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The Unconventionalist's Guide to Being Unconventional (with moderate success) in PvP (mostly Random Arenas)

Current as of May 4, 2010

On this page you will find all sorts of advice on how to have fun in PvP. Recent scientific research shows that contrary to popular belief, you can have your fun and win it, too. Included will be builds and theory crafting and sometimes ways to make your team mad despite the fact that you're actually doing something productive. Recent scientific research shows that people will get mad at you even if you're semi-productive because the deity named Meta has decreed it to be so.

There are different categories of fun to be had so let's take a look at those:

  • Win-Fun: It is not a Microsoft program, as far as I know. It is the kind of fun where you kind of care about winning because winning is fun. The thrill of win-fun is distinct from the thrill of winning however as when you wish to win, you make a serious concerted effort and you optimize yourself as best as possible in order to get the win. When you wish to have win-fun, you are still attempting to win but it's not such a serious or optimized attempt and the thrill comes from the fact that you won Unconventionally. This article will be mainly focused on Win-Fun.
  • Screwy-Fun: This sort of fun is where you don't really care whether you win or lose, you just want to press Enter Battle and have a good time. Screwy-Fun, while not centered on winning, is still in the realm of productivity. For instance, 7 trapper skills and a res signet probably isn't going to get you 25 wins, but it's still doing something productive and killing newbs that walk onto a stack of traps is pretty fun and your team will be thankful if they are not newbs themselves.
  • Noob-Fun: This is actually pretty bad but as a journalist for the Unconventionalist's Movement1 I'm going to document it as well as my attempts at having Noob-Fun. Noob-Fun is where you press enter battle with a load of shit on your bar. If there is any productivity it is only productive to yourself (runners, tanks, etc.) and can do no more than stall a match or end a match in a draw.
  • No-Fun: When we subtract the second 'o' and the 'b' from Noob-Fun we get No-Fun which is where you're a miserable person playing RA solely to win and you won't be happy unless you get a perfectly optimized team or you're in a synching guild. Signs of someone who is experiencing No-Fun are; leaving (especially after winning), resigning for no reason, being a monk, being a monk with shiny hands, and giving grief to people experiencing Win-Fun or Screwy-Fun. Despite being a cancer on the face of low-tier PvP, these people are having some kind of fun so it's a legitimate category.
  • Grind-Fun: This is related to No-Fun except we subtract the "miserable people" part. In truth, individuals experiencing Grind-Fun may appear to be miserable, and Grind-Fun may eventually produce miserable people. Grind-Fun applies to individuals who are grinding (points, faction, z-keys, etc) and the monotony of grinding may wear on their nerves/patience and make them grumpy. The thrill of Grind-Fun derives from the reward being grinded towards. Instead of playing RA solely to win they play RA solely to get some reward.
  • Grindy-No-Fun: You get the picture.

If there are any more categories of fun, it will require more scientific research to discover them.

Summarily, the path to Unconventionality is, primarily, finding a productive but interesting build that isn't exactly meta.

It is easiest to do this in Random Arenas where everything is pretty much a roll of the dice anyway. The rest of the article will examine builds, specific skills, and ideas that are Unconventional.

1 There is no such thing as an Unconventionalist's Movement

Ideas of Interest

It's important to have a general concept of what may be Unconventional by default. The Unconventionalist can either purposefully design less-than-optimal but fun builds (Punishing Shot, Echo, etc.), or try to optimize less-than-optimal builds (Trapper). Here is a selection of general ideas that are, by default, bad- er, Unconventional:

I can personally attest to the fact that these things are useful and fairly productive in one way or another, but they are not meta because they are cumbersome and/or not as enticing as other options. Why? How?

Traps such as Snare, Barbed Trap, or Dust Trap are beneficial in hindering the enemy in Competitive Missions. However, a Ranger can easily slip one of these onto their bar and remain somewhat meta. A real Unconventionalist will consider a pure-trapper approach. By stacking lots of traps on enemy teleporters, the enemy will blow up and be immediately disadvantaged. By stacking traps on your shrines, melee professions attempting to capture the shrine will curse out loud. You could also use your intuition to decide where enemies will go and stack traps at choke-points such as stair wells or bridges, or stack traps on the paths of jade carriers. These are excellent ways to benefit your team Unconventionally in CMs.

In RA, permitting a cooperative team, traps can play a semi-decent role in protecting your backline. Your monk can stand on a Dust Trap or run through a Snare to ward off melee without spending any of their own energy. Find an opportunity to place a Barbed Trap at the feet of an enemy if they are not focusing attacks on you. Place snares or stack damaging traps at choke points or predicted paths to prevent enemies from escaping. Stack traps at critical points such as near your Priest, or at Flag Stands. In the event that you fail, you could always have a round of Noob-Fun and kite enemies by luring them through trapped points. "Offensive trappers" may opt for Spike Trap or Smoke Trap as their effects are fairly productive if the trapper can manage to place them without coming under fire. Daze and Knockdowns are always welcome.

