A New Player's Guide to Guild Wars 1

Hello! If you've found this, then that means you want to know more about playing Guild Wars 1. This article will cover a variety of topics that I think are useful for getting the most out of the game. To set some expectations, my focus here is on conveying concepts that will help you play the game better in general, rather than on giving specific strategies for areas, specific team setups, or other similar things.

There is a lot to learn about the game, so in order to avoid this becoming any more unwieldy than it already is, I'm going to focus on concepts and mechanics that the game doesn't cover particularly well that will help newer players. I'm not going to cover how to play, as that can be found elsewhere such as through in game tutorials and hints and on the Official Wiki (where you can also find plenty of more advanced concepts as well as a ton of information).

As my first tip, you can use the Help menu in game to get handy wiki links. This menu, accessible through the main menu and bound to the F10 key by default, will provide a list of links to things you've recently interacted with in the game, such as quests in your quest log or skills you've recently encountered. It's a great tool for looking stuff up.

As for this article, I do recommend taking it at your own pace, as even in a minimized form, there is a lot that I want to cover. With that said, here are the topics I'm going to discuss. They are in no particular order.
  • Choosing which campaign to start in.
  • Choosing your secondary profession.
  • Acquiring skills.
  • Making builds and being part of a team.
  • Energy Management.
  • Target prioritization.
  • Armor.
  • Making money and acquiring crafting materials.
  • Miscellaneous simpler topics.
Let's dive in!

Which Campaign Should I Start In?

A general consideration for which campaign to start in is aesthetics, as each one has a different set of styles (faces, skin tone ranges, and hair styles). While you can use makeover kits to change these later, those do cost additional real world money.

Another significant consideration is what profession you want to play. Assassins and Ritualists can only be made in Factions (though foreign characters can acquire them as secondaries if you have access to Factions), and Dervishes and Paragons can only be made in Nightfall (again, foreign characters can later acquire them as secondaries if you have access to Nightfall).

From a story standpoint, as any character can visit any of the campaigns once they progress far enough in the story of their starting campaign, your main considerations regarding the story are up until the point that your character can visit other campaigns. Basically, it's a question of how much you'll miss, since you can't do quests in areas preceding your character's arrival on the foreign continent, though you can do missions.

With those general considerations discussed, lets break down the pros and cons of starting a character in each campaign.

Prophecies

Prophecies was the first game released. As such, it does many things differently than the other campaigns, and one of those is the pacing—it was clearly designed with pacing for itself in mind, not for the broader context of being one of multiple campaigns. As such, you aren't expected to be level 20 until substantially after you can visit other world regions.

There are two major consequences of this. The first is that if you create a Prophecies character, you will likely be underleveled if you visit other territories (though they can all help you get leveled the rest of the way up very quickly—though they can do nothing to help you with the lateness at which you get access to two special quests that each grant you an additional 15 attribute points) and your equipment will be underpowered (again, the other territories can get you maximum level equipment quickly, though resources may be tight for doing so on a new account).

The second consequence is that if you bring a foreign character into Prophecies, you'll have far outstripped the expected player power level. This will likely make the majority of the Prophecies campaign too easy until you reach the Dragon's Lair mission, which is where you're first expected to be level 20.

You'll have a far more even experience if you play through Prophecies without visiting another location first. This will be a harder experience as a result, however, so you'll have to evaluate for yourself what you'd prefer. Of course, the slower pacing also means it takes far longer to get a character ready for late game content if you choose to start in Prophecies.

Another consequence of being the first of the games is that the Prophecies tutorial is arguably the least refined (though the Factions tutorial could be argued to be worse, but I'm getting ahead of myself). On the other hand, many players would count the Prophecies tutorial area as one of their favorite areas in the game. For what it is worth, the design of the Prophecies tutorial area is more hands-off, mostly telling you what it wants you to do, not how to do it (at least from a quest standpoint; there are hint popups about how to do things). Some players will find this appealing, while others may prefer more explicit information and instructions.

From a narrative standpoint, I would argue for starting in Prophecies first, playing through it, then moving on to Factions and playing through that, then Nightfall, then Eye of the North, and concluding with Guild Wars: Beyond. The reason for this is that the narrative of the games do somewhat build on each other, and they do take place in that chronological order within the stories of the games themselves. It isn't the biggest of deals, but it does add something if you're the sort of person to care about such things.

From a practical standpoint, a final reason to start with Guild Wars: Prophecies is the skill quests (quests that reward you with free skills that cost neither gold nor skill points to acquire). These quests can get a lot of standard skills unlocked on your account with minimal in-game resources required. There is some value in this, though to be fair, many of the top-end builds do not rely on these skills. This is relevant because the later campaigns have dramatically fewer skill quests than Prophecies does, preferring instead to encourage players to acquire the skills they want from trainers.

And while some of the Prophecies skill quests are available to foreign characters, many of them are located in areas before Lion's Arch (where foreign characters arrive), which makes them inaccessible to any character that wasn't created in Prophecies. This includes several skill quests that you can go back and acquire for other professions than the two you started with once you've unlocked other secondaries. These are potentially even more valuable, because the cost of skills may have increased quite a bit by the point you've unlocked additional secondary professions.

Finally, there are a few Eye of the North quests that can only be obtained by Prophecies characters. (If you get a Tapestry Shred, hang on to it!)

To summarize:
  • Pros:
    • Better way to experience the lore.
    • Can better appreciate Prophecies's pacing.
    • Lots of free skills.
  • Cons:
    • Slow pacing makes it take longer to prepare a character for end-game content.
    • Free skills may not be entirely useful.
    • Can't make an Assassin, Ritualist, Dervish, or Paragon.

Factions

In contrast to Prophecies, Factions has an extremely fast pace. While this does make it relatively quick to get a character to maximum level and maximum strength gear, it also has a very rough tutorial that has wild pacing issues and is prone to overloading the new player with information.

This makes it fine for existing players, and great for getting new characters ready for higher end content, but a potentially confusing or disorienting new player experience.

On the other hand, if you want to make an Assassin or Ritualist, this is the only campaign you can make them in. Notably, Ritualists have several powerful skills available in this campaign that you will want unlocked (see Unlocking Skills under Miscellaneous Concepts later in this article) on your account, though you can easily acquire this with a secondary Ritualist from other campaigns. Further, Ritualist heroes are acquired fairly late, either after beating the Nightfall campaign or in the Eye of the North expansion. So, while unlocking these skills relatively early in your account's life is useful, you hardly need to make a Ritualist (or Factions character in general) your first character in order to do this.
  • Pros:
    • Fast pace can get a character up and running quickly.
    • Can make an Assassin or Ritualist.
  • Cons:
    • Fast pace could overwhelm a newer player with too much information.
    • Can't make a Dervish or Paragon.

Nightfall

Nightfall has several things going for it. First of all, it has the most refined tutorial, with characters reaching level 20 and maximum gear significantly more quickly than in Prophecies, but much more evenly paced and refined than Factions.

Nightfall also gets you access to Heroes, customizable AI companions that experienced players rely on when playing. However, Heroes are not without downsides. First, because you have to make their builds, it is easier for a new player to cause themselves problems by creating ineffective builds. Also, because they rely on skills unlocked on your account, unless you've purchased an unlock pack, your selection of skills for them to use may be very limited. Second, you also have to gear them out. While you don't have to worry about their armor (it automatically increases with their level), you do have to worry about weapons, runes, and insignia. This can add a lot of additional overhead, especially if you don't have access to /bonus weapons.

Nevertheless, being able to acquire Heroes right away is of benefit.

Additionally, you can only make Dervishes and Paragons in the Nightfall campaign.
  • Pros:
    • Good pacing and most refined tutorial.
    • Relatively quick to get a character to maximum level and set up with maximum strength gear.
    • Early access to Heroes, which can be extremely powerful relative to standard henchmen.
    • Can make a Dervish or Paragon.
  • Cons:
    • Having to prepare heroes can add a lot of additional overhead, and figuring out builds for heroes can add a lot of additional details to figure out. (Note that henchmen are still available, as are resources for making builds; see below.)
    • Can't make Assassins or Ritualists.

Conclusion For Which Campaign To Pick

If you care strongly about lore or want lots of free skills to experiment with, I'd recommend starting in Prophecies.

For the brand new player, I would not recommend starting in Factions unless you really want to make an Assassin or Ritualist.

If you want to get a character up and ready quickly, want to make a Dervish or Paragon, or want a more refined tutorial, start with Nightfall.

The choice is up to you. All characters can do almost all content regardless of starting campaign (with the exception of quests in areas located before foreign characters arrive, which can't be done by foreign characters—as such, Prophecies does have the most content locked away from foreigners).

Choosing Your Secondary Profession

Professions are what Guild Wars calls its character classes. You choose your primary profession at character creation, then fairly early on in each campaign you are given a chance to try out the other professions to see which one you want to take as a secondary profession.

