PvP Primer: More Mechanics and Stacking
If you missed the last PvP Primer article about obscure game mechanics, make sure to check it out. In this article, we continue the discussion of how lesser-known game mechanics affect PvP and begin looking into how different effects stack or do not stack with each other.
Interrupts, Line of Sight, and You
Interrupted: Energy and Recharge Time
Using spells and skills helps you destroy your foes quicker, so it's frustrating when your attempts are thwarted by characters who can interrupt you. Understanding what exactly happens when you're interrupted can help you recover quicker and keep the situation from going from bad to worse.
First, you stop casting the spell or activating the skill you were trying to use. You also lose the Energy or adrenaline cost of that skill. The skill does not incur its recharge time, however, so you may attempt to recast a spell immediately after interruption. Keep in mind that you do have to wait for aftercast (the one-second delay after casting a spell in which you cannot cast another spell) to expire before recasting. The same effect applies if you get knocked down while casting; you still lose the Energy cost of the skill.
Line of Sight
You need a clear line of sight to hit with ranged weapons and certain skills. Many things can obstruct line of sight, including slopes and other terrain features. Attentive players attempt to hide behind buildings or walls when under attack from projectile-based weapons. Skills that affect melee and ranged attacks and their chance to hit, such as Blindness and blocking, do not hinder projectile spells. However, you can strafe and move side-to-side and attempt to dodge projectile spells. Here is a comprehensive list of projectile spells:
Assassin - Deadly Arts - Spell
Spell. Send out a Crippling Dagger at target foe. Crippling Dagger strikes for 15..60 earth damage if it hits, and Cripples moving foes for 3..15 seconds. This spell has half the normal range.
Water Trident [Elite]
Elementalist - Water Magic - Spell
Spell. Send out a fast-moving Water Trident striking target foe for 10..70 cold damage if it hits. If it hits a moving foe, that foe is knocked down.
Spear of Light
Check for line of sight with a wand attack (normal, non-skill-based attack) before wasting the Energy to cast a projectile spell, only to find your view obstructed. Watch for targets that are snared, knocked down, or don't have speed boosts, as these targets are less likely to dodge your spell.
Now, let's take a look at the stacking rules. The effects listed below are not a complete list of stacking abilities in Guild Wars. That discussion will take longer than we have space for this week. But we will get through as many as we can this time. Check back next time as we delve deeper into the list.
Stacking, Application, and Removal Order of Conditions, Enchantments, and Hexes
These three aspects of the game follow the same order of application and removal, summed up as "first-in, last-out." If you have a stack of Conditions on you and begin casting skills to remove those Conditions, the first one applied is the last one removed. On a standard Effects Monitor, Conditions appear from left to right, oldest on the left, newest on the right. Removal will target the one on the far right first.
For example, assume you get Crippled and then someone adds Poison on top of that. This shows up as Crippled on the left and Poison on the right. If you cast Mend Ailment, the Poison goes away but the Crippled remains. Enchantments and Hexes function the same way. If you have all three types of effects on you, they appear as Conditions on the left, then Hexes, then Enchantments on the right.
This process of "first-in, last-out" allows players to "cover" their important effects. Let's say you want to make a particular Hex "stick" (not get removed). Examples include highly effective shut-down Hexes such as Migraine and Spiteful Spirit. To make the Hex stick, cast it on your target first and then follow up with a series of cover Hexes (usually low-cost, fast-casting spells). This ensures that when the target attempts to remove your Hexes, the unimportant ones get removed first, leaving the shut-down Hex in place for as long as possible.
Renewing Duration of Conditions, Enchantments, and Hexes
If you cast the same Enchantment twice on a single character, that character doesn't receive twice the benefit. Instead, the duration of that Enchantment resets. Let's look at the old standby, Healing Breeze, as an example. Say it lasts ten seconds. You cast it on yourself. You wait six seconds, so it has four seconds left before it expires. Then, you cast it on yourself again. Instead of two Healing Breezes, you now have one that has reset itself back to ten seconds. So you get a small benefit from recasting Enchantments, but in terms of saving Energy, it's better to wait until just before the Enchantment ends or until it fully expires before recasting.
If a target has a particular Hex with a bunch of covers stacked on top and you recast that same Hex to reset its duration, it moves to the far right of the stack because the game treats it as a new Hex (the most recently applied). Now, you have to bury it again under some cover Hexes, otherwise your target can remove it easily. The same principle applies to covering Enchantments and Conditions. If you have Enchantment removal, watch your enemies and wait for them to cast an important Enchantment, then try to remove it before they can get their cover on top. Alternatively, if you have more than one form of Enchantment removal, you can simply strip the cover and then remove the one you really want to get rid of.
Elemental Attunement [Elite]
Elementalist - Energy Storage - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. For 30..55 seconds, you are attuned to Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. You gain 50% of the base Energy cost of the skill each time you use magic associated with any of these elements.
