GW2 June 13 Balance Philosophy Dev Livesteam Notes

GW2 June 13 Ready Up Developer Livestream notes. The focus of this livestream is on the philosophy of class balance in GW2.


  • Josh Davis – Host
  • Jonathan Sharp – Game Design Lead
  • Karl McLain – Game Designer

How is balance is approached?

It is more complicated than just how much healing and how much damage. It is hard to balance PvE with WvW and with sPvP. There are other factors such as health, mobility, damage etc.

Are balance changes proactive or reactive?

Going towards a goal or in response to the meta?

  • It is both. We have certain ways we like to push certain professions proactively.
  • There are some reactive balance changes we do based on how things develop (i.e. certain meta types).
  • Sarcraft in the early days – Terran wasn’t as good but once community learned how to play Terrans (i.e. the Koreans) they were really powerful. Elementalist is the same. At first people didn’t know how to play the class but once they know how to elementalist started to dominate and we had to tone it down.

Purity of purpose/Holes and Roles/Opportunity Cost

  • Purity of purpose: You don’t want something that does too many things at once. If everything does everything to equal levels, you don’t have this purity of purpose. You want things streamlined so players know how to use it and not too many tools within one toolbox.
  • Holes and Roles: You don’t want a single class to do things better than everybody else or else they end up as Apex predators. You want to put holes in the roles so they don’t do everything good at once.
  • Opportunity cost: If an utility skill have too much utility, it overshadow other utility skills and no one would use the other utility skills. There need to be an opportunity cost for using for skill over the other.

Hard Counters

  • Berserker stance (reduce duration of conditions) etc, deliberately put there to put moments of reaction for other players. Your playstyle will need to change for a period of time when this hard counter goes up. If you have a skill that stop all projectiles you don’t want to last too long.
  • Soft counters – you still take damage from certain things but the damage are less.
  • Hard counters is not something we are aiming for, but soft counters are.

Relation between a profession’s base health/armor weight and their DPS potential?

  • Thief have a large utility set and extreme mobility. Hit and run is more of their playstyle. That is one of the reasons why their health pool reflects that. 
  • Thief is good at jumping in quickly, unload a lot of damage and then back out. They have low health and only wears medium armor.
  • Necros have more HP but they don’t have a lot of spike potential and reflects more of a sustained potential.Guardians are the same, low HP but a lot of sustain potential.
  • Same with warriors – sustained potential until they can hit you with a burst.

Changes with various game modes

  • Existing skill change – look at the various game modes and which works for what (i..e pve, wvw, spvp). Does the change work for all 3 game modes? Will players in all 3 game modes will like it?
  • If there is a change that is needed specifically for one game mode, we can change the skill just for one game mode (i..e Pistol Whip nerf).
  • If we do a split of a skill between the various game modes, we don’t want to change things so drastically that you don’t recognize your class between the various game modes.

Where should each profession be? (based on player feedback)

