Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Guild Wars: How To Ranger at the Ball

I mentioned the other day that with a Ranger you can out-duel almost everyone. Since the Brawl is drawing to a close (It'll be back, though, in one way or another), I thought I'd give away the family jewels and reveal how it's done.

The basics are simple. You have mobility, damage, defense, and, best of all, disruption in ways that no one else does. How you beat someone else is by playing to where you have the advantage over them. You deal a considerable amount of pressure damage through Apply Poison (condition removal is weak here so it'll stick around.) and Burning Arrow. You're not going to kill anyone in three hits or anything but you can slowly but surely bleed them dry through your degen. You can kill anyone else. And with Troll and Stride, you have enough defense to survive nearly everyone. Because, in addition to packing one of the only block defenses in the environment, you also pack two hard interrupts and can take out anything that bothers you, provided you can hit it. And with Stride you can also tear ass around the map, and with Pin Down you can keep anyone from doing the same. Using those tools, given the time and opportunity, you can wipe any other piece off the board.

Here's how:

Warrior - You can beat a Warrior with two skills. Pin Down and D-Shot. Cripple them and get their HealSig and it's all over. Make sure to use your degen if you don't want to spend five minutes killing them off, of course. Watch out for good Wars. They're tricky and will try to cancel out so your interrupts miss but that's okay because that just means they spend a lot of time not moving and waving their arms ineffectually while they degen off a lot of health, making that sig recover a lot less of their bar. They shouldn't get in Bull's Strike range but if they do, stop moving - cast Troll or something. And, if you get in trouble, remember Natural Stride has a 50% block rate.

Assassin - Here's how you beat a Sin. Stand still, bait them into porting to you - if you want you can Cripple them in advance if they're going to be a little prick and dance around the aggro bubble. You might think this is suicidal but remember that they don't have an IAS (beyond the bonus from some shrines.). So you have plenty of time to pick off one of their attack skills with D-Shot or Savage. Hit part of their chain and the rest of it falls flat. They might nail you with Golden Phoenix but if you fizzle Horns of the Ox then they can't land Falling Lotus and they won't have enough energy for Twisting Fangs. Not for a while anyway. You can try to get Golden Phoenix because that royally hoses them. I prefer to get a D-Shot on the Ox as that's the one that really scares me and it can be a little hard to anticipate when to fire off a shot after they teleport - it leaves you open to a Twisting Fangs but it takes them a while to get enough energy, generally, and that's all the time I need. But you generally know Ox or Fangs is following the off-hand. Once that happens they're annoying buggers who'll use Shadow Refuge and cancel Aura to confound you but the only thing they can do to hurt you is rely on their basic dagger attack, if they can actually reach you - because unless they can get a condition on you they can't remove anything on them, so your Cripples and Poisons will stick. If something goes wrong then hit Natural Stride, cross your fingers, and Troll up, kite away, and try again the next time they try to land a chain. Odds are you'll block something in their chain and survive.

Dervish - A Dervish is a pain, true. If you have half a chance at interrupting Melandru's before it goes up then you absolutely have to take it - and yes, some people are stupid enough to Form up right in your face. But if you can't then you have a hard hitting giant tree that's immune to conditions. And conditions are how you really do your damage. You can't crip and kite, you can't degen them to death, and they have a lot of health to chip away while they do a ton of damage along with a cheap Deep Wound thrown in for good measure. Fortunately, they don't pack anything like disruption (Well, they have Rending Touch but you don't have any enchants) so while the Form is up all you can do is rely on Natural Stride to block and kite (Which doesn't really work so well since Pious Haste lasts so long but the key here is mitigation, every step you take is one more they have to cover to hit you and that sends their outrageous DPS dropping.) while you chip away at them - Burning Arrow won't set them on fire but it does extra damage so it'll hurt them - and your elemental armor helps you out while their form is up. Once their form goes down then they're like a Warrior with lower armor. They don't have much in the way of healing, either, and if you can pick off Vital Boon then they're going to be hurting. Still, your best bet is to avoid fighting them while they have their Melandru's up. Wait them out by running them around and taking pot shots as needed. But they can't stop you and you can't kill them, basically. So, it's the rare wash.

