Introduction to Raiding

Disclaimer: This guide is aimed at beginner-intermediate level raiders. The “rules” set out here will often have exceptions, but these exceptions will almost always apply to high-skill groups. In the interest of brevity, these have been omitted under the assumption that groups to which the exceptions would apply will already be aware of them.

Overview

This guide aims to be an introduction to raiding in Guild Wars 2. It will cover the various roles that classes will commonly fulfill within a raid, and how these roles were settled on. For new groups, there will be an explanation of how to set up a squad for an encounter and provide some good builds for new players. If there are unfamiliar terms, the glossary may be of assistance.


Roles

When tackling raid encounters, one of the key ingredients to a successful kill is having an effective team composition. Like many RPGs, Guild Wars 2 features distinct roles similar to the “Holy Trinity”. However, Guild Wars 2 differs slightly in that it features a soft trinity of Damage, Support and Control. These map onto the traditional roles of DPS, Healing, and Tanking, but with some additional functions.


Damage

Deals damage. Damage (or DPS) is ultimately the most important, and focused role within a raid and the majority of actions of Support and Control players will be aimed at enabling the DPS players to do their job. The design of attributes in Guild Wars 2 is such that damage roles will focus on either power or condition damage. The two types differentiate themselves as follows (with some exceptions):

Power - bursts damage in a short duration and hence suits fights with short phases. A few bosses also have low toughness, which strongly benefits power builds.
Condition - takes some time to ramp up their damage, but deals more long-term and so are suited to fights with longer phases. Some condition builds apply Confusion Confusion or Torment Torment, which deal extra damage when the target activates skills or stands still. Builds that inflict these conditions are able to deal damage very quickly on suitable bosses.

The best DPS classes will vary from encounter to encounter and group to group, so there is a lot of variety within this role.


Support

Support comes in two main flavors - boon support and healing. These flavors are not mutually exclusive.

Boon Support - provides boons to the squad.
Healing - keeps the squad alive.

Support players are often tasked with handling mechanics in fights, as they typically have downtime in which they do not need to be healing or applying boons.

As will be discussed in this guide, some supports are significantly more effective than other options, so many groups will run the same core group of supports on most encounters.


Control

As a role, control usually manifests as the tank. It also refers to control effects (CC), and while this is rarely a dedicated role in itself it can inform the optimal builds fulfilling the other roles.

Tanking in raids is very binary - there will be a single requirement, and whichever player fulfils that requirement will be the tank. It is most common for the tank to be the player with the highest toughness stat, though other encounters have the tanking based on proximity, randomly assigned, use of specific Special Action Keys, or have no tank at all. It is extremely rare that control will be a role in itself, as will be explained below the functions of control are usually handled by Damage or Support players.

As such, the role of tank will usually be assigned to the most suitable class of those the squad has already taken to the encounter.

A kiter may be considered a sub-role of tank. Rather than control the boss’s aggro, they will typically be the target of a particular mechanic, though the exact requirements of the role vary greatly depending on the encounter.


Role Fundamentals

This section covers two fundamental goals that define how the previously described roles are best covered. While the two goals may seem contradictory, both must be considered when defining builds or compositions.


Role Specialization

One of the biggest stumbling blocks when moving from open world to raids is the need to unlearn much of what Guild Wars 2 teaches players while leveling: That classes are built to be self-sufficient, and able to perform all three roles at once.

Team-based game modes such as raids promote role specialization (particularly in DPS players), as focusing on one particular role will be much more effective than multiple players all trying to fill multiple roles.

Put clearly - a player on a damage role is there to deal damage. Sacrificing that damage to improve personal healing or survivability lowers the effectiveness of the entire group, as the lower the damage, the longer the boss will take to kill. The longer the boss is alive, the more mechanics will occur that have the chance to cause a wipe. With Guild Wars 2’s active defense there are practically no mechanics that cannot be avoided with skill, mitigated through encounter mechanics, or out-healed by healers.

Team members must be trusted to fulfill their roles, and not plan for failure by pre-emptively covering for others' mistakes. Adjusting a build to be less specialized should be a reaction to failure rather than in anticipation of it.

