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Dragon Banners: A Thorough Look at Problems & Solutions


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Many of us were disappointed about the lack of appropriately targeted balance changes to Dragon Banners with the last balance patch. This post intends to act as a compendium of problems and potential solutions to bring banners more into balance in WvW.


Dragon's Breath (Skill #5)

Getting straight to the point, the number 5 skill on Dragon Banners is seen as one of its most fundamental issues presently. With the nerfs to damage, sustain and healing across the board in the large balance patch some time ago for all classes, items like the Dragon Banner were completely skipped over as its power coefficients went unchanged. This alone was a huge buff to the Dragon Banner in real terms since, with its unchanged 2.0 power damage coefficient, it’s effectively the hardest hitting skill in WvW by some margin and, as a result of the healing nerfs, even more difficult to sustain a group that gets hit by it than before.

This has led to its usage being heightened after the damage/healing coefficient reduction patch, with wielders doing a very substantial portion of a group’s overall DPS from fight to fight, with their damage typically eclipsing non-banner users’ damage by a very large margin.

The generous 20 player damage cap, 4x that of typical AoE skills, the 8 second duration which it lasts and the huge 1800 distance it covers in length are all contributory factors that have turned this single skill into something very problematic within the current ecosystem, particularly when you consider the typical scenario of multiple Dragon Banners being in-play at the same time from a single group.

On top of the already high baseline power coefficient of this skill, it’s also capable and commonly used by classes whose traits synergize with it to do even more damage. Common revenant builds, for example, use traits like Unsuspecting Strikes and Swift Termination that can provide 20%+ damage on top of the baseline, making it hit even harder. There are a plethora of other traits and opportunities for synergy that create higher damage scenarios for this skill, or attach conditions like Immobilize to strikes from the banner that make it more difficult to avoid, particularly in tight chokes or narrow corridors of which there are numerous.

Dragon Blast (Skill #3)

In addition to skill 5 being untouched in the patch that changed power coefficients en masse, skill 3 (the uncapped knock-back ability) was similarly untouched. It is one of the few CCs that remain in WvW after the patch that still do damage on top of its CC and has a coefficient of 2.5.

The skill’s CC is disruptive enough as it is, again considering multiple banners are usually being used and the fact it has no target cap. Even assuming a perfect scenario of everyone having stability, this skill can strip stab stacks like no other whilst still retaining its damage component.

Survivability of Banner Wielders

There’s currently very little risk and a lot of reward if you’re a banner carrier. Not only do you retain access to your heal, class utility and elite skills while wielding a banner, you’re also effectively completely immune to all CCs due to having a break bar and skill 4 grants you superspeed so you can kite and peel even easier.

I assume the original concept of giving banner wielders a break bar was to act as some kind of balance mechanic. If you’re out of position, play too aggressively or get focused with CC you get stunned for 5 seconds. This doesn’t happen in reality though due to the wielder retaining access to their class skills, which usually include stun breaks so they can bypass the stun trivially. Having the break bar is a huge advantage, since banner carriers are completely immune to all CC effects making them incredibly hard to catch and punish for sloppy play or being out of position.

Retaining utility and elite skills also provides many opportunities for banner carriers to use the various escapes, teleports and stealth mechanics tied to their class that, combined with their CC immunity and access to superspeed, means you have to really mess up in order to ever die while carrying a banner.

Downtime and Frequency of Availability

Assuming players who wield a banner utilize them for their full duration of 15 minutes, which is common due to their CC immunity and ability to use escapes inherent to whatever class they’re using as they have access to their utility skills and elite as discussed, there is only a 5 minute window where a banner is unavailable from a structure before the next one can be collected, since the banner tactic refreshes in 20 minutes.

Since this is a very short window, this guarantees almost perpetual uptime of banners as the cooldown window is not significant enough to matter.

Strongest Force Amplifier/Snowball Effect

A justification could possibly be made for the power and impact Dragon Banners bring to the table if they were employed by underdog servers who were unable to match the numbers of the other groups on the map. You could argue the advantages banners bring are reasonable in that scenario. In reality, however, that is not how they are used in most cases.

