Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Guild Wars 2: Downed State, Stability, and Fear

Hello, this movie will discuss downed state, the importance of stability with respect to downed state, and the potential importance of fear for countering stability.  I say the "potential importance" of fear because it is not yet clear if fear is meant to be a counter to stability or not.  The tooltip for stability says that it works against fear but that is not the case in game.  IMO, I believe that it is the tooltip that is in error and that ArenaNet does intend for fear to be a counter to stability.  Time will tell.

I went through three phases with respect to how I felt about the downed state.  In the first BWE, it was "I hate this."  In BWE2, it was "Okay, I don't like this but I guess I can put up with it."  In BWE3 it was "Hrm, downed state introduces some interesting mechanics and tension to close fights in the game."  The dynamic of a fight changes drastically when a player is downed, and the stakes are very high when there are downed players on both sides of a fight.  There are mechanics and abilities specifically designed around the downed phase of a fight.  Teams and players who chose to ignore those mechanics and abilities will suffer the consequences.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guild Wars 2: Warriors, Dodge, and You

Hello, this is my first BWE3 movie.  The main focus of this movie is on evading and avoiding attacks.  I'm using the burst warrior as my opponent in this movie for a variety of reasons.  First, their attacks are relatively easy to identify (and thus avoid) when compared to the other GW2 professions.  Second, pretty much everyone is familiar with greatsword and axe warriors due to Moldran popularizing them.  And third, there have been a lot of player complaints about burst build warriors.

There is no doubt that a greatsword/axe warrior can put out tremendous burst, but they need to set it up and generally they need the support of a team to execute that burst.  I'll leave it for the tournament players to talk about that aspect of the burst warrior.  What I'm going to talk about are 1v1 situations against a warrior.

Now, you might say that 1v1s don't matter in this game but you would be wrong.  A point defender or attacker is going to be forced into 1v1 situations quite often.  For the defender, it's not necessarily about winning the fight it's about holding off the attacker long enough for help to arrive.  Of course, if you are able to beat or drive off an attacker 1v1 that benefits your team greatly since they can send resources elsewhere.

With that said, a burst warrior is probably not the best choice for a solo point attacker as will be demonstrated in the movie.  If you are able to evade and/or avoid the warrior's burst combinations they are going to find themselves losing pretty badly.  If you turn that around and look at it from the warrior's point of view that means that everything depends on their opponent.  If their opponent has a bunch of blocks, blinds, roots, etc then the warrior is going to have a difficult time winning the fight.  If their opponent is good at evading attacks then the warrior is going to have a difficult time winning the fight.  If their opponent is a master at PFL then the warrior is going to have a difficult time winning the fight.

In the movie I talk about three different ways to avoid a burst warrior's attacks.

1.  Anticipation

Avoiding a warrior's attack through anticipation requires predictability from the warrior and game knowledge from the defender.  I give several examples of using anticipation in the movie.  For those warriors who watched Moldran's movies, equipped a greatsword and axe, and went out to pwnfaec you might want to pay special attention to those parts of the movie.

2.  Reaction

This one is the hardest to explain.  Sometimes when I look back at clips and see what I have avoided I can't really pinpoint how I did it.  Perhaps I can see into the future.  Perhaps my evil future self uses a time machine to manipulate events as they unfold around me.  Maybe it's just PFL.  I don't always know.

It can be pretty hard to distinguish between reaction and PFL.  Evading eviscerates from full range is one thing but evading point blank eviscerates is another.  On the eviscerates, I'm typically reacting to both sight and sound.  If someone jumps up in the air, spins around like a maniac, and savagely lunges at you with an axe while making a swooshing sound in real life you would probably move out of the way.  That applies to games as well, right?

Perhaps it's my training from jumping intercepts and charges in World of Warcraft, but I just naturally react to the sudden burst in speed and swooshing sound that a player makes when doing eviscerates or using gap closers.  How I have my dodge bound also plays a key factor in this.  I've grown accustomed to putting defensive abilities that I need to use quickly on mousewheel scroll back.  You can't bind to mousewheel directly at the moment so I bound dodge to "j" on my keyboard and then bound "j" to my mousewheel.  You should probably avoid using double tap to dodge.  Binding dodge to your keyboard is fine but you will be a fractions of a second faster if it is bound to your mouse and those fractions of a second do count in this game.

3.  PFL

PFL stands for Pure Kitten Luck.  No more explanation is really needed on this one.  ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guild Wars 2: Where is the Skill?

