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Preparing To Raid

Introduction

Welcome to this guide on how to get your first character ready to start clearing raids or strikes. The guide assumes that you are a new player who does not have many of the tools, resources, or crafting levels that more experienced players will have to gear a character. Since raids and strike missions are expansion content this guide will assume that you do own at least one of the expansions.

The first steps to getting a raid-ready character that are covered in this section are as follows:

  1. Create a character.
  2. Level your character to level 80.
  3. Decide on the build you want to gear and start training the elite specialization.
  4. Try to level your masteries that are useful for raids.

Create your character

The first step is obviously to create a character! Don’t worry about selecting the wrong profession as all professions can be useful in a variety of roles throughout all raid and strike encounters. Whilst some professions might fall behind at the highest level of speedrun groups, any profession with a well theorycrafted build can be useful in any group that is not speedrunning.

Pick the profession that you enjoy playing, not the one that does the most damage.

Level up your character

Next, level your character to 80 since both raids and strikes require you to be level 80. Either level manually by exploring and doing events or use a Level 80 Boost that you get for free whenever you buy any of the expansions. The second option will be faster, but will put you at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding your class.

Levelling manually will help you see if you like playing your profession and to help you learn the mechanics of your chosen profession. That understanding will help you learn rotations faster and understand why certain choices in builds are made.

The Level 80 Boost allows you to jump ahead and start progressing on raiding almost immediately. The Level 80 Boost will give you a set of level 80 Exotic (the second highest rarity stat wise) gear that will help you train your elite specialization and level your masteries. The gear that is given by the boost has Celestial stats, which means it gives a decent amount of all stats, this is relatively good as a starting gear and for a few classes can even be the best gear for your chosen build. The boost also gives 25 , these are a utility item used by power DPS (damage per second) professions.

Decide on your build

The last two stages of this first section can be completed in the background whilst working through the rest of the guide but since they will influence the gear you want to acquire they are listed first.

Once you have reached level 80 on your chosen profession, select what build you want to start working towards. Almost all builds require the use of an Elite Specialization so your next step is to start training the Elite Specialization required for the build you have selected.

There are 2 pages that can help you decide which build you want to work towards:

  1. The Beginner's Build Page lists a few easy to pick up builds that are ideal for the starter raider to have as their first raid character.
  2. The Main Build Page lists all the builds on this site and contains the full range of builds that you can consider gearing. The Builds page allows you to filter the list of all builds by Profession, Damage Type, and Role. Since you already have a profession at level 80, filter this page to only show the builds for your profession.

All builds in GW2 generally fall into the following categories:

  • DPS – Your average damage-dealer squad member. They usually focus on either Power or Condition Damage – all professions can fulfil this role.
  • Support - The support category is extremely broad and covers a large selection of builds. They provide their subgroup with important boons such as Might, Fury and then one of Quickness or Alacrity alongside many other boons. Since a support build only gives one of Quickness or Alacrity you will need 2 per subgroup, because of this you will very often find a support build that is also a healer for either their subgroup or for the whole squad. If your support isn't healing then they will be dealing damage as a support DPS hybrid that also deals either Power or Condition Damage just like a normal DPS build. - almost all professions can fulfil this role in some form.
  • Banners – A build that provides the rest of the squad with powerful stat increases whilst also dealing a large amount of personal damage – only the Warrior profession can fill this role and there will be one per squad, most Warrior builds also have a secondary DPS option listed on their pages as well.
  • Hand Kite – this is a very niche type of build that is only used on a single raid boss and it should not be used to gear your first character.

It is worth mentioning that both Warrior and Ranger are in a quite weird position at the moment since they provide the squad with unique 10 man buffs, banners and spirits respectively, that are great additions to the squad. These unique buffs will be removed in a balance patch coming this summer so their position in the meta is likely to change drastically. Heal Druid is a perfect example of this, being a support class it is able to give its subgroup Might, Fury, Regeneration and Protection, as well as give the squad damage bonuses through offensive spirits like and but most importantly it cant provide Quickness or Alacrity so it position within the meta is quite strange and slightly tenuous due to its inability to fulfil what most other support classes can.