Instead of helping weaker servers or groups, it’s often those who are outnumbered or have weaker groups who take the brunt of banners even more because how they work fundamentally favors the server that’s already got the dominant force on the map. The dominant force has an easier time defending and upgrading its structures while taking more territory from enemy realms, which ultimately results in more tactic slots to slot additional banners in to.

This often results in a very skewed and demoralizing snowball effect for groups attempting to fight a group that is dominant as the strongest group on the map can elect to, in some cases, carry 3, 4 or even 5+ Dragon Banners at any given time. This can easily change an already uphill struggle into an insurmountable and impossible fight. This changes the dynamic from a potentially fun, fighting-from-behind underdog challenge to a demoralizing, waste-of-time situation which can quickly make commanders and players simply log off due to the frustration of the whole ordeal, which is far from a healthy gameplay experience.

Fun Factor/Arms Race

With the strength of the banners as they stand, large group fights often boil down to an arms race as to which group can bring the most Dragon Banners to a fight in order to win it. If an enemy group is using 3 of them, this often forces you to pick some up yourself and gameplay is distilled into which side has the most banners or manages to land the biggest Dragon Banner #5 or #3 at the right time. This takes a lot away from the enjoyment of fights for many as these banners are so powerful they can completely dictate a fight’s outcome.


I’m not a game designer and I’m sure there are many complex lines of consideration that go into balance decisions. These are, however, some things that have been discussed as potential solutions among the WvW communities that I’m a part of that could go some way into mitigating how problematic Dragon Banners are for the game mode currently. The low hanging fruit here is obviously just adjusting the damage of the relevant skills, but if banners have to be kept at current or similar power levels there are some other ideas included on how they could be kept powerful and balanced.

Reduce Power Coefficients of Skill #5 and #3

One of the simplest and easiest solutions, as mentioned, is to bring the damage of skills #5 and #3 more in line with everything else in the game mode. As a CC skill, skill 3 could be brought more in line with all of the other CCs and do negligible damage instead of the non-trivial amount it does presently.

The uncapped knock back of skill 3 is already incredibly powerful on its own which, by itself, may need to be re-balanced to perhaps include a cap or have an increased cooldown.

Many assumed these skills would be the primary target of the previous balance patch due to their strength presently, yet they sadly went untouched.

Reduce Size/Duration/Width/Cap of Banner Skill #5

The 1800 length of the 5 skill could be reduced, or the width of the skill effect shrank and/or the duration reduced from 8s in order to make it less have less of an impact or deny less of an area during a fight. If adjusting the 20 player cap for this skill is on the table, that could also be brought down to mitigate the impact a single banner wielder can have on an opposing group.

Reduce Banner Availability

The 15 minute duration of the banner could be reduced and/or the 20 minute cooldown on pulling out another banner from the same structure could be increased to reduce banner availability across the board.

Limiting Banners to Region of Structure They’re Slotted In

Banners are an anomaly in relation to how other structural tactics work. All of the other tactics enhance the defensive capabilities of the structure they’re in. Banners, however, can be picked up from any structure and used anywhere on the map, which contributes to the snowball effect and multiple banner stacking issues I’ve discussed above.

Limiting banners so they’re only usable within the region of the structure they’re slotted in seems like a fair compromise to their strength. This guarantees only 1 banner will ever be in play during a fight and the defenders will have it, which seems reasonable to aid defending teams.

Limit Active Banners Per Team

A cap could be added to a map that limits the number of banners in use at any given time, to avoid situations of teams using 3, 4 or 5+ banners at once giving them an overwhelming advantage.

Scale Banner Availability to Map Numbers

Many of us wouldn’t have any resentment at all if banners were powerful tactics employed by smaller groups fighting substantially larger numbers as an equalizer, but for the reasons stated earlier that isn’t often the case currently.

One idea I’ve heard raised was giving access to banners depending on the amount of difference your team has in numbers compared to the other groups on the map. If things were equal, no one would have banners. If a team was substantially outnumbered, banners would become available to them and they would lose that advantage if the numbers started equalizing.

