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Beginner’s Guide to Guild Wars 2 Raids

GW2. This guide should help new players understand the basic mechanics and general compositions of raids in Guild Wars 2, but can also be used as a checklist to remind you what builds can fill roles, what classes provide specific buffs, and what bosses require what compositions to better organize your raid. 2022.




What Are Raids and How Do I Participate?


Raids are the most challenging PvE content in Guild Wars 2, requiring intimate class knowledge, teamwork, coordination with nine other players, and experience with specific boss mechanics. However, raids are still very accessible due to the lack of a gear treadmill in Guild Wars 2. Most of the challenge does not come from building your character, but rather from experience and knowledge. All you really need is a level 80 character, the relevant expansions, and some exotic gear.

You do not need full ascended to complete raids, but if you are looking to gear a specific role for raids you should check out these gearing guides, and the raid guides included on this site will provide you all the knowledge you need to complete raids. Just be willing to keep trying and adapting after you fail. No one was an amazing raider at first.



While there is no rush to get into raids immediately because players should focus on learning their class and basic game mechanics before jumping into end-game content, there are also some good rewards that new players especially will want. Most end-game modes reward you with ascended gear, but raids are one of the most efficient ways to get ascended or best in slot gear.

There are two raid-wide currencies that allow you to buy guaranteed items which otherwise would have a decent chance of dropping the first time you kill a specific boss per week. These ascended items also have unique skins you can’t get anywhere else in the game. If you are looking to gear up your characters, you should consider doing your weekly raid lock out; and if you want legendary armor, raids are the way to obtain it in PvE. See the full Legendary Armor Guide.



How Players Organize Together

Once you’ve decided you want to raid, you need a group. Raids are not solo content. There are three main ways that players group for raids:


  • Guilds
  • PUGs
  • Statics

Guilds – It is recommended that you find a Guild in game that likes to do things you like to do because it will improve your experience. It will also make it more enjoyable to do raids because guild groups are often more accepting of different playstyles and are more willing to teach their guildies how to raid because they are investing time into someone they will continue interacting with. If you are looking for a guild, you can ask players you meet, check the LFG, or you can look for advertisements on social media.

PUGs – That being said, you don’t need to be in a guild to raid and not every guild does raids. If you enjoy raids but your guild doesn’t, you don’t need to look for another guild. If you are too casual to invest in a single group or schedule, you can look for a Pick Up Group (PUG) in the LFG User Interface (default keybind “Y” then go to the Looking For Group tab). These groups often have no prior experience with each other and may employ safer strategies to make up for a lack of reliability or synergy with the other raid members.

NOTE: PUGs are usually groups with complete strangers who may or may not have the patience to teach new players the mechanics. Be respectful of other’s time by at least reading the specific guides to the raid encounters listed below and understanding how to play your role in the group before joining. You may need to make some concessions to join a group, such as playing a role that their squad needs or changing your build.



Also remember that there are nine other players in the squad with their own motivations, and it isn’t fair to expect all of them to adapt to you if you won’t adapt to them. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to whisper a squad leader to see if they can make an exception to their composition or their experience requirements. If a squad is unwilling to compromise or shows very clear elitism, you don’t need to join them. Training, Chill, or Unspecified groups are fine to join for newcomers. Experienced (Exp) or Kill Proof (KP) groups are not the best to start out in. Wait for the right group while you keep practicing your build on the golem or familiarizing yourself with the mechanics by reading the guides below.

Statics – Maybe you are too casual of a raider to be in a dedicated raiding guild, but are regular and experienced enough to want your weekly raid clears on a scheduled basis. Static raids are slightly less organized than guilds and can be found through connections with friends or formed from groups who met in the LFG through PUGs. They may coordinate through private Discord servers or create a guild that they don’t use for anything else other than their weekly clears. The group may be composed of mostly the same players each week and they can refine their strategies to optimize for clearing the content efficiently. Many players enjoy this level of investment because it does not force them to do more than they want. Static raids can be quick way to get weekly clears, reliably, without the uncertainty of PUGs, and then they can continue on their own goals and preferred activities until next week.

Once you are in a group for a raid, the squad will usually enter the raid through the raiding lobby, the Lions Arch Aerodrome which is accessed at the south of Lions Arch. Here there are portals to every raid wing and some vendors and services relevant to raiding as well as a single map chat that can also be used if necessary to form a group.

There are many options for you to start raiding. You can try to teach yourself through the guides and joining PUGs , convince your friends to try raids with you, or do a google search for communities that welcome new players to raids.



When Am I Ready For Raids?

You may know where and how to join a raid, but you may not feel ready to raid. If you are a raider in other MMOs then you might be ready as soon as possible, but for others they may not understand group dynamics, class mechanics, or have the right mindset. Here are three things I suggest doing before entering a raid:

1. Since all classes are viable, find a build for the class you prefer from the list of raiding builds to get started on. DPS builds are usually easier to start on because their role in the group is not as important as supports. Get full level 80 exotics with stats that fit your role on that build and unlock the skills and traits needed for that build. For ways to gear your character, this guide can help.

2. Read all of your traits and skills to find out which provide Crowd Control, where your Damage comes from, and where your Support comes from.

While there are Tanks, Healers, and DPS, Guild Wars 2 combat has a less defined role system and raids have mechanics that will split your team and you need to be able to fend for yourself during those times. It is the job of everyone to know their class so they can keep themselves and their team alive.

Some damaging skills will have much higher value due to low cooldowns, and these are better for DPS in long-winded situations, and then there are skills with longer cooldowns with higher damage or shorter cast times which are better for Burst in time constraints. Discern which skills are better for DPS and which are better for burst, and prioritize them based on the situation.



