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State of the Game—December 18, 2006

Positioning and Movement

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.


Positioning and movement of individual characters can mean the difference between breaking an enemy team and your own team falling apart. The overextension of one character can lead to an untimely demise, resulting in a temporary numbers imbalance and time wasted resurrecting the fallen character. In cases where two teams are otherwise equal, such a transient advantage often translates into a more permanent advantage, such as a morale boost. The following tips attempt to explain how to maximize individual and team positioning.

Ground as a resource – A failure to understand and execute this concept can lead to lost matches and a decline on the GvG ladder. When you control a lot of ground in a GvG match, you gain the ability to manipulate and constrict enemy movement. For example, if you start dying in the enemy base, make the enemy take the lengthiest route possible to chase you out; this grants your fallen party members time to resurrect at the shrine so that the enemy does not outnumber you once they reach your base.

If you control the flag stand and the time for a morale boost is approaching, push forward so you can delay, damage, and block their flag runner as long as possible. The longer you can hinder and delay the runner, the better your chance of gaining the morale boost. In fact, if you never stall the enemy runner, your own runner could fall behind in the flag running race, meaning less time supporting you at the flag stand with healing and other skills, and more time spent shuttling a flag back and forth. Many matches come to a pivotal point when one side's flag runner can afford to stay at the flag stand longer and force a numbers advantage.

Staying alive is your own responsibility – Lots of people play as if their Monks are limitless wells of healing. This is a mistake. The Monks are there to save you from spikes and to give you greater margins, but ultimately the responsibility to stay alive falls on your shoulders. If you constantly position yourself in a way that allows the enemy team to unload tons of damage on you, your Monks will eventually run out of Energy and your whole team will crumble. When targeted by serious damage or when the enemy team begins to collapse on you, you must fall back, away from the source of the damage and towards your nearest safe haven, which is usually your Monk backline. Keep moving until the enemy switches targets and until your Health is at a level where you can't be easily spiked. Observe enemy movement and try to figure out how you can do your job most effectively while at the same time preventing them from spiking you. For instance, as a caster, you can sometimes use your spells while hiding behind a wall or around a corner.

"Ctrl" key for scouting – Holding the "Ctrl" key will reveal enemies at a slightly farther range than those indicated by your compass. Any time you are actively scouting to see what the enemy is up to, or trying to sneak past unseen, holding this key is useful. If you are a split character trying to avoid detection as you go around the back way, use the "Ctrl" key as a buffer. When you see a name pop up, you can steer away from it before you appear on that enemy's compass.

Searing Flames
Searing Flames
Searing FlamesSearing Flames [Elite]
Elementalist - Fire Magic - Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Recharge: 2
Spell. Target foe and all nearby foes are struck with Searing Flames. Foes already on fire when this Skill is cast are struck for 10..100 fire damage. Foes not already on fire begin Burning for 1..5 seconds.

Area Effects – When faced with AoE attacks like Searing Flames or Disease, it is important to spread out to minimize their effect. Don't spread farther than you need to, though, as time spent moving is time spent not attacking, and if you spread too much it's easy to overextend.

NPCs – They provide useful extra damage. If the enemy team seems overly eager to push on you, see if they'll fight where you have the advantage of NPCs helping out, even if you're at full strength. However, only do so when you won't be sacrificing a morale boost or similar important resource, and you're confident you can take the ground back should you need to capture the flag stand. Do everything you can to heal these NPCs when fighting near them. The longer they stay alive the more they can help you.


Role-specific tips

Melee attacker – Obviously, your job is usually to be in the front lines, beating on low-armor targets. It is normal for Warriors to occasionally overstretch in order to perform a spike, but if you're facing a build with a strong spike, you must be mindful of this and not overstretch for more than a few seconds at a time. Of course, if you've already killed one or more of the enemy team's damage characters you can take more liberties when overstretching.

Another important tip for melee characters is to avoid chasing on autopilot. If all your movement is simply chasing by pressing spacebar, a smart target will quickly figure it out and make your life miserable by running you into blocks of his or her allies, and through Wards.

Ranged attacker – When every attacker on a team suddenly moves in one direction, it's obvious they're planning to kill whatever is in that direction. In order to mask your spikes, try to get in range of the target well before it's time to unleash, so the enemy Monks don't pick up on it as easily.

Lightning Orb
Lightning Orb
Lightning OrbLightning Orb
Elementalist - Air Magic - Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 2
Recharge: 5
Spell. Send out a lightning Orb that strikes target foe for 10..100 lightning damage if it hits. This Spell has 25% armor penetration.

If you are using projectile-based damage for spiking, such as Lightning Orb or a bow, try to anticipate where your target might be able to quickly hide from your line of sight, and position yourself accordingly before the spike.

