It has come to my attention that the Thief needs some serious loving. As a potential remedy to this, a few cohorts of mine sat down and punched out some preliminary findings in terms of class deficiency, and it seemed like an appropriate topic for the blog. While reading this, I would like you to cross reference what was written with what class you play, and ask yourself if there is any room for improvement in the imbalance department. ANet can't fix the problem if they don't know what's wrong. I hope you enjoyed the tournament play i posted, and I also hope you take something useful away from this redesign.
Currently the only source of condition removal and real stealth Thieves have is Hide in Shadows. The problem is that this skill does not remove crowd control effects. Other classes have condition removal such as 10 second automatic removal passives for rangers, debuff removal for Mesmers, multiple condition removal skills including “Shake it Off” as well as a heal/condition removal for Warriors, Guardians have even more, Engineers have elixirs, Necromancers have group condition removal that isn’t their designated heal (which also removes conditions), and Elementalists have many.
Thieves are strictly limited to using Hide in Shadows for condition removal. I’ll give you the average combat scenario with Hide in Shadows:
1.) Conditions put on you via on hit effects, someone uses one of many immobilize effects
2.) You enter stealth, heal goes up, conditions off
3.) You’re still immobilized, and they know that, so they keep attacking you, applying more conditions and negating most of the benefits of your heal. It might as well not be a stealth
Because of this, most Thieves have defaulted to Withdrawal for the evade and heal on a 50% lower cool down, effectively making stealth and condition removal nonexistent. I’m aware that Shadow Refuge is technically a stealth, but the skill is extremely under powered as a whole, and I will touch on that later in the article.
1.) Currently, traps have little to no use in PvP. The trap mechanic in the context of Guild Wars 2, forces you to use them in a defensive way. If you use a trap offensively and it misses, you’re already down one cooldown before the fight starts. Traps need to be replaced with skills that have an active impact on fast engagements, as professions in Guild Wars 2 are much more mobile than they were in Guild Wars.
2.) Am I saying defensive cooldowns are useless? No, they’re absolutely necessary. Am I saying traps are marginally less effective than they were in Guild Wars 1? Yes. There was a basic and undeniable boost in mobility from GW1 to GW2. There are separate levels of elevation and various routes of access to all of the maps that are currently in place/being tested, and traps are wasted cooldowns entirely.
Proposed Changes in Class Mechanics
F1: Crack Armor: Apply several stacks of vulnerability to the target, applies 10 seconds of protection to self. This helps with our survivability, and enables us to weaken a single target, making them more vulnerable to our attacks. Which is what the thief is all about.
F2: Steal Weapon: Daze the target for 2 seconds. Applies Might or Fury to self and grants a class specific item just like current
steal. This allows us a control option, as well as the random item. Only usable in melee range.
F3: Shadow Recluse: Enter stealth for 10 seconds when not in combat, 3 when in combat. This would grant the element of surprise when out of combat, but ensure that it isn't too powerful during combat. Allows for adequate positioning and proficient gap closing without the target just waiting for you to Shadowstep to put you in the ground.
F4: Shadowstep: Teleport to Target. Shadowstep would be removed from steal, and would be its own class mechanic, allowing room for a decision making process before, during, and after the Shadowstep itself.
Flaws and Proposed Skill Fixes Pertaining to Mechanic Changes
- Shadow refuge heals for effectively nothing, (200 or so per second in the AoE)
- Gives enemies a small designated area to AoE
- Doesn’t break channeled spells once you enter it
- If it’s used offensively, everyone takes a few steps back and wait a few seconds for it to go away. (That’s being generous; they would really just run past you.) The skill is
Suggestion: Provide a signet that grants some form of condition removal, as well as adding condition removal to withdrawal and/or immobilize removal on Hide in Shadows. The reason I’m suggesting adding both, is because there is not a single class, Thieves aside, that do not have a condition removal spell outside of their heal.
Cool down: 15 —> 20 Seconds
My only suggestion for Withdraw will remain adding bleed/burn removal. If it’s added, consider bumping the cooldown up to 20 seconds.
Hide in Shadows:
Cooldown: Same = 30 Seconds
Add Immobilization removal.
Utility Skill Changes
Cooldown: From 60 —> 50 Seconds
Upon entering Shadow Refuge, become stealthed. Shadow Refuge will pulse 5 times, once every 1.5 seconds. Every other pulse will remove a condition and heal for 200, starting with the SECOND pulse. Upon leaving Shadow Refuge, remain stealthed for 5 seconds, but receive no pulse benefits.
Explanation: Giving people a reason to stay AND a reason to leave, presents decision, not choice. Thought provoking and mechanically sound is what we’re aiming for. “If I stay, I’m fairly safe. If I leave, I might be able to do enough damage to kill him.”
Cooldown: Same 30 Seconds
You throw a wire around your opponent’s legs, tripping them to the ground for 2 seconds. Upon standing, the enemy gains swiftness for 3 seconds.
Explanation: One thing Guild Wars 1 did better than any other MMO, was give good skills drawbacks to make you think. ANet is a smart company, and is in the business of presenting decisions. Introduce a little complexity, in contrast with the current F1 Doubletap meta.
Cooldown: From 45—> 120 Seconds
Calls in a fellow Thief on top of your target, causing you to Shadow Step back 15 feet.
Explanation: Sticking with the “traps are not for GW2” theme, these are some suggestions with what I feel to be appropriate balance, having played the Thief extensively through all of the prior Beta Weekends, Stress Tests, and now Alpha.
Cooldown: From 30—> 40 Seconds
Throws a blinding dust cloud on top of your enemy, teleporting you to the other side of the cloud, and blinding your enemy for 3 seconds, causing you to stealth.
Explanation: Traps are wasted skills, and creating relevant abilities from the ashes will introduce new interactions, some foreseen, some not. Decisions become present here.
Needle Trap Replacement Suggestion: Signet of Death:
Cooldown: 125 Seconds
Passive: Removes a condition every 10 seconds, starting when the caster has a 2nd condition placed on him/her.
Active: Resets all class mechanic abilites F1-F4. Signet of Death's passive is inactive during cooldown.
Explanation: This gives Thieves passive condition removal, but gives us the option to sacrifice it for a long period of time if we want our class mechanics back faster. It prompts the decision of control, or survivability, and if you take control, you lose your survivability for a lengthy period of time.
Build of the Week! (Elementalist) : "Jack of all Trades"
20 Fire Magic
20% chance to cause burning when attacked with melee
Deal 10% more damage when attuned to fire
Damage at your location when attuning to fire
All your fire weapon skills recharge 20% faster
20 Air Magic
Move 10% faster while attuned to air
Move faster the longer you are attuned to air
Strike your target with a bolt of lightning when attuning to air
Deal 10% more damage while attuned to air
10 Earth Magic
Gain extra armor while attuned to earth
Deal 5% more when within melee range of your target
10 Water Magic
Regenerate health while attuned to water
Remove a condition from yourself and your allies when you attune to water
10 Arcane Magic
Attunement bonuses linger for 5 seconds
Do not rely on condition builds to carry your team to victory. They will be fixed, and the "spammy" feeling of conditions will transitively be gone. Leave any comments, questions or concerns in the comment section below, as I would love to ascertain some perspective from outside sources on class balance. That's about it for this beta weekend. I wish you the best of luck in your future warring of guilds, and as always, fight for the user.
The Price of Progress #8: One is the Loneliest Number
Welcome to the Price of Progress, an ancient textual series, soon to be vlog, detailing the intricacies of Guild Wars 2 structured PvP, all of the newest builds, and Guild Wars 2 news sprinkled in as needed. In today’s edition, I’ll be covering class synergy and what it means to play off of each other in terms of team skill dynamics. Heavy stuff right? It’s really not. I promise. That being said, I hope you guys enjoy the new simplistic discussion based format I've been tooling with, and as always feedback is heavily encouraged. Let’s go!
Our questions to be answered today will include:
What does it mean to be synergistic?
Why is the “LETS 1v1 DAWG” not an accurate measuring stick for skill in Guild Wars 2?
What classes benefit the most from having a supporting cast?
In the MMO genre, class synergy typically comes from a variety of skills coming together to form a cohesive relationship on a targets face. An example would be a Warrior Immobilizing the target, allowing a guardian to get an easy ranged Burn and Teleport off, and when completing the teleport, dropping a projectile reflecting shield on the immobilized enemy, making for a relatively safe window of damage for both of our vicious vikings.
