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GW2 Combat & Build Making (Guide)


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In this guide you will learn the following:

  1. How to apply the Combat Mechanics.
  2. How to make your own Builds efficiently.
  3. Tips on helping you pick the right class

GW2’s Combat System is based on 3 Combat Mechanics:Damage/Control/Support

Every class has their own ways of dealing Damage while staying in Control and being able to Support themselves, while moving and dodging from incoming attacks to stay self-efficient. This means there are no traditional Tanks, Healers and DPS roles in Guild Wars 2 and if you're not self-efficient, you become a liability to your team. You are responsible for your own survival and contribution. A good solo player who is self-efficient can be a huge asset to the team in group based content. In a group based content you want to be able to coordinate Control with your team, while Supporting each other, and help contribute in dealing Damage while moving and dodging from incoming attack. If you can take care of yourself, then you can take care of others who need your help.

(Damage) is important for every class to help contribute in. It’s the very thing that helps you kill the enemy. There are 2 types of Damage skills: Direct Damage & Condition Damage.
Damage = Burst, Projectile, Bleeding, Burning, Torment, Poison, Confusion, etc.

(Control) is when you take control of the Enemy. It's when you make it difficult for the enemy to attack you, putting you in control of combat.Control = Stun, Daze, Chill, Cripple, Immobilize, Blind, Push, Pull, Knockdown, Freeze, Weaken, Stealth, etc.

(Support) is when you support yourself by enhancing your combat abilities while keeping yourself alive. It's is when you use Heals, Boons, Blocks, or Condition Removals.Support = Healing, Swiftness, Regen, Protect, Fury, Might, Vigor, Stability, Retaliation, Haste, Aegis, Endurance Refill, etc.

That being said, this game is based on a Dynamic Combat System. Every second the combat situation changes and you need to learn how to adapt to these changes by using skills you need, otherwise, you’ll just end up dead.

Please watch this video to learn how Damage/Control/Support skills can be applied in Combat:

HOW TO BUILD YOUR CLASSMaking Builds in Guild Wars 2 is similar to building your deck in a trading card game.You can build your class to play anyway you want! But you can't be peeking at other people's builds. This is to ensure people in PvP can't just look up someone else's build just to make a counter build prior to PvP matches, since that would be considered cheating. The less your opponent knows about your build, the better since it makes you unpredictable. You also can't be peaking at other people's build in PvE either because it's to encourage new players to experiment in creative ways of making their own builds instead of copying someone else's while leveling up. This game is all about builds. Every build has a strength and weakness. So it is encouraged to make different kinds of builds for different encounters.

There are 3 steps in build making:

Step #1 - Choose Skills that fits YOUR Playstyle.This first step is the roots to build making. Let's say for example you're playing an Elementalist class and one of the skills that you use that fits your playstyle is called "Armor of Earth". This skill is a Support/Control skill that puts you back in Control with Break Stun, while Supporting you with Protection, which reduces the damage you take, and Stability, which makes you immune to Control Effects.

Step #2 - Choose Traits to Enhance YOUR Playstyle.Now that you know what skills you enjoy playing with, it's time to choose Traits that would modify and enhance the way you play with them. For example: You may choose a Specialization called "Water" and select a Trait called "Soothing Water" to modify a skills you use a lot, in this case "Armor of Earth". With this Trait, not only does your Armor of Earth grant you Break Stun, and Support you with Protection & Stability, but it will now in addition grant you Regen which heals you over time, and Vigor which makes your endurance regen 50% faster so that you can dodge more frequently. On top of that, it will reduce your Armor of Earth skill cool down by 20%.

Step #3 - Choose Stats to Optimize YOUR Playstyle!This is the FINAL Step! Once you know what skills fits your playstyle and which traits best modify and enhance the way you play, you should have a better idea what Stats you'll need to Optimize the build you have just created! For example: We know "Armor of Earth" is Control/Support Skill that puts you back in Control with Break Stun, while Supporting you with Protection and Stability and we know this skill will also grant you Regen and Vigor thanks too the Trait "Soothing Water" which enhances your playstyle, so perhaps the stats that may interest you to optimize your build would be Healing Power to increase how much you get healed for when you have Regen on, and Boon Duration stat to increase how long Protection, Stability, Vigor and Regen can last. Remember the longer Regen lasts, the more it heals you!!! Talk about optimization!