This is the reason why it is often recommended to run a “meta” build. These builds are optimized to perform their roles in the most effective ways possible. In cases where builds have options to fulfill other roles as well, this will have been chosen such that it has the minimum impact on their primary role, with the maximum gain of the supplementary role.

As previously stated, of the three roles damage is the most common to focus utterly on just one role.


Role Compression

Where damage is concerned, more is always better. With support, however, a build can provide more healing or boons than is necessary. Where this is the case, supports will often partially fill other roles, though their priority should always be the primary role.

A good approach to support builds (and team compositions in general) is: “As offensive as possible, as defensive as necessary”.

Tanking is almost always a “compressed” role. Many classes in Guild Wars 2 come with sufficient active defense to survive as tank (aided by healers) without the need to build for survivability at all, and so the tank role will be fulfilled by a damage or support (typically a support).


Group Requirements

Aside from the specific requirements required for each encounter, there are a number of common effects that groups should seek to provide on (nearly) every encounter.


Essential Boons

One of the key support aspects that every group should fulfill is providing certain essential boons. These boons are considered essential because of the huge damage increase each provides - if a class could provide just one of these boons to the group it would be worth taking instead of a DPS player even if it did literally nothing else. In practice though, most boon supports can provide multiple boons.

Might Might - Might provides a massive damage boost to both power and condition damage builds.
Quickness Quickness - Quickness speeds up (almost) all actions in the game, allowing players to get more skills into a smaller window of time. This is of huge benefit to all players.
Alacrity Alacrity - Lowers the cooldown of all skills. Similar to quickness, this allows more skills to be activated within a smaller window of time and is of huge benefit to all players.
Fury Fury - Increases the chance to critically hit by 20%. Almost every power build will require fury to reach 100% crit chance. In addition to the damage boost, many builds have on-crit effects that form part of their rotation and it is especially important to those builds. Even condition damage builds frequently have on-crit effects that make the boon very strong.

A note on boon strip

At the start of a raid encounter, support classes should begin providing their essential buffs as soon as possible. However, all boons will be removed from players shortly after the encounter begins (varies from encounter to encounter, but usually within three seconds). This means that players providing boons need to wait until after this boon strip occurs before they begin.


Additional Buffs

Non-essential boons

The above boons are essential for every damage class, and should always be provided. Some builds rely on additional boons, and these should be provided when you have such builds. Generally, some amount of these boons will be provided by the class in question, but the higher uptime the better.

Swiftness Swiftness - Swiftness provides a damage boost to both power Weaver and Warriors using the Discipline traitline (both core and elite specializations).
Vigor Vigor - Vigor provides bonus condition damage to Mirage and increases the damage potential of both Daredevil and Mirage as their rotations involve frequent dodging.
Resolution Resolution - Power guardian builds (and elite specializations) gain multiple benefits from having Resolution.
Regeneration Regeneration - Mesmer builds that use the Chaos traitline gain multiple benefits from having Regeneration.


Defensive Boons

In addition to the above boons, there are a few that can be very useful in the right situations. Aegis and Stability in particular are still somewhat rare, so their presence in a build can be very potent.

Aegis Aegis - Blocks a single incoming attack. Providing this to your subgroup allows them to ignore certain mechanics that might otherwise require a dodge, which can result in higher damage and/or less chance of death when used at the right time.
Protection Protection - Reduces incoming strike damage by 33%. This is a massive boost to survivability that can easily make the difference between an attack one-shotting a player or not. Resolution Resolution works in a similar way against conditions, but the vast majority of damage will be strike damage.
Stability Stability - Works similarly to Aegis Aegis in that it allows for the ignoring of some mechanics. While it doesn't prevent damage, you can have multiple stacks on you at once, preventing multiple incoming control effects.


Essential conditions

While many classes benefit from particular conditions being on the target, the only truly essential condition is Vulnerability Vulnerability. Many builds (particularly power) provide enough Vulnerability Vulnerability to keep it capped on a boss, but in the event Vulnerability Vulnerability is not capped some adjustments will be required.

Druids can provide very high vulnerability by replacing Skirmishing with Marksmanship, and using both the trait and a to repeatedly trigger .


