How to create a good PvE build


This guide explains some basic principles that can be applied to nearly every good PvE build for instanced content like Dungeons, Fractals and Raid. They are based on the assumption that you have a full party with a good composition.

Basic Principles

Before getting involved in any sort of mathematical calculations, there are a few principles you should have in mind.

As offensive as possible, as defensive as necessary

Taking more defensive traits/gear than you need, results in less damage and a slower killtime. A slower killtime may result in deaths for your fellow players, because their active defense runs out and the likelihood of someone making a lethal mistake increases. Dodging counts as active defense and in a lot of cases, that's all you need. So your build should use every trait that increases your damage. Most of the times these are damage modifiers under a certain condition (e.g. when wielding a sword), other times it's an increase of an offensive stat. When creating a condition build you will most likely choose all those traits that increase your condition damage, either by duration increase or by gaining additional condition stacks (of course only conditions that deal damage). Your utilities should increase your damage as well. Only exception to these rules is if by sacrificing personal dps your party dps will increase.

If your class is good in providing active defenses that will help your team survive, include them as a variant. These variant's will only be used when the encounter requires it. Most often it's enough to pick defensive utilities but in some cases the group might benefit if you switch a trait. You should always try to lose as less damage as possible by going more defensive.

More on passive and active defense
  • Passive defenses include defensive stats as well as traits like
    Geomancer's Defense Geomancer's Defense
    Geomancer's Defense.pngGeomancer's Defense
    You take less damage from foes within close range.
    Damage.pngDamage Reduced: 10%
    Book.pngRange Threshold: 360
    . Try to avoid those if you have better options.
  • Popular active defense mechanisms include reflect and projectile absorb as well as blindness, condition remove and a good timed aegis. If you can provide any of them without losing much damage, take them if necessary.

A good build is more than the sum of its parts

Your traits should have a synergy. Take the traits

Powerful Aura Powerful Aura
Powerful Aura.pngPowerful Aura
When you apply an aura to yourself, grant that aura to all nearby allies as well.
Targets.pngNumber of Targets: 5
Radius.pngRadius: 600

and

Unstable Conduit Unstable Conduit
Unstable Conduit.pngUnstable Conduit
Overloading an attunement grants an aura based on the element you're attuned to when the ability is completed.
Fire Attunement.pngFire Shield.pngFire Shield (4s): Enveloped in a fiery shield that burns foes, grants might each time you are struck (1-second cooldown per attacker).
Water Attunement.pngFrost Aura.pngFrost Aura (4s): -10% Incoming Damage.
Air Attunement.pngShocking Aura.pngShocking Aura (4s): Stun nearby attacking foes with an electric shock (only once per 2 seconds for each attacker).
Earth Attunement.pngMagnetic Aura.pngMagnetic Aura (4s): Reflect projectiles with magnetic energy.

as an example. One grants yourself more auras, the other spreads those aura to your allies. If you use those traits together, they enhance one another. Damage modifiers are another good example, because they are multiplied. So two 10% damage modifiers result in 21% more damage instead of 20% more damage.

You're not alone

Don't try to do everything. Maybe you want to provide some might for your party, but instead of switching to an inferior weapon or to drop some damage traits, you could just let another party member of your group do the job. Different classes have different buffs and defensive capabilities they can bring to the table. Just concentrate on what your class can do naturally without much effort and let the others do as well.

Gear

If you have decided on a weapon and have your traits set up you might wonder what stats, runes and sigil will result in the highest damage output. Depending on your class and build you may have avoided using some maths until now. I'm sorry but this is about to change. Now you have to consider which critical chance you should aim for, how to achieve 100% condition duration and which food you should take.

Assumptions

For the following calculations you always assume that your group will provide:

  • 25 Stacks of Might Might
  • 100% Fury Fury uptime
  • 25 Stacks of Vulnerability Vulnerability
  • Empower Allies Empower Allies
    Empower Allies.pngEmpower Allies
    Increase power for nearby allies.
    Empower Allies.pngEmpower Allies (9s): Increases power of nearby allies by 150 points.
    Radius.pngInterval: 3 seconds
    Radius.pngRadius: 600
    Book.pngCombat Only
  • Banner of Discipline Banner of Discipline
    1Activation.png
    120Recharge.png
    Banner of Discipline
    Banner. Place a banner that improves precision and critical damage for you and nearby allies.
    Banner of Discipline.pngBanner of Discipline: 170 Precision, 170 Ferocity
    Targets.pngNumber of Targets: 10
    Duration.pngDuration: 90 seconds
    Radius.pngEffective Radius: 600
    Combo.pngCombo Finisher: Blast
    Range.pngRange: 600
    +
    Banner of Strength Banner of Strength
    1Activation.png
    120Recharge.png
    Banner of Strength
    Banner. Place a banner that improves power and condition damage for you and nearby allies.
    Banner of Strength.pngBanner of Strength: 170 Power, 170 Condition Damage
    Targets.pngNumber of Targets: 10
    Duration.pngDuration: 90 seconds
    Radius.pngEffective Radius: 600
    Combo.pngCombo Finisher: Blast
    Range.pngRange: 600