Link to Reddit thread on the movie
Link to GW2 Guru thread on the movie

Lately, there have been some complaints that Guild Wars 2 PvP lacks complexity and depth and also lacks skill.  That is, "all you do is mash buttons as they come off of cooldown."  I want to address the complexity and depth criticism first since that one does have some validity.

When you have your weapons and utilities set up, you really don't have that many abilities to manage.  Furthermore, much of the action/counteraction play in Guild Wars 2 has been simplified when compared to other games.  Just as a very basic example, let's take a TBC era rogue from World of Warcraft.  Evasion and cloak of shadows were two of several defensive abilities available to the rogue.  Evasion worked against melee attacks while cloak worked against spells.  It would be considered bad play to use evasion against a spell or cloak against a melee attack.  In GW2, your defensive abilities pretty much work against anything that is thrown at you.  You don't need to choose a specific defensive manuever to counter a specific type of attack.  This is an example of what people mean when they say GW2 lacks in depth and complexity, and they are right in this respect.

There are many different ways to avoid an attack in Guild Wars 2.  You can dodge the attack.  You can block the attack.  You can blind the attack.  You can stun the attack, and so on.  You don't have to choose any of these counters over another because of the type of attack that is coming your way.  That decision process has been mostly removed and thus that aspect of PvP has been somewhat dumbed down in Guild Wars 2.

So, does that mean it doesn't take skill to succeed in Guild Wars 2?  No, it takes skill and in some respects it take more skill than other games.  Skill is a hard thing to define.  One way to measure skill is in how you react to an opposing player's actions.  In order to react to what an opposing player is doing, you first have to know exactly what it is that they are doing.  This is where Guild Wars 2 is a bit more difficult than some other games.  Some other games have dumbed down this aspect of PvP by adding castbars into the UI.  Castbars and cast times nearly make it trivial to react to or interrupt what an opposing player is trying to do to you.  To make matters worse, some other games allow UI mods to dumb this down even farther.  There are actually UI Mods that play a voice file telling you what your opponents are doing.

You aren't going to have that luxury in Guild Wars 2 and I suspect that some of the people complaining that all you do is mash buttons in GW2 are people who have grown too reliant on UI mods in other games.  In Guild Wars 2, you won't be playing your UI.  You will be playing the game.  You will have to use both sight and sound to be aware of what your opponent is doing.  That will require learning the animations and sounds of pretty much every move in the game.  You will need to do this since it won't just be enough to learn what abilities you need to avoid.  You will also need to learn what abilities you don't need to avoid so you can conserve your counters and your dodge rolls for the moves that really do matter.  That is going to require a substantial amount of game knowledge.  In general, it's also going to require some pretty impressive reaction times.

Most abilities in GW2 are instant with fast animations.  That's not always the case, of course.  Some things like the rifle warrior's kill shot are channeled and are therefore easier to avoid.  Some animations, like the hammer animations are slower and therefore easier to avoid.  However, many animations are quite fast and it will take considerable reaction speed to, first of all, notice what ability is being used based upon the animation and then being fast enough to counter the move with dodge, blind, block, knockback, knockdown, stun or whatever else you might have available to you.

The action in Guild Wars 2 can be quite fast paced and being able to consistently avoid many of it's abilities will be similar to being able to consistently counter blinds with shadow word: death in WoW.

Be sure to use the CC option on Youtube.  It's quite enlightening and helpful!

"Hello, missus record kato's though and I want to take some time to talk a little bit about skill plant our latest course too.   One measure of skills is how you react to an opposing player's actions.  Are your reaction harvey keitel? 

Some other teams supplied the process by adding kaspar said he thought.  Kaspar spurgeon almost trivial reacted but not the player's actions.  Some games even allow mods popovich text of what you're going to be excusing but you could please audio sound file telling you what ability proposing. Players he's come to realize that you are not super quick to have a hard time transition to get worse too because you're going to have to react based off of innovations contained celebs. 

Here's an example of reacting based off of an animation.  Notice house's warrior has pulled their ever back I've notice intimations somplace like him a warrior myself and practice against headquartered in PC admits.  Debating that knocked back was crucial since we were fighting over that control point.

Here's the same ability from which are warrior PC admits.  Noticeably forces hammer back behind him before deeply resented animation not be back.

Takes a pretty good reaction speed to avoid a lot of the of the attacks societally since a very quick and are not to be channeled abilities. 

That's menioned earlier sometimes you react to a better player's action viking sounds.  For example, both unloading and life transfer pretty distinctive game sounds. 

Keeping a close eye on weapons flops is also going to be very important your worst too.  Both you just don't need to watch for what that's what you need to know what abilities you have to avoid wind someone swaps to a certain weapon.

