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Guild Wars - Guides and Strategies
Defending in Guild Wars

The ultimate guide to defense in battle

An important fact about shields that's often overlooked is that they only work from the front. There's a distinct arc where the shield's defensive bonus is added to your armor. No one's quite sure what it is but it's generally agreed to be in the front and not in the back (It's still in doubt just how much of the sides are covered, that's all).

This is the space around your character (X), blows come from all around them in a circle:


Let's say your character is facing towards the top of your window, the space covered by a shield (=) would be those in front of them:


If they were to turn around it would look like this:


Or this:


Now, another little known fact is that when a character is running any hit delivered to them will be a critical hit. When being beaten on by a Warrior or a Ranger often the worst move you can make is to turn and run to get away from them. You're just opening yourself up to a lot of pain. Sidestepping (using the Q and E default keys on the WASD movement set-up), however, doesn't incur any critical hits although you'll prevent yourself from attacking or using any skill with a casting time.

Finally, each hit you make with any sort of attack that takes armor into account has a hit location. Characters have five different locations - Head, Chest, Arms, Legs, and Feet and can wear different armors in each. The head, especially, tends to receive a different level of protection because that's where +attribute headgear goes and that's generally a bit worse than the high-end armor choices. Normally, your chance to land a hit on any of these areas is equally distributed amongst these areas in the following manner:

Head: 12.5%
Chest: 37.5%
Arms: 12.5%
Legs: 25%
Feet: 12.5%

So normally you're three times as likely to hit someone in the chest as you are in the head, and twice as likely to strike their legs. Everywhere else has a 1 in 8 chance. Certain skills change these percentages, though, for example Fire Storm strikes mostly at the head. The reason they do this is because of the direction the blows are traveling in. Fire Storm comes from above so it's more likely to strike the head. If you stand above your target and deliver blows you'll be more likely to strike the head, too. Below and you'll hit their feet more often than not. Changing the position of your character in relation to your opponent can change that percentage table and allow you to land more effective blows against a weaker part of their armor.

Putting it all together we can see that positioning your attacker in relation to a target can be of great value to your damage output. Experienced players will be working to find the most advantageous position in which to attack a target. For example, as a Warrior, I've learned to sidestep in a circle around my opponent to get behind their shield. This also leads to more critical hits if they decide to run as well as, it seems, a better hit table against their armor.

Here's how it looks with my Warrior as an (0) and I'll press, say, E and A at the same time to sidestep and pivot. My opponent blocks my path and I slide alongside them.


As my target turns, I work to swivel around them like so (In an obviously simplified diagram):





This can also be used by ranged attackers although they'll obvious have a much larger radius to traverse. It costs me a swing or two to do so, but by seeking the best position all my swings are better even against someone without a shield and, at the same time, when my opponent moves they can cast or attack either.

Now, if they know to quick turn (The default is X), this can take a bit longer and even be thwarted entirely. That's why, in a team, I like to have at least two attackers working together. Each tries to stay to one side of the target so even if they keep turning around someone will be attacking their back. Like so:


This also makes it much harder for them to get away from the attackers because they'll have to sidestep themselves or turn to the side quickly and then make a run for it, give each attacker a free shot as they do so.

And, of course, from there we get into things like pathing and body blocking and other fun tricks you can do to gain an advantage, but the simple, easy lesson here is this: Sometimes you don't want to just press space and hack away. Careful positioning and awareness of yourself in relation to your target and your environment can give you a much bigger edge than making another attack. Your character can move and slide around the battlefield. Use that tool and make the most of it.

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