Skill Synergy: Part One
For this next Primer, we begin to move away from Training, Zaishen, and Random Arenas. However, the builds listed below work fine in Random Arenas. In fact, we suggest that you try them out in Random Arenas or a similar arena for practice. Each of these builds has a good chance of proving useful in any PvP conflict, from Hero Battles to GvG to Alliance Battles.
Builds form an integral component of Guild Wars, and selecting skills is just as important as how you use those skills. Many skills act in synergy with each other and offer tons of options for combinations. We'll examine some of those opportunities in this article.
Five Builds from Five Professions: Dervish, Elementalist, Necromancer, Paragon, and Warrior
Ebon Dust Aura
Ebon Dust Aura [Elite]
dervish/Earth Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. For 5..35 seconds, if you are wielding an earth weapon, your attack Skills also cause Blindness for 4..10 seconds.
Scythe Mastery 16 (12+4)
Earth Prayers 10 (9+1)
Ebon Dust Aura
Victorious Sweep/attack skill of choice
Ebon scythe. To make an ebon scythe, unlock an Ebon Scythe Snathe from the Priest of Balthazar for 1,000 faction, or unlock one in PvE. Ebon Dust Aura will not work without an ebon scythe.
Melee shutdown, repeated Blindness and Crippling, survival.
Designed to fight against physical attackers, especially Warriors, this Dervish can close on a group of melee characters and repeatedly shut them down with constant Blindness and Crippling. In addition, the Blinding Dervish does a respectable amount of damage while keeping itself alive, meaning it can split from a group if needed or form part of a damage spike. The ebon weapon (needed for Ebon Dust Aura) does more damage to Warriors than a physical damage scythe would because Warriors have armor that gives them natural resistance to physical damage. Pious Haste not only provides a speed boost and self-Enchantment removal, but also generates Energy through your Mysticism bonus.
This build centers on Ebon Dust Aura, although realistically, many combinations of skills work with this elite Enchantment. Crippling Sweep works to apply an additional Condition besides Blindness, making it harder to remove both of them. Crippling has the dual purpose of defense and offense. A Crippled melee character can't keep up with your allies, while a Crippled target can't run away from you. Vital Boon enhances your maximum Health, meaning the extra damage from Chilling Victory has a better chance of triggering. Victorious Sweep also works on the same principle, adding yet another self-heal. Pious Haste grants you extra speed to keep up with targets or escape from danger.
Enchantment removal, Condition removal, Energy denial, block/evade, anti-caster Hexes, snares.
Searing Flames [Elite]
Elementalist - Fire Magic - Spell
Spell. Target foe and all nearby foes are struck with Searing Flames. Foes already on fire when this Skill is cast are struck for 10..100 fire damage. Foes not already on fire begin Burning for 1..5 seconds.
Fire Magic 16 (12+4)
Energy Storage 13 (12+1)
Aura of Restoration
Glyph of Lesser Energy
Liquid Flame/Skill of choice
Meteor/Skill of choice
Constant Burning, area damage, and direct damage.
Because of Aura of Restoration's quick recharge, use it frequently to cover Fire Attunement. If someone strips Aura from you, quickly reapply it to prevent the removal of Fire Attunement. Using this Enchantment in conjunction with the Glyph and Glowing Gaze, you should never run out of Energy. Even if someone does pull of your Attunement, you'll probably have enough Energy to get by until it recharges.
Due to the short recharge of Searing Flames, you can cycle through enemies quickly and make them all suffer from Burning. Make sure to follow each use of Searing with Glowing Gaze, and keep an eye on each target while doing so to make sure it's still Burning. You can see Burning from the fire animation around the body and the brown down arrow on the Health bar.
Searing Flames has a quick cooldown, meaning you can cast it over and over again, but you can only do so with a reliable source of Energy. Because Searing Flames is an elite skill, the build relies on non-elite forms of Energy management.
Liquid Flame does extra area damage between Searing Flames casts (useful for groups of enemies) and knockdowns from Meteor (helpful to stop runners in Random Arena or put additional pressure on Monks).
Fire resistant skills, Condition removal, Enchantment removal, Energy denial, knockdowns.
Spiteful Spirit [Elite]
Necromancer - Curses - Hex Spell
Hex Spell. For 8..20 seconds, whenever target foe attacks or uses a skill, Spiteful Spirit deals 5..35 shadow damage to that foe and all adjacent allies of that foe.
Curses 16 (12+4)
Soul Reaping 12
Glyph of Lesser Energy
Well of Silence/Vocal Minority
Hex overload, Health degeneration, Warrior shutdown, anti-Paragon.
With a number of area-of-effect Hexes, this Necromancer can spread around a lot of misery. While it works best with a partner or two using Hexes (such as Mesmers and Water Elementalists), it can still do plenty of damage on its own. Places like Alliance Battles, in particular, favor this Necromancer due to the large number of opponents and NPCs gathering there. Spiteful Spirit does wonders against somebody not paying attention, but it starts to lose some effectiveness against cautious attackers. With this in mind, look for Pets, minions, and NPCs that attack. These types of NPCs can't call to their team that they have Spiteful Spirit on them, so they'll keep attacking while hurting everyone around them. Even without any NPCs for Spiteful, putting it on human players deters them from taking action. In Random Arenas, where Hex removal hardly exists, Spiteful Spirit can offer enemy Warriors or physical attackers a choice: stand there and do nothing, or fight and slowly kill themselves. Either way, that dilemma works out well for the Spiteful Necromancer.
