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State of the Game—May 10, 2006

Some Factions-Based Pressure

By Michael Thompson

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.


With the release of Factions, many people expected a big shake-up of the Guild vs. Guild (GvG) metagame. For now, the effect on current builds appears to be minimal. Part of the reason behind this could be the new Guild Scrimmage feature (which is hours of fun if you haven't tried it yet). Guild Scrimmage allows guilds to test out new skill combinations and even entire builds before doing rated games, especially critical so close to the end of the season. It will be intriguing to see what new ideas develop once the next season is underway.

One of the more popular builds from last season—still very much in use today—is the Dual Surge Pressure build. However, this is a Prophecies build and thus not easily accessible to those who own only the Factions campaign. It is also a build that will likely see some changes once the new skills have been fully tested.

With this in mind, this article will be looking at a slightly modified version of this build that makes use of some of the new Factions skills. Since Factions is a stand-alone game, some of the characters in this build are designed using skills only available to players who own only Factions.

The format of this build is a simple line-up:

W/A W/E Me/Rt Me/Mo Ele/Mo Ele/Mo Mo/Me Mo/Me

The Warrior/Assassin is a Sword Warrior with Death's Charge and uses only Factions and core skills.

Death's Charge
Death's Charge
Death's ChargeDeath's Charge
Assassin - Shadow Arts - Spell
Energy: 5
Activation: 0.25
Recharge: 30
Spell. Shadow Step to target foe. If that foe has more Health than you, you are healed for 40..130.

Warrior/Assassin

  • Silverwing Slash (Swordsmanship)
  • Quivering Blade [Elite] (Swordsmanship)
  • Final Thrust (Swordsmanship)
  • Sprint (Strength)
  • Healing Signet (Tactics)
  • Frenzy (Warrior other)
  • Death's Charge (Shadow Arts)
  • Resurrection Signet

Although the familiar combination of Sever Artery and Gash are available as core skills, this Warrior uses Silverwing Slash and the elite Quivering Blade, choosing high damage over Conditions. Death's Charge from the Assassin line is very effective at surprising a Monk and is best used once your three adrenaline attack skills are fully charged. It doesn't require any points in Shadow Arts to use, and still provides a small amount of healing if the right conditions are met. However, with a recharge of 45 seconds, its best used wisely.

The Warrior/Elementalist is a commonly used Hammer Warrior with Shock and uses Prophecies only skills.

Irresistible Blow
Irresistible Blow
Irresistible Blow Irresistible Blow
Warrior - Hammer Mastery - Attack
Energy: 5
Activation: 0
Recharge: 6
Attack. If this attack hits, you strike for +5..20 damage. If Irresistible Blow is blocked, your target is knocked down and takes 5..20 damage.

Warrior/Elementalist

  • Backbreaker [Elite] (Hammer Mastery)
  • Crushing Blow (Hammer Mastery)
  • Irresistible Blow (Hammer Mastery)
  • Healing Signet (Tactics)
  • Sprint (Strength)
  • Frenzy (Warrior other)
  • Shock (Air Magic)
  • Resurrection Signet

This Warrior is all about damage and knockdowns. Backbreaker provides a four-second knockdown and added damage. This allows enough time to follow up with Crushing Blow and Irresistible Blow, both very powerful skills. With most Monks using Guardian in today's metagame, Irresistible Blow becomes very effective due to its ability to hit straight through blocking and evasion and provides the added knockdown when blocked. Shock in this build provides yet another knockdown for when your adrenaline is low but has the high penalty of Exhaustion. Considering this build uses four Energy skills, Shock is best used sparingly.

The Mesmer/Ritualist in this build uses Domination skills to pressure casters and uses Factions and Core skills.

Arcane Languor
Arcane Languor
Arcane LanguorArcane Languor [Elite]
Mesmer - Fast Casting - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Duration: 1..10
Recharge: 15
Hex Spell. For 1..10 seconds, all Spells cast by target foe cause Exhaustion.

Feedback
Feedback
FeedbackFeedback
Mesmer - Inspiration Magic - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 2
Recharge: 30
Spell. Target foe loses one Enchantment. If an Enchantment is removed in this way, that foe also loses 4..10 Energy.

Mesmer/Ritualist

  • Arcane Languor [Elite] (Fast Casting)
  • Diversion (Domination Magic)
  • Energy Burn (Domination Magic)
  • Cry of Frustration (Domination Magic)
  • Energy Tap (Inspiration Magic)
  • Feedback (Inspiration Magic)
  • Drain Enchantment (Inspiration Magic)
  • Flesh of my Flesh (Restoration Magic)

The common pressure build today uses Energy Surge to provide Energy-denial pressure, and although this skill is a core skill, this Mesmer provides its pressure slightly differently. Arcane Languor and Diversion together create casting penalties and force the caster to either wait out the Hex or suffer the penalty. These become even more harmful when covered by other Hexes to prevent removal.

Another option, for those confident with their interrupting abilities, is to replace Arcane Languor with the elite skill Power Leech (Inspiration Magic). If used successfully, it Hexes the target for ten seconds and steals Energy from that character whenever he casts a spell.

Feedback is another skill that is very useful against the common Protection Monk. If used to remove Mantra of Recall, it reduces the overall Energy gain from that skill and together with Energy Tap and Energy Burn provides some Energy-denial pressure.

The Mesmer/Monk in this build uses Health degeneration to create pressure and uses Factions and Core skills.

Images of Remorse
Images of Remorse
Images of RemorseImages of Remorse
Mesmer - Illusion Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 5
Activation: 2
Duration: 5..10
Recharge: 5
Hex Spell. For 5..10 seconds, target foe suffers -1..3 Health degeneration. If that foe was attacking, that foe takes 10..52 damage.

