This is an in-depth guide to approaching Squad Roles and Role Compression.
Squad Roles in Endgame
Guild Wars 2 has nine classes in the base game, each with five traitlines, three of which can be selected to create a build.
Each expansion the game recieves adds an elite specialization traitline for each class, totaling three per class so far, one of which can be equipped at a time replacing a core traitline.
Specialization traitlines will generally outperform core traitlines, and so are better for endgame content in most instances.
As a damage dealer or ‘DPS’, your primary job is to build for maximum damage per second in instanced content. The majority of classes have DPS builds that can perform well at any given encounter.
Check out our Benchmarks page to see who is performing the best.
Hybrid builds, or Support DPS builds, are your run of the mill DPS build but with some small changes to provide either Alacrity or Quickness.
This is from the concept of "Role Compression" by which we try to eliminite excess Healing by swapping out a dedicated healer to a "Support DPS Build".
As a healer, your main priority is to keep your allies alive and topped up on health. Some fights are very healing intensive even for the most capable classes.
You will be expected to provide the bulk of your subgroup boons, and either Alacrity or Quickness. Your build should also provide Fury and Might, with the possibilities of additional auxilary boons such as Stability.
The different classes, and players, that you are supporting may take different amounts of damage so only try to optimize for less healing in favour of DPS if you are experienced.
You will also be expected to Tank on a healer build.
Tanks and Kiters
Tanks and Kiters control where enemies and mechanics are aimed or positioned, to make the encounter easier for the other players in their squad. They are not needed in every encounter and can vary in how they work.
Tanking is most often Toughness based where relevant, so as a rule it is best to avoid Toughness gear in builds unless you want to be the tank.
Depending on the encounter, these roles may use either Healing, Blocks or Special defensive abilities to survive greater damage than a normal build.
Kiting is typically positionally based within the arena, and may require unique gearsets and builds - it is best to read up on encounters beforehand to decide what you will need.
Mixing Roles or ‘Role Compression’
In Guild Wars 2, many classes are capable of filling multiple roles, and even covering multiple of the above roles at once.
In an ideal subgroup of five, there will be a healer also providing Quickness or Alacrity, a DPS support covering the opposite boon to their healer and three full dps classes. DPS builds are typically subbed if a special role such as a kiter is needed.
One of the healers will tank, although many DPS supports and even some DPS classes are capable of tanking. Keep in mind that some bosses may require more than one tank.
This layout maximises subgroup potential, but is not strict for ensuring clears. Almost all endgame content can be cleared without using role compression in theory, it is simply a method of optimising.