Pulls/Cleave

An aspect of role assignment that is often underappreciated. Around half the raid encounters feature enemies or objects that will spawn near the group and can either cause serious damage to the squad or waste the squad’s time dealing with them. Depending on the encounter the simplest solution is to use skills that pull enemies into the boss where they will be quickly killed by the DPS, or skills that hit targets over a large area so that enemies or objects will be defeated without the need to take focus off the boss.

Numerous skills can fulfil this function, but two in particular are worth mentioning due to their potency:

- A Chronomancer can take an offhand focus to access Temporal Curtain. The curtain itself can be placed at 900 range from the Chronomancer and activated a second time to pull up to five targets within 600 range to the centre of the curtain. Unlike other options, the pull is not restricted by line of sight, can pull to remote locations, and affects a larger AoE than most alternatives.
- A condition necromancer can take Epidemic as one of their utilities. This is a low-cooldown skill (when traited) that can hit up to 5 targets within 900 range of a primary target, copying conditions to them. With sufficient conditions on the main target, this is enough to kill the majority of additional enemies, thus offering an incredible amount of cleave without ever needing the necromancer to take focus off attacking the boss.

While the above options are strong in their own right, they can also be supplemented by additional skills. The following are worth mentioning as they are taken by support classes that many groups will already have in the group.

- Firebrand will normally take an axe for DPS or to provide Fury Fury. This skill is a moderate 600 range pull on three targets.
- A Ranger (typically a Druid) can take an offhand axe to gain this skill, which will pull three targets towards the player. The skill has a range of 1200 but will only pull targets 450 units as the axe returns, and is somewhat slow-moving.

While the above two skills are not strong on their own, they can be very effective when combined with Temporal Curtain - either by using them to pull foes closer after Temporal Curtain groups them up or by pulling additional foes that may have been missed by Temporal Curtain.

- If the squad has a Condi Berserker, then their longbow burst skill is Scorched Earth - a large 1,200 range AoE that deals a large amount of burning and can be used very frequently while is active. The AoE is divided into 5 separate sections, each of which has its own target cap, so the skill could theoretically hit up to 25 targets. The best use of this skill is for the Berserker to line themselves up so that the boss is between them and the target(s) to be cleaved. Not only will this allow for effective long-range cleave, but hitting multiple targets will provide higher stacks of , making this a DPS increase!


Squad Composition

All these factors will combine to define the structure of a squad. The vast majority of boons affect five targets. So there will need to be at least two sources to cover every player.

The examples below cover the most common options (at the time of writing). Other options may also be viable, particularly in regards to Might Might and Fury Fury.


Quickness

There are seven reliable sources of Quickness Quickness in the game - Catalysts, Chronomancers, Firebrands, Harbingers, Herald, Scrappers and Warriors (any elite specialization). Daredevil or Thief can also provide Quickness Quickness on raid encounters with the Detonate Plasma stolen skill (currently Matthias, Keep Construct (from the Projections), Mursaat Overseer, and Adina).

Catalyst deals a lot of damage, and can provide more quickness by adjusting their rotation. However, their only source of Quickness Quickness comes from a single skill every ~11 seconds, and missing it will leave a player completely without Quickness Quickness until the next application.

Chronomancer brings the option for excellent pulls and is a very effective tank due to the high amount of active defense and the ability to provide boons at range, meaning that they can be further from the group. However, their damage is lower than other options and Quickness Quickness generation relies on constant clone generation and shattering.

Firebrand’s Quickness Quickness is limited to a narrow cone and a small AoE around the Firebrand, and they do not have as strong a pull as a Chronomancer. However, they do good damage with a relatively simple rotation and also apply Quickness Quickness frequently and instantaneously, making them very reliable.

Harbinger is similar to firebrand in that it applies shorter duration Quickness Quickness more frequently and so are generally a reliable source. Unfortunately they rely on staying in shroud for long durations for good uptime, and taking too much damage in this mode can kick them out early. They also have a smaller boon application radius than other options.

