State of the Game—January 29, 2007
Touring the Guild Halls: Examining tactical quirks of each GvG battlefield
By Harold J. Chow
Special note: Each State of the Game article 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 State of the Game 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.
It has happened to many new guilds—they put some wins under their belt but then, suddenly, bump into strange maps and start taking losses. Not from a lack of skill, necessarily, but perhaps from a lack of knowledge about the unfamiliar terrain or assorted quirks of these maps. Talking to the Canthan Ambassador [Guild Halls] NPC in the Great Temple of Balthazar does help to get a basic orientation for each map, but many map features only become active during an actual Guild Battle.
To see active aspects of your own guild hall, you can simply set up a scrimmage with at least one other person. This will allow you to see all NPC locations, flag spawn points, gate levers, and any item spawn points. To get comfortable with other guild halls will just take time playing on those maps. However, below we will give you some points to consider and tricks you can use as you move into unfamiliar terrain.
The Guild Thief
On maps that feature a Guild Thief, she follows whichever party member clicks on her and grants access to the opponent's base by operating the gate levers outside. However, the Guild Thief only resurrects at the team's resurrection shrine, so killing the enemy thief just after a base resurrect denies her expert lock-picking services for up to two minutes.
When retreating on these maps, look for the enemy Guild Thief. If you don't see her, consider leaving your gates closed, even if it means stranding an ally outside the base and taking a death. Keeping the opponent locked out provides the opportunity to regroup and plan the next move.
Likewise, if an opposing player mistakenly brings a thief into your base, try to kill that player out of range of the gate levers and the NPCs. With their Guild Thief alive and locked in your base, the other team cannot access your base until VoD unless you open the gate. Note that you can employ a similar tactic if your opponent brings its flag into your base on these maps.
Monk - Protection Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. For 5..23 seconds, target ally cannot lose more than 10% max Health due to damage from a single attack or Spell.
Warrior's Isle, Hunter's Isle, and Wizard's Isle all feature a trebuchet on a hill above both bases, plus repair kits players can use to repair either trebuchet. Once repaired, loading and firing the trebuchet causes a usually fatal volley of elemental damage in a random area within the courtyard of the base the trebuchet overlooks. Trebuchets damage friend and foe alike, and can destroy a team's NPCs in one fell swoop when they march out at VoD. Repairing the trebuchet in front of the enemy base and keeping someone close by threatening to launch the barrage can also discourage the opposing flag runner from using the front gate. At VoD, some teams place a Warrior at the opponent's front gate to lure the NPCs into stoping and attacking long enough for a trebuchet blast to eliminate them. With a Protective Spirit, this Warrior can stand in the blast area without risking instant death. Skills such as Dark Escape and Shelter also help players survive a siege attack.
Teams typically have one person bring the nearest Repair Kit into their own base for safekeeping at the start of the game. Likewise, stealing and safeguarding the opponent's kit prevents a siege at VoD. Some teams body-block the path up to the trebuchet to prevent the enemy from repairing or firing it. Even if the enemy repairs the trebuchet, it takes them six seconds to load it and another seven seconds after firing for the siege attack to land, so preemptively firing the Trebuchet before the NPCs enter the courtyard could allow your NPCs enough time to escape.
Elementalist - Air Magic - Spell
Spell. Knock down target foe for 2 seconds. This Spell causes Exhaustion. (50% failure chance with Air Magic 4 or less.)
Aptly so, icy ground covers the Frozen Isle. A player who stops on the ice moves 70% slower for five seconds. Since the effect always wears out naturally and nothing can remove it, knocking the opponent's flag runner down on the ice could secure a morale boost.
Arriving first at the flag stand on Nomad's Isle forces the opposition to fight in quicksand, where they move 15% slower and lose one Energy whenever they attack or use a skill. When stuck fighting in the quicksand, consider using the teleporters on the map to sneak a split squad into the opponent's base.
Druid's Isle, a popular map for split builds, features a vine seed. Dropping the vine seed on the glowing green circle outside of a base creates a vine bridge into the back entrance. Dropping it anywhere else, however, causes vines to sprout up out of the ground and knock down adjacent enemies for three seconds, after which the vines revert back into a vine seed. Two people can body-block a vine bridge completely, buying time for a retreat or assault.
Isle of the Dead
A giant lake of tar surrounds the flag stand on the Isle of the Dead. Because tar slows movement by 30%, losing the battle over the flag stand makes it difficult for a team's flag runner to recapture the stand in time to prevent an enemy morale boost. Some popular tactics for this map include shifting the fight away from the tar to isolate the flag runners, or fighting beneath the bridges that span the tar and positioning casters on the bridges, where they can move around without the speed reduction. A player standing on the inner edge of one bridge can cast a spell on someone standing directly opposite on the inner edge of the other bridge.
Avatar of Melandru
Avatar of Melandru [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Form. For 10..70 seconds, you have +100 Health, you are unaffected by Conditions, and your attacks deal earth damage. This Skill is disabled for 120 seconds.
