|Note: This article is geared towards new players. Please keep its contents to those which new players can reasonably understand and use.|
Proper execution of a player’s team role is a crucial part of success within any circumstance in Guild Wars. In general a team role is defined by a player’s build (based on that player's profession) which is best used at fulfilling any one of the following "categories" needed for success: damage, support, and control. It’s also important to realize that certain professions will be more effective at a particular team role than other professions. For example, an Elementalist may be able to create a build utilizing hammer skills, but this Elementalist would likely be better off taking up the team role of Damage-Nuker instead. Partially dependent on the selected team role and party makeup, three lines of combat arrangements are suggested: Frontline, Midline, and Backline. In certain cases, a particular role may differ in line arrangement based on the team build, but this is directly dependent on how that particular role is to be played in the overall team strategy.
Experimenting with different profession and build combinations, such as an Elementalist with a hammer, is typically discouraged in group based PvE and PvP. This is due to the fact that practicality and efficiency are more highly valued than individuality and distinctiveness; however, such experimentation should not be completely avoided. In some cases, unusual arrangements may lead to surprisingly effective results.
|Damage||Beast master • Nuker • Pressure • Spiker • Touch ranger • Trapper|
|Support||Battery • Bonder • Healer • Imbagon • Infuser • Orders build • Protection|
|Control||Cripshot • Hexway • Lineback • Minion master • Spirit spammer • Shutdown • Tank|
|Utility||Caller • Flagger • Runner • Toolbox|
As seen above is a short list of some major team roles and the categories they are placed in. As an example of using these roles we once again use the Elementalist: Elementalists usually play one of three main roles - Nuker, Spiker, or some form of Utility. They are suited to do moderate amounts of damage to several opponents at once, can spike one opponent with a lot of damage at once, or can support their team by using snares and wards. Due to these three team roles, the Elementalist is geared to be mainly a Midline Spell Caster, due both to the fact that their spells have 1 aggro range and they have 60AL base armor.
 The trinity of power
In Guild Wars, as in most role-playing combat games, there are three roles to be fulfilled in combat: damage, support, and control. Every action, skill, character build, and team build contributes to one or, often, more of these roles. A skilled player analyzes his actions and skill choices to maximize his contribution to these roles.
Because of the way they interact with each other, the roles can be thought of as legs of a triangle.
Fulfilling a role is a relatively complex process that requires several things to go right for the character to be successful. Each role has details on what makes a character good at that role, but there is one attribute that is important for all roles:
- Survivability: A dead ally contributes nothing to the party - they can't damage enemies, support allies, or control the battlefield. Survivability requires a delicate balance - too much defense on an individual can easily be wasted, as it comes at the cost of increased offense and may be overkill for the healers, but not enough means the character can easily fold under concentrated assault.
This is the first leg of the triangle for two reasons: it is the one people are most familiar with, and understanding it is crucial to understanding the importance of the other roles. Damage is unique among the roles in that any character can deal damage as long as they have some sort of weapon equipped.
Damagers are focused on mobility, positioning, coordination, and timing when dealing heavy damage to single targets or a cluster of foes; they're all about making the other guys more dead and demoralized than they, while avoiding attacks themselves. Some damage-oriented profession and builds are focused towards either melee or ranged combat, however the category's role as a whole is not.
Guild Wars makes it easy to understand damage. You have a big red health bar with a number on it. If you get hit, that number goes down and the red bar depletes. If you get healed, that number goes up and the health bar refills. The object of the game is, generally, to keep your red bar at least partially filled and the other guys' red bars empty.
The most basic damage mechanic is the auto attack. Any character with a weapon can whittle away at enemy health by wanding, but this is generally low damage unless the character is wielding a martial weapon (especially melee weapons) for which he meets the requirement.
There are three other major mechanics that deal with damage: health degeneration (which very slowly removes the victim's health), deep wound (which immediately reduces the target's health and healing recieved), and hex (which have a variety of effects, are hard to remove, and can trigger large amounts of damage against the AI).
When building a damage-based character, there are four important characteristics to pay attention to:
- Damage output: The most obvious gauge of a damage-focused character is whether he deals enough damage to quickly neutralize any threat - or at least to kill before being killed.
- Inflicted effects: Many damage dealers can, in addition to dealing damage, inflict various conditions and/or other effects on their foes. This category also includes indirectly damaging effects, such as hexes that trigger on certain actions by your allies or the target.
- Sustainability: Some skills, especially those with a long recharge or high energy cost, frontload their effects but leave the user unable to participate in combat for some time. By contrast, other skills grant the user energy or adrenaline, improving his damage output.
- Targeting capacity: The strongest sword in the world is worthless if the wielder can't reach his target. This category includes mobility, range, accuracy, and reliance on maintaining the same target.
