A spike (also high damage density, focus fire damage or burst damage) is a fast, short-duration surge in coordinated damage, designed to kill a called target by compressing a sufficient amount of damage in a short enough time that enemy defensive characters cannot sufficiently react to save them. Skills which qualify for burst damage are often resource inefficient. In PvE, many bosses will inflict a lot of "burst damage" in a short time-frame.
In PvP, teams which attempt to score kills this way may have a lower damage capacity than pressure-based teams, but have a superior ability to compress that damage in time. Most 8v8 teams have some degree of "spike healing" (typically Infuse Health), skills that provide a great deal of healing with a short reaction time that can be used to save a target being spiked with damage.
Examples of spike types
A balanced spike consists of the frontline and midline focusing enough damage on a single target to kill it before the healers have a chance to react. The melee lead off with a short chain of attack skills (usually Eviscerate or Dismember for axe warriors, Crippling Slash-Gash for sword warriors, and a knock down followed by Crushing Blow for hammer warriors); elementalists hit with skills like Invoke Lightning or Shard Storm, and mesmers finish off the target with Shatter Enchantment or Energy Surge.
- Homogeneous caster spike
Homogeneous caster spikes are performed by four or more of the same caster profession, using the same set of damage-dealing skills. Generally, besides their spike skills, their other skills are dedicated to utility and healing. Necromancer spikes usually use Soul Reaping and binding rituals or nature rituals to power these healing abilities. Some previously popular caster spikes include air spike (Lightning Orb followed by Lightning Strike), Obsidian Flame spike, FoC spike (Feast of Corruption fueled by Suffering or Parasitic Bond), and blood spike (life stealing with Shadow Strike or Lifebane Strike followed by Vampiric Gaze). Phantom Pain followed by Shatter Delusions is a common opening combination in caster spikes, often giving away the target with the hex symbol.
- Rainbow spike
A "rainbow spike" involves multiple different professions using high-damage spike skills to spike down targets. In this sense, many balanced spikes could be considered rainbow spikes, but since dedicated spike teams usually spike to the exclusion of all other forms of attacks, rainbow spike teams are often made up only of casters. The rainbow spike has the advantages that varied professions can take more defense and utility with them and that a varied spike is harder to defend against (for example, a spike of a single damage type can be made much less effective if the enemy equips shields with inscriptions against that damage type).
- Ranger spike
Ranger spikes involve three or more rangers. These rangers use fast-activating and simply powerful skills to spike with, supported by spirits (usually Favorable Winds, but occasionally Winnowing), preparations (Expert Focus), and possibly an orders skill, weapon spells, or conjure spells. Often, the durability of the rangers is boosted by defensive stances. Ranger spikes sometimes use hexes like Rigor Mortis to ensure a hit with every arrow. Rarely, zero-Marksmanship-rangerspike builds will use life steal from Nightmare Weapon (and Dual Shot -> Distracting Shot) to bypass most prot attempts and score kills. Ranger spikers typically use a Hornbow with a vampiric mod for extra damage.
- The most general way to stop a dedicated spike team is to force them to split between multiple objectives. Because spike teams are calibrated to deal enough damage in a burst to kill their target, often a split spike cannot muster up the damage to score kills; their lower damage over time means they cannot overwhelm an enemy healer. When spikes do split, they often split all of the spikers onto one team and the healers onto another; this can be used to the advantage of the splitting team. Sending one or two team members off to another objective is often a hard situation for a spike build to keep control of.
- Catching the spike
- 1/4 second healing skills such as Infuse Health can be used to "catch" spikes in progress. Removing the Deep Wound or predicting the target and applying damage-capping skills, such as Protective Spirit and Spirit Bond, also helps stop spikes from succeeding. Against ranger spikes or adrenaline spikes, skills that allow blocking, such as Guardian, can also help significantly.
- Skills such as interrupts, knock downs, Blackout, Diversion, or Guilt can be used to cut down part of the damage so the burst is insufficient to kill the target. Against ranger spikes or adrenaline spikes, blind or skills that cause the opponent to miss can be effective as well.
|Team roles and builds|
|Damage||Pressure • Spiker • Nuker||Beast master • Bomber • Dagger spammer • Touch ranger • Trapper|
|Support||Healer • Protection||Battery • Bonder • Imbagon • Infuser • Orders|
|Control||Lineback • Shutdown • Tank||Cripshot • Hexway • Minion master • Spirit spammer|
|Utility||Caller • Toolbox|