  • Elementalist: Flexibility, jack of all trades, large skillsets. High AoE potential. High skill floor – hard for new players to jump in and high skill ceiling.
    • Weakness: Recovering from burst damage, but water attunement can help sustain the damage. Versatility is strength but also weakness – higher cooldowns on weapon skills. Inability to deal with booned enemies.
    • Official design: Versatility through weapon skills – we want to maintain that. Defense against sustained DPS is good and they are very supportive in most roles they assume. Low base HP is an intentional design so we can give them more support. Poor defense against spike damage is also intended so they have to wary about spike damage. Escapeability: too much in the past and helped them against spike damage. Inability against booned enemies is a specific hole in the role since they can AoE from ranged.
  • Engineer: Flexibility, jack of all trades. Lots of kits, turrets and skills. High skill floor. Good crowd control.
    • Weakness: Flexibility – not strong at anything. Some skills are very strong so you are pigeoned into specific builds. Not a lot of conditional removal.
    • Official design: Condition overload – it is by design they don’t have a lot of condition removals but we don’t want conditions to be a hard counter for engineers. You can counter the conditions with your hard and soft CCs (i.e. stuns, cripples). The issue is when you fighting multiple opponents that you can’t really counter all the conditions. Limited spike potential – we want to make sure engineers don’t do too much spike damage as there was a time in the past where this was an issue. Versatility through utility skills. Difficulty from disengage from a fight – harder than thief/mesmer.
  • Guardian: Very good at providing boons and sustained – general group support and very tanky even with a low health pool. Generally act as a frontline support  – first in and last out. Different from warriors who have a more of a selfish sustain.
    • Weakness: Reliance on boons for damage reduction and survability make them vulnerable to boon striping classes. A lot of the damage reduction is cooldown based so the longer the fight goes on the more they are vulnerable. Low mobility – you can close in on a fight quickly but you can’t get out quickly. Low ranged damage – much less utility at ranged but lots of AoEs. Elementalist can do support at ranged while guardians are more support at the frontlines.
    • Official design: Pretty close to the player feedbacks.
  • Mesmer: Misdirection, crowd control, utility. Brought in for utility all the way from GW1.
    • Weakness: Conditions are hard to deal with. Lack of AoE – good single target damage but weak at AoE situation. (A bit weaker than where we want to be. We don’t want to make it too strong as we want you to bring Eles for ranged AoE damage). Mobility – not a ton of mobility due to lack of swiftness but they do have a lot of teleports such as portals. Mesmer can get there and back with portals but can’t go too far forward due to lack of swiftness. Low defense against high burst damage – maybe some small tweaks.
    • Official design: Access to key utility skills. Gain defense through stealth, evasion, misdirection. Strong 1v1 ranged damage dealer but weaker in sustained AoE damage. Weakness – conditional removal,  sustainability if illusions are countered, AoE damage make it hard to sustain illusions.
  • Necromancer: Kings of sustained fights. High attrition damage – stronger as the fight goes on.
    • Weakness – mobility since it is hard to get out of fights, low damage mitigation once you get past the Death Shroud. Low dodge potential. Not a lot of access to swiftness and boons. You are trading it for ability to sap strength and boons from your enemies to make them to want to escape the fight.
    • Official design: Strength – sustainability, DPS in physical and conditions (maybe add a bit more in physical). Opponent control through conditions and fear. Weakness – mobility, lack of vigor for dodge, hard to disengage from fights. Lack of sustained AoE damage.
  • Ranger: High single target DPS. Long range single target damage – should be the best (mesmer comes second). Sustainability through melee evasion and dodging. Sustained melee AoE.
    • Weakeness: Dealing with boons on enemies – no boon rip. Lack in stun breakers with some builds but it is intentional since you can evade so much. Reliance on pet for maximum efficiency as pet is factored into your damage output. Your damage will be smaller than other classes due to the pet. Pet have issues against high end PvE encounters since they are more of a hindrance than help. AoE at long ranged but it is a trade off with having highest single target DPS at long range. Mobility – can’t escape fights as good as some other classes.
    • Official design: Pretty close to the player feedbacks.
  • Thief: We don’t factor in stealth in the same way we factor in initiative. It is a very specific toolset. Active defense – use evasion, stealth to avoid damage. High burst potential and high mobility. Can into and out of a fight with ease. Able to steal boons.
    • Weakness: Low passive defense (health and armor), limited condition removal, low prolonged sustainability in a fight due to their high burst potential. High skill ceiling – high damage but low survability (i.e. glass cannon). To get survability you need to trade off some damage – opportunity costs.
  • Warrior: Sturdy body, able to apply physical and conditional damage. Sustained AoE damage from melee. Melee crowd control. Hardy personal sustain.
    • Weakness: Low amount of evades – you are a warrior, you are there to block it. Low protection – you already have high sustained. Too much gap closers, need more options to escape combat. Not a lot of response to enemy boons. Reliance on adrenaline usage. Overrun by conditions if their defenses fall off.

Tournament of Legends

  • Llama mini, account bound and not tradeable. You just have to win one round to get it. Signup opened to 128 teams.


By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

38 replies on “GW2 June 13 Balance Philosophy Dev Livesteam Notes”

Agreed, warriors absolutely need more options to escape combat. They are literally rooted in place in Wvw…

Wut ? ranged hammer stuns/cripples/knockdowns, perma swiftness almost and gs moving skills are not enough ? lol…
Almost no class beside thief of rangers can escape from a wvw combat…sometimes eles, but only if they’re not too many…otherwise you get overloaded of cripples,binds and chilled and no class can escape that unless you have a good terrain advantage and/or play it smart.

They also need more dps to counteract the low amount of blocks they have. Might as well double base adrenaline output while where at it, since they are reliant on adrenaline usage. And what would a base adrenaline gain boost be without burst CD removal? Oh and boost their running speed by 50% and make them unaffected by combat slowdown. BOOM fixed inescapeability.


“Reliance on boons for damage reduction and survivability make them vulnerable to boon striping classes. A lot of the damage reduction is cooldown based so the longer the fight goes on the more they are vulnerable.” <<< This is exactly the reason why there exists a berserker meta in general.