Unnatural Signet
Unnatural Signet
Unnatural SignetUnnatural Signet
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Signet
Activation: 1
Recharge: 40
Signet. Target foe takes 15..75 damage. If that foe was a summoned creature, this Signet does double damage and recharges instantly.

Mesmer/Monk

  • Conjure Phantasm (Illusion Magic)
  • Images of Remorse (Illusion Magic)
  • Diversion (Domination Magic)
  • Energy Drain [Elite] (Inspiration Magic)
  • Unnatural Signet (Domination Magic)
  • Revealed Hex (Inspiration Magic)
  • Mantra of Persistence (Inspiration Magic)
  • Resurrection Signet

This character's main job is to spread Health degeneration around with both Conjure Phantasm and Images of Remorse. With short recharges, these two Hexes can be spread around the enemy team very rapidly. With Mantra of Persistence, it can create -8 Health degeneration for up to 14 seconds on a single target.

Unnatural Signet is included to take out enemy Spirits at no cost; however, this can be replaced with Convert Hexes (Protection Payers) to provide additional Hex removal for the team. Energy Drain provides some more Energy-denial pressure and together with Revealed Hex is used for Energy management.

The first Elementalist/Monk is a commonly used Heal Party flagger and uses Prophecies skills.

Ether Prodigy
Ether Prodigy
Ether ProdigyEther Prodigy [Elite]
Elementalist - Energy Storage - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 5
Activation: 1
Duration: 5..20
Recharge: 5
Enchantment Spell. Lose all Enchantments. For 5..20 seconds, you gain +6 Energy regeneration. When Ether Prodigy ends, you lose 3 Health for each point of Energy you have. This Spell causes Exhaustion.

Elementalist/Monk

  • Lightning Orb (Air Magic)
  • Lightning Strike (Air Magic)
  • Blinding Flash (Air Magic)
  • Ice Prison (Water Magic)
  • Smite Hex (Smiting Prayers)
  • Heal Party (Healing Prayers)
  • Windborne Speed (Air Magic)
  • Ether Prodigy [Elite] (Energy Storage)

Ether Prodigy is the key to this build and is probably the best Energy management skill for Elementalists at the moment. Windborne Speed is used for a speed boost when running flags while Heal Party is used to help the overall healing. Blinding Flash and Ice Prison are used to counter Warriors, Rangers and Assassins as well as to slow down enemy flaggers.

The second Elementalist/Monk is a slightly modified version of the common Water Elementalist and uses both Factions and Prophecies skills.

Extinguish
Extinguish
ExtinguishExtinguish
Monk - Protection Prayers - Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Recharge: 12
Spell. Remove one Condition from each party member. Party members relieved of Burning are healed for 10..100 Health.

Elementalist/Monk

  • Deep Freeze (Water Magic)
  • Shard Storm (Water Magic)
  • Ice Spikes (Water Magic)
  • Ward Against Melee (Earth Magic)
  • Extinguish (Protection Prayers)
  • Aegis (Protection Prayers)
  • Ether Prodigy [Elite] (Energy Storage)
  • Resurrection Signet

This Elementalist also uses Ether Prodigy for Energy management and uses Water Hexes for snaring and damage. The Water Hexes are also excellent as covers for the Mesmer Hexes in this build. Ward Against Melee and Aegis are used for anti-Warrior support and Extinguish provides party-wide Condition removal.

Extinguish is an excellent skill and is sort of the non-elite equivalent of Martyr. In the case of Extinguish, only one Condition per party member is removed, but the Conditions don't transfer to you. The added Healing bonus is especially useful on the Burning Isle.

The two Monks in this build are two typical Monk/Mesmer Divine Boon Protectors, however, the first uses Prophecies-only skills while the second is a Factions- and core-only variant.

Monk/Mesmer

  • Protective Spirit (Protection Prayers)
  • Mend Condition (Protection Prayers)
  • Guardian (Protection Prayers)
  • Reversal of Fortune (Protection Prayers)
  • Inspired Hex (Inspiration Magic)
  • Contemplation of Purity (Divine Favor)
  • Divine Boon (Divine Favor)
  • Mantra of Recall [Elite] (Inspiration Magic)

Monk/Mesmer

  • Protective Spirit (Protection Prayers)
  • Mend Ailment (Protection Prayers)
  • Guardian (Protection Prayers)
  • Reversal of Fortune (Protection Prayers)
  • Revealed Hex (Inspiration Magic)
  • Holy Veil (Monk other)
  • Divine Boon (Divine Favor)
  • Energy Drain [Elite] (Inspiration Magic)

There are many different variants of the Boon Protector, and these are just two examples. The Factions/core Monk uses Energy Drain for Energy management, as Mantra of Recall is a Prophecies-only skill. Revealed Hex is the Factions variant of Inspired Hex and is included here for extra Energy management and some Hex removal. Protective Sprit, Reversal of Fortune and Guardian are used to mitigate damage while Mend Condition/Mend Ailment is used for Condition removal.

Since Factions is also a stand-alone game, one of the problems that guilds could encounter is the fact that some players may have only one of the two current campaigns. When creating builds, teams will need to take this into account and accommodate those players who do not have access to both skill sets. This build is one example of how this could be achieved. There are many additional possibilities, and it will be exciting to see what new ideas players will put together using all the new skills from Factions!


Michael Thompson is a twenty-three-year-old gamer who originally hails from South Africa and is now living in the UK. A proud member of The Amazon Basin guild, Michael enjoys both the PvE and PvP aspects of Guild Wars. His favorite classes are the Warrior and Necromancer, and he admits to being "pretty rubbish at playing a Monk." Michael's in-game name is Mickey of the Basin.