- 1 Preface
- 2 About Hexes
- 3 Enchantment Removals
- 4 What Hexways do
- 5 Howto Fix
- 6 Final Words
This is an article that will attempt to explain some of the reasons why hexway setups - aka teams with many offensive characters using many hex spells - tend to win straight annihilation games. Guild Wars used to be a very good game, as expansions were released, everything went downwards to the point where being successful in PvP is accessible to any gimmick player that doesn't even actively think during battles to win games. Hexes, among many other elements of Guild Wars' game engine, have been targeted (willingly or not) by powercreep, a term that means that it became imbalanced as more content is added to the game.
By nature, hexes are inflicted by using hex spells that bestow a negative effect when casted successfully on an enemy target for a certain duration. When hexed, a purple arrow pointing downwards will appear on the right part of the red bar (in the Party Window) of the hexed player. Degeneration hexes (causing life loss by health degeneration) are easily spotted by turning the whole "red bar" into purple. If a non-degenerative hex and a degen one are both on the same target, the bar will be purple and there will be a single purple arrow on the hexed target. Degenerative conditions have priority over the color of the "Red Bar", therefore if a target is poisoned and suffering from a degen hex, the bar will be green (for poison) with a purple arrow.
Some of the basic properties of hexes:
- They cost energy or health (health sacrifice).
- They can be removed.
- They have a duration
- A single hex spell can only apply one hex
- Hex spells can only be used on foes
- They can be stacked
- The first hex applied to a player is the "bottom hex".
- The last applied hex becomes the "top hex"
- If a hex removal that removes a single hex upon success is used on a hex-stacked character, the top hex is removed
- A hex is covered when it is not the top hex
- If a target is hexed with Hex A and targeted again by the same hex A, A does not end, disappears from its position, becomes the top hex and has a renewed duration based on the second casting on the spell.
- There is no damage limit to the damage one can trigger from hexes (theoretically, yes but it is so high that I'd rather ignore it)
- There are multiple types of hexes (main ones are listed)
Note that some Hexes fit in multiple categories
Conditions, Enchantments, Hexes and Knockdowns are key elements of Guild Wars' game engine that make Guild Wars what it is. Individual builds typically never deal every of those elements although possible. There exist many synergies between those elements, a notable example being the hexes Fevered Dreams and Fragility that become very dangerous along conditions. While some balance issues have touched every single of these elements in the past, hexes remain troublesome in my honest opinion. I will do my best to explain my point by discussing their ease of use, hex stacking, cover hexes, overpowered nature of some hexes and existing counters.
Ease of Use
The term "ease of use", when talking about a hex spell generally refers to the casting time, the recharge time and the condition (if any) to trigger the effect (if that's how the hex works).
- Hex spells with a casting time shorter than 1/2 second are generally considered "un-interruptable": a character with an interrupt skill cannot wait for the caster to begin casting and press his interrupt button in time to disrupt the casting (mainly because of the interrupt's activation time, player reaction time, computer delay and player's ping). Interrupting by anticipation, random interrupt spamming and knockdowns are ways to interrupt those low-casting-times hex spells although I wouldn't recommend the second one. Fast Casting attribute from the Mesmer profession significantly reduces the casting time of many hexes, therefore if a single non-primary attribute hex bar not using a specific non-Mesmer secondary class (any spellcasting bar actually filling the last condition) is viable, going Mesmer primary with fast cast and speccing 12 points in the said attribute will make make the build much more harder to disrupt. On top of that, spell casting weapons (Wands, Focus and Staves) can carry an innate percentage of HCT (Halves Casting Time). Typically, a 40/40 HCT/HSR (40% HCT and HSR (Halves Skill Recharge)) Wand/Focus setup is used for casting spells of a specific attribute (i.e 40/40 Domination Magic to cast Domination magic spells and 40/40 Inspiration Magic to cast Inspiration magic spells). In other words, you have a 40% chance of fast casting spells linked to an attribute if you're using a proper weapon set. This bonus stacks with the Mesmer's fast casting attribute. As a general rule, anything with a base 1 second cast time becomes "un-interruptable" under clean conditions (absence of Dazed and casting-time-lengthening hexes/Nature's Renewal/Holy Veil) with a HCT. Anything with a base casting of 2 seconds or more can be interrupted, even when getting a HCT with a good deal of points in Fast Cast in a clean situation (requires good reflexes). Anything with a 1 second casting time becomes very difficult to interrupt if used along with many points in Fast Casting (primary Mesmer, with 11 fast casting, 1 second becomes 0.6 and interrupting a 3/4 non-fc cast without anticipating is typically considered tricky) and pretty much impossible to interrupt when it's a 3/4 second base casting time with FC. To get to the point, many hexes cannot reliably be dealt with by the mean of interrupting. Some examples in that category are Seeping Wound and Wastrel's Demise.