Please watch this next video to learn and see examples on how Build Making can be applied!

CHOOSING YOUR CLASS:Choose from 9 distinct professions, each with its own unique powers and devastating attacks. No matter how you like to play, you’ll find a profession that fits your style. Each profession has their own ways of dealing Damage/Control/Support and there are many kinds of builds you can create with them. It's like choosing a flavor for ice cream! All classes have Melee and Ranged weapon skills. Even a Ranger can go full melee and kick puppies! You can test out all classes in the PvP Lobby which will boost your character to lvl80 with access to all skills, traits and stats unlocked so you can experiment with build making as well.

This last video demonstrates one way of playing all 9 classes and what they can potentially do to help give you an idea what you can expect:

In ConclusionGW2’s combat system is a fast paced, and action oriented game which allows you to customize your character’s playstyle in many different ways using Skill, Traits and Stat choices.

Step#1 – Choose Skills that Fits YOUR PlaystyleStep#2 – Choose Traits to Enhance YOUR PlaystyleStep#3 – Choose Stats that Optimize YOUR Playstyle

Damage/Control/Support

Congratulations!Now all you have to do is apply what you learned and see what kind of builds and playstyles you can make!There are no best builds!For every great build out there, there’s always going to be a great Counter Build just for it! So be prepared and be creative and most importantly, have fun !

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@DreamyAbaddon.3265 said:Reserving this post to extend guide later

You are aware that you cannot edit your post later? ;) Also, it's knock, not knowck. =) But what is "stone" supposed to be exactly?

Apart from these minor flaws, I am sure this is helpful for many new players as the game isn't self-explanatory and offers no real tutorial. Thus, thumbs up. :)

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@Ashantara.8731 said:

@DreamyAbaddon.3265 said:Reserving this post to extend guide later

You are aware that you cannot edit your post later? ;) Also, it's knock, not knowck. =) But what is "stone" supposed to be exactly?

Apart from these minor flaws, I am sure this is helpful for many new players as the game isn't self-explanatory and offers no real tutorial. Thus, thumbs up. :)

Omg you're right! I'm still new to this forum... I can't believe you can't edit. :anguished: I can't make spelling corrections either.And I really wanted to add Combo Fields and Finishers to this guide. Do you know if this feature will be added?

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The only thing I'd nitpick is that you should basically always avoid defensive stats unless you're playing support, because, in most situations with most classes, your defense is better served by having better offense. Ironically, this is even more true on squishier classes with better active damage avoid like Thief.

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@Einlanzer.1627 said:The only thing I'd nitpick is that you should basically always avoid defensive stats unless you're playing support, because, in most situations with most classes, your defense is better served by having better offense. Ironically, this is even more true on squishier classes with better active damage avoid like Thief.

Défensives stats are good for barrier, are good for necromancers, etc..

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@Einlanzer.1627 said:The only thing I'd nitpick is that you should basically always avoid defensive stats unless you're playing support, because, in most situations with most classes, your defense is better served by having better offense. Ironically, this is even more true on squishier classes with better active damage avoid like Thief.

It is certainly true that defensive stats are not optimal in many situations, but it is not usually true in my experience that your defense is better served by offensive gear. In the vast majority of circumstances, you will survive better in defense gear even if enemies have an opportunity to deal more damage as a result because you have more health, take less damage per hit, and heal it back more quickly with stats like vitality, toughness, and healing power.

It actually took me longer to defeat this boss with less defensive gear and/or traits using the same class and weapon set because I spent considerably more time attempting to avoid damage that I could safely absorb using this setup (full celestial, water/earth/tempest). With full berserker and even full zealot gear I was unable to defeat the boss at all as I would succumb to spike damage sooner or later with only 11.6k health and no additional toughness. The much higher healing power on the zealot set became irrelevant when I took too much damage too quickly to heal it back.