Your secondary profession allows you to use skills and attributes from that profession. You do not get to use armor, runes, or insignia specific to that profession, and you do not get to put attribute points into its primary attribute. (Primary attributes all have passive effects. For more on them, you can check out the wiki article.) You can still use skills from the primary attribute, though without being able to invest attribute points into it, this is typically not worth doing. There are exceptions, however, that I'll note in the overview of each profession as a secondary that's coming up.

Note that your secondary profession is not a permanent choice! Once you progress far enough in the story of the campaign you chose to start in, you'll be able to change it. Prophecies allows this the latest of the three campaigns and includes language when selecting your secondary profession that it can't be changed—this is for lore reasons, not mechanical ones, though you are stuck with your chosen secondary for a substantial period of time. The other two campaigns permit the changing of your secondary profession far earlier, relatively speaking.

I'll give an overview of the benefits of each profession as a secondary in a general way below, but keep in mind that this is very general advice. Each profession as a primary is amenable to secondary professions in different ways. For example, Monks tend to have a harder time using their secondary because of their focus on healing and the fact that Divine Favor only benefits Monk spells. On the other hand, Necromancers tend to be extremely flexible with their secondary profession, as Soul Reaping just gives energy and doesn't care where you spend it and the profession's role in a team is also extremely malleable.

With that said, lets go over the general things you can gain from each profession as a secondary!

Warrior

If you choose Warrior as your secondary profession, you'll be able to effectively use any of the three Warrior weapons: sword, hammer, or axe. However, these are all melee weapons, so caster primary professions, with their relatively low durability, should be cautious about actually trying to use these weapons in combat, especially as the game progresses.

Warrior does have a number of useful defensive and party support skills in the Tactics attribute line. These can be useful for anyone and are the most likely skills to be useful in a general, augmenting sense. You can also get shields that require Tactics, which become more effective if you invest in the Tactics attribute line. It is perfectly reasonable to have a caster that uses a shield and scepter to be more defensive, though I wouldn't want to invest in Tactics just to use a shield more effectively and not bring at least one Tactics skill.

I do want to point out that Sprint, a Strength skill that increases movement speed, does have a decent duration even without any investment into Strength (the Warrior's primary attribute line).

Overall, I recommend Warrior as a secondary for other physical professions more than I do for caster professions, since so many of its skills are centered around using melee weapons. Having access to these weapons to change up the gameplay when using another physical profession can also be a benefit, depending upon your playstyle.

Ranger

If you choose the Ranger as your secondary profession, it will enable you to effectively use bows via the Marksmanship attribute, though do note that bow attacks tend to have relatively high energy costs for attack skills, which can make them harder to use for some professions such as Warrior or Paragon.

Choosing Ranger as your secondary also gives you access to Beast Mastery, which will enable you to bring a pet to fight with you.

Wilderness Survival also has a number of useful defensive and support skills, though like most Ranger skills, energy costs are balanced around the Ranger's primary attribute, Expertise, which lowers the cost of the Ranger's skills, making them potentially too costly for other primaries to use.

In my opinion, the two biggest draws to choosing Ranger as your secondary are Beast Mastery and Antidote Signet. The latter of these is a powerful skill for removing conditions from yourself and is especially useful for physical attackers. This may sound like a small thing, but given how effective it is, how low its costs are, and the fact that is a no attribute skill (meaning it doesn't require attribute point investment), it is actually very useful.

Overall, I recommend Ranger as a secondary profession for those who want to play with pets.

Necromancer

A Necromancer secondary is most useful to other casters, though Blood Renewal, a self-healing skill, is useful to everyone early on. Additionally, there are a few skills—Plague Touch and Plague Sending, specifically—that transfer conditions from you to enemies (note that these skills work perfectly fine without investing any attribute points in Curses, though they do benefit from even a relatively minimal investment). These can be quite useful. Playing with minions can also be fun.

However, I generally wouldn't recommend Necromancer as a starting secondary unless you have a specific flavorful conceit you're developing. This is because Necromancer, as a profession, is somewhat lacking in general utility compared with other professions. It isn't a bad choice, to be clear, but other professions will often provide you with more utility choices than the Necromancer will. There are some neat builds you can do with a Necromancer secondary, but most of them require skills you won't get until after you can change secondary professions, anyway. Note that none of this is meant to imply that Necromancer is a bad primary profession; it decidedly isn't!

Overall, I recommend Necromancer as a secondary profession if you want the flavor or feel of it. Otherwise, you've generally got better mechanical options elsewhere, particularly for your initial choice.

Monk

While Monk is primarily a healing profession, you generally shouldn't take it as a secondary for that purpose. This is because most of the Monk's healing skills (generally found in Healing Prayers) are balanced to be a little on the weak side without the benefit of the Monk's primary attribute, Divine Favor, which gives additional healing to Monk spells that target allies.

That said, Monk can still be a great secondary profession. It has a lot of useful support enchantments, especially in Protection Prayers, which can be used to defend allies. It also has skills to cure both hexes and conditions, the two types of debuffs in the game. This can be extremely useful!

Another extremely valuable type of skill that the Monk has are resurrection skills. While every character can get access to the Resurrection Signet skill, that skill only recharges when you get a Morale Boost, which can be an infrequent event. The Monk resurrection skills, on the other hand, have normal recharge times. This can be extremely useful, especially when playing with Henchmen, who often only use Resurrection Signet.

Overall, I recommend Monk for those who want to support their party more broadly, that want to be able to remove both hexes and conditions from themselves or others, or that don't have a particular inclination towards any of the professions as a secondary so that they can have access to the Monk's resurrection skills.

Elementalist

Elementalist has a lot to offer as a secondary profession, as it has a lot of useful utility skills available. However, I'd caution against taking Elementalist as a secondary for its offensive capabilities—if that's something you want to do, I recommend playing a primary Elementalist, as the ability to use runes helps tremendously in this regard. Not that you can't try to do this, but do note that attempting to make meaningful use of just a couple of Elementalist damage spells can be quite challenging to accomplish from a build-craft perspective, particularly from an energy management standpoint.

There are a number of touch-range skills that are very useful on melee attackers, and physical attackers of all kinds can make use of the Conjure enchantments that increase the damage of fire, cold, or lightning based weapons. (There is no Earth conjure, for whatever reason; likely to emphasize its more defensive nature.)

Additionally, Air Magic has many useful skills for inflicting conditions such as Blind, Weakness, or Cracked Armor; Water Magic has many useful snares; and Earth Magic has a lot of useful defensive skills.

Also, Glyph of Lesser Energy, a skill in the Energy Storage primary attribute, is nevertheless useful for all casters as a non-elite form of energy management. It is most likely to be useful for Necromancer and Mesmer primaries (as they have somewhat higher energy costs on average among casters), but all casters will be able to get benefit from it.

Overall, I recommend Elementalist as a secondary profession if you want offensive utility or to augment melee attackers with useful support skills.

Mesmer

Mesmer is an extremely useful secondary profession owing to its wide array of utility skills. This includes spell-based interrupts, hex removal, enchantment removal, snares, energy management, and damage reduction.

There are numerous advantages to spell-based interrupts over attack-based interrupts. They don't require you to be next to the target (unlike melee attack interrupts), don't have flight time (unlike bows), and can't be blocked or miss (unlike all attack-based interrupts). However, interrupting well is a more advanced skill, in that doing so requires the ability to recognize skills in order to prioritize the use of interrupts effectively. It also takes practice—I know the skills in the game extremely well, but it still takes me a while to warm up when it comes to interrupting. Still, it is a useful (and fun!) player skill to add to your repertoire.

Hex removal is also often useful, and it isn't something many professions actually have access to. The Monk has hex removal, and the Dervish has a couple of  skills it can use to remove hexes from itself. And, technically, the Paragon has a hex removal skill, but it's clunky to use. So while it can be argued that a couple of the Monk hex removal skills are preferable, the Mesmer ones are most definitely useful when taken as part of the overall Mesmer package, which includes many things the Monk can't do.

Which brings us to enchantment removal. This is something the Mesmer is fairly good at, and multiple options are available, including some enchantment removal skills that do additional damage or work as energy management. These skills can be notably useful for physical attackers, who often want to be able to remove defensive enchantments (though note that this can be done by any party member).

Snares are also very useful. These are skills that slow enemy movement. Snared melee enemies have a harder time damaging your party members, while snared enemies in general have a harder time evading your own melee attackers. This makes snares useful both defensively and offensively, and in a way that can be subtle and easy to underrate.

A major reason for other caster professions to choose a Mesmer secondary are the wide assortment of energy management options available in Inspiration Magic. A couple of the more powerful ones are interrupts, and therefore somewhat more difficult to use, but nevertheless, having access to solid, non-elite energy management skills can be extremely valuable. Note that the interrupt-based energy management skills are notably effective on Monk heroes. There are also several elite energy management options that are pretty solid.

Finally, it is worth mentioning some of the damage mitigating options, notably the Mantras of Frost, Flame, Earth, and Lightning. These stances, found in Inspiration Magic, dramatically reduce the damage taken from their respective element, and can really help if you're being pummeled by enemies (notably Elementalists or Ritualists) dealing large amounts of damage of one of those types.

