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State of the Game—June 28, 2006

Advanced Ritualist Tactics

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.


The Ritualist is a unique and flexible profession that can benefit any team. By channeling Spirits from the Underworld, this profession can heal an ally's injuries or wreak havoc on enemies. Although some players shy away from this profession, claiming that it is too difficult to play, it's well worth taking another look at. Having a firm understanding of the Ritualist's attribute line and different Spirits, as well as how to use skills effectively, will give you the knowledge you need to play this flexible profession with confidence.


Channeling Magic

The Channeling attribute is all about direct damage. Most Channeling spells deal lightning damage, but there is a difference between lightning spells borne of the Channeling attribute and those from the Elementalist's Air attribute. Ritualist lightning spells do not have inherent armor penetration, and this is a significant fact because it can lower the damage a Ritualist deals to targets with higher armor.

  60AL 80AL 100AL
Spirit Rift 96 68 48
Spirit Boon Strike 82 58 41

The chart above outlines the damage that Channeling skills deal at Level 12. Because the damage steadily declines as a target's armor increases, Channeling spells look better on paper than they work in practice. This is often why GvG players avoid a straight Ritualist spikeā€”it is ineffective to hit casters over high-armor targets like Warriors.

Some Channeling spells also have conditions to meet in order to deal extra damage. Channeled Strike, for example, deals extra damage only if you are holding an item. Lamentation deals extra damage if the target is within a certain radius of a Spirit or corpse, but its regular damage amount is not reduced by armor.

The Channeling attribute also offers a pair of Energy management spells. Signet of Spirits, which is used much like the Monk's Blessed Signet, offers more Energy for every Spirit around you. These Spirits can be allies or enemies. Spirit Siphon can steal Energy from your Spirits if you are running low. Since Spirits have a maximum of 31 Energy, you can get a good return if you use Spirit Siphon at a high level.


Communing

Communing is the beating heart of the Ritualist class. Twelve of the sixteen Spirits available to the Ritualist spring from Communing. There are many combinations of Spirits, but the most commonly used Spirits in GvG combat include Shelter and Union.


Shelter
Binding Ritual. Create a level 1..10 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 60..30 Health. This Spirit lasts 30..60 seconds. (Attrib: Communing)

Union
Binding Ritual. Create a level 1..8 Spirit. Whenever a non-Spirit ally in its range takes damage, that damage is reduced by 15 and the Spirit takes 15 damage. This Spirit dies after 30..60 seconds. (Attrib: Communing)

The Shelter and Union Spirits are staples of team play, because they mitigate much of the team-wide damage. Shelter protects your entire group of allies against high damage spikes and allows the healers enough time to cast. Union can save healers Energy because it reduces all forms of damage by 15.

Shadowsong has also seen heavy use because of its Blinding ability. For the 30 seconds this Spirit is active, it can attack approximately 15 times and potentially Blind 15 targets. Many players use Shadowsong to defend their other Spirits, since an incoming Warrior cannot destroy Union or Shelter while suffering from Blindness.

Placement of Spirits is very important because of their inherent vulnerabilities. Ritualist Spirits have approximately two times the radar range of a player. Therefore, a Ritualist does not have to be in direct combat to boost his allies with Spirits. This configuration also means that enemies must cut through your allies to reach your Spirits, but spreading them out is still good practice because Elementalists can destroy them using high-damage AOE spells.

Another useful skill in the Communing line is Mighty Was Vorizun, which is considered by many as one of the Ritualist's best item spells. This spell increases your Energy and armor and can be kept in use almost the entire time you are in combat. It is also beneficial when used in combination with other spells that require you to hold an item, such as Channeled Strike.


Restoration Magic

Restoration Magic contains most of the Ritualist's defensive skills. While Communing helps absorb damage, Restoration Magic covers direct heals that support your team. Ritualist heals are not as efficient as Monk heals, but they can be just as effective. Many of these spells require that certain conditions be met in order to reap the maximum benefits. For example, Soothing Memories can heal slightly more than the Monk's Orison of Healing spell for the same Energy cost. However, if you are holding an item when you cast Soothing Memories, the skill practically pays for itself.

Restoration Magic has some very useful Weapon Spells, such as Weapon of Warding, which allows you to block attacks 50% of the time and also adds Health regeneration. Vengeful Weapon behaves similarly to the Monk's Reversal of Fortune, except your target takes damage instead. Imprudent enemies could theoretically kill themselves by attacking a target that has Vengeful Weapon in place. Lastly, Weapon of Shadows is easily the best anti-attack focus of any profession in the game.