The lava on Burning Isle makes movement slow and hazardous by inducing Crippled and Burning Conditions. Avatar of Melandru Dervishes can speed up flag running on this map as well as attack enemies crossing the lava pits.
In addition, Lesser Flame Sentinels, hostile to both teams, guard the shorter, lava-filled route between the two bases. Although they die to Health degeneration around the 15:00 mark by themselves, teams wanting to split earlier can send a Ranger with Poison and a flat bow to eliminate the Sentinels without getting in range of their attacks. Protective Spirit helps defend against them as well.
Isle of Weeping Stone
When fighting on the Isle of Weeping Stone, watch out for spore clouds that appear sporadically at certain points on the battlefield. These herald the arrival of the stone spore effect on players standing in the clouds. This hazard combines Blurred Vision and Dazed into one unremovable package that lasts ten seconds. Many find the clouds difficult to notice at first, but those experienced with this map remember where the spores appear and position themselves so the enemy must stand in them or retreat.
Isle of Meditation
Isle of Meditation has two different flag stands to capture. The Tower Flag Stand on the lower path controls the morale boosts. The Obelisk Flag Stand on the upper path, when captured, causes the statues lining the lower path to shoot fireballs at the other team. While the damage seems negligible at first, it adds a lot of pressure over time, especially at VoD when the NPCs march out. Some teams position Rangers or casters at the top stand to prevent captures because they can still affect the action below. The path to the upper stand, however, hosts miasma, which causes temporary but un-removable Health degeneration that spreads like Disease.
Flags on the Imperial Isle spawn outside the bases in a narrow acid-trapped corridor. When a player stands in or moves through the acid, it deals 20 earth damage per second, which also ignores armor. Thus, some teams like to send someone out to slow the runner down in the acid and quickly finish that player off with the extra damage. Runners should prepare for this maneuver by getting to the flag quickly and staying out of casting range of any opponent trying to hunt them down in the acid trap. Monks can move in below and heal runners walking along the outer edge of the acid corridor.
Isle of Jade
Notorious for its unfriendliness toward split tactics, the Isle of Jade features a side path covered with spiked coral that slows movement and does damage to moving characters. However, this path provides quicker access to the flag stand and access to the side entrance of each base. Guilds with speed boosts can beat their opponents to the stand by taking this path, and position themselves to attack damaged opponents who also took the coral path.
A wide open area separates the two bases on the Uncharted Isle. From this area, paths branch off from one side to the flag stand and, on the opposite side, lead to a narrow path connecting the back doors of each base. The rear path lies far enough away that a split team can elude Compass detection from the players out front. The path to the flag stand stretches teams out as well, increasing the need for effective communication.
Ranger - Marksmanship - Attack
Attack. If Pin Down hits, your target is Crippled for 3..15 seconds.
At the rear of the map a short distance connects the two bases. Split squads can capitalize on unprepared teams and quickly eliminate the NPCs stationed there and even deeper inside the base. Proper positioning on this path during infiltration allows players to avoid Pin Down attacks from Archers. In the front area, teams can capture the flag stand and force a Morale Boost by body-blocking the narrow route to the flag stand and preventing a recapture.
Isle of Wurms
A Health shrine with Alliance Battle-style capture methods dominates a southern path between the side gates of the two bases. The Guild Thief counts as a party member for the purpose of capturing this shrine. The additional 120 maximum Health bestowed to every member of the shrine's controlling team makes combat difficult for spike builds. At VoD, a few Archers stay inside the walled area of the flag stand while others form up on lower ground south of the stand. Thus, players can shield themselves from Archer attacks by taking cover below the walls.
Isle of Solitude
Despite an open central battlefield, Isle of Solitude gives split teams an advantage. One-way teleporters in each base provide quick access to the enemy's side gate, which lies out of Compass range of the flag stand area. If you infiltrate the enemy base, the teleporters offer a handy escape route should the enemy return to deal with you. Of course, this leaves the Guild Thief alone and vulnerable at the back gate. Constricted passageways behind each back door make body-blocking easy, so plan retreats carefully. The narrow path around and into the flag stand area favors those with good body-blocking techniques. The walls around the flag stand make it easy for flag runners to get trapped. To address this danger, runners should hug the walls so their Monks can heal them from the other side.
Tips for all Isles
In general, watch terrain and look for advantages. All maps have Archers, but you can usually find cover from their attacks. Also, conveniently narrow pathways form natural chokepoints are useful for body-blocking opposing flag runners or separating extended individuals from Monks. Positional awareness and other factors, such as the locations of the items characters interact with, can make the difference in close games. Be Mindful of the game clock, resurrection times, and distance from the resurrection shrine as you implement your team's strategy. While Guild Battles still depend heavily on personnel and builds, advance knowledge of the terrain leads to informed tactical decisions and better preparation in response to your opponent's next move.
Harold J. Chow is a freelance Guild Wars reporter. His in-game name is Guild Informant.