Guild Wars




PvP Primer: Miscellaneous Game Effects

This article continues our coverage of game effects and mechanics. Here we deal with lesser-known and often overlooked effects such as aftercast, critical hits, and Exhaustion. Each effect covered in this article influences PvP, and fully understanding these effects accounts for the success of numerous builds and play styles.


Aftercast refers to the time your character must wait after casting a spell before starting to cast another. The current lower limit is 3/4 of a second. For example, if you cast Stone Daggers with a 1 second cast time, your character pauses for 3/4 of a second after the cast completes before being able to cast Stone Daggers again. Point-blank area-of-effect (PBAOE) spells have either 1.25 or 1.75 second aftercasts. Shadow Step spells have 0 aftercast, to allow for a teleport and subsequent chain of attack skills.

Game Tip
Nothing reduces or increases aftercast. The Mesmer's Fast Casting primary attribute does not affect aftercast either. To maximize the efficiency of a spell caster, you can queue up a spell while casting another. You can also queue one up during the aftercast period. As soon as aftercast wears off, your character immediately begins to cast the queued up spell.

Armor: Hit Location and Damage Reduction

Armor provided by a shield, as well as the shield bonus, applies globally to incoming damage. Warrior absorption runes are global as well. Actual pieces of armor, however, work on a per-location basis. Thus, if you have a bonus to a particular damage type (cold, fire, slashing, and so on) on your chest piece, that bonus only activates if you get hit in the chest. Note that some spots are easier to hit than others. Here are the armor locations, from easiest to hit to hardest: chest, legs, hands, feet, and head.

Game Tip
When selecting armor for your PvP character, consider using any extra armor bonuses on the chest and legs because those areas get hit the most.

Armor Penetration

Armor penetration removes a percentage of your armor for that particular hit. For example, 25% armor penetration on a 60 AL (armor level) target would hit as if it had 45 AL instead.

Game Tip
Because armor penetration works off a percentage, the more armor the target has, the greater total efficiency you derive from armor penetration. With 20% penetration, you strike a 100 AL target as if it had 80 AL (-20 AL), compared to a 60 AL target, which you strike as if it had 48 AL (-12 AL). However, despite this increased efficiency, higher armor is still higher armor, and a hit against 80 AL does a lot less damage than a hit against 48 AL. In general, seek to strike the target with the lowest AL possible to do the most damage.

Attack Speed Reduction

Attack speed reduction from multiple sources is capped at a 50% reduction in speed. No single skills can slow attack speed beyond 50%.

Necromancer - Curses - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 3..24
Recharge: 8
Hex Spell. For the next 3..24 seconds, target foe attacks 50% slower, and that foe suffers -1..3 Health degeneration.

Skills that reduce attack speed:
Faintheartedness (50%)
Meekness (50%)
Shadow of Fear (50%)
Soul Bind (30%)

Sample stack:
(Shadow of Fear -50%) + (Faintheartedness -50%) = 50% slower (cannot exceed 50% cap)

Increased attack speed (IAS) effects stacked with speed reductions have a simple additive outcome. The calculation is an easy one. Simply add or subtract the relevant speed modifiers to determine the total effect. Note that in order of operations, the freshest item in the stack is calculated first, so certain effects may vary.

(Shadow of Fear -50%) + (Reckless Haste +25%) = 25% slower
(Reckless Haste +25%) + (Frenzy +33%) + (Shadow of Fear -50%) = 8% faster
(Reckless Haste +25%) + (Frenzy +33%) + ("I will Avenge you!" +25%) + (Faintheartedness -50%) + (Shadow of Fear -50%) = 17% slower

Game Tip
While you cannot use Necromancer Hexes to decrease an opponent's attack speed more than 50%, you can include redundant measures in your build. Faintheartedness has a lot of utility because it adds Health degeneration. Use this Hex on melee characters first, but if you don't see any melee targets, use it to pressure enemy healers. Including Faintheartedness on the same Skill Bar as Shadow of Fear gives you Health degeneration and widespread melee shut down along with an area cover Hex.

You can also consider using Meekness in a Hex-heavy build as a user-friendly cover Hex. Just remember that it comes with the price of higher Energy and a Health sacrifice. Even though Meekness and Shadow of Fear offer the same speed reduction and Hex duration, Meekness covers a larger area. Shadow of Fear works best on a Warrior train or tight cluster of enemies, but Meekness extends far beyond that, making it easier to position correctly than Shadow of Fear.

Critical Hits

The chance to score a critical hit is approximately 1% per weapon mastery attribute point (assuming equal character level of attacker and defender). Generally, the higher your weapon mastery, the more critical hits you land.

"Go for the Eyes!"
"Go for the Eyes!"
paragon/Command - Shout
Adrenaline: 4
Activation: 0
Duration: 10
Recharge: 0
Shout. For 10 seconds, the next time each ally within earshot makes an attack, that attack has an additional 30..75% chance to critical.

