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State of the Game—October 8, 2007

Splits: Chapter Three
Burning Weeping Stone Wurms of Meditation

By Harold J. Chow

Special note: Each State of the Game presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.


Some of the quirkier guild halls—Burning Isle, Isle of Weeping Stone, Isle of Wurms, and Isle of Meditation—do have unique options for splitting, but the same split tactics that work on other maps also work well here.

Well-executed split maneuvers share several key characteristics. Successful split squads move in to the enemy base and act quickly to eliminate NPCs and then escape before opposing players arrive. Good splits also create mismatches, allowing a team to collapse on outnumbered opponents for quick, easy kills. Lastly, split teams maintain control of key areas of the map to prevent opponents from establishing a strong position in one place unless they give up ground at another.

Escape
Escape
EscapeEscape [Elite]
Ranger - Expertise - Stance
Energy: 5
Activation: 0
Duration: 1..8
Recharge: 12
Stance. For 1..8 seconds, you move 33% faster and have a 75%% chance to block attacks.

Split characters often bring a speed boost or Shadow Step for rapid travel, though some teams simply dispatch a Ranger with Natural Stride or even Escape to gank enemy NPCs while the main battle takes place at the flag stand. Other teams might use an Aura of Displacement (AoD) Assassin who Shadow Steps to a foe, marking a Shadow Step anchor, and infiltrates far behind enemy lines. If the Assassin gets into trouble, he simply cancels the elite Enchantment and Shadow Steps to safety.

Recall
Recall
RecallRecall
Assassin - No Attribute - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Duration: upkeep
Recharge: 10
Enchantment Spell. While you maintain Recall, nothing happens. When Recall ends, you Shadow Step to the ally you targeted when you activated this skill.

Some teams use Recall to "attach" characters like a Shadow Prison Assassin and a Zealous Benediction Monk to an infiltrator such as the aforementioned AoD Assassin. With the Recall split, the teammates maintain Recall on the solo infiltrator until said infiltrator arrives, and then cancel it to transport themselves to his location instantly. Only the infiltrator needs the ability to traverse the map quickly, because the Recall characters simply Shadow Step to him.

Managing multiple objective points on the map creates opportunities for collapse. If the opponent matches the number of players you send on a split, then the battle should at least remain fairly even. If, instead, they respond with greater numbers, your split team can retreat and collapse on those players left behind to create a mismatch. If your opponent sends too few, your split team can try to exploit their numbers advantage, or hurry back to the main team to outnumber the enemy there.

With the potential for collapse in mind, the guild thief takes on even greater importance. On maps with a guild thief, the split team will normally need the thief to enter the enemy base. Take out the thief and your opponent has limited opportunities to eliminate NPCs. You can simply sacrifice those outer NPCs for the opportunity to collapse on and crush an undermanned flag stand team. Likewise, when your opponents have to send someone back to get the thief from the resurrection shrine, you have time to recoup and perhaps use your NPCs to get a numbers advantage. The loss of the guild thief, even for a brief time, can also lead to loss of control over key objectives on certain maps.


Burning Isle

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.

Once a haven for spike teams, Burning Isle has become progressively favorable to well-prepared splits. Back when Flame Cursed Sentinels made splitting nearly impossible, the legendary Korean guild, War Machine, figured out they could push their AoD Assassins through the enemy lines at the flag stand. If the enemy caught on quickly, the Assassins simply backed out and rejoined the team, ready to try again when the opponent lowered its guard. Nowadays, teams can simply send a lone Ranger to eliminate the Lesser Flame Sentinels, clearing the shorter path between the two bases for a proper split.

However, some teams still let their guard down enough to simply push through with a single infiltrator. One character may not seem like much of a problem, but that character can grow into an ugly threat using the Recall trick discussed above. An AoD Assassin works particularly well for this tactic because if the enemy collapses on the split team, they can all Shadow Step to safety. To do this, they cast Recall on the Assassin again, who then cancels AoD to return to his original location, bringing the Recalled characters with him to safety. Alternatively, the whole team can turn an attempted collapse into an opportunity to shift the battle to the enemy base, making the flag runner's job much easier.

Split teams without Recall can still attempt this maneuver. Despite the increased risk of the opponent collapsing and crushing the split team, a well-coordinated team can shift the battle out as far as the open area on the enemy side of the flag stand. This position allows the team to spread out against area-of-effect damage (often used on this map), and apply pressure within the enemy flag runner's route to the flag stand.


Isle of Weeping Stone

The Isle of Weeping Stone features a central gate that connects the eastern and western paths in the middle by the flag stand. Naturally, the lever that opens and closes this gate lies on the eastern path while the flag stand lies on the western path. Parking the guild thief at this lever keeps the central gate open, providing a non-splitting team easy access to both sides of the map.

Cutting opponents off from the eastern path forces them to return to their base to access that side of the map, thereby creating ample opportunities to collapse or take control of the flag stand. More importantly, this gate does not open at Victory or Death. Controlling the lever thus becomes extremely important for deflecting enemy gank attempts, and allows your team to collapse on enemy splits while preventing the enemy from doing the same.


Isle of Wurms

The guild thief plays an even bigger role on the Isle of Wurms because she counts as an ally when capturing the Health Shrine, a feature unique to this map. This additional objective and the thief's increased importance combine with the wide-open layout of the Isle of Wurms to provide several opportunities to collapse on opponents.

Let's say the opponent sends just one player with its guild thief to capture the Health Shrine while your team sends a three-person split squad with your thief. Killing the opposing thief in this instance leads to several favorable outcomes:

  • You prevent the enemy from infiltrating your base early in the game.
     
  • You might force the opponent to send additional personnel to capture the shrine or keep one player away from the battle trying to capture the shrine alone.
     
  • Your opponent may have to concede the shrine, giving your team a nice Health bonus.
     

In addition, this situation puts you into position to push into the enemy base, where the opposing thief will resurrect. Clear, effective communication is incredibly important to your success on this map, because players at the flag stand cannot see the Health Shrine on the compass.


Isle of Meditation

Like the Isle of Wurms, the Isle of Meditation has an additional objective that becomes very important at VoD. The Obelisk Tower Stand controls fireball-shooting pillars below and requires the flag to capture (the same flag used for the lower flag stand). To a limited extent, casters and Rangers at this "top stand" can influence the battle at the flag stand below. Trying to maintain control of this stand, however, can provide many opportunities to collapse on an outnumbered opponent. To access the Obelisk stand, a player must first traverse a lengthy, Miasma-filled path and then pass through a central gate. Once inside, the player opens the side gates, providing a shorter route (without Miasma) back to the base.

Some teams split right away, sending a player with a speed boost around to open the side gates while someone waits with the flag. This often works well because carrying a flag slows you down, so running with the flag all the way through the Miasma can take a while. With the gates open, the team can capture the top stand and continue ganking NPCs.

To keep up with flags at the flag stand, the team may leave a runner at their base to wait for the flag to respawn after the top capture. However, this can create a numbers disadvantage at the flag stand. There are no NPCs at the bottom path to fall back on, so if the upper split team can't do enough damage at the enemy base to force the opponents to split in response, this maneuver can easily backfire.


More to Come

Check back next week for the final chapter about split tactics, focusing on Frozen Isle, Isle of Jade, Nomad's Isle, and Isle of the Dead.


Harold J. Chow is a freelance Guild Wars reporter. His in-game name is Guild Informant.