In this video you can see that I frequently exchange hits with the boss in order to drop area effect fields on her and finish her breakbar, which I couldn't afford to do in offensive gear. Despite taking extra damage that I could have avoided by playing more defensively, the boss was never able to come close to downing me. I simply had too much health, took too little damage, and healed through the damage I did take so quickly that I never once used overload water or my healing skill 6 active.

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@AliamRationem.5172 said:

@Einlanzer.1627 said:The only thing I'd nitpick is that you should basically always avoid defensive stats unless you're playing support, because, in most situations with most classes, your defense is better served by having better offense. Ironically, this is even more true on squishier classes with better active damage avoid like Thief.

It is certainly true that defensive stats are not optimal in many situations, but it is not usually true in my experience that your defense is better served by offensive gear. In the vast majority of circumstances, you will survive better in defense gear even if enemies have an opportunity to deal more damage as a result because you have more health, take less damage per hit, and heal it back more quickly with stats like vitality, toughness, and healing power.

It actually took me longer to defeat this boss with less defensive gear and/or traits using the same class and weapon set because I spent considerably more time attempting to avoid damage that I could safely absorb using this setup (full celestial, water/earth/tempest). With full berserker and even full zealot gear I was unable to defeat the boss at all as I would succumb to spike damage sooner or later with only 11.6k health and no additional toughness. The much higher healing power on the zealot set became irrelevant when I took too much damage too quickly to heal it back.

In this video you can see that I frequently exchange hits with the boss in order to drop area effect fields on her and finish her breakbar, which I couldn't afford to do in offensive gear. Despite taking extra damage that I could have avoided by playing more defensively, the boss was never able to come close to downing me. I simply had too much health, took too little damage, and healed through the damage I did take so quickly that I never once used overload water or my healing skill 6 active.

Very nice video! Thanks for sharing! :+1:

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@DreamyAbaddon.3265 said:

@AliamRationem.5172 said:

@Einlanzer.1627 said:The only thing I'd nitpick is that you should basically always avoid defensive stats unless you're playing support, because, in most situations with most classes, your defense is better served by having better offense. Ironically, this is even more true on squishier classes with better active damage avoid like Thief.

It is certainly true that defensive stats are not optimal in many situations, but it is not usually true in my experience that your defense is better served by offensive gear. In the vast majority of circumstances, you will survive better in defense gear even if enemies have an opportunity to deal more damage as a result because you have more health, take less damage per hit, and heal it back more quickly with stats like vitality, toughness, and healing power.

It actually took me longer to defeat this boss with less defensive gear and/or traits using the same class and weapon set because I spent considerably more time attempting to avoid damage that I could safely absorb using this setup (full celestial, water/earth/tempest). With full berserker and even full zealot gear I was unable to defeat the boss at all as I would succumb to spike damage sooner or later with only 11.6k health and no additional toughness. The much higher healing power on the zealot set became irrelevant when I took too much damage too quickly to heal it back.

In this video you can see that I frequently exchange hits with the boss in order to drop area effect fields on her and finish her breakbar, which I couldn't afford to do in offensive gear. Despite taking extra damage that I could have avoided by playing more defensively, the boss was never able to come close to downing me. I simply had too much health, took too little damage, and healed through the damage I did take so quickly that I never once used overload water or my healing skill 6 active.

Very nice video! Thanks for sharing! :+1:

Funny how this is actually a perfect Open World fight where everyone has died to this encounter at one time.

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This had potential to be a really decent post for starters, but you had to spoil it with pushing your own agenda, right?

You also can't be peaking at other people's build in PvE either because it's to encourage new players to experiment in creative ways of making their own builds instead of copying someone else's while leveling up.

Yeah well, that's just, like, your opinion, man. Unless you can show that this is the official reason for not making builds directly visible to other players. In fact, you can see which weapons other players use. You can see which passive boons they get. You can see which element an Elementalist is attuned to, you can see if a thief is using specific skills. You can see animations that tell someone if I trait Unhindered Combatant or Bound. If the Elementalist creates a ring of fire when landing on ground, it tells you something about the traits he uses. You can see many more things by watching other people play because they are not secret. In fact, copying other builds is a great way to learn the game, just like other games. When you start something, you watch those who are better than most and copy them. Only then you learn more, and at some point, you adjust and find your own style. This works in all kinds of games, music, sports, culture. Do you really think GW2 is different?