Skills that increase your chance of a critical hit:
"Go for the Eyes!"
Critical Eye
Critical Strikes (Assassin primary attribute)
Malicious Strike
Primal Rage
Siphon Strength
Way of the Assassin
Wild Blow

Skills that remove your critical hit ability:
Dulled Weapon
Stoneflesh Aura
Stone Sheath

Skills that give protection against critical hits:
Balanced Stance

Damage Reduction

Different damage reduction skills stack with each other, with no cap. With enough reduction, you can drop the amount of damage you take all the way to 0 per hit. Many skills give you extra armor, which stack with each other and with per-hit damage reduction.

"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.

Armor increasing skills:
"Shields Up!"
"Stand Your Ground!"
"Watch Yourself!"
Armor of Earth
Armor of Frost
Armor of Mist
Avatar of Balthazar
Bladeturn Refrain
Convert Hexes
Defensive Stance
Defy Pain
Disciplined Stance
Dolyak Signet
Dryder's Defenses
Elemental Resistance (penalty against physical damage)
Feigned Neutrality
Fertile Season
Frigid Armor
Kinetic Armor
Mighty was Vorizun
Obsidian Flesh
Physical Resistance (penalty against elemental damage)
Resilient Weapon
Shield of Deflection
Shield of Regeneration
Tranquil was Tanasen
Ward Against Elements
Ward Against Harm

Damage reduction skills:
"They're on Fire!"
Armor of Sanctity
Armor of Unfeeling
Aura of the Lich
Dark Escape
Life Barrier
Life Bond
Mantra of Earth
Mantra of Flame
Mantra of Frost
Mantra of Lightning
Reverse Hex
Shield of Absorption
Shielding Hands
Stoneflesh Aura

Game Tip
Damage reduction and extra armor does not protect you against life-stealing attacks or Health degeneration.

Dodging Arrows and Projectiles

To dodge arrows, spears, wand attacks, and projectile-based spells, simply strafe side to side or run back and forth. "Click to move" also works well. There is no randomizing effect with projectiles; if the projectile lands in a place you're not, then it misses.

Game Tip
To see some expert dodging in action, take a bow, spear, wand, or projectile-based spell such as Lightning Orb to the Isle of the Nameless. Seek out the Master of Healing (head to the right) and start attacking her. Watch as she effortlessly dodges most of your attacks. This will show you just how much damage you can save yourself merely by dodging incoming projectiles.


When a spell causes Exhaustion, gray shading appears at the right side of your Energy Bar. Note that maximum Energy is always reduced by 10 for Exhaustion-causing spells, even if you cast a 5 Energy spell or a 25 Energy spell. The rate of recovery from Exhaustion is 1 maximum Energy every 3 seconds.

Only Elementalist spells cause Exhaustion, although a few skills can inflict it upon other characters.

Exhaustion-causing skills:
Exhausting Assault (Assassin)
Arcane Languor (Mesmer)
Equinox (Ranger Spirit that doubles Exhaustion)

Game Tip
Nothing removes Exhaustion, although the elite Elementalist skill Glyph of Energy prevents it.

Health Sacrifice

All Health sacrifice is an effect called "loss," which is not considered damage. You can sacrifice yourself to death. Loss and "life steal" are really the same thing (life steal just makes an enemy lose Health while you gain it), and both of these ignore armor and spells that reduce damage. For example, Shielding Hands would not reduce life stealing from Vampiric Gaze or vampiric weapons, nor would it reduce the amount of Health loss from a sacrifice.

Infuse Health
Infuse Health
Infuse HealthInfuse Health
Monk - Healing Prayers - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.25
Recharge: 0
Spell. Lose half your current Health. Target other ally is healed for 100..136% of the amount you lost.

Some builds utilize self-sacrifice to the point of character death. Mostly these are Necromancer minion master teams, although sometimes self-sacrifice is also used with Death Nova builds. A common self-sacrifice method uses Infuse Health. The self-sacrificer equips a weapon set with +60 Health and repeatedly uses Infuse Health to drop below 60 Health. Then, the same player swaps to a lower Health vampiric weapon set, which results in character death and a reusable supply of exploitable corpses for minions. Switching to a non-vampiric weapon set leaves the character at 1 Health.

Only one skill reduces Health sacrifice: Aura of the Lich. It reduces your maximum Health by half and damage from all sources by half, including Health sacrifice.

Height Advantage

Many players have long known that Rangers gain an advantage when attacking from higher ground, and a disadvantage when attacking from lower ground than the target. While the exact benefit varies on the level of height, suffice it to say that Rangers should habitually seek higher ground. Furthermore, Paragons, though they have a shorter range, also deal more damage when on higher ground. This effect often goes overlooked, but the extra damage adds up over time.

Game Tip
If playing on a Paragon spike team, try to lure the enemy into a hilly area or get them below a bridge before spiking, especially if your team has a hard time dropping targets. If playing against a Paragon spike, hide behind buildings or cliffs and look for high ground to deny the spikers any height advantage.

PvP Application

Familiarizing yourself with how game effects function will improve your PvP ability and help prepare you for Guild Wars combat. If you would like to practice with these effects, check out our previous primers on good arenas to use for practicing builds.