The power of this build depends on Hex covering and placing Hexes on enemy groups. For example, Reckless Haste works particularly well on a Warrior train closing on an ally. Wait for the Warrior train to coalesce into a solid mass, then Hex them up with Reckless, Suffering, and Ulcerous Lungs. Reckless Haste, the Hex used to shut down the Warrior, then lies buried beneath Health degeneration Hexes, making it harder to remove. Use the same principle to cover Spiteful Spirit. Parasitic Bond works well as a cover Hex because it casts quickly and takes little Energy. When someone removes Parasitic Bond, you also get a Health return.
Look for Paragons (primary or secondary) and Warriors, making sure to get Ulcerous Lungs or Vocal Minority on them. As soon as anything dies, make a Well of Silence for additional Health degeneration and Paragon shutdown. In a high-corpse environment, such as Fort Aspenwood, Wells can decimate a group of attackers.
Spiteful Spirit deters human players and kills NPCs. The other Hexes work to cover it and each other by blanketing an area of enemies. In addition, the Health degeneration works against any team you come up against, so this Necromancer has power everywhere. The Glyph of Lesser Energy makes the high casting cost of the Hexes more manageable, with Soul Reaping as a backup.
Hex removal, constant party-wide healing, Energy denial, interrupts, knockdowns.
paragon/Motovation - Echo
Echo. For 10..35 seconds, whenever a Shout or Chant ends on target non-Spirit ally, that ally gains 1 Energy.
Motivation 14 (11+3)
Leadership 10 (9+1)
Spear Mastery 12 (10+2)
Spear of Lightning
Wild Throw/Spear attack of choice
Aria of Zeal
Song of Restoration
Resurrection Signet/Signet of Return
Energy generation for spellcasters, party armor buff, healing bonus.
Above all else, this Paragon fuels the Energy of casters. A variety of Shouts and Chants serve to drive the battery of Energizing Finale on casters. Monks gain some of the greatest benefits from this Energy support. Additionally, the battery Paragon increases the team's armor, adds a healing bonus to help the Monks, and does damage with a spear.
With Motivation at 14, Energizing Finale lasts for 33 seconds. This means you can use the game clock to time it. For example, if you need to keep two Monks going, try using the game clock. Choose a convenient time, such as 1:00. Put Finale on one Monk; when it recharges, put it on the other Monk. Watch the game timer and reapply every 30 seconds (don't do it every 33 seconds, because it takes time to cast). Done right, you should have Finale on the Monks the whole time.
While making sure your selected battery targets stay in earshot, cycle through the Shouts and Chants you have to drive their Energy. Lastly, make sure "Watch Yourself!" fully expires before you use it again. If you use "Watch Yourself!" again while it is still active, the Shout won't trigger the Energy bonus from Finale. A Shout must actually end to initiate the Energy gain—reapplication doesn't count.
Song of Restoration manages overall party Health, which indirectly means more Energy for the Monks (because they don't have to use it healing everyone). "Watch Yourself!", a pure adrenaline Shout, uses the Paragon's Leadership ability for self-Energy gain. Aria of Zeal returns Energy for each spell cast and functions as another Chant to trigger Energizing Finale. With this combo, your Monks shouldn't run out of Energy anytime soon.
Vocal Minority, Well of Silence, Roaring Winds, interrupts, knockdowns, Energy denial, anti-adrenaline skills.
Dragon Slash [Elite]
Warrior - Swordsmanship - Attack
Attack. If Dragon Slash hits, you strike for +10..40 damage and gain 1..5 strikes of adrenaline.
Swordsmanship 16 (12+4)
Strength 12 (13 if using Enraging Charge)
Sun and Moon Slash
Bull's Strike/Distracting Blow
Constant and consistent damage, continual adrenaline generation.
The Dragon Slash Sword Warrior can inflict constant damage with adrenaline attacks. It may take a few swings to get the cycle going, but once this adrenaline engine gets cooking, it's hard to stop. This Warrior should hit targets as often as possible, never relenting, and apply consistent pressure the other team. As soon as this Warrior stops attacking, it loses the edge of the adrenaline/Dragon Slash combination.
Use a speed boost to close in on a target and charge up some adrenaline. Begin with low adrenaline skills, such as Sever Artery. If using Flail, stay near stationary targets, such as melee characters or any character that's knocked down or snared. After Sever Artery, do a Gash and follow up with Sun Slash. This should get your Dragon Slash charged all the way. After hitting with Dragon Slash, you get a substantial adrenaline return, which you can use to power your other attacks again. Once you get this cycle initiated, you can keep the attack chain going indefinitely.
If your Dragon Slash doesn't hit, you've just lost your 10 adrenaline investment, so you'll have to start building adrenaline all over again. As such, watch your target. If it blocks or evades your normal attacks, try to find a different target for using Dragon Slash.
Dragon Slash fuels adrenaline. It forms the core component of the build. Sever Artery applies Bleeding for spreading pressure, while Gash adds a Deep Wound to make healing your target more difficult. Sun and Moon Slash gives another source of quick adrenaline, while Bull's Strike helps you catch kiters. Frenzy/Flail provides your "increased attack speed" (IAS), while Sprint/Enraging charge gives you a speed boost, along with the ability to cancel Frenzy/Flail, if needed.
Blind, block/evade, anti-melee Hexes, snares, anti-adrenaline skills.
Synergy, Covering, and You
Each of these builds has two or more skills in it that combine with each other to generate desired outcomes. Learning how these skills interact with each other opens one aspect of the PvP metagame. Skill synergy occurs in just about every build, working on both an individual and a team level.
The concept of covering Hexes and Enchantments also occupies a central role in much of PvP. Important Hexes should go on a target first, followed by less-important Hexes. The same principle applies to Enchantments.
When you understand how covers work, as well as how one synergistic skill augments another, you have a better chance of making a build work. When you play against that same build, you'll also have a better idea of how to counter it.