Guide to making a build

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Although the basic principles of making a functioning build remain the same in both PvE or PvP, they are drastically different environments and builds have to be tailored accordingly.

The choice of the secondary profession and the skills that are available from it can complement the skills from the primary profession. In various situations, the profession's primary attribute and its associated skills serve as energy management while utilizing secondary profession skills (e.g. Necromancer/Ritualist healers or Elementalist/Monk bonders).


See also: Team roles

To create an effective build, roles need to be considered. A role in Guild Wars denotes the use for a build, as well as its position on the battlefield. These roles can be anywhere between offense and defense, frontline and backline, shutdown and support, and melee and ranged. Builds will almost always be functioning as part of a group. Therefore it is important to understand that there are several team roles and how they interact.

There are five role types, consisting of three major ones and two minor types. They are damage, support, control, and pressure and utility respectively. Professions tend to have attribute lines revolving around these roles. This makes it easier to create builds for specific roles.

Role Attribute lines

Warrior Axe Mastery
Monk Smiting Prayers
Elementalist Air Magic
Elementalist Fire Magic


Warrior Sword Mastery
Ranger Marksmanship
Mesmer Illusion Magic


Warrior Tactics
Monk Divine Favor
Monk Healing Prayers
Monk Protection Prayers
Elementalist Water Magic


Warrior Hammer Mastery
Mesmer Domination Magic
Elementalist Earth Magic


Most lines.

Skills and attribute points are limited. Focusing on one role instead of trying to take on several roles at the same time is generally a good idea. A Monk who wants to focus on healing, protection, and damage can dedicate fewer skills to each role and will have lower attribute ranks for them. Damage dealers with dedicated healing in their team can replace their self-healing skills for damaging skills, allowing them to spread their attribute points across fewer attributes, increasing their effectiveness.

A general rule is that builds tailored towards a single role will be more effective at that role.

Common mistakes[edit]

Attribute spread[edit]

Main article: Attribute spread
Too many attributes (Two Elementalist lines and three Monk lines)

One of the main restraints when making a build is the allocation of attribute points. It is generally best to try to narrow down a character's attribute spread and invest in only two to three attribute lines. This avoids reduced effectiveness overall. A few skills work adequately even at low attribute ranks, e.g. Protective Spirit does not require high Protection Prayers to be effective. Typically, good attribute spreads are 12-12-3 (12 in one attribute, 12 in another, and enough attribute points left over to pull a tertiary attribute up to 3) and 12-10-8 (same concept as 12-12-3).

Energy problems[edit]

Main article: Energy management

A build is only useful when it can be used. The majority of skills require energy, which will run out sooner rather than later without sufficient energy management. While powerful skills can be important, such skills tend to require large amounts of energy. Too many such skills on a skill bar can lead to very few uses throughout a battle. When creating a build, energy management is important. Certain skills return energy upon use, whereas others reward energy as a secondary effect. Making sure a build does not run into energy problems is part of making a good build. An alternative to internal energy management is to designate one member of the party, either hero or player, as a battery.


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A build with overlapping skill effects creates redundancies, making it less effective than other builds with larger spreads of unique effects.


Certain skills are more effective in some situations than others. Builds can be modified according to the challenge at hand. For instance, in areas with many hostile spellcasters, bringing skills that inflict Daze or interrupt can make combat much more manageable. If enemies use a lot of skills that inflict knock down, builds can include skills such as Ward of Stability and "I Am Unstoppable!".

Similarly, areas can be filled with enemies that are immune to a portion of the build(s) that have been utilized in the past, such as immunities to burning or bleeding. For these areas a build may need adjustment to be effective again.


Skill types[edit]

Main article: Skill type

There are certain types of skills that do not allow their effects to stack, nor combine with other skills of the same type. A character may only have one glyph, stance, item spell, weapon spell, or preparation active at any one time (a character may have one of each active at the same time with no restriction). For example, when Glyph of Lesser Energy is active, and Glyph of Elemental Power is used, Glyph of Lesser Energy will be removed and replaced by Glyph of Elemental Power. Similarly, while Bonetti's Defense is active, using Enraging Charge will remove Bonetti's Defense and replace it with Enraging Charge. In the latter example, deliberately replacing stances is also known as stance canceling.


Skill effects are limited in effectiveness via various caps, which makes some skill combinations less beneficial.

Armor rating (also known as AR) bonuses from multiple skills are capped at +25 AR, though a single skill can exceed that cap (having more than one skill giving +AR is situational at best).
Increased skill activation
Any non-attack skill cannot activate slower than 150% of its activation time. For instance, casting Arcane Conundrum (doubles casting time (+100%)) on an enemy that is already suffering from the Dazed condition (doubles casting time (+100%)), will not combine to an activation time of +200% (or greater).
Health degeneration/regeneration
A character cannot have more than -10 health degeneration or +10 regeneration by any combination of effects at any one time. Per example: to maintain +10 health regeneration while Burning is in effect, a total of +17 health regeneration is required. When Burning expires, the health regeneration will still only be +10, rather than +17.

Advanced concepts[edit]


See also: Synergy

When skills combine with each other in a beneficial way, it is called synergy. Advanced players take advantage of synergy for compounded effect. This concept is less obvious than skill chaining. There should be some coherence in what builds consist of and how they might synergize. Per example:

  1. When a build or team build frequently summons a spirit in combat, various Restoration Magic spells can heal with improved effectiveness.
  2. If the Burning condition can be applied to a large number of enemies, the Paragon skill "They're on Fire!" will have a much greater effect.
  3. In areas where a lot of physical attacks comes from melee targets, point blank area of effect skills will be able to affect more enemies reliably.

The use of multiple skill bars (up to 12 in Factions elite missions) can lead to an exceedingly high amount of synergy.

Bar compression[edit]

See also: Bar compression

AI vs players[edit]

See also: Hero behavior

Another concept in creating builds, is understanding what player and the hero AI behavior excel at or do poorly.

In general, players are able to perform predictive actions; a player can execute complex tactical maneuvers based on impending situations. The AI cannot do this, unless the hero skills are manually toggled which can be time-consuming and inefficient. For instance, right before a player tank runs forward to engage a mob of enemies, a player Monk can cast various Protection Prayers enchantments on the tank in advance. But a hero will not do this until the enemies have actually been engaged.

On the other hand, the AI can perform functions requiring hair-trigger reflexes, which no human player can achieve. For example, in the case of Mesmers employing interrupt skills, the role can reliably be served by the hero AI. A player can run such a build with great efficiency, being able to predict and interrupt the more important enemy skills in a way the AI cannot; however, the player will need excellent hand-eye coordination, very low reflex times, and a connection to the ArenaNet servers with extremely low lag.

This concept is vital to understanding why certain builds, run well by players, cannot be employed as usefully by heroes, and vice versa. This accounts for many differences between builds meant for players, and builds meant for heroes.

Understanding the various limitations of players and heroes alike will allow builds to be much more effective.

Team roles (edit)
Type General team roles Specific team roles Hero team roles
Damage SpikerNuker BomberDagger spammerTouch rangerStarbursterTrapper
Pressure Lineback BarragerBeast masterCripshot RangerPressure Ranger
Support HealerProtection BatteryBonderFlag runnerHybrid monkImbagonInfuserOrders
Control ShutdownTank Minion masterPermaSpirit spammer Mesmer Midline
Utility CallerToolbox Gimmick