Reliance on pet for maximum efficiency as pet is factored into your damage output. Your damage will be smaller than other classes due to the pet. Pet have issues against high end PvE encounters since they are more of a hindrance than help.

They just outlined why Rangers will forever be handicapped… and worst at most anything that isn’t capturing a point in PVP.

Exactly. You know I rolled a ranger and was told by guildies if I didn’t roll a war or guard to 80 first for dungeon runs I wasn’t invited. People throw crazy hate on the ranger I always liked their skill set more then thief. But it doesn’t matter how well you play the hate is there.

wow, thats a sad guild. One ranger in a dungeon group can bring a lot to the table, provided that you learn its pros and cons. People like that need to open their minds


Boost Thieves/Rangers in PvE Dungeon runs

Let Rangers got an option to disable there pet.

What is needed is to make the Ranger’s pet a proxy for them when it comes to boons and buffs. That would allow a Ranger to stay at range while still fully giving and sharing buffs with the rest of the party, so long as the Pet was in melee range with the stacked group members.

Haven’t watched the livestream (waiting for anet to put it on youtube). I’m pretty surprised by their reaction to the warrior. Not only the weakness is ridicilious, also the lack of naming the official design is ‘annoying’. It clearly shows that where it comes to warriors, they really are missing the point. The ‘holes’ they are seeing for the warrior are non-existing and that makes the ‘roles’ OP. So they really aught to trim down the role or create some real holes for the warrior. Maybe review the Adrenaline system so it is more like in GW1, so that the dps-skills (except skill 1, that has to be toned down a bit) use adrenaline. That would limit the burst, but with the burst skill (F1) you have a good finisher (to be used as a final blow, cause it drains all adrenaline and should only be used to finish the fight). Through the traits you would need to choose between being durable or having more burst. Atleast thats how I would do it for the warrior.

About Warriors: “[…]Low amount of evades … Low protection … Overrun by conditions if their defenses fall off… Reliance on adrenaline usage…”


Happy to challenge you anytime in pvp…i never lose against warriors. (P.S. I m champion on 3 different professions)

I don’t question his immortality, warriors are not immortal, they can die for mesmers,thiefs or any other class if you know how to play, I play with 6 classes and I can assure you that among all the best kit is the Warrior, I am in favour of nerf. What I meant isthat his status does not match the stated in the live stream.

This is unknown. But at the moment it will be an unique reward, you can only win during this tournament.

Knowing arenanet, in GuildWars 1 there have been some very unique miniatures, that where only available through very limited channels.So changes are that this miniature Liama will only be available for those that won atleast one round in the tournament.

Thanks for your answer.
Yes, I know that som gw1 miniature were only avalable through limited channels (panda, Guild Lord, mail away miniatyure like the Triceratops…)
but in GW2, they have given different way to get them (for example, Miniature Sparkles was available later as a reward for buying in the Gemstore)

So I hope you will not have this way to get it (play tournament of Legends AND win a row) to get it.

I’m not great at PvP, but when I do play, I see a HUGE gulf between warriors and other classes. Quite frankly, without being uber, most classes simply cannot compete.

I think the essential problem is that the pace of the game isn’t really taken into consideration. Considering how fast it goes in PvP, the cool-downs are ridiculously long.

In the long run, PvE becomes a joke with good gear and decent dungeon runners. A guild mate and I two-manned HotW.

Looks like you really play rarely in pvp. I play at only-dragons level (seems like matchmaking is starting to be good) and warriors are the easiest to deal with just wait that theyr stances wear off and pulverize them.

well only the lame condition warriors are hard to deal with…or even worse the soldiers amulet warriors with sword offhand (5k condi dmg with one skill which is hard to dodge) but zerker warriors are rly easy to handle

I think they should make a separate balance for every mode. Right now WvW and PvE suffers cause of anets pvp (e-sport) dream… Conditions are OP in PvP but not much in WvW (not roaming) and PvE. The ferocity nerf helped people in PvP but WvW suffered greatly because of it. etc.

I know what you mean, but personally I don’t think they should give up the dream. In GW1, there was a separate balance between pve and pvp. This resulted in a situation where the game was very difficult between the modes. Basicly GW1 PvP was a totally different game then GW1 PvE.

I do agree that there are issues that should be solved, but I think it can be done without separate balances. In my opinion they should use the Different amulet and upgrade components you use in PvP to solve e.g. the OP-ness off conditions. I think that by removing all runes/sigils/amulets that give extra condition damage in PvP (or toning them down) you can easily boost conditions so it will work effectivly in WvW/PvE and the balance in PvP is well within limits.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head in disbelief so many times over the Warrior part. Low protection, implied lack of mobility/evasion/escaping combat… Wow, do they play against enough warriors in WvW to understand how all of that is just… not even true?

