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State of the Game—November 13, 2006

The Early Impact of Dervishes and Paragons

By Harold J. Chow

Special note: Each State of the Game article 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.


With the release of Guild Wars Nightfall, prepare to face two new professions: the Dervish and the Paragon. Many top guilds have already embraced at least one of these new professions in team builds, as they have both proven quite versatile.


The Dervish

While no longer enjoying the imbalanced power levels from the first Nightfall preview event, Dervishes still pack a good offensive punch or occupy more of a utility role for the team. In addition, some guilds have experimented with using Dervish as a secondary profession.

Wounding Strike
Wounding Strike
Wounding StrikeWounding Strike [Elite]
dervish/Scythe Mastery - Attack
Energy: 5
Activation: 0
Recharge: 3
Attack. If this attack hits while you are under the effects of an Enchantment, target foe suffers from a Deep Wound for 5..20 seconds. If you do not have an Enchantment on you, this attack causes Bleeding for 5..20 seconds.

In a purely offensive role, Dervishes have the ability to clear out a crowd. With the ability of the scythe to hit up to three adjacent foes combined with the area damage of Dervish Enchantments, Dervishes make a powerful frontline ally. Skills like Wounding Strike and Crippling Sweep give the Dervish options to deal damage and apply Conditions to multiple enemies simultaneously. Furthermore, a Dervish's scythe has a higher maximum damage than any other weapon in the game.

Featherfoot Grace
Featherfoot Grace
Featherfoot GraceFeatherfoot Grace
dervish/Wind Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.25
Duration: 5..20
Recharge: 15
Enchantment Spell. For 5..20 seconds, you move 25% faster, and Conditions expire 50%% faster.

Dervishes also have useful skills for flag running. Featherfoot Grace allows a Dervish to run faster while lessening the duration of Conditions. Vital Boon and Pious Restoration make excellent synergy for keeping the Dervish alive and Hex-free. Besides self-sufficiency, skills like Crippling Sweep and Harrier's Grasp allow the Dervish to slow the opposing team's flag runner.

Mystic Sandstorm
Mystic Sandstorm
Mystic SandstormMystic Sandstorm
dervish/Earth Prayers - Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 0.75
Recharge: 8
Spell. Lose all Enchantments. For each Enchantment removed in this way, all nearby foes are struck for 10..35 earth damage (maximum 130 damage).

Dervishes have found other roles as well. With the ability to regain Health and Energy when Enchantments end from its primary attribute, Mysticism, one team experimented with using a Dervish/Necromancer with party-wide Enchantments such as Order of Pain to pump up the party's damage while recuperating Energy and Health to help sustain such Enchantments on the party. Another experimented with a Dervish/Assassin who could load up on Enchantments, Shadow Step to an enemy, and drop all of its Enchantments at once for massive area damage using Mystic Sandstorm. With the number of roles they can fill effectively, Dervishes have already begun earning spots on many rosters.

Conviction
Conviction
ConvictionConviction
dervish/Earth Prayers - Stance
Energy: 5
Activation: 0
Duration: 10..35
Recharge: 20
Stance. For 10..35 seconds, you have +24 armor while enchanted, otherwise you have +1..4 Health regeneration.

As a secondary profession, the Dervish can offer quite a few perks as well. On a Monk/Dervish, Conviction can provide either Health regeneration or extra armor to increase the Monk's survivability. Combined with Vital Boon, these Dervish skills can make a Monk more difficult to spike down.


The Paragon

The Paragon excels at making the rest of the team perform better. Not only can it provide healing, reduce incoming damage, and manage Energy for those within earshot, the Paragon can also do significant support damage with a spear. It should come as no surprise that the Paragon has appeared in builds not just for Guild Battles, but for Heroes' Ascent as well.

Song of Restoration
Song of Restoration
Song of RestorationSong of Restoration [Elite]
paragon/Motovation - Chant
Energy: 5
Activation: 1
Duration: 10
Recharge: 15
Chant. For 10 seconds, the next time each party member within earshot uses a Skill, that party member gains 30..90 Health.