Using less complex examples, skills that bleed and a slow, AoE poison and burn, etc., all allow for opportunities to capitalize on a targets poor cooldown usage or generally naughty disposition. With a lack of condition removal, these basic and easy to execute synergies can send a player packing very quickly, allowing an early victory chant and subsequent feast.
In past MMO’s
1v1ing has been a great source of information in terms of cooldown usage, general skill timing in reference to your opponent, and waving it in their face when they got stomped. But is this as accurate a yard stick as it was in say, Aion? Or World of Warcraft? I’ll elaborate.
In previous MMO’s the objective was always to kill. There was no “Conquest mode” per say, and even if there was, like Battlegrounds in World of Warcraft, the games central system of balance was tailored to an Arena style of PvP, and not the casual, albeit insanely addictive, massive team raid formats.
So where does this leave us in terms of Guild Wars 2? One thing is for certain, Same class 1v1’s will always be viable to attain a better understanding of one’s class, but further building on this, balance and synergy should be looked at in pairs of two or three, for example, a Thief and Elementalist. I won’t go into exactsies, as I’m just the catalyst. You have to crunch the numbers.
What Classes Benefit the Most from having a supporting cast?
We’ve seen in past beta videos that we have classes that can hold their own in 1v1 scenarios by slowly whittling down their opponents, whilst surviving at a pretty comfortable amount of health, but not necessarily optimizing their damage by being alone in a fight. Take for example the Necromancer, Mesmer, Thief, and Engineer classes.
All of the aforementioned have the obvious capability of doing damage, otherwise they wouldn’t be viable. But putting the pushing and CC power of your Necro behind a Warrior, accumulating absurd amounts of bleed, and throwing an Elementalist/Ranger into the mix to really pack a punch, would round out a 3-2 split very nicely, with the remaining 2 players consisting of your Thief and Ele/Ranger gank squad.
Build of the Week
This week’s build of the week is my newest iteration of the “Support Thief”, in which I replace our previous creation’s Shadow Refuge skill with Blinding Powder, allowing itself to be used offensively without space restriction, meaning I’m not limited to a set point in space for trying to force the increased damage out of stealth buff that we used to get from our prior focus on the Shadow Arts tree.
Our new state of mind gives us the following:
Poison on steal
Damage on steal
Swiftness on Evade
Dodging removes Cripple and Chill effects
Returned endurance on dodge
10s of regen and remove damaging DoTs at 75% health. 45 Second CD.
Increases damage by 10% when endurance not full
Gain 2 Initiative every 10 seconds
Stealing gives you 3 initiative
Leave Caltrops behind on dodge
Increases max initiative by 3
On steal gain protection and regen for 5/10 seconds respectively
Damage +2% for each point of initiative
+4 initiative on using a healing skill
I’ll leave the majority of conversation regarding implementation and changes from last beta to all of you, with careful consideration to not monopolizing the thought process and allowing you to deduce for yourself what is viable about this build and what is not. I will leave you with this: There is a reason that it is a Thief, and not an Assassin. On that note, have fun Etch-a-sketching, and as always, fight for the user.
GW2guru forum discussion covering this blog:
Guild Wars 2 Official Release Date Announced!
Typically in a written setting, an opening paragraph will appear to give the links following it some context and solidified meaning. This is not one of those settings. With the 6/27 stress test behind us, and a comfortably numb demeanor about the game's delay setting in to reduce the magnitude of late release anxiety attacks, the A(net)-bomb was dropped this morning by Mike O'Brien, the President of ArenaNet, announcing the official release date for Guild Wars 2.
Given the project's monolithic nature and glorious purpose, ArenaNet opted to completely shrug off any and all constraints pertaining to an official release date until now. Some predicted September, late October, maybe even a Thanksgiving release due to the apparent amount of unfinished content that was presented in the Open Beta Weekends, but August? You can officially, with a royal seal of the queen, slap my backside and call my skippy, because I did not see that coming.
Every indicator leading up to the official release date, the unfinished Asuran and Sylvari classes in Closed Beta, the unspoiled and untouched bonus PvP maps, and ArenaNet's general attitude about shrugging off any unnecessary project restraints that would inhibit the games development, led just about everyone to believe that the game would truly "Be finished when it's finished" with very few exceptions.
Brain splitting shock aside, Mike also announced with the release date the date of the final Beta Weekend preceding the games subsequent 3 day head start, July 20-22. Somehow, anticipation just doesn't quite cover it. Will ArenaNet meet the almost insurmountable challenges ahead of them, breaking convention entirely in the MMO genre? Will they be able to polish a game that is both tailored to the casual weekend warrior and eSports fanatic alike? And moreover, who will take Guild Wars 2 under it's wing as the second competitive MMO in the history of eSports since World of Warcraft? MLG? IPL? ESEA?
In a giant cloud of uncertainty, one thing is apparent: The communities of both casual and competitive gaming have been united, and they are currently backing Guild Wars 2 development entirely. Has this ever truly happened in an MMO in the past? Be honest with yourself. MMO's in the past have tilted to one side or the other, sacrificing content and letting the grease drip into the competitive side, while trying to make it look like intuitive content was produced for both. But crashing the traditional corporate feel of MMO development into the ground entirely and creating a free form dynamic environment molded to the players decisions, whilst implementing the desired provisions required for success in a standalone tournament scene? Pinch me.
I could go on for days, but I'll allow all of this information to wash over the masses as we take a single massive step towards the release of what is sure to be one of the greatest pieces of game development ever seen. Keep your pants on for the time being, until release that is, and as always, fight for the user.
The Price of Progress #6: Knowing What We Don't
While you may say that the next closest resemblance to Guild Wars 2 PvP in terms of agility and interface would be World of Warcraft, we also have to take into account the mindset that you have going into a WoW arena. "I need to outplay my opponent, via kiting and communication, but the ultimate goal is to kill." Where as in Guild Wars 2, it rings more of a, "I need to outplay my opponent, but I can do this by avoiding confrontation entirely, until absolutely necessary." Here in lies my concern with using WoW as a training program for potential Guild Wars 2 competitors. I'm not saying it lacks value in any way, as you are still learning basic mechanics and ultimately muscle memorizing the correct keys, while becoming more comfortable with a smooth sweeping camera. That being said, I believe carrying the idea of parallel objectives and a subsequent mindset when finding a suitable practice game, is just as important as memorizing the physical aspects.
I will keep this week's post short, but I want to first share a topic that I posted in the Guild Wars 2 section of the forums in order to better aid the progression of particular courses of practice pertaining to the game in question. I believe this message will remain true throughout any game that will potentially be seen as competitive, and perhaps might penetrate the membrane of virtual space into the real world, allowing us to further our interest in particular endeavors, whilst keeping a steady framed mind that we've acquired through other activities in the past.
So, someone recently asked me what would be a good way to prepare for GW2 structured PvP, and in so many words this is what I told them:
LoL has a completely different feel due to not utilizing WASD to move, Bloodline Champions is similar but i can't really measure how much faster my reaction time gets per session, and transitively how that translates to GW2. WoW arena is very similar in feel, but the problem is its an Arena, whereas GW2 is a completely different playstyle. I feel like diving into WoW arena again would translate to me feeling like I would have to treat GW2 like arena, when in all reality I'm running from people for half of the game. Whatever game you choose to play should ultimately result in a complete lack of bad habit forming activities, and work towards a universal purpose, like reaction time.
If i were forced to pick one, I would pick blc because it doesnt form bad habits, and I'm developing a universal skill. If i had to give an answer that I felt was correct, I would say a balance of all 3 games is required. The passive-aggressive laning attitude you have to carry when you play league, the reaction time and execution of BLC, and the real MMO pvp style of WoW.
For this reason I'll be mixing all 3 of the previously mentioned in order to prepare for Guild Wars 2 PvP. Please give me your thoughts and what you will be doing to prepare for release, and I hope to hear from all of you. On that note, I'm off to play some more SMITE (add me: vVvRinzler), and as always, fight for the user.
The Price of Progress #5 : The Evolution of the Thief
First and foremost, I would like to apologize for the day late post, as I was feeling the funk this past day and could not gather the motivation to sit down and pour my ideas out into cyberspace. Regardless, I hope all of you had a wonderful competitive and casual experience in the latest Guild Wars 2 Beta, and it was a pleasure playing with the masses. That being said, the cloud has lifted and I'm looking forward to the next few paragraphs of depth seeking build deconstruction at its finest, in order to determine the aesthetics of our future "Nautilus" like build. The League is set, and off we go!
