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As melee damage is very effective, there are many melee counters in the game to protect against it. These counters are sometimes known as "melee hate". Most PvP builds will incorporate at least some melee hate — many PvP builds carry quite a bit of melee hate. The amount and type of melee counters carried by a PvP team or character is heavily influenced by the metagame.
Some PvP builds are known for their melee countering abilities. Blindbots, for example, are elementalists who spam Blinding Surge to quickly and constantly blind melee attackers. Linebackers are hammer wielding warriors who use knock downs to prevent enemy warriors from attacking.
Warriors, rangers, assassins, dervishes and paragons are often referred to as "physicals." Physical hate and melee hate are mostly interchangeable terms, as most counters work equally well against both (the notable exception being kiting, which works slightly less against ranged attackers).
General overview of melee counters
- Kiting can be performed by anyone, and is often the most effective means of preventing melee damage. Kiting can be both augmented and countered by speed boosts. It comes at the cost of not being able to perform an action while kiting.
- Snares can prevent an enemy from reaching melee range or helping with kiting.
- Knock downs can function as a snare or interrupt.
- Armor is the first line of defense against most kinds of damage. Characters with high armor rating (such as warriors and paragons) suffer far less pressure from attacks.
- Protective enchantments. Some enchantments grant the recipient a chance to block attacks. Others can prevent damage, either through direct damage resistance or via increasing armor rating. Over reliance on enchantments can leave a character vulnerable to enchantment removal, such as Shattering Assault.
- Protective weapon spells function much like enchantments, but cannot be removed or stacked. Protective shouts cannot be removed and can be stacked.
- Ward spells, and to a lesser extent spirits, can create an area of relative safety from melee attacks.
- Stances can give a player a chance to block, a speed boost, or sometimes both at the same time.
- Miss-chance hexes punish the attacker while mitigating damage.
- Interrupts: properly timed, an interrupt can greatly reduce the damage output of an attacker. For example, an interrupt can be used to break an assassin attack chain. Some spells specifically interrupt attacks.
- Incentives. Some skills punish attacks. Area of effects, such as nukes, traps, spirits, nature rituals or wells can convince an attacker to leave an area, or punish those who don't.
Melee counters by profession
Warriors have the highest armor rating in the game against physical damage, augmented by shields. In addition, they have many stances useful for running away from danger or protecting themselves from attacks. They also have means to inflict cripple and weakness to enemies, as well as knock them down. Warrior is sometimes used as a secondary profession to gain access to the defensive stances.
- Knock downs, particularly in the Hammer Mastery attribute, warriors have many knock downs that can be used to aid a kiting teammate. Bull's Strike is a popular choice from the Strength attribute. Counter Blow is another popular choice for linebacker warriors, who concentrate on putting pressure and disrupting the enemy melee professions.
- Rush and Sprint can be used to escape from melee combat, or to catch up enemy melee attackers harassing your backline.
- Crippling Slash, Hamstring, Axe Rake, and "You're All Alone!" can cripple enemy melee attackers. "You're All Alone!" additionally causes weakness on its target.
- Auspicious Parry can quickly block attacks, while building up a warrior's ability to deal damage.
- Deadly Riposte, Riposte, and Gladiator's Defense block attacks and deal damage back to the attacker. While common in the arenas and PvE, these skill are much less popular in more organized PvP matches.
- Defensive Stance, Disciplined Stance, Shield Stance, Balanced Stance, Wary Stance, and Soldier's Defense are all defensive stances.
- Bonetti's Defense is a defensive stance of particular use, because it costs no energy and can cause energy gain. Sometimes seen on arena monk builds.
Rangers have many stances useful for kiting and/or blocking attacks, in addition to decent armor rating. Ranger traps are effective at crippling or blinding enemy melee attackers, and their animal companions are effective at keeping enemies at bay.
- Dodge, Zojun's Haste, Escape, Lightning Reflexes, Dryder's Defenses, Natural Stride, and Storm Chaser increase movement speed and possibly divert enemy aggression.
