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Getting into Meta-Builds

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Getting into Meta-Builds

Meta-builds are prefabricated setups for your skills, traits and equipment, that are optimized for efficiency and come with a recommended rotation, meaning a predefined sequence in which you should use your skills to get the best performance out of your build.

While there is nothing wrong about experimenting with your own builds and setups, you should be able to play at least one meta-build if you want to group up with other players to get into high-level content in the game. This will save you (and your teammates) a lot of frustration.

You can find meta-builds on websites like www.snowcrows.com, lucky-noobs.com (both specialized on raid builds) or discretize.eu (specialized on high-end fractal builds). The builds provided on metabattle.com should be applied with caution: some are great, others don't work in endgame content at all.

Implementing a meta-build on your character can be a bit overpowering, though, if you have to do it for the first time. This text is supposed to guide you step by step through the process. Most of it you will already know, some other details might just provide the missing link and therefore make the difference.

First a short overview over the components of a meta-build:

Class and Role (Elite Specialization)

There are meta-builds for every character class (e.g. ranger), with some rare exceptions usually making use of one of the two elite specializations that the class provides (e.g. druid, soulbeast).

Specializations, Traits and Utility Skills

Meta-builds specify what additional specializations you want to pick (next to the elite specialization that defines the build), what traits you want to select within the specializations and what utility skills you want to put into your (right-hand) skillbar.

Weapons and Sigils

Meta-builds usually recommend two sets of weapons with specific stats and sigils. While the type of the weapon (e.g. sword, staff) obviously defines your (left-hand) skillbar, the weapon stats (e.g. beserker, viper, harrier) boost your character’s attributes (e.g. power, condition damage, concentration, healing power). The sigils provide damage boosts or other benefits.

Armor and Runes

Of course meta-builds also recommend the appropriate stats and runes for the armor to wear while using the build. The armor class (heavy, medium and light) is predefined by your character’s class. The stats, like in weapons, boost your character’s attributes. The runes provide attribute bonuses or other benefits.

Trinkets

Meta-builds also instruct you on the type of rings, accessories, amulet and back item you want to use. Again, the trinkets’ stats boost your character’s attributes.

Infusions

As a special kind of upgrade, infusions can grant agony resistance as well as minor attribute bonuses. They can be used in weapons, armor pieces and trinkets (except for amulets).

Food and Utility Items

Meta-builds also advise you on what kind of consumables (food and utility items) you want to use while playing the build. Again, the consumables boost your character’s attributes or grant other benefits.

Usage

As the most complex part, meta-builds provide instructions on how, when and in what sequence you want to activate your skills to get the best performance out of your build.

Edited by Tyger
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Class and Role (Elite Specialization)

The first thing you want to do is to pick a certain class and role that you want to go for (e.g. power soulbeast), get a character of this class (e.g. ranger) to level 80 and invest the hero points necessary to maximize the appropriate elite specialization (e.g. soulbeast).

Within the elite specializations, meta-builds usually focus on one of the following functions or roles: power-dps (dealing direct damage to foes), condi-dps (applying conditions to foes), heal (providing healing for allies) or boons (providing boons for allies). Though all builds fulfill more or less all of these functions to a certain extent, meta-builds usually focus on one of them for better efficiency.

If you are not sure which role to pick, you can find loads of videos on the internet, portraying roles and builds. Some builds are quite easy to learn and play, while some have a steeper learning curve and require a lot of training to master. Just pick what you feel comfortable with.

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Specializations, Traits and Utility Skills

The next thing you want to do is to open the “Build”-tab in your “Hero”-window and copy the settings for the elite specialization (e.g. Soulbeast) and the two additional specializations (e.g. Beastmastery and Skirmishing).

This done, you can select the traits that come with these specializations. Since the game connects the selected traits in the display with glowing lines, these settings are called “traitlines”.

After that, you want to copy the five utility skills for the right-hand skillbar: your healing skill, the three additional utility skills and the elite skill.

Beginner’s Advice: The whole process can be shortcut by copying a template code that is given on the websites that provide the meta-builds, right-clicking on an Account Build Storage slot (on the “Build”-rider of your “Hero”-window) and select the option “Paste Build Template”. This enables you to load the setup into your active build by simply left-clicking it. But of course you can also copy the settings one by one by hand.

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Weapons and Sigils

To fight, you need weapons. Most meta-builds offer two sets of weapons (while a set is either one dual-handed weapon or two single-handed weapons) with the appropriate stats. Since you can swap between two weapon sets during the fight, the rotations that come with the build usually make use of this to access different weapon skills and minimize the time in which you can’t use any skill because of cooldowns.

Weapons

The type of weapon (e.g. sword, staff) determines what skills you have in your left-hand skillbar. These skills can’t be altered, but are determined by weapon type and character class alone, so they are often referred to as class (resp. elite specialization) name, weapon type and the position in the skill bar (e.g. “rev sword-5”, “daredevil staff-3”) instead of the name of the skill.