Depending on group constellation and content you can also assume:

  • Assassin's Presence Assassin's Presence
    Assassin's Presence.pngAssassin's Presence
    Increase the ferocity of nearby allies.
    Assassin's Presence.pngAssassin's Presence (9s): Increases ferocity of nearby allies by 150 points.
    Radius.pngRadius: 600
    Book.pngCombat Only
  • Spotter Spotter
    Spotter.pngSpotter
    Increases precision of nearby allies.
    Spotter.pngIncreased Precision (9s): 150 Precision
    Radius.pngInterval: 3 seconds
    Radius.pngRadius: 600

Caps

  • Critical chance, condition duration and boon duration is capped at 100%. So everything above 100% are wasted stats.
  • For condition builds you should try to reach 100% condition duration. Depending on your build condition duration may be different for different conditions. When in doubt try to maximize those conditions you rely on the most.
  • For critical chance you should aim for 65% or 73%. You will reach 100% crit chance with
    Banner of Discipline Banner of Discipline
    1Activation.png
    120Recharge.png
    Banner of Discipline
    Banner. Place a banner that improves precision and critical damage for you and nearby allies.
    Banner of Discipline.pngBanner of Discipline: 170 Precision, 170 Ferocity
    Targets.pngNumber of Targets: 10
    Duration.pngDuration: 90 seconds
    Radius.pngEffective Radius: 600
    Combo.pngCombo Finisher: Blast
    Range.pngRange: 600
    and fury when you have 73% personal crit chance. If you have
    Spotter Spotter
    Spotter.pngSpotter
    Increases precision of nearby allies.
    Spotter.pngIncreased Precision (9s): 150 Precision
    Radius.pngInterval: 3 seconds
    Radius.pngRadius: 600
    as well, 65% personal crit chance is enough to reach 100%. Don't forget to include traits in the calculation that will increase your crit chance. Those won't be displayed in the tooltips if they depend on some condition.
    • If you want to prepare for both scenarios (with or without
      Spotter Spotter
      Spotter.pngSpotter
      Increases precision of nearby allies.
      Spotter.pngIncreased Precision (9s): 150 Precision
      Radius.pngInterval: 3 seconds
      Radius.pngRadius: 600
      ) taking precision food without and power food with Spotter is a good solution. A second weapon set with accuracy sigill is another good option.

* Ingame tooltips might show you values above these caps, but it's the display that is wrong.

Stat Conversion

  • For every 21 points of precision, you gain 1% critical chance.
  • For every 15 points of ferocity, you gain 1% critical damage.
  • For every 15 points of expertise, you gain 1% condition duration.
  • For every 15 points of concentration, you gain 1% boon duration.

Effective Power

To compare power damage based on gear you will want to maximize your effective power. Effective Power can be calculated using the following formula:

Critical Chance = (Precision-895)/2100
EffectivePower = (1-criticalChance) * Power + criticalChance * Power * (1.5 + ferocity / 1500)

You have to insert the values with all buffs applied for the formula. So if you have 2000 power you have to add another 25*30=750 power if you have 25 might stacks . Same goes for all other buffs. Also remember to adjust your critical chance if you have traits or gear that give you a flat increase of critical chance. To take damage modifiers into account, you have to multiply them with the resulting Effective Power. If you have a 10% and a 15% damage modifier and 4000 effective power those will lead to 4000*1,1*1,15=5060 Effective Power.

You cannot use these values to compare how much damage different builds or different professions do. However for the same build with the same rotation you can use it to compare damage dealt by using different gear. For example:

  • A 10% increase in Effective Power will result in 10% more damage.
  • A variant with 6000 Effective Power compared to 3000 Effective Power will double your damage.

Don't forget this only works for power based builds as condition damage is not taken into account!