Pre Beta #1 Speculation
Pre Beta #1 Speculation
Post Beta #2 Speculation: With the second Guild Wars 2 in the past and the major kinks worked out in the newly revised trait system, it has come to my attention that the source of a Thief's damage can come from multiple places, with the replacement for Deadly Arts becoming the condition damage focused, but not entirely constricted to, Trickery tree. Because of this drastic change in traits and tiered skill selection, the amount of possible weapon combinations for the Thief has reached new heights, and viability across multiple platforms of ranged and melee weapons are now possible due to the lack of completely conditional traits in a given grouping. Let's move on to the all new traits!
Psst.. Still with me?
Pre Beta #1 Speculation:
Post Beta #1 Speculation:
Beta Weekend #2 Speculation: Fixing the tiered trait selection and respective bugs following this flawed system of selecting passive buffet, caused the entire metagame to be corrected in a very real and tangible way. One of the side effects of this massive revitalization to the system was the viability of alternate damage trees, as opposed to being drowned in a trough of swine food for not going 30/10/10/10/10. In order to take aim and even the iron sights on our ultimate goal of achieving maximum streamline and ultimately Ezio Auditore status, let's delve into the major behind the scenes overhaul that this new B2 build offers, and discover what new dynamics are knocking at the door of viability.
NOTE: THIEVES GUILD SHOULD BE DAGGERSTORM, THE AI ON THIEVES GUILD WAS BROKEN WHEN USING PISTOLS AS OF BW2.
The "Take Initiative" Build : http://gw2.luna-atra...u8p8u9m9njpjrjv
20 in Critical Strikes
Critical strike chance increased by 5% when over 90% health
Fury for 10 seconds when you reach 50% health
Critical Strikes have a 10% chance to restore 1 initiative (1sec cd)
50% crit chance when in stealth
20 in Acrobatics
Swiftness gained on dodge
Gain Might whenever you dodge
Dodging returns roughly 20% of endurance used on the dodge
Gain 2 Initiative every 10 seconds
30 in Trickery
Stealing gives you 3 initiative
Leave behind caltrops when you dodge
Increases maximum initiative by 3
When you steal, you and allies gain fury, might and swiftness
Increases damage by 2% per initiative
You recieve 4 initiave from using a healing skill
I'm not even sure that I have to delve into the differences and advantages of the Trickery tree vs the Deadly Arts spec. Trickery gives us an unconditional pool of damage that is free form between both sets of our weapons, P/P and D/D, and it allows us to regenerate that saved up initiative instantaneously between the 4 per heal skill and 2 per 10 seconds. The change from Vanishing Stealth to Withdrawal allows us a 15 second cooldown to fuel our initiative regeneration engine, as well as giving us an awesome transition into pistols. This damage has no strings attached to it, and passively increases our sneaky bleeds and vulnerability debuffs respectively with the condition damage caused by being in the Trickery tree itself.
Executing the "CC and Move" mentality in our build
Pre Beta #1 Speculation:
Post Beta #1 Speculation:
Post Beta #2 Speculation: This builds execution is going to require a whole new dynamic, which could be broadly labeled as finesse, in the form of our pistol switching to D/D and vice versa at key points in a fight. Aside from some familiarity issues with the new play style, i would like to think i displayed this idea in some amount of clarity. The link to the BW #2 video can be found at the tail of this article, but to finish this week's blog off, let's get a vague idea of what we should be doing in particularly problematic match ups.
Predicting movement inhibiting cool downs in the Guardian match up is key, try to fake out the healing skills with false pressure, via a switch to daggers from pistols, then back to pistols and evading out.
Recognizing invulnerability cool downs and transitively trying to fake them out with key timings on our rolls, much like the baiting of defensive cooldowns.
Evading as soon as warriors try to pressure with hundred blades, and evading again afterwards to avoid a punish on your first roll.
Kill phantasms with pistols before going in on Mesmers and killing your self involuntarily.
Stop trying to 1v1 Necros.
Similar tactics to the Guardian matchup can be applied against rangers with the faking out of traps and pet attacks.
As we've learned, the versatility of this build is endless, and I fully intend on using it as much as possible and finding potential kinks in the armor. I challenge all of you reading this to please tear apart my video and get down to the nitty gritty, pointing out not so proper engagements and sub optimal cool down usage. On this same note, I would love to hear your ideas on particular match ups and any experiences you may have had in the beta that would result in you reaching such a conclusion. I'm here to be a resource and competitor, so use me to better your knowledge of any given match ups, and if you would like to run the 1v1 gauntlet contact me before the next beta. As per usual, I'm typing this at an absurd hour of the morning and can no longer feel my butt, so I'll skim this over in the morning. Thank you all for reading this, and as always, fight for the user.
http://en.gw2codex.com/build/1532/show <-- Please go drop a comment and what not on this page. <3 Give me feedback minions!
Map Strategy and Beta Weekend #2
Oh hello, didn’t see you there. Last week’s “Price of Progress” left us with a general understanding of how we should go about meshing team composition with certain builds, and that’s an awesome place to start as far as entry level competition goes. In order to build on that, no pun intended, we need to reference these ideas with particular positions on the map, such as Chieftan and Svanir on Niflhel, with Trebuchets and high ground on Kyhlo holding similar importance. Let’s get to it!
The Battle of Kyhlo
I have the slight urge to just scream this particular idea out with no intellectual backing because it seems to be such a common misconception, but I’ll ease into it for the sake of the reader. When the game begins and each of the teams frantically run for the middle of the map and their own neighboring capture point, a few things happen in a traditional match that are a bit misplaced.
Clocktower is unable to be taken if the enemy has an active trebuchet.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can weasel your way around the trebuchet shots while taking the other team out. It’s not going to happen.
If you can't take the Clocktower, you can potshot it until you take out the enemy trebuchet without worrying about an excessive point lead taking place. You HAVE time, use it.
What needs to happen in order to circumvent this decision making :
Take your base’s objective point quickly, and park your four teammates between the trebuchet and base capture point.
These remaining teammates will be acting as free safeties in the event that your trebuchet/capture points come under siege.
If your trebuchet user calls out a clean hit on the opposing team inside the clocktower, your free safeties are free to branch off to tag their trebuchet down, crawl up into
kills, and secure amazing map positioning that is almost impossible to break with the enemy trebuchet down.
You will gain an astronomical lead at the start of the game if you can get a clean kill on their trebuchet and take the Clocktower.
Constant communication is absolutely paramount for this strategy to have any effect.
Once we’ve determined what is within the boundaries of acceptable off the break, this will feed into our ability to deconstruct what our builds will be accomplishing in both team fights, and our free safety defense roles between the trebuchet and base capture point. This will be a subject that I delve into further in the future, but for now let’s move on to Niflhel.
The Forest of Niflhel
Niflhel adds a new dynamic to the mix of PvP arenas in Guild Wars 2, in the form of two “Jungle” mobs as we’ll call them, named Svanir and Chieftan. There are no trebuchet’s to control, thus the only way to take control of these high value 50 point objectives is to send some muscle over in their direction. As you can tell, high ground is less of an immediate factor in the game as there are multiple routes between the bases that do not brush right past the Keep’s capture point, unlike the Clocktower on Kyhlo.
While this lack of importance may seem like a reason to abandon the idea of smashing into the Keep over and over again, it still provides a constant escape route and pathway in the form of the road to the Chieftan, to the mines. Controlling this route will be essential for reducing attempts at back door captures to dust, transitively allowing your burst casters to sit up on the ledge of the Keep and fire down on melee opponents without being in danger. The Keep allows easy access to all of these objectives, and will need to be the first priority in the early stages of the game, after capturing your own base and respective jungle mob.
Solid opening strategy for this map :
Out of the gate, taking capture point nearest your base.
Immediately sprinting to your jungle to have your whole team down it quickly.
Send your thief or respective roamer to the back route connecting the enemies jungle to the Keep to alert a flank attack.
If you’re feeling that the opposing team will skip their opening jungle to hit their nearest capture point and then the Keep immediately after, 5 man flanking their jungle with one person peeling back to take the keep is an option.