Without the emphasis on "Your Playstyle" (which you used 9 times in that short guide) it's a useful guide. Sadly, I really get the feeling that your message here is not only to provide a useful guide for starters, but also to convince players to not check what works well before they go out there and play. If you follow this path, you will waste a lot of time struggling, because there are builds that work better than others, and I don't think it's fair to tell new players that all classes and all builds are equally valuable. That just leads to disappointment and bad feelings when you see other people doing content easily with another or even the same class, while you struggle. This creative playing around always comes after you learned your craft. And you learn a craft by watching how others execute it, not by fumbling around as a beginner. Only very few geniuses are able to pull that off in arts, music, technology or culture. I don't see why it should be different in a game. Even in your gaming card example, a beginner will watch how the experienced one built his deck while playing, and copy it afterwards, then, at some point, tweak it.

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@Faaris.8013 said:

You can see which passive boons they get. You can see which element an Elementalist is attuned to, you can see if a thief is using specific skills. You can see animations that tell someone if I trait Unhindered Combatant or Bound. If the Elementalist creates a ring of fire when landing on ground, it tells you something about the traits he uses. You can see many more things by watching other people play

Don't forget, veteran players have an advantage over new players when it comes to this. If you are experienced enough to know what other classes can do by seeing what weapons they use and you can tell what traits or builds your opponents are using by the effects you are encountering then you clearly have an advantage over new players who lack this knowledge. Hell most new players don't even know what their skills do half of the time. This all comes down to player's knowledge which comes with experience in playing the game. You are right though, you can learn a lot from watching other people play and anaylize their tactics. But I don't encourage copying it. I encourage newbies to learn how to make a build that will counter it instead.

because they are not secret.Just because you can see the weapons and boons your opponents are using. and you can tell what class they are by how they are fighting and what their tactics are by the way they are fighting does not mean your build is not a secret. In fact your build is a secret because you can't inspect other people's entire build in the first place. Every build has a counter build. If someone knows what build you are running by inspecting you, then they can create a counter build before they even fight you. You don't want to be predictable otherwise you can easily be countered by your opponents. There is a reason why you can't inspect other people's build with just a mouse click. It defeats the purpose of competitive pvp and discourages new players from experimenting with their own build in general. It's by design.

In fact, copying other builds is a great way to learn the game

I disagree, which is why I made this guide in the first place.

just like other games. When you start something, you watch those who are better than most and copy them.

That is one way to do it.

Only then you learn more

People learn more in different ways. There isn't only one way to learn more. This guide is just another way a new player can learn more.

and at some point, you adjust and find your own style.

In this guide, I teach new players what the combat mechanics are, and show examples on how they can be applied during combat, and the 3 steps a new player can take to learn how to make their own build that fits their playstyle. I even suggested new players to go to the PvP lobby so they can experiment with their skills, traits and stats to figure out what is best for their play style so they can apply what they learned by making their own builds they like to play with. Not everyone learns by copying others and making slight changes later.

This works in all kinds of games, music, sports, culture. Do you really think GW2 is different?

Different things work for different people. And yes, GW2 is a different game. Not all games play the same. Though you can learn playing different games in different ways.

Without the emphasis on "Your Playstyle" (which you used 9 times in that short guide) it's a useful guide. Sadly, I really get the feeling that your message here is not only to provide a useful guide for starters, but also to convince players to not check what works well before they go out there and play.

I am glad you find my guide useful to new players however, everyone has a different playstyle. What works well for some doesn't always work well for others. This guide is here to teach a man how to fish, not give a man a fish. The purpose of this guide is to teach people the steps in how they can make the builds that they want to play through learning the mechanics and build making principles. It is their choice to build what they want in the end.

If you follow this path, you will waste a lot of time struggling, because there are builds that work better than others, and I don't think it's fair to tell new players that all classes and all builds are equally valuable.