Herald deals good damage with a rather fast-paced rotation, and brings a huge amount of supplementary boons - including high Might Might generation, which is a rarity in Quickness Quickness supports. More importantly, they have access to Revenant legends such as Jalis that can provide near-permanent Stability Stability or Ventari, that has a long-duration mobile projectile block. Finally, they can bring a staff in their off-set which gives access to - the most powerful CC in the game.

Scrapper provides AoE Quickness Quickness around it at regular intervals, making it more reliable than Chronomancer. However, it cannot provide boons at range, and has limited additional utility outside of Superspeed Superspeed.

Any Warrior specialization can provide Quickness Quickness via banners and the Discipline traitline. They are average in terms of reliability, DPS and utility, but they have a key benefit in that their banners can be dropped at 600 range. Once the AoE is taken into account this means that they can hit players up to 960 units away, which is over twice what any other build can manage (except Catalyst). When you also take into account that they only need to be used once every ~25s, this allows warrior to easily provide permanent Quickness Quickness uptime to their subgroup while dealing with mechanics off-stack.


Alacrity

There are eight reliable sources of Alacrity Alacrity in the game - Chronomancers, Mechanists, Mirages, Rangers (technically any ranger spec but Druid is most common), Renegades, Specters, Tempests and Willbenders.

Chronomancer has to run a very specific build and high boon duration in order to maintain Alacrity Alacrity, but it can provide boons at range and brings mesmer's powerful utility skills, which can be useful in some groups.

Druid can only really be run as a healer, but brings a great variety of boons and can provide more healing at range than other options. For a DPS alacrity ranger build, Untamed can abuse to get away with no boon duration and only two spirits, but the rotation is very difficult to pull off and provides almost no additional boons.

Even when focussing on damage, Mechanist provides a decent amount of incidental barrier, which can enable some groups to run with fewer healers. It also has access to some an on-demand source of Aegis Aegis and Stability Stability (albeit on a long cooldown), which can make it very potent on the right encounters.

The utility of Mirage is limited, but it is also capable of maintaining permanent Might Might on the squad, and applies a significant amount of Confusion Confusion which makes it a very strong DPS in its own right on certain bosses.

Renegade has many of the same benefits as Herald, but otherwise deals low damage and provides few additional boons in comparison so other Alacrity Alacrity options.

Similarly, Specter also provides a good amount of incidental barrier and has the option to target specific allies to support them directly, which can be very helpful for tanks in particular. With , they can provide a good range of boons, and deal a good amount of damage while doing so.

Tempests bring a wide variety of boons even when on DPS variants, but the necessity to complete long overloads to provide alacrity makes them struggle on encounters that may disrupt their rotation.

Willbender is the weakest option of the bunch. Its damage is average, and Alacrity Alacrity generation depends on constantly hitting the boss, making it significantly less versatile than other options. As such, it is by far the least common option used.


Might and Fury

Given that two boon supports are already required in each subgroup, per the rule of role compression it makes sense that between them they also provide Might Might and Fury Fury. With so many options it can be difficult to know how to cover everything - to that end, the table below covers the options along with the approximate Might Might, Fury Fury and Protection Protection they offer. The goal should be to pick a pair of supports that covers all four of the essential boons. Protection Protection is included as it is relatively common, and always useful.


What does this table mean Toggle

The table below shows the approximate boon uptimes each spec can provide in an ideal situation, colour-coded for convenience. In the case of Might Might and Fury Fury, most DPS classes have some amount of self-generation so cases where the provision should be sufficient are indicated too - at the time of writing this only applies to Catalyst Might Might and firebrand Fury Fury.

The assumed boon duration is included to allow you to estimate how provision would increase as you take more boon duration. The presented values are for DPS alacrity builds (where applicable), but where the heal variant has entirely new sources of boons they have been given a separate row (as in the case of Firebrand and Mechanist). Other heal builds simply provide more of the stated boons, or are niche enough that they have been omitted in the interest of readability.

The final column shows details on which extra boons the build provides. The focus is kept on boons here, as attempting to include details on all the benefits a class might provide would quickly cause the size of the table to balloon. See the individual build pages for details like this.


