Guild of the Week: The Valandor (Val)
The Valandor (Val) formed during the World Preview Event held in October 2004, with the sole purpose of playing PvP. The founding members were determined to create a strong, competitive PvP team where close teamwork was a focus. To that end, the guild has been kept purposefully small--just twelve members, all of whom are Finnish. During the Beta Weekend Events, the Valandor focused on competitive play in the Tomb of Primeval Kings tournament, with members devoting their time to learning the intricacies of Guild Wars combat.
Following the release of Guild Wars, the Valandor moved to Guild-vs-Guild (GvG) combat, where it has maintained a high place on the ladder, competing for top positions with the best Korean and American guilds. During E3 2005, Val twice went into battle against War Machine--winners of a nationwide tournament--and earned the distinction of being the only team to defeat War Machine.
Guild-vs-Guild Build Design
The Valandor develops its GvG team builds to a plan. Examples include focused "spike damage," heavy use of damage-over-time (DOT) effects, or builds designed to shutdown enemy Monks completely. Most often, Val members plan on heavily stressing some of their enemy's skill choices, while rendering others useless. One such method requires using a lot of Hexes to overtax the enemy Monk's anti-Hex skills, while not using any Conditions, thus turning any of the Monk's Condition-removal skills into wasted skill slots.
All builds have advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to keep these in mind at all times. The pros and cons should be considered both while designing and playing the build. Keeping this in mind, the Valandor has found an effective way to develop new builds: Find a good base setup that works for your team and use that as a template. Valandor's normal "template" is outlined below.
- One "runner." This character has the task of carrying the flag and distracting the enemy's flag carrier. Typically, the runner spends a lot of time separate from the team, and this needs to be considered when selecting skills. Speed boosts, damage resistance, and the ability to fight one-on-one are important. Any other skills should supplement the team build.
- Two or three healers. These characters need to work well together, with a plan for how they will handle situations such as removing Hexes and Conditions. It is important to avoid over-healing or using excessive removal skills when dealing with Hexes and Conditions. Consider having guild members specialize in Healing, as this is a key role.
- One or two "toolbox" characters. The Valandor uses a "toolbox" character to help minimize any weaknesses in the build. For example, if the team build has a vulnerability to Warriors, the toolbox characters equip anti-Warrior skills. These characters can also equip skills designed to counter enemy characters that could cause the build trouble. Valandor members typically utilize Mesmer characters for this role, due to the diversity of skills available to the class. Be prepared to change the setup on a toolbox character frequently while testing a new build.
- Three or four "build" characters. These characters, one of whom should be the target caller, define a build. The design of these characters depends entirely on the goal of your build. For example, a "spike damage" build might include a few Elementalists who make heavy use of Lightning skills.
The strategy employed during a match will vary depending on your team's build and your enemy's build. It is crucial that all players on the team know their character well and fully understand their role in the build. As a team, always work on improving teamwork and building efficiency. An efficient build--one that uses the least resources for the required effect--can mean the difference between failure and success.
Build Design Quick Tips
When designing a new build, Valandor offers the tips and strategies below.
- Develop your build from a base idea, and choose skills that best support that idea. This should produce a better base build than simply selecting skills that "look good."
- Remember to consider the potential weaknesses and strengths of your build. Keep these in mind, and try to find skills that enhance the build's strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
- Features such as flag stands in GvG become very important battlegrounds in close matches. Remember to consider this when constructing a team build.
- Do not waste too many skill slots on resurrection skills. Resurrection should only be needed if someone makes a critical error. Including too many resurrect skills reduces the efficiency of a build and usually only results in prolonging an already lost battle.
- Try to include Energy-management skills on each character. Energy is a key resource for all characters--especially casters. Additionally, Energy management skills are a good counter against enemies using Energy denial.
- When deciding who will play each character in a build, assign the more complex characters to the most experienced players.
- After testing a build, each player should adjust his assigned character in consultation with the rest of the team. Remember that any changes to one character can have an effect on the entire team strategy.
Meet some of the members of the Valandor.
Gaming Background: FPS and RPG
Preferred Character: I like to play mostly a nuker or an anti-caster, but I also enjoy playing a healer Monk sometimes.
Gaming Background: Mostly RTS and FPS
Preferred Character: Healing Monk, occasional Mesmer. I dislike using anything that takes more than a second to cast. My trademark is to use Vigorous Spirit spamming (mainly to protect other enchantments).
Gaming Background: Diverse
Preferred Character: I like to play an anti-caster character since most of the character classes in Guild Wars are casters. I tried to play a healing Monk in the 3rd BWE, and it was fun for a moment, but it didn't really suit me. Most of my characters are either Mesmers, Necromancers, or Elementalists, but playing the other classes is no problem for me.
Gaming Background: Strategy, FPS, and RPG
Preferred Character: I usually play a protection Monk, but anything besides Ranger will do.
Gaming Background: FPS and RPG
Preferred Character: My favorite character is a pure Warrior with Axe Mastery. I've found that it does better damage than a Warrior with Swordmanship or Hammer Mastery, so it is pretty easy to kill weak characters. I also like to play a healing Monk.
Gaming Background: PvP in FPS and RPG
Preferred Character: I play whatever character is needed, and the more challenge needed to play it, the better.
Gaming Background: Everything
Preferred Character: I'm usually a healer, but I play whatever is needed.
Gaming Background: PvP
Preferred Character: I just play what I'm told to.
Gaming Background: FPS and RPG
Preferred Character: I started playing Guild Wars as a Monk since it's a quick way to learn the basic PvP skills. Afterward, I tried every class except Ranger and found them all fun to play.