All of these benefits are great, but do be aware that Mesmers cannot remove conditions, nor do they have any resurrection skills.

Overall, I recommend Mesmer as a secondary to those who want a versatile toolbox of options. There are a lot of useful skills to flesh out a build for both physical attackers and spellcasters alike, making Mesmer a great choice for your secondary profession.

Assassin

Note: You must have access to Factions to take Assassin as a secondary. If you create a character in another campaign, you must get the ability to change your secondary profession before you can adopt the Assassin profession as your secondary.

Assassin makes for a great secondary, especially for other physical attacking professions, as both Deadly Arts and Shadow Arts contain many useful utility skills.

This is especially true for other melee attackers (Dervishes and Warriors), as shadow step skills (which teleport you to an enemy) greatly improve battlefield mobility. Even outside of the shadow steps, which are a huge draw, there are numerous useful skills for defense, disabling opponents, and offense.

A few notably options are snares, interrupts, knock downs, and enchantment removal.

There is also a condition removal signet, though it is more awkward to use than the Ranger's Antidote Signet or the Paragon's Remedy Signet, as it requires the opponent to have conditions. Still, it is an additional option.

The Assassin's defensive skills can also be useful for primary casters. These include the defensive shadow step skills (that move you away from enemies or explicitly toward allies), as well as a few other defensive skills, mostly found in Shadow Arts.

Daggers, on the other hand, can be tricky to use effectively on a non-Assassin due to their skills' energy requirements. Rangers can pull it off due to Expertise lowering the cost of attack skills, but most other professions will have to rely on specific skills to be able to manage the energy demands.

Overall, I recommend Assassin as a secondary profession for other melee attackers due to the mobility boost that shadow steps provide and the other utility found in Deadly Arts and Shadow Arts.

Ritualist

Note: You must have access to Factions to take Ritualist as a secondary. If you create a character in another campaign, you must get the ability to change your secondary profession before you can adopt the Ritualist profession as your secondary.

The Ritualist is a strange profession, in that the powerlevel of its skills are all over the place, making it incredibly inconsistent. However, as those good skills are really good, it can make for a powerful secondary. Probably its greatest strength as a secondary lies with the healing found in Restoration Magic, though some of the spirit summoning skills in Communing and Channeling Magic can be quite useful, and Splinter Weapon is absurdly strong. Additionally, Ritualists have some very good resurrection skills that make it a reasonable default secondary—this is especially commonly done with heroes.

If you want to gain access to skills for healing your party with your secondary profession, then Restoration Magic is arguably the best choice, since several of its skills are very strong—unlike the Monk's Healing Prayers, they're not tuned down to accommodate Divine Favor. Typically Spirit Light and Mend Body and Soul are the preferred skills from Restoration Magic, being powerful even at 10 ranks in the attribute, though both want at least one spirit around. The binding ritual Life, also found in Restoration Magic, is a fine choice to fulfill this role. Additionally, Protective Was Kaolai can be useful, particularly on other casters, as a way to heal the party. If you go that route, Soothing Memories is a useful healing skill as well. I am also personally fond of Pure Was Li Ming as a way to clean the party up from conditions. It is notably useful in areas with a lot of traps, area of effect burning spells, and disease.

Communing does have powerful skills, but many of them want Soul Twisting, a Spawning Power elite (and thus nonviable for non-Ritualists) to really function. Still, binding rituals like Shadowsong and Pain can be useful. Note that the Ranger's Expertise attribute does decrease the cost of binding rituals, an easily overlooked property.

Signet of Spirits, a Channeling Magic elite, is absurdly powerful, and quite useful even as a secondary Ritualist. Bloodsong, a Channeling Magic binding ritual, is also useful.

Finally, Flesh of My Flesh and Death Pact Signet are both useful resurrection skills, and both are perfectly fine to use at 0-3 ranks of Restoration Magic. They have the benefit of being cheaper than many Monk resurrection skills in terms of cost to activate and of activating at full spell casting range—many of the Monk resurrection skills are either at touch range, half range, have other debilitating clauses, or are otherwise weak. In general, the Ritualist has an advantage over the Monk when it comes to resurrection skills in terms of general usability, though many of the Monk resurrection skills do have superior resurrecting power.

I do want to point out that the Spawning Power skill Sight Beyond Sight does have about 50% uptime, even at 0 Spawning Power. As it makes your character immune to blind, it can actually be quite useful in areas where blind is prevalent, and is worth considering in such situations.

Also note that Ritualists lack the ability to remove hexes.

Overall, I'd recommend Ritualist to those who want to heal as something other than a Monk primary, to summon offensive spirits to attack, or as a default for Factions characters for a resurrection skill.

Dervish

Note: You must have access to Nightfall to take Dervish as a secondary. If you create a character in another campaign, you must get the ability to change your secondary profession before you can adopt the Dervish profession as your secondary.

Dervish is a fairly awkward secondary to take, as many of its skills rely on the "tear down mechanic," where the skill requires removing a Dervish enchantment from yourself in order to fully function. This makes many of their skills more costly in a very real sense in terms of energy, clunkiness, and skill bar space required. It should also be added that many of the Dervish's enchantments are energy intensive to use because they are balanced around the Dervish's primary attribute, Mysticism, which makes them cheaper for the Dervish to use.

That said, there are a number of handy utility skills in both Wind Prayers and Earth Prayers, even if you ignore the ones reliant on this tear down mechanic. Further, scythes, the Dervish weapon, are extremely powerful due to their ability to hit up to three enemies with each swing and are easily used by anyone (from a resources standpoint) owing to the presence of many adrenaline attacks.

From Wind Prayers, I specifically want to highlight the elites Grenth's Grasp and Onslaught, both of which can be fun to work with, even on Dervish secondaries. Grenth's Grasp notably synergizes well with bows and swords. Onslaught is energy intensive to keep up, but the effect is powerful for melee attackers.

Earth Prayers is more defensive in nature and potentially useful to both physical attackers and casters alike in this regard. Of special note is Veil of Thorns, which reduces the damage taken from spells. Also, Mystic Regeneration is popular to use on characters that are planning on using a lot of enchantments, such as Elementalists.

Also, both Earth Prayers and Wind Prayers have healing skills that can target party members, and Wind Prayers notably has some strong self-healing skills. Pious Restoration is notably powerful if you can make use of the tear down mechanic, as being able to remove multiple hexes from yourself is extremely valuable.

Overall, I'd recommend Dervish as a secondary to anyone who wants to wield a scythe, desires some strong self-defense skills, or to other physical attackers, especially melee, who want the utility found in Earth and Wind Prayers.

Paragon

Note: You must have access to Nightfall to take Paragon as a secondary. If you create a character in another campaign, you must get the ability to change your secondary profession before you can adopt the Paragon profession as your secondary.

The Paragon has a number of useful support skills. Uniquely, some of these cost adrenaline rather than energy. However, that can make those skills less suitable for use by a caster, since building adrenaline can be challenging to do if you are spending more time casting spells than auto-attacking. The Paragon also uses a spear, which is an adrenaline-focused ranged weapon. As a final note, the Paragon also has access to resurrection skills.

As the Paragon is an offensive profession, its support skills naturally also work well for other offensive professions, particularly Command's many shouts, which do not interrupt the flow of combat. However, they are somewhat positional, which can make them less effective for melee attackers if they extend far enough from their back line. Many of these skills are energy based, and therefore also potentially useful on casters—it should be noted that shouts can also be used in the middle of casting a spell. A final Command shout I want to call attention to here is "Fallback!", which is extremely useful for increasing the entire party's movement speed outside of combat.

Another benefit of the Paragon's support skills is that the vast majority of them affect all allies or party members in earshot and do not require selecting a specific ally, making them easier to use on otherwise offensively focused characters. Note that this benefit is one for players and not the AI.

One issue the Paragon has is many of its skills, particularly in Motivation, reward using certain types of skills. This can make them less than appealing unless the party's build is being made with these support skills in mind.

As a weapon, spears can actually be useful to anyone. Their adrenaline nature can actually be a boon, since it can give casters that perhaps want to cast less often something to do, especially if they're wanting to minimize energy use outside of spells. Spears can also be useful as an alternative weapon choice for primary professions that are melee attackers, since many of them can struggle with the energy requirements of bow attacks. However, the spear does have the downside of a somewhat narrower selection of skills (it had fewer games to provide it with skills and around a quarter of its skills inflict conditional deep wound as their primary function) and lacks an area of effect option. Still, it attacks quickly and is a fun alternative to have available.

Note that Signet of Return, which is found in Leadership, is useful on secondaries. While not as powerful as other resurrection skills, it is still useful for resurrecting after battle.

Overall, I'd recommend Paragon as a secondary to those who want to blend offense and support more easily or use a spear.