Weapon of Shadow
Weapon Spell. For 4..10 seconds, target ally has a Weapon of Shadow. Whenever that ally is struck by an attack, that ally's attacker becomes Blinded for 3 seconds. (Attrib: Restoration Magic)

It is nearly impossible for a Ritualist to take on all the duties of the Monk, but some of the skills Restoration Magic offers can support GvG teams very well. They also work as support skills for split-team GvG.


Spawning Power

Spawning Power is the primary attribute line for the Ritualist. Increasing this attribute gives your Spirits 4% extra Health per level. This bonus also works for minions and Rangers' Spirits, but not for pets. The chart below shows how the Spawning attribute affects the Health of a level 7 Spirit of Pain.

Spawning Attribute Spirit of Pain Health
(Level 7)
0 190
2 200
4 209
6 219
8 228
10 238
12 248

This attribute contains one of the most commonly used Ritualist elite skills, Ritual Lord, which allows you to decrease the recharge time of your Spirits so that you can cast them more frequently. It is worth noting the difference between Soul Twisting and Ritual Lord. Many prefer Ritual Lord, but that skill and Soul Twisting serve different purposes. Ritual Lord allows you to churn out Spirits quicker than normal, meaning your Spirits recharge faster and you can be more liberal with placement and casting frequency. This type of casting is very difficult to specialize in, which is where Soul Twisting comes into play. Because Soul Twisting has an instant recharge, it allows you to keep ONE type of Spirit constantly in play rather than the generalized fast casting of Ritual Lord. If you are matched against a heavy spike team, using Soul Twisting to keep Shelter up longer may be more effective than using Ritual Lord to place many different Spirits.

Ritual Lord and Soul Twisting require you to manage your Energy effectively, because the rapid casting of Spirits can be a drain on your Energy bar. The most popular Energy management for a Ritualist is Boon of Creation. This Enchantment provides you with Health and Energy bonuses when you create Spirits, and also works on a Ritualist/Necromancer creating minions. Keep in mind that because Boon of Creation is an Enchantment spell, it is easily susceptible to removal.

Spirit Channeling is another useful Energy management spell. It restores a decent amount of Energy, and the Health drain it inflicts is easy to overcome. On the downside, it is an elite spell, and it can be difficult to cast in the heat of battle.

Overall, Spawning Power mainly benefits a Spirit-based Ritualist. If your Ritualist isn't using any Spirits, it is wisest to spend extra attribute points on other lines to enhance the skills you are concentrating on leveling up. The Ritualist is unique in this way, because the profession is not required to rely heavily on its primary attribute and could, in some cases, ignore it altogether and focus on Restoration or Channeling for a different type of specialized Ritualist.


Additional Ritualist Tips

  • A skill like Gaze From Beyond can add extra damage for your team while you maintain defensive Spirits like Union or Shelter. Use these types of spells in a support capacity.
  • Sometimes a spell, such as Consume Soul, can work on enemy Spirits as well as allied Spirits.
  • Weapon Spells do not stack and cannot be removed. The only way to counter a Weapon Spell is to interrupt the Ritualist casting it.
  • In-game items that can be picked up and dropped count toward the conditional effects of spells. For example, holding the flag in a Guild Battle will trigger the Energy gains of Soothing Memories. These items synergize with the Oracle PvP armor set.
  • Use Soul Twisting and other Spirit-destroying spells when a Spirit is near death to receive the maximum benefit from that Spirit.
  • Spirits are not spells, and their casting can only be stopped by knock downs or abilities that interrupt non-spell skills. Ritualist PvP items with the 20% faster casting and recharge will not affect Spirit casts.
  • Increasing your maximum Health increases the potential Health you can resurrect someone with when using Flesh of My Flesh.

The skills and attributes discussed above are just the beginning of building a strategy when playing a Ritualist. There are many roles you can fill by playing this profession, and while there are times when a Ritualist might not be needed, in many cases they can be a team's biggest asset. Ritualists have an enormous range and can deal damage or lower enemy damage from afar. Explore the different styles and possibilities intrinsic to this class, and look forward to the development of the Ritualist as Guild Wars expands and the metagame changes.


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.