Train your Specialisation

Once you have decided upon a build, go to its individual build page and look at the gear, food, traits, and rotation. There are build template links on every build page that allow you to copy the traits for your chosen build into your own characters’ build templates. You will likely have the third trait line and probably a few of your utility skills locked since it will be from an Elite Specialization that you haven’t trained yet.

The obvious next step is to train your chosen build’s Elite Specialization; this is most easily done by running through the maps of a specific expansion and completing hero points. Expansion map hero points provide 10 times the amount of hero points as core Tyria maps.

Level your masteries

Whilst you are training your elite specialization in the previous section, also think about unlocking and spending mastery points to unlock masteries. A few raid encounters require the use of specific masteries whilst other masteries merely make some fight mechanics easier to manage. There is a specific raiding mastery track but it will not be unlocked until you have killed one boss in one of the Heart of Thorns wings.

Below is a recommended list of masteries that you should start training as you work through getting your character geared. They are ordered in terms of most important to least important.

Necessary to complete certain encounters:

  • Glider Basics – from the Gliding mastery track from Heart of Thorns.
  • Updraft Use – from the Gliding mastery track from Heart of Thorns.
  • Ley Line Gliding – from the Gliding mastery track from Heart of Thorns.
  • Shifting Sands – from the Jackal Mount mastery track from Path of Fire.

This secondary list of masteries is not necessary to complete any encounters, but not having them will cause other members of your raid squad to either complete a mechanic for you or help transport you over certain obstacles using a or .

  • Forsaken Thicket Waters – from the Raids mastery track from Heart of Thorns (this track is only unlocked after you have killed your first raid boss).
  • Explosive Launch – from the Raids mastery track from Heart of Thorns (this track is only unlocked after you have killed your first raid boss).
  • Bouncing Mushrooms – from the Itzel Lore mastery track from Heart of Thorns.
  • Nuhoch Stealth Detection – from the Nuhoch Lore mastery track from Heart of Thorns.
  • High Vault – from the Springer Mount mastery track from Path of Fire.
  • Canyon Jumping – from the Raptor Mount mastery track from Path of Fire.

On each raid wing guide page it is explained in more detail which raid wing requires or optionally needs all of these masteries!

Gearing

Now that you have decided on a build to work towards, you need to acquire the gear to help your build fulfil its role. On the build page you will see the weapons, armour, trinkets, sigils, runes, infusions, and the stat prefixes of all gear.

All builds on this site are designed around using infusions and full ascended gear. Ascended gear is the second highest rarity of gear and has stats identical to the highest rarity of gear, Legendary. Ascended gear has the lucky side benefit of being able to be stat swapped for a small cost so as long as you have the correct type of weapon or weight of armour it can be changed to your desired prefix. The exact process is described on the Stat Changing wiki page. The third highest rarity of gear is called Exotic which is perfectly usable as starter gear and only has 5% lower stats than ascended gear.

It is recommended to start raiding with ascended weapons and trinkets, but not required.

The 5% stat bonus from ascended is more noticeable on trinkets as they grant more stats than armour. Having 5% more weapon strength from an ascended weapon is a significant improvement on any damage-dealing role as most of your skills include a damage calculation which includes your character's weapon strength. However, you can start raiding in full exotic gear as you work towards more pieces of ascended gear, both raid and strike encounters have a chance to drop ascended gear as well as will give currency that can be used to buy specific ascended pieces you might want. Due to the slightly lower stats, be prepared to practice harder to achieve the same results as other players!

The second limitation of exotic gear is that you cannot use infusions. Infusions are upgrade items that slot into all pieces of ascended rarity and above excluding the amulet. They allow builds to gain a marginal increase in stats to improve the performance of your build. For now, focus on the other gearing aspects aside from infusions. These can be worked toward after you have become experienced with your class and raiding in general if you want to push your performance to the highest level.