Apart from that, weapons carry stats, meaning they improve three or four of your character’s attributes, but only if the weapon is actually wielded (meaning only the stats of the active weapon set count). Meta-builds tell you which stats (e.g. berserker, viper, diviner) you should have on your weapons.

Since the effectiveness of most skills depends on one or two attributes, having the correct stats for your build is crucial. Your weapons account for about 18.1% of the total increase in attribute points possible (without infusions and consumables).

The published meta-builds use ascended weapons. If you happen to have a legendary weapon of the appropriate type, you can obviously use this one, as long as you customize it to have the appropriate stats. While you can change the stats on a legendary weapon at will, doing the same on an ascended weapon is possible, but can only be done in the mystic forge while investing some resources.

Beginner’s Advice: If you do not have ascended weapons yet, you can totally use exotic ones. The increase in weapon strength and stats from exotic to ascended is only about 5%. What ascended weapons offer and exotic weapons don’t, though, is the infusion slot, that you need especially if you want to play higher tier fractals. And since you can get ascended weapons quite easily (e.g. by doing the collections for the elite specializations), you might want to have at least your primary weapon as an ascended one.

Sigils

Meta-builds tell you which sigils you want to upgrade your weapons sets with. Very often the sigils listed provide a damage increase, sometimes they increase the boon duration. High-end builds actually recommend you to have weapons with alternative sigils (e.g. with a damage bonus at nighttime or against certain enemies) in your inventory, that you can use in certain situations, but usually you are fine with the main sigils described in the build.

All sigils used in meta-builds are superior sigils. If you happen to have legendary sigils, you are welcome to use them and customize them to the appropriate type.

Beginner’s Advice: Some widely used sigils (e.g. superior sigil of impact, superior sigil of force) can cost a couple of gold, but you might want to invest that, at least for your primary weapon set. Crafting the sigils with your artificer, huntsman or weaponsmith can be a cheap alternative, if you have (most of) the materials in stock.

If you want to replace the listed sigils anyway, make sure that your replacements provide more or less the same sort of bonuses that are described in the build.

Edited by Tyger
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Armor and Runes

Since you don’t want to face the perils of the endgame in the nude, you need a decent set of armor to wear. Meta-builds usually list one specific set of armor for each build.

Armor

Apart from providing defense rating according to the armor type (heavy, medium or light) and rarity (e.g. exotic, ascended), armor pieces carry stats, meaning they improve three or four of you character’s attributes, as long as the specific piece of armor is not destroyed. Since the type of armor is determined by your character’s class anyway, it is especially the stats that you need to pay attention to.

As with weapons, having the correct stats for your build is crucial. Your six armor pieces (armor set) account for about 31.8% of the total increase in attribute points possible (without infusions and consumables). Your chest piece provides about 10.2% thereof, the legs about 6.8%, the helmet about 4.6% and the additional pieces (shoulders, gloves and boots) 3.4% each.

The published meta-builds use ascended armor. If you happen to have legendary armor, you can obviously use this, as long as you customize it to have the appropriate stats. (You shouldn’t be reading this guide then, though.) While you can change the stats on a legendary piece of armor at will, doing the same on an ascended piece of armor is possible, but can only be done in the mystic forge while investing some resources.

Beginner’s Advice: If you do not have an ascended armor set yet, you can totally use an exotic one, if it has the correct stats. The increase in defense rating and stats from exotic to ascended is only about 5%. What ascended armor offers and exotic armor doesn’t, though, is the infusion slot, that you need especially if you want to play higher tier fractals. A full set of ascended armor is quite expensive, so you might want to focus on getting ascended trinkets and weapons first.

Runes

Meat-builds tell you which runes you want to upgrade your armor set with. Since runes provide better bonuses the more runes of one kind you have equipped, it is always a full set of six runes of the same kind that is listed in the build.

All runes used in meta-builds are superior runes. If you happen to have legendary runes, you are welcome to use them and customize them to the appropriate type.

Beginner’s Advice: Some runes listed in meta-builds can cost a decent amount of gold (e.g. superior rune of the scholar) or some special dungeon currency (e.g. superior rune of the monk, superior rune of the nightmare). Some runes can be crafted by your armorsmith, leatherworker or tailor, what can be a cheap alternative, if you have (most of) the materials in stock. The dungeon currency can be farmed quite easily by playing the explorable mode of the specific dungeon.

If you want to replace the listed runes anyway, make sure that your replacements provide approximately the same sort of bonuses. In any case, always use one full set of six superior runes of the same kind.

