Thoughts and Speculations on the Support Class

This is a guest article from Captain Scrat.
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For a long time we have known that ArenaNet; the makers of the fine game we all love, Guild Wars, have decided it is time to break the stone engraved rules of the holy trinity: The Tank (a player that will be able to hold the pressure of attacks from the NPC), The DPS (a very strong player that will deal as much as possible of damage per second) and The Monk (a key part of the trinity that will be able to keep the tank and the others alive). ArenaNet wanted to come up with a new concept of battle for their upcoming game: Guild Wars 2. They have always tried to distinguish themselves and make something different that the traditional MMO’s do not have. In this case, it was the idea of breaking the holy trinity.

So now comes the question: How does one do that? In a party, you almost always (but not necessarily) need a strong warrior that will be able to deal massive damage to a target. In a party, you will almost always need a tank that can uphold enemies by himself. In a party, you always need a healer that will be able to keep everyone alive. Yet, the designers of ArenaNet thought: What if we take out an element of the holy trinity and see what happens. Thus the idea of having no primary healing class was born and we came to know that in Guild Wars 2 there will be no dedicated healing class. I was quite upset about that idea, as I spend most of my time learning the ways of the monks. Yet ArenaNet said: No fear young masters, one element is taken out and one is put back in to balance out the situation (not an actual quote). In the following days after the announcement of the non-existent healing class, we learned that there will be a Support class for everyone to enjoy.

From what has been learned in the interviews and players speculations and general knowledge of the Guild Wars 2 game, the support class will be a utility class for almost any situation in the battle. Well that’s how I see it anyways. Because let’s face it, without a dedicated healing class, players still need to get their life back, and the slow regeneration is not a quick option in a fast paced battle. Of course, everyone will have a self heal skill, something like Healing Signet on the warrior in the original Guild Wars, but I think that that skill it not enough. Mainly because, the mechanics of that skill required some sacrifice, in this case, you had -40 armor while that skill is in use. Therefore the Support class comes in as a unit that will keep the battle field under control.

Here is how I think the support class will work. The following are my own speculations and these are not based on any actual facts, this is only how I see it might work in Guild Wars 2. For me the support class will need to be, among other things, a utility belt for everyone in the party. It will need to be a small healer, something that will keep the enemies down or at the least snared for some time, something that will allow allies to escape fast from a sticky situation and finally, something that will also be able to provide some offense. Now let’s elaborate on each one.

A small healing unit: I think the support class will not be a major addition to the life regain, because ArenaNet does not want a main healing class, thus I see the support unit as someone that will provide either small but quick and efficient party wide heals or someone that will be able to buff players that are getting attacked by an enemy. Because let’s face it, even with the broken holy trinity, there will still be players that will be the main damage dealers and players that will be the main offensive unit in the party and that means that those players will not necessarily keep a bar with a bunch of self healing skills.

A control unit: I think the support class will also be a unit that will keep the control of the battle field in terms of additional defense. Because, I can see two parties or more just rushing into each other and clashing in an epic battle to see who the strongest party is. That is where the control unit comes in. It will need to keep the enemies snared and slowed down for the allies to be able to reposition or escape a hard damage dealing strike. Additionally it will provide control of the allies themselves, buffing them up to reduce damage intake or creating barriers that will allow a player not to be knocked on the ground for several seconds, as an example.

An offensive unit: I think the support class also needs to be someone that can provide additional damage for the party. It is all nice to be able to keep the party alive and enemies under some control, but if you are not able to kill anything you are doomed to fail at the start (unless the other party just quits after a 25 minutes match). So the support class also needs to have some attacking skills, either spells or chants, which will weaken the enemy or provide straight and raw damage.

With that said, the support class is a great idea to kill the holy trinity and provide a new aspect for the upcoming game, but I really want to see how ArenaNet will be able to pull something like that off. It may not be exactly as what I described, maybe not even close, but it will be along those lines and I strong believe that. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

– Captain Scrat

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I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I’m more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

8 thoughts on “Thoughts and Speculations on the Support Class”

  1. In old paper dungeons and dragons clerics had to dedicate spell slots for healing – and usually many spells were set aside for utility.

    During combat it was almost unheard of to have ‘battlefield’ healing due to range restrictions (most spells had a touch range).

