Skill Synergy: Part Two
Builds form an integral component of Guild Wars, and selecting skills is just as important as how you use those skills. Many skills act in synergy with each other and offer tons of options for combinations. We'll examine some of those opportunities in this article, and start explaining how skills work with each other and how certain types of skills can "cover" other ones.
As with the previous primer synergy article, we move away from Training, Zaishen, and Random Arenas. However, the builds listed below work fine in Random Arenas. In fact, we suggest that you try them out in Random Arenas or a similar arena for practice. Each of these builds has a good chance of proving useful in any PvP conflict, from Hero Battles to GvG to Alliance Battles.
Five Builds from Five Professions: Assassin, Monk, Mesmer, Ranger, and Ritualist
Shadow Prison [Elite]
Assassin - Deadly Arts - Hex Spell
Hex Spell. Shadow Step to target foe. For 1..10 seconds, that foe moves 66% slower.
Dagger Mastery 16 (12+4)
Deadly Arts 8
Shadow Mastery 8
Critical Strikes 8 (7+1)
Black Mantis Thrust
Signet of Malice
Snare and overload a single enemy.
Assassin attack skills exemplify synergy to its utmost. For example, if you fill your Skill Bar with nothing but dual attacks, none of them would ever work. Assassin attacks depend on triggering them in a certain order. This does make them susceptible to failing miserably when encountering things like block and evade, so carefully watch to see what skills your target uses.
With this build, you surprise the target with a movement speed reduction Hex, then add Crippled on top of it in case the Hex gets removed. Also this form of Shadow Stepping has the advantage of not returning you to your original location if someone removes an Enchantment from you, as happens with Aura of Displacement. Of course, this leaves you more vulnerable to attack and slows your exit from the fray. But Dark Escape lets you run away from danger and Feign Neutrality gives you a fast way to recover Health while waiting for your attack skills to recharge.
Shadow Prison retains the Shadow Step and does not teleport you if removed. The lead attack, Black Mantis Thrust, has a bonus against Hexed foes, making them Crippled. Hopefully the combination of a Hex and Condition snare keeps your target close to you as you finish the attack chain. Fox Fangs has a good damage bonus, but you can also rely on it to set up your last attack (unless you become Blinded) because it cannot be blocked or evaded. If you get Blinded during your assault, look for a target with a Condition (possibly even your own target might still have Crippled on it) and hit Signet of Malice to remove the Condition. Your final attack, Twisting Fangs, applies two Conditions, making it easier to use Signet of Malice. One Condition you apply, Deep Wound, reduces healing effectiveness on your target. This means that you can continue striking with daggers and possibly take down your opponent as their healing ability lessens. Dark Escape and Feign Neutrality keep you alive as your attack skills and Hex recharge.
Anti-melee Hexes, Wards, Enchantments and Weapon Spells.
Fast Cast Monk
Healer's Boon [Elite]
Monk - Divine Favor - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. While you maintain this Enchantment, your next 10..30 Healing Prayers Spells cast 50% faster and heal for 50%% more Health.
Healing Prayers 12 (10+2)
Divine Favor 9 (8+1)
Protection Prayers 2
Inspiration Magic 12
Orison of Healing
Fast casting, high powered healing.
Healer's Boon takes normal Healing spells and pumps them up with more power and quicker activation. Combined with Channeling and fast-recharging spells, this makes for a solid healer good at mitigating raw damage. It does suffer from poor Hex and Condition removal, so it works best with another Monk. However, it has enough survivability to make it in other forms of PvP, such as Random Arenas.
The low Hex and Condition removal capability is compensated by the high healing power. The four Healing spells recharge fast enough that you can always cast at least one of them.
Even though Ethereal Light has the "easily interrupted" limitation (any direct weapon damage interrupts the cast), it becomes much stronger with a ½ second cast time from Healer's Boon. And Healing Touch, already powerful to begin with, becomes virtually uninterruptible. If under heavy attack, resort to Healing Touch for yourself. Save Dwayna's Kiss for a fast response to your allies in trouble and use Orison for maintenance healing (i.e., keeping yourself and your allies at high Health levels). Dismiss Condition has a faster recharge than Mend Ailment, making it the skill of choice for removing a Condition. And Inspired Hex returns useful Energy with Inspiration Magic at 12. Channeling covers Healer's Boon and helps balance the -1 Energy regeneration penalty.
Knockdown, Enchantment removal, Energy denial, anti-caster Hexes, Dazed.
Energy Surge [Elite]
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Spell
Spell. Target foe loses 3..8 Energy. For each point of Energy lost, that foe and all nearby foes take 10 damage.
Fast Casting 9
Domination Magic 14 (12+2)
Inspiration Magic 9
Signet of Weariness
Ether Feast/Signet of Humility
Mantra of Inscriptions
Energy denial and damage rolled into one.
This Mesmer works as an all-purpose shutdown character. Considering that just about every build uses Energy in one form or another, denying Energy works across many opponents. Even against a build that uses no Energy (an adrenaline Warrior for example), the Mesmer can still inflict damage. In fact, if an enemy target has an Energy surplus it helps fuel the damage inflicted by Energy Surge and Burn. This particular Mesmer also does well against Monks by using Shame to increase the Energy loss.