One thing to be careful of off the break is the hyper aggressive team compositions that will try to force early engagements before you even get out of the starting beach area. A lot of teams that ignore this threat will buckle to lightning fast pressure, and will subsequently lose before the game starts. When the game begins on Niflhel and your starting gates open, you will be within earshot of your opponents and your camera should be solely focused on watching that shoreline choke for the opposing squad at the start of the match. That's about all I have for introductory map strategy, but before I wrap this up, I’ll briefly discuss this weekend’s beta in an effort to aid your productivity this weekend.
As we move forward into this week’s beta, if one's interests align with the competitive GW2 format, it would be to one's own benefit to move towards a stasis of reflection, as opposed to getting excited about what to play, and who we are going to play with. I would love to see those in vVv aspiring to become top competitors seize these three days to learn as much about class synergy and their individual play styles as they possibly can, in whatever way they see fit. That being said, I'm going to keep this week’s post short pertaining to the beta, and place some of the materials I feel pertinent at the tail of this article, in order to aid in the ongoing mental sifting process needed to overturn the mountain of information we've been handed in the form of the various skills tools, Beta weekend, and stress test respectively. Enjoy the microwaved food for thought with a gourmet sauce, and as always, fight for the user.
I will be streaming Friday/Saturday/Sunday for large chunks of the day, if you'd like some entertainment, come watch at twitch.tv/livevvvgaming
Previous GW2 Blogs and helpful resources :
P.O.P Blog Archive:
Blazek's Guardian Guide:
Cwalk's Warrior Resource Guide :
Sleepytiger's Engineer Guide :
GW2 Skills tool:
Open Beta Thief Video:
Stress Test Thief Video:
The Price of Progress #3: The Flynn Effect
In order for our attitude about class optimization that we discussed last Thursday to be successfully digitized, we need to dig deep into the chemistry and synergy between particular skills and classes in given engagements. Having covered our previous talk about working ourselves into the mentality of "Don't settle for less than what we do best", that leaves us with is the rubix cube that will never be perfect, the abbacus that will never align, and the indefinite, polymorphic forumula that will ultimately lead to success or failure in the Guild Wars 2 world, choice. Biodigital jazz, man. In the end, this theory we will be concocting is useless without the skill and communication required to execute it, but we'll leave that to time and the future professionals meddling with it, and throw caution to the wind in order to brew the most divalent of builds. There's that word again.. Heavy.
Let us begin by discussing the intial core of our team, which we'll call "The Users" for the sake of irony and variety, consisting of a Warrior, Guardian, Elementalist, Mesmer, and Thief. We find our initial tank and spank engine that every team needs in our Guardian/Warrior mixture, giving us both a sense of pressure and defensive fallback if necessary depending on the role of the guardian. Our overall map control and burst will be generated by our hitsquad, consisting of the remaining three, Elementalist, Mesmer, and Thief. While The Users will be splitting up in their own individual groups throughout the match to accomplish certain tasks, in order to reach that point you need to get ahead in the early game with a consistent, deadly and accurate to the milisecond complilation of ultimates that will result in your group getting the potential all-kill they need to secure the high ground point on the map. In order to accomplish this goal, builds must be synergized to not only work well individually, but with the team fight in mind as well. We'll call this, "The Flynn Effect". Are you ready?
Say you're a Thief, and your main goal is to make someone panic into wasting their heal or all of their endurance, into a Signet of Shadows, and subsequent Caltrops or Needle trap + Thieves Guild. Now let's take that and apply it on a larger scale in the context of a team fight. We see an opening, and the signet claims its first victim. When this occurs, a few things need to happen in rapid succession.
Thief uses Death blossom over target causing bleed, upon landing drop caltrops/needle trap to keep them cc'd if the Signet wears off before another teammate can capitalize.
Elementalist picks a side it's comfortable with, and uses Burning Speed to get into position for a Tornado ultimate.
Warrior throws bolo's right before the Signet immo wears off, into Bulls Charge, followed up with a quick step behind the immo'd target into a Stomp to send the opposing team trying to recover from the Tornado to the ground, most likely landing them on or at the base of the stairs.
Guardian teleport strike on top of the immo'd opponent, dropping Sanctuary and Purging Flames upon completion of the teleport.
Thief makes a well mannered call to some old chums that know people that knew some people, and the immo'd target dies.
Ways to nullify an opening strategy like this :
Stun/immo lock on Elementalist before tornado can be put into position, but it would require the other team to know exactly what's happening at the start. The time between burning speed from start to finish and Tornado being cast is about 0.75 seconds, and thus would require your cursor or tab target to be on top of the Elementalist from the start of the dash.
Well timed Moa Bird onto Elementalist or Warrior at the beginning of the engagement, or when your team is regrouping from a Stomp to come back up the stairs leaving the opposing team without a tank.
Direct mirror, i.e being Stomped or Tornadoed before the rest of your team can get in position on the capture point.
When theory crafting situations like these, try to stay practical and in the realm of remotely realistic, as becoming too conditional with statements and timings detracts from your ability to execute. For instance, when certain events are tied to one another, it becomes a matter of sequence and availability of cooldowns rather then standing at a specific point in space in order to achieve a goal. When I say for an Elementalist to move towards a flank of their choosing in order to disperse the team with their tornado ultimate, that leaves the Elementalist with the ability to choose when and where, but gives a rigid detail as to how to accomplish the goal. Leave things open ended and able to be chosen by the user, but rough strategy must be compiled.
While this may seem like an ear full and an unrealistic amount of things to be happening concurrently in a single engagement, it will become a standard of competitive play with severe emphasis on the construction of cohesive and parabolic builds that are designed to climax at a certain point in the fight. I assure you I'm out of KY jelly. After these collapses occur and a kill is guaranteed, your positioning should secure the objective, and if the other team is smart they'll cut losses and head back to the middle of the map, handing you the temporary two to one on capture points. However in regular ladder play there is a solid chance that the enemy squad will give less than a single damn, and continue to push into a severely shattered attempt at a 4v5, giving you free control of Svanir or the high ground in the event that we're playing on Clocktower.
Execution means nothing if you have nothing to execute. Converse with your squad, mesh your builds, and make sure a win is not left to chance. As always I hope for your feedback on the theories and issues discussed, and until next time, fight for the user.
- vVv Rinzler
Comment Question of the Week:
What are your favorite builds emerging from the Beta and stress test weekends?
Open Beta :
Stress test :
Last weeks blog:
The Price of Progress #2: The Mentality of Class Optimization
In order to succeed according to our own means of general perception and not necessarily by the guidelines of society, we must in fact do what we love to do, and do it with such a sense of precision and flawlessness that the act would involuntarily and transitively satisfy the cravings of even the most driven individuals, or in other words, "make it look easy". But I digress from the teary eyed semblance of utter perfection in order to bring all of you a few pieces of information that I have been contemplating for several weeks now, which will carry similar purpose and intent as the aforementioned message. With the announcement of the first public look at the highly sought after potential second MMO in the history of eSports, Guild Wars 2, came an initial barrage of speculation and information regarding the PvP system, and how a system of balance would mingle with a lack of dedicated healing class. Much of this has been sifted through in recent months and has been amplified by both the Open Beta Weekend and subsequent stress test which I attempted to cover via videos on my Youtube channel, links to which can be found at the tail of this article. This article will involve less numerical content and more discussion of ideas surrounding how we build our characters, so do not take all build information as indefinite fact. I ask you as the reader to dive into it, pick it apart, and share your ideas on the subject.
In an effort to aid with the sifting process, which would attempt to cut through the mountain of irrelevant material being thrown out there for competitive GW2, I wrote a series of mildly comical and half witted guides which I am in the process of revising as more information is released on the subject. While I attempted to tie the relevant information to my ideas on class perception and roles in the game, like differences in point swindlers to beat-sticks, I fell short of my goal consisting of implementing as much theory as possible. I would've liked to, rather than stockpile information people already knew to be true, share a basis of understanding around the ideas I was trying to project along with the cold hard numbers. To put it plainly, explain myself. I felt that I did this as well as I could with the Thief class and I will continue to do so while broadening my spectrum and interest to other classes in an effort to bring the members of vVv, along with myself, a healthy, complete, and polished knowledge of the game consisting of a "Once-A-Thursday Unisex" multivitamin containing both PvP and PvE info. Now that I feel marginally less like an IRS agent, let's get into the days topic as referred to in the title as "Class Optimization", and what that entails.
