Guild Wars 1 Skill Review Project

This post serves as an overview and reference for a rather large project I'm undertaking: Reviewing and rating all player-usable skills in Guild Wars 1.

I'm undertaking this project for two major reasons. The first is that I believe there is a lot to learn about game design from this sort of review. The second is that I want to make a program to generate randomized pools of skills, and for that, I need ratings in order to have the program work the way I want.

Edit: As this became quite the challenge to actually undertake in post form, I've made it into a YouTube series instead. You can find the playlist here.

Rating Rubric

Skills will be rated 1 to 5 points, as outlined below. Note that these ratings are based on my subjective experiences, and are focused on the PvE experience! I might bring up PvP every now and then, but it won't factor into the ratings I give. I also will not be reviewing the PvP-only versions of skills. (Some skills have a PvE version and PvP version, but since I only really play PvE these days, I have little experience with the PvP versions of skills, nor a sense of the state of the PvP meta.)

5

An all-star skill. These skills are go-to skills if I want whatever it is that they're doing. I won't always bring it, but that's not because the skill is weak, it's because I'm not using a build that can utilize it.

4

A staple skill that, similar to a 5, I'll usually use if I want this effect. However, these skills can easily be displaced by 5's, nor are they automatic. Typically the best example of their effect, though.

3

A perfectly average skill. I'm fine with running it, but almost never do because 4's and 5's displace these skills. In other words, these skills aren't bad, they're just not exceptional enough to actually get used.

2

Skills that get a 2 rating are usually very niche. Some of them are actually more likely to be run than a 3, just because these effects are more likely to be unique. The thing is, most 2's are just too narrow to use a lot of the time. They might be good for one or two builds—critical to those builds, in fact—but such builds are probably not outstanding. Regardless, I might use them sometimes for the fun of it. 2's that are build cornerstones, rather than answers to specific things, are far more likely to get used.

1

I consider this skill to be extremely weak and would almost never consider using it in ordinary circumstances.

A Note About Skill Information Formatting

For the review posts, I will paste the description of the skill from the wiki. While I will link back to the wiki entry itself so you can review it in more detail if you wish, it is important to understand the formatting of these descriptions. Here's the one for Orison of Healing as an example:
Spell. Heal target ally for 20...60...70 Health.
I will add information such as attribute line (in this case, Healing Prayers, a Monk attribute line). As for the numbers, you'll notice it says this spell heals for 20...60...70 health. That represents the effectiveness of the spell given different levels of Healing Prayers. Specifically, at 0, 12, and 15 levels of Healing Prayers, respectively.

The effectiveness of skills is always presented in this sort of way, with the effectiveness at 0 levels, 12 levels, and 15 levels separated by ellipses. You can always go to the wiki page for more details if you desire them.

Anatomy of a Skill

Skills have the following properties.
  • Name: What is this skilled called?
  • Type: What sort of skill is it? There's an entire list of skill types below you can check out for more details!
  • Cost: What resources are required to activate this skill? (For more on this resources, check their entries below.)
    • Energy? (These possible quantities: 0, 1, 5, 10, 15, 25)
    • Adrenaline?
    • Percentage of maximum HP? (This is a "Sacrifice" of some percent.)
  • Activate Time: How long, in seconds, does it take for this skill to activate? Note: If omitted, then this skill activates instantly.
  • Recharge Time: How long, in seconds, does it take for this skill to recharge? Recharging skills cannot be used. Note: If omitted, then this skill recharges instantly.
  • Profession: Which profession do you have to be to be able to use this skill?
    • Note: There are many PvE-only skills. These skills can be used by any profession!
  • Attribute: What attribute is this skill linked to? Increasing the level of this attribute will in some way improve this skill's effectiveness. Skills do not have to be linked to an attribute.
  • Description: What does this skill actually do?
  • Elite?: Some skills are called an Elite _____ (where the blank is whatever type the skill is). Some skills specifically refer to elite skills, but the main thing that is significant about them is that you can only have one elite skill on your skill bar at a time. This means that there is a lot of pressure on elite skills to be extra useful, since they aren't competing for one of eight skill slots, but rather for only one slot. On the other hand, many elites are extremely powerful, or have unique effects that you don't see anywhere else.

