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.