View Full Version : One Dimensional Thought

09-05-2005, 17:25
I've noticed a lot of one dimensional thought in the way some people regard skills, and in many cases I see the same character building paradigms being applied to GW characters that are used to develop MMO characters (be it EQ, WoW, DAoC, etc.)

If anything, I think drawing those types of connections are going to hinder our ability to create powerful characters. I think first, and foremost, GW is a strategy game. Terminology like DPS, tank, healer, and all those buzzwords imported from MMOs are deterimental to building a character in GW. If you look at GW as a strategy game, like chess, try asking how much DPS the Italian Opening does.

Looking closely at GW, more parallels can be drawn to chess than to an MMO. The only similarities it bears to an MMO are atmosphere and user interface. The mechanics, rules, and strategies that lead to success are nothing like an MMO. If we build and play our characters like they are MMO characters, someone who's playing it like a strategy game will steamroll us every single time. While we try to maximize damage, he's systematically shutting down our victory scenarios.

I think it's faulty to view each skill on our bar as a way to cause damage. I think we're better served by viewing each skill as an opportunity to maneuver ourselves into a superior position. Examine a spell like Hex Breaker for example, if you cast that prior to getting into spell range, that can leave a hex-casting opponent severely crippled for his strategy. You'll have done 4 things
- Disabled his skill
- Prevented his skill from effecting you
- Caused him to use up energy for no effect
- Caused damage

If he was going to cast Backfire on you, now it's used up for 20 seconds, did nothing, he takes damage, and he used up energy. Because the activation times are the same, and having cast Hex Breaker at least a few seconds before, you'll have an opportunity to cast it again long before his Backfire is ready. If the hex was Defile Flesh, he'll still sacrifice his life too!

While powerful by itself, if you combine Hex Breaker with Arcane Thievery, that can completely shut down a caster. You've disabled 1/8th of his spells with Arcane Thievery, in addition to that you've protected yourself from any hexes (which may be 0 spells, but statistically is likely to be at least 1 spell. Due in part to the number of spells which are hexes, and the devastating effects of many hexes make them highly attractive).

Those two spells alone are enough to shut down a great number of "direct damage" types. Essentially, you'll have broken their build, depriving them of 1/4th of their skills while only using up 1/8th of your own (due to the fact that Arcane Trickery isn't so much "used" as it was exchanged).

Another attractive point is that Hex Breaker (and the similar line of "skill breaking" spells) don't have an activation time, while most hexes have an activation time of 2 - 3, so you can actually reserve using it until you see them casting and still be ahead of the game.

I'm not saying everyone should start using Arcane Trickery and Hex Breaker, what I'm saying is that the process of building and refining a character will need to be a lot deeper than designing the optimal damage to energy regeneration ratio. If anyone we face has so much as a single skill that interrupts a carefully designed "max dps" design, it becomes nearly impossible to win. If we're not careful about the habits that we import from MMOs, going for max dps is like shooting our hand out thinking "nothings beats rock".

Mostly this was written as a reminder for myself, but maybe it will help someone else too =)

09-05-2005, 18:14
I really liked this post, so much so that i created an account to post a reply. First i have to say that unlike chess where to win you make it so that the king cannot move, in gw i believe that you do need some type of damage or win condition. I used to play magic the gathering alot and i always played a counterspell deck. The key to that and to what i think your trying to say in your post is knowing what the other persons win condtion is and shutting that down. I think that in order for your suggestion on builds to work we need to know what the other types of characters are going to do. I think we should open up and talk about the different types of characters that are currently being played and then use this radical thinking of non dps driven characters to find ways to shut down our enemys. Well thats my random rambling on the subject.

Oh and by the way i'm new to guild wars, but i already have found this thinking to be the way i'm goign to try and play.

09-05-2005, 19:24
Excellent post, and I agree wholeheartedly.