Acquiring Skills

When first starting out, a new character won't have any skills. There are a few ways to acquire more: purchase them from skill trainers, receive them from quests (either as a quest reward, or on occasion, at the beginning or in the middle), capture them from bosses, or purchase them from hero skill trainers.

By far the most common way of acquiring skills is to purchase them from a skill trainer. However, this has several limitations. First, purchasing skills has a cost of both gold and a skill point, both of which are limited, if infinitely acquirable, resources. I have already covered acquiring gold in a later section. As for skill points, you acquire them from completing missions, certain quests, and by gaining experience points. Notably, you get one skill point for every level; once your character has reached maximum level, every 15,000 experience points will grant you an additional skill point.

Naturally, new characters have very few skill points, which will mean you'll have to be judicious in purchasing skills early on. Each campaign does have ways of helping to compensate for this. Prophecies has plentiful skill quests, Factions has quests with large experience rewards (facilitating faster skill point acquisition), and Nightfall has hero skill points (which I'll cover later when I go over hero skill trainers).

Another complication for purchasing skills is that skill trainers have limited selections. Each one offers a select pool of skills for purchase, plus any non-elite skill you have unlocked on your account. Unless you've chosen to purchase unlock packs from the store, a new account will have no skills unlocked until you acquire them. (Once unlocked, a skill stays unlocked on your account. See more on unlocking skills in the Miscellaneous section below.) This means that you may have to find the right trainer so that you can get the skill(s) that you want.

As for skill quests, most of them are found early on, as they're generally added to provide new characters with staple skills. As such, they are typically very helpful for getting your character started.

Capturing skills from bosses can't be done until you gain access to Signets of Capture, a skill that is used to permanently acquire a skill from a dead boss enemy that belongs to either of your professions, though the Signet of Capture is lost in this process. However, you can purchase as many Signets of Capture from skill trainers as you want, so think of this more as exchanging the Signet of Capture for another skill your character had yet to obtain. This is the only way to acquire elite skills (outside of Elite Skill Tomes, which are only useful if you already have skills unlocked on your account). You can acquire regular skills this way, too, but doing so isn't commonly done, since you do have to purchase Signets of Capture from skill trainers like you would any other skill.

Finally, there are hero skill trainers. They were added in Nightfall, though they can also be found in the Eye of the North expansion. They teach you a selection of skills in exchange for hero skill points, which are earned through gaining tiers in specific title tracks, such as the Sunspear Title track. Each hero skill trainer has a limited selection of skills which does not expand based on skills unlocked on your account. However, they can teach you skills for any profession, not just your current two—you'll be able to use any skills learned this way if you switch your secondary profession to the appropriate one. This also unlocks the skill on your account, making it possible for your heroes to use it, which is, I assume, why hero skill trainers were added, since players would need to acquire skills for professions other than their selected two for their heroes to use.

Overall, acquiring skills can be a fun and rewarding part of the game, and unlocking all skills on your account is a worthy goal. However, you certainly do not need all skills unlocked to be able to make significant progress—indeed, high end gameplay usually focuses on only a few specific skills. Also remember that henchmen have serviceable skill bars (for the most part), and can help you get through content while you accumulate the skills you need for your heroes.

Build Basics

There are several things to consider when making a build for a character. The first is what role the character will play as a member of their party, and the second is preparing for what the enemies that you'll face can do.

It can be useful to test stuff out in the Isle of the Nameless, just outside the Great Temple of Balthazar, though this won't necessarily be useful if you're trying to build a counter to a specific enemy composition.

Building as Part of a Team

It's important to remember that any given character is part of a larger team. While there are many useful roles (or partial roles; see below) that the majority of teams will want, these roles will usually need to be spread across the team.

However, it is useful to have some redundancy for a few reasons. The first is obvious: if a team member falls in battle, you'll want someone else to be able to do the same thing they were doing, at least until that party member can be resurrected. This is especially true for healing. On that note, the second reason redundancy is useful is less obvious, but perhaps even more important, which is that having multiple instances of something, especially defensive or healing functionality, can help distribute the burden of doing that thing. This allows for focusing on different targets, or allowing that functionality to persist if one member with it comes under heavy pressure from enemies. Again, this is especially useful for defensive characters and can add a lot of resiliency to a team!

But back to going over roles. Some of them are partial things that are useful to bring but don't require an entire skill bar to execute, while others are much larger. Keep in mind that the flexibility of the Guild Wars 1 skill system allows characters to mix-and-match functionality, often by having a primary focus and a secondary, smaller assist (for example, a Warrior with "Watch Yourself!" can play a primary offensive role with a secondary supporting role). Also, it is possible for a skill to play double duty. For example, knock down skills, such as Gale, can interrupt enemies and leave them vulnerable or temporarily snare them in either an offensive or defensive capacity.

Here is a general list of the various roles in no particular order.
  • Defense: Damage mitigation is extremely useful, and tends to be more powerful than healing when it comes to keeping your party alive. Of course, you do want healing as well—both are important!—as you generally can't prevent all incoming damage all the time. Still, damage mitigation can dramatically reduce the amount of healing necessary. There are several types of damage mitigation.
  • Healing: Healing skills, as expected, restore health to allies. These come in a lot of varieties, from self-healing skills that can only heal the user (e.g. Healing Signet, Ether Feast), general purpose healing spells (e.g. Orison of Healing, Spirit Light), party healing (e.g. Heal Party, Protective Was Kaolai), and regenerative healing (e.g. Healing Breeze; these are notably useful against many smaller packets of damage). In general, self-heals and regenerative healing aren't as popular, though both are useful. You often want a mixture of healing skill types, but pay attention to healing efficiency: cost compared to the amount healed. Also, make sure to keep Energy Management principles in mind!
  • Cleansing: This refers to skills that remove conditions or hexes from allies. As either type of debuff can be debilitating or cause a lot of damage, you usually want to remove them as soon as possible, though, of course, they can be waited out. You do want to pay attention to what enemies are doing, however, since some enemy groups may inflict very few of one or either type of debuff; in these cases, bringing a lot of skills to handle them may be an inefficient use of skill slots. On the other hand, if enemies inflict a lot of one type or the other (or both!), not bringing enough cleansing can severely impair your team. As such, this is one area where researching what the enemies can do can make a big difference in what effects you'll want to bring on your team.
  • Damage: An obvious category, but nevertheless important. Defensive and healing measures are all well and good, but you'll never win if you don't bring enough offense—and the best way to reduce incoming damage is to reduce the number of enemies able to inflict it. That said, however, not all damage is created equal. There are two general divisions: attack-based and skill-based.
    • Attack-based damage comes from attacking with your weapon as well as from attack skills. This type of damage respects armor (meaning it can be both decreased by high armor and increased by low armor—though, don't count on the latter happening very often). It can be blocked, and blind can cause it to miss. However, simple auto-attacking costs no resources to do, and it can really add up quickly, especially with the use of increase-attack-speed skills. Note that the plus damage on attack skills (e.g. +13 damage) actually ignores armor, so despite the fact that it'll appear as one damage packet, the damage from attack skills actually comes in two parts: the weapon damage (which cares about armor) plus the bonus damage (which ignores armor).
    • Skill-based damage comes from non-attack skills. These skills don't rely on your weapon for their damage, can't be blocked, and can't miss due to blind (though projectiles can still be dodged through skillful movement). If this damage has an elemental type (fire, water, lightning, or cold), then it cares about armor and will be either increased or (more usually) decreased by it. Otherwise, the damage is armor ignoring. (This includes life-steal, holy, and shadow damage types. Speaking of holy, it deals double damage to the undead.)
  • Disruption: This is the ability to mess with what the opponent is doing. Disruption includes interrupts, resource denial, snares, miss chances, decreased attack speed, and any other effect that reduces the enemy's capabilities (but doesn't necessarily deal damage to them, though some, such as Price of Failure, do). Disruption is powerful for both increasing party survival by reducing enemies' ability to damage your team and for reducing enemy durability by stopping their healing and other defensive skills. Let's talk some about the different types of disruption.
    • Interrupts: These, well, interrupt a foe's action. This prevents it from completing and sets it to recharge (in contrast to a skill failing, where resources such as energy are spent, but the skill does not go into recharge). As expected, interrupts can be extremely useful and powerful, since stopping a foe's action can reduce their ability to heal or deal damage to your party.
    • Resource Denial: This refers to skills that deprive an enemy of either energy or adrenaline. In general, resource denial isn't especially strong in PvE since enemies tend to die too quickly for it to have much impact. However, I do want to point out that some of the adrenaline disrupting skills (notably, Soothing Images) so powerfully disrupt adrenaline gain that they can be quite useful in zones where enemies use a lot of adrenaline skills. Also, it is possible to completely drain an AI's energy, it just tends to not be as useful as outright killing that enemy.
    • Snares: This refers to skills that slow an enemy's movement. This is typically done by inflicting the Crippled condition (which reduces movement speed by 50%) or by apply a hex that reduces movement speed—the Elementalist's Water Magic attribute has a lot of hexes that do this. Slowing enemy movement makes melee enemies easier to avoid and makes it easier for your own melee characters to catch up with and attack enemies.
    • Miss Chance: Only attacks can miss—spells and other non-attack skills can't (though if they use a projectile, they can be dodged; see section on some of these terms in the Miscellaneous category below). However, attacks often contribute a lot of damage, so skills that can make enemies miss (hexes with miss chances, such as Blurred Vision, or skills that inflict Blind, a condition that lowers accuracy by 90%) can dramatically reduce the amount of damage you take, especially from enemy compositions that favor physical attackers.
    • Decreased Attack Speed: Decreased attack speed primarily comes from hexes, such as Shadow of Fear. This decreases the overall Damage Per Second (DPS) of physical attackers, and as such, it is another way of decreasing damage taken from enemies.
    • Other effects include Weakness, a condition that reduces attack damage by 66%; direct damage reduction, such as from Dulled Weapon; Dazed, a condition that increases casting time and makes spells easily interrupted, which causes any attack to interrupt them; other effects that increase skill activation times, such as Migraine; knockdowns, which interrupt enemies, prevent the use of most types of skills, and prevent movement for a couple of seconds; and any number of other effects. All of these can make enemies less effective, easier to manage, or easier to interrupt.
  • Stripping: Typically, this refers to removing enchantments, though technically I would use it to refer to any effect that removes a buff from an enemy. Given that only enchantments and stances are removable, however, and stance removal is usually just called stance removal, well, you get the idea. Anyway, removing enchantments and stances is often useful, since those buffs provide a benefit to enemies. However, I find they are most useful to concern yourself over when they provide defense, damage reduction, or healing. There are some zones where enchantment or stance removal skills are invaluable and others where they do very little, if anything. This is another place where doing research on what the enemies can do is very useful; however, it's important to be aware of what will actually impact your party. For example, if you're bringing a lot of physical attackers (including Ritualist attack spirits or Necromancer minions), skills that block attackers matter a great deal (such as the ever popular Whirling Defense stance or the Critical Defenses enchantment). On the other hand, if your party is mostly or entirely skill and spell based damage, then blocking matters very little, and as a consequence, there is no reason to spend effort—and more importantly, skill slots—on removing these effects.
  • Support: A bit of a catch-all for effects that boost your party offensively, rather than defensively. This is often more of a build-around category (such as an Orders Necromancer), though there are a lot of skills that fit in here.
One role you'll notice is absent is tanking. While the concept does exist in Guild Wars 1, it isn't present in the truest sense, as there is no way to actually manage enemy aggression like many other team-based games have—there is no provoke mechanic or other way to force an enemy to focus their attention on you. The closest to this is to run ahead of your party sufficiently, since the AI generally won't target characters outside of their aggro range. However, even if they are focused on you, there is no guarantee that they'll maintain that focus. This is especially true if enemies detect that they are in damage over time area of effect skills, such as Fire Storm, as this will cause them to flee from the effect, which often results in them selecting new targets.