3. Run some casual group content with that build to understand the flow in a low pressure situation.

Being effective at a build and being effective in raids are two completely different things. You can practice a build anywhere, but raids have very specific mechanics you need to focus on. It is better to have your build internalized so you can put more of your attention on the general raid mechanics. Look for a Dungeon, low level Fractal, or Strike Mission group in the LFG and keep running them over and over until you feel comfortable with your build. Strike Missions are considered the precursor to Raids, and Fractals are the end game 5-man content. so they are better places to start before raids. The full guides for those are included here:



Emboldened Mode (Easy Mode)


There are two weekly bonuses to specific raid wings: Emboldened, and Call of the Mists.

One wing will have the Emboldened Mode available, which grants your entire party a buff of 20% health, 10% damage boost, and 10% more healing per stack of the buff. You can gain more stacks of Emboldened each time you wipe on a boss, stacking up to five times for double the health and 50% more damage and healing. Upon successfully completing that boss encounter the stacks will reset.

This allows squads that are new to raids but aren’t heavily invested in them to try them out and still get to see most of the content and get some rewards. To know which raid is currently offering the Emboldened Mode, look above the entrances to each raid wing in the Lions Arch Aerodrome for the icon of three arrows pointing upward.



If your squad wants a more realistic experience of the raid, it can be disabled at the start of the raid by interacting with the Emboldened Mote.



The other buff, Call to the Mists, will double the experience and gold earned from defeating raid bosses in that wing. Raiding can sometimes be costly to provide consumables, and you may not be guaranteed the kill, so the extra reward can make it worth the trouble.




But before you head into your first raid, you may want to know some common language used to communicate in raids and some roles and resources expected to compose a party.


Terms and Abbreviations


Despite trying to be as clear as possible, there are some recurring ideas and phrases that are necessary to understand raiding and what is said in your raid communications. Below are some of the common terms and abbreviations you’ll encounter in raid guides and groups:


CM – Challenge Mode. Toggled on and off by a blue mote near the boss if available on that encounter. This adds mechanics and difficulty to the fight and can give more rewards and achievements.

Comp – Composition. The classes your squad decides to bring to the encounter.

Exp – Experienced. Squads looking for more who advertise an Exp group are often not interested in explaining the mechanics to other players. You are expected to know what to do with minimal communication. Study the boss guides listed below to know what every mechanic is and how to play around it, and watch videos of every PoV of the specific encounter before joining a group listed as Exp.

FC – Full Clear – Indicates a group wishing to clear all of the bosses in a raid wing or all of the raid wings. They will aim to get them done efficiently to not spend too much time.

KP – Kill Proof. When defeating a boss you will earn a guild decoration. These can be consumed for your guild, or kept as proof of “roughly” how many times you have defeated the boss (due to random amounts of the decoration gained). Titles and legendary raid armor can also serve as proof of kill. This is not too important because skill or knowledge cannot be measured by Kill Proof, but it can usually ensure a certain level of experience for groups uninterested in progressing new players but also wanting to PUG.

LI/LD – Legendary Insight or Legendary Divination. these are another form of Kill Proof, but are more general than the specific boss decorations.

LFM/LFG – Looking for More/Looking for Group. It can also be just LF + (whatever the party needs).

Lock Out – When a player completes a raid boss their account becomes locked for that week to an instance with that boss defeated. They can bring others into the instance, and they can join other players’ instances, but they cannot open an instance with that boss still alive or get loot from defeating it again. Raid lock out resets every Monday at 07:30 UTC.

PoV – Point of View. Understanding different roles is important to completing an encounter because not everyone needs to do the same thing, so being aware of what other players in your squad need to get done can allow you to help them to increase your success rate.

PUG – Pick Up Group. Players who may have no prior experience with each other that decide to create a group for a common goal. It is unreliable who may be leading or joining these groups, so patience and adaptability is very important.

Static – Less organized than a guild, but more organized than a Pick Up Group. A static group will often schedule raid clears every week and then resume doing what they like to do in game separately the rest of the week. Many players enjoy this level of investment because it does not require a guild to do raids, but also not every guild does raids.

Tag – Commander Tag. A colored arrow pointing downwards over the squad leader’s character. “Stack on tag” is a common phrase to know when to regroup, and then look for the icon to know where.


Aggro – Aggrovate. When you have an enemy focusing their attention on you, you have their aggro. You gain aggro by going close enough in range, having the highest toughness, or by some other mechanic.

DPS – Damage Per Second. Can be used to describe the actual value of damage dealt over time, or can be used generally to refer to the act of damaging something, or the role in the raid of a player who focuses on dealing damage.

Fixate – Usually used to mean the same thing as the tank, but with a slightly different context. Usually the tank is very purposefully selected with toughness. Fixates are often more random or harder to control. If someone is fixated, they have a purple icon above their head and will become the tank for the duration of the fixate.

Hitbox – the area in which you can hit something with melee attacks. Often standing behind and at the “maximum melee range” is considered the best place to attack a boss because it allows you to do great damage in melee while also staying relatively safe. Try not to ever stand in the middle of a bosses hitbox because it will often get you hit with more attacks when you could be standing slightly to the side which is much safer, unless you are purposefully tanking an attack.

Kite – Using positioning to avoid or to control something whether it is through going out of range or going behind terrain. Think of a person flying a kite, the kite always stays within the distance that the string allows. Similarly, when an enemy or effect is targeting or chasing you, positioning can allow you to control it. Many mechanics in raids can be kited by using the knowledge of who will generally be targeted by them and then having one person specifically try to bait and counter that mechanic. A designated kiter can be thought of as an off-tank.

