PvP Primer: Random Arena Summary
We've covered Random Arenas from several angles already, but it deserves further discussion. Randoms have long served as a staple for PvPers of all sorts, from completely new players to the most distinguished of veterans. If you play in Randoms long enough, you'll probably end up with someone from a top guild on your team or, if unlucky, on the other team. You may recognize the specific character name of a player you've seen in observer mode, or perhaps one or your allies has some gold or silver cape trim (which would indicate they come from a guild that has placed in a tournament). But whether you get grouped with new or experienced players, you can learn from both.
New players often show you what not to do. While you can hear all about the importance of running away from Warriors, until you see someone on your team standing there, letting the enemy bash away, you may not fully realize just how quickly a melee character can destroy a target. And though it may seem elementary to move out of area damage spells and effects, watching someone forget to do this in the heat of battle can highlight the devastating potential of Traps and Firestorms.
Ranger - Wilderness Survival - Trap
Trap. When Flame Trap is triggered, every second (for 3 seconds total), all nearby foes are struck for 5..20 fire damage and set on fire for 1..3 seconds. Flame Trap ends after 90 seconds. While activating this skill, you are easily interrupted.
You'll soon know if you get grouped with a good team. They tend to communicate in team chat, call targets, retreat when taking damage, call out enemy actions (such as Trap locations or damaging Hexes like Spiteful Spirit), stay together, and quickly resurrect fallen teammates. These same principles form the foundation of good teams in any game, and account for most of the success of guilds that rise high on the Guild Wars ladder. As such, taking the time to communicate with your team in Random Arenas and practice sound tactics not only improves your team's chances of winning, but it makes you a better individual player as well as a better team player.
Communication about Yourself
So what should you communicate to your team? If you have a character build that your team may not immediately realize, tell them, briefly, about it. Smiting Monks, for example, can type "smite" into team chat. This lets allies know they may need to utilize their self-heals. It also helps groups with two Monks. If one of them heals but one Smites, letting the team know may prevent someone from leaving right away (some people do that if they think having two Monks means they won't get quick wins). Learning that the other Monk smites prepares the healing Monk for the role of solo healer, meaning lots of running away from enemies and efficient use of Energy.
If you have a form of Energy management for your teammates, let them know about it. A Necromancer with Blood Ritual might, for example, Ctrl-click on Blood Ritual while using it on an ally. This announces the usage in team chat and actually places an Enchantment on the intended battery target, useful if that person has team chat turned off or didn't notice the chat. Placing this on a Monk before the fight even begins communicates to that Monk that you plan to continue doing so for the duration of the match. With this information, the Monk may plan to more frequently use high Energy skills.
Necromancer - Blood Magic - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. Sacrifice 17% maximum Health. For 8..14 seconds, target touched ally gains +3 Energy regeneration. Blood Ritual cannot be used on the caster.
Paragon skills have a lot of potential for helping allies. If you'll be using these skills, you can type some of them into team chat at the start, or you can simply announce them while casting with Ctrl-click. In fact, sometimes you may want to start using Shouts right away. Refrains, such as Mending Refrain, can go on the entire team before the match fully begins and you can keep a different Shout or Chant active all the time to keep re-activating Mending Refrain on your allies. Such active casting makes it clear what role you plan to fill in the team dynamic and motivates your allies. Additionally, many people may not know what your skills do, so if you activate your Chants before the match starts, your teammates have time to read the descriptions when one of these Shouts goes on them.
paragon/Motovation - Echo
Echo. For 20 seconds, target non-Spirit ally has +1..4 Health regeneration. This Echo is reapplied every time a Chant or Shout ends on that ally.
For some builds you might benefit from suggesting to your allies that they stay in a certain area. Ritualists, for example, place Spirits on the map with a limited range of effect. These Spirits often grant a defensive bonus, so encourage your teammates to pay attention to which effects they have on them. Let them know to retreat to the safety of the Spirits if they extend too much and begin taking excessive damage.