Add an Element of Risk for Banner Wielders

Consider removing the ability of a class to use their utility/elite skills whilst wielding a banner, or at least preventing an individual from breaking their own stun if their CC break bar gets knocked out. This would mean banner carriers would have to play more carefully and have less access to survival skills, making playing a glass cannon DPS class with a dragon banner require substantially more careful play than presently. There should be drawbacks to having access to the powerful banner skills if they’re kept as-is.


If you made it this far, thanks for reading. As someone who has played and commanded on both the NA and EU regions across multiple servers, one big, unifying issue that I hear from everyone regardless of where I’m playing is the frustration surrounding these banners, so I hope ANet takes this feedback on board, realizes they’re still a problem for many in our game mode and makes an attempt to balance them further with future updates.

Update - 23rd July

ANet have confirmed they will be making changes to Dragon Banners during a Twitch stream, which is certainly welcome news. Hopefully toning down #3 and #5 with an eye to potentially limiting banners to the region of the structure they're slotted in in future, as discussed in the stream, can bring them into balance and make them a less oppressive and snowball-encouraging mechanic moving forward.

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I feel like this post does a really good job of covering the frustration and problems that come with dragon banners. As a casual WvW player I avoid using dragon banners and following commanders who use dragon banners unless our opponents are spamming us with them. I fully support everything that Tiffany says in this post and await the coming changes.

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Fully agree. Tactics should have a meaningful effect on fights. They should help a small group of defenders hold out over a slightly superior force. But Dragon Banners in particular are too powerful, too accessible, and lack meaningful counterplay.

We have established design and balance principles in this game that are supposed to control the power level of abilities. An ability can have hard CC or high damage, but not both - but Dragon Banner 3 has a huge power coefficient, a knockback, and does it even have a target cap? AoE abilities are allowed to deal lots of damage to a few players, or a little bit of damage to a lot of players - but Dragon Banner 5 has a great power coefficient, a target cap of 20, long duration, and great area denial, easily covering the entire width of a choke point like walls, bridges, or tunnels. These abilities need to be tuned to be more in line with the standards by which all other skills are balanced. Dragon Banner 3 seems to be intended as a CC skill, so its damage should be reduced. Dragon Banner 5 is an AoE damage skill, but needs a reduction in either damage or target cap. It's fine for these abilities to be a bit stronger than your average weapon skill - but they are way beyond that right now.

The Dragon Banner tactic - available at tier 2 in every keep and tower, and with an uptime of 15 minutes out of every 20 - is also too readily accessible. One side can maintain 3 banners continuously without even holding anything outside their own corner of EBG. In fact, rather than being a powerful tool to help defenders hold out against a slightly larger force, they act as a "win more" mechanic, giving the side with more territory (probably the side with greater numbers) huge area effect DPS and CC advantages as well. Limiting the number of active banners, increasing the tactivator cooldown, or limiting how far they can be carried, would still allow them to be used to defend the structure where they are slotted, without allowing them to imbalance the entire map.

Finally - we must return to the original design of the Dragon Banner disabling the wielder's utility skills. The CC bar was always intended to provide counterplay - CC the banner wielder to stun them, and get an opportunity to take them down. Instead, banner wielders use stunbreak and mobility skills - which the banner was never designed around - to unload skills 5 and 3 on an enemy group, and to easily retreat at the first sign of pressure. If it is possible to disable the utility skills while carrying a banner, then it is probably possible to balance the banner with smaller nerfs to power and accessibility - just fix the overtuned jack-of-all-trades skills. However, access to stunbreaks and mobility skills allows the banner wielder to easily escape enemy pressure, and while they have access to those extra abilities, I believe that a significant nerf either to power level (bringing it in line with a normal weapon set) or to accessibility (limiting it to one per map, or preventing them from being carried too far away from the structure where they were spawned) is required.

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When the "supposed to be" top players / guilds from "top servers" are changing strategies to put in multiple banners down on fight or else, avoid these fights, you know something is broken.

You nerfed scourge? No big deal, just bring 3 banners instead of one, that should do it.

