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State of the Game—September 11, 2006

All Aboard the Warrior Train

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.


Players everywhere love the Warrior train. Perhaps second only to the Boon Prot backline, it's one of the favorite components of top guild strategies. Its popularity rests on a combination of constant pressure and deadly spikes, at the cost of staying in melee range.

So why is it called a "Warrior train?" When several Warriors who are spread out suddenly collapse at the same time on one enemy, that enemy often runs away, squealing in terror. Because the Warriors want to unload adrenaline-charged attacks on their target, they will continue to chase, resulting in a long line that literally looks like a train. Think of the target as a locomotive, pulling attackers along behind him. In voice chat, Monks often call out "Warrior train on six!," which lets the team know a Monk needs help fending off an assault.

Successful trains can consist of up to four Warriors (any more than four Warriors and trains lose effectiveness), but the most common setup is two. Here is a basic example of how to set up a Warrior train:

Warrior 1
Profession: Warrior/Elementalist
Weapon: Axe (+15% dmg. while in Stance or while Health is above 50%)
Skills: Eviscerate, Executioner's Strike, Frenzy, Sprint, Resurrection Signet, Shock, Bull's Strike, Healing Signet

Warrior 2
Profession: Warrior/Assassin
Weapon: Hammer (+15% dmg. while in Stance or while Health is above 50%)
Skills: Devastating Hammer, Crushing Blow, Frenzy, Sprint, Irresistible Blow, Fierce Blow, Death's Charge, Resurrection Signet

The combination of Axe and Hammer works because they both deal massive spike damage, and if one of them misses with their skill that causes Deep Wound, the other may hit. A Warrior/Assassin in this setup Shadow Steps right before a spike, giving the enemy team no warning of the impending spike.

Note that this is just one example, and that there are many other variations that can be effective. For instance, a Warrior shouting "Charge!" makes the train faster and harder to stop. Warriors leading with "Charge!" often prefer swords so they can use non-elite spiking combos such as Galrath Slash/Final Thrust or Sever Artery/Gash.

Eviscerate
Eviscerate
EviscerateEviscerate [Elite]
Warrior - Axe Mastery - Attack
Adrenaline: 8
Activation: 0
Recharge: 0
Attack. If Eviscerate hits, you strike for +1..31 damage and inflict a Deep Wound, lowering your target's maximum Health by 20% for 5..20 seconds.

Eviscerate is by far the most popular Warrior elite skill, and for good reason. When the Deep Wound effect hits at the same time as the bonus damage, you can instantly drop the enemy's Health by around 200. Follow it with Executioner's Strike and you have an incredibly powerful spike for just one character.

Frenzy is a superb skill for Warriors because it gives a longer, more powerful attack speed boost than any other skill that costs five Energy. The negative side, of course, is that you take double damage from all sources (other than life steals). While Warriors can generally sustain much more damage than other professions, they will fall if spiked while in the Frenzy Stance. Therefore, it makes sense to bring another Stance (usually Sprint) to override Frenzy. Besides Frenzying to build adrenaline faster, activate it right as you spike so that your follow-up attack hits quickly after your first one.

If the enemy team sports Blackout, be careful when using Frenzy because they might see you use it and prevent you from canceling it with Sprint. If this happens, run away as fast as you can until your Frenzy wears off on its own, and alert your healers.


Tactical ways to counter the Warrior train

As with most builds, the easiest way to kill opponents is to spike them with a sudden burst of damage. Warriors are good at this, but they have a weakness: they must be in melee range to do it. Usually, Warriors build adrenaline on the nearest target and wait for a spike. When all Warriors have full adrenaline they collapse on one enemy, often a Monk, and spike it to death. This is where you can stop them. Keep an eye on the compass, and when your opponents simultaneously converge on one player, save that player with spike counters such as Protective Spirit or Infuse Health. If you are the target, don't waste time casting—run!

