Rofltations, Spam on Recharge, and Other Terrible Ideas
If someone tells you that Guild Wars 2 gameplay is all rotation or spam-on-recharge, then they are playing like scrubs. It’s that simple. I played Mesmer and Engineer mostly but also other professions, and I can think of many times when I used a skill at the wrong time and regretted it.
In fact, it’s harder to come up with weapon skill examples that should be spammed on recharge.
The following is based on my PvE experience, but of course applies even more to PvP. I’ll talk mostly about Mesmers and Engineers because I played those two professions the most, but I have found the same general principles to apply across all professions with very rare exceptions.
Mesmers – A Clone is a Precious Thing
First off, the Mesmer’s shatter skills need to be cast when you have enough illusions (clones and phantasms) yet before those get killed off or before you start having more than 3 (in which case you lose them). This is not really that hard to do, but it’s more complex than your standard rotation or spam-on-recharge, particularly because if you count how many times you hit the clone skill before hitting a shatter, you might have lost some of those clones and hence might waste that shatter.
Sword Mesmers get a skill that makes you jump on your foe and makes a clone of yourself. I used to spam that on recharge until I jumped on a boss that essentially one-shotted me. Actually, I didn’t learn my lesson yet, and I also kept spamming it until I jumped in the middle of a big fight and also died instantly from all the AoE damage going on there. A few deaths later, I actually pay attention to what I’m targeting when I cast it.
Sending clones into AoE is also wasting the skill. That is true whether you cast a clone knowing that he’ll appear or run into AoE, or whether you hit the shatter key knowing full well that this makes them run to their target, meaning they’ll cross any and all AoE’s on their way there. If you wait for the AoE to expire before doing those actions, then your clones and shatters will likely do their full effect.
The second sword skill has been changed to one that slashes and also gives you some self-protection. Frankly, you’re better off spamming 1 and keeping that skill for when you are actually under attack. It’s damage isn’t high enough to make it spam-worthy.
The torch skill “the prestige” is only useful if you’re surrounded by foes, in which case you are probably already dead. If you are not, now is the perfect time to use it to get out of trouble. Spamming it on recharge is a bad bad terrible no-no idea because it’s only useful if surrounded, and as a Mesmer, you do NOT want to be constantly surrounded by foes.
These are not exceptions. These are illustrative examples.
Engineers – Control is a Terrible Thing to Waste
Admittedly, it’s easier to play a straight damage build… especially if you lack a weapon swap like engineers do. However, you’re still a scrub if you spam your attack skills on recharge.
The rifle has some interesting skills. The net is obviously useless against immobile foes. Both the blunderbuss and overcharged shots are completely useless against foes that are far from you. The jump shot is good to close distances, but one way I loved to use it was as a short-range AoE, as using it that way I could hit clustered foes twice for a pretty solid damage. Generally though, a good tactic is to jump to foe, blunderbuss, hit overcharged shot, and hit him with the net if and when he tries to close the gap towards you… otherwise spam 1 until all the skills recharge and do it again. If you spam on recharge, you’ll end up wasting a lot of skills because you’re simply at the wrong range, and generally do less damage than if you spam 1 like a scrub. Oh, and I actually used overcharge to interrupt a foe casting a blue version of meteor shower. I am that awesome.
The dual pistol setup is also quite interesting. The dart volley can hit a single foe multiple times, provided you are quite close to it, or hit multiple foes within a cone. It has a good range, but shoots randomly so it makes for poor aiming. Best used against a big group, or against a single nearby foe. I learned not to use it against single far foes, because against those you are better off spamming 1. The static shot bounces off of nearby foes. It’s decent AoE at any range. The first hit is accurate at a range. It’s a terrible skill to use as a pull, because it’ll pull 2-3 foes if they were clustered. A few times I spammed static shot only to find myself being attacked by more foes than I could handle. The glue shot is a good snare, again, useless against immobile foes. And the flame shot only works at close range. Despite that, I kept spamming flame shot against distant foes, wasting it entirely.
Healing allies takes situational awareness. You can easily waste healing skills on allies that don’t need it, to have it on cooldown when they do need it. Or you can throw a ground-targeted heal only to see your ally pursue the next foe and get out of its range of effectiveness before it has a chance to make an effect.
