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N00bish question: how to defend like a pro?

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#1 Elric of Grans

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 01:06 AM

Guild Wars 2 provides lots of ways to defend yourself. Presumably, every class/build has access to two or more. I make use of whatever I have on hand, but am never sure whether I am doing it right, so to speak. Am I defending efficiently, or could I do better?

Dodge is a mechanic available to everyone, but (normally) you can only dodge twice in short time. I seem to be pretty bad at it too, as half the time I dodge but still take damage (too fast/too slow). Should dodge be used as your first defensive option, or saved for when others are on cooldown? Are certain things better avoided through dodge than other options?

Circle strafing. I am just adding it in for completion. Personally, I do not often find this helps. Certain slow mobs will wiff half the time, but this rarely protects me better than face-tanking. Do you need Swiftness for this to work? Is there something else I am doing wrong here? Is is only ever useful in PvE, and only against certain mobs?

Interrupt, through control skills, is something that seems available to all classes, but to varying degrees. The ability to completely negate an attack (and also gain the reprieve of the control effect) is pretty powerful. Personally, I save up control skills for when I see the wind-up for a powerful attack and use them as my preferred defense. Is this an efficient use of control skills, or could I do it better? I have found some mobs will still hit you even if you Interrupt (eg Raptor screams), presumably because the attack is made of multiple stages and only the first stage was cancelled. Certain control skills seem too slow to use as an Interrupt (eg Guardian's Banish), so how to you make use of them?

Rarer (I think), but certain classes have access to attacks with a build-in evade mechanic. I have little experience with this, but when is it best to use an evade skill over other options? When I use Shortbow on my Thief, I normally alternate between dodge and Disabling Shot, to avoid over-draining endurance or initiative. With my Mesmer, I use Distortion when I see an fight as being one of attrition.

Similarly uncommon is Block. Come classes have skills that allow them to block the next incoming attack, or even block for a period of time (eg Guardian's Shelter heal). Is there a smart way to use block, or should it be used liberally as straight-up damage mitigation?

Blind is probably not as good as the other options, but still well worth mentioning. The next hit misses. Clearly not a big deal if being assailed by a multi-hit attack, but generally pretty good. Should Blind be applied whenever available, or should it be used a little more smartly?

Defense is clearly a weak-point in my game. My Mesmer struggled in early levels, but was able to spread the damage easily once I could spam clones. My Guardian goes fine, but has damage mitigation up the wazoo, so I am probably playing really, really badly. Currently, my Thief swings between `lol!' and `wtf?' depending on whether or not there is any risk of him taking more than one hit :P How can I make better use of the active defenses provided by the game to be a better player?
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#2 Khrushchev


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Posted 06 August 2013 - 01:50 AM

Dodges are a brief moment of invincibility to direct attacks, they recharge relatively frequently, and can be boosted through various traits and vigor (I'll let you look into these, but generally, Vigor on crit is relatively consistent source available to several professions). In my opinion, they should be saved for big ticket attacks against enemies or players you know will have them (Warrior, Thief, bosses with insta-kill mechanics, etc...) and used liberally against enemies or players that are a threat, but with many frequent small hitting attacks (Necromancer, to a lesser extent Phantasm Mesmer, trash in dungeons that has the ability to actually threaten you, etc...).

Circle strafing is an effective tactic against PvE melee mobs, as they generally stand in place while attacking, the more time they spend walking towards you, the less time they spend actually attacking. Keep in mind this only works if you've got attacks that can hit while you're strafing away from them. Often a more useful tactic is shimmying (holding strafe in one direction and rapidly tapping the other). This tactic allows you to avoid a lot of ranged mobs attacks (especially the electric knockback ball in fractals from Harpies) and will be marginally useful in PvP (Bolas from Warriors misses quite a lot regardless, but shimmying makes the miss rate from a lot to always). This is because lots of projectiles try to track you, and if you're moving left or right, it will go in that direction. Shimmying will keep you in place, making several types of projectiles miss. If that fails, simply moving in one direction and then switching directions when the projectiles are shot is a more effective, while more active, version of the same action. Instead of staying in place, you are moving the opposite direction than the projectile, dodging all but extremely fast moving or tracking ones.

