PvE (Player versus Environment) is where most Guild Wars players will start their career. It is the perfect place to learn about the game and the concepts used in it, but it also has a rising difficulty curve: What starts out very easy will become demanding in the end. This guide is meant to help new players master this playing style of Guild Wars, mentioning important tactics and common mistakes. Some of those are similar in PvP, but mentioned here as well, because PvE is likely to come before PvP for most players.
In almost every PvE situation, you will play together with others - be they henchmen, heroes or other humans. It is important to consider the composition of the team before heading out to slay enemies. The "standard" balanced PvE team consists of:
4 PARTY MEMBERS
6 PARTY MEMBERS
8 PARTY MEMBERS
• The distinction between melee, midline and healers stems from the different roles these characters will play in the team, as shown in the tactics section.
• Despite using a melee weapon, assassins are classified as midline characters here, because their play style resembles a midline character much more than a warrior or dervish.
• The number of healers (monks or ritualist) is usually set. Too few, and you can't keep your team healthy. Too many and you lose efficiency in your damage output.
• There is some leeway in the number of melee (warriors and dervishes) and midline characters. Melee characters can be substituted by minion masters and pets. For example, for a party of 8 members, you could use 1 minion master, 2 healers, and 5 midlines with 1-3 pets.
• You might want to avoid melee henchmen, because those make pulling (see below) very hard.
Know your enemies
Like in most computer games, the difficulty in Guild Wars is raised by increasing the number and raw power of your foes - the enemies intelligence (AI) stays the same (hard mode is a notable difference). A large part of being successful in PvE stems from knowing the AI's limitations and to exploit these.
The AI only attacks you if you venture into its aggro bubble. Many groups fail because they aggro too many enemies at once, but this can almost always be prevented by knowing the path of mob patrols and clever pulling. Additionally, the AI will "break" aggro if you run away for long enough. That is, if a fight goes bad, the survivors can retreat and try to resurrect the team for a second chance. Players can make the AI focus on one target. Aggro control helps your healers greatly since they can concentrate their healing power on only one team mate, making it much easier to keep everyone alive. Finally, the AI is somewhat "stupid." It will stand inside the effect radius of strong spells (AoE damage) without running away, will kite into traps, will attack through hexes that punish attacking and cast through hexes that punish casting.
Finally, there are different kinds of enemies in different areas. You have the advantage of being able to check beforehand and prepare yourself for what is up ahead.
• Some creatures, like the Kournan Spotters, have an increased aggro range and will move to attack you (along with the rest of their group) from farther away.
Frontline, midline, backline
Main article: PvP Roles
The frontline usually consists of the melee fighters (plus pets and minions), the backline is formed by the healers, all other characters are midline. The names come from the distance towards the enemy: Melee characters need to be right next to the enemy, midline casters and long range weapon users can afford to stay back a bit more, while healers typically are at the most distant point from the enemies. This distance from the enemy is reflected in the ability of different classes to take damage. Melee characters can absorb a lot of it (via armor or damage prevention skills), while midline and backline classes die considerably faster when under fire. Therefore one of the most basic PvE tactics is to keep a rough order in the parties lines. Monks should not be the ones running into enemy groups first, warriors should not hide at the back of the party. Once the party gets more sophisticated, warriors should learn not to overextend, midline characters to keep enemies at maximum casting range and monks to have all party members in casting range. And of course to learn about the cases when there are exceptions to the rule (e.g. during pulling).
A basic rule of warfare is to concentrate fire. Having 4 enemies at 50% health means having 4 enemies fight back, having 2 enemies at 100% health and 2 at 0% health means half the damage coming your party's way. The method of choice in Guild Wars to achieve concentrated fire is to call targets. In PvE, it is almost always advisable to designate one single person as target caller, with the rest of the frontline and damage dealing midline characters following that persons calls.
Targets should be called depending on what hurts your party most. More often than not, these are the enemy monks, because they keep the rest of their mob from dying. Therefore the normal target calling sequence is: Monks => midline => melee. If possible, the position of target caller should be filled with an experienced player.
Monsters in PvE rarely have the ability to resurrect their fallen party members, so if you know or notice an enemy type with a possibility to revive other enemies, go for those first. Examples are Afflicted Ritualists and Awakened Acolytes.
Pulling is the act of deliberately getting aggro from a mob of enemies to make them move into a direction favorable to the party. This could mean away from other mobs, into pre-set traps or spirits, or towards a terrain more favorable to the party. Pulling can be done either by attacking the mob with a long range weapon (flatbows being the best choice) or by "touching" the mobs aggro bubble. Like target calling, pulling requires some experience about mobs behavior and should be done by an experienced party member. Since the mobs will attack the party member which pulled first, pulling is often done by tanks who proceed to tank after having pulled a group. Pulling is one of the cases where overextending can be advisable, since pullers usually want to avoid to "lose aggro" to other party members who might be too far up front.
Tanking means concentrating aggro on one player who is especially well equipped to absorb damage. This is usually done by warriors, due to their high level armor and defensive stances. It is a good way to prevent your backline from being overwhelmed in their healing job. However both the tank and the other party members need to work together to achieve good tanking. The tank needs to grab the aggro of as many enemies as possible, while the other party members should try not to take away aggro from the tank. Tanking combines well with pulling, but not as well with target calling, since the target calling benefits from being able to select the best possible target, while tanking requires the tank to be mainly stationary.
Kiting is the simplest, yet most effective method of damage prevention: Run away from the enemy (or its projectiles or casting range) and you won't get hurt. Despite sounding simple, it is not always easy. Good kiting requires a complete overview of the battlefield, so you can start running away before the enemy gets to you. This is especially true for monks, who often focus on their parties health bars, instead of concentrating on the battle field. While kiting, leading the mobs into other players (preferably the tank) or obstacles to help shake off the aggro. Of course the tank should not kite while tanking.
Reviving team mates
As a general rule, all PvE builds should contain a resurrection skill (res). If there is a reason for you not to field one, inform your teammates of that fact! Nothing is worse than being the last person alive, but not having a means to revive the team.
There are two general methods of reviving your fallen teammates: during battle and after battle. The former has the advantage of enabling them to fight again, potentially turning the battle around. The disadvantage is that during the act of resurrecting, not just one but two people are not contributing to the battle effort. Therefore, resurrection during battle should only be done with a Resurrection Signet or Sunspear Rebirth Signet. These are fast to use and resurrect the fallen teammate with full health, preventing them from dying again, straight away.
In contrast, the latter method is safer, both for the resurrected and resurrecting party. So if the battle turned bad, a retreat is often the best solution. After you have lost aggro, you can carefully go about resurrecting your team (without attracting aggro, again). For that purpose, the monk skill Rebirth is unbeaten. Only in very special cases should a PvE build contain a res other than signets or rebirth.
Note: To prevent two people from wasting time resurrecting the same fallen teammate, it is best to "call" your action (by pressing control while clicking on the skill).
While it may not seem valuable from a tactics standpoint at first glance, you can actually use terrain to your advantage. Pulling groups around corners with a tank holding a corner block or finding a bottleneck in the terrain can bunch groups tightly together and pin them out of range of the backline. You can also take advantage of obstructions with ranged attackers rendering nearly all paragon and ranger attacks as well as enemy caster wanding damage null. Additionally holding the high ground during a fight produces a slight tactical advantage at range for this same reason. Knowing the general layout of an area can provide you with better ways to flee should you need to as well as avoiding hidden pop-up groups.