I’ve seen a lot of people trying to understand why defensive stats are pointless in instanced PvE that receive the same vague answer of “there is no support, zerker only” which is 100% wrong. The support in this game is just much harder to identify in other games and support is much more diverse in this game in my opinion,
so anyway i wrote a guide detailing every way i could think of that allows you to avoid taking damage without having to sacrifice damage from swapping offensive stats on your gear to defensive stats.
So, here goes…
Ways to avoid attacks:
Every class has 2 dodges which is a one second evade that regenerates when used, even in combat. Some runes/sigils/traits regenerate this faster.
Your Endurance bar is displayed just above your health bubble. Use this to keep track of how soon you can dodge again, and how many dodges you have left.
The Associated boon with the regeneration of your endurance bar is called Vigor which can be granted by various traits and skills of all classes as listed in the above wiki article titled “evade”
Many other attacks also provide an additional evade, such as elementalists’ burning retreat
Blocking is most commonly seen on a guardian, but other classes all have their own attacks that Block
The most commonly associated boon with Block is Aegis
Aegis blocks the next incoming attack. Other blocks block multiple attacks such as shield of wrath.
Because of the nature of Aegis, using multiple times is a waste because it stacks duration, or lengthens the amount of time it is applied to your character for, and rather than blocking the next 2 attacks, both skills’ applied aegis will be used up on the first hit.
The best way to use Aegis is to pop it right before a boss does a big attack. This can save party members who are not being attentive, or are out of ways to avoid damage themselves.
Blocks can also block all incoming attacks over a duration, such as the engi gear shield
A list of all skills that block, or traits that enhance blocks, and block related boons and buffs can be found in the above wiki article titled “block”
Some skills however, are Unblockable, meaning even if you use a skill that normally procs a Block it will hit you anyways. Often unblockable skills can be evaded, but some go through all defenses regardless, usually skills that apply conditions or Control Effects.
Unblockable projectiles cannot be reflected
Misses are most heavily associated with blinds.
Blind is primarily associated with thief, as many of their skills cause blind, but many other classes have access to it.
Blind is mostly used for non-boss foes because bosses with the unshakeable buff are only affected by blind 10% of the time.
This means that 10% of the time a boss attacks while blinded it will clear the blind condition on itself and miss
However, 90% of the time it will clear the blind and still deal damage.
Adding multiple blinds to an unshakeable boss does not increase the chance of it being blinded. Therefore, like aegis, should only be applied when it runs out or is used.
Blind is really good to upkeep on a boss for the few times it does cause them to miss, but shouldnt be relied on consistently.
Blinds can also be added through combos. Combos must include a combo field and a finisher that interacts with the field.
Combos that result in blinds:
Field: dark + finisher: blast = Blind
Field: dark + finisher: leap = Blind
Field: smoke + finisher: physical projectile = Blind
Field: smoke + finisher: whirl = Blind
Glancing Blows are most commonly associated with the condition Weakness
Weakness makes 50% of all attacks glancing blows, dealing 50% less damage. This means an overall damage output reduction of 25%.
Weakness also lasts half as long 50% against unshakeable mobs
Weakness is more important in PvP than PvE because mobs dont have endurance so it doesnt affect their endurance regen. You also shouldnt be facetanking anyways so the need to resuce damage via damage reduction isnt very important. But it is active damage mitigation nonetheless
Glancing blows are also more likely to occur with your attackswhen mobs are above your effective level.
Similar to weakness **protection is used to lessen damage taken by 33%, which, again, while it isnt ideal to be hit in the first place, if you are going to have to face tank its better to do it with protection and weakness.
Combos that give weakness:
Field: Poison + Finisher: Blast = Weakness
Field: poison + Finisher: leap = weakness
Invulnerability prevents the player from taking any damage, much like evade, but you can still move, and sometimes attack while invulnerable.
Invulnerability is very powerful, and because it is so strong there are very few skills associated with it that also have a long CD, so it should be used only as a last resort
Mesmer however has access to a profession unique buff called Distortion that they can access fairly often that grants invulnerability.
This is probably the most powerful way to avoid damage. Not only are you not hit by the projectiles, but you send them back at the enemy.
You can still be damaged by AOE skills, however certain AOEs can be reflected if they are a projectile before they hit the ground/wall.
Any non-projectile attacks will still hit you.
I wasnt sure where to stick this, but Absorb Projectiles is similar but it does not send the attack back to your foe. It acts almost like invulnerability, but again. You can still be hit by non-projectile attacks
A major difference between the two is that projectiles can only be reflected twice, so if they are shot off by an enemy, reflected, then reflected back they will be unable to be reflected a third time.
In this case it would be better to use projectile absorbtion It should finally be noted, that it is best to reflect projectiles just in front of the boss rather than inside as the projectiles can spawn right on top of you and still hit you.
Conditions, especially after the June 23rd patch can be a pain.
Every class has some form of condition removal. Guardians, and more recently mesmers, bring a lot of group condition removal, as do elementalists, but generally not untill the end of their rotation.
Condition removal removes all stacks of a condition. So 3 stacks of burning is equal to 17 stacks of burning.
Condition removal is vital, as even through dodging, blocking, blinding conditions continue to tick down your health.
resistance makes conditions applied to you have no effect for the duration of the boon. Which means you avoid all condition damage for the duration of the boon. However there are currently only 3 ways to get it in game, so it cannot be depended on.
Combos that grant condition removal:
Field: Light + Finisher: Projectile = Condition Removal
Field: Light + Finisher: whirl = cleansing bolts.
Control effects interrupt attacks, putting them on cooldown for 5 seconds.
The best control effect in game at the moment is deep freeze. The number 5 skill onfrost bow (the bundle itelf being called ice bow)
Defiance is probably one of THE most important things to understand in this game.
Elementalists gain an icebow and use the 5 second stun. When this happens a stack of defiance is added for every nearby player, with a minimum of 3 stacks.
These stacks of defiance are removed with each Control Effect skill used. So after 5 control skills are used, the elementalist can deep freeze again allowing for 10 seconds of stun. A dramatically long amount of time.
If an elementalist is not in the party, the person with the longest stun should stun first, with everyone else removing defiance being sure not to waste the opportunity to stun with a weak Control effect especially one that moves them out of the aoe and cleaves of other party members such as ranger longbow 4, or necro fears.
Currently elementalist dominates this field when targeting a single boss.
This is probably the most complex way to avoid damage but it is highly reliable.
Why is this important?
Because with SO many ways to not only prevent yourself, but your whole party from taking damage so long as you time your skills right and be wary of bursts from mobs you will not need to take any defensive stats.
Taking offensive stats means killing the mobs faster, so you shouldnt need to use as many active ways to avoid taking damage, and when you are at risk of losing hp to an attack you’ll use one of these skills to counter it to ensure your safety without having to spec into defensive stats.