Interrupter – If you are a spell-based interrupter, you need to operate at a range of around ¾ of your maximum spell range. Because interrupts are so time-sensitive, you need that buffer for moments when your target backs up a few steps and then starts to cast. If your target decides to hide way back in the backline, forcing you to overextend, pick another target and keep an eye on your original target. Usually a caster realizes this position means only your frontline melee characters are in casting range, so he or she will often creep back into your interrupting range.

As a projectile based interrupter, whether you use arrows or spear, you may find yourself forced to play very near the front lines. Smart enemies will dodge arrows and hide behind cover when possible, forcing you to either temporarily switch targets, or position yourself very close to them in order to reduce the travel time of your projectiles.

Ward Against Melee
Ward Against Melee
Ward Against MeleeWard Against Melee
Elementalist - Earth Magic - Ward Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 8..20
Recharge: 20
Ward Spell. You create a Ward Against Melee at your current location. For 8..20 seconds, non-Spirit allies in this area have a 50% chance to block melee attacks.

Midline defense – A character with defensive Shouts, Chants, or Wards should pay close attention to where the Monks want to be. You should place yourself somewhere in the middle of the team, and then figure out where the Monks will benefit most from your position. For example, if you are using Ward Against Melee, try to cast it in a narrow space where the enemy Warriors can't simply run around the Ward.

Monks – You are the backbone of the team, and should keep well back most of the time, but stay alert and ready to move forward if one of your teammates overextends. The two most important things to keep in mind pertaining to position and movement are melee and projectiles. When targeted by a melee character, run back in order to coax him into overextending, so he can be easily spiked. Be careful when doing this, though, because if you run too far, your frontline could get outside your healing range and thus more easily killed. If you are in a place where it's impossible or undesirable to back up, such as in front of your gate on a catapult map, kite in circles for maximum effect. As a Monk/Assassin with Return on your Skill Bar, kite straight away from the ally you intend to cast Return on and then cast it when you reach maximum range.

When faced with projectile attacks, do the "arrow dance." This means to rapidly click on the ground near you in different directions, leading the enemy projectiles to miss you, as their accuracy is calculated by their target's direction and movement speed at the time the projectile is fired. Whenever possible, hide behind houses and hills that will block the line of sight for projectile attackers.

Assassin – The Assassin isn't a DPS (damage-per-second) character; it's a melee-range spike character. Your job is to move in, unleash your combo, and quickly get out of range again. Usually, you will be a split character without Monk support. It is important for an Assassin to consider enemy NPC aggro range. If an enemy player comes to stop you from killing an NPC, lure that player out of the NPC's range and fight in a one-on-one situation.

Party-wide healer – Usually, you'll also be the flag runner. It's important that you stay well out of range of enemy interrupters when casting your Heal Party or Light of Deliverance.

Flag Runner – If you have a bit of death penalty, it's often better to let a high-armor character, usually a Warrior, run the flag to the stand after you fetch it from the base. When you switch the flag, meet the Warrior back behind your Monk backline, so there aren't any enemies nearby who can return your flag as you drop it for the Warrior.

Split defense – As a character sent home to defend against a split, consider that split enemies are usually designed to fight in a 1v1 or 2v2 situation, while you usually are not. Also, remember that your job is to keep the NPCs alive; killing the enemy is only a bonus. If you aren't sure you can take on the split, stay inside the aggro range of your NPCs, forcing the enemy to fight outnumbered if they want to fight. If you can make the enemy retreat, try to kill his Guild Thief. This will prevent him from entering your base until it respawns. And, if possible, kill the Guild Thief right after a two minute resurrection point.


Special situations

Flag block – When you're holding the flag stand and the enemy doesn't have much time to capture it before you gain a morale boost, first and foremost you should push forward and snare the runner as described earlier in the article. When the runner gets close to the flag stand, form a wall to block access. This can also be done when the enemy tries to repair the Trebuchet outside your base.

Trebuchet block – If you control the center when Victory or Death comes around, place two high-armor targets, usually Warriors or Paragons, next to each other in the opening the NPCs will use. Keep Protective Spirit on them both constantly, while you fire the Trebuchet. The enemy NPCs will stop in the courtyard to attack your blockers, and the Trebuchet will kill them all.

When it comes to movement, as with everything else, always strive to figure out the optimal way to reach your goal. It's hard to get good feedback on movement and position, so it's important to think about it actively. Bad positioning and movement are often the reason for unexplained failures like a split dying or failing to kill their target, or the team suddenly starting to take tons of damage. When this happens, try watching your game on Observer Mode afterwards, and then discuss effective positioning.


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 former clan, The Fianna, with success. He is currently a free agent.