I've found this explanation infinitely more useful than I had originally planned it to be. It has way less to do with the correctness of the idea, which will be recycled and reassessed come the next beta weekend, but the process of thought required to reach such a conclusion. In order to play a particular class to its full potential and to fill the role that we must fill, whether it be in a team fight or zoning in between individual capture points, we must first analyze what makes a particular class so good at what it does, and what it can do better knowing those facts. Take the previous excerpt for example.
What we knew :
The Thief has ranged capability.
The Thief possesses an incredible knack for evasion and capturing points.
The Thief excels at small skirmishes and punishing incorrect disengagements from larger fights.
The Thief can apply the pressure that it can because of the combination of damage, CC, and ability to force a particular position on its opponent in a given engagement.
The Thief has no problem surviving a small engagement without ranged weapons.
From these facts and the explanation provided, we can begin to see that the thief does not carry a beneficial disposition when being told he has to play the role of ranged support. The blanket argument of "Why not just play a ranger?" without any backup is irrelevant. It's wrong on several different levels of thinking and I would like it if we could ditch the idea altogether. At this point, we have to ask ourselves if we're falling into the gimmicky and unnecessarily blanket statement ridden mentality of, "I need to survive as a Thief, thus the quickest and easiest explanation is to throw ranged weapons on him and call him Hawkeye." It's not necessary and we need to break that train of thought if we want to compete in the future of Guild Wars 2. In order to reach a conclusion like that, we would have to rule out the Thief's possibility of surviving in a given scenario with a melee weapon of one's choosing. If that particular combination fails, we need to look at what the second has to offer, then the third, before we reach our end destination of trying to create a Marvel superhero, and of course I'll back this up with a few examples.
Pros and Cons of S/D vs. D/D in correlation with the role we're trying to fill:
S/D offers us Infiltrator's Strike, which allows us to poke around the edge of an otherwise insurmountable engagement without over committing.
Even if we do manage to get caught out of position, before knee jerking to wasted cooldowns, we can calmly assess if Hide in Shadows would be correct in that situation and go from there.
We can reset several times over with the bounce back Shadowstep from Infiltrator's Strike, and play the support role in a team fight.
With S/D your damage decreases marginally compared to D/D and it should be played as such.
D/D offers us a much more risky build but, with damage that is paramount in taking several points in succession, with small engagements in between. This is not in any way a poke build, and is made for crushing while being evasive in necessary situations with the ultimate goal of capturing points.
What allows D/D to do this effectively with an Acrobatics build is the access to the Heartseeker/Death Blossom burst, as opposed to having a dedicated and solid poke engine in Infiltrator's Strike/Backstab.
D/D has a significant disadvantage at playing the poke game without any inexpensive cooldowns to escape with, no matter how much of an advantage you can achieve with natural movements from HS/DB.
D/D is thus more optimal at creating pressure and finishing small engagements while staying in a mobile position on the map, while S/D remains the Thief's mainstay in order to participate and excel at team fights and larger scale engagements. When we assess situations like this we must realize that there are superior and inferior versions and applications of builds. Anet may have made it clear that they want all weapon selections to be viable for all classes, but there will be a time when sub optimal meets optimal and a choice must be made. In order to play a class to its maximum potential, you have to give it the correct tools to do so. Let's delve into another example that can easily blur the lines of viability, the Mesmer. Keep in mind these builds have not been thoroughly tested, and I really need to hear feedback from the competitive community on their Mesmer experiences with the stress test and Open Beta Weekend, so comment away and please be constructive. There are so many possibilities for Mesmer weapon combinations, and I really need vVv's help in filtering through it all. Here are my particular ballpark estimate builds and assertions respectively for Mesmer GS and Scepter/Focus:
Pros and Cons to Greatsword usage:
Excellent damage with a phantasm build.
Requires very skilled kiting and near perfect pathing to keep clones alive as long as possible.
Minimal survivability if clones are targeted.
Pros and Cons of Scepter/Focus:
Exponentially more survivability than GS.
Your channel spell is easily confused with a clones auto attack and it makes it easier to weasel damage in without being noticed.
Requires just as much kiting as the Greatsword but your damage isn't solely dependant on it due to the increase in defensive skills and number of clones being pumped out.
Less immediate damage through direct attacks but the burst potential is still there if spec'd into Illusions correctly.
Now that we have a little background on our Mesmer, let's try to piece together how the Mesmer can take down a fight to the best of its ability. The two roles that come to mind when thinking of a Mesmer in competitive play, is rolling with the death squad in order to play a support/distraction role, in making the opposing team feel incredibly outnumbered with the amount of phantasms being produced while playing support with your AoE's, and the role of the roamer, excelling in taking and holding points as well as small engagements. With the lack of mobility that a Mesmer brings to the table, my initial thoughts consist of a 10/10 vote for the role of support, and I'll explain why.
With Mesmer's being as good as they are at deflecting pressure in team fights, I find myself hard pressed to say they should fill the roll of a 1v1 roaming class, considering their lack of mobility and proficiency in large engagement pressure. Having a wall of meat in front of you protecting you from certain death whilst keeping your stealth escapes up and assisting in damage with team fights seems like the way to go in my mind. Having a Mesmer roam seems good in the sense of being able to handle 1v1's very well, but I feel that it takes too much survivability potential out of battering ram of your team, in my mind most likely consisting of a Guardian, Warrior, and an Elementalist making up the heart of your squad. It seems much more logical to bring a Thief into the role of the nomad, who can pump out the massive damage required in 1v1s and capture points effectively, as well as keeping your Mesmer's impeccable ability to stay alive with the portion of the team that needs it.
Before you begin to grind out builds and viable theories for certain classes, you need to determine what that classes strengths and weaknesses are, and to not try to solve problems that don't exist, or fear the hit that will never come. Time will tell if the Mesmer assessments are remotely close to accurate, but most importantly for this week I would like to realize how we can piece together and implicate the train of thought we discussed earlier in anything we do, not just Guild Wars. Find out what you're truly passionate about and proficient at, and take it as far as you possibly can. Life is too short. Until next time.
Comment Question of the Week
What role do you feel the Mesmer fills the best in 5v5 conquest play?
The Price of Progress Part 1 : Pre vs. Post Beta Thief Class Discussion
Welcome vVv members, to the first regular Thursday blog that I will be putting out here on vVv, obviously called "The Price of Progress". As the title says, This particular blog is going to be a Pre Vs. Post beta shakedown of my original assertions compared to what I know now from playing a thief over the beta weekend, as well as the stress test last Monday. That being said I will also be covering everything from class discussion to breaking competitive news on the Guild Wars 2 and vVv front in this series of articles, not one specific topic. Let's jump into it.
The "Crip Walk" Build.
While being able to execute the correct moves, in the correct positions, at the correct times is a solid chunk of what makes a great player tick, the other 50%
of the equation is one that a lot of people do not put enough emphasis on. If you do not enter the battle with the correct tools you're doomed from the start, and
today that's what I intend on preventing.
Pre Beta Speculation: Now coming from an Aion/WoW background, I'm initially leaning towards a dagger/dagger heavy build, both for the attack speed of the dagger and damage from the Leaping Death Blossom which our build in particular will need due to our general focus on survivability and constant CC. But Anet had to throw a monkey wrench of a variable in for us and they added ranged weapons to the equation. So now the question we're going to have to answer : "What does more damage in the most effective way possible?"
Well originally i thought this was going to take some deliberation, but after watching a few beta videos I've seen the burst potential of d/d and s/d in upwards of 4-5k crits, and the pistol just cannot compare to the conditions and sheer burst that you can put out with two melee weapons. That being said, the pistols place is DEFINITELY in PvE. Your ability to shoot, move and kite mobs much slower than yourself is undeniable and it is definitely an advantage worth having, but the PvE discussion is one to be had at another time.
Post Beta Speculation: This particular explanation held its ground over the beta weekend and stress test, although I will add that every time I was in a capture point and in a stand off with neither me or my opponent moving, I would switch to my pistol to get a few free potshots in before they came at me. Other than that, I'll hold firm on the same position that D/D or S/D is the most optimal weapon choice, although I didn't have time to check out S/D during the stress test. For an in depth explanation of the impact of D/D vs P/P, check out the following:
Pre Beta Speculation: As you can see in the link above, my trait selection is as follows : Deadly Arts, 30. And all the rest at 10 a piece.
