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 =)