Boon Table

Quickness / Alacrity Might Fury Protection Assumed BD Notes / Additional boons
Catalyst Quickness 24 100% 0% 12%
Click for more details Toggle
  • You can trade ~11 might for ~80% Protection Protection by using instead of on the minor loop
  • Provides ~80% Swiftness Swiftness by attuning to air
  • Provides ~45% Resolution Resolution and ~50% Vigor Vigor from water sphere
Chronomancer Either 3 65% 0% 10%
Click for more details Toggle
Druid Alacrity 25 100% 100% 100%
Click for more details Toggle
Firebrand Quickness 7 80% 45% 20%
Click for more details Toggle
Firebrand (heal) Quickness 25 100% 100% 92%
Click for more details Toggle
Harbinger Quickness 12 100% 0% 20%
Click for more details Toggle
Herald Quickness 15 100% 100% 25%
Click for more details Toggle
  • Provides ~100% Swiftness Swiftness from
  • Can provide high Stability Stability uptime by taking
  • Can provide significantly more Might Might with some build adjustments
Mechanist Alacrity 25 100% 35% 50%
Click for more details Toggle
  • Using mace brings high Vigor Vigor uptime and some barrier
Mechanist (heal) Alacrity 25 100% 100% 100%
Click for more details Toggle
Mirage Alacrity 25 60% 0% 17%
Click for more details Toggle
Renegade Alacrity 0 0% 80% 85%
Click for more details Toggle
  • Can provide ~16 Might Might by sacrificing a bit of damage so you have the energy for 24px Heroic Command
  • Can provide ~55% Fury Fury by taking , but it is DPS loss on what is already a low DPS class
Scrapper Quickness 7 60% 35% 30%
Click for more details Toggle
Specter Alacrity 14 100% 0% 57%
Click for more details Toggle
Tempest Alacrity 25 0%* 100% 57%
Click for more details Toggle
  • Does not generate Fury Fury but can extend it on allies
  • Can provide permanent Swiftness Swiftness with and
  • Can provide on-demand Aegis Aegis or Stability Stability with or
Untamed Alacrity 0 55% 0% 16%
Click for more details Toggle
  • With some adjustments to the build it can bring a lot of Might Might as well
Warrior Quickness 7 100% 0% 0%
Click for more details Toggle
  • Spellbreaker generates an extra ~5 Might Might
  • Provides ~45% Resistance Resistance and some Stability Stability with but you need to use it off cooldown so it isn't reliable
  • Can provide Aegis Aegis and Barrier with but you need to use it off cooldown so it isn't reliable
Willbender Alacrity 3 100% 0% 20%
Click for more details Toggle


Healers

Depending on the boss, a squad may desire multiple healers. While groups should always be aiming to have as few healers as possible, as many as necessary should be taken.

In general, you want your boon supports to be the healers, but special mention must go to Scourge - while it has low healing and provides practically no boons, it has the strongest access to barrier in the game. Barrier effectively prevents the targets from taking damage and can even allow the group to survive some attacks that would otherwise instantly down players. Scourge also has access to , which will teleport downed players to your location and begin reviving them. This enables Scourge to save a group from situations that would otherwise be a wipe.


A note on reviving

It is important to note that reviving players from downed state is everyone’s responsibility - letting a player die because a DPS player won’t break their rotation will result in much lower DPS overall.

There are a few exceptions:

  • If reviving the player would get other players killed.
  • The tank should not revive as they will turn the boss towards the rest of the group, making matters worse.
  • Healers are well suited to reviving as healing % modifiers affect the speed of reviving. However, in cases where there is only one healer, the loss of healing on the remaining players can easily lead to more people being downed. With multiple healers, this is less risky, but you should still avoid having all healers reviving.

Of course, everyone should still revive as a last resort if no-one else will.


A note on buff priority

Generally speaking, boons apply on the following priority: Subgroup -> Proximity. This means that a five-target buff will be applied to members of the subgroup within range, and if this is fewer than five, it will then be applied to the closest player regardless of subgroup. Similarly, if there are more than five targets within the subgroup in range, it will apply to the five closest players to the source of the boon.

Healing and condition cleansing is slightly different: a healing skill will not target a player that is at full health, nor will a condition cleanse target a player with no conditions (there are some exceptions, typically when the skill also provides a boon), and will instead apply to the highest priority target that can be healed. This means healing will “overflow” to other subgroups, though the healer’s subgroup will still receive more.