The reasoning behind the Deadly Arts at 30 is pretty simple. If you go through and read the bonuses achieved from every spec tree, there is no other tree that has as much of an up front obvious effect on the fight as DA. Power + a 30% boost to any condition you put on an opponent is too much of an advantage to ignore. That being said if you wanted to say go for an all out smash and slash type of build, DA 30 and Crit 30 with say, 10 in Trickery might be your best bet. However i believe putting some amount of emphasis on your survivability is key while still keeping a desired standard of damage, especially in scenarios that you will inevitably run into with zero team support. Something else to note, achieving "Grandmaster" in DA with a fully filled tree grants you extra damage when a target has a condition, poisons a target when you Steal to them, and applies a free weaken on the Steal jump as well due to the poison achieved from the first 10 points of our DA tree, which is what the core of our build is based around.
10 Points in Crit Strikes feeds us extra burst which our build is lacking overall
10 points in Shadow Arts gives us a free regen shield in the form of Shadow Refuge automatically when we hit 25% health, as well as giving us a third stealth utilizing our Steal to its full potential
10 Points in Acrobatics nets us 10% increased movement speed in our respective stealths, on top of a temporary movement speed boost upon evading.
10 Points in Trickery allows us to make our Steal a formidable weapon in battle causing it to net us 3 Initiative as well as dazing our target, on top of the poison, stealth, and weaken it already applies due to our previous traits.
As you can see spreading traits out is by no stretch of the imagination not worth doing or "weak" in any way. It allows us to balance out our builds general lack of damage with the sheer amount of CC we can generate in a short amount of time on several different targets. On that note, let's take a look at our skills chosen for this build.
Post Beta Speculation: I wound up keeping almost none of this original speculation in my final build and I'll explain why. While I was correct in my initial "cc and move" train of thought, I didn't really understand to what extent. Imagine the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker sends his goons to kill batman when they're at Harvey's party or whatever it was. Thugs move in (Thieves Guild) and we work around them to deal as much damage as we can. You have to play like a passive-aggressive pansy, burst, cc, burst, cc, whenever you see them about to switch to go aggressive on you, don't let them. In order to reflect this play style, we need more evasion. A LOT more.
Knowing what we know now with the Thief's desperate need for speed, let's see how that reflects on our Trait Selection. This is definitely not exact as I didn't write down my traits from the beta, but it's close.
Revised Post Beta Trait Selection
20 in DA :
Steal applying Poison
Crits causing Vulnerability as a condition
Weaken automatically applied on Poison with our Steal
Dagger Damage increased by 5%
10 in CS :
Crit chance increased by 5% when we're over 90% health
50% Crit Chance buff out of stealth <-- Huge
10 in SA :
Automatic Blinding Powder thrown out when we hit 25% health
Gain 2 Initiative on every stealth <-- Also huge
30 in ACR :
Gain swiftness on evade <-- A big part of what makes us such a threat on capture points
Move 10% faster in Stealth
Dodging returns some endurance <-- That actually means 25% on evade which is just insane. This is what allows us to roll so many times consecutively.
Dual skills return initiative <-- This will become the movement speed sword buff during the next beta for us.
Increases damage by 10% when endurance is not full
2 extra initiative every 10 seconds <-- Amazing for constantly Cloak and Daggering
While Acrobatics proves incredibly useful for keeping an available stealth up at all times, it also gives us a solid 10% damage boost when our endrance is not at full, which should be all the time.
With this setup we can roll 3 times consecutively with a 3 second swiftness as an after effect, without hitting zero endurance. This makes our thief, when paired with skills like Shadow Refuge and Hide in Shadows, a slippery pickle to say the least when it comes to capturing points and getting away unscathed. I originally had all 30 points in Deadly Arts without the split into Critical Strikes, but after realizing that a small 10 point investment would result in an almost 100% chance to crit out of stealth and a free Blinding Powder when we hit 25% health, I caved and threw 10 points into the tree. Also as you can see in the Stress Test video i switched to Needle Trap from Caltrops for the damage on top of the cripple, which makes perfect sense considering the reduced AoE on Needle Trap has no impact on us when we're packing our handy dandy Signet. The only difference as I said before between the two outside of the damage, is needing to make sure you signet, then needle right next to your opponent as it is an instant cast with very low range. Along with that, working on your ability to cast it under pressure while on the run and using it effectively is a skill that will be necessary for success with a Thief come release.
My plans for the next beta with this setup will consist of swapping Combined Tactics for Martial agility in the slot of "Master" under the Acrobatics tree, for extra damage on the Sword/Dagger build. Using a sword gives us access to Infiltrator's Strike, a teleporting shadowstep effect that we can chose to undo in order to port us back to where we jumped from, which in my mind is the perfect bread and butter for our end goal of staying alive in 1v1s and applying appropriate pressure.
Executing the "CC and Move" mentality in our build
Pre Beta Speculation: As a note, while this build allows us to handle 1v1s without much trouble due to the amount of cc we're dishing out, our damage is probably going to be mediocre at best and as such it is probably a safe bet that this particular build will be an active support role as a thief. Now that we've taken care of our initial emphasis on behind the scenes traits and trees, it's time to discuss the rotations for proper execution of this build. The way we've organized the build thus far allows us to hold our own in 1v1 engagements and contribute to the support role of team fights if necessary, so lets organize our skills accordingly. Begin the theorycrafting.
Rotation in a 1v1 : Steal --> Death Blossom (Our primary concern is immobilization as fast as possible) causing opponent to evade out wiping conditions --> Heartseeker --> Dancing dagger --> Double strike/DB spam until worn off --> Caltrops --> Double strike/DB spam until worn off --> Dancing Dagger --> Death Blossom/Dagger Storm accordingly to apply constant bleed/burst.
The goal in a 1v1 is to apply as much pressure as possible without using any notable cooldowns until necessary. Play reactively not proactively in a 1v1 scenario.
If you're ever in a situation where you're in a 1v1 scenario against an opponent and they don't have constant cripple/bleed on them you've got serious problems. Save your Cloak and Dagger for incoming 2v1s and switching in team fights along with your Hide in Shadows and Roll for Initiative.
Never use your Dagger storm if your target is not crippled. Make sure to maximize its effect i.e after Heartseeking or Stealing into 2 people and immediately Cloak and Dagger out of danger.
Do not be skittish with your damage rotations i.e 1,1,1 -> 3 -> 4 repeat due to your ability to skirt around the fight with your multiple stealth and healing cooldowns.
Use your escapes preemptively. Do not wait until you're at half health and you have an ele and a warrior on top of you with loads of conditions pouring onto you to stealth, do it before the damage comes.
If you see gaps in a line of defense, abuse them accordingly i.e Steal to opposing teams Guardian --> Cloak and dagger stealth to another outlying target --> 1,1,1 --> Dancing Dagger --> Heartseeker to switch back to guardian --> Dancing dagger.
Look for over zealous dps on the opposing squad, but instead of punishing them for it, punish their supporting teammates who will have to put themselves in poor position in order to help out. Create 2v1 scenarios for yourself.
This is all speculation and speaking from previous MMO experience. All of this is subject to change at all times due to the development process being an ongoing one and I would love to hear opinions on preferable traits. For now I won't bother covering map movement and advantageous positions to find yourself in because that entirely depends on what type of role you plan on playing in a squad. Cheers.
Post Beta Speculation:
Obviously the parts about Daggerstorm no longer apply, but the conditions under which you should use DS and Thieves Guild are exactly the same. Don't freely use Thieves Guild without the Signet/Needle Trap, Signet/Dancing Dagger, or just Dancing Dagger if you absolutely have to. Remember, Thieves Guild applies blinding powder in two directions upon landing.
New kill condition is waiting for them to pop an escape after applied pressure, roll at them, DB to bleed, Dancing Dagger to cripple, Signet, Needle Trap on top of them, Thieves Guild, HS/DB/HS/DB.
Our change from Caltrops to Needle Trap is to emphasize our time for dumping a one time damage sink onto someone. Needle does about 1.2k damage in bleed and a 5 second cripple, which along with Thieves Guild is enough to get the job done.
Gaps are easier to close to Heartseeker from a comfortable distance with Acrobatics.
Instant roll into Cloak and Dagger to roll through a group of people or distract.
