Guild Wars




PvP Primer: Clarifying Obscure Mechanics

Across all PvP, certain game mechanics come into play and drive the action of every fight. Many of the elements underlying PvP seem obscure and can cause confusion. In this article, we begin to describe these troublesome mechanics, clarify how the game works, and how this all affects PvP. After this article, we'll delve into how the stacking of things like "chance to miss" and "chance to block" work in Guild Wars.

Ally vs. Party Member

Healing Breeze
Healing Breeze
Healing BreezeHealing Breeze
Monk - Healing Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 10
Recharge: 2
Enchantment Spell. For 10 seconds, target ally gains +3..9 Health regeneration.

Skills can target allies, other allies, and party members. If the skill reads target ally it means you can use it on yourself, any friendly player, NPC, or minion. Many healing spells fall under this category. Examples include Orison of Healing and Healing Breeze. Target other ally, however, means you can't use it on yourself. Word of Healing, Heal Other, and Mend Condition work on other allies only. If you try to cast them on yourself, you get an error message warning you about an invalid target. In contrast, party member means a skill only affects those players in the actual party list with you. Spells like Heal Party and shouts like "Incoming!" have no affect on pets or NPCs, even if their names show up in the window beneath the list of party members.

Game tip: Set up a key bind to control "target nearest ally." This helps you save NPCs when defending a base.

Energy Deficit

Yes, even in Guild Wars you can accrue debt. Luckily, the debt doesn't last long and wears off naturally. But how do you go into debt? If you temporarily equip items that raise your maximum Energy and cast spells until you run out of Energy, then swap to items that don't raise your maximum Energy you actually end up with negative Energy (although it will look you just have zero Energy for a long time). To better explain, let's use an example. Say you have 35 Energy from your first weapon set, with +4 Energy regeneration. You swap to your second weapon set that gives you 72 Energy, but only +2 Energy regeneration. You frantically cast spells until you reach zero Energy. Then you swap back to the first weapon set to recover faster, thus reducing your maximum Energy to 35. But the game has tracked your spending and remembers that you owe 37 Energy. So for a while you see zero Energy, even though you are regenerating Energy and could be anywhere from -37 to -1. Once your natural Energy regeneration has fully paid back the debt, you begin accumulating a surplus again.

Game tip: A common game trick involves switching to a high Energy weapon set and casting an Energy management spell, then going back to the original weapon set. Note that Signets never cost any Energy, so you can still use these when recovering from an Energy deficit.

Knockdown Length

Ritualist - Communing Magic - Binding Ritual
Energy: 15
Activation: 5
Duration: 15..45
Recharge: 60
Binding Ritual. Create a level 1..10 Spirit. All non-Spirit foes knocked down within its range are knocked down for at least 3 seconds. Whenever this happens, this Spirit loses 50..25 Health. This Spirit dies after 15..45 seconds.

All knockdowns last for two seconds, unless otherwise specified. Gale and Gust knock a character on the ground for three seconds, while Backbreaker puts forth the longest knockdown in the game at four seconds. Warrior Stonefist Insignia takes any normal knockdown skill and increases the length from two to three seconds. Knockdown skills that already persist for three seconds receive no benefit from Stonefist Insignia. The common Shock/Axe Warrior build owes much of its effectiveness to that extra second of Stonefist knockdown on Shock and/or Bull's Strike. Another knockdown-related skill, Earthbind, offers an alternative to increasing knockdown duration. If you have both Stonefist Insignia and Earthbind, knockdown lengths still cap at three seconds.

Game tip: Remember that Stonefist Insignia works for ALL knockdown skills a Warrior uses, even skills from other professions.

Shadow Stepping

You can Shadow Step to any target within casting range as long as you have a clear path of normal travel available. If you stand behind a closed gate and attempt to Shadow Step to somebody on the other side, you come to an abrupt halt at the gate. Shadow Stepping also lets you travel up and down, if you could've walked there. If you cast a Shadow Step spell on a character standing above you on a bridge, you'll teleport to that character's location as long as no gate blocks your way.

