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When suboptimal or non-meta builds yield better results


hatebreeder.8316

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My philosophy for GW2 is this: if you have a suboptimal build or a build that is not considered to be meta, but you have been enjoying it the most, then it's much better than playing meta builds you dislike. Since I'm playing with a build that I find enjoyable, I invest way more hours to get good at it, and just because of skill and experience I produce better results overall. I remember the discussion about the problem of balancing in GW2 that during an open world metaevent the best players would have ten times the damage output compared to an average player. The skill floor is huge in this game in contrast with other MMOs where gear plays a more important role. Except for the very endgame aspect of GW2 (speedrunning hardest boss CMs and winning pvp tournaments) everything can be slain or everyone can be defeated. There is so much more to winning a fight than having the best build for a specific encounter. In WvW roaming for example many pro players have been defeating less skilled players with suboptimal and/or troll builds, which also proves builds are of secondary to skill. What do you guys think?

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1 hour ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

What do you guys think?

Play the build you enjoy if it doesn't make the encounter more difficult for the players you play with and if the players you play with don't care.

 

2 hours ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

Since I'm playing with a build that I find enjoyable, I invest way more hours to get good at it, and just because of skill and experience I produce better results overall.

Maybe, maybe not. There is no "one build fits all" (every encounter/game mode) in GW2. Some encounters require you to fulfil specific roles (and adjusted builds) in your team.

It is a common pattern that players think, their own build is better than other "meta"-builds. But the fact is, if their build would really be better, it would become a (new) meta-build. Not a lot of players have the build-craft ability to make really good and meta builds.

 

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3 hours ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

My philosophy for GW2 is this: if you have a suboptimal build or a build that is not considered to be meta, but you have been enjoying it the most, then it's much better than playing meta builds you dislike.

That depends entirely on what the outset goal is and the quality of the off meta build is, if performance is a factor.

There are offmeta builds which are absolute garbage in regards to performance. Those are fine when performance is not a factor.

There are offmeta builds which are not far off from the meta build in output and their performance certainly is more than sufficient and often better than putting that specific player on a meta build.

3 hours ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

Since I'm playing with a build that I find enjoyable, I invest way more hours to get good at it, and just because of skill and experience I produce better results overall. I remember the discussion about the problem of balancing in GW2 that during an open world metaevent the best players would have ten times the damage output compared to an average player. The skill floor is huge in this game in contrast with other MMOs where gear plays a more important role. Except for the very endgame aspect of GW2 (speedrunning hardest boss CMs and winning pvp tournaments) everything can be slain or everyone can be defeated. There is so much more to winning a fight than having the best build for a specific encounter.

Player skill is the deciding factor. Player skill in regards to actually creating a "decent" build or better also falls into this. Unfortunately many players who are so hyped about their personal build like to omit that aspect.

Many players have often "invested" hundreds of hours into playing their custom open world build before entering instanced content. That had nearly 0 bearing on their initial performance though, which is most often very bad. Time invested is of no meaning if no learning process is derived from it.

3 hours ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

In WvW roaming for example many pro players have been defeating less skilled players with suboptimal and/or troll builds, which also proves builds are of secondary to skill. What do you guys think?

Yes, that might happen occasionally, though this has far more to do with players who know the meta builds and how to counter them. Troll builds often are designed specifically for that reason.

Not sure how you would know about the other being a pro player in WvW but that is a different issue.

PvE is far more strict in regards to performance necessities compared to pvp or wvw (in regards to specific optimization, in PvE most often damage), where the opponents life-bar is only a couple of thousand big.

Edited by Cyninja.2954
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Meta builds are designed with certain party compositions in mind and thus when working in less than organized or optimal groups, it makes perfect sense. But this is why sites with builds often link multiple options for utilities and traits.

In WvW and such, it is possible you may be running an obscure build using skills that nobody knows about. So the element of surprise may work. But as the number of people scale up, the options greatly decrease as many things just get countered. (For example, anything with projectiles is easily nullified in large groups)

Of course, you should consider a lot of players are not very good and you may be outplaying them heavily. In that case, that doesn't make the build good; it just makes you a better player with a questionable build. Which may be fine in most areas of the game but you could be doing better. You may not care if you are happy with whatever level of performance you're getting.

