Profession Specific Tricks
The Guardian is currently the class of choice to defend a point. While not particularly well equipped to kill enemies with a defensive set up the combination of their large health pools, area denial skills, and ability to stall enemy capture of a point is unparalleled. One of the favored skills is Tome of Courage, an elite, which grants a number of great support skills but also grants an extremely powerful AoE heal, called Light of Deliverance, which heals everyone in the area to full health. The cast time of the Tome and the heal makes you vulnerable to interrupting here so investing in the stability bonus in Virtue of Courage can mitigate this risk.
Azshene from Team Paradigm has a very solid Guardian build for holding onto points found here. Gameplay, with a shoutcast commentary, of this build can be found here. You can see excellent use of Light of Deliverance and area denial skills in this video.
The movement abilities of the Thief allow them to be one of the fastest responders in the map. They can traverse distances very rapidly with a number of shadowstep abilities and output a heavy amount of damage rapidly. This makes them a prime choice for getting a kill steal on an enemy boss.
A major component of the game is the secondary mechanic of killing the bosses to grant a powerful boon and more importantly 25 points to the overall score. The Necromancer’s Lich Form deals very heavy damage rapidly and has access to a knockback. This allows you to move bosses away from kill stealing enemies or get the last hit on a boss your enemy is working on. Without Lich Form you also provide very high stacks of vulnerability with the Axe skill Rending Claws. A kill steal can also be achieved with the Axe skill Ghastly Claws buffed by the vulnerability stacks from Rending Claws. With only a few stacks of vulnerability it can do 2,800 damage or more in 3 seconds.
The last major Necromancer skill is Marked for Death in Lich Form. This is an AoE vulnerability that applies 8 stacks for 10 seconds. Enemies will tend to stack up and this skill will give your team a very big advantage in a fight.
The Ranger is an amazing mobile class. You have one of the longest swiftness boons in the game, Call of the Wild, at 15 seconds. It also grants extremely powerful boons for Fury and Might. You also have access to perhaps one of the best team boon sets in the game in the form of Spirit Beasts.
As your name coincidentally implies you work great at range. To maximize this benefit strive to keep the high ground on any capture point, especially when defending a point. It is surprisingly obnoxious to get up to the high ground so you will have a very large window to obliterate any melee classes trying to chase you down. It also makes it very useful to prevent enemies from fleeing a point to help reinforce a point. With traps and the mobility of pets you can really stall enemy reinforcements quite a bit.
While I have a special place in my heart for Warriors I must admit I have not found a ton of info on their use in sPvP with regards to Niflhel. What I DO know is that Warriors, through traits, runes, and skills have the largest healthpool, which makes you great at defending. Warriors also have a number of great gap closers, particularly with the shield. Don’t be afraid to find the right combination of weapons for your role. Moldran has a terrific video covering Warrior theorycrafting and gameplay that will do a much better job of giving you tips than I could.
As always the Engineer is a strong point defender. While Mines and Turrets are major defensive tools it is important not to neglect your other skills. The Bomb kit is a very high skill cap ability but its power sPvP is undeniable. The Glue Bomb can immobilize a very large number of enemies preventing them from entering the capture point area or preventing enemies from kill stealing a boss in the opening moments by placing the bomb along the main travel route.
This is an amazing combo move courtesy of Teldo from Team Paradigm. At the start of the match drop a Smoke Bomb and immediately drop the Big Ol’ Bomb. This will give your team an AoE invisibility as seen in this video. Just wow!
Just a quick note, a few Engineer abilities are getting overhauled so some of this info may already be out of date. For instance, I think mines are basically completely different so I tried not to talk about them.
Perhaps one of the most useful abilities available to the Mesmer is the Moa Morph. Boss NPCs can be Moa-Morphed which gives you several delicious seconds to avoid heavy damage. You can also morph an enemy working on a boss to sneak in that last hit.
Mass Invisibility will create amazing cover for your entire team to sneak by the enemy in the early game. It works great for an ambush or to sneak out a kill steal.
Of course Mesmers are adept at science . . .with portals! As a scout you can cut your teams travel time down significantly with careful use of portals. While I haven’t personally tried out this next tip it is theoretically amazing. As the Mesmer runs by the Boss NPC, getting in a few good hits, drop your entrance portal. Continue up the back path and drop the exit on the small elevated platforms above the keep. You can start capturing the keep while your team arrives en masse at the high ground to give you support. Be careful as your portals will only last 12 seconds once you drop the exit.