Having the ability to bait people away from fights, Shadow Refuge, and then throw down the Signet/Needle/Guild combo on them is really devastating.
Think of this particular build and play style like a Mesmer with burst.
The rest applies. Go get a cookie.
As a note, I was using Daggerstorm for the entirety of the Beta weekend with some success until i switched to Thieves Guild on a trial basis during the video shooting.
Now that you have your cookie let's wrap this up. New build, new skills, new tricks. This build gives you the ability to retain superior map movement, along with keeping an indefinite kill condition in your Signet/Needle/Thieves guild combo when you see a lack of escapes up on their end. Use it wisely. I hope you enjoyed this recap from then and now, and i most certainly
hope that I see you all during the next upen beta weekend where I will be trying out the Sword/Dagger version of this build, hopefully with much success. I tried to keep this article
as wall-of-text free as I could, and I hope you guys learned something, transitively enjoying it. I also hope I covered everything, but at this point I can't feel my butt and can't care. I'll give it a once over in the morning.
Until next time.
- vVv Rinzler
Following the recent developments of the Guild Wars 2 Team Breakdowns thread provided by vVv Corza, I felt like I needed to put pen to paper and share some ideas with my fellow thread viewers this morning. I would like to start this off with a short story from my experiences in Bloodline Champions, as without it I feel the message I'm trying to deliver has no meaning. (Just so you're not lost, BLC has a league system like SC2 but instead of points to move up in leagues, we have a "grading" system. Grades 1-12 are allowed to play in the Amateur tournaments, Grades 13-19 the Pro-Am tournaments, and grade 20-30 the Professional tournaments, although noone has achieved a grade higher than 28 and the average pro player resides at Grade 23-25)
Back when i started playing BLC, I'll be real with you, it was a horrendous experience when i began my trudge up the ladder. People were not always very approachable, teams came and went like the wind, and if you held a conversation with someone for more than 5 minutes and they seemed like a competent human being, that was a horrible sign as most of the socially adept individuals were abysmal players. If you managed to make it out of the early sibling rivalry stages of the game and make it to the pro-am's, you had it made.
A few months after I began playing, and several long weeks of incessant grinding later, I finally crawled my way up to the 5th Division of the Gold League 2v2 ladder (Diamond being the highest, then gold, silver, bronze, and iron respectively with each league having several divisions) and found myself a teammate that shared the same go-getter attitude about wanting to finally achieve Division 1 Diamond League status.
After many tried and failed attempts to achieve Diamond League prestige, we had achieved part of our goal, finally breaking into the lower echelon of the Diamond 2v2 ladder coming up in Division 3. We were insanely excited to finally see some progress come to light, and of course due to the fact that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, we quickly lost 4 games in a row out of placement and were demoted back to Division 1 gold league. This rather disheartening blow caused my teammate and I to go our separate ways, due to his interest in the game having dulled over the past weeks.
After tasting real victory for the first time, I was eager to get back into the competitive scene and attempted to pick up a team. Several days looking and solo laddering turned into several weeks, and those weeks really took my interest out of BLC. After a month long break, I returned to my lacklusterly ranked Grade 16 account in mild disgust. In spite of my poor display of skill, I finally came across a now ex pro who ushered me into the higher reaches of Division 1 ladder, and eventually the pro scene, NPLZ.
In my games with NPLZ I learned all of the swiss army knife tools a BLC player needs: Reaction time, baiting various moves and ultimates, map movement, controlling the power up at mid, and most importantly coordination with my teammate. These experiences were what allowed me my first glimpse at the scene I was soon to become a part of in rather dramatic fashion. Although NPLZ's offer to team with me out of empathy for my situation, as he said it, "being stupidly underrated as a player because of the grade next to your name", was wonderful and insightful, he had his own affairs to attend to and I was stuck at the worst possible grade an aspiring BLC player can be at, Grade 19. Pro-am's become a distant memory, and the Pro players won't pick you up because they have easy access to people with notoriety or a dedicated team.
I fought to break this unfortunate turn of events and one day on a complete whim, I invited this rather arrogant sounding individual to a private game for a 1v1. As it happens, he was only acting as such and messaging people for 1v1s to find solid teammates. In light of this, we formed our first dedicated 2's team with aspirations to take this as far as we could push it. Together we reached Grade 22 in the Diamond Division 1 2v2 bracket, with a team rating of almost 2300 and a rather impressive record of 74-14, beating NPLZ's 2v2 team several times via counter picking correctly. Our victory was short lived as our desire to find a third player to finalize a team quickly overtook our need to celebrate. A third was locked in after a disappointing online Pro tournament finish with his previous team, and the league was set. However, this new dynamic in our team was not something we overcame in the long run as we were not able to put our differences in opinion and play style aside in order to compete at the highest level of play.
Over the next two weeks, we set a pain train on course for the top barreling over some of the biggest names in North American BLC, and racking up an almost untouchable record of 54-1, with our only loss being to our teammate disconnecting. With this great success comes a happy ending right? Wrong. A rival team of ours consistently counter picked us to a tee multiple times in ladder play, plummeting our rating after we achieved Grade 23 and demolishing our hopes of slowly climbing back to a possible G24 that season. In combination with the almost impossible rating loss and all of our strategies getting turned to dust with no clear solution in sight, our team caved to frustration and split up after placing top 3 in several online Pro qualifiers but never taking one down. (To put it in perspective winning/losing high level BLC ladder is fighting for a maximum of 5-7 ish points of rating and potentially losing 30 on a League of Legends ELO system. Several consecutive losses can put your team out of top contention in minutes.)
Now all of this being said, I would like to take a second to tie this up to the Guild Wars 2 post and let you guys know what none of us were at the time. Members of vVv. We may have had the initial skill and knew how to play pretty well with each other right off the bat, but we didn't understand what it meant to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, say one of the most successful gaming organizations in the world.
There seems to be a widespread concern among the GW2 forum that teammates will "whine" "fight" "not get along" "not have good chemistry" if all of the top players are picked individually and put on a team of 5.
You are all talking about team chemistry like it happens out of a recipe, and that the people that will be competing on these teams will have NO idea how to fix it or learn from it. As you can see neither myself or my previous teammates were aware of these values and we crumbled when we were tested. Everyone that is a part of vVv knows what is expected of them with zero exceptions.
Who knows? Maybe we might actually find something to start with in terms of chemistry and communication? Regardless this isn't an issue to be handled pessimistically. This "someone's going to act like idra and piss on everyone else and fuck up the team" kind of assumption needs to go.
We do not buy the top talent. We manufacture it.
This past weekend was a monolithic one to say the least in the world of MMORPG's, as the public was allowed their first in game look at Guild Wars 2, the sequel to the unexpectedly successful MMO released in the spring of 2005 by ArenaNet. We could go on and on about the game that managed to thrive in a world dominated by the record breaking "king" of MMORPG's, World of Warcraft, but let's be honest, the Guild Wars 2 beta is what people really want to hear about. Let's give the people what they want, shall we?
As most of you know that joined me last weekend in the cramped and wonderfully pungent Mumble channel owned by Jerry Prochazka himself, I was laying down the pain train as a Thief. But before I go off into my shadowy rants, I would like to send a thank you to all of the wonderful people that came and played through the night with us, toiling through freeze dried space food and a general lack of hygene extending to, but not necessarily ending at a period of 72 hours. Now that formal introductions are of the past, let us march towards our ultimate yet completely unrealistic goal of the total weekend recap, beginning with the questing system.
I won't lie to you my initial skepticism regarding the news of an MMO without a dedicated healer, despite my past experience with ArenaNets games, was overwhelming. In regards to that my concern also flowed directly into how the PvE and raiding systems would function properly without an accurate base of survivability, but my worries were soon put to rest with the introduction of class specific healing utilities that rendered each playable character an independent entity in a group. Meaning among other things that no longer are the days of waiting for your dedicated and oh so hated healer to show up for a raid. Transitively no longer are the days of incessant squabbling over group composition and loot for classes sharing the same armor and weapons.
The questing system rivaled everything i knew about MMO PvE. You mean to tell me we get to feed cows and get quest xp? And kill giant worms trying to kill cows? And FEED COWS?! In all seriousness the system is mindblowingly intuitive. Having the ability to dynamically quest when you enter a certain area with other people that you may not even know, and share an experience like a crazy hoard of centaurs attacking you without warning is truly epic. It added a sense of danger that I've never felt in other MMO's before, and I'm sure you guys felt the same or something close to it.