Edited by ArchonWing.9480
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Meta is probably the most miss-used / misunderstood word in gaming.
If you outdamage someone with a meta build while you play random stuff, your builds "efficiency" plays a role indeed, but it remains mostly about your skills as a player and theirs. 

Something that's meta is by definition, theorically the most optimal way to do an objective (deal damage, buff allies, or lets say in a card game, keep board control) in a specific situation. A meta build also assumes perfect play, and subtential losses if poorly executed. It'll take time to learn that execution, especially if the meta changed a lot from a patch to another
Low intensity builds are the community answer to meta builds : It doesnt deal as much as the experts running meta builds, but decent enough damage for 99% raids / metas as long as you survive - and lets you free more of your mind on mechanics rather than spell rotation. 

The fine line is following the meta vs being a meta slave. Learning what's optimal in every situation helps understanding your best options / team needs to survive X challenge better; but you also have to know when to break out of meta and theorical efficiency for better team utility that'll compensate for human error (and to not be an kitten when someone needs a crutch or two to survive - so long they don't massively underperform compared to the rest of the group)


Note : I'm only mentioning the dps side of meta and not buffs because its a balance problem, not a community problem. Why would anyone take a risk with a banner war or a chronomancer when holo & firebrand exist. Also only mentioning PvE because I'd write a full essay if I started going on wvw meta

Edited by Taclism.2406
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Player skill matters more than sticking to meta without understanding the build you're playing. However; an over-confident newbie with a proper build will most likely do more damage than an over-confident newbie with their super-awesome-homebrew-whatever build that promises to do everything at once.

Trust me, I used to think that nomad core thief was the most epic build ever... I still play offmeta, but now I have a slightly better understanding of the game to help me with it (healthief dream never dies and my SA specter can finally do... passable support or at least could until the shroud HP nerf).

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How well you do with your builds eventually comes to very simple equation: "Your mastery over the build %" x "build's maximum performance" = "Your efficiency".

If you play your build vastly better than you'd play a metabuild, then your build works better for you. The formula above also describes why low intensity builds are so good: They're easy to reach good mastery on while still having enough potential performance to be efficient compared to playing difficult-to-master metabuild if your overall skill isn't very high yet. And that is what Kitty's preached about for years: if you play off-meta, you need to master it to greater degree to get same results. (And that's how Kitty's played off-meta for years, by optimizing non-meta builds as far as possible and mastering them, usually by simplifying to make mastering easier.) 

But if your build makes 0 sense in further inspection and doesn't have any synergy whatsoever (Magi's longbow berserker with power/CC/mace traits as example), it will simply make your gameplay needlessly painful and even hindrance to others if you go randomly kiting 'cause "safer".

And as last note: what's efficient in soloplay vs squadplay can be totally different. In squad play, supports bring boons and heals and you maximize DPS as DPS. In solo play, you need to B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Boons) and heals and as such, taking some boon/survival traits and gears can be a good idea. Kitty's personal recommendation is using something to get might (Strength sigil+Fried Golden Dumplings), a trait that heals when you do damage (Invigorating Precision, Parasitic Contagion etc.) with some power or condi stat set that has added survivability if needed without compromising damage too much (like Marauder/Dragon's combo for power and trailblazer's for condi). Heal builds are kinda ill-suited for solo play as you'll take an eternity killing stuff and in many fights, damage pressure can become more than your self-sustain. Or you might simply have 10x more survivability than needed with 10x lower damage which means 10x more time wasted (and sometimes just failing the thing if there's a time limit/"kill before too late"-condition). 

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13 hours ago, hatebreeder.8316 said:

In WvW roaming for example many pro players have been defeating less skilled players with suboptimal and/or troll builds, which also proves builds are of secondary to skill.

Indeed, to a certain degree. A skilled player in suboptimal build will often do better than a bad player in meta one. Still, you have to remember few things. First, that this suboptimal build still needs to be at least decent - there are builds out there in which even the best players will perform terribly bad. Second, that this good players will perform even better in a more optimal build. Sometimes much better, depending on how suboptimal the build we're talking about is. And brings us to the third point - the players that often bring this up often aren't as skilled as they think they are. And, similarily, the suboptimal builds they play on are often worse than they think as well.