- Let's suppose that a certain hex is negative enough for a healer to want his team free of this hex at all times. In practice, a healer wants his team to be hex-free if possible. In reality, waiting out a Diversion, a Shame and not attacking through Empathy 24/7 are specific ways to deal with specific hexes in order to reduce their effectiveness. Sometimes, their effect will get to you and greatly disrupt your team, sometimes you will counter them: it's a case-by-case thing. While some can be reasonably dealt with a counter individually, others have a devastating effect that the only viable way to deal with them is to remove them. The best example for this is Faintheartedness, a skill that shuts down anything physical based by an amount that can't be numbered. As with any spell linked to an attribute, it can benefit from a 40% HSR with proper weapons although there is no primary attribute that decreases the skill recharge of spells unlike fast casts. A skill like Faintheartedness, with a duration of 23 seconds @ 14 Curses has a recharge time of 8 seconds, making it easily perma-maintainable on 2 different physical based characters. Add the HSR to that: Faint is very easily spammed and the millisecond your backline gets pressured, you will not get it removed. The Duration/Recharge ratio combined with its effect allows the brainless spamming of the skill while effectively shutting down physical based professions to the point of near uselessness. Considering this, Faintheartedness (Faint) is very easy to use and will even lower the capacity of physical-based interrupters to interrupt. Many Hex Spells have a pretty short recharge time that makes them more or less spammable. Some examples that fall in this category are Faint, Fevered Dreams, Wastrel's Worry, Parasitic Bond, Defile Defenses, Soul Bind, Wastrel's Demise, Freezing Gust and so on. The spammability of many hexes is a stepping stone into overloading an enemy team with hexes.
- Some Hexes are conditional and will only have a direct effect if the hexed target does something in particular. For instance, Empathy will only trigger if the hexed foe attacks. Some of the conditions depend on what the hexed target does while some depend on specific conditions. An example of the latter is Seeping Wound, while being an unconditional snare, it requires the hexed target to be under a condition (bleeding, poison, crippled, ... ) in order to deal damage. On a side note, that condition is VERY EASY to fulfill (this for instance). So many hexes have a conditional effect that is more or less easy to trigger. Common examples are Augury of Death, Seeping Wound, Price of Pride, Scorpion Wire, Spoil Victor, etc. "Suffering from a Condition" and "Whenever target foe attacks or casts spells on a creature with less Health." are very easy to fulfill whereas "When target foe casts a spell" can be more tricky to take advantage of against smart players. I will also add that many hexes have an Area of Effect (AoE). Hex Spells with an AoE effect will reward good use of them by hexing multiples foes. I made a list of all AoE hexes in PvP which is found here. Those are harder than usual to use to a high effectiveness as they require good field awareness. Fact remains that they can randomly act as a cover to a many other hexes mid-game.
All things considered, a hex spell that is easy to use has a good balance in its casting time, recharge time, condition (if any) and energy cost. After the release all the skill content in Guild Wars, many hexes fit the description "easy to use". Popular examples are Faintheartedness, Visions of Regret, Parasitic Bond, Defile Defenses, Seeping Wound, Stolen Speed, Grasping Earth amongst many. According to the definition I did, "easy to use" is quite similar to "spammable". On the other side, a hex spell that is hard to use has a difficulty in triggering the conditional effect, long casting time making it vulnerable to interrupts and or a recharge that forces wise use of it. This is to differ from "bad", a hex spell whose effect is simply not worth the cost, activation time and recharge. Triggering the conditional effect of Diversion while it lasts can be very easy to very hard, depending on how good you are and how good your enemies are so this one is hard to use. To conclude, many hexes are easy to use and can be very effective through random to semi-random targeting, low recharge times and good duration to be maintained on multiple targets at once, simple-to-please "conditonality" and/or an area of effect.
When playing melee, attacking through Empathy to push a kill or interrupt is a pretty good move at the cost of a little health. However, where you're under Empathy, Spiteful Spirit, Insidious Parasite and Spoil Victor, pushing for a kill will go along killing yourself. Shutdown hexes that have the same *targets* stack. Hex stacking is the problem of hexway. As more expansions of Guild Wars were released and loads of new skills added, more hexes were implemented in the game. Ultimately, it is possible to freeze an enemy under a pile of negative hexes to the point of uselessness. I'll give a couple of examples of massive hex stack combinations but beforehand, I'll point out two key skills of hex stacking: Visions of Regret and Spoil Victor.
- Empathy (52) + Spiteful Spirit (33) + Insidious Parasite (41) + Spoil Victor (95) = 221 armor-ignoring damage if you dare trigger everything on a single attack. Any physical damage dealer under all of this will 1- Explode 2- tab to Firefox and go check his e-mails
- Backfire (133) + VoR (43) + Spoil Victor (95)/Soul Leech (76) + Wastrel's Worry for 271/252 armor-ignoring damage to cast a single spell... It better be worth it.
- Ether Lord + Ether Phantom + Malaise + Wither = 6 energy degeneration....Yes 6. Your monk better know what a low-set is or you will die.