In Guild Battles, the Paragon fills a much-needed midline role that not only makes life easier for the team's backline, but also bolsters the team's offense. Many teams now include a Paragon/Warrior, which has access to numerous Shouts from its secondary profession to augment the Paragon skill lines. Elite Paragon skills such as "Incoming!" and Song of Restoration offer amazing defensive capabilities. Between Song of Restoration and Ballad of Restoration, one Paragon can keep allies within earshot from getting too low on Health. Dipping into the Warrior line for skills such as "Watch Yourself!" and "Shields Up!" only enhances the survivability of the party.


"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.

But the Paragon can also aid on offense. "Go for the Eyes!" raises the damage of melee-based offenses to truly alarming levels. Anthem of Flame adds the painful degeneration of Burning to allied attacks and combines well with "They're on Fire!" to boost defense even more. The Paragon has a number of interesting attack skills such as Barbed Spear that add Conditions in addition to the damage they deal. Most importantly, these skills can fit on the same Skill Bar as many of the defensive skills, thus providing an incredible amount of utility to the team.

Energizing Finale
Energizing Finale
Energizing FinaleEnergizing Finale
paragon/Motovation - Echo
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 10..35
Recharge: 5
Echo. For 10..35 seconds, whenever a Shout or Chant ends on target non-Spirit ally, that ally gains 1 Energy.

With backlines hurting for Energy because of the recent changes to some Inspiration Magic skills, the Paragon can assist as a "battery," much like a Necromancer. Energizing Finale, combined with the Paragon's other Shouts and Chants, bestows Monks with plenty of Energy for healing. This skill fits nicely on a Paragon's Skill Bar without altering the Paragon's build too much.

The Paragon also introduces a new option for teams wanting to bring a reusable resurrection skill: Signet of Return. This skill can provide outstanding results in the right situations, but can also deliver lackluster performance at other times. It works best with a full party still alive, because the amount of Health the resurrected character comes back to life with depends on the number of allies in earshot.

Song of Concentration
Song of Concentration
Song of ConcentrationSong of Concentration
paragon/Command - Chant
Adrenaline: 8
Activation: 2
Duration: 10
Recharge: 5
Chant. For 10 seconds, the next Skill used by each ally within earshot cannot be interrupted.

In Heroes' Ascent, the Paragon truly shines. In addition to the above-mentioned skills, the Paragon provides Song of Concentration. This skill, combined with Ward of Stability, can allow a team's Ghostly Hero to perform his Claim Resource skill without any possibility of interruption. Combined with its other defensive capabilities, the Paragon can make altar matches very painful for teams that do not come prepared.


Countermeasures

Vocal Minority
Vocal Minority
Vocal MinorityVocal Minority
Necromancer - Curses - Hex Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 5..20
Recharge: 20
Hex Spell. For 5..20 seconds, target foe and all nearby foes cannot use Shouts or Chants.

In addition to the new professions, Nightfall also introduced several counters to those new professions to curb their power level. The new Necromancer skills Vocal Minority and Well of Silence prevent Shouts and Chants while Ulcerous Lungs punishes those who do manage to use them. Likewise, Mesmer skills like Enchanter's Conundrum and Air of Disenchantment help to slow down the Dervish's ability to cast Enchantments and give the target a chance to kite away.

The old standards can also work to some extent. Interrupting a Paragon's Chants will keep that Paragon from shielding the team, while Energy denial schemes can wreck a Dervish's comparatively small Energy pool.


Integration

While both new professions fill a number of different roles, one must still assess whether such a character would fit appropriately into his or her own team's build. If the team wants to take advantage of Nature's Renewal and Tranquility, then having a Dervish on the team would not likely end well because such a combination severely hinders the Dervish's ability to use Enchantments. Although the Paragon can play many different roles for a team, it tends to perform each one weaker in some way when compared to other professions, particularly when alone or with a smaller group of allies. If the team build involves a lot of split tactics, then the team needs to analyze whether the benefits provided to a smaller chunk of the party merits including the Paragon.

Dervishes and Paragons have already proven their worth to several guilds you will find on Observer Mode. As such, they certainly deserve consideration for your next team build.


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