Guild Wars
 






HomePage

ArenaNet

NCsoft



State of the Game— May 14, 2007

Melandru: God of GvG?

By Christian Brellisford

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.


Gods of Guild Wars

Five main gods represent different aspects of life to the people. Balthazar is the god of war, Grenth is the god of death, Dwayna is the god of life, Melandru represents nature, and Lyssa is the patron of mind and spirit.

The Dervish, introduced in Nightfall, is a spiritual disciple able to turn into living representations of each god. Using these Avatars, the Dervish has carved out a niche in the GvG world as a tough melee flag-stand character. Despite many other decent elite skills to choose from, the emerging standards for most Dervish Skill Bars are based on an Avatar.


The Avatars (Besides just Melandru)

Avatar of Grenth
Avatar of Grenth
Avatar of GrenthAvatar of Grenth [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Energy: 15
Activation: 2
Duration: 10..45
Recharge: 30
Form. For 10..45 seconds, whenever you use an attack Skill, you also remove 1 Enchantment from your target, and your attacks deal cold damage. This Skill is disabled for 120 seconds.

Avatar of Grenth
This was the most popular choice for Dervishes when Nightfall first came out. This Avatar readily countered the massive amount of Monk Enchantments and the popularity of Searing Flames (powered by Fire Attunement) at the time. Teams had to bring proper Condition removal, though, because Blinding this Avatar was top priority for most defenses. However, this elite skill became a casualty of its own popularity, and the design team decided to scale back its duration. They also boosted skills like Mirror of Disenchantment to give teams more options for removing problematic Enchantments (like Aegis and Attunements). Avatar of Grenth still has its utility but doesn't last as long anymore and is an immediate target for Blinds and snares.

Avatar of Balthazar
Avatar of Balthazar
Avatar of BalthazarAvatar of Balthazar [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Duration: 10..90
Recharge: 30
Form. For 10..90 seconds, you gain +40 armor, you move 33% faster, and your attacks deal holy damage. This Skill is disabled for 120 seconds.

Avatar of Balthazar
This underappreciated Avatar allows Dervishes to "tank" in front of their team, soaking up damage to maintain body blocks or obtaining quick kills on NPCs. The armor bonus on this Dervish makes it virtually impossible to kill while in Form (Monks usually have plenty of time to react) and the speed boost helps the Dervish catch fleeing enemies or escape from a dangerous situation. The holy damage is a nice bonus because it's harder to resist than elemental or slashing damage. However, as with all forms (other than Melandru), it's easy to Blind or Cripple this Dervish. When not using Melandru, teams usually bring plenty of melee support and are always aware of position.

Avatar of Dwayna
Avatar of Dwayna
Avatar of DwaynaAvatar of Dwayna [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Energy: 5
Activation: 2
Duration: 10..75
Recharge: 30
Form. For 10..75 seconds, whenever you use a Skill, you gain 15..60 Health and lose 1 Hex. This Skill is disabled for 120 seconds.

Avatar of Dwayna
If you ever need a solo Dervish (such as in a split), this would be a solid skill choice. It doesn't have the armor of Balthazar or the immunity to Conditions of Melandru, but it does have amazing self-healing capabilities and the ability to remove Hexes much faster than most characters in the game. A simple Stance, with immediate activation and usable even when knocked-down, can heal a Dwayna Dervish and instantly remove a Hex. Nothing else compares.

A lot of top guild teams run Water snares because they are harder for enemy teams to handle. The Hex snare is not a Condition and, in the case of Icy Shackles, can reduce a character's speed by 90%! This can be devastating for enemy flag runners or melee teams. However it poses no problem for the Avatar of Dwayna Dervish. Add a Monk secondary for Mending Touch and this Dervish can remove two Conditions and a Hex, while gaining Health, for a mere 5 Energy. Add a speed boost and a skill like Harrier's Grasp and you get yourself a pretty tough flag runner. However it doesn't have the Health bonus of Melandru or the armor bonus of Balthazar, so it doesn't seem to be as good in practice as in theory.