Again, these are not exceptions. These are illustrative examples.
General – Lots of Skills Have Little Effect if Used Wrong
Many block skills put you in a channelling trance where you continue the block until cancelled or until it gets used up. Cast it at the wrong time, and you’re just standing there like an idiot waiting for someone to clobber you. Of course, you can cancel the trance and go back to attacking, but doing that will make your precious skill recharge after being completely wasted.
A lot of skills also have close to no effect if used wrong. By that, I mean that some skills are meant to be used at a distance, others only work well nearby, others work well against clusters of foes, others snare thus are useless against immobile foes. The rule of thumb is that you’d rather use your spam 1 attack than use a skill wrong. At least with the spam 1 attack, you are more-or-less guaranteed to do damage without actually wasting a precious cooldown, and the spam 1 damage is usually much better than that of a badly-used skill. Skills 2-5 are stronger than skill 1, but generally only if used right.
Many skills also either do no damage or very little damage, and are thus are mainly useful in their utility. That means that if the utility they provide is not needed, you’re better off spamming 1.
Foes also come with a short description of what they do. Some stun, some knock back, some cause bleeding, some self-heal, etc. This makes it possible to pick which skills to use when in order to deal with the foes more effectively. To give a few examples… One foe has a block that reflects projectiles. He puts his shield forward, has a blue wave thingy surround him, and there I am like an idiot shooting at him repeatedly only to see my shots bouncing back into my face. I eventually learned to wait until the skill ends, or cancel my attack when he does that, because otherwise I was wasting cooldowns while killing myself. I’ve also met many foes that bury down into the ground to move around, which means any attack you do while they are underground are wasted.
Although there are skills that interrupt, the lack of activation bar basically makes it really hard to know when to use those skills. You can spam those on recharge, I guess, that would be somewhat effective. But then there’s the one time I used the rifle’s overcharged shot to interrupt a foe, and it was just awesome. My hope though is that with enough experience, one could learn the animation of foes and learn when to interrupt based on that.
If someone tells you to spam-on-recharge even in PvE, they are noob. They can claim to be top-tier PvE or even PvP players all they want, they simply lack the intelligence or experience to adapt to Guild Wars 2’s system… not that they had much time to learn to play well if they just got into the beta this weekend.
Don’t get me wrong… spam-on-recharge can still get you places, killing things, keeping you alive, especially if you master the art of strafing and dodging. But it’s clear from my beta experience that it’s a sub-standard gameplay. And by this I don’t mean a 10% reduction in damage, I mean probably closer to 30-60% reduction. Plus you’ll be getting hit a lot more often because you’d also be badly using snares and pushbacks and blocks, which means that your self-defense abilities would also suffer.
And yes, I admit, I badly used a lot of my skills a lot of times. I know this because in most cases, it’s pretty easy to see when you’re badly using a skill: I do little or no damage, I for example get only 1 stack of bleed instead of 3-4 stacks on my blunderbuss, I miss my target or hit it only with one shot instead of 4-5 on spread shots, I get the “out of range” warning for short-range shots that are on my long-range weapons, I snare stuff that doesn‘t move, I over-aggro because I used an AoE at the wrong time, I get into a blocking stance but nothing is hitting me, I hit something like a wall that was between my foe and I, I hit a foe that was obviously in defensive mode like worms while they are underground or those foes with shields that reflect shots back to you, or I shoot off ground-targeted AoE‘s at moving foes that end up outside the AoE range by the time it hits.
It’s easy to learn to use skills well, because the game provides a lot of feedback on how you’re supposed to use your skills. If you’re actually looking at the screen, that is, instead of your cooldown bar as most of us have been trained to do. I don’t blame the scrubs for being scrubs here, playing Guild Wars 2 well will take some re-learning, but the learning curve is gentle.
I also played Necromancer, Guardian, and Ranger, and many weapons each. Out of all the builds I played, the only noticeable exception was the grenade kit, which seemed pretty good played as spam-on-recharge. Everything else required skill to play well. Everything else, you were better off spamming 1 and waiting for the right time to use 2-5.