Support can be simply described as a hybrid of applying defense to and increasing the damage output of your team. Support is a very important leg of the power triangle because mitigating or healing incoming damage is, in most situations, the best way to increase time to live.
Supporters are focused on affecting multiple allies at once; either blocking attacking enemies, buffing allied offensive/defensive capabilities, employing effective shutdown and damage reduction, providing energy-management and anti-pressure services, recovery and cleansing/healing injured allies. In bad situations, their team's survival often consists of the Supporters' ability to resurrect allies, prevent further deaths, and adapt to complications (such as overagro). While some support-oriented professions and builds are focused towards either melee or ranged combat, the vast majority as a whole is not.
Support characters have five important characteristics to pay attention on:
- Debuff removal: The ability to quickly and efficiently remove both conditions and hexes can be critical to your team's survival.
- Defensive buffing: This category includes things that make your teammates harder to kill - damage reduction, reactive healing, and even speed boosts (which can also be used offensively).
- Offensive buffing: Some of the strongest skills in the game buff your allies to make them stronger damage dealers. Skills in this category might increase the damage of your allies' attacks, add an area of effect, inflict conditions or effects, or some combination of the three.
- Healing: Mostly the purview of the monk and the ritualist, this category includes any effect that recovers an ally's health. While not as useful as some defensive buffs - due to the large amount of damage that can fly around the battlefield - this is still an important part of any team.
- Battery: Mostly the purview of the necromancer and the paragon, this category includes any effect that recovers an ally's energy and/or adrenaline. While not as useful as some offensive buffs, this is still vital for the sustainability of any team.
Control is, at its most basic, reducing the damage output and/or options available to the other team.
Controllers are focused on affecting multiple targets at once; either hindering or distracting foes, forcing them into performing an undesirable action, often in the form of altering the battlefield's terrain (via deploying snares, wells, spirits, traps, etc.) in order to manipulate movement, or by diverting enemies' attack onto themselves. Some control-oriented professions and builds are focused towards ranged combat, while others specialize in melee combat.
There are three aspects of control to be considered in any build:
- Action denial: This category includes any effect that reduces what one's opponents can do - most common are energy denial, interrupts, knockdowns, and snares. These are important due to their versatility.
- Buff removal: The ability to quickly and efficiently remove enchantments, stances, and summons, or otherwise render irrelevant any other "buffs" critical to the opposition team's ability to function effectively.
- Punishment: This focuses on preventing foes from or harming them for using skills, and is often further divided into two kinds of punishment: "caster punishment," which focuses on the use of spells (such as Arcane Conundrum), and "martial punishment," which focuses on attacks (such as Insidious Parasite).
 The art of positioning
 In PvP
In PvP, a party’s frontline will almost always be built with strong, durable melee classes such as the Warrior or the Dervish and to a lesser extent, the Assassin. These players make usage of weapons, such as axes, daggers, hammers, scythes, and swords to either devastate their foes at a point-blank range, or utilize knock downs in order to prevent their foes from acting (a tactic commonly referred to as “linebacking”.) As such, it’s usually highly desired for these players to have a high Armor rating, due to their constant close proximity to the enemy.
 In PvE
In PvE, the definition of a frontline is, typically, a much more versatile one. Frontliners are usually called upon to either tank (via holding the attention of foes, and mitigating incoming damage as much as possible), or, the opposite of such a role - to focus their attention on defeating foes. Utilizing axes, daggers, hammers, scythes, or swords, players can cut down foes as they see fit. A high armor rating is usually less of a concern in PvE for frontliners who wish to deal damage, as either the presence of a tank, or the AI’s inability to realize the instability of any target makes game play here much more relaxed. This means that Assassins, Dervishes, and Warriors alike should have no problem finding a frontlining spot in PvE. It should also be noted that due to the sheer amount of foes that horde many PvE areas, skills that deal Area of Effect damage are often highly effective.
In order to maximize effectiveness, one should only devise their build according to one role, or another. However, this doesn’t mean that a character built for dealing damage cannot act as a tank in a pinch, in the right circumstances.
 In PvP
The term "midline" covers many different possible roles and tasks – performed from a distance - varying from; disruption, enchantment removal, general team support through helpful shouts or spells, dealing ranged damage via spells, shutdown, spike assist, and spreading health degeneration. Each of these tasks has many common elements, and many of them have an optional spot to place a hard resurrection skill.
