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State of the Game – May 1, 2006

Introduction to Ritualists and Assassins

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.


One week ago, ArenaNet released the standalone sequel to the original Guild Wars Prophecies campaign, titled Guild Wars Factions. In addition to featuring an entirely new story experience and explorable continent, the game gives players two brand new character professions, the Ritualist and the Assassin. Each one is distinct, bringing new mechanics into every aspect of the game. What does this mean for current and prospective Guild Wars players? Read on and find out.

What is a Ritualist?

The Ritualist is by nature a versatile profession. Practitioners of this school can play a number of roles ranging from damage dealers (via the Channeling Magic attribute) to healers and support characters (through Restoration skills). They possess new spells to buff allies and can hold bundle items that can make the Ritualist more effective in combat. But the most unique weapon in the Ritualist's arsenal is the Binding Ritual used to summon a Spirit.

Wanderlust
Wanderlust
WanderlustWanderlust [Elite]
Ritualist - Communing Magic - Binding Ritual
Energy: 10
Activation: 5
Duration: 30..60
Recharge: 45
Binding Ritual. Create a level 1..8 Spirit. Whenever this Spirit's attack hits a stationary foe, that foe is knocked down and the Spirit loses 70..50 Health. This Spirit dies after 30..60 seconds. This Skill causes Exhaustion.

Ritualist Spirits are different than those conjured by Rangers. For starters, these minions are bound to the master's will and can attack enemies, defend allies, or soak up damage meant for teammates. They can even steal life from opponents and dole out Health to comrades—a useful skill against angry mobs and powerful bosses. One of the new elite skills that the Ritualist can use is Wanderlust. When this spirit attacks a stationary target (perhaps a casting Elementalist or sword-swinging Warrior) it will bowl its target over with ease.

In some ways, the Ritualist shares some commonality with the Ranger in that summoned spirits can function like traps. Before initiating combat, a resourceful player will lay down a front line of expendable defenders populated by a variety of spectral grunts. Some act like stationary turrets that attack with basic damage types or life steals. Spirits like Pain and Bloodsong deal minor damage, but when combined with the blinding power of Shadowsong and the interrupt abilities of Dissonance the Ritualist can really pile on the damage!

While in a support role, the Ritualist shares similarities with a healer or protector Monk. The Union Spirit absorbs damage for the entire party much like Shielding Hands does on a single ally. Displacement allows your team to evade enemy attacks, giving your team precious seconds to take down a high value target while free from injury.

Shelter
Shelter
ShelterShelter
Ritualist - Communing Magic - Binding Ritual
Energy: 25
Activation: 5
Duration: 30..60
Recharge: 45
Binding Ritual. Create a level 1..8 Spirit. Non-Spirit allies within its range cannot lose more than 10% maximum Health from a single attack. When this Spirit prevents damage, it loses 75..45 Health. This Spirit lasts 30..60 seconds.

Shelter is a great skill against enemies that inflict large amounts of damage with a single attack. Ritualists can use this spirit much in the same way that Monks use Protective Spirit.

Ritualists need to be smart about where and when they summon their ghostly servants. Because you cannot cast spells on them (unless specified otherwise) they are very vulnerable. Placement on the battlefield is crucial. Spirits have ample area of effect, making them effective in large alliance battles, but their damage dealing and healing abilities make them useful in other PvP combat as well.


What is an Assassin?

The Assassin is the other new profession in Guild Wars Factions. Technically a melee class, the Assassin possesses quite a few unique aspects that set it apart from its burlier Warrior cousin. For starters, Assassins have increased Energy regeneration which makes them more versatile. There are two key mechanics unique to followers of the deadly arts: chain combos and the Shadow Step ability.

The Assassin uses daggers as a primary weapon. The Dagger Mastery attribute fuels many skills that work in combination with each other. Lead attacks begin a chain of assaults, are followed by off-hand attacks, and are finished with the execution of a dual attack. These 1-2-3 punches can inflict Conditions, interrupt enemy attacks, or cause a variety of other effects that can take targets down quickly and brutally. Should a foe dodge or interrupt an Assassin's strike, it will break the attack chain and force the assailant to start the process over. Luckily, the Assassin has Hexes and spells at her disposal to counteract this. Coupled with rapid Energy regeneration, her skills can be used repeatedly in combat.

Aura of Displacement
Aura of Displacement
Aura of DisplacementAura of Displacement [Elite]
Assassin - No Attribute - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.25
Duration: upkeep
Recharge: 20
Enchantment Spell. When you cast Aura of Displacement, Shadow Step to target foe. When you stop maintaining Aura of Displacement you return to your original location.

The biggest difference between this profession and other Guild Wars classes is the ability to Shadow Step. Shadow Stepping is a form of teleportation used to quickly cover the battlefield, sometimes to random places, other times to specific target locations. It is an effective tool for attacking a series of opponents as well as fleeing a losing battle.

In large Alliance Battles, the Assassin might use its powerful skill combinations to take over a control point and then quickly teleport to another spot. In smaller battles, mobility can be a key factor in winning, and the Assassin uses Shadow Stepping to gain a mobility advantage over opponents. There is no doubt that the Assassin affects the PvP and PvE landscape of Guild Wars in profound ways.


What does this mean for Guild Wars?

With a bevy of new skills and profession combinations available, gamers can look forward to developing entirely new play styles for these versatile additions to the Guild Wars universe. Whether you're a PvE roleplayer or a hardcore PvP battle master, both the Ritualist and Assassin offer a wealth of options for longtime fans and newcomers alike.


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. You can find him in game under the name Saidin Writer.