Edited by Astralporing.1957
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As the Devs said , the Instance Builds will strive to deal the max damage . Combine that , with people needing specific classes to offer specific raid boons ,  doesn't leave much room for experimentation . (when  boons because  a "must" that we cannot live without it ?

Spoiler

Edit:Why not implant a GW1 "sparring" henchman , that offers daily chalenges (HoT frogs) , but can be used with his LI build/testground for future specs , in OW+Instances  ? It will: a) have his own gear (Sneb) , b) experimental LI build that can use the HoT Scorpion Wire + Rocket Booster to transverse the next expanion map (Tarzan-Attack of the titans , that offer lore and he talks to our left behind body throught walkytokkey) , c) spec to relax/change of pace/play for a limited 1hour per day , d) None will force you to change your normal spec or waste hughe amount of gold to buy Berseker and then kicked for don't knowing the LFG acronyms . And if it doesn't work , then we should start coppying other games mechanics that are using  for instance content 

Edit2:At some point he will teach you the mystic art to create that HoT Scorpion Wire + Rocket Booster to traverse on your own class)

 

In the other hand OW , PvP + WvW , is a different story , because we have the  "if you survive , you will win" mentality .(use minions and built your Necro as tank for example in PvP/WvW)

Edited by Killthehealersffs.8940
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It kinda depends on the amount of synergy that's required in the setup, the weaknesses of the build and your ways to adapt to these issues and the reliability of your performance output. Any pure dps that can consistently deal ~28k+ on golem bench and retain a significant amount of that dps in actual boss encounters is a great addition to any PvE group. Whenever there is some sort of synergy required in the group setup this becomes a completely different story. If a boss/wvw encounter requires some sort of boons/heals/pulls/reflection/condi cleanse/teleport/defiance break/boonrip/stunbreak/aoe damage and your party can't provide it, your simply running a bad build. For PvP/roaming the most important aspect is your ability to overcome some of the weaknesses of your build. If your build is easily countered by other frequently picked classes you need to find some way to overcome this or you'll end up as a liability to your team. 

Edited by the krytan assassin.9235
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On 11/7/2022 at 6:27 AM, hatebreeder.8316 said:

My philosophy for GW2 is this: if you have a suboptimal build or a build that is not considered to be meta, but you have been enjoying it the most, then it's much better than playing meta builds you dislike. Since I'm playing with a build that I find enjoyable, I invest way more hours to get good at it, and just because of skill and experience I produce better results overall. I remember the discussion about the problem of balancing in GW2 that during an open world metaevent the best players would have ten times the damage output compared to an average player. The skill floor is huge in this game in contrast with other MMOs where gear plays a more important role. Except for the very endgame aspect of GW2 (speedrunning hardest boss CMs and winning pvp tournaments) everything can be slain or everyone can be defeated. There is so much more to winning a fight than having the best build for a specific encounter. In WvW roaming for example many pro players have been defeating less skilled players with suboptimal and/or troll builds, which also proves builds are of secondary to skill. What do you guys think?

I think the problem is that it's actually really hard to discern the meta. Most of the time there are "off meta builds" that are actually better but aren't played because a buff it received or whatever reason there could be didn't seem impactful even though it was. I think the biggest example of this is scourge a while before EOD where nobody thought it was good even though it was and then they gave it a tiny buff and only then did people realize how ludicrously overpowered it was.

 

This probably applies to things even now. For example HFB probably isn't the best choice for at all but people are so accustomed to it and how easy it is to play plus not actually having to dodge or move because it'll just barf out aegis and stability for you you that they don't bother looking into alternatives that are probably better or at least just as good because spamming aegis and being borderline unkillable because of it still works just like it was before. Essentially when something has just "worked" for so long and still "works" why look for an alternative? "Meta chasers" don't actively chase a meta.. they just sit on something that wins until it doesn't win or becomes noticeably harder to win on.

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In pve most optimized builds are made precisely so it brings out the moat potencial from a class, player performance is obviously important, but class limits are far easyer reachable in a "save" enviroment, for instance golem, than a pvp build designed to win a battle against another maleable player.

That means in pve, while you can have a personal build you love, probably it will have a slight worse performance, because you might bring some more vitality, maybe thoughtness, maybe some weapon you love that deals less dmg, that kind of things, while they can be good for you, its probable that youll reach a slight less number in dps than the meta build.