Lots of Assassins enjoy Shadow Stepping into the midst of the enemy team for a quick strike, then teleporting out. If you plan to do this, let your team know beforehand. Otherwise, your allies may think you've gone suicidal or just have no battlefield awareness. They may feel less inclined to help you, and might even leave the game, unless they know you've got a concrete and realistic method to escape from danger.
If you die, you can Ctrl-click on your name in the party window to announce that you're dead to your team. Hopefully, this will spur them to resurrect you. While dead, you may still have a Resurrection Signet to use, so type that in team chat as well. That helps a living ally decide who to resurrect if more than one teammate has died. Also while dead you can click on a teammate to watch the action from that perspective. This will often reveal useful information. Sometimes you may see ridiculous builds that you didn't notice before, which could help you understand why your team lost. Or you may witness a spectacular effort by a top notch player as he or she defeats the last of the enemy.
When your allies die, you can Ctrl-click their names in the party window to announce their death to the rest of the team. Do this if you've already used your Resurrection Signet and want to announce dead members to the rest of the team so they can resurrect the fallen ally.
No Attribute - Signet
Signet. Resurrect target party member. That party member is returned to life with 100% Health and 25%% Energy. This Signet only recharges when you gain a morale boost.
Finally, make sure to announce when you resurrect someone. Many teams in Random Arenas lose because they fail to quickly revive teammates. With a team slow to resurrect, some people even start to leave the game. Announcing your resurrect skill usage deters leaving and supports teamwork.
Communication about the Enemy
As you approach the other team, tab through the different targets. Look for obvious healers, such as Monks or Ritualists, and call them out. Keep an eye on Assassins circling the perimeter as they often seek an opportunity to teleport in. If you see a Ranger laying Traps, Ctrl-click on the skill and you'll announce the skill in team chat. It helps to note the location of Traps so your team can avoid those areas. Also, casters then know they can attempt to wand the Trapper and get some free interrupts.
After you kill an opposing member, scan the enemy for resurrection attempts, even if you don't have an interrupt or knockdown to prevent it. Resurrection skills take a while to cast so you can probably spot an attempt and Ctrl-click on it so your team knows about it. This way, someone else who does have an interrupt can stop the resurrection from occurring. Also, noting a person using a resurrection skill can draw your team to attack that person. Many times this forces the target to stop casting and retreat or stand there and take the damage. Either way it helps your team emerge victorious.
It usually takes only one person on the team to call targets. Often it doesn't matter too much which target gets called, as long as everyone on the team hits that same target. Exceptions to this occur when the other side has a healer or particularly strong defensive abilities.
You can approach target calling several ways. Before you know what the other team can do, search for "soft targets" (meaning those targets with weak armor) such as Mesmers. Call the soft target and begin the attack. As you do, study the other enemies and see who has healing. As soon as you identify the healer, switch to it and call it as the new target. If none of them have healing, you can often stay on your called target and take it down rather quickly.
However, your target may play it smart and flee from the incoming damage. When this happens, switch targets until you find someone who doesn't run. When playing a Warrior, try to build your adrenaline on a stationary target, such as another Warrior or a Dervish, then switch to a soft target and unload your adrenaline, making sure to call the new target with Ctrl-click. A move like this mimics the spiking that coordinated teams employ in GvG battles and catches enemy healers off guard.
Often you'll end up with somebody else completely content to call targets. In such a case, that person probably has experience doing it somewhere before, so you can try to watch the target calling method and see if you can figure out the reasoning behind the choices.
Random Closing Thoughts
Random Arenas offer many things to many players: a rich source for learning and trying new things, a place to develop individual talent and practice Skill Bar setups for a team build, hours of surprises and entertainment, and, of course, plenty of Balthazar's faction. We've devoted several PvP Primer articles to Random Arenas in the hope that you'll give them a try and discover for yourself the variety of experiences available there. Even long-time PvPers return to Random Arenas again and again for a bit of fun or to play around with new or rebalanced skills. At any stage of your PvP experience, Randoms remain appealing, interesting, and instructional.