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There are two definitions for unique. The first is 'unparalleled' - something so good that nothing quite compares to it. "Unique" items in Guild Wars are "max." They deal the most damage that weapon type is capable of, and the mods provide the biggest proc benefit possible. They're the most powerful you can get - they're unique. In terms of builds, "unique" is basically Shock Axe, Cripshot, (BoA) Shadow Prison sin, Imbagon... that kind of thing. Nothing compares to them; in many cases, nothing comes close.

The second definition of unique is "doing it wrong." The only thing that separates you from everything else is how much you fail. You are one-of-a-kind, but you are terrible. Again, in builds terms, these "unique" builds are Apply Poison paragons, Dagger Rangers, Mending Whammos, Bow assassins, Star Burst warriors, etc.

Sure, you have fun. Sure, you theorycraft and play around with skill combinations like Searing Flames and Glowing Signet. Sure, you are able to beat PvE (not that beating PvE ever mattered, but hey...). Unfortunately for you, Guild Wars doesn't reward you for taking forever to do a simple task because your build is bad.

The only thing Guild Wars awards is victory.

You don't get credit for a mission if you die halfway through. You don't get glad points for running creative yet terrible paragon bars in RA. You don't win Guild Battles by playing honorably. You don't get your name flashed to every player in the game by just making it to halls. These things only happen if you win.

Winning requires good skills. You only have 8 slots to choose from, so you have to make the best use of them possible. Based on ArenaNet's own chaotic downward spiral of nerfs followed by more nerfs, only a few skills in each profession are viable. If you are running a ranger, chances are you have Apply Poison, Troll Unguent, Natural Stride, Mending Touch, Distracting Shot, Savage Shot and a filler damage elite on your bar. Guess why? They're the only things left. Nothing is as good a block stance as Natural Stride. Sure, Dodge has a neat skill description, but it is nowhere near as maintainable as Stride, and it ends when you attack. No matter how you look at it, Natural Stride is better than Dodge. Troll Unguent is the best heal for a ranger, hands down. 2 energy, fully maintainable, impossible to strip, and the cast time can be easily covered by Natty Stride. What else would you run? Healing Breeze, 8 more energy for 2 seconds of duration and a strippable enchant (on top of having to spec another attribute)? No, you are required to run Troll Unguent because it is on a tier unto itself.

Repeat that for pretty much every profession. Mesmers run diversion, power drain, shatter enchantment, shame and cry generally without fail. Rits run pot, warding, life, death pact and Offering of Spirit. Monks have a whole two bars - RC, rof, soa, guardian and dismiss, or WoH, patient spirit, dwaynas kiss, infuse, and heal party. You basically don't see any variation. Nobody runs Mend Ailment over Dismiss because it's terrible in comparison. Nobody runs Orison period because it's a shitty skill compared to the good monk heals (and every rit heal). Sure, your "unique and original" build can use Orison all it wants - that doesn't change how bad Orison is. Face it: if your build had Patient Spirit instead of Orison, it would automatically be better. If your build had Word of Healing instead of Glimmer, it would automatically be better. Don't knock people when they suggest boring, everyone-uses-'em skills - everyone uses them for a reason. Every axe warrior in the game isn't an idiot fanboi of generic skills, they just realize that Eviscerate is better than Cleave. It's time you woke up and realized it too.

This applies to PvE as much as PvP, albeit in a different manner. Here's an example:

  • Player A is skilled. He has a good bar, his heroes have good bars and the team build is mildly cohesive. He can go into a mission like Gates of Madness with very little chance of failure. This player doesn't screw around - he takes 20 minutes to beat it and doesn't lose focus until he's done.
  • Player B is "creative." He likes his Apply Poison Cyclone Axe warrior and he'll damn you to hell if you ever insult it. Coincidentally, Player Bs usually have bad hero bars (but not on purpose, of course; they're bad for creativity's sake!), so they end up with Heal Other/Mend Condition/Life Sheath monks with absolutely no energy management. Player B runs into Gates of Madness, throws himself against the dumbed-down PvE monsters a half-dozen times, and finally achieves victory (mostly out of luck). He then declares himself awesome and posts his terrible awesome Apply Poison war bar on wiki, vehemently defending it with claims like "IT WORKS."

Great job. You beat PvE. Do you want a cookie, Player B? It took you twice as long to beat that mission compared to Player A. Thus, Player A works at 200% of your speed. Now take out "Gates of Madness" and put in "Domain of Anguish." Player A is farming the hell out of DoA and clears the entire thing in 2 hours, beating mallyx in an additional 15 minutes. Player B is lucky to get under 3 hours, and if he's doing it in separate sections, he's more likely to get about 4.

Guess what, Player B? Your creativity isn't being rewarded. You aren't winning the game anymore. If you and Player A do DoA for the same amount of time, Player A will make twice as much money as you. If you're okay with that, enjoy living in mediocrity for the rest of your life. On a related note, Player B, try not to comment on balance or game design, since your standards for "fun" and "challenging" are usually very low :/

The vast majority of skills are useless. I don't pretend to know if that was ANet's plan from the beginning, but that's how it turned out. I somehow doubt ANet really knew what they were doing when they started this cat-and-mouse game of nerfing the wrong things over and over. Either way, the past is in the past. They've removed most of the skills from play, and we're stuck waiting for updates to see which skills we can tweak and which templates we can delete.

While you are free to mess around with bad skills all you want, kindly refrain from pretending that your joke build is anything compared to the real version. If you are a tinkerer, don't try to pass off your cleave warrior as the next shock axe. Present it as what it is - an inferior build made to satiate curiosity more than win.

In conclusion, I leave you with a quote from Faer:

Being a unique snowflake is fine, but if you are going to be one, 
don't say you are better than the snowball. Because I've got news for you, 
that snowball is a lot more likely to roll over shit than you are, snowflake. 
You can be pretty all you want, but don't get in the snowball's way, 
because it's just going to crush you, without a doubt, 100% of the time. 
The snowball doesn't want to crush you, though. It won't make any 
sharp turns to run you over. Just stand clear of the path, and you'll be fine. 
It's when you start trying to prove that you are equal to the snowball 
that you fail, snowflake. 
Be free, be pretty, and be unique, but don't get too caught up in yourself...
Only the snowball has the momentum required to do that.
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