- Throw Dirt is a touch-ranged blinding skill.
- Spike Trap, Barbed Trap, and Snare are useful for crippling enemy melee. Presetting traps can aid the ranger's backline when they are forced to kite.
- Crippling Shot or Pin Down for an unconditional cripple. Melandru's Shot cripples moving targets, but also adds bleeding and also deals good damage, making it useful both offensively and defensively.
- Rampage as One provides a speed boost while still allowing the ranger to use a stance.
Monks are a common target, and so often have to pay particular attention to ensuring they carry the sufficient melee counters – either on their own skill bar or on an ally.
- Amity and Pacifism are hexes that completely remove an enemy's ability to attack. Both skills require careful team coordination to work effectively.
- Guardian, Aegis (PvE), Pensive Guardian, Shield of Deflection, and Shield Guardian are enchantments that block attacks. Guardian is extremely popular because of its short recharge, low energy cost, and unconditional effect.
- Bane Signet knocks down an attacker.
- Shield of Absorption and Shielding Hands are not specifically against melee, but are the most popular counters against attacks with high frequency and lower damage output, such as most Jagged Strike-based assassin attack chains.
The Curses attribute of the necromancer is stacked with melee counters. Necromancers are the most common source of melee hate. Other professions, especially casters such as Elementalists, sometimes take some form of anti-melee skills from this attribute.
- Enfeeble, Enfeebling Blood, Enfeebling Touch, Oppressive Gaze, Blood of the Aggressor, Withering Aura and Virulence cause the weakness condition, reducing damage caused by enemy attacks.
- Faintheartedness, Shadow of Fear and Meekness reduces attack speed, which greatly reduces the pressure from a melee attacker.
- Insidious Parasite, Price of Failure, Spiteful Spirit and Spoil Victor deal damage to attackers. Melee attackers, in particular, tend to have a fast attack speed, and so take more damage from these skills.
- Reckless Haste causes attackers to miss, while increasing their attack speed. Has synergy with hexes that punish attacking, especially Price of Failure and Spiteful Spirit.
- Well of Darkness, Well of Suffering and Well of the Profane potently change the flow of battle, giving an advantage to kiters who draw melee attackers into the well.
- Plague Touch, Plague Sending and Plague Signet can be used defensively to return conditions back to melee attackers, who often inflict conditions on their targets.
Mesmers have many melee counters in their Illusion Magic attribute.
- Empathy, Visions of Regret, Clumsiness, Wandering Eye, Ineptitude, Signet of Clumsiness, and Images of Remorse cause damage to attackers. Ineptitude in particular causes damage and also blinds attackers. Clumsiness, Signet of Clumsiness, and Wandering Eye all interrupt attackers.
- Blackout will not only disable an enemy's skills for a few seconds, but also removes any adrenaline built up for warrior, paragon and dervish adrenaline skills.
- Crippling Anguish, Ethereal Burden/Kitah's Burden, Imagined Burden, and Shared Burden are hex based snares useful for aiding kiters. Due to lengthy recharges, most are not commonly seen in PvP. Crippling Anguish is a bit more popular than the rest, especially in the arenas.
- Distortion is a blocking stance with a fast recharge and major drawback. It was once commonly used on flag running Cripshot Rangers.
- Physical Resistance is a stance that increases armor rating against physical attacks. It is not commonly used because of the drawback (reduced armor rating against elemental damage).
- Spirit of Failure: in addition to causing a minor miss chance, this hex can also generate quite a bit of energy for the caster when combined with another hex or the blind condition.
- Spirit Shackles can quickly drain an attacker of energy.
- Signet of Midnight blinds attackers. It also blinds the user, which then can be applied to another melee attacker via a skill such as Plague Touch.
- Blinding Surge and Blinding Flash are quick, spammable counters, causing blindness on the target. Useful for fast saves or reducing pressure.
- Blurred Vision is an area of effect hex causing attacks to miss.