LoS – Line of Sight. Enemies will move in range to land their abilities. Knowing these ranges and manipulating the enemy line of sight using terrain or movement can allow you to fight in a favorable position or avoid attacks.

Melee – Point blank range or around 180 range. Weapons like swords and hammers are generally considered melee range unless they are breaking fantasy conventions like the Revenant hammer does.

PvE – Player vs Environment. A category of content that involves interacting with the world and NPCs in it, whether hostile or friendly. The game mode that encompasses raids, fractals, open world, dungeons.

Tank – Can be used to describe the role of someone who puts themselves in a dangerous position to protect the rest of their group while having the survivability to withstand it. A tank will often kite the boss to a place that allows the rest of their squad to more efficiently and safely do their jobs. It can also mean for someone to purposefully get hit by something, to tank it because of some benefit for doing so.

TC – Toughness Check. Often stated before a boss that attacks the player with the highest toughness. Players will respond with their toughness value to determine who will be the tank, and adjust their gear to coordinate who the tank will be.


Add/Adds – Additional mob or mobs in a fight that you may need to handle before continuing.

AoE – Area of Effect. Usually refers to skills that cover a defined location and affect multiple targets, but also allows them to be avoided with positioning.

Break/Defiance Bar – A teal/blue bar that appears beneath the health bar of a boss. Only CC will damage this bar. When the defiance bar is broken, it will interrupt their action and stun them. Many mechanics which are required for your success in an encounter can only be avoided by breaking a defiance bar, so having plenty of CC is necessary.

CC – Crowd Control. Anything that prevents an enemy from controlling their actions freely. Hard CC like stuns, knockbacks, dazes, will prevent them from using abilities, but soft CC like immobilize, cripple, and chill, will limit their ability to move freely. Most raid bosses are immune to CC but CCs will deal damage to their break bar/defiance bar.

Cleave – Hit multiple enemies simultaneously. Often used to refer to positioning your damage strategically to hit more targets and get more value out of your resources. Rather than attacking extra mobs by themselves you can cleave them and the boss at the same time to progress the encounter while also handling the extras.

Debuff – a specific effect outside of the general boons and conditions system. It can be seen on the buff bar or through an animation around the character. As opposed to a buffs which are positive effects, debuffs are usually negative effects, making them good on your enemies and bad on you. Sometimes debuffs can be both good and bad such as making you more vulnerable at the tradeoff of being able to do a mechanic.

Displacement – Anything that involuntarily moves another character such as pushes and pulls.

Enrage – An enraged boss will become much more dangerous to the point that your party cannot survive through it for long, but there are varying levels of severity from instant death to just dealing more damage. This usually happens after a timer to prevent players from using too safe of a strategy and to require risk and interaction with the mechanics.

Mob – Generic term for an NPC that can be killed

NPC – Non Player Character, scripted program

Rez/F – Everyone is capable of reviving, resurrecting or getting their allies out of the downed state. If someone is downed but players do not respond fast enough to rez or press “F” as the default keybind, then they will die and your squad will be at a disadvantage.

Tell – Something that signals a mechanic is happening or prepares you for an animation such as a boss leaping in the air before it smashes the ground or raising its arm and saying something before casting a spell. Balance your graphics and sounds so you can see and hear and see the tells of each specific mechanic and react to it more readily.

Wipe – When an encounter has failed or every player is defeated. Describes the point at which the boss has wiped the floor with your squad. If a wipe is imminent, end your misery with the /gg command.


Universal Mechanics


Because Guild Wars 2 is a combination between action and tab target gameplay, the animations will give you much more information than the UI. However, not every animation clearly tells you what will happen or what you must do to deal with it, and the amount of effects you have to discern between can become overwhelming at first. Many of the animations that occur in PvE will use colors and shapes to indicate where you must go and what you must do.

Below are some of the generic shapes, colors, and mechanics used in Guild Wars 2 and what they generally mean so that you can intuitively react to any situation even though you do not know what the specific mechanic is. There are exceptions, of course, and you should always read up on the specific guides if you are unsure what to do.


Dodging

Most classes in Guild Wars 2 have two dodges which can be seen as two bars above your health pool. Some skills will also dodge to allow more evade uptime. While dodging you evade all attacks, so understanding the timing of certain boss mechanics will allow you to dodge and avoid them completely. Surviving is important because while dodging may not deal damage, going downed and needing to be revived will lower your damage further.

Dodging also moves you in a direction faster than normal movement. You need to be holding a directional key down before you dodge, but don’t waste your dodges to move unless it is absolutely necessary. Dodging may also become an issue when you need to be in a precise location but dodging would move you out of it. You can prepare for this by moving slightly away from the spot you need to be on, then dodging in the opposite direction. This puts you closer to the original spot you want to be at.



Reviving/Resurrecting

In any group content, if your team dies you will likely struggle more. Always revive downed allies by pressing the Interact Key (F) on them. The more allies that revive the faster they get up at an exponential rate, so a coordinated revive will be much more effective than a staggered one. If you cannot get the revive because there is too much pressure, stop and cut your losses. It isn’t worth dying to revive someone who can’t be saved.

Because raid encounters often become more difficult the longer they go on, it is extremely important for everyone to survive and revive each other. If you are down a few members later in a fight when they become more difficult, it will be that much harder to finish it off.