Easy explanation of the formula
Critical Chance = (Precision-895)/2100
  • You have 0% crit chance when you have 895 precision. So you subtract those 895 from your precision as only everything above 895 will increase your chance to critically hit.
  • Be aware that the Hero panel in game is off by 1%
  • You gain 1% critical chance for 21 precision. So you have to divide the above result by 21.
  • The formula needs the critical chance as number between 0 and 1. So we also have to divide the critical chance by 100.
EffectivePower = (1-criticalChance) * Power + criticalChance * Power * (1.5 + ferocity / 1500)
  • The first term (everything until the first +) represents the damage and chance for a non critical hit.
    • If you subtract the critical chance (remember its a number between 0 and 1) from 1 you receive the chance to land a non critical hit. If you have 83% crit chance this would be 1-0,83=0,17. With those 17% non critical hits and 83% critical hits, all 17%+83%=100% hits are considered in the calculation.
    • The non critical chance multiplied with your power will result in the Effective Power of your non critical hits.
  • The second term represents the damage and chance for a critical hit.
    • The term in the bracket represents the extra damage dealt by a critical hit. Even without any ferocity a critical hit will do 50% more damage than a non critical hit. That's why you multiply with 1,5. To this value you have to add the extra critical damage gained by ferocity. Every 15 points in ferocity grants you 1% more critical damage. To express the per cent value as number between 0 and 1 we need to divide it by 100 again. That's why ferocity is divided by 15*100=1500.
    • This value is again multiplied with power and the chance to critically hit to gain the Effective Power of critical hits.
  • By adding those two terms you will get your overall Effective Power representing the average damage dealt.


There are some good tools, that might help you to calculate Effective Power. Understanding how Effective Power is calculated is highly recommended as it will prevent mistakes you might make by using this tools. A good example would be on how to adjust the inserted values for fury that grants you 30% of critical chance instead of 20% for the revenant.

  • Use GW2Power Tool to calculate Effective Power. All group buffs can be picked separately so a lot of times you can simply insert your power, precision and ferocity values and click on the desired buffs.
  • gw2skills.net Editor is recommended to get your base power, precision and ferocity values.

Conditions

The conditions that deal damage scale differently with condition damage. For a level 80 character condition damage per tick can be calculated by the following formulas:

Burning Damage = (0.155 * Condition Damage) + 131.5
Poison Damage = (0.06 * Condition Damage) + 33.5
Bleeding Damage = (0.06 * Condition Damage) + 22
Confusion Damage (passive) = (0.035 * Condition Damage) + 10 
Confusion Damage (on skill activation) = (0.0625 * Condition Damage) + 49.5 
Torment Damage (not moving) = (0.045 * Condition Damage) + 15.9
Torment Damage (moving) = (0.09 * Condition Damage) + 31.8

Additionally to these conditions a necromancer using

Terror Terror
Terror.pngTerror
Fear deals damage; it deals additional damage if the target is afflicted with another condition.
Damage.pngDamage - conditions: 444
Damage.pngDamage - no conditions: 296

can do damage with fear :

Fear Damage = (0.4 * Condition Damage) + 444

While Burning scales best with condition damage, it might not always be best to focus on it. Always compare stacks and duration of the skills that apply the conditions. If you can generate 30 bleeding stacks but only 4 burning stacks on average, it might be best to focus on the bleeding duration if you can't have it all.

Confusion and torment are problematic in PvE as their damage is unreliable. Most of your targets won't move much, so a build focusing on torment will likely be of niche use only. As most enemies in PvE don't have a high attack speed you can only rely on confusions passive damage tick.

When it comes to armor Viper und Sinister are the best condition stats at the moment. Though the damage dealt by your conditions will scale better if you invest your stat points in condition damage than spending the same amount on expertise, Viper is still the better option because you lose only 15% of your condition damage stats but gain three times of the lost amount back as expertise stat. Obviously, as soon as you reach the 100% condition duration cap Sinister will be the better choice. Because food, traits, sigils and maybe runes can give you a great amount of condition duration focus on those first before complementing those choices with the right gear. If you have two different gear variants that max out condition duration and will lead to about the same condition damage, use the variant which results in better power damage.

Also don't underestimate the portion of power damage in a condition build. If there is no condition trait in one of the trait tiers, pick a trait that will increase your power damage instead. Likewise don't use any defensive stats because you think the condition damage stat is enough to make your build viable. The power damage is important as it can decide if your build can compete against other builds or not.

