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Dungeon Survival Guide

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August 31, 2012 - 11:00am -- Sardu
GW2 Dungeon Survival Guide

Dungeons represent some of the most challenging content available in Guild Wars 2. And while story mode tends to be much easier than the various explorable modes, you still won't want to enter the dungeons unprepared. To help make your first runs go smoothly, we've compiled a collection of tips and important things to be aware of. 

Kill order and Target Calling

Most groups of enemies you’ll encounter in the dungeons will have a preferred kill order based on things like how much damage they can cause to your group, crowd control abilities, or whether they support their allies in some way. A good example here would be the Monks in Ascalonian Catacombs which should be considered high priority targets, followed by any Elementalists and Mesmers.

Some of this will boil down to a bit of trial and error to figure out which mobs should be taken down first, but some of the general MMO rules about defeating casters first do tend to apply here.

When it comes to prioritizing targets, before you even begin a dungeon run you’ll want to assign or decide who should call targets for your party. To call a target, once you have them personally targeted, press [Ctrl] + [T] and this will visibly flag that mob for your party members. From there, your teammates can press [T] to automatically assist on the same target.

This not only makes it easier for all party members to know the exact kill order you’re aiming for, but by focusing fire on individual mobs most encounters will go much smoother.

Catacombs 1

Proceed with Caution

Dungeons in Guild Wars 2 have lots of traps and ways of triggering mob spawns. While it’s never a good idea to rush headlong into the unknown, that’s doubly true in GW2. The first story mode dungeon, Ascalonian Catacombs, has numerous examples of why that’s the case.

In certain areas there are multiple flame or spike traps that can almost instantly defeat you if you’re not careful. It’s a good idea to scan the area prior to entering as you proceed to see if there are any objects that can be interacted with, or destroyed. In the case of the AC traps, most will have a mechanism to disable them, but you can also destroy them with ranged attacks if you’re careful about positioning.

An easy way to spot interactive objects is to make liberal use of hitting your left Ctrl and Alt keys. Holding down Ctrol will make the nameplates for targetable objects appear, as well as the nameplates of any enemies in the vicinity.

Speaking of enemies, you’ll also want to be careful that you don’t accidentally spawn too many mobs for your group to handle at once. Using Catacombs as our example again, be sure to watch for blue mist rising from the ground. Each patch can spawn veteran ghosts and if you’re not careful in some areas you may spawn multiple mobs at once. If you do end up in that situation, however, don’t panic. If need be you can always attempt to break the encounter and head back once the mobs have reset, then proceed to pull them normally.

Catacombs 2

Dodge Often

Most bosses in the dungeons will have one or more major attacks that you’ll want to avoid at all costs. For example, some bosses use an attack that pulls players towards them, and while knocked down you’ll suffer from a pretty major AoE damage spike.

Watching for these larger attacks can be critical to your survival, and a well-timed dodge may mean the difference between taking a dirt nap, and collecting some shiny loot from chests. While much of the explorable PvE content may not necessitate actively dodging regularly during combat, it’s a skill you’ll really want to sharpen before stepping into the dungeons.

Catacombs 3

Use Line of Sight to Your Advantage

Along with actively dodging to avoid larger attacks, before you even begin any boss encounters take note of your surroundings. Many spaces will have multiple ways for you to break line of sight (LoS) which can be just as effective as knowing when to dodge to avoid larger attacks. While not all professions and roles will be able to hang back out of melee range to take advantage of breaking LoS, those that can should consider doing so as much as possible.

Catacombs 5

Don’t Neglect Your Underwater Build

While you won’t necessarily encounter underwater areas in every dungeon, certain dungeons will contain one or more paths that may require you to bust out your aquatic gear and go for a swim. If you haven’t done a lot of underwater content in the explorable maps, it can be easy to forget to keep your aquatic build up to snuff, and realizing you’ve neglected it in the middle of a dungeon isn’t exactly optimal.

Catacombs 6

Factor Team Support into Your Build

By the time you can enter the first dungeon – Ascalonian Catacombs – at level 30, all professions will have enough trait and skill points to factor in different forms of team support into your overall build. For dungeons, area heals or even condition removal via combo fields can be a huge help, but you’ll also want to find ways of making revives much easier.

Before entering a dungeon, take a few minutes to review your current build and swap out any utility skills that offer solid group support, adjust your major traits, and think about which weapon sets will function best in a group setting. As a general rule, even for more melee focused professions it can still be a good idea to consider bringing a mid- or long-range weapon set which can keep you a lot more mobile during more difficult encounters.

Catacombs 6

Monitor Boons and Conditions, and React Accordingly

At the start of any given boss fight, the first thing you’ll want to take note of are any specific boons they might have active. For example, many will have a stacking boon that negates the effectiveness of any crowd control skills used against them, but those stacks can be reduced by applying things like cripples and chills. If you don’t negate the boon early in the fight, it can continue stacking making the encounter much more difficult than it needs to be.

Another thing to watch out for is Retaliation. Whenever you see it active, be sure to stop attacking until it’s removed, or the duration expires. If you continue attacking while it’s active, you’ll effectively be doing part of the mob’s work for them by burning through your own health. While not all bosses will use Retaliation, it can be a good idea to bring along a profession that can remove boons - such as a necromancer - either way.


MokiCzech's picture
Submitted by MokiCzech on

I heard that loots from dungeons are pretty sucky. Is that true? I was not in one yet, but it kinda turned me off.

I'm a master baiter!

tarian's picture
Submitted by tarian on

The loot isn't anything different from what you'd find outside of a dungeon, although you can find it faster by being inside a dungeon.  Sometimes the loot you get isn't an upgrade for you, but can be for someone in your party, so if there isn't something you can use, link it in chat and see if anyone else would like it.  So far I've been doing dungeons exclusively with guildmates and many of them have gotten huge upgrades on things that I would have otherwise salvaged because they were useless to me.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

Shante's picture
Submitted by Shante on

Actually you can get pretty awesome armor skins, which you can apply on your gear via transmutating stones.

If you don´t smoke weed, 

I don´t know why,

'cause everything better when you 'r high.

tarian's picture
Submitted by tarian on

You can get some interesting armor skins as well, although they aren't exclusive to the dungeons, you can actually pick them up through spvp as well, and then use transmutation stones.

Citadel of Flame light armor is something I want on my necro ^.^  For both my pve and spvp sets.


edit:  Just to clarify you get them through tournament play and the little care packages you get when you increase your glory rank.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

farmer100eagle's picture
Submitted by farmer100eagle on

When I tried to kill the enemies for the first time, nothing occurred to me as "kill order", and the next thing you know, ugly death. So if you want to have a try on this, you might want to listen to what this guide says about the kill order!