Professions (What Guild Wars calls Classes)

There are ten professions in Guild Wars 1. Each class has 4-5 attribute lines, including a primary attribute line. Most skills are tied to one of these attribute lines, with their strength varying with the level of that attribute. Primary attributes have some sort of effect attached to them.

Characters can have two professions at once: Their primary profession, and any other profession as their secondary profession.

There are some restrictions on secondary professions. The first is that you are not able to put attribute points into the primary attribute of your secondary profession. The second is that you are not able to use armor to increase the attribute levels of the attributes of your secondary profession.

You have 200 attribute points to distribute across your attribute lines. Each level can have points put into to a maximum of 97 points, which is level 12, as each level costs more points to reach. The first level costs 1 point, the second 2 points, and so on, with the last level costing 20 points to achieve. As such, you must determine what level you want to invest into your various attributes. I think the most common spreads are 12, 10, 8 and 10, 10, 11. Your experiences may vary, however.

As mentioned previously, armor can be used to increase the attribute level of the attributes of your primary profession. These bonuses do not use attribute points and are on top of the levels achieved with points, which means they can allow an attribute to exceed a level of 12. The maximum possible this way is 16, though keep in mind that various skills can also boost attribute point levels.

Armor boosts attribute points in the following ways:
  • The Headpiece. Your head-armor can boost any one attribute line of your primary profession by 1 level. This bonus stacks with rune bonuses.
  • Runes. These increase attributes by 1, 2, or 3 points. This rune bonus stacks with the headpiece bonus, but they do not stack with each other. For example, you cannot use two minor runes to get a +2 bonus to an attribute. Runes come at three levels and can only be for attribute lines of your primary profession. (Note: base maximum HP at max level is 480.)
    • Minor: +1 to an attribute.
    • Major: +2 to an attribute, but decreases your maximum HP by 35.
    • Superior: +3 to an attribute, but decreases your maximum HP by 75.
As I'll be reviewing skills on a profession-by-profession basis, I'm going to be doing a more in depth write-up of each profession as I get to it. You can find links to those write-ups attached to the headings below. I will go ahead and list each attribute line for each profession, as well as a short summary of the profession and each of those attribute lines.

Warrior

Warriors are weapons masters. They can fulfill a lot of different roles, and their variety of weapons gives them a lot of different possible strengths, even before they venture out into weapons belonging to other professions. Thanks to Strength, they can hit harder with attack skills than any other profession.

Attributes:
  • Strength (Primary): Attack skills performed by warriors have 1% armor penetration for each point of Strength.
  • Swordsmanship
  • Axe Mastery
  • Hammer Mastery
  • Tactics

Monk

Monks are the healer profession. They also specialize in defensive support skills that help protect allies from damage and cleanse them from debuffs (hexes and conditions). They do have some offensive capabilities in the form of the Smiting Prayers attribute line.

Attributes:
  • Divine Favor (Primary): Whenever you cast a Monk spell on an ally, that ally is healed for 3.2 health for each point of Divine Favor. (Does not work with non-Monk spells!)
  • Healing Prayers
  • Protection Prayers
  • Smiting Prayers

Ranger

Rangers are good at inflicting conditions and disrupting enemies. They can also bring along a pet to aid them in combat, though the AI makes pets a bit clunky. Despite this, they are quite powerful!

Attributes:
  • Expertise (Primary): Reduces the energy cost of attack skills, rituals, touch skills, and Ranger skills by 4% for each point of Expertise. (Note: Does work with non-Ranger skills if they are one of the specified types!)
  • Beast Mastery
  • Marksmanship
  • Wilderness Survival

Elementalist

Elementalists are sort of the black mage profession. They are a fairly straightforward mage class, at least on the surface. However, there are a number of interelemental synergies to keep an eye out for. At least, there are in theory...alas, they tend to be hard to make good use of in practice.

Attributes:
  • Energy Storage (Primary): Each point of Energy Storage increases the character's maximum energy by 3.
  • Fire Magic
  • Earth Magic
  • Water Magic
  • Air Magic

Mesmer

Mesmers are tricky, disruptive spellcasters. They are also arguably one of the strongest professions in the game due to their ability to disrupt enemy actions and deal relatively large amounts of armor ignoring damage.