As I said at the beginning, most teams will want some mixture of these roles, but what is emphasized can vary. There is a lot of room for experimentation, and doing so is something I personally find to be a joy and the primary draw of Guild Wars 1. However, your personal mileage may vary. If you find yourself uninterested in the build craft, but you otherwise enjoy the game, there are resources you can look at, such as PvX Wiki. However, I'm not an expert on these resources, because, as I said, I personally find a large source of my enjoyment of Guild Wars 1 in creating my own builds and team compositions and thus have little personal use for them.

I should add that I have a video demonstrating this topic that can be viewed here.

Accounting For Enemies

Success can hinge on how prepared you are for what enemies can do. In general, I like to use the wiki to research zones that I'm going to be heading into, especially before Vanquishing, so that I can properly prepare. However, Vanquishing isn't a concern if you're just starting out!

Each zone and enemy composition is different. That said, here are a few things to look out for (and note that enemies will often bring a lot of copies of the same set of skills, so be aware of that):
  • Are there going to be a lot of degeneration hexes, such as Conjure Phantasm, or punisher hexes such as Empathy? Then you will want to make sure to bring enough hex removal.
  • Are there going to be a lot of conditions? Pay special attention to debilitating conditions, such as Blind, Weakness, and Crippled—if you see a lot skills that apply these, try to focus more heavily on spell casting. It's also useful to bring plentiful condition removal, since degeneration conditions can cause a lot of damage quickly if enough of them stack up on your characters.
  • Do the enemies have a lot of skills that can knock down your party members? These will commonly be found on Hammer Warriors and Elementalists—keep a special eye out for area of effect Elementalist Spells that can cause knock down, such as Meteor, Meteor Shower, Earthquake, or Dragon's Stomp. Additionally, Wurm type enemies typically cause knock down as they surface. Skills that can prevent knockdowns, such as Ward of Stability, can make the difference between victory and defeat against such foes!
  • If you are bringing physical attackers, it's useful to check for blocking skills and blind spam. For the former, stances can be extremely frustrating to deal with, especially the longer lasting Ranger blocking stances Whirling Defense and Lightning Reflexes or the Assassin stance Flashing Blades. I recommend keeping an eye out for enemies that use these skills and preparing to deal with them. Also, Raptors, found in Eye of the North, love Critical Defenses, a blocking enchantment. If you're going to be visiting their territory, make sure you bring enchantment removal.
Aside from bringing specific skills to be able to deal with skills that enemies use, situational awareness can also help. For example, the AI is generally good at running from damage over time area of effect spells (such as Fire Storm). However, due to the fact that Meteor Shower's pulse is every three seconds (as opposed to every second), the AI is usually terrible at fleeing from it. Keep an eye out for your heroes and/or henchmen when facing enemies that use Meteor Shower, and flag them out of it if you see it landing on them! (The flag controls can be found along the compass, and create a location that henchmen and heroes will path towards and defend.)

Another thing that's useful to be aware of are melee enemies attacking your back line. It can be very easy to not pay attention to this, especially if you yourself are playing a melee character. However, disrupting enemy melee attackers can be extremely beneficial to your team, since their very presence can cause more issues than might be immediately obvious—they can apply a lot of damage just by attacking and often control positioning, either by triggering your allies' AI to flee to try and mitigate damage, or by boxing them in. This pressure and disruption can often be hard to notice if you're focused on ranged enemies, since it will often be happening behind you.

Further, because AI companions generally try to focus on your target, they often do little to actively disrupt or kill enemy units harassing them—though note that this only applies to AI party members, not summons such as minions. Speaking of minions, they're actually really useful for distracting enemy AI away from targeting your party members, especially melee enemies.

Overall, learning how to contend with enemy groups is a process, and there's plenty to learn about each type of enemy category, whether Stone Summit Dwarves in the Northern Shiverpeaks, the Am Fah in Kaineng City, or Corsairs in Istan. However, as this is theoretically a primer, I think I'll avoid writing a comprehensive guide to building for every single zone in the game.

Energy Management

Energy is the backbone of the combat system, and thus learning to manage it can have a huge impact on your success. Energy management starts with and is most impacted by your build (especially for Heroes), though the way you use your build is also important.

The essence of energy management is that you have to be careful to think through how your build will play and what its energy demands will be and how you intend to manage those demands. There are two aspects to this. The first is your maximum energy, which dictates your maximum burst potential—that is, the higher your maximum energy, the more energy you can expend quickly before running out. The second is your energy regeneration rate. This rate tends to be very constant by design.

Let's discuss some examples to help demonstrate these concepts.

Let's say a Monk is using the spell Heal Other. This is a powerful single-target healing spell that costs 10 energy. A Monk has a base energy regeneration rate of 4 pips; for every pip of energy regeneration, you'll recover a third of an energy per second. This means it'll take 7.5 seconds to fully recover the energy spent to cast Heal Other; if you have zero energy, that's how often you can cast it if you cast it as soon as you have enough energy.

However, Heal Other has a 3 second recharge. This means you can cast it more often than every 7.5 seconds if you have enough energy. This demonstrates the reserve power of having more maximum energy, as it lets you not only cast more Heal Others before having to wait for your energy to recharge, it lets you cast other spells with your energy, too.

Which brings me to an important point. If you are at zero energy and are casting Heal Other as soon as you have enough energy to cast it, you're literally casting no other spells. At least, none that cost energy, anyway; not unless you're using some means to restore your energy!

This may make you think that using expensive spells is a bad idea, but that isn't so! Many of them are expensive because they are powerful, and therefore worth using. What I am saying is that you want to figure out how you are using your skills and how you'll remain useful in battle once you reach 0 energy and have to wait to regenerate enough to begin using your skills again.