- Migraine + Frustration + Stolen Speed + Shared Burden + Enchanter's Conundrum + Rust = idk if they all stack but you still can't do shit if you're a caster
- Illusion of Pain (30) + Glimmering Mark (24) + Renewing Surge (11) + Seeping Wound (24) = 89 DPS is a lot
- Shameful Fear (19) + Weaken Knees (10) + Winter's Embrace (14) + Binding Chains (28) = just don't move (71 bonus DPS while moving)
Whatever ridiculous hex-stacking combination you are under, when using a skill or throwing a normal attack causes you to sacrifice 50% of your health I think we can agree something is wrong. If the damage was not enough, skills such as Xinrae's Weapon make a ridiculous hexstack more ridiculous in adding more armor ignoring damage. The examples listed above are NOT extreme. They could be worse and if you've ever played Random Arenas, you already know that. So what's the matter with hex stacks? What could be fixed to make it more reasonable? I believe many hexes are broken to begin with and a clean example of that is Spoil Victor (and many cover hexes). Other than that, I have a few suggestions:
1- Limits: make limits to the effectiveness of hexes. For instance, the amount of damage/health loss one can take from activating a single skill could be capped to 100 except for individual skills the same way blocks don't stack above 66% except for individual skills.
2- Fix balance issues with troublesome hexes.
3- Make hex stacking less effective. VoR was recently nerfed in a way that stacking Backfire and VoR is less effective than chaining them and that is a pretty good fix in my opinion. If this could be done for more damage dealing shutdown hexes, things would get better.
4- Force strategic use of Cover Hexes by lengthening their recharge and lowering their duration. (Cover hexes will be seen in the next section)
A cover hex is a hex spell used to act as a cover to another hex. In fact, if you want to cover a hex such as Empathy, you can use any hexes in the game to cover it. However, some hexes are much more effective and reliable than others to act as cover hexes. Typical cover hex properties include a low energy cost, casting time, recharge time, a utility effect and a long duration. The point of cover hexes are to make hex removal(s) from the enemy team ineffective (or close to) by making the enemy remove the cover hex instead of the negative hex that was under it. This is a game mechanic abuse as hex removals will always target the top hex. To top it off, some cover hexes will even take advantage in being removed. Here a few popular examples of cover hexes:
5 1 2 This one is the best example of what a cover hex is. Low stats, advantaged from being removed and even the ability to turn the bar purple to confuse enemy backliners. The duration is an unconditional 20 seconds, therefore any part Necromancer can easily cover hexes with this one for a very long time. The skill itself is pretty bad although its effectiveness as a cover hex is where the skill shines.
5 1 5 Another cover hex from the Curses line, Defile Defenses has 2 purposes. With low stats, it easily acts as a cover hex on foes as well as punishing those who attempt to block attacks. The duration and effect scale, hence why this one is unused by non-Curses users.
5 1 10 While this one has a pretty high recharge, the fact that is acts as a cover hex AND an enchantment removable is invaluable. It directly counters hex removal skills such as Holy Veil (side note: Corrupting holy veil after applying Faintheartedness (any other hex) is pretty dumb as it will remove Faintheartedness) and Spotless Mind when these enchantments are not covered as well as acting as a cover hex. Whether it is to dual Cover Hex along with Defile or Parabond or a single Cover, this one is a versatile cover worthy of being an elite skill.
5 1 10 With an unscaling duration, partially scaling effect and an advantage in being removed, the skill is overall pretty good. It's a shame most players instantly remove it with Drain Delusions.
5 ¼ 8 Typically used to cover shutdown damage hexes such as Backfire and Empathy because of the conditional nature of its appliance, Wastrel's Demise is quite an annoying cover hex. Even when targeting a character under Holy Veil, casting Wastrel is almost instantaneous and will effectively cover before the user of holy veil has the time to do anything about it (unless he was actively watching for it) as long as the target was not using a skill with a casting time. Unscaling duration again though it's irrelevant as it's only being used by Domination Mesmers.
5 ¼ 1 The duration is very short, it can be self-canceled by the target but the point where Wastrel's Worry is amazing is the recharge time. The skill can be spammed many times to cover a hex as needed if canceled. Often, inexperienced monks will remove Wastrel's Worry instead of waiting out it's duration or removing after the target self-canceled it. Balance-wise, the skill itself needs a higher recharge.
The issue with cover hexes is not that they exist, it is simply the fact that they are overly user-friendly. Low recharge, energy cost, advantage from being removed, unscaling duration, low casting time, ..., are all parts of what makes those popular cover hexes overused. Augmenting recharge times, scaling durations, energy costs and so on will force strategic uses of them since as of right now, you can cover every hex you cast mid-game within 2-3 seconds assuming you're not e-denialed. That is quite an issue. This leads the game into making hexing much more easier than hex removing. Combine spammable long-duration hexes and cover hexes with a solid energy pool and you can easily overload your opponent with hexes.