I've been theory crafting build making since GW2 launched.... And I can tell you this: All Builds have strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing of one best build for everything and there is no such thing as all builds are equal. Some builds are better at encountering a certain situation than others. I encourage creativity because when a new player learns the combat mechanics and build making principles, they can make different kinds of builds that can do well at different kinds of things. Even GW1 was all about build making though the build making principles are a little different in GW1.

That just leads to disappointment and bad feelings when you see other people doing content easily with another or even the same class, while you struggle.

Build making is all about trial and error. Experimentation is key to understanding.

This creative playing around always comes after you learned your craft.

This creative playing around is learning your craft. You can't learn your craft if you don't experiment with what you got and figure out how things work and why they work the way they do to see what you like and dislike when making the builds you want to play.

And you learn a craft by watching how others execute it, not by fumbling around as a beginner.

I disagree. Copying other people is not always the best way to learn for everybody. In fact I discourage copying other people's build because in my opinion it doesn't teach new players what the build making principles are. In fact most people I've seen judge a class based on the "Meta build" and say the class isn't for them because they didn't like the playstyle when in reality, they just didn't understand the combat mechanics and build making principles. Some of those people I have taught had a change of heart once I taught them and went back to give their old class a second chance and some actually liked it better than before and stayed with it while others decided to truly dig deeper to what other classes can offer them with what they have learned. This from my experience says a lot which is why I decided to make this guide in the first place, so that I wouldn't have too explain it in game every time I come across new players I meet. I am sorry you do not agree with my method of teaching.

Only very few geniuses are able to pull that off in arts, music, technology or culture. I don't see why it should be different in a game. Even in your gaming card example, a beginner will watch how the experienced one built his deck while playing, and copy it afterwards, then, at some point, tweak it.

Again this is one way to do it and I don't think it takes a few geniuses to pull off learning it the way I have. I am simply providing new players knowledge so that they can use this tool to be creative in making what they want to play. It's like I am teaching a newbie how to play a trading card game, and how to make their own deck, then allowing them to review all the cards so they can be encouraged to think about how their deck will play while putting the cards they like together. Trading card games have a strategy. Each deck has it's own strategy but if a new player doesn't know the rules of the game or the build making principles for buildng a deck, then that new player is going in with his or her head cut off. Those who learn from my guide and wish to copy other people's build anyways can still do so if they desire as you recommend, but I encourage creativity. That is how I teach.

Unless you can show that this is the official reason for not making builds directly visible to other players.

I can't say this is the official reason why you can't inspect other people's build since ArenaNet hasn't mentioned it however it makes perfect sense why you cannot inspect other people's build in this game as a design decision since this game is all about build making when it comes to combat. And each build does have strength and weaknesses, not to mention every build can be countered. Being able to inspect someone's entire build with a click would pretty much defeat the purpose of competitive pvp and discourage new players from experimenting with their own builds while leveling in general. Feel free to disagree.

Anyways Let's not turn this thread into a debate. I worked hard on this guide to help new players who want to learn how to make builds and improve in combat and I don't want this thread to end up getting locked. If you enjoyed my guide then that's awesome! If not then I am sorry for wasting your time. I wish you the best. Have a good one. :+1:

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  • 1 year later...
  • 6 months later...

Thanks for your encouragement. I dumped WoW because I hated being told how to play, how to gear. (Pure drudgery if you ask me.)

Re: Your thoughts on learning styles. You are 100% correct.

Being less analytical in nature and leaning more toward the creative, my builds are based entirely on how what I try, "feels". And as a result I love playing all of my characters! I solo play them successfully in PVE and WvW. As well, I enjoy PVP quite often. (All modes with the same build btw...)

No I won't ever be a tournament player, but as I never watch or pay any attention to that anyway... ah well!

So what do I do in GW2? I have fun. ;-) Furthermore, the only time I haven't had fun? Is when I've tried copying and using others ideas of what the, 'best builds" are.

Life is full of people who want to tell you how to live it.

Don't give in. Just play. ;-)

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