In the past, I suppose that a couple of interesting what you want to get some engineer.  Able to avoid his first big bonfire dating and use my sexual offences so it could build a fence.  Nicely done.  Resurrected a chicken descriptions of state for it. 

Not only is it going to be important to know what abilities shield must arch, you need to know what abilites you don't really need to dodged.  Security code:  PRETTY BIG MISTAKE because I can do wasting might products parts and pistol shots.  Unit sets me up for a preview of next week combo attention airport.  Engineer proffer bomb into the bomb flame throwers.  Since I was out of interest from my earlier dodges, I wasn't able to start out of that  and I don't quite have the muscle memory built yet to activate my purchased walk-a-thon type of situation.

Celebrity to visit since near don't know what to look out for what we would try to avoid.  But, did not want to get pulled into that big bombing adverse combination again.   


The big right serve on the ground eans that they placed the bomb and you can see that they have switched to the point so far, so we know what's coming next.

Here is that seat once again in regular speed.

Honestly, I'm not really sure how consistently I could do something.  However, there is one thing that you know:  due to to something like that you were rewarded.  The engineer was never able to recover from just that one instead in this fight."

Area Control Guardian (Scepter/Shield/Staff) BWE2 footage - Part 2

The following movie is the second part of my BWE2 footage of my Guardian using Staff/Scepter/Shield.  This one was done mostly for entertainment.  I'll do some commentary style movies for the Guardian with my BWE3 footage.  ATM, I'm thinking I will switch to Scepter/Shield and Scepter/Focus since Martyr is being moved to a utility (and a few other reasons).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Area Control Guardian (Scepter/Shield/Staff) BWE2 footage - Part 1

The last class I tested during BWE2 was the Guardian.  It also happens to be the class that I think best fits my playstyle as I really feel I can have a significan impact in every sPvP match that I'm in.  All of this footage is from Sunday, so I'm still learning the class.  I make mistakes and there is definitely some fine-tuning that needs to be done on the build.  However, I think it gives a pretty good feel for the area control that a Guardian can bring to it's team.

I'm not going to do an extended write-up for this build at this time.  I'll save that for BWE3 after I've corrected some errors in my play and fine-tuned the build a bit more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Air Elementalist Blind Build (Scepter/Dagger)

Well, it's been a long wait between BWEs.  This time around I spent a lot more time trying out all of the classes.  The class I'm the happiest with is the Guardian.  The reason why is that the Guardian wins matches.  It's been common to hear in other games that "1v1 doesn't matter." I've always scoffed at that because I know from experience that 1v1 does matter when it comes to winning matches in those other games.  Guild Wars 2 is different.

It took me awhile to realize it, but when someone says that 1v1 doesn't matter in GW2... they are right.  What matters the most is kiting, movement, area control, and survivability.

Now the movie I'm putting up here is a 1v1 build.  The reason this is going up before a Guardian movie is just because it was easier to make.  This is a gimmick build all the way.  The build has 4 blinds on relatively short cooldowns.  It also has very good Vigor generation which allows for more frequent dodges.  I've killed the practice NPCs many times with this build without losing health and without having to use my heal.

PvP, of course, is different.  There were some builds that gave me difficulty.  Most notably the backstab thief build that utilizes roots.  You can't dodge out of root.  Most opposing builds lost though.  For example, blinds really hurt warriors since it eats their "big" moves which generally have long cooldowns.  It was typical for a warrior to blow his cooldowns on my blinds and then have to start kiting hoping his cooldows would come back up only to have them all eaten by blinds again.

You'll notice that I don't switch attunements in this movie.  That's mostly because it was not necessary for these fights.  If you switch out of air you will lose at least two blinds, which can be very counter-productive.  Blinds are more effective than heals since damage is more effective than heals.  Earth is decent since the knockdown and armor are helpful but you still lose two blinds that are on short cooldowns and switching attunements locks you out of Air.  If the attunement cooldown was shorter it would be worth it, but generally it's best to just stay in Air.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Defensive MHS Warrior (Mace & Sword) Movie

This is a defensive warrior build and movie using the MHS framework from a previous post.  What distinguishes this build from other variations of the MHS framework are the two blocks from mace and sword.  Of course, you can also get two blocks by going mace and shield but this is not something I plan on doing myself. 

The reason why I am avoiding the shield is because it is too obvious, in my opinion.  The shield is easy to spot and the shield block animation itself is very distinctive and easy to identify.  As the game matures, I think you will find that the number of people who waste a major ability on a shield block will decrease significantly.  On the other hand, the block animations for mace and sword are much more subtle.

For this movie, I ended up using the following build or very slight variations of it.