Mesmer - I'll be honest, Mesmers generally give me fits. Lot of scrambling and skin of the teeth victories. They're probably the hardest to beat one on one, for me. But they're also one of the rarest professions at the Costume Ball so they don't show up much. The problem is they have a lot of interrupts and will probably be able to knock out your Troll or Poison - Leech Signet and Complicate can both make those go click. Empathy is a joke, really, as is most of their offense, you can just attack through. But Surge/Burn/Feast means you're going to be sucking on empty a lot once the fight gets underway. You will not have a lot of energy and won't have a lot of time before it gets sucked away. Which means you're going to be relying on your standard attack more than you should. The solution, I think, is to get aggressive. If you know you're in for a fight with a Mes what you want to do is get your Apply Poison and Troll up before engaging and then hammer away with you skills before they start e-denying you. You want them Poisoned and Crippled and halfway dead before they start to work on you. Forget about Empathy, Empathy is a joke, you'll regen right through it and it'll take something like 15 attacks before you kill yourself even if you don't, what you want to D-Shot is Ether Feast. Take the fight to them and hopefully you'll either scare them off or get them low enough that you or your degen can finish them off before they can go to work. I suspect I have so much trouble with Mesmers because I'm too conservative and defensively oriented a player to really go balls to the wall crazy fuck mad berserker and just attack, attack, attack - I'm much more of the plink and run mindset.

- Easy pickings, really. You'll rarely find these guys alone and it's easy to see why. Big glass jaw here. They're got a bunch of degen but you have Troll. They can Weaken you or slow your attack rate but you'll be degening them to death, not using your weapon's attack rate. And they have a bunch of lengthy casting skills that are interrupt bait. You have the advantage of a longer range, too, so, really, Necros should run in terror when you crest the horizon. It's not like they melt as soon as you breathe on them but it's pretty close. But, anyway, hit their skills - Reaper's and Life Siphon are the big ones to get - and make sure you have your prep up, that's about all there is to it. Oh, some of them will run up to use Plague Touch but that just makes them easier to Cripple and/or hit in the face with a Burning Arrow.

Elemenetalist - Your typical Ele will be cocky because they have a lot of damage and the almighty in the Costume Arena Steam to handle any physical characters. It's the bane of Warriors and Sins and even Paragons. But not Rangers. Because you have Antidote Signet which recharges in 4 seconds while Steam takes 8. Antidote Signet doesn't cure much but it does take care of Blindness. If you get hit with Steam, chuckle to yourself while you hit your sig and then proceed to pound the Elementalist into dust. Because you're also wearing the best armor against elemental damage. They won't hit you for as much as they'd like. And for most Eles, it's really easy to pluck off their spells, too. You know they're going to be spamming SF. You know how long it takes to recharge. Odds are if you venture a D-Shot you'll hit that or Glowing Gaze or Steam or GLE. Something vital, in other words. I have become an expert at plucking off Steam - it's easy to tell it's coming since you have to be ablaze first - and if I can do it, so can anyone. Keep Pin Down in mind in case they Djinn up and try to kite on you; snares are greater than run buffs and that'll keep them in range and from dodging.

Paragon - First, stop laughing. Yes, the Paragon sucks. And, yes, a Paragon trying to split by themselves is a Paragon who doesn't know what they're doing. But, you know, it happens. They can actually pack quite a whallop - you're a sitting duck for Cruel Spear since you'll likely be standing there trying to shoot them. If, of course, you let them. Natural Stride works against spear attacks, too, and you should be using it as often as you can while sticking and moving in between shots. Let your degen do its work. Let them waste time with Remedy Signet, if they want, they don't have any interrupts so you can keep Poison up and put it right back on with every shot. Paragons don't tend to kite but I like to Cripple them anyway, mostly because I'm a dick. But as long as you can interrupt Leader's Comfort, then you'll be able to mop the floor with them.

Monk - This will not be a quick or easy fight. But a Monk is most problematic when they're backing someone else up. By themselves, and staring down the business end of your interrupting machine, they're not so tough. They just won't go down quickly. There are two kinds of Monks you'll run into. The ones who, under duress, turn into healers. And the ones who turn into Smiters. The Smiters are going to be using Signet of Judgement and Bane Signet to knock you down before healing up. SoJ you want to pluck off if you can - it's tricky but, basically, you should just spam your interrupts at the Monk, odds are you'll hit something good. With Bane Signet, if you see it coming, stop attacking, use it as an opptunity to Troll up or put on your Poison (Do not. Repeat, do not, try to put those on until you know your opponent's just used SoJ otherwise you will get interrupted.). The healers will start spam healing once you start attacking them, they will use their offensive skills but only as an afterthought. They will use Smite Condition, so try and stay out of melee range, but you should just reapply your poison anyways and if you've Crippled them, it should be covered, so it doesn't really matter. Signet of Devotion is interrupt bait if they're stupid enough to use it while fighting you and whether or not you want to take it out depends on your energy reserves - again, it's the kind of thing that's much better in a group instead of a a one on one situation, there they can cast it and you'll run across it halfway through the animation and you'll have to make a quick mental calculation about flighttimes, squaring off, on the other hand, while you're staring at their health bar, it's as fat and juicy as they get. And Divine Intervention is annoying but nothing you can't power through. What you absolutely, positively have to disable is Breeze. You cannot let them Breeze up and ruin all your degen. You have to take that out.