Defiance/Break Bar

Most bosses are immune to any form of Crowd Control. However, during specific windows of time CC will be important. Below their health bar you may see a second bar which is their Defiance/Break Bar. Most of the time this will be greyed out, but when it becomes teal-colored you can use CC to lower their break bar. Hard CCs like Stuns, Dazes, Knockbacks, or any kind of control effect will deal more damage to a break bar, but also some Soft CCs from conditions like Chill, Immobilize, Fear, Weakness, and Blind can supplement the break bar damage over time.

The duration or intensity of the CC skill that you use determines how much damage you do to the break bar. For example, a 4 second stun skill is much more break bar damage than a 2 second stun skill, but a 10 second chill condition can do more damage over time than a 1 second stun skill, if given that much time. Every skill that does CC has a specific value that it will do to a defiance bar, and how good a CC skill is depends on its break bar damage, range, usability, or cooldown. Check the wiki link here to see all CC skills and their break bar values.

When the defiance bar is broken it will interrupt their action and stun them, making the boss vulnerable to attack for a short window of time. Many mechanics which are required for your success in an encounter can only be avoided by breaking a defiance bar, so having plenty of CC is necessary. Hard CCs are preferred because they do their damage instantly, and Defiance Bars are often time sensitive, but it is important to know where to get Soft CCs for when you need them.



Special Action Keybind

Go into your general options and keybinds and make sure to assign a key to the “Special Action.” Many bosses will have a specific mechanic which you must interact with using a specific skill you gain for that encounter, but since it does not get used much elsewhere in the game, you may not be comfortable with the keybind or recognizing it is available.



Green Circle

Stack together, regroup, or assist your ally is the general sentiment of the Green Circle mechanic. This can spawn on a player or on a specific area and then the circle may fill up with a more solid coloring. Once the time is up, which is when the circle fills, players must be inside the circle to fulfill the mechanic. Usually it will reduce damage taken, prevent something bad from happening, or help your team if enough players are in the circle when it fills.



Orange Circle

Spread out, distance yourself from each other, or just move away during an Orange Circle mechanic. Often these effects deal massive damage if you are inside multiplicatively for how many of them are stacked on top of each other when the circle fully fills.



Purple Icon

There are many ways that enemies can decide who to attack. The most common is through toughness and proximity, but there are some others that are defined by a Purple Icon, also called a Fixate. When you have this Purple Icon above your head, you need to be careful with your positioning because it will affect the position of the enemy which often effects the rest of your squad.



Green/Red Skull

Danger is imminent when a Skull is over your head. You may need to move out of the squad to let off a bomb or poison, you may be unable to continue doing something, or you may need to get to a specific area to avoid danger. Either way if you have a Skull above your head you should not remain still inside the group.



White Circle

Similarly to the Green Circle mechanic, players must go in the White Circle to perform them. Unlike Green Circles it does not interact with other squad members so it is less specific. Only one player must stand in the White Circle to fulfill the mechanic.



Yellow Border

When you are in danger or have a specific effect on you, there may be a Yellow Border around your view. Unlike most mechanics, others cannot see that your screen has a Yellow Border, but they can see it if they are also in the effect. This can identify that you are standing in a mechanic that is otherwise hard to see, or indicate that you are the one chosen by a mechanic. Either way, you will need to immediately react to having a Yellow Border.



Shockwaves

Many of the animations in game can be avoided purely through movement. Learning how to manage your cooldowns effectively will increase your survivability. For example, shockwaves can usually be jumped over (default keybind “Space Bar”) as one of their solutions. Because you can jump and move as much as you like so long as you have good timing, you can conserve your limited defensive cooldowns and dodges by jumping over this mechanic.



Wipe

Morale is important to a raid, and when squads face imminent defeat it is often better to wipe the attempt immediately and try again. Typing the /gg or /qq command in chat while in a raid or fractal will immediately kill you. Rather than letting the entire raid die off one by one and wasting time, the entire raid can type /gg and retry faster. However, if you aren’t sure whether it is a wipe or not, don’t take the initiative yourself. Always wait for the commander to call “gg” or you may wipe an attempt that was still winnable.


Non-Verbal Communication


The key to success in raids is coordination, and having the entire squad on a voice communication program like Discord helps but not everyone speaks the same language, has a decent quality microphone, or wants to take the initiative in leading a group. Also typing to someone in the middle of a dangerous boss encounter may not be the most conducive to success since you’ll be caught out of position while typing and there’s no guarantee your message will be read while everyone is focusing on the mechanics. There are ways to communicate or coordinate without doing so explicitly.

Squad Markers

One of the main ways squads coordinate is through specific keybinds only available to the squad leader or lieutenants (appointed by the squad leader to have more squad functionality). They can mark a player or a location with a specific colored shape such as: Arrow, Circle, Heart, Square, Star, Spiral, Triangle, X. With a little bit of preparation, squads can shift much of their verbal communication to before the fight so that they can focus on the many other mechanics during the fight.

Some example situations using these markers can be:

  • Go to Square at 50%.
  • Player with the Heart is the healer so go to them if you need heals.
  • Mushroom 2 goes to Circle.
  • Regroup at Star during this mechanic.


Mini Map

Some boss mechanics which require coordination by the party can be noticed simply by looking at the mini map. Make sure your map is not set to rotate when you turn your character so that you can objectively see where North, South, East, West are at a glance since those are useful directions for many bosses. If you need to be more aware of everything without relying on others, the map is a great tool for avoiding tunnel vision.



Commander Tag

At first you will want to communicate just the basics until you really internalize each bosses mechanics, but not every player is willing to indulge their full intentions during a boss. Being able to look at where your commander tag is positioned and follow them is one of the most basic behaviors everyone should know because if everyone stacks on the commander then they will be ensured boon application and heals. It is in many cases safer to be in bad positioning with your squad than to be in good positioning alone, but safe positioning with your squad would be ideal.


