Weapons. Whether you want a chunk of steel, a plank of wood, or a machine that shoots fire, weapons are what you will need to use to use to crush your enemies under your boots. Sounds simple enough right? Pick up that shiny new greatsword and just charge into the fray! Hold it there friend because doing so may result in your untimely demise.
Instead, as Sun Tzu says, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Before charging into battle a warrior should consider the weapons that he or she has available, and the tactics to use them, so that victory can be assured! So what weapons does a warrior have at his disposal? Lots; today, we’re going to examine the ranged options we have available, what they do, and how best to make use of them to grind the enemy to dust.
Let’s start by looking at the noisier of the two, the RIFLE. With this weapon we have some interesting tools at our disposal. Here are the current rifle skills:
Bleeding Shot: our “auto attack” skill is a no muss, no fuss, ability that does what every bullet should do – cause your target to bleed. Conditions play a massive role in the game and help add to our damage output. With Bleeding Shot each time it goes off the target gains a stack of bleeding for 6 seconds. Not bad for our basic ability! BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Not only will this add a condition, but it also functions as a combo finisher so if there are any combo fields to take advantage of you’re going to see that lovely combo pop up with the damage.
Aimed Shot: So there you are, sitting out of range of the enemy, and you just know that as soon as you pull the trigger you’re going to be charged. What do you do? You pull out Aimed Shot is what you do! This attack makes for a strong opener (more on that in a minute) and a means of keeping the target at bay. After all, if they can’t catch you, they can’t kill you. Currently it’s a 5 second cripple which is plenty to make sure you stay at range and continue to rain death with your trusty Red Rider.
Volley: This shot bears a lot of similarities to the Thief skill Unload, except that instead of a tiny pistol, we’re using our massive blunderbuss. Currently this does five shots in rapid succession and like many of the skills in Guild Wars 2 you can keep moving while this is going off. This is an ability that you will want to mash every time it’s off cool down as it does some nice, delicious, damage.
Brutal Shot: This right here is going to be a bread and butter skill that we as warriors must learn to love. I mentioned above that opening with Aimed Shot could be a viable strategy, but what I found to be a better tactic was to open with Brutal Shot because it’s applies…wait for it…Vulnerability. Vulnerability is a great condition to apply because it lowers the targets armor for every stack on the target, and this shot adds five stacks! Opening with this insures that you are going to be doing even more DPS with all of your shots. Using Volley right after Brutal Shot is a great way of getting bigger hits with Volley and it’s quiet satisfying to see those numbers fly!
Rifle Butt: As much as you try to kite the enemy and keep them at bay, there are times that it just won’t happen. Eventually, that enemy is going to reach you and start munching your face. When that happens you have a couple options: switch over to your melee set (assuming you have one) or hit them in the face with the butt of your rifle. Pushing the enemy away has a couple of effects; first, it creates range so you don’t take more damage and two, it interrupts whatever the target was about to do. Got a smelly Ele in your face getting ready to cast Meteor Shower? Use Rifle Butt and you’ve taken away those fiery balls of death.
Finally we have Kill Shot, the rifle burst skill. As a burst skill, Kill Shot uses adrenaline, the Warrior’s alternative resource, and so it works a little bit differently. Depending on your level of adrenaline, you’ll do more damage with this shot. Per the wiki at this time, Level 1 does 819 (just static damage, not including power, traits, conditions, etc), Level 2 does 1147 and level 3 does 1474. As you can see, firing this off at maximum adrenaline is a pretty big boost. There is one other note that should be made about Kill Shot – it has a range of 5000! All of the other shots are 1200 range, which is pretty decent, but using Kill Shot means you put a scope on your gun and take aim. Because of the increased range, this skill requires that you be stationary to use it.
All of these skills give the rifle a lot of potential tactics but all of them require a single target focus. There is no AoE in the bunch and that is something that will have to be considered when building your warrior. If you know that you are only going to be pulling mobs one at a time, then the rifle is an excellent tool to use, but if you know that pulling just one isn’t possible, you may want to consider the LONGBOW.