Game tip: Lure enemy players away from their team with a fake overextension of your own, then use a Shadow Step skill such as Return or Recall to teleport and rejoin your team, giving your side a temporary numbers advantage.


Spirits come in two forms: Nature Rituals and Binding Rituals. Both work the same way in terms of number allowed in play. Each Spirit has a range of effect. If you or somebody from your team puts up another Spirit of the same type within the range of effect, the first Spirit dies as the new one takes its place. When still in range of them, many Spirits will appear in your Effects Monitor (the same place you see Conditions or Hexes on your character). As long as you see a Spirit's effect active on your character, casting another Spirit of that same type will destroy the original. Enemy Spirits have no affect on allied Spirits in this regard. When a Spirit dies, it returns half the normal Soul Reaping bonus Energy to Necromancers.

Game tip: Begin casting a new Spirit if you see one under attack. By the time they kill it, you'll have a new one ready to go.

Range of Maintained Enchantments

The maximum range for a maintained Enchantment is sight range. You can use the Alt key to see if an ally you have cast a maintained Enchantment on has gone beyond your sight range. If your target no longer shows up when you press Alt, you’ve traveled beyond sight range. When you get to this point, the Enchantment ends on that ally. A gray name in the party window also signifies you've gone beyond range. Note that this range is the same as party-wide skills such as Heal Party.

Aura of Displacement
Aura of Displacement
Aura of DisplacementAura of Displacement [Elite]
Assassin - No Attribute - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.25
Duration: upkeep
Recharge: 20
Enchantment Spell. When you cast Aura of Displacement, Shadow Step to target foe. When you stop maintaining Aura of Displacement you return to your original location.

Game tip: Aura of Displacement follows slightly different rules for a maintained Enchantment. While you never go out of range of the Enchantment itself because you maintain it on your own character, you can pass the range at which you actually return to your original location. If you travel too far and cancel the Enchantment, you Shadow Step back to a point near where you cast it. The actual point varies by how far you went beyond the effective range. If you went 20 feet beyond a normal maintained Enchantment range you will Shadow Step 20 feet ahead of your original location when you end the aura.

Range of Party-Effect Skills

Some spells have a long-distance effect. Take the wording on Heal Party, for example:

"Spell. Heal entire party for X health."

When you cast this spell, any party members within range of your Alt key get healed. This range extends just slightly beyond the Compass. If any names show as gray instead of white, your long distance spells won't affect them and long distance spells they cast won't affect you. Other spells in this category include Light of Deliverance and Order of Pain.

Game tip: Think of yourself as a long-range Monk. Use Heal Party to support retreating allies or counter widespread Health degeneration. Just make sure the names appear in white, otherwise they won't get healed.

Recharge and Disabled

When a skill becomes disabled, it does not work for the specified period of time. A darkened skill with an expanding section of brightness indicates a disabled skill and the remaining time until it becomes available again. Signet of Humility disables an opponent's elite skill, which ignores that skill's natural recharge time. On the other hand, if a skill makes someone else's skill take longer to recharge, it adds the extra time on top of the normal recharge. Diversion, for example, typically adds 40 or more seconds of recharge time to an enemy skill.

Mesmer - Domination Magic - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 3
Duration: 6
Recharge: 12
Hex Spell. For 6 seconds, the next time target foe uses a skill, that skill takes an additional 10..56 seconds to recharge.

Game tip: Don't use Signet of Humility immediately after someone casts an elite skill. Many elites already have long recharge times. Once the elite has activated, you essentially waste your disable ability if the target's elite skill already takes a while to recharge. Dervish Forms, for example, make poor choices for Signet of Humility if the Dervish has already gone into a Form.

PvP Application

The assorted game mechanics we describe above each have further application to PvP. When making a build or trying a new role, consider your skills and the possible opponents you may face. Becoming accustomed to the range, recharge, and duration of certain effects improves your PvP ability and further prepares you for whatever Guild Wars fights come your way. If you would like to practice with these ranges and effects, check out our previous primers on good arenas to use for practicing builds.