In hexway setups, AoE hex spells are often used. Consequences of this is that they may more-or-less randomly act as AoE cover hexes over hexes used by other spellcasters. The basic example of this is covering Lingering Curse by Suffering although this one is done by a single character. Visions of Regret, Grasping Earth, Rust and Lamentation are pretty effective AoE cover hexes.
Many hex spells themselves are a problem. I've written a page about stand-alone skills that I consider overpowered. Here it is if you feel like taking a look. I will sum up the hex spells on my page I believed are overly strong and my reasons.
- Diversion This one can be highly debated although my main reasons are that it's an effective shutdown to anything in the game as well as a lengthy skill disabling duration. Considering skill disabling has no direct counters other than prevention (which is actually a counter to everything), disabling effects ought to be short to be balanced. Signet of Humility and Distracting Shot are pretty reasonable on that part in comparison to Diversion. Diversion is a hard skill to use but I believe the effect is too good even for a not-so-user-friendly skill.
- Faintheartedness The shutdown capacity of this skill is much worse than a 50% damage reduction. While I'd be fine with the latter to an extent, the duration/recharge time ratio is quite high, making the skill easily spammable and maintainable on 2 physical characters at once without much effort.
- Grasping Earth Very effective AoE Snare, does not require hard spec to be effective, low recharge, activation and energy cost, absence of drawback for such a good skill.
- Seeping Wound As a Snare and an armor-ignoring damage skill, this skill gives the tools to an Assassin to do large armor-ignoring unkitable chains that can easily take down heavy-armored units in a single chain. It also acts as a ranged snare, is quartercast and has a low recharge for such a good skill and the absence of any real drawback.
- Spoil Victor This skill can shut down anything in the game similarly to Diversion. It mercilessly drains health from anyone triggering its effect, regardless or not the action that triggered the health loss was useful or not. The duration is lengthy and removal is typically the only viable option when it's up. My suggestions to balance this skill is to reduce the duration and make the health loss trigger on attack skills or spells.
- Visions of Regret As a hex spell that shutdowns anything, this skill has an area of effect. The balanced parts of the skill are its properties (energy, activation, recharge, ...) as well as the diminishing effectiveness when stacked with other Mesmer hex(es). Considering its functionality, the fact it can shutdown multiple people at once is quite broken.
Those are the imbalanced hexes jumping to my eyes. Ok so let's accept the fact that those hexes are not balanced. What about the cover hexes? Face it, a skill like parabond gives the tool to any brainless player to perma cover all the hexes he's casting more-or-less randomly. In a sense, covers give the tools to hexing characters to make hex removals ineffective. It's like interrupting the hex removal without actually rupting it: it's that good. By all means, they should NOT cost 5 energy and have a 1 second recharge time without any drawback. Cover hexes are a joke. They (I'm assuming) weren't meant to be used as cover hexes when the game designers forged them which explains to an extent why parasitic bond and some others are ridiculously easy to use. I could care less about the hex they're casting, but the cover is a joke. In a sense, a cover hex such as Parasitic Bond is broken and leads to some sort of inferior gameplay where the skill can be used whenever to fill it's cover hex purpose without any bit of strategical use. There are much more hexes than the ones on the list that I would like to be changed stats-wise, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're blatantly overpowered. A quick example is Soul Bind's recharge: it seriously needs to be more than 5 seconds. Final words: some hexes are overpowered as hex spells and some are broken as cover hex spells.
This section could be very very exhaustive. I'll see how I large I feel like writing it up. Let's begin with the basic counter : hex removals.
Hex removal is by definition, a counter to hex. To begin with, I wantto put up a small analysis of many popular hex removal skills and point some of their weakness/strength.
- Cure Hex Pretty solid hex removal and a backup heal. Excels at removing hexes such as empathy/backfire/VoR as it will heal the possible damage taken from those. The casting time is pretty long and the skill is pretty vulnerable to being interrupted. Easy target for a power block.
- Holy Veil Definitely one of the best hex removal skills in the game. The ability to use a strategy known as "pre-veiling" before the game as well as during the game is a great asset of this skill. It also makes enemy spells cast twice as slow on veiled targets, an invaluable property in making disrupting hexes easier and messing with their timing. One of the only counters to HCT. The negative part of the skill is that it is an enchantment and enchants are stripped like a joke. I still remember pre-veiling my two warriors in RA. I covered my veil with guardian on the warrior who first went in. The enemy Necro used Rend Enchantment (and I was going to dual cover with Patient....) on the guardian'ed Warrior and Rip Enchantment on the other. Seeing I couldn't do shit against that (I could have patient'ed the other Warrior but I was just stunned), I thought to myself "What the FUCK!? That's Bullshit!" before the battle truly began. We still won but I was pissed.
- Empathic Removal A popular choice to disrupt the strong Seeping Wound chains, the skill itself is pretty good. Main issue with it is the fact that it is an elite skill. It is sort of tricky to make a part monk build without an elite skill and still be very useful to the team. I tried making an arena build based on it with patient spirit and gift of health but you can't heal yourself consistently with PS only. Dwayna is an option but fire eles and enraged lunge users will destroy you.
- Deny Hexes Skill used to counter hex stacking. It requires at least another Divine Favor skill to be on recharge to be effective. Typical choices for that are ((Divine Spirit]] and Peace and Harmony. The recharge is a little high and unless you have a 40/40 Divine Favor (and running a PnH build basically), you should not have a weapon slot for a 40/40 DF (assuming 40/40 heal, 40/20/20 Prot Staff, Shield set and High Set, If you ain't running guardian and holy veil, you can replace the Prot staff). Along PnH, hexes become a joke.
- Peace and Harmony Joke skill. Acts as a "Clean Target ally" as well as a 3 seconds prot to conditions and hexes. Skill received a major buff to counter hexway (you know.... the subject of the article) to the point where running PnH and Deny Hexes in 4 v 4 should destroy any form of hexway (2 hex casters + healing backline + non-primary hex caster).
- Spotless Mind Terrible Skill. Animation makes the skill so obvious to counter by an enchantment removal. Takes 10 seconds to remove the important hex (assuming it's covered). If it's not removed and perma-maintained on someone, it can be pretty cool with some lucky timing. The "cannot self-target" part of the skill is pretty weak too.
- Expel Hexes Amazing skill. A dual hex removal that's relatively spammable, good counter to hex overload. Once again, requires you to waste your elite slot and go part Mesmer. Great recharge although easily interruptable.
- Smite Hex The only way this skill is useful is if you're running a smite/support build. Otherwise, I really don't see how such a skill can fit in someone's bar in a better way than the above non-elite choices.
Ok so those are popular hex removal skills used these days. What about the others? Why aren't they used? To begin with, any hex removal that has a target restriction (cannot target self or only targets self) is impractical as removing hexes (and covers sometimes) from allies is commonly required.
- Remove Hex Inferior to Cure Hex. Cure Hex's ability to heal is immeasurable in comparison to a slightly longer recharge. In any case, you have a 40% HSR on Cure Hex if you have proper weapons and only 20% HSR on Remove Hex. Also, since this is unlinked to any attribute, you cannot get a 40$ HCT either. The skill is sometimes used on part monks (R/Mo, W/Mo, ...) in Random Arena as a viable counter to hexes such as Faintheartedness.
- Purge Signet If this skill wasn't ridiculously long to cast and easily disruptable by a skill rupter, using it on a low set would be somewhat viable to counter hex stacking. The recharge time is also too high to be worth a skill slot. I was personally using this instead of Cure Hex during the Vor+Backfire + IOP Mezzes days in Random Arenas.
- Divert Hexes I still don't understand why all the good hex removal skills are Elite Skills. Divert Hexes is very good, but having to waste an elite slot to counter hex stacking just doesn't cut it. However, if you're running Shovespike, enjoy the strength of this RC-like hex removal.
- Hexbreaker Aria Most hexes that need removal will target either your healing backline or your frontlines. Therefore, the "spell" requirement is a problem. If it were "skill", I'm sure a lot of players would run this. Add a spec in Leadership and 50% failure below the spec as well as a short recharge and this skill could see some uses.
- Inspired Hex 20 seconds is too long a recharge in the current
GuildBuild Wars. Back in Prophecies, that was viable (as well as a counter to Diversion) but hex powercreep owned the skill.
- Withdraw Hexes What the Fuck? They still don't get it. The elite skills of the backliners are Word of Healing and Restore Condition (GvG-wise). Why did they do another Divine Favor Elite Hex Removal? On top of that, they added a retarded functionality. "Hey guy, wouldn't it be very skillful for players to coordinate a ball to remove Hexes? Yea, let's do it!" No retards, positioning takes a lot of TIME, a resource that is very valuable in this game and by the TIME your team goes back to their ideal position, they will be hexed again or dead because you balled in Savannah Heat and got meteor'ed. I mean really, they won't balance anything if they only make ELITE hex removals.
- Signet of Removal Omfg....they're fucking clueless.
- Reverse Hex This skill blows. It's not even half of what a Protection Prayers "Cure Hex" should be.
- Convert Hexes Why is there a restriction to targeting? Would that be overpowered or something? 15 energy is way too much anyway.
- Blessed Light I'm sick of this shit. Did you notice how many Elite Hex Removal spells are out there? I'll spell it out clearly. Wasting an elite skill to counter overpowered hexway setups will make you lose against any non-hexway as well as reducing your team's effectiveness. There, Simple, no?
All the self-targeting-only hex removals aside, there are 22 hex removal skills (not counting enemy skills that can remove the hexes they cast on you) out of which 8 are elite, 11 are linked to a primary attribute or unlinked, 15 are in the Monk profession and the other 7 in the Mesmer profession. As a reminder, Mesmers interrupt hexes (Please correct my counting on the talk page if I'm wrong).
In the end, many hex removals are simply not viable. Good options are mostly PnH, Cure Hex and Holy Veil. As a counter to the Seeping Wound meta, Empathic removal is great. Remove Hex is viable on non-healers or Ritualists. I'll give some insight on how to make hex removal skills better although I will also do it later.
- Reverse Hex Enchantment Spell, 5 energy, 1/2 Casting, 12 recharge, Remove 1 Hex from target ally, If a Hex was removed this way, for 10 seconds, the next hex spell that targets this ally fails, is disabled for 10 second and this enchantment ends.
- Convert Hexes 10 energy, 1/4 Casting, 15 recharge, Remove 1..2..3 Hexes from target ally. (should remove 2 at 8 in protection prayers, aka primary healer with guardian)
- Purge Signet Signet, 1 Casting, 15 Recharge, Remove all hexes and conditions from target ally, lose 10 energy for each condition and hex removed.
- Blessed Light Elite Spell, 5 energy, 3/4 cast, 6 recharge, heal target ally for 10...114...140 and remove a hex. The hex is disabled from the caster's bar for an additional 5 seconds.
Those are basic (as unbalanced as the hexes) suggestions.
Knockdowns, aka KDs, are known for their versatility in the game. With a base duration of 2 seconds, any foe affected by a KD will fall on the floor and be interrupted of his current action and unable to attack/cast spells during the duration of the KD. Warriors, with the Stonefist insignia lengthening knockdown duration by 1 second up to 3 seconds, are by nature the best knockdown characters in the game for their solid balance of knockdowns and damage. They also hold the longest PvP knockdown of 4 seconds under Hammer Mastery called Backbreaker. In PvP, most Warriors will typically fit in one of those categories:
- Axe Warrior with up to 2 knockdowns (Bull's Strike and Shock, Coward)
- Hammer Warriors have up to 4 knockdowns [3 typically] (Elite KD, Hammer Bash/Heavy Blow, Bull's Strike and possibly Iron Palm/Shock). While it's possible to have more than that, damage would be greatly hindered.
- Sword Warriors with 0 or 1 KD (Shock or Bull's Strike usually)
- Weird Warrior with Weapon swaps/Spear/Scythe
- Nubs with 0-8 KDs.
A single KD from a Warrior will shutdown any foe for 3 seconds. Since Time is very valuable in Guild Wars, 3 seconds is quite a lot. While knockdowns are deadly on healing characters, they are also used to prevent offensive characters from doing anything. In the case of hexway, knocking down the hexing spellcasters is an easy way to counter their effectiveness to a certain level. In fact, a KD such as shock can be used purposefully to interrupt the casting of a spell. This is harder to pull off with Hammer Knockdowns (exception being Yeti Smash) because they are quite slow. When a hexing spellcaster is trained and knocked down, he will be shutdown'ed for short periods of time during which he will not be able to cast any spell. Typically, he will try using skills in order for you to get off him (Insidious Parasite for instance, Grasping Earth) especially if he does not get protted/healed. He might also attempt a run for his life, which is when Warriors should land a Bull's Strike and kill him. The hexing character might start using his energy on self-healing skills such as Ether Feast in order to increase his survivability instead of casting hexes. Some people will switch to a shield set and cast on it when trained, self-stripping their ability to get HCT (unless proper quick weapon swaps), making interrupting those hexes with other knockdowns or interrupts (next section) easier.
Caster knockdowns (Gale, Meteor, Stoning, ...) are far less effective to disrupt the play of a hexing character. First of all, because they cannot be used as much as physical based knockdowns, have a shorter duration and long casting times (for some). Those KDs don't tend to make affected players kite (positioning takes time and time is a valuable resource) [unless stoning spam really], hence why they have less impact than melee based KDs.
Shutting down the Hexes
As I've stated previously, Interrupts cannot reasonably deal with all the hexes in the game, notably because of HCT, FC and very short casting times. However, they will nevertheless remain a viable skillful option to counter hex overload. A proper interrupt on an important hex (Faintheartedness for instance) will change the tides of a game around. However, if luck goes in the favor of the Necromancer, he might get a HCT and the ranger will (should) be fainted for the rest of the game unless the Ranger's Monk is actually good at the game and can remove important hexes with the Ranger calling them.
Shutdown comes in many forms: Physical Interrupts, Spell Interrupts, Skill Disabling, Knockdown, Failure and Shutdown Hexes.
- Physical Interrupts: Rangers and Warriors both have plenty of physical interrupts. The weakness of this type of interrupt is the required "range" and necessity for the interrupt to land. By "Range", I mean that a Warrior must be in melee range of the foe he wants to interrupt. As for Rangers, they need a proper line of sight in order to interrupt. If the target is under a Block percentage, physical interrupts can miss (so many Dchops on Woh I couldn't land because of Guardian). Any anti-melee such as Faintheartedness and Blind is also a counter to this kind of interrupt. All things considered, Warriors are not viable interrupters. Rangers have spammable effective interrupts. A Ranger can interrupt far more than what Caster Interrupts can do but is balanced by the physical downsides I've listed.
