GW2: AR Groups from Dual Perspectives

Play an AH hammer guardian in a variant of Strife’s anchor build for too long, and you end up getting a very one sided view of dungeons.

You are always “the tank.” Mobs glue onto you. 6 pieces of Knight’s gear and melee proximity is all it usually takes.

(Failing which, I throw on my WvW soldier/clerics with soldier runes, which are nearly always guaranteed to exceed nearly anyone else’s toughness rating, at the expense of losing significant amounts of damage – I only consistently lost it once on an Arah 4 run where some guy had decided to wear Sentinel armor. And didn’t have great reaction times on kiting sparks. Now that was “fun.”)

Usually, I don’t mind. I’ve tanked before in other MMOs. And you know the saying, if you want something done right…

It just can get VERY wearying in a GW2 group if you don’t have sufficient support. And you grow bitter because you end up convinced that you are carrying a bunch of selfish damage builds by sheer herculean dint of protection-laying, self-healing, reflection, blocking effort until you go down, and bounce back up again because someone revived you, to do it all over again and go down again and up, and on and on.

If you do have sufficient support on the other hand, it is usually a cakewalk. Go in, buffed up to the gills, everyone AOEs and cleaves, voila, stuff falls over dead, everyone’s still sturdily standing after.

The problem with tanking is that it’s also hard to have sufficient leisure time to study any fight mechanics from an outside observer’s perspective, because you’re too busy trying not to fucking die.

Alt time.

I tried bringing in my spirit weapon guardian in berserker armor.

Well, the damage is a little higher by traiting in the new 50% damage spirit weapon trait, but I was rather miffed I had to give up the vigor on crit trait to do it (need all the endurance one can if one is squishy, y’know?)

The main problem I ran into is that everyone expects a guardian to tank, and if you sit around chilling your heels, they wait around for you too because they’re just as much wusses as you.

If one was lucky enough to run beside someone else who took responsibility for the aggro, it seemed to work decently well. Sword teleport into strikers and sic a hammer on them to keep them interrupted and the lightning channel disrupted. Spirit sword did aoe damage, spirit shield absorbs projectiles and weakens the group, etc.

The other issue was that you give up a shitton of survivability sitting around in berserker gear. The cannon phase was not great. One accidental misstep = death and disaster. And in a PUG, all it takes is one guy running around like a headless chicken to screw up your careful stepping pattern and screw you over.

I died consistently and just couldn’t shake off the feeling that this was making me look like a clueless noob in everyone else’s eyes. I also felt too much at the mercy of how the entire party was built. Random group is random. Berserker, imo, is really for more coordinated groups.

Money spending on alt time.

I’d built up to 36 gold in the last few days, and promptly spent 24 of it decking out my WvW warrior in a new dungeon/gear build.

There seemed to be very little consensus on appropriate warrior dungeon builds, especially since the traitlines just got shaken up recently, so I ended up designing it based on my objectives.

Evil Plan: Dump aggro. Stay alive.

Nagging Angel on Shoulder Reminder: Offer group support for the poor schmutz who ends up tanking.

There were a number of multiple goals behind this. As I said, I wanted to observe other people in the tank position to see what they did – learn their tricks and observe where they stood, etc. There was the vague hope that I would eventually luck into a party with a competent tank and maybe pick up the Personal Space achievement.

And I figure if I want to learn other dungeons eventually, it’s good to walk in as primarily dps over a tank position, where you know, everyone expects you to magically know what to do.

(Side benefit, pug groups where the guy who becomes “it” doesn’t know how to handle it become hilarious. You either watch them get better at their class, or we all wipe together over and over until mass ragequits happen.)

How did I achieve this?

Zero toughness. I didn’t want to go full berserker for reasons of personal survivability worry. So strange combination incoming – Valkyrie/Magi.

You see, I decided I was going to go axe/horn and rifle. I’d previously leveled with axe/axe and rifle and was the most familiar with those weapons. (Reserving the greatsword for my second warrior.)

Horn does fantastic condition removal when traited for it (converts to boon, even), and AR is full of highly annoying conditions for the whole group. Rifle is useful for single target damage on fights which require one to be ranged.

I also decided to play with banners, so I went a full 30 into Tactics with Inspiring Banners, Quick Breathing and Inspiring Battle Standard. Turns out if you run two banners like this, you can pulse and build up to around 30 seconds of regeneration on everyone. Quite crazy, really.

I am suddenly super melee buffbot, an interesting variant on the City of Heroes Defender which was ranged buff/debuff. On a sturdy group, the added power and precision banners should make stuff die extra quick. On less study groups, I can also switch to the healing power, toughness and vitality banners in the hope it helps them some. Running For Great Justice adds on extra fury and might for all.

Layering on healing signet helps me pulse regen heal and I have a hefty vitality hp reservoir to stay alive with. I suppose I could also add on another layer of regen with mango pies, but haven’t felt the need for it yet.

Alas, crafting the Valkyrie armor cost a 12 gold bomb (better than buying it off the TP for 18 gold, I suppose), and ruby orbs are slotted in all 12 locations to push oneself more toward the damage “expected” of warriors. Crit chance is not great, at 30%, but remember, fury pushes it up to 50%, and crit damage bonus is 80%. Won’t match a pure berserker, but imo, respectable enough.