In most cases, a midline character will have significantly less armor than that of their frontline, so careful positioning is a must, unless one wishes to be the next spike target. Midliners have to be able to be within range of their foes, yet behind their frontline, and ahead of their backline; avoiding overextending also makes a midliner more difficult to kill. When the battlefield allows for it, they should also attempt to utilize obstructions to prevent projectiles from either interrupting, or potentially harming them. However, in some cases, it may prove more useful for a midliner to either forward, closer into the frontline, or backward, toward their backline as required. The ability to actively assess when abandoning positioning will be ultimately more or less favorable to one’s party is a must.
 In PvE
Having much simpler obstacles than PvP, the role of a midliner in PvE is usually to focus on damage output or mitigation of damage through summons and minions. Unless required to defeat a specific enemy, or mission, tasks such as disruption, enchantment removal, general party support through helpful shouts or spells, and shutdown become inefficient, and as such are not often utilized. The concepts of spike assists and spreading of degeneration are usually dropped completely. Midliners are generally favored for raw damage output. Barrage Rangers, damage- and mass interruption-focused Mesmers, Fire Elementalists, Minion Master Necromancers, Smiting Monks, Imbagon Paragons and spirit spammer Ritualists, are a few of the forms of midliner characters that typically are favored in PvE.
Although smart midline positioning is generally accepted as a good practice in PvE, it often isn’t required. Likewise, at least one midliner carrying a hard resurrection skill is generally considered as a good practice, but is not required.
The team roles control and support are associated with this formation; it is dominated by defense-oriented casters.
 In PvP
A prudent backline is a very valuable asset in any instance of PvP. Backliners are typically the most fragile, and most protected characters, who are completely devoted to keeping the rest of the party alive despite steady pressure, or quick and clean spikes. Due to their masses of skills made for solely this purpose, Monks, through Healing Prayers and Protection Prayers, and in some cases Ritualists fill the role of backline characters.
As most backline professions have the least armor rating available and are a high priority to kill, their positioning is perhaps the most important of any team role. As the name implies, a player in this niche will find themselves at the very back of the battlefield, within range of their frontline and midline, yet as far away from harm as possible. This ensures that in order to reach the opposing backline, a foe must first pass through, and possibly overextend into allies who can either body block them, or simply kill them. The exception of this rule is when a monk is channel tanking as a means of energy management.
In PvP, backliners bringing any sort of resurrection skill is generally frowned upon - with the exception of Ritualists – as a skill slot may be better used to prevent allies from dying, rather than reviving them from it. Additionally, the high activation time on most resurrection skills makes it reckless for a backliner to ever use one; while activating a resurrection skill, there is a high potential that their allies will die.
 In PvE
Backlining in PvE is just as important as it is in PvP, however, strategies vary significantly. Players filling this role are still seen as very fragile, and should be kept alive as a priority. Traditionally, PvE backlining is done by primary profession Monks, but can also be performed by primary or secondary profession Ritualists, or by secondary profession Monks.
Backline players healing their allies can either focus on single target healing and condition removal, via spells such as Cure Hex, Mend Body and Soul, Patient Spirit, Spirit Light and Word of Healing, or party-wide healing, via skills such as Divine Healing, Feast of Souls, Heal Party, Heaven's Delight, Life, Recuperation, Rejuvenation and Protective Was Kaolai. Empowered by elite skills and enchantments like Healer's Boon, Ritual Lord, Soul Twisting or Unyielding Aura, party-wide healing can be just as effective as single target healing, if not more so.
Backline players who wish to prevent damage from ever occurring to their allies, rather than recovering from it, have many options available to them. This type of player is typically referred to as a prot, if their primary profession is monk. Using skills such as Life Barrier, Life Bond, Protective Spirit, Shelter, Shield of Absorption and Union, the damage dealt to an ally can be drastically reduced. Alternatively, skills such as Aegis, Displacement, Guardian, Resilient Weapon, Reversal of Fortune, Spirit Bond, and Weapon of Warding can be used to completely prevent, or otherwise reverse the effects of damage. This form of backlining is often more difficult, but significantly more energy efficient than healing.
In PvE, it is customary for backline characters to bring some form of hard resurrection. Preferably Unyielding Aura or Rebirth, as this allows for reviving a party member from a distance to safety, away from where they died, which could potentially still be swarmed with enemies. This strategy can be effectively used to save a party from a near-wipe situation. When resurrection from a distance into safety isn't possible, or required, other skills may fulfill this purpose, such as Eternal Aura, "We Shall Return!", Death Pact Signet, Signet of Return, or Flesh of My Flesh.
- Not all parties have each team role present, as a balanced build would.
- Some parties choose to substitute different builds and professions in their frontline, midline, or backline. Despite their differences, they still act in those team roles. This is typically referred to as a gimmick build.
The "Trinity of Power" concept was an RPG-standard originally set forth by the original Dungeons & Dragons's classes, from which are followed by nearly all fantasy-themed gaming archetypes.
|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|