Basic Resources For Every Team



The hardest thing about getting into Guild Wars 2 raids is that there really is no absolute trinity of DPS, Support, and Tank because some fights need less support than others, some fights don’t even need a tank, and DPS players still can provide some of the best buffs to their raid. This means that not only does every fight have different mechanics but also requires different compositions. Even though this can be convoluted and somewhat discriminates players who don’t have many build or class options from getting into raids, there are still some general playstyles and builds that are relevant for all situations.

Raids are 10 player content, meaning the duties of a raid such as dealing damage, buffing, healing, or doing specific mechanics must be split among those 10 players. The more efficiently these roles can be allocated for each encounter, the better. Every encounter is different, but there are some basic resources that every squad should have:


  • Might
  • Fury
  • Protection
  • Alacrity
  • Quickness
  • Heals
  • Crowd Control

Since there are 10 players in the squad and many skills only apply boons to 5 players, this means that there should usually be two sources for them. Squads will often be arranged into two separate parties to ensure everyone gets buffed equally because boons and buffs are prioritized to members of your party. There are some situations when a third party can be organized to spread boons out from an uneven amount of sources or for a healer who wants to prioritize their heals to players who need healing rather than to any specific party.

Remember that a raid is composed of 10 players and that selfish builds are not very useful unless it is to do the most damage possible, which is arguably not selfish; or to kite a mechanic, in which case they would need to be selfish. Always try to provide something unique and valuable to the squad. If a raid already has your resource covered, try to provide another. If all roles and resources are covered, just go for DPS. Listed below are the ways that classes can provide these resources not only to themselves but to their allies so you can piece together a build or composition:


Might – Grants 30 power and condition damage per stack. It stacks up to 25 to give 750 power and condition damage. While this boon is powerful, it is also very easily accessed. However, if damage is low this could be the number one issue.

Ranger

Guardian

Elementalist

Engineer

Mesmer

Necromancer

Revenant

Warrior


Fury – Gives 25% critical chance and often is accounted for to reach 100% critical chance in power DPS builds. While most power DPS builds apply it themselves, it is good to supplement it; and it is also useful for condition and support builds to trigger on critical effects.

Guardian

Ranger

Revenant

Engineer

Mesmer

Warrior

Elementalist

Thief


Protection – Reduces power damage taken by 33%. Most damage in raids is power damage, and often there is a pulsing damage that cannot be avoided, only reduced. This reduces the pressure taken substantially because it can prevent allies from going into the downed state even if they get hit by large attacks. Going into downed state forces other players to revive and makes many situations much more complicated. This is probably the more important boon.

Guardian

Ranger

Elementalist

Revenant

Engineer

Mesmer


Alacrity – Reduces all cooldowns recharge by 25%. This boon is useful to every build because more cooldowns can mean more damage, more survivability, and more answers to situations. However, Thieves get minimal benefit from it due to the initiative system.

Revenant

Mesmer – Stretched Time

Ranger

Thief

Guardian +

Engineer

Elementalist


Quickness – Increases the speed of skill activation by 50%. This improves the burst and sustained damage of the squad greatly, but also provides a great utility because healers can react to dangerous situations faster and mechanics can be performed more quickly to get out of harm’s way faster.

Guardian

Mesmer

Engineer

Revenant

Warrior


Heals – No matter how skilled the raid is at avoiding damage, they cannot avoid all of it. Builds that can invest in Healing Power and provide pulsing heals over time as well as burst healing will increase the raid’s survivability but also damage because if the DPS players are too pressured to stay on the target, they won’t deal damage. Here are the most effective healers and how they keep their group alive:

Druid

Tempest

Firebrand

Scrapper

Herald/Renegade

Scourge


Crowd Control – While some bosses differ in the amount required, and some may not need any, having the option to pull, push, stun, daze, etc. will be necessary to break defiance bars or to organize enemies. The amount of damage that a CC skill will do to a break bar is labeled on the tooltip as “Defiance Break”.

Thief

Revenant

Guardian

Mesmer

RangerRock Gazelle, Electric Wyvern, Pink Moa, Iboga

Necromancer

Warrior

Engineer

Elementalist


Vulnerability – Condition that increases the power and condition damage dealt to enemies by 1% stacking up to 25 times. Having maximum Vulnerability on the target is almost as strong as having 25 might, but usually you do not need to think about this in a composition because it is so easily accessible.

Mesmer

Guardian

Necromancer

Revenant

Elementalist

Engineer

Thief


Swiftness – Increases movement speed by 33%. Movement and positioning is very important to doing the mechanics of every encounter, and while the exact benefit cannot be measured, in a real situation swiftness does increase damage dealt and reduce damage taken because it allows players to move to the target or out of danger faster.

Mesmer

Guardian

Elementalist

Ranger

Thief


One final buff that is not necessary on any encounter but often makes mechanics much more manageable on some encounters is Aegis – This boon will block the next attack that hits you, consuming the boon. Some attacks can hit multiple times and sometimes an attack you did not intend to block will consume the aegis. This is why timing is key to providing this boon, unlike other boons where you’ll want to provide as much uptime as possible. There are only two classes who can share this to allies.

Guardian ,

Mesmer +


Builds And Compositions


Once you understand what resources a squad needs, you can start looking at specific builds which will conveniently provide the above resources to their team while also filling a specific role. Generally there are four roles: Tank, DPS, Support, and Kiter. Here is a list of viable and accessible raid builds:

Raid Build List

Remember that you can change these builds to fit your playstyle or to fit the encounter. They are not absolute. Unlike many other MMOs, Guild Wars 2 uses these roles very loosely, and raids will look for the specific resources listed above as well as encounter-specific roles.