A note on stacking

There are very few abilities in Guild Wars 2 that target a specific character for boons or heals, most are instead applied in an AoE according to the priorities described above. This means that groups will “stack” near one another to ensure that supports can hit as many players as possible.

In general, melee weapons deal more damage than ranged options and so the result is that the stack will want to be in melee range where possible. Therefore, in the vast majority of encounters the tank will face the boss in one direction while everyone else stacks directly behind it. This also ensures that players take less damage, as attacks aimed at the tank usually cleave.

Because of this, the benefits of ranged weapons are somewhat minimized and even classes that are capable of dealing all their damage at range are still encouraged to be in melee.


Boon Support Pairings

As most heal builds can easily provide Might Might and Fury Fury, groups that run two healers don't really need to worry too much about composition beyond the basics. On many encounters this is overkill (or the group may want to run something like a heal scourge instead), so the subgroup without a healer will need to make sure that there is a good pairing.

To restrict the options a bit, we will only look at pairings that provide good Protection Protection uptime (or good barrier). This adds a safety net that will be useful for groups that are used to having two healers.

While Specter does not provide Protection Protection it does provide a good amount of Barrier, which might serve the same function. In cases where this is the only defensive buff in the group, it will be indicated with an asterisk.

Quickness Pairings

Quickness Alacrity
Catalyst Tempest, Renegade, Specter
Chronomancer / Warrior Tempest
Firebrand Mechanist, Tempest
Harbinger Specter*, Tempest
Herald Mechanist, Mirage, Specter, Tempest
Scrapper Mechanist, Tempest

Alacrity Pairings

Alacrity Quickness
Mechanist, Mirage Herald, Firebrand, Scrapper
Renegade Catalyst
Specter Catalyst*, Herald, Harbinger*
Tempest Anything
Chronomancer, Untamed, Willbender These options are lacking in boons, so they will generally need to be paired with a healer. Alternatively, with some adjustments a Herald can likely provide enough Might.


The tables above should suffice in the majority of cases, but there are a few classes that require specific boons to function optimally, creating further considerations:


Mesmers running the Chaos traitline require high Regeneration Regeneration uptime. Most healers are capable of providing this to at least their own subgroup, but in the case of single-healer setups they should be placed in the same subgroup as the healer. Heralds and Mechanists using Mace also provide a good amount of Regeneration Regeneration.

Next, Dragonhunters require high Resolution Resolution uptime, which is best provided by other Guardians using greatswords. Hence Dragonhunters should usually be placed together or split evenly between the two subgroups if there are too many. Firebrands and power Renegades also provide a lot.

Scrappers and hammer Spellbreakers benefit from Stability Stability. Though this is typically only used on-demand, Alacrity Mechanists and Specters, and Quickness Warriors generate some passively.

Weavers and Warriors running Discipline - Both of these classes get a significant damage buff from Swiftness Swiftness. Most healers can provide it, as can Catalysts, Heralds, Specters and Tempest.

Finally, Vindicators, Daredevils and Mirage all want Vigor Vigor. This is typically provided by healers, but can also come from Mechanists using mace, Specters and other Vindicators.


Simple Raid Builds

For a selection of recommended builds for beginners, check out our Simple Raid Builds guide


Raid Guides

Hopefully this guide has provided an understanding of the considerations that go into forming a raid team. Both this and the guides below aim to be written in such a way as to be relevant irrespective of the current balance. They provide details on the roles that are required for each encounter and together with this guide should be enough to build compositions for each encounter that work for your group.


Raid Wing 1 - Spirit Vale

Raid Wing 2 - Salvation Pass

Raid Wing 3 - Stronghold of the Faithful

Raid Wing 4 - Bastion of the Penitent

Raid Wing 5 - Hall of Chains

Raid Wing 6 - Mythwright Gambit

Raid Wing 7 - The Key of Ahdashim

Comments

Premium Membership
Upgrade to premium membership and take advantage of all the premium benefits, including complete ad removal across the entire website, for less than $1 per month! Upgrade