    Healing was a triage event for after hours – sometimes spending several days at the inn to fully heal the party after a nasty dungeon.

    Active combat healing as a role isn’t 100% needed – even healing between fights isn’t 100% needed…. as long as your design is based on this without massive incoming damage with every pull.

  2. Unfortunately your speculation about the so-called support class does not seem convincing to me in a few points, mainly for three reasons.

    1) There is no “the” support class.

    ArenaNet has announced again and again that there is no “the” support class as well as there is no “the” offensive class and no “the” defensive class. Having one class that is much stronger at support than any other class would break the system of all classes being able to do well in any aspect of the battle.
    The one support class would be required just as much as the one Monk was in Guild Wars 1. Avoiding this is one of the major reasons for actually breaking the trinity.

    What ArenaNet has said is that one or more classes could be more geared towards support than the others. I would argue, however, that we are talking about rather minor differences in overall balancing here. ArenaNet cannot depart too much from their hybrid path because having one non-hybrid class would inevitably ruin the system.

    2) The description you give is not very meaningful.

    All classes we have seen yet provide some sort of crowd control and some sort of offensive abilities. As you wrote yourself, the healing ability of your ‘support class’ would not be very important (and I agree with that). So what exactly distinguishes your ‘support class’ from any other class? Merely the focus on support rather than offense, which was already discussed.

    3) Having players who are main DDs, main tanks and main supporters does not mean there will be actual classes for it.

    This is another major point about the GW2 ‘everyone-is-a-hybrid’ system: You can take whichever role you want no matter what class you have chosen.
    Arguably there will probably be some need for DD, ‘tank’ and support in every party situation. But this is no longer a matter of classes, but a matter of preferences.

    Say you have a Necromancer, an Elementalist and a Warrior in one group. This can lead to the Necromancer being DD, Elementalist support and Warrior ‘tank’, or to Necromancer support, Elementalist support and Warrior ‘tank’ + DD, or Elementalist DD, Necromancer Support, Warrior DD and no one ‘tank’, or virtually any other combination you could imagine.
    (As an aside: I would argue that even an Elementalist in water/earth attunement can play the tank, but I know too few skills of that class to prove that assumption.)

    Rotwang

  3. Sorry; I’ll have to weigh in on the nay side too.

    1] The GW1 Healing Signet really is not indicative of the GW2 self-heals, as their great power has been stressed repeatedly and witnessed at the conventions – a recent series of Izzy Cartwright tweats have even explicitly stated that the goal is that ” you’re your best healer.”
    They simply don’t have sacrifices like a small minority of GW1 heals did, with cooldown being the primary concern of those we have glimpsed.

    The mighty self-heal also has it’s own dedicated slot (unlocked at character creation), so it is – by design – completely impossible for a character to forgo it for heightned offense.
    Even a character with no other vaguely-defensive maneuvers on their bar is capable of active defenses like rolling, and it simply won’t be an efficient option for anyone to forgo such measures – even if the consequent harm can be mitigated, incurring damage that is readily avoidable fritters away resources that could have been used elsewhere.

    2] As said above ^, there is no single profession -> role dynamic.
    Every profession has a great deal of damage potential guaranteed by their gear skills (no combination of weapon skills revealed so far has fewer than 4 damage-dealing skills out of 5), a strong self-heal and significant control abilities; every bow or gun has a control skill, and even necromancers have 2 AoE cripples from their 3 main-hand weapons.

    Support is no exception, though it is optional for every profession so far – it’s primarily the domain of utility skills.
    While people do like to theorycraft about BML/paladins/monk-successors as “the” support profession, the simple truth is the humble warrior is already as mighty a support profession as GW2 is likely to see:

    > Can operate in front or backlines, wherever support needed.
    > Crippling – spammable & AoE crippling.
    > Immobilizing.
    > Knockback & knockdown – singular & AoE.
    > Daze & Stun.
    > Weaken.
    > Debuff armor – spammable, AoE & integrated target-calling.
    > AoE movement speed buff.
    > AoE attack damage buff – immediate & placed-persistant.
    > AoE placed-persistant spell damage buff.
    > Unknown AoE buff(s) – immediate & placed-persistant.
    > Elite placed-persistant AoE buffs – seemingly all of them!
    > AoE health regeneration.
    > AoE removal of all conditions (that also breaks out of stunning).
    > AoE ally revival.