Control skills often have a high cooldown, so you should use those to interrupt high priority attacks against mobs and players, and against heals for players. Making sure to keep pressure on the enemy offensively through control skills means you have less defensive options, but it is also a major factor in winning fights.

Evades or other invulnerability frames (see the Guardian Elite, Renewed Focus) are generally short, although some are on short cooldowns, or none at all (Thief). Blurred Frenzy is a 1.5~ second evade for Mesmer that can be traited to a 9~ second cooldown, Thieves can spend initiative (a major resource both offensively and defensively for them) to get short evades with several weaponsets, although they also have access to stealth. Generally these types of skills are best used similarly to Dodges, although several have other effects (Blurred Frenzy does damage, Renewed Focus recharges virtues) so they are often used as means to an end in ways other than just defensively.

Blocks are typically long cooldown, and should be used while under high pressure against classes you know don't have unblockable attacks (Warriors have a signet that gives them 5 unblockable attacks, which can ruin your day if you're sitting there thinking you're invincible. Necromancer Wells are typically unblockable, and can blind you, corrupt your conditions, damage and apply vulnerability). In PvE, blocks should be used like dodges in the sense that they are used to block big ticket attacks, and frequently I will cancel them after blocking an attack (Warrior attacking with Axe, begin blocking shortly before the enemy damage hits, then cancel it by starting the autoattack).

Blind is great against slow attacking enemies, but it will hardly phase rapid attacks. The most proficient Blind Spammer is the thief, with offhand Pistol allowing for a no cooldown blind field that ticks once per second, with an honorable mention going to Necromancer with Plague, giving them 20 seconds of blind that ticks once per second, and gives them a much higher health and tougness value. Against players it can mess with their rotations, should they get into them.

In general, if you can afford to take an attack, take it and save your defense for a hit you can't take.

Edited by Khrushchev, 06 August 2013 - 01:52 AM.

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#3 Coren


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Posted 06 August 2013 - 05:52 AM

As a mesmer you have plenty of skills that give you defensive options: vigor on critical hits, clone cremation on dodge, projectile reflection with focus skills, glamour skills, blink and simply phantasms and clones from attacks.

That's why mesmers get away with full zerker than most because of the mountain of defenses they get.

As for thieves no idea :)
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#4 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 07:14 AM

Kill faster.
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#5 AsgarZigel


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Posted 06 August 2013 - 08:31 AM

Some more options for defense:

Aegis is the boon version of blind, blocks one attack.

Weakness and Protection reduce damage significantly if they can be applied continuously.

Chill increases cooldowns, reducing damage indirectly. Chill and cripple also work well for kiting due to the slow.

Swiftness and speed signets/traits also help a lot with kiting. (The thief should have one of the speed signets)

Confusion and Retaliation aren't directly defensive, but might discourage opponents in pvp from using multi hit attacks. (ok I'm not a pvp player, so take that with a grain of salt, but that's the theory behind them :P It will at least prompt condition/boon removal if you have multiple stacks of them )

Moving around a lot even in Melee can help a lot - mobs often have trouble hitting moving targets while you can attack on the move.

Small heals (Necro life steal, ele water attunement, guardian has some as well, Regeneration) do add up and are a good way to mitigate attrition damage from smaller attacks.

Don't forget condition removal.

Edited by AsgarZigel, 06 August 2013 - 08:32 AM.

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#6 Waar Kijk Je Naar

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 10:45 AM

Vigil style. Destroy them before they destroy you. Offense is the best defense.

On a more serious note; Cripple, Chill and Immobilize. Run, you coward.

Edited by Waar Kijk Je Naar, 06 August 2013 - 10:46 AM.

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