What's New? -  Working from the 0/0/20/20/15 MHS framework, I've added 10 points to Defense and 5 points to Discipline.  The 10 points in Defense are to have enough points to add Missle Deflection.  This trait is a "must have" if you are using a build that emphasizes blocking since it reflects ranged damage when you block it.  As an added bonus you also get Armored Attack which will add to your power.

The remaining 5 points are put into Discipline.  I used these points to pick up Quick Bursts which reduces your burst cooldowns by 20%.  There are other good choices for that slot, however.

Using Gear to Fill Gaps - As you can see, I have zero points in power and precision with this build.  However, I really do need precision in order to take advantage of my prowess score which increases crit damage.  But that is not a problem, because you can choose gear (in particular, the amulet) to fill stat gaps in your build.

At this time, many people are double-stacking when it comes to traits and gear.  For example, many warriors will max out Arms and Discipline for crit percentage and crit damage and then get the amulet which also increases crit percentage and crit damage.  This kind of stacking is typical for a glass cannon build.  I'm sure the developers are aware of this, but I doubt that is what they actually intend for the system.  In my opinion, the gear choices are there to fill gaps in your build and stats to achieve balance.

So, let's think about how I can fix my glaring weakness with respect to power and precision.  First of all, note that I do not care about condition damage or condition duration with this framework so points spent in Strength and Arms would be wasted in that respect.  So, how can I get more power and precision without putting points into Strength or Arms?  Gear, traits, and ability usage.

As mentioned above, I get some power from Armored Attack.  I also get both might (power) and fury (precision) from "For Great Justice!"  One application of this shout gives 3 stacks of might.  You will notice that sometimes I have 6 stacks of might since I have a shorter shout cooldown and also have increased boon duration from Tactics.  For my amulet, I chose to emphasis precision.  You'll notice that I have a pretty good crit percentage in the movie even though I have no points put into Arms.

Save Your Butt Abilities -  I'm going to call these SYBs for short.  An SYB is ability or trait such as Shrug It Off which gives Endure Pain at 25% health.  Most classes have some SYBs but some are much better than others.  Shrug it Off is particulary good IMO.  These types of abilities protect you from dying to burst.  You might ask, "Well, if you think they are so great then why didn't you take Shrug It Off in your build?"  The answer to that question is that I used a substitute:  The Superior Rune of Svanir.

The effects are dependent on the number of armor pieces the rune is placed in.
  1. +25 toughness
  2. +20% frozen duration
  3. +50 toughness
  4. -50% frozen duration
  5. +90 toughness
  6. You become a block of ice for 5s when you are hit below 20% health.

The toughness fits in well with the defensive MHS framework and the reduced frozen duration is good.  The two piece bonus is a waste however since this build does not offer any offensive freezes.  Of course, the lure here is the six piece bonus.  Notice the wording there.  It says it triggers on the hit after you are under 20% health and the footage from the movie seems to support that.  There is a huge difference between that and having it trigger and nullify the hit that would have taken you under 20%.  For example, let's say you have 10K HP (I'm looking at you, elementalists).  Then, this rune would trigger on the hit after you fall under 2K health.  But, let's say you get hit for 12K damage.  The rune would not trigger at all.

If the SYBs all work this way, then you must have a decent health pool to take advantage of them.  My warrior in this movie hovers around 30K HP.  So, this rune will trigger on the hit after I fall under 6K HP (roughly speaking).  That gives me time to lay out a survival plan and also buys time for my heals to come off of cooldown if they aren't up.  Recall that with the MHS framework you have 3 heals on a 20 second cooldown.  There is a clip in this movie where I chain the iceblock invulnerability with Endure Pain for around 10 seconds of straight invulnerability.  That is buying a lot of time for your heals.

On a side note, I did test having the Superior Rune of Svanir, Endure Pain,and Shrug It Off all at the same time and it is possible for all three of them to go off in a single fight for 15 seconds of invulnerability.  The problem is that Shrug It Off triggers at 25% and Svanir triggers at 20% so they will often times trigger at the same time which is a total waste of one of them.  Hrm, unless you are able to purposefully stagger their respective cooldowns enough so they don't trigger at the same time.... Nevermind, let's move on.

As a last nugget of goodness with the Superior Rune of Svanir set, you can use "Shake It Off!" to remove the iceblock stun but still keep the invulnerability.  If you really want an SYB ability but don't want to spend a trait slot on it then consider the Svanir armor set as a substitute.  But only do so if you have a decent amount of health. 