Elemental Attunement stacks with all other Attunements: Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. If you have both Elemental Attunement and Air Attunement up, you get 50% + 30% + 1 Energy of the base cost of each spell cast. So if you cast a 10 Energy spell like Windborne Speed, you get +5 Energy back from Elemental Attunement and +4 Energy back from Air Attunement (Air Attunement returns 30% +1 Energy), However, like most bonuses in Guild Wars, Elemental Attunement rounds down. So, on a 5-Energy-cost spell, it returns +2 Energy (rounded down from 2.5). Therefore, spells that cost 10 Energy are most efficient for Elemental Attunement.
Because game calculations are rounded down, Elemental Attunement and normal Attunements return the same amount for spells that cost 5 Energy: +2 Energy. If you plan to cast only spells that cost 5 Energy, consider using a normal Attunement instead of Elemental Attunement. You would get +2 Energy either way. You would gain +4 Energy if you used both, but you don't really need that much when casting spells that have an Energy cost of 5 because your natural Energy regeneration should keep you going.
Both regeneration and degeneration cap at ten arrows (each arrow to the right represents +1 Energy regeneration, and each arrow to the left represents -1 Energy degeneration). For a typical caster with +4 arrows of Energy regeneration, certain buffs can enhance this rate. For example, Blood Is Power, a Necromancer elite Enchantment, often adds +5 or +6. If it adds +6, the resulting +10 Energy regeneration maximizes your rate, and any future buffs won't increase your Energy gain. So adding a +3 Blood Ritual on top won't do anything.
The only time adding more than ten arrows has a benefit is if some effects, such as Wither or Ether Phantom, lower your Energy regeneration. The game tracks how many total arrows you should have from all buffs and penalties on your character. To illustrate, imagine you have ten arrows, but the buffs add up to +13, while you also have penalties totaling -2. Even though you actually have +11 as a result, you still get only +10 because of the cap. However, if your penalties rise to -4, you would end up with only nine arrows.
Like Energy, Health caps out at ten arrows, in either direction. If you plan to attack opponents with Health degeneration, either through Hexes or Conditions, consider how much Health degeneration you want to inflict. Conjure Nightmare has a powerful -8 Health degeneration, so if you cover it with a -5 Conjure Phantasm, your result is -13. This means the target suffers actual degeneration of -10, so that extra -3 could go to waste. However, if the target attempts to counter with some Health regeneration, she would need at least +4 before seeing any real effect. Even then, the target would be at -9, an unhealthy amount that can quickly kill.
Glyph of Elemental Power
Glyph of Elemental Power
Elementalist - No Attribute - Glyph
Glyph. For 25 seconds, your elemental attributes are boosted by 2 for your next 10 Spells.
Bonuses to your attributes, such as those you get from skills and weapons, can stack with each other. Consider Glyph of Elemental Power (which adds +2 to your Elemental attributes for the next 5 spells) in combination with a staff wrapping that has a 20% chance to grant +1 to Fire Magic. If you have Fire Magic maxed out at 16, every time you use the Glyph, you cast spells as if you had 18 Fire Magic. Toss in the staff wrapping, and one of those 5 spells should actually cast at 19, allowing you to produce surprisingly powerful damage.
Non-stacking effects refer to skill types that overwrite each other. A character can have only one of the following skill types active at a time: Elementalist Glyphs, Ranger Preparations, and Stances of any profession. Adding a new one simply replaces any previously applied.
Elementalist Glyphs function one at a time. If you use a Glyph, then use another one, it overwrites the first one. So, for example, you can't use Glyph of Elemental Power and Glyph of Energy to cast a strong Meteor Shower without exhaustion.
You're only allowed one Ranger Preparation at a time. Most Preparations usually last for a while, so consider equipping just one on your Skill Bar. For example, having Apply Poison and Barbed Arrows on the same Skill Bar doesn't make much sense, because you can't use them together. Additionally, there are other skill combinations that allow you to inflict Poison and Bleeding on a target with the same shot, like Poison Arrow with Barbed Arrows. For Preparations that don't last as long, such as Choking Gas, experiment with Practiced Stance to increase the duration, because you can stack a Stance with a Preparation.
Warrior - No Attribute - Stance
Stance. For 8 seconds, you attack 33% faster but take double damage.
No matter the profession, you can't have more than one Stance active. If you're in a Stance and you activate a different one, it cancels the first Stance. You can use this to your advantage, however. One of the most common examples of this is Frenzy. Frenzy offers a reliable source of increased attack speed, but it carries a double damage penalty. Consequently, many players bring along another Stance they can use to cancel Frenzy, thus removing the penalty when necessary. Popular choices include Rush, Sprint, and Dash, although other variations occur.
The assorted game mechanics we describe above all have further applications to PvP. Becoming accustomed to the interaction of certain effects improves your PvP ability and helps prepare you for whatever Guild Wars fights come your way. If you would like to practice with these effects, check out our previous primers on good arenas to use for practicing builds.