Some Nature Rituals have powerful effects. High-Tier PvP has seen the use of combinations such as Tranquility and Nature's Renewal. Admittedly it's harder to plan for the two-way drawbacks of Nature Rituals in RA or CMs, but a spirit based game-plan can still be productive. Nature's Renewal is hell for professions such as Mesmers or Necromancers, and even Monks who may be forced to prematurely remove Holy Veil. Tranquility will nearly cripple any build dependent on enchantments to function. It can also provide monks will a small boon, as Patient Spirit will trigger faster. Toxicity will add greater productivity to a condition spreading ranger, although the point spread is a bit heavy. Quickening Zephyr is great e-denial if the enemy is absent minded or doesn't want to over-extend to kill the spirit. Predatory Season increases the potential of spikes or pressure in general, making it harder for monks to keep up. Also note that Serpent's Quickness is an efficient way of keeping spirits up as often as possible, e.g. Tranquility can be maintained at all times with Serpent's Quickness.

Remember to place the spirits wisely - behind obstructions, far enough away from battle so that the enemy won't be tempted to go after it, but close enough so that your team isn't the only one under it's effects. Also, Frozen Soil is tempting but is more along the lines of Noob-Fun. If you insist on trying it out (which is OK, as it is a skill in the game), don't try to maintain at all times. Gauge your teams ability. If enemies start dropping, put up Frozen Soil then. If just one or two enemies have died but they still have the potential to turn the tables, it may be best not to use it at all, just in case. Even if you plan on utilizing Frozen Soil for Win-Fun, you will most likely still receive grief from your party.

Beast Mastery is host to one of my favorite game-plans in RA - Pets! A ranger with a pet and Call of Haste is a deadly force against dazed foes. Consider Broad Head Arrow, Rapid Fire, Call of Haste and a Shortbow. I play this often and a majority of the time it's a match-winning combination. The added physical attacks of your pet are extra-useful in RA as the other three members of your party may not be melee, or may not be attacking the same target you are.

I'll have to look more into Tactics and update the article later with information.

Binding Rituals are cumbersome in PvP, but their effects prove to be beneficial. Party wide Protective Spirits and Guardians are good things. Union is fairly cheap and can take some pressure off of your party. As far as offense, Wanderlust is a unique way to pressure enemies into not casting. Shadowsong isn't the most effective Blind but it compliments an offensive spirit wall.

The Unconventionalist's Toolbox

If you were too lazy to read through the above, here is a list of skills, synergies and builds that will bring hours of fun to the Unconventionalist. Unfortunately at the moment, this list is running merely on my experience so it will probably be a little repetitive of the above section.

Skills and Synergies

A quick jot-down of combinations to get you started


Taking the above combinations and applying them to full build concepts

Rapid Fire.jpg
Distracting Shot.jpg
Broad Head Arrow.jpg
Call of Haste.jpg
Comfort Animal.jpg
Charm Animal.jpg
Resurrection Signet.jpg

Removing casters from the game is fun!

Distracting Shot.jpg
Poison Tip Signet.jpg
Burning Arrow.jpg
Debilitating Shot.jpg
Serpent's Quickness.jpg
Nature's Renewal.jpg
Resurrection Signet.jpg

Serpent's Quickness works well with spirits such as Tranquility or Quickening Zephyr. Quickening Zephyr may limit your ability to spam Burning Arrow and Debilitating Shot, however.

Lyssa's Aura.jpg
Deadly Paradox.jpg
Augury of Death.jpg
Dancing Daggers.jpg
Entangling Asp.jpg
Signet of Toxic Shock.jpg
Resurrection Signet.jpg

Mesmers and Assassins: Kindred Killers

Imbue Health.jpg
Avatar of Dwayna.jpg
Pious Assault.jpg
Crippling Victory.jpg
Victorious Sweep.jpg
Resurrection Signet.jpg

Excuse the geekism but I can't begin to express how awesome and fun this build is. Avatar of Dwayna removes hexes before attacks land, completely ruining spells such as Empathy and wasting that foe's time. The avatar provides a decent self heal and increases the profit of Meditation. Imbue Health is an awesome heal, use it in emergencies when you feel your backline is going to slip under pressure. Without enchantments, Meditation will allow more spamming of Imbue Health and Pious Assault.

Faithful Intervention.jpg
Avatar of Melandru.jpg
Wearying Strike.jpg
Crippling Victory.jpg
Victorious Sweep.jpg
Resurrection Signet.jpg

25 energy is alot but some extra health and immunity to conditions is nice. Melandru also facilitates Wearying Strike, which is more cost effective than Pious Assault and allows you to bring enchantments.