- Caster Interrupts: typically inferior to physical interrupts in term of spammability, caster interrupts usually have a decent side-effect as well as activating faster than physical interrupts. They are Ranged, do not require any line of sight and cannot fail other than by trying to interrupt through an anti-interrupt. The only restriction they have is the "spell" requirement, although many caster interrupts can deal with any skills with an activation time.
- Skill Disabling: The best example of this is certainly Psychic Distraction. It acts as an interrupt-like way to disable skills with an activation time. Arcane Thievery, Signet of Humility and Diversion are all ways to disable skills without necessarily interrupting them. I place those kind of skills in the interrupt line because they prevent the use of certain skills by a way or another.
- Knockdown: see the section above.
- Shutdown Hexes: Some Hexes shut down the ability of others to use Hexes. Diversion, for instance, can disable someone's ability to use a skill for quite a long time. Visions of Regret and Backfire will make any willing caster sacrifice his health in order to cast hex spells.
- Failure: This is pretty scarce throughout the skills of this game, although a popular "Fail" is Shame.
All things considered, Warriors aren't reliable direct-interrupters but they can KD, Rangers have a huge interrupting potential coped up by the difficulty of landing interrupts on important skills on different characters, Mesmers excel at skill disabling, are less predictable than Rangers but cannot interrupt as much as them and that's about it. If you plan to deal with hexway in 8v8 through shutting down the hexes, have a Ranger and a Mesmer. A typical strategy effective against hexway is to clean your physicals as much as possible at the beginning of the game and have them apply pressure (damage, interrupts, knockdowns, etc) on the enemy hex spellcasters. With proper coordination, pressure should get through and since hexways have a lot of 60 Al squishy Casters, scoring kills should not be a problem. Hexways tend to win long games by massive team degeneration and shutdown.
Party Heals have been a broken issue in Guild Wars since Prophecies. When too strong and overly present, they turn the metagame into a balanced-spike state where killing is typically done by spikes. Party Heals make random damage spread pretty useless and destroy pressure builds (Overly Defensive Team Setups too). Hexways tend to make the whole party degen to death. Proper party heals can own any hexway, just clean the frontline.
- Ritual Lord + Rejuvenation This skill combination is too good to exist.
- Protective Was Kaolai Well this one is balanced...
- Life Yep, this one too
- Healer's Boon + Heal Party Uh...Heal Party's recharge should NOT be 2 seconds.
- There are others but they fail so bad they're not worth mentioning.
- It's impossible to know exactly how badly hexstacked someone is/what hexes are on your allies without the mean of communication. This typically means that if you want hex removing to be effective, log in a voice program and tell your monk to remove his veil when you get a bad hex. Otherwise, he'll remove parabond. If communication wasn't needed to effectively remove hex because of a in-game feature allowing you to see what hexes and conditions (the status bar basically) are on allies, then smart decisions concerning hexstacks could be made instead of wasting hex removals on skills like parabond and life siphon when Faintheartedness and Spoil Victor are around. Hell, stacking hexes is by far easier than removing the important ones through coordinated play: hexways have the obvious cutting edge here.
- Hexes and conditions. Hexes have increased effectiveness with conditions too. Faintheartedness + Enfeeble for instance is a useless physical for 23 seconds. Lingering Curse + Wounding strike = massive reduction of healing effectiveness on at least 5 people. Top it off by your low armor Dervish who should survive pretty well because every physical that could slaughter him is hexstacked to uselessness.
- Fast Cast: Fast Cast is pretty balanced in the Mesmer line. Not anywhere else. FC should not apply as well (perhaps half the bonus) to secondary professions because single-attribute bars are much better when they're faster. (Problem that was recently fixed. 5 years too late. Better late than never.)
- Hexways typically rhyme with Mesmer and Necromancer, two professions heavy in enchantment removals, see next section.
- Some teams use hexes. They're not necessarily hexway. Hexes, like any element of the game should be at an obvious disadvantage when overly present. Ever played 3 Warriors + 1 Monk in RA? You insta-lose the milli-second you face a Necromancer. That's fine. Why don't you insta win versus 2 Necros and a Mesmer when you have some sort of balanced setup? Yeah, you get the picture. Hexes are too versatile as a whole.
- An obvious Mesmer play style is to cast a hex (empathy for instance) and then interrupt the hex removal on the monk. Unless you have PnH on your bar, if you're running good hex removals, they are easy to interrupt. Another +1 for hexways.
This article is starting to be lengthy for such an obvious theme. Nevertheless, here goes a part about enchantment removals.
Enchantments are much like hexes, except the fact that they can only be applied to allies. They serve many different functions and can be covered by more-or-less spammable cover enchantment(s) such as Aura of Restoration and Mirage Cloak. In the Enchantment vs Enchantment Removal thing, enchants are fairly easy to use, although some are easily disrupt-able (Attunements for instance). Suppose that you are playing a team setup with some characters relying on enchantments to be more efficient, then you will quickly learn that this game is filled with imbalanced enchant removals. The typical example for this is Channeling healers that have been going on in Tombz for 5 years. They manage energy pretty damn well, but if they get perma-stripped of channeling and start taking half-decent pressure, they collapse. Moreover, Elementalists typically rely on their Attunement in order to manage energy. If you think Fire Ele is imbalanced because of very high AoE damage, then I hope you know that shutting down the e-management of the ele will fuck him up quite bad. While I agree Fire Eles as a whole are too good, any build highly reliant on enchantments, upon facing hexway should be greatly hindered. Hexway typically goes along Mesmer and Necromancer, two profession heavily filled with enchantment removals.
