I don’t know about you, but I love sPvP. I mean, I REALLY love it. The killing, the bloodshed, destroying your opponent or sometimes you getting destroyed, I love all of it! When the new map, Raid on the Capricorn, came out I hopped right into a nearly empty server and started playing around. I was elated to find it included underwater combat and then was soon attacked by sharks . . . and they promptly killed me. I then remembered I sucked at three-dimensional combat and then spent the next few hours honing my skills. The result: a brief Necro-centric guide for those of us who are three-dimensionally combat impaired.
I’m sure you are all thinking, “Why should we be taking pointers from a guy who died to NPC sharks in a sPvP map?” Excellent question! First, shut up. Second, this demonstrates a key activity to do during PvP: find your weaknesses and progressively eliminate them. To be honest, I expected to die a lot in underwater combat, just not to sharks. At least they didn’t have lasers on them. The only 3D combat system I was ever good at was Descent, and that was a long time ago and very different from GW2 underwater combat. The general principles of combat still apply in underwater sPvP, but their application is different, so we will cover the three key areas you will need to improve to make the most of your Necro in the Raid on the Capricorn.
Underwater movement is a bit disorientating at first, particularly in the heat of combat. The number one thing people fail to do is make use of all the degrees of freedom. Forward, backward, left, right and strafe still work but you also have the ability to swim up and dive down as well. Swim up is your space bar and swim down is assigned to NOTHING! Thanks, ArenaNet. So, first things first, go assign “dive” to something, I suggest shift since it’s a big key and you generally aren’t doing anything with it. Go on, I’ll wait . . . okay, lets move on. You can use up and down in combination with your other movement skills which will help put you out of the range of enemy attacks.
Next, stay out of swimming limbo. If you’ve spent any time in the water you will notice that swimming on the surface takes away your spells–all of them. Not just your normal land-based skills, but also the underwater skills. Not only are you unskillful but you also can’t dodge, making you basically an easy kill for the enemy. Just in case any of you had the brilliant idea that you move faster swimming on the surface, you don’t. In fact, since you can’t dodge or use speed-enhancing skills, you are much MUCH slower swimming on the surface. Take-home lesson, don’t do it.
Feeling disoriented during combat is normal, you just have to desensitize yourself to it. I suggest fighting some NPCs in an underwater zone. Don’t just clobber them to death, but instead try to kite them around and practice moving out of the way of attacks or moving around the environment. To really put the pressure on, grab several mobs at once to really put yourself in danger similar to an sPvP environment.
Positioning and Environment
When attacking an enemy, avoid trying to position yourself to attack them but rather force them to move to attack you! This will give you the advantage. Heck, even Sun Tzu says this!
Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act.
In fact, almost all of the fifth book is about movement and manipulating your enemy, so I suggest reading it for good measure. If you read that and were like “Whaaa . . .?” don’t worry, I will break it down for you. You want the enemy to be forced to react to you, not the other way around. In underwater combat, if you have mastered movement, then you will have the advantage, and by always forcing the enemy to react to you, it automatically gives you an advantage. Not only that, but if you make the enemy believe you are running away or are flailing about they may make some bad decision, thinking they can just chase you and burst you down. They will burn cooldowns and move themselves out of advantageous positions to accomplish this, giving you the opportunity to crush them.
Make use of the underwater environment to give you an advantage. Let’s take a quick look at the capture point here. One of the most common issues in sPvP is people just standing around on a flat area and pummeling each other, occasionally dodging. This is bad, NO! *smacks you with a newspaper* Bad Necro! We use line of sight to block enemy attacks, we use the environment to conceal our location so we can surprise the enemy, and we use the environment to force the enemy to move to a disadvantageous location.
The underwater capture point has a few things that other capture points have, such as a flat surface area and some pillars providing LoS around the point. If you look reeeeeally close you can identify a few things that are new, like sharks (without lasers). We can also see two large stone formations on either side, with a lip at the top of both, a rock ceiling area, and finally, a small sunken dome area that is a little more than 1,200 units away from the capture point. The great thing about these ledges is that incoming enemies rarely look up when they are entering the area. Even if you don’t look up, watch yourself next time and you will realize you scan the entire area below you looking for enemies while you shrug off sharks and try to capture the point. Even if you start taking damage, you are far more likely to look around you in a 360-degree arc and never once look up! Use this to your advantage and also start breaking yourself of this habit.
If you are defending or guarding a point, try positioning yourself up above the point so you can view incoming enemies and get several great hits on them before they even know to defend themselves. This position will leave you a bit exposed . . . and encircled by sharks, so you may want to use the sunken dome area to the south. You can quickly get in long-distance range of enemies from this point while having a great view of the capture point, but are also easily able to conceal yourself.
Skills and Traits
As Necromancers, we get two weapons for underwater combat, Spears and Tridents (because those just scream undead summoner). The Spear is your up-close and personal weapon with a life force-generating autoattack. The Trident, on the other hand, is the longer-range weapon. These weapons take a LOT of practice to get down and there will be a lot of weapon-swapping if you want to use them effectively. While it is somewhat effective to kite foes at max range using the Trident’s Crimson Tide spell, it is not very practical if you have more than one foe or if they close that gap. Instead, you want to build a bit of a cadence where you pull foes in, quickly damage them, and then gain distance again. My favorite way is to pull multiple foes towards you with the Spear’s Deadly Catch, switch to Trident, use Feast to gain a lot of Life Force, and finally use Frozen Abyss to freeze them and Foul Current to dart away. This is just one of the many combinations you can use and it will make you extremely deadly underwater.
Right about now you may be saying to yourself, “Hey, we have a whole new set of skills for our Death Shroud, those must be awesome!” Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news is you will be able to generate Life Force just as rapidly underwater as above, and a lot of your non-damaging abilities are incredibly useful, like a two-second directional AoE fear and a targeted AoE blindness and poison. The bad news is your big gun, Life Blast, is a bit different than its dry land counterpart. The primary difference is the time between casts. It takes about three seconds from start of cast to end of cast underwater as opposed to one second on dry land. You also don’t gain more damage from having more life force underwater, but you do get to transfer one condition to an enemy when you Life Blast.
Your utility skills are pretty limited underwater; they literally blank out a number of your abilities. Basically, you get Minions, with the exception of the Flesh Wurm, and you get the Signet of Undeath and a few others. Remember, you get a secondary set of Utility Skills underwater, so make sure you choose them before battle. On the plus side, minions are some of the best underwater skills since minion AI doesn’t become disoriented underwater like their masters. You are limited to one Elite, Plague Form, which is okay, since it really is an omnidirectional attack, which suits the underwater life quite well. However, I feel the Flesh Golem would have done just as well.
As you can see, since you are limited in your utility skills there are a number of traits that are not optimal underwater. Pretty much anything that gives you a bonus to weapons or ground-targeted abilities is a waste. Siphoning, Minion, and Death Shroud traits will benefit you greatly. Keep in mind that this all depends on how much time you plan on spending underwater. If your team doesn’t need you there all the time then strike a balance favoring land lover traits. On the other hand, with all these tips and practice you’ve been doing, your team may demand you spend the entire game down there. . . or maybe it’s because your minions creep them out. Either way, at least you will be surrounded by sharks, and I think we can all agree that is awesome.
Good Luck and Good Fishing!