Edited by Tyger
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Trinkets

Although seemingly just some supplements, trinkets (amulet, back item, rings and accessories) with the correct stats are extremely important for a properly working build, because they account for about 50.1% of the total increase in attribute points possible (without infusions and consumables). Your amulet provides about 11.4% thereof, the two rings about 9.1% each, the two accessories about 8.0% each and the back item about 4.6%.

The published meta-builds use ascended trinkets. If you happen to have legendary trinkets, you are welcome to use them and customize them to the appropriate stats.

Beginner’s Advice: Ascended trinkets are easy enough to get, so don’t waste your time with exotic ones. You can buy them with almost every resource in the game, from laurels over guild recommendations to fractal relics and coins, and are a quite common drop in fractals. Ascended back items can be acquired quite easily as a reward for a lot of collections. Mind though, that not all trinkets allow stat selection, and unlike with weapons and armor pieces, you normally can’t change the stats of trinkets in the mystic forge.

Trinkets of all types with selectable stats can be purchased especially from vendors in living world season 3 and 4 maps for map currency and unbound respectively volatile magic.

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Infusions

Ascended and legendary weapons, pieces of armor and trinkets (without amulets) have at least one infusion slot (back items can have two, rings even three) that hold an infusion. Most commonly these slots are used to hold agony infusions that you need in fractals or cosmetic infusions that influence the appearance of your character in a special way.

Meta-builds list a specific type of infusion though, that increases one attribute (e.g. power) by the tiny amount of five points each. Since a fully ascended character has up to 18 infusion slots (two on the active weapon set, six on the armor set, two on the back item, three on each ring and one on each accessory), you can boost one attribute by 18 x 5 = 90 additional points (what is an increase of about 6.5% on your primary attribute, if your build uses stats that boost three attributes, like e.g. berserker).

Beginner’s Advice: Since these attribute-enhancing infusions are extremely expensive and you usually need to play a lot of high level fractals to get them, just ignore them until you get to the point where you have the means and the time to squeeze the last bit of extra performance out of your setup.

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Food and Utility Items

Food and utility Items are consumables that provide two different kinds of positive effects for a limited amount of time. Not being a permanent part of the setup, the benefits they provide are nevertheless quite important for a fairly low price.

Since these benefits are not permanent to begin with, using food or utility items with slightly different kinds of benefits (especially on a secondary attribute) can be a sleek way to fine-tune your build for a specific encounter.

Food

Food items (snacks, soups, meals, desserts and feasts) provide a positive effect called “nourishment”. Most meta-builds use food items that provide a +100 increase to a primary attribute and a +70 increase to a secondary attribute, alongside with a (usually +10%) boost on experience gained by killing foes (e.g. a Bowl of Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash Soup for power-dps roles like soulbeast or reaper, that increases power by +100 and ferocity by +70), what is an increase of about 7.25% to each attribute.

Depending on the specific food item, they can be crafted by chefs, gained at events or bought at the trading post or a vendor-npc. Metabolic primers can be used to prolong the duration of the nourishment effect.

Beginner’s Advice: Organized groups often provide food for all players to use in the form of feasts, so you might not need to get food items of your own. If so, groups usually provide different feasts for different roles, so you should be able to identify the appropriate feast for your role (e.g. a Peppercorn-Crusted Sous-Vide Steak for power-dps classes that provides the mentioned benefits of +100 power and +70 ferocity). Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to have a couple of food items of the appropriate kind in your inventory, just in case.

Utility Items

Utility items (sharpening stones, maintenance oils, tuning crystals, slayer potions, writs and theses) provide a positive effect called “enhancement”. Most meta-builds use utility items that provide an increase to the primary attribute, calculated as +3% of one secondary attribute and +6% of another secondary attribute, alongside with a (usually +10%) boost on experience gained by killing foes (e.g. a Potent Superior Sharpening Stone for power-dps roles like soulbeast or reaper, that increases your power attribute by +3% of your precision and +6% of your ferocity attribute).

Depending on the specific utility item, they can be crafted by weaponsmiths, huntsmen, artificers or scribes, gained at events or bought at the trading post or a vendor-npc. Utility primers can be used to prolong the duration of the enhancement effect.

Beginner’s Advice: Unlike food, utility items cannot be provided by the group for everyone to participate, but must be crafted or bought by every player themselves. Usually the utility items listed in meta-builds are not very expensive, though. If you want to replace the utility items listed in the meta-build, make sure they boost your primary attribute on the basis of attributes that are already increased by your gear or food items.

Edited by Tyger
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Usage

After getting the gear and adjustments, you need to put it all to work. The best gear and stats can only work mediocre at best, if you don’t know how to use it. Meta-builds therefore advise you on when to use what skill and in what sequence, to deal the maximum amount of damage, or heal or buff your allies most efficiently.

