It’s been bemoaned by many who venture into Orr or the Eternal Battlegrounds, but it can be a real pain to try and get enough damage into enemies before a zerg of friendly Tyrians kills them. Attacking once or twice seems to not do the trick, and forget applying conditions, that is all but useless. If you run in a zerg of players, but aren’t equipped properly, you run the risk of doing lots of work, and getting little credit. This is especially true for those of us who have the audacity to play a class that can’t wield a greatsword.
Let’s coin a term here: Relevant Contribution (RC). For a player to get credit for killing a creature or enemy player in WvW (and thus get xp, possible loot drops, and credit towards an event), they provide enough RC for the game to think they aren’t free loading. Sadly it seems, applying a bunch of conditions is not as effective since they tick too slowly. Likewise, healing and applying boons doesn’t add RC. So the trick is to apply straight up damage, but it’s deeper than that.
Below is a breakdown, by profession, of ways you can help improve your RC output (click a name to the right to jump directly to that profession). This will help maximize your time spent while zerging about dynamic events and WvW. I’ll pause here to say you don’t have to do this, and the game can be equally rewarding other ways, but I can’t deny the allure of those level 80 risen. They really do drop the shiniest of loot.
(Note: These guides do not discuss traits. At no point should you feel you have to spend gold and change your traits from your preferred build to maximize your RC output. All builds recommended are weapon and utility choices only for this reason)
I think this build will be pretty obvious, and sadly, unlike some of the other professions that can more easily switch between what we’ll call the “High RC” build and their main PvE build, the ele has to dedicate a bit to play the part.
The choice of weapon here is easy. You want to focus on multiple target damage that isn’t condition based. The high mobility and gap closers of this weapon combination helps you stay in the fight more often, and ensures you get to the fight before it’s over.
Spend most of your time in Fire, Although you may find starting a fight in Air (for Ride the Lightning) isn’t a bad bet. If RtL is on cooldown (or you are already in fire), Burning speed should be used anytime you need to close ground to a mob. It gets you in range and does AOE damage. Followed by either Fire Grab or Drake’s Breath for some conal AOE ensures you are hitting the whole mob group at once (A trick with spells like Drake’s Breath is make sure auto targeting is off, and then you can sweep the camera side to side and the spell will move with your view).
Stay on the edge of the mob groups, this way you can maximize the number of enemies in your conal attacks. Between conal attacks, your Fire attunement auto attack will suffice. If you want you can hop to earth and cast Earthquake, but that’s unnecessary.
The only utility skill I feel is a must have is Arcane Wave since it gives you one more AOE direct damage spell. Others like Signet of Air are nice, but the gap closers you already have should make it mostly redundant. Cleansing Fire can also be a nice pick up if you get sick of some of the enemy conditions, and it applies burning which can combo nicely with Fire Grab for extra damage. But I would use your utilities to flesh out how survivable you want to be. Large groups typically make worrying about death a mute point, but keeping some stun breaks handy may be worth your time.
In my opinion Engineers have this rough. They lack a lot of the gap closers some other classes have, but they can get high swiftness uptime to make up for it. That said, you still have plenty of options to improve your RC output and get those mob kills to count.
Weapon: It doesn’t matter:
Any of the Engineer’s main weapons really fail to do the job compared to some of the kits. If you forced me to choose, I would say Rifle, but that’s just because Jump Shot is a decent gap closer (and AOE damage) and Blunderbuss is passable. Both of those are too high of a cooldown to be useful in drawn out skirmishes however.
What you really need to do as an Engineer is pick what you like best: Flamethrower or Grenades. I lean towards Flamethrower since Flame Jet is just amazing. Napalm will let you toss some damage at one mob group while you attack the one in front of you, spreading your damage output to multiple locations.
Flame Blast is good for the same reason Napalm is, you can fire it at enemies that are not directly by you to get some RC while you focus on another group. I tend to use this off cooldown since it has a pretty low cast time and puts out good damage in a fairly large radius.
