Ranger, party of five!

In Guild Wars 2, there are some pretty common opinions on which professions are stronger than others. Some are simply better at certain roles, or are more versatile. This leads to an amount of build/profession discrimination – if you are trying to get in a group for a dungeon and are not the requisite profession, forget it!

My experiences, however, say that requirements like this are a load of bunk. There are certain combinations that may be extremely efficient…but that doesn’t make them the most fun. And sometimes the extreme efficiency makes them less than ideal!

I currently have five characters at level 80. In order of dinging 80, they are a Mesmer, Guardian, Thief, Elementalist, and Ranger. My Ranger is my newest level 80, having only reached that this past weekend – leveling her was part of my quest for a legendary weapon. Each one is traited for different roles. My Mesmer is the classic glass cannon, wielding a greatsword and a sword and focus, able to land a critical hit for up to 10,000 damage. My Guardian is pure support – she’s capable of doing damage, but her bigger role is the fact that she’s a very strong healer (I use staff and mace/focus), and even more than a healer, she’s a boon machine. Everything gives a boon, they last forever, and they’re very strong. My Thief is very squishy at melee range…which is why she’s a ranged crit, condition, and stealth machine, only going in close to fire off Dagger Storm. My Ele is something of a jack-of-all-trades, a staff-wielder that mostly plays with (and is specced into) fire and water, though air and earth certainly have their uses. And my Ranger mostly stays at range, throwing down traps and hitting hard with her longbow, but gets in close with her sword and dagger as well.

They all have very different playstyles, and I really enjoy all of them. Ranger is probably the weakest profession of the lot, but that’s mainly due to the limitations of pets, and I’m getting used to dealing with that. Using ranged pets, keeping them on passive, and manually calling them on targets and bringing them back soon as they start taking heavy damage is good for keeping them alive, and they do do very good damage.

There are times, though, where I don’t want to play a specific character somewhere. When we do Twilight Arbor, for example, a Thief is basically considered a necessity. We do not have many fully-leveled Thieves in our group. Recently I did not want to play my Thief in there, though – I wanted to use my Ranger as I was leveling her. So we did the dungeon without a Thief. It was very doable. It wasn’t even really anymore difficult than doing it without one – you just had to be a bit more careful.

Citadel of Flames is a dungeon where it is possible to speedrun the first path, getting times as low as 6-7 minutes. The ideal team setup for this generally consists of warriors, guardians, and at least one mesmer. However, I’d make the argument that such hard efficiency is actually detrimental. In speedruns, you don’t kill stuff – you run past everything. Almost everything you do kill (the acolytes, the guards in the brazier room) are infinite spawns and do not give loot or experience. The real loot from a CoF speedrun is the money for defeating the bosses, the chests…and the tokens – 60 the first time you complete a path in a day, 20 after that. The tokens can be redeemed for rare armor that has the potential to give globs of ectoplasm when salvaged, and pretty much everyone needs ecto for something!

However, complete it too quickly and you’ll hit diminishing returns, which will bring down the amount of money and tokens you’ll receive. Those 6 minute speedruns can be nice…but you’ll hit DR almost immediately. And here’s where mixing up the team makeup winds up working better than a hardcore speedrun team. Take a bit longer on it, and you’ll wind up with more loot and money overall.

We recently decided to take a party of five Rangers, then, through CoF path one. It went quite well – about the same as our normal runs with a varied group. Speed was about the same, minus a hiccup in the middle where none of us could get the boulder pattern right, since we had no Mesmer…but we still got beyond it quickly. Taking down the end boss was cake. It was a great run, all told, and it took long enough where an immediate second run would not have triggered DR for us.

This is what this game is about, and should be. It really is possible for any profession to try it’s hand at something, and succeed. Some may do it better, but all can do it, and sometimes it’s very surprising what the results can be.