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State of the Game—November 27, 2006

Hero Battles

By Adam Sunstrom

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.


You'll find the Hero Battles arena on the right side of your map after you create a PvP character, or if you travel with a roleplaying character to the Great Temple of Balthazar. What it offers is a pick-up-and-play form of PvP for Guild Wars, without as much reliance on luck as Random Arena.

Note: to unlock Hero Battles you need to speak with a Priest of Balthazar and unlock three Heroes. Once you've selected three Heroes, use map travel to get to Hero Battles.


Universal Effects

These effects are present in all of the Hero Battle maps implemented in the game so far.

Resurrection: In each player's starting position, there is a Resurrection Shrine, which will periodically resurrect dead members of your party.

Base Protection: When in range of your own Resurrection Shrine, members of your party deal 50% more damage and take 50% less.

To The Pain: When within capture range of the Morale Shrine, all creatures have -10% Health and deal +10% more damage.

Morale points: The morale in Hero Battles is not to be confused with the morale that exists in GvG. In GvG, morale increases your Health and Energy like an inversed death penalty, whereas in HvH it is counted in points. You get one point for each time an enemy Hero or player dies. You can also get them from the Morale Shrine. The first player to reach 20 points wins the Hero Battle.

Morale Shrine: Each map has a Morale Shrine, usually placed near the center. While your team is in control of this Shrine, you gain one point every 30 seconds.


Maps

Following is a description of the maps currently available for Hero Battles, and the shrines you can capture on each.

Desert Sands
This fairly compact map has the Morale Shrine in the south and the other shrines in sort of a line in the north. Bridges connect the Warsong's Shrine to the other ones. An Energy Shrine is located in the east, and there is a Battle Cry Shrine to the west.

  • Warsong's Shrine: The owner of this shrine gets a powerful Warsong Mercenary as an ally to his team. The mercenary is a level 24 Paragon, and uses Leader's Comfort and Blazing spear.
  • Energy Shrine: All skills cast by members of your party cost 20% less to use.
  • Battle Cry Shrine: Members of your party move 25% faster, attack 15% faster, and their skills recharge 15% quicker.

The Crossing
This map is oblong, with all four shrines lined up but separated by high ground. Bridges from each player's base connect to the Cultist's Shrine, which is located on high ground near the center of the map.

  • Cultist's Shrine: A Cultist Mercenary aids the owner of this shrine. He is a level 24 Necromancer who casts Parasitic Bond and Life Siphon.
  • Mending Shrine: Near the Morale Shrine in the western part of the map, the Mending Shrine offers +3 Health regeneration for your party members.
  • Battle Cry Shrine: Located in the far east of the map, owning this powerful shrine makes your party move 25% faster, attack 15% faster, and recharge skills 15% quicker.

The Beachhead
The Morale Shrine is located in the middle of this beach map, with a Mystic's Shrine to the west of it and two Health Shrines to the east.

  • Mystic's Shrine: Summons a Mystic Mercenary to help you. She is a level 24 Dervish, who uses no skills.
  • Health Shrine: Capturing one these will give all of your party members an additional 120 health.

Bombardment
The most unique map by far, Bombardment sports a powerful Siege Cannon Shrine far in the east, which deals 100 armor-ignoring damage to all foes of its owner in an area around the Morale Shrine, which is in the center of the map.

  • Siege Cannon Shrine: Intermittently fires at the Morale Shrine, dealing damage only to the opposing team of its owner. When not controlled by any player, it doesn't fire.
  • Health Shrines: Like with the previous map, your party's Health is increased by 120 for each Health Shrine you control.

Build Tips

Because Hero Battles confer no titles as of yet (though they do offer Balthazar faction), they aren't being played as much as the other forms of PvP offered in Guild Wars. Therefore, there is no true metagame in HvH yet. In my personal experience, the most successful builds consist of one healer and three damage characters. Sometimes one of the damage characters is part defensive.

One thing that can be said is that it's probably not advisable to use a completely defensive character build yourself, unless you have superb compass awareness. If you are constantly focused on healing your team, chances are you'll miss one of the enemies sneaking off to cap your shrines in the middle of a long battle.

Something that I've found very useful is to make at least one of your damage characters self-sufficient enough to fight one-on-one, and to give it a speed boosting skill. When there is a stalemate at the Morale Shrine, send this character off to capture any shrines your opponent might control. Similarly, if your foe tries to do the same, send the self-sufficient character off to stop him rather than sending your whole team and losing control of whatever shrine you are camping.

Because they use artificial intelligence, Heroes use certain skills better than others. Chief among these are interruption skills. Heroes seem to have perfect reaction speed, and will seldom miss with an interrupt. If you bring more than one Hero with interrupts, you can set them on different enemy targets to make sure they don't overlap.


Control and Strategy Tips

Keep in mind that orders issued to all your Heroes at once do not override orders issued separately to each Hero, so if you want your Heroes to all gather in one place, you must first cancel any orders they already have before issuing the party-wide command. If you issue a party command and then cancel individual orders, the single Heroes switch to the party command.

The most common tactical mistake I see players make in Hero Battles is to keep their entire group together. If you do this, you must have excellent snares or speed boosts for your group, or your opponent will send you on a wild goose chase for one of his characters while he captures every shrine on the map with the other three. It is especially important to split up at the start of the game.

I personally like to send one Hero to each of the smaller shrines, while I and one Hero head to one of the more important shrines (usually the one my opponent commits the least units to). If my opponent doesn't split, he may gain one point of morale or a mercenary more than me, but when I decide to face him 4v4, I have the advantage of at least two bonus shrines.

On the Bombardment map, the tactics are a little different because the Siege Cannon Shrine is so exceptionally powerful. The two smaller shrines are proportionally much less important on this map; it usually becomes a game of trying to control the Siege Cannon Shrine at the same time as the Morale Shrine. Try to capture the Morale Shrine and then intercept your opponent as he moves from the Siege Cannon Shrine toward your Morale Shrine. The longer you can delay him, the better. If he leaves the Siege Cannon unguarded, send one unit to capture it while the rest of your squad hampers capture of the Morale Shrine.

HvH is a very build-centric play style; it rewards good skill choices more than the Arenas do. Chances are you will run into all sorts of builds, both balanced and trick builds, and it is impossible to prepare for every trick out there. Someone is bound to have a build that counters you, at which point you must try to outmaneuver that opponent. The most common thing for an enemy to do once he realizes he can beat you 4v4 is to camp the Morale Shrine. To counter this, first try to capture all of the remaining shrines on the map and see if you can take him on with the advantage of the bonuses they confer.

If that fails, attempt to bait your opponent away from the Morale Shrine by splitting your forces. Often, opponents will be tempted to try an easy kill on a separated character, and chase it. Once you you get your foe chasing one of your characters, have the rest of your forces capture the Morale Shrine while your separated character runs laps. Be sure to bring that character back quickly if the enemy stops giving chase. If this happens, you want to engage in 4v4 away from the Morale Shrine, and play defensively so you can get the most points possible out of the Morale Shrine.


Adam Sunstrom has been playing Guild Wars since February 2004 when he joined the Alpha test, and has been interested in the competitive aspects of the game from the beginning. In the early Beta Weekend Events, he led his former clan, The Fianna, with success. He is currently a member of Black Widow [Wi] and the proud holder of one [iA] stamp of approval.