The very first skill for the longbow is Dual Shot. Dual Shot does just what it says; it fires two arrows at the same time. That’s right, no wimpy single shots around here, you want to shoot an arrow, you shoot two! Something to keep in mind is that if both arrows hit the same target, it does damage for both. If the arrows hit two different targets, now we’re seeing the AoE of the longbow. While this shot does serve as a combo finisher it only does so 20% of the time currently.
Originally the #2 shot was Incendiary Shot but that was replaced in this last beta event with Fan of Fire. Instead of shooting two arrows you now shoot three. Just like with Dual Shot, if you are standing point blank with your foe and all three arrows hit, then you do damage three times. Yet this is not just a triple shot type of skill because, really, that would be boring and redundant – no, with this shot we get fire! Let your inner Ele…I mean pyro out and start burning down the house. While two seconds of burning may not seem like much the effect is interesting because it stacks in duration. Hit with just one arrow and you get two seconds; hit one target with two of the three arrows and you get four seconds of burning. Point blank hitting with all three arrows will give you six seconds of burning and at level 80 it does 320 damage per second (dps). Oh yea!
Arcing Arrow: The tooltip informs us that this is a slow, arcing, shot and they mean it. Unlike the rest of the skills for the longbow when you use this skill you fire up into the air and have to wait for your arrow to descend. In PvE this isn’t as big a deal because predicting where the enemy is going to be is pretty straight forward. In PvP though that extra delay in the arc of the shot can be a bit trickier as people tend to move about more and they are smarter about using dodge in most cases. That being said, this is a nice shot to use because of the fact that it explodes on impact. Working through the Ascalon Catacombs and have a bunch of gravelings you need to take out? The explosion on this shot will hit everything, nest and all, and if there are any combo fields to take advantage of, it uses the blast finisher.
The new Smoldering Arrow was just added in this last beta and so we need to spend some time discussing this new skill. What this new shot does is fire off an arrow that is going to explode on impact, kinda like Arcing Arrow, but the damage on it is pretty weak. Really, though, the key to this skill is the five seconds of Blind. Blind causes the next attack to miss, which can be very useful when fighting certain professions or mobs. It’s a guaranteed damage reduction for whomever is having their face pushed in, and it gives a bit of breathing room as well. The really nice part of this skill though is that it’s not just a single target – the blind is applied to all affected targets! So you get a bit of AoE damage and a blind on all of the affected targets in just one skill? Yes please! I find this to be a very welcome addition to the longbow toolkit and it’s a skill that we can use to great effect in all areas of play.
Before we talk about the longbow burst skill, we have one last ability that we need to cover: Pin Down. One of the conditions that we have very little access to is Immobilize which prevents the target from being able to move in any way – no dodging, turning, or anything else – for the duration of the condition. Foes, be they NPCs or other players, tend to move around a lot in Guild Wars 2; we’re not going to be standing toe-to-toe with a mob and just playing the button mashing game. As a result being able to control what your opponent does, even for just three seconds, can have a major impact on the outcome of the battle. There are several situations that we may want to make use of this skill, of which the most obvious are: getting into melee range or staying out of melee range. Three seconds is a long time to do whatever you want while your enemy has no control.
Finally, the burst skill for this weapon is Combustive Shot which creates a combo field of fire! All foes in the area, or those that cross into the field, will be set on fire and suffer the burning condition for two seconds. The other cool thing is that we can make use of this combo field even if we’re the only ones around. Set this field down and then start firing off Dual Shot through the field and you’ll start stacking up the burning condition, increasing the amount of time that the enemy burns! Of course, this also plays well with others as other players can take advantage of this field as well.
The focus of both ranged weapons should be fairly clear at this point: single target use a rifle, multiple targets use a longbow. Of course, personal taste also plays into this and don’t feel like you have to use one over the other. During the beta weekend, the rifle I had was much better in stats so I used that even in multi mob situations. The other problem, especially in PvE, is that you don’t always know if you will get a single mob or multiple, so what do you do then? Play the way you want! Found a sweet longbow that really has you excited – go for it! While people are always going to want to find the optimal way of doing things, these two weapons are pretty well balanced right now and so we have the freedom to choose what we want to use.
Which do you prefer? Check out our forums and share your thoughts about the warrior’s ranged options or feel free to leave a comment below. Til next time, fight the good fight!