I think the developers and only an handful of players see warriors as the “noob class”, you don’ t need skills to play it but has pretty low skill-ceiling and i think it’s perfect like this…new players should have a friendly profession to start with but that it won’t be as good as the others when they really will be able to play. I’ m ready to answer any question new players have about why warriors aren’t OP.

Rangers. “Pretty close to player feedback.” what a joke. Forever the game’s worst class, “Reliance on pet for maximum efficiency as pet is factored into your damage output. Your damage will be smaller than other classes due to the pet. Pet have issues against high end PvE encounters since they are more of a hindrance than help.”

Terrible ranged AoE (Barrage has a long cooldown) makes Rangers terrible in WvW while their base stats/skills don’t allow them to survive effectively in melee against zergs, Pets gain 0 benefit from gear so Rangers don’t scale as well for damage in PvE on top of how easy it is for pets to die, Capture points in PvP don’t allow Rangers to capitalize on their range without giving up the objective in small scale fights.

Condition removal overall is weak other than empathetic bond which is a Grandmaster trait. Shouts on rangers are useless while Spirits are killed easily similarly to pets, Survival skills are too niche, Signets require a Grandmaster trait to even be worth taking (The exception being renewal but the active doesn’t work when your pet is dead), Traps feel lack-luster. The Entangle elite skill also has way too obvious a tell (The only Ranger skill with the Stomp animation) given it’s cast time such that it can be reliably dodged EVERY time you use it unless they are out of stamina whilst the roots can be destroyed rather quickly (Useless in PvE).

…”Pretty close to player feedback”.

changes id love to see:


-Phantasm build nerf – There souldnt be a way to play where you just cast 2 phantasm with maybe a CC and then just kite… wait for ur next Phantasm and go on kiting. How can you seriously want that —> change the way Phantasms work / let them just use one attackchain and let em despawn after a few seconds so u can still shatter them

-Pu Trait nerf – Isnt stealth enough to take an advantage upon ur oponent? does it really has to be perma protection and Regeneration + aegis ? u cant kill a smart playing PU (most in wvw arent smart though…) Anet you really wanna have an unkillable opponent with pretty decent damage?

(I am main Mesmer myself and really know what this class should be able to do and what not)

-Autoattack is at the moment by far the lowest damage of all classes ( only gs with max range is pretty decent) so a buff there would be a nice change
-the AoE dmg is pretty low but hey not every class should be able to do massive aoes.. so thats ok in my opinion
-the utility skills could be more supportive for the team though but there were some good changes in the last patch so its hopefully on a good way


-Same as for the mesmer (Pu) the Trait Shadows Rejuvenation : WHY should there be a way to deal a massive amount of dmg without risking ur life in any situation?

I know there are so many bad players out there u can kill even if they use that trait, but offering that way to play is just wrong.


-lack of mobility seriously? even a thief has to make a big effort to be as fast as a warrior.
But shouldnt be a HEAVY armor class the slowest class? just think about it..

-and seriously nerf the offhand sword torment skill. Without using any condition gear ur dealing like 5k damage + the skill is hard to dodge


-well the pet is in most situations and game modes really useless, there should be a way for the ranger to control the movement and skills more with F1-F4. To make the pet just stronger would be just stupid. it needs more surviveability and more usefulness

-the 1hand sword autochain is pretty useless even if u get used to it

-overall i think ranger is one of the best one on one classes with awesome surviveability. so make some changes to pet control etc and its a decent class for at least pvp /wvw roaming
in pve dungeons u can deal a lot of damage with ranger if u know how, the stupid warriors shouting for other warriors will never learn it..

-so only thing is the utility of this class in Zerg wvw, there we need big changes though


– pretty strong with condition and zerker damage in pvp and wvw / really hard to deal with in 1on1s
i think its one of the strongest classes but dont nerf it cause its strong make others better

the only nerf goes hand in hand with my wish of a condition damage nerf which would affect all classes..cause condi spam cant be the answer for everything in pvp
i guess anet wanna make condi dmg a good alternative in pve but 1st Why do we need that and 2nd then we would need a separation between pvp and pve


-for me its like necro one of the strongest classes in every game mode. Does not need any changes


– i like it how it is with only a bit more surviveability against condis without that 100% immune crap

Best regards Mimsy [iP] Inglorious Pasta r80 wvw roamer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.