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Artful Assassination – 28 February 2008

Clan Union [Uni] defeats Good Artist [ei] in the February Monthly Championship
By Harold J. Chow


Special note: Each Match Report presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.


After both guilds missed out on the top-16 cut last month, Good Artist [ei] and Clan Union [Uni] defeated several highly touted guilds in February's Monthly Championship GvG tournament to make it to the finals. In the single elimination rounds, [ei] defeated top-15 guilds Laxigen Addicts [Lax], Professional Athletes [HGH], and You Failed [uF]. Good Artist featured several experienced GvG players, and few doubted that they had the talent to advance this far in the tournament. [Uni], on the other hand, rose out of relative obscurity to defeat Best Before [apr], Stealing Society [StS], and Dark Alley [dR]—guilds favored by many to make at least the top three.


Build Analysis

The changes to "Victory or Death" and the introduction of the "Victory Is Ours" mechanic, along with the success that guilds such as Mistral Edge had in last month's championship, have given rise to Assassin split ("Sinsplit") builds. These builds feature a split team (two Assassins and a Monk) and a flag stand/base team that can defend and deal with any remaining NPCs at VoD. Unlike Mistral Edge's "Sineptitude" build in last month's tournament, [Uni] opted for the "Sinfire" variant, with a flag stand team of three Elementalists (two Mind Blast and one Mind Freeze) and two Monks. After the nerfs to Ineptitude/Clumsiness Mesmers following last month's monthly, many guilds prefer highly flexible Elementalists that can split, defend, and/or simply blow stuff up. Despite using an Aura of Displacement Assassin in the first two single-elimination rounds, [Uni] ran the same Shadow Prison Assassin as in the match against dR, except this time with Shock.


"Shields Up!"
"Shields Up!"
Warrior - Tactics - Shout
Energy: 10
Activation: 0
Duration: 5..11
Recharge: 30
Shout. For 5..11 seconds, you and all party members within earshot gain 24 armor against piercing damage and 50% chance to block incoming projectile attacks.

In previous daily Automated Tournaments and against [HGH] two matches earlier, [ei] countered "Sinsplit" by running a Paragon spike build. This build’s general strategy involves rushing the opponent's base and eliminating NPCs before opposing splits can do the same. The durability and party-healing abilities of Paragons allow the team to send some or all of its Monks back to defend the base. However, [Uni] apparently took advantage of Observer Mode and predicted [ei]'s tactic. Instead of two Mind Blast E/D's with Mystic Regeneration, [Uni] changed one to an E/W with "Shields Up!" to counter projectile-based damage.

MATCH LINEUP:

#9 Good Artist [ei] #6 Clan Union [Uni]
P/Me Count Smgzor I V [Cruel Spear Paragon; OQWQMM4G8D2CXhd3CAAA] A/E Joey Pew Pew [Shadow Prison Assassin;OwZQM05zhEThJ8Tgv5bH]
P/Rt Cirque Burgerboy [Song of Purification Paragon;OQiQQiYkhBZNYdYpYubCAA] A/E Powers Throws Spear [Shroud of Silence;OwZQMUwQ25QipwE+Jw3M]
P/W Jatt Goes Canadian [Song of Restoration;OQGQMrbVMXJI3gtwubBA] Mo/A Hasinaka Midori [Word of Healing Monk;OwcQQaENgCEaRbaCMNQAAA]
P/Rt Famous Mesmer [Anthem of Guidance Paragon;OQiQMg4HcD+Cvj9xu7kL] E/D Yush Tnettae [Mind Blast Elementalist with Mystic Regeneration;OgpQM+5fRvg9iLKrCAAA]
P/Me Asp Gimmick Artist [Shatter Storm Paragon;OQWQMluRXROIbhrwubBA] E/W My Blubbers Keeper [Mind Blast Elementalist with "Shields Up!";OgFQM+5fRZtX8WwFcDBA]
Mo/W Cassette Hihi [Word of Healing Monk;OwEQMaEByMpekXrJrF8C] Mo/E Ad Sad The One [Shield of Deflection Monk;OwYQMDkZymWggMsJAAAA]
Mo/A Count Ups [Restore Condition Monk;OwcQMUkZiAJMmXrJaxGI] Mo/E Ryn Hylia [Healer's Boon Monk;OwYQMfk4qHxfQXRGAAAA]
Mo/A Count Animal VIII [Word of Healing Monk;OwcQMakJiAZmoFzr1kGI] E/Rt Knupser Diversion [Mind Freeze Elementalist;OghQMRDqhZddgMgGaVAA]
Morale Boosts: 0 Morale Boosts: 11 (2:28, 4:28, 6:28, 8:28, 10:28, 12:28, 14:28, 16:28, 18:28, 20:28, 22:28)

The Match on Isle of the Dead

Shroud of Silence
Shroud of Silence
Shroud of SilenceShroud of Silence [Elite]
Assassin - Deadly Arts - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.75
Duration: 3..10
Recharge: 30
Hex Spell. All of your Spells are disabled for 15 seconds. For 3..10 seconds, target touched foe cannot cast Spells.

Good Artist started by taking the upper path and using "Fall Back!" to run to Clan Union's base. [Uni], which had started to push across the top with its two Assassins, E/D, and Mo/A, turned around and went through the tar instead. Meanwhile, [Uni]'s Knusper Diversion had captured the flag stand 28 seconds into the match. As the split reached [ei]'s base to see [ei]'s Monks Count Animal VIII and Cassette Hihi defending, [Uni]'s Powers Throws Spear ran back through the tar to collapse on [ei]'s main team, using Shroud of Silence to get a quick kill on [ei]'s Restore Condition Monk, Count Ups, at 1:10.

