I recently got into a discussion on my last post regarding. The comments of “individual play styles” and “bringing other skills to compensate for the weaknesses of the weapons” got me thinking. Yes, in my last post I stated that in PvP, Rifles are superior than Pistols but Pistols are superior in PvE. And my last post bypassed any other skills because it was a 1v1 comparison of the two without outside forces. Generally speaking, outside forces skew things a bit because you generally have to take things to make up for the weaknesses of the weapons. I play a lot of league of legends, and some champions in that game sacrifice some mechanics in favor of others. For example, Kog’Maw is a champion who deals an immense amount of damage, but lacks any real escape mechanic that other champions normally have in their kits. There are summoner spells there (that everyone gets) that cover this weakness, but summoner spells cannot be factored because its something everyone else has as well. So if you take the spell flash (a short range teleport spell) that means everyone else has that same ability which doesn’t change the situation. Yes, you have an escape, but the enemy still has a gap closer in the form of the same spell. So yes, I can take Rocket Boots or Personal Battering Ram, and yes that does fix the lack of mobility in the pistols. But using those along with the Rifle gives them 5 means of moving around the map rather than just 2. Rifle still wins here. So, since the person brought up some interesting points, now is the time to elaborate on what I stated last post.
Individual Play style is also one of those things where you cannot factor into any kind of theory crafting. Because what’s fun doesn’t necessarily mean its optimal by any stretch of the imagination. I find the flavor of rifles to be amazing, but I understand that they may not be the best. And since theory crafting is a means of finding out what’s best, I have to remove that from the equation. And, as I said, last post was purely a Pistol vs Rifle comparison. Bringing in anything else would skew the entire post and it would have ended up being a full fledged novel. I don’t want to write that and I am sure you don’t want to read that.
However, theory crafting is just a theory and nothing I (or anyone else for that matter) state(s) here is the law. Just because Rifles are superior in PvP, doesn’t mean you have to use it in PvP. If you want, you can go around, playing the game with nothing but the wrench and naked. Nobody can stop you from doing that. And if that is what you consider fun, then go for it. My biggest thing is that you should never sacrifice fun for the sake of optimal playing. The only times where that is acceptable is during professional/competitive play or when its required to do content (raids). Anyways, lets be on the way.
So lets start by discussing the values of ability types in a PvP scenario (this post will mostly cover PvP). Next post (part Drei) will focus on PvE. When I refer to PvP, I mean structured PvP as World PvP is less dependent on your build and more on the amount and coordination you have with other players.
- Healing Reduction – 5
- Mobility – 4
- Stuns/Silences/Knock Downs – 3
- Snares/Roots – 2
- Misc CC (blinds, etc) – 1
This is the order of what abilities (excluding damage) take priority over others. So, to put it in a point system, it starts off at 5 points for number 1 and going down to 1 at number 5. So lets do the math here.
Rifle – 10
8 Points for 2 mobility type effects (jump shot and overcharged shot), 2 root, and +3 and – 3 points for knockdown for both you and your opponent.
Pistol/Pistol – 8
5 Points for healing reduction, 1 Point for blind, and 2 points for a snare.
Pistol/Shield – 9
5 Points for healing reduction, 1 point for blind, and 3 points for a stun.
Just from a weighted standpoint, Rifle wins. I do not factor in AoE effects because you won’t always be facing multiple people. Those situations change scenarios. But you will always be facing at least 1 person to use any of those abilities (the exception is jump shot which can help you move around the map faster).
Now, the reason why this is weighted this way is that these effects are rated based on how strong they are. The only time where things are lowered in value is when every other class has it as well. That is why healing abilities are not factored into this list. Damage is not put into this list because every class deals a different amount of damage (and this list is very open ended). This list can really be applied to any PvP scenario. So lets get on. For engineer purposes, until we know the modifiers (as in how much of a particular stat effects the damage of abilities), we cannot fully know how to optimize damage.
Healing Reduction is top of the list because 1) everyone heals, and 2) the presence of other people who focus as support is lowered. If you can lower the amount of health the target will heal for, that means you increase your effective damage. The best way to explain this is that if the target heals for 3k, and you dealt 8k, that means your effective damage for 5k. If they have a healing debuff on them for 50%, that means their 3k heal is instead 1.5k and your effective damage is 6.5k. So, healing reduction improves your effective damage
Mobility is number 2 for a couple of reasons as well. First is escape, second is gap closing (mostly for melee), and third is map presence/movement. Escaping is the only thing you can do in a losing situation. While you can snare someone, only with things that actually move you around can get you out of range for anything else they may do to you. You can potentially (based on the ability) to get over impassible terrain, or even give you just enough space to recover or wait for team mates. Also, if you are snared and about to die, you will die. If you are snared and leap across the map, then chances are you just survived. Gap closing (not so much Engineer, but anyone melee) allows you to maximize your damage, get into effective range, and allow you to stick to those pesky ranged people who will most likely try to kite you. For engineers, gap closing means absolutely nothing except to get into the maximum damage area for blunderbuss. For everyone else melee, this is very helpful. Last is map presence/movement. If you have the ability to get from point A to point B faster than anyone else, then you provide a high amount of presence. Simply explain, map presence changes the way people play. Back in WoW with rogues, their invisibility gave them presence, just because you couldn’t see them didn’t mean that they were not there. Their presence of just being on the map changed the way you play. Rather than being reckless, you had to play defensively or die. If someone has the ability to appear right by you or move around the map faster, you have to always be on guard because you never know where they might be. Map presence is one of those terms that is hard to explain. Generally, anything that goes invisible, or can teleport to a given location provides the most. Engineers mainly benefit from being able to get to different points and provide back up faster than other classes. This gives them a presence as an Engineer can be at the central point of Kyhlo and then be at the mansion to back up a team mate in a short amount of time. The only thing that stops this type of effect are complete shut downs like stuns. Things that fall into this category are stealths, jumps, knock backs, pulls, teleports, and speed boosts.