There should be a single use on the banner and it should only be used in the keep it was picked in. For example, you have one in the keep. Use it to defend the keep / lord under attack. You shouldnt be able to bring it all the way accross the map to bomb a choke point 3 times. Or else, make it 1 use / map at any time

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Good post, fully agree with the issues.

I'm favouring that one solution about Banners being tied to their location so that only defenders have access to them and no more zergs running several banners at once.This makes the most sense to me and turns Banners into a purely defensive strategy which to me sounds great.

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@Tiffany.8576 I totally agree dragon banners should be removed as all the others as well. WvW in a whole needs a lot more. Just let us fight properly. The fight should not be decided on how many banners there is. If a server is not good enough its up to them to GET GOOD. Why Should a person like me practices and works hard a class why should some one in a tower or a keep kill me coz he knows how to pick up a dragon banner. its insulting to a player that's worked hard. I am so fed up of servers humping siege and walls. You have made the game soft and easy for lazy players that does not want to learn there class. I know ill probably get stick for saying it but it needs to be said and that's end of it. Anet you said you were working toward alliances. NO updates and you got me hyped about it but is it really gona happen i doubt it! think that was almost 2 years ago and you got my hopes up. well not even a update.....? Devs just a bit of advise listen to the people that have run WVW for a long time i know you have tried playing it. I even supported you with my guardian in these streams you were doing. i dont thing you all had a clue what you was doing. If you need help hit me up were a multi server WVW guild we have experienced players and we can help you understand WvW more.

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Anet is so eager to rework class skills that doesnt need rework, thats something they should apply to the banners. I really dont understand why they are weapons rather than the banners they are supposed to. Just change everything to support, problem solved. Sort of like having all warrior banners in 1 package. Add the ammo system for limited use per skill (with like 10m cd between ammo regen) and done.

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I agree with this. Dragon Banners are zerg-killers. This is fine for defenders, which is the banner's intended use (it's in a fortification, after all).

(Hm. I wonder if the uptick in the use of Dragon Banners is related at all to the sudden increase in lag time when multiple zergs are in the same territory? seems to have become a thing with the huge nerf...)

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ArenaNet got many things right with Guild Wars 2 and its game modes. Dragon Banners are not one of those things. It's safe to say that the majority of players share in a consensus regarding the hindrance these bring to the enjoyment of the WvW mode and the experience of the game overall. I'm surprised that no significant actions have been taken towards solving this issue, regardless of the fact that the community has brought it to the attention of the developers on numerous occasions. I understand that making these changes can be extremely complicated and could potentially present additional challenges at times, but one would think that a game mode which incorporates all modes of the game would be of highest priority. Excellent decision to rework mount-stomps!!! Now let's work on these banners...

Reworking the damage on Dragon Banners is a poor solution. The banners themselves are not the problem. I find no issue in having the damage of all skills left as is or even increased. The core of the problem is in how they are being used. When and where they are accessible. When and where they are being utilized. Although a few possess offensive properties, all other tactics are defensive within the boundaries of an objective. Banners are the exception. They can be carried across the map and used offensively and in the case of Dragon Banners, to cause major damage. This obviously creates an unfair offensive advantage for its wielders, especially during outnumbered situations.

The poster outlined quite a few possible solutions to this. I agree with the majority of what has been mentioned. In an ideal world server links would be more balanced and none of this would be an issue. If host servers and link servers were linked in a way which ensures that there's an even coverage across all time zones, the problems with the Dragon Banners could easily be countered with a bit of average-skilled game-play. Right now? There's no fun or point in logging in to fight groups of 60+ people carrying 6 Dragon Banners on 1 map when you're 15 people spread across 3 maps, trying to defend all of your objectives.

The best temporary solution I can think of is for Dragon Banners to only be active within the boundary of the objective from which they are obtained. Then all other proprieties of Dragon Banners could be left as is. If players are going to continue to be able to use them beyond those boundaries, the developers should take into account all of the aspects mentioned in the original post to find a solution or this competitive mode will slowly become more noncompetitive and eventually unplayable. The bottom line is that Dragon Banners should not be available for use to a server while they greatly outnumber either of the other servers on a map. No server should be able to carry 6 of them at any given time.

