By game mechanic
- Energy cost
- Activation time
- Recharge time
- Skill range
- Adrenaline skills
- Upkeep skills
- Sacrifice skills
- Overcast skills
By Elite acquisition
Activation time is a resource cost, the length of time it takes a skill to be executed after a character has selected it. In Guild Wars, the term is synonymous with casting time and is denoted in-game as .
A skill's activation time begins as soon as a character selects that skill; if the period elapses successfully, the skill is executed. The activation time is halted and the skill fails if it is interrupted or canceled. This wait time is a key vulnerability of every skill: the longer the activation time, the more opportunities opponents have to prevent the skill from operating successfully.
Like many things in the game, activation is handled by the game's servers rather than the player's computer, making skill use subject to lag. Often players will not notice any resultant latency, since it is typically less than 400 milliseconds.
After the activation time of a skill with a stated activation time, there will almost always also be an aftercast delay of 3/4s before the skill user can act again.
Attack skills follow two different timing rules, depending on whether or not the skill explicitly states an activation time. For skills with unstated amounts, the skill will use the first half of the character's next attack interval (the remaining half will be the time it takes the character to return to the neutral state). For example, an axe-wielding character will take half of 1.33 seconds to activate Body Blow; it will take them half of 1.75 seconds to activate the same skill while swinging a hammer.
Skills with an explicit activation time work similarly: half-way through the interval, a melee attack will connect with its target and a ranged attack will launch its projectile; the remaining half will be used to return the character to a neutral state. For example, a Savage Shot is fired after ¼ seconds after it is initiated (half the stated ½ second ) and Belly Smash will connect after ½ seconds, rather than the stated 1 second. These skills also bypass the return-to-neutral delay from the previous attack (assuming it did not have an aftercast delay).
Other attack skill mechanics
- Activation times for all attack skills are affected by any effect that alters attack speeds. For example:
- Pet attacks function more like shouts that affect the pet's next attack.
- Effects and skills (such as Migraine) that affect the activation time of any skill, does not affect the activation time of attack skills.
Other skill types
All other skills use their stated activation time (after modifications) unless otherwise noted below.
Spells and signets
- Spells and Signets use the stated activation time. Spell casting time can be modified by half casting time weapon upgrades, Fast Casting, and skills or effects that explicitly reduce it (e.g. Healer's Boon). Signets are also affected by Fast Casting and a different set of skills or effects. In addition, all signets and nearly all spells suffer from aftercast delay.
- Flash enchantment spells have no activation time or aftercast delay, but cannot be activated while activating other skills or while knocked down.
- Dolyak Signet and Signet of Suffering activate instantly, but cannot be activated in mid-action or while knocked down. Although they do not have stated activation time, they work within the skill queue; they will overwrite any previously queued actions, including movement.
- Asuran Scan is the only hex without a specified activation time. It casts instantly, but it has an aftercast delay and cannot be used in mid-action.
- Skills under the effects of Glyph of Sacrifice cast nearly at once and instantly for Glyph of Essence, but still suffer aftercast delay and are subject to queuing.
- Shouts, Pet attacks, and Stances activate immediately, outside the queue; they can be activated in the middle of other actions or while knocked down.
- Some skills have no stated activation time, but suffer aftercast delay, notably: Celestial Stance, Scavenger's Focus, Angelic Protection, and Air of Superiority.
- Some skills without a listed activation time cannot be activated in mid-action, even though they do not have an aftercast delay: Protector's Defense, Feral Aggression, Inspirational Speech.
- The decrease in activation time for attack skills under an IAS is useful in landing interrupts on your foe's faster-activating skills.
- Ranger skills with activation times have an aftercast delay to hinder damage compression.
- Any skill with an explicit activation time can be used to bypass the second half of a previous attack interval (after that attack has hit). For example, a Warrior using Executioner's Strike after Eviscerate at normal speed will land Exectioner's Strike 1.33 seconds after Eviscerate, while a Warrior using Agonizing Chop instead of Executioner's will land it ½ second after Eviscerate, which is almost three times as fast. This is also what makes certain dagger spamming builds effective.
Effects that modify activation time
Skills and effects can influence non-attack skill activation times; times are capped at -25% and +150% of the original amount.
- The Mesmer's Fast Casting primary attribute reduces the activation time of spells and signets and is not affected by the cap.
- Dazed increases casting time.
Skills that reduce activation time
- Healer's Boon (elite) affects Healing Prayers spells
- Holy Haste affects Healing Prayers spells
- Jaundiced Gaze affects the next enchantment if an enchantment is removed from target foe
- Celestial Haste affects spells, PvE only
- Stolen Speed (elite) affects spells targeting target foe cast by you (and allies in PvE)
- Time Ward (elite) affects spells cast by allies in the ward, PvE only
- Glyph of Essence next spell activates instantly, you lose all energy
- Glyph of Sacrifice next spell activates instantly, increases recharge time
- Iron Mist affects Air Magic spells that target a foe
- Over the Limit (elite) affects spells, PvE only
- Deadly Haste affects half-ranged spells
- Deadly Paradox affects Assassin skills
- "Help Me!" affects spells targeting you cast by allies
- Natural Healing half casting time if you are not enchanted
- Signet of Mystic Speed next self-targeting enchantments cast instantly
- "There's not enough time!!" affects all skills
- Mindbender affects spells, PvE only
Skills that increase activation time
- Nature's Renewal affects hexes and enchantments
- Arcane Conundrum affects spells, also hexes foes adjacent to target
- Confusing Images affects non-attack skills
- Enchanter's Conundrum affects enchantments
- Frustration affects spells
- Migraine affects all skills
- Shared Burden affects movement, spells and attacks
- Stolen Speed affects spells, also hexes foes adjacent to target
- Sum of All Fears affects movement, spells and attacks
- Holy Veil affects hexes cast on target ally
- Rust affects signets, also hexes foes adjacent to target
- Corrupted Dragon Spores affects spells
- Spectral Agony affects all skills
- Snaring Web affects all skills
Other effects that influence activation time
- Environmental effects
- Upgrade components
- Focus core
- "Aptitude not Attitude"
- "Don't Think Twice"
- Staff head