As a whole, enchantment removals are too strong. Let's analyze a couple of examples.
- Rend Enchantments This skill had a purpose back in the days: to destroy UW solo farming. Did it work? No. Not only it did not fix solo farming in underworld, it messed up the PvP World so fucking badly. Remove 5...8...9 enchantments from target ally....uh WTF!? Yeah 55 UW was a build heavily relying on enchantments. What about PvP? "Pressure their Ghostly" "Ok he's heavily protted, Rend Spike in 4 3 2 1 bam dead". That's about it, really. Rend is the ultimate counter to anything based on enchantment(s). Non-elite, no drawback (you read me right), doesn't require any speccing in Curses and just downright overpowered. "Rend the HB monk and rip the prot, that's your only job" is something I've been told one day because I was a PuG for a couple of people who apparently had shit Necros before me. Easy job is easy right? Yep, it's ridiculously easy and enough to fuck up channeling Tombz healers. 25/90 and add scaling if you're planning to keep this functionality. I'm serious.
- Strip Enchantment This skill has terrible scaling. Anyone can afford speccing 8 points in Blood Magic for an OP enchant removal. 15 recharge? Jesus Christ, make it more impossible for eles to maintain attunements for a split second. Good thing blood magic is quite underpowered....oh wait...they buffed it.
- Gaze of Contempt Why did they make an inferior version of Rend?
- Pain of Disenchantment Another enchant removal with a terribly short recharge. At least this one is fucking elite. Inferior to Rend anyways....or not. Not only this cleans massive pre-prots (up to 3) but it also deals damage. I'm still wondering why this hasn't been used more. Perhaps the energy cost?
- Shattering Assault Fix skill description to: your team has no prot for the rest of the game.
- Order of Apostasy Good thing they added a drawback.
- Rip Enchantment Do Necros really need more enchantment removals? I mean...really? Give this a 25 recharge, no less.
- Shatter Storm Rend Enchantments with some sort of balance mechanism. (Rend is still better)
- Shatter Enchantment Can you believe that skill was part of an old meta game? 15 energy, 25 recharge and armor-ignoring damage, ideal for a spike. Looks balanced to me.
The fact that they failed to notice that Rend was overpowered during 5 years is just plain damn fail. I know some top GvG players were giving shit arguments (not gonna give names) that Rend was balanced long time ago and others were requesting a nerf Anet apparently sided with the winners of the maT who used it to win. No shit. Adding more powercreep on enchant stripping was overkill and un-needed.
What Hexways do
- Strip all enchants off your team
- Shut down your physicals with hexes
- Shut down your casters and healers with hexes
- Deal Armor-Ignoring damage with hexes
- Reduce the healing effectiveness of their enemies with hexes (and Wounding Strike)
- Overload your team with hexes, important ones should always be covered
- Kill you with hexes
- Snare you with hexes
- Force you to take damage from hexes
- Waste your time with hexes
- Make your hex removal useless with hexes
- Rupt your hex removals
- **** you with hexes (wait what)
And most importantly
- They Win Games.
In my eyes, hexway is just a hex version of the gimmick heavy-physical IWAY. As with IWAY, they don't want it to be balanced but that's because the problem is large (powercreep says hello). You don't need to be good to win games with it but it's less broken than IWAY.
Hexways should be losing games unless played by talented players, not winning games when played by gimmick nubs. If you play 5 physicals, you should lose versus balanced because their anti-melee will shine against you. If you play 4 hexers and 1 frontline, WHERE IS THE OBVIOUS COUNTER? Like really you can't prot reliably versus casters damage and armor-ignoring damage. You can't enfeeble or daze casters reliably. I mean yeah cool you can rupt but the second you start missing them you get perma fainted. Hexing shit is hella fucking easy. Moreover, the only "risk" or "difficulty" in hexing is to get interrupted but with this, it should not be a problem. Hexes do everything better with no downside whatsoever. They force the use of hex removals, heals, RC vs imbastrike and even fuck up your offense. Holy Veil aside, you can't prot anything against hexes, armor-ignoring damage and reduced healing effectiveness kills you. Anything amazingly strong should have an obvious easy counter in the game. That's basic game balance 101. If something is ridiculously strong, make it hard to play. Playing Hexway is 1/10 on a easy to hard scale. See a Problem? The only thing that balances hexway is the fact that wiping the opposing party is not the objective of every PvP maps. Yep, that's it. The only thing balanced about IWAY is that you can't hold Halls with it. Same shit, different pile.