You want some help with the Elementalist you say? Tip one: Play a different class. Okay, okay, okay, I will soil my good name by discussing Elementalist tips. *Sigh*
Attunements are your greatest asset in sPvP. The enemy might know which weapon sets you have but they will be hard pressed to figure out which attunement you are in until they have already engaged you. Switch attunements and switch often. Obviously do this with purpose, don’t just switch because you think the color purple is pretty. If you are in a bad position and a little hurt the enemy may think you will pop Water attunement and pop out a heal. Instead, go into Air and rush them, giving them a big hit or blindness and then pop a swiftness boon to confuse them. I guarantee that this will catch any enemy off guard that isn’t playing at a competition level.
As a word of warning the Elementalist ability to turn into Mist is cool, but it does have a major drawback. For whatever reason you will no longer be able to prevent neutralization of a point seen in this clip where the elementalist is clearly inside the capture point as mist but steadily loosing control of it. I haven’t found any evidence that while in Mist form an enemy capture can happen but it is also likely the case.
The early game is one of the most crucial points in the Forest of Niflhel. This is due to the boss secondary mechanic and the position of both teams is fixed at the start of the map. When I say early game I mean VERY early, roughly the first 10-20 seconds. This kind of focus on the start of the game really only applies to high end competitive sPvP. PuGs will lack the coordination to benefit or suffer from these tactics and since you can have as many as 8 players in a PuG a lot of this simply won’t be extensible to PuG environments. As such, the following strategies will focus mainly on coordinated sPvP team play.
The 4:1 split is a powerful tactic that carries a heavy inherent risk. It hinges on one member of the 5 man team rushes towards the boss and bursts him down as fast as possible. This should be given to a class with high survivability but also great damage output. Great examples include the Elementalist or Warrior. The Burst aspect here is crucial because you WANT that boss down before the enemy team has a chance to kill steal or kill the person pulling the boss. Once this person is done with the boss they go back and cap the natural for their team.
The real action is the 4 man component who is trying to kill steal the enemy boss. They will group up by the midline exit of their base with an AoE swiftness boon activated as soon as the gate opens. They may also choose to use an AoE invisibility skill here as well. The team will travel the front center path and start heading for the enemy boss, chaining swiftness boons as they go. The idea here is to run up behind the enemy as they are killing the boss, disrupt their ability to kill, and steal the kill with a couple high burst skills lined up to be used when the boss health is low.
A major potential problem with this strategy is the enemy going for a 4:1 split as well. Now you are both fighting mid instead of capturing points. In this situation the best thing you can do is have one person designated to break off and help kill your team’s boss or cap the keep. The enemy team will also try to do this and its important to have an eye out for this person and stun/slow them or more preferably use a pull ability to drag them back into the brawl.
A useful counter for this strategy hasn’t been fully developed. In fact the best counter currently is to utilize this opener yourself to either get to the enemy boss and potentially get a kill steal or run into the enemy and battle with them in the middle ground. I have theorized that an effective counter to this is to block off the enemy progression into the boss area by using a Guardian to chain area denial skills at the choke point that is near the main route to the boss. UPDATE: While writing this theGijesus has made a video demonstrating this very counter tactic with a great rundown on the specifics. This tactic might be able to be circumvented by the Thief’s Shadowstep or the Elementalist’s Mist ability (needs testing).
Another effective counter which IS seen regularly to prevent kill steals in non-opening strategies but should be applicable here is the boss knockback. Each boss can is susceptible to knockbacks and, if correctly aimed, can place each boss in a small crevice in the back of their respective caves. This now creates a very narrow area that is not obstructed from attacks by players outside the crevice. Essentially you leave two players inside the crevice to finish off the boss and leave any other players in the area to fend of attackers or move on elsewhere. This method of protection can be enhanced by utilizing projectile reflection shields from the Guardian or the Mesmer to further prevent enemy interference of the boss kill.
There is an excellent video that goes into an in depth discussion of this tactic with example clips from different teams by thegijesus. Much of these tips were influenced by this video so please give the author a “Like” on their video.
Heavy Boss Kill
This strategy hinges on a four man team going to burst down the boss to prevent a kill steal. There are videos of the boss dying in roughly 7 seconds using this method. How does this prevent a kill steal? The fastest run I’ve seen from the home base to the opposing team’s boss is 20 seconds into the game. The fastest team run to boss kill I’ve seen is 20 seconds. This means that even an enemy shows up to kill steal the boss will find him dead by the time they arrive to the entrance of the boss area. This method also hinges on keeping the boss in the back portion of the cavern, preferably in the crevice at the back of the cave. Preventing the boss from moving forward will ensure that the boss is out of minimum range for a kill steal from enemy players.
The 5th player has the all important job of ensuring the capture of their team’s natural, either the mine or the henge. Once captured this person will stand at a vantage point to call out any enemy movement in the area. This job relies on quick and concise information. Typically they are there to warn about any enemies incoming to interfere with the boss kill and how many or to warn that the natural capture point may not be safe from enemies.
