive, making it easier for the Monk to survive. This build can last for a long time under heavy pressure and can also sustain more damage, due to the high armor level of the non-Monk characters. The improved durability buys time for you to study the opponent and figure out who's doing what. It also has the advantage of not requiring a particular type of target to lock your Heroes onto. Instead of repeatedly locking individual targets, you can call a single one with "Ctrl" click. This does not always work, however, so you may need to lock your Warrior onto a foe as you tab through the enemy forces to spread your Conditions. The Paragon has an easy time following your target, because it has ranged attacks as well (if you switch too fast, the Warrior can get stuck running between targets and never doing any real damage). We suggest equipping Disrupting Throw as the optional skill on the Paragon, because if the Paragon stays on your target, that target should have a Condition, thus meeting the requirement for the interrupt.

You may notice that if you have the Warrior locked on certain targets, the target's Health Bar stays relatively high. This could be because the targets are kiting too much or have armor that specifically resists the type of damage your Warrior deals. Experiment with switching this Warrior's target often until you find one that seems to take more damage from his attacks. Also, the enemy might throw Protection spells on the selected target. In this case, changing targets means they have wasted those Protection spells and you gain a temporary window to deal damage while they wait for those spells to recharge.

This build also has nice split capability. The Warrior has a speed boost, so he can run off to take shrines. Make sure to activate Sprint, however, otherwise he won't do it on his own. If the other side sends someone that the solo Warrior can't handle, trade places with the Warrior. You have decent healing, a speed boost, a defensive Stance, and Throw Dirt to Blind attackers. Also, you can do a lot of Health degeneration in a short period of time, and snare pursuers or retreating enemies with Pin Down. With the Paragon supporting the Monk, the three Heroes can last for a long time while separated from you.

Because of the extra defense and higher armor, you also have a buffer not present in the other builds should you decide to play as a Monk. It will probably still challenge you, but at least you have time to react to the pressure and figure out what's going on. The Paragon's elite skill, Song of Restoration, grants enough self-healing to the team so that you can coordinate your Heroes and kite out of danger while still having time for emergency heals in response to quick spikes.

Counters: Anti-melee abilities such as Blindness and Aegis, speed boosts, and kiting


Playing other characters and builds

Even if you don't normally play a certain profession, or prefer not to, trying these builds enhances your ability to play your favorite character, because you learn firsthand how other professions function. For example, if you prefer the Warrior profession, playing as an anti-melee Hexing Necromancer shows you just what it takes to disable a Warrior. You may not have realized the extent to which Spiteful Spirit does damage around you if you attack while Hexed with it, but as the Necromancer applying Spiteful Spirit, you get to see all the yellow damage numbers go up whenever your Hexed target attacks. And thus, you may come to realize the effectiveness of Spiteful Spirit lies not only with damaging a single target, but also with an area of effect. Once you understand this, and see the exact range of its effect, you may choose to run out of a fight and heal yourself or wait for the Monks to remove the Hex rather than continuing to attack. Playing builds that counter each other better develops your understanding of the game and fine tunes your sense of what to do in specific situations.