    That’s without knowing 2 great-weapons, the exact effect of some support skills (the warhorn Call to Arms sounds to be an AoE armor buff for instance), and at least 10 more healing & utility slot skills!
    Other GW2 professions very likely rival the warrior in overall support capability, but it’s unlikely they surpass them in some areas without trailing them in others; the warrior literally touches on every support expertise imaginable after eliminating hexes and the broken support mechanics of GW1 e.g. damage cappers, 35% damage reducers.

  4. I think the support class is going to ba the other “soldier” class. Heavy armor, doing moderate damage, but primarily focusing on shouts/buffs. So… Paladin/Captain is my guess. My other guesses are a “Pistoleer” mid-range/melee damage, “Assassin/Mesmer” melee subterfuge crowd control, and “Alchemist” a long range support/damage.

  5. I completely agree with Vulturion and Rotwang. To my knowledge Anet has never said there will be a support class. Rather it was mentioned that there were support roles within each class and while I’m sure you can dedicate more skills to support you will still have all the self healing and damage dealing capability of any other character.

    As such it is my understanding that Anet wants you to use multiple roles with your character depending on the situation and never be pigeon-holed into being a primary healer.

    Anet wants you to contribute damage output and combine attack skills with your teammates, they want you to have the freedom to resurrect and be resurrected by anyone in the party regardless of class, they want you to use your skills and abilities to CC, kite, and flank your opponents to get extra positional damage, they want you to change from one weapon to another in order to adapt to the situation.

    Anet does NOT want you to ignore half the skills on your bar in order to focus primarily on only using the skills to heal/support others that you may have chosen. Anet does not want you to stare at bars when you have a screen full of visual cue’s available to you.

    I truly hope that playing your character one dimensionally as a support character only will limit your overall effectiveness by ignoring your weapon skills.

  6. I like the idea of everyone doing their own part in the fight. I loved my GW1 monk, but also had a blast using her as a RoJ nuker and even more fun with old-school Ursan. The combats described in the newest book sound great, so I will wait and see.

  7. Delurm said it: the Healer is necessary simply because bosses can almost kill you with one hit.

    What I want to see is classes that are all damage dealers, but rely on different strategies:
    Some ideas off the top of my head:

    TRAPPER – focuses on laying various nasty snares. the Trapper is more mobile/agile than most others. It uses the terrain around them to gain an advantage on the opponent. It might be able to lure/taunt mobs to locations that would be favorable for the players. Some form of blink/teleports would be nice too. Positioning is key. Traps can be very powerful or strategic.

    BACKSTABBER – very agile in close range (abilities to get behind target.. etc). Focuses on getting very close, planting the ‘bomb’ or some time release DPS/AoE, then booking it out of there. A kind of flow of jumping in, dealing damage, jumping out of range again. Can plant tracking devices/wards… etc.

    RAGETANK – all abilities are focused on getting close, and keeping them close. The ragetank unleashes slow heavy damage on anyone it can pull close enough. For example, a backstabber might get close, but have a hard time getting away.

    ILLUSIONIST – multiple copies of him/herself/allies, illusion copies of pets, blinding/confusion bombs, fireworks/ranged clever rockets. Smoke/fog…

    SPELLWEAVER – can create his own spells on the fly, might be a simple fireball, or something that requires far more time and effort. A kind of ‘utility belt’ class as it stands, but good players are the ones that know when to use what for each situation.

    In a party of 3 (trapper, illusionist, backstabber), for example, maybe the trapper could go first, lay some complex trap… the illusionist could cover/hide the trap from enemies, and the backstabber could run in and open up with a powerful first strike, then lead the enemy back to the waiting trap. They then proceed to wail on said enemy until it dies.

  8. Then imagine fighting one of these as a boss! So instead of a giant fiery sack of hit points that you all wail on for 20 minutes, imagine fighting a trapper boss!

    First, you have to find the guy! He’s hidden cloaked somewhere in the forest, probably from some very advantageous spot, waiting for you to stumble into his trap! You’d really have to think hard as a group about how to get him. Perhaps you could ‘spring’ his trap with a fake illusionist copy, then take the boss down when he comes out of hiding.

    Stuff like that interest me a lot more than the average MMO mechanics

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