Ritualist - Like the Monk, the Ritualist is a pain when they're tagging along behind a Warrior or a Sin or, worse, another Ranger. Then, the other character is just enough of a threat to keep you from focusing on them completely while they make that teammate better. Alone, they have a bunch of long casting spirits that if you can't interrupt you need to hang up your bow and retire in shame (If they're already up, that's another matter. I generally ignore Bloodsong while making Preservation a priority. But if Bloodsong is being a pain remember that spirits are affected by Burning now. One BA and a normal shot is generally enough to take one out.). Likewise, they have damage dealing skills and spells with healthy enough casts that you should be able to hit them reliably. Once they can't cast or can't heal, then they go down quickly since they don't have any way to stop your hits from landing. Unlike a Monk, they don't have any knockdowns or other ways of disrupting you, so you'll be able to attack unabated. Mend Body and Soul is the spell you want to take out most, especially if there are spirits around, but otherwise they have no way to remove Cripple and that means that they can't even dodge well.

Ranger - The mirror match. Fighting another Ranger is mostly about which of you has the better reflexes and the better luck but there are some things you can do to increase your odds of winning. This comes down to head games, really, because what you want to do is make sure you can put up your Apply Poison and Troll Unguent and they can't. If you can regen and degen while they're stuck without then you win the fight. If you can't then you lose, it's that simple. So, what you really have to worry about is the D-Shot. Use the terrain to your advantage. Hug walls, try and peek out around corners to land a shot, press up against ledges so they can't shoot down, or hover away so they can't shoot up, you know the deal. Keep in mind that most shrines have raised parts that you can use for cover, obstructing your opponent's view. That's a much safer bet, especially if you know the terrain, than relying on Natural Stride. But you'll wind up doing that sooner or later, and when you do you're gambling that their interrupt is going to get blocked while you get your prep on. Won't always work, of course, but it can save you in a jam (Really, the way to go is to cancel bait the interrupts then prep with impunity.). They'll be doing the same and you just have to play the odds and hope your shots land through their cover to disable those key skills. Otherwise, it's a bowslingers duel so the other thing to keep in mind is arrow dodging. If you and your opponent are firing at range, releasing your arrows at the exact same time, you have enough time from when your shot gets fired to when theirs lands to move safely out of the way of the arrow's arc. Try this, when you're about to complete your shot, mouse click somewhere to the side of your character, you'll move a few feet and your opponent's arrow should fall harmlessly to the ground. Won't always work but you'll be really happy when it does. I prefer to work in a bit closer and to Crip up my opponent so they can't dodge, while I rely on interrupts and Natural Stride but I also don't like to mouse move, so there it is.

Above all, remember that if worse comes to worse you can always bug out. Hit Stride and tuck your tail between your legs. As long as you haven't gotten killed you've kept your opponent from adding to the score total and that's good enough to declare victory and head home. This doesn't work when you're down to 50 hit points but if you leave a fight with a reasonable amount of health you have enough armor and enough speed that you can probably get Troll up or get safely away. Get your regen on and you can try again. Or you can move on to another battle.

When it comes to fighting multiple opponents, I have a simple piece of advice: don't. Unless you can avoid it you shouldn't be trying to take on two or three enemies at a single time (Unless you're like me and are both supremely confident and stupid.). And when you're in a duel, if you see support running up to help your foe, that's when it's time to make a hasty exit. It can be done but it's difficult and after a good fight you'll be running low on energy and unable to do anything, so it's not really worth the bother.

When fighting in a group against a group, though, most of the same tatcis hold true. You want to keep the melee characters pinned, you want to disrupt the Eles and Sins before they do a lot of damage, even when there's more than one of them around. When targeting, focus on the characters who can ruin your day first - make sure you knock out Steam or have that enemy Ranger kiting away because you're pelting them - before you concentrate on the characters like Rits and Monks who'll be keeping others alive. Remember to switch targets every so often to spread your poison around. Watch for a key skill to take out with an interrup. And get in the habit of ducking behind a wall or hitting Stride before you use Troll or Apply.

No comments: