Guild Wars: Nightfall PvP Weekend, part 2

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Games, Guild Wars

So Sunday night I spent a few hours to check out the Nightfall PvP event. Unfortunately I was quite busy over the weekend and really didn’t have a chance to play it before then. Naturally I began by playing my new Dervish character.

One of the first things I noticed is that my character was spit out onto the Battle Isles — The Battle Isles are a Canthan-themed area that was released to coincide with the PvP Weekend for Guild Wars: Factions. The Battle Isles altogether are formed up of several “arenas.” These aren’t complicated areas, they are usually set overlooking some scenic setpiece but they are fundamentally just gathering places for players to group together for PvP combat. It’s a disappointment to me that a similar area wasn’t introduced for the new expansion.

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At the battle isles.

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My Dervish in the Zaishen Elite pre-arena area.

I tried out some of the new emote character animations for the Dervish class. Apparently, ArenaNet decided to skimp even more than I had anticipated. Guild Wars is known for having clever dances for each class, but the Dervish has no dance animation whatsoever. The other animations (such as /excited, /wave, and so on) seemed to be the same as that of the Mesmer class.

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Posing with waterfalls in the Zaishen Elite area.

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Dervish dresses behave in in strange ways when the character sits down.

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The Ritualist has far more inspired visual design than the vanilla-seeming Dervish.

I set out for the Zaishen Elite, a competitive arena where a team of four players is pitted against six computer opponents using specialized builds. After a few rounds here I felt I’d gotten the hang of my Dervish character. Their huge scythe is slow on the attack but hits enemies in an area of effect. This can be quite effective at taking down mobbed enemies. The Dervish also has a variety of “enchantment” spells, with a unique twist. Most of these enchantments are actually more like “spells” — Typically an enchantment will last either a very short duration (under 10 seconds) or will reduce the mana regeneration of the caster until the enchantment is dismissed. The Dervish has several enchantments that have extremely long durations with no upkeep cost.

I was initially playing with the Dervish/Mesmer build that comes preset out of the character generator. I found my Dervish to be quite effective: I would start off a round by using an enchantment that restores 100 or so hitpoints after I have been reduced to below 50% of my maximum health (510). Once the combat begins I would use the Avatar of Melandru to gain 200 health and become immune to all conditions. At this point I would wade into melee combat and use two “enchantments” that the class comes equipped with, one of these creating a damaging nova of ice around my character, the other creating a damaging nova of fire around her. In total these two spells would do roughly 120 damage, which is quite significant for only a half second’s worth of effort. Once I was finished with those spells, I would use some of the scythe attack skills, which typically increase the power of your scythe depending on how many enchantments are on your character. On a good strike my character could do over 70 damage to all nearby enemies.

Over time I decided to mix up the Dervish build somewhat. I noticed that my two area-of-effect spells did over 120 damage in short succession. So I decreased my Scythe skills and increased my character’s Wind Spell power. Dropping my character’s Scythe Master to 1 and increasing Wind Spells to 12 allowed me to do 172 damage in total with both spells — Extremely powerful considering these spells cast very quickly, hit an area, and recharge within seconds. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to think this was a good path to explore. I met up with another group of Dervishes and together we managed to easily wipe out most enemy groups in our way. 172 damage from four characters is enough to take out any character that doesn’t have some specific counter ability.

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Posing with my deadly group of Dervish characters. The alternate form is the Avatar of Dwayna.

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An action shot taken roughly half a second before we destroyed the enemy team.

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More posing, this time with the Avatar of Melandru and the Avatar of Dwayna on display.

I didn’t stop there, of course. As I suspected, the Dervish has an “Avatar of” ability for every god in the Guild Wars universe: Balthazor, Grenth, Dwayna, Melandru, and Lyssa. The Lyssa avatar gives the Dervish an additional 10 mana, which isn’t a lot but it is enough for another casting of one of the class’ area of effect damaging spells. I equipped the Avatar of Lyssa and two more area of effect damaging spells. At 88+88+64+64, or 300 damage from my character alone, any enemy team would be crippled after being hit with that. A group with 2 Dervishes, a Monk, and a fourth character that kept changing (at first it was a Warrior, but then it became a Necromancer when the first left the game when he died and got impatient), we managed to rack up a 10 game winning spree.

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The Avatar of Lyssa. Kind of disappointing really, as it’s not that powerful and rather ugly to boot.

Eventually I decided to stop playing around with the Dervish and moved to my Mesmer character. After some time I managed to find an excellent group with a skilled Monk, Warrior, and a Necromancer. We fought a number of really tough battles, from which I drew some observations.

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An oriental-themed arena that undoubtedly was released with Factions. However, I haven’t PvPed since Factions was released so it’s new to me.

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What looks to be an Elonian-themed PvP arena. I could be wrong about this and this is just yet another Factions visual theme.

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Another potentially Elonian-themed PvP arena. This one has a sort of rustic Savannah feel. It’s interesting and one potential area that so far hasn’t been well explored in Guild Wars.

One is that if you are a Guild Wars: Prophecies-only character and you use a skill such as Inspired Enchantment (it steals an enchantment from an opponent and gives it to you), you are crippled. I was using Inspired Enchantment a lot as a way to manage my mana, but half of the enchants that I stole were unuseable to me. Apparently, if I steal a skill from Factions or Nightfall I am not allowed to use it if I only own Prophecies. Unbelievable.

Two is that Rangers or Warriors equipped with the new Paragon weapon, the Javelin, are extremely powerful. As a Mesmer your goal is to cast spells from a distance without allowing Warriors to close in on you while avoiding bow-using Rangers. The Javelin allows Warriors to attack easily from a distance, while the Ranger equipped with the Javelin has a rapid attack that is quite debilitating to enemy casters. It seems of questionable balance to me – I saw a shocking number of Rangers and Warriors exploiting this build, almost as many Rangers and Warriors using Javelins as I saw Dervishes.

Another obervation came when I saw one enemy Dervish who kept showing up on the other team — He was using the Avatar of Dwayna and Protection Prayers to sustain his health. He was essentially unkillable and the only way we managed to defeat him was by destroying his entire team first and then directing our attention back to the Dervish. When four well-built players can barely take out a single enemy opponent you know something is wrong. Luckily this guy kept appearing with weaker teams, it would have been hell if he had shown up with a Spike Dervish (the build I came up with) or the like. Either way, I noticed a distinct anti-Dervish sentiment among the population of the Battle Isles, culminating in a lynch riot for any Dervish that showed up.

I guess it’s a good thing that ArenaNet runs these PvP Beta-Test events.

2 Responses

  1. Afternoon Delite

    I recently bought Nightfall and have created a dervish of my own. I find your “spike build” very interesting as it allows you to do loads of damage in a short amount of time. However, I wouldn’t consider using this build because the elemental damage your weapon gets after using Heart of Holy Flame or Grenth’s Fingers significantly increases your damage and can be used to inflict even more damage with your scythe than the actual enchantments.

  2. Keep in mind that this post was written during the Nightfall PvP preview event in July, and the skills were in many cases significantly different than they may be now. I don’t know if the Dervish spike I detail here would be viable any longer, but at the time it was devastating.

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