The acquisition of exotic and ascended gear for any build is described in the following sections:

  • Weapons
  • Sigils
  • Armour
  • Runes
  • Trinkets

Weapons

Ascended weapons are usually obtained through crafting; however, there are a couple of options for easier acquisition.

You can complete a Specialization Collection to obtain an ascended weapon related to your profession. However, not all builds use the weapon that is obtained through this method. In general, the Specialization Collections of both End of Dragons Path of Fire are cheaper than those of Heart of Thorns. All ascended weapons acquired from Specialization Collections only allow for a few different weapon prefixes to be selected which might not be the prefix required for your chosen build, they can however be stat swapped just like any ascended weapon although they will lose their unique item status.

The second route is to complete the Knight of Thorn Side Story achievements. You have a choice of a dagger, greatsword, scepter, shield, or sword with any stat prefix upon completing this side story with the exception Dragon's or Ritualist's, the two new stat sets added with End od Dragons. After you have completed the entirety of the Heart of Thorns story, you will receive a mail to start this side story at the next daily reset.

Finally you can simply craft one. To do so requires a level 500 crafting in the discipline that your weapon is a type of: Artificer for foci, staves and scepters; Huntsman for short bows, longbows, pistols, rifles, torches and warhorns; Weaponsmith for axes, daggers, swords, greatswords, maces, hammers, and shields. Levelling a crafting profession to 500 is quite expensive so it might be better to just use an exotic weapon until you acquire an ascended weapon through other means, for example dropping a weapon chest or ascended weapon from a raid or strike encounter as well as a tiny chance from any enemy or chest in the game, which can then be stat swapped to the prefix you want as explained earlier.

Exotic weapons can be obtained by either buying them off the Trading Post, where you will want to apply filters for the stat prefixes to obtain the correct stats; buying from dungeon vendors, which don’t usually sell very useful stats apart from Berserker; or by crafting them at crafting level 400. Levelling a crafting profession to 400 is far cheaper than going to 500.

For more information on leveling crafting check out gw2crafts.net.

Sigils

Once you have obtained the weapons for your build you will want to slot sigils into them. Many weapons come with sigils already in them so check that you don't already have a useful sigil in your weapon that you are overwriting. Most sigils can be crafted but some recipes are hard or time gated to acquire or are expensive. If you either don’t want to wait to unlock a sigil recipe or don’t want to spend money to level a crafting profession, then you can usually buy sigils from the Trading Post. After you acquire them you can simply double click on the sigil and then once on the weapon to slot them into your chosen weapon.

If you are using exotic weapons and want to upgrade to ascended gear then you either need a or . This retrieves your sigil from the exotic weapon to reuse it in the ascended weapon. Otherwise you will have to craft or buy a new set of sigils.

Armour

The difficulty of acquiring exotic armour will vary wildly depending on what stats you want.

The easiest is Berserker stats because it is a core-game stat. It is used by all power damage builds. For Berserker gear, the best way to obtain it is by buying it off the trading post.

  1. Zhed's Armor for light armour professions.
  2. Nika's Armor for medium armour professions.
  3. Devona's Armor for heavy armour professions.

Another very easy stat prefix to acquire is Celestial. As mentioned earlier in this guide if you use a Level 80 Boost that you get when you buy an expansion then your character receives a full set of celestial armour, weapons and trinkets. If you levelled your character without the level boost you can still use it on a level 80 character and you will still receive the celestial gear although that does mean you can't use it on any other characters you make.

For most other commonly used stat prefixes, either acquire some stat selectable armour pieces or substitute for a lesser stat prefix and hope that the ascended pieces of the correct stat set you have will make up for your armour not giving the correct stat prefix.

