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State of the Game—June 5, 2006

Oh, How We Love New Skills

By Michael Thompson

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 Guild Wars Factions now five weeks old and the third season of the Guild Wars Factions Championship underway, let's look at some of the new character builds in rotation and how they impact the game.

Assassin
Used by: I Black Widow I [Wi] in game one against The Last Pride [EvIL]

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.
  • Golden Phoenix Strike (Dagger Mastery)
  • Shock (Air Magic)
  • Falling Spider (Dagger Mastery)
  • Twisting Fangs (Critical Strikes)
  • Shadow Refuge (Shadow Arts)
  • Dark Escape (Shadow Arts)
  • Caltrops (Shadow Arts)
  • Aura of Displacement [Elite] (Assassin No Attribute)

This character is a one-man hit squad designed to cut down enemy NPCs. It features a powerful combination of attacks that bring an Archer or Bodyguard to his knees in a flash, left to linger for mere seconds with -7 Health degeneration (caused by Poison and Bleeding Conditions).

A typical attack plays out thus: the player fires off Aura of Displacement and Shadow Steps to the target. Since this is an Enchantment, it allows the subsequent use of Golden Phoenix Strike, which is then followed by Twisting Fangs. Shock knocks the target down allowing Falling Spider to inflict the final blow. Once the combo is completed, the Assassin removes Aura of Displacement, allowing him to return to his previous location out of harm's way. When attacking archers, Shock is used to interrupt the archer from using Troll Unguent.

When played correctly, this build is a formidable opponent. The first game between The Last Pride and I Black Widow I, the Assassin build single-handedly eliminated nearly every one of The Last Pride's NPCs, giving I Black Widow I a huge advantage, which ultimately led to victory. The combination of offensive and defensive skills on this character allowed the player to kill NPCs swiftly and then retreat to regenerate. This harassment forced EvIL to respond by sending back one of its players, negating the player advantage gained from the initial split. A detailed report of this game, written by one of Wi's players, can be found in the Match Reports section.


Ritualist
Used by: Sacrament of the Waooru [SotW] in its winning match against Idiot Savants [iQ]

Ritual Lord
Ritual Lord
Ritual LordRitual Lord [Elite]
Ritualist - Spawning - Skill
Energy: 10
Activation: 0
Duration: 30
Recharge: 30
Skill. For 30 seconds, your Rituals recharge 15..60% faster.
  • Ritual Lord [Elite] (Spawning Power)
  • Shadowsong (Communing)
  • Pain (Communing)
  • Union (Communing)
  • Shelter (Communing)
  • Spirit Burn (Channeling Magic)
  • Gaze from Beyond (Channeling Magic)
  • Flesh of my Flesh (Restoration Magic)

This build combines the defensive and offensive abilities of the Ritualist to form a very powerful utility character. In game one, Sacrament of the Waooru came from behind to snatch victory from Idiot Savants thanks to the support this character provided at the flag stand during Victory or Death. In game two, its defensive spirits halved the power of iQ's spike build giving SotW a huge advantage from the start through the end.

The elite skill Ritual Lord is a key component of this build. It significantly reduces the recharge times of Binding Rituals, allowing the Ritualist to continuously maintain spirits and provide essential damage mitigation for the team. Shelter proved pivotal in countering iQ's spike in game two with Union helping to reduce the overall power of the spike even more. The only option for iQ was to prevent the Ritualist from summoning these spirits (Shelter, specifically) or to remove them once they were placed. Thanks to Ritual Lord, SotW was able to recast the spirits before iQ could capitalize on the advantage. Overall, this character provided good defense against casters and attackers as well as providing extra pressure damage.

Life Bonder (Monk/Warrior)
Used by: War Machine [WM] in game three against We Still Pwn Charr [Char]

Life Sheath
Life Sheath
Life SheathLife Sheath [Elite]
Monk - Protection Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 5
Activation: 1
Duration: 20
Recharge: 7
Enchantment Spell. For 20 seconds, the next 30..150 damage target ally would take is negated.
  • Mend Condition (Protection Prayers)
  • Life Sheath [Elite] (Protection Prayers)
  • Holy Veil (Monk other)
  • Life Bond (Protection Prayers)
  • Mending (Healing Prayers)
  • Balthazar's Spirit (Smiting Prayers)
  • Blessed Signet (Divine Favor)
  • Bonetti's Defense (Tactics)

Boon Protector (Monk/Mesmer)
Used by: War Machine [WM] in game three against We Still Pwn Charr [Char]

Boon Signet
Boon Signet
Boon SignetBoon Signet [Elite]
Monk - Divine Favor - Signet
Activation: 1
Recharge: 5
Signet. Heal target ally for 5..35 Health. For each Enchantment on that ally, you gain 2 Energy. (Maximum 1..6 Energy.)
  • Divine Boon (Divine Favor)
  • Reversal of Fortune (Protection Prayers)
  • Mend Condition (Protection Prayers)
  • Boon Signet [Elite] (Divine Favor)
  • Drain Enchantment (Inspiration Magic)
  • Holy Veil (Monk other)
  • Hex Breaker (Domination Magic)
  • [Unknown]

Few teams were as innovative as War Machine during the first two playoff rounds. While others ran a Fast Cast spike, Hammer Ranger build or a slightly modified version of the usual split-pressure build, War Machine changed to something completely different. While they employed the preferred split strategy, they used two Assassins, two Warriors, at least one Mesmer and various support characters during the first two rounds of play.

War Machine split its team 4—4. Two Assassins, a Mesmer and one Monk made up the offensive team. Two Warriors and two Monks formed defense. This defensive team proved effective at holding off attackers, especially since Char wasn't equipped with much in the way of Enchantment removal (something that worked in War Machine's favor). While most characters use Mantra of Recall for Energy management, WM used Boon Signet in its place. To make full use of this skill, WM maintained several Enchantments on the Life Bonder which, when cast on the Boon Protector, allowed it to receive maximum Energy gain from Boon Signet and provide extra protection and healing.

Over an extended period, Boon Signet provides equal Energy gain as Mantra of Recall, provided you have the necessary Enchantments up. The difference between this and the usual setup is that the Energy gain here is instant, whereas with Mantra of Recall you must wait for the Enchantment to end or be removed before receiving the Energy bonus. Boon Signet uses no Energy, so it can be used when the Monk is out of power. The drawback to this is that you need to keep casting as soon as the skill is recharged. This creates extra downtime, but with the extra protection provided by the second Monk in the defensive couple, it should pose little problem. It's not a metagame changing setup, but for match play it works, and that's what matters.


Michael Thompson is twenty-three-year-old gamer originally from South Africa, who now lives in the UK. A proud member of The Amazon Basin guild, Michael enjoys both the PvE and PvP aspects of Guild Wars. His favorite professions are the Warrior and Necromancer, and he admits to being "pretty rubbish at playing a Monk." Michael's in-game name is Mickey of the Basin.