Attributes:
  • Fast Casting (Primary): Each point reduces the casting/activation time of your spells and signets. (Note: This does affect non-Mesmer skills, but only if they have an activation time of 2 seconds or greater.) Additionally, for some reason, in PvE, this also reduces the recharge of your Mesmer spells by 3% per level.
  • Domination Magic
  • Illusion Magic
  • Inspiration Magic

Necromancer

Necromancers tend to focus on debilitating foes. They're quite good at this. They're also very good at raising small armies of minions, which make for excellent meat shields (and damage, too!). However, thanks to their primary attribute, Necromancers also have some of the strongest energy management in the game, which enables them to make effective use of a number of other professions spells.

Attributes:
  • Soul Reaping (Primary): You gain 1 energy per level of Soul Reaping whenever a non-Spirit creature dies in your general vicinity. This can't occur more than 3 times per 15 seconds.
  • Blood Magic
  • Curses
  • Death Magic

Assassin

Assassins are known for dealing large packets of damage quickly. That, and shadow-stepping, which is a sort of teleportation technique that requires the ability to path to your target in order to work. So it isn't a true teleportation in the sense that it can't get you to places you can't walk. Other things assassins are known for is dying en masse when Guild Wars: Factions first came out and solo clearing the hardest content in the game. Yes, both of those things.

Attributes:
  • Critical Strikes (Primary): Increases critical hit chance by 1% per level. Also, you gain energy whenever you critical hit. You get 1 energy starting at level 3, 2 energy starting at level 8, and 3 energy starting at level 13.
  • Dagger Mastery
  • Deadly Arts
  • Shadow Arts

Ritualist

Ritualists are spellcasters that commune with the spirits of the dead. So they're kind like Necromancers, only they deal with spirits instead of corpses. Functionally, they work like turret factories. They also notably have the only other healing attribute line in the game, Restoration Magic. This line is favored by those that want to heal who aren't also Monks. They also have several unique spell types: Weapon spells and item spells.

Attributes:
  • Spawning Power (Primary): Creatures you create have 4% more maximum HP for each level of spawning power. This affects Ritualist and Ranger spirits, as well as Necromancer minions. Additionally, weapon spells last 4% longer for each level of Spawning Power.
  • Channeling Magic
  • Communing
  • Restoration Magic

Paragon

Paragons are flavored as battlefield commanders. They have many support skills in the forms of chants and shouts, which affect all allies (or sometimes party members) in earshot range. Unfortunately, the inherent power of many of their skills has resulted in them being somewhat lackluster.

Attributes:
  • Leadership (Primary): You gain 2 energy for each ally affected by one of your shouts or chants. However, this cannot exceed your Leadership level divided by 2 when it triggers. (So, for example, if you have 4 levels of leadership, you cannot gain more than 2 energy this way. If you have 9, you cannot gain more than 4, etc.)
  • Motivation
  • Spear Mastery
  • Command

Dervish

Dervishes are extremely powerful. Not only does their armor come with an inbuilt +2 energy regeneration, it also has +25 maximum health, their primary attribute makes many of their skills cheaper, and their default weapon is the incredibly powerful scythe. However, they still don't really surpass Mesmers because they still have to get up in your face to attack you. Oh, they're kind of flavored like offensive mystic priests?

Attributes:
  • Mysticism (Primary): Each level of Mysticism reduces the cost of your Dervish enchantments by 4%. In PvE, it also provides +1 armor while enchanted.
  • Scythe Mastery
  • Earth Prayers
  • Wind Prayers

Weapons

Except for very weak weapons, all weapons are connected to an attribute line which affects their effectiveness. Weapons also come with a requirement to get benefits out of them (at maximum strength, this requirement is usually 9, though it can be as high as 13, though a weapon with a requirement that high is typically considered to be undesirable).

Weapons come in two major groups: Caster weapons and martial weapons. Caster weapons do not have attribute lines dedicated to their use, and simply provide various buffs and a way to auto-attack. They also deal non-physical types of damage. By contrast, with the exception of shields, martial weapons all have an attribute line associated with them. These lines typically come with skills for use with that line's associated weapon type.

Weapons can be one-handed or two-handed, depending on type. Also some weapons are used in the main-hand and a few are used in the off-hand. Also, all weapons can have modifiers placed in them to affect their effectiveness (an inscription, a prefix, and a suffix for main-hand and two-handed weapons and an inscription and a suffix for off-hand weapons). For the most part, these modifiers are not relevant to this discussion.