What happens immediately afterwards depends on the situation. Typically a lot of the team will take the back route up to the keep and make a hard push for the keep. One or two may be needed to hold onto the henge depending on what the enemy is doing.
Light Boss, Early Keep
This tactic is similar to the Heavy Boss tactic. One person runs to the Natural and holds it while the rest of the team goes to their Boss. The variation comes in when the or two of the fastest ranged classes pull the boss first with slowing skills while continuing to run along the path but NOT directly engaging the boss. That is a job for the other two players coming up behind them. The puller’s job is to get some early, high damage on the boss but mainly focusing on running up the back route to the keep. One person will stand on the point and the other person can either stand on left small platform, the enemy back route, or the enemy side staircase to set up traps and delay the enemy from arriving at the keep. This person should primarily be focused on delaying the enemy from reaching the keep platform but once there, should be trying to kill them quickly and support the teammate capturing the point. The Thief and ranger are perfect for this support role. For the point capture role a Guardian or Warrior is great for this job.
After the boss kill the two lagging players will either assist in the capture of the keep or move on to other points as the situation dictates.
Light Kill Steal/Harasser/Enemy Natural Cap
Again, a fairly similar setup as the other openers. This method has one or two players diverted from their team’s boss and instead try to get a kill steal off on the enemy boss. The kill steal may not be possible, so a secondary objective is to heavily weaken and slow the enemy from leaving the boss area. While running up to the enemy boss they may see an opening at the enemy natural and go for a cap here instead.
Sometimes things don’t go your way(cat is on fire, etc) and you lose your boss kill. It happens, either the other team got a lucky last hit or had superior numbers or your strategy didn’t work. This is time for recovery and you need it badly. Let’s look at the most likely scenario in this situation: The enemy has their natural, two boss kill buffs and points, and you probably have your natural. All things being equal at this point you will be down by 80 points since you will have one capture point generating points at the same rate as the enemies capture point. The next couple of minutes will have a major impact on the game. You are playing to be in a good position for the next boss respawn. Being down by 50 points isn’t the end of the world but it certainly is a bad place to be. The goal right now is to level the point gap by the next boss respawn. The best way to do this is have uninterrupted control of two capture points immediately after the boss kill and for the duration of the boss respawn time. If we assume you are able to hold your natural and the enemy is able to hold on to theirs we can exclude those from the calculation and just focus on the keep. The calculation looks like this(“Oh God! Not math!!” shhh, it’s okay, it will be over soon):
This will not only close the 50 point gap but also put you ahead by the next respawn. This does NOT take into account points gained from player kills. Of course this equation takes a lot of assumptions like immediate capture of the Keep, no deaths, and both teams maintaining control of their Natural. This would be an ideal counter and in war there is no such thing. You should also focus team resources on neutralizing the enemy Natural.
Notice how I didn’t say capture, this is a key difference. Sure if you CAN capture go for it. However, against a competent team you are unlikely to steal a natural capture unless there is a communication error on the enemy team or you gave the illusion of a heavy push at the keep to prevent the enemy distributing forces properly or your team made a heavy push for that point. By neutralizing the enemy natural, instead of attempting to capture, you can stop the gain of enemy points through control points. You can more easily “enforce” a neutralization of a point then protect a capture allowing fewer team resources spent at the enemy natural and more spread at maintaining your control points. Of course this is all easier said than done, but that is the gist of it.
The last part of recovery is making the most of the next respawn. This is perhaps the hardest part to describe. Your team and the enemy will be all over the map in no easily predictable manner. You need to have someone watching for the respawn timer (3 minutes after the kill) so your team can coordinate which boss they are going for and arrive there hopefully right when the boss respawns. You may also want to take advantage of the chaos to also pick up the other boss kill or kill steal or cap unattended points. Communication and calm reaction will help your team overcome this setback.
Often the game will be won by either reaching 500 points from holding your current capture points or more likely by closing the last few points with a boss kill. Chances are that your enemy will be in the same position to win or gain a late game lead with a boss kill. It all comes down to communication and timing. Do you see a theme occurring here?
Forest of Niflhel offers a very competitive sPvP map. With the secondary mechanic of boss kills the game offers the flexibility for a team to quickly turn around a losing game. Currently Niflhel is the map of choice for the competitive sPvP scene and for good reason. It is not only fun but also very balanced. With this guide you should not only have a fundamental knowledge of the map but also have a working knowledge of competitive gameplay. As always, Live Strong and Fight Hard!
As always, there are a bunch of people who tell me when I’m wrong . . .er supporting this guide. A BIG thanks to many in the Guild Wars Insider Forums for their contributions, especially in the department of Profession specific tips. A big thanks to Beliasta and ArcherAvatar for their variety of tips. Thanks to Acanthus for LoS tips and Zwacky for running down some great videos.