Meanwhile, [Uni]'s Joey Pew Pew and Hasinaka Midori had also started to collapse back on [ei]'s main team. Good Artist avenged Ups with a lethal spike on Powers at 1:28, but failed to spike the Assassin a second time as [Uni]'s Knupser defended with a timely Blurred Vision. Animal had run back to support [ei]'s main team, only to see Joey running back to [ei]'s base. With the split back in play and [ei]'s Monks having to worry for their own virtual lives, Powers joined in on the split and got a quick kill on an unattended [ei] archer. To add to [ei]'s woes, [Uni] got its first of eleven consecutive Morale Boosts at 2:28, nullifying much of Powers' death penalty because none of [ei]'s players could get free to capture the flag stand.

Good Artist, however, methodically eliminated most of [Uni]'s outer archers before the 3-minute mark. [Uni] once again split its Assassins with Hasinaka and sent them back to its base to collapse on the enemy team. This time, however, Powers caught Animal between the two bases without Holy Veil pre-cast and with Dark Escape recharging. Powers delivered a fatal blow to Animal at 3:41. Meanwhile, Joey joined the main team to spike down Ups again right before 4:00, causing Ups to resurrect all the way back at the [ei] base.

Rodgort's Invocation
Rodgort's Invocation
Rodgort's InvocationRodgort's Invocation
Elementalist - Fire Magic - Spell
Energy: 25
Activation: 2
Recharge: 5
Spell. Target foe and all nearby foes are struck for 15..120 fire damage and set on fire for 1..3 seconds.

Without a Monk to fend off the two copies of Rodgort's Invocation blasting them in the narrow corridors, [ei] soon lost three Paragons to a frantic, fiery retreat out of [Uni]'s base. Good Artist tried to hold the fort at the front of its base long enough to save a snared Animal, but [Uni] finished off the Monk as it retreated deeper down the bottom path before Ups could get into casting range, and Ups paid the price as the target of [Uni]'s next lethal spike.

Good Artist got its full team back up at 6:00 and attempted to push [Uni] out of its base from the bottom exit. Powers and Joey Shadow-Stepped up to one of [ei]'s archers on the top path and Hasinaka used Return to join them. As [ei]'s Monks frantically tried to keep those front archers alive, these three [Uni] players split back into [ei]'s Guild Lord chamber, eliminating [ei]'s bodyguard at 7:05. By 8:00, [ei] had chased [Uni] out of its base, but fell back to its Guild Lord chamber to regroup.

Death Pact Signet
Death Pact Signet
Death Pact Signet Death Pact Signet
Ritualist - No Attribute - Signet
Activation: 2
Duration: 120
Recharge: 8
Signet. Resurrect target party member with your current Health and Energy. The next time that ally dies within 120 seconds, so do you.

At 8:40, [ei] mounted a push out of its base. [Uni] met [ei] at the top path outside of [ei]'s base. Good Artist finally scored another kill at 10:05, again on Powers, but failed to spike down another [Uni] player before [Uni]'s fifth Morale Boost at 10:28. Soon thereafter, [Uni] stretched [ei]'s lines by using the confined path to pressure [ei]'s Monks with widespread fire damage, and then attempted a dual spike. As Joey tried to solo a now-overextended Cirque Burgerboy, the rest of the team unloaded on Ups while [ei]'s Monks focused on saving Cirque. Good Artist's Famous Mesmer resurrected the 60% DP'd Ups with Death Pact Signet. Before Ups could retreat back into the team, however, [Uni] spiked both Ups and [ei]'s Count Smgzor I V, causing Famous to hit the floor as well. Ups came back up on a Resurrection Signet, but died shortly after as the team retreated deeper. By 11:29, Animal's corpse had joined those of his fallen comrades. [Uni] took advantage by eliminating [ei]'s remaining non-Guild Lord NPCs, but wisely withdrew before [ei] resurrected at 12:00. Good Artist could do nothing now except resurrect Ups with Death Pact Signet and turtle in its base until the Guild Lord marched.

Following [Uni]'s tenth Morale Boost at 20:28, [ei] made a valiant push on [Uni]'s team. After [ei]'s Asp Gimmick Artist interrupted Knupser's Blurred Vision, [ei] spiked down [Uni]'s "Shields Up!" source, My Blubbers Keeper, and finally landed a kill on Knusper almost a minute later at 21:33. Unfortunately for [ei], [Uni] had plenty of Resurrection Signets remaining while [ei]'s Monks suffered more Death Penalty during this surge. [Uni] quickly recovered and pulled away from the front of [ei]'s base, allowing [ei]'s Guild Lord to march to his doom at the stand. [Uni] fended off [ei]'s team until [ei]'s Guild Lord finally fell at 22:45.


Aftermath

Considering that "Sinsplit" builds have dominated two straight Monthly Championships, what could [ei] or other guilds have used to better prepare for and counter these split-heavy builds? The Shroud of Silence Assassin relies heavily on knockdown for its attack chain, while Balanced Stance at a mere 2 Tactics has the same duration and recharge as Shroud of Silence at 14 Deadly Arts. Certainly [Uni] could not have split as effectively to kill [ei]'s bodyguard without using Shadow Steps, but given the variety of other skills that one can use against an opponent from casting range, the Shadow Steps did not do as much for [Uni] as its teamwork did in coordinating splits to gain a numbers advantage against experienced opponents throughout the entire tournament.


Harold J. Chow is one of our freelance Guild Wars reporters. His in-game name is Guild Informant.