Tracking the Metagame I – 11.04.2015

An Introduction to “Tracking the Metagame”

This is the first article of a series in which I will be observing changes in the Guild Wars 2 sPvP metagame. I am aiming to create a discussion point and hopefully provide confused sPvP players some direction in their gameplay. The opinions I write are supplanted by watching recent EU/NA ESL and Academy Gaming tournaments, talking to various members of the competitive scene, and my own personal observations. Because I am discussing the metagame, I am assuming a certain level of familiarity with terminology and skill names. And by no means is anything I write conclusive; feedback is always welcome!

Because Heart of Thorns just released, I will go ever each new specialization in the first installment. Future installments will probably focus on more on gameplay, and may be released weekly or biweekly depending on the rate the meta changes.

11/4 – First 1.5 Weeks of Heart of Thorns

Dragonhunter and Revenant have come crashing into the meta with a substantial impact. Dragonhunter’s ability to deal consistent damage at all ranges has made it a top choice for a teamfight threat. The new Trap utilities can be used in conjunction with Flashing Blade (a blink) to one shot an unsuspecting target, and Longbow boasts ranged pressure nearly on par with that of a Power Ranger. Revenant, on the other hand, looks to be the new mobile bruiser, with some of the highest chasing potential in the game. Revenant doesn’t fare quite as well in terms of defense as say, a D/D Elementalist, but is much more dangerous if not focused. They are able to assassinate other DPS specs very easily, and win 1v1 against most non-condition builds.

Put together, Dragonhunter and Revenant have effectively pushed most other physical damage reliant builds to wayside. It has become much harder to successfully utilize Power Ranger, Shatter Mesmer, Shadow Arts D/P Thief, and other such builds. (Not to say they are unplayable.) The AoE traps discourage Thieves and Mesmers from approaching for an assassination, and the threat of a Revenant on the pursuit can leave them running away the entire game. However, as with any major update in any game, the most immediately powerful specs tend to be the “simple to play, high base damage” archetypes, which Dragonhunter and Revenant generally fit. As players learn methods of counterplay, we should start seeing some of the aforementioned professions/builds creeping back in. The most fitting embodiment of this pattern may be Chronomancer.

Chronomancer as a specialization adds almost no additional base damage to the Mesmer profession, and instead expands their skill ceiling. The complex nature of Continuum Shift/Split opens up a large realm of gameplay optimization. It is not unexpected that 1-2 weeks in, we have not seen Mesmers rushing out of the gates with the success that other professions have. Additionally, the new amulets (Sinister/Viper/etc.) may open up possibilities for hybrid physical/condition Mesmer builds that have not yet been fully explored.

Daredevil changes the identity of Thief by quite a bit, and for reasons similar to Mesmer, Thief players may still be slightly confused in terms of how to fully utilize the new specialization. Is the old Shadow Arts variant + Daredevil the way to go? Full power Daredevil, popping in and out for bursts of damage? Condition Daredevil? Because Thief and Mesmer generally lack the node holding stability that other professions possess, it may take a while for their place in the metagame to sort itself out.

Moving onto the specializations that shine in team support, Reaper, Tempest, and Druid are all viable options when it comes to choosing an anchor for your team. Druid excels in team healing, crowd control, and personal survivability, Tempest reliably spreads boons and auras, and Reaper’s base damage and sustain makes it the most threatening of the trio. All three specializations have a strong AoE presence and high base damages, allowing them to use defensive amulets such as Celestial and Soldier. While it has not been the popular trend, it is quite possible DPS Reaper/Tempest/Druid builds can be used to high efficacy.

The king of high base damage + defensive amulet combination has been Scrapper. Scrapper has taken over the role of D/D Elementalist as a jack of all trades and outer node holder. The Scrapper specialization line has made them extremely reliable in this regard compared to pre-Heart of Thorns, and large area reveal of Detection Pulse is likely to change stealth openings on certain maps. A Scrapper will always be a useful addition to any team composition.

Unfortunately, last and least is Berserker. Warrior as a whole seems to be outclassed by Revenant, and Berserker does not add much to change this fact. Revenant has more reliable damage, mobility, and survivability. That is not to say Warrior is “useless”. In fact, addressing many old meta builds, there is hardly a single one which is “useless”. Rather, it is more appropriate to say that the staples of the new meta are generally more effective and optimal. It is also worth noting that the meta can change with player skill. Perhaps given a few months, Chronomancer will be seen as a staple once mastered and Dragonhunter will be on its way out due to predictability.

In the end, the metagame is an object of impermanence, and as players continue to theorycraft and explore the possibilities of Heart of Thorns, it will surely evolve in unexpected directions. I encourage players with interesting ideas about builds and the meta to continue to explore them. Simply because I did not talk about certain builds in this article does not mean that they are unviable. My comments in this article only reflect the gathered perspectives of a few (and mainly me), so to anyone wanting to help me build my perspective, drop me a line on Twitter or in game. Good luck and have fun until next time!

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