Get Ready to Raid in Guild Wars 2

With Heart of Thorns we’re getting some new "challenging endgame content," in the form of 10-man PVE raids.  We got a taste of the first boss encounter in Beta Weekend 3, and it really did feel satisfyingly challenging.  Strategy and great teamwork were absolutely required but there was also quite a lot of flexibility in classes and team makeup, due to the Guild Wars 2 combat system.  Add in some spiffy new loot (including legendary armor) and raiding in Guild Wars 2 is looking pretty exciting.

Is Raiding for you?

Raiding can be very rewarding.  I love that feeling of finally beating a very tough fight with my friends, after failing over and over while we learned the fight.  Good times, and great memories! 

But raiding isn't for everyone.  Some folks find it too frustrating, some find it too regimented, some find it too time consuming.  Here are a few factors to help you decide whether raiding is a fit for your personality, play style and schedule.

Raids are Content

MMOs have lots of things to do in them, and raids are another thing to do.  You bought the game, so you should be able to play raids too, right?  That’s my opinion.  But that's not to say raids are easy content, nor are they solo content.  Becoming skillful and knowledgeable enough to do your part in a raid team will probably take some work.  

As with any challenging content, there is often a bit of drama about elitism among raiders.  There are plenty of folks at both ends of the argument (too hardcore! too casual!), but there is also a giant kernel of truth at the middle ground.  If you are 'that guy' who doesn't bring your gear, skill, knowledge, communication, cooperation and commitment up to snuff, you are probably holding back the other folks in the raid.  This is particularly true in 10-man raids like those in Guild Wars 2.

So, want to experience raids?  Awesome, I hope you come out!  But you'll need to put in the work—it's only considerate of your fellow raiders.

Expect to wipe, over and over

Mistakes are how we learn, and you'll be with nine other friends who also have to learn from their mistakes.  It takes time for it all to come together.

Over the years I've found that this is the aspect of raiding that is most likely to turn some folks off.  They feel frustrated by the wipes, or impatient with others who haven’t yet learned how to do their part successfully yet.  Something to consider if you are someone who becomes frustrated or impatient easily.

Voice comms are a must

Raid encounters are very fast-paced, and typing (or reading chat) is simply too slow.  So, at the very least, you’ll need to be able to listen in voice chat.

In addition, you'll need to be disciplined in your communications—particularly during combat.  Keep your status updates as short as possible.  And don't talk over the commander!

There is usually some time for questions and socializing between attempts, but even here be considerate of your teammate's time.  This is probably not the best time for a long rambling story or an in-depth trait-by-trait discussion of your build.

Finally (and importantly!), try to keep your cool in voice chat.  Raids provide ample opportunities for frustration, no need to crank it up even further with emotional outbursts in voice chat.  I find the best policy is to take your finger off the push-to-talk button and swear fluently in the privacy of your own home.

Doing your part: Cooperation

You can't solo that raid boss.  Your team needs to work together in many ways large and small to pull off a win.

Often you'll be tasked with a role (blasting fields, breaking break bars, etc.) that you don't routinely perform.  Sometimes you'll be asked to change your class, or build, or utilities.  Winning requires flexibility and teamwork from every single person on the team.

Doing your part: Commitment

Given the flexibility of GW2's combat system I don't expect raid groups to require fixed rosters or regular attendance.  If you want to raid, however, you should commit to learning the encounter and getting your skills and gear up to snuff—you owe it to your nine friends in the raid with you.

Also, commit to the entire time scheduled for raiding on a given night.  If you will be late, let the team know ASAP.   If have to step away for 30 minutes in the middle of the raid please be upfront with your team before the raid starts.  

Ready check!

Build for Flexibility

“Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto, it’s a good motto for raiders, too.  Try to be flexible in the classes you can bring, the weapons you use, and the roles you can play.

  • Bring both a melee option and a ranged option.  This is classic raiding wisdom.  Sometimes we get encounters that are particularly punishing for folks fighting in melee range.  Sometimes the opposite.  Be ready for either!
  • Buff your team.  If your class can share buffs, bring them!  
  • Know your utility.  Can your class blast a field?  Break a breakbar?  Strip boons?  CC trash mobs?  Reflect projectiles?  Dodge, dash or teleport to a safe spot?   In Guild Wars 2 there’s a lot more to combat than DPSing, tanking or healing.  Learn about and master the special utility your class can bring.
  • Bring multiple builds and gear sets.  Prepare at least a couple different roles your class can perform in a raid.  Have the builds and gear sets all set to go.  Practice the builds ahead of time so you are familiar with how they play.
  • For weapons and trinkets, go Ascended.  Ascended weapons are noticeably more powerful than the exotic versions; try to bring ascended versions for your key dps and healing weapons.   Ascended trinkets are also noticeably better than exotic and relatively easy to obtain using Laurels or Guild Commendations.
  • For armor, focus on stats and runes.  Exotic armor is probably good enough, especially in the first raids.  More important is to carry armor sets specifically tuned to the roles you plan to cover, complete with appropriate runes.   

Something new with HoT: armor purchased with WvW badges or karma will be salvageable!  This makes it a lot cheaper to carry around multiple armor sets, and you’ll be able to salvage those expensive runes if you end up replacing an armor set.

Plan to run around (or away)

Positioning and spatial awareness have always been a part of successful raiding in MMOs; it’s one of the key things you have to figure out as you learn an encounter.  The developers have warned us to expect lots of this in GW2 raids.

GW2 combat puts a premium on evasion.  Remember Nochtli in Dry Top?  To beat him you need to run, dodge, jump, teleport, or pop stability.  Usually all of the above!  This is a great place to practice your movement skills.

Dodge is one way to evade, but also you’ll find the Evade effect on some weapon skills and utilities. And don’t forget your leaps and teleports (which often work while stunned)!  Super speed can be very helpful too, due to the way normal runspeed steps down when in combat.

Prepare to break that bar!

The Breakbar mechanic coming in HoT replaces the Defiance “CC immunity most of the time” mechanic that GW2 bosses have rocked since launch.  Breakbars are much less finicky than Defiance, and come with a new, easier-to-interpret UI.

The breakbar appears below the target’s health bar. The metallic, “wood screw” graphic means the bar can’t be broken (yet).  Typically you’ll need to do something to advance the encounter (DPS the boss, interact with a raid mechanic, etc.) before the breakbar becomes breakable.

When the bar turns blue, break it ASAP!   Something important happens when the bar reaches empty (although exactly what varies from encounter to encounter).  For example, breaking the bar might be a required step to advance the encounter to the next stage, or the boss may become vulnerable to a certain type of attack.  For some encounters you will have a limited time to break the bar, and failing to do so in time will unleash a powerful attack from the boss.  

Bring some CCs to “attack” the breakbar.  In the encounters we’ve seen so far, hard CCs break the bar faster than soft CCs.

“Hard” CCs (disables):

  • Stun
  • Daze
  • Knockback
  • Knockdown
  • Launch
  • Pull
  • Freeze (Ice Bow #5)
  • Petrify (Basilisk Venom)

“Soft” CCs (reduced movement or action):

  • Chill
  • Cripple
  • Immobilize
  • Slow
  • Blind

Finally, don’t forget your noms

Every little edge helps in challenging content.  Bring level 80 food and maintenance buffs for your class and roles.  And keep an eye out for new foods and maintenance buffs in HoT, possibly specifically designed for the raids!

Published: December 28th, 2015   |  7,722 Reads

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