Running away greatly reduces the Warrior train's efficiency. Do not wait until a Warrior gets within melee range; flee as soon as he heads for you. If you let him get close enough, he can knock you down and unleash his spike combination while you're prone. Even though Warriors can move faster than others using Sprint and similar skills, running from an enemy's attack reduces the amount of hits they score, hampering their ability to deal damage as well as gain adrenaline. If possible, run through Traps and wards set up by your allies, or lead the train into one of your friendly body-blocking allies.

As mentioned above, you can use Blackout to kill Warriors that use Frenzy recklessly. Watch for Monks applying Protective Spirit to Frenzied Warriors. Protective Spirit has a noticeable animation and sound effect, so if you have Enchantment removal, use it after you see this spell cast.

There is also another way to disrupt Warrior damage that is often underutilized: body-blocking. Simply step in the way of the Warrior as he goes off to harass someone behind you. While often difficult against skilled Warriors, it can be extremely effective against players who use only spacebar to follow their target. If you coordinate your efforts, you can trap Warriors in narrow hallways or on bridges, forcing them to stay and fight rather than pull back after they fail a spike. If your own Warriors get trapped, use AoE damage (Smiting works well) so the body-blockers either move or die.


Strategic ways to prepare for the Warrior train

First and foremost, equip skills that block or evade attacks. The best Enchantment for this is Aegis as it covers the entire team, but it is usually not enough on its own. Other good skills are Ward Against Melee, Guardian, and Displacement. These are all fairly hard to counter and will help both when Warriors are building adrenaline and when they are trying to spike. Be aware that the enemy team will count on you to bring Aegis so they will have Enchantment removals on their Skill Bars.

Weapon of Shadow
Weapon of Shadow
Weapon of ShadowWeapon of Shadow
Ritualist - Restoration Magic - Weapon Spell
Energy: 10
Activation: 1
Duration: 4..10
Recharge: 20
Weapon Spell. For 4..10 seconds, target ally has a Weapon of Shadow. Whenever that ally is struck by an attack, that ally's attacker becomes Blinded for 5 seconds.

The second most popular way is to bring skills that cause Blindness. A Warrior that is Blinded is rendered almost completely useless, missing ninety-percent of attacks. These skills are generally a little easier for opponents to counter because all it takes is for an enemy Monk to use a Condition removal. However, Blindness skills are very popular because it's easy to disrupt a spike with them. Blind a Warrior at the right time, and he will waste all his built-up adrenaline. The most commonly used one is Blinding Flash, but skills like Ineptitude, Shadowsong, Dust Trap, Throw Dirt, and Weapon of Shadow are also good.

The third way to counter Warriors strategically is to carry skills that disrupt adrenaline gain. The Binding Ritual Soothing and the Mesmer's Soothing Images are good at this. Consider taking Blackout, which will not only reset the Warrior's adrenaline, but also disable his skills for a short amount of time.

Muddy Terrain
Muddy Terrain
Muddy TerrainMuddy Terrain
Ranger - Wilderness Survival - Nature Ritual
Energy: 5
Activation: 5
Duration: 30..90
Recharge: 30
Nature Ritual. Create a level 1..10 Spirit. Non-Spirit creatures within its range move 10% slower and speed boosts have no effect. This Spirit dies after 30..90 seconds.

Lastly, skills that slow down movement are useful to derail a Warrior train. A well-timed Cripple or Imagined Burden can ruin a spike by preventing part of the Warrior train from reaching the enemy in time. If not all Warriors hit at once, your Monks have time to react. This works best if opposing Monks are busy and cannot remove the slowdown. Good skills for this are Crippling Shot, Traps, Shared Burden, Imagined Burden, Deep Freeze, Ice Spikes, Ice Prison, and Muddy Terrain.

There are other miscellaneous skills that do a decent job of shutting Warriors down. Clumsiness, Reckless Haste, Spirit of Failure, Price of Failure, and Distortion are all fairly common. These skills interfere with the normal rate of a Warrior's attack speed and chance to hit.

Good luck out there, and keep an eye on your compass!


Adam 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].