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State of the Game— February 26, 2007

From PvE to PvP

By Adam Sunstrom

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.


The Guild Wars community is deeply polarized around PvP and PvE. Very few players dedicate a lot of energy to both, and fewer yet are successful at both. One reason is the difficulty in learning PvP when you're accustomed to PvE; the two sides of the game are designed differently. There's a huge hurdle here. Someone who has learned the game while leveling up to 20 has a lot to unlearn to have a chance at playing PvP at a high level. It causes a lot of players to miss out on the beautiful PvP system which, to my mind, is the shining feature of the game.

In this article I'll try to point out the most common mistakes PvE players make when trying PvP, as well as basic concepts a lot of beginner players don't immediately grasp. Hopefully this article will help experienced PvPers as well, in that they can post a link to it when they don't want to explain why Mending isn't a good way to stay alive.

First, some concepts to internalize if you hope to succeed in competition:

1) Versatility in teams, not in characters
In PvE you can't always count on your allies to cover your back, so it's understandable when you bring some defensive skills even if you are a damage dealer. In PvP, if you can't count on your teammates, then you can't hope to win at all. Make sure your character focuses on what it's best at, rather than spreading too thin.

If you are a Monk, don't cast Fire Magic spells. You have the Divine Favor primary attribute, so your healing spells are inherently more effective than anyone else's. Use your Energy for that and leave the Fire Magic to the Elementalists.

The exception is the split character. If you're running a character designed to split off on its own to run flags or kill NPCs in the enemy base, it is perfectly fine to bring several self-sustaining skills.

2) There is no tanking against players
In the same vein, don't run Shield Stance or Dolyak Signet on your Warrior. A PvP Warrior needs to focus on dealing damage, because opponents merely ignore defensive Warriors and go after softer targets. If you do enough damage, you accomplish two goals: 1) you force the opposition to pay attention to you, drawing fire away from weaker allies; and, 2) you kill enemies before they kill your allies. A Healing Signet or Signet of Malice to lighten the load of your Monks isn't a bad thing, but don't try to be a tank. Alone against several skilled opponents, you won't accomplish anything. As a Warrior, your ability to keep your teammates from dying is very limited. Focus on killing opponents before your teammates die and let Monks, Paragons, and Ritualists handle defense.

3) Resurrecting isn't a Monk job
Though most resurrection skills are Monk skills, they're not best used on a Monk. If your Monk begins to cast something that takes six seconds to complete, the enemy team has a huge window to bring all of their damage to bear while one of your Monks is rendered completely useless. Expect a good team to get at least one kill in such a window. It is better to bring several Resurrection Signets on damage dealers and one rechargeable resurrection skill ("hard rez") on a midline character like an Elementalist or Paragon.


Skills

The following are some skills I see constantly in Hero Battles and Random Arenas, almost always on the losing team. Most of them are useful in PvE, but they just don't work as well against human opponents.

Mending
Mending
MendingMending
Monk - Healing Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Duration: upkeep
Recharge: 0
Enchantment Spell. While you maintain this Enchantment, target ally gains +1..4 Health regeneration.
Mending – Hailed by many PvErs as the most useful skill in the game, it provides a constant, accessible, and fairly cheap source of healing. However, it has no place in PvP competition, and is actually a long-standing joke in the PvP community. Skilled players try to kill in one of two ways—either by spiking you out or pressuring you down. A spike is designed to kill a character in a fraction of a second, during which Mending offers little help. When faced with a spike build, Monks need Energy for skills like Infuse Health and Protective Spirit. Running Mending reduces the Energy available for other healing. Pressure damage is similar to how monsters try to kill you in PvE, but in PvP it's far more versatile, pinpointed, and coordinated. A good pressure team carries Enchantment removals, Energy denial, and similar things. To counter this, you need truly Energy-efficient spells like Heal Party, Aegis, Reversal of Fortune, and Shield of Absorption.
 
Healing Breeze
Healing Breeze
Healing BreezeHealing Breeze
Monk - Healing Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 10
Recharge: 2
Enchantment Spell. For 10 seconds, target ally gains +3..9 Health regeneration.
Healing Breeze – This one returns quite a bit of Health for the Energy investment, but it suffers from one of Mending's problems: it requires ten seconds to have its full effect. Though seemingly less efficient by comparison, Monks need spells that replenish Health immediately. A strong team can overcome the Health regeneration of Healing Breeze and kill a character in a few seconds, not to mention remove the Enchantment and destroy its efficiency altogether. Healing Breeze isn't useless though, as it can sometimes be effective in split situations against fewer enemy players.
 