I have single-handily downed an entire guild group of 25+ in SMC on Power Scourge simply by using Dragon's Breath, dropping Well of Corruption, Well of Darkness, Well of Suffering, Ghastly Breach, Desert Shroud, popped off all staff skills and by that time my Shroud skills were recharged again. All that was left for my teammates to do was to cleave the downs as I ran through them with Trail of Anguish. Remove the one Dragon Banner skill I used from the equation and I probably would only have downed about 8 enemies max. Now imagine 6 Power Scourges, all in full Berserker armor, full sets of Scholar runes, running those triple wells, after consuming Peppercorn-Crusted Sous-Vide Steaks and Potent Superior Sharpening Stones, all equipped with Dragon Banners and a server group of 50+ players attacking all 15 of an opposing team's players. Balanced?

In a game about war and fighting, I think competitive modes like WvW should be fight-focused, revolve more around the skilled game-play of individuals or groups of and the skills which their chosen classes provide. As opposed to relying on external weapon or tactic sources to gain an unfair advantage. Nerfed mount-stomps? Excellent! Nerfed certain siege damage? Brilliant! Now the Dragon Banners need some work and to be straight forward, the WvW mode needs a bit more attention in general. I hope that these threads are taken into consideration with regards to the development and evolution of the game. Guild Wars 2 still holds an extreme amount of potential and opportunity. Both for ArenaNet and for the players.

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@Tiffany.8576 said:Reduce Size/Duration/Width/Cap of Banner Skill #5

The 1800 length of the 5 skill could be reduced, or the width of the skill effect shrank and/or the duration reduced from 8s in order to make it less have less of an impact or deny less of an area during a fight. If adjusting the 20 player cap for this skill is on the table, that could also be brought down to mitigate the impact a single banner wielder can have on an opposing group.

Stated it in another topic, but IMO the target cap is the thing that needs looking at the most. It's what makes multiple banners so cancerous to deal with. The damage on the 3 is a bit high as well, but it's the fact you can hit an entire zerg with the skills that makes the damage so problematic and encourages banner stacking. It also favors a solo mindset of 'I'm going to grab this banner because it makes me feel good with all these numbers on the screen. I'm really having an impact!'

If all the skills hit 5 targets like most weapons, you'd have something that can be impactful and a useful tool when used properly (And add something to things like rangers or mesmers whos weapons are typically the struggle point of them being in a zerg), but it wouldn't be something everyone would go out of their way to grab and stack.

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@GEEsus.4659 actually banners are in the balance process, they even m8 be removed and be adapted to be used as a panic button when some server is loosing a keep, devs said it on a recent live stream, i think they jkust want to observe how douche players can reach.

The block removal of players utilities while using a banner this needs to be done ASAP, imo would be the 1st and next step towards it, next would be remove dodge and maybe increase the defiant (thiefs and necruus i got my eye on uuuuuuuu).

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This won't be a popular opinion, but every single time I see one of these types of posts calling for dragon banner nerfs, I just can't relate. Especially the discussion about skill #5. Even when I've run with a pug group, the fire road is easily side stepped and avoided. My own personal experience has been that they're mostly just annoying. Maybe I'm just not running with bad/unorganized enough players or the opposing team with the banners is just bad at using them. /shrug

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@Chaba.5410 said:This won't be a popular opinion, but every single time I see one of these types of posts calling for dragon banner nerfs, I just can't relate. Especially the discussion about skill #5. Even when I've run with a pug group, the fire road is easily side stepped and avoided. My own personal experience has been that they're mostly just annoying. Maybe I'm just not running with bad/unorganized enough players or the opposing team with the banners is just bad at using them. /shrug

One banner, no problem. Two banners gets a bit tougher, but manageable. Three well placed banners? Getting out of control. Four of them? Goose is cooked.

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Just delete them. I feel the balance team is afraid to step on toes. Dude that's making these balance changes is taking half measure(dragon banner nerf was not enough) all the time. just make a big shake up and i tell you the wvw community will mostly be down. Hell, guilds might even come back if you get the game to where it was in guild wars 2 vanilla.

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