You’ll be hearing the phrase “bunker” a great deal at the moment, especially if you partake in structured or tournament PvP. For those unaware, a bunker is a player whose sole purpose is to hold a control point. They do this by specialising heavily into traits, skills and attributes that allow them to survive for long periods of time under heavy fire. Although they can still deal damage, their sole purpose is to stall the opposing team and prevent the capture point being taken. Unfortunately, bunker builds have become so fundamental in tournament PvP that it is now common place to see two bunker players in a single team, which has huge consequences for the flow of the game and for the opposing team, who may have chosen not to follow suit.
Bunker builds are so rife at the moment that anyone not bringing one or two bunker builds will most likely lose. Strangling build diversity in this way is never a good thing. While bunker builds aren’t the only problem with structured and tournament PvP (portals and changing professions mid match are also having a negative impact) I would see them as the priority, unfortunately, I don’t believe there is an easy solution to the problem. On one hand you want to encourage build diversity and freedom (which should include going being very defensive) on the other, I don’t believe builds should exist where an individual can survive an entire team attacking them.
There are many arguments in defence of bunker builds and you’ll commonly encounter “L2P bro” littering the forums. In many respects this is true, there are various tactics which can be adopted to attempt to combat a bunker guardian or elementalist, the sad fact is, none of these are sustainable and are easily ignored by most experienced bunker players. Part of the problem is the guardian (the lead bunker) which is, by design, a complete failure. In a game where removing the holy trinity is a cornerstone, it boggles the mind as to why ArenaNet repackaged the monk in this way, providing the guardian with all the tools necessary to make it fundamental to a group with its over abundance of support skills.
The second part of the problem is the lack of Boon stripping. In other MMOG’s where “Healers” were the backbone of all teams, these were regularly countered by skills designed to halve their healing capabilities (mortal strike et al). As all professions in Guild Wars 2 can heal, it’s sensible that poison is readily available to mitigate the power of healing. Unfortunately, what ArenaNet have failed to do is extend this counter balance of power to boon removal. There are only a handful of methods to remove boons in Guild Wars 2, with the Necromancer the outright winner, followed by the mesmer and thief (through traits only). The only other option is Sigil of Nulification which only has a chance to remove boons on crit with a long cool down.
You could argue “Bring a Necromancer and Mesmer, then!” which is certainly what most tournament teams do, but the question remains; “why should I?” Why should any tournament team be forced to bring a certain profession because ArenaNet have failed to spread counter abilities evenly, across all professions?
Rebalancing skills to counter bunker builds is likely the best course of action in addressing the meta game. The simplest solution to this would be to give more professions the ability to remove or convert boons on opposing players (similarly in scale to a mesmer or thiefs traits) at least then we would have a viable option of reducing bunker build potency. As it currently stands however, unless you have a necromancer (mesmers and thiefs are negligible due to their inability to quickly repeat boon removal) you will struggle to dislodge or kill a bunker. This has to change.
Below I've set out some of the typical responses from players when defending the indefensible.
"Just knock them off the point!"
Many bunker guardians have stability, while being knocked off the point only provides temporary relief. A skilled guardian will also likely avoid the original knockback and/or simply run back onto the point, a period of time too short for you to flip it.
"Just remove their boons!"
Only one profession has a vast array of skills to remove or convert boons (necromancer). The mesmers sword auto attack will remove one at a time, however, this is negligible as the boons can be reapplied instantly. The thief can also remove two boons with Bountiful Theft trait, but this again has no lasting effect and brings very temporary relief.
"Use all your team against them!
This can sometimes work however against high level tournament teams you will be punished instantly. While your entire team is focused on uprooting the bunker, the two other points will be captured. This provides the opposing team with three points while you waste consideral time. Even if you do succeed in uprooting the bunker, you will only capture one point with the bunker player then respawning and making a new home elsewhere.
"Stack conditions on them!
There is some truth in this as conditions cut through armour and damage the bunker directly. Like most tactics however this is incredibly short lived based on a bunkers ability to strip conditions (especially in the guardians circumstance) which removes all incoming damage. Using multiple condition players also isn't effective as these will stack, meaning they too will be removed all at once.
"Just take a Mesmer, Thief or Necromancer!"
Tournament teams and the creative freedom in forming and building them shouldn't be profession defined. NO team should have to take X, Y or Z profession just to compete. This segregates, limits build diversity and makes for dull play experiences in a game attempting to become an E-Sport.
"Interrupt their heal!"
Without wishing to sound repetitions, a good guardian won't ever be interrupted while healing as they'll utilise existing boons to ensure it goes off, or will cause enough of a knockback/distance through effective dodging that they can guarantee a heal. I'd also add that too few professions have the ability to daze reliably.