- Ice Spikes, Ice Prison, Shard Storm, Mind Freeze and Icy Shackles are snaring hexes that allow allies to escape enemies more easily.
- Grasping Earth is a cheap, fast recharging snare that can be effectively used with few points in Earth Magic.
- Storm Djinn's Haste and Windborne Speed provide speed boosts for kiting away from melee ranged attackers. Windborne Speed can be used to save kiting allies from melee ranged attackers.
- Teinai's Wind and Whirlwind both knock down attacking characters in melee range. Not popular because the elementalist must position himself near a melee character for it to be effective.
- Eruption causes blind; however, its lengthy recharge restricts its usefulness.
- Sliver Armor is an enchantment that blocks attacks and causes damage. More often used in PvE and Earth elementlist based gimmick builds.
- Ward Against Foes, Ward Against Melee, and Ward of Stability can protect a large number of allies from harm. Unlike enchantments, stances, or spirits, wards cannot be removed by enemy counters; however, characters clustered in a ward can be easy victims to area of effect damage.
Assassins have more fragile armor rating for a melee profession, and yet end up spending at least some time on the frontline or ganking solo. To compensate, they have many skills to help avoid melee damage. Many of these skills involve Shadow steping into position. Because assassin skills are very effective at controlling positions, sometimes backline characters will take assassin as a secondary to aid in kiting.
- Critical Defenses, Flashing Blades, and Shroud of Distress are enchantments and stances that reduce the chance of the user being hit by attacks. More commonly used in PvE.
- Black Mantis Thrust, Leaping Mantis Sting, Crippling Dagger, Entangling Asp, Scorpion Wire, Shadow Prison, Caltrops, and Hidden Caltrops – while more often used offensively – these skills can be used to snare or knock down enemy melee attackers. Leaping Mantis Sting in particular is popular, partially for this reason.
- Siphon Speed is a useful and common snare.
- Blinding Powder, a blind. Not often used outside of PvE.
- Dark Escape, Death's Retreat, Return, Shadow of Haste, Dash, and Recall can be used to aid in kiting, with side benefits.
- Shadow Form can give the caster a variable amount of damage reduction, depending on other assassin enchantments.
- Aura of Displacement and Shadow Meld enables an assassin to escape if it starts taking too much damage.
In addition to direct counters, offensive spirit spammers can create a dangerous area for melee ranged characters to enter, providing a safe haven for more vulnerable characters.
- Shadowsong causes blindness with its attacks. Gaze from Beyond can also be used to inflict quick blindness.
- Displacement creates a wide area of protection against attacks, Union is also effective against most physical attackers. However, spirits die rather quickly under melee pressure; this can be counteracted with Soul Twisting and, to a lesser extent, Ritual Lord.
- Earthbind overrides immunity to knock down and increases the duration of any knock down effect on enemy to at least 3 seconds.
- Soothing slows enemy adrenaline build up.
- Dulled Weapon provides subtractive damage reduction and removes any possibilities of critical damage.
- Binding Chains is a short but potent snare that punishes its target for moving.
- Weapon of Shadow and Weapon of Warding are decent protections that (unlike stances or enchantments) cannot be removed by enemy counters.
Paragons have excellent armor rating augmented by a shield. Most of their more general defensive shouts are of use against melee attackers, and they have a few shouts that directly counter melee attackers.
- "Fall Back!" and "Incoming!" grants an excellent, area of effect speed boost with bonus healing. Perfect for aiding kiting teammates.
- "Can't Touch This!" is the only direct counter to touch skills in the game. Because it is such a specific counter, it is not commonly used.
Medium armor rating usually means that dervishes cannot take the role of a main tank. However, their armor inherently provides additional health, and their primary attribute provides additional armor while enchanted. In addition, dervishes have a wide selection of melee counters to choose from, many of which affect all foes at close range, making them suitable for countering melee attackers.
- Armor of Sanctity causes weakness on adjacent foes and reduce damage from foes suffering from a condition.