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Shutdown refers to abilities which prevent, limit, or discourage a foe from performing actions. Shutdown is generally considered to be a valued part of combat in both PvP and PvE environments.

The Role of Shutdown[edit]

Unlike many other role-playing games, combat in Guild Wars has a high emphasis on skills which counter and disrupt enemy actions. While there are rather direct and obvious ways to engage in combat, such as an Elementalist casting a Fireball, shutdown abilities are often valued for what they prevent instead of what they perform. Because many abilities which shutdown foes do not directly deal damage or otherwise cause death, they must be powerful enough for players to place a higher value on them over simply bringing additional damaging skills.

Types of Shutdown


Interruptive abilities feature heavily in Guild Wars, with many classes having access to skills which directly or conditionally interrupt. As the name implies, these skills interrupt enemy actions as they are being performed, and as such are some of the most immediate ways to stop enemies from contributing to combat.

Power Spike is a basic example of an interruptive ability. As the description states, if Power Spike is used on a foe who is casting a spell or chant, that skill will be interrupted and the foe will take damage. Notice that the amount of damage dealt is not only rather high, but also armor-ignoring in nature. This is because Power Spike cannot deal damage on its own, but has instead a challenging condition to meet. As such, the amount of damage it can inflict is significantly higher than spells which do so unconditionally.


Abilities which disable are those that cause a skill to be unavailable for use by adding a recharge time to it. These types of skills frequently go hand in hand with, and are often the consequence of, interruptions.

  • Diversion Diversion: Hex Spell. (6 seconds.) Target foe's next skill takes +10...47...56 seconds to recharge.

Diversion is a Mesmer spell which adds recharge to the next skill used by an enemy. The amount of recharge it adds is quite high, but the effect duration is low. This sort of balance encourages skillful play by requiring the player to use Diversion at a moment when an enemy is primed to use a skill. If the player uses Diversion successfully, they can disable a key skill for a great amount of time.

Knock down

Knock downs are skills which cause a foe to be knocked to the ground, making them unable to move or activate most skills. The standard knock down duration is 2 seconds, but can be increased by runes or the effect of a skill. Warriors, Assassins, and Elementalists are particularly adept at this ability, featuring a plethora of skills which cause knock down.

Hammer Bash is a standard, unconditional knock down ability. If it hits, the target will be knocked down, and because the skill is a hammer attack, they will also take damage. Note that Hammer Bash also causes the user to lose all adrenaline. Knock downs are very powerful abilities, and therefore often have drawbacks or high costs to meet.


Abilities which punish are those that discourage enemies from activating skills or performing actions through a penalizing effect, such as damage or energy loss. These abilities usually take the form of hexes.

  • Backfire Backfire: Hex Spell. For 10 seconds, whenever target foe casts a spell, that foe takes 35...119...140 damage.

Backfire is a quintessential example of a punishment hex. It does not directly do anything to the target, but instead only punishes the foe should they cast a spell. An enemy under the effects of Backfire must weigh whether or not they can cast through the damage. Because the amount of damage dealt is so high, most often an enemy player will choose not to use spells at all.

  • Depravity Depravity: Elite Hex Spell. For 5...17...20 seconds, whenever target foe casts a spell, that foe and one nearby foe lose 1...4...5 Energy

Depravity is a similar take on a shutdown ability, but instead features energy loss. Whereas Backfire itself can be dampened by abilities that reduce damage (like Spirit Bond or Protective Spirit), Depravity is harder to avoid because there are no skills that prevent energy loss. Nonetheless, enemy players who face energy loss often try to somewhat alleviate it through tactics like energy hiding.

  • Empathy Empathy: Hex Spell. For 5...13...15 seconds, whenever target foe attacks, that foe takes 10...46...55 damage and deals 1...12...15 less damage.

Spellcasters are not the only type of profession vulnerable to punishment hexes. Martial professions who rely on attacking can be discouraged from doing so through the use of Empathy. Note that Empathy deals the same amount of damage regardless of the power and frequency at which the target attacks. Therefore, it is most effective against foes who attack rapidly and in smaller packets of damage, such as Assassins.

Resource Denial

Resource denial focuses on preventing an enemy from using skills by either removing or limiting their ability to access the resources needed to activate the skill, most typically either energy or adrenaline. Energy denial prevents enemies from activating skills by directly removing their energy or by stopping energy gain. Because most professions are dependent on energy, this tactic can be useful on many opponents. Adrenaline denial, in turn, reduces or prevents an enemy from gaining adrenaline. Since caster professions do not use adrenaline, this tactic is only useful on martial professions.

  • Ether Lord Ether Lord: Hex Spell. You lose all Energy. For 5...9...10 seconds, target foe suffers -1...3...3 Energy degeneration, and you experience +1...3...3 Energy regeneration.

Ether Lord reduces the amount of energy regeneration a target has, and then grants the user an equivalent amount of energy regeneration. Caster professions are more so dependent on energy over martial professions, and so are particularly vulnerable to the effects of this skill.

  • Soothing Soothing: Binding Ritual. Create a level 1...10...12 spirit. All foes within its range take twice as long to build adrenaline. This spirit dies after 15...39...45 seconds.

Soothing is a binding ritual from the Ritualist profession. It creates a spirit that reduces the rate at which opponents gain adrenaline in spirit range by half. Against enemies who need to adrenaline to attack or use other skills, it can significantly hamper their ability to contribute to combat.


Conditions can be quite effective at shutting down opponents due to their debilitating effects. In particular, blindness can stop nearly all incoming damage from martial attackers, whereas dazed significantly reduces spellcasting.

Blinding Flash is a generic, unconditional way to apply blindness. Because the duration of blindness matches its recharge time, this spell can keep a single opponent blinded for the majority of combat.

  • Broad Head Arrow Broad Head Arrow: Elite Bow Attack. You shoot a broad head arrow that moves slower than normal. If it hits, target foe is Dazed for 5...17...20 seconds, and if target foe is casting a spell that spell is interrupted.

Broad Head Arrow inflicts dazed on a single opponent, and also deals damage due to being an attack skill. Skills that inflict dazed tend to be more costly and or difficult to use than skills which inflict blindness. This reflects the balance between physical attackers, who can deal the highest amounts of damage, and spellcasters, who deal less damage and are also responsible for keeping the party alive.

Attack Speed Reduction/Activation Time Increase

These are sets of skills which increase the time needed for enemies to perform certain actions, such as attacking or using skills.

A staple of PvP, Faintheartedness reduces attack speed by 50%, which in actuality translates to a reduction of 33% due to how Guild Wars calculates effect interactions. Faintheartedness is particularly effective against foes wielding weapons with slower attack speeds, such as bows and hammers.

  • Migraine Migraine: Elite Hex Spell. For 5...17...20 seconds, target foe suffers -1...7...8 Health degeneration and takes 100% longer to activate skills.

Migraine is effective against all kinds of skills except for attack skills. Otherwise, it will cause all types of spells, signets, chants, echos, glyphs, preperations, traps and rituals to activate at twice their normal rate. This effect greatly reduces the frequency at which opponents may activate these skills and makes it easier to interrupt them.

Other Shutdown Abilities

There are some skills that do not quite fit into the above categories, but otherwise are not ubiquitous enough to deserve a category of their own.

Wail of Doom may well be one of, if not, the most effective single target shutdown skill available. All creatures are dependent on attributes because attributes are the sole governing factor for the strength of skills. The only skills which do not scale with an attribute are either unlinked, such as Spirit Walk, or have an effect that will work regardless of attribute investment, à la Distracting Shot. For this reason, Wail of Doom can be used on virtually anyone to devastating effect.

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