One thing to remember is this is a very well-rounded game both PvE and PvP and the strategies employed for both will be different. In PvE you will need some way to do damage either yourself of by protecting teammates and henchmen. During PvP, I think it is being found veryquickly that DPS doesn't mean diddly. That is a chess match trying to determine how your opponent is going to attack and then counter it before it happens. I think this game has a lot in common with collectable card games such as Magic the Gathering. There you collect cards but you can only use a certain amount. Create the right deck of spells and you will devestate your opponent. However, should he have one card - that can ruin your entire plan. It seems like every character has that one card to trump a different player. The trick is building your party in GvG to have as many of those cards as possible to effectively shut down your opponent.


10-05-2005, 00:06
Very nice post. I'm interested to see how the whole community responds to it, so perhaps we can get it moved to the appropriate section of the forums.

Welcome to the forums everyone. :happy14:

10-05-2005, 00:17
Very nice post. I'm interested to see how the whole community responds to it, so perhaps we can get it moved to the appropriate section of the forums.

Welcome to the forums everyone. :happy14:

Heh, this IS the right forum for it :)
Seriously, this post could be titled: "Primary guidelines for Mesmers" and it wouldn't be out of place at all. Nice job :D

10-05-2005, 05:40
You have made an exellent point with this post, raisenero. Cheers to "template" and "DPS" becomming dirty words compred to "strategy" and "foresight".

Also, Cheers to this forum, where I have seen only intelligent conversation and constructive criticism. Here's to hoping it stays as such.

10-05-2005, 06:37
Funny thing about this line of thought is I could see a team going too far in the direction of strategy and wind up getting ganked by some team of noobs with an overly obvious dps/zerg/nuke strategy.

At the end of the day, damage has to come from *somewhere*... You can have 2 teams shutting each other down all day, but if nobody is dealing damage nobody is winning the damn battle!

But hey, at the end of the day, we're all noobs here... 3 months from now we'll have some perspective, imo ;)

10-05-2005, 07:04
In response to dealing damage, theres 8 actions you can take if you focus all on highest possible dps then you lose the point of the thread but if everyone takes 2-3 actions to shut down a paticular enemy, then in a team of 8 you could take out around 12 or so character types. Now that leaves 5-6 actions in your bar to deal damage with. Now if the actions your using to shut down your enemy are also dealing damage then you've killed 2 birds with one stone. I think that with enough thought and alot of communication within the team you can take some unused talents and turn them into game breakers. Now going back to the card game comparision, while playing the mtg i noticed that alot of the cards i used to win were cards noone used, but if you put 2 or more together then they become powerful. I think theres alot of such combos in this game and the trick is finding them.

10-05-2005, 08:16
People are already using strategy thinking when they create their builds. When you finish a build for your character, try to think in what order you will cast your spells and in what situation. Often times people (myself included) will find that there will be problems with their build before they even test it.

Planning strategy for your battles is always a good thing, but remember to be flexible. Sure think about recharge times, and other good stuff but remember that things will almost never go as you planned. For example you were talking about backfire, this will be stripped away very fast by one of his allies so if your entire strategy was relying on backfire lasting on him for 10 seconds then everything could collapse.

Also you seem to enjoy writing (I can tell by your long, thoughtful post). A little suggestion would be to "dumb-down" your writing. Using big words is fun and all, but using smaller words and being more concise will improve the flow of your short article.

10-05-2005, 17:29
I could see a team going too far in the direction of strategy and wind up getting ganked by some team of noobs...

Hehe, most definitely =) I've seen that happen in dozens of games. You play, thinking a few moves ahead, and assume the other player is doing the same thing and after he beats you he's like "Strategy? I was just trying to line up all my pieces in a row."

A little suggestion would be to "dumb-down" your writing.

I didn't think there was much to dumb down. Sometimes a more descriptive word is needed to get a point across. But I don't think most people interested in GW (and the Mesmer class) are going to be lost by anything I said. If I were going to submit an article I would more carefully edit it and try to be concise, but as a message board post, there was only so much time I was going to spend.

I see a lot of people using strategy for their builds, and I think that's great, I love when to read a new strategy to try, but I also see some people who think in terms of "What does the most damage?", my post was meant to highlight the differences between GW and an MMO, and why the same plan won't work. Posted in the Mesmer Strategy area because I play a Mesmer primary character, and the whole idea of strategy and subtlety is what Mesmer skills are all about. I have read a ton of great strategies, especially on this site's forums, and most of those are what inspired this post.