Rotation

Usually meta-builds give you a sequence in which you want to use your skills, adjusted for the cooldowns and energy costs of your skills and making use of synergistic effects between the skills used. Once done with the sequence, you jump back to the start and go though it again, hence the sequence is called a rotation. Many rotations use an opener, i.e. a special sequence you only go through at the start of an encounter. Some rotations need to be modified, according to what your enemy does or to other effects in the game.

Mastering your rotation is the most difficult and at the same time most important part of getting into a meta-build. It may take a lot of training to get it into your muscle memory, and even more to be able to stick to it when you are pushed and bashed by all kinds of attacks and mechanics.

Training

To practice your build, the game provides you with the Special Forces Training Area, accessible through the Aerodrome in Lions Arch. There you can spawn a dummy target (in the form of a kitty golem) with all kinds of specifications. Mind that you can only enter the area in a raid-squad (limited to ten players). It is possible, though, to create a single-player squad with raid-specifications for yourself and enter, even if you don’t have a commander tag.

Monitoring

While fighting the dummy golem, the game gives you some scarce information about the damage you are dealing in the ingame chat window (usually a dps-value at every 25% of golem-health).

If you want to monitor your performance better (not only at the golem, but in every fight in the game), you might want to install a third party program like arcdps, what a lot of players do. Mind, though, that the use of third party programs can interfere with the integrity of your game, possibly crash it and can even get you banned. So any use of third party programs is entirely on your own risk. If you decide to use a monitoring program all the same, please refrain from using the data collected to harass or ridicule your teammates.

If you want to compare your performance with data published on the internet, you should select the settings for boons, effects and conditions on the golem in a realistic way, i.e. a way that can be actually achieved by a real squad. The snowcrows-website recommends the following settings for most builds: Turn on all conditions on the golem. Turn on the boons of might (25 stacks), fury, alacrity, quickness, swiftness, regeneration and vigor and the ranger-effects of frost spirit, sun spirit and spotter as well as the warrior-effects of empower allies, banner of strength and banner of discipline. If your role is supposed to provide a certain boon or effect and you want to monitor your uptime on that, just don’t activate this specific boon or effect.
 

Beginner’s Advice: If you are new to using a rotation instead of just clicking randomly every skill that comes off cooldown, here are some hints designed for making the access easier:

Key-binds

Being able to perform a rotation quickly and at the same time have your eyes on the enemy and the mechanics can be crucial. So it is strongly advised to activate skills by pressing keys on your keyboard or mouse, not by clicking them on the screen using the mouse cursor.

Since the default settings don’t allow a smooth enough activation with one hand, you should reallocate the most important functions in the game on your keyboard keys or mouse buttons. There are countless methods for doing this, most of them more or less centering around the keys that you use for moving (on a QUERTY keyboard layout this would be W, A, S and D). So you can for example leave the (weapon) skills of the left-hand skillbar on the keys for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and allocate the skills of the right-hand skillbar around your movement keys (e.g. the healing skill on Q, the elite skill on E and the three utility skills on Z, X and C).

Especially important is an easy to reach key for evade/dodge (e.g. an additional mouse button) and for the special action skill (e.g. the middle mouse button or mouse 3).

Moreover, it is strongly recommended to change the keys for side-wise movement (usually A and D) from “Turn left”/”Turn right” to “Strafe left”/”Strafe right”. This will make movement under fire a lot easier. If you want to actually turn your character, just press the right mouse-button and move your mouse.

Game options

Some default game option settings don’t really work well with a fast and precise playstyle. So you might want to implement the following changes in the “General Options” tab, section “Combat/Movement”, in the “Options”-window:

So it is highly recommended to disable “Double-Tap to Evade” and get used to using a designated key for dodging. As a nice side-effect, this will save you from dodging off ledges in jumping puzzles and the likes by mistake.

A lot of people suggest to disable “Autotargeting” at all, so you don’t end up chasing the wrong foe, in the worst of cases right into the abyss. Mind though, that without autotargeting, you have to select your target manually.

You definitely want to disable “Melee Attack Assist”, otherwise you can’t run through foes and will get body-blocked.

Ground Targeting” should be set to “Fast with Range Indicator”. This allows you to use aoe-skills by holding down the skill-key, placing the target cursor with moving the mouse, and activate the skill by just letting go of the skill-key. This saves you a left-click in comparison with the “Normal” method. If you choose “Instant”, your skill will be activated the moment you hit the skill-key and in the place (closest) to the current position of your mouse cursor, without showing a target cursor at all.

Very helpful is enabling “Lock Ground Target at Maximum Skill Range”, so you don’t end up not activating an aoe-skill because you placed the target cursor out of range by mistake. “Snap Ground Target to Current Target” should only be enabled if you always want to place your aoe-target on your current target. Normally, however, you will be better off with disabling it, so you don’t get disturbed while placing the target cursor.

Edited by Tyger
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