That said, there are a few types of martial weapon modifiers that are useful to know about:
  • Elemental (Fiery, Icy, Ebon, Shocking): These cause the weapon to deal a type of elemental damage, rather than the standard physical damage. In order of what I listed them: Fire, Cold, Earth, Lightning.
  • Zealous: While holding the weapon, your character has -1 pip of energy regeneration. However, whenever you hit with an attack, you gain 1 energy. As long as you are attacking regularly, you will always come out ahead in energy when using a zealous weapon.
  • Vampiric: Adds a small amount of life drain to the weapon, on top of normal damage. However, you also have 1 health degeneration. A side effect of this is that you will never gain natural health regeneration from not getting hit. The amount of life steal that you get on hit is 3 or 5, depending upon the attack speed of the weapon.
It should also be noted that you can swap equipped weapons during combat. Notably, the game provides 4 weapon sets that can be easily swapped to while in battle, but you can also technically open up the inventory to swap weapons. Note that you can't swap weapons mid-action, so you typically can't swap right away. This can be useful, however, if you want to use, say, a Vampiric weapon while in combat, but easily switch to another weapon out of combat to avoid the passive health degeneration effect.

And with that, on to the types of weapons!

Staves

Staves are two-handed ranged caster weapons. They deal 11-22 damage and provide an inbuilt +10 energy and 20% chance of halved recharge when casting spells. Wielding requirements affect damage.

Scepters

Scepters are one-handed ranged caster weapons. They have similar attack properties to staves (11-22 damage which is affected by the wielding requirement). However, they have no inbuilt modifiers, as they can be used with an off-hand weapon.

Focii (Focus is singular)

Focii are off-hand caster weapons. As an off-hand, they are not used to attack. They provide +12 energy if their attribute requirement is met. Otherwise, they provide only a fraction of that energy.

Swords

Swords are one-handed melee martial weapons. They deal 15-22 damage and rely on the Swordsmanship Warrior attribute. They are a fast weapon.

Axes

Axes are one-handed melee martial weapons. They deal 6-28 damage and rely on the Axe Mastery Warrior attribute. They are a fast weapon.

Hammers

Hammers are two-handed melee martial weapons. They deal 19-35 damage and rely on the Hammer Mastery Warrior attribute. They are a slower weapon.

Shields

Shields are off-hand martial weapons. They provide +16 armor if their attribute requirement is met and +8 armor otherwise. Note that shields are associated with both Warriors and Paragons. Unlike other martial weapons, shields do not have attribute lines dedicated to them, though there are a few skills which require shields to use.

Spears

Spears are one-handed ranged martial weapons. They deal 14-27 damage. They rely on the Spear Mastery Paragon attribute. They are a faster weapon.

Bows

Bows are two-handed ranged martial weapons. Bows are unique among weapons in that they come in five varieties. However, all varieties deal 15-28 damage (with some adjustments for altitude—see the Range section's additional notes below). They all rely on the Marksmanship Ranger attribute. They are all also slower weapons, which means they all get 5 life steal from Vampiric modifiers.

The five varieties of bows are: Shortbow, recurve bows, hornbow, longbow, and flatbow.

Shortbows and flatbows have the fastest attack speed, though note that it is still slower than most other martial weapons. Shortbows have the shortest range. Flatbows and longbows are tied for the longest range, though flatbows have a high arc, which effectively reduces accuracy, as the arrows take longer to reach their target.

Recurve bows have the shortest flight time, which makes them ideal for interrupting arrow attacks.

Hornbows have a built-in 10% armor penetration bonus, though they have the slowest attack speed of all bow types.

Daggers

Daggers are...well, technically they're a two-handed melee martial weapon, but this is because daggers in this game are always wielded in pairs, one in each hand. They deal 7-17 damage and rely on the Dagger Mastery Assassin attribute. They are a fast weapon. Additionally, each time you attack with a dagger, there is a chance of a "double strike," which is effectively two attacks in quick succession. This property scales with Dagger Mastery, and effectively increases the dagger attack rate.