Tanking

Though you can create very defensive builds for every class which you can use to tank raid bosses, it is recommended to use a class that can survive fairly easily if using a damage build. You don't need very defensive stats, if you can block, dodge, use invulnerability or mitigate damage in other ways fairly often. Small adjustments like adding a little bit of toughness to hold aggro or changing a trait for more defense may be enough to survive easily.

Heal Builds

If you want to create a build to keep the healthbars of your raid team up you should plan for a great amount of variation as teams with skilled players who are well acquainted with the encounter will need significantly less healing than an inexperienced group. Your build should be able to keep the scholar buff up for both team constellation while trying not to overheal. If you're constantly healing for 4k where 2k would suffice, you should switch to a more offensive setup to help with DPS so you won't be an hindrance. As anyone should strive to be one of the former team and people will get better overtime use the more offensive setup as the standard version and include the other options as a variant so that everyone who reads the build can pick as much heal as his team needs.

A good healbuild should only have a low downtime where you can't heal as well as some small and big burst heals. Ideally you can also provide decent personal DPS or some offensive group buffs so that the build has an advantage over other heal builds.

While full offensive armor with 0 Healing Power will be enough for some teams, Zealot gear is a great compromise of DPS and Healing Power. Try to avoid Cleric gear otherwise your tank may need to use more toughness than necessary. Stacking Healing Power isn't the only options to increase your healing. You can also greatly increase your healing by stacking buffs that increase your outgoing healing, especially if your heal skills don't scale well with Healing Power. You can check how your heal skills scale with Healing Power by looking up the skill in the official wiki.

Damage Calculations

When you start comparing your build with others, wondering if it can compete, most people like to throw around some numbers of how much damage their build does. You should always view these numbers with a grain of salt. You can only compare numbers that were acquired on exactly the same way and even then using them as the ultimate measure for a build isn't a good idea. Builds that bring a lot of support like Might generally have lower personal DPS but they increase the overall group DPS and will likely be preferred over other builds if those support is not covered by the party yet.

If you see any numbers without explanation on how they were obtained, better don't trust them. Even if full groupbuffs were used for calculation, buffs like spotter, alacrity or quickness aren't used by everyone but can lead to a big discrepancy in the DPS.

There are two different approaches to calculate the DPS and both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

Spreadsheet

This is the theoretical approach to get your DPS. The DPS can be acquired by making a big spreadsheet calculating the DPS of every skill you can use in a specific time interval. How exactly such a spreadsheet calculation can be done is not covered here as it would go beyond the scope of this guide.

Advantages:

  • If you share your spreadsheet everyone can reproduce your numbers and check whether you made any errors.
  • You get the theoretical maximum DPS a build can produce.
  • You can spot even very slight differences in DPS with different rotations/gear and go for the optimum.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires a lot of work.
  • The resulting DPS may be far from achievable in a real scenario.
  • Doesn't cover how much damage a build loses in a real scenario where the enemy moves or you have to cancel attacks to dodge.

Ingame

To get the numbers ingame you calculate the damage dealt against a specific enemy. You can get the DPS by either summing up your DPS numbers from combat log manually or by using a DPS meter. There are two kinds of DPS meters you can use. The first one works by making multiple screenshots of your combat log per second and summing those values up. Unfortunately the values you get might not be that accurate, as it takes a few seconds until the program stops calculating after the fight and depending on your program settings damage values may got lost because you make many small hits that will immediately fill up your combat log or be counted double. The second kind of DPS meter is against the EULA as it receives the damage values from your computer's memory. You should not use this kind of DPS meter as it may result in an account ban.

Though its a pretty popular, using the indestructible PVP-Golem isn't a good way to get DPS values you can compare with each other. First of all not all stats/runes and sigils are available in the PvP-Lobby and you can't mix stats or runes at all. Even if can recreate your build in the PvP-Lobby you will get the numbers based on stats that are equivalent to lvl 78 exotics. Therefore your DPS will be much higher in PvE. Secondly this favors condition builds as power builds will gain much more by the higher strength value of ascended weapons .

Advantages:

  • You get realistic DPS numbers you can reach ingame.
  • Easy (and fast) way to get numbers.

Disadvantages:

  • You (or your party) might mess up and you get lower DPS values than you could reach.
  • You can't spot very small DPS differences as they may be the result of RNG.
  • Depending on how you calculate the DPS the values may be inaccurate.
  • You need help from other players to get all group buffs.
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