There are often skills and traits that can be replaced for much more utility at the cost of minimal damage. Also always make sure to thoroughly practice a build on a golem, in open world PvE, and then in casual group content to get comfortable using the abilities before bringing it into a raid where you will need to focus on more things than your build.

Inside the Lions Arch Aerodrome is a portal to an instance called the Special Forces Training Area. You can enter it by creating a squad in your party UI and setting it to raid mode. In here you can use two consoles to simulate team buffs, pulsing area damage, and a DPS golem. You can also reduce all of your cooldowns with the special action key to practice combos with little downtime. The game will tell you how much damage per second you dealt every 20% of the golem’s health.



Do not concern yourself too much with the DPS number. Because there are so many factors in how much damage you deal and there is utility and support that can be provided to your team that often goes unmeasured, the arbitrary DPS number is not commensurate to your success in raids. While DPS is important and reaching certain thresholds can make fights easier, it is a higher priority to survive and perform the mechanics than to do great damage. Here are a few reasons why team players can benefit more than selfish players:

  • The less players alive in your squad, the longer the fight takes, the lower your DPS. Supporting and reviving your teammates is higher overall team DPS.
  • Unless you are attempting speed clears, playing safely often will reduce the overall time it takes to clear raids because you will require less attempts from risky plays turning into wipes.
  • Helping or covering for your team means they will be less pressured and able to help or cover for you if you make a mistake and go down or miss a mechanic.

It is best that most players do not install DPS meters. It is likely that inexperienced players misinterpret the data given to them and make the wrong conclusions. Instead of comparing DPS with others, improve by understanding the synergies of your build further, learning the specific boss mechanics to time your cooldowns better with the phases, or reducing the downtime between your animations. Also you want to internalize your build and be able to perform combos rather than scripted rotations. Be comfortable enough that you don’t need to look at your skill bar when you need to be aware of the situation. The video below goes over some of the most essential combat mechanics to learn and settings to use if you want to improve your ability to play on any build:


Credit to Vallun for the video.

An Example Composition


The most important boons to have in each party of a squad are: Might, Fury, Protection, Alacrity, Quickness, and of course Healing is required. However, most builds that invest in Alacrity, Quickness, or Healing will often provide Might or Protection as well. Fury can be provided by many DPS builds. This means we can simplify the resources of a party to four elements:

  • Alacrity
  • Quickness
  • Healing
  • DPS

Usually an optimized build can provide two of these resources. While most Healing builds will be able to provide Alacrity or Quickness, no build can provide enough of both. Also a DPS build that needs to invest in one of these resources will often do much less damage than one that focuses solely on damage.

Though there are more factors than these, we can simplify the organization of one specific party like this:

Group 1Group 2

Each group has one source of Alacrity, Quickness, and Healing, then fills the rest in with DPS. Depending on how safe or aggressive you want your composition to be, add in more healing. This composition is using three sources of healing so it is pretty safe. Also there is a Tank in group 2 and a Kiter in group 1 which are roles only required for some fights.

This is not the only composition or even a purely optimal comp, but it is balanced and in creating it we showed some of the decisions you will need to make when creating one. Often you will be creating a comp as you go with players who aren’t willing or able to swap roles, so you will need to make adjustments and use creativity to make due with what you have. Find what the optimal comp is for the players you have access to rather than trying to copy the optimal comp for 10 players who prepared a week ahead of time to attempt a world record run.


Boss Mechanics Checklist


While team composition and efficiency are great, the number one thing that carries a raid encounter to victory is adhering to and countering specific boss mechanics as well as covering for the weaknesses of your raid. It isn’t just the job of the Supports and Tanks to do the mechanics. The DPS players can do their part to support and mitigate mechanics for their team.

Whether it is changing your build slightly for the fight, changing your playstyle to meet the current win condition, or being aware of your team’s roles and helping them achieve that, adaptive players are always much more valuable than players who perform their rotation flawlessly but crumble when their squad makes mistakes. Assuming a squad is looking to get the boss kill safely and efficiently, playing to survive should be the first priority.

Some examples of some great decision-making for success in raids:

  • When a Druid kites Messengers on Dhuum it means the might source won’t be on the group always. Changing skill priority as an Elementalist to blast fire fields can fill the gaps in might sharing.
  • During the Keep Construct a DPS Guardian can use their virtues to help their allies survive during the orb and final phase.
  • If the tank goes down during Qadim‘s Hydra, a tanky DPS like a Warrior or Revenant can move in front of it to proximity tank the mini boss away from the group so they can safely revive the tank.
  • A Thief can take Shadowstep on Sabetha because failing to do the cannon role can easily cause many other problems that lead to a wipe.

The ability to play around these situations requires a complete understanding of the boss mechanics. The checklist below shows the roles and resources that you may want or need for each boss so you can adapt your build and playstyle to provide more to your squad in the right situations. The most important roles or utilities you can bring for succeeding at those fights will be bolded to show which things you should consider taking or improving to make fights easier. For more in-depth boss guides, click the links to the specific raid wing guides.


Spirit Vale (W1)

Vale Guardian (VG) – Toughness Tank, Condition Damage, Boon Removal, Extra Healing, Immobilize, Displacement, CC, Unstable Artifact.

Gorseval (Gors) – Toughness Tank, Immobilize, DPS, Stability, Cleave, Unstable Artifact.

Sabetha (Sab)2 Cannons, Kiter, CC, Cleave, Unstable Artifact



Salvation Pass (W2)

Slothasor (Sloth) – 4 Mushrooms, Fixate Tank, Pulls, Cleave, CC, Condition Cleanse, Stun Break/Stability, Stone Soul Venom.