Stuns/Silence/Knockdowns/Fears all have one thing in common, and that is preventing people from doing things. Stuns and Knockdowns completely shut down players and Silences shut down their damage potential. A player that cannot do anything is dead weight in a fight. However, this gets a lower grade because there are ways to remove these types of effects (expect for knock downs and knock ups). Engineers have 3 utility skills that remove stuns. So if built around this (Elixir R, Elixir S, Utility Goggles), stunning you is a waste of a cooldown.
Snares/Roots are this low on the list because they only slow the target or keep them in place but do not stop them from using their own abilities. However, these CCs are effective because they reduce the chance of escape and allow you to kite.
Miscellaneous CC do minor things that are too unpredictable to effectively use. Blind is an awesome CC on paper, but you cannot control what attack gets missed. Actually, blind is the only type of CC that I can think of that fits into this category in GW2.
While yes, Pistols have the healing reduction and a blind, dual pistols only bring a root, and shield only brings a stun. Rifles still bring 2 forms of mobility, 1 of those allows you to move over impassible terrain, and the other doubles as an effective knockdown in a team fight scenario (so its an effective 13 point total). So the effective rank of just pistols and rifles are
- Dual Pistols
That basically explains why things were rated the way they were in a PvP scenario. The next part primarily discusses the effect of having secondary skills on the bar to further continue on to why Rifles are better for PvP.
This is where things get really sticky and things can change very rapidly. As soon as you bring in outside forces to cover some of the basic weaknesses, you can either pigeon hole the weapon you want to use into a cookie cutter mold (which only exemplifies the weaknesses it already possesses), or glorify the amount of customization it has. Rather than going over everything, im only going to go over a few amount of skills and how they apply to both weapons (seems fair to me). Starting off with Flamethrower. Flamethrower is by far my favorite utility skill because I love the idea of it. That being said, the Flamethrower brings a lot to the table. As a weapon kit, it effectively changes the way you play by replacing your weapon skills with a whole new set at the cost of a utility slot. It brings a heft amount of damage, a wall of fire, a fireball, a pull, and a knock back. When factored into the pistol, it gains 2 new sets of movement abilities that cover the primary weakness of the weapons. However, when added to the rifle, you can get more distance out of your current movement abilities. Airblast>Netshot>Overcharged Shot>Jump Shot effectively got you 400+750+700=1850 units away from the target and they are snared. Whereas with the pistol, you only moved them 400 units away.
Rocket Boots are also one of my favorite skills (mostly because of the toolbelt skill associated with it). Throw that into the mix and you have just added a way to get around the map faster and push yourself another 395 feat.
Slick Shoes adds a 3 second knock down.
Supply Crate adds a stun and a host of other things.
Anything that you can add to the pistol only adds more to what the rifle already brings to the table. To effectively mask the weakness of pistols lack of mobility, you need to have both Rocket Boots and Flamethrower. Then to break out of bad effects, you need Elixir R or Elixir S. So suddenly, you have just pigeon holed the Pistols into a cookie cutter whereas you only added to the Rifle (to gain more distance for disengage or map movement), while only solidifying a single skill that every PvP engineer should have (Elixir S or Elixir R). And, because the rifle already has the movement abilities built into the kit, you have more variety in your build which then in turn adds to your own versatility while adding more to the unpredictability of your character. You literally have the entire roster of skills at your disposal and have the ability to become a damage oriented, defense oriented, or support oriented character. Whereas, if you have pistols people will automatically know that you are there to deal damage and if you are not, then you are basically a sitting duck.
And anything the pistol brings can be added to the Rifle’s repertoire. Grenade kit alone brings the blind and healing reduction. You can get the healing reduction from Elixir Gun as well as an AoE heal. You can pack another break stun, movement, knockback. And assuming the formula of 1 stun break, 1 choice slot, and 1 kit/movement ability, the Rifle brings significantly more options. Where as the pistol is limited to 1 stun break, elixir gun/flamethrower, and Rocket Boots/Personal Battering Ram.
Yeah, nothing is stopping you from reading this post and scoffing at it, stating that this is merely a challenge. But when you look at the facts and logic behind everything, Rifles win this war. Next week is the PvE edition of Gun Wars. Stay tuned for Gun Wars Part Drei.