I wish it were more complex than that, but it really isn’t. Flame Jet everything, use Napalm and Flame Blast as you see fit.
If you choose to run Grenade Kit you can get by. The vanilla Grenade attack is typically fine, but some of the other attacks actually have larger radius, so in cases where the enemies are a little less tightly packed, they tend to be better. It's not a complicated kit to play, and provides a nice mental break to torching everything down with Flamethrower.
As for other utilities besides kits, Elixir B is a must have. Low cooldown, swiftness, and retaliation all come together for a great little package. If the fighting will be in one location for a long period of time (Defend events), Rocket or Rifle Turret isn’t bad either. But if you are on some sort of escort mission, leave the turrets behind.
I’m tempted to say Guardians don’t need a guide, but I won’t be that rude. Truthfully though you’ll have some of the best gap closers and AOE damage output in the game. So have fun crushing mobs and being a hero.
Weapons: Greatsword; Sword/Torch
(Addendum: It's been suggest to me that Staff is king here. The conal AOE auto attack is very good, I can't disagree. I tend to favor the mobility offered by the two sword options, but it seems I'm the minority. So if these don't work in your play style, try Staff as another option)
These choices are pretty obvious in my opinion. Greatsword has two skills that make it simply invaluable to your mission here: Leap of Faith and Whirling Wrath. Leap of Faith is your go to initiator. Anytime you are closing ground to an enemy and you can Leap, do it. Once there Start a Whirling Wrath and watch the number roll.
If you need to close ground to another enemy group, swap to your offhand set, Flashing Blade to close the ground and then Cleansing Flame for a great channeled, conal AOE. Make sure you are standing on the edge of the enemy pack before setting this one off for maximum RC. Between your big skills, Try to stay in Greatsword since the cleave effect on the auto attack is second to none. You’ll rack up damage (and RC) on 3-4 mobs per swing if you line yourself up correctly. Make sure you target enemies in the center of groups though, as it will help the attack arc hit the most mobs.
For utilities Judge’s Intervention is a must have. It’s one more gap closer and it breaks stuns which will help you recover from knockdown effects faster. If you can, save this until you are disabled, but if you are in need of a quick teleport, use it at your discretion. Speaking of knockdowns, Stand your Ground is another good choice. The stability helps keep your on your feet and the retaliation is a nice little damage source if used correctly.
I also take Purging Flames. I know I said not condition damage, but the large radius and condition removal trumps that in my opinion. If you want to be very clever, after using Leap of Faith, use Purging Flames before you use Whirling Wrath. The combo field will increase the effectiveness by adding extra fire bolts to your already potent effect.
As much as I love my staff for solo PvE, I have to admit it really sucks at getting enough RC for kill credits. That said, Mesmers have some of the best tools for spreading damage around quickly, and that more than provides enough tools to get those kill credits flowing your direction.
Weapons: Sword/(Pistol or Sword); Greatsword:
Your primary weapon here is without a doubt the Sword. The cleave effect is the only reliable way as a Mesmer to hit multiple enemies at once with direct damage. So spend most of your time between other skills simply auto attacking with your sword out. You might not have great raw damage numbers, but so long as you are hitting 2+ enemies per swing it will be worth your time.
As for openers, you can use Illusionary Leap’s chain skill to get in close quickly, but it’s got a longish cooldown that makes it just alright. I typically take Blink as one of my utility skills since it gives me one more tool to quickly close ground to enemy groups. Blurred Frenzy is a good follow up since it does great damage quickly. But the root effect can prove suboptimal, so use it cautiously.
For offhand weapons it’s really a toss up. Phantasmal Swordsman is probably better than Duelist, but Magic Bullet is much better than Illusionary Riposte. So use whatever feels right for you.
If you get sick of Sword or all of your good effects are on cool down (they shouldn’t be), Greatsword is probably your best fallback weapon (though 90% of my time is spent in Sword). Mirror Blade and Mind Stab can do nice multi-target damage, but are a bit hard to land. And Illusionary Wave is okay, but I shy away from knockback effects since they cause enemies to spread out (and we want them grouped up for maximum RC output from sword).