  1. The easiest source of stat selectable exotic armour is Bladed Armor, an armour set associated with Verdant Brink, the first map of the Heart of Thorns expansion.
  2. If you are willing to do PvP or WvW to gear your PvE character you can complete either PvP league chests or WvW skirmish rewards to obtain the .
  3. Most of the Living World season 3 and 4 and Icebrood Saga story meta-achievements give single pieces of exotic stat selectable armour.

If you aren’t able to obtain the previously listed stat selectable armour, there are specific alternatives for different types of builds.

For healer-type builds you ideally would be running Harrier stats. However, since quite a few healers run 100% boon duration to be safe, the actual boon duration requirement is a bit lower. You can afford to run Magi stats if you can’t obtain Harrier armour from the previous stat-selectable sources. Magi stats are also convenient since almost all healers will run which requires you to do the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon to get s. The vendor you buy monk runes from also sells exotic Magi armour which already has monk runes slotted in them! Disclaimer: whilst running lower boon duration on your healer is possible, you should still try to improve your gear to ascended Harrier gear as having the extra boon duration will be more helpful to your team.

For condi-type builds you usually run Viper and sometimes a piece or two of Sinister gear. Sinister is taken because full ascended viper stats can overcap on your Expertise (condition duration) so Sinister gear prevents wasted Expertise from viper stats - with exotics this won’t be an issue, so don’t worry about Sinister gear. One way to get an easy piece of viper gear is to complete the final story step of the Heart of Thorns story which will give you a box containing your choice of any exotic viper armour or weapon. A second choice is to get some exotic gear with either Carrion or Rabid stats. Carrion gear is useful for condi builds that don’t have condi on critical hit traits. Be careful with Rabid gear as it does give Toughness that can easily mess up tanking in your squad. It is generally best to avoid any Toughness stats, especially as a DPS.

For boon duration-type builds that need stat types like Diviner it is usually going to be easier to get Berserker armour and find boon duration from other sources. Other sources of easy boon duration include:

  1. Ascended Diviner weapons or trinkets.
  2. Running a few exotic Celestial pieces - similar to Rabid gear you might need to watch your Toughness so you don't steal aggro from your tank.
  3. or changing rune from something like Scholar to or similar boon duration runes.
  4. Swapping food to and can net you an easy 16% boon duration.

The two new stat prefixes added with End of Dragons, Dragon's and Ritualist's are unavailable from stat selectable sources, they instead require you to craft exotic armour from recipes bought from two specific vendors. For Dragon's stats you will want to craft Jade Tech armour that you buy recipes for from any Xunlai Jade Sales Associate, for Ritualist's stat you will want to craft the Exotic Ancient Canthan armour that you buy recipes for from Chin-Hwa. For the Ancient Canthan armour you will need to have unlocked the rare version by playing through the End of Dragons story.

Runes

After you have gotten your exotic armour, you will want to slot in some runes to complete your armour set. Acquiring runes is similar to sigils where you can either buy them from the Trading post or craft them yourself, once again make sure to check you don't already have a useful rune set in the armour you have acquired! Crafting is usually cheaper but it will require investment to level your crafting professions.

Some rune sets do require you to do dungeons and buy from the dungeon armour vendor. The notable examples are from Ascalonian Catacombs used by almost all healers and from Twilight Arbor used by a few condi damage builds.

Just like sigils, you will need a or to retrieve your runes from exotic armour when you upgrade to ascended armour. Unluckily quite a few pieces of exotic armour aren’t salvageable so you might just have to buy a new set of runes.

Trinkets

The final part of gearing your build is to get some trinkets. Depending on the stats you want, acquiring them can vary wildly. You can either get trinkets that have a specific stat prefix or get trinkets that will allow you to select any stat prefix. Listed below are ways to obtain trinkets which already have a defined prefix.