Bandit Trio (Trio) – Mortars, Cleave, CC, Pulls, Stability, Throw Magnetic Bomb.

Matthias (Matt) – Proximity Tank, Reflect, CC, Burns, Condition Damage, Condition Cleanse, Detonate Plasma.



Stronghold of the Faithful (W3)

Siege Escort – Tower Portal, Back Warg, Glenna Babysitter, Immobilize, Pulls, Cleave, Stun Break

Keep Construct (KC) – Toughness Tank, Pusher, Displacement, CC, Cleave, Power Damage, Unstable Artifact.

Twisted Castle (TC) – Stability, Pulls, Displacement, Portal.

XeraToughness Tank, Ley Line Gliding, Pulls, Cleave, CC, Ranged Damage, Stone Soul Venom.



Bastion of the Penitent (W4)

Cairn – Stability, Healing, Condition/Confusion Damage, Unstable Artifact.

Mursaat Overseer (MO) 3 Commands, Cleave, Condition Damage, Detonate Plasma.

Samarog (Sam) Fixate Tank, CC, Displacement, Immobilize, Stability, Throw Magnetic Bomb.

Deimos – Toughness Tank, Kiter, Aegis, CC, Unstable Artifact.



Hall of Chains (W5)

Soulless Horror (SH) – 2 Special Action Tanks, Pusher, Condition Damage, CC, Condition Cleanse, Displacement, Stone Soul Venom.

River of Souls (RoS) – Front Group, Back Group, Aegis, Extra Healing.

Statues of Grenth

Broken King – Toughness Tank, Healing, Boon Removal, Ranged Damage, Detonate Plasma.

Eater of Souls – Toughness Tank, Orb Retrievers, Condition Cleanse, CC, Detonate Plasma.

Eye of Judgment/Fate – Split Comps, 2 Orb Throwers, 2 Orb Users, No CC, Detonate Plasma.

Dhuum3 Reaper Greens, Toughness Tank, Kiter, Aegis, Condition Cleanse, Boon Removal, Unstable Artifact.



Mythwright Gambit (W6)


Conjured Amalgamate (CA)Greatsword/Shield Collectors, Pulls, CC, Cleave, Power Damage

Twin Largos (TL) – Split Comps, 2 Toughness Tanks, CC, Boon Removal, Stun Break/Stability, Ranged/Condition/Confusion Damage, Kenut = Detonate Plasma, Nikare = Stone Soul Venom.

Qadim (Q1) – Proximity Tank, Matriarch Tank, Kiter, Lamp, Pyre Splits, CC, Cleave, Pulls, Aegis, Portals, Throw Magnetic Bomb.



The Key of Ahdashim (W7)


Sabir – Toughness Tank, Wisp Slayer, CC, Reflect, Unstable Artifact.

Adina – Toughness Tank, 5 Pillar Baiters, Boon Removal, Reflect, Detonate Plasma.

Qadim the Peerless (Q2/QtP) – Special Action Tank, 3 Kiters, CC, Stability, Unstable Artifact.



Masteries


Masteries are non-gear progression you can make after level 80 to improve how strong all of your account’s characters are. These can be accessed from the tab in the Hero Panel or by clicking your yellow experience bar. To learn a mastery you need to select it in the Mastery UI and then earn experience until the experience the bar is filled. Then you can spend mastery points earned by achievements and Mastery Insights to unlock the mastery. There are different categories of masteries and you will only gain progress towards masteries while in the appropriate content. Heart of Thorns and Raid masteries will only gain experience while in Heart of Thorns maps or in Wings 1-4. Path of Fire masteries will only gain experience from Path of Fire maps or Wings 5-7.



Masteries are not a significant feature of raids, but if you are new to raids your experience will definitely be affected by them and you will need to work on learning them. Here are some of the masteries relevant to raiding:

Rift Forger – Ley Rifts found inside all raids allow you to travel to specific locations within that instance. The furthest Ley Rift your party has unlocked will be bottom option. The mastery allows you to repair your armor at a Ley Rift because it can become damaged when wiping to an encounter.



Explosive Launch – The launch pads relevant to the Sabetha encounter in Spirit Vale will damage players who get hit by the Sapper Bombs. With this mastery they no longer take that damage which can make them much safer when they get to the cannons because they won’t be getting support from their team while the Bandit Sniper attacks them.

During the Bandit Trio encounter in Salvation Pass, players can take a shortcut to the mortar site by using the launch pads. Out here they can be alone and might not have enough healing to survive the incoming bandits. Reducing the damage with the mastery can be helpful.



Forsaken Thicket Waters – You can now use the waters of the Forsaken Thicket to cleanse poison. This is relevant for the Matthias encounter in Salvation Pass because the Corruption mechanic requires you to cleanse it in one of the fountains. Without this mastery you will become stunned for 3 seconds and take damage when cleansing in the fountain. With the mastery you still take damage from the Corruption but using the fountains has no side effect.

This mastery also allows you to use the healing springs in the poisonous mushroom cave during the Siege Escort in Stronghold of the Faithful. Without the mastery the poison clouds will overwhelm the tower team before they can escape the cave, requiring a much larger tower team to support their journey. With the mastery, a single player can make it through the cave using the cleansing waters to perform the portal strategy.

During the Twisted Castle puzzle in Stronghold of the Faithful, players gain stacks of madness. If they get too many stacks they eventually die. With this mastery players can use the fountains around the puzzle to become momentarily immune to or remove madness, giving them more time to complete the puzzle.