As far as the XP system goes, it was divulged that there will be a flat leveling curve throughout ones entire journey to 80, meaning your days of "grinding" and excessive amounts of time needing to be dropped into a game just to experience content are over. It's been explained to me as such, "Each level will take about an hour if you are playing at a reasonable pace." This is fantastic news that i cannot say enough about, as it shows that ANet listened to the communities love of the leveling system in Guild Wars 1, and applied it to a larger scale. Fuzzy feelings. All I could hear in Mumble was people praising the simplicity and rewarding feeling of being able to do basic tasks with individuals you've never met, and probably will never meet without a split game experience, by which I mean it felt fluid in terms of what was being asked of us and how we had to go about doing it. There was no grey area, it just flowed. I felt one with the quest. :3 -nerd chills-
Now that we've covered basic PvE, I would like to get into the bulk of the article today which is going to be as you predicted, the stunning PvP system brought to us in the form of a King of the Hill(esque) arena. No, Hank will not grab you another beer, but he will tell us about our PvP experiences this weekend.
With the first of the GW2 betas completed, a few things have been made known to us :
are not your friend.
Don't bother chasing Khaela
you will be thoroughly embarrased.
have an all seeing eye stapled to their foreheads and stealth does not break their target as such.
Warriors love axes.
Everyone sucks at ranger
because their pets are bumbling mongoilloids that went to derp university.
Elementalist Tornado ultimates
on the Clocktower are SEVERELY broken.
The windmill is -->mine<--
and Keysaki can't have it.
Inside jokes aside, everyone seemed to really love the concept of objective play in the game, although not being able to party up made it a pain to communicate to teammates. Given this was just the first open beta so i will refrain from any and all nitpicking as it was a lovely opportunity to see how the game will play out, but it would've been nice to play with fellow members of vVv without having to browse through a list of servers and not have us be able to determine teams.
That being said, the PvP server browsing feature is completely brilliant. I remember the first time over the weekend that someone referenced the cross server PvP and my initial reaction was similar to a 13 year old girl finding out about her new cell phone, "SHUT. UP. NO WAY." I thought this feature was quite stellar and it lead to many hours of fun and intense gameplay with and against the weekend warriors of vVv, along with several applicants.
Now I need to make it clear that I will refrain from whining about any balance issues at all times. Lets get into the broad maple nut spread of numbers and balance tweeks to look out for (I am not saying X needs to be nerfed or Y needs to be fixed, in this section im simply observing things that may be nerfed/buffed/or might need to be fixed).
had a UI bug that resulted in a full health bar on Necros even after taking massive damage. This only affected the opponents screen even thought the damage was actually dealt.
for rangers was lackluster meaning the pets in question reacted very slowly, and in a lot of cases the pet did not attack at all.
seemed to have a little bit of a messed up damage/health ratio. Glass cannon is one thing but the gap seemed excessive. A thief spec'd for full damage still had 7 THOUSAND more health than an elementalist spec'd the same way, leaving the ele at about 10k health.
for thieves could in some cases, when attempting to jump to higher elevation, teleport you directly under your opponent but still deal damage and apply the effect of your steal.
on turning resulting in your running in the direction opposite the way the character is facing for a brief second.
These were some of the bugs/issues that the participants of the open beta reported. If there are any more of note and I'm sure there are quite a few I missed as these are just the ones i remember, please PM them to me and I'll add them to the list so we can have something to look out for on the horizon of the next beta weekend.
Now I would love to talk in depth about a class other than my own, but frankly i don't trust myself to do so having only played a Mesmer and Necromancer very briefly over the weekend. So for the time being, I'll stick to what I know so I'm not giving you guys bogus info. On to some shadowy musings in the form of an exerpt I'm taking from my Thief PvP video thread where I attempt to explain in detail why ranged weapons on a Thief are relatively pointless/lackluster etc. If you'd like to offer feedback please do, I love discussions about gameplay, but let's try to keep it objective. I'm not your enemy, just a guy with some ideas.
vVv Talon's Corner
As you all have probably discovered, GW2 PvP will not be based on APM like it was in say, Aion for example. It's 100% decision making. People who played exceptionally fast in Aion were rewarded for their insane reaction time with being able to out think their opponents on the fly. I.E. playing an Assassin and Ambushing into a Ripclaw Strike, dancing them until Remove Shock buffs wore off from the Ambush, and finishing a kill whilst kiting the other party in question. I don't know if that means anything to you because I have no idea if you played Aion, but the point is the GW2 playing field is very fair, and in order for a fight to go in your favor, you will not be able to rely on speed or gear, you will have to show up with the correct skills and book reading done before hand before you can hope to outplay your opponent. As far as ranged weapons go, they will probably never be tier 1 in competitive PvP on thieves for several reasons besides the lack of damage and CC, and I'll explain why.
When you're using a ranged weapon as a melee character, it's hinting at some underlying general deficiency in your ability to survive for long periods of time. Thieves do not have this problem. So we have to come back to the drawing board as to reasons why we want to MAKE them work, as at this point we are forcing the desire for ranged into our build. For now all we have left is the mobility that comes with using ranged weapons, and you say to me, "Well Talon, I think I enjoy being able to kite and shoot in an effective manner more than I enjoy being stationary and using daggers." To which i would reply, Do you not already solve the same issue when you're using a skill such as Leaping Death Blossom or Heartseeker Strike? I'll elaborate on this.
When using a pistol you lose an element of
, which in turn hampers your ability to survive. As you saw in my video, at a point when the opposing teams Thief walks up the stairs to try and contest the objective point that we were holding, I used Cloak and Dagger to switch off of my current target that I was attempting to keep under control (the Warrior), and used that quick stealth and boost of damage to inhibit the thieves ability to inflict any serious hurt on me or any of my teammates at the start of the fight, with a Heartseeker that crit for about 2.2k damage. Now that this initial blow has been dealt,
the warrior doesn't know where I am, the thief cannot turn and hope to engage me in a fight that he knows he will lose, and I'm in a position to cut off any reinforcements that will be coming up to support their teammates. With a pistol, you do not have the ability to hot swap to a different target with the same amount of pressure in the middle of a fight like with Cloak and Dagger, I have no ability to firmly plant myself in between the opposing squad and a particular objective due to my inability to force pressure and evade attacks with the animations of Leaping Death Blossom, Heartseeker, and Cloak and Dagger, and I cannot force any sort of presence on the fight no matter how much damage I do because let's be honest, the pistols damage when compared to the
critical strikes of dagger/dagger is seemingly insignificant.
The real trick here is positioning yourself in a manner that allows you to use the skill you would like to use, and to land in a favorable spot in a particular engagement. You'll see several occasions where I'm able to use what would normally be deemed a useless skill in a given situation to my advantage, like Death Blossom. Getting the most out of the basic movement of your skills is incredibly crucial to learn and master, and it is something that ArenaNet has specifically said will add an all new element to GW2 PvP. It may not be a blatantly obvious advantage at first glance, but I assure you when I'm able to completely avoid direct conflict whilst still crippling and sending out AoE bleeds, coincidentally doing massive damage, without being touched? People will feel it in their knees. Movements like sprinting full blast, rolling left and gaining swiftness for 3 seconds, death blossom over 2 opponents and thus cutting hard right with the animation, evading towards the back left of their line without ever being in danger and effectively creating a sandwich out of an otherwise heads up engagement, are simply not possible with ranged weapons.
Always look to get more ahead. I never want to see anyone committing themselves to stagnant stationary combat because they think that was the game's limit for their class. Be ballsy, make big plays, and take chances. You certainly won't die with dual pistols, but you sure won't get any closer to winning.
All in all, the beta was everything we had hoped for and more. I wish I had more to talk about but we've only scratched the surface and will continue to do so until the stark nude and perfect GW2 is here. I hope all of you had a wonderfully nerdtastic open beta weekend and I also hope to see you all again in the next one. ^.^ <3 And if something I said doesn't make sense or you'd like a better understanding than what I provided, PLEASE message me on the forums or on my twitter @vVvTalon I would love to talk about it.
- vVv Rinzler
PS: Do me a huge favor and like/subscribe to my channel for more GW2 content. Here's the link.
I've gotton great feedback from it so far and I would love to hear what you guys think.