Mind Wrack has a fast recharge, so it can go on the same target once removed, or go on multiple targets. It covers other Hexes as well if you're working with other Hexing casters. Signet of Weariness amounts to a free cast, as it costs no Energy, and furthers the shutdown of your target. It even works in an area, so it has the added bonus of denying Energy from an entire group of enemies. Ultimately, if done right, a chain of Surge, Burn, and Weariness with Mind Wrack on a single target will do a lot of damage. The area damage from Energy Surge adds extra pressure for Monks to heal, causing them to use even more Energy and potentially to overheal. Shame not only denies Energy to Monks, but also returns Energy to you. Ether Feast does some light healing, helping keep this character self-sufficient while adding to the Energy denial. And Mantra of Inscriptions recharges your Signets faster. If working with good Monks and a strong defense, consider replacing Ether Feast with Signet of Humility. You can use this to disable elite skills from people who use their elites as Energy management.
Energy battery skills, knockdowns.
Burning Arrow [Elite]
Ranger - Marksmanship - Attack
Attack. If this attack hits, you strike for +10..30 damage and cause Burning for 1..5 seconds.
Expertise 12 (10+2)
Wilderness Survival 10
Marksmanship 14 (11+3)
Throw Dirt/Pin Down
Overload a single target with Health degeneration and spread Poison to other targets.
This Ranger inflicts a significant amount of pressure with rapid and sudden Health degeneration. Unlike Health degeneration Hexes, bow attacks aren't susceptible to interrupts. Plus, Apply Poison can remain active all the time, meaning that every single attack by this Ranger should be a threat. With Marksmanship at 14, Burning Arrow lights a target on fire for five seconds and has a respectable damage bonus. Follow up with Screaming Shot and the target is Poisoned, Burning, and Bleeding in a brief period of time. Tack on some Throw Dirt or Pin Down for shutting down enemy melee characters. Additionally, Troll Unguent and Whirling Defense counter a lot of attackers. While waiting for attack skills to recharge, this Ranger can tab through enemies and hit them with normal bows for extra Poison on multiple opponents.
This build has four skills that cause Conditions, making it hard to remove any single one. For example, if you use Pin Down on a Warrior, follow it with Screaming Shot to cover the Crippled with Bleeding. Favorable Winds makes your arrows harder to dodge. Troll Unguent cannot be removed once it is applied, making it a powerful self heal. Because of its long activation, however, it does suffer from the drawback of being easy to interrupt. Use Whirling Defense when activating Troll Unguent to reduce the likelihood that a physical interrupt such as Distracting Shot will hit you.
Blindness, anti-attacker Hexes, block/evade skills, line of sight obstructions.
Spirit Light Weapon
Spirit Light Weapon [Elite]
Ritualist - Restoration Magic - Weapon Spell
Weapon Spell. For 10 seconds, target ally gains 1..15 Health per second and an additional 1..15 Health per second if that ally is within earshot of a Spirit.
Spawning Power: 11
Restoration Magic: 16 (12+4)
Spirit Light Weapon
Mend Body and Soul
Augmented low-Energy cost healing with weapon spells and spirits.
Each spell on this Skill Bar has a bonus effect if certain circumstances apply. Even if the enemy starts taking out your Spirits, the weapon spell combination can heal in emergencies. So while stronger with living Spirits, the loss of all Spirits does not devastate the build. The different skills counter different circumstances, giving this Ritualist a multi-faceted approach to battle. It can heal others and itself equally well.
With Restoration Magic at 16, these skills heal for quite a bit. Spirit Light Weapon cannot be removed so you know you'll always get the full duration from it. Also it works better around Spirits, so Life should be recast with every recharge. Life has a 30 second recharge, less than most Spirits, so it is a natural choice to supplement skills that work better with Spirits around. Shadowsong helps defend Life against melee attackers, though with low Communing it primarily works as defense with repeated Blindness and doesn't really do much damage.
Ghostmirror Light has a potentially high healing return for the small Energy investment; look for situations where Health degeneration has started to affect the whole team and then heal yourself and someone else with one action. Put Spirit Light Weapon on yourself as you cast your Spirits in case you start to take damage. Its Health gain stays active even as you use other skills. It also counters Health degeneration fairly well, so use it on allies that have a steady Health loss and follow up with Wielder's Boon for extra healing. Mend Body and Soul has a ¾ second cast time, making it handy for fast responses to spikes, but it can also remove Conditions depending on how many living allied Spirits are nearby.
Spirit-destroying abilities, interrupts, knockdown.
Synergy, Covering, and You
Each of these builds has two or more skills in it that combine with each other to generate desired outcomes. Learning how these skills interact with each other opens one aspect of the PvP metagame. Skill synergy occurs in just about every build, working on both an individual and a team level.
The concept of covering Hexes, Conditions, and Enchantments also occupies a central role in much of PvP. Important Hexes should go on a target first, followed by less-important Hexes. The same principle applies to Enchantments and Conditions.
When you understand how covers work, as well as how one synergistic skill augments another, you have a better chance of making a build work. When you play against that same build, you'll also have a better idea of how to counter it.