  1. For Berserker trinkets the amulet and rings are quite easy to get but accessories can be difficult to obtain. The rings can be bought for 10 pristine fractal relics each which just requires a few days of doing fractals. Berserker amulets can be bought from laurel merchants for 30 laurels or from WvW laurel merchants for 20 laurels and 250 badges of honour if you feel like doing some WvW to subsidise the cost. Berserker accessories cost 12 guild commendations and 5 gold each.
  2. Harrier trinkets can be bought for laurels, trade contracts and s from heart vendors in Path of Fire maps. The amulet can also be obtained from the Path of Fire story act 2 story meta-achievement. There is only 1 Harrier accessory so you will need to get a second stat selectable accessory from another source and pick Harrier stats.
  3. There aren’t any Viper prefix trinkets so you will need to get all trinkets through stat-selectable sources.
  4. Diviner trinkets can be bought for laurels from vendors in Thunderhead Peaks. This does require owning All or Nothing (season 4 episode 5) which costs 200 gems if not unlocked. There is only 1 diviner ring and accessory available this way so you will need to acquire a second ring and accessory through stat-selectable sources.

For ascended backpieces the easiest source is the Raise the Banners achievements, available after completing the Path of Fire story. There are 3 different achievements depending on a choice you make during the story.

The easiest way to get ascended trinkets with selectable stats is using Living World episodes. Most Living World episodes from seasons 3 and 4 can provide you with a few trinkets. All trinkets require map currency and some map currency is a lot easier to acquire than others. The episode A Crack in the Ice (season 3 episode 3) has very easy to acquire map currency and allows you to get a backpack, an accessory, and a ring.

Many ascended trinkets are unique, which means that you can’t equip 2 of the same item. This can be circumvented by either infusing or attuning rings. Rings can be in 4 states: non upgraded, infused, attuned, and infused-attuned. If you have 2 unique rings that are in different states they can be equipped at once. Due to this you can acquire 2 rings from A Crack in the Ice, filling 4 out of the 6 trinket slots.

After A Crack in the Ice the next most useful episode is War Eternal (season 4 episode 6), which can provide you with an amulet, accessory, and a ring - 3 trinkets (4 if using the upgrade trick) which, when combined with A Crack in the Ice, will make a full set. The main downside to using Living World episodes is that each episode costs 200 gems if not already owned.

The next best option after Living World episodes is to do fractals and buy trinkets using pristine fractal relics. Stat selectable rings, amulets, and accessories can be bought for 100 pristine relics each.

Just like armour, trinkets for the two new prefixes available with End of Dragons, Dragon's and Ritualist's are unavailable from stat selectable sources. For ascended trinkets you will need to complete the End of Dragons story meta achievements which award one accessory and amulet each of Dragon's and Ritualist's stats along with a ring that you can select one of the two prefixes from. For other trinkets you will need to complete the Specialization Collection for your profession in order to unlock the Ministry-Approved {new elite spec} collection which gives you the ability to buy an amulet, ring and accessory for the two new stat types.

If you don’t want to get ascended trinkets, then you can simply buy exotic trinkets off the Trading Post:

  1. Berserker trinkets can be found by searching for Ruby Orichalcum. The trinkets are called , , and .
  2. A full set of Celestial trinkets can be acquired if you consume a Level 80 Boost on your character.
  3. Harrier trinkets can be found by searching for Brandspark. The trinkets are called , , and .
  4. Viper trinkets can be found by searching for Black Diamond Orichalcum. The trinkets are called , , and .
  5. Diviner trinkets can be found by searching for Serpentite Orichalcum. The trinkets are called , , and .

For exotic trinkets of End of Dragons stat-sets, Dragon's and Ritualist's you are able to obtain one amulet, ring and accessory per profession as part of your classes Specialization Collection. For the other ring and accessory you will need to buy them from the Trading Post, For Ritualist's you want to search for Polished-Resin Orichalcum and for Dragon's you want to search for Jade Orichalcum.