Scythes

Scythes are a two-handed melee martial weapon. They deal 9-41 damage and rely on the Scythe Mastery Dervish attribute. They are a slower weapon. However, they have the powerful property of hitting up to three foes in front of the attacker with each attack, rather than the normal one. To offset this frankly powerful property, scythe critical hits have less armor reduction applied to their calculation than is otherwise used.

Conditions

Conditions are a type of generic debuff that many skills can apply. Many skills interact with conditions, and some skills interact with specific conditions. In the write-ups below, I'm going to group the conditions based on general functionality.
  • Pressure (health degeneration)
    • Bleeding: Applies 3 pips of health degeneration.
    • Poison: Applies 4 pips of health degeneration.
    • Disease: Applies 4 pips of health degeneration. Also spreads to close-by creatures of the same species (such as between humans, charr, or imps, for example).
    • Burning: Applies 7 pips of health degeneration.
  • Debilitating (reduces effectiveness)
    • Weakness: You deal 33% damage and all of your attributes are decreased by 1.
    • Blind: Physical attacks performed by this character have a 90% chance to miss.
    • Daze: Spells take twice as long to activate and are easily interrupted.
    • Crippled: You have 50% movement speed.
    • Cracked Armor: Your armor is reduced by 20. This effect cannot reduce armor below 60.
    • Deep Wound: Reduces maximum HP by 20% (maximum of 100 HP) and also reduces the effectiveness of healing received by 20%. Note that this takes the removed HP from current HP, meaning that, while active, it effectively inflicts a large amount of damage.

Other Modifiers & Terms

There are a few specific terms that are important to be familiar with that affect combat.
  • Block: Blocked physical attacks have no effect unless otherwise stated. Most skills that block either block a limited set of things (such as the next attack or only ranged attacks) or have a chance to block (typically 75%).
  • Easily Interrupted: If a skill is Easily Interrupted, then any physical attack will interrupt its use, causing the skill to be cancelled.
  • Death Penalty/Morale: A system that modifies maximum health and energy by some percentage. Death Penalty is accrued upon dying, provided it isn't within a brief window after resurrection. Each time you die, you receive 15% death penalty. Morale is usually received as a morale boost of 2%. These both work on the same meter, with death penalty as a negative and morale as the positive. Thus, 25% death penalty will reduce your maximum energy and HP by 25% while a 5% morale boost will increase your maximum HP and energy by 5%. As these work on the same meter, they work against each other. That is, if you receive a morale boost while at 25% death penalty, that morale boost will erase a portion of that death penalty (if a standard 2% boost, you would then have 23% death penalty). Note that getting experience points will also slowly reduce death penalty, though it cannot result in a morale boost. The maximum death penalty is 60% and the maximum morale is 10%.
  • Overcast: Overcast reduces your maximum energy by some amount—it is always specified how much if a skill causes Overcast. Maximum energy restores at a rate of 1 point every 3 seconds.
  • Ally: Anyone allied to you, including yourself.
  • Other Ally: Any allied to you, excluding yourself.
  • Knock Down: Or Knockdown, abbreviated as KD. Your character is knocked to the ground and can't perform most actions. Getting knocked down interrupts all actions. By default, knock downs last 2 seconds, though various effects can lengthen this slightly.
  • Area of Effect (AoE): Denotes something that affects things within some radius. The center of the resulting circle can be placed anywhere.
  • Point-Blank Area of Effect (PBAoE): An area of effect that is centered on the one creating the area of effect. For example, a PBAoE spell is centered on the caster. This contrasts with a standard AoE spell, which would be centered on the caster's target. While technically a PBAoE skill or effect is an AoE skill or effect, I will always specify it separately for clarity.
  • Non-Fleshy: Things that aren't fleshy are immune to the Bleed, Poison, and Disease condition. What things are fleshy and which aren't is generally intuitive. For example, skeletal undead (such as most Necromancer minions), elementals, djinns, and the like are non-fleshy.
  • Cancel Stance: Due to the fact that you can only have one stance active at a time, which is accomplished by having any current stance end when you use a new one, you can intentionally end a stance if you want to do so. A stance that you put on your skill bar for this purpose is called a cancel stance because its purpose is to cancel another stance. Of course, that's likely to not be its only purpose, but the purpose is significant enough to be worth naming.
  • Spike/Spikey: Refers to sudden, large amounts of damage. If you were to track the damage dealt over time to a character, this would be a sudden high point, which would look like a spike.
  • Pressure: Continuous efforts to drain resources. Typically, pressure refers to steadily and relentlessly applying damage to as many of the enemy characters as possible in order to overwhelm the healers. Effective pressure strategies can cause enemy teams to suddenly crumble as the healers run out of energy.
  • Snare: Generally speaking, this refers to a reduction in movement speed. It is often applied in two ways. The first is an observation of state, as in the phrase, "I've been snared," which indicates that the speaker's movement speed has been reduced. The second is to refer to skills which cause such a state. For example, a skill that applies the Crippled condition (which reduces movement speed and is thus a snare state) would itself be referred to as a snare.
  • Self-Heal: A healing skill that can only heal the user.