Here are a few important things to consider when making a build:
  • If your build relies on frequent use of a skill that costs 10 or more energy, make sure you have a plan to restore your energy or otherwise compensate for the cost. This can come in many forms—primary attributes such as Soul Reaping, for instance, or skills that restore energy such as Energy Tap.
    • Speaking of Primary Attributes, it is worth noting that, aside from Soul Reaping as mentioned, both Leadership and Critical Strikes also restore energy. Additionally, Expertise and Mysticism make certain classes of skills cheaper, and Divine Favor technically makes Monk spells more efficient at healing (it effectively improves the amount of hit points healed to energy spent ratio). Energy Storage does give you more burst potential, but it does not improve energy management in the way that these other primary attributes do.
  • Make sure you are using your skills as efficiently as you can. The more expensive they are, the more important this is. For example, Heal Party, a spell that heals the entire party for about 60 hit points for 15 energy, is wildly inefficient if you are getting an effective heal on fewer than three party members—using Orison of Healing as a comparison point, that spell can heal one ally for closer to 70 hit points for 5 energy. That's 10 energy spread across two allies, but 15 spread across three. Thus, you'd spend the same amount of energy to heal three allies with the single target Orison of Healing as you would with the full party affecting Heal Party. Once you're healing 4+ members, Heal Party starts to become far more efficient. Therefore, you'll want to use Heal Party strategically, rather than spam it on recharge, if you want it to be an efficient spell.
  • If you run into energy problems, it is helpful to evaluate how often you are using certain skills, especially ones that cost 10+ energy, and how effective they actually are given what you are doing. For example, Spirit Bond is a powerful Protection Prayers enchantment, but it will often do very little in Normal Mode, especially early on, since enemies are less likely to deal enough damage with individual hits to trigger it. If on a hero, it's low recharge makes them prone to spamming it unnecessarily.
  • Even 5 energy spells, if given a low enough recharge, can be a burden on energy pools.
  • Signets always cost no energy to use (unless Primal Echoes is active; watch out for this in the Maguuma Jungle). Finding signets that complement what your build is trying to do is a great way to have something to do without expending energy.
  • It's also OK to just auto-attack for a little bit and regenerate energy, even on casters.
  • Adrenaline is an alternate cost to energy, but it requires landing attacks (any attacks) to charge up. If adrenaline skills make sense on your character, they can be a great way to mitigate energy demands.
  • Consider using party support skills that restore energy. Of these, Blood Ritual and Blood Is Power are some of the most popular.
  • Zealous mods can be applied to martial weapons. This prefix modifier reduces your energy regeneration rate by one pip, but cause your attacks to gain you one energy when they hit. As long as you're getting enough hits in, these will effectively improve your energy recharge rate—you break even at one hit every three seconds, and if you're hitting more often than that, you'll have effectively improved your energy regeneration rate. Note that I wouldn't recommend using a Zealous weapon on a caster (though you could technically use a bow or spear without having to chase enemies down), as the amount of time you'll spend casting dramatically lowers how often you'll even be able to make attacks.
I've spent a lot of words on talking about energy management, but for good reason. It isn't necessarily obvious to consider, the game does a generally poor job of teaching it, and it has a huge impact on success—a team that's run out of energy is usually a team that's about to wipe.

Frankly, each build will play a bit differently when it comes to actually managing energy while in combat. The important thing to do is keep an eye on how quickly you run out of energy. If you always have full energy, you may be able to bring a more expensive skill or two (or use the ones you have more often). If you are always running out, you should look into replacing a more expensive skill with a cheaper one, bring some skills that restore energy or grant additional energy regeneration, or find ways to decrease how often you need to use your most expensive skills.

Build craft is always a process of trial and error, of figuring out what does and doesn't work. To do that, you need to pay enough attention to what is going on to try and identify problem areas—with energy management being just one possible area that can cause problems.

Target Prioritization

An important initial note is that heroes and henchmen (the two types of AI companions) will both tend to prioritize whatever enemy you have targeted. This means identifying your target often has a large impact on your success!

As a general principle you want to target healers first, then clean up from there. Healers are typically either Monks or Ritualists, though not all Ritualists are healers and not all enemies have their profession clearly identified (though they do have one).

This principle is, however, only a general principle, and there are many situations where it breaks down.

A common case is where a non-healer enemy does something particularly dangerous. This tends to be especially true in situations where there are no healers (or their builds are...highly ineffective at healing). This exact situation comes up towards the end of both Factions and Prophecies—the final Prophecies mission has extremely deadly Elementalists and no healers to be found, and the latter portion of Factions has enemies where the "healers" have extremely ineffective builds and the Elementalists are capable of dealing a lot of damage very quickly.

High damage isn't the only danger, however! There may be highly disruptive enemies, such as Mesmers, that warrant higher prioritization.

Also, enemies with resurrection skills should often be high priority targets, especially if they are using skills other than Resurrection Signet (which can only be used once). Such enemies are extremely rare in Prophecies, but there are common enemies in Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North that use resurrection skills, so it is worth keeping an eye out for them. (Links are examples, not exhaustive lists.)

Additionally, melee attackers that are attacking your back line (your casters, especially healers) can be extremely destabilizing to your team. There are times where it is worth it to prioritize these enemies.

Another consideration for prioritization is how much enemies are grouped up. It is often good practice to focus on an enemy in the middle of a clump of foes to maximize the impact of area of effect spells. On the other hand, I've often found that if you're targeting an enemy in the middle of a group, melee AI can end up body blocked attempting to reach that target and fail to actually attack anything, so if you're bringing any melee heroes or henchmen, it's a good idea to pay attention to them, as they can become extremely ineffective in such situations as a result. In these cases, it's best to attack a target they can actually reach.

Finally, it is important to address bosses. Bosses are uniquely named enemies (e.g. Wroth Yakslapper) that often have the same skill bars as similar, non-boss enemies around them. They typically look like these enemies, except they have a glowing aura. This aura matches their primary profession; for example, Elementalists glow red.

In most of the game, bosses are a high priority target because they deal double damage, which makes them very deadly. This is especially true of Elementalist bosses, which can often devastate teams with powerful area of effect spells.

However, the "most of the game" part of the preceding paragraph is very important! This is because Prophecies bosses (the first game released) work differently. They don't deal additional damage; instead, they are far more durable than normal enemies—conditions and hexes last half as long on them (you can exploit this fact with certain skills, such as Wastrel's Worry) and they typically have more armor. These properties mean that I often target Prophecies bosses last in their group, rather than first. This allows me to reduce the damage my party is taking the fastest, since the normal enemies will be dealing similar amounts of damage as Prophecies bosses, but will die far more quickly.

Armor

There are a few important things to know about armor beyond Insignia and Runes, though those are important, so let's discuss them first.

Insignia are a prefix for your armor, while runes are a suffix. For example, in the armor name "Blessed Tyrian Robes of Minor Fire Magic" the "Blessed" part is the Insignia, the "Tyrian Robes" is the name of the piece of armor (in this case, it is Elementalist armor), and the "Minor Fire Magic" part is the rune. Additional, both Insignia and Runes come in profession specific and general categories. Profession specific Insignia and Runes can only be attached to armor for that profession (you can't wear armor for one profession on a character of another profession). General Insignia and Runes can be used by anyone.

In general, Insignia provide conditional bonus armor. For example, the Blessed Insignia mentioned above is a general Insignia that gives +10 armor while your character is enchanted. While conditional bonus armor is the most common effect, Insignia can also provide other effects, such as bonus hit points (Survivor) or maximum energy (Radiant). There are also some profession specific effects, such as increased knockdown duration on the Warrior's Stonefist Insignia.

The most common type of rune is the Attribute boosting rune. These runes come in Minor, Major, and Superior varieties. Minor runes increase the given attribute by 1; Major runes increase the given attribute by 2, but also reduce maximum hit points by 35; and Superior runes increase the given attribute by 3, but reduce maximum hit points by 75. While using multiple Superior or Major runes can give you a big boost to attributes, it comes at a cost to your durability; as such, I generally wouldn't advise using more than one Superior rune (with the rest minors) or two Major runes (with the rest minors) unless you're doing something very specific and deliberate. It is also important to note that the attribute bonus from runes does not stack with itself. For example, using three minor runes of the same attribute will still only increase that attribute by 1. The bonus is labeled as "non-stacking" for this reason; in contrast, the head armor piece will also give +1 to an attribute, but this bonus is "stacking" because it stacks with the bonus from a rune.

There are other types of runes, most of which are general runes. These also come in minor, major, and superior varieties, but they do not demand maximum hit points the way the attribute boosting runes do. Also, there are runes that come at specific rarities that do not follow the minor, major, and superior model. Regardless, the bonuses from these runes also do not stack with each other, with the exception of Vitae and Attunement runes.

Choosing which Insignia and Runes to use is an important aspect of both armor and build craft. I often carry around multiple armor sets (or at least head pieces) on my characters to be able to adjust these effects without having to keep buying new runes or insignia to overwrite previous ones. (If you apply an Insignia or Rune to an armor piece that already has one, it'll overwrite the previous one, though not without you confirming it through a prompt.)

As for armor itself, the first thing to be aware of is that each piece of armor protects its specific region. That is, head pieces protect your head, chest pieces your chest, leg pieces your legs, boots your feet, and gloves your hands. Each region has a chance of being hit by any given attack. The chest region will be hit on average 3/8 (37.5%) of the time, the legs 2/8 (25%) of the time, and the feet, head, and hands 1/8 (12.5%) of the time each.