I don't really like writing, but it's a new game and one I'm more excited about than anything since Tribes 1. If this were a game like WoW or EQ2, I wouldn't have written much because there would be very little to say. "Get a better weapon, pick skills that do the most damage.". For a combat strategy "Press attack, stand there until it's dead and you're not."

But a game like this deserves to have a lot written about it =)

10-05-2005, 18:39
As a Mesmer, I'm finding my most difficult challenge is recognizing which target to focus on. As a newbie I'm just tabbing through till i find someone with casting classes as primary&secondary and put the hammer down on them as hard as I can. It seems like the best way to be effective is to learn popular strategies and be ready to counter them. The problem is that the other strategic thinkers out there may not be using popular strategies and so you will not be ready for them. So if you aren't targetting specific strategies, then you have to define a role for your character in the team (probably a duel role). This is where its necessary to become one-dimensional. dps/healer, caster killer, mana drainer, etc. You pick a dimension, and find a team that needs that dimension. Its not possible for you to ready for anything, so you have to pick a role.

I've decided that I want my role to be making a caster's life hell. Steal thier mana, interrupt/disrupt spell casting, etc. My biggest problem is picking the right target and knowing when to cast backfire, what to interrupt, etc. I'm hoping this will come from experience but the task seems very daunting. I'm hoping I can join a good guild soon and then they can tell me what to do, because in random teams there are just too many choices.

hmm... i think my post was a bunch of rambling, sorry for putting you all through it :)

10-05-2005, 19:52
A mesmer has so many choices to disable opponents.

It also depends on the fight.

For example, in random 4v4, using disabling skills such as backfire, power spike, energy burn, etc are great. A well timed backfire can seriously hurt (you don't just spam backfire on a caster and expect them to die, that'll only work against total idiots, but a well timed backfire can really hurt), and if you are using those skills on their monk while your warrior(s) are chasing him down, you'll likely be able to kill him. Totally disabling the monk wasn't needed, all it took was using those spells seriously hurt him if he casts (and if he doesn't cast heals, the war will finish him). The upside is that you can also start killing the other casters with those same spells. You might not totally disable a caster, but you do it enough to speed up the kill, and once that person dies, that's 1/4th of the team dead.

In 8v8 guild fights, I doubt damage is the best way to go. Sure you can add a little bit more damage, but it becomes much more important than you can totally shut someone down, rather than kill them with burst dps. That person will have backup healers, who can likely remove hexes, and you're better off putting someone out of the fight than trying to damage them. I think for those fights, energy denial will work better (unlike hexes, you can't just remove energy drains) and possibly spells like diversion. If you can drain a monk's entire energy and then toss diversion to put a serious cooldown on his spammable skill (usually reversal or orison), you likely completely shut down that monk. Few monks carry several 5 energy spammable heals, so now the monk is down to using 5 energy heals with a longer cooldown, and you make sure he doesn't get the energy to cast many (if any) spells costing more than 5 energy.

Same deal for melees. In random 4v4, empathy can really hurt melees, the damage adds up quick, and there's a good chance they won't even have a monk backing them up. Since paladins are so common in 4v4 (self sufficient), your anti-caster spells (energy burn, backfire, etc) also work pretty well against the paladin.

In 8v8 guild fights, I doubt the damage from empathy is enough to discourage a melee from attacking, and if one of your monks is being crushed, it's better to make sure the monk survives than to do a little bit of damage to a warrior, a target that is likely not being focus fired by your team anyway. So there you might go with skills like soothing images, sympathetic visage or ineptitude, so the warrior is not as much of a threat anymore.

Basically, I don't think that looking at damage spells is always a bad thing. Especially in small fights, I would look more towards damaging than disabling spells. However, in larger fights, you become more specialized, because that little extra dps won't help as much (and isn't really needed since you should have people who are specialized in dealing dmg).

Note: My guild vs guild experience is from beta, and it's been a while, so things might have changed or I might not have remember some things correctly. Feel free to point out flaws in my thought process if I'm wrong. ;)