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State of the Game—April 1, 2008

Midline Shutdown
Part Three: Midline Coordination

By Mark Yu

Special note: Each State of the Game 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.


Previous articles in this series have discussed individual Ranger and Mesmer responsibilities in midline shutdown. However, in an actual GvG, with an eight person team, these professions rarely work alone. The midline of a good team works together, much like the frontline pair does. This article covers the communication needed for efficient midline synergy. Throughout a match, the midline's communication should focus mostly on targets, skill shutdown, and team status.


Targeting Communication

‘Targeting communication’ is identifying to your team which opposing player you're shutting down. Even though it is typically undesirable for you to camp on one target, calling out that target gives your teammates enough information to find another target to shut down. For example, if Diversion is a problem for your backline, you can have your Ranger temporarily reserve Distracting Shot to take care of it. And if your Mesmer is on that target, then he or she can swap targets while your Ranger takes care of any other skills the opposing Mesmer tries to use.

Diversion
Diversion
DiversionDiversion
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 3
Duration: 6
Recharge: 12
Hex Spell. For 6 seconds, the next time target foe uses a skill, that skill takes an additional 10..56 seconds to recharge.
Distracting Shot
Distracting Shot
Distracting ShotDistracting Shot
Ranger - Expertise - Attack
Energy: 5
Activation: 0.5
Recharge: 10
Attack. If Distracting Shot hits, it interrupts target foe's action but deals only 1..16 damage. If the interrupted action was a skill, that skill is disabled for an additional 20 seconds.

In the current metagame, a Blinding Surge Elementalist is a popular build. Knowing whether that character is running Hex Breaker or Mantra of Concentration (or both) determines whether it’s your Mesmer or your Ranger who shuts it down. In another situation, you might be attempting to capture the flag stand. If the opposing team has multiple snares, such as from a water Elementalist and Cripshot Ranger, you can coordinate your shutdown for those two targets. Your Ranger can call a target on the opposing Ranger and attempt to shut down Cripshot with Dshot. In the meantime, your Mesmer shuts down the Elementalist. As a result, your midline is more efficient because it doesn't waste two interrupts on one target.

Blinding Surge
Blinding Surge
Blinding SurgeBlinding Surge [Elite]
Elementalist - Air Magic - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.75
Recharge: 4
Spell. Target foe is struck for 5..50 lightning damage and Blinded for 2..8 seconds. If that foe is under the effects of an Enchantment, all adjacent foes are also Blinded for 2..8 seconds. This Spell has 25% armor penetration.
Crippling Shot
Crippling Shot
Crippling ShotCrippling Shot [Elite]
Ranger - Marksmanship - Attack
Energy: 10
Activation: 0
Recharge: 1
Attack. If Crippling Shot hits, your target becomes Crippled for 1..8 seconds. This attack cannot be blocked.

You can also use this tactic when pushing a backline, and assign one shutdown character to each Monk. When playing defensively, use the same concept and allocate your midline toward shutting down the opposing offense. A Ranger getting Dshot on Diversion or a Mesmer shutting down snares can make a vital difference in retreats.


Skill Shutdown

Glyph of Lesser Energy
Glyph of Lesser Energy
Glyph of Lesser EnergyGlyph of Lesser Energy
Elementalist - Energy Storage - Glyph
Energy: 5
Activation: 1
Duration: 15
Recharge: 30
Glyph. For the next 15 seconds, your next 2 Spells cost 10..18 less Energy to cast.

‘Skill shutdown’ is the coordinated shutdown of individual skills. Aegis is a very common example. Most teams in the current metagame carry at least two copies and, when active, it greatly reduces your team's pressure output, and even prevents Rangers from interrupting consistently. As such, it is usually a prime target for disruption or shutdown. A typical method of coordinating Aegis shutdown is to spot and call the use of Glyphs. While the use of Glyphs is usually a good sign that the caster has an important spell coming, Monks often use Glyph of Lesser Energy before casting Aegis. Calling out a Glyph helps the midline determine who can shutdown the Aegis if the enemy tries to cast it. Once your team has disrupted the Aegis, note which enemy cast it. This does two things for you. First, you have a better idea of who will cast the next Aegis; second, you know approximately when the disrupted target will try to use Aegis again. In fact, you may implement this for any skill you're trying to keep shut down.

Coordinating skill shutdown is very important when playing against hex teams. Skills such as Migraine, Reckless Haste, Price of Failure, and Signet of Humility are all midline, priority interrupts. If you know when one of these skills was interrupted, you can countdown its recharge cycle. Because interrupted spells do not trigger weapon-assisted, faster spell recharging, knowing the time of a spell's interruption can be very useful and contribute to precisely timed disruption.


Status Update

Typically, the midline's goal is to work on the opposing team until your team can break them. Keep your teammates updated periodically about the condition of the other side from your point of view. Your Ranger and Mesmer often have a good view of the field and are usually shifting through multiple targets. Because they are also responsible for shutdown, these characters are usually the first to know when the other team would fall if pushed. If your midline shuts down a key series of skills, they must inform the rest of the team about it. Otherwise that shutdown was useless. Diverting a Blinding Surge or Restore Condition is only useful if your frontline can capitalize on the window of opportunity, so be sure that your team can hear you clearly.

Energy Burn
Energy Burn
Energy BurnEnergy Burn
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Recharge: 20
Spell. Target foe loses 3..8 Energy and takes 10 damage for each point of Energy lost.

Also, make sure your offense acknowledges when you have accomplished an important task and reacts appropriately. Here are two clear examples of information that the team needs to know: one, your Ranger notices that poison is beginning to stick and targets are getting healed at a slower rate; two, your Mesmer gauges that a Monk has low Energy by watching Power Leaks or Energy Burns. When these situations occur, your backline and frontline can play more offensively and will score more kills when they do.

If players on your midline are acting independently, they may be inefficient and overlap their shutdown targets or interrupts. Properly coordinating the shutdown between your midline players has a tremendous effect upon the success of your offense as well as defense. While it may seem simple for your midline players to learn how to be vocal during the game, they may not be as accustomed to playing with each other as you might have initially believed. If this is the case, it will take time and experience to play effectively with a midline partner and avoid clutter in your team's voice communication.

The examples provided in this series of articles are based on the common midline shutdown characters of Mesmer and Ranger. Not all teams use such a template, and you should adapt your build and play style accordingly. For example, some teams do not run a Blinding Surge Elementalist for their third midline character, but instead choose a Paragon or something else. In such cases, you should know how to alter your play style, if necessary, by recognizing what skills must be shutdown and who should do which jobs.


Mark Yu is a core member of Delta Formation [DF] and has been playing Guild Wars competitively since early 2006. He is currently a senior in college studying biology and enjoys bubble tea. He can be reached in game as Y U E, or by private message through the [QQ] website.