Attributes, traits, boons, conditions and the combat puzzle

Hello all. I’ve been wrestling to get traits, boons conditions and potential builds straight in my head. So what follows is my own handy guide to building up a character in this game. Perhaps it will be useful to you! Or maybe it is old hat to all you gamer pros out there. Well, it amuses me anyways. :P More after the break.

Obviously your choice of profession, weapon and utility skills are the main thing determining how you’ll play. I won’t belabor it here. But let’s assume you know your profession already, but also want to customize the style of fighter you will be. How you do build that up in GW2?

Based on how you want to fight you invest in attributes that support that style. Attributes are characteristics which improve a character’s effectiveness in combat. Each profession has access to ten attributes, with nine being common across all professions and one being profession-specific.

Ways to invest: trait lines, equipment bonuses, consumables, and utility skill choice (many signets increase attributes).

The main way to customize the way your character fights is by investing points in trait lines. For each profession, the four main attributes (plus one profession specific) are combined with the five secondary attributes, giving you five lines which force you to trade-off between different ways of fighting. Each line goes up to 30 points, and you only get 70 over the life of your character, so choices must be made. Besides the attribute boosts, investing in lines unlocks minor traits that have set effects, and major traits slots that you can choose. If you’ve been theory-crafting on some of the websites available, be prepared to see a lot of changes in these on release. They are apparently in flux at the moment. (Try this excellent site to play with your build).

Main Attributes: Automatically increase as you level, can also be enhanced via traits, equipment bonuses, or consumables that can be bought with gold/karma or crafted.

  • Power: every point increases attack statistic by one point. Note that this does not affect condition damage.
  • Precision: increases critical hit chance.
  • Toughness: every point increases armor by one point
  • Vitality: every point increases maximum health by ten points.

Rumour has it (from Mozu) that “Toughness” is not really worth it relative to Vitality, as it doesn’t mitigate condition damage. I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Secondary Attributes: Can only be enhanced via traits or equipment bonuses

  • Boon duration: Improves the duration of all boons applied by the character.
  • Condition damage: Improves the damage done by conditions like burning, poison, confusion, and bleeding. Key if you want a condition build, as power does not affect condition damage.
  • Condition duration: Improves the duration of all conditions inflicted by the character.
  • Critical damage: Improves the damage multiplier on critical strikes.
  • Healing power:  Improves all outgoing heals that your character does, including self heals.

Profession Attributes:  Only increased by spending trait points in a corresponding trait line, as far as I know. They are:  Willpower, Brawn, Ingenuity,  Empathy,  Cunning,   Intelligence, Guile and Hunger. Check out their effects on the wiki.

Now, for the most part attributes play out in the background – they aren’t something you activate or apply to an opponent on the battle field. This role is taken by boons and conditions (or as everyone calls them buffs and debuffs). These are generally caused by weapon skills or utility skills, whereas attributes are more passive. There are exceptions though. For example, for the warrior, the Signet of Might passively increases your power (an attribute that increases damage), but when active grants you might (a boon that temporarily increases damage, presumably by more than the passive effect). I’m not going to go into all the boons and conditions in details here though. The wiki has you covered.

So how on earth does one fit all of these pieces together to build the ass-kicking character of your dreams? Well here’s how I sort things based on my understanding of the game so far. Some of the categories might seem a bit weird, but I wanted to incorporate the importance of movement in the game – thus we have sections for dodging, movement speed, and control and such. Yes, yes, I made a table. It’s what I do.

Damage, defense or control mechanism Attributes that impact
Related boons that boost Related conditions that reduce
Straight up damage Power Might Blind, Confusion, Weakness
Critical hits Precision, Critical damage Fury n/a
Condition damage Condition damage Condition duration Might n/a
Dodging Some major or minor traits are related to endurance Vigor Immobilize, Weakness
Escape and movement Boon duration (boosts swiftness), Condition duration (for stopping the other guy from running away) Swiftness Chilled, Crippled, Fear, Immobilized, Stun
Armor Toughness Protection, Retaliation Vulnerability
Healing – self & others Vitality, Healing,  Boon Duration Regeneration Poison. Also, Chilled & Confusion make make it harder to heal by affecting skill use

For another perspective, and some more math, check out this post on GW2 Hub for attributes, this one for conditions, and this one for boons. They tend take more of a PvP perspective, but still worth a read.

And there you have it! Thinking about things this way has helped me come up with some hypothetical warrior builds that I might try. Feel free to add your thoughts below!

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3 Responses to Attributes, traits, boons, conditions and the combat puzzle

  1. Neeks says:

    Good stuff. Yah, it’s partly old hat to those of us who have been gaming, but I’ve been finding myself going back to the wiki for “what does that do again?” I think GW2 has added and/or simplified alot of it and this layout is nice. I also went further than the front page in Russian on the build editor, and it’s designed pretty well, Comrade. lolol I also can’t believe I missed the whole profession specific attribute, or at least didn’t delve into it on the builds much. Two weeks to go!

  2. Neeks says:

    Hmm, my whole comment wasn’t added. Simplified some things for me, good write up, thanx!

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