For utilities, I mentioned Blink above already. But really the trick here is to get clones out quickly and shatter frequently. Your shatter skills are simply invaluable to getting RC on targets you aren’t currently attacking with your weapons. What I do is bring Decoy and Mirror Images since they both instant cast and low cooldown. Anytime they are off said cooldown, target an enemy further away from your, cast your clone summoning skills, and instantly Mind Wrack (if that’s on cooldown, use Cry of Frustration). The mini kamikaze clones will run off to do some nice AOE damage for you while you continue to Blurred Frenzy at the group in front of you.
And a quick note, I know Moa is fun, but for PvE (of any flavor), you can’t top Time Warp.
Necromancer has it about as rough as the Engineer. It seems they were designed to do a lot of their damage over time, which in a zerg isn’t something you have a lot of before the mobs die. That said, you aren’t without some tools you can utilize to keep pace in a group.
Weapons: Axe/Dagger; Axe/Warhorn
Axe is really the only mainhand choice we can make. As a necro you won’t have anything that cleaves, so you’ll have to rely on quick target switching to spread your damage around. That said, remember, you don’t have to kill an enemy to get kill credit for it, so once you feel you’ve done enough RC to an enemy, swap targets to something else.
The auto attack on Axe is plenty for regular damage, but Unholy Feast needs to be used off cooldown (so long as you are near 2+ enemies). Dagger gives us two decent skills. Deathly Swarm bounces (albeit slowly), and Enfeebling Blood has a decent radius. Both are probably best used away from the group in front of you, which lets you spread out your damage to more mobs.
The only reason I take Warhorn is for Locust Swarm, which you can pop right before the group of enemies near you is about to die. Use it to quickly move over to the next group and resume attacking with Axe skills. Also, don’t forget death shroud. I typically only use it for Dark Pact and Life Transfer, but that gap closer can be invaluable at getting you to another enemy group in time to get your RC in. And Life Transfer allows good damage to tick around you.
As for utilities you can focus on minions, which provide decent damage (and it can be spread around a bit). I think there are better options however. Signet of the Locust is great for the swiftness and the small AOE active effect. Be careful not to use it right before you need to travel to a new enemy group however, you’ll miss the swiftness if you do. Well of Suffering is decent as well, but the cooldown can be off putting. Cast this on a group away from you and focus your weapon attacks on closer foes.
Rangers have some great tools for RC output since out of all the professions they are blessed with some of the best long distance damage options. I guess that’s suiting considering their name. In addition having a pet lets you split your attention and divide your RC output quickly and easily.
Weapons: Axe/Axe; Greatsword
You can use shortbow here if you really want, but I tend to find the conal attacks on Axe superior, even given to reduced range. Ricochotte and Splitblade are both fantastic skills since they hit multiple targets and do decent damage. Path of Scars can be good but is hard to set up correctly. Whirling Defense is the real standout here however. In the middle of large groups not only do you get defense you get get 360 degree damage.
Greatsword is your typical opener however, with Swoop being such a long range gap closer. Other than that, your Greatsword auto attacks hit for a wide arc, so use that once Whirling Defense is on cooldown and you’re in the middle of the scrum. If you are moving between groups and Swoop is on cooldown, remember Axe’s attacks have range, so use that while running up to the group before swapping to greatsword for the auto attack.
As for utilities none really stand out to me. Traps can be okay, but since (untraited) they are only cast at your feet and have an ugly cast time they really are less effective than just auto attacking. Lightning Reflexes is a good options however, the stun break and AOE damage can be very useful when you want to break from one group of mobs and head to the next. Try and line up the leap backwards so it moves you the direction of your next target though. Signet of the Hunt is another decent choice, since the movement buff is always welcome, especially since you are lacking gap closers.