This has a few consequences. First, crafting costs for armor pieces reflect these ratios, meaning that chest and leg pieces cost more than the other three pieces. Second, it means that Insignia that grant additional armor only apply to the piece of armor to which they are applied. For example, if you put a Stalwart insignia (+10 armor against physical damage) on your feet, it won't help you when a physical attack hits anywhere other than your feet.

This behavior is not obvious, nor do I recall it being well explained in the game (it's been a while since I've seen all of the tutorial information). I know I didn't understand this when I first started playing the game, a few months after it released. Instead, I had incorrectly assumed that armor was additive across all pieces, which led me to making decisions about what Insignia to use based on this faulty understanding. Hopefully this information is able to spare you from making my error!

Another thing that's useful to know is that, generally speaking, 60 armor is a baseline of armor. Less than that, and you (or enemies) will begin taking extra damage and more than that and you'll take less. The formula is such that every 40 armor is a factor of two. That is, 20 armor means you'll take double damage and 100 armor means you'll take half damage.

It is useful to be aware of base armor values as well. Warriors have 80 base armor and 100 armor against physical damage types, Rangers have 70 base armor and 100 armor against elemental damage types. Casters have 60 base armor, Dervishes and Assassins have 70 base armor, and Paragons have 80 base armor. Their armor does not have any inherent special modifiers against specific damage types, unlike Warriors and Rangers. This is typically (though not always) reflected in enemy armor values as well—for example, if you see an enemy Ranger, it will typically have 30 more armor against elemental damage than it does against physical damage, making physical damage more potent against it.

Also, armor dictates your base maximum energy and energy regeneration rate. Of these, energy regeneration is the more important. Most professions get a base of four pips of energy regeneration (see below section on Regeneration Caps for more information for what this means). The exceptions are the Ranger with three pips and the Warrior and Paragon with two pips.

Making Money and Materials

The primary currency of Guild Wars 1 is gold. Every one thousand gold is equal to one platinum; the player base tends to abbreviate this with "k," such as 1k for one platinum, which is equivalent to one thousand gold. A character can hold, at maximum, 100 platinum, while the Xunlai storage bank can hold 1000 platinum.

Of course, gold is used for many things, including purchasing items from merchants, crafting, buying skills from skill trainers, acquiring various items from traders, and player-to-player trades.

Needless to say, acquiring gold is often extremely important. It can also feel difficult to do early on, especially if you're playing on a new account that hasn't yet built up resources. While it is difficult to get extremely rich without dedicated farming or engaging in trading (and possibly getting lucky), I've found that it is quite reasonable to get sufficient wealth through just playing the game. Here are some of the things I do:
  • Pick up every drop (if feasible). Gold pickups are split evenly across the party (which means that that gold drop of around 100 becomes about 12 when split among an eight person team), while even white drops can often be worth 50-100 gold in later game zones. That may not sound like much, but it definitely adds up!
  • Keep an eye on trader prices, and make use of them!
    • Traders are NPCs that facilitate the trade of common types of items between players, such as common and rare crafting materials, dyes, and runes and insignia. Keep in mind that traders won't sell items for less than 100 gold and won't purchase items for less than their merchant value. (Note that Superior runes have a minimum sell price of 200 gold, rather than 100 gold, and rare scrolls also have their own minimums.)
    • Selling extra crafting materials to the trader can earn you a lot more gold than selling them to a merchant would. Players will also sometimes give even better deals for highly-desired crafting materials, such as feathers. (Note: Because you buy and sell common crafting materials to the trader in increments of 10, it is worth your time to make sure you aren't selling at the merchant price, since doing so is far slower than just selling extra materials to the merchant!)
    • Runes and Insignia can be worth a surprising amount, even on common (blue) armors! I always like to check the value of such items to see if it is worth using an Expert, Superior or Perfect Salvage Kit to extract the rune or insignia to sell to the trader. I only bother extracting runes or insignia (that I'm not planning on using) that the trader is buying for at least 100 gold above the standard price (so usually the trader is selling for 200 gold)—otherwise, it is more likely that the armor is worth more than the rune or insignia is; indeed, always make sure to compare the value of the armor against your best estimate as to the value of the rune or insignia before salvaging, as the armor can definitely be worth more! I will always salvage runes or insignia out of armor drops with extremely low values, where even the merchant price of the rune is worth more than the armor is.
  • Identify everything you're planning on selling to the merchant if it has no stated gold value in the information panel, even if it is a white item with no mods. This will always increase the value, often by significantly more than the 4 gold an identification kit charge costs. While you can sometimes increase the value by less than that amount, on average, you'll make a lot more selling trash to merchants this way!
    • If you check the merchant, a price will be displayed even if the item hasn't been identified. In general, I wouldn't identify an item worth less than about 20 gold before identification, which includes many early game items, as the increase is far more likely to be only 1 or 2 gold, and thus not worth it.
  • There are lore books you can acquire from various NPCs in towns before the section of the story that can be played by foreign characters begins (Lion's Arch, Kaineng Center, the Sunspear Great Hall, and the Eye of the North, among other places, in the expansion). These books are filled out by completing missions (you just need to finish the mission—doing the bonus or getting the Expert's or Master's reward isn't required). A completely filled out book can be returned to these NPCs for substantial rewards, including gold.
  • Zaishen Quests typically have fairly good rewards, even if done in normal mode (completing a campaign is required to unlock hard mode for that campaign), and are an excellent source of gold, experience points, often faction, and Zaishen coins (which can be used for yourself or traded to players).
Do note that all resources are harder to come by earlier in the game (when enemy levels are lower and party sizes smaller), as drops are worth overall less money and salvage into fewer materials. You can still get lucky on runes or insignia, though!

Crafting materials are another important resource, as they are used to make armor and weapons at a crafter. While you can sometimes get crafting materials as drops from enemies, the more common way of acquiring them (particularly common crafting materials) is by salvaging them from loot drops. Again, higher value loot will salvage into more materials. You can also sometimes find loot labeled "highly salvageable" that will salvage into higher quantities of materials than normal.

When it comes to salvaging, there are different types of salvage kits that you can use. Here's a rundown of them:
  • Salvage Kit: The standard (and cheapest) salvage kit. It can only be used to extract common crafting materials from items, though often this is good enough.
  • Expert Salvage Kit: A slightly more expensive salvage kit. It can be used to extract mods from items (either weapon mods, such as prefixes, suffixes, or inscriptions; or insignia and runes from enemy armor). When salvaging out one of these mods, there is a chance that the item the mod is being salvaged from could break. If used to salvage materials, the item will be destroyed regardless, but when done with an Expert Kit, there may be a chance to receive rare crafting materials.
  • Superior Salvage Kit: Identical to an Expert Salvage Kit, except that it has 100 charges instead of 25. Note that they also cost more per use than an Expert Salvage Kit, so you do pay for the privilege of conserving inventory slots. That said, I tend to use these far more often than Expert Kits, as they can be acquired from collectors, especially from Factions ones, that allow you to trade trophies acquired from quests for them.
  • Perfect Salvage Kit: Extremely expensive, these can only be acquired as quest rewards from specific Eye of the North quests or crafted by special NPCs (several of which can be found in Embark Beach). Perfect Salvage Kits only have 5 charges and can't be used to salvage materials; they can only be used to extract mods, runes, and insignia from equipment. However, they will never break the piece of equipment in this process, making them useful for guaranteeing the removal of multiple valuable mods or preserving whatever you are extracting the mod from.
If you're trying to acquire crafting materials, I recommend aggressively salvaging all white drops you get, including trophy items (as these often salvage reasonably well—in my experience, certain types of trophy items are some of the best sources of feathers and plant fibers—though you may want to save them to trade to collectors for weapons or armor).

Also, many rare crafting materials can be made out of common crafting materials by artisans. They can be identified by an "[Artisan]" or "[Materials]" tag after their names. (Note the difference between "[Materials]" and "[Materials Trader]"; the former is an artisan and the later is a common crafting materials trader.) I would always check to see if using an artisan is a cheaper way to acquire the types of rare crafting materials they can create before buying them from the trader.

The last resource I want to mention here are skill points, which are used to acquire skills from skill trainers (along with a gold fee that increases per skill purchased until capping at 1 platinum per skill). You earn one skill point each time you gain a level. Once you reach level 20 (the maximum), you'll gain an additional skill point for every 15,000 experience points your character earns. Many primary quests and missions will also reward you with skill points for completing them.

As a final note, players have also adopted a couple of rarer items as additional currency for player-to-player trading, since some items have enough value within the player economy that the character cap of 100,000 gold is insufficient for trading these items. There are three main items used for this purpose. The first is the rare crafting material, Glob of Ectoplasm, which gets abbreviated to "e" or "ecto." The second is a sort of voucher item that can be traded for late game Nightfall weapons. This item is called an Armbrace of Truth, and gets abbreviated to "a" in trade chats. You will also sometimes see "z" for Zaishen Key, an item used to open the Zaishen chest in the battle isles. Most player-to-player trading occurs in Kamadan, Jewel of Istan, found early on in the Nightfall campaign.