Health, Energy, and Pips

A pip represents some amount of regular change over time in either health or energy. Pips cap at 10 in either direction (whether regeneration or degeneration). Here is what a "pip" means for health and energy:
  • One pip of health regeneration/degeneration: 2 HP per second.
  • One pip of energy regeneration/degeneration: 1/3 energy per second.
A max level character (level 20) has a base health of 480. Various effects can increase or decrease this value, such as armor or skill effects. By default, a character has no pips of health regeneration or degeneration, though after a period of time without taking damage, a character will begin to have pips of health regeneration at an increasing rate. This is regardless of whether or not the characters are still in combat.

All characters have a base 20 energy and a standard 2 pips of energy regeneration. However, this default value can be somewhat misleading, since the armor of most of the professions have inbuilt increases to both of these values. Most casters have an effective base of 30 energy and 4 pips of energy regeneration from their armor alone. In addition, there are additional armor modifications that can increase the base energy pool even further, and many caster weapons also increase the base energy pool.

Energy is often used to pay for the cost to activate skills.

Adrenaline

Adrenaline is a resource used to pay for the cost of skills. It is measured in "Strikes." Each skill that uses Adrenaline keeps track of the amount of Adrenaline you have to use that skill independently of the others for reasons that'll become clear in a moment.

You gain one Strike of Adrenaline whenever you hit an enemy with a physical attack. Technically, you also gain small, sub-Strike amounts whenever you take damage, but this doesn't amount to much (according to the wiki, it's 4% of a Strike whenever you are dealt damage of at least 1% of your maximum HP).

Whenever you use a skill that costs Adrenaline, that skill's supply is completely drained and one Strike of Adrenaline is removed from each other skill on your skill bar that uses Adrenaline. This Strike is often effectively restored if it was an attack skill and it hits.

Additionally, skills cannot store more Adrenaline than is required to use them.

A recharging skill cannot store Adrenaline. If it had Adrenaline when it was forced into recharge (perhaps by some skill that disabled it), then its Adrenaline is set to 0. Further, if you do not gain Adrenaline for a period of time, its Adrenaline will also be set to 0. In this way, Adrenaline is a resource gained and maintained during combat, either by attacking or being dealt damage. Additionally, some skills can cause you to lose all of your Adrenaline.

Damage and Armor

Broadly speaking, damage comes in two types: Damage that ignores armor, and damage that is affected by armor. To make this even more confusing, these two types are blended in most attack skills.

Generally speaking, the following types of damage respect armor:
  • Elemental Damage
    • Fire
    • Cold
    • Lightning
    • Earth
  • Physical Damage
    • Blunt
    • Piercing
    • Slashing
  • Miscellaneous Types
    • Chaos
    • Dark
The following types of damage typically do not respect armor when inflicted by spells, but they do respect armor if they are used as an attack type:
  • Holy (Special note: Deals 2x damage to Undead things.)
  • Shadow
  • Life-steal (anything that drains health from the target ignores armor, though note that it cannot steal more health than the target has.)
The armor formula is an exponential formula (A^x) with a base of 2. For the not mathematically inclined, it basically means that the effectiveness of armor doubles at a regular rate. Specifically, the formula produces the following results:

A base armor value of 60 produces a multiplier of 1. That is, if you have 60 armor, then you will take the "printed" damage from anything that respects armor.