About the Movie -  All of this footage is from the May stress test.  The PvP servers were not always available and when they were available they were often times unplayable.  That left me fighting the Profession NPCs.  To my surprise, I found out that they are actually pretty good dueling partners.  They aren't as good as an experienced player (of course) but they can be pretty challenging if you have a bad build or if you aren't paying attention and make mistakes. 

I don't think any of them swap weapons while in combat.  Some of them heal themselves, but some don't.  Nonetheless, they are an excellent tool for tweaking a build and finding something that works for you.  Congratulations to ArenaNet for creating dueling NPCs that sometimes felt like there was actual intelligence behind them. 

MHS Warrior Framework (0/0/20/20/15)

Since many of the current Guild Wars 2 movies are featuring glass cannon builds, I'm going to go in the other direction and explore builds that feature defense, utility, control and/or balance.  I am not saying that one style will be better than the other.  This is just purely an effort to see what the game has to offer in terms of variety of builds and to see which of those builds might be viable.  Also, I'm not saying that what I'm going to offer will be the optimal build of its type.  One of the wonderful things about Guild Wars 2 is the customization that is possible.  I fully expect people to come up with tweaks and/or variations on a theme that is better than what I can come up with.  Hopefully those discoveries are shared.

First up will be a Mace-Hammer-Shout framework for the warrior.  I'm calling it a framework because it is not a full build.  It is a starting point for a defensive build from which you can either go even more defensive or more offensive for balance.  I am calling it an MHS build because all of the variations will have three things in common.  They will use at least one mace, either in main hand or off hand.  They will use a hammer.  They will use at least two shouts for utilities.

This framework will offer you the following things:

Health Management - The framework will include Mending, "Shake It Off!", and "For Great Justice!"  With Lung Capacity and Vigorous Shouts, the shouts will heal and be on 20 second cooldowns.  Mending is also on a 20 second cooldown.  Depending on how many points you have invested in Compassion you can expect to see Mending heal for around 5600 and the shouts healing for around 1400.  Going with a third shout is optional since "Fear Me!" and "I Will Avenge You!" are on long cooldowns.

The MHS framework will have some passive healing coming from Adrenal Health.  These periodic heals will range from 0 to around 300 depending on your adrenaline level.  Optionally, you can add healing sigils to your weapons to increase the amount of passive healing you receive.

You will have good condition removal since Mending and "Shake It Off!" remove conditions.  "Shake It Off!" also offers you a stun break.  You will have some group utility since the shouts apply their effects to nearby friendly players.

Adrenaline Management -  You will have multiple sources of adrenaline generation.  Embrace the Pain will give you adrenaline when you are hit.  Versatile Rage will give you adrenaline when you switch weapons.  Inspiring Shout gives you adrenaline when you shout.  Signet of Rage gives you adrenaline generation passively. 

Since you have so many sources for adrenaline management, it makes sense to emphasis weapon swapping.  That is why this framework goes 15 points into Discipline to pick up Fast Hands which reduces the cooldown on weapon swapping.  Also, keep in mind that burst skills do not share a cooldown.  So, if you are generating adrenaline very quickly you can almost chain your burst skills by swapping weapons.

If you want to go with something more offensive, you can go further into Discipline and pick up more adrenaline friendly traits while at the same time increasing your burst and critical damage.

Control -  This is where your weapons come into play.  The reason I stress using hammer with this framework is because of the control it offers.  Earthshaker gives you an AoE stun.  Staggering Blow gives you an AoE knockback with a knockdown.  Backbreaker gives you a single target knockdown.  Hammer Shock gives you a frontal AoE cripple (snare).

For the other weapon set I suggest at least one mace.  The other weapon depends on what kind of style you want to play.  You can go mace and sword or mace and shield if you want to play more defensively via blocks.  You can go mace and mace if control is your thing.  You can go axe and mace to give yourself some more offensive potential.  Again, the reason why I believe mace should be in this framework is because of the control it offers you.

With a mace in main hand you would have Skull Crack which is a stun and you would have Pommel Bash which is a daze.  With a mace in off hand you would have Tremor which is a frontal AoE knockdown.

The reason why I am stressing control is because it will have good synergy with your short cooldown heals.  The control of the hammer and mace buys you time to let your heals come off of cooldown.  I am a big believer in short cooldowns.  That is why I've put Blunt Weapon Master in the framework.  However, someone might want to replace that with something more offensive or defensive in nature depending on their playstyle.

The Plan -  I intend to make some warrior movies using some variations built from this MHS framework.  First, there will be a defensive mace and sword movie which I tested during the last stress test.  For the next weekend event, I plan to test axe and mace for a more balanced offensive build and also mace and mace for an extreme control build.  Stay tuned if these kinds of builds interest you.