Now for wvw or pvp, there the most important factor is player skill, and the player adaptability to situations, if you go roaming with a "troll" build, or something... well maybe its not that troll, but a build that you found fitting to yourself and one that makes others find difficult to win because they dont know how to counter.

With all said, meta builds are exactly the best in slot, no matter who plays it a meta build is able ro do a decent job, and people that made those builds spent time so other didnt need to do so, for me it is a good purpose and a good thing.

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5 hours ago, Hallow.7368 said:

I think the problem is that it's actually really hard to discern the meta. Most of the time there are "off meta builds" that are actually better but aren't played because a buff it received or whatever reason there could be didn't seem impactful even though it was. I think the biggest example of this is scourge a while before EOD where nobody thought it was good even though it was and then they gave it a tiny buff and only then did people realize how ludicrously overpowered it was.

 

This probably applies to things even now. For example HFB probably isn't the best choice for at all but people are so accustomed to it and how easy it is to play plus not actually having to dodge or move because it'll just barf out aegis and stability for you you that they don't bother looking into alternatives that are probably better or at least just as good because spamming aegis and being borderline unkillable because of it still works just like it was before. Essentially when something has just "worked" for so long and still "works" why look for an alternative? "Meta chasers" don't actively chase a meta.. they just sit on something that wins until it doesn't win or becomes noticeably harder to win on.

Id say quite the opposite is true. The overall meta isn't focussed to speedclear through the content or to dps carry the rest of your team. The meta is focussed on doing the job your supposed to do and to provide a reliable way of doing so. This game barely has any dps checks at all. Dealing 20k+ on a normal boss encounter is already more then enough atm. The entire dps meta (mecha, virtuoso, scourge, soulbeast, firebrand) focusses on easy to play builds with decent range alternatives and some free/easy accessible group utility. Same goes for alac&quick providers, there are many classes that can provide some form of alac/quickness, but no one is able to beat Firebrand and mechanist in its consistency. On top of that firebrand is in a particularly special role since its able to provide extra boonsupport that no other class can provide. Any Dodge/knockdown/stun/walking out of AoE usually results in a dps loss of 10-50k per player affected. Every downed player is easily ~150k dmge loss. Any defeated player can result in a dps loss of upwards to ~7mil. The extra consistency a guardian provides for the rest of the group is simply alot more important.  

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To be fair, it's nice to group with people that play well suboptimal builds but it can be frustrating to miss out on boon uptime because you have suboptimal builds in your group.

At the end of the day, for the whole group's enjoyement, it might be better to have everyone take complementary builds instead of the specific build that they enjoy playing. I'm not saying that there isn't suboptimal builds that complement each other well, but you'd have to find the very specific players that know, play and enjoy them (which isn't going to be an easy task).

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It really depends what you are aiming for. My enjoyment comes from making a certain class fantasy come to life that I have in my mind. So if anyone demands I have to play my character in a different way I tell them to mind their own business. On the other hand I totally get that players get their enjoyment from playing as efficient as possible and totally mastering the math behind the game. There is no right or wrong approach, just different ones.

Edited by Padrion.7382
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It's hard to have a meaningful discussion of the "meta" without specific parameters.  What game mode are we talking?  Solo play or group play?

In organized group PvE (raids/fractals/strikes) it's often difficult to deviate dramatically from the meta while actually improving your performance because roles are more rigidly defined.  For instance, there is no benefit to a DPS role taking additional healing or boons in their build when healing and boons are covered by support roles.  Likewise for stats.

You could take off-meta weapons, but often they are either interchangeable or segregated by function.  For instance, condi weaver has viable builds with mostly similar benchmarks in all weapon types but a condi soulbeast would gain nothing from taking greatsword.

In competitive and solo play there are too many variables to strictly define a meta.

For example, I perform better on my weaver using the raid/fractal meta build in most situations in open world if I also include masteries (i.e. jade tech protocols).  With boons covered like they are in a group, even most champions die too quickly to be a problem.  But if you take away those boons some fights go long enough that I can't focus purely on damage.  I give up some damage but it ends up being a positive trade because I can go back to focusing purely on damage rather than playing defensively.

Where that choice makes sense is going to vary by player ability and the specifics of the encounter, so it's fairly useless to attempt to define a one-size-fits-all meta for something like that.