Miscellaneous Concepts

Fleshiness

Most creatures in Guild Wars 1 are "fleshy," but there are notably many enemies that are not. Things that are fleshy leave exploitable corpses when they die (relevant for many Necromancer skills, primarily Wells and minion animating spells) and can be Bled, Poisoned, and Diseased.

The last three are important to be aware of, as non-fleshy creatures are immune to those three conditions. This is notably impactful for Rangers (who often use Poison and Bleeding) and sword Warriors (who tend to rely on Bleeding for Gash).

If you know an area is going to be filled with many enemies that are non-fleshy, it is wise to avoid relying on skills that require exploitable corpses or inflict (or otherwise care about) the Bleeding, Poison, or Disease conditions.

In general, these categories of creatures are non-fleshy:
  • Necromancer minions (with the exception of the appropriately named Flesh Golem).
  • Skeletons (though not ghouls or zombies—these two types of undead are fleshy!).
  • Elementals (such as golem-style enemies that are amalgams of floating rocks or ice).
  • Djinn (technically a subclass of elementals).
  • Magical constructs, such as Jade constructs or Enchanted foes (though confusing, some enchanted foes, notably bosses, are fleshy for some unknown reason).
It should be noted that Spirits (created through Binding or Nature Rituals) are immune to all conditions except Burning and also do not leave exploitable corpses.

Buff/Debuff Caps

Buffs and debuffs have caps. These caps only come into effect when multiple skills are affecting the same thing; individual skills can exceed these caps. For example, multiple skills cannot increase your movement speed by more than 34%, but an individual skill (such as Dash) can increase your movement speed by more than that (in the case of Dash, by 50%). It is useful to be aware of these so that you don't waste skills trying to get benefits beyond what the game will allow.

The most relevant buff and debuff caps are:
  • Attack speed has a cap of 33% increase and 50% decrease.
  • Movement speed has a cap of 34% increase and 50% decrease.
  • Armor buffs from skills cap at +25.
There are others, but these are the ones that you are most likely to encounter. A full list can be found here.

Regeneration and Degeneration Caps

Health Regeneration and Energy Regeneration cannot exceed 10 pips in either direction. You can have more than 10, and they matter in an additive sense, but you will only be affected by at most ten.

For example, if you have multiple effects on you causing a total of 20 pips of health degeneration, you'll only be affected by 10 of them. If you then receive an effect that gives you health regeneration, it does have to contend with the actual value of health degeneration. Continuing the example, if you gained 9 pips of health regeneration, you'll now have a total of 11 pips of health degeneration, meaning you'll still be affected by 10 pips of health degeneration. As such, it will appear as if the health regeneration skill is having no effect—and as a practical consideration, this is true; unless another skill gives you even more health regeneration, the first one does effectively nothing. The converse is also true: if you have plentiful pips of health regeneration, it'll require substantial amounts of health degeneration to overcome it.

It is worth noting that 1 pip of health regeneration represents a change of 2 health per second (meaning 10 pips represents 20 health lost or gained per second). One pip of energy regeneration represents 1/3 of an Energy per second, meaning that three pips of energy regeneration is equivalent to gaining one energy every second and one pip of energy regeneration gains you one energy every three seconds.

Overextending

Overextending is when a character moves especially far from the rest of their team. This most commonly happens to melee attackers, especially Assassins (either primary or secondary) using shadow steps to teleport into combat.

Overextending is extremely dangerous to do, as it separates the overextending character from the support of their back line, most critically from the aid of healers. This can often result in the overextending character's death. Another issue, especially with AI companions such as Heroes and Henchmen, is that overextending players can encourage the AI back line to charge recklessly into the midst of the enemy mob, putting them in a far more vulnerable position, and possible precipitating a party wipe.

Useful User Interface Windows

The mission map (default keybinding: U) is an extremely useful tool for navigation. Not to be confused with the compass (which shows things like enemy and ally positions), the mission map is a rectangular, resizeable, and freely positionable window that shows a more zoomed out view of the area. It also displays where you've been with red dots, which can greatly aid navigation. Unlike the compass, it only shows the player's position, not the position of allies or enemies. It will show the position of resurrection shrines and collectors, along with a few other things—see the link above for more information.

There is an all bags inventory display option. By default, this is bound to F9, and it shows all of your inventory bags at once. This can greatly simplify inventory management. Note that it shows up in its own panel which does not show your character's equipment or gold. It also does not show the contents of your equipment pack. If you want to see those things, you need to open the standard inventory (default keybinding: I), though both can be open simultaneously.

UI and Keybinding Customization

You can customize hotkeys and the user interface in the options menu. There are even some keybinding options which are not used by default. For the user interface, you can toggle elements on and off, reposition them, and resize them.

Beware Scams When Trading!

Alas, players do sometimes attempt to commit scams. A common way of doing this is by using an item that has the same inventory icon as the desired item. While ArenaNet have tried to do things over the years to make scamming harder to do, inattentive players can still get caught unawares. Remember, you can always mouse-over item icons to see the details!

Unlocking Skills

Whenever you acquire a new skill, either elite or non-elite, provided it isn't a PvE-only skill, it will unlock on your account. This is a permanent status for the skill, and is true for your entire account regardless of which character you are playing. So, for example, if you make a Warrior as your first character, you'll soon learn Healing Signet and unlock it on your account. If you then later make a new character and that character learns Healing Signet, well, the skill is already unlocked, so that character simply learns it.

There are three main ways of unlocking skills. As mentioned, a character learning a skill through normal means in PvE will unlock a skill (see Acquiring Skills subsection under the builds section above for more details on this). You can also unlock skills with Balthazar Faction (acquired through PvP) at a Priest of Balthazar; this unlocks the skill on your account but does not teach it to your character. Finally, you can purchase skill unlock packs for real world money from the Guild Wars 1 store to unlock all skills in a given regional category (Core, Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, or Eye of the North) on your account.

There are several benefits to having a skill unlocked on your account. These benefits are:
  • Any PvP-only character you create will be able to use the skill. (This was the original purpose for unlocking skills on your account; the rest were added later.)
  • Your heroes can use any skill unlocked on your account, just like PvP-only characters can.
  • Skill trainers will teach any non-elite skill unlocked on your account, provided they are in the appropriate world-region. (Skills are divided into Core—which are available in all campaigns—and campaign specific regions for Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North. Therefore, if you unlock a Prophecies specific skill, all skill trainers in Prophecies regions will teach that skill, but skill trainers in other regions, such as the Factions region of Cantha, will not.)
  • You can learn unlocked skills on any character using skill tomes provided it is for either of your character's current two professions. Note that these come in elite and non-elite varieties.

Dodging, Straying, Obstructed, Blocking, and Missing

The five terms above can all sound somewhat similar, so let's clear them up.

Projectiles can be dodged, stray, or obstructed. When this happens, the projectile fails to hit, and thus has no effect, regardless of whether it was an attack (such as with a bow or staff) or a spell (such as Flare). If there is an area of effect component (such as from Ignite Arrows or Fireball) and the target is still in range of that area of effect, they can still be hit by it.

Guild Wars 1 uses a leading system for projectiles. This means it looks at how the target is moving (or isn't moving), then determines the projectile's flight time (how long it takes to hit) and uses these two things to determine where the enemy will be when the projectile's flight time is completed. It then aims the projectile for that location. A projectile is dodged when a sufficient change in movement occurs between when the projectile is launched and when it lands. This will cause the projectile to fail to hit. Intentionally trying to cause this to occur is a more advanced defensive technique, but one that can be quite useful, as it can reduce damage taken without costing any resources.

In contrast to dodging, a projectile is obstructed when there is blocking geometry between the origin point and the destination. This can sometimes occur even when it seems like it shouldn't, particularly when dealing with bridges or other odd bits of geometry. Straying is when the leading system mentioned above predicts that the target will be in an obstructed location, even if they aren't there just yet. It is mechanically similar to obstructed in this way; both effects cause the projectile to fail to hit.

In contrast, blocking occurs as a result of a character state caused by a skill and signifies that an attack has failed to hit. As such, it will have no effect unless otherwise stated. Some attack skills specify that they cannot be blocked. Also, spells and other non-attack skills cannot be blocked, regardless of whether or not they are projectiles.

Finally, missing occurs as a result of a character state applied to the attacker that causes an attack to fail to hit. This is most commonly caused by the Blind condition, which causes attacks to miss 90% of the time, though there are a few hexes which can also cause attacks to miss. There is no inherent accuracy system in Guild Wars 1; by default, everything is 100% accurate (with the caveat of dodging, straying, and obstructed as mentioned above).

Conclusion

I hope that this has been a helpful document to you. If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.

Thank you for reading!

Special thanks to f3ar from my Twitch chat and Discord server for suggesting a reordering of a couple of segments to improve flow.

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