For exotic backpacks you can buy a Lunar New Year backpack from the Trading Post. They all have a name that follows the Lucky Great {animal} Lantern naming scheme, the cheapest one at the time will vary depending upon what the animal of the Lunar New Year is as the game will have had an influx of that backpack from the most recent Lunar New Year event.

It is currently completely impossible to obtain a backpack with the two new End of Dragons stat-sets, Dragon's and Ritualist's of either Ascended or Exotic rarity. It is possible to select these stats from a Legendary backpack however.

Food

Along with all the armour, weapons, and trinkets, your build will also need food and utility items to maximise effectiveness. The food and utility are listed on the build page.

Ascended food is unique in that a player that uses it will drop an interactable feast that allows anyone to share the same food. This can be very useful in a beginner group as you might only need 1 ascended feast for all your DPS players. Ascended food does require 500 Chef to craft however.

All non-ascended foods can be bought on the trading post or you can choose to craft them. Crafting is cheaper but does require levelling Chef. It is a better investment to level Chef than armour or weapon making crafting professions because food is constantly used as well as if you reach 500 chef then you can share your food with friends or random players in your squad.

Rotation practice

The final stage before being ready to raid is to practice your build’s rotation. Since you will likely not have the best gear at this point you will be at a disadvantage. Therefore, it is very important that you practice very thoroughly to overcome this disadvantage. You can outperform people with better gear as long as you commit yourself fully.

A guide on how to set up a golem is listed in the Special Forces Area guide.

The build pages for DPS classes and supports list the opener and rotation in addition to a rotation video. For more supportive healer roles there might not be a rotation listed on the page but you should read the build guide to figure out what skills you should prioritize and when to time certain skills. You can help your squad deal with damage or mechanics by using specific skills. You may find it helpful as a support build to read the Squad Mechanics guide to understand what you can do for your squad.

For all builds you should read through your traits and utilities as well as the build guide to understand how certain combos and parts of the build work together and complement each other.

Ready to raid!

Once you have practiced your build you should be ready to join a training guild run or a beginner raid through the Looking for Group tool. You can visit the explore section of the site which lists Training Guilds page for a list of training guilds that would be very happy to train you as you enter raids for the first time, you can also read the Joining Squads guide for advice on finding training runs or low requirement groups in the LFG tool.

You will probably find that you will encounter situations that you didn’t practice for or a mechanic might interrupt your rotation during a raid. Just go back and practice at the golem to learn how your rotation might change during an actual fight due to phase lengths and so on.

Afterword

You have now geared a character and started raiding but you are just at the start of your raiding journey. This is one of the most exciting times as you can experience all the raids for the first time and start to grasp how they work as you get more experience.

After you start raiding you will find that you can upgrade your gear more easily. Raids award you with Magnetite Shards and Gaeting Crystals that will allow you to buy a variety of ascended items from the Basic Magnetite Exchange Operative in the Aerodrome. You will also have a chance to get ascended gear drops from raid encounters. These can be used to first upgrade your character to full ascended gear but also will allow you to gear other characters that will help you raid more effectively. Maybe you geared a power DPS as your first character and you want to try a condi DPS build or a healer next.

One collection that will help you greatly with gearing is the Envoy Armour I collection which will give you a full set of stat-selectable ascended armour for very little gold investment. It allows you to get an ascended armour set on your first character or to help gear a second one. The following collection Envoy Armour II gives another free set of ascended armour which is the precursor item to Legendary armour, it is very important you don't stat swap the refined armour set from Envoy Armour II as it will stop it from being used as a precursor for legendary armour.

As you raid more you might consider levelling certain crafting professions such as Chef to craft your own food. Raiding will also give you a lot of experience as well as mastery points so you can train your masteries quite easily.

Once you have full sets of ascended gear you can also buy infusions from the raid currency vendor and slot them into your ascended gear to complete your builds fully. This is more for min-maxing and is more of a personal choice for if you want your stats to be as high as possible and feel like you are contributing as much as possible to your raid group.

Happy raiding and thanks for reading!

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