Avatar of Lyssa
Avatar of Lyssa
Avatar of LyssaAvatar of Lyssa [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Energy: 5
Activation: 2
Duration: 10..90
Recharge: 30
Form. For 10..90 seconds, you have +20 maximum Energy and your attacks deal +5..50 damage to foes activating Skills. This Skill is disabled for 120 seconds.

Avatar of Lyssa
Like a lot of the non-Melandru Avatars this one gets quite a bit of arena play time. The bonus damage on this elite skill is some of the highest in the game. Against Hex teams, or long casting characters like Elementalists, this can do massive amounts of damage. Melee characters also tend to spam skills, which makes Lyssa a decent choice for linebacking. The extra damage applied to melee characters often forces them to retreat. Unfortunately, for all its GvG popularity, the arena is really where this Avatar shines. So, most top teams still choose Melandru over Dwayna.

Avatar of Melandru
Avatar of Melandru
Avatar of MelandruAvatar of Melandru [Elite]
dervish/Mysticism - Form
Energy: 25
Activation: 2
Duration: 10..70
Recharge: 30
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.

Avatar of Melandru
If there was a god of Guild Battles, Melandru would be the best fit. It is currently so popular I could call it Avatar of GvG. In fact, top teams use this Avatar pretty much exclusively. Other Avatars just don't fill their needs or play style.

The nature of this elite allows Dervishes to penetrate deep into the enemy backline without worrying about getting spiked down, snared from Cripple, or nullified with Blindness. A team can send this Dervish in for over a minute using AoE scythe attacks to make backlines scatter, score big hits against low armored targets, and buy time for allies to execute a plan.

This Avatar also has synergy with Wearying Strike, the staple Dervish scythe attack. This attack causes Weakness to the user, which can greatly reduce the attack damage of a normal Dervish. But Melandru Avatars are immune to the Weakness so they can inflict AoE Deep Wound without penalty. This Avatar also works great with Disease; allies don't have to clean up a Melandru's Dervish when spreading Disease through enemy ranks.


Why Melandru?

Besides the reasons given above, Melandru is popular because it's easy to use, both for single players and team strategy. When in Form there is little to worry about, either for the Dervish or for the Monk trying to heal him. They are pretty self-sufficient characters even though Dervishes generally lack splitability. In flag stand battles, where there is so much going on, not having to worry about removing Conditions is a valuable asset to allied back lines. And the ability to safely push deep into an enemy backline with efficient and effective attack skills often turns battles very quickly.

Top teams, however, have adapted their game strategy to include the one big counter for Melandru's Dervishes: Hex snares. Teams often change up their flag runners just so the Water Elementalist has more time to snare Melandru Dervishes. When Dervishes can't reach their targets, they are highly inefficient attackers.


More than Melandru

Sometimes teams experiment or use a non-Form elite (specifically something other than Avatar of Melandru).

There are some decent arena builds using other elites, but the two main non-Form elites that see Guild Battle usage are Reaper's Sweep and Wounding Strike. The reason these get used, albeit rarely, is because of the ease of Deep Wound application. Wounding Strike in particular is quite good at applying Bleeding or Deep Wound Conditions through AoE scythe attacks. In addition, it doesn't cause the Weakness of Wearying Strike and is available on virtually every second attack. Reaper's Sweep is one of the higher damage scythe attacks and has the additional bonus of causing Deep Wound when the target is below 50%. It can be a deadly spike finishing skill. Applying this Condition during the spike can increase your chances of getting the kill.

Ebon Dust Aura has seen play in the past as a constant Blind source, but quickly lost its appeal when Blinding melee attackers was no longer such a dominant force in the metagame. In the endless dance between counter and counter-counter, Blindness simply yielded to Avatar of Melandru.

To conclude I will say that, at the moment, nothing seems to compare to Avatar of Melandru when using a Dervish in GvG. But with Hex snares and proper strategy, even this skill can be countered. So, in the future we are sure to see new metagame choices and a possibly even a new god of Guild Battles.


Christian Brellisford is a college student currently studying video game design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in hopes of pursuing a career in the field. A gamer since an early age, Christian has been involved with Guild Wars since the E3 for Everyone Event in 2004, and currently leads the Spirits of War guild.