And let’s not forget pets. It’s mostly a minor choice, but I tend to use Spiders (ranged attackers have less DPS downtime than melee pets) or Dogs since their leap keeps them in the fray longer. Some of the other options to consider are The Drakes since some of their on demand attacks are conal AOE, which can result in very high RC. The drawback is all pet attacks are hard to aim for maximum gain, so your mileage there may vary.
The ever mobile Thief may not have the raw AOE damage of some other classes, but can use a bevy of other options to get into the fights before other players have had a chance to down enemies. This lets you get in your RC on one group of enemies, and then quickly move to the next, leaving others to clean up the trash behind you.
Weapons: Sword/Dagger; Shortbow
I’ll start with Shortbow since it’s the easiest to explain. Cluster Bomb is great to use to start fights, or on groups of mobs that are away from you. Trick Shot is decent since it will bounce between many foes as well. The real joy here is Infiltrators Arrow which can get you between enemy groups quickly and effectively (and even let you jump back and forth if the need arises (especially useful during defense events).
Your primary weapon set will be Sword and Dagger. I’m tempted to recommend Dagger main hand as well, since Death Blossom is very very (very) effective, but I find Infiltrator’s Strike far too useful to pass up. The cleave on the sword auto attack should make up for the loss of Death Blossom, and it doesn’t use up your initiative near as quickly (which is important if you want to use your gap closing skills to hop between enemy groups).
Off-hand dagger is simply for Dancing Dagger since it’s a nice multi target skill you can use as you approach a fight. I wouldn’t use Cloak and Dagger save for emergencies. I’ll also mention Steal here, but only briefly since you’ll chiefly be using it as a gap closer. But playing a PvE Thief you should be used to that.
Utility options are a bit limited here. I will say that if you go Dagger main hand, you should take Shadowstep to make up for the loss of Infiltrator’s Strike. Infiltrator’s Signet should probably be taken as well. The stun break and on demand shadowstep are very useful regardless of main hand. Other than that, Signet of Shadows is decent, but you should have enough Gap closing with your weapon skills that the speed boost would be largely wasted. Haste would be alright apart from it’s high cooldown limiting its usefulness. Lastly Caltrops can be used at the start of a fight to apply a nice AOE DoT before you jump to your next target.
Probably the top one or two classes for this job, as any honest Warrior would Attest. Tons of gap closers, and high damage melee attacks allows Warriors to churn out RC.
Weapons: Greatsword; (Sword or Axe)/Axe
Greatsword is so, darn, good. Your two gap closers in Whirlwind Attack and Rush both have low cooldowns, and one even does what is essentially conal AOE damage while your charge in. Use both to stay in fights longer. Bladetrail is okay if for whatever reason you find yourself without a gap closer off cooldown as you approach a group. Make sure you target the enemy furthest from you (but still in range) to maximize its effect.
Anytime you aren’t whirling or rushing, the auto attack is perfectly fine. Be wary of skills that root you in place, as you typically want to be more mobile. Once you get enough RC in for kill credit on one mob group, move to the next.
As for your second weapon set. You have a choice. Axe main hand gets you Cyclone Axe which is a great short duration AOE. And the burst skill on Axe is a small range gap closer (which is very useful). Sword main hand lets you use Savage Leap which is a better gap closer than Eviscerate. Your call really what you prefer there. Off hand Axe is an easy choice (though if you really want swiftness you could go Warhorn). Whirling Axe is a great skill that lets you travel while you AOE, racking up damage and RC across larger mob groupings.
Your weapons will do 95% of the work for you here, but Bull’s Charge is a nice pickup at the utility level. Especially if you go Axe main hand for your second weapon pairing. If you find yourself disabled a lot, “Shake It Off!” is a great option to stay get back in the fight, or you could just prevent the knockdown with Balanced Stance. Frenzy is alright, but like some of the other haste options seen in other professions, the high cooldown makes it of marginal use.
I would stick with Signet of Rage for your elite. Especially with Axe main hand since it will let you Eviscerate more often (and to greater effect). If you want you can play with Rampage which has a nice gap closer and good damage (but really, Greatsword is way better than the elite).