What really blew up the bank was deciding to splurge and buy the three most expensive superior sigils to put on my berserker weapons for some 15 gold. The axe has a sigil of fire, and the horn has a bloodlust sigil. 250 power if I get to build up stacks pushes attack and damage higher. I’m not convinced the sigil of fire is that awesome as yet, but I’m keeping an eye on it. Worse come to the worse, there’s the black lion salvaging kit because the weapons ended up cheaply bought via WvW. The rifle sports a sigil of energy to help endurance for dodges since I have the fast hands trait as a side benefit of going 20 in Discpline anyhow.

It’s been a useful experiment in terms of group observation ability.

Everybody else pretty much becomes “it” as most are likely to have a shred of toughness somewhere.

If they don’t, then they are obviously running some variant of berserker and are very damage-focused, so it becomes the equivalent of an 8 blaster team in CoH. Nuke it all (preferably from ranged) or die trying.

I’ve been able to see necromancers step up and tank and kite. Even an engineer or two. In one hilarious group, the mesmer clones and ranger pets and Ellen Kiel were holding most of the aggro – though disaster hit when the one ranger with the pet holding the aggro didn’t know how to appropriately handle the golems before everybody died.

I learned a whole lot from those groups which I couldn’t see before while being the center of attention though.

And we will be discussing those strategies in the next post.

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5 thoughts on “GW2: AR Groups from Dual Perspectives

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I find all this fascinating in a horrific, glimpse-into-an-alternate-world kind of way. Not just the nightmarish prospect of repeating the same instance ad infinitum for any purpose; not just the hideously unfun mechanics; not the devastating damage this kind of attritional game design must necessarily be doing to the previous good community-building work ANet had been aiming for and achieving in the original design brief for GW2.

    Well, all those. But mostly the entire underlying concept that plagues this and many other modern MMOs; the assumption that players will study all the abilities given them in skills, traits, weapons, gear and more, practice and learn the implications of them all, acquire as many as possible and then select subsets for specific events and occasions.

    If I wanted to do that I’d be playing golf. I really, really yearn for the days when we played classes not builds. I want to go back to that, please.

    As for this dungeon, I’m sitting it out. It sounds incredibly unappealing, much more so than the Molten Alliance one, which I didn’t actually hate. The last thing I’d want to do is add to the metrics that suggest there’s a genuine demand for this sort of thing. Are there people who are actually enjoying it?

    • Jeromai says:

      You know, I actually agree with your first paragraph. I’m philosophically inclined more towards easy fun games and being inclusive and community-building over elitism, exclusion or grinding ad nauseam for the end purpose of showing off how much “better” one is than someone else, be it through statted or showy gear or skills.

      I sometimes just do these things to show that when I criticize it, it’s not because I can’t do it or need to L2P and thus get automatically written off by those who need to feel better about themselves.

      I do disagree with the second paragraph in the specific case of Guild Wars though. The previous game established the gameplay meta as it were of being able to change and select skills freely and design builds towards a certain purpose.

      As such, this is also acceptable in GW2 for those who enjoy optimizing and being efficient – when you consider that most normal world content (and WvW for that matter) can be done with practically any random build you like. One just gets better at it if one builds for it.

      The only exception to this is overtuned dungeons, where any random build you like may sometimes lead to horrific consequences like wiping the entire party over and over.

      (Which I’m not that philosophically keen on. Contrast with say, CoF1, which is probably doable by any character, just the time to complete differs, as long as the player understands the mechanics.)

  2. kichwas says:

    I love how both your tanking build and your support build are doing “everything wrong” according to the usual forum posts on the official forums and gw2guru. And you’re winning for it.

    I love this line:
    “If you do have sufficient support on the other hand, it is usually a cakewalk. Go in, buffed up to the gills, everyone AOEs and cleaves, voila, stuff falls over dead, everyone’s still sturdily standing after.”

    And this one:
    “running some variant of berserker and are very damage-focused, so it becomes the equivalent of an 8 blaster team in CoH. Nuke it all (preferably from ranged) or die trying.”

    This dungeon was designed to show that running a team of 5 blasters is less than ideal, and that people should be thinking a bit more about group support and maybe even enemy control.

    • Jeromai says:

      I agree. I picked up on that from the start when I saw all the conditions flying around.

      I strongly suspected Anet would be very up to the challenge of creating a dungeon to challenge pure berserkers after all that whining on the forums about damage being the bare minimum needed for current dungeons.

      GW2’s group synergy is actually very strong, with multiple control and support options and hasn’t been fully explored yet (it’s rare to see a thief do classy things in dungeons, fer instance. PUG-wise anyway. Mace and shield tend to be less used weapons, etc.)

      If you actually think about it, both the golem’s and Mai Trin’s shielding may give room for condition damage to shine over pure power as well.

      It’s just kinda hard on an anchor guardian to be the guinea pig of this kind of thing when the rest haven’t figured out they should support yet though. 🙂

      • kichwas says:

        As mutual former City of Heroes (/RIP) players, it might be intuitive for us to see and understand ‘support and control’ as something other than just healer and tank. CoH players get the value of playing in these fields to apply or reduce pressure in not as always numerically obvious ways.

        The resistance to it seems to come from former players of trinity MMOs that keep looking and noticing it is not as ‘solid’ as a required healer or required tank, then dismissing the very potent influence is does bring as a result.

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