Likewise for competitive.  In PvP it's a team game.  How effective your build is will vary greatly depending upon your ability, the ability of your teammates and opponents, the builds they are using, etc.  What is "meta" can mean very different things to a premade 5-man tournament group than it does to a solo queue player in silver.

WvW solo meta doesn't even make sense.  I mean, you're in a 1v3 one minute, the next you're 1v1 against a new player or 1v1 against Vallun roaming on stream.  You could be fighting any class on any build.  It's such a mixed bag it's impossible to define a "best" build for anything there.  But in organized group play you again have specific roles and a meta starts to make a lot more sense.

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6 hours ago, the krytan assassin.9235 said:

Id say quite the opposite is true. The overall meta isn't focussed to speedclear through the content or to dps carry the rest of your team. The meta is focussed on doing the job your supposed to do and to provide a reliable way of doing so. This game barely has any dps checks at all. Dealing 20k+ on a normal boss encounter is already more then enough atm. The entire dps meta (mecha, virtuoso, scourge, soulbeast, firebrand) focusses on easy to play builds with decent range alternatives and some free/easy accessible group utility. Same goes for alac&quick providers, there are many classes that can provide some form of alac/quickness, but no one is able to beat Firebrand and mechanist in its consistency. On top of that firebrand is in a particularly special role since its able to provide extra boonsupport that no other class can provide. Any Dodge/knockdown/stun/walking out of AoE usually results in a dps loss of 10-50k per player affected. Every downed player is easily ~150k dmge loss. Any defeated player can result in a dps loss of upwards to ~7mil. The extra consistency a guardian provides for the rest of the group is simply alot more important.  

Then how is "the opposite true"?

People have stuck to the likes of HFB despite tons and tons of nerfs because it's simple to play and still works. It still barfs out aegis, quickness and the rest of the important common boons so why change when it works? Druid tempest and heal herald heal way more than HFB, provide all the same basic boons and provide one of the big boons (alac or quick).. but aegis is still spammable on heal mantra. HFB still functions pretty much the exact same boon wise and therefore still wins because it still allows people to ignore some big attacks. Besides that even if you took like alac druid or tempest you'd probably end up with a quickness fb using some ritualist gear or something along those lines anyways because the other DPS quickness options are.. not fantastic to say the least. Most quick dps tend to require a pretty large amount of boon duration or don't do outstanding DPS even if they don't.

 

The quickness dps options are like what? Pchrono without chronophantasma (so fairly awful DPS because of not having that trait while keeping it's notoriously long ramp time also relies on having a good group), quickness scraper (bad DPS, needs lots of boon duration, utility slots are more or less locked and inflexible due to needing pretty much all gyros to keep quickness from dropping), quickness power herald (not TERRIBLE but you're locked to glint and the espec is designed to be a support plus it's quickness trait competes directly with it's only damage trait), quickness catalyst (overwhelming piano class that's more or less a trainwreck to play, also super reliant on having teammates who are very good) or qharb which is pretty solid to be fair. 

 

So basically hfb still wins. No reason to change since the rest of the quickness sources still aren't that good. If you're going to inevitably run firebrand for quickness and aegis regardless you may as well keep them as a healer and then be open to all the good DPS alac builds. But is it particularly meta? Eh hard to say. There could be some really on par or even better combinations to run with druid/tempest as your healer but people stick to HFB because it never stopped being effective. The only way to get a real sense of meta is to play the game a ton yourself and actively test out all of the builds extensively. The meta changes monthly and the internet is littered with old info. Nothing from like may or sept of this year will provide any insight into what is good right now.

 

And speed clearers aren't meta chasers. If anything they innovate builds and group comps to fully utilize a specific niche that would be borderline impossible for anyone not up to the same level of skill and coordination to pull off. They tend to do things such as stack DPS bladesworns to get 100% quickness without a dedicated boon support for it (no BD just each one bringing like 25% uptime or so) or how they used to stack catalyst (for the same reason as bladesworns). These high end players don't even actually use healing builds they rely purely on aegis, projectile hate, condi cleanse and dodges to avoid the vast majority of damage and use small amounts of sustain/personal heal skills/soulcleave (if they have a rene) to heal whatever they do end up taking.

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