Forsaken MagicThe bloodstone turrets along the path of the Siege Escort in the Stronghold of the Faithful can be used to your team’s advantage with this mastery after they have been secured from the White Mantle. This can help to clear out waves of White Mantle and Wargs on the main path.

During the Xera encounter in Stronghold of the Faithful, standing in range of one of the bloodstones on her platform when it is destroyed will reduce stacks of Derangement which can reduce pressure and give players more time to live if they get hit by too many mechanics.



These next masteries are not raid-specific, but are also useful in raids.

Bouncing Mushroom – This is a Heart of Thorns mastery which allows you to jump on a Bouncing Mushroom to be launched into the air. In Salvation Pass there are plenty of Bouncing Mushrooms. You will need the mastery to get from Slothasor’s room to Bandit Trio and to explore much of the instance. Bouncing Mushroom mastery is also needed for the Tower Team during the Siege Escort in Stronghold of the Faithful to transition from the cave to the tower.



Ley-Line Gliding – This is a Heart of Thorns mastery that allows you to use ley-lines to glide to otherwise unreachable locations. In the Stronghold of the Faithful it can be used to transition between the main path and the towers during the Siege Escort. During the Xera encounter in Stronghold of the Faithful, it is required to participate in the encounter and must be used to traverse between the floating platforms.



Shifting Sands – This is a Path of Fire mastery that allows Jackal mounts to travel through Sand Portals. This can be used in the Hall of Chains to return to the Hall of Judgment from any of the Statues, but is not ever required. It also is needed to progress onward after the Conjured Amalgamate encounter in Mythwright Gambit, although there are some ways to bypass it.



Rewards


Other than enjoying the story, gameplay, and social aspects of raiding, there are some unique rewards available to raiders. Every boss has a high chance of dropping ascended gear with skins unique to that encounter, miniatures, and raid-wide currencies which reduce the randomness of loot tables. If you can successfully complete raid encounters every week, it is the best way to gear your characters with ascended loot per time invested.

To see the potential rewards you can get from each raid wing, you can enter the raid and speak to Glenna who will offer an inventory of items which you can only purchase if you have completed the encounter specific to that item. Right-click and select preview to see how they look. There are also interesting items that can be obtained such as Dhuum’s Throne, which players can bring and sit on out in the world; or Xera’s portal which allows any class to activate a mesmer portal once every so often (not usable in raids for balance reasons).



Raid Currency

The raid vendor exchanges the raid-wide currencies for guaranteed purchases of the random drops from each boss so you will always be able to get an item given enough clears. You can also exchange miniatures that you get back to the vendor and salvage gear that you don’t need from raids to get more currency to purchase the items you want.

  • Magnetite Shards – Gained by defeating or wiping to encounters in Wings 1-7, exchanging raid miniatures back to the vendor, salvaging ascended equipment earned in Wings 1-7. Magnetite Shards can be used to guaranteed purchase any item that can drop from bosses you have defeated before or exchanged for crafting materials.
  • Legendary Insight – Earned by completing any encounter in Wings 1-7 once per week. Used to craft Legendary Armor.

These currencies will be automatically placed in your Account Wallet, found by clicking the bag icon at the bottom left corner of your inventory.



Stat Types

Gear from raids has a selectable option for what stats you get. Double clicking the item will bring up the different combinations of stats you can get. However, not every stat combination will be available on each piece. They will be split into four categories, each one prioritizing a certain role of stats. The following prefixes are the four potential selections you have and all of the stat combinations included:

AssaulterPower, Precision, Ferocity – Assassin, Berserker, Cavalier, Celestial, Commander, Crusader, Diviner, Grieving, Harrier, Knight, Marauder, Marshal, Rampager, Sinister, Soldier, Valkyrie, Vigilant, Viper, Wanderer, Zealot.

MaliciousCondition Damage, Expertise – Bringer, Carrion, Celestial, Dire, Grieving, Plaguedoctor, Rabid, Seraph, Shaman, Sinister, Trailblazer, Viper.

DefenderVitality, Toughness – Cavalier, Celestial, Crusader, Dire, Giver, Harrier, Knight, Minstrel, Nomad, Plaguedoctor, Sentinel, Settler, Shaman, Soldier, Trailblazer Vigilant, Wanderer.

HealerHealing Power, Concentration – Apothecary, Celestial, Cleric, Diviner, Giver, Harrier, Magi, Marshal, Minstrel, Plaguedoctor, Seraph.

Some of the stat sets are shared between the categories because of the variety of stats prioritized, but in general the Assaulter stats facilitate the Power DPS role, Malicious for Condition DPS, Defender for tanking, and Healer for supports.



Weekly Rewards

Every player gets their own personal loot from a boss. Despite raid bosses only dropping their loot once per week per player, the drop rates are relatively high. You can expect to get at least one miniature or ascended item per wing. Also each successful raid encounter per week nets you a few gold. Even if you don’t get a unique drop, you can get the gold or a generic exotic item. Completing Challenge Modes for specific bosses can also be repeated weekly for some extra rewards.

Progress for the weekly boss loot resets every Monday at 07:30 UTC. This is also a good time to try to get your weekly raid lockout done because later in the week less people are looking for raids since they’re already done with them.



Once you have completed a boss already for the week, there isn’t much reason to continue doing it unless you are in a group that is sweeping through multiple bosses and you can afford to repeat some to get yours done. Repeating a boss twice in one week will only yield a few pieces of Unidentified Gear.


Acknowledgment


Special thanks to Vallun for writing up the initial draft of this guide and helping on the process. Check out his Youtube Channel for more of his content.


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