Armor every 40 armor doubles armor effectiveness. So 100 armor means you take half damage and 20 armor means you take double damage, though again, these values only apply to damage sources that respect armor. Important note: While extremely useful for getting through high armor, armor ignoring damage also does not increase in potency against foes with less than 60 armor, meaning that elemental damage is typically preferable in situations where foes have lower amounts of armor. As a result of this, certain skills can be significantly more powerful in lower level areas than they are in high level areas.

It should be added that you can have armor against specific types of damage, such as +10 armor against fire or +15 against elemental damage.

There are five armor slots: Head, Chest, Gloves, Legs, and Boots. Unlike many games, armor in Guild Wars 1 is not cumulative. Instead, each attack is calculated against one of these armor regions, taking into account the specific properties of that armor (such as additional armor granted by armor modifications). Whenever an attack hits a character, which piece of armor it hits is chosen randomly, with some weighting. The probabilities of a piece getting hit are as follows: 3/8 chance that the chest will be hit, 1/4 (or 2/8) chance the legs will get it, and 1/8 chance each for the head, gloves, and boots. Note: Anything that adds additional armor that isn't part of an armor slot (such as a shield or skill effect) applies its effects regardless of which armor region is struck.

As mentioned earlier, many attack skills are confusing because they partially respect armor. What happens here is that most attack skills add damage to the attack. This added damage ignores armor. For example, you may have a skill that adds 15 damage to an attack. The actually damage inflicted would be a combination of armor respecting damage from the weapon attack plus the 15 armor ignoring damage. This means the final damage is a combination of both an armor respecting packet from the weapon and an armor ignoring bonus from the attack skill.

Finally, there is such a thing as a critical attack. A critical hit can happen with weapon attacks (so a standard auto-attack or an attack skill) that always deals the maximum possible damage from the attack roll. It also performs the damage calculation as though the target had 20 less armor, which further increases the damage. However, unlike some games, critical hits, while powerful, are not devastatingly so.

It should be noted that melee attacks performed against targets running away from you will always critical hit. This can be avoided by backing away, though note that characters move far slower when backing up than they do when running in any other direction.

Range

In general, there are a few specific ranges:
  • Melee: Must be right next to the enemy in order to use whatever has melee range (typically a melee weapon or certain skills).
  • Touch: Basically the same as melee range, but not associated with a weapon.
  • Adjacent: The smallest of the area of effect ranges.
  • Nearby: 1.5x the radius of Adjacent.
  • In the area: 2x the radius of Adjacent.
  • Earshot: Roughly 9x the range of adjacent, this corresponds to the aggro range. That is, AI enemies within this range become aware of the player character and will attempt to attack them.
  • Larger ranges: There are a few larger ranges, but they don't really specifically come up. They are quite large, however, and are more in place out of practical concern than for any other specific reason.
A few additional things to note:
  • Spells can be cast from a range that is slightly larger than the aggro radius, which means that you can technically cast a spell on an enemy before they are aware of your presence.
  • Enemies that have been attacked from outside of aggro range typically become aggressive and will attack. This can be useful for carefully controlling how many enemies attack at once. Note that this will often drag the entire group.
  • There are several varieties of bows that all have different ranges, attack speeds, and arrow arcs: Shortbow, Recurve, Hornbow, Longbow, and Flatbow. For more on specific details of bows, you can check the wiki entry. Of particular note, the range and damage of bows is affected by elevation. That is, you can shoot further and deal more damage from a higher elevation relative to your target, while being at a lower elevation will lessen both your range and damage.
  • Attacks performed at range have a chance to stray from their target if the target moves out of the way, though note that this does require rapid movement changes. They can also get obstructed by terrain and other obstacles.

Skill Types

All skills have a type, even if it is just the generic "skill" type. What type of skill it is is primarily relevant for flavor (narvisaud) and interaction reasons. However, there are common features of skills within specific types, as it is common for skills in more restrictive types to all have similar functionality. For example, there are properties common to all shouts (such as no activation time).

Below is a list of skill types with relevant information about them.

Skill

Many skills do not have a specific type. Generic skills can do a wide variety of things.

____ Attack

All attack skills (with the exception of Pet Attacks, below) are styled as skills that are performed using the character's weapon. As such, there are a wide variety of specific types of Attack skills. These loosely fall into two categories:
1. Weapon specific skills. For example, Axe Attacks can only be used if the character is wielding an axe.
2. Category specific skills. Specifically, Ranged Attacks and Melee Attacks. These skills can be used by any weapon that fits the criteria. For example, a Melee Attack can be used if the character is wielding any melee weapon, but it cannot be used if the character is wielding a ranged weapon.

