What is Healway?
Healway is an active-bunker build initially designed to allow easy transition from solo and small group roaming to zerg support. What I mean by "active-bunker" is that you will not survive simply by the virtue of having high armor or health. Your passive healing, heavy armor, and blocks will allow you to take some hits, but due to a lower-than-average health pool you must be ready to use LoS and/or put some distance between yourself and your opponent to give yourself time to regenerate if things start to go south. Also worth noting is that you have no passive condition removal with this build; it all comes from shouts.
This was designed primarily with WvW in mind. Slapping Zerker gear on over it will make it work in PvE and it's got some uses in sPvP, but I'm fairly certain there are better builds for both PvE and sPvP (glass cannons and meditations, for example).
Here's a quick demonstration of Healway being used for solo roaming. If you are unable to view the first video (as it is can't be viewed in Germany), you should still be able to see this one.
Great, so give us the build.
Well, since you asked so nicely, here is a video discussing the build in-depth. For those of you who like having something to look at on paper, here is a BuildCraft layout of the core solo/small group roaming build:
When playing with a full group of players or more (5+), it may be best to transition to a more supportive variation of the build. Something along these lines, with Staff and Hammer instead of GS and Sword/Focus:
Note: It is my opinion that these two setups are the strongest possible general purpose options for playing Healway either solo or in a group or zerg. However, it should be noted that these will not be the strongest setups for EVERY situation, especially if you play competitively. It is up to the player to decide what to change and when to change it in order to play this build to its fullest.
One of the key points of this build is flexibility. The majority of the Major traits can be swapped around and experimented with (i.e. Defender's Flame can be traded for Purity when engaging Necromancers or for SiN if you just like extra Toughness). Runes and food choices also have some room for experimentation and every available weapon can be made to work with this build in some way.
Traits NOT to change: Superior Aria, Pure of Voice, and Absolute Resolution. Indomitable Courage has two viable alternatives: Shielded Mind (which now breaks stuns on up to 5 friendlies) and Elite Focus. If you're running with your guild or with a zerg, you may want your Tome of Courage to last an extra 10 seconds. Otherwise, SM is also a lot stronger than it used to be. My personal preference is IC for the clutch Stability and additional Aegis per 2 minutes, but it isn't necessarily the best choice for everyone.
The exception to the "do not change PoV" rule: running Soldier's runes and/or Purity can free up enough room to run Battle Presence instead. BP is a powerful group support tool which IS affected by your Healing Power and by Absolute Resolution. The passive healing to allies even keeps ticking when Resolve is on cooldown! The only issue is finding enough condition removal for yourself and possibly the loss of a bunch of Boon Dura and Healing Power if choosing to trade out your runes.
Utilities NOT to change: "Hold the Line!" and "Stand Your Ground!" That said, it's very easy to trade out "Save Yourselves!" for a Consecration or Meditation depending on the situation and group size. When trading out "SY!", it's recommended that you run Purity over Defender's Flame for the supplementary condition removal. However, SiN is just as viable if you're comfortable with your ability to avoid death by conditions.
The Staff of Bloodlust shown in the second setup is a recommended weapon for ALL setups. Common practice is to run with a group or zerg until you've got all of your stacks before moving off to roam with your primary roaming weapons. Alternatively, you can purchase a second focus with Bloodlust on it if you never run in groups.
How does it work, exactly?
One of this build's biggest selling points is its healing potential. Your healing comes from several sources: Regeneration, Virtue of Resolve, Selfless Daring, and Mango Pie (assuming you use it). Keep in mind that the passive healing from Mango Pie is--like most food-based healing--affected by the WvW healing effectiveness buff. Regen and Protection up-times are very high thanks to a total 60% boon duration from the core build. That said, 100% Retaliation up-time is also laughably easy to maintain.
This build thrives against opponents who hit fast, but not for a lot of damage per tick. Your passive healing abilities and heavy armor covers for a lot of smaller hits and your 100% up-time Retaliation constantly punishes inattentive players. Against hard-hitters like glass cannon Thieves and Warriors, you may find issue. The trick to dealing with such builds is to utilize your blocks, CCs, and mobility skills to their fullest to either avoid the big hits or give yourself time to recover from them. Greatsword leaps, pulls, and Sword/Focus teleports, blocks, and blinds are all instrumental in dealing with hard-hitters.
When it comes to zerg support, the pros of a Healway build are fairly obvious. Near-constant dodge roll heals of over 1,000 per tick for up to 5 players, high-duration Stability, Regen, Protection, and Retaliation for allies, and extreme burst healing potential when needed via Tome of Courage backed by high Healing Power.
Perhaps most importantly for many group-oriented WvWers, Healway Guardians offer a solid anchor point for the group. You are extremely unlikely to get sniped due to high combat sustainability and relatively high mobility both in and out of combat. That said, Healway is conceptually a very effective "Commander build."
Variations (Short List)
- Exotics work just as well as Ascended pieces. Don't let the "gear treadmill" doomsayers fool you.
- Rings do not have to be Soldier's. If you want to run Cleric's, Zerker's, or whatever else, go for it. Experiment.
- It's perfectly viable to run Sigil of Life instead of Bloodlust, especially if you're having trouble adjusting to the new playstyle or simply prefer a more support-oriented build. Sigil of Perception may also be viable, but the total of 4% (base) + 12% (sigil) = 16% crit chance alone probably isn't enough to make losing 250 power worth it.
- Running Life for additional Healing Power and complimenting it with Mace/x backed by Staff is extremely viable for support-oriented players and is actually what I recommend for any hardcore players looking to try this build for competitive play.
- Many people like to run 2 Water/2 Monk's/2 *Major* Water to trade 85 Healing Power for 10% Boon Duration.
- Mango Pie is strong, but it isn't the only option. Like a different food? Use that one.
So, in summation:
What can you do with Healway?: You can solo roam efficiently against one or several opponents at a time, with practice. You can roam with small groups. You can zerg support. You can line-break. You can Command with very little worry of being sniped or dying to AoE on accident. You can solo fully-upgraded supply camps. You can cross the map with perma-Swiftness with JUST a Staff. You can PvE and/or sPvP in relative comfort.
What can't you do with Healway?: You can't solo zergs. You probably can't take down a combination of Necro+Ele, Necro+Mesmer, Ele+Mesmer, or Necro+Thief without a LOT of practice. You probably can't solo a fully-upped supply camp that includes mercenaries without a LOT of practice. You can't outrun Thieves (who can?). You can't deal massive amounts of damage in short periods of time. That's not all the game is about, though.
Cheers, and good luck.
Edited by Chrisf, 14 August 2013 - 08:13 PM.