Remove Hex
Remove Hex
Remove HexRemove Hex
Monk - No Attribute - Spell
Energy: 5
Activation: 1
Recharge: 8
Spell. Remove a Hex from target ally.
Remove Hex – A popular and straightforward spell, but never used in top level play. The reason is the two-second cast time, during which a spike team can easily drop one of your allies. A better choice is Holy Veil, which has a shorter activation time, the added benefit of pre-casting, and potentially immediate Hex removal. It takes a bit more player skill and hand speed because you have to quit maintaining it right after you cast if you want to remove a Hex, but it's easily worth the work.
 
Rebirth
Rebirth
RebirthRebirth
Monk - Protection Prayers - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 5
Recharge: 0
Spell. Resurrect target party member. Target party member is returned to life with 25% Health and zero Energy, and is teleported to your current location. All of target's skills are disabled for 10..3 seconds. This Spell consumes all of your remaining Energy.
Rebirth – Useful in PvE for resurrecting allies and pulling them out of monster aggro range, but useless in PvP. Players aren't dumb; they will see you casting a resurrection spell and pounce on you right away. Rebirth is probably the worst resurrection spell you could bring in PvP. The best replacement is usually Resurrection Chant, as the full Health leaves the revived character much harder to kill immediately. Combine with Glyph of Sacrifice for interruption immunity.
 
Heal Area
Heal Area
Heal AreaHeal Area
Monk - Healing Prayers - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Recharge: 5
Spell. Heal yourself and all adjacent creatures for 30..180 points.
Heal Area – This skill attracts a lot of new players because it produces big healing numbers. However, large numbers don't matter if you can't get close enough to help your allies. The most effective way of staying alive in PvP when targeted is to move away from the source of damage, rather than standing still and trying to heal through it. While the second approach is sometimes necessary, you should avoid it if possible as it quickly drains your Monks of Energy. Heal Area also has the negative side-effect of healing enemy characters in range.
 
Illusionary Weaponry
Illusionary Weaponry
Illusionary WeaponryIllusionary Weaponry [Elite]
Mesmer - Illusion Magic - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Duration: 30
Recharge: 25
Enchantment Spell. For 30 seconds, you deal no damage in melee, but whenever you attack in melee, target foe takes 8..40 damage.
Illusionary Weaponry – While not a completely useless skill, it is mediocre at best yet very popular amongst beginners. Even though it cuts through blocking skills, armor, Blindness, and anti-melee Hexes, it is susceptible to simple counters such as Enchantment removal. Also, the damage it produces is far less than a Warrior's, and placing a Mesmer in the front lines is like waving a steak under a dog's nose. Mesmers are much more effective positioned in the midline with ranged spells and thus not exposed to immediate attack.
 
Animate Flesh Golem
Animate Flesh Golem
Animate Flesh GolemAnimate Flesh Golem [Elite]
Necromancer - Death Magic - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 3
Recharge: 30
Spell. Exploit nearest corpse to animate a level 3..25 Flesh Golem. The Flesh Golem leaves an exploitable corpse. You can have only one Flesh Golem at a time.
Animate Flesh Golem – A good tank in PvE, but tanking only works against AI opponents. Players ignore the Flesh Golem and kill your Monks instead, making you wish you had brought an elite skill that could deal more damage. One such elite skill for a minion-based Necromancer is Jagged Bones, which has excellent synergy with bone minions. Make sure your team has a lot of damage before you choose to use a minion master on your PvP team though, because corpses aren't nearly as abundant as in PvE.
 

Disclaimer

Eventually parts of this article may become outdated with new balance changes. Remember that the best way to learn about the game is to observe top GvG games, and see what the highest level teams are currently running. Good luck making the transition from killing monsters to killing people.


Adam Sunstrom has been playing Guild Wars since February 2004 when he joined the Alpha test, and has been interested in the competitive aspects of the game from the beginning. In the early Beta Weekend Events, he led his team, The Fianna, with success. He summarily rejects all of Doji's article suggestions.