Pet Attack

Pet attacks function very differently from weapon attacks. These skills place a buff on the character's pet that modifies the next attack the pet performs. Think of it as queuing up an attack.

Spell

Spells are a broad category of skills that specifically represent magic. There are several specific types of spells, as enumerated below. Generic spells can perform a wide variety of effects.

This type primarily serves to specify a category of skills for specific interaction. For example, there are many skills that care about opponents casting spells.

Hex Spell

A type of spell that inflicts a debuff on the target foe.

Enchantment Spell

A type of spell that applies a buff to the target ally. May allow the user to be targeted.

Note that there are two sub-categories of enchantments:

1. Maintained Enchantments: While most enchantments have a specific duration, these do not. Instead, while maintained, these enchantments consume a pip of energy regeneration. They will end when energy hits 0, but they can also be manually cancelled.
2. Flash Enchantments: A special category of enchantments that have no cast time.

Item Spell

Item spells create a bundle item that is held. These items typically have a static effect while held and an active effect when dropped, but not always.

Weapon Spell

Weapon spells are similar in concept to enchantments. However, they cannot be removed, and a character can only have one weapon spell on them at a time. This type of spell is conceptually specifically affecting the weapon. As a result, they visually modify the appearance of the weapon of the one affected.

Well Spell

Well spells create wells, which provide some sort of area effect. The location is that of a corpse. They consume that corpse when cast.

Ward Spell

Ward spells create some sort of area effect. They spawn centered on the caster, but remain in that location after being created.

Shout

Shouts represent literally that: Shouting something. As such, they can be used in almost any situation, including while knocked down. They also have no activation time.

Shout range of effect is the same as the aggro range. Further, buffs applied by shouts cannot be removed. As such, they are actually quite powerful.

Chant

Chants are similar to shouts, and as such, they are often grouped together. Unlike shouts, however, chants have an activation time, which means, for example, that they cannot be used while knocked down.

Like shouts, the chant range of effect is the same as the aggro range and buffs applied by them cannot be removed.

Echo

Echoes are a type of buff that cannot be removed that interacts with chants and shouts. Typically, they have some effect whenever a shout or chant buff on the individual with the echo ends.

There are two major meta-categories of echoes, designated by the name scheme. The first is "refrains," which renew their duration whenever a shout or chant buff ends. The other is "finales" which trigger a specific effect whenever a shout or chant buff ends.

Glyph

Glyphs are buffs that come with a set number of charges that affect the next N spells cast. For example, they can reduce the energy cost of the next N spells you cast.

Signet

Signets are a particularly special category of skill. While able to do a diverse range of things, all signets have no energy cost to use. This is often offset with lengthy activation or recharge times.

Additionally, signets use a unique style of art for their skill icons which makes them visually stand out from other skills.

Stance

Stances represent, well, a combat stance. As such, you can only have one stance active at a time. Whenever you use a stance, any other stances you may have been using end. This is referred to as "stance cancelling," and is often done intentionally.

Stances activate instantly.

Trap

Traps place a field hazard at the activation site. However, by default, they are all easily interrupted, which means any hit from a weapon will interrupt their use.

Traps are triggered by proximity, though they also automatically fire after a set duration. Stacking traps can be a very powerful strategy, though in practice, they are rather hard to use in combat outside of specific gimmicky builds.

Preparation

Preparations are personal buffs that cannot be removed. You can only have one preparation active at a time. In general, they represent having prepared your weapon (typically a bow, though some work with all weapons) for combat. Some are a little less, shall we say, logical than others.

Form

A very unique class of skills that represent a transformation of some kind. These are not very common. You can only have one form activate a time.

Ritual

Rituals are a class of skill that summon spirits. There are two types of rituals:
1. Nature Rituals: Summon a nature spirit that applies some global effect in a huge range. These effects apply equally to all characters in this range, friend and foe alike.
2. Binding Rituals: These are more specific, and summon spirits that provide area buffs for allies, area debuffs for foes, or attack enemies.

It is important to note that rituals are NOT a class of spell!

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